Unless these sources of confusion are constantly and completely acknowledged and corrected, little progress can be made in clarifying the concepts of homeopathy or the principle of similarity. Immunology is the study of the structure and function of the immune system, the complex and integrated group of organs, tissues, cells and cell products such as antibodies that, by differentiating self from non-self, defend the body against infection or disease and neutralize potentially pathogenic cells or substances.
This branch of biomedicine initially found resistance in differentiating from more traditional medical disciplines such as pathology and physiology, recent decades have witnessed an extraordinary development. Western immunology and homeopathy both began at the end of the eighteenth century: the first of Jenner's smallpox vaccinations Fig. The profound analogies between homeopathic thought and immunology are due to the fact that the whole of homeopathic theory is substantially based on the principle of regulating endogenous systems of healing, the best known of which is certainly the immune system and its neuroendocrine integrations.
A significant example of a pioneer of immunology with an open mind towards the new homeopathic theories was Emil Von Behring Fig. The mechanisms of action of my anti-toxin therapy are still unclear, although many authors say that the diphtheria and tetanus anti-toxins can be clearly understood on the basis of Ehrlich's lateral chain theory. What else causes epidemiological immunity in a sheep vaccinated against anthrax, if not the influence previously exercised by a micro-organism having similar characteristics to those of fatal anthrax?
And what technical term appropriately defines this influence exercised by a similar micro-organism if not the word of Hahnemann: homeopathy? Hahnemann's principles of homeopathy were not totally new as traces of them can be found throughout the history of medicine. The principles underlying homeopathy can be traced to roots dating back even further than those of immunology 2 , 4 , 5. Mankind has always wondered how to identify remedies capable of curing diseases. In the pre-scientific era, empiricism based on chance observations, and trial and error, was probably the most widely used approach, accompanied by various forms of oral or written tradition.
In many other cases, the sick relied and still do among some primitive people on the intuition of individuals judged to be particularly endowed with divine or natural powers: healers, shamans, witch-doctors and so on. Attempting to treat a disease by administering the agent capable of causing it or transmitting it is one of the most general acquisitions of empirical medicine.
Numerous primitive medicines used to cure the effects of snake venoms by repeatedly inoculating them or materials extracted from the venom apparati of snakes. In the Far East the Chinese practiced a form of preventive smallpox vaccination both by wearing the clothes worn by a smallpox victim in the full suppuration phase of the disease and by inhaling dried smallpox pustules after storing them for 1 year.
Pliny claimed that the saliva of a rabid dog can afford protection against rabies. Dioskurides of Anazarbo recommended that hydrophobia sufferers eat the liver of the dog that bit them. Aetius of Antioch recommended eating the meat of the viper that had just bitten you. In the seventeenth century the Irishman Robert Fludd cured the victims of consumption with dilutions of their own sputum after suitable preparation.
Equally primitive and often elaborate applications of the same principle could be found in many pharmacopoeias until the last century. The reasoning is sometimes elementary: swallow human stones in cases of calculosis but, also here, the connection is obscure in the light of current knowledge. It is well known that King Mithridates VI — BC is said to have taken small quantities of poisons and toxins to protect himself against the repeated attempts made to poison him.
Native Americans wear a headdress of eagle feathers partly to underline their prowess as hunters and partly for decorative purposes, but the custom is also based on a belief that the sight, speed, courage and other desirable characteristics of the eagle can be magically acquired. The magical transfer of the courage of a killed enemy to the victor by means of the ingestion of organs the heart also explains some aspects of cannibalism. The most frequently cited assertions are:.
The pains complaints will be removed by means of their opposite, each according to its own characteristics. Thus, heat corresponds to a hot constitution that has been made ill by the cold, and so on for the others. Another way of removing pain is the following: a disease develops by means of its like and is cured by means of the use of its like.
Thus, what causes urinary tenesmus in health cures it in disease. Cough is caused and cured by means of the same agent, as in the case of urinary tenesmus. Another method: the fever causing the development of inflammation will be caused and cured by the same agent. At other times, it will be cured by the opposite of its cause.
Prognostic interest, a great capacity for controlled observation, the rejection of fanciful tendencies and other characteristics unmistakably distinguish this from magic. Without going into the whole of Hippocratic medicine, it must be said that his doctrine is permeated by the concept of natural healing. It is likely that no thought has had a more profound effect on medicine than Hippocrates' observation that the manifestations of disease consist of two groups of events: the first being the direct effects of the damage, the second the reaction of repair.
The corollary to this is that the direct effects must be removed whenever possible, but the reparative reaction must be promoted in order to imitate nature. In line with this pathophysiological conception, physicians must make a distinction between useful and harmful symptoms by stimulating the former and blocking the latter. One further representative of this line of thought was P. His works, which were first published in Basel in an almost complete version of 11 volumes between and , contain a mixture of genial intuitions and ingenuities; profound clinical observations and strange affirmations concerning the influence of celestial bodies; new pharmacological observations and convinced assertions as to the truth of alchemical and magical concepts 6.
There is also a certain harmony with the concepts concerning drug doses that were subsequently adopted by homeopaths, since according to Paracelsus medicines must be administered not on the basis of their weight, but according to criteria that go beyond simple weight. One true predecessor of Hahnemann was Stoerck 7 — , who in the s published a series of works on the treatment of diseases with poisons according to the principle of similars. If it cures someone affected by spasms, why should we not investigate whether it causes the spasms? Christian Frederick Samuel Hahnemann was born on April 10, in Meissen, Germany, graduated in Medicine from Erlangen University in , and died in Paris in after a long and adventurous life.
Although he worked in many fields of chemistry, pharmacology and medicine, he has passed into history as the founder of homeopathy, of which he is still unanimously acknowledged as being the greatest authority.
The first reflection of Hahnemann concentrated on the fact that two diseases may interact in very particular ways in the same individual, with one temporarily or permanently taking the place of another. One example is the well-known alternation of eczema and asthma as chronic expressions of an allergic constitution.
Hahnemann studied the less known lasting replacement of one disease by another and, for example, observed that a chronic skin rash disappeared after the onset of measles. He wondered what it was that led to this difference between temporary and permanent replacement, and became convinced that the latter occurred when the two diseases had similar symptoms. His next step was to try to apply this finding in a systematic and therapeutic manner.
As he was also an expert in chemistry, he was familiar with many of the symptoms caused by toxic agents and aware of the fact that a number of naturally occurring diseases closely resemble symptoms owing to intoxication: e. Little by little, Hahnemann refined his homeopathic ideas. However, not all cholera patients responded to arsenic, but required another remedy depending on their individual symptoms.
He thus changed the current nosological schema of medical thought by introducing the concepts of drug-specific pathogenesis and disease-specific individual status. He then noted that patients apparently cured by means of homeopathy could suffer a recurrence of the same disease or be affected by another, and drew the conclusion that permanent cure could only be achieved by selecting the remedy on the basis of other criteria, including the patient's constitutional and psychological characteristics, as well as previous diseases.
It must be remembered that he lived between the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century. We must, on the one hand, first precisely understand the essential characteristics and incidental manifestations of the diseases of the human body and, on the other, the effects purely due to the use of drugs: that is, their essential characteristics and the incidental symptoms of the specific artificial diseases they induce as a result of differences in dose, form, etc.
In this way, by choosing a remedy capable of causing an artificial disease that is very similar to a given natural disease, we will be able to cure the most obstinate of diseases 1. As we have already mentioned and as is only logical, further discoveries and applications have gradually added themselves to the initial concepts and groundrules. One of the earliest and most notable innovations of homeopathy, mentioned even in the later editions of the Organon, is isopathy or isotherapy.
The term was probably coined by the veterinarian Wilhelm Lux 8 somewhere around — after starting to treat his animals with the homeopathic method, he became convinced that every contagious disease bears within itself the means whereby it can be cured. He observed that the technique of dilution and dynamization of a contagious product bacterium, virus or infected secretions, and organic material would put such a product in a position to exert a therapeutic action on the disease resulting from the contagion. Three authors dominate the history of isopathy 2 , and all three were homeopaths: Constantine Hering, Wilhelm Lux and Denys Collet.
Constantine Hering Fig.
After taking a closer look at Hahnemann's works, Hering was not only intrigued, but ended up by defending Hahnemann and coming out in favor of the new method. Originally this term denoted any remedy extracted from pathological excretions or secretions obtained from human subjects or animals. Finally, he assumed that the chemical elements exerted a particular action on those organs in which they were mainly contained. The second great isopath was the veterinarian Joseph Wilhelm Lux, born in Silesia in Lux was appointed Professor of Veterinary Science at the University of Leipzig in , and his work constituted a landmark in the history of veterinary medicine.
From onwards he was familiar with Hahnemann's works and applied the new method in veterinary medicine, becoming a staunch advocate of veterinary homeopathy. In Valentin Zibrik asked him for a homeopathic remedy for distemper and anthrax. He was thus the first to create the strain called Anthracinum. In Lux 8 published the results obtained in a booklet entitled Isopathik der Contagionen , in which he claimed that all contagious diseases bear within their pathological phenomena and products their own means of cure. Moreover, Lux also extended the principle to substances that had become iatrogenic as a result of abuse, so that a method which was originally used only in contagious diseases was also applied to non-contagious illnesses.
After this early period of expansion, the new method ran into continuous and increasingly severe criticism, so much so that isopathy went into decline for several years, even within the homeopathic community. Only a few solitary practitioners went on using isopathic remedies.
The survey also reported that although about 1. Castro D, Nogueira G. Site Menu Home. He was a pioneer of medical journalism and dedicated his Journal der Praktischen Arzneikunde which he edited for 40 years and which subsequently took his name to the correction of the medical deviations of his time. Virchows Arch. In fact, by definition homeopathic remedies may be so diluted that the helpful ingredient is no longer even detectable.
It was Father Denys Collet, a doctor and Dominican friar born in , who eventually brought isopathy back onto the scene. In he witnessed a homeopathic healing which convinced him to devote himself to the new method. According to Collet, there are three ways of healing, namely allopathy, homeopathy and isopathy, all of which are useful depending on the clinical indications. The book also contains 42 personal observations and the rules of isopathic pharmacopraxis, which is the starting point for a substantial renewal of the method.
In the twentieth century two works devoted entirely to nosodes have been published: the first in by H. Allen 12 , entitled The Materia Medica of the Nosodes. The second is by the Frenchman O. The above-mentioned book by O. Julian in was a success in Germany, where it revived the study of nosodes.
In particular, R. Voll accorded therapy with nosodes a central role in his diagnostic—therapeutic procedure called electroacupuncture-organometry, and H. Reckeweg 15 , the founder of homotoxicology, made extensive use of nosodes and immunomodulators in his biotherapy. The use of the nosode Meningococcinum as prophylaxis of meningitis was suggested by others The rapid initial spread of homeopathy was probably due, on the one hand, to the fact that the orthodox medicine of Hahnemann's day and age was still extremely backward and lacked truly effective therapeutic remedies, and, on the other, to the distinct superiority of homeopathy in treating the various epidemics of typhoid fever, cholera and yellow fever which raged across Europe and America in the s 17 — Homeopathic medicine has undergone substantial ups and downs in its historical development.
The rapid early boom throughout the world in the nineteenth century and its immense popularity were due to the fact that the other modes of medicine practiced at that time often used rather crude and painful means for a cure. A survey of the periodicals and other literature of the first decades of the nineteenth century reveals that in the medical practice among physicians of the orthodox persuasion the most common methods of treatment were bloodletting, sulfur, camphor, calomel and mineral medicines, mostly mercurial salts However, this rapid spread was followed by a head-on clash with orthodox medicine, which stopped homeopathy in its tracks and then led to its progressive decline, particularly in Western countries, where in some cases it all but disappeared.
Over the past few decades, however, we have been witnessing a steady recovery of homeopathic practice, even in very advanced countries such as France, Germany, and Italy. Hahnemann, right from the outset, found himself faced with stern opposition from colleagues and even more so from the apothecaries, who felt that he was undermining the foundations of their profession: since he was recommending the use of small doses and was against multiple prescriptions, this new medicine was perceived as a serious threat to their profits.
Moreover, he was accused of dispensing his own medicines and administering them to his patients, which was illegal at the time. He was thus arrested in Leipzig in , convicted and forced to leave the city. At his death , homeopathy was known in all European countries except Norway and Sweden , as well as in the United States, Mexico, Cuba and Russia, and not long after his death it reached India and South America.
It was first introduced into Italy in thanks to G. Necker who founded the Neapolitan School. By the middle of the nineteenth century, there were a large number of homeopathic journals, clinics, hospitals, societies and pharmacies; homeopathic physicians could be found throughout the world; and more than 20 faculties of homeopathic medicine were founded in the United States. However, there were many controversies between the Hahnemann school and the other trends of twentieth century medicine, particularly in Germany.
Early attempts to investigate the principle of similarity on the experimental ground can be traced back to the years around the end of nineteenth century, when H. Schulz published a series of papers that examined the activity of various kinds of poisons iodine, bromine, mercuric chloride, arsenious acid, etc. He then came into contact with the psychiatrist R. Similar observations were reported by several other authors in the s and from their findings one can conclude that the occurrence of inverse, or biphasic, effects of different doses of the same substance was known before the era of molecular medicine 24 — This phenomenon is now well recognized in cell biology, with a number of explanation at the molecular level e.
We will go back to these concepts in a subsequent paper dealing with the scientific models of the similia principle. The delayed recognition of the possible contribution of homeopathic ideas to mainstream medical science and, insistent attacks of some homeopaths against allopathy are at least partially responsible for the rejection of homeopathy by the majority of modern physicians and academic circles.
It is generally agreed that one of the greatest physicians in Germany at the time of Hahnemann was Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland — , a rich and magnanimous physician who was a friend of Goethe and Schiller Fig. He was a pioneer of medical journalism and dedicated his Journal der Praktischen Arzneikunde which he edited for 40 years and which subsequently took his name to the correction of the medical deviations of his time.
His works include many references indicating his openness to homeopathic ideas, such as:. The first reason inducing me to write is the fact that I considered it incorrect and unworthy of science to ridicule or persecute the new doctrine of homeopathy… I find suppression and despotism in science repugnant; here, the only rule should be freedom of spirit, basic research, the confutation of hypotheses, the comparison of observations, adherence to facts and not to personalities.
In fact, if this affirmation were to be taken literally, it could seem to be the grave of all sciences and human progress. On the basis of my personal observations, I am convinced that it can render a service not rarely, but sometimes in a highly striking manner, particularly after the failure of other treatments. I would not speak of homeopathic physicians, but of physicians that use the homeopathic method at the right time and in the right place. Heilkunde , , cited in 2 , p. As a result of an irrational policy of reciprocal excommunication, the two disciplines failed to develop any common points for a long time and continued along their own separate and often conflicting ways.
With some exceptions e. In the nineteenth century homeopathy was immensely popular in the United States where major figures such as Hering, Kent and Farrington were practicing. By the turn of the century as many as 29 homeopathic journals were being published. The year marked the founding of the American Institute of Homeopathy, which thus became the first American national medical society. Right from the very beginning the new approach embodied a strong critical attitude towards the use of conventional medicines, which were judged to be harmful, toxic and counterproductive for the practice of homeopathy, in that they were all based on suppression of symptoms.
What is more, good homeopathic practice called for a long apprenticeship and individualization of treatment, both of which demanded more time than physicians were normally prepared to give their patients. The year marked the foundation of the American Medical Association AMA , one of the first objectives of which was to combat homeopathy: homeopaths could not be members of the AMA, and AMA members were not allowed even to consult a homeopath, the penalty for this being expulsion from the Association; legal recognition was denied to graduates with diplomas from universities with full professors of homeopathy on their academic boards.
In , a classification of American medical schools was drawn up the Flexner Report on the basis of criteria which assigned high ratings to schools which placed the emphasis on a physicochemical and pathological approach to the human body and strongly penalized the homeopathic approach 9 , 19 , 20 , The homeopathic colleges obviously obtained poor ratings, and as only the graduates of schools with high ratings had their qualifications recognized, this was a mortal blow to the teaching of homeopathy.
Of 22 homeopathic colleges operating in , only two were still teaching homeopathy in By there was not a single school in the United States teaching homeopathy and it was estimated that there were only about a hundred practicing homeopaths, almost all over 50 years of age, throughout the United States. For similar reasons, there was also a parallel decline in homeopathic practice in Europe in the early decades of the twentieth century. We should not conclude, however, that the decline of homeopathy was due to only political and economic reasons.
At least two other factors played a decisive role, namely the internal struggles within homeopathy itself and the new major scientific and pharmacological discoveries. As regards the splits in the homeopathic world, there were disputes between the various schools over dilutions high or low potencies , over single or multiple prescriptions, and over whether prescribing should be based on total symptoms or on the main disease present. The various different schools developed their own organizations, hospitals and journals, thus making it very hard even for doctors seriously interested in learning about homeopathy to get their bearings in this field.
A severe blow to homeopathic theory was delivered by the chemical sciences and in particular by the law formulated by Amedeo Avogadro Fig. From this it was obviously but a short step to ridiculing the use of homeopathic medicines, and homeopaths were branded by their adversaries as being on a par with some kind of esoteric sect. Such opinions have continued to be voiced virtually unaltered up to the present day. The decisive factor, however, permitting conventional scientific medicine to prevail over homeopathy was its own development as a science capable of identifying the causes of many diseases and as a source of effective techniques and technologies for curing them.
Lister's discoveries in the antiseptic field and the development of anesthesiology greatly increased the success, indications and popularity of surgery.
While chemistry, physiology and pathology were making giant strides in the theoretical sphere, the discovery of vitamin and hormone replacement therapies and, above all, the advent of antibiotics, analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs enabled orthodox therapy to demonstrate its practical superiority.
The possibility of interpreting pathological phenomena rationally on the basis of a scientifically validated model of the human body and the availability of chemical, physical or technological means capable of repairing defects detected with the utmost precision by increasingly sophisticated and reliable instruments was and is altogether too attractive and convincing a prospect to allow scope for exploring alternatives based on outdated and mysterious theories. The great epidemics of infectious diseases have been defeated by a combination of improvements in living conditions, hygiene, vaccinations and antibiotics.
Our knowledge of disease due to vitamin, enzyme or hormone deficiencies has furnished new weapons in the struggle against diseases such as pernicious anemia, dwarfism and diabetes. If it were not for the problem of finding donors, transplants would already be routine therapy for a sizeable number of diseases. Cortisone and its derivatives are solving many problems of immune hypersensitivity. Recent developments in molecular biology give us good reason to believe that not even the genetic sphere will be able to escape our manipulative capability. Against this background, one cannot see any real scope for homeopathy, though at present its use is still spreading.
This spread of homeopathy is happening in countries such as Italy, France and Germany, and parallels the renewed interest in homeopathy in many other countries throughout the world. These considerations alone should be enough to justify a greater commitment of official scientific institutions towards monitoring and clinically verifying the efficacy of therapeutic agents and measures adopted.
A need is also felt for at least some teaching of the basics of homeopathy to doctors trained in universities, since, at general practitioner level particularly, patients often tend to be keenly interested in homeopathy and to ask their general practitioners for information and advice on the subject. There may be any number of reasons for the revival of homeopathy, despite the lack of university teaching in the field and of support on the part of public health authorities homeopathic drugs are not available on the NHS , but it can hardly be accounted for merely on commercial grounds.
This can be traced, on the one hand, to the greater degree of individualization of the treatment, attention being paid to the human and psychological elements, which are becoming increasingly neglected in this era of ultra high-tech medicine; on the other hand, it is due to the awareness that many of the challenges still facing us today in the fight against disease call for a different approach from that adopted to date. In fact, the public at large and also the medical profession itself are becoming increasingly aware that modern medicine must come up with new means and new ideas for tackling problems.
These include contamination of the environment by toxic agents, ever-growing numbers of diseases induced by increasingly potent drugs themselves, degenerative diseases to which errors of diet or life-style contribute, allergies, autoimmunity and immune deficiency, large numbers of neurological and psychiatric diseases, psychosomatic disorders, and tumors. That this is not merely a commercial phenomenon is also suggested by the fact that we are witnessing a renewed interest on the part of scientists in experimental trials in this field.
The debate in scientific circles is becoming increasingly heated, and many researchers are setting themselves the objective of developing reliable methods for tackling the problem. Reilly's group has published a series of trials 30 — 32 describing randomized and double-blind studies of patients with chronic allergic rhinitis or bronchial asthma treated with homeopathic immunotherapy HIT. The studies involved administration of a 30c potency of the main allergen or in the control group an indistinguishable placebo. This study offered proof that high homeopathic dilutions of antigens cannot be assimilated to a simple placebo.
However, as underlined by the authors themselves, this does not mean that their proposed therapy is an efficacious homeopathic therapy for chronic rhinitis also because homeopathy requires individualized treatment. For a general overview of homeopathic philosophy, read Homeopathic Medicine. For a more detailed account of why a trained, licensed physician might choose to practice homeopathic medicine, read For homeopathy: A practicing physician's perspective. Contact us for further information. Learn More Read the full report.
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Use in the United States; What the Science Says About the Effectiveness of Homeopathy Many studies have evaluated homeopathic products for a variety of conditions, but What do we know about the safety of homeopathic products? Homeopathy, also known as homeopathic medicine, is a medical system that was. Conventional scientific wisdom dictates that homeopathy should have no effect . endowed with divine or natural powers: healers, shamans, witch-doctors and so on. .. In the United States, too, we are witnessing a revival of homeopathic.
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