Pharyngula

I’ve always considered Doctors Without Borders to be a commendable, even noble, organization. So I’m a little bit shocked to see this new group capitalizing on their good name: Homeopaths Without Borders. They’ve got to be joking.

It is our main aim to transfer homeopathy to those countries, where public health care and medical supply of the people is sub-standard, for whatever reasons. Homeopathy also proves very effective in healing physical and mental injury in situations of war or political crisis.

If their health care is substandard, isn’t it rather cruel to charge in and make it worse?

Comments

  1. #1 Stark
    February 6, 2009

    “Homeopathy also proves very effective in healing physical and mental injury in situations of war or political crisis.”

    I don’t know whether to cry or laugh…

  2. #2 Alverant
    February 6, 2009

    How can they say their methods are very effective? Is it because they have a placebo effect in areas with war or political crisis?

  3. #3 Moggie
    February 6, 2009

    Uh, physical injury? What remedy would a homeopath use to treat someone whose leg has been blown off by a landmine?

  4. #4 PZ Myers
    February 6, 2009

    A homeopathic dilution of plastique, of course.

  5. #5 Helioprogenus
    February 6, 2009

    They might as well call it water without borders. That’s exactly what it is, and perhaps some of these poor nations will get some clean water that has a few leaves in it. Far better than what they’re drinking from the arsenic ridden well water…if they’re lucky.

    Still, that is exactly what they should be doing. Traveling from troubled region to troubled region with giant water trucks, making sure that clean water is dispersed to those who need it.

  6. #6 Conor H.
    February 6, 2009

    I think it’s a very Bushian attempt to export their particuar brand of quackism around the world: dilute their country with just a few American Wackloons and through the power of dilution and wackaloonery: country full of American Wackaloons.

  7. #7 Helioprogenus
    February 6, 2009

    Before any misunderstanding here, they should call it what it water, instead of homeopathy, but even with such a ridiculous name, it’s ultimately water, hopefully free.

  8. #8 truckboattruck
    February 6, 2009

    I don’t think we have much to fear from these folks if the design of their website is any indication of their skill at spreading idiocy… as that site looks like it was put together by my 12 year old neighbor (with all apologies to my 12 year old neighbor).

  9. #9 JD
    February 6, 2009

    No, no, say it is Poe.

  10. #10 Just This Time
    February 6, 2009

    Sounds like a band-aid on a bullet wound.

  11. #11 Glen Davidson
    February 6, 2009

    Placebos for the poor!

    Well, it’s better than nothing.

    Oh, right, it is nothing.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  12. #12 AnthonyK
    February 6, 2009

    I think they could simply do the job by getting a representative just to visit an airport nearby and crumble a homeopathic anti-disease remedy (or, in starving countries, maybe a single French fry) on the tarmac.
    That’ll do it!

  13. #13 Tom
    February 6, 2009

    “Quacks without Borders”. Sounds like a great plan.

  14. #14 Richard Harris
    February 6, 2009

    Maybe this a good opportunity to introduce my brand of ‘Old Bear Hugger’ homeopathic whiskey, .

    It’s guaranteed to not give you a hangover, no matter how much you drink. It’s also low in calories.

    A bargain at £20 Post & packing per one litre bottle. All orders will be promptly filled.

  15. #15 Geoff
    February 6, 2009

    I don’t know that they have to be American whackaloons, we have a college here in the UK, their qualifications are accepted as though it was a genuine discipline. It’s said that it’s due to our present queen, who once chose on of the whackaloons as her physician. It seems that our National Health service even recognises their qualifications, but I admit I’m not sure about something so unlikely. We even have people here who swear by homeopathic vets!

  16. #16 Ichthyic
    February 6, 2009

    Well, it’s better than nothing.

    actually, it’s far worse, as at least when you’re getting no treatment, you are aware of that fact, and will actively seek treatment.

    If getting homeo “treatment”, you will no longer be seeking real treatment, and thus will be getting steadily worse.

    I only wish it were equivalent to nothing.

  17. #17 Ichthyic
    February 6, 2009

    What remedy would a homeopath use to treat someone whose leg has been blown off by a landmine?

    cold pressed coconut oil, combined with a looping tape of soothing seashore sounds, of course.

    Works every time.
    :P

  18. #18 H.H.
    February 6, 2009

    Their “medicine” may be just sterile water, but if a “dose” is only 1 tablespoon, the recipients aren’t going to get enough to benefit.

    There are no upsides to letting these quacks disperse their nonsense. None.

  19. #19 Jim Anderson
    February 6, 2009

    Medecins Sans Frontieres will file a lawsuit, right?

  20. #20 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 6, 2009

    Water has memory!

    Urine for everyone!

  21. #21 Ichthyic
    February 6, 2009

    There are no upsides to letting these quacks disperse their nonsense. None.

    that pretty much succinctly sums it up.

  22. #22 bluescat48
    February 6, 2009

    What next? Accupucturists without Borders? Faith Healers without borders? Voo-doo without borders? Why is it that some people are still in the dark ages?

  23. #23 Newfie
    February 6, 2009

    What do you folks think about Chiropractors? In the joint cracking sense.

  24. #24 Jadehawk
    February 6, 2009

    Well, it’s better than nothing.

    actually, it’s far worse, as at least when you’re getting no treatment, you are aware of that fact, and will actively seek treatment.

    If getting homeo “treatment”, you will no longer be seeking real treatment, and thus will be getting steadily worse.

    I only wish it were equivalent to nothing.

    I’m also predicting that if this “diluting” bullshit spreads, people will start diluting all sorts of real medicine and make things worse

    is it possible to dilute anti-retrovirals? THAT would be a fucking disaster…

  25. #25 Alverant
    February 6, 2009

    Newfie #23. I’ve had a good experience with them. At least chiropractors are actually doing something. Joints get out of wack and they push them back into place.

  26. #27 Jadehawk
    February 6, 2009

    AIIIEEE!!!!! i just noticed their website is German ( .de). now i’m embarrassed to be german. again. why is this homeopathy stuff so bloody popular back home?!?!

  27. #28 dingo
    February 6, 2009

    Look on the bright side, with water being scarce in the undeveloped countries their scope of damage will be limited.

  28. #29 Moggie
    February 6, 2009

    #15:

    I don’t know that they have to be American whackaloons, we have a college here in the UK, their qualifications are accepted as though it was a genuine discipline. It’s said that it’s due to our present queen, who once chose on of the whackaloons as her physician. It seems that our National Health service even recognises their qualifications, but I admit I’m not sure about something so unlikely. We even have people here who swear by homeopathic vets!

    I take it you haven’t heard of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital? That’s right, a fully fledged NHS placebo hospital, with doctors and nurses and bleepy machines, just like the grown-ups have. The good news is that they’ve apparently been whining that the rest of the NHS is reluctant to refer patients to them. Still, it’s a scandal that the place exists at all.

    They had a big fire there a year or two back: I work nearby, and smelt the smoke. I don’t know what kind of water they used to put it out.

  29. #30 Timothy
    February 6, 2009

    Maybe you should go easier on these folks, PZ. Clean water is something that a lot of people in the world are lacking and that’s the only useful thing homeopathy whackaloons have in great supply.

  30. #31 Curt Cameron
    February 6, 2009

    Alverant (#25), chiropractors do NOT push joints back into place.

  31. #32 NFPendleton
    February 6, 2009

    Let’s just dilute cancer drugs and AIDS treatments and give them away to everyone in the world for free. Then we can dilute food and send that to the people of the starving nations – that would save a fortune in agricultural, husbandry, processing, and transportation costs.

    And when all of this fails and everyone dies sick and diseased and emaciated, we can dilute the heads of the homeopaths in buckets of water, until they stop kicking.

  32. #33 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 6, 2009

    QUACK

  33. #34 Scote
    February 6, 2009

    I’d think the oxymoronic “Homeopaths Without Ethics” would work, too.

  34. #35 Geoff
    February 6, 2009

    Yes, I have heard of the RLHH. They are so entrenched in our establishment that I was naturally reticent, in case I stepped into some legal minefield, Best of luck with your anonimity!

  35. #36 Guy Incognito
    February 6, 2009

    So Harry Lime wasn’t a criminal, he was just a homeopath?

  36. #37 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 6, 2009

    Chiropractic quackery ….. i mean history.

  37. #38 Geoff
    February 6, 2009

    Guy Incognito, I wish I had thought of that!

  38. #39 Christophe Thill
    February 6, 2009

    Other organisations have usurped the “… without borders” name. There’s Reporters without borders, for instance, who defend freedom of the press, but only in certain countries, Europe and the US being not part of those. Of course, Homeopaths without borders beats everyone, including them, on the chapter of dishonesty.

  39. #40 Alverant
    February 6, 2009

    Curt Cameron #31
    Then what do they do? When I visit one I can feel the bones move. In most cases I have a better range of movement in my neck and back.

  40. #41 Guy Incognito
    February 6, 2009

    @38: Perhaps that movie could be Quacks Without Borders own version of Expelled?

  41. #42 meschlum
    February 6, 2009

    #39: Another, older, example is Sailors Without Borders. They claimed to need money to bring essential medical supplies and the like to needy countries. Examining their list of destinations would reveal a veritable cornucopia of lesser known tourist traps…

  42. #43 Wayne Robinson
    February 6, 2009

    Unfortunately, it isn’t a joke. They started in 1996, which is a long time to be runing a joke, which isn’t particularly funny anyway. And of course, the Germans don’t have a sense of humour in the first place, so it couldn’t be one to begin with (OK I did smile once or twice whilst reading Walter Moer’s “Ensel und Krete”). Their only “proof” that their programme works is that they have got a grant from the Robert-Bosch-Stiftung, which besides supporting reasonable projects, also supports, well somewhat bizarre ones.

  43. #44 DrBadger
    February 6, 2009

    Somehow, I think that most people in 3rd world countries or war zones are too smart to accept their “charity.” Only people who live in comfort and have no real problems get stupid enough to buy into these quack ideas.

  44. #45 Guy Incognito
    February 6, 2009

    What are these wackaloons going to do: roam war zones with sacks full of HeadOn?

  45. #46 DrBadger
    February 6, 2009

    Maybe you should go easier on these folks, PZ. Clean water is something that a lot of people in the world are lacking and that’s the only useful thing homeopathy whackaloons have in great supply.

    Yep, that’s one benefit of it… maybe people will accept their charity, but only because they’re smarter.

  46. #47 Dr. Pablito
    February 6, 2009

    I … it… oo. my head
    what the frickity-freaking…
    I’m going to leave work now and drink a beer to try to scrub my brain. Damned waste.

  47. #48 Prometheus
    February 6, 2009

    I think it is cruel to foist all of our idiots off on the third world. It will be like the South American thalidomide scandal.

  48. #49 Watchman
    February 6, 2009

    I, too have had good experiences with chiropractors. However, I use their services sparingly, such as when my back goes out and it’s not coming around very well on its own. I’m wary of the suggestion to make appointment after appointment, so I don’t. I believe that some useful techniques have emerged in a field that was, at one time, primarily an exercise in wishful thinking. (If we look back several hundred years, it becomes apparent that the same can be said of conventional medicine.)

  49. #50 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 6, 2009

    If their precious water had memory we could use proton NMR (molecular MRI) to see if that is the case. IIRC, the samples looked like normal water.

  50. #51 skepsci
    February 6, 2009

    Newfie (#23) wrote:

    What do you folks think about Chiropractors? In the joint cracking sense.

    That’s not so cut and dry. Chiropractors are actually manipulating the body, so clearly that can have effects, both positive and negative. There is some evidence that spinal manipulation may be an effective method for treating low back pain. Historically, Chiropractic has been associated with a lot of pre-scientific “energy-medicine” mumbo-jumbo, which opens the door to useless and even counterproductive practices being thought of as medicine. There seems to be somewhat of a divergence within Chiropractic, where some Chiropractors subscribe to the principles of evidence-based medicine, while others retain the nonscientific beliefs of Chiropractic’s roots.

    That’s the one thing you have to love about homeopathy: since the treatment consists entirely of water, it is easy to dismiss it entirely as pure nonsense. With other alleged modes of treatment, such as chiropractic, acupuncture, and naturopathy, there is the potential for the “treatments” to have actual beneficial effects on the body, so it’s harder to separate the truth from the fiction.

  51. #52 Porco Dio
    February 6, 2009

    simply more proof that silly people everywhere can get an internet connection

  52. #53 Dr. Pablito
    February 6, 2009

    And, let me be the first to draw the parallel between these obvious idiots and the other obvious idiots who want to be missionaries to third world people. They need clean water and green revolution help, the missionaries bring bibles, as if that were efficacious.

  53. #54 Danio
    February 6, 2009

    Alverant @#40, and anyone else who’s making warm and fuzzy noises about chiropractic:

    If your chiro is telling you that he/she is moving your bones around, he/she is flat out lying to you. Please see this link for some info on ‘subluxation’.

    Some Chiropractors limit their practices to modalities such as massage, heat, ice, TENS, etc., in other words, anything you’d get from a standard Physical Therapist. Many Chiropractors, however, move beyond this evidence-based realm into some decidedly wacky woo. Save your money, and possibly your life, and see a PT.

  54. #55 Sili
    February 6, 2009

    ?Quackery Without Scruples?

    And this differs from what we currently have, how?

  55. #56 lewis e. haymes
    February 6, 2009

    Sure it isn’t ‘homopaths’?

  56. #57 TechSkeptic
    February 6, 2009

    hmm. I am reminded of this cartoon

  57. #58 John Sherman
    February 6, 2009

    WHY are you shocked? The thing to remember is that the majority of these people BELIEVE this stuff. These Homeopaths Without Borders chaps think they are good people helping the world. And that, my friends, is the saddest thing of all.

  58. #59 HCN
    February 6, 2009

    Scote said “I’d think the oxymoronic “Homeopaths Without Ethics” would work, too.”

    That would seem to be accurate. There has been discussion on the ethics of a homeopath going to Africa to see if his super-duper diluted remedies work for AIDS. He was found to have changed his blog postings, and posted lies about affiliations. When that was brought to light he went to a homeopathy forum to get help in slogging the website that was blogging his lack of ethics. The response from the homeopaths has been incredibly idiotic, see:
    http://gimpyblog.wordpress.com/2009/01/26/jeremy-sherr-blind/

  59. #60 tony
    February 6, 2009

    re: Richard’s whisky

    When I first came to the US I thought maybe they were still engaged in prohibition, ‘cos all I could find was homeopathic beer!

  60. #61 HenryS
    February 6, 2009

    “With other alleged modes of treatment, such as chiropractic, acupuncture, and naturopathy, there is the potential for the “treatments” to have actual beneficial effects on the body, so it’s harder to separate the truth from the fiction.”
    **********
    Chiropractic and other “cult” therapy usually refuse to validate their “therapy” by such quaint scientific practices such as “clinical trials”. They have good lobbyists, however, in my state they suck off about 10% of the Medicade budget.

  61. #62 OnSolThree
    February 6, 2009

    Is it just me, or does “Homeopaths without Borders” sounds suspiciously similar to “Sociopaths without Borders?”

  62. #63 nurple
    February 6, 2009

    It’s just a publicity stunt, but they won’t ever do anything with it. Doctors Without Borders put themselves at risk because they know they can really make a difference, and who will if they don’t?, so they feel a moral obligation to get out and really help people.

    Homeopaths? They don’t care about anybody but themselves and their wallets; if they did then they’d have trained in actual healthcare. So they’ll be sitting this one out. It’s just a craven PR move.

    Sure it isn’t ‘homopaths’?

    Take your gay-baiting and shove it up your ass.

  63. #64 AdrianT
    February 6, 2009

    Homeopaths Without Brains, more like….

  64. #65 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 6, 2009

    Sure it isn’t ‘homopaths’?

    Moron.

  65. #66 Steve
    February 6, 2009

    It’s be cheaper to send some vitamin pills. More effective, too. Hope HOG brings lots of water to dilute their magic vibrations….

  66. #67 Marcus J. Ranum
    February 6, 2009

    healing physical … injury in situations of war

    Oh, yeah, there’s nothing like “tincture of artillery shell” to cure the old sucking chest wound. When I was in basic training, sarge used to give us diluted bayonet to drink – just in case, ya know? It worked, too – for me.

  67. #68 Marcus J. Ranum
    February 6, 2009

    What do you folks think about Chiropractors? In the joint cracking sense.

    Considering that nobody who understands how bodies work knows WTF a “subluxation” is and there’s no theory of operation that would explain how a “subluxation” would have some of the effects it has – it’s pure woo-woo.

    If you have any doubt about the woo-ness of Chiropractic, just read a bit about the history of who discovered it and why. It’s quackery based on a single piece of anecdotal “evidence”… It’s a race to the bottom to see which is worse – Chiropractic, Homeopathy, or Acupuncture.

  68. #69 Somnolent Aphid
    February 6, 2009

    once i chose a phys who was a homeopath, chosen before i realized what i was getting into. i kind of thought, oh homeopathy, it must be cool or something. ha. nothing but bad medicine poorly administered based on mojo and odd beliefs. i still suffer the side effects now many years later. avoid it at all costs.

  69. #70 'Tis Himself
    February 6, 2009

    homeopathic beer

    If nobody’s told you, Tony, there are other beers besides gnat’s piss Budweiser and weak gnat’s piss. Sam Adams makes some decent beers and microbreweries are becoming fairly common.

  70. #71 littlejohn
    February 6, 2009

    All water has at one time encountered urine and feces, and since it apparently has a memory… No thanks.

  71. #72 CuriousContradiction
    February 6, 2009

    So let’s say the Homeopathy remedies are indeed nothing – if the Homeopaths have been trained in some level of diagnosis they may refer or try to get some help and their remedies are quite harmless.
    I don’t see any harm from this, they have the choice between Homeopaths and nothing at all.

    Also, aren’t the Homeopaths trained in herbalism? They may also suggest herbs growing right under everyone’s noses that might help things, as opposed to no help at all.

    Why demean these humanitarian Homeopaths, they are at least trying to help!

  72. #73 sparkomatic
    February 6, 2009

    Rev Bigdumbchimp @37

    Thanks for the link. I have been fighting with friends for years about the legitimacy of chiropractors. Nice to have some ammunition.
    Of course one of them still insists that “toxins” can be purged by soaking feet in a “magic bath”. And these are otherwise fairly reasonable intelligent people..apparently teetering on the brink of a bottomless chasm of woo…sigh

  73. #74 AnthonyK
    February 6, 2009

    Well, as regards osteopaths – why would you go to anyone who hates bones?

    James Randi has a great take on homeopathy (hint, he’s not pro) and as part of his act he regularly swallows loads of homeopathic sleeping pills:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWE1tH93G9U

  74. #75 gopi
    February 6, 2009

    I was googling the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, and found this article:

    http://www.davidicke.com/content/view/5797/48/

    …the place where homeopathy was seen to perform so well in the cholera epidemic of 1840′s…

    I don’t think that the author of the article fully comprehends the irony of this statement.

    (The cause of the spread of cholera wasn’t known until 1854, it seems: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1854_Broad_Street_cholera_outbreak)

  75. #76 HCN
    February 6, 2009

    CuriousContradiction said “Also, aren’t the Homeopaths trained in herbalism? ”

    No. Homeopathy has nothing to do with herbal medicine. See:
    http://scienceblogs.com/terrasig/2009/01/lesson_1_homeopathy_is_not_her_1.php

  76. #77 DrBadger
    February 6, 2009

    @#72

    I don’t see any harm from this, they have the choice between Homeopaths and nothing at all.

    It gives them a false sense of being treated by “western” medicine. It’ll keep people from trying to see real doctors.

  77. #78 Sastra
    February 6, 2009

    Homeopathy has always been without borders, laughing and sneering at the limitations and controls of science-based medicine.

    Curious Contradiction #72 wrote:

    Also, aren’t the Homeopaths trained in herbalism?

    No, not if they’re straight homeopaths. If they’re also naturopaths they may have some knowledge, but since they rely mostly on anecdote and tradition, it’s hit and miss. Most consumers who see the fancy boxes in the drug stores with the little words “homeopathic” scrawled into the corner don’t understand what homeopathy is. They think they’re getting herbs, or “natural” remedies.

    Sometimes they are. Or sometimes they add in things like aspirin. There’s not a lot of quality control.

    If they’re claiming to heal even war injuries, then I think they’re unlikely to be referring the people who come to them to real doctors. They’re not trained in legitimate diagnoses, either. To diagnose you, they’ll sometimes ask questions like what you dream about.

  78. #79 Greg Laden
    February 6, 2009

    It should be “Homeopaths wihtout … anything”

    Or as my new tee shirt says:

    “Nothing is better than homeopathy”

  79. #80 Hepius
    February 6, 2009

    I have great respect for Doctors Without Borders. They will go places others won’t dare go, and when it gets dangerous they will stay after all the others have left.

    These homeopaths would do far greater good by taking the money they are going to waste on their efforts and giving it to Doctors Without Borders.

  80. #81 mds
    February 6, 2009

    gopi @ #75: If you haven’t encountered David Icke before, he also believes in all kinds of crazy things, including that the world is being run by blood-drinking reptilian aliens, who count in their number GWB, Queen Elizabeth II, and Boxcar Willie. It would be more amusing, except that there are people out there who believe him, and consider him an authority.

  81. #82 TechSkeptic
    February 6, 2009

    Sparkomatic

    “Of course one of them still insists that “toxins” can be purged by soaking feet in a “magic bath””

    Just show them that when you complete the circuit (use a wire coat hanger without putting any feet in the bath) the water turns just as brown. Or ask them why it turns the same brown no matter how many times you do it.

    HCN,

    Funny, I just wrote on the very same subject just a couple of days before that post. LOL.

  82. #83 Keanus
    February 6, 2009

    I’ve had chronic back problems for over 50 years. Mostly I’ve just lived with it, knowing how they wax and wane for no reason. And over the years I’ve seen two or three orthopods?all or whom were realists and promised no cures. And then just once, on a lark, I saw a chiropractor. The guy was a buffoon. He gave me a long talk about adjusting the spine, subluxations and other gobbledegook, and then X-rayed my back from several angles. He “manipulated” my back, collected my money and had his office schedule me for a weekly “adjustment.” The only problem was after seeing him, my back pain was worse, not better. I never returned. He also reminded me of the most offensive used care salesman I’d ever met. Needless to say, I’ve not seen a chiropractor since.

    Although he offered no solution, I bought the explanation of one orthopod, who, recognizing our evolutionary origins, observed that our back was not structured (he didn’t say “designed”) for walking upright but for walking on all fours, like our ancestors. I asked him if I should try walking on all fours, but he thought it not wise for social reasons.

  83. #84 tony
    February 6, 2009

    Tis Himself: re gnat’s piss american beer.

    I know – that first time was over 20 years ago… much better today (sierra nevada, half moon, & c)

    I think I’ll try to sell them my ‘tagline’ – catchy, no?

    Homeopaths do nothing for you

  84. #85 Patricia, OM
    February 6, 2009

    Now, now, I peddle herbs and eggs at the local farmers market.

    I have no scientific data to prove my point (that’s naughty) but from observing human reaction, I can verify that most humans, in my market area, exposed to holding bouquets of lavender or basil to their faces will smile in the most idiotic manner, exclaim to a deity, and then part with their money.

  85. #86 Sanjib Sarkar
    February 6, 2009

    Homeopathy seems to be gaining popularity for the extreme poor. Read the blog below. It is a blog about a homeopathic doctor experience in Africa.

    http://jeremysjournalfromafrica.blogspot.com/

  86. #87 HCN
    February 6, 2009
  87. #88 ESPness
    February 6, 2009

    This could turn out to be a good thing for the US Military. If the battlefield acupuncture doesn’t work they’ll have a H.W.B. camp down the road for an alternative to the alternative.

  88. #89 Max
    February 6, 2009

    Obviously homeopathy is crap.
    But, in a Western setting, it still has benefits.
    Therapy + the placebo affect.
    It cured my headaches…
    but then I became a skeptic.
    Sigh.

  89. #90 Iname
    February 6, 2009

    You know these guys could do some good. I mean some parts of Saharan Africa are in desperate need of water.

  90. #91 inkadu
    February 7, 2009

    Well, it’s better than nothing.
    actually, it’s far worse

    Nothing is better than homeopathy!

    Nothing has been shown to be more effective than homeopathy!

  91. #92 geru
    February 7, 2009

    Speaking of homeopathy, I once did some calculations about homeopathic dilutions and got some interesting numbers. :)

    The homeopathic “flu remedy” Oscillococcinum is supposed to be diluted by a factor of 1:10^400. If my calculations were correct (which they probably weren’t), this would mean that if you took 1mm^3 of the “active ingredient”, in order to achieve a 1:10^400 dilution the amount of water needed would be 1.2 x 10^343 cubic lightyears. Now that’s quite a dilution indeed. :)

  92. #93 sparkomatic
    February 7, 2009

    Techskeptic

    Got some questions but you’re contact link doesn’t work…I would love a more thorough explanation and would be happy to continue the conversation at your blog…

  93. #94 Miko
    February 7, 2009

    Mental injury too, eh? Isn’t it interesting that in real medicine you need different techniques to deal with physical and mental problems but with magic medicine it’s equally effective (i.e., zero) with both?

  94. #95 SuperAwesomeBlog Guy
    February 7, 2009

    On the face of it they’re not doing any harm, after all, they’re just giving people water. But when funding for real medical care goes towards quackery people suffer, and sometimes die due to negligence. Shame on them.

  95. #96 John C. Randolph
    February 7, 2009

    Why demean these humanitarian Homeopaths, they are at least trying to help!

    No, they’re not. They’re trying to get positive PR for their quackery.

    -jcr

  96. #97 Ramases
    February 7, 2009

    “On the face of it they’re not doing any harm, after all, they’re just giving people water.”

    SuperAwesomeBlogGuy,

    I have to strongly disagree with this statement, based upon my own experiences in working on a legit project in Central America in the 1990.

    At the time there was one group that was actively trying to promote, (for their own profit!!) “alternative” medicines to the very poor locals. They were also actively giving disinformation about vacinations and other ascpects of conventional medicine to the local people.

    Now this would be bad enough anywhere, but what made it MUCH worse was the fact that they were promoting this to very poor people with very low levels of education, and they were not even making it clear that they rubbish was not conventional medicine. At least in wealthy well educated countries people know the difference, but the locals had no way of telling. The people promoting it were from the US, which to the local meant a wealthy country and a high degree of medical knowledge.

    These people were using their very limited resources on this garbage (not actually homeopathy but something similar) and were using them INSTEAD of other approaches, such as vacinations.

    I hate to think what long term damage these bastards were doing.

    So I have to disagree that just because they are selling wather, they are doing no harm.

    They are doing enormous harm is they are promoting ignorance.

  97. #98 HCN
    February 7, 2009

    Just a reminder that homeopathy is not always harmless:
    http://whatstheharm.net/homeopathy.html

  98. #99 Retromancy
    February 7, 2009

    I thought scams like homeopathy was already fairly well entrenched in some poorer countries like Africa and India – where people buy them to treat serious illnesses like malaria and AIDS instead of the aches and pains and vague symptoms they placebo “treat” in western countries – can’t remember who pointed out that a bottle of homeopathic “remedy” for malaria cost the same as an insecticide treated mosquito net – these idiots can kill people in situations like that.

  99. #100 JHS
    February 7, 2009

    Sigh. This makes me incredibly sad. I still respect and support DWB and their work in principle, but…sigh. Admittedly, this isn’t the worst news to come across the desk for rationalists lately, but still…

    This is the problem with what many of us call “credulous woo.” Even among the best and the brightest, the smart ones, the rationalists, et al, there are still those who give in to the squishy, “feel good,” maybe-kinda-sortas of science. A Harvard MD can think it would be supercool, uplifting, neato, godly, a miracle, whatever, if burning some sacred herbs really *did* cure tuberculosis or whatnot (even if he KNOWS, deep down, that it won’t be any more than a placebo, a good photo op, make a good story, please the locals, etc). But should he or she indulge that impulse as a medical doctor? NO! This seems perfectly obvious to me, but jeez.

  100. #101 Gilian
    February 7, 2009

    A lot of herbal remedies are credited to homeopathy as well, hence the popularity, at least here in the Netherlands.
    Makes it a bit harder to expose as quackery too.
    Most people go to actual doctors first though, although the occasional victim slips through, a fameous dutch tv-actress died because she avoided regular medicine and placed her life in the hands of a faith healer and the assorted quackery, including homeopathy. The faith healer’s currently on trial, but I’m not holding my breath here.

  101. #102 North of 49
    February 7, 2009

    I had a chiropractor experience similar to Keanus’s. I got a sharp, awful pain in my upper back, just under the left shoulderblade. On the suggestion of someone I trusted, I went to this fellow, who told me it was a muscle “in spasm” and the treatment was the usual “adjustment”.

    After six visits over two weeks, and sixty bucks out of my pocket plus whatever the provincial health plan paid out, the pain was gone. What I know now, but didn’t then, was that such things often simply get better on their own, given time, and that the condition simply righted itself in spite of, not because of, the treatment I received.

    I’m not just guessing that the chiropractic treatment did nothing, I’m certain of it, because a couple of months later the exact same pain came back in the exact same place, and I fixed it myself in about 45 minutes with one-handed massage (right hand on left shoulder blade) and some flexing/limbering movements of my left arm. It was a permanent cure, too: this was twelve years ago and it’s never recurred. (Whatever it was; I still have no idea. The only thing I’m reasonably certain about is that it wasn’t a muscle in spasm.)

    Like Keanus, I found the chiropractor’s manner really off-putting, though rather than a used-car salesman he reminded me more of an unctuous priest.

    At any rate, I’ve never been back to one, and encourage people who are contemplating it not to bother, but try a Physical Therapist, or better yet, a real doctor, instead.

  102. #103 Yngve
    February 7, 2009

    Why don’t homeopaths just pour all their remedies into the water supply, wait for someone to get sick, and then shake the patient vigorously? That way everyone will get medicated for every conceivable illness prior to getting it, but the medicine won’t get activated until the homeopaths do their shaky business. /*tongue in cheek*

  103. #104 Ramases
    February 7, 2009

    “Sigh. This makes me incredibly sad. I still respect and support DWB and their work in principle, but…sigh.”

    JHS, this organisation has nothing to do with Doctors Without Borders!

    They are calling themselves a similar name, that’s all, which DWB have no control over.

    As you point out DWB are a great group who do great work. Please don’t blame them for these cranks!

  104. #105 Slugsie
    February 7, 2009

    So, it looks like we finally have an answer for why god won’t heal amputees. He wants a bunch of wacky doctors to go out, get people to drink some water, and their severed limbs will magically grow back that way.

    It’s so obvious.

  105. #106 Walton
    February 7, 2009

    So, hang on… if I’m understanding this correctly, homeopathy basically consists of giving the patient a drink of water and telling him it’s a “diluted substance”?

    If so, this is about on a level with drawing magic runes around the patient and summoning the tribe of invisible gnomes to heal him.

    If stupid people want to have this stuff done to themselves, and die of otherwise curable diseases, I don’t really care; it’s their problem. But I have a serious problem with taxpayers’ money being used to pay for this bullshit.

  106. #107 Walton
    February 7, 2009

    (And I would add that it’s rather unethical to peddle this stuff in the Third World where people don’t have the education to know any better.)

  107. #108 Pikemann Urge
    February 7, 2009

    Actually, if homeopathy doesn’t work (and I’m not arguing either way here) it proves something very significant: no medicine is better than any medicine at all.

    Not good news for shareholders in pharmaceutical companies but possibly good news for the general population. Just sayin’!

  108. #109 Valis
    February 7, 2009

    Please stop referring to us as the “Third World”. That is insulting. It is the “Developing World”. Thank you.

  109. #110 Daniel de Rauglaudre
    February 7, 2009

    Shame on my country: “homéopathes sans frontières” (i.e. the same, in French) returns 1690 answers under Google.

  110. #111 MacThistle
    February 7, 2009

    Pikemann@108

    No medicine is better? That’s quite a claim.

    My father-in-law has Alzheimer’s disease. He was prescribed an anticholinesterase inhibitor, manufactured under stringent quality control conditions by a major pharma. It’s no cure, and I’m very hopeful that some new drugs currently in trials will be better.

    Without the drug, he sits quietly and stares at the floor, and occasionally eats a second breakfast half an hour after the first. If he does rouse himself, he is at risk of getting lost in his own house.

    With the drug, he reads the newspaper, holds conversations, and remembers that he ate breakfast, and what it was.

    In my own neurology practice with with Alzheimer’s disease patients, this is a common story.

    Just sayin’

  111. #112 Henry
    February 7, 2009

    I well remember a nice metastudy that showed a clear correlation between the quality of medical studies and the effectiveness of homeopathy, acupunture and other ‘alternative’ medical treatments. With two exceptions (acupunture works for muscular pain, and one I forgot), the trend was clear:

    The better the study, the less effective was the treatment! In double-blind studies with a significant n there was no effect – period! LOL

    And now these quacks steal a good name – makes me mad!

  112. #113 j.t.delaney
    February 7, 2009

    So, does waterboarding = homeopathic intelligence gathering?

  113. #114 Knockgoats
    February 7, 2009

    And I would add that it’s rather unethical to peddle this stuff in the Third World where people don’t have the education to know any better. – Walton

    But of course if their ignorance could be taken advantage of for profit, you would be the first to object to govenrments interfering, because that would be coercion, and we must remember the qualitative difference between things that are unethical, and those that should be against the law.

  114. #115 Lurky
    February 7, 2009

    Homeopathic medicine is only good for dehydration – and even then only in large enough quantities.

  115. #116 AnthonyK
    February 7, 2009

    OT, but here’s something interesting.
    The BBC world service religious program “Heart and Soul” have two half-hour programmes about evolution/creation. The first has Eugenie Scott talking to, among other, Richard Dawkins and Ken Ham (!) and visiting the Flintstone museum:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/programmes/heart_and_soul.shtml
    Very good. The next programme has Henry Morris III (!!!) presumably doing the same kind of thing.
    I hope you can get this in the rest of the world. Hearing Eugenie and Ken argue is most entertaining.
    Thought you’d all enjoy it.

  116. #117 AnthonyK
    February 7, 2009

    Alternatively, just reading the post and staring at the link for a few seconds should considerably enwisen you without wasting time on actually listening.
    Incidentally, homeopathists routinely claim that “it’s been shown to work on animals”. Well a) no it hasn’t; b)any tests on this claim have to be junk science, no double blinds etc; and c) I can’t find any references to this “study”.
    Anyone know more – I mean less, which is of course more than more?

  117. #118 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 7, 2009

    So, hang on… if I’m understanding this correctly, homeopathy basically consists of giving the patient a drink of water and telling him it’s a “diluted substance”?

    Essentially, yes.

  118. #119 AnthonyK
    February 7, 2009

    Oh wow, sitting at home in snow-bound England, I’ve just seen two small deer galloping past my living room window. Ecstacy. Isn’t nature wonderful?

  119. #120 Merkin Muffley
    February 7, 2009

    For MDs it’s ‘first do no harm.’

    For Homeopathy it’s ‘first and last do no harm, or good.’

  120. #121 gaypaganunitarianagnostic
    February 7, 2009

    Homeopathic remedies are not always diluted with water. They also use dry materials to make pills. I once tried a homeopathic remedy for impotence – it seemed to help. I tried another for tinnitus, it didn’t.

  121. #122 Travis
    February 7, 2009

    gaypaganunitarianagnostic, I believe homeopathic pills are usually a lactose pill with the liquid dropped on it so it is still the diluted form of the stuff, there is still nothing there.

  122. #123 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 7, 2009

    Lactose is a disaccharide derived from milk. Made up of glucose and galactose. Some people are lactose intolerant as adults, which can lead to digestive problems.
    It is safer to take a teaspoon of regular sucrose (the sugar you buy at the grocery store), and a lot cheaper. Placebo, a great drug.

  123. #124 Patrick
    February 7, 2009

    They want to replace substandard health care with…wait for it…substandard health care.

  124. #125 Kel
    February 7, 2009

    They want to replace substandard health care with…wait for it…substandard no health care.

    Fixed

  125. #126 Sven DIMilo
    February 7, 2009

    I’d like to take this opportunity to announce the launch of my brand-spankin-new nonprofit charitable organization:
    Blog Commenters Without Borders
    It is our Mission to drop comments onto needy blogs without regard to the silly political boundaries that They (the meat-people) use to keep us apart. We will virtually travel the planet, commenting on randomly selected posts of developing blogs with wit and snark, when appropriate.
    Your generous contribution will be most appreciated, and you might even try deducting it from your tax return to see what happens. For especially generous contributions, please accept our gift of pajamas bearing the BCSF logo, once we dummy one up.
    Spread the good word! No blog, no matter how pathetic, without comments!

  126. #127 SamuraiScientist
    February 7, 2009

    As a molecular biologist, I am surprised as ever to see abundant skepticism regarding homeopathy, but blind faith in small molecules. While dilution techniques certainly are no better than placebos, many drugs are no better than non-specific poisons. In fact, this may be how most chemotherapeutics work.

  127. #128 Kel
    February 7, 2009

    I am surprised as ever to see abundant skepticism regarding homeopathy

    You’re surprised about that people would have scepticism regarding claims that water has memory and that like cures like?

  128. #129 TechSkeptic
    February 7, 2009

    Sparkomatic @ #93

    strange, I tried all the links I have posted, they work for me.

    Just email me or visit my blog, techskeptic.blogspot.com

    or google for techskeptic

    it all gets you to me.

  129. #130 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 7, 2009

    Why pay good money on expensive water when a teaspoon of sugar works just as well? Placebo, non-toxic, but non-efficacious >60% of the time.

  130. #131 Matt Penfold
    February 7, 2009

    As a molecular biologist, I am surprised as ever to see abundant skepticism regarding homeopathy, but blind faith in small molecules. While dilution techniques certainly are no better than placebos, many drugs are no better than non-specific poisons. In fact, this may be how most chemotherapeutics work.

    How odd that you are surprised by the acceptance of drugs that have been shown to be effective in treatment of disease and by the rejection of treatments that have not been shown to be effective.

    How do you operate as a scientist when the concept of evidence is so clearly alien to you ?

  131. #132 AnthonyK
    February 7, 2009

    Surely as a molecular biologist, by definition, you do have “faith” in small molecules? Or are you only a macro-molecular biologist (no water for you, or indeed oxygen, protein boy!)
    The criticism of homeopathy is that it doesn’t contain anything at all! I feel that maybe you might have a point if you were a “magic” biologist and could therefore attest to the efficacy of Mr Hahneman’s non-theory, but otherwise it seems that homeopathy is outside your area of expertise.

  132. #133 Ken Cope
    February 7, 2009

    If homeopathy were true, most of what water would retain the memory of would be sewage.

  133. #134 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 7, 2009

    If homeopathy were true, most of what water would retain the memory of would be sewage.

    Best laugh of the day so far.

    My water comes from Lake Michigan. What would it have memory of? (Some things are best unknown.)

  134. #135 Ken Cope
    February 7, 2009

    Addendum: That would make homeopathy newage sewage (which Penn and Teller remind us should rhyme).

  135. #136 'Tis Himself
    February 7, 2009

    If homeopathy were true, most of what water would retain the memory of would be sewage.

    The first thing that flashed through my mind when I read this was Tom Lehrer’s song “Pollution”.

    Pollution, pollution,
    We’ve got smog and sewage and mud
    Turn on your tap
    And get hot and cold running crud

  136. #137 Jan
    February 7, 2009

    German. Damn.
    Can somebody please come over and kick some sense into us? They sell their shit in pharmacies and health plans cover “alternative” methods and nobody seems to have a problem with that.

  137. #138 Scott
    February 7, 2009

    Maybe homeopathy is an evolutionarily promising form of medical care. Those who use it won’t be living as long as those who do, hopefully flushing out the gene pool a bit. (Nobody said evolution was kind to the individuals in the evolving species.)

  138. #139 Sven DIMilo
    February 7, 2009

    My water comes from Lake Michigan. What would it have memory of?

    If my memory serves (from 1968 +/- 5 y), a freakin hell of a lot of dead alewives, mainly. Some lampreys. Also, that essence of Gary is very resistant to dilution.

  139. #140 JWC
    February 7, 2009

    Water Without Borders, now there’s something people in Africa can use.

  140. #141 mayhempix
    February 7, 2009

    News Flash! Water Memory Is Real!

    Because of the economic crisis people are starting to remember
    that they can get free homeopathic refills direct from the faucet.

  141. #142 mayhempix
    February 7, 2009

    My bet is that a bottle of homeopathic “medicine”, drop for pure drop, is the world’s most expensive bottled water. The manufacturers should just abandon the ruse and admit it because the more expensive the bottled water brand is, the more people lust for it.

  142. #143 Pikemann Urge
    February 7, 2009

    Slightly off-topic, but someone did mention placebos. Someone in a previous thread mentioned that any ‘medicine’ that has an approx. 30% success rate was pretty much a placebo, as placebos tend to have a ‘success’ rate of about that figure.

    I’d like to know a bit more about that if anyone can oblige.

  143. #144 Tielserrath
    February 7, 2009

    The placebo thing still generates a lot of discussion. And whether or not you see a placebo effect depends on what you’re studying i.e. spinal cord injury vs symptoms of depression – there is likely to be a significantly larger placebo response when there is a significant psychological component. Placebo is also confused with the natural course of the disease; a ‘do nothing’ arm of a study, whether or not it is giving a dummy treatment, isn’t always looking for a placebo effect, but what the disease/injury would do without treatment.

    BTW I have a wonderful set of CTs of a woman who looked very much as though she had a large lung cancer. Biopsies were inconclusive, but to everyone’s surprise the thing suddenly shrank and vanished in about 3 weeks. I was heartily relieved to find she had not indulged in any woo to ‘treat’ her condition.

  144. #145 Bacopa
    February 7, 2009

    When someone asks me what “homeopathic” means, I say it means “doesn’t do anything”. Still, for many illnesses, I believe there is a huge psychosomatic component. Interaction with a homeopath may reduce many of these symptoms, but it’s not the magic water “treatment” that did the job.

    Similarly, even cases of serious acute disease, most people get better. The homeopath gets the credit.

    At work I am reluctant to recommend any fish medication and will not diagnose any diseases on secondhand info except Ich (looks like little raised salt crystals), anchor worm (Does it look little t-tags shot into the fish?), and trematodes (stringy white poop). I believe that most signs of suffering in an aquarium are environmental problems and that a few partial water changes will do the trick. Yet there are people who swear this or that medication works every time. But what did they do? They partial water changed, used the medication, and a partial water change again. How do we know the water changes weren’t the real solution?

    Difference between fish meds and homeopathy is that fish meds really do kill what they claim to kill. Even so, I am reluctant to recommend medications when I haven’t actually seen the fish. And I think in most cases the water changes do more good than the meds. Ich can be treated solely with water changes. Daily water changing will remove many of the parasites in the theront stage, preventing them from reinfecting fish. The water changing will bring nitrate near zero and allow the immune systems of the fish to finish the job.

    Poeple want easy answers and often attribute their successes and failures to the wrong causes. Homeopaths thrive in this uncertainty.

    I agre with Orac’s take there isn’t really such a thing as “alternative” medicine. If homeopathy or subluxions were real, we could find out that they really worked. And if we could find out they really worked and apply them consistently, they would then become part of “real” medicine.

  145. #146 Pikemann Urge
    February 8, 2009

    Whatever one can say about homeopathy, one can say about orthodox medicine in certain cases. Orthodox medicine is occasionally poisonous and creates more problems than it solves. This frustration at an obvious problem, I think, is one reason why people latch onto other ways of doing things (rightly or not!).

    I know a damned good physiotherapist who treated her patient’s back after years of problems. That patient’s doctor was, apparently, not happy to hear that a physio cured what the doctor could not.

    If there’s anything I do know about medicine it’s this: to do it right, you need a little bit of science, a great deal of knowledge and a huge amount of experience.

  146. #147 Prolix
    February 8, 2009

    There’s one difference between me and most of the other commenters on this post. I’ve actually TRIED homeopathy, and I’ve found that it works. That may not be scientific (where science seems to be defined to mean fitting in with our current understanding of how things work.) But, hey, as long as it works, I don’t care.

  147. #148 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 8, 2009

    Prolix, so Placebo works for you. It does in 30-35% of people. A teaspoon of sugar would be a lot cheaper, and just as efficacious.

  148. #149 Cath the Canberra Cook
    February 8, 2009

    Scote, you mean tautologic. Oxymoronic means there’s a contradiction in terms, like the old joke says of “military intelligence”.

    Sadly for the folks who want to bring clean water to troubled areas, a lot of homeopath remedies these days come as sugar pills. The magic water has evaporated all away, but the sugar remembers… Oh well, I guess it’s a couple more calories.

  149. #150 Cath the Canberra Cook
    February 8, 2009

    oops, that’s “tautological”.

  150. #151 Pikemann Urge
    February 9, 2009

    Prolix, can you expand on that? I’m terribly curious. What was your condition, how long had you had it, how long did the treatment need to have an effect? Let me know if you prefer e-mail and I’ll post my address.

  151. #152 SEF
    February 9, 2009

    There’s one difference between me and most of the other commenters on this post. I’ve actually TRIED homeopathy, and I’ve found that it works.

    I’ve had homeopathy inflicted on me too and it doesn’t work. Not even a little bit.

    So what you’re really doing is confessing that, unlike many other people here, you’re a gullible fool on whom the placebo effect routinely works. Whereas, I’m the sort of person on whom it has never worked – not even the “kiss it better” scam when I was very young.

    That’s another thing which I find irritating when a typical gormless doctor is talking about the placebo effect anywhere. They stupidly (unthinkingly and uncheckingly) act like it’s equally and randomly applicable to all people at some average rate (say 30% for the big red pills and 20% for small white ones).

    In my experience it will be mostly the same (gullible) people who always fall for such things, whatever the manifestation, while other (non-gullible) people are quite immune to all the different scams. There will probably also be some floaters in between who have a predisposition to believe certain types of scam but not others though.

  152. #153 KI
    February 9, 2009

    I did a lot of placebo in my youth, and never suffered a flashback.

  153. #154 Michael Law
    February 11, 2009

    Lot’s of educated fools visit this blog. Homeopathy
    Works! Everyone gets what they deserve. You believers in AMA quackery are the ones that are mistaken.
    For a real education, try reading the Organon of the Medical Art by Dr Samuel Hahnemann. I have not been able to find any falsehood in Hahnemann’s teaching’s

  154. #155 E.V.
    February 11, 2009

    I have not been able to find any falsehood in Hahnemann’s teaching’s

    … which tells us all we need to know about you. Obviously you’re not an educated idiot -you’re just an idiot.

  155. #156 TonyC
    February 11, 2009

    Pikeman

    Whatever one can say about homeopathy, one can say about orthodox medicine in certain cases.

    What kind of false equivalence are you trying to push here?

    some orthodox medicine works less than perfectly, so it’s ok that no homeopathic medicine works at all?

  156. #157 Dr.Lokesh Kumar
    February 24, 2009

    we dont need to prove to our allopathic brethren whether homeopathy works or not . In India we have degree and PG courses running for homeopathy ?.
    also nobody died taking homeopathic medicine where as we all know how many dead bodies come out of hospitals practicing MODERN MEDICINE .Both pathies have their limitations ?.so please before criticising THINK TWICE .

  157. #158 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 24, 2009

    Dr. Kumar, forget your irrelevant evidence. How well does homeopathy work against AIDS compared to antiviral therapy? Against staph infections compared to antibiotics? Against burst appendices compared to surgury? Until you show some real evidence you are a liar and bullshitter.

  158. #159 Dr.Lokesh Kumar
    March 30, 2009

    Dear NERD,

    you need to have REAL brains to understand homeopathy ….ya and one more thing ,the vaccination you allopaths give are all based on homeopathic principles …HAHAHAHA…….you need to really study homeopathy before arguing ,how about a six year degree course in india followed by a 3 year post graduate …THINK ABOUT IT !

  159. #160 Jean
    January 21, 2010

    Can not read all this nonsense [apart from last few letters ]without butting in to say that homeopathy is a terrific healing tool.I have been using it now for 20 years and can say it works . One however needs a person with brains and insight and much knowledge to use it properly

  160. #161 John Morales
    January 21, 2010

    Jean, yeah, and a patient with either a psychosomatic or a self-correcting disorder!

  161. #162 Rorschach
    January 21, 2010

    Can not read all this nonsense [apart from last few letters ]without butting in to say that homeopathy is a terrific healing tool

    And butting in you did.

  162. #163 Jean
    January 21, 2010

    Well I have experience of recovering from severe trauma very quickly, burns,being really ill with chest infections ,sore throats,etc and believe me the right remedy is effective. However this forum may not be able to appreciate its validity. So be it! Its your misfortune.

  163. #164 Rorschach
    January 21, 2010

    However this forum may not be able to appreciate its validity

    The term validity, Jean, I think does not mean what you think it means.

    Its your misfortune.

    i would wager the guess that the misfortune is your “patient’s” …..

  164. #165 John Morales
    January 21, 2010

    Jean, this is not a forum — it’s PZ Myers’ personal blog. Commenting here is a privilege, not a right.

    The putative validity of non-medicine to treat illness and injury is a matter to be judged by evidence¹; you offer nothing but opinion and anecdote.

    ¹ Homeopathy has been examined and found wanting.

  165. #166 David Marjanovi?
    January 21, 2010

    the vaccination you allopaths give are all based on homeopathic principles

    Vaccination is based on the knowledge that the immune system exists. This is knowledge Hahnemann didn’t have.

    Indeed, the knowledge that illnesses are triggered by organisms (such as parasitic bacteria) is knowledge Hahnemann didn’t have.

    So, Hahnemann treated the symptoms as real. The famous example is that he noticed that if you give quinine to someone healthy, they start shivering and feeling cold, like someone with malaria, while if you give quinine to someone who has malaria, they stop shivering and feeling cold. Hahnemann concluded that similia similibus curentur.

    In reality, quinine interferes with the haemoglobin digestion process of Plasmodium. Haem accumulates inside the Plasmodium cells and eventually kills them. When there’s no more Plasmodium, the reactions of the immune system against it ? including fever and shivering ? stop. At the same time, the quinine is caught in the Plasmodium cells and can’t get out to trigger such symptoms on its own.

    This is how quinine works, not by triggering shivering and fever that are already there.

    Your doctorate, Dr. Kumar, is like one in theology. It’s not like one in science. You have spent nine years thinking theoretically about things without ever bothering to figure out how they work. You have spent nine years deliberately ignoring all discoveries in medicine that happened after Hahnemann’s death. You have wasted nine years for nothing but a vacuous title that you could have got cheaper at any American mail-order diploma mill.

    It’s such a lie that science-based medicine treats only the symptoms, while homoeopathy treats the entire human. Homoeopathy does not even try to treat anything else than the symptoms, because only the symptoms had yet been discovered when Hahnemann lived, and is proud of it. It is proud of refusing to learn.

  166. #167 David Marjanovi?
    January 21, 2010

    Science-based medicine looks for the cause of an illness and then treats this cause. Homoeopathy acts as if no such thing as a cause even existed, so it tries to treat the symptoms ? and fails even at that.

  167. #168 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    January 21, 2010

    Pitiful group. Homeopaths simply cannot cite any scientific (versus their published woo) papers showing they are any better than the wonder drug, Placebo?. Solid evidence, lacking for homeopaths.

  168. #169 Sili
    January 21, 2010

    also nobody died taking homeopathic medicine

    That claim is hilarious, comming from an Indian.

    Or it would be, if a baby hadn’t been killed by otherwise harmless eczema because her parents didn’t wanna treat her with real medicine (pretty much just moisturizers in this case).

    I guess they were too expensive, after the mother had been rushed in for surgery for a gallstone.

  169. #170 Jean
    January 21, 2010

    There is actually quite lot of research.
    Explore
    http://www.hpathy.com/ezine/2009nov.asp
    Plant Health is a very interesting area now too in the use of Homeopathy
    http://www.hpathy.com/papersnew/kaviraj-plant-doc-nov09.asp. Here the placebo effect possibly not an issue. Also there is much success in treating animals in the literature.
    I have more skill in doing than debating. Discovered this site by accident and could not see the negative comment without trying to introduce another opinion. I will now withdraw

  170. #171 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 21, 2010

    hpathy.com

    Definitely a trustworthy site.

    yawn

  171. #172 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    January 21, 2010

    Jean, try something actually abstracted by main stream medicine, and we might even read it. But you could present a summary of the data from properly run double-blind studies showing efficacy of homeophathic medicines compared to PlaceboTM. Oh, that’s right, that has been done. No difference between homeopathic remedies and PlaceboTM. Homeopathy appears to be a fraud. So, do you have sufficient evidence of sufficient scientific quality to back up your inane and insane claims?

  172. #173 aratina cage of the OM
    January 21, 2010

    There is actually quite lot of research handwaving.

    I couldn’t resist introducing facts into your opinion, Jean.

    I have more skill in doing than debating.

    How exactly does one go about “doing” sugar water?

    Also there is much success in treating animals in the literature.

    Not in scientific literature there isn’t. Homeopathy literature even debunks itself when put before critical eyes.

  173. #174 eddie
    January 21, 2010

    Homeopathy cured my dehydration.

  174. #175 'Tis Himself, OM
    January 21, 2010
  175. #176 Jean
    January 21, 2010

    In 1991, three professors of medicine from the Netherlands, none of them homeopaths, performed a meta-analysis of 25 years of clinical studies using homeopathic medicines and published their results in the British Medical Journal.4 This meta-analysis covered 107 controlled trials, of which 81 showed that homeopathic medicines were effective, 24 showed they were ineffective, and 2 were inconclusive.

    The professors concluded, “The amount of positive results came as a surprise to us.” Specifically, they found that:

    * 13 of 19 trials showed successful treatment of respiratory infections,
    * 6 of 7 trials showed positive results in treating other infections,
    * 5 of 7 trials showed improvement in diseases of the digestive system,
    * 5 of 5 showed successful treatment of hay fever,
    * 5 of 7 showed faster recovery after abdominal surgery,
    * 4 of 6 promoted healing in treating rheumatological disease,
    * 18 of 20 showed benefit in addressing pain or trauma,
    * 8 of 10 showed positive results in relieving mental or psychological problems, and
    * 13 of 15 showed benefit from miscellaneous diagnoses.

    Despite the high percentage of studies that provided evidence of success with homeopathic medicine, most of these studies were flawed in some way or another. Still, the researchers found 22 high-caliber studies, 15 of which showed that homeopathic medicines were effective. Of further interest, they found that 11 of the best 15 studies showed efficacy of these natural medicines, suggesting that the better designed and performed the studies were, the higher the likelihood that the medicines were found to be effective. Although people unfamiliar with research may be surprised to learn that most of the studies on homeopathy were flawed in one significant way or another,5 research in conventional medicine during the past 25 years has had a similar percentage of flawed studies.

    With this knowledge, the researchers of the meta-analysis on homeopathy concluded, “The evidence presented in this review would probably be sufficient for establishing homeopathy as a regular treatment for certain indications.”

    There are different types of homeopathic clinical research, some of which provide individualization of remedies; which is the hallmark of the homeopathic methodology; some of which give a commonly prescribed remedy to all people with a similar ailment, and some of which give a combination of homeopathic medicines to people with a similar condition. While one can perform good research using any of these methods, there are certain issues that researchers have to be aware of and sensitive to in order to obtain the best objective results.

    For instance, if a study does not individualize a homeopathic medicine to people suffering from a specific ailment and the results of the study show that there was no difference between those given this remedy and those given a placebo, the study does not disprove homeopathy; it simply proves that this one remedy is not effective in treating every person suffering from that ailment, each of whom may have a unique pattern of symptoms that requires an individual prescription.

    In describing specifics of the following studies using homeopathic medicines, differentiation has been made between studies that allowed for individualization of medicines and those that did not.

    Clinical Research with Individualized Care

    Some people incorrectly assume that research using homeopathic medicines is impossibly complicated because each medicine must be individualized to the patient. The following studies disprove this simplistic belief.

    A recent clinical trial evaluating homeopathic medicine was a unique study of the treatment of asthma.6 Researchers at the University of Glasgow used conventional allergy testing to discover which substances these asthma patients were most allergic to. Once this was determined, the subjects were randomized into treatment and placebo groups. Those patients chosen for treatment were given the 30c potency of the substance to which they were most allergic (the most common substance was house dust mite). The researchers called this unique method of individualizing remedies “homeopathic immunotherapy” (homeopathic medicines are usually prescribed based on the patient’s idiosyncratic symptoms, not on laboratory analysis or diagnostic categories). Subjects in this experiment were evaluated by both homeopathic and conventional physicians.

    This study showed that 82% of the patients given a homeopathic medicine improved, while only 38% of patients given a placebo experienced a similar degree of relief. When asked if they felt the patient received the homeopathic medicine or the placebo, both the patients and the doctors tended to guess correctly.

    The experiment was relatively small, with only 24 patients. As noted, for statistically significant results, small experiments must show a large difference between those treated with a medicine and those given a placebo. Such was the case in this study.

    Along with this recent asthma study, the authors performed a meta-analysis, reviewing all the data from three studies they performed on allergic conditions, which totaled 202 subjects. The researchers found a similar pattern in the three studies. Improvement began within the first week and continued through to the end of the trial four weeks later. The results of this meta-analysis were so substantial (P=0.0004) that the authors concluded that either homeopathic medicines work or controlled clinical trials do not. Because modern science is based on controlled clinical trials, it is a more likely conclusion that homeopathic medicines are effective.

    Another recent study, published in the American journal Pediatrics, tested homeopathic medicine for the treatment of a condition recognized to be the most serious public health problem today, childhood diarrhea.7 Over 5 million children die each year as the result of diarrhea, mostly in nonindustrialized countries. Conventional physicians prescribe oral rehydration therapy (ORT, a salt solution that helps children maintain fluid balance), but this treatment does not fight the infection that underlies the diarrhea.

    Conducted in Nicaragua in association with the University of Washington and the University of Guadalajara, this randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 81 children showed that an individually chosen remedy provided statistically significant improvement of the children’s diarrhea as compared to those given a placebo. Children given the homeopathic remedy were cured of their infection 20% faster than those given a placebo, and the sicker children responded most dramatically to the homeopathic treatment. A total of 18 different remedies were used in this trial, individually chosen based on each child’s symptoms.

    A study of the homeopathic treatment of migraine headache was conducted in Italy.8 Sixty patients were randomized and entered into a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Patients regularly filled out a questionnaire on the frequency, intensity, and characteristics of their head pain. They were prescribed a single dose of a 30c remedy at four separate times over two-week intervals. Eight remedies were considered, and prescribers were allowed to use any two with a patient. While only 17% of patients given a placebo experienced relief of their migraine pain, an impressive 93% of patients given an individualized homeopathic medicine experienced good results.

    A randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was performed on 175 Dutch children suffering from recurrent upper respiratory tract infections.9 Children in the treatment group were prescribed a “constitutional medicine” for their overall health as well as acute medicines to treat the acute respiratory infections they developed. The study found that the children given homeopathic medicines had a 16% better daily symptom score than children given a placebo.

    This study also found that the number of children given a placebo who had to undergo adenoidectomy was 24% higher than for the children given homeopathic remedies. A 54.8% reduction in the use of antibiotics in the children given homeopathic medicines was reported, while the children who received a placebo experienced a 37.7% reduction in antibiotic use. (This reduction in both groups was determined to be the result of the normal growth and development of the child, dietary changes° the study provided written nutritional advice to the parents° and the change in expectations as the result of being under medical care.)

    The statistical possibility of these results happening by chance was 6% (P=0.06). Because statistical significance in science is recognized when there is a 5% or less chance of results happening at random, the researchers concluded that homeopathic medicine seem to add little to the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections. This more conservative conclusion appeared to be influenced by the fact that the authors sought and received publication of their study in the British Medical Journal. They should have more accurately said that homeopathic medicines provided benefit to children with upper respiratory infections, but there is a small chance (6%) that these good results happened at random.

    Considering the closeness of these results to 5%, considering the other improvements in the homeopathic group’s health, and considering the increasingly widespread desire to avoid antibiotics, it makes sense for physicians and parents to consider seeking homeopathic care for children’s upper respiratory infections.

    Another study that involved individualized homeopathic care was in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.10 The study involved 46 patients. Two homeopathic physicians prescribed individually chosen medicines to each patient, though only half of them were given the real remedy, while the other half were given a placebo. The study found that 82% of those given an individualized homeopathic remedy experienced some relief of symptoms, while 21% of those given a placebo experienced a similar degree of relief.

    One other very interesting trial that utilized semi-individualization of care was in the treatment of primary fibromyalgia (also called fibrositis).11 Patients with fibrositis were admitted into a trial in which homeopathic physicians chose between three possible remedies, Arnica, Rhus tox, and Bryonia. Half of the patients were given one of these remedies, and the other half were given a placebo. There was no discernible difference between these groups. However, as an integral part of the experiment’s design, a panel of homeopaths evaluated the accuracy of each prescription. This analysis found that those patients whom the panel considered to have received the correct remedy experienced a statistically significant improvement in symptoms as compared to those patients given the “incorrect” remedy or the placebo.

    These same researchers next conducted a more sophisticated trial in the treatment of primary fibromyalgia.12 This double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial admitted only those patients who fit the symptoms of Rhus tox. The researchers found that this constituted 42% of the patients interviewed. One-half of these 30 patients were given Rhus tox 6c during the first phase of the experiment, while the other half were given a placebo. During the second phase, those patients initially given the medicine were given a placebo, and those patients initially given a placebo were now given the homeopathic remedy. Researchers determined at the beginning of the experiment that improvement in pain and sleeplessness were the outcome measures most important in evaluating the results of this trial, and the results showed that 25% more of the patients experienced pain relief when taking the homeopathic remedy compared to when they were given a placebo and almost twice as many had improved sleep when taking the remedy.

    This type of crossover design is considered a sophisticated type of research because it compares each person when using a treatment with the same person when using a placebo. Most other research compares two supposedly similar groups of people, but researchers commonly acknowledge that it is difficult and perhaps impossible to get two exactly similar groups of people. The limitation of the crossover design for homeopathic treatment, however, is that most homeopathic medicines provide long-term benefits, so that once a person stops taking a homeopathic remedy he or she may still continue to improve, even in the placebo stage of the trial. Low-potency medicines, such as the 6c used in the above described experiment, generally have short-acting effects, while higher potency medicines generally have increasingly longer-term effects.

    Clinical Research with Nonindividualized Care

    In addition to the studies on homeopathy in which individualized remedies are prescribed, there is also a body of research testing single remedies to people given in a non-individualized manner. Such research is potentially problematic because homeopaths acknowledge that the remedies require some degree of individualization to be effective. The results of a nonindividualized study, either positive or negative, can be misunderstood by people who do not know basic principles of the homeopathic method.

    One study using nonindividualized homeopathic treatment was sponsored by the British government during World War II and was conducted in 1941-42 on volunteers whose skin was burned with mustard gas.13 The study showed the efficacy of Mustard gas 30c as a preventive or Rhus tox 30c and Kali bichromicum 30c as therapy. The study was double-blind, placebo-controlled, and was conducted at two centers (London and Glasgow), both showing similarly positive results. A more recent analysis of the data further substantiated the statistical significance of this study.14

    It should, however, be mentioned that the researchers also tested the efficacy of Opium 30c, Cantharis 30c, and Variolinium 30c, none of which provided any noticeable benefit. If this trial had tested only these medicines, the researchers might have concluded that homeopathic medicines were ineffective in treating mustard gas burns. Finding the correct remedy is the key to making homeopathy work.

  176. #177 Brownian, OM
    January 21, 2010

    I will now withdraw

    Fret not, Jean. We’ll put your comments together and then split that into two comments, split each of those into two comments, split each of those into two comments, and so on until we’ve got 1060 comments of yours (one for every character you posted, including spaces.)

    If you keep an open mind you’ll realise it’ll be just as effective as if you were still here arguing your case with us.

  177. #178 Brownian, OM
    January 21, 2010

    Aratina, did you notice the dread pirate Mabus lurking in that link in #173?

  178. #179 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    January 21, 2010

    Yawn, not much evidence, probably by people with a belief in homeopathy. Small trials. NO sign of double blind, where both the patients and doctors have no idea of who gets what. Nothing scientific there, there hearsay and anecdotal evidence. Which makes them meaningless evidence. The real properly run double-blind studies run by NCAM show no effect beyond Placebo?. They funny part of these test is that they were supposed to the same efficacy as regular medicine. And they couldn’t even get past Placebo?. As I indicated your alleged evidence isn’t scientific enough.

  179. #180 Jean
    January 21, 2010

    Ah well I will not despair.
    Have just for the 2nd time in a month cured my spouses throbbing acute headache from being in the sun with Glononine a potency of nitroglycerine in a 30c. It is 38 degrees here today. It started to resolve immediately and was gone in 5 mins
    He can not believe either though have frequently rescued him in other acutes and also wishes
    double blind trials . These arre usually sponsored by drug companies. Bye.

  180. #181 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    January 23, 2010

    Jean, anecdotal evidence is the very worst possible. If you were the least bit scientific, you would know that. It fails to take the placebo effect into account. If you wish to discuss your unscientific beliefs further, come to the eternal thread. It is an open thread, so any topic can be discussed. Only mindless trolls keep posting at threads this old.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.