An alternative form of medicine homeopathy utilizes extremely small doses of harmful substances—which may cause symptoms in a healthy person—to treat those same symptoms in someone who’s ill. Some scientists are of the view that the “memory” of the original substance (generally chemicals or plant and animal material) retained in the highly diluted preparations will help spur the body into action. A different set of scientists say homeopathy is not only ineffective, it’s dangerous, especially when used as a substitute for approved treatments with a good record of safety and effectiveness.
Now, a large-scale analysis of 225 controlled studies and some 1,800 papers—ranging from evidence provided by homeopathy interest groups to government guidelines —has affirmed what a number of researchers have long suspected: Homeopathy is not an effective way to treat any health conditions. Not muscle soreness, not sleep disturbances, not rheumatoid arthritis.
The study was carried out by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), and to keep away from bias, the evidence was evaluated by an independent contractor. “No good-quality, well-designed studies with enough participants for a meaningful result reported either that homeopathy caused greater health improvements than placebo, or caused health improvements equal to those of another treatment,” the report found.
NHMRC Homeopathy Working Committee chair Paul Glasziou opines: “There will be a tail of people who won’t respond to this report, and who will say it’s all a conspiracy of the establishment.” “But we hope there will be a lot of reasonable people out there who will reconsider selling, using or subsiding these substances.”
The Australian Homeopathic Association has countered with a statement, saying how the NHMRC should respect a large-scale economic evaluation of the benefits of a “more integrated system” that supports “patient choice.” As per AHA, an estimated one million Australians choose homeopathy as part of their healthcare.
Nonetheless, as NHMRC CEO Warwick Anderson alerted in a news release: “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.”