Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The efficacy of Homeopathy

The band of fanatics who seek to discredit Homeopathy are best ignored. But the propaganda and lies they present are worth addressing for the sake of society in general and the ill in particular.

In reality 'word of mouth' is the most important way to get a message across and Homeopathy has always had that and will always have that.

But it is also important to have information to hand which can be presented to inform others about Homeopathy.

The Healing Paradox, by Steven Goldsmith, MD, a psychiatrist and homeopathy is well worth reading, as is The Impossible Cure, by Amy Lansky.

But Dr Goldsmith has put his information in very coherent form and I present some of it here in terms of dismissing the most common claim by naysayers, that Homeopathy only ever functions as a placebo effect:

. remedies have cured infants of innumerable maladies, and infants do not respond to placebos;

. remedies have cured animals (there are even homeopathic veterinarians) which also do not respond to placebos;

. remedies have affected the growth of plants, also not placebo responders;

. remedies have cured unconscious people, who regained consciousness and recovered from their illnesses, and placebos cannot affect unconscious people;

. remedies have cured people of conditions not responsive to placebo, such as cholera, typhus, yellow fever, tuberculosis, tumours, traumatic brain injury, severe depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia - meaning the patients got well and stayed well;

. remedies have cured many sceptics, who are unlikely to respond to placebos;

. remedies have cured some who have been unaware they have even received a remedy, such as alcoholics, into whose bottles spouses slipped remedies;

. a patient may not respond to a remedy for a chronic condition for one to several weeks, and such a delay is not consistent with a placebo effect, which tends to be immediate;

. before many patients feel better from a remedy, they may have a period of symptomatic aggravation - also not characteristic of a placebo response;

. remedies have cured those not previously cured by conventional drugs or by previous remedies (thus leading to the question, if the patient is a placebo responder and the current remedy is only a placebo, why were the previous ineffective remedies and the chemical drugs not placebos?);

. in multiple provings of the same remedy around the world, different subjects, unaware of the identity of the remedy tested, manifest similar symptoms, an almost impossible coincidence if remedies are only placebos and thus guided in their effects by wishful thinking alone;

. an ever-growing body of well designed research demonstrates the efficacy of homeopathy.

He also cites two reasonably objective and thorough meta-analyses  published in respected antipathic medical journals. (Antipathic is the word Dr Goldsmith has coined for conventional or modern medicine and what Homeopathy calls Allopathic Medicine. Allopathic means other and antipathic means against.)

The first appeared in 1991. The authors, a group of non-homeopath Dutch investigators found that in 105 trials with interpretable results, remedies were effective in 81 or 77% of the total. They then analysed the 22 best studies, finding that 15, or 68% showed remedies to be effective.

In another analysis of the medical literature, a group of German and American collaborators rigorously analysed the methods and results of 89 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of remedies.  They found that remedies were 2.45 times more likely to help people than were placebos. Unfortunately they grouped the studies in antipathic fashion according tot he type of ailments treated which compromised the results.  Homeopathy does not prescribe for a symptom as allopathy does but for an individual.


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