The practice of homeopathy was founded in the late 1800s. It is based upon the theory that "like cures like" or the law of similars. This law states that the body's ability to heal itself and fight an illness is stimulated by orally ingesting very minute amounts of a homeopathic remedy containing a substance that at higher concentrations would cause the very symptoms the person wants to get rid of. For instance, if a particular substance is known to cause tremor, diluting it several hundred or thousand-fold is believed to trigger the body to reject or lessen the tremor. The belief is that the remedy stimulates the body to use its own natural healing mechanisms. This is similar in theory to how allergy shots or vaccines are believed to work. Homeopaths use herbs, minerals, or animal products which they crush and dissolve in grain alcohol or lactose and then store and refer to as the "mother of tincture." They then dilute the tincture typically into 1:10 or 1:100. These remedies are prescribed to be taken several times daily for short periods for a few days. Homeopathy was very popular in the 1800s in the United States before the development of pharmaceutical companies. It remains heavily practiced in Europe and is regaining popularity in the United States with an estimated 3000 practitioners and over 25 homeopathic schools in the United States. Additional information can be found in Ref. (7).
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