MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

“Millions of people have adverse drug reactions to prescribed medicine; it is ranked as the third leading causes of death. In the US, health-care spending reached $1.6 trillion in 2003. Considering this enormous expenditure, we should have the best medicine in the world. But we don’t. Bottom line, people are suffering. The public is calling out for a reform in mainstream medicine.” These seem to be the conclusions of a new film about homeopathy entitled JUST ONE DROP. It was shown recently for the first time in London, and we already have a fascinating comment about it.

“This professional, eight-year effort attempted to be quite even-handed, while featuring many compelling and documented success stories”, states “The World’s No. 1 Authority on Intention, Spirituality and the New Science”, Lynne Mc Taggart. An ‘even-handed’ effort is worth pursuing, I thought, and so I read on.

When I reached the point where Lynne writes “The greatest revelation had to do with the dirty pool employed by the Australian government’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), when it decided to assess the effectiveness of homeopathy by reviewing all research that had been done to date”, I got a little suspicious. We discussed the NHMRC report here and here and I had an entirely different impression of it.

Lynne also elaborated at length on the infamous ‘Swiss report’: “The Swiss team had comprehensively reviewed all the major evidence for homeopathy, everything from preclinical research to double-blind, placebo-controlled studies and meta-analyses. After assessing all the available data, the Swiss team concluded that the high-quality investigations of preclinical basic research proved that homeopathic high-potency remedies induce “regulative and specific changes in cells or living organisms”. Of the systematic reviews of human research, said the report, 20 out of 22 detected “at least a trend in favor of homeopathy”, and five showed “clear evidence for homeopathic therapy”.  The report found particularly strong evidence for the use of homeopathy for upper respiratory tract infections and allergic reactions.  Perhaps most significantly, the report concluded that the effectiveness of homeopathy “can be supported by clinical evidence” and “regarded as safe”.(Forsch Komple-mentmed, 2006; 13 Suppl 2: 19–29).”

This report has been evaluated by many experts (see for instance here). One expert even called it ‘research misconduct’ and concluded that “…the authors of this report adopted a very unusual strategy in what should have been an impartial evidence appraisal. It appears that their goal was not to provide an independent assessment but to choose criteria that would lead to their chosen conclusion that homeopathy is effective. To this end, they chose to adopt a highly questionable criterion of “real-world” effectiveness, ignore negative findings concerning homeopathy in favour of implausible reinterpretation of results, and attack RCTs. This use of a unique and suspect methodology in an appraisal designed to assess healthcare objectively gives cause for particular concern; one imagines that the Swiss government wanted homeopathy to be judged against existing standards rather than new ones created specially for the evaluation. In doing so the authors have distorted the evidence and misled the public; these actions, combined with their conflicts of interest, strongly suggest that they are guilty of research misconduct. It is extremely unfortunate that the Swiss government lent legitimacy to this report by attaching its name to it, and also unfair that the English-language text is not available free of charge to the public when it is being widely misrepresented all over the world as proof of the efficacy of homeopathy. It remains possible that homeopathy is effective, but the authors of this report do the practice a grave disservice.”

Could it be that Lynne does not know all this?

Or is she not interested in an ‘even-handed’ approach?

For me, the last drop arrived when Lynne started writing about my friend “Simon Singh, the self-appointed attack dog on all things alternative”, as she calls him. This is where I began to feel nauseous, so much so that I had to reach for my Nux Vomica C30. Alas, it did not help – Lynne’s writing was too overpoweringly sickening, particularly when she tried to motivate her readers to defend charities that endanger public health by promoting bogus treatments for life-threatening conditions: “If you value alternative medicine, here’s what to write the CC before the deadline: Tell them to read the Swiss report on homeopathy, the most contentious of alternative therapies, which shows very good evidence for it. Demand a level playing field. If they are going to challenge charities for alternative medicine based on scientific evidence, then they need to evaluate Cancer Research UK, Arthritis Research UK and every other charity partly or wholly funded by pharmaceutical companies, an estimated 75 percent of whose research is massaged, manipulated or fabricated.”

My only hope now is that the film JUST ONE DROP is less bonkers than Lynne’s comment about it!

57 Responses to Homeopathy: JUST ONE DROP… and quite possibly the last

  • Andy Lewis over on Quackometer has highlighted the issue, of questionable and/or dubious charities, in this rather helpful blog post:
    http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2017/04/the-charity-commissions-failure-to-stop-quack-charities.html

  • I agree. The Charity Commission should be encouraged to read the Swiss report on homeopathy.

  • … prescribed medicine [is] ranked as the third leading causes of death…

    I’m curious: does anyone know where that lie originated?

    I see it a lot, usually as third leading cause of death in the USA which, of course, is quite simply not true. The top ten causes of death in the USA in 2015 were, in order:

    Heart disease
    Cancer (malignant neoplasms)
    Chronic lower respiratory disease
    Accidents (unintentional injuries)
    Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases)
    Alzheimer’s disease
    Diabetes
    Influenza and pneumonia
    Kidney disease (nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis)
    Suicide
    Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282929.php

    Not much change at the top since 2002, and still no appearance of iatrogenic harm: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs310.pdf

    Also, those who trot it out probably don’t realise that “medical error” or “iatrogenic harm” includes things like failing to give medicine or giving the wrong medicine – so it would include all death caused indirectly by giving pseudomedicines like homeopathy.

    • Steve Tonkin

      Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the US:http://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i2139
      This is hospital figures. Add another 20% for people dying at home due to same cause.

      The problem is different: First the doctors refused to accept the figure as too big. Now the comment is that the data was under-reported. And the failure- The numbers continue to increase year after year.

      The reason: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18849101 When doctor’s strike work, mortality drops. (another message: elective surgeries kill).
      When nurses strike work, mortality increases.

      • Yet again we have to help Iqbal in his (her?) frantic but futile search for sharp projectiles to throw at us. We’ve been through this nonsense about murderous medicine before so instead of writing yet another thesis let’s refer again to David Gorsky’s excellent takedown of Makaly’s opinion piece: https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/are-medical-errors-really-the-third-most-common-cause-of-death-in-the-u-s/
        Iqbal has, if memory serves me, himself referred to Gorsky in support of his arguments so he (she?) should be able to accept Gorsky’s arguments.

        • I thought Gorsky did a good good “fluffing over” medical mistakes in the paper you cited. He provided plausible explanations for the number of medical errors which have been reported, not unlike those plausible, spun tales we likely will hear from Obama relative to the foreign-policy abyss he left for Trump to clean up for the world. I agree that Gorsky served as a polished apologist for “modern medicine.”

          Geir referred to “nonsense” about medical errors or murderous medicine(sic); hmmmmmmmm…

          Danielle Delango expected weight loss surgery to change her life, not take it.

          The 25-year-old mother underwent Lap-Band surgery at Lawrence Hospital Center for Advanced Surgery in Bronxville, N.Y., in January 2008.

          Allergan, the Irvine, Calif., pharmaceutical giant, produces the Lap-Band, one of the most popular gastric bands on the market. The surgically-implanted device cinches the stomach and severely restricts food intake, making patients feel full quicker.

          Lap-Band manufacturers and bariatric surgeons insist the device saves more lives than it takes, but mounting evidence suggests that the dangers of the procedure aren’t adequately known.

          On Feb. 16 the Food and Drug Administration lowered the weight requirement for the procedure, expanding Allergan’s potential customer base by 26 million, according to The New York Times. The lower restrictions apply only to those with conditions such as diabetes, which are more threatening when combined with excess weight.

          Before the expansion, overweight individuals with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above or a BMI of 35 with an existing obesity-related health problem such as diabetes qualified for surgery. Under the new guidelines, prospective patients can qualify with a BMI as low as 30 if an underlying complication is present. A person who is 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighing 186 pounds, for example, has a BMI of 40.

          Though Delango suffered from severe constipation after the operation, she couldn’t immediately get a follow-up appointment.

          Over the phone, doctors advised her to take laxatives and an enema. Delango collapsed five weeks after her surgery, just days before her scheduled appointment. She suffered a 104 fever due to extreme infection and died six days later on March 3, 2008. Delango’s official cause of death was a “fever of unknown origins followed by Lap-Band.”

          “She wasn’t morbidly obese or suffering from life-threatening health issues,” said Delango’s mother, Joan Delango.

          Joan Delango said her daughter had struggled with her weight since junior high school, but insists she wasn’t heavy enough to qualify for surgery. She is unsure of how her daughter qualified for the surgery, unless her medical records were incomplete or erroneous.

          “The tragedy is that she didn’t need the surgery in the first place,” said Joan Delango. (IMAGINE THAT!). It seems medical errors are indeed more common than “modern medicine,” and GEIR, would care to admit.

          Just sayin’…..

          • I thought

            There is no evidence thereof.

          • Geir “half-quoted,” “I thought.” He thinks a 7-word post might conceal his deflection. As usual, he was wrong.

          • Hehe… L-B can’t even comprehend the simplest of sentences.
            Supports my theory that its thought processing centres are either damaged or disconnected 😀

        • Björn Geir

          Should one accept foolish arguments from a paid blogger Orac (David Gorsky) or listen to doctors who are accepting the failure and trying to do something about it?

          https://www.help.senate.gov/hearings/more-than-1-000-preventable-deaths-a-day-is-too-many-the-need-to-improve-patient-safety

          Check the medical panel: Is David Gorsky qualified enough to even carry their brief cases?

          And 21 US senators wasting public money.

          “A recent Journal of Patient Safety study put the annual toll from preventable medical errors in hospitals at as many as 440,000 deaths annually. That excludes tens of thousands more people dying outside of hospitals from medical mistakes such as missed diagnoses or drug errors.”

          “Dr. Peter Pronovost, senior vice president for patient safety and quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine, told the Senate panel that ​infections, preventable blood clots, adverse drug events, falls, overexposure to medical radiation and diagnostic errors are taking their toll despite advances in prevention. ”

          By quoting David Gorsky’s stupid article you show your bias and your medical intelligence.

          As always, I am disappointed.

          You should in the meantime read the WHO report for Europe.

          While 23% of European Union citizens claim to have been directly affected by medical error, 18% claim to have experienced a serious medical error in a hospital and 11% to have been prescribed wrong medication. Evidence on medical errors shows that 50% to 70.2% of such harm can be prevented through comprehensive systematic approaches to patient safety.
          http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/Health-systems/patient-safety/data-and-statistics

          • Has anyone told David that he has money coming his way? “Iqbal” seems to have inside information from Big-bad-Pharma 😀

            And “Iqbal” has still not understood why problems with safety and quality in real health care have nothing to do with wether homeopathy can replace it.

      • I see. So what the quacks tout as “evidence” is actually an opinion piece calling for better reporting.

        Classy!

  • “pharmaceutical companies, an estimated 75 percent of whose research is massaged, manipulated or fabricated”

    where’s the evidence for that statement, Lynne…?

    • “Can any medical-research studies be trusted”? Dr. John Ioannidis

      That question has been central to Ioannidis’s career. He’s what’s known as a meta-researcher, and he’s become one of the world’s foremost experts on the credibility of medical research. He and his team have shown, again and again, and in many different ways, that much of what biomedical researchers conclude in published studies—conclusions that doctors keep in mind when they prescribe antibiotics or blood-pressure medication, or when they advise us to consume more fiber or less meat, or when they recommend surgery for heart disease or back pain—is misleading, exaggerated, and often flat-out wrong. He charges that as much as 90 percent of the published medical information that doctors rely on is flawed. His work has been widely accepted by the medical community; it has been published in the field’s top journals, where it is heavily cited; and he is a big draw at conferences. Given this exposure, and the fact that his work broadly targets everyone else’s work in medicine, as well as everything that physicians do and all the health advice we get, Ioannidis may be one of the most influential scientists alive. Yet for all his influence, he worries that the field of medical research is so pervasively flawed, and so riddled with conflicts of interest, that it might be chronically resistant to change—or even to publicly admitting that there’s a problem.

      The Paxil/GSK debacle comes to mind when one reads these informative observations regarding biased, untrustworthy research within “modern medicine.”

      I hope this information is helpful to you, Avogadro.

  • Is it not the case that the ‘Swiss Report’ was commissioned by the Swiss Government, but the review was funded by a major manufacturer of homeopathic remedies, and all but one of the authors was a homeopath?

  • Aah, Blessed Lynne. The Dear Leader and her acolytes at WDDTY. The Facebook page where all contrary opinions are deleted, the Twitter feed where all who question are blocked. The black hole into which all sensible science-based discussion will be sucked.

  • “The greatest revelation had to do with the dirty pool employed by the Australian government’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), when it decided to assess the effectiveness of homeopathy by reviewing all research that had been done to date”, I got a little suspicious. We discussed the NHMRC report here and here and I had an entirely different impression of it.”

    Additional comments:

    “But the movie’s real point was all about suppression of evidence. The greatest revelation had to do with the dirty pool employed by the Australian government’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), when it decided to assess the effectiveness of homeopathy by reviewing all research that had been done to date.

    Except they didn’t. They created all sorts of criteria for whether a study should be included in their assessment (it must have more than 150 patients, for instance, criteria never used by conventional medical science), which naturally eliminated many of the most rigorous studies showing a positive effect.

    By the time the NHMRC had sliced and diced some 1800 studies, they were left with just five, all of which had failed to show a positive effect.

    Ergo, they concluded, homeopathy doesn’t work.

    Questionable conclusions

    That conclusion was challenged by Dr. Alex Tournier, the executive director of the Homeopathy Research Institute, and one of the heroes of the film, and members of the Australian Homeopathic Association (AHA), who decided to investigate exactly how this assessment had been conducted.

    They discovered:

    The NHMRC had carried out the review twice, but rejected the first report, which had been carried out by a reputable science – and author of the organization’s own guidelines about how to conduct a proper review. To this day, that report has never seen the light of day.

    The final study was based on only 176 studies, not 1800, as the NHMRC claimed.

    Professor Peter Brooks, chair of the NHMR committee conducting the 2015 review, failed to declare that he was a member of the anti-homeopathy lobby group ‘Friends of Science in Medicine.’

    In violation of the commission’s own guidelines, not a single homeopathy expert was on the committee.

  • “For me, the last drop arrived when Lynne started writing about my friend “Simon Singh, the self-appointed attack dog on all things alternative”, as she calls him. This is where I began to feel nauseous, so much so that I had to reach for my Nux Vomica C30.”

    And you say you studied homeopathy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I have been using homeopathy for 30 + years.My health is continually improving so much so that I am a very healthy self sufficient 70+ yr old woman.The conventional medicine had no answers or help.I took 20+yrs to be diagnosed and laughed at by the medical profession.

  • @Rose
    Since I started reading Edzard’s blog, I have tried to understand the mindset of Edzard and his supporters. Does it not occur to them that the majority of people that eventually end up trying TM have seen their GP’s and specialists for years. When they get to see a TM practitioner, the patient provides the history of their complaint and its treatment under ‘evidence based medicine’. So TM practitioners gain an insight into medicine from patients who do not get well perspective.

    If patients would see a TM practitioner at the very outset, possibly the outcomes would be different.

  • I do understand the difference; that is why I know that homeopathy will not be proven efficacious using the allopathic model.

    What I understand is that you don’t understand what homeopathy is. Your view and approach corresponds to the clinical/practical approach to homeopathy. It is common for homeopaths to start practicing allopathically because classical homeopathy takes time with the patient and knowledge of materia medica to find similimum. It is easier just to prescribe for the condition, isn’t it? Doctors who use homeopathy to treat patients can’t be blamed for taking this approach because their perspective is clinical medicine.

    So, as it is Hahnemann’s birthday, try reading his book again today.

    • THE ASSUMPTION OF AN ‘ALLOPATHIC MODEL’ IS IDIOTIC!
      there is only one scientific method, and all therapeutic claims can and must be tested scientifically or be discarded as bogus.

    • What the hell are you talking about when you say “It is common for homeopaths to start practicing allopathically…” If you mean practicing real medicine other than your made up term allopathy(never heard of it in med school) , how could you even come close to doing that without a real medical education, internship and residency? How many nights have you stayed up with a seriously ill patient keeping them alive from sepsis, pneumonia, metabolic acidosis, diabetic coma,etc, or delivering a baby in distress or assisting with an acute cholesystitis,etc, etc.? How many of your kids birthdays or holidays have you worked in the hospital caring for really ill patients? You are nothing but a fraud and joke and have no idea what it is like to practice medicine. Keep playing with your tinctures of water, pretending to be doctors. Give us a break, face reality and quit conning people.

  • Your comment speaks for itself and it is a significant clarification of your viewpoint: you don’t know what homeopathy is.

  • Some website operate with programs that depict a person. I am wondering if ‘Edzard’ is a program or a real person?

    It is uncanny how he consistently fails to provide explanations for his views, in response to questions: his default setting to ‘criticism’ is: IDIOTIC, MORONIC, ETC

    Can Admin confirm that ‘Edzard’ is the person Edzard Ernst and is not a robot. Thank you.

  • Dear Friends, First wish you Happy Homeopathy day. Homeopathy works, and is the most advanced science of Healing….Real cure can Happen only if you select a remedy using Homeopathic method . Homeopathy is not only about dilution……its the only system which cures you based on universal principle of cure….Think… You cannot break a 1 kg stone using a 500gm stone…. In homeopathy we use 10kg stone to destroy 1kg stone. Which is possible. It explains Homeopathy in short. Those who has some common sense can understand my example….i repeat HOMEOPATHY WORKS AND IS THE MOST ADVANCED SCIENCE OF HEALING….and Best wishes for ‘Just one drop ‘movie, the team has worked hard and made it for the needy public …. And its just a beginning for a new healthy world…..

  • Alan: What do you mean, it is not like Arnica? Oh I know, maybe you are implying that Arnica is for ‘Bruising’.

    Keep it up, this is so much fun.

    Alan, spare yourself more humiliation and go and do some studying before you jump into the deep end.

    • Oh, no need to worry about me: I’m having great fun here.

      • That is good to know, I enjoy reading your comments, especially on homeopathy.

        Quote

        The Nightingale Collaboration was set up with the help of Simon Singh to challenge misleading claims in healthcare advertising, to share our knowledge and experience and to encourage anyone who is concerned at protecting the public from misinformation in healthcare promotion to join us in challenging it.

        Together we can work to improve the protection of the public by getting misleading claims withdrawn and those responsible held to account.

        We will do this by challenging misleading claims made by practitioners on their websites, in adverts and in their promotional and sales materials and subjecting these to scrutiny by the appropriate regulatory bodies and striving to ensure that organisations representing healthcare practitioners have robust codes of conduct for their members that protect the public and that these are rigorously enforced.

        Unquote

        Surely, in order to do this, you need to have some idea of what you are talking about?

  • Greg

    Your comment upthread appears to say that a ‘responsible homeopath’ would refer a cancer patient for medical treatment. Is that what you meant?

    http://edzardernst.com/2017/04/homeopathy-just-one-drop-and-quite-possibly-the-last-drop/#comment-88796

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