Thursday, June 19, 2008

Homeopathy exposed as a fraud - again

I've long maintained that homeopathy is one of the longest-running and most successful medical frauds in history.

A professor in England is now offering a £10,000 prize to anyone who can prove that homeopathy actually works. I don't think he's in any danger of losing his money.

One of the country's leading professors of complementary medicine is offering a cash prize to anyone who can prove homeopathy works.

Professor Edzard Ernst says he will award £10,000 to the first person who can show the controversial treatment is better than a placebo in a scientifically controlled trial.

Calling on homeopaths to 'put up or shut up', Professor Ernst said there was still no strong evidence that the method - whose fans include Prince Charles and Hollywood celebrities - was effective.

But furious homeopaths last night attacked the prize as a 'publicity stunt' and insisted they had 'more than enough proof'.

Homeopathy, which was developed 200 years ago in Germany, is based on the principle that like cures like: That an illness can be treated by substances that produce similar symptoms.

For example, it is believed onions, which make eyes itchy and tearful, can be used to relieve the symptoms of hay fever.

Homeopaths also believe that the greater the dilution of the medicine, the more potent the potion, and so ingredients are mixed in tiny amounts with water or alcohol.

A typical remedy could have one part of an ingredient to one trillion, trillion parts of water.

Although scientists argue the 'cures' are so diluted they are unlikely to contain any of the original substance, homeopaths claim the water retains a 'memory' of the active ingredient, which it passes to the body to help fight the illness.

Professor Ernst - a former homeopath himself who now researches complementary medicine at Exeter University - said 200 strictly controlled trials had failed to find any evidence that homeopathy worked.

'If you do a systematic look at all the evidence you fail to demonstrate strong evidence in favour of homeopathy,' he added.

However, despite the lack of evidence, supporters of the treatment continue to claim there is hard proof, he said.

Some selectively pick studies that support the treatment, but ignore those that don't, or misquote the findings of trials, or rely on flawed studies, he claimed.

Dr Simon Singh, who co-authored the book Trick or Treatment with Professor Ernst, said homeopathy only worked as a placebo.

'If homeopathy could be proven to be effective it might earn the researcher a Nobel Prize in Medicine,' he said.

'He or she would also deserve Nobel prizes in chemistry and physics because the laws of science would need to be re-written.'

One of the best debunkings of homeopathy I've ever seen is delivered by James Randi in the video clip below. It's worth watching.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There are some homeopaths who basically treat patients without always resorting to modern "drugs" that the pharma folks like to push on everyone. I think the pharma plan is worse that homeopathy in that the pharmas like to have everyone think that whatever ails them can be cured by simply taking a pill! Which of course is utter nonsense.

Homeopaths will work with patients to give them advice that can work. For instance, drugs will not cure obesity--but diet and lifestyle changes can (as in "eat less and exercise more").

My grandfather had the best quote I've ever heard about doctors. He said, "If doctors are so smart, why do *they* die!?"

-- chicopanther