Freedom To Choose

Posted on December 11, 2007. Filed under: Freedom to Choose | Tags: , , , , , , |

Over the past several years, I have seen hundreds of lives changed in a profoundly positive way by homeopathy. As I read and re-read the posts on many blogs both pro and con homeopathy, what strikes me as most grave is that the anti-homeopathy groups want to limit consumer’s health care choices. They accuse homeopathy of being “unscientific” and therefore lacking any efficacy to facilitate good health. Ben Goldacre and the “Badscience” bloggers are not interested in promoting effective healthcare. Their goal centers on a malicious denigration of homeopathic treatment that leads ultimately to control- their control– of healthcare choices for all of us. They attempt to convince us that because they cannot understand how homeopathy works, that it does not work. They tell us that our ailments cannot be cured by homeopathy, that we are simply fooling ourselves that homeopathic treatment has healed our ills. They would have us believe that the thousands upon thousands of us who have experienced the value of homeopathy have not been cured- simply because they cannot understand how we could be.

As these enemies of homeopathy demand that homeopaths cease using the word “cure” (a word most allopaths are either unfamiliar or very uncomfortable with), they smugly dismiss the suffering of millions at the hands of allopathic medicine and pharmaceuticals as a “necessary evil”. Unlike many prescription medications, homeopathy does NO harm, it does not rape the earth of its natural resources, it does not kill or test on animals, and it does not test on unsuspecting human subjects. No one has ever died from a side effect of a homeopathic remedy. Homeopaths do not believe it is acceptable for anyone to suffer unreasonably for the sake of science and the promotion of a medical industry. In fact this is the credo that homeopaths adhere to:

“The physician’s high and only mission is to restore the sick to health, to cure, as it is termed. The highest ideal of cure is rapid, gentle and permanent restoration of the health, or removal and annihilation of the disease in its whole extent, in the shortest, most reliable, and most harmless way, on easily comprehensible principles.”

On the blog site, you will find the following statistic: homeopathy industry has seen exceptional growth across the globe. The size of the global industry has gone beyond Rs 135 billion and it’s growing at around 25% per annum. At Rs 45 billion, France has the largest homeopathy industry in the world. This begs the question, why are so many people turning to homeopathy? Either they are tired of the cold, disjointed and often ineffective allopathic medical machine (likely) or they have found a better way to maintain their health (more likely) without the risk of dangerous, sometimes lethal side effects. With an impressively shallow insolence, Ben Goldacre, Andy Lewis, Gimpy and the “Badscience” crew have labeled all of us seeking or receiving homeopathic treatment as “stupid nitwits”.  As if clinging to the mainstream medical system that creates such massive collateral damage is intelligent. Our choices of medical treatment should be our own- not governed by a few who dare to suggest that they have the exalted ability to tell us what is and deny the reality of homeopathic success before them. Simply put, homeopathy works- without causing harm. It will keep right on working whether these “scientists” admit it or understand it-or not. Just ask the millions of who have experienced homeopathy first hand!!   

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36 Responses to “Freedom To Choose”

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You make an excellent point. My healthcare is my business and I am willing and able to take responsibility for it. Under no circumstances am I willing to allow some misguided boobs to force their dark age mental processes on me. Grow up Badscience boys. Go clean up your own room.

What a great post. Finally showing that millions have used homeopathy and millions more will use homeopathy. Why should we be under the massive fraud that modern science has cured every human ill.

Where is that happening. Not in my neighbourhood. So thank you again for your post.

I’ve been using homeopathy for over 30 years and only have great things to say about my experience with it and my family’s experience with it. Such a profound and wonderful healing art.

Good luck in your endevours to help humankind and not destroy the health of the world starting with the UK like bad science pharmacists want to do.

Lots of people believe in astrology too. They may not be stupid nitwits, but they are misinformed. I don’t fall for that type of argument.

Nobody is trying to take away the right for you or anyone else to seek whatever ‘treatment’ you choose. Within the law, of course – in some places people believe that sex with young virgins will cure AIDS, and I’d draw the line at that.

Do you administer homeopathy, or are you merely a satisfied customer?

As another 30 year homeopathic patient, I appreciate Good Science’s hard- hitting words. It’s really hard to argue with a system I have watched cure me and my family and subsequently, my friends,of serious chronic medical conditions. We resorted to homeopathy when all else conventional – and non- conventional failed to help us. These cures- yes,cures! have been achieved in the gentlest of fashions. It is time the world became more aware of this simple, elegant, and life – affirming therapy.
Evening person, Gimpy, Goldacre and others – you have no idea what you are talking about.

Thanks for posting this. I will be looking into it fairly quickly as I have a relative that may be going through some rough times due to certain medical techniques soon. I don’t want to steal thunder here with this link to Wiki. Just want to help out.
For those of you that don’t know what it is, This Wiki may help with the history of homeopathy.

Great post Goodscience! Exactly the points that need to be made.

What I find very interesting too is that few GPs and others working directly face to face with the sick are as dismissive of homeopathy as these so-called ‘sceptics’. It appears that many of them are either academic scientists working in highly controlled conditions (which simply aren’t replicable or applicable in the consulting room or hospital ward) or hangers-on who seem to think Avogadro is the alpha and omega of bioactive interventions.

Their religious belief in the illusion of deterministic predictability is rather touching — as Goldacre says “Evidence-based medicine is beautiful, elegant, clever and, most of all, important. It is how we know what will kill or cure you. These are biblical themes…” Indeed. Shame it never quite works out like the theory says it should in practice. There are huge issues with trial methodology even in conventional circles, which are frequently discussed and examined in many of the journals. For Goldacre to claim that some vast chasm exists between homeopathic and conventional trials is disingenuous in the extreme, particularly considering even Shang et al found almost twice the number of high quality homeopathy trials (out of a total of 200 or so) as they did conventional ones (out of a total of around 350,000).

Check these homeopathic studies on Laughings blog……..

Thank you for the reference. You summarise the situation succinctly and elegantly.
It is disturbing how little qualified our critics are: it turns out that one (Gimpy of gimpyblog) has a couple of first aid certificates and has ‘a little training in science and I know how to read scientific papers and appraise evidence’ (comments on ‘Faculty of Homeopaths are just as silly as Society of Homeopaths)

HI I would appreciate it if you could pop over to my blog and tell me where I get it wrong. Also, I should clarify my qualifications a little, I also have a several Lifeguarding qualifications (expired) and a couple of Scout badges as well as the aforementioned St John’s ambulance first aid certificates. I don’t really see how this affects my ability to comment though. Perhaps you could explain why you think I am so ill equipped to criticise homeopathy.

Yes it is about freedom to choose. Thank you for such a great column! I have been using homeopathy for over 20 years with great success for everything from allergies to emotional trauma. My family and friends have seen the effects of my treatment and have successfully tried it themselves with great results.

We all turned to homeopathy because conventional medicine did not work for our ailments. And in a friend’s case of irritable bowel (IBS)– he had been on allopathic medication for 5 years with horrible side affects. Yet after homeopathic treatment he does not have IBS or the side effects from the medication.

It is as simple as that.

I have never had a return of my allergies (ineffectively treated for many years with a steroid)after homeopathic treatment. Is that a cure? Yes it is.

I don’t know why some people need to know how everything works before they will experience it. There are a lot of things we experience that we don’t know how it works, e.g. aspirin. Yet people take them without question knowing they will help their pain.

True scientists say we don’t know why certain things work– this is one of the reasons why there is scientific research- to try to discover why. But we still experience them and try them, without question. This same attitude should be afforded to homeopathy. Why? Because there are many many cases of its efficacy.Just because someone doesn’t understand it doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

Has anyone at all tried to restrict homeopaths from practicing, or from their patients from seeing them? I’m not aware of any party that has attempted to limit this freedom of choice. Even Ben Goldacre, a critic of homeopathy, has stated clearly that: “…homoeopathy can still be clinically useful.” This was written in an article entitled ‘Benefits and risks of homoeopathy’.

[the article is available here, its free if you register:

The debate about homeopathy concerns whether taxpayers money should fund it. In that context people do not have the right to whatever healthcare they wish. Money and resources are not infinite and very difficult choices have to be made. And those choices have to be made on the basis of the available evidence.

“As these enemies of homeopathy demand that homeopaths cease using the word ‘cure'”

Sorry to sound like a stuck record, but its the Society of Homeopaths that makes that demand, as part of its Code of Ethics (reference in the previous post).

The Society of Homeopaths can hardly be described as an enemy of homeopathy. If you have a problem with the SoH determining that using words like ‘cure’ is unethical, you really should take it up with them.

The Society of Homeopaths can hardly be described as an enemy of homeopathy. If you have a problem with the SoH determining that using words like ‘cure’ is unethical, you really should take it up with them.

Or perhaps take it up with NASH, of which goodscience is a member. I’m still waiting for an explanation of why I am not equipped to criticise homeopathy.

Homeopathy seems to inflate the potential benefits of therapy. Allopathy presents its treatments and interventions is percentages, risk vs benefits. I just think that there needs to be more assurances of safety. There should not be limitations on patient choice.

Part of the problem here is that what homeopaths and conventional people mean by “cure” are different, although they both involve people getting better. We talk about people being cured, not diseases being cured. If that doesn’t make sense to you, then you don’t understand homeopathy or what holistic treatment means.

On another subject, health freedom and patient empowerment are very important to the homeopaths I know. People deserve to be able to make choices they are content with–it’s their body–whatever the outcome. Putting aside science for a minute, that is a *fundamental* freedom. When you over-focus on (so-called) evidence based medicine, you can lose sight of the basic rights of the patient as a human being. The patient is what matters here, not adherence to any system, including homeopathy.

Also, even if you feel one way, it’s nice to have alternatives as a backup. Don’t you know the saying about not putting all your eggs in one basket? Or not burning all your bridges behind you? Maybe the day will come when your favorite method is ineffective and you might be glad the alternatives were not driven away.

Woo woo – it might be an idea if homeopaths were to coin an alternative word to cure. That might remove some of the confusion.

Woo woo & Goodscience – I think that we can simplify the discussion on rights by splitting up the issue a bit.

I assume that we agree on a couple of points regarding rights.

First, adult patients of sound mind have a right to give, or withhold, informed consent to any medical treatment. Obviously, child patients or people of unsound mind pose profound ethical dilemmas. But I presume that you accept that a six month old child or someone in a coma should be treated even though they can’t offer informed consent.

Second, in general people have the right to spend their own money on whatever they please – be that homeopathy or anything else. Similarly, people have a right to offer any service they please (including homeopathy). The only restrictions on these rights should be to prevent illicit behaviour.

Where we may disagree, and I say may because I don’t quite understand your position, concerns public expenditure. I do not believe at all that people have a right to a blank cheque from the government to spend on whatever health care they wish. This can’t be a fundamental right because no government could ever have the financial resources to deliver such services to the population.

If you do believe that people have have a right to whatever health care they want would you please state that openly, and also suggest how any country could possibly afford it.

Here is what I do NOT hear in this debate: “There is SOME evidence for homeopathy, but we remain skeptical and until there is more evidence of the kind we prefer, we don’t feel it justified to spend public funds on homeopathy.” Instead I continue to hear, “There is absolutely no evidence for homeopathy,” which is simply not true.

The debate about homeopathy concerns whether taxpayers money should fund it”…..Money and resources are not infinite and very difficult choices have to be made”

Woodchopper,the cost of providing homeopathy to the public through the NHS
(Homeopathic hospitals and certain surgeries)is but a DROP in the proverbial bucket. MOST homeopathic treatment in the U.K. comes directly from the pockets of the patients.

Put the shoe on the other foot for a moment, Woodchopper. I have spent my adult life paying for national health plans and for extended insurance(in the U.K. and elsewhere) for a system I NEVER USE. How do you think that makes me feel ? Is that right?

On the other hand, I have paid thousands of pounds to the alternative practitioners who have kept myself and my family healthy for 3o years- homeopaths, chiropractors, and massage therapists.

I have SAVED the NHS money.

Furthermore, homeopaths save the NHS money,not only in taking care of myself and my family (and thousands of other individuals and families) BUT ALSO in reducing the need for expensive drugs, and surgical and diagnostic procedures.

Take the example of hysterectomies. Every homeopath I know can cite at least a few cases where they have stopped the hemorrhaging and have shrunk the uterine fibroids that often necessitate these procedures, which would have cost the NHS thousands of pounds, not to mention saving the pain, suffering and lost time from work and from their families of all those women.

The NHS is billions of pounds of pounds in debt. Cutting out homeopathic services would have no effect on this at all.

Lynne, I don’t doubt at all that an average homeopathic remedy and consultation costs much less than the vast majority of conventional treatments.

But that’s not the point at all. What godscience and woo woo seem to be arguing is that people have the right to demand that the government give them whatever health care they want. Woo woo even seemed to call this a fundamental human right. I write ‘seemed’ here because I’m not completely sure what their point is.

Your point about cost is only relevant if people have the right to choose – but only if they choose homeopathy. Which isn’t a right to choose at all.

“There is SOME evidence for homeopathy, but we remain skeptical and until there is more evidence of the kind we prefer, we don’t feel it justified to spend public funds on homeopathy.”

I agree with you absolutely that there is some evidence for homeopathy.

But, as I wrote over at the Woo woo science blog the other day, the problem for me is that the evidence isn’t nearly sufficient enough to justify the extraordinary claims made by homeopaths (such as that infinitesimally small quantities of a substance can have an effect upon the human body).

It assumes that homeopathy would be ONE option in an ideal medical system. At the moment, allopathy has the monopoly.

My point was not just that many visit privately paid homeopaths and thus save the NHS money for consultations and prescriptions, but also that homeopathy pre-empts the need for more expensive surgical treatments and the after – care of those patients, costly diagnostic procedures and even dearer second and third level drugs.

Looking at the current state of the NHS – billions of pounds in debt – thanks to the allopathic system and the pharmaceuticals that are integral to it.
If homeopathy were MORE available, the NHS might save some money.

I am a patient of homeopathy for many years and have found it to be very important to my well being. At 59 I’m happy to say I have great health. I give credit to homeopathy and the way I live my life to keeping me young, healthy and fit.

I agree with the article and wish more people would understand the significant benefit this treatment offers.

lynne – if that is the case then don’t you think that homeopaths ought to provide some evidence that would convince the NHS to take you seriously? Answering the following questions would be mandatory…

1) Under what conditions should homeopathy be used?
2) How effective is it under those conditions?
3) In what way is it better than real medicine?
4) Is it more cost effective than real medicine?

In short, it should subject itself to the same requirements as any other therapy on the NHS, and go through the various hoops such as NICE approval.

But homeopathy does not have the evidence base to do this. It does not even have basic evidence to support its basic claims.

Homeopaths claim that remedies produce reproducible and distinct symptom sets in healthy volunteers. Where is the objective evidence for this?

My challenge on the quackometer would give that basic evidence and yet the homeopathic community appears not to want to expose itself to basic and cheap testing.

Why should the NHS pay for such therapies when it does not even have the courage of its own convictions?

Andy Lewis Said:

1) Under what conditions should homeopathy be used?
2) How effective is it under those conditions?
3) In what way is it better than real medicine?
4) Is it more cost effective than real medicine?

By terming conventional medicine “real” you are already showing a bias, and that really these questions are just sarcastic statements.

As well, when you look carefully at some of the results from the studies you extoll for conventional medical treatments and drugs, you will see the minimal results that cost tax payers billions of dollars are about minimally controlling symptoms and not really curing the disease and that the iatrogenic effect is so high that it is ridiculous to assume that all conventional medical treatments have reasonable financial value.

With iatrogenisis running at such a high rate in both the UK and the United States, I would say we have a medical and pharmaceutical system run amok.

You want homeopathy to fit into that system. It is based on some ridiculous assumptions- that regular medicine is safe and proven.

I would still like you to show the studies that show surgery works. Why aren’t you asking surgeons these same questions?

Honestly, when it comes down to being ill, and one does not find relief with the conventional method, it is just great to be able to turn to another system like Homeopathy and find what one was so desperately seeking: healing.

When my child was suffering as she was at 18 months of age with a chronic bronchitis with no end in sight, I said to myself, I do not have a thing to lose by trying Homeopathy. The only thing that might have gotten in my way was my own prejudice. I had a belief that the system of medicine that my parents relied on and that I had known since my childhood should be able to take care of a bronchitis, right?

Her pediatrician kept prescribing one course of antibiotic after another for a whole year! She developed a severe yeast infection that was also becoming chronic and nasty. What is a parent to do? Homeopathy worked for her bronchitis and her yeast infection. She did not have to have another antibiotic treatment again in her life!

From that moment on my child, who is now 33, has been treated with Homeopathy. As an adult now Homeopathy is her treatment of choice. She continued with regular visits to the pediatrician and later on to her Primary Care Physician for annual check ups, and to her dentist for her dental care. But, when it comes down to any illness she chooses Homeopathy and she is a perfectly healthy human being.

This is plenty of reason to keep Freedom of Choice available to all. There is no value that you can assign to health, so as the many millions of people in the world that choose Homeopathy, we pay for the services out of pocket and that is a fair exchange! I always tell my friends and family: “If I pay my mechanic to take care of my car, why would not I pay my Homeopath to take care of my body?.” And when I say my body I am talking my whole mental, emotional and physical function. What could be better than that?

The fact that some people are scratching their heads wondering how is it possible, the fact that the methods to prove the mechanism of action of this system have not been developed yet, the fact that Homeopathy is way ahead of its time, is not reason enough to discount it.

As a consumer, I am not interested in the studies conducted by the medical establishment, or if these studies are biased or not, or if they have sufficient solid conclusive data or not, or if the people sitting in the Board or Directors of the researching institutions are same individuals that sit on the Board of the Pharmaceutical Companies or not. As a consumer I want results, I want myself and my family in good health. If that mean going to a homeopath, so be it. I am asking FOR FREEDOM OF CHOICE.

I think Medicine, as the establishment that it is has its place and its errors. So let us all live with imperfection. Welcome to life! It is not so glossy as some want us to believe.

I would recommend to all homeopaths that they read this article in the New Yorker.

Although 8 pages long (and you should read it all), it is a glimpse into what I genuinely call real medicine.

Read it and come back and repeat what you say about iatrogenic illness, treating symptoms not causes, about freedom to choose homeopathy and about the irrelevance of a scientific approach to medicine.

I think this article is an excellent rebuttal of the sort of homeopathic nonsense that says doctors are under the pay of Big Pharma, that they are only interested in ‘symptoms’, that all they do is dish out pills to suppress illnesses.

My challenge on the quackometer would give that basic evidence and yet the homeopathic community appears not to want to expose itself to basic and cheap testing.

I don’t think you’ll find it’s the basic and cheap testing that homeopaths object to. It’s the fact that, based on your behaviour and attitudes to date, nobody trusts you further than they could poke you with their pinkies to conduct a fair trial.

I already read that article. There is a lot to be said for crisis and emergency medicine using technological interventions which by the way have been developed for the most part experientially. That is where conventional medicine shines and its origins are right there- Benjamin Rush in the American civil war.

But when it comes to treating chronic disease utilizing the same techniques and crisis management philosophies (yes, philosophies) it has a dismal record. Conventional medicine has not really much to show for it in the realm of chronic disease treatment and relies on crisis intervention to deal with the acute iatrogenesis chronic disease treatment causes.

But chronic disease treatment is where homeopathy shines.

laughingmysocksoff – you say no one will trust me. That is why the test is designed so that I do not take part in any way. Your lack of trust in me is not an excuse for avoiding this simple test of your claims. Everything about the test is in your control. Do you have the courage todo it?

laughingmysocksoff said

I don’t think you’ll find it’s the basic and cheap testing that homeopaths object to. It’s the fact that, based on your behaviour and attitudes to date, nobody trusts you further than they could poke you with their pinkies to conduct a fair trial.

I don’t see how the trial can be anything other than fair: you pick the remedies, you choose the homeopaths who will attempt to tell them apart, and can use any method you like to do so. Heck – don’t involve Andy Lewis at all. Just mention, in advance, that you’re running the trial and then publish the results when it’s finished. Refusal to do what should be a fatuously easy test looks exactly like avoidance of basic and cheap testing.

yeshomeopathy – help me understand. So, doctors do great stuff in the ICU and ‘conventional medicine shines’ but somehow when they step next door into some other hospital department their mindset changes, and if we are to believe homeopathic rhetoric, they become venal and corrupt hypocrites? Why are not the same standards of careful evidence-based and thoughtful treatment applied? Why is homeopathy ignored? Could it be that, actually, the same standards are applied, albeit less dramatically, and that homeopaths are preying of the unrealistic expectations of people?

“I have seen hundreds of lives changed in a profoundly positive way by homeopathy”

Great, with such experience you must be in a position to suggest how to measure that profound positive change. Then we could design a proper experiment to see if potent homeopathic remedies bring about the profound change when placebos do not.
Then, if you’re right, we sceptics will go home.

Well, as this question has been hanging unanswered for a few weeks I shall try asking it again:

Goodscience, does the ‘Freedom to Choose’ you advocate cover your own money, or the taxpayers’?

Does this “freedom to choose” at any stage involve giving people unbiased information from non-deluded medical professionals upon which they can base their free choice?

Are you volunteering to partake in homeopathy trials Andrew? Are you sure your reputation can take it? Are you unbiased? Is anyone any more?

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