Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Study Casts Doubt on Homeopathic Cures

Study Casts Doubt on Homeopathic Cures

August 26, 2005

Alternative medicine is big business, but thus far, the scientific establishment is not impressed. A study at Switzerland's University of Berne, published in The Lancet, says it finds homeopathic remedies no more effective than a placebo.

The study authors say they conducted tests, comparing over 100 randomized placebo-controlled trials of homeopathy with a similar number of conventional-medicine trials, covering a full range of ailments. They concluded “there was no convincing evidence that homeopathy was superior to placebo.” Conventional medicines and treatments, on the other hand, did provide improvements.

Is the study likely to sway passionate believers in homeopathic medicine? Probably not, and researcher Matthias Egger, of the Berne University's Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, says that may be the point. Egger and his colleagues say their findings suggest that homeopathic remedies have the best results on patients who firmly believe they will work.

"Our study powerfully illustrates the interplay and cumulative effect of different sources of bias," he said.

Homeopathic remedies most often are promoted for treatment of chronic conditions, such as allergies, asthma, learning disorders, emotional disorders, arthritis, and the problematic symptoms of menopause. But they are also used to tackle more acute diseases and conditions, including cancer.

But homeopathic medicine is not without its detractors.

Dr. Stephen Barrett, in a posting on, charges homeopathic remedies “are the only category of quack products legally marketable as drugs.” He faults the Food and Drug Administration for not holding homeopathic products to the same standards as other drugs.

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