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Homeopathy is a safe, gentle, and natural system of healing that works with your body to relieve symptoms, restore itself, and improve your overall health. It is extremely safe to use, even with very small children and pets, has none of the side effects of many traditional medications, is very affordable, is made from natural substances, and is FDA regulated.

It is used to treat acute illnesses, like colds, ear infections, migraines, and sore throats, as well as chronic conditions, like asthma, depression, autism, and arthritis.

Homeopathic medicines – known as “remedies” – are made from natural sources (e.g., plants, minerals), and are environmentally friendly and cruelty free. Most are available over the counter in grocery stores, drug stores, health food stores, homeopathic pharmacies, and online. They are also extremely affordable. Homeopathic remedies when used as directed, are completely safe for everyone – including pregnant and nursing women, infants, children, and adults. They are given in such small doses that they don’t cause side effects.

One thing to note is that the word homeopathy is not a general or “umbrella” term that describes a variety of different natural therapies. Although homeopathic remedies are derived from natural substances, homeopathy should not be confused with herbal medicine, Chinese medicine, or other types of natural medicines. It is its own, unique therapeutic system.

Anyone can learn to treat simple conditions safely at home using homeopathy, but a professional should treat serious or life-threatening conditions.

How Homeopathic Medicines are Made

Homeopathic medicines are drug products made by homeopathic pharmacies in accordance with the standards and processes described in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS)—the official homeopathic manufacturing manual for the United States. Homeopathic medicines are regulated by the FDA and homeopathic pharmacies must comply with the FDA’s current Good Manufacturing Practices. The substances used to prepare homeopathic medicines include plants (such as Wolf’s Bane, Deadly Nightshade, dandelion, or plantain), minerals (for example, iron phosphate, arsenic oxide, or sodium chloride), or animal products (e.g., the venom of a number of poisonous snakes, or the ink of the cuttlefish). There are even a few homeopathic medicines prepared from chemical drug substances such as penicillin or streptomycin.

The technique for making a homeopathic medicine involves repeated dilution of a specific substance until little of the original substance remains. When manufacturing a homeopathic medicine from a plant, for example, the first step involves cleaning and preparing the plant with alcohol and water, as prescribed in the HPUS, to make a tincture. This tincture is then diluted and strongly shaken. This step is repeated over and over to create increasing potencies of the medicine. For example, one drop of a plant tincture may be mixed with 9 drops of alcohol (to achieve a ratio of 1:10), and the mixture will then be strongly shaken—a process known as succussion. The resulting homeopathic medicine is labeled with a potency according to the number of times this has been done.

For instance, a substance that has been diluted 1:10 and succussed six times will be labeled 6X, and contains 1 part of the original substance in 1 million parts of the diluent. Homeopathic medicines are available in various dosage forms and potency ratios. Two of the most common dosage forms are pellets and tablets, which are composed of sugar and lactose saturated with the liquid dilution. The most common types of potencies available are X (1:10 ratio), C (1:100 ratio), and LM or Fifty Millesimal (1:50,000 ratio). (Note that a 1M potency is simply an abbreviation for 1000C.) Like traditional medicines, a homeopathic medicine can be designated as a prescription or non-prescription drug. Most homeopathic medicines are non-prescription, unless they a) have limited use for serious conditions; or b) are made from a toxic substance and are low enough in potency (dilution) that they contain a potentially harmful amount of this substance