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Biomedical Research

What is Homeopathy? Does it Work?

We often hear about forms of alternative medicine, which are medications not usually prescribed by doctors. Some of these have been popularized recently, while others have been passed down for generations. Out of all of these, homeopathy has remained one of the most prominent variants of alternative medicine. Why is it so popular, and is there any merit to it?

By Harshal Chinthala

Published 12:30 AM EST, Fri July 9, 2021

Introduction

Homeopathy is a practice developed in the 1700s, and has become highly popularized over the years. Medicine has changed greatly over time. During the time, homeopathy was developed as bloodletting, which involved the leakage of blood, was a common treatment. People began to turn to other alternative medical practices, such as homeopathy. Since then homeopathy has grown exponentially. Believers claim that homeopathy can be used to address numerous health issues, such as allergies, arthritis, migraines, and other common issues. Others even go as far as to claim that homeopathy can treat serious illnesses like cancer and heart disease. This article will investigate whether or not  these claims have any merit? 

What is Homeopathy?

Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine. Alternative medicine includes medical treatments that are not traditionally used. Other examples of alternative medicine include acupuncture, herbal medications, and energy therapy. Usually, alternative medicine is used in addition to traditional medications as they are not usually worthy replacements for regular medication prescribed by a doctor. Alternative medicine practices are very different and distinct from standard practices, which makes them shunned by much of the medical community. People who support homeopathy are among those who argue for more acceptance of alternative medicine as a viable treatment option. There have been people who have been successful with alternative treatment options, such as homeopathy. When considering alternative medicine, you should keep in mind the benefits and risks that correlate with the treatment. Additionally, keep in mind any possible side effects. 

Homeopathy operates on the principle that “like cures like”, and that the body will eventually heal itself. In other words, anything that causes symptoms in a healthy person may be used to treat sickness with identical signs in very little quantity. The goal is to activate the body’s immune system. Homeopathic doctors are known as homeopaths, and they create numerous medications to try and treat their patients. Homeopaths hope to create a personalized treatment plan for their patients. This is something good about homeopathic practices that are not found in traditional medicine practices. A homeopath will ask you a series of questions about your cognitive, emotional, and physical health during your consultation. After this, they will give you the medication that best fits all of your symptoms. As a result, the therapy will then be customized for you. To create medication, homeopaths utilize a process called potentization, by which ingredients are weakened through water or alcohol. The notion is that diluting and agitating the chemicals activates and amplifies their curative properties. One part of the solution is combined with nine parts of water, which dilutes the water. This same process of nine parts water and one part ingredient is repeated over and over again until the potency level is reached. Doing this twice would result in a 2x potency, 3 times would be 3x, and so forth. Many homeopathic medicines are created to very high potency. Most homeopathic treatments are so diluted that not a single atom of the active component remains. Over-the-counter homeopathic treatments are also available at certain drugstores and pharmacies. The manufacturer determines the dose and composition of these items. 

Homeopathy and The Placebo Effect

Some people believe that homeopathy does help themself. There have also been reports of homeopathy working on younger children. However, much of the scientific community seems to believe that homeopathy working, is simply the placebo effect. The placebo effect is when a certain improvement is seen, but it is not due to the treatment that the person believes. In other terms, someone may believe that something is healing them when their bodies are healing by themselves. Medical placebos are usually identified by a lack of an active ingredient in them. Scientists suggest that a treatment that contains no active component should have no impact on the body. when symptoms improve because you feel the medication is effective rather than because it is. This notion can cause the brain to produce chemicals that temporarily alleviate pain or other symptoms. Since many homeopathic medications are diluted so much that there is barely any trace of an active ingredient left. For this reason, homeopathy is connected to the placebo effect and is commonly believed by medical professionals to not work. Also, homeopathy heavily depends on time, and after a certain amount of time, your body will naturally cure itself of most diseases. The patient may believe their health improved due to homeopathy when in actuality, the body healed itself. 

Conclusion

There are certain aspects of homeopathy that are distinct and good. One of these is the level of personalization that the treatment has. A session with a homeopath might last several hours and is usually one on one. This experience creates a level of empathy that is not present in other forms of treatment. The idea that someone cares for your wellbeing impacts the patient greatly. In conclusion, homeopathy may not work from a medical standpoint, but the level of personalization in homeopathic treatment is admirable. 

Harshal Chinthala, Youth Medical Journal 2021

References

Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Get the Facts on CAM. (2006, July 26). MedicineNet. https://www.medicinenet.com/alternative_medicine/article.htm#questions_to_ask_your_doctor_

Homeopathy | Michigan Medicine. (2020, September 23). Uofmhealth. https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/aa104729specHomeopathy: What It Is, Benefits, Risks, and More. (2016, December 13). WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/balance/what-is-homeopathy\

By Harshal Chinthala

Harshal Chinthala is student in Kansas City. He is interested in the fields of neurology and cardiology.

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