Homeopathy: What You Should Know

If you’re looking into alternative medicine, you may have encountered the idea of homeopathic medicine. Often tragically confused with holistic medicine, homeopathic medicine is quite its own thing.

While holistic and homeopathic medicine both focus on natural remedies, holistic medicine is both more scientific and more spiritual in nature, as well as more widely accepted by the medical community.

While it may or may not be right for you, homeopathic medicine is definitely worth being familiar with.

“An estimated 5 million adults and 1 million children used homeopathy in the previous year” (2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)).

What is Homeopathic Medicine?

The basics of homeopathic medicine were developed by Dr. C.F. Samuel Hanahmann, a German physician active from the late eighteenth to early nineteenth centuries. The basis of homeopathy is that the body is largely able to heal itself, despite the fact that sometimes it needs a bit of a nudge in the right direction.

Hanahmann set out three principles of homeopathic medicine:

  • The understanding of the cause of a condition can help to cure it
  • The smallest possible dose should always be used
  • Treatments should be prescribed one at a time

While many are skeptical of homeopathic medicine’s approach to the first principal – Hanahmann studied it by giving healthy people substances to make them I’ll and then trying to cure them – the second two principles have greatly expanded our understanding of a large variety of plants and substances over the last century and a half.

These principles also mean that overdoses and conflicting prescriptions, both significant problems in institutional medicine, are virtually impossible in homeopathic medicine.

Homeopathic Medicine treats illnesses based on whether they are acute or chronic in terms of duration, with acute illnesses being brief and chronic illnesses being more prolonged or possibly transient but recurring.

While homeopathic medicine is usually considered a form of alternative medicine, practitioners certified by the American Board of Homeotheraputics must be licensed medical doctors. You should always know a practitioner’s credentials before seeing them for treatment and do enough research to be confident with their education and experience. That goes for any school of medicine, not just homeopathic medicine.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced in 2016 that “it will hold efficacy and safety claims for over-the-counter homeopathic drugs to the same standard as products who make similar claims. Furthermore, companies producing homeopathic drugs need to present competent and reliable scientific evidence as required by the FTC for any claims related to health or the products ability to treat any particular condition.”

What are its benefits?

As is the case with other schools of alternative medicine, homeopathic medicine is often able to offer hope to people with conditions that conventional medicine is unable or reluctant to help. Further, practitioners of homeopathic medicine are always able to refer patients to other doctors or specialists when necessary or appropriate.

The nature of the cures used in homeopathic medicine have the benefit of being safe, inexpensive, and often widely available.

Still, it is important to inform all of the healthcare providers that you see about everything that you are taking, regardless of the size of the dose, or how natural it is. In some cases, even natural herbs and oils can interact with other prescriptions.


A 2015 evidence assessment conducted by the Australian government’s National Health and Medical Research Council concluded that “there is no reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective for any health condition.” (Australia’s National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC); Homeopathy Review; 2012 to 2015; published 11 March 2015).

According to the National Center For Complementary and Integrative Health, “Homeopathy is a controversial topic. A number of its key concepts don’t agree with fundamental scientific concepts.”

How to prepare for your visit to a homeopathic medicine practitioner

If you are new to homeopathic medicine, the preparation is similar to how you might prepare for a visit to your regular doctor. You should be prepared to answer questions about your personal medical history as well as family history. You may also be asked about your diet, sleep patterns, and digestive health.

Most of all, however, you should be prepared to answer questions related to the reasons for your visit. What is your complaint, or what are your symptoms? How long have you felt this way? Has another doctor diagnosed it or prescribed anything?

Visiting a homeopathic medicine practitioner for the first time may be different from what you are used to, but it shouldn’t be any more uncomfortable than visiting your usual healthcare provider. Hopefully, you will also find that the treatment that you receive is just as professional and just as effective as you have come to expect from conventional medicine, if not more so.