“the Government should not endorse the use of placebo treatments”

I’m still not aware of any response from the NI Health Minister to the report on Peter Hain’s alternative remedy clinical trial scam self-assessing pilot scheme administered by Get Well UK – that report sits frozen in time on the departmental website. Still no sign of embarrassment from the BBC about the propaganda they broadcast on behalf of that scheme either. But the Commons Science and Technology Committee has just published a report which “concludes that the NHS should cease funding homeopathy.” The report can also be read here. As Martin Robbins writes in The Guardian

The select committee report has brutally inflicted the 21st, 20th and 19th centuries on this 18th century magic ritual, and under inspection it has fallen apart.

And, as Edzard Ernst points out

But what about patients’ experience? What about my own experience as a patient and later as a clinician? In fact, tonnes of data shows that people get better after seeing a homeopath. This is why homeopaths are adamant that their treatments work. Can this wealth of experience be overruled by scientific evidence?

When one begins to analyse this contradiction rationally it very quickly dissolves into thin air. The empathic encounter with a homeopath, the expectation of the patient, the natural history of the disease and many other factors all provide ample explanation for the fact that patients can improve even when they receive placebos.

This leads to the vexatious question: what is wrong with giving placebos to patients as long as they help? The answer, I’m afraid, is a lot. This strategy would mean not telling the truth to patients and thus depriving them of fully informed consent. This paternalistic approach of years gone by is now considered unethical.

From the report’s Conclusions and Recommendations [some added emphasis throughout]

13. We regret that advocates of homeopathy, including in their submissions to our inquiry, choose to rely on, and promulgate, selective approaches to the treatment of the evidence base as this risks confusing or misleading the public, the media and policy-makers. (Paragraph 73)

14. There has been enough testing of homeopathy and plenty of evidence showing that it is not efficacious. Competition for research funding is fierce and we cannot see how further research on the efficacy of homeopathy is justified in the face of competing priorities. (Paragraph 77)

15. It is also unethical to enter patients into trials to answer questions that have been settled already. Given the different position on this important question between the Minister and his Chief Scientist, we recommend that the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor John Beddington, investigate whether ministers are receiving effective advice and publish his own advice on this question. (Paragraph 78)

16. We do not doubt that homeopathy makes some patients feel better. However, patient satisfaction can occur through a placebo effect alone and therefore does not prove the efficacy of homeopathic interventions. (Paragraph 82)

17. We recommend that the Department of Health circulate NHS West Kent’s review of the commissioning of homeopathy to those PCTs with homeopathic hospitals within their areas. It should recommend that they also conduct reviews as a matter of urgency, to determine whether spending money on homeopathy is cost effective in the context of competing priorities. (Paragraph 86)

Should NICE evaluate homeopathy?

18. We accept that NICE has a large queue of drugs to evaluate and that it may have greater priorities than evaluating homeopathy. However, we cannot understand why the lack of an evidence base for homeopathy might prevent NICE evaluating it but not prevent the NHS spending money on it. This position is not logical. (Paragraph 90)

Homeopathy on the NHS

19. When doctors prescribe placebos, they risk damaging the trust that exists between them and their patients. (Paragraph 97)

20. For patient choice to be real choice, patients must be adequately informed to understand the implications of treatments. For homeopathy this would certainly require an explanation that homeopathy is a placebo. When this is not done, patient choice is meaningless. When it is done, the effectiveness of the placebo—that is, homeopathy—may be diminished. We argue that the provision of homeopathy on the NHS, in effect, diminishes, not increases, informed patient choice. (Paragraph 101)

21. We recommend that if personal health budgets proceed beyond the pilot stage the Government should not allow patients to buy non-evidence-based treatments such as homeopathy with public money. (Paragraph 104)

22. When the NHS funds homeopathy, it endorses it. Since the NHS Constitution explicitly gives people the right to expect that decisions on the funding of drugs and treatments are made “following a proper consideration of the evidence”, patients may reasonably form the view that homeopathy is an evidence-based treatment. (Paragraph 109)

23. The Government should stop allowing the funding of homeopathy on the NHS. (Paragraph 110)

24. We conclude that placebos should not be routinely prescribed on the NHS. The funding of homeopathic hospitals—hospitals that specialise in the administration of placebos—should not continue, and NHS doctors should not refer patients to homeopaths. (Paragraph 111)

Product Licences of Right

25. We are concerned that homeopathic products were, and continued to be, exempted from the requirement for evidence of efficacy and have been allowed to continue holding Product Licences of Right. We recommend that no PLRs for homeopathic products are renewed beyond 2013. (Paragraph 121)

The evidence check: licensing

26. We conclude that the MHRA should seek evidence of efficacy to the same standard for all the products examined for licensing which make medical claims and we recommend that the MHRA remove all references to homeopathic provings from its guidance other than to make it clear that they are not evidence of efficacy. (Paragraph 128)

27. We consider that the MHRA’s consultation, which led to the introduction of the NRS, was flawed and we remain unconvinced that the NRS was designed with a public health rationale. (Paragraph 135)

28. We fail to see why the label test design should be acceptable to the MHRA given that, first, it considers that homeopathic products have no effect beyond placebo and, second, Arnica Montana 30C contains no active ingredient and there is no scientific evidence that it has been demonstrated to be efficacious. We conclude that the user-testing of the Arnica Montana 30C label was poorly designed with parts of the test actively misleading participants. In our view the MHRA’s testing of the public’s understanding of the labelling of homeopathic products is defective. (Paragraph 140)

29. If the MHRA is to continue to regulate the labelling of homeopathic products, which we do not support, we recommend that the tests are redesigned to ensure and demonstrate through user testing that participants clearly understand that the products contain no active ingredients and are unsupported by evidence of efficacy, and the labelling should not mention symptoms, unless the same standard of evidence of efficacy used to assess conventional medicines has been met. (Paragraph 141)

And

Conclusions on the licensing regimes

32. It is unacceptable for the MHRA to license placebo products—in this case sugar pills—conferring upon them some of the status of medicines. Even if medical claims on labels are prohibited, the MHRA’s licensing itself lends direct credibility to a product. Licensing paves the way for retail in pharmacies and consequently the patient’s view of the credibility of homeopathy may be further enhanced. We conclude that it is time to break this chain and, as the licensing regimes operated by the MHRA fail the Evidence Check, the MHRA should withdraw its discrete licensing schemes for homeopathic products. (Paragraph 152)

Overall conclusion

33. By providing homeopathy on the NHS and allowing MHRA licensing of products which subsequently appear on pharmacy shelves, the Government runs the risk of endorsing homeopathy as an efficacious system of medicine. To maintain patient trust, choice and safety, the Government should not endorse the use of placebo treatments, including homeopathy. Homeopathy should not be funded on the NHS and the MHRA should stop licensing homeopathic products. (Paragraph 157) [added emphasis]

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  • granni trixie

    Whether NHS ought to fund homeophathy remedies is a separate debate, given scarce resources,the medical evidence and risks,according to evidence above .

    However, although no expert, I firmly believe that what you eat has quite an impact on your health, fresh herbs etc plus look at the healing power of allo vera plants rubbed on blemishes on your skin can work wonders before your very eyes.

    Also doctors totally neglect the condition, Fibriomyalgia (a chronic fatigue,ME like condition and have nothing at all to offer except pain relief in extreme cases,which can devastating). Yet I and several people I know find that including certain foods in your diet to supplement deficient vitamins,minerals works to improve the condition, incrementally.

    It seems commonsense to me that ‘natural’ remedies are to be welcomed and not written off just because it may not be appropriate for NHS to offer. ie throwing out baby with bathwater.

  • jtwo

    “I firmly believe that what you eat has quite an impact on your health”

    Well yes – if you eat nothing but burgers, doughnuts and crisps you can expect obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

    Agreed, there’s nothing wrong with natural remedies so long as they demonstrate their efficacy through double blind randomized controlled trialling.

    The problem with homeopathy is that it no active ingredients in it at all.

  • Driftwood

    Ben Goldacre has been writing on this guff for ages.

    http://www.badscience.net/category/complementary-medicine/homeopathy/

    The gullible and worried well are easy prey for the snake oil merchants.

  • granni trixie

    How patronising – ‘guff’, ‘gullible’ or ‘easy prey’ because you support different ways to health – which you find works with complicated conditions for instance?

    Althugh very conscious of possibilities of blaceboo effects, I am nevertheless convinced that some natural ways are the best – not talking about magic bullet here but long term strategies to ensure you have all necessary vitimins/minerals.

    But then Im talking to rude, nonbelievers here not open to things they do not know.

  • jtwo

    “Long term strategies to ensure you have all necessary vitimins/minerals.”

    You mean eating a low fat diet with plenty of fruit and veg? Sounds entirely sensible to me.

  • Driftwood

    Wise up granni trixie

    This just about sums you up (and many like minded)

    http://www.badscience.net/2007/11/a-kind-of-magic/#more-578

    Quack quack

  • Undertook some research into alternative meds some years ago. 40% rule: that a placebo will have a positive effect on around 40% of any patient so long as they believe that taking the ‘pill’ is a positive action to address a desired outcome. Won’t cure, but may well result in alleviation of symptoms. The body/mind has some capacity for self-healing on which more study would be interesting. Homeopathy falls into this, and yes, as it addresses the whole, then very likely in many cases there will be an overall improvement in health. If you exercise/eat well then there is reduced likelihood of heart disease etc.

    One interesting piece of research was that following a seven day (controlled) fast, a) change of diet was more possible b) that that change was more likely to be sustained.

  • Pete Baker

    Play the ball, guys.

    Not each other.

  • pauljames

    Some confusion here GT, caused by the the use of the term Homoeopathy as an alternative and all encompassing term for all “natural” medicines. Let each treatment be judged individually in proper scientific testing. However the withholding of such information from patients to promote a placebo effect is morally and ethically abhorrent.
    Along with Pete I eagerly await the forthcoming in depth BBC NI “investigation” into the CSTC Report.

  • jtwo

    If you think people in BBC News weren’t horrified by what their general programmes colleagues cooked-up you’d be very much mistaken.

  • wild turkey

    a brief history of quackery

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quackery

    … hmmm fire and brimstone sales pitches figure prominently.

    question to moderator. can one comment on personal experiences of some of the homoepathic snake oil salesmen in the greater belfast area? or do uk libel laws forbid this.

  • Jud

    If it does not pass a double blind clinical trial it should not be paid for under public funds.
    Scientific evidence should drive public policy – not feel good opinions.

    What people choose to do after that is their own business.

    Now for the Chiropractors…

  • the future is bright the future is orange

    as mentioned above the placebo effect of these things is HUGE!!! consequently, if we can make generic homepathic meds (ie water) then we can dispense meds very very cheaply!!! a lot cheaper than antidepressants and with a LOT less side effects!!!!!
    i.e. for people with a mild form of a disease then these agents may be a cheap way of giving them a placebo boost 🙂

  • joeCanuck

    Our Provincial Government used to pay a portion of chiropractic “treatments” but stopped a few years ago since there was no independent proven benefit.

  • The placebo effect is real. The trick for researchers now is to find out its moleclar basis and use that knowledge to help patients. I think I remember reading recently that serotonin and/or serotonin receptors were involved in causing the effect.
    In any case, if “alternative therapies” were subjected to the same level of testing as other pharmaceuticals and if they were found to work, they would enter the realm of conventional medicine. I have no problem with people taking homeopathic mixtures, but i do object to the taxpayer having to fork out for unproven drugs which are administered by unregulated and unqualified quacks.

  • Fabianus

    Jud,

    “Now for the Chiropractors… ”

    And right after, the chaplains. Does the NHS still bung them £40m of taxpayer’s money each year?

    Money that could be spent on nurses and doctors?

    BTW, I thought all medicines contain natural ingredients, or do some have a supernatural origin?

  • Comrade Stalin

    granni:

    Also doctors totally neglect the condition, Fibriomyalgia

    A lot of doctors don’t think it’s real. From Wikipedia :

    Fibromyalgia is considered a controversial diagnosis, lacking scientific consensus as to its cause.[11] Many members of the medical community do not consider fibromyalgia a disease because of a lack of abnormalities on physical examination and the absence of objective diagnostic tests.[11][12]

    Most of the people I’ve encountered or heard of who claim to have this are either overweight (or obese), and it’s typically self-diagnosed. That’s not very scientific, I accept, but it’s silly to invent imaginary names for the symptoms caused by bad diet and lack of exercise.

    It seems commonsense to me that ‘natural’ remedies are to be welcomed and not written off just because it may not be appropriate for NHS to offer. ie throwing out baby with bathwater.

    It’s not commonsense at all – in fact it is highly objectionable – for the NHS to waste money on treatments that don’t work. Homoeopathy does not work. It is flim flam, junk science. It’s up there with the arch-fake Uri Geller and his spoon-bending, or any one of those phone-in “psychics” you care to name. If you pay money for this, you’re being taken for a ride by people who are laughing at you as soon as your back is turned.

    not talking about magic bullet here but long term strategies to ensure you have all necessary vitimins/minerals.

    Take a multivitamin every day. Bought in bulk, they cost less than a penny each. You’re done. Vitamins aren’t, by the way, a done deal either. There’s still a lot of work being done on the effacy of Vitamin C, with claims and counter claims abound. And some vitamins, eg B, can be dangerous in quantity.

    Keep your bullshit-o-meter well primed.

  • tuatha

    I’m more concerned about ‘iatrogenic’ conditions – ie those caused by doctors and modern hospitals – which some NHS studies have shown make up 40% of ‘complications’ to otherwise relatively routine treatments. That is actively caused
    This does not include Golden Staph or the Flesh Eating Bug so beloved of the tabloids which evolved in asepsis but run riot when that environment is compromised, eg in budget constrained, poorly maintained & understaffed institutions.
    If a placebo works, it works, if multi million quid treatments kill, yer just as dead as if you’d been drinking spring water – should you be so fortunate.

  • wee buns

    This latest attempt to discredit homeopathy by reducing it’s successes to a placebo effect emanates from a so called medical system that
    fails to recognise any method, principles or laws that do not conform to it’s own self invented & speculative definition of ‘scientific’

    More relevant, it currently feels it’s pecuniary interests to be threatened by the growing lack of public confidence in it’s lamentable record in the effective treatment of disease. Which contrary to curing, it insists on, by it’s stupid and lazy abuse of crude drugging in creating new monster strains.

    The missing rational in their brilliantly thought out argument of placebo effect: homeopathy elicits curative results on babies, animals & those who have lost consciousness. as well as on the insane, the sceptic and the drunk.

    But they shouldn’t take my word for it, as it can be easily demonstrated (as if any one of those natural philosophers was actually interested) that homeopathic preparations are potent by the administering of six or ten doses (in other words an overdose) of Arsenicum or Nitric Acid. This would dispel in a hurry any notion of placebo, by leaving some nice holes in the stomach lining.

    Congratulations to the mainstream medical sect for coming up with yet Another Baseless Hypothesis.

  • If you buy a homeopathic “medicine” in Boots, you will find on the label something like 30C. That means a poison has been diluted 1:100 30 times over. So there will be one molecule of the poison in 100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 molecules of water. Unless you are going to drink litres and litres of the stuff, you are only drinking distilled water. If you buy a pill, you are buying sugar, with a drop or two of distilled water put on it.

    It is [b]not[/b] the same as a herbal medicine – at least that can have some active ingredient.

    In the 18th century, doctors prescribed large doses of some really nasty substances, that often killed patients. At that time, the homeopaths idea of reducing the dosage was a good thing. Indeed, many medicines work better at lower doses, such as vaccines which stimulate the immune system in low doses (you could say that vaccines are the homeopathic medicines that work – but people who take homeopathic medicines are often the same as those who refuse to take vaccines).

    However, the homeopaths extropolated this low dose idea to 1/infinity. That is where they went wrong, and how they have ended up selling bottles of pure water or sugar pills.

    Incidentally, a lot of people took an overdose of homeopathic medicines at 10:23 on 30th January – see http://www.1023.org.uk/the-1023-overdose-event.php

  • wee buns

    Davenman
    with regards to the link, the fact that people took bottles of remedies at 30c proves nothing except that perhaps the potency and/or brand is ineffective. Most homeopaths do not use over the counter 30c potencies from Boots, which are sold because they are considered to be relatively harmless.

    While it’s true that homeopathic remedies are diluted to below Avogadro’s number, you have not bothered to expalin how this renders them ineffective.

    Homeopathic methods are NOT the same as vaccines, the later being a form of isopathy.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The missing rational in their brilliantly thought out argument of placebo effect: homeopathy elicits curative results on babies, animals & those who have lost consciousness. as well as on the insane, the sceptic and the drunk.

    I’m glad to hear it. Please show me the peer-reviewed study which contains the evidence.

    But they shouldn’t take my word for it, as it can be easily demonstrated (as if any one of those natural philosophers was actually interested) that homeopathic preparations are potent by the administering of six or ten doses (in other words an overdose) of Arsenicum or Nitric Acid. This would dispel in a hurry any notion of placebo, by leaving some nice holes in the stomach lining.

    How does this prove that minute dosages of said substances have any effect on disease ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    While it’s true that homeopathic remedies are diluted to below Avogadro’s number, you have not bothered to expalin how this renders them ineffective.

    The point is that there is no evidence that they are effective in the first place. You can’t invent a crazy theory, pass it off as credible, and then require that someone else prove it wrong.

  • wee buns

    Comrade Stalin
    There is no lack of meticulously recorded written and clinical evidence, (200+ yrs worth) but apparently it isn’t ‘scientific’. Who and what exactly do you mean by ‘peer –reviewed’ and what constitutes ‘evidence’?

    You asked ‘How does this prove that minute dosages of said substances have any effect on disease?’

    It is by the method of a homeopathic ‘proving’ whereby the said substance (diluted and triturated according to strict conditions) is ingested by a healthy individual, then the effects of changes to the health are carefully observed and recorded, repeatedly, thus building up a Materia Medica. It’s by the matching of these artificially produced symptoms to real disease symptoms in the sick, homeopathy obtains cure through the principle of Similia Similibus Currenter; Like Cures Like.

    What part of the above is ‘crazy’?
    What part is a ‘theory?’

  • wee buns

    Work by David Reilly for the Lancet as published on the site of Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital from their academic department.

    http://www.adhom.com/adh_download/EVIDENCE_9.0_Sept_06.pdf

    Note this remark from the editors of the Lancet:
    “either there is something amiss with the clinical trial as conventionally conducted, or the effects of homoeopathic immunotherapy
    differ from those of placebo…carefully done work of this sort should not be denied the attention of Lancet readers.”

    Nor to Slugger readers.
    Aude Sapere: Dare to Know.

  • Driftwood

    Glasgow Homeopathic ‘Hospital’ must be worried, as indeed this whole pseudotreatment industry.

    The Royal London Homeopathic Hospital is probably the most famous state funded homeopathy clinic in the world. Its closure will be a bitter blow to all supporters of this quackery.

    However, it will be a very good thing to all those subjected to quack medicine in India and Africa where homeopaths use the UK state funding of homeopathy as an endorsement for their own dangerous policies and practices. This is a good day for the health of the poor and exploited.

    This will send shock waves through the manufacturers of sugar pills. My guess is that this report is a far more deeply reaching conclusion that they were expecting.

  • wee buns

    This article was put together by Australian homeopath Robert Medhurst and cites dozens of properly sourced references for clinical trials both human and veternary.

    http://www.otherhealth.com/homeopathy-list-discussion/11080-answers-questions-radio-announcer-here-oz.html

    ‘unlike pharmaceuticals, homoeopathic medicines in most cases can’t be patented, and there’s little incentive to invest large amounts of money in clinical trials if the product sponsors can’t monopolise the results.’

    A clue as to the incentives of those who seek to destroy the integrity of the world’s second largest mode of medical pratcice.

    This is 200 year Old Hat.

  • wee buns

    Driftwood
    it will have little impact overall on the survival of homeopathy, and sadly even less bearing on the mainstream medical sect’s lamentable record of speculative & dangerous treatment. It may serve temporarily to make the GlaxoSmithKlin’s of this world richer & the guillable & innocent, more vunerable.
    As for the intellectualy dishonest who have put forward no basis for their accusations of quakery; I would not be inclined to give the time of day.

  • Rory Carr

    In fact, tonnes of data shows that people get better after seeing a homeopath. – Edzard Ernst

    Yes and tonnes(?) of people get better after seeing their barman, or a grazing sheep, or simply scratching their arse, or doing absolutely fuck all. I always perk up any time I watch that scene from From Dusk Till Dawn where Selma Hayek does the snake dance. Any chance of me having a session with Selma on the National Health? Fat chance! More likely I’d get Marge Simpson’s sister Selma what with this post-code lottery provision of health service.

    People become unwell and recover all the time without any intervention whatsoever.

    Which I suppose in a way makes a skewed case for homeopathy since that is exactly what it amounts to – no intervention whatsoever. If, for example, one buys a homeopathic remedy from Boot’s then the quantity of so-called active ingredient in the distillation is so infitessimal that it cannot in fact be detected so that one may as well have a sip of water, in fact one would probably be better off having a sip of water, certainly financially better off.

  • wee buns

    Rory
    if indeed there is no impact from homeopathic medicines…then why all the dramatics do you reckon?

    AT the risk of repeating myself, if you would like to sample a 200c dose of Arsenicum I shall happily post it. When taken in repetition, the results will be entirely detectable; eg. an intense purging from both ends.

    Anyone bothered to read the research will see that homeopathic hospitals end up with patients who have already been unsucessfully treated by mainstream medics, indeed most homeopathic practices spend a alot of time sorting out their balls-upped cases.

  • jtwo

    “‘unlike pharmaceuticals, homoeopathic medicines in most cases can’t be patented, and there’s little incentive to invest large amounts of money in clinical trials if the product sponsors can’t monopolise the results.’

    A clue as to the incentives of those who seek to destroy the integrity of the world’s second largest mode of medical pratcice.”

    Presumably the righteous homeopaths are giving the stuff away from their Lisburn Road consulting rooms?

  • Driftwood

    if you would like to sample a 200c dose of Arsenicum I shall happily post it.
    I will quite happily take it in front of witnesses (from the James Randi Foundation)or Ben Goldacre from the Guardian.

    Indeed many protestors, on 30 January this year took part in a mass overdose outside Boots to show this sham for what it is.

    Wee buns, are you a in the homeopathy business yourself?

  • Driftwood

    Rory Carr
    One of the commentors on this thread

    http://www.richarddawkins.net/articles/5139

    illustrates your point..

    In homeopathic hangover remedies, the water molecules actually arrange themselves into tiny Bloody Marys, complete with celery sticks and cocktail napkins.

    interesting remark in the article:

    every pint of water you drink contains at least one molecule that passed through the bladder of Oliver Cromwell (so it goes..)

  • wee buns

    DriftW
    Am deeply mystified as to why you mention scientific illiterate & medical industry propagandist Goldenacre to shore up your position…
    Hahnemannian Homeopathy is my specific area of interest but not a business as such.

    If/When you boys have scraped together a quarter-baked argument give us a shout.

  • jtwo

    Hanhnemannian Homeopathy? I’m fond of a bit of the auld blood-letting and trepanning myself.

    Anyways I suspect we’re heading towards this territory.

    http://xkcd.com/386/

  • Rory Carr

    Wee Buns very kindly offers to send me a “…sample [of] 200c dose of Arsenicum [which]…
    when taken in repetition, the results will be entirely detectable; eg. an intense purging from both ends.”

    I must thank him but regretfully decline as I have already suffered the effects of ” an intense purging from both ends” after a night out in Yates’s Wine Lodge in Luton. This is an experience I have no wish to repeat but I am glad that Wee Buns has indicated that it was in all likliehood a result of the scrumpy being laced with Arsenicum.

    Next time I’ll play safe and stick with the whiskey.

  • If homeopathy worked, the scientific literature would be full of papers on the matter. If homeopathy really had a pharmacological effect, it would be demonstrable and repeatable. The mainstream pharma companies would also be producing many homeopathic therapies and there would be hundreds of granted patents on homeopathy. A patent is granted if the inventor is able to show that his invention is new and that it “does what it says on the tin”. To do this, he need not conduct expensive clinical trials in humans to provide proof, he could, for example produce data from rodent experiments.
    Anecdotal accounts of the efficacy of homeopathy do not constitute evidence.

  • tuatha

    An axiom that applies is “take this potion/spell/pill/elixir for seven days and you’ll be cured. If you don’t, it’ll be week before you get better.

  • Turgon

    Wee buns,
    Since you seem to be the self appointed chief supporter of homeopathy could you answer this:

    If homeopathy is so effective I would be fascinated to hear the homeopathic treatment of bacterial mengitis.

    Next maybe the homeopathic treatment for an acute heart attack

    Then maybe the homeopathic treatment of appendicitis.

    The reality is that homeopathy is only “useful” for illnesses which are remitting / relapsing (ie get better or worse by themselves). Hence, when people take homeopathic remedies and get better it is an example of the logical fallacy: post hoc ergo propter hoc.

  • Reader

    wee buns: This is 200 year Old Hat.
    A lot can happen in 200 years. The earth has got 10 billion years older, for a start.

  • Driftwood

    One could add our own homepathic remedy.

    That political placebo called Stormont.

    No evidence whatsoever it works or has any effect. Costs a lot of money to try and make people feel better. Makes outlandish claims about its effectiveness. Depends on the British taxpayer to fund its sugar and water ‘remedies’.
    Pretends to offer a solution to made up ‘illnesses’ and relies on real medicine (Westminster)to deal with anything substantial.
    We could rename wee buns’ medicine ‘Arsecum’ or whatever ‘Stormontcum’ as a cure for..well whatever you want. How would we make it though?

  • wee buns

    Ha ha DrWood, very good: ‘that political placebo called Stormont’ indeed the most interesting analogy you have drawn on this issue to date.

    However alas having posted the relevant report back @ 25 and not a soul expunged it’s claims, the ‘homeopathy = placebo’ argument stands as unreconstructed twaddle.

    I must insist that there exists a closer parallel between our beloved Armani clad leaders and the mainstream medical elite. They are disgustingly well paid for being full of insolent pride & stereotyped dogmas; their methods cannot be questioned without accusations of treachery & quackery, followed by the threat to burn the castle down if they don’t get to dictate the rules of the game…
    Don’t ask me why people keep voting for them/taking their life destroying drugs.

  • wee buns

    Bavarian Orange Order
    ‘If homeopathy worked, the scientific literature would be full of papers on the matter.’
    Want to start with Lancet article @25?
    ‘If homeopathy really had a pharmacological effect, it would be demonstrable and repeatable.’
    It is both.
    ‘The mainstream pharma companies would also be producing many homeopathic therapies and there would be hundreds of granted patents on homeopathy.’
    There is only one set of homeopathic principles which I do not see how would be possible to patent, as the ‘inventor’ Hahnnemann is dead.
    ‘A patent is granted if the inventor is able to show that his invention is new and that it
    what it says on the tin”.
    Homeopathy does exactly ‘what it says on the tin’ however it is not a ‘one size fits all’ system and therefore relies heavily on the skill of the prescriber.
    ‘To do this, he need not conduct expensive clinical trials in humans to provide proof, he could, for example produce data from rodent experiments.’
    No disservice to rats but they are not as complex as (most) humans & ‘provings’ on rats would produce rather less beneficial information.

  • wee buns

    Turgon
    ‘If homeopathy is so effective I would be fascinated to hear the homeopathic treatment of bacterial mengitis.’

    Indeed.
    Violent, sudden and savage inflammation of the brain is a property of Belladonna (nightshade) a powerful medicine capable of producing excessively violent headaches, convulsions, a blood-red face, and dilated pupils. Every household with children should have this, incase. Other curative remedies are Aconite, Bryonia, Helleborus, depending on the symptoms.
    Heart attacks fall under the sphere of drugs such as Digitalis, Cratagus, Caffine.

    Appendix inflammation, again Belladonna or Bryonia may be indicated, depending on the exact symptoms.

    If you are interested in Materia Medica I recommend T.F.Allen’s Handbook, but be warned it is very hefty (not a handbook), if not excellent reading.

    Added to that I hope it is obvious to readers that homeopathy does claim all within it’s domain & it may be necessary to call upon the medical profession as the body’s plumbers, scaffolders, bone menders & amputators. If only they adhered to what they do best.

  • wee buns

    Reader
    ‘A lot can happen in 200 years.’ The ‘old school’ medical chiefs boast that for two and a half millennium it has processed the art of removing all disease & that it alone effects cures, so equally, a lot can stay the same.

  • Wee buns: excise the cutting and pasting, hopefully it will be easy for us both to follow…
    ‘If homeopathy worked, the scientific literature would be full of papers on the matter.’
    Want to start with Lancet article @25?
    —–that was but one paper. you don´t mention more. Most scientists hopefully have an open mind and the good thing about the Lancet paper is that it describes some experiments in sufficient detail which will allow others to repeat the experments. The whole thing about “theories” is that they should be based upon observation ad they should be testable. Evolution fulfills the first criterion, but not the second. A theory relating to a medicament should fulfill both and while homeopathy should in theory be testable, there is scant evidence for its efficacy.
    ———————————-
    ‘If homeopathy really had a pharmacological effect, it would be demonstrable and repeatable.’
    It is both.
    ‘The mainstream pharma companies would also be producing many homeopathic therapies and there would be hundreds of granted patents on homeopathy.’
    There is only one set of homeopathic principles which I do not see how would be possible to patent, as the ‘inventor’ Hahnnemann is dead.
    ———-the principles of vaccination are centuries old and still vaccines are being patented. This point of yours is irrelevant.
    —————————-

    ‘A patent is granted if the inventor is able to show that his invention is new and that it
    what it says on the tin”.
    Homeopathy does exactly ‘what it says on the tin’ however it is not a ‘one size fits all’ system and therefore relies heavily on the skill of the prescriber.
    ———–same thing with conventional medicine. Age, gender, severity of diease, weight etc all influence what dose or medicine a regular doctor may give the patient. This has noting to do with patents. A patent is given to a new medicine which has been shown to have some kind of beneficial effect, either in the test tube, rodents or patients.
    ————————-
    ‘To do this, he need not conduct expensive clinical trials in humans to provide proof, he could, for example produce data from rodent experiments.’
    No disservice to rats but they are not as complex as (most) humans & ‘provings’ on rats would produce rather less beneficial information.
    ——-Absolutely not true. Rodents are just as complex as us, believe it or not. Sometimes, they do not provide accurate information, but you assert that homeopathy works – surely it would be possible, if homeopathy is so effective to be able to prove it given the relative inexpense of rodent experiments?
    I am sure it has been tried, but the reason we have not heard much about it is because the investigators were not able to show any beneficial effect which they could ascribe to homeopathy.
    Just to repeat – if homeopathy were real, then big pharma would patent the hell out of it and push it onto the market – thats a lot of profit for selling water. The theory should be easy to prove in controlled experiments, it has not been proven and it is a sham.

  • wee buns

    BOO
    you, at least, have not forsaken this place…

    ‘If homeopathy worked, the scientific literature would be full of papers on the matter.’
    Want to start with Lancet article @25?
    ——-that was but one paper. you don´t mention more. Most scientists hopefully have an open mind and the good thing about the Lancet paper is that it describes some experiments in sufficient detail which will allow others to repeat the experments. The whole thing about “theories” is that they should be based upon observation ad they should be testable. Evolution fulfills the first criterion, but not the second. A theory relating to a medicament should fulfill both and while homeopathy should in theory be testable, there is scant evidence for its efficacy.
    ++++
    An epic (though understandable) assumption on your part: the scientific community readily embraces new ideas. History is replete with theories that only become accepted after a long and protracted uphill battle (Darwin is but one example). German physicist Max Planck (1858–1947) once observed, “[a] new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” Homeopathy IS an observation-based medicine, while Allopathy on the whole, is not. By demanding further studies than the provided article @25 I can only conclude you, like most in the scientific community, are reluctant to consider it’s contents i.e. homeopathy is not placebo effect.
    ———————–
    ‘If homeopathy really had a pharmacological effect, it would be demonstrable and repeatable.’
    It is both.
    ‘The mainstream pharma companies would also be producing many homeopathic therapies and there would be hundreds of granted patents on homeopathy.’
    There is only one set of homeopathic principles which I do not see how would be possible to patent, as the ‘inventor’ Hahnnemann is dead.
    —————the principles of vaccination are centuries old and still vaccines are being patented. This point of yours is irrelevant.
    ++++I was responding to your suggestion that many ‘ homeopathic therapies’ would be patented. The remedies themselves cannot be patented as they are made from water and single substances derived from nature, with emphasis on the single, just as you could not patent an apple, a mineral or a stream. It was Hahnemann and he alone who devised their method of preparation as well as the principles. Vaccination is entirely different kettle of fish, as Jenner’s original discovery has been adapted to many variations & combinations of ingredients. Pharma companies HAVE meddled in combinations of homeopathic preparations, which have been patented & are on the market & advertised as ‘Homeopathy’ but this is a false claim & bastardisation.

  • wee buns

    Cont’d..
    ‘A patent is granted if the inventor is able to show that his invention is new and that it
    what it says on the tin”.
    Homeopathy does exactly ‘what it says on the tin’ however it is not a ‘one size fits all’ system and therefore relies heavily on the skill of the prescriber.
    —————-same thing with conventional medicine. Age, gender, severity of disease, weight etc all influence what dose or medicine a regular doctor may give the patient. This has noting to do with patents. A patent is given to a new medicine which has been shown to have some kind of beneficial effect, either in the test tube, rodents or patients.
    ++++ Two points. The contrast between homeopathy & allopathy when it comes to individualising in prescribing is absolutely massive, with homeopathy far outweighing conventional medicine in precision. Disease categories are not used in homeopathic prescribing, but symptom complexes. These two facts make it impossible to simply say that (X) medicine cures (Y) disease, as our method is infinitely more precise/tailor made to the individual expression. This of course makes it less conducive to the commercial market, which in turn is very relevant to patenting: the vested interest to patent is low.
    ————————
    ‘To do this, he need not conduct expensive clinical trials in humans to provide proof, he could, for example produce data from rodent experiments.’
    No disservice to rats but they are not as complex as (most) humans & ‘provings’ on rats would produce rather less beneficial information.
    ———-Absolutely not true. Rodents are just as complex as us, believe it or not. Sometimes, they do not provide accurate information, but you assert that homeopathy works – surely it would be possible, if homeopathy is so effective to be able to prove it given the relative inexpense of rodent experiments?
    I am sure it has been tried, but the reason we have not heard much about it is because the investigators were not able to show any beneficial effect which they could ascribe to homeopathy.
    Just to repeat – if homeopathy were real, then big pharma would patent the hell out of it and push it onto the market – that’s a lot of profit for selling water. The theory should be easy to prove in controlled experiments, it has not been proven and it is a sham.
    ++++++To answer your first point about rats being just as complex; my original point was they can not provide the level of information required for proper ‘provings’ of our drugs, but I see you take the word ‘prove’ to mean ‘proof’ of homeopathy’s effectiveness. As mentioned earlier those who have bastardised & patented a mixotherapy have tested it on rats, see http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2006/0045918.html.

    +++To conclude: failure of the big pharmas to rip off homeopathy, and the failure of the orthodox scientific community to embrace homeopathy, does not equate to the failure of homeopathy.
    On the contrary it is only a sham outfit that seeks to put profits before the interests of the sick and clings to its ideologies either with a defensive vengeance, or a disinterested silence.

  • Rory Carr

    Wee Buns, surely a deletorious, indeed grievous, side effect of ingesting homeopathic remedies over a prolonged period of time is that the patient shows signs of gross physical ugliness, their nose and ears in particular becoming thickened and enlarged; and is there not also evidence of the senses themselves becoming confused so that the patient has a tendency to spout gibberish and have pronounced and unattractive delusions of grandeur?

    That certainly seems to be the case with the family of the most notable end-user of this form of treatment in these islands. I will withold her name out of basic human compassion and respect for privacy.

    Her mother though seemed to have the right idea – she stuck to the gin and daily doses of pure diamorphine which kept the old gel going for most of a century being spiritedly nasty to any who came within range.

  • Rory Carr

    Some alternative therapy does work I can attest from personal experience. Once, while suffering from acute constipation, I consulted a sociopath. He scared the shit out of me!

    (With apologies to Jeremy Hardy).

  • Look at the list of MPs who signed an early day motion asking that the NHS continue to waste money on bottles of pure water:

    http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=40517

    David Simpson, Gregory Campbell, Nigel Dodds, Lady Hermon are signatories from Northern Ireland.

    It looks like we should get candidates from this part of the world to publicly sit science exams – the transfer tests would do – to see if they are qualified for the job of MP.

  • And now all but 2 DUP MPs have signed the early day motion. See “A handy list of dimwitted members of parliament” at http://www.dcscience.net/?p=2829

  • Comrade Stalin

    wee buns:

    There is no lack of meticulously recorded written and clinical evidence, (200+ yrs worth)

    Where is it ? Why hasn’t it been used to claim the one million dollar JREF prize ? If you can show that it works, there’s a million dollars there for you to take home.

    but apparently it isn’t ‘scientific’.

    Science is necessary to avoid errors. If you don’t use science, you are prone to errors. People have been using science for thousands of years without knowing it. People apply it every day without being trained in it. It is common sense, codified. Science is the only defence that we have against bullshit.

    Who and what exactly do you mean by ‘peer –reviewed’ and what constitutes ‘evidence’?

    Peer-reviewed means that full details of the observations and how they may be repeated are published and subject to criticism.

    Evidence, in this case, is outcome of trials following the described methods to independently reproduce the same observations.

    For example, in the case of the MMR vaccine controversy, the “observations” were peer-reviewed and criticised, in that case for their poor methods. Several attempts were undertaken to independently reproduce the same observations, and these were unsuccessful. Therefore, no evidence exists to support Dr Wakefield’s original claims.

    People manufacturing bullshit, like yourself, don’t like peer review because you know that it exposes your daft claims for the shams they are.

    A clue as to the incentives of those who seek to destroy the integrity of the world’s second largest mode of medical pratcice.

    Popularity does not change the fact that homoeopathy is a myth. The reason why homoeopathy has no credibility in the medical world is because there is no evidence that it works. Along with other “modes of medical practice” that used to be very popular, like using leeches or trepinning.

    And the old thing about patents is, well, patent nonsense. What are the world’s most heavily prescribed drugs ? Yes, that’s right, drugs that aren’t patented anymore – like penicillin derivatives. Who says you can’t patent a homoeopathic remedy ?

    And no, most doctors won’t tell you not to take homoeopathic remedies. Nobody is trying to stop anybody from using alternative medicine. What people are trying to do is stop the misguided and worse, the liars, from presenting mythology as fact. You can have all the homoeopathy you want, provided you don’t try to pretend that it actually works. This is simple stuff – false advertising is illegal.

    if indeed there is no impact from homoeopathic medicines…then why all the dramatics do you reckon?

    It’s part of the human condition. We’re susceptible to stuff like this and we fall victim to it every day. Psychics. Mediums. Water diviners. Healers. Hell, there’s religion itself. Look at all the fuss over Lourdes – millions of people go there every year and never get cured, yet people claim it’s a place of healing. More conventionally, advertisements on TV bombard us with the ideas of how their products can make our lives better.

    Dramatics aren’t evidence that something works.

    AT the risk of repeating myself, if you would like to sample a 200c dose of Arsenicum I shall happily post it. When taken in repetition, the results will be entirely detectable; eg. an intense purging from both ends.

    Why does that happen ? Why has nobody ever been able to demonstrate homoeopathy’s mode of operation ?

    Anyone bothered to read the research will see that homeopathic hospitals end up with patients who have already been unsucessfully treated by mainstream medics, indeed most homeopathic practices spend a alot of time sorting out their balls-upped cases.

    I can well believe that. I can also well believe that in some of these cases, those patients get better. What I don’t accept – and which due to lack of evidence you can’t prove – is that homoeopathy cures people.

    A week ago I had a cold. I took a few days off work and stayed in bed, drinking water, and tea. A few days later the cold was gone.

    If I had gone to a homoeopathic doctor, he’d have recommended some pills. I’d have taken them, as well as staying off, drinking water and tea and sleeping, and I’d have gotten better.

    In the second case, how would I know that without taking the pills I’d have had the same effect ?

    Am deeply mystified as to why you mention scientific illiterate

    How can you call other people scientific illiterates when you don’t understand terms like “peer reviewed” or “evidence” ?

  • kevin

    Which would you accept as best fro you given the option off making up your own mind a synthetic drug witha list off side effects as long as your arm or the alternitive off a few herbs which in many cases do and can work for infections and other smaller ailments

    Off course the always right scients (Me thinks not ) cannot accept anything which they cannot trail to death and will always say that the best way off providing medical care is by the well trialled (me thinks not drugs )