Homeopathy is used for a number of illnesses. It may be taken with conventional treatment to try to improve the quality of life for people with cancer. There’s no reliable medical evidence that homeopathy is effective.
Homeopathy is based on the idea that ‘like cures like’. The theory is that some homeopathic medicines cause similar symptoms to the illness being treated, and this triggers the body’s natural reaction. So therapists use tiny amounts that cause symptoms similar to those you are already having.
Homeopathic remedies are mostly made of plant and mineral extracts. They come as tablets, liquids or creams, in a very diluted form.
Homeopaths use their remedies to try to relieve symptoms caused by cancer or side effects of cancer treatments. They’re also used to help general well-being.
Some GPs and hospital doctors are trained in homeopathy, and it’s sometimes available through the NHS. If you’re interested in this type of therapy, you can discuss it with your GP or your cancer doctor.
Homeopathy is safe to use alongside conventional cancer treatments because the remedies are extremely diluted.
There’s no evidence that it causes harm.
Mistletoe (Iscador®, Eurixor®)
Mistletoe comes from a group of therapies called anthroposophical medicine. These therapies aim to combine conventional medicine with complementary therapies, including homeopathy and physical therapies.
Mistletoe can be taken by mouth or as injections. It may be given by homeopaths and is sometimes described as a herbal or homeopathic remedy.
There’s no reliable medical evidence that mistletoe is effective in treating cancer. It’s claimed that mistletoe may have various effects, which include:
- stimulating the immune system
- improving the quality of life of people with cancer
- reducing side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
In general, mistletoe therapy appears to be safe and any side effects are usually mild.
If mistletoe is taken in large doses, it may cause more serious side effects. When given as an injection, mistletoe may cause mild swelling, redness, itching and pain around the injection site. Rarely it can cause allergic reactions, which may be serious in some people.
Because mistletoe extracts may stimulate the immune system, they could reduce the effectiveness of some medicines. This includes immunosuppressants, which people take after a donor stem cell or bone marrow transplant. It’s important to check with your cancer doctor before using mistletoe extracts.