Homeopathy in Australia
Why should Australia be nicer to Homeopathy? I find the attitude of the Australian bureaucracy towards complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies to be a little odd at times. If you are at all interested in this area, you may have noticed it too. The Australian scientific medical watchdog, the NHMRC, have in the last few years put much negative focus on the practice of CAM therapies, especially homeopathy. The latest move by the NHMRC has been to request submissions from both sides of the fence in order to put together a statement on whether homeopathy should be considered a valid form of medicine in Australia. This is similar to an attempt by the British House of Commons in 2010, designed to discredit and restrict the practice of homeopathy in the UK. That attempt was not endorsed by the parliament, which ruled that to restrict and discredit homeopathic treatments was “illiberal.” The matter was dropped. The only problem was, in the course of this “investigation” many homeopaths lost their practices and were forced out of their much loved livelihoods due to the negative press surrounding the issue. The same is now happening here in Australia and I have included a link to the letter the Australian Homeopathic Association sent the NHMRC: http://www.homeopathyoz.org/downloads/Ana-Lamaro-re-NHMRC1.pdf .
These days it seems like there’s a conspiracy theory for everything; from the rise of GMO in our food, to alien invasions and the opposition towards CAM therapies, homeopathy in particular. Today I have been inspired to explore some of those theories as to why homeopathy is so popular in some countries that it’s been included on their national equivalent of Medicare; whereas in others it lurks in the background or even the underground, the knowledge carried silently and defiantly in the hopes that one day it can be celebrated once again for the incredible and useful modality it is.
Conventional medicine vs homeopathy
Wouldn’t it be amazing if the best of conventional medicine could be used side by side with the best of homeopathy and other CAM modalities? What a healthy world it would be! Sadly, in Australia this is not so, and it’s far from the first time homeopathy has come under fire from the conventional medicine camp, as well as those in government. Back in the days when homeopathy was first brought into being by Dr Hahnemann in the late seventeen hundreds, he faced incredible opposition from the apothecaries of the time who regularly gave high doses of substances such as mercury, lead, arsenic and other toxic purgatives. It was believed such heroic treatments would rid the body of its evil humors and bring the person back to health. Of course we can only imagine how much extra suffering these so-called treatments caused, on top of the original complaints. Many people hold similar concerns for side effects of certain conventional medicines today. In fact Dr Hanemann’s biggest bug-bear was the fact that such heroic means were in direct contravention with the original mantra of medicine: first, do no harm, and he attracted a lot of hostility in his drive to make the practice of medicine safer. In the years since, homeopathy has repeatedly been the target of many and varied attempts to sabotage it by the pharmaceutical equivalents of the time. The fact that the WHO labels homeopathy as one of the most widely used and popular natural modalities in the world today is testament to the true effectiveness and safety of homeopathy, and gives hope to all who feel passionately about its effectiveness.
Does anyone else worry even a little about this issue? I quote a part of the official web page dedicated to Antibiotic Awareness Week 2013: Antibiotic resistance has been labelled one of the greatest threats to human existence today. Shall I repeat that, just to make it have more impact?
But, despite this, never have we been so immersed in a soup of ever increasing and potentially dangerous antibiotics that we have to work increasingly hard to avoid. How do we reduce our antibiotic intake if they are even present in the food we eat?
Homeopathy is one of the modalities that offers an alternative, and a very viable one at that. There have been few explorations of research into the field of homeopathy’s antibacterial properties, however, those who have ventured to research it find that there is no money on offer from funding bodies.
But why does conventional belief refute homeopathy?
Well, firstly there’s the little issue of money. Given that big business tends to like money, we will start our little exploration with the fact that, even back in the days of Dr Hahnemann, the apothecaries did not like to sell homeopathics because they couldn’t make loads of money from them. Drugs were sold by weight, and since homeopathic medicines carry very little weight, there was very little money to be made from them. Another issue with homeopathic medicines is that they cannot be patented, meaning that a big pharmaceutical company may not own the monopoly over them and charge people hundreds of thousands of dollars to use them. That in itself would probably be enough to ensure only the most passionate of homeopaths stayed in business, but there’s a whole lot more to this story. For those who would like to know more about the history of homeopathy from a financial standpoint you can read about this here: http://www.classichomeopathy.com/discovery/criticism.html
Research and evidence based medicine in homeopathy
Many sceptics of homeopathy will tell you how there’s no proof that homeopathy works. This standpoint may have been somewhat believable even five years ago; however the scientific community has literally been bombarded of late with clinical trials exploring this area of science. It is a relatively new area and one that may come to explain much that was previously impossible to understand according to outdated but still widely held traditional theories. To say the same thing in a different way, it’ll be great once old school science tosses out its limited, materialistic beliefs and happily embraces a much broader perception of universal reality, because then homeopathy will sit at the forefront of medicine as being one of the most advanced and sophisticated health modalities used today…… I could only dream of such a time! And if you think I’m joking, read on. A homeopathic preparation consists of a super high dilution of a particular substance and, unless you are a molecular physicist or biochemist who understands the role of ultra high dilutions and how they work in the body, it’s not an easy topic to understand. But, the main point of all this technical speak is that there are many, many studies these days showing plenty of evidence for the validity of homeopathy, both from a clinical perspective as well as how ultra high dilutions behave in a petri dish. For those who want more information you can find it here. http://www.homeopathyoz.org/whatisResearch.asp
And here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9553836
And here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/23973403/
And here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/memo/homeopathy/ucm2102.htm
You get the picture, right? Great, now we can move on to some more controversial stuff.
Homeopathy represents a threat to the pharmaceutical companies
Being a complimentary modality, people often use homeopathy and other CAM modalities for issues that can’t be resolved using conventional medicine. Well, that’s all fine, but homeopathy is becoming well known as being able to treat on par with, and often even more effectively than conventional medicine in many areas of health previously dominated by conventional medicine. Even more of a threat, is that homeopathy carries virtually no risk, is cost effective and not habit forming. More about that here, in which the Swiss government have recently included homeopathy on the equivalent of their medicare system after an in depth investigation into homeopathy’s real world effectivenenss. If you have a particular issue, such as pain, and you take pain killers, it’s likely you will need more and more of them in order to keep the pain at bay for the long term. That’s setting you up for all manner of side effects, but even more than that it makes you into a good consumer of pharmaceuticals. Homeopathy on the other hand, holds the philosophy that if you find and treat the cause of the issue, you may eventually be free of that troubling symptom, negating the need for lifelong dependence on anything. That doesn’t sit well with pharmaceutical companies, for obvious reasons.
Imagine a society that wanted to treat the cause of their problems rather than just getting rid of annoying symptoms…… I will keep dreaming. (Key in lovely music while images of utopia float through your mind…)
I have left this till last because it is the most controversial issue in homeopathy today. So what is homeoprophylaxis (or HP for short)? HP is a system of disease control originally thought up by Hahnemann and developed over the years by various homeopaths in response to local epidemics. HP has been very effective in the past at reducing deaths from a whole range of infectious diseases. You can find out more from here in an article which describes the largest ever successful HP program to date. And a more general informational article here: http://www.nwch.co.uk/attachments/SoHVAC3Introduction-to-Homeoprophylaxis.pdf
Fran Sheffield was one of those homeopaths who explored HP in depth on her website and drew the attention of the HCCC. I will say no more on this topic of Australia homeopathy.
Can you please help spread the word that Australia Should Be Nicer To Homeopathy?
It seems a little sad to me that such a wonderful and holistic system of medicine isn’t being more utilised in Australia. Research at the Aurum Project (the first natural medicine charity in Australia www.aurumproject.org.au) has found that homeopathy has had quite stunning success with treating childhood ear issues, which are among the most common reasons for a child to visit the doctor. Imagine if this issue alone could be taken off the overloaded conventional system, where antibiotics and surgery cost Medicare hundreds of millions of tax payer dollars every year, and don’t necessarily resolve the problem long term. Looking at homeopathic treatment, it amounts to a fraction of the cost, with far less potential of side effects and a greater chance of a positive long term outcome. This setup seems to make little sense to me from my homeopathic point of view, and I wonder how many people “out there” feel the same way? If there are any of you who feel as strongly about homeopathy in Australia as we do at the Harbord homeopathic Clinic, then there are a number of ways to show your support. Here is a link that is still valid and if there are enough people who send in their positive experiences about homeopathy, the NHMRC may reconsider its rather heavy handed approach: http://www.atms.com.au/tag/homeopathy/
Support The Aurum Project to wave the Australia Homeopathy flag
Dedicated to homeopathic research, The Aurum Project is looking at the next stage in its ear research in children. A pilot study is to be designed comparing the use of homeopathic treatment of recurring ear infections and glue ear, to conventional treatment. In order to conduct that important research, the Aurum Project relies on funding from generous supporters.
Here’s my call to action: can you please donate just $30 to homeopathic research in Australia by becoming a member of the Aurum Project. OR a recurring monthly donation of just $5 really does make a difference. That is, it really makes a difference when we all give the cost of one coffee a month. Members will receive updates on the latest homeopathy research. To donate to help support Australian research, please click here.