Homeopathy has no health benefits and all government rebates for the therapy should be revoked, the nation’s peak medical research body has found.
After reviewing 1800 studies, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has concluded that there is no reliable evidence to back the ‘treatment’, which uses to highly diluted substances such as herbs, cuttlefish ink and snake venom to supposedly trigger the body’s immune system.
“There is no good quality evidence to support the claim that homeopathy works better than a placebo,” the NHMRC report said.
Homeopathy should not be used to treat health conditions that are serious or could become serious, the report found.
A World Health Organisation review in 2009 estimated Australians spend $9.58 million a year on homeopathic medicines.
Paul Glasziou, chair of the NHMRC homeopathy working committee, said health funds should not offer rebates for homoeopathic therapies.
“In the current financial constraints, I would think that health insurers … should be looking at what is effective versus ineffective treatments,” Prof Glasziou said.
“Things that haven’t been shown to be effective, I wouldn’t want to see those funded either public or privately.”
Only 225 of the 1800 studies met the criteria to be included in the NHMRC’s examination of homeopathy.
Studies were only included if they compared a group of people who were given homeopathic treatment with a similar group who did not receive treatment.
The Australian Homeopathic Association said it was in the process of preparing a formal response to the NHMRC report.