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Australia Medicine

Australia Declares Homeopathy Nonsense, Urges Doctors to Inform Patients 408

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 gadget junkie ( 618542 ) <> 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'" []

  • by kooky45 ( 785515 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @10:25AM (#46704485)
    Actually, drinking nothing but pure water when you're dehydrated can often be very dangerous.
  • by wired_parrot ( 768394 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @10:50AM (#46704709)

    A while back I was prescribed an anti-depressant. The doctor said he didn't know if it would work for me. He said it wasn't even well understood *how* it worked.

    You had a bad and uninformed doctor. A good doctor should have at least a general idea of how the medication works, and he certainly shouldn't be prescribing drugs without knowing if they'd work or how!

    That confused me because presumably whatever was in the pill was added for a reason, but clearly there's a lot of trial and error. And clearly there are extremely nasty side effects from many drugs.

    So many pharmaceuticals' effectiveness may be overrated, as may be their safety. I'm not sure some medicinal plants are necessarily less effective or less safe.

    Presumably chemicals in our drugs are often extracted from nature. why wouldn't the same chemicals in their natural form have the same potential to work? For example, willow bark has salicin (from whence aspirin came), and has been used medicinally since the time of Hippocrates.

    There may be side effects from pharmaceutical drugs, but they are well understood as a result of the extensive testing they are required to go through, and a lot of effort is made to minimize those side effects. Medicinal plants have the same range of side effects. The difference is herbal medicine doesn't go through scientific testing, it's side effects are not required to be labeled and are not as well understood. Drugs that are isolated from medicinal herbs will typically try to isolate the active ingredient, reducing the chances of side effects from other plant ingredients that may have unwanted pharmacological properties and refining the dosage to the minimum necessary.

    The idea of treating the whole person instead of just the symptom is a growing concern in western medicine. This has always been the defining characteristic of homeopathy's holistic approach.

    So many homeopathic treatments are almost certainly bunk, but throwing out all homeopathy may be short sighted, just as throwing out all of western medicine would be.

    The defining characteristic of homeopathy is the "like cures like" approach, with medicine prepared from repeated dilution. This has been repeatedly proven to be bunk and without merit. If the core fundamentals of their medical approach is false, having been consistently disproven, why shouldn't the whole field be throw out as discredited and without merit?

  • by frodo from middle ea ( 602941 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @12:44PM (#46705773) Homepage
    Hindi is a language, Hinduism is the religion I think you meant. Hindi is spoken by many (not all) Indians, regardless of their religion.

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban