Happy World Homeopathy Awareness Week

It’s official. The Aust Government says homeopathy is bollocks.

In a draft report, prepared in consultation with the public and homeopathy interest groups, Australia’s peak body for supporting health and medical research, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has concluded that homeopathy is not effective.

Overall finding
NHMRC concludes that the assessment of the evidence from research in humans does not
show that homeopathy is effective for treating the range of health conditions considered

These conditions include (but are not exclusive to)
• allergic rhinitis
• attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children
• bruising
• chronic fatigue syndrome
• diarrhoea in children – individualised homeopathy
• fibromyalgia
• hot flushes in women who have had breast cancer
• human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection
• influenza-like illness
• rheumatoid arthritis
• sinusitis
• sleep disturbances or circadian rhythm disturbances
• stomatitis (inflammation of the mouth) due to chemotherapy
• ulcers.

(For a full list, please see the pdf here)

Duh, I hear you say.

Well, yes. And I agree.

This report considered both the findings of the UK House of Commons Evidence Check for homeopathy (summarised here) which was unequivocally negative and the Swiss report on homeopathy (summarised here) that claimed it was effective. However, numerous issues have since been raised with the Swiss report, the least of which was undeclared conflicts of interest.

According to this report,

“…it contains no new evidence and misinterprets studies previously exposed as weak; creates a new standard of evidence designed to make homeopathy appear effective; and attempts to discredit randomised controlled trials as the gold standard of evidence. Most importantly, almost all the authors have conflicts of interest, despite their claim that none exist.

In the NHMRC review, the panel declared all their conflicts of interests, which is a very good thing. And this report supports the UK House of Commons report, published in 2010.

As a scientist who understands the laws of, well, science I have to wonder why this was even done to be honest. Especially since, according to some reports, this has cost the Aust tax payers over $140,000. And also since a previously leaked draft report (almost 2 years ago) said pretty much the same thing).

Hi NHMRC! Wanna know how homeopathy works? Well, check this website.

Here’s my opinion: homeopathy is magic witch craft that was invented before we even fully understood the laws of physics and chemistry. It defies all of these laws which are now accepted science. If it were true, we’d need to change the basic tenets of science. And I’m not the only one. Even Wikipedia knows.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and in this case homeopathy has failed. Dismally.

The full draft report, as a pdf, can be found here.

NB: it’s a draft, meaning it’s open for public submission. Hop to it people.

Summary of findings: (my emphasis)

NHMRC’s interpretation of the assessment of the evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy

In line with NHMRC’s function to “advising the community” ..and based on the
assessment of the evidence of effectiveness of homeopathy NHMRC believes:

• There is no reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective for treating health

People who choose homeopathy instead of proven conventional treatment may put
their health at risk if safe and evidence based treatments are rejected or delayed in
favour of homeopathic treatment.

Homeopathy should not be used to treat health conditions that are serious, or could become serious.

People who are considering whether to use homeopathy should first get advice from a
health professional (e.g. GP, specialist, nurse practitioner or pharmacist). Those who
use homeopathy should tell their health professionals, and should keep taking any
conventional medicines that they have been prescribed.

According to the report, the NHMRC has provided more than $86 million in funding for scientific research into complementary medicine and alternative therapies since 2000.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, I myself work on a supplement. But when there’s no plausible mechanism and after over 200 clinical trials still showing mostly negative results, isn’t it time to stop flogging a dead horse?

I think so.

Happy World Homeopathy Awareness Week. Be aware: it doesn’t work.

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  • Andy

    I did like it when the homeopathy “expert” on ABC News Breakfast tried to defend her chosen “religion” with the old “millions of people can’t be wrong” fallacy.

    If this defence had any standing, every religion ever invented by humans would be true, despite the fact they all contradict each other and that for each one to be true, each of the others must be false.

    Virginia Trioli generally strikes me as one of the most competent journos on Oz TV so I was a little disappointed by her apparent lack of commitment to the facts when interviewing Dr Zeps and repeatedly claiming bias. I hope she was just playing devil’s advocate on behalf of some of the viewers, though I’m not sure how that would be useful.

    I was also disappointed they had the homeopath on last, leaving many of her accusations and assertions unchallenged by anyone with half an idea about science.