Homeopathy and allopathy

Homeopathy and allopathy

Allopathy is a term coined in the early 19th century [Samuel Hahnemann (1810), Organon der Heilkunst, first edition.] by Samuel Hahnemann [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=wf2vl2ch9a4C&pg=PA234&lpg=PA234&dq=allopathy&ots=pAfm6X3vNP&sig=uxnaBWPzkiigd6ThpYWk_UdNZ-w Richard Haehl, "Samuel Hahnemann his Life and Works," 2 volumes, 1922; vol 2, p.234] ] , the founder of homeopathy, as a synonym for mainstream medicine. It was used by homeopaths to highlight the difference they perceived between homeopathy and conventional medicine, and its use remains common among homeopaths. The term derives from the Greek "ἄλλος", "állos", other, different + "πάϑος", "páthos", suffering. The distinction comes from the use in homeopathy of substances that cause similar effects as the symptoms of a disease to treat patients ("homeo" - meaning similar). The term "allopathy" was meant to contrast the homeopathic approach with those conventional medical treatments that are different from or which directly counter a patient's symptoms; hence the terms allopathic and antipathic. Homeopaths saw such symptomatic treatments as "opposites treating opposites". However, many conventional medical treatments do not fit this definition of allopathy, as they seek to prevent illness, or remove the cause of an illness by acting on the etiology of disease.cite journal | author = Berkenwald, A.D. | year = 1998 | title = In the Name of Medicine | journal = Annals of Internal Medicine | volume = 128 | issue = 3 | pages = 246 | url = http://www.annals.org/cgi/content/full/128/3/246 | accessdate = 2008-03-26] cite journal | author = Federspil, G. | coauthors = Presotto, F.; Vettor, R. | year = 2003 | title = A Critical Overview of Homeopathy | journal = Annals of Internal Medicine | volume = 139 | issue = 8 | url = http://annals.highwire.org/cgi/content/full/139/8/W-75 | accessdate = 2008-03-26]

The term allopathic was used throughout the 19th Century as a derogatory term for the practitioners of heroic medicine,cite web |url=http://ann.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/583/1/12 |title=Why Not Call Modern Medicine "Alternative"? |accessdate=2008-03-22 |author=Bates, Don G |authorlink= |coauthors= |date=2002 |format= |work= |publisher=The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science |pages= |language= |archiveurl= |archivedate= |quote=] cite book |author=Cuellar, Norma G. |title=Conversations in complementary and alternative medicine: insights and perspectives from leading practitioners |publisher=Jones and Bartlett |location=Boston |year=2006 |pages=4 |isbn=0-7637-3888-3 |oclc= |doi= |accessdate=2007-10-31 |url=http://books.google.com/books?id=Nmkm7zu7NDMC] a precursor to modern medicine that did not rely on evidence. The meaning and controversy surrounding the term can be traced to its original usage during a heated 19th-century debate between practitioners of homeopathy, and those they derisively referred to as "allopaths."cite book | last=Whorton | first=James C. | year=2002 | title=Nature Cures: The History of Alternative Medicine in America | isbn=0195171624 | publisher=Oxford University Press ] The meaning implied by the label has never been accepted by conventional medicine, and is still be considered pejorative by some.William T. Jarvis, Ph. D [http://www.ncahf.org/articles/a-b/allopathy.html Misuse of the Term "Allopathy"] ] cite journal |author=Atwood KC |title=Naturopathy, pseudoscience, and medicine: myths and fallacies vs truth |journal=MedGenMed |volume=6 |issue=1 |pages=33 |year=2004 |pmid=15208545 |doi= |url=http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/471156 |accessdate=2008-03-22] More recently, some American MDs, who also practice alternative medicine, have accepted the designation of "allopathic physician."Whorton, James. [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/altmed/clash/history.html "Counterculture Healing: A Brief History of Alternative Medicine in America."] 4 Nov 2003. WGBH Educational Foundation. accessed 25 Dec 2007.] cite book |author=Cuellar, Norma G. |title=Conversations in complementary and alternative medicine: insights and perspectives from leading practitioners |publisher=Jones and Bartlett |location=Boston |year=2006 |pages=4 |isbn=0-7637-3888-3 |oclc= |doi=] In one source, "allopathic medical school" has been used to distinguish "osteopathic medical schools" in the United States from their more traditional MD awarding counterparts. [http://www.nrmp.org//res_match/special_part/ind_app/registration.html National Resident Matching Program] ]


The term "allopathy" was coined by the founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann, to differentiate homeopathic practices from conventional medicine of the day, based on the types of treatments used. Hahnemann used allopathy to refer to what he saw as a system of medicine that combats disease by using remedies that produce effects in a healthy subject that are different (hence Greek root "allo-" "different") from the effects produced by the disease to be treated.


As used by homeopaths, the term "allopathy" has always referred to the principle of curing disease by administering substances that produce other symptoms (when given to a healthy human) than the symptoms produced by a disease. For example, part of an allopathic treatment for fever may include the use of a drug which reduces the fever, while also including a drug (such as an antibiotic) that attacks the cause of the fever (such as a bacterial infection). A homeopathic treatment for fever, by contrast, is one that uses a diluted and succussed dosage of a substance that in an undiluted and unsuccussed form would induce fever in a healthy person.Fact|date=April 2008 Hahnemann used this term to distinguish medicine as practiced in his time from his use of infinitesimally small doses of substances to treat the spiritual causes of illness.

William T Jarvis, Ph.D., an expert on alternative medicine and public health,cite web |url=http://www.pbs.org/kcet/closertotruth/participants/index3.html |title=Closer to Truth Participants | PBS |accessdate=2008-03-22 |format= |work=] states that "although many modern therapies can be construed to conform to an allopathic rationale (eg, using a laxative to relieve constipation), standard medicine has never paid allegiance to an allopathic principle" and that the label "allopath" was "considered highly derisive by regular medicine."

James C. Whorton also discusses this historical pejorative usage:

The "Companion Encyclopedia of the History of Medicine" states that "Hahnemann gave an all-embracing name to regular practice, calling it 'allopathy'. This term, however imprecise, was employed by his followers or other unorthodox movements to identify the prevailing methods as constituting nothing more than a competing 'school' of medicine, however dominant in terms of number of practitioner proponents and patients." In the nineteenth century, some pharmacies labeled their products with the terms allopathic or homeopathic.

Contrary to the present usage, Hahnemann reserved the term of "allopathic" medicine to the practice of treating diseases by means of drugs inducing symptoms unrelated (i.e. neither similar nor opposite) to those of the disease. He called instead "enantiopathic" or "antipathic" the practice of treating diseases by means of drugs producing symptoms opposite to those of the patient (e.g. see Organon, VI edition, paragraphs 54-56). After Hahnemann's death the term "enantiopathy" fell in disuse and the two concepts of allopathy and enantiopathy have been more or less unified. Both, however, indicate what Hahnemann thought about contemporary conventional medicine, rather than the current ideas of his colleagues. Conventional physicians had never assumed that the therapeutic effects of drugs were necessarily related to the symptoms they caused in the healthy: e.g. James Lind in 1747 systematically tested several common substances and foods for their effect on scurvy and discovered that lemon juice was specifically active; he clearly did not select lemon juice because it caused symptoms in the healthy man, either similar or opposite to those of scurvy.

Practitioners of alternative medicine have used the term "allopathic medicine" to refer to the practice of conventional medicine in both Europe and the United States since the 19th century. In the US, this was also referred to as regular medicine — that is, medicine that was practiced by the "regulars". The practice of "conventional" medicine in both Europe and America during the 19th century is sometimes referred to as the age of 'heroic medicine' (because of the 'heroic' measures such as bleeding and purging).

Notes and references

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