Homeopathy Pronounced No More Effective Than Placebos
The National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia has assessed a number of studies on homeopathy’s ability to treat health conditions, and concluded that it is no more effective than placebos.
The core principle of homeopathy is that the substances which cause illnesses can also help to cure them when highly diluted in water or an alcohol-based tincture. The process of dilution and vigorous shaking which creates these solutions is known as “potentiation” or “dynamisation.” Practitioners believe that the molecules retain their memory of the original substance and trigger a healing response in the body.
Homeopathic remedies have been examined extensively in the past, and the NHMRC looked at a total of 225 existing studies conducted from 1997 onwards. The council found no solid evidence of these methods being any more effective than placebos such as sugar pills. Patients with various illnesses – asthma, migraines, colds – were tested but there was no firm indication that homeopathy had caused any recoveries.
According to the NHMRC, homeopathy has shown signs of being more effective than placebos in the past, but this has only been in cases where the studies were not conducted in the proper way to give completely reliable evidence.
“There were no health conditions for which there was reliable evidence that homeopathy was effective,” said chief executive Warwick Anderson. “For some health conditions, studies reported that homeopathy was not more effective than placebo. People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness.”
The NHMRC advises anyone with health problems to seek medical advice before turning to homeopathic remedies which have not been proven to be effective. The Australian Homeopathic Association, meanwhile, has expressed the view that the NHMRC need to investigate homeopathy more widely, taking more factors into account.
“The Australian Homeopathic Association recommend to the NHMRC that it take a more comprehensive approach to the analysis of homeopathy’s efficacy, and consider a large-scale economic evaluation of the benefits of a more integrated system and one which respects and advocates patient choice in healthcare provision,” the AHA commented.