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

I recently looked at the list of best-sellers in homeopathy on Amazon. To my surprise, there were several books that were specifically focused on the homeopathic treatment of children. Since we had, several years ago, published a systematic review of this subject, these books interested me. Here is what Amazon tells us about them:

No 1

Homeopathic remedies are increasingly being used to treat common childhood ailments. They are safe, have no side effects or allergic reactions, are inexpensive and, above all, effective. In this guide, Dana Ullman explains what homeopathy is, how it works and how you can use it correctly to enhance your child’s health. He recommends remedies for more than 75 physical and emotional conditions, including: allergies, grief, anxiety, headaches, asthma, measles, bedwetting, nappy rash, bites and stings, shock, burns, sunburn, colic, teething, coughs and colds and travel sickness

Without doubt, this is the most comprehensive book on homeopathic pediatrics. Included is a complete guide to the correct use of homeopathy, recommended remedies for the treatment of more than seventy-five common physical, emotional, and behavioral conditions, and valuable information on the essential medicines that all parents should have in their home medicine kits

No 2

Tricia Allen, a qualified homeopath, offers a host of practical advice on how to treat illness using natural, homeopathic remedies. Homeopathy differs from conventional medicine in that it does not only alleviate the individual symptoms of an illness, but treats the underlying state to ensure that the disease does not return, something which rarely occurs when using traditional remedies. This guide gives you advice on; what homeopathy is and how to use it; each stage of childhood and how to deal with the complaints that occur at that time of a child’s development; the most common childhood illnesses, how to take your own steps to treating them, which homeopathic remedies to use and when to seek medical help and first aid.

No 3

The Homeopathic Treatment of Children is indispensible at giving both a clear overall impression of the various major constitutional types, and also a detailed outline for reference at the end of each chapter. Not only does Paul Herscu draw from various sources (repertories and materia medica), he also adds indispensable original information from his successful practice.

______________________________

The fact that such books exist is perhaps not all that surprising. Yet, I do find the fact that they are among the best-selling books on homeopathy surprising – or to be more precise, I find it concerning.

Why?

Simple: children cannot give informed consent to the treatments they receive. Thus, consent is given for them by their parents or (I suspect often) not at all. This renders homeopathic treatment of children more problematic than that of fully competent adults.

Homeopathy has not been shown to be effective for any pediatric condition. I know Dana Ullman disagrees and claims it works for children’s allergies, grief, anxiety, headaches, asthma, measles, bedwetting, nappy rash, bites and stings, shock, burns, sunburn, colic, teething, coughs and colds, and travel sickness. Yet, these claims are not based on anything faintly resembling sound evidence! Our above-mentioned systematic review reached the following conclusion: “The evidence from rigorous clinical trials of any type of therapeutic or preventive intervention testing homeopathy for childhood and adolescence ailments is not convincing enough for recommendations in any condition.”

And what follows from this state of affairs?

I am afraid it is this:

Treating sick children with homeopathy amounts to child abuse.

19 Responses to INSTRUCTIONS FOR CHILD ABUSE: Three best-selling books on homeopathy for kids

  • Actually, the overuse of conventional drugs, especially antibiotics, is in pandemic proportions, and it constitutes a type of “medical child abuse.” Such over-prescribing can and often does create long-term complications, and it is typical for Edzard to ignore this much greater and more common problem. However, such misdirection is purposeful and is evidence of a magician’s sleight of hand…and is seriously problematic and unethical.

    Hopefully, people here will remember to honor the Hippocratic dictum of “First, do no harm,” but I don’t live in Pollyanna-ville…and I know that modern-day physicians too often do more harm than good…and skeptics of homeopathy prefer to fiddle (and blame homeopathy for today’s woes)…while Rome BURNS!

    No irony here…move along…

    • And up goes the predictable Straw Man and out comes the Whataboutery because Captain Uncredible has no other arguments which can support his untenable position.

    • @Dana
      Administering sugar to children throughout the day(*) can absolutely do harm.

      But this ‘no harm’ drivel is of course only part of what you claim. Your full claim is that homeopathy is both 100% harmless (wrong) AND quite effective (wrong), and that real medicine is often a worse choice (wrong) because it is NOT 100% harmless (true).

      You also suggest that real doctors do a lot of things wrong (e.g. prescribing unnecessary medication – true to some extent), again with the unspoken premise that homeopaths are superior beings who don’t (can’t?) do anything wrong (which, again, is wrong). Like real doctors, homeopaths regularly kill people – not because of honest mistakes or even carelessness, but because most homeopaths are medically incompetent, and could not distinguish an innocent upset stomach from e.g. a case of leukaemia. Homeopaths can’t deal with real medical problems at all.

      Or to trot out the old adage once more: The fact that real medicine has its flaws, shortcomings and errors does NOT imply that homeopathy is good for anything.

      *: Looking up the label of e.g. Pulsatilla Pratensis D6 (Dutch), I find the following:
      – Ingredients: 99.9999% beet sugar (sucrose) + 0.0001% plant extract
      – Dosage: three times a day between 1 and 15 crumbs.

      • Rich Richard…your posts are indeed “rich.” I really LOVE how you actually seem to think that homeopaths and parents pour sugar into the mouths of babes “throughout the day”! Even your silly * proves you don’t mean what you say.

        You have no qualms about giving them round after round after round of antibiotics…or Ritalin…or vax after vax after vax (60 in all), despite the absence of randomized placebo controlled trials of infants or children.

        Thanx for the laugh…

        • @Dana
          Most homeopathic products ARE sugar crumbs, right? And generally, they ARE administered three times a day (and between meals, I believe), aren’t they? Admittedly, these minute candy treats will usually not be the main cause of tooth decay, but still they are candy treats and as such may contribute to caries.

          You have no qualms about giving them round after round after round of antibiotics

          Actually, I do have qualms about giving people in general and children in particular treatments and medicines that are unnecessary or even plain useless. Why else do you think I criticise homeopathy? And if your comprehensive reading skills would extend just a bit beyond the first couple of words, you would have noticed that I also admit that real doctors could cut down on their prescriptions.
          This is apart from the fact that I very rarely hear about children being prescribed medicines/antibiotics willy-nilly, at least here in the Netherlands. Then again, our pharmaceutical prescription rate appears to be among the most conservative in the world. But I know that in e.g. Mediterranean countries, over 95% of GP consultations result in a prescription of sorts – so there is absolutely a huge room for improvement, generally speaking.

          … or vax after vax after vax (60 in all) …

          Are you seriously comparing childhood vaccinations to antibiotics and other medications? And are you seriously suggesting here that these vaccinations are somehow undesirable, and even harmful?

          Then you just confirmed the notion that homeopaths are very stupid, medically incompetent quacks, who should be kept as far away as possible from patients in general and children in particular.

        • Hey Dana

          “ or vax after vax after vax (60 in all), despite the absence of randomized placebo controlled trials of infants or children.”

          You do know there’s a thing called Google, don’t you? There you can find links to the myriad large-scale randomised placebo controlled trials of vaccines on children demonstrating their safety and effectiveness. But you don’t want to know about that. You don’t want truth to impinge on your masturbatory fantasies of significance.

          Incidentally, seeing that you’re so keen on RCTs suddenly, you’ll also find lots of large-scale randomised placebo-controlled trials of homeopathy. Which show that homeopathy does f**k all. To the great surprise of nobody but you and your fellow idiots. But you don’t want to know about them either.

          Yammer, yammer, stamp, stamp, shout, shout. You’re a petulant child, Dana.

    • I understand your concerns about the potential overuse of antibiotics and other drugs that have undesirable side effects. That’s certainly something we should care about when it happens. However, the overuse of drugs doesn’t have any impact on whether homeopathy is effective.

      If homeopathy is not effective, it harms patients when used unsuccessfully to treat medical conditions that need to be treated. If it’s not effective, people lose money on false hope.

      Drugs could be overused until the cows come home, and it still wouldn’t make homeopathy effective if it isn’t. Those two claims—1) drugs are overused, and 2) homeopathy is effective—are not related.

  • “First, do no harm,”

    Here is the mis-direction. This should be caveated with after doing a risk:benefit analysis. Surgery is harmful / causes damage but following a risk:benefit analysis may be the best treatment despite any potential damage (apply to specific medical treatment as you wish including prescribing medications). This is a common trope pushed by the woo crowd.

    There are overprescribing problems antibiotics / pain meds but this is not a problem to be filled with woo but should be a call to address the problem which is the case.

  • Dear Dana, Whilst I would agree that prescribing unnecessary drugs (aka ‘poisons’) inappropriately is also wrong, two wrongs dont make a right. Whats wrong with using “Mr Bump” (a cold poltice) for the grazes, sores, bites, bruises and bumps, or a ‘lovely glass of water/juices’ whatever? These have explicable mechanisms, cost nothing and dont encourage a belief in the impossible or the industry of people who can’t show benefit beyond placebo. ‘Kissing it better”, kindness, compassion, explanations and teaching (age appropriately) must be the right method whilst trying to sift out which child has a sickness that does require intervention. Best for parents and carers not to routinely give children ‘a pill’ (homeopathic or not), and especially one which does not have any scientific rationale behind it.

    • You seem to be a newbie here…welcome. However, your definition of impossible is your misunderstanding of nanodoses…and represents a deep disrespect for the human body, especially its hormones and cell signaling system which operate at a nanodose level. Do your homework before you fall into the same rat hole as so many people here do due to their thin understandings of the subtlies of physiology.

      And who knows, you might even choose to be a scientists and try going to a homeopath yourself. Homeopathy doesn’t require a scintilla of belief. YOUR statement on THIS subject is sadly hard evidence of your woo-woo mind which fabricates strawmen arguments. Get better at understanding a subject before claiming some bit of knowledge of it. It is better to ask questions first…

      • “Homeopathy doesn’t require a scintilla of belief” or credibility.
        https://edzardernst.com/2015/11/dana-ullman-the-spokesperson-for-homeopathy/

      • @Dana

        … your misunderstanding of nanodoses

        OK, so homeopathic products in effect contain ‘nanodoses’ of an active substance. Interesting, I did not know this – although this raises more questions that it answers:
        – What is a ‘nanodose’? Are we talking about nanograms?
        – And if so, how can you reconcile this with homeopathic dilutions? If you buy an arbitrary homeopathic product in a 30C potency, then a dose of 1 nanogram in one homeopathic sugar crumb (~100 mg) is not 30C at all, but rather 4C.
        – So homeopaths have been getting their dilutions completely wrong for over two hundred years?
        – Why aren’t these nanodoses clearly indicated on the label of the product? Obviously, and by your own admission, the traditional homeopathic ‘potency’ scales (X, D, C, M) are completely useless, so they should be abandoned as soon as possible.
        – How do you explain that scientific analysis of homeopathic products usually fail to detect those nanodoses or their effects(*)? Please note that modern scientific techniques can detect amounts less than picograms, or concentrations below parts per billion of many substances.
        – And if homeopathic production techniques are so erratic and sloppy that products may contain 50 orders of magnitude more active substance than the label says, then how can consistent quality be guaranteed? Doesn’t this mean that the actual dosage can vary wildly between nothing at all and an almost pure base substance?

        hormones and cell signaling system which operate at a nanodose level

        OK, so not only do homeopathic products contain measurable amounts of active substances, these substances exert their effects through mechanisms comparable to the way that hormones work. This is hugely interesting, although this too raises more questions than it answers:
        – Hormones and other bodily signalling chemicals are indeed present at ‘nano’-levels (nanograms per millilitre of blood). However, in order to attain these nanolevels by means of ingestion (as e.g. in oral contraception), the dose required is something in the order of dozens of micrograms up to even milligrams. Do you still consider this ‘nanodoses’?
        – Hormones and other chemical signalling systems have evolved as combinations of highly specific proteins with matching receptors. However, the overwhelming majority of chemical substances does not have signalling functions – including most of the substances that homeopaths use in their preparations. Can you explain this discrepancy?
        – For most known hormones, matching receptors have been identified. Where are the receptors for homeopathic substances?
        – Many homeopathic preparations are based on rather simple molecules such as inorganic salts (e.g. Natrium Muriaticum = sodium chloride = table salt) – salts that are present in the body in large quantities already. We all have e.g. 200 grams of sodium chloride in our body. How can an additional nanodose of such a ubiquitous molecule have any hormone-like effect whatsoever? Shouldn’t homeopaths discard large parts of their Materia Medica to weed out these ‘remedies’ that cannot possibly work?
        – And when looking at more complex substances, how can homeopaths be certain that their highly specific hormone-like ingredient remains present during dilution? For instance the base substance of oscillococcinum is putrid duck liver and heart – which is a badly defined mess of microbes, cells, proteins, enzymes, salts and lots of other chemicals that can’t even be diluted a few steps onward without completely altering the composition. The same goes for most other homeopathic products such as plant extracts. How can homeopaths be even remotely sure that they end up with the desired substance in the desired dose? And what actually is this desired substance?
        – How do you reconcile hormone-like behaviour of homeopathic substances with the homeopathic ‘law’ that these substances will have opposite effects depending on the state of health of a person (cf. ‘proving’)? Hormones don’t do this at all; e.g. administering growth hormone will stimulate growth, regardless whether the person has stunted growth or not.
        – How do you reconcile hormone-like behaviour of homeopathic substances with the homeopathic ‘law’ that these substances will have more effect in smaller doses? Hormones do not work like this at all: decreasing the dose will have less of an effect.

        you might even choose to be a scientists and try going to a homeopath yourself.

        This is very interesting! I was always under the impression that becoming a scientist involved studying the work of other scientists, and of course learning about natural laws of physics, chemistry, biology etc., and verifying that knowledge for oneself as much as possible. I never thought that paying a self-deluded medically incompetent quack for a fake ‘diagnosis’ and ditto ‘remedies’ could achieve the same goal.

        Anyway, thank you for your comment. It was a real education!

        *: See e.g.
        https://easac.eu/fileadmin/PDF_s/reports_statements/EASAC_Homepathy_statement_web_final.pdf (p.6)

        • Oh, please, Richard, tell us why the EASAC report avoided quoting Mathie’s homeopathy meta-analysis published in 2014. Tell us why they only mention Anick’s experiment that is with ultrapure water samples that are not used in homeopathy. Tell us why the ESAC does not mention the studies published by Demangeat at all. Another example of bias:

          “An explanation of a mechanism of action should be both scientifically plausible and demonstrable but the justifications of homeopathy have not fulfilled these criteria (House of Commons, 2010; Grimes, 2012).”

          What a surprise, Grimes is a small essay and not a scientific article. The British report, apart from suffering from the scientific peer review process, also does not give evidence or arguments to talk about the alleged “implausibility” of the memory of water.

          More BS by EASAC report:

          “In general, the claims for homeopathy run counter to a very large body of evidence on the dose–response
          relationship in medicine and its long-established explanation in terms of drug–receptor interaction
          (see, for example, Tallarida and Jacob, 1979), a central principle in pharmacology that continues to
          be substantiated in more recent research (see, for example, Aronson, 2007).”

          Interesting, so the EASAC people think that hormesis is magic and vitalism because it contradicts the classical linear dose response model. The EASAC report has very weak arguments and cherry picking. It is very interesting that you discard methodologically sound studies just because they favor homeopathy, but you do not hesitate at any time to use “studies” such as the EASAC with more flaws than an article written by a religious fanatic.

          • @ Liquid,

            Richard Rasker asked several pertinent questions, including this one:

            “Many homeopathic preparations are based on rather simple molecules such as inorganic salts (e.g. Natrium Muriaticum = sodium chloride = table salt) – salts that are present in the body in large quantities already. We all have e.g. 200 grams of sodium chloride in our body. How can an additional nanodose of such a ubiquitous molecule have any hormone-like effect whatsoever? Shouldn’t homeopaths discard large parts of their Materia Medica to weed out these ‘remedies’ that cannot possibly work?”

          • @Liquid

            tell us why the EASAC report avoided quoting Mathie’s homeopathy meta-analysis published in 2014

            Um, because this meta-analysis failed to find credible, robust effects of individualized homeopathic treatment? IIRC, he identified just a handful of positive studies, and even those were too weak to base any firm conclusions on. And in a later review, he found no effect at all for non-individualized homeopathic treatments (e.g. OTC stuff such as oscillococcinum).

            For all the rest, and as Pete Attkins also noticed, you do not address any of my questions at all, but instead keep ranting about how representatives of several of the most respected European academies of science presumably don’t know how to do science. I think that ‘arrogant’ is the operative word here, and that it is instead far more plausible that you don’t know how science works – which is supported by the notion that you apparently think that Mathie’s review provides good evidence for the efficacy of homeopathy. Which it doesn’t.

            It really is very simple:
            – There is no good scientific evidence that homeopathy has effects beyond placebo.
            – There is no scientific evidence that water has any sort of memory.
            – Nobody has so far succeeded in distinguishing arbitrary homeopathic dilutions from plain water.
            – There is no scientific evidence for the general applicability of the principle of ‘like cures like’.
            – There is no scientific evidence for the general applicability of the principle of ‘higher dilution = more potent medicine’
            – As for the idea of identifying ‘remedies’ by administering substances to healthy people (a.k.a. proving’): even a child can see that this is not how it works.

            Sure, for each of these negatives one or more exceptions can be found. E.g. hormesis is a real effect – but it is quite rare, and does not work as claimed by homeopaths at all. And yes, some researchers claim to have observed a mechanism by which water can retain patterns – but these results are almost never replicated, so are probably fictitious. And even if they were real, these effects do not automatically mean that homeopathy works – because for that, you also need lots of completely unrelated and as of yet completely hypothetical mechanisms how those patterns survive being ingested and digested, and how they interact with the body. In comparison, the hormonal protein-receptor concept is a simple walk in the park, and even that is not how homeopathy works.

            And there are even lots more reasons why homeopathy does not and cannot work. It is a system of belief, not a system of medicine. This is also why it is fruitless to debate a homeopath: contrary to a real scientist, a homeopath will never accept evidence for the fact that they are wrong. So I’ll keep it at this.

  • Dana, of course, immediately felt triggered by the article. A different reaction would have surprised me.

    Unfortunately (for him), I have to correct two errors.
    1) The phrase “Primum non nocere/First do no harrm” dates back to the 17th century and is not part of the original Hippocratic oath.
    2) The Hippocratic oath was revised by the Declaration of Geneva.

    Is it not strange that an MPH does not seem to remember these simple facts?

    By the way, the introductory sentence “the overuse of conventional drugs etc.” is a whataboutism. Plain and simple.

    • Gad…you don’t even know how to rebut someone or something.

      First, I never said that “First, do no harm” was a part of the Hippocratic Oath! These words are a well-known part of the Hippocratic writings…but only Big Pharma shills (and others who are such shills but don’t even know it) seem to forget this fact.

      Whataboutism has a place in logic and in debate when the medical science is lacking its own high standards of science and whenever the accusers against alternative system pretend some type of superiority.

  • If Mr Ullman was on trial for murder, his defense would be the number of people who die in RTAs every year.

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