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Homeopathy, a controversial practice Homeopathy has its supporters and detractors.

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Published the 11/8/2020

Why these dissensions? Let's go back to the sources of this therapy in order to better understand it.

The term homeopathy comes from the Greek "homoios" which means: identical to. It treats illnesses by the like and is opposed to allopathy which treats illnesses by the opposite. This therapeutic model was born with the German doctor Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), however we find its beginnings in the Hippocratic Corpus in the work of Paracelsus and in the medical traditions of several Asian countries.

In France, homeopathy was recognized in 1965. More than 56% of the population has already used homeopathic medicines and 11% uses them regularly. They are prescribed either by a general practitioner or sold directly to the pharmacy. Homeopathy is part of the field of toxicology and pharmacology.

This is a therapeutic method using preparations of substances whose effects, when administered to a healthy person, correspond to the symptoms in a sick person. Homeopathy obeys three fundamental principles:


1. The principle of similarity: a substance administered in high dose causes symptoms in a healthy individual. But it would also have the ability to cure these same symptoms if they occur in a patient who has received this substance in small amounts.

2. The law of individuation: The individual is cured, not the disease. Treatment is based on the individual.

3. The principle of infinitesimal dilution: the solution which will result in a drug will be diluted to render toxic substances harmless.


Following the statement of these principles, one can agree that two people with the same disease would not necessarily be treated with the same homeopathic medicines.


How is a homeopathic medicine prepared?

It is necessary to start from an animal, human, plant or even mineral substance and macerate it in a liquid composed of water and ethyl alcohol. Filtration and dilution follow. There are two types of dilution: the Hahnemanian, which corresponds to a successive dilution, and the Korsakovienne, which is prepared in the same container at one time. The drug is then presented in the form of granules, tablets or drops.

Homeopathy raises dissension especially within the scientific and medical community because of the high dilutions of the substances, which, according to some, would amount to making them non-existent in the final medicine. There are dilutions made 12 times with a factor of 100.



Diagram of a factor 100 dilution which will be repeated 12 times. (The volume of water or alcohol is 100 times greater than that of the substance).


Despite the significant role of this type of therapy, little research on the subject has been published according to valid meta-analytical models. In an optimal framework, it would therefore be necessary to analyze the effects of the treatment on the patients according to the different diseases, and to see whether the results differ between taking a placebo or homeopathic therapy.

Recently an independent assessment was published by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council. According to them, a drug in high dilution does not allow to notice a difference with the taking of placebo. This mode of therapy should not be used to treat chronic conditions that are serious or likely to become so. As homeopathy is devoid of active molecules, it is unlikely that it will cause unwanted or serious effects. However, in some cases even a placebo can be harmful if it is substituted for an effective treatment.

These drugs are subject to the management of Social Security and complementary health insurance. They also represent a financial advantage for the countries because they make it possible to greatly reduce the costs of care, ie a saving of 20% (for the French system). However, in January 2021, there will be a total delisting by social security and each mutual will apply its own policy. One can therefore wonder what will be the economic and health benefits of this initiative.

Homeopathy is a popular therapeutic model widespread in our societies, but it is still poorly understood in terms of its effectiveness from a scientific point of view. We can therefore wonder rightly if this new initiative of social security and mutual societies would not taint its use a little more.

References:

1. Aurélie Colas et al. Economic impact of homeopathic practice in general medicine in France. Health Economics Review. 2015.

2. Edzard Ernest. Homöopathie. Homeopathy 2010.

3. Engin Senel. Evolution of homeopathy: A scientometric analysis of global homeopathy literature between 1975 and 2017. Complementary Therapies un Clinical Practice. 2019.

4. Peter Fisher. Should doctors recommend homeopathy? Bmj. 2015.

5. Petter Viksveen et al. Economic evaluations of homeopathy: a review. Eur J Health Econ. 2013.

6. Robert G Hahn. Homeopathy: meta-analyses of pooled clinical data.Übersichtsarbeit. 2013.

7. Robert T Mathie. Controlled clinical studies of homeopathy. Homeopathy. 2016.

8. https://www.passeportsante.net/fr/Therapies/Guide/Fiche.aspx?doc=homeopathie_th


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