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Homeopathy users think it works

[Media release]

Homeopathy users think it works, but don’t know what it is

25th May 2009 – 92% of users of homeopathic remedies think that the products work according to a survey published in the latest edition of the New Zealand Medical Journal. But only 6% of those surveyed knew that homeopathic remedies did not contain any active ingredient and most thought that homeopathic remedies were either moderately or very concentrated.

Homeopathy critic Dr. Shaun Holt said that he was not surprised by the survey findings, and that they confirmed his suspicions that homeopathy remained popular because people did not know what it was. “Two thirds of people think that there is good scientific evidence that homeopathy works, but there is none”, said Dr. Holt. “There’s a US$1 million prize for anyone who can prove that it works that has remained unclaimed for many years.”

Researchers Shaun Holt and Andrew Gilbey surveyed 124 patients in GP surgeries and found that 65% had used homeopathic products. Dr. Holt said that “...almost all of the general public and many health professionals do not understand that homeopathic products are not simply dilute solutions – there is no active ingredient. It is like pouring a cup of coffee into Lake Taupo and then taking a cup of water from Taupo the next day and describing that water as “dilute coffee””.

Dr. Holt said that there were good explanations as to why people thought that homeopathy worked despite the complete lack of scientific plausibility or evidence. These reasons included placebo responses and also confusion between clinical improvements, which are attributed to homeopathy, and the natural history of the illness. In other words, the medical conditions would have improved anyway. “It’s like the emperor’s new clothes” concluded Dr. Holt.


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