MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

I have been collecting pictures posted by homeopaths on Twitter. When I say collection, I am exaggerating: it takes only about 10 minutes to find what I posted below.

Let’s hope that my collection cures some people from the desire to try homeopathy.

For those who, after having had a look at the pictures, still believe that there might be something in it, I have this challenge:

SHOW ME GOOD EVIDENCE FOR THE CLAIMS MADE BELOW, AND I WILL SEND YOU A FREE COPY OF MY  RECENT BOOK ON THE SUBJECT.

[please click to see them full size]

14 Responses to Oh, that glorious and ubiquitous BS about homeopathy !!!

  • And I’ll send them a copy of my ‘Real Secrets of Alternative Medicine’, suggesting particular attention to chapter 10, but do read the rest for context.

    Come on all other esteemed authors, show some largesse to those in need.

  • Well, not a bad exhibition but I don’t think it is up to the standards of your “Chiropractic for kids: a pack of offensive lies” show.

    Still most of these pictures seem to show the same type of delusion.

  • “Systematic review counters argument of ‘no reliable evidence’ in veterinary homeopathy 21st October 2014”

    “Scottish parliamentary event promotes homeopathy as an alternative to antibiotics in farm animals
    On 14 March 2012, Jim Eadie MSP and the British Homeopathic Association hosted an event at the Scottish Parliament to raise awareness of the role homeopathy could play in cleaning up the food chain by replacing, and therefore reducing, the use of antibiotics. More

    Shelley Epstein VMD gives landmark speech at BAHVS Conference 2011 – the conference of the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons hosted discussion of Evidence Based Medicine, a topic that as understood by the conventional lobby holds more weight in its name than it does in it’s argument. More

    Nobel Laureate gives Homeopathy a boost
    the French virologist Luc Montagnier stunned his colleagues at a prestigious international conference when he presented a new method for detecting viral infections that bore close parallels to the basic tenets of homeopathy. More and as a result has had to flee “intellectual terror” to pursue his ideas in China More

    Evidence Check Report on Homeopathy considered flawed by MPs and dismissed by Government
    On February 22nd 2010 the UK Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee published an ‘evidence check’ report on homeopathy.

    The main purpose of the committee’s work leading up to the report had been to investigate government spending on homeopathy through the National Health Service (NHS) and the licensing of homeopathic products through the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

    The report, approved by only three of the committee members, was largely negative towards homeopathy, and has been referred to extensively by anti-homeopathy campaigners. However, many Members of Parliament and the Governments’ Department of Health itself expressed serious concerns about both the approach taken and the recommendations made in the report. Most importantly, the Government itself rejected the recommendations of the report and endorsed a patient’s right to continue to access homeopathy on the NHS. For more info click Here
    from:
    http://homeopathicvet.org/Veterinary_Research_into_Homeopathy/Welcome.html

    http://homeopathicvet.org/Veterinary_Research_into_Homeopathy/Welcome.html

    “Homeopathic silica was prescribed because of the history of bone problems and to help promote drainage. Discharging lesions are seen in some cancer cases as they resolve, and should be allowed to drain if they present no discomfort to the animal.”
    from:
    https://animalwellnessmagazine.com/cancer-alternative-therapies/

    http://www.civtedu.org/steve-marsden-webinars/

    “SHOW ME GOOD EVIDENCE FOR THE CLAIMS MADE BELOW, AND I WILL SEND YOU A FREE COPY OF MY RECENT BOOK ON THE SUBJECT.”

    “And I’ll send them a copy of my ‘Real Secrets of Alternative Medicine’, ”

    does this at least qualify me for an “e-edition” ?

    • Most of the quotations are irrelevant and at high-risk of bias (did anyone expect that homeopathicvet.org would be an unbiased critic of homeopathy?). However, one catches the eye:
      “Systematic review counters argument of ‘no reliable evidence’ in veterinary homeopathy 21st October 2014”

      I looked into it. It is a systematic review (http://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/content/175/15/373) from R. T. Mathie and J. Clausen. I have a few comments with respect to that:
      -First of all, the reported result was that only two out of 18 eligible RCTs were deemed to contain reliable evidence, while not being at significant risk of bias (including funding). This is a preliminary indication that most homeopathy trials have significant sources of bias.

      -The two reliable and relatively unbiased trials referenced are one negative and one positive. Especially regarding the “positive” one, it is mentioned as: “homeopathic Coli had a prophylactic effect on porcine diarrhoea (odds ratio 3.89, 95 per cent confidence interval [CI], 1.19 to 12.68, P=0.02)”. That’s right. The sample sizes were small enough and P=0.02 is not very convincing. Not-very-convincing is also the habit of looking into implausible treatments, but this is another issue. This is a weak positive in my opinion, especially considering diarrhoea, which is a strongly self-limiting condition.

      -Actually, it was THREE reliable trials. One of them was dismissed because it was funded by the HPC (whatever that means… inside the study, as I checked, the authors state HomeoPet as their funding source). Among many other trials, this is also presented as having an effect “towards homeopathy”. I couldn’t resist checking into it. This can be found here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17572119. I looked INTO the text, and I find it very convincing and extremely clear and honest, even though it was funded by HomeoPet. Apart from certain conspicuous absurdities, e.g. treating the condition “fear of fireworks”, recruiting dogs according to some homeopathic criteria (quote: “Dog’s diet excludes coffee, garlic, mint and sweets – homeopathic provision”) etc, the authors reached a WIDELY negative conclusion: “No evidence for the specific efficacy of homeopathy for the treatment of fear of noises was found in this study.”. This is because improvement was observed in both the verum and the placebo groups.

      HOWEVER, R. T. Mathie and friends created a study protocol (and referenced it in the above systematic review as if it were a published paper) that I was only able to locate in homeopathy associations’ webpages (e.g. https://www.hri-research.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Mathie-et-al-Systematic-review-and-meta-analysis-of-randomised-OTP-controlled-trials-of-IHT-Study-protocol-2016.pdf). According to this study protocol, they use their own effect measures, one of which is the Odds Ratio. According to the authors of the paper with the dog study, improvement was found in 26/40 from placebo, and 25/35 of Verum group. However, the authors state: “One owner from each treatment group used dog appeasing pheromone (DAP, Ceva Sante´ Animale) during at least one firework exposure, and one dog in the placebo group was exposed to a strong odour in the home (air freshener). These subjects were excluded from analysis”. So this is reworked to 26/38 and 25/34, as is indeed reported in Mathie and Clausen (2014). Guess what the odds ratio is from these numbers… 1.28 (effect towards homeopathy). However, they found p = 0.63 for this. The trial funded by HomeoPet was negative, but a weak apparent effect towards homeopathy could be worked out if the Odds Ratio were used. The trial was excluded anyway from the review.

      -Of the two reliable trials and not excluded for reasons of funding, one of them did not state any funding, whereas the other one was funded by the government (as stated by Mathie and Clausen).

      So, all in all, if we are to follow the conclusions of the systematic review, in NO WAY does it “counter[s] argument of ‘no reliable evidence’ in veterinary homeopathy” as stated in homeopathicvet.org. The authors found 2 out of 18 trials to be reliable, according to their criteria. This is very close to no reliable evidence. And even those 2 trials produce conflicting results. A very interesting piece of this systematic review is a small excerpt from the introduction, which states: “Nevertheless, many homeopathic medicines are not in this ‘ultra-molecular’ range (Rutten and others 2013), and the plausibility argument is being approached directly in new research on nanoparticles (Bell and Schwartz 2013) and other physicochemical properties of dilutions (see Hill and others 2009)”. When this stuff shows up, bias bells start ringing.

      Many of the studies, indeed, used remedies that were not in the ultra-molecular range. Not pure homeopathy, right? At least not very potent… But new research on nanoparticles and physicochemical properties of dilutions? Yet again?
      The abstract of “Bell and Schwartz, 2013” contains the following sentence: “Recent studies reveal that homeopathic remedies contain nanoparticles (NPs) of source materials formed by “top-down” mechanical grinding in lactose and/or succussion (forceful agitation) in ethanolic solutions”. Nice! And, EVEN SO, this proves what exactly? The abstract concludes: “Updating terminology from “homeopathy” to “adaptive network nanomedicine” reflects the integration of this historical but controversial medical system with modern scientific findings”. I see! So… What’s in a name? (poor Juliet… poor Shakespeare).

  • I tracked down one of the pictures on the net (the one showing a lot of white pills and the caption ‘acute rescue’), because my brother is a paramedic and I thought he ought to be carrying some of these homeopathic pills for acute emergencies 😉
    Anyway clicking on it took me to a homeopathy site featuring a video titled ‘Homeopathic cure of paralysed rottweiler’. Ludicrous claptrap!

    • what a barmy comment!!!

    • And the article answers its own question:

      “… what is the difference between a homeopath and a surgeon? You’d hope that it is the way they react if they find out their treatments don’t work.”

      Surgeons, and other science-based practitioners will, eventually, change their ways in the face of evidence which finds against entrenched practices. Even if some individuals take more persuading than others, things will eventually change.

      Homeopaths on the other hand, when faced with contradictory evidence, merely start circling the wagons and inventing more and more elaborate and far fetched excuses as to why it works just fine and any critics are just boors and scientific spoilsports! Homeopathy is still stuck in the 18th century and will remain there for ever while the world moves on around it, no matter how many times the Q word, with all its modern, sciencey, connotations, is invoked.

      Niall

  • As a surgeon who has done countless arthroscopies, as a founder member of the management board of the National Centre for Clinical Audit (now superceeded by NICE), as the former chairman of the BMA’s Clinical Audit Committee, and as a magician, I am bound to say I endorse pretty well everything this article says.

    But Harris’s comment: “Once you accept that some or all of the effect of the surgery you are doing is down to placebo, but you carry on doing it anyway, you have removed the only barrier between mainstream medicine and alternative medicine,” says Ian Harris, a professor of surgery at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.“You can no longer say, as a doctor, that homeopathy is rubbish because you’re doing the same thing.” – is barmy!

    ‘Tu quoque’ – “You’re just as bad” is a fallacy, unworthy of a professor of surgery.
    We doctors are trying to audit responsibly, and change our practice when indicated (based on evidence).
    That is why folks who do not change are ‘alternative’.
    And destined ever to reman so.

  • Curses, if only you hadn’t said “good” evidence, I’d have got myself a copy of your book!

    As for the veterinary claims, according to the authors the Mathie 2014 paper “… precluded generalisable conclusions about the efficacy of any particular homeopathic medicine or the impact of individualised homeopathic intervention on any given medical condition in animals” [see http://www.rationalvetmed.org/papers_m.html#Mathie2014%5D. Furthermore the one paper they claimed as positive was nothing of the sort, apart from being published in a pro-homeopathic trade journal, it made no sense clinically (they didn’t even know if the piglets were suffering from the condition they were supposed to be studying) and was basically a propaganda exercise [see http://www.rationalvetmed.org/papers_c.html#Camerlink2010%5D. Even the authors of the Mathie 2014 paper conceded the risk of bias (vested interest) was “uncertain” while at the same time including it in their study.

    And as for the claims of the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons to have “839 publications on Veterinary Homeopathy in Peer Reviewed publications” in favour of homeopathy – more nonsense I’m afraid, and a massive amount of pointless vivisection in the process [see: http://aillas.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/homeopathic-hypocracy-and-vivisection.html%5D.

    Niall

    • But as bad evidence goes, it is pretty good.

      Perhaps that in and of itself warrants at least one free chapter? Not even a book jacket?

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