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Do you believe homeopathic treatments work?
A panel of scientists and doctors has told MPs that treating patients with homeopathy on the NHS is unethical and a dubious use of public money, arguing that there is insufficient clinical evidence to support such treatments.
“If the NHS commitment to evidence-based medicine is more than a lip service, then money has to be spent on treatments that are evidence-based, and homeopathy isn’t,” said Edzard Ernst, a professor of complementary medicine at the Peninsula medical school in Exeter, quoted in the Guardian.
Homeopathy is based on the principle of “like cures like” – in other words, a substance taken in small amounts will cure the same symptoms it causes if it was taken in large amounts.
Homeopathic medicines are manufactured by repeatedly diluting and succussing (shaking) a preparation of the original substance, mainly plants and minerals, in water and alcohol. After dilution the medicine is added to lactose tablets or pillules, according to the Faculty of Homeopathy, a regulatory body established by parliament in 1950.
More than 400 GPs treat 200,000 NHS patients a year with homeopathy.
While conventional drugs must undergo testing to prove their effectiveness, homeopathic remedies can be sold without being proven to work in clinical trials. They can be marketed for mild conditions if homeopathics agree on their effectiveness.
Scientists say the exemption should be removed because it is misleading.
Paul Bennett, Boots standards director, says the chemist will continue to stock homeopathic remedies.
“It’s about consumer choice and a large number of our customers think they work,” he said.
Do you believe homeopathic treatments work? Should they be available on the NHS?