Thailand: Homeopathy ‘not a cure’ for dengue
BANGKOK (The Nation/ANN) - Alternative medicine department backs down on claim amid criticism.
The Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine has backtracked from its claim that its homeopathic formula is highly effective for dengue-fever protection.
“It’s just a supplementary measure that needs further research,” Dr Sun-pong Ritthiruksa said yesterday in his capacity as the chair of the department’s centre for herbal medicine, Thai traditional medicine, folk medicine and alternative medicine.
He spoke up after several prominent figures, including Chulalongkorn University’s lecturer Jessada Denduangboripant, raised questions about the claim.
Sunpong himself said last Friday that a homeopathic formula made from eupatorium perfoliatum 200C had been proved effective in preventing dengue fever. His agency is now handing out it for free.
“It’s 89.9 per cent effective,” Sunpong said last Friday, just a day ahead of Asean Dengue Day, as he cited findings from a journal.
Jessada then quickly argued that homeopathy was pseudoscience, something that the Public Health Ministry should not promote.
“The promotion can be dangerous,” he warned.
Dengue fever has hit more than 28,000 people in Thailand so far this year – up by 1.7 times from the same period a year earlier. Of them, 43 died.
Sunpong said he sought to support the use of homeopathy as a supplementary measure for protection against dengue fever.
He reiterated that to prevent dengue-fever infections, people still needed to focus on measures such as changing the water in flower vases weekly, keeping their home tidy, eliminating mosquito-breeding grounds and covering water containers.
Mosquitoes are the main carriers of dengue fever.
“I am worried that people may misunderstand what I said earlier,” Sunpong said.
He then clarified that eupatorium perfoliatum 200C was not for treating dengue fever.
“If patients develop symptoms that can be associated with dengue fever, [they should] go see a doctor to get treatment based on modern medicine,” he said.
Jessada said he had looked into several studies previously associated with the department and saw multiple flaws.
According to him, the efficacy rate cited for vaccines against dengue fever is not as high as the rate found by the department’s research, hinting at the possibility that the cited efficacy rate for eupatorium perfoliatum 200C might have been exaggerated.
Jessada explained that while eupatorium perfoliatum could reduce fever and boost the immune system, there was no clear proof that it could treat or prevent dengue fever.
According to the Disease Control Department, the main factors associated with fatal cases of dengue fever are living in communities hosting a large number of mosquito larvae, buying medicine for self-treatment, delays in seeking treatments from doctors, and having underlying illnesses such as obesity, diabetes and asthma.
Statistics compiled by the Disease Control Department show the number of dengue-fever patients this year is far higher than the number five years ago.
As of June 11 this year, dengue fever hit 28,785 people in Thailand. During the same period in 2014, the number stood at 10,670. The figures from the same period from 2015 to 2018 were at 24,248, 19,029, 13,961m and 17,302 respectively.