I am an ENT specialist and I’m pracising in my own surgery in Upper Bavaria. My motivation as a doctor is to offer honest medicine for all patients. Part of this honesty is telling the patient what helps and what does not help. As tempting as the ideas about homeopathy may sound, I experience every day in practice that globules do not help with illnesses and do not bring any improvement.
I came into contact with the Homeopathy Information Network in January 2017 when I published on Twitter a homeopathic mistreatment that had particularly shocked me. A four-year-old girl was given globules to treat a purulent middle ear infection. Not to swallow, but to the ear canal on the inflamed eardrum. I must admit, I almost got into a froth thereby. It is important to me to take the patients seeking help seriously and to listen to them.
Homeopathy is ought to work? Even without active ingredients is that possible? This was finally scientifically proven, said the acquaintance. Even if that wasn’t the case with me, it worked for her after all, she said. That made me curious how this proof was supposed to have been made. How can something be proven that is physically impossible? What’s erroneous – the physics or the evidence? How do you even know what did work?
This was the starting point of an intensive dealing with homeopathy as an engineer, its basics and the supposed proofs of effects. The results of my research were a book and a blog, in which I try to show in a generally understandable way how hardly realiable the evidence is. It is based on errors in the conduct of the study, in the evaluation of the measurement data or simply on a lack of logic or an unclear presentation.
One cannot avoid to deal with the teaching of the method and its environment. One notices the high standards with which homeopathy is represented, but which methods are used to avoid having to prove this. Health insurance funds and universities, medical chambers and politicians promote dissemination instead of focusing on scientifically based medicine and resolutely taking up undesirable developments there. Because I do not consider this to be a positive development, I advocate informing about homeopathy.
It should be seen as what it is: a long outdated doctrine of salvation, the foundations of which do not endure in the light of modern sciences and which should at best emerge as a historical event in the history of medicine at universities. I’m also blogging under “Beweisaufnahme in Sachen Homöopathie” (“Taking on evidence in homeopathy” several articles available in English).
As a doctor, former classical homeopath and mother of three, I know many views on homeopathy – those of followers and critics alike. I completed my training as a homeopath at various schools of homeopathy. I have the additional title “Homoeopathy” of the Medical Association and have had a successful homeopathic practice in Heidelberg.
In order to present the successes I had experienced, I originally wanted to write a book that would finally convince all critics and doubters of homeopathy. But through the comprehensive research I have been convinced by the arguments against homeopathy. Medicine and science have developed so radically since Hahnemann’s time that his theses can certainly be regarded as refuted today. Unfortunately, this knowledge has not yet arrived in the middle of our society or in medicine.
Here in the Homeopathy Information Network, I am committed to ensuring that more and more patients can learn how the successes of homeopathy (which I have also experienced) can be explained and why the 200-year-old healing method can no longer be part of medicine. I write a column for the major German science magazine “Spektrum der Wissenschaft” and as a freelance author for various (specialist) newspapers. I am also a communications manager at GWUP and work for the German Consumer Association. You can find my own homepage here.
In accordance to the Marburg Declaration *), we wrote the Freiburg Declaration on Homeopathy at our INH foundation meeting. It presents our position focused and can be co-signed here.
Homeopathy is neither naturopathy nor medicine
Despite the political support and the silence of those who should know better, homeopathy is and remains a procedure that clearly contradicts sound scientific foundations. The members and promoters of the “Information Network Homeopathy” see homeopathy as a persistent doctrine that is neither naturopathy nor medicine. Doctors, pharmacists, veterinarians, biologists, natural scientists and other committed critics of homeopathy have come together in the network, which unites the goal of bringing this often veiled fact more clearly into the consciousness of society.
No special status for homeopathy
In more than 200 years of its existence, homeopathy has not managed to prove its specific effectiveness according to objective criteria. Rather, it survives only because it has a special status in the German health system, which the experts of the network do not believe it deserves. While pharmaceutical drugs have to prove their effectiveness according to objective criteria, homeopathy is exempt from this. We oppose such a two-tier system in medicine.
Homeopathy has also failed to demonstrate a plausible mechanism of action. Instead, its representatives give the impression that there are still uncertainties needed to be clarified. We vehemently contradict this. Homeopathy is not an unconventional method that requires further scientific examination. Its foundation consists of long-disproved theses such as the “rule of similarity”, the “vital force” or the “potentiation by dilution”.
Self-deception of patient and therapist
We don’t deny any therapeutic effects that can be achieved within the framework of homeopathic treatment. However, these have nothing to do with the specifically administered homeopathic remedy. Rather, the presumed and supposedly experienced effectiveness of homeopathic preparations is based on the suggestion and autosuggestion of patients and therapists. The mechanisms of such (self-)deceptions are manifold, but well known and researched. Improvements in well-being caused by contextual effects cannot and must not be causally attributed to the homeopathic remedy. We assume that many homeopathic physicians and alternative practitioners are not aware of the existence and variety of such mechanisms and act with the best of intentions. However, this does not change the fact that the conclusions they draw are wrong and can, therefore, be harmful.
Medicine and Science
We are by no means claiming that the scientific method we advocate can currently recognize and explain everything. But it enables us to explain that homeopathy cannot explain itself. And it is the best way we have to distinguish effective treatments from ineffective ones. A belief in the promise of salvation that is firmly anchored in the population, which is further nourished by interested parties, politics, and journalism, can never be a guideline for action in medicine.
Our aim of this declaration
The goals of our criticism are neither the patient seeking healing nor the individual homeopathically working therapist, but the established doctrine and the institutions of the health care system, which could recognize the absurdity of homeopathy long ago, but nevertheless do not intervene. We call upon the actors of the scientifically based health care system to finally turn away from homeopathy and other pseudo-medical procedures and return to what should be taken for granted: Scientifically validated, fair and generally comprehensible rules for high-quality medicine, geared to the well-being of patients.
Freiburg, February 2016
Dr.-Ing. Norbert Aust, Initiator Information Network Homeopathy Dr. med. Natalie Grams, Head of Information Network Homeopathy Amardeo Sarma, GWUP Chairman and Fellow of CSI (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry)
Prof. Dr. Edzard Ernst, University of Exeter, UK Prof. Dr. Rudolf Happle, author of the Marburg Declaration on Homeopathy Professor Dr. Wolfgang Hell, chairman of the science board of the GWUP Prof. Norbert Schmacke, Institute for Public Health and Nursing Research, University of Bremen Dr. rer. nat. Christian Weymayr, freelance medical journalist
Here is an online petition where you can co-sign if you agree with our statement: Sign now!
Status: 2.153 signatories (26.06.2019)
*) Given 1992 by the medical faculty of the University of Marburg, Germany, against the attempt to make homeopathy compulsory in medical curricula