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

homeopathy

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Ovariohysterectomy (OH) is one of the most frequent elective surgical procedures in routine veterinary practice. The aim of this study was to evaluate analgesia with Arnica montana 30cH during the postoperative period after elective OH.

Thirty healthy female dogs, aged 1 to 3 years, weighing 7 to 14 kg, were selected at the Veterinary Hospital in Campo Mourão, Paraná, Brazil. The dogs underwent the surgical procedure with an anaesthetic protocol and analgesia that had the aim of maintaining the patient’s wellbeing. After the procedure, they were randomly divided into three groups of 10. One group received Arnica montana 30cH; another received 5% hydroalcoholic solution; and the third group, 0.9% NaCl saline solution. All animals received four drops of the respective solution sublingually and under blinded conditions, every 10 minutes for 1 hour, after the inhalational anaesthetic had been withdrawn. The Glasgow Composite Measure Pain Scale was used to analyse the effect of therapy. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) followed by the Tukey test was used to evaluate the test data. Statistical differences were deemed significant when p ≤0.05.

The results show that the Arnica montana 30cH group maintained analgesia on average for 17.8 ± 3.6 hours, whilst the hydroalcoholic solution group did so for 5.1 ± 1.2 hours and the saline solution group for 4.1 ± 0.9 hours (p ≤0.05).

The authors concluded that these data demonstrate that Arnica montana 30cH presented a more significant analgesic effect than the control groups, thus indicating its potential for postoperative analgesia in dogs undergoing OH.

I do not have access to the full article (I was fired by the late Peter Fisher from the editorial board of the journal ‘HOMEOPATHY’) which puts me in a somewhat difficult position:

  • not reporting this study could be construed as an anti-homeopathy bias,
  • and reporting it handicaps me as I cannot assess essential details.

So, if anyone has access, please send the full paper to me and I will then study it and revise this post accordingly.

Judging from the abstract, I have to say that the results seem far too good to be true. I doubt that any oral remedy can have the effect that is being described here – let alone one that has been diluted (sorry, potentised) at a rate of 1: 1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000. That fact alone reduces the plausibility of the finding to zero.

At this stage, I do wonder who peer-reviewed the study and ask myself whether the rough data have been checked for reliability.

The following press release was published by the AMA on 16/11/2021. I consider it sufficiently relevant to re-publish it here in full and, as it is entirely self-explanatory, without further comment:

At its Special Meeting today, the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates approved a resolution stating that only licensed physicians should determine whether a person should receive a medical exemption from vaccines.

The policy comes in the wake of tens of thousands of people seeking exemptions to state and municipal COVID mandates, contending they have medical reasons for remaining unvaccinated. The new policy states that only licensed physicians should have the medical authority and the power to grant these exemptions.

“Vaccine hesitancy has played an unfortunate role in extending the COVID-19 public emergency. Failing to get vaccinated has resulted in tragic and unnecessary deaths. To protect everyone, we must be sure that a trained, licensed physician is making the judgment on whether a person actually warrants an exemption,” said Willie Underwood III, M.D., M.Sc., M.P.H., a member of the AMA Board of Trustees.

The definition of “medical authority” varies from state to state, with some states allowing alternative practitioners, such as naturopathic providers, to approve vaccine exemptions. Surveys have shown that naturopathic providers and other alternative medicine providers (such as homeopaths and chiropractors) are less likely to recommend vaccines—or even recommend against vaccines—despite scientific evidence of safety and efficacy.

“State policymakers need to limit the definition to physicians who have the training necessary to recognize a medical condition that prevents a patient from receiving a vaccine,” Dr. Underwood said. “We shouldn’t jeopardize public health by listening to unlicensed and untrained providers.”

The AMA already has policy opposing nonmedical (religious, philosophic, or personal belief) exemptions from immunizations, since such exemptions endanger the health of the unvaccinated individual and the health of the community at large. The AMA supports the immunization recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for all individuals without medical contraindications. It also supports legislation eliminating nonmedical immunization exemptions and encourages state medical associations to seek removal of nonmedical exemptions in states requiring mandatory immunizations.

“One of the unfortunate side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and misinformation around it is the questioning of vaccine efficacy even though vaccines have nearly wiped out diseases that once plagued us. Physicians must make the argument clearly and loudly based on the science: Vaccines save lives,” Underwood said.

Long-COVID syndrome is a condition that will affect a large proportion of those who survived a COVID-19 infection. According to a recent meta-analysis, it is associated predominantly with poor quality of life, persistent symptoms including fatigue, dyspnea, anosmia, sleep disturbances, and mental health problems.

At present, we are still struggling to understand the exact causes and mechanisms of this condition. Therefore, its optimal treatment is as yet uncertain. Governments around the world have therefore made sizable research funds available to make progress in this area, and research in this area is frantically active.

Regardless of the evidence, practitioners and entrepreneurs of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) are gearing up to jump on this bandwagon by declaring that their offerings are a solution to this growing problem. Indeed, many of them have already done so. Here are just three sites that I found today which are promoting homeopathy for long COVID:

One hardly needs to mention that homeopathy is not supported by sound evidence in the management of long-Covid (or any other condition for that matter). Neither does one need to stress that homeopaths are just one example, and virtually all other SCAM providers are promoting their services in the absence of evidence.

A recent review of the literature stated this:

Patients with long COVID commonly refer to taking ‘the stack’ or ‘the supplement stack’, which includes high-dose vitamin C and D, niacin (nicotinic acid), quercetin, zinc, selenium, and sometimes also magnesium. Further research is needed to confirm or refute the impact of supplements in long COVID. Examples of noteworthy interactions with supplements include: niacin causing an increased risk of bleeding events when combined with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, increased risk of rhabdomyolysis together with statins, and quercetin causing inhibition and induction of various human cytochrome P450 enzymes.

Why then are SCAM providers promoting SCAM for long-COVID?

This is a daft question if there ever was one.

It seems obvious they do it because:

  • they are believers who don’t care about evidence,
  • they are in it for the money,
  • or both.

Some time ago, this homeopath already indicated, that SCAM providers should see COVID as an opportunity: For homeopathy, shunned during its 200 years of existence by conventional medicine, this outbreak is a key opportunity to show potentially the contribution it can make in treating COVID-19 patients. We should perhaps not hold our breath to see the emergence of convincing evidence, but we should be prepared to warn the public of getting exploited by charlatans who disregard both ethics and evidence.

Guest post by Richard Rasker

Last summer, I strolled through my garden, enjoying the abundance of flowers and insects. At the far end, the garden gave way to shrubs and reedy grass and a tiny pond that, contrary to past years, hadn’t dried out completely yet.

And right there, at the water’s edge, is where I stumbled upon IT.

At first I thought the small white object was a twig or something similar, but upon closer inspection it turned out to be a small bone – looking remarkably like a human femur, albeit a bit eroded. So I looked around in the vicinity, to see if I could find any more bones. This was not the case, but what I DID find was even more breathtaking: a slender, 2-inch long gauze-like wing.

Immediately a mind-blowing realization dawned: there are fairies in the back of my garden!

Of course I had to be careful not to get carried away based on this single observation, so I spent the following months painstakingly searching for more corroborating evidence. And what I found was astounding: at least a dozen similar bones and wings, and even a very small tuft of brownish hair. And the bogs and marshes a few miles from my home proved an even richer treasure trove. Of course I also identified remains of numerous dead animals, mostly mice and other small rodents, but the femur-like bones I found were definitely too long for mice.

So I can now safely reveal my findings: fairies do exist after all! This is truly world-shattering!

Now what does this have to do with homeopathy, one may ask? The answer is simple: the gathering of evidence for the viability of homeopathy (and many other alternative modalities) is fully analogous to the way that I found scientific evidence for the existence of fairies:

  • People (scientists or homeopaths) believe that they stumbled upon something special.
  • They almost immediately consider their finding as either a type of revelation, or as something that lends strong support to their prior belief.
  • They then set out to gather more evidence in support of the phenomenon they found, thus affirming their belief.
  • And after a lot of painstaking work, the conclusion is reached that the observed phenomenon indeed exists!

Recently, a commenter on this blog tried to bolster the validity of homeopathy by naming a couple of scientists who did exactly this: they started believing in homeopathy, not because of proper clinical trials with homeopathic medicines, but because of revelation-type experiences, or because of hypotheses and/or observations that appeared to explain and support one important prerequisite of homeopathy, the so-called ‘water memory’.

These scientists come up with all sorts of hypothetical mechanisms how this water memory is supposed to work. Usually, quantum physics is invoked – even though real quantum physicists are unanimous in condemning this as nonsense, because quantum physics doesn’t work the way that homeopaths say it does. Nevertheless, these believers in homeopathy come up with ‘explanations’ that involve entanglement, or ‘coherence domains’, or stable nanostructures in water. And there are still lots of other mechanisms dreamed up by believers in homeopathy that aim to explain the all-important water memory.

First of all, most of these hypotheses are completely bonkers, without any real-world evidence to back up the suggestions and claims made – and none of these scientists have so far succeeded in distinguishing an arbitrary homeopathic dilution from plain water, even though some claim that they can find minute differences for a few very specific substances. Just too bad that these results have not been replicated by other scientists, and that they have not been published in any peer-reviewed scientific journal. And even if these results are legitimate, the effect found is absolutely tiny – just like all other homeopathic research with positive results.

But for the sake of the argument, let’s assume that these findings with regard to water memory are real (although no two researchers agree on even the basics of the purported mechanisms). Does this provide enough evidence to make us accept that homeopathy is a viable system of medicine?

No, of course it doesn’t!

Even if water would retain certain ‘nanostructures’ or ‘coherence domains’ or ‘quantum-entangled particles’, this means just that: that an almost undetectable ‘something’ apparently persists in water. It says NOTHING about how this tiny something can have a huge range of highly specific therapeutic effects, necessitating a hugely intricate structure (of which not a trace has ever been found). It says nothing about how this something finds its way from the water to the specific parts of the body to exert those beneficial effects, or about the way that this something interacts with the organism. It does not tell us why this something only ends up in water if it is shaken, or why this something becomes more potent with higher dilutions, or how this something can pass from homeopathic water to sugar pellets while retaining its very special water-based(!) structure – or why, in spite of this all, literally nobody can distinguish a homeopathic dilution from plain water.

Saying that the existence of water memory proves that homeopathy is real is like saying that the existence of those bones and wings I found proves that fairies exist. It is a totally unwarranted inference, and an excellent example of, in the words of Dr. Harriet Hall, Tooth Fairy science: these people spend lots of time, effort and money doing very serious research into all sorts of mechanisms and effects to explain how homeopathy works, but totally neglect to answer the primary question first: does homeopathy work at all? And even worse: these people think that the tiniest glimmer of an effect supporting their hypothesis immediately proves all of homeopathy right. Which is not so much jumping to conclusions, but making leaps of astronomical proportions that would have made even Neil Armstrong jealous. This is not how science works.

For homeopathy, I think that the primary question is answered pretty definitively: even after 227 years, homeopaths have not succeeded in coming up with even ONE ‘remedy’ that is efficacious beyond a shadow of a doubt. NOT ONE.

And to add insult to injury, nothing in science even remotely supports the very core tenets of homeopathy, the similia principle and the law of infinitesimals. ‘Like’ does NOT ‘cure like’, and higher dilutions most certainly were never found to become more potent medicines – quite the contrary, as is observed on a daily basis literally everywhere.

Most other ancient and traditional forms of medicine have come up with at least some treatments or herbs that turned out to have scientifically proven efficacy and have become part of modern medicine – but not homeopathy. Homeopathy DOES NOT WORK, PERIOD.

(Although, to be fair, homeopathy has given us one important insight with regard to medicine: that for many ailments, simply doing nothing is often the best choice. Because most conditions resolve naturally, without medical intervention.)

On a friendlier note: I do not think that those people who study water memory mechanisms and other similarly elusive effects are useless as scientists. Their painstaking research into things like nanostructures in water may one day produce interesting and useful new scientific insights. But it would benefit them greatly if they would distance themselves from homeopathy and its associated pseudoscience, because that is truly a dead-end street, bringing them nothing but scorn and derision.

And oh, about those bones and wings that I said I found? Those were of course likely from frogs and dragonflies, respectively. Or maybe I was the victim of a prank, or maybe I simply made up the whole story. Believe what you will, but you probably agree with me that almost any explanation one can think of is more likely than the fairy scenario. And this again is analogous to homeopathy: almost any explanation one can think of is more plausible than the explanation that mere shaking and diluting magically transforms water into a highly specific medicine.

In a recently published study, the willingness to be vaccinated of parents of underage children and persons without underage children was examined. The study was based on a random sample (telephone survey, n = 2014, survey between 12.11.2020 and 10.12.2020).
The results revealed that parents consistently show a lower propensity to vaccinate with a COVID-19 vaccine than respondents without minor children (54.1% vs. 71.1%). Fathers showed a more pronounced own willingness to vaccinate than mothers. Furthermore, men were more willing than women to have their own child vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine.
The overall sample also showed that a rejection of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) was associated with a significantly higher willingness to be vaccinated. There was also a significant correlation between the attitude towards homeopathy and one’s own willingness to be vaccinated. If homeopathy was supported, the willingness to vaccinate was lower. This correlation between the attitude towards homeopathy and willingness to vaccinate was also evident in the sub-sample of parents. Among the parents, it was again the women who significantly more often had a positive attitude towards homeopathy than men, who more often do not think anything of it.

This new evidence ties in neatly with many of my previous posts on the subject of SCAM and vaccination, for instance:

Collectively, this evidence tells us that:

  • the effect has been shown in many different ways,
  • it can therefore be assumed to be real,
  • it is not confined to COVID vaccinations,
  • it is not confined to one particular branch of SCAM,
  • it even affects MDs (who surely should know better) dabbling in SCAM,
  • it has a long history,
  • it is prevalent in many, if not most countries,
  • it does real harm.

So, the next time someone tells you that SCAM and SCAM practitioners have a positive influence on public health, tell them to think again.

 

I have said it often before, and I will say it again:

Homeopathy and other ineffective so-called alternative medicines (SCAMs) are dangerous mostly because they might replace effective treatments.

The tragic death of an Austrian boy is a stark reminder of this fact. Even though this happened a decade ago, I only just came across this case. It was, to the best of my knowledge, never published in English. Allow me, therefore, to summarize it here:

In 2011, a judge sentenced a couple from East Tyrol to a one-year suspended sentence. Their son, who suffered from a rare congenital immune system disorder (SCID*), had been treated only with homeopathy until he died. The doctor who treated the boy in this way received the same sentence.** The verdicts took into account that the parents and the family doctor did not act out of sheer ignorance, but had been informed about the nature of the disease and its consequences.

The parents told the court that they had previously had extremely negative experiences with conventional medicine when their first two children, who suffered from the same condition, had died. When their third child fell ill, the parents took him to a clinic where a bone marrow transplant was to be carried out, which, according to an expert witness, would have had a 95 % chance of curing the boy. Because the parents were put off by the sight of other children in the hospital, they took their son home again and withheld all further conventional treatments or appropriate examinations. Instead, they instructed their family doctor to cure the boy with homeopathy. The doctor refrained from administering antibiotics when the illness worsened due to an infection and failed to admit the boy to a hospital when he became severely ill.

The child then died of sepsis. The autopsy revealed that he was malnourished and one of his ear canals as well as his lungs were necrotic with inflammation.

______________________

It is hard not to be repulsed and nauseated by such stories. They show how dangerously unreasonable some homeopaths and their followers are. And they remind us that even a seemingly harmless SCAM will cost lives in the hands of such fanatics.

 

* Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) is a group of rare disorders caused by mutations in different genes involved in the development and function of infection-fighting immune cells. Infants with SCID appear healthy at birth but are highly susceptible to severe infections. The condition is fatal, usually within the first year or two of life, unless infants receive immune-restoring treatments, such as transplants of blood-forming stem cells, gene therapy, or enzyme therapy.

**Personally, I find the sentence for the doctor far too lenient. One could argue that the parents had been punished by the loss of their child and thus deserve merci, but the doctor?

Remember the 10:23 Campaign? It was an awareness and protest campaign against homoeopathy organised by the Merseyside Skeptics Society, a non-profit organisation, to oppose the sale of homoeopathic products in the UK. It consisted of volunteers publicly taking overdoses of homeopathic remedies. With their actions, they wanted to demonstrate that homeopathic remedies are devoid of active ingredients and physiological effects. Suicide by homeopathy, they showed us, was impossible.

But they were mistaken – it is possible after all!

A few days ago, it was reported that an Italian doctor has died of a COVID-19 infection. This is tragic, no doubt, but in itself, it is not all that newsworthy in the context of this blog. What makes it remarkable is the fact that the doctor was a convinced homeopath who had refused to get vaccinated and was adamant that homeopathy would protect him.

Domenico Giannola, a doctor homeopath from Cinisi, died of complications due to Covid-19 at Palermo’s Cervello hospital. Dr. Giannola had not been vaccinated and after he got infected with COVID-19, he had tried to treat himself with homeopathic remedies.

Domenico Giannola was a well-known advocate of anthroposophical and homeopathic medicine. In a Youtube video from last year, he described his ‘methods of treatment. As he had a preexisting heart condition, he was a high-risk patient.

After he fell ill, he had been in home isolation for several days and was followed by the special continuity care unit (Usca) of the Palermo hospital. He had always insisted that he had no intention of becoming infected and would treat himself at home with lactoferrin and homeopathic remedies. Lactoferrin is one of the components of the immune system of the body; it has antimicrobial activity against bacteria and fungi.

As his condition worsened, Domenico Giannola was eventually transported to the emergency room of the Cervello hospital in Palermo by a 118 ambulance. He died an hour after his arrival at the hospital.

_________________________

I find such reports tragic beyond words. At the same time, they are deeply worrying. A question that one needs to ask is this: if some homeopaths do this to themselves, what are they capable of inflicting on their patients?

 

If you are not American, you will ask: Who the Dickens is Aaron Rodgers? I too had to look it up. He is an American football star. And it seems that US football fans are worried about him and his rather brainless idea of homeopathic vaccination.

Yesterday it was confirmed that the ‘Green Bay Packers’ quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, had tested positive for Covid and will thus have to miss at least 10 days of crucial games. Only the unvaccinated players are forced to miss a mandatory 10 games following a positive test — while vaccinated players can return at any point, as long as they provide two negative tests 24 hours apart and are not experiencing symptoms.

Everyone had assumed that Rodgers was vaccinated – after all, he had confirmed it when asked about his vaccination status by a reporter prior to the start of the season. Presumably, he thought so himself when he affirmed, with a straight face, that he was immunized.

But now it has been revealed that Aaron Rodgers was given a homeopathic vaccination for COVID from his personal doctor. When the NFL reviewed his treatment, they did not deem it suitable to appropriately label him as “vaccinated.”

Per NFL.com:

Rodgers received homeopathic treatment from his personal doctor to raise his antibody levels and asked the NFL to review his status. The league pointed Rodgers to the NFL-NFLPA protocols, which do not account for such an exemption for players. So, Rodgers remained subject to a variety of restrictions, including daily testing, mask-wearing and high-risk close contact protocol that would force him to isolate for five days based on interaction with a positive individual, even if he tested negative.

Now, as an unvaccinated player, Aaron Rodgers will have to sit out the next 10 days, at least. That means he won’t play for the Packers this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. The soonest he can return to the team is Saturday, November 13, one day before the Packers’ week 10 matchup with the Seattle Seahawks.

I don’t suppose that Aaron Rodgers is an avid reader of my blog. Pity! Because, if he had followed our discussions, he would have known what to think of homeopathy in general and of homeopathic vaccination in particular:

Some people seem to insist on finding out the hard way about homeopathy. Personally, I hope Aaron Rodgers recovers fully from both his COVID infection and his homeopathic fantasies. Oh, I almost forgot: I also want to thank him for his sacrifice; it hopefully leads to a better understanding in the US of the fact that homeopathy is a placebo treatment.

PS

This is what the man himself had to say:

Image

The British Royal Family have been proponents of homeopathy for generations. Homeopathy was originally introduced into the UK by Frederic Hervey Foster Quin who, as a young physician, had visited Hahnemann in Koethen, Germany. Quin was soon fully converted to homeopathy and returned to England. Being well-connected to the European aristocracy, he managed to attract many influential personalities to homeopathy. In 1844, he founded the British Homeopathic Society and, in 1850, he opened the predecessor of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital which is today called the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine.

Our Queen has many times been reported to swear by her homeopathic remedies. Some went as far as claiming her good health in old age must be due to her using homeopathy to keep well. Here is just one example from ‘THE OFFICIAL HOMEOPATHY RESOURCE’ of 2016:

On her 90th birthday, the London Weekly News reports that in spite of criticism the Queen has used homeopathy all her life and has remarkable good health. In fact, many generations of the Royal family have used homeopathy

For as The Queen marks her 90th birthday on April 21, that she has reached such an excellent age is largely due to her lifelong trust in homeopathy. Everywhere that Her Majesty goes she is accompanied by a small case of special cures and tinctures and, although doctors no not care to admit it, it is because of her herbal little helpers that she rarely gets a cold or any other sort of complaint.

Empiricists would argue that as both The Queen and the late Queen Mother have been avid fans of homeopathy and as The Queen Mum died at the age of 101, the glaring probability that it works seems to be rather evident.

Sadly, her good health cannot last forever, and we have all seen recent reports of her being unwell, spending one night in hospital, and announcing the cancellation of all her engagements during the next two weeks resting on doctors’ orders.

Which doctors?

Peter Fisher was her homeopath, but he tragically died three years ago. Did the Queen appoint another homeopath to look after her? Did she go into the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine when she was ill? Was she reported to be taking homeopathic remedies during her recovery? The answer to all those questions seems to be NO.

What does that tell us?

I have often observed that our Royals use homeopathy while they are well and conventional medicine when they are ill. The Queen might have followed this strategy too. But not appointing a successor to Peter Fisher suggests something quite different. Does it indicate, I ask myself, that the Queen has recently had the occasion to look at the evidence and concluded – as most intelligent people did some time ago – that homeopathy does not work beyond placebo?

I certainly hope so, not least because refusing to rely on homeopathy would significantly increase her chances of remaining our Queen for some time to come.

The Austrian Health Insurance Fund is the largest social health insurance in Austria. Currently, about 82 percent of the people living in our country are insured with the ÖGK – that is 7.2 million insured persons. The ÖGK was created on 01.01.2020 through the merger of the nine former regional health insurance funds.

I was alerted to the following announcement by the Austrian Health Insurance Fund (my translation):

The Austrian Health Insurance Fund (ÖGK) ensures comprehensive medical care. However, medical services that do not treat an illness or contribute to preventive health care have to be paid for by the insured persons themselves

In the following cases, you have to pay for the services yourself, even if you use a panel doctor (Vertrauensarzt):

  • Sports or driving licence examinations
  • Exemptions from gym classes
  • Vaccinations (if they are not medical treatment)
  • Second medical opinions
  • Requests for nursing leave
  • Employment examinations on commencement of employment
  • Treatments for which there is no scientific medical evidence of effectiveness (e.g. homeopathy)
  • Purely cosmetic treatments
  • Examinations for the clarification of claims for disability, occupational incapacity, incapacity to work.

The term HOMEOPATHY was not highlighted in the original. As it is, however, of particular interest to the discussions on this blog, I took the liberty of doing so.

The writing for homeopathy had been on the wall for some time in Austria- to be exact, since 1819!

This is when his majesty, the emperor Franz 2nd, issued the above decree strictly forbidding Hahnemann’s method.

My translation:

Prohibition of Hahnemann’s healing method
His Majesty, by the highest resolution of October 13, 1819, decreed: Doctor Hahnemann’s homeopathic method of treatment is to be generally and strictly prohibited.
Court Chancellery Decree of 21 October 1819, to all State Offices

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