Homeopathy explained..

Excerpts from the link;
Article by : Kim Ridley.
....homeopathy (is) a 200-year-old therapeutic system that aims to stimulate the body to heal itself. Homeopathy is based on the premise of “like cures like” or the law of similars, which posits that a substance that causes symptoms in large doses can cure the same symptoms in small doses. Homeopaths use infinitesimally diluted doses of substances derived from plants, animals and minerals to trigger the body’s natural defense mechanisms.
Advocates emphasize homeopathy’s gentleness—side effects are extremely rare—and holistic methods. Unlike conventional medicine, homeopathy focuses on treating the individual rather than the disease. A homeopath takes a meticulous history of each patient’s physical symptoms, emotional and mental states and overall constitution, seeking the unique aspects that will lead to the precise remedy to promote healing. (Homeopathy can correct negative traits at many levels and offer scope for better all round development of an individual).

This individualized approach is drawing a growing number of people fed up with an expensive, impersonal health-care system that relies on chemical drugs which sometimes end up doing more harm than good. While conventional medicine clearly saves countless lives, particularly in acute illness and emergencies, homeopathy is increasingly a choice among people with chronic health problems, the second most common reason for trips to the doctor’s office in the U.S.
Today it is the most widely used form of alternative medicine in the world, according to the World Health Organization. Approximately 500 million people worldwide receive homeopathic treatment. Homeopathy is most common in India, where there are an estimated 300,000 homeopaths and more than 300 homeopathic hospitals. It also is popular in Europe, South Africa and Brazil. In France, approximately 40 percent of the public has used homeopathic remedies. In the Netherlands, almost half of Dutch physicians consider homeopathic remedies effective, and in Britain, visits to homeopaths are growing by nearly 40 percent a year. In the United States, the number of people using homeopathy increased by an estimated 500 percent during the 1990s. 
In 1810, Hahnemann laid out his theories and philosophy in his treatise Organon of the Rational Art of Healing. His methods had gained many followers, including European royalty, by the time he coined the term “homeopathy” (for homoios or “similar” and pathos or “suffering”) in 1826.

Homeopathy spread throughout Europe and the U.S. over the next few decades, gaining credibility during epidemics of infectious disease. Patients treated by homeopaths were reported to have had much lower mortality rates than those treated by conventional physicians during cholera epidemics in Europe and the U.S. in the 1830s and ’40s. For example, during a cholera epidemic in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1849, only three percent of patients who received homeopathic care died, compared with up to 60 percent of patients who received the conventional medical treatment of the time.
(Despite attempts to marginalise homeopathy in the intervening period...) In Europe, however, homeopathy was making a comeback. The person most responsible for that revival is George Vithoulkas, a Greek homeopath who started practising and teaching in the 1960s. Vithoulkas refined Hahnemann’s ideas and brought them into the new frontier of energy medicine. He says homeopathy helps a patient heal by affecting his or her electromagnetic field.

In his seminal book The Science of Homeopathy, Vithoulkas offers a brief but eloquent description of the goal of any healing system. “A human being’s main and final objective is continuous and unconditional happiness,” he wrote. “Any therapeutic system should lead a person toward this goal.” Vithoulkas defined the difference between conventional medicine and homeopathy this way: “Homeopathy does not merely remove disease from the organism; it strengthens and harmonizes the very source of life and creativity in the individual.”
Vithoulkas’ teachings and writings inspired a new generation of homeopaths, including Ohanian, who studied with him in the 1980s. For his groundbreaking work, he received the Right Livelihood Award, or “alternative Nobel Prize” in 1996. In addition to being a powerful teacher, Vithoulkas is also a fearless critic of conventional medicine’s reliance on increasingly harsh and powerful drugs.

Homeopaths believe conventional drugs often suppress symptoms rather than cure illness. Vithoulkas says this suppression actually drives illness deeper into the patient, eventually expressing itself as mental illness and diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system. He also contends that the medical establishment’s overemphasis on increasingly stronger drugs may be making us sicker.

“The immune systems of the Western population, through strong chemical drugs and repeated vaccinations, have broken down,” Vithoulkas told the Swedish Parliament in his acceptance speech for the Right Livelihood Award. He linked the rising rates of diseases such as asthma and cancer with “wrong intervention.” Vithoulkas told the gathering, “If conventional medicine were really curing chronic diseases, today we would have a population in the West that was healthy, mentally, emotionally and physically.”

Although such sweeping statements need to be taken with a grain of salt, they raise provocative questions. Chronic disease is the world’s leading killer, causing approximately 17 million premature deaths worldwide every year, according to WHO. While lifestyle factors like poor diet, smoking and lack of exercise can lead to chronic disease, along with environmental and genetic factors, conventional medicine typically fails to cure people once they’ve gotten sick. Prescription drugs, in fact, sometimes do more harm than good: A 1998 study by researchers at the University of Toronto found that prescription drugs were the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.
(To counter the "placebo" charge against homeopathy...) While many like Lewith work on human studies, others are investigating homeopathy’s effects on animals, which offer further insight into the placebo question. Animals don’t make things up; they either get better or they don’t. In an intriguing set of new studies completed last summer, Liesbeth Ellinger, a homeopathic veterinarian in Apeldoorn in the Netherlands, investigated homeopathy’s effect in newborn dairy calves. Diarrhea is a common problem in dairy calves, a condition some Dutch farmers regularly treat with homeopathic remedies. Among Ellinger’s findings: On one farm, not a single calf who received a homeopathic remedy developed diarrhea, while every calf given a placebo did. She says the most difficult part of the research, done with the Louis Bolk Instituut, was persuading farmers to give a placebo instead of homeopathy “because they know homeopathy works.”  (In India mainstream veterinary doctors have been authorised by Govt to give homeopathic remedies to cattle and other animals - Jag)
In spite of typically limited funding for research, homeopaths around the world are continuing their own investigations and publishing results in homeopathic and alternative medicine journals. They are reporting homeopathy to be particularly promising in treating illnesses and conditions including ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder), arthritis, viral illnesses, chronic fatigue syndrome, eczema, inflammatory bowel disease, premenstrual syndrome, and post-traumatic stress, according to the American Institute of Homeopathy. In seminar rooms around the world, homeopaths tell story after story of extraordinary, improbable cures.
Homeopathy defies explanation by conventional science, a valid point that skeptics make over and over again. How can a remedy that might not contain a single molecule of the original substance have any effect at all? If an explanation is ever found, it may be discovered on the frontiers of quantum physics through studies that might yield great material for a sequel to What the Bleep Do We Know?!—the recent movie exploring those sorts of questions.

Wayne Jonas points out that science also has yet to explain the mechanism of action of many conventional drugs. How aspirin works, of all things, has undergone four or five different explanations over the last 100 years. “There are many things we deliver in conventional medicine that we have no idea why they work, or even if they work, but we still allow them and we still continue to research them,” he says.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that the medicine of the future needs to focus on strengthening our own healing abilities. After all, that’s our best defense. “We know that the most powerful weapon we have against illness and suffering is our own inherent healing capacities,” Jonas says. “We wouldn’t be around if we weren’t constantly repairing ourselves and becoming more whole.”

The people seeking better health through alternative forms of medicine like homeopathy just want to feel better. They’re not waiting for a paradigm shift in medicine—they’re leading it.