so I was reading Susan Herrmann Loomis‘ book…
While I was reading On Rue Tatin, I got to a part where Loomis mentioned how her son’s physician also practiced homeopathy, and instantly my interest was piqued. The U.S. is pretty bi-partisan when it comes to medicine. You usually see either someone follows a conventional/allopathic practitioner pathway OR they go into an alternative medicine profession (homeopath, naturopath, etc). However, in France it seems that many medical doctors are also taught a bit of the more alternative medicines and as a result will prescribe unconventional medications and generally tailor treatments towards individuals more strongly so than in the U.S.
unconventional medicine… like hot springs therapy?
Having had a dermatologist who prescribed me the U.S. version of the Avène line products, I remembered that France also has a hearty healing spring culture and how insurance can cover some of the expenses for treatment at one if one has a prescription. I had researched the Avène springs therapy previously I jogged my memory about how their water comes from the Sainte-Odile spring, after having been naturally filtered through the Cévennes Mountains. I’m still super intrigued by trying this one day, as one can pay to do 3-week stays and the results seem phenomenal. I better keep working on my French though…
but more on homeopathy
In going down the French doctors are homeopaths direction, I ended up stumbling across the recent controversy happening, where the French government is trying to remove government reimbursement for homeopathic medicine prescriptions. Multiple groups andd campaigns have formed fighting on both sides (including SafeMed, FakeMed, MonHomeoMonChoix) Apparently, according to articles I read (in English) from france24 and bloomberg, the debate centers around the following points:
- the efficacy of homeopathy. On one side we hear that the homeopathic medicines are nothing more than fancy tictacs; they only function as placebos anyway, and studies prove that. On the other side we hear that the homeopathic meds are gentle alternatives to meds with lots of side effects, and they can be used for more acute but non-severe conditions like the common cold and allergies. The studies that deny the efficacy of homeopathy are contested by the argument that homeopathy works by tailoring to each individual patient, and so a large uniform study where are all subjects are prescribed the same medications would not accurately show its effectiveness
- the French government needs to save money. The French public health sector is looking to save money and this is a viable way to cut back spending, is what Buzyn, which is challenged because it is believed that homeopathy only contributes to 1% of said spending
- this is the first step towards decreasing prescriptions generally (said by the Minister of Health, Agnès Buzyn). This idea is contested by studies like (this one) which show that the costs depend on the type of insurance used. For their social security (gov reimbursed program, though the consultations for homeopathy may be more expensive, the actual prescription costs are much lower than that of conventional medicines.
- only 10% of patients seek reimbursement for the homeopathic medications anyway
my two cents
I personally think Buzyn is being short-sighted. If you take away reimbursement for just the homeopathy treatments, I doubt the result will slow ALL prescriptions being given out, but rather France will instead see a shift towards more issuing of medical prescriptions, which will cost the government more overall. I don’t know how the relationship works in France, but if it’s anything like the U.S., the pharmaceutical companies will fill the void of the homeopathic prescriptions by incentivizing doctors to give out more prescriptions. This would make the country by and large more dependent on meds, rather than less, and now these meds are stronger and as a result probably have a greater range of serious side effects, which rebounds into needing more medicine to treat the side effects. But again I’m not well versed in how the French medical system works, so this is all my conjecture.
if you believe it “in your heart of hearts”…
I also feel like people attack the placebo idea all the time but if you have something that is no more harmful than a tictac, as the articles argued, yet it makes the patients who take it feel better, why is that a bad thing? A lot of health is mental (as our brains are a part of our body) and so if feeling cared for, listened to, and treated (even if the treatment plan includes fancy “tictacs”) makes someone feel better, isn’t that in itself still a useful option? Most of the doctors interviewed who are in defense of homeopathy, seem to agree with me. They stated things like obviously you wouldn’t use homeopathy to treat cancer, but you might use it to treat an acute case of insomnia, etc, and that cutting off such an option might hurt lower income patients, as homeopathic medicines are usually cheaper than allopathic ones.
my personal disclaimer
I am openly biased. I’ve always been a fan of complementary systems of medicine, as I grew up drinking homemade ginger, lemon, and honey tea for sore throats and whatnot, and only turning to medication when things were bad. At the same time, having severe food allergies, I did (and do) consume Benadryl and own an Epipen, so it’s not like I was against conventional medicine. It was always just a gradient of severity. I’ve also become decidedly more pro-alternative medicine because years of conventional medicine/treatment has messed up my skin worse than it was in my youth, and as a result, I have fairly strong fear-avoidance (but really only for dermatologists, ha).
but back to alternative medicine and hot springs
Since I obviously won’t be making my way to France anytime soon, I also have been interested to see if there are any hot springs in the U.S. (there are) and in particular if there are any near me (there are much fewer). Apparently there is one in Virginia that multiple presidents have visited at the Omni Homestead Resort. If I make it over there anytime soon, you’ll hear about it in a whole separate post.