Homeopathic medicines do not differ from placebos (dummy medicines) in their action and can even harm health, scientists from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) said. They presented their almost 300-page report on this topic, which is published on the organization’s website.
Authoritative experts from the council’s ad hoc working group re-analyzed data from 57 reports on the use of homeopathic medicines for the treatment of 68 different diseases – both in comparison with placebo and with other drugs, and without comparisons. They involved patients with a wide range of diseases, including migraine, asthma, malaria, burns, chronic back pain, premenstrual syndrome, pain after orthopedic surgery, skin diseases, toothache, SARS and many others.
Homeopaths have been claiming for over 200 years that their medicines help with a variety of ailments. Their main principle is to treat like with like, that is, with those substances that cause symptoms similar to those of diseases. In this case, the active substance is subjected to repeated dilution with water, so that sometimes in the resulting preparation there is not a single molecule of what is diluted. In this case, homeopaths say that information about the substance remains in the water, and it is this “memory” that is the medicine. However, comparing the results of treatment presented in various studies of homeopathic “balls” and “powders”, scientists did not find significant differences from placebo. (This term refers to medicines that are similar to real ones, but do not contain any active substances. It has been used since the middle of the twentieth century, and it is formed from the Latin word placere , which means “to like”). Moreover, many of the studies proving the effect of homeopathy were not conducted according to the rules: either too few patients participated in them, or the design of the study did not correspond to the accepted norms in science.
Why do many people believe that homeopathic remedies help them? Doctors believe that this is a manifestation of the placebo effect, which, as studies of psychologists have shown, affects more than 30% of people. But such an effect speaks of another powerful factor in recovery – the possibilities of our psyche. Self-hypnosis or suggestion can set the body to heal if a person believes in it. Many doctors even use it consciously, hoping for the reserves of the patient’s body. Apparently, the effect of homeopathy is also built on this, which, despite all the objective data about the absence of any real effect on the body, is a very profitable business. And some countries have even introduced tax incentives for manufacturers of useless pills.
“People who choose homeopathy instead of conventional medicine are putting their health at significant risk,” said Australian Medical Association President Dr. Richard Cheung . “In this case, the patient refuses to take or takes late those drugs, the effectiveness and safety of which has been proven.”