Abstract and key points
- Treatment with highly diluted substances based on the similia principle
- No good evidence exists to suggest that homeopathy is effective as a treatment of cancer
- Evidence on its effects when used as supportive therapy during cancer treatment is too limited for firm conclusions
- There are few risks associated with homeopathy
Homeopathy is a system of medicine based on the similia (‘treating like with like’) principle. It usually entails taking highly diluted remedies by mouth. Homeopaths claim to treat the individual patient holistically such that the body is stimulated to heal itself. Homeopathy is thus advocated for all human conditions; in oncology this is mostly for palliative and supportive care.
A systematic review of eight controlled clinical trials of homeopathy for the prevention or treatment of adverse effects of cancer treatments concluded that the evidence is not convincing. More recent trials fail to demonstrate that homeopathy is an effective therapy for cancer.
There are no serious direct risks associated with homeopathy but there are indirect risks, if homeopathic preparations are used in place of conventional cancer treatment.
CitationKaren Pilkington, Edzard Ernst, CAM-Cancer Consortium. Homeopathy [online document]. http://cam-cancer.org/The-Summaries/Other-CAM/Homeopathy. July 12, 2016.
Last updated and revised in July 2016 by Karen Pilkington.
Updated in May 2013 by Edzard Ernst.
Updated and revised in November 2011 by Edzard Ernst.
First published in June 2010, authored by Edzard Ernst.
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