Don’t hate homeopaths – we’ve been unfairly vilified as ‘quacks’ and could actually help save the NHS, doctor argues

Don’t hate homeopaths – we’ve been unfairly vilified as ‘quacks’ and could actually help save the NHS, doctor argues

Dr Helen Beaumont is from the Faculty of Homeopathy, which registers and trains health professionals using homeopathy in their practice

Argues homeopaths are unfairly vilified as ‘quacks’ and ‘charlatans’

Says gold-standard trials prove homeopathy works beyond placebo

As it is cheaper than conventional treatment it could save the NHS money

PUBLISHED: 12:51, 21 March 2016 | UPDATED: 14:20, 24 March 2016

It has been labelled ‘quackery’ with no basis in science.

But one expert says homeopathy, an alternative ‘treatment’ where it is purported highly diluted substances can ‘heal’ the body, has been unfairly vilified.

Dr Helen Beaumont, of the Faculty of Homeopathy, which registers and trains health professionals who use homeopathy in their practice, says people cannot discuss the subject without resorting to name-calling

Writing for the medical blogging website The Hippocratic Post, she says just because the evidence on homeopathy is inconclusive, it doesn’t mean it is ineffective – and ‘gold-standard’ trials have proved it works beyond placebo.

Moreover, as it is less expensive than conventional treatments such as drugs, it could save the NHS money at a time of dire financial constraints.

Here, she explains why we should embrace homeopathic practice instead of attacking it…

Since 2010, when the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee published a report saying that homeopathic remedies were no better than placebos, the homeopathic profession has had to face increasing criticism and hostility.

Only four of 15 members of the committee bothered to vote and the Government rejected the report.

Yet, this badly considered decision was adopted by some as the definitive judgement on a therapy that millions of people around the world find beneficial to health.

The Faculty of Homeopathy has around 800 members who are highly qualified medical doctors, nurses, pharmacists, veterinary surgeons and other healthcare professionals.

They have many years’ clinical experience and are regulated by their respective professional bodies.

Nevertheless, they are frequently subjected to vindictive attacks from opponents of homeopathy, who attempt to denigrate their clinical expertise and professionalism by using words such as ‘quack’ and ‘charlatan’.


Homeopathy is a form of complementary, holistic medicine used by more than 200 million people across the world.

Advocates advise it is used for both acute and chronic conditions.

Homeopathic remedies are prepared by taking a substance, plant, animal or chemical material, diluting it in water or alcohol, then forcefully hitting the container against a hand or surface.

The medicines come in the form of pellets to be placed under the tongue, tablets, liquids, ointments, sprays and creams.

It is based on the principle of ‘like cures like’, the British Homeopathic Association states.

The idea is that substances that cause illnesses can become remedies in small, highly diluted doses.

The BHA advises it can be used to treat eczema, depression, coughs, the menopause, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, hay fever, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.

And all because they use homeopathy to bring relief to many patients whose symptoms have failed to respond to conventional medicine.

Quite frankly, I am amazed at the level of hostility homeopathy encounters, particularly from those people who seem unable to have an intelligent debate on the subject without resorting to puerile language and name calling.

It is true the scientific evidence base for homeopathy is inconclusive. But that does not mean there is no evidence.

There are positive randomised controlled trials – the so-called gold standard – supporting its therapeutic benefits beyond placebo.

In addition, homeopathy achieves excellent results from PROMs (patient reported outcome measures) where patients report how much better they feel after receiving homeopathic treatment.

Sadly, opponents of homeopathy condescendingly dismiss the views of patients, preferring to see medicine purely as a scientific subject and not a practice.

If patients are finding health benefits from a therapy, what is the problem?

Another negative outcome of the campaign against homeopathy has been the widespread belief that it is no longer available on the NHS.

This simply isn’t true. There is a postcode lottery, but GPs can still refer patients for homeopathic treatment.

In Glasgow and London there are dedicated hospitals to integrative care that offer homeopathy, and there are clinics and practitioners in other parts of the UK who will see NHS referrals.

With the NHS coming under increasing financial pressure, the Government and health managers are looking at ways to reduce costs without affecting patient care.

Homeopathy can play a vital role in helping to achieve this.

As a therapy it is generally less expensive than many conventional treatments and when used as a complementary therapy some patients are able reduce the number of drugs they are taking.

Quite frankly, I am amazed at the level of hostility homeopathy encounters
Dr Helen Beaumont, of the Faculty of Homeopathy

Currently the NHS spends around £4-million a year on homeopathy, a tiny fraction of the overall healthcare budget of £137.9-billion.

Those who want to end all funding for NHS homeopathy to save money, conveniently forget that the patients who would be denied the therapy still need to be treated.

This would inevitably lead to them receiving more costly interventions which they may not find as beneficial as homeopathy.

Homeopathy is good for patients and good for the NHS. To deny patients this treatment option makes no clinical or economic sense.

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