You may have heard of "homeopathy" but you're not sure what it is. Simply put, "homeopathy" is a system of medicine that treats a condition with highly diluted natural substances that mimic the symptoms of the condition being treated. This concept seems paradoxical to most.
Homeopathy is a difficult concept to grasp. How do you cure someone of an illness by giving them an infinitesimally small concentration of something that can cause the illness? One would think that by giving someone who is sick something that causes what they're already suffering from would only make the person sicker. But, according to proponents of the science, homeopathy not only works, but is better than conventional medicine, espousing their belief that homeopathy is the way medicine should be, but somewhere along the line the pharmaceutical industry got involved, and natural medicine was abruptly dismissed in favor of chemical laden formulations.
There are actually quite a few homeopathic medicines in your neighborhood pharmacy and health food store. You may not be aware that they're there, but they are. The FDA requires that homeopathic products put the word "homeopathic" somewhere on the packaging, though sometimes the word can be difficult to find. The easiest way to ascertain whether the product you're looking at is homeopathic is to read the label on the back and take a look at the ingredients. In homeopathy, all of the ingredients are diluted, so each ingredient in a homeopathic product has the letter "X" after it. So, if one of the ingredients is "Zinc 20X", that means the product contains Zinc that has been diluted 20 times. One of the most popular cold medicines on the market, "Zicam," is actually a homeopathic remedy that consists of homeopathic zinc in the form of a nasal gel. Most people that use Zicam don't even realize that it's homeopathic.
There are homeopathic remedies available for almost any condition you can think of. Cold, flu, allergy, even bedwetting; there is a homeopathic remedy available for almost every condition (yes, there really is a homeopathic medicine to treat bedwetting, made by Liddell Laboratories in Moraga, CA). Homeopathy is universally recognized as being safe, as the ingredients used are natural substances diluted so many times that there's almost nothing in the product. Because there is such a small concentration of the ingredients in a homeopathic remedy, many cynics, including the drug companies that make conventional medicine and are afraid of the growing popularity of homeopathy, claim that any improvement in an ill person's condition experienced after using a homeopathic medicine is purely the result of the placebo effect. And because the FDA does not require that homeopathic products undergo clinical testing before being sold to the public, the detractors feel that homeopathy is a bunch of bologna and that it doesn't really work. So, who's telling the truth? Does homeopathy work or not?
In my opinion, the answer is a resounding yes. There have been several clinical trials done over the years to test the efficacy of homeopathic products. Liddell Laboratories makes a product called "Vital HGH" which contains homeopathic HGH. Vital HGH is designed to treat the symptoms of aging and/or a rundown condition. In a small clinical trial performed years ago, a group of test subjects who were deficient in human growth hormone, ranging in age from 45 years and up, were given the Vital HGH formulation. The results speak for themselves. During the five month clinical trial, the levels of HGH in the blood increased in every test subject, and more than doubled the average level of HGH.
Homeopathy does work. I speak from personal experience. I used Liddell's homeopathic remedy to deal with the allergy attacks I was having, and the medicine not only stopped the attacks faster than the Claritin I had been taking, but I began using the Liddell allergy product once a day as a means for preventing the allergies from recurring, and I haven't had another attack since.
So, why is there a controversy? Well, there's a public perception that homeopathy is the same thing as holistic healing, where a weird looking guy puts a triangle around your head and tells you to drink mashed tree bark, like George did on Seinfeld to treat his tonsillitis before he turned purple. This is not homeopathy. Homeopathic medicines are carefully formulated and contain tiny amounts of specific natural substances designed to provoke a response in your body that helps your body to fight the condition that the medicine is designed to treat. So, a homeopathic cold medicine would perhaps contain something that stimulates your immune system to more effectively fight a cold virus. It's a really a very simple concept.
Another reason why homeopathy is taken for granted is because it makes big drug manufacturers nervous that such products might be more effective for treating common illnesses as opposed to the more expensive prescription versions that make the pharmaceutical companies rich. Most homeopathic products are incredibly cheap. A prescribed conventional medicine costs a lot more. If the public began demanding natural, homeopathic remedies for their ailments, drug companies would have to make these kinds of products to stay in business, and then they're revenues and profits would shrink. Imagine if Pfizer had to stop manufacturing Viagra, which they sell at $20-$30 per pill, and instead make a homeopathic product that would retail for only $20 for a one month supply. This is the pharmaceutical industry's worst nightmare, and this is why drug companies often spend significant money to debunk claims that homeopathy works, using a wide variety of misinformation tactics to instill a belief in the public that homeopathy is hocus pocus. This simply isn't true. Homeopathy works, and at a cost that people can afford.
You should continue to use the conventional medicines. They are needed and necessary and sometimes homeopathy doesn't work for each and every individual. But, next time you go to the pharmacy, take a look at some of the homeopathic brands on the shelf and give them a try. For common ailments that aren't life threatening, homeopathy is probably a cheaper and effective alternative.
Jim Pretin is the proprietor of http://www.consumersavingsrx.com, a licensed online pharmacy that sells various FDA regulated prescription drugs.