Homeopathy is 'rubbish' and shouldn't be available on the NHS, says Britain's top doctor
NHS spends 4m a year on homeopathy treatmentsAlternative therapy involves treating 'like with like', using very diluted substancesDame Sally and the BMA say it is due to placebo effectDefenders say homeopathy has passed more clinical trials than it had failedHealth Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Prince Charles have both endorsed treatment
17:30 GMT, 23 January 2013
01:59 GMT, 24 January 2013
Homeopathy was condemned as ‘rubbish’ by Britain’s chief medical officer yesterday, who admitted she is ‘perpetually surprised’ it is available on the NHS.
Professor Dame Sally Davies also described homeopaths as ‘peddlers’ and spoke of her concern that they can prescribe pills and potions to treat malaria and other illnesses.
Giving evidence to an influential committee of MPs, Dame Sally said that homeopathy doesn’t work past the placebo effect.
Homeopathy is based on the principle that 'like cures like', using very diluted substances. Scientists say they are unlikely to contain any of the original substance
In other words, any benefits patients
perceive are simply caused by them receiving attention and simply
expecting to feel better.
Her outspoken views are in conflict
with the policy of the Health Service, which spends around 4million a
year on funding homeopathic hospitals and on prescriptions and
Homeopathy, which has the backing of
Prince Charles, claims to prevent and treat diseases using diluted forms
of plants, herbs and minerals.
It is based on the principle that an illness can be treated by substances that produce similar symptoms.
Outspoken medic Professor Dame Sally Davies, left, has described homeopathy as 'rubbish' despite the fact it has been endorsed by high profile figures such as Prince Charles, right
For example, it is claimed onions, which make eyes itchy and tearful, can be used to relieve the symptoms of hay fever.
Other treatments include anti-malaria
tablets made from African swamp water, rotting plants and mosquito eggs
and larvae. But scientists argue the ‘cures’ are so diluted they are
unlikely to contain any of the original substance.
Asked about her views on homeopathy
by the Commons science and technology committee, Dame Sally – a
consultant haematologist, or specialist in blood diseases, at the
Central Middlesex Hospital from 1985 until 2011 – said: ‘I’m very
concerned when homeopathic practitioners try to peddle this way of life
to prevent malaria or other infectious diseases.’
She added: ‘I am perpetually
surprised that homeopathy is available on the NHS.’ Dame Sally concluded
by saying homeopathy ‘is rubbish’. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has
In 2007, while shadow minister for the disabled, he signed an early day motion backing its use on the NHS.
Fifteen per cent of Britons have used homeopathy at some point in their lives.
The exact amount of NHS spending on
the discipline is unclear but various homeopathic associations say it is
as high as 4million a year.
The Department of Health said it is up to local NHS organisations to decide whether to fund it.