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Homeopathic medicine is an alternative treatment regimen in which minute doses of an active ingredient, which in larger amounts would produce symptoms in healthy persons similar to those of the disease, are given in order to stimulate the healing process.

The concept is that like cures like, known in Latin as similia similibus curantur. If you take a substance that can cause a specific symptom when given in large doses, if you dilute that same substance, the diluted solution can be used to treat these symptoms. A common potency is to mix one part of an extract of the ingredient with 99 parts water or alcohol and repeat that process 200 times.

Another concept often used in homeopathy is called the law of minimum dose, which holds that the lower the dose of the medication, the greater its effectiveness. Homeopathic products are often so diluted that no trace of the original substance can be detected.

For example in treating a poison ivy reaction, a homeopathic practitioner might take the poison ivy, dilute it through the potentization process described above, and use the diluted solution to treat the rash caused by the exposure to poison ivy.

In the case of poison ivy, the plant itself can be diluted and used to treat the rash. For other conditions, the homeopathic practitioner would use a plant or mineral that, in larger doses, would be likely to produce symptoms similar to those caused by the disease or condition that is being treated.

Homeopathic products may be produced from plants, minerals, animal parts, or synthetic substances, such as arsenic oxide, sodium chloride, snake venom, opium, and various hormones.

Homeopathy can be used to treat a wide variety of diseases or conditions, including allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome, colds, coughs, depression, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, nausea, premenstrual syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, scrapes, and toothaches.

In order to determine the treatment, a homeopathic practitioner will seek to determine the kind of symptoms the patient is experiencing, where it is located, how long the symptoms have persisted, what it feels like, the time of day in which the symptoms are present, and if there are any other symptoms associated with it.

The goal of a homeopathic consultation is to determine the physical, mental, and spiritual symptoms that the patient is experiencing, and to decide upon a remedy that will cure the totality of the patient's symptoms, which is usually prescribed as a single dose or only a few doses.

Developed in Germany in the 18th century, homeopathy is common in several European countries. Although it is not as popular in the United States, neither it is unknown.

Samuel Christian Hahnemann, a German physician, is known as the father of homeopathy. After much experimentation, he found that when he took a small amount of cinchona bark, which contained quinine, the drug used in the treatment of malaria, he experienced the symptoms of malaria. From this start, he arrived at the idea that drugs that cause specific symptoms can be used to cure diseases that cause the same symptoms.

Homeopathy is considered a legitimate alternative to traditional medicine by some, while others define it as a pseudoscience, quackery, or a New Age practice. Detractors will attribute positive outcomes from homeopathic treatments to a placebo effect.



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