What is it?
Homeopathy (from the Greek words meaning similar suffering) is based on the idea of treating like with like. So for a hot, swollen and tender joint a homeopath might prescribe you a remedy made from bee-sting venom, which can cause hot, tender swelling. The controversial aspect of homeopathy is its use of extremely dilute medicines (sometimes called remedies).
Homeopaths often advise changes in lifestyle, which could include changing your diet, more relaxation or exercise.
Two randomised controlled trials have suggested that homeopathy may be effective in reducing the number of tender points and the level of pain in fibromyalgia, although the evidence isn’t conclusive. There is limited evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathy in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. However, some people do report that their pain and symptoms are eased by homeopathic remedies.
Read more about the trials.
Is it safe?
Homeopathy is generally safe, although sometimes the right medicine can cause an ‘aggravation’ – a temporary flare-up of symptoms. However, this is usually seen as a good sign. Allergic reactions (e.g. a rash) have been reported in some cases.
Dosage hasn’t been well studied. You should follow the dosage recommended by the homeopath or the homeopathic pharmaceutical company.