Homeopathy ‘could be blacklisted’

Nov 23, 2015

by James Gallagher

Ministers are considering whether homeopathy should be put on a blacklist of treatments GPs in England are banned from prescribing, the BBC has learned.

The controversial practice is based on the principle that “like cures like”, but critics say patients are being given useless sugar pills.

The Faculty of Homeopathy said patients supported the therapy.

A consultation is expected to take place in 2016.

The total NHS bill for homeopathy, including homeopathic hospitals and GP prescriptions, is thought to be about £4m.

Homeopathy is based on the concept that diluting a version of a substance that causes illness has healing properties.

So pollen or grass could be used to create a homeopathic hay-fever remedy.

One part of the substance is mixed with 99 parts of water or alcohol, and this is repeated six times in a “6c” formulation or 30 times in a “30c” formulation.


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25 comments on “Homeopathy ‘could be blacklisted’

  • You would think that a general practitioner would not have to be banned from prescribing woo to their patients.

    The Faculty of Homeopathy said patients supported the therapy.

    Of course they do, just like televangelists would tell you their sheep enjoyed being fleeced!

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  • 2
    archsceptic says:

    And not before time. It’s sickening to think taxpayers money has been squandered on this pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo, while proper medicine has been denied to people through lack of funds. It’s nothing but the exploitation of self deception.

    For anyone still undecided regarding homeopathy, here, James the truly “amazing” Randi will tell you all you need to know:


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  • It is only a matter of time before the babblings of David Tredinnick hit the press!!

    Roll of shame: MPs who back homeopathy fan David Tredinnick for chair of Commons Health Committee
    Tredinnick, who – incredibly – sits on the Commons Health Select Committee, believes that astrology works and, according to the Telegraph, that a full moon can cause internal bleeding. And, it goes without saying, he supports the cult of homeopathy, which puts lives at risk with its idiot doctrines.

    .To quote the world-renowned scientist Lord Winston, ‘Let me say firmly: I think his views are lunatic’.

    Now Tredinnick has been nominated as the chair of the Health Committee. And here are the MPs who support him, listed on Parliament’s own website:

    Nominated by (own party)

    Sir William Cash, Sir Gerald Howarth, Dr Poulter, Crispin Blunt, James Gray, John Howell, James Berry, Robert Neill, Alex Shelbrooke, Daniel Kawczynski, Mr Philip Hollobone, Philip Davies, Glyn Davies, Iain Stewart, Mr Peter Bone

    Nominated by (other parties)

    Grahame Morris, Hywel Williams, Jim Shannon, Huw Irranca-Davies

    Any UK voters who recognise these as MPs in their neighbourhood, should work on a “ditch-a-muppet” campaign!

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  • I tried a homeopathic remedy a few years ago for my ear (before I joined this site) and guess what? it didn’t work.
    I have a quasi-friend who visits the radon mines in Montana from time to time. He thinks small doses of radiation are beneficial. What a schmuck. He’s also heavily into herbs, thinks they can cure everything from a cold to a fractured pelvis. That’s his religion. I’d like to fracture his jaw, and let him test his theory out. (Not really, but I am sick of his irrationality, of the irrationality of the world.)

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  • Dan, the Woo Brigade are all crooks but you know that already. What they are good at is twisting facts, I will try to find some links for this story but basically it is this. The Romanovs tried many different “cures” for Alexie Nikolaevich’s haemophilia, obviously none worked but some of the faith crew have tried to argue that Rasputin, despite being a crook, showed faith could help because the boy had improved after the monk had started to “help”.
    In some ways that is true but not in the way the faith-heads claim. Firstly, haemophiliacs go through spells when they are healthier than others, the blood factor IX (Alexia had haemophilia B) level does not change but for reasons unknown the body tends to bleed less, this will have been a major factor but there was also a second, unwittingly caused by Rasputin. He told the Romanovs to quit all the quack cures others had suggested and many of them were in the form of diet or herbs etc, some of these were mild blood thinners, similar to taking small doses of Warfarin or Heparin. Obviously they would have had an adverse effect on a haemophiliac so all Rasputin did was stop making him worse.

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  • The placebo effect can be quite effective on mild depression, mild anxiety, etc but a psychiatric professional must be the one who determines if trying a placebo is warranted. However, the price of homeopathic remedies is far higher than sugar pills and typically higher than generic versions of medications that have been clinically proven to be effective so they’re not even a good choice for trying to induce the placebo effect.

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  • I don’t think the placebo effect is effective even for mild depression. The depression is bound to return eventually. Moreover, if the depression is mild, almost anything can help. Mild depression is almost an oxymoron.
    That being said, the power of suggestion is not something to be taken lightly. But I do shudder at the thought of psychiatrists handing out placebos to patients and basically lying to them. And, the placebo effect would stop working if word got out that this is what was going on. Trust is a crucial aspect of the power of suggestion and for a good doctor-patient relationship in general.
    (Dr. Jonathan Miller had a segment on his series The Body in Question where he received acupuncture. He was not impressed and concluded that it was the belief in the “doctor” (for lack of another word) that made it effective in some cases.)
    I just googled “do doctors prescribe placebos?” Apparently doctors do –a lot of them. I didn’t think that was legal. Jesus! (sorry) Maybe I’m on a placebo! As a matter of fact, my depression seems to be coming back! No, seriously, are psychiatrists and pharmacies allowed to lie to patients and hand them fake pills and prescriptions in the U.S? Could someone get back to me on that? I thought placebos were just used in tests. Shows you what I know.
    I can understand giving a placebo to someone who suffered from chronic pain of a psychosomatic nature, but apart from that and maybe a few other situations, I regard it as unethical and think it should be illegal to mislead a patient in this way, regardless of the outcome.

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  • Yes, but they are so “good at twisting facts” it is hard for me, for all of us, to always know who is and who is not “part of the woo brigade.”

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  • The ability of the human mind to believe unsubstantiated nonsense is staggering. A remedy with zero active ingredient in it, not even a single molecule in sufficiently diluted formulas, can’t possibly do anything. Any “medical professional” thinking it can should not be allowed to practice medicine. However the placebo effect is real enough, as is having someone take more time listening to your woes than the average GP can afford to spend which is what homeopathy practitioners seem to do. Maybe if health services spent more money on counselling and mental health care there might be a better overall patient outcome.

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  • 12
    Cairsley says:

    Actually, a high price, along with all the right packaging, is just what is needed to convince some (at least) that what they are buying is of high, even the highest, quality. The homoeopathy business is a judicious combination of a convenient product presented to appeal to the needs of people of means who are naturally susceptible to the placebo effect and not averse from snob-value. Homoeopaths have been at this racket for over two centuries now, and they know their market well.

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  • The most viable explanation for the placebo effect is that in our evolution the full abilities of our immune system were not employed because they were very energy demanding and if we were too ill to even feed ourselves running up an energy deficit in fighting infection may simply kill us quicker.

    The theory suggests we use our immune system at some lesser level until we receive strong signals that another is caring for us and energy won’t be a problem. Chicken soup is probably a perfect placebo, actually giving the gesture of being cared for and the energy to fight infection.

    The proper administrators of placebos are and always have been doctors popping placebos at the end of their treatment options list. Placebo injections prove more effective than placebo pills, but greater efficacy still may be got with the feel goods of ten minutes extra listening and a properly concerned manner, before writing the prescription. Training for this is done, but might be emphasised and improved after a few more studies to look at the efficacy of “bedside manner”. Only properly trained doctors can factor in such a last resort or additive component safely.

    Sugar pills and water shouldn’t cost us special buildings and smiley fake doctors with Porsches on their gravel drives.

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  • I wouldn’t get to carried away by this. It doesn’t cover homeopathic hospitals which is where three quarters of the homeopathic spend goes. Similar recommendations have been swept under the carpet in recent years, so I won’t hold my breath.

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  • Let’s hope this proposal isn’t watered down !

    Like cures like eh? So the less homeopathy practised, the more effective it will be ? The likes of Tredinnick (see Alan4D above) are just paid lackeys for the woo industry.

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  • No intelligent person thinks that chicken soup can fight a serious infection.
    But the “energy” produced by receiving a wholesome, hot meal and some loving-kindness along with it, is not a placebo effect, to be precise.

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  • That’s pretty funny! —Although all kidding aside, I do think that as fewer homeopathic “remedies” become available, the harder they are to find, and the more expensive they become, the more effective they will be … as a placebo.
    If I had, say, asthma, and were told that a certain remedy was only sold in, say, China, and that the price was astronomical, and I didn’t know it was homeopathic, as the word had been changed, I might order it. I’d probably get some mild, temporary relief too.

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  • Kant, an amateur medical practitioner, was a strong believer in homeopathy and wrote a short paper on it and other related topics (published posthumously) called: The Vicissitudes of Various Afflictions and Various Remedies (1763)


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  • Mr DArcy
    Nov 24, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    The likes of Tredinnick (see Alan4D above) are just paid lackeys for the woo industry.

    Where the Americans have YEC-nut politicians, the UK has Tredinnick! People have re-elected this loony again and again for years – which goes to illustrate the old English saying! – In some places they would elect a monkey, if it wore their favoured party badge and colours!
    (Don’t mention Hartlepool -it’s off topic!!)

    I think Tredinnick is the genuine wacko article in addition to being the woomeister’s chief stooge!

    . . . . and when I said “babblings” I was not kidding! This bloke should be elected to Broadmoor!


    David Tredinnick, Tory MP, Says NHS Doctors Could Use Astrology To Treat Patients

    David Tredinnick (who sits on both the Health Select Committee and the Science and Technology Select Committee) said on Tuesday that divination could have a “role to play in healthcare” and that employing prophecy in 21st century medicine could relieve “pressure” on doctors”. In an interview with the Astrological Journal, the MP for Bosworth in Leicestershire said: “I do believe that astrology and complementary medicine would help take the huge pressure off doctors.”

    The controversial Conservative said that people unconvinced by astrology – that’s the predicting of terrestrial events from celestial observations – were “bullies”, adding that the practise was “based on thousands of years of observation”.

    He continued: “I think it is a great pity that so many scientists today are dismissive of right-side brain energy, such as intuition. People such as Professor Brian Cox, who called astrology ‘rubbish’ have simply not studied the subject. The opposition (to astrology) is based on what I call the SIP formula – superstition, ignorance, and prejudice.”

    Tredinnick said: “It tends to be based on superstition, with scientists reacting emotionally, which is always a great irony. They are also ignorant, because they never study the subject and just say that it is all to do with what appears in the newspapers, which it is not, and they are deeply prejudiced, and racially prejudiced, which is troubling.”

    If he was not an MP on important committees wasting the time of people dealing with science and health, he would be a great comedy act rivalling Ken Ham! !

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  • rogeroney
    Nov 24, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    Given that all homeopathic ‘remedies’ are just water, I’m not so confident they will become less available, or harder to find – LOL!!!!!

    In Parliament if the climate change deniers continue on course, (being alongside the tidal Thames), as ice caps melt and sea-levels rise, they will have lots of water available to examine – despite the modern flood barrier!

    Remarkable scenes were witnessed all along the Embankment. At the Houses of Parliament the water “cataracted” over the parapet into the open space at the foot of Big Ben. The floods penetrated into Old Palace Yard, which shortly after one o’clock was about a foot under water in parts.

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  • Placebo effects are significant in subjectively assessed outcomes, but substantially less so in binary assessment (cured/uncured).

    It clearly works to a degree as assessed most recently in this study

    Look at the first bargraph.


    A 2004 study in the British Medical Journal of physicians in Israel found that 60% used placebos in their medical practice, most commonly to “fend off” requests for unjustified medications or to calm a patient.[84] The accompanying editorial concluded, “We cannot afford to dispense with any treatment that works, even if we are not certain how it does.”[85] Other researchers have argued that open provision of placebos for treating ADHD in children can be effective in maintaining ADHD children on lower stimulant doses in the short term.[86]

    One of the great virtues of this deception is the ability the doctor has to fight off requests for antibiotics, where they are uncalled for. The huge advantage of ditching homeopathy is getting people to go to see someone medically competent.

    A thorough ethical review of their use by NICE in the UK would be appropriate. The possibility of their use could be signalled in small print. All UK patients have a right to view their records. All records must only show the facts. The use as last or supplementary resort may be the only situations allowed. Lots of possibilities.

    Interestingly placebos still have some efficacy when such dummy treatments are announced as such.

    My favourite placebo is money. Offer each patient £20 if they’l just go away. Cheaper and guaranteed efficacious.

    Soup was another joke…

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