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Homoeopathy: The Evidence Behind

Mohommed Essop-Adam
Reviewed by Mohommed Essop-AdamReviewed on 30.10.2023 | 5 minutes read

If you have heard the term ‘homoeopathy’ and are confused as to what it means, then you have come to the right place. In this article, we will look at what homoeopathy is, the principles behind it, and whether it is safe and effective.  

Homoeopathy (also known as homoeopathic medicine) is a type of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM); these are treatments that are not considered to be part of conventional, mainstream healthcare. Homoeopathic medicines or remedies consist of substances that have been heavily diluted to the point that there is only a very small amount of the substance left. Homeopaths are practitioners that recommend homeopathic remedies.  

Homeopathy is based on a series of theories developed by a German doctor called Samuel Hahnemann in the 1790s. One of which is that ‘like cures like’. Meaning that if a substance can cause certain symptoms in a healthy person, it may be able to cure those symptoms in an ill person. Homoeopathy is also based on a theory called potentiation, which is the belief that if a substance can cause symptoms when given in a large dose, then it can cure these symptoms when given in small amounts. It is thought that if a substance is heavily diluted and vigorously shaken, then the curative properties of the substance can become activated. It is also believed that the more a sense is cut, the more potent it becomes, which is why homoeopathic remedies are diluted to the point that they consist of only a minimal amount of the active substance.  

Homoeopathic Vs Natural Medication

  1. Ingredients and Preparation:

    • Homoeopathic Medication: Homeopathy is a system of alternative medicine that uses highly diluted substances, often to the point where the original substance is no longer detectable. These highly diluted remedies are believed to stimulate the body's natural healing processes. Homeopathic remedies are prepared through a process of serial dilution and succussion (vigorous shaking).
    • Natural Medication: Natural medications, on the other hand, use substances derived from nature, such as herbs, plants, minerals, or other natural sources, in their natural or minimally processed form. These substances are often used in a less diluted and more recognizable form.
  2. Principles:

    • Homoeopathic Medication: Homeopathy is based on the principle of "like cures like." It believes that a substance that can cause symptoms in a healthy person can also cure similar symptoms in a sick person, provided it is highly diluted. It also emphasizes individualized treatment based on a person's specific symptoms.
    • Natural Medication: Natural medications do not adhere to the "like cures like" principle of homoeopathy. Instead, they are often used based on traditional knowledge, historical use, or scientific evidence of their therapeutic properties.
  3. Regulation:

    • Homoeopathic Medication: Homeopathic remedies are regulated differently in various countries. In some regions, they are regulated as over-the-counter drugs, while in others, they may be classified as dietary supplements or subjected to specific homoeopathic regulations.
    • Natural Medication: Natural medications can fall into various categories, including dietary supplements, herbal remedies, or traditional medicines, and their regulation depends on local and national laws.
  4. Scientific Evidence:

    • Homoeopathic Medication: The scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of homoeopathic remedies is a topic of debate. Many studies have shown that they often perform no better than placebos.
    • Natural Medication: Some natural medications have a long history of traditional use and may have scientific evidence to support their efficacy. An example is natural pain relief. However, the effectiveness of natural medications can vary widely depending on the specific product and the health condition it's used for.
  5. Dilution:

    • Homoeopathic Medication: Homeopathic remedies are typically diluted to the point where the original substance is no longer present, and they are believed to work through an "energetic" or "memory" effect.
    • Natural Medication: Natural medications are generally used in their original or minimally processed form, so the active ingredients are still present.

Is Homoeopathy Effective?

Homoeopathy is a very popular treatment option, and it is estimated that over 200 million people worldwide use homoeopathy regularly. However, despite its popularity, homoeopathy is met with a lot of scepticism. There is also a lack of scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of homoeopathy. Furthermore, The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which provides treatment advice to the NHS in the UK, doesn't recommend homoeopathy as a treatment option for any health condition. That said, many patients swear by the effectiveness of homoeopathy and report success stories of it helping with their condition.

What Medical Conditions is Homoeopathy Used For?

Homoeopathy is used for a wide range of medical conditions, including both short-term and long-term (chronic) conditions. Examples include coughs, colds, flu, toothache, earache, travel sickness, asthma, depression, anxiety, allergies, insomnia, and arthritis. Some people like to use homoeopathy in combination with conventional treatments, whereas others use it as an alternative.

Obtaining Homoeopathic Remedies

In the UK, homoeopathy isn’t widely available on the NHS and is mainly accessed through private practice. You can find a list of licensed homoeopaths in your area by looking on the Homeopathy UK website. Appointments with a homoeopath are typically longer than your average GP appointment as they aim to gather a complete picture of the patient and their condition. The initial appointment tends to last around 1 to 2 hours, and follow-up appointments last around 30 minutes. Homoeopaths can prescribe homoeopathic remedies, which you can obtain from a homoeopathic pharmacy. Some homoeopathic remedies like arnica for bruises are also available over the counter in pharmacies and health retailers.  

Is Homoeopathy Safe?

Homoeopathic remedies are generally considered to be safe because they usually only contain very small amounts of the active ingredient, so they are unlikely to cause side effects. However, the main concern with homoeopathy is if it is used as an alternative to conventional medical treatments for serious medical conditions. You must never replace medications from your doctor with homoeopathic medicine without speaking with your doctor first. You should also never start taking homoeopathic medication without consulting your doctor first, especially if you take other regular medication. Also, speak with your doctor or pharmacist if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

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Mohommed Essop-Adam
Reviewed by Mohommed Essop-Adam
Reviewed on 30.10.2023
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