Open letter of the INH and the science advice of the GWUP to the “Lecture Series Homeopathy” of the Munich University

Picture shows an empty lecture hall as a symbol of the emptiness of the homeopathic teaching building.
Empty lecutre hall – because of empty teaching building of homeopathy?

In a current publication, the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich is promoting a series of events (lecture series) in the winter semester 2016/17 on the subject of “Homeopathy: From Theory to Practice – With Practical Examples and Patient Presentations”. As a glance at the announcement shows, this is a series of lectures which aims to introduce the “homeopathic approach” to a wide variety of clinical pictures.

We think it would be wrong to help the homeopathic method to gain academic recognition through such an event, after it should have been considered obsolete long ago:

1939: The establishment in 1928 of a homeopathic chair at the Medical Clinic II of the University of Berlin, enforced by August Bier, a surgeon of excellent reputation and advocate of homeopathy, is revoked – explicitly because of “unsuccessfullness”.
1958: The same university defends itself with clear words against the attempt to revive this chair.
1992: In a clear statement, the medical faculty of the University of Marburg rejects any relevance of homeopathy for the scientific community and opposes ministerial efforts to include homeopathy in teaching.

Against this background, it is more than strange that the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Munich offers a platform to the lobbyists from the German Central Association of Homeopathic Physicians, especially as this has obviously little or nothing to do with teaching and research, the basic tasks of every university. Unfortunately. Because we are quite convinced that correctly understood teaching could, and even should, find its place at a university, also with regard to homeopathy.
Teaching! For homeopathy, this would mean teaching it in a medical-historical context, discussing its contradictions and incompatibilities with laws of nature, and presenting and discussing the lack of proof of its effects and the so-called basic research on homeopathy. This would be welcome in view of the fact that future physicians would then start their professional life with solid knowledge and not with a bundle of unquestioned prejudices about the topic.

However, none of this is to be found in the LMU’s announcement. Instead, the lecture series consists of a sequence of events in which “homeopathic approaches” are presented for a wide variety of clinical pictures. These range from simple self-limiting illnesses such as sinusitis to the most severe diseases, even in the palliative medical field. The announced introductory lecture “History and Philosophy of Medicine: Samuel Hahnemann’s Foundations of a Rational Medicine” will probably not be intended as a method-critical introduction to the following lectures. Thus the announced “Practical Examples and Patient Presentations” are not a positive feature, but once again offer the opportunity to present homeopathy as “experiential medicine”.

We think:

This uncritical treatment of homeopathy has no place in a scientific faculty.
It is incompatible with the mission of research and teaching to give a superficial, advertising presentation of a method that is classified by the overwhelming majority of the worldwide research community as specifically medically ineffective.
At best, homeopathy should be adressed scientifically in the sense of discussing and falsifying its assumptions.
The current procedure does not correspond to the responsibility of the university towards students and patients.

Signatories:

For the INH

Dr Norbert Aust
Udo Endruscheit (Author)
Prof. em. Dr. Edzard Ernst
Dr. Natalie Grams
Amardeo Sarma
Prof. Dr. Norbert Schmacke

For the Science Council of the GWUP

Prof. Dr. Michael Bach
Prof. Dr. Dr. Ulrich Berger
Lydia Benecke
Prof. Dr. Peter Brugger
Prof. em. Dr. Edzard Ernst
Prof. Dr. Dittmar Graf
Dr. Natalie Grams
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hell
Prof. Dr. Dieter B. Herrmann
Prof. Dr. Johannes Köbberling
Prof. Dr. Walter Krämer
Prof. Dr. Martin Lambeck
Dr. Rainer Rosenzweig
Prof. Dr. Dr. Gerhard Vollmer
Dr. Barbro Walker
Dr. Christian Weymayr
Dr. habil. Rainer Wolf

Update, May 19, 2019:

In the winter semester 2018/19 and 2019/20 the “lecture series” on homeopathy did not take place anymore.

The Haunersche Kinderspital in Munich, initiator and organizer of these events, has meanwhile distanced itself from homeopathy as a therapeutic option.

Further current statements:

Blog post by Edzard Ernst (in English) here

Critical comment by science journalist Werner Bartens in the Südeutsche Zeitung here

Interesting older article on homeopathy at the LMU also in the Laborjournal here

Picture of Bonnie Taylor on Pixabay

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