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Australia Medicine

Australia Declares Homeopathy Nonsense, Urges Doctors to Inform Patients 408

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the healing-crystals-considered-harmful dept.
jones_supa (887896) writes "Homeopathy is a 200-year-old form of alternative medicine based on the principle that substances that produce symptoms in a healthy person can be used to treat similar symptoms in a sick person. The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia has officially declared that homeopathic remedies are useless for human health. The body today released a guide for doctors (PDF) on how to talk to their patients about the lack of evidence for many such therapies. Doctors will also be told to warn patients of possible interactions between alternative and conventional medicines. On top of that, the council has produced a 300-page draft report that reviews the evidence for homoeopathy in treating 68 clinical conditions. It concludes 'there is no reliable evidence that homoeopathy is effective for treating health conditions'.

Representing the opposite viewpoint, Australian Homeopathic Association spokesman Greg Cope said he was disappointed at the narrow evidence relied on by the NHMRC in its report. 'What they have looked at is systematic trials for named conditions when that is not how homeopathy works,' he said. Homeopathy worked on the principle of improving a person's overall health and wellness, and research such as a seven-year study conducted in Switzerland was a better measure of its usefulness, he added. There are about 10,000 complementary medicine products sold in Australia but most consumers are unaware they are not evaluated by the domestic medicines safety watchdog before they are allowed on the market."
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Australia Declares Homeopathy Nonsense, Urges Doctors to Inform Patients

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  • by Roxoff (539071) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @09:33AM (#46703961) Homepage
    "There are about 10,000 complementary medicine products sold in Australia but most consumers are unaware they are not evaluated by the domestic medicines safety watchdog before they are allowed on the market." Why on Earth would you ever submit a product to the medicines watchdog when it doesn't contain medicine? You might as well ask them to evaluate the effects of Heinz Tomato Soup as a medicinal recipe. It does bring feelings of well-being and contentment, you know.
    • by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @09:41AM (#46704063) Homepage Journal

      Because not all of them are intentional frauds. Just like most pastors firmly believe in god(why did I have to go there?) many homeopaths firmly believe in their system of medicine. Others of each group are intentional frauds who see dollar signs, and have no qualms with manipulating suckers.

      • by symes (835608) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @09:59AM (#46704237) Journal

        Substituting one god for another isn't going to effect your well-being to any great extent. Substituting homeopathy for medicine will.

      • Just like most pastors firmly believe in god

        Too bad no government has enough courage to officially release a 300 pages document that informs people there is no proof of the existence of [a] god.

        • Too bad no government has enough courage to officially release a 300 pages document that informs people there is no proof of the existence of [a] god.

          Plenty of governments, from revolutionary France, to the Soviet Union and Maoist China, have actively suppressed religion, with varying degrees of success.

      • by Maritz (1829006)

        Because not all of them are intentional frauds.

        While I think this is perfectly true, I think it bears mentioning that it's not quite that innocent. They may well believe it's true, but they are also completely immune to evidence showing that it doesn't work. They ignore and dismiss all evidence against their sacred cow. This isn't a whole lot better than being an intentional fraud in my eyes.

    • by jensend (71114)

      Perhaps tomato soup may have some beneficial effects, but if you really want to find feelings of well-being and contentment, you should have more ketchup.

      Ketchup contains natural mellowing agents which help you stop worrying about your minor medical ailments. You don't need homeopathic medicine; you don't need a placebo. All you need is to relax, have some ketchup, and let your body take care of things naturally.

      These are the good years, in the golden sun,
      A new day is dawning, a new life has begun,
      The river

    • by dbIII (701233)
      Because some of those grass clippings in packets may be poisonous. There's already been a very dangerous placebo in Australia with some "travelcalm" tablets from a company called Pan producing hallucinations and other ill effects. Not being able to make a safe placebo and a variety of other problems drove Pan out of business.
  • But won't telling the patient "the facts" diminish the placebo effect?
    What would maximize the placebo effect?
    Is using the placebo effect always bad practice?
    • by rebelwarlock (1319465) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @09:37AM (#46704021)
      Let me see if I understand this correctly. You want people to remain ignorant so that they can trick themselves into thinking homeopathic treatments work. I'm too terrified by the prospect to even come up with a clever insult.
      • by Talderas (1212466)

        I believe a carefully constructed mosaic of facepalm images to appear to be one giant facepalm is appropriate.

      • by Linzer (753270)

        Let me see if I understand this correctly. You want people to remain ignorant so that they can trick themselves into thinking homeopathic treatments work. I'm too terrified by the prospect to even come up with a clever insult.

        Maybe that's just as well, and there's no need for insults. It's not such a bad idea. We'd need precise data to decide it, but as far as myths go, homeopathy could be a myth with some social value - that is, if you get significant results with innocuous and inexpensive treatment. As this friend of mine said, the placebo effect is strong with this one...

        The main thing is, information is and should be freely available. Anyone who can read can spend some time on the internet and find out the scientific viewpoi

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      Unless "conventional medicine" is also a placebo, there is no real medicine and all these shenanigans about homeopathy are just to strengthen the paradigm.

      But don't think too much about it, or you'll lose your only defense against the plague.

    • by BradMajors (995624) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @09:54AM (#46704171)

      Research has shown that you can maximize the placebo effect by charging more money.

      • by gsslay (807818)

        This is very true for just about everything. People like to believe that things that cost more are intrinsically better than cheaper alternatives. Even if all the evidence indicates no difference, or even that they are worse.

        Otherwise you'd feel like you were a sucker that had been ripped off in paying more for no good reason. And no-one likes to think they're a sucker.

    • It wouldn't seem to be the case. A study has suggested that the placebo effect works even if patients know they are getting fake medicine. Possibly because many patients know about the placebo effect,. and thus believe that believing has a positive effect.
      • by Rhaban (987410) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @10:34AM (#46704567)

        I use meta-placebo effect instead of medicines.

        I know that the placebo effect exists and is effective, so believing something can heal me will indeed heal me.
        Therefore, I juste have to believe that just believing that believing will heal me will heal me, and it heals me.

        • by Joce640k (829181)

          I know that the placebo effect exists and is effective, so believing something can heal me will indeed heal me.

          ...unless you have a real disease, in which case the "cure" won't last very long.

    • by khallow (566160)

      What would maximize the placebo effect?

      This is like the medical version of the broken window fallacy. Why do something that doesn't work and rely on the placebo effect when you can do something that does work and rely on the placebo effect?

    • by gadget junkie (618542) <gbponz@libero.it> on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @10:11AM (#46704339) Journal

      But won't telling the patient "the facts" diminish the placebo effect? What would maximize the placebo effect? Is using the placebo effect always bad practice?

      My father was a village MD, and we talked at lenght about this, so here goes:

      1. yes, and that's why the Placebo effect is largely ineffective on the medical professionals;
      2.Sadly, increasing price is one of the things that correlates with placebo effects;
      3. Emphatically no, but there is not a real need for specific "placebo"medicaments: lots of active principles help lower the symptoms, all the while not doing anything much, and they are mostly cheaper than "alternative" medicine.

      P.S.: as to point 2, there is a solution: putting a reasonably big price tag on the box and telling the patient that 90% of it is borne by the insurance, since it's so effective.

    • by BergZ (1680594) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @10:22AM (#46704453)

      But won't telling the patient "the facts" diminish the placebo effect?

      "Placebo effect works even if patients know they're getting a sham drug
      Study suggests patients benefit from the placebo effect even when told explicitly that they're taking an 'inert substance'"

      http://www.theguardian.com/sci... [theguardian.com]

    • by mwvdlee (775178) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @10:51AM (#46704727) Homepage

      Placebo's have an effect on things the human mind can control.
      Medication has an effect on things the human mind can AND cannot control.

      • To further the point, the placebo effect is at work even when you take medication with an active ingredient.

        Pain reduction, for instance, occurs much faster than is possible by purely chemical effects when you take a tylenol. I've heard up to 40% of the painkilling effect is placebo, and it happens moments after you take the pill. You're anticipating relief from the drug, and so your brain helps things along.

        Homeopathy is garbage, and it should be treated exactly as the Australian government is treating it.

  • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @09:33AM (#46703969) Journal

    It doesn't work by treating conditions. You're using it wrong. The first thing you need to do is stop expecting it to do anything.

  • BS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @09:35AM (#46703985)

    Homeopathy worked on the principle of improving a person's overall health and wellness

    If this is true, then why are they marketed to help with specific ailments?

  • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @09:35AM (#46703995)
    Most people I know who spout this nonsense don't visit the doctor very much, after all "big medicine" is in the pocket of "big pharma," so they wouldn't hear the message anyway.

    For those who might listen, one might temper it by saying homeopathy *does* work, but it's thanks to the placebo effect.
  • by sisterk (444554) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @09:41AM (#46704051)

    Courtesy of Mitchell and Webb

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMGIbOGu8q0 [youtube.com]

  • Homeopathy Works (Score:2, Interesting)

    by goruka (1721094)
    And is a scam at the same time. I've met homeopaths who were certain that It didn't really work, but have seen a great deal of patients recover from terrible illnesses only because it helped them not give up, or worked very efficiently as a placebo. Where I live, to work as homeopath, you need am university degree in medicine so It's not really that the practitioners don't know what they are doing, and will often send patients to a real doctor when they see imminent danger or can't see results.

    By the same
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      I have long maintained that if you could induce the placebo effect 50% of the time you'd be doing better than modern medicine.

      That being said, since homeopathy has no measurable effects, and works in an undefined way which can't be seen or measured ... calling it out as bunk is probably good.

      You can't make medical claims unless you have evidence to back it up. And it sounds like there's zero actual evidence.

      • by Quirkz (1206400)

        I have long maintained that if you could induce the placebo effect 50% of the time you'd be doing better than modern medicine.

        Don't you think modern medicine should have just as much of a chance of tapping into the placebo effect as anything else?

    • It's not the working or not working that pisses me off. It's charging $30 for a vial of distilled water that makes me hate all of them.
      • As someone noted, more expensive placebos seem to be more effective. If you're an ethical homeopath, you will charge those $30 to make it more effective, and then donate the money to cancer research foundations. ;-)
      • Homeopaths I know charge $8 per vial. And $4 of that is just for medically certified empty bottle.

        If it's $30 per vial where you are, I suspect more than half of that is going to the retail outlet.

    • Astrology should be banned,

      In my U.S. states, astrologers must use some form of, "For entertainment purposes only" so people (the ones not so gullible to visit an astrologer) are warned astrology isn't real.

      as it probably affects human relationships in an even more negative way.

      You mean more than preventing someone with a serious affliction for getting real medical help?

      Homeopathy does not, and has not, ever worked. Under any circumstance. The best that can be said about it is it get
    • but I have seen a great deal of patients recover from terrible illnesses only because it helped them not give up, or worked very efficiently as a placebo

      And how is that an improvement over giving them a medicine that beside a placebo effect of identical magnitude additionally causes direct pharmaceutical effects? Since when do these two effects clash?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by goruka (1721094)

        And how is that an improvement over giving them a medicine that beside a placebo effect of identical magnitude additionally causes direct pharmaceutical effects? Since when do these two effects clash?

        Your answer makes sense, but you lack the whole picture. Homeopathy doesn't work like that.
        Homeopathy is not just the "fake medicine", as most articles you read on the internet work. There is a whole theatrical performance. It works like this:

        1) The "doctor" asks for a few questions about your problems, your dreams, your social life, family, etc.
        2) He has a book where each of the things you mention (or the closest one) have an homeopathic ingredient listed
        3) He correlates and finds an ingredient that

  • by symes (835608) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @09:57AM (#46704201) Journal

    I visited a homeopath once. I had dreadful allergies and was quite desparate. So off I trundled to the homepaths tent in the festival I was attending. There they did some sort of reading and asked a few questions. They opened a huge old book and spent a few moments throughtfully reading through various passages. Then delivered the news that I needed arsenic. Only this poison could help me. They procused a small plastic bag containing small spherical white pills. I complained that I was not keen on taking arsenic in any shape of form. So they explained that they started with a huge vat of water with a little bit of arsenic in it. Took a tiny drop of that water and diluted it further, and once again until only the essense of asenic remained. There wasn't any arsenic in those pills. By this time I was laughing so hard I had completely forgotten about my allergies. I left with a big smile on my face and used the sugar pills in my coffee.

    So sorry everyone, homeopathy works.

    • Yeah sucks to be them. I've already patented using Vibranium to imbue water with the essence of arsenic by pulsing the natural molecular vibrations through the fluid.
  • I've seen two episodes of Dr. Oz. In the first, he talked about treating a jellyfish sting. Knowing nothing about jellyfish stings, I assume his advice was legit. The second episode he talked about homeopathic medicine and all of the wonderful treatment options it provided. He didn't laugh when he was saying that. I never watched again -- can't trust anything he says to be valid.

  • by 50000BTU_barbecue (588132) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @10:06AM (#46704283) Homepage Journal
    Surely I can pay for homeopathic medicine by simply rubbing money on the seller?
  • But here is an opposing viewpoint from someone without the ability to evaluate truth claims.

  • Homeopathy is using such small diluted amounts, that interaction should be impossible.

    Unless they are referring to interaction with other dubious natural remedies like rhino horn, and tiger balls, etc...

  • Or a big fat placebo. It's all the same crap!

  • by DrXym (126579) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @11:44AM (#46705201)
    If it's nonsense (it is), and it makes health claims (it does), and it doesn't work (it doesn't work), just ban the sale and promotion of such products or severely restrict its sale, health insurance coverage, and the people who practice this form of "treatment". Same goes for chiro, accupuncture, and other common forms of quackery.

A penny saved is a penny to squander. -- Ambrose Bierce

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