Complementary medicine

Last updated: February 07, 2020

3. Homeopathic medicine

Homeopathic pharmacy in India      
Courtesy of Jorge Ryan, Wikimedia Commons
The two main principles of homeopathic medicine are that:

  • ‘Like cures like’ – a patient’s symptoms are treated with a substance that could cause the same symptoms but only a tiny dose is used.

  • The more dilute a preparation, the more potent it is.

Plants yield most of the original ingredients in homeopathic medicines, but the solutions used are very, very dilute. Two systems of dilution exist for homeopathic remedies – decimal ('x') and centesimal ('c') – but the strengths 6c and 30c are common. It is worth noting that dilutions of more than 12c or 24x are unlikely to contain any molecules of the active ingredients.

There is no evidence that homeopathic medicines interact with conventional medications. In practice, if a homeopathic medicine is from a reputable source and the strength is stated, it is generally accepted that no interaction with conventional medicines, or any adverse effects, would be anticipated based on conventional beliefs. High concentration or unknown dilution products may, theoretically, contain active ingredient and could potentially interact with conventional medicines. Such situations should be treated as if dealing with a herbal product.

Hopefully, this short introduction to common types of complementary medicines and their safety has been useful. You might like to refresh your learning on Questions to Ask by clicking on the link below to return you to the Complementary Medicines first page.