Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Homeopathy in the Manchester Evening News

I had no idea, but it turns out that the Manchester Evening News employs a homeopath, Zoe Meachem, as a 'Health and Beauty' columnist. Here's her recent column on prevention of cystitis. In the column, she recommends a number of homeopathic remedies at a 'potency' of 30c. In a 30c remedy, the 'mother tincture' is diluted by a factor of 100, thirty times. This is a dilution factor of 1x1060, or a 1 followed by sixty zeroes. The chance of their being any of the 'mother tincture' left after this dilution is vanishingly small. The best available evidence, i.e. meta-analyses of placebo-controlled trials, shows that homeopathy has no effect beyond placebo. In short, these remedies won't do a single thing to prevent or cure cystitis. Pity, because the other advice in the column is sensible. Drink plenty of water, and seek medical attention if you have a fever, lower back pain, blood or sediment in the urine.

Ms Meachem is registered with the Society of Homeopaths, whose code of conduct says that "No advertising may be used which expressly or implicitly claims to cure named diseases". While a comment piece in the MEN probably doesn't count as advertising, perhaps it should, especially given that the piece ends with the words "To make an appointment with Zoe call xxxx xxx xxxx".

Ms Meachem also has a BSc (hons) in Homeopathic Medicine, to which the only possible response is "You've got a degree in baloney!"


Dr Aust said...

Crikey. Good spot, Paul.

Wonder how have I been reading the MEN (albeit sporadically) all these years without noticing Ms Meachem? I think the answer must be that I automatically avoid reading the "health and beauty" bits. Partly because they are full of Zoe-homeopaths and similar, and partly because at my age beauty is long gone with health threatening to follow it out the door.

BTW, the precise title of Ms Meachem's "BSc (Hons) in Homeopathic Medicine" (ho ho) suggests it is from the University of Central Lancashire.

Paul Wilson said...

I think Ms Meachem is a relatively recent addition. I don't seem to be able find any of her stuff from more than a few weeks ago.

Dr Aust said...

I expect they had another "Natural Health" person before, Paul, though who knows, it might have been a nutritionist rather than a homeopath. Since the columns are free advertising, I would imagine you could find hundreds of Alt Therapists to write them for approximately no money at the drop of a hat.