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A homeopathic materia medica is a type of homeopathic encyclopedia that usually lists various homeopathic remedies, and describes the symptoms and temperaments for which they're best suited. Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, considered the founder of homeopathy, is believed to have developed the first homeopathic materia medica in the late 18th century. Today, there are a wide range of such homeopathic encyclopedias, most authored by experts in the practice of homeopathy. These volumes typically list the name and description of each homeopathic remedy, followed by the symptoms and temperaments that most often indicate each remedy's use. They are considered different from homeopathic repertories, which generally list medical conditions and their descriptions, followed by the most appropriate homeopathic remedies.
Practitioners of homeopathy may be best qualified to administer effective, appropriate homeopathic remedies, though most homeopaths and physicians believe that little harm can come from prescribing one's own homeopathic remedies with the help of a homeopathic materia medica. A homeopathic materia medica can assist the home user who wishes to benefit from homeopathic treatments to relieve minor symptoms and administer first aid. Homeopathic treatments can be an option for pregnant women, young children and infants. A quality homeopathic materia medica can help home practitioners decide which remedies to administer based on the patient's symptoms, physical constitution, and psychological temperament. These texts can also offer information on the appropriate dosage and use of homeopathic remedies.
Homeopathy is considered a system of alternative medicine that was developed in 1796 by Hahnemann. Hahnemann found the medical practices of the time to be ineffective and dangerous. He developed his theory of homeopathic medicine based on the concept that effective remedies can cause symptoms similar to those of the illness they're intended to treat. This concept is known as the "law of similars" in homeopathy. Hahnemann believed that a homeopathic remedy capable of producing, in a healthy patient, a headache, must, in a sick patient, be an effective remedy for headache.
Hahnemann's homeopathic system of medical treatment is believed to have enjoyed a great deal of initial popularity in the 19th century. Physicians and patients alike may have preferred homeopathic treatments because they were often much easier, safer, and gentler to administer than some of the common medical treatments of the time, such as bloodletting. Homeopathic treatments remained popular in the 20th century, in spite of many physicians' warnings that the treatments may be ineffective. Many patients find that homeopathic remedies work for them. Homeopathic remedies are often heavily diluted, and are considered generally safe for home use, even by those who aren't professionally trained in the practice of homeopathy.