A Canadian homeopath claims he treated a 4-year-old boy with behavioral issues with rabid dog saliva, but his method raised concerns in the medical community.
Anke Zimmerman, a homeopath from Victoria, said that upon administering the dog's saliva, the boy named Jonah smiled "broadly and beautifully" as if his symptoms were relieved.
Clinicians are concerned that the boy's aggressive behavior might be related to a dog bite. The British Columbia provincial health office said Zimmerman's method might have put the patient at risk for rabies, a serious and fatal disease.
The NHS has spent more than $127,000 on natural treatments a year, but a recent study has shown a relationship between doctors performing poorly and homeopathic prescription.
Doctor Scores Relate To Homeopathy
Doctors with poor prescription quality ratings are 2.1 times more likely to prescribe homeopathic treatments than those with excellent quality scores.
A study published on April 19 in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine looked at differences in medical practices that prescribe homeopathic treatments compared to those who prescribe other drugs.
Researchers from the University of Oxford and Exeter University found that doctors who infrequently prescribed homeopathy received lower quality scores on prescription practices. However, the authors noted that the scores did not cover overall patient recommendations or quality outcomes.
More than 600 practices in Europe issued over 2,700 homeopathy prescriptions over a six-month period between December 2016 and May 2017. The data used to analyze homeopathic prescriptions came from NHS Digital.
Respect For Evidence-Based Practice
Although low prescribing scores do not directly reflect the doctors' overall performance quality, the authors wrote that it should be a cause for concern in the medical field.
"The association is unlikely to be a direct causal relationship, but may reflect underlying practice features, such as the extent of respect for evidence-based practice, or poorer stewardship of the prescribing budget," the authors wrote.
Dr. Andrew Green, chief of GP Committee Clinical and Prescribing Policy of the British Medical Association, said that "almost half of [the] practices" that prescribed homeopathy did so only once within the six-month period.
However, Dr. Green emphasized that those who prescribed homeopathic treatments more than once week would need further study.
"BMA policy is clear, homeopathic substances have no place in the NHS, nor, I would propose, in community pharmacies," Dr. Green said.
Delayed Medical Attention Can Mean Harm
In 2017, the European Academies Science Advisory Council published a press release citing possible harmful effects of homeopathy.
EASAC, which is comprised of leading scientists across Europe, said there is no "robust, reproducible evidence" that supports the efficacy of homeopathic treatments. They added that homeopathy may actually put patients in harm's way.
"Moreover, homeopathy can actually be harmful: by delaying or deterring a patient from seeking appropriate, evidence-based, medical attention and by undermining patient and public confidence in scientific evidence," EASAC wrote.
While they recognize varied choices for health support, EASAC said patients should be well informed, and that the treatment follows a knowledge-based, regulated framework applied to all medicinal products.