What is it?
Homeopathy is a system of alternative medicine which involves treatment with very diluted substances. People who practice this type of medicine are called 'homeopaths'.
How does it work?
Homeopathy tries to help the body restore itself to health. Rather than seeing a person's symptoms as something to be removed, it sees them as a sign of how the body is helping itself. Homeopaths use substances that produce the same symptoms to further stimulate the body's healing. These substances are diluted in alcohol many times over, until there is little or none of the substance left in the alcohol. The resulting tincture is taken as a medicine. Homeopathic treatments are selected to fit each individual, so that different people with depression may not receive the same treatment.
Is it effective?
There is very little scientific evidence on homeopathy for the treatment of depression. One study treated menopausal women who were depressed with either a placebo (dummy pill), a standard antidepressant or homeopathic remedy. Women who received the homeopathic remedy had a reduction in symptoms similar to those who received the antidepressant medication, and both treatments were more effective than the placebo. In general however, the majority of studies which have looked at the effectiveness of homeopathy are of poor quality, and more studies of better quality are needed.
Are there any disadvantages?
There is a cost associated with homeopathic remedies that is not covered by Medicare. No other disadvantages are known.
Where do you get it?
Homeopaths are listed in the Yellow Pages.
Given the lack of evidence on homeopathy, it cannot be recommended as a treatment for depression.
- Davidson, J. R., Crawford, C., Ives, J. A., & Jonas, W. B. (2011). Homeopathic treatments in psychiatry: a systematic review of randomized placebo-controlled studies. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 72(6), 795-805.
- Macias-Cortes Edel, C., Llanes-Gonzalez, L., Aguilar-Faisal, L., & Asbun-Bojalil, J. (2015). Individualized homeopathic treatment and fluoxetine for moderate to severe depression in peri- and postmenopausal women (HOMDEP-MENOP study): a randomized, double-dummy, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. PLoS One, 10(3), e0118440.
- Pilkington, K., Kirkwood, G., Rampes, H., Fisher, P., & Richardson, J. (2005). Homeopathy for depression: a systematic review of the research evidence. Homeopathy, 94(3), 153-163.
Last reviewed and updated: 1 December 2016