UK government ministers are considering whether homeopathy should be put on a blacklist of treatments GPs in England are banned from prescribing, with critics saying it is nothing more than useless sugar pills.
The controversial practice is based on the principle that ‘like cures like’, says the BBC, but the Faculty of Homeopathy said the therapy had ‘profound effects’ and that patients backed it.
Homeopathy is based on the concept that diluting a version of a substance that causes illness has healing properties. One part of the substance is mixed with 99 parts of water or alcohol.
So pollen or grass, for instance, could be used to create a homeopathic hay-fever remedy. The end result is combined with a lactose (sugar) tablet.
Homeopaths say the more diluted it is, the greater the effect. Critics say patients are getting nothing but sugar.
Defending homeopathy, Faculty president Helen Beaumont said: “Patient choice is important; homeopathy works, it’s widely used by doctors in Europe, and patients who are treated by homeopathy are really convinced of its benefits, as am I.”
But the NHS itself says: “There is no good-quality evidence that homeopathy is effective as a treatment for any health condition.”
A practising GP, Beaumont said the NHS should rather look at other drugs such as SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors), prescribed for mild to moderate depression in vast quantities at considerable cost to the NHS, but which studies have found to be ineffective for those conditions.
Common homeopathic treatments are for asthma, ear infections, hay-fever, depression, stress, anxiety, allergy and arthritis.
But hypnotherapy continues as a recognised – and non-invasive – form of treatment for problems like anxiety, stress, hay-fever and other allergies, depression, weight control and addictions like smoking, recreational drug-taking and alcoholism.
National Council for Hypnotherapy (NHS) chairman Graham Russell heads up an association which represents over 1800 hypnotherapists across the UK. Members are encouraged to register with the Complementary Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) which is the UK voluntary regulator for complementary healthcare practitioners – set up with government support to protect the public by providing a UK voluntary register of complementary therapists.
“The public and those who commission the services of complementary healthcare practitioners can choose with confidence, by looking for the CNHC quality mark,” said Russell. “The General Medical Council (GMC) guidance confirms that doctors are able to refer patients to practitioners on Accredited Registers.”
Hypnotherapy does not use pills – sugar-coated placebo or otherwise – but works with a person’s sub conscious mind to bring about therapeutic change.
“Studies show that hypnotherapy is successful in many areas, from dealing with phobias, stress and anxiety to physical conditions like allergies, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome, psoriasis and acne,” added Russell.