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

Vis a vis the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, why are there so many clinicians (doctors as well as lay practitioners) who still believe that homeopathy is working? And why are there so many patients who still believe that homeopathy is working?

These are questions that puzzle me quite a bit.

Of course, there is no simple, single answer; there are probably dozens. But one reason must be that there are only three possible outcomes after homeopathic treatments, all of which are favourable for homeopathy (at least in the interpretation of proponents of homeopathy). Seen in this light, there simply is no better therapy!

Let me explain:

If a patient consults a homeopath who prescribes a highly diluted homeopathic remedy, she might subsequently:

  1. get better,
  2. get worse,
  3. or experience no change at all.

Analysing these three possibilities, we quickly see that, from the point of view of a convinced homeopath, all are a proof for homeopathy’s effectiveness, and none suggests that the scientific evidence is correct in claiming that highly diluted homeopathic remedies are pure placebos.

SCENARIO 1

In this situation, it is easy to assume that the remedy was the cause for the clinical improvement. Most clinicians of any discipline fall into this trap, and most patients follow them willingly. Yet, we all know that a temporal relationship is not the same as a causal one (the crowing of a cock before dawn is not the cause of the sun rising). Of course, it is conceivable that the treatment was the cause, but there are several other possibilities as well; just think of the placebo effect, regression towards the mean, and the natural history of the disease. In our case, these non-specific effects are most certainly the cause of our patient’s improvement.

SCENARIO 2

Most clinicians in this situation would start wondering whether they have employed the correct therapy for this patient’s condition – not so the homeopath! He would triumphantly exclaim: “excellent, you are experiencing a ‘homeopathic aggravation’. This is a sure sign that I have given you the optimal remedy. Things will get better soon.” A homeopathic aggravation occurs, according to homeopathic logic, because homeopathy follows the ‘like cures like’ principle. The homeopath prescribes the remedy that would normally cause the symptoms from which his patient is suffering. This means it must also cause these symptoms in every patient. Usually these aggravations are not strong enough to be noticed, but when they are, it is interpreted by homeopaths as a triumph of homeopathy.

SCENARIO 3

In this situation, the homeopath has several options. He can claim “but without my remedy you would be much worse by now. The fact that you are not, shows how very effective homeopathy really is. A more humble homeopaths might explain that the optimal remedy is not always easy to find straight away, and he would therefore proceed in prescribing another one. In both cases, the patient is kept paying for more and homeopathy is presented as an effective therapy.

These three scenarios clearly show that there is no conceivable outcome where any homeopathy-fan would need to consider that scientists are correct in stating that homeopathy is ineffective. And this is one of the reasons why the myth of homeopathy’s effectiveness persists.

Hold on … the patient might be dead!

Yes, that is a rather unfortunate situation for any clinician – except for a homeopath, of course. He would simply point out that the patient must have forgotten to take her medicine. A conventional practitioner might get in trouble, if he tried that excuse; one could easily measure blood levels of the prescribed drug and verify the claim. Not so in homeopathy! Because they contain not a single active molecule, homeopathic remedies are undetectable!

We can easily see that there is no better treatment than homeopathy – at least for the homeopath!

 

 

55 Responses to There is no better treatment than homeopathy – at least for the homeopath!

  • Also don’t forget that every ‘remedy’ may be associated with well over a hundred ‘symptoms’ and vice versa, so no matter if the first (or second, or third, or fourth…) remedy didn’t alleviate the problem, there are many, many more to try! It’s just a matter of never giving up hope (and of course keep on paying the homeopath)!

    This is so much better that those dumb allopathic doctors, who usually throw in the towel after trying a few interventions, and tell the patient that “They will have to live with it”.

  • Ernst, dear chap.

    For once I agree with your blog title.

    At least the first half of it, in many cases “There is no better treatment than homeopathy”.

    Is the heat affecting you? It has been damnably warm. I hope you and yours are well (if not, there are remedies).

    Once again, TL;DR – the actual homeopathic approach differs from the parody offered by its pseudo-skeptical opponents.

    But someone, somewhere may learn something. You can lead a horse to water…

    SCENARIO 1 Regression to normal.
    Much better employ a substance unlikely to be harmful, wouldn’t you say, rather than use something potent off-label as a placebo (as many admit to doing)? Except and unless you are selling the off-label product, of course, and want to maintain an illusion of superiority in public. As for diagnostic ability, competence, and clinical error, that varies on both sides of the fence. Level field, I would say.

    I suspect the concept of regression to mean is a reason that homeopathy denialists rather seek to restrict the use of homeopathy to self-limiting conditions – the fear is that it could ably demonstrate itself, as seen in myriad clinical reports.
    But of course something actually being seen to happen does not constitute EBM (at least in the vision of some SBM types), and we know the status of anecdote, even in the millions. Not all EBMers agree of course.

    SCENARIO 2 Aggravation.

    Homeopaths most certainly WILL recognise “wrong remedy” in rare cases of wrong prescription, or as used by those who do not understand and are attempting to treat the disease and not the person.
    Homeopaths also recognise wrong usage of an appropriate remedy, leading to problems.

    Homeopaths can also correct these problems, whilst others who do not understand the nature of the homeopathy, cannot.

    From those distant, forgotten days when you earnestly studied homeopathy yourself, do you not recall Hering’s rule of Cure?
    You might refresh your memory from available websites.
    https://www.hri-research.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/HRI_ResearchArticle_18_Harrison_HELAT.pdf

    Indeed, this Rule of Cure – direction of cure – was once mainstream. Every so often there is research aimed at resurrecting it for conventional use. This dates from about 1865, and is a a development of Hahnemann’s original recorded observations as he cured patients.

    It guides us all as to whether a reaction to any intervention is positive – possibly involving a brief unwelcome repetition of an old symptom, and a historic rolling back of earlier diseases – or else is certainly adverse and worsening. Homeopaths find it invaluable. Others may see it as mumbo-jumbo, particularly if that is how they want to see it. I have observed it myself.

    Conversely, perhaps we can agree that if an intervention brings on a serious new condition, which is worse that the condition it was meant to treat, then it is probably not suited to the patient. (Agree? Perhaps not, who knows?) Homeopaths know that too, it’s taught as part of the system.

    There is also the case of the “wrong patient” – a semi-humorous description of someone incapable of understanding or following instruction, or who does not treat the matter seriously. Includes most pseudo-skeptics. Also those overly indoctrinated with what we have recently come to call conventional medicine, and so use a wrong approach.
    ‘Wrong patient’ (in association with wrong MD) also includes those who ‘treat’ re-emerging historical symptoms as if they are adverse, despite having been forewarned – thus impeding proper complete cure and potentially leading into further complications.

    Knowing that a remedy may be wrongly chosen is part of the homeopathic system, as observed in practice and confirmed for well over a century, following on from original writings about actual clinical cases. In bulk.

    The occasional harmless but unconstructive use of a sub-optimal or incorrect remedy, followed by a clear result from a correct choice, also goes towards confirming the efficacy of the method (at least in our feeble imaginations – a proper pseudo-skeptic won’t accept anything).
    Some homeopaths have even been known to do this on purpose, just to rule out the placebo effect. (Just as there are recorded reports of a faked remedy from a fraudulent compounder – probably a skeptic, but a crook anyway – being supplied and failing, but the same remedy re-ordered from an honest pharmacy and curing the case.)
    Knowing the homeopathic prescription and the expected sequence of results is essential to proper understanding.

    I think someone did write a mumbo-jumbo paper a while back, conflating all of these incidental transient symptoms as adverse, regardless of homeopathic assessment, outcome or potential outcome. I thought this showed wilful ignorance of the subject, in effect a study of a straw man – so-called “knocking research”. No doubt you know that paper (was it you?); someone maybe should do a better job one day. But as I often say, all research is interesting, even if wrongly-motivated and poorly designed, so long as it is not misinterpreted.

    Conventional aggravations – agreed, these tend to be more clear, of variable seriousness, of variable permanence – death being an occasional permanent outcome, but everyone tries to avoid that, don’t they? Some people even test for susceptibility in the individual before use – say in the case of a penicillins.
    On the webs and from personal encounters, I find it reported that very often a conventional adverse effect is treated with disbelief, or referred to MH as a non-problem. Part of the cult and indoctrination, I think. Some adverse effects get reported (for example in the US FAERS system – far too many?), but are generally treated as a ‘side’ issue for around ten years or until the patent runs out. In patient reports found below the usual official top-of-search web links, one can naturally expect to find rather more unaccepted ‘side’ effects. They are reporting things ignored by the establishment. As an anecdotal case in point, someone I knew well suffered multiple problems from a common medication which was at the time officially reasonably innocent. An off-mainstream web search found all of them in a long list, and indeed years later they made their way into the mainstream. A triumph for the system! And a vindication for anyone else (unlike my friend) mistreated and referred to MH in the mean time.

    SCENARIO 3 No change. The homeopath sees wrong remedy, no question.
    Partial change, amelioration, no permanent cure – probably wrong remedy, maybe a need to remove ‘obstruction to cure’ or constitutional treatment

    SCENARIO 4 You missed this one, Edzard.
    Patient presents with many different morbid conditions. Conventional prescription of a whole bunch of standard nostrums (not ever tested in combination, of course) leads to adverse effects, which in turn lead to further sales aimed at containing (suppressing) the iatrogenic problems. Very profitable model. Sometimes a pharmacist may review or catch syllogisms, offer updated advice. Patient is dependent, gets worse, dies.
    That’s a caricature, of course, but I’m sure many people will recognise the scenario.

    A similar patient presents to a homeopath, maybe having given up on conventional treatment. Prescription is heretical, according to the individual patient’s reactions to the various assaults upon the system. It is a minimal intervention, maybe one dose of one remedy. Whilst individual symptoms may be controlled until they disappear, the homeopath aims to cure without polypharmacy – according to all those observed and recorded cases in the past.

    So there we see how an actual homeopathic approach compares to the imaginary straw homeopath bogey-man as envisaged by a pseudo-skeptic.

    • After reading this post, I am moved to quote Wolfgang Pauli:
      “Das ist nicht nur nicht richtig; es ist nicht einmal falsch!”

    • If anyone ever was in doubt about “the homeopathic approach”, “Will” may very well have managed to remove these altogether with this masterpiece of his (hers?). The conclusion for most readers is though not what he or she is probably hoping for.

      The Swedes have several idioms to somewhat politely describe the problem with homeopathic reasoning, so brilliantly represented by “Will” here.
      One may be translated to: “Their horses are not all at home”,
      another might read: “They have elves in the attic”

      😀

    • Fascinating to read such a lengthy account and gain a small insight into the staggering level of compounded self-delusion under which homeopaths labour.

    • TLDR indeed, except that I did.

      “Hering’s rule of Cure”

      Thatnk you for bringing that up. It’s effectively a description of the natural history of some diseases that homeopaths repackage as if they abused it.

      My cat used to roll around on our shed roof to show off. Sometimes he fell off in front of us. He would jump up, shake of the dust and strut away with the obvious air of someone who meant to do that.

      By further strange coincidence, he knew as much about medicine and science as the typical homeopath.

      • Autocorrect playing silly buggers, then my post not being visible until after the editing period had lapsed.

        “TLDR indeed, except that I did.

        “Hering’s rule of Cure”

        Thank you for bringing that up. It’s effectively a description of the natural history of some diseases that homeopaths repackage as if they caused it.

        My cat used to roll around on our shed roof to show off. Sometimes he fell off in front of us. He would jump up, shake of the dust and strut away with the obvious air of someone who meant to do that.

        By further strange coincidence, he knew as much about medicine and science as the typical homeopath.”

        Mind you, the original version was unintentionally accurate.

    • TL;DR: After the word “pseudo-skeptic(s)” comes up a couple of times, you can almost safely ignore the opinion.

    • Will

      “From those distant, forgotten days when you earnestly studied homeopathy yourself, do you not recall Hering’s rule of Cure?”

      You really believe Edzard knows a bit about homeopathy? A student of homeopathy, who does not know the difference between Aconite and Belladone in fever, or the one red line symptom of Lachesis, or why Phosphorous can be dangerous is either a liar or a very bad student.

      And you are trying to explain him Hering? Even if you hit him with an onion, he will not understand. He should be left with his fistful of daily tablets, that have zero evidence to be used together and the subsequent consequences. The best result of teaching is self experience.

      • Ah, Hering’s rule of cure… another completely unsubstantiated idea. You can even find homeopaths struggling with this stupidity in some rare moments of reason.

        This gentleman here begins his article in a very straightforward manner: Hering’s Law: Law, Rule or Dogma? Going on to say:

        So far, however, I have been unable to substantiate Hering’s law. Indeed, very rarely do I see, for instance, in a patient with chronic polyarthritis, the symptoms disappearing from the head first and then to the hands and feet. More often, the pain and other joint symptoms disappear in the reverse order of their appearance, even if it is from below upwards. In other words, if the arthritis manifested itself, as it happens at times, first in the knees and then in the ankles, the ankles would get better before the knees.

        The gentleman is naturally struck with disillusionment when he sees that what he was taught is not validated in practice! He carried on to wonder:

        What was wrong with Hering’s law as quoted above from Kent’s Lectures on Homeopathic Philosophy? Had I misunderstood the law?

        And then again:

        Was I the only practitioner in this position?
        I questioned teachers and colleagues, some with many years of experience. Few could answer my questions and none has been able to substantiate from their own experience without the shadow of a doubt that Hering’s law was a true law of nature.

        After going on in ample depth to trace and analyze various original sources, he understands that:

        with Kent’s powerful influence, most modern works and presentations on homeopathy began to declare Hering’s law as an established fact and seemingly assumed that it has been thoroughly verified since the beginning of homeopathy, although no author, to my knowledge, has so far been able to substantiate what each is repeating from the other. Here is one clear sign which indicates how profoundly the homeopathic profession of today has been cut off from its original and most essential sources. During the years of its decline in the U.S. the profession experienced a gradual discontinuity from its original foundation and started to rely more and more on a neo-foundation dating back to the turn of the present century. Each new generation of homeopaths has readily accepted Hering’s law as a perfect law of cure and so unintentionally perpetuated a misleading assumption. For students it is an attractive concept but we clinicians must stand up and report our observations even if they are contrary to the teaching we have received.

        Then, to majestically demonstrate the struggle between reason and blind faith, he goes on to say:

        In many cases of chronic disease the direction of disappearance of symptoms will contradict at least one of the four propositions. I assume that we all agree that the enunciation of a law must be based on impeccable observations. A law, if it is to be called a law, must explain all observable phenomena of direction of cure. It is unacceptable to use limited or even selected clinical phenomena to confirm a supposed law.

        This situation appears to exist when certain homeopaths in their attempts to defend “pure” homeopathy subscribe to the position that what is observed as contrary to Hering’s law, as formulated by Kent, is only due to poor prescribing, suppressive at times, palliative at best but surely not curative. For them what is wrong, is not the law but the prescription: “the simillimum was not given.”

        The gentleman does not seem to understand that this is his precise attitude and opinion when faced with stubborn non-resolving cases…at least until they resolve. The similimum was not given! Or, in other words, we have to keep delaying proper treatment, while asking the patient even more completely irrelevant questions searching.

        Pure cognitive dissonance! “Schools” of homeopathy are effectively destroying students’ critical faculties and this constitutes what is typically left over…in the best of cases, that is. Those are the remnants of this onslaught against reason and rationality, that homeopathy teachings have to offer.

  • Edzard

    After so many years of experience in writing stories, you remain rather dogmatic in your out pouring. It would be interesting for all for you to become more imaginative in your story telling.

    For example, when one uses homeopathy, they stop falling sick or only contact self limiting diseases. For example, our family for 3 generations did not use any allopathic drug. Courtesy, homeopath doctors in the family.

    • For example, when one uses homeopathy, they stop falling sick or only contact self limiting diseases.

      If they’re lucky. Otherwise…

      • My grandfather used to smoke. He was healthy all his life (apart from injuries from being shot down in World War II when he was an RAF pilot). He died of a stroke aged 82. My grandmother also smoked. She lived to be 89, though I’m not sure of her cause of death. My mother-in-law was a smoker. She lived to be 89 before dying of lymphoma.

        Applying Iqbal’s logic this would be an argument in favour of smoking.

        On the other hand, my wife was one of five children. They have all been lifelong smokers. Between them they have had three bronchial carcinomas, one ureteric cancer and one bladder cancer, all rare in non-smokers.

        I would therefore prefer to regard this as an argument in favour of better training in statistics and probability.

        • Iqbal’s reasoning is unprecedented in terms of irrelevance to reality! In his mind, everything is in favor of homeopathy. The sun rises? Homeopathy works. The earth goes round? Homeopathy works. Balls bounce off the floor? Homeopathy works.

          Of course, the existence of homeopath doctors in the family played no part in him believing in homeopathy. It wasn’t the brain washing. No, definitely not! Why? Because…well, homeopathy works…

        • A sample size of 3 could be small to make a decision and you should bring non-smoker’s for comparison if you specifically want to state “smoking adds years to life”.

          You could review the second paragraph. Some error there.

          What about comparing Edzard with Prince Charles. Edzard with his scientific tablets and Prince Charles with his homeopathy medicines.

          Who is more healthy and why?

          • WHATEVER YOU HAVE BEEN SMOKING, IT DOES NOT SUIT YOU IQBAL!

          • Edzard

            WHATEVER YOU HAVE BEEN SMOKING, IT DOES NOT SUIT YOU IQBAL. stop insisting to make a fool of yourself

            I don’t smoke.

            What are you fearful off? It is time to show real benefit of allopathic drugs against homeopathic water. You should be healthier than the Prince with all your evidenced based drugs.

            How many tablets do you eat daily and for what condition? Has that condition improved?

            Incidentally, how is the Prince alive with only homeopathy to support him? Or for that matter: the royal family and is their average age below/above median of an average British?

            Your prophesy ” yes, of course – until one doesn’t and need some real medicine” doesn’t work here either.

            Does the advantage of homeopathy starts adding up?

          • don’t tell me that you have not noticed: as soon as Charles (or any other member of the royal family) is seriously ill, he is admitted to hospital – a real one, not the homeopathic one!

          • Edzard

            “……….he is admitted to hospital – a real one, not the homeopathic one!”

            I did look up this possibility before I wrote my comment. Did not find one reference. Why don’t you list one here.

    • It would be interesting for all for you to become more imaginative in your story telling.

      You mean like you and other homeopaths?

      For example, our family for 3 generations did not use any allopathic drug.

      Well, that is a nice story, and very imaginative, at that! And if true, then your family members for three generations have undoubtedly suffered more and possibly even lived a shorter life by refusing ‘allopathic’ drugs(*).

      Courtesy, homeopath doctors in the family.

      Ah, yes, Prof. Dr. Ernst has addressed this problem on many earlier occasions. Homeopaths discourage the use of real medicine and instead sell them their useless quackery. See my previous point for the effects of this on people’s health.

      *: I can’t help but notice that you forgot to mention the usual (and imaginative!) homeopathic drivel about how they are healthier than those who use allopathic drugs. Or is this a case of inadvertent honesty?

      • RichardR

        What I like as response is the imagination part: ” And if true, then your family members for three generations have undoubtedly suffered more and possibly even lived a shorter life by refusing ‘allopathic’ drugs”

        This is the imaginative part I would like Edzard to include in his stories. (Edzard: you should get your message edited by Richard in future before pasting here.)

        My father recently died. He was one month short of 96. My mother is 90. The homeopaths were part of my father’s family. They were 9 siblings. All went over 78 years. The last left brother is 89. Even their spouses went over 73. Lived in Quetta, Peshawar, Lahore, Srinagar, Lucknow mostly on farms mixing with animals and birds on daily basis until 1968. There after moved to city. Any idea of the median value of life expectancy of Indian male/female in rural India? I am sure you have no clue. When they settled on farms in Lucknow in 1944, the folks from villages on the border of farm, stopped visiting the hospital altogether (it was difficult any ways: 28 kms taking over 4 hours).

        And we did not refuse allopathic drugs: these were never required.

        Healthier? Off course yes. None of us is sick and is required to take a daily tablet for blood pressure, or cholesterol, or diabetes, etc. As and when a problem comes up, a short course of homeopathic remedies is required. No one has been admitted for illness into hospital in the past many years. You have a better way to explain health?

        My brother is the homeopath in this generation. He works for the government hospital. While I always assumed that the immediate family used homeopathy, because of in house homeopaths, I was surprised to find out that many cousins and nephew/nieces and their families consult my brother. And they are all on homeopathic remedies only. It makes a lot of sense. The doctor is reliable and free. The medicines cost almost nothing. And one gets well all the time.

        • “And one gets well all the time.”
          yes, of course – until one doesn’t and need some real medicine

          • Edzard

            Funny part: has not happened in the past 80 years. I am doubtful it can happen now or in future.

            And, you ready to run a health check vis a vis Prince Charles with your drugs?

          • stop insisting to make a fool of yourself

        • Oh my, Iqbal!
          You are simply way out!
          High rates of homeopathy use do not confer health or longevity. This can be supported with data and I recall having posted such here before but you must have missed it. I am damned if it wasn’t in response to some your fantastic claims?

          Hard, easily found data shows that the countries with longest life expectancy are also countries where homeopathy is only a fringe phenomenon. Conversely the countries where homeopathy is commonplace are also experiencing poor general health and low life expectancy.

          In Pakistan the average life expectancy is about 65 years and the adult literacy rate is 54.9%.* Use of homeopathy is common there with 20% regular use and 50% sometime use. In Pakistan there is about one homeopath per 2750 people. In my country there are ten times less homeopaths per person, about one per 27500 and most of them are not doing this for a living. No one knows exactly what percentage have tried homeopathy but it is very low, probably only a few percent. Here life expectancy is about 83 years, literacy is well over 99%*.
          So your reasoning, dear Iqbal, that use of homeopathy supports longevity and general health is not supported with data.
          I congratulate you on your good genes and I suspect your family’s living standard is somewhere well over average for your society, right? Should you not be attributing your kinship’s health and life expectancy to something other than drops of shaken water?

          *You might ask why I mention literacy rates here? That is because I find it likely that homeopathy, being a product of ignorance, is more common in societies with low levels of education.

        • Well, thank you for providing a long version of your longevity story – it’s even more imaginative than the first one!

          Any idea of the median value of life expectancy of Indian male/female in rural India? I am sure you have no clue

          Well, as a matter of fact, I do have a clue. I may even consider myself a bit of an expert on this subject matter, having studied developments in India’s public health for some time now.
          The reason that I paid special attention to India is that it is one of the very few countries where homeopathy and local traditional healing systems (mostly Ayurveda) have been in ubiquitous use for a long time. Another specific reason to investigate this geographic area closely is that your wonderful story is not unique; there are countless stories about how people from the Indian subcontinent have a remarkable health and a staggering life expectancy, and how their diet, lifestyle and of course traditional healing systems can deal with almost any health problem, especially in rural areas.

          In the course of researching these claims, I found remarkable similarities with alternative practices here in the west: 1) they are all anecdotes, usually based on personal observations, and 2) they are probably imaginative (i.e. lies).

          And alas, your wonderfully imaginative story also completely falls apart by taking even a cursory glance at the development of the actual life expectancy in India compared to the USA, Europe and China. Even in the year 2000, life expectancy in India was ten years lower than in the other countries.
          And oh, you said that rural areas were actually doing much better than urban areas? Well, I’m afraid that I have some bad news for you. In 1970, life expectancy people in rural areas had a life expectancy that was ten years lower than those in in urban areas. Yes, this gap is steadily closing, and nowadays, the difference is only two years. (Unfortunately, this gap getting smaller is not only because rural healthcare is improving with the continued introduction of western medicine, but also because ever more urban Indians now suffer from typically ‘western’ health issues due to an unhealthy lifestyle.)

          Generally speaking, life expectancy and general health are worst in areas that rely the most on homeopathy and Ayurvedic treatments; life expectancy and health are best in areas where western medicine is prevalent. And oh, recall that sudden rise in China’s life expectancy in the first graph? That was the result of Mao introducing western medicine and western agriculture in China.

          Homeopathy and traditional medicine have contributed little, if anything, to these developments, even though they received a more or less official status in both Mao’s China (TCM) and in India (homeopathy) – but this was for reasons of patriotism and expediency, not because TCM and homeopathy were proven effective.
          But even in India, a homeopath’s paradise if ever there was one, government officials are finally realizing that promoting homeopathy is not very wise, and that any resources dedicated to supporting this foolish quackery are better redirected to real, effective healthcare. Homeopaths are simply parasites: they suck money out of the healthcare system and take credit if people get better, even though it has been proven that homeopathy contributes literally nothing to any improvement.

          Yes, it is possible that all those family members of yours lived as long as you claim (even though this is very, very unlikely), but given that you are a homeopath or at least an apologetic of homeopathy, I think it is more likely that your claims are the result of delusion, i.e. truth diluted to such a degree that it isn’t actually there any more.

          • Richard

            Just look at the advantage of homeopathy. To prove it wrong you have allowed your imagination to run riot. For one, you have to project that you know more about my family, than I do. Because for you homeopathy does not work, you will go to any length to make a fool of your self.

            I specifically mentioned rural India: because I know the life expectancy is much lower in rural India because of “unhygienic living conditions” . And it is NOT because of healthcare availability today as Government run hospitals are almost free for the poor. The lower life expectancy is because of their low incomes leading to poor nutrition and unhealthy living conditions. Our family managed to do well, because of homeopathy and our focus on food. We as family average, do better than USA(?). Adjusting for rural India back ground, we could be near Japan in life expectancy.

            To keep it short, Check the life expectancy of the British Royal family. Here you do not have to use your imagination. They are avid users of homeopathy.

            I suggested Edzard run a comparative health check against Prince Charles: he is not ready to play ball. No sportsman spirit. Lost before the game started.

          • Iqbal,

            you have to project that you know more about my family, than I do.

            No. I’m just saying that I am weighing the chances of one Indian family with a significantly higher life expectancy than average against the chances that a homeopath is not telling the truth. But don’t worry, not telling the truth is something that most homeopaths do, often without even being aware of it. E.g. they confuse personal observation with scientific research.

            Check the life expectancy of the British Royal family.

            I actually did that, and then I looked a bit further(*) – I also checked the life expectancy of several other royal houses, including our own Orange-Nassau family, and what do you know? They are all well above average! With only the British royals supporting and using quackery.
            So it would appear that homeopathy is not what makes the difference…

            *: And this, my dear, dim Iqbal, is one of the reasons why homeopaths are generally stupid: as soon as they think that their observations can be explained by homeopathy, they stop, period. They don’t look any further, and least of all they look for things that may prove that they’re wrong. You make this mistake all the time.

          • Iqbal said:

            [The British Royal family] are avid users of homeopathy.

            [citation needed]

          • Alan Henness

            [citation needed]

            I thought Edzard was the best citation for the “British Royal family uses homeopathy”. His moving from Exeter was this reason alone.

            It seems you have got off the floor and started moving. Perfect posture for the Prince’s other boot.

          • Good grief, Iqbal. You just don’t do logic, do you?

            Can you provide evidence to back up what you claimed?

            Ah, but wait. You’ve even managed to misquote yourself.

            Then there’s those questions about that homeopathy leptospirosis trial…

          • have you met a homeopath who does logic?
            but I admit Iqbal is special.

          • https://www.bmj.com/content/343/bmj.d4937
            Alan

            ‘Can you provide evidence to back up what you claimed?”

            Not so a few days earlier when, at a press conference in London, he branded Prince Charles a snakeoil salesman for promoting homeopathy.

            https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/22/homeopathy-quackery-plain-and-simple-whatever-royal-family-says

            https://www.express.co.uk/news/royal/413344/Radiant-and-vibrant-at-87-The-Queen-s-GP-explains-exactly-how-she-does-it

          • Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, Iqbal.

            I suppose that might well amount to something approaching infallible concrete proof in the makebeleive little world of homeopathy, but… seriously?

  • I’m not sure why we keep having these circular discussions about homeopathy. Its fundamental principles make clear predictions which can readily be tested, namely that all we know about physiology, pharmacology and pathology is unsound, together with much of chemistry and a large amount of physics. The implications should be obvious to anybody with any understanding of these subjects.

    There are those who should know better, but are able to put aside inconvenient truths if they get in the way of personal profit. I can understand this, but not condone it.

    There are, indeed, many people with no scientific education at all, or indeed training in how to think clearly and to assess evidence. Too many of them are in a position to make decisions which affect the rest of us.

    Bizarrely, there are also people with scientific training, even medical, who genuinely seem to believe that the laws of nature can be suspended from time to time. I would love to know what is going on in their minds.

    • Money-Kyrle

      “…………….namely that all we know about physiology, pharmacology and pathology is unsound, together with much of chemistry and a large amount of physics. The implications should be obvious to anybody with any understanding of these subjects.”

      Really:

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20674839 :Large-scale application of highly-diluted bacteria for Leptospirosis epidemic control. Trial done with 200c nosode by researchers of Finlay Institute.

      “The authors of the Cuban homeopathic leptospirosis trial were not homeopaths. They were veteran conventional medical researchers and scientists who had been manufacturing, testing and implementing the use of conventional vaccinations for decades. They were highly respected in the vaccine world. Their work had previously been published in many of the major vaccine journals such as, Vaccine, Human Vaccines, Expert Review of Vaccines, etc. They were and are in fact, amongst the world’s leading experts on leptospirosis vaccination – with the trivalent Vax-spiral (the only conventional leptospirosis vaccine made anywhere in the world) designed and manufactured in their own facilities (the Finlay Institute – a WHO-designated research center). ”

      http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/2156587214525402
      A Reevaluation of the Effectiveness of Homoeoprophylaxis Against Leptospirosis in Cuba in 2007 and 2008

      “The results of using the homeopathic product in 2007 were far more successful than any previous use of the conventional vaccine, despite what was objectively one of the worst Atlantic hurricane seasons in modern history. Within 2 weeks of administering the homeopathic product, they observed a 90% decrease in incidence of leptospirosis in the intervention region (comprising 2.1 million persons),”

      “Based on the results achieved with leptospirosis, the Cuban Ministry of Health began using homeopathic prophylaxis and treatment for other infectious epidemics, including dengue fever, ‘swine’ flu, hepatitis A and conjunctivitis – all with similar success.”
      https://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e6184/rr/616928

      Bizarre: no doubt.

      • not at all bizarre!
        “…the interventions were not randomized blinded trials with suitable control groups.”

      • Ah, yes, the leptospirosis story, debunked on many occasions already. Some key points:
        – The leptospirosis epidemic already peaked and started to decline rapidly when only a small minority of people had received the homeopathic treatment.
        – Some months later, after 96% of people in one region had received the homeopathic treatment, the number of leptospirosis infections had returned to pre-epidemic levels, NOT to zero, as one would expect with an effective prophylactic treatment. This alone shows that the treatment had no effect whatsoever.
        – Several other measures were taken to address the problem, among which efforts to control the rodent population in the most severely afflicted areas.
        – And of course there are the points that Prof. Dr. Ernst also mentioned – very poor design and execution of the trial.

        There is, however, one way that homeopathic treatment may have had a beneficial effect on the spread of leptospirosis (and other diseases in other areas): people who received the treatment were of course automatically made aware of the problem, and also of some simple preventive measures, e.g. avoiding contact with stagnant water. This latter may well have had the biggest effect of all.
        But this is not at all proof that homeopathy works.

        • it is tedious how often we have to debunk the same study because someone does not get it, isn’t it?

          • it is tedious how often we have to debunk the same study because someone does not get it, isn’t it?

            Certainly. That’s why I more or less treat it like those brainless shoot-em-up computer games that I sometimes play when bored: to kill some time, and to achieve a transient feeling of accomplishment when no more killer aliens stupid claims and arguments appear on my screen.
            Until a next discussion thread, of course, and all the same things turn up once again, ready to be shot down once more…
            But even then, I sometimes stumble upon a new (to me) insight, like the confounder “public awareness” that I mentioned, which can have a significant influence on the progression of an epidemic, and is triggered by any intervention, including homeopathy. (And which is also related of one of your favourites, the fallacious ‘A vs A+B’ type of study.)
            Another one of those insights was that epidemics are by definition useless as a trial environment, because during epidemics, lots of things happen and change at the same time, making it almost impossible to unravel cause and effect, even in hindsight. Taking care of confounders is already more than difficult enough in tightly controlled, well-designed trials; it is truly impossible when lots of people suddenly get sick at the same time, and all sorts of measures are implemented to control the situation.

            So let’s just say that I try looking at the positive side of this tedious whack-a-mole routine, which is that I may always learn something new from it.

          • Indeed. The phrase ‘Points Refuted A Thousand Times’ (PRATT) is frequently used in such situations.

        • RichardR

          Imagination : “There is, however, one way that homeopathic treatment may have had a beneficial effect on the spread of leptospirosis (and other diseases in other areas): people who received the treatment were of course automatically made aware of the problem, and also of some simple preventive measures, e.g. avoiding contact with stagnant water. This latter may well have had the biggest effect of all.”

          “The results of using the homeopathic product in 2007 were far more successful than any previous use of the conventional vaccine, despite what was objectively one of the worst Atlantic hurricane seasons in modern history. Within 2 weeks of administering the homeopathic product, they observed a 90% decrease in incidence of leptospirosis in the intervention region (comprising 2.1 million persons), while in the low-risk areas which did not receive any intervention (either homeopathic or conventional) incidence of the disease continued to rise – a set of facts that would have been drastically reversed if the homeopathic product had no efficacy.

          The homeopathic prophylaxis was then, in the ensuing years, administered to the entire Cuban population (11 million persons), to the effect of near eradication of the disease on the island – a result not achieved with use of the conventional vaccine product.”
          “Based on the results achieved with leptospirosis, the Cuban Ministry of Health began using homeopathic prophylaxis and treatment for other infectious epidemics, including dengue fever, ‘swine’ flu, hepatitis A and conjunctivitis – all with similar success.”

          How long would you all continue to lie?

          – Several other measures were taken to address the problem, among which efforts to control the rodent population in the most severely afflicted areas.

          Stop imagining and read:

          “The success of the homeoprophylaxis interventions in 2007 and 2008 is supported by the preceding analysis: The database has been rigorously cleansed, the possible impact of vaccination and chemoprophylaxis campaigns has been examined, and the possible impact of other confounders has been considered. No possible confounding factor appears to have exerted any appreciable influence on the positive impact of the homeopropylaxis interventions in 2007 and 2008, although the vaccination campaign in late 2008 in the intervened region targeting approximately 4% of the population may have prevented some cases.”

          http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/2156587214525402

          • you are talking nonsense again dear Iqbal!

          • …and ignoring the questions he’s been asked…

          • Stop imagining and read:…

            An analysis by Isaac Golden? The single most biased person in the world when it comes to homeopathic prevention of disease? (Something which is impossible even by the principles of homeopathy itself – and that says a lot.)

            You have to be kidding, right? This is even worse than your referring to the British royal family’s longevity.

            I’m sorry to say that your reasoning skills seem inferior to even those of a 10-year-old – and don’t even get me started on your critical thinking ability… ‘Horrible’ doesn’t even begin to describe it.

          • Isaac Golden you say, RichardR?

            Let’s look at the judgement in the FEDERAL COURT OF AUSTRALIA, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Homeopathy Plus! Australia Pty Limited [2014] FCA 1412:

            25 Dr Golden is an Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Science, Information Technology and Engineering at the University of Ballarat. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from Swinburne University of Technology awarded in 2004 on the topic of Potential value of Homeoprophylaxis in the Long-Term Prevention of Infectious Diseases and the Maintenance of General Health in Recipients, together with diplomas in naturopathy and homoeopathy from the Melbourne College of Naturopathy in 1990 and the Melbourne College of Homoeopathy in 1989 respectively. To the extent that Dr Golden’s report was admitted, it was largely confined by orders under s 136 of the Evidence Act to a description of the philosophical approach of homeopathy to the treatment and prevention of disease as opposed to evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy in preventing whooping cough. The closing submissions for the Respondents repeatedly overlooked the limited basis on which Dr Golden’s evidence was admitted, submitting that it showed that there is a reasonable basis in homeopathic science for the representations about homeoprophylaxis. However, given the terms of the order, his evidence simply could not be put to that use.

            Golden is a homeopath and was put up as an expert witness on homeopathy – and homeoprophylaxis in particular – in the case against anti-vaxxer Fran Sheffield. The judge concluded:

            33 At its heart, the difficulty with Dr Golden’s report was that it cast no light upon the reasoning by which the opinions given were reached. Crucially, just as the figure reached in Dasreef as to the likely level of exposure to dust lacked reasons by which the connection between the specialised knowledge and the evidence was demonstrated, equally no such connection between the evidence as to the alleged efficacy of homeoprophylaxis in the prevention of whooping cough (or other diseases) and the application of specialised knowledge was identified by Dr Golden’s report. As such, the evidence fell well short of meeting the requirements of s 79 of the Evidence Act. In those circumstances, I had no discretion. The passages in question were not admissible.

          • Richard

            ‘An analysis by Isaac Golden? The single most biased person in the world when it comes to homeopathic prevention of disease?”

            You have no sense of decency. To prove a point you are ready to run down your own authorities responsible for providing health support:

            The researchers putting out the report were from Finlay Institute:
            Gustavo Bracho, Enrique Varela, Rolando Fernandez, Barbara Ordaz, Natalia Marzoa, Jorge Menendez, Luis Garcıa, Esperanza Gilling, Richard Leyva, Reynaldo Rufın, Rube n de la Torre, Rosa L Solis, Niurka Batista, Reinier Borrero, and Concepcio n Campa.

            You are calling them idiots, who behaved like lambs, forgot their years of education and training in conventional vaccine development and trials and followed Golden’s diktat for design, trial data collection and review and signed on the conclusion drawn for them. And these researchers, for ages were publishing their results in journals “Vaccine, Human Vaccines, Expert Review of Vaccines, etc”. Very poor quality of researchers and journals you subscribe to!

            And then Gustavo Bracho joined Golden to write another false follow report in line with direction from Golden. You aware of Bracho’s credentials as a researcher? I doubt you will understand his work. Check research gate.

            And all this while, WHO, the organization responsible for health of humans on the globe (the Finlay Institute – a WHO-designated research center) allowed this carnage to continue: putting on line life of millions: and not threaten to withdraw its certification to Finlay Institute?

            There after the Cuban health authorities got together with Golden and extended the activity to include all residents of Cuba (11 million) and also went ahead with confirming development of homeopathic vaccines for other communicable diseases?

            How many more lies do you wish to state?

            To prove one point, you have implied that numerous health authorities are fraudsters or morons who know nothing about what they have being doing for years and one man : known to be a homeopath: has been allowed to play with the lives of millions.

            This is not only imagination at its worst, you are most indecent and as we have a saying in Hindi translated loosely: “you will sell your mother for a price”.

          • Iqbal,

            You keep trotting out believers in homeopathy as authorities in the field of health to prove your point. Come up with real scientific proof, NOT some fairy tales from homeopaths. But you can’t.

            I checked this Finlay Institute, and it seems that they develop and produce (real) vaccines – NOT homeopathic ‘nosodes’, apart from that single experiment. How do you explain this? If homeopathy is just as effective as real vaccines, but far cheaper and with less side effects, then why do they still produce real vaccines? Why don’t they produce even a single homeopathic version after all these years?
            Furthermore, I checked Cuba’s policy with regard to infectious diseases and prevention thereof, and homeopathy isn’t even mentioned, let alone that it is routinely applied in lieu of regular vaccination.

            So basically what we have here, is a handful of homeopaths and faithfuls who were allowed to deal out their useless sugar crumbs in a hapless population under threat of an epidemic. Then they fooled themselves into believing that homeopathy helped control this epidemic(*), and tell the world that these ‘nosodes’ are very effective and in widespread use.
            In reality, its use is as diluted as the ‘nosodes’ themselves: it hasn’t been used anywhere in Cuba in the past decade.

            *: And as I explained, epidemics are the worst possible testing environment, because you can’t control for anything in those chaotic circumstances. Which of course makes it ideal for homeopathic frauds: you simply perform the ritual administration of sugar crumbs and water drops, then wait, and attribute the eventual (and inevitable!) improvement to homeopathy, disregarding everything else. You can’t lose!

          • Iqbal

            However eminent your sources are, and whatever the authorities chose to do in Cuba, the fact remains that homeopathic immunisation is not plausible on the basis of what we know of biology, chemistry and physics. Furthermore, if convincing data were found to support its effectiveness, and it would have to be extraordinarily good data given the implications, then our fundamental models of what is going on in these major branches of science would have to be discarded. Think about it. Science would be back where it was two centuries ago. Our current level of understanding, which has led to the development of plastics, satellite navigation, enhanced food production, nuclear power, or indeed electrical power in any form, telecommunications, computers, paint, pesticides, fertilisers, detergents… would have no basis at all. (Whether this would be a good thing or not is a different question.)

            The underlying principles of homeopathy contradict all that we know. You would not only have us believe in witchcraft and magic, but you would also deny the existence of the modern world.

      • You still on about that nonsense, Iqbal?

        Let me help you on your way just this once:

        1. What were the results compared to that led the authors to conclude it was a success?

        2. How many people in the IR were given the conventional and proven vax-SPIRAL prophylaxis?

    • I’m not sure why we keep having these circular discussions about homeopathy.

      I’d say that the prime goal of these discussions is to educate the general public – albeit in a largely diffuse manner, as the general public rarely reads blogs like these.

      Homeopaths keep tirelessly spreading their blatant nonsense on the Internet, arrogantly claiming that they often know better than real doctors what causes diseases and how to cure them, while in reality, most homeopaths haven’t got a clue about health, sickness and medicine. The problem is that the general public simply tends to believe that which is most prevalent on the Internet – and unfortunately, what is most prevalent, is the nonsense spread by homeopaths and proponents of homeopathy. E.g. do a simple search for for ‘flu homeopathy’: the first 35 results are exclusively pro-homeopathy, and only from the ~45th result onwards, more sceptical information actually turns up, albeit still sparsely.

      The discussions and information here ends up and thus will also show up in the Internet’s search engines, diluting as it were the myths and disinformation spread by homeopaths. But alas, there is still a long way to go.

  • Should anyone care to get some insight into how a purely delusional mind sees the world, fellow Iqbal provides the best online crash-course in homeopathic delusions, one that you cannot find in many other places. As an urgent notice to fellow responders in the various comment threads here, prior to even considering Iqbal’s arguments, I encourage everyone to study in detail the rationale exhibited by Iqbal in the comments section of this article, where he styles himself as Iqbal Zutshi.

    While Ravi wraps it up perfectly, I still cannot hold back from advising taking a look at the original thread.

    Some of my favorite excerpts from Iqbal’s comments (these are mostly punchlines of Iqbal responding to Ravi’s comments):

    Homeopathy in itself is a scientific break through.

    There is sufficient information to confirm that doctors only use intution and this is mostly flawed.

    Medical science is one architecture that completely defies logic. Every disease is managed. As my doctor friend says: I have seldom seen anyone get well.

    Would a medical researcher be able to confirm the best option between radiology, chemo or surgery for a patient with breast cancer? If the specialist knows so much, why has no start been made to ensure breast cancer should not appear in the first place?

    And, by far my favorite:

    For your information, I have a B.Sc. With Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics as main subjects. I was part of an organization supplying performance rubber components for automotive engines and specialized in root cause analysis for failures.

    (Yes, this is Iqbal having studied Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics).

    Chemistry and medical science are very different subjects and should not be confused. Other wise every chemist becomes a doctor.

    My parents had no vaccination. Our generation had small pox vaccinations only. My children have only the mandatory shots. The elder son had severe consequences from MMR.

    Emergency treatment is one area where allopathic medical system is good. My father broke his spine in a road accident. The orthopedic surgeon attending on him could not get him to accept any allopathic medicine as follow up to surgery. He was operated without anesthesia.

    What are the indicators of advances in medicine? Increasing cancer hospitals in every city? Increasing instances of cancer in children: Cancer is defined as a disease that could be seen only because people were living longer?

    (Crazy, I know!)

    You do not understand “replicable research”. Homeopathy is 100% based upon reproducability.
    The doctor prescribes a remedy based upon the patient symptoms replicating the remedy symptoms. Reperotary is for confirming reproducability only. Good doctors manage better understanding of reproduciability.
    Do you get reproducability in conventional medicine: NEVER.

    I am not a homeopath and therefore all your related assumptions are incorrect.

    Root cause cannot be explained by the stupidity of Germ theory.

    Ernst was Chair of Complementary Medicine at Exeter for 20 years and he used his position to run down Complementary Medicine every year for 20 years. He is a paid shill.

    I will stop here because I believe I have provided the basis for getting a glimpse of what is going on in Iqbal’s brain (while not even having gotten started). The only thing I am still slightly reluctant to accept (but I am working on) is whether this is what goes on in every homeopath’s (or avid proponent’s) brain. If so, it will honestly be a very sad conclusion, unfortunately…

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