Homeopathy’s Success in the “Purple Death”

Posted on May 18, 2008. Filed under: Homeopathy's Success in the "Purple Death" | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Dr. Ulrich Welte is a world renowned homeopath. He has practiced homeopathy for 30 years and worked as a homeopathic GP in Kandern, Germany, since 1983. He recently published an article on the Spanish flu, an epidemic commonly known as the “Purple Death”. Homeopathy was proven to be VERY successful during the epidemic and the statistics are impressive. Here is an excerpt:

The Spanish Influenza in 1918 was the most devastating influenza pandemic ever and was also called the Purple Death. It took place at the end of the First World War in 1918. The war itself took 9 million deaths. As if this was not enough, the Spanish Flu took a death toll of more than 50 million people all over the world according to modern estimations (*1). It swept across the planet in three waves like a huge tsunami, more deadly than anything known before and comparable to the Black Death of 1348. The second and hardest wave hit during autumn/winter 1918. This was a time when America still had many of the best homeopaths, although the decline had already set in. Boger, Boericke, Dewey and the young Grimmer were among them. So a high standard of homeopathic treatment of this dreaded pandemic was faithfully recorded there. In a meta study, more than 26,000 homeopathic patients were compared with 24,000 patients of the “old school” showing an awesome superiority of the homeopathic treatment. The homeopathic doctors had a consistent mortality rate of 1-3% among their patients, whereas the old school had a death toll of 25-30% of their patients. The homeopathic remedies most frequently used were gels, bry, arn, eup-per and ars. It is to be noted that a very important factor of the homeopathic treatment was the discarding of aspirin, which was standard therapy of the old school. There are some comparative figures of allopathic hospitals suggesting that the avoidance of aspirin alone could have saved millions of lives. High doses of aspirin alleviated pain and fever, but treacherously increased the hemorrhagic tendency of the respiratory tract and thus speeding up the deadly course of the disease. A revealing figure comes from Dr. Pearson of Philadelphia: “The mortality rate in a camp was 25.8%. The lieutenant in charge was persuaded to discontinue aspirin, digitalis and quinine and the mortality dropped speedily to 15% with no medicine what-so-ever. This was in one ward, whereupon it was ordered in other wards and the mortality dropped to 15% with no medicine (*2).” This suggests that the natural death toll of the dreaded disease (lethality) would have been 15% of all infected patients, which is about the same figure one gets by calculation of official census figures (*3). Success of homeopathic treatment (only 1-3% of patients died) is usually compared to 25-30% dying under regular treatment, but actually it should be measured against these 15% as a natural comparator without the specific harmful side-effects of aspirin. Even then, to achieve a mortality rate of about 2% is very convincing and cannot be explained away by “placebo” effects.

According to personal information by Armin Sei, W.A. Dewey published an even more impressive survey in the 1921 “Journal of  the American Institute of Homoeopathy”. It is a meta-analysis of 5 contemporary expertises about the homeopathic treatment during the pandemic. It surveys 61,060 influenza patients treated with homeopathy during the years 1918 to 1919, of which 427 died (mortality: 0,7%). W.A. Pearson, dean of Homoeopathic Medical College in Philadelphia, collected 26,795 cases treated by 88 doctors. He estimated a 30% average mortality of patients treated by the “old school”.

 

You can read the rest of the article here;

http://www.interhomeopathy.org/index.php/journal/entry/hydrocyanicum_acidum_and_the_purple_death_1/

 

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29 Responses to “Homeopathy’s Success in the “Purple Death””

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The problem with the Dewey report is that is little more than a collection of anecdotes and self-agrandising .

Concluding that homeopathy was successful at treating the flu cannot done from these reports. We have no data on what the populations of the two groups were – homeopathically treated and conventionally treated.

It is trivial to think of plausible scenarios that would completely invalidate any such comparison. For example, what is the difference between rich and poor use of homeopathy? Would people who were more ill be more likely to seek conventional treatment? Were ill patients in homeopathic hospitals transfered to conventional treatment when things got bad? All these things would introduce intolerable levels of bias to make any such comparison completely unfair. No attempt is made to discuss such possibilities and control for it.

The reality is, that when modern meta-analyses are performed, homeopathy is shown to be an implausible remedy for flu. The Cochrane review of homeopathy and flu suggests that, at best, homeopathy can shorten the experience of symptoms by up to six hours. Even this result is not robust and may well be a statistical fluke or the result of bias. Nonetheless, the difference between the exagerated and chest-beating claims of 1920’s homeopaths and careful studies in the late 20th Century could not be more stark.

Thank you for the reference to Dr. Welte’s article. Very interesting reading. On reading the information provided by Ulrich Welte MD I noticed that Dr. Welte is a medical doctor and capable of evaluating medical research.

I note that Mr. Andy Lewis is an amateur and from many of his other entries seems to be a very serious skeptic of homeopathy. I also note that Mr. Lewis has no medical training at all.

But he talks as if he’s an expert in medical research and also that his serious bias is not a problem. I will trust Dr. Welte and also you Goodscience in your evaluation of these matters especially related to homeopathy. Homeopathy was obviously very effective in this serious pandemic.

Thanks again.

chunderstorm – when you cannot defend what you believe and address the arguments made, the charlatan will turn to personal attacks. What is wrong with what I have said?

Andy Lewis asks: [i]What is wrong with what I have said?[/i]

Exactly what I said. You apply very bizarre standards to statistics and to studies on homeopathy that would never be applied to other epidemiological studies in diseased populations or in the application of conventional medicine in those populations.

And worse still, you have a bloated opinion of your pronouncements such as stating: “Concluding that homeopathy was successful at treating the flu cannot done from these reports.”

How important you think you are! Are you serious?

I don’t believe arguing about epidemiological standards with you who knows so little about the topic will bear any fruit.

Stop acting as if you are an expert on medical topics when you clearly are not.

If homeopathy is so successful in an epidemic, why is it not the treatment of choice for the numerous charities, medicine sans frontier red cross etc. All of these surely cannot be part of the homeopaths imagined conspiracy of big pharma. Or is it as many people have pointed out on various blogs the absence of evidence that homeopathy works. What is it, conspiracy or lack of evidence?

Jeff Garrington- I would say at best you are naive but most likely you are either trying to get the usual dig into homeopathy or just trying to make pharmaceutical promotion and supremacy a result of some sort of benign “scientific” force?

Take a look at how much is made from well promoted, well lobbied flu vaccines- we are talking billions. And we are talking hundreds of millions spent on this marketing and lobbying.

So quit with the naivety bit and acting as if the issue of acceptance, supremacy of pharmaceutical drugs has something to do with a few non-profit organizations.

Chunderstorom

You approach this issue in two ways. You either think of it in terms of authorities; Dr Welt is one, he is qualified, Andy isn’t one as he is not qualified, Andy gives himself airs by putting forward an opinion etc. Or you think in terms of plausibility of a corporate conspiracy as weighed by profits, marketing budgets etc.

These are not the important issues. The only thing that matters is the question of whether there is good reason to believe homeopathy works. We say there isn’t, and that on the contrary the sum of the evidence we currently have suggests it is no better than placebo.

There are of course many important moral, political, economic and regulatory issues relating to big pharma. You do not seem to be sophisticated enough to engage with them. It is not so much that Jeff is naïve as that your world view is excessively simplistic.

You apply very bizarre standards to statistics and to studies on homeopathy that would never be applied to other epidemiological studies in diseased populations or in the application of conventional medicine in those populations.

You only have to provide one example to demonstrate this is true. Can you?

Chunderstorm, nothing benign about evidence, it makes the world it is to day. However you evaded my point, are charities part of this conspiracy. Millions are made from Homeopathy surely there is enough for field trials, what’s holding you lot back. I guess that any charity would welcome a drug thats cheap to manufacture, safe to use and 100% effective.
If it works why isn’t it being used.
By the way I have worked in the “field” in what was once Biafra.
No big Pharma conspiracy, the bottom line is effective treatment, before shipping a load of drugs etc we need to know how effective the lift is going to be. We need reports & trials on effectiveness etc. To date non on homeopathy that stands scrutiny, why can’t homeopaths produce convincing proof. So if you will, answer my question, are charities part of this conspiracy.

Oh Dear- now all the idiots chime in with their two cents worth.

Thanks for the insult chunderstorm, once again, from an idiot, if you will.
Answer my question, are charities part of this conspiracy.

Well, it sounds like we can add petulance to the other descriptive word.

Well, lets see now. Does someone or an organization NOT using homeopathy prove anything? And who said it was a conspiracy? Its just business, BIG business- take a look at the numbers. Get real about that.

Talking about real, I think you are going a little nutty with your point here- physicians without borders approving of homeopathy? What does that got to do with anything? Yea, we got it- you worked there and didn’t use a homeopathic remedy. So you could work in surgery, medical research and not use a homeopathic remedy. What does that prove or disprove?

But then again, there is some strange brew of irrationality amongst you anti-homeopathy nutters but its under the guise of “science” and bullsh*t “expert” opinions that are passed as expert conclusions like we see in the comments here.

Andy says:

The reality is, that when modern meta-analyses are performed, homeopathy is shown to be an implausible remedy for flu.

Could this be because inappropriate criteria are used in such “modern meta-analyses”?

I notice that Andy is good with trivial ideas:

It is trivial to think of plausible scenarios that would completely invalidate any such comparison. For example, what is the difference between rich and poor use of homeopathy?

The comparison of two groups of 24,000 and 26,000 people would have to be carefully planned if wealth were to be a marked differentiating characteristic. It is also difficult to believe that it can account for such a huge difference in the mortality rates (between five and ten times), especially in an illness afflicting the young and vigorous more than the old and weak.

Would people who were more ill be more likely to seek conventional treatment? Were ill patients in homeopathic hospitals transfered to conventional treatment when things got bad?

Can these criticisms really be considered valid? Could people change their medical advisor or their hospital between the morning and the evening? Without anyone noticing at the time and publicising the fact? When you want an implausible explanation, Andy really scrapes the barrel.

[…] benefit for all kinds of ill-health; its effectiveness in treating epidemics: cholera, influenza (here and here); its integration into the Indian medical system; and the World Health Organisation […]

Any homeopaths have a problem with this?
from the guardian Mon 16th june
A fruit-flavoured placebo pill that tricks small children into thinking they are getting medical treatment is to be launched in Britain despite concerns from childcare experts.

Manufacturers of the sugar pills Obecalp – placebo spelled backwards – say it helps soothe the pains of childhood without resorting to drugs with potentially harmful side-effects, but doctors fear it increases reliance on medication and could stop parents seeking help when necessary.

Because Obecalp is classified as a dietary supplement and not a drug, manufacturers are not required to carry out their own clinical trials before putting it on the market but can rely on results from previous trials where a placebo has been used.

Jennifer Buettner, whose company Efficacy is marketing the placebo, says it can stimulate “the body’s ability to repair itself and the miracle power of the brain”. She said the company planned to distribute the pills, which cost £3 for 50, in the UK.

“When drugs are not needed and the patient still thinks that medicine would help, we believe that the placebo effect can work,” she said.

But Dr Clare Gerada, vice-chair of the Royal College of GPs, described the pill as “medicalising love”, adding: “This placebo disempowers parents. It is telling them that unless you give your children this pill there’s nothing else.”

Douglas Kamerow, associate editor of the British Medical Journal, said giving placebos to children was a “deeply bad idea”. Writing in the latest edition of the journal, he said: “The problems are numerous. Firstly, whom are we treating here, children or their parents?”

He added that if parents used placebos to comfort their children they were teaching them that tablets are the answer for all life’s aches and pains.

Another interesting quirk in this article is the mortality rate in homeopathic hospitals. The figure of 3% is consistent with the placebo effect – that is, that these people died because they were convinced they would die even though they were given a curative medicine.

In all the attacks on homeopathy it is frequently forgotten that the percentage of people exhibiting the placebo effect is very small, and that any large effect attributed to placebo is simply an indication of an exceptionally poor understanding of the factors involved in the experiment.

You’re saying that the only deaths that occured in those patients with flu under the care of homeopaths did so because they believed they would die? You think because the placebo effect is small all small effects are placebo, 3% mortality is a small number and therfor must be a placebo?

You think because the placebo effect is small all small effects are placebo, 3% mortality is a small number and therfor must be a placebo?

No, Derrick, I was remarking on the coincidence of the figures: that generally thought of as resulting from placebo effect and that for the failure of a treatment claiming efficacy according to scientific principles. One would expect a theoretically 100% successful medical system to fail at a rate consistent with that of placebo effect, and these figures offer the tantalising suggestion that that is what actually happened.

Homeopathy cures where Conventional Allopathic Medicine (CAM) fails

Why would one would expect a theoretically 100% successful medical system to fail at a rate consistent with that of [the] placebo effect?

Think about it, Derik. Nothing is 100% accurate, and orthodox medicine has observed an irreducible minimum of effects with nothing they can identify as an “active cause” (typically in 3% of cases), which they call the placebo effect. This effect does appear to be related to expectations, though. Hence in an epidemic of great virulence and high numbers of fatalities, there will be an expectation of death, and a likelihood of some people dying from the placebo effect (typically 3%).

its a drop in the death rate from 15% to 3%, that is an 80% reduction to a death rate 20% of that with no treatment. Deciding what a percentage means requires paying some attention to the base used. Still why placebo and not say, incorect assesment of the simillium?

Derrik, a good point, but the total from which the percentages are drawn is the total of people hospitalised and therefore receiving some form of care, if not an actual medicine. The 3% is the irreducible proportion of deaths among this group, despite even the best care available (that is, the most successful). In this inverse form it is the expectation that they will die despite care or medicine which produces the placebo effect.

As such the figure is directly comparable with the irreducible proportion of people who get better believing that they are receiving the best care and an active medicine, when they are not (the placebo effect).

My initial comment simply noted the similarity of the figures, but I see no reason to exclude a mistaken choice of the simillimum as part of the reason for the mortality rate. I must say that I would have expected you to reject such a proposition on the basis that it boosts claims for the effectiveness of the homeopathic treatment, since it suggests that homeopathy can treat even those who one would expect to primarily exhibit a placebo response.

You’re right, I don’t really believe the results as presented here.

I went and had a look for studies of the effectiveness of homeopathy on flu. There are some positive results, some small studies show a statistically significant reduction in the duration of the illness but this seems to have been no more than half a day which doesn’t seem clinically significant. I would explain away these studies as publication bias. Obviously 1 in 20 studies will exceed 95% statistical significance and one imagines flu to be an illness that is frequently looked at by homeopathic researchers as it is non-lethal in healthy adults and common enough to study with ease. I’m guessing you would pick up on these studies as evidence for homeopathies efficacy.

The thing I find interesting is the disparity between the claims in the article above and the results from the studies I read . If homeopathy can reduce the death rate of a lethal strain of flu by 80% why is its reduction of the duration of modern flu so small? This is a recurring pattern with the apologists for homeopathy; miracles are reported from the past and backed up by intangible, statistical noise level, results from modern studies. We might almost conclude that if homeopathy ever worked in the past, modern homeopaths have forgotten how it’s done.

I also think it’s quite interesting that your first thought when confronted by a 3% death rate was not that the homeopaths involved might have got things wrong, which would be understandable in any event, but that the patients lack of faith might have killed them. Perhaps I’m reading too much into your response, but I have picked this up from other bloggers else where. It seems as if true believers often rationalise the failure of their healing effort as the patients failure not their own. I guess that helps maintain the delusion of a theoretically 100% successful treatment.

I also think it’s quite interesting that your first thought when confronted by a 3% death rate was not that the homeopaths involved might have got things wrong, which would be understandable in any event, but that the patients lack of faith might have killed them.

It was not my first thought; I was just struck by the similarity in the figures and thought I would point it up.

My first thought was about why there was a 3% mortality rate in the homeopathic hospitals. Was it related to the state of development of the patient’s condition before admission, the wrong remedy, and so on?

OK good for you.

Homeopathy: Micro Doses Mega Results

Homeopathy is evidence based modern medicine for the 21st century

The fundamental pillars of Homeopathy are: –
1. Law of similar (1796): Like cures like
2. Law of minimum dose (1801): Less is More
3. Law of simplex (1810): One single similar medicine for the patient
4. The theory of miasms (1829)
5. Doctrine of Vital Force (1833)
6. Potentisation/dynamisation (1833)
7. Hering’s law of five directions of cure (1845):
8. Diet & Regimen


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