Friday, August 26, 2005

Advantage: Orac

I know someone who's been blogging about this for quite some time:

The clinical benefits attributed to homeopathic treatment are merely placebo effects, according to the authors of a report in The Lancet medical journal.

Homeopathy is based on the notion that "like cures like," and treatment involves giving a patient small amounts of drugs that, in larger quantities, cause symptoms like those suffered by the patient. It also involves a great deal of interaction between the practitioner and the patient.

In the current article, Dr. Matthias Egger, from the University of Berne in Switzerland, and associates searched 19 electronic databases covering the period from 1995 to 2003 to identify scientific trials of homeopathy, and matched them with trials in conventional medicine.

The team identified 110 trials each of homeopathy and conventional medicine, or allopathy. They used sophisticated statistical analysis to score the results of the studies, with those below 1.0 indicating a beneficial effect of treatment versus inactive placebo.

Including the largest trials, which were considered the most reliable, the overall scores were 0.96 for homeopathy and 0.67 for conventional medicine.

Egger and his colleagues say the results provide "no convincing evidence that homeopathy was superior to placebo, whereas for conventional medicine an important effect remained."

The Lancet editors weigh in on this topic, saying, "Surely the time has passed for selective analyses, biased reports, or further investment in research to perpetuate the homeopathy versus allopathy debate."

They add: "Now doctors need to be bold and honest with their patients about homeopathy's lack of benefit, and with themselves about the failings of modern medicine to address patients' needs for personalized care."

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