Homeopathy is one of the most popular forms of alternative medicine in the United States, Europe, and Africa. Developed in the late eighteenth century by a German doctor named Samuel Hahnemann, homeopathy is built upon the medical aphorism that “like cures like.”
Homeopaths believe that a disease or condition should be treated with a minute dose of an herb or herbal medicine that, if given in very large doses, would actually bring on the same symptoms that are being treated. The idea is in some sense similar to that used in vaccination – a small dose of the smallpox vaccine, for example, will prevent the recipient from ever getting a full-blown case of the disease.
The original “bible” of homeopathy was complied by Dr. Hahnemann and his followers, who systematically medicated themselves and then noted the physical and emotional results. Today, most homeopathic remedies are packaged in the form of drops, which are mixed with warm water and swallowed. Because the remedies are so diluted, there are usually no side effects if directions are exactly followed.
The basis of naturopathic medicine is the belief that, given the right support, the human body has a natural ability to heal itself. Naturopaths recommend slow, noninvasive healing techniques, often focusing on dietary and lifestyle changes, and shy away from modern pharmaceutical drugs and surgery.
The naturopaths view the body as a complex system, full of subtle interdependencies.They seek to establish the proper balance for each individual, taking into serious consideration that person’s social, physical, and emotional environment.
The roots of naturopathy can be found in the healing spas of Europe. For centuries, people with illnesses flocked to the “healing waters” of the health spas for hydrotherapy, massage, nutritious food, and herbal remedies for what “ailed” them. Although naturopathy has changed a great deal, especially with the “New Age” focus on alternative health, modern naturopaths still rely on these original methods of treatment. Others have added techniques from Asian medicine, such as acupuncture, into their practice. All naturopaths work extensively with herbs.