Who invented homeopathy?

Homeopathy, the alternative form of medicinal treatment which uses diluted solutions containing natural substances to treat a range of symptoms, is generally thought to have been created by a German physician named Samuel Hahnemann at the end of the 18th century.

After reading that a kind of Peruvian tree bark called Cinchona was claimed to treat Malaria, Hahnemann found that imbibing it as a healthy individual caused similar symptoms. This experience led him to consider how this idea could be used for medical purposes.

What does ‘Like Cures Like’ mean?

‘Like cures like’ or ‘similia similibus curentur’ is the doctrine which forms the central belief of the concept of homeopathy. It refers to the idea that as a large dose of a given substance, usually a plant or mineral, can induce symptoms of an ailment, a small amount of the same substance can cure or prevent them.

The word ‘homeopathy’ is a derivation of the greek phrase for ‘similar suffering’.

How are homeopathic remedies prepared?

A ‘pure’ dose of a substance used in homeopathy could be toxic or cause an adverse reaction in the patient so any materials used are diluted several times over to reduce that reaction. In some cases there may be no trace of the substance left in the solution. Practitioners of homeopathy believe that the more a treatment is diluted the more effective it can be.

Dilution and Succussion

In the preparation of homeopathic remedies the principal ingredient is diluted in distilled water or alcohol. Most commonly for over the counter treatments, each step of the process involves diluting one part of the ingredient with 99 parts water or alcohol and has either been diluted six or thirty times. These are known as 6c and 30c medicines.

Along with each dilution, the solution is shaken vigorously using a process called succussion. This shaking is thought to activate the effectiveness of the treatment. The container is also struck against a soft elastic surface as it is shaken.

What is a tincture?

There are two types of tincture; herbal tinctures are a commercially available form of herbal extract, which can be added to drinks in very small amounts. Drops can also be placed under the tongue, meaning the extract can enter the bloodstream more quickly.

A mother tincture is used as the basis for further dilutions and succussion and is more generally used by homeopathic practitioners in the creation of remedies.