Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Review Concludes Homeopathy Doesn’t Work

When I reviewed the case against homeopathy as part of the debate over the AVMA resolution to acknowledge it as a placebo therapy, there were many previous reviews to refer to. In addition to the numerous systematic reviews of the scientific literature, the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee had recently conducted an extensive review and hearings and concluded:

In our view, the systematic reviews and meta-analyses conclusively demonstrate that homeopathic products perform no better than placebos. We could find no support from independent experts for the idea that there is good evidence for the efficacy of homeopathy.

Many other organizations have, upon reviewing the evidence, come to the same conclusion, including:

The British Veterinary Association

The BVA cannot endorse the use of homeopathic medicines, or indeed any medicine making therapeutic claims, which have no proven efficacy.

The Australian Veterinary Association

That the Board agreed that the veterinary therapies of homeopathy and homotoxicology are considered ineffective therapies in accordance with the AVA promotion of ineffective therapies Board resolution.

And even the AVMA Council on Research-

There is no clinical evidence to support the use of homeopathic remedies for treatment or prevention of diseases in domestic animals.

A new, comprehensive review similar to that of the House of Commons committee, complete with input from homeopaths, has just been complete and submitted for public comment by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, comes once again to the only rational, evidence-based conclusion:

NHMRC concludes that the assessment of the evidence from research in humans does not show that homeopathy is effective for treating the range of health conditions considered.

The organization reviewed the scientific literature, including evidence specifically submitted by homeopaths in defense of their claims. I have reviewed such evidence before and found it not reliable or supportive of these claims, and the NHMRC review aggress:

There were no health conditions for which there was reliable evidence that homeopathy was effective. No good-quality, well-designed studies with enough participants for a meaningful result reported either that homeopathy caused greater health improvements than a substance with no effect on the health condition (placebo), or that homeopathy caused health improvements equal to those of another treatment.

**For some health conditions, homeopathy was found to be not more effective than placebo.

**For other health conditions, some studies reported that homeopathy was more effective than placebo, or as effective as another treatment, but those studies were not reliable.

**For the remaining health conditions it was not possible to make any conclusion about whether homeopathy was effective or not, because there was not enough evidence.

The review discusses the evidence examined and the procedures used to evaluate it in detail. All of the procedures were vetted by the Australian Cochrane Centre and correspond to the standard practices of evidence-based medicine applied to conventional therapies. The conclusion was clear:

Based on all the evidence considered, there were no health conditions for which there was reliable evidence that homeopathy was effective. No good-quality, well-designed studies with enough participants for a meaningful result reported either that homeopathy caused greater health improvements than placebo, or caused health improvements equal to those of another treatment.

The evidence, and independent systematic review of the evidence concerning homeopathy is unequivocal. Homeopathy is no better than a placebo. Failure to accept this conclusion does not represent a scientific controversy but a fundamentally religious faith in homeopathy that is not capable of being altered by any evidence.

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7 Responses to Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Review Concludes Homeopathy Doesn’t Work

  1. v.t. says:

    So, beyond the non-need for additional “reviews” of the purported “evidence” always argued by homeopaths to get what they want, isn’t it really only politics that need the reality check? I.e., stop granting homeopaths and not-a-doctor(s) (ND’s) special privileges under the guise of “medical practitioners”. The licensing of ND’s is a joke and the joke is on the gullible American public. The licensing of homeopaths is worse than a joke, it borders insane if not criminal.

  2. 14029202 says:

    a Very important issue is being raised here and that is evidence based medicine. If a dog is given a specific drug/homeopathic drug and gets better nothing has been proved. If there is not a control arm in the study (placebo or competitive drug) and the progress in the two patients carefully monitored and documented nothing has been proved. It is interesting to see that in South-Africa it is recommended that if animals take homeopathic medicine it should be under supervision of a trained vet. Pet owners should be made aware of this. a Drug that could not show any superiority above placebo should be removed from the market.

  3. Manny Katz says:

    I would like to refer all those who have doubts about veterinary homeopathy to go to the website of the premier animal hospice facility in at least the Western US. It is called Brighthaven and is located in Santa Rosa, CA. Their website is www(dot)brighthaven(dot)org. (You can also go here:

    There you will find an abundance of materials on hospice care, euthanasia, “natural death”, animal care and methodology which has been used on close to 600 animals over almost a quarter century. The founders started off in the usual allopathic mode, but over the years have switched to using as their chief treatment modality classical veterinary homeopathy and using many consulting homeopathic vets across the country, each animal in their care being assigned to one veterinarian.

    Without dismissing this outright, please study the site and read about the many examples out of hundreds in which alternative methods–almost devoid of standard drug usage and other mainstream modalities–have prolonged the lives of numerous animals–and healed many. I had a cat there and am very familiar with the place and what they do.

  4. skeptvet says:

    What this site has is endorsement of virtually every alternative method out there, many of which I’ve investigated and written about and which clearly are not effective therapies. The site provides no new evidence, only testimonials and links to the AVH, whose evidence I have reviewed exhaustively already. If you read through this blog, you’ll find no blithe, careless dismissal. You’ll find detailed discussions of the theory and evidence for these methods, which are almost always not up to validating the claims made for them.

    Treating animals with methods which don’t work, or which might or might be safe or effective but which haven’t been tested properly, is unfair to the animals and their human family. Methods proven ineffective (e.g. homeopathy) should not be sold as real medicine at all, and methods which are insufficiently tested, conventional or alternative, should be presented with appropriate informed consent, letting our clients know when all we are basing our recommendations on is unreliable evidence such as testimonials or intuition.

    I have no doubt animals go there, are treated, and recover. I also have no doubt the homeopathic treatments used are not in any way responsible, as this has been demonstrated in humans and animals when appropriate methods of testing are employed. Good intentions are not a substitute for good evidence that our treatments are safe and effective.

  5. v.t. says:

    Oh great, a pet hospice facility where the vets are homeopaths and do little to aid beyond using homeopathy and reiki, feed raw foodsto ailing pets and quack soup for everything else and calling that “love”. Um, NO THANKS.

  6. There is no one medicine – or types of medical treatments – for everyone…. you can’t lump everyone in the same pot and apply the same medicine for alll for the same ailment. I think the day we can all treat people and animals with the appropriate way be it allopathy – homeopathy or other energy treatments we will all be better off! The absolute narrowmindedness of “scientific proven” treatments being the be all and end all of all treatments, doesn’t even begin to consider the patient as a whole person – just a physical body…. accounts for the amount of deaths and serious impairments by using a limited was of medical treatment. For some it will be perfect – for the other it just won’t work and you need some other form of relief!

  7. skeptvet says:

    It’s fine to say that everything works for somebody, but just saying it or believing it doesn’t make it true. And when pressed, believers like yourself never seem to come up with more than anecdotes and personal narratives to support such claims. There is extensive evidence to show homeopathy doesn’t work. The fact you think there is a spiritual element to health that these therapies address and scientific medicine doesn’t is, again, just something you believe, not something the rest of us have to accept just because you believe it. Followers of Apollo also believed sacrifices to him led to healing, just as believers in bloodletting were convinced the practice saved lives despite the fact that it actually made people worse. We live longer and healthier lives now than at any time in human history because we found a better way to evaluate medical treatments. If you want us to go back to believing in magic, you have to provide more than just your belief in it.

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