In your view then, is the integration of homeopathy within public healthcare systems the answer for homeopathy, for our sustainability? Is this the future of homeopathy?
This question you’re asking is the fundamental question for all of us. Is integration the future? I don’t know if it’s the future, but I know that without it, there is no future. I think that the way we began practicing homeopathy years ago – in a parallel world where everything is homeopathic, where patients don’t get vaccinated and they’re eating organic food, but then they don’t have access to a homeopath at night or on the weekends – is not destined to survive on its own, at least not in Europe.
Why do you think that is?
There are many challenges on the horizon right now. In all of Europe, there is a lack of youth who are interested in learning homeopathy. The medical schools are increasingly focused on technical knowledge rather than cultivating a humanistic perspective, which is necessary in homeopathy. Second, there have been massive denigration campaigns across Europe and the United States, along with initiatives aimed at limiting access to remedies. Third, there is a lack of research, especially on the mechanism of action of homeopathic remedies, which strengthens our critics. Many homeopaths are not interested in documenting their daily results, and this does not help us.
Recent developments in homeopathy haven’t facilitated our outreach to potential students either. Many homeopaths spend time sharing success cases with small or unknown remedies or with what I call “artistic” prescriptions. Those of us who have been doing this work a long time know that you need more than imagination (but rather, a huge amount of study) behind what you do. In recent years, we’ve also seen an esoteric wave based on interpretation with minimal proving data, with prescriptions relying on remedy “signatures” rather than experimentation. If this doesn’t push people away, it certainly doesn’t help to attract them to homeopathy.
Still, even in this worrisome situation, you have made impressive progress, at least in the Italian context. Does that make you even slightly optimistic about the potential of homeopathy globally?
If we’re talking about homeopathy like I knew and practiced it many years ago, I’m pessimistic. The number of practitioners interested in it and patients seeking it out is dwindling. I think we need to broaden our horizons and find ways to integrate and include ourselves – even as we preserve homeopathy’s priorities – within a dialogue with the public healthcare system.
Because there are many active and powerful forces working against homeopathy, in part due to errors and inadequacies in our own sector, I think we must all work together on common goals. One of these is integration through models like Tuscany’s or others, depending on what makes sense in each context. For example, there is an integrative oncology clinic in Northern Italy, in Merano, that is influenced by German methods and uses many different systems of homeopathy with success. It’s different from what we’re doing but it’s working.
Because of all the work we’ve done, and because homeopathy is an efficient and sustainable medicine, the system we’ve built in the past twenty years here in Tuscany has a strong probability of staying. We are working especially for this, to leave a legacy.
Each territory must find its own specificity, but we must do this within a common journey of integration, research, and scientific validation of results that is greater than what we have done so far. If we can understand and embrace this, then I can say I’m quite optimistic about the future of homeopathy.
Notes Region of Tuscany, Regional Law No. 9, 2007: “Regulation of the practice of complementary medicine on the part of medical doctors, dentists, veterinary doctors and pharmacists.”  An example of these informational campaigns for the general public was launched by the Region of Tuscany in October and November 2005. Its goal was to inform citizens about the integration of three CM therapies (acupuncture, homeopathy and herbal medicine) within the regional health system. Citizens were encouraged to call a free number for more information and hundreds of phone calls came in. Incidentally, this happened the day following the Lancet’s publication of Shang’s meta-analysis declaring “the end of homeopathy,” which was reported on the front pages of newspapers in Italy and around the world. Timing would have it that Tuscany was responding with more than 2,000 posters appearing all over cities in the region: “For allergies, now you can choose. Including homeopathy, if you want. Just call this free number…”  The Region of Tuscany’s newsletter on complementary medicines can be found at http://www.regione.toscana.it/cittadini/salute/medicine-complementari  Agreement between the State and the Regions and Autonomous Provinces regarding “National rules for education in complementary medicine” (2013). The agreement defines the training and accreditation of complementary medicine professionals and educational institutions and provides for the establishment of lists of CM professionals who practice acupuncture, herbal medicine, and homeopathy. Those wishing to register must have a certificate issued by accredited public and private training centers and must have completed a course of no less than 500 training hours, including 100 hours of clinical practice, after having passed a theoretical and practical exam and discussed a thesis. Courses for medical doctors cannot last less than 3 years.
Linda V. Nurra, Ph.D.
Linda Nurra is an independent scholar and homeopath-in-training with the School of Homeopathy (UK). She has a background in humanities, with a focus on linguistics and semiotics. Her past work includes university teaching, corporate training and management, and higher education administration. She has translated, edited, authored and co-authored publications in semiotics and homeopathy.