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

In Germany, the anti-vax movement is frighteningly strong and it constitutes one of the main reasons for the relatively immunization rate. In no small part, this is due to the many anti-vax Heilpraktiker who practice in Germany. In an attempt to put the record straight, the ‘Verband Klassischer Homöopathen Deutschlands’ (VKHD, Association of Classical Homeopaths of Germany) recently published an article entitled ‘Heilpraktiker – Homeopathy – Vaccination’ (Heilpraktiker – Homöopathie – Impfen). Here is a short excerpt (my translation):

… There is a clear conceptual similarity between homeopathy and vaccination [1]. From a historical point of view, this was already reflected in the early days of homeopathy, when its discoverer, Samuel Hahnemann, expressed himself very positively with regard to the smallpox vaccination newly introduced at that time [2]. Thus, it is historically wrong to insinuate that users of homeopathy have a fundamentally negative attitude towards vaccinations [3]. In this context, terms such as “vaccination opponents” or “vaccination refusers” are misleading and defamatory [4].

A critical (not skeptical) approach to the topic of vaccinations is basically a characteristic of people with medical expertise. Such an attitude corresponds to the critical consideration necessary in daily practice and in each individual case to advise on suitable therapy options [5]. Properly working alternative practitioners give differentiated advice accordingly [6]. A fundamentally vaccine-rejecting attitude is precisely not a characteristic of a critical assessment that has taken place. The same applies to an unreflective recommendation of vaccinations or therapy methods, without taking into account individual factors as well as scientific and social backgrounds [7].

For the VKHD, we cannot give exact figures on recovered, vaccinated, or unvaccinated members. It is not the responsibility of a professional association to demand such information from its members [8]. We assume that alternative practitioners who provide information on vaccinations do so in accordance with a responsible ethical attitude, regardless of their own vaccination status [9] …

I have taken the liberty of inserting some references into this text. They relate to my comments, which are as follows:

  1.  A conceptual similarity between vaccination and homeopathy exists only in the minds of homeopaths. They often claim that both use highly diluted remedies. This is wrong because homeopathic remedies do not usually contain active ingredients, whereas vaccines do. This fact also explains why homeopathics do not produce immune reactions, whereas vaccines do.
  2.  Correct! Hahnemann was in favor of vaccination. That is why he would be ashamed today if he knew how many homeopaths oppose vaccination.
  3. What has this got to do with ‘historical’? I assume that the ‘insinuations’ refer to the situation today. Further, I don’t think anyone is suggesting that all homeopaths are ‘fundamentally’ opposed to vaccination. However, that many of them are anti-vaxers is an indisputable fact.
  4. I would rather think they are accurate.
  5. Correct.
  6. How can they without any medical background?
  7. Is it to be implied here that real medical people do?
  8. Maybe not ‘demand’, but inquire or request would be possible and desirable, wouldn’t it?
  9. It is nice that you believe this. But belief is not evidence.

 

32 Responses to “There is a clear conceptual similarity between homeopathy and vaccination” NO, THERE ISN’T!

  • In spite of how irritating their ideas and conclusions are, it has become apparent throughout the pandemic that way too many people (all over the world) believe that the local witchdoctor, homeopath, guru, or TV “doctor” know more than real doctors and scientists. Hell, even some docors and scientists have lost their way and actively participate in the spread of nonsense and misinformation.

    While I appreciate your critique, that is preaching to the choir and will do little to change the hearts and minds of the believers. I don’t have a simple answer, but we all need to do more; especially clinicians who send people away (for whatever reason) feeling that their needs, beyond the actual health probem, have not been met. A lot of this stems from the widespread notion that doctors do not “treat the whole person” or that they overmedicate. Sometimes people do just need to feel that they are heard beyond listing their symptoms.

    I don’t for one minute think that things like “integrative medicine” should be the answer–you can’t add rubbish to the bin and expect it to stop stinking even if you add the rubbish in a clean bag. But I know too many people who turn to various SCAMs as the result of not feeling any connection to their real doctors.

    • correct!
      the popularity of SCAM is also a poignant criticism of what is happening in conventional medicine
      [I have been saying this for the last 20 years, alas to no avail]

  • There is a clear connection between homeopathy and conventional medicine. If you look at the list of side effects for EVERY conventional drug you will find the same symptoms that it is meant to treat. Conventional medicine is practicing bad homeopathy. If doctors would match ALL or most of the symptoms of the conventional drug to the patients symptoms then the drug would be curative. Since they only match on a few symptoms, those that define the limited definition of the conventional disease, the drugs only act palliatively or suppressively.

    • Roger

      There really is no end to your delusions, is there?

      • Well, I have looked at the top 50 most used conventional drugs and every one has side effects identical to what they are used to treat. Why dont you prove it is delusional by checking the next 50 most used drugs and report back.

  • In due respect, it is NOT just homeopaths who claim a connection from vaccines to homeopathy, it is also the scientist who won the first Nobel Prize in medicine for discovering the tetanus and diphtheria vaccines!!! He actually claimed to have gotten the inspiration for creating these vaccines from homeopathy. And unlike Ernst’s misrepresentations on homeopathic research, he cannot change or misrepresent history as he may be wont to do.

    And as for Hahnemann supporting vaccination…he did…using small doses of pathogens made sense to him (and to most homeopaths)…BUT the various adjunctive agents used in vaccines AND the encouragement to take 70+ vaccines by adolescence would NOT make sense to him. And here is where Ernst over-simplifies information and evidence. Good health and good science doesn’t mean that a treatment is beneficial in any dose or any frequency…health and science are a tad more complex than that.

    So, here’s some information about that Nobelist who discovered the tetanus and diphtheria vaccines:

    Emil Adolf von Behring won the first Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology for his discovery of the diphtheria antitoxin. Later, he discovered the tetanus antitoxin. For many years he served as military captain of the medical corps to the Pharmacological Institute at the University of Bonn, and then was given a position at the Hygiene Institute of Berlin in 1888 as assistant to Robert Koch (1843–1910), one of the pioneers of bacteriology. He then became professor of hygienics in the Faculty of Medicine at the prestigious University of Marburg. Because of his significant discoveries in immunology, Behring retains a highly regarded place in its early history.

    In 1892 Behring actually experimented with serial (homeopathic) dilutions and found paradoxically enhanced immunogenic activity, but he was advised to suppress this experiment due to the aid and comfort it would provide to homeopaths. Only after he won the Nobel Prize did he feel comfortable in making public these experiments (Behring, 1905; Coulter, 1994, 97).

    Behring broke from orthodox medical tradition by recognizing the value of the homeopathic law of similars:
    In spite of all scientific speculations and experiments regarding smallpox vaccination, Jenner’s discovery remained an erratic blocking medicine, till the biochemically thinking Pasteur, devoid of all medical classroom knowledge, traced the origin of this therapeutic block to a principle which cannot better be characterized than by Hahnemann’s word: homeopathic. Indeed, what else causes the epidemiological immunity in sheep, vaccinated against anthrax than the influence previously exerted by a virus, similar in character to that of the fatal anthrax virus? And by what technical term could we more appropriately speak of this influence, exerted by a similar virus than by Hahnemann’s word “homeopathy”? I am touching here upon a subject anathematized till very recently by medical penalty: but if I am to present these problems in historical illumination, dogmatic imprecations must not deter me. (Behring, 1905)
    Behring actually made a plea for homeopathy to be granted “citizenship of medicine” (medicinisches Biirgerrecht) and that it no longer be taboo for physicians to practice it. Behring even said he would go to a homeopath himself: “If I were confronted with a hitherto incurable disease and could see no way to treat it other than homeopathy, I can assure you that I would not be deterred from following this course by dogmatic considerations” (Behring, 1905; Coulter, 1994, 98).
    Behring also showed a certain sophisticated understanding of Hahnemann’s contribution to medicine and pharmacology:
    “The concept that the sick person reacts differently to medications than the healthy one, which had to be established empirically by therapeutic trials, also played a role in Hahnemann’s thinking” (from a Behring article in 1915, quoted in Coulter, 1994, 96).

    The point here is that Behring understood that homeopaths determine the effectiveness of a medicine by conducting experiments in toxicology in which relatively healthy people are given repeated doses of a substance until symptoms of overdose are created. Every simple or complex substance will create its own toxicological syndrome of symptoms, and homeopathic doses of that substance can and will heal people who have that similar symptom complex. The logic here is because symptoms of illness, from whatever cause, are adaptive efforts of the body to fight infection or adapt to some sort of stress, the use of a medicinal agent that mimics the body’s defenses will provide immunological benefit to the sick person.

    In 1898 Behring asserted that Koch’s discovery of the Tuberculin bacilli and his use of it to treat people for tuberculosis falls under the homeopathic principle, as does Pasteur’s rabies therapy (Coulter, 1994, 96). Koch and Pasteur could not and certainly would not give homeopathy credit for any insight or contribution to their discovery, or if they did, they and their new medicine would have been harshly attacked.

    By the mid-1890s, as a result of Koch’s claims, London homeopath Dr. James Compton-Burnett (1840–1901) used homeopathic doses of the tuberculous sputum to treat fifty-four people, calling this medicine Bacillinum. Compton-Burnett aptly differentiated his medicine from Koch’s:

    “The difference between our old friend [homeopathic] Tuberculinum or Bacillinum and that of Koch lies in the way it is obtained; our is the virus of the natural disease itself, while Koch’s is the same virus artificially obtained in an incubator from colonies of bacilli thriving on beef-jelly; ours is the chick hatched under the hen. Koch’s is the chick hatched in an incubator.” (Compton-Burnett, 1890, xiii–xiv)

    • “In due respect, it is NOT just homeopaths who claim a connection from vaccines to homeopathy, it is also the scientist who won the first Nobel Prize in medicine for discovering the tetanus and diphtheria vaccines!!! ”
      In due respect, it is NOT just homeopaths who make mistakes.

  • So…Eddie…you can’t rewrite history, despite my prediction that you would try to do so.

    And of course, please show me where Hahnemann approved the usage of 70+ vaccines to children…or do you believe that once anyone says something about any drug that ANY strength or frequency of the drug is also supported by this person?

    • “… show me where Hahnemann approved the usage of 70+ vaccines to children…”
      How many different vaccines existed during his time?

      But thanks for confirming that you are an anti-vaxxer.

      • Gad…HOW do you jump into THAT conclusion? Oh…I know how you do it…you do it without any evidence. You do it with ad hominem attacks. You do it with ignorance…and you do it with cult followers. You are a master of “evidence debased medicine.” (oooo…that’s a new one!).

    • Mr. Ullman, in another thread you mentioned that “only liars or fools” doubted that it was possible to tell the difference between homeopathic and non-homeopathic water. When I asked you to name a laboratory who could do this, you said it was “no problem” to name one. It would be very helpful if you could do that now. This is my thirteenth time of asking you.

      • I have answered your questions dozens of times. The proof was published in Langmuir (2012). The proof was published in the meta-analyses sponsored by the government of Switzerland…and of Australia (in their original report, not the bastardized junk science review that got 99% of the press…and also in the FINAL report from the Australian government…and in day-to-day practice of millions of patients.

        • David didn’t ask for “proof”, Dana

          He asked for the name of the laboratory which could tell the difference between homeopathic and non-homeopathic water. Which you said would be “no problem”.

          You have not named the laboratory. Because you can’t. And you know it. No laboratory can tell the difference. And you know it. So you’re fudging and dodging again. The references you cite are irrelevant. They mention no laboratories which can do this. Are you still yammering about Langmuir? Oh dear. And the draft Australian report, which claimed to have found “encouraging evidence” for only five treatments but nothing else? And you somehow dream that this supports your nonsense?

          It’s been a few years since that report was published. Plenty of time for other evidence to emerge and for homeopathy to take its rightful place at the high table in the treatment of these five conditions.

          Hasn’t happened, has it. Because the draft was just that, Dana. A draft. Poor science. And was recognised as such. Remind us what the ombudsman has said about the HRI’s complaint?

          Nothing.

          Busted flush, Dana. Handwaving and hot air is all you have. As ever. Your pathetic and ignorant shouting and stamping remains completely insignificant. You are a bloviating and irrelevant object of ridicule, Dana. At what point will you notice that all your years of spouting have achieved absolutely nothing?

          • Mr Ullman, I cannot but wholeheartedly agree with Lenny’s comments.

            Mr Ullman, if you could just spare a moment to name the laboratory which can distinguish homeopathic water from non-homepathic water, I would appreciate that very much. I will then be able to write to the laboratory people and clarify my understanding, as I do not like to think of myself as among “liars or fools”.

            Fourteenth time of asking.

          • You can write to IIT (India Institute of Technology). The highly prestigious scientific institution that conducted that research published in LANGMUIR.

            There, I’ve answered your friggin’ question. Now, the ball is in your court.

          • Mr. Ullman, thank you for your response, after the fourteenth time of asking. I am a little surprised by your rebarbative tone, especially in a festive period that is often termed the ‘season of goodwill’.

            I’m awfully sorry to be a nuisence, but I think you haven’t quite answered the question. You mention “IIT (India Institute of Technology)”.

            I took you to refer to a particular laboratory or institution, but according to Wikipedia “The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are autonomous public technical universities located across India.”

            I don’t know to which particular Indian university you are referring. Could you please let me know the specific University/Laboratory that is able to distinguish homeopathic water from non-homeopathic water? I feel certain that you must have this information; surely you would not make a firm claim, accusing doubters of being ‘fools or liars’ without some specific and very strong evidence in mind? I find that I’m really disliking being branded a liar or fool, and having had a decades-long interest in homeopathy, I would be most interested to follow up this claim. But you will need to tell me the particular address to write to.

            Fifteenth time of asking.

            Thank you in anticipation of your assistance.

          • Dana

            Much as I hate to pop your little bubble of delusion, there’s 23 IITs

            Which one should we be writing to?

          • I have prepared a letter to send, once I have the right address. Here is the text of it (address/department details and names of academics to be added once known).

            Dear Head of Department,

            HOMEOPATHIC WATER

            Noted American proponent of homeopathy Mr Dana Ullman has kindly given me your address with reference to the above.

            Mr. Ullman has explained that your laboratory is able to distinguish between homeopathic and non-homeopathic water. I am most interested to find out more about this. It is surely a startling feat, likely to lead to the award of a Nobel prise, or other prestigious recognition.

            May I please ask you for information on the techniques used to correctly identify the difference between, say, distilled water, and distilled water from which a serially diluted and succussed 30C potency of any homeopathic remedy has been prepared? Does your laboratory method work for non-material homeopathic remedies such as x-ray as well as for remedies of material origin?
            I look forward to learning more about your remarkable work. If you can point me to any publications about it in reputable science journals, that too would be most helpful.

            Kind regards,

          • You mean the old Chikramane joke, Dana? Do you like being laughed at?

          • I should clarify that I don’t actually need to be told the ADDRESS of the institution to write to. I am sure that once I am told the correct NAME, I will be able to find out the address for myself. Thank you.

          • You can write to IIT (India Institute of Technology). The highly prestigious scientific institution that conducted that research published in LANGMUIR.

            Ah, the good ‘ole “I can’t give you any evidence for my claims, so I’m sending you on a wild goose chase to find it yourself.”

            There, I’ve answered your friggin’ question. Now, the ball is in your court.

            Um, no, not even close. The ball is still in a completely different (read: alternative) universe.

            Anyway, no matter what those people from India claim(*), there is still not a single homeopathic ‘remedy’ with a significant, repeatable efficacy for any condition or symptom whatsoever. Not one.

            *: Any claims as to how homeopathy is supposed to work are useless without solid evidence that it works in the first place, and can therefore be dismissed as Tooth Fairy science.

          • Since this is the season of goodwill, let me give additional help to our friend Dana.

            Here’s the list of those 23 IITs along with the name and email address of their director. All you need to do, Dana, is tell us the number of the IIT so DavidB can send his email to the right person…

            IIT Names Directors’ Name Email
            1 IIT Kharagpur Prof. Virendra Kumar Tewari director@iitkgp.ac.in
            2 IIT Bombay Professor Subhasis Chaudhuri director@iitb.ac.in
            3 IIT Madras Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi director@iitm.ac.in
            4 IIT Kanpur Prof. Abhay Karandikar director@iitk.ac.in
            5 IIT Delhi Prof. V. Ramgopal Rao director@admin.iitd.ac.in
            6 IIT Guwahati Prof. Dr. T. G. Sitharam director@iitg.ac.in
            7 IIT Roorkee Prof. Ajit K. Chaturvedi director@iitr.ac.in
            8 IIT Bhubaneswar Prof. R. V. Rajakumar director@iitbbs.ac.in
            9 IIT Hyderabad Professor B S Murty director@iith.ac.in
            10 IIT Patna Prof. Pushpak Bhattacharyya director@iitp.ac.in
            11 IIT Gandhinagar Sudhir K Jain director@iitgn.ac.in
            12 IIT Jodhpur Professor Santanu Chaudhury director@iitj.ac.in
            13 IIT Ropar Prof. Rajeev Ahuja director@iitrpr.ac.in
            14 IIT Indore Prof. Neelesh Kumar Jain director@iiti.ac.in
            15 IIT Mandi Prof. Ajit Kumar Chaturvedi director@iitmandi.ac.in
            16 IIT (BHU) Varanasi Prof. Pramod Kumar Jain director@iitbhu.ac.in
            17 IIT Palakkad Prof. P.B. Sunilkumar director@iitpkd.ac.in
            18 IIT Tirupati Prof. K. N. Satyanarayana director@iittp.ac.in
            19 IIT (ISM) Dhanbad Prof. Rajiv Shekhar director@iitism.ac.in
            20 IIT Bhilai Professor Rajat Moona director@iitbhilai.ac.in
            21 IIT Goa Prof. B. K. Mishra director@iitgoa.ac.in
            22 IIT Jammu Prof. Manoj Singh Gaur director@iitjammu.ac.in
            23 IIT Dharwad Prof. P. Seshu director@iitdh.ac.in

          • Oh, thank you very much, Mr. Henness! This is most useful. I am sure that Mr. Ullman, like all of us, is a busy person, with many things to be attending to. This is a great help; now all that is required is to specify the correct number from the list! Thank you very much.

            Mr. Ullman? (Fifteenth time of asking. Or is it sixteenth? I am losing count).

          • @Björn Geir

            You mean the old Chikramane joke?

            Which one of Chikramane’s jokes? I believe he made several, e.g. this classic howler:
            https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/iit-b-team-shows-how-homeopathy-works/articleshow/7108579.cms

            “Homeopathic pills containing naturally occurring metals such as gold, copper and iron retain their potency even when diluted to a nanometre or one-billionth of a metre”

            Apparently, those Indian smart-asses managed to redefine ‘dilution’ to produce a length measure as outcome instead of a ratio. I’d say that is truly amazing! “For a delicious glass of lemonade, dilute this syrup to 5 millimetres.”

            “IIT-B’s chemical engineering department bought homeopathic pills from neighbourhood shops, prepared highly diluted solutions and checked these under powerful electron microscopes to find nanoparticles of the original metal. “

            Well, this is science at its best! Buy some pills of a completely unknown(*) composition, dissolve them in water and stick them under an electron microscope. And lo and behold! We find ‘metal nanoparticles'(**)!
            Another funny thing is that gold was explicitly mentioned as one of the metals found. Because if you use an electron microscope, you always find gold – and in (relatively) large quantities, at that. Because anything you want to examine with an electron microscope is literally covered in gold, to create a conductive surface, necessary for the microscope to actually work. So yeah, you will certainly find gold.
            Apart from this, it is almost impossible to NOT find any contaminants when using an electron microscope, exactly because it can make the finest (nano)particulates of dust, metal debris etc. visible. It requires really stringent workplace and procedural hygiene to keep out unwanted substances.

            I think that Chikramane’s work provides lots of good evidence – not so much for the viability of homeopathy, but as proof of the incompetence of Indian homeopathic ‘science’.

            For all the rest, I can refer to Harriet Hall’s review, although the original link has disappeared. And this link leads to the original article, but the actual text is behind a paywall.

            *: Perhaps not completely unknown, as Indian ‘medicines’ can often be relied upon to contain all sorts of metals in detectable (and quite often unhealthy) amounts, including lead, mercury and arsenic. I wouldn’t be surprised if Indian homeopaths would occasionally mix in a generous scoop of lead and mercury compounds for good measure.

            **: This strongly reminds me of those two clowns Gatti and Montanari who raised the alarm after finding ‘metallic nanoparticle contamination’ in vaccines using an electron microscope – only to become a laughing stock as it turned out that it was actually amazing that they found so little contamination.
            Gorski’s follow-up is also quite worth reading: https://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2017/02/08/nanoparticles-the-new-one-true-cause-of-all-disease

          • If we refer to Chikramane’s original piece bumwash much-beloved by Dana, we can see that it’s the Mumbai IIT where the “research” was carried out. So presumably that’s the laboratory to which Dana is referring. The address is:

            Professor Subhasis Chaudhuri
            Department of Chemical Engineering and Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering
            IIT Bombay
            Adi Shankaracharya Marg
            Powai
            Mumbai
            400076
            Maharashtra
            India

          • Thank you Mr. Lenny! Mr. Ullman, can you confirm – is this the laboratory you mean? Is it OK to cite you in my letter, as I have done in the draft posted here?

            I am looking forward not to be burdened any longer by the appellation “Fool or liar” after I am convinced!

          • Are you still yammering about Langmuir?

            This Langmuir?
            https://www.cs.princeton.edu/~ken/Langmuir/langmuir.htm

  • Gad…HOW do you jump into THAT conclusion? Are you next going to call me a gay communist?

    Oh…I know how you make your accusations…you do it without any evidence. You do it with ad hominem attacks. You do it with ignorance…and you do it with cult followers. You are a master of “evidence debased medicine.” (oooo…that’s a new one!).

    It must be very embarrassing to be you…my sincere sympathies.

    • Are you next going to call me a gay communist?

      WHAT IS WRONG WITH BEING A GAY COMMUNIST?!

      Besides, your profile pic shows an awfully cute smile, comrade 🙂

      • Ahhh…thanx comrade…but name-calling is still name-calling and is a gross over-simplification of a person.

        THIS doesn’t stop Ernst & certain others at this website from doing so…and it is classic evidence for having literally no good argument on their side. And so, I take this name-calling in stride…and consider my point-of-view to be worthy…and their point-of-view to be complete bullshit…maybe even worse, it may be elephant-shit…or even worse, brontosaurus-shit (there ARE further dimensions to bullshit!).

        • Mr. Ullman, I am glad to know that name-calling distresses you. It is unsavoury, isn’t it. You will readily understand how I feel, then, about your having branded me as among “fools or liars” for doubting that it is possible to accurately differentiate homeopathic from non-homeopathic water.

          I am agog to learn how it can be done, and will send off an enquiry as soon as you name the laboratory that can do it. (Sixteenth or seventeenth time of asking).

        • @Dana Ullman

          name-calling … is classic evidence for having literally no good argument on their side.

          Yes, I’ve heard this quite often. It is, however, not always true. It can also be an expression of frustration with the other side’s unwillingness to even acknowledge reasonable arguments, among other things.
          But I agree that name-calling is usually best avoided.

          their point-of-view to be complete bullshit…maybe even worse, it may be elephant-shit…or even worse, brontosaurus-shit (there ARE further dimensions to bullshit!).

          I can see you made an impressively elaborate study of the subject.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

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