Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine where an ill person is be treated using a greatly diluted substance that can produce, in a healthy person, symptoms similar to those of the illness. Developed by Samuel Hahnemann, a 18th century German physician, symptoms are viewed as the attempts of the person to resist disease rather than negative effects. Hahnemann tested a treatment for malaria personally by taking many doses of quinine; which induced malarial-like symptoms. He concluded that quinine worked because it created these reactions in a healthy person; mimicking and supporting our own healing responses.
The principle of “like cures like”, and hundreds of homeopathic remedies have since been tested by giving them to healthy people and recording the responses and thus remedies were created to be given to treat sick people with the same symptoms.
According to homeopathic theory, multiple dilutions with shaking between each dilution removes the toxic effects of the remedy while the qualities of the substance are retained by the diluent (water, sugar, or alcohol). The end product is usually diluted to the point it is chemically indistinguishable from pure water, sugar or alcohol.
The effectiveness of homeopathic treatment differs from patient to patient, and scientific evidence has not been able to prove it has any effect other than a placebo effect. That said, many people swear that it has helped then when nothing else did, and it has large acceptance as an alternative medicine throughout the Western World. In the UK, there are 5 government sponsored homeopathic hospitals.