Homeopathic remedies have been used for centuries, and are often promoted as a natural alternative to traditional medicine. Often, there are no proven benefits to these remedies; however, many health consumers believe they are effective in treating certain health concerns. Under current regulations in the UK, some organisations promoting alternative medicines are given charitable status, which allows them to develop and promote new homeopathic options for the public.
But, a recent overhaul of the current regulations could make it much more difficult for these organisations in the future. The Charity Commission’s new rules, which will apply to all homeopathic bodies registered as charities, will require them to provide science-based evidence when making health claims. It will also apply to new organisations who wish to apply for charity status going forward.
According to David Holdsworth from the Charity Commission, they will be “whether past registrations of CAM organisations should be revisited”.He went on to say: “I am confident that this outcome, as well as reflecting the law and the available evidence, will serve to increase the public’s confidence in registered charities and the benefit they provide. Our updated approach means the public will be better able to make informed choices about CAM charities and whether they wish to support them or use their services.”
He added: “Our review was not about whether CAM is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or should be made available through public health provision – that is a matter for others. And nor do we expect our outcome necessarily to please all those with strong views about CAM generally. Our focus is on the integrity of the register of charities. We know the public place value on the concept of charity, and we must ensure that the register of charities is accurate and that only organisations that are, in law, charities are registered as such.”
The NHS has already banned funding for homeopathic treatments, so these new rules could cause problems if the industry is to make progress. The effectiveness of alternative medicine has always been divisive, with differing opinions as to its reliability. For instance, in the NHS guidelines, they say there’s “no evidence that homeopathy is effective as a treatment for any health condition”. It has also been described as “nonsense”, “rubbish” and “witchcraft” by various health advisers.
However, homeopathic treatments have also been treated separately from traditional medical treatments. They are based on theories that certain substance could be helpful in treating some health problems like colds, pain, nausea, and depression. Although, most experts agree that there needs to some regulation of the industry in order to ensure these ingredients are being used correctly, as in modern alternative medicine, substances are often diluted and less effective.
A statement from the Charity Commission noted : “Registration of a charity is acceptance that the organisation meets the legal test for being a charity, including that it is established for exclusively charitable purposes for the public benefit. Public benefit is based on evidence. In registering a CAM organisation as a charity we are not endorsing any treatment or confirming its efficacy but confirming that the organisation meets the test for charitable status including that of benefit to the public.”