What are Hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers that act within the body. They co-ordinate and regulate many normal functions from growth, development and puberty through to stress responses and fertility. Hormones affect every cell in your body and create a complex and inter-connected network of physiological responses to every moment of your life. If any of these connected networks become disrupted the resulting symptoms can be wide-ranging.
Conventional treatment options for hormonal disorders most often involve replacing the missing hormones. For example in the case of insulin treatment in diabetes or hormone replacement therapy in menopause. Or control the imbalanced hormones in order to manage the associated symptoms. For example in the case of disrupted female hormones in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome where the oral contraceptive pill may be prescribed.
Homeopathy and Women’s health
The number of female patients that seek homeopathic consultations can be twice that of men. So many homeopaths have developed a special interest in women’s health issues. This may be focussed on fertility and pregnancy, menstrual disorders, premenstrual syndrome and menopause.
There is some preliminary evidence to suggest that homeopathy might be beneficial in managing the distress of women’s health issues. For example, homeopathic treatment has been shown in small clinical trials to help women coping with hot flushes and other distressing symptoms of menopause. An audit of an NHS Well Woman clinic in Sheffield also found that 81% of 102 patients reported improvement in their experience of menopause after seeing a homeopath. However, much more research is needed before we can be completely sure how far homeopathic treatment can help support women’s health.
Homeopathy and Men’s health
As mentioned, many more women seek homeopathic consultations than men but this in no way reflects a bias in the homeopathic philosophy towards women’s health: homeopathy is a holistic system that treats the individual, irrespective of gender. Men and women share many conditions, symptoms, stresses and concerns on all levels and so are equally suitable for homeopathic treatment. A study carried out by Leeds Metropolitan University found that men are more likely to die from heart disease and strokes than women making homeopathic support of stress potentially widely beneficial .
Some homeopaths have developed a special interest in men’s health issues focussing on psychosexual issues, fertility and prostate health. Fertility problems affect 1 in 7 couples in the UK, with most male-related cases being due to low sperm counts or poor quality sperm which can in turn be related to testosterone levels. A pilot study involving 45 sub-fertile men found that individualised homeopathic treatment improved both the number and quality of sperm, but a larger scale trial is needed to confirm these positive results. Additionally, an observational clinical trial of over 200 men in India with early symptoms of benign growth of the prostate showed that 85% of patients reported improvement in urination symptoms. However, much more research is needed to test these observations before we can be sure how effective homeopathy may be for men’s health issues.