Developed in Germany more than 200 years ago, homeopathy is a medical system that strives to stimulate the body’s capacity to heal itself by giving it small amounts of diluted substances called remedies. These remedies come from natural substances that are obtained from plants, minerals or animals. There are two main principles that homeopathy adheres to. The first is the law of similars. Based on the theory “like cures like,” this law says that a disease can be cured by a material that creates similar symptoms in healthy people. When given to an ill person in a smaller dose, the theory says the illness can be alleviated. The second principle is the law of infinitesimals. It states that materials treat disease best when they are diluted, or distilled in alcohol or water, to the point that none of the original material is left. People are treated on an individual basis, which includes taking a health history and looking at physical, mental and emotional features.
Some studies have been done on the effectiveness of homeopathic medicine, though they have been small, and often have had inconsistent results. The scientific community, in general has not accepted the theories on which homeopathic medicine is based, resulting in it not being broadly accepted by conventional medicine.
One study has found that for the treatment of hay fever a homeopathic nasal spray may be as effective as the conventional spray cromolyn sodium. Another study has found that a homeopathic remedy for perennial allergic rhinitis may improve nasal airflow. Mayo Clinic’s take on homeopathy? “Because homeopathic medicine mainly involves diluted substances containing little, if any, of their original formulas, the risk they pose is likely minimal. The risks you may be taking are spending money on something that may not work and forgoing proven conventional treatments for homeopathic therapies.” Guide to Alternative Medicines Mayo Clinic 2013