Medical experts in Australia have concluded that an alternative form of medicine called homeopathy doesn't have enough evidence to support its effectiveness.
The idea behind homeopathy is that substances that can make a healthy person sick can also, in some cases, treat a person who is ill. For example, if a healthy person gets burning or watery eyes from cutting an onion, the idea is that a person with a cold who has those same symptoms could benefit from a very tiny dose of an onion remedy.
But in a review of 225 studies on homeopathy, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in Australia concluded that there's no high-quality scientific evidence to support the use of the practice. "Although some studies did report that homeopathy was effective, the quality of those studies was assessed as being small and/or of poor quality," the NHMRC said in a statement. "These studies had either too few participants, poor design, poor conduct and or reporting to allow reliable conclusions to be drawn on the effectiveness of homeopathy."
In the United States, past data has suggested that millions of American adults and thousands of children use homeopathy. The National Institutes of Health in U.S. says "there is little evidence to support homeopathy as an effective treatment for any specific condition."
The NHMRC concluded in its report that Australians should not use homeopathy as a substitute for other proven and effective treatments.
"People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness," said NHMRC CEO Warwick Anderson in a statement. "People who are considering whether to use homeopathy should first get advice from a registered health practitioner and in the meanwhile keep taking any prescribed treatments."