Is Homeopathy the same as Naturopathy or Herbal Medicine?
In a word, no! Homeopathy is a separate system of medicine with its own distinct principles such as the idea of "like cures like" and the minimum dose, and it uses its own range of specially prepared homeopathic medicines. Although many substances that are used herbally also form the basis of homeopathic remedies, the way in which they are prepared and prescribed varies greatly, and they are often used to treat very different illnesses in their homeopathic form.
Why do I need to see a professional homeopath? Can't I just get a homeopathic remedy from the health shop?
Apart from a very few exceptions, homeopathy does not have a particular remedy for a particular complaint, so choosing a remedy is not a "one-size-fits-all" exercise. This is the main reason that it's beneficial to consult with a professional homeopath, who will be able to assess your symptomatology and then prescribe a remedy that is individualised to your specific case. Homeopaths also use a much wider range of remedies (up to 4000!) than you will find in any health shops, which are sourced from specialist homeopathic pharmacies.
How many appointments will I need?
Acute conditions such as ear aches or tummy bugs usually only need a single appointment.
For chronic conditions, a minimum of two consultations are usually recommended, approximately 4-6 weeks apart. This allows time after the first consultation for the remedy to take effect and any changes or improvements are discussed in detail at the follow-up appointment. At this stage, it's decided what the next course of action should be. Since each person is unique, it's impossible to say up-front how many consultations will be needed, but homeopathy is a fast-acting and long-lasting form of therapy, with the goal to rebalance you mind and body so that your wellbeing is your own and you're not reliant other people in order to keep healthy!
Many people find they benefit from 3-6 monthly check-ups with a homeopath in order to check that everything is on track and to reset any minor imbalances in their health that may have cropped up through day-to-day activity and lifestyle.
How safe is homeopathy?
Homeopathic remedies are unique medicines, drawn from the plant, mineral and animal worlds. During a process known as potentisation, the original substance is diluted to such a degree that little or none of it remains in the final remedy, hence they become a form of energy medicine.
The remedies work by gently boosting the natural energy of the body, and are very safe, even for pregnant and sensitive patients, as well as young children and babies. Healing begins from within your body, strengthening your health and immune system, without any danger of damaging side effects. There is no danger of addiction or toxicity, and they can be safely used alongside most conventional medicines and other complementary therapies.
Will I be told I need to make lots of dietary or lifestyle changes?
Unlike some other forms of treatment, such as naturopathy, dietary and lifestyle changes are not an integral part of treatment. The primary goal of the homeopath is to identify and prescribe the homeopathic remedy that best fits the person and their complaint. However, the action of even the best-chosen remedy can often be hindered if a person has certain habits or circumstances that are a hindrance to good health. Therefore, although you should receive benefits from making no changes to your lifestyle, to get the very best results from homeopathy, it's usually worth being open to making some adjustments here and there, and I can give advice on the best things to try.
Is there any scientific evidence that it works?
Yes, plenty! Below are just some examples:
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.(10) This is despite the fact that researchers in the field suggest RCTs are not the best research tool to test homeopathy or any other individualised treatment. New research models are being developed to better reflect homeopathic clinical practice.
In 2011, a rigorous Swiss government report (which was in fact the most comprehensive review to date of any governmental body on the scientific evidence for homeopathic medicine) concluded that Homeopathy is not only highly effective but also much more cost-efficient than conventional treatment.
In 2005, the largest service evaluation of homeopathic treatment reported that 70 per cent of 6,500 follow-up patients experienced improvement in their health. Eczema, asthma, migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, depression and chronic fatigue improved.
Dr David Reilly and his team at Glasgow University have conducted four double blind placebo controlled trials, carried out over a period of 18 years, specifically designed to examine the evidence for the hypothesis that any benefits of homeopathy are due to the placebo effect. All four trials involving a total of 252 patients have produced similar, positive results demonstrating that homeopathy has an effect greater than placebo and that these results are reproducible.
More information can on recent and current research into homeopathy can be found here.
How can the remedies work if they're so dilute?
There are currently several different theories about exactly how and why homeopathic medicines have an effect, and it's likely that the answer will come from studies in quantum physics. Though it seems hard to believe that anything so dilute could still have an effect, even hardened sceptics have been convinced - for example, by laboratory tests of homeopathic preparations acting on cells, or by the reactions of animals and babies to homeopathic medicines (where there could be no possibility of a placebo effect).
Although the exact nature of how the remedies act is still a mystery, we do know that whatever is taking place is doing so at a sub-atomic (i.e. quantum) level, and this is why homeopathy is often referred to as a form of "energy medicine".