Irresponsible reporting from the Mail? Big surprise. I rather doubt that they will publish my comments, so I have reproduced them below. 1000 words isn’t really enough to highlight what’s wrong with their article, but it’s a start. I will track down the reference to make more informed comment if time and circumstances allow.
Here’s the article:
Homeopathy really does work and doctors should recognise its healing effects, say researchers.
A study found that allergy sufferers who were given homeopathic treatment were ten times more likely to be cured than those given a dummy pill instead.
Doctors should be more positive about the alternative medicine, which is the only complementary therapy available on the NHS, the researchers said.
Their study attempts to settle the controversy over homeopathic treatment, which critics say is not effective because of the tiny level of active substance used in most remedies.
It works on the principle that a substance which in large doses will cause the symptoms of an illness can be used in minute doses to relieve the same symptoms.
Critics argue that the active substance is so diluted that homeopathic remedies have no more effect than placebo or dummy treatment.
The study put homeopathy to the test in 50 patients suffering from nasal allergies. They were given either a homeopathic preparation or a placebo.
Each day for four weeks patients recruited from general practices and a hospital in London measured their nasal air flow and recorded symptoms such as blocked, runny or itchy nose, sneezing or eye irritation.
Both groups reported that they got better – but on average patients who received homeopathy had a 28 per cent improvement in nasal air flow compared with 3 per cent among those in the placebo group.
The study was carried out by doctors in Glasgow, led by Dr David Reilly of the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital, one of five specialist hospitals in Britain. He said the difference in results from the two treatments was statistically significant.
Dr Reilly said this was the fourth trial carried out by his hospital, all with similar results. In addition, there were positive findings in 70 per cent of a further 180 clinical trials.
‘I hope this will encourage doctors to examine the volume of evidence supporting homeopathy – they might be quite surprised at the positive outcome in many trials,’ he said.
He added that it would take consistent scientific investigation to persuade some doctors, but attitudes were changing.
About 20 per cent of doctors in Scotland have basic homeopathic training compared with one per cent 15 years ago.
‘It isn’t just about the remedies, which can be put to the test in trials, but about a greater holistic approach in encouraging self-healing and self-recovery.’
Dr Bob Leckridge, president of the Faculty of Homeopathy – the body for doctors, vets, nurses and other health professionals – said: ‘This latest research builds on existing evidence that homeopathy works, something that hundreds of doctors and their patients have known for 200 years.’
And my comment:
First of all, even if this study did show that homeopathy “works” it only does so for the treatment being tested – this headline is misleading, since a body of evidence shows that all other homeopathy is no more effective than placebo.
Secondly, this study has a small sample size (~25 actually taking the homeopathic preparation) that makes any statistical conclusion drawn quite tenuous, particularly when the drop-out rate of participants is taken into account.
Finally, it would be useful if the original research journal could be cited so the methodology can be properly assessed. Homeopathic research has a habit of overstating positive claims and obfuscating negative ones, so the literature needs to be read to be properly assessed. After all, resorting to homeopathy to the exclusion of conventional treatments has led to deaths – look at the recent Gloria Thomas manslaughter case. Making sweeping claims for the efficacy of homeopathy on the basis of one study is utterly irresponsible.
If the mail doesn’t accept your comments please feel free to post them below, after all it is Homeopathy Awareness Week – people need to be made aware…
Speaking of which, you might also be interested in this investigation that tests one of the most basic foundations of how homeopathy is supposed to work: Ultramolecular homeopathy has no observable clinical effects. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled proving trial of Belladonna 30C