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My PSA About Homeopathy

Throughout the years I have been living with and seeking relief from symptoms of my chronic illnesses, I have been confronted by many so-called "snake oils and snake oil salespersons." This is especially true of my experience with atopic dermatitis (eczema).

How was I introduced to alternative medicine?

My mom had a sort of "wellness" awakening during my childhood upbringing that saw me exposed to a lot of alternative health practices. Along with a never-ending cycle of multi-level marketing (MLM) strategies, I was also exposed to multiple modalities of energy healing, acupuncture, crystals, and, as the article title hinted, homeopathy.

Why do I struggle with homeopathy?

I am the kind of person who appreciates evidence-based therapies borne of standardized, replicable, peer-reviewed data. I also do my best to be open-minded. I recognize that some complementary and alternative medicines have long-held cultural significance. However, I have to draw a particular line with homeopathy.

It’s not just the staggering lack of evidence to support the effectiveness of homeopathy that I take issue with. It’s also the fact that every one of the basic principles behind homeopathy contradicts what we know about pharmacology, chemistry, and biology.

In my experience, the products were never what you would call "affordable" either.

How did homeopathy start?

So what is homeopathy? This practice was created in Germany by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann more than 200 years ago. Hahnemann believed that if a person had an illness they could be cured by a highly diluted, forcefully shaken formulation made from plant, mineral, or animal components that if taken by a healthy person, would cause similar (but milder) symptoms of the same illness.1

In many cases, the ingredients used to create these formulations are highly hazardous to human health. For example, two common ingredients used in homeopathy dilutions are white arsenic and deadly nightshade.2

What theories are involved in homeopathy?

The thought process above led to him creating his basic principle of "like cures like." Hahnemann developed several theories that are included in homeopathy apart from the basic principle. Potentiation (making a solution stronger by shaking it vigorously to increase its "spiritual power") and the "law of infinitesimals" (the more diluted a substance is the more potent it is.)3

Was it widely received when created?

At the time it was created, homeopathy was the next big thing. It was far less intrusive than the medical practices that 18th- and 19th-century Europeans were used to. It encompassed a more "whole patient" approach as the sessions would often include lengthy interviews about medical history and well-being.

How has medicine changed in the past century?

This was a welcome relief to a society whose experiences with medical practices were often associated with pain, discomfort, and fear. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Europe was plagued with several pandemics including smallpox, typhus, plague, and multiple rounds of cholera.4

However, in the last 100 years, our species has made more advancements in science, medicine, and technology than we had in our entire collective existence prior.  We regularly experience medical advancements, made possible by current scientific methods that Dr. Hahnemann could never have even imagined.

How has homeopathy held up?

While his ideologies and theories may have lasted well into the 20th and 21st centuries, they have not been able to demonstrably prove their claims when held up to current scientific understanding and testing.2

Nowadays, there are certain consumer protections available regarding homeopathic products. For one, there are no homeopathic products that are currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Their reasons for this are their inability to verify that homeopathic products meet the standards for safety, effectiveness, and quality.3

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also issued guidance regarding how homeopathic products can and cannot be labeled given that their claims have not stood up to modern scientific scrutiny.5,6

How does it make me feel?

I don’t know about you, but the idea that there are companies out there selling and advertising these products, completely aware that they do not have reliable evidence to support the claims of treatment and prevention they make, yet regardless are more than happy to make a profit – it makes me sick.

In the end, you are free to make your own decisions about your health and well-being for yourself. However, I hope you will consider all of the above when it comes to using homeopathic products, especially for your eczema!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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