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The Lowdown on Homeopathy
The Basics of Homeopathy
Homeopathy was developed by a German physician/chemist over 200 years ago and according to the Australian Homeopathic Association, is recognised by the World Health Organisation as a valid form of healthcare.
It is based on the principles of ‘like cure like’ and ‘ultra dilutions’. The first principle means that substances that cause symptoms can be used in a diluted form to treat the same symptom in an illness. The second principle says the more dilute a substance is, the more potent it is. An example of this may be to use a very diluted form of sugar to cure a sugar sensitivity or allergy.
Homeopathy may be used to treat chronic illness (skin conditions, hormone imbalances, depression, headaches, behavioural problems, digestive disturbances, asthma, arthritis etc.), acute conditions (coughs, colds, earaches, food poisoning) and minor accidents requiring first aid (bites, strings, hives, injuries, shock) and vague symptoms where there is no identifiable cause of disease but the person feels unwell.
Homeopathy views a range of symptoms in a bid to treat the underlying cause for ill health, including mental and emotional symptoms. It is a complementary medicine that aims to work alongside conventional treatments and medications.
Homeopathic medicines are made from a variety of sources including plants, animals and minerals. They are prepared according to strict guidelines under the control of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The medicines can be given in the form of liquid, granules, powder or tablets and because they are often diluted, homeopathic medicines are generally considered low risk.
Critics of Homeopathy
Homeopathy has come under fire in recent times in relation to its efficacy. In March 2015, The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) reviewed the scientific evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathy in treating a variety of clinical conditions with the aim of providing Australians with reliable information about its use. They found that “Based on the assessment of the evidence of effectiveness of homeopathy, NHMRC concludes that there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective...”.
Some common criticisms of homeopathy are:
- There is no scientific evidence that homeopathy works: No scientific evidence does not necessarily mean it doesn’t work, it just means there is no evidence. Lack of evidence may be due to lack of research funding or suitable testing equipment.
- The concept of a memory for water is unscientific: There have been various studies which show that water may be imprinted by the electromagnetic energy signature derived from physical substances to which it exposed. Water crystal photography by Dr Masuro Emoto also shows changes in water crystal structure from seemingly benign input.
- People using homeopathy may avoid more effective treatments and doctors: There are some cases where people have died while using homeopathic treatments in favour of more conventional medicine but, as a modality, can homeopathy be held responsible for people’s individual choices?
Homeopathy in Australia
In Australia, homeopathy is no longer covered by private health insurance due to Federal Government reforms in 2019. More information on these reform changes and natural therapies is available here.