The word Homeopathy comes from the Greek word “homios” meaning similar and “pathos” meaning suffering. It is one of the oldest sciences of alternative medicines.
In the late 1700s, Samuel Hahnemann developed this new approach to treating illness. At a time when most common medical treatments were harsh, he developed a less-threatening approach to medicine
A highly respected German physician, chemist and linguist, Hahnemann tested single, pure substances on himself and more dilute forms on healthy volunteers. Keeping meticulous records, he combined his observations with the known uses of herbs and other medical substances. Eventually he treated the sick and developed a homeopathic clinic practice.
Two additional concepts were added to homeopathy by Hahnemann:
“Potentization” – with every vigorous shake of a diluted substance, the remedy becomes more, not less, effective by extracting the vital essence of the substance. If the molecules are destroyed by dilution, homeopathy holds that the “memory” of them, the effects they exerted on the surrounding water molecules may still be therapeutic.
Treatment is to be selected upon the individual’s total picture and symptom, not solely upon symptoms of a disease. Homeopaths evaluate a person’s emotions, mental state, lifestyle and nutrition, not just their physical symptoms. In homeopathy, people may receive different remedies for one symptom.
Han Burch Gram studied homeopathy in Europe and introduced it to the United States upon his return in 1825. A Boston born doctor, he settled with his brother Neils in New York City. Believing Americans would be receptive, he published his translation of Samuel Hahnemann’s “Spirit of the Homeopathic Doctrine” in 1825. The pamphlet was received with indifference. Gram’s imperfect translation reportedly was responsible for the poor reception but it may have been the disfavor of the city’s physicians upon learning Gram was a homeopath. Though highly respected for his talent, he was later persecuted for his heresy.
The first homeopathic medical college was established in Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1835. European immigrants, trained in homeopathy, also made the treatment widely available in America. By the turn of the 20th century, 20 homeopathic medical colleges and more than 100 hospitals had been established in the United States. Eight percent of all American medical practitioners were homeopaths.
Numerous medical advances were made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such as the recognition of the mechanisms of disease, the discovery of ether anesthesia, Pasteur’s germ theory, and the development of antiseptic techniques. The release of the so-called “Flexner Report” triggered major changes in American medical education. Homeopathy was affected negatively and by the 1930s most homeopathic schools had closed down or converted to a conventional medical school.
Homeopathy’s popularity was revived in the United States in the 1960s. According to a 1999 survey, over 6 million Americans used homeopathy in the previous 12 months.
Persons using homeopathy do so for a variety of health concerns including wellness and prevention to treatment of conditions, injuries and diseases. According to studies, many people who seek homeopathic care suffer from a chronic medical condition.