The Jury Is Out

The debate over homeopathy continues and the jury is out. On the one hand, homeopaths point to their success in curing a wide range of conditions for millions of people and cite studies that have demonstrated that homeopathy can have a positive effect – including conditions where conventional medicine has failed.

But is homeopathy placebo, as is often claimed? A 1997 conducted a meta-analysis examined 105 clinical trials on homeopathic therapies. 81 presented positive results. The authors concluded that, ‘the results of this meta-analysis are incompatible with the hypothesis that the clinical effects of homeopathy are due exclusively to a placebo effect.’ [1]

In truth, no amount of negative research could topple the profession’s belief in homeopathy, and no amount of positive research would change the minds of those set against it. However, many researchers accept that the randomised controlled trial – comparing placebos with test remedies – favoured by the pharmaceutical industry is not a fitting research tool with which to test homeopathy.[2]

Chemistry and biology say that homeopathy can’t work, but homeopathy is a vibrational medicine which works through the body’s energy fields, not its biochemistry. It works with the body, not against it (as with most drugs), and is tailor-made to the individual. It uses very dilute substances to trigger the body to heal itself.

Is homeopathy humbug? Does it deserve the scorn to which it is subjected?

The jury is out and the lines are drawn between (1) those who mistrust allopathic medicine and who believe that our bodies, when susceptible to illness, react to a homeopathic remedy as if it were causing a similar problem, and to recognise that the body cures itself by this reaction, because the remedy it has been given is similar to the disease, and (2) medical scientists searching in vain with the limited tools available to them from Newtonian chemistry and biology for an explanation of how it works.  If homeopathy is indeed an energy and informational medicine they won’t find one there.

Pharmaceutical medicines have too many drawbacks to rely on them entirely. Isn’t it time for a more enlightened approach?

©FGATT, 8.3.2017

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[1] K. Linde and W. Jonas, Alternative Medicine Evaluation Department, US National Institute of Health.

[2] Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4183916.stm

3 thoughts on “The Jury Is Out

  1. You’ve misquoted Linde in your selected extract: the full conclusion from his 1997 paper (of 89, not 81 trials) states:

    The results of our meta-analysis are not compatible with the hypothesis that the clinical effects of homeopathy are completely due to placebo. However, we found insufficient evidence from these studies that homeopathy is clearly efficacious for any single clinical condition. Further research on homeopathy is warranted provided it is rigorous and systematic. (Source)

    In his follow-up paper in 1999, Linde concluded:

    The evidence of bias [in homeopathic trials] weakens the findings of our original meta-analysis. Since we completed our literature search in 1995, a considerable number of new homeopathy trials have been published. The fact that a number of the new high-quality trials… have negative results, and a recent update of our review for the most “original” subtype of homeopathy (classical or individualized homeopathy), seem to confirm the finding that more rigorous trials have less-promising results. It seems, therefore, likely that our meta-analysis at least overestimated the effects of homeopathic treatments. (Source)

    In 2005 in The Lancet, he wrote:

    We agree (with Shang et al) that homoeopathy is highly implausible and that the evidence from placebo-controlled trials is not robust…Our 1997 meta-analysis has unfortunately been misused by homoeopaths as evidence that their therapy is proven. (Source)

    In 2015 the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council published its report on the most extensive investigation into homeopathy carried out to date. The Council set out to answer the question: “Is homeopathy an effective treatment for health conditions, compared with no homeopathy, or compared to other treatments?” It concluded:

    Based on the assessment of the evidence of effectiveness of homeopathy, NHMRC concludes that there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective. Homeopathy should not be used to treat health conditions that are chronic, serious, or could become serious. People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness. People who are considering whether to use homeopathy should first get advice from a registered health practitioner. Those who use homeopathy should tell their health practitioner and should keep taking any prescribed treatments.

    The jury is not out.

  2. Gold (@unifex) on said:

    The only debate that exists here is between Homeopaths and the science groupies that promote a scientific approach to healthcare.

    Amongst the scientific community there is no real debate happening here because the topic is well understood and considered to be quite settled. The only reason you think the jury is out on this topic is because of the echo chamber you live in. It seems like there is debate because you are always able to find someone to argue against your “science”.
    +++
    Just in case this isn’t posted: https://hyp.is/EW5kkgddEeeR1M97YLloSw/blog.davidlawrencepreston.co.uk/2017/03/jury-is-out/

    All comments available here;
    https://via.hypothes.is/http://blog.davidlawrencepreston.co.uk/2017/03/jury-is-out/

  3. In truth, no amount of negative research could topple the profession’s belief in homeopathy, and no amount of positive research would change the minds of those set against it.

    Whilst it’s likely that many true believers will not be swayed by good evidence, the same is not true for skeptics: they will be persuaded by good evidence. To suggest otherwise is to misunderstand skepticism.

    However, many researchers accept that the randomised controlled trial – comparing placebos with test remedies – favoured by the pharmaceutical industry is not a fitting research tool with which to test homeopathy.[2]

    This is a curious statement: whether or not it’s favoured by the pharmaceutical industry or not or the reasons why are largely irrelevant. They are, however, also oft-cited by homeopaths. Your curious citation of the BBC article from 2005 on the Shang et al. analysis, quotes a spokeswoman from the Society of Homeopaths (SoH) as saying:

    It has been established beyond doubt and accepted by many researchers, that the placebo-controlled randomised controlled trial is not a fitting research tool with which to test homeopathy.

    Whilst that might appear to support your assertion, it’s odd that not only do the SoH cite numerous RCTs in support of homeopathy on their own website, but they also refer readers to the website of the Faculty of Homeopathy, who cite even more RCTs, including those for individualised homeopathy.

    Also, research by Mathie et al., funded by the British Homeopathic Association and hailed (wrongly) to be the definitive evidence review for homeopathy, particularly since it considered individualised homeopathic treatments, examined only RCTs for individualised homeopathy.

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