This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

CAMHS won't see you now

Why I chose... to be a GP homoeopathist

Dr Katalin Borbely found that her frustration with modern pharmacy led her to offer her patients alternative medicine

Dr Katalin Borbely - online

Name Dr Katalin Borbely

Age 51

Title GP and homoeopathist

Location of practice Sessional GP





I worked in Hungary and in Denmark since 1989 first as an emergency doctor then switched to working as a GP. I have been working as a GP in the UK since 2009.

Some years into this work I felt I was becoming a frustrated GP, and I didn’t like it. Not that I was unsuccessful. My practice of seven years had been growing slowly but steadily, and the last patient satisfaction survey had had encouraging responses.

Still, when I was looking at the hopeful face of Mr Jones, I couldn’t help feeling frustrated. I had then been a doctor for twelve years, a specialist of emergency care and of general practice, having seen hundreds of similar cases before and still I was helpless. Mr Jones, my new patient who moved into the area the week before, had been suffering of essential hypertension for a decade and taken just about every antihypertensive there is, for shorter or longer periods. He was currently taking a triple combination of antihypertensives, plus several other medicines for his concomitant problems – that was thirteen (yes, thirteen) different kinds of prescription drugs and yet he was full of complaints and symptoms and, rightly, expected that I would solve his problems right then and there.

But I couldn’t. We had been talking about his health for about twenty minutes then. I started with offering prescription drugs recommended by the applicable therapeutic guidelines. He had taken them all before and stopped because of either side effects or lack of efficacy. I talked about additional options then, such as diet and lifestyle changes, increasing doses, replacing some elements of his multiple combinations, dropping certain drugs, everything. None of it was good, even I couldn’t really believe we would find the right solution.

And he was not the first, nor the only one. It appeared that evidence-based medicine, however effective for the vast majority of my clientele, could not always offer a solution for every individual even if their maladies were amongst the most common ones. While the balance of benefits versus risks has indeed been found positive for our medicines in clinical trials, this is not always true for every single patient.

The words of the Hippocratic Oath came to my mind: ‘I will come for the benefit of the sick’. Was it really in Mr Jones’s best interest for me to continue prescribing him drugs that he himself said he didn’t want to take any longer as he felt they didn’t really help him? Wasn’t there any other way?

So that was the trigger that made me start searching and learning. What I really needed was to be able to use medicines that either complement our common drugs or are alternatives to them.

I have happily found that many universities all over Europe were offering courses on complementary and alternative medicine, thousands of doctors were practicing it, many health insurance organisations including the NHS were funding it, and patients were not only liking but often demanding it. And a few years later I became a certified medical homeopath.

Why did you choose this work?

Homeopathy is often referred to as ‘the gentle treatment’ because of the apparent lack of undesirable effects. It is typically and mostly used in addition to traditional prescriptions in situations such as the one I described above. Polypharmacy and multimorbidity are the two most difficult problems to handle in a GP practice, so any option to reduce the number of concomitantly used active substances should be welcomed whenever possible! Indeed homeopathy is a viable option for many patients to complement their chronic therapies with a carefully selected remedy thus allowing a reduction of their doses and/or simplifying their treatment regimes.


Homeopathy is not for everyone, though. For doctors to use it to maximum benefit it requires not only years of laborious studying but an awful lot of the GP’s most precious commodity: time to be spent with the patient. A homeopathic interview can rarely be fitted into the constraints of a 10-minute appointment as the doctor must get to know the person in detail, not only the disease. And for patients it requires an open mind to accept the unusual, the out-of-the-ordinary. So, in daily GP practice I only ever offer it to those who either request it themselves or those that really have exhausted all other possibilities.


In some, less common, situations it can even be used as an alternative to chemicals, with great caution. Being an empirical branch of medicine, homeopathy is individual and, like all other types of medicine, it may or may not work for a certain patient in a certain situation so it is paramount that evidence- and guideline-based treatment must never be denied. Nevertheless, I have dozens if not hundreds of cases when homeopathy turned out to be sufficient, e.g. in cases when a patient was reluctant to take a prescription medicine for fear of expected side effects.

Financially, I appear to have earned an unintended and possibly undeserved fame amongst practice managers since statistics show that prescription expenses decrease quite considerably with the introduction of homeopathy in a practice. Homeopathic remedies are cheap, particularly in comparison to many modern high-tech prescription medicines and the necessary treatment duration is generally shorter, too.

I don’t intend to promote homeopathy or to explain its features. All I wants to state is the fact that it works for me – and, more importantly, it works for many of my patients. Naturally, it cannot solve every situation but, as a GP, my frustration has eased considerably since I have been able to offer something additional, something different to those patients of mine that are in the highest need.

Readers' comments (25)

  • I congratulate Dr Katalin Borbely. My first introduction to homeopathy was through a GP who was also a Faculty homeopath. Homeopathy worked for me - my painful arthritic knees and elbows were pain free within a month. Following this introduction I trained as a homeopath myself and now help others using this system of medicine. Many times I see that a reduction in prescription medication is the patient outcome

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Dr Borbely's article gives hope, because it shows that doctors that really want to help their patients are ready to look for and apply clinically proven alternative medicine beyond traditional treatments. They do this to improve their patients' overall well-being and without robotically prescribing unsuccessful, past treatments just because they don't know any better or they are not aware that certain types of alternative medicine can actually compliment traditional treatments, when used appropriately. The world is a better place today, because there are experienced doctors who remain curious about the human body and they make an effort to search for alternative treatments, when traditional drugs reach their limit in enhancing patients' health. What we know today about the human body and how it can be healed is limited. Being sceptical about a new treatment one has not even done proper research on, let alone having tried it out, is simply ignorant. Let us not limit ourselves to what we have learnt so far, but stay open to what else we can learn in order to help patients who are in great need of help.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Katalin Borbely

    Thank you very much for the comments and for encouraging me.
    I even liked the magic bean and magic carpet comments... I wish if it was so easy as they imagine!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Prof. Colquhoun's comment delightfully sums up where the majority of homeopathy's sceptics' understanding lies, i.e. with schoolboy chemistry where we were all taught about Avogadro's number/constant. This theoretical constant is mathematically correct of course but it does not in itself set any limit on the impact of the potentisation process that all high potency homeopathic medicine source materials are subject to, producing sub-molecular or meta-molecular effects such as those now being increasingly revealed in areas of research such as nanotechnology and electromagnetic field. Thankfully science continually moves on and builds on Avogadro rather than draws a line after it.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • As an RSHom I do wish the detractors to the debate at least had the courage not post anonymously. I beleive it undermines their contribution be -ve or -ve

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page50 results per page

Have your say