Melbourne: Homeopathy is no more effective than placebos in treating health conditions that are chronic, serious, or could become serious, a major Australian study has found.
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has released findings after assessing 1,800 papers which examined the efficacy of the alternative "medicine".
Of these, 225 studies met the criteria to be included in NHMRC's examination of the effectiveness of homeopathy.
The review found no good quality, well-designed studies with enough participants to support the idea that homeopathy works better than a placebo, or causes health improvements equal to those of another treatment.
Although some studies did report that homeopathy was effective, the quality of those studies was assessed as being small and/or of poor quality.
"All medical treatments and interventions should be underpinned by reliable evidence. NHMRC's review shows that there is no good quality evidence to support the claim that homeopathy works better than a placebo," said CEO Warwick Anderson.
Homeopathy should not be used to treat conditions that are chronic, serious, or could become serious.
"People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness," he said.
"Each year NHMRC funds research to test treatments and procedures offered to patients, with more than USD 320 million spent on clinical and health services research in 2014," Anderson said.
The main recommendation for Australians is that they should not rely on homeopathy as a substitute for proven, effective treatments, he said. They spent USD 7.3 million on homeopathy in 2009, a World Health Organisation review found.
The findings of the homeopathy working group's review are summarised in the final NHMRC Information Paper: Evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy for treating a clinical condition.