Treatment Method

Homeopathy is based on several principles. One is the "law of similars," which states that "like cures like." Variations of this principle have been used in other forms of medicine for thousands of years. In homeopathy, it is believed that, if large doses of a substance produce specific symptoms, very small doses of that substance will cure the same symptoms. For example, because large doses of arsenic produce stomach cramps, very low doses of arsenic may be used to treat them.

The use of very low doses of substances is another important principle of homeopathy. Natural substances, such as herbs, minerals, or animal products, are mixed with water or alcohol and then diluted 1:10 or 1:100. These dilutions are then repeated many times, so that the final solution is extremely dilute. In homeopathic notation, X is used for 1:10 dilutions, C is used for 1:100 dilutions, and a number is used for the number of times a specific dilution is made. For example, 12X refers to a solution that has been diluted 12 times in a 1:10 manner, and 30C signifies a 1:100 dilution performed 30 times.

Many homeopathic preparations are so dilute that they do not contain even a single molecule of the original substance. In this situation, it is argued that the water has a "memory" for the substance that it once contained. Also, by the laws of homeopathy, it is believed that a solution is more potent if it contains less of a substance. These ideas of water "memory" and increased potency with increased dilution, which defy the conventional laws of physics, chemistry, and biology, generate much of the controversy about homeopathy. The use of these dilute solutions has raised questions about whether homeopathy is simply a way to produce a placebo response.

Homeopathy is focused on identifying both symptoms and the personal features of the patient. In addition, homeopathic treatment aims to use the body's natural healing processes. This is in contrast to conventional medicine, in which symptoms are used primarily to diagnose an underlying disease; the personal characteristics of an individual are not a critical component of the diagnostic process or choice of therapy, and treatment involves the use of drugs and other therapies that improve the disease process but do not necessarily alter the body's natural healing abilities.

Because of the detailed evaluation process, homeopaths probably become more familiar with their patients and spend more time with them than do physicians who practice conventional medicine. One study found that physicians in the United States who practice homeopathy spend more than twice as much time with their patients than do physicians who do not practice homeopathy. The in-depth relationship that develops in homeopathy may be important for the healing process and may certainly augment any type of placebo effect.

A variety of homeopathic remedies has been suggested for multiple sclerosis (MS). The treatment regimen depends on the individual and the specific symptoms. Homeopathic remedies sometimes recommended for MS include Argentum nitricum, Aurum muriaticum, and Plumbum metallicum.

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