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Two hundred years ago, a German physician, Charles Hahnemann, translated a book written by a Scottish physician named William Cullen from English into German. He read that quinine, the drug used to treat malaria, causes the same symptoms that malaria does: chills, fever and shaking.

Now, we know that this is the Herxheimer reaction. When a drug kills bacteria, the bacteria releases an endotoxin into the bloodstream, that causes a person to feel worse before he feels better. Since Dr. Herxheimer didn't describe his Herxheimer reaction until 120 years later, we cannot blame Dr. Hahnemann for not knowing about this reaction. Dr. Hahnemann interpreted the fever and chills caused by quinine to cure the disease by reproducing the disease, and he created his mind-boggling theory of the Law of Similia, or "Like Cures Like".

If you have a disease that causes vomiting, Dr. Hahnemann recommends that you take a herb that causes vomiting. Anyone will eventually realize that if you give a drug to a sick person that worsens symptoms, the patient will get worse and perhaps even die. Most intelligent people would have dropped the subject at that, but not Hahnemann. He felt that he could dilute a drug that causes vomiting so many times that it will not cause vomiting and this theory makes Dr. Hahnemann the father of homeopathy.

Even though intelligent people today realize that this is ridiculous, there wasn't anything better in the early 1800s, so homeopathy grew. And the more dilute the drug, the more effective it was supposed to be. You know why: because the more you dilute a drug that worsens your disease, the less likely it is to harm or kill you.

In 1842, Oliver Wendell Homes, Professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School could stand it no longer. He published a book called Homeopathy and Kindred Delusions and slammed the theory with all his might, but he didn't kill it and even today, some people prescribe medicines that reproduce a person's worst sickness symptoms in so dilute a concentration that it doesn't harm them. Homeopathy didn't make sense to educated people then and it makes even less sense today.

Checked 8/9/05

June 1st, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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