Homeopathy is a field that attracts many different types of individuals, some with conventional medical training and credentials, and others without. (Some of the most renowned homeopaths in the world today have no formal medical training or licensing.) In addition, there are many different paths of study and regulation, and licensing varies from state to state.
Given all of these variables, you must use choose your practitioner carefully, asking questions and using your judgment. For example, you might think that conventional healthcare providers (e.g. physicians, nurses, chiropractors, dentists, veterinarians) who suggest homeopathic remedies would be great experts, but they may well be only self-educated or have taken a brief training programs in homeopathy. In this case, while they can be helpful for a patient doing some self or family care with homeopathy, if there is a serious, complex, or chronic health issue, the patient needs a homeopathic practitioner who is classically trained.
Are there any licensing or certification requirements?
While some states license homeopaths, others do not. Nor is there is a single national certifying body for homeopaths: there are different groups depending on the background of the provider (professional homeopath, medical doctor, or naturopath). These different groups require different types of training: a professional homeopath has had more than 1,000 hours of classical homeopathic training, whereas physicians and naturopaths may have only received 90 hours or less of homeopathic training.
Below are the various certifying organizations.
- Council for Homeopathic Certification (CHC) has been certifying professional homeopaths in the U.S. since 1991.
- American Institute of Homeopathy certifies medical and osteopathic doctors in the U.S. via the American Board of Homeotherapeutics.
- The Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians (HANP) certifies naturopathic doctors in the U.S.
A good resource to help you find a practitioner is the North American Society of Homeopaths (NASH), which registers professional homeopaths in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Homeopaths need to be certified by CHC (above) before they can be registered with the NASH.
What questions should I ask?
Given that the training and certification can vary, it is essential to research carefully. Ask friends or integrative providers for recommendations, and then be sure to ask the homeopath a number of questions. You may find many of the answers on the practitioner's website, or you may need to schedule a phone call.
- What training do you have?
Did you attend a professional training program for classical
homeopathy? Some excellent homeopaths may have learned predominantly
through apprenticeship with a master homeopath.
Examples of classical training institutions in the U.S. include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Atlantic Academy of Classical Homeopathy in New York
- Arizona Center for Health and Medicine in Scottsdale, Ariz.
- Hahnemann College of Homeopathy in Pt. Richmond, Calif.
- National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Ore.
- New England School of Homeopathy in Amherst, Mass.
- Northwestern Academy of Homeopathy in Minneapolis, Minn.
- Pacific Academy of Homeopathic Medicine in San Francisco, Calif.
- How long have you been practicing? Do you have any areas of specialization?
- What is a typical evaluation and follow-up like? How long are they? (Most classical evaluations involve a lengthy first interview of one hour or more, with regular follow-ups of 20 to 60 minutes.) What do you do during an evaluation? (The history is the basis of the homeopathic recommendation.) See What Can I Expect in a First Visit? for more information. Note that other methods of diagnosis (muscle testing, computer-testing, etc.) may be used by practitioners who do not practice classical homeopathy.
- What will an initial evaluation cost? What will follow-ups cost? This will vary according to the area where you live and the training of the provider. In a metro area, a typical cost for initial assessment will vary from $200 to $350, with follow ups from $60 to $150. Some providers have a single package cost ($900 to $1,200) for evaluation, treatment remedy, and needed follow-ups for a particular presenting issue. You should know up-front what the cost of the treatment will be.
- How will I get the remedy that is recommended to me after an evaluation? Again, there are several routes for this. Some practitioners provide or sell the remedies right in their offices. Some may use online sources or distant pharmacies that take the orders via the phone, and then ship the product. If you live in a metro area, there may be local merchants who sell the remedies in their stores. Common remedies of 30C potency or less can often be purchased at health food stores, drug stores, and co-ops. Less common or higher potency remedies usually have to be obtained via the prescriber.
- How much do remedies cost? Homeopathy remedies should be very affordable, usually ranging from $6 to $20 per remedy. (Note that prescription drug coverage does not pay for homeopathics.)
- If you have any complex issues that are being actively treated by a conventional physician (e.g. cancer, heart disease), ask if the homeopath either has legitimate training in conventional medicine, or if they will professionally and actively work with the conventional physician to manage your illness. Because it is often necessary to shift a person's prescription medications as they respond to homeopathy, this interface is very important.