How does homeopathy compare to conventional medicine?

Studies comparing the effectiveness of homeopathy and conventional medicine have shown that homeopathy can produce as good as, or even better results than conventional medicine.

Treatment of specific medical conditions

Upper respiratory tract infections
A multi-centred international study found that homeopathic treatment in primary care was non-inferior to conventional treatment for acute upper respiratory and ear complaints.1 The study evaluated 1577 patients receiving either homeopathic or conventional treatment in a total of 57 primary care practices in 8 countries (Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom and USA).

Four clinical trials (2 RCTs and 2 Observational Studies) compared the homeopathic medicinal product ‘Vertigoheel’ with other existing treatments for vertigo. A meta-analysis of the four studies found that Vertigoheel was not inferior to betahistine or dimenhydrinate, as measured by the number of vertigo episodes, their duration and intensity.2

Observing patient outcomes for multiple conditions

Chronic conditions in general practice (France)
Homeopathy is widely used in France and a major study (the ’EPI3 study’) followed 8559 patients attending GP practices to assess the effectiveness of homeopathic treatment. This study concluded that patients treated by GPs trained in homeopathy had similar clinical results as those treated with conventional medicine, but used fewer conventional drugs. Conditions treated were upper respiratory tract infections3; musculoskeletal disorders4; and sleep, anxiety and depressive disorders5.

Chronic conditions in general practice (Germany)
A study in Germany looking at 493 patients treated by GPs for chronic conditions showed that homeopathy produced better clinical outcomes than conventional medicine, for similar costs.6


A German health insurance company commissioned a study to assess the value of homeopathy in treating chronic conditions commonly seen in general practice, in order to determine whether they would continue to cover homeopathic treatment. 493 patients (315 adults, 178 children) treated by general practitioners, received either conventional medicine or homeopathy. The study found that patients in the homeopathy group reported greater improvement than the conventional medicine group (p=0.002). The physicians’ assessments also showed that children who received homeopathy had a better clinical response than those who received conventional medicine (p<0.001). There was no significant difference in cost between the two groups.

Conditions treated included headache, low back pain, depression, insomnia and sinusitis in adults, and atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis and asthma in children. This study was published in 2005 and the insurance company (Innungskrankenkasse Hamburg) continue to cover homeopathic treatment to this day.

Evidence-informed decision-making

Some people think that homeopathy has not been ‘scientifically proven’ to work, whereas conventional medical drugs are ‘tried and tested’. Surprisingly this issue isn’t actually as clear-cut as one might think.

Analysis by the British Medical Journal’s (BMJ) Clinical Evidence7 shows that just 11% of 3,000 conventional medical treatments commonly used within the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) are known to be beneficial. More



    1. Haidvogl M. et al. Homeopathic and conventional treatment for acute respiratory and ear complaints: A comparative study on outcome in the primary care setting. BMC Complement and Altern Med, 2007; 7:7 | Full text
    2. Schneider et al. Treatment of vertigo with a homeopathic complex remedy compared with usual treatments – a meta-analysis of clinical trials. Arzneim.-Forschung, 2005; 55(1): 23-29 | PubMed
    3. Grimaldi-Bensouda, L. et al. Management of upper respiratory tract infections by different medical practices, including homeopathy, and consumption of antibiotics in primary care: the EPI3 cohort study in France 2007-2008. PLoS One, 2014; 9: e89990 | Full text
    4. Rossignol, M. et al. Impact of physician preferences for homeopathic or conventional medicines on patients with musculoskeletal disorders: results from the EPI3-MSD cohort. Drug Saf., 2012; 21: 1093–1101 | PubMed
    5. Grimaldi-Bensouda, L. et al. Who seeks primary care for sleep, anxiety and depressive disorders from physicians prescribing homeopathic and other complementary medicine? Results from the EPI3 population survey. BMJ Open, 2012; 2 | Full text
    6. Witt C, Keil T, Selim D, et al. Outcome and costs of homeopathic and conventional treatment strategies: a comparative cohort study in patients with chronic disorders. Complement Ther Med, 2005;13: 79-86 | PubMed
    7. BMJ Clinical Evidence, Efficacy Categorisations. 2017. Available from [Accessed 25 Sept 2017]

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