Homeopathy: What It Is and What to Avoid During Pregnancy

Homeopathy is the treatment of disease, illness, or pain by using tiny doses of natural substances, such as plants and minerals, that would normally produce the symptoms you are experiencing. It is based on a belief that is summed up in the mantra: “like cures like.” Essentially, homeopaths believe the body is able to heal itself, but sometimes, the body just needs a small exposure to a foreign substance to fight the negative effects on its own. Ultimately, homeopathic remedies trigger the body’s natural defense systems.

Common homeopathic remedies come from substances you may use every day: for example, red onion makes your eyes water, so it is used in homeopathic remedies for allergies. Other allergic-type illnesses are treated with extracts from poison ivy, white arsenic, and crushed bees.

The homeopathic ingredients are weakened or excessively diluted with water or alcohol before they are administered. Some remedies are so dilute that they contain almost no trace of the original substance. Homeopathic remedies are available in liquid drops, sugar pellets, creams, gels, and oral tablets. You can visit an expert in homeopathy to begin treatment, but some homeopathic remedies are available over-the-counter from drug stores and natural food stores. The available doses and quantities vary by manufacturer.

Homeopathy can be used to treat many common acute and chronic conditions: allergies, headaches, depression, chronic fatigue, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, premenstrual syndrome, bruises, cuts, scrapes, toothaches, nausea, coughs, and colds. Homeopathic remedies should not be used to life-threatening illnesses or in emergency situations. They should not be used as alternatives to vaccines.

Many women tout the benefits of homeopathy remedies for pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, breast tenderness, backache, constipation, heartburn, and urinary problems, as well as mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, but it’s unclear if homeopathy is really effective. While many practitioners and patients support its use, others claim the benefits are all part of the placebo effect (when you feel better because you believe the treatment is working, whether it is or not). Homeopathy is not supported by the principles of biology and chemistry upon which the field of medicine is founded. Still, you may want to explore homeopathic treatment if you cannot or do not want to take a traditional medicine: this may be especially true if you are pregnant.

Generally, many traditional healthcare providers believe that most homeopathic remedies are safe, even during pregnancy. The remedies are not usually potent enough to cause major side effects, but adverse reactions have been noted with homeopathy, including abdominal pain, headaches, nausea, rashes, and pancreas and liver damage. The products may also contain inactive ingredients, including alcohol, that may not be safe for you or could cause interactions with other drugs you take or foods you eat.

The biggest risk with homeopathy is incorrectly replacing traditional treatments with natural remedies. Before you choose homeopathy for aches, pains, and illnesses during pregnancy, be sure to discuss your symptoms and your feelings about homeopathy with your healthcare provider. He can help you determine the cause of your symptoms and help you choose a safe, appropriate remedy that aligns with your medical history and personal preferences.

Jennifer Gibson
Dr. Jennifer Gibson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from Clemson University and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the Medical College of Virginia School of Pharmacy at Virginia Commonwealth University. She trained as a hospital pharmacist and is the author of clinical textbooks, peer-reviewed journal articles, and continuing education programs for the medical community, as well as a contributor to award-winning healthcare blogs and websites. In her free time, she enjoys running, reading, traveling, and spending time with her family.

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