Homeopathy – press release from the NZIC

By Michael Edmonds 08/02/2011

While it is good to see individual scientists educating the public about pseudosciences such as homeopathy, it is even better when professional organisations take a firm position against pseudoscience.

The New Zealand Institute of Chemistry, which represents about 1000 members has just produced the following press release about homeopathy to coincide with the International Year of Chemistry and the 10:23 campaign.

Press Release regarding Homeopathy — New Zealand Institute of Chemistry

2011 is the International Year of Chemistry and the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry (NZIC) will be involved in a series of activities to educate New Zealanders about, and entertain New Zealanders with, chemistry. This will include providing the media with information on chemistry-related issues. This press release covers the NZIC’s view on homeopathy.

The NZIC is aware that there is some confusion by the public over homeopathic remedies and would like to help clarify several points. Firstly, herbal medicines (many of which do actually work) are not the same as homeopathic remedies. The main feature of homeopathic remedies is that they have been enormously diluted, often to the point where no active ingredient can remain. Homeopathic products are based on the belief that repeated dilution of homeopathic solutions makes the solutions more powerful. A dilution of 1 in 100 is termed ‘C’, and it can be shown that a 14C solution (14 successive dilutions of 1 in 100) contains none of the water molecules that were in the original solution. Given that some homeopathic solutions range from 30C to 200C, it is certain that none of the original ‘active’ ingredient remains in such solutions. Furthermore, homeopaths believe that such remedies are activated (or ‘potentised’) by simply shaking them, and that they ‘work’ because the water in the diluted solution retains a memory of the original ‘active’ ingredient. The NZIC considers these to be highly implausible ideas, which defy basic principles of chemistry, and common sense. Moreover, clinical investigations have shown that homeopathic remedies work no better than placebos.

While most homeopathic remedies are, in essence, harmless solutions containing only water, the NZIC would point out that when homeopathic remedies are used to replace conventional and effective medicines there is the potential for harm. Deaths and serious illness from cholera, meningitis and even eczema have occurred when homeopathic products have been used to treat these conditions. It should be stressed that there is no such thing as ‘alternative’ medicine. There is only medicine.

The New Zealand Institute of Chemistry (NZIC) has around 1000 members, including university academics, researchers, teachers, managers and other professionals with a background in chemistry. 


0 Responses to “Homeopathy – press release from the NZIC”

  • After recently inquiring about private health insurance, I discovered that homeopathic treatments are funded in some instances!

  • More fool the insurer, as they are paying for tap water &/or sugar pills, which makes it a rather expensive placebo.

  • More fool the insured with those that offer it as their fees will be going towards subsidizing those that claim on it.

    Sam, do you have a list of those that support alt-med and which woo is supported by which providers?

  • FWIW, that’s an issue I have been meaning to chase up on for quite a while. It’s not just limited to homeopathy, either.

  • No indeed. Acupuncture will be there, & quite probably things like reiki & reflexology as well. You do have to wonder why the insurers add these things to the list of what they’ll pay for – don’t they do their homework first?

  • Nicely written press release. Hopefully it reaches the intended recipients and doesn’t end up being “preaching to the choir”…

    “It should be stressed that there is no such thing as ‘alternative’ medicine. There is only medicine.”

    Indeed. However, there is more within the category of “medicine” than some perspectives like to acknowledge!

  • However, there is more within the category of “medicine” than some perspectives like to acknowledge!
    Could you expand on that, rainman?

  • One of the things I’m hoping to do with the NZ Skeptics Society this year is tackle ACC. The thing that drew my attention to them was when they were talking about cutting back on subsidies. One thing they cut back on was subsidies on hearing aids for the elderly while still covering woo like acupuncture and chiropractic.

    Still struggling to find the time to do this unfortunately.

  • “Alternative Medicine” is a bit of a misnomer. It would be more correctly termed “alternative to medicine.”

    If something works, then it is part of the field of medicine. It’s only things that are shown not to work, such as homeopathy, that become “alternative.”