In the News: Homeopathy or Naturopathy?

~ Dr. Sonya Nobbe, ND

You may have noticed the sudden increase in recent negative media attention to homeopathy. This urged a few of my patients to ask about the differences between homeopathy and naturopathy. Though both naturopathic medicine and homeopathy are unique and separate medical systems, the question is common and I’d like to clarify some misperceptions.

Homeopathy is a 200 year old medical system from Germany. It works on the principle of “like cures like”, which is the antithesis to the conventional medical philosophy founded on opposites. For example, eczema and psoriasis are common health conditions characterized by inflammation on the skin. What is it about the state of the immune, endocrine, and nervous systems, that allow scaling and redness to occur here? Older medical philosophies often view this inflammation as a manifestation of the body’s attempt to heal. If the body is an intelligent, self-healing unit, then the inflammation represents unsuccessful healing. If we support the body’s healing process so that it completes the job correctly, the eczema or psoriasis disappears. In other words, if we stimulate the body in a way similar to how it’s attempting to behave and heal, then the body will have the capacity to heal itself. “Like cure s like.”

The Western medical system frequently treats eczema and psoriasis with anti-inflammatories that block, rather than support, the inflammatory process. This is an approach of “opposites”. It effectively treats the symptom of skin inflammation, but frequent application of medication is required because the underlying cause is not addressed.

Naturopathic Doctors often apply this supportive, rather than inhibitory philosophy in their treatments. In their 7 plus years of post-secondary education, Naturopathic Doctors learn about multiple medical systems including homeopathy. We receive extensive training in Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture, botanical medicine, nutrition and diet, physical medicine, lifestyle counseling, and mainstream medicine. We are generalists like a family physician, who look at the whole picture, attempt to understand how all symptoms are connected, and support the underlying deficiency with our many tools so that the body can heal. Conversely, Homeopaths might be perceived as specialists in the field of homeopathy.

The media attention appears to be an outcry against recent government legislation regulating homeopaths for the first time. These regulations are expected to come into effect over the coming 2 years. By contrast, Naturopathic Medicine has been regulated for 85 years and Naturopathic Doctors share many of the same legally controlled acts as Medical Doctors.

Homeopathy is a wonderful medicine full of potential if used properly. Contrary to the opinion expressed on CBC Marketplace, homeopathy has a signficant body of clinical and laboratory scientific research supporting its efficacy that can be accessed by simply typing “homeopathy” into a standard PUB Med search. Homeopathy requires a significant amount of skill to be effective, which is why seeking support from a knowledgeable health practitioner is advised. It is generally a gentle and safe medicine ideal for children, adults who are sensitive to pharmaceuticals, people with mental health concerns, pre- and post-surgery states, and faster recovery from injury.