The Case FOR Homeopathic Medicine: The Historical and Scientific Evidence

Posted on February 10, 2010. Filed under: The Case FOR Homeopathic Medicine: The Historical and Scientific Evidence | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

An article by Dana Ullman…………

A lot of people today are confused about what homeopathy is (and isn’t), and this situation is not helped by the skeptics of homeopathy who go to incredible extents to exaggerate and misconstrue what homeopathic medicine is and who commonly provide misinformation about it. It is more than a tad ironic that these “skeptics” who hold themselves out as “defenders of medical science” have exhibited an embarrassingly poor scientific attitude when evaluating what homeopathy is and what the scientific evidence does and doesn’t say about it.

Because many skeptics of homeopathy today indulge in spreading misinformation about homeopathy, this blog is addressed at setting the record straight and is packed with references to confirm the veracity of what is being asserted here.

First, to clarify, advocating for or using homeopathic medicines does not preclude appreciation for or use of selective conventional medical treatment. Advocates of homeopathy simply honor the Hippocratic tradition of “First, do no harm” and therefore seek to explore and utilize safer methods before resorting to more risky treatments. This perspective has historical and international roots, and it is thus no surprise that American health care which has been so resistant to homeopathic and natural therapies in its mainstream institutions is presently ranked 37th in the world in the performance of its health care system.(1) In comparison, the number one ranked country in the world is France, a country in which around 40 percent of the population uses homeopathic medicines and around 30 percent of its family physicians prescribe them (2).

The Evidence IS There

The fact that homeopathy became extremely popular during the 19th century primarily because of its impressive successes in treating the infectious disease epidemics that raged during that time is a fact that is totally ignored by skeptics.(3)(4)(5) It is highly unlikely that a placebo response is the explanation for homeopathy’s notable successes in treating epidemics of cholera, yellow fever, scarlet fever, typhoid, pneumonia, or influenza. Skeptics are wonderfully clever in trying to make up stories and excuses for the good and often amazing results that people get from homeopathic medicines. Most often, however, they simply say that “old news is no news,” as they brag about not learning from the past as though this is a good thing.

There are more than 150 placebo controlled clinical studies, most of which have shown positive results, either compared with a placebo or compared with a conventional drug.(6-10)

If that were not enough, studies testing the effects of homeopathic medicines on cell cultures, plants, animals, physics experiments, and chemistry trials have shown statistically significant effects. (11-16) Needless to say, the placebo effect in these basic science studies is virtually non-existent, while the effects from homeopathic doses are significant and sometimes substantial.

Skeptics are virulently silent on the entire field of hormesis (the multidisciplinary science of evaluating the power of small doses of varied biological systems) and its thousands of studies in a wide variety of scientific disciplines. (17)(18) This silence on hormesis is completely understandable because their acknowledgement of this body of evidence obliterates much of their criticisms of homeopathy. The doses of homeopathic medicines that are commonly sold in health food stores and pharmacies throughout the world are in a similar low dosage range of the thousands of hormesis studies on low-dose effects. It is very odd that skeptics ignore the thousands of studies in this field, and yet, these same skeptics repeat their embarrassingly uninformed mantra of “where is the research?” It is indeed no wonder that these skeptics are often referred to as “denialists” rather than skeptics.

It is readily acknowledged that the pharmacological process of making homeopathic medicines is often misunderstood or inadequately understood. Homeopathic medicines are made with a specific process, called potentization, that is unique to homeopathy. Each medicine is made in double-distilled water in a glass test-tube, diluted in a 1:10 or 1:100 solution that is vigorously shaken 40 or more times. Then, this process of dilution and succussion (vigorous shaking) is repeated 3, 6, 12, 30, 200, 1,000, or more times. Although one would think that one is diluting out whatever was in the original solution, the immense worldwide experience using homeopathic medicines over the past 200 years prove otherwise.

There is a body of intriguing but not yet fully verified theories about how homeopathic medicines work. These theories are too technical for this article, though I sincerely hope that the “good skeptics” out there will work to explore and help figure out the many mysteries that may explain homeopathy, rather than repeat the old reactionary mantra that “it cannot work.”

For instance, the new “silica hypothesis” is particularly intriguing, especially in light of the fact that approximately six parts per million of “silica fragments” or “chips” are known to fall off the walls of glass vials during the shaking process, and with the creation of nano-bubbles from the shaking process, the water pressure is changed dramatically, akin to being at over 10,000 feet altitude.(19)

Because a homeopathic medicine is selected for its unique ability to cause the specific pattern or syndrome of symptoms that it is known to cause in overdose, a living organism has a hypersensitivity to even extremely small doses of the correctly chosen homeopathic medicine. Just as a “C” note of a piano is hypersensitive to other “C” notes, living organisms are hypersensitive to extremely small doses of medicines that are made from substances that cause the similar symptoms that the sick person is experiencing. This ancient principle, “like cures like,” was heralded by the Oracle at Delphi, the Bible, and various Eastern cultures, and the fact that modern-day immunology and allergy treatments derive from the primary principle of homeopathy, “the law of similars,” provides additional substantiation to this system of medicine. Conventional allergy treatment and vaccination are two of the very few conventional medical treatments that do something to augment immune response, and yet, both of these treatments derive from the homeopathic principle of similars.

Actually, a better description of this principle of similars is the “principle of resonance,” which any student of music knows has both power and hypersensitivity. The additional wisdom of this homeopathic principle is that it use leads to the prescription of medicines that mimic, rather than that suppress, the symptoms and the innate intelligence of the human body. Because homeopathic medicines are prescribed for their ability to mimic the similar symptoms that the sick person is experiencing, it is no wonder that people find that these medicines augment immune competence and improve body and mind health.

In this light, homeopathy can and should be considered a type of “medical biomimicry” and a “resonance medicine.”

Homeopaths may not yet adequately understand precisely how their medicines work, but the body of historical and present-day evidence and experience is simply too significant to ignore. The fact that so many highly respected people and cultural heroes over the past 200 years have used and advocated for homeopathy provides additional evidence for this medical system. Some of these cultural heroes include eleven U.S. Presidents, six popes, JD Rockefeller, Charles Darwin, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, and scores of literary greats, corporate leaders, sports superstars, world-class musicians, and monarchs from virtually every European country.(20)

It is also important to acknowledge that hundreds of thousands, even millions, of medical doctors learned conventional medicine but have used homeopathic medicines in conjunction with or (commonly) in replacement of conventional medicines. In comparison, the number of medical professionals who have trained in homeopathy and who then stopped using these medicines is extremely small. The fact that homeopathic medicine represents the leading medical alternative in Europe and in significant portions of Asia (especially India and Pakistan) provides additional support for this often misunderstood medical science and art. In fact, over 100 million people in India depend solely on this form of medical care.(21) Further, according to an A.C. Neilsen survey, 62 percent of current homeopathy users in India have never tried conventional medicines and 82 percent of homeopathy users would not switch to conventional treatments.(22)
The So-Called Best Evidence that Homeopathy Does Not Work

Sadly and strangely, the skeptics of homeopathy put much of their belief that homeopathy does not work on a review and comparison of homeopathic and conventional medical research that was published in the Lancet in 2005.(23) The Lancet even published an editorial in this same issue entitled “The End of Homeopathy.”

However, this “evidence” is a very controversial and some say extremely flawed review of homeopathic research.(24)(25) This review sought to compare 110 placebo-controlled homeopathic studies and with a “matched” group of 110 studies testing conventional medications. The researchers appropriately sought to only evaluate those studies that their criteria deemed to be a “high quality” study.

Although the idea of comparing studies is a good idea, the way that this group of researchers evaluated only a small subset of all studies showed an initial and ongoing bias, as you shall soon see…

First, it is important to know that the leader of this review of homeopathic research is A. Shang’s boss (and co-author of this article) is M. Eggers, a noted vocal skeptic of homeopathy. Second, evidence of strong bias against homeopathy by these researchers was brought to light by the Lancet‘s senior editor, Zoe Mullan, who acknowledged that, “Professor Eggers stated at the onset that he expected to find that homeopathy had no effect other than that of placebo.”(26)

Shang and his team deemed that “high quality trials” must fit certain criteria. It must be acknowledged that two other meta-analyses that have previously been published in the Lancet (1997) and the British Medical Journal (1991) have deemed several trials that had strongly positive effects from homeopathic treatment as “high quality” than was not deemed as such by Shang (and he has never commented about this discrepancy).

Despite the problems in comparing conventional medical research and homeopathic research, let’s assume that the two groups of studies ARE comparable. It is therefore more than a tad ironic that they found 21 of the homeopathic studies fit this definition of “high quality” clinical researcher but only 9 of the conventional studies did so. One would have thought that the researchers would then compare these “high quality” trials. However, this result would have shown that there IS a difference between homeopathic treatment and a placebo in a variety of ailments, and authors (who are known skeptics of homeopathy) could not allow that conclusion.

Instead, Shang’s group chose to only evaluate a much smaller subset of these high quality trials. They limited the review to the largest trials in both groups to 8 homeopathic trials (with at least 98 subjects) and six conventional trials (with at least 146 subjects). Strangely enough, when evaluating only this last group of larger studies, they were not comparable in ANY way. The diseases that they treated were all different. And conveniently enough, the researchers asserted that one of the large trials testing homeopathic medicines in the treatment of patients with polyarthritis (arthritis in multiple joints) did not have a comparable trial (they actually asserted with complete seriousness that there has never been a study of patients with this common malady, and rather than admit that this large trial of 175 patients which showed significant efficacy of treatment, they simply threw out the trial from their evaluation). When one realizes that NONE of the studies in the final evaluation matched each other in any way, the researchers’ decision to throw out this study on the homeopathic treatment of people with polyarthritis is additional evidence of the researcher’s strong biases and their efforts to prove homeopathy as a placebo “by hook or by crook.”

The researchers put a higher value of those studies with larger numbers of patients because they asserted that smaller trials are “biased,” even though they were randomized double-blind and placebo studies (and many of which were published in the Lancet, the BMJ, and other highly respected conventional medical journals). One group of four studies on patients with respiratory allergies which included 253 subjects and was published in the BMJ(27) was not a part of the final analysis without explanation. An earlier study published in the Lancet with 144 subjects suffering from hay fever was also missing from the final analysis.(28) The fact that these studies showed a significant benefit from homeopathic treatment was ignored entirely.

Using large number of subjects is “do-able” in homeopathy, though it is simply less frequent, due to the high costs of such studies and due to the fact that the profit margin for the sale of homeopathic medicines does not even approach that of conventional drugs. Also, it is a lot easier using conventional medicine than homeopathic medicine in studies because the very nature of homeopathy is the necessity to evaluate a person’s overall syndrome, not just any localized disease. This type of sophistication in individualized treatment is a part of good acupuncture treatment as well.

It is therefore not surprising that six of the eight large homeopathic trials gave the same homeopathic medicine to every subject, no matter what symptoms of the disease the subjects in the experiments experienced. Astonishingly enough, the Shang review included a “weight-loss” study in their final review. The “study” used Thyroidinum 30C (a small dose of thyroid gland), even though this remedy is not reported in the homeopathic literature as an appropriate medicine for this condition.

Even though a study can be “well designed” and “well conducted,” it will become a “junk science” study if the drug used is totally inappropriate for the sick person. As it turns out, six of the eight homeopathic studies in the final analysis by Shang used homeopathic medicines that were unlikely to be prescribed by a practicing homeopath (they prescribe their medicines based on the overall syndrome of physical and psychological symptoms the patient has, not just based on the diagnosed name of the disease, except in exceptional situations). In research and statistics, good studies need to have “internal validity” (how the study was designed and conducted) and “external validity” (how the treatment in the study can be generalized to clinical practice). The Shang group did not even seek to evaluate whether any of the studies had “external validity” or not. Sad, but true.

Perhaps the most interesting fact about this study was totally ignored by its authors. Of the six large and high quality conventional medical trials tested drugs that were deemed to be “effective,” three of these medical treatments have been withdrawn from medical use due to the serious side effects that later research confirmed. In other words, while conventional medicines were “proven” to be initially effective, further studies “proved” that these treatments provided more problems than benefits (a fact totally overlooked by the authors of this review).

Finally, imagine if researchers evaluated ALL studies for which antibiotics were used. Although antibiotics are primarily effective in the treatment of bacterial infections, they have been tested to treat a wide variety of infections, not just bacterial, but as we all know, antibiotics are not effective for anything other than bacterial infection (and even then, the frequency of use of antibiotics will reduce their efficacy because the bacteria adapt to it). Just because antibiotics are not effective for most conditions does not mean that specific antibiotics are ineffective for specific conditions. Good science requires specificity, not over-generalized statements, as Shang and his ilk have made.

Although the above seems to be a simple and logical statement, skeptics of homeopathy prove their paucity of rational thought by lumping together ALL types of homeopathic research, then throwing out or ignoring the vast majority of studies (including MOST of the studies that the researchers defined as “high quality”), and using studies that are not good examples of how homeopathy is practiced.

For instance, the World Health Organization has deemed that childhood diarrhea represents one of the most serious public health problems in the world today because millions of children die each year as a result of dehydration from diarrhea. With this concern in mind, three randomized double-blind trials were conducted testing individually chosen homeopathic medicines for children with diarrhea. One of these studies was published in Pediatrics,(29) and another study was published in another highly respected pediatric medical journal.(30) All three of these trials showed a significant benefit from homeopathic treatment when compared with placebo.

Similarly, four double-blind placebo controlled trials has shown benefit from the homeopathic medicine, Oscillococcinum, in the treatment of influenza.(31) Research has consistently found it to be effective in the treatment of influenza, though it does not seem to be effective in its prevention.

As for homeopathy and respiratory allergies, reference above was already made to four studies that showed effectiveness of homeopathic treatment (2 of which were published in the BMJ and one of which was published in the Lancet). Further, a review of seven double-blind and placebo controlled studies showed that homeopathic doses of Galphimia glauca were effective in treating people with hay fever.(32)

The two new re-analyses of the Shang review of homeopathic research provide the old cliche, GIGO. Junk data indeed creates junk science which creates junk and meaningless results. And ironically, THIS study is considered the ‘best” evidence that homeopathy does not work. If this is the best that they have, skepticism of homeopathy is not only dead, it is stupid dead.

While I would like to think that this article would finally put the last nail in the coffin of skeptics of homeopathy, I know that Big Pharma will not allow that to happen. Further, these skeptics are often like religious fundamentalists who will believe what they want to believe no matter what. And then, there’s the impact from cognitive dissonance: many people who have invested their time and energy into conventional medicine simply cannot imagine admitting that homeopathy may have any benefit. It may be time to put that rotary telephone in the attic along with the typewriter and your former skepticism of homeopathic medicine.
A Simple Challenge to Skeptics

To adequately and accurately evaluate homeopathy, one has to evaluate the whole body of evidence that has enabled homeopathy to persist for 200+ years. While evaluating double-blind clinical trials is important, so is evaluating the wide body of basic sciences, as well as the clinical outcome trials, the epidemiological studies, the cost-effectiveness literature, and the serial case review trials. It is strange that these defenders of science would remain so ignorant of the whole body of evidence that homeopathic medicine stands. Some leading skeptics of homeopathy even pride themselves on the value of having a closed mind to homeopathy.(33)

Skeptics of homeopathy assume that homeopaths, more than any other type of health practitioner, have incredible magic powers to elicit a placebo effect. We all acknowledge a certain power of the placebo in treating the “worried well,” but do skeptics of homeopathy really believe that a placebo effect is consistently effective to treat all of the serious illnesses that are commonly treated by homeopaths…and for which good double-blind studies show efficacy? Studies at the University of Vienna showed “substantial significance” in treating patients with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease…the number four reason that people in the USA die!)(34) and severe sepsis (a condition which kills 50 percent of patients in hospitals who are inflicted with it, and yet, homeopathic treatment has been found to cut this death rate in HALF!).(35)

The vast majority of homeopaths throughout the world are medical doctors or some other licensed or certified health professional who practice family medicine and who see patients with varied acute and chronic ailments. Therefore, I personally challenge ANY skeptic of homeopathy to try to maintain a family practice and only dispense “sugar pills,” rather than real homeopathic medicines. My challenge is simple: while seeing a wide variety of children and adults with various acute and chronic problems, take them off all of their conventional drugs (with the exception of insulin and a small selection of drugs of “medical necessity”), and prescribe only sugar pills…for just one week.

When you consider that homeopaths do this for 52 weeks of the year, skeptics of homeopathy should not have any problem IF they think that homeopaths are only prescribing placebos. Let’s see how many patients complain, call you late at night expressing concern about the ineffectiveness of your “medicine,” and simply do not return for future health care. Any skeptic of homeopathy will be “cured” by this experience in humility. (For the record, I have offered hundreds of skeptics with this challenge, and not a single one has agreed to “prove” that placebo treatment can work in family medicine).

To clarify, I honor good skepticism, for a healthy skepticism seeks to truly explore a subject with knowledge and without arrogance. Further, good skepticism seeks to understand the wide body of evidence that it is necessary to evaluate to determine veracity of phenomena. It is the bad or ugly skepticism that breeds an unscientific attitude and that is simply a form of denialism, or in some cases, hyper-denialism.

Sadly, many of today skeptics are fundamentalists who epitomize a “closed mind.” Deepak Chopra said it so well when he asserted, “professional skeptics who are self-appointed vigilantes dedicated to the suppression of curiosity” (huffingtonpost, Dec 27, 2009). When such people do not want to learn from the past, do not even read the research (or only read those studies that confirm their own point of view), and maintain a high degree of arrogance, such “skepticism” isn’t skepticism at all: it is bad scientific thinking, it is an unhealthy attitude towards science, and it is a model for how not to learn.

One of the leaders of the skeptics is famed magician James Randi, who like many skeptics is seemingly skeptical of everything (except conventional medicine). He, however, has begun to lose respect from his colleagues and scientists by his skepticism of global warming.(36)

When the denialists assert and insist that homeopathy “cannot” work, I remind them that “science” and “medicine” are not just nouns but verbs…science and medicine are ever-changing. ..and what may be today’s medicine is tomorrow’s quackery, and what may today’s quackery may be tomorrow’s medicine. This is not a prediction; this is history. I encourage everyone and anyone who is seriously interested in the science and art of real healing to explore what homeopathic medicine has to offer. As Mark Twain once asserted in 1890, “you may honestly feel grateful that homeopathy survived the attempts of the allopathists [conventional physicians] to destroy it.”

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The Campaign Against Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

Posted on July 21, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Here is another great article by Harald Walach, research Professor in Psychology at the University of Northhampton. The summary is; 

Does the campaign against CAM indicate that powerful factions feel threatened? A complacent CAM world has been slow to collect supporting data, but the waning of big pharma’s once unassailable economic and clinical dominance may be a significant motivator for some who oppose integration.With biotech innovation slowing down, and adverse event scandals and research irregularities, users are distrusting flagship revenue-producing medications. As healthcare policy reshapes mainstream medicine we will need to understand the forces ranged against integrated medicine.

Check out the entire article here.

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Pharmacologist Madeleine Ennis Admits; “Homeopathy, There is Something Going on There”

Posted on June 16, 2009. Filed under: Madeleine Ennis and Homeopathy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I just LOVE this article published in NewScientist. Maybe one day Gimpy et al will admit there is something to homeopathy as well! After all, hope does spring eternal!!

MADELEINE Ennis, a pharmacologist at Queen’s University, Belfast, was the scourge of homeopathy. She railed against its claims that a chemical remedy could be diluted to the point where a sample was unlikely to contain a single molecule of anything but water, and yet still have a healing effect. Until, that is, she set out to prove once and for all that homeopathy was bunkum.

In her most recent paper, Ennis describes how her team looked at the effects of ultra-dilute solutions of histamine on human white blood cells involved in inflammation. These “basophils” release histamine when the cells are under attack. Once released, the histamine stops them releasing any more. The study, replicated in four different labs, found that homeopathic solutions – so dilute that they probably didn’t contain a single histamine molecule – worked just like histamine. Ennis might not be happy with the homeopaths’ claims, but she admits that an effect cannot be ruled out.

So how could it happen? Homeopaths prepare their remedies by dissolving things like charcoal, deadly nightshade or spider venom in ethanol, and then diluting this “mother tincture” in water again and again. No matter what the level of dilution, homeopaths claim, the original remedy leaves some kind of imprint on the water molecules. Thus, however dilute the solution becomes, it is still imbued with the properties of the remedy.

You can understand why Ennis remains sceptical. And it remains true that no homeopathic remedy has ever been shown to work in a large randomised placebo-controlled clinical trial. But the Belfast study (Inflammation Research, vol 53, p 181) suggests that something is going on. “We are,” Ennis says in her paper, “unable to explain our findings and are reporting them to encourage others to investigate this phenomenon.” If the results turn out to be real, she says, the implications are profound: we may have to rewrite physics and chemistry.

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The Effectiveness of Homeopathy Proven Once Again!

Posted on April 14, 2009. Filed under: The Effectiveness of Homeopathy Proven Once Again! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Another brilliant study shows the effectiveness of homeopathy reported by a conventional medical journal! A study of 82 patients suffering psoriasis treated with homeopathy in primary care over a period of two years shows significant improvement in their quality of life and reduction in their psoriasis symptoms. Many of the patients had suffered psoriasis for as long as 15 years and had previously unsuccessfully tried conventional treatments. The full paper of the study is published in the Journal of the European Academyof Dermatology and Venereology.  Here is an excerpt:

Homeopathic treatment of patients with psoriasis – a prospective observational study with 2 years follow-up:


CM Witt*†, R Lüdtke ‡ , SN Willich †

  † Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, Charité University Medical Center, Berlin, Germany
 ‡ Karl and Veronica Carstens Foundation, Essen, Germany


Copyright Journal compilation © 2009 European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology:



homeopathy • prospective observational study • psoriasis • usual care • utilization



Design Prospective multicentre observational study.


To evaluate details and effects of homeopathic treatment in patients with psoriasis in usual medical care.


Methods Primary care patients were evaluated over 2 years using standardized questionnaires, recording diagnoses and complaints severity, health-related quality of life (QoL), medical history, consultations, all treatments, and use of other health services.

Results Forty-five physicians treated 82 adults, 51.2% women, aged 41.6 ± 12.2 (mean ± SD) years. Patients had psoriasis for 14.7 ± 11.9 years; 96.3% had been treated before. Initial case taking took 127 ± 47 min. The 7.4 ± 7.4 subsequent consultations (duration: 19.4 ± 10.5 min) cumulated to 169.0 ± 138.8 min. Patients received 6.0 ± 4.9 homeopathic prescriptions. Diagnoses and complaints severity improved markedly with large effect sizes (Cohen’s d= 1.02–2.09). In addition, QoL improved (SF-36 physical component score d = 0.26, mental component score d = 0.49), while conventional treatment and health service use were considerably reduced.


Under classical homeopathic treatment, patients with psoriasis improved in symptoms and QoL.


Conflicts of interest:

None declared.



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Lancet Wrong: But We Knew That!

Posted on January 11, 2009. Filed under: Lancet Wrong: But We Knew That! | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Natural News posted this article by Sherry Baker:

In August of 2005, the prestigious British medical journal the Lancet published a review comparing clinical trials of homeopathy with trials of conventional medicine. The conclusion of this study, which was widely hailed as evidence that homeopathy is worthless quackery, stated that homeopathic medicines are non-effective and, at best, just placebos. What’s more, an accompanying editorial in the Lancet said this “evidence” should close the door on the non-toxic, alternative treatment method, and flatly proclaimed this review should mark “the end of homeopathy”. Now two newly published studies, one in the journal Homeopathy and the other in the mainstream medical Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, have both gone on record to say the Lancet review was enormously flawed and downright inaccurate. Instead of showing homeopathy doesn’t work, the conclusion should have been that, at least for some ailments, it is effective.

Homeopathy involves giving very small doses of substances called remedies that, according to homeopathy, would produce the same or similar symptoms of illness in healthy people if they were given in larger doses. The goal of homeopathy is to stimulate the body’s defense system in order to prevent or treat illness. Homeopathy treatment is tailored to each individual and homeopathic practitioners work to select remedies according to a total picture of the patient, including not only symptoms but lifestyle, emotional and mental states, and other factors.

The original claim made in the Lancet review that homeopathic medicines are worthless treatments (other than being placebos) was based on six clinical trials of conventional medicine and eight studies of homeopathy. But what trials, exactly, were studied? It turns out the Lancet did not reveal this most basic information and, as the new studies point out, seriously flawed assumptions were made about the data that was presented. There are a limited number of homeopathic studies so it is not difficult to pick and choose facts to interpret selectively and unfavorably, which appears to be just what was done in the original Lancet anti-homeopathy article.

Bottom line: the Lancet’s report showing homeopathy is worthless lacked the academic care and scientific approach called for in medical journals. In fact, it could well be seen as a hack job.

In a statement to the press, George Lewith, Professor of Health Research at Southampton University in Great Britain, stated: “The review gave no indication of which trials were analyzed nor of the various vital assumptions made about the data. This is not usual scientific practice. If we presume that homeopathy works for some conditions but not others, or change the definition of a ‘larger trial’, the conclusions change. This indicates a fundamental weakness in the conclusions: they are NOT reliable.”

The two recently published scientific papers that investigated the previous Lancet review conclude that an analysis of all high quality trials of homeopathy show positive outcomes. What’s more, the eight larger and higher quality trials of homeopathy looked at a variety of medical conditions. The new studies point out that because homeopathy worked consistently for some of these ailments and not others, the results must indicate that homeopathic remedies can’t be simply placebos. In addition, the studies conclude that comparing homeopathy to conventional medicine was a meaningless apples-and-oranges approach. There are also concerns that the original anti-homeopathy review used unpublished criteria. For example, the researchers didn’t bother to define what they meant by “higher quality” homeopathy research.

The new studies not only cast serious doubts on the original Lancet review, which was headed by Professor Matthias Egger of the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Berne, but they strongly indicate Egger and his team based their conclusions on a series of hidden judgments that were prejudiced against homeopathy. So far,Professor Egger has declined to comment on the findings of the new studies in Homeopathy and the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology,

A press statement from the National Center for Homeopathy explains that an open assessment of the current evidence suggests that homeopathy is probably effective for many conditions including allergies, upper respiratory tract infections and flu, but agrees that much more research is needed. To that end, the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has announced it is currently supporting research in these areas:

* Homeopathy for physical, mental, and emotional symptoms of fibromyalgia (a chronic disorder involving widespread musculoskeletal pain, multiple tender points on the body, and fatigue).
* Homeopathy to help relieve or prevent brain deterioration and damage in stroke and dementia.
* Homeopathy (specifically the remedy cadmium) to potentially prevent damage to the cells of the prostate when those cells are exposed to toxins.

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Homeopathy: Frontier Science

Posted on November 24, 2007. Filed under: Homeopathy is Good Science | Tags: , , , , |

Much to the dismay of many people cured by homeopathy around the world, a recent wave of strong opinion held by a very few asserts that homeopathy is not scientific, or, at the very least, is “bad science”. Unfortunately those writing blogs claiming that Homeopathy is bad science have a very closed view of what science truly is and what the future of science may look like. Much of their postulating is borne out of fear. Fear of what they do not understand, and fear of a perceived threat to the scientific status quo from which they derive security. Hence, they vehemently attack a form of health care that has profoundly helped thousands of people all over the world.

These recent attacks on homeopathy rely heavily on misunderstanding and selective misinformation. The constant cry is that homeopathic remedies are placebo and can therefore do nothing. When homeopaths assert that remedies work on animals and therefore cannot be the placebo effect, they blame the biased observer. Tell that to my sister who was able to cure her entire herd of sheep sick with highly contagious pinkeye with the use of a homeopathic remedy.  These critics have even gone so far as to say that the reason homeopathy “seemed” successful in the cholera epidemic of 1854 was because conventional medicine was so harmful: 

“So, while hideous medical treatments such as blood-letting were actively harmful, the homeopaths’ treatments at least did nothing either way.” (The Guardian, Ben Goldacre November 16th 2007).

Mr. Goldacre’s statement is at odds with the excellent therapeutic results of homeopathic patients reported at the time of the epidemic:

“In 1854 London was struck by an outbreak of cholera. This gave homeopaths a chance to show what they could do. Among the patients admitted to the orthodox hospitals the death rate was 52 per cent, while at the homeopathic hospital, where 61 patients were admitted, only 10 died (16 per cent).” (English Homeopathy in the 19th Century; Campbell)

 Not only is it clear that homeopathic treatment was successful, but the “Bad Science” author admits the harm conventional medicine was doing. In this day and age of prescription drug therapy which is rife with harmful, even leathal side affects, can we really say conventional medicine is any better than it was in 1854? Remember the Hippocratic oath: “first do no harm”.

Another oft-raised issue is that homeopathy cannot stand up to conventional medical trials, and that homeopathic studies fail meta-analysis. It is suggested that homeopaths “cherry pick” the results of studies to confirm positive results. Iris Bell MD Phd, director of research at the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, stated the following in response to a negatively biased article in the British medical journal “The Lancet” in August of 2005;

“The researchers started with 110 homeopathy studies and 110 conventional medicine studies, but drew their main conclusions from 8 homeopathy and 6 conventional studies. And in an odd decision by the journal and the researchers, those 14 studies were not identified. This makes it impossible for others to challenge or confirm their conclusions. Given the tiny number left, they really were under an obligation to tell the reader which they used.”

Regardless of your point of view about this issue, everyone should agree that the selective use of available studies to substantiate a conclusion-while omitting those that are  unfavorable- serves no one’s best interests in the long term. That the Lancet relied on only 14 of 220 studies-all unidentified-on which to base it’s attack on Homeopathy completely destroys all credibility their researchers had hoped to muster. This comes from a medical paradigm that allows “scientifically tested” drugs like Vioxx to be used well beyond the time when there was substantial evidence of it being lethal. To coin a phrase made popular by Ben Goldacre and The Guardian, this is a heinous example of “Bad Science”. 

Many attacks on homeopathy are in reference to it being a “faith based” science. Modern scientific thought recognizes that science is inherently based on faith in often unprovable laws and assumptions. In his recent editorial in the New York Times (, Paul Davies, a research physicist states:

“It seems to me there is no hope of ever explaining why the physical universe is as it is so long as we are fixated on immutable laws or meta-laws that exist reasonlessly or are imposed by divine providence. The alternative is to regard the laws of physics and the universe that govern as part and parcel of a unitary system, and to be incorporated together within a common explanatory scheme.

In other words, the laws should have an explanation from within the universe and not involve appealing to an external agency. The specifics of that explanation are a matter for future research. But until science comes up with a testable theory of the laws of the universe, its claim to be free of faith is manifestly bogus.”

Our understanding of the true science of our universe is very limited. To think that we can prove something is real and true with our limited, parochial understanding undermines our quest for scientific knowledge. Homeopathy is frontier medicine. Because it works it shows us we are lacking in true understanding of how the universe works. That the current system of scientific verification labels homeopathy’s demonstrated efficacy as “placebo” only underscores how absurdly faulty and inadequate this verification system is.  Instead of denying homeopathy works and limiting our choices and possiblities we should embrace this knowledge and let it take us forward to open new possibilites.

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