What does homeopathic actually mean?

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What is homeopathy?

Homeopathic medicine uses small amounts of a drug that may not typically elicit a therapeutic effect. Sometimes these substances can be slightly toxic, but small doses help heal. In theory, homeopathy bolsters the body’s defenses to combat disease.
 
It’s kind of like putting oil or butter on a burn. At first, it might hurt or sting, but in some instances a small dose ultimately heals the burn.
 
Homeopathy can be used to treat both acute and chronic conditions. A common myth is that these products contain steroids; however, this isn’t true. Homeopathic treatments can be used in conjunction with other prescription or over-the-counter medications.
 
As the treatment of diseases has shifted to helping patients achieve total health and overall wellness, homeopathic medicine can play a role. Health care providers or homeopathic practitioners should assess a patient’s health, wellness and lifestyle before recommending a homeopathic cure.

How can it be used?

Homeopathic remedies can be used to treat a variety of illnesses, including travel sickness, diarrhea, influenza and insomnia.
 
Cutting an onion often causes eyes to tear up. This can relieve the thin, watery nasal discharge from a cold.
 
Chamomile can serve as an excellent sleep remedy in the form of tea or lotion. It can also be used to relieve babies’ colic or teething pain.
 
Hypericum, commonly known as St. John’s wort, contains a substance that works similarly to some antidepressants. It can be used to treat depression as well as injuries to the nerves or to the finger, toes and back.

Is it safe?

Homeopathic products are regulated by the FDA but not reviewed or approved for safety and effectiveness.
 
With proper advice and in combination with science-based, modern medicine, homeopathic treatments can be effective. However, pregnant women are advised against using homeopathic medicine.
 
Before introducing any new treatments, patients should consult with their primary care provider.
 
For more information, visit the National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Medicine.
 
Robert Weber is administrator of pharmacy services at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.