Does homeopathy work?
That’s a loaded question if I ever saw one, but its one that more and more people are asking every single day – especially in the Western world. In recent years, big names like Oscillococcinum by Boiron and infant teething tablets by Hyland’s have found their way into the mainstream, which has sparked a national dialogue on the subject. And that’s been both a good and bad thing.
On one hand, its growing popularity is improving homeopathy’s accessibility for Americans and their families. I mean, many grocery stores now carry at least a few homeopathic alternatives somewhere in the medicine aisles. But, as with any alternative therapies that threaten to make a real name for themselves, homeopathy has found itself under the FDA’s microscope. Since 2018, the department has made harsh statements, claiming the medicine has “little to no benefit” and the “potential to cause significant and even permanent harm.” [1,2]
Obviously, as intended, these claims leave people feeling unsure about homeopathy. Not only do they worry it may not work at all, but now the idea of potential damage has been introduced. And naturally, people have questions. I am one of those people. So I’ve decided to sit down and really dig deep into homeopathy. To find the research, the evidence, and the science. And to share that with you. So, without further delay – does homeopathy actually work?
What is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a type of holistic, alternative medicine that embraces the whole person when treating specific symptoms and ailments. It appreciates and utilizes the fact that all parts of the body are intimately connected and, through highly diluted forms of certain plants and other substances, homeopathy aims to supply the body with what it needs to heal itself. Homeopathy as a whole is based on the principle belief that ‘like cures like’, meaning that a substance that produces certain symptoms should be able to cure those same symptoms when taken in a highly diluted form.
This core belief is what drives using remedies like:
Allium cepa, derived from the red onion, for allergic symptoms, burning eyes, and running nose
Coffea cruda, derived from the coffee bean, for sleep disturbances, insomnia, and colic
The diluted substances are typically administered in tablet form, as this is easies for home-dosing, but homeopaths will sometimes prescribe liquid mixtures. Critics of homeopathy often claim that there is not enough of the active ingredient to actually be useful, but this type of medicine is much more than a gigantic, collective placebo effect that has persisted for hundreds of years. Homeopathy has successfully treated ailments ranging from minor cuts and scrapes or run-of-the-mill viruses to eczema, irritable bowel syndrome, and even rheumatoid arthritis.
Does Homeopathy Work?
Because homeopathic remedies are so diluted, scientists and doctors still don’t fully understand how they work in the body. The lack of explanation though hasn’t stopped homeopathy from performing in the lab and clinical trials, and hundreds of studies throughout the years have supported the use of these medicines. There is still lots of work to be done, and homeopathy deserves way more attention than it’s received, but the evidence is there.
I’ve rounded up the top 10 ailments for which homeopathy has been proven to work. Enjoy!
10. Homeopathy for the Flu
The best homeopathic approach to influenza is going to be the remedy Oscillococcinum, which is derived from the hearts and livers of wild ducks. Oscillococcinum is extremely effective in preventing transmission and reducing symptoms of the flu, like chills, fever, aches, muscle pain, and cough. More than that, Oscillococcinum works effectively without producing side effects or adverse reactions.
You can purchase Oscillococcinum here.
9. Homeopathy for Pain and Bruising
Part of being human is getting hurt, and homeopathic Arnica is there for those bumps, bruises, scrapes, and strains. Derived from the Arnica plant in the sunflower family, homeopathic Arnica naturally reduces pain, inflammation, bruising, and numbness caused by some type of traumatic physical injury or event. Clinical trials and evidence even praise Arnica as being a “valid alternative” to NSAIDs, like Ibuprofen and Aspirin. Arnica is especially beneficial in treating pain after surgery, because of its ability to dramatically reduce inflammation.
You can purchase homeopathic Arnica here.
8. Homeopathy for Colds and Allergies
Itchy eyes, runny nose, frequent sneezing – we all know the symptoms of colds and allergies. As it is with homeopathy, these same symptoms could be caused by the cure: an onion. Allium cepa is a homeopathic remedy derived from the red onion and is extremely helpful in reducing symptoms of allergies and minor illness. Taking Allium cepa helps liquefy and rid the body of excess mucus while preventing the formation of more, and has historically been used in the treatment of cold, cough, bronchitis, hay fever, and influenza. Research has proven it most effective in treating watery and reddened eyes, acute discharge, violent sneezing, tingling feelings in the nose, and frontal congestion headaches.
You can purchase Allium cepa here.
7. Homeopathy for Insect Stings
Another perfect “like cures like” example is homeopathic Apis mellifica’s ability to treat insect bites and stings. Derived from the honeybee, Apis mellifica is the perfect remedy for curing the feeling of burning, stinging, prickling, pain, and itching. The remedy has been used traditionally for inflammation with swelling and to relieve the itching feeling that often accompanies insect stings.
You can purchase Apis mellifica here.
6. Homeopathy for Oral Health
Dental infections are nothing to play around with, as they can quickly lead to something extremely serious and life-threatening. The homeopathic remedy Hepar sulph is beneficial to have on hand, especially for those who struggle more in the teeth department. Strong like the teeth, Hepar sulph is derived from the inner layer of oyster shells. It can be used to help treat and prevent oral infections, and at the dilution of 6C it is most beneficial in relieving cases of dry socket[12, 13].
You can purchase Hepar sulph here.
5. Homeopathy for Breast Health
It’s important for women to always be conscious and aware of their breast health, and to take notice of any “off” or strange symptoms associated with their breasts. While breast cancer is the most concerning disease associated with the breasts, other issues and infections, like mastitis, hyperplasia, and cysts are conditions known to affect the breasts. The homeopathic remedy Phytolacca decandra is an amazing one to keep on hand for breast health support. In fibrocystic breast disease, for instance, treatment with Phytolacca significantly reduces pain and swelling, and even prevents the return of future cysts. It has also proven itself to be effective in reducing the pain and inflammation associated with mastitis.
You can purchase Phytolacca decandra here.
4. Homeopathy for Bladder Infections
Ugh, UTIs – am I right? Not much you have to say about those; they’re awful. The biggest issue comes with the fact that most UTIs are treated, unnecessarily might I add, with antibiotics and this poses a big problem. Thankfully, homeopathy has proven itself once again when it comes to treating these pesky, and often complex, infections. The medicine Staphysagria, derived from the lice-bane plant, is extremely effective in treating bladder infections, and could potentially treat up to 90% of them on its own. Staphysagria is also helpful in relieving the ever-present, and constant need to pee feeling.
You can purchase Staphysagria here.
3. Homeopathy for UTI
So good I had to list it twice. It’s not a typo, there’s actually another really great homeopathic remedy worth mentioning when it comes to treating UTI. The remedy Cantharis, derived from an insect in the blister-beetle family, is wildly beneficial in treating UTI, especially in children. Pediatric UTIs are notably difficult to treat, and many doctors are wary of over-prescribing antibiotics, so Cantharis might prove to be a great first line-of-defense remedy. Studies have shown that taking Cantharis can completely avert the need for antibiotics, and it can greatly help with the painful symptoms associated with urinary tract infections[18,19].
You can purchase Cantharis here.
2. Homeopathy for Anxiety
For many people with anxiety, pharmaceutical approaches leave unwanted and lingering side effects, or just don’t work altogether. While this can be frustrating, homeopathy is beginning to really make a name for itself in the mental health community. Gelsemium, derived from the Yellow Jessamine plant, has been examined by researchers for its ability to relieve symptoms of anxiety multiple times now. The remedy has an extremely positive effect, especially in treating anxiety related to social situations, or being in new environments. Gelsemium has actually proven to help relieve stress and its overall effects on the mind and body, which naturally reduces the levels of anxiety felt by the patient.
You can purchase Gelsemium here.
1. Homeopathy for Autism and Mental Health
Mental health is something we, as an entire society, are becoming more aware of and vocal about. For those with autism, and their families, mental health can be a huge area of struggle, especially if the individual is nonverbal. The homeopathic remedy Stramonium, derived from the Devil’s Snare plant, can be extremely useful when aiding someone with autism who struggles with anxiety, panic, and aggression. Stramonium is most notably used to help manage self-injurious behavior, intense agitation, aggression, and incontinence of urine and stool[22,23].
You can purchase Stramonium here.
So, does homeopathy work? I mean, that’s really a decision you’re going to have to make for yourself through experimentation, research, and your own self-treatment. In my opinion, homeopathy is not only effective but poses a very safe and low-risk alternative to many pharmaceutical approaches. More research definitely needs to be done, but homeopathy must first be seen as a viable option and not a laughable pseudoscience. The evidence exists. Researchers and scientists have revealed that homeopathy is more than a placebo, despite its extreme dilutions. There’s a reason the practice has existed for three centuries.
Until next time,
1. FDA “A New Era for Homeopathic Drug Product Regulation” March 22, 2018 Issue
2. FDA Statement on the Agency’s Efforts to Protect Patients from Potentially Harmful Drugs Sold as Homeopathic Products
3. University of Michigan Homeopathy
4. Cochrane Database System Review
Homeopathic Oscillococcinum for Preventing and Treating Influenza and Influenza-LIke Illness
5. Semantic Scholar
Oscillococcinum in the Prevention and Cure of Influenza and Acute Respiratory Virus Infection
6. American Journal of Therapeutics
Effectiveness and Safety of Arnica Montana in Post-Surgical Setting, Pain and Inflammation
7. ScienceDirect Arnica Montana
8. Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research Allium Cepa: A Traditional Medicinal Herb and its Health Benefits
9. Alternative Medicine Review A Review of Homeopathic Research in the Treatment of Respiratory Allergies
10. Medipol University A Remedy at the Intersection Point of Homeopathy and Apitherapy: Apis Mel.
11. Annales Pharmaceutiques Francaises
The Effect of Dilutions of Apis Mellifica and Apium Virus on Ultraviolet Light-Induced Erythema in the Guinea Pig
12. The Homeopathy Journal Hepar Sulphur, Homeopathic Scalpel and Pyrogenium at the Dental Office
13. Journal of Dental School Homeopathy in Dentistry and Oral Medicine: A Review
14. Indian Journal of Research in Homeopathy A Case Report of Fibroadenosis Alleviated with Homeopathy
15. European Journal of Experimental Biology
Evaluation of Clinical Remission and Serum Globulin Level in Clinical and Subclinical Mastitis of Holstein Cows Before and After Using of Homeopathic Medicine Phytolacca Decandra
16. Beth Israel Lahey Winchester Hospital Bladder Infection
17. Mount Sinai Urinary Tract Infection in Women
18. RA Journal of Applied Research
Homeopathic Medicine ‘Cantharis 30CH’ Substituted Antibiotic: A Case Report of Infantile Urinary Tract Infection
19. Indo American Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Cannabis Sativa Homeopathic Medicine in the Management of UTI: A Case Series
20. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Homeopathic Doses of Gelsemium Sempervirens Improve the Behavior of Mice in Response to Novel Environments
21. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine
Experimental Neuropharmacology of Gelsemium Sempervirens: Recent Advances and Debated Issues
22. The Homeopathic Heritage Homeopathic Management of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Illustrative Cases
23. Indian Journal of Research in Homeopathy
Effectiveness of Homoeopathic Therapeutics in the Management of Childhood Autism Disorder