MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

I am beginning to think that a devotion to homeopathy is conducive to telling porkies. When I read texts by homeopaths, I almost invariably discover untruths. Take this article on the popularity of homeopathy, for instance:

Worldwide

  • Worldwide, over 200 million people use homeopathy on a regular basis.1, 2
  • Homeopathy is included in the national health systems of a number of countries e.g. Brazil, Chile, India, Mexico, Pakistan, Switzerland.

India

  • India leads in terms of number of people using homeopathy, with 100 million people depending solely on homeopathy for their medical care.1
  • There are over 200,000 registered homeopathic doctors currently, with approximately 12,000 more being added every year.3

Europe

  • 100 million EU citizens, some 29% of the EU’s population, use homeopathic medicines in their day-to-day healthcare.2
  • Homeopathy is practised in 40 out of 42 European countries.4

UK

  • 10% of people in the UK use homeopathy – an estimated 6 million people.5
  • In Britain, the market for homeopathy is growing at around 20% per year.  In 2007, it was estimated to be worth £38m, and is projected to reach £46m in 2012.6
  • There are ~ 400 doctors in the UK that use homeopathy, regulated by the Faculty of Homeopathy and promoted by the British Homeopathic Association.7
  • There are ~1,500 professional homeopaths (non-medically qualified homeopaths) in the UK,8 regulated by the Society of Homeopaths (65%), Alliance of Registered Homeopaths and Homeopathic Medical Association. They largely operate in private practice outside the NHS.
  • See NHS spending on homeopathy

US

  • According to the National Institutes of Health, over 6 million people in the United States use homeopathy, mainly for self-care of specific health conditions.
  • Of those who use homeopathy, ~1 million are children and over 5 million are adults.9, 10

References

  1. Prasad R. Homoeopathy booming in India. Lancet, 2007; 370:1679-80 | Full Text
  2. Homeopathic medicinal products. Commission report to the European Parliament and the Council on the application of Directives 92/73 and 92/74 | Full Text
  3. Ghosh AK. A short history of the development of homeopathy in India. Homeopathy, 2010;99(2):130-6 | PubMed
  4. Legal Status of Traditional Medicine and Complementary/Alternative Medicine: A Worldwide Review, World Health Organization, 2001 | Full Text
  5. Professor Woods of the MHRA, response to Q211, House of Commons Science and Technology Committee hearing of evidence in preparation of Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy report (London: The Stationery Office Limited, 2010) | Full Text
  6. Mintel, Complementary Medicines, April 2007 | Link
  7. Faculty of Homeopathy | Link
  8. Society of Homeopaths | Link
  9. Black LI, et al. Use of Complementary Health Approaches Among Children Aged 4–17 Years in the United States: National Health Interview Survey, 2007–2012. National Health Statistics Reports, 2015; 78: February | Link
  10. Clarke TC, et al. Trends in the Use of Complementary Health Approaches Among Adults: United States, 2002–2012. National Health Statistics Reports, 2015; 79: February | Link

Contrast this with the (as far as I know) only systematic review on the subject:

Aim: To systematically review surveys of 12-month prevalence of homeopathy use by the general population worldwide.

Methods: Studies were identified via database searches to October 2015. Study quality was assessed using a six-item tool. All estimates were in the context of a survey which also reported prevalence of any complementary and alternative medicine use.

Results: A total of 36 surveys were included. Of these, 67% met four of six quality criteria. Twelve-month prevalence of treatment by a homeopath was reported in 24 surveys of adults (median 1.5%, range 0.2-8.2%). Estimates for children were similar to those for adults. Rates in the USA, UK, Australia and Canada all ranged from 0.2% to 2.9% and remained stable over the years surveyed (1986-2012). Twelve-month prevalence of all use of homeopathy (purchase of over-the-counter homeopathic medicines and treatment by a homeopath) was reported in 10 surveys of adults (median 3.9%, range 0.7-9.8%) while a further 11 surveys which did not define the type of homeopathy use reported similar data. Rates in the USA and Australia ranged from 1.7% to 4.4% and remained stable over the years surveyed. The highest use was reported by a survey in Switzerland where homeopathy is covered by mandatory health insurance.

Conclusions: This review summarises 12-month prevalence of homeopathy use from surveys conducted in eleven countries (USA, UK, Australia, Israel, Canada, Switzerland, Norway, Germany, South Korea, Japan and Singapore). Each year a small but significant percentage of these general populations use homeopathy. This includes visits to homeopaths as well as purchase of over-the-counter homeopathic medicines.

Spot some discrepancies?

I wonder why the author (no name was provided) failed to cite the systematic review (it was published by pro-homeopathy researchers in a journal which they surely know – it’s called ‘Homeopathy’!). Perhaps because he/she writes for the ‘Homeopathy Research Institute‘. This organisation states that the HRI is an innovative international charity created to address the need for high quality scientific research in homeopathy. The charity was founded by physicist, Dr Alexander Tournier, who previously worked as an independent researcher for Cancer Research UK, conducting interdisciplinary research at the boundaries between mathematics, physics and biology.

The HRI also claims that the evidence suggests that homeopathy could provide solutions to many of the challenges facing us today – from overuse of antibiotics to spiraling healthcare budgets…

You see, now it all makes sense!

17 Responses to The extraordinary popularity of homeopathy = an extraordinary lie

  • “Assume a virtue, if you have it not”—Hamlet. “Oh yeah that’s real medicine”—-Sam Hahnemann (after reading Hamlet)

  • The “review summarizes 12-month prevalence of homeopathy use from surveys conducted in eleven countries”. Neither India nor Mexico are mentioned in the list. In both countries they dont have an expensive monopoly of allopathic conventional medicine. Homeopathy, Ayurveda and CON-MED have equal rights in India, including hospital access and medical schools. In Mexico allopathy & homeopathy have equal rights. So that is where a figure of 100’s of millions could be derived: in country with over a billion residents and another with over 120 million. That does not include all the countries in So. America and Eastern Europe and Russian block. Homeopathy is catching on rapidly in China, also. So who is lying now, Dr Ernst?

    • when you have stopped foaming from the mouth, read my post again

    • The bottom line is that homeopathy IS extraordinarily popular. Hundreds of millions of patients and their MDs use it worldwide as their regular go-to medicine and will continue to do so, whether skeptics like it or not. Whether you want to quibble about the statistics in one country or another, is irrelevant to the larger point you are lying about in the title of this post.

      I would recommend that skeptics use their considerable talents to make their chosen form of conventional medicine, better. Lord knows their is considerable scope for improvement, as CON-MED kills many hundreds of thousands yearly world-wide, using dangerous & ineffective therapies. And leave off attacking relatively harmless forms of medicine that they are unwilling or unable to investigate thoroughly. Let those of us who have walked away from conventional medicine after experiencing its depredations, use the forms of medicine that we choose, in peace free from your haughty, paternalistic, unnecessary and unwelcome attacks. Clean your own very dirty house first.

      • Roger

        How many medicines and treatment modalities in medicine and surgery have been discarded or altered because other better or safer methods and medicines have been found and demonstrated to be better and safer?

        Countless.

        It is how science works.

        Our so-called “dirty house” is one which we are constantly making cleaner, Roger. You, meanwhile, live on a pile of bullshit and claim you can’t smell anything. Homeopaths and homeopathy are incapable of self-correction because homeopaths and homeopathy are fundamentally unscientific.

      • @Roger wrote:

        homeopathy IS extraordinarily popular

        Compared to what? Beyoncé? Have you ever wondered why modern medicine is super-extra-fantastically popular and used by billions, actually almost the whole world? Could it be because it actually works, most of it at least? And it is continually being improved: https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/facts-and-figures-2020.html

        I would recommend that skeptics use their considerable talents to make their chosen form of conventional medicine, better.

        Many of us work hard at precisely that. We just do not use up space on this blog about it. Here the subject is fake medicine. One way of helping our patients is discussing and learning how to deal with fools promoting make believe medicine. You have been instrumental in proving how necessary that is, thank you.

        CON-MED kills many hundreds of thousands yearly world-wide, using dangerous & ineffective therapies.

        How terrible, have you told the police about this? I think you should. Then come back and tell us how they reacted.

        • Always impressive how they can prove to themselves that their methods are working. No need to change; carry on. Give us more funding; we are almost there. When they want an AIDS epidemic, they expand the definition of AIDS. When they want to show that the polio vaccine is working, they start calling the signs of the altered disease something else. Its a mirror fun house.

  • Sorry, now I understand what you are getting at. You are trying to say is that homeopathy is not extraordinarily popular in the _right_ mostly _white_ populations! Those who live in countries with monopolized healthcare and mass media both controlled by pharmaceutical corporations, unexposed to competitive alternatives that are available elsewhere. Why didnt you say so in the headline instead of just implying it in the article? How extraordinarily deceptive of you.

  • @roger: are you implying that there are Caucasians who are only partially white? What color are those other parts?
    And with your imposing intellectual prowess I’d enjoy hearing how immersed in Scientology you are…and if not, why not?

  • Björn Geir needs to tell the police about the carnage occuring on our streets. I keep having to jump over people with backs like Richard lll maimed by Chiros and Osteopaths. The drains are blocked with vomit from the poor trusting public having taken herbal products bought in pharmacies. I see people burnt to a cinder having had Hopi ear candle treatment. Worst of all are those crippled with some toxic syndrome having consumed a few sucrose 40mg pills from OTC Homeopathic 30c remedies.
    THE POLICE MUST ACT NOW TO END THIS CATASTROPHE.
    Please Björn use your considerable iinfluence to bring this matter to the attention of the police now.
    Thank you in the name of humanity.
    Cod knows why anyone would want to Hecla Björn on here as he is a good geyser

    • Wow, Dendra, you are the princess with the pea! A mote in your eye that looks as big as a skyscraper. Or more likely, seriously deluded. When your favored CON-MED fails for you in extremis, you can try stepping over your hallucinations and see what is really happening on the other side.

    • @Dendra

      No sir.
      Sick patients are not looking for a police state, they want choices, not fascism.

      Nor do sick patients need a nanny state to be a daddy. Governments that can not manage tasks like balancing budgets, repairing roads, legislating laws that make sense, and enforcing them. Governments that sell out to lobbyist and big business.
      Please, don’t give the government more power than it already has over my life.

  • This catastrophe is not just happening to the unsuspecting public. Only today I saw a flying saucer land and I witnessed an innocent alien walk into a market and somehow getting hold of a Hopi ear candle. The alien couldn’t read the instructions and unfortunately placed the lit candle in the anus. This had unfortunate consequences for the alien. Now this issue is known throughout the universe and not just on this blog. I expect action now from the intergalactic council. This has now gone well beyond the remit of the police.

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