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Some excerpts from that resolution:
“The Council takes the position that homeopathy should fulfil the same scientific and ethical requirements as any other medical activity.”
“The Council assumes its rightful role in defence of society and citizens’ health, based on the fundamental premise that any therapy, conventional or not, allopathic, holistic or homeopathic, is a medical act which requires a prior diagnosis of its therapeutic indication and application, and should necessarily be made by an individual who is legally qualified and authorized to do so, which means a physician.”
“Regardless of their results, all activities concerning a person’s health are regarded as health acts. If, in addition, they require a diagnosis, they become a medical act. Under existing law, in order to give a correct diagnosis a body of knowledge is essential which only medical doctors have acquired.”
“Homeopathic doctors are trained in both conventional medicine and homeopathy, and only their diagnosis and differential diagnosis ensures that citizens will receive a correct therapeutic approach, avoiding, above all, the error of omission and the delay in necessary treatment that, regardless of their effectiveness, may endanger their lives”.
“Homeopathy should be subject to the same ethical and scientific criteria as any other medical activity. Thus, to prove, scientifically, its effectiveness and efficiency through the implementation of relevant studies, developed with sufficient rigour and adequate methodology”.
The overuse of antibiotics in poultry, beef cattle and swine production poses a serious threat to human health, animal health and the environment. Sustainable alternatives to antibiotics are desperately needed.
In the organic livestock sector antibiotics are preferably replaced by complementary or alternative medicines (CAM), of which homeopathy is the most frequently applied. Homeopathic treatment has significant benefits since there are no residues of homeopathic medicines in animal products, nor does homeopathy generate resistant microorganisms.
The Biological Farming Systems Group at the Wageningen University in the Netherlands recently conducted a research study to investigate if homeopathy might be an alternative to antibiotics in one of the most common illnesses in swine which is neonatal diarrhoea of piglets. This disease leads to weight loss and increased piglet mortality, which has substantial economic consequences. Conventional treatments of Escherichia coli (E. coli) diarrhoea is administration of antibiotics to affected piglets, or preventive vaccination of the sows.
To investigate if E. coli diarrhoea in neonatal piglets could be prevented by homeopathy, the researchers set up a randomised, observer blind and placebo-controlled trial. On a commercial pig farm 52 sows of different parities, in their last month of gestation, were treated twice a week with either the homeopathic agent Coli 30K or placebo. The 525 piglets born from these sows were scored for occurrence and duration of diarrhoea.
Piglets of the homeopathic treated group had significantly less E. coli diarrhoea than piglets in the placebo group (P < .0001). Especially piglets from first parity sows gave a good response to treatment with Coli 30K. The diarrhoea seemed to be less severe in the homeopathically treated litters, there was less transmission and duration appeared shorter.
Advantages at farm level are application of the treatment by the farmer and cost reduction. These advantages and the positive results from this study make the homeopathic agent Coli 30K an attractive potential alternative in the prevention of E. coli diarrhoea. This study also suggests that homeopathic treatment in livestock may help the European citizen be protected from pharmacological residues in animal products and thus reduce the problem of antibiotic resistance.
Camerlink I, Ellinger L, Bakker EJ, Lantinga EA (2010). Homeopathy as replacement to antibiotics in the case of Escherichia coli diarrhoea in neonatal piglets. Homeopathy, 99; 57–62.
Critics argue that homeopathy is something like a super-placebo, saying that homeopathy has the ability to evoke large nonspecific health effects. It is said that the long interview carried out by an empathetic practitioner during diagnosis may explain why people report improvements in their health.
The research team therefore investigated whether contextual effects in classical homeopathy are higher than in conventional medicine. For this they compared the changes in the placebo groups of RCTs from classical homeopathy and matching conventional trials.
The authors performed a systematic literature analysis on placebo-controlled doubleblind RCTs on classical homeopathy. Each trial was matched to three placebo-controlled double-blind RCTs from conventional medicine (mainly pharmacological interventions) involving the same diagnosis. Matching criteria included severity of complaints, choice of outcome parameter, and treatment duration. Outcome was measured as the percentage change of symptom scores from baseline to end of treatment in the placebo group. 35 RCTs on classical homeopathy were identified. 10 were excluded because no relevant data could be extracted, or less than three matching conventional trials could be located.
The results showed that in 13 matched sets the placebo effect in the homeopathic trials was larger than the average placebo effect of the conventional trials, in 12 matched sets it was lower (P = 0.39). Additionally, no subgroup analysis yielded any significant difference.
The authors conclude that placebo effects in placebo-controlled double-blind clinical trials (RCTs) on classical homeopathy did not appear to be larger than placebo effects in conventional medicine.
Nuhn T, Lüdtke R, Geraedts M (2010). Placebo effect sizes in homeopathic compared to conventional drugs – a systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Homeopathy, 99: 76–82.
It is a technical document as a response to requests and recommendations made by relevant World Health Assembly resolutions, by Member States, as well as international conferences of drug regulatory authorities, and is a part of the implementation of the WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy and the WHO Medicines Strategy.
WHO states that homeopathy is used worldwide, but that the national regulatory framework and the place of homeopathy within the health care system differ from country to country.
The document aims to provide guidance to Member States on technical aspects of the production and manufacture of homeopathic medicines that potentially have implications for their safety. This is of relevance for establishing national quality standards and specifications for homeopathic medicines, as well as for controlling their quality. The document does not address issues of efficacy or clinical utilization.
The terms used in this document are defined and annexed as a reference.
The document can be downloaded from the WHO website here.
In a report published 22 February 2010, the Science and Technology Committee of the United Kingdom House of Commons concludes that homeopathy is not efficacious (that is, it does not work beyond the placebo effect), that explanations for why homeopathy would work are scientifically implausible and that further clinical trials of homeopathy could not be justified. Furthermore, it concludes that the NHS should cease funding homeopathy and that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) should no longer license homeopathic medicines. The full report as well as all written and oral evidence that was submitted to the Committee is available here.
Remarkably, just 4 of the 14 members of the Science and Technology Committee voted on this report: 3 for, one against. One of its three signatories has stridently campaigned against homeopathy and continued to do so even in the period between the hearings and the publication of the report.
The European Committee for Homeopathy finds the conclusions and recommendations of the Science and Technology Committee completely unfounded. The report is highly tendentious and fundamentally flawed, consistently misrepresenting the scientific evidence to the detriment of homeopathy and making unfounded and pejorative allegations against those who advocate or practise homeopathy.
The report ignores large areas of evidence which were mentioned in written submissions and oral evidence such as systematic reviews and meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials of homeopathy for specific conditions and groups of conditions, and systematic reviews of biological models of homeopathic responses. The evidence suggests that homeopathy is effective in a number of specific conditions, and there are a number of reproducible biological models of homeopathy.
The European Committee for Homeopathy fully endorses the robust and comprehensive response by the British Homeopathic Association. Their rebuttals are accessible at their website here.