Australia has officially become a homeopathy-sceptic nation. Its top body for medical research, the National Health and Medical Research Council, has declared that homeopathy is not an effective way of combating any disease. “Based on the assessment of the evidence of effectiveness of homeopathy, NHMRC concludes that there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective,” the council said in a report.

The council produced the report after reviewing 225 research papers on homeopathy. For some health conditions, it said, homeopathy acted as a placebo. Studies that indicated any effect of homeopathy that was stronger than a placebo were not reliable.

Homeopathy, which has always been hugely popular in India, is based on the idea that a substance which causes illness in a healthy person can, if administered in very small quantities, cure that person. Homeopaths use a “less is more” strategy where the more diluted the remedy, the more effective they believe it is. The logic goes a step further. A homeopathic remedy must be shaken after every dilution, apparently leaving a memory of the healing substance in the water or alcohol medium. The most powerful dose is supposed to be one which has been diluted so much that it ceases to contain the actual ingredient.

Homeopathy in general has been debunked many times in the past. Non-homeopathic medical practitioners attribute its reported good effects to the self-healing functions of the body and the placebo effect.

However, it is homeopathy’s dilution principle that is discredited the most, and the internet has no dearth of homeopathic humour from web cartoonists. British cartoonist and author Darryl Cunningham has created a 19-page comic strip explaining the history of testing the veracity of homeopathy and the resulting lack of scientific evidence. "In order for homeopathy to be effective, it would have to work in violation of the principles of biology, chemistry and physics," Cunningham writes.

Other cartoonists have their own short, humorous takes on homeopathy's "lack of logic".

Image: XKCD