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The Basics & History of

Homeopathic Medicine

   By Dr. Donald Liebell

Homeopathy is a very specific thing.  It is NOT a broad term that means natural medicine, holistic medicine, or nutrition.  It certainly does not mean herbal medicine.  

Here's what it's all about:

For over 200 years, people throughout the world, with many health conditions, have been helped through Homeopathy—as a complementary and alternative approach, or sole treatment approach. 
The purpose of this article is to give you background in the basics of homeopathic medicine, in contrast to both traditional Western medicine and herbal medicine.  

Homeopathic medicine is the second most used health care approach in the world. 
There are various specialized systems and approaches among doctors who utilize homeopathy in their practices.  

Homeopathy is a natural and drug-free treatment method that can deliver impressive results which are safe and often permanent.  It is not addictive, and it works in harmony with your body, unlike conventional medicine, which often suppresses it to treat symptoms. What a comfort it is for both patient and doctor to know that the treatment being administered cannot cause side effects.       

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)—a U.S. government agency,  classifies homeopathy as a whole medical system.
 It is based upon the principle of treating a problem with a remedy that is similar to the problem itself, but in tremendously diluted form. Homeopathy has been approved and strictly regulated by the FDA since 1938. 

The homeopathic approach was forced into relative obscurity by the business interests of pharmaceutical medicine.  In the early 1900s, there were 22 medical schools teaching homeopathy, and over 100 homeopathic hospitals.  The "father" of modern homeopathy, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann has been immortalized in statue at Scott Circle in Washington D.C.  Dr. Hahnemann was a highly respected German physician, whose awareness of the dangers of pharmaceutical medicine prompted him to find a safer approach.  

Conventional Western (pharmaceutical) medicine has a chemical based health care philosophy, where concentrated substances are administered in high doses. Homeopathy on the other hand, is an energetic approach. Both approaches have their benefits and should be viewed as complementary to each other rather than opposing. Homeopathic medicine has been a fixture in health care around the world for over 200 years.  

*  Homeopathic medicines are created using plant, animal, mineral and microbial substances

*  They have no known side effects and do not interact with traditional pharmaceutical medicines. 

*  Today, homeopathy is used by millions of people in more than 65 countries.

*   It is used by more than 400,000 health care professionals of all types. 

*   More than 150 positive studies have recently been published in medical journals—most notably by the M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Center, published in the International Journal of Oncology. 

   Science is beginning to catch up to understanding the actual mechanism by which homeopathy works.     

“Is Homeopathy the Same Thing as Herbal Medicine? 

Absolutely NOT.  People often confuse herbal medicine with homeopathy.  Although both are classified as valid systems of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM); homeopathy and herbal medicine are not even remotely the same thing. 

Here are the differences:

Herbs are complex and concentrated substances. 
 They are extracted from plants.  Basically, they are the raw forms of many prescription medications, thus our bodies may process them in the same manner.  We need to break down these substances through digestion in order to absorb the effective chemicals before our cells can use them.  

Your body uses energy for this. 

If you are sick and low on energy, this may not be an easy process.  

Unlike homeopathic remedies, herbal medicines are generally not government regulated; they can have side effects and risks just like any prescription or over-the-counter medication.  

It is wise to think of herbal medications as drugs, and to use them accordingly.  You should also understand that just because a medication is herbal... that doesn't make it safe.   Remember that pharmaceutical drugs are often based upon chemicals found in natural herbs.  Herbs should be used with great caution and knowledge. 

Homeopathic remedies are NOT chemical medicines.  They are created simple substances that are tremendously diluted.  There are no pharmaceutically active substances in them. For example a remedy may by one part of the substance in 1,000,000,000,000 parts water.  These preparations are ready to be utilized by your cells... even if you're very sick     

Because homeopathic formulas are such highly diluted solutions containing various substances—side effects or toxic reactions are extremely unlikely.  Also, the quality of the homeopathic medicine industry is FDA regulated.   

The homeopathic approach has been tremendously successful throughout the world for over 200 years.  The rise of pharmaceutical medicine as a much more lucrative business drove homeopathy into extinction in the United States, despite ongoing popularity, effectiveness and unparalleled safety.  It has made a significant comeback recently in the United States, as the American people have become further disgruntled with our health care system and the use of pharmaceutical drugs to mask symptoms—rather than treating underlying causes. 

A big reason for newly found interest in a very old method is simple: Homeopathy is extremely effective, safe, and free of the dangers of side effects.     

Homeopathic preparations are not addictive, and they fit it beautifully with any holistic health system. 
 There are various approaches to the use of homeopathy, and in my opinion some are certainly better than others.  Like any other form of treatment, its use is as good as the practitioner delivering it.  

How does Homeopathy Work?

Homeopathic remedies naturally support your body’s inborn healing process by introducing energetic frequencies similar to the condition treated. This supports your body to work way harder to heal itself from within. 

Imagine you have a problem in your life that you’ve been trying over and over to solve with no success.  There comes a point where you realize that you’re getting nowhere and it’s time to just give up and move on.  Sometimes all you can do is try to forget about the problem and focus on other things.  People do this all the time to cope with life. Our immune systems do the same thing. Your body will try and try to fight the fight against a health problem.  Most of the time, your immune system wins the fight.  But sometimes it “fights a losing battle” and finally, it just gives up.  It’s as if your body is left to merely “whisper” to your immune system that it needs help. A properly administered homeopathic remedy appears to support your body's cry for help. Scientists aren’t exactly sure how it does this.  At first glance, it might appear that it couldn’t work.  Despite what skeptics and critics may say and think; it works beautifully.  The truth is that scientists haven’t really tried very hard to find out. 


The answer is simple: there’s little money in it!  Plus homeopathic remedies cannot be patented and publicly traded like pharmaceuticals. Homeopathic medicine is comparatively cheap, extremely safe, often permanently curative… and therefore not a profitable a commodity. As I’m sure you’re aware, health care is a huge business.  There is little motivation to fund research for treatments that do not create corporate wealth. It is hypocritical  

The main principle involved is known as “similar” or “like curing like.”  This means that if a substance can cause the symptoms of or a disease (or the disease itself)—it may also cure the disease… if given in tremendously diluted doses.  This is in contrast to Western pharmaceutical medicine, where opposites are given. For example, antacids are given for digestive problems, antidepressants for depression, antihistamines for allergies, etc.  Homeopathic remedies are proven by testing to see if a substance can produce symptoms of a condition in a healthy person.  If such a substance is then tremendously diluted; it can be used as a homeopathic treatment for that very condition. 

      Here are some simple examples:

1)    Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulphate) may be given to a person to help constipation.  But a homeopathic diluted form of Magnesium Sulphate can relieve diarrhea!

2)    Drinking coffee can stimulate your nervous system and keep you awake, causing insomnia.  But a homeopathic diluted form of coffee can calm the nervous system and promote natural sleep

Another reason why homeopathy is not popular among U.S. physicians

It is no small task for a doctor to determine the right homeopathic treatment. It appear to to take a lot more time, patience and thoughtfulness to do than prescribing a drug. There are no standard remedies for any one condition.  Homeopathy treats the PERSON, not the condition. 

This is a huge distinction. 

Ten people could have the same symptoms—each requiring a different homeopathic treatment.  This is one of the reasons that research studies are difficult to perform. Clinical trials of a conventional drug are done by testing a specific drug on groups of people, with some taking a placebo (pretend drug) to compare the effects.  Homeopathy simply doesn’t work this way.

     So the bottom line is, well… the bottom line.  Homeopathy can take a long time to do and it doesn’t command the high dollar price of conventional medicine.  Homeopathy is covered by health insurance throughout most of Europe, but it is NOT in the United States. 

History of Modern Homeopathy

The roots of homeopathy date back to Hippocrates, in Greece.  The development of the science 
of modern homeopathy is credited to German physician, Dr. Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann. Hahnemann felt that the traditional medicine of his time did as much harm as good.  For some time,  he gave up his medical practice and focused on chemistry.  His experiments revealed the principle that a healing process could be triggered using super-diluted formulations of various natural substances.  This was in striking contrast to the principles of allopathic medicine (pharmaceutical or “Western” medicine), which is of course the dominant approach in America.  Pharmaceutical medicine involves highly concentrated forms of various substances.  In essence, homeopathic medicine is the exact opposite approach.  Doctors throughout the world were attracted to homeopathy during the late 1700's.  

Dr. Hahnemann discovered that a substance that could make a healthy person ill could also help treat the same symptoms of that illness in a sick person—if that substance was extremely diluted. 
  One of the first tests he did involved using Peruvian bark (Cinchona) from which quinine; the treatment for Malaria was derived.  He found that small doses of Cinchona given to a healthy person would cause symptoms similar to Malaria.  He later discovered that much smaller, diluted doses, strongly shaken, would produce an effective remedy. 

Traditional Western medicine’s philosophy is to treat symptoms with opposite or contrary chemical substances.  It should be clearly understood that homeopathy is not a chemical treatment at all—it uses frequency energetics to trigger healing responses. Critics of homeopathy have consistently cried that homeopathy cannot work because there is no physical or chemical substance.  They fail to understand that homeopaths have never claimed there is any chemical substance.  

Homeopathy takes into account the whole person, and is actually not a treatment for disease, in the conventional medical sense.   A doctor practicing homeopathic methods will take into account not only the patient’s symptoms, but their entire emotional, general, and physical condition, as well as minute details not typically considered by most doctors.  

Since homeopathy is a whole person approach, the treatments selected are often completely different for each person—even if they have the same symptoms or condition as another.
   A homeopathic consultation usually takes way longer than most conventional medical exams.  Much more detail is sought.  For example, one would not simply tell the doctor “I have headaches” and be prescribed a remedy in the manner that one would take Tylenol.

Homeopathy is a complex healing art, which is based on the principle of similarity: "Like Cures Like."  This means that the goal is to use substances that in their normal size and form—would cause the condition being treated. The difference is that the homeopathic remedy is tremendously diluted with water and/or alcohol.  It is thought that this leaves an energetic “footprint” of the original substance, which supports your body to respond by working extra hard itself to naturally eliminate the problem. Homeopathic medicine appears to boost your immune system to handle the health problems from the inside.   

Dr. Hahnemann, the “father” of homeopathy, was an advocate of patients getting plenty of fresh air and sunshine, rest, proper diet, good hygiene and various other natural health measures.
  This was during a time in history when other physicians considered these practices to be ridiculous.   

Homeopathy was introduced to America in 1824.  It was at a time when

conventional (allopathic) medicine was showing tremendous intolerance and

animosity towards any competition.  The American Medical Association called

it “quackery,” as did for any other system of treatment (including chiropractic in 1895).  

     The American Institute of Homeopathy was founded in 1844,

prior to the formation of the American Medical Association (AMA) in 1847.  

But the problems began when the AMA kicked out any doctors who practiced homeopathy

(regardless of patient success) from their professional organization.  But it wasn’t until the

turn of the century that the AMA’s efforts were fully successful at eliminating homeopathy

from the American map.  When Rockefeller and Carnegie donated huge amounts of money

to AMA medicine; it destroyed homeopathy in favor of pharmaceutical-based allopathic (Western) medicine. 

The AMA was never meant to be a patients’ organization; it is a doctors’ organization.  

Did you know that in the 1950s and 1960s, the AMA campaigned hard to oppose Medicare?  In 1987, the AMA was found guilty of conspiracy to destroy the chiropractic profession?  

Homeopathy Makes a Comeback in America

Fortunately, by the 1970s, homeopathy began its American comeback as people started to become aware of natural foods, exercise and the effects of pollution and environmental toxins.  Today, homeopathy is used worldwide with expanding popularity.  It has survived and flourished because it works and it’s safe.  There’s a time and a place for all different treatment methods.  

In the past 15 years or so, many advancements from the "Classical" or traditional homeopathic approach have been made in Europe that have gradually filtered into the United States. Of course, we'd love to see more scientific research. But research is challenging with homeopathy because treatment is rarely the same for any two individuals. Thus, the double-blind study approach is tough to do. Homeopathy advocates have pointed this out, along with the fact that countless traditional "FDA-approved" Western medications have never passed legitimate scientific testing.  

The difference is that homeopathy has proven to be magnificently harmless and safe, while the same cannot be remotely said for conventional pharmaceutical drugs. 

It would be wonderful if the fortunes consistently spent on research studies to validate pharmaceutical drugs were used equally for homeopathy.  Homeopathic medicine is truly is dirt cheap compared to pharmaceutical medicine.  Funding for scientific research, like it or not, is often motivated by the potential profits from the outcomes.     

M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Study Validates Homeopathy!

Doctors and patients who've experienced the wonders of homeopathy know it does not need any validation.  However, it is wonderful to see that one of the most respected cancer research institutions in the world published a groundbreaking study that demonstrated proof that homeopathic medicine could be effective for people with cancer.  The remedies used in the study have been around for over 100 years!   

This study demonstrated that specific homeopathic remedies were supportive to killing cancer cells without affecting the normal cells!  The study, "Cytotoxic effects of ultra-diluted remedies on breast cancer cells" was published in the February 2010 issue of the International Journal of Oncology.  

Don't be deceived by naysayers, who try to discredit homeopathy. Studies like the one conducted by the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center merely further document (academically) what has been known for generations. Those who criticize homeopathy because science has not figured out how it works, must consider the following: a large percentage of the conventional medications appearing in the Physicians’ Desk Reference (PDR) are listed as having no knowledge of how they work either! It’s ridiculous to think that a good  method needs to be fully understood to us it.  If this were the case, aspirin would never have been used!

England's royal family has used and advocated homeopathy since it was first established. Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles are avid supporters of homeopathy, as was Princess Diana.  The Queen goes to the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital.  The Queen Mother, who lived to 101, was the principal patron of the British Homeopathic Association. You might be surprised to know that several U.S. presidents used homeopathy too, including: Abraham Lincoln, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, Chester Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Bill Clinton. Many wealthy celebrities use homeopathy.  This is important because these people can afford anything they want in health care… but they choose homeopathy.

Homeopathic treatment is NOT a means of medically diagnosing or treating specific conditions, or as a replacement for necessary traditional medications  

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The Liebell Clinic: Chronic Pain & Wellness Solutions

​Donald K. Liebell, DC, BCAO

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Virginia Beach VA 23452 
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