Dear Dr. Mo: Is homeopathy any good – is it effective? How exactly does it work and should I try it?
Dear reader: An old and intriguing question indeed. As far as modern medicine and science are concerned, there is no real evidence that homeopathy can be an effective way to treat any condition with reproducible certainty and desired results.
As such, it is not used in medical treatments and licensed physicians do not (or at least should not) prescribe any homeopathic medication.
There’s been a lot of research into homeopathic remedies and to date none has managed to prove that their effectiveness goes anywhere beyond a placebo effect (placebo effect happens when our expectations from a treatment and beliefs in it can cause real changes in our bodies, unrelated to the treatment itself, improving or eliminating symptoms) – although at times, placebo should not be underestimated and discounted.
Science is ever-changing and I am not saying that in some future research evidence won’t finally vindicate homeopathy and that there aren’t some mechanisms still beyond our comprehension that are at work when it comes to homeopathic treatments (like the alleged molecule memory) but I must repeat that modern medicine, based on current best evidence, does not think homeopathy is a real treatment of any medical condition.
What is homeopathy?
Homeopathy is centuries old approach to treatment that says that “like cures like” in a sense that what causes the symptoms can also cure them.
The second important approach is the belief that water molecules have a memory of other types of molecules they come into contact with – from this important belief stems the homeopathy’s technique of dilution and shaking called ‘succussion’
Homeopathic practitioners believe that the more a substance is diluted in this way, the stronger its power to treat symptoms.
Thus, many homeopathic remedies contain substances that have been diluted many, many times in water until there is none or almost none of the original substance left – only water. Here they rely on the alleged water’s ability to “remember” other substances, which leave their imprint on water molecules. Such an imprint turns plain water into an active remedy.
These beliefs have little or no ground in physics, pharmacy, medicine, chemistry or any other science – such water imprinting and its effects have never been proven in a reproducible clinical (or any other) trial.
Homeopaths claim they can treat a wide range of health conditions and many believe their remedies can treat virtually any condition.
Some common conditions addressed by homeopaths are disorders like allergies, arthritis and asthmas, skin conditions (dermatitis), mental health disorders (depression, fobias etc.), cardiovascular problems (high blood pressure), weight problems, eating disorders, mild, self-limiting infections etc.
If you choose to try homeopathy, it should be generally safe to do so. The risk of some serious adverse effects should be very small.
Of course always inform yourself of the contents of the remedy as there could be some to which you may have a known allergy (I am saying this because remedies may come in forms of pills, tinctures, and capsules and their foundation as well as the initial (active) substance may be allergens).
If you are on any treatment prescribed to you by your doctor, discuss your homeopathic remedy with him/her for possible interactions with your medication(s) and do not stop your treatment in favor of a homeopathic one.
Do not forgo any vaccination in favor of a homeopathic remedy!
As it is arrogant to clam anything 100%, especially in science, and in words of Carl Popper who said that a scientific theory can only be disproven (falsified) and never fully proven, I would say that there should be no harm in trying homeopathic remedies.
Do speak to your physician about your condition and do not rely only on homeopathy.
Yours in health,