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ECH Thesaurus

Notes on the use of the thesaurus     Back to Menu

This controlled thesaurus of keyterms in homoeopathy is for use when indexing literature on homeopathy and also when searching databases which have been indexed according to this list of terms. Work has started on translation of the keyterms into German and French. A version will be published in the future which will contain all three languages, although English will remain the main language of the thesaurus.

This thesaurus can be used in conjunction with the Amed/Cats thesaurus from the British Library and the MeSH Medical Subject Headings from the National Library of Medicine, USA (used for Medline). It was developed as an addition to the Amed/Cats thesaurus to give greater depth of indexing for homeopathy, as there are only a few terms on homeopathy available in Amed/Cats.

Structure of the thesaurus

The thesaurus has a hierarchical tree structure with terms fitting as narrower terms under broad headings.

The hierarchical list (tree structure) gives all the terms available.

The terms are also listed alphabetically. The alphabetical list gives an explanation of each term, its synonyms and related terms, and the broader and narrower terms next to it in the hierarchy. Synonyms are also in the alphabetic list, with an instruction to USE a preferred term, not the synonym.

Note: Some of the terms that have been entered as UF and USE may not be exact synonyms, but are considered near enough for the purposes of the thesaurus, to avoid having too many keyterms

Broader term: The term that is one level above this term in the hierarchy
SN Scope note: Explanation of the term. The scope note of each term should not be taken as a definition of the term. It is for the guidance of indexers only.
UF Use for: Gives synonyms or quasi-synonyms of the preferred term
RT Related term: Gives other similar terms that might be used
BT Broader term: A term that is one level above this term in the hierarchy
NT Narrower term: A term that is one level below this term in the hierarchy
USE Use: This term is a synonym or quasi-synonym of a preferred term. Use the preferred term


This thesaurus and the Amed/Cats thesaurus basically follow the rules of the MeSH headings. American spellings are used throughout, to conform to MeSH.

Punctuation marks such as apostrophes have been removed from the keyterms.

In the hierarchical structure, narrower terms are arranged in the thesaurus in alphabetical order. The thesaurus computer program automatically does this. This has resulted in the sections under Homeopathic diagnostics and treatment and Homeopathic pharmacy not being in a logical sequence.

It should be noted when searching using these keyterms that indexers always use the most specific heading available from the thesaurus to index each concept in an article. They do not also use a broader term in the hierarchy.

Tree structure

Most of the terms of the ECH tree structure are under COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE, including the term Homeopathy.

The main terms under Homeopathy in the ECH Thesaurus are:

Chemicals and drugs

Homeopathic medicinal procedures and techniques

Homeopathic pharmacology

Homeopathic pharmacy

Homeopathic research


The rest of the terms of the ECH hierarchy that are not under COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE have been arranged under the following headings (i.e. top terms of the hierarchy):









The ECH (European Committee for Homeopathy) Homeopathic Thesaurus hierarchy has been arranged to fit into the tree structure of the Amed/Cats thesaurus.

All these headings above in capital letters including COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE (except VETERINARY MEDICINE) are also terms in the Amed/Cats thesaurus. The terms beneath these headings from the ECH Thesaurus can be added to the Amed/Cats thesaurus.

For example, the terms already under BOOKS in Amed/Cats are:



Dissertations academic


Pharmacopoeias homeopathic

Add to these the following terms from the ECH thesaurus:


Materia medica

Comparative materia medica


Pharmacopoeias (repeated in ECH thesaurus for convenience)

Pharmacopoeias homeopathic


Repertory changes

Note: The Homeopathy section in the ECH Thesaurus replaces all the terms under Homeopathy in the Amed/Cats thesaurus.


Amed/Cats Thesaurus

This is used for the Allied and Alternative Medicine / Current Awareness Topic Services database of the British Library Health Care Information Service. Many terms in the very large MeSH thesaurus are not applicable to this database, so the British Library has taken the main useful terms from MeSH and added some extra terms for complementary medicine etc. to make the Amed/Cats thesaurus. When keyterms are needed for indexing that are in MeSH but not in the Amed/Cats Thesaurus they can be used directly from MeSH. (Often a separate field is kept in a database record for these terms.) The hierarchical structure of the Amed/Cats thesaurus keeps to the MeSH tree structure.

Indexers of homoeopathic literature should use all three thesauri to cover the entire aspects of an item.




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