According to a draft discussion document issued by the Council, researchers failed to find any study to show homeopathy is more effective than placebo for treating ailments including a cough, ear infection and acne.
It also described many of the pro-homeopathy studies as poorly designed with too few participants to give a meaningful result.
What is homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a type of complementary and alternative medicine, according to the National Health and Medical Research Council.
Using the principle that “like cures like”, homeopaths treat patients on the basis that substances that may cause particular symptoms in a healthy person can treat those symptoms in a person who is unwell.
Unlike conventional medicine which aims to kill bacteria, homeopathy aims to strengthen a person’s health and immune system.
According to the Australian Homeopathic Association, it is recognised by the World Health Organisation as a valid form of healthcare and differs from naturopathy in its level of training for practitioners.
According to the National Health and Medical Research Council, homeopathic medicines are prepared by diluting material from plants, animals or chemicals in water or alcohol. The material is then placed in a container and forcefully hit against a hand or surface before being delivered to patients as tablets, liquids, ointments, sprays or creams.
Most homeopaths prescribe medicine by matching a patient’s symptoms to a single medicine, rather than several.
What did the discussion document say?
Researchers found that people could be putting themselves at risk if they use homeopathic medicines instead of conventional treatment, having found no reliable evidence to back the effectiveness of homeopathy.
The draft discussion paper, which remains open for public comment, also found studies supporting the statement that homeopathy was no better than a placebo for several conditions.
Bond University’s Professor Paul Glasziou said the medicine should not be used to treat health conditions that are serious or could become serious.
“Those who use homeopathy should tell their (conventional) health professionals, and should keep taking any conventional medicines that they have been prescribed,” he said.
The draft information paper is available for public comment until May 26.