Homeopathy has had a bad reputation over time, as some scientists and health professionals say the treatment is unproven and ineffective. Yet it still has an army of fans, including the Royal family. If you are interested in homeopathy but have never tried it – or have given it and found it useful, without being sure how it works – read on.
What is homeopathy?
Homeopathy is an alternative or complementary therapy (CAM), based on the idea that it is a cure-like treatment. In other words, taking something in small quantities can help deal with the symptoms that can cause it if taken too much – the same concept of vaccination. Homeopathy was invented by the German physician Samuel Hahnemann in the late 18th century. He has done a series of mixing of toxic substances such as arsenic until the levels of the original substance are not found. Hahnemann’s theory was that the more refined a substance became, the more capable it became. The complete state of homeopathy means homeopaths – those who use homeopathy – treat everyone, not just the condition. This means that two people can see a doctor for the same illness but can be given completely different remedies depending on their personality and symptoms, and how that is similar to the ‘picture’ of a homeopathic – the remedy closest to their illness.
How many people use homeopathy?
Nearly 200 million people are thought to be using homeopathy worldwide, and for a long time, it was available on the NHS. However, in 2017 NHS England advised GPs and other health professionals to stop it. The move follows a 2010 House of Commons report, which found no evidence that homeopathic remedies work better than placebos.
How does homeopathy work?
Despite the decision, homeopathy still has a strong following – including Prince Charles; once there was even a court homeopath! The British Homeopathic Association also states that there are scientific theories on how it works. The strongest support is the idea that the water in which an object is purified and drunk has a ‘memory’ of the object. Research by one pharmacist has found that the composition of hydrogen bonds in homeopathic solutions is different from that in plain water. Some scientists have been able to distinguish between different herbs and mixtures, except that, in theory, they should all be just water. It can be hard to get your head around this idea, but there is evidence that the most refined things have an impact. For example, one French study found a high concentration of histamine – a substance produced in the body during an overactive reaction – had a measurable effect on the type of white blood cell.
What is the evidence for homeopathy?
People often seek out homeopathy to help them cope with chronic conditions such as asthma, allergies, arthritis, depression and anxiety, dermatitis (skin condition), and ear infections. In a clinical trial, another study conducted by the University of Oslo, Norway, found that the Betula 30c remedy could help reduce symptoms in those with birch pollen allergy. And in 2007, Ukrainian researchers found that patients with sinusitis taking homeopathic remedies Sinfrontal experienced a decrease (and in some cases relapse) of their symptoms. Some studies have suggested that homeopathic remedies can help reduce the symptoms of a variety of conditions, including insomnia, fever, PMS, childhood diarrhoea, menopause and fibromyalgia.
If you want to try homeopathy, it is best to get a doctor first as the remedies are determined individually, according to the constitution and your symptoms. At your first appointment, the homeopath will ask you many questions about everything from your diet and sleeping habits to your personality. They will give you homeopathic medicine, usually as a small pill known as a pill, but sometimes as a liquid, powder.
While many people are unaware of Homeopathy, it has a large following and benefits a lot of people around the world. It can be effective for certain conditions and maybe an idea that you should explore if you have a condition that needs treatment. Read our information above to see if you might be willing to explore it more.