Article

The truth about homeopathy.

Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter & Plymouth, 25 Victoria Park Road, Exeter EX2 4NT, UK.
British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (Impact Factor: 3.69). 03/2008; 65(2):163-4. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2007.03007.x
Source: PubMed
Download full-text

Full-text

Available from: Edzard Ernst, Jun 22, 2015
0 Followers
 · 
50 Views
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Homeopathic medications are used by millions, and hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on these remedies in the USA alone. In the UK, the NHS covers homeopathic treatments. Nonetheless, homeopathy is held in considerable disrepute by much of the medical and scientific community. Many proponents of homeopathy are well aware of these criticisms but remain unimpressed. The differences of opinion run deep, and the debate seems deadlocked. We aim to shed some light on this situation. We briefly recap some of the major arguments on each side, but we try to go further by making explicit an underlying philosophical presupposition. In particular, we will claim that there is an important principle, which has ancient roots going back at least to Occam, some version of which constrains all empirical reasoning. We call this constraint the simplicity principle. We argue that this is not something specific to a scientific paradigm, but that, all of us, including proponents of homeopathy, are themselves deeply committed to the simplicity principle. However, once the simplicity principle is made explicit and applied to homeopathy, allegiance to homeopathy is clearly seen as irrational. The point is not merely the lack of clinical trials supporting homeopathy; rather, belief in the efficacy of homeopathy leaves a mountain of unexplained mysteries, and thereby flies in the face of the simplicity rule that guides the homeopaths' own reasoning and arguments. If nothing else, we hope that defenders of homeopathy will gain a greater understanding of why critics are so deeply reluctant to accept the efficacy of homeopathic interventions – and that this reluctance is not mere stubbornness or artificial allegiance to western medicine. Finally, we also hope thereby to illustrate the usefulness of philosophy in unearthing presuppositions in seemingly deadlocked debates.
    Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 03/2010; 16(2):276 - 281. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2753.2010.01384.x · 1.58 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Over the past two decades there has been a growing acceptance of 'integrative oncology', also known as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), in cancer care and research at academic medical centres and medical schools. Proponents of integrative oncology argue that it is based in science and provides the 'best of both worlds' by combining science-based treatments and 'holistic' medicine. However, a close examination of the methodologies indicates that, from a standpoint of basic science, the vast majority of 'integrative' treatments are supported by little, if any, scientific evidence. What are the consequences of this integration? Is there any harm? Are there any potential benefits?
    Nature reviews. Cancer 09/2014; 14(10). DOI:10.1038/nrc3822 · 37.91 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Proponents of controversial Complementary and Alternative Medicines, such as homeopathy, argue that these treatments can be used with great effect in addition to, and sometimes instead of, 'conventional' medicine. In doing so, they accept the idea that the scientific approach to the evaluation of treatment does not undermine use of and support for some of the more controversial CAM treatments. For those adhering to the scientific canon, however, such efficacy claims lack the requisite evidential basis from randomised controlled trials. It is not clear, however, whether such opposition characterises the views of the general public. In this paper we use data from the 2009 Wellcome Monitor survey to investigate public use of and beliefs about the efficacy of a prominent and controversial CAM within the United Kingdom, homeopathy. We proceed by using Latent Class Analysis to assess whether it is possible to identify a sub-group of the population who are at ease in combining support for science and conventional medicine with use of CAM treatments, and belief in the efficacy of homeopathy. Our results suggest that over 40% of the British public maintain positive evaluations of both homeopathy and conventional medicine simultaneously. Explanatory analyses reveal that simultaneous support for a controversial CAM treatment and conventional medicine is, in part, explained by a lack of scientific knowledge as well as concerns about the regulation of medical research.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(1):e53174. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0053174 · 3.53 Impact Factor