There is no scientific case for homeopathy: the debate is over


‘Undeterred by the evidence, the public continue their long and intense love affair with homeopathy. Few wonder whether it is the homeopathic remedy or something else, eg the placebo-effect, that did the trick.’ The Muslim Times has the best collection of articles about religion and science

Source: The Guardian

By Edzard Ernst, who is a prize-winning physician and the founder of two medical journals. He is emeritus professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter and is co-author of Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial

Pharmacists who sell homeopathic remedies as anything other than placebos are putting their customers’ health at risk

Homeopathy has been with me all my life. As a boy, I was treated by homeopaths; my first post as a junior doctor was in a homeopathic hospital, later I researched homeopathy and published more than 100 papers on the subject, and finally I summarised the entire experience in a memoir entitled A Scientist in Wonderland.

In 1993, when I became professor of complementary medicine at Exeter, I was more than happy to give homeopathy the benefit of the doubt. I would have loved to show that it is effective beyond placebo, not least because anyone doing that would almost automatically deserve a Nobel prize. He or she would have to show that a sizeable chunk of our understanding of the laws of nature is quite simply wrong. Homeopathy is based on the belief that “like cures like” and that the dilution of a medicine – homeopaths call the process “potentiation” – renders it not weaker but stronger. As both of these assumptions fly in the face of science, critical thinkers have always insisted that few things could be more implausible than homeopathy.

But plausibility is not everything. In Exeter, we conducted trials, surveys and reviews of homeopathy in the faint hope that we might discover something important. What we did find was sobering:

 Our trials failed to show that homeopathy is more than a placebo.

 Our reviews demonstrated that the most reliable of the 230 or so trials of homeopathy ever published are also not positive.

 Studies with animals confirmed the results obtained on humans.

 Surveys and case reports suggested that homeopathy can be dangerous.

 The claims made by homeopaths to cure conditions like cancer, asthma or even Ebola were bogus.

The promotion of homeopathy is not ethical.

Now, the internationally highly respected Australian National Health and Medical Research Council have conducted what certainly is the most thorough and independent evaluation of homeopathy in its 200-year-long history. Already their preliminary report had confirmed that homeopathy is nothing other than treatment with placebos. Predictably, this caused a storm of opposition from enthusiasts of homeopathy, and they were invited to submit their evidence to the contrary. The Australians then considered this evidence carefully and have now published their final report. It arrived at the same conclusion as the previous document. If anything, it went one step further by pointing out 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”. Personally, I would go another step further and remind pharmacists who sell homeopathic remedies to the unsuspecting public that it is unethical to pretend they are more than placebos.

Read further

Suggested reading and viewing

Ted Talk: Homeopathy, Quackery and Fraud

Richard Dawkins on Medicine, Placebo and Homeopathy

Homeopaths offer services ‘to help fight’ Ebola epidemic in west Africa

Homeopathy not effective for treating any condition, Australian report

The contagious thought that could kill you

11 replies

  1. If “surveys and case reports suggested that homeopathy can be dangerous”, then surely it has to be more than a placebo. This seems like a rant rather than an article based on evidence. I find these people ridiculous. So many of these professors are abusers of their title and are bought by big pharma. Why do we not hear anything from the homeopath practitioners, the patients who visibly see a benefit on their health?

  2. A lot can be said about the inadequacies of the conventional ways of treatments too. Placebo or whatever millions of people have been benefiting from the homoeopathy for over a hundred year, people from all walks of life. The British Queen believes in the power of homeopathy and prefers to supplement conventional medicines with herbs and other natural healers. According to the queen’s physician Dr.Peter Fisher, the royal family has a long history of homeopathic treatments and doctors.
    Homeopathic medicines are also prepared from plants and other animal products which other methods of treatments use.
    Did they ever include qualified homoeopaths in their so called trials or they weren’t allowed by their paymasters in the multinational Drug industry?

  3. The best thing that the homeopaths can do is to pick up one disease that they think they can do the best and demonstrate the benefit in double blind studies over and over again, until their evidence becomes overwhelming for at least one disease.

    No one denies the rising sun!

    Then no one in their right mind can deny the righteousness of their claims and cause.

  4. Dear Dr Zia Shah,

    I hope you have a unbiased view about science and medical studies.

    To keep your paper neutral, you must publish other side of the story.
    Maybe you can start with John Hopkins study.

    And then some discussion on poor outcome and high failure rate of “modern” expensive drugs, could be another topic.


    Qaisar Qayyum MD

  5. If homeopathic remedies shrink a tumor by a tenth of a millimeter, I would give it a try! If homeopathic approach prolongs my life so I have a few additional moments with my loved one, it’s worth a try!
    However, I would intensify the effect with prayers, herbal therapy and of course my allopathic chemotherapy and radiation!
    It doesn’t hurt to add homeopathic in the mix of the cocktail to increase my chances of health and recovery🙏🏼

  6. “There is no scientific case for homeopathy: the debate is over”

    👍🏼 Great, then it’s a spiritual medicine.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.