Homeopathic Treatments for Depression


The origination of homeopathic system of healing is attributed to the works of a German physician, Samuel Hahnemann, particularly his book titled Organon of the Healing Art. According to historical data, Hahnemann was in the process of translating an English text into German language when he found out that Cinchona bark was an effective cure for malaria because it was bitter. Initially, he thought that this statement was preposterous; however, after self-administration of a small dose of Cinchona bark, he discovered that the symptoms he developed were remarkable close to those of malaria. Based upon this personal experience, Hahnemann put forward the so-called law of similars, according to which therapeutic benefits of substance depend on how closely its effects match the symptoms of a disease (“similia similibus curentur”). Hahnemann reportedly administered common remedies to healthy volunteers to generate further empirical evidence of his principle of similars.

Being the cardinal principle of homeopathy, the law of similars can nevertheless be perceived as absurd and nonsensical. Interestingly, a 16th century physician, Paracelsus, mentioned this principle in his writings and successfully applied it to his patients. Pharmacology’s Arndt-Schultz law explaining the biphasic response of drugs may be a theoretical underpinning of the law of similars. According to this law, the curve of the dose response reveals a reversal of physiological effects occurring at a certain dosage. Repeated experiments with different substances demonstrated that small doses of these substances elicit the reaction that is opposite to the one introduced by larger doses of the same substance.

Homeopathic conceptualization of health and mental health, in particular, is related to the stance of mind-body interconnectedness. Because some psychological symptoms stem from physiological processes and vice versa, homeopathy has traditionally emphasized holistic approach to care. Evidence of this approach can be derived from the analysis of homeopathic prescriptions, all of which contain mention of both physical and psychological characteristics of a patient. Ullman asserted that homeopathic principles have influenced many psychotherapy practices, namely the method of paradoxical intention which essentially represents Hahnemann’s principle of similar.

Hong Shang