MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

The Daily Star reported that 9 children have died in Tripura Para of Sitakunda during the last week. At least 46 other children in the remote hilly area are suffering from the same unidentified disease which has not yet been identified. The children aged between one and 12 suffer from fever and other symptoms include body rash, breathing problems, vomiting and blood in stool.

None of the fatalities was taken to a hospital, and two of them were treated homeopathically. The three-year-old Rupali had fever and a rash all over her body for three days. “We took her to a man who practices homeopathy. He lives some two kilometres away. He had given Rupali some medicines”, said her uncle. Asked why they did not take the child to a hospital, Pradip said the next health complex was 15 kilometres away from their home. Besides, they did not have money to buy medicines which would have been prescribed by doctors.

Shimal Tripura was also among the children who died. His father Biman Tripura said the two-year-old boy had been suffering from fever for six days. Shimal was also taken to a local man who practices homeopathy.

“The disease could not be identified immediately,” said a spokesperson. Asked whether the disease could be transmitted by mosquitoes, he said, “It does not seem so. If it was, then why only children were being affected?” A medical team from the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research in Dhaka was dispatched for Sitakunda, he said, adding that the local primary school was shut down to prevent the spread of the disease.

I have often pointed out that homeopathy can be deadly – not usually via its remedies (highly diluted homeopathic have no effects whatsoever) but via homeopaths who do not know what they are doing. It seems that here we have yet further tragic cases to confirm this point. Nine children were reported to have died. Two of them received homeopathic remedies and 7 seemed to have had no treatment at all. This looks like a very sad statistic indicating that homeopathy is as bad as no treatment at all.

108 Responses to Death by homeopathy?

  • More a statement regarding poverty in Bangladesh than an indictment of homeopathy. Reading between the lines, a visit to the homeopath was seen as very much a second choice because the affected families could not afford proper treatment.

  • This post is tailor-made for Iqbal. Iqbal do you copy?

    • Edzard Ernst

      you linked wrong statements

      “The disease could not be identified immediately,” said a spokesperson. Asked whether the disease could be transmitted by mosquitoes, he said, “It does not seem so. If it was, then why only children were being affected?” A medical team from the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research in Dhaka was dispatched for Sitakunda, he said, adding that the local primary school was shut down to prevent the spread of the disease.”

      And then you run a headline: Death by homeopathy.

      Try to focus on these:

      http://www.nbcnews.com/id/14958124/ns/health-childrens_health/t/how-drug-mix-up-killed-babies-happened/
      https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/05/19/heres-how-little-baby-miles-died-after-an-error-at-sick-kids-hospital-in-toronto.html
      “Around 6,000 children and young people die a year in the UK. Over two-thirds of these are aged under five, and the majority are under the age of one.”
      http://www.bbc.com/news/health-27260371
      http://www.cpr.org/news/story/colorado-mom-story-daughters-hospital-death-key-others-safety
      “A Department of Health inquiry is to reveal that up to 600 babies are dying needlessly every year due to errors made by doctors and midwives.”
      https://www.slatergordon.co.uk/media-centre/blog/2015/11/mistakes-by-doctors-are-causing-up-to-600-stillborn-baby-deaths-every-year/

      • please explain in what way the link was wrong.

        • Dr. Ernst; your assumption is that if the children had been seen by a medical practitioner that they would have lived. This is one possibility but the other possibility is they would have died even under medical care. Iqbal’s stats indicate that children do die even when they are under medical care and living in wealthy countries such as the UK. The other possibility is that the homeopath that treated the 2 children did not have the skills to do so but this does not mean that ALL homeopaths lack medical skills; many homeopaths ARE medically trained in addition to their homeopathic training.

          • “your assumption is that if the children had been seen by a medical practitioner that they would have lived”
            WHERE DID I STATE THIS?

          • Edzard

            I am very doubtful that the homeopath sitting in a remote corner would have access to all remedies. It is surely possible that he would have offered aspirin/paracetamol as a symptom reliever.

          • Greg, this is about probabilities. If you fall into the hands of somebody practicing pseudomedicne the probability that something bad happens is far higher than if you have real medical treatment. I have read case descriptions of Hahnemann himself in the original. If somebody declares a patient cured from hemorrhoids despite actually *observing* a protruding hemorrhoid then one is a terribly idiotic doctor.

      • @Iqbal

        You obviously do not understand how to find and interpret public health data. Even if the figures in the sources you quote were correct, they do not show what you think they do.

        If I give you the correct data, will you please try to explain them?

        Let us look at the facts:
        The following figures from 2015 are for deaths per 1000 births in children under five years:

        Homeopathy popular:
        Bangladesh 37.6
        India 47.7 deaths
        Pakistan 81.1 deaths

        Homeopathy much less popular:
        United Kingdom 4.2 deaths

        Homeopathy not popular at all:
        Iceland 2.0 deaths

        Now, why do you think child mortality rates are so very much higher in countries where homeopathy is very popular and extensively used, often instead of proper health care, compared to the UK where homeopathy is much less used and up to 40 times higher than in Iceland that has one of the lowest child mortality rates despite use of homeopathy being uncommon?

        Why do you think child mortality has decreased steadily in countries where medical care (“allopathic” as you may wish to call it) has been steadily improving and is now ubiquitously used instead of homeopathy?

        Why do you think Iceland has one of the lowest child/infant mortality rates in the world despite having what is considered to be one of the best “allopathic” systems worldwide. Can you explain that?

        On Gapminder.org I have prepared a graphical representation of these public health data so you can examine them for yourself. It will open if you click the link below. If you click on the little triangle (Play button) in lower left you can see how the data has changed over time:
        http://bit.ly/2usuWAR (Note that the Y-axis is logarithmic)

        Is this further proof that homeopathy use contributes to child mortality… or what?

        • Wow, you’re an incredibly wrong.

          “why do you think child mortality rates are so very much higher in countries where homeopathy is very popular and extensively used, often instead of proper health care, compared to the UK where homeopathy is much less used and up to 40 times higher than in Iceland that has one of the lowest child mortality rates despite use of homeopathy being uncommon?”

          Homeopathy in India are less popular than the allopathic hospitals. On the other hand, in UK the 4.2 detaths vs 47.7 deaths in India, Can you understand the differences in geographical extension and popoulation in the two countries?

          Please.

          • Gandahar, can YOU understand that the mortality ratesgiven are normalized to deaths per thousand births and that therefore differences in size and population do NOT influence the value ? Please ?

            Having clarified that, I do not need to present data on. It does not work this way. You claim superiority, you have to back up your claim. Given what I have seen from India in the abstracts of the last World Homeopathic Congress in Leipzig, you will not be able to do that. This was the a collection of the worst studies I have ever seen. Homeopaths and science are two colliding universes.

          • @Gandahar

            Oh dear.
            Did you not learn mathematics in school?
            See if you can find a teacher or someone with education in your village and let him or her explain this to you and help you understand. It may help to use beans or small stones to help you understand how ratios and rates work.

          • Björn Geir
            .
            “Did you not learn mathematics in school?”

            I don’t know if he studied maths in school or not but you surely did not learn to apply mathematical formula.

            Popularity( adjective) x population of India = 47.7 deaths/1000
            Less popularity (lower adjective?) x population of UK =4.2 deaths/thousand.

            I am suitably impressed. And you are a doctor! God help your patients and friends (Thomas Mohr).

          • Oh dear!
            Iqbal has proven to us once more, that her/his love for logical reasoning is not returned 😀

      • Iqbal, do you realize that your smoke screens only serve to make you look like an idiot ? You never ever presented data on the safety of homeopathy. J.W. Begbie did (despite your claims of a different strain – which are utterly wrong). The data show that with homeopathy you have the natural mortality which clearly is a lot higher than mortality under real medicine.

        • Thomas, you never ever presented data on the ALL safety and ALL effectiveness of the ALL allopathic treatments. Except in quirurgical, the real data show enough that with allopathy probably you die under modern instruments and super-skeptical-bacterial murders. Yes, you “real medicine” is in the major cases unsafe and lot of plain wrong pseudoscientific and irrepicable theories. Thank you.

        • Thomas Mohr

          “…… do you realize that your smoke screens……..”

          Millions of patients killed and maimed across the world every year by the allopathic medical system is a smoke screen for you?

          At which number does it become fire?

          • The only smoke I see is that coming from your blazing straw man, Iqbal.

            And as has been pointed out time and time again (presumably one day it might soak in) the fact that airplanes sometimes crash does not validate belief in magic carpets.

          • Lenny

            “……. one day it might soak in) the fact that airplanes sometimes crash does not validate belief……….”

            You are slightly off the mark: for USA the figure is over 16 aircrafts with 300 people each crashing every week with zero survivors.

            And this is a figure from John Hopkins.

            You should jump on a magic carpet, just to stay alive.

  • Lenny
    It is possible for it to be both.
    This man was ‘trained’ no was practising as a homeopath.
    Homeopathy is Mum o jumbo.
    There are instances where people- Indian versions of James Randi if you like- have been attacked and even murdered for travelling around the country, and appearing on TV, exposing magic scams. This is serious stuff.

    • Oh absolutely. But my point is that these unfortunate people were driven into the notional care of a worthless quack by circumstance, not choice. Even in the unlikely event of the homeopath recognising serious illness for which his nostrums would have no effect and advising the patients to see a doctor, this would not and could not have happened.

      • For me this is the point – I’ve yet to meet a homeopath (even those trained as physicians) that declared any disease not suitable for treatment with homeopathy. The argument that it was too far and too expensive might not have been the same if the homeopath correctly had stated that hoemopathy couldn’t and wouldn’t help in this situation – regardless of geography and poverty! Admittedly we will never know in this specific case – just as for every single case of homeopathy treated patients…

        • I know of one. TV presenter Caron Keating presented to her homeopath with a breast lump. He sent her straight to her doctor. He also died at no great age of a variety of ailments so his nostrums didn’t help him either.

  • Apologies that my iPad sometimes turns my jumbo into mumbo jumbo.

  • Edzard: where did you state this? In the title of the blog: ‘Death by Homeopathy’.

    • ” if the children had been seen by a medical practitioner that they would have lived”
      WHERE DID I STATE THIS?
      THE TITLE OF THE BLOG WAS NOT ‘Death by Homeopathy’ BUT ‘‘Death by Homeopathy?’
      I DON’T SUPPOSE YOU ARE SMART ENOUGH TO SEE THE DIFFERENCE?

      • Edzard

        Greg is looking at the headline EXACTLY as you expect most to infer from the slyly constructed message. 20 years of training in running down complementary medicine has honed your skill in such matters.

        DEATH BY ALLOPATHY/VACCINATION?

        “According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2015, 393 children between the ages of 1-18 years died suddenly without a clear cause of death determined. Most of these children were toddlers, aged 1-4 years; an incidence of 1.4 deaths per 100,000 toddler aged children. Research and awareness of SUDC remains limited.”

        393 deaths in USA alone. And this has been going on for years. Added up for the world and the figure would run into hundred thousand dead children between ages of 1-4 years!!

  • You have stated numerous times here, here, and here that HOMEOPATHY IS DANGEROUS, if not due to the ‘harmless’ remedies, the idiotic practitioners. Are you now saying this is not a fact but a theory of yours?

  • Thomas, if this particular story is about probability: 9 children die, 2 were seen by a homeopath – what is the PROBABILITY CALCULATION for the 2 children seen by a homeopath that died when all 9 children (the ‘sample’) died?

  • Wow.. the comments sections here appear to be a full-blown article in and of itself.

    It is very disappointing that, while someone truly honest might make an effort to write up a sensible comment and puts all his care and creativity in composing it, addressing or making or simply stating a VALID and RATIONAL comment,
    someone else can produce an apparently similar volume of commentary while putting up less (or even much less) effort (probably due to a prepared bag of tricks, readily-citable “trials” etc.), with the intention to sparkle MASSIVE disapprehension (yes, you read that right, I coin the term here and now to describe the case of engaging in ).

    I would really like to say a few things about rational thinking and mathematics, if it is so much needed or asked for.

    My preliminary conclusion from the series of comments above: Homeopathy is compared with conventional medicine, in an effort to prove that it is better (emphasis on the “alternative” side of homeopathy).

    RED-FLAG evidence for trolling: Any appeal to the “complementary” side of homeopathy. This is a perfect escape hatch folks, but as I read it above, it appears as though some people would REALLY have conventional medicine REPLACED with homeopathy whenever possible. Besides, conventional medicine kills more people than homeopathy (actual argument elaborated on some actual comment above…). From this point on, the commentary this far suggests that homeopathy is ALTERNATIVE and NOT COMPLEMENTARY. The way some people here write their comments and express their conviction and strength of beliefs is taken to mean we MUST replace conventional medicine with homeopathy as soon as possible as this will save lives (I suggest a trial of creating a small “homeopathy” town somewhere, as close as possible to a natural environment –so much for the appeal to nature–, provide ONLY seriously homeopathic care and record the overall health condition over a long time… oops.. I am already seeing the misrepresentation about, e.g., smaller incidence of cancers in the end of the, say 50-year, interval, which is, of course, attributable SOLELY to the homeopathic care. I am sorry but at THIS level of care, people won’t have enough overall life expectancy to develop cancer in significant proportions within the population… apart from that, some things just happen, really, they don’t have to be attributed to a specific intervention).

    Ok, now the rational thinking part:

    Example of a POINT: Homeopathic preparations (the strong stuff, over 12C) are usually tested against placebo and WILL usually be tested against placebo. It is so easy to supersede placebo just by mathematics and statistics and luck, that scientific magazines of ALL kinds (alternative or conventional) are full of positive trials, randomized, blinded, or whatever, not only for homeopathic remedies, but for everything. Anything can be better than placebo, even another placebo, and that is one significant thing alternative medicine has actually taught to the entirety of the scientific community BUT Mathematicians. This is the reason why there is no need to put up a scientifically reviewed magazine for comparing placebos over other placebos just for the favor of the mathematics of the process. It’s because there are so many alternative medicine studies already, that do just that. They main thing they usually prove is that placebo is occasionally better than placebo.

    Second POINT: If someone is so eager to replace conventional medicine with homeopathy, they must start bringing forward high-quality evidence (trials) of homeopathic preparations versus drugs, not placebo. When these start suggesting a better effect, this CAN make a strong point for the overturn. Throwing around dice and keeping only the convenient results is not something that conventional medicine needs. They can do it too, and whether they do it more, or less, really makes LITTLE difference. Both sides can cry “wolf”, you see.

    Third POINT: I assume homeopathic preparations are used to treat only self-limiting conditions. I have never seen any real condition being treated with homeopathy. That is, of course, not on fairly-documented papers. The occasional blog (there are LOTS) can always be found with testimonials just about anything. Lactose intolerance, for example, is incurable and intreatable by homeopathy. If anyone thinks it can be treated with homeopathy, it would be interesting to know how. But… let me move the goalposts a bit. Pellets are typically lactose, so you ingest lactose, but usually, it does not affect you, so, by definition, you don’t have lactose intolerance. So much for a shallow argument.

    Fourth POINT: What do I mean by the third point? I mean that most conditions homeopathy attempts to treat are variable by nature (the only fair use of the word nature in SUCH a context). Actual conditions that have an underlying cause (a true mechanism) are not affected by homeopathic interventions. This is a fact by personal assertion at this point. So, this leaves a couple of options to people supporting homeopathy. Deal with the fact, or keep misrepresenting. A great illustration can be made at this point through links. Let’s see how.

    One option stems from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16392436 and is greatly summarized in the available abstract: “Pumpan in a dosage of 3 x 10 drops daily over 6 weeks does not differ in its effect on systolic and diastolic blood pressure significantly from placebo”. I don’t know what Pumpan is, so you can move the goalposts freely, but it appears to be truly homeopathic. So the 1st option is to deal with the fact! Homeopathic preparations cannot affect systematic hypertension, a true condition with an underlying mechanism.

    Second option: Keep misrepresenting. Really, I don’t care to cherry-pick, i type Pumpan in Google and a Russian article comes up: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11763522. The extremely interesting methodology is that “35 patients with different forms of IHD (ischemic heart disease) … received conventional treatment combined with pumpan given for 7-11 weeks”. And the result was that “the addition of pumpan to the standard therapy reduced frequency of anginal attacks, improved intracardiac hemodynamics, psychic and adaptive indices”. A positive result, so I see. It appears that they just added pumpan to conventional treatment, and they witnessed the improvements? Owing, of course, only to pumpan. And conventional treatment was just for the ethics of it. Who knows, I cannot read Russian anyway.

    Ooops. I looked into Pumpan (http://en.medico-online.com/ovr6_pumpan.html) and it appears they use D1, D6, D12. This involves active ingredients, not homeopathy. So, now homeopathy works just by calling it that? How much more misrepresentation?

    Third option (bonus): When nothing relevant happens but science begs for results, just pick random events.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24199982 shows just that (this came up when I typed cholesterol and homeopathy in Google… first result, no cherry-picking here either). Just by the abstract, things are clear. “Assessments were made at baseline and after 90 days of treatments”. What is this joyous utilization of so HUGE time intervals? 90 days allows for just about ANYTHING to happen. So something WILL happen. Once again, groups received conventional treatment, and conventional+homeopathic. The all-time-classic escape hatch of not using placebo when standard treatment is available because it is unethical is a problem, isn’t it? So, one of the main results is that some blood lipid profile was improved when homeopathy was combined. 90 days.. still, this could be random. Chronic periodontitis calls for better oral hygiene, which calls for less sugar and other dietary improvements. There is serious confounding. Let me see, I opened the article full text (sadly for some, coincidentally, I do have access). Let’s see, HDL sounds important:

    With Homeotherapy: HDL Before: 49.30 +/- 10.11 HDL After: 52.57 +/- 7.22 p = 0.073
    Just Conventional: HDL Before: 52.18 +/- 13.75 HDL After: 51.29 +/- 8.99 p = 0.663

    Ok, confident results. Great! Let’s talk statistics now. These are NOT significant alterations, these are mathematical artifacts. The standard deviations themselves are almost ten times larger than the difference between endpoint averages between methods. Some other paramers, such as total cholesterol and LDL or triglycerides are slightly more significantly lowered, but they were so in both interventions, only slightly more in the combined one. This could mean just about anything anyone would want to make of it. But the main question is, why make a trial on “chronic periodontitis” and focus on blood lipid profile? Just pick something at random that appears to improve in such a time-frame that it could be due to just about anything? We would expect to see such behavior only in conventional medicine trials, right?

    Ok, so much for rational thinking. Now on to some mathematics.

    Let’s look at the facts, really:

    ##START OF MATHEMATICS

    – 1.4 deaths per 100.000 toddlers is a lot? This is stated as a LARGE incidence?
    >823.7 per 100.000 people died in the USA, regardless of cause, in 2014 (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm).
    One would expect this more dramatic number to be shown up. It would make a point. 1.4 / 100.000 is just too low to make ANY point (and is kept low thanks to conventional medicine).

    In any case, this only clarifies the understanding of the term “mortality” by people supporting homeopathy —>
    Specific Mortality: The rate of deaths caused by allopathy per 100.000 people by a specific cause. So, when people die when treated with allopathy, death is attributed to allopathy. When people die without allopathy, death is attributed to allopathy. When people stay alive, this is never attributed to allopathy. So much for common sense!

    – 9 children died, 2 children attended a homeopath.
    >The probability that someone will die by anything is simply irrelevant to any discussion. Probabilities and statistics regarding death are created, usually, after death(s) has(have) occurred. The true question is, if the energy failed to be restored in the two children that visited the homeopath, it must be that he was not well-trained to prescribe better, right? With all due respect, Mr. Ernst, I would suggest a better title for your article, to stand up to homeopathic standards: “Unfortunate turn of events costs homeopathy big chance to prove its effectiveness”.

    I noticed people turn on when probabilities are laid on the table, they have a thing for it. Okay, let’s give probabilities to the people: 2 children DID attend a homeopathic practitioner out of 9. They died too. What chances was homeopathy given to save a life? 2/9 = 22.22%. What can we make out of it? But, of course, a truly unrandomized, unblinded trial (one of the favourite kinds of homeopathic studies):

    ACUTE EFFECTS OF HOMEOPATHIC INTERVENTION ON THE TREATMENT OF UNKNOWN DISEASE IN CHILDREN.
    One out of five (20%) patients was specifically allocated to a homeopathic prescription (H) based on symptoms and 4 out of five patients were left untreated, serving as a control group (G). Patients were chosen based solely on symptoms, representing an unknown disease, in order to minimize bias. In total, 7 people were left untreated and 2 were given suitable homeopathic treatment. Both group sizes had to be kept low because of the dangers involved in treating an unknown disease, and for purely ethical reasons. The disease was left to take a full course until resolution or death. The study lasted 7 days, at the end of which all patients were exhaustively examined for symptoms. Vital signs in G and H groups were not significantly different. No difference in any clinically important biological parameter was observed at the end of the trial. No acute resolution effects were observed in the H group or the G group. Patients of group G died by the end of the 7-day period, which was taken as indication of a non-self-limiting and non-self-resolving disease. Patients of group H also died by the end of the 7-day period. The results of the present trial suggest that commonly practiced homeopathy, as observed under real-life conditions and against an actually life-threatening non-self-limiting disease, does not increase survival rate in children when compared to lack of intervention.

    In other words, homeopathy might be effective when used for:
    -…a very long time (so that nothing will be relevant anymore in the end points).
    -…anything that resolves itself anyway.
    -…a large number of times (so some positive cases will come out anyway).

    There is also something else that might be effective when used in the above manners. Allopathists have a special term for that, it is called “placebo”, a latin verb in fact. A true coincidence is the apparent correlation between lack of a biological effect, and the tendency to employ pure Latin naming conventions (short for, when it doesn’t work, we call it in latin). And what is with that “allopathy” word. That’s Greek. Where is the latin counterpart?

    I believe THIS was what Mr. Ernst was too respectful to formulate, with respect (literally!) to the event, thus distilling it in the end-line of his article. After such a line of comments, I really cannot help but present the full statement. I apologize if it is inconvenient to anyone, but this is what Probabilities offer. If homeopathy supporters don’t like Mathematics or Probabilities, a wise mathematical suggestion would be to stick with… Latin (though calling things by latin names has never been proven to increase their effectiveness for anything).

    ##END OF MATHEMATICS

    With all due respect, primarily for Mr. Ernst.
    My apologies for the lengthy comment.

  • James, it remains to be seen what the level of intensity of debate will be on this site regarding homeopathy now that the NHS is in the process of delisting it from NHS provision.

    In regard to your comment, the main element that is absent from the story of the deaths of the 9 children, is what happened to the other children that had the illness? If any of them were saved by medical treatment then this would clearly show a difference in outcomes in comparison to homeopathic treatment, as two homeopaths were not able to produce a result to save a child.

    Clearly, there was no homeopathic placebo effect elicited in these cases and this is evidence towards the limitations of placebo effect in serious physical illnesses.

    Now, to read the next blog I find out Edzard’s take on the latest in the NHS ejection of homeopathy.

    The main conclusion: this story does not prove anything.

    • who said it poves anything?
      anecdotes merely can provide clues, never proof.

    • Definitely, the story proves nothing in and of itself, but, as correctly stated, it provides some hints.

      To put things straight, most people opposing homeopathy (I am referring to valid skeptics with a fair background in relevant disciplines and scientific fields) do not have THAT MUCH of a problem with it being practiced at all. They do not really attack homeopathy per se. Their problem is that homeopathy is an extremely intricate and profoundly decorated cover story for the placebo effect. If homeopathy supporters would accept this in the face of true honesty, clearly stating (to their honor and, potentially, in some moment of majestic inspiration) that…the more complicated the story, the higher the probability to achieve a placebo effect, it would be the end of the debate and the beginning of a more productive debate as to how it can be introduced into the NHS as a different modality with honest statements. Interventions of conventional medicine, e.g. drugs, do have documented and publicly stated and accepted effects on the body, albeit occasionally not completely clarified (e.g. blocking receptors, signalling, modifying biochemical pathways, etc.). Homeopathy interventions (the true stuff, over 12C) have nothing but a claim that they are safe (??) and somehow (??) modify restorative mechanisms (??) of the body to recover health, mostly using well documented poisons or random stuff (such as Mary English’s shipwreck remedy – http://www.maryenglish.com/helvetiaproving.html). Of course if you would tell someone THAT thing, they would think you are going to put their body at risk or are BSing them, hence the huge cover story. As far as homeopathy is concerned, prayer and meditation also have a substantial body of (preliminary) evidence for better medical outcomes and they have (especially prayer) equally, or even more complicated, cover stories (e.g. religions). The true scientific question is, to what extend can the placebo effect be maximized? The true scientific problem is when such placebo cover stories commence attempts to build theoretical backgrounds and formulations of putative “mechanisms”, thus leading, to a vicious circle of unscientific (misscientific actually) practice, as stated below.

      Misconduct in trials, misrepresenting evidence, abusing formalisms (as is the case for some quantum entanglements between practitioner, patient and remedy that I have caught glimpses of in some papers here and there, and which are very childish for a physicist to read, to say the least) and all forms of intentionally fallacious science-making leads to two big problems. Some scientists will really start believing there MIGHT be something true behind the story and some people people will start believing they CAN really profit from it without caring about reality. Both problems will only keep feeding the ad libitum continuation of fallacious science-making.

      Homeopathy trials, especially what is published in alternative/complementary medicine magazines, are a truly fantastic manifestation of apophenia, it is really an endemic. It appears as desperate attempts to create evidence in favor of homeopathy. Of course placebo usually cannot affect serious physical illness. It is a matter of (valid) mechanisms. For example, when someone has a normal MCM6 gene, lactase production shuts down after infancy, and you get severe lactose intolerance as an adult. No placebo effect can alter the MCM6 gene. There is no SUCH self-regulatory mechanism that we can alter at will. Antibiotics usually shut down replication enzymes of bacteria to slow down their development. No placebo effect can do that either. At least not through some known mechanism. It is valid to dismiss these possibilities, then, as probably impossible, unless we can produce some “extraordinary evidence” to the contrary. Placebo effect (including homeopathy) might give confidence and joy, restore hormonal imbalances, potentially improve nutritional intake (due to better mood) and enhance the immune system to achieve a better outcome of, say, upper respiratory tract infections. It is a matter of valid mechanism understanding. Someone with a proper understanding of mechanisms and the science behind them would pretty much put the statements “homeopathy works” and “vitamin C cures the common cold” (or any other random popular notion) in the same basket. As blatant misunderstandings of true science and mechanisms.

      The latest NHS article of Mr. Ernst has not yet come to my attention. Better move on to that. As for the proper conclusion, it is that if any of the two children using homeopathy had been saved, what is now just an irrelevant coincidence (that they were homeopathically treated, i.e. left untreated), would be a flood of triumphant exclamations from people supporting homeopathy. Whereas it would still just be an irrelevant coincidence.

      • James, you ARE certainly a person that KNOWS what you are writing about, and thank you for this contribution to the discussion. (It is difficult to have a discussion with commenters when their main aim is condescension and mockery, and this happens from time to time on this site).

        James, I believe that the true domain for homeopathy is: Psychosomatic medicine. Homeopathy will accept this is one domain but most of its followers insist that it also belongs in the clinical domain of medicine: the treatment of physical illness (physical pathologies).

        The main point that will not be agreed by homeopathy is that it is purely placebo medicine (no precise medicinal effect). If homeopathic remedies above 12C are pure placebos then it makes no difference if Aconitum Napellus or Belladonna Planta Tota is administered in a particular case but to a homeopath it makes a huge difference because they are distinctly different remedies.

        How can this be known: toxicology and provings provide distinctive symptoms and characteristics of each remedy.

        How can YOU know it? DO A PROVING.

        Be well.

        • Giggle… 😀

          Well, you just earned yourself a heaping helping of condescension and mockery for this latest blunder dear Greg.
          But don’t worry, I am not going to deliver it – I don’t need to.
          You usually do a good job of mocking yourself and this time you exceeded everyone’s expectations.

          • The Clown at the top of the table is back: Bjorn Geir Leifsson, where have you been?

            You don’t have a clue about homeopathy, and reading your comments is enough to restore mirth to any homeopath’s day

  • The question is: Did Dr. Leifsson detect a scent that he thought he could exploit?
    (It is difficult to have a discussion with commenters when their main aim is condescension and mockery, and this happens from time to time on this site).

    • but mocking others by yourself – like when you give mock titles – is of course perfectly alright!

    • Did Dr. Leifsson detect a scent…?

      Not just a scent dear Greg, it was a big smelly fart! 😀
      And we are still laughing at your embarassing blunder.
      As I’ve said before, homeopaths often prove the hardest critics of their own conviction.

      • The problem with Bjorn is that he hardly ever explains his point, just makes strange comments as he seeks out those that he thinks he can ridicule.

        For once, explain what you mean: what is the ’embarrassing blunder’?

        Homeopaths recognise snakes, spiders, insects, etc. together with minerals, plants etc in the remedy ‘pictures’ and I think yours is associated with ‘scent’.

        Your record of discussions with Mr D.Ullman, Dr Mathie and Mr Benneth speaks for itself.

  • I is acceptable to defend against attack: Dumbo, Mickey Mouse, and Clown are cases in point.

  • Mr D.Ullman, Dr Mathie and Mr Benneth may find Dr Leifsson difficult to have a discussion with but ‘Greggy’ can deal with it.

  • Well, in response to the latest relevant comment, I am compelled to note that homeopathy cannot be ascribed to some medical domain. A major problem with homeopathy, with respect to conventional medical practice, is that it was literally “composed” ex nihilo, based on misinterpreted (biased) observations, founded on a catchy pretense (like cures like) and decorated with endless historical and scientifical mismatches. Hippocrates has been called the father of medicine NOT because he was a medical expert, but because he struggled to establish medicine as a distinct profession. By ANY means, most of his knowledge has been superseded, as one would expect after so many years, and even more so, he knew TOO little if compared to a modern doctor. Even if he believed in anything like the like-cures-like principle, this was bound to be based much more on superstition, than knowledge. The appeal to Hippocrates is a weak argument of homeopathy supporters, including Hahnemann.

    Homeopathy is a super-duper farfetched claim by itself. The world is extremely complicated in terms of natural processes and mechanisms. Mathematics and physics are super-strict about this observation and this is why there are so many subfields of those… I mean, much more than LOTS. Now, from a strictly physicomathematical viewpoint, attempting to formulate a “like cures like” theory is the SECOND step of the scientific process, actually. The FIRST step is the separation of the observable world into 2 possible categories in that relevant respect: like-cures-like and anything else. Formulating a “like cures like” theory is, hence, necessarily dividing the worldview into these two possible theoretical manifestations. Then, proving this theory holds is equivalent to denying the other side of the argument (“anything else”). In and of itself, any attempt to <> the ONE GRAND TRUTH is an extremely farfetched claim in a world that is described by hundreds of different subfields of mathematics and physics. In Physics, attempts are being made to unify three of the four fundamental interactions of nature (strong/weak nuclear, electromagnetism) in high energies, and it is HARD as hell. There is no reliable evidence so far that such a GUT (Grand Unified Theory) can hold at high energies. Including gravity in the interactions would provide a so-called Theory of Everything. This is real stuff and SERIOUS business in the field of Physics. And it is slowly beginning to be accepted that such wonderful frameworks are, in all likelihood, impossible to formulate in Physics as there is accumulating evidence to that direction. A “like cures like” principle would, thus, have to be equivalent to the Theory of Everything, since it would render all other models foundationally obsolete and provide a unique way of how our world works. It is extravagantly farfetched and this is, of course, why all this patchwork of “putative mechanisms explaining homeopathy” never seems to work out. This is wishful thinking…the viral type.

    To render homeopathy valid within any domain is then irrelevant, all the more so for medical domains. Hahnemann never really had a thing for isopathy as far as I can remember, but it is also common practice nowadays to use nosodes for preparations and, so, isopathy has been seamlessly integrated into homeopathy too. Modern homeopathy is really a patchwork of unsubstantiated theories. It is one thing to imagine something, but it is a totally different thing to substantiate the claim. However, the deep belief of some homeopathy supporters, at an almost religious level, pushes them to ascribe more and more supernatural properties to it. It is because of this avalanche-like effect that homeopathy supporters begin to seek integration within more and more domains. And… next thing you know, they will sabotage the domains to overtake them.

    There is only one clean-cut difference between practitioners/believers of homeopathy and the rest of the people. Homeopathy practitioners/supporters are the only ones that truly believe all those intricacies of their practice. As a result, administering whatever a homeopath thinks matches the symptom cascade is completely irrelevant to the “rest of the people”. The remedies appear to be pure placebos, especially over 12C, and a good type of study, which also seems to be lacking in the alternative literature, would be to prescribe different remedies for the same condition, of which one will secretly be the “correct”, and observe whether it makes any difference to the end result (spoiler: it wouldn’t). This brings us to a great point, though, which can be illustrated once again using Mathematics and Statistics. If randomized, double-blind trials can be carried out in the above setting, providing random remedies (preferrably over 12C) and the correct remedy in only one subgroup, and observe outcomes, then we would have to expect something along the following lines:

    -Make and register 100 such trials. This should not be hard, there are thousands of remedies to choose from at random. It will take some time, but, after a quick look, alternative magazines have so many publications that I am convinced it wouldn’t be so tough on the resources.
    -End up with more than 5-10 trials where the “specific” remedy has succeeded in producing statistically significant results at a 0.05 level of statistical significance (95% confidence level).
    -Make full reference of the trials where the result is the same, whatever the remedy. We don’t want negatives hidden in the drawers.

    If this process could produce as little as 20-25 such positive trials, this would be a case to start “thinking about it”. If this could make 40-50 positive trials, scientists from ALL fields would really feel compelled to look into it. Normally, if there is any significance into all the fancy prescription process and examination and the specific remedies, we should expect to see around 90-95 positives out of 100 trials. Of course, all this procedure is never going to happen because of vested interests. I don’t really know if any homeopathy supporter is honestly willing to reshape his opinion about homeopathy, but there are many people, including scientists, that would have it the adulterated way.

    Toxicology and provings do provide symptoms but NOT for the homeopathic remedies… for the original ingredients, the mother tinctures, so to speak. Not to mention that the process of an intentional “proving” is irreversibly unethical (imagine proving the botulinum toxin…). If Aconitum Napellus or Belladonna Planta Tota produce different symptoms in a proving and this makes a huge difference to a homeopath for these “remedies”, this is totally irrelevant to the 12C diluted solutions.

    I have no trouble accepting the fact that all different mother tinctures may cause varying symptoms, but the homeopathic preparations, especially over 12C, do not cause any symptoms. Prescribing a 12C or higher dilution homeopathic preparation, while simultaneously citing the provings of mother tinctures, is misleading. The diluted preparations are what they should do provings for. I believe this would show up in a trial, let me check it out at the spur of the moment (I open google and type: “proving of homeopathic preparation pubmed”). First result: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1884394/. The title of the study provides instant insight…the extreme type (no symptoms). Too bad…”proving” may have even been connected in SOME way with the word “prove” after all. But it doesn’t.

    So, the point is reformulated, in case it wasn’t clear. Homeopathic preparations over 12C (i believe even a bit lower) do not cause symptoms (because they have no action). Mother tinctures on the other hand can and do cause symptoms. About the proving process? Well, this is a marvellous intermediate concoction, in order to ensure patients that they are being treated for “specific symptoms”, rather than given something random at all with nothing special inside, to make them expect that they will get better. This is textbook placebo behavior. Do they get better in the end? Well… Mr. Placebo says: “sometimes”.

    • James, like cures like is the second principle; the first is that medicinal substances produce symptoms in human beings (conventional medicine refers to unwanted symptoms as ‘side effects’, now isn’t THAT funny).

      It is true that the principle of like cures like can only be true in relation to remedies that are 12C and above if it is shown that 12C and above remedies produce symptoms. Science could settle this issue by doing such a trial of 12C and higher remedies.

      As for the effect of homeopathy, this is a separate issue: how to explain the positive effects that millions of users have experienced from remedies. The sceptics claim is that it is placebo, and homeopaths claim it is medicine.

      After all the discussion, this is where it is at.

      • “how to explain the positive effects that millions of users have experienced from remedies over a 200 year period. The sceptics claim is placebo…”
        NO, THEY DON’T
        they demonstrate that it is the combined result of:
        placebo,
        extra care,
        regression towards the mean,
        natural history,
        social desirability,
        etc., etc.

        • Yes Edzard, but the central claim of sceptics is that the homeopathic remedies contribute NOTHING to the process of sick people getting better. The efficacy of conventional medicine is also impacted by quality of care, regression to the mean, natural history, advertising benefits etc but it is asserted that medicines are to some degree involved in making sick people better.

          • “The efficacy of conventional medicine is also impacted by quality of care, regression to the mean, natural history, advertising benefits etc but it is asserted that medicines are to some degree involved in making sick people better.”
            NO, THE PERCEIVED EFFECTIVENESS [NOT EFFICACY] CAN BE AFFECTED BY THESE PHENOMENA!
            that is why we need rigorous clinical trials to test treatments; homeopathy has failed those tests indicating that its perceived effectiveness is not due to the remedies.

  • Edzard: The James Randi Educational Foundation is listed in the sidebar so you may have some inside knowledge on this question: Apart from realising that he would have to pay Professor Vithoulkas one million dollars for proving homeopathy, what other reason (s) did Mr Randi give for withdrawing from the contract with Professor Vithoulkas?

    It is well-known that George went through a lot of work to get this experiment arranged, do you think James was just doing one of his tricks on George?

  • Good grief. This isn’t difficult.: George Vithoulkas Homeopathy Challenge – Starting Anew. Vithoulkas never bothered to even fill the application form in.

    See also: George Vithoulkas Makes a Fool of Himself

  • Good grief Alan, you have confirmed only one side of the story. Did you check George’s side of the story. No, of course not.
    As always, you guys are so much fun.

  • The Science and Technology Committee Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy (2010) stated
    ‘We have set out the issue of efficacy and effectiveness at some length to illustrate that a non-efficacious medicine might, in some situations, be effective (patients feel better) because of the placebo effect. That is why we put more weight on evidence of efficacy than of effectiveness.’

    Even this report does not dispute the fact that patients on homeopathic treatment get better; is efficacy’ a way of saying that because science can’t explain how homeopathy works, it can’t admit that it is due to the remedies that this happens?

      • Edzard

        Effectiveness is what matters to the patient and practitioner: that the patient gets better. If homeopathy did not work, people would not pay for it. The factors that you listed in relation to impacting on the effectiveness of treatment applies to most domains of medicine:
        ‘placebo,
        extra care,
        regression towards the mean,
        natural history,
        social desirability,
        etc., etc.’

        If these factors apply to conventional and alt.med treatments, then is their relevance less in determining which treatments are most effective?

        • no,
          any nonsense can seem effective.
          in the best interest of patients and progress, we need rigorous trials to determine the efficacy of treatments.
          homeopathic remedies fail such trials.

          • Edzard: ‘Homeopathic remedies fail such trials’. This statement indicates a scientific perspective that is not sceptical of its own view.

            These studies on homeopathy are less less rigid in their conclusions:

            Clinical trials of homeopathy (BMJ 1991) Kleijnen J, Knipsschild P, ter Reit G
            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1825800

            ‘In 14 trials some form of classical homoeopathy was tested and in 58 trials the same single homoeopathic treatment was given to patients with comparable conventional diagnosis. Combinations of several homoeopathic treatments were tested in 26 trials; isopathy was tested in nine trials. Most trials seemed to be of very low quality, but there were many exceptions. The results showed a positive trend regardless of the quality of the trial or the variety of homeopathy used.’

            Evidence of clinical efficacy of homeopathy (Eur J Clin Pharmacol, 2000)
            Cucherat , Haugh MC, Boissel JP
            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10853874

            This meta analysis included 118 trial trials and concluded: ‘There is some evidence that homeopathic treatments are more effective than placebo’

            Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? (Lancet 1998)
            Linde K, Clausius N, Ramirez G, Melchart D, Eitel F, Hedges LV, Jonas WB
            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9310601

            This meta analysis included 89 studies and concluded: ‘The results of our meta-analysis are not compatible with the hypothesis that the clinical effects of homeopathy are completely due to placebo.’

            Randomised controlled trials of individualized homeopathy: state-of-the-art-review (J Altern Complement Med, 1998), Linde K, Melchart D
            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9884175

            This meta analysis included 32 trials and concluded: ‘The methodological quality of the trials was highly variable. In the 19 placebo-controlled trials providing sufficient data for meta-analysis, individualized homeopathy was significantly more effective than placebo (pooled rate ratio 1.62, 95% confidence interval 1.17 to 2.23), but when the analysis was restricted to the methodologically best trials no significant effect was seen.’

    • Science can and has explained why some of those patients feel and indeed get better, Greg. Repeatedly. Regression to the mean and the placebo effect. It has also explained why many more see no improvement or get worse. Because shaken water on sugar pills is a therapy of no use.

  • Medicinal substances produce symptoms in human beings. So far so good, except for the word “medicinal”. This masquerades the sentence as though it belongs to the medical domain. Nope, it’s just “substances produce symptoms in human beings”. Let’s put some things straight at this point. It was soon observed that homeopathy was doomed because it was so extremely highly implausible (unless the “wishful thinking” part). So, some excellent escape hatches were produced.

    First of all, has anyone using homeopathy ever considered what it the use of such an extensive examination, with questions just about everything? They achieve two things that way: First of all, it intensifies the placebo effect, it makes one feel cared for (although if it was me, I would honestly ask him whether he was actually some undercover intelligence agent), and secondly, it helps separate the symptom-profile. Do you know how many symptoms exist for human beings that are medically relevant? Well, only so many. And most of the substances used for homeopathic preparations have a great tendency to produce most of them. Dizziness? Weakness? Vomit? Those are almost “GENERIC” symptoms, they fit in at least 10 conditions I can think of right now (although the number is closer to… well, MOST conditions). But no, because the available plants and stuff became more and more (everybody wanted to be original in the “new trend”, so they looked for everything they could), the symptoms became exceedingly similar. Of course one cannot justify a different remedy for the same 10-20 symptoms, so the proving procedures started recording hundreds of symptoms. When hundreds of specific symptoms are available, it is much more likely to ascribe a unique profile to a single remedy.

    So, provings were carried out (God knows if they were actually carried out) and symptoms were recorded until a unique symptom would come up (after the first hundreds of remedies, this can take a lot of time but it WILL happen, because if you ask a patient in an inquisitional manner, they are going to make something up in the end). Anyone rational enough to understand this was simply an unjustifiably faithful adherence to some wishful belief, dropped it. But there were also people that carried the process out to the end. And there you are, we have thousands of remedies, and of course, thousands of symptoms. Now, because mathematics turns people on at times, let’s talk a tad combination (mathematics):

    Medically speaking, there are dozens of symptoms. But I have a feeling most of today’s medical symptoms were irrelevant “back then” in Hahnemann’s time. People presented with headaches, pain, itches and potentially vomitting etc. I don’t think some substance in those proving processes would produce an inverted nipple, nor do I think they ought to include difficulty concentrating. Many symptoms come together because of the mechanisms involved in most substances in plants. Usually, similar mechanisms of the body are inhibited, hence lots of symptoms go hand-in-hand. Dizziness and vomiting, or abdominal cramps/pain and diarrhea usually appear together. So, accounting for some unified symptom groups, one will eventually be left with not more than 4-5 symptom subgroups that are “relatively irrelevant” to each other and manifestation of one subgroup MAY not entail or be correlated to another subgroup (still, I may not have done the analysis perfectly, so this might be even less). I will assume 5 for the sake of illustration.

    Do you know how many unique combinations of 5 items there are? By representing in binary (0 and 1 values, 0 means doesn’t manifest, and 1 means symptom group does manifest), all different combinations are, at MOST, 2^5 = 32! This means there are 32 unique presentations of 5 different symptom groups, pairing everything together. More than 32 remedies would simply have OVERLAPPING symptom subgroups.

    Now, homeopathy practitioners were not very fond of mathematics back then, but they soon realized, that if even one extra symptom could be “created”, they would be able to justify much more remedies (actually, double the previous number, 2^6 = 64 you see). So, it was a game of imagining symptoms that would (wishful thinking) be relevant to the whole condition. And, as time went by, now they ask you about what you dream of, recurrent dreams, and next thing was cognitive homeopathy, where a character is connected to the element (that is after the conditions became unmanageable in terms of symptom-cascade sizes, they invented complex homeopathic preparations to account for multiple things at once) and who knows what will come next… This is why someone rational would really feel this is major trickery. But this also makes someone ask themselves, why spend so much time studying medicine, since they can simply trick people into believing they are healed by being asked what dreams they have been seeing… Quite a good question. Let’s drop medicine and just diagnose based on dreams.

    Science has done trials on 12C and higher remedies and they cause nothing. In case it was missed, I repost here the trial of my earlier post: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1884394/ which is titled:
    “Ultramolecular homeopathy has no observable clinical effects…”. Instant insight, right?

    Now the rational thing to do is take one of the two following “alternative” logical pathways:
    1) “Wow, I was kinda hoping it would have observable clinical effects. They have been lying to me all along with their provings and stuff.”
    2) “Damn, this one didn’t succeed. We have to perform 19 more to get one positive. Why did they publish it anyway?”.
    I guess there is no need to categorize which kind of people will think the first, and which will think the second.

    The positive effects that millions of users of homeopathy have experienced from remedies are very easy to explain. You know what I do whenever I get the flu? I drink plenty of water, juice, eat well and, much to the chagrin of homeopathy, I get better. Sometimes in 2 days, sometimes in 4 days. There have been documented cases that I got well after only 1 day. Some of those times that I got better in <2 days, I also had an ice cream, which I eat every now and then, whenever I feel like it. Is it really necessary for me to go on and start building blocks of theory about how ice cream helps with the flu (and of course, how could it not, since overconsumption of it, especially cold, produces similar symptoms)? Nope, because it is completely coincidental! Do you know what else is coincidental? The rain after someone washes their car. Do you know why it does not appear to be coincidental? Because they forget all the times they DIDN'T wash their car and it rained, or the times when they DID wash their car but it DIDN'T rain (taken together, they sum up to thousands over the course of a lifetime). They also ignore the fact that they usually wash their cars 1-2 times per week, which is often enough to intertwine with lots of the times it rains. Still, it is coincidental.

    Homeopathy appears to work in just the same way as washing a car appears to provoke a rain episode………. every now and then, that is! And in case the point wasn't clear enough, it is coincidental. And many people, such as Vithoulkas, make big money from such coincidences.

    • James, would you mind explaining the different actions of two plants commonly used in homeopathy: Aconitum Napellus and Belladonna Planta Tota in terms of your mathematical theory and assertion that
      ‘Many symptoms come together because of the mechanisms involved in most substances in plants.’

      Are you suggesting that Aconite and Belladonna poisoning produce the same symptoms?

      BTW: the Belladonna proving that you cite is a poor trial, but I will let you and Edzard to work out why it is so.

      • No no, by all means, please, I would really like to know why it is a poor trial. I believe Edzard would like to know as well.

        Aconite and Belladonna poisoning have specific symptoms, of which some are bound to overlap. It is not very relevant to talk in terms of the plants, as, in 2017, we know the substances they contain that are primarily responsible for the effects (among others, aconitine for Aconite and atropine for Belladonna). The mechanisms behind these are as clear as it gets.

        Aconitine binds on voltage-dependent sodium channels and keeps them open for longer. Whichever other substance does the same thing is going to produce similar symptoms to those of Aconite (when in similar amounts). No vis vitalis involved.

        Atropine is even more well-documented. It is an antagonist of muscarinic Ach receptors, so, in part, it obstructs the function of the parasympathetic nervous system. This is also clear. All muscarinic acetylcholine receptor antagonists are going to produce similar symptoms with Belladonna, whether found on plants or administered anyhow (in relevant amounts always).

        Now, the smart thing to do is to analyze the active substances and try to detect reactions at the molecular level, to find out how they can be countered by other substances, not to start weaving theories about how like cures like and imagine mechanisms that involve “internal energy of the body”.

        I checked out some more trials, which also show no significance in proving. E.g.:
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10325874/
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3652761/

        I also found one in a complementary medicine magazine:
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18787330 — This is one TRULY bad study from what I see..
        -First of all, out of 15 (small sample size to begin with) participants, 11 received verum and 4 received placebo. No definitive results can come out of such a sample and SUCH a randomization, just tentative, AT BEST.
        -“A total of 682 symptoms were observed in both groups”. Jesus Christ, what counts as a symptom nowadays? Are symptoms popcorn chunks jumping out of a boiler? Where on EARTH did they manage to get 682 of them.

        I also looked INSIDE the paper… of course they don’t list all 682 symptoms.
        -Patients taking placebo felt “rhagades in the corners of mouth” (among other inconsistencies).
        -Patients taking the Galphimia glauca (12C) felt “As if legs were too far away” (among other absurdities).
        -Patients in both groups had (among others) “dreams of floating in the air”…
        When such symptoms are scientifically taken into account, the whole picture starts smelling “homeopathy”.

        I occasionally dream of floating in the air for multiple nights in a row, it is an incredibly common dream in hypnic myoclonic jerk occasions. So, if they took the homeopathic remedy, this stopped being a coincidence, and it suddenly began being attributed to the remedy… right!

        ANYWAY… according to the authors:
        “The statistical analysis showed more ICCH proving symptoms for placebo (mean 72.3 +/- SD 37.3) than for Galphimia (35 +/- 24.2), but the group difference was not significant (95% confidence interval, -78 to 1, p = 0.097)”.

        Cool… so there was no significant difference. But they didn’t stop there. They HAD to create something positive.. so they state in the discussion:
        “Although statistical analysis showed no significant group differences, we observed specific symptoms under Galphimia glauca that correspond to those seen in clinical studies of phytotherapeutic preparations, including relaxing, sedative, anxiolytic, and anti-allergic effects.”
        So, interpreting the dreams and whatever they extracted from the subjects, they “observed” a (coincidental) match of symptoms. Great science (rather apophenia).

        And they don’t stop there, however. I am compelled to quote a piece of the conclusion of the authors:

        “Our quantitative statistical analysis, which was based on the number of ICCH proving symptoms, showed no significant group differences between verum and placebo. At the same time, our qualitative analysis showed that Galphimia glauca had specific effects compared to placebo. We thus conclude that the ICCH criteria for proving symptoms were not suited to distinguish between specific and unspecific proving symptoms”.

        Now, when the result was UNFAVORABLE, the conclusion was made that the ICCH criteria for proving symptoms were unsuitable to distinguish… because they KNOW from COUNTLESS ANECDOTES, that there ARE specific symptoms caused by 12C dilutions of …whatever. Mathematics, statistics, proceedings of a medical conference, those are all incorrect and unscientific. The only correct thing is homeopathy!

        And it seems that at the ICCH, they did not account for the HUNDREDS to THOUSANDS of symptoms homeopathy takes into account (notwithstanding the fact that they are usually medically irrelevant).

        Which scientific board is going to account for this kind of misrepresentation? None.

        So, this is a bad representation of almost correct results produced by a bad methodology of a badly set up study and some important reasons why this is SO, are here, stated clearly and concisely. This leaves us back to where we started: …by all means, please, I would really like to know why the Belladonna trial is a poor trial… and I believe Edzard would like to know as well.

        • You did not answer the question:
          ‘Many symptoms come together because of the mechanisms involved in most substances in plants.’ Homeopaths can tell Aconite and Belladonna apart.

          I have mentioned this to others in earlier posts that if you would like to learn about homeopathy, enrol on a course of study.

          Edzard can’t work out why his study of individualised homeopathic treatment of asthma is not good, and is unlikely to work out why the Belladonna proving is not good.

          If you and Edzard are experts educating the the public of the folly of homeopathy then you should be able to work these problems out.

          • “Edzard can’t work out why his study of individualised homeopathic treatment of asthma is not good…”
            LET ME GUESS:
            IT’S NOT GOOD BECAUSE IT PRODUCED A NEGATIVE RESULT?

          • The sole reason I did not even begin to address the question, is because I will end up with a post twice as large as my last one, AND, it would not be taken seriously anyway. In very short, the mechanisms involve evolutionary pathways. Plants developed specific resistances to multiple external damaging factors, including animals that consume them. These resistances often take the form of poisonous substances. The symptoms are caused by those substances. There is nothing more to question at this point.

            Homeopaths can tell Aconite and Belladonna apart, and so can 6 year old children. Aconitum Napellus looks like THIS –> https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/12/Aconitum_napellus_008.JPG and Belladonna looks like THIS –> https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/79/Atropa_bella-donna1.jpg.

            If you force-poison people with either of these plants, you can get a toxicologic profile, so far so good. Homeopaths might be able to tell apart the plants, and so can Biologists, Biochemists, Doctors of Medicine, and pretty much ANYONE who can cross-check and validate the similarity of the symptom profiles. Now that we have dealt with the TOTALLY irrelevant argument, which, presumably (in GOOD faith) was impulsive rather than intentional, let’s face the CLEARLY STATED answer (in my last post), which says that homeopaths (or anyone, in fact) cannot tell apart 12C dilutions of anything.

            So, I was talking about 12C preparations of Belladonna or Aconite poison… not about the plants themselves, or the mother tinctures.

            To want to extensively study homeopathy, one feels they should be convinced that their investment (TIME and MONEY) is going to be worth it. Homeopathy does not provide any clue as to WHY one should believe anything it concerns, hence, no money or time for it. The good thing is that homeopathy can be very easily learnt in a 2-3 hour crash-course, as it only involves some grandma-medicine and some make-believe explanations. The rest 99% of any course consists of case studies (pseudoscientific term for “brain-washing”) and huge lists of recipes, preparations, questionnaires and symptoms.

            Now, people in here don’t seem pretty interested to devote any time or money to that, in order to “magically acquire” the right to criticize it. The same goes for someone supporting homeopathy, nobody ever took away their right to criticize anything… even medicine. So, we respect each other’s rights and have a creative discussion. From my personal position, I have laid out extensive arguments and made considerable efforts to avoid making void points. I have supported every point or piece of knowledge I have formulated and this is the reason why my posts are 3-4 times larger than usual. I know this may be getting on the nerves of some very kind people here, but extensive dialogue is the only means of civilized argumentation, so I apologize (to them) for that. I accept that I cannot work out the problems about why the trials mentioned are not good, neither Edzard’s nor the Belladonna proving. Now, your turn has come to provide something more than one/two-liner aphorisms about anything.

            Simple questions, really.
            -What is wrong with the Belladonna trial that makes you say it is poor?
            -What is wrong with Edzard’s trial?
            -What are the pieces of information about homeopathy that you would like to offer to people in here that don’t have the proper education on homeopathy?

            If you comment anything else from my post or my previous posts WITHOUT adressing these questions first, fairly and extensively, just as I have, so meticulously, done for other comments, I am bound to come to any conclusion I see fit. Maybe other polite people in here can help me out with the conclusions, as well.

        • James, you may be taking all this homeopathic ‘proving’ (a transliteration of German ‘prüfung’, meaning ‘test’, ‘examination’) too seriously. You already expressed amazement at the 682 symptoms in the example you found. Perhaps you’ve never heard of ‘dream proving’ (see http://www.qjure.com/remedy/dream-proving-0) where someone ingests a remedy or shoves it under their pillow at bedtime then records their dreams and impressions. The technique can even be applied to materials such as petroleum (http://www.interhomeopathy.org/a-dream-proving-of-petroleum).

          If this isn’t wacky enough for you, Rational wiki (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Unusual_homeopathic_remedies#Antimatter) provides examples of the weirdest stuff that homeopaths have subjected to ‘provings’ — from antimatter to light from Venus, and even water! (http://www.hominf.org/aquanova/aqnofr.htm) Yep, nothing is too preposterous for homeopathists to treat it with the great solemnity of a formal ‘proving’. And they wonder why people with even the vaguest notion of critical thought find homeopathy pure comedy gold.

          • Professor Odds, it has been stated repeatedly on this blog that ‘homeopaths are anti-vaccination’. When I pointed out Professor Ernst’s own link that provided evidence that homeopaths are not anti-vaccination there were no replies: just silence.

            Now, you are pointing out, in Bjorn Geir style, ludicrous ‘provings’ AS IF THEY ARE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ENTIRE SPECTRUM OF HOMEOPATHY. Now, without re-coursing to a criticism against conventional medicine (which I happen to admire) to make a point, wouldn’t you say it would be ridiculous to use an example of a disastrous medicine against ALL medicine?

            Professor Odds if you keep this up, and Bjorn sticks to his right to remain silent, I would think that you have a good chance of going to the top of the table.

          • ” ‘homeopaths are anti-vaccination’. When I pointed out Professor Ernst’s own link that provided evidence that homeopaths are not anti-vaccination there were no replies: just silence.”
            this is because it is untrue, I think. critics usually point out that some or many or most homeopaths are antivax (and there is plenty of evidence for this); show me the quote where I stated ‘homeopaths are anti-vaccination’.

          • Dear Frank, I am only taking anything about homeopathy seriously for the sake of the discussion in here. Unfortunately, I have seen the impossible things they have examined (as in “proved”) and it makes someone wonder about how much free time they have. The real questions all this raises are the following:

            -Do they REALLY believe they can cure anything with those preparations?
            -If they don’t, which I assume is true at least some of the time, why do they do it? Do they have anything else to gain from that?

            I mean, it’s ok to believe in Santa Claus, but proving dreams and believing that you can call this a medical procedure is tremendously farfetched. I really hope not many people fall for this kind of misconduct.

  • James, speaking of comedy gold, that is fantastic.

    Seems like the comedy gold on both sides of the aisles is balancing out (read Iqbal’s latest suggestion to Mr Mohr on provings).

    Apart from learning, this site is great for laughing.

    As always, you guys are so much fun.

  • I have not managed to find any suggestion with respect to provings from Iqbal. The only comedy that I can see so far from the line of comments can by summed up in the following points:

    –Point 1–
    A: People who do not believe in homeopathy, suggest it is dangerous for many reasons, primarily neglect.
    B: People who support homeopathy tell to people opposing homeopathy (in ALL its irrelevance as a response) that “their” conventional medicine kills more people than homeopathy, so they should first try to amend this problem.
    POINT 1: When conventional medicine manages to reduce the lives lost because of its own errors, homeopathy supporters will be THERE, READY to claim that the extra lives saved were due to homeopathy. So, when death rates go down, homeopathy practitioners WILL jump up to claim some of the percentage. This will be a grave misattribution, but it will happen however, no matter what!

    –Point 2–
    A: People that deeply believe in homeopathy were first given the facts, and then (cf. never) some explanation. They probably GREW UP believing in it. Nothing on earth will disprove it for them.
    B: Reasonable scientists are always wary when faced with “too-good-to-be-true” claims. Some even make revolutionaries, doubting almost anything they are shown along the courses of their lives.
    POINT 2: The usual implications from homeopathy supporters that people should doubt the efficacy of medicine at any level are things that they themselves never do. Nobody in here who supports homeopathy has ever taken a single moment to doubt anything about it, and this is clearly shown in their fierce responses.

    POINT 3: This self-claimed right to criticize conventional medicine from the perspective of a homeopathy practitioner is a cowardly one. Homeopathy practitioners cost less lives because they (at best) do nothing, and they don’t get their hands dirty at all. Conventional medical practice REQUIRES dirty hands and when things go wrong, lives may be lost. Sometimes, things go RIGHT and lives are lost anyway. This is unfortunate, as is trying to claim the lives saved, but not be fair and also claim the lives lost, as per point 1.

    –Point 4–
    A few months ago, a friend of mine had a problem with a tendency for swelling lymph nodes and was seen by a family doctor, who, after an exhaustive examination, prescribed some homeopathic remedy. After taking it for a couple of months, my friend was still disappointed because the lymph nodes were still swelling after slight aggravation. My friend was completely unprejudiced versus homeopathy, as it appeared because after I explained the principles underlying homeopathy, my friend’s response was a wishful condescension as in “wow, this is very interesting”…
    POINT 4: If homeopathy supporters respond to negative anecdotes through escape hatches, they should ACCEPT that positive anecdotes can JUST AS EASILY be responded to by claiming pure luck, regression to the mean etc. This is something everybody should bear with, and this is why serious science is not made from anecdotes, it can only start from them.

    POINT 5: Comprehension of structured reading would have inevitably led to Greg responding to my questions of the last post, respecting my request, without addressing anything irrelevant to me prior to that action. This inevitably, though, brings me to the conclusions I mentioned in the last post.

    Pure comedy gold is the fact that homeopathy supporters in here are so much involved in denying facts and supporting homeopathy, that they use small posts, make fun of everything and usually emit radio silence when asked about serious things. It is clear, Greg, that you are here to have fun in your own way, and not to make any sound argument, so now I know why noone in here takes your talk seriously. I hope you already KNOW that homeopathy is an extremely well-woven web of lies and misrepresentation with no actual use for its highly diluted remedies, and simply make fun because you like to oppose everything and everyone, or you like to spread some mischief here and there. You may even laugh in reality some moments when having fun in here. I admire, however, your being SO dilligent with this annoyingly consistent copy-paste thing about how guys in here are so much fun that you write every now and then, this seems to be your signature. Do you really believe in homeopathy, or are you truly spreading the mischief in here because it is a way of life for you?

    The sad thing about THIS, is that in REAL LIFE, you are a REAL person behind some screen. Whether you exploit the infrastructures of online communication just to have fun or to really make actual points (doubtful), is your own prerogative. If you should ever have a health problem, you know… it happens some times, a real one that does not regress in its own, you will go see some proper medical doctor and follow the evidence-based guidelines that will make your problem go away, or be less of a problem anyway. It is at THAT moment, should that ever come, that your belief system will be put to the test and you will hopefully choose the right path, being the nice guy that your comments so vividly indicate. If you choose homeopathy to heal some serious problem, you will end up not having as easy a time as now, making fun at random messages on some random website. This is not to imply that I wish for such a situation to materialize. I actually wish you have a very healthy life and keep doing whatever pleases you the most!

    The comedy gold is not on both sides of the aisles my friend. As it appears from the line of comments, you are the only one laughing in here and, probably “as always”, you are so much predictable…..

    • James, thank you for taking the time and care to write your comments (clearly set out in points).

      It is odd that you seem to have some knowledge about homeopathy and make an effort to write comments in some detail yet you state:
      ‘To want to extensively study homeopathy, one feels they should be convinced that their investment (TIME and MONEY) is going to be worth it. Homeopathy does not provide any clue as to WHY one should believe anything it concerns, hence, no money or time for it.’

      James, why are you using your time to argue about something that is not worth it?

      Your issue with the humour that weaves through the posts and comments on in this site is misplaced: go back and start reading Edzard’s blogs from 2012, I can tell you that there have been some lively, witty and sometimes (sometimes) brilliant discussions on all of the various alt.med domains.

      • Having read a few earlier posts, I have to say that most of them are accompanied by large volumes of commentary, so, yes, I have noticed many discussions embellished with some very inspired and witty formulations.

        I am really beginning to wonder why you are so persistent with diverting attention when commenting:
        FIRST: I believe it was clear in my formulation, that there was no “first person” syntax in there. I refer to just about anyone, not me in specific.
        SECOND: I wouldn’t be taking position about something I don’t know enough about. However, I don’t consider this “enough” to include the ENTIRE materia medica, as suggested in some other post’s comments section. Many points in there are contradictory, based on bad observations. And if it were to be assumed that it was REALLY composed following proving after proving, it would be concluded that it itself a testimony of grave misconduct of almost-poisoning people to see what the poisons cause.
        THIRD: A witty mind that appreciates comedy gold here and there, such as yours, should understand easily that my argument was that homeopathy is not worth to argue FOR. It is always worth to argue AGAINST it, because some lives are bound to be saved in the process. The thought of the sheer volume of resources wasted on homeopathy and research makes me sad. If this volume would be dedicated to real medicine, or any science for what it’s worth, humanity would have really made huge advancements.
        FOURTH: Out of everything posted, you have found something to say about the least relevant of the contents of my post. Diverting attention only works for people less than 6-7 years of age (10 at most). Don’t do it, it ruins your homeopathy defence strategy.

        The good thing, however, is that I am not writing only for the sake of a response to some comments. Unfortunately, the level of the discussion in here occasionally takes the form of an apparent debate, only it is not a debate, because it is two distinct sides of a single truth, and only one of them is true. For that reason, unsuspecting people passing by for the posts and scrolling down to read the comments may still be balancing in the middle between sides. So, in the interest of providing:
        a) a respectful, clean and civilized discussion,
        b) an extensive, concise and easy-to-follow line of argumentation, and
        c) factual points/positions/theses based on scientific knowledge,
        I have devoted a large portion of my time to strengthen the already strong case made in here anyway, for any random passer-by, that the rational side that follows the facts is a better choice than the wishful side that employs logical fallacies, misconduct and theoretical pseudoscience.

        So, if you need some fun in your life, I will be happy to inform you that the evidence (and NOT its misrepresentation) shows that… yes, I have wasted my time with homeopathy. It is fake.

        I answered. On the bright side, let me reciprocate the exact same question:
        The only other Greg defending homeopathy so faithfully in here, as I have seen in the comments sections, is Gregory Dana Ullman. I will assume this is a very witty, ironic coincidence. In the eyes of homeopathy, one could even make evidence from this observation. Anyway….

        So, why are you, Greg, using your time to defend homeopathy so vividly in here?

        • Because I want to present a view of homeopathy that is not caricatured as some of the previously frequent commenters presented. Homeopathy is an extremely complex topic, and I doubt that if you did a 3 hour course that it would provide you with the knowledge to campaign AGAINST it. James, in order to critique a subject, it is essential to be proficient in it.

          Good luck with you mission James, and don’t take it badly if all your comments are not responded to. However, if you really want to be a critic of homeopathy, it might help to do some study of it. (PS Homeopathy NEEDS critics in order to facilitate progress, so THANK YOU for your input).

          • The caricatured version of homeopathy is the reality, unfortunately. You know, you can very easily find a sci-fi/adventure computer-game implementing some healing system that presents lots of similarities with homeopathy. It is more-or-less a cult phenomenon that doesn’t really need criticism at all. It is a religion, perfectly set up with a sacred (god)father-figure (Samuel Hahnemann, referred to as “The Master” in many homeopathy papers I have read), a gospel (materia medica), a standard slogan (similia similibus curentur…. confer: “in hoc signo vinces”), and a multitude of supernatural beliefs (potentizations, dilutions…. confer: “less is more”).

            A couple of hours is more than enough to understand that it is a theory structured on the scientific equivalent of QUICKSAND. Upon studying it from the beginning, as soon as this observation and fact is grasped, digested and consolidated, it quickly attains a “disappointing” status.

            The frequent commenters don’t criticise homeopathy, they know it is completely wrong at every level because they had the luck to be well educated on various scientific disciplines PRIOR to their introduction in supernaturalistic claims. They simply criticise the people who are COMPLETELY unwilling to notice that just believing in something so strongly will not go on to make it suddenly turn true. You know, homeopathy seems to use proof by popular support. You know, both sides can play this game. Let me phrase some questions:

            question 1: Would a 3 hour course on the fundamentals of homeopathy provide the knowledge to campaign against it?

            question 2: In order to critique homeopathy, is it essential to be proficient in it?

            BONUS question 3: (what on earth means “proficient in homeopathy”? having cured more than ## people using homeopathic preparations?)… (I know, I should have used the $$$ sign there, it would make more sense).

            Now, you doubt the positive answer to 1 and the negative answer to 2. But homeopathy is only supported by anecdotes, so, let’s run this as a gallop here… gather some opinion-poll results, and build a proof on that. This is typical homeopathic practice! If lots of people disagree with you, suddenly, their point will become valid (this is ALSO relevant to the “let the people decide their healthcare options” argument) and you will be wrong. This should be an excellent demonstration of a practice that is constantly misused and abused by homeopathy supporters.

            Thus far, the only thing homeopathy supporters do, as it appears in the comments, is:
            a) divert attention to completely different aspects of a subject (strawman argumentation…),
            b) reject just about EVERY piece of evidence against homeopathy by INVENTING reasons (which is extremely annoying, because people opposing homeopathy use constant and steady argumentation, they don’t invent problems),
            c) presenting numerous results that are in various OBVIOUS ways spurious, yet totally reject criticism on them (reminds me of a study, where they tested a homeopathic preparation to cure diarrhea, and the placebo was 85% grade ethanol….. ethanol is KNOWN to aggravate intestinal conditions, even in small dosages),
            d) ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, they still never appear to take a moment to doubt anything. They adhere solely to what they think, believe, and hear from their peer homeopathy supporters.

            So, seriously, you HAVE taken some moments to really ponder about diluting something hundreds of times, to the point of inexistence, shaking it around every now and then, and finally, assuming the final preparation (just solvent) has ANY effect to the body, that is ADDITIONAL to what the just-solvent would already have as an effect (usually the solvent is alcohol, which oftentimes has various effects on the body)…right?

            And, ok…all criticism aside, what really makes you believe in this assertion?

  • James, if caricature is what it is, you run towards becoming the caricature homeopathic critic on Edzard’s blog.

    • Great! I am beginning to get the impression that you are question-mark blind! Out of all my questions, you choose to attent to the MOST irrelevant points of my posts AND you totally ignore all questions. This time, I’ll keep it small, so you can have a chance to follow all points.

      You think I am becoming the caricature homeopathic critid on Edzard’s blog! Cool. Of course, that’s only YOUR opinion and there are slightly more than 7,500,000,000 people on Earth. That makes the strength of your argument about 1/7,500,000,000 = about 1.333 * 10^(-10)… or, to help you understand it in your own language, this is a tad more than about 5C! This is not VERY potent, but not very weak either. If you had another 99 people believing it, its potency would be about 4C… oops, it became weaker now! YES, that’s…homeostatistics! The more ISOLATED the case (as in “anecdote”), the stronger the evidence (I know, I know, it TOTALLY resembles homeopathy, I’m not very original…ok, nobody’s perfect)!

      How do you like it? I will take a bunch of high-school students, teach them this and whatever else I make up, and in 200 years from now, scientific magazines will be crowded with attempts to prove it and disprove it. The debate will be hot!

      I CANNOT help but make a very interesting point here. What is wrong with you my friend? The only thing I have been criticizing is homeopathy, its practices and the bunch of mistaken foundations it has used to propagate. Why do you take everything so personally? Do you have (in)vested interests in homeopathy?

      Let me REITERATE this: I am making POINTS about HOMEOPATHY, not YOU. To you, I am only addressing simple questions now and then, to which you almost never answer. However, because I am all for amusement and entertainment, you should appreciate my attempts to make you have some fun in here. But, still, I am not criticizing you personally in any way. And this makes me wonder, of WHAT kind is your very strong relationship to homeopathy, that compells you to defend it, even trying to make a fool of anyone else that criticizes it?

      And since you don’t attend to questions anyway, if I use your OWN line of reasoning, if caricature is what it is, what exactly does that make YOU in Edzard’s blog? (hint: This question is NOT directed to you).

      • James, at this point in time it seems that I am the only person reading (and responding to your comments) so your 1/7.5 billion calculation is a bit of a stretch. So far 1/1 persons thinks: ‘you run towards becoming the caricature homeopathic critic (you stated: the caricatured version of homeopathy is the reality, unfortunately) on Edzard’s blog’, no-one else has agreed/disagreed with this comment so far.

        • Greg can rest assured that James’s comments are being read and appreciated. At least some of them.
          Many of us are trying these days to enjoy summer and holidays and have other better things to do than comment on the ramblings of shaken water peddlers. But we still have a look at the professor’s blog now and then.
          It is a small wonder that you are still motoring on with the same ignorant fervor as if you think you have the slightest chance of measuring up to James’s put-down of homeopathy, which is way above your head.

          Since I am taking the time and our friend Greg does not seem to comprehend why I am so harsh and sarcastic towards him/her, I might as well explain why I show contempt for homeopathy and its practice, and how this contempt is not to persons but to practice. I do not harbour contempt for the poor persons afflicted by this cultish devotion, I fell sorry for them and even more for their victims of their futile ministrations, their useless nostrums and at times dangerous doctor-play.
          The reason is simply that I have almost forty years of experience as a (real) physician and surgeon and working in many countries on both sides of the Atlantic. I have seen more suffering and death than I care to remember and I have tried being a good doctor/surgeon and do my best.
          When I eventually took an interest in the “alternative” side of health care (or rather “pretend care”) and got to know, among other phenomena, the delusional worship and practice of homeopathy, the only possible reaction and sentiment is that of deep contempt towards it as a practice, not its practitioners as fellow human beings.
          I have, in the hope of learning more and finding a way to influence, tried using reason, education, information, humour, irony, sarcasm and plain telling to. But nothing seems to bite on most of them, certainly not on our friend Greg, who seems in some peculiar way to read its own meaning into texts and in general seems to be totally uneducable, presumably due to a combination of blinding faith and perhaps debilitated reasoning?

          Thank you James for your well written, albeit often lengthy contributions (I have a tendency for wordiness myself 🙂 ) I hope you will stick around and take part in this mostly enjoyable club.

          • Bjorn, your belated attempt to introduce a schism between ‘practice’ and ‘practitioner’ is a disingenuous attempt to deflect from the fact that all your comments are recorded on this site going back many years. Anyone that has the time or interest to point out your personal attacks (‘deep contempt’) against followers or practitioners of homeopathy won’t need to look that hard. In addition to this, the respected Dr. Mathie requested Edzard to ask you to refrain from your personal attacks against him or he would cease to provide further comment (which it seems is what happened).

          • In 2014, Dr Bjorn Geir Leifsson commented on: Homeopathy: proof of concept or proof of misconduct
            http://edzardernst.com/2014/12/homeopaty-proof-of-concept-or-proof-of-misconduct/

            In that blog, Dr Mathie made several comments and defended his meta analysis of individualised homeopathy. However, it eventually came to him stating this:
            ‘Björn: Of course I understand scepticism about homeopathy: as a scientist and a researcher, I am approaching the clinical review work in isolation and with an open mind, fully aware that mechanism of action is of equally key importance. Your suggestion that I am being ‘secretive’ about my CV etc. is derogatory, and so inappropriate that it does not merit any courteous answer other than to say it is no secret and that there is no suitable website available for its inclusion, even I wanted to post it online. I shall not be responding further to you, and I hope that Edzard will effectively moderate any more of your remarks on the matter. In fact, as a result of your persistent comments, I am not sure if shall contribute further to this blog.’

          • Greg seems to be sitting up at night finding things to throw at me. I guess (s)he does not like me?

            To make it easier for the recently arrived audience to understand this last pie Greg ejected (once more) at me, here is my comment that seemed to enrage this particular homeopath so much. Ad hominem smears like this latest from Greg, need to be evaluated in relation to their context.

            The homeopath scientist Robert Mathie Ph.D. is a gentleman who has devoted his efforts to trying to prove the presumed medical efficacy of shaken water using scientific somersaults. He unsparingly uses the title “Dr.” in front of his surname and is of course entitled to so so as he has acquired a PhD degree. He is however not a medical doctor, an “MD”. This started a lively discussion in the thread, about the confusion such use of this tile could cause in the context of medicine.
            Out of interest for what his education was and what he had done to earn his Ph.D. degree, I searched the web for information. As I was surprisingly unsuccessful in this quest, I of course commented that it was unusual for a learned researcher not to flaunt such information. For reasons obscure to us, this seemed to elicit this strangely annoyed response, which the Greg is now once again trying to smear my person with. 😀

  • Good grief James, Bjorn has given you the thumbs up, well done; 1/2 people now consider that you are running towards becoming a caricature homeopathic critic.

    Thank goodness Bjorn is back from his holiday because he may be able to answer all your questions in the way that will provide answers that are satisfactory to you. Examples: homeopaths are against vaccination per se (contradiction in terms); Berlin Wall is representative of the ludicrous nature of homeopathic remedies in general. 1 patient that was seen by a homeopath dies sometime afterwards and this indicts homeopaths and homeopathy in general.

    James, Bjorn can provide you with an education to becoming a homeopathy critic.

    Good luck James.

  • 1/3. I have found all of James’ comments to be thoughtful, rational and well articulated. They might be over long but this demonstrates the care with which he is prepared to take to respond to some of the daft views held by other commenters here, for example youself. He also demonstrates a very detailed understanding of all the central tenets of homeopathy – this is obvious for all to see. To describe him or his views as in any way caricatured strikes me as ridiculous. If anything he has provided a fresh perspective and different arguments to many of the ones already submitted here to rebut Homeoathy. And with incredible patience. Keep it up James!

  • 1/3 keep it up James, it is getting nearer to your 1/7.5 billion.

  • First of all thank you Graham and Dr. Leifsson for your respectful and benevolent comments. As a person that values care, creativity, sensibility and rationality, as I have stated in my first comment, it is very nice to see that the patience and dilligence of my efforts are being appreciated.

    Secondly, the claim to study about homeopathy “better” or “properly” in order to get the right to criticize it, cries out loud “ESCAPE-HATCH”. This sounds like a “the more you study it, the more you’ll believe it” argument! Learning about homeopathy did ring bells rather soon for me. I did not “train” to become a “critic” of homeopathy, nor do I have to. Serious criticism for homeopathy usually stems from a pure encounter with its theories and claims. I have friends who have had homeopathic consultations, DID occasionally see improvement, we were good friends, so I supported their opinions and experiences for a while. A few years later, by chance, I got to read more about it and I was THUNDERSTRUCK with amazement while I was reading about how dreams were important, repeated dilution was a KEY process to increase potency and (purported) efficacy, next on with COGNITIVE HOMEOPATHY (yes, psyche and character properties of a person are considered to be connected to some element) and then found myself reading CASE STUDIES (pseudoscientific term for “testimony” as it came out) of how a raped woman found true peace of mind and managed to move on (sexually) with her husband after treatment with some specific remedy of an element… or other abused victims treated with Staphysagria… to cure them from what, and how… I fear “caricature” is an understatement for the foundations and theories underlying homeopathy. As for the testimonials, “travesty” is a perfect fit. This is not just criticism, this is genuine worry. I am afraid of how far this story can go, and how much more farfetched it can become.

    So, in short, it began as hope and good faith, after a while it became amazement, and soon enough, it became desperation and disappointment.

    Dr. Leifsson, Greg appears to keep dilligent records of most comments in here, and anything anyone says in here can and will be used against them in…here. I have skimmed a bit through the few comments referenced and, indeed, I have seen what is a clearly honest and polite question, making “ad hominem” sound like a far away yonderland. I am compelled to quote your very own sentence saying:
    “Anyone who openly admits his or her belief in possible healing effects of shaken water should keep prepared for critical opinion”. I could not agree more with this and have to add, also, all the more so if they are certified researchers with a genuine scientific attitude towards methodology and interpretation.

    By the way, Dr. Robert Taylor Mathie’s PhD thesis was completed some time by the end of 1978 and its title is: “The measurement of liver blood flow with inert gas clearance”. Albeit I did not find it in that way, for anyone who may care to double-check, it is reference No. 75 in paper: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3018367
    which is (obviously) relevant to…hepatic blood flow with inert gas clearance.

    And now, some points for our dear friend. Greg seems to like to turn disagreement to contention in a matter of… (few) comments. Out of the entire content of my comments, Greg is attracted by the LEAST relevant topics in a comment, and, seemingly, numbers.

    In a two-way poll, the keyword usually is “majority”, thank you democracy! 1/3 says your opinion is supported by 33% of the observing audience (including you), in which respect you are a “minority”.

    However, this is NOT the point. The point is, you really believe that if all 7.5 billion people on earth are asked, your opinion will prevail?

    Your apparent contempt with respect to criticism against homeopathy renders ALL questions irrelevant, I’m afraid… However, I shall assume good faith in our internet world, and try to make a fresh start, asking something that is closer to the point of the current post:

    -What results or evidence have you based your faith in homeopathy on Greg?
    (I think it makes perfect sense to start from that)

  • Bjorn Geir: ‘I might as well explain why I show contempt for homeopathy and its practice, and how this contempt is not to persons but to practice. I do not harbour contempt for the poor persons afflicted by this cultish devotion, I fell sorry for them and even more for their victims of their futile ministrations, their useless nostrums and at times dangerous doctor-play.’ Instead of APOLOGISING for being unprofessional towards to Dr. Mathie, or apologising directly to Dr Mathie (Dr Mathie clearly expressed his upset from Bjorn’s comment), Bjorn Geir makes EXCUSES, finds JUSTIFICATIONS as to why his actions are RIGHT.

    Then, he continues with his normal manner of ridicule: ‘Greg seems to be sitting up at night finding things to throw at me’. No Bjorn, if you have an IT Company, you should know that it takes minutes to find information, if you know what you are looking for.

    Here is another quote:
    Bjorn Geir:
    I guess we are observing the basis of homeopathy in a nutshell.
    In case someone wonders, I have been enjoying some awesome skiing in the Rocky mountains.
    An occasional look at the proceedings here has been quite enlightening. Even a tad amusing at times, namely observing the cute bromance within our resident cabal of quack commenters – the L-B, Greg and John “The Homeopathic Hatter” Benneth stroking each other’s fragile ego’s with their condescending quacks.
    http://edzardernst.com/2017/03/integrative-medicine-physicians-tend-to-harbour-anti-vaccination-views/

    In terms of your statement that your approach is not to ridicule the person but to express deep contempt for the practice, please JUSTIFY the quote provided, and thank you for your detailed explanations as they are helpful to understanding your viewpoint.

    • No Bjorn, if you have an IT Company, you should know that it takes minutes to find information, if you know what you are looking for.

      Erm, I actually happen to be a shareholder and president of such a company. Perhaps that is what Greg is alluding to? Totally irrelevant. We use our resources for useful and important tasks. 😀

      But even if Greg wants us to start answering her (his?) out of topic questions it should be easy for him (her??) find all the questions Greg has yet to answer on this blog. Greg hasn’t been active for so long so should not have to look through many posts on this blog. Several are in this thread if memory serves me right.
      After Greg has enumerated and answered reasonably intelligibly all the important questions he (she?) has ignored, let’s say for the past two months, I might be humoured to explain once again why real health care provider’s tolerance towards ignorant incognito people who pretend to know more than they and even provide medical care, sometimes boils over in harsh hwords.

      • Bjorn Geir: ‘I might as well explain why I show contempt for homeopathy and its practice, and how this contempt is not to persons but to practice. I do not harbour contempt for the poor persons afflicted by this cultish devotion, I fell sorry for them and even more for their victims of their futile ministrations, their useless nostrums and at times dangerous doctor-play.’ Instead of APOLOGISING for being unprofessional towards to Dr. Mathie, or apologising directly to Dr Mathie (Dr Mathie clearly expressed his upset from Bjorn’s comment), Bjorn Geir makes EXCUSES, finds JUSTIFICATIONS as to why his actions are RIGHT.
        Here is another quote:
        Bjorn Geir:
        I guess we are observing the basis of homeopathy in a nutshell.
        In case someone wonders, I have been enjoying some awesome skiing in the Rocky mountains.
        An occasional look at the proceedings here has been quite enlightening. Even a tad amusing at times, namely observing the cute bromance within our resident cabal of quack commenters – the L-B, Greg and John “The Homeopathic Hatter” Benneth stroking each other’s fragile ego’s with their condescending quacks.
        http://edzardernst.com/2017/03/integrative-medicine-physicians-tend-to-harbour-anti-vaccination-views/

        In terms of your statement that your approach is not to ridicule the person but to express deep contempt for the practice, please JUSTIFY the quote provided, and thank you for your detailed explanations as they are helpful to understanding your viewpoint.

  • This did not last long, did it?
    Bjorn: ‘I might as well explain why I show contempt for homeopathy and its practice, and how this contempt is not to persons but to practice.’

    There are more reminders of the discrepancy between what you say and what you mean coming along, meanwhile holidays and weekends are meant for relaxation. Enjoy.

    Bjorn, you always have been and still are at the top of the table.

  • Greg, it appears that, out of the totallity of a behavioral manifestation of some person, you cherry-pick COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTEXT only few characteristics and showcase them around, trying to make a point, which is also doomed to be out-of-context. The new readers of the blog, the newly arrived audience, sometimes are already suspicious of such misunderstandings, which is why, of course, I travelled over to the other thread and took a significantly thorough lookaround. I don’t need too much past history of course, but I could use a few things from that other thread here to make a point.

    At this point, I should make it VERY CLEAR for you that I am not attempting to defend Björn himself, he is probably way too experienced to need my assistance on anything with respect to relevant matters. But it IS summer in the Northern hemisphere, and I understand he shouldn’t be in front of a screen all the time, let alone type once again things that probably have been said so many times before. And I cannot help but be at awe when I see such grave misinterpretation, so I feel I have some points to make.

    FIRST:
    In simple words, when someone is pissed off, there is a good chance for them to provide not-so-polite responses, oftentimes taking it out on someone else, much likely those that pissed them off.
    EXAMPLE: Whenever RANDOM people with NO KNOWLEDGE WHATSOEVER on the matters at hand, start talking to me about… the matters at hand.. things I have spent MANY years to become well acquainted with, it occasionally boils down to a TIRESOME discussion and, at some point, I may ask them how on EARTH can they really BELIEVE what they are talking to me about, often asking about what their past experience with the matter is. This is what I see Björn having done over at the thread. It appears, after scanning through some older posts, that he has made identical points OVER AND OVER again. It is ONLY natural he is getting tired with them.

    SECOND:
    Irony can also be PROVOKED when someone is presented with points that have been refuted TIME AND TIME AGAIN. This is just a matter of time.
    EXAMPLE: Every couple of days, I find myself in discussions with people, especially women, usually at 45+ years of age, talking about nutrition etc. And when calcium is thrown onto the table, they ALL have in their brains, STRONGLY ENGRAVED, the idea that calcium is only important until you are done with puberty, and it is very important until then, in order to have a strong framework, and after about the 20th or so year of age, there is no actual need to have so much calcium in your diet. This is, of course, an utterly dangerous notion to carry in your brains. MOST official guidelines suggest an INCREASING calcium as the age of the individuals increases. In simple words, NO, if you want to avoid some problems, you need just as much calcium when you are 40, 50, 60, 70, etc.. as you need when you are 18, 28, etc. But, try telling that to a 50+ person with ABSOLUTELY no understanding of biology, chemistry, physiology, etc. So, I occasionally resort to irony, which is, of course, AFTER having repeated more than a couple of times, that calcium and vitamin D are necessary at ALL ages. If someone doesn’t want to listen, maybe they will when their bones start suffering.

    THIRD:
    All these notions laid out above also apply to you, Greg. When you have made VALID points and comments, and understand whenever you may have been wrong, and provided enough evidence for any claims or arguments you make, and, in general, exhibit a decent and RATIONAL behavior, MOST rational people will understand you whenever you may be ironic or impolite to anyone. But if you are making void comments and never provide evidence for anything, and you never accept…not all, but at least the MOST EVIDENTLY correct refutations of some beliefs you may hold, then you are probably only here to spread mischief and have fun and, as a result, too few people (3-4 as I guess from the comments above) will have understanding with respect to your insolence of ANY kind.

    FOURTH:
    As I mentioned here:
    http://edzardernst.com/2017/07/it-would-be-wrong-to-get-used-to-the-untruths-told-by-proponents-of-alternative-medicine-or-anybody-else/#comment-93289
    I find the Hippocratic Corpus and its philosophy WILDLY misunderstood, misrepresented and misquoted (out of context), especially when it comes to homeopathy advocacy. When I see that kind of misrepresentation, as I stated on the comment there, I get the feeling that the arguer has run short of arguments and is beginning to employ dishonest means. Then, it is a-disaster-waiting-to-happen, that I may employ some ironic or indecent behavior towards them, since they have ALREADY lost my respect. To put it in a FAR SIMPLER way, after your kids have lied to you more than a dozen times, are you going to simply take anything they say for granted? Scolding is an indispensable first line of defense against BS, and, as Björn can be observed in various posts (I can search and quote many decent comments) making significant points (regardless of wordiness/succinctness), which is adequate evidence to establish a very strong case FOR a decent overall behavioral manifestation on his behalf, then, whenever I see him “scolding” someone, there is LITTLE chance that he is an indecent guy, and GREAT chance that they are behaving like kids. ESPECIALLY when their arguments are usually thin and employ the same dishonest means.

    As for me, personally, my patience hopefully exceeds the usual limits and I rarely resort to ironic or in any way indecent comments, except for when I feel some very interesting and witty figurations are to be produced! I hope, however, that people are not paying money for shaken whatever, or lactose whatever, with no active ingredient, called “homeopathic remedies”.

    FIFTH: The Robert Taylor Mathie case.
    As I stated earlier, Robert Mathie’s PhD thesis is titled: “The measurement of liver blood flow with inert gas clearance”.
    As a fair representation, I am going to use this study of his: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3018367. It is almost the same title, so I can get a good grasp of what he has carried out. So, he analyzed the methods of inert gas clearance measurements to deduce liver blood flow rates. The paper is only review and analysis. In his PhD, he reports having used electromagnetic flowmeters, so, most likely, he has experimented too. He references two pieces of work which report that after 1 blood passage through the lungs, only 1-5% of [133]Xe or [85]Kr remain in the blood. He also makes an extensive reference to clearance curves. What they are is the following:
    -The radioisotopes are administered by injection to the Portal Vein* (the suggested methodology for higher accuracy).
    -Ionizing radiation is measured by suitable organs (scintillation crystals for gamma or Geiger-Mueller tubes for beta emissions) in “counts per second”**, at least in a figure juxtaposed within the article.
    -The clearance curve is a figure of counts-per-second as observed along TIME. As time goes by, the counts-per-second reduce, as in: radiation events decrease with time (exponentially, no less). Why is this? Clearance! The gas LEAVES the blood (mostly through the lungs apparently, besides…it’s a GAS).

    *(although portal vein is termed a “vein”, it runs TOWARDS the liver, not away from it)
    **(Counts per second refer to particles per second, i.e. beta particles detected per second by the instrument. This is a measurement of particle detections, NOT the true rate of emissions from the source. However, this is only a subtlety for what it’s worth in this comment)

    Ok so far. Now, clearance curves, with which Dr. Mathie is very well acquainted, are, in a sense, a kind of dose-response curves. They depict the rate of clearance of a substance, which is, actually, a temporal storyline of the quantity of the element within the blood (or wherever the measurements take place, e.g. brain, liver, etc.), with respect to an effect it manifests, that has been selected for monitoring. This is totally in line with the well known, in terms of Physiology, absence of effect in the absence of a substance. As the substance goes away, it has less of an effect (however measurable) and, when it is NOT there anymore, there is no detection and no effect. Dr. Robert T. Mathie must be very well aware of that piece of reality.

    Now, this raises the question, at least on my behalf, HOW ON EARTH did Dr. Mathie end up studying “apparent” effects in the absence of substances (which is technical jargon for endlessly-diluted “homeopathic” remedies), when he is WELL aware that there is no effect when there is no substance to induce it.

    After all, if he uses a homeopathic remedy of the corresponding Krypton or Xenon isotopes (shaken, not stirred!), at least 12C or higher, the instruments will only record NOISE (i.e. very low detection counts per second) that will be very evident on the clearance curve (unless tampered suitably to misrepresent a positive result). And since a whole subchapter in his paper is about REPRODUCIBILITY, it should be very easy for him to perform 5-10 such experiments and notice that the only thing that is totally reproducible is the ABSENCE of detection (and effect) of a substance, in the absence of the substance!

    This is, hopefully, as close along the lines of what Björn potentially meant over there on the other thread cited above, as possible. If not, Björn himself should feel free to correct me. I understand that this line of reasoning, always sticking to elements of REALITY, rather than wishful thinking, can lead someone in despair, thus wondering, really, how can Dr. Mathie, apparently a connoisseur of Phsiology, have been so gravely misled along the course of his research, to miss the most important foundations of the teachings of Physiology itself. Then, naturally, the sources of Dr. ANYONE’s knowledge are unavoidably, sooner or later, going to be questioned, which is simply what Björn did.

    And, to be a bit critical myself at this point, HOW ON EARTH can someone take this simple analysis above as an ad hominem argument? If it weren’t Dr. Mathie, but ANYONE else, the argumentation would still be valid. There is nothing wrong with Dr. Mathie himself. It is one thing knowing too little about something peddled (as in, many homeopathy advocates not knowing elementary chemistry), and another thing to have been taught and have profound knowledge of something, yet ignoring it at some point, in favor of some contradictory claim. This goes for just about anyone.

    So, when in the second category (profound knowledge, yet ignored), there is MUCH LESS vindication, and MUCH MORE criticism. Björn, in his earlier comment, described the contempt he harbours for the practice and NOT the practitioners, with respect to the FIRST category (no knowledge at all), not the second one. Once again, he is free to correct my understanding, if mistaken.

    • Thank you James (that sounded like something from a good British TV series 🙂 )
      There is no need for me to add or subtract anything from your assessment. I have given the question quite some thought why people with a highly specialised education fall prey to religious nonsense that flies in the face of what they should know better than the general public. My interest in RTM’s background was indeed spawned by the question whether he should know better than believe in the possible medical properties of pure (shaken) water.
      Reading your account of RTM’s PhD work, my thoughts wander off to all those who were led by the hand through a series of laboratory experiments and thesis writing without ever really understanding what they were doing or having any use for it in their future professional life. Many professors use doctoral candidates to do the handiwork without really teaching them anything. They produce good grants for the lab by churning out PhD’s.
      Another, more interesting case is that of Swedish Robert Hahn MD, PhD. I looked into his case a while ago in relation to a discussion on this blog and found a remarkably “double” character. On one hand a renowned and capable medical scholar and researcher in fluid replacement therapy and on the other a believer in spiritual paranormality, reincarnation and active proponent of homeopathy research. We discussed this at length at the time but at the moment I prefer to go out into the sun rather than try to find and refer to the pertinent post.
      Concerning respect or lack of it, I can only repeat what I have previously stated, that I do not consider my attitude as being that of disrespect towards the persons themselves, only the cult or faith they have fallen prey for. I may though admit, as you (James) allude to, to having very limited respect and usually express profound disapproval when confronted with someone who should be bound by professional integrity and advanced knowledge, to abstain from providing or propagating false and even potentially perilous practices.
      For those who obviously are uneducated and led by deep, ignorant delusion, such as e.g. our friend Greg seems to be, I only feel pity and sorrow. I may at times have gone overboard in ironical and sarcastic heckling. If so I hereby apologize for such frivolousness but there are limits to everyone’s patience.
      Now a quick second cup of coffee before hitting town for an interesting museum visit and an evening at an amusement park.

      • Bjorn, there are more of your comments on this site that seem to be not in accord with your statements:
        1. ‘I might as well explain why I show contempt for homeopathy and its practice, and how this contempt is not to persons but to practice.’
        2. ‘I may at times have gone overboard in ironical and sarcastic heckling. If so I hereby apologize for such frivolousness but there are limits to everyone’s patience.’

        The only limits of patience that I have noticed is the patience of the people that you have done your ‘sarcastic heckling’ to. However, you have displayed remarkable patience and resilience in the face of being shown up in in your comments during the 5 years that you have been commenting on this site as many other commenters have come and gone but you are still commenting.

        Seeing that you were so interested in researching Dr. Mathie’s background; let’s have a look at yours:
        Cand Med et Chir, 1983, University of Iceland. Did you obtain any specialist qualifications?
        Last date on register of practitioners 2005?

        Did you write a dissertation? What was the topic?

        What scientific papers on medicine have you published (Edzard has done MANY)?

        Do you have any training or qualifications in homeopathy?

        Bjorn, are you bluffing the readers of edzardernst.com?

      • I have a very deep understanding of what you mean by limits to everyone’s patience Dr. Leifsson. I agree with that. Living in a mostly irrational world, unfortunately, this patience is constantly put to the test. No matter how much it improves, there will always be limits. Proclivity to provoke, on the other side, appears to have no limits at all. Too bad it is so often coupled with irrationality.

        I have a fair degree of experience with respect to the insides of various university practices. It is an unfortunate reality that doctoral candidates and PhD degrees don’t always stand up to the standards expected by such a solemn and respectful procedure, as is honest and critically weighed scientific research (in ANY discipline, really). Sometimes, the pressure to produce results, sadly, overstresses the safety valves of ethical standards and the qualities of teaching. At other times, it is pure incompetence, which is usually a controversial issue that is never brought up in the proximal circle of acquaintances. Doctoral candidates ARE, at times, victims of this process, not really receiving quality knowledge or having their critical thought sharpened in the process, but there are also times that they enjoy utter convenience and become parts of it. When some of them, sooner or later, acquire professorship of any degree, they are expected to exhibit a stronger-than-typical tendency to carry on with the “legacy” practices. This is a sad reality, but, hopefully, it is kept at a minimum level in most respected universities around the world.

        However, let it be stated for some people on the blog that the fact that university matters SOMETIMES suck, does not mean that science is generally wrong. As for homeopathy, let me give you a latest account of “caricatureship” that crossed my eyes:

        At some point, naturally, I came across this study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21076131, which concludes that clinically relevant beneficial effects (NOT primary outcomes, there was no difference in those, only secondary outcomes, i.e. placebo-induced stuff) in rheumatoid arthritis patients are attributable NOT to the remedies but ONLY to the consultation process. Reading the article, it appears that they made a very good analysis, and divided patients into many groups, including both individualized homeopathy AND homeopathic complex for rheumatoid arthritis. That is to say that they covered as many aspects as possible. Group patient counts were not too high, closer to 15-16 people, but it is enough for a difference to have emerged, SHOULD there be any significance into remedies. The article can be read at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3093927/.

        This article has been commented upon by some researchers, including Edzard (https://academic.oup.com/rheumatology/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/rheumatology/keq265), who says these results should be taken at face value. However, the rest of the comments are from other researchers, such as K. Chatfield and R. Mathie. etc. that point out some of the obvious limitations of the study, as if this would support the plausibility of homeopathy. What is even more important, however, is that Vithoulkas ALSO addresses a comment to the study and THIS is where it becomes interesting (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21962207). Of course, his commentary mostly addresses void points, making heavy utilization of escape hatches and fallacious reasoning, although it is only one page long. To make this obvious, I quote only the beginning of his commentary:
        (1): “According to my clinical experience, in severe pathology such as rheumatoid arthritis of long standing, there is a need for a series of homeopathic remedies and long follow ups for 2 or 3 years in order to achieve substantial amelioration”.

        Escape hatch is written ALL OVER the above sentence, as there could be NO trial whatsoever that wouldn’t produce mixed results in 2-3 years, and just about ANYTHING can be produced in such a LONG timeframe that could be designated as “improvement from the remedies”.

        The two points I HAVE to point out, however, for the sake of “caricatureship”, consist of these sentences of his, which I quote:
        (2): “Initial aggravation indicates that the remedies prescribed were the correct ones. The lack of such an aggravation in the study proves that the remedies prescribed were mostly wrong and therefore ineffective”.
        (3): “Furthermore, the choice of the potency was unfortunate as the 50 millesimal potencies that were used in the experiment are the weakest in our armamentarium, to be used only in simple pathology cases and certainly not together with chemical drugs [2,8].”
        *The sources [2] and [8] are works of Vithoulkas himself, either alone or in collaboration…and they are BOOKS. Vithoulkas appears to play with a not-so-well-disguised appeal to self-authority (cf. “ipse dixit”).

        Meanwhile, I was not very well acquainted with the 50 millesimal potency. So I made a careful search in the “respected” (and respective) literature. What I found out was that it is the LM potency (50M), a tremendous one, indeed. It is “one of the hidden treasures” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10449053) and is superior to the centesimal dynamization (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16815521).

        To go even further, in a MOST recent publication (2015):
        http://www.ijrh.org/text.asp?2015/9/2/96/159535
        I quote the results and the conclusion:
        QUOTE
        RESULTS: “50 Millesimal potencies have the potential to give significant improvement (P = 0.01) in the treatment of chronic diseases. There were no cases reported with aggravation. The action of LM potency is not influenced (P = 0.97) by previously used Centesimal potency. Constitutional prescription has proved to have significant (P = 0.01) association with treatment outcome with LM potency, whereas Sector prescription (P = 0.12) does not. Irrespective of age, gender, and duration of illness, 50 Millesimal potencies act advantageously.”
        CONCLUSION: “The data suggest that 50 Millesimal potencies have significant beneficial effects in the treatment of chronic diseases.”

        From (1), Vithoulkas realizes that rheumatoid arthritis is a “severe pathology of long standing”, I suppose it can be recognized as a “chronic disease”, so he understands that much. This is the ONLY agreement between Vithoulkas and advanced homeopathy, such as what the 2015 paper above aspires to study. From (2), Vithoulkas seems to IGNORE the fact that fifty-millesimal potencies do not appear to cause initial aggravation (according to the 2015 study). Maybe he is not up-to-date, who knows. EVEN SO, (3) is the true caricatureship, where Vithoulkas seems to despise the LM potency, whereas there are positive and promising views ALL over the homeopathic literature. How much more clearly could it have been stated, other than the straightforward conclusion of the authors above “50 Millesimal potencies have significant beneficial effects in the treatment of chronic diseases”. And this is only ONE of the multiple available (pseudo)evidence about the (pseudo)efficacy of the fifty-millesimal potency in chronic diseases. Why is then Vithoulkas contradicting himself? Does the “Homeopath of the Millennium”, as per http://www.vithoulkas.con (typo?), not know better?

        The caricatureship here consists of the multiple contradictions by people jointly “into” homeopathy. Of course, when the facts have been ignored all along, it is only natural that people will begin preaching their “own” interpretations of some cult-science, and contradictions such as those delineated above are unavoidably going to emerge every now and then.

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