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Call for doctors not to practice homeopathy or refer

[Media release]

Call for doctors not to practice homeopathy or refer to homeopaths

17th April 2011 – Medical researcher Professor Shaun Holt has called for doctors not to practice homeopathy or refer their patients to homeopaths. In a letter published in the current New Zealand Medical Journal, he and other senior researchers from New Zealand and UK state that "practicing homeopathy or endorsing it by referring patients is not consistent with the ethical or regulatory requirements of practicing medicine and these authors call for doctors to do neither." 1 in 8 New Zealand GPs practice homeopathy or refer patients to homeopaths.

Professor Holt said that the letter was triggered by the recently released Medical Council of New Zealand Statement on Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which informs doctors of the standards of practice that are expected of them. It says that doctors must inform patients on the nature of alternative treatments they offer, the extent to which they are consistent with conventional theories of medicine, whether they have the support of the majority of doctors, and their likely effectiveness according to peer-reviewed medical publications, notwithstanding individual beliefs.

"There is no grey area with respect to homeopathy, a practice which involves diluting substances to such a degree that not a single molecule remains", said Professor Holt. "Homeopathy is completely inconsistent with our understanding of medicine. The British Medical Association has described it as witchcraft, yet a surprising number of doctors will tell their patients to see a homeopath".

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Examples of homeopathic products include –

• "Berlin Wall" - consists of dust from the Berlin Wall, diluted until none remains, sold to people to help them stop feeling repressed

• "Saturn" - light from a telescope aimed at the planet Saturn is focussed on sugar, which is then diluted many times and given to people for allergies, amongst other things

• "Arsenic" - diluted until none remains then used to treat a range of symptoms including insomnia and obsessive-compulsive disorder

• "Mobile Phone Radiation" - from Nokia and Sony-Eriksson phones

Although homeopathic products themselves do no harm, as they do not contain any active ingredients, Professor Holt says that there can be serious problems when people use them instead of real medicines. "An example is the death of an Australian baby from eczema after her parents treated her with homeopathic remedies", he said.

About Shaun Holt:
• Qualified Doctor and Pharmacist
• Adjunct Professor at Victoria University of Wellington
• Research Fellow at Medical Research Institute of New Zealand
• Author of best-seller “Natural Remedies that Really Work”
• Regular appearances on TV One’s Breakfast show and national radio shows
• On International Editorial Board of journal Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies


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