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Here you can find news about developments in Europe that are important for homeopathy, news from the European homeopathic community and from the ECH itself

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Growing interest in the use of homeopathy in farm animals

On 14 March an event took place at the Scottish Parliament to raise awareness of the role homeopathy could play in cleaning up the food chain, by replacing, and therefore reducing the use of, antibiotics.

The event was hosted by Jim Eadie, Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) and attended by several MSPs as well as representatives from across the homeopathic community. An assembled audience of MSPs, farmers, vets and representatives of the homeopathy profession heard from Geoff Johnson, a member of the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons. He spoke about ways in which vets in the United Kingdom have successfully integrated homeopathy into veterinary practice and quoted from a growing number of research trials demonstrating homeopathy’s effectiveness in conditions such as mastitis in dairy cattle, stillbirth in pigs, salmonella in chickens and helminth parasitism in sheep.

Political interest in this issue has been heightened since the announcement late last year that the EU is funding a research project investigating how homeopathy can be used to treat farm animals and reduce the use of antibiotics. The project intends to coordinate research on the use of homeopathy and phytotherapy in livestock farming, in line with the motion for a resolution on antibiotic resistance in which the European Parliament called for the use of antibiotics in livestock farming to be reduced and for alternative methods to be used; such methods include the use of homeopathy and phytotherapy.

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Review shows an increasing use of CAM

A systematic review by a research group from Austria and the USA demonstrates that the interest in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has increased during the past decade and the attitude of the general public is mainly positive.

The studies examined 10 different countries, including Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Great Britain, Canada, USA, Australia and South Korea. Between 5% and 74.8% of the population uses CAM, the average prevalence being 32.2%. The data also demonstrate an increase of CAM usage from 1990 through 2006 in all countries investigated. For instance in Germany surveys show a steady increase of CAM utilization since 1970. In 1970 about 14% of respondents had used some form of CAM over the past 3 months; this amount doubled to 28% in 1997 and ascended to 34% in 2002.

The authors found a higher utilization of homeopathy and acupuncture in German-speaking countries. The data demonstrate that chiropractic manipulation, herbal medicine, massage, and homeopathy were the therapies most commonly used by the general population. More users were women, middle aged, and more educated. CAM users have more active coping styles and are more interested in making treatment decisions.

The ailments most often associated with CAM utilization included back pain or pathology, depression, insomnia, severe headache or migraine, and stomach or intestinal illnesses. Medical students were the most critical toward CAM. Compared to students of other professions (ie, nursing students: 44.7%, pharmacy students: 18.2%), medical students reported the least consultation with a CAM practitioner (10%).

In most countries, CAM is not covered by national insurance systems, and users pay almost all costs out of pocket. This willingness to pay reflects the public’s general acceptance of CAM and also suggests that CAM therapies have benefits that outweigh their costs.

The authors cite several other studies which concluded that the large majority of physicians had received no education in CAM but did want some education on the subject. Although knowledge levels were low, half of physicians believed in the efficacy of CAM. A majority felt that CAM should be taught as a topic course during a medical student’s training (medical students 84%, GPs 75%, hospital doctors 60%).

Another study examined the reasons for communication gaps between physicians and patients about CAM and found that patients and physicians had different reasons for nondisclosure. Physicians believed that patients felt CAM discussions were unimportant and physicians would not understand, discontinue treatment, discourage or disapprove of the use. Patients attributed nondisclosure to their uncertainty of its benefit and never being asked about CAM. The authors of another study concluded that more than half the physicians (63%) stated that the patient initiated the discussion about benefits and risks of CAM therapy.

Frass M, Strassl RP, Friehs H, Müllner M, Kundi M, Kaye AD (2012) Use and acceptance of complementary and alternative medicine among the general population and medical personnel: a systematic review. Ochsner Journal, 12:45-56.[PubMed]

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HTA report positive for homeopathy

“In conclusion we have established that there is sufficient supporting evidence for the pre-clinical (experimental) as well as clinical effects of homeopathy, and that in absolute terms, as well as when compared to conventional therapies, it offers a safe and cost-effective treatment.” This is the conclusion of a Health Technology Assessment (HTA) report on the effectiveness, appropriateness, safety and costs of homeopathy in health care.

The report, published under the title "Homeopathy in Europe - Effectiveness, Appropriateness, Safety, Costs", was commissioned by the Swiss health authorities to inform decision-making on the further inclusion of homeopathy in the list of services covered by statutory health insurance. Other studies carried out as part of the Swiss Complementary Medicine Evaluation Programme (PEK) caused a massive stir due to their schematic and exclusively quantitative (negative-) outcomes for homeopathy. The present report, in contrast, offers a differentiated evaluation of the practice of homeopathy in health care. It confirms homeopathy as a valuable addition to the conventional medical landscape – a status it has been holding for a long time in practical health care.

The book can now be ordered at Springer Publishers, Amazon UK and Germany. The book is expected to be available as an e-book as well.

At the Springer website you can have a detailed look into the contents and buy PDFs of individual chapters.

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Swedish court rules: 'Doctors can recommend homeopathy'.

The Supreme Administrative Court has recently ruled that Swedish doctors can openly recommend homeopathy to their patients. Until recently homeopathy had not been accepted by the Swedish health authorities as an official therapeutic approach, and doctors in Sweden were not allowed to prescribe homeopathic medicines.

The court case began several years ago when a medical doctor, who was trained in homeopathy in the UK and used this therapy in his practice, was put on probation by the Medical Responsibility Board (Hälso- och Sjukvårdens AnsvarsNämnd - HSAN). The doctor appealed the decision on the grounds that he just used homeopathy when the patient requested it and only when conventional treatment had turned out to be ineffective. After being sentenced in two lower courts, he was forbidden to use homeopathy. The verdict claimed that homeopathy is unscientific, thus ignoring the growing evidence base of the effectiveness of homeopathy.

Just recently, after years of discrimination against him and his patients, his case came at last to the highest court. This court decided that patients were not exposed to any danger and the doctor had used scientific knowledge when it was necessary.

The implications of this decision are that from now on qualified medical personnel are allowed to use homeopathy. The verdict has already led to much publicity in Sweden and a rapidly increasing interest in homeopathy and other complementary therapies.

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Doctor Patricia Le Roux has passed away

On 17 October 2011 Doctor Patricia Le Roux, in the full bloom of her life, passed away after a terrible traffic accident in Paris. Her death leaves a huge gap in the homeopathic community.

Patricia Le RouxAn expert homeopathic paediatrician, she had a busy practice and worked in the emergency ward of the Hôpital de la Timone in Marseille. In her practice she was adored by her children-patients and their parents for her love, dedication, thoughtfulness and expertise.

Dr Le Roux served many years on the ECH Council as General Secretary and on the Board of the French Syndicat National des Medecins Homéopathes Français. She was coordinator of the Groupement des Pédiatres Homéopathes d’Expression Française and in that capacity organised seminars and congresses in paediatrics. Within the Société Savante d’Homéopathie she was able to bring the various homeopathic schools together and make them agree on a common educational programme.

She participated in the work of the Hahnemannian school of Fréjus, directed by Dr Didier Grandgeorge who was her teacher during her training at university. Later on she worked with a group of homeopathic doctors, the Collègues Homéopathes Unicistes Marseillais studying materia medica, became a teacher herself and gave lectures in various countries in the world. She was also a prolific writer of books on homeopathic practice, many of them translated into English and German.

She was not only a dedicated homeopathic doctor, teacher and writer. She had a great musical talent, studied music, was a gifted flute player and participated in a chamber orchestra. She shared her love for music with the members of the Massalia Consort choir which she founded and conducted. She was an all-round personality, had a truly European background, having a Scottish mother, a French father and an Italian grandmother. She was a polyglot, spoke French, English, Italian and German.

And amidst her hectic professional life, all her love, her protection and her wisdom went to her family and her four children. As one of our colleagues so rightly said, simplicity, dignity and empathy were the qualities that touched everyone who has known her.

Our community extend our thoughts to her family, her children, her parents. We wish them strength for the time to come where they will have to cope with this enormous loss.

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