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The truth about homeopathy, part 2

Switch on Health offers the only accredited Homeopathy course in Australia. This series of articles answers some of the frequently asked questions about Homeopathy. If you're thinking of studying Homeopathy, or just want to know a bit about it, or even if you feel it is quackery, read on!

Is homeopathy banned?

Here's the quick answer. No. Homeopathy is not banned. It is legal to practice homeopathy in Australia. Homeopaths that are properly qualified will be a member of a professional association, such as ATMS or AROH, and they will have professional indemnity insurance. They will also make sure that they keep up to date with the latest knowledge and research by undertaking continuous professional development activities each year. When you are looking for a homeopath, make sure that they are a member of a relevant association, as mentioned above.

In 2019, the Australian government withdrew rebates for homeopathy from private health insurance. They did the same for naturopathy and western herbal medicine, on the grounds that there is no evidence that these treatments work. Quite bizarre really, given the large number of research papers to show the opposite. You can read more about this decision on private health insurance here.

Recent changes have also meant that some colleges stopped offering homeopathy. The assumption was that you could go and do a Bachelor of Homeopathy instead. There's just one catch. There aren't any universities that offer a Bachelor of Homeopathy! At least not in Australia. This meant that for a while, there was nowhere left here to study it. It could be going the way of the dodo! Luckily, Switch on Health has developed a new homeopathy qualification, and is now the only college in Australia offering an accredited course in homeopathy.

Why is homeopathy banned in Germany?

Fact is, it's not. We're not sure where this myth came from. Although rather like here in Australia, it is being debated whether it should still be covered by private health insurance. Just over the channel in the UK, homeopathy was, until very recently, available on the National Health Service, the equivalent of our Medicare. However a report in 2017 placed homeopathy into the category of substances that were ineffective or possibly unsafe, with the head of the NHS saying that "at best, homeopathy is placebo..." Presumably then he meant "ineffective" and not "possibly unsafe," since for something to be unsafe it must be doing something, therefore can't be placebo! So...

Is homeopathy placebo?

Well really, what do you expect us to say, as a college that teaches homeopathy? We wouldn't be teaching it if it was. And it's highly unlikely that it would have survived for over 200 years if it was. Or that so many people would claim to have had such great results if it was. People including David Beckham, Tony Blair, Martina Navratilova, Tina Turner, Paul McCartney, Moby, Cher, Annie Lennox, Tobey Maguire, and Orlando Bloom, to name but a few.

Those who say it must be placebo usually point to inconsistent evidence. In other words, that it hasn't always worked for everybody all of the time. When you study homeopathy, one of the first things you learn is that for it to work, you have to identify the right remedy, and at the right potency. You treat the patient and not the disease. It is not as simple as the approach taken by western medicine that follows the same prescription for a condition, with less regard to the individual. So, one explanation for it not always working is simply that the correct remedy and potency wasn't identified for that person at that time. This is very different to saying "it doesn't work."

It also often draws criticism as some scientists (not all of them) are unable to explain how it might work. Funnily enough, we don't know exactly how Panadol works either, nor does it always work for everyone all of the time. Hmmm...

The placebo effect relies on someone believing that the medicine will make them better, and as a result, their belief is so strong that they symptoms disappear. (This psychosomatic effect in itself is quite remarkable. As an aside, even doctors will admit that if a placebo works, this is fantastic! Your patient is cured of their symptoms, with extremely cost effective medicine (a sugar pill), and without any possible harmful side-effects or surgery. Perhaps placebo should be used more!) But we digress.

For the placebo effect to work, someone has to believe that the medicine they are taking will make them better. But did you know homeopathy is also successfully used with plants? And with animals? Bit hard for that to be placebo. We'll leave you with a two minute video from a veterinary doctor who discusses his use of both orthodox medicines and homeopathy with his animal patients.

What should you look for when wanting to study homeopathy? Firstly, you want to make sure that your qualification is recognised by a relevant association, such as ATMS. You also want to know if you can study online, and what kind of support you receive. You also want to check if there are flexible payment options.

Want to learn more about natural medicine?

In this short post, we have just touched upon the fascinating field of Homeopathy. If you want to learn more about complementary medicine, Switch on Health has several short courses and accredited qualifications that you will love, including Advanced Diplomas in Nutrition, Herbal Medicine, Naturopathy and Homeopathy. Browse the short courses or learn more about our accredited Advanced Diploma programs.


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