Despite a growing interest in natural healing, there are still many myths and misunderstandings about homeopathy. Hopefully the questions below will address some of the most common misconceptions or queries you may have. Please contact me if there is anything else you would like to know or refer to the links section where you will find information on further reading and ongoing research.
But isn’t it just a placebo?
Placebo effects are associated with all medical interventions. Placebo-controlled trials, which directly compare an experimental treatment with an inactive ‘dummy’ treatment, have therefore become a routine part of medical research in order to discover whether new treatments have any ‘real’ clinical effects above and beyond placebo.
Up to date research evidence shows that of the 134 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of homeopathy published in peer-reviewed journals, 59 are positive (that is, demonstrating that homeopathy has an effect beyond placebo), eight trials are negative, and the remaining 67 are inconclusive(1).
Also, personal experience has shown me that it definitely isn’t just a placebo. I was a complete sceptic when I first saw a homeopath and expected very little from it. My GP suggested it as a possible option when conventional medicine could offer no relief for an ongoing condition I was suffering from and now 12 years since my first consultation I am still symptom free.
How does homeopathy work?
A question many people ask is how it can possibly work when the medicine is often so dilute. The leading current proposal is that water is capable of storing information relating to substances with which it has previously been in contact. Much has been written on the memory of water theory and research is ongoing. For more information on this and other homeopath trials and research I’ve added some useful websites and books in the links section but a good starting point is the British Homeopathic Association and the Homeopathic Research Institute Homeopathic Research Institute.
What are the remedies made from?
Homeopathic remedies are derived from many different natural sources. Most are derived from plants and others are made from metals, animal or mineral substances. Many of them have been used medicinally for generations and some still form conventional medications for example, digitalis, atropine and salicylic acid.
They work by gently boosting the natural energy of the body, and are very safe, even for pregnant and sensitive patients. Remedies may be prescribed in liquid or tablet form.
Will I get side effects?
Side effects are extremely rare(2). One of the expressed reasons for the popularity of homeopathy among patients at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital is that it does not have the side effects associated with many conventional drugs(3).
What can happen is that during treatment a person may feel or experience a slight worsening of symptoms, after which rapid improvement is often seen. This is absolutely normal and can last between two and five days.
Is it safe for children?
Homeopathy is gentle and non-addictive therefore making it very suitable for children, babies and the elderly. Homeopathy may be a
safe(4) and effective option for a wide range of childhood problems and illnesses which are difficult to treat with orthodox medicines.
Some parents like to have knowledge of a small range of remedies which may be of use in common mild childhood ailments to enable first aid prescribing at home. If you would like to learn more about treating your family at home please contact me as I periodically give talks on treating common childhood ailments and Homeopathy for First Aid.
Can I use it during pregnancy?
Yes, Homeopathy is perfectly safe to use during pregnancy, in breast-feeding mums and for children because the ingredients in homeopathic medicines, mainly plants and minerals, are highly diluted. This means that the medicines are completely non-toxic, making them ideal for use at times when you might not want to take conventional drugs.
Can I take it alongside my conventional medicine?
Absolutely but as with any medicines you take it is essential that everyone involved in your health care is aware of any medications you are taking. Homeopathy is safe to use and may be effective in helping reduce side effects from essential conventional medicine(5).
What to expect after the remedy
This is very individual. There may be a significant improvement after only a few weeks or it may be more gradual. Keeping in touch with your homeopath throughout treatment is essential so they can monitor and adjust your treatment as necessary.
Will I see immediate benefits?
This varies from person to person, but changes and improvements are usually seen between each session. Some people can see dramatic improvements in a very short period of time, and for others it can take slightly longer.
How many sessions will I need?
This will be influenced by the nature of your illness, how long you’ve suffered from it and other factors in your personal circumstances at the time. There is however, some thought that a general indication is a month of treatment for every year you’ve had your complaint.
Some people have monthly treatments until their complaint has improved and then come on an as needed basis or periodically to maintain health and prevent relapse.
How much will it cost?
Please see the fees page for current prices. Please do talk to me if payment may be a problem as concessions are available in some circumstances.
Will my health insurance pay for treatment?
Many health insurance companies do cover homeopathic treatment by a registered practitioner. The Society of Homeopaths has a comprehensive list including details of whether a GP referral letter may be required.
Are you registered with a governing body?
Yes, I am a fully accredited member of the Society of Homeopaths and undergo regular supervision and continued professional development.
Where can I find a qualified homeopath?
The Society of Homeopaths has an easy to use database where you can search by postcode for registered practitioners in your area.
Is the information I give confidential?
Completely. All registered homeopaths abide by a strict code of ethics. Whatever is discussed during the consultation is totally confidential and all records are held in accordance with the Data Protection Act.
What if I have allergies?
Homeopathy has been shown to be very effective in the treatment of sensitivities and allergies including hay fever, allergic asthma and eczema. For example, hay fever is commonly treated by homeopaths with numerous trials showing positive outcomes (6, 7, 8, 9). To date, 13 randomised controlled trials have been carried out in allergy, nine of which had positive findings.
Always inform your homeopath of any allergies you have even if that is not the reason for your consultation.
What about seeing my doctor?
It is recommended that you maintain your relationship with your GP or specialist. When necessary homeopathic and conventional approaches can be used alongside one another to give the most effective and appropriate medical care. Your local NHS services will also be able to arrange any diagnostic procedures you may need and provide emergency cover.
- Mathie R. The research evidence base for homeopathy: a fresh assessment of the literature. Homeopathy, 2003; 92: 84-91.
- Dantas F, Rampes H. Do homeopathic medicines provoke adverse effects? A systematic review. Br Hom J, 2000; 89: 35-8.
- Sharples, F., Van Haselen, R. Patients’ perspectives on using a complementary medicine approach to their health. A survey at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital NHS Trust. London, 1998.
- Endrizzi C, et al. Harm in homeopathy:aggravations, adverse drug events or medication errors? Homeopathy, 2005;94(4):233-40
- Christie EA, Ward AT. Report on NHS practice-based homeopathy project. Analysis of effectiveness and cost of homeopathic treatment within a GP practice at St. Margaret’s Surgery, Bradford on Avon, Wilts. The Society of Homeopaths, Sept 1996
- Taylor MA, Reilly D, et al. Randomised controlled trial of homeopathy versus placebo in perennial allergic rhinitis with an overview of four trial series. BMJ 2000;321:471-6
- Bellavite P, Ortolani R, Pontarollo F, et al. Immunology and homeopathy. 4. Clinical studies –Part 2. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2006; 3: 397–409.
- Wiesenauer M, Lüdtke R. A meta-analysis of the homeopathic treatment of pollinosis with Galphimiaglauca. Forschende Komplementärmedizin und Klassische Naturheilkunde 1996; 3: 230–236.
- Reilly DT, Taylor MA, McSharry C, Aitchison T. Is homeopathy a placebo response? Controlled trial of homeopathic potency, with pollen in hay fever as model. Lancet 1986; ii: 881–8.