Thoughts on the world, homeopathy, mindfulness and food...
A collection of blog posts - feel free to respond with your thoughts and comments - I love to have feedback - thank you!
The Times view on the Society of Homeopaths withdrawing from the watchdog’s list of healthcare providers: Beyond the Fringe
Campaigners for good science have scored a victory against homeopathy
Monday August 16 2021, 12.01am, The Times
Campaigners for good science are serving the public interest by exposing the bogus methods of homeopathy
Really?? Serving the public interest by dismissing a system of medicine that helps by reducing dependency on pharmaceutical interventions? I was with a pharmacist friend of mine today who told me it's shocking the amount of medication some of her clients are on, and the more she learns, the more she wants to get them off the meds (and is frequently able to do so). Frequently patients are able to reduce medication or handle side effects better when using homeopathy. What public interest is there in removing that?
The pandemic has cost millions of lives and spread immense hardship. It does not make light of this disaster to observe that it might have been far worse but for the efforts of scientists. Researchers managed, in little more than a year, to independently develop several vaccines to a novel coronavirus whose origins even now are hotly debated.
Yes. Well done scientists. But seriously anything to do with this article?
The procedures that scientists follow, by experiment and the accumulation of evidence, are vital to health and wellbeing. And the medical profession has a particular responsibility to ensure that treatments that pass no scientific test are clearly marked as such. It is a victory for science and sense that an organisation called the Society of Homeopaths has withdrawn from a register of healthcare providers kept by the government health watchdog, the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).
I refer you back to the blog before this one where the pie chart is shown from the industry. It makes interesting viewing when read in association with the above paragraph.
The society was given accreditation by the PSA in 2014, but this was suspended in January after the rules were amended to include a public interest test. The test was designed to assess whether the evidence in favour of a form of treatment outweighed the risks of administering it. The society says that it is withdrawing because the fees of registration with the PSA are too high. Regardless of the motive, its decision helps dispel any public confusion between the treatments devised by medical science and the superstitious nostrums that are sold under the label of homeopathy. No one seeks to shut down homeopaths from practising, but public authorities have a duty to tell the truth about their methods and remedies.
I do really love this latest sentence. The Good Thinking Society, if you take a look at their campaigns, certainly seem hell-bent on this mission. And as to truth, agreed - but how many of us have the slightest idea on so many things. Referring to the blog above again. Reading this you wouldn't think also that until very recently no one could tell you how anaesthesia worked, just that it did. Or also that there are plenty of medics - doctors, nurses, as well as pharmacists, who've found their way into working with homeopathy.
Whereas modern medicine is generally held to date from the second half of the 19th century, with the germ theory of disease, homeopaths trace their inspiration to the theories of one Samuel Hahnemann at the end of the 18th century. He hypothesised that a substance that produced symptoms similar to an ailment could cure that ailment, and that this effect could be amplified by heavily diluting the substance. There is no evidence in support of this theory. Homeopathic remedies have no active substance and, if they have any benefit at all, it is as a placebo. Placebos are dummy medicines which may have a therapeutic effect in providing psychological reassurance to a patient.
Well... another brilliant paragraph. There's lots to address here. Dr Samuel Hahnemann was indeed the inspiration behind homeopathy. In terms of like curing like, I believe that one went back to Paracelsus, Shakespeare also discusses the concept in one of his plays, and modern medicine is working with the like cures like theory in several ways - e.g. Ritalin, a stimulant for use in people experiencing ADHD, others self medicated with coffee, another stimulant. Peanuts to help alleviate peanut allergy is another interesting one.
Heavily diluting the substance - here in homeopathy, we need the succussion as well - the shaking of the substances too. It's fair to say it sounds a little crazy, until you start to look at the evidence, and those in support of the evidence, ranging again from the everyday homeopath, the mum who sees it working before her eyes, the child who observes the instant changes in a sick dog after a remedy was administered, to the medics, to the Nobel Prize winners who are experimenting with it. And seeing that heavily diluted is not nothing.
Placebo is an effect with everything - but the placebo effect is recorded as being around 30%. In trials homeopathy has shown around a 70% improvement rate. Showing it either to be more than doubly as good as 'normal placebo' or perhaps, maybe, errrr not placebo.
That is all that can be said in favour of homeopathy. It is not nothing, but neither is it medical science in any recognisable form. Nor are its methods as harmless as this description suggests.
The PSA’s public interest test was prompted by a legal challenge brought by a pressure group called the Good Thinking Society. The society sought a judicial review of the homeopaths’ registration. The challenge came none too soon. It brought attention to the fact that some members of the Society of Homeopaths had offered a form of therapy based on the entirely fallacious notion that vaccinations cause autism. The purported research behind this claim is now known to have been fraudulent, and its author, Andrew Wakefield, was struck off the medical register as a result.
Clunky. Some big twists of facts here. There's probably far too much to go into here - Andrew Wakefield, for all my research on the topic, never said that. But it's convenient - read lazy - to say so time and again, and then people start to believe it. Even during recent times my daughter had a text from her uncle to a family group chat saying it's time to remember Andrew Wakefield and the nonsense he talked. He probably was unaware of the actual research Wakefield did, which may have had issues with how it was conducted, he would, and has, said so himself, but which never drew these particular conclusions. Still, repeat a lie enough and it becomes fact, right?
Campaigners for good science are serving the public interest by exposing the bogus methods of homeopathy. However, with the many celebrity supporters that homeopathy attracts (and these famously include the heir to the throne), science is blind to social distinctions and to fame. Its methods are the best hope humans have of understanding the universe and overcoming the threats to human welfare.
Science, to my awareness, is about questioning, challenging, stretching our knowledge, not writing something off because we don't get it yet. Surely we should dive into it and find out more? Seeing changes occur within seconds, as was a recent experience with our pug X dog's eye and a dose of Euphrasia and Silica 30c is utterly remarkable and I'd love for science to be able to explain it to me fully. What I could do is write it off as placebo. But on a dog? Really? Some would say that I felt better because I'd done something about it, and that energy passed onto her*. I can assure you I've given enough incorrect remedy matches to see that placebo ain't all that's going on here.
*I can also say if that's the case then WTF - why aren't we investigating that one?!
If you're curious, it's worth checking out the Homeopathy Research Institute website, there are many scientists around the world both in support of homeopathy and researching it. I certainly think there are exciting discoveries to come.
I believe the best ways to understand the universe may not be to divide, to remove but perhaps to investigate this area with curiosity as Nobel Prize winners such as Brian Josephson, who won his award after research he did at age 22, or Luc Montagnier who discovered HIV. Have a read more about theirs, and other fascinating scientist's work here.
And listen, for goodness sake, listen to patients who have got better. Again and again using it. And who want to access it through the NHS, want to have it integrated as a part of their health service, want to look after themselves with integrated ways. Integrative medicine, including homeopathy. Not to pressure groups who seem to have created their own mission to get rid of this gentle, effective medicine.
I debated whether I wanted to write this blog. Initially I felt strongly that was what i wanted to do, to look at the drivel (my opinion of course) printed and examine each point, sharing what I believe to be facts, grounded - yes, in science. Or was it a case of 'yesterday's news, today's chip papers'? I know they usually come in those irritating polystyrene boxes now but you get the concept. Anyway, the fact you're here, as I am means I swung back to my original position. I hope I can do it credit but there is such nonsense shared that it does make me want to chat about my experience, but not just what I've seen, what's taken place in laboratory settings, clinical settings and more.
Italics is The Times, plain type is me.
Victory for campaigners as homeopaths quit healthcare watchdog
Rhys Blakely, Science Correspondent
Monday August 16 2021, 12.01am, The Times
Homeopathy is based on the notion that water retains a “memory” of ingredients that have been dissolved in it.
That could be one theory of it all. And indeed, should you be interested, the memory of water theory, backed by Nobel Prize winners such as Luc Montagnier (Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovery of HIV), is one theory. There are others. Nanoparticles as a concept is coming through as a topic of great interest in the scientific community. Probably until someone mentions homeopathy, then they run screaming... Should you be interested in more, take a look at the Homeopathy Research Institute site, in particular their talks from conferences. Interested in water? The Water Conference has many speakers from many fields of academia. It's not one to watch as you chop the veg for dinner - or at least not for me - I tried it, but have to really concentrate! An A level in Biology, Chemistry and Physics and Scientific degree in no way prepared me for the depth here!
The largest organisation for homeopaths has withdrawn from the register of healthcare providers accredited by Professional Standards Agency.
The Society of Homeopaths (SOH), which has 1,000 members, had been accredited by the PSA, the government’s healthcare watchdog, since 2014.
It decided to withdraw from the register after the rules of the accreditation scheme were changed to include a new public interest test. This weighs up whether the evidence for the benefits of any treatments outweigh any risks.
The society insisted that it was withdrawing because the PSA fees had become too expensive.
He said, she said. Who knows. But interesting for me to see about the benefits of treatment outweighing any risks. The chart produced by British Journal of Medicine’s handbook, Clinical Evidence – as orthodox a medical publication as you can hope to find on the planet, shines a light on medicine overall in terms of risks and benefits. Most haven't seen this before - funny that.
Large scale studies have shown benefits of homeopathy - and often at a lesser cost, and needing less pharmaceutical interventions. Could this be a reason it's not so popular? The EPI3 studies are worth a look at should you be interested to see further. 1, 2, 3.
Homeopathy is based on the notion that water retains a “memory” of ingredients that have been dissolved in it. Advocates, including the Prince of Wales, believe that the water can treat a variety of ailments.
Well, not so much the water as the pharmaceutically prepared medications. Prepared in a particular way, which I don't want to make sound too much like Harry Potter - but if you just pop something in water, no, it's not homeopathic. No one is claiming it is.
It has been shown that the successions of the material are relevant. Not everyone will want to explore this further, but for the science geeks out there (btw I salute you!), it may be of interest to see discover Dr Maria Olga Kokornaczyk, whose paper "Impact of succussion on pharmaceutical preparations analyzed by means of patterns from evaporated droplets" was the second most downloaded Chemistry paper in Nature journal's Scientific Reports through 2020. If you want a look it's here. Can I just say again. Nature. Not the piddly diddly journal of woo. I imagine dear writer, the author of this Times article, perhaps hadn't read that one.
And here, if you're intrigued - a wee video:
A scientific study, led by a Swiss research group, showed homeopathic arsenic to be more effective for treating poisoned duckweed than water alone. Full Text: “Effects of Homeopathic Arsenicum Album, Nosode, and Gibberellic Acid Preparations on the Growth Rate of Arsenic-Impaired Duckweed (Lemna gibba L.)” Tim Jäger, Claudia Scherr, Meinhard Simon, Peter Heusser and Stephan Baumgartner http://bit.ly/homeopathy-works
Nobel Prize winner Professor Luc Montagnier - who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine, for his discovery of HIV, discusses the water theory here.
Many other scientists, serious researchers and more are investigating this. We can keep ridiculing it - it's quite easy, and some may find it fun - but really - I think you'd be amazed if you started to look deeper at this substance we almost all take for granted.
The Good Thinking Society, a campaign group that promotes rational scepticism, claimed a victory after the withdrawal, arguing that there is no evidence that such remedies work.
Oh. Where to even begin. If you've not watched the videos above, have a watch now.
I guess I could waste my entire life arguing with certain people. And how they even came up with that name. Something like 'denying people access to something that works and isn't quite fully understood yet' society, could be perhaps more accurate.
The "Good Thinking Society are not without agenda, they are like this with every single alternative therapy. They want the pure drug approach. In my opinion, the drug approach is great. Until it isn't. Until you run out of options, or as in our case, the options cause harm - and you run out of options. How many come off medications due to finding alternatives? Quite a lot - when they know about them. We met a chap in the river the other day who, with dietary changes and cold water swimming, had come off 5 of his 7 medications. And was so happy about it. There are many options out there, gradually being taken away from individuals. For no positive reason.
But still, kicking away the soap box, there are more worthwhile ways to spend my time. There is evidence on top of evidence that homeopathic remedies work. Lab, clinical and real world experience. There may not be a defining 'how' it works. I won't argue with that. My feeling is we'll be there in another 5-10 years, perhaps sooner, but that it works, I have no question. I do love the mentions of it that say, we can't understand how it works so clearly it can't.
I honestly can't tell you how my car works, much as I love it with its big sunroof. Or remember how the light appears after I flick the switch on the wall. And I'm always amazed to hear we've only just discovered the mechanism of how anaesthesia works. But we've been using it for years I hear you cry. Yes.
The PSA registration rules changed after Good Thinking brought a judicial review in 2019 of the authority’s decision to accredit the SOH. Good Thinking had argued that practitioners who offer unproven therapies should not be accredited. It had also highlighted how some SOH members had offered Cease therapy — a supposed cure for autism that relies on the debunked idea that it can be caused by vaccinations.
Cure for is something no one is talking about. Improvement of the person's health, whatever they are experiencing, is an aim for the homeopath. Who knows what cure is? Our horse, who'd been on steroid injections and anti-inflammatories for several years, was deteriorating in health due to the meds and we were told removal of her eye could be a next logical step. Seeking instead homeopathic treatment, her eye disease never returned again. We were told she was in remission by the conventional vets (those who wished to take out her eye as it was the only way to be relieved of her eye disease). That remission lasted the rest of her life. Cure? Who cares. She got better and remained that way.
Cease stands for Complete Elimination of Autistic Spectrum Expression. Often targeted at children, the therapy includes homeopathic treatments, extremely high doses of vitamin C and dietary restrictions.
In March last year the PSA imposed conditions in effect banning SOH members from practising Cease therapy and making any claims regarding vaccination. Its accreditation was suspended in January.
CEASE has been a challenge to many - and probably the name isn't great - albeit my belief is that it was never a promise, more an aim. "Targeted at children" is an interesting phrase, mostly children who were struggling with symptoms of autism whose parents wanted to help could be more explanatory. CEASE also was way bigger than just vaccination - which really was a tiny aspect, but has been blown up by those wanting to negatively associate homeopathy and homeopaths with this area. I think it's always more interesting to go back to base and see what something is about from the horse's mouth, instead of those with interests to decimate something. Their website has several blogs from parents - not practitioners - who explain their experiences using CEASE.
Michael Marshall, project director of Good Thinking, said: “When we first brought our legal challenge in 2019, we argued that the PSA’s logo is used by therapists as a sign that they are competent, trustworthy and safe, but that the logo and the accreditation scheme only carries any meaning if the PSA takes seriously their duty to protect the public from harmful practices.”
If I'm entirely honest here, I'm not sure that I would ever seek out a PSA therapist - or at least not strive to do so - most of my patients find me through word of mouth - their friend or family member has been helped and they wish to see if homeopathy can help them. The logo doesn't fill me with confidence for any practitioner, mainstream or alternative. I want a practitioner who has studied, who understands health and dis-ease and can work with me. A logo doesn't make a difference to that. And not one that can be so distorted by negative thinking.
He said he hoped the new rules would prevent “practitioners of unproven or disproven therapies from receiving the tacit endorsement of the government’s healthcare regulator”.
Can I refer you back to the conventional medical 'pie chart' here? But also - the 'government's healthcare regulator', when searching what does PSA stand for, it doesn't come into the 258 acronyms listed on the free dictionary of acronyms. There is however, the Penguin Secret Agency (a gaming clan).
Which isn't to say the PSA doesn't exist, but if I surveyed my friends, I doubt any, aside from those involved in homeopathy would ever have heard of them. So to make a huge fuss over what a small agency has done is particularly interesting.
An SOH spokeswoman said the society and its members had put “tremendous efforts” into addressing the PSA’s concerns.
“Following the suspension of our accreditation in January 2021, we said we would take time to consider both the authority’s report and our own position,” she said. “This has since been superseded by the authority’s review of its own accreditation scheme and fee structure in the light of the proposed withdrawal of its government funding
There's no point in saying that I'd never have chosen to have joined the PSA - which I didn't, but at this stage that's like shutting the door after the horse has bolted I guess. Hindsight is great. But I do think it's important we look at what are we trying to achieve going forwards. In future, not to be paying money to a government organisation who doesn't understand us. Doesn't understand what we offer and what we do. And can be so readily influenced by those who actively wish to discredit us. With all due respect to the Society of Homeopaths, who I believe acted with all good intent, and what they felt to be the right thing, I think we have to get into bed with more authentic characters in future. Or sleep alone.
1 Homeopathic medical practice for anxiety and depression in primary care: the EPI3 cohort study
2 Utilization of psychotropic drugs by patients consulting for sleeping disorders in homeopathic and conventional primary care settings: the EPI3 cohort study
3 Management of upper respiratory tract infections by different medical practices, including homeopathy, and consumption of antibiotics in primary care: the EPI3 cohort study in France 2007-2008
I'm a Homeopath working in the Skipton (North Yorkshire) area. I am also able to offer food intolerance testing using Kinesiology and advice around diet and lifestyle.