Did you know…?

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Did you know that:

  • Celebrities such as Paul McCartney, David Beckham, Twiggy, Caprice, Susan Hampshire, Tina Turner, Louise Jameson, Gaby Roslin, Jude Law, Sadie Frost, Nadia Sawalha, Jennifer Aniston, Jade Jagger, Roger Daltry, Annabel Croft and Meera Syal, as well as The Queen and Prince Charles, are all users of homeopathy.
  • An estimated 5.75million people a year in the UK go to see a complementary practitioner for treatment and it has been estimated that one in four members of the public would like to access complementary medicine on the National Health Service.(1)
  • In a survey conducted by One Poll, 78 per cent said they would like to access both conventional and complementary treatment on the NHS. (2)
  • In April 2007, Mintel published research on complementary medicines which showed that public interest in the UK was growing. Over-the-counter homeopathic treatments, such as arnica cream, had seen a 24 per cent growth over a five year period from 2002-2007.(3)
  • Homeopathy is the most frequently used CAM therapy in five out of 16 surveyed countries in Europe and among the three most frequently used in 11 out of 16 surveyed countries.(4)
  • In India, alternative treatments, including homeopathy, are well established and integrated into the healthcare system, with 94 per cent of people saying that they have faith in alternative remedies, and 62 per cent trusting homeopathy.(5)
  • In 2000, a House of Lords Select Committee report on Complementary and Alternative Medicine listed homeopathy as a “group one” therapy, along with osteopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture and herbal medicine. Group one therapies are recognised as having their own diagnostic approach and treatment methods. (6)
  • People with long-term chronic illness are most likely to use CAM,(7) most commonly seeking treatment for musculoskeletal problems, stress relief, anxiety and depression.(8,9)

Research evidence:

  • Up to date research evidence shows that of the 134 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of homeopathy published in peer-reviewed journals, 59 are positive (that is, demonstrating that homeopathy has an effect beyond placebo), eight trials are negative, and the remaining 67 are inconclusive.(10) This is despite the fact that researchers in the field suggest RCTs are not the best research tool to test homeopathy or any other individualised treatment.(11) New research models are being developed to better reflect homeopathic clinical practice.
  • In 2005, the largest service evaluation of homeopathic treatment reported that 70 per cent of 6,500 follow-up patients experienced improvement in their health. Eczema, asthma, migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, depression and chronic fatigue improved.(12)
  • A study over one month in 2007, looking at a total of 1,602 patients seen at follow-up appointments in all five UK NHS homeopathic hospitals, found that eczema was currently the most common referral to homeopathy by NHS doctors.Other commonly treated complaints were chronic fatigue, menopausal disorder and osteoarthritis.(13)
  • Dr David Reilly and his team at Glasgow University have conducted four double blind placebo controlled trials, carried out over a period of 18 years, specifically designed to examine the evidence for the hypothesis that any benefits of homeopathy are due to the placebo effect. All four trials involving a total of 252 patients have produced similar, positive results demonstrating that homeopathy has an effect greater than placebo and that these results are reproducible.(14)

Professional homeopaths:

  • The Society of Homeopaths membership is growing year on year, with 1,400 members currently registered. The most frequent source of new patients is via “word of mouth” (Membership survey 2006).
  • Homeopaths come from all walks of life and in the main have re-trained after learning about the benefits of homeopathy following an illness suffered by themselves or close family members.
  • The Society of Homeopaths register includes members who were previously accountants, lawyers, journalists, teachers, pharmacists, nurses, bankers and chemists.
  • 65 per cent are aged between 35 and 54, and 81 per cent are women. 69 per cent practice part-time, 43 per cent have an additional paid occupation, and 56 per cent saw patients from a home clinic.(15)

Homeopathy on the NHS:

  • Homeopathy has been available on the NHS since 1948.
  • There are 4 NHS funded homeopathic hospitals in the UK. The largest, the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital treats around 2,000 patients per week.
  • In 2005, a report commissioned by Prince Charles and carried out by economist Christopher Smallwood found that following a pilot study where patients were treated with complementary and alternative medicines there was a 30 per cent drop in the number of consultations with GPs and a saving in prescription drugs bills of 50 per cent.(16)
  • Many MPs support homeopathy. In 2007, 206 MPs signed an Early Day Motion welcoming the contribution of homeopathy to NHS healthcare.
  • Registered members of The Society of Homeopaths have been integrating homeopathy with conventional healthcare in clinic projects nationwide, and some are working in specialised services in the NHS.

References:

(1) Thomas K & Coleman P. Use of complementary or alternative medicine in a general population in Great Britain. Results from the National Omnibus survey. Journal of Public Health, 2004; 26(2): 152-7.

(2) Homeopathy – UK, One Poll January 2009.

(3) Complementary Medicines – UK, Mintel April 2007.

(4) Alternativ Medisin. Norges offentlige utredninger (NOU) 1998: 21. (Alternative Medicine. Norway’s government publications. Report published by the Norwegian Department of Health.)

(5) Global TGI Barometer, January 2008; Issue 33.

(6) House of Lords Select Committee. Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 2000.

(7) Ernst E. Complementary Medicine. PDS information sheet FS35. Parkinsons Disease Society, 2003.

(8) Thomas K, et al. Use and expenditure on complementary medicine in England: a population based survey. Complement Therapies in Medicine, 2001; 9(1):2-11.

(9) Ong C-K & Banks B. Complementary and alternative medicine; the consumer perspective. The Prince of Wales’s Foundation for Integrated Health Occasional Papers, No. 2, 2003.

(10) Mathie R. The research evidence base for homeopathy: a fresh assessment of the literature. Homeopathy, 2003; 92: 84-91.

(11) Weatherley-Jones E, Thompson E & Thomas K. The placebo-controlled trial as a test of complementary and alternative medicine: observations from research experience of individualised homeopathic treatment. Homeopathy, 2004; 93: 186-9.

(12) Spence D, Thompson E and Barron S. Homeopathic treatment for chronic disease: A 6-Year, university-hospital outpatient observational study. J Altern Complement Med 2005; 5: 793-8.

(13) Thompson E, Mathie R, Baitson E, et al. Towards standard setting for patient-reported outcomes in the NHS homeopathic hospitals. Homeopathy, 2008; 97(3): 114-121.

(14) Reilly D. The Evidence For Homeopathy. Article version 5.5, January 2003.

(15) The Society of Homeopaths National Service Evaluation. Leaflet issued with The Homeopath, 2006; 25 (2).

(16) Smallwood, C. The Role of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the NHS. Research commissioned by HRH Prince of Wales. FreshMinds, October 2005, p.56.