Is homeopathy effective?

The Australian government's National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) recently released official statements on homeopathy and its effectiveness, including its effectiveness in dental treatments. Read this article for more information on the NHMRC's findings on the use of homeopathy compared to placebo for pain after dental work, stomatitis, and oral lichen planus.

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In Australia, the government wants to provide the best health care guidance possible. They wish to guide their population toward evidence-based treatments and protocols. As many people around the world are now using complementary and integrative approaches to health care, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) feels their citizens should understand the potential benefits and risks of treatments like homeopathy to enable them to make an informed decision about their use.

According to the NHMRC, “homeopathy is a type of complementary and alternative medicine. It is based on two main ideas: that substances that may cause illness or symptoms in a healthy person can, in very small doses, treat those symptoms in a person who is unwell; and that molecules in highly diluted substances retain a memory of the original substance.” (1)

The document states:

"Based on the assessment of the evidence of effectiveness of homeopathy, NHMRC concludes that there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy
is effective.

Homeopathy should not be used to treat health conditions that are chronic, serious, or could become serious. People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness. People who are considering whether to use homeopathy should first get advice from a registered health practitioner. Those who use homeopathy should tell their health practitioner and should keep taking any prescribed treatments.

The National Health and Medical Research Council expects that the Australian public will be offered treatments and therapies based on the best available evidence."

The authors determined that homeopathy is not more effective than placebo for pain due to dental work, and there is no reliable evidence that homeopathy is more effective than placebo for stomatitis (inflammation of the mouth) due to chemotherapy. (2) They also found no reliable evidence on which to draw a conclusion about the effectiveness of homeopathy, compared with placebo, for the treatment of oral lichen planus.

The statement authors found that dependable evidence that shows that homeopathy is effective for treating a range of health conditions is lacking. This is a result of many poor quality studies or not enough evidence. The entire document is available for viewing. (2)

References
1. Australian Government, National Health and Medical Research Council. NHMRC statement: Statement on Homeopathy. http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/cam02_nhmrc_statement_homeopathy.pdf. Published March 2015. Accessed May 13, 2015.
2. Australian Government, National Health and Medical Research Council. NHMRC information paper: Evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy for treating health conditions. http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/cam02a_information_paper.pdf. Published March 2015. Accessed May 13, 2015.


Maria Perno Goldie, RDH, MSMaria Perno Goldie, RDH, MSMaria Perno Goldie, RDH, MS, is the editorial director of RDH eVillage FOCUS.

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