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nderstanding Homeopathy

The Limitations and Risks of Homeopathic Medicine

© Dana Ullman, MPH

The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Understanding Homeopathy by Dana Ullman, MPH. View all columns in series

Probably the greatest frustration for a homeopath (and to the patient as well) are those people who, for some uncertain reason, are not responding effectively to homeopathic medicines. Homeopaths often initially assume that the cause of the lack of reaction is that they have not correctly analyzed the case and thus are not giving the correct medicine. Experienced homeopaths know that certain medicines sometimes are valuable when the indicated medicine does not cure. Since it is generally recommended to try these medicines one at a time and allow a month or more between medicines,* finding an effective remedy may take several months. When people with chronic indigestion, headaches, arthritis, or other persistent symptoms are not receiving adequate treatment with conventional drugs, delay isn't a major problem, since they have already been waiting for curative care for years or even decades. But a patient in pain and discomfort might understandably seek an alternative to homeopathic care before a "similimum" (most similar medicine) can be found.

[*Different schools of thought in homeopathy recommend varying lengths of time between different medicines and doses. Some homeopaths prescribe daily doses of a medicine and may change the dose or the medicine at any time, while others prescribe a single dose or a couple of doses and then wait one or more months before changing the dose or the medicine. Generally, those homeopaths who give repeated doses of medicine in a week or a month prescribe low potency medicines, that is, the 3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th, or 18th potency.] When careful analysis of a patient's health history, present lifestyle, and potential environmental exposures does not indicate any obvious reason for nonresponse to a microdose, homeopaths may either consult with another homeopath or refer the patient to some other type of health practitioner.

People often ask: Are there conditions which homeopathy treats most effectively, and which conditions does it not tend to have great success? These are difficult questions that can best be answered by the cliche that homeopathy does not treat diseases, only people.* Case histories in homeopathic books and journals describe successful treatment of just about every acute and chronic disease. Many homeopaths assume that there are no incurable diseases, only incurable people.

[*To those familiar with basic homeopathic principles, it is sometimes confusing to go to a health food store or pharmacy and see homeopathic medicines sold for specific conditions. Most homeopathic manufacturers make mixtures of homeopathic medicines, called "combination remedies" or "complexes," where generally 3-8 substances which are commonly given for a certain type of condition are placed together in a single medicine. It is assumed that this new combination of medicines will be helpful to a broad number of patients suffering from a specific complaint. Although many consumers find these medicines to be helpful, there is general consensus in the homeopathic community that the individually chosen medicine works more often and more effectively.]

These parameters are quite simplistic since a large number of chronic diseases become incurable once they have progressed to a certain stage. Homeopathic medicines may then alleviate pain and discomfort and may slow down the pathological process, but it is questionable if cure is possible under any kind of treatment.

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About The Author
DANA ULLMAN, MPH, is one of America's leading advocates for homeopathy. He has authored 10 books, including The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy, ...more
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