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12:31 AM on 10/21/2009
I have seen constitutional homeopathic care erase all symptoms of seasonal allergies. See a homeopath for constitutional care; you also may be pleasantly surprised at its benefits!
Man From Atlan
10:21 PM on 10/20/2009
"When evaluating all four trials together (there were 253 patients in all of their clinical trials), there was a 28 percentimprovement in homeopathic subjects versus a 3 percent improvement in placebo subjects"
So homoeopathy was 9x times more effective than placebo, yet the 'faith based' skeptical community says that
a) all placebos are based on the power of suggestion-shouldn't the RESULTS BE THE SAME THEN?
b) the only valid studies are the ones that 'prove' the placebo effect?
Talk about your 'scientific' fallacies.
12:08 AM on 10/21/2009
The scientific community does not accept homeopathy because studies have not been sufficiently reproduced by independent skeptical researchers and because the level of evidence is no where near sufficient to justify the extraordinary claims associated with homeopathy.

If homeopathy were true then there would have to be something seriously wrong with our understanding of chemistry and physics.

Matter does not appear to work the way homeopaths claim. Homeopaths have to provide evidence sufficient to show that things just don't work the way physical scientists believe. Until they do that it is quite reasonable for people to be highly skeptical of homeopathy.
10:00 AM on 10/21/2009
There is some sort of researcher bias going on here, not necessarily on purpose, you have to do a properly controlled experiment, because of human nature and the way we notice things we are looking for and ignore things we are not focused on, we get it wrong. Duplicate the studies under controls, win Nobel Prize.

Apply scientific conditions to physics, faith healers, etc, nothing is going on there either.

Plus, according to the definition of "C" dilution, there isn't even a single molecule of the substance there. I repeat, there is no underlying physical plausibility for it to work.
02:47 PM on 10/20/2009
Thanks Dana for creating this blog! First and foremost I am frankly tired of the skeptics who have never seen a professional homeopath and taken a constitutional homeopathic remedy before. Who cares how it works if it works? One simply cannot comment on something they haven't experienced or even tried.....homeopathy does work, period.... in fact it works spectacularly. I can't wait to read the next blog!!
02:58 PM on 10/20/2009
I've never jumped of the Golden Gate Bridge before, but I feel pretty confident that it's a bad idea.
09:47 PM on 10/20/2009
Ummm exactly how does jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge compare to homeopathy? Homeopathy can't kill you but I'm pretty sure jumping off a bridge might, not a very smart analogy!!!!
Man From Atlan
10:24 PM on 10/20/2009
I don't know how gravity works either, but know I will go splat,
I don't know how homoeopathy works (I have a hypothesis) but I've observed its effects, and so have millions of others, so I know it works.
Not until I see the holes of the nails....
03:06 PM on 10/20/2009
You _can_ comment on something you haven't experienced or even tried! I have never experienced nor tried jumping off a cliff, but I am convinced without trying it that it would be bad for me. Show me a plausible mechanism of action, and I'll listen, I really will. I accept that you believe what you say, but it's not a reason for _me_ to believe what you say.
Many have tried homoeopathy and believe it works, but it is quite possible to get there without thething you believe in being verifiable; billions of people have believed that they will go to heaven, but no-one has ever come back and told us about it. Verifiably anyway
03:59 PM on 10/20/2009
Thank you for the comment and as far as those who have been so vitrolic against it without having really investigated it in any detail- Well, though many people do not try things or don't believe they work except they don't throw such vitriol.

You might be surprised to learn that many who take homeopathic remedies and have benefited from it believe firmly in the benefits of science as well.
06:20 PM on 10/20/2009
Okay.... What's the plausible mechanism of action for asprin? And we do know the mechanism for allergies. As Ullman says, homeopathy works the same way.
11:48 AM on 10/20/2009
"The FDA has advised consumers to stop using Matrixx Initiatives' Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gel marketed over-the-counter as a cold remedy because it is associated with the loss of sense of smell (anosmia) that may be long-lasting or permanent. ...about 130 consumers have reported a loss of smell after using the homeopathic cure containing zinc, an ingredient scientists say may damage nerves in the nose needed for smell and health officials say they have asked Matrixx executives to turn over more than 800 consumer complaints concerning lost smell that the company has on file. 'Loss of the sense of smell is potentially life-threatening and may be permanent,' said Dr. Charles Lee....The FDA said the remedy was never formally approved because it is part of a small group of remedies known as homeopathic products that are not required to undergo federal review before launching. The global market for homeopathic drugs is about $200 million per year, according to the American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists. Matrixx has settled hundreds of lawsuits connected with Zicam in recent years, but says it 'will seek a meeting with the FDA to vigorously defend its scientific data, developed during more than 10 years of experience with the products, demonstrating their safety.'"
12:28 PM on 10/20/2009
My dear mrsLambert, I was just wondering why a skeptic had not brought up Zicam!

So sorry to tell you, but Zicam is NOT a homeopathic medicine for two reasons:

1) it contains benzylkonium chloride (used in detergents, spermicides and fungicides) and benzyl alcohol (associated with neonatal deaths)

Homeopathic remedies NEVER contain anything but the potentized natural substance in a carrier of sucrose or lactose

2) the zinc in Zicam was NOT prepared in accordance with homeopathic standards and is nothing more than the usual 10% preparation.

Homeopathic remedies are prepared using specific standards of dilution and succussion so that most potencies do not contain "even one molecule of material" as skeptics love to point out. Skeptics also love to claim that homeopathy has no side effects because it has no active ingredient and does nothing. Now you want to take advantage of Zicam's misadventure by using it to "prove" homeopathy is harmful. You can't have it both ways, now, can you?

In this part of the country Zicam has since stopped advertising its products as homeopathic on it packaging.

Clearly, you have no knowledge of homeopathy whatsoever. You can google any of the facts I have noted to substantiate them for yourself.
12:41 PM on 10/20/2009
In other words, if it were a true homeopathic drug, it couldn't possibly have any side effects because it would be water.
12:58 PM on 10/20/2009
All this talk made me want to post a warning for people who may have believed Zicam was safe. My own daughter, a professor at a University, had been taking it and hadn't even noticed that it said homeopathic on the box. It presented itself as an OTC drug that a normal person would assume had passed the FDA's review.

From the article:
"The FDA said the remedy was never formally approved because it is part of a small group of remedies known as homeopathic products that are not required to undergo federal review before launching."

You said:
"Homeopathic remedies are prepared using specific standards of dilution and succussion so that most potencies do not contain "even one molecule of material" as skeptics love to point out. Skeptics also love to claim that homeopathy has no side effects because it has no active ingredient and does nothing."

Is there some sort of "FDA" that reviews homeopathic medicines to be sure they are prepared correctly and are indeed safe? IOW how can I be sure that the box that says homeopathic on it is safe for me to take?

Are skeptics correct that there are no side effects? It would seem that if people are experiencing effects to homeopathic medicines, then they might also have side effects.
Do homeopathic medicines interfere with conventional medications?
Man From Atlan
11:42 AM on 10/20/2009
I had allergies as a child which only homoeopathy helped alleviate. In my 30's i developed a severe reaction to driveway sealant and lost 40% of lung capacity. Was on inhalers and steroids, gained 40 pounds and High Blood Pressure, and still would end up in hospital with severe allergic reactions.
An M.D. used homoeopathic injections to treat me. Today, I have full lung function, and have not had an asthma attack in the last 16 years, nor do I have any seasonal allergies either.
My M.D. was hauled before his medical board on the complaint of an allegist, and, even though hundreds of patients testified on his behalf, he was forced to cease his unique homoeopathic treatment or he would lose his license.
No, sarcasm and fallacious "scientific arguments" have not in any way disproven the benefits of homoeopathy.
11:54 AM on 10/20/2009
What did he inject you with? Do you remember? How quickly were the effects felt? Had you quit taking all forms of allopathic medicine? Have you looked into any research regarding the injections you received?

I ask because far too often we credit things that had little or nothing to do with our eventual relief from our ailment. Such as praying to a can of spam when you've got a cold and then a few days later recovering from the cold. The prayer didn't heal you, your immune system did.
04:45 PM on 10/20/2009
They don't need to KNOW these things to believe. You are asking entirely too much. I think many of them believe it's our job to prove them wrong – even if it was our job, it's pretty difficult as many of them don't understand what proof is.
Man From Atlan
09:52 PM on 10/20/2009
homeopathic histamine.
Effects felt immediately, lung function returned to normal in 3 months.
Had stopped all allopathic medication 2 months prior.
Had tried other homoeopathics, THIS doctor cured me.
And for a skeptical enquirer, you (and beertent below) are replete with rationalizations, based on NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER, lol.
12:03 PM on 10/20/2009
"Scientific arguments" have not in any way disproven the existence Chico the elf who lives in my sock drawer. He also swears by homeopathy. So, I think your reasoning is pretty sound.
10:09 AM on 10/21/2009
Does he get along with the Underwear Gnomes?
12:47 AM on 10/20/2009
Some folks are saying homeopathy is energy medicine"Energy medicine" What the heck is that? I can tell you it has nothing to do with the energy of Newtnon's mechanics, thermodynamics, or of Einstien's E=mc2. Please don't misappropriate terms from science to make your stuff sound cool, advanced, or mysterious.

I think that homeopathy is not cool. It is not advanced or even mysterious. It is just the same old mystical thinking plaging us humans from the dark ages and long before.

The real world of cutting edge science (medical and otherwise) is much cooler than homeopathy and offers way more promise to humankind.

Those who liken the skeptics to neocons etc. are way off base. Skepticism and science must be key components of libralism and democracy. Many of us enjoy hearing different points of view, but if we have reason to believe something being advertised is untrue, we have to be honest and share openly what we think we know.
Against logic there is no armor like ignorance
01:57 AM on 10/20/2009
And that is the point. We don't debate homeopathy cause we have some evil plan. Rather because we think the public discourse should contain facts and evidence, not misdirection, rhetoric, and false hope. Reality and our physical world is a wonderous and amazing thing and does not require any supernatural invocation to see the awe inspiring nature of nature.

The dark ages were wonderful if you enjoyed the Inquisition or the plague....I'll stick with science, thanks.
03:34 AM on 10/20/2009
Great post. Homeopathy is not cool. Its silly and childish.
10:58 PM on 10/19/2009
How about experts in "medicine". What do they say, oh wait, they're not selling something, they're working their butts off to pass the boards and help people while the middlemen in the insurance industry feed. Whatever happened to the B-Ark?
12:25 AM on 10/20/2009
For sure there are many conscientious, dedicated doctors practicing "medicine". On the other hand, we all know people who practice for monetary reasons:

"Pfizer to pay RECORD $2.3 BILLION Penalty for Drug Promos" "Federal prosecutors hit Pfizer, Inc. with a record-breaking $2.3B in fines Wednesday and called the world's largest drugmaker a repeating corporate cheat for illegal drug promotions that plied doctors with free golf, massages, and resort junkets." "The total includes $1B in civil penalties and a $100 million criminal forfeiture." "Loucks said that even as Pfizer was negotiating deals on past misconduct, they were continuing to violate the very same laws with other drugs." "There's so much money in selling pills, that there's a tremendous temptation to cheat." said Bill Vaughan, an analyst at Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports". "There's a kind of mentality in this sector that (settlements) are the cost of doing business and we can cheat." Although this article doesn't mention it, one doctor was actually paid $308,000 to provide false testimony on the efficacy of a drug in treating pain when, in fact, the drug was never approved for that purpose.
debunking pseudoscience, one fallacy at a time.
08:14 AM on 10/20/2009
and your point in relation to homeopathy is.....?
05:04 PM on 10/20/2009
What does a drug company have to do with doctors and medical science? They create products and plug them with clever salespeople, my wife is a doctor and she says a lot of doctors are pushing back. And don't kid yourself they don't know about chemistry. She said this whole viagra thing is nonsense, very few people need it but they are being sold on the idea they need it by pharm companies doing the capitalism / advertising thing. People being paid off with money is nothing new in human history, it doesn't invalidate medical science. Court cases are based on convincing a jury which is not the same as doing science.
12:35 AM on 10/20/2009
Seems to me there are people in "medicine" doing both buying AND selling.

The problem here is that the patient goes into his doctor's office trusting that his doctor will diagnose him correctly and prescribe appropriately. The patient fully intends to follow his doctor's recommendations since he doesn't have the skills to diagnose and treat himself. He is, so to speak, a captive audience.
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10:35 AM on 10/20/2009
do you trust police officers? maybe they make up crime statistics so they'll get a bigger budget and more guns! oh noes, whatever will we do when we are a captive audience?

Doctors on the whole are trustworthy. The few bad apples usually don't treat patients regularly, and instead work in labs.
10:38 AM on 10/20/2009
Are you saying that this is a reason to accept and embrace homeopathy ?
Man From Atlan
10:04 PM on 10/19/2009
"Homoeopathy is NOT dependant on the placebo effect nor does it need to be proven all over again in the face of poorly written attacks by the professional sceptics. From Homoeopathy in Epidemic Diseases" by Dr. Dorothy Shepherd "Historical records show how medical doctors over the last 200 years have used homeopathy to successfully treat scourges such as cholera, typhus, smallpox, and scarlet fever. Homeopathy is still used today for the same epidemics in developing countries such as India. Much of the developed world, however, remains ignorant of its potential in this area. Information on the effectiveness of homeopathy in the 1917 flu pandemic can also be read at the link found at the bottom of the flu stories. It is information you may like to keep to hand in the face of the looming Bird Flu threat." The Allopathic Big Pharma model is such a rank failure, I can see why it is threatened by any threat to its profits from Alternative Medicine"
10:18 PM on 10/19/2009
Look at all those conclusive studies.

Oh... wait, nevermind. You're still grasping at straws.
11:30 PM on 10/19/2009
I don't make money off of medicine of any type, not even the illegal kind. So, my arguments can be spared your "Allopathic Big Pharma" shank. Just sayin'.
08:30 PM on 10/19/2009
I like to review all the evidence for or against homeopathy and have come to the conclusion based on the evidence and personal experience that it works.

There is much evidence that many conventional drugs that are billion dollar sellers don't really work. But that does not mean, like those hysterically want to throw out homeopathy, that I would throw out conventional medicine. Quite the contrary.

if you start with the prejudice that it does not work that is all you are going to see. There are many Medical Doctors, nobel prize winners and PHD individuals who practice and research homeopathy. The skeptics selectively choose studies that show moderate results and then claim it doesn't work.

In any case, homeopathy has worked for me and my family. All I want is the freedom to access it and to be treated by homeopathic professionals. Some of the comments here sound very totalitarian- that there is only one right way to practice medicine and anyone else is....

I'm a skeptical, conservative individual. You'll have to prove to me that homeopathy DOES NOT work before I'll stop using it. You haven't done that- you just throw insults and ask me to go to skeptic blogs who say the same toxic thing.

By the way, I have many relatives and friends who are medical doctors and they also use homeopathic remedies. It is not either or as many skeptics would like to make everyone believe.

And the science versus homeopathy is sheer baloney.
09:50 PM on 10/19/2009
How is this argument any different than the ones used to "discredit" the science behind global warming, or the theory of evolution? You're blowing smoke and hoping people will get tired of arguing with you.

Citing "individuals who agree with me" is not how you support a scientific argument; you need to refer to actual evidence. Most of the "studies" cited to support homeopathy are either two decades old, follow shoddy procedures, or fail to conclusively demonstrate a difference between homeopathy and the placebo effect. The studies discrediting homeopathy (such as the 2005 study in the Lancet) are a great deal more comprehensive, and produce results that are consistent with theory.

If it actually works, it shouldn't be *that* hard to prove it. Your argument boils down to "yeah well, there is a legitimate scientific basis for concern, but I'm going to disregard it anyway."
10:56 PM on 10/19/2009
Placebo effect is real, study that and then think about how your experiences are different. They're not.
07:24 AM on 10/20/2009
The placebo effect is all in ones mind.
Brevity is the soul of lingerie.
07:58 PM on 10/19/2009
The recent NPR Radiolab segment documented how intestinal worms cure asthma and other respiratory allergies. After hearing that people in the more tropical regions have statistically negligible/no asthma or hay fever, the brave sufferer went and walked around worm infested outhouses in the tropics and hasn't been bothered by the allergies since. It's a perverse synergy, worms and allergy freedom, but it works.
Give me the old time religion! The idea is we're too clean for our own good and even parasites have some benefits. Here's the link. You can buy the worms if you want, sterilized with antibiotics.
08:05 PM on 10/19/2009
Not good news for the clean colon crowd, eh?
07:57 PM on 10/19/2009
Fact: Adverse Drug Reactions are the 3rd to the 5th cause of death in this country. Somewhere between 76,000 and 103,000 American's die each year from appropriately prescribed drugs in hospitals. Add in accidental and inappropriate prescriptions, death from infection, botched surgeries: the effects of conventional medicine are often deadly. Conventional medicine also saves many lives and does much good some of the time. If you are in a serious car accident or stabbed ~ don't go to a homeopath. On the other hand, we don't understand many things about the nature of healing, pain, and our existance. At least most homeopaths do not harm the patient in any way ~ and many are helped. Try a dose of arnica, or an arnica creme next time you have an accident where there is internal bruises ~ it works well. Many plastic surgeons now give homeopathic arnica before and after surgical procedures and find it very helpful. Western medicine has become focused primarily on profit rather than healing ~ the oath of " Fist Do No Harm" has been long forgotten. Over 95% of M.D.s continuing educations comes directly from Pharmaceutical Institutions... Homeopathy is a great alternative for many ~ and it shouldn't be ruled out because we don't understand energy medicine at present. We have a long way to go to bring forth an integrative medical system that heals and does not kill. As Bill Moyer stated: Health is a condition, not a commodity!
Against logic there is no armor like ignorance
08:08 PM on 10/19/2009
It has nothing to do with not understanding energy medicine. It has to do with the fact that there is no evidence to support that homeopathy works, regardless of the mechanism of action.

For a good the "pharmaceuticals cause more deaths than they prevent argument" please read (which I will quote from):

"In the first place, how can they claim medicine does more harm than good by just listing harms? That’s like saying people buy more kumquats than artichokes and just presenting numbers for kumquat sales. You can’t say that’s “more” unless you also know what the artichoke sales figures are. How can you say medicine causes more deaths without know how many it prevents. How about comparing death rates with modern scientific medicine to death rates with alternative medicine alone and death rates with no medicine at all. That might really be interesting!"

Furthermore, even if modern medicine were to cause more deaths than it prevents (which it certainly doesn't), that doesn't say anything about the efficacy of homeopathy. There is absolutely, positively no possible logical connection or correlation you can make between those two points. It would be like saying, "Cancer is a leading cause of death in the world, therefore drinking wine prevents sinus infections." No way can you compare the two statements together.
08:31 PM on 10/19/2009
It's like blaming seatbelts and airbags for x percent of deaths, but not looking at the number of lives saved. Everyone is doing the best they can, The reason that there are deaths associated with mainstream medicine is that real, not fake, things are being done on behalf of the patient. With real things come real consequences. Good and bad.
08:41 PM on 10/19/2009
Medicine is art ~ with lots of mixed science behind it. I will continue to choose my medicine's mindfully ~ knowing full well the serious risks involved with pharmaceuticals and surgeries. I don't dispute the fact that conventional medicine is amazing and very helpful with some conditions ~ it is the profit motive, greed, and risks that are unacceptable. There are in fact alternatives that we can choose from: acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutrition, homeopathy, structural integration, bodywork, meditation/prayer ~ in addition to drugs and surgery. There are always times when one method is more effective than another ~ alternative medicine is slowly developing proof of benefit ~ but cannot compete economically or politically with the Giant pharmaceutical and medical industry. I say keep an open mind and first do no harm.
Against logic there is no armor like ignorance
08:12 PM on 10/19/2009
We understand a great deal about our existence and our world that surrounds us.

You are conflating an argument against the over-prescription of pharmaceuticals with the efficacy of homeopathy. One does not relate to the other. Efficacy of homeopathy should be able to be demonstrated in and of itself. But that has not been done.

For a study of homeopathic arnica see :

Conclusion from the study: The results of this trial do not suggest that homeopathic arnica has an advantage over placebo in reducing postoperative pain, bruising and swelling in patients undergoing elective hand surgery.
Against logic there is no armor like ignorance
06:50 PM on 10/19/2009
Ron Burgundy said it best:

60% of the works everytime.
Empty is my micro-bio
06:18 PM on 10/19/2009
Ignorance is purported to be bliss yet so many posting here reveal their woeful ignorance of homeopathy. They sound like Witch Hunters General on an inquisition or some rabid neocons describing Iraq's WMD. He who speaks loudest knows least. Most homeopaths will admit we don't know why homeopathy works - only that it does - rapidly gently and effectively. Anyone who says they have had a bad reaction to a homeopathic remedy is either deluded or lying. Homeopathy is energy medicine - there's nothing material in those tiny tablets. Maybe it is placebo, or mental healing or even magic, anyone who has been cured really doesn't give a damn. Oh, and as for making money, wake up! Drug makers and drug prescribers make money - the biggest problem for homeopathy is that it is inexpensive and making much money from it is difficult.
Not until I see the holes of the nails....
06:27 PM on 10/19/2009
Perhaps we're not ignorant; we just disagree with you
06:30 PM on 10/19/2009
Perhaps that characterization is a bit extreme. It seems to me that asking for a significant amount of evidence before overturning entire disciplines of science is at least slightly different than burning people at the stake on suspicion of being a witch.
Seriously, it's time.
05:34 PM on 10/19/2009
`Expert in homeopathic medicine'.

And I'm an blackbelt fairyist with a nobel prize in gullibility.

We all know placebos work, don't try and sell me one.
11:49 AM on 10/20/2009
Aww, I'm just a brownbelt. I'm still looking for a Gelflin to help in shotzing more so that I can finally get past rheem-belt and onto a black belt.
04:22 PM on 10/19/2009
These pieces always make me disappointed, in that I really do think they degrade the reputation of HuffPo. Homeopathy, by DEFINITION, is nothing more than a placebo. As a female who advocates for science-based medicine and skepticism (not cynicism), this is incredibly frustrating. Discuss the nature of a placebo and how that effect could be attained without wasting money and energy on nonsense, and then we will be better off and well served by this generally responsible resource (HuffPo).
05:44 PM on 10/19/2009
You're right.

It just occurred to me that people who have negative opinions about mainstream medicine are probably cutting themselves off from the normal placebo effect that comes with consulting a doctor. So why not believe in your doctor and get a two-fer – real medicine and the placebo effect?

It seems like the placebo effect should be influenced by the patient as much as by the doctor. Although, it might be a lot like tickling in that it's hard to tickle one's self. Wait, meditation might be a self tickle.

02:29 AM on 10/20/2009
I have had a few logical fights with myself over placebos. They are obviously not a BAD thing. I usually end up at a cost/benefit calculation - which can go on forever and never seem to resolve.
I'm not sure how much of a placebo is related to the fact that it was administered by a "professional" and how much is within the reasoning powers of the recipient.
I do think there are some actions we can take that are similar to placebo effects. They seem (to my memory) usually preventative in nature (meditation for stress, etc). Then again, that's not really the same as a placebo.
Long story short. I do think it's interesting. The rational side of me says its a waste of time and resources I could be putting toward finding treatments/activities with efficacy.
Long story short....I dont know but I do think it's worth thinking about. I am certainly a skeptic and advocate for science-based medicine. Something about discounting placebos has always bugged me. But....maybe that's just a logical lapse. Long story short....I dont know.
02:31 AM on 10/20/2009
Wow...I should have read that before I posted....

"long story short"
"short story long"