Jose -- you should quit with the SHOUTING, it only makes you look deranged.
You know what one of the classic signs of a pseudoscience is? Its most ardent supporters will always claim that it cannot be tested whenever even the most basic testing fails.
Yet even I can devise a test for the homeopathic treatment for warts that would prove conclusively whether or not if works.
1. Put one randomized group under the care of homeopaths. Don't restrict them to one "remedy" -- let the homeopaths use any homeopathic substance or method they like.
2. Let a second randomized group use a series of over-the-counter wart remedies that assist with wart removal. They don't cure you from the virus that causes warts, but they do help in removing the warts themselves.
3. For good measure, have a third randomized group under the care of homeopaths, but they are not allowed to ingest or apply any homeopathic remedies at all. They would be restricted to whatever "holistic" approach to well being the homeopaths choose to employ.
Then, at the end of the testing period, you compare the results. If claims that homeopathy can cure warts is true, then group 1 will fare significantly better than groups 2 or 3. But if the main factor is the placebo effect, then groups 1 and 2 will fare equally better than 3. But if all three groups fare about the same, it would show that claims that homeopathy can cure warts is bunk.
Excuses that you cannot test homeopathy because it varies from person to person is at best, a convenient excuse, and at worst, a mendacious dodge. You should be able design tests that take those things into account, because otherwise your admitting that you have no idea what you are doing from patient to patient.
The only claims I've see so far are either anecdotal (voodoo priests and psychic surgeons can cure people anecdotally too!) or in areas where the faith healers claim all their success too -- either mental health or minor ailments.
P.S. this sentence
"its not A MECHANICAL mechanism...its an ENERGETIC MECHANISM...that works according to Resonance!"
is meaningless tripe. There is no such thing as an energetic mechanism, and "resonance" is just more mystical junk like auras and chakras. It's all just make up to impress the impressionable.
"The problem is, whenever anyone tries to test homeopathic remedies like this in controlled and repeatable circumstances, they *always* find that it doesn't work. You could give the same medication given to your son to 1,000 warty people and not give it to another 1,000 warty people and the results would be exactly the same with both sets of people -- some of them would lose their warts, naturally, but the group taking homeopathic remedy would not be any different from the control group"
"Posted by tacitus on March 1st 2010, 9:11am"
Typical MISTAKE!!sorry...but the PROBLEM IS...when Sceptical IGNORANCE BEGINS!... Sometimes YOU HAVE to treat THE SAME DISEASE with DIFFERENT Homeopathic Remedies...depends in the PATIENT.... that’s why THOSE RANDOM TRIALS SUCKS in homeopathy, its not A MECHANICAL mechanism...its an ENERGETIC MECHANISM...that works according to Resonance! You can´t apply mechanical trials INTO A ENERGY THERAPEUTIC!...IT just don’t FIX FROM THE BEGINING! they are not valid in homeopathy!
Even in chemical Therapeutics..YOU have people that respond to some Anti-Inflammatory and don’t respond to others!..
I´m not against allopahty...it has value...but i can see also the value in homeopathy.
Just don´t apply the same principles to both medicines!...because they are TOTTALY DIFFERENT...
Homeopathy is much more challenger than give Paracetamol or aspirin to the pain of all people!
For those uneducated in Homeopathy I direct you to a recent article in the journal of Oncology which uses diluted substances (our remedies) and finds them effective against cancer cells.
I know of many Homeopaths who have succeeded in aiding cancer suffers regain health again, but they have no desire to publish cases and fight this battle. In this way I suppose homeopathy is its own worst enemy. If all the successful cases were meticulously written up and published the evidence illustrating its effectiveness would be overwhelming , from cancer to in grown toenails.
As the ranters against Homeopathy fail to understand..the remedy that worked for one persons warts will not work for the next persons warts, homeopathy is an individualised system of medicine. It doesn't stand up well under RCT's as it is too big a model to be consistently accurately tested in this manner, there are too many varying factors. For example different Homeopaths using different methodology to decide the correct prescription, different remedies being prescribed, varying potency and dosages; it is very difficult to control these variables in clinical trials. However there have been successful trials which are mostly ignored, but there is not enough funding available to homeopaths to conduct more. And quite frankly I don't think a lot of Homeopaths care, it has come under fire countless times and survived....because pure and simple...it works....
One day all the sceptics will jump on the homeopathy wagon, much like when it was finally discovered the earth was in fact round!!
It is time people stopped saying things like "There is no evidence for Homeopathy","It is just placebo",etc.. Such comments are ignorant. Here are the facts:
A total of 138 RCTs in homeopathy have been published in good quality scientific journals: positive effects have been reported in 60 (44% of the total) and negative findings have been reported in 10 (7%), while 68 (49%) have not been conclusively positive or negative.
Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of homeopathy have also reported positive effects in the following conditions: allergies and upper respiratory tract infections; childhood diarrhoea; rheumatic disease; seasonal allergic rhinitis; vertigo; fibromyalgia; osteoarthritis and sinusitis.
I am a doctor who has taken the trouble to qualify both in Medicine and Homeopathy and I have practiced Homeopathy full-time for 24 years. My clinical experience is that Homeopathy is a stunningly effective and powerful form of healing. It is also a therapy which requires huge dedication,hard work and skill to master and use effectively. Nevertheless hundreds of my patients, many of whom have come to me close to the point of physical or psychological breakdown, have been relieved of severe and often very longstanding suffering.
I don't understand why everyone is calling Homoeopathy a placebo! This is one of the oldest forms of medicine which has been used for hundreads of years long before we all started taking medical drugs. I think it would be a real shame if the NHS stopped funding Homoeopathy as it clearly helps a lot of people who are in pain. If something helps then why write it off just because a scientific label can't be plastered to it! We need to spread the word about alternative therapies. The only reason people don't like alternative therapies is becasue they don't understand them, I think the NHS should put more money into getting these therapies recognised so that it stops all this negative fear that surrounding them.
How many of the detractors of those above have actually spent time with a homeopath?
Finance- £4million for homeopathy- nothing. How much did it cost the NHS for the completely pointless swine flu jabs. Modern medicine is being taken for a very long and expensive ride by the drug companies. To cry rip off for potencies that can not be patented is facile.
How many illnesses are now caused by modern medicine? How many immunisations cause long and lasting damage to our children?
The list of health issues through pollutants that we now eat, drink, inhale are staggering and those who decry a more natural outlook should wake up and use their energies campaigning on some more important issues, there are enough out there. Homeopathy has been around for centuries and is still used and accepted widely in Europe alongside modern medicine. If it is not your choice fine but it is mine and causes no harm to you. If this country followed the holistic approach to health that homeopaths advocate then we would be a healthier society. Modern medicine treats the obese by stapling their stomachs- genius eh!?
To start things off I have to laugh at the amount of haters who have posted twice here. If you are trying to put a point accross in an intelligent manor then I suggest doing it once not two or three times as that is basically backing up how simple you really are.
Secondly, have any of you haters actually tried it? I am willing to bet no.
I had awful eczema when I was a child to the point my fingers bled every day as well as my feet. I had to wear gloves and plimsoles as it was so painful. The Dr prescribed me steroids to try and get rid of it that just didnt work. After 3 + years of bleeding everyday I went to see a homeopath and in under 2 years I was completly clear of it. A friend who also had it as badly as me continued to go to his GP and now from all the medication he has taken, is quite ill. His eczema is also still present.
The pills will not make ANY difference if you don't have an existing problem that can be covered by the medication. It can sometimes also be a bit of trial and error to find the right remedy. I know that when I see/saw my GP, it's no different from that. They seem to say 'try this, try that'.
Don't jump to conclusions, if people really do have cases where it has worked, surely it should be given a chance? Can it be any worse then something like a flu vaccine? I know my grandad after getting his one got phenomia and was on the verge of death. That's obviously safe medicine right there.
Just think before you judge, if you havent tried it after being prescribed from a homeopath (not going to a chemist and buying a random pot of pills and trying to OD like a bunch of fools who clearly don't know how it works) I suggest you don't post.
Experiences from people who have tried it would count for a lot more rather then a bunch of bias people and doctors who can see no further than their own nose.
The problem is, Fed Up, taking your son's warts as an example, if homeopathy was truly able to cure warts with the almost miraculous results that you claim happened to your son, then it would drive all conventional treatments for warts off the market overnight. Everyone with warts would be lining up to be treated homeopathically and being healed the same as your son.
The problem is, whenever anyone tries to test homeopathic remedies like this in controlled and repeatable circumstances, they *always* find that it doesn't work. You could give the same medication given to your son to 1,000 warty people and not give it to another 1,000 warty people and the results would be exactly the same with both sets of people -- some of them would lose their warts, naturally, but the group taking homeopathic remedy would not be any different from the control group. This happens over and over again. It doesn't matter how many anecdotal tales you or anyone else tells, until homeopathic remedies can be proven to repeatedly cure diseases then there is no solid evidence that it can treat anything successfully.
It's not ignorance, or stupidly, or a conspiracy of silence that is causing homeopathy to fail where modern medicine succeeds. It fails because it just doesn't work. There is no mechanism, known, unknown, quantum mechanical or mystical that would even allow it to work. You can't "energize" a bottle of water just by shaking it up and then suddenly discover that it has all kinds of magical healing properties. Not only does it not make any sense scientifically, is simply a ludicrous idea with no basis in fact at all.
The mocking and disdain for homeopaths is well deserved. Billions of pounds is wasted on nothing more than bottle water all dressed up as false hope by homeopaths, many of whom have become rich off the backs of sick people who spend their hard earned money on fake cures.
Here in America they are selling $20 bottle of a fake flu remedy that is made up of hyper-diluted flu vaccine. I calculated that one vial of the real flu vaccine would be enough to make doses of the homeopathic version for the entire population of the United States with some left over. In theory, if everyone in America was to buy it, they could have made $6 billion profit from one vial of flu vaccine!! No wonder the homeopaths are pushing this stuff -- it's a veritable gold mine if you can find enough suckers to buy it.
And you know what the kicker with this homeopathic flu remedy is? It was being sold as an H1N1 flu remedy, and yet the vaccine they diluted into non-existence was entirely for the wrong type of flu!! You see, since nobody bothers to test any of this stuff, they can just make anything up when they sell it.
So, yes, I scorn homeopathic medicine and all those who practice. They are nothing more than old-fashioned snake oil salesman dressed up in fancy clothes.
Barbs, so much less is spent on Homeopathy because it doesn't drain the NHS like Allopathic medicine, how much money and how many years was the common cold unit open for? If they had tried Homeopathy maybe it would have closed a lot earlier , because they may have found something that worked. It closed because no cure could be found. My son's freind is a student and to earn £1000 every so often ;he offers himself as a guinea pig for drug trials - luckily not the one where the guinea pigs swelled up- because they went wrong. How much money is wasted like that ? No one is paid to do a Homeopathic proving. This lad doesn't want his parents knowing he does drug trials because of the risk - surely this is not right, recruiting gullible, broke students- who are afraid to tell their parents what they are doing.
I can't beleive the predudice against Homeopathy, and I can't understand it. When my son was sick, I took him to the doctor, I was told I would have to go and see a specialist, the appointment came through for a couple of months later, so in the meantime someone suggested I go and see a Homeopath. I got an appointment the same week, she gave him a remedy after a full consultation lasting more than an hour. Less than a week later, he was better. When I saw the specialist, he said that is unusual as he would have expected the condition to last a couple of years. It was warts - 45 of them cropping around his body. The Homeopath gave a vacination detox and that's what cleared his skin. So the very system that you are voting against cured the very system you are voting for.
I am not anti your medicine, why are some of you anti our medicine being on the NHS? I see a need for both. I don't think you can knock something until you or your family have tried it and seen it for yourself. Just yesterday I had what is called Dead man's pinch, from closing the clothes line, and trapping my finger in it - if I hadn't had taken Hypericum 200C I think the pain would still be there today, I also rubbed Hypercal Cream on my finger. What have you got in your medicine kit for that Allopaths? My other son had sunstroke once before Scouts camp, to get a refund I needed a GP letter to say he was sick, the GP asked what I exected him to do for sunstoke- I said nothing I just want the letter. Once home, I gave my son Belladonna 30c and Glonoine 30c alternateley - guess what? He was well enough to attend camp the next morning.
Both sons have had Glandular Fever, the older son was given Anti Biotics at 3 years old, because it was undiagnosed- and took years to recover, my younger son once diagnosed was treated Homeopathically, his recovery was so much more complete and faster.
This is only my experience, but I use Homeopathy, Oesteopathy and then Allopathic medicine; if they failed to help, which has only been once- since finding out about Homeopathy 18 years ago- for treatment of Helicobacter pylori .
So far our family have combatted hayfever, glandular Fever, Asthma, Warts, Athlete's Foot, psoriasis,managing a severed ACL after a ski-ing accident, a tooth coming out at a rugby match, two dog bites, broken fingers (again rugby),fear of flying,frozen shoulder, various tummy upsets , coughs and cold and 'flu.
I don't want to convert the world, but we should have the chance to choose- that's all, and I think the NHS has a duty to let people choose.
Most drugs have a list of side effects, even asprin which is sold over the counter. This cannot be said of homeopathy, I'm sure all those of you that had morning sickness and took Thalidomide will testify to that.
I thank you for reading this.
I see two types of comments in this whole "debate" one is very humble and logical and the other is arrogent and self-centric. To my utter amazement people are commenting on something they know nothing or very little about.
someone is keep saying why homeopathy can't cure serious diseases like cancer another one is wondering if homeopathy can even cure something like even flu. I can only sympethise these fellows for their ignorance. I myself experience homeopathy works and know people who are alive todaybecause of homeopathy, recovered from serious disease like cancer. Please do your self a favour and stop attacking homeopathy you might one day benifit from it yourself.
Lol! Those comments make me laugh!!
Do you know Einstein? His formula? Do you know physiqs? Energy principles? Ressonaince???
Homeopathy is not a MATTER MEDICINE! IS AN ENERGY MEDICINE!! that’s why u Will not see a thing! Omfg.. Energy has it owns PRINCIPLES, u just can´t apply MATTER principles! They will not WORK. we have the science to explain it, but not the technology! Or we maybe have, but maybe is somehow HIDE!
OFC there are good and bad homeopaths like all professionals! Homeopathy is much more challenger then Alopathy, because you need to match the exact ENERY PATTERN of the disease to assembly it and take it off!...disease is not a state 1 or 0! Is a progression! When u have the physical destruction seen according to the physiological parameters, only there the docs say you have SOMETHING!...but before that..They just say go home is nothing take this to your pain! In fact you are already ILL before your parameters get modify!... typical….
I have a pharmacy degree, and i´m studying homeopathy because I saw that normal pills do nothing in chronic disease, no..sorry..they actually do..they delay their progression but with the cost of other organs or tissues... IT looks like they do, but they just put you more ill in near future! Antibiotics kills your GERMS That belong to your IMUNE SYSTEM in your Goat ( u have 100 trilions of germ cells in your body at this moment...are u feeling ill??), antiflamatory "kills" your stomach and so on! All those pills attack your vital organs to surive, all those pills attack your vital organs essential for your survival, LIVER AND KIDNEYS!...U will get much more ill after taking them for a middle term! Get real ill and then go to a very good homeopath like Dr Rajan Sakaran and then if you get better say to me that’s placebo! Ahaha :D
And why not studying Physics, electromagnetic propriety, chemistry, biochemistry?
Do you know what the difference between a live and dead cell? The structure is the SAME… but the live one has a differential potential that creates a ELECTRIC FLOW (energy) the dead one doesn’t have that!... very simple!..
I advice all skeptics to study, learn, study learn, about different subjects! And go to a Good homeopath when you get ILL!
Homeopathy has their limits ofc but dont talk about things you dont know!
God Bless you all!
I have used Homeopathy as an extra tool when permitted [safe and effective ]now for 20 years. I find it particularly useful in acutes. In chronic disease the amount of intellectual input required is challenging and addictive but often rewarding. Talk about evidence based medicine . The action of the remedy is elicited by giving doses to healthy people and anything that the remedy produces in these provers it can cure in an ill person. Many of the remedies are based on toxicology of poisons. There is a vast amount of information in out computerised Materia Medicas covering several hundred years of research. I often think when hear of new research now, fitting the most suitable drug to the person and exploring the genome which is really the miasmatic inheritance that Homeopathy has been doing that all along.
I will be greatly saddened if it is removed from the NHS
With respect, Andrea, that's a whole load of pseudo-scientific clap trap. Some mystics have a been argument for their supposed healing powers than those you are using. There is zero evidence to suggest that water has any memory properties at all (which is what you are suggesting is the mechanism) - and I am sure that any chemist with a passing knowledge of the chemical composition and structure of a body of liquid water would laugh in your face at your explanation.
If there is anything to the curative nature of homeopathy it comes entirely from two sources -- the placebo effect (as discussed endlessly) and aspects of holistic care -- seeing to the entire well being of the patient, and not just treating the illness itself. These effects have been studied and are well known to exist. All homeopaths do is wrap all this up in a bundle of woo and claim it for themselves. They are no different from all kinds of mystical healers the world over who claim just as boldly that their way of healing works too.
But the proof of the pudding is in the results. Being curing real diseases like cancer and health disease, flu or even the common cold, and everyone -- even me -- will sit up and take notice.
What strikes me most in this whole debate is that those ones calling on science and shouting the mantra there is nothing in the remedy therefore it can't work and therefore it is placebo, those ones don't seem to adhere to scientific thinking and principles themselves. Instead of repeating constantly homoeopathy is scientifically implausible and therefore can't work, wouldn't a real scientist ask a different question? Would a real scientific mind not ask why so many people feel homoeopathy worked for them (in fact over 28 000 in this weeks petition)? Would one not want to know what forces might be at work if animals are helped by homoeopathy? Would a scientific mind not be curious what might be going on in the process of potentising a homoeopathic remedy?
I can understand the critics of homoeopathy very well as I was one of them myself. However, in retrospect I have to admit that I spoke out of ignorance also aided by our mechanistic school of thinking that ruled at medical school and medicine in general.
Even the founder of homoeopathy found out (by countless experiments) that if a natural substance is only diluted that you can reduce toxicity and sideeffects but that the curative effect is much diminished too. But by further countless experiments he found that by succussing (vigorous shaking) a remedy in the process of dilution you can reduce side effects and enhance the healing effect. This was pure observation which I call science. That's why I suppose real scientists don't have such a problem with homoeopathy as they know how much we don't know. They also know about the complexity of natural substances such as water why this whole debate has a bit of a child like taste and character.
That's also why it makes homoeopathic doctors smile to see people taking an 'overdose' of homoeopathic remedies, only revealing those critic's ignorance. They haven't even understood that taking a whole bottle is just one single dose and one single stimulation and no overdose at all. It's not the molecule in it creating a pharmacological effect (as there is no molecule), it's the 'information' in it that stimulates the organism and creates a healing response. Therefore, lets find out what really goes on, lets find out what this 'information' is, lets get our scientific caps on and be open to all possibilities.
And just as a practical point regarding all those patients coming to have homoeopathy on the NHS. Most of them have undergone already the whole conventional route, where are those patients to go? They must be seen somewhere. Money will be spent somewhere. So why not treating them at NHS homoeopathic hospitals where patient satisfaction is overwhelmingly positive and where outcome surveys have been overwhelmingly positive?
Let us be doctors of this century and have an open mind, also for the sake of our patients. Who knows what we will discover....
Who are the thousands of people that care so much to bully professional people who help their patients to feel better?! No one is forcing YOU to use homeopathy so why not live and let live? There are a number of valid studies which prove that homeopathy has a measurable effect. Choosing to ignore these does not change the facts.
Well, Tacitus, you carry on using your proven medicine. Its not so wonderful as you may think!
I'll carry on using it too when it suits, but be aware that there are other options and they work too.
Nuff said, a life to get on with.....
Open minded and tacitus - I have notice that you and other posters like you are brilliant at saying it doesn't work and that's it. You are hanging on and re-reporting the arguments that you have read regarding clinical trials. The true fact is that there are trials whih have been very successful for Homeopathy. The story about Katherine Ross's son came as no surprise to me because I hear them every day. I would challenge either you or one of the others posters who seem to they they know why it doesn't work to maybe go to one of the Homeopathy Clinics and ask patients how it has helped them. I know that you wouldn't because it is much easier to slag it off under a false name.
Oliver Dowding offers the same old anti-pharma nonsense everyone in the alt-med field does. There is one very simple reason why side-effects can sometimes be harmful or even life-threatening -- the drugs are potent substances designed to tackle some very nasty bugs and diseases. As with all things in life, you have to balance the risk with the reward. I have a friend whose daughter is alive today only because a powerful new chemotherapy drug came on the market a year before she was diagnosed with a form of leukemia that is almost always fatal within three to five years. The drug isn't a cure, but one pill a day is staving off that killer disease indefinitely -- and she may even live to grow old. Yes, the power drug itself may eventually cause her serious problems (not so far though) but when her only other option is certain death, then that is a chance she is more than willing to take.
Got any proven homeopathic cancer treatments that could extend her life by even just one day? Nah, didn't think so.
The only claim that homeopaths can substantiate is that their drugs are safe. Of course they are. The only way you can ingest enough of whatever "active" substance they claim is 'potentising' the water to be harmful to them, would be to drink the Great Lakes dry.
If there was one -- just one -- homeopathic substance that was proven to be better than anything science-based medicine could provide, the medical and scientific community would be beating a path to their door. Nobel prizes would be in the offing. Yet all we find are anecdotes and unsubstantiated claims of some effect that might be a little better than placebo but we can't be sure.
And by the way, trying to co-opt another field of science that not even one in 100 physicists really understand well is a classic case of grasping at straws.
Now I think I'll go and help myself to a glass of homeopathic beer -- straight from the cold tap in my kitchen!
(Search for Mitchell and Webb and homeopathy on Youtube -- it's a classic!)
By the way, if any one of you homeopaths was able to reliably able to identify a "potentised" jar of water from a collection of jars filled with normal water -- using any test they want to -- then I know someone who has a million dollars for them: http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/1m-challenge.html
For those who believe there is good evidence for the efficacy of homeopathy or who feel that only doctors or scientists are allowed to state an opinion a good starting point is Dr. Steven Novella's blog entry on the subject:
And I would love to see Ms. Ross make her son's medical records public. Both before and after that miraculous cure. By the way it's "atypical" not "'A' typical".
Lastly, remember: The plural of anecdote is anecdotes, not data.
My experience of homoeopathy came 12 years ago when my then 2 year old son was diagnosed with an "A" typical strain of TB. The GP was very apologetic because all of the allopathic drugs were useless, the disease was resistant to them all. The only available route was to cut it out..disfigure my beautiful boy ( the TB was attacking the lymph nodes in his neck).
I saw another child whilst waiting for a consultation with the surgeon who had had the surgery my son was due to have and I recoiled in horror, the poor child was disfigured. I was really shaken and astonished that the doctors I had grown up to trust and turn to when needed could not help my boy. Everyday I had to clean the wound by sticking a nozzle into it and flushing with saline, then packing it with a seaweed derivative to absorb the huge amount TB infected pus being produced daily.
A friend of a friend suggested Homoeopathy and recommended a Homoeopathist I had never heard of it. I went along not expecting anything much. He was given a remedy which with in a week produced a huge improvement; the wound had stopped producing pus, a week later we saw the homoeopath again, she asked lots more questions ...After another week my son was completely cured, all that was left was a tiny pink scar.
He has never had an anti biotic and never had need to go the doctors since...I was astounded by the deep action of these so called sugar pills. A placebo on a two year old ? This testimony is one of millions worldwide...is this not evidence that homoeopathy does work? The proof is in the pudding !!
Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about the comments posted here is the continual repetition of the claim that there is no scientific evidence for homeopathy.
This is simply not true.
1) There is excellent evidence that potentised substances differ from diluted substances, and that they are biologically active. This means that potentised medicines are not inert if used correctly, and therefore the placebo argument depends on proving that trials have given the treatment correctly without success.
2) There is excellent and remarkably consistent evidence that homeopathy in clinical practice produces improvement in around 70% of cases. Evidence from real life conditions is an essential part of evidence based medicine (EBM) precisely because it is a corrective to mistakes in randomised controlled trial (RCT) evidence. It is clinical practice which exposes the failures of drug treatments. If this evidence is to be excluded, defenders of RCTs must prove that the individuality of people's response is taken into account in such trials, despite the fact that the purpose of these trials is to eliminate the effects of individuality.
3) Finally, the only type of evidence which is even equivocal about the success of homeopathy is the RCT, and even Ben Goldacre and Edzard Ernst have stated that the best quality trials show that homeopathy is better than placebo. Goldacre has also stated the opposite, which says something about his reliability.
The issues with RCTs include:
a) So long as the definition of effectiveness used in RCTs is arbitrary, they cannot prove efficacy in any scientifically absolute way. Ernst demonstrates this with Viagra, where the effects of the drug did not change, but the definition of effectiveness did. Defenders of the RCT as a test of homeopathy have to prove that they are using a scientific definition of effectiveness, and they have not done this to date.
b) Similarly, so long as the definition of what is to be treated in RCTs is also arbitrary, they cannot prove efficacy in any scientifically absolute way. The Commons Committee, for example, referred to treating "insomnia". It is impossible to design a trial of homeopathy for insomnia as such. The trial has to take in the totality of the case, including the other symptoms and their chronology, and such rigorous application of homeopathic principles in RCTs is rare.
In short, many factors affect RCTs of homeopathy, and failure to take them into account means that the trials are not testing homeopathy at all, but some wholly unscientific hybrid of orthodox and homeopathic approaches. Understandably the results are ambiguous and confusing, but they absolutely do NOT constitute scientific proof that homeopathy does not work.
Thanik you Oliver and William for your intelligent comments.
At heart do we not all want the same thing? To reduce the suffering caused by disease.
To those who feel threatended by what they don't understand, I sympathise. In the West we've been trained to rely soley on logic and reason to explain observed phenomena. I look forward to the day when science will catch up and explain the homeopathic effect. Meanwhile we are all in a difficult postition. I, for one, am willing to trust my experience - a well chosen homeopathic remedy can have astonishing benefits for the patient. A poorly chosen one has none.
I do know how many of the people posting comments here are medically trained, or, heaven forbid, doctors. Some of the comments smack of the worst form of tabloid derision.
I wonder how many of the clever clogs prepared to dismiss homoeopathy have actually ever spoken with a homoeopath, ever been present during a homoeopathic consultation, ever investigated people who had successful homoeopathic outcomes?
I further wonder how many have ever been to see a homoeopathic vet operating, or maybe just spoken with one, bearing in mind that they like many homoeopathic doctors have often trained both conventionally and with homoeopathy. They have what I would call a truly open mind, and are prepared to embrace both forms of medicine, and often others as well. This often follows their increasing awareness of failures within conventional medicine.
Maybe the cynics offering their short little ripostes here aren't aware of how often homoeopathy gets left with the "dustbin cases" that result from conventional medical failure. There are many of them, it's just a shame that you're prepared to dismiss them and send them to an early grave.
Furthermore, my experience with homoeopathy, as a layman operator and farmer who kept hundreds of animals. for over 15 years, with over 90% of all the treatments we gave them being homoeopathic, and the observed repeated high percentage success rates. I know, you cynics will think that they would have got better anyway, or that my observation is suspect, or the observation of the many herdsman who were involved in the treatment of the animals, or the diagnostic skills of conventional vets who also observed the animals getting better under homoeopathic regime were at fault.
Then I turn my attention to all those drugs that you worship, as if they are infallible, have never had a side-effect, and are only ever prescribed for the treatments for which they were trialled. Oh, if only.... It may be corny to trot out the old disasters, such as the liver might, but there are plenty of new ones. Do I mention Vioxx? Avnadia? Do I mention Dr. Scott Reuben, a former member of Pfizer's speakers' bureau, has agreed to plead guilty to faking dozens of research studies that were published in medical journals?
Finally, I'm staggered that so many people who claim to be involved in science, doctors even, having such a closed mind as to not accept that there may be things which work but for which they themselves cannot conjure up an explanation according to the current paradigms.
I would agree with anyone who is disappointed that there is not much more peer-reviewed evidence to support the efficacy of homoeopathy. Could there be any way connected to the fact that the vast majority of research is connected to high-value drug potential? Could it be that so-called scientists are happy investigating, but using the wrong approach to determine homoeopathic efficacy?
"Better for ...money to be spent on proven effective treatments" begs the question "what percentage of medical interventions are supported by solid, unequivocal evidence?"
Here are just a few of those that are not:
Meta-analysis has shown that there is little evidence that antidepressants produce specific pharmacological benefit for the majority of patients with mild to moderate depression yet millions of pounds continue to be spent on antidepressants.
A Cochrane review (Dec 2009) on neuraminidase inhibitors in adults with influenza cast doubt on the effectiveness and safety of oseltamivir (Tamiflu). Despite this, Tamiflu practically become an over the counter drug during the recent flu pandemic, being handed out free after callers provide a simple description of their flu symptoms by telephone, bypassing the need to see a doctor.
The DoH has recently scrapped plans to vaccinate under fives against influenza just 3 months after urging GPs to vaccinate more than 3 million youngsters.
What is the evidence base for these policies?
The phrase "people in glass houses" springs to mind!
The fact is that if 7% of people who pay towards the NHS believe Homeopathy to be a valid treatment then they should be able to have some funded treatment.
If people are worried about wasting NHS money then Homeopathy, which costs virtually nothing, should be way way down the list of cuts.
Doctor Neil mentioned a 'remedy effect' having been observed "by veterinary colleagues in effecting a therapeutic response in herds of cows, and in the occasional aggravation in symptoms from injudicious use of too high a potency." and a "healing response, the mechanism of which still defies understanding".
If such remedy effects or healing responses existed, then we would see evidence of them in properly peer reviewed research. But of course no such evidence exists, so we are left with anecdotal nonsense such as that spouted by Dr Neil.
And the money spent by the NHS is 'real money' Sam, what do you think is used, Monopoly money? What sort of 'treatment satisfaction' (whatever that might be) is there in using something that we know does not work? Same sort of satisfaction a confidence trickster gets when a scam works I suppose.
Better for this real money to be spent on proven effective treatments and meaningful research for the benefit of real patients. Homeopathy should have been consigned to its place in the history books in amongst the other quack remedies that we look back and shake our heads at a long time ago.
Let us do the right thing and get rid of it now.
I have come across a lot of idiotic things in my time and this poll is very close to the top in idiocy. First, homeopathy does not work and so the question is pointless. Second, online polls like this are meaningless. Third, even if they weren't, is the editor of the BMJ going to give up her decision-making authority to populist voting? In this case, I hope that the answer is "yes" and that homeopathy is never going to make an appearance in the printed or online versions of the BMJ.
just because our current scientific understanding cannot yet explain how homeopathy works doesn't mean to say that it doesn't work...
by the end of 2009, there were 74 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of homeopathy published in peer-reviewed journals which describe statistically significant results, from which firm conclusions can be drawn. Of these RCTs comparing homeopathy either with placebo or established conventional treatments, 63 were positive for homeopathy and 11 were negative.
I completely agree with Jeremy (comment posted 2/26/2010 @ 10:54 AM).
Why do we have any need for a "new quantum theory to explain homeopathy?"
I mean, what's to explain???
After all, before one has need to explain a phenomenon, one FIRST needs to have an objectively (as in: empirically intersubjectively) demonstrated phenomenon to BE explained.
Since there is no [none, zero, zip, zilch, nada, squat] objective evidence that crucially demonstrates the (alleged) medical or physical health efficacy of homeopathy for ANYthing (OTHER THAN that homeopathy is efficacious in making money for "homeopathologists" the way that the sole evidence-supported claim of astrology is that it is efficacious in making money for astrologers, and the way that "faith healing" is efficacious in separating TONS of money from desperately hopeful sufferers who send that money to TV "faith-healers"), there is no need for -- and thus no reason to seek or develop -- an "explanation" for homeopathy.
The sole interesting phenomenon about homeopathy that DOES need an explanation IS the fact that many people PAY MONEY to "homeopathologists" for homeopathic "remedies" whose efficacy is not crucial supported by any objective evidence -- and we already have THAT explanation:
THERE ARE FIVE SUCKERS BORN EVERY SECOND!
(I've updated to fit today's human population the original quote that was wrongly attributed to PT Barnum.)
That now said, it occurs to me that everyone who drafts a glass of water to drink from their faucet practices homeopathy de facto. After all, what glass of water does not contain at least one water molecule (and in many cases contains many thousands of such) that at one time in the history of our water has not been part of a solution containing atoms of -- and thus has "rubbed shoulders with" virtually every water-soluble element or compound that occurs in nature? Every glass of tap water is already an infinitely dilute solution of EVERYTHING!
And so, for those who somehow do truly believe that homeopathy offers them genuine medical benefit, the GOOD NEWS is that all they have to do when they feel need of a dose of homeopathic "remedy" is to step into the kitchen, draft a glass of tap water, and drink it -- saving their hard-earned money for VASTLY more efficacious expenditures like lottery tickets, cigarettes, beer, or their kids' college tuition.
Why on Earth is the BMJ polling as to whether the NHS should pay for homeopathy? I thought medicien was based on science, not fairy tales. Why don't we pay for witch doctors? Or for people to pray over patients? Oh yes, we already pay for that delusion.
Effect of homeopathic remedies on breast cancer cells, International Journal of Oncology (Feb 2010, Vol 36 No 2). Positive study on the biological effect of homeopathic remedies on human cells. Note: no placebo effect here.
Why attack something you know little about?
As somebody who studied quantum physics at college, I find the link just posted rather interesting. It combines genuine science with absolute rubbish, but also makes some incredible extrapolations about the genuine science that shows a pretty amazing lack of understanding of the peer reviewed literature that it does use. To debunk it in an understandable manner to the people who think it's true would probably require a book, and I don't have time to write that right now, so I just urge people who find that link somewhat convincing to read a couple of pop-science quantum physics books (written by highly qualified quantum physicists, rather than wackos), followed by at least one serious text book and then return to it and make your mind up again.
Quantum physics is quickly becoming the justification for all weird and clearly false theories about the world. People need to understand that we're yet to find any serious weird quantum behaviours that have significant and also weird impacts in the macro world that we live in. For most things most of the time, using the classic physics is fine, and especially for the lay people who wrote that newsletter article, it would probably be best if they just pretended quantum physics didn't exist.
In response to Mrs D A Patterson's sensible question (posted 24 Feb) about the claim I made (posted 24 Feb) that ''The 'new' sciences of Quantum Theory and Complexity Theory are beginning to show how a medicine could be active without active molecules...". Below is a link that gives a glimpse of some of this science. I would remind readers that this work is being done by physicists, often in the face of opposition from those who do not have the open mind that true science requires. Central to the current ideas is the concept of quantum coherence (behind the principle of the laser) and is basic to condensed matter physics (one application is the liquid crystal screen) but has barely penetrated into mainstream biology. It is a pity that biologists look more to chemistry than to physics and I wonder if this is in part due to the influence of the pharmaceutical industry.
I think the venom that is represented by some in this blog is extraordinary. I guess it reflects people's discomfort at the prospect of their fundamental ideas about nature being questioned. Of course, the same has happened many times over the centuries, such as in the flat Earth debate and then the heliocentric structure of the universe. New ideas start by being ridiculed and finally (some of them) become self-evident - until the next big change comes along. Our understanding will never be finalized because reality does not lend itself to being understood through scientific theories alone. What wonderful and strange creatures human beings are!
Homeopathy isn't harmful? Sure, and I suppose homeopathic brake-pads are just as good. You know, a sprinkling of brake dust is as good if not better than a set of actual brake-pads. At some point, one has to admit that believing in something that isn't true is and can be harmful. In other words, if one wishes to be included in the NHS, one had best be able to prove efficacy to the same standards as other treatments, not just 'lack of harm.' Otherwise, one is a worthless money-pit that eventually will result in dead people who would otherwise be alive.
Or is the argument that there is nobody who would forgo brake-pads for homeopathic brakes?
What OpenMinded and phayes just said, +1. This poll really ought to have an option for "are you people out of your tiny little minds????" or "you have got to be effin' kidding me, now stop screwing around with nonsense."
£4 million. Take that money and pay for some extra real doctors. Or increase nurses' wages by a bit, they could use it, and everywhere needs happier and better nursing staff.
“it's outrageous that organizations like the BMJ consider this a serious question.”
Isn't it just.
6) They are suitable for self-medication and so facilitate self-care amongst the public
Really? Then how come homeopaths keep banging on about how they need to tailor treatments to people's specific life circumstance? They use this as an excuse for why homeopathy can't be empirically studied. But if they're suitable for self-medication, it should be blindingly easy to evaluate whether they work better than placebo.
The poll choices really should be "yes, I believe in magic" and "no, are you f**king kidding me". Seriously, while I can see why people like Sam (the second commenter) who don't understand basic science might believe overpriced water can cure disease it's outrageous that organizations like the BMJ consider this a serious question.
In the US, there is an agency, known as NCAMM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine), which is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), United States Government. In over 12 years and in excess of $1.2 billion US dollars spent, they have not found one single homeopathic remedy to be of any value, whatsoever. The creation of this agency was to do the opposite: prove that these "remedies" are of real medical and scientific value. The Senator that introduced legislation to create of this agency was (and apparently still is) a believer in homeopathic "medicine".
This is the funniest thing I've read for ages - did you know that you can increase the efficacy of homeopathic "medicines" by shaking up the bottle so that it goes fizzy? Thats another £40.00 please !
Why is there a camplaign against homeopathy?
Because it is ineffective and doesn't work better than a placebo.
Because tax payers shouldn't have to pick up the bill for an ineffective treatment.
Because this ineffective non-treatment is responsible for the slow agonising death of a baby (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/28/homeopathy-baby-death-couple-jailed )
I could go on...
1) The medicines are cheap. --- yes, water is cheap.
2) They do not cause serious side effects. -- yes, water is safe to drink
3) They do not interact with other medications. -- yes, in general water does not interact with medications
4) They are safe in over-dosage. -- it's very hard to overdose on water ('tis possible though)
5) There is continuing strong demand for homoeopathy from the public. -- yep, water is always in very high demand fro the public
6) They are suitable for self-medication and so facilitate self-care amongst the public. -- indeed it is safe to let your 10 year-old help himself from the tap at any time.
7) There is a scientific evidence base for effectiveness beyond placebo (though contested by some). -- yes, indeed, water is a proven powerful cure for dehydration. No disputing that.
8) They are widely used in veterinary practice which mitigates against the claim that they depend wholly on the placebo effect. -- yep, pets benefit from being given drinks of water too!
9) The style of the consultation undertaken by a homoeopathic physician is holistic and individualised by its nature. -- who can argue with service with a smile when they bring you a glass of water?
10) The medicines are derived from naturally occurring substances. -- raindrops and mountain spring water, nothing quite like them.
11) There are very many health problems that are not helped and may be worsened by biomedicine and stories abound of benefit from homoeopathic treatment in this group when many previous treatments have failed to help. -- it is good to know that those for whom there is no known cure can also benefit from drinking water.
12) They are widely used on the continent of Europe. -- water is the number one drink the world over!
13) The 'new' sciences of Quantum Theory and Complexity Theory are beginning to show how a medicine could be active without active molecules - we are on the brink of a major shift in our understanding of how nature works so this is not the time to abandon this therapy. In 50 years time such a decision will look incomprehensible. -- you mean in 50 year's time we'll be drinking even more water? Excellent!
14) We are also undergoing a shift of power away from large institutions and corporations and towards the public. We must listen to the public on this issue. Congratulations to government for doing so. -- Yes, it is indeed terrible how those evil corporations have duped the public into paying more per litre for bottles water than they pay for petrol. Tap water is just as a safe and far cheaper than all those bottles of water with their fancy brand names and slick marketing.
So, congratulations Mr House (not related to Gregory by any chance?), I have rarely come across more eloquent advocate for the benefits of drinking water. Just what the doctor ordered!
"Homeopathy costs the NHS £4 million. What cost to the NHS are drink, drug and smoking related illness?"
What's the link between those points? Homeopathy is not used to treat lung cancer or cirrhosis, nor addiction. I hope.
I would be surprised if the cost were really as little as £4 million, bearing in mind the largeness and lavishness of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital in addition to the fact you're talking about doctors prescribing it (crivvens - do they?). According to a Channel 4 show last year, it was £12 million.
But even if it's the lower figure, that's £4 million wasted on water, sugar and hooey, and a great deal of unwarranted credibility given to a bogus industry that exists to shake money out of gullible folk. The NHS isn't exactly rolling in spare funds at the moment, and ditching homeopathy would be a nice easy way to save enough for a few hip replacements, with zero effect on public health.
Placebo medication is OK, as long as it is not used in place of effective medication. It should be a heck of a lot cheaper though. Can't the NHS make its own sugar pills and little bottles of water?
Every era has it's flat earthers and heliocentrics. Today's astrologists must gravitate towards some such nonsense, and creationism and homeopathy fill that demand quite nicely. For the rest of us, we can reap the benefits of modern medical technology and things that actually work.
"You take Homeopathy away, many, many people will suffer as a result."
Yes, the people profiting off of homeopathy.
It's water and sugar pills. That's it. There is likely not a single molecule of duck liver, eye of newt, or whatever magical ingredient left in the dose. I also might get a great placebo effect by dressing up like Harry Potter and "healing" a patient by waving a stick around, but it wouldn't be ethical to charge money for it.
"You take Homeopathy away, many, many people will suffer as a result."
What, because they'll be forced to treatments which might actually do some good?
Homeopathy costs the NHS £4 million. What cost to the NHS are drink, drug and smoking related illness? You take Homeopathy away, many, many people will suffer as a result.
Homeopathy doesn't work. Every single high-quality study shows this. The NHS should not be in the business of allocating valuable resources to pseudo-scientific wishful thinking. Go away, do some proper research, show effectiveness and then start asking the NHS to fund it.
The consensus of evidence-based study into homeopathy is that is has no effect beyond placebo. Having it available on the NHS grants homeopathy a legitimacy that it does not deserve. Whilst the first poster makes a good point that it probably won't save the NHS money to ban homeopathy, I think it's worth losing money to disabuse the public of the widely held misconception that because homeopathic treatments might help with 'general wellbeing' or headaches (as any placebo would), they can be effective for, say, cancer or malarial protection. They are not. The NHS condoning homeopathing treatment is fuel to the fire of this horribly damaging lie.
The reason for much of the scepticism about homeopathy in certain scientific quarters in my opinion is based on the perfectly valid concept that homeopathic medicines cannot possibly work in a pharmacological way. A tincture made from a macerated plant may contain natural pharmacological agents and form the basis of a herbal medicine. However very few homeopathic practitioners use plant derived "remedies" in this raw form, but rely on homeopathic pharmacists to dilute these natural substances into "potencies" where there are no molecules left of the original substance. The placebo effect is well documented in Western Medicine but if homeopaths believed there was nothing more to homeopathy than placebo, then surely every patient would received the same "sugar pill". There is in my opinion a definite "remedy effect" over and above any perceived placebo response. This remedy effect has been observed by veterinary colleagues in effecting a therapeutic response in herds of cows, and in the occasional aggravation in symptoms from injudicious use of too high a potency. I do not believe that homeopathic remedies in a dilution greater than that of Avogadro's number have any pharmacological action whatsoever. However I do believe they are capable of stimulating a healing response, the mechanism of which still defies understanding.
The trouble with these sort of polls is that even if you get, say, a majority of 2000 people voting that the NHS should fund some homeopathy, the fact remains that those 2000 are wrong in their opinions.
Seriously there is aboslutely no valid evidence whatsoever that homeopathy is of any value at all. In fact its rubbish and any doctor who prescrides it or votes yes should be struck off.
To answer these specific poitns:
) The medicines are cheap. So are fishermans friends and doctors dont prescribe them
2) They do not cause serious side effects. Because they have no effecgt whatsoever
3) They do not interact with other medications. Ditto
4) They are safe in over-dosage. Because you cannot over dose nothing
5) There is continuing strong demand for homoeopathy from the public. As there is for heroin and crack
6) They are suitable for self-medication and so facilitate self-care amongst the public. Well let them pay for it themselves then
7) There is a scientific evidence base for effectiveness beyond placebo (though contested by some). No there isnt and the governement committee has said so
8) They are widely used in veterinary practice which mitigates against the claim that they depend wholly on the placebo effect. No it doenst - there are studies to prove that the placebo effect in animals and kids and also on the prescriber of placebos
9) The style of the consultation undertaken by a homoeopathic physician is holistic and individualised by its nature.
lot of people benefit from one to one personal sympathetic care and attention - a placebo effect not available to GPS in 10 minute appointments
10) The medicines are derived from naturally occurring substances. So are conventional drugs, In fact everything could be said to be natural - what is in the universie is in the universe and we simply alter stuff by various means
11) There are very many health problems that are not helped and may be worsened by biomedicine and stories abound of benefit from homoeopathic treatment in this group when many previous treatments have failed to help
Well as a consultant I once worked for said - "you cant win em all". I dont expect homeopaths do either
. 12) They are widely used on the continent of Europe. So what? They are silly too
13) The 'new' sciences of Quantum Theory and Complexity Theory are beginning to show how a medicine could be active without active molecules - we are on the brink of a major shift in our understanding of how nature works so this is not the time to abandon this therapy. In 50 years time such a decision will look incomprehensible. Please explain quantum theory and its relevance to homeopathy and provide a link to the evidence for this pseudoscientific nonsense
14) We are also undergoing a shift of power away from large institutions and corporations and towards the public.
You must be joking here
We must listen to the public on this issue. Congratulations to government for doing so.
Posted by William House on February 24th 2010, 1:24pm
There are also very significant reasons why homeopathy should not be funded on the NHS -
it's impotent. It doesnt work. The original solution has been diluted into oblivion. There is no active ingredient. There is no medicine.
If people wish to spend their own money on a placebo, then go ahead. But do not spend NHS money on this worthless rubbish.
I like the use of "scientists" in speech marks, by the way. These "scientists", publishing their evidence based medicinal research in peer-reviewed journals. How very dare they?
Seriously there is aboslutley no valdi evidence whatsoever that homeopathy is of any value at all. In fact its rubbish and any doctor who prescribes it or votes yes should be struck off.
There are several significant reasons why homoeopathy should continue to be available on the NHS:
1) The medicines are cheap. 2) They do not cause serious side effects. 3) They do not interact with other medications. 4) They are safe in over-dosage. 5) There is continuing strong demand for homoeopathy from the public. 6) They are suitable for self-medication and so facilitate self-care amongst the public. 7) There is a scientific evidence base for effectiveness beyond placebo (though contested by some). 8) They are widely used in veterinary practice which mitigates against the claim that they depend wholly on the placebo effect. 9) The style of the consultation undertaken by a homoeopathic physician is holistic and individualised by its nature. 10) The medicines are derived from naturally occurring substances. 11) There are very many health problems that are not helped and may be worsened by biomedicine and stories abound of benefit from homoeopathic treatment in this group when many previous treatments have failed to help. 12) They are widely used on the continent of Europe. 13) The 'new' sciences of Quantum Theory and Complexity Theory are beginning to show how a medicine could be active without active molecules - we are on the brink of a major shift in our understanding of how nature works so this is not the time to abandon this therapy. In 50 years time such a decision will look incomprehensible. 14) We are also undergoing a shift of power away from large institutions and corporations and towards the public. We must listen to the public on this issue. Congratulations to government for doing so.
It won't save the NHS any real money if homeopathy is banished from the NHS, for an important role of homeopathy in the NHS is to render treatment-satisfaction to subgroups of patients who have exhausted all the conventional options.
Who's going to take these patients then? Will the alternative to NHS homeopathy be cheaper?
Jeremy Swayne's book on Homeopathic Method is a great intellectual tonic for any doctor --even one that doesn't prescribe homeopathic remedies --it restores ones faith in individualised medicine rather than treating a dehumanised entity presumed to exist on a Gaussian curve.
I wish that book were back in print.
Furthermore, Why oh Why is there such an organised campaign against homeopathy? It's not actually dangerous on the admission of the enemies thereof, so what's energising them so potently against it?
If there's no power in the pillules to stamp out disease, there's certainly huge power in them to mobilise ranting crowds of "scientists".