In a small town in the Panhandle, a Medical Doctor in the Air Force left the Vietnam War allergy clinic that he had been pressed into heading as a 26 year old captain and opened a clinic of his own. Everyone told him that a tiny town like his couldn’t support an Allergy clinic but the good Doctor had a gift for helping people with their allergies and he developed a formulation that people came from as far away as Colorado to receive. He had patients from New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma and all over NorthWest Texas. When he retired people clamored for his allergy treatment. In order to provide these people with relief, the Doctor worked with a wonderful clean room laboratory in another small town and came up with a homeopathic version of his formula that exactly matched his specifications. The formula was made available to his former patients. The clamor was so great that the formula was put into a few stores in Amarillo. Nine months later it was being used by people all over the Panhandle.
Four years later Allernone is now used in at least 29 states and continuing to grow basically by word of mouth. People come back and buy entire cases at a time. The original formula has only had one addition to it, when the Doctor added Sage, Sycamore and Oak in order to perfect his formulation. The fruit of over forty years work is now available to people everywhere.
The development and growing popularity of Allernone has corresponded with the increasing interest among Americans for a medical approach that is less invasive, more natural, and ultimately more effective. Interest in homeopathy had sagged during the early and middle part of the twentieth century as conventional medicine established a strong foothold in American society. But by the 1960s its popularity began to perk up. A survey conducted in 1999 reported that more than 6 million Americans had used homeopathy in the preceding year .(5) People in other countries, including Germany, India, Mexico, and the United Kingdom, had already embraced homeopathy and integrated it into their national health care systems .(6) More than 30 million people in Europe alone use homeopathic remedies ,(7) and it is the most popular form of medicine in India.
Acceptance in the United States has been slower, however, but growing steadily. According to the American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists, sales of homeopathic drugs in the United States in 2003 were between $300 and $450 million, with an average growth rate of about 8 percent per year .(8)
The Art of Buying Homeopathic Remedies
While some users of homeopathy seek the guidance of homeopaths, many others treat themselves with remedies they purchase from pharmacies or natural health outlets .(9) When buying homeopathic remedies, they, like you, want to know how you can be assured you are getting what you pay for. After all, homeopathic remedies are not prescription medications, which are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. So is anyone monitoring the quality, safety, and effectiveness of homeopathic remedies?
As a consumer of homeopathic remedies, you have two levels of protection. One is offered by the Food and Drug Administration, the other by the homeopathic industry itself. Let’s begin with the government’s role.
In 1938, senator and homeopathic physician Royal Copeland of New York wrote the law, which was then passed by the US Congress, which stated that homeopathic remedies would be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Today, homeopathic remedies are regulated by the FDA under guidelines that differ from those that apply to conventional drugs. For example:
• Manufacturers of homeopathic remedies do not need to submit new drug
applications to the FDA before they put their products on the market, and their products are exempt from undergoing product testing for strength and identity. Remedies sold in a solid form must have the name of the manufacturer on the label and identify the product as a homeopathic remedy.
• Some homeopathic remedies are made with alcohol, and the FDA allows
these products to contain alcohol at levels that exceed those allowed in conventional drugs, which are no more than 10 percent in drugs for adults and even less for children’s medications.
• Homeopathic remedies that are sold for self-limiting conditions,
such as headache, colds, and sore throat, can be sold without a prescription. The FDA requires that the labels on these products contain the following information (10)
o List of ingredients
o Instructions for safe use
o At least one major health problem that the remedy can address
• Homeopathic remedies that are sold to treat serious diseases such as
cancer must be sold by prescription.
• All firms that manufacture, prepare, or otherwise process
homeopathic drugs must register as drug establishments and their products must be manufactured in agreement with current good manufacturing practices, except for a few exemptions as mentioned above.
Homeopathic remedies are also monitored and regulated by experts within the homeopathic world itself. The Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia Convention of the United States (HPCUS) is a nonprofit, nongovernmental scientific organization that is composed of experts in a variety of fields (e.g., medicine, biology, chemistry, arts, botony,
pharmacy) but who also have experience and training in homeopathy. The HPCUS works closely with the FDA as well as homeopathic organizations (e.g., the American Institute of Homeopathy and the American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists) to ensure the highest standards for homeopathic products.
When shopping for homeopathic remedies, for example, look for the acronym “HPUS” (Homeopathic Pharmaceopeia of the United States) on the label. This is your assurance that the product meets the legal standards of purity, quality, potency, and packaging, which have been established by the HPCUS. It also tells you that the active ingredients in the remedy are official Homeopathic Drug Products and can be found in the current Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States. The Convention also makes available the guidelines for both over-the-counter and prescription homeopathic drug products. (www.hpus.com).
Safety and Side Effects Associated with Homeopathic Remedies
Safety and side effects are foremost on the mind of everyone who takes any type of medication, and the impressive safety and side effect record of homeopathic remedies is one of the reasons why people choose them. The FDA has received a few reports of illness supposedly associated with the use of homeopathic remedies, but after reviewing the claims, the FDA concluded that the remedies were not at fault. The British Homeopathic Journal reported that homeopathic remedies in high dilutions, when taken under the supervision of trained professionals, are considered safe and unlikely to cause any serious adverse reactions .(11)
What some people call “side effects” in many cases may actually be the body’s response as it adjust to the homeopathic remedy. It is not unusual for people to report that after they take the first dose of a homeopathic remedy, they temporarily feel a bit worse. Such reactions are known in homeopathic circles as a “healing crisis.” This means that the body reacts to the remedy by working too hard. A homeopathic remedy is a trigger that stimulates the body’s self-healing abilities. Sometimes the body responds by temporarily fighting back, but once you take the second dose—perhaps in a smaller amount–your body’s natural healing energy will take over and your symptoms should be relieved or eliminated.
Sometimes, the chosen homeopathic remedy does not give you the results you had hoped for. If you don’t experience relief within a short period of time—within a few hours or day or two, depending on the condition you are treating—you should stop taking it and select a new, more appropriate remedy that better matches your symptoms and profile. If you continue to take a remedy that does not reduce or relieve your symptoms, over a prolonged period of time your symptoms may get worse or you may develop new ones. This is your body’s way of telling you, “Hey, this isn’t working. I can heal myself if you just give me the right remedy!”
As a general rule—keeping in mind that each person has unique needs and characteristics—when you take a homeopathic remedy:
• If you feel better, do not repeat the remedy as long as there is
improvement in your symptoms
• If your symptoms improve for a while, but then you feel worse,
repeat the dose at the same strength
• If you don’t feel any better or any worse after taking a dose,
repeat the dose at the same strength. If there is still no improvement, you likely need to find a remedy that more closely matches your symptoms.
By the way, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine ,(12) if you are taking any conventional medications, homeopathic remedies are not believed to interfere with such drugs. However, if you are considering taking both types of medication, you should talk to your health-care practitioner(s) before you do so.
Using Homeopathic Remedies
One of the great things about homeopathic remedies is that they are so easy to use. Most of them are available as a liquid or in a tablet or pellet that is designed to dissolve under your tongue. Powdered forms can be dissolved in water. Thus these remedies can be used by infants as well as by anyone who has difficulty swallowing pills. Regardless of which form you use, do not touch it with your hands. If you are taking a tablet, shake the tablet into the lid of the container and drop the tablet into your mouth. Hold the recommended dose under your tongue for a minute before you swallow it. This allows the blood vessels under your tongue to absorb the ingredients directly into your bloodstream and work more quickly.
Homeopathy is an energy medicine, and so it is influenced by the energy of other substances. To help ensure you get the most from your homeopathic remedy, we recommend that you do not eat or drink anything other than water for at least 15 minutes before and after you take your remedy. You also should avoid brushing your teeth, using mouthwash, smoking, or chewing gum during that time.
Homeopathic remedies are also sensitive to their environment, so store them carefully. The best location is a cool, dark place that is far away from any strongly aromatic foods, herbs, or household substances, such as coffee, essential oils, mints, tobacco, perfumes or fragrant cosmetics or health products, household cleaners, or vinegar. Thus keeping your remedies in the kitchen or bathroom is not a good idea.
• Do not store your remedies near any objects that emit energy,
including cell phones, microwaves, televisions, ovens, or computers
• Avoid exposure to direct sunlight or excessive cold or heat
• Always make sure the cap or lid is tight on the container
• Do not transfer remedies from one container to another
The Bottom Line
Does homeopathy work? More important, will it work for you? We invite you to try it. You certainly will not be alone. Around the world, millions of people are getting relief from homeopathic remedies, and many scientists continue to investigate their powers. In a recent multicenter study that involved more than one hundred primary care and specialty practices, investigators evaluated the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies on 2,851 adults and 1,130 children, 97 percent of whom had been diagnosed with a chronic condition, including hayfever, atopic dermatitis (an allergic condition), and headache. The researchers concluded that quality of life and disease severity had improved significantly following homeopathic treatment .(13)
Mahatma Gandhi had this to say about homeopathy: “[it] cures a larger percentage of cases than any other method of treatment and is beyond all doubt safer, more economical, and the most complete medical science.” With an endorsement like that, even a skeptic should be tempted to give it a try .
(1) Colin P. Homeopathy and respiratory allergies: a series of 147 cases. Homeopathy 2006 Apr; 95(2): 68-72
(2) Muller-Krampe B et al. Effects of Spascupreel versus hyoscine butylbromide for gastrointestinal cramps in children. Pediatr Int 2007 Jun; 49(3): 328-34.
(3) Zabolotnyi DI et al. Efficacy of a complex homeopathic medication
(Sinfrontal) in patients with acute maxillary sinusitis: a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter clinical trial. Explore (NY) 2007 Mar-Apr; 3(2): 98-109.
(4) Tsang KL et al. Pilot crossover trial of Reiki versus rest for treating cancer-related fatigue. Integr Cancer Ther 2007 Mar; 6(1):25-35; Wardell DW et al. A pilot study of healing touch and progressive relaxation for chronic neuropathic pain in persons with spinal cord injury. J Holist Nurs 2006 Dec; 24(4):231-40; Lappin MS et al. Effects of a pulsed electromagnetic therapy on multiple sclerosis fatigue and quality of life: a double-blind, placebo controlled trial. Altern Ther Health Med. 2003 Jul-Aug;9(4):38-48.
(5) Ni H, Simile, C., and Hardy, AM. Utilization of complementary and
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(6) Poitevin, B. Integrating homoeopathy in health systems. Bulletin of
the World Health Organization. 1999; 77(2):160-66.
(8) Report of survey for the U.S. homeopathic industry. Santa Rosa, CA:
American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists; 2002 Sep.
(9) Jonas WB, Kaptchuk TJ, and Linde K. A critical overview of
homeopathy. Ann Intern Med 2003. 138(5):393-99.
(10) Junod SW. Alternative drugs: Homeopathy, Royal Copeland, and
federal drug regulation. Pharmacy in History 2000; 42(1-2):13-35; Food and Drug Administration. Conditions under which homeopathic drugs may be marketed.” Compliance Policy Guides Manual, Sec. 400.400. Available at: www.fda.gov/ora/compliance_ref/cpg/cpgdrg/cpg400-400.html.
(11) Dantas, F. and Rampes, H. Do homeopathic medicines provoke adverse effects? A systematic review.” British Homeopathic Journal. 2000; 89 Suppl 1:S35-S38
(12) National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine:
(13) Witt CM et al. Homeopathic medical practice: long-term results of
a cohort study with 3981 patients. BMC Public Health. 2005 Nov 3;5:115.