After some discussions and reflection I have decided I'm continuing on with my first round of research, on alternative medicine, however this time I am going to look specifically into homeopathy. What it is, how it works, what conditions it treats, and some controversies surrounding it. Let's get started!
Homeopathic medicine refers to the use of a philosophy that the body can heal itself without the use of conventional methods (i.e: surgery). Symptoms arisen from disease are thought of to be unproblematic, seen as normal responses of the body as it fights off the foreign invaders, whereas in Western medicine they are to be "tamed" by use of drugs, etc. Homeopathy is based on the idea that if a substance causes symptoms in someone who is otherwise healthy, then giving small dosages of that highly diluted substance can cure the illness. Basically, these substances are inducing and amplifying the normal healing processes of the body to cure the illness. (1)(2)
Homeopathy was first used in Germany, in the late 18th century, and was then (and still is) widely used in all of Europe. It uses the law of similars ("like cures like"), which derives from the meaning of the word in Greek: homeo meaning similar, pathos meaning suffering. This law refers to the use of the symptom-inducing substance in order to cure a disease. (1)(3) There is also the law of minimal dose, as stated before, where the substances are so diluted that the molecules of the substance are no longer presence. The lower the dosage, the greater the effectiveness. (4)
This branch of alternative medicine is used to treat illnesses that are both acute and chronic. The former consisting of colds, sore throats, migraines, and the latter consisting of depression, arthritis, and asthma, for example. (5)
The remedies involved in homeopathic medicine are safe, as they are all regulated by the Natural Health Products Directorate of the Health Products and Food Branch of Health Canada, and as there is so little of the substance in the dosage given to patients, any side effects should be minimal. However, no studies have proven that homeopathic remedies are a safe alternative to vaccines, so it is always in the patient's best interest to discuss with a doctor about the best route of treatment (1)
There are quite a few controversies surrounding homeopathic medicine, as it is relatively "new" and not completely widely used in North America yet (in comparison to its origin of creation). Firstly, not many studies/not much evidence supports that homeopathy is actually effective in the treatment of illnesses, as there isn't much research on their safety or their effect on specific conditions. Also, active ingredients could be found in much higher dosages in some remedies, therefore causing more severe/persistent side effects in certain conditions.
Mainly, homeopathy is controversial because it does not follow fundamental science concepts, such as why so little of an ingredient should cause such a drastic change or have a cure on illnesses. It is 'unreliable' in the fact that scientists cannot be sure of how much of an ingredient is in a dosage of a remedy, as the amount of dilution cannot be confirmed or tested of the effectiveness it may have on the body. And, since homeopathic remedies are not specific and are used in different dilutions and with possibly various other remedies, it is very difficult to trace their efficacy and impact on the healing process. For these reasons, it is extremely controversial and in some aspects, unreliable, and the decision of its use should be made based off of the philosophy of the patient and the practitioner. (4)
Here's a really cool video that talks about some more of the myths and controversies of homeopathic medicine, if you're interested:
That's it for this round, I hope you enjoyed! Next round, I'm going to be briefly summarizing my findings in these past rounds, and comparing/contrasting both alternative and conventional medicine. Thanks for reading!