MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

There is not a discussion about homeopathy where an apologist would eventually state: HOMEOPATHY CANNOT BE A PLACEBO, BECAUSE IT WORKS IN ANIMALS!!! Those who are not well-versed in this subject tend to be impressed, and the argument has won many consumers over to the dark side, I am sure. But is it really correct?

The short answer to this question is NO.

Pavlov discovered the phenomenon of ‘conditioning’ in animals, and ‘conditioning’ is considered to be a major part of the placebo-response. So, depending on the circumstances, animals do respond to placebo (my dog, for instance, used to go into a distinct depressive mood when he saw me packing a suitcase).

Then there is the fact that the animal’s response might be less important than the owner’s reaction to homeopathic treatment. This is particularly important with pets, of course. Homeopathy-believing pet owners might over-interpret the pet’s response and report that the homeopathic remedy has worked wonders when, in fact, it has made no difference.

Finally, there may be some situations where neither of the above two phenomena can play a decisive role. Homeopaths like to cite studies where entire herds of cows were treated homeopathically to prevent mastitis, a common problem in milk-cows. It is unlikely that conditioning or wishful thinking of the owner are decisive in such a study. Let’s see whether homeopathy-promoters will also be fond of this new study of exactly this subject.

New Zealand vets compared clinical and bacteriological cure rates of clinical mastitis following treatment with either antimicrobials or homeopathic preparations. They used 7 spring-calving herds from the Waikato region of New Zealand to source cases of clinical mastitis (n=263 glands) during the first 90 days following calving. Duplicate milk samples were collected for bacteriology from each clinically infected gland at diagnosis and 25 (SD 5.3) days after the initial treatment. Affected glands were treated with either an antimicrobial formulation or a homeopathic remedy. Generalised linear models with binomial error distribution and logit link were used to analyse the proportion of cows that presented clinical treatment cures and the proportion of glands that were classified as bacteriological cures, based on initial and post-treatment milk samples.

The results show that the mean cumulative incidence of clinical mastitis was 7% (range 2-13% across herds) of cows. Streptococcus uberis was the most common pathogen isolated from culture-positive samples from affected glands (140/209; 67%). The clinical cure rate was higher for cows treated with antimicrobials (107/113; 95%) than for cows treated with homeopathic remedies (72/114; 63%) (p<0.001) based on the observance of clinical signs following initial treatment. Across all pathogen types bacteriological cure rate at gland level was higher for those cows treated with antimicrobials (75/102; 74%) than for those treated with a homeopathic preparation (39/107; 36%) (p<0.001).

The authors conclude that homeopathic remedies had significantly lower clinical and bacteriological cure rates compared with antimicrobials when used to treat post-calving clinical mastitis where S. uberis was the most common pathogen. The proportion of cows that needed retreatment was significantly higher for the homeopathic treated cows. This, combined with lower bacteriological cure rates, has implications for duration of infection, individual cow somatic cell count, costs associated with treatment and animal welfare.

Yes, I know, this is just one single study, and we need to consider the totality of the reliable evidence. Currently, there are 203 clinical trials of homeopathic treatments of animals; and they are being reviewed at the very moment (unfortunately by a team that is not known for its objective stance on homeopathy). So, we will have to wait and see. When, in 1999, A. Vickers reviewed all per-clinical studies, including those on animals, he concluded that there is a lack of independent replication of any pre-clinical research in homoeopathy. In the few instances where a research team has set out to replicate the work of another, either the results were negative or the methodology was questionable.

All this is to say that, until truly convincing evidence to the contrary is available, the homeopaths’ argument ‘HOMEOPATHY CANNOT BE A PLACEBO, BECAUSE IT WORKS IN ANIMALS!!!’ is, in my view, as weak as the dilution of their remedies.

49 Responses to HOMEOPATHY, does it really work in animals?

  • It would have been helpful if the study had a no treatment group. I can anticipate an argument that while homeopathy works less well than antimicrobials, it still “works” and has no side effects. This study is useful in that it shows how such a protocol will produce a large number of false positives (homeopathic responses).

    I feel sorry for the sick animals that did not get treatment (homeopathy).

  • This is an argument that I have been confronted with numberless times. Even letting homeoquackery out of the equation, I have never understood why this would be an argument at all. It reminds me of parents who are convinced that their child likes one thing or another when in reality, they are simply ignoring all the signs to the contrary.

    • Hi i just lost a long life friend my french poodle.he had a toxin im him that gave him acute liver mailfunction .the vet took her time in helping the dog then gave him normal medication and homopathy medication and kept him on that before he could walk but after the homopathy medication he died. New zealand tested homopathy medication on cows for milk but theres no studys that indicates it helps with a dog dying. Yes maybe if he is stil well and need to get rid of toxins yes.

  • As a veterinarian, I have reviewed the literature concenring homeopathy in detail, and it is not at all convincing.

    Here is a review of the evidentiary case against homeopathy presented to the AVMA last year:
    http://skeptvet.com/Blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Resolution3_2013_Homeopathy_Attch1.pdf

    Here is an attempt by the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy to defend the scientific legitimacy of the practice, with a detailed analysis of each reference:
    http://skeptvet.com/Blog/2013/01/what-experts-in-homeopathy-are-supposed-to-believe/

    And here is an article discussing the very real problem of placebo effects in veterinary clinical trials:
    http://skeptvet.com/Blog/2012/11/caregiver-placebo-effects-new-study-shows-that-owners-and-vets-often-believe-an-ineffective-therapy-is-working-when-it-isnt/

    In short, homeopathy can be, and in fact IS, only a placebo therapy in animals.

    • Why the placebo effect can be seen only in… homeopathically treated animals ( not pets) ? This is a big mystery.

      They must be some objective markers to make a diagnosis and to evaluate treatment. No?

      • It is very simple:Placebo effect by proxy. Not hard to grasp or explain.
        http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/is-there-a-placebo-effect-for-animals/

        • Yes that happens only when testing homeopathic remedies – in conventional drugs the effect …….disappears. Hmmmmmm…Thats really magical!

          • yes, homeopathy is unreal

          • George, have you even read the links Brennen McKenzie provided? Nobody claims that these placebo effects only occur when animals are treated with homeopathy – the blog post on skeptvet.com doesn’t even mention homeopathy but discusses a study of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication for arthritis treatment to show that there’s a discrepancy between pet owners’ (and veterinarians’) observations and objective measurements. The truth is that it’s just as tricky to find out whether a medication works in animals as it is to find out whether it works in humans, so “I treated my dog/cat/gerbil with homeopathy and it really worked” is an invalid argument.

          • Homoeopaths often try to imply that the placebo effect isn’t invoked by real medicine, often via claims that homoeopathy can somehow “harness the placebo effect” in a way that medicine can’t. The fact is, of course, that with effective medicine you get the placebo effect plus effective treatment; with homoeopathy you get the placebo effect instead of effective treatment.

    • An interesting study here, which found that apparent effects of homoeopathy in rats, observed under a single-blind protocol, “were not confirmed” by use of a double-blind and fully randomized protocol.

  • Vicky

    Is “I treated my dog/cat/gerbil with conventional medication and it really worked” an invalid argument ?

    Ask a vet and tell me what s/he would say…

    The typical answer is that it is not an invalid argument. So why it would be for x treatment including homeopathy ? I understand the skepticism but ……

    • Is “I treated my dog/cat/gerbil with conventional medication and it really worked” an invalid argument ?

      Yes.

    • Ask a vet […] The typical answer is that it is not an invalid argument.

      How many “typical” vets did you quiz about this? It’s not the “typical” answer I’d expect, but the vet I take my cat to knows that he doesn’t need to dumb things down for me, so perhaps that’s what makes the difference?

      I understand the skepticism

      No, you really don’t.

  • What was the homeopathic remedy used for the treatment of the cows & was it individualized? If a homeopathic remedy is not individualized, then it acts like a placebo, hence the results that the trial yielded. Why are not the remedies listed? And who designed the trial, i.e., was a homeopath consulted? Seems to me like authority fallacy here.

    • Without knowing anything about the study (you don’t even seem to have read the abstract – hint: it’s quoted above!) you dismiss the results – why is that?
      The abstract says that “[homeopatically treated] cows [were] treated with homeopathic remedies […] based on the observance of clinical signs following initial treatment”, suggesting the treatment was indeed individualised. Each of the 114 cows could have – theoretically – been given a different “remedy”, and since you don’t know their clinical signs (let me guess, that would be the next thing you’d ask for) it wouldn’t be of much use to know which remedies were used.

      Seems to me like authority fallacy here.

      I guess you’re not talking about your own comment (“was a homeopath consulted?”), so would you please explain where you see an “authority fallacy” here?

      • “homeopathically treated” means different things to different people.
        To a homeopath it means the remedy was individualized.
        A non-homeopath considers that reading the label on the homeopathic remedy bottle, which gives a VERY brief description of the remedy, is all they need to know to individualize a remedy, which is laughable.
        Since a non-homeopath is not trained or experienced in individualizing a remedy, it cannot be assumed that the remedy was individualized.
        You’re drawing a conclusion that the remedy was individualized not based on fact, i.e., there is nothing in the trial to indicate that the remedies were individualized other than heresay based on a non-homeopath making the claim. If the remedies were individualized, then they should be listed. You call this science?

        • Are you claiming to have read the article? If you had you should have noticed that a homeopath was consulted, and you’d know which remedies he chose (they’re listed in the article). Again I note that without knowing anything about the study you conclude that there must have been something wrong. Not very scientific if you ask me.

      • The people who prescribed the homeopathic remedies to the cows are not a legitimate authority on the subject of homeopathy & hence not qualified to individualize the homeopathic remedies (nor was there indication that they individualized the remedies) – false authority.
        The design/conduct & peer-review of the trial had no involvement with anyone competent on the subject of homeopathy – false authority.
        The validity of trial involving homeopathic remedies, is dependent on the selection of the correct remedy for the condition indicated, prescribed in an individualized manner. Thus the outcome of the trial is actually mostly dependent on the homeopath’s competence in individualizing the remedies for each subject. When you have incompetents conducting a trial, expect commensurate results. Of course when peer-reviewed by false authority (from the vantage point of homeopathy) who don’t know any better, the trial passes peer-review. Hence we have an epidemic of misinformation regarding homeopathy.

      • I somehow missed that post and you’re right, that’s what Jon is suggesting: they did it all wrong therefore the homeopathic treatment cannot be better than placebo. Fatal flaw, study invalidated, no need to even read it.

        • yes, for believers in homeopath, all negative trials are fatally flawed by definition!

        • You’re wrong. I’m not just making a hypothetical argument, rather I’ve looked at the trials which I could view on the Internet [I don’t want to pay for view] and they all had the flaw which I characterized in my other posts. I challenge you to prove me wrong by providing me with a trial that’s not flawed in the manner I suggested in my other posts. Since there are so many trials out there that claim homeopathy is “no better than placebo”, surely you should be able to provide me with two trials that are viewable in their entirety on the Internet that live up to their claim that homeopathy is “no better than placebo”. Let’s see…..

          • Nice try, but had you read the article (like I did) you’d know that a homeopath was consulted and you’d know that the homeopath chose the “symptom picture” for the remedies the homeopath decided should be used for the trial. You are the one making a hypothetical argument!
            There are some ways to get a free copy of such scientific articles: libraries with a subscription to the journal, practitioners with a subscription, friends working at a uni that subscribes to the journal. If you haven’t read a study you shouldn’t try to discredit it (much like you shouldn’t slate a new film based on the trailers you’ve seen on TV or on the internet because you cannot afford to go to cinema).

            As a side note: most of the dairy farmers using homeopathy to treat their cows’ mastitis actually don’t consult a homeopath but decide on a remedy/remedies based on books, pamphlets, advice from vets untrained in homeopathy or even on tips of fellow dairy farmers, and they rarely “individualise”, yet no homeopathy proponent rejects their anecdotes of “effective” homeopathic treatment. On the contrary, they’re cited as “proof” that homeopathy is a true alternative to antibiotic treatment. This study was done with a homeopath’s help, individualised remedies and a control group, yet it is criticised on the spot, simply because it came out negative!

          • Rather thasn cherry-picking individual trials, it is better to try to look at all the evidence. There’s a sytematic review of trials of indicvidualized homoeopathy that I’ve already linked to: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9884175. It doesn’t come to a more positive conclusion than reviews that include trials of non-individualized homoeopathy. This suggests that your implied claim that a lack of efficacy in trials is an artifact caused by the treatment not being individualized is not correct.

      • There was no reply button to your post to which I intended to reply, so I went to the top of the thread.

        “Rather than cherry-picking individual trials, it is better to try to look at all the evidence.”

        This has nothing to do with ‘cherry-picked’ or ‘looking at all the evidence’…. I simply asked for two of the best trials that you could find to support the case that homeopathy is “no better than placebo”. If those two trials failed to prove their claim (they were substantially flawed), then, since they were the best that you could find, then surely the rest of the trials out there are no better & therefore the “no better than placebo” kingdom comes toppling down just like dominoes.

        ‘looking at all the evidence’ basically averages out the findings of various trials/studies, and therefore it is not going to be any better for proving homeopathy is “no better than placebo”, than the best trial that you could find that supports your case that homeopathy is “no better than placebo”, therefore again, if the ‘best’ trial of those fails then the rest also fail.

        I suggested 2 trials only to simplify the process so that I don’t have to debunk every single trial out there, since anything short of that I would be blamed for cherry-picking. This is the smart way to do it. This would also ensure that you know how to pick out valid trials & are not just taking them for face value (e.g., looking at the title only)… so this a test of the trials & your knowledge about homeopathy. After all, you should have some knowledge about the topic (homeopathy) that you are debating against, else why debate it?

        • This has nothing to do with ‘cherry-picked’ or ‘looking at all the evidence’….

          I have to wonder if you understand what cherry-picked means as it is exactly what you’re asking: instead of looking at the totality of evidence, you only look for “the best studies that show homeopathy = placebo”.

          I simply asked for two of the best trials that you could find to support the case that homeopathy is “no better than placebo”. If those two trials failed to prove their claim (they were substantially flawed), then, since they were the best that you could find, then surely the rest of the trials out there are no better & therefore the “no better than placebo” kingdom comes toppling down just like dominoes.

          How does that follow? It’s because most people aren’t able to check every single trial there is (if only because they don’t have a subscription to the journal) that we rely on expert reviews searching relevant trials, evaluating their robustness and summarising their outcomes.

          ‘looking at all the evidence’ basically averages out the findings of various trials/studies, and therefore it is not going to be any better for proving homeopathy is “no better than placebo”, than the best trial that you could find that supports your case that homeopathy is “no better than placebo”

          Um, no. Reviews “average out” false positives/negatives.

          This is the smart way to do it.

          No, it really isn’t. And I expect that, were Mojo to pick two very good trials, you’d either be unable to read them (just like the N.Z. Veterinary Journal article) or you’d point at other, trials that came to different conclusions, claiming that “homeopathy may work for some things but not for others”, ignoring that homeopathy presents itself as a “complete” system of medicine.

          If you’re really keen on debunking trials, why don’t you try to debunk the trials that Linde et. al used to conclude that ” when the analysis was restricted to the methodologically best trials no significant effect was seen.”?

          • Here is one example of what I’m referring to:
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2291233/#__ffn_sectitle
            ‘Effect of homeopathy on analgesic intake following knee ligament reconstruction: a phase III monocentre randomized placebo controlled study’

            When a study, such as this one, leaves too many questions regarding its design & conduct [elaborated on below], then its integrity & hence its utility for use in any meta-analysis is in question, & indeed it should be disqualified from any further consideration…. it’s even a wonder how such a study got through peer review. But unfortunately, those conducting a meta-analysis generally have no knowledge of homeopathy, so they just focus on the statistics, such as [quoted from the study itself]:
            “α = 0.05 and a power (1–β) of 80%, then 68 subjects…”
            “A P value less than 0.05 was considered as significant.”
            etc., etc., on which they base their decision, & of course they assume on *face value* that everything else is kosher, so they include such trials/studies in the meta-analysis & run with it like they hit a home run. But they *fail* to scrutinize the more fundamental prerequisites, which indeed determine the validity of the trial from the get-go…..which I will debunk, for the referenced study, which will serve as only one example among many, below.

            The study mentioned that a “physician specialized in homeopathy” was the one who prescribed the ‘homeopathic complex’, however they didn’t give his name nor what kind of qualifications or experience he had in homeopathy…. it could have been an MD who took a 1 month correspondence course in homeopathy…. which is laughable.
            In the case of homeopathy, the physician’s name is no less important than the names of the authors who wrote the article, as *an improperly prescribed homeopathic remedy acts as placebo*, & therefore it is necessary to ensure the competence of that person & it needs to be *documented* else the trial cannot be gauged as to its validity, let alone be considered scientific, as that is as an important piece of data as the homeopathic remedies chosen and the condition being treated.

            A homeopathic remedy is prescribed by a homeopath as a *single remedy individualized* for the patient, NOT as a ‘homeopathic complex’ given to all patients indiscriminately as was done in this study. [Pharma drugs are prescribed with the notion that one size fits all, but that’s NOT the way homeopathic remedies are prescribed – there is a dichotomy between how pharma drugs & homeopathic remedies are prescribed, as they are different paradigms & therefore require different approaches… unfortunately pharma trained MD’s are *clueless* on how to deal with homeopathic prescription].
            The particular ‘homeopathic complex’ that was chosen is not even in the homeopathic ‘materia medica’ so there is no way to prescribe it using the tenets of homeopathy. In essence this was not a test of homeopathy, but rather the test of a particular ‘homeopathic complex’ of questionable worth & also a test of the competence of the “physician specialized in homeopathy”… it was actually more of a test to prove that *an improperly prescribed homeopathic remedy for a given condition acts as a placebo*…. which is of course exactly what the results showed.

            One more thing… would any reasonable person call homeopathy a failure if it was not able to improve or treat a condition for which a pharma drug wouldn’t do any better, for example in cases where the pain is so severe that morphine is required, such as was the case for this study?
            In the case of a homeopathic study/trial, the physician’s name who conducted the study/trial is no less significant than the name(s) of the author(s); & the physician’s qualifications/competence/experience in homeopathy is no less important than the homeopathic remedies chosen and the condition being treated. Why is that??? Since an improperly prescribed homeopathic remedy acts as placebo, it should be obvious that the physician’s qualifications in homeopathy are an important factor in the success of the trial, i.e., how can someone not sufficiently trained or knowledgeable in homeopathy know how to prescribe an ‘individualized’ homeopathic remedy to each patient? If the name of the physician & his qualifications are not documented within the trial, just as any other data, then the study/trial should be disregarded, as there is insufficient data on which to base an intelligent assessment, & such a study/trial should not pass peer-review… yet ironically they do pass peer-review, and unfortunately, subsequently such studies/trials are taken for face value by virtually all who encounter them, & so the myth is propagated.

          • Well, I was suggesting the trials deemed “the methodologically best trials” by Linde (because the review is about individualised homeopathy) but OK, let’s see what you have to say.

            But unfortunately, those conducting a meta-analysis generally have no knowledge of homeopathy […]

            What you’re citing is a clinical study not a meta-analysis. It’s also bold to claim that the authors “have no knowledge of homeopathy” as one of the authors is the head of the clinical research department of Laboratoires Boiron. Boiron, in case you don’t know, is the world’s biggest homeopathy company.

            […] so they just focus on the statistics […] on which they base their decision […]

            What else would they base their decisions/conclusions on, gut feeling?

            The study mentioned that a “physician specialized in homeopathy” was the one who prescribed the ‘homeopathic complex’, however they didn’t give his name nor what kind of qualifications or experience he had in homeopathy….

            Given that Boiron provided both financial and human resources, there’s no reason for that speculation of yours.

            In the case of homeopathy, the physician’s name is no less important than the names of the authors […]

            Again, given Boiron’s involvement we can assume the doctor was competent. If you need to “check for yourself” feel free to contact the researchers (mail address and e-mail are provided in the “Author information”).

            A homeopathic remedy is prescribed by a homeopath as a *single remedy individualized* for the patient, NOT as a ‘homeopathic complex’ given to all patients indiscriminately as was done in this study.

            You chose this study! And while it is true that “Hahnemannian homeopathy” uses single remedies, complex homeopathy is widely used, and some (not all) homeopaths consider it a valid branch.

            The particular ‘homeopathic complex’ that was chosen is not even in the homeopathic ‘materia medica’ so there is no way to prescribe it using the tenets of homeopathy.

            It’s a complex of four remedies used to treat pain (per ‘Materia Medica’). And again I say: you chose this study!

            One more thing… would any reasonable person call homeopathy a failure if it was not able to improve or treat a condition for which a pharma drug wouldn’t do any better, for example in cases where the pain is so severe that morphine is required, such as was the case for this study?

            Um, in this case morphine was the pharma drug! Did it do better than homeopathy? YES! Your question is bollocks.

            Out of curiosity, and you needn’t answer this:
            in another thread you say that you are an osteopath. What is it that makes you competent to evaluate a “physician’s qualifications/competence/experience in homeopathy”?

          • Viki, there was no reply button to your post of Tuesday 25 February 2014 at 19:58 so I had to make do.

            You have so much (virtually all of it) faulty reasoning & assumptions on which you base your conclusions that it’s difficult to know where to begin to unravel it all, & of course it would take an inordinate amount of space…. which is why I chose to not address the many fallacies in your previous posts. But since you persist with more of the same, as others are reading these posts it would be remiss of me to let this continue… so I’ll try to be a brief as possible. Also you’ve demonstrated that you know very little about the subject you’re debating… it seems your knowledge comes exclusively from reading trials/studies/meta-analyses as you probably think that’s all there is to it, & that’s probably why you’re so confident in your unfounded conclusions…. don’t feel bad because you’re in the majority.

            First of all I’m not the ‘Jon’ [osteopath] you referred to…… apparently this blog allows the same user name to be used by different users. Regardless my qualifications or anyone else’s, anyone is just as qualified to bring up the issue regarding the “physician’s qualifications/competence/experience in homeopathy”…. So why do you even question it?

            “Given that Boiron provided both financial and human resources, there’s no reason for that speculation of yours.” “Again, given Boiron’s involvement we can assume the doctor was competent.”
            Really???? Can we assume that??
            Basically you’re saying that because Bioron provided the financial & human resources to conduct the study, & because they manufacture homeopathic remedies, that they should be smart enough to pick out the best qualified homeopath.
            I say if they’re stupid enough to publish a study that was improperly designed/conducted & the results of the study “proved” that their product didn’t work [I know pharma would never do that], that they are also stupid enough to pick out an incompetent homeopath MD…. now that sounds more reasonable & not because I’m an advocate of homeopathy, only because it makes more logical sense.

            The people employed by Boiron are mainly involved in the manufacturing of homeopathic remedies – they do not represent the practice of homeopathy per se…. they are big business first & foremost. Just because one of the authors is the head of the clinical research department of Laboratoires Boiron, does not qualify him as an expert on homeopathy, and since he is the HEAD of the department, it tells me he is in a management position more geared towards the business end, which explains the ignorance here. In fact, as I’ve indicated in my previous post, I don’t consider this a valid study, nor should anyone else, because it’s unclear just how much “homeopathy” was actually manifested here, and it’s obvious that the people involved, i.e, the Boiron “experts” were the weak link.

            “[…] so they just focus on the statistics […] on which they base their decision […]”
            “What else would they base their decisions/conclusions on, gut feeling?”
            You’re taking my words out of context…. go back & re-read. Of course they would have to ultimately base their decisions on statistics, however there is little value in looking at the statistics if the study is flawed from the get-go, THAT was my point. To simplify, I’ll restate from my previous post: The sad thing is that it seems they ONLY look at the statistics, & apparently that’s ALL you look at….. do you get it now???

            “It’s a complex of four remedies used to treat pain (per ‘Materia Medica’). And again I say: you chose this study!”
            You’re showing your ignorance of homeopathy here, i.e., ‘homeopathic drug provings’ [look it up] in particular. You really need to open up a book on homeopathy so I don’t have to waste time next time on explaining the rudiments. Although the individual remedies are listed in the materia medica, combination remedies typically don’t go through a ‘homeopathic drug proving’ & hence their ‘drug pictures’ are unknown. Each homeopathic remedy has its unique ‘drug picture’, but there is no way to determine the ‘drug picture’ of the combination of remedies based on the ‘drug pictures’ of its components remedies….. it has to be tested!!! Untested combination remedies may have some benefit, depending on the combination, but it needs to be tested as a combination to know exactly what the effects are…. else any trials/studies performed using such combinations which show “no effect beyond placebo” cannot attribute the failure to homeopathy. Using the approach of the subject study, is a study designed to fail.

            I was merely giving an example using morphine, as that’s what was used for this study, however there are other diseases that pharma drugs can’t cure, such as cancer, diabetes or arthritis, yet most people don’t consider pharma drugs to be a failure just because they can’t cure those conditions; whereas homeopathy would be judged as a failure if it couldn’t cure those same conditions…. double standard? So my question was certainly not “bollocks” as it provided a perspective which needs to be considered… so please stop exaggerating & using derogatory words.

            When I pointed out an fallacy in the study, you kept bringing up: “And again I say: you chose this study!”
            Actually you’re forgetting the key reason for which I introduced this study in the first place, which was to give an example of the types fallacies found in trials/studies from mainstream & pharma affiliated sources, which are biased against homeopathy. Even you acknowledge it with your “And again I say: you chose this study!”.

            You picked out a few of my arguments and attempted to dismiss them, but you overlooked the forest for the trees…. you overlooked the bottom line which is that this homeopathic study (& most others) has no place in a biomedical journal as it is no science…. such garbage should never even pass peer review. And the sad thing is that mainstream sources are proliferated with such studies, & this is what goes into meta-analyses & is trusted by the ignorant. And so the myth is propagated.

          • Calm down, please.

            You have so much (virtually all of it) faulty reasoning & assumptions on which you base your conclusions that it’s difficult to know where to begin to unravel it all, & of course it would take an inordinate amount of space…. which is why I chose to not address the many fallacies in your previous posts.

            As you haven’t chosen to address anything of substance do date, I had no expectations you would start now.

            […] it seems your knowledge comes exclusively from reading trials/studies/meta-analyses as you probably think that’s all there is to it, & that’s probably why you’re so confident in your unfounded conclusions…. don’t feel bad because you’re in the majority.

            I can assure you I don’t feel bad about being educated “conventionally”.

            First of all I’m not the ‘Jon’ [osteopath] you referred to…… apparently this blog allows the same user name to be used by different users. Regardless my qualifications or anyone else’s, anyone is just as qualified to bring up the issue regarding the “physician’s qualifications/competence/experience in homeopathy”…. So why do you even question it?

            Out of curiosity, and I wasn’t even “questioning” it, I was inquiring about it. You’re questioning everyone’s competence, so I assumed you found credentials very important.

            “Given that Boiron […] we can assume the doctor was competent.”
            Really???? Can we assume that??
            Basically you’re saying that because Bioron provided the financial & human resources to conduct the study, & because they manufacture homeopathic remedies, that they should be smart enough to pick out the best qualified homeopath.

            Yes, that’s exactly what I infer.

            I say if they’re stupid enough to publish a study that was improperly designed/conducted & the results of the study “proved” that their product didn’t work [I know pharma would never do that], that they are also stupid enough to pick out an incompetent homeopath MD…. now that sounds more reasonable & not because I’m an advocate of homeopathy, only because it makes more logical sense.

            No, it really doesn’t. Trials are done to show if a medication or an intervention works, and finding out that it doesn’t isn’t proof that the design was wrong, but that the medication/intervention didn’t work.

            The people employed by Boiron are mainly involved in the manufacturing of homeopathic remedies – they do not represent the practice of homeopathy per se…. […] tells me he is in a management position more geared towards the business end, which explains the ignorance here. […] the Boiron “experts” were the weak link.

            Speculation. On what do you base that? On the fact that the trial didn’t yield positive results it seems.

            You’re taking my words out of context…. go back & re-read. […] To simplify, I’ll restate from my previous post: The sad thing is that it seems they ONLY look at the statistics, & apparently that’s ALL you look at….. do you get it now???

            I’ve re-read the paragraph and it’s still not making any sense – you’re arguing about meta-analyses doing it wrong by measuring a study’s strength with objective means, trying to use it as ammunition against this study. Are you arguing that they didn’t use classical (Hahnemannian) homeopathy and that’s why they failed? Have a look at the review Mojo linked to: INDIVIDUALISED HOMEOPATHY DOES NO BETTER THAN COMPLEX HOMEOPATHY! And again, complex homeopathy is considered valid by many homeopaths.

            You’re showing your ignorance of homeopathy here, i.e., ‘homeopathic drug provings’ [look it up] in particular. You really need to open up a book on homeopathy so I don’t have to waste time next time on explaining the rudiments.

            You neither need to tell me how provings work, nor do you need to “waste your time”.

            Although the individual remedies are listed in the materia medica, combination remedies typically don’t go through a ‘homeopathic drug proving’ & hence their ‘drug pictures’ are unknown.

            It’s a “complex remedy”! Maybe you need to educate yourself a bit about complex homeopathy?

            I was merely giving an example using morphine, as that’s what was used for this study, however there are other diseases that pharma drugs can’t cure, such as cancer, diabetes or arthritis, yet most people don’t consider pharma drugs to be a failure just because they can’t cure those conditions; whereas homeopathy would be judged as a failure if it couldn’t cure those same conditions…. double standard?

            The difference being that “conventional” medicine doesn’t claim to be able to cure them. Medical science doesn’t claim that anything is treatable as long as you can find the right drug, whereas homeopath’s standard explanation for failure is “it wasn’t the correct simillimum”.

            So my question was certainly not “bollocks” as it provided a perspective which needs to be considered… so please stop exaggerating & using derogatory words.

            It certainly was, so kindly stop pretending otherwise.

            When I pointed out an fallacy in the study, you kept bringing up: “And again I say: you chose this study!”

            You’re not pointing out fallacies, you decided to “debunk” a study that uses a “complex remedy” by saying that it’s not done according to Hahnemann’s principles, when I suggested you should try to debunk the trials that Linde et. al used to conclude that ” when the analysis was restricted to the methodologically best trials no significant effect was seen.” (which were individualised treatments).

            You picked out a few of my arguments and attempted to dismiss them, but you overlooked the forest for the trees…. you overlooked the bottom line which is that this homeopathic study (& most others) has no place in a biomedical journal as it is no science…. such garbage should never even pass peer review.

            Yes, it’s easy to dismiss a study that you choose for its (perceived) flaws, but please realise that I never said every study that gets published is good. On the contrary, I told you that I neither have the time nor the means to evaluate every study available, so I rely on expert reviews, which tell us that the best trials of both complex and individualised homeopathy show it just doesn’t work beyond placebo. The authors of such reviews are more often than not pro-homeopathy and try to find explanations for why the reviews are negative, but they can only review/analyse what has been published.

            And the sad thing is that mainstream sources are proliferated with such studies, & this is what goes into meta-analyses & is trusted by the ignorant. And so the myth is propagated.

            The onus to conduct good studies is on the proponents of homeopathy. If homeopathy is as powerful as they claim it should be easy to prove this.

          • Viki,
            you again have so many fallacies & misconceptions in your post of ‘Wednesday 26 February 2014 at 16:48’ that this time I’m not going to waste time & space addressing it in all, rather I will let you select two arguments out of that mess & I will demonstrate what I mean, & by extension if I can show that your strongest arguments fail so do the lesser, so I won’t have to waste time with them.
            Your objective here is obviously to look for opportunities to diverge away from anything that is in favor of homeopathy.

          • @Jon

            you again have so many fallacies & misconceptions in your post of ‘Wednesday 26 February 2014 at 16:48′ that this time I’m not going to waste time & space addressing it in all, rather I will let you select two arguments out of that mess & I will demonstrate what I mean, & by extension if I can show that your strongest arguments fail so do the lesser, so I won’t have to waste time with them.

            Vicky’s post was almost 500 words (not including quotations), but she was replying to a post of yours of over a thousand words, and which included a complaint that “You picked out a few of my arguments…” Your objection now seems to be that she has addressed too many of your arguments.

            Your objective here is obviously to look for opportunities to diverge away from anything that is in favor of homeopathy.

            You haven’t posted anything in favour of homoeopathy. You asked people to cherry-pick a couple of negative studies so you could discount them, and then when nobody played your game, chose one to discount yourself. Vicky has addressed what you have posted.

  • Sorry Jon, I’m not going to continue with this silly little game – reality isn’t decided by who is the better debater.

  • FRom the paper: “The collaborating homeopathic practitioner provided a decision sheet that used
    description of clinical signs to assign the most appropriate remedy for each cow. Six homeopathic remedies were provided:
    SSC (sulphur, silica, carbo veg), Phytolacca, Byronia, Urtica urens, Hepar sulph and Ipecac”.

    That is best practice homeopathy in farm animals – you won’t get a homeopath out to every mastitis case (and four of the 7 farms used homeopathy before the study).

    Jon

  • There is no “objective stance” on homeopathy. There is hardly any “objective stance” in science at the moment. Sticking to the experimental methodological scheme as to a dogma seems to reduce the possibilities to learn and understand more about the nature.

  • Despite all those degrees your knowledge is deficient. If you practiced homeopathy, you would have first hand knowledge. As it is, you don’t. You quote all these studies which are second hand knowledge with who knows what details and facts left out. Most science is junk science these days. Fact is, homeopathy does work. And if you practiced it, you would realize that the improvements far exceed placebo.

    The power of intention (placebo as you call it) is part of healing. The fact that you negate that as medicine illustrates your fundamental lack of medicine and the human body. Regardless of the “placebo” affect, there has been countless cynics who have improved after homeopathy. In fact, many homeopaths were cynics themselves. As Einstein said, the height of ignorance is condemnation without investigation. Only a fool argues about something they have no experience with.

    People like you bash all that isn’t allopathic. How many people die from drugs side effects each year? You seriously want to defend that? All of these supposed “incurable” diseases which allopathy has no idea about are being cured world wide. You folks should put down the peer reviewed articles which are backed by financial incentives and actually practice the medicine you make disparaging remarks about. You might learn something. You might also learn that medicine is an art, and that the skill of the physician determines the outcome. A monkey can write a script to match a symptom. Is that what people spend 200K on for an education, to write a script? This is the art of medicine? What a laugh.

  • Hi Edzard,
    just wanted to let you and other french-speaking people reading your blog that I have translated this post in french on my blog Sceptom. It’s there: http://sceptom.wordpress.com/2014/12/29/lhomeopathie-fonctionne-t-elle-chez-les-animaux-edzard-ernst/

    Best,
    Thomas aka Sceptom

  • I may be late to join this discussion. But.. anyone know anything about homeopathy for cats? Years ago I had two long ( 2yrs, then 3 yrs) episodes of the little-understood Post-viral syndrome, aka M E, from which fortunately I recovered. However, when I walk too much, or get a virus, to this day, my stamina can be seriously affected. This winter I had two colds in 3 weeks, and felt so unwell, wobbly, washed out, I asked (first time in 20 years) for a referral for advice re M E. I was referred to the London Hospital for Integrated Medicine, not quite realising what this was. In the waiting room (this is an N HS hospital..tax payers money etc,) I was astounded to pick up a leaflet saying `Homeopathy for Cats.`

    After a friendly lecture from a not very interested physician, I was told by him: `I will refer you to Mary. She is very kind.`

    The fact that nobody knows the science behind my occasionally recurring symptoms makes me a bit sad sometimes. (They went away after a few weeks thankfully.) But the fact that the Outpatient dept was happy to display Homeopathy for Cats – shocked me. Should this be sanctioned, acknowledged, by the N H S?

  • @ Deborah Freeman,
    Since homeopathy for human beings is founded on bizarre concepts and contravenes basic chemical laws, how then would you consider the prospects for cats?

    If I saw that kind of publication in an Australian hospital, rest assured many people within long earshot would be aware of my disagreement.

  • homeopathic believing farmers on bbc farming this morning , it’s marvellous apparently.

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