Homeopathic medicine under FDA scrutiny

The FDA is taking a closer look at homeopathic medicine and how it should be regulated.

Story highlights

  • The FDA may take a more hands-on approach to regulating homeopathic medicine
  • It does not go through the same approval process as over-the-counter drugs
  • Some studies suggest homeopathic medicine is no more effective than placebos

(CNN)By some estimates, about a third of Americans use some form of alternative medicine, including homeopathic remedies because they find Western medicine inadequate.

Creams such as Arnicare for pain relief or liquids such as Sidda Flower Essences for male virility are part of a $2.9 billion business that has seen "explosive growth," according to the FDA. These drugs do not go through the same level of scrutiny as over-the-counter and prescription drugs.
But now your over-the-counter homeopathic remedies might soon face stricter scrutiny from the federal government.
    Products such as the homeopathic cold remedies Coldese and Zicam, among others, came under fire Monday from experts who testified at a Food and Drug Administration hearing Monday.
    The two-day "listening session," as the FDA calls it, is an opportunity for experts and members of the public to help the FDA decide how it should regulate these products. Critics say the agency is not doing enough.
    An analysis of hundreds of published studies from the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia found that homeopathic medicine was no more effective than a placebo. There is no evidence that they actually work, the council claimed, and yet it is a multibillion dollar business.
    Homeopathy is a medical philosophy that essentially believes your body is the best weapon to fight disease. Homeopathic medicine is based on the idea that "like cures like," meaning if something causes a symptom in your body, if you take a diluted form, it will boost your body's ability to fight it. Typically these remedies include a plant or a mineral in a tiny amount.
    People who represent the indu