Over The Counter Homeopathy is bad for the homeopaths..

Posted on January 25, 2010

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I have just read Dr* T’s interesting blog post on  Why homeopaths should support the 10:23 campaign and he presents a very good argument.  It got me looking at how homeopathic remedies are sold by the likes of Boots pharmacies compared to the way a trained homeopath would prescribe them.

Homeopaths claim to treat the person, not the illness.  They make claims about the individual nature of the treatment. The Society of Homeopaths website makes the following statements:

“Patients are treated as individuals, not as a collection of disease labels.”
“To stimulate your body’s own healing process, a remedy closest to your individual symptom picture is prescribed”
“Homeopathy treats the person, there is some evidence to suggest it can help a person manage the symptoms of ………”
“Homeopathic medicines are chosen to treat the whole person”
“Medicines are chosen to fit all the characteristics of the patient, so physical disorders are considered in relation to the individual’s mental and emotional state.”


These sort of claims are repeated on practically every homeopath website.  Homeopaths go to great lengths to stress the individual nature of any course of treatment and claim this to be a vital part of the way homeopathy works.  However it would appear that homeopaths are prepared to ignore this aspect of their profession when it suits their argument!

For the moment let’s ignore the fact that homeopathy doesn’t work, no matter who hands out the sugar.  If trained homeopaths need to fully evaluate the physical, mental and emotional state of a patient, I can see how they could claim to offer remedies in doses designed to meet the needs of the individual patient.  Boots on the other hand have a small flip chart, where customers look up their symptoms and choose the suggested remedy.

This hardly counts as an ‘individualised’ course of treatment.  This prompted me to look at the list of remedies available on Boots website and the suggested dosage.

It would appear that over the counter homeopathy available from Boots, suggest a ‘1 dose fits all’ dosage level.  This advice of 2 pills every 2 hours etc, is repeated on every remedy I could find, regardless of potency ( 30C or 6C) and regardless of manufacturer (Boots or Nelsons)

How to Use
2 pillules every 2 hours for the first 6 doses, then 4 times daily for up to 5 days or until symptoms improve

This dosage guidance is repeated for all of the following remedies:

Boots Rhus Tox. 30c     Boots Bellandonna 30c      Boots Nux. Vom. 30c     Boots Sepia 30c     Boots Pulsatilla 30c     Boots Arsen. alb. 30c     Boots Heph Sulph 30c     Boots Aconite 30c     Boots Argent nit 30c     Boots Heph Sulph 30c Nelsons Lycopodium 30c     Nelsons Bryonia 30c     Nelsons Thuja 30c     Nelsons Kali Bich 30c     Nelsons Kali Phos 30c Nelsons Euphrasia 30c     Nelsons Arnica 30c     Nelsons Apis Mel 30c Boots Chamomilla 6c     Boots Thuja 6c     Boots Nux Vom 6c     Nelsons Arnica 6c

Homeopathic organisations continually talk about wanting recognition and regulation for their profession, they want NHS funding to continue, so it seems a total contradiction that they should also want the public to have the option self prescribe, without the need for any involvement from a trained homeopath.

For a homeopath to support the sale of remedies by non homeopaths is to admit that there is no need for a homeopath!

The Society of Homeopaths publishes a Code of Ethics that is expects all it’s members to adhere to.  That Code of Ethics requires homeopaths to keep patient records and case notes. The Code of Ethics contains statements such as:

(For Case Notes) A record of medication of any kind taken by the patient, including the names and addresses of the prescriber if available;

20 ………. It may be necessary to decline to provide or terminate existing treatment, where it is thought to be in the best interests of the patient, for any reason.

32 The Society recognises that the optimum situation for the patient is one where the homeopath and the patient’s GP establish a sound, open, co-operative and professional relationship, each recognising the health care benefits the other has to offer the patient within the bounds of their legal and ethical responsibilities and competencies.

>  The above statement alone shows that the SoH recognise that self prescribing with over the counter remedies is not the optimum situation for a patient!

Legal Obligations:
58 To inform patients about the nature of homeopathic treatment, before that treatment begins.

> I’ve spoken to 2 Boots pharmacists recently, neither of them had any idea about homeopathy, nor were they able to offer any relevant advice!

An independent individual who is not bound by a professional code of conduct may behave (subject to criminal and civil law) as he or she pleases when dealing with the public, regardless of the interests of patients or the reputation of the profession as a whole.

>  Obviously pharmacists are covered by their own professional code of conduct, but that code does not cover the reputation of the (homeopathic) profession!

None of that applies to a customer self prescribing homeopathic remedies purchased over the counter at Boots.  In supporting ‘over the counter’ sales of homeopathic remedies they are disregarding many of the disciplines required by their own Code of Ethics.

Clearly homeopaths will never support the taking of an overdose to show how pathetically ineffective homeopathic remedies are, but in taking actions such as this Homepaths open letter to Boots urging them to keep selling homeopathic products, they actually present a very good argument for not seeing a homeopath!

So to me it seems pretty clear that homeopaths should support the drive to have homeopathic products withdrawn from Boots shelves and indeed withdrawn from any retail outlets (health food shops etc) where they are not being prescribed by a trained homeopath.  I fail to see how any homeopath can support the open, unregulated sale of their products whilst maintaining the view that the role of the trained homeopath is essential to the ‘holistic’ approach!

If you’ve not already done so, I urge you to read Dr* T’s Why homeopaths should support the 10:23 campaign blog post!

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Posted in: Homeopathy