Homeopathic medicines look very much like conventional medicines, are taken in the same way, but the way they work is entirely different.The medicines are not synthetic and are derived from natural sources. Over 60% of homeopathic remedies are prepared from vegetable or plant materials. Other remedies are prepared from naturally occurring mineral substances, including metals, non-metallic substances, and mineral salts. Animal sources of homeopathic remedies include: Cuttlefish (the ink or juice provides sepia) and Honeybee.Homeopathic medicines are prepared by obtaining the remedy in its most concentrated form, and then, through a long process of dilution, by preparing a medicine whose potency is sufficient to effect a treatment. The potency describes the measure of the dilution of the remedy and is denoted by the number which follows the name of the medicine itself. The higher the number, the greater the dilution (up to one part remedy to one trillion parts dilutant). Homeopathic medicines, commonly referred to as remedies, may come from the plant, mineral, or animal kingdom. Some common remedies include: arnica montana , from the Leopard's bane plant; belladonna, from the deadly nightshade plant; calcarea, calcium carbonate from oyster shells; sepia, from cuttlefish ink; and the element, sulphur.Homeopathic remedies today are produced using the same dilution principles as in Hahnemann's day. In a common dilution of 1:100, one drop of the homeopathic substance is added to 99 drops of water and/or alcohol. The mixture is then potentized by a process called "succussion" - repeated tapping on a hard surface for a specific length of time. Remedies may be diluted up to 1000 times, leaving only an infinitesimal trace of the substance. Remedies are typically diluted 10, 100, or 1,000 times, which translate into potencies that are marked with the Roman numerals X, C, and M. Homeopathic remedies range from 6X as the lowest potency to 1M or more as the highest potency.Remedies can be taken orally in pill, powder, or drop form, rubbed topically, or injected. There are usually no side effects from homeopathic treatments, but a patient can experience what is called a "healing aggravation," a temporary accentuation of symptoms. This is seen as a positive sign that the remedy is working. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, a homeopath may choose an antidote, which produces the opposite effect of the remedy. The antidote may be another homeopathic remedy, or a strong substance, such as perfume, camphor, or coffee, which are known to block the effects of a remedy.In the United States , the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recognized homeopathic medicines as drugs since 1938, working with the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia Convention to produce and update their reference book of homeopathic medicines. Over the years, the FDA has classified homeopathic medicines as either prescription or more commonly as non-prescription (over-the-counter), depending on their strength. In the United Kingdom , homeopathic medicine has been part of the National Health Service (NHS) since it began in 1948. There are currently 5 homeopathic hospitals in the NHS. Homeopathic medicines are available over-the-counter or by prescription.
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