Homeopathy4health

29 June 2013

Why hounding homeopaths is both batty and arrogant.

“Ultimately what Nightingale is attacking is the intelligence and judgement of people who are trying to find an effective way to heal themselves. If homeopathy, which even its most virulent critics cannot claim is remotely likely to be harmful, works for you, then someone needs to combine serious arrogance with real battiness to believe they have the right to stand in the way.”

 Body of Evidence

There is no shortage of villains in the world. Psychopaths – domestic and national – whalers, toxic waste dumpers, global eavesdroppers, billionaire tax avoiders and their army of accountants –  all well worth campaigning against with the aim of getting them banged up or forced to cough up.

There is also an infinite supply of people who are mildly irritating who misplace apostrophes, wear Croc shoes, do crochet, litter their sentences with “you know” and text using their middle finger.

However most of us can tell the difference. In fact mixing the two categories up is a pretty reliable indicator of a serious level of battiness . Picketing shops that sell Crocs or campaigning to forbid the sale of mobiles to clumsy texters puts you firmly in the mild-to-fairly-irritating and definitely-a-bit -potty class.

Step forward the Nightingale Collaboration, earnest and self-styled defender of rationalism, whose seriously potty members have got…

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27 February 2010

Who are the MPs who recommend the end of homeopathy in the NHS?

Voice of (Not So) Young Homeopathy:

“Stop funding NHS Homeopathy, MPs urge”. But who are these MPs?

The Science and Technology Committe report was ‘ratified by THREE MPs: TWO of whom were NOT EVEN PRESENT AT THE COMMITTEE MEETINGS  – and ONE of the two was NOT EVEN A MEMBER OF THE COMMITTEE when the hearings were held, and is due to stand down at the election in May this year.’

‘Evan Harris, associate of Sense About Science and it’s fair to say rabid anti-homeopathy campaigner, 1023 participant and ’senior counsel for the prosecution’.

Ian Cawsey – IT expert, who joined the S and T committee in October 2009, just a month before the meetings and yet chose not to attend the committee’s investigation – in fact was nowhere to be seen until the ratification meeting.

Doug Naysmith – an immunologist – did not join the S and T committee until January 2010 – so was not even on the committee until after all the hearings – yet was present for the ratification of the report.  And he is standing down at the next election.  Surely not?’

1 September 2008

Homeopathic Arnica as effective as the usual post-operative painkiller

Visit Dr Briffa’s blog for a report on recent research on the comparable effectiveness of homeopathic Arnica D4 (4X) post-operatively after bunion removal compared to the usual painkiller (diclofenac). It was decided that giving placebo would not be ethical.  Treatment with Arnica also gave fewer side-effects, greater mobility and was less costly.

References:

Karow J-H, et al. Efficacy of Arnica Montana D4 for healing of wounds after hallux valgus surgery compared to diclofenac. J Altern Comp Med 2008;14(1):17-25

Dr Briffa: ‘Homeopathic arnica found to be an effective post-operative aid’

1 August 2008

The disease didn’t kill her, the medication did….

How many of us have heard of this?

I have been away visiting family.  My mother-in-law told us that my brother-in-law’s friend’s 47 year old wife had recently died.  She had been suffering from breast cancer for several years but she died in her sleep from a heart attack.  This was blamed on her medication which had ‘weakened her heart’. A ‘side effect’ I expect.

According to Hering’s Law of Cure inappropriate medicine can suppress the vital system and weaken more internal and more vital organs.  People can live without breasts (men can be affected by breast cancer too); they can’t live without a heart.  I’ve commented on patterns and progress of disease before.

Ok, I know it’s not that simple, I didn’t know the lady concerned and how she was before she died, she might have died shortly anyway, but there was no indication of that in the story as told, her death came as a surprise.

5/8/08 – Updated to include links to information about the homeopathic approach to treating people with the symptoms of cancer:

Treating cancer with homeopathy

Dr Ramakrishnan – Cancer

26 June 2008

So much homeopathic research evidence should be made widely available ‘for the sake of scientific progression’

Dr Manjir Samanta-Laughton, author of ‘Punk Science’, attended the Scientific Research in Homeopathy Conference hosted by the Complementary Medical Association, held at the University of Westminster on June 18th 2008.

Here are the Complementary Medical Association’s links (some yet to be activated) to the presentations by Dr Alex Tournier, Karin Mont, Dr Rob Verkerk, Oliver Dowding, Claire Haresnape, Dr Lionel Milgrom and Stephen Gordon.

Dr Samanta-Laughtons response to the conference is on her Amazon blog:

I got invited to the most amazing conference last week as a VIP guest courtesy of Jayney Goddard and the Complementary Medical Association. Well it threw me for a loop! I had no idea there were so many RCT trials and evidence of homeopathy. Or that there were real scientific investigations into the actual mechanisms of homeopathy as eloquently demonstrated by Dr Lionel Milgrom, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemists. As this was the inaugural conference of its kind, I have one question – where have you been all my life? Why has this information been so hard to find? For the sake of scientific progression, this sort of information should be widely available.”

As she says in ‘Punk Science’: “The paradigm of science has come to a grinding halt. Some are complaining that there are no big discoveries to find. Although technology advances at a rapid pace, these are simply improvements on previous discoveries. There have been no radical changes in the way we see the universe for decades…until now!  The time is right for a change in science; for the next big discovery. This revolution will place consciousness at the very heart of an intelligent universe.”

15 June 2008

Homeopathy, Medicine, Science and Cognitive Dissonance

Given that more and more people globally are using homeopathy with 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 reporting that it is the number 2 medical system in the world (but you won’t find that report anywhere, it’s been buried), I can only conclude that the reason why conventional medics and scientists might genuinely (rather than wilfully because of love of science itself, self-interest or pharmaceutical allegiances taking priority over the health of patients) refuse to use and investigate homeopathy is because they are suffering from what is termed ‘cognitive dissonance’. www.learningandteaching.info describes it well:

Cognitive dissonance is a psychological phenomenon which refers to the discomfort felt at a discrepancy between what you already know or believe, and new information or interpretation. It therefore occurs when there is a need to accommodate new ideas, and it may be necessary for it to develop so that we become “open” to them. Neighbour (1992) makes the generation of appropriate dissonance into a major feature of tutorial (and other) teaching: he shows how to drive this kind of intellectual wedge between learners’ current beliefs and “reality”.  
Beyond this benign if uncomfortable aspect, however, dissonance can go “over the top”, leading to two interesting side-effects for learning:

  • if someone is called upon to learn something which contradicts what they already think they know — particularly if they are committed to that prior knowledge — they are likely to resist the new learning. Even Carl Rogers recognised this. Accommodation is more difficult than Assimilation, in Piaget’s terms.             
  • and—counter-intuitively, perhaps—if learning something has been difficult, uncomfortable, or even humiliating enough, people are less likely to concede that the content of what has been learned is useless, pointless or valueless. To do so would be to admit that one has been “had”, or “conned”.

Ordeal is therefore an effective — if spurious — way of conferring value on an educational (or any other) experience. “No pain, no gain”, as they say.

  • the more difficult it is to get on a course, the more participants are likely to value it and view it favourably regardless of its real quality.
  • ditto, the more expensive it is.
  • the more obscure and convoluted the subject, the more profound it must be. This has of course been exploited for years to persuade us of the existence of the emperor’s clothes, particularly by French “intellectuals” and “post-structuralists”. (I recently came across the wonderful phrase “intellectual flatulence” which perfectly describes such rubbish.)

It is not, however, so much the qualities of the course which are significant, as the amount of effort which participants have to put in: so the same qualification may well be valued more by the student who had to struggle for it than the student who sailed through.”

As medicine and science is very hard to get into and arduous to study, it seems to fulfill several of the above criteria.

12 June 2008

Homeopathy works – more scientific investigation merited

The Daily Mail reports:

“Homeopathy really does work and doctors should recognise its healing effects, say researchers.

A study found that allergy sufferers who were given homeopathic treatment were ten times more likely to be cured than those given a dummy pill instead.

Doctors should be more positive about the alternative medicine, which is the only complementary therapy available on the NHS, the researchers said.

Their study attempts to settle the controversy over homeopathic treatment, which critics say is not effective because of the tiny level of active substance used in most remedies.

It works on the principle that a substance which in large doses will cause the symptoms of an illness can be used in minute doses to relieve the same symptoms.

Critics argue that the active substance is so diluted that homeopathic remedies have no more effect than placebo or dummy treatment.

The study put homeopathy to the test in 50 patients suffering from nasal allergies. They were given either a homeopathic preparation or a placebo.

Each day for four weeks patients recruited from general practices and a hospital in London measured their nasal air flow and recorded symptoms such as blocked, runny or itchy nose, sneezing or eye irritation.

Both groups reported that they got better – but on average patients who received homeopathy had a 28 per cent improvement in nasal air flow compared with 3 per cent among those in the placebo group.

The study was carried out by doctors in Glasgow, led by Dr David Reilly of the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital, one of five specialist hospitals in Britain. He said the difference in results from the two treatments was statistically significant.

Dr Reilly said this was the fourth trial carried out by his hospital, all with similar results. In addition, there were positive findings in 70 per cent of a further 180 clinical trials.

‘I hope this will encourage doctors to examine the volume of evidence supporting homeopathy – they might be quite surprised at the positive outcome in many trials,’ he said.

He added that it would take consistent scientific investigation to persuade some doctors, but attitudes were changing.

About 20 per cent of doctors in Scotland have basic homeopathic training compared with one per cent 15 years ago.

‘It isn’t just about the remedies, which can be put to the test in trials, but about a greater holistic approach in encouraging self-healing and self-recovery.'”

Dr Bob Leckridge, president of the Faculty of Homeopathy – the body for doctors, vets, nurses and other health professionals – said: ‘This latest research builds on existing evidence that homeopathy works, something that hundreds of doctors and their patients have known for 200 years.’

26 May 2008

Vomiting bug, homeopathic remedies can help

My family have come down with a vomiting bug in the last week.  We haven’t been very indisposed but have felt under the weather before the nausea and vomiting came on.

The chills and aches responded well to Gelsemium.  My husband retired to bed for a while after taking this and was up and about a couple of hours later.  Sleeping after taking a homeopathic remedy is a good sign of recovery to come.

My daughter’s vomiting even after the smallest sips of water led me to prescribe Phosphorous and within hours she was eating and playing again.

I felt nauseous around midnight last night so I took Arsenicum.  I had felt achy and fluey a few days ago and took Gelsemium.  My energy was low yesterday and I have felt much better today.

So far my son is unaffected but I have the remedies to hand if he needs them.  Or I could try out the homeoprophylaxis method and give him Gelsemium to try and ward off the first stages, but it’s not a severe illness so there’s less need to do so. 

We have benefitted from over 10 years of constitutional prescribing which is why we have bounced back relatively easily compared to my memory of suffering similar illnesses in the past which lasted for several days.

P.S. I forgot to mention that I also tried Arsenicum  and Lycopodium (I don’t know why now, it was the middle of the night and it seemed like a good idea at the time!) with my daughter and they didn’t help.  She has however often responded to Phosphorous in an acute illness.

5th October 2008:

There is another vomiting bug doing the rounds.  Why do I say ‘another’ ? It’s because the symptoms are different.  Several people I know have woken with cramping pains in the morning and then have found it difficult to vomit and get relief.  Nausea has continued for several days.  Nux Vomica has helped for these symptoms.  H4H

More information here: http://www.hpathy.com/diseases/vomiting-symptoms-treatment-cure.asp

22 May 2008

‘There is a good and growing body of research showing beyond doubt that homeopathy is better than placebo’

Courtesy of HMC21:

 

There is a good and growing body of research showing beyond doubt that homeopathy is better than placebo; in fact so much, that this leaflet can only provide a minute selection. There is a list of sources of further, detailed information at the end of the summary. Different types of research have been used to study effectiveness of homeopathic remedies, and all have provided positive evidence, although in the case of RCTs not consistently.

 

Laboratory research                                                                         (including tests on animals and plants)

This research is important because there can be no placebo effect, but there are ethical problems when it involves subjecting animals to toxic substances and procedures. We include animal studies here and leave it to you to decide whether you want to use them or not.

·         Belon P, Cumps J, Ennis M, Mannaioni PF, Roberfroid M, Sainte-Laudy J, Wiegant FAC, ‘Histamine dilutions modulate basophil activation’, Inflamm. Res., 2004, 53:181-188. In a study including four research centres in Europe the effect of potentised high dilutions of histamine were confirmed. Researchers were able to document that these dilutions of histamine inhibit basophile degranulation. Results cannot be explained through molecular theories.

·         Brizzi, M. et al., ‘Biostatistical Insight into the As2O3 High Dilution Effects on the Rate and Variability of Wheat Seedling Growth’, Forsch Komplementärmed Klass Naturheilkd, 2005,12:277-283. Plant-based bioassays are suitable for basic research – lacking the placebo effect and ensuring large data samples for structured statistical analyses. A team of researchers at the University of Bologna carried out a structured experiment, performed blind over nine weeks, using wheat seeds previously stressed with a sub lethal dose of As2O3 (arsenic trioxide). The seeds were then treated with either potentized As2O3 (5x, 15x, 25x, 35x, 45x), potentized water (equivalent potencies) or diluted As2O3 (10-5, 10-15, 10-25, 10-35, 10-45). The working variable was the stem length, measured after 4, 5, 6 and 7 days. Results: Some potencies (As2O3 45x and water 45x) induced a relevant increase in seedling growth and/or a variability decrease. Diluted As2O3 did not induce any significant results. Conclusions: Confirmation of a significant stimulating effect on seedling growth and a significant decrease of variability was obtained with ultra-high dilutions at the 45x potency. The model of wheat germination and growth has been confirmed to be a good tool for basic research in homeopathy.

·         J. Bildet, M. Guyot, F. Bonini, et al., ‘Demonstrating the Effects of Apis mellifica and Apium virus Dilutions on Erythema Induced by U.V. Radiation on Guinea Pigs’,  Berlin Journal of Research in Homeopathy, 1990, 1:28. Albino guinea pigs were exposed to small doses of X-ray that cause reddening of the skin. Studies showed that Apis mellifica 7c or 9c had a protective effect and a roughly 50% curative effect on X-ray-induced redness of the skin. Apis mellifica (honeybee) is a homeopathic medicine for redness, swelling, and itching, common symptoms of bee venom.

·         Endler, P.C. et al., ‘The Effect of Highly Diluted Agitated Thyroxine on the Climbing Activity of Frogs’,  Veterinary and Human Toxicology, 1994, 36:56. Thyroxine 30x (thyroid hormone) was placed in the water of tadpoles. When compared to tadpoles who were given a placebo, the study showed morphogenesis of the tadpoles into frogs was slowed for those who were exposed to the homeopathic doses. Thyroid hormone in crude doses is known to speed up morphogenesis; it makes sense from a homeopathic perspective that homeopathic doses would slow it down. See doi:10.1016/j.homp.2007.11.002 at http://dx.doi.org for a further experiment in 2006 which confirmed this research.

 

Meta-analyses                          (the statistical amalgamation, summary, and review of previous quantitative research)

·         Linde, K. et al.,  ‘Are the clinical effects of homoeopathy placebo effects? A meta-analysis of placebo-controlled trials’, The Lancet, 1997, 350:834-843: Meta-analysis of 89 trials of homeopathic medicine versus placebo. Result: significantly in favour of homeopathy (OR 2,45 (95% CI 2,05-2,93)). This meta-analysis included 186 placebo-controlled studies of homeopathy published until mid-1996, of which data for analysis could be extracted from 89 studies. The main conclusion was that the results “were not compatible with the hypothesis that the effects of homeopathy are completely due to placebo”.

·         Homeopathic Medicine Research Group, Report to the European Commission directorate general XII: science, research and development, vol. 1 (short version), Brussels: European Commission, 1996:16-17. This is an overview of clinical research in homeopathy which identified 184 controlled clinical trials. They selected the highest quality randomized control trials, which included a total of 2617 patients for a meta-analysis. This meta-analysis resulted in a p-value of 0.000036 (which means that results are highly significant) indicating that homeopathy is more effective than placebo. The researchers concluded that the “hypothesis that homeopathy has no effect can be rejected with certainty”.

·         Ullman D, ‘Controlled Clinical Trials Evaluating the Homeopathic Treatment of People with Human Immunodeficiency Virus or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome’, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, vol. 9, no. 1, 2003, pp. 133–141. A review of placebo-controlled clinical trials using homeopathic medicines to treat people with AIDS or who are HIV-positive found five controlled clinical trials. Results showed statistically significant results in subjects with stage III AIDS, and specific physical, immunologic, neurologic, metabolic, and quality-of-life benefits, including improvements in lymphocyte counts and functions and reductions in HIV viral loads in patients receiving homeopathic treatment.

 

Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs)           (where one group of subjects is given the treatment being tested,

                                                                                       while a control group is given either a current treatment or a placebo)

Dozens of individual RCTs have been carried out, sometimes repeatedly, researching the effectiveness of homeopathy for a range of conditions. Many are covered in the meta-analyses discussed above.  See the websites below for details.

 

Non-controlled clinical study             (comparison of new or different types of treatments with current treatments)

·         Witt, C. et al., ‘Outcome and costs of homoeopathic and conventional treatment strategies: A comparative cohort study in patients with chronic disorders’, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2005, 13, pp. 79-86. Researchers at the Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, Charite University Medical Center, Berlin, Germany and the Institute for Statistics and Econometrics, Economics, University of Hamburg, Germany  conducted an evaluation of  the effectiveness of homeopathy versus conventional treatment in routine case. Patients with selected chronic diagnoses received either homeopathy or conventional treatment.  Severity of symptoms was assessed by patients and physicians on a scale of 0 to 10, at baseline, 6 and 12 months; costs were also compared. The analyses of 493 patients (315 adults, 178 children) indicated greater improvement in patients’ assessments after homoeopathic versus conventional treatment (adults: homeopathy from 5.7 to 3.2; conventional from 5.9 to 4.4; p = 0.002; children homeopathy from 5.1 to 2.6; conventional from 4.5 to 3.2). The conclusion was that patients having homeopathic treatment had a better outcome overall compared with patients on conventional treatment, whereas total costs in both groups were similar.

 

Clinical outcome survey              (secondary analysis of data collected routinely by clinical services, in order to

                                                        judge the effectiveness of interventions; allows the study of large databases of patients)

·         Spence DS, Thompson EA, Barron SJ, ‘Homeopathic Treatment for Chronic Disease: A 6-Year, University-Hospital Outpatient Observational Study’, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2005, 11:793-798. In one of the largest studies ever carried out, over 70% of the 6500 patients involved reported significant benefits from homeopathic treatment. The results come from a 6 year study of 6500 consecutive patients seen in the outpatient clinic of the Bristol Homeopathic Hospital in the UK, a UK National Health Service Hospital. Patients with a wide range of conditions such as eczema, asthma, migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, menopause, arthritis, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome were included in the study, all patients having been referred by their General Practitioner or a hospital specialist after unsuccessful conventional treatment.

 

Good Sources of Research Information:

·         Bianci, Prof. Ivo et.al. (2002) Homeopathy: The scientific proofs of its efficacy.  This excellent report has detailed information about many trials and comparative studies, including cost comparisons, and is based on international research. It can be downloaded as an e-book at: http://www.guna.it/eng/ricerca/Homeopathy%20the%20scientific%20proofs%20of%20efficacy.pdf

·         www.homeopathic.com is the website of Dana Ullman’s Homeopathic Educational Services and provides a wealth of good research information.

·         An Overview of Positive Homeopathy Research and Surveys; March 2007. This document has been produced by the European Network of Homeopathy Researchers and can be downloaded from the Research page of the Society of Homeopaths’ website (www.homeopathy-soh.org).

·         www.thehomeopath.org.uk is the website of homeopath Ralf Jeutter PhD RSHom, and has detailed research information.

 

Skeptics are advised to comment on their own blogs. I will accept links. H4H

7 May 2008

‘Is an alternative just the tonic?’ Northern Ireland’s ‘Get Well UK’ project

Although Homeopathy is under threat on the mainland, BBC Northern Ireland and The Belfast Telegraph  report on succesful homeopathic treatment in a trial of alternative therapies in two Northern Ireland GP clinics (Get Well UK):

BBC Northern Ireland: “Northern Ireland is said to use more prescription drugs than any other UK region. While tablets may alleviate symptoms, they can be addictive and have side effects. A BBC NI documentary looks at the alternatives:

Londonderry woman Frances Gillen was addicted to prescription drugs for more than 20 years. The legacy of the Troubles and raising five children by herself took its toll. After being caught up in gunfire, she slid into depression and refused to leave home for years.

It affected me… I stayed in the house for the guts of three years, or maybe more, without going out. The only place I would have gone to was to go over to the doctors,” she said.  “It got that I would not even wash myself. I got the TV brought up into my room. “I didn’t want to commit suicide but I really didn’t want to go on if this was life, if this was my life… the quicker the better, I could go.

However, her life was turned around when she tried homeopathy as part of a pilot scheme being run in two centres in Northern Ireland.  The Get Well Scheme allowed GPs to refer patients to complementary therapists, with the NHS paying for their treatment.

Within weeks, Frances felt her depression lift and she started to resume normal life; she also came off all prescription medication.

“Now I feel like 16 again… well 30,” she joked.

Belfast Telegraph: “Traditionally Northern Ireland has always used more prescription drugs than anywhere else in the UK. We’re fond of our medicines and we’re fond of going to our doctors. The doctor has always been at the centre of our society. Attitudes, however, are changing and for decades patients are now turning to ancient forms of medicine such as acupuncture and aromatherapy — among other therapies.

In 2006 the government controversially decided to do the same and announced a new initiative — the Get Well Scheme. The trial provided complementary therapies to patients within two health centres in Northern Ireland, the Holywood Arches Health Centre in east Belfast and the Shantallow Health Centre in Londonderry, with the treatment paid for by the NHS.

Its aim was to see if complementary therapies could help the health service be more cost-effective by making patients feel better without the use of expensive prescription drugs.

It was designed to help people with problems such as depression and anxiety.

Then we meet Anne McCloskey, a straight-talking GP from the Shantallow Health Centre whose view on complementary medicine differs but changes over time.

In part, her conversion is due to the case of one remarkable patient featured in the film.

Every GP, Anne McCloskey says, has a set of what is referred to as ‘heart-sink’ patients; those who make the GP’s heart sink as soon as they walk through the door. Some ‘heart-sinks’ will visit their GP as often as every second day and, no matter what the GP does, they continue to decline despite there being no clear cause of sickness.

Dr McCloskey’s ‘heart-sink’ patient was Frances Gillen. For over two decades Frances had been suffering from depression which she says began as a result of ‘Troubles-related’ anxiety coupled by the stress of bringing up a large family.

In the film she recalls an incident in which she was almost hit by gunfire and, as a result, refused to leave the house for a number of years.

Frances became heavily dependent on prescription drugs and was one of the first patients Dr McCloskey referred to the Get Well Scheme and her subsequent story is a success.” 

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