Homeopathy is a holistic medicine which uses specially prepared, highly diluted substances (given mainly in tablet form) with the aim of awakening the body's natural ability to heal itself.
A patient will be prescribed medicines according to their specific set of symptoms and how they experience them, taking into account their overall level of health.
Like with like
Homeopathy is based on the principle of “like treats like” – that is, a substance which can cause symptoms when taken in large doses, can be used in small amounts to treat similar symptoms. For example, drinking too much coffee can cause sleeplessness and agitation, so according to this principle, when made into a homeopathic medicine, it could be used to treat people suffering from sleeplessness and agitation.
The principle of treating “like with like” dates back to Hippocrates (460-377BC) but in its current form, homeopathy has been widely used worldwide for more than 200 years.
Homeopathy was discovered by a German doctor, Samuel Hahnemann, who was looking for a way to reduce the damaging side effects associated with the medical treatment of his day, which included the use of poisons. He began experimenting on himself and a group of healthy volunteers, giving smaller and smaller medicinal doses, discovering that as well as reducing toxicity, the medicines became more effective as the doses were lowered.
He also observed that symptoms caused by the toxic ‘medicines’ of the time, such as mercury which was used to treat syphilis, were similar to those of the diseases they were being used to treat. This observation led to the principle he described as ‘like cures like’.