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Homeopathy

Sugar can make you feel better, tooSugar can make you feel better, tooHomeopathy (or homoeopathy)

This might come as a shock to some people, but I think homeopathy works.

Of course, "works" is a vague term. I use the word in the same way that I would say the placebo effect "works". There is little doubt that placebos can make people feel better and, if they feel better, sometimes they become better. Sometimes.

Homeopathic "remedies" are nothing more than sugar pills. But people eat sugary chocolate and cakes to make them feel better, too. At least homeopathy doesn't bring with it the risk of obesity, heart disease or, indeed, any other side effect whatsoever.

But homeopathy does not actually "work" directly as a cure. That's just nonsense. Not only is there no evidence that homeopathy can cure anything, there is not even any conceivable physical mechanism by which it could cure anything.

Overall, I'm a supporter of complementary therapy. If you've got cancer or some really serious disease and the proper treatment is long, painful and not certain to work, you're going to need some support. For some, that support will come from family and friends - that's their complementary medicine. Some will lift their spirits through yoga or meditation. Others will take solace in a small sugar pill and hope beyond hope that it will tip the balance of probabilities in their favour. I do not begrudge them that, so long as they don't expect the NHS to pay for it!

What I do not support is alternative medicine. The idea that homeopathy or any other new age claptrap should be used INSTEAD of proper medication. It's a subtle distinction, but it's an important one. People promoting alternative medicine are putting lives at risk by making people doubt the effectiveness of the treatments that could actually help cure them.

And, of course, that's especially true when it comes to vaccine-preventable illnesses. I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I hear of people rejecting the MMR vaccine because they'll protect their children with nutrients and sugar pills. Those poor deluded souls will be the death of us all one day.