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"Homeopathic remedies no better than placebo, study finds"

Globe and Mail

Source: Globe and Mail

Published: 26 Aug 2022

Category: Pharmaceutical

Rating: (2½ stars)

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

Homeopathic remedies may help people feel better, but the impact appears to be no greater than a placebo effect, a comparison of more than 200 studies of alternative medicine and conventional treatments concludes.

Homeopathy, which aims to stimulate a patient's own healing processes with minute dilutions of specific remedies, is based on the theory of treating "like with like." The patient describes symptoms in detail and the practitioner prescribes tiny, non-toxic doses of a selected substance that, at higher doses, would produce those symptoms in a healthy person.

A group of international researchers wanted to determine whether homeopathic medicine actually works beyond the power of suggestion.

"We do know that people do get better with homeopathy," said co-investigator Dr. Matthias Egger, head of social and preventive medicine at the University of Bern in Switzerland. "I have friends who tell me they went to see a homeopath and got better.

"But the question is, how does it work?" After searching the medical literature, the researchers distilled 110 studies that compared homeopathic remedies to placebo, or dummy pills, and an equal number that compared conventional medicine treatments to placebo.

The original article can be found at:

The original article can found in the Media Doctor archives.

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 3 of 7
Availability of Treatment Not Applicable
Novelty of Treatment Not Applicable
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Evidence Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Not Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable
Quantification of Harms of Treatment Not Applicable

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

This article reports on a comparison between homeopathic and conventional medical treatments for a variety of conditions and concludes that homeopathic therapy does not offer any benefits beyond those of placebo. It includes an evaluation of the article by a homeopathic practitioner who disputes the results. The lead author of the study qualifies his findings by saying that homeopathy may help people feel better by virtue of the context in which it is practiced.

This relatively well-written article focuses on a recent meta-analysis study that compared the results of matched homeopathy vs. conventional medicine placebo-controlled trials in which the investigators conclude that clinical effects of homeopathy are placebo effects. While devoid of quantitative information, the author of this article provided a relatively accurate summary of the study findings, additional opinions from the investigators and from those who would not stand to benefit from the findings. Unfortunately, no information about the relative risks and costs of these general forms of therapy were provided by the investigators, or the authors of this article.

public forum

(29 Dec 2021) Ryan O'Farrell writes,

""The homeopathic effect, I have felt it myself, I have seen it in my patients, but it's very elusive, it's so difficult to quantify it" says a certified naturopathic "doctor".

That statement in itself lends credence to the conclusions of the report's author. Homeopathy certainly works in reducing symptoms of certain ailments, but only thanks to the placebo effect. The practioners of this medieval practice can't really admit this, since it undermines the mystique that leverages the power of placebo. However, they need to come up with a more thoughtful explanation than "it's very elusive".

What we really need is a branch of honest and caring medical specialists called "placebopaths"."

(22 Dec 2021) Francois Marsat writes,

""We do know that people do get better with homeopathy"..."But the question is, how does it work?". Yes, this is the main problem for narrow-minded scientists, but many phenomena are real that were not explained for centuries.

More serious is the argument that homeopathy does not work better than placebo. How can we explain then that it works on animals? And I have a personal testimony:

Reaching for a homeopathic remedy in the dark on my bed table, I took granules but my symptoms failed to go away as they usually do. In the morning, I discovered that I had taken the wrong remedy. So much for "placebo". And the beauty is that, with homeopathy, there was no risk that the "wrong" medicine could have any adverse effect."

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