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A tale of homeopathic immunisation

For a number of reasons, some homeopaths are against conventional immunisations and advocate homeopathic ones instead.

For a number of reasons, some homeopaths are against conventional immunisations and advocate homeopathic ones instead.

This entails administering highly dilute substances, eg pathogens, in the hope that this might produce the desired immune response. There is no evidence to suggest that this approach might be clinically effective or lead to the desired immune response.

I was therefore surprised that Dr Ralf Jeutter PhD, a director of the UK Society of Homeopaths and a member of the Society's Professional Standards Committee, had a website on which he appeared to openly advocate homeopathic immunization. There he stated the following:

'Possible alternatives to the following vaccinations for children are available:

• Whooping cough

• Pneumococcal disease

• Polio

• Haemophilis Influenzae

• Meningococcus disease

• Tetanus

• Tuberculosis'

The Society has issued a Position Statement on vaccination which states the following

'The Society of Homeopaths acknowledges that there is much anecdotal and scientific evidence to support the arguments presented both for and against vaccination.

The Society believes that individuals should be supported in making informed decisions on both the short and long term implications of vaccination and advises them to discuss this issue with their General Practitioner and homeopath.

The Society acknowledges that the evidence to support the use of homeopathic prophylactics that is, using homeopathic remedies as a preventative treatment, is largely anecdotal and therefore the use of this method is currently speculative.'

I decided to complain and, on 26 August 2008, I wrote this letter to the Society:

'I wish to file an official complaint against Ralf Jeutter. His website (www.thehomeopath.org.uk) openly promotes homeopathic immunisation. This violates the Society's 'Code of Ethics' and the Society's 'Position Statement' which both make it clear that such statements must be described as speculative.'

An adjudication hearing was held on 11 May 2009, nine months after my original complaint. A few days later I was informed of the decision. Here it is:

'Section 11 of the Code of Ethics and Practice

The complaint was NOT upheld

The website in the Panel's opinion was written with patient safety in mind and with particular reference to aiding the patient in making informed decision.

This is with reference to Sections 3, 5 and 6 of the Code of Ethics and Practice and Core Criteria 1 and 4.

The website achieves this by using primary sources of evidence and providing links and references to further information to prohibit speculation and allow the prospective patient/patient to make informed judgements. We heard evidence that Ralf Jeutter clearly distinguishes between anecdotal evidence and formal trials and studies. This was enhanced by audit procedures which take place prior to and at the consultation where patients were given an opportunity to discuss the choices and their understanding of the alternatives was checked. Written consent was asked for from patients before treatment was commenced.

Section 72 of the Code of Ethics and Practice

The complaint was NOT upheld

In referring to the potential for cure of any named disease the website gave a balanced opinion around a wide variety of quoted sources reporting the use of homeopathy during epidemics. The website is around choices for immunisation not cure for named diseases.'

I don't think this needs further comment!

Professor Edzard Ernst Professor Edzard Ernst

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