What are the benefits of homeopathy

Effective or placebo? Pros and cons of homeopathy

Status: 03/21/2020 5:22 p.m.
The effectiveness of homeopathy is hotly debated.

Homeopathic globules are popular in Germany: every second person has tried the medicine before. And many who resort to the small globules or drops and ointments are satisfied with it. Many parents also trust homeopathics when it comes to their children's ailments. The globules can be used in a variety of ways: They are supposed to help with flu-like infections, toothache and even otitis media, for example. The pharmaceuticals in Germany generate annual sales of 670 million euros.

What does the placebo effect do?

According to numerous scientists, homeopathy only works in the context of the placebo effect. This effect has been well documented in research. It describes the soothing or healing effect of a drug that does not contain any active ingredient. But not only the administration of the alleged drug has an influence on the effect. The attention of the doctor and personal previous experience also play a role in whether the sham drug has an effect or not.

Time and sympathy: detailed initial discussion

The behavior of the doctor or therapist has a major influence on the success of a therapy. If he takes enough time and feels that the patient is being taken seriously, this can have a positive effect on the success of a treatment. An initial homeopathic consultation usually lasts about an hour, during which the doctor or therapist also asks questions about family or work, for example. Homeopathic doctors can take more time for discussions than traditional general practitioners because many health insurances reimburse their services separately through so-called selective contracts.

Do health insurance companies pay for marketing reasons?

Numerous health insurance companies openly admit that they pay for homeopathic treatments and medicines because their patients so wish. The costs are usually only a fraction of your total expenditure. From a marketing point of view, assuming the cost of homeopathy treatments is a cheap way to retain customers.

Homeopathy is part of the "special direction of therapy"

Homeopathy is part of the "special direction of therapy" in Germany and thus enjoys a special role. Homeopathic medicines are not subject to the same legal requirements as other medicines. Most homeopathic substances do not have to be approved, only registered. In this context, the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) checks whether the drugs have been manufactured according to the specifications of the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia and whether the manufacturer can prove their quality and harmlessness.

Proof of effectiveness is not required. Even if homeopathic medicines go through an approval process, the manufacturers do not have to submit studies on their effectiveness. So far, no homeopathic remedy has been approved by the BfArM for which the applicant would have referred to a study.

Special role also in terms of reimbursement

But homeopathy also has a special role when it comes to reimbursement. According to the law, health insurance companies are allowed to reimburse drugs of the "special therapy direction", including homeopathic remedies, on a voluntary basis. The health insurers may, for example, pay for homeopathic pain relievers or homeopathic remedies for hay fever. Many do that too. However, no health insurance fund pays voluntarily for regular pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen or for classic hay fever remedies.

While the health insurance companies are allowed to pay for any homeopathic remedy, numerous restrictions apply to the classic remedies. According to the law, health insurance companies are not allowed to pay for regular flu drugs or conventional drugs against travel sickness. Exceptions that do not apply to homeopathic remedies.

Homeopathy under fire

Opponents of homeopathy complain that the general public has to pay for homeopathic treatments and medicines, even though it is not an evidence-based healing method. Money that would be missing elsewhere. Proponents counter that homeopathy helps many people and the costs are manageable.

In Germany, doctors can receive further training in homeopathy. Many medical associations are increasingly questioning this practice because of the lack of scientific knowledge. The medical associations of Bremen, North Rhine and Saxony-Anhalt have already banned homeopathy from their training regulations.

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The tricks | 03/23/2020 | 9:00 p.m.