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Homeopathy Effective In 0 Of 68 Illnesses: Study

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An Australian scientist has reminded that homeopathy is a placebo at best and proved its effectiveness in zero out of 68 illnesses, as a health panel's evaluation of 57 scientific reviews encompassing 176 studies showed back in March last year.

Homeopathy is a kind of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) commonly used around the world and with such popularity that endured into the 21st century.

"[T]here was no reliable evidence from research in humans that homeopathy was effective for treating the range of health conditions considered," a report from Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) concluded.

Bond University medicine professor Paul Glasziou, who led a team tasked by the NHMRC to produce the report, dubbed the practice a "therapeutic dead-end" in a blog post published Feb. 16 in the British Medical Journal.

"Though that body [of evidence] was mixed in size and quality, no clear signal of effectiveness emerged from the higher quality studies," Glasziou wrote.

The report is not a latest produced one, but instead was worked on by the panel in 2014 and published in March 2015.

Based on the panel's analysis, homeopathy had been evaluated across a range of conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, stomatitis or mouth inflammation due to chemotherapy and HIV infection. Glasziou said he was particularly "shocked" at recommendations of using the therapy for infections such as AIDS or malaria.

Reports also state that some homeopaths promote the treatment for the Ebola virus, which spurred one of the worst and deadliest epidemics in West Africa.

Glasziou considered the activity "very dubious," and it may endanger people's health if they "reject or delay" treatments without accepted proof of safety and effectiveness.

Homeopathy was founded in Germany more than 200 years ago by Samuel Hahnemann. Its supporters point to two theories: "like cures like" or the belief that a disease can be addressed by a substance producing similar symptoms in healthy individuals; and "law of minimum dose," the notion that the lower the drug dose, the greater its effectiveness.

Its remedies are obtained from substances derived from plants, animals, and minerals, and are typically formulated as sugar pellets to be positioned under the tongue. It also promotes an individualized approach to treatment.

In the United States, a 2012 National Health Interview Survey estimated that 5 million adults and 1 million children used homeopathic treatments the previous year. Its 2007 survey calculated about $2.9 billion out-of-pocket costs for related medicines and $170 million for visits to practitioners.

Photo: Jeff Wilcox | Flickr

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