July 04, 2005

'Miracle water' turns to money

A nice article from Hospital Doctor about the merits, or rather lack of merits, of homoeopathy.
'Miracle water' turns to money

Hospital Doctor

Dr Copperfield
General Practitioner, Essex

Homeoepathy. The very word makes me gag: it;s impossible to say without conjuring up slim-laden visions of empathy an holism.

According to Complementary Healthcare: A Guide for Patients, published by the Prince of Wales Foundation for Integrated Health, 'the basic principle of homoeopath is like cures like'. Perhaps any homoepaths out there needing treatment for gunshot wounds would like me to test that particular theory.

Hang on, though. The guide says homoeopathy is used to treat conditions like asthma, eczema, arthritis, ME, migraine, menstrual problems, IBS, allergies, depression and anxiety - so it must be good. The fact that it's so useful in managing pathologies characterised by spontaneous remission and a high placebo response is obviously just a coincidence.

Frankly, I'll only come over all integrated when it's shown to be effective for infarcts, cataracts or atrial fibrillation.

Original Recipe
For those who persist in claiming 'there must be something in it', I have some bad news. There isn't. It's just water. It might start as a tincture of gingko biloba, but it goes through so many dilutions that the final remedy has no active ingredients other than some mystical 'echo' of the original recipe.

I don't know what's more infuriating: the fact that apparently sentient beings can buy into this shamanism, or that homoeopaths have perfected the miracle of turning water in to money.

But the enthusiasts remain unmoved. They don't care that bandolier says homoeopathy doesn't work. They're not bothered that the theory behind their therapy transgresses laws of science and puts homoeopathy alongside The Fairies At The Bottom Of Your Garden.

They continue to point to its popularity as a proxy measure of validity. Sure, but Celebrity Love Island was popular, too.

Commercial success simply means there will always be 'therapists' happy to pretend placebo, time and indulgence can be bottled and sold, punters desperate enough to try anything, and a media so open-minded that its brains fall out.

Really galling
But what's really galling is that the NHS supports this New Age nonsense. The aforementioned glossy 54-page Complementary Health Guide received Department of Health funding.

Scotland's only homoeopathic inpatient hospital was recently spared the axe despite an urgent need to trim budgets. And there are four other NHS homoeopathic hospitals in the UK offering outpatient services.

So, on the one hand, the Government exerts enormous pressure on the medical profession to practice evidence-based, cost-effective medicine. And, on the other, it subsidises a service of no proven benefit run by mystic medics - purely because pulling the plug on something as PC as an 'integrated health service' would be a vote loser.

Meanwhile, I have patients with real problems problems for whom real treatment is available yet their cataracts and hips have to wait while the NHS indulges this travesty of science.

It's time we poured cold water on the concept of homoeopathy. And kept pouring and pouring until it's undetectable.


Post a Comment

<< Home