Homeopathy is ‘pseudoscience’ – Russia’s top science body
The memorandum on homeopathy was released by the Commission to Combat Pseudoscience and Falsification of Scientific Research, a part of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Russian chief scientific body, on Monday.
“The treatment with ultra-low doses of various substances used in homeopathy has no scientific basis,” the commission statement said, adding that the principles of such treatment contradict all known “chemical, physical and biological laws.”
“Patients spend a lot of money on ineffective drugs and neglect treatment with proven effectiveness. This can lead to adverse outcomes, including death of the patient,” it said, stressing that the use of homeopathy thus contradicts all principles of the Russian health care system.
“Homeopathic diagnosis and treatment should be qualified as pseudoscientific,” it concludes.
Homeopathy, a system of alternative medicine, was created back in 1796 by Samuel Hahnemann, and is based on his principle that a substance that causes symptoms of an illness in healthy people would cure similar symptoms of this illness in sick people.
For example, a fly agaric, which produces hallucinations if people eat it, should be used in small doses to treat hallucinations, according to homeopathy, although there is no sufficient scientific data proving that this mushroom has any medicinal qualities.
“Homeopathy was created in an era when the most important principles of the chemistry and biology of the molecule properties and existence of microbes had not yet been accepted,” the report states.
The commission, however, calls on people not to confuse homeopathy with phytotherapy, a use of plants and its extracts for therapeutic purposes. Unlike homeopathy, phytotherapy involves the use of plants with proven medicinal qualities for treatment of relevant diseases.
It calls upon the media not to present homeopathy as a useful type of treatment.
“[We call on the media] to present homeopathy as a pseudoscience together with magic, healing and psychic practices,” the report states.
The issue of homeopathy has been long disputed worldwide. In 2009, the World Health Organization said that it did not support homeopathy for a range of diseases, including HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, influenza and infant diarrhea.
The practice is reportedly widely applied in France – in 2010 some 27 million French people used homeopathic medicines, according to the data from the National Syndicate of Homeopathy.
In 2015 the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia said that there is no evidence that homeopathy is effective for treating conditions, adding that people who choose this treatment put their health at risk.
In 2015 Spanish University of Barcelona scrapped a homeopathy program because of its "lack of scientific basis." The decision followed a death of a six-year-old boy whose mother, a physical therapist at a homeopathic clinic, refused to get him vaccinated for diphtheria that has not been seen in Spain since 1986.
UK is one of the countries that have several homeopathic hospitals whose status is as yet unclear. These institutions include Bristol Homeopathic Hospital, Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine and Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital.