As a medical doctor with a practice in Lombard, Illinois, I have treated patients with homeopathy for the last 30 years.
Homeopathy as a form of treatment, particularly for chronic illness, is far from new. Developed more than 200 years ago, it is based on the idea that extremely minute concentrations of a substance that causes symptoms of a disease could cure those experiencing similar symptoms.
Since its development, there have been very few reports of toxic effects from homeopathic remedies. In fact, most remedies are gentle enough they have been approved for over-the-counter use. When used correctly, homeopathy can be an effective treatment for a wide range of illnesses and poses few side effects.
Here are some other reasons why you and your family should feel safe using homeopathy.
Homeopathic remedies are extremely diluted
Homeopathy is widely considered safe because of the special preparation process for homeopathic remedies. This involves repeated steps of dilution and succussion of shaking at each dilution. Common potencies that are used are “30C,” which has been diluted 1:100 thirty times and “200C,” which has been diluted 1:100 two hundred times. The latest research shows that these dilutions still contain nanoparticles of the starting materials, thus many researchers now consider homeopathy a form of nanopharmacology.
Despite its dilution, over the years many patients and practitioners consider homeopathy a powerful healing method that is often used in conjunction with conventional medicine.
Homeopathy has few side effects
Unlike conventional pharmaceuticals, which can have harmful and sometimes long lasting side effects, in homeopathy, such effects are rare.
Sometimes when a properly prescribed remedy is given there can be a short lived aggravation of the presenting complaints known as an initial aggravation. However, in a chronic case, this is usually a good sign. After the initial aggravation patients will usually begin to feel better.
Homeopathic remedies can be used safely alongside conventional medicine
At my practice, we treat patients who are on conventional medications every day. Since remedies work in a different way, they do not interfere with pharmacologic effects of conventional medicines.
In fact, homeopathic remedies can help patients become less depedent on conventional medication. As they improve over time, many come off some or all of their medications.
Few cases of harm related to homeopathy are reported
During the 2015 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hearings on the regulatory status of homeopathy, Edward Krenzelok, a consulting clinical toxicologist with the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, presented data from the center on calls that they had received about homeopathic products over an 8-year period ending in 2013. During that interval, there were 8 million single pharmaceutical product exposure reports, and of those 80,456 exposures were to homeopathic products (about 1%).
The poison control center official also reported that most calls about homeopathic remedies did not involve any harm.
The report states that “over 98% of the exposures to the homeopathic agents resulted in either no affect or only a minor affect." A couple deaths were reported in that 8-year period (compare that with 130 deaths per day from opiates in the United States in 2017), but he could not provide any specifics on those deaths as an in-depth analysis of that data had not been done.
FDA supports over-the-counter homeopathic remedies
Homeopathic remedies for minor conditions like headaches, coughs and sore throat, etc., have been deemed safe enough to be taken over-the-counter by the FDA. These types of treatments can be found alongside other over-the-counter drugs at various drug stores and grocery stores.
However, for chronic and severe acute conditions and for any life threatening conditions homeopathy should only be used under the care of a homeopathic practitioner who is working with the patient’s allopathic physician. Although it is only a small percentage of remedies, there are some that can only be sold with a prescription from a licensed homeopathic prescriber.
Safety of using homeopathic remedies
The main risks associated with homeopathy are indirect, relating to the prescriber rather than the medicine. According to a systematic review of the safety of homeopathy, reports of harm with homeopathic remedies are typically due to herbal preparations which have been miscategorized as homeopathic.
There are easy ways to avoid these kinds of issues and confusion. Aside from visiting a qualified homeopathic practitioner, it’s important to read labels and research the type of products you’re purchasing.
Legimate homeopathic remedies are easy to spot. Before purchasing, check to see if the product has “HPUS” (Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the US) on the label. To be sold in the United States, homeopathic remedies must be manufactured by homeopathic pharmaceutical companies that follow good manufacturing practices (GMPs). The remedy should also have a monograph in the HPUS which insures that the remedy is only sold in safe potencies and it’s clinical utility has been tested.
If you’re looking for a more natural and less invasive health care treatment for you and your family, homeopathic medicine is a safe and effective choice. As an added benefit, remedies are generally inexpensive. About a month’s worth of medication generally only costs about $6-10. For more information, contact a local homeopathic practitioner. A list of licensed practitioners can be found at the American Institute of Homeopathy website.
Interested in practicing homeopathy? National University provides its students with many opportunities to learn about this effective form of treatment. In addition to class offerings and a student club, NUHS naturopathic students can participate in a homeopathy rotation through my practice, the Center for Integral Health, located near campus. The rotation focuses on constitutional homeopathic case-taking and prescribing.
About the Author
Timothy Fior, MD, DHt,