What is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a system of healing which uses minute doses of natural substances that, in a healthy person, would produce symptoms of the disease. That is, when taken correctly, homeopathic remedies stimulate the body’s natural defenses rather than suppressing them. This is the opposite of how most modern medicines work. A growing and significant number of medical professionals are coming to believe that what are traditionally seen as symptoms are actually efforts of the immune system to restore the body back to health, and suppressing those symptoms actually removes your body’s natural ability to defend itself.
You can buy low-potency homeopathic remedies at most health food stores. You may have seen one of the many layman’s guides that list particular homeopathic remedies for first aid use, or other specific remedies for acute health issues. In such cases, selecting the correct remedy is fairly quick and easy. But the true power of homeopathy is in constitutional homeopathy. Constitutional homeopathy works holistically. This is where we see profound and usually permanent healing responses. Holistic applications require a complete understanding of the physical, emotional, and psychological aspects of each individual. Even after 20 years as a certified homeopath, selecting the correct constitutional homeopathic remedy for your body is a very intricate process that requires a 90-120 minute long appointment, some very expensive homeopathic software, and several subsequent hours of hard work.
Homeopathic remedies are classified as drugs and are regulated by the FDA. Read the FDA’s Compliance Policy Guide at fda.gov for details.
Does Homeopathy Work?
You can find some very negative opinions about Homeopathy on the internet. There are two main arguments against homeopathy, so let’s address both of these issues right up front. First, critics argue that there is no evidence that homeopathy works except for as a placebo effect. The second argument we often hear is that homeopathic remedies are so diluted that it’s impossible for them to work. Let’s look at both of these arguments in detail.
Is there any evidence that homeopathy works?
I could cite a number of double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trials that show the effectiveness of homeopathy (The prestigious medical journal “The LANCET”, 9/20/97, cites 89 of them). I could also list studies showing efficacy on infants, and on animals, for which the placebo effect could not be a factor. But scientific studies are usually very difficult to understand and are, therefore, not very convincing to most people. Instead I will present evidence that the majority of people find to be much more convincing and easier to understand.
Homeopathy is mainstream medicine in many countries that have done very extensive studies on its effectiveness, found it to be both effective and cost effective, and then assimilated it into their health care systems. And most of these countries have more effective health care systems than the US. That is, their citizens are living longer, healthier lives than citizens of the USA. These countries include Switzerland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Italy1. All of these countries have a significantly higher Healthy Life Expectancy than the USA1. Collectively, their average citizen takes roughly 1/10th of the prescription drugs that the average US citizen takes2, and their national healthcare systems rely heavily on many alternative health treatments that the US medical establishment views as ineffective. If another country’s health care system is less expensive and simultaneously producing better results, it seems surprising to me that we don’t attempt to emulate it, rather than label it as ineffective and inferior. Here are some specifics about the use and effectiveness of Homeopathy in these countries.
In 2016 Switzerland ranked #2 in the world in Life Expectancy (the USA is 43rd and dropping)26, 27, and 4th in the world in Healthy Life Expectancy (the USA is 36th)1. So when the Swiss Government sponsors or contributes to scientific research on health care, we should pay attention. In 2005 the Swiss government commissioned what became the most comprehensive evaluation of Homeopathic medicine every performed. Their conclusion was that homeopathy is both effective and cost-effective and that homeopathic health care should be reimbursed by Switzerland’s national health insurance program3, 4. Today, homeopathy is integrated into the national health care of Switzerland.
France is ranked 8th in the world in Healthy Life Expectancy1. A large study used the French national health insurance databases (SNIIRAM) to analyze prescriptions of reimbursed homeopathic drugs or preparations in the overall French population, during the period July 2011-June 20125. The study’s conclusion stated “A total of 120,110 healthcare professionals (HCPs) prescribed at least one homeopathic drug or preparation. They represented 43.5% of the overall population of HCPs, nearly 95% of general practitioners, dermatologists and pediatricians, and 75% of midwives.” Twenty-one of France’s twenty-four schools of pharmacy teach courses in homeopathy6.
Italy ranks 5th in the world in Healthy Life Expectancy1. A 2005 survey of Italian cancer patients reported that 73% had used Alternative Medicine, with homeopathy and herbal medicine being the most common7. A survey of Italian children with cancer found that 83% of parents of children who used alternative care reported benefits from that care. Homeopathy was the most prevalent form of alternative care listed.
Lest you think homeopathy is only for the poor and ignorant, multiple large studies have shown that users of Alternative Medicine tend to be more educated than those who do not8, 9, 10, 11.
Another study interviewed 3,126 adult patients. 1,702 of these received homeopathic treatment, and 1,363 received conventional treatment. 53% of the patients who received homeopathic treatment were “completely satisfied” with their treatment, but only 43% of the patients who received conventional treatment were “completely satisfied” with their treatment. The homeopathic patients also reported fewer side effects (7.3%) than the conventional patients (16.1%). It is important to note that in this study, the homeopathic patients had more serious illnesses on average than the conventional patients12.
Thirty-eight percent of the medical doctors in Germany prescribed homeopathic remedies to their patients13. Seventy-Five percent of German citizens have used alternative medicine14. Another finding of this same survey, which was conducted by the German Government, was that people who used alternative medicine, especially homeopathy, had a 33% reduction in sick days over those who did not use alternative therapies.
The prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, reported in 2007 that over 100 million people in India use homeopathy exclusively, as their only form of health care, prompting Mohatma Gandi to say “it [homeopathy] cures a greater number of people than any other method of treatment”.
In the Netherlands (ranked 11th in the world in Healthy Life Expectancy) 45% of physicians view homeopathic medicines as effective treatments15.
Over 100 million Europeans use homeopathic remedies16.
A study that compared results of conventional medicine for cancer patients vs. conventional medicine plus homeopathy stated “Results suggest that the global health status and subjective wellbeing of cancer patients improves significantly when adjunct classical homeopathic treatment is administered in addition to conventional therapy17.
Now on to the second common complaint about homeopathy.
“Homeopathic remedies are diluted to the point where they are just pure water and that makes it physically impossible for them to have any effect whatsoever!”
It’s true that remedies are so highly diluted that it’s probable that no original molecules even exist in the final tincture. Ten years ago homeopaths could not defend against this attack. They just had to say “I don’t know how it works, but it works”. Today solid scientific research is there to back this statement up. Scientists can dilute a liquid to the point where not a single molecule is left in that liquid, yet they can still detect properties of the original liquid. In an interview for Science magazine, virologist and Nobel Prize winner Luc Montagnier was asked if he thinks there’s something to homeopathy. His response was “I can’t say that homeopathy is right in everything. What I can say now is that the high dilutions are right. High dilutions of something are not nothing. They are water structures which mimic the original molecules.” He goes on to explain that in his DNA testing, he can dilute to the point where there is not a single molecule of DNA left, yet they can still detect the signal18. We don’t really understand it yet, but somehow water is able to store information about substances that it had contact with, and pass that information on to other water molecules19, 20, 21.
Homeopathy Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that I receive. Note that some answers may be repeated in the text above. I did this intentionally because many people only read the FAQs.
Q. What is homeopathy?
A. Homeopathy is a natural pharmaceutical science. It uses minute doses of various plants and minerals, known as ‘remedies’, to stimulate the user’s natural defenses. Rather than treating symptoms, homeopaths attempt to choose a unique remedy that would cause similar symptoms if taken in large doses. That is, they attempt to stimulate the symptoms that the body would normally produce in order to fight the existing health issues. Homeopaths believe that most of the time symptoms are not caused by the disease, but rather are caused by the body’s attempt to fight the disease.
Q. Is homeopathy effective?
A. Many countries with better health care systems than the USA have evaluated homeopathy and now use it in their health care systems, but there is far too much evidence to reproduce here. Please read the above section: “Does Homeopathy Work?”
Q. Is homeopathy safe?
A. It is routinely given to pregnant women and infants. It has fewer side-effects than conventional medicine12. In the vast majority of cases, if the wrong homeopathic remedy is given, the patient’s body will not respond and nothing happens. I have never heard a case of a person becoming addicted to a homeopathic remedy. And homeopathic remedies are regulated as a drug by the FDA (see the FDA’s Compliance Policy Guide for more on this).
Q. Is homeopathy widely used?
A. It is used by several hundred million people world-wide. It is the only form of health care for over 100,000,000 people in the world today according to The LANCET Medical Journal, 2007.
Q. Are the homeopathic remedies that you use similar to what we can buy in the health food store?
A. Yes and no. A much less potent form of many of the remedies I use can be found in the health food store. I am unaware of any manufacturers of homeopathic remedies who will sell high potency remedies to someone who is not certifiably trained in their use.
Q. The remedies I see in the health food store are often a mixture of multiple remedies. Is this good?
A. Based upon my experience and my education, we should not mix remedies. Usually only one of the remedies in the mixture will be needed and the rest have the potential to get in the way of the one you need, thus diluting the body’s ability to respond to the correct remedy. Also, many remedies have a canceling effect on each other. Finally, I have not seen any significant scientific research on the effects of multiple remedies taken at once. We’re just not sure what it will do to a less-than-healthy person. Luckily most of these “shotgun” approaches are made with very weak forms of the remedies. It is generally believed that serious health issues should not be treated with these combination remedies.
Q. What types of health issues can you manage with homeopathy?
A. Homeopathic remedies are used on a wide array of different conditions. That is because homeopathic remedies are not used to treat diseases, but rather are used to stimulate your body’s natural defenses. Click here for over 200 articles on different conditions that are treated with Homeopathy.
Q. Are there certain foods I should avoid when taking a homeopathic remedy?
A. There are many foods you should avoid all the time. 🙂 But to answer your question – yes, there are some foods that directly counteract remedies. The most common “foods” that counteract (or antidote) remedies are coffee, mint, and nicotine. Looking at this from the opposite perspective, if your healing response was too much for you, you could nullify the remedy by taking these antidote substances.
Q. Do homeopathic remedies expire?
A. Many countries are forced to put an expiration date on them for legal compliance, but if they are stored correctly (in a cool, dark area in airtight bottles) they last for decades.
Q. What is the best way to take a homeopathic remedy?
A. One can take the remedy diluted in water or by dissolving the granule under the tongue.
Q. Can I overdose on a homeopathic remedy?
A. Repetitive dosing of the homeopathic remedy can cause a “proving” where you obtain the same symptoms of the remedy as you are trying to heal and or significant aggravation in the body.
Q. Aren’t homeopathic remedies so diluted that it’s impossible for them to work?
A. They do work, but yes they are so highly diluted in the manufacturing process that it’s likely no original molecules exist in the final tincture. This has led to much criticism of homeopathy. Ten years ago homeopaths could not defend this argument. They just had to say “I don’t know how it works, but it works”. Today the scientific research is there to explain the effectiveness of homeopathy. Scientists can dilute a liquid to the point where not a single molecule is left in that liquid, yet they can still detect properties of the original liquid. In an interview for Science magazine, virologist and Nobel Prize laureate Luc Montagnier was asked if he thinks there’s something to homeopathy. His response was “I can’t say that homeopathy is right in everything. What I can say now is that the high dilutions are right. High dilutions of something are not nothing. They are water structures which mimic the original molecules.” He goes on to explain that in his DNA testing, he can dilute to the point where there is not a single molecule of DNA left, yet they can still detect the signal . This research has been replicated in a number of scientific studies .
Q. How often should I take my remedy?
A. Your homeopath should specify this. In general, less is better. You should not require multiple doses of a constitutional remedy.
Our clinic is located between Denver and Colorado Springs near Monument, Colorado. Click here for directions
Nothing on this website is meant to be used as medical advice or to discourage you from seeking competent medical aid when necessary.
Footnotes: Healthy Life Expectancy (HALE) Data by Country, World Health Organization, 2016-06-06, http://apps.who.int/gho/data/node.main.HALE?lang=en  The world Medicines Situation, Essential Medicines and Health Products Information Portal, World Health Organization, 2004  “Homeopathy in Healthcare: Effectiveness, Appropriateness, Safety, Costs”, Bornhoft, Gudrun, and Matthiessen, Springer 2011; Note, this book represents a 2nd edition of the original report that was commissioned by the Swiss government.  “The Swiss Government’s Remarkable Report on Homeopathic Medicine”, Dana Ullman, 2/15/12, The Huffington Post  “Homeopathy in France in 2011-2012 according to reimbursements in the French national health insurance database”, Piolot M, Aug 2015, Us National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.  “Homeopathic Medicine: Europe’s #1 Alternative for Doctors”, The Huffington Post, Dana Ullman, 11/17/11  “Use of complementary and alternative medicine in cancer patients: a European survey”, Molassiotis A, et al, Annals of Oncology 16: 655-663, 2005.  “Patient satisfaction and side effects in primary care: an observational study comparing homeopathy and conventional medicine.” BioMed Central Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2008, 8:52.  “Factors influencing complementary and alternative medicine use in a multisite pediatric oncology practice”, Nathanson I, Journal of Pediatric Hematology & Oncology, 2007, 29:705-708.  “Use of complementary and alternative medicine in children with cancer in Occidental, Mexico”, Gomez-Martinez R, et al, Pediatric Blood Cancer, 2007, 49:820-823  “Complementary and Alternative medicine use in pediatric oncology patients in eatern Turkey”, Cancer Nursing, 2007, 30:38-44.  Cross reference with footnote #8.  “Complementary and Alternative Medicine: attitudes and patterns of use by German physicians in a national survey, Stange R, Amhof R, Moebus S, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 12/14/08, 1255061  “Three out of Four Germans Have Used Complementary or Natural Remedies”, British Medical Journal, 11/2/02, 325:990  “Complementary Medicine in Europe”, British Medical Journal, 309, 7/9/94, 107-10.  “Lookig for a person-centered medicine: non conventional medicine in the conventional European and Italian Setting, PR di sarsina, Iseppato I, eCam, 2009, doi:10.1093  “Influence of adjunctive classical homeopathy on global health status and subjective wellbeing in cancer patients – A pragmatic randomized controlled trial”, Michael Frass, et al, Complementary therapies in medicine, 2015, 23 (3): 309-17.  Science Magazine interview with Luc Montagnier, 24 December 2010, vol 330, sciencemag.org  Rao ML, Roy R, Bell IR, Hoover R. The defining role of structure (including epitaxy) in the plausibility of homeopathy. Homeopathy, 2007; 96: 175–183.  Samal S, Geckeler KE. Unexpected solute aggregation in water on dilution. Chem Commun, 2001; 21: 2224–2225  Witt CM, Bluth M, Albrecht H, et al. The in vitro evidence for an effect of high homeopathic potencies – a systematic review of the literature. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2007; 15: 128–138.  Science Magazine interview with Luc Montagnier, 24 December 2010, vol 330, sciencemag.org  Brack A, Strube J, Stolz P, Decker H. Effects of ultrahigh dilutions of 3,5-dichlorophenol on the luminescence of the bacterium Vibrio fischeri. Biochim Biophys Acta, 2003; 1621: 253–260  Belon P, Cumps J, Ennis M, et al. Histamine dilutions modulate basophil activation. Inflamm Res, 2004; 53: 181–188  Witt CM, Bluth M, Albrecht H, et al. The in vitro evidence for an effect of high homeopathic potencies – a systematic review of the literature. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2007; 15: 128–138  World Factbook Ranking, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), 2016 Rankings, www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2102rank.html  “Life Expectancy”, Center for Disease Control (CDC), National Center for Health Statistics 2018