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Supporters of Homeopathy Donate and Integrative Health Education Center and Skeptics Respond

October 11, 2017

In September 2017, the University of California, Irvine announced it received a $200 million donation to create an interdisciplinary integrative health education center.

The donors, Susan and Henry Samueli, are well-known in the integrative health community for funding the Samueli Institute and the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine. The Samuelis are strong supporters of homeopathy and Susan is a graduate of the British Institute of Homeopathy.  The new Samueli College of Health Sciences will include medical, nursing, pharmacy, and public health schools with a strong emphasis on integrative health. Read more.

This announcement was greeted with enthusiasm within the integrative health community. However, the news also gave critics, skeptics, and the media an opportunity to denigrate integrative health as “code for introducing unproven and debunked nostrums” and a way to “integrate quackery into medicine.”  Read more.

The LA Times published scathing articles, both on the general concept of integrative health and on the availability of homeopathy at the UC Irvine Medical Center. The LA Times proclaims that “UC Irvine scrubs homeopathy.” 

The articles were countered by strong, informative online comments by Dana Ullman. In addition, John Weeks, integrative health reporter for the HuffPost, fired back by calling the media response “shameful.”

Traditionally, NCH’s policy regarding skepticism has been to not respond to skeptic or opposition comments. NCH supports open exchange of ideas and respectful discourse and has found that skeptics are not interested in having a useful discussion. However, one area of suggested response is to the media. As seen in the LA Times articles mentioned above, media outlets sometimes choose to publish one-sided views and disparaging attacks. NCH feels that the media’s attacks can ultimately persuade patients who could benefit from the full spectrum of health and wellness disciplines.

We are encouraging NCH members to send letters to the editor of the LA Times and to the editors of any other articles that are publishing negative content about the Samuelis’ donation and the inclusion of homeopathy in its clinical services. When responding to negative information, remember to be clear, concise, and polite. Here are a few talking points:

-          There are high-quality, placebo-controlled scientific studies that show homeopathy has an effect above placebo. Research information can be found on the National Center for Homeopathy website and the Homeopathy Research Institute

-          Homeopathy is used by hundreds of millions of people around the world, despite its tarnished reputation because of the media’s criticism.

-          Since homeopathy has shown promise in reducing dependence on antibiotics and opioids, it should not be dismissed. The nation’s biggest health challenge is its over-reliance on expensive, addictive, and harmful drugs.