Government hypocrisy is rife amid the talk of a “knowledge-based economy”

Homeopathy does not work. There is no debate about this fact among rational, informed people.

Homeopathy is a sham system of medicine. It is based on two false ideas that were dreamed up by a German, Samuel Hahnemann, around 1800, before the era of scientific medicine. The first of these principles is the notion that a patient can be helped by giving a substance that would cause the symptoms in a healthy person. Thus, a homeopath gives pepper to a patient who has a fever because taking pepper makes a healthy person feel hot. Of course, there is no reason why such a treatment would work. The second idea is that the so-called medicine is made more powerful by diluting it many times — to the point where only water is left. Homeopaths claim the water somehow remembers the original speck of substance that was in it. Of course, this idea is fanciful. In other words, homeopaths give patients ordinary water, perhaps in a sugar cube. Thus, homeopathy can not work.

The danger is that homeopathy plays with people’s health, which is a serious subject. As we see too often, quackery can be a matter of life and death. Instead of seeking proper medical advice, people can waste time — which is precious in the case of a worsening illness — and money, on pseudomedicine. The winter 1995 edition of Mothering magazine listed supposed homeopathic remedies for such serious childhood diseases as measles and whooping cough. These “remedies” are as effective as waving a forked stick. In their ignorance, some homeopaths speak against antibiotics and vaccinations. Meanwhile, so-called homeopathic vaccines, which were for sale in an Auckland pharmacy, give nothing but a false sense of security. (Dr Leo Revell’s recent statement in his Waikato Times column that “vaccination is a form of homeopathy” was inaccurate and unhelpful.) Lots of dangerous nonsense is on show at the Auckland College of Classical Homeopathy’s page at Inadequate law means homeopaths practice without a medical licence. Even Ricky Gorringe, the disgraced and banned Hamilton doctor who uses homeopathy and other quackery, can continue to see patients as an alternative therapist. Because it is no good and leads to dangers, homeopathy deserves oblivion.

The homeopathic industry is well established in New Zealand. It includes the New Zealand Council of Homeopaths, insurers, manufacturing pharmacies and health professionals. Caring more for profit than for patients, Southern Cross Healthcare has started selling The Wellbeing Plan, which can cover homeopathy and other nonsense, such as acupuncture and naturopathy. It is also shocking that some chemists have chosen to leave behind their ethics by selling homeopathic “medicines”. A chemist who does not know homeopathy is useless is incompetent and should be out of the field.

Worse, the Government is using our hard-earned dollars to support this twaddle. Career Services, which is a Crown Entity and reports to the Minister of Education, says it is “New Zealand’s leading provider of career information, advice and guidance.” Its government-funded website,, links to the Bay of Plenty College of Homeopathy and publicises the joke qualifications available there. Indeed, homeopathy is widely taught in New Zealand, with government support. The Wellpark College of Natural Therapies, located in Grey Lynn, is a New Zealand Qualifications Authority-accredited training institution that teaches homeopathy and other quackery, such as iridology and Ayurvedic medicine. The Waikato Institute of Technology and some other tertiary education facilities teach homeopathy. Three NZQA accredited colleges teach homeopathy: the Auckland College of Classical Homeopathy, the Wellington College of Homeopathy, and the Bay of Plenty College of Homeopathy, which has branches in Tauranga, Auckland and Christchurch. The Tauranga branch, which teaches at the local polytechnic, is the country’s largest homeopathic training provider. Because it has NZQA accreditation, the college has approval for student loans and allowances by the Ministry of Education. A ridiculous course of Homeopathy for Animals is sold at the Auckland University of Technology and by videotape. It, too, is approved by the NZQA and for loans and allowances by the Ministry of Education. Fees and costs for those paying through WINZ/Student Loans for training as homeopaths can be $10,000. Thus, misguided students are wasting our money to learn quackery, with government approval.

Unless rational and informed people speak up, the situation will get even worse. The Ministerial Advisory Committee on Complementary and Alternative Health, which is dominated by supporters of quackery, is pushing for the integration of homeopathy and other nonsense into our health system. Already, our taxes pay for acupuncture and sacro-cranial massage through ACC. Is homeopathy next? So much for a knowledge-based economy!

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