A prominent Professor and General Practitioner has slammed homeopathy as a “therapeutic dead-end”.
Practitioners of homeopathy claim to be able to stimulate healing responses to diseases by administering substances that mimic the symptoms of those diseases in healthy people.
Professor Paul Glasziou from Bond University headed the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) review last year that found that homeopathy did not effectively treat any of the 68 illnesses researched.
Since its release, the review and its authors have received some harsh criticism from homeopathy supporters, including accusations from the Australian Homeopathic Association.
The association recently accused the NHMRC of a “a prejudicial view” that affected their approach and findings. They also claimed the researchers were influenced by anti-complementary medicine campaigners and contrasted their findings with those of a Swiss review which included “interdisciplinary medical experts”.
“Homoeopathy has a two hundred-year worldwide history of clinical practice; homoeopathy is currently practiced in 41 out of 24 European countries, in the Americas, the Caribbean and the Indian subcontinent. In many instances homeopathy forms and integral part of national health programs. The World Health Organisation (WHO) promotes the endorsement, integration and evaluation of traditional medicine and recognises homeopathy as the second-most widely practise healthcare modality worldwide after Traditional Chinese Medicine,” the Australian Homeopathic Association said in their response letter to the NHMRC.
Professor Paul Glasziou has now rejected the association’s accusations.
“I had begun the journey with an ‘I don’t know’ attitude, curious about whether this unlikely treatment could ever work,” he says in an article for the British Medical Journal.
“Still, who would have believed that bacteria cause peptic ulcers, or vaccines for cancers would become routine. So just maybe… but I lost interest after looking at the 57 systematic reviews (on 68 Conditions) which contained 176 individual studies and find no discernible convincing effects beyond placebo.
“One surprise to me was the range of conditions that homeopathy had been evaluated in, including rheumatoid arthritis, radiodermatitis, stomatitis (inflammation of the mouth) due to chemotherapy, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. What subsequently shocked me more was that organizations promote homeopathy for infectious conditions, such as AIDS in Africa or malaria. Given the current effective treatments, that seems a very dubious activity, and is another example that justifies the NHMRC statement that ‘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’.”
In the article, Paul says he was unsurprised by the Australian Homeopathic Association’s response.
“Unsurprisingly there has been considerable pushback from those who use or sell homeopathic remedies. Indeed the International Council for homeopathy is currently leading a fundraising effort: not to fund better research, but to attack the NHMRC document,” he says.
“I can well understand why Samuel Hahnemann – the founder of homeopathy – was dissatisfied with the state of 18th century medicine’s practices, such as blood-letting and purging, and tried to find a better alternative.
“But I would guess he would be disappointed by the collective failure of homoeopathy to carry on his innovative investigations, but instead continue to pursue a therapeutic dead-end.”
Have you ever used homeopathy as a method of treatment? What do you think about the review? Have your say in the comments below!