Last month, delegates to the British Medical Association’s conference opposed the use of public money to pay for homeopathic remedies, claiming they have “no place in the modern health service,”and saying that it goes against the principles of evidence-based medicine. They want homoeopathic remedies to be banned from chemists (drug stores) unless they are labeled and sold as placebos (which would seem to defeat the purpose entirely).
Homeopathy is a form of health care developed by Samuel Hahnemann, of Germany, over 200 years ago. It is based on the so-called law of similars: the idea that small quantities of substances which produce certain specific symptoms can cure those similar symptoms in patients. As an example, onions (which can produce tearing, itchy eyes) can be used to relieve the symptoms of hay fever, which has similar symptoms.
Dr Gordon Lehany, a psychiatrist and chair of the British Medical Association was quoted as saying:
“While placebos can work, they are not medicines, there is no active ingredient…”
Still, one can’t help but think that labeling these products as placebos is going to cut down on their “effectiveness”.