Hahnemann's homeopathy is fading away in the 21st century

A series of meta-analyses have shown that the therapeutic claims of homeopathy lack scientific justification. But does it deserve an extinction?

Homeopathy, a pseudo scientific system of alternative medicine, was invented by German physician Samuel Hahnemann in 1796 based on his doctrine - similia similibus curentur (like cures like). Thus, its practitioners, called homeopaths, believe that a substance that causes symptoms of a disease in healthy people would cure similar symptoms in sick people.
Homeopathic preparations made using dilution are termed remedies. The selected substance is repeatedly diluted until the final product is chemically indistinguishable from the diluent. Often not even a single molecule of the original substance remains. Between each dilution homeopaths shake the product, claiming this makes the diluent remember the original substance after its removal and such preparations cure disease when orally taken.
Arunachal Pradesh has only one North East Medical College & Hospital, set up at Itanagar in 2001, while the state government has set up 69 homoeopathic dispensaries across the state and appointed 129 homoeopathic doctors. 
Now considering a total of 582 sub-health centres, 180 health welfare centres, 148 public health centres (PHCs) and 61 community health centres in 25 districts, 69 homoeopathic dispensaries may be less. 
However, many NGOs run homeopathic dispensaries, like Donyi-Polo Charitable Homeopathic Dispensary and RKM Hospital at Itanagar besides many private homoeopaths. On the other hand traditional medicine practiced by the indigenous experts is equally very effective in this tribal dominated state. 
Homeopathy is the longest established alternative medicine. However, Hahnemann rejected the mainstream medicine of late 18th century as irrational and inadvisable because it was largely ineffective and often harmful. He claimed that the medicine he had been taught to practice sometimes did the patient more harm than good.
After giving up his practice around 1784, he made his living chiefly as a writer and translator, while investigating the causes of medicine's alleged errors.
While translating Scottish physician and chemist William Cullen's A Treatise on the Materia Medica, he encountered the claim that cinchona, Peruvian tree bark, was effective in treating malaria because of its astringency. He ingested some bark specifically to investigate and experienced fever, shivering and joint pain: symptoms similar to those of malaria. Thus, he believed that all effective drugs produce symptoms in healthy individuals similar to those of the diseases that they treat, in accord with the 'law of similars' that had been proposed by ancient physicians. 
Homeopathy is the longest established alternative medicine
Thus, he coined the name 'homeopathy, which comes from Greek words hómoios (like) and pathos (suffering). He first used the term homeopathy in his essay Indications of the Homeopathic Employment of Medicines in Ordinary Practice, published in Hufeland's Journal in 1807 and he also coined the expression 'allopathic medicine', which was used to pejoratively refer to traditional western medicine.
Representative image
Image: Representative image
An article of Hahnemann, who served as a faculty member of University of Leipzig, on homeopathic approach was first published in a German-language medical journal in 1796. Following a series of further essays, in 1810 he published 'Organon of the Rational Art of Healing', followed over the years by four further editions entitled The Organon of the Healing Art, which was the first systematic treatise containing all his detailed instructions on the subject. 
A 6th Organon edition, dating back to February 1842 was published many years after his death. Hahnemann continued practicing and researching homeopathy as well as writing and lecturing till his death in 1843 in Paris at the age of 88 years.
However, homeopathy was very popular in the 19th century. It was introduced to United States in 1825 with the opening of its first homeopathic school in 1835. 
Throughout 19th century, dozens of homeopathic institutions appeared in Europe and the US because of its apparent success as many of the modern treatments then were harmful and ineffective. By the end of the century the practice began to wane, with the last school in the US getting closed in 1920.
But, homeopathy made a significant comeback during the 1970s with sales of some homeopathic products rising by tenfold. This corresponded to the rise of the New Age Movement and may be due to longer consultations by homeopaths and irrational preference for 'natural' products.
In the 21st century, a series of meta-analyses have shown that the therapeutic claims of homeopathy lack scientific justification. As a result, national and international bodies have recommended the withdrawal of government funding for homeopathy in healthcare. 
National bodies in Australia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and France, including European Academies' Science Advisory Council and Russian Academy of Sciences have concluded that homeopathy is ineffective and recommended against the practice of receiving any further funding. 
National Health Service in England has stopped funding and France intends to do the same in 2021. Spain too has banned homeopathy. The fundamental implausibility of homeopathy as well as a lack of demonstrable effectiveness has led to it being characterized within the scientific and medical communities as quackery and fraud. 

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