Samuel Hahnemann
The father of homoeopathy

Homoeopathy (also spelled homœopathy or homoeopathy), from the Greek words όμοιος, hómoios (similar) and πάθος, páthos (suffering), is a system of alternative medicine that aims to treat "like with like." Despite being widely discredited in scientific circles homeopathy has grown in popularity in recent years. The term "homeopathy" was coined by the German physician Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann (1755–1843) and first appeared in print in 1807,although he began outlining his beliefs of medical similars in a series of articles and monographs in 1796.

Homoeopathic formulas are based on the theory that even when a remedy is diluted with water to the point where no starting material remains, the water will retain a "memory" of what it was once in contact with. Homoeopaths assert that the therapeutic potency of a remedy can be increased by serial dilution combined with succussion, or vigorous shaking. This dilution is often repeated such that there is no active molecule present in the solution. Because of this, homoeopathy is often characterised as a mystical belief system that depends on faith from practitioners and patients, and therefore distinct from conventional medicine which is generally supported by scientific evidence. Homeopathy regards diseases as morbid derangements of the organism, and states that instances of disease in different people differ fundamentally. Homeopathy views a sick person as having a dynamic disturbance in a hypothetical "vital force", a disturbance which, homeopaths claim, underlies standard medical diagnoses of named diseases.

Since its inception homoeopathy has received criticisms on theoretical grounds, and has been subject to a number of studies aimed at testing its efficacy scientifically. The theory that extreme dilution makes drugs more powerful by enhancing their "spirit-like medicinal powers" is inconsistent with the laws of chemistry and physics and the observed dose-response relationships of conventional drugs; critics of homoeopathy frequently describe it as pseudoscience and quackery. Placebo-controlled clinical trials have given some mixed results, but most of those showing positive results are found to have methodological problems, and the better-quality trials (e.g. those using double-blind techniques and large numbers of people) give negative results. Several examples of publications in high ranking journals, that were later withdrawn, are known. Additionally, cases have been reported of life-threatening complications resulting from attempts to treat serious conditions solely with homoeopathic remedies.

Homoeopathy is particularly popular in Europe and India, although less so in the USA, where such therapies have been subject to tighter regulation (citation needed). Stricter European regulations have also been implemented recently by the EDQM

HOMOEOPATHY - around the world

There are estimated to be more than 100,000 physicians practising homoeopathy worldwide, with an estimated 500 million people receiving treatment. More than 12,000 medical doctors and licensed health care practitioners administer homoeopathic treatment in the UK, France, and Germany. Homoeopathy was regulated by the European Union in 2001, by Directive 2001/83/EC.

HOMOEOPATHY - India

Homoeopathy arrived in India with Dr John Martin Honigberger (1795-1869) in Lahore, in 1829-30, and is officially recognized. "The first doctor who brought homoeopathy to India was Dr. Martin Honigburger, who first came to the Punjab...in 1829." India has the largest homoeopathic infrastructure in the world, with 300,000 qualified homeopaths, 184 colleges, 7500 government clinics, and 307 hospitals. The Association of Qualified Homoeopaths in India (IHMA) is the largest of its kind.

Interesting education pattern in India is that homoeopathy is taught at the university as a full length medical course which amounts to four and half years of full time medical studies plus one year of ward training; entailing the study of anatomy, physiology, pathology, internal medicine, surgery, gynecology and obstetrics, pediatrics, psychology, besides the homoeopathic pharmacopia, philosophy, pharmacy and the repertory. The homoeopathic doctors in India are considered medical doctors, unlike in many other western countries; and they are trained to clinically diagnose medical and surgical conditions