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Homeopathy (also spelt homoeopathy) is used as an alternative to, or as an addition to, conventional medicine. This article briefly describes homeopathy, including the lack of current evidence for its effectiveness and safety.

What is homeopathy?

Homeopathy is based on the idea that if a substance causes symptoms in a healthy person, minute doses of the substance can treat the symptoms in someone who is unwell. This idea does not fit with modern science.

Homeopathic medicines are prepared by taking a substance (generally a plant, animal material or a chemical) and diluting that substance in water or alcohol repeatedly, often so that none of the original substance remains in the solution. These highly diluted preparations can be found in several forms, including tablets, liquids and creams.

Is homeopathy effective?

There is currently no evidence to support the effectiveness of homeopathy in the prevention or treatment of any disease.

Is homeopathy an alternative to childhood immunisation?

Conventional vaccines undergo rigorous testing to prove both safety and effectiveness, whereas homeopathic preparations do not. There is no evidence that homeopathic preparations provide protection against childhood infectious diseases.

The Australian Register of Homoeopaths recommends that homeopathic preparations should not be a substitute for conventional immunisation.

Is homeopathic treatment safe?

In general, it is hard to know whether or not homeopathic preparations are safe. They don’t go through the rigorous testing for safety and effectiveness that other medications are required to undergo through the Australian Government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

They might be safe if used as well as conventional medicine. They are not safe if used instead of conventional medicines.

Is homeopathy an alternative to medical treatment?

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), which is Australia’s main medical advisory body, has concluded that homeopathy should not be used to treat health conditions that are chronic or serious, or could become serious.

The NHMRC recommends that those considering homeopathy should inform their doctor and continue taking any prescribed medication or treatment. If you stop taking medication or treatment prescribed by a doctor to use homeopathy instead, you are risking serious harm.

Questions to ask your doctor about homeopathy

Your doctor is in the best position to determine if homeopathy is appropriate for you. Here are some questions you might ask your doctor:

  • Can I use homeopathy to complement my medical treatment?
  • Is it safe for me to use homeopathy?
  • Is there any evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathy for my condition?

Last reviewed: December 2016

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Homeopathy (or homoeopathy) is a 200-year-old form of alternative medicine that claims to stimulate a healing response and strengthen the body’s ability to heal itself. Those who practice it claim that it is a holistic system of medicine based on the theory of treating ‘like with like’. It claims to stimulate the body’s own healing response to disease, using specially prepared, highly diluted preparations.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Homeopathy - BluePages

Find out if homeopathy is likely to help.

Read more on e-hub Web Services - Australian National University (ANU) website

Homeopathy for chronic asthma | Cochrane

Homeopathy is a complementary healing system based on "curing like with like". It involves greatly diluting substances (potentising) which ordinarily may or may not cause symptoms, in order to strengthen the body's own healing response to a problem. Homeopathic remedies (potencies) aim to minimise the risk of adverse effects. There are different types that may be used for asthma, such as classical homeopathy (tailored to an individual's symptoms) or isopathy (for example using a dilution of an agent that causes an allergy, such as pollen). The review of trials found that the type of homeopathy varied between the studies, that the study designs used in the trials were varied and that no strong evidence existed that usual forms of homeopathy for asthma are effective. There has been only a limited attempt to measure a 'package of care' effect (i.e., the effect of the medication as well as the consultation, which is considered a vital part of individualised homeopathic practice). Until stronger evidence exists for the use of homeopathy in the treatment of asthma, we are unable to make recommendations about homeopathic treatment.

Read more on Cochrane (Australasian Centre) website

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