MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

‘Country News’ just published an article about our heir to the throne. Here is an excerpt:

The Prince of Wales has revealed he uses homeopathic treatments for animals on his organic farm at Highgrove to help reduce reliance on antibiotics, the article stated. He said his methods of farming tried wherever possible to ‘‘go with the grain of nature’’ to avoid dependency on antibiotics, pesticides and other forms of chemical intervention.

The prince made these comments to experts at a summit at the Royal Society in London as part of a global battle against the growing threat of antibiotic resistance. ‘‘In fact, it was one of the reasons I converted my farming operation to an organic, or agro-ecological, system over 30 years ago, and why incidentally we have been successfully using homeopathic — yes, homeopathic — treatments for my cattle and sheep as part of a program to reduce the use of antibiotics,’’ Prince Charles said. Calling for ‘‘urgent and coherent’’ global action, he said antibiotics were being overused. ‘‘It must be incredibly frustrating to witness the fact that, as has been pointed out by many authorities, antibiotics have too often simply acted as a substitute for basic hygiene, or as it would seem, as a way of placating a patient who has a viral infection or who actually needs little more than patience to allow a minor bacterial infection to resolve itself.’’

The prince continued: ‘‘I find it difficult to understand how we can continue to allow most of the antibiotics in farming, many of which are also used in human medicine, to be administered to healthy animals… Could we not devise more effective systems where we reserve antibiotics for treating animals where the use is fully justified by the seriousness of the illness?’’

END OF EXCERPT

Charles seems to have a few reasonable points her. Sadly he then spoils it all by not being able to resist his passion for quackery.

  • Yes, we have over-used antibiotics both in human and in veterinary medicine.
  • Yes, this has now gone so far that it now endangers our health.
  • Yes, it is a scandal that so little has happened in this respect, despite us knowing about the problem for many years.
  • No, homeopathy is not the solution to any of the above!!!

The Prince claims he has been ‘successfully using homeopathy’. This is nonsense, and he should know it. Highly diluted homeopathic remedies are pure placebos, and to use placebos for sick animals cannot be a good idea. For those who need the evidence for these (all too obvious) statements, here it is:

A recent systematic review assessed the efficacy of homeopathy in cattle, pigs and poultry. Only peer-reviewed publications dealing with homeopathic remedies, which could possibly replace or prevent the use of antibiotics in the case of infective diseases or growth promotion in livestock were included. Search results revealed a total number of 52 trials performed within 48 publications fulfilling the predefined criteria. Twenty-eight trials were in favour of homeopathy, with 26 trials showing a significantly higher efficacy in comparison to a control group, whereas 22 showed no medicinal effect. Cure rates for the treatments with antibiotics, homeopathy or placebo varied to a high degree, while the remedy used did not seem to make a big difference. No study had been repeated under comparable conditions. Consequently, the use of homeopathy cannot claim to have sufficient prognostic validity where efficacy is concerned. When striving for high therapeutic success in treatment, the potential of homeopathy in replacing or reducing antibiotics can only be validated if evidence of efficacy is confirmed by randomised controlled trials under modified conditions.

If we want to reduce antibiotics, we need to stop using them for situations where they are not necessary, and we must improve husbandry such that antibiotics are not required for disease prevention. To a large extent this is a question of educating those who are responsible for administering antibiotics. Education has to be rational and evidence-based. Homeopathy is irrational and believe-based.

Yet again, Prince Charles’ views turn out to be a hindrance to progress.

God save the Queen!

23 Responses to Prince Charles’ passion for quackery is a hindrance to progress

  • Prince Charles is a member of the Royal Society (founded under the patronage of Charles II).
    Given he has evidence that his use of homeopathy has successfully treated dumb animals, the Society should insist he publishes this evidence.
    Not to do so would perpetuate the understanding of most scientists that homeopathic preparations have no value.
    Any evidence the Prince has that they do have worthwhile effects should be made available to all.

    If the Prince declines to publish this vital and important evidence, the Royal Society is brought into disrepute, and should ask him to resign.

    • Some fellows should write to the president making this point. David Colquhoun?

    • But it’s the Royal Society, Richard. The fault lies in the obsequious deference of the British who unthinkingly seek the patronage of their inbred monarchs to lend credibility (hah!) to the names of their institutions: just look at all those Royal Colleges in the medical arena. I can’t see any way the Fellows of the Royal Society are likely to round on Charles: not only is he the next to senior patron by definition, he recently made a speech deploring climate change scepticism, which shows that between those large ears there are oases of scientific comprehension.

  • Why does the Royal Society insist on pandering to this man?

  • So much for the value of constitutional monarchies (Brittain) and inherited supreme leaderships (N. Korea). Heirs are not always endowed with intelligence.

  • Out of curiosity. What does the Prince’s sons have to say about their fathers support of quackery? Do they have any public stance on this? Or will it just be passed on from generation to generation.

    • there is not much info on this; but it seems to get passed on to the next generation

      • The problem with these extremely high profile people, openly supporting quackery, is that it attracts attention from all over the world. My former, litlle known, university in Australia put in a lot of effort to get him on the books as their patron – supposedly this will then give them more credibility.

        I did toy with the idea to try and contact his sons so that they can try and talk some sense into their father but that proved to be a bit more complex than what I thought. Point is: the prince might be a lost case (regarding CAM) so maybe start focusing on the next generation?

        • That’s one of the problems with pandering to an outdated “monarchy”: you have to bow and scrape to their nonsense whatever it is……is there anything to suppose that another generation will have inherited any more powers of reasoning? Their education, such as it is, only prepares them to receive homage.

  • Dr. Ernst….In my profession (veterinary medicine) we have a number of homeopathic veterinarians prescribing homeopathic remedies for analgesia/ chronic pain relief . I find it a cruel hoax perpetrated on a defenseless animal to allow practitioners to promote, sell and dispense these products . By definition the remedies have nothing in them except the carrier agent (usually water or alcohol) . The practitioners who do this are abandoning the veterinary oath to relieve animal suffering in order to make money and stroke their egos. This is a sad reality of the use of alternative practices in veterinary medicine. Could you comment on the use of homeopathic remedies in the treatment of chronic pain?

  • PLACEBO
    What a bunch of losers Edzard Ernst and his claque are. They say “oh, homeopathy, it’s a placebo! without knowing even what the word means.
    Placebo is a religious term, more evidence that Skepticism is actually a religion.
    By strict definition of the word, placebo means something that placates, so could be applied to anything meant to please the recipient. What the use of the word placebo implies is something performing its action by purely psychological means, without any identifiable physical chemistry. In other words, what I infer skeptics use of the word placebo to describe homeopathic pharmaceuticals, is that they are inert.
    The question raised from this is why don’t they just say that? Why don’t they just say homeopathic pharmaceuticals are inert?
    I suspect the answer is they are just not sure, and so their subconscious mind prevents them from using a term that is more precise and less critically applied.
    The point here is that people who are presumably approaching the subject from a scientific point of view you would think would be sticklers for precise language. The word placebo doesn’t describe anything really at all because it invokes a universal phenomenon that could be applied to anything that relies on patent mummery, which homeopathy, by the way, hourly has very little of . . little white, benign-looking pills that don’t look like anything at all! That’s exactly how the religious skeptics takes them to be without any further inquiry or explanation. If they said because it looks like it’s inert it must be inert! How does that invoke the placebo effect?
    Yo, Dumbo! If you’re trying to invoke the placebo effect, don’t use little white sugar pellets, you can’t fool anybody with that, make them big and black and full of opium!
    If homeopathy was trying to invoke a psychogenic placebo effect, would not the pharmaceuticals be designed in such a way as to invoke more respect? To enhance the placebo effect, wouldn’t it make more sense to actually include a drug that imparts a feeling such as opioids do?
    What I’m describing here is allopathic medicine!
    Given the fact that homeopathic pharmaceuticals actually do have a definable chemistry, it might lead one to conclude that the actual dispensers of the real placebo is allopathy.

    • Hmm…

      Placebo: noun: a substance that has no therapeutic effect, used as a control in testing new drugs.
      Derived from 18th century Latin, literally ‘I shall be acceptable or pleasing’

      Is it really too much to expect you to use the same definition as the rest of the English speaking world? The rest of us don’t subscribe to your irrational religious beliefs about homeopathy.

    • Well done John.

      John, I hope by now that you see that this site has a regular bunch of dopeys doing their best to try and annoy people with sarcasm and insult because, apart from that, they don’t have a clue about homeopathy. Even when numbers of people have pointed out to them their dopey uniformed comments they keep on going like punch drunk fighters.

      It is time for you to leave these people alone to get on with their chat room on Edzard’s ‘blogs’ that are not ‘scientific papers’ after all.

      • Thanks, Greg! Good on you for it. It’s reassuring to know that not everybody who reads this column are as stupid as these guys are.

      • “Well done John.

        John, I hope by now that you see that this site has a regular bunch of dopeys doing their best to try and annoy people with sarcasm and insult”

        And yet John ‘honorary degree’ started the insults. Didn’t you notice? Was that inconvenient to your bias?

    • Placebo, Are You There?, by Jean Brissonnet, translation by Harriet Hall:
      http://sciencebasedmedicine.org/placebo-are-you-there/

    • “What a bunch of losers Edzard Ernst and his claque are”

      I’m that loser. A loser who demands evidence. Who notes that evidence deniers have serious blood on their hands, those who are killed by their childish self indulgence.

      Yes – there’s lots wrong with our current medical practices. But if we have an evidence based approach we do and will improve things. If we allow charlatans to just make it up, innocent people suffer and die for absolutely no reason.

      This loser thinks you and your crowd have blood on your hands.

      “Given the fact that homeopathic pharmaceuticals actually do have a definable chemistry”

      Yup – they have the chemistry of the carrier agent and nothing more.

      And no peer reviewed (ie actual science) study has ever found homeopathy to be effective. And it isn’t as though folks haven’t tried.

      What is wrong with you people?

      I note from your profile:

      “I hold the only known honorary degree in homeopathy. It is from Hahnemann College of Homeopathy in London, England”

      That’s not really a recognised degree though is it? That’s like having the same kind of degree as ‘Doctor’ Gillian McKeith say, right?

      Can I get an honoary degree in pixie studies please?

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