In this article I will take a calm and objective look at what the therapy invented 200 years ago by Samuel Hahnemann and known as ‘homeopathy’ is and why it is absolute crap.
Not only is it utter crap but somehow it’s acquired an air of respectability. As the Lancet famously said in 2005, the more dilute the evidence for homeopathy, the greater seems its popularity. All over the place people are talking unashamedly about trying homeopathic remedies on themselves, their children and their animals, oblivious to the fact that talking like this immediately flags up that they are ill-educated, gullible or deluded. It is because homeopathy is so absurd and yet taken so seriously by so many who should know better, that I focus on it a lot when I’m ranting about alternative therapies in general.
I’ve already said a bit about the (lack of) scientific evidence for homeopathy but there is much more of this lack of evidence, so to speak, elsewhere on the web. Try PubMed and Cochrane. As for why people use it, I think the reasons why people try it are much the same as the reasons why they try other alternative therapies and I discussed some of those reasons in an earlier post. One of the reasons I suggest is that people don’t actually know what is (or, rather, what isn’t) in the remedies and how their manufacture has much to do with weird cultish rituals and nothing to do with science or medicine.
Let’s look at how they’re made. The UK-based homeopathy manufacturer, Helios, helpfully provide a list of several hundred homeopathic ingredients on their website. Here are a few examples:
If you’re thinking that homeopathy’s beginning to sound quite appealing, then my next example will make you wonder if it’s actually some footballer’s totty’s Christmas list I’ve been looking at by mistake.
Chanel No. 5
No, really. Here’s their remedy finder, check it out yourself if you don’t believe me.
Why it should be Chanel No. 5 and not, say, Chanel No. 19 or Miss Dior or Old Spice, is anybody’s guess. More intriguing is the question of how in the name of Zeus did it even occur to some deranged quackpot to consider that an upmarket perfume best known for being Marilyn Monroe’s only sleep attire might just possibly have useful healing properties in the first place.
And I have the same question about this next one:
WTF? Did someone spot a wee goldfish swimming round in its bowl and think ‘Hey, maybe a dose of goldfish would help with my hurty knee (or whatever)’? I mean, seriously, whatever possessed anyone to even think of investigating a goldfish’s medicinal properties?
To call them deranged is putting it mildly. Compared to other things on that list, perfume and goldfish sound almost reasonable. At least they exist. What are we to make of this next one?
Venus Stella Errans
A quick google revealed this to be the ‘focussed light of the planet Venus’. We’re not told exactly how they get this light into the remedy but we are treated to a very plausible hypothesis:
Whilst I don’t think that the symptoms that can be cured by this remedy will be ones caused by exposure to the light of Venus, it is possible that individuals who have these symptoms are sensitive or susceptible to it. It is one of the many interesting aspects of this proving. We already know people can be affected by the Sun and Moon. A further possibility is that venus may be significant in their astrological birth chart, or maybe the position of venus at the time of making the remedy relates to the chart.
Thanks for sharing.
But even the source of that explanation — a handy little website called remedy finder — says nothing about this next one.
Venus in Transit
According to Wikipedia, a transit of Venus across the Sun takes place when the planet Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth, obscuring a small portion of the solar disk. The last Venus transit took place in 2004 and the next one is booked for 2012.
Nowhere in any article I could find on the web, is it explained how they manage to capture Venus in transit and stick it in a remedy. Or what that remedy (or any of the others I’ve mentioned thus far) might treat.
Of course, we know what some of the treatments on the Helios list are used for — at least when they are prescribed in a proper dose by a proper doctor. Take these:
There are also a number of vaccines on the list including influenza and Hepatitis B. But if you find the fact that Helios appear to include evidence-based treatments in their list in any way reassuring, brace yourself for what’s coming. You didn’t imagine the remedies were vegan-friendly or anything eccentric like that did you? If so, think again. The list include many, many items that would turn the stomach of even the most unrepentant of carnivores including:
Sheep mastitis milk
Canine sinus pus
The last one’s a posh way of saying dog poop. Surprisingly, there is no excrementum taur on the list. I wonder, do they keep the dog for its sinus pus and faeces then let it dies a natural death before snipping off its balls?
Dilution and the ‘Law of the Minimum Dose’*snigger*
I hope I’ve put readers off homeoquackery for life but, in fairness, nobody should imagine the products being sold as homeopathic remedies actually contain any of those ingredients. No, these are just the starting substances, which will be dissolved in water or alcohol to make what they call the ‘mother tincture’. If you looked at the Helios list you will have noticed the wee numbers next to each ingredient. These refer to dilutions because one of the wackiest of all the wacky notions we can attribute to homeopathy is what they call the Law of the Minimum Dose, also known as the Law of Infinitesimals, which says that the more diluted the homeopathic preparation, the more powerfully it works. As you can see from the list, a common dilution used in the remedies is 30 C (100 to the power of 30).
That means 1 part ‘ingredient’ to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 parts water!
If you can’t get your head round that figure, Wikipedia helpfully puts it this way:
30 C: Dilution advocated by Hahnemann for most purposes: this would require giving two billion doses per second to six billion people for 4 billion years to deliver a single molecule of the original material to any patient.
In Rose Shapiro’s excellent book, Suckers: How alternative medicine makes fools of us all, I read that to hold that much water would require a container over 30 billion times the size of the earth (p. 87). You don’t have to be a scientist to know that diluting something makes it weaker not stronger: any child who has made herself a glass of orange squash will have worked that one out. And anyone with even half a brain will realise that a dilution of 30 C means the original ingredient will have been diluted out of existence — a fact readily admitted by homeopaths themselves. A typical response to the argument that homeopathy has no active ingredients so it can only work as a placebo is this one, which appeared as a comment on You Tube.
Not really relevant … it works on a bio-energetic rather than a pharmacological basis.
Bio-energetic? What does that mean? Apparently homeopaths use it to mean something like this:
The idea is not to cure the disease as to restore the body’s balance, so that the body deals with the problem itself.
(Dr Peter Fisher, quoted by Rose Shapiro, Suckers p. 93. Great book — buy it!)
This, of course, will immediately raise other questions in the mind of the intelligent reader and the first one will be ‘What the hell is the body’s balance??’ It’s words like ‘balance’ and ‘bio-energetic’ that give clues as to what homeopathy really is and this will become increasingly apparent as we continue to investigate the manufacturing process.
Because it doesn’t end with dilution. There is a crucial step in the process of preparing the remedy that makes all the difference, apparently. Don’t take my word for it, take it from Rachel Roberts, research consultant for the Society of Homeopaths.
Homeopathic remedies are prepared from highly diluted substances and hence controversy has arisen in the UK about its efficacy. However, critics often ignore the fact that the production of remedies involves vigorous agitation or succussion between dilutions. It is this succussion that makes the difference between an inert solution and an active homeopathic remedy. Source pdf.
And not only does the agitation have to be vigorous, it has to involve striking against an elastic surface a set number of times. Here’s a demonstration.
This, homeopaths tell us, leaves an ‘imprint’ or ‘memory’ of the mother tincture on the water, right?
Wrong. When challenged on what exactly an ‘imprint on the water’ means and why it is undetectable, some homeopaths assert that the structure of the water changes. Here is an example:
Current thinking is that when one dilutes in the specific homeopathic method of dilution, which involves successive dilution with utterly pure distilled water as well as succussion, or shaking, the water molecules create patterns, like snowflakes, unique and precise, around each molecule of solute. In other words, a homeopathic preparation of sulfur and a homeopathic preparation of maple tree bark are pretty much the same to the casual observer: just water. But that water is very different, in that one has the “imprint” of the sulfur, and the other resembles, in its properties and molecular mega structures or “clathrates,” the “imprint” of the maple tree bark.
Unfortunately for the promulgators of this theory, research finds that any molecular change in water round a solute lasts under 50 femtoseconds. A femtosecond is one quadrillionth of a second. But in fairness to Samuel Hahnemann, he doesn’t say anything about solutes causing molecular changes. Back in 1810 it wasn’t necessary to come up with sciencey-sounding explanations and he could get away with twittering on about ‘developing the latent dynamic powers’ of the substances he used. The guff they’re coming up with now is just another example of the present-day homeopath’s schizophrenic attitude to science, which is that it’s generally bad but it’s OK to fabricate a scientific-sounding explanation about how implausible ingredients can make water special. What they can’t fabricate is a satisfactory explanation as to why the water only remembers the homeopathic ingredient that’s been added and forgets everything else.
Ben Goldacre was the subject of a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission by a homeopath who objected to a piece he wrote sneering at the water’s selective memory idea (“How does a water molecule know to forget every other molecule it’s seen before: How does it know to treat my bruise with its memory of arnica, rather than a memory of Isaac Asimov’s faeces?”).
The homeopath apparently declared that you have to “bang the flask of water briskly ten times on a leather and horsehair surface, and that’s what makes the water remember a molecule. Because I did not mention this, he explained, I had deliberately made homeopaths sound stupid”. (Ben Goldacre, Bad Science, p. 36. Great book — buy it!)
The ‘Law of Similars’
At the start of this post I said that many homeopathy users don’t know much about the manufacture of homeopathy and the ideas behind it.
But there are homeopathy users and, especially, practitioners who do know all about dilutions, succussion, potentisation and all the rest of the twaddle and who appear to accept it all at face value. Of course, some people have a great deal invested in homeopathy. Some people make their living from it. Remarkably, some of these people do have at least some kind of education in sciences and some could presumably make a comfortable living without messing around with quack therapies. Here, for example, is the personal website of Jayne Donegan, who qualified as a proper doctor in London and who calls herself a ‘GP & Homeopath’. She says:
Homeopathy is based on three principles:
- A medicine that in large doses creates the symptoms of a disease will, in small doses, cure it. This can be summed up in the phrase; ‘like cures like’
- Extreme dilution enhances the medicine’s healing properties and eliminates any undesirable side effects along the way
- Homeopathy takes the whole person into consideration
So not only does dilution make any therapeutic effects of the substances stronger, it eliminates any undesirable side effects. Phew! No trace of Asimov’s faeces then. Just some therapeutic dog faeces.
Jayne Donegan’s three principles would be a very concise summary of how homeopathy works, if only it did work and wasn’t hogwash. Like cures like? Think about the ingredients I mentioned earlier. Just what human ailment is ‘like’ dog poop? What condition could possibly be treated by the application of water with an ‘imprint’ of dog poop? Shit-for-brains syndrome?
The idea that like cures like — the ‘Law of Similars’ — is the one thing that most people know about homeopathy if they know anything at all and it obviously resonates with quite a number of them. Indeed, it’s hard to credit some the stuff about it that is contained in thousands of moronic websites purporting to educate and empower people in matters of health. Take this site for example.
The Law of Similars is used in vaccination, to treat hypothermia, and many incidences of poisoning, such as snakebites, all examples of using the toxic substance to create the cure. The idea of ‘fighting fire with fire’.
Used to treat hypothermia? So if I come across someone suffering from hypothermia, I should treat him with an ice pack?
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read homeopathy apologists try claim there is some link between how vaccines work and how homeopathic remedies work. This excruciating piece of gobshite from a homeopusher on Yahoo questions is typical:
Homeopathy scintifically works. Who told you it is unproven science? if you are unaware that does not mean all are ignorant like you. Homeopathy treatment is nothing but one type of Immune therapy which help to activate your immune system so that your immune system helps in the curative process.Neither Homeopathy nor conservative treatment can give gyrentee in advance stage of any cancer and for your kind information open your mind to science that will be helpful to you. thank you [sic]
Utter claptrap. Vaccines have real ingredients, which include a bit of a known causative agent such as (severely compromised) viruses or bacteria. Once injected into a person, the vaccine stimulates the production of antibodies that will defend the body if it is invaded by that particular pathogen in future. Homeopathic remedies have no active ingredients, therefore they can’t possibly activate your immune system.
It should, in my opinion, be against the law to sell so-called remedies labelled as containing specific ingredients, be they herbs, animal body fluids or anything else, when in fact there is no trace of any such ingredient in them. But apparently it’s perfectly legal in Britain, provided the label says ‘homeopathy’.
Edit: This post is interrupted to bring you this brilliant two-minute pastiche by Mitchell & Webb.
“Does anybody know What sort of car hit him?”
“A blue Ford Mondeo, apparently”
“Right. Get me a bit of blue Ford Mondeo, put it in water, shake it, dilute it, shake it again, dilute it again, do some more shaking, dilute it some more, then put three drops on his tongue. If that doesn’t cure him, I don’t know what will.”
Anyway, having covered ingredients, dilutions and succession, the next piece of the jig saw is a partial answer to my earlier question about how did they ever discover the supposed therapeutic benefits of piss, shit, a goldfish and Chanel No. 5. The answer is my favourite thing about homeopathy— provings.
This is the word used by homeopaths to describe how remedies are tested. Wiki tells us that the word ‘proving’ comes from the German word Prüfung meaning ‘test’ and that Hahnemann tested his remedies on himself and on other healthy volunteers, who were required to keep a detailed journal of their symptoms. As it says on this homeoquackery site:
The purpose could be to gather symptoms of a remedy, the essence, a total image or all those combined. The proving is not the same as a clinical trial which is more directed at just physical symptoms, it is more sensitive.
Apart from the hilarious typo, which somehow turned ‘wholly subjective and therefore worthless’ into ‘more sensitive’, this is a useful illustration of what homeopathy really is, and it ain’t science. But more of that in moment.
With provings, as with everything else connected with homeopathy, it seems that not a lot has changed since Hahnemann’s day. After some searching, I found an example of a proving carried out in the 21st century. The starting substance was a bit of rock from a Scottish mountain top. It was ‘tested’ on five women (tiny numbers of testers don’t seem to bother homeopushers at all) for a minimum 14 days and here are a few of the notes they recorded (the first number in brackets refers to which of the five volunteers is speaking):
Essence arrived today at three thirty. Took first dosage at that time. Felt slight nausea. Felt deep seated family-related depression. (03. Day 1)
Developed red spot under left eye. Very itchy. (05. Day 7)
Pimple on chin developed, right protuberance; painful to touch, but have to scratch it open. (02. Day 2)
Diarrhoea/very loose stool with gurgling in abdomen after eating fresh fish and potatoes. (02. Day 6)
[Update one month later] Yesterday my menses started, exactly 8 weeks after the last one. So the essence suppressed the menses, but didn’t shift the cycle, not even one day. And it seems every single drop was saved, ie. the amount of bleeding today is overwhelming (even more than normal, but no pains). (02. Day xx)
Sensitivity of teeth (which are usually quite sensitive in areas of exposed dentine due to receding gums) has disappeared. Can brush them vigorously without discomfort. (01. Day 13 and after)
Sensitivity of teeth seems to have returned with a vengeance, worse than it ever was, but only on the right side. After 2 weeks, change brushing regime to start on the left rather than the right and sensitivity disappears again. (01. Day xx)
Last night I had severe difficulties to fall asleep – unusual; seemed to take hours. (02. Day 5)
etc, etc, etc.
In a nutshell, after taking the ‘essence’, every twinge, every blemish and every variation — however slight — on what normally happens, is noted in case it was caused by the essence. From this information, the practitioner builds up a profile of what the essence might treat. It is indeed different from a clinical trial which, ideally:
• has a lot more than five people;
• is randomised so that there it includes subjects of both sexes and a spread of ages and other factors (unless there are good reasons not to include both sexes and a spread of ages, obviously);
• includes a control group who are given a placebo, or no medication or the best available current medication for whatever condition is being studies, so that a comparison with the group who are taking the medication on trial can be made;
• is double-blinded so that neither the subjects nor the researchers know who is getting the medication and who is getting a sugar pill.
Homeopathic provings, it seems, are based on a logical fallacy known as post hoc ergo propter hoc: A happened, then B happened so A must have caused B, e.g. I drank a glass of water then I developed a headache so the water must have caused the headache.
Sure enough, the list of conditions that this very useful homeopathic remedy can treat includes depression, sleep disturbance, skin eruptions, delayed menses and “Diarrhoea after fish/potatoes”. Laugh? I nearly choked on my muesli when I read that. Presumably if diarrhoea comes after a plate of moussaka or a slice of cheese flan, a different remedy will be warranted.
Treating the ‘whole person’
Or maybe not. Going back to Jayne Donegan’s list of homeopathic principles, the one we haven’t looked at yet is the claim that homeopathy “takes the whole person into consideration”.
Well, the reason why people come away from their homeopathic consultations feeling so much better is that the homeoquack spends a lot of time — time that NHS doctors simply don’t have — finding out every tiny thing about the customer. Fortunately, I didn’t have to waste my hard earned cash on buying one of these ego massaging sessions to find out the kind of things homeopaths need to know because a list of such questions was very kindly provided to posters of a certain forum by a homeopusher called Nancy Malik, who seems to spend most of her time trolling internet boards promoting her quackery. The list has 176 items on it, here’s a sample:
1=Always 2=Often 3=Sometime 4=Never
1: Loves to travel 1 2 3 4
2: Cry When Thanked 1 2 3 4
3: Cry When Nervous or From Anxiety 1 2 3 4
6: Relieved by Crying 1 2 3 4
8: Likes/Loves Sympathy 1 2 3 4
9: Hates/Dislikes Sympathy 1 2 3 4
10: Sympathetic 1 2 3 4
62: Likes Warm Foods And Drinks 1 2 3 4
63: Dislikes Warm Foods 1 2 3 4
64: Likes Raw Foods 1 2 3 4
65: Lose Appetite During Mensturation 1 2 3 4
110: Heights 1 2 3 4
111: Enclosed Spaces 1 2 3 4
112: Crowds and Public Places 1 2 3 4
113: Mice and Rats 1 2 3 4
114: Snakes 1 2 3 4
115: Water 1 2 3 4
136: Warm And Made Worse By Heat 1 2 3 4
137: Ailments are Worse in Stuffy Rooms 1 2 3 4
138: Feet are Hot In Bed, Stick Them Our of Bedclothes 1 2 3 4
139: Chilly But Made Worse By Heat 1 2 3 4
140: Chilly But Better With Heat 1 2 3 4
141: Feet Are Sweaty And Smelly 1 2 3 4
Homeopathy is a crock
Hahnemann can be forgiven. He lived 200 years ago when conventional medicine was little better than witchcraft — bloodletting was one of the most common medical practices, for crying out loud! Homeopushers often argue that the survival rates during cholera epidemics were better than those of ordinary hospitals. Of course they were! Patients at the homeopathic hospital were given ineffective remedies and left in peace instead of being tortured with leeches etc. Doctors then didn’t know what doctors know today and when Hahnemann explained what he thought was the cause of all human ailments, he probably didn’t sound too nutty. Hahnemann described illness as
a state of being of the organism dynamically unturned by a disturbed vital force…In the state of health the spirit-like vital force (dynamis) animating the material human organism reigns in supreme sovereignty. It maintains the sensations and activities of all the parts of the living organism in a harmony that obliges wonderment. The reasoning spirit who inhabits the organism can thus freely use this healthy living instrument to reach the lofty goal of human existence.
(Samuel Hahnemann, Organon of Medicine, 8-9, sixth edition)
It is surely obvious from this small extract that, to Hahnemann, sickness had more to do with spirituality than science and, given the state of 18th century medicine, who can blame him?
But the homeopaths of today have no excuse. I believe that most people who set themselves up as complementary therapists of any sort do so because they love the feeling of power that goes with being a ‘healer’ but they don’t have the ability or inclination to train as proper doctors.
As for those people who are medically qualified and yet still promote homeopathy, it should be obvious to anyone who has researched the subject that they are seriously deluded. Rose Shapiro (p. 96) provides us with this quote from a proper doctor who is also a homeopath:
when you meet with someone and you choose a medicine for them, the medicine in some way becomes invested with some of the properties that were established during the time when the practitioner and the patient got together, so they are not separable in the normal pharmaceutical sense…there is some sort of wider picture here and homeopathy is tapping into it and it’s just even the names of homeopathic medicines, you know like compared to drug names, they’re just so much more beautiful.
Whatever he’s on, I want some. As long as it’s not homeopathy.
Related Posts by Skepticat
- Why do people use alternative therapies?
- Do alternative therapies work?
- Why I am qualified to comment on alternative therapies
- Homeopathy, hissy-fits and how to catch malaria
- Homeopathy is still crap
44 thoughts on “Homeopathy is crap”
Many thanks to SidDithers at Democratic Underground for linking to this post and getting it a few more viewers!
Great article thanks
“As for those people who are medically qualified and yet still promote homeopathy, it should be obvious to anyone who has researched the subject that they are seriously deluded. ”
I really shouldn’t waste my valuable time with someone who obviously has at the very least a borderline personality disorder, but I would like to post a reply for the benefit of your naive, unlearned readers who may actually think that you know what you are talking about. In the first place, it’s fairly easy for any bozo to pull out bits and pieces of wacko information to bolster an inaccurate viewpoint. It’s done all the time. What you have failed to do is post too-numerous-to-mention links that offer documented evidence of the efficacy of homeopathy. There is so much well-documented evidence proving how much more successful homeopathy has been over conventional medicine (also called “allopathic” medicine) that you would have to take time off to read all of it. If you have any wish at all to benefit humankind, you will get off your distorted high horse and buy a remedy (they’re much cheaper than pharmaceuticals) and try it, say for instance the next time you have chest congestion with a lot of phlegm (Spongia Tosta 30C) and see how much better you can breathe. If homeopathy were so ineffective, why, pray tell, would it still be around after a coupla hundred years? If it were quackery, why would 500 million people be using it to this day? Why would physicians become homeopaths? Why would some veterinarians give up conventional medicine and use only homeopathy in their practices?
“Hahnemann can be forgiven. He lived 200 years ago when conventional medicine was little better than witchcraft …” HELLO? Current conventional medicine has its place but is still sadly lacking, and Big Pharma is extorting billions of dollars from sick people who are still programmed to pay homage to the almighty M.D. and Big Pharma ONLY because they don’t know about the many benefits of homeopathy, not the least of which is that it is quite inexpensive and has no side effects. The next time you feel achy, be a “real scientist” and take a dose or 2 of Rhus Tox 30C and see what happens. Who cares how it works? The point is that it most certainly does work and I, along with millions of others, have saved hundreds of dollars by using these remedies on myself and my animals instead of running back and forth to the doctor and the vet.
It’s too late to convince me and millions of others that homeopathy doesn’t work. To your readers, do yourself a favor and do your own research on homeopathy, for God’s sake. Use your common sense. The person writing all this negative press on homeopathy must be getting a big fat check from one of the pharmaceutical companies who would dearly love to push homeopathy off the map. One of the many benefits of homeopathy is that every time you use a remedy, your immune system gets a boost. In addition, you can take one dose of a remedy for a runny nose and never know you took it. You will have no hyperactivity from Sudafed or the like and you won’t be sleepy. You will just quickly notice that you no longer have a runny nose. Do your own research. Go read how homeopathy cured people with the 1918 Spanish flu or the Bubonic Plague in Europe, or Asiatic cholera. Those same remedies still work to this very day. You don’t have to take a 10-day course of antibiotics. You take the remedy until the symptoms disappear. Educate yourself properly. You will be so glad you did.
Here is an excellent article that gives great statistics on the efficacy of homeopathy over conventional medicine. All of the information given in this article can be confirmed on many other websites. It also explains how homeopathy was forced underground by the power of the American Medical Association and Big Pharma who were obviously threatened by this very simple and inexpensive treatment. In case you haven’t noticed, sickness is Biiiiig Business in this country. We will always need our doctors, certainly, but we can all save hundreds of dollars to self-treat simple ailments and boost our immune system in the process. The constant use of synthetic drugs is not good for the human body. Be informed, be balanced. Read the article. It’s for your own good.
[Article removed by skepticat.]
And your qualification for diagnosing someone as having at least a borderline-personality order is? Do you think being abusive in this way is going to make anyone take what you have to say seriously?
You’re right. You shouldn’t waste your valuable time because your posts are crud. You’re the one who needs to get an education. Go find out what being a “real scientist” means before you embarrass yourself any further.
Erika, I hope you feel better for getting that off your chest, dear, with or without an invigorating dose of Rhus Tox 30C!
If you’d read any more of this blog, you would know that I speak as someone who (1) is a former user of homeopathy; (2) has read Hahnemann’s Organon and (3) has read a great many reports of clinical trials involving homeopathy. So your suggestion that I do my “own research on homeopathy” is unwarranted. I’ve done my own research, thank you, and I am satisfied that homeopathy is a crock.
It is indeed easy to “pull out bits and pieces of wacko information”. This is because everything said about homeopathy by homeoquacks is wacko and your two posts are an unenviable addition to the dung heap of misinformation.
It is even easier to do as you have done and make unsupported claims that “so much well-documented evidence proving how much more successful homeopathy has been over conventional medicine” but without posting a single link or reference to any of this evidence. The reason for that, of course, is because this evidence doesn’t exist outside of your imagination. If it existed it would be widely accessible – on Cochrane, for example. But there is nothing on Cochrane that conclusively demonstrates that any homeopathic remedy works for anything. There is plenty, however, that demonstrates it works no better than placebo.
“Real scientists” don’t rely on personal experience or other people’s anecdotes. They test things properly. If you seriously think popularity or the fact that a “remedy” has been around for a couple of hundred years is proof of efficacy, then you need to do some work on your critical thinking skills. Hint: Think about how many years bloodletting was the most commonly used medical practice. Nearly 2,000 years. Imagine that – nearly 2,000 years of thinking that it worked when it didn’t. Go figure.
Similarly, on your point about doctors and vets, why do the overwhelming majority of doctors and vets reject homeopathy? And don’t bother ranting about money-hungry doctors. The author of this blog lives in one of those civilised countries – there’s a clue in the blog’s name – that has a publicly funded health service. We don’t have to pay doctors to be treated but we do have to pay homeoquacks if we want to avail ourselves of their (dis)services. Our doctors are not particularly well-paid and it’s the homeopaths who are the money-hungry charlatans.
Homeopathy did NOT cure bubonic plague, Spanish flu or cholera. If you believe this you are, frankly, stupid. If you believe homeopathy can cure anything serious, then you are also dangerous. And your comment about people who write negatively about homeopathy being paid by Big Pharma makes you sound a bit nuts as well.
By the way, do not use my blog to post dangerous misinformation about health matters. I’ve removed the offending article.
Excellent article, skep. I didn’t know anything about homeopathy before. I can’t believe people pay money for this stuff. LOL at the videos!
Erika, I am not “naive and unlearned”. I would be naive to accept your statements without proof and you don’t provide proof. Telling me to try something myself would not be scientific proof. If I recovered after taking the remedy that would not prove a causal link. This is very simple question of logic and yet it obviously escapes you.
You don’t actually address anything in the article apart from saying “who cares how it works?” You are asking people to believe in unproven magic.
It seems you’re the one who’s naive and unlearned.
“The next time you feel achy, be a “real scientist” and take a dose or 2 of Rhus Tox 30C and see what happens. Who cares how it works? The point is that it most certainly does work…”
You don’t accept that part of homeopathic philosophy that claims it treats the whole person by providing individualised remedies, then?
Pilch wrote: “And your qualification for diagnosing someone as having at least a borderline-personality order is? Do you think being abusive in this way is going to make anyone take what you have to say seriously? ”
If I am not mistaken, Skepticat referred to any medical professional who supports or believes in homeopathy in any way as “delusional.” He is clearly abusive in his commentaries of anyone who believes in homeopathy.
Skepticat wrote: ..”It is even easier to do as you have done and make unsupported claims that “so much well-documented evidence proving how much more successful homeopathy has been over conventional medicine” but without posting a single link or reference to any of this evidence. The reason for that, of course, is because this evidence doesn’t exist outside of your imagination.”
En contrare. Once again you are wrong. I actually had several links to post documenting the efficacy of homeopathy. I was not sure if I needed to get permission to post links here, so I didn’t. However, HELLO…ANYBODY HOME? GIVEN the fact that you deleted the one article that I did post, you would not have allowed any links that I posted to remain here. You don’t want anybody to know that homeopathy is not the quackery that you want them to believe it is. Clearly, you don’t want anyone to know how wrong you are.
You have to have something to blog about and you chose homeopathy because you evidently did not have a successful experience with it. IF you did, in fact, do much research on homeopathy, you would know that a remedy will not work if it’s not the right remedy for that person or condition.
The documentation is by no means in my imagination, Skep. I didn’t erase the links from the Internet. They are there at this very moment for anyone to read for themselves. No one has to take my word for it. I wouldn’t expect them to.
You are the one who is posting misinformation, not I. You won’t allow me to post well-documented information.
What a pity that there are so many closed minds here. You are promoting “endarkenment.”
If it is possible, you need to put your ego in a box for a minute and step back and take a look at yourself and what you are writing. You said you tried homeopathy and it didn’t work. How many people do you suppose have taken a pharmaceutical prescribed by a doctor and it didn’t work? How many people have had surgery that didn’t work? How many people have had their gallbladder removed only to have the identical preoperative symptoms return? Thousands. How many people are prescribed the wrong medication by a M.D.? How many doctors are over-medicating people? Thousands. I am a medical transcriptionist, so I know what I am talking about. It would boggle your mind to see what our elderly people are being prescribed, for instance. Just yesterday I transcribed a report by a psychiatrist who was dictating on a 42-year-old woman being admitted for depression and suicidal ideation. The patient was a R.N. (registered nurse) who had lost her job. She was taking so many prescribed medications that she slept most of the day. She wasn’t awake long enough to even look for a job. Fortunately, this physician adjusted her medications after clcearly seeing that she was on too many.
You are blasting chiropractic on this blog, as well, based on the experiences of those who were harmed by it. If you do the proper research you will find that more people are ruined by unnecessary or improperly performed back surgery than they are by chiropractors. Chiropractic has saved me thousands of dollars, prevented me from losing time from work from neck and back problems, and saved me from a bleeding ulcer which is caused by NSAIDS (nonsteroidal ant-inflammatory drugs) which are prescribed for millions of Americans with musculoskeletal complaints of all kinds. This, too, is well-documented on the Internet so I won’t post it here only for you to delete it.
The worst thing that will happen with a homeopathic remedy is it won’t work and when that does happen, which it frequently does, it just means that the correct remedy was not chosen. That’s no different than prescribed drugs, Skep. Sometimes they don’t work, either. Why don’t you be balanced and write a 5-page blog article about them?
Do you have any idea how inexpensive homeopathic remedies are? I can buy a Boericke & Tafel with 100 soft tabs in it for $6 or less. Compare that to synthetic drugs. Sometimes I don’t choose the right remedy, either. So what. I just go back and do more research and find the right one.
While we’re on the subject of research, why don’t some of you research Big Pharma. Big Pharma is big business and they don’t want anyone to get savvy about homeopathy or any other natural remedies. They count on blind obedience to conventional medicine to keep funneling billions right to their doorstep. If you all want to play that game, be my guest.
I am not here to offend anyone and I apologize if I have. On the other hand, I am deeply offended by the obvious close-minded of this group. My only purpose is to defend something very valuable to me personally, as well as to humanity, and to try to inject a some truth here on the subject of homeopathy.
Skepticat does not want any truth injected here. He deleted quite a good article that I posted, then turned around and criticized me for not offering any links to support my position.
If that doesn’t speak volumes, I don’t know what does.
By all means, carry on. Pledge your full allegiance to conventional medicine. It’s no skin off my nose. It’s your life and your money. You are the ones losing out, not me. I already know the benefits of homeopathy. I discovered it 26 years ago and have used it numerous times on myself and my animals with great success and I will continue to do so.
You are all not harming anyone but yourselves with your negative, combative attitudes. As I said, the documentation is out there on the Internet and available to anyone and everyone. Skepticat will not allow me to post links to that documentation here.
You didn’t answer my question, Erika. Skepticat has provided very strong arguments and good evidence that anyone who believes in homeopathy is deluded in their belief. Arguments which you have made no attempt to counter. Instead you have diagnosed her as someone who “obviously has at the very least a borderline personality disorder”. I am asking you on what authority you are saying this and the answer is obviously “none”.
Instead of countering her argument, you fling empty abuse and accompany it with the equally empty argumentum ad populam.
Homeopathy is a method of treatment that supports the body’s own healing mechanism. It ‘s based on the law of similars “like cures like”. A homeopathic remedy is an extremely pure, natural substance that has been diluted many times. In large quantities these subtances would cause the same symptoms the patient is trying to cure. In small, pure, diluted doses, it is not only safe and free from side effects, but it will trigger the body to heal itself. Example: Allium cepa is a remedy that is used for watery eyes and runny nose, it is created from red onion. If you’ve cut open a red onion you’ll notice the same symptoms. When the body creates a similar “symptom picture” to Allium cepa and you take a dose of Allium cepa, it activates the body to go about the process of stopping watery eyes and a runny nose. (www.lausci.com/Lau3.htm)
Homeopathy is not “unproven magic” and I am not asking anyone to believe in anything. Don’t take my word for it. There is more than ample documentation on the Internet about the efficacy of homeopathy. I posted quite an interesting article about the Royal Family’s use of homeopathy and it included a lot of other historical information about the success of homeopathy in the last 200 years in treating various plagues both here and in Europe. Skepticat deleted that article.
This blog caught my attention and I felt the need to interject the truth about homeopathy. Isn’t that what we all want? Truth? Aren’t we all sick and tired of being deceived?
I have used homeopathy and it works. I think at last count 500 million Americans use it. There is a National Center for Homeopathy in Alexandria, Virginia. If homeopathy were quackery, why would such a place exist? Why would M.D.s become homeopaths if it didn’t work? Why would vets use it?
The argument against homeopathy is that it’s mechanism cannot be detected under a microscope. That is because the “active ingredient,” for lack of a better descripition, is so infinitesimal that it cannot be seen under a microscope. That does not reduce it’s efficacy. No one knows how prayer works, either, but it does. No one can see gravity but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
As I said in my other post, the worst thing that can happen with a homeopathic remedy is that it won’t work. That just means that the proper remedy was not chosen. It’s no different from aspirin not working for a migraine or Milk of Magnesia not working for anemia. However, when the proper remedy is chosen, the effects are pretty much instantaneous and there are no side effects.
I promise you, I would not be defending homeopathy if it’s value had not already been proven and if I had not used them myself. I am strictly an amateur homeopath but I have used these remedies for aches and pains, sinus symptoms, diarrhea, and other minor ailments. They absolutely work and they work quickly.
This is the 21st Century. People need to trash old ways of thinking, biases, misinformation, and seek the truth. I’m not looking for followers. I could care less about that. I just try to correct misinformation when I come across it.
“Similarly, on your point about doctors and vets, why do the overwhelming majority of doctors and vets reject homeopathy?”
Answer: For the same reason that the majority of doctors and vets don’t know squat about nutrition, vitamins and mineral supplements. They were not taught about these things in medical school.
“The author of this blog lives in one of those civilised countries –there’s a clue in the blog’s name – that has a publicly funded health service. We don’t have to pay doctors to be treated but we do have to pay homeoquacks if we want to avail ourselves of their (dis)services. Our doctors are not particularly well-paid and it’s the homeopaths who are the money-hungry charlatans.”
Okay. That explains a lot. I live in the USA and our medical/health system is apparently quite different from the UK. Our doctors are influenced in large part by the pharmaceutical industry who try to sway doctors with vacation trips, bonuses, etc. The cost for an office visit here is probably now between $75 and $100, depending on the doctor. Woe be unto those without insurance and drug coverage. I am fortunate to have a job and insurance and drug coverage. Fortunately, I seldom have need of a doctor. I recently began having trouble with pain from arthritis and bursitis and was fortunate enough to find a natural remedy that successfully rids me of pain (Hycel). Otherwise, I would have to take an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) and they are very dangerous. It is well known that they cause bleeding ulcers. Many drugs have serious side effects which is why I prefer to seek out natural remedies.
In my state, it is illegal for a professional homeopath to practice. However, it is perfectly legal for me to self-treat with homeopathy just as it is legal to self-treat with aspirin and other over-the-counter products. There is plenty of educational material available on homeopathy for me to self-treat with some degree of accuracy. I do understand that professional homeopaths tend to be expensive, so even if one were available in my state, I would probably avoid them as much as I avoid doctors and just educate and treat myself. In my opinion, all medical profesionals are in the business to make money. Just my opinion.
I was raised by my grandmother who also avoided doctors as much as possible, except for assistance in childbirth, so I’m sure I inherited her aversion to doctors. However, I also transcribe medical records for a living, so I know how much drugs are over-prescribed in this country and the dangers of synthetic prescription drugs.
Erica said: “En contrare. [sic] Once again you are wrong. I actually had several links to post documenting the efficacy of homeopathy. I was not sure if I needed to get permission to post links here, so I didn’t. However, HELLO…ANYBODY HOME?”
Au contraire. You were asked to provide evidence: the article you provided was simply an ad populum fallacy and was by no stretch of the imagination evidence.
There’s no need to tell us about the ‘law’ of similars and other false notions. We all know what homeopathy is ‘based’ on: a tissue of pre-scientific woo nonsense ideas that were dreamed up. You may call it a ‘method of treatment’, but that tells us zero about its efficacy.
Erika said: “The argument against homeopathy is that it’s [sic] mechanism cannot be detected under a microscope.”
No. The argument against homeopathy is that it has never been shown to work any better than placebo in trials where the bias of the people involved has been properly controlled.
I’m sorry you have to live in a country where universal health care is not available to all, free at the point of use and where medical insurance companies have shareholders to satisfy. But it seems like a country with as much woo and ill-informed notions of science and medicine as anywhere else.
Personal anecdote is fine and I’m glad you think it works for you. But do you not think it wise to test homeopathy before advocating it for others? How do you know it works and has no side effects? Because you, personally, have seen is with your own eyes? Or you and your friends? What if a particular potion only worked for people with brown hair and was actually very dangerous to those with ginger hair? (Or do you just know that could never happen?)
Because we are talking about people’s health, would you agree that it would be very good idea indeed to do trials on it to verify your personal conclusions? Since I’m sure you’ll understand the need to remove any bias from the trials, you’ll see the need to make these trials blinded, randomised and controlled, won’t you?
Oh! Many of these kinds of trials have already been done and guess what they found? Homeopathy does not work any better than placebo.
Now, as you will know if you know anything at all about science, if new information came along that shows that homeopathy does, indeed, work (for something other than a self-limiting condition, of course), then, assuming the trials stand up to scrutiny (ie they are well designed) and can be repeated, then publishers will start wringing their hands in glee as text books are re-written. And we can close down the National Health Service and your medical insurance companies will go to the wall.
However, despite having an open mind, I won’t be holding my breath.
If you are so convinced of the efficacy of homeopathy – and have the time and inclination – perhaps you’d like to take up a challenge: A Simple Challenge to Homeopaths.
Erika said: “This is the 21st Century. People need to trash old ways of thinking, biases, misinformation, and seek the truth.”
Oh! The irony!
“I think at last count 500 million Americans use it.”
The population of the US is about 300 million.
See http://nccam.nih.gov/news/camstats/costs/nhsrn18.pdf – it suggests that in 2007 2.3% of adults over 18 consulted a practitioner.
The prevalence of homeopathy use is a lot lower than you suggest.
LOL! Thanks, warhelmet, I missed that howler!
However, the numbers who use it are totally irrelevant: it is an ad populum fallacy and make no difference to the lack of a proper evidence base for homeopathy.
At best, it is an indicator that something might be worth investigating properly. And lo! it has been investigated properly and found to ‘work’ no better than placebo.
Your defence for not providing any links or references – that “you did not know whether you would be allowed to post them” – would be a bit more convincing if you had not already cut and pasted an entire article into one of your comments. You thought I might not allow a reference but that I would allow a whole article?
The article itself was just an opinion piece the like of which there are thousands on the web and containing the same fallacious arguments and lies. I don’t “have to have something to blog about”, as you put it. I chose to start a blog precisely in order to expose the dangerous nonsense contained in articles like the one you posted.
You have no grounds whatsoever for claiming that I would not allow you to post links or references. In fact, that is exactly what I expect someone making the claims you are making to do. Let’s have evidence, not anecdotes, fallacies and opinions.
And while you’re about it, how about addressing some of the question raised in this and my other articles about homeopathy?
1. You cite the (non-existent) ‘Law of Similars’, the idea that “like cures like”. This is usually explained as the notion that something that produces a given set of symptoms will treat those same symptoms if given in small enough doses. An example frequently given is using a microscopic dose of onion to treat streaming eyes from a cold or allergy.
I link to the list of ingredients used by a large Homeopathic remedy manufacturer. Let’s take an easy one: chocolate. We all know what chocolate is. But what “symptoms” does chocolate produce? What is chocolate “like” that it could possibly treat?
2. You spin the classic nonsense about “small, pure, diluted doses”. As I explain in the article, recommended homeopathic dilutions mean there isn’t a single molecule of the substance left by the time these remedies hit the shops. Are you denying this? (If not, then do not describe the doses as merely “small” because that is dishonest.)
3. Why does the water in which the substance is diluted remember only the substance and not everything else that’s been in that water?
4. Can you actually see the problem with the “provings”, described in some detail in my post, or do you think this is a sound scientific way to collect evidence of efficacy?
5. You write, “IF you did, in fact, do much research on homeopathy, you would know that a remedy will not work if it’s not the right remedy for that person or condition.” Of course I know that remedies are supposedly “individualised” and I wrote about it in the article above. (Did you actually read the article? Evidently not.) So how do you square this idea that homeopathic remedies are individualised with your prescribing “a dose or 2 of Rhus Tox 30C” to someone you know nothing about – you even get my sex wrong – next time I feel “achy”? Jack already asked this but you ignored him.
6. You claim the remedies “trigger the body to heal itself”. Please explain exactly how this happens. What is the physiological process involved?
Whoops, sorry. I forgot you’ve already admitted you don’t have a clue how homeopathy supposedly works. “Who cares how it works?”. That’s what you said, isn’t it?
And I’m afraid that’s why you are not going to be taken seriously by anyone with basic scientific literacy. That and your fondness for anecdotes and ad populum argument. Wow – even the Royal Family uses it, so it must work! Honestly, Erika!
You think the worst that can happen is that a homeopathic remedy won’t work? Wrong! The worst that has already happened time and time again is that people rely on homeopathic remedies thinking they do work and not getting the evidence-based treatment that would save their lives. I have given (or linked to) many instances of people dying because of their belief in homeopathy – or because of their parents’ belief; surely even you know about baby Gloria Thomas?
That is why promoting homeopathy is dangerous and that is why I write about it on this blog: to protect people like Gloria Thomas from people like you. It’s too late for her. Because her parents relied on homeopathy instead of getting her proper treatment, she died at nine months old. Doesn’t that bother you even a little bit?
Your comments on orthodox medicine are irrelevant. Whatever may be the problems of orthodox medicine, it does not prove that homeopathy is effective. In any event, I can’t do anything about orthodox medicine. I can do something about the misinformation about quackery being spread by ignoramuses.
I realise that being a medical transcriber isn’t the most cerebrally demanding of occupations but do you have enough brain cells to consider why doctors are now able to save the lives of people with infectious diseases and cancer. Hint: it’s nothing to do with homeopathy.
You need to check the meaning of ‘closed-minded’. It does not mean people who question everything and carefully consider all the available evidence. It means people who close their minds to the evidence and continue to believe what they want to believe, in spite of the dearth of evidence.
It means people like you.
Ah! The cure I’ve been seeking for my acne: Personalised homeopathic treatment. A snip at €855 (approx 1,300 USD). Zell Arazim Homeopathic Pharmacy.
I just spent a laborious 2 hours posting a lengthy reply. I submitted it and it was “discarded.” Is that a hint?
Skepticat does not want any factual documentation posted here about homeopathy. I attempted 3 times to submit a lengthy post containing links, as he invited me to do, and my post was discarded all 3 times. It is pretty clear that truth is not welcome here and I have better things to do than argue with close-minded people.
I don’t know why your post was discarded. It didn’t go into the moderation queue or spam bin. If the post is very long, perhaps try posting it in shorter chunks. I don’t see any way to change the comments settings.
And stop calling me closed-minded, you ignorant snot.
Utter nonsense, Erika. That is typical sloppy, irrational AltMed thinking: something went wrong with my post therefore Skepticat doesn’t want to hear the ‘truth’.
I hope you are able to find (you did save a draft, didn’t you?) or re-write the post you allegedly lost and answer at least some of the criticisms of your previous posts.
Here’s a suggestion: If your post gets discarded again, email it to me at [email protected] and I’ll post it here on your behalf.
Can’t say fairer than that. Let’s have it.
I looked on the website you posted for the acne remedy. That is a completely absurd price. I think I understand better where all of you are coming from with your disgust for homeopathy. Beleve me, I share your disgust for anyone taking advantage in this manner. I assure you that the same thing occurs in conventional medicine, as well as veterinary medicine in the USA which is why I became interested in homeopathy and other natural healing remedies. I could easily be victimized by orthodox medicine here if I adopted the same pledge of allegiance to doctors as most of the population does in the United States. However, I choose not to be a doctor-worshipper and if that makes me an ignoramus, so be it.
The high cost of that potion is certainly disgusting, but it would be equally so regardless of what they charged.
Since there is no good evidence that any homeopathic potion has any effect over placebo, they are conning the public.
This same ‘clinic’ also claims to have a potion that prevents and cures HiN1 swine flu. That is vastly more dangerous and misleading that an acne cure and is wholly irresponsible. I have reported them to our Trading Standards for them to take action under the Consumer Protection Act.
Fortunately, we have laws to prevent against the worst excesses of woo merchants.
Of course, I have no experience of the market-driven private health insurance system you have in the US (and neither would I want to), so I can’t comment on what pressures your MDs may be under. However, the picture painted by many AltMeds is that they are all in the pocket of Big Pharma and have no interest whatsoever in the health of their patients, just in lining their own pockets. That has to be an absurd, ignorant and dangerous lie.
Choosing “not to be a doctor-worshipper” doesn’t make you an ignoramus and none of us are doctor-worshippers, so give it a rest because it’s getting boring.
What makes you an ignoramus is your ignorance of basic science and of the mountain of evidence against the therapies you are promoting.
Yes, I saved a copy and I have just emailed it to Skepticat. I have been away from the computer all day and just saw “her” invitation to email it. Okay, I probably sounded a bit foolish to say that Skepticat didn’t want to hear the truth but, begging your pardon, I believe I have just as much right to my paranoia in that regard (given the fact that “she” deleted my original article) as all of you have to your “attack dog” attitudes to everything I have posted thus far. On the other hand, I was ridiculously naive to expect otherwise, given the purpose of the blog. I should not have expected skeptics to be warm and inviting unless I was in agreement with everybody on this topic.
In any case, I guess my blog will show up and with any luck you will all give homeopathy at least one shred of a fair shake.
“What makes you an ignoramus is your ignorance of basic science and of the mountain of evidence against the therapies you are promoting.”
It’s a matter of focus. You are focused on the failures and not the successes. There is quite a lot of evidence FOR the efficacy of homepathy but you choose to discount all of it. As I said, it’s too late to try to convince me that it does not work. I have already proved for myself that it does and, unlike you, I believe all the documentation on the success of homeopathy. I am not looking at the hole in the donut like you. You say that homeopaths are overcharging people in UK and not curing anybody. Is someone twisting the arms of people to make them go to a homeopath? If conventionial medicine is so great in UK and does not cost anything, pray tell why would anyone even bother to see a homeopath in the first place?
I have received your email and will post it in a moment under your name but it’s bedtime here so I won’t look at it until tomorrow.
In response to your last one, if you look through this blog you will see I am only rude to commenters who are rude to me first. You started off your very first post with an extremely nasty gratuitous insult to me and to any of my readers who happened to be persuaded by my well-supported posts. In your second post you pasted an entire article and have subsequently made a big issue about the fact that I deleted it. Do you think it’s a perfectly normal and polite thing to do, to paste an entire unsolicited article on someone else’s website? Because I assure it isn’t and any website owner would have done the same so your “paranoia” is uncalled for.
It isn’t a “matter of focus”. It is a matter of evidence. That is what I have spent many, many hours looking at and examining. That is why I know there is no good scientific evidence for homeopathy and that it can only work a placebo. This is established beyond all reasonable doubt and that is why homeopathy is rejected by most doctors.
Finally, you seem to be missing the point about conventional medicine. I repeat: whatever the rights and wrongs of conventional medicine, it has no bearing on whether or not homeopathy works. And pointing out that homeopathy doesn’t work is not implying that conventional medicine is perfect.
There are several reasons why people in the UK might go to a homeopath. One might be because they’ve tried conventional medicine and it hasn’t helped. Nobody claims that conventional medicine can cure every damn thing! The other reason is that they have been persuaded by the lies and nonsense of people like you to forego conventional medicine and try homeopathy instead. This is when disasters happen and that is why I will continue to expose those disasters on this blog.
Wow. You are all downright rabid about this topic. First of all, I don’t think I referred to your sex in any of my posts. Neither did I say that a remedy “triggers the body to heal itself.” That phrase is actually made in homeopathic writings. I did not make that up myself.
“Your comments on orthodox medicine are irrelevant. Whatever may be the problems of orthodox medicine, it does not prove that homeopathy is effective.”
No, they were not irrelevant, you just didn’t get the point. The comment was not made prove the efficacy of homeopathy. I did not say that orthodox medicine doesn’t work or that we should shut that system down and use only homeopathy.
“You claim the remedies “trigger the body to heal itself”. Please explain exactly how this happens. What is the physiological process involved?”
This is simple biology. The body heals itself all the time even without homeopathy. It’s called “the immune system.” The immune system is designed to recognize an offending organism and produce antibodies which attack the bacteria.
What you are probably asking is how does homeopathy trigger the immune system. I suppose in the same way that a bacteria triggers the immune system.
“I can’t do anything about orthodox medicine. I can do something about the misinformation about quackery being spread by ignoramuses.”
Cuba uses Homeopathy
This is my favorite statement in this article:
“Since Cuba is outcasted by the USA government, they have come to depend on themselves for the making of medicines, health care programs, etc. And since the Cuba is not under the yoke of the international pharmaceutical juggernaut, they are not held back from adopting homeopathy and other alternative medicines wholeheartedly into their national health programmes. ”
Incidentally, I am grateful for this very stimulating (if not frustrating) interaction about homeopathy that prompted me to find this article about Cuba. I was not aware of such a great homeopathic success story that will most certainly be documented in medical journals.
Here is a link to an article that provides a good summary of infectious epidemics during which homeopathic treatment was more effective in saving lives than conventional medicine. These epidemics occurred before penicillin was developed in 1928 by Alexander Fleming.
These epidemics occurred before penicillin was developed in 1928 by Alexander Fleming. http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventors/fleming.htm
Thank God we now have penicillin and thank God you were not there to destroy the sample when Alexander Fleming took note of the mold growing in his petri dish. You would have hyperfocused on the mold, considered it to be dirty, and thrown out the dish. You would never have made the connection of the mold and the destruction of the staph bacteria.
I had not previously heard of the story of Gloria Thomas, so I found that story and read it. Clearly the primary issue in that case was one of very poor parental judgment. Any prudent parent would have sought help either from another homeopath or from conventional medicine. The parent’s judgment was most certainly adversely affected since he was treating his own child and his ego was probably involved, as well, not willing to admit he didn’t know what he was doing, at the risk of killing his own child. Again, I maintain this is not the fault of homeopathy but the faulty judgment of the father.
Choosing the proper homeopathic remedy can sometimes be quite complicated, depending on the ailment. I don’t advocate people trying to treat themselves with homeopathy if they don’t know what they are doing. My statement that the worst thing that can happen with homeopathy is that the chosen remedy will not work. However, I was referring to the safety of the remedies and the absence of side effects (unlike pharmaceuticals), not the judgment or absence of it in the person doing the prescribing.
[irrelevant spam link removed by skepticat]
This above link provides addresses to homeopathic colleges. In your quest to protect the world from this “quackery,” you can write to the respective governments and tell them they need to shut down these dangerous ignoramuses and keep them from killing people. It is no accident that homeopathy has been around for a very long time and I am confident in saying it’s not going to disappear.
Focusing your attention on devouring me on this issue is so immature. It is not up to me to “prove” that homeopathy works. It has already been proven and continues to be proven time and time again. It’s not necessary for me to post every link about it nor would it be appropriate for me to accept your “challenge,” given that I am strictly a lay practitioner and not a professional homeopathic practitioner. It would be a complete waste of time to try to sway you anyway. Your mind is made up. Your cup is full. There is no room for you to learn anything.
I have never nor would I ever pay any outlandish sum of money for a homeopathic remedy such as was listed in the link that Zeno posted. As with anything in this universe, there are people who will take advantage of weaker or gullible souls every chance they get. That particular ad is just one of many examples. Unfortunately, that type of idiocy, as well as the Gloria Thomas story do give homeopathy a very bad name. If I had seen that before I learned anything about homeopathy, I daresay I would have the same attitude as you and the others on your blog. Fortunately, I learned the truth about homeopathy before knowing the ugly side. Everything has an ugly side, you know. It’s up to each individual to use his own judgment and discernment, to be fair and find the other, honest side of a thing.
I just know that I can protect my own health and not bombard my body with synthetic drugs thanks to homeopathy. I don’t have to take a flu shot and hope and pray that I don’t have some bizarre permanent lingering malady from it. (an ever present danger with any and all vaccines) I can, instead, at the first sign of symptoms take a dose or two of a homeopathic remedy and immediately stop it in its tracks and go on with my life instead of miss 7 days of work or, worse yet, go into a hospital. I don’t have to spend $100 to go to the doctor and take a 5 to 10-day course of an antibiotic (with side effects). I can save my money and take a couple of doses of a homeopathic remedy then stop the remedy once the symptoms disappear. I don’t have to use the entire bottle of a remedy to do that. Usually a couple of doses does the trick (3 pellets) and the rest of the bottle will last for several years. I don’t have to pay a $20 co-pay to the doctor. A single remedy costs around $6.00. The European firms of Boiron and Boericke & Tafel sell products online through various links and that is where I purchase single remedies. I do not purchase combination remedies, so I cannot vouch for them.
No, I have not had success with each and every remedy I have used. However, as I said, my education in this is limited. Nevertheless, even my limited education has already saved me a lot of money and I am free to further educate myself as far as I want to take it. There are numerous books available, as well as online courses. There are also forums on the Internet from which I (or anyone) can get help from other users of homeopathy, as well as websites where I could submit my case to a professional homeopath if I so choose.
The point is that homeopathy does work when a person takes the time to read the available educational material (and they are not all expensive books), find out how to use them properly, and not try to cure cancer based on one or two books and remedies. I am not responsible for the few fools and fanatics who will misuse these remedies without knowing what they are doing and I am not going to let a few fools (like Gloria’s father) and horror stories cause me to ignore the wealth of documentation substantiating the efficacy of homeopathy.
I am sorry that you feel as you do about homeopathy and are leaning totally to the negative pole about it without giving any attention or credibility to its value. You are completely ignoring the huge amount of documented success of homeopathy and discounting all of it one fell swoop with one empty reason after anotherl. That’s not very intelligent nor scientific. You would not make a good researcher. You could stand to be a little more fair where homeopathy is concerned. You obviously have a following and they are being robbed because they believe everything you say. You should use your influence more responsibly, in my opinion. Homeopathy does not care about your opinion because you don’t have a leg to stand on. All you have is an opinion. Homeopathy has proof. The ones who choose to discount homeopathy are the ones who are loosing. The rest of us continue to learn and benefit from this amazing discovery.
Thank you for allowing me to post on your blog.
Thank you for your second email and your apology even though it was only for the insult in your original post and says nothing about your continued rudeness.
It appears you think there is more than one person writing as skepticat. There isn’t. It’s just me. I don’t know why you made that comment about referring to my sex. Nobody has made any reference to my sex, so far as I can see, and it isn’t an issue.
Re conventional medicine. You say I’m not getting the point. So what is the point? You have repeatedly raised the subject for no apparent reason. Actually, don’t bother answering. I already know that the reason why quackers keep going on about conventional medicine and Big Pharma is to divert attention away from the lack of scientific evidence for their quackery.
Now to turn to your responses to my six questions, of which I see you have ignored the first five.
Erika said, “What you are probably asking is how does homeopathy trigger the immune system.”
Yes, that’s what I’m asking.
Erika said “I suppose in the same way that a bacteria triggers the immune system.”
Thanks for the link but I asked you for evidence. A link giving an elementary explanation of the immune system is not evidence.
Chocolate is, according to Helios, an ingredient in a homoepathic remedy. Does eating chocolate “trigger the immune system to heal itself”. No. So how can chocolate that’s been diluted by 1 part to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 parts water trigger the immune system to heal itself? For ‘chocolate’ substitute any ingredient used in any homeopthic remedy. Of course, some of these would be poisonous if they weren’t diluted enough. The zinc used in the homeopathic cold remedy zicam, which caused people to lose their sense of smell, is a case in point. Although homeopathic remedies are generally “safe” to use in the sense that, because there is nothing in them, they can’t do any harm provided you don’t rely on them for anything serious, the fact that they are untested and aren’t subject to the same regulations as proper medicine means that bottles of dangerous products labelled homeopathy can end up on the shelves of retail outlets, as happened in this case.
Anyway. What the immune system does is detect pathogens – germs that cause illness – and neutralizes them and it mostly does this without any help. But sometimes it doesn’t and a medical intervention is needed. Thanks to medical science and the discovery of antibiotic meds, for example, we are now able to save millions of lives that would otherwise have been lost. They work by targetting and killing the bacteria that our natural immune systems have failed to protect us from. Thanks to medical science and the discovery of vaccines, we are now able to prevent millions of people getting killer diseases. These work by injecting a bit of severely compromised virus or bacteria in order to stimulate the production of antibodies, which protect us from future infection by that particular virus or other biological agent.
So how does a homeopathic remedy work on the immune system? The answer is that it doesn’t. This widely promoted idea that homeopathic remedies work by “stimulating the immune system” is something you appear to have accepted without question. There is a condition known as “being so open-minded that your brains fall out” and you are evidently a sufferer.
I ask you for evidence and you bring me a link to a blog by a retired ice-skater containing an article about a conference of homeopaths claiming some homeopathic mass treatment took place in Cuba. The homeopaths claim, “The results are incontrovertible and undeniable even by the most rabid of anti-homeopaths,” which is exactly what homeopaths would say, of course. Fortunately, we don’t have to take their word for it because this alleged mass treatment has been scientifically verified hasn’t it? We can read all about it in a medical journal, can’t we? No, it hasn’t and no, we can’t.
I’m really not interested in opinion, Erika. The opinion that this alleged miracle “will most certainly be documented in medical journals” is not evidence that it actually took place. For pity’s sake, lass, how gullible can you be?
Very gullible, it seems, because you seriously believe that homeopathy cured infectious diseases. Let me explain something to you: As I say in my original article above, once upon time orthodox medicine was little better than witchcraft. In fact, in some ways it was worse. I’ve already mentioned that bloodletting was a major medical intervention for 2,000 years. Imagine! They actually thought they could prevent and cure serious illness by draining people of a large quantity of their blood! Guess what often happened when they did that to a seriously ill person? They died, right? Just like poor George Washington. People who went to homeopathic hospitals were not subjected to bloodletting. They were given useless remedies. They had NOTHING that cured “diphtheria, scarlet fever, cholera, malaria and yellow fever”. Many, many people in homeopathic hospitals died. The reason more died in conventional hospitals is because they weren’t subjected to barbaric pre-science treatments like bloodletting that helped to kill them! It would be surprising if anyone survived that. Got it now?
The rest of your post (and email) is, frankly, an inane rant and I can’t be bothered with it. You keep saying that the evidence for homeopathy is well documented but you have not provided a single reference of proper scientific evidence. I am aware of what scientific evidence exists for homeopathy and you, evidently, are not. You rely solely on anecdote and ad populum arguments. “Millions of people use it,” is not an argument. If you seriously want to get to grips with the arguments, look up ‘post hoc ergo procter hoc’; read some serious books by scientists about placebo, about alternative medicine and about the nature of scientific evidence.
You obviously don’t believe how widely I have researched this subject and, frankly, I don’t care. It’s obvious to me that you haven’t researched it properly yourself and, even if you did, you don’t have the basic scientific education that would enable you to evaluate information critically instead of swallowing everything you read, hook, line and sinker.
Finally, Erika said, “Focusing your attention on devouring me on this issue is so immature. It is not up to me to “prove” that homeopathy works.”
Excuse me! I did not invite you to come to my blog and start promoting quackery. If you think I’m going to let you talk crap about something I feel passionately about and not challenge what you say, you can think again. If you are going to claim that homeopathy works, then it is up to you to provide sound evidence that it does. You can’t do that, because it doesn’t exist and that’s all there is to it. You had your chance and you blew it. Now go away.
There are none so blind as those who will not see.
You know nothing whatsoever about homeopathy. All you have is an ego and many idiotic opinions that do not reflect the truths of the matter. Laughable and not worthy of debate. Lady, you are completely out of your mind.
Also, I would like to know why you removed an article posted by Erika Alisuag dated the 06/11/09? Afraid people will see through your blatant lies? You cannot bare it can you? When people ‘hit the nail on the head’ as it were, you have to remove the article? When push comes to shove, you have no leg to stand on. You have to rely on gullible and uninformed people to agree with the rubbish you are saying. You can appeal to the ignorant perhaps (unfortunately) but you will have a much harder time trying to convince those who actually use their brains and have intelligence.
Calm down, Lisa. As I stated quite clearly to Erika (see above) the reason I removed the article was because it contained dangerous misinformation and I will not have my hospitality abused in this way. As it is abundantly clear, anybody is welcome to post here and include in their post, links to articles on other sites, so I’m afraid your accusations that I “cannot bare (sic) it” and “have no leg to stand on” don’t stand up to scrutiny any better than the worthless cult therapy that, I note, you make no attempt to defend. Much easier just to sling abuse and run away,eh? 😉
Lisa, when I read comments like yours I have to wonder why those ranting that some blogger’s article offers nothing but their opinion themselves don’t have anything else to offer.
What makes you think Skepticat wants to convince people like you? And how do you decide who’s intelligent? Let me guess:
embracing homeopathy = intelligent
asking for evidence and not accepting anecdote = gullible egghead
Oh, I almost forgot: Evidence or GTFO!
Love your timing, Vicky!
Anytime I see an article this shrill, I know the author is shilling for someone, and in this case I think it may be the pharmaceutical industry. Have you ever watched a commercial for one of their pills and actually LISTENED to their list of possible side effects that they mutter quickly while trying to distract you with pretty pleasing pictures? It’s poison they’re pushing, not medicine.
Oh, now I’m just going to got and post it EVERYWHERE. 😀
Every time I see a comment that ignores all of the points I make in an article but just calls me a big pharma shill instead, I know the author is a moron.
So now we’re quits.