NHR Apr-Sept 2019: Perspective: Adverse effects in homoeopathy

Adverse effects in homoeopathy

Nitika Sharma 1, Nitin Magotra *2, James Michael3, Nivedita Kundu3, Arunava Nath3, Maneela Tomar4

  1. Medical Officer, Homoeopathy, Government Homoeopathic Dispensary, Janipur, J&K Govt.
  2. Medical Officer, Homoeopathy, Government Hospital, Gandhi Nagar, Jammu, J&K Govt.
  3. Former Postgraduate Trainee, Dept. of Organon of Medicine, National Institute of Homoeopathy, Govt. of India
  4. Postgraduate Trainee, Dept. of Organon of Medicine, National Institute of Homoeopathy, Govt. of India

*Correspondence: nitinmagotra21@gmail.com


Even though homeopathy is regarded as a harmless intervention, homeopathic practice may not be entirely risk-free. Homoeopathy can also cause some adverse effects or side effects. In this article we will be discussing how and when homoeopathy can cause adverse effects.

Keywords: Adverse effects, Side effects, Homoeopathic Aggravation, Idiosyncrasy, Toxicity

It must be safe – it’s homoeopathic? Thousands of pages of advertisements of homoeopathic medicines, journals printed as well as published online, advertisements of various homeopathic schools or homeopathic practitioners make this proud claim that homoeopathy does not have any side effects.

Fact or Truth?


Fact is something that cannot be combated with reasoning, for it is logic itself.

Truth is something which depends on a person’s perspective and experience.

On the faith in the efficacy of remedies (C. Wesselhoeft) 2

Science is not a matter of faith, but of experiment; and suppose that the remedy has been wrongly chosen – do we want to poison our patients with a contrary drug or even a Homoeopathic drug? Disease effects are bad enough alone; plus drug effects they are much worse; if we have not made a proper selection, far better will it be to have only the original disease to deal with.

Topics of discussion –

  1. Common views(studies) regarding side effects of  Homoeopathy
  2. Difference between homoeopathic aggravation and adverse effects
  3.  Instructions given by stalwarts
  4. Contra-indications of some Homoeopathic medicines
  5. Conclusion

Few studies which have shown homoeopathy also have side effects –

According to NCCIH3While many Homeopathic products are highly diluted, some products sold or labeled as Homeopathic may not be [homeopathic]; they can contain substantial amounts of active ingredients, which may cause side effects or drug interactions. Negative health effects from Homeopathic products of this type have been reported.

Evidences for Adverse Drug Reactions in Homoeopathy 4An article published in PUBMED in December 2012 suggests a study where five electronic databases were searched to identify all relevant case reports and case series regarding adverse drug reactions in Homoeopathy. The total number of patients who experienced AEs of homoeopathy amounted to 1159. Overall, AEs ranged from mild-to-severe and included four fatalities. The most common AEs were allergic reactions and intoxications. Rhus Toxicodendron was the most frequently implicated Homoeopathic remedy. This systematic review of case reports and case series concluded that using certain Homeopathic products (such as those containing heavy metals like mercury or iron that are not highly diluted) or replacing an effective conventional treatment with an ineffective Homeopathic one can cause adverse effects, some of which may be serious.4

Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 5Sometimes symptoms grow worse transiently when a Homeopathic product is used, a phenomenon known to Homeopaths as an aggravation; but apart from descriptions of these brief, readily reversible, phenomena, there are few records of adverse events arising in the conventional sense. According to conventional toxicology, any toxic substances in a product will be diluted well

below hazardous levels. Although some mother tinctures are used undiluted by Homeopaths, this is not permitted for products on sale to the public. A theoretical hazard could be failure to dilute sufficiently, or to confuse metric with Centesimal dilution, either of which could result in a much higher dose being prepared; there is no record of this happening in any manufactured product.

How to Handle Worsening of Condition during Treatment – Risk Assessment in Homeopathic Practice 6

The risk profile of Homeopathic remedies in ultra-molecular potencies is minor. However, there is a potential for indirect risk related to homeopathic practice. In that respect it is imperative to distinguish Homeopathic aggravations from adverse effects as Homeopathic aggravation may impose a particular risk on patients. Homeopaths may believe that Homeopathy is free of risk and does not cause adverse effects.This attitude among Homeopaths underlines the need for improved awareness of adverse effects and red flag situations in clinical practice. It is, therefore, important that the Homeopaths inform their patients to stay in contact if the worsening of symptoms lasts for more than 3 days.

Do homeopathic medicines provoke adverse effects? A systematic review 7

Homeopathic medicines in high dilutions, prescribed by trained professionals, are probably safe and unlikely to provoke severe adverse reactions. It is difficult to draw definite conclusions due to the low methodological quality of reports claiming possible adverse effects of homeopathic medicines.


ADVERSE MEANING: Preventing success or development; harmful; unfavourable.

SIDE EFFECTS MEANING: A secondary, typically undesirable effect of a drug or medical treatment.


You may remember that to annul the ill effects of medicine had been one of Hahnemann’s major stimuli in developing a new art of healing. His lifetime endeavor was to create a form of medicine and a way to apply medication that was almost free of any ill effects. Especially his main work, the “Organon” can be judged as the genuine expression of that endeavor.9

Master Hahnemann has mentioned about aggravation of various types as well as about idiosyncrasy in relevant sections of Organon of Medicine10 and Lesser Writings12 like – § 155-§ 160, § 248, § 249, § 250, § 256, §272, § 275, § 276, § 280, § 282

In 1813, in “Genius of the Homoeopathic Healing Art, “Dr. Hahnemann wrote, “it is impossible to divine the healing power of

medicines according to a chemical hypothesis or from their colors, smell, or taste; and it is folly to use these substances (so pernicious when abused) for the cure of diseases based on such …” 13

Dr. S. P. Dey says11In Idiosyncratic patients an attempt may be made to cure this type of patients by only olfaction of the medicine in a potency not higher than 30th

Dr. Kent14

Lecture XVI – If a drug that is really Homoeopathic to the case is continued, after enough has been given to cure, a miasm is established in some cases by that drug, and this miasm imitates one of the chronic diseases or one of the acute miasms in accordance with its ability.

When a patient is hypersensitive you must avoid the use of the C.M.  and other very high potencies, which will make your patient sick, and use instead the 30th and 200ths.

Lecture XXXIV – Hediscusses about homoeopathic aggravation “This trifling Homoeopathic aggravation of the malady during the first few hours, the happy omen which announces that the acute disease will soon be cured, and that it will, for the most part, yield to a first dose.”

Lecture XXXV – 8th Observation- Idiosyncratic Patients, 10th Observation- Medicinal Aggravation, 12th Observation- Disease Aggravation

Lecture XXXV – The oftener you prescribe for different groups of symptoms the worse it is for your patient because it tends to rivet the constitutional state upon the patient and to make him incurable.

Dr. Stuart Close15 saysEfficiency in Homoeopathy implies and involves native ability, acquired technical proficiency and logical consistency in the application of its principles.

Chapter XIII Young practitioners and many old ones too, for that matter, give too many doses, repeat too frequently, change remedies too often. They give no time for reaction.…. Sometimes such mistakes cannot be corrected and a patient pays the penalty with his life. It pays to be careful and “go slow” in the beginning; then there will not be so many mistakes to correct.

Chapter XIII – The more accurate the selection of the medicine, the greater must be the care exercised not to injure the patient by prescribing potencies too low and doses too numerous.

Belladonna in the third or sixth potency, given in too frequent doses in a case of meningitis, for example, may cause death from over-action; whereas the thirtieth or two hundredth potency given in a single dose, or in doses repeated only until some change of symptoms is noticed, will speedily cure.

HA Roberts’s says16 Those sciences that deal with the established laws of the universe the same natural laws must be active. It is self-evident that natural laws must work, not in contradiction to each other, but in sympathy and co-operation; these laws are fixed and immutable.

Let us be alert to observe and accurate to correlate the plain facts before us, that we may recognize, formulate and work in accord with the fundamental laws that govern Homoeopathy and all nature.

Chapter X – A group of entirely new symptoms appearing after the administration of a remedy is evidence that we have made a decided step in the wrong direction. We have probably mixed the case.

Chapter XIII – In order that the suffering and distress may not be increased, it is therefore necessary to use only the smallest possible dose. For this reason the Homoeopathic dose is always short of the physiological or pathogenetic dose. It must be so small as not to produce too much aggravation of the symptoms already present, and never large enough to produce new symptoms.



ACONITUM NAPELLUS Aconite should never be given simply to control the fever, never alternated with other drugs for that purpose. If it be a case requiring Aconite no other drug is needed; Aconite will cure the case. Acids, wine and coffee, lemonade, and acid fruits modify its action.

Not indicated in malarial and low fevers or hectic and pyaemic conditions, and in inflammations when they localize themselves.

ACETIC ACID It aggravates: the symptoms of Arn., Bell., Lach., Mer.; especially the headache from Belladonna.

DIGITALIS Cinchona antidotes the direct action of Digitalis and increases the anxiety.

DROSERA “One single dose of the 30th potency is sufficient to cure entirely epidemic whooping cough. The cure takes place surely between seven and eight days. Never give a second dose immediately after the first; it would not only prevent the good effect of the former, but would be injurious.”

FERRUM MET. Should never be given in syphilis; always aggravates the condition.

NAT. MUR. Cannot often be repeated in chronic cases without an intercurrent, called for by the symptoms. Should never be given during fever paroxysm.


ECHINACEA Acts on vermiform appendix thus has been used for appendicitis, but remember it promotes suppuration and a neglected appendicitis with pus formation would probably rupture sooner under its use.

NUX VOMICA – Absence of all desire for defecation is a contra-indication.

PHOSPHORUS Tuberculosis in tall, rapidly-growing young people.

Do not give it too low or too frequently here, it may but hasten the destructive degeneration of tubercular masses.

SILICEA – In phthisis must be used with care, for here it may cause the absorption of scar-tissue, liberate the disease, walled in, to new activities. (J. Weir).

TUBERCULINUM The remedy should not be given without a most careful cardiac examination. As the surgeon before the anaesthetic, so must the physician know the heart before administering this drug, especially to children, and seniles-and to young seniles.


EUPATORIUM or any other Homoeopathic remedy, if administered during the chill, will make the case worse and cause trouble afterwards.


Homoeopathy like any other science can have its adverse events if not practiced according to its principles We should not shun the discussion of the adverse events seen in Homeopathic treatment or or the issue of bad Homeopathic practice. Even our errors can lead us tolearn and improve our skills to heal. Everybody makes mistakes. This isn’t anything

to be ashamed of. But what is shameful is being unwilling to learn from one’s mistakes.

“If we are true to homoeopathy it will be true to us—that is our experience.”     —Dr. A. Lippe




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Cite this article as: Sharma N, Magotra N, Michael J, Kundu N, Nath A, Tomar M. Adverse effects in homoeopathy. National Homoeo Recorder 2019;15(2,3):

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