Homeopathy is a natural healing method based on the principle of "like cures like." This means symptoms are treated with an extremely diluted dose of whatever it is that might have caused the ailment in the first place. The doses of medicine are so diluted; there might not be any active elements of the original solution remaining in the actual medicine when treating the person with the disorder.
This leads to the next point, that homeopathy works on the energetic level, not the physical level. Homeopathy treatments influence the energy system of the patient (for want of a better word). The method impacts the whole person physically, emotionally, and mentally. It views a disorder as an imbalance in a person's chi, or life force energy, and acts to stimulate the body's own natural inner healing ability, bringing it back into balance.
In this way, homeopathy is much like acupuncture. This is another difficult to explain healing method that focuses on the body's energy system and restoring balance. Acupuncture and homeopathy both have a physical component, but the healing cannot be explained in terms of physical, chemical reactions.
A German physician, Samuel Hahnemann, who sought an alternative to the brutal healing methods practiced at the time, originated homeopathy in the late 1700s. Homeopathy was very well established in the US in the 1800's and beyond. Homeopathic hospitals were common and the method was taught in medical schools. So it was quite popular, as well as sanctioned, in the US until about the 1930's. This diminished with the rise in power of the American Medical Association, among other issues.
Homeopathy is still quite popular and practiced widely around the world, especially in Europe and India. Hundreds of millions of people access homeopathy every year for healing.
Homeopathic remedies can be used to treat just about any combination of symptoms or injuries. They are also used for over all wellness and prevention. Single medicines contain only one active ingredient and are intended to treat a very specific condition. A series of detailed questions about a person's physical, mental, and emotional status is used to identify the best individual remedy.
There are also combined medicines that treat a variety of concerns. These have a number of active ingredients. Arnica cream is a popular example of this. It is used for treating muscle soreness and injuries.
Typically, homeopathic medicines are considered to be safe, have no side effects, and can be used in conjunction with mainstream treatments. Locating a homeopathic provider is easier and easier with the growth of the alternative health community in the US in recent years. The remedies themselves can easily be found at all health food type stores.
A couple of concerns about homeopathy can also be raised. Sometimes when using a homeopathic medicine, the symptoms can seem to get worse before they get better. This has been attributed to the body recreating symptoms in reaction to receiving a treatment containing the elements that cause the illness.
Also, there is no confirmed scientific proof that homeopathy actually works to cure people. This is a concern for the skeptics. Many studies conclude that health benefits of homeopathy are due to the placebo effect. In other words, it's all in their heads and has nothing to do with medicine. Some will then say this affirms the effectiveness of the treatment. It's supposed to work this way on the energetic level.
Homeopathy is very different from conventional western medicine. It has many advocates and many skeptics. By some it is seen as a medicine of the future as we grow in understanding of the human energy system and all the avenues through which healing can occur. In the meantime, the reach of homeopathy is expanding and it satisfies an ever growing number of people's desire for natural healing.