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

Does water have a memory?

Homeopaths argue that homeopathic remedies, like water, contain a ‘memory’ of the active ingredient from which they are prepared. Is this true?

Most scientists say this is nonsense. However, there is evidence that this could be so. An intriguing study by a French immunologist, Professor Jacques Benveniste, was published by the scientific journal, ‘Nature’, in 1988.  He described how an allergy test worked even when the substance tested was so diluted with water that there was little chance of a single molecule remaining. He argued that the water ‘remembered’ the allergen substance.

Later, he claimed that that this ‘memory’ could be digitised, transmitted, and reinserted into another sample of water, which would then contain the same active qualities as the first sample.

This seemed to confirm the very basis upon which homeopathy rested. However, his peers did not agree. It went against everything they thought they knew about how biological material was transmitted and exchanged, based on ideas dating back to Descartes in the 17th-century.

‘Nature’ concluded that Benveniste’s research was impossible to reproduce. His funding was withdrawn and his laboratory closed. Undeterred, he and his team continued to investigate the biological effects of agitated, highly dilute solutions.

His explanation began with a musical analogy. Two vibrating strings close together in frequency will produce a ‘beat’. The length of this beat increases as the two frequencies approach each other. Eventually, when they are the same, the beat disappears. This is the way musicians tune their instruments, and how, according to Benveniste, his water-memory theory works. All molecules are made from atoms which constantly vibrate and emit infrared radiation. These vibrations have been detected for years by scientists, and are a vital part of their armoury of methods for identifying molecules[1].

Chemistry says that homeopathy can’t work. Biology has no explanation either. But millions of patients and homeopaths know it does. Does quantum theory and holography explain it? Is homeopathy actually an energy and informational medicine that should be evaluated as such?

Surely the open-minded approach is to call for scientific research and evidence gathering on the efficacy of homeopathic medicines that would help patients and doctors make informed choices about homeopathic medicines. Pharmaceutical remedies 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] For more information visit http://twm.co.nz/Benv_memwtr.html

Infinitesimals, Miasms and Similars: Principles of Homeopathy

Homeopathic remedies are designed to gently prompt the immune system into fighting a health problem by giving it the necessary information to do so.  They are based on the notion that a diluted preparation of a substance that causes symptoms in a healthy person can cure diseases that cause the same symptoms in a sick person.

It is a holistic approach to healing in that it seeks to treat the whole person, not just the symptoms. Every remedy is tailor-made to suit the individual once the homeopath has carried out their diagnosis, which includes mental and emotional issues as well as physical problems.

Although homeopathy uses common substances mainly from plants and minerals, it is quite different to herbal medicine and the mechanisms by which they work are completely different.

The founder of homeopathy, Dr Samuel Hahnemann, identified ‘natural laws’ on which the method is founded:

The ‘Law of Similars’

The Law of Similars states that a disease can be cured by a substance that produces similar symptoms in healthy people, in other words, like cures like.

For example:

  • Raw onions cause sore, tearful eyes. Extremely diluted extract of raw onion can be used in a remedy to treat colds, flu, or other illnesses that produce the same symptoms.
  • Caffeine can be used in homeopathic dilution to help patients suffering from insomnia.
  • Nettles can be used homeopathically if the skin has symptoms similar to a nettle sting.

Critics of homeopathy are derisory about the Law of Similars. They say there’s no scientific evidence that it works. Indeed, it directly contradicts Western medical practice which tends to use substances which are opposite to the problem to suppress it, thus preventing rather than supporting the body’s normal reaction. But homeopathy is non-suppressive. Practitioners believe that suppressing the symptoms doesn’t deal with the cause, and unless the cause is treated, the condition is likely to get worse.

The Law of Minimal Dose (Theory of Infinitesimals)

The debate around the Law of Similars pales into insignificance compared to the controversy surrounding the Law of Minimal Dose. This states that the lower the dose of a homeopathic medicine, the greater its effectiveness. Most homeopathic remedies are so dilute, they contain little or no ‘active’ ingredients, just an energy blueprint.

When preparing a homeopathic remedy, substances are dissolved in water or alcohol, then repeatedly diluted and vigorously shaken between each dilution. First, the ‘mother tincture’ is diluted by 1 part in 100 or 1000, and shaken. Then it is diluted again to produce a 1 part in 10,000 or 1,000,000 and shaken again. A one-in-a-million dilution gives only a 60% chance that a single molecule of the original mother tincture remains in the solution. Critics argue that this merely adds more water to what is just water, but homeopaths believe that this process transfers the information, energy or ‘essence’ of the substance into the diluted remedy. The body is naturally responsive when ill, so that it is able to respond to these otherwise undetectable amounts.

Homeopathic remedies usually come in the form of a small sugar pill. Once the remedy has been diluted to the required degree, sugar pills are dipped in the remedy and allowed to dry. The essence of the tincture is now believed to have been transferred to the pill. But detractors say they are just sugar pills that have been dipped in water, no more, no less.

Conventional science holds that the more there is of a substance, the greater its effect. Homeopathy contradicts the belief of the pharmaceutical industry that increasing the dosage increases the effect of a drug.

Miasms

Homeopathy achieved good results in Hahnemann’s day, but it wasn’t one hundred percent successful. At first, he couldn’t understand why, then after twenty years in practice he deduced that there must some blockage that must be addressed before a cure can be achieved with the usual homeopathic remedy. He called these deep-seated causal influences ‘Miasms.’

He identified three chronic miasms – Psora (which causes under-functioning), Leutic (self-destruction) and Sycosis (over-functioning). He associated each miasm with specific diseases. For example, Psora is associated with Scabies and any condition that erupts on the skin and itches, hence the homeopathic remedy to address Psora should be produced from scabies itself.

Modern practitioners test for miasms and treat them with homeopathy or other methods such as EDS (electro-dermal screening).

Why the scepticism?

When something that has helped so many appears to have no value according to the scientific method, then surely it is the prevailing scientific method that is flawed!

The problem is, homeopathy’s key concepts are simply not consistent with our current understanding of science and is consequently difficult to study using current scientific methods. It has more in common philosophically with Oriental than Western practice. Each remedy is individually tailored to the patient, so it cannot be tested in random controlled trials, and because it is based on one remedy for one person, it is difficult to construct studies using standard scientific methods.

Hence critics argue that homeopathy relies largely on anecdotes rather than evidence and any success is mainly due to the beliefs of its followers. In other words, placebo. There are still those who consider the use of placebos as ‘fooling’ patients by giving them ‘useless’ pills and potions, even if they help bring about a cure.

Even so, the BBC report still refers to ‘sham’ treatments’ and ‘unproven treatments’ as if the author, Michelle Roberts, is still not really convinced.  She writes that three quarters of doctors claimed to offer ‘unproven treatments’ such as complementary therapies on a daily or weekly basis, and even refers to ‘fake’ acupuncture (which has been used successfully for over five thousand years)  in such terms. She misses the point – in most cases it is not the medicine that brings about healing, but the patient’s own healing abilities restoring equilibrium and removing the resistance to full health.

Research shows that placebos are most effective a relieving subjective conditions such as pain, and their effect is based on cultivating the patient’s expectations of a cure. Hence the size, colour and packaging of placebos all play a role, as does the presentation and manner of the practitioner who prescribes them.

Homeopathy has helped millions of people. The Law of Similars, Infinitesimals and the Principle of Miasms have proved their worth over and over again. It’s about time ‘science’ caught up!

©FGATT, 8.3.2017

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Chemistry says that homeopathy can’t work. Patients and homeopaths know it does. Does quantum theory and holography explain it?

Homeopathy: Mystical Medicine, Science or Quackery?

Samuel Hahnemann was born in Eastern Germany, in 1755.  At age 23 he decided to study medicine and become a doctor. He established a village practice in 1780, and eventually moved to the regional centre, Dresden.

It wasn’t long before he became disillusioned with the therapies he was expected to offer to his patients. Medicine had moved on little since Hippocrates. Many treatments involved brutal, inhumane methods. Bloodletting and purges were common, and various substances including mercury, arsenic and lead were used which often poisoned patients. He began a lifelong quest to find kinder, more natural ways of treating illnesses.

From 1789, now living in Leipzig, he devoted himself to the study of chemistry and medicine.  Hahnemann was no witch doctor. He believed in the scientific method. He was a keen experimenter, observer and documenter of his findings. He experimented using various substances on healthy subjects to see what effect they would have, and discovered that even poisonous substances could have curative properties.

One experiment used cinchona bark extract, which yields quinine, a known treatment for malaria. Puzzled by his findings, he repeatedly took it himself. That confirmed his suspicions – cinchona bark extract caused him to develop fever-like symptoms similar to those caused by malaria. He surmised that if a substance could cause disease symptoms in a healthy subject, small amounts could cure a sick person who had similar symptoms. He called his system ‘homeopathy’.

Proving

He then developed a testing method called ‘proving’ to determine which substances could be used as remedies and which medical conditions they could be used to treat. Healthy volunteers took highly diluted potions of the test remedy for several weeks and recorded any physical or emotional symptoms they felt. If a patient later presented the same symptoms, Dr Hahnemann prescribed a substance that had caused the same symptoms in the healthy volunteers. The ‘proving’ method is still used by homeopaths today.

Potentisation

Another innovation was the process of ‘potentisation’ derived from his theory of ‘infinitesimals.’ Hahnemann used many dangerous ingredients in his research, but he realised that such compounds needed to be diluted to ‘safe’ levels before use. Potentisation involved dissolving the active ingredient in water and repeatedly diluting and shaking it vigorously. He believed that the more a remedy was diluted, the more powerful it became.

‘Firsts’

Dr Hahnemann was responsible for several other ‘firsts’. He was the first to prepare medicines in a systematic way and test them on healthy human beings to determine how they acted to cure disease – previously medicines were prescribed on the basis of trial and error and tradition without experimental corroboration.

He was the first to differentiate between ‘acute’ and ‘chronic’ diseases. Acute diseases are serious but transitory; they have a beginning and an end. Chronic diseases are ongoing. They could be lying latent and made manifest at any time in a variety of ways.

He identified poor hygiene as a contributory cause in the spread of disease, and his success with cholera and typhoid fever was in part due to this. He recognised the healing contribution made by a balanced diet, rest, and isolating patients during epidemics. He became known for his work with people with mental health problems, regarding their treatment in his day as cruel and harmful, and urging a more humane approach. He was famous for his success with insane patients using homeopathy.

Publications

He published his first treatise in 1810 – The Organon of the Healing Artin which he explained the fundamentals of homeopathic medicine and guidelines for practice. He later published Pure Materia Medica which included details of his research and the remedy provings. In Chronic Diseases, Their Peculiar Nature and Their Homeopathic Cure, he explained how natural diseases become chronic in nature when suppressed by improper treatment.

Dr. Hahnemann treated thousands of difficult cases. Many had defied medical practitioners all over Europe. Physicians from the Old and New Worlds flocked to him for training in his methods, but they were in the minority. The majority of his contemporaries saw this giant of medicine as a quack of the first order! His theories and practices were derided by most medical practitioners of his day, and still are.

The ‘Scientific’ Verdict

Frankly, the scientific evidence is inconclusive, but this doesn’t prevent most doctors and medical researchers regard homeopathic remedies as placebos at best and quackery at worst. They point out that most studies have concluded that there is no evidence to support homeopathy as an effective treatment for any particular condition. Where studies report positive findings, they dismiss them as flawed: flawed sampling, flawed methodology, flawed conclusions and so on. Homeopathic medicines are infamous for containing no active chemical ingredients. Conventional bio-chemical science has no explanation for their efficacy. It can’t be true, they say, therefore it isn’t.

The ruling pharmaceutical-based medical establishment delight in attacking homeopathy. For example, in 2009, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned, with Africa’s rural poor in mind, that homeopathy should not be used for conditions such as HIV, TB, infant diarrhoea, influenza and malaria. Under a banner headline, ‘Homeopathy not a cure,’ they wrote, ‘We hope that by raising awareness of the WHO’s position on homeopathy we will be supporting those people who are taking a stand against these potentially disastrous practices.’ (Please note: the authors were referring to a handful of conditions; the headline gave the impression homeopathy could not cure anything at all!)

In the same report, a specialist in infectious diseases at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, was quoted as saying: ‘I think it is irresponsible for a healthcare worker to promote the use of homeopathy in place of proven treatment for any life-threatening illness.’

Needless to say, the Society of Homeopaths strongly disagreed. ‘This is just another poorly wrapped attempt to discredit homeopathy,’ said their Chief Executive. ‘The irony is that in their efforts to promote evidence in medicine, they have failed to do their homework. There is a strong and growing evidence base for homeopathy and this also includes childhood diarrhoea.’

Choice

Surely, in view of its positive track record, it is reasonable to consider what beneficial role homeopathy can play in any circumstances. What is needed is not crude dismissal but further research and investment into homeopathy.

So what’s the truth? Hahnemann was, above all, a man of integrity who devoted his life to rigorous testing of homeopathic cures. It has benefited millions since and continues to do so, but there are  no recent large scale studies that show homeopathy as conveying any benefit over and above the placebo effect, only small scale observational studies and laboratory research.

What’s wrong with the science?

In science, if something cannot pass a controlled trial using conventional methods, it is assumed not to work. With homeopathy (and other alternative medicines) even though practitioners know it works because they have seen it with their patients, when it fails in scientifically controlled trials they conclude that the trial must be flawed. Conventional methods are not the way to prove it.

According to mainstream science the humble bee is incapable of flight. Its wings are too small, its body too cumbersome. Similarly, there is a strong and growing evidence base for homeopathy. Let’s hope homeopathy can take its place as a scientifically proven and properly understood therapy in the future, helping lots of people. Then we will know for sure whether Hahnemann was truly an idiot, importer or genius!

©FGATT 8.3.2017

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