In Brazil, there is widespread use of homeopathy as an alternative medicine. In this article you will learn when the practice started and its current use.
Homeopathy in Brazil started in 1840 with a French physician named Benoît Jules Mure. He was a disciple of the creator of homeopathy Samuel Hahnemann, and had traveled through Europe spreading the principles of the new medicinal practice after using it to recover from tuberculosis. In 1843, he founded the first school of homeopathy in Brazil, located in Rio de Janeiro: the Instituto Brasileiro de Homeopatia or Brazilian Homeopathy Institute.
Homeopathic medicine is an alternative form of medicine that has pros and cons. Even though a lot of people don't believe in its effectiveness, it is still widely used in the country.
Homeopathy and the western medicine were split in 1851, when there was legislation which established that the pharmaceutical industry had the power to prescribe medicine. After that, new laws were created to regulate homeopathic medicine but, it was only in 1980 that the Conselho Federal de Medicina, or Federal Medical Council, recognized homeopathy as a permitted form medical treatment allowing its practice by dentists, veterinaries, psychologists and nurses.
According to the World Health Organisation, homeopathy is the world's second most used healthcare system – treating roughly 300 million patients in more than 80 countries. Its acceptance in Latin America is great, specially in Brazil and Argentina.
There are approximately 15,000 homeopathic physicians, specialized pharmacists, veterinarians and dental surgeons practicing the profession in Brazil. In addition, there are a significant amount of homeopathic laboratories and pharmacies producing and selling industrialized homeopathic medicines. Consequently making homeopathy the16th most used practice of the 61 medical specialties in the country. There are a lot of courses for physicians who want to learn how to treat patients using homeopathic medications.
Believe It or Not
Homeopathy has been debated for the past 200 years as whether or not it is a actually effective form of medical practice. Although a large number of people claim to prefer homeopathy, not all of them actually participate in its practice.
In 2011, there was an inquiry about the amount of money that the government spends on homeopathy, which is BRL 3 million per year. The group that was protesting, called Ceticismo Aberto – something like Open Skepticism –, asked if the investment made with the public money was correct, considering that homeopathic treatment doesn't have any supportive scientific evidence.
Even though, homeopathy has already been used by a large number of Brazilians. In 2004, over 17 million Brazilians – out of 184 million – had treated themselves with homeopathic medications at least once.
In a research study, it was shown that from each 8 individuals that were medicated with a homeopathic medicine, 7 of them used an allopathic medication as well, which means that Brazilians still have distrust towards alternative medicine. The research study also showed that the acceptance of homeopathic medicine is greater among women than men and among the higher social classes A and B.
The homeopathic medicine market in Brazil is seen in two different ways: there are those who believe that it is a stagnant market – since market figures haven't changed much in 10 years –, and others who believe that it is a growing market. For those that insist the market is expanding, there is the Laboratory Boiron, which is the biggest worldwide laboratory of homeopathic medications. Boiron started selling its products in Brazil in 2009 and in the first three months of 2012, it registered an increase in sales of 78%. In the rest of the world, apart from Europe, Canada and the United States, market growth was only 49%.
In Brazil, homeopathy is regulated by Anvisa, which creates rules for the production and prescription by pharmacies, industrialization and sale of these medications, in an attempt to guarantee their quality. Industrialized homeopathic medications can be found in pharmacies and drugstores and must clearly state the initials MS and a sequence of 8 to 13 numbers which always start with number 1. Data from 2010 showed that there are 1,053 homeopathic pharmacies out of 68,194 pharmacies and drugstores in Brazil.