Homeopathy

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Homeopathy is an alternative medical system that was developed in Germany more than 200 years ago. Homeopathy is based on the theory that "like cures like” – that is, if a substance causes a symptom in a healthy person, giving the person a very small amount of the same substance may cure the illness.

A homeopathic health practitioner generally prescribes pills or liquid mixtures containing only a little of an active ingredient (usually a plant or mineral) for treatment of disease. While there is evidence to show that homeopathic medicines cause biological effects and may be helpful, research has not yet been able to explain how homeopathic solutions work.

This section provides an overview of what homeopathy is, including the health conditions homeopathy is most often used to treat. The page Homeopathy Therapies and Treatments also gives you more information about what to expect during a homeopathic consultation.

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Homeopathy, also known as homeopathic medicine, is an alternative medical system that was developed in Germany more than 200 years ago. Homeopathy is based on the theory that "like cures like." That is, if a substance causes a symptom in a healthy person, giving the person a very small amount of the same substance may cure the illness. Therefore a homeopathic dose attempts to stimulate the body to recover itself by enhancing the body's normal healing and self-regulatory processes.

A homeopathic health practitioner generally prescribes pills or liquid mixtures containing only a little of an active ingredient (usually a plant or mineral) for treatment of disease. These are known as highly diluted or "potentiated" substances. According to the Society of Homeopaths , there is some evidence to show that homeopathic medicines cause biological effects and may be helpful, although research has not yet been able to explain how homeopathic solutions work.

Historically, people have used homeopathy to maintain health and treat a wide range of long-term illnesses. However, homeopathy is most often used to treat acute illnesses, like colds, ear infections, migraines, and sore throats, as well as chronic conditions, like asthma, depression, autism, and arthritis.

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Like conventional doctors, history taking, examination and investigation, are all important in helping homeopathic doctors establish a diagnosis. However, as well as asking about your symptoms, a homeopathic doctor will be interested in you as an individual and the unique way in which your symptoms affect you. Be prepared to answer questions about your lifestyle, eating habits and preferences, temperament, personality, sleep patterns and medical history. These help the homeopath to form a complete picture of you, which will be matched to the symptoms of your illness in order to prescribe a particular type and strength of homeopathic medicine.  As a guide, your first appointment could take anything up to an hour, with follow-up appointments typically lasting 30 minutes.

At the end of the consultation your homeopathic doctor will give you a prescription and advise you how often to take the medicine. Homeopathic medicines, often called remedies, are prepared by specialist pharmacies using a careful process of dilution and succussion (a specific form of vigorous shaking). This process is undertaken to remove any toxic potential of the active ingredient, usually a plant or mineral, and to release its therapeutic energies. The aim is that the homeopathic medicines act upon the immune system and restorative energies of the body so that it heals itself.

According to the British Homeopathic Association , homeopathy is usually taken in tablet or pillule form, but is also available in liquid and powder form. Homeopathic gels or cream may also be prescribed for some conditions.

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