Homeopath practitioners believe that by diluting a solution of a substance that mimics the effect of a disease the diluted concoction will cure the disease. The solution is usually diluted so many times that chemists calculate there may be no molecules of the original substance left in the final medication.
Homeopaths claim this doesn’t matter as the water has a “memory” of the dissolved curative substance.
Scientifically this makes no sense whatsoever. Nevertheless homeopathic treatments have been clinically tested to see if they are effective. When tested under rigorous double blind conditions the results show homeopathy is no more effective than a placebo.
The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia recently released a report on homeopathy. After reviewing over 200 research papers that it considered worthy of inclusion (many studies of homeopathy are of such poor quality that their conclusions are unreliable) the NHMRC concluded:
“The review found no good quality, well-designed studies with enough participants to support the idea that homeopathy works better than a placebo, or causes health improvements equal to those of another treatment.”
If homeopathic concoctions are only water it may be asked what is the harm?
The main harm is that if a seriously sick person is persuaded to rely on homeopathic treatment they may delay treatment that is effective. There are several reported cases of this happening in Australia.
For example there are some homeopaths that claim to be able to treat cancer with their useless concoctions. There are also some that offer homeopathic vaccinations that would leave children susceptible to serious diseases.
The Australian Skeptics Victorian Branch (Vic Skeptics) have started a campaign to raise awareness that homeopathy is useless and possibly dangerous.
The aims of the Australian Skeptics’ campaign are:
• To encourage pharmacists to stop selling ineffective medications.
• To convince the government to stop funding homeopathic treatments.
• To expose homeopaths who make dangerous claims about homeopathy.
• To stop courses that train homeopaths receiving government funding.
• To make the public aware that homeopathic products are unlikely to be effective and are probably a waste of money.
The Brauer References: A major supplier of homeopathic products is the Brauer Company. Brauer does not make any dangerous claims about treating cancer or vaccination.
However they do make claims that give the impression homeopathic products are effective.
For example on the Brauer website is a list of 14 references on homeopathy. This statement precedes the list (From https://www.brauer.com.au/references ).
“CREDIBILTY THROUGH RESEARCH: HERE AT BRAUER NATURAL MEDICINE WE BELIEVE IN PROVIDING YOU WITH THE MOST RELEVANT AND UP TO DATE INFORMATION. THROUGH HONESTY AND TRANSPARENCY WE AIM TO ESTABLISH YOUR TRUST IN OUR PRODUCTS.”
This seems to imply that the references show that their homeopathic products are effective. Knowing that this was unlikely some members of the Victorian Skeptics checked the references. An academic from the Pharmacy College kindly downloaded and printed the references that were articles. This is what we found:
• Six were irrelevant as they had no results of scientific testing of effectiveness.
• Four had some weak support for the effectiveness but the results were questionable.
• One reference was critical of the methodology of one of these four and accused the authors of research misconduct.
• One claimed that homeopathy was as effective as conventional treatment for vertigo but didn’t have a control for “no treatment”.
Note: Two were books that we decided not to buy.
I guess we should give Brauer credit for being transparent but we are not convinced from these references that homeopathy is any more effective as a medical treatment than a placebo.