Homeopathy – the practice of treating unwell people with small doses of substances – has been ruled as an ineffective way of treating any health condition, Australia's government has ruled.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia reviewed some 1,800 research papers and concluded that the practice can even "put your health at risk" if one was to ignore conventional medicine. It added that there is no evidence that homeopathy works better than a placebo.

"People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness," read a statement from the health body.

CEO Professor Warwick Anderson said: "It is important that the public has access to independent, high quality advice when it comes to making decisions about their health care. From this review, the main recommendation for Australians is that they should not rely on homeopathy as a substitute for proven, effective treatments."

"This statement was the result of a rigorous examination of the evidence and used internationally accepted methods for assessing the quality and reliability of evidence for determining whether or not a therapy is effective for treating health conditions."

However, the Australian Homeopathic Association hit back at the report, claiming that the NHMRC used evidence that would have only benefited their study.

A statement from the Australian Homeopathic Association read: "Homeopathy is not ideally suited to systematic reviews which focus on isolated disease conditions without considering the overall health of the individual. The Australian Homeopathic Association is disappointed that the NHMRC review focussed on only this one type of evidence and excluded other evidence types, which are more suited to the way homeopathy is used in clinical practice.

"It should be noted here that the NHMRC working group did not include even one trained homeopath even though the AHA suggested a number of qualified individuals who not only are homeopathic practitioners but also have the relevant academic background."

Homeopaths believe that extreme dilution of illness-inducing substances with water or alcohol can be used to begin a healing process within the body.