The random thoughts of a sceptical activist

Changing times for homeopaths

Many websites of homeopaths are changing. Some as a direct result of being contacted by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and some, no doubt, because, now they are aware of the ASA’s rules, want to be responsible and abide by them.

I’ve been watching several websites change over recent months: some delete a few words here and there; some have had to make substantial changes; and some have yet to make the necessary changes.

One of the websites I’ve been watching is the one belonging to the Society of Homeopaths.

Their home page had this:

Homeopathy is an evidence-based medicine which offers holistic, individual and integrated treatment with highly diluted substances with the aim of triggering the body’s natural system of healing.

A few days ago, they changed it to say:

Homeopathy is a form of holistic medicine in which treatment is tailored to the individual.

Have they finally realised that it’s not ‘an evidence-based medicine'; that there is no robust scientific evidence (ie the kind required by the ASA to protect the public from misleading claims) that homeopathic sugar pills have any effect over placebo?

I doubt it, but sooner or later homeopaths have to realise that they have to abide by the same rules as every other advertiser: if you make a claim, you must have robust evidence to substantiate it.

If a double-glazing seller claims his windows use an alternative glass that works far better than ‘conventional’ glass, then we would — rightly — expect him to be able to back up that with good evidence. There cannot be one standard for, say, double-glazing sellers and different, lower standard, for homeopaths.

And so with the homeopaths or any other advertiser of alternative therapies. Indeed, there could be a case made for requiring an even higher standard of evidence for claims about healthcare made to an unsuspecting public.

Tea anyone?

The SoH also added to their home page:

Homeopathy can be used alongside conventional medicine when necessary to give an integrated approach to your healthcare.

Well, homeopathy can be used alongside conventional medicine, but so can cups of tea, probably with similar effects.

 

They’ve still got a very long way to go, but it’s a step in the right direction. And one that their members might be advised to follow.

 

10 Responses to Changing times for homeopaths

  • Heh.

    “Homeopathy is a form of holistic medicine in which treatment is tailored to the individual. Holistic – because you get whole sugar pills, not just bits of ones. And tailored, because the label on your bottle of sugar pills will be tailored to you, the individual.”

  • The biggest problem imo is the continuing use of the word “evidence”, as if there is just the tiniest modicum of evidence, by critics. When we say “there is no robust evidence” it presents the idea that with more research more evidence will be acquired. But in reality, and for all practical purposes, there is no evidence to support any use of homeopathy, and all the actual evidence incontrovertibly supports the fact that homeopathy has no medical or therapeutic value.
    For as long as the idea is presented that statistical anomalies constitute evidence (by describing it as “not robust”) then homeopaths will always have a line with which to rescue themselves.

    Homeopathy is the business of medical fraud, and in any other sphere of business it would be accepted as fraud and treated accordingly.

  • I think it’s also a mistake to continue to fall into the trap of false descriptions, so much a part of Alternative Reality Medicine rhetoric. “Alternative”, “conventional” and “medicine” for a start.

  • I think your comparison between using homeopathy vs a cup of tea alongside real medicine is unfair. Tea has some known, and mostly positive, effects on the body, over that of a placebo.

  • As an Englishman, I am both outraged and deeply offended at your implication that homeopathy is as effective as a nice cup of tea. A more accurate analogy might be obtained by first dropping the cup of tea into the Atlantic Ocean before serving.

    If we let “facts” like this slip through unchallenged, pretty soon we’ll all be drinking coffee, and then where will be? Eh? EH? Standards slipping,end of civilisation, dogs and cats living together.

  • Sir,

    I and my fellow WCTB practitioners wish to protest at any assimilation of WCTB with homeopathy.

    WCTB therapy works. It is also cheap. Homeopathy does not work and is extremely expensive.

    Your faithfully

    The Phantom Teapot

  • Oh dear. I have upset the tea drinkers, haven’t I?

    I do partake but my preferred beverage is a good fresh coffee. I’m all for choice, of course, but before any homeopathists jump in, I don’t remember having seen any misleading healthcare claims about tea being made in adverts to the public. Nor does the NHS spend millions on it, proclaiming it to be a treatment for numerous health conditions.

  • 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 centilitres of tea is optimum. Plus or minus 0.000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000009 centilitres

    Any less tea and it becomes physically dangerous. For example this amount of tea is probably suicidal:
    0.00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 centilitres

    Any more tea and its effect is reduced. This amount will certainly have no effect at all:
    25 centilitres

  • I know a bloke who had his first cup of tea last year. 3 months after he had an arm severed due to an accident with an industrial centrifuge.

    So: I would like to warn everybody about tea-drinking

    (old jokes are the best,you know)

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