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Australian Health Council Declares That Homeopathy Might Be Kinda Useless

As long as they can ward off everything that's trying to kill them down there, they'll be okay.


Holistic medicine fans just can’t seem to catch a break lately. Just weeks after going head-to-head with Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia fame, now they’ve got the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to contend with, as the organization now claims that ‘there is no reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective for treating health conditions.’

While most people conflate homeopathy with all forms of holistic medicine, it is actually a separate 200-year-old practice that’s founded on the principle that “like cures like.” In other words, homeopaths believe that when heavily diluted, substances that produce symptoms in a healthy person can treat those same symptoms in an ill person. It’s sort of like how vaccines teach your immune system to recognize and fight off diseases, except vaccines do this thing where they’re based on science and biology, so they actually work.

The NHMRC, an offshoot of Australia’s Department of Health and Ageing, is set to release a 300-page draft report charting the evidence (or lack thereof, we suppose) of homeopathic effectiveness across 68 different clinical trials. While they acknowledge the power that the placebo effect might have on patients, they also conclude that there is no evidence to suggest that homeopathy does anything to treat illness on its own.

“People who use homeopathy need to understand the potential benefits and risks,” the information paper accompanying the draft report says. “Health professionals also need to know what homeopathy is, be aware of the current scientific evidence from research on homeopathy, and understand any possible benefits and risks to patients – particularly when people decide to use homeopathy instead of other treatments, especially in place of other, evidence based treatments.”

As it probably goes without saying, representatives of homeopathy are not happy about this development. Australian Homeopathic Association spokeman Greg Cope was particularly disappointed. “What they have looked at is systematic trials for named conditions when that is not how homoeopathy works,” he said in a statement. So… wait. How does it work, then? Magic? Because call me crazy, but if you can’t replicate the results of a medical treatment in a similar environment, then I’m gonna go ahead and assume that the treatment doesn’t do a whole lot.

The paper is currently available for review through the NHMRC website and will be finalized after submissions close on the 26th of May.  In the meantime, they’ve also released a helpful guide for clinicians and doctors about how to discuss homeopathy — or “complementary medicine” — to their patients. Spoiler alert! It pretty much says that we should all be real skeptical of that stuff.

(via Herald Sun and NHMRC)

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