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

Am I the only one who is tired of hearing that, in India, homeopathy is doing wonders for the current pandemic? All of the reports that I have seen are based on little more than hearsay, anecdotes or pseudo-science. If anyone really wanted to find out whether homeopathy works, they would need more than that; in fact, they would need to conduct a clinical trial.

But wait!

As it happens, there are already ~500 clinical trials of homeopathy. Many show positive effects, but the reliable ones usually don’t. Crucially, the totality of the evidence fails to be positive. So, running further studies is hardly a promising exercise. In fact, considering how utterly implausible homeopathy is, it even seems like an unethical waste of resources.

But many homeopaths disagree, particularly those in India. And it has been reported that several trials have been given the go-ahead in India and are now up and running. This regrettable fact is being heavily exploited for swaying public opinion in favour of homeopathy. The way I see it, the situation is roughly this:

  • a few trials of homeopathy are being set up;
  • they are designed by enthusiasts of homeopathy who lack research expertise;
  • therefore their methodology is weak and biased towards generating a false-positive result;
  • while this is going on, the homeopathic propaganda machine is running overtime;
  • when the results will finally emerge, they will get published in a 3rd rate journal;
  • homeopaths worldwide will celebrate them as a triumph for homeopathy;
  • critical thinkers will be dismayed at their quality and will declare that the conclusions drawn by over-enthusiastic homeopaths are not valid;
  • in the end, we will be exactly where we were before: quasi-religious believers in homeopathy will feel vexed because their findings are not accepted in science, and everyone else will be baffled by the waste of time, opportunity and resources as well as by the tenacity of homeopaths to make fools of themselves.

But criticising is easy; doing it properly is often more difficult.

So, how should it be done?

The way I see it, one should do the following:

  • carefully consider the implausibility of homeopathy;
  • thoroughly study the existing evidence on homeopathy;
  • abandon all plans to study homeopathy in the light of the above.

But this hardly is inconceivable considering the current situation in India. If further studies of homeopathy are unavoidable, the following procedure might therefore be reasonable:

  1. assemble a team of experts including trial methodologists, statisticians, epidemiologists and homeopaths;
  2. ask them to design a rigorous protocol of one or two studies that would provide a definitive answer to the research question posed;
  3. make sure that, once everyone is happy with the protocol, all parties commit to abiding by the findings that will emerge from these trials;
  4. conduct the studies under adequately strict supervision;
  5. evaluate the results according to the protocol;
  6. publish them in a top journal;
  7. do the usual press-releases, interviews etc.

In India, it seems that the last point in this agenda came far too early. This is because, in this and several other countries, homeopathy has become more a belief system than a medicine. And because it is about belief, the believers will avert any truly meaningful and rigorous test of homeopathy’s efficacy.

 

 

17 Responses to Corona-virus: The Indian trials of homeopathy

  • “carefully consider the implausibility of homeopathy;”

    This statement discredits you as a serious scientist, and reveals why, unfortunately, you can only think and speak biased about homeopathy.
    Furthermore:
    I’m still waiting for the offer of some science-open clinical facility,
    which by
    “1)assemble a team of experts including trial methodologists, statisticians, epidemiologists and homeopaths;
    2)ask them to design a rigorous protocol of one or two studies that would provide a definitive answer to the research question posed;
    3)make sure that, once everyone is happy with the protocol, all parties commit to abiding by the findings that will emerge from these trials;”

    dares to conduct a study with me on the effects of mercury corrosivus in diverticulitis. A well-known German skeptic, at least, has pulled the tail in……
    Conventional medicine seems to fear the challenge, that´s the truth!

    • “I’m still waiting for the offer of some science-open clinical facility”
      PERHAPS THEY CATEGORISED YOU AS A NUTTER?
      “Conventional medicine seems to fear the challenge, that´s the truth!”
      EXCEPT, OF COURSE, THAT THERE ARE ABOUT 500 CLINICAL TRIALS ALREADY.

    • Are you a parrot or a faulty tape recorder that you have to tell long disproved anecdotes over and over again, shaman Hümmer?

    • [snip homeopathy trial by scientists AND homeopaths]
      Well, the last time that this was done in reasonably good-spirited collaboration, the outcome wasn’t quite what the homeopaths expected and would have liked to see. And alas for homeopaths, all similarly well-designed trials to find any effects of homeopathy have failed miserably.

      As a result, homeopaths turned their back on real science, and came up with their own ‘science’, which is simply a heavily biased travesty of real science – for no other reason as to be able to believe that homeopathy “is scientifically proven”. They are Wrong, and they always have been. Homeopathy DOES NOT WORK. Please memorize these words.

      As for proper scientific research: the final nails in homeopathy’s coffin have been banged in in the past two decades. So please let’s finally bury this sucker already – more than two centuries overdue.

      • This trial from 1835 was not a CLINICAL trial…there was no disease that was being treated.

        Of additional interest, this “trial” was not conducted by a physician or a scientist but by a journalist who was antagonistic to homeopathy. And as this report describes, this “study” took place at a BAR and the ambience was that of a theater or a seance more than a scientific study. Further, there was no evidence that any of the participants followed the instructions on the taking of the medicine.

        Oh well, good try…

        Reference:
        https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9780448/

        • This trial from 1835 was not a CLINICAL trial…there was no disease that was being treated.

          So it was a proving, then? And, if it was, it was carried out with far greater rigour than most provings I’ve read about.

          Of additional interest, this “trial” was not conducted by a physician or a scientist but by a journalist who was antagonistic to homeopathy.

          Unlike provings which are carried out by people who are neither physicians or scientists but by people who are protagonists for homeopathy.

          You really should check that there’s water in the pool before jumping in, Dana.

        • Right off the bat, I’d be the first to admit that this wasn’t a particularly well-executed trial by modern-day standards – but it is still MUCH BETTER than the vast majority of research from homeopaths who ostensibly proved that ‘homeopathy works’.

          there was no disease that was being treated

          Funny that you should say this … So those homeopaths who participated in this trial were just incompetent fools who didn’t know the first thing about homeopathy? They simply didn’t know that homeopathy cannot possibly have an effect if there are no symptoms in the first place? Or is this latter a more recent insight that has somehow eluded me – AND large numbers of homeopaths who sell their hapless victims a false sense of security with their ‘homeopathic prophylaxis’? Hell, I see that you yourself are promoting this rubbish too.
          (And oh, from what else I read there, you are apparently preying on desperately sick people by suggesting that you can treat cancer with your useless sugar crumbs. But I digress.)

          Then you will also agree with me that homeopathic proving is a futile exercise? Because by definition, a proving involves a dozen or so healthy people who take a newly concocted ‘remedy’, and carefully document any symptoms they experience. How is this compatible with your claim that healthy people usually experience nothing when taking a homeopathic remedy?

          Further, there was no evidence that any of the participants followed the instructions on the taking of the medicine

          So now your criticism is not the lack of pre-existing symptoms, but an accusation that those participants in the trial were sloppy, with lax compliance? All fifty of them?

          Sorry old chap, but it is clear to me that you are making things up as you go along, filling innumerable gaping logical holes in the homeopathic system of belief with different holes, only to deny the simple reality: Homeopathy DOES NOT WORK.

  • https://twitter.com/drluebbers/status/1272622800055029761

    “With the State Medical Association of Hamburg, the 8th Medical Association deletes the additional title #Homeopathy from the medical further training regulations.”

    Bad news for German homeopaths and their “profession”

    • Dear Anonymus,

      Since you only ever tell half the truth, you must of course remain anonymous:
      In Saxony there are clear-thinking doctors who have considered homeopathy in the training regulations to be valuable!

      And because of the ad hominem attacks it is of course better to remain anonymous:
      Coward!

      • It is very telling that you feel immediately attacked by the linked tweet, even though you were not addressed at all.

        You’re so boring that every time you try to provoke me with my anonymity.

        You are a family doctor and homeopath who does not understand that he is making a fool of himself with every comment. Just face it, your pseudo-medical profession is on a downward spiral.

        • And you remain a poor, coward anonymus! Sorry for you, I would wish you a better life!

          • Nice try, you make me laugh.

            I have a much better life than a physician who clings with his last ounce of strength to a long disproved pseudo-medical construct and attacks every person with bitter reproaches who criticizes his “faith” and who tries to insult at kindergarten level.

            Why don’t you just enjoy your retirement?

  • “The results will be published in a third rate journal.”

    Not necessarily.

    Richard Horton of The Lancet might be interested – as he was with Wakefield and Dr. S. Desai.

  • Why should homeopathy in India have waited for Covid-19, one wonders. Surely Hansen’s disease and Tuberculosis, more prevalent there than anywhere else, has long provided opportunity for homeopathy to test its mettle and establish its efficacy. Unless they are saying that it works against viruses but not bacteria?

  • Evidence, that homeopathic dilutions works:

    “The in vitro evidence for an effect of high homeopathic potencies–a systematic review of the literature.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17544864

    Effects of homeopathic arsenicum album, nosode, and gibberellic acid preparations on the growth rate of arsenic-impaired duckweed (Lemna gibba L.). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21057725

    The use of plant-based bioassays in homeopathic basic research: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26678729

    Cytotoxic effects of ultra-diluted remedies on breast cancer cells

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20043074

    Hormetic effects of extremely diluted solutions on gene expression

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25869976/

    Evaluation of antipyretic activity of Belladonna and Pyrogenium ultrahigh dilutions in induced fever model
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30335611/

    Homeopathic pathogenetic trials produce more specific than non-specific symptoms: results from two double-blind placebo controlled trials

    H Walach 1 , H Möllinger, J Sherr, R Schneider

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18701641

    Large-scale application of highly-diluted bacteria for Leptospirosis epidemic control

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20674839

    Adjunctive homeopathic treatment in patients with severe sepsis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in an intensive care unit

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15892486

    Homeopathic and conventional treatment for acute respiratory and ear complaints: A comparative study on outcome in the primary care setting
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1831487/

    Improved clinical status in fibromyalgia patients treated with individualized homeopathic remedies versus placebo

    https://academic.oup.com/rheumatology/article/43/5/577/1788410

    Influence of potassium dichromate on tracheal secretions in critically ill patients

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15764779

    Homeopathic medical practice: Long-term results of a cohort study with 3981 patients
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1298309/

    Homeopathic medicines for prevention of influenza and acute respiratory tract infections in children: blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26828000/

    More scientific evidence at:

    https://hpathy.com/scientific-research/quotable-homeopathic-research/

    Homeopathic dilutions are not conventional dilutions:

    http://www1.lsbu.ac.uk/water/memory_of_water.html

    • @D. Parameswaran

      Fascinating…

      Let’s take that first paper. You said:

      Evidence, that homeopathic dilutions works:

      “The in vitro evidence for an effect of high homeopathic potencies–a systematic review of the literature.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17544864

      Conclusions: Even experiments with a high methodological standard could demonstrate an effect of high potencies. No positive result was stable enough to be reproduced by all investigators. A general adoption of succussed controls, randomization and blinding would strengthen the evidence of future experiments.

      What point did you think you were making?

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