What is a homeopathy?

The concept of homeopathy can be difficult to understand but according to one popular definition: “Homeopathy is a medical system based on the belief that the body can cure itself. Those who practice it use tiny amounts of natural substances, like plants and minerals. They believe these stimulate the healing process [1].” Homeopathic doctors or “homeopaths” take an active ingredient(s) and weaken it by adding water or alcohol in a step by step dilution process. This is called ‘potentization’ and homeopaths believe that it transfers a healing essence that will cause symptoms to stimulate the body’s self-healing response.

Why do some people prefer homeopathic drugs over over-the-counter drugs?

Some individuals choose homeopathic drugs over conventional medicines because of the side effects that are associated with over-the-counter (OTC) medications.  Additionally, the long list of ingredients in OTC drugs, which are not all natural is another reason that some might choose to use homeopathy products as an alternative.

It is important to know that all homeopathic drugs are different and products labeled as ‘homeopathic’ can contain a wide range of substances, including ingredients derived from plants, healthy or diseased animal or human sources, minerals, and chemicals.  As a rule of thumb, it is best to check with the manufacturer about the exact ingredients contained in any homeopathic drug that you might be interested in using.

Do homeopathic drugs actually work?

The evidence on this is conflicting. Most doctors and healthcare providers prefer to use evidence-based medicines. These are medications that are recommended for use only after scientific evidence and data backs up their effectiveness. For example, Ibuprofen has long been used to help reduce swelling and inflammation because there are thousands of studies that have proven its effectiveness. Although research has been carried out to look at the effectiveness of homeopathic drugs, the results are not as conclusive so homeopathy does not fall under the category of evidence-based medicine.

However, there are still many champions of homeopathy and many people have had a personal, positive experience of using homeopathic drugs. But as with any substance we put into our bodies, it is best to make sure that you fully understand all the risks and benefits.

Who regulates Homeopathic medicines, are they safe? Are they approved by the FDA?

The FDA oversees homeopathic remedies, as it does all medical, pharmaceutical and healthcare-related products but it does not check to see if they’re safe or effective [1]. Since no homeopathic drug products have been approved by the FDA for any use, they may not meet modern standards for safety, effectiveness, and quality [2].

As stated by the FDA: Products labeled as ‘homeopathic’ and currently marketed in the U.S. have not been reviewed by the FDA for their safety, effectiveness or ability to diagnose, treat, cure, prevent or mitigate any disease or condition [2].

If you’re thinking about trying homeopathic treatments, talk to your doctor first. He or she can make sure they’re safe to take and check to see if they will interact with any other medications you may be using.

Are homeopathic drugs safe during pregnancy?

Many homeopathic ingredients have not been studied in pregnant or breastfeeding women, so it’s not clear which (if any) homeopathic drugs may be harmful. Due to this lack of research, many women choose to avoid homeopathic remedies while they’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

Homeopathic drugs and menopause

The symptoms of menopause are hard to treat without resorting to the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or other conventional medicines. This is an area where homeopathy has become a popular treatment alternative. Graphites, Lachesis mutus and Sepia are primary homeopathic treatment options that many women have turned to. But as mentioned earlier, prior to starting any new product be sure to discuss the ingredients, benefits, and risks with your healthcare provider.

If you are interested in homeopathy medicines, speak to your doctor first to make sure that it won’t interfere with any other medical conditions or medications that you’re taking. Additionally, do not use homeopathy as a replacement for proven conventional care or as a reason to postpone seeing a health care provider about a serious medical problem.

References

1) WebMD. What Is Homeopathy? WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by David Kiefer, MD. November 01, 2016

https://www.webmd.com/balance/what-is-homeopathy#1

2) FDA. Homeopathic products. Page Last Updated 03/20/2018.

https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/InformationbyDrugClass/ucm589282.htm