MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Many posts on this blog have highlighted the fact that homeopathic remedies, when tested in rigorous RCTs, are demonstrably nothing more than pure placebos. Homeopaths, of course, negate this fact but here is a surprising bit of new evidence that further confirms it – and it comes from the highest authority in homeopathy: from Samuel Hahnemann himself!

A well known psychic has been in contact with the great doctor who consequently has dictated a letter to her. Here it is (it came in German, but I took the liberty of translating it into English):

TO ALL HOMEOPATHS OF THE WORLD

I have been watching what you have been doing with my noble healing art for some time now, and I cannot hold back any longer. Enough is enough. You are all fools, bloody fools!

Sceptics and scientists and anyone else who can read the research that has been done with those ‘randomised trials’ that the allopaths are currently so fond of should know that homeopathic medicines, as you monumental idiots employ them, are ineffective. The results of these studies are perfectly true. Instead of asking yourself what you are doing wrong and how you are disobeying my most explicit orders, you insist on doubting that these modern methods generate the truth. How incredibly stupid you are!

I have provided you with a detailed set of instructions – but does any of you pseudo-homeopaths follow them? No, no, no! You are all traitors and ignorant dilettantes. Read my Organon and follow what I wrote; there is no need to re-invent the rules.

Let me remind you what I said in the Organon; I made it perfectly clear that a person receiving homeopathy must have:

  • no coffee
  • no spices
  • no carbonated drinks
  • no use of perfumes
  • no smoked meat
  • no cheese
  • no duck
  • no shellfish
  • no large amounts of animal fat
  • no sausages
  • no spicy sauces
  • no pastries or cakes
  • no radishes
  • no celery
  • no onions or garlic
  • no parsley
  • no pepper
  • no mustard
  • no vanilla
  • no bitter almonds
  • no cloves
  • no cinnamon
  • no fennel
  • no anise
  • no green tea
  • no spiced chocolate
  • no liquors
  • no herbal teas
  • no tooth powder
  • no excessive labour
  • no mental exercise

That is simple enough, isn’t it? Or are you too moronic to follow even the simplest of instructions? As you constantly ignore my orders, how do you think my medicines can work?

Those who insist that the current evidence for homeopathy is negative are entirely correct. It is negative because you have been witless and incompetent! I have said it before and I say it again: HE WHO DOES NOT WALK ON EXACTLY THE SAME LINE WITH ME, WHO DIVERGES, IF IT BE BUT THE BREADTH OF A STRAW, TO THE RIGHT OR TO THE LEFT, IS AN APOSTATE AND A TRAITOR, AND WITH HIM I WILL HAVE NOTHING TO SAY.

Now, instead of finding excuses, go home and contemplate what I am telling you. Then do the right thing, conduct a randomised trial testing my proper method, and you will see.

I am very annoyed with all of you! And I am fast running out of patience.

Do as I say or become an allopath.

Sincerely angry

Samuel Hahnemann

At this point, I should admit that the letter was, of course, not written by the inventor of homeopathy but by me, Edzard Ernst. Yet it could have been written by him; historians invariably describe him as intolerant, cantankerous and inflexible. Crucially, the dietary instructions outlined in the letter are those of Hahnemann as outlined in the ‘Organon’, his ‘opus maximus’. If he could send a letter via a psychic, Hahnemann would certainly complain about his followers disobeying his orders and he most likely would do it in a most disgruntled tone (the sentence in capital letters is actually a quote from Hahnemann).

This post is a bit of innocent fun, sure. But it also has some relevance to today’s homeopathy, I hope: modern homeopaths make a big thing out of following Hahnemann’s gospel to the letter. But, if we look carefully, we find that they only follow some of it, while ignoring entire sections of what their ‘über-guru’ told them. They argue that these bits are useless or erroneous or implausible and they want to be seen to be scientific and evidence-based. The obvious truth, however, is that everything Hahnemann has ever written about homeopathy is useless, erroneous and implausible and nothing of it is scientific or evidence-based. Homeopaths should draw the only possible conclusion and ignore the lot!

62 Responses to Why homeopathy doesn’t work!…… Samuel Hahnemann gives the answer…(finally)

  • “nor mental exercise”

    That explains every single homeopathy fanatic I’ve ever come across.

  • Doesn’t the Organon also require exercise? Lots of walks in the country?

  • Another thought… As I understand it, Hahnemann considered that succussion in the course of making homeopathic dilutions was most effective when fluid containers were banged on a leather-bound book, preferably a bible. Do present-day manufacturers of homeopathic medicines stick to this requirement? If they use a leather-bound bible, did Hahnemann indicate whether this should be a German bible, an English bible, or some other language? Can you enlighten us, Prof. Ernst? If we’re going to adopt a system of medicine it’s clearly important that every detail should be right.

    • There will, undoubtedly, be different factions within the cult of homeopathy who adhere to the belief that only a German leather-bound bible will do and will be able to regale you with an anecdote about the time they left their German bible at home and – in an emergency – they had to use a King James and how it produced the opposite effect to what it should have…

      However, machines such as the ‘Pinkus Potentiser’ that shake the water usually bang the vial against a rubber pad. It’s not clear how they have determined equivalence.

      And never ask two homeopaths how many times it’s supposed to be banged. It’ll only start an argument.

      • Hahnemann was also worried about the transportation of his remedies and advised his followers to be careful that, when they used a horse carriage to see a patient, they must take special precautions that the remedies do not shake. This could make them so potent that it would endanger the health of the patients.
        I KID YOU NOT!

        • He also advised homoeopaths not to carry remedies in their waistcoat pockets in case they increaed the potency as they walked around. Presumably, on this principle, homoeopathic remedies could be used as a sort of pedometer, if only there were some way of actually measuring the potency of a remedy. “The potency has gone up from 30C to 44C, that means you have walked seven miles today!”

        • Edzard said:

          I KID YOU NOT!

          Oh, it’s OK. Nothing homeopaths say – no matter how wrong, dangerous or stupid – surprises me these days.

      • There were indeed two factions; the English Bible and the German Bible faction.

        They gave up homeopathy fairly quickly and founded the Left Twix and Right Twix factories.

  • Well, looking at the long list of what you should not eat or drink, you cannot help but wondering what is left. I guess, Hahnemann just formed a principle of treatment that should have the potential to cure all the diseases this world has to offer:

    Just quit feeding the patient.

    And you will be astonished of the power of this therapy. No patient has to die of cancer, pneumonia, sepsis or whatever else any more. If the patient dies of a natural cause – and dieing by starvation and dehydration is completely natural – then the patient can be counted as cured.

    Medicine can be so easy and cheap…

  • Hahnemann did actually say (para 283 in 1st edition of the Organon)

    ” The doctrine of the divisibility of matter teaches us that we cannot make a part so small that it shall cease to be something, and that it shall not share all the properties of the whole.”

    and later, in a letter, referring to dilution,

    ““Es muss ein Ende geben, es kann nicht bis ins Unendliche weitergehen”
    (“There must be some limit to the thing. It cannot go on to infinity”

    But Hahnemann died in 1843, and the first numerical estimate of Avogadro’s number was not made until 1865, by Johann Josef Loschmidt (1821 – 1895). It is Loschmidt, not Avogadro, who discovered the crucial numerical value of ‘Avogadro’s number‘, and in the German literature it is known, properly, as Loschmidt’sche Zahl.

    It follows that Hahnemann had no way to calculate that his dilutions went too far. If he’d lived another 25 years he really would have renounced homeopathy. That would have saved us a lot of trouble (and saved some lives).

    More details at Hahnemann would have thought modern homeopaths were barmy.

    • At least Hahnemann had an excuse for getting it all so wrong. The same can’t be said for homeopath today.

    • Interesting link, this is.

      Hahnemann was not stupid – and it is an interesting train of thoughts to wonder what his views would be about todays ‘Classical Homeopathy’ and all the other fragrancies it comes in today. Ad how he would express his views. From what I read about Hahnemann’s character, spiced up by age, I guess Edzard’s letter here does not really give a true impression.

  • And another thing… Hahnemann pulled the concept of “like cures like” from his fundament not long after the first ever defineably scientific clinical trial was done: to find the cause of scurvy. James Lind (1754) divided sailors suffering from scurvy into small groups and fed them different acids thought to cure the disease. The group (n=2!) fed citrus fruits recovered. Thus, in the case of scurvy, like had nothing in the wildest imagination to do with the cure of like.

    The “like cures like” hypothesis took another dive with the discovery of the “germ theory of disease”. Or, to put it another way, the realization that microbes, spread via inhalation, ingestion, direct contact or vector injection were the source of many (most?) of the illnesses that killed people.

    So why, in 2014, are we still awash with people who seriously believe that the tenets of homeopathy make sense? Are our systems of education really sufficient to defend against folklore, superstition and respect for magical remedies?

  • Who are you Edward ? to answer such a question as a representative of Great Hahnemann . Shear Nonsense! Homeopathic remedies are not placeboes,If any RCT has tested it as placebo effect,It is because of their ignorance in Homeopathy,And This can not define this vast science anyway. Now a sincere reply to your words (which was first described by you as Hahnemann’s) Hahnemann was a man of wisdom, He can never call his own followers fools,He knows no one is perfect ,No one become wise in a night,Hahnemann was wise enough to not demoralise people and complain,but He was a scientist,A real scientist don’t complain,He investigates and work hard to find solution. To know homeopathy or any other science we must have a scientific approach towards understanding.Imitating anyone we can only become an animal.If we go for just following orders without using our mental faculties,what is the difference between a superstitious person and a scientist or a doctor or a science student. Lets have an example Newton given The Law of Gravitation,we don’t follow the law of gravitation because It’s great great Law given by Great man Newton but we study this law,follow it,because We investigated for ourselves,by working out calculations ,deriving the law by ourselves and then on the basis of such realistic approach to physics or the Law we follow them.And we say that “Yes it exists.” Similarly If Hahnemann has given a law ,We must have to follow the same course to understand.That is intelligent stydy,based on realistic experiances. If you talk of a subject,Which we just need to muggle up and follow,its’s never sience. To understand any science you must have sincere analysis,investigation based on realistic experiances. Now come to the list you given.I think you’ve made a mistake saying “you must have” It’s “you must not have”. Is not it?Firstly go through the organon properly Hahnemann’s was not that big,If that would be the case it’s impossible to follow. It’s stupid saying ,Follow my order!Follow my order! and obey them without making a single mistake. And if you are not able to follow it as it is. then you are declared as fool?ideot?traitor?stupid? That’s disgusting. Its like a cattle grazer shouting at his cattle. Hahnemann was a man of wisdom.Do you even know ,What does that mean? It’s not ever discouraging people with harsh words ,but a wise man knows how to encourage people to manifest the hidden wisdom in their heart of each and every human being. And my heartly request to you, If you have not perceived a science by analysing it,experiacing it,at least don’t give a single statement like that. Homeopathy works and it works miracles. If you don’t know things keep your mouth shut,don’t make fun of science which is helping millions around the world. Thank you Dare to be wise. Dare to be truthful.

    • “Who are you Edward ?”
      well, if you are not bright enough to copy my name correctly – perhaps you should post your nonsense elsewhere.

      • You sir are a royal penis! Have you thought about seeking mental help? Perhaps you need to visit your local homeopath for an extra high potency remedy to deal with your little diseased mind?

  • i am not a great proponent of homeopathy but the cult of anti homeopathy is much worse than the cult of pro homeopathy. it’s not even close. i have found that remedies have worked and have not. same goes for allopathy and other alternative treatments. just because i did n’t have success with one doesn’t mean the whole discipline is worthless. cripes people, get a grip.

    but back to the matter at hand. yes, i suppose it must be fun to make fun of a medical pioneer because you don’t agree with the practice based on his work. but if you are going to do so, please remember one thing. hahnemann went the direction he went in because he studied to be a doctor and adamantly disagreed with BLOODLETTING!

    so, by the same logic, should we not throw out allopathic medicine because doctors used to bloodlet, use leaches and incarcerated ignaz semmelweis(the man who got medical science to wash their hands) in a mental institute where he died?

    • by the same logic, should we not throw out allopathic medicine because doctors used to bloodlet, use leaches and incarcerated ignaz semmelweis…

      No, and your sentence already contains the reason why. Doctors used to do these things. By contrast, 200 years ago Hahnemann hypothesized ex culo the ‘law of similia’ and the principle of potentization by massive dilution of substances, with shaking. It would be wonderful if we could say homeopaths used to do these things that fly in the face of all current knowledge, but they’re still doing them! Real medicine moves on while homeopathy remains firmly rooted in its past.

      Yes, Hahnemann was right to realize that bloodletting was not benefitting patients, but everything else he came up with was palpably wrong. (We can add to homeopathy his coffee theory of disease and his belief in psora.) By rights he should be a footnote of medical history, along with people such as Franz Joseph Gall, Vincenz Priessnitz, Adolph Just and Antoine Béchamp.

  • such a scathing tone! such closed minds! it’s dangerous to be so, so sure of one’s self. one always has to keep questioning. homeopathy seems to go against what is currrently known scientifically, that is true. the idea of it gave me trouble for many years, that is until somebody helped me, very well and very quickly, with homeopathy. at that time, i realized that the scientific world as i knew it simply wasn’t big enough. it didn’t have enough flexibility or broad enough ideas, that is at least not down at the level where I and those I knew were operating. if you look at advanced physics, you can definitely find support for homeopathic ideas. now, i have stopped worrying about what scientists think is true or not true, as i use homeopathy every day, and am a practicing homeopath, helping people in ways that conventional medicine cannot. i wish you well but your contemptuous tone does not serve anybody.

    • ” i have stopped worrying about what scientists think is true or not true, as i use homeopathy every day, and am a practicing homeopath”
      I presume, you also use a flying carpet instead of an aeroplane then?

      • I’ve read some of the posts here back and forth and thought i’d just give my two cents on the whole issue. This comes from my first hand experience.

        I have a family member who’s a Homeopath and studied for many years (5+ years if i’m not mistaken) at Arcanum Uni in classical Homeopathy. Since then this person has had more than 20 years of experience and a steady stream of “patients”. However.

        I was always very skeptic. I was very skeptic of the whole science as a whole, including the “purification process” which to me sounded ridiculous. I wouldn’t call my self naive or gullible (yet that is a very subjective evaluation of course).

        During the years, i mostly declined the offers i had for treatment when i had different problems or illnesses of various kinds. Even though i sometimes got a glimpse – read or heard – by accident – how patients were praising the treatment and the results it gave. Even though, i always accepted the cure for the common cold. It came in the form of (if i remember correctly) ‘Hepar Sulfur” which i administered just when i got the first symptoms of a cold. It worked close to 100% of the times and i think i had only one episode of being cold with fever in 15 years.

        Yet i remained semi skeptical. When i got older and moved to a different location far away from being able to get the Homeopathic care for free from my family member, i started to get the cold almost every winter. Bad colds with bad fever.

        To get to the main point i wanted to write about… During the years i started to develop a really bad back. Sometimes it was so bad i could barely get up and walk properly. I had used regular pain-killers for my back, and sometimes even the really strong ones.

        This is what changed my opinion… One time when home where i grew up, close to my family member who’s a Homeopath, i had a really bad episode regarding my back. I was mostly lying in the sofa, and could barely get up (i moved like a 110 year old, figuratively speaking). Now i decided to test the homeopathy, with a fair amount of skepticism. Thinking there was no way anything could match regular pain-killers i asked for something for my back. I was offered “a quick and fast working remedy” for my back. I accepted (thinking it could not be possible for it to work, the pain and my movement was just to impaired).

        Long story short. I took the medicine – laid in the sofa for about 30 minutes. During this time i was watching TV, and some how i totally forgot i had taken the medication. I was upstairs and something had me focused on going downstairs.

        I flew up from the sofa and took 8-10 rapid paced steps before stopping dead in my tracks just standing there. WHAT JUST HAPPENED?! The pain was almost gone and the movement was 100% back. I flew up from the sofa with no trouble at all! I could not believe it! I was so bewildered – it was not supposed to work like this?!

        Well, this is my honest and truthful story on why i’m sure there’s more to it than placebo. I’ve had a lot of benefit from Homeopathic remedies later on.

        I understand the skepticism and i think it’s very natural to be skeptic, but i speak from my experiences. One thing i’m sure of on the other hand is that it’s very important for the Homeopath to be well educated and experienced, and know what and how to administer.

        I wish you would give it a chance, as full of skepticism as you want Edzard. As long as you manage to find a good Homeopath. It could really change your mind – I’m very sure of it.

        This became longer than i thought. Hope it was of some benefit!

        Take care you all!

        Best Regards,

        William

  • Skepticism had an excuse when avogadro published his theory. But not after quantum mechanics was developed.
    Now it is known that information (quantum) can’t be deleted whatsoever. And information behaves like matter particles is also understood by physics.
    Hence the argument “homeopathy violates every known facts of science” doesn’t prevail. But sceptics don’t seem to be aware of this.

    • you don’t say!

    • You are right inasmuch as entropy and information can be regarded as the same thing, but you have it backwards.

      Matter in an organised state requires less information to describe it than in a disorganised state. If you are proposing that homeopathic potentiation works by imposing the memory of the active ingredient on the solvent, this implies an increase in order (i.e. a decrease in entropy) and therefore a loss of information.

    • Dear sir, perhaps would you be so kind as to explain Quantum Information Theory to those of us here not fortunate enough to possess your quantum intellect? In particular, please clarify just what it is that distinguishes your particular qubit of information from all the other qubits in your 100C bottle of water, and detail the process by which said qubit “corrects” classical information systems such as bowel cancer and rabies.

      I can’t guarantee we’ll understand a word of it, but at least you’ll be good for a Nobel or two.

      • I think this is his explanation, posted to Twitter for peer review a few years ago:

        Homeopathy is quantum equivalent
        If A represent Arsenic alb & B, Belladonna, their orthogonality takes the form – Quantum nonsense

        I don’t think therr’s anything missing…

        • Sorry, my math is shot. Is that a formal proof that homeopaths are orthogonal to reality?

        • This calculation can be used as a basis for more complex orthogonality.
          ie for the complex remedy:
          Echinacea,Drosera,Zingiber,Anarcardium,Rhus tox,Dulcamara
          This results in my famous equation
          E.D.Z.A.R.D=0

          For my explanation though I prefer to use Sin0 =zero due to quantum, auric interactions

          • a new high in well-reasoned argument, no doubt.

          • @Dendra: Now you may think you’re being funny here, but all you’re really proving is just how scientifically and intellectually bankrupt you truly are. At least poor Venkatesh is genuinely delusional enough to believe his nonsensical butchering of middle school math actually means something profound. Yours is just cynical poop-flinging at your comrade’s expense. Duly noted. Well done.

  • In that case conservation of information is wrong. I just thought what Susskind established after a long verbal battle with Stphen Hawking was a universal law.
    And reality has no different rules for different purposes. If you are smart enough and capable of understanding the materia medica with the remedy relationships ( Gibson miller’s) it is not difficult to see that every remedy is orthogonal to every other remedy in a Hilbert space.
    Just take pains to rule out this feature. If you are a scientist and understand the significance of abstract vector spaces and the maths, ( & not a senile in a hurry to achieve your life’s ultimate objective of self realisation by hook or crook) I don’t think you will ever succeed.

    • this looks to me as though written by someone who as absolutely no clue but does not know himself how deluded he is.

      • “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

        “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

        “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

    • “In that case conservation of information is wrong”
      No it isn’t. But I think you are misunderstanding what is information. It is not the same thing as meaning.

      Think of lossless compression of a computer file as an analogy. Supposing the file contained an image of a page of text printed in black and white – this could be compressed quite efficiently without discarding any information. Indeed, if it were converted to a text file, it could be still smaller than the compressed image. Compare this with a file containing an image of random pixels – it could not be compressed at all. So the random pixels require a lot more information to describe them than the text, even though the information is meaningless.

  • memory of every event, including a simple clapping of the hands is stored in the environment as information. I don’t want to mock at your ignorance. But try to understand.
    This information is retrievable by appropriate measurements ( again quantum mechanics)
    My concept of information isn’t the problem. Please ascertain whether you are abreast with science.

    • Please ascertain whether you are abreast with science and tell me – using your quantum method – whether or not I snored while sleeping last night and, if so, for how long.

    • “This information is retrievable by appropriate measurements ( again quantum mechanics)”
      I think this would violate Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.

      • Comedy gold!

      • Julian

        It was a particularly fine moment on Twitter a few years ago when Prof Jim Al-Khalili told Venky that his hafwitted corruptions of quantum mechanics were completely wrong and proceded to demonstrate swiftly and succinctly why. Curious how Venky forgets this. Other mathematicians have also offered to show Venky where and why he is completely wrong but of course Venky will not listen and continues to spout gibberish. Even by the standards of homeopaths he’s an odd one.

        • As they say on TV: Got Links? I genuinely think Venkatesh is several succussions short of a full potentization. Sad, but as a not-quite-right-in-the-head person myself I’m firmly with Bill Burroughs on this. At least it makes a change to the endlessly diarrhetic narcissism of most #TrueWoos.

        • Thank-you for enlightening me. I had no idea who he was and was just taking his posts at face value – i.e. they were plainly nonsense.

  • Don’t make mockery of reality. Either you are not capable of comprehending the significance of the “Law of Conservation of information” or overconfident that it isn’t applicable to something you think isn’t genuine.
    Again retrieval of such information is epistemically not forbidden. I am astonished the way you are unaware of the nature of the retrieval though it is quite well known that the environment upon measurement would yield outcomes having correlation to the information so stored. Even information sent to a blackhole thought to be lost would be stored until the blackhole eventually dies. The resultant hawking radiation upon measurement would have correlation to the information so sent into it during its lifetime.
    This aspect has been ultimately accepted by Stephen Hawking after a pronged verbal battle with Prof Leonard Susskind. For this victory Susskind is now hailed as the Scientist who made the world safe for quantum mechanics.
    And don’t tell things that undermine your knowledge just for the sake of nurturing your favourite delusion.

  • But you know none of ur sarcasms are going to help you demolish the argument “information of the dissolved substance can’t be deleted by the process of serial dilutions”
    And there would be correlation to the original substance if measured ( obseved) the way they are administered to susceptible targets- is also something consistent with established science.

  • Hi has
    Using my highly advanced quantum puppet on a string theory I have derived the following equation. I will save you from the quantum Math which you wouldn’t understand but I am certain of it.
    h.a.s=P.L.A.N.C.K

  • Dear participants I have seen somewhere in the discussions word “quantum”. I am a Homoeopath and an industrial Chemist. Started my chemical experience in 1968 and that of homoeopathy in 1993. Fully convinced of miracles in homoeopathic treatment wondred how does it work. I snicerely believe we are not able to measure the quantity of substance in a homoeopathic dilution but still we see dlutions are made and they work. How a material insoluble in water or alcohol “disappers” so to say, after making 6X potency and so on. As a Chemist I firmly believe “material” is still there in the homoeopathic dilution but the particle size has broken down to an un-measurable size. Founders of homoeopathy discovered the material is homoeopathic dilutions have become more effective. Today in chemistry and to some extent in medicine it has been observed that by breaking down particles size of substance we make them more effictive nanoparticles of an emulsions are being used effectively. Like nanoemulsions in textile and allied industries specially that of silicon and acrylates. We can say that effectiveness of nanoparticles discovered today was discovered long ago by fathers of homoeopathy. Quantum theory and nanoparticles explain very well the effectiveness of homoeopathic remedy.

    • “As a Chemist I firmly believe “material” is still there in the homoeopathic dilution but the particle size has broken down to an un-measurable size.”
      What is the basis for this strange belief, which is incompatible with the molecular and atomic theories on which modern chemistry is founded?

  • Muhammad Shibli Raza said:

    how does it work.

    First, provide robust evidence it does work. Then there might be something worth expending energy on trying to explain.

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