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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 can cause symptoms can be used in 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 very dilute form of sugar to cure a sugar sensitivity or allergy.
Homeopathy may be used to treatment chronic illness (skin conditions, hormone imbalances, depression, headaches, behavioural problems, digestive disturbances, asthma, arthritis etc.), acute conditions (coughs, colds, earaches, food poisoning, hangovers, travel sickness) and minor accidents requiring first aid (bites, strings, hives, injuries, trauma, shock) and vague symptoms where there is no identifiable cause of disease but the person feels unwell.
Homeopathy views many symptoms in in quest to treat underlying tendencies to ill health, including mental and emotional symptoms. It is a complementary medicine and can work alongside conventional treatments and medications where applicable or required.
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 very dilute, homeopathic medicines are generally considered low risk.
Critics of Homeopathy
Homeopathy has come under fire in recent times in relation to its efficacy. Britain has homeopathic hospitals under the National Health Service (NHS) and homeopathy has been favoured by the Royal Family since Queen Victoria’s time in 1930. It is also widely accepted throughout Europe. But despite this a 2010 evaluation of homeopathy by the British House of Commons Science and Technology Committee declared that homeopathy was no more effective than a placebo.
Major criticisms of homeopathy are that:
- There is no scientific evidence that homeopathy works: but 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 the non-existence of suitable testing equipment.
- The concept of a memory for water is unscientific: there have actually 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 many changes in water crystal structure from seemingly benign input.
People using homeopathy may avoid more effective treatments and doctors: there are cases where people have died while using homeopathic treatments in favour over more conventional medicine but, as a modality, can homeopathy be held responsible for people’s individual choices?
Homeopathy in Australia
In Australia homeopathy is an item covered by many private health insurance under ‘extras’ cover but this may change. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has indicated that it may declare the work of homeopaths to be baseless and unethical because as a medicine it has been shown not to be effective. Given that the NHMRC and the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing are currently reviewing all natural therapies receiving rebate from private health insurance companies, the future relationship of homeopathy and private health insurance is uncertain.