Homoeopathic remediesreally do work, doctors told, British research reveals

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Allergy sufferers treated with homoeopathy have improved conditions, research published yesterday in the British Medical Journal has found.

Allergy sufferers treated with homoeopathy have improved conditions, research published yesterday in the British Medical Journal has found.

Doctors, who are often dismissive of using homoeopathy, should be more aware of its healing powers, the researchers urged.

The study of found that a quarter of allergy sufferers who took homeopathic medicine for a month had some improvement in their condition. Of those who took a placebo, just 3 per cent recorded an improvement. Fifty-one people from Glasgow with allergic rhinitis - a nasal inflammation - were asked to measure their nasal air flow and record symptoms such as runny, blocked or itchy noses, sneezing and eye irritation.

"Homoeopathy provoked a clear, significant and clinically relevant improvement in nasal respiratory peak flow similar to that found with topical steroids," said David Reilly, of Glasgow Homoeopathic Hospital, a co-author of the study.

He said it was the fourth trial carried out by the hospital with similar results. "We found a clear objective difference between the effects of placebo and homoeopathy on nasal airflow."

The researchers said their findings had made the arguments for homoeopathy "more plausible" and wanted more doctors to be trained in the field.

In Scotland, around one in five doctors now has basic training in homoeopathy compared with less than 1 per cent 15 years ago. But some experts said more and larger trials were needed to conclusively prove the practice worked. Tim Lancaster at the Institute of Health Sciences, Oxford, and Andrew Vickers, at the Sloane-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, said to convince people about homoeopathy large trials should be done "that really could change thinking".

Homoeopathy works on a 200-year-old belief that "that which can cause a disease can also cure it" and it is the only complementary medicine available on the NHS. Practitioners administer small doses of medicines that mirror a patient's symptoms to heal them and strengthen the immune system. They use more than 2,000 remedies from plants, animals and minerals to treat patients.

Professor Bob Leckridge, the president of the Faculty of Homoeopathy in London, said: "This latest research backs up the existing evidence that homoeopathy works - something that homoeopathic doctors and their patients have know for 200 years."

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