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

When I worked as a junior doctor in a homeopathic hospital, this is what I was told in no uncertain terms: children are ideal patients of homeopathy, because they respond particularly well to it. Most books on the subject confirm this message. The reason for the assumption is as simple as it is simplistic: children are relatively unspoilt by conventional drugs that can hinder the effects of homeopathy.

Many years later, when we conducted one of our clinical trials of homeopathy, we opted for a study with children, because all homeopaths believe in this dogma. For the same reason, it made (homeopathic) sense for the paediatricians of my former medical school (LMU Munich) to run a homeopathic clinic for decades. Not just that, they also taught homeopathy to medical students.

In the course of doing this for such a long time, they did their research and, of course, gathered tons of experience. And what does this wisdom and insight collected over decades reveal? Does it confirm the dogma that kids are excellent homeopathy-responders? Or perhaps does it reject the notion?

The question has just been definitively answered by a (well-hidden) remark in an announcement from the university paediatrics department entitled Integrative Pädiatrie. The original text is below; for those who don’t read German, I will translate:

Our healthcare for children is devoted to a holistic approach which considers biological and psychosocial dimensions of health and disease.

We see positive potential in the use of music, art and humour. Methods from integrative medicine such as mind/body therapies or integrative movement therapy can have curative effects. These and other methods are also being tested in scientific studies.

Homeopathic remedies, however, are not being used in Hanauer’s Paediatric Hospital because, after 200 years of research, it has become clear that the basis of homeopathy is not in accordance with the modern concepts of the natural sciences.

________________________________________________________________

Unsere Medizin für kranke Kinder ist einer ganzheitlichen Sicht verpflichtet, die neben den biologischen auch psychosoziale Dimensionen von Gesundheit und Krankheit berücksichtigt.

Wir sehen das positive Potential durch den Einsatz von Musik, Kunst oder Humor.  Auch Methoden der “Integrativen Medizin”, wie zum Beispiel die “mind-body-Medizin” oder die Technik der integrativen Bewegungstherapie können eine heilende Wirkung haben. Diese und andere Methoden werden zum Teil auch in wissenschaftlichen Studien geprüft.

Homöopathische Arzneimittel kommen im Dr. von Haunerschen Kinderspital hingegen nicht zum Einsatz, da sich nach über 200 Jahren wissenschaftlicher Forschung klar herausgestellt hat, dass ihre Grundlagen nicht mit dem modernen Verständnis der Naturwissenschaft in Einklang zu bringen sind.

__________________________________________________________________

Let’s be clear what exactly the last paragraph means:

  • This institution has bee open to homeopathy for a very long time.
  • They treated children homeopathically.
  • They conducted research in homeopathy.
  • They taught homeopathy to medical students.
  • Eventually, they could no longer ignore what was before their eyes.
  • They stopped using homeopathy.
  • And they discontinued their course of homeopathy.

Why?

Because highly diluted homeopathic remedies are pure placebos – and that is true for children, adults and even animals.

24 Responses to Children respond particularly well to homeopathy. TIME TO ABANDON THIS DANGEROUS MYTH!

  • Hurrah!
    Perhaps we can now safely rejoin the EU, shorn of its its ideological nonsense in this domain of health care.

    I only hope this is reported in the UK press. It certainly will be in a couple of talks I am giving next week in Birmingham and Dartmouth!

    Now we only have to convince India where only last week, Dilip Ghosh, the BJP president told a rally: ”Desi cows have a hump on their back. When sunlight falls on the hump it produces gold. That is why the milk of desi cows is yellowish, lightly golden. It contains gold.”

    Mr Ghosh and the BJP also support AYUSH: Ayurvedic, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unanimity, Siddha and Homeopathic medicine. A ministry of the Indian government.
    Ye gods!
    (All of them.)

    • There are these hilarious talks all the time in my country. They all have a regressive mind set. They believe that India is pioneer in Space Travel and say that during Ramayana time, we had Pushpak Vimanas (Aeroplanes) which would take man from one planet to another. And in olden times we had Plastic Surgeons who would fit the head of an elephant on other. And educated people cheer all this nonsense talk. The sensible people only have a hearty laugh 😀

      And further, they say that India is the best country in the world. But when we see the poverty here, I only feel sad that my country men are suffering so much.

      • This ludicrous patriotic bragging reminds me of a joke: An American, a Chinese and an Indian squabble about their respective countries’ historical achievements.
        American: “During archaeological excavations, we stumbled upon copper filaments in earth layers two hundred years old. This proves that our Founding Fathers already had ADSL networks!”
        Chinese: “Nah, that is nothing. We dug down to layers two thousand years old, and found thin glass artefacts. So our venerable ancestors had optical fibre networks long before yours had ADSL!”
        Indian: “Sorry sahibs, but that is all child’s play. We dug down to earth layers ten thousand years old, and you know what we found? No copper, no glass — nothing at all. So that proves that our ancient civilization already had Wi-Fi networks!”

        (I tried twisting this joke into a more on-topic one about homeopathy using the ‘nothing at all’ gambit, but I couldn’t find a way to make it work.)

        But when we see the poverty here, I only feel sad that my country men are suffering so much.

        Patriotic sentiments are often used by political leaders to draw the attention away from serious problems. I think that Mr. Ghosh should be ashamed to tell bragging fairy tales like this about his own country, when a significant part of the population doesn’t even have safe drinking water and sanitation, not to mention proper education and healthcare.

        • 😀

          Also they recommend cow’s urine for cancer and other big diseases 😀 You must have also heard that the Kauravas (100) were born out of IVF 😀

          Now days, we cannot argue with them because they will just pounce upon people who differ from them. So we only keep quiet and enjoy the funny stories.

  • A Most Wonderful Remedy (abridged version)

    A young mother worried about her 7-month-old boy, who had gone from a happy-go-lucky baby to a fussy child who suffered from a runny nose and an upset stomach all the time, with frequent bouts of crying and problems feeding and sleeping, for no apparent reason. The family GP wasn’t very helpful, and just said that this wasn’t unusual for children his age. He told her to wait a few more weeks and come back if things didn’t improve – and then he had to rush off again to an emergency.
    Several Facebook friends told her that homeopathy might work here, and one of them gave the address of a homeopath who had helped her own little kid really well.
    One week later, when the situation hadn’t improved significantly, she decided to consult the homeopath. Right away, she knew she had made the right decision, as the homeopath showed real empathy and genuine interest in the situation, and kept on asking all sorts of questions the GP had never bothered with. This man really seemed to know what he was doing! Meanwhile, her little boy was tucked away in her arms, but he clearly wasn’t a happy kid. After what seemed an eternity, especially in comparison to the invariably rushed GP visits, the homeopath seemed to have reached a conclusion.
    He told her that he now had a pretty complete picture of the problem, and that there was a homeopathic remedy that was particularly suitable for this whole complex of symptoms, named Pulsatilla Pratensis D6. And yes, it was in stock in his own apothecary, so they could try a first dose right away.

    Initially, the child wouldn’t take the globules, and turned his head away, but after some more patient attempts, the mother managed to pop one into his mouth. Within a minute, things began to change: all of a sudden, the child became more active and interested in its surroundings, and he even took the rest of the globules gladly.

    “Does it always work this fast? It almost looks like a miracle!”, the mother asked. The homeopath smiled and said, “Yes, it often does, especially with small children, who are especially sensitive to the effects of homeopathic remedies. But be warned, this is only a low potency remedy, and you will almost certainly see a relapse. But if you keep administering this remedy three times a day, you should see lasting improvement in a week. Should nothing have changed by then, I suggest that we schedule another consult. So, that’ll be £ 110 for today’s consult, and £ 30 for the Pulsatilla.”
    The mother was happy to pay – after all, her sick child was well on his way to a cure, and she could stop worrying. What a wonderful remedy!

    Summarized analysis from my(*) point of view: the child had reached an age where his mother’s antibodies were waning, leading to frequent but basically harmless infections. Also, teething had probably set in. These and other problems and changes in a growing baby can cause discomfort and distress to the child, which usually resolve within several weeks or months. So the GP was right in principle, although he absolutely should have given more attention and care to this child and its worrying mother.

    The only thing that the homeopath did was to reassure the mother and give the child candy — as homeopathic ‘globules’ are nothing but sugar pills. And we all know that candy is a sure-fire way to make a child instantly happy.

    *: No, I am not a doctor, so I won’t claim that this is a medical point of view. And, as always: corrections are welcome.
    (And oh, the story is fictitious wrt details, but based on reports from parents who actually visited homeopaths with their children.)

  • Children also respond particularly well to “Mummy will kiss it better”.

  • Diarrhea is one of the important defenses of the body. It is the way that the body hastens elimination of certain infective organisms. Although one can consider taking conventional drugs to suppress the diarrhea, they simply allow the bacteria or parasites to remain in the body longer.

    The World Health Organization considers childhood diarrhea to be the number one public health problem in the world today. Over three million children in the world die each year as a result of diarrhea-related dehydration.
    Scientific studies have verified the value of homeopathic medicines to treat acute diarrhea in children (Jacobs, et al., 1994; Jacobs, et al, 2000, Jacobs, et al. 2003). The combined results of three studies and the metaanalysis of 242 children showed a highly significant result in the duration of childhood diarrhea (P=0.008). Two of the three studies here were deemed to be of the “highest quality” with low risk of any bias according to multiple independent sources.

    The first of the three studies was published in the famed journal, Pediatrics (Jacobs, et al, 1994). This study also conducted stool cultures and found the best results from homeopathic treatment in those children who had a known pathogenic organisms in their stools as compared with children with no pathogenic organisms in their stools (P=0.006 vs P=0.75).

    One does not need to be a professional homeopath to learn to use these remedies for acute diarrhea.

    Jacobs, J, Jimenez, LM, Gloyd, SS, “Treatment of Acute Childhood Diarrhea with Homeopathic Medicine: A Randomized Double-blind Controlled Study in Nicaragua,” Pediatrics, May, 1994,93,5:719-25. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8165068

    Jacobs, J, Jimenez, LM, Malthouse, S, et al., Homeopathic Treatment of Acute Childhood Diarrhea: Results from a Clinical Trial in Nepal, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, April 2000,6,2,:131-140. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10784270

    Jacobs, J, Jonas, WB, Jimenez-Perez, M, Crothers, D, Homeopathy for Childhood Diarrhea: Combined Results and Metaanalysis from Three Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trials, Pediatr Infect Dis J, 2003;22:229-34. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12634583

      • Ernie…each of those three trials used DIFFERENT prescribing homeopaths! That is independent replication.

      • Hi Dana!

        We’ve been her before, haven’t we?

        Jacobs 1994: deemed by Mathie 2014 as being ‘uncertain’ of being free of vested interests and rated as ‘uncertain’ for risk of bias and got an overall rating of just B1.

        This was a small study (n=81) of children with a history of acute diarrhoea given either homeopathy or re-hydration treatment plus homeopathy. This is therefore an A+B versus B trial design that will always generate positive results.

        Jacobs 2000: deemed by Mathie 2014 as being ‘uncertain’ of being free of vested interests and rated as ‘uncertain’ for risk of bias and got an even worse overall rating of just C2.0. Mathie didn’t include that in his (flawed) analysis it was so bad.

        Jacobs 2003:

        Results. Combined analysis shows a duration of diarrhea of 3.3 days in the homeopathy group compared with 4.1 in the placebo group

        That’s a reported 19.3 hours difference.

        The mean number of stools per day for each patient during the entire 5-day treatment period
        was 2.7 for the treatment group and 3.4 for the placebo group

        0.7 stools per day difference.

        Are these the best?

    • Oh look. Dana talks shit again.

      So Dana. Seeing that this is data from twenty years ago, can you explain to us why, in the intervening twenty years

      a) others haven’t replicated these results

      and

      b) magic sugar pills, if they are so effective in this case, haven’t become part of the standard diarrhoea treatment package?

    • Scientific studies have verified the value of homeopathic medicines to treat acute diarrhea in children

      Well, yes, a mixture of the two main homeopathic ingredients – water and sugar – form the basis of the so-called oral rehydration solution, that has proven effectiveness in cases of severe diarrhea. You only left out one other key ingredient: salt.

      But OK, let’s grant you this one. You actually came up with an example where homeopathic products can be used in a therapeutic way. Hurrah!

      • Congratulatons RichardR, you’ve now proven that you didn’t read ANY of these studies! Is anyone here surprised by that? I didn’t think so.

        All children were given oral rehydration therapy, but it seems that those children prescribed an individually selected homeopathic medicine got over their diarrhea before those children who were given a placebo did so.

        It is so easy to be antagonist to homeopathy who are you deaf, blind, and dumb, even very dumb…thanx Rick for proving that you’re “all of the above.”

        • Twenty years ago, Dana. Twenty years ago. Why haven’t others replicated the results in the intervening years and why isn’t homeopathy now part of standard treatment for diarrhoea?

          Because this research was a load of wishful thinking performed by biased homeopathy freaks. That’s why. Homeopathy does nothing in the treatment of diarrhoea. Same as in every other condition homeopaths make claims to be able treat.

          Isn’t it a shame when harsh reality brings your dreams crashing down.

          You can, of course, prove me wrong by pointing out, with evidence, where in the World magic sugar pills are successfully used in the front line of treatment for diarrhoea.

          I won’t wait up.

          • Lenny…three high quality studies and their results do NOT get erased due to time, except perhaps in YOUR universe…and in that case, conventional medicine stands firmly on JELLO.

            The people at this website instead prefer to advocate for medical child abuse and advocate for the use of dangerous and often inadequately tested drugs that have not been tested on infants and children as a FIRST treatment.

            Ignore “First, do no harm” at your own peril and to the greater peril of your children and grandchildren.

          • and why is there no independent replication?

          • “Lenny…three high quality studies and their results do NOT get erased due to time, except perhaps in YOUR universe…and in that case, conventional medicine stands firmly on JELLO.”

            Where did I suggest that they had been erased, Dana? You’re making stuff up again. I merely observed that their findings have not been replicated and have rightly been regarded as nonsense.

            “The people at this website instead prefer to advocate for medical child abuse and advocate for the use of dangerous and often inadequately tested drugs that have not been tested on infants and children as a FIRST treatment.”

            You’re making stuff up again, Dana, in your private festival of whataboutery and the straw men you regard as friends. There is, however, one person here advocating the use of ineffective treatments on ill children. That’s you, Dana, you delusional, hubristic, scientifically ignorant, foolish little man. Thankfully your stamping and yammering is ignored by sensible medical professionals and your pathetic quackery is kept away from the seriously ill.

            “Ignore “First, do no harm” at your own peril and to the greater peril of your children and grandchildren.”

            Should we follow the motto of the homeopaths instead? “First do f**k-all. And then carry on doing it.”

          • @Lenny

            I don’t think you give Dana enough credit.

            If you didn’t know, Dana is an accomplished author. When I say accomplished, I mean he was able to turn, as you say, “First do f**k-all. And then carry on doing it.” into a tome of some 170+ pages. Imagine, 170 pages of, well, that. That takes some talent, don’t you agree? I mean I am a professional writer and I would have given up after page one when I realized that there was really nothing to say.

            This totally made-up review can be found on Amazon: “Homeopathy, A-Z is ground-breaking, mind-bending and, more than anything else, belief-warping. Truly a masterpiece de l’absurdité!”

            And that wraps up tonight’s episode of “Alt-Med On the Record.” Next week on the program, we will look at chiropractic in an episode we call “I Went in With a Aching Leg and Came Out Dead. Damn!”

        • Of course I didn’t read it; I stopped reading “studies” from homeopaths long ago. The older ones merely show how these people manage to fool themselves, and the more recent ones make me cringe with embarrassment about the sheer stupidity of people who still won’t accept that shaking and diluting plain water does NOT make a medicine.
          Only badly informed people and total idiots still believe that homeopathy actually does something beyond placebo.

          And in the extremely unlikely case that I am wrong, I will no doubt hear it soon enough, when the Nobel prizes for medicine, chemistry and physics are all going to homeopaths who managed to prove that they are right, totally overturning aforementioned scientific fields in the process.
          As soon as this happens, I shall be certain to change my mind and once again start reading all the relevant homeopathic literature with great interest. And oh, you will then of course also receive my sincere apologies.

        • OK just to annoy you, I read the Nepal study (the only one where I could access the full text).

          And yes, as expected, it is truly cringeworthy.

          The ONLY pertinent thing that these people say is that “The mean number of stools per day over the entire 5-day treatment period was 3.2 for the treatment group and 4.5 for the placebo group”, followed by a few unexplained parameters and a bit of mathematical jargon, probably thrown in to impress people.

          There are NO ACTUAL DATA and NO CALCULATIONS and NO EXPLANATIONS how they got to these results. Nowhere do I see tables(*) with actual measurements, no standard deviation values, not even maximum and minimum values – things that are crucial for properly interpreting the presented mean values and thus the p values.
          Also, I’m puzzled why Figure 1 shows probabilities instead of clear, simple numbers. (And I’m not even sure if a logrank test and Kaplan-Meier estimator can be used here in a meaningful way, with only 5 steps and some 20-odd data points per step).
          The mixed use of ‘mean’ and ‘average’ is a bit of a red flag too, suggesting to me that someone less than proficient in statistical analysis was at work here. ‘Average’ is normally interpreted as the arithmetic mean, but ‘mean’ is not necessarily the same as average (there are more types of mean).
          And last but not least: there is no third group, that merely gets diagnosed with diarrhea like the other two, but doesn’t receive any further treatment.

          *: And with N=116, it is easy to provide a table with all measured data on each of the children. At the very least, one would expect a condensed table with measurements per day for both groups.

          What all this means is that there is almost nothing that anyone can verify about this “study”. Basically, all that these people are saying is that ‘We find that homeopathy works’. Yeah, right.

          And you are one of the gullible buffoons who swallows it hook, line and sinker.

          • [addendum]
            And oh, before you start whining that there are tables with standard deviation values: those tables do not provide actual measurement data. These list confounders such as age and sex, which appear to be accounted for by means of weighing factors to adjust the actual (but omitted) measurements. And once again, it is totally unclear how they got to these weighing factors. Even worse: some of these weighing factors appear to be greater than the overall effect that was found. A relatively minor adjustment could lead to a different result.
            In other words: this is pure, unadulterated rubbish – or perhaps better: ‘unformed stool’, to keep in style.

  • So. Another one of Dana’s fatuous and foolish arguments has been stamped into the dust as all comers have demonstrated it to be utter nonsense.

    Will Dana learn from this, realise that the studies he cites are of no value and not bother citing them again?

    No.

    Because Dana, like all homeopaths, is immune to logic and the powers of self-correction that define good science. And he will remain the inconsequential object of derision that he is.

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