Homeopaths offer cures for whooping cough

With many parts of Australia in the grips of a whooping cough epidemic, homeopaths are making claims they can cure or treat the illness. An article from Adelaide Now describes homeopathic remedies including belladonna and phosphorus are being recommended for whooping cough.

The article incorrectly describes homeopathic remedies as “herbal” which is a common misconception, given that homeopathy is diluted to such an extent that there is little chance that any active ingredient remains. Whilst homeopathic remedies often begin with a herbal concentrate, by the time the final remedy is prepared, they may have been diluted 10, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000 times. An example of this level of dilution is the preparation known as “12C”, a dilution whereby there is a 60% chance that one molecule of the original substance remains. Another common dilution is 30C, which means the original substance has been diluted 10^60 times, leaving behind only the water or diluent used in the preparation.

Homeopathy has come under fire of late especially during the Penelope Dingle inquest in Western Australia. Mrs Dingle died an excruiciating death from colon cancer after she shunned conventional therapies and relied on herbs and homeopathy. Although the homeopath who treated Mrs Dingle, Francine Scrayen, is a member of the Australian Homeopathic Association and has breached their code of conduct it is not known if she will be reprimanded.

The National President of the Australian Homeopathic Association Michelle Hookham said: “We do have codes of conduct and we are continually updating members and advising them of legal aspects.”

“But at the end of the day it’s up to practitioners to ensure they keep up to date and abide by these codes of conduct,” she said.

In NSW, claims to treat or cure terminal illnesses breach the code of conduct for unregistered practitioners and practitioners can be prosecuted by the Health Care Complaints Commission. There is no scientific evidence that homeopathy is effective at treating any illness.

A recent parliamentary inquiry in the UK examining the evidence for homeopathy concluded that the UK National Health Service should cease funding homeopathy, no further clinical trials should be conducted, evidence shows homeopathy doesn’t work, explanations for why homeopathy works are “scientifically implausible, and the committee viewed homeopathy as placebo.