Homeopathy is a branch of natural medicine that originated in Germany over 200 years ago. It advocates the belief that substances which cause well persons to become ill are also capable of stimulating a sick person's immune system to self-heal. Homeopathy subscribes to the "Principle of Similars" aka treat "like with like," which states that substances that are toxic in large quantities are healing in tiny ones.
Homeopathic medicine is a subset of the larger, more inclusive field of naturopathic medicine, which encompasses not just homeopathy but other branches of alternative medicine as well. A practitioner of naturopathic medicine is called a naturopath.
Conventional pharmaceuticals are designed to force the body into a particular mode of behavior, frequently overpowering the immune system's attempts to moderate itself in the process. Each drug has a two-pronged effect on the body.
The first effect is the one that the pharmaceutical exerts upon the organism when attempting to overwhelm its symptoms, forcing change. The second effect concerns the manner in which the organism's immune system adapts itself to the drug. The two contradict one another in a push-pull battle for supremacy.
In contrast, homeopathy's goal is to stimulate the immune system with minute, diluted amounts of a substance known to cause the presenting symptoms, provoking it to attack the attacking bacteria or virus, effecting a cure as opposed to fighting the medicine. Either alcohol or distilled water is commonly used to dilute the strength of homeopathic remedies. Paradoxically, the more dilute the remedy, the more effective it is generally thought to be.
The safety of any homeopathic medicine increases the more diluted its formulation. Where conventional medicine far too often ends up merely managing symptoms, the objective of homeopathy is to utilize the immune system itself to actually cure the patient of disease.
In certain rare circumstances, conventional medicine does use the same methodology as homeopathy, such as when stimulants are given to people with hyperactivity disorders, or when allergens are injected into allergy sufferers to reduce sensitivity to specific allergens. Homeopathic medicines are derived from animals, plants and minerals, and like pharmaceuticals, are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.