Homeopathic doctors have been around since the 18th century. Homeopathy is from the Greek word homoios "similar" and pathos "suffering" or "disease".
Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine that was first defined by Samuel Hahnemann in the 1700's. Homeopathic doctors believe that an ill person can be treated using a substance that can produce in a healthy person, symptoms similar to those of the illness.
The treatments that homeopathic practitioners use generally begin with a thorough examination of the patient's history, including their physical, mental and emotional states, their life circumstances and any physical or emotional illnesses.
This information is then translated into a formula of mental and physical symptoms, including body type, predispositions, and likes and dislikes. This concludes in a comprehensive representation of each patient's overall health.
Further discussions with the patient help the homeopath find the one drug most closely matching the "symptom totality" of the person. Because there are many methods of determining the most-similar remedy, homeopaths sometimes disagree. This is due to the complexity of the "totality of symptoms" concept, and homeopaths not using all of the symptoms, but deciding for themselves which are most characteristic.
Other diagnostic methods may include kinesiology (muscle testing) or electrodermal biofeedback. These styles are vastly used in France, Canada and the U.S.
Each diagnosis is different depending on the subjective evaluation of the case analysis and the knowledge and experience of the homeopath.
There is some variation in treatment approaches among homeopaths.
"Classical" homeopathy usually involves detailed examinations of the patient's history and infrequent doses of a single remedy while the patient is monitored for improvements in their symptoms. This is the form of treatment most similar to the one develpoed by Hahnemann and is the most common form of practice.
"Clinical" or "Combination" homeopathy involves combinations of remedies (two to four ingredients) to address the illness' symptoms.
"Constitutional" is where one dose is given, usually of a high potency. The patient then waits up to six months to see if symptoms change.
This form of treatment is best for chronic, deeply-rooted, inherited predispositions, such as allergies, cancer, depression, old vaccination damage, famililial asthma or chemical exposures.
"Complex" homeopathy is where remedies may contain up to 25 ingredients. Multiple ingredients are used to stimulate what is called homeopathic or lymphatic drainage. This method is best for complex, difficult cases where there are multiple problems at the same time. Drainage helps flush out toxins from organs or systems that are overloaded due to chronic, genetic or environmental factors. German homeopathic doctors favor this type of approach and diagnosis may also be done using kinesiology.
Homeopathic doctors are found throughout the world. In 2005, there were approximately 100,000 physicians using homeopathy worldwide. This number reflects that it is one of the most popluar and widely used complementary alternative therapies worldwide.
The most concentrated areas of homeopathic doctors are in India, Scotland and Australia.
Homeopathic usage around the world varies from 2% of people using it per year in the United States and the United Kingdom, to 15% in India where it is considered a part of Indian traditional medicine.
The National Health Service in the UK runs five homeopathic hospitals. In the 1990's, which was the height of homeopathic prescriptions in England, they were between 5.9% and 7.5%. Scotland's homeopathic prescription rate was over 12% at this time. This number has dropped by over 40% in the past three years.
Training & Certification
Homeopathy is fairly common in some countries and uncommon in others; is strictly regulated in some countries and unregulated in others.
Only professional doctors who are qualified and have graduated from a recognized medical school can practice homeopathy.
Starting in 1991, doctors who want to practice homeopathy have to complete 2,300 hours of training prior to licensure. Homeopathy is part of the national health system.
Physicians who choose to use homeopathy must follow guidelines set by their province's College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Since 1911, the Chinese have favored homeopathy as a respected and professionally accepted form of medical treatment. There is a homeopathy hospital in Shanghai.
Denmark & France
In both countries homeopathic doctors must have a license to diagnose any illness or dispense any product that is to treat an illness.
The title "Homeopathic Physician" is legally protected and is given by the Federal Medical Chamber after a three year training program. Seventy-five percent of doctors in Germany use alternative medicine, since elements of complimentary medicine are part of the standard curriculum for all medical schools.
Homeopathy is officially taught at the medical faculties of the universities of Berlin, Dusseldorf, Hannover, Heidelberg and Freiburg.
Homeopathy is considered part of Indian traditional medicine. They have the largest homeopathic infrastructure in the world. There are up to an estimated 300,000 practicing homeopaths, 180 colleges teaching homeopathy courses, 7,500 government clinics and 307 hospitals that dispense homeopathic remedies.
The Ministry of Health of Iran recognizes homeopathy as a legal alternative treatment. Only medical doctors can practice homeopathy in Iran.
In 1993 the Israeli Institute for Homeopathy was created to regulate homeopathic practices in Israel.
Laos has a variety of traditional medical systems, with one of them being homeopathy. At the newly established Faculty of Biomedicine, it will be introduced as a discipline for study.
In 1985, a presidential decree established the first homeopathic school and regulations for homeopathic doctor's training requirements. Homeopathy is currently a part of the national health care system.
Russia / Soviet Union
Homeopathy was introduced to Russia as far back as 1824. In January 1998, the Russian government held a meeting of its Health Care Ministry to discuss the creation of a Doctor of Homeopathy.
Homeopathy is regulated by the Associated Health Service Professions Act of 1982. This was established to provide a registration and licensing framework for health professions. All homeopathic colleges were closed in the 1960's by the South African Medical Council, but conventional medical doctors retained the right to use homeopathy.
United Arab Emrites
The UAE Ministry of Health (MOH) recognizes and regulates the practice of homeopathy in a systematic way. Medical doctors and lay practitioners can practice homeopathy once they pass MOH exams.
Homeopathy is not regulated by law in the UK, but the National Health Service (NHS) at present operates five homeopathic hospitals for British citizens. The Faculty of Homeopathy, whose membership consists of registered healthcare professionals, has over 1,400 members. The Society of Homeopaths, which is considered the largest group of non-medically qualified homeopaths, has over 1,500 members.
Homeopathy is not very common in the U.S. Approximately 2% of people seek treatment from homeopathic doctors each year. At its height of influence, in 1900, there were 121 regular medical schools, with 22 of them being fully homeopathic and 10 of them eclectic.
Professional or 'unprofessional' homeopaths can practice as a counselor, giving people advice about the best homeopathic remedies for a known condition. This depends on the laws governing the practice of medicine, which vary in each state.
Some practitioners in the U.S. hold another medical degree that allows them to diagnose and prescribe: MD, DO, DC, ND, nurse-practitioner, physician's assistant, etc.
Homeopathy is not regulated in any state so anyone can use it in the legitimate course of their business. However, you cannot call yourself a "homeopathic doctor" or imply that you are practicing medicine, unless you have a medical degree. You then will be regulated by the laws governing the practice of medicine in that state.
In all states, you cannot practice medicine without a license. There are homeopathy courses specifically geared toward medical doctors or other practitioners with medical training. These courses spend less time on the basics of health care, unnecessary for MDs, and more time on specific applications of homeopathy.
In the United States, the American Board of Homeotherapeutics certifies MDs or DOs who meet their educational standards and pass both oral and written exams. Successful candidates are awarded with the designation of diplomate in homeopathy (DHt).
States in the U.S. that offer homeopathy training are: Arizona, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Massachusetts and Utah.
Prerequisites vary by school. Some courses are structured only for medical practitioners and other courses are open to any interested person and have no formal prerequisites.
What to look for in homeopathic doctors?
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- Where and how long did they study?
- Did they study with teachers, schools or apprenticed with other practitioners?
- What style(s) of homeopathy do they practice?
- How will the style(s) match a particular patient or condition?
- Have they treated this particular condition before?
- What is their success rate?
- What are their price rates?