Homeopathy is a holistic, health philosophy and practice. People who specialize in homeopathy are called homeopaths, though other complementary health care professionals also use homeopathic philosophy and products in the treatment of patients. At this time, Ontario is the only province that regulates homeopaths.
Homeopathy is based on the principle of “The Law of Similars” (also known as “like cures like”) meaning that a disease and its symptoms can be cured by a product known to produce similar symptoms. Products are intended to be used in low dosages based on the idea that as a homeopathic product is diluted, its healing effect increases.
Homeopathic products come in many forms such as pellets, oral droplets, syrups, creams and ointments. These products are made up of substances that come from plants, minerals, or animals. These products are generally low-risk.
Health Canada regulates homeopathic products as a type of natural health product. Health Canada reviews homeopathic products to make sure that they are safe and that the health claims (what the product claims to do) are supported by textbooks and other references used in the practice of homeopathy (e.g., pharmacopoeia, Materia medica).
In the past, homeopathic products were not widely available in stores. A person would visit a homeopath or other complementary health care professional who would make a homeopathic remedy for the patient based on his or her specific health condition as well as a holistic assessment of the individual. Now many homeopathic products are available in stores and are placed next to non-prescription drugs. This has led to confusion for some consumers, who may be looking for a non-prescription drug but pick up a homeopathic product instead.
The easiest way to identify the type of product is to look for the Health Canada authorization number. A product will have an eight-digit number preceded by one of these:
Health Canada has approved more than 8,500 homeopathic products. There is a database on the Health Canada website that lists these approved products. You can also enter a product’s DIN-HM into this database to learn more details of Health Canada’s approval of the product.