Homeopathy is a natural system of treatment where medicines (called remedies) are prescribed and matched to an individual's unique symptoms of his or her disease. The most important principle underpinning homeopathy is the Law of Similars--the idea that like cures like (from Hippocrates) which drives the matching process and case taking. After all, the symptoms exhibited by the patient are not the problem, but rather, hint at the deeper root cause that the patient's body and healing force have not yet been able to effectively address.
Much like the usage of aspirin in pain relief for many years, frustratingly, we do not yet understand the mechanism of action for how homeopathy works. There are numerous theories as to how it works with no single theory being proven. One of the struggles in studying homeopathy as a discipline is that good homeopathic prescriptions are individualized, rather than condition driven. This not only makes it difficult to compare results to placebo responses, but also hinges upon the skill of the prescriber. What we do know, is that it does work and good research consistently demonstrates this result. For more on homeopathic research that is being done around the world, check out the Homeopathy Research Institute.
Yes. The founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann, practiced medicine in a time when Mercury poisoning was a common treatment for Syphillis, blood letting with leaches were used at many the bedside, and it was dangerous to have almost any kind of surgery or procedure. For a while, he quit medicine altogether and worked translating medical texts because he thought medicine caused much more harm than good. When he began practicing medicine again homeopathically, he decided that he would rather be less effective, than cause harm to his patients, thus he began extensively diluting his medicines to make them safe. Contrary to his expectations, he discovered that the diluted remedies appeared to trigger healing more effectively. This finding gave rise to his second principle of homeopathy which was to utilize the minimum dose. Today,
remedies continue to be serially diluted in this manner and are sold over the counter in health food stores and are incredibly safe and can be utilized with infants, pregnant women, children, the elderly, the immune compromised, and anybody else.
Remedies are made out of all sorts of things with medicinal value from herbs, to the roots of plants, to mushrooms, to things that would be toxic if they weren't diluted and made homeopathically--such as snake venom. There is a standardized process for diluting and making remedies that homeopathic pharmacies follow around the world. The finished product is put onto sucrose pills or in water tincture form dependent upon the patient's needs.
What are the Remedies Made out of?