Homeopathy today is a rapidly growing system and is being practiced almost all over the world. In India it has become a household name due the safety of its pills and gentleness of its cure. A rough study states that about 10% of the Indian population solely depend Homeopathy for their health care needs and is considered as the second most popular system of medicine in the Country.
It is more than a century and a half now that Homeopathy is being practised in India. It has blended so well into the roots and traditions of the country that it has been recognised as one of the National System of Medicine and plays a very important role in providing health care to a large number of people. Its strength lies in its evident effectiveness as it takes a holistic approach towards the sick individual through promotion of inner balance at mental, emotional, spiritual and physical levels.
The word ‘Homoeopathy’ is derived from two Greek words, Homois meaning similar and pathos meaning suffering.Homoeopathy simply means treating diseases with remedies, prescribed in minute doses, which are capable of producing symptoms similar to the disease when taken by healthy people.It is based on the natural law of healing- "Similia Similibus Curantur” which means"likes are cured by likes”.It was given a scientific basis by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann ( 1755-1843) in the early 19th century.It has been serving suffering humanity for over two centuries and has withstood the upheavals of time and has emerged as a time tested therapy, for the scientific principles propounded by Hahnemann are natural and well proven and continue to be followed with success even today.
“Remedy” is a technical term in homeopathy that refers to a substance which has been prepared with a particular procedure and intended for patient use; it is not to be confused with the generally accepted use of the word, which means "a medicine or therapy that cures disease or relieves pain".
Homeopathic practitioners rely on two types of reference when prescribing remedies: Materia medica and repertories. A homeopathic Materia medica is a collection of "drug pictures", organised alphabetically by “remedy,” that describes the symptom patterns associated with individual remedies. A homeopathic repertory is an index of disease symptoms that lists remedies associated with specific symptoms.
Homeopathy uses many animal, plant, mineral, and synthetic substances in its remedies. Examples include Arsenicum album (arsenic oxide), Natrum muriaticum (sodium chloride or table salt), Lachesis muta (the venom of the bushmaster snake), Opium, and Thyroidinum (thyroid hormone). Homeopaths also use treatments called nosodes (from the Greek nosos, disease) made from diseased or pathological products such as fecal, urinary, and respiratory discharges, blood, and tissue. Homeopathic remedies prepared from healthy specimens are called sarcodes.
Mortar and pestle used for grinding insoluble solids, including quartz and oyster shells, into homeopathic remedies.
In producing remedies for diseases, homeopaths use a process called dynamisation or potentisation whereby a substance is diluted with alcohol or distilled water and then vigorously shaken by ten hard strikes against an elastic body in a process called succussion. Hahnemann advocated using substances that produce symptoms like those of the disease being treated, but found that material doses intensified the symptoms and exacerbated the condition, sometimes causing dangerous toxic reactions. He therefore specified that the substances be diluted. Hahnemann believed that the succussion activated the vital energy of the diluted substance and made it stronger. To facilitate succussion, Hahnemann had a saddle-maker construct a special wooden striking board covered in leather on one side and stuffed with horsehair. Insoluble solids, such as quartz and oyster shell, are diluted by grinding them with lactose (trituration).
Three logarithmic potency scales are in regular use in homeopathy. Hahnemann created the centesimal or C scale, diluting a substance by a factor of 100 at each stage. The centesimal scale was favored by Hahnemann for most of his life. A 2C dilution requires a substance to be diluted to one part in one hundred, and then some of that diluted solution diluted by a further factor of one hundred. This works out to one part of the original substance in 10,000 parts of the solution. A 6C dilution repeats this process six times, ending up with the original material diluted by a factor of 100−6=10−12 (one part in one trillion or 1/1,000,000,000,000). Higher dilutions follow the same pattern. In homeopathy, a solution that is more dilute is described as having a higher potency, and more dilute substances are considered by homeopaths to be stronger and deeper-acting remedies. The end product is often so diluted that it is indistinguishable from the dilutant (pure water, sugar or alcohol).
Hahnemann advocated 30C dilutions for most purposes (that is, dilution by a factor of 1060). In Hahnemann's time it was reasonable to assume that remedies could be diluted indefinitely, as the concept of the atom or molecule as the smallest possible unit of a chemical substance was just beginning to be recognized. The greatest dilution that is reasonably likely to contain even one molecule of the original substance is 12C.
Hahnemann experimented on himself and others for several years before using remedies on patients. His experiments did not initially consist of giving remedies to the sick, because he thought that the most similar remedy, by virtue of its ability to induce symptoms similar to the disease itself, would make it impossible to determine which symptoms came from the remedy and which from the disease itself. Therefore, sick people were excluded from these experiments. The method used for determining which remedies were suitable for specific diseases was called proving, after the original German word Prüfung, meaning "test". A homeopathic proving is the method by which the profile of a homeopathic remedy is determined.
The list of ingredients seen on remedies may confuse consumers into believing that the product actually contains those ingredients. According to normal homeopathic practice, remedies are prepared starting with active ingredients that are often serially diluted to the point where the finished product no longer contains any biologically "active ingredients" as that term is normally defined. The list of ingredients normally refers to the ingredients originally used in their preparation. Following is a demonstrative example:
Isopathy is a therapy derived from homeopathy and was invented by Johann Joseph Wilhelm Lux in the 1830s. Isopathy differs from homeopathy in general in that the remedies, known as "nosodes", are made up either from things that cause the disease or from products of the disease, such as pus.Many so-called "homeopathic vaccines" are a form of isopathy.
Flower remedies can be produced by placing flowers in water and exposing them to sunlight. The most famous of these are the Bach flower remedies, which were developed by the physician and homeopath Edward Bach. Although the proponents of these remedies share homeopathy's vitalist world-view and the remedies are claimed to act through the same hypothetical "vital force" as homeopathy, the method of preparation is different. Bach flower remedies are prepared in "gentler" ways such as placing flowers in bowls of sunlit water, and the remedies are not succussed.There is no convincing scientific or clinical evidence for flower remedies being effective.
Electrohomeopathy was a 19th century practice combining homeopathy with electric treatment.
The National Institute of Homoeopathy (NIH) was established on 10 December 1975 in Kolkata as an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. The Institute has been offering Degree courses in Homoeopathy since 1987 and Postgraduate courses since 1998-99. The NIH was affiliated to the University of Calcutta up to 2003-04 and is affiliated to the West Bengal University of Health Sciences from 2004- 05 onwards The NIH also conducts regular Orientation Training courses for Teachers and Physicians.
The BHMS course is of 5 ½ years duration (including one year compulsory Internship). The MD (Hom) course is available in three subjects’ viz. Organon of Medicine, Repertory and Materia Medica. Six seats are available in each subject.
The World Homeopathy day is observed on April 10 every year to commemorate the birth anniversary of the founder of Homeopathy Dr. Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann.