DEBATE ON HOMEOPATHY
Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is the highest medical authority in the land and it is about to decide whether or not homeopathy is a valid form of treatment for Australians. The premise upon which the NHMRC’s Ethics committee is basing it’s findings upon, is a report from the UK House of Commons on homeopathy in 2000. The findings of this committee were not passed by the British Parliament, and homeopathy, while still under vigorous attack, is still available through the UK National Health Service.
If the NHMRC finds that homeopathy is an unproven therapy with no scientific evidence to support it, then it is likely that health rebates for homeopathy will become unavailable for people whose health funds currently offer it. From this point, the future of Australians being able to receive homeopathic medicine, and practitioners to use it, is far from certain.
Debate on Homeopathy in Australia
The debate about whether or not homeopathy works, has raged since it’s inception over 200 years ago. Little has changed. For some reason, homeopathy incites volatile reactions from health authorities and some medical doctors who firmly believe that it is nothing more than quackery.
It is pointless to try to convince anyone who is so vehemently opposed to homeopathy, but there are some undeniable facts that surround the practice of homeopathy:
- The first of these, is that many thousands of medical doctors around the world practice homeopathy. In many countries, homeopathy can be practiced only by medical doctors, who often combine homeopathy with their traditional medical practices. As for homeopathy in Australia, a small number of doctors use homeopathic medicines
- The second fact is, that in 2008, French virologist Luc de Montagnier, who won a Nobel prize for discovering the AIDS virus, “expressed support for the often maligned and misunderstood medical specialty of homeopathic medicine.” An interview with Dr Montagnier was published in Science magazine (24/12/ 2010)
- The third fact is that homeopathic medicines are effective on animals who, according to the scientific world, are not susceptible to the placebo effect. Vets around the world use homeopathy on their customers’ animals. A well-known example is the homeopathic treatment for mastitis in cows, which saves farmers thousands of pounds or dollars in vet fees, antibiotic costs and lost income due to wasted milk
- The fourth fact is, that a 2011 study by the Swiss government, which NHMRC Australia does not appear to be considering, concluded that: “homeopathy provides more bang for your euro (or buck).” In this report, complementary medicine was shown to be just as effective as conventional medicine, with homeopathy showing the greatest effect and cost benefit*
- The fifth fact is that homeopathy is acknowledged by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a valid form of health care. It is the second most commonly used form of medicine used in the world. In 1994, WHO’s Medical Office for Traditional Medicines, Dr X. Zhang, referred to the integration of homoeopathy into the national health systems of Germany, India, Mexico, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the United Kingdom.
The myth is that there is no valid research on homeopathy. In fact, homeopathy has a vast database of research which is universally ignored by its naysayers. See http://www.extraordinarymedicine.org/extraordinary-evidence-homeopathy-s-best-research/
These are but a few key pieces of information about homeopathy. Can it be proven that it works? Possibly not in the world of science in the foreseeable future. It took decades to ‘scientifically prove’ that smoking cigarettes is harmful, although we all knew that well before the scientific conclusion. In New Scientist, 31 May 2014, the feature article on paracetamol, states that it is not known exactly how “the world’s most popular drug” works. Despite questions over its safety and efficacy, this drug will be used around the world for many years to come.
Against a background of many commonly used health treatments that have not yet been scientifically proven, perhaps the question of whether homeopathy works or not, could be: ‘Why does a harmless medicine that has popularity second only to orthodox medicine and that has been embraced by many governments around the world, bother so many people so much that they want to see it eliminated?
For more information, about the debate on homeopathy, the International Council for Homeopathy website http://www.homeopathy-ich.org is a good first stop. It provides links to homeopathic organisations around the world.
Reference from this article about the debate on Homeopathy in Australia and the NHMRC
*Studer HP, Busato A., Speicherschwendi, University of Bern, Switzerland. Comparison of swiss basic health insurance costs of complementary and conventional medicine. Forsch Komplementmed. 2011;18(6):315-20. Epub 2011 Nov 25.