Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Homeopathy
Homeopathy, or homeopathic
medicine, is a medical philosophy and practice based on the idea that the body
has the ability to heal itself. Homeopathy was founded in the late 1700s in
Germany and has been widely practiced throughout Europe. Homeopathic medicine
views symptoms of illness as normal responses of the body as it attempts to
Homeopathy is based on the idea that "like cures
like." That is, if a substance causes a symptom in a healthy person, giving the
person a very small amount of the same substance may cure the illness. In
theory, a homeopathic dose enhances the body's normal healing and
A homeopathic health practitioner
(homeopath) uses pills or liquid mixtures (solutions) containing only a little
of an active ingredient (usually a plant or mineral) for treatment of disease.
These are known as highly diluted or "potentiated" substances. There isn't strong evidence from science to show that homeopathic medicines are effective for any specific condition.
have used homeopathy to maintain health and treat a wide range of long-term
illnesses, such as allergies,
rheumatoid arthritis, and
irritable bowel syndrome. They have also used it to
treat minor injuries, such as cuts and scrapes and muscle strains or sprains.
Homeopathic treatment is not considered appropriate for illnesses, such as
cancer, heart disease, major infections, or emergencies.
Homeopathy has been widely used in India, England, and other European
Homeopathic remedies have
been regulated in the United States since 1938. They are thought to be safe in most cases. But some of these products may cause side effects. Others can interact with medicines that you are taking. And there isn't any evidence to show that you can safely use homeopathic products instead of getting recommended shots or vaccines.
Some critics of homeopathy believe that there is so little
active substance in a solution that any benefits from treatment are likely not
because of the substance but because you are thinking it is effective (placebo effect).
It is important to tell your medical doctor if
you decide to use homeopathic remedies. He or she should have full knowledge of
your health to help you make wise decisions about where to purchase homeopathic
dilutions and what homeopathic practitioner to see. Homeopathic remedies should
not replace conventional treatments for serious health concerns.
You can buy some homeopathic medicines at health food stores without a
doctor's prescription. But preparations from different suppliers and
practitioners may vary.
Talk with your doctor about any complementary health practice that you would like to try or are already using. Your doctor can help you manage your health better if he or she knows about all of your health practices.
Other Works Consulted
Freeman L (2009). Homeopathy: Like cures like. In L Freeman, ed., Mosby’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Research-Based Approach, 3rd ed., pp. 347–363. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
Carlston M (2011). Homeopathy. In M Micozzi, ed., Fundamentals of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 4th ed., pp. 343–354. St. Louis: Saunders.
Lange A (2013). Homeopathy. In JE Pizzorno, MT Murray, eds., Textbook of Natural Medicine, 4th ed., pp. 314–326. St. Louis: Mosby.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerKathleen M. Fairfield, MD, MPH, DrPH - Internal Medicine
Current as ofMay 26, 2016
Current as of:
May 26, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen M. Fairfield, MD, MPH, DrPH - Internal Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
I Want To...
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.