Hippocrates (460 BC – 370 BC), the father of medicine, had insisted that the physician has to study the patient, not just illness. In treating patients, he should do everything to assist the nature, the great healer, to affect cure. He advocated similimum. Rig Veda, the source book from which ayurveda originated, states that ‘a cure for poison lies in the poison itself’. It was by an accident that the German physician Dr. Christian Fredericke Samuel Hahnemann came across a similar statement by Dr. Cullen that the Cinchona barks’ decoction (which helps to relieve the symptoms of malaria) causes intermittent fever in healthy persons. To understand the effects of Cinchona bark in intermittent fevers, Hahnemann experimented on his own self. Intake of Cinchona resulted in occurrence of condition simulating intermittent fevers. This effect that Cinchona bark produced on him gave birth to the idea of homoeopathy. Hahnemann continued to experiment on himself and on others, close to him, noting that every substance he took produced definite distinct symptoms. He further noted that no two substances produced, exactly the same set of symptoms. Each substance provoked its own unique pattern of symptoms, both on physical and mental plane. At first, Hahnemann tested substances commonly used as medicines in his time (such as Antimony and Rhubarb) and also, poisons like Arsenic and Belladonna. To avoid harmful effects from normal doses of the substances he diluted each medicine until he reached the greatest dilution that would still produce a response. These experiments were called provings and led him to observe and describe the basic principles of homoeopathic medicine. One can observe the similarity of basic concepts of homoeopathy for curing diseases with Hippocrates’s statement and the Rig Veda. Dr. Hahnemann today is considered as father of experimental pharmacology and father of homoeopathy.
According to World Health Organisation, homoeopathy is the second largest system of medicine in the world. The etymological origin of the word homoeopathy, which means ‘Similar sufferings’, is from Greek words hómoios (similar) and páthos (suffering). Homoeopathy is also spelled as Homœopathy and Homeopathy. As per the primary principle of Homoeopathy, the ‘Law of Similars’ or the ‘natural law of healing’, diseases are treated by medicines, which are capable of producing symptoms similar to those of the disease in healthy persons. The term "homoeopathy" was coined Dr. Hahnemann himself and first appeared in print in 1807. The term allopathy was also coined by him to differentiate homoeopathy.
Key concepts of homoeopathy include (i) homoeopathy seeks to stimulate the body's defense mechanisms and processes so as to prevent or treat illness, (ii) treatment involves giving very small doses of substances called remedies that, according to homoeopathy, would produce the same or similar symptoms of illness in healthy people if they were given in larger doses and (iii) treatment in homoeopathy is individualized (tailored to each person). Homoeopathic practitioners select remedies according to a total picture of the patient, including symptoms, lifestyle, emotional and mental states, and other factors.
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