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Homeopathy: Ben Goldacre, Hans Schrauder and… The Buzzer

The recent damning conclusions from the House of Commons Evidence Check on homeopathy, calling for NHS funding for the prescribing of homeopathic remedies to be stopped, has thrown homeopathy into the news again. And, of course, the media spotlight carries with it the utterly idiotic approach of bringing “both sides” of the argument as though, in every argument, the two sides have equal intellectual weight supporting them.

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Duchy originals herbal tinctures. Own goal.

Being a passive supporter of the British monarchy (let me clarify: in principle I’m not particularly in favour of the system but in the UK at least it appears to work well and I find the current situation much more preferable than some of the alternatives) I allow myself a little grin when Prince Charles does something good, like raising awareness of environmental issues and promoting the arts in underprivileged communities. In fact, I’ve even been on the receiving end: a couple of years ago, my band received a grant to support the recording and release of our first album.

However, the Prince’s stance on “integrated” (aka complementary or alternative) healthcare is a particularly nasty case of foot-in-mouth disease which leaves me banging my head on the wall in frustration. The sale of herbal tinctures on the Duchy Originals website and in several retail stores is an example of such a clanger-drop moment. The story has been covered in the media, and blogged here (in a blog that is somewhat less sympathetic to the Prince than my own).

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The Brazilian National Health Surveillance Agency has been suckered by dodgy statistics

This post has been updated with an addendum.

I didn’t dream it after all.

Anvisa (Agência Nacional de Vigilância Sanitária, or the National Health Surveillance Agency), have approved the use of a homeopathic medicine to treat sufferers of dengue fever in Brazil. So says this story from Estadao (rough translation here), as well as this earlier news bulletin from Paraguayan agency La Nacion (rough translation here). The latter report claims that a study has shown the remedy to “reduce the number of cases of dengue by 80%”. The scientist quoted in the report is a chap by the name of Renan Marino.

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Did I dream this?

A couple of nights ago, I heard a brief mention on a BBC World Service news bulletin that the Brazilian government had approved the use of homeopathic medicine for treating Dengue fever. It made me sit bolt upright in bed in disbelief.

Unfortunately, that was the extent of the story. Out of the […]

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