White Coat Underground

The other day, I wrote about the fake health experts at the Huffington Post. Prominent among them is “Dr” Patricia Fitzgerald. Now, we already talked about how writing a health piece in a major media outlet and using the title of “Dr” can be deceptive; the reader is likely to assume you are a medical doctor. In Fitzgerald’s case, she isn’t anything resembling a medical doctor, or even a health expert.

Like many of HuffPo’s so-called health experts, she’s selling something. While I’m all for capitalism, she presents herself as something she is not—a legitimate doctor. Let’s examine what she is and is not.

Patricia Fitzgerald is a licensed acupuncturist, certified clinical nutritionist, and a homeopath. She has a Master’s Degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine and a Doctorate in Homeopathic Medicine.

There are two types of “real” doctors licensed to practice medicine in the US: Medical Doctors (MDs), and Doctors of Osteopathy (DOs). Anyone else claiming to treat common medical conditions is often practicing unlicensed care, or is licensed in a limited way to provide some health-related services.

None of the qualifications listed make her an expert in immunology, infectious disease, toxicology—all topics she has addressed at HuffPo. I’ll have to take her on her word that she is Doctor of Homeopathy—most doctors would give a little more information, like what the hell this doctorate is and what institution and board granted it. This is pretty important given that homeopathy is seen as a fringe cult-like practice by anyone who understands science.

She sells a book on detoxification, and founded the Santa Monica Wellness Center, at whose website she is referred to as Patricia Fitzgerald, L.Ac., D.H.M, C.C.N., which is terrific and all, but most of those designations aren’t widely recognized as having any meaning (I’m not sure about the “CCN”, but apparently it involved nutrition through recognition of “biochemical individuality”.)

The Center offers all kinds of great stuff, like acupuncture, Emotional Freedom Technique, detoxification, and diagnostic testing such as “parasite and candida profile”. In other words, she is so steeped in invalid, dangerous, and deceptive medical practices, that calling her “Dr” of any kind of healing is like calling Jack Kervorkian a sleep specialist.

If HuffPo wants to crawl out of its pit of immoral and dangerous health deception, it’s going to have to learn to vet its writers a bit better. It’s time for them to drop their woo-meisters and get some real health experts over there.

Or, they could give up and continue to be the National Enquirer of health reporting.

Comments

  1. #1 Denice Walter
    April 24, 2009

    Doctors of homeopathy: providing watered-down care for over 200 years.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    April 24, 2009

    Patricia Fitzgerald is my ex-fiancee.

    Oh, no, wait. Different person. Totally different.

  3. #3 Whitecoat Tales
    April 24, 2009

    Harsh…
    Don’t insult Dr Kevorkian like that… HE has an M.D.

    … in fact, isn’t he an alumnus of your medical school?
    I’m pretty sure when I interviewed there they pointed him out on the composites!

  4. #4 prolix
    April 24, 2009

    A Doctorate in Homeopathic Medicine

    The person who wrote the blurb probably misunderstood the abbreviation DHT, which stands for Diplomate of Homeopathic Therapeutics and not Doctorate. It’s a common mistake. It’s a certification granted by the American Institute of Homeopathy, the professional organization of homeopathic MD’s and DO’s.

    If you ask nicely, I’m happy to clear up misunderstandings like this.

    She is so steeped in invalid, dangerous, and deceptive medical practices, that calling her “Dr” of any kind of healing is like calling Jack Kervorkian a sleep specialist.

    That was lovely. And you wonder why naturopaths won’t let you sit in on their practice?

    Homeopathy is seen as a fringe cult-like practice by anyone who understands science.

    As I explained above, MD’s and DO’s practice homeopathic medicine. Can you get through medical school without understanding science?

  5. #5 T. Bruce McNeely
    April 24, 2009

    prolix: “As I explained above, MD’s and DO’s practice homeopathic medicine. Can you get through medical school without understanding science?”

    Words fail me…

  6. #6 Jennifer B. Phillips (aka Danio)
    April 24, 2009

    The person who wrote the blurb probably misunderstood the abbreviation DHT, which stands for Diplomate of Homeopathic Therapeutics and not Doctorate. It’s a common mistake. It’s a certification granted by the American Institute of Homeopathy, the professional organization of homeopathic MD’s and DO’s.

    Then we seem to be missing a degree. If, as the AIH web-page stipulates, this certification can only be awarded to a licensed MD or DO (Frankly I’m shocked that they left ND off the list) where did ‘Dr.’ Patricia get her medical training?

    As I explained above, MD’s and DO’s practice homeopathic medicine. Can you get through medical school without understanding science?

    I suppose it depends who ‘you’ are. The Homeopathy-embracing MDs and DOs to whom you refer clearly didn’t get schooled hard enough in the scientific method.

  7. #7 prolix
    April 24, 2009

    The Homeopathy-embracing MDs and DOs to whom you refer clearly didn’t get schooled hard enough in the scientific method.

    Obviously they understood it well enough to get a degree. You seem to have some private sense of the word understand, not found in the dictionary.

    It seems like if someone disagrees with you, it’s not a honest difference of opinion. It’s because they don’t understand what you understand. I find this attitude excessively narrow and dogmatic.

  8. #8 Whitecoat Tales
    April 24, 2009

    As far as I can tell, yes you can get out of medical school with an MD degree, and not understand the scientific method. You might have alot of sciencey knowledge but the method, not tested.

    Thus, like engineers, MDs are prone to becoming sock puppets for unscientific causes like homeopathy, and naturopathy, et al.

  9. #9 JThompson
    April 24, 2009

    @prolix: Well, since all the places offering degrees in homeopathy seem to be online diploma mills, the answer to your question is: Yes. You can get that degree while learning absolutely nothing of science.
    You pay for your course, you copy the answers from the book, you mail them the test, they throw it in the trash, and you have a degree in homeopathy!

  10. #10 prolix
    April 24, 2009

    since all the places offering degrees in homeopathy seem to be online diploma mills

    I’d repeat what I said in my first comment, but why don’t you try rereading my first comment again, slowly and aloud this time, and maybe you will understand that homeopathic MD’s graduate from the same medical institutions that regular doctors graduate from and they have a professional organization, the AIH. Any online program is not accredited, for obvious reasons.

  11. #11 prolix
    April 24, 2009

    Yes you can get out of medical school with an MD degree, and not understand the scientific method.

    Is there some scientific method apart from what scientists actually do? And doesn’t every science curriculum include lab work to teach you what scientists actually do? But maybe I’m misinformed and the scientific method is something you learn by watching YouTube videos of Richard Dawkins.

  12. #12 prolix
    April 24, 2009

    Frankly I’m shocked that they left ND off the list.

    Little do you know about the petty divisions that churn the homeopathic community.

  13. #13 Dr Benway
    April 24, 2009

    Can you get through medical school without understanding science?

    Yes you can.

    The best way to learn the scientific method is via study of statistics, experimental design, and philosophy of science. Outside of an MD-PhD program, none of this is required in med school.

  14. #14 Whitecoat Tales
    April 24, 2009

    what scientists actually do?

    We don’t learn what scientists do.
    We don’t go in, and learn about how hypotheses were adopted, tested, refined, and retested. We don’t learn about all of the theories that were rejected because they didn’t fit the data. We don’t learn about how mountains of textbooks were out of data almost as soon as they were in print because of the fast pace of discoveries.

    Instead, we get a weird almost flowchartesque picture of the clotting cascade. Then we get told that the intrinsic pathway is affected by heparin, and why it works that way. We get told that the extrinsic pathway is affected by warfarin, and that it works by depleting vitamin K – a required cofactor to replenish multiple factors in the clotting cascade. We get about 100 chunks of information about clotting. Nowhere in the mix do we discuss “what a scientist does”.

    Frankly, there is a reason we don’t – it’s too much.
    Even learning the limited amount we do, it’s like trying to drink Lake Michigan dry with a dixie cup!

    After a year of clinical rotations, all SOME people in my class remember about the clotting cascade is “um, i think heparin affects one part of the cascade, and warfarin like, another branch or something,” so I wouldn’t be shocked if a significant number of those individuals did unscientific things.
    Like practice homeopathy, or join an “integrative practice” with a naturopath.

  15. #15 Badger3k
    April 24, 2009

    “Or, they could give up and continue to be the National Enquirer of health reporting.”

    Want to bet which one they choose?

    I, myself, have a Doctorate – DMTU – my Doctorate of Making Things Up. My doctoral thesis was written on the back of a napkin and explained in Mime. Thus, I too can post at Huffington Post and have my own following. All I need is to write a book…or an iPhone app.

    Woo, Woo! I can see the money rolling in.

    Too bad I’m too honest to do that.

  16. #16 Michael Simpson
    April 24, 2009

    With all due respect to Whitecoat Tales and Dr. Benway, you’re making yourselves out to be a lot less than you really are with respect to science. You’re sound like you open up the Merck Manual (from my day) or UpToDate (much better), and doing whatever they say. In fact, you might not do primary research on the immune system, but you have enough science floating in your blood to understand what is and isn’t good science. I’ll bet 99% of physicians are able to do so.

    I consider physicians, along with engineers, computer “scientists”, and others to be applied scientists, that is, utilizing knowledge from one or more of the natural sciences to solve problems. An aeronautical engineer isn’t going to rely upon magic fairy dust to get a 747 to fly (if he is, I’m taking the train). And most physicians and surgeons (two different types of doctors, IMHO) don’t rely upon magic fairy dust (it’s pervasive) to cure a medical problem.

    You may not know the whole clotting pathway, but a cardiologist does, and knows what drug works where. He might know the biochemistry of the pathway, and frankly there’s not enough time in a lifetime to do so. But he knows what the clotting scientists have uncovered. And if a year from now, “new drug” better manages PTT, then he’ll learn about it.

    Someone is going to scan these comments and say somewhere, “see these doctors say they don’t know science, and that’s why they don’t know why homeopathy works.” Well, I’m saying that you haven’t done the original research on homeopathy, but you know that a lot of smart scientists do, and a review of the relevant literature leads you to the same conclusion.

    You know, I’ve never once uncovered a dinosaur fossil, despite taking a paleontology course at the University of Utah, being dragged out into the desert at 5 in the morning to help the prof dig fossils, and only going because there was a cute girl in the class. Despite my failure at paleontology research, I’m smart enough to understand that dinosaurs evolved around 200 million years ago, died out about 65.5 million years ago as a result of bolide impact, and that birds are the last extant dinosaur clade. Smarter people than I studied it, I’ve reviewed what I could, and I’m going along with the scientific consensus. In this case, I am an applied scientist. As are you guys.

  17. #17 Donna B.
    April 25, 2009

    Just how much does one need to know about the scientific method to weed out woo? I don’t think even an undergrad degree in science is necessary.

    When I went to school (granted, near prehistoric times) the scientific method (an extremely simplified version, I’m sure) was taught in junior high and when we got to high school we got to practice it in limited ways in labs.

    Has education changed that much?

  18. #18 Joe
    April 25, 2009

    Whitecoat Tales and Dr. Benway are right.

    There are two aspects to “science.” One is the method, the other is the knowledge derived from the method. Undergrad instruction concentrates on the knowledge base. In class, I would explain the Periodic Table, the properties of a family of elements, and the trends in those families as one moves up the chart.

    Then, at a quackademic medical program when the instructor shows a chart of acupuncture points and explains how it works, it sounds just as scientific. That is, it seems to have the same foundation as chemistry: some authoritative-sounding person rattling-off “facts.”

  19. #19 MadScientist
    April 25, 2009

    Shouldn’t this lowlife be rotting in jail for claiming to be a doctor and claiming to offer medical services?

  20. #20 Dr Benway
    April 25, 2009

    Can you be a talented, famous musician without knowing much about music theory? Yes.

    Starting with a chief complaint, following up by gathering a relevant history and exam to rule-out various diagnostic possibilities, then proposing further tests, if needed, to narrow down the likely cause of the symptoms –this is the scientific method in action.

    The cognitive psychologists distinguish between procedural and declarative knowledge. Knowing how to play a song on the guitar and being able to describe the chord sequence are two separate skills. A person can learn about music without being able to play a note. And a person can play an instrument without being able to talk about the process.

    When you can talk about what you’re doing, you can teach others. And you have a tool for self-correction. You might be a little less likely to compartmentalize your knowledge.

    Given the rise of CAM in academic medicine, it may be time to revise the curriculum to include a little philosophy of science.

  21. #21 jen
    April 25, 2009

    The person who wrote the blurb probably misunderstood the abbreviation DHT, which stands for Diplomate of Homeopathic Therapeutics and not Doctorate. It’s a common mistake.

    If it’s a common mistake, given how misleading it is, shouldn’t people with this degree take some responsibility for making sure they’re not accidentally misrepresented as having a degree they don’t have?

  22. #22 ScepticsBane
    April 25, 2009

    @Prolix

    Prolix, the innuendo against Homeopathists that you have already noted is characteristic of the enlightened “scientists” here on PalMD’s blog – they attack Homeopathy and Homeopathists as woo, overlooking the fact that perfectly scientific and intelligent MD’s and other well credentialed health professionals choose to study and practice this system of medicine. The anti-Homeopathy freaks, let’s call them the “woosters”,
    are easily self hypnotized by linear thinking as is graphically illustrated in the following cartoon, symbolically representative of their “science” and “reasoning” ability.

    http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/6417/1630/1600/chooks31.jpg

    @PalMD

    Pal, you must have a problem with your blog software because an entire blog you posted just prior to this one, entitled
    “Musings on the Intersection of Science, Medicine and Culture, along with my rather critical dissection of your non-thinking, misstatements about the title of “Dr.”, appears to have vanished. Perhaps it’s not a software blog problem…

    Sorry if my criticism proved an embarrassment – have you read 1984 by George Orwell by any chance?

  23. #23 PalMD
    April 25, 2009

    Yes.

    “Homeopathy is science”

    “Homeopathy is science”

    “Just say it. What matters truth?”

  24. #24 Whitecoat Tales
    April 25, 2009

    @Michael Simpson

    Perhaps im not being entirely clear, and my example obfuscates rather than elucidates.

    MOST doctors know the scientific method.
    Most doctors don’t believe in woo.
    Most doctors wouldn’t have any problem telling you which drugs act where in which pathways.

    Now, I know from experience that I’m a horrible researcher. But I know how to read a paper, and evaluate the evidence. Every doctor should know how to do that.
    However it is possible to get through medical school without learning the scientific method, and without learning how to really get the research.
    If you come in woo friendly, it is possible to keep that delusion through medical school, and still pass every step of the boards, and get into a residency.

    People who are both weak on the scientific method, and woo friendly to start, have a tendency to play fast and loose with the science – because they aren’t interested in NOT believing things, or finding the truth. They’re interested in confirming their own biases.

    The problem is, that most people say “well this doctor practices homeopathy, so it MUST be scientific.”

    What I’m saying is “Well by definition, if your doctor practices homeopathy, he either doesn’t get science, or he’s an unethical doctor (prescribing homeopathy for placebo effect, which I’ve heard of before).”

  25. #25 ScepticsBane
    April 25, 2009

    @Tales of Whitecoat

    “Most doctors wouldn’t have any problem telling you which drugs act where in which pathways. ”

    Actually, they woo-d… er… would have a bit of trouble telling that because a great number of commonly prescribed drugs’ exact mechanism of action is under research and remains unknown.

    The problem is, Talley, that the scientistics (i.e.people claiming that MD’s base all their medical knowledge on “evidence” or “science”) are not willing to admit or even notice that the Homeopaths and MD’s are both using the same methods – clinical experience and case histories, as the entire basis for their decisions.

    And the “science” of the MD’s was recently challenged by none other than a classroom full of MD (to be) students in a Harvard pharmacology class. The students were a bit put off when their queries regarding some side effects of a cholesterol lowering drug were ridiculed by the Prof. One of the students apparently did a little background check and discovered that the Prof apparently was a paid consultant with 10 pharmaceutical companies, including the manufacturers
    of several cholesterol lowering drugs.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/03/business/03medschool.html

    Here is what Dr. M. Angell, author of “The Truth About the Drug Companies”, and a former editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine had to say:

    “But Dr. Marcia Angell, a faculty member and
    former editor in chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, is among the professors who argue that industry profit motives do not correspond to the scientific aims of academic medicine and that much of the financing needs to be not only disclosed, but banned. Too many medical schools, she says, have struck a “Faustian bargain” with pharmaceutical companies.”

    “If a school like Harvard can’t behave itself,” Dr. Angell said, “who can?”

    Now if the anti-Homeopathy woosters in this group and elsewhere want to rave on an on about their “science” and about how they claim that Homeopathy hasn’t any, I think it is OK for us to suffer through their complete ignorance of Homeopathy research but there is no reason at all to accept their hypocrisy about “science” and how they claim somehow to be within its scope when stuff such as the above mentioned by Dr. Angell is going on right in the open as though it were somehow all OK.

    Some science.

  26. #26 T. Bruce McNeely
    April 25, 2009

    ScepticsBane blethers, and I answer…

    “Actually, they woo-d… er… would have a bit of trouble telling that because a great number of commonly prescribed drugs’ exact mechanism of action is under research and remains unknown.”
    …and a far greater number have a well-known mechanism of action. Also, information builds and accumulates all the time. The “mechanism” of homeopathy is still purely speculative after 150 years.

    “The problem is, Talley, that the scientistics (i.e.people claiming that MD’s base all their medical knowledge on “evidence” or “science”) are not willing to admit or even notice that the Homeopaths and MD’s are both using the same methods – clinical experience and case histories, as the entire basis for their decisions.”
    Bullshit. Ever heard of clinical trials? Double-blind controlled studies? Of course not…you’re a homeopath.

    “And the “science” of the MD’s was recently challenged by none other than a classroom full of MD (to be) students in a Harvard pharmacology class. The students were a bit put off when their queries regarding some side effects of a cholesterol lowering drug were ridiculed by the Prof. One of the students apparently did a little background check and discovered that the Prof apparently was a paid consultant with 10 pharmaceutical companies, including the manufacturers
    of several cholesterol lowering drugs”
    OHNOES!!!!!ONE prof on the take!!!
    Well, I guess I’ll have to turn in my MD, then.

    Here is what Dr. M. Angell, author of “The Truth About the Drug Companies”, and a former editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine had to say:

    “But Dr. Marcia Angell, a faculty member and
    former editor in chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, is among the professors who argue that industry profit motives do not correspond to the scientific aims of academic medicine and that much of the financing needs to be not only disclosed, but banned. Too many medical schools, she says, have struck a “Faustian bargain” with pharmaceutical companies.”

    “If a school like Harvard can’t behave itself,” Dr. Angell said, “who can?”

    Good. Somebody widely respected is taking this problem on. However, this has absolutely nothing to do with the supposed scientific validity of homeopathy.

    “Now if the anti-Homeopathy woosters in this group and elsewhere want to rave on an on about their “science” and about how they claim that Homeopathy hasn’t any”

    But it doesn’t! Learn some basic physics and chemistry, dude.

    ” I think it is OK for us to suffer through their complete ignorance of Homeopathy research”

    What research?

    ” but there is no reason at all to accept their hypocrisy about “science” and how they claim somehow to be within its scope when stuff such as the above mentioned by Dr. Angell is going on right in the open as though it were somehow all OK.”
    Again, because some drug companies are colluding with some professors does not invalidate all of medical research, and does not validate what purports to be Homeopathic “research”

    “Some science.”

    …in homeopathy would be nice.

  27. #27 MikeMa
    April 25, 2009

    Not to be too cynical but mightn’t an MD want to increase traffic (profitable traffic) through his practice by adding a few nonsense degrees like homeopathy and the like? If you offer a service for money and the service is legal and the fools patients are willing to pay, motives and belief might be secondary considerations.

  28. #28 ScepticsBane
    April 25, 2009

    @ T Bruce McNeely

    ScepticsBane wrote:

    “The problem is, Talley, that the scientistics (i.e.people claiming that MD’s base all their medical knowledge on “evidence” or “science”) are not willing to admit or even notice that the Homeopaths and MD’s are both using the same methods – clinical experience and case histories, as the entire basis for their decisions.”

    To which T Bruce M. responded hastily…

    “Bullshit. Ever heard of clinical trials? Double-blind controlled studies? Of course not…you’re a homeopath.”

    To which ScepticsBane patiently admonishes –

    There are no clinical trials, on humans, for heart surgeries, knee replacement operations nor chemotherapy nor a great many other things and it would be terribly unethical if there were.

    You are confusing a standard method of scientific testing pharmaceutical drugs in a lab which only prepares them to be declared fit for human testing with the practice of medicine on human beings. These two things are quite different, though it may suit your arguments against Homeopathy to admit it. The widely touted “evidence” base of standard medicine is a fiction.

    A side note on the “scientific” testing of drugs in the lab… the appearance, with some regularity, of things like Vioxx indicates that their “science” needs some serious re-examination or the testing procedures need to be reworked. More correctly the entire system with cross influence between drug companies, medical colleges, FDA and other involved organizations and interests needs to be reformed.

    The evidence for both systems of medicine rests with the praxis of its practitioners – the expert surgeons and MD’s who sweat through operations, treat patients, find improvements and publish their results and analyze their cases with their colleagues. Exactly as the Homeopaths do with their cases and their methods.

  29. #29 PalMD
    April 25, 2009

    There are no clinical trials, on humans, for heart surgeries, knee replacement operations nor chemotherapy nor a great many other things and it would be terribly unethical if there were.

    I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are just ignorant, rather than being a lying sack of shit. There is no way in fucking hell anyone who reads medical literature regularly could think that these things have no clinical studies behind them.

    Please, let it be ignorance, and not mendacity.

  30. #30 danae
    April 25, 2009

    “There are no clinical trials, on humans, for heart surgeries, knee replacement operations nor chemotherapy nor a great many other things and it would be terribly unethical if there were.”

    Well, no they don’t drag passersby in off the sidewalk & say “hey, wanna try a new knee op?”. There is a lengthy process of development and testing that goes in to drug, medical device and medical procedure research. Lit searches, systematic reviews, data collection, theoretical models, lab prototypes, animal tests, simulation tests, reams and reams of paperwork, more animal trials, then various levels & grades of human trials, etc. So of course there are eventually clinical trials for all these things, but no, they don’t pop out of the ether of some MD’s imagination, nor would a hospital allow anyone to “just try something”. The heart assist devices and drugs I helped test back in the early 2000′s STILL have not emerged on the market, for one of a number of possible reasons. So clearly these things are not done willy nilly & are not taken to human clinical trial without great forethought & a lot of time and money.

  31. #31 ScepticsBane
    April 25, 2009

    @PalMD

    ScepticsBane stupidly said:

    “There are no clinical trials, on humans, for…”

    My apologies PalMD, that was hastily written, I meant to say
    there are no double blinded placebo controlled studies on humans of heart surgeries, chemotherapy, knee replacement operations… etc.

  32. #32 PalMD
    April 25, 2009

    /facepalm

    jeez, that’s not even wrong.

    First, a double blind rct is perhaps the best level of evidence, but other types of studies are also useful, such as non-db, case-control, cohort, etc.

    In certain serious illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease, it is unwise and unethical to have a placebo group, so usually a new intervention is tested against best current treatment.

    PubMed can be ur friend.

  33. #33 Michael Simpson
    April 25, 2009

    ScepticsBane says:

    A side note on the “scientific” testing of drugs in the lab… the appearance, with some regularity, of things like Vioxx indicates that their “science” needs some serious re-examination or the testing procedures need to be reworked.

    Where’s the proof? Oh, there isn’t any. Vioxx is not dangerous, and it’s a travesty as to what happened. It took wide release to uncover the very rare adverse events, because it was so rare. Second, all drugs have risks, because that’s the nature of the beast. It’s a risk/benefit that everyone accepts, because the benefit almost always outweighs the risk. In fact, Vioxx has a great benefit, especially because a prescribing physician would know to whom to prescribe the drug.

    Homeopaths deliver water, which can rehydrate someone. There you go, I’ve completed your science course for you.

    Grrrrr.

  34. #34 ema
    April 25, 2009

    There are no clinical trials, on humans, for heart surgeries, knee replacement operations nor chemotherapy nor a great many other things and it would be terribly unethical if there were.

    To which ema somewhat bored admonishes -

    If you want to play with PalMD & co., it’s counterproductive to post stuff that will make them keel over and die with laughter. You need them awake and alert in order to, you know, have a dialogue.

  35. #35 ema
    April 25, 2009

    there are no double blinded placebo controlled studies on humans…

    Quick! Alert all the scientists and the, you know, human patients involved with this randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial for chemotherapy that they do not, in fact, exist.

    Then make sure to come back here and regale us with tales of how your humorous pronouncements and, for that matter, actual medical research, support your quirky personal belief that Homeopathy does, too, have evidence and science. [Oops, I mean "evidence" and "science."]

  36. #36 Zar
    April 25, 2009

    So, homeopathy involves the “memory of water”, right? Hasn’t just about everything been dissolved in water at some point or another? So why buy special homeopathy water, when I can get a panacea just by drinking from a well? Is because it didn’t go through the special shaking? It’s the shaking, isn’t it.

  37. #37 prolix
    April 25, 2009

    So why buy special homeopathy water, when I can get a panacea just by drinking from a well? Is because it didn’t go through the special shaking? It’s the shaking, isn’t it.

    Because your method of doing homeopathy doesn’t work and the standard method, described in Hahnemann’s Organon does.

  38. #38 prolix
    April 25, 2009

    If it’s a common mistake, given how misleading it is, shouldn’t people with this degree take some responsibility for making sure they’re not accidentally misrepresented as having a degree they don’t have?

    Since the DHt is only open to licensed doctors (have a look at the page) confusion over the meaning of the initials is of little consequence.

  39. #39 Jennifer B. Phillips (aka Danio)
    April 25, 2009

    Since the DHt is only open to licensed doctors (have a look at the page) confusion over the meaning of the initials is of little consequence.

    Except that Patricia Fitzgerald, it would seem, doesn’t have a doctoral degree from anywhere if it didn’t come from AIH. So there may be a teensy bit of consequential confusion after all.

  40. #40 reader
    April 25, 2009

    Found this one online: ‘Homeopathic Doctor’ Doctorate Degree “Additional Level InformationCredits: 30
    Hours of Study required: 450
    Diploma : Homeopathic Doctor
    The diploma will be delivered after presentation of a one year practice proof.”

    That is a who lot less than my second degree and I am far from having a doctorate.

  41. #41 Dr Benway
    April 25, 2009

    Dear homeopaths,

    You claim your dilute remedies with no active ingredients are somehow more than mere water. This is a physics claim. You must prove your case to the physicists first. Once they’re on board, the doctors can do some trials.

    So ta-ta for now. Bring your shiny Nobel Prize for us to admire upon your return.

  42. #42 ScepticsBane
    April 26, 2009

    @ “Woosters” Ema, Dr. Benway, Danio, Zar, Simpson et al

    First of all, Homeopathy colleges and Homeopathy itself, were systematically killed off, not by scientific refutation but instead, by deliberate political manipulations of the AMA starting around 150 years ago. So great was the threat of Homeopathy, that the AMA resorted to the extraordinary expediency of threatening to expel MD’s who used or advocated Homeopathy. The AMA would re-instate obedient MD’s who recanted and disavowed Homeopathy.

    It is no wonder then, that there is a confusion of titles, courses, programs, degrees – what we are seeing is the rebirth of a system of medicine whose entire infrastructure and legal status was all but destroyed in the U.S. Yes, that’s right, it was essentially forbidden medicine, so determined was the AMA at accomplishing its complete extirpation. The last of the professional Homeopathy medical colleges in the U.S. closed its doors in the 1930′s. But the tide began to turn over 30 years ago when the AMA tried the same stunt against the Chiropractors, whose own medical society was ready for them, fought back aggressively and the AMA lost a landmark court case involving attempted medical monopolism.

    So much for “science” being a factor in this.

    Now regarding the infinitesimal doses characteristic of Homeopathy, though not all its remedies use ultra high dilutions, a great many do and, paradoxically, the higher the dilution supposedly the greater the “potency”.

    Several of you follow the typical “wooster” routine and either ridicule or else dismiss out of hand the utilization of such high dilutions as being absurd. So did I initially upon reading of Homeopathy. If there were no biological scientific experimentation supporting effects from such high dilutions, I would not have given it another thought. But there is and it is easy to find genuine scientific research, mostly by biochemical or pharmacological researchers who are not Homeopaths, which clearly shows biological activity being stimulated by such high dilutions, as though molecules of the stimulant were still there. These researchers admit that there is no known scientific explanation for this effect and yes the experiments have been repeated with the same results. Those experiments show that there may indeed be a scientific basis for Homeopathy.

    So now, instead of displaying total ignorance of Homeopathy and sabotaging the work of legitimate scientific researchers with ridicule which, as we all know, will serve nicely to kill off funding and stop the research… and instead of telling us that perfectly intelligent and scientifically minded MD’s somehow lapse into self delusion or, worse, quackery when they adopt Homeopathy into their practice…. how about the nice, usually intelligent skeptics learn to do some reading, learn about Homeopathy and try to comment intelligently about it, even if still skeptical.

    @Simpson
    “Vioxx is not dangerous, and it’s a travesty as to what happened. It took wide release to uncover the very rare adverse events, because it was so rare. Second, all drugs have risks, because that’s the nature of the beast. It’s a risk/benefit that everyone accepts, because the benefit almost always outweighs the risk.”

    Simpson, you want to rethink this statement you made above?
    Or is this much touted “science” a wee bit less certain than at first implied…sort of like Homeopathy?

    You see Simpson, that word “almost” that you mentioned is making some people avoid standard medicine and use Homeopathy.
    After all, it’s “just” water…isn’t it?

  43. #43 Ciaphas
    April 26, 2009

    Of course Homeopathy works; it uses well know magical laws! It’s a brilliant combination of the Law of Similarity with the Law of Contagion. To ignore this is an obvious breach of the Law of Finite Senses that should be obvious to anyone with even basic knowledge of thaumaturgy.

    This message has been sent from an alternate universe via an iPhone

  44. #44 T. Bruce McNeely
    April 26, 2009

    “But there is and it is easy to find genuine scientific research, mostly by biochemical or pharmacological researchers who are not Homeopaths, which clearly shows biological activity being stimulated by such high dilutions, as though molecules of the stimulant were still there.”

    Sorry, I just don’t believe you.

  45. #45 Kathleen Seidel
    April 26, 2009

    From my article, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? (see my blog for links to sources):

    “Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN)” [is] a credential awarded by the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board (CNCB). CNCB was established in 1990 by the International and American Associations of Clinical Nutrition (IAACN) and incorporated as a non-profit, tax exempt agency in 1994. According to CNCB, the CCN examination was developed to provide “certification for alternative or complementary medical, clinical nutrition and health care organizations” and “multi-disciplinary healthcare practitioners who wish to incorporate clinical nutrition into their practice.” (IAACN counts Doctor’s Data, Inc. among its corporate members.) CNCB grants certification to Bachelor’s degree holders who have successfully completed fifteen hours of undergraduate coursework in nutrition, a 56-hour correspondence course offered by the Board and a certification test, but requires no clinical experience or supervision. (In contrast, the American College of Nutrition’s Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists requires candidates to possess an advanced degree in nutrition, or 50 hours of continuing education plus 500-1000 hour post-graduate supervised field experience.) CNCB’s Chairman, James O. Henry, Jr., D.D.S., was Chairman of Professional Benefits Insurance Company, declared insolvent by the Texas Attorney General’s office in 1998. IAACN’s Vice-President of Education and co-signer of Mariea’s CCN certification, Frank O. McGehee, M.D., is a board-certified ophthalmologist who received his nutritionist credential from IAACN; he is proprietor of East Texas Weight Loss Center, offering chelation and the treatment of chronic illnesses. Dr. McGehee’s testimonial is prominently featured in advertising materials for the oral chelator Detoxamin.

  46. #46 Whitecoat Tales
    April 26, 2009

    Because your method of doing homeopathy doesn’t work and the standard method, described in Hahnemann’s Organon does.

    If only that were true. I’d love to prescribe my patients magic water without side effects and have it work, ethically.

    Of course, the balance of evidence says that your magic water is no more magic than my tap water.

    If there were no biological scientific experimentation supporting effects from such high dilutions, I would not have given it another thought. But there is and it is easy to find genuine scientific research, mostly by biochemical or pharmacological researchers who are not Homeopaths, which clearly shows biological activity being stimulated by such high dilutions, as though molecules of the stimulant were still there. These researchers admit that there is no known scientific explanation for this effect and yes the experiments have been repeated with the same results. Those experiments show that there may indeed be a scientific basis for Homeopathy.

    Thats pretty darn deceptive right there. If there is such scientific research, cite it. Please note though, that “The Journal of Wild Goose” and any journal that quotes Dana Ullman is not a valid resource.
    If there is no such research (and a quick pubmed reveals no such research) than you’re just lieing to people to make it SEEM like homeopathy is reasonable.

  47. #47 Dr Benway
    April 26, 2009

    ScepticsBane, you sneaky bastard, no fair leaving out the physicists. For if “memory water” is proven, they’ll have to re-write all their textbooks.

    Pretty impolite ignoring them then making them do so much work, no?

    Go get yourself right with the physicists. We shall wait right here.

    Ta-ta!

  48. #48 ScepticsBane
    April 27, 2009

    @Whitecoat Tales and Dr. Benway

    Google M. Ennis for starters – bona fide pharmacological researcher, skeptic of Homeopathy – but she admits there is no scientific explanation for her experimental results, originally published in Inflammation Research, vol 53, clearly showing biological effect from a high dilution solution which should no longer contain any molecules of the stimulant substance. The experiment has since been repeated several times, the majority with positive results.

    Next try googling chemist Louis Rey and Homeopathy.

    Then try Dr. Rustum Roy – he’s “controversial”, that means he speaks his mind without worrying about whose theory gets insulted. He can afford to be since he’s an established professor emeritus of materials science, author of a famous textbook on chemistry.

  49. #49 Officer Logic
    April 27, 2009

    ScepticsBane,

    You were warned that you must take your case for “memory water” to the physicists, as the concept violates basic thermodynamics.

    Today I’m issuing a citation for non-responsiveness. Three citations and the titmouses poop on your head.

    Good day, Sir.

  50. #50 Joe
    April 27, 2009

    @ScepticsBane | April 27, 2009 8:31 AM

    M. Ennis’ results have never been replicated by reliable scientists, she is in the same category as Beneveniste.

    As for Nostrum Roy, his latest work (Homeopathy (2007) 96, 175–182) is sloppier than a high-school science project doi:10.1016/j.homp.2007.10.004, available online at http://www.sciencedirect.com I am sorry, it seems to be gone from the Net. Basically, his “reference standard” for alcohol was highly contaminated (if it was alcohol at all), and his other spectra looked like what one would expect from various production batches of alcohol; compounded by sloppy handling of the material/equipment. I have to concede that Roy is senior to me; but I have not been screwing-up like he has.

  51. #51 ScepticsBane
    April 27, 2009

    @Joe

    On the issue of Dr. Roy, I have heard others complain about his spectra analysis too. For my sources, I use his web site and his water structure papers which, he is careful to explain, do not prove Homeopathy but absolutely refute those making the “just water” claims. I’ll leave that for the scientists to debate and decide.

    On the repeats of M. Ennis’ experiments, I see several with some failures and some confirms, exactly what one would expect – and I see other experiments by completely different researchers with positive results for high dilution solutions having biological effects.

    She remains a sceptic of Homeopathy, and properly so from her pure science point of view, I believe, and in her Infl. Research paper honestly admits there is no scientific explanation and openly asks for repetition and confirmation.

    The only oddity I see is this supposed 2001 BBC Horizon documentary’s “repetition” of Ennis’ experiment with negative results. Ennis, along with some angry Homeopaths, pestered the BBC producers for details and Ennis herself eventually learned from the BBC researcher that he had added aluminum chloride, a chemical known to kill the cells under test, thus ruining their experiment from the outset. There were other experimentally significant variances from Ennis’ experiment, none of them were told to the Royal Society monitor of the experiment and to this day the announcer in the documentary and the wikipedia article about Ennis wrongly report that this “repetition” of her experiment resulted in failure to show any effect.

  52. #52 Joe
    April 27, 2009

    “@Joe On the issue of Dr. Roy, I have heard others complain about his spectra analysis too.” Posted by: ScepticsBane | April 27, 2009 3:50 PM”

    I am not merely complaining. I teach this in University. I once helped a retarded (high school) boy do a better science project than Roy has done. When we got our result, the boy asked “How can we know this is right?”. That is the sort of sophisticated question that eludes Roy when he sees what he wants to see.

    As for Ennis, I see you are still quoting (unreliable) popular media. ‘Nuff said.

  53. #53 ScepticsBane
    April 27, 2009

    @Joe

    You teach at the same University, then go up to him and tell him what you think, we’d all (well, some of us) would love to hear his reply.

    Re: Ennis – No actually I was relying on emails sent to and from the producers of the documentary and published reproduced at some Homeopathic web site. Search for the terms “homeopathy” and “wayne turnbull” (the name of the BBC researcher) and “Ennis” and it should also easily be found. If I recall correctly, there was also an article about it at the New Zealand Homeopathy Society web site in the “articles” section. Happy readings!

  54. #54 Joe
    April 27, 2009

    @skepticsbane, “You teach at the same University, then go up to him and tell him what you think, we’d all (well, some of us) would love to hear his reply.”

    No,I never taught at Penn State; Roy is just a well-known penis.

    @skepticsbane, “Re: Ennis – No actually I was relying on emails sent to and from the producers of the documentary and published reproduced at some Homeopathic web site. Search for the terms “homeopathy” and “wayne turnbull” (the name of the BBC researcher) and “Ennis” and it should also easily be found.”

    So, you have no reliable literature to cite. Don’t ask me to look for your literature, you can always say that I chose the wrong stuff. Aside from Wiki and TV programs, what do you think supports your notions? You need to cite something you think is reliable.

  55. #56 Josh
    May 15, 2009

    Lots of back and forth here but it seems no middle ground. Why can’t those from the Western medicine side of the argument acknowledge the exploitation of their science through the billion dollar pharmaceutical industry that agrees that horrific side effects (that may even include death) are a legitimate trade-offs for the disease? And why can’t the Eastern medicine side of the argument admit that some “alternative” medicine may in fact be quackery and guesswork? Both sides are too busy ridiculing the other that they leave out these truths in the argument.

    My question is this: How do you explain the success or lack of success from both sides of the coin? I have done homeopathy as a patient for 4 years. Very limited results. I worked with an osteopath. Very limited results. I have done some acupuncture. Decent results. Massage. Decent results. Chiropractic. Okay results. Antibiotics. Sometimes better, sometimes worse. Both sides a mixed bag to be sure. Don’t we have to take into consideration the quality of the caregiver, the attitude of the patient, how much the patient sleeps, exercises, their nutrition, genetics, the length of the care, spirituality?

    All I know is that you cannot throw a pill at every problem and that you cannot simply attribute success of unorthodox methods to the placebo effect. It’s not good enough to have medications that cause more problems than they solve nor is it good to believe that every “alternative” method is sound. We need to be vehement about the lack of science in alternative medicine yes but we also need to acknowledge the myriad ways that we are deceived by BOTH sides in the name of huge profit. There will always be the mechanic that screws you and will always be the one that helps you take care of your car.

    What we do know is that the body/mind connection does exist, that no problem can be isolated from every other factor in the body, mind, and spirit, and that there is no one answer, magic bullet, or perfect science. We are all trying to piece together some basic truths from the wisdom of the ages and the innovations of the new. We have an opportunity to teach each other rather than fight tooth and nail for our well-designed half-truths.

    Can we admit that there is corruption, deception, and quackery on both sides of the fence?

    Can we possibly admit that none of us knows everything?

    So is it then possible that there are benefits to an integrated approach to our health, something to be gained from both heads of the wisdom coin? Is it possible that both sides can focus on what is right and true and correct about “their” and each other’s approaches and stop attacking what they believe is the dead wrong of the other side?

    In the world I live in, I am constantly challenged to try and understand the nature of life which I believe is paradox, seeming contradiction, tradition, and innovation. There is black and white, yes but more often I have found the deepest truths lie in the gray in between.

    I prefer the integration of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, two great tastes that taste great together. Think about it.

    My two cents.

    Josh

  56. #57 LanceR, JSG
    May 15, 2009

    False middle ground. You have to give evidence if you want “alternative” medicine to become real medicine. It’s as simple as that. Just because real medicine cannot wave a magic wand and cure everything does *not* mean that some twit with a magic wand might be able to.

  57. #58 PAULINA RENDON
    July 20, 2009

    Welll I just wanted to say that Patricia actually has helped me a lot nothing that DRUGS have done. I am from Ecuador and you know people in my contry have not the obesity problem, and also all this names such as fibromyalgia, and names that when scientists from the USA went to my country the indigenous were just laughing as they never heard or experiment, in their bodies those illneses. (By the way people live for many years more of the average american) Simply the foods and drugs administration gets millions through drugs which is the REAL NAME. I think some drugs can help but about healing hum……..I do believe after seeing my Grandmather died of 98 years old that good food exercise, laugh, good heart, gives you more than just writing an article which is very innacurate and poor. Get a life

  58. #59 T. Bruce McNeely
    July 20, 2009

    “By the way people live for many years more of the average american”

    2008 figures for life expectancy:
    USA 78.06
    Ecuador 76.62

    BTW I am from Canada – 80.34

    Just sayin’

  59. #60 Kevin Laffey
    November 14, 2009

    For someone who “likes communicating some of that joy to others”, there is no joy in this blog, merely the rantings of a man too self conscious to reveal his name, too bent on feeding fear and suspicion to generate the joy that comes with an open mind, open dialog and the curiosity of a true physician, a healer, who’s only goal should be to benefit others as per the oath he’s taken. He casts a pall on fellow internists by taking cheap shots from afar at someone he doesn’t know working in area he doesn’t understand, making assumptions that aren’t vetted and spreading the vile hate-speak of one who passes judgment before careful consideration of the facts, of medical history, not just of Western medicine born in the last 200 years, but of Eastern medicine that’s been practiced for the last 2,000.

    Norman Lear wrote a book about the healing power of laughter. What healing is there in creating bias, distrust, in closing minds to possibility? One wonders how successful he is in his own practice when his ego needs to be fed by anointing himself judge and jury, by a need to append his machismo with a Freudian photo of the faux white hunter in his long boat, who provides contact information with the caveat “Don’t hold your breath for an answer.” That is the work of a minion, of an internist lacking an internal landscape, of one who knows his limits and does everything he can to prevent others from knowing them, too, with a small, rigid mindset frightened of change.

    To wit, I am thankful that the true heart of medical inquiry and the desire to continue research, to look beyond the obvious, the safe, the mundane and into the human potential, into the ability inherent in us to manifest our own well being by providing the tools and confidence to do so still exists in medical professionals such as Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald. PalMD is no pal of medicine, only the medical establishment. While he celebrates the exclusivity of that old boys club, his mind isn’t expansive enough to ever consider the inclusiveness necessary for articles such as this that promise there are still those that can check their ego at the door and aren’t so ready to discount anything when it comes to the magic, mystery and art of healing:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-patricia-fitzgerald/what-inspired-a-scientist_b_228356.html

  60. #61 Khalihs
    January 10, 2010

    The National Institutes of Health ia/are researching claims related to homeopathy:

    http://search2.google.cit.nih.gov/search?site=NIH_Master&client=NIHNEW_frontend&proxystylesheet=NIHNEW_frontend&output=xml_no_dtd&filter=0&getfields=*&q=homeopathy&btnG.x=0&btnG.y=0&btnG=search

    If you desire an objective exploration of Homeopathy in the USA:

    http://nccam.nih.gov/health/homeopathy/homeopathy.pdf

    Her is a site that gives information on traditional uses, methods used, what the current science says, and possible side-effects of alternative medicines – basically it’s a consumer-awareness, objective overview of various, common alternative (including homeopathic) treatments:

    http://health.nih.gov/topic/AlternativeMedicine

    The “Scientific Method” defined:

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/scientific+method?o=100074