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