Homeopathy is a system of alternative medicine created in 1796 by Samuel Hahnemann based on his doctrine of like cures like (similia similibus curentur), a claim that a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people would cure similar symptoms in sick people.
Homeopathy, which one of the panel members referred to as a “therapeutic dead-end,” is based on the idea that “like cures like” (a questionable proposition to start with).
Thus, its practitioners claim that if you take a substance that causes a sickness or similar symptoms of a sickness, then dilute it—to the point where the result is plain water—you create a cure.
There's no mechanism that can possibly explain this, but some tout the idea that water has memory that can retain therapeutic information after dilution has removed every last molecule of the “healing” substance.
These are centuries-old ideas, and we now know they defy basic knowledge of physics, chemistry, and biology.
Accordingly, they've long been dismissed by the vast majority of modern scientists and physicians. All that hasn’t stopped homeopathy believers.
In 2007, about 3.3 million Americans spent $2.9 billion on the industry. In the UK, the National Health Service picks up a $5.74 million (£4 million) check for two homeopathic hospitals and various water treatments.
The numbers, while puzzling, may appear harmless at first.
People have the right to spend their money on what they wish, and there is no inherent danger in drinking a bit of water.
But there is potential for homeopathy to injure patients, according to the expert panel, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
“People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness,” the NHMRC concluded.
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THEREFORE: Homeopathy is a pseudoscience – a belief that is incorrectly presented as scientific. Homeopathic preparations are not effective for treating any condition; large-scale studies have found homeopathy to be no more effective than a placebo, suggesting that any positive feelings that follow treatment are only due to the placebo effect and normal recovery from illness.