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The History of Homeopathy
Of all the natural medicines, none is more divisive than homeopathy. Many chemists, biologists and physicians are quick to dismiss this 200-year-old system of natural healing as nothing but absolute quackery and in many countries around the world, just calling yourself a homeopath can result in imprisonment. But millions of lay people and thousands of educated, competent health care professionals from all walks of life believe completely in the healing power of this controversial system of natural healing.
Homeopathy is so popular in Europe that over 30% of the family practitioners in France prescribe homeopathic remedies and more than 40% of England's doctors regularly refer patients to homeopaths. Here in the U.S., homeopathy is enjoying something of a renaissance as well. Though homeopathy is considerably less well known here, a growing number of Americans are turning to homeopathy for help with everything from AIDS to the common cold.
Based on the use of extremely dilute preparations known as "remedies", homeopathy grew from the meticulous research of an 18th century German physician named Samuel Hahnemann. At the height of his career, Dr. Hahnemann was the personal physician to the German royal family and the author of one of the most respected chemistry texts of the time. But despite his personal and professional successes, Dr. Hahnemann grew increasingly dissatisfied with medicine. He suspected that the accepted therapies of bloodletting, mercury overdoses and other popular treatments were, in fact, doing more harm than good. He soon abandoned his orthodox medical career to devote himself full-time to the studies that would eventually give us the branch of natural healing that Dr. Hahnemann coined "homeopathy".
Unlike his mainstream contemporaries, who experimented only on sick people and laboratory animals, Dr. Hahnemann gave his experimental remedies to healthy adults to study their reactions under real-life conditions. Dr. Hahnemann noticed that healthy people receiving extremely small amounts of certain medications exhibited many of the same symptoms the medications were supposed to eliminate. He called his discovery the "Law of Similars" and it is this law upon which the rest of homeopathy is built. Even modern mainstream practices like immunization and radiation owe their widespread acceptance to this first law of homeopathy.
His discovery of the Law of Similars was the fuse that ignited the rest
of Dr. Hahnemann's research. This research, the results of which were
compiled into exhaustive volumes he called "provings", has been
continually updated by other homeopaths ever since.
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