Homeopathy is a holistic therapy that looks at the person as a whole. This means it looks at emotional, physical and mental illness together. This is because homeopaths believe the mind and body are linked, so you cannot address one part of the body without affecting the whole.
Working on the theory that 'like cures like', the treatment involves highly diluted substances. The aim of this is to trigger the body's natural healing system. Looking at every patient as an individual, homeopathy takes a variety of factors into consideration.
On this page we will look at homeopathy in more depth. We'll look at what to expect when you see a homeopath, homeopathic remedies and how to find a qualified homeopath.
What is homeopathy?
The key belief behind homeopathy is that you can treat 'like with like'. So, a substance that in large doses can cause symptoms, can in theory be used in much smaller doses to address symptoms. The concept is occasionally used in conventional medicine. For example, those with pollen allergies may be treated with small doses of the allergens to desensitise them.
Homeopathic medicines (or remedies) are created through a process of dilution and vigorous shaking, called succussion.
Clinical trials have yet to provide evidence as to how or if this therapy works and it has been reported as performing no better than placebos. Experiments have however demonstrated that remedies can cause biological effects. This makes them distinct from 'pure water', something some skeptics have suggested.
Research is ongoing to establish how homeopathy affects the body.
What can it help with?
Due to its holistic, natural and gentle nature, many homeopaths say the therapy is ideal for those seeking a holistic approach to well-being. If you are looking for homeopathy to support you with a medical condition, it is important to note that this therapy should not be used as a substitute for conventional medicine. If you are suffering from a medical condition, it is important to visit your GP for advice. Homeopathy is a complementary therapy that can be used alongside conventional treatment.
What to expect when you see a homeopath
Seeing a practitioner generally follows this format:
the initial consultation
Below we go into more depth about each stage.
As with most therapists, homeopaths will invite you for a consultation before treatment begins. This may take one to two hours and allows the practitioner to gain a clear understanding of your health.
During this process, the practitioner will ask questions about your current state of health. They will also ask about other aspects of your lifestyle. This could include your diet and past medical history. As homeopathy looks at people individually, the more information they can gain about your specific circumstances, the better.
Once they have enough information, your homeopath will be able to choose a remedy that most closely matches your pattern of symptoms. Homeopathic medicines are typically supplied in tablet, liquid or powder form.
As these remedies are natural, there should be no side effects and can be taken alongside conventional medicine. Be sure to tell your homeopath and doctor about the different medications you are taking.
If you do experience any negative effects or are worried about a change in symptoms, speak to a medical professional (and your homeopath).
To monitor progress and adjust medication, homeopaths will ask you to return for follow-up appointments. Usually the first follow-up takes place four weeks after the first prescription, however all cases differ.
This session will likely be shorter than your initial consultation. Your homeopath will ask about any changes you've noticed in symptoms and in yourself generally. They will then decide what the next step in your treatment should involve.
Should I still see my doctor?
You are recommended to stay in contact with your GP. Homeopathy can be used alongside conventional treatment. If your conventional medication changes whilst taking homeopathic remedies, be sure to inform your homeopath and GP.
Also referred to as homeopathic remedies, this treatment in natural and non-toxic, making it safe for all ages. The remedies are prepared by specialist homeopathic pharmacies. The preparation involves a process of dilution and succussion - a vigorous type of shaking.
Remedies are most commonly prescribed in tablet, liquid or powder form. As they are different to conventional medication be sure that you fully understand how to take them.
What are homeopathic medicines made from?
Remedies are made from plant, mineral, animal or chemical sources. Whatever the original source is, it will be diluted and then shaken vigorously. Homeopaths believe that the more times this process is carried out, the more potent the remedy is.
As the remedies are so diluted, some skeptics say they are in fact nothing but water. Research has suggested that shaking during the process changes the properties of the water. This leads to biological activity.
How this affects the human body has however, yet to be proven in clinical trials.
Are homeopathic remedies licensed?
Most homeopathic remedies sold in the UK are made by specialist pharmacies. Although they are prepared to quality standards, the majority of these medicines are unlicensed. They are prepared according to the standards of official homeopathic pharmacopoeia, which provide safety and quality assurance.
The homeopathic pharmacies are regulated by the General Pharmacy Council. There are a small number of licensed homeopathic medicines with specific purposes (for example, for hay fever). These can be purchased in health food shops and clinics.
If you purchase remedies outside of the UK that aren't from an established homeopathic pharmacy, be sure to check the remedy is good quality. One way to do this is to check that the pharmacy you're purchasing from is regulated by the relevant medicines agency in that country.
How can I find a qualified homeopath?
Currently there are no laws in place to stipulate a level of training a person must have in order to call themselves a homeopath. For this reason it is important to ensure they have received the necessary training. There are a number of regulatory bodies that require members to have achieved a certain level of training and adhere to a code of ethics.