Homeopathic remedies just a placebo, say researchers

Homeopathy dismissed as a placeboPic: Getty

Researchers in Australia have produced a scathing report into the effectiveness of homeopathy, and insisted herbal remedies merely act as a placebo.

Reviewing studies into the effect of alternative medicines on 68 health conditions ranging from asthma and arthritis to cholera, burns and chronic fatigue syndrome, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) claimed "there is no reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective" in treating any of the health problems.

The NHMRC researchers dismissed anecdotal support for the effectiveness of homeopathy, writing in their report: "No good quality, well designed studies with enough participants for a meaningful result reported either that homeopathy caused greater health improvements than a substance with no effect on the health condition, or that homeopathy caused health improvements equal to those of another treatment."

And now Professor John Dwyer, an immunologist and emeritus professor of medicine at the University of New South Wales, has called for the issue of homeopathic treatments to be "put away" once and for all.

He told Guardian Australia: "Obviously we understand the placebo effect. We know that many people have illnesses that are short lived by its very nature and their bodies will cure them, so it's very easy for people to fall into the trap that because they did A, B follows."

Dr Richard Choong, Western Australia president of the Australian Medical Association, went further, saying: "Homeopathy is not a science. It is not based in science. In a lot of cases it can be considered dangerous and can risk people's lives."

Homeopathy is offered as a treatment in the UK, though it is not widely available.

Do you use homeopathic treatments? What do you make of the suggestion that the effect is that of a placebo? Leave your comments below...