Homeopathy

Homeopathy

Homeopathy

Common Names

  • Homeopathic medicine
  • Homeopathic remedy

For Patients & Caregivers

There is some evidence that homeopathy may benefit individuals with chronic conditions.

Homeopathy, developed more than 200 years ago, is based on the Law of Similars, or “like cures like.” A patient experiencing a certain symptom is given a medicine containing low doses of plant extracts, animal extracts, or minerals that, when taken in normal amounts, usually cause that symptom. Homeopathy continues to be popular in India and many European countries.

Clinical studies have been conducted to evaluate benefits of homeopathy, but data are limited and results, inconclusive. More research is needed.

  • To treat allergies
    Clinical trials have produced conflicting data.
  • To treat anxiety
    There are no studies to support this use.
  • To treat rheumatoid arthritis
    Studies have produced conflicting results.
  • To treat asthma
    Scientific evidence and clinical trials do not support this use.
  • To treat the common cold
    Data from cllinical trials have been inconclusive.
  • To treat hemorrhoids
    This claim is not backed by research.
  • To treat warts
    No scientific evidence supports this use.
  • To treat radiotherapy side effects
    One study showed that homeopathic medicine can reduce the sensation of heat of the skin caused by radiotherapy.
  • Acute hepatitis (severe swelling and inflammation of liver) was observed in a patient who took Lycopodium Similiaplex, a homeopathic remedy used to treat hepatopathy, to relieve insomnia.
  • Allergic reactions and intoxications were reported after using some homeopathic products.
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For Healthcare Professionals

Homeopathy is a medical system developed 200 years ago by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician. Promoted as a safer and more holistic approach to treating disease, it has remained especially popular in India and some European countries. Homeopathic remedies are highly diluted forms of botanical, animal, or mineral substances which when given in full strength to a healthy volunteer, cause the presenting symptoms of the patient. Many opponents argue that the benefits experienced by patients are merely placebo effects (1) although no larger than those observed in conventional medicine (2). Observational studies suggest that certain homeopathic products can provide long-term relief from symptoms such as headache and allergic rhinitis in adults, and atopic dermatitis and recurrent infections in children (3).

Some homeopathic ingredients in undiluted form demonstrated anticancer effects (4) (5) (6) in vitro. Clinical studies indicate that homeopathic medicine may be beneficial in treating dermatitis during radiotherapy (7) and for relief of post treatment pain in breast cancer patients (8). However, a homeopathic product was ineffective in controlling chemo-induced emesis (9). There are reports that complementing conventional treatment with homeopathy may improve fatigue and quality of life in cancer patients (10) and even as a treatment for advanced cancer (11), but these observations have not been evaluated in clinical trials.

Allergic reactions and intoxications were reported following use of some homeopathic products (12).
Cancer patients should be aware that homeopathy is not a substitute for mainstream care.

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Common cold
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Eye disorders
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Radiation therapy side effects
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Warts

The practice of homeopathy is governed by the Law of Similars, similia similibus curantur or “like cures like.” Hahnemann and his followers observed that while certain plants, animals or minerals could cause specific symptoms when ingested by healthy individuals, the highly diluted form of the same substance could relieve similar symptoms in ailing patients.

An in vitro study showed that an antidiabetic product commonly used in homeopathy demonstrated anticancer effects by inducing nuclear DNA fragmentation and increasing the level of mRNA expression of apoptotic signal related genes cytochrome c and caspase 3, and by reducing the expression level of anti-apoptotic gene Bcl2 (5).

Another product, Phytolacca decandra, also exerted anticancer properties in melanoma cells via activation of caspase-mediated signaling and by generating reactive oxygen species (ROS) (6). However, it is not known if these products will have the same effects when diluted according to homeopathic principles.

  • Acute hepatitis was observed in a patient who took Lycopodium Similiaplex, a homeopathic remedy used to treat hepatopathy, to relieve insomnia (13).
  • Allergic reactions and intoxications were reported following use of some homeopathic products (12).

  1. Frenkel M, Mishra BM, Sen S, et al. Cytotoxic effects of ultra-diluted remedies on breast cancer cells. Int J Oncol. 2010 Feb;36(2):395-403.

  2. Orellana Alvarellos G, Ruiz de Viñaspre Alvear P, Kaszkin-Bettag M. A series of case reports: clinical evaluation of a complex homeopathic injection therapy in the management of pain in patients after breast cancer treatment. Altern Ther Health Med. 2010 Jan-Feb;16(1):54-9.

  3. Posadzki P, Alotaibi A, Ernst E. Adverse effects of homeopathy: a systematic review of published case reports and case series. Int J Clin Pract. 2012 Dec;66(12):1178-88.

  4. Braschoss A. Lycopodium similiaplex-induced acute hepatitis: a case report. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2009 Jun;21(6):718-9.

  5. Fisher P, Scott DL. A randomized controlled trial of homeopathy in rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology (Oxford) 2001;40:1052-5.

  6. Ernst E. A systematic review of systematic reviews of homeopathy. Br J Clin Pharmacol 2002;54:577-82.

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