(also spelled homśopathy or homoeopathy) from
the Greek words hómoios (similar) and páthos
(suffering), is a method of alternative medicine that attempts
to treat "like with like." The term "homeopathy"
was coined by the German physician Christian Friedrich
Samuel Hahnemann (1755–1843) and first appeared in print
in 1807, although he began outlining his beliefs of medical
similars in a series of articles and monographs in 1796.
attempts to treat the sick with extremely diluted agents that,
in undiluted doses, produce similar symptoms in the healthy.
However, processes used cause the dose to be exactly zero
in most cases, meaning there is not a single active molecule
present in the solution. Its adherents and practitioners assert
that the therapeutic potency of a remedy can be increased
by serial dilution of the drug, combined with succussion,
or vigorous shaking. Homeopathy regards diseases as
morbid derangements of the organism, and states that instances
of disease in different people differ fundamentally. Homeopathy
views a sick person as having a dynamic disturbance in a hypothetical
"vital force", a disturbance which, homeopaths claim,
underlies standard medical diagnoses of named diseases.
that homeopathy has more efficacy than a placebo is equivocal.
The theory that extreme dilution makes drugs more powerful
by enhancing their "spirit-like medicinal powers"
is inconsistent with the laws of chemistry and physics and
the observed dose-response relationships of conventional drugs;
critics of homeopathy frequently describe it as pseudoscience
and quackery. Placebo-controlled clinical trials have given
mixed results, but most have methodological problems, with
better-quality trials (e.g. those more likely to use double-blind
techniques) giving negative results. Several examples of publications
in high ranking journals, that are later withdrawn, are known.
Additionally, cases have been reported of life-threatening
complications resulting from attempts to treat serious conditions
solely with homeopathic remedies.
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