More and more people are turning to complementary therapies like acupuncture, osteopathy and reflexology to help with their health problems, but what is homeopathy and could it be an option?
Homeopathy isn’t a new system of medicine, in fact it’s philosophy was first mentioned by Hippocrates in ancient times however, homeopathy as it is practiced today was discovered by a German doctor called Samuel Hahnemann in the 1800’s. He made the discovery after ingesting a type of bark that was noted for helping with the symptoms of malaria. On ingesting, he started to experience symptoms similar to those of malaria and the theory of ‘like cures like’ was coined. An example for this is that an onion can make your eyes water, yet it is also used very effectively as a homeopathic remedy for hay-fever; where the eyes water. Similarly, it is why we listen to sad music when we are sad; it makes us feel better. Hahnemann successfully treated all of his patients in this way, but still found that when the medicine was used in a conventional way it would often cause lots of side effects. He decided to dilute the medicine to see if it still worked. To his surprise he discovered that the more diluted the substance was, the more powerful it was in its healing effects and with no side effects.
Hahnemann is famous for his success rates in treating the smallpox epidemic, where he had a much higher survival rate than conventional medicine. There are literally thousands of homeopathic remedies, made from everything you can imagine, to help any emotional or physical condition of the body.
There are three important things to remember about homeopathy
It is holistic
This means that it looks at the whole picture not just the presenting symptoms, like conventional medicine does. This is important as no one part of the body works in isolation. The whole body is connected in many ways and to just look at one part means that you are putting a plaster over the symptoms, as opposed to dealing with the root cause.
It treats the individual rather than the condition
We all experience ailments in different ways, so it would be wrong to treat everyone with the same remedy. Take headaches for example, they can be over the eyes, on the forehead, on the top of the head, back of the head, side of the head. The pain can be shooting, stabbing, aching, dull, sharp. They may make some people angry, some irritable some emotional. They might be due to work stress, diet, hormones, emotional upset etc. Each case therefore, has to be taken and treated individually.
It is gentle in its healing
There are no side-effects with homeopathy like there can be with conventional medicine, which makes it ideal for children and pregnancy. It works with the body in a natural way, gently encouraging the body’s own healing response.
There has been a lot of talk in the press recently about homeopathy and whether it should be funded on the NHS. Currently the NHS spends between £2-4m on homeopathy a year. This money is used to help support the homeopathic hospitals in London, to support paediatrics, and in Bristol to support the treatment of cancer; all of the homeopaths there are medical doctors who are trained in homeopathy. It does not fund or support people nationally for using homeopathy as a treatment instead of, or alongside, conventional medicine. This is a mere drop in the ocean considering that the NHS spent around £2m on art over the course of 2 years and a whopping £2.5bn on the adverse effects of prescription drugs!
In fact, a leading economist, Christopher Smallwood, was commissioned to take an independent look at the contribution that complementary therapies can potentially make to the delivery of healthcare in the UK. He concluded that if only 4% of GPs were to offer homeopathic treatment, this would result in an annual saving for the NHS of £190m. Imagine what could be achieved if all GPs recommended homeopathy for just minor infections like tonsillitis and ear infections instead of using expensive and damaging antibiotics, which are leading to antibiotic resistance.
For homeopaths in the UK treatment is either privately funded or reimbursed on private healthcare. There are no NHS referrals, so for homeopaths it therefore makes little difference if the funds are withdrawn. It does unfortunately affect you however; the people who believe that choice is important and who find homeopathy useful.
My personal view is that healthcare in the UK should be integrated across all disciplines. Not just homeopathy, but counselling, osteopathy, reflexology and massage etc.
About 4 years ago my mother had a stroke and spent 12 weeks in hospital. It was clear to me that an integrated approach was needed.
She was suffering constipation so…she was given some drugs.
Homeopathy could have helped.
The drugs she was given gave her leg cramps so…she was given more drugs to help with that.
Massage would have helped.
She was in low spirits and so…she was given antidepressants.
Counselling would have helped.
On discharge she was taking more than 8 different types of drugs, with absolutely no studies at all to show what effect that particular mix of drugs could have on the body.
Surely if there is a cheaper natural way of healing, like homeopathy, this is a better option?
Well, according to the ever increasing video testimonials on the ‘homeopathy worked for me’ website about how it has worked in treating ailments from thrush and tonsillitis through to sciatica and eczema, it is!
Many people don’t even consider using homeopathy; believing it to be unproven, but this is not the case. By 2009 there were 142 randomized controlled trials conducted on homeopathy. 63 of those showed positive results for homeopathy and out of 5 systematic reviews assessing the evidence; 4 drew positive conclusions. This is evidence that cannot be ignored, especially considering that homeopathy doesn’t have the big funds to finance trials like the pharmaceutical industry does. Nor does it work on a one remedy for one ailment treatment like conventional medicine does, which makes it hard to fit into the strict trial requirements. There is also an increasing number of celebrities who champion the use of homeopathy due to personal experiences; dancer Darcey Bussell, Olympic sprinter James Ellington and actress Gwyneth Paltrow, to name but a few.
I discovered homeopathy about 9 years ago. My 3 week old son suffered from Osteomyelitis; a serious bone infection. The prognosis was serious: bone deformation up until the age of 16 with straightening and lengthening operations needed every 2 – 3 years. I was frustrated that there was nothing that could be done to encourage the bone to grow normally and that we just had to wait for it to grow deformed to then ‘fix’ it. This led me to look into alternative therapies. As a marketing manager at the time I had not heard of homeopathy, but it was recommended to me by a chiropractor that we were seeing. We had already seen great results from the chiropractic work, so I found a homeopath and started him on treatment. The results were so impressive that I became more and more intrigued and interested in homeopathy.
Whilst researching it, I stumbled upon The Centre for Homeopathic Education in London, which offered degree courses in homeopathy.
It felt like it was what I was supposed to do.
I applied a month later and started my degree a few months after that! 4 years later I graduated with my Science degree in Homeopathy and opened my practice in Farnham. Now, four years on, I have never looked back. I love the work that I do and everyday I feel grateful to have found homeopathy; not just for my patients, but also for my family.
We have scientific evidence that it works and personal testimonials of its effectiveness, but the only way you can form an opinion for yourself is to give it a go!
So, if you have a physical or emotional complaint that you need help with, contact the practice and make an appointment. First appointments last about 1 ½-2 hours and between 2 – 4 appointments are usually recommended. Obviously this will depend on the condition and how long you have been experiencing it for.
The Homeopathy Practice is a family practice in Farnham offering consultations for all ages and all conditions. You can also arrange a private self-help workshop at your home, for yourself and a group of friends, to learn about using homeopathy at home for everyday ailments and complaints.
Contact Tessa Masterton at The Homeopathy Practice.