Finding the Right Homeopathic Key to Fit the Lock

During the four years of homeopathic training, I consulted with a gifted and compassionate homeopath to try and find a curative remedy for the episodes of trigeminal pain that continued to tear through my face.  I was the kind of patient that would discourage most practitioners – one after another, no remedy touched the pain.  Other things improved, I’d feel better emotionally, my homeopathic education was enhanced and I learned a great deal, but despite a number of well thought out homeopathic prescriptions, I would still be forced to resort to pharmaceuticals in ever higher doses for months on end.  At times I wondered if my TGN was incurable – even homeopathy cannot cure everything, although a good remedy should still bring some kind of improvement in the person’s well-being.

 With the lack of improvement, searching for the right remedy was always in the back of my mind;  continuing my own study and research, part of my brain would be sifting through remedy descriptions looking for one whose symptomatic puzzle pieces matched the pattern of my own.  Unfortunately there are many remedies which can be indicated in neuralgic pain, so the key is to find the one which matches not only the pain symptoms, but the other aspects of a person as well.  In the school clinic, we worked with clients and marveled as complex and diverse conditions such as colitis, Myasthenia gravis, depression, hyperactivity, hormone disorders and endometriosis gradually improved as a result of the remedies we prescribed so I had continual evidence that homeopathy worked – even if I was the exception.  In any event, I wasn’t going to change my commitment to homeopathy as it continued to live up to my expectations in every other way.

 Using homeopathy to treat my children for various illnesses was a huge help and doctor’s visits became a rarity.  Whether it was a sudden ear infection or a bout of intestinal flu or an accidental injury, homeopathic remedies were all we needed to quickly and gently resolve the problem.  My husband’s recurring chest and shoulder pain faded away, never to return.  Even our cats responded well when I used homeopathy to heal wounds or abscesses so there were plenty of examples that kept me believing in it. 

 Before graduating, I wrote a lengthy research paper.  Although I was not currently in a TGN episode, it was never far from my thoughts.  Gathering material from a particular book, I stumbled across a description of an emotional characteristic of a long-used but not widely known (to me) remedy that struck me as exactly how I felt.  This remedy was one of the hundred plus which can have neuralgic pain but I had never taken it.  Always willing to experiment, I decided to take a dose the next time the pain kicked in and see what happened.  I didn’t have long to wait; three weeks later, standing in the kitchen, the familiar burning pain suddenly shot across my face.  Carefully I got the remedy and put it in my mouth, trying not to exacerbate the pain.  Suddenly, instantly, there was a complete absence of pain.  I shook my head a little – nothing happened.  I opened my mouth wide and pretended to chew – nothing happened.  The pain had simply vanished, and stayed away for the course of days.  Eventually when there was a recurrence, I took another dose and the pain again immediately disappeared.  The pharmaceuticals stayed in the cupboard, the pain was gone.

 That was close to 7 years ago.  For several years I occasionally took doses of the remedy during minor flare-ups of pain but they would settle down in short order and I never had to go on pharmaceutical drugs again.  Even the minor flare-ups have long ceased and I feel no shadow of pain sensation in my face at all.  While the spectre of TGN gradually faded away, I experienced other positive changes in my life and psyche.  Without the fear of chronic pain, I’ve been free to devote more energy to my homeopathic practice and continuing education as well as pursue a wider variety of interests and activities.  Despite the terrible years, I now look back with a sense of gratitude.  The nightmare of TGN was the catalyst that brought me to the fuller experience of life, family, friendship and practice of homeopathy I have today.  Offering my homeopathic understanding and skills to assist others is a great privilege far overshadowing any distant memories of pain.

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I admire your patience in looking for the right remedy. I gave homeopathy 6 months. I had my answer in 2 weeks. And great relief after 10 years of a debilitating, chronic condition. It is sad that some people would rather believe in conspiracy theories (homeopaths and their patients spreading lies, why?) rather than acknowledge a real life phenomenon.
They talk a lot about "science" and "research" but when the time comes to discuss alternative medicine, for example, Homeopathy, in a rational deliberate evaluation of the overwhelming evidence in its favour, the pretense of rationality of the anti-Homeopathist promptly evaporates and quite a different position occurs. Making reference to Simon Singh, who has apparently already been charged with libel against Chiropractors in the UK, or to Dr. Edzard Ernst MD, who is billed as the world's only Professor of Complementary and Alternative medicine but yet somehow has managed to attain that title without any advanced training, certification or degrees in Homeopathy, by his own admission). can hardly be considered a scientific response to the question of Homeopathy. Their opinions are nothing more than that and certainly no better than anyone else's. Probably worse considering their vested financial interest in selling their books. Even worse, making reference to some unscientific "challenge", as though this sort of publicity stunt has any scientific significance whatsoever, is in and of itself anti-scientific and insult to every serious researcher, scientist and MD practitioner. In point of fact, Greek Homeopath Dr. George Vitoulkas expended an incredible 5 YEARS in "negotiations" with the "Amazing" Randi in an attempt to satisfy the endless refinements and "control" protections. Randi became ill for a while and the negotiations came to a halt. Some months later, Vitoulkas was stunned to find posted at Randi's web site that he, Vitoulkas, had "withdrawn" from the negotiations! Upon contacting Randi and his representatives, Vitoulkas was informed that he would have to begin again at square one!! This is all reported at Vitoulkas' web site. One can imagine how negotiations might be drawn out forever - for example, is the challenger able to prove that cosmic rays did not influence the results!! THIS is the sort of thing that irrational sceptics and anti-Homeopaths use rather than look at the powerful evidence in its favour and rather than confront the research which clearly shows biological activity stimulated by high dilution solutions by molecules which are no longer there. There may be no scientific explanation just yet, but it is most certainly under research. See what Nobel prize winner Dr. Brian Josephson has to say about this in his home page in a letter entitled "Is Homeopathy Nonsense, and Why It May Not Be". And anyone with the temerity to dismiss Susan's Homeopathy cure for her trigeminal neuralgia as placebo effect is clearly grasping at straws. The "placebo" explanation is a pathetic rationalization which seeks to reluctantly acknowledge the Homeopathic curative effect but then immediately deny that Homeopathy had anything to do with it. In one case, in her book "The Patient Not the Cure", Dr. M. Tyler, former physician to the Queen of England mentions the case of a child dying with hemorrhagic Purpura. One dose of an infinitesimal amount of rattlesnake venom cured the child. How pathetic to try and maintain that the child just accidentally got better. Such are the arguments of the anti-Homeopathic denialists.

where homeopathy=pseudo-science aka snake-oil salesperson

Again, and as usual, what we see here is a plethora of references to anectodal reports with no hard citations...unless, of course, like Susan Drury, you send links to an entire library's website; links or references to obscure, second-hand (George Vitoulkas) sources; irrelevant distractions (Singh being sued for libel)--note also the length attributed to Randi even though he thinks such challenges are unimportant; and, opportunistic appeals to authority (Dr. Josephson--who also believes in telepathy); or, my favorite, Mr. Pannozzi's belief that personal attacks are 'logic'.

Gotta love these guys X-D

"THIS is the sort of thing that irrational sceptics and anti-Homeopaths use rather than look at the powerful evidence in its favour and rather than confront the research which clearly shows biological activity stimulated by high dilution solutions by molecules which are no longer there."
--please, do cite said "powerful evidence" that "clearly shows" this (baseless) assertions *sheesh*

"There may be no scientific explanation just yet, but it is most certainly under research."
--There is no "scientific explanation"...at least you got this correct...and, please put "research" in quotations...

"How pathetic to try and maintain that the child just accidentally got better."
--Hmmm...not surprising you'd (a) digress to personal attacks and (b) confuse 'placebo' with 'accident'....

It is equally ironic how, on the one hand, homeopaths will decry science when it holds them to account yet, on the other hand, will trot out "nobel prize" winner in this or that.

The issue still stands (unanswered) that homeopathy has yet to provide sound support for its claims.

(for those interested, see Randi: http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/swift-blog/235-george-vithoulkas-hom...)

At first, I thought about writing a sustained piece directing readers toward the problems, errors, and disingenuous aspects of homeopathy, but then I realised that this had been done so many times as to not warrant my time.

Still, I am continually disturbed by people like Drury who are either genuine and misguided (dangerously so) or disingenuous. Instead of this I thought I'd direct readers to a new site in the UK called 10:23 (http://www.1023.org.uk/).

Equally, knowing readers value their time, I would also suggest reading the wikipedia entry on "homeopathy", especially the "Medical and scientific analysis and criticisms." This entry presents readers with both extensive and broad-based literature...something homeopathy and homeopaths fail to do.

To be clear, wikipedia is NOT research; however, it is a good start for those interested.


Here's a link to Simon Singh's (adapted) article, "Homeopathy; what's the harm?" It's adapted from a book he co-authored with Prof. Edzard Ernst, called "Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial." There is a companion website to the book here: http://www.trickortreatment.com/

Interestingly, in the first 12 months of the book's release, the authors put forward a 10,000 Pound challenge to Homeopathy (reminiscent of James Randi's challenges to pseudoscienctific claims) :
"We challenge homeopaths to demonstrate that homeopathy is effective by showing that the Cochrane Collaboration has published a review that is strongly and conclusively positive about high dilution homeopathic remedies for any human condition.

Or, we challenge homeopaths to have such a review published within 12 months of the first publication of extracts from Trick or Treatment? (8 April, 2009).

The Prize will be £10,000 – it will be paid by Ernst and Singh out of their own pockets to the first person or persons to present such evidence."

It should come as no surprise that "[t]he challenge has now expired and the prize has not been won." Just as no one has been able to win Randi's claim...and for good reason: its bunk.
Repeating leaps of illogic against Homeopathy and refusing to allow science a chance at researching it, the anti-Homeopathists will repeat their fallacies as though somehow this would help to accrue some legitimacy to their fake "refutations", misrepresentations, innuendo and hysterical denouncements. Confronted with a child dying from hemmorahgic Purpura, rather than admit that the infinitesimal dose of rattlesnake venom had anything to do with the child's remarkable recovery, after it had been left for dead by conventional medicine, the anti-Homeopathist will grasp at almost any straw to "explain away" the cure as an "accident", "spontaneous remission" or other equally unscientific rationalization. In dramatic cases of this type, of course, their favorite rationalization for explaining the cure away, the "placebo" effect, would be an obvious and complete confession of utter inability to accept that the Homeopathic treatment in fact, worked. Ignoring evidence such as in the presentation by Dr. Iris Bell, MD, PhD clearly showing a statistically significant number of high quality studies supportive of the efficacy of Homeopathy, the anti-Homeopathists hope that you will not read of the overwhelming accumulation of evidence that grows daily in its favour. The anti-Homeopathist speaks of "evidence" based medicine, overlooking that standard medicine itself is based on the case studies and analyses of its MD and surgeon and other health professional experts. Anecdotal, eh? Seen any double blinded studies on the 5 or 6 combined medications taken by many 68 year old patients? Of course not - there aren't any. Seen any double blinded studies on heart surgeries, or chemotherapy done on humans? No? That's because it would be unethical to do so. The anti-Homeopathists charade is easily exposed when discussing individual cases such as the child who survived the Purpura mentioned above. Were that an isolated instance, it might be written off as an chance anomaly. But these sorts of cases are repeated again and again throughout documented medical journals, some of them with the continuity of over a century. This is of great significance and requires research even if not a double blinded study. It is obvious but anti-Homeopathists will go to great lengths to deny it, even by pretending that standard medicine has such a basis when nothing of the sort is the case. Dr. Iris Bell MD, PhD's presentation on Homeopathy can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYO6nNQGe1M Bell's Homeopathy scientific research references are HERE: http://www.homeopathyusa.org/uploads/Homeopathy_references.pdf

I shouldn't be surprised at this point, but yet there I was reading James Pannozzi's "reply" trying very hard not to roll my eyes. Until, that is, I came across his "discussion" of double-blind studies.
I had to blink....twice

breath...

re-read while thinking: "no one writing in a public forum could be that ignorant of the topic....could they..?

But there it is--just above, but I'll quote some bits here. I warn readers, the level of ignorance in his responses is, literally, stunning:

"Seen any double blinded studies on the 5 or 6 combined medications taken by many 68 year old patients?"

A double-blind study would be carried out on one drug, or an established 'standardized treatment regime', to determine that drugs efficacy. Simply put, in a double-blind study neither the individuals nor the researchers know who belongs to the control group and the experimental group

From wikipedia (and I'm using wiki because it really is that simple to find this stuff out):
"Double-blinding is relatively easy to achieve in drug studies, by formulating the investigational drug and the control (either a placebo or an established drug) to have identical appearance (color, taste, etc.). Patients are randomly assigned to the control or experimental group and given random numbers by a study coordinator, who also encodes the drugs with matching random numbers. Neither the patients nor the researchers monitoring the outcome know which patient is receiving which treatment, until the study is over and the random code is broken."

So, to answer Pannozzi's statement, on the one hand, no one conducting sound research would even consider doing a double-blind with so many un-controlled variables; however, and on the other hand, could a series of double-blind studies (or RCT's) be done over time to illustrate the efficacy of such drugs, or standardized treatment regimens?

...Absolutely.

In fact, it is done quite often (see links below).

"Seen any double blinded studies on heart surgeries" --of course not, because the (conscious?) imprecision in the question is the problem...oh, and its 'double-blind studies', not "double-blinded"...

So, let's be more precise so we can actually have a question--or two--to answer:

could there be a double-blind study done on the efficacy of, say, a cardiac surgery drug--I don't know, maybe Aprotinin..?-- and perioperative decrease in blood loss? (ats.ctsnetjournals.org/cgi/content/full/63/2/497)

Hmmm....I guess there could be!

Okay, if not that, then what about the efficacy of a surgical method--I don't know, perhaps intraoperative autotransfusion..?--and its effect on cardiac surgery (chestjournal.chestpubs.org/content/104/3/686.full.pdf

Gosh...I guess so...

This is one of my favorites:

"Seen any double blinded studies on ... chemotherapy done on humans?"

Okay, oh enlightened one: first, chemotherapy is the treatment of disease by chemicals...this could include anti-biotics. I know, I know, dear reader, you're thinking: "Will, you're being pedantic. We mean chemotherapy in its oncological use."

Okay, says I, ye got me there....

Chemotherapy in its oncological use, then (nit-pickers!), refers to antineoplastic drugs used to treat cancer or the combination of these drugs into a cytotoxic standardized treatment regimen.

I said....pardon...!?!

Silliness aside, and to respond to Pannozzi's ridiculous statement, not only are there a plethora of double-blind studies on--okay, don't hurt yourself, James--specific antineoplastic drugs (drugs that inhibit neoplasms, or abnormal masses of tisuue) or a series of common drug regimes (thats the "cytotoxic standardized tretament regime mentioned above), but this is arguably one of the longest standing areas of research into cancers and the treatment of cancer with....um...chemicals...oh yeah: chemotherapy.

The idea that such studies don't --or couldn't--exist illustrates Pannozzi's absolute ignorance. The sheer ignorance is further exhibited in his myraid of misunderstandings of common medical practices like chemotherapy.

Furthermore, the idea that to conduct such research would be unethical is ludicrous. Such sound (not pseudo-scientific) research exists to try and understand said diseases with an eye on eradicating them, to increase the life span of those afflicted with them, and to decrease the pain and suffering--direct and indrectly--associated with such conditions. Therefore, to not do so, or to draw attention away from such sound methods via pseudo-sciences like homeopathy--is what is more likely unethical!

Mr. Pannozzi, your ignorance--as illusrated--apparently knows no bounds. You, sir, should show some intellectual integrity, some humility and, if nothing else, should be ashamed at yourself...such honesty would, in fact, surprise me...
Unable to comment logically on the existence of such cases as the child with hemmorhagic Purpura cured by a high dilution of rattlesnake venom the anti-Homeopathists will then resort to pathetic personal attacks and other diversions to hide the utter paucity of substantiation of their position. Quoting from "sources" such as "Wikipedia" (!) they will attempt to return to their favourite lab discussions regarding the artificially controlled environment of the laboratory studies which, of course, is unable duplicate the reality of the clinic or hospital in which real illnesses are treated by real doctors giving real medicine to real people who need not wonder if they have been given the "placebo". Needless to say, Homeopathic drugs are tested only on humans in an elaborate system of "provings". Neither the recipient nor the tester giving out the test remedy knows if it is genuine or placebo. No extrapolations from rat studies needed. Homeopathy research continues to offer the possibility of a major breakthrough in medicine. In cancer research, the recent publication of research indicating the possibility of cytotoxic effects on breast cancer cells, has been published in the Journal of Oncology: Department of Molecular Pathology, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas see the Journal of Oncology, 2010 Feb;36(2):395-403. A summary can be read here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20043074?itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.... Yet another example is the well known successes in Psoriasis treatment by Homeoapthy. Here is a study report from the prestigious Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology done in 2009 : http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/121675687/abstract?CRETRY=1&S... which included a two year follow up investigation. The conclusion was that under classical Homeopathic treatment patients with psoriasis improved in symptoms and quality of life. Let us let the genuine scientific researchers continue their good work rather than waste time entertaining the diversions and, yes, even pedantry, of the anti-Homeopathists.

Again, Pannozzi's ignorance, charlatanism, and lack of intellectual integrity (perhaps any sense of integrity) apparently knows no bounds. He reminds me of a rabid dog chasing his tail round and round in circles--at once patheitc but also a little worrisome; and, metaphorically, best put down for his own good and the good of those honest, yet naive or ill-informed, around him.

He is well known for trolling the internet in promotion his snakeoil providing nothing more than obscure references, refuted "research," and tired axioms and anecdotes...but no sound, supported, and/or objectively reproduced findings.

So be it. I value my time more than this; and, quite honeslty (and sadly), his responses are not worthy of further response.

Readers interested in (yet another) response to the pseudo-science that is homeopathy can read the following article from the National Council Against Health Fraud--here:
http://www.ncahf.org/pp/homeop.html

Readers please note that the date of the statement is 1994, and has not been updated because no new (sound) evidence has been presented since then. Pannozzi and Drury and the likes would like you to think that the research that they draw you to provides evidence for homeopathy--it does not.

At best, when you read the abstracts and/or reccomendations (from the few actual peer-reviewed journals), readers will find that (a) the sample groups are quite small and (b) the best you'll see--overall--is a reccomendation for further, in-depth--research. This should come as no surprise and is not uncommon; what it is NOT is evidence for homeopathy: it is a statement that the experiment presented inconclusive findings or that the findings need larger sample groups. The disingenuous leaps of logic by the supporters of homeopathy are astounding here.

In a nutshell (pardon the pun), here's the finding of the HCAHF:

"Homeopathy's principles have been refuted by the basic sciences of chemistry, physics, pharmacology, and pathology. Homeopathy meets the dictionary definitions of a sect and a cult--the characteristics of which prevent advances that would change Hahnemann's original principles. Most homeopathic studies are of poor methodological quality, and are subject to bias. Homeopathic product labels do not provide sufficient information to judge their dosages. Although homeopathic remedies are generally thought to be nontoxic due to their high dilutions, some preparations have proved harmful. The ostensible value of homeopathic products can be more than a placebo effect because some products have contained effective amounts of standard medications or have been adulterated. "

To find out more information about this readers are directed to their main website--here:

National Coalition Against Health Fraud: http://www.ncahf.org/

I do believe--quite honestly--that many people who investigte, toy or skirt with homeopathy, do so with the best intentions towards themselves, friends, and/or loved-ones; however, if you wish to do what is in their best interest then readers need follow the evidence where it goes and not where it might go, or, worse, where charlatans would (mis)direct you.

To respond, as I have before, with the warning cavaet emptor may be a bit callous of a response--readers will, I hope, forgive me.

...perhaps I'd be better put at reminding readers that, in the netherworld that is pseudo-science, 'here there be monsters...'

And some such fantastical creatures have a name...

Simon Singh exonerated



Just one more from Pannozzi's (long) list of critical thinking errors:

"Making reference to Simon Singh, who has apparently already been charged with libel against Chiropractors in the UK"

1. Erroneous information: He was not charged--ever--he was accussed. Is this the extent of your researching skills..?

2. ad hominem: Instead of dealing with Singh's arguments, Pannozzi et al prefer to 'attack the person'

The reality is that no one in the homeopathy community has presented a sound response to Singh's book; nor were they able to meet the challenge. The challenge--like Randi's--is, of course, a PR thing, although it is run soundly.

The reason for the PR is simply to raise awareness of the farce that is homeopathy as well as to raise awareness to the fact that pseudosciences, like homeopathy, have been so resoundly debunked.

Yet, sadly, using Goebbels Big Lie approach, homeopathic snake-oil salespeople continue to prey on the well-intentioned, yet unaware and/or ill-informed.

What is worse is that people, like Drury and Pannozzi, continue to promote such unsound approaches, and, I believe, they do so knowing full well that their appraoch is bunk!

For the record:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/apr/01/simon-singh-wins-libel-court

Dangers of pseudo-science

WARNING: there are graphic photos of this tragic situationin this YouTube presentation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8XYUixuw8g