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By Amy Nordrum
The remedies that homeopathic practitioners mix from plant and animal tissues do not work for treating any medical condition, says Australia’s leading health agency. Such treatments have not proven effective for any of the 61 health problems that the agency evaluated in a large review published Wednesday.
Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council examined 176 studies of homeopathic treatments for 61 medical conditions including asthma, anxiety, headaches, arthritis, ulcers and warts. The agency found that about half the treatments were no more effective than placebos, and ruled that the studies on the other half were not robust enough to determine whether the treatments worked. The agency concluded that homeopathy should not be considered an effective treatment for any condition.
Though it’s difficult to come by accurate estimates of the market for homeopathy, data from the World Health Organization indicate that it is likely an industry worth more than a billion dollars. France and Germany led the world in spending on homeopathic treatments in 2007 by handing over $408 million and $346 million, respectively. Australians spent about $7.3 million on treatments that year while Americans doled out $2.9 million.
Though Australia’s health agency did not evaluate the potential danger of treatments, officials did warn patients about relying solely on these methods. “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,” the report stated.
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