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What is Homeopathy?

Taking a different approach than conventional medicine, the term Homeopathy comes from the Greek words homeo, meaning similar, and pathos, meaning suffering or disease.  Homeopathy is an alternative medical system, built upon a complete structure of theory and practice, which evolved apart from, and earlier than, the conventional medical approach used in the United States.  Developed by German physician Samuel Hahnemann in 1796, the traditional approach of homeopathy is to trigger the body’s own defense system with the smallest doses possible to produce highly effective healing responses.  It is based on the idea that substances which produce symptoms of sickness in healthy people will have a curative effect when given in very dilute quantities to sick people with those same symptoms.  A holistic system of treatment, homeopathy seeks to stimulate the body’s defense mechanisms and processes so as to prevent or treat illness.

Homeopathic preparations are the world’s second most popular form of medicine and have been effectively used worldwide for over 200 years. Homeopathics in the United States are legal, FDA regulated products that include precise and very direct therapeutic claims.  Used to treat specific symptoms and conditions, homeopathics can be purchased over the counter without a doctor’s prescription.  This results in remedies that are highly effective, remarkably safe, and do not produce unwanted side effects. * 

Conventional medicine is practiced by holders of M.D. (Medical Doctor) or D. O. (Doctor of Osteopathy) degrees and by their allied health professionals, such as physical therapists, psychologists, and registered nurses.  However, some conventional medical practitioners are also practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine.  A visit to a homeopath will most likely be a different experience than a visit to a traditional physician.  Surveys show that homeopathic doctors spend much more time with a patient during initial consultations than conventional doctors.  This is because a homeopath does a complete case history to get a comprehensive picture of a person’s general health and lifestyle, as well as particular symptoms on physical, mental and emotional levels, as well.  The initial visit may include a thorough questionnaire of a patient’s medical and family history, which is followed by an interview with the doctor who may then order lab tests to establish a patient’s general level of health.  The initial interview usually lasts between one and two hours.   Medical insurance will usually not cover homeopathic medicine because it is sold over-the-counter.  However, when homeopaths are licensed professionals, most insurance companies will pay for their fees.  Consumers should consult their insurance policies to determine individual regulations.  It is important to inform all of your health care providers about any therapy that you are currently using or considering, including homeopathic treatment.  This will help ensure a safe and coordinated course of care.

Homeopathic Medicine is growing in popularity  in the United States.   Experts estimate that sales of Homeopathic Medicine in the United States  is increasing by an astounding  8% annual growth rate.  In the category of specialty analgesics, oral analgesics for children, and cough–cold–flu,  Homeopathic Medicine sales already ranked among the top 10 best-selling nonprescription drugs when last checked in 2004. ( IRI data report. 12 months trailing December  31, 2004. Information Resources, Inc.; 2004.)


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