/ Health

Your view: do pharmacists and homeopathy mix?

Homeopathy pills in bottles

Our snapshot investigation into pharmacies revealed that 13 out of 20 failed to explain that there’s no clinical evidence that homeopathy works. It proved to be a popular starting point for discussion…

‘As soon as you talk about homeopathy, it divides opinion’, said our senior health researcher, Joanna Pearl, in her introduction to our investigation into pharmacists and homeopathy last week.

How right she was! Chrisb1 dared to open up the discussion by putting forward his view on the safety of homeopathy vs prescription medicine:

‘We should ask ourselves why prescription drugs, taken as prescribed in hospitals, are the fourth leading cause of death in the US and Canada, after cancer, heart disease and strokes. They cause about 10,000 deaths a year in Canada and about 106,000 deaths a year, and over two million serious injuries in the US.’

These statistics, and this view, were widely challenged by other commenters, including Paulj:

‘This isn’t an argument for an alternative such has homeopathy that has dubious, highly questionable evidence. Let’s improve evidence-based medicine rather than flee to non-scientific medicines.’

Guy Chapman believes there’s a reason why we have the term ‘alternative’ medicine:

‘A treatment is alternative only because it cannot be shown to work, or more likely it can be shown with good confidence not to (as with homeopathy). If it can be proven to work, it is no longer alternative, it is medicine.’

Should pharmacists sell homeopathy?

Many commenters – like Sophie Gilbert – think our snapshot investigation indicates a bigger problem with pharmacists selling homeopathy

‘Homeopathy belongs to the same realm as astrology and should not be recommended by pharmacists any more that financial advisers should recommend consulting our horoscopes to see if our investments are going to perform well in future.’

David Colquhoun agrees:

‘It is horrifying that pharmacists give such bad advice. Pharmacists are constantly pushing for a greater role in primary care. Their education seems just not to be good enough to take on that role at the moment. I have known some who are very good, but it seems they are still in a minority. I hope they take these revelations very seriously indeed.’

We even had Dr Ben Goldacre (author of Bad Science and Bad Pharma) join the discussion on Twitter (@bengoldacre):

What do pharmacists have to say?

A few days earlier, we published another Convo outlining the wider research into pharmacists’ advice. Karen joined that debate and made a good point about counter staff:

‘It is very difficult to approach some customers regarding their medicines as they tend to see Counter Assistants as ‘shop girls’ and refuse to take any advice given. It is very rare you get a good response when refusing to sell something to someone.

‘We need to remember that it is the counter staff who spend the most time with our patients and as such should be subjected to the same scrutiny as our pharmacists and technicians.’

On Twitter, pharmacist Joseph Bush (@josephbush) went a step further with his suggestion:

New vs old

The discussion on homeopathy went on to question how both alternative and conventional medicines move with the times. Dieseltaylor thinks that conventional medicine often backtracks:

‘I think one of the bugbears I have is that “proper” medicine has quite a few incidents of “we know we are right” and then in the fullness of time we find that in fact the medical fraternity are quite quite wrong. All I wish for is a little less hubris.’

Ned doesn’t think this made homeopathy any more credible, however:

‘Yes, scientific medicine evolves to take account of new evidence. You can’t do that without changing your advice.

‘By contrast, homeopathy is rigidly based on the unsubstantiated theories of a 19th century crackpot. But it makes a lot of money for pharmacists with little risk of them being sued for actually harming patients, (as long as they don’t advise people against going to a doctor for an effective cure).’

So do you think pharmacists should only recommend remedies backed by scientific evidence? So far, voters in our poll are overwhelmingly in favour, with nearly 80% saying that they should. Cast your vote now if you haven’t already, and tell us what you think about homeopathy being sold in pharmacies in the comments below.

Should pharmacists only recommend remedies backed by scientific evidence?

Yes - pharmacists should only recommend remedies backed by science (68%, 715 Votes)

Maybe - as long as pharmacists make clear it's just their personal opinion (17%, 179 Votes)

No - pharmacists should be free to recommend any remedy, including homeopathy (15%, 158 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,052

Loading ... Loading ...
Comments

There will be no more discussion about individuals and their supposed criminal records. Such accusations are counter to our guidelines and T&Cs. This is a public forum, and we do not have the facility to confirm any such accusations.

Please stick to the debate at hand.

This is the exact same crowd of people who grace the pages of any WHICH investigation into “alternatives”, and that would include the investigation into Nutritional Therapists. They seem to have an agenda against anything that is considered to be complementary or Integrative or Alternative.
There’s Robin, Guy, Wavechange, Alan and Maria: the five musketeers who adamantly refuse to accept anything on health grounds unless it is medically approved and based on the false notion of being “evidence-based”. Of course I am missing out the “Ace” in the pack, and the skeptic of all skeptics: Professor David Colquhoun.

Just to illustrate my point, I was doing some research and studies on the effectiveness of Acupuncture, when I came across this article in the Daily Mail, and I quote…………..

“A major analysis, published yesterday, suggests the skeptics are also wrong about acupuncture’s benefits: it really does control pain.
Practitioners claim that by inserting fine needles at 400 specific points on the skin, they can affect the ‘meridians’ — channels of energy that run up and down the body, blocking pain. Critics claim any relief comes purely from the placebo effect”……………………….

………………………………….”The new report, the largest analysis of acupuncture ever conducted, involved nearly 18,000 patients and doctors from eight universities and hospitals in the UK, the U.S. and Germany.
They found that traditional acupuncture worked better than a placebo.
In fact, in conditions such as arthritis and chronic headache, acupuncture was twice as effective as the drugs and exercise recommended by most doctors, according to the analysis published in the authoritative Archives of Internal Medicine”.

“‘The difference between traditional and sham acupuncture in this study is greater than the difference between painkilling aspirin-like drugs and a sham pill or placebo,’ says Professor George Lewith, head of the complementary medicine research unit at the University of Southampton and another author on the paper.

‘This study certainly forms a good basis for expanding the use of acupuncture,’ says Professor Lewith.
‘These results are robust evidence that it’s not just a placebo,’ says statistican Dr Vickers.

…………………………………..and then surprise surprise, who pops up and gives his opinion? But none other than that well-known skeptic: Professor David Colquhoun, a pharmacologist at Imperial College London, who is a vehement opponent. He has described talk of energy and meridians as ‘pure gobbledygook’ and campaigned for university acupuncture courses to be closed on the grounds that they should not ‘teach such nonsense’”…………………………
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2201260/Acupuncture-New-research-says-really-does-work-So-IS-truth-it.html

So there we are, whenever there is a whiff of anything remotely considered to be alternative, they pounce and lay it on the line that it is all just sheer quackery. “quack quack”

Speaking of medical medicine………………..

Are you of the Opinion, James,” asked a slim-looking man of his companion, That Dr. Smith’s medicine does any good?”
“Not unless you follow the directions.”
“What are the directions?”
“Keep the bottle tightly corked.”

Chris: Your paranoia is showing. This is, as far as I can recall, the first Which? debate on alternatives to medicine in which I have participated.

There is nothing false about the idea that people must produce evidence to back their health claims. It is, in fact, the only way to protect the public from charlatans.

Here’s an example. Jim Humble claims that his Miracle Mineral Solution can cure cancer, AIDS< malaria and the common cold. It is bleach. The side-effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, internal bleeding – all the symptoms you would expect of drinking bleach. But he has a coterie of devoted followers who will try to shout down any skeptical voice, using claims that it has worked miracles for them, and that critics are in the pay of "big pharma".

In your model, there is no way of distinguishing between quack remedies, no way of protecting the public form their bogus claims. No doubt you will assert that homeopathy is "safe" – but this relies on the fact that it is inert, and that the patient is not actually ill. If someone who is ill uses homeopathy in place of medicine, then they are at real risk.

That is why evidence is required. It's required equally of all claimants to treat or cure disease. Medicines may start off as plants, genes or totally synthesised molecules, it doesn't matter, the hurdle is the same height for everybody.

Robin says:
7 June 2013

Chris, you are making a false accusation, and not for the first time. I have not previously commented on Which conversation about alternative medicine.

Making a statement as if it is fact, without any evidence then. That sounds strangely familiar.

ReallyGoodMedicine says:
7 June 2013

Why should British pharmacists not recommend homeopathy? Despite the belief of some people who have never studied or used homeopathy that it doesn’t work, homeopathy does work, and it works safely. Homeopathy is recognized as a system of medicine or medical specialty and/or is supported on the national health care programs of 19 countries including Brazil, India and Switzerland.

Examples of pharmacists’ recommendations of homeopathy in other countries:

It’s taught in 21 of France’s 24 schools of pharmacy and is recommended to pregnant women, among others, by 94.5% of French pharmacists. Homeopathy is recommended by many U.S. and Canadian pharmacists. It’s also recommended in other European countries.

ReallyGoodMedicine: “Why should British pharmacists not recommend homeopathy”? Because there is no reason to believe it should work, no way it can work and no sound evidence it does work beyond placebo.

Your appeal to popularity does nothing to address these facts.

I agree with you Reallygoodmedicine; British Pharmacists have no valid reason not to recommend Homeopathy at all.
The actual reason is to be found in the strong antipathy and prejudice within the United Kingdom against many Alternatives, and by Medical orthodoxy, and as warned by our European neighbors concerning this.

You may find this of interest to illustrate what I have mentioned……………………

“Dr Malka believes the attack on natural medicine has more to do with the threat to modern medicine’s power base as well as its “unhealthy relationship” with the “trillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry”.
This is not the first time natural medicines have been attacked by the medical industry.
Alternative healthcare professionals such as chiropractors, naturopaths, and midwives have been targeted by the American Medical Association (AMA) for nearly a century, in spite of a federal court injunction against the AMA in 1987 for illegally trying to create a monopoly in the healthcare market”.
The argument that modern medicine is evidence-based as opposed to other types of medicine is an argument that is often used by medical lobbyists, and tends to be generally accepted by the public. However, according to a report by a panel of experts assembled by the prestigious Institute of Medicine, “well below half” of medical care in the US is based on or supported by adequate evidence.
WHO estimates that one in 10 hospital admissions leads to an adverse event while one in 300 admissions leads to death. WHO puts medical errors as among the top 10 killers in the world. According to the US’s Institute of Medicine, preventable medical errors kill 98,000 people in the US alone each year and injure countless more.
http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3840682.html

There is a clamor for only ‘evidence-based medicine’ to be acceptable. This same voice calls for homeopathy to be banned for lack of evidence. Sometimes this goes beyond the polemic into rabid rant. This seems very strange in the light of a recent BMJ report on evidence-based medicine (EBM), which states that, of 2,404 human treatments so far reviewed, only 15% were shown to be effective. 47% were of unknown effect. This report did not address harmful side-effects, nor did it draw attention to the fact that, in most cases, the evidence is only that a drug can suppress a symptom of the disease, rather than aid the patient to overcome a disease. If calls to ban medicine that is not evidence-based were to prevail, what would happen to 85% of conventional medicine?

The prejudice here is all too evident and of course non-scientific: this is exemplified by the “balanced diet” mentality, and an ingrained belief perpetuated by Dietitians.

Why is Alternative Medicine becoming so popular?
http://www.yourhealthbase.com/alternative_medicine.html

Now hang on a minute there Guy,

in answer to ReallyGoodMedicine you say: “Because there is no reason to believe it should work, (Homeopathy) no way it can work and no sound evidence it does work beyond placebo”.

So what you are essentially saying,……………………………..is that although Homeopathy is recognized as a system of medicine or medical specialty and/or is supported on the national health care programs of 19 countries including Brazil, India and Switzerland, and despite being taught in 21 of France’s 24 schools of pharmacy, and is recommended to pregnant women, among others, by 94.5% of French pharmacists. In addition, Homeopathy is recommended by many U.S. and Canadian pharmacists. It’s also recommended in other European countries as well

………………….is that all of these Countries and pharmaceutical organisations do this because homeopathy is just sugar pills and any benefits are just the “placebo effect”.!!!!!

Your best to write/email/fax all of them and campaign against homeopathy then, because your Medical brethren have all been “duped”. If they are THAT gullible, it makes you wonder what other practices they recommend where they have been “duped” on similar lines!!!!

Chris: Appeal to popularity is a logical fallacy. Scientology claims it is a legitimate religion because it has tax exempt status in the US, that does not materially affect the fact thy it is widely regarded as a cult, still less validate its doctrines.

There is no reason to think homeopathy should work, like does not cure like and diseases are not caused ny non-existent miasms disturbing a non-existent vital force. There is no plausible mechanism by which it could work, it is generally recognised that it is in fundamental conflict with common and well established facts about the nature of matter. There is no credible e idence it does work, all observations are consistent with the null hypothesis and most experiments are poorly designed and do not address the fundamentals. By chance alone, one in twenty trials will produce a false positive, and publication bias ensures that these are the ones that will be published.

Any time you’d like to cite a generalised proof that like cures like, published in. Credible peer-reviewed journal, go right ahead. Ditto proof that dilution increases potency as a general principle. Ditto any objective measurement that can distinguish two similarly packaged remedies at normal homeopathic potencies. I have mad this point before.

Guy,
“Chris: Appeal to popularity is a logical fallacy”.

Not if it works darling, not if it works.

Circular reasoning.

Robin says:
7 June 2013

Luckily I live in the UK, where the government, the pharmacists professional body and other regulators all agree that homeopathy has not been proven to work other than to a level at best equivalent to a placebo.

You make assumptions, i.e. people haven’t tried homeopathy or studied it. You don’t actually know. Having tried it or studied it has no bearing on providing evidence of efficacy. I am not sure what would constitute studying homeopathy, I think the claims of the basic premises are all very easy to find, if difficult to find evidence to support.

I haven’t studied nuclear physics, well not since A level, but I know nuclear power stations work. I don’t know this because I just believe it to be true, or I read it on the internet, there is evidence. The evidence presented in support of homeopathy has been present in the UK and found wanting -fact. Homeopaths don’t like, or sometimes even acknowledge it. If homeopathy “works” why is it so hard to prove it?

This has all been discussed at great length above. These endless circular debates and reigniting old ones doesn’t encourage anyone else to join in. It is alienating people who may have a point to make, on either side of the debate.

From the information I was told by one pharmacist working for Boots, that company has re-issued some advice, as a result of the Which? findings. Hopefully that may mean less chance of someone presenting with potentially serious symptoms not being advised to see a GP. If we can’t agree on that then there seem little hope of progress or meaningful discussion.

Perhaps others reading this can ask their own pharmacists if they are aware of the survey results. It would be interesting to hear what a larger group of people think about it, and what their pharmacists think.It may have a potential benefit if it prompts some pharmacists to be more cautious about the advice they offer for potentially serious symptoms.

Alan Henness says:
7 June 2013

@ReallyGoodMedicine

Why do you say that about Switzerland?

Chris: Yes, “not if it works” is indeed circular reasoning. We are making progress I think!

So we come back to the question of evidence. Since all observations are consistent with the null hypothesis, and there is no remotely plausible mechanism, it is reasonable to conclude that it does not work. This is indeed the scientific consensus, and is unlikely to change in the absence of a new and vastly more compelling body of evidence from homeopaths.

Guy,
“Appeal to popularity is a logical fallacy”., meaning not IF it works because I know it DOES work, so you are merely reiterating your worn out stance which does bear scrutiny.
This is why I mentioned your “Circular Reasoning”.

Homeopathy is acceptable (because it works) and practiced Worldwide, and as I have mentioned before, but you continue to ignore my posts and the information I have provided therein.
Your antipathy towards ANYTHING Alternative, and in this case Homeopathy, is baseless, and only proves to the objective reader what I have been saying all along.

When you refer to “scientific consensus” this merely means your own interpretation of what this actually means, which you probably share with the majority of the Medical community.
You have ignored all of the evidence I have placed before you: it really is that simple.

I will grant you that the mechanism for Homeopathy may not be fully understood, but that does not prevent Medical Doctors prescribing pharmaceuticals where the mecahanism is either inknown or only partially understood.
I have also mentioned that your critique of Homeopathy and your defense on the widespread use of pharmaceuticals is illogical and incompatible: if you can accept the latter, then by the same reasoning you should be able to accept the former. This is esp’ the case when the vast majority of prescribed pharmaceuticals merely treat “symptoms” and do not address the cause or causes of any particular disease, and where this is esp’ relevant in the case of almost if not all chronic diseases treated this way. Palliation is very common in what you refer to as “Medical Science”.

Maria says:
7 June 2013

“I know it DOES work,”

How? Forget appeals to popularity. Bloodletting was practised for many centuries because physicians from many different cultures “knew” that it worked. But it doesn’t. Some people recovered after it but we know now that it is mostly harmful and probably killed untold numbers of people.

So how do you *know* that homeopathy works?

Chris: You are quite wrong, the mechanism of homeopathy is fully understood. Just not by homeopaths.

Placebo effects, natural course of disease, regression to the mean, cognitive biases. No magic involved.

The explanations offered by homeopaths fail because they are not rational, coherent, complete or in most cases even remotely plausible.

The scientific consensus is what it is. It’s defined by medical opinion because in matters pertaining to health, medics are the relevant specialists, but it’s been clearly articulated by both the outgoing and the incoming Chief Scientific Advisors.

Ok Guy,
so why then do most of Mainstream Europe endorse the use of Homeopathy, and where even Medical Doctors prescribe it as a therapy?
You still have not answered my query in any rational way (apart from giving me your opinion) as to why your Medical brethren practice it so widely, or are they just fooling masses of patients on a grand scale with the placebo effect?
Shame on the Medical profession if that is the case.

It is also strange how such an antipathy exists against Homeopathy almost exclusively within the UK (or for any other alternative for that matter) but not in Europe.
European Doctors have warned about this antipathy, and so they try to avoid confrontations such as this.

Unbelievable; your explanation as to how the mechanism for Homeopathy works is rather predictable, coming from someone who endorses Medical Science on this side of the English Channel, but not on the other side.
In addition the “scientific consensus” you speak of, applies for the most part only on this side of the Channel as well.

Maria,
in answer to: “I know it DOES work,” the answer is yes, from the scientific evidence I have given you and your comrades in arms in previous posts. I suggest you look again.
I have also said that the exact mechanism for knowing how Homeopathy works is not yet fully understood, but this is immaterial when something is known to work, and work effectively.

Maria, it is the “role of science” to discover that mechanism, and not down play it just because you do not understand it! Dismissing this is just out and out bias and prejudice.

Read this……………………..
The facts, it seems, are being ignored. By the end of 2009, 142 randomized control trials (the gold standard in medical research) comparing homeopathy with placebo or conventional treatment had been published in peer-reviewed journals – 74 were able to draw firm conclusions: 63 were positive for homeopathy and 11 were negative. Five major systematic reviews have also been carried out to analyse the balance of evidence from RCTs of homeopathy – four were positive (Kleijnen, J, et al; Linde, K, et al; Linde, K, et al; Cucherat, M, et al) and one was negative (Shang, A et al). It’s usual to get mixed results when you look at a wide range of research results on one subject, and if these results were from trials measuring the efficacy of “normal” conventional drugs, ratios of 63:11 and 4:1 in favor of a treatment working would be considered pretty persuasive.

Sorry Maria, but this comment of yours is just unbelievably ignorant of the facts……………

“Some people recovered after it but we know now that it is mostly harmful and probably killed untold numbers of people”………………….

Continued………………..

“Of course, the question of how homeopathy works is another matter. And that is where homeopathy courts controversy. It is indeed puzzling that ultra-high dilutions of substances, with few or no measurable molecules of the original substance left in them, should exert biological effects, but exert biological effects they do”………………………….

“There are experiments showing that homeopathic thyroxine can alter the rate of metamorphosis of tadpoles into frogs, that homeopathic histamine can alter the activity of white blood cells, and that under the right conditions, homeopathic sodium chloride can be made to release light in the same way as normal sodium chloride. The idea that such highly-diluted preparations are not only still active, but retain characteristics of the original substances, may seem impossible, but these kinds of results show it’s a demonstrable fact”.

“And yet the portrayal of homeopathy as charlatanism and witchcraft continues. There is growing evidence that homeopathy works, that it is cost-effective and that patients want it. As drugs bills spiral, and evidence emerges that certain drugs routinely prescribed on the NHS are no better than placebos, maybe it’s time for “skeptics” to stop the witch hunt and look at putting their own house in order”.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jul/15/homeopathy-works-scientific-evidence

Chris: Most of “mainstream Europe” don’t “endorse homeopathy”. And even if they did, it would have no bearing on the fact that there is no credible evidence of effect, no plausible mechanism and it is based on principles which vary between unproven and refuted.

There is no tension or inconsistency. Homeopathy is not part of medical science on *either* side of the channel, because there is no science to homeopathy. Science does not work by appeal to authority or popularity. Being used in France does not confer scientific legitimacy, being popular does not confer scientific legitimacy.

I have already explained what homeopathy would have to do to become scientific, and it starts with honest tests of its core doctrines and an openness to them being wrong. I do not think any homeopath is up for that.

I was going to reply to this thread but I can’t add much to what Guy Chapman has already posted.

Guy,
you say………….”no bearing on the fact that there is no credible evidence of effect, no plausible mechanism and it is based on principles which vary between unproven and refuted”.

Then please read this again or do you have difficulty understanding this?……………………

The facts, it seems, are being ignored. By the end of 2009, 142 randomized control trials (the gold standard in medical research) comparing homeopathy with placebo or conventional treatment had been published in peer-reviewed journals – 74 were able to draw firm conclusions: 63 were positive for homeopathy and 11 were negative. Five major systematic reviews have also been carried out to analyse the balance of evidence from RCTs of homeopathy – four were positive (Kleijnen, J, et al; Linde, K, et al; Linde, K, et al; Cucherat, M, et al) and one was negative (Shang, A et al). It’s usual to get mixed results when you look at a wide range of research results on one subject, and if these results were from trials measuring the efficacy of “normal” conventional drugs, ratios of 63:11 and 4:1 in favor of a treatment working would be considered pretty persuasive.

ReallyGoodMedicine says:
7 June 2013

Repeating the “skeptic” mantra over and over again will never make it a truth or invalidate the facts about homeopathy. Those facts are that:

1. Homeopathy has been proven safe and effective over 200 years of clinical use among hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Can con med say the same? Hardly! Witness the recall of drugs after they’ve created diseases in and caused the deaths of people who used them. Witness the federal prosecution and criminal fines levied against drug companies like Pfizer, Astra Zeneca and Eli Lily. Witness drugs like statins shown in a study of 4 million people to be of no benefit at all to most of the people who were prescribed them but did cause heart attacks and strokes. Witness drugs like anti-depressants proven to work by placebo only but do cause suicidal ideation and actions.

2. Homeopathy has been proven to have biological effects and to be safe and effective in a wide array of health conditions in 600 studies. 200 clinical trials have been published in 102 respected, national and international peer-reviewed journals.

People turn to homeopathy (and other CAM medicines) because it works, because it’s safe and because it’s those things along with being inexpensive.

ReallyGoodMedicine says:
7 June 2013

Guy….

Just as there is a campaign being waged in the UK against all types of CAM medicine (by people with private agendas based on economics or ideology) a campaign of the same sort was waged against homeopathy in Brazil by the magician James Randi. Randi trashed homeopathy in every place that would give him time, on TV, in print, on the radio. The upshot of it all was that the Brazilian people were disgusted with Randi and his tirades. They trust and value homeopathy and have used it as their traditional medicine for a very long time. They waged their own public campaign against Randi in the press. In the end the Brazilian government charged Randi with sedition (homeopathy is a medical specialty in Brazil and supported by the government) and made him Persona Non Grata. He can never enter Brazil again.

avilian.co.uk/2013/02/big-pharmas-ploti-against-homeopathy-in-brazil/

Alan Henness says:
7 June 2013

ReallyGoodMedicine:

“there is a campaign being waged in the UK against all types of CAM medicine (by people with private agendas based on economics or ideology) ”

What campaign is that?

ReallyGoodMedicine says:
7 June 2013

My first thought is “Why is an engineer with no knowledge of homeopathy, a person who has never used it, commenting on it at all?” You’ve claimed on other forums that homeopaths haven’t proved its core principles. It’s already been pointed out to you that those principles are proven every single day by every single homeopath around the world.

Example:

Law of Similars: The homeopath takes the case and prescribes the remedy best suited to the totality of the patient’s symptoms and most appropriate to his/her constitutional type. The patient usually improves or is cured.

Law of the Minimum Dose (otherwise known as Hippocrates’s rule “First Do No Harm”): Homeopathic remedies can be adjusted in a myriad of ways so that the patient receives the minimum dose needed by that person no matter how small or how large a dose he needs. The homeopath does this in every single case he or she treats. Con med makes drugs in set amounts. If the minimum amount in a capsule is too much for the patient, me may not be able to use the drug at all. Opening the capsule and pouring some of its contents out doesn’t assure an accurate dose.

ReallyGoodMedicine: I am not aware of any campaign against CAM. Complementary therapies such as massage and physioptherapy are part of evidence-based medicine. It sounds like projection to me: homeopaths, for example, have been campaigning since forever for a double standard that allows them to make claims without providing evidence, while demanding that actual medicine is held to an impossibly high standard of proof.

Governments have been trying for at least a century to rid us of the plague of quack remedies, so far without success. The total lack of any credible evidence or plausible reason to believe evidence might exist doesn’t seem to be any barrier to selling a product.

It’s interesting that homeopathy believers seem so fixated on a few people. I quite believe that there has been a campaign against Randi, and a cartel of German homeopathy vendors paid a journalist over €40,000 to trash Edzard Ernst’s reputation. This is ironic given the many false accusations of “pharma shill” against skeptics!

So, no, there is no organised campaign against CAM. There is a long-term desire to ensure that health claims are supported by good evidence, and this includes the claims made by pharmaceutical companies, as any follower of Ben Goldacre’s writing will know.

ReallyGoodMedicine: Your assertion that I have “no knowledge of homeopathy” is plainly wrong. I see the source of your error, though: you have succumbed to the faulty logic which holds that a person who cannot speak Klingon is unqualified to discuss space travel.

The “law of similars” as posited by Hanhemann, is not a law of nature or even a useful starting point for investigation. That’s before one gets down to considering the spurious grounds on which homeopaths decide what constitutes a similar.

What you stated is closer to Hahnemann’s doctrine of “simplex”, the idea that two different individuals would be cured by a different “remedy” despite having an identical disease. This is also not a law of nature and not useful medically.

Ditto your statement of the “law of minimum dose”, which is also not a law at all, merely a doctrine. Your attribution to Hippocrates is false, he made as far as I can tell no pronouncements on dilutions, but if you genuinely think Hippocrates is regarded as an authority you might want to check a modern anatomy book and compare it with the ideas prevalent in his time. If you were to apply “first do no harm” literally, it would preclude any surgery. Nobody in their right minds adopts such a literal interpretation nowadays, and even Hahnemann was only really reacting against the now (justly) discarded practice of “heroic medicine”.

You seem to be very confused about many things. Are you genuinely not aware that drugs are available in different doses? And sometimes a patient is instructed to take half a tablet at a time, allowing even more flexibility?

It’s true that medicine does not follow the elaborate theatre of homeopathy, but that’s because medicine is using products that generally work, whereas homeopaths are basically shamen dancing the “healing dance” and giving out confectionery.

RGM: the skeptic mantra is “show me proof”. It is the only sure way to separate truth from delusion. Homeopathy has many mantras, but no actual proof.

But here’s a challenge for you. By what objective test would you distinguish between the claims of Jim Humble, Harry Hoxsey, Max Gerson, Hulda Regehr Clark, Wilhelm Reich, Marshall and Warren, and Samuel Hahnemann? I have chosen this list to include a graduation, in no particular order, from real scientists to gibbering idiocy. Somewhere along the way a rational person will undoubtedly draw the line.

Alan,
in reply to this……………“there is a campaign being waged in the UK against all types of CAM medicine (by people with private agendas based on economics or ideology) ”

you said this………….”What campaign is that”?

The campaign of the Skeptics, as if you didn’t know of course.

Really good posts ReallyGoodMedicine.
Many thanks for your contributions as I agree with absolutely everything you have said.

The problem is that when you are confronted by so many “Skeptics” it is difficult to hold your own against such odds.
This may enlighten you as to what we are up against……………

The modern skeptical paradox is that a philosophy based on questioning all sides of a particular argument now finds itself harnessed to the ‘anti-natural’ cause. Such skeptics, typified by organisations such as Sense About Science, appear to find themselves firmly in a pro-GM, pro-mainstream medicine, anti-natural healthcare position. For a start, if skepticism leads us to question all sides of an argument – to reject the intrinsic ‘rightness’ of any position – how can the skeptics be so loudly pro-mainstream medicine and against all the alternatives? What scientific data are they using to support the very dubious view that genetically modified (GM) crops will resolve world hunger? Strictly speaking, it should be impossible for skeptics to describe themselves as ‘pro-science’ or ‘pro-technology’, since that clearly associates them with a belief in the correctness of modern science – an utterly non-skeptical position!
Not only that, but while philosophical skepticism has had enormous influence on the modern scientific process, the modern skeptic turns his or her back on the scientific method by ignoring centuries of human experience – and the clinical experience being gathered every day by practitioners – as ‘anecdote’. Only randomized, controlled trials in human subjects will do to prove any treatment approach worthy of consideration. So, it seems that the ‘pro-science’ ‘skeptics’ are actually in some respects ‘anti-science’, and they’re certainly not skeptics. Their position is effectively a form of intellectual fraud — and that’s being very kind.

Alan Henness says:
7 June 2013

chrisb1

You said:

“there is a campaign being waged in the UK against all types of CAM medicine (by people with private agendas based on economics or ideology)”

What private agendas and what exactly do you believe they are based on?

Chris: We know you agree with RGM, since it’s pretty obvious you called him in 🙂

I can’t speak for the others you have mentioned Guy, but of Max Gerson MD. Dr Albert Schweitzer had this to say…………………….
“I see in him one of the most eminent geniuses in the history of medicine. Many of his basic ideas have been adopted without having his name connected with them. Yet, he has achieved more than seemed possible under adverse conditions. He leaves a legacy which commands attention and which will assure him his due place. Those whom he has cured will now attest to the truth of his ideas.”

And…………..
“Famed thoracic surgeon, Ferdinand Sauerbruch, M.D, kept Dr. Gerson under supervision and established a special skin tuberculosis treatment program at the German Munich University Hospital. In a carefully monitored clinical trial, 446 out of 450 skin tuberculosis patients treated with the Gerson diet recovered completely. Dr. Sauerbruch and Dr. Gerson simultaneously published articles in a dozen of the world’s leading medical journals, establishing the Gerson treatment as the first cure for skin tuberculosis”.

I expect you will cast a “Skeptics” eye on this.

Chris: There is no such group as the Skeptics. Skeptics are just people who apply critical thinking.

Now if you were to assert that there is a widespread campaign by homeopathy believers to push for funding of homeopathy on the NHS despite the lack of credible evidence, and to attack the Advertising Standards Authority for holding them to normal standards of evidence, then you’d be right – there’s overwhelming evidence to support that.

If you were to assert that homeopaths have been paying people to rubbish their critics, then that, too, would be supportable from credible independent evidence.

I don’t know anybody who is paid to knock homeopathy, I know plenty of people who promote it because it’s their main source of income. Exactly like the “big pharma” drugs papers you bleat about, in fact. Odd, that.

ReallyGoodMedicine says:
7 June 2013

Guy Chapman,

You say “….the ‘skeptic’ mantra is ‘show me proof'”.

True critics amend their views when shown the evidence. You’ve been shown reams of the very best evidence that could be presented about any form of medicine. You simply prefer to continue clinging to your own personal belief that homeopathy doesn’t work. In fact, the critics of homeopathy KNOW it works and are threatened by that fact financially or ideologically.

“show me proof”………..You studiously avoid making that very demand of conventional medicine. You don’t comment on the BMJ analysis chrisb1 noted in which 15% of the treatments tested were found to be evidence based, that is, proven to be beneficial. You avoid two other recent BMJ analyses. The first was of 2,500 treatments, and it found 13% were evidence-based, proven to be beneficial. The most recent was of 3,000 common treatments offered on the NHS. It found that only 11% of those treatments were evidence based, proven to be beneficial. The BMJ notes about these findings “….the figures above suggest that the research community has a large task ahead and that most decisions about treatments still rest on the individual judgements of clinicians and patients.”

http://clinicalevidence.bmj.com/x/set/static/cms/efficacy-categorisations.html

In reality, it appears that con med is moving backwards rather than forward in being able to call itself an evidence-based system of medicine.

Guy,
“We know you agree with RGM, since it’s pretty obvious you called him in”.

I do not know RGM and have never to my knowledge met him/her or being in any way been in contact.
You presuppose one step too far.

ReallyGoodMedicine says:
7 June 2013

chrisb1…..

Many thanks to you for putting accurate and quality information in the public view. I certainly do agree with your comments. “Skeptics” ARE committing intellectual fraud…….anti-science (in fact a perversion of true science through their adoption of “scientism”)……again, intellectual fraud….very well put.

Dr. Samuel Hahnemann himself practiced pure science in his development of homeopathy. His works are the result of his very careful observations of phenomena, rigorous experimentation and repeatable verification. His is a purely descriptive method rather than a theoretical science. He taught that the unique characteristics of a sick person can’t be reduced to some imagined theme/theory. Per Dr. Joel Shepperd, “The many symptoms enrich the reality, and each phenomena is an essential part of a concrete wholeness. This method of science is called the phenomenological science of nature or Goethean science.”

ReallyGoodMedicine says:
7 June 2013

My, my, my…….dear me, Guy! Firstly, I’m a woman, actually an elderly woman with much experience of both con med and homeopathy. One works. One doesn’t. One creates disease. One doesn’t. One ends people and government agencies in bankruptcy (almost all personal bankruptcies in the U.S. result from medical costs). One doesn’t.

No one “called” me “in”. No one has to.

RGM: Yeah, right, because skeptics are all paid by big pharma whereas homeopaths only shill homeopathy for love, and they profit from it in a completely separate parallel universe so there’s no conflict of interest.

Or something.

So, if you’re this hot on intellectual honesty, (a) why have you not castigated Dana Ullman for his false claims about the HTA report; (b) why have you not criticised him for repeating the false claims even after they were specifically refuted by the an official of the Swiss government and (c) why have you implicitly repeated those claims yourself despite the fact that the refutation by the Swiss official is now well known?

So, Chris, instead of answering the question, you uncritically promote yet another crank.

I will repeat my earlier question: is there any idea considered irrational by the scientific community, which you agree is irrational?

Guy, “There is no such group as the Skeptics. Skeptics are just people who apply critical thinking”………………………..when you actually mean “critical thinking” that is not applied to your own medical agendas and belief systems.

It has become patently obvious that it is the same band of brothers I refer to as “Skeptics” who have joined in most all of the WHICH investigations into “alternatives”: the first being into the advice given by Nutritional Therapists, where the discussion at that time escalated into denigrating all things alternative by the very same people who grace these pages. Just one example being acupuncture and nutrition generally.

The mere mention of anything “alternative” or of CAM to these people, and it is dismissed out of hand, despite the scientific evidence that supports its use, and their is voluminous scientific evidence to support much of it.

This means that you fail the test of “critical thinking” as you do not apply it to Mainstream Medicine.
Critical thinking is reflective reasoning about any and all beliefs and actions. It is a way of deciding whether a claim is always true, sometimes true, partly true, or false. Your critical thinking only seems to revolve around anything that is non-mainstream.

RGM,
you have my total respect.
Thank you for your posts too they are very enlightening.
I was feeling quite outnumbered and lonely until you appeared; you can smell if not feel the “restrained animosity” from what I can only call this “group of Skeptics”, who actually congregate in unison on these WHICH investigations into non-mainstream health modalities.
They have a vendetta and are blind to the science and the evidence. There is a word for this to describe attitudes like this, but I would be censored forthwith.

I am so glad you are here and hope you will stay for as long as you feel able.

Alan Henness says:
7 June 2013

chrisb1 said:

“It has become patently obvious that it is the same band of brothers I refer to as “Skeptics” who have joined in most all of the WHICH investigations into “alternatives”: the first being into the advice given by Nutritional Therapists, where the discussion at that time escalated into denigrating all things alternative by the very same people who grace these pages. Just one example being acupuncture and nutrition generally.”

Are they like the homeopathists, etc who have joined in most all of the WHICH investigations into “alternatives”?

Maria says:
7 June 2013

A week ago Chrisb1 said, without a trace of irony, “I respect your views … Maria,”

He later said this: “There’s (snip) Maria: the five musketeers who adamantly refuse to accept anything on health grounds unless it is medically approved and based on the false notion of being “evidence-based”.”

And this: “Maria, it is the “role of science” to discover that mechanism, and not down play it just because you do not understand it! Dismissing this is just out and out bias and prejudice.”

And finally this: “Sorry Maria, but this comment of yours is just unbelievably ignorant of the facts……………”

I’ve looked back at the very few comments I’ve made here to see if there is any justification for these allegations. Have I, for example, said anything at all about ‘refusing to accept anything on health grounds unless it is medically approved, etc.? Have I dismissed anything you’ve put forward? No and no. What I have done is ask you questions, follow your references and point out that they don’t say what you seem to think they say. I have not been rude or nasty to you and I certainly haven’t accused you of ignorance or bias or prejudice.

When Joanna Pearl invited me to join this discussion, I expressed reluctance and it was your posting style that I had in mind. I really wonder why it is so difficult for you to maintain a modicum of civility when responding to CIVIL comments like my own and why you insist on lumping all posters who disagree with you together.

I take very strong exception to your last comment accusing me of being “unbelievably ignorant” and I note that you made no attempt to justify it. Let’s look again at what I said that provoked this piece of nastiness from you. I said,

“Forget appeals to popularity. Bloodletting was practised for many centuries because physicians from many different cultures “knew” that it worked. But it doesn’t. Some people recovered after it but we know now that it is mostly harmful and probably killed untold numbers of people.”

So what exactly are you disputing here, Chris? What are the facts that you claim I am “unbelievably ignorant” of? What I said about bloodletting is common knowledge and it is a rational response to the argument ad populum that you put forward. If you don’t agree, then you are at liberty to explain why but if you can’t manage to do that without being insulting, then don’t bother.

One more thing. You said:

“Five major systematic reviews have also been carried out to analyse the balance of evidence from RCTs of homeopathy – four were positive (Kleijnen, J, et al; Linde, K, et al; Linde, K, et al; Cucherat, M, et al) and one was negative (Shang, A et al).”

Let’s have a closer look at those “positive” results.

1. Kleijnen et al, 1991, meta-analysis, 107 trials.

“CONCLUSIONS: At the moment the evidence of clinical trials is positive but not sufficient to draw definitive conclusions because most trials are of low methodological quality and because of the unknown role of publication bias. This indicates that there is a legitimate case for further evaluation of homoeopathy, but only by means of well performed trials.”

2. Boissel et al, 1996, critical literature review commissioned by the European Commission Homeopathic Medicine Research Group, 184 trials. Boissel controversially combined p-values of the highest quality trials to arrive at this conclusion:

“From the available evidence it is likely that among the tested homoeopathic approaches some had an added effect over nothing or placebo….but the strength of this evidence is low because of the low methodological quality of the trials.”

3. Cucherat et al 2000, used the same data as Boissel but with the addition of at least two more trials. Boissel was one of the four-strong research team and authored the report, which concluded:

“There is some evidence that homeopathic treatments are more effective than placebo; however, the strength of this evidence is low because of the low methodological quality of the trials. Studies of high methodological quality were more likely to be negative than the lower quality studies. Further high quality studies are needed to confirm these results.”

By the way, early in 2010, science writer Martin Robbins wrote: “I spoke to Jean-Pierre Boissel, an author on two of the four papers cited (Boissel et al and Cucherat et al), who was surprised at the way his work had been interpreted.

‘My review did not reach the conclusion ‘that homeopathy differs from placebo’, he said, pointing out that what he and his colleagues actually found was evidence of considerable bias in results, with higher quality trials producing results less favourable to homeopathy.”

You’ll find Robbins article in the Guardian online.

4. Linde 1997, meta-analysis, 89 trials.

“The results of our meta-analysis are not compatible with the hypothesis that the clinical effects of homeopathy are completely due to placebo. However, we found insufficient evidence from these studies that homeopathy is clearly efficacious for any single clinical condition. Further research on homeopathy is warranted provided it is rigorous and systematic.”

So this, Chris, is what you call “positive’. Really?

Linde produced a follow-up paper in 1999, which concluded:

“The evidence of bias [in homeopathic trials] weakens the findings of our original meta-analysis. Since we completed our literature search in 1995, a considerable number of new homeopathy trials have been published. The fact that a number of the new high-quality trials… have negative results, and a recent update of our review for the most “original” subtype of homeopathy (classical or individualized homeopathy), seem to confirm the finding that more rigorous trials have less-promising results. It seems, therefore, likely that our meta-analysis at least overestimated the effects of homeopathic treatments.”

Finally, it is my pleasure to point out that Linde co-authored a brief article in the Lancet in December 2005. in which he wrote,

“We agree (with Shang et al) that homoeopathy is highly implausible and that the evidence from placebo-controlled trials is not robust…Our 1997 meta-analysis has unfortunately been misused by homoeopaths as evidence that their therapy is proven.:

It is not I who is the ignorant one around here, Chris.

Maria: It’s also misleading to quote the 1997 Linde without the 1999 followup, which reinforced the fact that the positive results are down to bias, and that outcomes reduce as study quality increases.

In fact the consensus of meta-analyses is that there is no convincing evidence of any specific effect or any clinical effect beyond placebo.

In point of fact I am not aware of any reputably published study of homeopathy that shows any specific effect, they all appear to either assume specificity without testing it or be nonspecific effects.

Chris: I have been a paid-up member of the Consumers’ Association for at least a decade. Now, would you please a swer my question: can you identify something considered irrational by the scientific community which you agree is irrational. So far every time I have identified a crank, quack, crook, charlatan or batshit crazy theory, you have turned out to believe in it. I’d like to see if there is any common ground at all.

Guy – I reproduce this encouraging post from chrisb, dated 29 January 2012, in response to a comment from Alan Henness:

Alan,
that is your opinion and I respect that. All I have done is present the evidence, and it is up to any individual to conclude as they wish.

I have stated in a recent post, that there is indeed quackery on both sides of the health coin, and where iridology and hair mineral analysis are probably two cases in point, but this should not discount other alternatives which have been demonstrated to work, and work very effectively in the recovery of health and the success they have against all manner of diseases.

Good. So, Chris, what is he essential objective difference between iridology and homeopathy?

ReallyGoodMedicine says:
8 June 2013

82% of rheumatoid arthritis patients in this study got relief with homeopathy as compared to placebo

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16296

Homeopathic arnica applied to hands equal to ibuprofen in reduction of pain and improvement in hand function

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17318618

Homeopathy shown to be superior to con med in this study of fibromyalgia

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19358959

Homeopathy shown to be superior to con med in this study of 782 patients with diseases of major organs – 52% of h’pathy patients were able to reduce use of con med and lower costs; 89% of h’pathy patients found it improved their conditions; 55% of con med patients found it worsened their conditions

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14960096

This study showed that homeopathy produced significantly better results in treating acute rhinopharyngitis in children than anti-biotics

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15751328

This study showed that a homeopathic syrup reduced cough severity and sputum viscosity with no adverse effects

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23714686

The homeopathy group in this study experienced faster healing of bone fractures compared to placebo group with lowered use of analgesics and less pain

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6882/12/S1/O61

This study shows that patients who seek homeopathic treatment are likely to improve considerably and that the improvements last up to 8 years

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/8/413

The use of anti-biotics in the initial treatment of acute otitis media is being questioned. This study showed that the homeopathy group had a significant decrease in symptoms at 24 and 64 hours after treatment

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11224838

These studies showed that homeopathy is effective in treating asthma/allergies

Wiesenauer & Ludtke, 1987
Mosquera, 1990
Castellsagu, 1992
Noeleveaux, 1992
Wiesenauer & Ludtke, 1995
Matusiewicg, 1995, 1996, 1997
Eizayaga, 1996
Lora-Marquez, 1997
Miccihi, 1998
Riveron-Garrote, 1998
Frenkel & Hermoni, 2002
Kim, 2005
Witt, 2005
Colin, 2006

(To Be Continued)

Maria says:
8 June 2013

Sorry to have to be the one to break it you, RGM and Sandra, but personal anecdotes aren’t going to persuade anyone with their critical faculties intact. In the interests of balance, let’s have a few stories from the coroners courts. (Note: when an anecdote is backed by a coroner’s report, it stops being an anecdote and becomes data).

1. From a story from 1991 that featured in the now defunct New Zealand Science Monthly:

“In a Coroner’s Court late last year, a mother described how she had refused antibiotics for her baby’s ear infection, preferring to take homeopathic advice. Two weeks after the initial consultation, the baby was taken again to the homeopath, who expressed concern about its poor health but who did not suggest seeking conventional medical treatment.

The mother, a registered nurse, commented that the symptoms looked like meningitis and, two days later, took her baby to her regular doctor. The doctor insisted on the baby being hospitalised immediately and noted that it took some time to convince the mother to do this.

The consultant paediatrician at Wellington Hospital, Dr Thorston Stanley, reported a “great sense of frustration in dealing with the mother, who opposed him every step of the way”. Despite intensive treatment, the child died a week later from brain damage as a result of bacterial meningitis.”

2. Cameron Ayres

“A couple’s faith in alternative medicine led to the death of their six month old son, an inquest heard yesterday. Cameron Ayres died from a hereditary condition which caused severe nappy rash and a swelling of his liver and stomach. But Coroner Alison Thompson said: “With conventional medicine it would have been diagnosed and the child could have expected a normal life span.” Cameron’s parents refused to take him to a doctor, instead visiting a homeopath who begged them to have him treated using conventional means.

3. Gloria Thomas

In 2009, New South Wales Supreme Court sentenced Thomas Sam and his wife Manju, for at least six years and four years in jail respectively for the manslaughter of their eczema-stricken daughter. Both were accused of “gross criminal negligence” by failing to get proper treatment for their nine-month-old baby, Gloria Thomas, relying instead on homeopathic remedies. She died in Sydney in May 2002 from an infection her body could not fight.

“Thomas Sam’s arrogant approach to his preference for homeopathy above conventional medicine, and Manju Sam’s deference to her husband, had led to Gloria’s death,” said Justice Peter Johnson.

4. Malka Sitna

Malka was the one-year-old daughter of American Israelis. She died after they had disregarded a doctor’s prescription of antibiotics to treat her high fever, and instead turned to a homeopath.

5. Isabella Denley

In a statement to the coroner’s court, the father of 13-month-old epileptic Isabella said the family replaced her anti-convulsant medication with a homeopathic remedy in the weeks before she died.

6. Japanese baby

A two-month-old baby girl died of a cerebral haemorrhage in Japan after she was given a homeopathic treatment by a midwife instead of the normal treatment of vitamin K.
Janeza Podgoršek

7. 42 year-old Podgoršek died because he believed a homeopath’s claim that homeopathy would work to prevent him getting malaria and, when it didn’t, he believed the homeopath’s claim to be able to treat the malaria he’d caught.

8. Lady Victoria Waymouth

Waymouth, referred to at her inquest as “Mrs A.”, died in August 2004 at the age of 57, a few days after a doctor friend told her to stop taking her usual heart medication and to only take homeopathic treatment. The doctor was subsequently found guilty of professional misconduct.

9. Penelope Dingle who desperately wanted to live but who was misinformed by those she trusted most and, instead of having the surgery that might have saved her life, she relied instead on homeopathy to treat her rectal cancer. The full story is told in the documentary called Death by Homeopathy, which can be seen on youtube.

So homeopathy works does it?

ReallyGoodMedicine says:
8 June 2013

–Continued–

Homeopathy reduces swelling and bruising after plastic surgery

Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, 2006

Homeopathic arsenicum alb. has an effect on white blood cells

International Journal of Molecular Science, 2012

This study showed that homeopathy patients suffering chronic pain from musculoskeletal disorders were able to reduce their use of con med by 50%. Those with acute pain were able to reduce con med by 38%.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22782803

This study showed that homeopathic patients with sinusitis had improvement that lasted 8 years

http://www.citeulike.org/user/bhengeveld/article/5285714

And there are many, many more.

Alan Henness says:
8 June 2013

Oops! You posted that in the wrong place, but I’ll point it out to Sandra in case she misses it.

ReallyGoodMedicine says:
8 June 2013

Eh?

Alan Henness says:
8 June 2013

Maria was responding to Sandra’s comment about anecdotes that is currently at the very bottom of this page, but it’s ended up here by mistake.

ReallyGoodMedicine says:
8 June 2013

Once again, Maria, eh?

Alan Henness says:
8 June 2013

Eh?

ReallyGoodMedicine says:
8 June 2013

So, Guy……

you’re still side-stepping the fact that only 11% of the treatments offered on the NHS are backed by evidence. You’re still avoiding answering that one, single most important question: “Why aren’t you campaigning against the other 89% of treatments offered on the NHS that aren’t evidenced based? Why are you campaigning only against homeopathy — which IS evidence based?”

Guy,
“So far every time I have identified a crank, quack, crook, charlatan or batshit crazy theory, you have turned out to believe in it”.

I do not believe in chemtrails Guy. Mercola is a qualified Doctor. Gerson was lauded by some of his medical contemporaries. The jury is still out for me re’ Andrew Wakefield until after his legal case is finalized. Dana Ullman may have a criminal record but that does not negate the validity of his writings, unless we all need to qualify as “Saints” before we put pen to paper.

RGM: I am not sidestepping anything, that false assertion has already been debunked and in any case plainly cannot validate using something which is 0% evidence based (homeopathy) instead.

Just remind me again, who wrote “Bad Pharma” and co-founded the all trials initiative, was it a skeptic or a homeopath? Clue: his name is Ben Goldacre.

Chris: Right, so you don’t believe in chemtrails. Now lets contrast that with a conspiracy theory you do believe in: aspartame, say. Good example as the same site you use as a source for one, promotes both.

What essential feature of the chemtrail conspiracy leads you to reject it, when you accept the aspartame conspiracy? What is the stand-out feature? Both are contradicted by every governmental analysis or statement, both are implausible, both are promoted by cranks who are, i the main, not specialists in the field. There are many similarities, what, to you, is the essential difference?

Maria says:
8 June 2013

My comment naming some of the victims of homeopaths was intended for both RGM and Sandra.

For Sandra because of her list of anecdotes and for RGM because of her comment comparing mainstream medicine with homeopathy. She said, “One works. One doesn’t.” I think it’s fair to assume she was arguing that homeopathy is the one that words so I countered that with a few examples of it not working. Sorry if my purpose wasn’t clear enough.

Maria says:
8 June 2013

Oh and please note that the victims I mentioned were either being kept alive by modern medicine or they were from conditions that modern medicine could successfully treat. In light of this, you might like to reconsider your suggestion that mainstream medicine doesn’t work and that homeopathy does, RGM.

Alan Henness says:
8 June 2013

RGM

You’ve obviously not read all the comments here and on the previous thread, so please explain where you get your 11% figure from.

Maria, you said……………

“A week ago Chrisb1 said, without a trace of irony, “I respect your views … Maria,”
He later said this: “There’s (snip) Maria: the five musketeers who adamantly refuse to accept anything on health grounds unless it is medically approved and based on the false notion of being “evidence-based”.”
And this: “Maria, it is the “role of science” to discover that mechanism, and not down play it just because you do not understand it! Dismissing this is just out and out bias and prejudice.”
And finally this: “Sorry Maria, but this comment of yours is just unbelievably ignorant of the facts……………”

“I’ve looked back at the very few comments I’ve made here to see if there is any justification for these allegations. Have I, for example, said anything at all about ‘refusing to accept anything on health grounds unless it is medically approved” etc.?

Probably not, but I assumed (perhaps incorrectly) you belong to the same stable as Guy, Alan and Robin, and have always taken sides with them. It is not my experience of you from previous posts that you have in any way been impartial or objective.

“Have I dismissed anything you’ve put forward”?

If my memory serves me correctly yes, and from the discussion/debate we had on Nutritional Therapy.

“You have followed my references and point out that they don’t say what you seem to think they say”.

That may be correct for some of the references I have given, but by no means the vast majority of them.

“I have not been rude or nasty to you and I certainly haven’t accused you of ignorance or bias or prejudice”.

No you have not been rude or nasty to me, but what you are mistaking this for is really a dose of sarcasm and fact. I referred to your bias and prejudice (probably uncalled for) because of your comment concerning all of the deaths and harm caused by Homeopathy, and which is blatant nonsense.
If you feel aggrieved by what I have said to you then I offer you my sincere apologies.

When Joanna Pearl invited me to join this discussion, I expressed reluctance and it was your posting style that I had in mind. I really wonder why it is so difficult for you to maintain a modicum of civility when responding to CIVIL comments like my own and why you insist on lumping all posters who disagree with you together.

“Bloodletting was practised for many centuries because physicians from many different cultures “knew” that it worked. But it doesn’t. Some people recovered after it but we know now that it is mostly harmful and probably killed untold numbers of people.”…….

Indeed Maria, but bloodletting is still practiced today in some specific medical diseases!!!
http://articles.latimes.com/2001/aug/06/health/he-31093

“So what exactly are you disputing here, Chris? What are the facts that you claim I am “unbelievably ignorant” of?

The number of deaths and harm caused by Homeopathy.

The studies you refer to may have been flawed on Homeopathy Maria, so thank you for pointing that out, but that does not include the majority of studies which finds a significant benefit over and above that of placebo alone.

Have a nice day.

Alan: We seem to have reached the point where the tru believers list every single study supportive of homeopathy in the apparent belief that this somehow counters the consensus from systematic reviews including those papers.

What would be more interesting is a few concrete statements of how they believe it works. Normally this results in an even split between obvious nonsense and arm-waving, but you never know.

To Maria…

Fact: If mainstream medicine were so effective, patients would not seek alternatives. The examples you cited of people dying because they sought homeopathy mean nothing. I have seen articles that point to mainstream medicine as the CAUSE of a patient’s demise. Sad because it is possible that early intervention by homeopathy could have had a much different outcome. Unfortunately, in many cases, the patients find out about homeopathy too late; i.e., after they have had chemotherapy or radiation. Of course homeopathy cannot heal them after so much systemic, organ and tissue damage has been done by “real medicine.” Mainstream medicine gives patients false hope while they are draining their bank accounts and my favorite…”we’re working towards a cure!”. I witnessed a lot of suffering at the hands of “real medicine” in my four years working as a medical transcriptionist and teacher at a major cancer research and treatment center in the Southwestern U.S.

I am alive today because of homeopathy. Mainstream medicine did not recognize that I was dying of mercury poisoning. I was told my pain, weight loss and inability to concentrate was “all in your head”. My, and others’ “anecdotal stories” in the minds of the detractors are not scientific proof, reproducible, double-blind, etc. Rather, stories and testimonials such as mine and millions of others speak to the common man. That is all that matters.

Alan Henness says:
8 June 2013

Sandra said:

“Fact: If mainstream medicine were so effective, patients would not seek alternatives.”

There are so many implied assumptions in you simplistic statement.

Mainstream medicine does not claim to be able to cure everything, nor does it try. It does, however, continually research conditions in an attempt to understand them and find some kind of a treatment that is beneficial.

And just because mainstream medicine cannot offer any beneficial treatment does not mean that any alternative is effective.

And just because people seek alternatives does not mean that those alternatives are effective.

There is no doubt that some people feel that an alternative treatment is beneficial to them and that they believe it works, but that does not mean that the treatment actually does work. That’s why we need robust, independent trials to ensure we understand what’s going on and what the actual benefits of any specific treatment is, not just what someone thinks the effects the treatment had on them.

But the key to your misapprehensions about conventional treatments would seem to stem from your failure to consider the benefit-harm decision that has to be made for any treatment. Most conventional treatments have the ability to harm – that’s because they have pharmacological effects – but they also have the power to do tremendous good. All doctors should provide their patients with information on both the potential benefits and potential harms of a treatment so that an informed decision can be made. That does sometime mean accepting possible side-effects as a consequence of a condition being greatly relieved. That’s a decision for them and their doctor and different patients may come to different decisions about the same treatment. That’s entirely up to them – the important point is that such decisions must be fully informed. That is what really matters.

Alan: Just so. Medicine is imperfect therefore the laws of physics and everything we know about human physiology should be discarded whenever we visit a practitioner? Not in the least bit persuasive.

Maria says:
8 June 2013

Sandra

You said, “Fact: If mainstream medicine were so effective, patients would not seek alternatives.”

If I may borrow one of your favourite expressions: straw man. There are many reasons why people try alternatives, failures of mainstream medicine is but one of them. However, none of this has any bearing on whether homeopathy works or not.

You have nothing but personal anecdotes, claiming that these are what “speak to the common man”. I agree with you. It was anecdotes like these that led me to waste money I couldn’t afford on various alternative therapies, including homeopathy. More importantly, it was anecdotes like these that led those people I listed to place their faith in homeopathy with such tragic consequences. The fact that people have died because they believed in the kind nonsense you are promoting may mean nothing to you but they are the reason I am motivated to challenge the claims made by apologists like yourself and others here.

The fact is, Sandra, that you don’t *know* that homeopathy did any of the things you claim for it and the only way we can know is testing it in a way that eliminates bias. This isn’t a controversial view. Other homeopathists – Nancy Malik, in particular – post reference after reference of what they claim to be positive trials for homeopathy. Unfortunately, as I have already pointed out, these trials invariably turn out to be less positive than supposed. Anyone can cherry-pick a trial but the totality of scientific evidence available to us demonstrates overwhelmingly that homeopathy is a crock. I can assure you that nobody is sorrier than I am that this is the case.

I don’t enjoy spending weeks waiting for medical appointments and then spending hours sitting in hospital waiting rooms that are packed with other people and their loathsome diseases. (I’m afraid there is not one iota of evidence that the British public are abandoning the real doctors and modern medicines used by our National Health Service, which makes the likes of RGM’s suggestion that attacking homeopathy is beneficial to Big Pharma all the more ludicrous). If only homeopathy worked, I’m sure many of us would be queuing up to train as homeopaths. Given the prices some of my local homeopaths are charging – up to £90 for an initial consultation and up to £50 for every follow-up appointment – it would seem that, if only they can get enough people to believe in it, a decent living could be made from homeopathy even in a country like ours where good quality medical care is available to all regardless of insurance status.

But until you come up with evidence that the scientific consensus accepts as proof that homeopathy works then all you have are stories of what you believe to be true and, as I said before, for most of us they just don’t cut the mustard.

ReallyGoodMedicine says:
8 June 2013

@Maria……

Let’s take a closer look at the cases of harm you claim can be attributed to homeopathy. The material you posted was gleaned from newspaper stories instead of from reliable, documented medical sources. It was then posted to whatstheharm, a “skeptic” site used to post just such material for other “skeptics” to re-post on internet forums. None of what you posted contains enough verified medical information to come to any accurate understanding of the facts in these cases.

You first mention a case involving ear infections. Studies show that homeopathy very effectively addresses ear infections, something that is important considering the fact that anti-biotics are being questioned as initial treatments. Homeopathy is proven to be equal to con med.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11224838
http://www.nationalcenterforhomeopathy.org/content/study-shows-homeopathy-for-respiratory-and-ear-complaints-just-as-effective-as-conventional-treatment

Cameron Ayres — The homeopath recommended seeing a conventional doctor clearly believing that an intervention (what kind isn’t specified – surgical?) was needed that she could not provide. No coroner or any other medical professional is able to guarantee that any patient will recover from any specific condition with any treatment or go on to lead a normal life.

Gloria Thomas — The child was treated with con med and homeopathy. Studies show homeopathy to be as effective as con med and that it improves patients’s conditions when added to con med:

http://www.nationalcenterforhomeopathy.org/content/research-on-eczema-homeopathic-medicine

Topical con med treatments are linked to skin cancer and lymphoma. No caring parent would want to expose their child to that risk. No medicine including con med can guarantee to cure every patient with eczema so claiming that it can is negligent. Convicting Gloria’s parents by making this claim is ludicrous. Here’s a case of a young woman who received every possible conventional treatment and died at 16 covered with sores.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1292047

Malka Sitna — Tylenol and ibuprofen are used to reduce fever NOT anti-biotics.

Isabela Denley — Her family chose to stop her anti-convulsant, but the circumstances of that decision are not detailed. There is no record of what homeopathic remedy might have been prescribed or if what was used actually was homeopathic.

Japanese baby — Homeopaths do not treat vitamin deficiencies. There is no mention of what condition the homeopath was treating or what remedies were used or even a verification that person was indeed a homeopath. The best advice on deficiencies would have come from a pediatrician or specialist in vitamin therapy.

Podogorsek — There is no effective conventional vaccine against malaria available today. The hope is to have one by 2025. Homeopathy has a long history of successful treatment of malaria.

sueyounghistories.com/archives/2010/04/22/a-homeopathic-history-of-malaria/

Lady A — Taken again from a newspaper story which claims only that she was taking “homeopathic remedies” and providing no reliable medical details. Considering the general confusion between homeopathy and herbal medicine, the reporter could well be mistaken in reporting that she used homeopathy.

As sad and tragic as these cases are, they are far from being an indictment of homeopathy. The details of them can be seen at:

http://www.whatstheharm.net/homeopathy.html

Finally, these cases don’t even begin to approach the numbers of Americans, 784,000 each year, who die as a result of using con med and con care. AND that is only Americans!

Maria, you said………..

“Sorry to have to be the one to break it you, RGM and Sandra, but personal anecdotes aren’t going to persuade anyone with their critical faculties intact”.

Funny then how we tend to rely on “personal anecdotes” or recommendations from others when we use other services or products: examples would be perhaps a driving instructor, or a yoga teacher, or a washing machine, television sets, ad infinitum………………….personal anecdotes are part and parcel of everyday life, because we have a need to ensure we receive the best available, rather than have to rely on sponsored advertising from the manufacturer intent on making a profit.
Funny how “wellness” is excluded isn’t it.?

I believe it was the Chinese who operated a system of healthcare where the Doctor was only paid if he/she kept their patients well, and their income would go down proportionately if the number of patients became ill. So if all of their patients were ill they would have no income.!!!!

If this system were adopted here, we would have a lot of poor Doctors if the NHS is anything to go by.

Wavechange,
not entirely sure what point you are trying to make here when you have quoted me from a previous post……………….

I said……………

“I have stated in a recent post, that there is indeed quackery on both sides of the health coin, and where iridology and hair mineral analysis are PROBABLY two cases in point, but this should not discount other alternatives which have been demonstrated to work, and work very effectively”

I know nothing of Iridology and hair mineral analysis, so I would not dismiss them as easily you would, and why I used the word: PROBABLY, but I know much more on Homeopathy.

Your point being?

Guy, you have said to me………………….

“What essential feature of the chemtrail conspiracy leads you to reject it, when you accept the aspartame conspiracy? What is the stand-out feature”?

What is the “stand-out feature”, between the “chemtrail conspiracy” and the “aspartame conspiracy”?

Simple; the chemtrail conspiracy is exactly that: a conspiracy.

Your alleged “aspartame conspiracy” is NOT a conspiracy: it is scientific evidence from many independent studies that demonstrate quite clearly that aspartame is not safe, and distinctly harmful to health.

Even a child could work that one out Guy.

Try again with something else.

Chris: I asked for a reason, not just a statement of belief.

The aspartame conspiracy theory posits that evidence of aspartame being a deadly toxin is being suppressed. Careful evaluations of large bodies of evidence shows this not to be the case.

Same with chemtrails. Chemtrailers claim they have evidence of problems, evaluations of large bodies of evidence show them to be wrong.

Not a great analogy, autism-MMR would be better but you actually believe that nonsense so we can’t use that to explore the faults in your reasoning. Still and all: what is the essential feature about the claims of chemtrailers that allows you to dismiss them while accepting the claims of aspartame cranks?

RGM: I am very much enjoying the irony of your dismissing newspaper reports as unreliable while citing homeopathy propaganda sites as reliable.

Let’s look at a couple of cases that have been investigated by independent and impartial legal processes.

Penelope Dingle had bowel cancer. It was surgically treatable. Her homeopath persuaded her that it could be cured with homeopathy. After months of agony Penelope Dingle was admitted to hospital with her bowel obstructed by cancer and on the point of rupture. Emergency surgery saved her but the cancer was too far advanced to be cured and she died not long afterwards. The coroner’s report shows that the prognosis at diagnosis was very good, with a high chance of survival, but by using homeopathy instead she suffered agony and humiliation and then died.

Thomas and Manju Sam were convicted of the manslaughter of their daughter Gloria after persisting with homeopathy even when it should have been apparent that she was in deadly danger. The judge spoke of a “wide chasm” between their actions and what a prudent parent would have done.

These are extremes, of course. In reality most people in the West do not rely on homeopathy when they are actually ill. Even so, studies show that believers in alternatives to medicine fare worse with cancer because they delay medical treatment and substitute ineffective treatments for effective ones.

As we all know, homeopathy is a reaction to medicine as practiced in 1800. Homeopaths still use Hahnemann’s rhetoric against medicine even though medicine has changed beyond all recognition. In 1800 it probably was safer going to a homeopath than to a doctor, because the while the homeopath certainly would not cure you he would not actively kill you.

That excuse has long since ceased to be valid.

I have been looking at the Boots website and am disappointed to see that it lists various homeopathic properties. There are some guarded statements but to have words such as ‘pain relief’ shown without qualification on the front of the packet is little short of disgraceful.

Alan Henness says:
7 June 2013

wavechange

It depends on the product and its regulation by the MHRA. Some (NR scheme), unfortunately, and without any evidence being supplied, are allowed indications for minor self-limiting conditions. Most (HR scheme), however are not. Other are 40-year hangover products (PLR products) whose status has never been changed.

Those that are allowed indications, have to have very specific wording. This wording is supposed to make it clear that they are just claims made by homeopaths that are not backed by evidence, but the wording is pure obfuscation and should never have been allowed. The wording was also heavily criticised by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.

Thanks very much, Alan. I cannot believe that we have to put up with this nonsense in the 21st century.

Quote: “I cannot believe that we have to put up with this nonsense in the 21st century”.!!!

Well here’s more “nonsense” for you to ponder……………………….

“Homeopathic medicines have been used around the world continuously for over 210 years. During that time they’ve been subjected to attack by medical practitioners who’ve lost patients to prescribers of homeopathy, by pharmaceutical companies who lose profits due to the reduced sales of drugs, and by the organizations and individuals who directly or indirectly are supported by these organizations.

In recent times these attacks on homeopathy have been vigorously supported by the media, which is sustained to a significant degree by the advertising revenue received from pharmaceutical manufacturers. Despite these attacks, homeopathy continues to survive and in many places during several periods of history has flourished.

The nature of these attacks has taken several forms but the two enduring criticisms of homeopathy are that it’s “unscientific” and that it lacks the backing of clinical trials. The latter is interesting given the fact that only 10-20% of conventional medical practices are validated by appropriate evidence………………..
Kleijnan et al in the BMJ8 report that of the 105 clinical trials that met the reviewers’ quality criteria, 81 of those trials showed a positive effect for homeopathy.
Fluhrer J, Integrative Practice Overview. Complementary Medicine, July/ August 2002, 33-35.
Arguments Against Homeopathy

To enlarge on the above, the main argument against homeopathy appears to be, “I don’t understand how it can work therefore it can’t work.” For many who take this position no amount of properly conducted research that shows clearly that it does work will convince them otherwise. Plainly, this is intellectually dishonest.

Some people also take the view that homeopathy can’t work because there’s no scientific basis for its activity. The only problem with this view is that it assumes that the body of science that’s been accumulated to date is fixed and will never be added to, and that there’ll be no new discoveries of fact, observation or mechanism. It also assumes that there’s no evidence for a mechanism that either partly or fully explains the action of homeopathics. Such evidence does exist and is easy to find………………………..
Endler PC, Schulte J.: Ultra High Dilution: Physiology and Physics. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 1994, ISBN 07923-2676-8.
Homeopathy, July 2007, 96, 141-230

But, even if this wasn’t the case, an absence of evidence does not constitute evidence of absence. A number of publications are cited by skeptics of homeopathy that are used to support their views.

The flagship is a review published in the Lancet entitled “Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects?”………………………….
Shang A, Huwiler-Mûntener K, et al. Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homeopathy and allopathy. Lancet, 2005, August 27, 366, 726-32.

Here, after ultimately comparing 8 trials on homeopathy with 6 on conventional medicine, Shang et al boldly assert that homeopathy is no more effective than placebo.

A cursory examination of this article reveals it to be dodgy in the extreme. To quote the authors of the study, “We assumed that the (positive) effects observed in placebo-controlled trials of homeopathy could be explained by a combination of methodological deficiencies and biased reporting.”

The article was riddled with methodological flaws and received widespread condemnation from academics and other experts in this field, including a denunciation by the Indian Health Minister, Prof. Chaturbhuj Nayak………………………….
The Telegraph, Calcutta, India,12/9/05, Letter to the Editor, Prof. Chaturbhuj Nayak, Director, Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi, India.

Subsequent re-analysis of this article in fact found that homeopathy was more effective than placebo………………………..
Lüdtke R, Rutten ALB. The conclusions on the effectiveness of homeopathy highly depend on the set of analyzed trials. J of Clin Epidemiology 2008.

Rutten ALB, Stolper CF. The 2005 metaanalysis of homeopathy: the importance of post-publication data. Homeopathy 2008, 97, 169-177.

Another criticism leveled at homeopathy is that clinical trials haven’t been replicated. This isn’t strictly the case as replication has occurred in several areas (hay fever and diarrhoea to name just two, but it’s true that more replication would be useful).

The reason for a comparatively low level of replication of trials in this area is that unlike pharmaceuticals, homeopathic medicines in most cases can’t be patented, and there’s little incentive to invest large amounts of money in clinical trials if the product sponsors can’t monopolize the results.

So, is there any evidence that homeopathy works and if so, what form does that evidence take? It’s important to bear in mind here that critics of homeopathy confidently declare that there is NO evidence for homeopathy. This is a long way from the truth of the matter and the evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathy is remarkably easy to find.

Human Clinical Trial Meta-analyses.

These are systematic statistical analyses of existing human controlled trials that have met certain quality criteria and are carried out to determine if the research can show that a trend exists one way or the other.

Kleijnan et al in the BMJ8 report that of the 105 clinical trials that met the reviewers’ quality criteria, 81 of those trials showed a positive effect for homeopathy.
Cucherat, et al9 state,”There is some evidence that homeopathic treatments are more effective than placebo.” 16 studies were evaluated.
Barnes J, et al, on post operative ileus10, “There is evidence that homeopathic treatment can reduce the duration of ileus after abdominal of gynaecological surgery”. 6 studies were evaluated.
From Bornhoft, et al11, “Effectiveness of homeopathy can be supported by clinical evidence”. 74 studies were evaluated.
Linde, et al12 report. “Among the high quality studies, positive effects were reported 50% more often than negative effects.” 105 studies were evaluated.
Mathie13 states, “The weight of evidence currently favours a positive treatment effect in eight (areas): childhood diarrhoea, fibrositis, hayfever, influenza, pain (miscellaneous), side effects of radio-or chemotherapy, sprains and upper respiratory tract infections.” 93 studies were evaluated.
On a meta-analysis for the homeopathic medicine, Galphimia, for hay fever, Wiesenauer, et al14 state, “A significant superiority of Galphimia glauca over placebo is demonstrated. Estimates of verum success rates are comparable with those of conventional antihistaminics, but no side effects occurred.” 11 studies were evaluated.
Witt, et al15 reports, “Even experiments with a high methodological standard could demonstrate an effect of high potencies.” 75 studies were evaluated.

Individual Human Clinical Trials

There are a large number of high quality randomized controlled human clinical trials that have been carried out using homeopathy. Lack of space precludes listing these here but they’re easy to find either on Medline, 26 websites operated by institutions such as the Glasgow Homoeopathic Hospital, 27 websites that carry material on this subject such as Homeopathic Doctor,28 and Nutrition Matters.29

A good example of the kind of work done here is that carried out by David Reilly and published in the Lancet in 1994,30 where he and others conducted a placebo controlled randomized trial looking at the use of homeopathic medicines with 28 patients diagnosed with allergic asthma. Homeopathy proved superior to placebo, and this trial was so well designed and conducted that the editors of the Lancet commented that, “either there is something amiss with the clinical trial as conventionally conducted, or the effects of homoeopathic immunotherapy differ from those of placebo…carefully done work of this sort should not be denied the attention of Lancet readers.”31

Cohort Studies

These are observational studies analysing quality of life, clinical or other outcomes that have come about as a result of some specific intervention.

A study by Spence et al16 found that of 6544 consecutive UK NHS patients treated with homeopathy 70.7% reported positive health changes, with 50.7% recording their improvement as better or much better.
Witt, et al17 found that of 3981 patients seen in Swiss and German medical clinics practicing homeopathy, and who were treated with homeopathy, patient and physician scores for clinical outcomes found that disease severity decreased significantly (p < 0.001) between baseline and24 months (adults from 6.2 +/- 1.7 to 3.0 +/- 2.2; children from 6.1 +/- 1.8 to 2.2 +/- 1.9).
In another study by Witt et al18, of 3709 patients seen in Swiss and German medical clinics practicing homeopathy, and who were treated with homeopathy, patient and physician scores for clinical outcomes found that disease severity decreased significantly (p < 0.001) between baseline, 2 and 8 years (adults from 6.2 +/- 1.7 to 2.9+/- 2.2 and 2.7 +/- 2.1; children from 6.1 +/- 1.8 to 2.1+/- 2.0 and 1.7 +/- 1.9). These effects persist for as longas 8 years.
Marian, et al in a 2008 study19 found that “Overall patient satisfaction was significantly higher in homeopathic than in conventional care. Homeopathic treatments were perceived as a low-risk therapy with two to three times fewer side effects than conventional care.” 3126 patients were involved in this study.

A study by Van Wassenhoven, et al20 found that, “Patients were very satisfied with their homeopathic treatment, both they and their physicians recorded significant improvement. Costs of homeopathic treatment were significantly lower than conventional treatment, and many previously prescribed drugs were discontinued.” 782 patients were involved in this study.

It may be useful to note here that these are only 5 of a larger number of cohort studies that have been carried out in this area. These 5 involve responses to the treatment of over 17,000 people suffering from various forms of illness. A statistically significant majority of these people experienced a beneficial outcome from this treatment. If we are to believe the critics of homeopathy, these people are either liars or deluded.

Veterinary Studies

Albrecht, et al21 found that, in the treatment of 1440 piglets, “Homeopathic metaphylaxis is significantly effective compared with placebo and routine low-dose antibiotic metaphylaxis for incidence of disease and rate of disease of the respiratory tract among the animals studied.”
On the treatment of Salmonella infection in poultry, Berchieri et al22 found that when 180 one day old chicks were given either an active homeopathic medicine or control and then challenged with a culture of salmonella. “Birds receiving active treatment were less likely to grow the strain of Salmonella from cloacal swabs compared to control.”
Bertani et al23, treating oedema in 307 rats with either a homeopathic medicine or control, found that homeopathy significantly reduced oedema in comparison to controls.
From Cazin, et al24, 6 groups of 30 mice given radio-labelled arsenic were treated with various homeopathic potencies of arsenic and the level of retention compared to controls. All homeopathic potencies of arsenic were found to have a greater effect on arsenic elimination than controls.
From Datta, et al25, the authors found that pre and postfeeding of homeopathically prepared Arsenicum Album 30C and 200C to mice exposed to arsenic trioxide reduced the genotoxic effects (chromosome aberrations, micronucleated erythrocytes and sperm head anomaly) of arsenic when compared to controls.

Does Homeopathy Work?

Even if the work referred to above hadn’t been carried out, 213 of continuous years of use and growth throughout Europe, more than 150 years of continuous use in the USA, India, Australia and most other parts of the world to the point where it’s the world’s second most popular system of healthcare,32 and millions of satisfied users, would tend to indicate that homeopathy works.

References

References 1. Fluhrer J, Integrative Practice Overview. Complementary Medicine, July/ August 2002, 33-35.

2. Endler PC, Schulte J.: Ultra High Dilution: Physiology and Physics. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 1994, ISBN 07923-2676-8.

3. Homeopathy, July 2007, 96, 141-230

4. Shang A, Huwiler-Mûntener K, et al. Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homeopathy and allopathy. Lancet, 2005, August 27, 366, 726-32.

5. The Telegraph, Calcutta, India,12/9/05, Letter to the Editor, Prof. Chaturbhuj Nayak, Director, Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi, India.

6. Lüdtke R, Rutten ALB. The conclusions on the effectiveness of homeopathy highly depend on the set of analyzed trials. J of Clin Epidemiology 2008.

7. Rutten ALB, Stolper CF. The 2005 metaanalysis of homeopathy: the importance of post-publication data. Homeopathy 2008, 97, 169-177.

8. Kleijnen J, et al. Clinical trials of homeopathy. British Medical Journal 1991; 302: 316-323.

9. Cucherat M, et al. Evidence of Clinical effi cacy of homeopathy. A meta-analysis of clinical trials. Eur J Clin Pharmacol, 2000, 56, 27.

10. Barnes J, et al. Homeopathy for post operative ileus: a meta-analysis. Biomedical Therapy, Vol XVII, 2, 1999, 65-70.

11. Bornhoft et al. Effectiveness, safety and cost-effectiveness of homeopathy in general practice – summarized health technology assessment. Forsch Komplementarmed. 2006;13 Suppl 2:19-29.

12. Linde K, et al. Critical Review and Meta- Analysis of serially agitated dilutions in Experimental Toxicology. Human & Experimental Toxicology, 1994, Vol. 13, No. 7, 481-492.

13. Mathie RT. The research evidence base for homeopathy: a fresh assessment of the literature. Homeopathy 2003, 92:84-91.

14. Wiesenauer M,et al..A meta-analysis of homeopathic treatment of pollinosis with Galphimia glauca. Wien Med Wochenschr. 1997;147(14):323-7.

15. Witt CM, et al. The in vitro evidence for an effect of high homeopathic potencies–a systematic review of the literature. Complement Ther Med. 2007 Jun;15(2):128-38.

16. Spence DS, et al. Homeopathic treatment for chronic disease: a 6-year, university-hospital outpatient observational study. J Altern Complement Med. 2005 Oct;11(5):793-8.

17. Witt CM, et al. Homeopathic medical practice: long-term results of a cohort study with 3981 patients. BMC Public Health. 2005 Nov 3;5:115

18. Witt CM, et al. How healthy are chronically ill patients after eight years of homeopathic treatment?– Results from a long term observational study. BMC Public Health. 2008 Dec 17;8:413.

19. Marian F, et al. Patient satisfaction and side effects in primary care: an observational study comparing homeopathy and conventional medicine. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2008 Sep 18;8:52.

20. Van Wassenhoven M, et al An observational study of patients receiving homeopathic treatment. Homeopathy. 2004 Jan;93(1):3-11.

21. Albrecht H, et al. Homeopathy versus antibiotics in metaphylaxis of infectious diseases: a clinical study in pig fattening and its significance to consumers. Altern Ther Health Med. 1999 Sep;5(5):64-8.

22. Berchieri A Jr, et al. Evaluation of isopathic treatment of Salmonella enteritidis in poultry. Homeopathy. 2006 Apr;95(2):94-7.

23. Bertani S, et al. Dual effects of a homeopathic mineral complex on carrageenan-induced oedema in rats. Br Homeopath J. 1999 Jul;88(3):101-5.

24. Cazin JC, et al. A study of the effect of decimal and centesimal dilutions of arsenic on the retention and mobilization of arsenic in the rat. Hum Toxicol. 1987 Jul;6(4):315-20.

25. Datta S, et al Efficacy of a potentized homoeopathic drug (Arsenicum Album-30) in reducing genotoxic effects produced by arsenic trioxide in mice: comparative studies of pre-, post- and combined pre- and post-oral administration and comparative efficacy of two microdoses. Complement Ther Med. 1999 Jun;7(2):62-75.

26. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/ query.fcgi?db=PubMed

27. http://www.adhom.com/adh_download/ EVIDENCE_9.0_Sept_06.pdf 28. http://www.homeopathicdoctor.ca/reference/ proof.pdf

29. http://www.nutrition-matters.co.uk/misc/ homeopathy.htm.

30. Reilly D, et al., “Is evidence for homoeopathy reproducible?”, Lancet, Vol 344, December 10, 1994, pp 1601-1606. 31. Lancet, Vol 344, December 10, 1994, p 1585.

32. Kemper KJ, Homeopathy in Pediatrics- No Harm Likely but How Much Good? Contemporary Pediatrics, May, 2003, 20, 97.

Chris: yet another copied and pasted Gish Gallop. We already know that homeopathy is a widespread and persistent delusion, this debate is about whether that delusion should be perpetuated by pharmacists.

Bravo for that post chrisb1 !!!!

Alan Henness says:
8 June 2013

Sandra

Just to show you clearly the severe problems with what chrisb1’s comment, let’s just take one example (even though Maria has actually already dealt with many more).

chrisb1 said:

“Cucherat, et al9 state,”There is some evidence that homeopathic treatments are more effective than placebo.” 16 studies were evaluated.”

That sounds very positive, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, that quote is cherry-picked and only part the full sentence has been quoted!

What Cucherat et al. actually said was:

“There is some evidence that homeopathic treatments are more effective than placebo; however, the strength of this evidence is low because of the low methodological quality of the trials. Studies of high methodological quality were more likely to be negative than the lower quality studies. Further high quality studies are needed to confirm these results.” [1]

As Maria has so helpfully pointed out, the selective quotes from the other main meta-analysis do not say what homeopathists would like them to say and no picking and choosing changes that.

So, do you still say ‘bravo’ to chrisb1 when he has been so selective?

1 Cucherat, M, M C Haugh, M Gooch, and J P Boissel. 2000. “Evidence of Clinical Efficacy of Homeopathy. A Meta-analysis of Clinical Trials. HMRAG. Homeopathic Medicines Research Advisory Group.” European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 56 (1) (April): 27–33.

ReallyGoodMedicine says:
8 June 2013

There were 17 positive systematic reviews and meta-analyses of homeopathy between 1991 and 2010. Six were comprehensive. Eleven were on specific medical conditions. A 1991 global meta-analysis of homeopathy clinical trials published in the BMJ of 105 trials, 81 of which with positive outcomes, concluded that placebo response could NOT explain the positive responses.

http://www.wiki4cam.org/wiki/Homeopathy

RGM: Ah, wiki4cam, I remember when that was set up by disgruntled SCAM proponents who failed to get their way n Wikipedia. As expected, it speaks with forked tongue.

” A 1991 global meta-analysis of homeopathy clinical trials published in the BMJ of 105 trials, 81 of which with positive outcomes, concluded that placebo response could NOT explain the positive responses.”

This would be Klijnen. Conclusions:

“CONCLUSIONS:
At the moment the evidence of clinical trials is positive but not sufficient to draw definitive conclusions because most trials are of low methodological quality and because of the unknown role of publication bias. This indicates that there is a legitimate case for further evaluation of homoeopathy, but only by means of well performed trials.”

You said the conclusion was that “placebo response could NOT explain the positive responses”. That is not even close to the actual conclusion, as you see.

Since then, there have been other more careful analyses that specifically include consideration of publication bias and other confounders. The result is that once confounding is adequately accounted for, there is no good evidence of effect beyond placebo.

This is not even remotely controversial as the way remedies are selected and prepared means that there is no reason to expect there would be any effect beyond placebo.

ojeronimo says:
7 June 2013

The assumption for this survey appears to be based only on the Commons Science & Technology report, as expressed in the introductory sentence:
“Our snapshot investigation into pharmacies revealed that 13 out of 20 failed to explain that there’s no clinical evidence that homeopathy works. It proved to be a popular starting point for discussion…”

Given that the S & T report has not been made official legally binding policy by the Dept of Health or the MHRA, there is no valid legal or statutory reason for a pharmacist to officially make such a statement or even to be aware of the non validated opinion of the S & T committee.
As a result the survey is based on an invalid non question.

Alan Henness says:
7 June 2013

ojeronimo

I don’t think Which? has said what they relied on for that scientifically accurate statement, but there is far more than just the – albeit comprehensive – HoC report.

However, it’s not just the lack of any good evidence for homeopathy per se, it’s the fact that pharmacists are – and should always be seen to be – consummate healthcare professionals who only have the best interests of the public in mind. Selling disproven homeopathy products gravely tarnishes the implicit contract we we have with them. It may also be a breach of their professional code of conduct.

However, if you have robust, incontrovertible, repeated, independent evidence that homeopathy does work better than, erm, sugar pills, then please provide it.

Ojeronimo: few studies of any intervention, medical or quack, are legally binding. However, the chief scientific advisor has made it clear that politics, not science, are to blame for this continued waste of NHS money. What is clear is that the pharmacists went against their own guidance and the stated policy of their professional body.

Robin says:
7 June 2013

Perhaps our hosts might like to comment on this one, it is their survey design being criticised.

Meanwhile, read a little more about the survey, one aspect of the survey was to test if pharmacists followed the advice of the RPS, to their membership.

The RPS does not endorse homeopathy as a form of treatment. And even though membership of the RPS is voluntary, our expert panel was clear that any pharmacist who recommends a homeopathic remedy should make it clear it’s their personal opinion.

Sound perfectly valid and sensible to me.

@Robin,
When pharmacists dispense advice from behind the counter there is no such thing as personal opinion, they are advise from a position of professional authority.

Would you regard a pharmacist who recommends a homeopathic substitute for malaria pills as ethical even if the pharmacist makes it clear that it’s personal opinion?

Robin says:
7 June 2013

skeptictank
Because their professional body does not endorse homeopathy so they should not give the public the opinion that pharmacists endorse something for which there is no evidence. The RPS are the ones who create the advice. I’d prefer it if pharmacists did not recommend any homeopathic product -ever.

I would not consider a pharmacist recommending a homeopathic pill for malaria ethical.

At the risk of repetition as I stated above ( 1 June 2013 at 1:00 pm)

If a Professor of Medicine prescribed homeopathy for malaria it would be equally wrong.

My point was about the purpose of the survey in response to Ojeronimo, my apologies I keep forgetting to make clear who I am replying to.

Robin,
Fair enough…

Clinical effectiveness of homeopathy: the evidence from published research.

Introduction……………………..

Homeopathy aids the body’s homeostatic processes in self-repair, and achieves this through the use of natural remedies which, at much higher concentrations, would cause similar symptoms in a healthy person. Its origins lie in early 19th century Germany, where Dr Samuel Hahnemann first noticed the principle in the treatment of malaria using Peruvian bark (quinine). He took some bark extract himself – even though he was not ill – and subsequently developed malaria-like symptoms. This observation led him to explore whether other medicines also produced a pattern of illness in healthy people that was similar to the pattern of illness that these medicines could treat in the sick. When he diluted and agitated (or ‘succussed’) such remedies, he observed greater and greater therapeutic results, and so the principle of ultradilution was also inspired.

We take the view that current effort should be concentrated not on how homeopathy works, but in identifying more evidence that it truly works – for there is little sense in seeking a mechanism of action for a therapy that has no properly established treatment effectiveness. In fact, homeopathy is a clinically effective treatment for an array of chronic and acute medical complaints. The evidence in support of this statement no longer lies merely in the personal experience of homeopathic practitioners and their satisfied patients, for a growing research base confirming the therapeutic effectiveness of homeopathy is now clearly discernable in the medical literature.

The aim of this review is to highlight those medical conditions for which the clinical effectiveness of homeopathy has been demonstrated in published research trials. It should be noted that, although the essential focus of the present analysis is founded on conventional medical diagnosis/prescribing, homeopathy usually aims to treat the totality of a patient’s medical condition, rather than a specific (single) morbidity. However, virtually all the existing research trials in homeopathy have adopted a standardized symptom-led approach that enables comparison with conventional medicine.

[This comment has been edited for breaking our guidelines. You can post text or links from an outside source if it does not infringe the rights of any third party and is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement describing the work and crediting its author. Thanks, mods.]

Oh look, another Gish Gallop. Who predicted that?

Alan Henness says:
7 June 2013

chrisb1

That really was wholly unnecessary. A link would have done, followed by your reasons for believing it to be worth reading and why you believe it supports your argument.

Robin says:
7 June 2013

🙂
I did have to look that up, I quite often hate neologisms but this one is so apposite I have to give it credit.

At this rate I hope Which has lots of server space free.

Alan Henness says:
7 June 2013

It appears to be an opinion piece published on some nutrition website, which says:

“The aim of our site is to provide up to date research into nutritional medicine,”

The copyright date is 2001-2004.

Robin says:
7 June 2013

Alan, did it include the words objective or impartial? Rhetorical…

Alan: There’s also no evidence of copyright release. I don’t know what Which? says about copyright violations, but this is undoubtedly not fair use.

Alan Henness says:
7 June 2013

Indeed.

Alan Henness says:
7 June 2013

When you discuss homeopathy, you’ll come across a Gish Gallop sooner or later!

From the terms & conditions for Which? Conversation:

Any content you add to the website will:

– be factually accurate and/or be your genuinely held belief or opinion that is based on facts;
– not be defamatory, obscene or offensive;
– not infringe the copyright, trade marks or any other intellectual property rights of another person;
……..

Robin says:
7 June 2013

Gish Gallop
Still laughing, is it just me or does it remind anyone of a much older phrase?
Cods Wallop

And because of that, I had to look it up, I now know one possible origin is after Mr Codd the inventor of a bottle with a marble stopper, who says we aren’t learning for this conversation.

Robin – I see that you have been careful to qualify your statement about codswallop, saying that this is one possible origin of the term. I’m sure that you would agree that there are problems with conventional medicine and could give examples. I do not know anyone who would regard it as perfect, whether they are scientists or just members of the general public.

In contrast, I am not aware that those who believe in homeopathy offer any criticism. I think Guy is right to equate homeopathy to a religion, hence it would take a lot to change anyone’s view. I laugh every time those who adopt a scientific approach are criticised for not being open-minded.

It would be interesting to learn if supporters of homeopathy can see any weaknesses in their belief. References would be useful.

Wavechange: good point. One of the more credulity-stretching aspects of homeopathy is the inability of adherents to cite a single example where something has been found to be wrong, and has been discarded as a result. The idea that homeopathy is infallible is a bit of a hard sell: uncritical seems a lot more likely and more consistent with human nature.

Robin says:
8 June 2013

Wavechange
I do try to be specific, even if it it may make for convoluted or even turgid language. I try my best but I will admit occasional lapses 🙁

The history of this conversation shows many examples of statements that, if and when, good evidence is presented those displaying scepticism here would be willing, and open to changing opinion. Any study of the history of science will show this to be true, it is not always a smooth process- after all it is human beings carrying out the work. It has been stated far more eloquently than I can achieve, but scientists are usually highly self critical. The whole training process stresses considering every option, every confounder and so on.

Yes, ironically, possible the only consensus view from this conversation so far, ( see I qualified again) is that medicine is not perfect. And yes I have cited Bad Pharma as a good example of the reality -I.e these things are discussed openly and there is a lot of progress to be made.

Being capable of acknowledging the possibility you are wrong is a great strength.

Robin says:
8 June 2013

And on a more flippant note, in reference to Gish Gallops.

You can’t gallop on a dead horse.

Homeopathy believers: please state how you believe homeopathy works, and what independent scientific evidence unrelated to homeopathy supports this view.

Well founded scientific ideas rarely rely on a single type of evidence, instead multiple independent lines of inquiry will lead to the same conclusion. For example, evolution is supported by evidence from fields including geology, paleontology, biology and genetics.

Science believes homeopathy works through placebo effects, compounded by various cognitive biases (centred on regression to the mean, natural course of disease and so on). All these effects can be objectively proven and are generally accepted as entirely expected, which of course is why the randomised double blinded clinical trial is a minimum for new drug approval and why so much effort has been put into manipulating and misrepresenting them.

How do the homeopathy believers here think it works?

Robin says:
8 June 2013

Guy
An excellent point, the concordance between DNA evidence and phylogenetic trees drawn up before anyone knew DNA carried the genetic information is a really good example of how evidence and consensus develops and radically different strands of evidence can converge.

I think we have only had one contributor declare themselves as a pharmacist, right at the start if this conversation and his opinion was succinctly made. I would be interested to try and understand how a pharmacist can accept homeopathy has any effect beyond that it is, at best, equivalent to placebo. The Which survey suggests they exist.

Straw man.

Sandra, thank you for saving us the bother of reading another straw man argument by simply inserting a placeholder reference to one.

Guy said: “Homeopathy believers: please state how you believe homeopathy works, and what independent scientific evidence unrelated to homeopathy supports this view.

Well founded scientific ideas rarely rely on a single type of evidence, instead multiple independent lines of inquiry will lead to the same conclusion. For example, evolution is supported by evidence from fields including geology, paleontology, biology and genetics.

Science believes homeopathy works through placebo effects, compounded by various cognitive biases (centred on regression to the mean, natural course of disease and so on). All these effects can be objectively proven and are generally accepted as entirely expected, which of course is why the randomised double blinded clinical trial is a minimum for new drug approval and why so much effort has been put into manipulating and misrepresenting them.

How do the homeopathy believers here think it works? ”

My reply:

Resorting to straw man argument(s) is evidence to this reader that the detractors are losing this argument too.The offense has now become the defense. I like it. :o)

Alan Henness says:
8 June 2013

Sandra

What, precisely, do you believe is Guy’s straw man and why?

Sandra: you repeated my question but neglected to answer it. Instead you accused me of using a logical fallacy, but it is clear you do not understand that fallacy. Never mind.

It is a very straightforward question. You are a homeopathy believer, you say you are studying it. How do you think it works? I have said how I think it produces a false appearance of working, which is the scientific consensus view, so now it’s your turn.

Placebo effect, or not. Religion, or not. Sugar pills, or not. Just water, or not. No double-blind scientific testing, etc, or not. Know what? Don’t care! I turned to homeopathy when conventional medicine failed. I am a certified medical transcriptionist and was its champion until I personally was affected. Not only did homeopathy save my life, homeopathic remedies have worked for me and my family for over 20 years. Some examples:

Homeopathic Sulphur cured two cases of conventionally treated mange in a dog of my husband’s aunt and the dog of one of my friends.

Two family members with broken bones were facing surgery to repair. Homeopathic
Symphytum cured the breaks without surgery. Before and after x-rays and ultrasound.
documented the healing in both cases.

Apis mellifica prevented the swelling and allergic reaction to several wasp stings on my legs.

Silicea opened and helped drain a benign lipoma the size of a golf ball from our family dog’s right shoulder. No veterinary intervention required.

Rhus tox helped my husband avoid back surgery for two herniated discs at the L4-L5 level (also documented by x-ray and ultrasound.) He had been walking with a cane for six months.

I currently life in a warm climate and fleas on my dogs were formerly a big problem. We tried flea collars, liquid applications on their fur, shampoos and shots. None of these methods were effective. I found out that putting a few “sugar pills” of Ruta graveolens in my dog’s water bowl keeps the fleas away. The “placebo effect” does not apply in this case since the fleas are simply not in the dogs’ fur.

Sandra: Thank you for your unevidenced miracle stories, no religion is complete without them. They change the facts not one iota. There is no reason to believe homeopathy should work, no way it can work and no credible evidence it does work.

Alan Henness says:
8 June 2013

Hi Sandra

Unverified and unverifiable anecdotes are an extremely poor basis for making heathcare decisions, don’t you think?

Do you not agree that when deciding healthcare, people should be presented with the best, most robust, most independent evidence for treatments?

Alan Henness says:
8 June 2013

Sandra

Maria replied to you but it’s ended up way above here. You can read her homeopathy ‘anecdotes’ here: https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/your-view-do-pharmacists-and-homeopathy-mix/comment-page-1/#comment-1319961

ReallyGoodMedicine says:
8 June 2013

I give people a lot more credit than the “skeptics” do. The vast majority of people recognize in themselves when their health is improving and when it isn’t. They recognize whether or not the treatment they’re using is helping or isn’t helping. They tell their doctors whether or not they feel better, and the doctors listen.

Anecdotes — not scientism and its belief that RCT’s are the final arbitor of truth — are the basis of all knowledge. What “skeptics” call anecdotes are referred to as case records by doctors. These case records are actually part of what is considered by researchers when they perform clinical trials or observational studies and are published in medical journals. Ultimately, when all the studies are taken into account, all that matters is what the treatment did for the patient.

Doctors themselves tell each other anecdotes about the treatments they’ve prescribed to their patients and the results of those treatments. Given that drug companies pay doctors to tell these anecdotes at medical conferences they must be of great value, mustn’t they?

The public is quite interested in anecdotes so I’ll post links to a lot more of them here:

Gemma Hoefkens cured of tumors on her pineal and pituitary glands with homeopathy after chemo and radiation only made her condition worse. Her doctors considered her case terminal, told her there were no other treatment options for her and asked if she wanted to go into hospice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqrGW8D-CuU

http://www.youtube.com (search “homeopathy worked for me”)

http://spiked-online.com/index.php/wellcome/responses/5194

http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/2011/cureorcon/

Straw man.

ReallyGoodMedicine says:
8 June 2013

It must be awfully boring typing out the same mantra over and over and over again. Time for a new script, Guy.

@RGM,
That comment is a bit rich. Any more boring than cut & paste?

Guy, you say……..
“There is no reason to believe homeopathy should work, no way it can work and no credible evidence it does work”.

Then explain away the results of the RCT’s on Homeopathy which are strong evidence it is effective and works much much better when compared with placebo?

Also clutching at straws?: copy and paste is irrelevant, it is the INFORMATION contained therein that is entirely relevant, and which you are conveniently ignoring.

A marvelous testimonial Sandra, thank you for sharing.

Guy, you say……….
“please state how you believe homeopathy works, and what independent scientific evidence unrelated to homeopathy supports this view”.
And………….
“The idea that homeopathy is infallible is a bit of a hard sell”.

Answers: it is the role of science to discover how Homeopathy works, not to dismiss it because its mechanism of action is not yet understood. It would seem you are not aware of the role of science Guy.
No one has mentioned that Homeopathy is infallible Guy. Where did you conjure up that idea from? Fantasy or make-believe perhaps?

Guy, as RGM states: “you’re still side-stepping the fact that only 11% of the treatments offered on the NHS are backed by evidence. You’re still avoiding answering that one, single most important question: “Why aren’t you campaigning against the other 89% of treatments offered on the NHS that aren’t evidenced based? Why are you campaigning only against homeopathy — which IS evidence based?”

You still have to answer this (apologies for the copy & paste) I hope RGM doesn’t mind me infringing her own copyright.

Unaccredited copying is unacceptable and inexcusable, whatever the topic of a debate and whatever the point of view.

Chris: I think you have summed up the difference between your view of homeopathy and mine with this sentence:

“it is the role of science to discover how Homeopathy works, not to dismiss it because its mechanism of action is not yet understood.”

No Chris, it really isn’t. Science has an explanation that is fully consistent with the observed facts, we find no tension, nothing demanding further explanation or exploration.

Homeopathy demands that we adopt a different explanation, and the onus is firmly on homeopaths to provide a good reason why we should do so.

I will address your other rhetoric separately.

Alan Henness says:
8 June 2013

Sandra said:

“Straw man.”

What is? It really helps if you quote what it is you are replying to.

RGM: Homeopathy cannot cure cancer. The fact that you would claim it does, is one of the main reaosns homeopathy is regarded as dangerous quackery rather than just harmless nonsense.

Guy……………………
“RGM: Homeopathy cannot cure cancer. The fact that you would claim it does, is one of the main reasons homeopathy is regarded as dangerous quackery rather than just harmless nonsense”.

Identical then in every respect to the “dangerous quackery” of the CUT, POISON and BURN brigade of Allopathic Medicine.

Btw, Allopathy is a historical term that is widely used “as a reference to harsh medical practices of … [a specific] era, which included bleeding, purging, vomiting and the administration of highly toxic drugs…………the former and the latter of which is still practiced.

Chris: Cut, poison, burn is a propaganda film made by a crank. In case you hadn’t noticed, current research focuses on things like gene therapy which moves us on from chemo. Surgery and radiation are effective for man solid tumours, in a way that homeopathy absolutely is not. In fact, believers have worse cancer outcomes due to delaying proper medical advice and substituting ineffective treatments for effective ones.

I know bleeding is still used, for example in polycythaemia. Where there is evidence it works. Attacking medicine on the basis that it once used venesection inappropriately is simply foolish.

Once again, though, you are advocating magic carpets to international travellers based o the fact that planes crash.

Maria says:
8 June 2013

Let’s not forget that bloodletting is one of the five ‘essential purificatory therapies’ of ayurveda and it is still promoted today for “imbalance of blood and pitta disorders as stubborn skin diseases, tumours, gout, excessive drowsiness, alopecia, hallucinations and enlarged liver & spleen”. (Source: ayurveda.com) Lots of people swear by ayurveda so it must work, eh Chris and Sandra?

Talking of bloodletting, Chris, I note you have not responded to my question posted on 7 June 2013 at 11:45 pm, when I asked you to specify what exactly you are accusing me of being “unbelievably ignorant” of. I did tell you not to bother responding if you can’t manage to do so without the gratuitous insults, so I’ll take your silence as an admission that you can’t.

I’m also wondering where you stand on the four so-called “positive” reviews you proclaimed, now that I have revealed what they actually said in their conclusions.

I just don’t believe you lot I really don’t.

The mainstay of cancer treatment within Oncology, and has been for decades, is: surgery, chemo’ and radiation, or what we refer to as: cut, poison and burn. This phrase came into existence long before that excellent film of the same title. Those are your choices, and extremely abysmal choices and options they are.
Current research such as gene-therapy is of importance, yes, but this does not fool anyone as Oncology has been a failure for decades…………….or what most of us would term as “delusional nonsense”.

I agree with you Guy (did I just say that?) in that surgery is the best option, but as far as radiation and chemotherapy is concerned the side effects are horrendous rather than being therapeutic.