/ Health

Homeopathy: pharmacists dispense with professional guidance

Homeopathy remedy

As soon as you talk about homeopathy, it divides opinion. But the debate raises wider issues when some pharmacists fail to explain there’s no clinical evidence that certain alternative remedies work, like homeopathy.

There are people who swear by homeopathic remedies, and everyone’s entitled to their opinion. However, if you ask your pharmacist whether a homeopathic remedy works you’d expect their response to be based on scientific evidence. This is the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS) official advice:

‘The pharmacist should advise on the lack of evidence on the efficacy of homeopathic products… and provide advice relevant to the patient’s condition.’

Some pharmacists say homeopathy works

However, in our snapshot investigation, 13 out of the 20 pharmacies our trained mystery shoppers visited failed to follow this guidance. For example, one pharmacist said that homeopathy does work and another said it’s very good and will help. 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.

On visits rated satisfactory and good by our expert panel, pharmacists were very clear about the lack of evidence. One said, ‘it’s all anecdotal, you know, it’s homeopathy, so there’s no science behind it.’

Separate personal experiences from professional advice

There was also no excuse for pharmacists who did not give the correct advice when asked about homeopathic treatment for a cough that had lasted over a month. 17 of them failed to spot this potentially serious undiagnosed condition – only three advised us to see a GP when asked for a homeopathic remedy for this cough. And our visits actually took place during a nationwide NHS campaign urging people to see their GP if they’d had a cough for more than three weeks.

We have to be able to rely on pharmacists to give us clarity over what we buy. It may be difficult if they have personally had positive experiences with homeopathic treatment. But they need to clearly separate the anecdotal, and their own views, from the evidence base. That surely has to be the hallmark of professionalism.

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

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Comments
Robin says:
25 May 2013

If the survey is really representative of all pharmacists then this is very depressing.

Homeopathy is delusional nonsense. It can act, at best, as a placebo. Real harm can be done by people suggesting it has any effect over that of a placebo.

The arguments supporters of homeopathy put forward would be laughable in their display of ignorance if the result of this ignorance could not sometimes be death. In the most part guillable people with self limiting conditions may waste time and money on water or sugar pills, but to pretend greater harm can’t result is wilful ignorance. Pharmacists promoting such nonsense are not acting ethically. If the RPS is to have any credibility as a responsible and professional body it needs to address this problem. Peddling magical water is not the act of a responsible professional body.

If a pharmacist (or anyone else) sells a homeopathic preparation, surely the company they are working for is contravening the Trade Descriptions Act and could be reported to Trading Standards because a 30c dilution, for example, will not contain any of the ingredient shown on the label.

Dr. Nancy Malik says:
25 May 2013

@wavechange

Research by Indian Institiute of Technology (IIT) Bombay in 2010 indicates the presence of 1-4000 picograms/mililitre of fine nano-particles (5-15 nanometer) of the original starting material in 200c potency of metal-derived homeopathic medicines.

Research by IIT Delhi and Central Council for Research in Homeopathy (Govt. of India) in 2011 indicates the presence of crystalline nano-particles (100 nano-metre) in 15c potency of plant-derived homeopathic medicines.

Hmmm. In my microbiology practical classes, some students would produce very odd results with their serial dilutions. Those who labelled their tubes and took more care got their experiments to work.

@Nancy: We’ve already been over this. They have produced two sets of results. One had silicates, which are clearly form the oxidised layer on the glassware (there is no evidence they used water to ISO3696 or washed the glassware with HF first, as any competent chemist would when conducting sensitive experiments at high dilution).

The second used concentrated nitric acid, and found traces of heavy metals in the solute; commercially available nitric acid is well known to be contaminated with heavy metals.

And then we have the more fundamental question: after 200 years, why are homeopaths still unable to actually prove that anything persists at the levels of dilution they use? We’ve had water memory, which is these days dying out in the rationalisations since it’s been shown that it persists only for a few tens of femtoseconds, now we have the team of Indian homeopathy believers who find predictable impurities in solute.

Even if there was some objectively measurable persistent effect, this does not prove homeopathy. First you’d have to prove that like can be expected to cure like on a general basis, then that the essence of what produces this effect is what persists in the water, then that it can be transferred to an intermediary such as a sugar pellet, that it can survive the enzymes of the mouth, transfer across the cell boundaries into the bloodstream, and thence have an effect on physiology.

A long chain of proof is required. You are producing occasional partial links made of wax, cheese or paper. Unsurprisingly, when you pull on this chain the scientific consensus does not move.

Dr. Nancy Malik says:
25 May 2013

More research into nanoparticles found in super-avogadro dilutions in homeopathy in 2010

1. Research in IIT Kharagpur in 2011 found the presence of biologically active digoxin-like substance in Digitalis Purpurea 30c and 200c.

2 Research by IIT Bombay in 2012 explains the process by which these nanoparticles are transferred and retained beyond avogadro limit and has been documented with high speed videography.

I have only looked at the first paper and it is not very good. If I had been asked to review it I would have recommended rejection, and that’s just based on reading the Methodology section.

Nancy, as I pointed out before, the Indian studies contain serious methodological flaws. The uncritical acceptance of anything that looks even vaguely supportive, followed by dropping it like a hot brick once it becomes obvious that it’s either fatally flawed or doesn’t actually support homeopathy, is one of the reasons you look so desperate and why your Gish gallops inspire such mockery.

magufo says:
25 May 2013

[This comment has been removed for breaking our commenting guidelines. Thanks, mods]

Funny how these “Which” investigations into anything “Alternative” attract the “witch-hunters” and the nay-sayers that has anything to do with Alternative healthcare (and I mean anything), as if bees to a honeypot: the dogmatic types who know with an absolute certainty what is right and what is wrong, and everything outside of Mainstream Medical Science is just sheer hocus-pocus.
All of this of course totally disregards the historical and successful traditions of health-practices that go back thousands of years.
Mainstream as it is today is still in its infancy (100 years or so) and pronounces judgement on all else: does the word “arrogance” spring to mind here anyone?

Which? is a published by the Consumer’ Association, consumer protection organisation. Homeopathy is an organised fraud. Hence, Which? exposes the fraud in order to protect consumers.

This is a feature, not a bug.

anarchic_teapotr says:
25 May 2013

“the dogmatic types who know with an absolute certainty what is right and what is wrong”

This is satire, right?

“everything outside of … Science is just sheer hocus-pocus”
When youre discussing the efficacy of a treatment for a medical condition? Yes. Yes, it is hocus-pocus. The laws of physics, chemistry and biology cannot be suspended to accommodate wishful thinking, which is all most so-called ‘alternative’ therapies are.

Guy, I believe that WHICH has exposed the inconsistent advice given by Pharmacists about Homeopathy, rather than “exposed” anything to do with Homeopathy itself, and of course WHICH are only towing the Mainstream line, as if it were fact, when they mention: “some pharmacists fail to explain there’s no “clinical evidence” that certain alternative remedies work, like homeopathy”, when there clearly is, and as posted by several of us here.

WHICH also mentions the opinion of their “expert panel”, but fail to mention who these “experts” actually are, and whether the judgement they have made is impartial or not.
Experts come two a penny and where I could produce a list of experts who would contradict these findings.

Chris, I don’t think Which? set out to expose anything done by homeopathy, nor did they need to. The BBC and the Advertising Standards Authority, to name but two, have done a fine job in recent times of exposing the fraudulent claims of homeopaths.

What Which? has done is expose the fact that pharmacists are giving advice that appears to be profit-driven rather than evidence-driven. That is indeed a worry.

Of course you can argue that there is a difference between “no clinical evidence” and the more accurate “no reliable evidence, and no plausible mechanism”, but to claim that because the later is more accurate than the former, so they should claim that there *is* clinical evidence, would be purest sophistry.

The scientific consensus is that homeopathy is bogus. It is based on entirely false premises, it flies in the face of everything we know about the nature of matter, and the “evidence” produced by its believers is fully consistent with the null hypothesis.

Funny how the scientists who challenge the charlatans and mountebanks who peddle “homeopathic” notions are described by them as witch-hunters and nay-sayers. While perhaps not a scientific analysis, the thumbs-up and thumbs-down signs tell me all I need to know.

John – In the western world it is easy for most of us to form our own opinion about homeopathy but it is being inflicted on large numbers of people in the developing world for ‘treatment’ of serious diseases. See the Sense About Science website.

Thank you Wavechange. This is the aspect that worries me so much. Educated people in the developed world are routinely bamboozled by spurious, expensive, and potentially treatment-deferring nostrums, and Which? has shone a little light into one corner of it. The developing world, eager to catch up and match the health, well-being, and longevity of the rest, are at grave risk of harmful exploitation.

Michael says:
25 May 2013

“All of this of course totally disregards the historical and successful traditions of health-practices that go back thousands of years.”

This is what we known as (bullsh…) err, known as an argument from antiquity. Which is a common logical fallacy. That is to say, its utter dung.

Homoeopathy has been around some 200 years (hardly ancient is it) and managed to get a foothold because other treatments of the time where so barbaric it was safer than most of them. ie Doing nothing (which is homoeopathy) for a headache is preferable to trepanning.(knocking a hole into your skull)

Dr. Nancy Malik says:
25 May 2013

@Michael
1. Journal of Hellenic Headache Association
Homeopathic Treatment in patients with migraine (2006)

2. British Homoeopathic Journal
Quality of life in patients with headache, receiving homeopathic treatment (2001)
statistically significant results in favour of homeopathy, n=523, >60% improvement in 4 weeks

Please can you do us a big favour and cite references in a conventional format, such as used in scientific papers and reviews.

Nancy, there is a documented problem with SCAM-specific journals such as the British Homoeopathic Journal accepting junk papers as long as they support the agenda of the editors.

Regardless, Randall Munro has explained the existence of papers supportive of homeopathy: http://xkcd.com/882/

Dr. Nancy Malik says:
26 May 2013

@wavechange

OBSERVATIONAL PROSPECTIVE STUDY OF HOMEOPATHIC TREATMENT IN PATIENTS WITH MIGRAINE, ATTENDING THE HEADACHE CLINIC OF NEUROLOGY DEPT “G. GENNIMATAS” ATHENS GENERAL HOSPITAL
Journal of Hellenic Headache Association
Volume 13, Number 3, July-September 2006

Br Homeopath J 2001 Oct;90(4):189-97
Observational study of quality of life in patients with
headache, receiving homeopathic treatment

Authors? Consistency? I wish I could send you my helpsheet on reference format, which I wrote for first year university students. 🙁

Dr. Nancy Malik says:
26 May 2013

@Guy

Research studies in homeopathy are published in just 11 homeopathic journals, 13 CAM journals and surprisingly 94 integrative journals such as Lancet, BMJ, Nature, Pediatrics, American Journal of Pain Management, Annals of Pharmacotherapy, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Applied Health Economics & Health Policy, etc

Dr. Nancy Malik says:
26 May 2013

@Guy

You are using SCAM repeatedly. Does SCAM stands for Spurious Conventional Allopathic Medicine?

@Nancy: SCAM = Supplements, Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The four things sold by the likes of Holland & Barrett with claims that skirt and often cross the border of what is legally permissible.

I know that homeopathy studies are published in The Lancet etc. Shang et. al. was published in The Lancet. There’s also good evidence that mainstream journals often fall down when assessing SCAM papers because reviewers take the assumptions on trust, but those assumptions are often bogus (e.g. assuming that homeopathy is a system of medicine).

Hello everyone, can I please remind you of our commenting guidelines: https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines

Do NOT make personal attacks on one another. There is no need to bring in criticisms of individuals into your comments – stick to the arguments at hand. Try and be polite, even if you disagree with one another.

Magufo – consider this a formal warning. Many of your comments breach our commenting guidelines and T&Cs. These have been removed and may not go up again without considerable edits. Please don’t waste your time and ours by making comments that attack others. If you continue to make comments that break our guidelines and T&Cs we may have to consider banning you from the website.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has recently made a strong statement regarding homeopathy. Here is an extract: President of the RPS Martin Astbury said: “We believe evidence based medicine is the key to the success of modern healthcare. Modern medicine faces challenges every day from therapies that escape rigorous scrutiny: consider the scandal of £4m the NHS spends on homeopathy every year.

The full news release is here: http://www.rpharms.com/pressreleases/pr_show.asp?id=840

With funding shortages, I am alarmed that the NHS is spending £4m annually on homeopathy.

Here is what is on the NHS choices website:

Does it work?
There has been extensive investigation of the effectiveness of homeopathy. There is no good-quality evidence that homeopathy is effective as a treatment for any health condition.

In perspective, £4m is a small amount in the current NHS budget of over £100 billion, but why are they spending a penny?

Acleron says:
25 May 2013

The history of that page on the NHS choices site may give you an insight into why homeopathy still pollutes both the NHS and the high street. The writing team were blocked from publishing the facts of homeopathy by the civil servant’s reluctance to battle with homeopaths who claimed the support of powerful figures. When this underhand operation was exposed by David Colquhon the facts were displayed. Homeopaths use misdirection, politics and downright lying to make their profits and after 200 years have failed to produce the slightest amount of convincing evidence.

Thanks very much Acleron. I see your point.

To move forward, I think it would be beneficial to address some of the criticism of conventional medicine, for example the overuse of powerful drugs and the expectation of many patients that drugs are the answer to all problems.

I am also alarmed that the NHS is wasting all that money on chemotherapy drugs that have been proven to have a negligible impact on the quality of life, or the progression of the disease.
Have any of you considered this waste of money or quackery? Unlikely, because you seem to be all bedfellows with the manufacturers. http://www.canceractive.com/cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=251

£4 million is a snip, or a mere drop in the ocean in comparison.

Also consider the total waste of money for Big Pharmas statins blockbuster (the biggest money spinner of all time) where they are next to useless: The relationship between CVD and cholesterol is non-existent, and any correlation is tenuous at best.
Raised cholesterol levels are irrelevant in the causes of CVD, but here we have a drug that is a global blockbuster that is reported to lower cholesterol and reduce the incidence of CVD. Talk about “quackery”……this is first-grade stuff.

Also, a small study in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition last year found that plant sterols lowered cholesterol more effectively than statins.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-432395/Statins-truth.html#ixzz2UJsazn7V

When you people get off your high horses and eventually realize the truth……it may just set you free.

@wavechange Issues with medicine are a separate debate. This is about people selling magic pixie dust and pretending it’s medicine.

I don’t see any harm in broadening the discussion, at least until we get some input from pharmacists. We are not going to convince certain contributors to change their views – any more than they will change ours.

It must be tough for trained pharmacists having to work for a company that dictates that homeopathic ‘remedies’ should be sold in its shops.

This is about people selling magic pixie dust?
Here are a few more examples for your perusal………………

More magic pixie dust…………………
The mechanisms of action are not known for many prescription drugs. Scientists often presume how the drug works in the body based on facts from research. For example, the product label for Prozac, a prescription drug indicated to treat depression, states “Although the exact mechanism of Prozac is unknown, it is presumed to be linked to its inhibition of CNS neuronal uptake of serotonin.” CNS refers to central nervous system.

Allen Roses, a genetic expert and senior executive at GlaxoSmithKline, says that more than 90 percent of drugs only work in 30 to 50 percent of people, according to BBC News in 2003. Furthermore, he stated “Drugs on the market work, but they don’t work on everybody.

Chris, it doesn’t matter if the precise biochemical pathways are not understood for every drug because there is no significant dissent form the view that administering measurable quantities of pharmacologically active substances can objectively effect the body.

Homeopathy administers none of a substance with no provable connection to a disease resulting in no objectively measurable physiological effect, and claims that this is a profound method of healing. This does not have anything like consensus support. Actually the majority view among scientists is total incredulity that such claims are legal.

Dr. Nancy Malik says:
26 May 2013

@wavechange
The question is whether pharmaceutical synthetic chemical drug treatments be publicly funded by the NHS?

This has nothing to do with the subject under discussion. We are discussing homeopathy and in particular whether pharmacists should sell homeopathic products.

Nancy: Nobody is asking that question because there is no controversy over whether measurable quantities of pharmacologically active compounds can have an objective effect on the human body.

In case you hadn’t spotted by now, your major problem is that few rational people actually believe that administering none of a substance with no provable connection to a symptom might somehow cure the disease that exhibits that symptom.

See the difference? Some of something that can be shown to affect the disorder, versus none of something that can’t.

These are small, but the ones out there, are far away…

@Chris, just to remind you: problems with medicine validate homeopathy in exactly the same way plane crashes validate magic carpets.

Poor or overstated evidence in medicine is a known problem that is being tackled with the scientific method. The same scientific method that produces these results you love to cite, shows that homeopathy is bunk.

This is of course a discussion/debate on the merits or otherwise of Homeopathy, but I suggest that while you critique this, most all of you, with the exception of Dr Malik and others, and if we are honest with ourselves, have a mindset that is fixed dogmatically against anything that does not fall under the wing of Mainstream Medicine: even if it has been proven to work, and work effectively in healing the patient.
Although alternatives are far from ideal, you should consider getting your own house in order and realize just how prevalent “quackery” is within Orthodoxy and Medicine generally. I have illustrated the case of statins that are next to useless for their intended purpose, but just one more example of many, is the proliferation of angioplasty.

Doctors keep beating alternative health advocates with the same question, “Where are the peer reviewed studies that back you up? Without those studies to back you up, alternative health treatments are just a waste of money.”

Well, 85% of the treatments the medical community uses are not backed by studies. This includes the huge amount of off-label use of prescription drugs and a number of very expensive procedures that are near and dear to the heart of the medical community. Well, now there’s a new study on one of the nearest and dearest: angioplasty to relieve chest pain caused by clogged arteries – and the results of the study are not kind.

Researchers found that angioplasty did not save lives or prevent heart attacks in non-emergency heart patients.

Angioplasty gave only slight and temporary relief from chest pain, the main reason it is done.

“By five years, there was really no significant difference” in symptoms.

Talk about wasting money! Every year in the US, doctors perform about 1.2 million angioplasties at an average cost of $40,000. That works out to $48,000,000,000 wasted every year in the US alone – just on this ONE medical procedure!!!!, so in comparison to the measly contribution of £4 million the NHS receives for Homeopathy, it is quite ridiculous.
There are of course many other examples that space does not allow here, but genuine quackery belongs where it has always belonged in the pursuit of $$$: The Medical monopoly.

Chris, your assertio of dogma is a reversal of the truth.

Science is not dogmatic. Any idea may be tested, and if it does not stand up to testing then it is discarded.

Homeopathy is dogmatic. Everything starts from the unshakeable belief i the literal word of Hahnemann, and the core doctrines need not be proved and may not be questioned or challenged.

This much is obvious to everyone but homeopaths.

Science may not be dogmatic Guy but Medical Science is. Unless treatments are based on pharmaceuticals or surgery and trauma, diagnostics they exclude everything else.

Homeopathy does have some dogma as you have been illustrating within this thread, but then so do most institutions and areas of academia: remember when the Earth was flat?

When Medical science does not know of the cause of a disease and they know and say that there is no cure for that or this disease, but they have so many different medical treatments which they recommend. I wonder why? They say it is disease management! Here is a contrasting eye opener :
“When the cause is not known, knowledge of the effect is false! Therefore, when the Truth of Health is unknown, whatever knowledge of disease one has, is illusory and misleading. That is the status of the medical system which is not even a science.

It has taken 50 years since Nixon waged the war on cancer, and yet here we are today with more cases of cancer than ever before: “Medical Science” still does not know the causes of cancer, and the treatments offered are based on hope over a disease where the cause is unknown. Quackery of the highest order.

Chris, you are simply wrong.

Medicine merely stipulates that a treatment should be provably effective. It is completely agnostic about the nature or source of the treatment. Edzard Ernst recently reviewed a decent study showing convincing benefit for extract of pelargonium sidoides in cases of COPD.

The reason homeopathy is rejected is very simple: there is no reason to think it should work, no way it can work, and no credible evidence it does work. It is a placebo, the remedies are inert, the observed effects are nonspecific and fully consistent with the null hypothesis.

You won’t change the scientific consensus without fixing the massive underlying evidence gap. You cannot do this by endlessly repeating studies which by their very design cannot refute the null hypothesis.

The case of cancer requires a specific answer. The fact that incidence of cancer is increasing is constantly bandied about by fans of alternatives to medicine to “prove” that medical science “knows nothing” and “cannot cure” cancer.

This is wrong on several levels.

1. The reason cancer incidence is increasing is that people are living longer. Cancer is primarily a disease of old age, it is virtually certain that anyone who lives long enough will eventually contract it.

2. Medicine understands a lot about cancer. There are genetic markers predictive of cancer which can be used for (admittedly often extreme) preventive measures, as we saw this month with Angelina Jolie. There are a few cancers which can be stopped in their tracks with gene-targeted therapies. There are some for which there are identified environmental causes (mesothelioma, for example).

3. Medicine understands a lot about managing cancer. Five year and ten year survival rates are increasing steadily for most cancers.

4. The areas of doubt and uncertainty are certainly large, but they do not in any way justify throwing away all the knowledge we do have and instead going with fanciful treatments that are neither plausible nor provably effective.

Utter and complete nonsense Guy. You have no idea as to what you are talking about.

Cancer was virtually unheard of at the beginning of the 20th Century, and not through lack of reporting, but of a lack of incidence. Cancer incidence has grown exponentially since that time.

Medicine understands alot about (managing) cancer (the word being “managing” not curing). If five and ten year survival rates are increasing steadily for most cancers, it has only taken about 50 years to do so. A man was placed on the moon within 8 years.

Mutilating healthy breasts in the mistaken belief that this will prevent breast cancer is absolute quackery, although a very brave action for Ms Jolie. Japanese women have a very low incidence of breast cancer, unless they move to the USA and the much higher ratio is about the same: this is because of the much higher intake of Iodine in Japan from seafood (info on request if you like).

If Medicine doesn’t know the cause of a disease the answer will be it is either viral or genetic: in other words they do not know. Strange how Iodine and Vitamin D3 control much of our gene expression, as do other nutrients (information withheld from Ms Jolie because of the ignorance of her Doctors) which both play a major part in acting as a prophylactic against breast cancer and from whatever gene variant you care to name.
This is the problem with Modern Medicine: they are involved with disease and not health.

Whatever happened to: “first do no harm”?
Every single person I know of in the course of my lifetime who has contracted cancer of one sort or another (they were mostly young btw) has died and well within the 5 year survival guide. Only one has survived for 3 years and he is 28 with Ewings Sarcoma; 10 died. What an encouraging success rate that is.

So what knowledge of cancer should not be thrown away? a miniscule amount.
The irony is that there has been several cures for cancer, but they were all suppressed, and I have lived long enough to know the absolute truth of this.
You really have no idea as to WHAT you are talking about.

Phil says:
25 May 2013

” “Medical Science” still does not know the causes of cancer, and the treatments offered are based on hope over a disease where the cause is unknown. Quackery of the highest order.”

Utterly untrue. Medical Science has made great advances in cancer treatment and survival rates have tripled since the 1960’s. Leukaemia for example which once was a death sentence now has an 80% survival rate.

Paul Morgan (@drpaulmorgan) says:
25 May 2013

An utterly clueless and ignorant comment. The ignorance and/or denial of the scientific method by homeopaths is standard. The denial and/or ignorance of the scientific method – which is used by medicine – is also par for the course amongst homeopaths. There are so many problems with homeopathy it is sometimes difficult to know where to begin, but I’ll have a go.
1. There is no proven benefit to homeopathic remedies. This has been shown by the conduct of high-quality meta-analyses such as Shang et al (Lancet, 2005) and the Cochrane Collaboration.
2. Homeopaths typically fail to grasp the concept of critical appraisal, thinking that all trials are of equal value when they are clearly not. Their inabilty or unwillingness to control for vital effects such as regression towards the mean and observer bias permeates the published literature on homeopathy. When these factors are controlled for, the evidence is clear – homeopathy is nothing more than an elaborate (and inordinately expensive) placebo of “magic” water dripped onto essentially inert sugar pills (leaving aside the problems of excessive sugar consumption).
3. There is no plausible scientific method by which homeopathic “remedies” by which they could exert any effects. Dilution beyond the point at which the possibility of finding any physical evidence of even a single molecule of the “remedy” is a key feature of homeopathy as, according to the “laws of homeopathy” – as dreamed up by Samuel Hahnemann, the inventor of homeopathy – the more dilute a “remedy” is, the more potent it is. Just like extremely diluted orange squash is more potent than less diluted squash. Not!
4. Homeopaths often claim that their “remedies” have an effect because water “has a memory”. This claim doesn’t stand up to scientific scrutiny as any memory effect of water is measurable in femtoseconds. Also, how come water doesn’t remember all the excrement and other toxins it’s ever been in contact with? A question they never answer!
5. Homeopaths may claim their “remedies” work through “quantum” effects. Two problems with this are that their “remedies” don’t work and homeopaths clearly don’t have the faintest clue about quantum physics.
I could go on, but the evidence is damning. Homeopathy is no more than an elaborate, incredibly expensive placebo. On a weight-for-weight basis, homeopathy sugar pills are more expensive that sterling silver and yet have no demonstrable effect beyond that of a placebo – an effect that is equally as applicable to real medicines with proven benefit beyond placebo. Homeopaths sometimes point out the clearly documented failings of conventional medicine as somehow being evidence that homeopathy “works”. This is clearly nonsense – as one commentator has pointed out, it’s like claiming that aeroplanes have been known to crash is evidence that magic carpets really can fly. The word is “deluded”.

Phil, your comment…………..
“Medical Science has made great advances in cancer treatment and survival rates have tripled since the 1960′s. Leukaemia for example which once was a death sentence now has an 80% survival rate.

Then you had better read this…………….

A study completed in 2004 by three Australian researchers looked at about 73,000 cancer cases in Australia and 155,000 cancer cases in the U.S. from 1990 to 2004. Their overall findings were that chemotherapy improved the 5-year cancer survival rate by an average of 2%. The exact average percentages were 2.1% in the U.S. cases, and 2.3% in the Australian cases. For the most common cancers, the rates were: breast cancer 1.4%; prostate cancer 0.0%; lung cancer 2.0%; and colon cancer 1.0%.
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2004 (16:549-560). It is available to all oncologists who want to do some serious study. If I had a 98% failure rate in my profession, I’d look for something else to do. They choose to ignore it and motor on with their warnings that “…if you don’t do this chemo, you’ll die.”

Chris, you need to start getting your information form the real world rather than homeopathy proponents.

The earliest description of cancer dates from around 3,000 BC, a case of breast cancer described in the Edwin Smith papyrus, but the fossil record shows evidence of it from the beginning of human history and it is also found in the fossil record and current populations of many other animals.

As I say, cancer is primarily a disease of old age. It is entirely predictable that with the near doubling of average lifespans in the last century or so, the incidence has risen. We’re also better at diagnosing it (many people with indolent cancers previously died of something else without their cancer ever being diagnosed).

If you’re going to accuse people of “utter and complete nonsense” it might be an idea not to follow that with, well, utter and complete nonsense.

Chris: I think it’s funny how you report the process of scientific discovery whenever it suits you, but deny the outcome of the exact same process when it comes to homeopathy.

I know you avoid the reality-based literature, so you probably haven’t read the reports of cases of recurrent acute lymphoblastic leukaemia cured by genetic therapy at Memorial Sloan-Kettering.

Your success rate in curing disease is precisely 0%. Pack up now.

Chris: You say “Cancer was virtually unheard of at the beginning of the 20th Century, and not through lack of reporting, but of a lack of incidence”

The first documented case of cancer in the written record was around 3000BC, but it exists throughout the fossil record in both humans and other animals.

Many cancers are indolent. People commonly died of something else before the cancer became aggressive. In the days when dissection was taboo, there was no chance this would be understood.

It is not a surprise that with a near-doubling of human lifespans in just a few generations, a disease that is predominantly one of old age, has become more prevalent. It is entirely false to suggest that cancer is a “modern” disease.

Phil says:
25 May 2013

That study examined one type of cancer treatment, cytotoxic chemotherapy, used in isolation and over a comparatively short timescale, 1998-2003. There are at least 50 drugs used in various types of chemotherapy either individually or in combination.

Once again the use of selective and distorted evidence.

Phil, True, but the term “cytotoxic chemotherapy” is used almost exclusively by cranks. The word “cytotoxic” means “kills cells” Specifically, cancer cells. That is very much the point 🙂

Phil,
not entirely sure how you arrived at the time period of 1998-2003 when in fact it was 1990 to 2004. All chemotherapy is by definition cytotoxic because it is used to treat malignancies by directly killing tumor cells. Cytotoxic drugs include drugs that are primarily used to treat cancer, frequently as part of a chemotherapy regime and a term in frequent use by medicine, and not by cranks.
The study examined all chemotherapy in a wide variety of cancers, so I suggest you read that again or there could possibly be some comprehension issues here.

We should bear in mind that chemotherapy used in cancer therapy, is non-selective and targets/inhibits all bodily growth, damaging all organs and cells rather than selectively seeking out only cancerous cells. I have witnessed the results of chemo’ and it is not very a pleasant sight to behold.
Cancer rates are expected to increase 75% By 2030………………………..
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/246061.php

Since 1971 the United States has invested over $200 billion on cancer research; that total includes money invested by public and private sectors and foundations.
Despite this huge investment, the country has seen only a five percent decrease in the cancer death rate (adjusting for size and age of the population) between 1950 and 2005. Longer life expectancy may be a contributing factor to this, as cancer rates and mortality rates increases significantly with age, so yes Guy, more than three out of five cancers are diagnosed in people aged 65 and over and a disease associated with old age.
All of this illustrates only too well the failure of Modern Medicine to address the disease in any meaningful way. An ounce of prevention though, is worth………

Nearly half of cancers diagnosed in the UK each year – over 130,000 in total – are caused by avoidable life choices including smoking, drinking and eating the wrong things, but is this ever promoted to a society that thinks it can live as it pleases and then pop into their GP’s, pop a pill and that will suffice to cure their malady?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16031149

The point I am making, is that the critique of Homeopathy by WHICH and the participants in this thread is a relatively meaningless task in comparison to other more urgent issues that affect the health of the Nation.
Medicine has always stated “first do no harm”, so can anyone actually prove that Homeopathy is harmful? and even if it does use a placebo effect, if this helps the patient in any appreciable way then all to the good.
I suggest we all get our own house in order before spending time critiquing an innocuous approach to healing. There are far more urgent issues that need to be addressed than pursuing a red herring and wasting our valuable time.

Dr. Nancy Malik says:
26 May 2013

@guy
research studies showing Role of homeopathy in treatment of cancer

1. Evidence-based Complimentary & Alternative Medicine
Dynamized Preparations in Cell Culture (2009)
Carcinosinum 200C,Conium,Lycopodiumactivates beneficial gene p53 which provides defense against tumour/cancer

2. Integrative Cancer Therapies
Effect of Sabal serrulata on prostate cancer growth (2006)

3. International Journal of Oncology
Ruta 6c induces cell deaths in brain cancer cells: A novel treatment for human brain cancer (2003) Ruta in combination with calarea phos, in vitro and in vivo

There are many more studies.

Nancy, you are obfuscating again. There is no credible evidence that homeopathy is effective in treating or curing cancer, and no plausible mechanism by which it could do so.

With P=0.05, all you need is for twenty homeopaths to run studies and not bother publishing the 19 that fail to show benefit, and you have the result you claim. In fact it’s worse than that because when homeopaths run studies, they tend to use biased methodologies so the probability of a false positive result is greatly increased.

That’s why these cherry-picked studies have failed to change the scientific consensus that homeopathy is nonsense.

Chris: “Nearly half of cancers diagnosed in the UK each year – over 130,000 in total – are caused by avoidable life choices including smoking, drinking and eating the wrong things, but is this ever promoted to a society that thinks it can live as it pleases and then pop into their GP’s, pop a pill and that will suffice to cure their malady?”

Have you not noticed the fact that tobacco products all carry mandatory health warnings? Have you not seen the legion of health promotion campaigns?

It astonishes me that you can say with a straight face that healthy lifestyle choices such as not smoking are not promoted in the UK. That is one of the most bizarre claims you have made to date.

Phil says:
26 May 2013

I derived the figures by seeking out the original report. You’ll see here that it was submitted in 2003 and used data from 1998.

http://www.clinicaloncologyonline.net/article/S0936-6555(04)00222-5/abstract

May I draw your attention to the Conclusions?

Thank you Phil, but that does not invalidate the evidence.
Chemotherapy is a barbaric form of treatment: always has been and always will be, because it is not selective, and targets ALL of the cells of the body.

A recent survey noted that 9 out of 10 Oncologists would refuse Chemotherapy. Enough said.

Just one quote Phil,
“Most cancer patients in this country (USA) die of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy does not eliminate breast, colon, or lung cancers. This fact has been documented for over a decade, yet doctors still use chemotherapy for these tumors,” Allen Levin, MD UCSF in The Healing of Cancer.

Take the cancer drug tamoxifen, for example. It is classified by the World Health Organization and the American Cancer Society as a human carcinogen, and can cause over two dozen health-destroying side effects, and yet it is still being used as a first line treatment for certain types of breast cancer. This sound sensible to you Phil?

Or……………
The following report presented at the 27th Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium illustrates how chemo actually spreads cancer cells, as well as points out how little we are being told about the dangers of chemo:

“German investigators from Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena, have shown that taxol (the “gold standard of chemo”) causes a massive release of cells into circulation.

“Such a release of cancer cells would result in extensive metastasis months or even years later, long after the chemo would be suspected as the cause of the spread of the cancer. This little known horror of conventional cancer treatment needs to be spread far and wide, but it is not even listed in the side effects of taxol.”

You are on a losing streak here if you persist with claiming that chemo’ is in any way of benefit to anyone with cancer.
Give this a thorough read……
http://www.naturalnews.com/037768_chemotherapy_oncologists_hype.html

You have missed the point entirely Guy and your reply is rather naive.
Read that again………………life choices including smoking, drinking and eating the wrong things, where you have just highlighted “smoking” for convenience, and probably in pursuit of your argument.
Notice the other items listed: drinking and EATING THE WRONG THINGS.

Fruits and vegetables (esp’ the cruciferous vegetables) for example have a strong prophylactic effect against cancers, as does Cholecalciferol or Vitamin D3 which is reported to prevent 77% or all cancers……..
http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/diet/cruciferous-vegetables
http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/super-veggies-cruciferous-vegetables
http://www.naturalnews.com/021892_vitamin_D_American_Cancer_Society.html

Lack of exercise/activity is also strongly implicated in cancer causation.

Smoking is sort of “discouraged” but still available on every street corner shop and supermarket, but the emphasis here should be on “eating the wrong things” as well where processed foods are heavily linked to cancer………………
http://www.naturalnews.com/022025_processed_foods_blood_sugar.html

Read this you may learn something regarding diet, physical activity and the prevention of cancer…..
http://eprints.ucl.ac.uk/4841/1/4841.pdf

The points I am making Guy are that lifestyle choices in diet/exercise greatly reduces the risk of cancers, but this is not promoted and encouraged as it should or could be: there are too many vested interests who make a living out of cancer: no cancer no income.
The outcome is one where cancer incidence is increasing because of all of this, and Medicine is attempting to deal with the ever-growing legacy of harmful lifestyle choices that would probably put Oncologists out of business, or severely reduce their income.

@Chrisb1: I am absolutely confident that the day a better alternative is found to chemotherapy, the oncologists of the world will unite in rejoicing and adopting it.

For now it is used because it is the best ting we have. Doctors frequently refuse chemo, because they know it typically extends life only by a few months, but patients make that choice for themselves, as fully informed as the available evidence allows.

None of which justifies homeopathy, which has no credible evidence of effect against cancer and for which no remotely plausible mechanism has ever been advanced.

Chris, again you are taking your information from polemical not analytical sources.

Have you not heard the phrases “five a day” or “one of your five a day”? These come from public health campaigns focusing on eating the right things. The NHS Choices website has a great index of them: http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/Pages/Livewellhub.aspx The best evidence-based advice right now is: “eat food, not too much, mostly plants”.

NaturalNews repeats all kind of crackpot claims for miracle diets – it promotes as fact the bogus claims of Robert O Young, for example. Mike “HealthDanger” Adams is a crank, his approach to anything branded “natural” is essentially uncritical, and his approach to science and medicine is frankly paranoid.

The page from the NCI is more balanced: it notes that animal models show a potential benefit. And you may be absolutely confident that once this is proven also in humans, recommendations will follow.

For the long and inglorious history of inflated claims based on animal models which later turn out to be misleading or wrong, see the excellent “Behind The Headlines” section on the NHS Choices website: http://www.nhs.uk/News/Pages/NewsIndex.aspx

Yes Guy, I have heard of the “five a day”, hasn’t everyone? I agree with you as well that the best advice re’ diet is one that is plant-based, but how many people follow that advice? not many I can assure you.
We are inundated with fast-food outlets that sell junk food, not to mention the influence of “Big Food” who promote disease-causing foods. The burden of this cost is only too clear, and where this kind of dietary lifestyle is leading to the bankruptcy of the United States, as well as here in the UK with the ever increasing costs of the NHS with diseases that are largely of a dietary and lifestyle origin.

Quite a sweeping statement re’ NaturalNews, which btw mostly reports on the science of health and disease causation and from actual studies, and is not prone to sensationalism. Your opinion of Mike Adams is just that, an opinion, which I and millions of others do not agree with, so do you have anything with which to substantiate your wild accusations? You speak as if you know him personally, but we know you are only speculating rather than stating anything of substance and fact. Not the hallmark of a scientists Guy.

@Chris: Right, so you have heard of the heath promotion campaigns but dismiss them because they do not follow the letter of cranks who claim that X, Y or Z “superfood” prevents cancer, but instead wait for credible and robust scientific evidence.

There is a word for people who think that way. The word is: crank.

By a bizarre coincidence* such people form the bulk of the readers and contributors to NaturalNews, a site whose editorial policy is, pretty much: “call it natural, it’s good, show me scientific evidence, it;s definitely evil”. Adams supports all manner of provable quackery, even – so help me – Jim Humble’s “MIracle Mineral Solution”< which consists of drinking bleach in the belief it will cure AIDS< cancer, malaria and the common cold.

The only reasonable way to categorise that site is: utterly unreliable. Those less charitable than me would assert that anything HealthDanger promotes is almost certainly b******t, but I reserve that for whale.to, where long experience indicates that it is literally true.

* No, actually, not a coincidence at all.

There seems to be a slight comprehension issue here Guy, and it is not coming from me. I did not say I dismiss the health-promotion campaigns; so just to clarify this, this is good advice of course: to stop smoking and eat your five a day and do some light exercise, and get adequate sleep and so on, but the % of the population who take this advice is quite minimal, and the result is an over-burdened NHS and the costs of maintaining the same. This financial burden therefore would be eased considerably if they did, but on the whole they do not.
Nothing “cranky” about that.

My guess is you haven’t even researched or read NaturalNews at all, and are therefore not in a position to make any judgement one way or another, just as your opinion of Mike Adams is based on what you believe him to be, rather that stating anything that is based in fact.

Cranks like me endorse Nutraceuticals over taking prescription drugs and for these reasons……………….http://www.escardio.org/communities/councils/ccp/e-journal/volume9/Pages/Understanding-Nutraceuticals-Guida.aspx#.UaTJjaL_nTo
http://www.ajpcr.com/Vol3Issue1/265.pdf

Your definition as to what a “superfood” is, is misleading to say the least.

Chris: what you dismiss is anything that falls short of full-on “natural woo”, predictable enough given your support for homeopathy, antivax and other rooms of woo.

It’s notable that virtually every source you cite is on a crank website such as Natural News, whale.to, AoA or whatever. There is a reason why these grossly inflated and misleadingly named products tend not to make the mainstream, and it’s not because they are being suppressed.

Massive exaggeration of early results is the stock-in-trade of natural woo, and of course early results are almost always overstated and not infrequently completely wrong. And that is not restricted to the products sold by the natural woo peddlers.

The poll, so far, indicates that 81% of those voting say that pharmacists should only recommend remedies backed by science. Since pharmacists are trained in science, it seems likely that they will be more supportive. On the basis that some people have a rather negative view of science and of the NHS, I reckon that this is quite encouraging.

Dr. Nancy Malik says:
26 May 2013

@wavechange
“he poll, so far, indicates that 81% of those voting say that pharmacists should only recommend remedies backed by science.”

Backed by Science means that pharmacist should caution customers about side effects including deaths due to some medicines which are toxic due to high doses.

Nancy,
within European medicine, CAM has the same status as conventional medicine, and is practiced widely, including homeopathy. The Doctors there warn of publishing any CAM research and or studies or products within the UK, because of the antipathy/animosity that occurs here from Mainstream stalwarts that we have been debating here, including the qualified stalwarts.
A rather predictable outcome wouldn’t you say?

Chris, within European medicine SCAM (supplements and complementary and alternative medicine) does not have the same status as medicine. Supplements and other complementary products do not have to prove efficacy, and as a result they cannot be sold with indications in the same way as medicines.

Homeopathy has no side effects because it has no effects. Pharmacists already have to warn customers of known side effects when selling medicines, and the medicines themselves carry mandatory labels which also include these side effects. A system of adverse incident reporting exists.

It is beyond all credibility that something which works as well as you claim homeopathy does, can never induce an unintended effect. In fact this is just another example of homeopaths’ reliance on the post-hoc fallacy.

Dr. Nancy Malik says:
26 May 2013

@Chris
Thank You Chris for updating me on it. Clearly the status of research in europe is pathetic. Good researchers have to move out of europe to pursue research.

There is a dearth of research and research journals in CAM disciplines. In last 200 years the research on homeopathy in just around 30 dedicated CAM journals. Compare to this, there have been around 95 integrative journals where research on homeopathy has been published. This shows that research community should focus on starting new journals.

Thank You for helping me realise this anomaly. I will try to create awareness about this in research community.

Nancy: I love the way you applaud the results of the scientific method in isolating issues with medicine, but wave them away when they contradict your religious beliefs.

The scientific method that discovers problems with medicine, also finds homeopathy to be bogus.

Nancy

In the UK, every prescription drug is provided with information that highlights side-effects, known interactions with other drugs and other useful information. In my experience, both GPs and pharmacists draw attention to possible problems. I know people who have been warned about the risks of taking certain powerful drugs, in the same way that anyone offered surgery is briefed and must consent to an operation. I don’t think that anyone is pretending that prescription drugs are completely safe, but I doubt that many people will doubt that they have helped extend the life expectancy and quality of life for many in the western world. As I have mentioned earlier, I believe that there is significant overuse of drugs, but at Guy says, that is not relevant to this discussion.

I am concerned that those who substitute homeopathy for mainstream medicine could suffer unnecessarily and even die as a result. Perhaps if homeopaths take the lead and warn us about the risks of their therapy, that would set a good example for those prescribing drugs. I expect that they will deny there is a problem.

Dr. Nancy Malik says:
26 May 2013

@Guy, it’s the other way around

It’s not the homeopathy which is bogus but with the kind of research tumbling out stating the side effects of conmed vaccines, people are questioning whether they work at all or its just a toxic water with formaldehyde, surfactants, etc in it. I think scientific community must allay fears of public.

Dr. Nancy Malik says:
26 May 2013

@Wavechange

You are unnecessary defending conmed medicines when you and i know they many pharma companies do even bother to mention their side effects on the medicine cover outside. They would simply state that take it under medical supervision, The side effects are mentioned in a leaflet inside the packaging.

Nancy – It is many years since I last saw a prescription drug that was not supplied with a leaflet describing their side-effects, etc. Selected information is commonly put on the printed label put on the packet or bottle. I don’t see a problem with having the information in a leaflet and it is possible to read this before taking the drug.

GPs are encouraged to report suspected adverse drug interactions to the MHRA (regulator for medicines in the UK) via the ‘yellow card’ system.

I’m not going to continue a dialogue discussing conventional medical care. I notice that you have not responded to my criticism that those taking homeopathic ‘remedies’ may deny themselves the benefit of recognised medicines.

If Wikipedia is to be believed, the use of homeopathy in the UK is dropping fast. I believe that the days of NHS having anything to do with homeopathy are numbered.

Nancy: You are engaging in proof by assertion, a logically invalid argument.

Medicine can be shown, by objective tests, to have measurable effects on human physiology. These tests are not dependent on believing in the mechanism of action. Antibiotics kill bacteria. Beta blockers measurably affect cardiac arrhythmia.

No specific objectively measurable effect has been demonstrated for homeopathy. No remotely plausible mechanism has ever been proposed by which this could even happen.

“I am concerned that those who substitute homeopathy for mainstream medicine could suffer unnecessarily and even die as a result. Perhaps if homeopaths take the lead and warn us about the risks of their therapy, that would set a good example for those prescribing drugs. I expect that they will deny there is a problem”.

Adverse effects of homeopathy: a systematic review……………..

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3644880/
“Of even greater concern is the reporting of a case report by Geukens of cure by homeopathy, which has been reported by Posadzki et al. as a case of homeopathy causing ‘heart disease and bladder cancer’. In actual fact, the patient was cured from his initial symptoms of vertigo and heart disease using homeopathic medicines; he then presented 7 years later with cancer of the bladder. It is difficult to see how the causality of the cancer could be attributed to the successful treatment of the heart-condition. The cancer was subsequently treated using conventional treatment, the side-effects of which were successfully dealt with using homeopathy. The patient recovered, with no further complaint”.

Homeopathy is safe…………..

“A new detailed report from the European Council for Classical Homeopathy (ECCH) entitled ‘The Safety of Homeopathy’ concludes that homeopathic treatment is safe. Published in January, it comes at a time when patient safety is high on the political agenda of the European Union.

Adverse prescription drug reactions………………….

The European Commission has recently published figures estimating that 197,000 deaths per year in the EU are caused by adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and that the total cost to society of ADRs in the EU is €79 billion”…………..
http://www.echamp.eu/news/newsletter/newsletter-archive/2009/march/homeopathy-is-safe.html

Chris, this is semantically equal to arguing that plane crashes validate travelling by magic carpet.

Homeopathy has no clinical effects. To focus on whether it has adverse effects is to miss the point entirely.

And actually the main danger with homeopathy (as with other forms of SCAM) is that the patient substitutes it for proper medicine, so delaying effective treatment. This is why cancer patients who use SCAM have worse outcomes.

Guy…”Homeopathy has no clinical effects”.

Then you have ignored the evidence for those clinical effects. Simple.

To refer to Homeopathy as “SCAM” should be compared to other “SCAM” such as chemotherapy.

Chris: My mistake: homeopathy has no *provable* clinical effects, other than placebo. But as usual you pick holes in semantics in order to try to imply a false conclusion: homeopathy is bogus, according to the best evidence we have.

As I have pointed out several times now, issues with medicine validate homeopathy in precisely the same way that plane crashes validate magic carpets.

To assert that a treatment with a poor evidence base justifies another whose evidence base is even poorer and which is, in addition, physically, chemically and biochemically utterly implausible, is very silly indeed.

Yes – pharmacists should only recommend remedies backed by science.

This is the kind of all encompassing statement that implies science is fixed in time , and also not subject to fallacious proofs provided by vested interests. Please read on for recent news reports in the last month or so and then watch TED.com where the highly respected Dr. Goldacre reveals the scientific fraud pervasive in the drug industy

This from Pro Publica April 2013

” Based partly on records in the file boxes, the FDA eventually concluded that the lab’s violations were so “egregious” and pervasive that studies conducted there between April 2005 and August 2009 might be worthless.

The health threat was potentially serious: About 100 drugs, including sophisticated chemotherapy compounds and addictive prescription painkillers, had been approved for sale in the United States at least in part on the strength of Cetero Houston’s tainted tests. The vast majority, 81, were generic versions of brand-name drugs on which Cetero scientists had often run critical tests to determine whether the copies did, in fact, act the same in the body as the originals. For example, one of these generic drugs was ibuprofen, sold as gelatin capsules by one of the nation’s largest grocery-store chains for months before the FDA received assurance they were safe. ”

Cetero are a commercial testing company and in a way in a very analogous position to the rating agencies rating bonds – a vested interest in giving the acceptable answer.

However I have not got to the drug companies themselves who indulge in some very underhand practices in obtaining a right to market. This from “Huffington Post” May 25th 2013.

“Published articles about psychiatric drugs frequently fail to reflect the actual results of the study. After the FDA rejected an antidepressant clinical trial for failing to demonstrate effectiveness, the pharmaceutical company authored a paper based on the same study that was manipulated to show a positive outcome. In another example, a major journal editor was complicit with a drug company in publishing an article about a benzodiazepine tranquilizer that emphasized its supposed effectiveness at six weeks. But the study had lasted an additional two weeks, at which time many of the patients had become addicted to the drug and were suffering from greater than before starting the medication. ”

So when we talk about evidence based science please lets get real about the quality of “science” that is provided. It seems quite laughable about people getting hot under the collar over homeopathy when far more people are being treated with main stream drugs backed by false or partially reported science.

Please watch:
ben_goldacre_what_doctors_don_t_know_about_the_drugs_they_prescribe
on TED.com where he reveals how far science based medicine is corrupt. And if you watch it he will tell you how 100,000 Americans were given a drug less effective than a placebo and died. Of the numerous negative trials that go missing.

This does not make homeopathy “better” it just points out that “science” is not what you might think it is.

@dieseltaylor I am glad to hear you are a fan of Ben Goldacre. Here’s what he says about homeopathy:

“There are some aspects of quackery that are harmless – childish even – and there are some that are very serious indeed. On Tuesday, to my great delight, the author Jeanette Winterson launched a scientific defence of homeopathy in these pages. She used words such as “nano” meaninglessly, she suggested that there is a role for homeopathy in the treatment of HIV in Africa, and she said that an article in the Lancet today will call on doctors to tell their patients that homeopathic “medicines” offer no benefit.”

“The article does not say that, and I should know, because I wrote it. It is not an act of fusty authority, and I claim none: I look about 12, and I’m only a few years out of medical school. This is all good fun, but my adamant stance, that I absolutely lack any authority, is key: because this is not about one man’s opinion, and there is nothing even slightly technical or complicated about the evidence on homeopathy, or indeed anything, when it is clearly explained.”

In the fantasy world of homeopathy, where appeals to authority trump actual evidence, accepting Goldacre as an authority is very definitely an own goal!

Thank you to all the homeopaths here, you have clarified my understanding of the term “Humpty-Dumptathy”. http://www.chapmancentral.co.uk/blahg/2013/05/humpty-dumptathy/

ojeronimo says:
26 May 2013

Evidence Based Medicine: What it is and what it isn’t
BMJ 1996; 312 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7023.71 (Published 13 January 1996)
Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:71
David L Sackett, William M C Rosenberg, J A Muir Gray, R Brian Haynes, W Scott Richardson
It’s about integrating individual clinical expertise and the best external evidence
Evidence based medicine is the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients. The practice of evidence based medicine means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research. By individual clinical expertise we mean the proficiency and judgment that individual clinicians acquire through clinical experience and clinical practice. Increased expertise is reflected in many ways, but especially in more effective and efficient diagnosis and in the more thoughtful identification and compassionate use of individual patients’ predicaments, rights, and preferences in making clinical decisions about their care. By best available external clinical evidence we mean clinically relevant research, often from the basic sciences of medicine, but especially from patient centred clinical research into the accuracy and precision of diagnostic tests (including the clinical examination), the power of prognostic markers, and the efficacy and safety of therapeutic, rehabilitative, and preventive regimens. External clinical evidence both invalidates previously accepted diagnostic tests and treatments and replaces them with new ones that are more powerful, more accurate, more efficacious, and safer.
Good doctors use both individual clinical expertise and the best available external evidence, and neither alone is enough. Without clinical expertise, practice risks becoming tyrannised by evidence, for even excellent external evidence may be inapplicable to or inappropriate for an individual patient. Without current best evidence, practice risks becoming rapidly out of date, to the detriment of patients.
This description of what evidence based medicine is helps clarify what evidence based medicine is not. Evidence based medicine is neither old hat nor impossible to practice. The argument that “everyone already is doing it” falls before evidence of striking variations in both the integration of patient values into our clinical behaviour7 and in the rates with which clinicians provide interventions to their patients.8 The difficulties that clinicians face in keeping abreast of all the medical advances reported in primary journals are obvious from a comparison of the time required for reading (for general medicine, enough to examine 19 articles per day, 365 days per year9) with the time available (well under an hour a week by British medical consultants, even on self reports10).
The argument that evidence based medicine can be conducted only from ivory towers and armchairs is refuted by audits from the front lines of clinical care where at least some inpatient clinical teams in general medicine,11 psychiatry (J R Geddes et al, Royal College of Psychiatrists winter meeting, January 1996), and surgery (P McCulloch, personal communication) have provided evidence based care to the vast majority of their patients. Such studies show that busy clinicians who devote their scarce reading time to selective, efficient, patient driven searching, appraisal, and incorporation of the best available evidence can practice evidence based medicine.
Evidence based medicine is not “cookbook” medicine. Because it requires a bottom up approach that integrates the best external evidence with individual clinical expertise and patients’ choice, it cannot result in slavish, cookbook approaches to individual patient care. External clinical evidence can inform, but can never replace, individual clinical expertise, and it is this expertise that decides whether the external evidence applies to the individual patient at all and, if so, how it should be integrated into a clinical decision. Similarly, any external guideline must be integrated with individual clinical expertise in deciding whether and how it matches the patient’s clinical state, predicament, and preferences, and thus whether it should be applied. Clinicians who fear top down cookbooks will find the advocates of evidence based medicine joining them at the barricades.
Some fear that evidence based medicine will be hijacked by purchasers and managers to cut the costs of health care. This would not only be a misuse of evidence based medicine but suggests a fundamental misunderstanding of its financial consequences. Doctors practising evidence based medicine will identify and apply the most efficacious interventions to maximise the quality and quantity of life for individual patients; this may raise rather than lower the cost of their care.
Evidence based medicine is not restricted to randomised trials and meta-analyses. It involves tracking down the best external evidence with which to answer our clinical questions. To find out about the accuracy of a diagnostic test, we need to find proper cross sectional studies of patients clinically suspected of harbouring the relevant disorder, not a randomised trial. For a question about prognosis, we need proper follow up studies of patients assembled at a uniform, early point in the clinical course of their disease. And sometimes the evidence we need will come from the basic sciences such as genetics or immunology. It is when asking questions about therapy that we should try to avoid the non-experimental approaches, since these routinely lead to false positive conclusions about efficacy. Because the randomised trial, and especially the systematic review of several randomised trials, is so much more likely to inform us and so much less likely to mislead us, it has become the “gold standard” for judging whether a treatment does more good than harm. However, some questions about therapy do not require randomised trials (successful interventions for otherwise fatal conditions) or cannot wait for the trials to be conducted. And if no randomised trial has been carried out for our patient’s predicament, we must follow the trail to the next best external evidence and work from there.
Despite its ancient origins, evidence based medicine remains a relatively young discipline whose positive impacts are just beginning to be validated,12 13 and it will continue to evolve. This evolution will be enhanced as several undergraduate, postgraduate, and continuing medical education programmes adopt and adapt it to their learners’ needs. These programmes, and their evaluation, will provide further information and understanding about what evidence based medicine is and is not.

ojeronimo

You and I have access to the full text of the BMJ article, but Which? Conversation is used by many who do not have access privileges for electronic journals. An article that is open access might not be the best to support a view but no-one is denied access to it.

I am not sure why my comment posted on 26 May has remained at the end of the discussion despite the fact that numerous comments have been posted since. Others deserve the last word on this topic more than me. 🙂

I support Ben Goldacre as he correctly debunks homeopathy and the concept of evidence based science for medicine. He suggests how medicine can be improved for all by rigorous standards and publishing all research and perhaps we and Which? would be best served by putting our energy behind alltrials.net

Ben Goldacre April 2013:
“The UK House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee are currently looking at the problem of clinical trial results being withheld from doctors and patients (partly, the committee says, in response to Bad Pharma, which is heartening). A clear, thoughtful report and policy recommendations from this committee could be an important step towards fixing these problems.

I gave oral evidence this week on a panel with Roche, GSK, and the ABPI (who have previously tried to pretend that all the issues in Bad Pharma were “historic” and “long addressed”). I’ve posted the video below, and I’ve posted my written evidence underneath that. First is my submission addressing the specific questions posed by the Committee, and then my appendix, giving background on the problem of withheld trial results.”

So find a friend or two and get them to see the frauds involving the drug and CAMS industry and see if they can pass the message on. Wasting time on homeopathy is fiddling whilst Rome burns – or is this the distraction technique pointing at one area of potential quackery and going “yaa boo sucks they are worse than we are” and we have “real” tests that prove our stuff scientifically.

And if Which? really feels it can do a consumer service how about debunking beauty products as a waste of money?

ojeronimo says:
26 May 2013

Evidence based medicine

It should also be noted that those who limit sources of evidence to only RCT’s are focusing primarily on the internal validity of such studies. In so doing they disregard the equally important evidence of external validity based on systematic data obtained through clinical effectiveness.

However, when one begins to delve into the origins of Evidence Based Medicine it quickly becomes evident that the founder of EBM, in fact, articulated a holistic approach that included not merely systematic trials but also the response of individual patients to clinical procedure.

The following is quoted from:

http://www.hsl.unc.edu/Services/Tutorials/ebm/whatis.htm

The most common definition of EBM is taken from Dr. David Sackett. EBM is “the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of the individual patient. It means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research.” (Sackett D, 1996)

EBM is the integration of clinical expertise, patient values, and the best evidence into the decision making process for patient care. Clinical expertise refers to the clinician’s cumulated experience, education and clinical skills. The patient brings to the encounter his or her own personal and unique concerns, expectations, and values. The best evidence is usually found in clinically relevant research that has been conducted using sound methodology. (Sackett D, 2002)
The evidence, by itself, does not make a decision for you, but it can help support the patient care process. The full integration of these three components into clinical decisions enhances the opportunity for optimal clinical outcomes and quality of life. The practice of EBM is usually triggered by patient encounters which generate questions about the effects of therapy, the utility of diagnostic tests, the prognosis of diseases, or the etiology of disorders.
Evidence-based medicine requires new skills of the clinician, including efficient literature-searching, and the application of formal rules of evidence in evaluating the clinical literature.

The Six Steps in the EBM Process

The patient

1 Start with the patient – a clinical problem or question arises out of the care of the patient.

The question
2 Construct a well-built clinical question derived from the case
The resource
3 Select the appropriate resource(s) and conduct a search
The evaluation
4 Appraise that evidence for its validity (closeness to the truth) and applicability (usefulness in clinical practice)
The patient
5 Return to the patient – integrate that evidence with clinical expertise, patient preferences and apply it to practice.
Self-evaluation
6 Evaluate your performance with this patient
These individualised patient oriented steps are a far cry from applying the dehumanised statistical results of RCT drug trials upon arbitrarily selected disease labels. Rather EBM does not dictate the specific trial and experience-based methods for obtaining the evidence.
In fact the patient and her/his response included along with the practitioners observation of the patient as well as the practitioners experience all become an integral collective in the treatment of the patient. Any valid systematically collected data that is relevant is also to be considered in the patient treatment picture that is being developed.
This approach blows wide open the simplistic fundamentalist dogma currently being spewed froth by the ‘Cult of the RCT’. Rather, what David Sackett has formulated is a holistic process with which homeopathy has now been conversant and applying for the past 200 years.
It is about time that we begin to acknowledge the real basis of Evidence Based Medicine and stop taking on board the snatched up stick of a limited definition and allow ourselves to be beaten by it.

Selected Bibliography

Hart, Julian What evidence do we need for evidenced based medicine? Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 1997;51:623-629. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1060558/pdf/jepicomh00180-0013.pdf
Sacket, David, et al Evidence based medicine: what it is and what it isn’t. BMJ 1996,312:71
http://www.bmj.com/content/312/7023/71

It should be noted that one of the pleas by homeopaths is to use these “validity” criteria in order to give more weight to the least robust kinds of evidence and thus come up with a more sympathetic outcome.

“It should be noted that one of the pleas by homeopaths is to use these “validity” criteria in order to give more weight to the least robust kinds of evidence and thus come up with a more sympathetic outcome”.

In your opinion, and only your opinion, shared by Mainstream.

Chris, it’s not clear what you are arguing against (other than the reality-based perspective).

The notorious “Swizz report”, Matthieson, Bornhoft et. al. makes precisely that argument to reverse the hierarchy of evidence, and to use the “validity” criteria (and “cognition-based medicine”, i.e. accepting the placebo effects as evidence of clinical effect rather than as a confounder as it should rightly be viewed).

Yes, my view is shared by the mainstream. There is a reason why it’s called mainstream.

ojeronimo says:
29 May 2013

Guy, its too bad that the founder of EBM does not share your opinion.

ojeronimo: EBM doesn’t have a founder, it’s not like homeopathy, it wasn’t invented from whole cloth by one man.

The idea that arbitrarily selected historical figures had a uniquely correct perspective on truth and that subsequent developments are therefore wrong, is not part of science. It is a process, not a religion. Unlike homeopathy of course.

Dr. Nancy Malik says:
26 May 2013

So called skeptics ask for the evidence of homeopathy.
Evidence for homeopathy piles up.
302 research studies in 116 journals upto the end of year 2010.
You gave them the evidence. They remain in denial. They say it’s the wrong type.
They need to be more creative in their denialism.
What convincing evidence would skeptics need to see to change their mind about homeopathy?
For them the problem is not that it doesn’t work, the problem is that it does.

Speaking for myself, the following would begin to be persuasive:

1. A credible and robust proof of the doctrine of similars.
2. A credible and robust explanation of the mechanism of action, from end to end (i.e. one that accounts for every step from mother tincture to the biochemical action n the body).
3. Credible and robust experimental proof of a specific, rather than a nonspecific, effect – i.e. an effect which changes with the remedy.
4. Credible and robust accounting for the differences between the claims of homeopathy and what is found to be useful in science-based medicine.

Above all, if you want any kind of respect, you need to get all homeopaths to stop making claims to treat or cure and to offer their products only as part of rigorously designed clinical trials until such time as there is proof of efficacy equivalent to that required of medicines.

As you love to point out, the standards of proof in medicine are easily manipulated by those with a product to sell, so meeting those same standards really should not be such a challenge.

Guy,
2. A credible and robust explanation of the mechanism of action, from end to end (i.e. one that accounts for every step from mother tincture to the biochemical action n the body).

Didn’t you comment in an earlier post, in response to one of mine that the mechanism of action for pharmaceuticals was not essential?

Aren’t we sort of………moving the goalposts here, a teensy weensy bit?

Chris: It is not necessary to provide a detailed end to end analysis of the biochemical pathways for an established drug, in order to accept that it is plausible. This is separate from the question of efficacy.

For homeopathy, no part of the chain from the purported “proving” to the final claimed effect is chemically, physically or biologically plausible. I ask for an end to end treatment because, as we see here, believers routinely cherry pick tiny bits of esoteric work and claim that because there are silicates in water shaken in glass, thus unicorns. Sorry, homeopathy. This misses the point that even if the silicates were not obviously from the glass itself, as any competent chemist would know, persistence of one substance in dilution would not in fact prove the necessary chain of steps.

So yea, because of its implausibility and the fact that the claims contradict enormous bodies of science, homeopaths do indeed have to provide a fully fleshed out and consistent (both internally and externally) chain of evidence.

Any medicine that was found to rely on a mechanism which was shown not to exist, would I am sure face a similar challenge.

Dr. Nancy Malik says:
27 May 2013

A. Scientific Evidence of Principle of Similars

1. Human and Experimental Toxicology
Postconditioning hormesis and the homeopathic Similia principle: Molecular aspects (2010)

2. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine
The similia principle as a therapeutic strategy: a research programme on stimulation of self-defense (1997)

B. Scientific plausible mechanism of action of super-avogadro’s dilutions in homeopathy

The probability of finding one molecule of the n molecules of the original substance above Avogadro’s limit is extremely small, but not zero.

Memory is a property associated to water present in biological process modulated by high dilutions. Water has the capacity to memorise molecular “energetic signatures” i.e. new energetic state. It means water can store and transmit information of homeopathic potency by means of its hydrogen-bonded network. Succussion strengthens the hydrogen bonds in water structures.Ethanol stabilizes water structures (structural configurations of water) formed during potentisation and preserves them for a long time.

C. Specific and no-specific effects

Any treatment is effective whether conmed, homeopathy, unani, herbal, siddha, chinese, etc because of the both specific (pharmacological/physiological) and non-specific (psychological/placebo) effects

D. Funny! Homeopathy is itself a science-based medicine.
If you ask for difference between conmed and science-based medicine, i could list them.

Nancy, it doesn’t matter how often you state your assertion that homeopathy is a science-based medicine, the fact remains that it is not medicine and is not science-based.

It does not follow the scientific method. All homeopaths’ tests are designed to confirm a dogma which is itself never challenged. That is the very opposite of science. In fact, it is religion.

Your claims to support evaporate under even cursosry scrutiny. Hormesis, for example, is an inflexion in the dose-response curve over a narrow range – outside this range the normal exponential decay of effect with dilution is seen. We know this because hormesis is a measurable effect of pharmacologically active doses. Homeopthy is not objectively measurable, does not use pharmacologically active doses, and posits a reversal of the dose-response relationship which has never been objectively demonstrated, at some point which must by implication be outside the bounds of the measurements made by pharmacologists. To propose that an objectively verifiable effect is the same as an objectively unverifiable effect which is different in character and exists only in ranges of dose which have never been measured is simply preposterous.

It is precisely that kind of intellectual dishonesty that prevents homeopaths being taken seriously.

The most commonly used CAM therapies in Europe that are practised by Medical Doctors
are acupuncture, homeopathy, phytotherapy, anthroposophic medicine, naturopathy,
Traditional Chinese Medicine, osteopathy and chiropractic.

Approximately 45,000 medical doctors in Europe have taken training and education in
homeopathy. Many more doctors in Europe prescribe homeopathic medicines without any
homeopathic training: approximately 25-40 % of the GPs from time to time, 6-8 % of them on
a more regular basis…………
http://www.camdoc.eu/Pdf/CAMDOCRegulatoryStatus8_10.pdf

And of course these 45,000 Medical Doctors use Homeopathy because it does not work, and is totally ineffective at treating any health condition.!

Chris: Your fallacy is argumentum ad populum. The prevalence of a delusion does not make it any less a delusion.

More detailed surveys find, I believe, that the figure is misleading in that most of them do not volunteer this bogus treatment but merely shrug and provide it when asked. A recent meta-analysis found fewer than 10% of GPs actively using homeopathy.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/fct.12018/abstract

Amazingly, this journal apparently uses upper limits rather than weighted averages and comes up with a much higher estimate. Who could possibly have predicted that?

@dieseltaylor
It is certainly good advice to listen to Ben Goldacre. But don’t forget to read his first book too. In Bad Science, he points out that the alternative medicine industry sells things that don’t work (and sometimes kill). using methods exactly like those of Big Pharma.

Never forget that alternative medicine and “supplements” are huge and profitable industries, every bit as ruthless as Big Pharma.

The main difference is that at least some of the products of Big Pharma work. Or do you prefer to have teeth drilled without a local anaesthetic?

David, if you would like to prove that “supplements” do not work I would appreciate it, but try not to post on the slanted and biased studies that were designed to fail from the outset.
Thank you.

Chris, as usual you are arguing with a straw man. The scientific consensus is that supplements are unnecessary for most people. In almost every case you are better off remedying any dietary deficiency by eating a better diet.

Supplements rely on implied claims to reverse aging, promote health or the immune system and so on. These claims are based on the fallacious idea that because X is biochemically necessary, so more of X must improve whatever function X supports. In reality the body has a finely tuned system of homeostasis and what you are enriching is the manufacturers and your urine.

For what its worth Guy and in answer to your comment: “The scientific consensus is that supplements are unnecessary for most people. In almost every case you are better off remedying any dietary deficiency by eating a better diet”……………is about as naive as you can get.

Just one illustration: there is a Global Vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency because dietary sources are inadequate and not everyone can avail themselves to the sunshine vitamin of daily UVB exposure, and because of climate and other reasons: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18844843
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/

D deficiency is not just implicated in rickets or Osteomalacia, but increases the risk of a host of chronic diseases, such as osteoporosis, heart disease, some cancers, and multiple sclerosis, as well as infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and even the seasonal flu.
So how do we receive sufficient amounts of Vitamin D in the absence of sunlight exposure, and woefully inadequate dietary sources? Supplements would be the only solution.

If you would care to read the science and the references here on Vitamin D supplementation………
http://www.optimalhealthresearch.com/reprints/vasquez-manso-cannell-vitamindmonograph-athm.pdf

There are many more examples with other nutrients.

We should also be aware that most food grown today is produce that has been grown in nutrient-depleted soils, and if you have nutrient-depleted soils, then you can only expect to have nutrient-deficient crops; this in turn also means a nutrient-deficient YOU…………..
http://www.canadianlongevity.net/misc/mineral_depletion.php
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/todays-fruits-vegetables-lack-yesterdays-nutrition/article4137315/

The Illusion of a Balanced Diet………………………
“Modern farming practices propagate select varieties of crops and use farming techniques aimed at higher yield and economic gains, and not nutritional gains. As a result our food contains fewer nutrients these days and those are further depleted by our processing methods”…………
http://www.calmnatural.co.uk/magnesium-deficiency-food

Chris: There is a marked contrast between your support for poorly evidence but financially lucrative SCAM and your opposition to less poorly evidenced and still lucrative medicine.

The topic on the card is the fact that pharmacists are failing to follow the evidence when selling a particular type of product, homeopathy. You seem to want them not only to sell these unevidenced products, but to make many other unevidenced claims besides. You also appear to want them to overstate the downsides of medicine (overstate, that is, by comparison tot he actual evidence).

You appear to think that all doctors are evil (because they give vaccinations) unless they have been actively sanctioned by the GMC, in which case they are saints.

Your sources for these beliefs appear to be crank websites which you falsely believe are useful sources of objective information.

And yet you assert that the problem is with the reality-based community. Odd.

Pharmacists are selling a product which makes them money, and making false claims for that product. Why, in your mind, is this only good when the products have no credible evidence at all?

chrisb1

This Conversation is not the place to post comments about nutritional supplements.

Paul Morgan (@drpaulmorgan) says:
29 May 2013

So why have you brought vaccination into this discussion about homeopathy?

Nancy, it is quite clear by now that further discussion/debate is futile with people who have a predetermined agenda.
Science as we know it is about having an “open mind” to ALL possibilities, so there is little point in pursuing this further with people who have “closed minds”.

Chris, you are absolutely right. The only issue is that you have failed to correctly identify the “predetermined agenda”.

Homeopathy is a religion, it is founded on the acceptance of the literal word of Hahnemann.

Members of the reality-based community have spent many hours patiently explaining to you and Nancy how you would go form being a religion to being a system of medicine, the kinds of evidence you need, the kinds of confounding factors you need to identify, the kinds of sources you should stop using because they are sources only of confirmation bias.

Your collective response has been to continually repeat points refuted a thousand times.

That is normal for homeopathy and is a large part of why it has self-evidently failed to change the scientific consensus.

Yes, that is all very well: he may indeed have been the inventor of the new vaccine, but he does state that he did this on the grounds of safety over the current vaccine in use at the time.

Having or holding a Patent does not necessarily mean that you will profit from it: you would have to prove “intent” rather than speculate and arrive at conclusions that are at best conjectural.

We will have to await the outcome of the Texas Court hearing where charges have been made by Andrew Wakefields legal team against Fiona Godlee, the BMJ and Brian Deer. His Attorneys have advised him (truthfully) that he stands on solid ground in clearing his name.

For the record, let’s get the Wakefield story correct. Dr. Wakefield never said there was a definite link between vaccines and the MMR vaccination, only that there was a “possible connection” and reason for concern that ought to be investigated.
Also bear in mind that these findings were corroborated by no less than 5 separate studies in 5 different countries and independently at that. I posted a link on this earlier.

I suggest you watch/listen to the videos I posted where they illustrate this situation in his own words.

The GMC is still holding on to its arrogant position that “There is now no respectable body of opinion which supports [Dr Wakefield’s] hypothesis, that MMR vaccine and autism/enterocolitis are causally linked,” may I respectfully inform the GMC that a study performed by a team of doctors at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, involved 275 children that confirmed Dr. Wakefield’s findings regarding bowel disease and the measles virus. Here are the results: 70 out of 82 children tested positive for the measles virus, but just not any ordinary measles virus.

One of the Wake Forest physicians, Dr. Stephen Walker, stated that their research pointed to a vaccine measles strain that was injected into the children and not a wild, natural strain of measles virus that normally transmits from child to child. Interesting? Here’s Dr. Walker’s remark, “Of the handful of results we have in so far, all are vaccine strain and none are wild measles.”

Perhaps the GMC isn’t up to date on reading the medical literature, or they would be hightailing it to overturn the unwarranted decision against Dr. Andrew Wakefield. If GMC had taken the time to do their ‘homework’ they would have found that the Wake Forest University study proves that in the gastro-intestinal tract of children diagnosed with autism, the vaccine measles virus was found in their gut. How did it get there, if not by vaccination, especially with the MMR vaccine? Infants and toddlers normally don’t drink measles-laced formula.

If the Wake Forest study is not enough, how about the 2001 study by Dr. John O’Leary, Professor of Pathology, done at the St. James Hospital and Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, that came up with the same findings as Wake Forest and Dr. Wakefield. Okay, we now have three confirming studies that can no longer be consider the ‘Wakefield hypothesis’.

Something does not comport, and I hope you can follow this. Why would the U.S. National Institutes of Health still have Dr. Wakefield’s findings published as part of its medical library information IF those findings were not respectable? The PDF file of the article is available at this link http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1382498/ .

If the above is not sufficient for the GMC to rethink Dr. Wakefield’s unwarranted striking from the register with immediate reinstatement, then how about their studying the following:

Elevated levels of measles antibodies in children with autism. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12849883
Detection and sequencing of measles virus from peripheral mononuclear cells from patients with inflammatory bowel disease and autism. “The sequences obtained from the patients with ulcerative colitis and children with autism were consistent with being vaccine strains.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10759242

So while most of you seem to have acted as Judge and Jury in believing the propaganda, and only because of the GMC Official line, you should consider making a full investigation into this case as I have.
Judgement without a full investigation is sheer folly and in this case the potential ruination of a mans life and career.

Dr. Nancy Malik says:
27 May 2013

@Chris

I know your patience is wearing thin. But we have to confront skeptics who swear by comed as their religion. Together we can.

It’s the same story for last 200 years. The questions by skeptics are rephrased and answered by homeopaths. Same questions have same answers. So since skeptics are not tired by repeatedly asking same questions, we should also not so. I know we are small in numbers. But together we can stop their false propaganda.

Nancy: Projection, much? As is obvious in this debate, you are a propagandist. Challenging your propaganda with facts is not “false propaganda” except in the sense that calling it propaganda is manifestly false.

Paul Morgan (@drpaulmorgan) says:
29 May 2013

I am yet to see any homeopath answer any question about the pseudoscience of homeopathy with any supporting evidence. Their beliefs and delusions are not evidence. Their inability and/or unwillingness to understand evidence and – in particular – critical appraisal lies at the heart of the matter.

Paul Morgan (@drpaulmorgan) says:
29 May 2013

Texas court case going nowhere fast. Regurgitating papers and articles which have already been discredited epically fails. http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2007/06/26/the-autism-omnibus-the-difference-betwee/

Paul, the autism omnibus trial is a depressing case of the persistence of delusion in the face of facts. The class bringing the action was dissolved after their best cases were addressed and found to be wanting. And those were their best ones. Of course the legion of the confused carries on with thousands of individual claims, draining the parents of resources and time (and the taxpayer of money).

I can see why they persist, though. The evidence that autism begins in the womb is looking quite strong by now, and that can’t be an easy thing to face.

This is not rocket science Guy, it isn’t that difficult to determine what I mean by “predetermined agenda”……………..anything outside the approval and practice of Mainstream Medicine. Voila.
Try and avoid the “straw man” excuse/accusation and adhere to the facts please.

Btw, a religion is a belief system or “a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion” such as the way you approach your animosity against alternatives and in this case with Homeopathy, and also illustrated by your devotion to anything Mainstream.
We are both religious then.

Chris, rocket science is pretty easy, it’s rocket engineering that’s hard.

The “predetermined agenda” of skeptics is that every claim should be supported by evidence. Skeptics are involved in the alltrials initiative, skeptics are involved in challenging the claims of alternatives to medicine.

The predetermined agenda of homeopaths is precisely as with any religion: to spread the faith, and not to challenge it. Homeopathy meets every test of a religion that I can think of. Sacred texts, arcane knowledge, appeals to mystery, appeals to the “god of the gaps”, core doctrines that are assumed and never tested, a lack of objective testability such that disputes are resolved either by interpretation of holy writ or by schism.