Why I Oppose Homeopathy

Homeopaths, particularly the non-medically qualified such as Sue Young, claim that their opponents either do not understand homeopathy or are in the pay of Big Pharma.

I think my previous posts demonstrate that I do indeed understand homeopathy.  I cannot prove thast I am not receiving brown envelopes full of twenties from the pharmaceutical corporations but let me explain why the homeopaths’ healing fantasies anger me.

I have seen what AIDS is doing to the townships in South Africa. My sister-in-law died of it. I have seen what ignorance and lack of proper medication have achieved. The South Africans have a problem in that their President and Health Minister are both HIV denialists. Their likely next President believes having a shower will prevent infection. In such circumstances the witch-doctors and charlatans prosper.

I have known homeopathy to be nonsense for three decades but while they were just taking money from the wealthy worried well I did not concern myself about it. Last year, however, it was revealed that homeopaths were claiming their sugar pills and magic water could prevent malaria. The Society of Homeopaths refused to condemn this dangerous nonsense so I began taking an interest in their activities.

I discovered that Sue Young was claiming that homeopathy could be used to treat AIDS. I complained to the SoH about it and as you can see from “The Society of Homeopaths Investigates!!” on this blog, they did bugger-all about it.

Then I discovered the Maun Homeopathy project as outlined in “AIDS, Malaria, Homeopathy and Southern Africa”. The thought of these people indulging their healing fantasies in Southern Africa chilled my blood. I alerted a doctor in Botswana about them. I do not know if this action had any effect but if you look at their site now they have added a line saying that homeopathy does not cure HIV and AIDS but they also make numerous claims as to the value of homeopathic nostrums:-

1. They claim that homeopathy is two and a half times as effective as placebo. They give journal references but as there are no internet links and I do not subscribe to the journals in question I cannot comment on the papers cited. I will say that I have never seen this claim anywhere else.

2. They claim that homeopathy can treat the opportunistic infections that afflict the HIV positive. There is no evidence to support this assertion.

3. They claim that homeopathy heals the trauma of rape or sexual assault and furthermore “It will also boost the immune system to help strengthen the individual response to any HIV infection contracted by the individual.” This is absolute rubbish. There is not one experimental result anywhere that can be interpreted to say that homeopathy boosts the immune system. The only treatment that has a chance of preventing HIV taking hold after infection is an immediate course of antiretrovirals. The assertion that homeopathy can prevent HIV infection is at best a deluded fantasy.

However, since non-medically qualified homeopaths (particularly Society of Homeopaths members) are apparantly so utterly convinced that homeopathy cures all ills and that conventional medicine is useless, I have a challenge for them:-

Produce a “living will” that states in straight-forward language that in no circumstances must you ever be given conventional medical assistance then I will believe that you believe your healing fantasies. To balance things up, if you do this, I will produce one to say that in no circumstances must I be given homeopathic remedies. Particularly not by an SoH member.

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47 Responses to “Why I Oppose Homeopathy”

  1. Krishna Says:

    It does not make a difference if someone is opposing Homoeopahty for the reasons best known to him or her. But the question is such people want others to follow suit. This is in a way trying to impose one’s ill conceived opinion on others. Nobody will risk their lives to pay money to Homoeopaths and they are not fools to go against their well being. If pure water can get rid of fever, ulcer, cysts then if one is genuinely interested in search of knowledge just try to understand why and how it works. But some so called Scientists and bloggers have made it their profession to criticise Homoeopahty day in and day out. We should remember that the Scientists made us believe thatPluto is a planet. The same Scientific created a wrong feeding chart for babies which was followed by the public for 4 decades before they realised that they were patronising a particular lobby. Now the anti homoeopahty lobby seem to be having nightmares with the popularity of Homoeopathy.

  2. jaycueaitch Says:

    Just because someone disagrees with you does not make their views ill-conceived. I have explained my reasons for opposing homeopathy.

    Pure water does not get rid of feverm ulcers or cysts. If you have evidence otherwise, please present it.

    “We should remember that the scientists made us believe that Pluto is a planet”. WTF does that have to do with anything? Astronomers, when their knowledge improved, realised another category of object was needed. In any event are you seriously advancing the syllogism “Astronomers were wrong about Pluto, therefore Doctors (a completely different group) are wrong about homeopathy (a completely different subject)”?

    You are right about one thing though:- The thought of homeopaths indulging their healing fantasies in Africa and convincing AIDS sufferers that they can be cured by sugar pills and magic water does indeed give me nightmares. It gives nightmares to anyone with an ounce of compassion in them.

  3. edouard Says:

    Homeopathy has never killed anybody whilst allopathic medicine kills millions every year.

    Of course since homeopathy works in a completely different way from allopathy it does poorly in clinical trials designed by allopaths to test alllopathic medicine.

    Millions of poor Africans who have no access to retroviral drugs will attest to the fact homeopathy helped them. Who are we not to believe them?

  4. jaycueaitch Says:

    Homeopathic sugar pills have never killed anyone directly as they have no effect. However, if people wrongly believe that the pills will cure them then that belief will kill them. Hence homeopathy does kill people.

    If by allopathic medicine you mean evidence based medicine, could you supply a reference for your claim? Likewise for your claim that millions of Africans wil attest that homeopathy helped them. When I see eveidence that homeopathy has had any effect on the T-cell count of the HIV+, then I will believe that it will help them.

    Homeopaths constantly claim clinical trials are not a valid test of homeopathy. Please:-

    1.) Explain why this is so.

    2.) Describe a test procedure that would take into account the way you believe they work.

  5. edouard Says:

    Randomized control trials are irreducibly reductionist,designed to test for and isolate the specific results of a specific allopathic treatment. They do very well for that and certain allopathic treatments such as anti-retrovirals for AIDs work well temporarily to suppress symptoms and extend life. However they do not cure the disease itself.

    A properly designed and administered homeopathic course of treatment will treat each individual as unique and the remedies will change with time as the homeopathic doctor examines the results.

    To test one homeopathic remedy on a group of patients versus a similar cohort treated by allopathic means will always show allopathy working better -except for those patients killed by the treatment.

    For AIds in Africa I suggest two groups of matched sufferers, at least 1000 in each group to get the proper statistics. You would need at least ten trained homeopaths to design a unique treatment regimen for each patient, follow it up for at least two years, with evaulations at regular intervals, not more than one month for instance.

    The other groups should consist of the standard allopathic intervention, be the same size ie. 1000 patients and follow a similar duration.

    Of course such a demonstration would be fought tooth and nail by Big Pharma and is unlikely to happen.

  6. Mojo Says:

    “For AIds in Africa I suggest two groups of matched sufferers, at least 1000 in each group to get the proper statistics. You would need at least ten trained homeopaths to design a unique treatment regimen for each patient, follow it up for at least two years, with evaulations at regular intervals, not more than one month for instance.

    The other groups should consist of the standard allopathic intervention, be the same size ie. 1000 patients and follow a similar duration.”

    Most non-homoeopaths would see the ethical problem inherent in witholding demonstrably effective treatment from at least 1000 patients. I would suggest two groups, both treated with real medicines, both attending consultations with homoeopaths, but with one group being given homoeopathic remedies and the other placebo in addition to the orthodox medicine. Oh, and double-blinded, of course.

    “A properly designed and administered homeopathic course of treatment will treat each individual as unique and the remedies will change with time as the homeopathic doctor examines the results.”

    It may come as news to you, but double blind placebo controlled trials of individualised homoeopathy have been carried out – they just haven’t shown that it works.

  7. edouard Says:

    “Most non-homoeopaths would see the ethical problem inherent in witholding demonstrably effective treatment from at least 1000 patients.”

    Yes indeed, but Big Pharma will insisit on their products being administered to the patients anyway.

    “It may come as news to you, but double blind placebo controlled trials of individualised homoeopathy have been carried out – they just haven’t shown that it works.”

    Unfortunately those studies all have flaws most to do with study size.

  8. jaycueaitch Says:

    So let’s hear the flaws, please.

  9. edouard Says:

    “So let’s hear the flaws, please.”

    “I would suggest two groups, both treated with real medicines, both attending consultations with homoeopaths, but with one group being given homoeopathic remedies and the other placebo in addition to the orthodox medicine.”

    The major flaw in this scenario is that the allopathic and homeopathic treatments would destructively interfere and the result would be poorer than the allopathic regimen, which treats only the symptoms and can cause temporary relief. So you are proposing a loaded study.

    Just see if you can get Big Pharma to underwrite a 1000 patient clinical trial in the poorest parts of Africa. It will not happen.

    Meanwhile these destitute people can be simply and cheaply treated with homeopathic remedies. But you want to stop that.

  10. jaycueaitch Says:

    The homeopathic remedies do not actually do any good and homeopaths seem fond of discouraging people from seeking conventional medical help – your comment about “allopathic” medicine killing millions every year is a classic example as is your claim hat homeopathic and “allopathic” remedies will distructively interact. You offer no evidence for this -as usual.

    Antiretrovirals (ARVs) do slightly more than mask the symptoms – they attack the HIV which causes AIDS. An ARV which totally eradicates HIV has yeat to be developed of course but current treatment will help the sufferer live for many years with a reasonable quality of life.

    You have yet to respond to the challenge in my original post by the way.

  11. David Colquhoun Says:

    There is something rather wonderful about these public argument about homeopathy. Every time a homeopath speaks in public they seem to help their critics by talking in such absurd mumbo jumbo that anyone with a h’apporth of common sense can see the absurdity of their beliefs.

    There is some quite amusing stuff along these lines at homeopathy4health too.

  12. edouard Says:

    “You have yet to respond to the challenge in my original post by the way.”

    Which challenge? I am not a homeopath, by the way, but a patient who has been helped immeasurably by homeopathy.

  13. jaycueaitch Says:

    The challenge appears in the last paragraph of the blog item “Why I Oppose Homeopathy”.

  14. edouard Says:

    “Produce a “living will” that states in straight-forward language that in no circumstances must you ever be given conventional medical assistance then I will believe that you believe your healing fantasies. To balance things up, if you do this, I will produce one to say that in no circumstances must I be given homeopathic remedies. Particularly not by an SoH member.”

    I am not sure what a “living will” is, a personal directive, perhaps? Mine states that extraordinary measures should not be taken to prolong my life, when the time comes, as it does for all of us.

    I am 67 years of age and have not suffered an allopathic intervention for 14 years. I use homeopathy and natural remedies and have recovered from rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and fibromyalgia with their aid.

  15. jaycueaitch Says:

    Complete recoveries? I will be impressed if that is so. You should persuade your homeopath to put the evidence before James Randi. He will be $1,000,000 richer.

    I notice you took “natural remedies” alongside the the homeopathic remedies. Were these herbal remedies? Won’t they cloud the picture re homeopathy somewhat? Weren’t you worried that they would destructively interact with the homeopathic remedies as you claim “allopathic” remedies do?

  16. edouard Says:

    1)yes
    2) I will suggest it.
    3)yes
    4)perhaps
    5)no

  17. Rob Hinkley Says:

    edouard said on 30th December: “The major flaw in this scenario is that the allopathic and homeopathic treatments would destructively interfere and the result would be poorer than the allopathic regimen”

    Not according to homeopaths. The Society of Homeopaths says that “Homeopathy can be safely used alongside most conventional medicines”. Relating specifically to HIV the Maun Homeopathy project has a copy of a Society of Homeopaths newsletter speaking highly of “the extent to which ARVs and homeopathy complement each other” instead of destructive interference.

  18. jaycueaitch Says:

    Interestingly, he doesn’t think that homeopathic remedies will destructively interact with herbal medicines. I think it’s just something he made up as an advance explaination for the failure of a trial such as that suggested by Mojo.

  19. edouard Says:

    It has to do with resonance frequency and phase. There has to be resonance between the remedy, the practitioner and the patient. Allopathic pharmaceuticals may be close enough in frequency to do some good, but their phase is almost 180 degrees out. Thus destructive interference.

    A wise practitioner can compensate by choosing a homeopathic remedy of different frequency-if it is one half of the allopathic drug it won’t interfere as much but it will be a less effective remedy.

    Natural remedies are usually zero phase, like homeopathic remedies.

    Mojo’s test is useless and is designed to show homeopathy in a bad light.

  20. jaycueaitch Says:

    Edouard, that is complete gibberish, the words “resonance frequency”, “phase” and “destructive interference” relate to the behaviour of sound waves and electromagnetic radiation. They are completely meaningless in this context.

  21. Nickynockynoonoo Says:

    edouard, I’m curious. Were you diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis by a proper doctor or just an alternative practitioner? My guess is that you never had it. That’s the only way you could think you have “recovered”.

  22. truthrainbow Says:

    NO, edouard is right. All life matter is connected by global cosmic variable resonances that effect us all. Homeopths understand this and prescripe remedies based upon tried and tested interactions of these energies. All allopathy does is invert the positive ion streams to be negatively correlated with positivity.

  23. edouard Says:

    Its not ions, charged particles.
    Its vibrations and waves. You should try and study some physics.

    I was diagnosed with arthritis by my homeopath after an arthritis specialist told me I didn’t have it. I was suffering from extremely painful inflamed joints. My finger joints were red and swollen you could see it.(in other words it wasn’t just in my head , there were visible signs) After a course of homeopathic treatment it all went away, but onlyafter I discontinued the allopathic treatment.

    My neighbour suggested using WD-40 as it had worked for him on his knuckles. I thought homeopathy would be a safer alternative

  24. Dr C Says:

    “Its not ions, charged particles.
    Its vibrations and waves. You should try and study some physics.”

    Take the plank out of thine own eye…

    Psychosomatic illness is very real, there is no doubt about that and as such, physiological manifestations are no guarentee that it isn’t all still in your head.

  25. Julius Says:

    You should try and study some physics.

    Haha, oh dear, you’re not serious are you? If you’re using the physics of waves and vibrations to explain homoeopathy, can you demonstrate an experiment, with spectrometers and frequency counters or whatever, that confirms *any* of what you say? Especially the stuff about “phase” – that’s a fairly precise scientific claim, so it should be easy to show in the lab. Or are you going to tell me that it doesn’t work that way, homoeopathy is different and you can’t use physics to measure it in the same way that you can’t use randomised controlled trials to measure it – in which case, why are you trying to use the language of physics and, indeed, telling people to “study some physics”?

  26. Stewart Says:

    “I was diagnosed with arthritis by my homeopath after an arthritis specialist told me I didn’t have it.”

    Dear God, I’m quite lost for words.

  27. Stewart Says:

    Edouard: Would it be fair to say that I’ve been cured of cancer after being diagnosed as having it by a homeopath, whereas a doctor told me it was just a cold?

  28. Andrew Taylor Says:

    Study some physics. Good advice, that. If it helps, I have a master’s degree in physics and I say you’re talking bollocks.

    So an expert in arthritis told you that your swelling wasn’t arthritis, a quack said it was and prescribed you a nice cool glass of water, and then whatever you had went away. What a lovely tale, although sadly not relevant.

    The fact is you can’t have wave resonance “between” objects. The whole concept doesn’t mean anything. It’s like saying the remedy is purple with the patient, or there is an orbit between the practitioner and the remedy. It’s a complete non-sequitur.

    If it’s vibrations and waves, there’s an equation, so let’s hear it. When we know that, we can find the wavelength, and bring allopathic remedies into phase by moving them half that distance towards (or away from) the patient.

  29. edouard Says:

    “If it’s vibrations and waves, there’s an equation, so let’s hear it. When we know that, we can find the wavelength, and bring allopathic remedies into phase by moving them half that distance towards (or away from) the patient.”

    Yes indeed. Its the wavelenghts emitted by the objects, not the objects themselves. Of course the wavelnghts involved are very tiney so you have to be very precise about moving them half a wavlenght.

  30. Dr C Says:

    “Yes indeed. Its the wavelenghts emitted by the objects, not the objects themselves. Of course the wavelnghts involved are very tiney so you have to be very precise about moving them half a wavlenght.”

    How tiny?

  31. The Holy ettlz Says:

    Waves of what?

  32. prohomeopathy Says:

    Physics does not have always all the answers – only 500 years ago they thought that the sun was not the center of the universe, therefore it seems possible that physics can’t explain the patient-practioner-remedy trivalent interacting state. When Edouard talks about object-emmitted waves he (I think) means on a subatomic level where all the laws of physics break down into a singularity and it is this singularity that binds all living objects.

  33. jaycueaitch Says:

    You’re just making it up as you go along, aren’t you. The words you are using have specific meanings in physics. Your post is meaningless. Obviously you’ve realised that you can’t blind people with science, so you’re trying to baffle us with bullshit instead.

  34. thenanoscientist Says:

    prohomeopathy Says:
    January 10, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    “Physics does not have always all the answers – only 500 years ago they thought that the sun was not the center of the universe, therefore it seems possible that physics can’t explain the patient-practioner-remedy trivalent interacting state. When Edouard talks about object-emmitted waves he (I think) means on a subatomic level where all the laws of physics break down into a singularity and it is this singularity that binds all living objects.”

    I presume you mean that people thought the sun was the centre of the universe – was that belief deduced scientifically by physicists in the 1500s? No it wasn’t, so why are you trying to critcise physics by falsely claiming that is was.

    The laws of physics break down at the sub-atomic level do they? Why do atoms exist at all then? What form do the object-emitted waves take (I presume this terminology does not simply mean waves emitted from objects)? What is the nature of this singularity you speak of?

  35. jaz Says:

    This has been fascinating read. No explanation so let’s just make stuff up that sounds sciencey.

  36. Rob Hinkley Says:

    Dear prohomeopathy; adding some science jargon doesn’t make a bad argument better. When the jargon is totally inappropriate it only makes things worse, which is what happened in your post. But I’ve made an effort to understand and respond…

    “possible that physics can’t explain the patient-practioner-remedy trivalent interacting state”
    That really means nothing whatsoever. Assuming it was an attempt to say “possible that physics can’t explain the interaction between the patient, the practitioner and the remedy” then why not? Physics does immensely well at describing the interaction between every other sort of matter and energy. There is no reason to think, nor any observation which might suggest, that these laws suddenly fail when there is a patient, a practitioner and a remedy involved.

    “waves on a subatomic level where all the laws of physics break down into a singularity”
    Gosh: the laws of physics collapse into matter of infinite density occupying zero volume? No. There are laws of physics which describe singularity, but to say that laws themselves “break down into a singularity” is utter nonsense. Even if you were trying to say “on a subatomic level, where singularities cause the laws of physics to break down” you’re still be wrong, because living creatures do not contain such singularities. If we did we’d be far too busy collapsing into personal black holes to worry about alternative approaches to healthcare.

    “it is this singularity that binds all living objects.”
    No, no it isn’t. Living creatures are held together by the well understood forces between the molecules from which they’re made.

  37. prohomeopathy Says:

    No, no it isn’t. Living creatures are held together by the well understood forces between the molecules from which they’re made.”

    Well obviously you’ve not understood what I meant by singularity! I din’t mean it in the allopathic traditionalist sense, I meant it in the homeopathic sense, in that it is a single unifying energy that unites all living matter together. That’s why homeopathic remedies treat the whole – not the symptom that allopathy does. Only by interacting in this way does the illness get treated. I challenge you to disprove that there is no singularity!

  38. Rob Hinkley Says:

    “I challenge you to disprove that there is no singularity!”

    You don’t understand how science works. You are claiming the existence of a “single unifying energy” (whatever that means) between living things. The burden of proof, as with all new concepts, is on proponents to demonstrate that it does exist. You would do this by using the “single unifying energy” concept to predict a specific measurable effect which cannot be explained by conventional theories, then by actually observing it. The more such effects are predicted and measured, and the more repeatably it happens, the more legitimacy your notion will acquire.

  39. prohomeopathy Says:

    “You would do this by using the “single unifying energy” concept to predict a specific measurable effect which cannot be explained by conventional theories, then by actually observing it.”

    And this is what homepaths have been doing for two hundred years ever since homepathy was discovered!!

    At last, you allopaths are finally realising what we homeopaths have been telling you!

  40. edouard Says:

    “Physics does not have always all the answers – only 500 years ago they thought that the sun was not the center of the universe, therefore it seems possible that physics can’t explain the patient-practioner-remedy trivalent interacting state. When Edouard talks about object-emmitted waves he (I think) means on a subatomic level where all the laws of physics break down into a singularity and it is this singularity that binds all living objects”

    What utter nonsense. I didn’t mean that at all.

    Cell interactions occur due to electro-chemical effects, but homeopathy appears to work by somekind of electro-mechanical effect, similar but different. Unfortunately the potentials involved are too small to be measured by conventional apparatus. The effects have to be decduced by observation of the various remedies on the whole person and working down from there.

    Its like global warming. We know that puttin extra CO2 into the atmosphere is causing the globe to heat up. Unfortunately because the system is so complex we don’t know of the exact mechansim but we can observe the results.

    we can’t predict tomorrow’s weather but we can say that next year we will be warmer than this year, on average.

    similarly we know from observation that the proper homeopathic remedy can make the patient well again. we can’t see the exact mechansim it is too tiny, so we can surmise what must be happening and we can observe and predict the general effects on the organism.

  41. Rob Hinkley Says:

    “predict a specific measurable effect which cannot be explained by conventional theories, then by actually observing it. … And this is what homepaths have been doing for two hundred years ever since homepathy was discovered!!”

    But when the observations of remedies’ effects move beyond intuitive personal deductions (which are known to be unreliable), the effect of the remedy suddenly becomes indistuishible from that of an inert placebo sugar pill. How is any new concept of “single unifying energy” required to explain that?

  42. The Holy ettlz Says:

    “Cell interactions occur due to electro-chemical effects, but homeopathy appears to work by somekind of electro-mechanical effect, similar but different.”

    We know pretty much all there is to know about the fundamentals of electromagnetism. Please qualify this further.

    “Unfortunately the potentials involved are too small to be measured by conventional apparatus. The effects have to be decduced by observation of the various remedies on the whole person and working down from there.”

    Well come up with a theory for these “potentials”, and the physicists will come up with an experiment to study it.

  43. Al Steiner Says:

    It is obvious that none of you are qualified to speak on either orthodox or alternative medicine practices as none of you are trained in both.
    When orthodox medicine failed to heal me I turned to alternative. In both cases I was healed, very quickly, after orthodox practioners had suggested surgery. This was over 12 years ago and I avoided two extensive surgeries by taking inexpensive homeopathic ‘muti’.
    I never told my orthodox doctors, but I know that the ‘muti’ activated my body’s own healing properties.
    I will never attack either as I believe we do not know all the answers and research continues indefinately to produce new ideas.
    I naturally, am very open minded about homeopathic remedies and prefer to err on their side which is less traumatic to the body than conventional medicine.

  44. jaycueaitch Says:

    So what was the ailment that might have needed surgical intervention but was cured by homeopathy?

    Oh and WTF is “homeopathic muti”?

  45. janani Says:

    All ur arguements are in vain. Homoeopaths and homoeopathy are proving their efficiency by their cure to the sufferers. Just by mere arguement and false provings you cannot misguide everyone. Homoeoopathy is the only system which gives importance to the emotional status of the patient and treats them as a whole. Homoeopathy has cured 2.5 million cases in cuba with leptospirosis. Mere water cannot do this and just dont waste time in arguements and start searching for the truth.

  46. jaycueaitch Says:

    Care to present some evidence for that? No? Thought not.

  47. Deflecting Criticism 3 – Whataboutery « Letting Off Steam Says:

    […] most irrelevent bit of whataboutery has to go Krishna who seemed to think that because astronomers changed the definition of planet in such a way that excluded Pluto from […]

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