Catherine Mayr suffered from eczema, a skin condition that causes itching and redness, from the time she was a baby. “I lived on cortisone creams, going from dermatologist to dermatologist, and nothing they prescribed worked,” says Mayr, who lives in Redmond, Washington. When a homeopathic remedy cleared up her children’s chronic earaches, she thought one might be able to help her condition too. Mayr consulted Michael Baker a naturopathic physician. he gave Mayr a dose of arsenicum album and her eczema cleared up within two weeks. She hasn’t had a flare-up since.
Mayr’s decision to try this form of alternative medicine isn’t unique: Research shows that up to 10 million Americans have turned to homeopathy, a 200-year-old system of medicine that uses combinations of plant, animal and mineral ingredients as treatments. In the U.S., sales of these FDA-regulated remedies have been growing by 20 percent each year. And studies have shown that they’re successful: One review in the British Medical Journal reports that homeopathy is effective in relieving symptoms associated with arthritis, hay fever, migraines and the flu. In fact, a Lancet analysis found the treatments to be so effective for asthma and allergies that the authors concluded, “Either homeopathic medicines work or controlled clinical trials do not.”