WHAT IS HOMEOPATHY?
Homeopathy is a therapy based on the theory of treating like with like. Homeopaths treat a patients symptoms by giving a highly dilited form of a substance, animal , vegetable, or mineral which when taken in a crude dose, would cause similar symptoms on being given to a healthy person. In assessing the patient, homeopaths often take into account a range of physical, emotional and lifestyle factors.
Homeopathy was developed over 200 years ago and is now used worldwide. It is acknowledged by the World Health Organisation as a valid form of health care. Its effectiveness has been clearly established by over 200 years of clincal experience and currently has a pharmacy of over 3000 medicines, which are non toxic and non addictive owing to the method of preparation. Homeopathy is also cost efective.
HOW DOES IT WORK ?
Homoeopathy works by using minute doses of substances, which cause symptoms similar to the illness being treated. Examples of the application of this principle are:
The use of homoeopathically prepared red onion (Allium Cepa), which, in a crude dose would cause watery eyes and sneezing, may be used for hay fever and some allergies.
The use of homoeopathically prepared coffee (Coffea) as a treatment for insomnia.
WHAT CONDITIONS CAN HOMEOPATHY HELP WITH?
The system of homoeopathy is based on the selection of a medicine that causes symptoms similar to those that the sick person i experiencing. This ‘Law of Similars’, as it is called, is a practical method of finding the substance to which a person is sensitive. Wherever a set of symptoms can be obtained, a condition can be treated. For example, headaches in different patients would each be treated with different medicines, according to the patient’s individual symptoms. Therefore, homoeopathy can treat a wide range of chronic and acut illnesses.
WHAT RISKS ARE INVOLVED IN THE USE OF HOMEOPATHY?
Homoeopathy carries few risks in its practice, when compared to other therapies. The method of preparation of homoeopathic remedies makes them non toxic and non addictive.
HOW WIDESPREAD IS ITS USE?
Homoeopathy is used throughout the developed world. According to the WHO, 30 million Europeans use homoeopathy. In the UK homoeopathy is available in four National Health Service (NHS) centres. NHS is the equivalent of the Medicare system. The Royal famil has used it since 1830 and it has a wide acceptance throughout Europe. In France, the most popular cold and flu remedy is a homoeopathi medicine. Homoeopathy is also used extensively in the developing world, due to its easy access, cost effectiveness and low risk profile. Over 10.000 doctors in India use homoeopathic medicine to treat their patients. Homoeopathy is also used in veterinary medicine, both in Australia and overseas.
CAN THE HOMEOPATHIC EFFECT BE ATTRIBUTED TO PLACEBO?
This is the topic of many discussions about homoeopathy. Homoeopathy is effective on animals and children, which discounts the placebo theory. Research data is available in The Lancet Linde, K. Et al. (1997). “Are the clinical effects of homoeopathy placebo effect? A meta-analysis of placebocontrolled trials.” Lancet vol. 350 pp. 834-843. The trend of the studies is that homoeopathy is effective above placebo and requires further study.
ARE THERE HOMEOPATHIC VACCINES?
The term homoeopathic vaccination is a misnomer. Vaccination, a well understood medical term, relies on antibody formation Homoeopathic medicines do not rely on antibody formation. They affect the patient’s initial pre-disposition to an illness, rather than the antibody/antigen reaction There is a long history in homoeopathy of disease prevention, using miniscule doses of the disease material for disease protection.
HOW IS THE PROFESSION STRUCTURED IN AUSTRALIA?
There are a number of homoeopathic associations in Australia, all of which belong to the Australian Register of Homoeopaths (AROH). In order to become a professional member of these associations, criteria for entry into AROH must be met.
The Australian Register of Homoeopaths Ltd is the national registration body for professiona homoeopaths and is the receiver and arbiter of complaints from the public against registered members. Homoeopaths registered with the board have qualifications matched to the government endorsed National Competency Standards and are required to meet the Board’s continuing education and insurance requirements each year.
AROH’s website is www.aroh.com.au.
IS HOMEOPATHY COVERED BY HEALTH FUNDS?
All major health funds provide cover for homoeopathic treatment.
HOW ARE HOMEOPATHS TRAINED?
AROH registers homoeopaths who have undergone training at Registered Training Organisations or Universities, which comply with Commonwealth Government-recognised National Competency Standards in Homoeopathy (NCSH). This involves a minimum standard of a three-year Advanced Diploma Course of full time study and clinical training. Endeavour College of Natural Medicine offers a Health Science Degree in Homeopathy. The medical science component includes health sciences, pharmacology, symptomatology & diagnosis an physical examination. The study hours in the science component equals the homoeopathic content in these courses.
All AROH registrants must also meet annual Continuing Professional Development requirements as part of their registration requirements.
IS THERE ANY RESEARCH AVAILABLE ON HOMEOPATHY?
While scepticism of the efficacy of small doses of medicine is understandable from a strictly rational perspective, it ignores the large body of evidence from basic science, controlled clinical studies, epidemiological data, clinical outcomes trials, and historical review of the field. Some highly respected basic scientific research has begun to verify the claims that homoeopaths have made for 200 years, and that various extremely low concentrations of biological agents can exhibit powerful biochemical effects. (Scientists have no way at present to assess the effects of less than a molecule of a substance).
There has been a large body of research on homoeopathy. A review of 105 controlled clinical trials on homoeopathy, published in th British Medical Journal, showed that homoeopathic treatment was successful in 81 of those trials - Kleijnen et al, Clinical Trials of Homoeopathy, British Medical Journal
(The information above has been taken from the Australian Homeopathic Association website. For more information go to www.homeopathyoz.org