Homeopathy – the scientific enigma

Solving the scientific puzzle will pave the way for recognition of homeopathy by the European health systems

Although it’s still not clear how homeopathy works, recent developments in the fields of nano-particles and electromagnetic fields are opening new paths of research into the mechanisms of high dilutions. Coming to terms with the working mechanisms of homeopathic medicine remains the biggest challenge both for basic and clinical research.

In Europe, two international organisations are managing the interests of homeopathic practitioners. The European Committee for Homeopathy (ECH) represents medical doctors specialized in homeopathy, and The European Central Council of Homeopaths (ECCH) is the professional platform for practitioners who are not medical doctors.

Being part of the Advisory Board, the two organisations have been working closely together with CAMbrella since the beginning of 2010. They both think that the CAM field in Europe will benefit from the CAMbrella findings in terms of raising awareness to the urgent need for further and more CAM research – and thus indirectly increase the focus on the potentials of homeopathy.

The organisations are represented by Dr Ton Nicolai, president, European Committee for Homeopathy (ECH) and Stephen Gordon, General Secretary, European Central Council of Homeopaths (ECCH).

Common goals

ECH and ECCH have been cooperating for twenty years and are involved in European political affairs within a wider platform of European CAM umbrella organisations. The common goals regarding the CAM community in general have been more important than the differences regarding professional interests. And not least, the accessibility of homeopathic medicines is an issue of common interest.

Towards the integration of homeopathy into health care systems

As Stephen Gordon puts it: “The major challenge for ECCH is to get homeopathy recognized as a reliable medical system, and also I find it important, that non-medical practitioners will be taken more seriously by the European governments. In the future, homeopathy should be more integrated into the European health systems, and we think that proving its cost-effectiveness is an important factor.”

And with regard to the Advisory Board of CAMbrella he adds: “We joined CAMbrella because it looked like a very interesting project, and because we find it important that non-medical practitioners are represented in the Advisory Board. As CAM is being provided by medical doctors in the majority of the participating countries, it is important that we don’t exclude the perspective of the non-medical practitioners in countries like Finland Norway, Denmark, Sweden Ireland, The Netherlands, Germany and the UK.”

The outcome of CAMbrella can serve as a benchmark

Ton Nicolai underlines the potential impact of CAMbrella on the political level, in Brussels as well as at a national level: “As the first documents on CAM in Europe generated on an European level, the outcome of CAMbrella can serve as a benchmark, and we hope that in the future homeopathy will gain more recognition by the European health authorities and have a less controversial image. In this sense, homeopathy may even benefit more than other CAM modalities from the work of CAMbrella. The biggest challenge for us is the fact that so far the evidence base of homeopathy is dismissed by a vociferous group of hardliners inside and outside the scientific community. The attitude seems to be ‘because we cannot understand how it works, we don’t trust the evidence’. Some other CAM methods, whose supposed working mechanism seems to be more plausible, are more easily accepted than homeopathy”.

The ECH represents all medical doctors specialized in homeopathy, organized in 40 associations in 25 European countries.

It is aimed at:

– promoting the scientific development of homeopathy

– ensuring high standards in the education, training and practice of homeopathy by medical doctors

– harmonising professional standards in homeopathic practice across Europe

– providing high-quality homeopathic care in a medical context

– integrating high-quality homeopathy into European healthcare.

The ECH has several subcommittees involving delegates from affiliated associations and teaching centres as well as other professionals such as researchers, documentalists and pharmacists whose expert input helps to enhance the scientific basis of homeopathy.

Further information:

Network of experts

ECCH’s vision is to ensure access for all European citizens to high quality homeopathic treatment provided by highly skilled homeopaths, prescribing high quality homeopathic remedies. ECCH currently represents the interests of 26 national associations of homeopaths in 24 European countries. ECCH has also established a network of researchers, a network of experts on homeopathic pharmacy and a network of experts on homeopathy education.

The organisation focuses its representational activities within the boundaries of Europe as well as specifically with the European Union. ECCH has NGO Participative status within the Council of Europe, is an active Member of the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), is an active participant in the EUROCAM stakeholder group and is a Corresponding Member of the European Coalition for Homeopathic and Anthroposophic Medicinal Products (ECHAMP).

The members of ECCH also make up the European membership of the International Council for Homeopathy that also includes member associations from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the USA.

Further information:

Text: Jesper Odde Madsen