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

There is a broad, growing, international consensus that homeopathy is a placebo therapy. Even the Germans who have been notoriously fond of their homeopathic remedies are now slowly beginning to accept this fact. But now, a dispute has started to smolder in Germany’s southwest about further training for doctors in homeopathy. In July, the representative assembly of the Baden-Württemberg Medical Association decided to remove the additional title of homeopathy from the further training regulations of doctors. However, the local health ministry has legal control over the medical association and must therefore review the decision, and the minister (Manne Lucha), a member of the Green Party, has stated that he considers the deletion to be wrong.

In a further deepening of the conflict, it has been reported that the chairwoman of the Green Party, Lena Schwelling, considers the ongoing controversy over homeopathy to be exaggerated and wants to preserve people’s freedom of choice. She said she agrees with Health Minister Manne Lucha that naturopathy and homeopathy are important issues for many people. “There is freedom of choice of doctor and therapy in this country. And if people want to choose it, I think they should be allowed to do so.” She also said continuing education for homeopathy for physicians should remain.

Schwelling spoke out against omitting homeopathy from the benefits catalog of the statutory health insurance funds, as demanded by the German Liberal Party, for example: “We are talking about about 0.003 percent of the total costs of the statutory health insurance funds, which flow into homeopathic medicines and treatments. If you saw that as a homeopathic medicine, that would also be at the detection limit, that’s how little money it is. It’s so diluted and so little in this overall budget that it’s not worth arguing about. That’s why I’m very surprised at the crusade some are waging against the issue of homeopathy.”

Recently, a dispute has been smoldering in the southwest about continuing education for homeopathy. The representative assembly of the Baden-Württemberg Medical Association decided in July to remove the additional title of homeopathy from the continuing education regulations. The local health minister, Lucha, has legal oversight of the medical association and must review the amendment statute. However, the minister has already stated that he believes the deletion is wrong.

In response, Schwelling stated it is a “normal process” for the ministry to review what the medical association has proposed. He added that it was perfectly clear that “further training in homeopathy is additional training and does not replace medical studies. Of course, homeopathic doctors also prescribe antibiotics when indicated. An important point why homeopathy should remain in the canon is that you then have the established control mechanisms, for example, in further education.”

14 Responses to German politicians are in disagreement about homeopathy

  • Although I consider the Green Party as very important in the past because they were the first party to focus on promoting environmental protection, they unfortunately always seemed prone to fall for SCAM and esoteric BS.
    Furthermore, a tendency for unscientific policymaking is tangible, as for example is the case for plant biotechnology via modern tools like CRISPR/CAS9.
    The statements of Schwelling and Lucha are therefore unfortunately not very surprising.
    I liked reading your book “Homöopathie – die Fakten [unverdünnt]” quite a lot and thought it nicely conveyed the reasons for objecting to homeopathy. Might I suggest that you send a copy to Schwelling and Lucha? They certainly could learn a lot from it (vorausgesetzt, dass die beiden das auch wirklich wollen).

  • “An important point why homeopathy should remain in the canon is that you then have the established control mechanisms, for example, in further education.”

    Did they do this with phrenology?

    If not why and why is homeopathy any different?

    • … that you then have the established control mechanisms, for example, in further education …

      What do they even mean by this? That maintaining an ‘official’ status of homeopathy means that there is some sort of ‘quality control’ in place? That only educated people may call themselves homeopaths?

      This is of course total hogwash. Quality control implies that there is a degree of quantifiable and testable quality in the first place – but homeopathy, being completely ineffective for anything, has no quality that can be tested(*).
      By the same token, education in something that is 100% divorced from reality has no meaning and no value in any medical/scientific sense. Even the most extensively educated (in homeopathy) homeopath is no better healer than an uneducated person who one day simply decides to get some bottles with shaken water and sugar crumbs and call themselves a homeopath henceforth (i.e. the career path of a significant proportion of homeopaths).

      *: Except perhaps the ‘quality’ of how effectively it deceives people and drains their wallets.

      • “education in something that is 100% divorced from reality has no meaning and no value in any medical/scientific sense.”

        But the practitioners of scam get so angry when one says all the initials after their name are meaningless….

  • Knowingly or otherwise those who sell and buy homeopathy and naturopathy are selling and buying placebos.

    I don’t suppose that many if any of those who buy them believe it; surely people cannot be allowed to sell mere placebos?

    It is very, very telling that Schwelling turns the issue into one of freedom of choice. This amounts to freedom to con and be conned.

    There should be no such freedom. If such freedom be granted to these particular cons then why not others?

    No exemptions for cons!

  • “The chairwoman of the Green Party, Lena Schwelling, considers the ongoing controversy over homeopathy to be exaggerated and wants to preserve people’s freedom of choice. She said she agrees with Health Minister Manne Lucha that naturopathy and homeopathy are important issues for many people. “There is freedom of choice of doctor and therapy in this country. And if people want to choose it, I think they should be allowed to do so.”

    Couldn’t agree more – but the issue for state regulators and government is “who pays for hogwash?”
    If individual patients give fully informed consent (and are told there is no evidence that homeopathy provides any benefit beyond the placebo), that is up to them.

    But why should other citizens be expected to pay?
    It does not matter how little – the issue for me is that nobody should be obliged to pay through taxes/insurance for systems of healthcare that cannot demonstrate any efficacy whatsoever (beyond placebo).

    Contrary to Lena Schwelling, it is worth arguing about because it’s a matter of principle.
    Or do German Greens and Liberal Party have no principles?

  • I would be very happy to receive less than the .003% cost of the statutory health care fund and provide a service at least as beneficial as homeopathy.

    • When you have a 220+ years of thoroughly documented cures of serious acute and “incurable” chronic diseases llike homeopathy does, maybe we will consider it.

      • @Stan

        … thoroughly documented cures of serious acute and “incurable” chronic diseases llike homeopathy does …

        You can repeat an untruth all you like, but that doesn’t turn it into the truth.
        Just like you can shake water all you like without ever turning it into a medicine.

  • One clarification: Lena Schwelling is not the chairwoman of the German Green Party but only of the state association of Baden-Württemberg.

    Co-leader of the Green Party Ricarda Lang, who is also a member of the Baden-Württemberg state association, on the other hand, had recently opposed her own association and also Manne Lucha regarding their stance to homeopathy.

  • Cant allow freedom of choice! The nanny state must protect people from freedom to choose their desired medicine. Its the German way! Vee Know Vats Best fur You! Salute when we say that.

    • cant [verb]: talk hypocritically and sanctimoniously about something.

    • @stan
      Please allow me to correct you:
      “Cant allow freedom of defrauding people with useless quackery at the taxpayers’ expense.”

      No need to thank me, my pleasure.

    • The freedom to choose a physician in Germany is not affected by the decision to remove the additional title of homeopathy from the training regulations. Physicians may continue to practice homeopathy.

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