Contrary to popular belief, “homeopathy” is not the same as herbal medicine. Homeopathy is based on core principles, unchanged since their invention by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796.

The Law of Similars states that whatever causes your symptoms will also cure the same symptoms. Therefore, if you find yourself unable to sleep, drinking caffeine will help. This so-called law was based on nothing more than Hahnemann’s own imagination. You don’t need a medical degree to see the flawed reasoning in taking caffeine (a stimulant) to help you sleep; However, caffeine is, even today, prescribed by homeopaths (under the name “coffea”) as a treatment for insomnia.

Following his “law of similars,” Hahnemann proposed that he could enhance the effect of his “cure-like treatments” by repeatedly diluting them in water. The more diluted the remedy, Hahnemann decided, the stronger it will become. Thus his “Law of Infinitesimals” was born.

While transporting his remedies in a horse-drawn cart, Hahnemann made another “breakthrough.” He decided that vigorous stirring of a homeopathic remedy would further increase its potency. This shaking process was called ‘succussion’. When ritually preparing a homeopathic remedy, the homeopath will shake or touch the preparation at each stage of dilution, in order to “potentiate” it.

Modern homeopaths believe that this “potentiation” process allows the water to retain the “memory” or “vibrations” of the original substance, long after it has been diluted to nothing. Of course, there is no good scientific evidence to suggest that water has such an ability, nor any indication of how it might be able to use this “memory” to cure a sick patient.

Despite being rooted in superstition, ritual, and sympathetic magic, the laws devised by Hahnemann are still in use by homeopaths today.

For Hahnemann’s Laws to be correct, we would have to shake just about everything we’ve learned over the last two centuries about biology, pharmacology, mathematics, chemistry, and physics. Diseases are not effectively treated by administering substances that cause similar symptoms; serial dilution and succussion do not “potentiate” a remedy.