By: Ashima Seth
The catastrophically increasing problem of bacterial antibiotic resistance today is leading many to explore the arena of alternative medicine - most prominently, homeopathy. Homeopathy, according to the World Health Organization, is the second-largest therapeutic system in the world, and is widely popular in European and South-East Asian countries . But does homeopathy actually work?
Many would say no, stating that homeopathic medicines have no more effect than placebos, supporting their statement by saying that a homeopath uses pills or liquid mixtures containing minimal amounts of an active ingredient, usually a plant or mineral, for treatment of disease. This dilution, according to many critics of homeopathy, reduces the effect of homeopathic medicine to the point of nullification. On the contrary, however, 85% of conclusive Randomized Controlled Trials (RTCs) have in fact demonstrated that homeopathy is more successful than placebos.
The dilution, or “potentiation”, of homeopathic medicine is a result of the two core principles of homeopathy: ‘like cures like’ and the usage of ‘the minimum dose’ . Founded upon the belief that the human body is capable of healing itself and that its vital response generates symptoms that are advantageous in healing the body, the medicine administered is the minimum required to simply initiate the self-healing process, rather than providing external, artificial immunity. The degree of dilution is often decided upon by examining the particulars of the patient’s diet, environment and health, which means that the potency of the medicine is tailored to the specific circumstances that it is to be used in.
There is some evidence to show that homeopathic medicines may be helpful in cases of long-term illnesses such as allergies and rheumatoid arthritis, and minor injuries such as cuts and muscle strain; However, homeopathy is not considered appropriate treatment for major health problems such as cancer and heart disease, as well as medical emergencies . This is because homeopathic medicines typically take longer to work than conventional medication. In cases of severe medical issues, it is advisable to not abandon one’s conventional treatment in favor of homeopathy. Even when taking homeopathic medicine in mild cases, it is recommended that one inform his or her doctor that they plan to do so.
Seeing the effectiveness of homeopathy in long-term and non-severe medical issues, it can therefore be said that it is an arena of alternative medicine to explore. Given the rising antibiotic resistance question, boosting the body’s natural immunity may be the answer.
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3. “NCCIH.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 04 Apr. 2016. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.