Complementary medicine: homeopathy

Thursday 19th September

What is homeopathy?

Homeopathy is based on the principle that “like cures like”. In other words, a substance taken in small amounts is believed to cure the same symptoms it causes if taken in large amounts. In homeopathy the active ingredient is highly diluted and vigorously shaken at each dilution. According to the principles of homeopathy: the greater the dilution, the more potent the medicine.

The practice of homeopathy

Homeopathy has been practised in the UK by doctors for over a hundred years and has been available on the NHS since the health service was founded in 1948. Homeopathy is practised by doctors and other regulated health professionals registered with the Faculty of Homeopathy. As there are large numbers of non-regulated practitioners, The British Homeopathic Association recommends you find out what qualifications your homeopath holds, and who they are accountable to for their practice, before treatment. Doctors and other statutorily-regulated professionals are accountable to statutory bodies such as the General Medical Council.

“As a doctor who practices homeopathy in the NHS and privately, I know homeopathy can play an important role in healthcare,” says Dr Sara Eames, President of the Faculty of Homeopathy. “I became interested in homeopathy when I was a GP and found I couldn’t help many patients with conventional approaches. Today, the patients I see often have chronic health problems that haven’t been resolved through conventional means and I am able to help them back to health with homeopathy. Homeopathy can be useful for many conditions such as eczema, PMT, arthritis, depression and a myriad of other problems. It has transformed many of my patients’ lives and has made me a better doctor.”

What to expect when you see a homeopathic doctor

Homeopathic doctors work in a similar way to conventional doctors. History-taking, examination and investigation are all important in establishing the diagnosis. However, as well as asking about your symptoms, a homeopathic doctor will be interested in you as an individual and the unique way in which your symptoms affect you.

Expect questions about your lifestyle, eating habits and preferences, temperament, personality, sleep patterns and medical history. This will help the doctor form a complete picture of you, which can then be matched to the symptoms of your illness, in order to prescribe a particular type and strength of homeopathic medicine. As a guide, your first appointment could take anything up to an hour, with follow-up appointments typically lasting 30 minutes.

What ailments can homeopathy help?

Homeopathic doctors often see patients with long-term, chronic problems, many of which have failed to respond to conventional medicine: such as eczema, chronic fatigue syndrome, asthma, migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis and depression. However, homeopathy is designed to treat the whole person and can therefore be considered in almost any situation where a person's health is depleted. It can also believed to be useful in the treatment of minor ailments: from cuts and bruises to coughs and colds. A medical doctor trained in homeopathy will know when it is most effective to use homeopathic medicine, conventional medicine or a combination of the two.

For more information on homeopathy, visit the British Homeopathic Association website.

Ends

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