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Homeopathy - Why the Bad Rap?

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Lately, homeopathy has been getting a beating from various “quack-busters” and “independent” researchers, many of whom have hidden financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.  Those who scoff at homeopathy as being nothing more than sugar pills or placebo assert that homeopathy cannot be “proven” on the basis of randomized, controlled trials (RCT’s), the current “gold standard” of pharmaceutical drug testing. While this is a bit like comparing apples and oranges, nevertheless some current, documented scientific research does exist to back up the positive results thousands of people have experienced from homeopathy during its 200+ year history.

We are lucky to live in a time where clicking just a few keys allows access to many websites, including scientific journals and scholarly publications.  And despite the slippery slope of assessing the quality and bias that exist even within RCT’s, enough positive results show that even here, homeopathy emerges as more than mere placebo.

Numerous trials have been conducted that show a statistically significant positive outcome for homeopathic remedies on various conditions, despite the difficulty of testing something so individually-prescribed.  The bulk of RCTs are testing one substance’s action on the symptoms of a specific disease diagnosed within a large number of people.  Such a “one size fits all” hypothesis is directly opposite homeopathic practice, where a remedy is prescribed individually on the basis of each person’s particular symptoms and not on the disease category they may or may not fall into.   Even so, various trials do show positive evidence of homeopathy’s action.  Here are a few resources on RCT’s of homeopathic remedies: www.library.nhs.uk (click on “homeopathy”), www.homeopathy-ecch.org and a systematic review of the quality of homeopathic trials at www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6882/1/12/

When independent researchers reviewed various homeopathic trials, their conclusion was “… it became clear to us that using review criteria based on diagnostic classifications developed for assessing conventional medicine did not address the differing classification frameworks between homeopathy and conventional medicine.” Jonas, Anderson, Crawford and Lyons, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2001; 1: 12.   Therefore to more accurately assess the efficacy of homeopathic treatment, new and different methods of testing need to be developed.

While homeopathy’s benefits aren’t easily measured through RCT’s, their safety record far surpasses that of pharmaceutical medications.  Every year previously approved and widely prescribed pharmaceutical drugs are withdrawn from the market due to safety issues; a survey in 2000 showed that adverse effects or complications from drugs and medical treatment was the 3rd largest cause of death in the US, only behind cancer and heart disease. (JAMA. 2000;284:483-485).  Pharmaceutical companies pay out billions of dollars annually in settlements for damages or fraudulent marketing practices (on Oct. 16th 2009 Pfizer agreed to pay a record $2.3 billion settlement for fraudulently promoting their drug Bextra after it had been withdrawn in 2006 due to serious side effects – see www.adrugrecall.com/bextra/side-effects.html).  Even over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol are now linked to causing asthma and overuse can lead to serious liver damage and death.   

Homeopathy is inexpensive medicine that cannot be patented and is prescribed on the individual’s symptoms.  It is made from natural substances whose only alteration is an extensive dilution and succession (shaking) process.  No chemicals are added, and through the continual dilution, any harmful action of the original substance is removed.  This means homeopathic remedies are safe, even if a wrong prescription is made or excessive amounts consumed. 

As homeopathy is individual medicine, it doesn’t fit into the “one size fits all” method of conventional medical prescribing. In homeopathy, the individual symptoms a person is experiencing are the most important criteria in selecting a remedy, rather than their medical diagnosis.  If someone takes a remedy and nothing happens, it’s not that homeopathy doesn’t work – it’s just the wrong choice of remedy.  Fortunately the only result of a “wrong” remedy is simply that nothing happens; finding a remedy that more accurately reflects the person’s symptoms is needed to stimulate a cure.  

The great benefit of living in this country means we have access to a wide variety of medical and alternative health care and using one modality doesn’t exclude using others when indicated.  Taking responsibility for our health and well-being means exploring, researching and above all, weighing our own experiences in what can best support us to live fulfilling and vital lives.  Homeopathy has been gently but profoundly curing and caring for people for over 200 years. Take a look at www.homeopathy.org or www.homeopathic.org to get an idea of just how useful and popular homeopathy is.

 

Susan Drury, RSHom(NA), CCH is a homeopathic practitioner working in N. Vancouver, B.C.  Along with her private practice, she regularly teaches classes in helping people use homeopathy and other natural remedies to both avoid and treat acute illness as well as other common conditions.  She can be reached at 604-671-7863 and her website is www.healinglifehomeopathy.com 

 

(10) Comments

Beacon Schuler November 11th 2009 | 3:03 AM
I often hear that people who speak out against homeopathy are in the pay of big pharma. I was wondering why no-one ever names names. Who is being paid, and by which companies? I'm sure such serious accusations must come from somewhere other than idle conjecture, so who got busted? Also, I often hear that there are no side-effects. I was wondering what sort of "yellow card" system existed for homeaopthy or, for that matter, any other kind of alternative medicine. I know what to do if I develop strange symptoms while on medication; no idea who to go to if I get dizzy spells while taking homeopathic remedies.... I understand the point being made about RCTs. So here's what you do. You take a large number of people who have been diagnosed with an illness, give them a homeopathy diagnosis, and a homeopathy prescription and send them to collect it. Here's the clever bit, you randomise them - half of them get the remedy, and the other half get the placebo. The homeopathist don't know who gets what, the patient-facing dispenser doesn't know who gets what, the patients themselves don't know who gets what. I'm sure the multi-billion dollar CAM industry could easily afford such research, and would be doing a valuable service to science in the process. And here's the thing... without that evidence, what do homeopathists think they are doing when they make claims for their treatments?
I'm pretty surprised and annoyed that a website such as The Vancouver Observer, which should strive to be a respected and trusted 'news magazine', would spread such blatant falsehoods and misleading information on topics such as homeopathy and numerology (another ridiculous column found on this site). Anyone who is interested in homeopathy should also look to skeptic sites/resources (not paid for by any pharmaceutical company) and sites/resources that look at science, not just outdated beliefs. Homeopathy - no matter what homeopaths try to tell you - truly does not sell any remedies except water or sugar pills, which may have an ingredient that is diluted at least 1 in a million parts, or as many as 1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 parts (no joke!). There is no medicine or herbal remedy or anything like that in homeopathic treatments. This nonsense that homepathic treatments can't be tested in the same way as traditional medicine is a scapegoat that homeopaths have been relying on for ages. The only reason homeopathy works for some people is because they believe it works. Our attitude and mental state when it comes to any form of treatment can be very important. It's the same as me taking crystals and searching for your energy zones, or claiming that if enough people think really hard then we can cure all the world problems. None of this is proven for one simple reason - it's completely untrue. Please research for yourself and note that two of the three sites this column links to are organizations that support homeopathy. Another site (linked to above) found this result: "The results of the available randomised trials suggest that individualised homeopathy has an effect over placebo. The evidence, however, is not convincing because of methodological shortcomings and inconsistencies. Further research should focus on replication of existing promising studies. New randomised studies should be preceded by pilot studies." Is this the most promising research that's been done on a treatment that has been around for about 300 years???
susandrury November 11th 2009 | 4:16 PM

Thank you for commenting however 2 of the 3 links to research articles measuring homeopathic treatment came from sites which index a wide variety of publications on all kind of medical information and research and have no bias towards or against homeopathy. The fact that some of the articles were published in the Journal for Alternative and Complementary Medicine or the Oxford Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal  does not imply a bias towards homeopathy despite results showing homeopathic remedies were effective.

The 3rd research article link is to the European Central Council of Homeopaths which is the representative platform for the homeopathic profession in Europe and made up of 26 different member professional associations in 22 countries.  So while research continues to consist largely of randomized controlled trials which are not equipped to adequately measure homeopathy's action, enough professionals world-wide continue to heal their patients safely and gently  - including babies and animals who have no vested belief in what they are given to explain the results as mere placebo effect .

The 2 links at the bottom of the article are to homeopathic organizations here within North America.  They were included for those people who are curious to learn more about homeopathy - not to inflame those who are dead set against it. 

ordeneus November 11th 2009 | 7:19 PM
I have to agree with Les A. What an absolute load of nonsense! http://crispian-jago.blogspot.com/2009/09/if-homeopathy-works-ill-drink-...
abbyna March 22nd 2010 | 8:08 AM
In my opinion , the supplements are welcomed when you follow a HCG diet Seattle or in case you are an athlete and you need more energy that the rest of us .
wcullen March 23rd 2010 | 6:18 PM


In 1976, the FTC ordered the Simeon Management Corporation, Simeon Weight Clinics Foundation, Bariatrics Management Corporation, C.M. Norcal, Inc., and HCG Weight Clinics Foundation and their officers to stop claiming that their HCG-based programs were safe, effective, and/or approved by the FDA for weight-control. Although the order did not stop the clinics from using HCG, it required that patients who contract for the treatment be informed in writing that:

THESE WEIGHT REDUCTION TREATMENTS INCLUDE THE INJECTION OF HCG, A DRUG WHICH HAS NOT BEEN APPROVED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION AS SAFE AND EFFECTIVE IN THE TREATMENT OF OBSITY OR WEIGHT CONTROL. THERE IS NO SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE THAT HCG INCEASES WEIGHT LOSS BEYOND THAT RESULTING FROM CALORIC RESTRICTION, THAT IT CAUSES A MORE ATTRACTIVE OR "NORMAL" DISTRIBUTION OF FAT, OR THAT IT DECREASES THE HUNGER AND DISCOMFORT ASSOCIATED WITH CALORIE-RESTRICTIVE DIETS [15].

Since 1975, the FDA has required labeling and advertising of HCG to state:

HCG has not been demonstrated to be effective adjunctive therapy in the treatment of obesity. There is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction, that it causes a more attractive or "normal" distribution of fat, or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets.

Not that this'll be enough

cavaet emptor

http://www.dietscam.org/reports/hcg.shtml
abraham811 July 13th 2010 | 6:18 PM
Hi Susan, Thank you so much for writting this article and for answering this critic so well. Homeopathy does work and is in my opinion the best medecin in the world. I had been extremely sick of depression and all the side effect of the bad pharmaceutical medications for 9 years. I met in my opinion the best Homeopath in the world here in Moncton N.B, Canada. He studied in India and also teached the most advance course of homeopathic medecin in the world also given in a College in India. He has cure 15 members of my family including my grandma of High bllod pressure and Osteoporosis which she had for 20 years, cured my aunt of depression and addiction, cured my aunt of cancer, and another 13 members of my family of diverse health problems and diseases. He had tremendously helped and cured over 300 people that I personally sent to him in the pass 9 years and I appreciate you writting this article so much. i've also done my researched and I'm quite aware of the power of the pharmaceutical companies and how they are funding many major world wide so called "quack watch organisation" for the sole purpose of attacking homepathis medecin and to hurt it's reputation. Readers should take note that many organisations that are suppose to be "quack watch" often only attack homeopathy but do not put much time on other subjects and issues around the world. Homeopathy is the best and is very scientific and the pharmaceutical companies are a bunch of murderers and liars! HOMEOPATHY IS THE BEST!! All the attackers of homeopathy can keep taking their pahrmaceutical drugs when they feel sick and I will keep taking my homeopathic medecin and I'll gladly go visit their graves and bring them flowers and offer my sympathies to their family members because they were deceived by the drug companies!! God bless! Sincerely, Abraham811
abraham811 July 13th 2010 | 6:18 PM
Hi Susan, Thank you so much for writting this article and for answering this critic so well. Homeopathy does work and is in my opinion the best medecin in the world. I had been extremely sick of depression and all the side effect of the bad pharmaceutical medications for 9 years. I met in my opinion the best Homeopath in the world here in Moncton N.B, Canada. He studied in India and also teached the most advance course of homeopathic medecin in the world also given in a College in India. He has cure 15 members of my family including my grandma of High bllod pressure and Osteoporosis which she had for 20 years, cured my aunt of depression and addiction, cured my aunt of cancer, and another 13 members of my family of diverse health problems and diseases. He had tremendously helped and cured over 300 people that I personally sent to him in the pass 9 years and I appreciate you writting this article so much. i've also done my researched and I'm quite aware of the power of the pharmaceutical companies and how they are funding many major world wide so called "quack watch organisation" for the sole purpose of attacking homepathis medecin and to hurt it's reputation. Readers should take note that many organisations that are suppose to be "quack watch" often only attack homeopathy but do not put much time on other subjects and issues around the world. Homeopathy is the best and is very scientific and the pharmaceutical companies are a bunch of murderers and liars! HOMEOPATHY IS THE BEST!! All the attackers of homeopathy can keep taking their pahrmaceutical drugs when they feel sick and I will keep taking my homeopathic medecin and I'll gladly go visit their graves and bring them flowers and offer my sympathies to their family members because they were deceived by the drug companies!! God bless! Sincerely, Abraham811
abraham811 July 13th 2010 | 6:18 PM
Hi Susan, Thank you so much for writting this article and for answering this critic so well. Homeopathy does work and is in my opinion the best medecin in the world. I had been extremely sick of depression and all the side effect of the bad pharmaceutical medications for 9 years. I met in my opinion the best Homeopath in the world here in Moncton N.B, Canada. He studied in India and also teached the most advance course of homeopathic medecin in the world also given in a College in India. He has cure 15 members of my family including my grandma of High bllod pressure and Osteoporosis which she had for 20 years, cured my aunt of depression and addiction, cured my aunt of cancer, and another 13 members of my family of diverse health problems and diseases. He had tremendously helped and cured over 300 people that I personally sent to him in the pass 9 years and I appreciate you writting this article so much. i've also done my researched and I'm quite aware of the power of the pharmaceutical companies and how they are funding many major world wide so called "quack watch organisation" for the sole purpose of attacking homepathis medecin and to hurt it's reputation. Readers should take note that many organisations that are suppose to be "quack watch" often only attack homeopathy but do not put much time on other subjects and issues around the world. Homeopathy is the best and is very scientific and the pharmaceutical companies are a bunch of murderers and liars! HOMEOPATHY IS THE BEST!! All the attackers of homeopathy can keep taking their pahrmaceutical drugs when they feel sick and I will keep taking my homeopathic medecin and I'll gladly go visit their graves and bring them flowers and offer my sympathies to their family members because they were deceived by the drug companies!! God bless! Sincerely, Abraham811
Shinto February 6th 2011 | 6:18 PM

Quack science is still quack science.

If the theory is true. Then the water used in Homeopathy contains every active ingredient that it has been exposed to that nature itself has diluted thousands of times. That includes my feces, waste products of every creature on earth, the dirt, etc etc.  If Homeopathy was true the ocean is the biggest cure on this planet.  

Homeopathy is still bunk. And it has never worked. Name one person who was cured of a fatal disease with homeopathy? More has died from not getting proper treatments than this has saved.  Nobody was cured of cancer with Homeopathy. This is a blatant lie espoused  by crooks who is selling you nothing more than WATER.  Provide REAL evidence and none of these anecdotal evidence. That person who cured his family from India I'd like to see real evidence of this.