In May this year, I reported that my ex-friend Michael Dixon had been appointed as HEAD OF THE ROYAL MEDICAL HOUSEHOLD. The story was picked up by Gabriel Pogrund, one of the top investigative journalists of THE SUNDAY TIMES, who published a long article about Dixon yesterday which I encourage you to read in full.

In it he revealed many things about Dixon including, for instance, that some of the academic titles he often carries might not be what they seem. On ‘X’. Pogrund commented that “He [Dixon] faces Qs after three unis could not confirm his academic roles”. The article prompted many other newspapers to report on the matter.

The Guardian, for instance, contacted The Good Thinking Society, which promotes scientific scepticism. Michael Marshall, project director at the society, said: “It [promoting homeopathy] isn’t appropriate. I think the role of the monarchy, if it has one in current society, isn’t to be advocating for their own personal projects and their own personal beliefs or using the power and influence they have to further causes that run directly counter to the evidence that we have. “It’s absolutely unequivocal that homeopathic remedies do not work and just because you happen to be in a position of extreme power and privilege, that doesn’t change that.” Marshall said the appointment was also worrying because it suggested the king might still be supporting complementary medicine behind the scenes. He added: “Before Charles became king, he was the patron of homeopathic organisations, he was an outspoken advocate in favour of homeopathy and pushing back the bounds of science towards pseudoscience. And the argument was that he would stop doing that once he became king. This appears to be a sign that he isn’t going to do that, that he isn’t going to stop. What’s worrying is, as we’ve seen from the black spider memos, Charles is someone who also wields his power and influence quietly behind the scenes as well as publicly, so if this is the kind of step he’s willing to make in public, it raises questions about whether he’s willing to make even more steps in private.”

The Guardian also asked me three questions and I provided my answers in writing:

Q: Do you think it’s appropriate that the king has appointed Dr Michael Dixon to such a prestigious role? If not, why?
A; Surely, the King can appoint who he wants. In the realm of health care, he often seemed to favour people wo promote dubious therapies [Charles, The Alternative King: An… by Ernst, Edzard (
Q: Do you think the king’s public position on homeopathy is problematic? and if so, why?
A: Anyone who promotes homeopathy is undermining evidence based medicine and rational thinking. The former weakens the NHS, the latter will cause harm to society.
Q: Do you think homeopathy has a place in medicine and if not, why? What has your research shown on its efficacy?
A: We and others have shown that homeopathy is not an effective therapy, which has today become the accepted consensus. To me, this means its only legitimate place is in the history books of medicine.

Within hours, the story became an international isse. For example a short article in DER SPIEGEL informed Germany as follows (my translation):

He works with Christian healers and prescribes goat weed for impotence: Dr Michael Dixon looks after the health of the British royal family. Scientists are appalled.

King Charles has appointed a homeopathy advocate as head of the royal medical household and has been heavily criticised by scientists. They call the decision worrying and inappropriate, as reported by the Guardian, among others. Dr Michael Dixon, who promotes faith healing and herbalism in his work as a general practitioner, has quietly held the senior position for a year, writes the Sunday Times. Although 71-year-old Dixon is head of the royal medical household, this is the first time that this role has not been combined with that of a doctor to the monarch. His duties include taking overall responsibility for the health of the King and the entire royal family – and also representing them in discussions with the government. He once invited a Christian healer into his practice to treat chronically ill patients. He also experimented with prescribing devil’s claw for shoulder pain and goat’s weed for impotence, reports the Sunday Times.

Will all this have consequences? Will the King reflect and reconsider his affiliations with those who promote quackery? Will Dixon change?

Personally, I will not hold my breath.

21 Responses to Dr. Michael Dixon under scrutiny

  • I was disappointed not to get a mention about my open letter to the Prince of Wales (now king) published in the BMJ in 2004.

    • yes, that was an important letter – but did it involve Dixon?

    • Happily, you were that one person objecting to that homeopathic filth and all the rest. Unhappily, I cannot read the whole of your letter – it’s a cliff hanger cut off by the “sign in to continue reading” demand. (I have temporarily retired, so there went all the paid subscriptions). If it isn’t unethical, I’d be pleased if you were able to post the whole letter here.

  • I was wrong!
    Dixon has at least made one change (thus admitting that the previous use of academic titles was dishonest):

    Gabriel Pogrund (@Gabriel_Pogrund) posted at 10:51 am on Mon, Dec 11, 2023:
    NEW: Dr Michael Dixon changes his biography after the Sunday Times posed questions about his CV

    For years, incl in recent memoir, King’s doctor claimed: “He is a visiting professor at UCL”.

    Homeopathy advocate also claimed roles at B’ham, Exeter.

    Now it’s just Westminster Uni.

  • There is no mention that Dr Dixon’s vaulting ambition led him to stand for election of the Royal College of Physicians – a genuine college of peers which has a democratic constitution and whose president changes in accordance with the wishes of its members, not those of an autocrat.

    He was unsuccessful.

    The Times also quotes Dr Dixon as saying: “It is not true that science has proved homeopathy is nothing more than a placebo.”
    This is clear evidence that Dr Dixon does not understand the scientific method – that ‘science’ can never prove a negative, and that it is for those who make extraordinary claims to provide extraordinary evidence.

    And that in the case of claims for benefits from homeopathy, there is no plausible evidence whatsoever that homeopathic preparations have any effect (indeed, they cannot, unless all laws of physics are to be set aside) beyond the placebo.

    A consultation with a caring homeopath may provide the King (and his household) with solace and comfort, but for Dr Dixon not to appreciate that is due to placebo responses is remarkable in one still registered by the GMC.

    As the quote of Michael Marshall (in the Guardian, noted by EE) empasises, the King can choose any personal physician he chooses, but to impose his choice on his household, and other doctors who may be called upon to work as a team, is taking autocracy too far.

    I only hope Prince George will develop a scientific bent, and train and enter the medical profession. He would then be able to hold his head high on the world stage with due professional authority when promoting wider interests such as those of his father and mother – mental health, families, climate etc., for all of which, a medical qualification is relevant.

    If he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps he could fulfill his military obligations as well and kill two birds with one stone.

    You heard it here first!

  • You’ve done tremendous work informing us of the dubious work of Dr Dixon and his royal sponsor. What is a bit disappointing is that the traditional media have taken several months even to notice his latest appointment, let alone dig into it in detail. Hopefully there will be more digging following Gabriel’s article.

  • jim, the King really messed with your cheerios. What have you medical scientists done for mankind besides llicking each others asshole.

    • I was not expecting such a deep and mature comment from you, JIM.

    • *Checks drugs on shelf*

      Kept me alive and functioning for several years. Keep Strange Woman I Live With functioning.

      But what do I know, as I have a science degree, was also a qualified and registered nurse and never worked in the private sector (aside from in a book shop for a time as a teenager)?

  • Edzard proved what we all already known, psuedoscience is not real, no shit. What have any of you so called scientists done for humans, on this site, besides throw your credentials around? Nothing, you are lifelong college students too scared to join real world.

  • There has been some other comment in the mainstream press. For the record I note the Times:

    “King should rid himself of this quack homeopath.”
    Oliver Kamm writing the Thunderer comment column for The Times 11.12.23:

    “I once interviewed Lord Rees of Ludlow, the astronomer royal, for this newspaper. It didn’t occur to me to ask whether he agrees with the Ancient Greek mathematician Ptolemy that the Earth is the non-orbiting centre of the universe, or with the American rapper B.o.B that it’s flat. Had I done so, I fear his natural politeness might have failed him.

    Yet Buckingham Palace thought it worth clarifying this week that another eminent member of the royal household “does not believe homeopathy can cure cancer”. This is Michael Dixon, head of the royal medical household. Extraordinarily, and though the Palace weirdly thought its formulation an effective rhetorical device to dispel criticism, it is a serious question whether Dr Dixon grants credence to such dangerous nonsense, for he is an outspoken advocate of such practices as homeopathy, faith healing and herbalism.

    As reported in The Sunday Times, Dixon has urged that alternative treatments be made available on the NHS. And it is a public scandal that the King has carried into his reign his documented championing of such atavistic and irrational notions.

    The premise of homeopathy is that a patient can be made well by ingesting solutions or substances so diluted that not a single molecule remains yet that would, in higher doses, cause the very condition they are intended to cure. If you think that’s counterintuitive, you’re being too generous. It’s utter twaddle, lacking any evidential basis.

    The King is free to babble absurdities behind closed doors, and even to accept such bogus remedies for himself, but that’s a matter for him and his personal physician. Dr Dixon’s is a public position, however, not a private one. And the Palace inadvertently undermined it by citing the King’s long-expressed view that homeopathy is “not about rejecting conventional medicines in favour of other treatments: the term ‘complementary’ medicine means precisely what it says”.

    Medicine rests on scientific method. The tendentious modifier “complementary” is invoked by practitioners of medical quackery precisely because their idées fixes don’t go through a comparable empirical process of double-blind, placebo-controlled study. What matters, for homeopaths, reflexologists et al, is what the patient “feels”.

    The King is fated always to be compared to his mother in discharging regal duties. Yet the late Queen really did show how it should be done. In the pandemic, she encouraged — by example, not hectoring — her people, especially her generation, to ignore a blizzard of disinformation and get vaccinated against Covid. If King Charles wishes to similarly serve public health, he should dismiss Dr Dixon.

    Letter to the Editor of The Times 11.12.23: ‘Regal medicine’.

    “Sir, Once again it is being suggested, with the King’s appointment of a homeopathy advocate to the royal medical household, that homeopathy is “complementary” to standard medicines. As a pharmacist who qualified in 1951, I have seen the development of pharmacology. Many functions in the body are activated or controlled by chemicals. Pharmacology has studied these chemicals and drugs are devised to enhance, copy or diminish their activity. Homeopathy cannot claim it works in the same way because there are no chemicals remaining in their highly diluted forms. How can they be complementary? Both systems cannot be correct. I suggest “contradictory” would be a better term.
    Peter Halford. Leicester.”

    14.12.23: ‘Tasty homeopathy’:

    “Sir, Oliver Kamm opines that the applying the modifier “complementary” to medicine and particularly to the practice of homeopathy “is tendentious and invoked by the promoters of medical quackery” (Thunderer, Dec 12). In a letter in the same edition, Peter Halford suggests that “contradictory” would be a better term.

    May I suggest “condimentary”? Practices or products that add flavour to the basic therapy but which do not have any substantial effect other than to enhance placebo responses.
    Dr Richard Rawlins FRCS
    Ret’d consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Kingswear, Devon.”

    Charles the Condimentary needn’t trouble – I’m off to the Tower now…

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