Answer: The two main reasons people give for using homeopathy are:
- It works, and
- It is a safe alternative to over-the-counter or prescription medicines.
The answer is yes – but with some provisos. Let’s find out why.
Homeopathic remedies are dispensed in a number of ways – as tablets, globules, liquid drops, creams and sprays. They can even be inhaled.
The tablets, pills and globules act as carriers for the remedy and may contain lactose (a sugar found in milk) or wheat flour. Normally this isn’t a problem for those who are intolerant to lactose or gluten as the amounts are so small.
However, if the person is highly sensitive or has an allergy to lactose or gluten, remedies prepared with these two substances may affect them unless the remedy is being given by inhalation.
Fortunately neither substance is necessary for preparing a homeopathic remedy and, because of the increasing problem of food intolerances, many manufacturers now choose to avoid wheat altogether or use sucrose instead of lactose.
Alcohol is frequently used as a stabiliser and preservative when remedies are dispensed as liquids or sprays. While most alcohol (ethanol) used for medicine is prepared from sugar it may occasionally be derived from grain, but the distillation process removes all gluten.
Some homeopaths still prefer to use brandy or vodka as a stabiliser for the remedies they dispense, but these are also gluten free; the brandy is made from grapes and though some vodka is sourced from grain, the distillation process it undergoes removes all traces of gluten.
Conclusion: if you are sensitive to lactose or gluten, the small doses in the homeopathic carriers are unlikely to be a problem unless you are highly allergic. If this is the case, always check with the manufacturer or dispensing homeopath that the remedy has been prepared with gluten-free and lactose-free components or, if in doubt, take your remedy by sniff doses (the olfaction method).