Section 2: Definition of Homeopathy: What it IS and what it is NOT
Homeopathy was founded by German physician Samuel Hahnemann, and means “same suffering.” It is not a philosophy of medicine, but rather an applied system of medicine and pharmacology that describes how to use medicine. Homeopathy is very unique, and is often mistaken for isopathy, naturopathy, and allopathy.
As described in Section 1 (the previous blog on this topic), we talked about the history of how homeopathy was discovered, the history of Hahnemann’s provings and the scientific method he used in order to understand the symptoms of substance poisonings, and then how he conducted experiments where he gave people lower and lower doses of the substances until they were a-material. We went over how the poisoning symptoms of Cinchona, the plant that the doctors of that time were using to treat Malaria, looked identical to Malaria. Homeopathy is characterized by this process of prescribing: Like cures like.
Homeopathy example: You see someone who is hyperactive, excited, restless, can’t sleep, sensitive to light, nose, and odors and are very talkative. They look quite like they have consumed too much caffeine. A person suffering from a manic episode may have symptoms like this. A homeopathic doctor may prescribe Coffea Cruda 30C– which is made from the berries of the coffee plant– to the suffering patient with mania, and if this is the correct prescription, the body will return to balance and the person’s mania symptoms will resolve.
Isopathy refers to using the “same disease” where a practitioner uses the same thing that caused the disease to treat it. An example of this is vaccination, or even homeopathic influenza to treat or prevent the flu.
Allopathy means “different disease,” which refers to a method of treating diseases with medicines that produce effects different from those caused by the disease itself. This is the type of medicine that was being practiced during Hahnemann’s time with mercury and bloodletting. An example of allopathy is the prescription of heroin to treat pain (see image below). Heroin is such a powerful agent on the body that the original disease is superseded by the new “disease” caused by the heroin and therefore the patient was understood to be “cured.” A modern example of this is prescribing aspirin for a headache.
According to Miriam Webster: Allopathy
(practiced by MDs for example) is a system of
medical practice that aims to combat disease
by use of treatments like drugs or surgery
producing effects different from or
incompatible with those produced by the
disease being treated. Opposite of homeopathy.
Naturopathy refers to naturopathic medicine. Naturopathic medicine is a branch of medicine that encompasses the use of homeopathy and other natural therapies like hydrotherapy, botanical medicine, or acupuncture. The philosophy is what sets Naturopathic Doctors aside from other doctors. The focus is prevention, and identification of the root cause for the purpose of creating a treatment plan for restoring the person to health. Different tools may be used to accomplish this goal. It is important to note, however is that though naturopathic doctors often use homeopathic medicines, homeopathy is defined by it’s use, as opposed to being defined by remedies themselves. It is not considered homeopathy if the use of the homeopathic medicines are not in accordance to the concept of “same suffering.”
Next blog: Section 3: Homeopathy Basics and Model of Disease
About the Author: Dr. Nicole Cain has a medical license from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, a Masters in Clinical Psychotherapy from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and she completed a preceptorship in breast cancer research at Baylor College of Medicine and did post-doctoral residency training at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. She has conducted extensive research into the art of classical homeopathy. Her passion is to educate the public about the scientific method of homeopathic prescribing and to demystify the process for the academic community.