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

pseudo-science

It has been reported by several sources that the NHS is advertising for a Reiki healer.

The NHS stated that “the responsibilities of a reiki healer include treating clients using energy principles … and activating the healing process.” The post is paid for by the Sam Buxton Sunflower Healing Trust (SBSHT) which states on its website:

The SBSHT healing therapists, who work within the NHS and other health areas, are proud to be part of a multi-disciplinary team of professionals to provide vital support cancer patients, their relatives and staff. Since 2006, the SBSHT has funded healers to work in NHS, and other health related areas to support cancer patients and their families. A key role of the SBSHT is to increase awareness within the UK of the importance of providing healing support to cancer patients and families. Another vital role is to generate the crucial funds needed to place more healers in NHS, and other health related areas, throughout the country. Complementary therapy (CT) is increasingly demanded and expected by patients undergoing cancer treatments. An increasing amount of research clearly demonstrates that CT is important to support patients through their conventional treatments. SBSHT is committed to providing funds to NHS hospitals and cancer centers to engage the services of a Reiki practitioner or Healer for cancer patients and their families

As a charity we are or have funded healer posts within the centres below.

  • University College Hospital, London
  • Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge
  • Princess Alexandra Hospital, Epping
  • Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Welwyn Garden City
  • Derriford Hospital, Plymouth
  • Wigan NHS Trust, Wigan
  • St Josephs Hospice, London
  • Eden Valley Hospice and Jigsaw Children’s Hospice, Carlisle
  • St Mary’s Hospice, Ulverston and Barrow in Furness NHS Trust
  • St Johns Hospice, Lancaster
  • Kent and Canterbury Hospital, Canterbury
  • Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre, Bristol
  • Rowcroft Hospice, Torquay
  • The Lister Hospital, Stevenage
  • Barnstaple NHS Trust
  • Treliske Hospital, Cornwall
  • Poole NHS Trust
  • St Michaels Hospice, Herefordshire

The SBSHT was co-founded by Angie Buxton-King in memory of her son Sam, who died of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in 1998 aged 10. She is a member of the ‘College of Psychic Studies’ which is “committed to serving the evolution of consciousness”. The College website states this:

We were founded in 1884 to support and encourage empirical research into the esoteric. Our programme has since broadened and diversified to meet rising demand and increasingly global interests.

However, our core values remain the same. We continue to shine a light on key themes including consciousness, intuition, self-development and meditation. Our courses, workshops, talks and special events provide a safe and inclusive space in which to explore the full spectrum of human potential under the careful guidance of our expert tutors.

The College offers all sorts of courses; I was particularly fascinated by this one: “Alchemise Your Energy Through Dowsing“.

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Now, one could easily claim that there is nothing wrong with reiki healers invading the NHS; after all, they are funded by a charitable trust at no cost to the taxpayer.

Yet, I disagree!

Reiki healing is implausible and ineffective nonsense. As such it is by no means harmless. Employing such healers in the NHS sends out a strong signal that undermines the principles of rational thinking and evidence-based medicine. If the NHS truly does not value these principles, I suggest they also fill the chronic gaps in ambulance services by flying carpets.

Trevor Zierke is a D.C. who published several videos that have gone viral after saying that “literally 99% of my profession” is a scam. “When I say almost all the usual lines chiropractors tell you are lies, I mean almost all of them,” he stated. Zierke then went on to give examples of issues chiropractors allegedly make up, including someone’s spine being “misaligned,” tension on nerves causing health problems, and someone having back pain because their hips are off-center. “Almost all of these aren’t true,” he concluded.

In a follow-up video, he claimed that the reasons most people are told they need to go to a chiropractor are “overblown or just flat out lies proven wrong by research.” He also noted that, while there are many scams, that “doesn’t mean you can’t get help from a chiropractor.”

In a third TikTok video, Zierke offered some valid reasons to see a chiropractor. He said that one can seek help from a chiropractor if one has musculoskeletal pain that has been ongoing for more than one to two days, and that’s about it. He stated that issues that a chiropractor couldn’t really fix include “GI pain, hormonal issues, nutrition,” among others.

In comments, users were largely supportive of Zierke’s message.

One said: “As a physiotherapist, I’ve been trying to tell this but I don’t want to like offend any chiropractor in doing so,” a commenter shared.

“Working in a chiropractic office, this is fair,” a further user wrote. “I have issues that I know an adjustment will help & other pain that would be better stretched/released.”

In an email, Zierke reiterated the intention of his videos: “I would just like to clarify that chiropractors, in general, are not a scam or are inherently scammers (I myself am a practicing chiropractor), but rather a lot of very popular sales tactics, phrases, and wording used to imply patients need treatment, and methods of treatment, have never been proven to be true,” he explained. “When chiropractors say & use these methods stating things that are not factually true—I believe it’s scammy behavior and practices. There are still a lot of very good, honest, and integral chiropractors out there,” he concluded. “They can provide a lot of help and relief to patients. But that’s unfortunately not the majority, and I’ve heard too many stories of people falling victim to some of these scam-like tactics from bad apple chiropractors.”

None of what DC Zierke said can surprise those who have been following my blog. On the contrary, I could add a few recent posts to his criticism of chiropractic, for example:

I rest my case.

Should Acupuncture-Related Therapies be Considered in Prediabetes Control?

No!

If you are pre-diabetic, consult a doctor and follow his/her advice. Do NOT do what acupuncturists or other self-appointed experts tell you. Do NOT become a victim of quackery.

But the authors of a new paper disagree with my view.

So, let’s have a look at the evidence.

Their systematic review was aimed at evaluating the effects and safety of acupuncture-related therapy (AT) interventions on glycemic control for prediabetes. The Chinese researchers searched 14 databases and 5 clinical registry platforms from inception to December 2020. Randomized controlled trials involving AT interventions for managing prediabetes were included.

Of the 855 identified trials, 34 articles were included for qualitative synthesis, 31 of which were included in the final meta-analysis. Compared with usual care, sham intervention, or conventional medicine, AT treatments yielded greater reductions in the primary outcomes, including fasting plasma glucose (FPG) (standard mean difference [SMD] = -0.83; 95% confidence interval [CI], -1.06, -0.61; P < .00001), 2-hour plasma glucose (2hPG) (SMD = -0.88; 95% CI, -1.20, -0.57; P < .00001), and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels (SMD = -0.91; 95% CI, -1.31, -0.51; P < .00001), as well as a greater decline in the secondary outcome, which is the incidence of prediabetes (RR = 1.43; 95% CI, 1.26, 1.63; P < .00001).

The authors concluded that AT is a potential strategy that can contribute to better glycemic control in the management of prediabetes. Because of the substantial clinical heterogeneity, the effect estimates should be interpreted with caution. More research is required for different ethnic groups and long-term effectiveness.

But this is clearly a positive result!

Why do I not believe it?

There are several reasons:

  • There is no conceivable mechanism by which AT prevents diabetes.
  • The findings heavily rely on Chinese RCTs which are known to be of poor quality and often even fabricated. To trust such research would be a dangerous mistake.
  • Many of the primary studies were designed such that they failed to control for non-specific effects of AT. This means that a causal link between AT and the outcome is doubtful.
  • The review was published in a 3rd class journal of no impact. Its peer-review system evidently failed.

So, let’s just forget about this rubbish paper?

If only it were so easy!

Journalists always have a keen interest in exotic treatments that contradict established wisdom. Predictably, they have been reporting about the new review thus confusing or misleading the public. One journalist, for instance, stated:

Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of illnesses — and now it could also help fight one of the 21st century’s biggest health challenges.

New research from Edith Cowan University has found acupuncture therapy may be a useful tool in avoiding type 2 diabetes.

The team of scientists investigated dozens of studies covering the effects of acupuncture on more than 3600 people with prediabetes. This is a condition marked by higher-than-normal blood glucose levels without being high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

According to the findings, acupuncture therapy significantly improved key markers, such as fasting plasma glucose, two-hour plasma glucose, and glycated hemoglobin. Additionally, acupuncture therapy resulted in a greater decline in the incidence of prediabetes.

The review can thus serve as a prime example for demonstrating how irresponsible research has the power to mislead millions. This is why I have often said that poor research is a danger to public health.

And what can be done about this more and more prevalent problem?

The answer is easy: people need to behave more responsibly; this includes:

  • trialists,
  • review authors,
  • editors,
  • peer-reviewers,
  • journalists.

Yes, the answer is easy in theory – but the practice is far from it!

I have often called out unreliable or fraudulent research in the realm of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I think it is important to do so because the abundance of scientific misconduct is such that it has become a danger to public health. Today, I present yet another example:

This recent review claimed to summarize the evidence on TCM in treating MI, the clinical evaluations of TCM in treating male infertility (MI), and the molecular mechanisms of TCM effects. I was alerted to the fact that the authors cite a paper on acupuncture that I had co-authored. Here is the section in question from the review:

Acupuncture is one of the therapeutic techniques that are part of TCM. Acupuncture is a non-invasive technique and is regarded as free of risk if performed by trained personnel [35]. One of the advantages of acupuncture was that the incidence of adverse effects was substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted [35]. Acupuncture has been used in the treatment of male and female infertility and in assisted reproductive technology treatments for many years. A total of 100 patients with MI who met the diagnostic criteria were randomly divided into two groups [7]. Half of the patients received acupuncture treatment, and the other half received placebo acupuncture. After 10 weeks treatment, acupuncture successfully improved the indicators of the semen, including the spermatozoa survival rate, b-level activity rate, sperm density, sperm activity rate. A total of 28 infertile patients with severe oligoasthenozoospermia received acupuncture according to the principles of acupuncture and 29 infertile patients received placebo acupuncture. A significantly higher percentage of motile sperm (World Health Organization categories A-C), but no effect on sperm concentration, was found after acupuncture compared with placebo acupuncture [36]. Of the 279 cases of male sterility treated by the combination of acupuncture, pilose antler essence injection to acupoints and oral administration of Chinese materia medica, 142 cases (47.8%) were cured, 81 cases (27.3%) markedly effective, 53 cases (17.8%) effective and 21 cases (7.1%) ineffective [37]. The therapeutic effect of the combination of these three treatments was satisfactory.

Ref 7

Emerging evidence has shown that cell-cell interactions between testicular cells, in particular at the Sertoli cell-cell and Sertoli-germ cell interface, are crucial to support spermatogenesis. The unique ultrastructures that support cell-cell interactions in the testis are the basal ES (ectoplasmic specialization) and the apical ES. The basal ES is found between adjacent Sertoli cells near the basement membrane that also constitute the blood-testis barrier (BTB). The apical ES is restrictively expressed at the Sertoli-spermatid contact site in the apical (adluminal) compartment of the seminiferous epithelium. These ultrastructures are present in both rodent and human testes, but the majority of studies found in the literature were done in rodent testes. As such, our discussion herein, unless otherwise specified, is focused on studies in testes of adult rats. Studies have shown that the testicular cell-cell interactions crucial to support spermatogenesis are mediated through distinctive signaling proteins and pathways, most notably involving FAK, Akt1/2 and Cdc42 GTPase. Thus, manipulation of some of these signaling proteins, such as FAK, through the use of phosphomimetic mutants for overexpression in Sertoli cell epithelium in vitro or in the testis in vivo, making FAK either constitutively active or inactive, we can modify the outcome of spermatogenesis. For instance, using the toxicant-induced Sertoli cell or testis injury in rats as study models, we can either block or rescue toxicant-induced infertility through overexpression of p-FAK-Y397 or p-FAK-Y407 (and their mutants), including the use of specific activator(s) of the involved signaling proteins against pAkt1/2. These findings thus illustrate that a potential therapeutic approach can be developed to manage toxicant-induced male reproductive dysfunction. In this review, we critically evaluate these recent findings, highlighting the direction for future investigations by bringing the laboratory-based research through a translation path to clinical investigations.

This paper does not relate to the statement it is meant to support by the review authors.

Ref 35

The review by Qin et al (1) includes 5 trials none of which should have been included in a quality metaanalysis as the methodology was unconvincing: In the trial by Alraek et al., patients were randomised to receive either acupuncture or no treatment. This means that no attempt was made to control for the effects of placebo or extra attention. Therefore, this study does not demonstrate an effect of acupuncture as the outcome could be due to non-specific effects unrelated with this therapy. By contrast, the trial by Aune et al. did attempt to control for placebo effects by using a sham control group. Sham acupuncture was given using six needles superficially inserted in the calves, thighs or abdomen outside known acupuncture points or meridians. Needles were not manipulated in the sham group. Sham or placebo controls have the purpose of rendering patients unaware of whether they receive the real or the sham treatment. The method used here cannot achieve this aim; patients would be easily able to tell which intervention they received. In other words, this study also did not adequately control for placebo effects. The remaining three trials are all not Medline-listed, authored by Chinese investigators and published in inaccessible journals. This should disqualify them from inclusion as they were unverifiable by the peer review process. According to the published table, they were equivalence trials of acupuncture versus antibiotics with a sample size around 30. This means they are grossly underpowered and thus unable to generate reliable results. Unless BJOG peer reviewers could see the primary articles, or be provided with translations from Chinese, the systematic review should not have been accepted. The “many eyes of science” requires transparency, testing, challenge and verification. Although in the past, inconclusive results of acupuncture have not been thought to be due to Chinese influence (2), it has been noted that virtually all recent published acupuncture trials are “positive” (3), raising questions of publication and other biases. Our colleagues are under tremendous pressure to publish, but we do them no favours by effectively lowering the standard of scientific peer review. Elite journals too have an obligation to train and reiterate about publication ethics and sound scientific writing (4). As none of the primary studies convincingly demonstrated that acupuncture is an effective therapy for recurrent urinary tract infections, no positive conclusion was warranted. Although Qin et al. did state that the risk of bias of the included trials was generally high or unclear (1), the BJOG nevertheless allowed them to turn massive uncertainty into relatively firm, positive conclusions in the abstract (“Acupuncture appeared to be beneficial for treatment and prophylaxis of rUTIs”) and tweetable abstract (“This review found that acupuncture may improve treatment and prevent recurrence of urinary tract infection in women”), thus leading to excited media headlines that inevitably mislead the public. ‘May’ is a weasel word which should be avoided as it is unfalsifiable (for example, pigs do not fly but they ‘may’ fly in the future). The definite, straightforward conclusion must be “There is no good evidence to support the use of acupuncture for the treatment and prophylaxis of recurrent UTIs”. It is not acceptable to give international credibility to an implausible modality that no objective, independent high-quality review has found effective beyond placebo (5). The dampening accompanying mini-commentary (6) does not undo the damage.
The review should be withdrawn while the primary papers are translated for peer reviewers to examine, the above limitations discussed in the text, and the positive ‘spin’ in conclusions corrected. These improvements would consolidate the researchers’ probity and justify the accolade of BJOG publication.

Our letter to the editor does not bear any relation to the statement it is meant to support by the review authors.

Ref 36

In this first prospective, randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled study, 28 infertile patients with severe oligoasthenozoospermia received acupuncture according to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and 29 infertile patients received placebo acupuncture. A significantly higher percentage of motile sperm (World Health Organization categories A–C), but no effect on sperm concentration, was found after acupuncture compared with placebo acupuncture.

This small study is far from convincing and does not lend itself to far-reaching conclusions

Ref 37

Of the 279 cases of male sterility treated by the combination of acupuncture, pilose antler
essence injection to acupoints and oral administration of Chinese materia medica, 142
cases (47.8%) were cured, 81 cases (27.3%) markedly effective, 53 cases (17.8%) effective
and 21 cases (7.1%) ineffective. The therapeutic effect of the combination of these three
treatments was satisfactory.

This study had no control group and used two different therapies. Therefore, it does not allow any conclusion about the effectiveness of acupuncture.

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Perhaps you feel that these errors are trivial. But I would disagree. The review authors’ praise of acupuncture for MI is misplaced and will mislead the public. There are plenty of reviews on the subject, and those that are not overtly biased arrive at conclusions like these:

So, how did this sloppy review come about?

Its authors are affiliated to the TCM Regulating Metabolic Diseases Key Laboratory of Sichuan Province, Hospital of Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu 610072, China, and the Tea Research Institute, Sichuan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Chengdu 610066, China. A footnote tells us that their review was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China [No. 81973647] and the Xinglin scholar discipline promotion talent program of Chengdu University of traditional Chinese medicine [No. BSH2021018]. This sounds respectable enough.

The journal that published the review is ‘Pharmacological Research – Modern Chinese Medicine‘. Its stated aims are as follows: The journal publishes articles reporting on advances in our comprehension of mechanism and safety in experimental pharmacology and clinical efficacy and safety of pharmacologically active substances, including compound prescriptions, utilized in Traditional Chinese Medicine applying modern scientific research methods. Studies reporting also on the mechanisms of actions of the active substance(s) investigated are encouraged.

The editors in chief of the journal are Guan-Hua Du, PhD, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences Institute of Chinese Materia Medica, Beijing, China and Emilio Clementi, M.Mus, MD, PhD, University of Milan, Milan, Italy. No doubt, these are respectable scientists. And because they are, they should make sure that what they publish is correct – a criterion this recent review clearly does not meet.

I had totally forgotten this amusing little episode: According to THE GUARDIAN, Jacob Rees-Mogg (JRM) once tweeted that I should be locked up in the Tower of London!

If you are not from the UK, you may not know this Member of Parliament. So, let me explain.

JRM is the MP for North East Somerset and currently the ‘Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency’. His personal net worth is estimated to be well over £100 million. I probably don’t need to add much more about JRM; there is plenty about him on the Internet and on social media, for instance, this little gem:

Some of JRM’s medically relevant voting records are revealing:

  • He voted against raising welfare benefits five times in 2013.
  • He voted against higher benefits over long periods for those unable to work as a result of an illness or disability: 14 votes over 5 years.
  • Between 2012-2016, he voted 52 times to reduce the spending on welfare benefits.
  • He voted to exempt pubs and clubs where food is not served from the smoking ban in October 2010.
  • He voted against a law to make private vehicles smoke-free if a child is present.
  • He voted against allowing terminally ill people to be given assistance in ending their lives.

Wikipedia mentions that Rees-Mogg is against abortion in all circumstances, stating: “life begins at the point of conception. With same-sex marriage, that is something that people are doing for themselves. With abortion, that is what people are doing to the unborn child.” In September 2017, he expressed “a great sadness” on hearing about how online retailers had reduced pricing of emergency contraception. 

In October 2017, it was reported that Somerset Capital Management, of which Rees-Mogg was a partner, had invested £5m in Kalbe Farma, a company that produces and markets misoprostol pills designed to treat stomach ulcers but widely used in illegal abortions in Indonesia. Rees-Mogg defended the investment by arguing that the company in question “obeys Indonesian law so it’s a legitimate investment and there’s no hypocrisy. The law in Indonesia would satisfy the Vatican”. Several days later, it was reported that the same company also held shares in FDC, a company that sold drugs used as part of legal abortions in India. Somerset Capital Management subsequently sold the shares it had held in FDC. Rees-Mogg said: “I am glad to say it’s a stock that we no longer hold. I would not try to defend investing in companies that did things I believe are morally wrong”.

In a nutshell, JRM seems to stand for pretty much everything that I am against. But that is no reason to send me to the Tower of London. So, what exactly was JRM referring to when he wanted me locked up?

The Guardian article explains: At a press conference to mark his retirement [Ernst] agreed with a Daily Mail reporter’s suggestion that the Prince of Wales is a “snake-oil salesman”. In the living room of his house in Suffolk he unpacks the label with the precision on which he prides himself. “He’s a man, he owns a firm that sells this stuff, and I have no qualms at all defending the notion that a tincture of dandelion and artichoke [Duchy Herbals detox remedy] doesn’t do anything to detoxify your body and therefore it is a snake oil.” Far from regretting the choice of words and the controversy it has generated, he appears to relish it.

Looking back at all this bizarre story, I am surprised that JRM did not advocate chopping my head off in the Tower of London. He must have been in a benevolent mood that day!

Look what I found on Facebook:

Learn how to offer the healing energy of Reiki to yourself, people, and animals while enhancing your animal connection skills!

From daily support for health or challenges during times of crisis, Reiki helps restore balance on physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental levels for all living beings, enabling the body to do what it does best—heal itself. These benefits extend to other people, animals, trees/plants, and self-healing.

Reiki offers so many benefits for animals and for their human caregivers that I call it the gift that keeps on giving!

Reiki also enables students to connect and communicate more deeply with animals. If you think animals like you now, wait until they discover you’ve got Reiki—you’ll become an animal magnet!

For 25+ years Reiki has blessed me, my animal companions, students, and as a teacher I love sharing those benefits with as many people and animals as possible.

AVAILABLE WORLDWIDE

For many years I’ve taught a LIVE personally-mentored 6-week audio class where students learn all the basic skills needed by a beginning Reiki practitioner in addition to foundational principles of energy healing. And you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your home!

TAKEN REIKI BEFORE but don’t feel confident? Students who have retaken Reiki with me share that the weekly calls, opportunities to practice, online community, and opportunity to ask questions and receive guidance have helped them make Reiki a part of their daily lives and feel confident in offering it to loved ones.

REIKI LEVEL 1 CLASS SERIES

August 3 – September 7, 2022

LIVE WEEKLY CALLS and PERSONAL MENTORING

Every Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. Pacific for six weeks. Each call will be recorded and available for replay for students, including those in other time zones/countries. You do not have to attend live to take this class.

In addition to the 60-90 minute weekly calls, each student receives handouts and personal guidance for practice sessions.

When the class concludes, and all requirements have been fulfilled, each student receives a Reiki Level 1 certificate.

To learn more or register:

AND NOW FOR THE IMPORTANT BIT:

Choose one payment for all six classes. Payment is available with Visa, MC, or PayPal (choose PayPal credit card option for payment with Amex or Discover). PayPal also offers a payment plan option. Confirmation will be sent after registration along with instructions on how to join the first call. If you were unable to register in time to attend the first class live you can very easily catch up with the replay. Final deadline for registration is the day of the second class.

Single Pay Plan: $249.00

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This seems like a good little earner to me!

Congratulations to whoever invented it.

Yet I do feel that something has been forgotten:

the evidence.

If you search for Reiki on Pubmed, you find a baffling array of papers many of which arrive at positive conclusions. If you then check out the primary studies, you realize that most of them are of extremely poor quality, published by members of the Reiki cult (often in 3rd class journals for the nursing professions). If you search for independent systematic reviews that adequately account for the quality of the primary studies, you discover that, in fact, the evidence does not support the notion that Reiki is effective for anything. Here are a few examples:

And what about Reiki for animals?

As far as I can see, there is no good evidence at all.

So, does this render the above and similar courses fraudulent?

I let you answer this question for yourselves.

Earlier this year, I started the ‘WORST PAPER OF 2022 COMPETITION’. You will ask what is there to win in this competition? I agree: a competition without a prize is no fun. Therefore, I suggest offering the winner (that is the author of the winning paper) one of my books that best fits his/her subject. I am sure this will over-joy him or her. And how do we identify the winner? I suggest that I continue blogging about nominated papers (I hope to identify about 10 in total), and towards the end of the year, I let my readers decide democratically.

In this spirit of democratic voting, let me suggest to you ENTRY No 6:

This study was to ascertain the efficacy of dry cupping therapy (DCT) and optimal cup application time duration for cervical spondylosis (CS). It was designed as a randomized clinical trial involving 45 participants with clinically diagnosed CS. The eligible subjects were randomly allocated into three groups, each having 15 participants. Each of the three groups, i.e., A, B, and C, received DCT daily for 15 days for 8 min, 10 min, and 12 min, respectively. All the participants were evaluated at the baseline, 7th, and 15th day of the trial using the neck disability index (NDI) as well as the visual analog scale (VAS).

The baseline means ± SD of NDI and VAS scores were significantly reduced in all three groups at the end of the trial. Although all three groups were statistically equal in terms of NDI, group C demonstrated greater efficacy in terms of VAS.

The authors concluded that the per-protocol analysis showed that dry cupping effectively alleviated neck pain across all treatment groups. Although this effect on neck disability index was statistically equal in all three groups, the 12-min protocol was more successful in reducing pain.

Who would design such a study and why?

  • The authors claim they wanted to ascertain the efficacy of DCT. A trial is for testing, not ascertaining. And this study does certainly not test for efficacy.
  • The groups were too small to generate a meaningful result of what, in fact, was an equivalence study.
  • Intra-group changes in symptoms between baseline and time points during treatment are irrelevant in a controlled trial.
  • The slightly better results of group C are most likely due to chance or non-specific effects (a longer application of a placebo would generate better outcomes that a shorter one).
  • The study participants had cervical spondylosis, yet the conclusion is about neck pain. The two are not identical.
  • The title of the paper promises that we learn something about the safety of DCT. Sadly, a trial with just 45 patients has no chance in hell to pick up adverse effects in a reliable way.
  • As there is no control group, the study cannot tell us anything about possible specific effects of DCT.

The authors of the study have impressive affiliations:

  • Department of Ilaj bil Tadbir, Luqman Unani Medical College Hospital and Research Center, Bijapur, India.
  • Department of Ilaj bil Tadbir, National Institute of Unani Medicine, Bengaluru, India.
  • Department of Moalajat, Luqman Unani Medical College Hospital and Research Center, Bijapur, India.

I would have hoped that researchers from national institutions and medical colleges should be able to design a trial that has at least a small chance to produce a meaningful finding. As it turns out, my hope was badly disappointed.

HISC (HOMEOPATHY IN THE SUSSEX COMMUNITY) was formed in 2011 and has established effective partnerships with organisations that support those in need. Projects include working with domestic and sexual violence charities as well as supporting people recovering from long-term and enduring mental health illness issues. They enable vulnerable and marginalised members of the Sussex community to access low cost treatment with highly experienced homeopaths.

On 22 July, HISC made the following announcement:

Homeopathy in the Sussex Community (HISC) has been awarded a grant from The National Lottery Community Fund to provide homeopathy to survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence. 

HISC works in partnership with Sussex-based organisations; RISE, and Survivors Network, offering long-term and low-cost homeopathic support to women who have experienced abuse and sexual violence. 

This grant will fund these projects for the next year, allowing HISC to build on the valuable work already being done and reaching even more vulnerable women who want access to homeopathic support.

Society Fellow Caroline Jurdon and Registered members Michael Bird, Therese Eriksen, Tara Lavelle and Jo Magowan have all worked on the project with colleagues from the wider community. HISC received one of the Society of Homeopath’s Community Clinic awards in 2018.

HISC also offer volunteering and sitting in opportunities for students.

_________________________

The ‘National Lottery Community Fund’ make the following points on their website:

  • “Our funding is public money. This means that it cannot be used to give organisations an unlawful advantage.”
  • “We fund projects that support people and communities across the UK to thrive.”

I would argue that, for the following reasons, the award is misplaced:

  1. Public money should not be wasted. It must be invested in projects that have a reasonable chance to do more good than harm.
  2. A broad consensus exists today that homeopathy has no effect beyond placebo. In fact, the NHS has stopped funding homeopathy and states that “there’s been extensive investigation of the effectiveness of homeopathy. There’s no good-quality evidence that homeopathy is effective as a treatment for any health condition.”
  3. Homeopathy can endanger lives. If people are misled into believing that it is effective and thus treat serious conditions with homeopathy, they needlessly prolong their suffering or, in the worst case scenario, hasten their death. Awards of the above nature can undoubtedly have this effect.

In my view, this means that the award given to HISC by the  National Lottery Community Fund gives an unlawful advantage to an organisation promoting a bogus therapy. At best, it is a waste of public funds, at worst it causes serious harm.

Surely, women who have experienced abuse and sexual violence deserve better!

 

 

 

A recent report provided a sales prognosis of the future development of the worldwide market of homeopathic products.

… Homeopathic remedies are derived from substances that come from Plant Homeopathics, minerals, or animals, such as red onion, arnica (mountain herb), crushed whole bees, white arsenic, poison ivy, belladonna (deadly nightshade), and stinging nettle. Homeopathic remedies are often formulated as sugar pellets to be placed under the tongue; they may also be in other forms, such as ointments, gels, drops, creams, and tablets. Treatments are “individualized” or tailored to each person—it is not uncommon for different people with the same condition to receive different treatments.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the global Homeopathic Products market size is estimated to be worth US$ 854.4 million in 2021 and is forecast to a readjusted size of US$ 1388.8 million by 2028 with a CAGR of 7.1% during the forecast period 2022-2028…

Currently, the companies in the world that produce homeopathic products mainly concentrate in Europe, USA and India. The main market players are DHU, Nelson & Co Ltd, Hyland’s, Homeopathic, SBL and Apotheca etc, with about 14% market shares.

Europe homeopathic products is the world’s most flourishing area, homeopathic treatment sales in Europe accounted for 24%, North America area is about 16% of market share…

I feel that the agencies that publish such reports could do with a bit of proper research. This might result in fewer errors and less egg on their faces.  Here are a few points that I think might need corrections:

  • Homeopathics can also be produced from a complete absence of material, for instance, X-rays or vacuum.
  • Some can also be injected.
  • I fear that the sales predictions are far too optimistic; they fail to account for the almost worldwide realization that homeopathy is an obsolete placebo therapy.
  • The market share of South American nations seems to have been forgotten.
  • The worldwide main player is Boiron.

Of course, none of this is important; after all, it’s only one of those meaningless market predictions that seem to be made by looking at tea leaves rather than facts.

Am I too harsh?

I don’t think so,  – not least because it is easy to find predictions that differ substantially, e.g.:

Unimportant? Yes, except that homeopaths and their advocates (like Prince Charles, for instance) are bound to use such documents for claiming that, if millions continue to use homeopathy, it must be effective and science must be wrong. Readers of this blog got used to and can by now see through homeopaths’ fallacies – but far too many consumers still fall for them.

Today, I received an email advertising a book – nothing unusual, of course. But the book and its author are both quite unusual. Here is the text:

Dr. Farokh J. Master’s birth into homeopathy was in the year 1976, when he joined Bombay homeopathic medical college, after giving up his studies at the orthodox school of medicine. Dr Master was instrumental in starting homeopathic out-patient dept in many allopathic hospitals viz. Bombay Hospital, KEM Hospital & Ruby Hall, Pune. Besides his work as a senior Homeopath of the HHC, Dr. Farokh Master is teaching homeopathy (advanced level) at the Mumbai Homeopathic Medical College, part of Mumbai university. He is also teaching at other homeopathic colleges in India and abroad. He has given seminars in various countries like Austria, Australia, India, Japan etc…

Healing Cancer: A Homoeopathic Approach

As a homeopath one should not deter oneself in dealing with any type of cases, be it cancer. But for executing that an ultimate guidance is needed. Cancer is so much prevalent and challenging medical problem of today that a trustworthy source of accurate information becomes pertinent and this work of Dr. Farokh Master immediately propels at the top of quality books for cancer. Based on Master’s  40  years of experience this book was written for students to understand the basis of oncology and for practitioners for brushing-up of their knowledge in this growing discipline. Author says that to get a grasp on cancer cases we should believe in the potential of the homeopathic treatment, that healing from cancer refers to internal process of becoming whole and feeling harmonious with yourself and your environment.To even start with handling the cases of cancer one should be aware of understanding of cancer, its cause, pathophysiology, different types, conventional treatment and their side effects, integrative medicines, social problems in the treatment, such topics are well casted by Volume 1 of the book…•    A whole chapter on Cadmium salts and cancer.•    51 “lesser known remedies” are briefly quoted and their usefulness in different situations and types of cancer exposed.•    A long chapter deals with the “Indian drugs”, it is important that these remedies are used mostly in tincture or low potencies, as herbal or Ayurvedic remedies or food supplements relieving the patients. •    The choice and differentiation between the remedies is then helped by the “Repertory of Cancer”, very well compiled and a highly useful section. “Clinical tips from my practice” given as a sub-chapter. •    It ends with recommendations on how to deal with radiation illness and the side-effects of conventional treatment, as well as the treatment of pain and help with palliative care. For fighting and curing cancer and improving the quality and quantity of life of people, knowledge of Homeopathy, both philosophically and scientifically is needed which this work of art portrays delightfully.

__________________________

It is clear that Dr. Farokh J. Master does not suggest using homeopathy in addition to conventional cancer therapies. He foremost wants to employ it as an alternative cancer cure. It is also clear that, if his concepts were generally adopted, they could kill millions.

Some defenders of homeopathy might claim that this is not what most homeopaths would advocate; they would merely recommend homeopathy as an adjunct to conventional oncology. Yet, there are many examples to the contrary, and not just from India – after all, Hahnemann, the inventor of homeopathy, insisted that homeopathy must never be combined with ‘allopathic’ medicines.

So, the next time someone claims homeopathy to be harmless, please show them this post.

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