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

During the last 30 years, I must have read a few thousand studies of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM). Some made me angry because of their methodological flaws or wrong conclusions. A few impressed me. Many made me giggle. But none has ever caused me to laugh out so long as this one entitled ‘A STUDY ON THE PROPHYLACTIC EFFICACY OF HOMOEOPATHIC PREVENTIVE’.

Here is its abstract:

Homoeopathy has established its supremacy in the control of infectious viral diseases. The widespread acclaim in this regard is now supported by this study. The study was conducted in the Chikungunya fever hit areas of Kerala. The genus epidemicus was selected after detailed analysis of the first cases of Chikungunya. This preventive medicine was widely distributed in the disease prevalent areas. A survey was conducted for the evaluation of prophylactic efficacy. The study showed a very high significant effect of Homeopathic medicine in the prevention of Chikungunya fever.

You are, of course, correct to defend the Indian authors: it is unfair to judge a study purely on its abstract. So, let’s have a look at the rest. After a lengthy introduction, the heart of the full paper discloses the amazing details of the study.

Here I present the unabridged text of the study; the only part I have omitted is the introduction:

Aims and Objectives

1. To assess the efficacy of Homoeopathic medicine in the prevention of Chikungunya.
2. To determine the magnitude of incidence, clinical features, mortality , social & economic impact of the Chikungunya epidemic.

Conclusion

The Homoeopathic preventive medicine distributed for Chikungunya epidemic was highly effective.

THAT’S ALL!

14 Responses to ‘Homeopathy has established its supremacy in the control of infectious viral diseases’

  • Today I received an email from Angelina Jovovich, managing editor of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (Crimson Publishers). In it, I was asked to contribute to their upcoming Volume by submitting (quote) “any type of article”.
    I was surprised by this invitation, especially since I work in plant biology and have no expertise in medicine, neither in the field of evidence-based medicine nor in the field of wishful-thinking-based alternative medicine. Furthermore, I thought that “any type of article” sounded very suspicious and not suited for a legitimate publisher, so I marked the email as spam and deleted it.
    After reading this post, which once again points out the very different standards for publication of legitimate scientific work and SCAM, I have the suspicion that the offer was real….

    • I am sure it was real.
      there are a few 100 of such journals, and they have nothing decent to publish; so, they send out such emails. I get them all the time.

    • @Jashak
      I would have been strongly tempted to put together an authentic looking paper using fake data, a mixture of real and made up sciency terms and an enticingly esoteric conclusion. Just to test their integrity.

      • Indeed, this thought came into my mind, but I quickly dismissed it for two reasons:
        *Fabricating scientific results (even for “integrity testing” purposes) strongly goes against my “self-perception” and I would not enjoy doing it.
        *If I would be “successful” (which I think is likely), I would be very embarrassed if colleagues would notice that I published in a wacky SCAM journal.

  • Clearly the authors have only diluted the study a couple of times. A true homeopathic study would have none of the original material remaining.

  • At first I thought the article was an April Fool’s joke. But the 2 (!) comments are from July 2017. Unfortunately no April Fool’s joke.

  • Dear Edzard Ernst,
    You can of course continue to fight homeopathy now and again, but as even you have probably already noticed, time plays relentlessly brutally against the helpless waiting of conventional medicine until you have to be ventilated. Then you’d better look whether the significantly lower death rates in homeopathic hospitals in New York 1918 may have been caused by homeopathic intervention and IF you NOW can do ANYTHING before escalation.
    https://www.ecampnd.com/homeopathy/A_Chorus_of_Fifty_in_Harmony.pdf

  • This is the part excised from the article on the linked site (excluding a four-field table and a diagram):

    Materials & Methods
    After detailed analysis of Chikungunya cases in Neyyattinkara & Vizhinjam, the Genus epidemicus was selected to be Eupatorium perfoliatum. The 200th centesimal potency of this medicine was given in 15 doses (3 doses daily for 5 consecutive days). The distribution was done through various agencies, NGOs, FRAT etc. The details of distribution were recorded for the feedback study. The survey form for feedback study was prepared in Malayalam (Annexure-2A & 2B). The efficacy survey was conducted in the period of 20th – 30th November 2006 in the epidemic hit areas of Vizhinjam, Valiathura, Pothencode, Manacaud & Kamaleswaram, were preventive medicines were also distributed.
    Survey Details
    The field survey team comprised of 36 students of III BHMS course headed by the survey supervisor, Dr. Sheela A. S (Head of the Dept. of community Medicine). The survey data entry team comprised of 52 Post Graduate students in the various departments. (Annexure-3). The Computerised data entry team comprised of 5 Post Graduate students. (Annexure-4). The Data analysis was done by subject experts.
    Results & Discussion
    Total persons surveyed : 2000 Excluded cases : 376
    Cases included : 1624
    Treatment Group
    Total no. of persons who have taken Homoeopathic Preventive Medicine : 1061 Total no. of persons who were affected with fever after the medicine : 189
    No. of persons in which the preventive was effective : 872
    % Efficacy : 82.19 %
    Control Group
    Total no. of persons who haven’t taken Homoeopathic Preventive Medicine : 563 Total no. of persons who were affected with fever : 413
    No. of persons protected naturally ( ie, without medicine) : 150
    % of cases protected naturally ( ie, without medicine) : 26.64 %
    Statistical Analysis ( see Annexure – 1)
    Chi square test value = 486.44 P value < 0.0001
    The study is highly significant.
    _______________________________________
    Not exactly painting a prettier picture scientifically… Homeopathic dilution of facts such as stated in earlier comment.

    • Why were 376 cases excluded and how might this affect the results?

      Was there any randomisation?

      Was there any stratification?

      How well were the two groups matched in terms of age, sex and other demographics?

      How well were the two groups matched for exposure risk?

      For that matter, how meaningful is it to report percentages to four significant figures and chi quared to five?

      • As stated – not a prettier picture scientifically… As with prof Ernst’s excision it is a litteral citation.

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