The Society of Homeopaths does not endorse “preventative” treatment in serious tropical diseases

The Society of Homeopaths, the UK’s largest register of homeopaths with 1,500 members, does not endorse the use of homeopathic remedies with a view to preventing serious tropical diseases such as malaria and yellow fever.

At this time, the evidence to support the use of homeopathic prophylactics, that is, using homeopathic remedies as a preventative treatment, is largely anecdotal and therefore the use of this method is speculative.

The Society recommends that members of the public follow the advice given by their GP and/or relevant Department of Health guidelines concerning protection against disease whilst travelling.

The Society is making this statement in response to a BBC Newsnight programme (January 4th) which contained inaccurate information about homeopathy and falsely suggested that Society of Homeopaths’ members routinely prescribe homeopathic medicines as a prevention for serious tropical diseases, as an alternative to conventional drugs.

The Society would also like to add that, contrary to statements made on the programme, there is a growing body of scientific research evidence which shows that homeopathy is effective beyond placebo in the treatment of patients suffering from a variety of conditions.1

While there is some evidence to suggest that homeopathic medicines may be effective in preventing serious disease (e.g. a recent study in Cuba which suggests that homeoprophylaxis may be a ‘feasible tool’ for controlling epidemics of Leptospirosis)2, the amount of evidence available is currently insufficient to justify the practice of homeoprophylaxis for malaria and other tropical disease.

With the devastating impact that serious tropical diseases have worldwide, and the side-effects associated with available drug treatments, The Society believes further research is essential.

In the programme, a brief hidden camera clip of a Society of Homeopaths member talking to a patient about the prevention of malaria was used. As a responsible professional body, the Society of Homeopaths will investigate any formal complaint made against a registered member, in accordance with its professional conduct procedures.

References:

1. British Homeopathic Association. The Research Evidence Base for Homeopathy. www.britishhomeopathic.org/export/sites/bha_site/research/evidencesummary.pdf [accessed, Dec 2010]

2. Bracho G et al. Large-scale application of highly-diluted bacteria for Leptospirosis epidemic control. Homeopathy, 2010; 99: 156-166