A Response to the Homeopathy Awareness Campaign

“Most people have tried everything that this [medicine] has to offer and if they are no better, or are worse, or cannot tolerate the drugs and treatments, they look around for some other way to get better.”

The claim is an admission that homeopathy likes to prey on the sick and vulnerable. Some people will have conditions that are not treated effectively by conventional medicine.

A certain proportion of people will not receive effective treatment from conventional medicine. Their doctors might be making mistakes. They may not be cooperating with their doctors. Their doctors may thus be impeding proper diagnosis and treatment. They might have conditions that conventional medicine struggles to treat.

Some people will feel desperate and they may become distrustful of conventional medicine. They may seek alternatives to conventional medicine.

But that does not mean that homeopathy is a viable alternative! Or that anyone should turn to magic sugar pills or water as a treatment for cancer!

“Homeopathy is well known for being natural, gentle, safe and effective.”

Homeopathy is indeed somewhat gentle and safe. After all, it is almost pure water and/or alcohol solutions or sugar pills. There is little chance of a properly prepared homeopathic solution doing any harm.

Yes, water is very gentle indeed…

Yet, it happens and not all homeopathic solutions are safe. Sometimes those substances which are supposed to be diluted away are still present. And in sufficient doses to kill people!

Hundreds of babies have been seriously harmed by homeopathic teething preparations. They have induced seizures and delirium. Some babies may have been killed by these preparations.

As for natural, well, even if they are natural, that does not mean that they are better. Natural things are not inherently better than artificial things. We have already covered this.

Is it effective? So they say. But if that was the case, this website would not need to exist. And in the 200 years homeopathy has existed, someone would have come up with evidence by now.

“First appointments usually last over an hour and qualitative research suggests that patients value… being listened to; and treated as an individual.”

Homeopathic consultations are indeed longer than you might get from a visit to a doctor. If you go to your doctor, he might see you for about fifteen minutes or longer if he needs more information. Or if there are complex issues he needs to treat.

Homeopathic consultations are holistic. Homeopaths will spend a lot more than fifteen minutes with their clients. They will ask many questions which the patient will not be asked by their doctor.

This might make the patient feel that they are getting better treatment. The patient might believe that the homeopath cares more about them than their doctor. This perception of increased attention to detail might make the patient feel reassured. It might help the patient feel better or even recover faster or more effectively.

However, there are reasons medical consultations are shorter than a homeopathic consultation. First, doctors are highly trained medical experts. They are highly skilled at diagnosing medical conditions. It is likely that for common ailments, they will not need much time to identify the problem. They are likely to propose an effective medical solution quickly. They do not need to spend an hour gathering information. Most of which will be irrelevant and some of which might be distracting.

The extra attention provided by homeopaths might indeed be of some benefit to patients. This, of course, does not validate homeopathy itself. It provides evidence that if someone feels more cared for, that this might have some therapeutic effect. This might show the benefits of longer doctor consultations. But it does not show any benefit of homeopathy.

“There are currently around 3,000 registered homeopaths in the UK. 6,400 homeopaths who have also qualified as doctors, 60 homeopathic vets, several registers and 16 homeopathic schools.”

Education means very little unless it is a good education. And education does not itself mean that the things you know are useful.

The education required to become a homeopath is about one to three years. Some courses of study lack rigorous or scientific coursework. It is far less rigorous than any of the training undergone by those seeking a legitimate medical qualification. Their clinical training is inadequate. It is eclipsed by the extensive clinical training required for legitimate medical practice.

Spending years learning quackery does not make quackery any more legitimate.

A duck will always quack…

“Registered homeopaths… adhere to a Code of Ethics.”

A Code of Ethics that allows them to peddle impossible cures. Cures that have little to no positive effects and which might be highly dangerous. This is a Code of Ethics that allows them to peddle quackery instead of legitimate medicine. And to discourage real treatment in favor of duck sounds. Some Code of Ethics….

4)Does homeopathy help people to improve their health?

“Yes, it does, particularly regarding chronic, long-term conditions.”

Evidence needed, please. Legitimate scientific studies have yet to show any effect greater than that of a placebo. Thousands of homeopathic studies have been carefully analyzed. Most of them are not rigorous enough for proper analysis. We will talk more about this soon.

The placebo effect can help deal with the symptoms of chronic conditions. However, it is also far from being a cure or particularly effective treatment. Many placebos are far cheaper than homeopathy.

“An observational study at Bristol Homeopathic Hospital included over 6,500 consecutive patients with over 23,000 attendances in a six-year period; 70% of follow up patients reported improved health, 50% reported major improvement. “

This would seem to involve patients self-reporting on any perceived improvements in health. That kind of self-reporting is notoriously unreliable and very non-objective. Most patients are extremely bad at assessing whether their health condition has improved.

Consider that you are talking about patients that have agreed to take homeopathic treatments. These patients presumably already believe that homeopathy will help them. They are at least open to the idea that homeopathy might help them. They are likely desperate to believe that it will help them!

One would expect that anyone agreeing to homeopathy likely expects homeopathy to work. And these are people that have come to a homeopathic hospital. They are likely already convinced that homeopathy works. They are therefore biased.

These patients are likely reporting on one of two things:

 A) Perceived improvements in health that did not happen. So homeopathy did nothing.

B) Perceived improvements in health that correspond to actual improvements in health. But which cannot be linked to any non-placebo effect. And certainly not to homeopathy.

In neither case can you assume that homeopathy is the cause for the health improvement!

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