NHS funded homeopathic treatments have been slammed by a leading researcher who claims they are “biologically implausible” and should be banned.
Edzard Ernst, professor of Complementary Medicine at Exeter University, launched his attack in The Biologist journal, claiming homeopathy does not work and can be dangerous if substituted for medical treatments.
Professor Ernest, an outspoken critic against homeopathy, added that those who advocate the treatments are, “ignoring or misrepresenting the best evidence available” and that his beliefs are “in contrast with the laws of physics, chemistry and pharmacology”.
"Homeopathy could be (and often is) used as an alternative to effective interventions. For example, the advice from homeopaths not to immunise has become a major cause of low vaccination rates,” professor Ernst writes in The Biologist, reports The Independent.
“Also, the strategy of using homeopathy as a benign placebo can only work if clinicians do not tell the truth to their patients."
The NHS currently invests £4m a year providing homeopathic treatments, which are based on patients being treated with highly diluted substances with the aim of triggering the body’s natural healing system.
Homeopathy is based on a ‘like with like’ principle where if a large dose of a particular substance causes the symptoms, small amounts will help treat the condition.
However, professor Ernest rubbishes the effectiveness of homeopathy and urges for it to be banned.
“The UK spends billions of pounds every year ensuring that the new and existing conventional medicines we take are effective, safe and fit for purpose.
"It makes no sense to allow other treatments available through public expenditure to be made available without application of the same rigorous standards. That is what is happening with homeopathic treatments. It needs to stop.”
Responding to the anti-homeopathy comments, Cristal Sumner, chief executive of the British Homeopathic Association (BHA), told HuffPost Lifestyle:
“Millions of patients around the globe depend on homeopathy.
“In Britain 15% of the population have used it and you can see why as patient outcomes studies, such as the findings from Bristol Homeopathic Hospital which found 70% of follow-up patients, many with chronic long-term ailments, reported positive improvements after homeopathy treatment.
“Professor Ernst has made his name spreading misinformation and fear mongering of a form of medicine that helps millions worldwide with no deaths or hospitalisations from adverse drug reactions.
“Isn’t it worth paying more attention to the fact in 2008, the EU estimated that adverse drug reactions kill 197 000 EU citizens annually, at a cost of €79bn.
“Professor Ernst, who is not a biologist, nor involved in advanced microbiologic research nor for that matter a qualified homeopath, is hard to take seriously when quoted as saying homeopathy is not biologically possible.
“That is ignorance speaking not knowledge. I would point out that Nobel Laureate Professor Luc Montagnier, who is involved in advanced research into the properties of water has been quoted as saying, ‘High dilutions are not nothing. They are structures, which mimic the original molecules. It’s not pseudo-science. It’s not quackery. There are real phenomena which deserve further study’.
“That science hasn’t explained why homeopathy works doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. The millions of patients that use homeopathy and who have depended on it for over 200 years know it works.”