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

Prof Ernst is far too critical about homeopathy!

He is biased against it!

He cherry-picks the evidence!

He does not understand homeopathy!

If you are one of the many who believe such notions, please read on.

The website of the NHS England has a fairly detailed account of homeopathy. Here is the section entitled ‘What can we conclude from the evidence?‘ – but I recommend reading the full text:

There have been several reviews of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee said there’s no evidence that homeopathy is effective as a treatment for any health condition.

There’s no evidence behind the idea that substances that cause certain symptoms can also help treat them.

Nor is there any evidence behind the idea that diluting and shaking substances in water can turn those substances into medicines.

The ideas that underpin homeopathy aren’t accepted by mainstream science, and aren’t consistent with long-accepted principles on the way the physical world works.

The Committee’s 2010 report on homeopathy said the “like cures like” principle is “theoretically weak”, and that this is the “settled view of medical science”.

For example, many homeopathic remedies are diluted to such an extent that it’s unlikely there’s a single molecule of the original substance remaining in the final remedy. In cases like these, homeopathic remedies consist of nothing but water.

Some homeopaths believe that, as a result of the succussion process, the original substance leaves an “imprint” of itself on the water. But there’s no known mechanism by which this can occur.

The 2010 report said: “We consider the notion that ultra-dilutions can maintain an imprint of substances previously dissolved in them to be scientifically implausible.”

Some people who use homeopathy may see an improvement in their health condition as the result of a phenomenon known as the placebo effect.

If you choose health treatments that provide only a placebo effect, you may miss out on other treatments that have been proven to be more effective.

__________________________________

Since 1948, homeopathy had been part of the NHS, there were 5 homeopathic NHS hospitals, and the costs for homeopathy were covered. Why would the NHS decision makers suddenly turn against it? They must have loved homeopathy for at least 4 reasons:

      1. It is inexpensive.
      2. It has support in high places.
      3. It did not cause any direct harm.
      4. It had many supporters who fought tooth and nail for it.

It is therefore hardly reasonable to assume that the NHS is biased against homeopathy. But, why do they now say that it is

  • implausible,
  • not effective beyond placebo,
  • and can cause harm by making people miss out on effective therapies?

 

The answer is simple: BECAUSE THESE STATEMENTS ARE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF THE BEST EVIDENCE AVAILABLE TO DATE.

So, here you are: the NHS now confirms what I (and many other experts) have been saying since years. And we all insist on the fact that this not because we are biased, stupid, uninformed, paid by BIG PHARMA, or want to deprive anyone of anything. We do it for one reason only:

BECAUSE IT’S THE TRUTH!

78 Responses to What can we conclude from the evidence on homeopathy? 

  • ‘”Tis very true, my sovereign King,
    My skill may weel be doubted;
    But facts are chiels that winna ding,
    An’ downa be disputed: ”

    From “A Dream”, a poem by Robert Burns written as humorous riposte to a sycophantic birthday ode for George 3rd from the Poet Laureate Thomas Warton.

  • The website of the NHS England has a fairly detailed account of homeopathy. Here is the section entitled ‘What can we conclude from the evidence?‘ – but I recommend reading the full text

    But remember what it used to be like? https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/feb/13/prince-charity-lobbied-government-homeopathy

  • Allopathy is using (bad) homeopathy all the time. Every single drug that I have investigated so far, has “side effects” that are identical to the condition that they are used to treat. Allopathy is using partially homeopathic, ie. partially similar, medicines that only temporarily suppress symptoms. The problem is that their definition of disease is limited to an arbitrarily chosen small set of common symptoms. As a result they choose a drug that only matches on that small set. If they used a more rational definition of disease which is All the symptoms that some individual is experiencing they would arrive at an homeopathic medicine that is curative, instead of suppressive.

    Here are some widely presecibed drugs and their “side effects”
    Levothyroxine for hypothyroid SE: extreme fatigue, slow heartbeat, difficulty breathing, menstrual changes, face swelling
    Lisinopril for heart failure SE: heart attack, difficult breathing, swelling, fast or irreg heartbeat, cough, nausea, lack of appetite, chest pain
    Metformin for diabetes SE: weight loss, unusual tiredness or weakness, blurred vision
    Amlodipine for hi bp, angina SE: headaches, shortness of breath or nosebleeds
    Metoprolol for hi bp, heart failure, angina SE: cardiac failure, difficult breathing, fatigue, weakness, irregular heartbeat, cough, wheezing, incr. Freq. Urination, weight gain, loss appetite
    Albuterol asthma, bronchospasm SE: “… has caused severe sudden worsening of breathing probs/asthma (paradoxical bronchospasm). “, shortness of breath, irregular breathing, wheezing, tight chest
    Sertraline for depression, OCD, anxiety disorders, PTSD, PMS SE: Severe mood mental or unusual behavior chgs, depressed mood, feeling seeing or hearing things not there, hostility, aggression, insomnia, agitation, anxiety, or nervousness, suicidal, mania, weird or terrifying dreams, apathy, euphoria, paranoia “Causality has not been established”
    Amoxicillin for Infections, stomach ulcers SE: inflammation of the joints, Diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, inflammation of blood vessels, dermatitis
    Pantoprazole for erosive esophagitis, GERD SE: pains in the stomach side or abdomen, difficulty swallowing, indigestion, trouble sleeping, nausea, vomiting

    If anyone can find a drug that is prescribed based on symptoms (as opposed to a test, like statins) that Doesnt have side effects that match what it is prescribed for, please let me know.

    • ” Every single drug that I have investigated”
      I did not know you were an investigator of drugs – can you show me your publications please?

      • So far I have checked the top 30 selling drugs. It was just a matter of looking at the indications and side effects listed for them on Drugs.com. Eventually I would like to check the top 50-100 drugs. Id like to find an exception to this rule of partial similarity or homeopathicity. I havent found one yet.

        • Your approach makes as much sense as an elephant-shaped cloud being taken as evidence for flying pachyderms. If you look for patterns you will find them everywhere. That doesn’t imply that they are real or that they mean anything.

          • OMG, elephants can fly? Honey, pass me my Arsenicum album, quick!

          • Julian, its called Inductive Reasoning. When every example fits the premise, it becomes a strong theory, even a principle. And homeopathy has been using that principle, like cures like, successfully for 220+ years. Allopaths have been using bad homeopathic (partially similar) drugs which only palliate for even longer.

            Just because you dont like the sound of it is not a reason to reject homeopathy. Why dont you Try it, maybe it will surprise you. You dont even have to use diluted medicines. Just use them full strength if that will assuage your mechanistic paradigm conscience. But use them homeopathically, matching on all levels – mental, emotional and physical, instead of the arbitrarily chosen few symptoms of the allopathic disease definition.

          • There is no such thing as ‘allopath’.

            Your personal experience is irrelevant.

          • Roger,

            its called Inductive Reasoning. When every example fits the premise, it becomes a strong theory, even a principle

            No it isn’t. Inductive reasoning is something else entirely. What you are doing is more akin to systematic confirmation bias, though in the case of your interpretation of pharmaceutical side-effects it seems to be bordering on psychotic thinking. You can spin data to fit any theory, however far-fetched, if you try hard enough.

            Inductive reasoning can be useful in formulating a hypothesis (such as “all swans are white”) but the hypothesis can be disproved by a single counter-example (in this case the black swans that are native to Australia). The scientific method essentially involves looking hard for counter-examples and designing experiments to disprove a hypothesis, which is provisionally accepted if it stands up to this sort of scrutiny.

          • Julian: I do admire your patience … and hope it means you are well and safe.

          • Edzard,

            hope it means you are well and safe

            Thank-you for your concern.

            As it happens I had the rather interesting experience yesterday of having a stent fitted in one of my coronary arteries. It really brought home to me just how much our treatment of coronary heart disease has changed since I was a junior doctor, both in terms of treatment of acute events (from bed-rest alone to the use of IV nitrates, then clot-busting drugs and now primary revascularisation) in prevention (treatment of hypertension and the use of statins in healthy individuals at risk, for instance, and the value of aspirin and beta-blockers as secondary prevention).

            All of this is based on evidence from clinical trials, of course, as well as an ongoing improvement in our understanding of the biology of vascular disease.

            I could muse on how a homeopath would have investigated my chest pain, how he would have treated it, how confident he would have been of success (based on what?) and how any subsequent worsening of symptoms might have been rationalised. However, I don’t think that would be very good use of my time.

          • good to hear that you seem to have survived this well; good to hear that no homeopath was in charge; good to know that medicine is progressing!

    • Those patient information leaflets are always a good read. I suppose the ones for homeopathic elixirs are much shorter.
      How does it work – it doesn’t.

      Side effects – none, unless you are allergic to sugar or consume too much, in which case weight gain and diabetes might be a problem.

      Whats is it used for – to redistribute wealth.

      • I was thinking about the sugar too – I suppose if you munched sugar pills (I think homeopathic pills are a mix of sucrose and lactose) all day and didn’t brush your teeth, you might get dental caries.

        Homeopathic pills have no side-effects because they have no effects. (Though someone in another thread here said they do have side-effects and some homeopath had threatened to use homeopathic pills to kill someone!)

      • Another side effect: Homeopathic medicines could result in death if you are taking them for a serious illness that requires actual medical care.

    • Good points @Roger. Ernst does not know what he does not know. Is he unaware of the yearly hard copy, and online publication of the PDR which makes it easy for prescribing clinicians to quickly look up the indications for, dosages of and potential adverse side effects of allopthic drugs?

      https://www.pdr.net/browse-by-drug-name?currentpage=2

      Thank you @Roger for mentioning Sertraline (a.k.a. Zoloft, Xanax, alprazolam, fluoxetine) used to treat depression and anxiety. Attorneys of incarcerated Sertraline patients have had their felony sentences dismissed after investigation of their medical records by qualified medically trained attorneys proved the individual had no prior history of agressive behaviour prior to this physician prescribed drug. Documented cases can be found via internet search. Sadly, it is the self proclaimed experts, such as Ernst who fail to do a proper “investigation” before espousing their improperly investigated opinions as facts.

      • Professor Ernst is not a self-proclaimed expert. He is legitimately qualified as an expert and was proclaimed one by others.

      • Because we should always listen to the retired medical transcriptionists. They’re the real experts, aren’t they, Sandra?

          • That video is thirteen years old,Sandra. And in the intervening years it’s made dentistry sit up, notice, do some proper research and conclude that amalgam fillings are dangerous.

            Oh. No. it hasn’t, has it? The amalgam toxicity myth remains just that. An idea pursued by fringe loons hanging on to the coat-tails of your favourite shameless quack Hal Huggins. Remind us, Sandra. How many people did he defraud and exactly when did he have his license to practice revoked? Nice company you like to keep.

          • @Lenny left the room and probably hopes everyone has forgotten his weak argument that amalgam faillings are safe.

            Lenny on Tuesday 20 March 2018 at 17:21

            They aren’t ayurvedic, Sandra. And just because you continue to labour under the misaprehension that you were being poisoned to death by your fillings, the evidence of millions of other people would indicate otherwise. All you need to do is look at life expectancies as time has gone by and the edentulous (toothless and therefore amalgam filling-less) population has died out through old age. It has increased. If fillings were poisonous, the opposite would be the case. They are safe to use, always have been, no matter how much in your deluded imaginations you and others would wish it to be otherwise. They are being phased out as other materials supersede them and due to the Mianamata protocol, designed to prevent environmental mercury pollution
            Reply
            Sandra on Tuesday 20 March 2018 at 17:52

            Ernst mentioned the dangers of mercury in ayurvedic medicines. An analogoy can be drawn between the two precautions. As you well know, dental amalgam fillings can contain up to 50% mercury. The word “amalgam” means combined with mercury.

            Per safety guidelines, how must your store dental amalgam material in your dental operatory? When you restore an old or place a new amalgam dental filling, what are the mandatory safety requirements you must employ to protect yourself and your staff from mercury vapors?

            Try to refrain from personal insults please.
            Reply
            Lenny on Tuesday 20 March 2018 at 20:28

            I rarely use amalgam. All amalgam is encapsulated. There is no evidence of harm to either patient or operator from Hg vapour when placing or removing amalgam restorations and as such no mandatory safety requirements are in place. All suction systems have to be fitted with an amalgam separator to prevent pulverised amalgam from entering waste water where it can theoretically leach Hg into the sea and become concentrated in the flesh of oily fish from where it becomes capable of absorption by humans in their diet.

            I am not going to contribute further to this discussion. The nuances of Hg absorption and the varying toxicities of the commonly occurring organomercury compounds is pointless to discuss with someone who won’t be able to understand it.
            Reply
            Sandra on Wednesday 21 March 2018 at 00:30

            @Lenny I am not surprised you couldn’t resist the temptation to question my understanding of this issue in a derogatory manner.

            I am as well educated about the use of dentistry and dental amalgams as you are. In the past I was invited to debate two dentists & department heads within the dental school at Tuft’s University on live television in Tampa, Florida. I also appeared on numerous live radio talk shows with researcher Dr. Hal Huggins, DDS, MS. I’m sure you know he authored the book “It’s All In Your Head”, the hazards of silver amalgam dental fillings.

            The St. Petersburg Florida Times newspaper interviewed me and published a Sunday feature article about me and this issue 30 years ago. My efforts helped spearhead the CBS 60 Minutes coverage of the hazards of amalgam dental fillings around that same time. The American Dental Association spent millions to counteract this bad press. The only thing they managed to do was have Consumer Reports and The Readers Digest publish a layman’s version of the AMA’s position that amalgams were safe. Thankfully, from my perspective, the damage to the ADA and its reputation was crushing.

            In 1968, my German husband earned his Master’s Degree in Dental Materials at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I transcribed and edited his thesis. Dentists have been looking for safer materials since that time; perhaps even before then.

            My husband then went on to complete his PhD thesis in pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. I also transcribed and edited that thesis. As a University of New Mexico professor, my husband went on to teach pharmaceutical chemistry for over 20 years.

            The dental societies of every country have not done dentists any favors by withholding information from their members.

            For example: “Mercury has been found to accumulate in vital organs and tissues, such as the liver, brain,41 and heart muscle.42 Major symptoms of mercury toxicity include emotional instability, tremors, gingivitis, and kidney failure.43 Some also believe mercury may be linked to multiple sclerosis 44 and epileptic seizures. 45 Further, its affect on the body’s immune system is potentially devastating,46 possibly contributing to diseases such as leukemia and hematopoietic dycrasias 47″ https://scholars.unh.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1050&context=risk

            In case you have not read it yet, the ewe sheep study done in the early 1990s at the Swedish Karolinska institute details the routes of tissue accumulation and urinary excretion of dental mercury placed in their teeth. It’s chilling.

            I am grateful to and want to thank Professor Ernst for the opportunity to contribute my knowledge and views to this forum discussion!

            Lenny on Wednesday 21 March 2018 at 07:45

            Breathtaking hubris, Sandra. Nice to know a medical transcriptionist knows as much about dentistry as a dentist. I’d like to invite you into my surgery to diagnose caries, prepare a cavity and then restore it with amalgam. Then claim you’re as educated in the use of dental amalgams as I am. Dunning-Kruger strikes again. You mention your friend Hal Huggins.. A legendary figure in dental circles. Gross negligence wasn’t it which caused him to have his licence revoked?

            As ever, you confuse the terms “transcribe” and “understand”. You might also want to do some more reading on the sheep study which was monumentally flawed and as such has been ignored by the profession for the nonesense it is. The amalgams I used in the past, unlike those in the study, were correctly triturated. And I’m not a sheep, Sandra. Neither are any of my patients ruminant herbivores. Are you?
            Reply

            Greg on Wednesday 21 March 2018 at 08:53

            Lenny, there no need to be impolite to Sandra. Well done to Sandra for standing up to the bully boys.

            She has made a highly valuable contribution to the discussion and your response is unbecoming of a professional dentist. Maybe it would be something to consider focusing on your work helping people rather than wasting more of your energy on this battle against homeopathy that you have been doing for so long.

            What is it with you Lenny, why is this issue with homeopathy so important to you?

          • Sandra

            Thank you.

            You’ve pasted a thread of comments you’ve saved which demonstrate your foolishness in rather elegant fashion.

        • Well, she has learnt to spell all the difficult medical words? I guess she thinks that gives her an unrestricted right to use them anyway she fancies?

          😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

      • Ah, the cult homeopathy propagandist Sandra Courtney descends.

        And what’s the relevance?

      • He’s hardly “self-proclaimed.” I invite you to read this: https://edzardernst.com/about/

        Do you think he is just some fanciful nut bar who lets random things fall out of his mouth none of it backed by science? Oh, wait a minute. That’s you!

    • The EBM sham goes beyond products patients consume.

      https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/proposed-essure-litigation-settlement-reached-with-bayer-301115972.html

      “Bayer’s proposed settlement to resolve Essure claims would provide expedited relief to thousands of women,” said Motley Rice lawyer for the plaintiffs Fidelma L. Fitzpatrick. “While we would have been ready for trial if needed against Bayer, to be able to get the assistance Essure’s victims need while avoiding putting their very personal lives on trial is reassuring for many. Women have suffered for years not only physically, but also emotionally and financially from the often enormous Essure-related medical bills they face. We look forward to working through the details of the settlement terms as quickly as possible to finalize the agreement.”

      Additional surgeries, including hysterectomy to remove the device and repair internal organs
      Autoimmune response to the device, including fatigue, rashes, hair loss and weight gain
      Chronic pelvic pain
      Fetal Death
      Life-threatening ectopic pregnancy
      Migration of the device or a device component (in some cases, the device may even ‘disappear’ in the body, becoming undetectable even through standard scanning)
      Expulsion of the device
      Perforation or tear of pelvic organs, including uterus or colon
      Severe migraines and allergic reactions to the device or device components

      Please do not contend that the women were warned in advance. That only means that Bayer knew in advance. It’s no defense.

    • There is no such thing as ‘allopathy’. Your comment seems irrelevant.

    • Roger,

      None of the drugs you have listed are prescribed for symptoms. They are used for specific diagnoses. Enquiry about symptoms forms part of the diagnostic process, along with clinical examination for physical signs and special investigations.

      Among the side-effects you describe as symptoms are heart attack (whatever that means), carciac failure, paranoia, inflammation of blood vessels and dermatitis, none of which are symptoms at all.

      Levothyroxine for hypothyroid SE: extreme fatigue, slow heartbeat, difficulty breathing, menstrual changes, face swelling

      Levothyroxine is a replacement for individuals with a deficiency in the production of thyroid hormones. With thyroid deficiency the whole rate of metabolism goes down, and the effects include fatigue, slow heartbeat, sometimes difficulty breathing and heavy irregular menstrual periods. Over-replacement with levothyroxine (i.e. taking too much) results in a hyperthyroid state, where in effect metabolism goes into overdrive. This also causes fatigue. Usually the heartbeat is fast, but there can be more serious rhythm disturbances, the most common of which is atrial fibrillation (a fast, irregular heartbeat) though other arrhythmias are possible, some of which are associated with an apparently slow pulse (though the ECG may tell a different story). Any disturbance of cardiac function can lead to difficulty breathing. The menstrual changes from hyperthyroidistm are absence of periods, so the opposite of what is being treated, not the same (though both can be described as disturbance).

      Lisinopril for heart failure SE: heart attack, difficult breathing, swelling, fast or irreg heartbeat, cough, nausea, lack of appetite, chest pain

      The mechanism of action of ACE inhibitors such as lisinopril is complex, as are the physiological changes occurring in heart failure (which refers to a state where the heart is not pumping adequately and where various compensatory mechanisms which evolved to deal with blood loss make the situation worse – it is quite different from cardiac arrest, though laymen often use the terms interchangeably). The term “heart attack” has no medical meaning, and non-medics use it in a variety of different ways, so I have no idea why it would be listed as a side-effect. One common effect of ACE inhibitors is to reduce blood pressure (they are also prescribed for this), but someone with heart failure may have low BP to begin with and find them difficult to tolerate therefore. Also they don’t work in everybody and may make cardiac failure worse. Hence many of the side-effects you list, which should not be ignored as they may require an urgent review of medication. All ACE inhibitors can cause a dry cough in some individuals (lisinopril is much better in this respect than the origianl captopril); although heart failure can cause a cough, it is characteristically productive of pink frothy sputum (to me it looks like zabaglione) and quite different from the cough of ACE inhibitors.

      Amoxicillin for Infections, stomach ulcers SE: inflammation of the joints, Diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, inflammation of blood vessels, dermatitis

      All of the side-effects that you list can be caused by infections. They can also all be caused by drug allergies, for instance to antibiotics, though most doctors shouldn’t have much difficulty telling them apart. To use this as an example of “like cures like” shows an extraordinary depth of ignorance, however, when it comes to pharmacology and pathophysiology.

      I haven’t got time to go through the rest of your drugs, and they don’t all fall within my areas of expertise. However, on the basis of your comments it is plain to me that none of them, nor their indications, fall within yours.

  • Edzard Ernst 1997:
    https://www.aerzteblatt.de/archiv/7612/Homoeopathie-Argumente-und-Gegenargumente?#comments

    “…..The analysis commissioned by the European Union is particularly noteworthy because it was prepared by a team of supporters and critics of homeopathy and impartial experts (the author of this work was a member of this group and belongs to the latter category). All homeopathy studies were collected here with great effort and those that were randomized and placebo-controlled were analyzed. She comes to the following conclusion: „It is likely that, among the homeopathic approaches examined, some studies have effects that go beyond zero therapy or placebo […]

    „Conclusion„
    “The dispute over homeopathy is as old as this form of treatment. The arguments are now well known, but only partially correct. A solution to this ongoing dispute is unlikely. In this situation, only exact new research can probably continue. What we need are not another one to two hundred undecided studies, but two to three adequately designed studies by the impartialists to prove their effectiveness.[…]

    [Quod erat demonstrandum (see below): Efficacy of individualized homeopathic treatment of insomnia: Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial]

    […]Two hundred years of discussion, it would seem, does not make one or the other camp, but medicine as such ridiculous. What is worse, it ultimately harms our patients. „

    Edzard Ernst 2020: Older and not necessarily wiser.

    And here is a statement from one of the best-informed and most objective homeopathic critics on October 18, 2019:

    “You should also read my statements and those of the INH more closely: Our statement is that there is no robust / reliable / convincing evidence for efficacy beyond placebo. So not” none “but” no meaningful “what is in the absolute number makes a difference. Just as “no beer” is different from “no good beer”. ”

    And on November 28, 2019 at 9:55 am
    “Homeopathy does not work beyond the placebo effect.”

    Which statements of the “homeopathic experts” should one take SERIOUSLY [germ.: ERNST] now?

  • 1.

    “Ernst: The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee said there’s no evidence that homeopathy is effective as a treatment for any health condition.”

    Accodring to HRI Institute:

    The report is not a scientific document and therefore should not be considered part of the scientific literature or used as evidence by decision-makers It is not just homeopaths who say it is flawed – the report has been widely criticised by people outside the homeopathic profession. The committee of MPs excluded all evidence on homeopathy other than 5 systematic reviews and then based their conclusions on only 1 of these studies. The report did not represent the view of UK Government – the Department of Health dismissed the report

    2.

    “Ernst: There’s no evidence behind the idea that substances that cause certain symptoms can also help treat them. The Committee’s 2010 report on homeopathy said the “like cures like” principle is “theoretically weak”, and that this is the “settled view of medical science”.”

    According to Prof. H. Walach:

    While previous attempts were inconclusive, this new model allowed to separate placebo symptoms from verum symptoms repeatedly in a series of two definitive studies following promising pilot studies. Results were statistically significant.

    According to Dr. Van Wijk:

    The data support the hypothesis that small doses of toxic compounds may, under certain conditions, have beneficial effects related to stimulation of endogenous cytoprotective mechanisms. It is of interest that this stimulatory effect of small doses is dependent on the initial exposure condition

    According to Dr. Chikramane:

    Though the hormetic effects have been widely studied and reported to date, this study uniquely shows the possibilities of hormesis occurring at 3e6 orders of magnitude lower than reported concentrations. The hormetic activation using the super-Avogadro homeopathic remedies observed in our studies has now opened a Pandora’sBox. However, the discovery of NPs in these ultra-high dilutions corroborated with their hormesis-like activation discerned in the biological models and the influx of loads of information on biological activity of NPs, would now allow us to answer
    the complex questions of bio-efficacy of these remedies; questions which have perplexed the scientific community
    for centuries.

    3.

    Ernst: “Nor is there any evidence behind the idea that diluting and shaking substances in water can turn those substances into medicines. Some homeopaths believe that, as a result of the succussion process, the original substance leaves an “imprint” of itself on the water. But there’s no known mechanism by which this can occur.
    The ideas that underpin homeopathy aren’t accepted by mainstream science, and aren’t consistent with long-accepted principles on the way the physical world works.”

    According to Dr. Hahn:

    More than 100 such trials have been performed with homeopathic remedies. Pooling the better of them shows that homeopathy is superior to placebo by a factor of between two and three. This evidence has frequently been distorted by academics and sceptics to fit a specific recommendation for treatment. Two academic groups repeated the metaanalyses showing benefit and deliberately created a type II error by excluding more than 95% of the data. Such a manoeuvre is a stretch, and even more so when the sequential exclusion procedure is impossible to follow. Overlooking 90% of the double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trials does not help, as homeopathy will then still do better than placebo. Such evidence can hardly be called anecdotal

    According to up date scientific reviews:

    We reviewed 134 publications describing 203 experiments in the area of physicochemical research into homeopathically potentized preparations, which we analyzed in detail with the aim of extracting relevant information about what has been learned in the field and which experiments to undertake in the future. To conclude, the most promising techniques used so far are NMR relaxation, optical spectroscopy, and electrical impedance measurements. In these three areas, several sets of replicated high-quality experiments provide evidence for specific physicochemical properties of homeopathic
    preparations.

    According to HRI:

    As the body of clinical evidence in homeopathy grows, it has become increasingly difficult to claim that ‘there is no evidence’, or that ‘homeopathy is no better than placebo’. Yet these claims persist, fuelled by the lack of a recognised theory of how homeopathic medicines work. Some sceptics repeatedly fall back on the argument that ‘it can’t work, so it doesn’t work’. This position fails to acknowledge the existence of several working hypotheses, supported by a growing body of research into what exactly homeopathic remedies are, what their physicochemical properties are, and how they might interact with biological systems to cause detectable effects. However, further work is needed if the field is to reach an agreed consensus on the most likely mode of action and ultimately understand how homeopathic medicines produce biological effect

    4.

    Enrst: “implausible, not effective beyond placebo”

    According to Dr. Mathie:

    To return to the crossword analogy: there is evidence for the primary entry (homeopathy is not merely a placebo effect). This seems incompatible with intersecting entries, particularly those concerning possible mechanisms of action of very high dilutions. There is evidence, with replication including in multicentre experiments and independent replications, that ultra-molecular dilutions can exert biological effects. The fact that the mediator of these effects is currently unknown is valid ground for scepticism but not for extreme, yet vague, claims that homeopathy overturns much of existing knowledge. The suggestion that the homeopathic preparation process might transmit information no more contradicts established scientific laws than does the storage of information, by physical rather than chemical processes, in a magnetic medium.

    • The HRI is a bunch of homeopaths, Roger. True Believers who spend their time torturing data and misappropriating the scientific method in an ongoing attempt to validate their faith in the magic powers of shaken water. They are biased to their very core and anything they assert can be dismissed.

      Homeopaths can carry on with their claims. Science will continue to ignore them. Whichever whip you use to flog your dead horse, Roger, it will make no difference.

    • Lollypop,

      The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee said there’s no evidence that homeopathy is effective as a treatment for any health condition.”

      Accodring to HRI Institute:

      The report is not a scientific document and therefore should not be considered part of the scientific literature or used as evidence by decision-makers

      The House of Commons and the House of Lords have a number of Select Committees whose purpose is to examine the evidence concerning an issue in order to inform the Government and Parliament when it comes to decision making. Of course a Select Committee report isn’t a scientific document. It is a review of evidence conducted for the specific purpose of decision making. And yet you are saying that it should not be used by decision makers. What are you suggesting instead? That decision makers (i.e. politicians, who by and large have no scientific training) should spend their time reviewing the evidence themselves? That isn’t their job, it is the job of their advisers.

    • Lollypop said:

      Accodring [sic] to HRI Institute:

      The report is not a scientific document and therefore should not be considered part of the scientific literature or used as evidence by decision-makers It is not just homeopaths who say it is flawed – the report has been widely criticised by people outside the homeopathic profession. The committee of MPs excluded all evidence on homeopathy other than 5 systematic reviews and then based their conclusions on only 1 of these studies. The report did not represent the view of UK Government – the Department of Health dismissed the report

      As was pointed out, there were fatal problems with the reviews:

      1. The Kleijnen review is now 18 years old and thus outdated.

      2. Boissel et al merely combined p-values80 of the included studies. This article is now also outdated. Furthermore it is not unambiguously positive.

      3. Cucherat et al is the publication of the Boissel document which was a EUsponsored report. [The authors themselves noted that “there is some evidence that homeopathic treatments are more effective than placebo; however, the strength of this evidence is low because of the low methodological quality of the trials.

      4. Linde et al has been re-analysed by various authors, including Linde himself, and all of the 6 re-analyses (none of which were cited in the BHA’s submission) have come out negative.

      5. Shang et al very clearly arrived at a devastatingly negative overall conclusion.

      Why do you think such poor reviews should have been included?

      I don’t think the Department of Health responded did but the Government’s response said:

      8. We agree with many of the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations.

      But all they did was pass the buck down the line.

      But good to see you haven’t bothered with any of the other tropes usually trotted out by homeopaths about the Hoc report. You know, the other ones that are easily debunked.

    • Citing Chikramane in the context of promotion of homeopathy, automatically disqualifies the comment and shows the commenter has not studied the subject critically.
      Adding citations from the HRI supports the impression of serious analytical incapacity by the commenter.

    • Lenny:
      As I have previously said in other posts, you never contribute anything. To accuse the aforementioned scientists of “torturing” and “misinterpreting the data” is very, very serious. Fortunately, you can never hide from anonymity.

      Julian:
      Admitting that the report is not a scientific document is not a detail that helps you. And with regard to the review conducted in the report, it is striking that it is based on the systematic review of Ernst, refuted by Hahnm, and the meta-analysis of Shang, widely criticized and whose results are demonstrably favorable when the initial hypothesis is not modified.

      Alan:
      I do not understand what your point is, if the government’s response clearly and convincingly rejects the conclusions of the document, although timidly accepts them without making an analysis of the evidence. In addition, if Ernst criticizes that the previous revisions are several years old, his revisions too and alongside that of Shang are outdated. But even being generous, both reviews oscillate between admitting positive evidence and rejecting it as ” unconvincing.”

      Bjönr:
      To think that your opinion is evidence rather than alluding to the investigation is an irony

      Ernst:
      So you can accuse HRI of alleged biases, while there’s not a single post on your Blog about your relationship with Science Media Centre or Sense About Science, which gave you an award for “promoting critical thinking.” There’s something wrong here.

      • if someone receives a Nobel Prize, does he have a ‘relationship’ with dynamite?
        I am not aware of a ‘relationship’ with the SMC (who are unrelated to the Maddox Prize) or SAS other than the fact that I often agree with their work and they sometimes with mine.

      • Pops

        Where did I say “misinterpreting the data” ?

        Accusing someone of saying something they didn’t in print on an open forum is very, very serious. Fortunately, you can never hide from anonymity.

        The HRI and their ongoing exercises in tooth-fairy science are nothing more than a source of amusement. As are you.

        • You know, Lenny, I read this blog because as a lay person, I learn things. Lots of things.

          I must admit, however, that part of the charm of this blog is reading the silly nonsense written (and I use that term loosely) by Pops (love that!), Sandra, Roger and many of the other kooks who frequent this joint. They are genuinely funny. So, you’re right. they are an ongoing source of amusement. 🙂

      • Lollypop said:

        Alan:
        I do not understand what your point is, if the government’s response clearly and convincingly rejects the conclusions of the document, although timidly accepts them without making an analysis of the evidence. In addition, if Ernst criticizes that the previous revisions are several years old, his revisions too and alongside that of Shang are outdated. But even being generous, both reviews oscillate between admitting positive evidence and rejecting it as ” unconvincing.”

        The Government didn’t reject the conclusions: they passed the buck to avoid implementing its conclusions (which are now, essentially, implemented).

        But you forgot to say why they should have included poor reviews. But perhaps you know of some more recent reviews you’d like to put forward in favour of homeopathy?

    • In 2012, Harald Walach received the negative prize “Goldenes Brett” from Austrian skeptics, mainly for a masters thesis about the Kozyrev mirror conducted under his supervision. Whereas he praised it as “outstanding”, it was widely regarded as unscientific in the media.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harald_Walach#Psychology_and_parapsychology

  • Lenny:
    Although you did not say that you misinterpreted the data, you did accuse the authors of “torturing the data,” which is almost the same. On the other hand, what you did say was that they were “misappropriating the scientific method”, and it’s the most pathetic thing, as if you were the owner of science.

    Ernst:
    How can you not be related to Science Media Centre if you have the banner of that lobby on your blog?

    Ron:
    So you’re a lay person, can you tell me that you’re supposed to learn from insults and nonsense?

    Alan:
    Are you saying that the British government preferred to ignore the warnings of experts and MPS who voted against the report? Are you saying that favorable systematic reviews are “poor” even though you, Alan, put a low-quality Ernst review included in the report?

    RPG:
    Every day you get better, “Wikipedia” and “Austrian skeptics”, that says it all.

    • “How can you not be related to Science Media Centre if you have the banner of that lobby on your blog?”
      as I tried to tell you: I agree with much of their work. same with HW and other organisations. so I am pleased to promote it.

    • Plops

      P-hacking and Texas Sharpshooting – favourite tactics of homeopathy researchers -is torturing data. i make no claims to the ownership of the scientific method. Nobody does. But it has shown homeopathy to be nonsense. And has done so repeatedly and reliably. Homeopaths obviously don’t like their beliefs to shown to be false and seek to find ways in which they think science will support their fabulistic notions.

      This, my dear Popsykins, is a direct and irrefutable misappropriation of the scientific method.

      You don’t like this. Because you’re a fellow believer in magic water. This, as ever, is your problem and not one of science’s.

    • Lollypop said:

      Alan:
      Are you saying that the British government preferred to ignore the warnings of experts and MPS who voted against the report? Are you saying that favorable systematic reviews are “poor” even though you, Alan, put a low-quality Ernst review included in the report?

      Bizarre. The Government agreed with many of the conclusions and recommendations but chose to pass the buck and not make the decision themselves. But do you think those reviews are anything but poor? Perhaps you could help this discussion by posting the conclusions form those reviews so we can all see what they concluded?

      But are you aware of any more recent reviews of homeopathy?

    • @Plops

      So you’re a lay person, can you tell me that you’re supposed to learn from insults and nonsense?

      Well, you completely misread everything (surprise, surprise!). I learn from the sciencey-type people such as Edzard, Björn and many others including your favourite guy, Lenny. The nonsense comes from you and your mis-, under- and ill-informed brothers and sisters who think homeopathy is a thing. It’s that nonsense that gives me a chuckle. Please don’t stop.

      • I’m not surprised you don’t contribute anything, you’re Lenny’s copy. At least Alan and others can contribute a little, but you can’t.

        • How can you say that?!?! I make very important contributions all the time.

          As a lay person, I have a very specific role here. And I take it seriously.

          My job is to make fun the silly rants from people like you. 🙂

    • Ernst:

      That means you agree to spread fake news and you have severe conflicts of interest with groups associated with Monsanto. So your comments on the HRI are hypocrisy.

      Lenny:
      P-hacking should be demonstrated not with your empty comment, but with scientific publications. And even if that were done, you can torture the data to adjust a P curve to your liking using cherry picking, and that without considering the limitations of p-hacking analysis.

      “But it has shown homeopathy to be nonsense. And has done so repeatedly and reliably. Homeopaths obviously don’t like their beliefs to shown to be false and seek to find ways in which they think science will support their fabulistic notions.”

      Again you do not support your comment with evidence, but with your personal opinion.

      “This, my dear Popsykins, is a direct and irrefutable misappropriation of the scientific method. You don’t like this. Because you’re a fellow believer in magic water. This, as ever, is your problem and not one of science’s.”

      Do you feel okay believing that calling “magic” what you don’t like takes away the status evidence? can you share your epistemological or philosophy of science analyses?

      • Pops

        Again you confuse your position with mine. Mine is the one supported by robust evidence. I cite facts, not opinions. Your position is based on faith. Homeopathy is a religion, nothing more. We have provided our evidence. You haven’t.

        What does the NHS say about it?

        Homeopathy isn’t widely available on the NHS. In 2017, NHS England recommended that GPs and other prescribers should stop providing it.

        This is because they found “no clear or robust evidence to support the use of homeopathy on the NHS”.

        This is the document to which they link. A nice summation of the top-end evidence which damns homeopathy for the nonsense which it is.

        https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/sps-homeopathy.pdf

        The homeopaths, meanwhile, continue with their exercises in statistical misrepresentation which have been explained elsewhere by Professor Ernst and recognised by science for the garbage that they are.

        https://homeopathy-uk.org/treatment/evidence-for-homeopathy

        Your continued pathetic flailing and yammering is an amusement, Pops, and an object lesson of the warped thought-processes demonstrated by homeopathy fans.

        • But Lenny, you always repeat that “there’s no evidence,” whereas the NHS report says there’s no “robust evidence”. Unless you can’t distinguish between lack of evidence and lack of robust evidence, I recommend you back to elementary school. On the other hand, I find it curious that the NHS continues to cite the flawed Australian report and the non peer reviewed British report, which for some strange reason both documents do not include laboratory evidence or experiments in Chemical Physics as German PEK report did it. And a third detail, they cite Mathie’s review published in 2014 which says there was robust evidence. Does that mean there’s only robust evidence when it’s in the NHS’s best interest? The meta-analysis of Saha et al was published in a journal that you would call “predatory”, Does it mean that when the results are negative and published in such journals the NHS includes them but not those that are published in those same journals and with positive results? I’m telling you because a simple database search including “predatory” journals would tip the balance of the report you use a lot and since you have no problem with that allow me to update that document in a future. I must admit that despite this unfriendly exchange on your part, I’ve managed to get what I wanted, and you won’t have a problem complaining anymore.

          • Popsie

            You’re imagining things again. I specifically used the word ROBUST in the post to which you have replied.

            The Australian report was not flawed. The homeopaths have whined about it and done their standard special pleading because its findings once again demonstrates the lack of efficacy of magic shaken water. Their protestations and handwaving, like yours, is laughable and a demonstration once again of their desperate ignorance.

            Laboratory evidence is ignored because a) it’s a load of laughable and insignificant toss and b) because it is of no relevance whatsoever to the clinical results.

            And I notice that we get from you again a load of flimflam and obfuscation but not a single link to anything which could be construed as decent evidence. Almost as if you’ve not got any, Pops.

            Continue with your dreams of significance. Proper healthcare will continue to regard you with amused contempt.

          • Lollypop said

            And a third detail, they cite Mathie’s review published in 2014 which says there was robust evidence.

            This paper from Mathie in 2014?

            Mathie RT, Lloyd SM, Legg LA, et al. Randomised placebo-controlled trials of individualised homeopathic treatment: systematic review and meta-analysis. Syst Rev 2014;3:142. doi:10.1186/2046-4053-3-142

            What can you tell us about this ‘robust evidence’?

          • Alan

            “The low or unclear overall quality of the evidence prompts caution in interpreting the findings.”

            That means “robust”, does it?

            Is Popsie under the impression that “robust” means “shit”?

  • For 30C potencies to be accepted as producing reliable effects on human, animal, or plant physiology, would require so comprehensive a revision of understanding of the natural world, that the evidence would have to be of diamantine hardness, pellucid clarity and mountainous dimensions.

  • Alan:

    I suspect they’re just trying to distract. Anyway, don’t you read? From Mathie:

    “There was a small, statistically significant, treatment effect of individualised homeopathic treatment that
    was robust to sensitivity analysis based on ‘reliable evidence'”

    Lenny:

    “The Australian report was not flawed. The homeopaths have whined about it and done their standard special pleading because its findings once again demonstrates the lack of efficacy of magic shaken water. Their protestations and handwaving, like yours, is laughable and a demonstration once again of their desperate ignorance. Laboratory evidence is ignored because a) it’s a load of laughable and insignificant toss and b) because it is of no relevance whatsoever to the clinical results. And I notice that we get from you again a load of flimflam and obfuscation but not a single link to anything which could be construed as decent evidence. Almost as if you’ve not got any, Pops Continue with your dreams of significance. Proper healthcare will continue to regard you with amused contempt.”

    So something wasn’t failed just because you say it, even though you’re not even a scientist or analyst in the field of homeopathy or EBM. You ignore the evidence not with arguments or evidence, but by appealing to emotions, this immediately disqualifies your comment. However, what really interests me you cover up your shortcomings with a language full of emotion appealing to the “magic against reason”, as if you were one of the authors of the book of the hammer of the witches, published in the Spanish Inquisition. Maybe you can be useful as a case study for psychologists and psychiatrists.

    David:

    “For 30C potencies to be accepted as producing reliable effects on human, animal, or plant physiology, would require so comprehensive a revision of understanding of the natural world, that the evidence would have to be of diamantine hardness, pellucid clarity and mountainous dimensions.”

    No David, remember that no matter how much they stretch the definition of “reliable,” there comes a time when such a stretch breaks and the evidence will have to be normally accepted.

    Ron:

    “How can you say that?!?! I make very important contributions all the time. As a lay person, I have a very specific role here. And I take it seriously. My job is to make fun the silly rants from people like you.”

    If your job is to be the blog Jester, you could at least ask Ernst for a pay via Science Media Centre, they have countless resources when it comes to defending companies like Coca Cola or Monsanto.

    • Pops

      “Failed”? Who said that? Post after post you misquote, misread and misrepresent. It says much.

      Mathie?

      You’re still cherry-picking and ignoring the bottom line again. And we must remember that the small effects noted by Mathie are exactly those that would be expected from studies of inert therapies. Read Ioannidis to find out why.

      And still you bring no evidence to the table. Just avoidance and obfuscation. Put up or shut up, Lols.

      200 years of nonsense continues. Tell when Iris Bell gets her Nobel Prize, will you?

    • I wanted to be paid to be the jester but was told I had to get in line. I guess that means I am behind you and RG and all the other silly buggers who believe in alternative nonsense. You guys are waaaaaaaay funnier than I’ll ever be.

      Did I mention change your name because it’s just dumb? (On the other hand, this names makes me think you are a tiny child-like person (?) with a squeaky little voice who pokes its head out from under the bridge when Alice’s cat, Dinah, is not around. So maybe keep it.)

    • Lollypop said:

      Alan:

      I suspect they’re just trying to distract. Anyway, don’t you read? From Mathie:

      “There was a small, statistically significant, treatment effect of individualised homeopathic treatment that
      was robust to sensitivity analysis based on ‘reliable evidence’”

      Odd you selected just that conclusion when he also concluded:

      * The overall quality of the evidence was low or unclear, preventing decisive conclusions.
      * New RCT research of high quality on individualised homeopathy is required to enhance the totality of reliable evidence and thus enable clearer interpretation and a more informed scientific debate.

      But anyway, what can you tell us about all the trials Mathie at al. thought were ‘reliable’? You can tell us about all three of them if you like.

    • Alan and Lenny:

      Both confuse general conclusions with subgroup analysis. This is as silly as saying that a basket of 100 oranges with 20 in good condition and 80 in bad condition should be completely eliminated because most are unfit for consumption. What you two ignore, pair of misinformed, is that of those 80 oranges there are also negative essays, including some from your Master Ernst, which means several negative essays are of poor quality. That’s what Mathie is talking about, no more, no less, and in simple words.

      On the other hand, Lenny says that the results should be discarded because they are of small size, and for this he mentions the publication of Ioanndis, despite the fact that studies of homeopathy are usually of better quality and more careful, plus they don’t rely on companies with bad reputation in terms of fraud cases as Pfizer or any of the funding award John Maddox, who just gave it to Ernst.

      In Ioanndis paper: “The smaller the effect sizes in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true.” Poor Lenny does not seem to have read further, for in the same paper is mentioned:

      For example, investigators working in fields where true effect sizes are perceived to be small may be more likely to perform large studies than investigators working in fields where true effect sizes are perceived to be large… Highly prejudiced stakeholders may even create a barrier that aborts efforts at obtaining and disseminating opposing results. Conversely, the fact that a field is hot or has strong invested interests may sometimes promote larger studies and improved standards of research, enhancing the predictive value of its research finding

      A clear example of this is research in hormesis, in principle all the effects were small, with modern large-scale research the phenomenon has become established. Hence the need for all the basic scientific research that poor Lenny considers “insignificant” (even though he is not a scientist). So what Ioanndis says is that small effects are likely to be false, but it doesn’t say that happens in all cases, research findings are more likely true in scientific fields that undertake large studies, such as randomized controlled trials in cardiology (several thousand subjects randomized, and even less so when conducting controlled studie: “research findings are more likely true in scientific fields that undertake large studies, such as randomized controlled trials in cardiology (several thousand subjects randomized)”.

      • you clearly have no idea what you are talking about; certainly when you talk about the Maddox Prize.
        it must be hard to go through life and maintain this extraordinarily high level of ignorance.

      • despite the fact that studies of homeopathy are usually of better quality and more careful

        Another supposed fact pulled straight out of your arsehole, Pops.

        Homeopaths’ approaches to clinical trials generally display their utter ignorance of the scientific method. We’ve looked at enough of them here, especially the ones which homeopathy zealots like yourself and Dana imagine confer validity to their claims of significance. Frass and his serial exercises in underpowered Texas sharpshooting, the laughable Cuban leptospirosis study and many more.

      • Any time you want to discuss the trials Mathie thought were the best available, please do let me know, Lollypop.

      • It really is a pity that none of the three responded to my argument. Finally, I will take into consideration your complaints for the improvement of the investigation and that there is no more movement of the goal posts.

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