Thoughts on the world, homeopathy, mindfulness and food...
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"Homeopathy is a threat to public health and confuses people about vaccinations"
Said The Mirror, yesterday, 16th January 2020. I’m tired of these articles, pushing half-baked stories, lies and more and decided today was the perfect time to share some information to counter the nonsense here. The Mirror article can be seen here and below I’ve copied then underlined their text and responded with comments of my own, using online resources so should exploration of my references be of interest, it’s easy to do. I’ve commented after the relevant paragraphs so it’s easy to follow the text – I hope!
Homeopathy may be based on eccentric principles(1) and be ineffective according to medical standards(2) – but there are many people who believe in it(3).
1 – The principles of homeopathy are not eccentric. You could look at the fact they date back to ancient Greek philosophy (as do some ‘modern medical’ principles) or perhaps look at the fact that many modern medical practices are adopting principles from homeopathy in their pursuit of better treatment. Such as using the homeopathic law of ‘like cures like’ in their treatment of ADHD with Ritalin, a stimulant. Or ‘the minimum dose’ in their treatment of allergies such as peanuts with tiny, tiny amounts of peanuts.
If you wanted to look in more depth, Dr Manish Bhatia tells more.
2 – This one is brilliant. How many times does this statement get banded around? Do you know how many RCTs (the medical standard ‘Gold Standard’ of tests for some) of homeopathy in trials showed a positive result? Perhaps you’d think maybe none reading this article. The HRI website tells us that, by the end of 2014, 189 randomised controlled trials of homeopathy on 100 different medical conditions had been published in peer-reviewed journals1. Of these, 104 papers were placebo-controlled and were eligible for detailed review. In fact, 41% were positive (43 trials) finding that homeopathy was effective, 5% were negative (5 trials) finding that homeopathy was ineffective and 54% were inconclusive (56 trials).
Of the conventional medical group? All of them? No. In fact an analysis of 1016 systematic reviews of RCTs of conventional medicine had strikingly similar findings: 44% were positive the treatments were likely to be beneficial, 7% were negative the treatments were likely to be harmful and 49% were inconclusive, the evidence did not support either benefit or harm. There's more on that here if you want it.
(3) Believe in it - or use it because it works? Over 100 million Europeans use homeopathy, and similar numbers of people in India. Global estimates are that over 300 million people use homeopathy around the world. Is that because it’s effective one may wonder?
It doesn’t seem to bother them that no homeopathic remedy has ever been shown to have a provable clinical effect (4). Or that responsible doctors think they’re dangerous and prevent people from having proven treatments that would help them(5).
4 – Hopefully I’ve partially answered that above. However, whilst I’m here, a recent randomised placebo-controlled trial (details again from HRI - link below) assessed the efficacy of individualised homeopathic treatment, and the efficacy of Fluoxetine (a.k.a Prozac), for moderate to severe depression in menopausal women.
Both treatments were found to be safe and to have an effect significantly different from placebo. Homeopathy caused greater clinical improvement in symptoms of depression than fluoxetine and also improved the patients’ menopausal symptoms, whereas fluoxetine did not.
Again, please read (and other high quality studies showing the positive effects of homeopathy) here if you’d like.
5 – There are a group of highly responsible doctors working as homeopathic GPs, homeopathic doctors and are seeing positive clinical results with homeopathy. Dr David Reilly in his randomised, double blind, placebo controlled BMJ published study states: The objective results reinforce earlier evidence that homoeopathic dilutions differ from placebo. More on that here.
Indeed in 2003 the Bristol Homeopathic Hospital study (of 6,500 people, not a tiny study by any standard) found that over 70% of people seeking homeopathic help had improved after treatment. Many had been down conventional routes, including specialist referral before using homeopathy. You can discover more for yourself here.
Oh, they do have an effect on about one third of people susceptible to the placebo effect(6).
6 – I refer you to the above. Life is too short for too much repetition here.
But unlikely homeopathic beliefs such as treating illnesses with water that has “memory”(7) has led the head of the NHS , Simon Stevens, to ask the health service Professional Standards Authority (PSA) to drop the Society of Homeopaths from its official register of professional organisations(8).
He believes its inclusion sends a false message to patients that homeopathic remedies are as safe and effective as clinically-tested medicines(9).
7 – Clearly this is a big one to discuss and my aim is to make this readable and easy so I’m not diving in for hours to talk about it. Should you rather do that, I can direct you to the Water Conference, held annually where far cleverer people than me discuss science that is further above my head than I dare think about. Utterly fascinating stuff though. Also this is worth a read too. My feeling is this isn’t a theory to dismiss. If you’re short on time, Professor Gerald Pollack's was one of my favourite talks from ‘The Science, The Evidence’ conference recently. There’s a report on the whole day here which may also be of interest. As far as I can see, the science on this one is far from settled.
8 – Old news. This was being circulated months ago. Why is this even being presented as ‘news’?
9 – Sometimes I think they can be far safer. And at times more effective. I’ve patients who’ve been on antidepressants for years and now no longer need to take them. Or people on pain meds that they no longer need. Or off their drugs for diabetes thanks to homeopathy. For less anecdotal evidence, I refer you to the recent news article published last week: You may not be surprised to see statins on there, I was surprised by the extremity of the side effects, and the effects found of paracetamol also shocked me. I would love to see more on the data of ‘clinically tested medicines’ too, especially when making these sweeping statements. I think there is much the public are not being made aware of. .
The BMJ published chart here shows that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be at times. Sometimes I worry about those “safe and effective clinically-tested medicines”.
NHS chief executive Mr Stevens also warns that some practitioners are pushing ineffective “homeopathic vaccines” which leave patients exposed to deadly diseases such as measles(10). In a letter urging the PSA not to re-accredit the society in its annual review, he says he has “serious concerns” about the society’s inclusion because the practice of homeopathy remains “fundamentally flawed”(11).
10 – Despite being a homeopath for over 12 years, and met many international and national homeopaths through conferences, teaching days and work, I know of no one who is ‘pushing’ anything. This article is merely using an agenda, to try and associate homeopaths and vaccination, which are clearly 2 separate topics. If you need to, the 4Homeopathy position on this is here.
11 – I refer you to all the links above. He gives no worthwhile evidence for this claim.
His intervention adds weight to experts who are calling for an improved uptake of childhood immunisations(12).
12 – Again, a separate issue and to refer you back to the conventional medical world, a BMJ article: Lack of access is still the main factor hindering vaccine coverage and must not be overlooked in the fight to increase uptake. This was the message delivered at the first ever global vaccine summit, co-hosted by the European Commission and World Health Organization. Not a tiny amount of homeopaths working in the UK. It’s utterly ridiculous to even try and suggest this.
Two years ago the NHS told GPs to stop prescribing homeopathic remedies, claiming they were a “misuse of resources”(13).
13 – Do you know why some GPs prescribe homeopathic remedies? It’s because they work.
Mr Stevens is also concerned many homeopaths are peddling anti-vaccine myths to patients and encouraging the use of their own unproven “vaccines”.
He says: “This is a vital issue at a time when there is a rise of misinformation about vaccines – some of which are apparently promoted by homeopaths – and which poses a significant danger to human health.”(14)
14 – I refer you to point 12 above. Access. Not homeopaths.
The Society of Homeopathy’s official stance on vaccinations is that homeopaths shouldn’t advise patients against the use of jabs, as this would be “unethical”.
But some clearly frighten people enough to become vaccine-hesitant, a dangerous practice where parents and children are affected.
The PSA, which reviews the accreditation of all organisations on its register every 12 months, said it would not comment on any “live cases” involving “applications under assessments”.
But Michael Marshall, of pro-science charity Good Thinking, said: “Any organisation or any practitioner who is spreading anti-vax myths is particularly dangerous right now(15).
15 – I would suggest that any organisation or person who is spreading anti-homeopathy myths is particularly dangerous right now – there are so many drugs out there with so many side effects and so much potential in this gentle, natural medicine. There are people in need of help – not just from more suppressive drug regimes.
“There’s no such thing as an effective homeopathic vaccine – so for homeopaths to advocate them leaves patients criminally vulnerable to potentially fatal infections like measles.”(16)
16 – I would also suggest that no one is suggesting a homeopathic vaccine. This article is recycled nonsense in my point of view. I hope some of the links and comments above have been of interest.
Thanks for reading. Em
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.