Homeopathy has to be Experienced to be Believed

Over the past few years homeopathy, has been the victim of many uncouth attacks in the media. The populist ‘wisdom’ of our time and place bleats that it’s ‘witchcraft’, lacks evidence for its efficacy and is a waste of  NHS money. In fact it is no more controversial today than it was when invited to be part of the National Health Service at its inauguration in 1948. Appalled by the double standards being used by homeopathy’s critics and assisted by the Pie Man, I have called for a level playing field for all interventions on the NHS  – ie one standard of evidence for all prospective treatments.That this has been scoffed at doesn’t surprise me. The makers of cough mixtures and a lot of other unevidenced, useless (and even potentially dangerous) medications sold over the counter in pharmacies and supermarkets would have a lot to lose if there was one standard for all. Eschewing a level playing field, opponents of homeopathy have ensured that the debate has focused on the ‘implausibility’ of homeopathic dilutions being able to have any clinical effect. I find it interesting that nothing has been written about the structured process of classical homeopathy starting with a comprehensive case taking and culminating in a homeopathic prescription that suits not only the condition but also the whole human being – physically and psychologically. Many homeopaths spend anything between 1 – 3 hours carefully listening to every detail of their patient’s symptoms and subjective physical and psychological experience of what is happening to them in any illness. It is a profound and empathic process culminating in a choice of medicine that suits the totality of a human being’s experience of being ill. While never a substitute for conventional medicine (which undoubtedly saves lives and does good) when responsibly practised (if possible with medical supervision) homeopathy has a huge role to play in people’s wellbeing all over the planet.

Homeopathy is not about small white pills or placebo. It is a profound process where you will feel fully received and listened to before you are prescribed anything. It is my belief most people going through this unique form of anamnesis would want to try the medicine prescribed thereafter – especially as everyone agrees it can certainly do no harm – and many millions of people are convinced that it has worked for them.

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brilliant piece, succinct, clear, moving….keep it up Dr. K.

You talk about “double standards” and use the example of cough mixtures and their lack of an evidence base.

I’m not sure why you think this is a double standard? I’m pretty sure that most of those who criticise homeopathy would also criticise the use of cough mixtures. Do you have evidence of people criticising homeopathy but singing the praises of cough mixtures?

I think most opponents of homeopathy would be delighted to have a level playing field, in which interventions were only approved if they had shown convincing evidence of efficacy in well designed randomised clinical trials.

I’m not sure homeopaths would be so keen on that idea.

Hello Adam,
Where is the systematic derision and criticism of over-the-counter non-proven patent medicines? I don’t see it. As I’ve said in the article, I personally would welcome one standard for all NHS interventions. My point is that this is not going to happen – probably because Big Pharma has too much to lose if this was implemented. It suits a lot of people to jeer at homeopathy and SAY NOTHING (whatever they think) about hundreds of much more lucrative unproven patent medicines and ‘cures’ being sold OTC at every chemist in the country. If that isn’t an exercise in double standards, I don’t know what is.

Well there are plenty of people criticising drug companies,Ben Goldacre for one.
I would agree with you re the long consultation time,this does help people feel better psychologically,but then so would a 3 hour consultation with your doctor. Unfortunately doctors are busy,and this is not possible.
I have no objection to people spending their money on alternative medicine,as long as they are aware of the consequences,and the NHS does not pay for it.
Why do you think conventional medicine developed if homeopathy was so successful? surely there would have been no need to develop antibiotics for example if Phytolacca works for strep throat?

Plenty of systematic derision on Science Based Medicine here’s just one http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-new-cough-and-cold-products-for-children-evidence-is-optional-and-science-is-marketing/

Trick or Treatment, Bad Science -books

Ben Goldacre, edzard ernst, quackometer blogs etc etc

Thank you for that article Dr. Kaplan!

My own experiences (many) with homeopathy has only been positive for myself, our family and our pets for the past 25 years. I have a family homeopath and a homeopathic first aid kit for acute non-life threatening conditions on many occasions. The homeopathic remedy Belladonna (in my first aid kit) helped alleviate a toothache and swelling from an abscessed tooth over a weekend when my dentist was unavailable.

In addition, homeopathic Sulphur cured two cases of conventionally treated mange in a dog of my husband’s aunt and another dog belonging to one of my friends.

Two family members with broken bones were facing surgery to repair because of slow healing. Homeopathic Symphytum hastened the healing of the breaks and both family members were able to avoid surgery. Before and after x-rays and ultrasound documented the healings in both cases.

Our family homeopath prescribed a remedy that helped my husband avoid back surgery for two herniated discs at the L4 and L5 level. The herniated discs were documented by both x-ray and ultrasound both before and after treatment. He had been in excruciating pain and for six months could only walk using a cane.

Several years ago my cholesterol level was off the charts. After viewing the lab report, my homeopath prescribed a remedy and on repeated lab testing a month later, my cholesterol was within normal limits. It has remained normal since that time. I took no other medication and no dietary change was necessary.

A few doses of homeopathic Silicea over a two week period of time opened and helped drain a lipoma the size of a golf ball from one of our dog’s right shoulder. No surgery, stitches or antibiotics were needed and there is no residual scar. Even on an outpatient basis, the surgery local anesthesia, bandaging and antibiotics would most likely have cost well over a few hundred dollars.

And, living in Florida where fleas on pets is a huge problem, I have used homeopathic Ruta graveolens in all my dogs’ water dishes for the past five years. The use of Ruta to deter fleas was mentioned in the book “Homoeopathy for Farm and Garden” by Vaikunthanath Kaviraj. There is another homeopathic preparation to address the flea problem in pets here in the United States. It is called “Flea Relief.” I believe it is sold on Amazon.

Most of the people I know who criticise homeopathy are also supporters of AllTrials. Are you? The characterisation of us as being silent about the shortcomings of BigPharma are quite simply untrue. (But I recognise that it suits homeopathists to believe it anyway)

Dear Adam,
The catch is in your “well designed randomised clinical Trials”. so far the skeptics & scientific community have not even understood what are the variances that are causing errors in the interpretation or design of the RCTs meant to test the efficacy of Homeopathy.naturally results do not reflect the truth.
So many homeopaths & users endorsing the efficacy is just not any bias. that is why it has to be experienced to be believed.

I support all forms of trials but much prefer OUTCOME STUDIES because in the end it is outcome that patients want – however that is achieved.

Thanks for that Sandra. Critics will call what you say ‘anecdotal evidence’ but it certainly convinces me!

It’s not Scientific OR Whole Person Medicine. The Faculty of Homeopathy has stood for both from its inception. Homeopathy was as controversial in 1948 when it was INVITED to be part of the NHS.
It’s daylight robbery to keep the homeopathic hospitals (built by the benefactors of homeopathy in the 19th century) but try to get the homeopathic doctors out. To get NHS homeopathy you need to be referred by your GP. So who do you think should decide whether any particular patient gets homeopathy on the NHS – you or the patient’s GP?

Dr Kaplan,

You wrote: “Where is the systematic derision and criticism of over-the-counter non-proven patent medicines? I don’t see it”

Then you simply have to look a bit harder: it is there. Ask yourself this: was it the evidence-based community or the purveyors of “CAM modalities” that uncovered the unethical stuff that “Big Pharma” companies have recently been justifiably taken to task for.

A few questions for you:

#1. Below is a list of all the equivalents of the MHRA Yellow Card scheme (https://yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk/) that are operated by the purveyors of “CAM Modalities”:

Was that list incomplete? (and, if so, please cite)

#2. Below is a list of all replicated double-blinded RCTs that demonstrate that homeopathy is distinguishable from placebo:

Was that list incomplete? (and, if so, please cite)

#3. Below is a list of all double-blinded tests that demonstrate that homeopathists are able to distinguish between their “remedies”:

Was that list incomplete? (and, if so, please cite)

And a word to the wise: before you give credence to anything Sandra Courtney writes anywhere, have a little read of http://www.skepticat.org/troll/

Dear Stephen Tonkin,

In your ‘questions’:
1. I went to the site but there is no ‘list’ there
2. You refer to a list of trials but there is no list and no link.
3. Ditto

Forgive me for concluding that yours was a shoddy comment that lacked evidence for any of the points it purported to make.
My point however is simple: One level of evidence for all prospective NHS interventions – something
known to the layman as a ‘level playing field’ It isn’t there and nothing you have said has shown me otherwise.

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