Don’t hate the homeopaths

Since 2010, when the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee published a report saying that homeopathic remedies were no better than placebos, the homeopathic profession has had to face increasing criticism and hostility. Despite only four of 15 members of the committee bothering to vote, one of whom voted against the report’s findings, and the government rejecting the report, this badly considered decision was adopted by some as the definitive judgement on a therapy that millions of people around the world find beneficial to health.

The Faculty of Homeopathy has around 800 members who are highly qualified medical doctors, nurses, pharmacists, veterinary surgeons and other healthcare professionals. They have many years’ clinical experience and are regulated by their respective professional bodies. Nevertheless, they are frequently subjected to vindictive attacks from opponents of homeopathy, who attempt to denigrate their clinical expertise and professionalism by using words such as “quack” and “charlatan”.  And all because they use homeopathy to bring relief to many patients whose symptoms have failed to respond to conventional medicine. Quite frankly, I am amazed at the level of hostility homeopathy encounters, particularly from those people who seem unable to have an intelligent debate on the subject without resorting to puerile language and name calling.

It is true the scientific evidence base for homeopathy is inconclusive. But that does not mean there is no evidence. There are positive randomised controlled trials – the so-called gold standard – supporting its therapeutic benefits beyond placebo. In addition, homeopathy achieves excellent results from PROMs (patient reported outcome  measures) where patients report how much better they feel after receiving homeopathic treatment. Sadly, opponents of homeopathy condescendingly dismiss the views of patients, preferring to see medicine purely as a scientific subject and not a practice. If patients are finding health benefits from a therapy, what is the problem?

Another negative outcome of the campaign against homeopathy has been the widespread belief that it is no longer available on the NHS. This simply isn’t true. There is a post code lottery, but GPs can still refer patients for homeopathic treatment. In Glasgow and London there are dedicated hospitals to integrative care that offer homeopathy, and there are clinics and practitioners in other parts of the UK who will see NHS referrals.

With the NHS coming under increasing financial pressure, the government and health managers are looking at ways to reduce costs without affecting patient care. Homeopathy can play a vital role in helping to achieve this. As a therapy it is generally less expensive than many conventional treatments and when used as a complementary therapy some patients are able reduce the number of drugs they are taking. Currently the NHS spends around £4-million a year on homeopathy, a tiny fraction of the overall healthcare budget of £137.9-billion. Those who want to end all funding for NHS homeopathy to save money, conveniently forget that the patients who would be denied the therapy still need to be treated. This would inevitably lead to them receiving more costly interventions which they may not find as beneficial as homeopathy.

Homeopathy is good for patients and good for the NHS. To deny patients this treatment option makes no clinical or economic sense.

Dr Helen Beaumont

Dr Helen Beaumont MB ChB, MRCGP, DRCOG, FFHom. President, Faculty of Homeopathy

Latest posts by Dr Helen Beaumont (see all)

Share:  

More in this category

Leave a Reply

6 Comments on "Don’t hate the homeopaths"

Notify of
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Alan Henness
Member
Dr Beaumont said: “Since 2010, when the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee published a report saying that homeopathic remedies were no better than placebos, the homeopathic profession has had to face increasing criticism and hostility. Despite only four of 15 members of the committee bothering to vote, one of whom voted against the report’s findings” It might have been better if Dr Beaumont could have said why she believes the report might be flawed rather than worrying about who did or didn’t vote for it. But since she raised the subject, it should be noted that homeopathy supporter… Read more »
Bytor
Member
“There are positive randomised controlled trials – the so-called gold standard – supporting its therapeutic benefits beyond placebo.” Except, as Dr. Beaumont states, if the evidence for homeopathy is inconclusive, there must therefore also be an equal number number of double-blinded randomized placebo control trials that show homeopathy is ineffective, so I’m guessing that such a statement from her is just the usual cherry-picking of the alternative medicine supporters and practitioners, rather than an honest, objective view of the situation. Every study purporting to show the benefits of homeopathy that I have ever read has had numerous fatal flaws and… Read more »
Pat Harrold
Member

I have known many doctors and many homeopaths. The homeopaths have invariably been thoughtful and well motivated. The level of rancour directed at them by my fellow doctors is disproportionate . The strident nature of the attacks takes away any impression of scientific impartiality. We are all trying to understand the world.

Noel Thomas
Member
Helen Beaumont’s article is a calm and accurate precis of the pressures and confusions that make it more difficult to offer a homeopathic service to all those who would benefit from it. After using homeopathy alongside conventional meds in my NHS GP work for about thirty years, I remain extremely sceptical – hardly a week goes by when I am not amazed by the effect of an individualised homeopathic remedy on a patient’s problem. The effects I see are not explained by the Natural Sciences degree I took before medical school, they make no sense at all in that respect.… Read more »
Alan Henness
Member
Pat Harrold said: “I have known many doctors and many homeopaths. The homeopaths have invariably been thoughtful and well motivated.” The doctors I have known have invariably been thoughtful and well motivated, but the attitudes and demeanour doctors or homeopaths we happen to know can hardly be used as an indication of the efficacy of homeopathy. That’s what clinical trials are for and that’s where homeopathy fails. “The level of rancour directed at them by my fellow doctors is disproportionate .” Disproportionate to what? Perhaps the perceived ‘rancour’ is a measure of the disgust many have for the claims made… Read more »
Noel Thomas
Member
Alan Henness writes “That’s what clinical trials are for and that’s where homeopathy fails.“ The RCT evidence for homeopathy is no weaker than for many conventional meds in widespread use. The recent extended correspondence in the BMJ on qualitative v quantitative research and the relevance of the classical RCT to complex clinical and treatment outcomes makes the RCT appear less of the gold standard indicator that Alan Henness and his fellow denigrators would perhaps like. There are shelves of books giving strong qualitative evidence for homeopathic treatment. Their relevance may now be given more respect. Henness suggests “ Perhaps the… Read more »
wpDiscuz