Earlier this month, Prince Charles – the heir to the British throne – was praised by scientists for attempting to convince Donald Trump (in a 15-minute chat that ended up lasting an hour and a half) to take action on climate change. Now he's been accused of using his Royal position to promote "dangerously misleading" pseudomedical advice after becoming a patron of a homeopathy group.
Prince Charles, a vocal supporter of homeopathy, was announced as patron of the Faculty of Homeopathy on Tuesday.
Homeopathy operates on two pseudo-scientific principles: that "like cures like" and the "law of minimum dose", the notion the lower the dose, the more effective it is. The idea, which was invented by German doctor Samuel Hahnemann in the 1970s, is that a condition can be cured by treating a patient with ingredients that cause similar symptoms, but in minuscule doses because water has a "memory" that will remember these active ingredients, despite being diluted to the point there is no longer any of the active ingredient left in the water.
“Homeopathy is... based on ancient theories of vitalism, which asserts that the more dilute a substance is the more curative it is," Dr David Robert Grimes told The Times. "It is, however, completely at odds with modern physics and chemistry, and lacks any medical efficacy," adding that it is archaic and expensive to boot.
It is worth noting here that homeopathy is not a synonym for all complementary medicine, which is used alongside standard medical practices (but is not considered standard medical practice itself), and if used alone is considered alternative medicine, which is used instead of conventional medicine.
Scientists and doctors have been highly critical of the move by Prince Charles, and many people have applied the homeopathic principle to their criticism to point out the absurdity.
Numerous studies and scientists have repeatedly found there is no reliable evidence that homeopathy works and most point out that if there was evidence that ingredients used in homeopathy were effective in treating conditions, they would be incorporated into conventional medicine; that's how medicine works.
It's also worth noting here that many world-class health institutes and government bodies – including the UK's National Health Service, the US Department of Health and Health Canada – have official statements also stating there is currently no scientific evidence homeopathy is an effective treatment of any health condition.
People also expressed disappointment that Prince Charles – who as a future monarch will be required to keep political views private – would use his platform to promote anti-scientific causes.
“This news is sadly no surprise, given how routinely Prince Charles has used his Royal platform to advocate for an anti-science position when it comes to homeopathy," Michael Marshall, project director at the Good Thinking Society, said in a statement.
"But it is obscene to think that the UK’s next head of state believes this is an appropriate issue to use his considerable public profile to promote. With so many pressing health issues in the world today – from antibiotic resistance, to the rise of anti-vaccination sentiments, to the need for increased mental health awareness – this seems like not only a missed opportunity, but actively counter-productive."
Marshall pointed to the revelation last year by the Guardian that over 100 homeopaths in the UK were claiming to offer a "cure" for autism, which discourages vaccinations.
"If Prince Charles wants to have a genuinely positive effect on the health of the nation he intends to one day rule, he should side against those who offer dangerously misleading advice, rather than fighting their corner,” his statement concluded.