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Homeopathy (also spelled homoeopathy[1] or homœopathy) is a form of alternative medicine in which practitioners use highly[2][3] diluted preparations. Homeopathy was first proposed by German physician Samuel Hahnemann in 1796, based on an ipse dixit[4] axiom[5] formulated by Hahnemann, which he called the law of similars, preparations which cause certain symptoms in healthy individuals are given in diluted form to patients who already exhibit similar symptoms. Homeopathic remedies are prepared by serial dilution with shaking by forceful striking, which homeopaths term succussion, after each dilution under the assumption that this increases the effect. Homeopaths call this process potentization. Dilution often continues until none of the original substance remains.[6] Apart from the symptoms, homeopaths use aspects of the patient's physical and psychological state in recommending remedies.[7] Homeopathic reference books known as repertories are then consulted, and a remedy is selected based on the totality of symptoms. Homeopathic remedies are, with rare exceptions, considered safe[8] though homeopathy has been criticized for putting patients at risk due to advice against conventional medicine such as vaccinations,[9] anti-malarial drugs,[10] and antibiotics.[11]

Homeopathy's efficacy beyond the placebo effect is unsupported by the collective weight of scientific and clinical evidence.[2][3][12][13][14] While some individual studies have positive results, systematic reviews of published trials fail to demonstrate efficacy conclusively.[15][16][17][18][19] Furthermore, higher quality trials tend to report results that are less positive,[17][20] and most positive studies have not been replicated or show methodological problems that prevent them from being considered unambiguous evidence of homeopathy's efficacy.[2][13][21][22] A 2010 inquiry into the evidence base for homeopathy conducted by the United Kingdom's House of Commons Science and Technology Committee concluded that homeopathy is no more effective than placebo.[3]

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