Frequently asked questions
'Is homeopathy just placebo?' And other tricky questions
Is homeopathy just placebo?
It is fair to believe that homeopathy's success rate could only be attributed to the placebo effect, because it uses substances that are highly diluted. However, animals and young children both respond beautifully to homeopathy and cannot be fooled by the placebo effect. There are a number of dairy farms in the UK that use homeopathy as their main form of medicine, only using antibiotics as a last resort. While scientists are working hard trying to discover solutions to antibiotic resistance, that has been largely caused by the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals, many farmers are already turning to homeopathy for answers. Homeopathy at Wellie Level is an organisation, patroned by HRH Prince of Wales, that offer popular courses for farmers. Homeopath and veterinary surgeon, Dr Geoff Johnson talks here about his thriving practice. There is a growing body of homeopathic veterinary research that can be found at www.britishhomeopathic.org.
Homeopathy's implausibility hasn't prevented it from rapidly spreading in popularity to over 80 different countries worldwide since it's conception in the 1800s. It is now considered to be the most popular CAM therapy in the world. According to the WHO (in 2014) it is the second largest system of healthcare in the World. Global popularity of homeopathy.
Is there any high quality research?
There is indeed a large body of high quality research that continues to expand year by year. Dr. Iris Bell M.D., Ph.D. (University of Arizona College of Medicine) has compiled the most comprehensive list of research papers on homeopathy available to date (over 6,000). To access this document, click here homeopathy research.
Please also visit the Homeopathy Research Institute for hot-off-the-press news, research and studies.
How can such high dilutions work?
The mechanism of action of homeopathic remedies is probably the most asked question by both sceptics and advocates of homeopathy alike and the cause for many heated discussions.
The Homeopathy Research Institute supports projects such as the Water Research Laboratory. The WRL is exploring how new water structures are created and this has the potential to lead us to the mechanism of action of homeopathic medicines.
During manufacturing process, homeopathic medicines are repeatedly and vigorously shaken, introducing kinetic energy. This is known as succussion. The HRI are also investigating how this process can make homeopathic medicines biologically active. Click here for more: Investigations into succussion.
Breakthrough research by the French Nobel Laureate and virologist, Luc Montagnier, found that homeopathically prepared high dilutions of DNA emitted electromagnetic signals. When talking about his findings in 2010, Montagnier stated:
High dilutions of something are not nothing. They are water structures that mimic the original molecules... These are real phenomena which deserve further study.''
The fact that science cannot yet fully explain the exact mechanism of action of homeopathic remedies should not put people off using it. There are many medicines being used today that scientists still don't fully understand. Despite a barrage of criticism from sceptics, the evidence for homeopathy continues to grow, along with its global popularity.
Is homeopathy ethical?
With global warming on the rise and our air and rivers polluted, switching to homeopathy could be another step towards reducing your carbon footprint. The manufacturing process leaves no residue and uses very small amounts of the original substance resulting in a low environmental impact. A little goes a long way with homeopathy. Additionally, once the medicines are manufactured, no cruel toxicology testing is performed on animals. In fact, homeopathy is tested on humans and the symptoms that arise are recorded meticulously. It is through these testings (known as provings) that the therapeutic picture of each remedy is discovered, illustrating homeopathy's core philosophy of 'like cures like'.
Where can I learn more?
The National Center for Homeopathy is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting health through homeopathy, providing general education to the public and specific education to homeopathic practitioners. They also run a very good facebook page. Extraordinary Medicine - the Truth about Homeopathy is an informative website intending to 'set the record straight' by providing facts, research and personal testimonials. Www.findahomeopath.org.uk is filled with testimonials from celebrities and ordinary folk. It is intended to help people locate a registered homeopath in their area. Homeopathy Worked for Me is an informative website that began with a facebook page of personal testimonials from all over the world. Homeopathy - Medicine for the 21st Century (HMC21) is a charity created as a response to the unfounded propaganda being made against homeopathy.
Will homeopathy interfere with my regular medication?
Homeopathy will not interfere with the beneficial effects of your medication and may be useful in helping their side effects. If you do plan to try to reduce your medication, you must to do so with the supervision and permission of your GP.
How should I take my remedy?
Suck or crunch the pill, don't swallow back with water and leave 10 - 15 minutes before and after food or drink. Store your remedies in a cool, dark place away from strong odours and bright sunlight. Try also to keep them away from electromagnetic interferences such as your mobile phone. If your remedy comes in a liquid form, be careful not to touch the pipette with your tongue.
I've heard that some substances can antidote homeopathy. Is this true?
This is true for some people. It is best to avoid coffee and peppermint around the time you take your remedy. Some very sensitive people may have to do this for the duration of their treatment.
Is homeopathy expensive?
Contrary to popular believe, homeopathy is actually one of the cheapest forms of health care around. This is because the action of a well chosen remedy can sometimes continue for over two months. In Wales, where prescriptions are (at time of writing) still free, you may feel it is cheaper to continue using prescribed medication on a long term basis. However if you tot up the cost of your prescriptions over the course of a lifetime, you may be in for a surprise. A consultation with a homeopath often costs less than having a good hair cut or taking your pet to the vet. Over time you will need to visit a homeopath less and less as your health improves, possibly also resulting in you reducing your medication or even your health food supplements. Investing in a homeopathy kit can also save you money and time when treating acute complaints from home. I would highly recommend using a homeopathy kit if you have children who are prone to accidents or coughs and colds. It is by far the most child friendly medicine around, since it tastes sweet. Animals also respond well to homeopathy and very often you can find yourself saving money on veterinary fees.
Is homeopathy covered by my health insurance?
There are currently 19 private medical insurance companies that will cover homeopathic treatment. For a list of these companies, please click here: insurance companies. You may also be able to get a referral from your GP to one of the four NHS homeopathic hospitals in the UK.
Can I treat myself?
You can if your complaint is acute i.e. something that you haven't had for a long period of time such as a cold, flu, ear infection, sting, fever or minor injury. If your complaint is chronic i.e. you have had it for several months or longer, then you really need to see a professional for constitutional treatment. It is very useful to have a homeopathy kit at home for acute complaints and a good self help book such as The Complete Homeopathy Handbook by Miranda Castro.
Where can I buy remedies for acute complaints?
There are four homeopathic pharmacies in the UK that mainly operate using mail order; Helios, Weleda and Ainsworth and Nelsons. Helios Homeopathic Pharmacy sell 18 or 36 remedy kits with small materia medicas (manuals). These can be bought at http://www.helios.co.uk/.
Can I self prescribe during my homeopathic treatment?
It is advisable not to do this unless the problem is an acute illness or a minor first aid condition, since you may interfere with the action of your constitutional remedy. Always consult your prescribing homeopath before giving yourself other remedies.
What about dosage?
The golden rule with homeopathy is to only repeat the remedy if the improvement slows down or stops. However, if after three doses of a 30c you see no change, then its either the wrong remedy or the wrong potency. Don't keep taking a remedy if it's doing nothing because you may begin to 'prove' it (i.e develop the symptoms it is intended to treat). Another important point to remember is not to change the remedy too soon. Trying different remedies one after the other will only confuse the picture. It is recommended that you use potencies of 30c or lower unless you have completed a course in homeopathy by a fully qualified and experienced practitioner.
Are there any registering bodies?
The Society of Homeopaths is the largest professional body whose members are trained to high standards and agree to practise according to a strict code of ethics and practice. They are accredited by the Professional Standards Authority.
The Alliance of Registered Homeopaths (ARH) is a UK professional organisation that supports and promotes a high standard of safe, effective homeopathic practice.
The British Homeopathic Association exists to promote homeopathy practised by doctors and other healthcare professionals.
The Faculty of Homeopathy provides training pathways in homeopathy for vets, doctors, dentists, podiatrists and other statutorily regulated healthcare professionals.
The European Central Council of Homeopaths (ECCH) is an international council whose membership is made up of established associations of professional homeopaths existing within individual countries.
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