HOMEOPATHY - A SCIENTIFIC VIEW
Is it effective?
Of 107 clinical trials 77% showed homeopathy to be more effective than the placebo used.(1) The higher-quality studies yielded more positive results than the lower-quality studies.(2) Three studies conducted at Glasgow University in Scotland also produced positive results.(3-4)
One hundred consecutive outpatients at Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital were surveyed 1 year after treatment. Of the 80% which responded, 60% had improved in the area for which they sought treatment, and 61% felt an overall improvement in well-being. This is very impressive when you consider that 81% of those involved in the study had been unresponsive to conventional treatment!
Homeopathy is the only unorthodox treatment in the U.K. to have an
official place within the NHS.
One of the main reasons for using homeopathy is its safety, even during pregnancy and for infants and the elderly. Although symptoms may increase at first, this is part of the homeopathic process, which goes to the source of the problem and eliminates it from there. Symptoms which have been suppressed may resurface during treatment.
Homeopathy is a safe therapy and can never harm the patient. Only
using homeopathy in place of another appropriate and necessary method
of treatment poses a threat. But here it is not the homeopathic treatment
which causes harm, but the failure to use more appropriate measures.
There are homeopathic treatments for just about every disorder imaginable.
It might be more useful to ask:
When conventional treatments have failed or do not exist
Yes! Homeopathic remedies are very inexpensive, and its lack of side
effects and iatrogenic (doctor-caused) illnesses makes it even more
In Scotland, 20% of the General Practitioners have completed the basic
level of training in homeopathy and two years later 78% are still using
it in their practice. This is an asset to patients who want their health
care to be provided in one place. Personally, if I were to consult
a conventional doctor, I would prefer one who was open-minded and knowledgeable
about alternative therapies.
In the U.K. it is extremely popular, even among the royal family. Homeopathy is a part of their socialized medical system, and private insurance pays for treatment by homeopathic medical specialists. Its popularity in Europe is increasing rapidly.
In the U.S. it is growing in popularity, along with an increase in other alternative therapies. Its greater popularity in the U.K. reflects their medical system which benefits from reduced costs and increased patient health.
In the U.S. our medical system is heavily influenced by drug manufacturers,
whose profits support lobbyists, who protect the drug companies' interests.
The major drug companies here pay for most of the research which is
conducted. They also control which information is released to medical
practitioners and to the public. In short, our system is biased toward
those who benefit from illness and drug sales.
Homeopaths introduced the concept of placebo controlled clinical trials in 1911. It is an aspect of their concept of "proving" remedies, which means that a substance which will cure a symptom will at larger quantities produce the symptom.
How homeopathy works remains a mystery to the scientific world.(5)
A substance is vibrated and diluted until no discernible part of it
remains. Yet its effectiveness has been demonstrated repeatedly in
scientifically valid studies.
It is safe, it is effective, it costs less than conventional therapy,
it treats the root of the problem, and it is available locally. If
this is what you want, then homeopathy is for you.
1. Kleijnen J., Knipschild P., ter Riet G., "Clinical Trials
Some of the material in this article is based on lecture material
from "Alternative Medicine: Implications for Clinical Practice" given
at the Harvard CME Seminar, March 28-31, 1995.
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