What is homeopathy?

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Homeopathy is one of the best known forms of alternative medicine - and certainly one of the most controversial. Does it work or does it not work? Is it really only possible to approach the decision between homeopathy and conventional medicine with "either ... or ..."? The discussion about Globuli & Co. heats up the mind. In the following we shed light on what is behind the homeopathic remedies.

Samuel Hahnemann as the inventor of homeopathy

Dr. Christian Samuel Friedrich Hahnemann, the father of homeopathy, would certainly have had a lot to say about this discussion. Finally, the all-round scientist, born on April 10, 1755, was known as a critical researcher and attentive observer.

Hahnemann was, like many scholars of his time, a highly educated and curious person. He studied pharmacy and medicine and was unwilling to believe everything he read.

Treat similar with similar

This attitude eventually led to the discovery of the principle of homeopathy: treat something similar with similar.

Because he did not want to believe the reports in a pharmacist magazine, Cinchona help against malaria, Hahnemann made a self-experiment and consumed a few grams of cinchona bark. Just a few hours later, the physician developed typical malaria symptoms such as fever attacks with chills, headaches and sweating.

After numerous further experiments on the sick and healthy, Samuel Hahnemann formulated his treatment principle in 1796.

The term "homeopathy" attacks him: "homoion" is the Greek word for "similar", "pathos" stands for "suffering".

Three guiding principles of homeopathy

Homeopathy is based on different guiding principles:

  1. similars
  2. potentiation
  3. proving

The first principle of homeopathy - the already mentioned similars - Based on the knowledge that a substance that causes certain symptoms of disease in a healthy person, can cure a sick person who suffers from similar symptoms.

For example, those who suffer from insomnia and palpitations can be helped with a homeopathic coffee infusion. If you have a fever, you can get a remedy that raises body temperature in healthy people.

Potentiation: Increase in effectiveness by dilution

Homeopathy works with natural products - today around 2,500 homeopathic medicines are mainly derived from plant, mineral and animal substances. Many natural basic substances, such as iron or belladonna, which are used in homeopathy, are initially highly toxic. Therefore they will diluted.

Hahnemann found that the healing power was increased by dilution. One possible explanation for this effect came from Korean scientists1, who discovered that the dissolved molecules are not distributed evenly in the solvent as previously thought, but clump together and join together to form larger components. The larger the dilution, the larger the lumps became.

Hahnemann called this approach "Potentiation". The dilution is gradual, the funds are triturated or "shaken" again and again.

Homeopathic proving

According to Hahnemann, the exact knowledge of the homeopathic remedies and their effects is indispensable. Unlike traditional medicine, where drugs are tested on the sick, the principle of homeopathic proving is that healthy people take the homeopathic remedies and note down the symptoms, reactions or changes that they notice in themselves.

During Hahnemann's lifetime, numerous so-called "drug pictures" of various homeopathic remedies were recorded - even today many descriptions of their effects date back to this time.

Which homeopathic remedy is the right one?

Closely linked to the similarity principle is the need to carry out a highly individualized treatment of the patient. This individual principle helps to find the right drug in the right dosage for each patient.

That requires time and attention. Consequently, a first examination with a non-medical practitioner or doctor with additional homeopathic training may take two to three hours.

Openness required in the treatment

In order for the treating homeopath to prescribe the right remedy in the right dosage, he has to deal intensively with his patient.

Conversely, the patient must be willing to face his complaints and illness. This includes the observation of one's own way of life, the "listening" in the body that helps the homeopath, for example, to better differentiate a chronic cough.

Does the cough only occur at night? After certain meals or activities? Is he associated with certain feelings or behaviors? In the first consultation Everything comes on the table - so much openness and navel show you have to get involved, if you want to perform a homeopathic treatment.

What does D6 or C4 mean?

Such abbreviations refer to dilution factors of homeopathic remedies. The production of homeopathic remedies is an art in itself, following the rules developed by Hahnemann.

Here are pressed juice from fresh plants 1: 1 mixed with alcohol or dried plant parts for ten days in alcohol inserted and then filtered. So the active ingredients are to be pulled out of the plant cells.

Solid materials such as high-grade limestone or gold will last for one hour with just as much lactose Triturated in a mortar and the resulting substances then diluted in alcohol, water or lactose.

The individual letters in the different powers, for example D6 or C4, stand for the different dilutions:

  • at "D" is diluted 1:10
  • at "C" is diluted in the ratio 1: 100
  • with "LM" or "Q" is diluted in the ratio 1: 50,000

The number behind the letter indicates how often it has been diluted. If C4 is used, this means: 1 ml of mother tincture is added to 99 ml of alcohol and mixed accordingly. One milliliter of this tincture is then returned to 99 ml of solution and mixed. This process is repeated four times in total.

Globules, drops and other forms

The solution thus obtained can be applied either in the form of drops, as a tablet, suppository or ointment.

The small globules, also called Globuli (lat. Globus - the ball), are actually made of lactose and get a spray coating of the tincture.
Homeopathic remedies are usually available only at the pharmacy, but over the counter.

Homeopathy as an alternative to conventional medicine?

Homeopathy is one of the most popular alternative treatments for patients. Many people like to go to Globuli & Co. to treat illnesses. Under no circumstances should a homeopathic treatment be carried out without professional support.

Homeopathic doctors have completed a medical school study and have completed a recognized and prescribed further education by the regional medical associations.

The term "homeopath" is not protected. Naturopaths Therefore, they may open a "practice for homeopathy" even without special training. However, a good homeopath will readily provide information about his education and qualifications.

Homeopathy usually not on health certificate

The statutory health insurance usually does not cover the treatment costs for homeopathic remedies. Only in the context of the individual case decision is the homeopathic anamnesis (case study) paid by the statutory health insurance funds. Homeopathic medicines are also reimbursed only in exceptional cases.

Private supplementary insurance usually reimburses the costs of a homeopathic treatment.

Effectiveness in the criticism

To date, the effectiveness of homeopathy is considered not scientifically proven. Numerous studies and meta-analyzes2,3 have studied the effects of homeopathic remedies and found no effect beyond the placebo effect. Although some studies seem to prove a health effect of homeopathic remedies, these studies are mostly criticized for their methodological weaknesses.

Moreover, there is no scientific justification why homeopathy should work - on the contrary: Hahnemann's principles partially contradict the laws of nature. A criticism is that the funds are sometimes diluted so much that no molecule of the original drug can be detected in it.

According to critics, homeopathy is therefore not only ineffective, but also risky: Doctors warn against treating especially serious illnesses exclusively with homeopathic remedies. If a conventional medical treatment in favor of homeopathy is delayed too long, it may possibly be too late for life-saving measures (such as surgical removal of a tumor).

Conclusion: homeopathy can support, not replace

Despite the lack of scientific evidence, homeopathy has many followers. Even children and animals are often treated with the supposedly gentle medicine. It should be remembered, however, that homeopathy, according to the current state of science Do not replace conventional medical treatment can.

However, after consultation with the attending physician, homeopathy can supportive be used. It is important to consult an experienced homeopathic doctor. Because even homeopathic remedies can sometimes serious side effects if the remedies are not potentiated enough and the active ingredients involved cause poisoning, allergic reactions or drug interactions.

Sources and studies

  1. Samala, Shashadhar and Geckeler, Kurt E. (2000): Cyclodextrin-fullerenes: a new class of water-soluble fullerenes.
  2. Australian Government, National Health at Medical Research Council (2015): NHMRC Information Paper: Evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy for treating health conditions.
  3. Shang, Aijing et al. (2005): Are the clinical effects of homeopathic placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homeopathy and allopathy.

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