The Conversation. Abstract concepts within theoretical physics have been invoked to suggest explanations of how or why preparations might work, including quantum entanglement ,  quantum nonlocality ,  the theory of relativity and chaos theory. How to Find Your Vocation. Download Now The file download will begin after you complete the registration. A systematic review and meta-analysis found that the most reliable evidence did not support the effectiveness of non-individualized homeopathy. Want to tell the world? Veterinary Record.
A related issue is publication bias : researchers are more likely to submit trials that report a positive finding for publication, and journals prefer to publish positive results. Positive results are much more likely to be false if the prior probability of the claim under test is low.
Both meta-analyses , which statistically combine the results of several randomized controlled trials, and other systematic reviews of the literature are essential tools to summarize evidence of therapeutic efficacy. The evidence of bias [in the primary studies] weakens the findings of our original meta-analysis. Since we completed our literature search in , a considerable number of new homeopathy trials have been published.
The fact that a number of the new high-quality trials It seems, therefore, likely that our meta-analysis at least overestimated the effects of homeopathic treatments. Subsequent work by John Ioannidis and others has shown that for treatments with no prior plausibility, the chances of a positive result being a false positive are much higher, and that any result not consistent with the null hypothesis should be assumed to be a false positive.
A systematic review of the available systematic reviews confirmed in that higher-quality trials tended to have less positive results, and found no convincing evidence that any homeopathic preparation exerts clinical effects different from placebo. In , The Lancet medical journal published a meta-analysis of placebo-controlled homeopathy trials and matched medical trials based upon the Swiss government 's Programme for Evaluating Complementary Medicine , or PEK.
The study concluded that its findings were "compatible with the notion that the clinical effects of homeopathy are placebo effects". Other meta-analyses include homeopathic treatments to reduce cancer therapy side-effects following radiotherapy and chemotherapy ,  allergic rhinitis ,   attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and childhood diarrhoea, adenoid vegetation, asthma, upper respiratory tract infection in children,  insomnia ,  fibromyalgia ,  psychiatric conditions  and Cochrane Library systematic reviews of homeopathic treatments for asthma,  dementia,  attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder,  induction of labour,  upper respiratory tract infections in children,  and irritable bowel syndrome.
A systematic review and meta-analysis found that the most reliable evidence did not support the effectiveness of non-individualized homeopathy. The authors noted that "the quality of the body of evidence is low. The results of these reviews are generally negative or only weakly positive, and reviewers consistently report the poor quality of trials. The finding of Linde et. Some clinical trials have tested individualized homeopathy, and there have been reviews of this, specifically.
A review  found 32 trials that met their inclusion criteria, 19 of which were placebo-controlled and provided enough data for meta-analysis. These 19 studies showed a pooled odds ratio of 1. The authors concluded that "the results of the available randomized trials suggest that individualized homeopathy has an effect over placebo. The evidence, however, is not convincing because of methodological shortcomings and inconsistencies. A review found that homeopathic medicines did not prevent or treat acute respiratory tract infections in children.
Health organizations such as the UK's National Health Service ,  the American Medical Association ,  the FASEB ,  and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia,  have issued statements of their conclusion that there is "no good-quality evidence that homeopathy is effective as a treatment for any health condition".
The American College of Medical Toxicology and the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology recommend that no one use homeopathic treatment for disease or as a preventive health measure. Science offers a variety of explanations for how homeopathy may appear to cure diseases or alleviate symptoms even though the preparations themselves are inert:  : — While some articles have suggested that homeopathic solutions of high dilution can have statistically significant effects on organic processes including the growth of grain ,  histamine release by leukocytes ,  and enzyme reactions , such evidence is disputed since attempts to replicate them have failed.
The paper purported to have discovered that basophils , a type of white blood cell , released histamine when exposed to a homeopathic dilution of anti-immunoglobulin E antibody. The journal editors, sceptical of the results, requested that the study be replicated in a separate laboratory. Upon replication in four separate laboratories the study was published. Still sceptical of the findings, Nature assembled an independent investigative team to determine the accuracy of the research, consisting of Nature editor and physicist Sir John Maddox , American scientific fraud investigator and chemist Walter Stewart, and sceptic James Randi.
After investigating the findings and methodology of the experiment, the team found that the experiments were "statistically ill-controlled", "interpretation has been clouded by the exclusion of measurements in conflict with the claim", and concluded, "We believe that experimental data have been uncritically assessed and their imperfections inadequately reported. In and , Madeleine Ennis published a number of studies that reported that homeopathic dilutions of histamine exerted an effect on the activity of basophils.
The provision of homeopathic preparations has been described as unethical. Edzard Ernst , the first Professor of Complementary Medicine in the United Kingdom and a former homeopathic practitioner,    has expressed his concerns about pharmacists who violate their ethical code by failing to provide customers with "necessary and relevant information" about the true nature of the homeopathic products they advertise and sell:. Patients who choose to use homeopathy rather than evidence-based medicine risk missing timely diagnosis and effective treatment of serious conditions such as cancer.
In the UK Advertising Standards Authority concluded that the Society of Homeopaths were targeting vulnerable ill people and discouraging the use of essential medical treatment while making misleading claims of efficacy for homeopathic products. Pty Ltd and its director, for making false or misleading statements about the efficacy of the whooping cough vaccine and homeopathic remedies as an alternative to the whooping cough vaccine, in breach of the Australian Consumer Law. Some homeopathic preparations involve poisons such as Belladonna, arsenic, and poison ivy, which are highly diluted in the homeopathic preparation.
In rare cases, the original ingredients are present at detectable levels. This may be due to improper preparation or intentional low dilution. Serious adverse effects such as seizures and death have been reported or associated with some homeopathic preparations. On September 30, the FDA issued a safety alert to consumers  warning against the use of homeopathic teething gels and tablets following reports of adverse events after their use.
The agency recommended that parents discard these products and "seek advice from their health care professional for safe alternatives"  to homeopathy for teething. The pharmacy CVS announced, also on September 30, that it was voluntarily withdrawing the products from sale  and on October 11 Hyland's the manufacturer announced that it was discontinuing their teething medicine in the United States though the products remain on sale in Canada.
The investigation including analyses of the products is still ongoing and the FDA does not know yet if the deaths and illnesses were caused by the products. Instances of arsenic poisoning have occurred after use of arsenic-containing homeopathic preparations. A review by homeopaths reported that homeopathic preparations are "unlikely to provoke severe adverse reactions".
The lack of convincing scientific evidence supporting its efficacy  and its use of preparations without active ingredients have led to characterizations as pseudoscience and quackery,       or, in the words of a medical review, "placebo therapy at best and quackery at worst". He adds: "There is, to my knowledge, no condition for which homeopathy has been proven to be an effective treatment.
In our view, the systematic reviews and meta-analyses conclusively demonstrate that homeopathic products perform no better than placebos. The Government shares our interpretation of the evidence. In the Committee's view, homeopathy is a placebo treatment and the Government should have a policy on prescribing placebos. The Government is reluctant to address the appropriateness and ethics of prescribing placebos to patients, which usually relies on some degree of patient deception. Prescribing of placebos is not consistent with an informed patient choice — which the Government claims is very important — as it means patients do not have all the information needed to make choice meaningful.
Beyond ethical issues and the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship , prescribing pure placebos is bad medicine.
Their effect is unreliable and unpredictable and cannot form the sole basis of any treatment on the NHS. Homeopathy is a controversial topic in complementary medicine research. A number of the key concepts of homeopathy are not consistent with fundamental concepts of chemistry and physics. For example, it is not possible to explain in scientific terms how a preparation containing little or no active ingredient can have any effect.
This, in turn, creates major challenges to the rigorous clinical investigation of homeopathic preparations. For example, one cannot confirm that an extremely dilute preparation contains what is listed on the label, or develop objective measures that show effects of extremely dilute preparations in the human body.
Ben Goldacre noted that in the early days of homeopathy, when medicine was dogmatic and frequently worse than doing nothing, homeopathy at least failed to make matters worse:. During the 19th-century cholera epidemic, death rates at the London Homeopathic Hospital were three times lower than at the Middlesex Hospital. Homeopathic sugar pills won't do anything against cholera, of course, but the reason for homeopathy's success in this epidemic is even more interesting than the placebo effect: at the time, nobody could treat cholera.
So, while hideous medical treatments such as blood-letting were actively harmful, the homeopaths' treatments at least did nothing either way. On clinical grounds, patients who choose to use homeopathy in preference to normal medicine risk missing timely diagnosis and effective treatment, thereby worsening the outcomes of serious conditions. I feel confident that if she follows the advice she will regain her health.
In , Anthony Campbell , then a consultant physician at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, criticized statements by George Vithoulkas claiming that syphilis , when treated with antibiotics, would develop into secondary and tertiary syphilis with involvement of the central nervous system , saying that "The unfortunate layman might well be misled by Vithoulkas' rhetoric into refusing orthodox treatment". A review by W. Steven Pray of the College of Pharmacy at Southwestern Oklahoma State University recommends that pharmacy colleges include a required course in unproven medications and therapies, that ethical dilemmas inherent in recommending products lacking proven safety and efficacy data be discussed, and that students should be taught where unproven systems such as homeopathy depart from evidence-based medicine.
These axioms [of homeopathy] are not only out of line with scientific facts but also directly opposed to them. If homeopathy is correct, much of physics, chemistry, and pharmacology must be incorrect In , Mark Walport , the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser and head of the Government Office for Science , had this to say: "My view scientifically is absolutely clear: homoeopathy is nonsense, it is non-science.
My advice to ministers is clear: that there is no science in homoeopathy. The most it can have is a placebo effect — it is then a political decision whether they spend money on it or not.
It has no underpinning of scientific basis. In fact, all the science points to the fact that it is not at all sensible. The clear evidence is saying this is wrong, but homoeopathy is still used on the NHS. Homeopathy is fairly common in some countries while being uncommon in others; is highly regulated in some countries and mostly unregulated in others. It is practised worldwide and professional qualifications and licences are needed in most countries.
In Germany, to become a homeopathic physician, one must attend a three-year training programme, while France, Austria and Denmark mandate licences to diagnose any illness or dispense of any product whose purpose is to treat any illness. Some homeopathic treatment is covered by the public health service of several European countries, including France, Scotland, Luxembourg and England though the latter will cease in February In Austria, the public health service requires scientific proof of effectiveness in order to reimburse medical treatments and homeopathy is listed as not reimbursable,  but exceptions can be made;  private health insurance policies sometimes include homeopathic treatment.
On September 28, the UK's Committee of Advertising Practice CAP Compliance team wrote to homeopaths  in the UK to "remind them of the rules that govern what they can and can't say in their marketing materials". The letter also includes information on sanctions in the event of non-compliance including, ultimately, "referral by the ASA to Trading Standards under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations ". In February , Russian Academy of Sciences declared homeopathy to be "dangerous pseudoscience" and "on a par with magic".
Jarvis , the President of the National Council Against Health Fraud , said "Homeopathy is a fraud perpetrated on the public with the government's blessing, thanks to the abuse of political power of Sen. Royal S. Copeland [chief sponsor of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act ]. Mock "overdosing" on homeopathic preparations by individuals or groups in "mass suicides" have become more popular since James Randi began taking entire bottles of homeopathic sleeping pills before giving lectures.
In the campaign expanded and saw sixty-nine groups participate; fifty-four submitted videos. Food and Drug Administration FDA to initiate "rulemaking that would require all over-the-counter homeopathic drugs to meet the same standards of effectiveness as non-homeopathic drugs" and "to place warning labels on homeopathic drugs until such time as they are shown to be effective". If no such evidence exists, they must state this fact clearly on their labeling, and state that the product's claims are based only on 18th-century theories that have been discarded by modern science.
Failure to do so will be considered a violation of the FTC Act. In July the Center for Inquiry filed a lawsuit against CVS for consumer fraud over its sale of homeopathic medicines. Homeopathy is a total sham, and CVS knows it.
Yet the company persists in deceiving its customers about the effectiveness of homeopathic products.