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Med Hypotheses. 1997 Sep;49(3):203-12.

A scientific reappraisal of the 'principle of similarity'.

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  • 1Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Microscopy, University of Verona, Italy.


In the history of therapeutics, the 'principle of similarity'--the treatment of 'same by same' or of 'like by like'--may be traced back to a number of medical traditions, including the systems of Hippocrates, Paracelsus and Hahnemann. Although in recent years we have witnessed a renaissance of interest in traditional medicines and 'holistic' medical practices, the reliability of the principle of similarity has still to be demonstrated on experimental grounds, and very few studies have been conducted to understand the underlying mechanism(s). Acceptance of this phenomenon requires supporting evidence of possible mechanisms and high-quality studies exploring its effectiveness in clinical medicine. The aim of this work is to provide a rational approach to the analysis of the various aspects of this historical yet also modern medical principle, in order to construct a plausible framework of ideas capable of facilitating further basic and clinical research into this field.

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