Blogging the Organon

January 25, 2008

22-28: Hahnemann’s Organon of Medicine

Filed under: Hahnemann,homeopathy,homoeopathy,organon — gimpy @ 10:32 am

§ 22 Fifth Edition

But as nothing is to be observed in diseases that must be removed in order to change them into health besides the totality of their signs and symptoms, and likewise medicines can show nothing curative besides their tendency to produce morbid symptoms in healthy persons and to remove them in diseased persons; it follows, on the one hand, that medicines only become remedies and capable of annihilating disease, because the medicinal substance, by exciting certain effects and symptoms, that is to say, by producing a certain artificial morbid state, removes and abrogates the symptoms already present, to wit, the natural morbid state we wish to cure. On the other hand, it follows that, for the totality of the symptoms of the disease to be cured, a medicine must be sought which (according as experience shall prove whether the morbid symptoms are most readily, certainly, and permanently removed and changed into health by similar or opposite medicinal symptoms1) has a tendency to produce similar or opposite symptoms.

1 The other possible mode of employing medicines for diseases besides these two is the allopathic method, in which medicines are given, whose symptoms have no direct pathological relation to the morbid state, neither similar nor opposite, but quite heterogeneous to the symptoms of the disease, is, as shown above, in the introduction (Review of the therapeutics, allopathy and palliative treatment that have hitherto been practiced in the old school of medicine), merely instinctive vital force, which, when made ill by noxious agents, strives to save itself at whatever sacrifice by the production and continuance of morbid irritation in the organism – an imitation, consequently, of the crude vital force which was implanted in our organism in order to preserve our life in health, in the most beautiful harmony; but when deranged by disease, was so constituted as to admit of being again changed to health (homœopathically) by the intelligent physician, but not to cure itself, for which the little power it possesses is so far from being a pattern to be copied, that all the changes and symptoms it produces in the (morbidly deranged) organism are just the disease itself. But this injudicious system of therapeutics of the old school of medicine can no more be passed by unnoticed that can history omit to record the thousands of years of opposition to which mankind has been subjected under the irrational, despotic Governments.

§ 22 Sixth Edition

But as nothing is to be observed in diseases that must be removed in order to change them into health besides the totality of their signs and symptoms, and likewise medicines can show nothing curative besides their tendency to produce morbid symptoms in healthy persons and to remove them in diseased persons; it follows, on the one hand, that medicines only become remedies and capable of annihilating disease, because the medicinal substance, by exciting certain effects and symptoms, that is to say, by producing a certain artificial morbid state, removes and abrogates the symptoms already present, to wit, the natural morbid state we wish to cure. On the other hand, it follows that, for the totality of the symptoms of the disease to be cured, a medicine must be sought which (according as experience shall prove whether the morbid symptoms are most readily, certainly, and permanently removed and changed into health by similar or opposite medicinal symptoms1) have the greatest tendency to produce similar or opposite symptoms.

1 The other possible mode of employing medicines for diseases besides these two is the allopathic method, in which medicines are given, whose symptoms have no direct pathological relation to the morbid state, neither similar nor opposite, but quite heterogeneous to the symptoms of the disease. This procedure plays, as I have shown elsewhere, an irresponsible murderous game with the life of the patient by means of dangerous, violent medicines, whose action is unknown and which are chosen on mere conjectures and given in large and frequent doses. Again, by means of painful operations, intended to lead the disease to other regions and taking the strength and vital juices of the patient, through evacuations above and below, sweat or salivation, but especially through squandering the irreplaceable blood, as is done by the reigning routine practice, used blindly and relentlessly, usually with the pretext that the physician should imitate and further the sick nature in its efforts to help itself, without considering how irrational it is, to imitate and further these very imperfect, mostly inappropriate efforts of the instinctive unintelligent vital energy which is implanted in our organism, so long as it is healthy to carry on life in harmonious development, but not to heal itself in disease. For, were it possessed of such a model ability, it would never have allowed the organism to get sick. When made ill by noxious agents, our life principle cannot do anything else than express its depression caused by disturbance of the regularity of its life, by symptoms, by means of which the intelligent physician is ask for aid. If this is not given, it strives to save by increasing the ailment, especially through violent evacuations, no matter what this entails, often with the largest sacrifices or destruction of life itself.

For the purpose of cure, the morbidly depressed vital energy possesses so little ability worthy of imitation since all changes and symptoms produced by it in the organism are the disease itself. What intelligent physician would want to imitate it with the intention to heal if he did not thereby sacrifice his patient?

§ 23

All pure experience, however, and all accurate research convince us that persistent symptoms of disease are far from being removed and annihilated by opposite symptoms of medicines (as in the antipathic, enantiopathic or palliative method), that, on the contrary, after transient, apparent alleviation, they break forth again, only with increased intensity, and become manifestly aggravated (see § 58 – 62 and 69).

§ 24

There remains, therefore, no other mode of employing medicines in diseases that promises to be of service besides the homœopathic, by means of which we seek, for the totality of the symptoms of the case of disease, a medicine which among all medicines (whose pathogenetic effects are known from having been tested in healthy individuals) has the power and the tendency to produce an artificial morbid state most similar to that of the case of disease in question.

§ 25

Now, however, in all careful trials, pure experience,1 the sole and infallible oracle of the healing art, teaches us that actually that medicine which, in its action on the healthy human body, has demonstrated its power of producing the greatest number of symptoms similar to those observable in the case of disease under treatment, does also, in doses of suitable potency and attenuation, rapidly, radically and permanently remove the totality of the symptoms of this morbid state, that is to say (§ 6 – 16), the whole disease present, and change it into health; and that all medicines cure, without exception, those diseases whose symptoms most nearly resemble their own, and leave none of them uncured.

1 I do not mean that sort of experience of which the ordinary practitioners of the old school boast, after they have for years worked away with a lot of complex prescriptions on a number of diseases which they never carefully investigate, but which, faithful to their school, they consider as already described in works of systematic pathology, and dreamed that they could detect in them some imaginary morbific matter, or ascribe to them some other hypothetical internal abnormality. They always saw something in them, but knew not what it was they saw, and they got results, from the complex forces acting on an unknown object, that no human being but only a God could have unravelled – results from which nothing can be learned, no experience gained. Fifty years’ experience of this sort is like fifty years of looking into a kaleidoscope filled with unknown colored objects, and perpetually turning round; thousands of ever changing figures and no accounting for them!

§ 26

This depends on the following homœopathic law of nature which was sometimes, indeed, vaguely surmised but not hitherto fully recognized, and to which is due every real cure that has ever taken place:

A weaker dynamic affection is permanently extinguished in the living organism by a stronger one, if the latter (whilst differing in kind) is very similar to the former in its manifestations.1

1 Thus are cured both physical affections and moral maladies. How is it that in the early dawn the brilliant Jupiter vanishes from the gaze of the beholder? By a stronger very similar power acting on his optic nerve, the brightness of approaching day! – In situations replete with foetid odors, wherewith is it usual to soothe effectually the offended olfactory nerves? With snuff, that affects the sense of smell in a similar but stronger manner! No music, no sugared cake, which act on the nerves of other senses, can cure this olfactory disgust. How does the soldier cunningly stifle the piteous cries of him who runs the gauntlet from the ears of the compassionate bystanders? By the shrill notes of the fife commingled with the roll of the noisy drum! And the distant roar of the enemy’s cannon that inspires his army with fear? By the loud boom of the big drum! For neither the one nor the other would the distribution of a brilliant piece of uniform nor a reprimand to the regiment suffice. In like manner, mourning and sorrow will be effaced from the mind by the account of another and still greater cause for sorrow happening to another, even though it be a mere fiction. The injurious consequences of too great joy will be removed by drinking coffee, which produces an excessive joyous state of mind. Nations like the Germans, who have for centuries been gradually sinking deeper and deeper in soulless apathy and degrading serfdom, must first be trodden still deeper in the dust by the Western Conqueror, until their situation became intolerable; their mean opinion of themselves was thereby over-strained and removed; they again became alive to their dignity as men, and then, for the first time, they raised their heads as Germans.

§ 27

The curative power of medicines, therefore, depends on their symptoms, similar to the disease but superior to it in strength (§ 12 – 26), so that each individual case of disease is most surely, radically, rapidly and permanently annihilated and removed only by a medicine capable of producing (in the human system) in the most similar and complete manner the totality of its symptoms, which at the same time are stronger than the disease.

§ 28

As this natural law of cure manifests itself in every pure experiment and every true observation in the world, the fact is consequently established; it matters little what may be scientific explanation of how it takes place; and I do not attach much importance to the attempts made to explain it. But the following view seems to commend itself as the most probable one, as it is founded on premises derived from experience.

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187 Comments »

  1. It’s just more of the same, isn’t it? Lots of claims that things are absolute based on a priori assumptions that barely stood up in the late 1700s and look ridiculous today. Typically –

    “As this natural law of cure manifests itself in every pure experiment and every true observation in the world, the fact is consequently established”

    This is simply not true – this ‘law’ does not manifest itself in every experiment (and I doubt it ever did) so the fact is most certainly not consequently established. This is like arguing that there are very evidently fairies at the bottom of my garden because everything indicates the presence of lots of magic near the greenhouse. It’s a complete fallacy based on treating arbitrary assumptions as undeniable facts.

    Oh and I love this bit:

    “Nations like the Germans, who have for centuries been gradually sinking deeper and deeper in soulless apathy and degrading serfdom, must first be trodden still deeper in the dust by the Western Conqueror, until their situation became intolerable; their mean opinion of themselves was thereby over-strained and removed; they again became alive to their dignity as men, and then, for the first time, they raised their heads as Germans”

    …and look where that got us!

    Comment by MJ Simpson — January 25, 2008 @ 12:43 pm | Reply

  2. Section 23
    “All pure experience, however, and all accurate research convince us that persistent symptoms of disease are far from being removed and annihilated by opposite symptoms of medicines (as in the antipathic, enantiopathic or palliative method), that, on the contrary, after transient, apparent alleviation, they break forth again, only with increased intensity, and become manifestly aggravated”

    That may have been true then, when medicines actually were useless and dangerous, but anyone giving advice on the basis of this now would be a danger to the public. Antihypertensives, for example, are perfectly good at alleviating high blood pressure and maintain it at a correct level. There are hundreds of examples now which show this statement to be false in the light of current medical knowledge.

    To the homeopaths reading this – H4H, good science, ohreally and Gale (and anyone else) – do you believe that § 23 is still true or do you accept that modern medical science has shown it to be false?

    Comment by tom p — January 25, 2008 @ 12:52 pm | Reply

  3. I will let the homeopaths answer the particulars to #23- I am just an interested consumer.

    But FYI-, if I had hypertension, I would not take anti-hypertensives as the first choice- I would look at my lifestyle, diet, weight, etc. and yes, I would take a homeopathic remedy initially. And then I would evaluate my situation.

    You see the problem here tom p- there are many of us informed consumers making choices for our health care every day. You can try your scare mongering techniques, but my generation and the once coming up behind me, are smart, informed,do their research, and come questioning authority- ALL authority- even modern medical science!

    Comment by GaleG — January 25, 2008 @ 3:32 pm | Reply

  4. GaleG,

    questioning authority- ALL authority- even modern medical science!

    apart from questioning Hahnemann of course. Say what you like about us sceptics but we are not afraid of criticising anything or anybody if it presents an unbelievable concept.

    MJ Simpson, tom p interesting observations. I must confess I am curious as to where the homeopathic law of nature that Hahnemann asserts in 26 comes from? Is this in his other writings predating the Organon or is this the first mention of it? Is there evidence in this or earlier writings supporting the existence of this law?

    Comment by gimpy — January 25, 2008 @ 3:44 pm | Reply

  5. Gale, could I ask what parts of tom p’s post was “scare mongering”. As far as I can tell all he did was assert that antihypertensives were effective, not that everything else was ineffective.

    “But FYI-, if I had hypertension, I would not take anti-hypertensives as the first choice- I would look at my lifestyle, diet, weight, etc. and yes, I would take a homeopathic remedy initially. And then I would evaluate my situation.”

    So how would you know which intervention (lifestyle or homoeopathy) was effective in the first instance? Could I suggest that you look at your lifestyle, diet, weight, etc. without taking a homoeopathic remedy first and then add the remedy to see if it makes any change. I suspect that many people improve hypertention by making lifestyle changes quite successfully *without* homoeopathy.

    Interesting direct statement of the law of similars in section 25. These sections are, however, much of the same when viewed in light of modern medical knowledge: they continue on the assumption that many medical conditions do not have proximal causes or have proximal causes whose nature we will never know. Also interesting that Hahnemann states that the mechanism behind the law of similars is unimportant, but I’m interested to see how he speculates in section 29. Mostly though I’m just irritated by his bald assertion that the natural law [of similars] has been “established” without any real evidence to back that assertion up. It reads very much like, even then, he was hanging onto an idea despite a lack of evidence simply because the idea is elegant (but then that’s an unsupported assertion!).

    Comment by flimflam_machine — January 25, 2008 @ 3:59 pm | Reply

  6. I am a simple person on some level, and my own laboratory so to speak.

    I studied and tried “modern medicine” for the first 26 years of my life, and found it wanting.

    I was introduced to the concept of homeopathy, decided to give it a go, and to my delight, found relief for my many a varied ( and boring) symptoms.

    That is all. I am not a “scientist” so experiencing it working was good enough for me.

    And for many millions world wide it appears.

    Comment by GaleG — January 25, 2008 @ 4:04 pm | Reply

  7. flim-flam,
    Yes, I would do lifestyle adjustment even before a homeopathic remedy or antihypertensives.
    I will bow out while you continue your organon discussion.

    Comment by GaleG — January 25, 2008 @ 4:14 pm | Reply

  8. God, I must be sucker for punishment….but I do have something to add for #23.

    #1 Take infantile excema as an example.
    A good parent gets given cortisone creme for it, and faithfully applies it twice a day. The excema, over time, clears up somewhat.

    But then, the child gets a cold at the age of 2 or so, and that develops into bronchitis and asthma. Oh dear, this is much more serious than the excema.

    The child goes on to start having asthma attacks and continues with excema. Now the child is on medication to help the asthma as well as creme for the excema. Oh yes, developed life threatening peanut allergies.

    The child is now an adult having to take antihistimes and steroids daily, as well as cortisone creme.

    #2 An infant starts showing excema at age 6 months. Taken to a homeopath, who gives a remedy.
    Initially, the excema worsens, then gradually disappears entirely.
    Child then develops diarrhea. This too is treated homeoapthically, and clears up.
    No excema returns.

    Child at age 13 or so, starts developing asthma upon exertion. Treated homeopathically and clears up.

    This child is now a young adult with no allergies at all. She is related to adult in scenerio #1- two examples of what happens when the “disease” is suppressed by drugs #1, or removed entirely by homeopathy.#2

    #1 is my sister, and #2 is my daughter. I too had excema treated by cortisone as an infant, went on the develop seasonal allergies at age 5 which worsened with age- now successfully gone after homeopathic treatment.

    Comment by GaleG — January 25, 2008 @ 4:32 pm | Reply

  9. Section 23:

    “All pure experience, however, and all accurate research convince us that persistent symptoms of disease are far from being removed and annihilated by opposite symptoms of medicines (as in the antipathic, enantiopathic or palliative method), that, on the contrary, after transient, apparent alleviation, they break forth again, only with increased intensity, and become manifestly aggravated”

    Following on from GaleG’s example of eczema, I met a mother and baby recently who had bad dry eczema and was very small for her age and had a horrible grey pallor. She explained that the cortizone cream would take the eczema away for a couple of days but ‘it always comes back again’. Her grey colour was what repulsed me, the baby seemed so weak and poorly. I do not know whether she was always like that but it seemed a very poor state of health to me. If she has worsened overall over time (which wouldn’t surprise me) this is what H is referring to: the medicine makes the total sum of disease worse, when he says ‘disease’ he means all symptoms.

    Taking the antihypertension drugs, I’d be interested to understand the total state of health of the patient not just the bp reading; that might be better but other things worse.

    When my husband has asthma (he doesn’t now, homeopathy cleared it up very quickly) and tried nicotine patches the asthma got a lot worse. When conventional medicine tries to fix ONE thing (nicotine craving), other organs that are more important (like lungs) become affected.

    So to make sure I answer ‘the question’: ‘do you believe that § 23 is still true or do you accept that modern medical science has shown it to be false?’. In the context of ‘disease’ being ‘all symptoms’ yes I do still notice conventional medicine making people’s total sum of ‘disease’ worse.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 25, 2008 @ 5:02 pm | Reply

  10. Fair enough Gale, those are two interesting cases, but obviously they are different people so their different recoveries could be due to many factors other than the treatment given (many kids get eczema, in most of them it clears up, in some it doesn’t). All that clinical trials do is to try to exclude all these other possibilities and give a fair comparison of one treatment against the other. When this type of trial is done, it generally turns out that the very specific predictions made on the basis of cases like those you describe (i.e., that homoeopathy is better than conventional treatments) do not appear in the trial. The most compelling conclusion from such trials is that, in the cases such as those you describe, the differences in recovery *are* due to individual differences rather than a greater efficacy of homoeopathy,

    Aaaaaargh! Must stay on topic!

    Comment by flimflam_machine — January 25, 2008 @ 5:10 pm | Reply

  11. A clinical trial only gives a “snapshot” of a particular time and event.

    One would need to follow a person for sometime to see how their life plays out. My daughter has NO idea how fortunate she is that I explored another route for her life. She has noticed “my friends around me always seem to be sick….”. That has been the experience of my other children as well.

    Listen, you don’t seem to get it- clinical trial. shlinical trial- when one has “dis-ease” we seek out help. Homeopathy has a track record of working- parents and people talk to each other- and, we can make our own assessments based on our own, and those we trust, experiences.

    I am speaking for our Freedom to Choose, not trying to figure out “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.”

    Comment by GaleG — January 25, 2008 @ 5:28 pm | Reply

  12. Gale, I personally wouldn’t want to remove your freedom to choose (not on the NHS though) and I’m glad your daughter is so healthy.

    What I am trying to point out is the disparity between what you are reporting and what is observed elsewhere. From your experience, what would you predict would happen if you took two groups of similar people with a particular ailment, gave group A homoeopathy and group B a placebo (a sugarlump essentially)? My guess is that you’d predict that group A would fare better than group B, fine. But that’s not what is observed when this test is actually done. Why?! What’s gone wrong? I think it’s in your interest to find out (or at least speculate) because if this did actually happen in a regular, repeatable way homoeopathy would be universally accepted.

    As far as I can work out, there are three possibilities:

    1 – Logic and mathematics just don’t work any more (this translates as the universe being fundamentally broken according to our current understanding).
    2- The tests are poorly designed and don’t give homoeopathy a fair crack of the whip. Possible, but even fairly basic tests such as provings of belladonna show no differences.
    3 – There’s no difference between homoeopathy and placebo and the anecdotal reports of efficacy are just good luck i.e., your daughter is lucky to have good genes, good diet, and a stable and happy home life all of which contribute to her good health and the homoeopathy doesn’t do anything.

    Comment by flimflam_machine — January 25, 2008 @ 5:41 pm | Reply

  13. GaleG,

    Your sister and your daughter are from different generations, grew up in different circumstances and received different amounts of care. I’m sure you can see that there are many more differences between their lives than just which type of medical treatment they use. So how can we tell what caused the different responses? And bear in mind that there are undoubtedly plenty of children of your daughter’s generation who have recovered perfectly well from eczema without homeopathy (if that weren’t true, ezcema would be a much more serious problem than it is).

    Offering single examples like this has no more validity than people who dismiss the dangers of smoking by citing relatives who smoke 20 cigarettes a day and live to be 85. People are all individuals and everyone responds slightly differently to the factors around them. So we can’t just say that because your daughter took homeopathic remedies and her eczema cleared up, that any little girl with eczema can be cured using homeopathy.

    If you take a large group of people, then their individualities average out and don’t affect the results. Think of it this way: are men taller than women, or are women taller than men? It’s very easy to find a woman who is taller than her husband but it would plainly be ridiculous to extrapolate from that one case that women are taller than men. You could take two groups, one of men and one of women, and measure the average height in each group. But suppose that the groups were not randomly picked so that a lot of your men were Chinese and a lot of your women were Swedish. Scandinavians tend to be quite tall, Chinese people tend to be quite small, so your results are distorted. Or suppose you measured people from the same country but a lot of them were in their early teens, when girls grow faster than boys and so are taller – again your results are distorted.

    But if you take two large (as large as possible) groups, one of men and one of women, where the distribution of age and race is completely random and so no longer a factor: now you find that the average height of men is greater than that of women. And if you take two other equally large, equally random groups, you get the same result. And if somebody else tries this experiment, they get the same result. Because using a large random group removes the distorted results that can come from small groups or individuals.

    You won’t get *exactly* the same results every time. Suppose you do it and in one of your groups there’s a dwarf – no matter how many people in your group, that’s going to knock the average height down a bit. But if the group is large enough, it won’t make too much difference.

    And the point of all this is that if someone comes along and say “Well, I know that’s wrong because my husband is taller than me and all my ex-boyfriends were taller than me.” Well, I’m sure they were but that individual instance – that personal experience – does not outweigh the findings of our experiment.

    Does that make sense?

    Comment by M Simpson — January 25, 2008 @ 6:59 pm | Reply

  14. All very nicely *explained away* M, it *can’t ever* be homeopathy which helped it must be *anything else*, I wouldn’t expect anything else from you.

    You are going away from the point of the topic which is that H says that allopathic medicine makes the patient worse, which is was GaleG was illustrating with her sister’s case.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 25, 2008 @ 7:44 pm | Reply

  15. And it makes the patient worse because it suppresses the symptoms and does not address the reason why the individual was susceptible in the first place. So when you stop taking the medication the symptoms come back. When you stop taking the antibiotic, you get another infection. Or it drives the disease deeper because of the suppression, i.e. eczema to asthma.

    Comment by Goodscience — January 25, 2008 @ 8:11 pm | Reply

  16. homeopathy4health, to be fair to M Simpson his explanation fulfils the requirements of Occam’s Razor more than yours. His explanation relies on known effects and factors while yours depends on a remarkable overturning of current evidence regarding scientific theories. But, bringing this conversation back to the Organon, Hahnemann didn’t have our understanding of science and he wasn’t to know about germ theories of disease, genetics, Avogadro, etc so he wasn’t to know just how controversial his theories would be in modern times.

    PS Could the homeopaths please answer my questions posed in 4.

    Comment by gimpy — January 25, 2008 @ 8:12 pm | Reply

  17. Goodscience, but Hahnemann says nothing about antibiotics, he says nothing about infectious disease, he says nothing about eczema and he says nothing about asthma. What relevance does Hahnemann have as he was not aware of their existence?

    Comment by gimpy — January 25, 2008 @ 8:22 pm | Reply

  18. Even in Hahnemanns’ time it was known that drinking lemon or lime juice cured and prevented scurvy. So how does the law of similars account for this?

    Comment by nash — January 25, 2008 @ 8:38 pm | Reply

  19. The point, h4h, is not to look for “anything else but homeopathy”, but to look for everything else that could have been the cause. In any given story there are many possible explanations. One (or more) is right; the others are wrong. So what we tend to assume is that if the list of possibilities includes accepted phenomena (like regression to the mean, self-limiting conditions, placebo effects, etc) and non-accepted phenomena (like homeopathy), we should not conclude that the latter has been proven. What we need is some way of eliminating every explanation except homeopathy.

    Luckily, we have a way to do exactly that: the Double-Blind Randomised Controlled Trial. In such a trial (pay attention, Gale), the conditions are carefully controlled to remove all explanations but the one being tested. If a series of well-conducted trials showed homeopathy to work, then we’d believe it — or at least we’d believe that that one homeopathic medicine worked, and then we’d all start trying to figure out how because that’d make us favourite for at least three Nobel prizes. These trials have been done and no evidence was found that homeopathy has any effect, which is exactly what all known laws of physics and chemistry predicted would happen.

    So in this case, there are two possible explanations for a story, one of which is well-accepted and the other of which has repeatedly failed to appear at all in any well-run trials. Forgive our scepticism but for the time being we have to assume the former is the correct one.

    Comment by Andrew Taylor — January 25, 2008 @ 8:45 pm | Reply

  20. “All very nicely *explained away* M, it *can’t ever* be homeopathy which helped it must be *anything else*, I wouldn’t expect anything else from you.”

    The point, H4H, is that it most certainly *could* conceivably be homeopathy (that’s called having an open mind, a condition with which homeopaths are sadly unfamiliar) but you can’t know from a single case, or even lots of single cases. Because (and I thought this was something homeopaths understood) Everyone Patient Is Different.

    “You are going away from the point of the topic which is that H says that allopathic medicine makes the patient worse, which is was GaleG was illustrating with her sister’s case.”

    Do you really believe this? Do you really believe that the whole of mainstream medicine, which has been developed by thousands of people in every country in the world over hundreds of years, from well before Hahnemann right up to the present day, the vast majority of which time was before the advent of multinational pharmaceutical companies, is all based around stuff that generally makes ill people worse in the long run, rather than better?

    Do you really believe that most of the people on this planet who use regular medicine – and remember, although lots of people use homeopathy they’re still in the minority – are simply making themselves worse? Do you really believe that all the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists and medical specialists who devote their lives to making ill people better either haven’t noticed or don’t care that their medicines actually tend to make their patients more ill in the long term?

    That goes beyond conspiracy theory, that’s global madness.

    Goodscience, do you really believe that when people stop taking medicine, their symptoms come back? So the majority of people who have ever been ill and not used homeopathy are either still taking medication or have got ill again? Anyway, how does what you’re claiming – “it suppresses the symptoms and does not address the reason why the individual was susceptible in the first place” fit in with modern medicine which actually addresses the root cause of diseases (bacterial, viral, hormonal, genetic, whatever) as opposed to homeopathy which Only Treats Symptoms (because, as Samuel H, assures us, those are the totality of any disease)?

    According to Hahnemann, we can never know why an individual is susceptible in the first place (“How the vital force causes the organism to display morbid phenomena, that is, how it produces disease, it would be of no practical utility to the physician to know, and will forever remain concealed from him”) so all we can do is treat the symptoms (“Now, as in the cure effected by the removal of the whole of the perceptible signs and symptoms of the disease the internal alteration of the vital force to which the disease is due – consequently the whole of the disease – is at the same time removed”). Hahnemann is actually asking you to suppress the symptoms because he considers it impossible to address the reason why the individual is susceptible in the first place.

    This is one of the most basic contradictions of homeopathy (and these blog discussions have ably shown that homeopaths see no problem in contradictions): that it is about as far from holistic as any treatment could be, addressing only the symptoms – the indicators of the disease – but ignoring the root cause. Homeopaths criticise mainstream medicine for this but mainstream medicine doesn’t do it and homeopathy does!

    Oh, oh wait, I forgot. GaleG’s sister got better and then got poorly again. Ah well, forget I mentioned any of this…

    Comment by M Simpson — January 25, 2008 @ 8:56 pm | Reply

  21. Hello Gimpy, there is a lot of relevance because he is trying to teach the true nature of health and disease. It does not matter weather he knew of antibiotics or of micro-organisms. The fundamental underlying cause is the constant determining factor no matter what the illness is. This underlying cause is different for everyone and that is why a hundred people can go to a homeopath with say…………chronic migraines and each one of them could very well get a different remedy. What the remedy is addressing is the underlying cause, not the symptom. So after a time, the disease is gone. There is no more susceptibility to the migraines because the underlying cause has been resolved.

    Comment by Goodscience — January 25, 2008 @ 9:01 pm | Reply

  22. Goodscience, where is the evidence for your argument? I would not struggle to find evidence of germs, of antibiotics, of alleles conferring susceptibility to disease and so on. Where is the evidence to support Hahnemann? Where are his experiments? Where are his testable predictions? Where is his science?

    Comment by gimpy — January 25, 2008 @ 9:22 pm | Reply

  23. I thought germs were the underlying cause?

    Comment by Andrew Taylor — January 25, 2008 @ 10:36 pm | Reply

  24. The science is in the provings and the clinical proof is in the application of the remedy. As homeopathy has developed it has come to the point where there are testable predictions. Jan Scholten did it with the periodic table. He predicted, based on homeopathic science, what the elements on the periodic table would cure…….sorry, resolve. Over time with clinical application we have found over and over again that he was right. Many homeopaths in the past 2 centuries have continued Hahnemann’s work. It did not stop evolving with Hahnemann’s death. And no Andrew, germs are not the cause, they are opportunistic. They take advantage of the weakness and illuminate the diseased state by stimulating a reaction in the body, i.e. symptoms.

    Comment by Goodscience — January 25, 2008 @ 11:04 pm | Reply

  25. “This underlying cause is different for everyone and that is why a hundred people can go to a homeopath with say…………chronic migraines and each one of them could very well get a different remedy”

    “there are testable predictions”

    While we try to reconcile these two claims, perhaps you could tell us what some of these testable predictions are so that we can test them for ourselves.

    Comment by M Simpson — January 25, 2008 @ 11:34 pm | Reply

  26. I will try to illuminate this concept with, yet again, my own experience.

    Age 18- boyfriend of 18 months killed in a motorcyle accident- shock,grief.
    One month later, started getting severe headaches.
    Given Fiorinal and valium by family doctor.
    Had to take Fiorinal twice daily to control symptoms (codiene and phenobarbital) plus take valium at night.
    Finally sent for brain scan and work up by neurologist- nothing organic found ( no tumour etc.)

    Suffered from daily headaches for next 10 years or so- sometimes did not start until mid-day, sometime woke up with one. Spent most of my days on barbituates and painkillers.

    Started homeopathic treatment, and headaches seemed to slow down to just when menses started.
    One summer developed a severe headache that would not go away- lasted 4-5 days and getting more and more severe. Decided to see homeopath and was given a remedy (Ignatia in my case). Had dream about former boyfriend that night, woke up crying….

    Headache went away that next morning, and now, after 20 years, I can honestly say I have had maybe 1-2 headaches since then.

    So my symptoms were triggered by the extreme shock and grief, manifested into the physical plane as symptoms (in my case headaches). Eventually, these symptoms showed the homeopath what remedy I needed that was particular to me, and I healed on many levels, including the physical one.

    Truly, I have NOT had an easy life, was NOT blessed with good genes, suffered loads with loads of ailments but have been committed to getting well. Don’t dismiss me as “lucky!”

    Comment by GaleG — January 25, 2008 @ 11:35 pm | Reply

  27. Age 18- boyfriend of 18 months killed in a motorcyle accident- shock,grief.
    One month later, started getting severe headaches.
    Given Fiorinal and valium by family doctor.
    Had to take Fiorinal twice daily to control symptoms (codiene and phenobarbital) plus take valium at night.
    Finally sent for brain scan and work up by neurologist- nothing organic found ( no tumour etc.)

    Suffered from daily headaches for next 10 years or so- sometimes did not start until mid-day, sometime woke up with one. Spent most of my days on barbituates and painkillers.

    Started regular sessions with a very sympathetic, understanding lady who had time to listen to me and who explained to me that the painkillers I was taking were actually bad for me because the doctors were only trying to suppress my symptoms, not deal with the underlying cause. She told me about a widely used alternative therapy which was 100 per cent safe and 100 per cent effective and she gave me a placebo, assuring me that it was guaranteed to help – and headaches seemed to slow down to just when menses started.

    One summer developed a severe headache that would not go away- lasted 4-5 days and getting more and more severe. Decided to see homeopath and after a very comforting talk in which she explained to me how my treatment was based on 200 years of effective therapy but was nevertheless individualised to me, I was given another placebo (Ignatia in my case). Had dream about former boyfriend that night, woke up crying….

    Headache went away that next morning, and now, after 20 years, I can honestly say I have had maybe 1-2 headaches since then.

    Comment by M Simpson — January 25, 2008 @ 11:51 pm | Reply

  28. Homeopath was a he.

    Comment by GaleG — January 25, 2008 @ 11:55 pm | Reply

  29. But you would have to agree the said headaches started after the grief, and that all the medications were doing were suppressing the symptoms, NOT getting to deeper reason I had them.

    Comment by GaleG — January 26, 2008 @ 12:03 am | Reply

  30. I guess the remedy I also had that cured pyelonephritis was ???
    And what about the one I had for severe bursitis?
    And the one for an abccessed tooth?

    Oh yes, and the one for PMS where I felt like strangling my kids and husband?

    Let’s not forget the one I took for the green stuff coming out of my nose…..

    Gosh……

    Comment by GaleG — January 26, 2008 @ 12:06 am | Reply

  31. “But you would have to agree the said headaches started after the grief, and that all the medications were doing were suppressing the symptoms, NOT getting to deeper reason I had them.” — of course! Pharmacology doesn’t suppose to treat psychological problems. In that kind of case, it was only ever intended to relieve symptoms. The “deeper reason” was grief (not energy flow or anything else that is made up), so if you want to “treat” that with “modern medicine” what you want is a psychiatrist, not a pharmacist. If you needed to work through it and you needed someone to talk to, then since homeopaths spend a lot more time with each patient than GPs, then it makes sense that he was able to talk it out properly with you (under the guise of “personalising” your remedy). That helped you get through the grief and with that out of the way the headaches stopped. We don’t need to invoke a magical homeopathic effect that goes dead against all known science in order to explain the events of your life, so we’re not going to. For that we need a controlled trial.

    So go on, then, Gale. What is the “deeper underlying cause” of an abscessed tooth, and what did homeopathy do to correct it? As far as I’m aware (and I just do research into dental disorders, so you know, I’m not an expert or anything) the cause is a whacking great hole in your rotting tooth. What was the treatment? Very dilute coca-cola? Did the cavity heal over?

    Comment by Andrew Taylor — January 26, 2008 @ 12:46 pm | Reply

  32. Andrew, the under lying cause to an abscessed tooth could be many things, you have to look at the totality of the person with the abscess. If there was a great hole in a rotting tooth the individual would have to see a dentist and have it repaired. What a homeopathic remedy would do in conjunction to the tooth being fixed is address the susceptibility to abscess and decay in the tooth. Even if the cause of the decay was environmental, say drinking 6 cans of coke a day, because the remedy would address the reason why the individual is addicted to sugar.

    Comment by Goodscience — January 26, 2008 @ 1:31 pm | Reply

  33. …but that wouldn’t make the existing abscess go away. That would just make it less likely you’d develop another one in the future. Once an infection has taken hold, you should really deal with that before you start worrying about ultimate causes.

    Comment by Andrew Taylor — January 26, 2008 @ 1:42 pm | Reply

  34. Yes, it is true, but often it is the same remedy that deals with the acute as well as the chronic condition. Some times not. In an acute situation like an abscess you still consider a totality, even if the totality is a bit smaller than taking a chronic case. You are still looking for an individual remedy. The remedy is given to address the infection, but they would still need to see a dentist to fix the cavity. After the acute is resolved, if the addiction to the sugar persists, then you know that the remedy was truly an acute and a deeper acting remedy is needed.

    Comment by Goodscience — January 26, 2008 @ 1:55 pm | Reply

  35. HI!

    Abcessed tooth- got infected after the dentist had replaced a lost filling.

    I was in another city a few days later on vacation when the infection started- extreme pain, swelling etc. Took the remedy, the pain IMMEDIATELY went away, and the infection subsided. Saw my dentist a few days later upon my return and had a root canal done. The infection had cleared up completely.

    Never took pain killers nor antibiotics.

    Underlying…….why did it get infected in the first place after a simple filling….. I had just found out I was unexpectedly pregnant at age 43….. mixed emotions….when I took the remedy, burst into tears, and the pain left and the healing began. Listen, I had been whimpering and very upset beforehand from the pain itself. AFTER the remedy, I cried deeply and long ,found the place inside me that was afraid of pregnancy, another baby etc. Then the pain left……..and the healing began.

    My experience with homeopathy is that the right remedy very often causes a release of emotions( in my case usually tears and crying)….the physical symptoms subside, and then I go on to feeling better and more balanced.

    The homeopath has done NO THERAPY NOR EVEN DISCUSS the emotional stuff in a big way- asks what is going on and let’s me speak. But it is only after taking the remedy, that I have been able to access the deeper emotions and get relief both physically and emotionally.’

    This is very big stuff- that the physical symptoms ( and they can be very severe) are one’s unique way of giving clues to a homeopath to the correct remedy.

    It is a very “new” yet important concept of health and disease, and I can truly understand your difficulty in understanding it. I am only “baring my soul” so to speak to help in this process.

    Comment by GaleG — January 26, 2008 @ 3:23 pm | Reply

  36. About the headache thing:

    I had taken stress management courses, had seen a therapist, had received some help around the grief, but the headaches still continued. My mother and father both suffered from “tension” headaches, so it was believed to be a “hereditary” tendency.

    I showed them differently. Please don’t dismiss this- headaches and those taking pain- killers daily are a huge part of our population. And yes, sometimes they are helped by therapy, but in many cases not.

    Headaches for me became a thing of the past, ONCE I had a deep and permanent healing subsequent to taking a homeopathic remedy.

    Comment by GaleG — January 26, 2008 @ 3:54 pm | Reply

  37. I asked my 27 year old daughter if she could remember any personal incidents: She had an acute tonsillitis which was not responding to medical treatment (she has her own GP, and also a hoemopath- two different people) a few years ago, and after taking a homeopathic remedy, she fell into a very deep sleep- when she awoke the pain had gone and she continued on to a complete recovery.

    In fact, that remedy stopped the cycle of chronic tonsillitis she had been experiencing.

    Comment by GaleG — January 26, 2008 @ 4:59 pm | Reply

  38. GaleG, no-one is denying that you and your daughter suffered these various symptoms and subsequently gained relief from them. But everything you have described so far can be perfectly adequately explained using the generally accepted – ie. non-homeopathic – understanding of how the human body and mind function. There is no need to invent fantastical ideas like the law of similars and a vital force in order to explain what you and your family have experienced.

    Comment by M Simpson — January 26, 2008 @ 7:00 pm | Reply

  39. M, what GaleG is trying to explain is the mind, body and disposition connection that homeopaths base their remedy selection upon. When the totality of the individual is considered, you address the underlying cause. Your confusion in what GG is saying is because you are assuming that the mental and emotion aspect of the case has nothing to do with the health process, but it is at the core. That is why homeopathic remedies act much more profoundly than drug therapy. They address the whole of the individual not just the physical symptoms. You may say that it is placebo because the homeopath is attentive, but then the results would not be permanent. Palliation is very limited in its action.

    Comment by Goodscience — January 26, 2008 @ 7:14 pm | Reply

  40. I think I understand homeopathy more since this discussion than before it. But I still think you’re all crazy.

    Comment by Andrew Taylor — January 26, 2008 @ 7:48 pm | Reply

  41. Dear Andrew,
    You made me laugh-thanks.
    Crazy it is! I have been called worse things……
    Thanks for hanging in here.

    Comment by GaleG — January 26, 2008 @ 8:11 pm | Reply

  42. You guys, all of you, should read this book:

    From Paralysis to Fatigue: A History of Psychosomatic Illness in the Modern Era by Edward Shorter

    Comment by bill — January 26, 2008 @ 8:46 pm | Reply

  43. MJ Simpson: “…and look where that got us!” Where it go us was the 1848 revolution (part of a wave across Western Europe), which brought Germany into the modern world, exactly as Hahnemann predicted. Nazism was a product of a completely different causative process, if that is what you are referring too.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 26, 2008 @ 10:18 pm | Reply

  44. Tom p: “That may have been true then, when medicines actually were useless and dangerous” You should look at the statistics for iatrogenic diseases, the record of drugs withdrawn, and the list of cautions and side effects in the British National Formulary before making bland and inaccurate remarks like that.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 26, 2008 @ 10:20 pm | Reply

  45. Tom p: “Antihypertensives, for example, are perfectly good at alleviating high blood pressure and maintain it at a correct level.” No they are not. What is more they produce side effects. You have a strange idea of “perfectly good”,

    Comment by Ohreally — January 26, 2008 @ 10:24 pm | Reply

  46. Flim_flam: “the assumption that many medical conditions do not have proximal causes or have proximal causes whose nature we will never know.” A proximal cause is not complete cause. The sheer complexity of interactions within the human body make it impossible to establish a single cause for any illness. What can be established is the total response of the body. What can also be established is the total reaction of the human body to specific substances. On this basis a direct comparison can be made between a problem and potential solutions. Medical history is littered – even to the present day – with examples of the problem of illness being solved by application of something capable of producing a similar illness in the healthy. Orthodox medicine even uses medicines with precisely this relationship to the illnesses they treat. Facts always reveal themselves, no matter how much you try to suppress them.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 26, 2008 @ 10:31 pm | Reply

  47. Gale G: “#1 Take infantile excema as an example.
    A good parent gets given cortisone creme for it, and faithfully applies it twice a day. The excema, over time, clears up somewhat.”
    FYI from BNF: “Corticosteroids suppress the inflammatory reaction during use; they are not curative and on discontinuation a rebound exacerbation of the condition may occur. They are generally used to relieve symptoms and suppress signs of the disorder when other measures such as emollients are ineffective.”
    Tom p would call them “perfectly good”

    Comment by Ohreally — January 26, 2008 @ 10:37 pm | Reply

  48. “Medical history is littered – even to the present day – with examples of the problem of illness being solved by application of something capable of producing a similar illness in the healthy. Orthodox medicine even uses medicines with precisely this relationship to the illnesses they treat.”

    Could you name some?

    Comment by M Simpson — January 26, 2008 @ 10:44 pm | Reply

  49. Flim_flam: “Gale, I personally wouldn’t want to remove your freedom to choose (not on the NHS though) and I’m glad your daughter is so healthy.” Why not on the NHS? About 0.1% of the NHS budget goes on CAM as a whole, which is negligible. Why should everyone be FORCED to have the medicine you approve of, when they pay taxes too? If 50% of medical research money were spent on CAM instead of 0.05%, perhaps we would have the answers you are looking for, because the empirical evidence could be investigated fully in line with the theoretical explanations. With 26% of people in the UK using CAM, at least 26% of the medical research budget of the NHS should be spent in acknowledgment of that preference by the tax-paying population.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 26, 2008 @ 10:46 pm | Reply

  50. Flim_flam: “My guess is that you’d predict that group A would fare better than group B, fine. But that’s not what is observed when this test is actually done. Why?! What’s gone wrong? I think it’s in your interest to find out (or at least speculate) because if this did actually happen in a regular, repeatable way homoeopathy would be universally accepted.” If the test is conducted properly, that is what is observed. When this happens the reaction is remarks like: “if it were not for the implausibility of the method of action, we would say that homeopathy works.” What’s gone wrong is that it does work, and it is denied, because belief systems get in the way of scientific evaluation.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 26, 2008 @ 10:50 pm | Reply

  51. M Simpson: “If you take a large group of people, then their individualities average out and don’t affect the results.” Prove it! There is absolutely NO evidence that this assertion is correct. What is more I defy you to come up with any experiment capable of proving it. It is complete nonsense. Even worse, the people being treated ARE individuals, so to say that a generalised result is going to be appropriate to them is tantamount to saying that you only need to produce shoes in the average size to fit everybody. This sort of thinking is so stupid it beggars belief.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 26, 2008 @ 10:57 pm | Reply

  52. Gimpy: “But, bringing this conversation back to the Organon, Hahnemann didn’t have our understanding of science and he wasn’t to know about germ theories of disease, genetics, Avogadro, etc so he wasn’t to know just how controversial his theories would be in modern times.” Don’t you read your own site, Gimpy? Hahnemann did know about germs. What is more he knew as much about it as Pasteur who said: “The germ is nothing; the terrain is everything.” They both recognised that it is the susceptibility of the person to the illness which is the critical factor, not the germ.

    “PS Could the homeopaths please answer my questions posed in 4.” Hahnemann details the interactions between similar and dissimilar diseases later as part of his evidence for homeopathy in nature.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 26, 2008 @ 11:03 pm | Reply

  53. Gimpy: “Goodscience, but Hahnemann says nothing about antibiotics, he says nothing about infectious disease, he says nothing about eczema and he says nothing about asthma. What relevance does Hahnemann have as he was not aware of their existence?” The beauty of a scientific explanation based on laws rather than meaningless experiments is that it can be applied successfully in new situations. By meaningless experiments, I mean ones which produce only statistical results. A statistical result is an automatic acknowledgment of ignorance of the processes involved.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 26, 2008 @ 11:07 pm | Reply

  54. Nash: “Even in Hahnemanns’ time it was known that drinking lemon or lime juice cured and prevented scurvy. So how does the law of similars account for this?” He refers to the reason in paragraph 4. A deficiency disease such as scurvy arising from lack of vitamin c in the diet is a direct product of a maintaining cause of illness. Are you seriously suggesting that Hahnemann or any homeopath would say that starving someone can be cured by starving them? Idiot!

    Comment by Ohreally — January 26, 2008 @ 11:11 pm | Reply

  55. Andrew Taylor: “The point, h4h, is not to look for “anything else but homeopathy”, but to look for everything else that could have been the cause. In any given story there are many possible explanations. One (or more) is right; the others are wrong. So what we tend to assume is that if the list of possibilities includes accepted phenomena (like regression to the mean, self-limiting conditions, placebo effects, etc) and non-accepted phenomena (like homeopathy), we should not conclude that the latter has been proven. What we need is some way of eliminating every explanation except homeopathy.”

    Regression to the mean, self-limiting conditions, placebo effects – these are simply excuses. Explain how regression to the mean works in an individual case, that is, how you would go about predicting the speed of such regression and what the mean is. Then do an experiment to test your theory. The same is the case for self-limiting conditions. This is just a convenient catch-all which means that you do not know why what happens happens, but it is a good way of denying effects when you want to. As for placebo effect, nobody knows how this works – in fact they know less about how it works than they do about homeopathy. Why on earth is it an acceptable explanation when it is totally inexplicable, but homeopathy is not acceptable despite mounting evidence for its efficacy and for its mechanism of action?

    Could it be that we are seeing not a scientific approach, but prejudice? Of course we are.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 26, 2008 @ 11:21 pm | Reply

  56. Andrew Taylor: “So go on, then, Gale. What is the “deeper underlying cause” of an abscessed tooth, and what did homeopathy do to correct it? As far as I’m aware (and I just do research into dental disorders, so you know, I’m not an expert or anything) the cause is a whacking great hole in your rotting tooth. What was the treatment? Very dilute coca-cola? Did the cavity heal over?” As you say you are not aware. The body is self-repairing. There is no reason why an abscess should not heal with the correct treatment, nor any reason why a tooth should not be rebuilt. But perhaps you have proof that this is not possible? I doubt it, as the dental profession is based on the principle that teeth cannot be repaired by the body, and no-one would get money to research whether that principle is correct or not. By the way, if you look up the symptoms for fluorine compounds you will find decay of the teeth very prominent – strange that it is put into drinking water to reduce caries!

    Comment by Ohreally — January 26, 2008 @ 11:31 pm | Reply

  57. M Simpson: “Could you name some?”
    Quinine for malaria
    Silver nitrate for neonatal conjunctivitis
    Coal tar for psoriasis
    Fluorides for caries
    Digitalis for heart failure
    Gold for arthritis
    All those could be prescribed to the same patient by both a homeopath and an orthodox doctor. The only difference would be that the homeopath would prescribe on a very precise need in the patient and use a dose which would produce no side effects. I know of a case where a patient did not mention that they had had a gold injection for arthritis, and since gold is very inactive in the body, significant quantities are needed in orthodox treatment. The homeopathic prescription led to a very severe reaction as a result, because the body became sensitive to the massive dose injected as well as trying to deal with the condition.

    Other examples include sleeping pills for coma (a recent story in the Guardian and on TV), and cow pox for small pox.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 26, 2008 @ 11:50 pm | Reply

  58. Thank you Ohreally- I have learned a lot from your posts.

    Comment by GaleG — January 27, 2008 @ 12:22 am | Reply

  59. Ohreally, I may have mentioned that I work in dental research. I do not need to look up the symptoms of “fluorine” compounds (which you really ought to call “fluorides”, because they’re ionic) to tell you that while an overdose of fluoride can damage developing teeth — I have been involved in a study into this exact effect — a small (though, importantly, finite) dose does help reduce the incidence of caries, a far more common condition than fluorosis.

    But I think that there is a reason “why a tooth should not be rebuilt”: tooth enamel is almost entirely made of non-organic crystalline material. Such material does not heal. It can grow, in solution, but that’s nothing like the same thing. Expecting a tooth to heal itself when it has become cavitated is like expecting a building to repair itself if a window is broken. I know it’s in the body and all, but in real science we don’t recognise this arbitrary boundary between The Body and Other Stuff. The atoms in your body have to obey the same rules as those outside it. Look at hair: that can’t heal itself after being cut, even if you hold the ends together.

    Or can it, with sufficient homeopathy?

    Comment by Andrew Taylor — January 27, 2008 @ 12:40 am | Reply

  60. You want an example of regression to the mean? I guarantee you that every time someone I know gets a cold (I hardly ever get sick, and yet I do not use homeopathy. Strange eh?)it will be cured between 1 and 5 days later, unless when it develops into something worse like for example pneumonia.

    Comment by Elennaro — January 27, 2008 @ 12:42 am | Reply

  61. A building cannot repair itself because it lacks the vital force.

    Comment by bill — January 27, 2008 @ 2:20 am | Reply

  62. “M Simpson: “If you take a large group of people, then their individualities average out and don’t affect the results.” Prove it! There is absolutely NO evidence that this assertion is correct.”

    Are you for real? What planet do you live on? Have you any understanding of statistics at all? Do you understand the concept of ‘average’? Did you read my analogy about measuring people’s height? The whole of medicine is based on averages because We Are All Individuals. That’s why there are no absolute answers, except in the fantastical fairyland of homeopathy where people believe ‘it cured me therefore it will definitely cure you’.

    If you’re going to deny such utterly, utterly, basic concepts as randomness we’re going to get nowhere.

    Comment by M Simpson — January 27, 2008 @ 9:11 am | Reply

  63. “M Simpson: “If you take a large group of people, then their individualities average out and don’t affect the results.” Prove it! There is absolutely NO evidence that this assertion is correct.”

    If their individualities average out, then their individualities must affect the result, because you would not have to average out identical responses. The point is that the average result is useless in the majority of individual cases, just as an average pair of shoes is useless to the majority of people. The whole of medicine is based on averages because it is NOT based on science. A scientific theory predicts what will happen, and it either happens, tending to confirm the theory, or it does not, in which case the cause has to be found or the theory modified. Homeopathy is based on a scientific theory (where orthodox medicine is not), and it does not predict that a remedy which cured me will cure you, but that a remedy which has a defined relationship to your symptoms will cure you, whoever you are. That is a testable theory, and it has been tested every day for over 200 years. What is more it allows a homeopath to use the failure of a selected remedy to cure in order to work out the reason for the failure, and this can occasionally mean that the needed remedy can be identified by deduction from the facts even though it has never been tested. That is an example of the supremely scientific approach to medicine embodied in homeopathy. Nothing in orthodox medicine comes close to identifying a new treatment that is the right one for a specific individual.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 27, 2008 @ 6:57 pm | Reply

  64. Elennaro: “You want an example of regression to the mean? I guarantee you that every time someone I know gets a cold (I hardly ever get sick, and yet I do not use homeopathy. Strange eh?)it will be cured between 1 and 5 days later, unless when it develops into something worse like for example pneumonia.” I think you should have looked up regression to the mean before posting this. It is embarrassingly foolish.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 27, 2008 @ 7:00 pm | Reply

  65. GaleG: “Thank you Ohreally- I have learned a lot from your posts.” Thank you! I don’t see why you should have personal details exposed to such ill-informed ridicule as you continually receive. To be honest, I would suggest that you not give them any more opportunity to insult you implicitly or explicitly.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 27, 2008 @ 7:05 pm | Reply

  66. Andew Taylor: “I work in dental research. I do not need to look up the symptoms of “fluorine” compounds (which you really ought to call “fluorides”, because they’re ionic)” I would not call fluoric acid a fluoride, so I used the more general term. If you look up the symptoms of these compounds in a homeopathic materia medica you will find a lot more information about their effects on teeth.

    “tooth enamel is almost entirely made of non-organic crystalline material. Such material does not heal. It can grow, in solution, but that’s nothing like the same thing. Expecting a tooth to heal itself when it has become cavitated is like expecting a building to repair itself if a window is broken.” Tooth enamel is the final surface of the tooth, but the rest of it is a mixture of living tissue and deposits like bone and cartilage. In principle there is no reason why dentin should not be repaired in the same way as bone and cartilage are repaired. In fact the blood supply to the teeth is vastly better than to cartilage, so in theory repair could take less time.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 27, 2008 @ 7:15 pm | Reply

  67. Ohreally, there is a new rule for your comments on my blog. Provide a reference with evidence for every assertion you make. If you fail to do this I am minded to delete your comments as spam.

    Comment by gimpy — January 27, 2008 @ 7:27 pm | Reply

  68. So Ohreally, do all shoe shops sell bespoke shoes tailored to the customer’s exact foot size? Or do they produce a limited range of shoe sizes based around average foot size?

    Listen, if you want to claim, like Hahnemann did, that homeopathy is based some supernatural ‘vital force’ which no-one except homeopaths can detect, that’s one thing. It makes homeopathy a faith-based idea, closer to a religion than a science – and I’ve no problem in principle with religion.

    But if you want to claim that homeopathy is based on a scientific approach and conventional medicine isn’t, then you’re living in the mirror universe.

    Furthermore, Elennaro’s example of ‘regression to the mean’ is perfectly valid. Everyone gets colds so a person’s state varies from bad cold to full health, with a mean somewhere in between (slightly sniffly). Any time you get a bad cold, if you do nothing, it will fade away (unless you have pneumonia or HIV or similar major health problem) and so you will regress to the mean and then continue to full health. Similarly, unless you’re very fortunate, any period of full health will eventually end when you get another cold, at which point you once again regress to the mean and past it. It’s like a sine wave.

    What homeopaths do is treat people at the bottom of that sine wave with ineffective fake remedies and then take credit for the person’s recovery. Paying a homeopath to cure a self-limiting condition is like paying a witch doctor to make the sun come up tomorrow morning.

    Criticising somebody for not knowing what something means when you don’t know it yourself is indeed “embarrassingly foolish.” But then, it seems the only way that homeopaths can win arguments is to change the meanings of things.

    Comment by M Simpson — January 27, 2008 @ 7:36 pm | Reply

  69. That should be a rule for everyone including M Simpson and his strange x because y logic.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 27, 2008 @ 7:37 pm | Reply

  70. Medical history is littered – even to the present day – with examples of the problem of illness being solved by application of something capable of producing a similar illness in the healthy. Orthodox medicine even uses medicines with precisely this relationship to the illnesses they treat.”

    Here’s another: bee sting therapy for rheumatoid arthritis:

    http://www.rheumatology.org/press/2004/beevenom1104.asp?aud=prs

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 27, 2008 @ 7:40 pm | Reply

  71. Perhaps Ohreally could give us his definition of ‘regression to the mean’?

    Comment by M Simpson — January 27, 2008 @ 7:52 pm | Reply

  72. ‘What homeopaths do is treat people at the bottom of that sine wave with ineffective fake remedies and then take credit for the person’s recovery.’

    [I’m going to have to think up a term for this kind of ‘fact’ that M and others repeat ad infinitum in the hope of making it true. Ok it’s a ‘FRACT’ – a fact that the claimer would like to be true but isnt.]

    Hardly. When someone of 41 has had sinusitis since childhood and has never been able to blow their nose then comes to me and the sinusitis clears and they have to learn to blow their nose, it is hardly a self-limiting condition.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 27, 2008 @ 8:00 pm | Reply

  73. homeopathy4health, I cannot for the life of me see how a bee sting is comparable to rheumatoid arthritis other than that they are both painful. The paper referred to in your link does not use the idea that a bee sting is in any way comparable to arthritis to explain the rationale for the research. Anyway, this has nothing to do with homeopathy, what was your point?

    Comment by gimpy — January 27, 2008 @ 8:17 pm | Reply

  74. Ohreally, I am not going to “look up the symptoms of these compounds in a homeopathic materia medica”. Mostly this is because you have yet to convince me that a “homeopathic materia medica” will contain anything that can be reasonably called “information”, although also it is because compounds do not have symptoms. Illnesses have symptoms; substances have effects. You’re right that fluoric acid isn’t a fluoride, but I assumed you were discussing fluorides because fluoric acid has no medicinal uses except in homeopathy (which is stretching the terms “medicinal” and “use” somewhat), fluoric acid doesn’t cause caries (because caries is a bacterial infection) and if you meant that then what you’re really saying is “if you look up the symptoms for [fluoric acid] you will find decay of the teeth very prominent – strange that [fluoride compounds are] put into drinking water to reduce caries”, which is perverse: as you pointed out fluoric acid is not a fluoride, and it is not put into drinking water. They’re both compounds with fluorine nuclei in them, but the fluoride ion is what strengthens tooth enamel and fluoric acid doesn’t contain any fluoride ions. This is high-school chemistry.

    Comment by Andrew Taylor — January 27, 2008 @ 8:20 pm | Reply

  75. The inflammation of a bee sting is similar to the inflammation of RA (red, hot, swollen, oedematous), homeopathic Apis (bee) is used as a remedy for RA, conventional medicine also uses beesting to treat RA.

    Homeopathic principles are used in conventional medicine as Ohreally said back in #48.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 27, 2008 @ 8:36 pm | Reply

  76. When I had an ingrowing toe-nail it was small, white and hard. The doctor gave me some pills that were small, white and hard. Was that a homeopathic principle?

    When my son had chicken pox (round, red things all over his body) he was miserable but we gave him spaghetti hoops for tea and after that he felt a lot happier. Once again, like cures like.

    By George, I think I’m starting to understand this now!

    Comment by M Simpson — January 27, 2008 @ 8:55 pm | Reply

  77. Sorry to bring this back, but at number 51 ohreally brings this up:

    “If you take a large group of people, then their individualities average out and don’t affect the results.” Prove it! There is absolutely NO evidence that this assertion is correct.”

    What you are apparently unaware of is the ‘law of big numbers’. thankyou, as you were.

    Comment by hairnet — January 27, 2008 @ 9:01 pm | Reply

  78. you are still showing problems with logic I’m afraid.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 27, 2008 @ 9:01 pm | Reply

  79. Er, h4h, comment #48 was M Simpson asking Ohreally to back up the claim that “homeopathic principles are used in conventional medicine”. He did respond, but his post failed to acknowledge that although “all those could be prescribed to the same patient by both a homeopath and an orthodox doctor” (a claim I haven’t bothered to check and therefore won’t endorse), the homeopath would remove all the molecules of the proposed cure before letting the patient have it.

    The two on the list I am familiar with are “fluoride for dental caries” which I think we’ve covered already, and “cow pox for smallpox”, which is not a homeopathic principle at all. Vaccination works by inducing the body to produce antibodies. There’s no vital force, no supermolecular dilutions, no energy flow and no homeopathy anywhere near them. It’s superficially similar at best. I would assume other examples are similar — not really homeopathic at all.

    Comment by Andrew Taylor — January 27, 2008 @ 9:50 pm | Reply

  80. I wouldn’t assume if I were you, that’s strange logic too.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 27, 2008 @ 10:03 pm | Reply

  81. I’m only assuming until I see evidence. Clearly the concept of a null hypothesis is lost on you.

    Comment by Andrew Taylor — January 27, 2008 @ 10:17 pm | Reply

  82. I don’t believe in being constrained by what ‘experts’ report in politically driven gobbledegook statistically-biased ‘blind and blinded’ clinical reports, no. I prefer experience.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 27, 2008 @ 10:25 pm | Reply

  83. Alright. My experience is that Ohreally talks rubbish.

    Hey, this saves a lot of time!

    Comment by Andrew Taylor — January 27, 2008 @ 10:35 pm | Reply

  84. Gimpy: “Ohreally, there is a new rule for your comments on my blog. Provide a reference with evidence for every assertion you make. If you fail to do this I am minded to delete your comments as spam.”

    I wondered when you would reveal your true colours this openly. Anti-homeopaths on your site can make assertions which have no evidence to support them or which actually contradict themselves, but supporters of homeopathy have to back every statement, however basic the scientific knowledge involved, with references. I think my list of translations of words used by anti-homeopathic bloggers has just been proved absolutely correct.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 27, 2008 @ 10:38 pm | Reply

  85. Andrew Taylor: “Alright. My experience is that Ohreally talks rubbish.” So prove it! Where is the evidence that teeth cannot be repaired by the body? You say you work in dental research, so you must have access to the evidence. Gimpy wants assertions backed by references, so don’t assert without a reference.

    Sorry, Gimpy wants ME to provide references, even though he does not read them when given. You can say what you like because he agrees with you. That is scientific. That is a balanced assessment of evidence. That is truth.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 27, 2008 @ 10:43 pm | Reply

  86. M Simpson: “Perhaps Ohreally could give us his definition of ‘regression to the mean’?” I did not use the term, I just understand what it means. Let those who quote in their support justify it, since it is their term. To say that getting well AND pneumonia are equally a cold regressing to the mean is really hedging your bets.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 27, 2008 @ 10:53 pm | Reply

  87. What really upsets Gimpy and the rest of you is having all your nonsense exposed at once. None of you produce anything remotely like scientific evidence for what you say, yet you expect people to answer your criticisms on the basis of what you say. It is like fighting on quicksand. Frankly you can go under if you want to, but I will hold on to the validity of theory which can be tested, not assumptions which are demonstrably wrong. I happen to believe in science and the scientific method.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 27, 2008 @ 10:58 pm | Reply

  88. Actually there is one last point.

    Gimpy, you imply that I posted things which needed referencing. I believe I referred to nothing which is not basic knowledge for anyone connected with medicine. Perhaps you would like to list the points with which you had difficulties.

    Of course, everyone will then see the extent of your knowledge …

    Comment by Ohreally — January 27, 2008 @ 11:18 pm | Reply

  89. Okay, this is getting ridiculous. Ohreally and H4H have no interest in any sort of debate or discussion and have passed the point where nothing they say makes any sense. Seriously. This is like having an argument with a drunk person whose only response to any comment is “You’re just saying that because you’ve been boozing!” They’re throwing back at any reasonable comment the things we would be saying to them (if we were 15 years old).

    We’re feeding trolls here, folks. There is No Point in asking these people anything because not only will you not get a straight answer but you’ll get an answer justified by a claim which actually completely contradicts the answer. At least GaleG admits she doesn’t know anything, but these two are just infantile.

    “None of you produce anything remotely like scientific evidence for what you say,”
    “I will hold on to the validity of theory which can be tested, not assumptions which are demonstrably wrong”

    Give me a break!

    They’ll undoubtedly crowe about “Ooh, we’ve won! They’ve thrown their toys out of the pram.” but let’s just get back to ploughing our way through the Organon so we’ve got a comeback when homeopaths go “Have you even read it?”

    I’m bored with this, we’ve fed these trolls for too long. Being reasonable only gets you so far when you’re arguing with teenagers.

    Comment by M Simpson — January 27, 2008 @ 11:23 pm | Reply

  90. I said “cavitated teeth can’t repair themselves” without a string of references because it’s well known fact. There is no known mechanic by which it can happen, there is no recorded case of it happening, and there is no reason why anyone would think that it does happen. I’m not saying something that is in any way controversial. (I’m sure I could find plenty of studies of tooth erosion, none showing a statistically significant increase in a tooth surface, but I doubt if anyone’s ever specifically researched “can teeth repair cavities” because… well, really because that would be a ridiculous thing to do unless you thought the answer might be “yes” which clearly nobody does.)

    If I said “it is impossible for a human being to grow wings and fly” would you want proof of that too?

    Comment by Andrew Taylor — January 27, 2008 @ 11:24 pm | Reply

  91. Actually, I was kind of thinking that Ohreally and H4H were actually skeptics doing their best to make homeopaths look like idiots. Even when we do produce actual science, the scoff it away like it was a mere pittance:
    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pubmed&pubmedid=12492603

    They live in some kind of Bizzaro world where anecdotes trump statistically valid studies, and where teeth can grow back and genetic diseases can be healed spontaneously. And it is perfectly valid because they say so. Ohreally may actually believe that a severed limb can grow back with the help of the proper homeopath. This fits in perfectly in a world where a remedy becomes stronger the more you dilute it.

    Ohreally, H4H, “good”science and Gale, what color is the sky in your world?

    Comment by HCN — January 27, 2008 @ 11:55 pm | Reply

  92. “Actually, I was kind of thinking that Ohreally and H4H were actually skeptics doing their best to make homeopaths look like idiots.”

    I think so too.

    Comment by Bill — January 28, 2008 @ 6:25 am | Reply

  93. Ohreally, you posted @ 44:
    “Tom p: “That may have been true then, when medicines actually were useless and dangerous” You should look at the statistics for iatrogenic diseases, the record of drugs withdrawn, and the list of cautions and side effects in the British National Formulary before making bland and inaccurate remarks like that.”

    And you, dear sweet retarded unpleasant ohreally, should look at how many people are actually cured. I work in pharmacovigilance, so looking at these people and the figures is my profession. We accept that some people experience some side effects with medicines. However, we only deem these side-effects acceptable if a significantly higher proportion of people are treated and if the serious side-effects are very rare. There are 2 important concepts in medical licensing – Number Needed to Treat (NNT) & Number Needed to Harm (NNH). NNT should be much greater than NNH and for serious harm, it should be orders of magnitude greater.
    Not many drugs are actually withdrawn – I’d advise you to look at how many there actually are in the BNF vs how many are withdrawn if I thought that you had the mental capacity to do so and to understand the implications.
    A huge number of the iatrogenic illness figures are made up of botched surgery and hospital-acquired infections. Another huge chunk of the side-effects are actually caused by the medicine working too well (e.g. antihypertensives causing low blood pressure). In these instances the doctor should reduce the dose so that it’s more suitable for the individual. We know this because we properly record what happens to our patients because we actually care about them, rather than being thieving charlatans who fob them off with a kind word and some magic beans.

    @45 you wrote:
    Tom p: “Antihypertensives, for example, are perfectly good at alleviating high blood pressure and maintain it at a correct level.” No they are not. What is more they produce side effects. You have a strange idea of “perfectly good”,

    So you reckon that antihypertensives are not good at alleviating high blood pressure? So you’d deny every doctor in the world’s measurements then would you? Lying moron.

    Comment by tom p — January 28, 2008 @ 12:01 pm | Reply

  94. Good lord! I don’t think I’ve seen quite so many stupid comments posted in one place since I last looked at the comments on youtube. Gimpy, you have my sympathy for having attracted the intellectual dregs of the pro-homoeopathy crowd (Gale, you are an honourable exception).

    Ohreally, lets look at some of your idiocies:

    “The sheer complexity of interactions within the human body make it impossible to establish a single cause for any illness.”
    – Certainly, susceptibility plays a part, but I was under the impression that malaria is *always* caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Plasmodium etc.

    “If the test is conducted properly, that [effect of homoeopathy over placebo] is what is observed.”
    – Why then was the conclusion drawn from a large meta-analysis that the better designed the study (i.e., the fewer alternative reasons for an effect present) the less likely it was to show a positive effect of homoeopathy.

    “M Simpson: “If you take a large group of people, then their individualities average out and don’t affect the results.” Prove it! There is absolutely NO evidence that this assertion is correct.”
    – Ohhhaahahahahaaaa! That’s hilarious! [wipes eyes]. Ok, Ohreally you’d like proof? Funnily enough mathematics is actually the one field in which you can provide genuine “proof”, but an analogy should serve. If you were trying to find out whether Brits or Americans were stronger and you randomly chose me (Brit) and Sylvester Stallone, it would be pretty obvious that our individual differences would greatly influence your conclusions (him being a bodybuilder vs. me being a desk-jockey). If you randomly chose 100 Brits and 100 Americans, and still included me and SS, the individual differences between me and SS would influence the result a great deal less because they would have less influence on the average strength of the group. As a group gets larger the influence of any one individual on the mean measure of any aspect of that group gets smaller. That’s a pretty basic mathematical truth Ohreally, and it will remain so no matter how much you cry and stamp your foot.

    And I’m still not convinced that you know what “regression to the mean” is. In fact, I’m pretty convinced that you don’t know what it means, since you don’t know what a “mean” is (as amply demonstrated by your lack of basic maths).

    Gale, although I’m sure you feel you’ve been helped by Ohreally’s comments please do keep an open mind to the possibility that he (and H4H) really doesn’t know what he is talking about in some fairly fundamental areas, notably logic, mathematics, science etc.

    Apologies to all for the troll-baiting. I’m sorry to you too Ohreally, just generally sorry…

    Comment by flimflam_machine — January 28, 2008 @ 12:10 pm | Reply

  95. In 28, Hanneman wrote “As this natural law of cure manifests itself in every pure experiment and every true observation in the world”
    Here he was referring to his like-cures-like claim.

    What about dock leaves and nettle stings? Here’s an experiment that even you homeopaths would be able to do and understand and would even be good for you:
    Go for a nice walk in the country.
    Find some stinging nettles (I think they’re calledd poison ivy in the USA) and some dock leaves and also get a homeopathic remedy for stinging nettle rash (there must be something which claims to cure rashes).
    Rub a dock leaf on your arm. Note that it doesn’t cause a rash. rub a nettle on your arm in a different place. Note that it causes a rash. Rub the dock leaf on the part of the arm where you rubbed the nettle and time how long it takes for the rash to go down.
    Then rub a nettle on the other arm and time how long it takes for the rash to go down.
    If it takes longer without the dock leaf than with, than you will have shown that number 28 is wrong. And was known about long before hanneman.

    Lastly, rub a nettle on an untouched part of the other arm take the homeopathic ‘remedy’. Time how long it takes for the rash to go down.

    Does it go down quicker or slower than with the dock leaf? Does the homeopathy cure you of the tendency to get a rash with stinging nettles? Why not try again with a stinging nettle? That’ll tell you if it at least cured the underlying causes of the rash.

    Of course, since this is just one person then you can’t extrapolate the results to others, but it shows you that Hanneman’s absolute statement is a load of tosh.

    Comment by tom p — January 28, 2008 @ 12:13 pm | Reply

  96. Gale – apologies for implying that you were a homeopath in comment 2.

    Comment by tom p — January 28, 2008 @ 12:15 pm | Reply

  97. “I don’t believe in being constrained by what ‘experts’ report in politically driven gobbledegook statistically-biased ‘blind and blinded’ clinical reports, no. I prefer experience.”

    H4H, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised trials are “experience”. They are simply a type of experience in which the environment is set up to avoid all the biases, misinterpretations and other foibles of the human condition. The fact that these precautions have been taken and that things are counted (wooooooooo…scary maths!) at the end doesn’t make them any the less “experience”.

    The answer to not understanding something is to try to understand it, not to dismiss it. But you have to admit that you don’t understand it first.

    (and before you say it, homoeopathy is not dismissed because we don’t understand it, it’s currently not accepted because there isn’t any decent evidence for it).

    Comment by flimflam_machine — January 28, 2008 @ 12:24 pm | Reply

  98. “Find some stinging nettles (I think they’re calledd poison ivy in the USA) and some dock leaves”

    Achtung! Beware! Stinging nettles and poison ivy are not the same thing! Research tom! Don’t try to remedy poison ivy rash with dock leaves because there is no indication that it will work.

    Also, when treating nettle stings with dock leaves, it’s best not to scrub the dock leaf on your arm but to fold it and tear it to release the juice and then place it on your arm. Scrubbing tends to break the skin, which can make the irritation worse.

    Comment by flimflam_machine — January 28, 2008 @ 12:29 pm | Reply

  99. Problem with the dock/nettle analogy is that homeopaths would say they they’re both leaves so it’s like curing like. That’s the neature of homeopathy – the ‘like’ bit can be as vague and ephemeral as you want, as we saw with rheumatoid arthritis and bee stings.

    Comment by MJ Simpson — January 28, 2008 @ 1:36 pm | Reply

  100. fliflam – thanks for that. It shows the importance of good study design and critical review of the methods.

    Comment by tom p — January 28, 2008 @ 5:14 pm | Reply

  101. Ohreally, in comment 57, you wrote:
    “I know of a case where a patient did not mention that they had had a gold injection for arthritis, and since gold is very inactive in the body, significant quantities are needed in orthodox treatment. The homeopathic prescription led to a very severe reaction as a result, because the body became sensitive to the massive dose injected as well as trying to deal with the condition.”

    Is this you saying that homeopathy can have side effects? If so, then your attacks on real medicine fall down somewhat, don’t they?

    Comment by tom p — January 28, 2008 @ 5:23 pm | Reply

  102. M Simpson: “Ohreally and H4H have no interest in any sort of debate or discussion and have passed the point where nothing they say makes any sense.” No. We just expect you to defend your assumptions.

    You stated that “if you take two other equally large, equally random groups, you get the same result. And if somebody else tries this experiment, they get the same result. Because using a large random group removes the distorted results that can come from small groups or individuals.”

    What you have completely failed to explain is how this result has any use when: “People are all individuals and everyone responds slightly differently to the factors around them.”

    The individuality necessarily affects the result (since it is a generalisation of individual characteristics), but more to the point the result has no guarantee of applicability in specific cases. In fact it has a guarantee of inapplicability in the majority of cases, hence side effects.

    So what is the justification for using a method of research in medicine guaranteed to produce inappropriate results? What is the scientific basis of this approach?

    Comment by Ohreally — January 28, 2008 @ 7:54 pm | Reply

  103. Tom p: “Is this you saying that homeopathy can have side effects? If so, then your attacks on real medicine fall down somewhat, don’t they?” No I did not say that homeopathy can have side effects. I said that “The homeopathic prescription led to a very severe reaction as a result, because the body became sensitive to the massive dose injected as well as trying to deal with the condition”. What this means is:
    1) The body received the homeopathic does of gold as a stimulus to start a curative process
    2) The body had already received a moderately toxic dose of gold
    3) The body being stimulated to act, it had to deal not only with the original problem but the additional toxicity of gold in the system
    4) As a result the body’s reaction was severe.
    An equivalent would be if you had a weight over your head, with a prop holding it in place. Just before you go to lift the weight out of the way, someone adds a lot more to it, so when you remove the prop you have a much bigger problem than you thought you had. Not a side effect of lifting, a result of extra weight.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 28, 2008 @ 8:09 pm | Reply

  104. Ohreally, I suggest you go and buy a beginners book on statistics, something really really basic. Because you’re not arguing anything regarding homeopathy or even the basis of homeopathy, you’re arguing against the absolute most fundamental concept of statistics on which, well, pretty much everything is based. Everything. The clothes you’re wearing, the computer you’re typing on, the building you’re in, the bus or car or bicycle you use to get to school. Everything that is created uses statistics in its creation.

    The world is based around averages. This is not a new idea, it goes back to ancient times. If you want to discuss homeopathy, fair enough, but if you’re going to argue basic statistics, you’re argument is so facile that it’s not worth dealing with.

    Comment by M Simpson — January 28, 2008 @ 8:31 pm | Reply

  105. M Simpson, I’m sorry that you feel you are average and a only a statistic. Most people feel differently. Most people would also like a medical system that treats them as the individual they are, and not as a statistic. It would be useful if you could prove your rather gargantuan assertion that “Everything that is created uses statistics in its creation.” It seems to me that it “is so facile that it’s not worth dealing with.”

    Comment by Ohreally — January 28, 2008 @ 11:05 pm | Reply

  106. tom p: ‘but it shows you that Hanneman’s absolute statement is a load of tosh.’

    You anticipate that this would show you that it is a load of tosh, it may not, you are prejudiced.

    Have you actually ever tried to cure a nettle sting with a dock leaf? It’s never worked for me.

    A remedy for nettle rash is Urticaria (nettle) in this case it is the same substance exactly, this approach is called ‘isopathy’ rather than homeopathy. And another is ‘Rhus Tox’ which IS poison ivy. These remedies are also used where itchy rashes occur for other reasons e.g. eating shellfish in the case of Urticaria, chicken pox (sorry M Simpson, spaghetti hoops are not similar enough)

    http://homeoint.org/books/boericmm/u/urt-u.htm

    http://homeoint.org/books/boericmm/r/rhus-t.htm

    It sounds like an interesting experiment, why don’t YOU do it and report back?

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 28, 2008 @ 11:18 pm | Reply

  107. M Simpson: ‘Problem with the dock/nettle analogy is that homeopaths would say they they’re both leaves so it’s like curing like’

    More deliberate nonsense M.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 28, 2008 @ 11:20 pm | Reply

  108. Flim_flam: “Good lord! I don’t think I’ve seen quite so many stupid comments posted in one place since I last looked at the comments on youtube.” Don’t you read those comments by your fellow anti-homeopaths? I can understand why you might not, but I got the impression that you did.

    As to specifics: “I was under the impression that malaria is *always* caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Plasmodium etc.” A necessary cause may be “protozoan parasites of the genus Plasmodium etc.” but it is not the only cause. Susceptibility plays a significant part.

    “Why then was the conclusion drawn from a large meta-analysis that the better designed the study (i.e., the fewer alternative reasons for an effect present) the less likely it was to show a positive effect of homoeopathy.” Because the authors rigged their choice of material to make sure they arrived at that conclusion. You also need to be very careful about whose definition of “well-designed” you take, since one based on the wrong paradigm necessarily produces the wrong answer.

    “As a group gets larger the influence of any one individual on the mean measure of any aspect of that group gets smaller. That’s a pretty basic mathematical truth Ohreally, and it will remain so no matter how much you cry and stamp your foot.” True, but the relevance of the mean to any individual does not become any greater, and anything tailored to the mean is still not tailored to the majority of individuals.

    “And I’m still not convinced that you know what “regression to the mean” is. In fact, I’m pretty convinced that you don’t know what it means, since you don’t know what a “mean” is (as amply demonstrated by your lack of basic maths).” Jumping to conclusions may be good exercise for you, but it makes it a lot harder to get back to real thinking without losing face. Perhaps you can explain how getting better and pneumonia both come under the definition?

    “Gale, although I’m sure you feel you’ve been helped by Ohreally’s comments please do keep an open mind to the possibility that he (and H4H) really doesn’t know what he is talking about in some fairly fundamental areas, notably logic, mathematics, science etc.” I suspect that Gale has realised that the only people I am aggressive towards are those who parade such scientific nonsense as: “I doubt if anyone’s ever specifically researched “can teeth repair cavities” because… well, really because that would be a ridiculous thing to do unless you thought the answer might be “yes” which clearly nobody does.” Is that a belief system in action or not?

    Comment by Ohreally — January 28, 2008 @ 11:28 pm | Reply

  109. ohreally: glad you picked up M on his totalitarian view of statistics.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 28, 2008 @ 11:29 pm | Reply

  110. ‘H4H, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised trials are “experience”. They are simply a type of experience in which the environment is set up to avoid all the biases, misinterpretations and other foibles of’… people who call themselves skeptics, because you all demonstrate them very well here, no wonder medical science is in the state it’s in.

    Have a look at the comments on Goldacre’s discussions of SSRI’s do they work or don’t they, what are they going to try next?

    http://www.badscience.net/?p=607#comments

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 28, 2008 @ 11:37 pm | Reply

  111. Tom p: “So you reckon that antihypertensives are not good at alleviating high blood pressure? So you’d deny every doctor in the world’s measurements then would you? Lying moron.” Uou should know that they produce side effects (like all drugs), and if you look them up in the British National Formulary you will see why I deny that they are “perfectly good”. I would add the details here, but there is the question of copyright (which might be awkward for Gimpy).

    Comment by Ohreally — January 28, 2008 @ 11:46 pm | Reply

  112. About the nettles, dock leaves and poison ivy (bit of a blunder that! Tom p does forget to do his homework). Dock (rumex) produces intense itching and it is frequently found growing in close proximity to nettles. Now why do you think it works? Could it be because it produces similar effects?

    Comment by Ohreally — January 28, 2008 @ 11:56 pm | Reply

  113. M Simpson: “We’re feeding trolls here, folks. There is No Point in asking these people anything because not only will you not get a straight answer but you’ll get an answer justified by a claim which actually completely contradicts the answer. At least GaleG admits she doesn’t know anything, but these two are just infantile.” When you yourself produce some straight answers, you will be less vulnerable to someone claiming that you have just described yourself. As it is, this is just hot air, and I find it pleasantly heart-warming even at a virtual distance.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 29, 2008 @ 12:01 am | Reply

  114. GaleG, if you’re reading the blog still, I hope you noticed the patronising way they have been describing you. They can’t help showing their true attitudes when they get distracted. Perhaps we can get in touch sometime. I’ll try and think of a method that does not involve telling these sharks who either of us is.

    Comment by Ohreally — January 29, 2008 @ 12:05 am | Reply

  115. Hi everyone,

    Not to worry- I have a very thick skin and a big heart.

    I am just feeling like I need to get out of the way while this is going on.

    I am having trouble seeing the sky though all the branches so to speak………

    So again, not to worry- I am good and happy!

    Comment by GaleG — January 29, 2008 @ 12:51 am | Reply

  116. Gimpy, I seriously think you should ban H4H and Ohreally now because they are just gainsaying anything and everything that we say, no matter how basic or obvious, and it’s making it very tedious searching through these threads for any actual discussion of the organon.

    I for one have no intention of feeding trolls who are basically just replying, “Yeah? Well so are you!” to everything.

    Comment by M Simpson — January 29, 2008 @ 7:21 am | Reply

  117. M Simpson, I agree. Ohreally and Homeopathy4health are now on moderation and any irrelevant posts will be deleted.

    But a link about nettle stings for Ohreally to read and think about (it’s aimed at primary children so should be easy to understand).

    Comment by gimpy — January 29, 2008 @ 8:18 am | Reply

  118. H4H @ comment 106 – the reason I proposed it is because it’s always worked for me and everyone I know who’s been stung by nettles in the past. If the homeopathy fails then you’ll have the tools to hand to cure you.
    It’s an ethical experiment design, but one that’s completely unblinded so of no real worth except it might make *you* think twice.

    Comment by tom p — January 29, 2008 @ 9:31 am | Reply

  119. ‘gainsaying’: talk modern English! You mean denying or challenging, what is wrong with that? It’s a debate.

    ‘not only will you not get a straight answer but you’ll get an answer justified by a claim which actually completely contradicts the answer’ what? rephrase please, too many ‘nots’.

    I am happy to be the point of contact between ohreally and GaleG you can both email me (see About Homeopathy4health page on my blog).

    In future comments such as those that have a line through will be deleted – gimpy

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 29, 2008 @ 9:36 am | Reply

  120. Ohreally, efficacy (antihypertensives work to reduce high blood pressure) and safety (antihypertensives have side effects) are two different things.
    Please try and learn the difference between two different things, otherwise it’s very difficult to discuss things with you.

    Oh, and your gold claim is a side-effect, if it really happened or if the homeopathic gold had any effect.
    If you don’t think that drug interactions are side-effects, then that would mean that real medicines are much safer than we thought and I can do a lot less work.

    Comment by tom p — January 29, 2008 @ 9:43 am | Reply

  121. H4H – gainsaying is only denying in the sense of “Yah boo sucks to you! It isn’t true, so ner!”
    If you doubt the veracity of something that people are saying when it’s really very basic things like statistics, why not find references to demolish their argument. You’re just behaving like ohreally now, when you were making much better comments before

    Comment by tom p — January 29, 2008 @ 9:48 am | Reply

  122. “True, but the relevance of the mean to any individual does not become any greater, and anything tailored to the mean is still not tailored to the majority of individuals.”

    Of course the mean of a large study is more relevant to me. For example, I don’t smoke (among other reasons) because large studies have shown that on average it reduces your lifespan (by giving you cancer). The means from that study have revealed an actual causal mechanism that is much more relevant to me than a dozen anecdotes from people down the pub about how their grandmother smoked 40 a day and live till she was 90.

    If you don’t use large numbers and you don’t have control groups (anecdotes have an sample size of 1 and no control group) then you can never get away from the problem of “well how do you know that wouldn’t have happened anyway (without the remedy)”. True the mean of a large sample may not tell you *exactly* what will happen in the case of a single patient, but it tells you what is *most likely* to happen in the *majority* of patients (contrary to your bizarre ramblings) and is a much better source of information than any number of anecdotes.

    Re. regression to the mean] “Perhaps you can explain how getting better and pneumonia both come under the definition?”

    Fool! Read Elennaro’s original comment again: “every time someone I know gets a cold… it will be cured between 1 and 5 days later, unless when it develops into something worse like for example pneumonia.”

    Note the word “UNLESS”! In the vast majority of cases people with colds recover i.e., they regress (head back toward) their mean state of “feeling ok”, UNLESS they develop something more severe (like pneumonia) which constitutes further deviation from the mean. So to be completely clear, getter better from a cold = regression to the mean; getting yet worse from a cold = further deviation from the mean (and thankfully quite rare).

    “‘H4H, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised trials are “experience”. They are simply a type of experience in which the environment is set up to avoid all the biases, misinterpretations and other foibles of’… people who call themselves skeptics, because you all demonstrate them very well here, no wonder medical science is in the state it’s in.”

    So, unlike scientists, homoeopaths have superhuman powers of perception and reasoning eh H4H? I’m sure that all of your patients will be glad to know that your entire system of healthcare is based on the assumption that you and all other practitioners (and certainly Hahnemann) are unerring, god-like figures who could never possibly be mistaken.

    Gimpy, I apologise. I don’t know why I’m bothering.

    Comment by flimflam_machine — January 29, 2008 @ 12:46 pm | Reply

  123. This comes from an email I received today:

    There is a big mix out there, and there’s lots of different things going on, and there is not one way that was intended to be the right way. Just like there’s not one color or one flower or one vegetable or one fingerprint. There is not one that is to be the right one over all others. The variety is what fosters the creativity. And so you say, “Okay, I accept that there’s lots of variety, but I don’t like to eat cucumbers.” Don’t eat cucumbers. But don’t ask them to be eliminated and don’t condemn those who eat them. Don’t stand on corners waving signs trying to outlaw the things that you don’t like. Don’t ruin your life by pushing against. Instead, say, “I choose this instead. This does please me.”

    Comment by GaleG — January 29, 2008 @ 1:39 pm | Reply

  124. I have had this message from Gimpy:

    ‘I will happily let any comments through directly relevant to the Organon section under discussion but unreferenced inaccurate assertions about science or personal abuse will be deleted’

    I have replied:

    ‘as long as unreferenced inaccurate assertions about homeopathy or personal abuse by other people are also deleted that will be fine, otherwise it’s hypocritical’

    I think you’ll be busy!

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 29, 2008 @ 1:55 pm | Reply

  125. That’s all very lovely, Gale, but to continue the analogy, how should we react to people who sell ‘cucumbers’ which on closer inspection turn out to be just pieces of wood painted green? If people are buying these cucumbers, perhaps even saying they’re very satisfied with them, should we just allow that to happen? Should we allow the sellers to publicly claim that cucumbers are best when they’re rock hard and can only be sliced with a hacksaw and that soft cucumbers are bad in some way?

    Do you see where I’m going with this?

    Comment by MJ Simpson — January 29, 2008 @ 1:59 pm | Reply

  126. flimflam: sorry to hold up the mirror again but it seems to me that science can never be mistaken on the subject of homeopathy.

    re ‘perception’:

    Hahnemann puts a lot of store in ‘perception’. It isn’t about measuring.

    para3: ‘if the physician clearly perceives what is to be cured in diseases…if he clearly perceives what is curative in medicine…

    para6: the unprejudiced observer, takes note of nothing in every individual disease except the changes in the health of the body and of the mind which can be perceived externally by means of the senses.

    This is why I am particularly attuned to people’s way of expressing themselves and how they think. It’s my job.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 29, 2008 @ 2:00 pm | Reply

  127. Yes, it is called the art of allowing. And who is the “we” in this question?

    Comment by GaleG — January 29, 2008 @ 2:02 pm | Reply

  128. The art of allowing is at the crux of this discussion. Those of us that love cucumbers want buy them, even if they are sour or hard to you.

    In exchange, you are allowed to eat eggplant, even if I abhore eggplant. Even if I habour a thought that it is too mushy, even unhealthy for you.

    Rather then even the idea of tolerance, which indicates that I am still judging you, but will reluctantly let you eat eggplant, allowing simply is allowing you your truth of loving to eat eggplant.

    We we all be the happier for it.

    Comment by GaleG — January 29, 2008 @ 2:34 pm | Reply

  129. So typically 70-80% of homeopathy users say they are quite happy with homeopathic treatment, allow them to be happy, and allow more people to be happy with it too. What’s the problem with that? They get better, which is what we want isn’t it? Or do we want to spend more and more on the NHS, clogging up the wards?

    http://www.trusthomeopathy.org/case/res_outcomesurveys.html

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 29, 2008 @ 2:42 pm | Reply

  130. H4H, of course “science” can be mistaken (reminder: “science” is a method, not the monolithic entity you are implying). Studies can be poorly designed, ineptly carried out and interpreted with terrible bias. But it is encouraged within the scientific community that studies are criticised for such shortcomings, and people’s failure to replicate the claimed results will come to light sooner or later.

    The point is that we very obviously are imperfect observers in terms of inferring patterns of cause and effect where none exist. Properly designed and conducted scientific trials counteract these problems through blinding, counterbalancing, placebo control groups, rigorous statistical testing etc. You make no attempt to compensate for these perceptual problems (which you do have, I assure you) so you either you don’t understand what they are (i.e., you’re quite dim), you think that you don’t have them (i.e., you’re delusional) or you do understand them and you know that you have them, but think that they don’t matter, even in the light of negative findings from the majority of scientific studies (i.e., you’re a fraudulent quack).

    Comment by flimflam_machine — January 29, 2008 @ 2:42 pm | Reply

  131. Gale,

    Many critics of homoeopathy are very interested in the fact that so many people feel that it works for them. Even though it is widely considered to be simply an application of the placebo effect, it is a *very* effective application of it (genuinely, it’s difficult to imagine how it could be better in that respect). There is a very interesting debate to be had about whether the application of placebo can have any place in a modern healthcare system which has moved more and more toward keeping the patient honestly and fully informed.

    The main frustration many have with homoeopathy is that the ethical problems inherent in it (due to the lack of conclusive scientific evidence) is largely ignored by the homoeopathic community, and that the adherence to outdated concepts (such as some of those in the organon) and the rejection of perfectly solid scientific findings represents a dangerous regression from the respect for reason and evidence that has brought us so many benefits in science, technology, healthcare etc. The mental contortions that many homoeopaths go through to justify their beliefs in the light of current knowledge is, quite simply, astounding.

    We don’t have a problem with people being healthy nor making their own choices on the basis of good information, we have more of a problem with wilful self-delusion and the exploitation of people for financial gain using methods that are unsound and unproven. That the practitioners of homoeopathy appear to be completely wrong (one could say delusional) about the efficacy of the methods that they employ makes the problem worse (although it prevents them, for the most part, from being called fundamentally dishonest).

    I strongly encourage you to read the section titled ” The dilemmas at the heart of ‘alternative medicine'” that is just down from the top of this page: http://dcscience.net/improbable.html if for no other reason than it is beautifully written and summarised. I hope this will at least give you an insight into the ethical problems faced if one comes to the conclusion from all the available information that homoeopathy is simply a placebo.

    Comment by flimflam_machine — January 29, 2008 @ 2:44 pm | Reply

  132. H4H, that study has been repeatedly exposed as little more than a large-scale anecdote and you know it:

    http://www.badscience.net/?p=189

    Gale, this is another problem that many people have with many homoeopaths. Apparently they feel no shame in repeating exactly the same claims from exactly the same sources when those claims and sources have been heavily criticised (no need to say that they don’t mention the criticism) or simply refuted. They can do this safe in the knowledge that there is a large, constantly refreshed audience to whom they can make these claims, and that it takes mere moments to make a ridiculous claim, but much longer to explain why it is ridiculous (as these boards illustrate).

    Comment by flimflam_machine — January 29, 2008 @ 2:57 pm | Reply

  133. I’m afraid I’m going to have to step in a insist that we keep the discussion to the Organon. M Simpson/GaleG, the analogies are getting out of hand. Lets stick to scientific evidence and Hahnemann’s writings and try an avoid using analogies to explain anything.

    Comment by gimpy — January 29, 2008 @ 3:03 pm | Reply

  134. I still have the question: why does it matter to you? I suggest that you would be happier just allowing. You are pushing and pushing against…. Why not I allow you and you allow me. Indulge me with this further quote:

    “Forever, physical humans are saying, “give me the truth, give me the truth.” And we say, there are all kinds of truths. Choose the truths that serve you. Now, there are a lot of people that would feel great discomfort with that. But the thing that we want you to hear about it is: there is a truth of cancer, and there is a truth of wellness. Which truth serves you? You can activate either of them within you, and make it your truth. Truths are created; they aren’t static. They aren’t conditions that exist that then it is your obligation to identify and catalog. You are the creator of your truths–and what you are living is your truth.”

    I see a place for “modern medicine” for those that want it, homeopathy for those that want it, meditation for those that want it etc. etc. There is not just one right way for everyone. We are all ultimately a vibration, and will attract by the law of attraction that which matches our unique vibration.

    Comment by GaleG — January 29, 2008 @ 3:09 pm | Reply

  135. Gale,

    I appreciate that you feel that we a needless and selfishly trying to impose one “truth” to oust another “truth” that you feel is equally valid. However, (to paraphrase Indiana Jones):
    “[This] is the search for fact… not truth. If it’s truth you’re looking for, Dr. Tyree’s philosophy class is right down the hall.”

    To further quote Richard Feynman

    “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.”

    In other words Gale, you and others may see the writings as Hahnemann as some permanently immutable “truth”, but there is a incommensurable problem that this apparent “truth” contradicts facts that we have become aware of through the application of the scientific method. Unlike your “truths” some facts are mutually incompatible, they cannot both be correct i.e., either homoeopathy is more than just a placebo, or it is not; either homoeopathy can cure flu or it cannot. When people make claims of fact or truth that are in contradiction to the carefully made observations of the real world from scientific studies, it is apparent to most people that you are (at best) simply wrong or (at worst) being wilfully dishonest. When these errors/dishonesties are used to promote a form of healthcare (and for financial gain), some people feel that they have to step in to prevent such fallacies having an impact on the lives of others. Relativism has no place when it comes to working out what objectively “is” and “isn’t”.

    However, from your various comments such as “We are all ultimately a vibration” I suspect that you are starting from quite a long way back in terms of respect for the facts so I won’t pursue this type of explanation much longer.

    Comment by flimflam_machine — January 29, 2008 @ 3:48 pm | Reply

  136. Gale, you said “We are all ultimately a vibration, and will attract by the law of attraction that which matches our unique vibration.”

    Which “law of attraction” are you referring to?

    Comment by tom p — January 29, 2008 @ 4:23 pm | Reply

  137. I am referring to what is called the Universal Law of Attraction: that you draw to you the essence of whatever you are predominately thinking about. This has been written about by many teachers over the years.

    Let’s see if this helps:

    ” In the creation of everything that exists, thought always comes first. Everything that you see around you was once a thought or an idea- a vibrational concept that matured into what you call physical reality.

    If you feel unappreciated because of circumstances that have recently occurred in you experience, the Law of Attraction cannot now surround you with people who appreciate you.

    Whatever is happening to you is the perfect vibrational match to the current vibration of your Being.”

    Once aware of this powerful law, many people make a conscious decision to be more in control of their own thoughts. Not every random thought will manifest just those that are held over and over again with emotion.

    What is suggested is the conscious, gentle guiding of your thoughts in the general direction of the things that you desire.

    Gimpy, I know this is off-topic from the Organon, but the amount of high energy here is obvious. What I am hearing is people’s desire to be understood, and behind that I get a sense of wanting peace. Perhaps this can help.

    Comment by GaleG — January 29, 2008 @ 4:43 pm | Reply

  138. tom p, flimflam_machine, stop teasing GaleG, it’s cruel.

    GaleG, perhaps you should restrict your comments to the Organon rather than this unprovable cod-mystical stuff.

    Comment by gimpy — January 29, 2008 @ 4:49 pm | Reply

  139. Hmmm.

    Is there someplace else to take this discussion?
    I agree its not rleveant to the Organon, but it is interesting.

    Comment by bill — January 29, 2008 @ 5:04 pm | Reply

  140. Gimpy, I respect your wish to continue on with the Organon here, but for those who are interested you can go to http://www.abraham-hicks.com for more information on these concepts.

    Comment by GaleG — January 29, 2008 @ 5:13 pm | Reply

  141. GaleG, it would be really helpful when you quote someone if you could at least indicate who you’re quoting.

    One of your quotes includes the phrase “Truths are created; they aren’t static.” and that’s very relevant here. The ‘truth’ is what we currently know to be real, our shared understanding of the universe and all the wonders in it, and the great thing about science is that it constantly refines and changes that truth, adding a bit here, amending a bit there, debating a fuzzy bit over there. So this is completely true: truths aren’t static. That is why the ‘truths’ about how diseases are caused and how they can be cured which were widely accepted in the late 18th century are not the same truths that we have today.

    Homeopathy’s biggest problem is not that it claims to be true but precisely that it IS static. It was created by Hahnemann 220 or so years ago and it has not significantly changed since then. Homeopaths still hold the ‘truths’ written in the Organon to be valid.

    Contemporary books about any other aspect of the world – nature, mathematics, geography, whatever – have all been superceded and retain only historical value as a window to the past, a chance to compare our current truths with those of our ancestors. It is only homeopathy which persists in adhering to this static ‘truth’. Basing a system of 21st century medicine on the Organon is about as valid as basing 21st century geography on a map of the flat Earth.

    And all this stuff about vibrations that you’re now quoting – that’s mysticism, not reality. Human beings no more have ‘vibrations’ than they have fairies at the bottoms of their gardens, I’m afraid.

    Comment by M Simpson — January 29, 2008 @ 6:48 pm | Reply

  142. ‘we very obviously are imperfect observers in terms of inferring patterns of cause and effect where none exist’ evidence for this concept please? It’s a belief in society that I hear day in day out: ‘I don’t know why this has happened/no-one knows why this is’ when it can be glaringly obvious. Science has gone too far with its doubting approach and it has become endemic to society at large, everyone’s got blinkers on.

    Thank you GaleG for the higher view on things. I do wonder what is it about me that is attracting the need to stand here with ohreally fighting the corner for homeopathy against the mockers, but I have a habit of not putting up with things that are wrong. A lot of my homeopathy colleagues have disdain for fighting that’s why they’re not here. But it’s human and holistic to fight when necessary.

    End of personal reflection.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 29, 2008 @ 6:57 pm | Reply

  143. Just to re-assure you that I am not a “nut-case”, I run a successful business, marriage, four kids, live in a lovely spot in the world, and have learned how to “create” my life by directing my thoughts towards those things I desire. I travel extensively, am healthy, and have been studying and applying these concepts over the last twenty or so years. I am firmly interacting in the world, yet work successfully with these teachings that may seem esoteric- called “deliberate creation.”
    .
    Not sure how one would design a study, however!

    Comment by GaleG — January 29, 2008 @ 7:00 pm | Reply

  144. Dear M-

    Have you never had a feeling about someone- something creepy about them, or something lovely come from them? Have you never entered a room and felt that “something is wrong” or “it feels heavy in here”- those are vibrations you are picking up. We are continually receiving vibrations- even what you see as light waves and hear as sound waves are vibrations.

    Comment by GaleG — January 29, 2008 @ 7:13 pm | Reply

  145. H4H “‘we very obviously are imperfect observers in terms of inferring patterns of cause and effect where none exist’ evidence for this concept please? It’s a belief in society that I hear day in day out: ‘I don’t know why this has happened/no-one knows why this is’ when it can be glaringly obvious. Science has gone too far with its doubting approach and it has become endemic to society at large, everyone’s got blinkers on.”

    Wrong way round, the problem is not that we thin we don’t know what’s going on, but that we *do* think we know what’s going on from our own personal uncontrolled observations.

    Take a look here for examples of what I mean: http://muller.lbl.gov/teaching/Physics10/old%20physics%2010/chapters%20(old)/4-Randomness.htm

    The point is that even in a system which is completely random and has no order (and this fact is determined mathematically) we still “see” “patterns” that do not actually exist i.e., we postulate a causal force, such a “luck”, for the clumps and streaks that occur in random patterns. In other words we can show that people tend to perceive a cause-and-effect relationship even where none exists. To apply the analogy, you perceive a cause-and-effect relationship between application of remedy and recovery from a malady when actually there is none. If there was such a relationship, it would show up in properly controlled trials. But it doesn’t, which strongly suggests that the apparent effects in “positive” trials are due to other polluting factors (bias, insufficient blinding, group differences etc.).

    Comment by flimflam_machine — January 29, 2008 @ 7:34 pm | Reply

  146. Dear H4H:

    Apologies to Gimpy.

    What we fight against is where we are putting our attention, thereby attracting more to fight against.

    What the teachings say is that the contrast, knowing what we don’t want, is there to show us what we DO want. A desire, like, more understanding around wellness, homeopathy, each other.

    So our desire is increased and that is what we can now focus thoughts – more understanding, more peace, more wellness, and then we let the allowing happen. One suggestion is to meditate 15 minutes a day, just relaxing into your breathing, and allow the Law of Attraction bring to you more understanding, peace and wellness.

    A suggestion to us all.

    Comment by GaleG — January 29, 2008 @ 7:52 pm | Reply

  147. Staying off topic (so Gimpy please feel free to delete this if you like), Gale do you not get at all suspicious when you see a site that purports to discuss a way people can improve their lives, yet the whole homepage of the website consists of various ways you can give them money?

    Comment by John R — January 29, 2008 @ 8:42 pm | Reply

  148. Sorry I’ve had this page open since earlier this evening and only just read it. My last post was relating to that abraham hicks website Gale linked to.

    Comment by John R — January 29, 2008 @ 8:48 pm | Reply

  149. Thanks GaleG. I did *have* to meditate when starting to blog (to clear my head of anger), but I had forgotten about doing it.

    flimflam: nice statistics but does smack of the argument: life is random, look statistics are random even when they don’t look random. Is health really random too, do things *just* happen out of nowhere, it’s just bad luck?

    [Hahnemann says not, a large part of our ill-health is due to inherited factors which he calls ‘miasm’ and means ‘taint’ which have not been totally cured by our ancestors and generation after generation gets weaker and weaker as we pile on more ‘injurious influences’ (nowadays: overwork, stress, drugs, alcohol, radiation). I know someone will say we’re all living longer but many with chronic health conditions and therefore not in full health. Later in the organon he will say that the mind will suffer when ailments are suppressed, how many people and now children are developing behaviour disorders]

    How about chaos theory where clustering does occur and in a meaningful way?

    [This brings me back round to Benveniste and his results at particular dilutions but hey we won’t go back there, it’s been discussed here: http://homeopathy4health.wordpress.com/2007/12/20/homeopathic-dilutions-and-plant-growth-there-is-an-effect-and-no-placebo/%5D

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 29, 2008 @ 8:50 pm | Reply

  150. “Dear M-

    Have you never had a feeling about someone- something creepy about them, or something lovely come from them? Have you never entered a room and felt that “something is wrong” or “it feels heavy in here”- those are vibrations you are picking up. We are continually receiving vibrations- even what you see as light waves and hear as sound waves are vibrations.”

    Gale,

    Sound waves are indeed vibrations. The air around us gets alternately compressed and expanded, like ripples in a pond. Our ear drums can detect these vibrations, as can many devices. Really, really low frequency sounds can actually be physically felt by our bodies, as anyone who has stood too near the speakers at a rock concert knows.

    Light waves are oscillations and I think it’s perfectly acceptable to consider them as vibrations (they can also be considered as particles of course). Everything on the electromagnetic spectrum – radio, microwaves etc – is like that. The important point is that lightwaves and soundwaves can be detected. They can be observed, measured, compared, predicted. It’s not just a case of someone saying “sound is a vibration” and everyone accepting that. Whoever first proposed that light or sound is a vibration/wave then set out to prove that this hypothesis was correct – and eventually it was proven and is now widely accepted.

    The other sort of ‘vibrations’ you’re talking about are not vibrations in this sense, they’re just feelings, ideas, inside your mind. They can’t be detected or measured or observed or compared or predicted. You may feel something when you enter a room – but that’s just you, it’s not the room. There’s nothing there that can be actually detected by any sort of device or even by other people. It’s just a feeling. We all have feelings. Sometimes they’re caused by something external that is too small for us to acknowledge but which does exist and can be detected – for example a small temperature difference between two rooms – and sometimes they’re purely psychological.

    If somebody could actually detect, in any way, these ‘vibrations’ then they would be a fascinating area for study but nobody ever has. There’s a lot of mumbo-jumbo talked about ‘vibrations’ but that’s all it is – mumbo-jumbo – which has the unforunate effect of making people think that these ‘vibes’ are in some way similar to genuine vibrations such as sound waves. But they’re not.

    This is a very common thing with the ‘alternative’ crowd: picking up genuine scientific terms and using them inappropriately. We see it all the time in homeopathy with people using words like ‘quantum’ or ‘nanoparticle’ which sound impressive but don’t – in the context in which they’re used – mean anything.

    So yes, I’ve felt something odd about a room or a person – we all have. But what I felt was not vibrations.

    Comment by M Simpson — January 29, 2008 @ 8:52 pm | Reply

  151. What if there was something there, some of us can detect it, others can’t.

    This could be the fundamental difference between homeopathy/alternative thought and scientific/orthodox thought and a split in the population generally.

    Personally, 20 years ago I remember asking a doctor about not taking anything without any proof. I was totally with you guys. You lost me. It’s too narrow a world, too much waiting for ‘the answer’.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 29, 2008 @ 9:11 pm | Reply

  152. Dear M-

    Thank you for your thoughtful post.

    What is it that animates us, and leaves us when we die. It is certainly something we cannot measure. However, a dead body is very different that one that is alive.

    I agree, vibration is not the correct word for what we feel with our emotions. But I do not know what else to use….good vibes and all that! Do you have a suggestion?

    Comment by GaleG — January 29, 2008 @ 9:34 pm | Reply

  153. Dear John,
    I charge nothing for a synthesis of the A-H teachings!

    Comment by GaleG — January 29, 2008 @ 9:45 pm | Reply

  154. Gale, there’s nothing wrong with things we can’t measure. Who can measure love or hate or hope or despair? You don’t need to be able to quantify something to acknowledge that it exists.

    What makes pseudoscience such as homeopathy (and many other forms of alternative medicine) particularly insidious is that the practitioners – who generally charge a fee for their services – claim that they CAN measure these things. It is impossible to detect, for example, an aura or qi, yet many practitioners of alternative medicine will happily take your money to affect your aura or qi in some way. But the only way that you can determine that something has changed is by measuring some aspect of it.

    If people want to believe in something ineffable, intangible, undetectable, unmeasurable, that’s fine and dandy. We call that belief faith and the expression of that belief is religion. I’ve never had any problem with religion. It’s a greater thing than science and does not deny science or the myriad scientific wonders of the world around us. But when people claim that they can detect and measure these unmeasurable things in a scientific way – that’s pseudoscience, charlatanism, deceit, fraud. In simple terms: lying.

    Homeopaths claim, among many other unbelievable things, to be able to measure the immeasurable, to be able to determine what remedy to use for an individual patient in what dilution and then to be able to differentiate the ‘effects’ of that remedy from the person’s normal medical development. And then to be able to apply these observations to other individuals. If there is something there which can be detected or measured, then it should be possible to demonstrate its existence to other people – and this is something homeopaths cannot do. Their entire profession is based on faith and yet they deny that it is a religion and claim it is a science. But as we have seen extensively on this blog, homeopaths are Humpty Dumpties for whom a word means precisely whatever they want it to mean.

    Your ‘vibes’ that you feel, frankly you can call them anything. It doesn’t matter what you call them because they’re not actually there. There are no vibes in that room, no vibes about that person, it’s just your perception. Nothing wrong with an individual perception of something, what is wrong is when pseudoscience claims that this personal perception is something actual which can be detected and measured, then simply refuses to detect or measure it in any open and honest way while hotly denying claims that it can’t be measured.

    It all boils down to honesty. Homeopaths are not honest people, they just tell their (paying) patients whatever they want to hear.

    As for what animates a living body but is absent in a dead body – no-one knows. Perhaps it’s a soul. You can’t detect a soul. But what it’s not is ‘energy’ as many CAM practitioners claim They invariably claim that they can affect a person’s ‘energy’ in some way and that could only be true if they could detect a change in it and that would only be true if they could measure it. Which they can’t. But they’ll never admit this because (a) it’s not what their (paying) patients want to hear, and (b) they’re not honest people. They’re liars.

    Comment by M Simpson — January 29, 2008 @ 10:10 pm | Reply

  155. ‘homeopaths are Humpty Dumpties for whom a word means precisely whatever they want it to mean’
    ‘they’re not honest people. They’re liars.’

    *objection*

    Can I start on the ‘scientists are [defamatory comment]’ now?

    No, it is a literary reference to Alice in Wonderland which makes sense in the context of the discussion and is used to illustrate the point that homeopaths change the definitions of words that are strictly defined in science. – gimpy

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 29, 2008 @ 10:36 pm | Reply

  156. It seems that what can be evaluated by a homeopath is whether the person says they feel better, or lab/medical tests that show an improvement of some value. What can’t be measured is what the person took….
    Is that right?

    Comment by GaleG — January 29, 2008 @ 10:41 pm | Reply

  157. measuring: it comes down to perception again.

    Remember we go on outward signs and symptoms. We measure intensity and frequency of these signs and symptoms. Signs and symptoms can also involve feelings speech and behaviour.

    In the first consultation a patient may show many indications of e.g. speaking illogically, speaking dogmatically. We’d note how often it happened. At the follow up appointment we’d also notice how often and how strongly it happened. Improvement in this case would be more logical speech, less dogmatic expression, more openmindedness. In the case of a person who was very timid in expression sign of improvement would be increased confidence in dealing with other people. These do not require a machine to measure.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 29, 2008 @ 11:04 pm | Reply

  158. What if there was something there, some of us can detect it, others can’t.

    Then that would appear in a trial with large enough groups.

    Comment by Andrew Taylor — January 29, 2008 @ 11:05 pm | Reply

  159. ok andrew what would such a trial do?

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 29, 2008 @ 11:24 pm | Reply

  160. We can all tell whether a person SAYS they feel better (that was the basis of that meaningless Bristol ‘trial’ that is often quoted) and they may THINK they feel better, but people can easily deceive themselves. That’s the very basis of the placebo effect.

    There are many unmeasurable medical conditions where there is nothing that can actually be measured and frankly all that matters is the patient’s opinion. If someone says their migraine has cleared up – unless they’re having a brain scan at the time, we’ve got to take their word for it and all well and good. But if someone is going to claim that a contributing factor to the migraine clearing up was the patient taking a lactose tablet which had a drop of water evaporated from it which was previously in contact with some other water which was previously in contact with a particular substance which, when previously diluted, caused the water it was diluted in to transmit to some other water and thence to a lactose pill something which caused whoever took that pill to have a headache… well, that’s a whole lot of unsubstantiated claims, none of which can be fitted anywhere into our current understanding of how the world works.

    Maybe it’s true – but maybe the migraine would have cleared up anyway, just because the person was given a tablet and told by someone they trust that it would cure their migraine (we KNOW that this is possible – we’ve tested it repeatedly). The only way to know for certain what is happening here is to do a comparison, a trial, and you can’t just do it on one person because everyone’s different and migraines last for different amounts of time. But if you measure the average time for a migraine to clear across lots of people – they all take a tablet and start a stopwatch when the migraine kicks in and then stop the watch when it’s cleared up, and neither they nor you know (until afterwards) which patients had an ordinary lactose tablet and which had one that had been through the whole dilution rigmarole – now you can quantify the effects of the two different types of tablet and make a direct and meaningful comparison.

    And every time this is done – Every Time – there’s no difference between the average recovery times of the two groups. We certainly CAN measure what the person took: they took a lactose tablet. A plain, simple lump of sugar that does absolutely nothing, just like plain simple lumps of sugar have always done.

    Homeopaths claim that there is a clear and distinct difference between the two groups but they cannot back their claims up with anything. It’s all bluster, it’s spin. It’s lies. They lie to themselves and they lie to their (paying) patients because their (paying) patients trust them. Homeopathy, like most alternative medicine, depends on the (paying) patient simply accepting what they’re told without challenging it in any way.

    If people want to believe a lie – and we’ve all done this in some situation or other, we’re all easily fooled by convincing liars and those who believe their own lies are usually the most convincing of all – then we will distort our own perception to try to match that lie. That’s why the placebo effect works on animals: if you tell a farmer that the pill you’ve given his horse will cure it and he believes you, it’s very easy for him to think that the animal seems a little friskier, a little less lethargic – even when there’s no actual difference. (And this can then affect how he treats the animal – warm and positive instead of despairing and negative, leading to its gradual recovery.)

    So you may THINK you feel better when your homeopath gives you that little pill and tells you it was manufactured using a special. process and some particular substance which is appropriate for your condition, you may even genuinely feel better, but everything that we know from careful, objective, unbiased study of the situation indicates that the process is unnecessary and the starting substance is irrelevant. You would feel better even if your homeopath gave you a plain sugar pill. Which, quite possibly she is doing.

    So basically, you’re paying someone to lie to you and there’s a lot of unscrupulous people out there who will happily lie for money. Gale, we’re on your side. We’re trying to stop you – and people like you – from being defrauded. That’s why people like me object so strongly to homeopathy and homeopaths.

    Comment by M Simpson — January 29, 2008 @ 11:24 pm | Reply

  161. Is it lying or self delusion?

    Comment by Bill — January 29, 2008 @ 11:48 pm | Reply

  162. All very persuasive, are you a psychiatrist?

    I’m interested to see how much contortion is required to explain away how homeopathy works for animals.

    And you forget that a lot of people who go to homeopaths have tried everything else including doctors placebos I expect, and then get better.

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 29, 2008 @ 11:51 pm | Reply

  163. re migraines: homeopaths treat acutely to deal with the individual migraine (so that it goes away at the time) and then treat constitutionally to reduce the susceptibility to migraines (so that they don’t return, ever).

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 30, 2008 @ 12:44 am | Reply

  164. Dear M,

    I appreciate your desire to save my money. I appreciate your passion. I appreciate the time your take to express your point of view. I have realized that it is not important whether I agree or not…….for all I have to go on is my experience and point of view which is un-scientific.

    M Simpson:”If people want to believe in something ineffable, intangible, undetectable, unmeasurable, that’s fine and dandy. We call that belief faith and the expression of that belief is religion. I’ve never had any problem with religion. It’s a greater thing than science and does not deny science or the myriad scientific wonders of the world around us.”

    Certainly in the last few years, this has been my interest and has kept me well and happy.

    Comment by GaleG — January 30, 2008 @ 12:58 am | Reply

  165. It is “The Secret” stuff, or if you believe enough it will work. There is an equivalent in architecture:
    http://www.ibras.dk/montypython/episode35.htm#6


    Architect Of course they’re safe. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. They are as strong, solid and as safe as any other building method in this country provided of course people believe in them.
    Cut to a council flat. On the wall there is a picture of Mystico.
    Tenant Yes, we received a note from the Council saying that if we ceased to believe in this building it would fall down.

    Comment by hcn57 — January 30, 2008 @ 1:03 am | Reply

  166. H4H @ 162: Did you actually read M Simpson’s comment? If so, did you actually read the 6th paragraph? In it M explains precisely how the placebo effect works for the observers of animal behaviour and thus how homeopathy appears to work for animals.
    Real doctors don’t give placebos any more. The days when they’d write a prescription for ‘Aqua verde’ and the chemist would give them some green water are long gone. If they think a patient needs a placebo, they refer them to a homeopathic hospital.

    In 163 you wrote “homeopaths treat acutely to deal with the individual migraine (so that it goes away at the time) and then treat constitutionally to reduce the susceptibility to migraines (so that they don’t return, ever).”

    What is your evidence that your treatment of the acute migraine is effective? Migraines go away anyway, so how can you prove that it was the homeopathy and not just natural improvement in this self-limiting condition? When I say evidence, I don’t mean “well, I treat my patients and they get better”, I mean something that genuinely compares a similar group of patients some of whom have received homeopathy and some of whom haven’t.
    What is your evidence that the migraines don’t return, ever? By evidence, I don’t mean “well, I treat patients for the long-term migraine problem and they don’t come back, so they must be cured”. It’s as likely (if not more so) in such a situation that the patient would have another migraine, saw that the supposed cure didn’t work and thus give up on homeopathy. I mean an actual study that took at least 2 groups of migraine sufferers and gave one group homeopathy and the other placebo and looks at how long they go between migraines compared to how long they used to go between migraine (frankly even evidence of a limited improvement would still be great news for homeopathy because it would be evidence of some effect).

    Both of these are what trials on real medicine do (except that the real medicine trials are far more in-depth, of course). We don’t just accept the pharmaceutical companies’ word for that their medicine works and then give them tens of millions of pounds a year; they have to spend 12-15 years and about £250 million on proving the efficacy of each and every drug.

    Comment by tom p — January 30, 2008 @ 10:56 am | Reply

  167. tom p: Real doctors don’t give placebos any more. Not what I’ve heard. I saw a post by a doctor (PalMD?) giving routine placebo saline shots on wordpress only a few days ago. Funny though it’s not there now, you lot probably asked him to remove it.

    If they think a patient needs a placebo, they refer them to a homeopathic hospital. More contortion logic and not true so I can’t take the rest of what you say seriously.

    That’s an insult H4H, you’ve not explained why it is contorted logic nor why a weakness in one strand of argument should make everything else unbelievable – gimpy

    Comment by homeopathy4health — January 30, 2008 @ 11:05 am | Reply

  168. ok andrew what would such a trial do?

    Say those “who can detect it” are 10% of the population. Run a trial with groups of 1000 people on each side and you would expect roughly 100 to respond. As long as the effect is large enough to show up over the noise from the other 900 you should get a positive result with an NNT value of 10. Otherwise, a larger group would be needed to show the effect.

    Of course, if you meant that homeopathy makes everyone healthier but only some people can recognise this health in others, then (a) you could do a trial with 1000 examiners – and this kind of thing is done, and (b) you’re living in a fantasy land.

    Comment by Andrew — January 30, 2008 @ 11:13 am | Reply

  169. Doctors often prescribe placebos: study
    Last Updated: Monday, January 14, 2008 | 12:12 PM ET
    CBC News

    A significant number of doctors in the United States prescribe placebos to their patients, a new study suggests.

    A study of 200 doctors in the Chicago area found that nearly half had, at some point, written prescriptions for interventions they did not expect would have a physical effect.

    The findings are reported in the January issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

    Rachel Sherman, a medical student at the University of Chicago, sent questionnaires to 466 internists at three Chicago-area academic medical centres. About half of them responded.

    And 45 per cent of those who filled out the forms said they had prescribed a placebo at some time. Of those:

    * 34 per cent said they presented a placebo as “a substance that may help and will not hurt.”
    * 19 per cent told their patients “it is medication.”
    * Nine per cent said “it is medicine with no specific effect.”

    Only four per cent of doctors admitted to their patients that they had prescribed a placebo.
    Continue Article

    About 12 per cent of the doctors surveyed said they felt the prescription of placebos should be prohibited.

    Placebo means “to please somebody” in Latin, Dr. Peter Lin, a Toronto-based general practitioner told CBC’s Metro Morning on Monday.

    “If I give you a pill and I say that you’re going to get better, people get better,” he said.

    Lin says that previous studies involving placebos have shown that when patients were given what they thought were painkillers — but instead were given placebos — their brains produced endorphins, natural painkillers, which essentially produced the same physical effects as the drugs.

    “It’s not an imagined improvement,” says Lin. “It’s an actual improvement. There is a huge mind-body connection that we need to explore.”

    Lin said the only caveat is that doctors need to prescribe placebos in an ethical manner. He says physicians who are just trying to get rid of patients who repeatedly ask them for some form of medication by prescribing placebos are doing them a disservice.

    However, he says, if the doctor has checked out a patient and found them healthy but still seeking a treatment they don’t require, placebos can meet that need.

    “If we can get patients to feel better, that’s good,” Lin says.

    Comment by GaleG — January 30, 2008 @ 12:12 pm | Reply

  170. Here is the link for the above story:

    http://www.cbc.ca/story/health/national/2008/01/14/placebo-study.html

    Another link about placebo and medicine:

    http://www.cbc.ca/quirks/archives/03-04/mar06.html

    Dr. Helen Mayberg, a professor of psychiatry at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, is looking at placebo and depression. She found that the brain’s response to a placebo matches the treatment. Change the treatment and you’ll change the way placebo is working.

    Dr. Jon Stoessl, from the University of British Columbia, has found similar results. When he looked at patients with Parkinson’s disease, he saw increased brain activity in placebo receivers. That increased activity was as strong as the activity in patients injected with real drugs. This shows that placebo is causing physiological as well as psychological changes in the body.

    Placebos can be a real problem in clinical trials. Dr. Howard Brody, from Michigan State University, can cite examples of trials where drug effects were completely masked by the placebo. But he also knows ways for doctors to take advantage of the placebo effect when treating patients.

    Not everything about placebo is positive. Dr. Arthur Barsky, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, is looking at the side effects that placebo can generate. He says they may be the source of some of the side effects we commonly see listed on the drugs on the pharmacy shelf, and they can confound clinical trial results.

    Comment by GaleG — January 30, 2008 @ 12:21 pm | Reply

  171. My impression is that doctors are getting frustrated with much of medicine- they are seeing patients with conditions that they cannot help, and so are turning to placebo. (see above stories). It seems that is some cases, the placebo is causing the person to heal themselves, so to speak!

    Homeopaths very often are the recipients of these patients who have gone from MD to MD looking for help for their suffering.

    I know that many of you posting here are passionate about our saving time and money, but you really do not have to fear for us. My money has been well spent as I am very happy with the treatment I received from my homeopath, whether or not you can prove that the remedy I received has any “active” ingredient that you can quantify.

    Comment by GaleG — January 30, 2008 @ 12:29 pm | Reply

  172. And in case you missed this story….

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080130/ap_on_he_me/cold_medicines_8

    ATLANTA – Cough and cold medicines send about 7,000 children to hospital emergency rooms each year, the U.S. government said Monday in its first national estimate of the problem.

    About two-thirds of the cases were children who took the medicines unsupervised. However, about one-quarter involved cases in which parents gave the proper dosage and an allergic reaction or some other problem developed, the study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

    The study included both over-the-counter and prescription medicines. It comes less than two weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned parents that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines are too dangerous for children younger than 2.

    Comment by GaleG — January 30, 2008 @ 12:39 pm | Reply

  173. Gale, fine! Good! Placebos are very interesting and, as I said, there’s an important ethical and practical discussion about if and how they should fit into everyday medicine. Again, read this for a nice exposition of the ethical dilemma: http://dcscience.net/improbable.html

    The problem is that it’s incredibly difficult to have this discussion with homoeopaths if they keep insisting that, in spite of loads of evidence to the contrary, homoeopathy is more than just a placebo. The situation is made worse if they reject modern scientific findings and dogmatically insist on the truth of a text that was written about 200 years ago. Homoeopathy does many things right (long consultations etc.) it is a very good placebo, it would be great to integrate some of these positives, but it’s difficult to do that at present because of the aforementioned disparities between the homoeopathic and scientific approaches to evidence.

    Comment by flimflam_machine — January 30, 2008 @ 12:45 pm | Reply

  174. I should clarify that I was speaking about he UK, where I live. I should have specified this, but i didn’t, so my statement was incorrect.

    The US doesn’t have an NHS like the UK and so doctors routinely over-prescribe in order to get their patients to feel happy and thus to stay with them. I’m not surprised to find that they are giving placebos (placeboes?), that’s what introducing payment into the equation does for you, it distorts the focus from what should be health towards profit.
    It’s a similar situation in France (the over-prescribing and the profit, I don’t know about hte placebos)

    Gale – the stories you quote are very interesting and are indicative of the problem that homeopathy has – the placebo effect is real and it completely accounts for homeopathy’s ‘effectiveness’.

    H4H – you worte “I saw a post by a doctor (PalMD?) giving routine placebo saline shots on wordpress only a few days ago. Funny though it’s not there now, you lot probably asked him to remove it.”
    What? Talk about mindless conjecture and conspiracy theories!

    Comment by tom p — January 30, 2008 @ 1:02 pm | Reply

  175. Gale – re: the story in #172. ‘Only’ a quarter of the cases (1,600) involved the correct dosage, and most of those reaction were hives and itching – unpleasant but not serious and easily treated with antihistamines.
    That the CDC have changed the receommendations to say that no child under 2 should betreated with these medicines is an example of how rigorous real medicine is in responding to safety concerns and attempting to alleviate them. We look at the safety of every medicine constantly, which (along with actually curing anything) is another thing that homeopathy doesn’t do.

    Comment by tom p — January 30, 2008 @ 1:07 pm | Reply

  176. Hi Tom,

    Dr. Lin, the GP in the story, is Canadian. Canadians have a national health plan, like the UK, called Medicare. The study was done in the US, however, Dr. Lin seems to suggest that he has experience in using placebo.

    Placebo must certainly come into play in homeopathy at some level, and for some people, as it seems to do in all of medicine, but I do not agree that it “completely accounts for homeopathy’s effectiveness.” I am glad to see you at least are open to the fact the homeopathy is effective, but statistically, though I am no statistician, I find it hard to imagine that it accounts for ALL OF ITS EFFECTIVENESS.

    Reasonable doubt……….at least be open,as am I, that there may be something more than meets the eye.

    As MSimpson so eloquently said: …”there’s nothing wrong with things we can’t measure. Who can measure love or hate or hope or despair? You don’t need to be able to quantify something to acknowledge that it exists.”

    Comment by GaleG — January 30, 2008 @ 1:16 pm | Reply

  177. Tom, I agree that it is a good thing that toxic medications are well supervised by the authorities! What is concerning to me is that so many kids are taking these toxic drugs for the simple, common cold……

    Comment by GaleG — January 30, 2008 @ 1:45 pm | Reply

  178. This letter was recently sent by Dr. Leckbridge to The Sunday Times in Scotland in response to an article:

    run:http://heroesnotzombies.wordpress.com/2008/01/30/response-to-another-attack-on-homeopathy/

    Dear Madam

    £250,000 spent last year by the Scottish NHS for “alternative” drugs? What an outrageously small amount! In the same year the Scottish NHS drugs footed a £1 billion pound bill to the drug companies for prescribed medicines. Yet, 90% of all drugs only work in 30 – 50% of the people who take them. Deaths from homeopathic medicines in the whole of the UK in 2006? Nil. Deaths from prescribed drugs? 1013 reported (over 10,000 estimated). Cost of Adverse Drug Reactions to homeopathic medicines? Nil. And to prescribed drugs? About £500 million a year.
    Let’s be clear. Human beings are not machines. What works for one person may not work for the next. Health care needs to be diverse. We need more research into non-drug, non-surgical treatment options and we need to make more available on the NHS inexpensive, safer treatments, such as homeopathy which two out of three patients report is of benefit to them. And while we are at it, Joan McAlpine, let’s stop the arrogance of dismissing the relief of human suffering as “sick fantasy”. If someone says their pain has gone, it has. Prove it hasn’t! If someone says their depression has lifted, it has. It’s time to start putting patients first. At Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital we are, like all good doctors everywhere, successful because we listen to patients and believe what they tell us. We could do with more of that on the NHS.

    yours faithfully

    Dr R W Leckridge

    Comment by GaleG — January 30, 2008 @ 1:53 pm | Reply

  179. It is true that homeopathic remedies are safer than conventional drugs, but this is because they are just water and have no effect at all, harmful or otherwise.

    The definition of a drug is a chemical that has an effect on the body beyond its nutritional content, so homeopathy is either a type of drug or it is a placebo. Aside from not apparently knowing that, Dr Leckridge fails to understand any of the problems (which we’ve been discussing) with anecdotal evidence. He even says “two out of three patients report [homeopathy] is of benefit to them” without any reference to the placebo effect. That’s not evidence.

    The fact that someone who claims to be a doctor shares them is not enough to make your delusions true.

    Comment by Andrew — January 30, 2008 @ 2:21 pm | Reply

  180. Andrew, I posted that link on Dr Leckridge’s blog just half an hour ago, it has not been approved yet. GaleG I really recommend you read it.

    Comment by gimpy — January 30, 2008 @ 2:27 pm | Reply

  181. Gale – re: 177, I agree. This is probably a case of worried parents trying to do something, anything, to make their kid feel better (I’ve got a 7-week old daughter, so I can now relate to that, and it’s a great mental effort not to think first about giving her medicine when doesnt really need it).

    I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call them “toxic drugs” though. Everything’s toxic in a great enough dose, even homeopathy (swallow enough tablets at once and you’ll choke or get blood sugar metabolism problems, drink enough liquid remedies and you’ll die from a water overdose, if the cost of buying enough bottles to do that doesn’t give you a heart attack first!)

    Comment by tom p — January 30, 2008 @ 2:29 pm | Reply

  182. Dear Tom,
    Congratulation on your new daughter. I reminisce sometimes on my first child- the sweetness,sleepless nights, the love…and the responsibility.

    I was a pediatric nurse and then a midwife for many years. Gimpy knows this, so please excuse me, but it was my second child that brought me to try homeopathy. I had taken her to many doctors and the wanted to give her drugs. I decided to try homeopathy and it helped her, and then my entire family.

    Comment by GaleG — January 30, 2008 @ 3:10 pm | Reply

  183. Gale – I’d say that Lin was just talking about the ethical issues involved. To me it doesn’t imply that he’s given any placebos, merely that he’s given due consideration to the possibility.

    Regarding “all of it’s effectiveness”, you’re right, it’s probably not just the placebo effect that accounts for it. As well as the placebo effect of getting and taking a tablet, there’s also the ‘having a nice chat with a sympathetic person who’s got enough time to properly listen to your concerns and feelings’ effect (it probably has a better name, maybe it’s cnsidered part of the placebo effect, but whatever it is, it’s definitely real) and the ‘overpriced plonk’ effect, whereby wine tastes better if it costs more (seriously, this is true, see here: http://www.mindhacks.com/blog/2008/01/higher_price_makes_c.html).
    A properly designed study will control for all of these things and more, allowing us to see only whether the homeopathic remedy actually does anything or whether it’s all the other stuff which surrounds it (the chat, the payment, the placebo etc). This is easier than it sounds – all you need to do is just not tell the patient or the homeopath who’s getting a homeopathic remedy and who’s getting the placebo (thus it’s double-blind) and you only find out who had what at then end after you’ve finished the study and done all the analysis (you have to know what group they were in, but not which group had what). Whenever this has been done properly and in large enough groups to be meaningful, the homeopathy has turned out not to be any better than a placeboo which is accompanied by the same consultation and cost process.
    That’s why people like gimpy, flim_flam, M Simpson and all the others who’ve posted here not in favour of homeopathy are currently convinced that it doesn’t work any better than placebo and that’s why we can be quite rude about people who claim that real medicine is rubbish and homeopathy is what works (or just people who claim that homeopathy works).

    If homeopaths really were serious about your health and were honest in their convictions that it works, they’d have conducted such studies (that’s proper studies, not customer satisfaction surveys like the Bristol one) a long time ago. If they were to show (conclusively and thoroughly in enough people to counter all the previous failed experiments) that it works (even for one condition), and if this could be replicated in at least one other decent study, then all of us skeptics would shut right up and get on with trying to prove how it works and thus win the Nobel prize for medicine (or chemistry or physics, or all 3!).
    Heck, the homeopaths could even make a lot of money out of it (James Randi has $1 million for anyone who can reliably do anything paranormal, and he includes homeopathy in that, so for a smallish initial investment a small group of homeopaths could make themselves very rich in quite a short space of time). To many of us their silence speaks volumes, as does the combined effect of all the previous studies that homeopathy showed failing to work.

    Comment by tom p — January 30, 2008 @ 3:43 pm | Reply

  184. Gale – tell me about it! Although mine is already sleeping 6 or 7 hours at a time now (well, she has for the last 2 nights, and t’s like heaven!)

    Anyway, we’ve discussed the problems with personal experience being used as evidence. I’m glad that your daughter’s healthy and not suffering whatever illness it was that caused you to take her to the doctor, but it’s perfectly possible that it would have got better on it’s own.
    You’re probably thinking something like ‘but she was a baby, how can she be influenced by the placebo effect?’ I think that M Simpson’s explanation of how farmers can be influenced by the placebo effect in paragraph 6 of comment 160 applies also to babies. Here it is again
    “If you tell a farmer that the pill you’ve given his horse will cure it and he believes you, it’s very easy for him to think that the animal seems a little friskier, a little less lethargic – even when there’s no actual difference. (And this can then affect how he treats the animal – warm and positive instead of despairing and negative, leading to its gradual recovery.)”

    I’m sure that you know better than almost anyone how, with babies, if you’re chilled out, then the baby’s happier too. I think that this is ‘cos you’re arms are more relaxed when you’re cuddling him/her and you’re a teensy bit gentler when wiping their mouth after they’ve possetted (although there are almost certainly other explanations with equal or greater (or lesser) validity). The babies can feel this (they’re sensing your vibes, if you will) and will respond in kind, leading to a vicious or virtuous cycle. If you’re worried because your little bundle of joy and poo is poorly, then you’ll be stressed, she’ll sense this and will cry more. If you give her something you know can’t hurt them and you believe will treatthem, then you’ll feel better and calmer and she’ll pick up on this and cry less and everything will get back to normal.
    There’s no problem with this if you’ve seen real doctors and they don’t think there’s anything wrong* with your baby. The problem arises when people go to homeopaths instead of real doctors. They can fail to pick up signs of serious diseases or can simply leave untreated otherwise trivial diseases and this can lead to serious harm for a baby. The http://www.whatstheharm.net/homeopathy that somebody posted earlier gives examples of precisely this happening and babies dying as a result.

    In the UK we’ve a specific problem with people going to homeopaths, and that’s the NHS. It’s free for all to use, but it has to be paid for somehow. The payment is from general taxation and therefore it’s got a tight budget for what it does and there’s always pressure from right-wingers to see it reduced so that they can pay less tax. There are 5 hoemopathic hospitals which cost us millions of pounds a year (the one in London recently had a £10 million refit – that’s $20 million!), but there are also some real hospitals which can’t afford to prescribe the latest breast cancer drugs, leading to some women dying or having their breasts cut off unnecessarily. Those of us opposed to homeopathy would at the very least like to see it removed from the NHS, and all the money diverted back into real medicine, which is what has prompted the Leckridge letter you posted.

    Sorry for 2 v. long posts in a row, but I wanted to fully explain to you the specific situation here and my (and many others’) problems with homeopathy and homeopaths

    *by wrong, I mean a serious disease, as opposed to the usual baby complaints which sort themselves out after a little while with some TLC.

    Comment by tom p — January 30, 2008 @ 4:29 pm | Reply

  185. I have a question for Tom…

    I am not in the UK. Are the hospitals that are NHS funded staffed with MD homeopaths? Are the non MD homeopaths also covered by your NHS?

    Thanks,

    Comment by GaleG — January 30, 2008 @ 9:33 pm | Reply

  186. Hi Gale – I know that 2 of the 5 (london & tunbridge wells) certainly do have real doctors giving out homeopathy, but I don’t know about the others and a quick googling didn’t clear it up. I’d assume that they all do, but I’ve no evidence for this.

    Privately practising homeopaths are not covered by the NHS.

    By the way, I was wrong about the £10 million refit. According to the hospital’s website it was £20 million!

    Comment by tom p — January 31, 2008 @ 11:00 am | Reply

  187. In response to those of you (well, one of you really but there may be more secretly), who asked if there was a place to learn more about Abraham-Hicks teachings….I have started my own blog…a place to come a “relax and chill” before you get back into the “trenches”.

    http://aspirationofthesoul.wordpress.com/

    -GaleG

    Comment by GaleG — January 31, 2008 @ 1:58 pm | Reply


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