Homeopathy or homœopathy is a pseudoscientific system of alternative medicine. It was created in 1796 by Samuel Hahnemann. Its practitioners, called homeopaths, believe that a substance that causes symptoms of a disease in healthy people would cure similar symptoms in sick people; this doctrine is called similia similibus curentur, or “like cures like”. Homeopathic preparations are termed remedies and are made using a process called homeopathic dilution. This process involves repeatedly diluting a chosen substance, typically until nothing—that is, not even a single molecule—of the original substance is likely to remain in the product. Between the dilution iterations homeopaths practice hitting and/or violently shaking the diluent, and claim that it makes the diluent remember the original substance after its removal. The diluent is typically either distilled water, ethanol or sugar. Practitioners claim that such preparations, upon oral intake, can treat or cure disease.
Despite the claims by the practitioners, homeopathic preparations are not effective for treating any medical condition. All relevant scientific knowledge about physics, chemistry, biochemistry and biology gained since at least the mid-19th century confirms that homeopathic remedies have no active content and no biophysical effect. Hahnemann’s theory of disease, centered around principles he termed Miasms, is inconsistent with the germ theory of disease in medicine. Clinical trials have generally demonstrated no objective effect from homeopathic preparations.:206 Its lack of effectiveness has led to it being characterized within the scientific and medical communities as quackery and nonsense.
After assessments of homeopathy, national and international bodies have recommended the withdrawal of government funding. Australia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and France, as well as the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council, and the Commission on Pseudoscience and Research Fraud of Russian Academy of Sciences each concluded that homeopathy is ineffective, and recommended against the practice receiving any further funding. Notably, France and England, where homeopathy was formerly prevalent, are in the process of removing all public funding. The National Health Service in England ceased funding homeopathic remedies in November 2017 and asked the Department of Health in the UK to add homeopathic remedies to the blacklist of forbidden prescription items, and France will remove funding by 2021. In November 2018, Spain also announced moves to ban homeopathy and other pseudotherapies.