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Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery

One more reason homeopathy is not “harmless”

From The Daily Mail:

British holidaymakers are putting their lives at risk by relying on homeopathy to protect them against malaria, doctors have warned.

The medical experts condemned the practice of prescribing pills and potions made from tree bark, swamp water and rotting plants as ‘outrageous quackery’ and ‘dangerous nonsense’.

Their warning follows an undercover investigation which found that alternative medicine clinics readily sell travellers homeopathic protection against malaria, despite clear Government advice that there is no evidence such treatments work.

It also comes after a study published in the Lancet suggested that the benefits of homeopathy are all in the imagination, with alternative remedies performing no better than dummy pills in clinical trials.

Homeopathy, which has won the backing of Prince Charles, claims to prevent diseases such as malaria by using dilute forms of herbs and minerals that in higher concentrations could produce the symptoms of the condition.

In the investigation, scientists and researchers who pretended to be about to embark an African holiday, contacted a variety of homeopaths around the country. These include one recommended by high street pharmacist Superdrug.

Worryingly, all of the homeopaths recommended they take alternative remedies over conventional anti-malaria pills.

Among the remedies, which ranged in price from £3.75 to £75, were Malaria officinalis (CORR) tablets. Also known as Malaria nosode, they are made from African swamp water, rotting plants and mosquito eggs and larvae.

The homeopaths also recommended China officinalis or China sulph, which is made from tree bark which contains quinine, and Natrum Mur – or salt tablets.

One practitioner said the homeopathic medicines fill a ‘malaria-shaped hole’ in the body that would usually be targeted by mosquitos.

A “malaria-shaped hole”? Here’s how a homeopathic pharmacy justifies this quackery:

Helios Homeopathic Pharmacy said that many travellers turn to homeopathy because they are concerned about the side-effects of traditional drugs.

The spokesman added: ‘We give advice on traditional homeopathic remedies which have been used by people for many decades in their attempt to avoid conventional treatment for malaria.

‘We would also advise customers to take further preventative steps such as using a reliable insect repellant and wearing suitable clothing.’

Yeah, the side effects of conventional anti-malaria drugs are much worse than actually getting malaria. Not.

Notice the same old appeal to popularity and common practice without a bit of evidence that homeopathy can help to prevent malaria. And because people believe in homeopathy, they leave themselves wide open to be infected with malaria.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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