Homeopathy goes nuclear: how the homeopathic industry remains detached from reality

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Edzard Ernsthttps://edzardernst.com/
Edzard Ernst is Emeritus Professor of Complementary Medicine at the Peninsula School of Medicine, University of Exeter. He is the author of ten books on complementary and alternative medicine.

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Most readers will know that highly diluted homeopathic remedies are pure placebos. But not everyone might appreciate that, as the consensus about this fact widens, the delusions of homeopaths are getting stronger.

A recent example is the notion that homeopathy will protect us from the harm of nuclear radiation. After Putin’s threat to go nuclear in his war against Ukraine, dozens of such claims have recently emerged. Here is just one website promoting this nonsense:

Nuclear Radiation

Homeopathic remedies as a preventive for adults

To be taken on an annual or bi-annual basis:
– Week 1: Carcinosin in CM potency 
– Week 2: Radium Bromide in CM potency
– Week 3: Carcinosin in CM potency
– Week 4: Radium Bromide in CM potency
– Week 5: Carcinosin in CM potency
– Week 6: Radium Bromide in CM potency

Homeopathic remedies as a preventive for children (13 years old)
To be taken on an annual or bi-annual basis:
– Week 1: Carcinosin in 1000 potency
– Week 2: Radium Bromide in 1000 potency
– Week 3: Carcinosin in 1000 potency
– Week 4: Radium Bromide in 1000 potency
– Week 5: Carcinosin in 1000 potency
– Week 6: Radium Bromide in 1000 potency.

Some will say that these are just a few ‘rotten apples’, but that generally homeopaths are much more reasonable. Surely their professional organisations keep a close watch over standards? Sadly, this is mere wishful thinking.

The international homeopathic medical society ‘Liga Medicorum Homoeopathica Internationalis’ (LMHI) represents homeopathic physicians in more than 70 countries all over the world. The purposes of the LMHI are “the development and securing of homeopathy worldwide and the creation of a link among licensed homeopaths with medical diplomas and societies and persons who are interested in homeopathy.”

In the pursuit of their aims, the LMHI have penned this short letter to the Director-General of the WHO:

As you know, the World Health Organization (WHO) is predicting that civilization faces a crisis of antibiotic-resistant diseases that may soon result in as many as 10 million deaths per year while pushing as many as 24 million people into extreme poverty.

We, the undersigned, are duly licensed healthcare professionals practicing homeopathy, with the authority to diagnose and treat disease, who have reviewed the extensive research literature demonstrating the clear therapeutic value of homeopathy.  Each of us has had extensive clinical experience successfully treating hundreds of thousands of patients suffering from infectious diseases worldwide.

Homeopathy works, does not cause further antibiotic resistance, is generally devoid of side effects, is inexpensive, and is good for health of the planet.

We are calling upon the WHO to encourage the international medical community to immediately begin training in homeopathy as an adjunctive therapeutic measure to avoid this catastrophic loss of life and would like a meeting with you or your representative to discuss the grave challenge of antibiotic resistance at your earliest convenience.

Thank you for considering this urgent appeal.

In the defence of homeopathy, one might argue that the LMHI is just a lobby group from which such behaviour can be expected. Surely, on the academic level, homeopathy is more serious and evidence-based. I am afraid, this is wrong too. Take the recent consensus of 10 German professors about homeopathy, for example. Here is my translation of their summary:

The quality and safety of homeopathic medicines are proven and guaranteed by their legal status as medicines. Today, homeopathy is a science-based, individualized medicine. Clinical studies show that homeopathic medicines are an effective and socioeconomically sensible alternative or supplement to synthetic chemical medicines for both chronic and acute indications. Trust and acceptance in homeopathy are high among physicians and patients alike. Training and continuing education courses are in high demand in order to provide qualified advice on the possibilities and limitations of this form of therapy. Overall it is clear that homeopathy, in the sense of a patient-centred, pluralistic medicine and pragmatically oriented therapy, can make a valuable contribution to health care.

Advocating placebos for serious conditions, petitioning the WHO, and whitewashing the evidence on homeopathy could be seen as silly, amusing or embarrassing. But, I must admit, I find these developments worrying.

It isn’t that I fear many people will be stupid enough to use homeopathy for protection against nuclear radiation. Nor do I think the WHO will now start a worldwide training programme of physicians to practise homeopathy. And nor do I assume the ten German professors will have any effect with their consensus other than ruining their own reputation.

These developments are worrying, I feel, because they show how hopelessly deluded many homeopaths truly are. The fact that clinicians so far detached from reality treat vulnerable patients frightens me.

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