You'd have to destroy my trust in my ND first, before you made any headway in convincing me of anything here. She's got excellent qualifications in CAM and has helped many people over many years, including me. She never prescribes homeopathic remedies alone; she actually despises "classical homeopathy" as much as a drug-based approach to healing. And she's never prescribed one for me. But if she did, I would try it.
This is what you are facing here: people's personal relationships with those who heal them. Dissecting studies here does not make a whit of difference, you're correct. I know the bias you bring to the dissection and other people may have different but equally valid interpretations.
Do you understand that a homeopathic "medication" is nothing but water?
Do I understand that it is likely that a homeopathic preparation does not contain a single molecule of anything but water? Yes.
Is it "nothing but water"? A scientist would say so. The original idea was that the "memory" of the substance is retained in the water. Like I said, I haven't looked into it and I don't know enough to be able to comment knowledgeably. However, as you are well aware, I believe that there are potentially many aspects about the world we live in that are waiting to be discovered. We don't know it all. Maybe we don't even know it all about water.
If it works, it works. What's the deal?
Are you going to continue with this "But they believe it too!" nonsense?
You mean the majority of people, even doctors, aren't always right? Are you sure that's what you want to be saying to me?
I'm not going to defend homeopathy here with the same vigour that I've defended things elsewhere, because I agree that it sounds highly improbable. My mind says it's complete nonsense. However, I also trust my ND. Homeopathy is a small part of what she does and she's never prescribed it for me. If she did, I would give her the benefit of the doubt and try it. There's no harm in it, it's not as if I'm hoping it's going to cure my cancer or mend a broken leg.
I've found a site called Water Structure and Science that appears to address many of the questions asked here. It looks to be well-referenced. I can't say I understand it all because I am not a chemist, but I am sure others here will have no trouble working all of it out. Would you like to have a look?
This is an interesting bank of resoucres which I'll be reading myself in coming days. It's called the National Center for Homeopathy. If you want, you can scroll down to the Peer Reviewed Journals section.
One reason I've read about why some homeopathy studies fail to show results. It's because they take one remedy at one potency and give it to all the people showing one same symptom. The remedy doesn't work for most and homeopathy is declared quack medicine.
But, the one of the first premises of homeopathy is that you do not treat one symptom, you treat the totality of symptoms. This would lead to choosing several different remedies for these people.
Homeopathy has been given to dogs and infants with good effects, and these are not prone to a placebo effect.
Prescribed well, I'd be happy to try it as an adjunct to other therapies.
Is Homeopathy a Placebo Response? Controlled Trial of Homeopathic Potency with Pollen in Hayfever as Model D. Reilly, M. Taylor, C. McSherry 18 October 1986
by D. Reilly
The double-blind study compared a high dilution homeopathic preparation of grass pollens against a placebo in 144 patients with active hay fever. The study method considered pollen counts, aggravation in symptoms and use of antihistamines and concluded that patients using homeopathy showed greater improvement in symptoms than those on placebo, and that this difference was reflected in a significantly reduced need for antihistamines among the homeopathically treated group. The results confirmed those of the pilot study and demonstrate that homeopathic potencies show effects distinct from those of the placebo.
Is Evidence for Homoeopathy Reproducible? D. Reilly, M. Taylor, N. Beattie, et al. 10 December 1994
by D. Reilly
This study successfully reproduced evidence from two previous double-blinded trials all of which used the same model of homeopathic immunotherapy in inhalant allergy. In this third study, 9 of 11 patients on homeopathic treatment improved compared to only 5 of 13 patients on placebo. The researchers concluded that either homeopathic medicines work or controlled studies don't. Their work has again be recently replicated and is submitted for publication. (See Is Homeopathy a Placebo Response? Lancet 1986.)
Treatment of Acute Childhood Diarrhea with Homeopathic Medicine: A Randomized Clinical Trial in Nicaragua J. Jacobs, L. Jimenez, S. Gloyd, 01 May 1994
by J. Jacobs
Pediatrics, May 1994, 93,5:719-25.
This study was the first on homeopathy to be published in an American medical journal. The study compared individualized high potency homeopathic preparations against a placebo in 81 children, between ages 6 mo. and 5 yrs., suffering with acute diarrhea. The treatment group benefited from a statistically significant 15% decrease in duration. The authors noted that the clinical significance would extend to decreasing dehydration and postdiarrheal malnutrition and a significant reduction in morbidity.
Is it science? No, not the way science is defined today. Homeopathy is energy medicine. No one ought to dispute that you can buy a homeopathic remedy that doesn't contain a single molecule of the diluted substance, that is simply a fact. The underlying assumption is what should be in question -- that in order to be effective, the remedy must have some degree of the original substance left in it. It does not. And again, you can argue "scientifically" til the cows come home that homeopathy is bunk, that it shouldn't work. And yet it does. There are even homeopathic NHS hospitals here in the UK; the government realises that it works.
What we should be discussing is not whether all these people are deluded, but what is going on here and how homeopathy works. Surely it's a topic worthy of more investigation, as are many things that are thrown out as "crank" notions. Me, I like being a crank.
Ah, I missed this. You guys are easy to wind up LOL. Not that this is what I'm trying to do. But my take on most things usually guarantees floods of posts here from people. That's why I don't come here unless I've got some time on my hands.
If you're trying to win a debate with me? It's a non-starter. I've already said that homeopathy, like other topics I've discussed here, does not fit with the definition of science that many here hold. That isn't to say that it can't be investigated by science. But science first has to accept that something exists to investigate, and some people seem to think that anything which does not fit the materialistic reductionist paradigm is delusional and therefore unfit for study.
There are studies on homeopathy which are negative. There are studies on vitamins which are negative. Most scientists don't investigate the paranormal in the first place because they don't accept that it exists -- or they know what will happen to their reputations if they try. Anyone with a closed mind, anyone from a pharmaceutical company who wants to eliminate some competition, etc etc can produce a negative study. What about all the people who attest that these things exist? Logically you can write them all off as being delusional, mistaken, victims of the placebo effect. Maybe this applies to some but I think it's insulting to humanity in general to lump them all in this category and tell them that they are wrong, every last person.
Science needs to establish that a positive effect from homeopathy exists, like Rupert Sheldrake is doing for telepathy, dogs who know their ownders are coming come, and the sense of being stared at. Then science needs to investigate how it works.
BTW, no one is sure how homeopathy does work, though there are plenty of ideas. This website talks a little about how water can be influenced by thought. I've read Dr. Emoto's book. He doesn't talk specifically about homeopathy, but he has been investigating properties of water. You'll probably think this this is total lunacy, but it's an enjoyable read.
Several people here have described and linked the results of several scientific studies, so let's dispense with the "science ignores what it doesn't believe in" arrow from the crackpot's standard quiver, shall we?
Just because some studies were done that show negative results? If I looked into this seriously, I would want to know who did the studies and what their interests were, who paid for the studies, and I'd want to read the studies themselves to discover the methodoligies, how subjects were selected, etc. All of these things are relevant and can affect results. For example, I am aware of a recent vitamin E study which counted the results of people who had dropped out of the study, in the final results, and then declared that vitamin E supplements are useless. I am aware of another one which used the synthetic form of vitamin E, DL-alpha tocopherol, and then declared a similar result. Most people with any knowledge of vitamins already know that DL-alpha-tocopherol is next to useless. So why use it in a study? Pure ignorance, a desire for a negative result, or what? It happens. Then when people like me claim that studies can be biased, we are written off as bitter conspiracy theorists.
And anyone whose mind is already made up regardless of the evidence can ignore any study they want to.
In other words, more people with closed minds. How about a mind which is open to unbiased inquiry? Surely that's what every scientist should aim for.
What about all the people who attest that bigfoot, Nessie, engrams, or UFOs really exist? Or those who believe in tarot, phrenology, palmistry or kinoki foot pads?
And why are all of these things written off as crackpot notions? No offense intended, but have you seriously looked into the evidence that exists for any of them? For example there is a lot of compelling evidence for the existence of a large unknown primate, sasquatch if you will, and there are reports from every state in the US except Hawaii, documented by researchers and made by people who include scientists, police and lawyers. I could link you to a very good site that discusses all of these things in a scientific manner. Surely when this kind of evidence exists, the least science can do it give it a nod and say that it's worth looking into.
The fact that people believe it is hardly proof that it's legitimate.
And what kind of proof are you after? Scientific proof? When scientists decide to investigate any of these things in a proper organised, well-funded way, let me know. At the moment from what I can see, these topics are laughed off as magic and superstition. Undeterred, people remain open to them and use them or study them if they appear to have legitimacy in their eyes. What's more, it's entirely possible that the usual gold standard randomised studies will never produce positive results for something like Tarot readings, and scientifically they could be dismissed as meaningless. Maybe there are some phenomena that do not yield their secrets so well in these kinds of trials. But I am beginning to imagine a lecture from Percy here, he and I have been over this before. It's possible he may decide that if I continue to call scientific methodology into question and use this to try to legitimise "magic," I might be looking at my walking orders from this forum.
So instead you lump together all the scientists who have tested homeopathic claims and all the rational people who have rejected homeopathic claims and tell us that we are wrong, every last person. What's the difference? To me, it's more insulting to say to those who have systematically investigated it that they were fools in doing so than to suggest that those who haven't systematically investigated it are fools for not doing so.
Does that mean that someone who uses homeopathy is "irrational"? Why? Wouldn't you use something that was safe and made you feel better, if that was what you discovered it seemed to do?
I'm not dismissing everyone who has done a negative study on homeopathy. But how many people have investigated it systematically? I would want to have much more knowledge at my fingertips in order to pass comment on these studies. For example, the vitamin E studies I mentioned. If I hadn't known that DL-tocopherol is useless as a supplement, and if I hadn't discovered that this was what was used in that study, I might have been puzzled by the results it claimed. I don't know as much about homeopathy as I know about vitamins.
At the end of the day, are we going to persuade each other? Probably not. But people will continue to do what works for them, whatever that may be.
Thank you for your polite response Granny. It makes a refreshing change from some other debates I've had here.
But is it not just as condescending, more so even, to dismiss the large numbers of clinical trials that basically prove homoeopathy to be bunk? There are quite a lot.
I've just addressed this point in my message to Subbie, if you'd care to have a look.
Just look at the current effort by physicists to detect the Higgs Boson. It has never been observed, so physicists are searching for it, despite the fact that they cannot know for certain that it really exists for them to find. So I hope you will agree that the above statement is false.
I'm afraid I don't. Quantum physics has existed as a branch of science for decades and the Higgs Boson was predicted in mathematical models. Scientists are hoping they will find this particle because it fits so theoretically well into the way they already understand the quantum world to work. They will be puzzled if they can't find evidence for its existence.
What really interests me is how science could accept something as mind-blowing as quantum physics. It's difficult, if not impossible, to imagine how it could be married with what we see in the day-to-day world. I think science has hardly begun to address this. Everything we see, made up of quarks? Uncertainty about whether we have a wave or a particle? Good heavens, they're even asking us to believe in this non-stuff called dark matter. And yet . . . homeopathy? Ghosts? The healing power of prayer? Bigfoot? These are dismissed as delusion? Maybe they are rejected in this way because they can't (to our knowledge) be mathematically modelled the way quantum physics can be.
I hope you realise that these two statements are contradictory.
Not necessarily. It depends on why these studies in homeopathy were done and why they were negative. I would want to find out more about them. Again, I've explained this in more detail to Subbie. And my point was that a materialistic reductionist, which describes much of the modern scientific establishment, would never consider homeopathy worthy of study to begin with. This can be seen in the claim that in order to have an effect, a homeopathic remedy must retain some of the original diluted substance. The idea of energy or memory somehow being transmitted in the water is dismissed out of hand.
Regarding the two studies you have linked. The first is from the Lancet, and its abstract begins like this: "Homoeopathy is widely used, but specific effects of homoeopathic remedies seem implausible." Just a tad biased from the start then?
The second link calls for "further high quality studies." I agree. Bring 'em on.
Just to let you know, I've had this alt med/scientific method discussion a hundred times over with people here. We're butting heads really. Forgive me for being a little tongue in cheek at times but I'm aware that the skeptics here see me as irrational, contradictory and gullible. I'm sorry about that and I happen not to agree, but I enjoy conversation here anyway and I've learned a lot from it, even if it's not necessarily what people here are hoping to teach me.
I am sorry but I am unable to abide by the rules here. Debating topics like homeopathy by attempting to state studies is impossible. I believe there are different ways of approaching a discussion of a subject like homeopathy and that the way to the truth of something like this lies in the approach we take. What I am being asked to do is to state that I realise that most studies of homeopathy show negative results, that pure water cannot have any effect other than placebo, and that people who state otherwise are deluded and irrational. If I disagree I have to go to a separate thread and explain why. This doesn't work for me so I think I'm going to have to find another place to talk.
Buzsaw I only recently noticed that you popped by Herb Allure. I left you a PM there.