Diluted credibility: homeopathy = placebo

  • post Type / Campaigns
  • Date / 20 January 2006

The Lancet, the respected UK-based medical journal, has published its conclusions about homoeopathy after examining findings from 110 homoeopathy trials and as many trials of conventional medicine. “There was weak evidence for a specific effect of homeopathic remedies, but strong evidence for specific effects of conventional interventions – this finding is compatible with the notion that the clinical effects of homeopathy are placebo effects.”

The study’s lead author and statistical analyst Matthias Egger of Switzerland’s University of Berne wrote “We acknowledge that to prove a negative is impossible, but we have shown that the effects seen in placebo-controlled trials of homeopathy are compatible with the placebo hypothesis.”

In its editorial, The Lancet urged doctors to tell their patients about the absurd dilutions on which homoeopathy lays its claims (the weaker the solution the more effective the medicine is claimed to be), and the lack of benefits of taking homeopathic medicines. The editorial also recommends that doctors take more time to connect with patients rather than just prescribing and forgetting.

Reuters News Agency reports that the 200-year old system of alternative medicine has been showing increased sales. In Britain alone, sales of homeopathic medicines have grown by a third in the past five years to £32 million pounds in 2004.

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