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

In the last few years, several individuals in Germany have, from entirely different angles, taken a fresh look at the evidence on homeopathy and found it to be desperately wanting. Independent of each other, they published articles and books about their research and insights. Here are 5 examples:

Die Homöopathie-Lüge: So gefährlich ist die Lehre von den weißen KügelchenChristian WeymayrNicole Heißmann, 2012

In Sachen Homöopathie: Eine Beweisaufnahme, Norbert Aust, 2013

Homöopathie neu gedacht: Was Patienten wirklich hilft, Natalie Grams, 2015

Der Glaube an die Globuli: Die Verheißungen der HomöopathieNorbert SchmackeBernd Hontschik, 2015

Der wahrscheinlich teuerste Zucker der Welt: Was Sie über Homöopathie und Alternativmedizin wissen sollten, Oliver Grunau, 2017

Inevitably, these individuals came into contact with each other and subsequently founded several working-groups to discuss their concerns and coordinate their activities. Thus the INH and the Muensteraner Kreis were born. So, now we have at least three overlapping groups of enthusiastic, multidisciplinary experts who voluntarily work towards informing the German public that paying for homeopathy out of public funds is unethical, nonsensical and not in the interest of progress:

  • the GWUP,
  • the INH
  • and the Muensteraner Kreis.

No wonder then, that the German homeopathic industry and other interested parties got worried. When they realised that (presumably due to the work of these altruistic enthusiasts) the sales figures of homeopathics in Germany had, for the first time since many years, started declining, they panicked.

Their reaction was, as far as I can see, similar to their previous response to criticism: they started a media campaign in an attempt to sway public opinion. And just like before, they have taken to employing PR-people who currently spend their time defaming all individuals voicing criticism of homeopathy in Germany. Their prime targets are those experts who are most exposed to activities of responsibly informing the public about homeopathy via lectures, publications social media, etc. All of us currently receive floods of attack, insults and libellous defamations. As before (innovation does not seem to be a hallmark of homeopathy), these attacks relate to claims that:

  • we are incompetent,
  • we do not care about the welfare of patients,
  • we are habitual liars,
  • we are on the payroll of the pharmaceutical industry,
  • we aim at limiting patient choice,
  • we do what we do because we crave the limelight.

So, what is going to happen?

I cannot read tea leaves but am nevertheless sure of a few things:

  • The German homeopathy lobby will not easily give up; after all, they have half a billion Euros per year to lose.
  • They will not argue on the basis of science or evidence, because they know that neither are in their favour.
  • They will fight dirty and try to defame everyone who stands in their way.
  • They will use their political influence and their considerable financial power.

AND YET THEY WILL LOSE!

Not because we are so well organised or have great resources – in fact, as far as I can see, we have none – but because, in medicine, the evidence is invincible and will eventually prevail. Progress might be delayed, but it cannot be halted by those who cling to an obsolete dogma.

______________________________________

The above text is from a blog post I published 17 moths ago. It seems that my prediction was not wrong. Today, I saw two tweets which suggest that, in Germany, homeopathy is continuing to disappear from the realm of conventional medicine:

  1. Soeben erreicht mich die Nachricht, dass der Vorstand der Bayerischen Landesärztekammer in der Sitzung am 5.12. einstimmig beschlossen hat, die Zusatzweiterbildung Homöopathie aus der ärztlichen Weiterbildungsordnung zu entfernen. EINSTIMMIG!!!
  2. 11 von 17 Ärztekammern haben die Homöopathie gekickt. Bleiben noch 6. Die nächste Entscheidung steht in Berlin an.

I’ll translate them for you:

  1. I have just received the news that the Board of the Bavarian Medical Association has unanimously decided in the meeting on 5.12. to remove the additional training in homeopathy from the medical training regulations. UNANIMOUSLY!!!
  2. 11 of 17 medical associations have kicked homeopathy. That leaves 6. The next decision is due in Berlin.

This means that in most German counties (there is hope that, sooner or later, the other 6 will follow suit), doctors will no longer be able to train in homeopathy and use the title ‘homeopath’.

Yes, it took a while – about 200 years – but it seems that the German medical profession is finally realising that homeopathy is treatment with placebos.

69 Responses to The German medical profession is finally realising that homeopathy is treatment with placebos. 

  • Does no-one in the media point our that the PR people who try to smear scientists like you, are in the pockets of Big Homeo-Pharma? People are quick to suggest that ethical scientists are in the pockets of Big Pharma.

    • Not exactly. The people advocating are not in the pockets of Big Homeo Pharma – almost all of them are making a living by applying honeopathic pseudo-treatments or by selling homeopathic pseudo-remedies.

  • Or Big Charma.
    ‘Complementary Health and Alternative Remedy Manufacturers’.

  • I doubt that you need me to suggest to you that CON-med to some extent relies on the same placebo effect in many therapies.

    “Again and again, the same problem applies to conventional medicine. Even some of the best-designed trials run headlong into the hidden power of the placebo. Consider the data from a 2002 review of trials on the six leading antidepressants, including Prozac, Zoloft and Effexor. Of the 47 trials, 27 showed the antidepressants to have no greater benefit than the placebo control group. According to the lead author, Irving Kirsch of the University of Connecticut, the remaining 20 showed improvements of dubious clinical significance.
    In fact, evaluating any new treatment for a condition that must be subjectively evaluated — pain, mood change, quality of life — runs into the same problem. Whether looking at drugs for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or for mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, or simply determining if a drug can modify the behavioral manifestations of Alzheimer’s disease, we are at the mercy of how to adequately contain and measure the placebo effect — an impossibly complex task with serious ethical implications.”

    “In a landmark 2002 study of 180 patients with demonstrable knee osteoarthritis, patients who had “sham” arthroscopic surgery (general anesthesia was given and superficial incisions were made in the skin, but no actual surgical repair was performed) reported as much pain relief and improved mobility as patients who underwent the actual procedure. At the time of the study, more than 650,000 knee operations had been performed annually at a cost of $5,000 each.
    In other words, billions were spent on a surgical procedure that hadn’t undergone a decent controlled study against placebo — the same criticism often leveled by CAM skeptics. At least glucosamine doesn’t have the known serious side effects associated with unnecessary surgery.”

    https://www.salon.com/2008/08/01/placebo_effect/

  • @David B

    “”Call me what you like – I’m intellectually mediocre. But you considerably devalue you credibility when you call a scientist of Professor Ernst’s credentials ‘daft’.”

    David, common sense does not equal intelligence. The professor has his credentials and I respect that, but he makes wrong conclusions. Knowledge does not make a person correct. The professor has his biases.

    I am NOT suggesting that ALL Conventional medicine is not superior to homeopathy. I prescribe to emergency procedures, many surgeries, especially for broken bones. I prescribe to some preventative and diagnostic measures, I recently had a colonoscopy. I prescribe to blood testing, use of radiography (with limits if possible). I prescribe to antibiotics when needed, and some medications with limited length of use. I might even accept a vaccine if I felt that the disease is worse than the prevention.

    Science in modern medicine has make great strides, yet I keep my distance after seeing more BS in Conventional medicine than I ever thought I see AND experience for myself.

    If a person continues to do the same thing and expect and different result….. that person is daft. I made my adjustments to the life, and I’m the better for it. Life is about making choices, because we will live or die by our decisions.

    • RG, is English not your native language?

      • @David B

        David, were you brought into this world by a human mother, and on planet earth ?

        • I was born in 1957, in a hospital in Glasgow, Earth, as I wanted to be near my mother at the time.

          I asked about your native language because I thought there might be some excuse for the meaningless expression “I prescribe to”.

          • @David B

            lol, nice answer… I love it. You not much younger than myself. We were both born on planet earth, and born with a similar need to be close to our mother. You see, we are really not sooooo different.

            I think the term prescribe is a appropriate work in the context of our conversation…. no ?

            https://www.dictionary.com/browse/prescribe
            https://www.thefreedictionary.com/prescribe

          • No, your use of the word “prescribe” is not appropriate.

            You said ” I prescribe to some preventative and diagnostic measures, ……. . I prescribe to blood testing, use of radiography (with limits if possible). I prescribe to antibiotics when needed, …….”

            You cannot in English say “I prescribe to”. It is meaningless, with the preposition “to”. As you have seen, the verb prescribe means basically to direct or instruct in writing. Thus a doctor prescribes antibiotics to be taken three times a day, or a university teacher prescribes a reading list for students, or a sports coach prescribes an exercise regimen. You cannot prescribe TO something – it’s meaningless.

            The word SUBscribe, however, is different. It can mean basically to show that you agree to or with something; that you are, as it were, signing the bottom of the document – literally to ‘underwrite’. Thus, you can subscribe TO a viewpoint, idea, or concept. “I subscribe to the view that homeopathy is bunk”.

    • “David, common sense does not equal intelligence. The professor has his credentials and I respect that, but he makes wrong conclusions. Knowledge does not make a person correct. The professor has his biases”.

      Which published conclusions from Professoir Ernst and/or his team have been wrong, and what is your evidence base for claiming that they are wrong?

      The team at Exeter undertook their scientific work with an open mind and the intention to follow where the evidence led. That’s what they did. If bowing to the evidence of study after study and metanalysis after metanalysis is defined by you as ‘bias’, so be it. You can re-define words how you like.

    • “Science in modern medicine has make great strides, yet I keep my distance after seeing more BS in Conventional medicine than I ever thought I see AND experience for myself.”

      Really, dude, you think homeopathy’s real. You wouldn’t recognize BS if it filled your britches to the brim.

  • Dr. Lübbers:”I have just received the news that the Board of the Bavarian Medical Association has unanimously decided in the meeting on 5.12. to remove the additional training in homeopathy from the medical training regulations. UNANIMOUSLY!!!”

    !!!!!!!!!!!!! ANTI-FRAMING CORRECTION: !!!!!!!!

    This was a (consciously?) MISLEADING tweet from Dr. Lübbers on Twitter, THAT DOESN’T MEET THE ACTUAL DECISION concerning Homeopathy in Bavaria. At the last Bavarian Doctors’ Day, the subject of the “additional designation of homeopathy” was referred back to the board of the BLÄK after a CONTROVERSE discussion for the purpose of preparing an APPLICATION FOR THE NEXT BAVARIAN MEDICINE’S DAY, which has now been formulated in the Presidium as an APPLICATION to abolish the additional designation homeopathy.

    NO DECISION TO ABOLISH HOMEOPATHY SO FAR IN BAVARIA!

    • And this misleading tweet from Dr. Lübbers, which suggested false facts, is exactly symbolic of the dubious-demagogic nature of the homeopathy inquisition and reminds in an unfortunate way of professional bans of an unfortunate time …

    • What the words say and what your brain hears bears absolutely no resemblance at all, does it.

      • Heinrich Hümmer is a Bavarian homeopath. It is a natural disaster for him that HIS medical association is against homeopathy. So he reacts like Trump: Total denial with reversal of the facts.

        • Poor, poor Anonymous RPGNo1! Do you really need it and can you only do this: Ad hominem?
          Take an example from the discourse style of Dr. Aust (see below): As always, I can almost completely agree with him in the words and how he presents the facts! He just has a correct style despite all different opinions! However, I would like to introduce two small improvements:
          1) I assume that the proposal of the board will be voted on in the general assembly next year. And I am not confident about homeopathy herein.
          2) The testimony of Dr. Lübbers definitely does not correspond to the facts like you, Dr. Aust, confirm it yourself with your correct presentation of the processes.
          3) For RPGNo1: For me personally, a decision by the General Assembly next year to end the further training opportunity would be completely irrelevant (in pension), but I think, it would be a disaster for the patients who visit homeopaths en masse for help…..

          • “patients who visit homeopaths en masse for help”

            And yet, who says there isn’t common ground to be found; for we all agree that patients who visit homeopaths need help!

          • Some more factchecking here:
            According to the statutes the board of the Bavarian medical chamber is entitled to decide on issues brought to their attention by the members or of its own accord. There is no provision that the board must obtaint the approval of the assembly in any case. See § 9 (3) a: https://www.blaek.de/kammerrecht/satzung-der-bayerischen-landesaerztekammer#d9x5iodmFu1534857022cg5th188vs727.

            So if the board decided to ban homeoptahy from the trainings regulations this decision is binding. Of course a new board can pick up this issue and decide anew, but as matters are, the trainings in homeopathy and of the additional title of homeopath is to end in Bavaria. #11 of 17 medical chambers that we have in Germany

          • don’t tell me that HH was wrong; that’s not like him!!!

          • Dear Doctor Aust,
            I don´t like to contradict you because your statements are almost always well founded and I admire your well-founded research.
            But:
            “The final decision [on the advanced training regulations for homeopathy] has to be made by the Bavarian Medical Association doctor´s day”, this is the information that was communicated to me by the professional body ……

            Dear Edzard: Where it turns out that I am not right, unlike you, I can admit and do so clearly, because I always try to act fairly and honestly (e.g. that the evidence of homeopathy is in need of improvement … ..).

          • Okay, I will factcheck this. Which professional body issued this communication?

          • Another request to the Bavarian State Medical Association results:

            Statement from Dr. Lübbers is not correct!

            “The final decision on the proposal of the board will not be made until next year in the general assembly!”

        • Dr Hümmer has a very impressive mustache.

    • Let us try to clear this: The last meeting of the Bavarian doctor’s organisation (“Ärztetag”) took place on October 20, 2020. Maybe there was discussion about homeopathy in the training regulations for medical doctors in Bavaria. This is not relevant in this context.

      Because Lübber’s tweet is about a decision of the board of the medical chamber of Bavaria dated December 5, 2020. They decided unanimously, that the option of taking courses in homeopathy and to receive the additional title “homeopath” should be removed from the regulation. This shall be conducted, so it seems, at some point in the future. By the way: This is no decision to abolish homeopathy, this is a decision to abolish trainings in homeopathy. See the difference?

      There may be some doubt if the board of the chamber is entitled to override the non-decision of the chamber’s members. From Hümmer’s text this seems to be the case, as the assembly referred this issue back to the board. I would assume this happened in order to come to some conclusion and decision.

      This was apparently done as Lübbers points out.

  • The evidence from the German resource for statistics de statista.com suggests otherwise Edzard. Your references are dated 2012-2017. The data below shows that turnover for homeopathic manufacturers has increased from 2017.
    2016: 621 million Euro
    2017: 629 million Euro
    2018: 666 million Euro
    2019: 677 million Euro
    This data does not support any proposal that homeopathy in Germany is decreasing.
    It looks like the media campaign for homeopathy you blogged about in 05/20218 has worked!
    With many hopeless so called evidence based treatments still in use and forcing people to CAM it is no wonder that homeopathy continues to prosper. If ever researchers /Drs get around to dealing with all the substandard trials of these EBM treatments then you might find yourself actually getting somewhere.
    However, this may not happen easily so I expect homeopathy to continue to increase at around 3% per year.

    • I do not know what the databese is, that statista.com accesses. But here are data from ABDA, which is the German Associacion of Organisations of Pharmacies (“Bundesvereinigung Deutscher Apothekerverbände”), giving the following figures:

      2017: 37 million packages sold for million Euro 392
      2018: 35 million packages sold for million Euro 380
      2019: 33 million packages sold for million Euro 368

      Source: https://www.abda.de/publikationen/ – select “German Pharmacies” and scroll to page 63, that is the adobe-page 32.

      This is the actual sales for homeopathy, that is the cash flow of the pharmacies generated by homeopathics. There are other figures around – and statista may refer to them – that include anthroposophic remedies, Schueßler salts and Bach flowers. And very important include VAT. I do not know if this explains the difference in figures.

  • So Norberts data shows that sales are decreasing whilst my data shows that they are increasing. Funny that.
    Anyway I have entered Norbert’s data into my advanced quantum computer modelling system.
    This system converts data into waves using Eulers formula and Fourier transforms .
    Results show that decreases in units sold are due to high numbers of people being cured.
    By 2031 everyone will be cured so you should all be rejoicing for this during these challenging times

    • Why by 2031?

      • If you extrapolate Norbert’s data then sales will come to zero around 2031. This is of course would be due to everyone being cured. This does not however take into account atypical or unexpected events. So don’t blame me if sales reach a minimum and then increase exponentially.

        • Oh I see, thank you.

          And do you know of any reliable, replicated clinical evidence of any homeopathic remedy producing any effect greater than placebo?

          If homeopathy hasn’t brought about effective cures in 200 years, I doubt it will do it by 2031.

          • I am interested in the increase in use of homeopathy at grass roots level. This increase is down to peoples experiences and not down to evidence. Researchers and Drs are welcome to quote lack of evidence and tell people not to use it. We will continue to use it anyway. Drs and researchers have the problem not homeopathic users.

          • … and since this ‘increase’ is, in fact, a decrease, it is a very homeopathic interpretation of reality: less is more, the idea behind potentisation.

          • An increase in popularity cannot be taken as demonstration of effectiveness.

            Things can simply become fashionable – consider the rise, and subsequent abandonment, of phrenology at the end of the 19th century. Even Dr Arthur Conan Doyle had Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes beliving in it.

            Many things go through fads of popularity. But in any case, as we have seen, homeopathy is decreasing, not increasing, in popularity.

          • It seems invidious and disingenuous to say “Drs and researchers have the problem not homeopathic users.”

            Drs and researchers have the challenge of finding treatments to help people be well, and naturally they want to choose effective treatments that have been shown to work better than placebo. ANd it’s a problem for homeopathic users if they have serious health conditions that are only getting placebo treatments.

          • This increase is down to peoples experiences and not down to evidence. … We will continue to use it anyway.

            And if you would just be honest about what homeopathy actually is and why you follow it—that it is a religion belief system and practice, not medicine—then everyone else would have a lot less problem with both it and you.

            To give a similar example: Christian Scientists (the name is a misnomer) enjoy lots of leeway to injure and kill themselves, and the only time the grown-ups have to step in is when those believers start inflicting their nonsense on those who are not free to make that choice for themselves, such as children.

            So as long as you willfully misrepresent yourselves—as long as you commit financial and research fraud and present a clear and active danger to the health and lives of others—then damn right doctors, researchers, the law, and everyone else in a properly functioning society should smack you down. Hard.

            Your funeral is your problem; we don’t care. But other people’s funerals? You belong in jail.

            You can’t even be honest with yourselves, never mind with anyone else. And that is your problem too. 100%

            “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion.” – Steven Weinberg

    • Here is the fault: You must not use Euler’s equations. These Euler equations are a set of quasilinear hyperbolic equations governing adiabatic and inviscid flow (in fact my speciality of past days).

      It is the Legendre transformation that you will want. This is a mathematical operation (and this is no joke of mine!) that “transforms real valued convex functions of one real variable”. See here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legendre_transformation

      So I am not convinced that your conclusions will hold true in the future.

    • Now it occurs to me, maybe Laplace-Transformation would be the thing you need: This is “an integral transform that converts a function of a real variable t […] to a function of a complex variable s […]”

      And again – this is no joke of mine.

  • Interesting Norbert. I was though referring to Eulers formula that links the exponential and i to cos, sin functions.

    • Oh, I see. Leonhard Euler was a very productive fellow and there are a lot of mathematical methods that bear his name. For me Euler’s equations are basic formulas in fluid dynamics. And your reference to the Fourier-Transformation, which is a method to derive spektra from continuous signals like noise, brought me off the track completely.

  • Steven Novella has taken a look on the German homeopathy industry … and its decline. Very nice.

    https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/homeopathy-declining-in-germany/

  • I find it quite amusing that some sceptic journalists in their articles are using my data eg Hruby undark.org 2020.
    670 million euros quoted !
    Then we have Sayburn medscape 2018 55 million units.
    Bach, Schussler – I am happy to include the lot. It all adds up and shows that millions are choosing other options rather than relying on EBM.

    • But it isn’t making them any better than any other placebo can.

      • That is not my problem.

        • “No man is an island, entire of itself…… Each man’s death diminishes me, For I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee”.

          It is your problem if you support treatments not shown to be effective, and people die. It is a problem of moral teprehensibility.

        • Well at least you’re an honest psychopath.

        • “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee”. John Donne, Meditation 117

          It is your problem. You are morally reprehensible if you support treatments that don’t work, and people get ill and/or die in consequence. You are involved in humanity. You are a citizen.

    • @ Dendra

      “It all adds up and shows that millions are choosing other options rather than relying on EBM.”

      No matter how often logical fallacies are pointed out to you you NEVER learn from them do you?
      Are you incapable of learning how to avoid these totally fallacious methods of presenting arguments and thinking?

      This is the commonly known “argumentum ad populum.” Science is not a popularity contest.
      A lot of people thinking something does not make it
      Prior to the 16th Century almost the entire population of the earth believed the sun orbited the earth – but that did not make it so! The planets did not change their alignment when a sufficient percentage of the earth’s population changed their minds over the next few hundred years!
      Facts do not care whether you believe in them or not.

      The Theory of Relativity existed before Einstein discovered it. It would have existed even if he had never discovered it.
      It still exists if you choose not to believe in it. It doesn’t give a fig whether you choose to believe in it or not.

      Can you now understand the illogicality of your reasoning?
      It doesn’t matter HOW many millions of people abandon EBM or SBM and follow the fallacies of SCAM – it will not make a jot of it one whit less scammier or more true. It will NOT make SCAM work any better or make the empty promises of homeopathy or other useless SCAMS and more effective.

      What IS sad about your gloating is that people are being misinformed and are lead away from logical and rational reasoning into the befuddled and muddled mish mash of addle pated nonsense that is SCAM. Where science is replaced by pseudoscience and truth is replaced by any old lie that happens to be convenient and make believe and fantasy are allowed to replace clear and rational thought.

      You would really be well served by trying to learn something from these exchanges – commentators here have repeatedly pointed out to you errors like these yet you keep repeating them ad nauseam.
      You would do well to learn the dozen or so most common logical fallacies and at the very least stop committing them on here time after time. You might even learn something about homeopathy in the process!

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies

  • Sorry for posting a similar reply twice. I thought it hadn’t sent, the first time.

Leave a Reply to RG Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent Comments

Note that comments can be edited for up to five minutes after they are first submitted but you must tick the box: “Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.”

The most recent comments from all posts can be seen here.

Archives
Categories