Homeopathy is very often confused with other systems of alternative medicine.
The first reason is that the term “homeopathy” is little-known and is often confused with other, similar-sounding terms. But underlying this linguistic confusion is the fact that most people know little more than what they pick up from the media. This state of confusion extends even to many patients of homeopathy.
Homeopathy’s exotic appeal
The word “homeopathy” has an exotic ring to it that has lent to its being used in advertising a whole range of health products, mostly ones that have very little if anything to do with homeopathy. Thus it is very common to find people promoting some “homeopathic remedy” that has helped them or, conversely, complaining about how the “homeopath” that they visited failed to help.
Telling homeopathy apart from other natural therapies
Because of patients’ confusion about the matter, it is important to outline some distinctions between homeopathy and other systems that are at best cousins rather than siblings of homeopathy.
One of those is naturopathic medicine, a medical movement and profession that has recently positioned itself at the forefront of health-care innovation in North America, and is beginning to exert a worldwide influence.
Naturopathic medicine is a comprehensive medical approach which integrates scientific knowledge with several well-established alternative therapeutic systems. It combines what has been known as naturopathy (an approach based on correct living, optimal nutrition, and herbal medicine) with up-to-date medical knowledge and a multifaceted perspective on healing.
The scope of contemporary naturopathic medicine
In addition to the methods of traditional naturopathy, naturopathic medicine currently encompasses the use of Chinese medicine and acupuncture, classical homeopathy, physical manipulation, and more. Practitioners known as “Naturopathic Doctors” usually possess a common medical educational basis followed by a specialization in one or more of these disciplines, including homeopathy.
In contrast, a “Homeopathic Doctor” is generally a practitioner who has been trained as a naturopathic or a medical doctor before specializing in classical homeopathy, while a “homeopath” is a practitioner who has not had extensive medical education. But because there is no worldwide consensus about these terms, they are often used interchangeably.
Homeopaths focus on spiritual aspects of health
While homeopathic doctors do encourage a healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition, their treatment focus is not on the material aspects of health but on its spiritual aspects. Often people who consult with homeopaths have already made significant changes in their lives, but find these changes ineffective or else overly restrictive. In these cases there are internal factors that contribute to ill-health, such as a fixed way of thinking or of perceiving things in daily life.
The influence of vitalism
Ultimately naturopathic medicine, homeopathy, and other natural method all share in the ancient philosophical roots of vitalism. To read more about these shared vitalist roots, see The Influence of Vitalism on Naturopathic Medicine.