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Homeopathy - Questions and Answers
The long-term benefit of homeopathy to the patient is that it not only alleviates the presenting symptoms but it reestablishes internal order at the deepest levels and thereby provides a lasting cure.
1. What Is Homoeopathy?
2. How Does It Work?
3. What Conditions Can Homoeopathy Treat?
4. Who Uses It?
5. Why Are People Seeking Alternative Treatments Such As Homoeopathy?
6. What Risks Are Involved With The Use of Homoeopathy?
7. How Widespread Is Its Use?
8. Can The Homoeopathic Effect Be Attributed To Placebo?
9. How Long Has Homoeopathy Been Used In Australia?
10. What Successes Has Homoeopathy Had?
11. Homoeopathy And Orthodox Medicine
12. Is Homoeopathy Covered By Health Funds?
1. What IS HOMOEOPATHY?
Homoeopathy is a therapy based on the theory of treating like with like. Homeopaths treat a patient’s symptoms by giving a highly diluted form of a substance, animal, vegetable, or mineral, which, taken in a crude dose, would cause similar symptoms when given to a healthy person. In assessing the patient, homeopaths often take into account a range of physical, emotional and lifestyle factors.
Homeopathy was developed over 200 years ago and is now used worldwide. It is acknowledged by the World Health Organisation as a valid form of health care. Its effectiveness has been clearly established by over 200 years of clinical experience and has a pharmacy of over 2000 medicines, which are non-toxic and non-addictive, owing to their method of preparation.
Homeopathy is also cost-effective.
2. HOW DOES IT WORK?
Homeopathy works by using minute doses of substances, which cause symptoms similar to the illness being treated. Examples of the application of this principle are:
· The use of homoeopathically prepared red onion (Allium Cepa), which, in a crude dose, would cause watery eyes and sneeze, may be used for hay fever and some allergies.
· The use of homoeopathically prepared coffee (Coffea) as a treatment for insomnia.
The use of Ritalin, a stimulant drug for children suffering from hyperactivity, is an example of the unacknowledged application of the homeopathic principle by contemporary orthodox medicine.
Efforts to explain scientifically how homeopathy works have not been successful to date, but similarly, some drug actions in orthodox medicine have not always been understood either. For example, the actions of salicylic acid (aspirin) and paracetamol (Panadol) have been used in orthodox medicine for over 70 years, but have only been fully understood since the 1980’s.
If a homeopathic medicine is analyzed, a pharmacologist would say it consists of water, ethanol and sugar. While such a description is true, it ignores the result that follows from taking the medicine. A chemist, for example, would accurately describe a compact disk as an object made of plastic and various chemical coatings, but would not detect the presence of music as part of their testing process. Both descriptions are accurate but incomplete.
3. WHAT CONDITIONS CAN Homoeopathy TREAT?
The system of homeopathy is based on the selection of a medicine that causes symptoms similar to those that the sick person is experiencing. This ‘Law of Similars’, as it is called, is a practical method of finding the substance to which a person is sensitive. Wherever a set of symptoms can be obtained, a condition can be treated. For example, headaches in different patients would each be treated with different medicines, according to the patient’s individual symptoms. Therefore, homeopathy can treat a wide range of chronic and acute illnesses.
4. WHO USES IT?
The majority of patients seeking homeopathic treatment have already utilized the conventional medical system for their complaint. Therefore, it is not uncommon for patients to come to a first consultation with a confirmed medical diagnosis along with results of medical investigations.
Those who use homeopathy come from a wide range of socio-economic groups, many of whom are children and adults from educated, affluent families.
Naturopaths, chiropractors and GP’s may also prescribe homeopathic remedies as part of their treatment, depending upon their training.
5. WHY ARE PEOPLE SEEKING ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS SUCH AS HOMOEOPATHY?
A personal referral from those who have experienced the healing potential of homeopathy is the major source of new clientele for homeopaths. Dissatisfaction with orthodox medical treatment is frequently given by patients as a reason for their visiting a homeopath. The following findings provide evidence for this trend.
Every year in Australia 14,000 people die from medical errors in hospitals. (1995 figures) (The Australian, March 15, 1999,17).
25% of Australian hospital admissions are for iatrogenic (medically induced) or drug-related diseases. (Current Therapeutics, July 2000, 76-79).
A large number of diseases are misdiagnosed by doctors. (Independent Monthly, Oct 1994, 36-43)
There are 140,000 hospital admissions in Australia every year because of misused pharmaceutical drugs (Australian Journal of Pharmacy, 83, September 2002, 774).
The total number of adverse reactions to drugs in Australia from the 1999-2000 year (those resulting in hospital admission and those that did not) was 400,000 (Aust Journal of Pharmacy, 83, September 2002, 774).
The reports of adverse reactions from natural medicine to the Australian Adverse Drug Reactions
Advisory Committee (ADRAC) average 23 per year (Aust Journal of Pharmacy, 83, June 2002, 516-517)
6. WHAT RISKS ARE INVOLVED WITH THE USE OF HOMOEOPATHY?
Homeopathy carries few risks in its practice when compared to other therapies. The method of preparation of homeopathic remedies makes them non-toxic and non-addictive.
7. HOW WIDESPREAD IS ITS USE?
Homeopathy is used throughout the developed world. According to the WHO, 30 million Europeans use homeopathy. A University of Exeter report found that 2696 people were members of homeopathic practitioner organizations. The Royal family has used it since 1830 and it has a wide acceptance throughout Europe. In France, the most popular cold and flu remedy is a homeopathic medicine. Homeopathy is also used extensively in the developing world, due to its easy access, cost-effectiveness and low-risk profile. Over 10.000 doctors in India use homeopathic medicine to treat their patients. Homeopathy is also used in veterinary medicine, both in Australia and overseas.
8. CAN THE HOMEOPATHIC EFFECT BE ATTRIBUTED TO PLACEBO?
This is the topic of many discussions about homeopathy. Homeopathy is effective on animals and children, which discounts the placebo theory. Research data is available in The Lancet Linde, K. et al. (1997). “Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effect? A meta-analysis of placebo-controlled trials.” Lancet vol. 350 pp. 834-843. The trend of the studies is that homeopathy is effective above placebo and requires further study.
9. HOW LONG HAS HOMOEOPATHY BEEN USED IN CANADA?
In 1996 we celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of homeopathy. In 1796 after six years of experimentation, Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, published his findings in a German medical journal. Since then, homeopathy has expanded throughout the entire world, having had its splendour at the beginning of the 20th century in Philadelphia and the East coast of the United States.
By 1892, the USA had over four hundred state and county associations (Bradford, 1892), and by 1912, there were one hundred and ninety-five homeopathic hospitals, nine of which had over one thousand beds (Cleave, 1912). With immigrants coming to Canada and Canadians travelling to the USA, the enormous homeopathic influence in the USA soon reached Canada. An immigrant most likely from the Netherlands, Dr. J. 0. Rosenstein is recorded as practicing homeopathy in 1845, in Montreal, Quebec (Epps,1845).
10. What SUCCESSES HAS Homoeopathy HAD?
Homeopathy has gained increasing acceptance in Britain, Europe and the United States since the 19th century owing to its success in treating people during various infectious disease epidemics. The death rates from cholera, scarlet fever, typhoid, and yellow fever, following homeopathic treatment, were significantly lower than from the orthodox medical treatment of the era.
For example, of 61 patients treated homoeopathically at the London Homoeopathic Hospital during the cholera epidemic of 1854, there were 15 deaths – whereas, at the Middlesex hospital, where conventional treatments were given, there were 123 deaths from 231 cases.
The comparative death rates were 16.4% for homeopathic treatment and 53.2% for conventional treatment. (British Homoeopathic Journal, October 1989, Vol.78)
The yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans and the Mississippi Valley in 1878 is another example of homeopathic success. In New Orleans, 1945 cases were treated homoeopathically with 110 deaths (mortality of 5.6%). In the rest of the South, 1969 cases were treated homoeopathically with 151 deaths (mortality of 7.7%). This is a favourable comparison with a mortality rate for conventional treatment of at least 16%. (Harris Coulter, [1982, 2nd edition] Divided Legacy: The Conflict between Homoeopathy and the American Medical Association, pp.298-302)
The effectiveness of homeopathic treatment for the 1918 ‘flu epidemic in the USA is particularly striking.
Julian Winston’s  The Faces of Homoeopathy: An illustrated history of the first 200 years (pp.236-237) quotes from the findings in W.A. Dewey’s article “A Chorus of Fifty in Harmony” in the Journal of the American Institute of Homoeopathy in 1921:
1. A Philadelphian Homoeopath, Dean Pearson collected 26,795 cases treated homoeopathically with a mortality rate of 1.05% compared with a rate of 30% for conventional treatment.
2. Frank Wieland M.D. of Chicago told how in a plant of 8000 workers there was only one death. Gelsemium was practically the only remedy prescribed and neither aspirin nor vaccines were used.
Contemporary examples of Homoeopathy’s effectiveness are outlined in the next two sections.
11. Homeopathy AND ORTHODOX MEDICINE
Homeopathy has been practised for two hundred years. Throughout its history, it has experienced an uneasy relationship with orthodox medicine. This has not been homeopathy’s choice. Its successes have been belittled or ignored.
Those critics who maintain that homeopathy is ‘useless’, ‘quackery’, ‘purely placebo’ need to ask themselves why it is used more widely than ever. Its claims and record of safe use deserve objective assessment rather than prejudiced opposition.
12. IS HOMOEOPATHY COVERED BY HEALTH FUNDS?
Many of major insurance companies provide cover for homeopathic treatment.
This information has been taken from the website of the Australian Homeopathic Association.
Australian Homoeopathic Association – National Office