Morgan Tait

Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's police reporter.

Homeopaths fight back over negative finding

Homeopathic practitioners have criticised the study. Photo / Thinkstock
Homeopathic practitioners have criticised the study. Photo / Thinkstock

New Zealand doctors are said to be backing the findings of an Australian study that says homeopathic remedies do not work - but Kiwis practising the alternative treatment say the study is flawed.

A draft paper released by Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council this week stated homeopathic remedies were no more effective than a placebo when used to treat 68 health conditions.

Conducted by a working committee of medical experts, the paper assessed 57 clinical studies that tested homeopathic remedies on a range of ailments including asthma, arthritis, sleep disturbances, cold and flu, eczema, burns and even heroin addiction. It concluded there was no reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective.

"The available evidence is not compelling and fails to demonstrate that homeopathy is an effective treatment for any of the reported clinical conditions in humans," the report said.

The findings were backed by one New Zealand doctor, but criticised by members of the country's homeopathic industry.

Dr Richard Acland, a Christchurch-based rehabilitation specialist, said the findings would be supported by most doctors here.

"That would be the opinion of most in New Zealand, too," he said. "My reading is that they are no better than placebos - but placebos can be very powerful.

"It is not unsurprising that the results have come up with that finding, but there are a lot of therapies within the health arena that are possibly no better than placebos."

NZ Homeopathic Society spokeswoman Den Illing said the paper appeared to have ignored studies that found good results.

"There are screeds and screeds of clinical trials that homeopathic remedies work but this study appears to have not included any of them."

Auckland homeopath Suzanne Hansen said the treatments could not be measured in the same way medical treatments were.

"When you research it against a medical paradigm it will fail because you treat in a completely different way."

The industry would not exist if it did not produce results, she said.

"For us we are treating the person, not the condition and it causes incredible healing - that's why we are all in business and successful."

She treats on average 15 people a week, spending an hour and a half with each person, she said.

The study's authors said there were no studies that proved the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies with reliable enough methodologies to be included in the paper.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2015, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 05 Mar 2015 21:58:06 Processing Time: 484ms