MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

Dana Ullman is an indefatigable promotor of bogus claims and an unwitting contributor of hilarity. Therefore he has become a regular feature of this blog (see for instance here, here and here). His latest laughable assertion is that lead and other poisonings can be successfully treated with homeopathy.

Just to make sure: lead poisoning is no joke. The greatest risk is to brain development in babies, where irreversible damage can occur. Higher levels can damage the kidneys and nervous system in both children and adults. Very high lead levels may cause seizures, unconsciousness and death.

In view of this, Ullman’s claim is surprising, to say the least. In order to persuade the unsuspecting public of his notion, Ullman first cites a review of basic research on homeopathy and toxins published in Human and Experimental Toxicology. “Of forty high-quality studies, 27 showed positive results from homeopathic treatment”, Ullman states.

Now, now, now Dana!

Has your mom not taught you that telling porkies is forbidden?

Or did you perhaps miss this line in the article’s abstract? “The quality of evidence in these studies was low with only 43% achieving one half of the maximum possible quality score and only 31% reported in a fashion that permitted re-evaluation of the data. Very few studies were independently replicated using comparable models.”

Hardly ‘high quality studies’, wouldn’t you agree?

But this review was of pre-clinical studies; what about the much more important clinical evidence?

Here Ullman cites one trial where a potentized homeopathic remedy, Arsenicum Album 30C, was administered to  55 people who were entered into a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. According to Ullman, the homeopathically treated group “experienced higher excretion of arsenic in their urine for the first eleven days, compared to those given a placebo.”

Na, na, na, Dana, this is getting serious!!!

Another porky – and not even a little one.

The authors of this study clearly stated that, at the end of the 11-day RCT, there was no significant difference between the homeopathy and the placebo group: “The differences in the concentration between the two groups (drug versus placebo) were generally a little higher during the first week, but subsequently the differences were not so palpable, particularly at the 11th day.” And for those who are a bit slow on the uptake, they even included a graph that makes it abundantly clear.

The only other clinical study cited by Ullman in support of his surprising claim is a double-blind randomized trial which was conducted with 131 workers who suffered lead poisoning at the Ajax battery plant in Bauru, São Paulo State, Brazil. Subjects were prescribed homeopathic doses of lead (Plumbum metallicum 15C) or placebo which they took orally for 35 days. The results of this RCT show that homeopathy is not better than placebo.

So, we seem to have all of two RCTs on the subject (I did a quick Medline-search and also found no further RCTs), and both are negative.

Anyone who is not given to compulsive porky-telling would, I guess, conclude from this evidence that people suffering from lead poisoning should urgently see conventional experts and avoid homeopaths at all costs – not so Dana Ullman who boldly concludes his article with these words:

“As an adjunct to conventional medical treatment, professional homeopathic care is recommended for people who have been exposed (or think they have been exposed) to toxic substances… Even if you do not have a professional homeopath in your town, many homeopathic practitioners “see” their patients via Skype or do consultations over the telephone. Unlike acupuncturists, who put needles in you, or chiropractors, who adjust your spine, homeopaths are not “hands-on”: they simply need to conduct a detailed interview… If your symptoms are serious or potentially serious, it is important to see a professional homeopath and/or physician. While a homeopath will commonly prescribe a safe homeopathic dose of the toxic substance to which one was exposed, the homeopath may instead decide that a different substance more closely matches the patient’s unique symptoms…”

It takes a lot these days to make me speechless but there, Dana, you almost succeeded!

44 Responses to Lies, damned lies, and Dana Ullman

  • I never know if Dana lies deliberately or is just such a zealot that he is physically incapable of seeing negative evidence for the supposed effectiveness of his pet quackery.

    • A technical term for Dana’s debility is Belief perseverance

      • From what he posted below, he sure puts a lot of faith in the changes in liver enzyme levels. Ernst could had a ‘field day’ with those, but he spared us.

        • the thing is that Dana has not got a clue about real medicine and therefore is at al loss understanding what liver function tests mean in any clinical situation.

    • Well, Darth Ernst strikes again…and it seems that Ernst suffers from projection. That is, like “Adolf” Trump who projects his lies onto the press, Ernst claims that I lie, when, in fact, he cannot seem to tell the truth.

      Ernst quotes from one of the arsenic studies…but he cuts off the quote without mentioning the VERY next sentence (“how convenient” said the Church Lady!). Here’s that sentence: “But from this study, it was quite evident that the efficacy of the ‘verum’ in the mobilization of As was always greater than that of the ‘placebo’ during all 11 days.”

      And isn’t it interesting that Ernst carefully avoids mentioning the various liver enzyme measurements between the treated and control groups (“how convenient, indeed”).

      It is further interesting that the various commenters here probably read the article, noticed the missing sentence, and then proceeded to be speeple. OR…perhaps they didn’t read the article and simply chose to be speeple anyway.

      If they did their “homework,” then they lied…and if they didn’t do their homework, it simply verifies how unscientific attitude. Either way, Ernst and his ilk verify their hyper-bias. Typical, sadly typical.

      • oh dear!
        I quoted you correctly. I omitted stuff that contributes little to the evidence that homeopathy is not effective.
        omitting is necessary to keep a post concise; lying, as you did Dana, is dishonest!
        your deluded statement “Ernst and his ilk verify their hyper-bias. Typical, sadly typical” cannot distract from this fact – so stop trying to do this.

        • Really?! You show (again) “bad faith” by truncating the quote from that study. If you were an honest man, you would have provided the entire quote…but now, you’ve confirmed your pathology. Your projection is showing, and it is obvious. Thanx for verifying your “alternative facts.”

          • I truncated the quote from your drivel!
            But id you don’t believe me, perhaps you believe a US Judge who stated about you the following:
            START OF QUOTE
            The Defendant presented the testimony of Gregory Dana Ullman who is a homeopathic practitioner. He outlined the theory of homeopathic treatment and presented his opinion as to the value and effectiveness of homeopathic remedies. The Court found Mr. Ullman’s testimony to be not credible. Mr. Ullman’s bias in favor of homeopathy and against conventional medicine was readily apparent from his testimony. He admitted that he was not an impartial expert but rather is a passionate advocate of homeopathy. He posted on Twitter that he views conventional medicine as witchcraft. He opined that conventional medical science cannot be trusted.
            […]
            Mr. Ullman’s testimony was unhelpful in understanding the purported efficacy of the ingredients of SnoreStop to reduce the symptoms of snoring. Although he is familiar with the theory of homeopathic treatment, his opinions regarding its effectiveness was unsupported and biased. The Court gave no weight to his testimony.
            — Rosendez v. Green Pharmaceuticals
            END OF QUOTE

          • That’s it! Switch the conversation from the hard evidence of your BAD FAITH in reporting and your DISHONESTY! How typical!

            Darth Ernst shows his true colors again.

            And there’s no irony that you ignored discussion of all the liver enzyme results…or are they also due to placebo? If so, you may be more metaphysical than I am because you believe that BELIEF can dramaticaly change liver enzyme results. Cool!

          • “That’s it! Switch the conversation from the hard evidence of your BAD FAITH in reporting and your DISHONESTY! How typical!”
            I DID NOT SWITCH ANYTHING BUT YOU DID! this post is about your latest porkies!!!
            “And there’s no irony that you ignored discussion of all the liver enzyme results…or are they also due to placebo?”
            I left this out because it is not relevant to your claim that homeopathy is effective against lead poisoning! the main endpoints here are lead levels in the body, clinical symptoms or death.
            you made a false claim that has the potential to kill thousands – OWN UP!

          • I’ll own up to providing reference to and a good description of a study…and yet, YOU left out the most important sentence (once again, “how convenient!”).

            Please simply EXPLAIN why you left out that important sentence, though I am confident that you will not do this and will simply again attack me. You’ve been CAUGHT in a LIE. Can you even tell the truth? I wonder about this.

          • you are wrong, and you know it. all you are trying to do is distracting from your dangerous lie that can kill people.
            I explained already why you are wrong:
            1) omission is not a lie;
            2) the sentence in question did not contribute to my point that homeopathy is not effective.
            when in a hole, stop digging [and stop lying] Dana.

          • If you actually think that homeopathic medicines will KILL people, then, we all must assume that you think that conventional medicines create MASS MURDERS. But no, your extreme bias doesn’t enable you to think rationally.

            It is just more than a tad ironic that your wife uses homeopathic medicines…and that must drive you bonkers (well, considering you’re already bonkers, maybe her actions provide a homeopathic effect!?).

          • I will make it simple so that you can understand this:
            1 lead poisoning id potentially lethal
            2 it can be effectively treated by mainstream measures
            3 homeopathy does not work
            4 using homeopathy for lead poisoning and similarly dangerous conditions KILLS PATIENTS!
            GOT IT THIS TIME?
            the rest of your comment [about my wife] is simply another lie.

          • Edzard

            “1) omission is not a lie;”

            Omission is a big, not spoken, LIE. You have been accused of tampering with information earlier also.(Dr. R Hahn). And then also, you went about trying to tarnish his reputation and avoiding to answer the specific allegation against you. Omission is clear method of tampering with information.

            “2) the sentence in question did not contribute to my point that homeopathy is not effective.”

            What do you know about homeopathy other than that your grand father and father were prescribing homeopathic medicines and as a child you were treated by a homeopath?

            This statement exactly proves the point: fudging of data because of ideology.

            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19703926

          • you are too dismal to merit a reply

          • Edzard

            “you are too dismal to merit a reply”

            So who is the conman between your grandfather, father, your family doctor or you?
            Why not settle the lies, dammed lies and… within the family first?

          • Edzard

            “What do you know about homeopathy other than that your grand father and father were prescribing homeopathic medicines and as a child you were treated by a homeopath?”

            Let me make it simple for you. With your grand father, father and your family doctor on one side practicing homeopathy and you denouncing homeopathy, who is the conman/men?

          • you are a never-ending source of hilarity!
            please keep it up, we need you on a rainy day like today.

          • Edzard,

            With the level of personal attacks these despicable posters have resorted to I don’t thing anyone would hold it against you if you were to block them from posting here.

            Regards,
            Gold

      • “Adolph Trump”? Implying that Trump is a fascist is not an effective way to begin a defense of your position. Such a lead-in suggests that you are a buffoon and compromises any possible argument you might proffer.

        I suggest you stick to justifying your thoughts regarding homeopathy and leave your political views out of future conversations. Perhaps you have spent too much time in California’s Lala land of liberals?

        Be well

        • “Implying that Trump is a fascist is not an effective way to begin a defense of your position.”

          Fair point.

          Trump is really quite fascist in his tendencies though. Stack it up: the dishonest attacks on free press, the attacks on the judiciary, the bullying, the racism, the totalitarian tendency… those are pretty fascist characteristics.

      • @Dana Ullman, apparently you have no idea how damaging your arsenic study really is. If you look at figure 1, you see that arsenic content of verum treated patients is consistently higher than that of placebo treated patients. Homeopathic companies are not known for strict QC. A higher arsenic content may indicate that the patients treated with verum have actually been poisoned, at least it indicates severe problems with sampling. However, the poisoning hypothesis is supported by the liver parameters which go down after poisoning by Arsenicum album 30C stopped. Conveniently the researchers did NOT present data of the verum group which would have been the most important thing.
        Dana, you really know nothing whatsoever how to read a clinical study, much less how to interpret it. Finally, your use of ad hominem rather than rational arguments clearly indicates. YOU LOST. Period.

      • Did Dana really use “speeple” instead of “sheeple”?

        WTF is “speeple”? Searching on it reveals a few usernames, but no definition.

      • If they did their “homework,” then they lied…and if they didn’t do their homework, it simply verifies how unscientific attitude.

        There is a third option. They did their homework and found it didn’t match your claims.

    • I’d go with “lies deliberately *and* is just such a zealot”.

  • What happened here? Why is he publishing in the Huffington Post (HP), of all places? Could it be that his article would have been rejected had he submitted it to a peer-reviewed journal, or is he just a shill for manufacturers of homeopathic notions and potions hoping to get in on the popular “detox” craze? And why is the HP publishing such nonsense in the first, as technical and boring for the readership of the HP as it is? Maybe he thought it would be an ideal audience for his nano crap? If detox doesn’t grab them, nano surely will. Who knows what sort of machinations his imagination gets up to. While he’s at it, he might be better off to take a remedy for self-delusion, assuming one can be found or concocted by a homeopath in just the right potency.

    • an alternative title of the post could have been LIES, DAMNED LIES AND THE HUFFINGTON POST. Dullman has a regular column in the HP, I understand.

    • He’s been on HuffPo for ages. As for why they let him post there, they don’t exactly have a reputation for quality content. It’s good quality within its niche, but not necessarily good quality overall.

      Dana is very popular among the alt-med crowd and he draws the eyeballs which equates to ad revenue.

  • I understand that his column at the Huffington Post is one of those free-to-post-with-no-renumeration numbers (sorry, shouldn’t have mentioned numbers – The Dullman struggles when they’re mentioned).

    So basically he uses it to peddle his sugar pills* by advertising without charge and with no editorial meddling, unencumbered by science or reality (*disclaimer – may contain extract of bullsh*t).

    He was all over #alternativefacts waaaaay before it became fashionable.

    • Really. In that case, maybe I’ll have go. If Huff will publish his stuff, they might allow mine, bereft of alt-facts as it is.

    • Ullman has been posting articles at the HP since 2012. The funny thing is that when I entered his name as a search term at the US version of the blog, nothing came up.

  • He was good in ‘Wayne’s World’ though, to be fair.

  • Ah, Dana “Mr Uncredible” Ullman.

    “The Court found Mr. Ullman’s testimony to be not credible.” http://is.gd/MrUncredible

    I doubt he will ever understand the difference between propaganda and research.

  • No details of allocation and randomisation. No mention of blinding effectiveness. 55 trial subjects. No comment.

    I spotted a porkie relating to a follow-up study mentioned by Ullman.

    Subjects were checked periodically over a period of two years by which time out of the 130 homeopathy subjects only 15 showed up for testing. Little acccounting for this huge drop-out rate is provided. 17 subjects who had received placebo failed to appear for the first 6 month check-up. No accounting for why they failed to appear is provided. It also appears quite possible that they were not even blinded!

    Now for the big porkie.

    Ullman says “None out of 17 who received placebo showed up to provide blood or urine at these longer intervals because they received no benefit from the placebo treatment.”

    The trial authors do not say why the placebo subjects failed to attend the check-up at six months. They are simply dropped from the trial. Their reasons for not returning could be multivarious. The trial’s authors say precisely nothing on the subject.

    Ullman then quotes the follow-up study’s conclusion that administration of Arsenicum album 200C considerably ameliorates symptoms of arsenic toxicity on a long-term basis.

    He fails to mention the qualification added by the trial authors: “in the absence of a suitable control group, the observed ameliorative changes can not be strictly ascribed to only drug effect, it is emphasized that the homeopathic drug appeared to act positively in a fairly large number of affected people, who got benefits from this treatment. The role of other factors like spontaneous amelioration, or changes in life style, psychological effect, sampling error, and so forth, if any, influencing the results can only be known if further controlled studies on a larger scale can be carried out by other researchers or independent groups.”

    That little word “only” has no justification for being there. The absence of a suitable control group means that any ameliorative changes can not be ascribed to homeopathy in any way at all. The trial was a complete and total waste of time.

    • So Dana’s been trumpeting a risible piece of research as evidence for the effectiveness of his pet quackery.

      Again.

      It’s been debunked. Roundly and soundly.

      Again.

      We now wait for Dana’s continued citing of this garbage elsewhere.

      Again.

      Wonder if he’s going to reappear here? It’s always fun watching the spittle fly and his little eyeballs spin round as he ties himself in logical knots.

  • Hi Dana! You should look by more often. Your inanities are entertaining in a weird way.

    Arsenicum album 200C !!!
    That’s bl-dy well a drop of arsenic solution (“mother tincture”) diluted
    10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
    00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
    00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
    00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
    00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
    00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
    00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
    000000000 times in purified water and you mean to tell us it is supposed to work against arsenic poisoning!?!
    How silly can you get?

  • What’s hilarious here is that there’s more evidence here that homeopathy works coming from the skeptics than there is from Dana. Here’s self proclaimed ‘trained homeopath” Edzard Ernst years ago trying to rewrite another admission.
    He states:
    “The existence of contradicting evidence is not unusual in therapeutics. One solution to resolve such contradictions is to conduct systematic reviews and meta-analyses of rigorous studies. In 1997, Linde et al did just that. The conclusions of this technically superb meta-analysis expressed the notion that homeopathic medicines are more than mere placebos.”
    It was hardly their notion, it was their conclusion!
    Not one major meta analysis has been able to effectively conclude that the action of homeopathic remedies is due solely to the placebo effect. Not even Shang, the most popular homeopathy meta analysis among skeptics, was able to clearly conclude that the effect was from chance, iatrogenesis or “placebo,” admitting “a weak effect.” A review of the data by independent analysis of Shang determined that even in this most damning meta of homeopathy, ”Homeopathy had a significant effect beyond placebo.” Ludtke Rutten
    The literature for the homeopathic placebo simply doesn’t exist. The urban legend was a badly executed deception popularized by James Randi 14 years ago to support his phony offer of one million dollars ($1,000,000) to prove homeopathy, an offer that his supporters, which includes the pharmaceutical drug industry, are still desperately hanging onto as proof that homeopathy is unprovable.

    • repetition of nonsense does not turn it into sense!
      in responsible healthcare we use treatments which are supported by POSITIVE evidence. nobody cares a hoot whether SRs of homeopathy are conclusively negative. the point is they fail to be convincingly positive. even Lind revised his conclusion a couple of years later.

      • “repetition of nonsense does not turn it into sense!”

        What if we shake it a lot? Or bang it against a firm but pliable surface?

    • “What’s hilarious here is…”
      … that you think you have a point.

      “Not one major meta analysis has been able to effectively conclude that the action of homeopathic remedies is due solely to the placebo effect.”

      Lets ignore the obvious incorrect statement here and focus on your conclusion; that “the action of homeopathic remedies is [not] due solely to the placebo effect”

      So the conclusions are so close to the placebo effect that it is considered but the papers are being honest about it so you glom on to the barest potential that it may be something else instead. The elephant in the room is that the outcomes were so close to the placebo effect that it is actually a thing being considered to explain them.

      If this is the case, what the hell is the point? The placebo effect is pointless. Roughly 1/3rd of the population are susceptible to it. Of them 1/3rd *may* experience it at any given time. And you can’t encode “chance” into magic water/pills. What you have is about an 11% (did I get that math right?) chance of a positive outcome and shitty research methodology, cherry picking, confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance leaves some people thinking it’s a panacea.

  • It’s always revealing when an anti-science liar claims that their opponents are ‘hilarious’.

    Not that ‘hilarious’ to be roundly exposed as a dangerous fraud, is it, John?

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