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What is homeopathy? Does it work, famous fans and what the NHS says about the controversial treatment; Homeopathy is a heavily contested form of medical treatment which can be traced back to the 18th Century, although most medical professionals are skeptical of the evidence in favour of homeopathy.

Byline: Fionn Shiner

Homeopathy is a controversial form of medicine that treats illness with a holistic view of the person, using diluted substances with the aim of triggering the body's own healing mechanisms.

One of the fundamentals ofhomeopathy, and an idea that is heavily contested, is that you "treat like with like". So if someone is struggling from sleeplessness and agitation a homeopath would subscribe a very small dose of a coffee-based medicine as coffee produces sleeplnessness.

Although the concept of "like cures like" can be traced back to Hippocrates, it was German doctor Samuel Hahnemann that pioneered the concept, and it is claimed that 200 million people worldwide use the treatment.

However, a2010 House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report on homeopathysaid homeopathic remedies perform no better than placebos and are redundant.

Hippocrates, the Greek physician, may have first suggested "like cures like" when he prescribed a small dose of mandrake root to treat mania, knowing it produces mania in larger doses.

But it was German doctor Samuel Hahnemann who coined the term "homeopathy" in the 1790s when he ingested bark specifically to see whether it would produce the symptoms of malaria, which it did. This led him to believe effective drugs produce symptoms the same as the disease itself.

In the 19th Century, homeopathy really took off and was introduced to the USA by Hans Birch Gram, a student of Hanemann.

According to theSociety of Homeopathsthere are now 200 million people who use it worldwide, and it is the second largest system of medicine in the world. They go on to say that in India more than 100 million people depend solely on homeopathy for their healthcare.

Along with the "like treats like" principle - that a substance that causes certain symptoms can also help remove those symptoms - is a second principle based around dilution and shaking called "succussion".

Homeopaths believe that the greater a substance is diluted and then shaken, the greater its power to treat symptoms.

Therefore, many homeopathic remedies are substances that have been diluted many times in water until there's very little of the original substance remaining.

Homeopathy is used for a wife range of health conditions and amongst the most common are:

However,according to the NHSthere is no "good-quality evidence that homeopathy is an effective treatment for these, or any other health condition."

Prince Charles uses homeopathy and has argued in favour of integrated healthcare.Paul McCartneyis a fan and said: "I can't manage without homeopathy. I never go anywhere without homeopathic remedies. I use them often."

Cherapproves too, saying: "I don't think I'd still be around today if it weren't for homeopathic medicine."

The Society of Homeopaths also claims that such well-known names as David Beckham, Jude Law, Helena Bonham Carter and many others are avid users of the medicinal treatment.

The medical community is unanimous in its dismissal of homeopathy as a feasible method of medicine, both in the UK and abroad.

The aforementioned House of Commons Science and Technology Committee said there was no evidence that it is an effective treatment for any medical condition.

The NHS England recommended that GPs and other prescribers should stop providing homeopathy on the NHS as they found"no clear or robust evidence to support the use of homeopathy on the NHS."

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which recommends theNHSon the proper use of treatments, does not recommend that homeopathy should be used in the treatment of any healthy condition.

With that being said, and the evidence clearly being very much against homeopathy as a form of treatment, it is generally safe and risk from any serious adverse side effect is believed to be small.

However, the substances in the remedies could interfere with other medicines you have been prescribed.

The recommendation from the NHS is that you should talk to your GP before you stop other forms of treatment in favour of homeopathy.


Credit: Getty Images Europe

Prince Charles is a fan of homeopathy
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Title Annotation:Lifestyle,Health
Publication:Daily Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 15, 2018
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