Homeopathy is bunkum. That’s the conclusion that the final NHMRC report into the evidence base of homeopathy has reached. They didn’t quite say bunkum though. What they did say was: “Based on the assessment of the evidence of effectiveness of homeopathy, NHMRC concludes that there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective”. You can read the full statement by clicking here. Nicely worded, to the point and very polite.
SBS featured a news segment about the findings on Wednesday evening and the first person to be interviewed about it was a homeopath. The homeopath disagreed of course, and the Australian Homoeopathic Association is going to publish an official response soon. If they are serious about criticising the report, what they should do is include a critical appraisal of the report. It is no good to just say ‘oh, they didn’t look at all the evidence’ (btw, the AHA submitted papers to the NHMRC as part of the public submission process and these papers were critically appraised using SIGN methodology). You have to do more work than that. Your response is also more likely to be respected if you do. There was a piece in the Guardian mid-week about the report ( Homeopathy not effective for treating any condition, Australian report finds) and the comments from readers are interesting (and funny) to read. Some of the comments are revealing. Some object to the reductionist approach taken by the evidence appraisal method and some highly regard first hand and anecdotal evidence, rejecting the paternalistic tone that the NHMRC has. There are quite a few people skeptical about how independent the NHMRC is (btw, the evidence review was undertaken by a third party).
The NHMRC is not in the business of telling consumers what health products they should or should not purchase. What they are doing is in the interest of the consumer – do these health products act in the way they are advertised? The final report indicates that they don’t. It is fine to use homeopathic remedies as a placebo – if it makes you feel good, then do so. Just tell your medical practitioner everything you are taking or doing.