Homeopathy – giving health a sporting chance
As the country goes sporting mad this summer, homeopathy will be called on as a holistic way to sprint back to good health following minor injuries.
In the 2010 Winter Olympics, one in every ten athletes sustained an injury, said a report in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, with the most common ailments being bruising, torn ligaments and muscular strain.
Well known sports personalities are among the six million users of homeopathy in the UK (1), including soccer star David Beckham, tennis stars Boris Becker and Martina Navratilova, and rugby player Will Greenwood.
Homeopathic medicines (known as remedies) have long been used to treat simple sports-related problems, the most well known being Arnica, traditionally used for bruising and muscular soreness. Ruta is commonly used in sprains and strains – either as a cream or in tablet form.
Research studies investigating the effects of Arnica have had mixed results; those which have shown a positive effect include a placebo-controlled trial which found that a cream containing 14 homeopathic medicines (including Arnica) was effective for treating sprained ankles (2). Other studies have also suggested that Arnica can have an anti-inflammatory effect (3) and reduce bruising (4), which may help to explain why so many people choose to use this homeopathic remedy for common injuries.
Homeopathic medicine is based on treating the individual with specially prepared, highly diluted substances given mainly in tablet form, with the aim of triggering the body’s natural system of healing. Based on their specific symptoms, a homeopath will match the most appropriate remedy to each patient.
Remedy selection is based on the principle of “like treats like” – that is, a substance which causes symptoms when taken in large doses, can be used in small amounts to treat those same symptoms. This principle is sometimes used in conventional medicine e.g. small doses of allergens such as pollen being used to de-sensitise allergic patients.
One major advantage of homeopathic medicines is that they are non-toxic due to their method of preparation which involves a process of serial dilution and succussion (vigorous shaking).
While underlying chronic symptoms are best seen by a qualified professional homeopath registered with the Society of Homeopaths, minor injuries and ailments can be treated at home using over the counter remedies.
Scientific research evidence for homeopathic medicine is growing. For example, a comprehensive and academically authoritative report commissioned by the Swiss government to assess the potential value of homeopathy, has concluded that homeopathy is clinically effective, cost-effective and safe. These findings have lead to inclusion of homeopathy in the Swiss national health insurance scheme. (5)
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1. Professor Woods of the MHRA, response to Q211, House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy (London: The Stationery Office Limited, 2010), p. Ev 70
2. Zell J, Connert WD, Mau J, Feuerstake G. Treatment of acute sprains of the ankle. Controlled double-blind trial to test the effectiveness of a homeopathic ointment. Fortschr Med, 1988; 106: 96-1003.
3. Karow J-H,, et. al. Efficacy of Arnica montana D4 for Healing of Wounds After Hallux Valgus Surgery Compared to Diclofenac. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2008; 14(1): 17-25
4. Brook M, et al, Effect of homeopathic Arnica Montana on bruising in face-lifts – results of a randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, 2006; 8(1)
5. ‘Homeopathy in Healthcare: Effectiveness, Appropriateness, Safety, Costs’ by Gudrun Bornhöft and Peter F. Matthiessen (Editors). 2011. ISBN 978-3-642-20637-5