For hundreds of years, homeopathic remedies using plant, animal and even minerals (like mercury to clean the bowels) have been used to treat bodily ills. Loosely defined, homeopathic remedies are often created to stimulate the symptoms of the illness rather than suppress the symptoms like conventional medications do. Despite those who use and promote homeopathic remedies claiming their value, most of the medical community and even the government are not in agreement. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is responsible for overseeing homeopathic medications made available to the public. However, according to a Consumer Reports investigation and interviews, the FDA neither reviews those products nor does the FDA approve homeopathic medications as safe or even effective. What’s been found is that the homeopathic medications are so diluted that the FDA concluded that they pose little direct risk to the user if used as directed.
In recent years, Zicam was blasted for adding “homeopathic” to a seasonal allergy nasal spray in a non-drowsy formula. Sold beside Zicam’s nasal spray made from conventional medication, consumers might not have noticed the small print indicating that one was a homeopathic medication. Oddly, even those who slam homeopathic remedies were surprised to see that the ingredients in Zicam’s homeopathic version were not as diluted as most homeopathic remedies and in fact, might work effectively. However, three separate studies conducted between 2000 and 2003 failed to conclusively prove that Zicam really helped.
Zicam isn’t the only homeopathic medication on the market. Zicam just gained public scrutiny with the issuance of multiple medical compounds in its over-the-counter medications. You have no doubt seen lots of homeopathic medications at your local drug store, grocery, or super center. Those might include herbal compounds like St. John’s Wart, Black Cohosh, Echinacea, Gingko Biloba, Evening Primrose, and others. Each has claims to help some bodily ailment. Manufacturers and promoters of homeopathic medications conduct their own studies to prove value of their product and the public is buying it.
If it is your desire to avoid taking homeopathic medications, the obvious thing to do when shopping for medications is to read the label. On the other hand, if you like or do not mind take homeopathic medications at least look for the HPUS notification on the label. HPUS stands for Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States. HPUS is a book is for pharmaceutical use and tells how to make medications; not just what’s in the medication, but the quantities and how to prepare/mix them. So with HPUS on the label of an over-the-counter medication, it is an official medication.
If you are using homeopathic medications be sure to let your physician know before taking any prescribed medications and before undergoing any medical treatments because the homeopathic medication could interfere with conventional medications and procedures.