When it comes to homeopathy, less really is more


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By Beth Kennedy

19 May 2018

As you probably know by now, I spend a lot of my time in this column defending the GP corner/taking gratuitous swipes at pharmacy, depending on your viewpoint. There are occasions, though, when even I find it hard to justify the actions of my GP colleagues.

This happens rarely – so rarely that, if such events were a molecule in a bottle of water, that molecule would be so diluted that it becomes merely an echo of its former self. Which might sound poetic, but certainly isn’t scientific.

And that’s why I hate homeopathy. The logic behind it is risible, its practice indefensible and its loose association with general practice embarrassing. So imagine my delight when recent research in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine revealed a link between practices prescribing homeopathy and general low prescribing quality in that practice across a number of measures.

Now, this is just an association. For example, it might be that homeopathic doctors are so busy writing prescriptions for tincture of Wolf’s Bane that they don’t really have time to focus on the conventional stuff. So it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re idiots. It just probably does.

While you’re pondering this, though, I wonder if you should also ponder your own position. Let’s ignore that handful of ‘homeopathic pharmacies’ in existence as I’ll assume they’re unrepresentative outliers. But I’m guessing that many, or maybe most, of you stock OTC homeopathic remedies.

How do you justify this? Harmless placebo? Commercial imperative? Just obeying orders? Whatever. It raises that old tension doesn’t it? Specifically, how you reconcile the need to be taken seriously as a self-respecting health professional with the tendency to flog snake oil.

If it’s within your power, how about simply clearing your shelves of homeopathic junk? Replace it with whatever else you like – or even leave those shelves empty. Less is more, remember. Especially with homeopathy.

 

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