Homeopathy is a type of alternative medicine that uses preparations containing substances that cause similar symptoms that are then diluted to treat disease. Homeopaths take a holistic approach to healing, considering a patient’s entire medical history. Many conventional medical practitioners believe homeopathic solutions have little more than a placebo effect.
Homeopathic principles began with a German doctor named Samuel Hahnemann in 1796, though the idea began with medieval doctor Paracelsus as a reaction to what he thought to be cruel medical practices of the time.
At the time, medical science used complex mixtures for drugs and supported practices such as bloodletting and purging. Hahnemann advocated simple drugs, looked at disease as not only a physical, but spiritual malady and supported holistic healing such as good diet and exercise.
Law of Similars
Hahnemann based homeopathy on the “law of similars” where the most efficacious drugs first brought on similar symptoms as the disease that was being treated. By strengthening this part of the body, it would ultimately reject the disease being treated.
Homeopathy was most popular in the 19th century. Homeopathic schools opened throughout Europe. But not all physicians believed in the practice. Many famous doctors and authors, such as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. spoke out publicly about the practice.
By 1867, most doctors began to abandoning the idea of homeopathy. The practice would go into decline until the 1970s when it suddenly would become popular again.