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

Belgian homeopaths, together with the ‘European Committee for Homeopathy’, have published a statement which I find too remarkable to withhold it from you:

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Users of homeopathic medicines can no longer remain silent about the untruths circulating in the media. These lies raise doubts which naïve and gullible people take on board all too easily and then see homeopathy as quackery. None of this is accurate!

Because they fear seeing some of their ‘certainties’ questioned, the SKEPP movement is firing off at anything that current science cannot yet explain with both barrels.

The contents of homeopathic medicines
SKEPP states that a homeopathic medicine is nothing more than a drop of water in a swimming pool and therefore has nothing in it. This is  wrong. Tests performed on a high homeopathic potency (30CH) of Gelsemium sempervirens (Yellow Jasmine, a very common homeopathic medicine) have detected 36 micrograms of a specific substance per gram of solution [1]. Opponents denounce homeopathic medicines as being nothing but water. This is  wrong. This water, the solvent itself, contains a specific signature of the active ingredient. Basic research has demonstrated this [2].

Clinical efficacy.
By asserting at every opportunity that there is no evidence of the clinical effectiveness of homeopathy, opponents sow doubt. Correction:  such proof [3] does exist.  The fact that critics refuse to look at or accept these data speaks volumes about their attitude to science.
What is true, however, is that there is  not enough  scientific evidence of effectiveness. Science demands a lot of such evidence – and rightly so. There would be more if the universities applied the rules correctly!  For example: The Professional Union of Homeopathic Physicians had accepted a double-blind research protocol for fibromyalgia which took account of homeopathy’s individualized approach. This research was to be carried out at the Rheumatology Department of a hospital in Brussels with the agreement of the Rector of the Faculty of Medicine. But the hospital’s ethics committee decided that it would be unethical to test a ‘placebo’ (the homeopathic medicine) versus another placebo! Making an a priori assumption that homeopathic medicine is just a placebo, even before beginning the study, flies in the face of scientific objectivity.

Patients are not stupid!
In the meantime, Pro Homeopathia, the Belgian association of homeopathy patients, is no longer able to contain its members’ exasperation. It has published an article [4]  which denounces in direct terms the accusations of credulity, or even stupidity levelled at patients, in blatant disregard of their therapeutic freedom of choice and their capacity for critical thought.

Dare to ask questions! 
Why all this misinformation in the press? Why do these ‘experts’, whose opinions on homeopathy above all betray their profound misunderstanding of this discipline, flood the media with fake news? What is the hidden agenda behind this campaign of systematic denigration? Homeopathy and many other complementary medicines only want to collaborate, both in medical practice and in scientific research … fair play! It’s called integrative medicine!

References
[1]Nanoparticle Characterization of Traditional Homeopathically-Manufactured Cuprum metallicum and Gelsemium Sempervirens Medicines and Controls. Novembre 2018: https://www.thieme-connect.de/DOI/DOI?10.1055/s-0038-1666864)
[2]Nuclear Magnetic Resonance characterization of traditional homeopathically-manufactured copper (Cuprum metallicum) and a plant (Gelsemium sempervirens) medicines and controls. Août 2017: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.homp.2017.08.001
[3]Model validity and risk of bias in randomized placebo-controlled trials of individualised homeopathic treatment. 2016: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2016.01.005 //Clinical verification in homeopathy and allergic conditions. 2012 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.homp.2012.06.002 //Scientific framework of homeopathy 2017. www.lmhi.org/Article/Detail/42)
[4]http://www.homeopathie-unio.be/uploads/files/unprotected/Presse/Attaques%20Hom%C3%A9o-FR2.pdf

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For regular readers of this blog, any comment on this little article might well be superfluous. For newcomers, I nevertheless provide a few thoughts. In doing so, I simply follow the three headings used above.

The contents of homeopathic medicines

A homeopathic C30 potency (the one that is used most frequently) is a dilution of 1 part homeopathic stock to 1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 parts of diluent. This amounts to little more than one molecule of stock per universe. This is an undeniable fact, and the reference provided (incidentally, the link to it is dead) does not change it in any way. The theory of ‘the memory of water’ is an implausible hypothesis that has no basis in reality. It is believed only by homeopaths, and ‘studies’ that seemingly support it are flimsy, false or biased, and usually only get published in journals such as ‘Homeopathy’ (where also the reference provided appeared).

Clinical efficacy

This is a subject that we have already discussed ad nauseam. Highly diluted homeopathic remedies are pure placebos. If someone does not believe this nor all the evidence provided on this blog, they perhaps trust the many independent international bodies that have looked at the totality of the reliable evidence for or against homeopathy. Their verdicts are unanimously negative. (The above-cited decision of the ethics committee is therefore the only one that is ethically possible.)

Patients are not stupid!

That is absolutely correct; patients are certainly not stupid. And their experiences are certainly real. What is often wrong, however, is the interpretation of their experiences. When a patient’s symptoms improve after taking a highly diluted remedy, the perceived improvement is due to a long list of factors that are unrelated to the remedy: placebo, natural history, regression towards the mean, etc.

Patients are not stupid, but the misinformation homeopaths incessantly publish might render them stupid – one more reason why such irresponsible nonsense ought to stop.

 

13 Responses to ‘Users of homeopathic medicines can no longer remain silent’

  • Here is a working link to the article ref [1] published by Thieme. It may lead to a paywall, but my browser somehow manages to present the full text article, when I search Google Scholar with the search item “Nanoparticle Characterization of Traditional Homeopathically-Manufactured Cuprum metallicum and Gelsemium Sempervirens Medicines and Controls”

    https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/html/10.1055/s-0038-1666864

    This is a longish article where the drugs in question were subject to quite a lot of different sophisticated and not so sophisticated procedures to spot some differences in what I take to be background noise.

    • The homeopaths messed up the link by including the closing bracket in it. They never are very good with details…

    • I discussed this article on the Healthfraud e-mail discussion list. Here are my comments: these results do not provide any support to homeopathy. There is material found in the highly diluted samples, but it does not contain the original substance, suggesting it is something introduced from the materials and processes used to make the dilutions.

      The amount of solid material recovered from a sample does not seem to change with increasing dilution, in support of the idea that impurities are being introduced all along the way. For example, gelsemium had 42 ug for a 4cH dilution, 36 ug for 30 cH, and 30.5 for 200cK (corresponding to 10^8, 10^60, and 10^400-fold dilutions, respectively).

      On the other hand, the results are peculiar because the material in the diluted samples differs with different starting materials, and one would think that any initial effect on what impurities are introduced would get weaker with each successive dilution.

  • Did not the same Thieme journal publish the outcome of the bishops’ inquiry as to how many angels would fit on the head of a pin?

    • Thieme was – at least from my point of view prior of getting involved in medical matters – a respectable house to publish medical and chemical textbooks and journals. But they seem to have opened to the increasing request for pseudomedicine and quackery. They publish such pearls like the “Allgemeine Homöopathische Zeitung” (General Homeopathic News), “Homeopathy” (taken from Elsevier), “Zeitschrift für Komplementärmedizin” (Journal for Complementary Medicine) and a lot more.

      If you want to get an idea about their scope see here: https://www.thieme.de/de/thieme-gruppe/abo-zeitschriften-25118.htm

  • If homeopathic remedies contain 36mcg/ml of a ‘specific substance’ why haven’t they looked closed at what that substance is. If my ultradilute solution of smallpox, say, or HIV or strychnine contained mother tincture at that level I’d want to know about it.

    Or maybe it’s those contaminants again that homeopaths pretend is ‘nano-technology’. How can you have material remnants of light from the planet Venus, the colour red, cell phone radiation, shipwrecks or storms, all of which are homeopathic base ingredients?

    I await enlightenment – Dana, are you listening?

    Niall

    • They found no evidence of the original substance in the potentised potions but plenty of evidence that their laboratory techniques leave much to be wanted regarding purity of substrates and cleanliness. 😀

  • There is a lot of prowess that homeopathy help people. Homeopathy wants to collaborate! Natural medicine wants to.

  • Jefery, most of us are collaborating as we journey along the path of rational righteousness towards the sunlit uplands of true knowledge, doing all we can to support the gullible and vulnerable who have fallen by the wayside, and castigating those who deliberately take advantage of them by introducing implausible anachronistic concepts.
    It’s time for us all to move on.
    Please help.

  • Just to be correct: the number of baryons ~ atoms in the universe is estimated to be around 10^80, ie C40.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elementary_particle#Common_elementary_particles

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