Celebrate World Homeopathy Awareness Week with homeopathyawarenessweek.org

It's World Homeopathy Awareness Week, so the Good Thinking Society (a nonprofit devoted to promoting rational thought) has put up a new site at homeopathyawarenessweek.org in which you will be made aware of a bunch of facts that homeopathy advocates are often slow to mention -- like adults and children who've died because they were treated with homeopathic sugar-pills, the tragic foolishness of Homeopaths Without Borders, who are memorably described as "well-meaning folk [who fly] into places of crisis in the developing world carrying suitcases full of homeopathic tablets that contain nothing but sugar. It is not so much Médecins Sans Frontières as Médecins Sans Medicine."

The more aware you are of homeopathy -- that is, the more you learn about all the ways in which homeopathy has been examined by independent, neutral researchers who've tested its claims and found them baseless -- the less there is to like about it. From ineffective homeopathy "vaccine alternatives" that leave your children -- and the children around them -- vulnerable to life-threatening illnesses that have been brought back from the brink of extinction by vaccine denial to the tragic story of Penelope Dingle, who suffered a horrific and lingering death due to treatable bowel-cancer because she followed her husband's homeopathic advice, being aware of homeopathy is a very good thing.

As part of World Homeopathy Awareness Week, we would like to raise awareness of twelve key points about homeopathy:

    1. In 2010, the UK Government Science and Technology Committee analysed the research into homeopathy and concluded that “homeopathic products perform no better than placebos.” This conclusion was backed up this week in a review by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council. With many homeopaths claiming their pills can treat serious illnesses, homeopathy is a dangerous placebo.

    2. When Penelope Dingle chose to take the advice of her homeopath husband and treat her rectal cancer with homeopathic remedies, the results were tragic – her death was, according to the coroner, the result of being “influenced by misinformation and bad science”. There are real dangers in using homeopathy in place of real medicine.

    3. Homeopathy is big business. The homeopathic industry is highly-profitable for companies like Boiron, Weleda and Nelson’s. The UK homeopathic market is estimated at £213m per year – comparable to the US ($300m), France and Germany (£400m each). All this for treatments which have not been proven to be any more effective than placebo.

    4. In 2010, the NHS spent around £4 million on homeopathy – this money could instead be spent providing effective treatments, vital surgery and additional nursing staff. With NHS budgets under increasing pressure, wasting money by giving sugar pills to the sick is unjustifiable. According to the 2010 UK Government Science and Technology Committee: “The Government should stop allowing the funding of homeopathy on the NHS.”

Homeopathy Awareness Week

Homeopathy awareness can make the world a healthier, happier place [Michael Marshall/The Guardian]

Notable Replies

  1. I read the first letter of the post. No need to read further - it's just the same as if I read the whole thing.

  2. Maybe it's because Vaccine deniers and homeopaths are denying well-established scientific facts, which have little to nothing to do with the competence or lack thereof of any particular doctor.

  3. Think of a vaccine-denier like this:
    You're on an airplane. Someone tells you that the air on planes isn't very good for you - it's stifling, refiltered,and full of germs. It's better to breathe fresh air, like nature intended. So they start opening all the exit doors. While you're in flight.

  4. IMB says:

    Alarmist? Compare the risks of the diseases versus the risk of the vaccines :

    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/6mishome.htm

    Risk from Disease versus Risk from Vaccines
    Measles and Rubella vs. MMR Vaccine
    Even one serious adverse event in a million doses of vaccine cannot be justified if there is no benefit from the vaccination. If there were no vaccines, there would be many more cases of disease, and along with the more disease, there would be serious sequelae and more deaths. But looking at risk alone is not enough - you must always look at both risks and benefits. Comparing the risk from disease with the risk from the vaccines can give us an idea of the benefits we get from vaccinating our children.
    DISEASE
    Measles
Pneumonia: 6 in 100
Encephalitis: 1 in 1,000
Death: 2 in 1,000

Rubella
Congenital Rubella Syndrome: 1 in 4 (if woman becomes infected early in pregnancy)
    VACCINES
    MMR
Encephalitis or severe allergic reaction: 
1 in 1,000,000
    Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis vs. DTap Vaccine
    DISEASE
    Diphtheria
Death: 1 in 20

Tetanus
Death: 2 in 10

Pertussis
Pneumonia: 1 in 8
Encephalitis: 1 in 20
Death: 1 in 1,500
    VACCINES
    DTaP 
Continuous crying, then full recovery: 1 in 1000
Convulsions or shock, then full recovery: 1 in 14,000
Acute encephalopathy: 0-10.5 in 1,000,000
Death: None proven

    
The fact is that a child is far more likely to be seriously injured by one of these diseases than by any vaccine. While any serious injury or death caused by vaccines is too many, it is also clear that the benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh the slight risk, and that many, many more injuries and deaths would occur without vaccinations. In fact, to have a medical intervention as effective as vaccination in preventing disease and not use it would be unconscionable.
    Research is underway by the U.S. Public Health Service to better understand which vaccine adverse events are truly caused by vaccines and how to reduce even further the already low risk of serious vaccine-related injury.
    Top of Page
    MISCONCEPTION #5. Vaccine-preventable diseases have been virtually eliminated from the United States, so there is no need for my child to be vaccinated.
    It's true that vaccination has enabled us to reduce most vaccine-preventable diseases to very low levels in the United States. However, some of them are still quite prevalent - even epidemic - in other parts of the world. Travelers can unknowingly bring these diseases into the United States, and if we were not protected by vaccinations these diseases could quickly spread throughout the population, causing epidemics here. At the same time, the relatively few cases we currently have in the U.S. could very quickly become tens or hundreds of thousands of cases without the protection we get from vaccines.
    We should still be vaccinated, then, for two reasons. The first is to protect ourselves. Even if we think our chances of getting any of these diseases are small, the diseases still exist and can still infect anyone who is not protected. Travelers are especially vulnerable. A few years ago a 63 year old U.S. traveler to Haiti caught diphtheria and died -he had never been vaccinated. In 2005 and 2006, outbreaks of measles and mumps occurred in several states within the U.S. The measles outbreak began in a group of travelers (who had not been vaccinated) upon their return from a trip to Romania where they had been exposed to measles.
    The second reason to get vaccinated is to protect those around us. A small number of persons cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons such as a severe allergy to vaccine components, and a small percentage simply do not respond to vaccines. These persons are susceptible to disease, and their only hope of protection is that people around them have been successfully vaccinated and cannot pass disease along to them. A successful vaccination program, like a successful society, depends on the cooperation of every individual to ensure the good for all. We would think it irresponsible of a driver to ignore all traffic regulations on the presumption that other drivers will watch out for him or her. In the same way, we shouldn't rely on people around us to stop the spread of disease if we ourselves can be vaccinated. We must all do what we can.

  5. Did you hear the one about the homeopath who drank a glass of distilled water?

    He died of an overdose.

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