Last week was World Homeopathy Awareness Week or WHAW, a time where homeopaths all over the world do their best to spam the Ten23 hashtag on Twitter and bleat “QUANTUM! IT’S QUANTUM!!” in defence of their nonsense.

If you follow the process, no doubt you’ll know who trolls the internet leaving this statement anywhere someone criticises homeopathy;

“Real is scientific homeopathy like Conventional Allopathic Medicine (CAM). Evidence-based modern homeopathy is a nano-medicine bringing big results”

Firstly, wha??

Only one person can dish up quality woo like this. It’s Not-a-Doctor Nancy Malik of course. And what exactly is “scientific homeopathy”? Best you ask Dr Malik about that.

So given that it was WHAW, many science-based bloggers and tweeters took it upon themselves to make people “aware” that homeopathy is nothing more than an expensive placebo. In most cases, the liquid or sugar pills you buy from your pharmacist in fact contain nothing at all. Thus, the catch phrase of Ten23; “Homeopathy, there’s nothing in it”.

My best mate Richard Saunders did his bit, in the form of an epic slap-down story on Adelaide’s Today Tonight where Brauer “Natural Medicine” came in for a bollocking. As Phil Plait so eloquently put it, this story was unique for the token homeopath not the token sceptic, the latter being the usual way things work on commercial television. If you haven’t seen this video, take the 10 minutes to watch it – it’s great. Richard delivers some succinct and pointed sound bites which really bring the message home (and I’m not too coy to say I was sitting off camera coaching him for this part!).

But, like many sacred cows, homeopathy is an unsinkable rubber duck and despite 200 years and 200 clinical trials, there is still no evidence that homeopathy works (see how homeopathy works here). This leaves homeopaths mumbling excuses like “RCTs don’t work for homeopathy” or “one day quantum physics will solve it”.

Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

So it was with great delight that I opened my Australian Doctor email today to find an article by Paul Smith (whom I highly respect) with the headline; “National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) declares: homeopathy ‘not efficacious’”. It’s a subscription based article so I can’t copy paste it here, but I can provide a summary.

“The NHMRC’s position is…it is unethical for health practitioners to treat patients using homeopathy, for the reason that homeopathy – as a medicine or procedure – has been shown not to be efficacious.”

This is currently a draft statement, apparently drawing on several issues; claims that “homeopathic vaccinations” are an effective substitute for vaccines, recent deaths (see here and here) in Australia where homeopathy was implicated and the findings by the UK Science and Technology Committee in 2010 which concluded that the UK National Health Service should cease funding homeopathy.

This is the first time the NHMRC has spoken out against homeopathy and the implications are significant. As Paul says;

“If the public statement is formally adopted by the council, the major health insurers – Medibank Private, HCF, NIB and MBF – will have to justify why it is using taxpayers’ money to fund “unethical” homeopathic treatments.”

Three billion dollars of taxpayers money is provided every year to fund private health insurance rebates by the government and this includes homeopathy. Should the NHMRC declare it “unethical”, health funds will be under pressure to pull funding for quack remedies like homeopathy.

It’s too early to tell at this stage if this will happen, since the statement is still a draft, but it is tantalising to think that science and rationalism could win this one.

I encourage the NHMRC to formalise this statement and declare homeopathy unethical and devoid of efficacy. Of course people will still be able to buy it, but at their own expense instead of that of the tax payer.

And maybe, just maybe, this will see the end of doctors prescribing it and pharmacists selling it. And wouldn’t that be a huge win for science and scepticism.

The full article (subscription required) can be found here


Subscribe to comments Comment | Trackback |
Post Tags: , ,

Browse Timeline


  • Pingback: Pseudoscience homeopathy can get you a health sciences degree at Australian universities. The end of the world is nigh! « Sans Science

  • http://scepticsbook.com Maggie

    @Hysan, if you’re prepared to pay hugely elevated prices for sugar and water then that’s up to you. Ten dollars seems a lot to pay for a product that has nothing in it. At least when I’m buying a pharmaceutical there’s something in it – an active ingredient. It’s your choice to part with your cash if you are aware that there is nothing in homeopathy. Many consumers don’t know this. Let them decide once they’re aware they’re buying expensive sugar and water.

  • Hysan

    A placebo, perhaps. But surely not an expensive one, as the original blogger “Maggie” states. Rather, it is the established medical industry that sells expensive placebos. I get my homeopathic remedies for about $10. Even if they are only placebos, that is way cheaper than the medical idustrial complex charges, and multiplied many thousand-fold by the number of doctors prescribing ‘guesswork’ (or worse) in the name of science. Let’s call hypocrisy hypocrisy, folks.

  • Dominic Jones

    As a naturopath, I studied homeopathy for four years and used to use it to what I thought was great effect. With further research and the lack of answers to what I thought were pertinent questions (some of which have been raised here) I ceased using it and favour evidence based medicine, nutritional and herbal and counselling.. Still, from time to time people will ask for it and go elsewhere if I do not prescribe it. It IS entrenched and regardless of whether people believe it to be placebo, it IS effective in some cases because people believe it to be, they feel better for spending time talking about and examining their complaint etc. Is it just as unethical to send them elsewhere as it is to prescribe Apis 200C?

  • http://bit.ly/9aE5hL Dr.Nancy malik

    A. Basic Fundamental Research
    B. High Dilution Research
    C. Clinical Research
    1. Double-blind Randomised Placebo-Controlled Trial
    3. Double-Blind Studies
    4. Cohort/Observational/Pilot Studies
    5. Systematic Reviews & Meta Analysis
    D.
    6. Homeopathy as a Genetic Medicine
    7. Evidence for specific disease conditions
    8. Homeopathy superior to conventional
    9. Homeopathy cost-effective than conventional
    10. Homeopathy equals conventional
    11. Homeopathy superior to placebo
    12. Homeopathy improving quality of life
    E.
    13. Evidence-based homeopathy
    14. To distinguish one homeopathy medicine from another
    15. To distinguish homeopathy medicine from water
    F.
    16. Animal Studies
    17. Plant Studies

    Papers related to the above domains are available at http://knol.google.com/k/scientific-research-in-homeopathy Which of them you would like to see?

  • Henk van der Gaast

    Nancy, fraud is fraud, pious fraud is fraud. Lying to further perpetuate fraud is just a bit dumb. Homeopathy has not been shown to work in any properly conducted trial.

    Never has, never will.

    Sure some hack students may have a go at it. But its never been trialled correctly. If what you say were correct, homeopathy practitioners should have been the gold standard science drivers for trials. Instead they are all inexperienced hacks. Can’t do math, can’t do science. Never did medicine.

  • AndyD

    I can fly and I do so regularly. It’s weird and I can’t explain it but I can do it. When subjected to traditional aeronautical testing, I fail – but aeroplanes that pass those tests regularly crash and people die so using the failed testing methods applicable to mere planes is narrow minded. Scepticism seems to kill my ability to demonstrate my flying ability but that doesn’t mean I can’t fly. Sure, science can’t explain how I do it, but science doesn’t know everything. Heck, it can’t even explain how bumblebees can fly! Everyone knows that.
    .
    Sorry for not using random capitalisation and bizarre mis-spellings or tortured grammar.

  • Chris

    And Nancy Malik is a spambot.

  • http://bit.ly/dmnHYD Dr.Nancy Malik

    Evidence of homeopathy is undeniably positive and consistent. It’s a human evidence of experience, gathered from a real-world observation in a real-world setting (not in an ideal artificial laboratory) giving real-world solutions.

  • Wendy

    SkepticsBane – citations needed for both the BBC documentary and the ‘other labs that have verified the effect’.

    Of course, under controlled conditions these results have failed to be replicated. Oh, and M(adeline) Ennis is on the editorial board of “Homeopathy”.
    http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=179303

  • ScepticsBane

    I see the skeptic quackers are out, in force, as usual, with their usual Homeopathic witch hunt, symbolic book burnings and burnings at the stake. Unfortunately for them, the fallacy of scientism, into whose abyss many of the sceptic quackers have fallen, hook, line and diluted water, has reared its ugly head and like the evil eye on Mount Mordor, effected a zombiefication of their intellects as they fall into perfect lockstep with their affirmations, and delusions of scientific “evidence” and “reason”.

    But to use the failed testing methods applicable to mere pharmaceutical drugs as the one true “gold” standard of testing Homeopathy is as stupid and narrow minded as attempting to use a ruler to weigh a rock. But the diluted Homeopathic remedies have “nothing” in them, we are told. But tests by, for example, researcher M. Ennis have indicated that even when all the molecules of a substance are diluted away, biological effects, as though the missing molecules were still there, are still activated (Inflammation Research Vol 53, p181). The cause is unknown but other labs have indeed verified the effect. A BBC documentary claims to have “repeated” the experiment with negative results, but the addition of chemicals not in Ennis’ test exempt this counterexample, not to mention that the “documentary” experiment was never published.
    The fallacy of scientism thinking, or more correctly, bullying, in which narrow minded constraints on a subject are used to terminate all debate and to permanently ostracize and discredit opponents, along with powerful evidence in favor of Homeopathy can be seen in an article by scientist chemist and Homeopath Lionel Milgrom, “Beware Scientism’s Onward March”. Real skeptics, not of the reflex quacker persuasion, are urged to read his article, easily found for example at this link:
    http://www.anh-europe.org/news/anh-feature-beware-scientism%E2%80%99s-onward-march

  • Wendy

    Tim, the exact mechanism of anaesthetics (which is a really really broad class of drugs) may not be wholly mapped out but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t scientific evidence of efficacy or action. The effect of anaesthetics is real and measurable, and beyond that of placebo. Homeopathic remedies do not enjoy that same evidence beyond placebo at all, nor do they have any evidence of measurable active ingredient in them. Misrepresentation of quantum physics, string theory and nano-technology does not a cohesive, testable hypothesis make. If the continual trials and research into homeopathy do start revealing reproducable evidentiary results that shows efficacy and action then that will be a different matter.
    Like Maggie said – anything based in reality or science(and not wishful thinking and co-opting of current scientific terminology) would really help.

  • http://scepticsbook.com Maggie

    @Tim, we don’t want the entire mechanism, but something, anything based in reality or science would help. Water has a memory is just bollocks.

  • Tim Spinks

    Allopathy (modern western medicine) relies on anaesthetic for operations. However it does not understand how aneasthetic works. It’s good enough to know that it does work.

    Why then do critics of homeopathy expect the entire mechanism explained before they will accept it? Ddouble standards, methinks.

    BTW, I am not supporitng homeopathy here. I am merely critising the unscientific standards employed by so-called sceptics – the I-don’t-understand-it-therefore-it-can’t-work attack.

  • reasonablehank

    14% cheaper than antibiotics? Imma push that shit up some dude with VRE and stuff and he’ll thank my ass. I’ll be a freaking superhero to his family. AMIRITE?

  • http://scepticsbook.com Maggie
  • http://www.mycolleaguesareidiots.com/ Jason

    I clicked one of Malik’s “studies” at random. and did a quick skin read. It outlined how homeopathy was 14% cheaper than antibiotics.
    .

    only 14%? It’s WATER! it should be thousands of % cheaper, unless they’re making it with Evian.
    .

    It also uses apples/oranges comparisons to determine that homeopathy gives relief quicker than placebo:
    .

    “This study demonstrates that 72% of the patients have pain control with homeopathy within 12 hours, compared to 60% in 24 hours, with placebo treatment.(3)”
    .

    The only reason I can see to do the comparison this way is because the “researchers” are trying (rather pathetically) to force a favourable result. A true comparison would compare both at the same times, and plot over time, with both graphed together. That way, relationships can be inferred or rebutted. What a transparent piece of manipulation.
    .

    Utter bunk. If this is the quality of Malik’s “papers”, I’m not reading on.
    .

    FAIL FAIL FAIL, MALIK.

  • Scott Hansen

    @Nancy
    All the majority of these studies show is that homeopathy works no better than standard placebo. Please explain how a drop of active ingredient into millions of gallons of water is effective? And don’t give us this “quantum” nonsense (unless of course you are actually a physicist and know what you are talking about).
    I heard someone say the other day that if homeopathy works like that, then the very same “medicine” also contains all the sewerage that has passed through it throughout the Milena. Kind of hard to dismiss that little nugget right there.

  • http://bit.ly/9aE5hL Nancy Malik

    190 studies in support of homeopathy medicine published in 82 peer-reviewed international medical journals out of which 96+ are FULL TEXT out of which 95 are PDF which can be downloaded at [link removed]

  • Scott Hansen

    @Grenangle,

    It seems that the less one trains, the more one is qualified to be a homeopathic “practitioner”.

    Huh, who would’ve thunk it.

  • Grenangle

    Comment on a Abha Light youtube vid

    Well, these videos have truly inspired me.

    Several months ago I posted many negative comments about homeopathy,

    which I truly regret doing now.

    Since then, I have obtained certification as a licensed homeopathic practitioner

    and have started? receiving patients.

    It is working great!

    How long does it take to be a Dr.?

  • Scott Hansen

    Nancy, your statement right there makes as much sense as homeopathy does…. not much. Please expand what you mean. Or do you practice homeopathic writing as well? As in the less you write, the more effective it is? If thats the case, you could practice not writing anything at all for the rest of your life. How potent would that be?

    Awesome.

  • Richard

    @ Nancy – Homoeopathy is a republic?

  • http://machinegunkeyboard.com/ weezmgk

    Nancy, I’d very much appreciate you not plagiarising Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address to drive your feelgood fraud scam, ok? Fuck you very much.

  • http://www.mycolleaguesareidiots.com/ Jason

    “Homeopathy is of the people, for the people, and by the people”

    So is cannibalism. Think about it*.

    * yes, I know, it’s the Malik bot and it doesn’t think about anything, yeah yeah.

  • http://bit.ly/dmnHYD Nancy Malik

    Homeopathy is of the people, for the people, and by the people

  • Pingback: drgen.com.ar

  • Michael Kingsford Gray

    Wow! This video grab is an astounding turnabout from the usual apparently “paid” pseudo-adverts for the latest scam.
    The media seem to have caught on that most folk are angry about being conned by this billion-dollar rip-off industry.

  • Adriana

    One of my favourite websites is Quackwatch.

  • Mark

    I have encountered Dr? Nancy Malik on the Topix homeopathy forums (http://www.topix.com/forum/med/homeopathy) – she is a complete idiot. I got her to admit that “vital forces” have never been measured but she has yet to explain how she can tell that homeopathy has any effect on vital forces if you cannot measure them. She doesn’t appear to have any logical skills.

    One thing that comes through the Topix forums is how entrenched homeopathy has become throughout much of Asia. Very sad.

  • Nick Andrew

    Great video!

  • GerryC

    Perhaps one of the things we could do when the final version comes out, is to lobby our health funds to remove Homeopathy from the list of things you can claim using the report as evidence.

  • http://shellity.blogspot.com shellity

    Tentative and conditional Huzzah!