Frequent False Statements About Homeopathy... and the Truth

(adapted from National Center for Homeopathy – http://www.nationalcenterforhomeopathy.org )

 

“There is no evidence that homeopathy works at all.”

This is the most often repeated falsehood emanating from anti-homeopathy pundits, a tenet they hold as sacred, cite from each other and repeat without shame to media and public alike.  The truth is that there are over 600 published research studies of homeopathy and more are being completed every day.  Research shows the effectiveness of homeopathy for human and animal patients with a wide range of acute, chronic and epidemic conditions such as eczema, asthma, upper respiratory illnesses, ear infections, fibromyalgia, menopause, diarrhea, ADHD, irritable bowel and depression.  There is even laboratory research showing the action of homoeopathic remedies on individual cells, including cancer cells.  See this page for an impressive sampling… not to mention pages elsewhere on this site.

 

Homeopathy is nothing but placebo.”

Again, hundreds of basic science, pre-clinical and clinical studies have been published in respected, peer-reviewed journals showing effects of homeopathic remedies exceeding those of placebo. Furthermore, many homeopathy studies have been done using animals and cell cultures, which are not susceptible to the placebo effect.

 

Those who claim homeopathy is invalid because it is unexplained should also note that the placebo effect is always controlled for in high-quality studies–even though it, too, is unexplained.

 

“Homeopathy is ‘implausible.”

First, “plausible” is a subjective term; plausibility is in the eye of the beholder.  Beware subjective measures when delivered by people with strong and/or hidden agendas!

 

The detractor’s claim of “implausibility” directed at homeopathy arises from the system’s use of very highly diluted medicines.  These medicines are prepared through a series of sequential dilutions of medicinal substances with vigorous shaking at each stage of dilution, a process known as succussion.  Thanks to the work of scientists at institutions like Penn State University, the University of Washington, Stanford University, Moscow State University, and London South Bank University, we now know that the properties and effects of substances are dictated by their molecular structures, not their chemical composition.  Thanks to these same scientists, we also know that ultra-dilutions, like homeopathic remedies, do indeed contain stable and unique molecular structures with recognizable properties (See Materials Letters. 62. 2008). The water studies convincingly show that water is restructured in the process of homeopathic remedy preparation allowing for transfer of information from the original solute (substance) to water.

 

What’s more, there have been numerous high-quality peer reviewed studies showing the biological effects of homeopathic remedies.  The most frequently used experiment on ultra-dilutions has involved basophils, the white blood cells involved in the immune response.  One series of experiments conducted in Europe over a period of 25 years on a multi-laboratory basis with independent replications has consistently shown the inhibition of basophil activation by high dilutions of histamine (Inflammation Research. 2009).   Another study, a meta-analysis led by Claudia Witt M.D. of the Charité University Medical Centre in Berlin evaluated the quality and results of biological experiments with ultramolecular, agitated dilutions.  Seventy-three percent of these studies showed an effect with ultramolecular dilutions (Complimentary Therapies in Medicine.  2007).   Yet another study—this one also the subject of repeated experiments over a long period—shows the effect of ultramolecular dilutions of aspirin on blood clotting (Clinical and Applied Thrombosis/Hemostasis 2008).  And there are others.

 

“Homeopathy needs to be held to the standard of conventional science, using the Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) to measure its efficacy.”

The RCT is the most popular method used by pharmaceutical companies to bring a new drug to the marketplace.   However, it is not the best scientific method for researching whole-systems modalities such as homeopathy. A whole-systems approach recognizes that the human body and mind are dynamic and complex, with each part influencing the other and acting together.  Therefore, one part or system of the body cannot be studied in isolation without looking at the effect on the whole person. Scientists find the RCT methodology is too restrictive when studying a whole-system methodology, and advocate other more appropriate research paradigms.

 

Many scientists and health practitioners question the usefulness of RCT studies even in standard drug testing.  They prefer “real world” or “clinical outcome” studies that are more applicable to day-to-day practice instead of strictly-controlled drug trials.  Health practitioners and the US Department of Health and Human Services are calling for “comparative effectiveness” research. These are studies that compare the usefulness of various treatments and provide more practical information about their use for patients and practitioners.  “Clinical outcome,” “comparative effectiveness” and “systems-based” studies are types of research that are better suited for investigating the healing ability of the body and the effect of homeopathic treatment.

 

Having said all that, homeopathy has been shown to be effective in plenty of RCTs.

 

“Homeopathy is woo-woo, magic, quackery and pseudo-science.”

We cite the famous quote from thinker and science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” That is to say, to people who don’t understand the technology behind a process, or have not tested it empirically enough to know it is reliable, it appears to be magic.

These statements are attempts on the part of the detractors/denialists, who want to shut down homeopathy, to discredit and associate homeopathy with unscientific ideas.  Throughout its history, those with a vested interest in conventional medicine have sought to discredit homeopathy out of economic self-interest.  (See this page; for detail, read Divided Legacy by Coulter, Harris.)  That pattern continues today all over the world.  The technique is to repeat certain words and phrases repeatedly (e.g., “there is no evidence for homeopathy”) hoping they will stick in people’s minds, creating a negative impression.

 

Homeopathy is a complete medical system, based on principles of holism and the scientific laws of nature.  It has a 200-year history, a significant body of confirming research and hundreds of millions of people using it all over the world. It is part of the public health care systems of many nations in Europe, South America and Asia, and part of public health precautions in Cuba.

 

Homeopathy is dangerous because sick people will delay getting the medical treatment that they need and will die.”

Beware scaremongering, too.

 

1.  Homeopathy is not exclusive and can be used along with conventional and other complementary medical treatments.  There is no need for a patient to choose one over the other.

 

2. It is a common tactic by the detractors, when their other arguments against homeopathy fail, to infer that patients are gullible, have poor judgment and are unable to decide properly about the health treatments they want.  In fact, patients have the right to choose treatments, and spend much time researching both conventional and integrative health options, making choices based on their own needs and wishes. The homeopathic community fully supports them in doing so.


“There is no need for homeopathy because people have evidence-based conventional medical treatment to use.”

Sadly, “evidence-based medicine”–an excellent idea, in our view–has been corrupted into a buzzword that the homeopathy opponents use to attempt to discredit homeopathy and other alternative treatments.  “Evidence-based” means that data from randomized controlled studies is claimed to give certainty about whether a treatment will work and is safe. In fact, 66 per cent of the treatment procedures and drugs that are popularly used in conventional medicine have no or little evidence to recommend them.  (British Medical Journal, 2007: see this page.)  Many procedures have serious complications and many drugs cause difficult unwanted effects.  These situations drive people to search for less harmful, health promoting alternatives, such as homeopathy.

 

“Homeopathic remedies are unsafe.”

Often said by the same people who claim they are nothing but water, this statement is false. Current studies show that homeopathic remedies are unquestionably safe. (Thompson, Homeopathy:2004). Homeopathy has been widely used to save lives in epidemics.  Millions of people in Cuba are now routinely given homeopathic remedies as a preventative in Cuba, with no serious adverse effects reported (Bracho, Homeopathy 2010, and personal communication). Possibly the best proof that homeopathic remedies are safe has been furnished by groups of anti-homeopathy detractors swallowing entire bottles of pills as a media stunt.  The homeopathic community appreciates their work in raising public awareness of homeopathy’s safety.

 

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