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

Homeopathy has been criticised since it first emerged 200 years ago. First, people mocked its utter implausibility. More recently, critics have pointed out that, despite 200 years of research, there is no good evidence that highly diluted remedies are anything other than placebos. In some countries, this has led to a ban of the public reimbursement of homeopathy.

In its homeland, Germany, homeopathy had a relatively long free ride. Vocal opposition only emerged a few years ago. But now it has become effective, sales figures (in excess of half a billion Euros) have started to drop and understandably, the German homeopathy-lobby is on high alert. Their latest attempt to sway public opinion is most revealing (if you read German, I highly recommend reading it in full).

A group of pro-homeopathy organisations and individuals make a series of accusations that seem like the frantic nonsense uttered in pure desperation and panic. The aim is no longer to attempt informing the public; the aim has now degenerated into a vile defamation of the critics. Amongst other claims, the lobbyists defame the critics by claiming that:

  • the current criticism of homeopathy is an expression of ‘ignorance’;
  • critics are wilfully misleading the public by dishonestly publishing wrong information;
  • critics monopolise their paradigm and that this amounts totalitarianism;
  • critics are not prepared to enter into a productive discussion;
  • critics merely follow a currently fashionable trend of arguing against homeopathy;
  • critics misrepresent scientific facts;
  • all of Prof Ernst’s homeopathy research is fraudulent (‘unserioes’);
  • critics are dogmatic ideologists and totalitarians.

The lobbyists further claim that:

  • leading universities in the US and elsewhere are on the side of homeopathy;
  • homeopathy is not in conflict with the principles of evidence-based medicine;
  • German law is on the side of homeopathy;
  • medical pluralism which includes homeopathy is in the interest of the patient;
  • only homeopaths are able to generate unbiased assessments of homeopathy;
  • homeopathy is an important part of integrated medicine for the benefit of the patient;
  • the Swiss example is something Germany should aim for;
  • Robert Hahn’s analysis invalidated the research of critics;
  • the Australian NHMRC-report is invalid;
  • homeopathy is fully dedicated to science;
  • placebos (such as homeopathic remedies?) are helpful interventions;
  • across the globe, the view is now accepted that integrative medicine must become the basis for good healthcare;
  • the German law forbids the authorities to regulate against homeopathy.

The arguments voiced here are by no means new; they have been voiced in every other country that has or is/was about to limit or abolish the public reimbursement of homeopathy. All they amount to, in fact, is a well-rehearsed, often-repeated and equally often refuted pack of lies and misleading statements. One has the impression of listening to a broken record.

Yet, many people will consider seriously what clearly is the last line of the defence of the indefensible, and they might ask themselves: who can we believe? For non-experts the confusion must be profound.

In all such cases, my advice is this: ask yourself who might be less motivated to mislead you, independent academics and sceptics with no ties to any industry, or the clinicians, their lobbyists and associations who all make their living via the multi-million industry of the SCAM in question?

 

51 Responses to Homeopathy in Germany: desperate battles for survival generate desperate lies

  • Huh? They’ve got evidence? Well, great.

    But why are they telling us and not the committee of doctors appointed by the state which granted homeopathy exemption from normal testing standards? Fine — remove that exemption immediately. (Anthroposophical medicine — which also has a history of collusion with Nazis — is also granted the same exemption.)

    And are they going to drop their campaign have this exemption extended throughout the whole EU?

    • Why anthroposophic medicines require separate regulatory treatment is a mystery to me. EU regulation allows for homeopathic and herbal medicine registration. Anything that makes claims beyond those permitted by those regulations should be treated as an actual medicine and go through exactly the same approval process as every other medicine.

  • The fact that homeopathic medicine and Anthroposophical medicine (and acupuncture) work under a different paradigm and evaluate healing in a much more broad and systemic way than allopathic medicine should not be ignored, even though simple minds prefer to over-simplify things (my condolences).

    Remember, these other systems of medicine have been around for hundreds or thousands of years, with a history of safety AND efficacy…and virtually every survey ever conducted has found that people who seek these other systems are medicine are better educated than those who don’t (once again, my condolences).

    • are you sure?
      is that the paradigm you meant?: “In science and philosophy, a paradigm is a distinct set of concepts or thought patterns, including theories, research methods, postulates, and standards for what constitutes legitimate contributions to a field.”
      isn’t it true that there can only be one paradigm in healthcare?

      • Aha! Are you really THAT daft, THAT arrogant and THAT ethnocentric to believe that there’s only ONE paradigm to health care. In that case, you are showing historical ignorance AND cultural ignorance…and arrogance!

        How convenient it is for you to forget history and to be afraid to step outside of Euro-centric thinking…a common mistake of middle management.

        The GOOD news here is that your diagnosis is now clear…and transparent.

        • what is it?
          Lachesis C200?
          … and thanks for these insults; they discredit you perfectly!
          PS
          I don’t think you understand the term ‘paradigm’

          • For the record, I understand the word PARADIGM perfectly. The work of Thomas Kuhn is an essential part of my undergraduate work at UC Berkeley. Several courses required his textbook.

            And it is so typical of people in certain paradigms to be DEAF, DUMB, and BLIND to other paradigms…THAT is a part of their paradigm (“how convenient!”).

            Busted (again).

          • glad to hear you did some undergrad work – I would have never guessed it.
            A paradigm shift = a concept identified by the American physicist and philosopher Thomas Kuhn, is a fundamental change in the basic concepts and experimental practices of a scientific discipline. Kuhn contrasts paradigm shifts, which characterize a scientific revolution, to the activity of normal science, which he describes as scientific work done within a prevailing framework.
            a paradigm shift is necessary when faced with data that cannot be explained by the old one. homeopathy can be explained by the existing paradigm.

        • Dear Dana Ullman , I am a homeopath and very proud of it (I know that this comment will bring the the usual uneducated insult), and for long time I attempted to educate people about the amazing results homeopathy provides to suffering people, however I no longer attempt to educate people, I stop explaining when I realized people only understand from their level of perception.

      • A friend of mine in Germany recently wrote me about you, Ed:

        “Recently I came into contact with a friend whose husband was friends with Edzard Ernst when he was still pro-homeopathy. At a celebration she asked the drunken Ernst why he had changed sides. He said that he was getting good money and he had never given so much attention and press interviews as after his page change.
        After that the friendship broke up.”

        Doesn’t this sound familiar, Ed?

        • by jove, you make me laugh
          give my regards to Becker – he’s made telling lies his devotion, it seems.

          • You wrote “are you sure? I thought people, especially those commenting here, understand [and insist on] evidence”.

            Obviously you did not read the sentence properly.

            ” I stop explaining when I realized people only understand from their level of perception”.

          • but I did!
            perception is largely irrelevant when it comes to understanding evidence.

        • Dear Mr. Ullman,
          thank you for providing this extraordinarily good evidence that proves Prof. Ernst´s devious character.

          Now… you still haven´t answered my question:
          What evidence would convince you that “homeopathic nanodoses” do not exist? Is there anything that could convince you or are these “homeopathic nanodoses” just something that you have to belief exists, since they cannot be detected by any scientific instrument?

          • Imagine having a clinical practice in which over 40 years you’ve had thousands of experiences where homeopathic medicines have provided small and great benefits WAY beyond the expectations of the patient or myself, and where many of your patients were skeptical of homeopathy or at least non-committal to it, where many of these patients experienced a healing crisis, whereby the patient’s symptoms got worse first and when they experienced symptoms many years or decades previously…and when they experienced such symptoms that they themselves had forgot about, and when you, as a clinician, didn’t alert them that this was possible, and when, sometimes, the health improvement was from an infant or an animal or a comatose person?

            Needless to say, there is NOTHING that you can say or do to tell me that these experiences did not happen or were the result of a placebo.

            My question is to you is: what does it take to convince you about the possibility that you are wrong about homeopathy?

          • Robust evidence from proper trials, Dana. As we’ve always said. Not your textbook anecdotal descriptions of regression to the mean.

            “The healing crisis”

            Said no one other than quacks pushing inert nostrums.

            Continue to yammer, flail and wave, Dana. The spurious nonsense you post demonstrates only your foolishness. I delight in screengrabbing the choicest of your responses to distribute on Twitter for the general amusement of all.

          • Dear Mr. Ullman,
            you must have misunderstood my question, I did not ask WHAT convinced you that homeopathic treatments work.

            I am interested in the HOW question, i.e. the “nanodoses concept” that you have suggested. For me, this idea has some similarity with an unfalsifiable belief, because these “nanodoses” cannot be detected DIRECTLY (as far as I am aware).
            And unfalsifiable beliefs are worthless in my opinion, because if there is no possible way to find any evidence AGAINST an idea when testing it, you can never gain confidence that it is true…. You are stuck with simply believing in it (or not).

            So, I would like to ask you again:
            Is there anything that would LOWER your confidence in the existence of “homeopathic nanodoses”?
            How could this evidence AGAINST the existence of nanodoses look like, can you give an example?

          • Although I am intrigued by the concept and present evidence for nanodoses in hoemopathic mediicnes, I am NOT in cement on any theory about how homeopathic medicines may work. Just because early theories of gravity were not correct, this did not mean that gravity didn’t exist.

          • nice use of a classical fallacy, Dana!

          • Dear Mr. Ullman,
            I appreciate your reply, but you still have not addressed my question. I would feel a bit stupid if I repeated the question again, so I conclude that you cannot (or do not want to) give an example for any kind of evidence/test result/experiment etc. that could lower your confidence in the “nanodose concept”.

            As mentioned before, if you cannot even imagine how evidence AGAINST an idea could look like, then this strongly indicates that you hold an unfalsifiable belief (and you have no way to judge if this idea is true or not). This seems to apply to your belief in the nanodoses concept, but feel free to correct me if you think I´m wrong here.

            From your previous comments, I deduced that you are fairly confident that this idea is true, but I do not want to misrepresent your stance on this issue, so may I ask HOW confident you are that homeopathic nanodoses exist? Let´s say on a scale from 0% (all doubts) to 100% (absolutely certain, no mistake possible)?

          • Shush. You’ll upset the magic spirits. The pills don’t work if you upset them.

          • It is TOO late…we’ve aleady put a HEX on conventional medicine so that their drugs will only seem to work initially but then they will cause varied horrid side effects…and later, these drugs will be found to not work at all and ONLY cause side effects…but fret not, a new drug will be developed that will only seem to work initially but then will cause varied horrid side effects…and on and on.

            Oh…I don’t need to do this HEX afterall. This IS the way it is already! Wow, this science is so great because it is so predictable!

          • Imagine having a clinical practice in which over 40 years you’ve had thousands of experiences where homeopathic medicines have provided small and great benefits WAY beyond the expectations of the patient or myself, and where many of your patients were skeptical of homeopathy or at least non-committal to it, where many of these patients experienced a healing crisis, whereby the patient’s symptoms got worse first and when they experienced symptoms many years or decades previously…and wibble wibble babble blather [cont. p94]

            Oh, please.

            You are the Vicar of Rome and I claim my five pounds.

          • Dana Ullman on Thursday 07 February 2019 at 22:21
            It is TOO late…we’ve aleady put a HEX on conventional medicine so that their drugs will only seem to work initially but then they will cause varied horrid side effects…and later, these drugs will be found to not work at all and ONLY cause side effects…but fret not, a new drug will be developed that will only seem to work initially but then will cause varied horrid side effects…and on and on.

            Oh…I don’t need to do this HEX afterall. This IS the way it is already! Wow, this science is so great because it is so predictable!

            I believe there are medicines that help for this?

          • The following cell signaling agents are known to have significant physiological effects at 10 to the MINUS 14 to 20!

            It seems that people at this “skeptics” website seem to believe that this physiology is a “placebo.” OR perhaps is our body this incredibly sensitive and even hypersensitive complex system that can and will react in significant ways to CERTAIN medicinal agents, and perhaps only those agents that are known to cause, if given in overdose, the similar syndrome of symptoms that this medicinal substance is treating.

            Interleukin-1 for T-cell clone proliferation: 2.5 x 10-18 (18X)
            Platelet-activing factor for decrease of luteinizing hormone somatostatin: 10-17 (17X)
            β-endorphin to modulate natural killer cell activity: 10-18 (18X
            Tumor necrosis factor for synergistic action with various drugs: 10-14 (14X)
            Leukotrienes for release of luteinizing hormone: 10-20 (20X)

            Eskinazi, D. Homeopathy Re-revisited. Archives in Internal Medicine, 159: Sept 27, 1999:1981-1987.

            I rest my case. Case closed.

          • Strange how that study didn’t mention the effects of dolphin sonar, owl, Berlin Wall or Light Of Venus at those concentrations.

            The physiological effects of hormones and neurotransmitters at low concentrations have absolutely no relevance to your belief in the theraputic powers of magic shaken water, Dana. As has been pointed out to you every time you wave this bit of false equivalence around. That memory of yours is becoming a bit of a problem.

            You may well rest your case, Dana. But we all know what the judge said about your testimony.

          • Dear Lenny,
            You seem to forget that due to his qualification (personal experience with homeopathy), Mr. Ullman here is BOTH, defense lawyer AND unfalsifiable judge!
            I made this painful experience recently, since I received general verdict “super-daft” from the Honorable Mr. Ullman, simply because of my divergent view on homeopathy.
            🙁

          • Dana, you’re just too scientifically illiterate for words.

            The following cell signaling agents are known to have significant physiological effects at 10 to the MINUS 14 to 20!

            Does it really not occur to you to ask 10^–14 to 10^–20 what?! The answer (from the paper) is mol/L. The substances you cite include both large peptides (IL-1 and TNF) and small molecules (platelet activating factor and leukotrienes)*. So your 10^–14 example (TNF) contains 0.26 ng/L and your 10^–20 example contains 4.4 fg/L.

            These may still sound like very low concentrations to you, and indeed they are. But compare this with 7C (10^–14) and 10C (10^–20) homeopathic dilutions, prepared in the usual way (1C = 1g mother substance plus 99 g lactose for insoluble substances, 1g mother tincture plus 99 g ethanol or water or ethanol/water mixture for soluble substances). 7C then contains 10^–14 g/L, or 10 fg/L and 10C contains 10^–20 g/L, or 10 zg/L. Compare these data with those you pull from the 1999 review article.

            The review you cite is now 20 years old, and a huge amount of research has been done on these biologically active substances since it was published. (We can effectively discount the 10^–20 figure anyway, since the reference for that one is a ‘personal communication’ without peer-reviewed follow-up.) Most of the molecules have been better characterized and some are now known as multi-member classes of molecules.

            Methods have been devised, honed and refined to permit quantitative detection of the very low concentrations in which these substances often arise naturally, but the lowest limit of detection is typically pg/mL which is the same as fg/L. This is a concentration way bigger than the widely used homeopathic dilution of 30C, and as you already know the theoretical limit of detection of a one molecule of a substance is equivalent to homeopathic 12C, according to Avogadro’s number.

            So the only case you’ve closed is the one that says you ought to stop posting nonsense that is apparently beyond your comprehension.

            *IL-1 beta 30.9 kDa unprocessed, 17.5 kDa after proteolytic cleavage
            Tumor necrosis factor 25.6 kDa
            Beta-endorphin 3465 Da
            Platelet activting factor 523 Da
            Leukotrienes range from ~300 – 500 Da

          • @Jashak: Is he also a dessert topping and floor polish? Truly no end to the man’s talents.

          • @ Frank Odds,
            Quote: “(…) pg/mL which is the same as fg/L.”
            Small correction: pg/ml corresponds to ng/L.
            😉
            Your overall point, however, is of course not affected by this.

          • @Jashak.

            Thanks; my bad. I have excuses but won’t make them.

          • And with Frank having demolished another of Dana’s houses of cards he will disappear from this thread to lick his wounds and dredge the internet for another piece of nonsense which he will wave triumphantly in our faces because he thinks it will validate his beliefs in magic shaken water.

            A trained homeopath should be able to find remedies for stupidity and baldness, Dana. Why not give one a go?

          • @ Frank Odds,
            even if this is such a minor issue, your response exemplifies the difference between rational persons as yourself and irrational CAM believers.
            In my experience, scientifically minded, rational persons generally appreciate it if an error is corrected, whereas close-minded believers never even admit that they could be wrong…

    • “Evaluate healing in a much more broad and systemic way” = “delude themselves that their worthless nostrums are helping their victims”

      It’s called Special Pleading, Dana. “Ooh no our therapies cannot be evaluated by your nasty reductionist methods because our special therapies are too delicate and work in different ways which plainly cannot be measured conventionally because when we do so they show that our methods don’t do anything and we know they do so it must be the measuring methods and analysis that are wrong. Yes. That’s it.”

      Self-delusion piled upon ignorance piled upon arrogance piled upon further self-delusion, Dana.

      Carry on your exercises in trying to spin ropes from soot, Dana. And we’ll keep demonstrating your stupidity.

    • The fact that astrology, clairvoyance and tarot card reading work under a different paradigm and evaluate predictive success in a much more broad and systemic way than experimental science should not be ignored, even though simple minds prefer to over-simplify things (my condolences).

      Remember, these systems for predicting the future have been around for hundreds or thousands of years, with a history of success among those who account for the results by post-hoc dissembling. People who seek these other systems are typically better educated (in arts and humanities) than whose who don’t.

  • Homeopathic medicines are not made by dilution alone. I am sure you know that and my argument here is not helped by the poor vocabulary of homeopaths who also use the word. Homeopathic medicines are made by serial dilution and succussion. Medical Definition of succussion : the action or process of shaking or the condition of being shaken especially with violence. (Merriam-Webster). Once made they are referred to as ‘potencies’ by the manufacturers as that is indeed what they are. If their manufacture relied only on dilution then clearly they would not work, but the manufacturing process is uniquely dynamic, making it dissimilar to any other and therefore the sole source of a healing stimulus which leaves the remedy ‘potentised.’ This proves nothing of course but it does help to inform and inspire a more accurate discussion on the truths rather than close it down. The 2010 Science & Technology Committee also reduced homeopathy to two instead of the ten (some observable) principles which underpin it.

  • The doctrine of signatures? That’s sympathetic magic.

    And interestingly, sympathetic magic is all you need to get a THR product registered in the EU – as long as it’s safe.

  • It would seem the major problem critics of homeopathy have is that they can’t stand up to a dialectic: Have you clearly defined your criteria and complaint? Do you show evidence that you have read the relevant literature and statutes governing the use of the pharmaceuticals in question? Have you personally explored the effects of the materials you are criticizing . . or are you too busy running from your offers of bagatelles for proof before arbitrators?
    What do you think a placebo is?
    Put your dime in the cup, please . .

    • Oh look. It’s Mr Benneth here again with yet another fancy that a two-minute trolley-dash through his thesaurus will somehow confer legitimacy to his fantasies about the efficacy of magic shaken water.

      But anyway. What do I think a placebo is? I’ll stick with the dictionary definition. A substance with no effects administered to a patient instead of a drug. Like homeopathic sugar pills.

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