Homeopathy is a highly personalized therapeutic medical system based on the theory that disease can be addressed via use of the substance which produces similar symptoms to the disease. Homeopathy is a hotly debated but often used intervention which can significantly improve quality of life(1;2;3) utilizing substances sourced from nature i.e., minerals, and plants, which have passed through the pharmaceutical procedure of potentization(4). Public health regulation framing the practice and use of homeopathy in New Zealand is legally supported by The Medicines Act (1981), and in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Act (1989).
Until recently homeopathic medicines were thought, by some, to be inactive being beyond Avogadro's number (<1023), but biological activity and properties of the initial source material are retained(5;6;7), hormetic activation has been observed(8), and the distinct promotion of B-cell activity has been shown in infection control(9;10), with Th1 promotion by homeopathic medicine thought to enable more efficient inflammatory response(11;12). Anti-pathogenic effect against Escherichia coli (E. coli) has been observed(13).
The popularity of homeopathy in New Zealand is contrary to its controversy(14), the placebo critique can be countered by paediatric and veterinary meta-analysis(15;16) and anecdotal observations(17). Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is prevalent and considered effective with 80% of GP’s referring to CAM practitioners(18), 25% of GP’s practicing CAM(18;19), and the majority of midwives recommending homeopathy(17;20). Many healthcare professionals regard CAM as supportive of conventional therapy, and are aware of the cultural importance of holistic health & wellbeing services but, as elsewhere, increased investment in CAM research, education, and regulation is required(18).
Meanwhile in Australia... where almost eleven million people access CAM*(21) just 0.14% of the national medical research budget was allocated to CAM research in 2012(22) despite some of the highest rates of CAM utilization in the developed world(23).
The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Information Paper on homeopathy published in 2015 (commonly referred to as the Australian Review) concluded that there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective. But in 2019, after untold damage to homeopathy worldwide, their CEO stated that 'contrary to some claims the review did not conclude that homeopathy was ineffective'(24).
Containing numerous instances of serious procedural and scientific misconduct, the Australian Review was the NHMRC’s second attempt... Interestingly, the first Review of 2012 which found encouraging evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathy in five medical conditions remained undisclosed until its existence was uncovered in 2019, when the resultant and sustained international outcry ensured its release(25).
The NHMRC Australian Review stakeholder complaint(26) lodged over four years ago, remains before the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
1. Witt CM, Lüdtke R, Mengler N, Willich SN. 2008. How healthy are chronically ill patients after eight years of homeopathic treatment?--Results from a long term observational study. BMC Public Health [online]. Dec 17;8:413. Available from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2630323/
2. Bell IR, Lewis DA 2nd, Brooks AJ, Schwartz GE, Lewis SE, Walsh BT, Baldwin CM. 2004. Improved clinical status in fibromyalgia patients treated with individualized homeopathic remedies versus placebo. Rheumatology (Oxford) [online]. May;43(5):577-82. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14734789/
3. Frass M, Lechleitner P, Gründling C, Pirker C, Grasmuk-Siegl E, Domayer J, Hochmair M, Gaertner K, Duscheck C, Muchitsch I, Marosi C, Schumacher M, Zöchbauer-Müller S, Manchanda RK, Schrott A, Burghuber O. 2020. Homeopathic Treatment as an Add-On Therapy May Improve QOL and Prolong Survival in Patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: A Prospective, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind, Three-Arm, Multicenter Study. Oncologist [online]. Dec;25(12):e1930-e1955. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33010094/
4. Văcăraș V, Nistor C, Rahovan I, Văcăraş C, Vithoulkas G. 2020. Myasthenia gravis therapy with individualized homeopathy: A case report. Clinical Case Reports [online]. Jul 29;8(12):2464-2468. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33363760/
5. Chikramane PS, Suresh AK, Bellare JR, Kane SG. 2010. Extreme homeopathic dilutions retain starting materials: A nanoparticulate perspective. Homeopathy [online]. Oct;99(4):231-42. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20970092/
6. Tournier, A. Roberts, R. 2015. Chemical dyes can detect presence of homeopathic high dilutions. Homeopathy Research Institute [online]. 30; 1-2. Available from: https://www.hri-research.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/HRI_ResearchArticle_30_TournierRoberts_2015_SolvatochromicDyes1.pdf.
7. Kalliantas D, Kallianta M, Kordatos K, Karagianni CS. 2021. Micro-nano particulate compositions of Hypericum perforatum L in ultra high diluted succussed solution medicinal products. Heliyon [online]. Apr 19;7(4):e06604. Available from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2405844021007076
8. Chikramane PS, Suresh AK, Kane SG, Bellare JR. 2017. Metal nanoparticle induced hormetic activation: a novel mechanism of homeopathic medicines. Homeopathy [online]. Aug;106(3):135-144. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28844286/
9. Rodrigues de Santana F, de Paula Coelho C, Cardoso TN, Perez Hurtado EC, Roberti Benites N, Dalastra Laurenti M, Villano Bonamin L. 2014. Modulation of inflammation response to murine cutaneous Leishmaniasis by homeopathic medicines: Antimonium crudum 30cH. Homeopathy [online]. Oct;103(4):264-74. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25439043/
10. de Santana FR, Dalboni LC, Nascimento KF, Konno FT, Alvares-Saraiva AM, Correia MSF, Bomfim MDC, Casarin RCV, Perez EC, Lallo MA, Peres GB, Laurenti MD, Benites NR, Buchi DF, Bonamin LV. 2017. High dilutions of antimony modulate cytokines production and macrophage - Leishmania (L.) amazonensis interaction in vitro. Cytokine [online]. Apr;92:33-47. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28092793/
11. Cajueiro APB, Goma EP, Dos Santos HAM, Almeida Rodrigues I, Toma HK, Araújo SM, Bonamin LV, Gomes NBN, Castelo-Branco MTL, de Souza Dias EP, Dos Santos Pyrrho A, Holandino C. 2017. Homeopathic medicines cause Th1 predominance and induce spleen and megakaryocytes changes in BALB/c mice infected with Leishmania infantum. Cytokine [online]. Jul;95:97-101. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28254560/
12. Mahesh S, Kozymenko T, Kolomiiets N, Vithoulkas G. 2020 (b). Antimonium crudum in pediatric skin conditions: A classical homeopathic case series. Clinical Case Reports [online]. 16;9(2):818-824. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33598251/
13. Buchheim-Schmidt S, Peters U, Duysburgh C, Van den Abbeele P, Marzorati M, Keller T, Martin D, Klement P, Baumgartner S. 2021. In vitro evaluation of the anti-pathogenic activity of Okoubaka aubrevillei on the human gastrointestinal tract. Zeitschrift fur Gastroenterologie [online]. May;59(5):423-437. English. Available from https://europepmc.org/article/med/33979845
14. Cottingham P, Adams J, Vempati R, Dunn J, Sibbritt D. 2017. The characteristics, experiences and perceptions of homeopaths in New Zealand: results from a national survey of practitioners. Homeopathy [online]. Feb;106(1):11-17. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28325218/
15. Jacobs J, Jonas WB, Jiménez-Pérez M, Crothers D. 2003. Homeopathy for childhood diarrhea: combined results and meta-analysis from three randomized, controlled clinical trials. Paediatric Infectious Diseases Journal [online].
Mar;22(3):229-34. Available from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12634583/
16. Mathie RT, Clausen J. 2015. Veterinary homeopathy: meta-analysis of randomised placebo-controlled trials. Homeopathy [online]. Jan;104(1):3-8. Epub 2014 Dec 17. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25576265/
17. Dew K, Clark-Grill M. (2022) Routes into the homeopathic profession: Witnessing, gender and subaltern therapeutics. Sociology of Health and Illness [online]. Jan;44(1):99-112. Epub 2021 Nov 24. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/1467-9566.13401
18. Liu, L., Tang, Y., Baxter, G. D., Yin, H., & Tumilty, S. (2021). Complementary and alternative medicine - practice, attitudes, and knowledge among healthcare professionals in New Zealand: an integrative review. BMC complementary medicine and therapies [online]. 21(1), 63. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7882070/
19. Upsdell M, Jaye C. 2011. Engaging with complementary and alternative medicine in general practice. Journal of Primary Health Care [online]. Mar 1;3(1):29-34. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21359258/
20. Harding, D. Foureur, M. 2009. New Zealand and Canadian midwives’ use of complementary medicine. Journal of the New Zealand College of Midwives 40, 7-12. Auckland, New Zealand.
21. Steel, A., McIntyre, E., Harnett, J., Foley, H., Adams, J., Sibbritt, D., Wardle, J., & Frawley, J. 2018. Complementary medicine use in the Australian population: Results of a nationally-representative cross-sectional survey. Scientific reports [online]. 8 (1), 17325. Available from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6251890/
22. Australian Homeopathic Association. 2017. The National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and Research Integrity. Hobart [online]. Available from http://www.nhmrchomeopathy.com/
23. Andrews G, Adams J, Segrott J, Lui C. 2012. The Profile of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Users and Reasons for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use. In: Adams J, Andrews G, Barnes J, Magin P, Broom A, editors. Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Medicine: An International Reader. London: Palgrave Macmillan; 2012. Available from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259742121_The_profile_of_complementary_and_alternative_medicine_users_and_reasons_for_complementary_and_alternative_mediicne_use
25. Homeopathy Research Institute. 2021. The Australian Report. Kensington, London [online]. Available from https://www.hri-research.org/resources/homeopathy-the-debate/the-australian-report-on-homeopathy
26. Australian Homeopathic Association. 2017. Executive Summary - Commonwealth Ombudsman Complaint. Hobart [online]. Available from http://www.nhmrchomeopathy.com/ombudsman-exec-summary.html
* Steel et al. (2018) found prevalence of any CM use to be 63.1%. The 2016 Australian population was 23.4 million, with 17.3 million (74.2%) aged over 20 years (27).
27. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2020. 2016 Census Quickstats. Canberra [online]. Available from: https://quickstats.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2016/quickstat/UCL513003