Let’s talk about homeopathy: history and current events

Homeopathy is a complementary natural medicine to traditional medicine as it represents a natural approach to the disease, understood as a loss of balance of the organism, and is also able to guarantee those qualities of reliability necessary to use it without incurring unpredictable or harmful secondary effects for health itself. In the therapeutic choices of these years, in the face of the use of very refined techniques, less aggressive therapies are also required, which treat in an effective but sweet way, which are, that is, more in tune with the human organism, with its physiology and which can, therefore, treat patients as a whole, in a global vision of the human being. Also in this respect, homeopathy, as a natural medicine, responds well to the need for holistic medicine, in which the patient is considered in his totality and then treated with remedies able to harmonize the whole organism in harmony with its nature.

What are the salient features of homeopathy?

It is a natural medicine; it is the therapeutic application of the law of similarity; it is the medicine of infinitesimal doses; it is an experimental medicine; it is a holistic medicine. Homeopathy, whose term, derived from the Greek omoios: similar and pathos: disease, was conceived by Christian Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) to indicate natural medicine, which cures with similars or uses remedies derived from properly treated plant, mineral or animal substances, administered in infinitesimal doses that have the characteristic of having an action similar to the symptom to be treated. Homeopathic medicine represents, in fact, the therapeutic application of the law of similarity or biological law already intuited by Hippocrates: “similia similibus curentur“, which sanctioned the parallelism between the toxicological effect of a substance and its therapeutic action. These theories were then, over the years, revised and codified by Hahnemann himself in three fundamental works: OrganonMateria Medica Pura and the Treatise on Chronic Diseases, which encompass the whole essence of homeopathic medicine. He also took up and elaborated the concept of dose, that is, the amount of substance to be used for the care of patients, aconcept already intuited by Paracelsus (1493 – 1543), who stated “… the notion of poison depends on the dose“, and in this way he came to elaborate the definition of infinitesimal dose of the active substance, present in the remedy, cornerstone of the new medicine. Homeopathy is in fact, as Hahnemann wrote, the medicine that cures using “… substances capable at weight doses of causing symptoms in a healthy subject but that can at weak doses, heal those same symptoms in a sick subject“, thus pointing out the concept of homeopathic remedy or drug in the strict sense. This great intuition led him to study and experiment on himself, the effect of many pharmacologically active substances, then known, such as china, to verify their real effects and toxicological action at variable doses. This substance, in fact, at weight doses caused and causes the symptoms of malaria, but he verified how the intake of china at infinitesimal doses could, instead, alleviate the symptoms of the disease and also cure it, according to him, effectively. He experimented with various other substances or remedies and developed a completely original experimental model from which it was deduced that the administration to a healthy subject of a pharmacologically active substance induced the appearance of symptoms and signs that expressed both the level of reactivity of the individual, and the intrinsic properties of the substance itself used. . The treatment of a patient with homeopathic medicine requires the link of similarity between his symptomatic picture and the toxicological picture of the substance. He also stated that if the remedy had been correctly identified, the initial worsening was a symptom of the effectiveness of the therapy itself and that the most active dose of the remedy was to be found in very low or infinitesimal concentrations. Here, then, is the need to dilute the initial mother tinctures, until we reach dilutions using, what Hahnemann defined, the method of dilutions. This consisted of diluting a part of the initial tincture, usually a hydroalcoholic extract of a plant or animal substance, bringing it to 10 or 100 parts with water (1:10 and 1:100), shaking a hundred times to dynamize the substance, the first decimal dilution (1DH) and centesimal are obtained respectively. (1CH). A part of this is still taken, further diluted (shaking) obtaining the second decimal/centesimal (2DH/2CH), and so on until the tenth, twentieth, thirtieth (30DH/30CH) dilution and beyond. The remedies thus obtained have the characteristic of acquiring power due to dilution, even when this is so strong as to exceed the number of Avogadro, that is, the number of molecules contained in a gram-mole of each substance, equal to 6,022 x 1023, beyond which the number of solute molecules disappears altogether. It can be noted, for example, that a 12CH dilution will contain 10-22 grams and 0.6022 molecules, a dilution to which it is completely random to be able to find molecules of substance still present, so it is difficult to understand the pharmacological action of remedies at even greater dilutions such as 30CH or 200CH. From this derives the questioning, even today, of the pharmacological effect of homeopathic remedies by those who want to consider them only as a placebo.

The experiments with the toxicological pictures of the various substances and the clinical observations were collected by Hahnemann in the Materia Medica Pura, a treatise on real pharmacology, in which the various remedies with the symptomatic correspondences were described. This work was later revised and reworked by his students based on the data of their experiments and has come down to us as a pharmacological text of consultation, indispensable for the choice and administration of remedies in homeopathy. In the first book he had collected the fundamental principles of the new medicine, that is, all his studies on the law of the like and on the art of healing acute diffusive diseases, while in the Treatise on Chronic Diseases he had addressed a critical revision of the therapeutic method to be applied to the chronically ill, that is, to patients who either did not respond to treatment or went through relapses of the pathology despite the appropriate therapy. He postulated that these pathologies depended on chronic intoxications called miasmas, which he traced back to previous infections that occurred throughout life, such as syphilis, gonorrhea, scabies. From these three main intoxications (luesinism, sicosis, psora) he argued that they derived, even in the descendants, a series of characteristic pathologies due to the weakness of some systems. This led to the establishment of a favorable terrain for the development of one or more pathologies, in the course of the individual’s life, related to these primordial syndromes. Subsequently, the Homeopathic School French, on the basis of numerous studies, added a further miasma to the three main ones, derived from tuberculosis intoxication (tubercolinism), a social scourge of the time. More recently, in place of the somewhat obsolete term miasma, the more modern one of diathesis has been adopted to indicate a particular way of reacting of the human organism that is completely individual and linked to the physical constitution of the subject.

The theory of constitutions arises, in fact, from having observed that there are morphological characteristics, that is, related to the appearance of people, which are related to the weakness of certain systems and organs, and therefore, to the possibility of contracting a particular disease. From this it follows that all the pathologies are variously linked to the constitution of the subject and it is in this binomial that their possibility of treatment is inserted, being the homeopathic remedies, in turn, closely linked to the aforementioned constitution of the patient. For example, you can see this correlation if you think of a short and fat subject, with square hands, endowed with a “square” mind: orderly, disciplined and so on; this will more easily present a “rigidity” of the vessels, resulting in circulatory problems. In fact, he will be able to meet more easily pathologies such as: atherosclerosis, arthrosis or metabolic diseases, which are affected by his morphological-constitutional and character aspect; compared to a long-limbed and thin subject, with an “artistic” feeling that, according to the homeopathic concept, will present other types of pathologies. The possibility of treatment in the aforementioned case will be to be found in the specific pharmacological remedies of the carbonic constitution, defined by similarity to the basic substance which is the calcarea ostearum, that is the calcareous component of the oyster (synonymous with hardness); in this case the homeopathic doctor may prescribe: carbonic limestone or carbon baryta and other remedies related to them. Alongside this constitution, three others are recognized: sulfuric, phosphoric and fluoric, with their respective characteristics, although it must always be considered the fact that each individual will have, in its originality, some more marked characters of a specific constitution, but also various intermediate connotations. In the prescription of a homeopathic remedy it is necessary to know in depth the various substances, which constitute the homeopathic remedies or drugs, for their possible use not only as symptomatic drugs, but also for the constitutional or diathetic background treatment of the subject. The choice of a remedy in homeopathy can be schematized as follows: symptomatic drug, constitutional drug, diathetic drug. It must be borne in mind that a single remedy can, if well characterized, as a diathetic remedy, cover all the symptoms of the subject, or it is possible to associate several remedies of different types (symptomatic and constitutional) or even alternate them over time to achieve the remission of symptoms and the complete reintegration of the state of health, always in a global and holistic vision of the patient’s symptomatic problems. From the point of view of scientific research in homeopathy it is necessary to point out the difficulties that this has always found in Italy and abroad both for financial problems and for the difficulty of finding suitable experimental models. Nevertheless, we can divide research in Homeopathy into two groups: experimental biological research and clinical research. These two lines of research have made extensive contributions to the understanding of the pharmacological effect of various substances. The list may be long, but it is certainly important the attitude that official medicine has recently taken towards cinderella homeopathic medicine, considered like other non-conventional medicines, a medical act and as such subjected to evaluation. As for the scientific controls of official medicine we recall in the British Medical Journal of 1991 a review of 107 clinical trials, in which it was concluded that: “For the moment the evidence of clinical trials is positive, but not sufficient to draw definitive conclusions, because most of the tests are of low methodological quality, due to the unknown role of publication biases. This indicates that there are valid reasons for further evaluation but only through well-conducted trials.” The second work is still a meta-analysis published in The Lancet by Jonas et al., homeopath and director of the Office of Alternative Medicine at the U.S. National Institute of Health, which concluded: “… the results of our meta-analysis are not compatible with the hypothesis that the clinical effects of homeopathy are completely due to the placebo effect.

Last but not least, the results on customer satisfaction by patients towards Homeopathy have proved positive and flattering what matters most, is that there is an upward trend compared to people who choose treatment with homeopathic remedie.


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