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Journal of Internal Medicine - Commentary | 25.09.17

 

Assessing and regulating homeopathic products

R. Fears, G. Griffin, D. Larhammar, V. ter Meulen & J. W. M. van der Meer

doi: 10.1111/joim.12676

Homeopathy is a system of alternative medicine based on ‘like cures like’ whereby a substance that causes a symptom is used to treat the same symptom in illness. A process of serial dilution and shaking (succussion) is alleged to increase potency, and some practitioners claim that homeopathy works by causing the body to heal itself.

Many scientists and physicians are very critical of the health claims made for homeopathic products. Nonetheless, recent usage data from social surveys show that in some European countries (e.g. Austria, France and Germany), more than 10% of the population used homeopathy in the previous 12 months. Based on market analysis, it is anticipated that sales worldwide will grow substantially in the next decade.

The European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) recently established a working group including the present authors and others to prepare a statement, building on work by many in the scientific and medical communities, to reinforce criticism of the health and scientific claims made for homeopathic products.

EASAC initiated this project because of the increasing discussion in some EU member states and within their academies about issues associated with homeopathy, including its use and labelling, within a broader international context of growing interest in similar issues.

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