This complementary therapy believes that miniscule amounts of natural substances can teach the body to fight illness and disease. We ask if less is really more when it comes to good health.
What is it?
Central to homeopathy is the belief that an ailment can be cured by a tiny quantity of a substance that produces similar symptoms. For example, someone who suffers from insomnia might well be advised to steer clear of coffee, as the caffeine content is a known stimulant. In treating like with like, a homeopath would advise an insomniac to take a caffeine-based remedy in a bid to help them get some shut eye.
How does it work?
A homeopathist believes this method of treating like with like (using raw extracts from only plant or mineral-based substances) effectively vaccinates the body. All it takes is a minute amount, they claim, in order for the body to learn how to protect itself. Another reason for using tiny quantities, often diluted in water or alcohol, is that some natural substances (i.e. arsenic) are poisonous and could cause harm in larger amounts
What are the benefits?
Where's the proof?
Critics of homeopathy argue that the substances used in treatment are so diluted that they're ineffective. Others argue that the placebo effect may well be a factor, in which the patient is given a harmless medication but believes it has had an effect. Scientific studies demand hard evidence, and here the search continues. Either way, many people claim it works for them, and so long as it's carried out by a trained homeopath it's considered to be safe.
NHS homeopathy is now available, in a limited capacity, and much also depends on your doctor's view of complementary therapies. You can check out the website for The Society of Homeopaths to locate a local practitioner. Expect a consultation with a homeopathic practitioner to last around an hour, in which you will be asked detailed questions about your mental and physical wellbeing, before an appropriate remedy is selected. Expect to pay from £40 up for a private consultation
If you're considering a complementary treatment or therapy for any medical condition, always consult your doctor (GP) first. This is to make sure it doesn't conflict with any existing course of treatment you may be taking, and also to check it won't have a negative impact on your health.
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