Gerald O'brian

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Should we let homeopathy be?

The biggest dilemma for me is that placebo is proven to work better if the physician also believes he's giving real medecine. In this view, homeopathy is the perfect placebo. Even the people making it, through laborious dilutions, have GOT to believe in it, or their high school knowledge about chemistry would make it tempting to skip the whole process and make more profit selling sugar.
It's even got quantum mechanics watching its back, losing the more curious ones in complexe explanations about just how complexe liquid water is.
And of course, the idea is fun. Like cures like. 1/1000000th of a molecule of ethanol to cure a hangover.
Sure it's tempting to ridicule the whole industry for the billion dollar quackery it is. But one might actually find that it's saving a lot of healthcare money, and that it WORKS! And it works because we let it, because we don't ask for double-blind tests...
So what's your view on this? Is homeopathy a cheap way to heall the credulous? Or has it gone too far and is part of what makes the transition to the age of reason so darn slow?


  • Oct 23 2013: Homeopathy is placebo? Really? If that's true you would expect that illnesses could be ameliorated or cured with any one of the 3,000 remedies in common use. Simply take one -- any one -- and watch your illnesses fade away. But it doesn't work that way. The only homeopathic remedy which can ameliorate or cure is the one remedy that is most similar to the totality of the patient's symptoms and works well for his constitutional type. No other remedy will have an effect on the condition being treated.

    I've used homeopathy for many, many years with great success in acute conditions, chronic conditions and injuries. Sometimes the first remedy chosen gets the job done, but there are also times when I've been prescribed two or three remedies before my homeoopath finds the one that cures. My success with homeopathy over many years gives me a certain level of trust ("skeptics" would call it a "belief") and yet if the similimum isn't prescribed, I don't get better.

    There's another question we could ask, too: Why doesn't con med have the wonderful "placebos" homeopathy has?
    • Oct 23 2013: I have to agree with Christine, homeopathy is no placebo. As a patient and student of homeopathy for the past 20+ years, I have benefited immeasurably from homeopathy. The homeopathic remedy Belladonna (from my home first aid homeopathic remedy kit) helped alleviate a toothache from an abscessed tooth over a weekend when my dentist was unavailable. My husband also benefited from homeopathy for two herniated discs, documented by ultrasound and x-rays. He was able to avoid costly surgery that gave him no guarantee. Walking with a cane before homeopathic treatment by our family homeopath, my husband was playing golf a few months later. Experiences such as this, although anecdotal, convince millions of homeopathic patients world-wide that homeopathy is a safe, inexpensive health care alternative choice. We paid for our own homeopathic treatment and drove 3 hours round trip for the consultation.
      • Oct 23 2013: I have a pinched nerve between my L5 and S1 vertebra. I am under homeopathic care and acupuncture and home traction and nutritional support. It is working, but I feel like I have a way to go. Being 68 (in 1 hour and 53 minutes) probably is why it is taking so long to heal. But I use Arnica 30C for the pain and it works like a charm.
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        Oct 24 2013: Guys, there are people that swear that God helps them with their predicaments regardless of the fact that there is not the least of evidence for such god.
        People believe what they want to believe, no matter whether or not this belief makes any sense.
        This is true for homeopathy, astrology, supernatural beings, conspiracy theories and many others.
        • Oct 27 2013: This is very patronising. Surely we should respect even the beliefs that we do not ourselves hold?
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        Oct 28 2013: Angela, I really don't care what people believe, regardless of how little sense this belief might make.
        I prefer to stick with real science and not to pseudoscience, magic and superstition.
  • Oct 22 2013: It's clear that the posters so far on this topic have very little idea of how homeopathy is actually practiced, how it works or how much solid scientific evidence there is for its effects. What I am hearing is a bias that has nothing to do with any "transition to the age of reason."

    I won't try to get into the nitty gritty of homeopathy here, or bore you with anecdotes; but let me point out a few things that go to the heart of this. First, homeopathy doesn't fit the definition of placebo because it does not require a belief in it to work. Even serious skeptics can be helped with the proper application of homeopathic treatment, and have been. And people who use homeopathy correctly don't just feel better, they are better in demonstrable and reproducible ways. Secondly, homeopathy is not used to the exclusion of other forms of medicine. It's most common use is for health maintenance. People who use homeopathy responsibly understand that there are times when other forms of medical help are necessary, and seek proper medical attention when needed. And both allopathic and homeopathic physicians are aware of the possibilities for negative cross-effects.There are people who use all kinds of medicine irresponsibly, that is not a special characteristic of naturopathic or homeopathic users. Like cures like is a gross oversimplification of the actual effect, and the use is not as simple as a minute amount of ethanol to cure a headache. One of the problems of most attempts to compare homeopathy to drug treatments is that it is not a one-symptom/one-cause/one-cure process.

    Even if, as I expect, these observations fall on deaf ears, why would you not "let it be?" I know of no incidents of homeopathic addiction, overdose, debilitating side effects or deaths related to homeopathic use. Acupuncture and chiropractic and other "alternative" medicines are widely accepted now. Shall we also, perhaps, stop people from praying for the ill, a practice broadly supported?
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      Oct 22 2013: If it's not a placebo, what is homeopathy?
      Do you have details about how it works?
      • Oct 22 2013: Obviously I can't give much detail about how it works in just 2000 characters, any more than one could give an adequate explanation of how most drugs work in the same space. However, a simple Google search will lead you to both homeopathic sites and more objective scientific sites that give lots to think about, regardless of where you come out in the end.
        Basically, however, homeopathy begins with the assumption that the human body is capable of dealing with most naturally occurring diseases, and that, though larger doses of things can overwhelm the body's natural processes, very small dose can actually "trigger" those processes. Using your hangover analogy, a homeopath would have to determine as closely as possible what the actual individual symptoms of your particular hangover are, and find a remedy which (if taken in "toxic" doses) would cause those symptoms. Taking that remedy (which would be different for you than for other hangover sufferers) would trigger your body's natural defenses, which the alcohol had overwhelmed.
        That's very general and somewhat simplistic, but it's the basic idea. There is, in fact, significant testable evidence that supports homeopathic practice. Look for it. It's not all that hard to find, because homeopathic professionals have always understood that anecdotal evidence is not enough when you are dealing with people's health.
        You might also just try a little of it. One thing about homeopathy is that homeopaths never pressure you for more treatment than you need. A common "starter" remedy is Arnica Montana. If you take a few 30c pellets every few hours for the first day after a bruise or a muscle sprain, you should find that pain, swelling, and bruising are reduced quickly without the need for any other pain killers or medications.
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          Oct 22 2013: " homeopathy begins with the assumption that the human body is capable of dealing with most naturally occurring diseases, and that, though larger doses of things can overwhelm the body's natural processes, very small dose can actually "trigger" those processes "

          This makes sense. Except for the very small dose bit. 30 ch mean there are 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000001 molecules in the final dilution. Molecules cannot be divided this way, so there is nothing left, really.
          Homeopaths claim that's not a problem since water has memory of what's been in it.
          That also makes sense, even if there is no theory about it. But still. Do we have the technology that would ensure we end up with the memory of 0.00000000000000000000000000000000001 molecule of X without also getting the memory of 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000001 of every other thing in the universe?
          How can we control this? And how do they mesure it??????

          Also, how can you control an experiment where your claim is that your 0.00... 36 zeros...001th of a molecule is causing the healling??? How are the billiions of molecules in the air, in clothes, in food not interfering with your mesurement?
          I'm not saying it doesn't work. I'm saying that the pseudo-scientific explanation to back it up is absolute nonsense.
          Unless I've missed something, of course...
      • Oct 22 2013: Gerald, homeopathy is magic. Trying to find a physical explanation is a waste of time. Homeopathy disproves materialism, not the other way around.
      • Oct 22 2013: Do your research before you write negative articles, Gerald. Did you ask someone to explain gravity before you believed it?
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          Oct 22 2013: No, I used to believe that the ground pulled stuff. I didn't ask for anything.
          Then people came up with theories about everything attracting everything else. That made no sense to me, so I had to ask for the explanation at that point.
          Many times did I not ask for explanations, however, trusting the guy in the white blouse. But I'm working on that, it's something to be ashamed of.
        • Oct 27 2013: Ok Gerald congratulations on being a true sceptic. ie someone who says I don't know but prove it and I will believe rather than the many pseudosceptics who are in fact denyers. For example, one said that he would not believe in homeopathy even if it cured him. This does not seem to me indicative of an open scientific approach. I try not to engage with denyers as it is depressing and no point if someone has a fixed mindset.

          There is a lot of published research which demonstrates the effectiveness of homeopathy, statistics from epidemics which ALWAYS show that a larger percentage of patients treated by homeopathy survive than those treated with mainstream medicine, and evidence from the Leptospirosis epidemic in Cuba of the effectiveness in preventing Leptospirosis.

          Therefore there is plenty of peer reviewed and statistical evidence that homeopathy is more effective than mainstream medicine. (references already given by others)

          This means that the denyers have had to say, "well it's only a placebo" as a way of dismissing its effectiveness.

          Homeopathy works by accepting that the symptom is not the disease but the body's response to the disease. Therefore a tiny dose of something which amplifies that response (like cures like) will speed up the healing process. This is why the doses needed are so tiny.
          As an analogy homeopathy is the equivalent of pushing a ball downhill and mainstream medicine is pushing it uphill. This is an analogy, not a scientific explanation.
          I do not know why the infinitessimal dose seems unaffected by all the other factors you mention. I expect someone has done a study but I don't know of one.
          I think the reason your original article sent everyone off in this direction was the tone of "Let's tolerate the loonies if it works for them" which I took from the piece. Apologies if you didn't mean it like that.
          Please define what a placebo effect is, and I will discuss it further.
    • Oct 22 2013: There is a reason homeopathy falls into the category of alternative medicine.
      The minute its properly tested and scientifically proven to work, its stops being alternative, and starts being just medicine.

      I personally haven't seen any proper studies that suggest homeopathy works, and have yet to be properly explained how its even supposed to work on a theoretical basis. All the explanations I've been given don't fit with what I know about biology, chemistry and physics.
      With no evidence it works in practice, or reason to believe it ought to work in theory, it seems like nothing more than a scam. A very profitable scam.
      • Oct 22 2013: Homeopathy is simply considered medicine, not alternative medicine, in much of Europe. The reason it is considered alternative here is simply because it isn't the norm. When something isn't the norm, but some people do it, we call it an alterative. You may not be convinced by the scientific evidence that you have seen, and that's fair if you have seen the best evidence and remain open to the possibility that new evidence might eventually change your mind. There is, in fact, a whole lot of evidence that it works in practice; and there is only one reason to believe that any theory ought to work, and that's because all theories start as nothing more than possibilities. Theories about things routinely accepted today began as ideas that mainstream scientists dismissed as impossible and not even worthy of study.
        • Oct 22 2013: Very well then, we've established I'm open to evidence, and am willing to reconsider theories I'm not fully aware off.

          Post a link to a study that proves homeopathy works, or make some effort to explain to me how its supposed to work in theory at least. I only care for results, not means, but for that I must have results. Failing that, at least reason to think it ought to have the desired results and is worth trying again.
      • Oct 22 2013: It is the ultimate hubris that you demand proof homeopathy works. Who are you? Do your own research! Unbelievable! You can write all the negative diatribe you want, then demand someone refute your posture?

        I do not accept things blindly, I always question. This led me to homeopathy in the first place. And I DID my homework.
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          Oct 22 2013: No it's not the ultimate hubris. Clearly, skeptics don't know something that believers do, so the query of how it works is not only legitimate but also is at the origin of philosophical progress.

          Or perhaps you don't know how it works yourself, in which case you're a skeptic too...
      • Oct 22 2013: It's difficult to know where to send you. There is clearly no single study that will prove that "homeopathy works." There are, however, a lot of studies which deal with the efficacy of specific homeopathic treatments. Remember that homeopathy is highly individualized. That is, there is no simple, single correlation between a symptom or disease and a remedy. For instance, if you were suffering rom migraines, a homeopath wouldn't simply give you a pre-determined migraine remedy, but would find out as much as possible about your health over all, then give you a remedy specifically for your migraines. The best studies, therefor, use this individualized approach. One possible starting point for finding studies you could look at is this:

        Dana Ullman is, of course, a homeopathic physician, but since you are asking for links to research, this article gives those links as well as a pretty thorough discussion of results, limitations, and controversies regarding the scientific study of homeopathic remedies. You could always follow up with your own look at some of the studies he cites. At the very least, these studies ought to give you the sense that homeopathy is worthy of further consideration. Homeopaths aren't snake-oil salesmen; they are scientists and medical professionals (many are trained in allopathic medicine also, sometimes before trying homeopathy) who are very interested in both showing the efficacy of the remedies and in doing more research to try to understand how it works.
        • Oct 22 2013: Of course, the whole "personalized" thing makes the whole thing much harder to isolate as a variable, and therefore properly test.
          All in all, the research papers I've read haven't convinced me homeopathy works (having gone through those that say its effective as well as those that say its useless).

          I still find the underlying principle ridiculous however.
          It doesn't fit with anything I know about the human immune system. Small doses of harmful materials can sometimes be used to build up a resistance preemptively, but only rarely after the fact, and usually with things the immune system handles like viruses, not burns or bleeding.

          My biggest problem is the potency however. According to the homeopath's own math, the dilution is so great that I'd need an electron microscope just to figure out this stuff isn't plain water. In fact, something diluted 1:10 30 times should have only a single molecule of the original material left. I could swallow a single molecule of radioactive polonium, and nothing would happen to me, good or ill--just not enough material to make a difference.
          Assuming the water somehow "remembers" traits of the material that used to be in it... Lets just say it contradicts practically everything I know about chemistry.
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    Oct 22 2013: I think homeopathy is the best treatment one can have, but if you are not satisfied with the treatment after a duration change your homeopathy Doctor (may be he is less experienced) but not the homeopathy treatment.
  • Oct 24 2013: I see that everyone here has had the opportunity to present their views. After reading opinion pieces such as this, as well as articles and books with information on both sides, it is up to the health care consumer to do their own research and form their own opinions. Foremost in many of their minds will be the underlying fact that the popularity of homeopathy is growing because conventional medicine with all it’s double-blind, placebo controlled research trials and billion dollar marketing efforts is ...wait for it... failing the health care consumers they are supposed to serve. Finally, since health care is a market driven for profit industry, the method of health care that is most effective for the money spent will ultimately win out with patients and funding by national government entities, no matter what the skeptics claim or how they attempt to thwart the dissemination of information regarding alternative health care choices.
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      Oct 24 2013: Selling snake oil (= homeopathic remedies) seems profitable to me as well. Especially in the light that there are no huge R&D expenditures, clinical tests, etc.
      That said, making profit isn't bad. That's what companies live for.
      You see everything black and white. As many things, the pharma industry is far from being perfect. However, neglecting the countless lives saved because of "big pharma" can only be called ignorance.
    • Oct 24 2013: Honestly, if homeopathy worked, big pharmaceutical companies would have already taken it over. They don't really care where the money comes from. In fact, homeopathic medication is much cheaper to develop, and could theoretically be sold at a higher mark up; large teams of biologists, doctors and chemists, as well as their facilities are all quite expensive after all. Homeopathic remedies are dirt cheap to produce by comparison.

      Thing is, as most of their other products actually do something other than the placebo effect, they have a reputation to maintain.

      Say what you will about "big pharma", they're not stupid. If it worked, they'd already be knees deep in the homeopathic market.
      • Oct 24 2013: I have moved on. Time for you to do the same.
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        Oct 26 2013: Hi Nadav,
        You state "Honestly, if homeopathy worked, big pharmaceutical companies would have already taken it over." Well they are in a way - by lobbying to make it illegal. But what are they so scared of? (I'm married to a homeopath and have not been near an allopathic doctor for 25 years, so perhaps I'm biased).
        • Oct 26 2013: They're scared of loosing money to people who seek homeopathic treatment as opposed to conventional medicine. It doesn't have to work for people to seek it out so long as they think it works.

          If it really was effective, than the pharmaceutical companies would have tried to carve themselves out a slice of the profits instead; more money in it. Problem is, being pharmaceutical companies, they have a reputation to uphold--if they can't scientifically prove it works, they can't touch it.
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        Oct 27 2013: Hi Nadav,
        Thanks for your reply. I agree that the pharma industry cannot scientifically prove how or why homeopathy 'works', partly because they have the wrong paradigm of the human body to start with, and partly because scientific measuring instruments are not yet powerful enough to measure the complexity of the homeopathic process.
        Not so long ago quarks could not be measured, and although their existence was posited in theory, they could not be scientifically proved until the technical measuring apparatus was sufficiently sophisticated to measure them.

        The religion of scientism, which declares "we can't measure it therefore it does not exist and/or it is not important" is the paradigm that is ruining our planet and perpetuating a destructive economic system.
        Of course it doesn't get any closer to home than when it concerns your own body that is "mal-functioning"; which is why people desperately seek alternatives. People also desperately rely on standard medicine too to "heal them", but when (for example) it comes to something like cancer the honest truth is standard medicine doesn't know, but is happy to sell drugs and experiment on people.

        The current medical profession is fantastic for mending smashed up bodies, but when it comes to tackling longer-term accumulating dis-ease, I reckon homeopathy and other alternatives have something genuine to offer.
        • Oct 27 2013: The problem with homeopathy isn't that we can't measure it, its because everything we know about particle physics and chemistry tells us there is nothing to measure.
          Water does not have a "molecular memory". Nothing does; it completely contradicts everything we know about its structure.
          Quarks used to be immeasurable, but the theoretical side of things supported their existence. The theoretical side of things says homeopathy has no reason to work.

          I could mix my water with a single water of radioactive polonium or hydrogen cyanide, and it will do me neither good nor ill. It won't matter, because the dosage is so small its irrelevant. Its like taking a penny out of circulation in a global economy, completely negligible.

          Its better this way, honestly. If water did have a memory, than it'll also be affected by all those other things is used to contain over the years. Mineral deposits, the stuff that floats around in swamps, air pollution, the innards of animals and plants... Why should that single molecule that's left in the homeopathic medicine overcome all of those?
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        Oct 28 2013: Hi Nadav,

        I thought Masaru Emoto's work on water (in "The hidden Messages in Water") showed that water can have a memory, but maybe I've misunderstood it. It certainly seems to show that human thought has an effect on water, and that the water then "memorizes" it and reveals it in the differing crystalline structure when frozen.

        Back to homeopathy - how much does information "weigh" as in being measurable? Assuming the body is an energy-information exchange system (rather than merely a mechanical system with tube, pumps, and electrical pulses) then information can be introduced into the body in a variety of ways.

        When an allopathic pill is given, it has a chemical content with a chemical-biological impact on the patient, but what is really happening is that information is being fed into the human energy-information-body system that is contained in the chemistry of the make-up of the pill.

        Likewise for a homeopathic pill, information is also being given via the pill, though lacking in the chemical content of an allopathic pill. To answer your question, it is not just a case of dilution to the "single molecule that's left in the homeopathic medicine", but the fact that it has been potentised as well, which greatly increases its energy.

        {As an after-thought, talk-therapies don't use any pills at all, but the patient is also being fed information (which is essentially being done too with placebo "pills"). This can also get healing results, as least as far as the patient is concerned}.
  • Oct 27 2013: My reference was not to Schroedinger's cat, which would have been too easy, but to a different experiment. But my knowledge of quantum is as anecdotal as your knowledge of homeopathy, so I cannot give you the full reference. It is about not knowing whether something is a wave or a particle and upon observation finding that it is a particle when you look for a particle but a wave when you look for a wave. But that further illustrates my point. Anything can be trivialised by willful misunderstanding. 500, 000,000 people use homeopathy as their healthcare of choice, (WHO statistic). Whether it is placebo or not, it is obviously doing a lot of good for a lot of people.
    • Oct 27 2013: Popularity does not imply quality or effectiveness. Blood letting was plenty popular for years before someone realized what an idiotic practice it was. And that's with a practice that actively caused damage--think just how long it would have taken to realize it doesn't help if it did nothing at all?

      Seeing as my knowledge of homeopathy is truly anecdotal, perhaps you'd care to explain the mechanics of how it functions?
      I freely admit I'm no doctor, but I do know a thing or two about chemistry and physics, and they say homeopathy isn't supposed to do anything.

      I'm a man of science. When shown proper evidence and have them properly explained, I'm willing to flip my view on a dime, even if its one I've harbored passionately for many years (happened to me with global warming for instance). I'd be embarrassed as hell in the process, but I will change my stance given satisfactory reason.
      • Oct 27 2013: @Nadav

        In the days of blood letting and the like, there was no alternative choice in health care; i.e., medical treatment. So, that talking point can be laid to rest.

        The health care industry is a market driven entity. When faced with an illness that conventional medicine can only palliate, people naturally seek out something that does. It becomes popular. Sex and success sells.

        The intellectually lazy red flag alert pops up when any skeptic tries to counter a supporter of homeopathy by asking that they explain the mechanics of, or how homeopathy functions. I am reminded of college and grad students who ask for and depend on other students’ lecture notes. Why would any rationalizing person expect that they would waste their time sitting in the professors’ lecture halls themselves? Since you claim to be a man of science, I hope that your question does not indicate that scientists no longer do their own independent research.

        The opinions and now dead-on-arrival talking points have failed to turn the health care consumers away from homeopathy. It’s popular because it works. Health care consumers will continue to spend their money where it does the best good. Put the blame for the success of homeopathy where it properly belongs, at the alter of conventional medicine. It’s a proven fact that most homeopathic patients have already tried conventional medicine. It failed them. What platitudes would you offer these patients when faced with an unrelenting painful chronic disease or worse, a life or death decision?
        • Oct 27 2013: When I did my own research, I ended up finding pseduoscientific nonsense that would get you thrown out of a high school chemistry lab, never mind somewhere respectable.
          This "water memory" nonsense doesn't sit well with our understanding of the molecular structure of water specifically, or any other material in general.

          I also came up with how homeopathy was originally conceived. Derived from the concept of trying to fight fire with fire as it were, a researcher (or doctor, or whatever, his credentials aren't the point) tried prescribing patients with various harmful materials that caused the same symptoms they were experiencing. As he throughout his experiments lowered the dosage of these harmful materials, he noted that patients were getting better faster.
          No control group in sight, unfortunately, leading to one rather obvious conclusion--patients improve faster when you lower the dosage of poison you're giving them. Well ****, I could have told you that.

          On an unrelated note concerning the whole success thing, go ahead and compare the amount of money spent on conventional medicine as opposed to homeopathy. Compare the number of clinics, or the number of practitioners, even the amount of each type of treatment sold.
          You'll find conventional medicine is still firmly in the lead, and for good reason.
      • Oct 28 2013: To Nadav, not me. Sorry.

        Believe what you want. Conventional medicine is not still firmly in the lead. Read this editorial from my blog. Stick a fork in me, I'm done.

        Homeopathy, the skeptics. How Effective are They Really?
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        Oct 28 2013: Nadav, if you wait for scientific proof, you might just miss the next wave. Sometimes things are discovered that work, before the science behind them can explain why they work.

        In Thomas Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" there is appears to be a well-worn repeating pattern of the existing scientific paradigm dismissing new theories (with limited or no evidence) because the scientific measuring methods are not yet up to it. Also, there are huge vested interests in maintaining the current paradigm in the face of growing evidence otherwise. All this I'm sure you already know.

        You're going to ask me "what's the growing evidence?". Well, there's plenty of info on either side, and how much of it is "evidence" I'm not sure.
        But the point is more that there has to be a way to move on fast with what works, and when eventually science measuring catches up with its own evidence as to why it works, then fair enough - but in the meantime, isn't the truly scientific thing to keep an open mind?
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      Oct 28 2013: "I do not know why the infinitessimal dose seems unaffected by all the other factors you mention"

      Neither do I, nor do I know how it was proven that the infinitessimal dose does seem to affect the body.
      I can't let go of my skepticism until this one is cleared, I'm sure you can understand why. If the argument is that the body can sense the intake of a infinite fraction of a molecule, how would you design the experimental protocol that makes sure the body doesn't react to something else?
      And also, not even asking where the medecine goes once you've taken it and where in the body the like-cures-like process is fired, I'm skeptic about the dillution idea. My ignorance in medecine allows me to accept like cures like if actual molecules end up in a body. But I can't accept that there is such a thing in chemistry as 1/10 to the power 36th of a molecule. Why? Because nothing would make sense anymore.
      If someone tells me everything I know about molecules is false, then yeah, I need a GREAT explanation. Not annecdotes or personnal acounts. And not even tests results.
  • Oct 22 2013: I fully support Homeopathy. It has worked for me, my family, even our dog, and the 5 kids, that are in my wife's daycare.

    At one point I had an object in my eye lid and was scheduled by the doctor for surgery. My wife gave me a Hom. medicine and a few days later she asked me how my eye was. I said 'what eye?' and then remembered the issue, but the eye was fine. The doctor was amazed and said my eye was fine. He asked me to let him know what medicine I used. In fact that medicine is not at all recommended for people with foreign objects in their body because of injury or operations, because this med. may well cause the body to somehow 'push' it out.
    I'm also keeping my eye pressure under control with Hom. med.

    Children easily get hurt by bumping into things (almost daily). With Hom. med they will not even get a bulge. It helps kids well because they don't drink coffee :)
    Homeopathy certainly has its limits, but for minor stuff it works great!

    My personal opinion, and that's all it is, is that homeopathy gives our soul an indication of an issue with a certain aspect of the body, which it then concentrates on.
  • Oct 22 2013: Science dismisses the subjective because it gets in the way of understanding objects, thus the objective viewpoint. This is most excellent when you are dealing with hydrogen bombs and stripped toothpaste and bridges and other purely physical objects. But what do we do when the thing is not just an object, like, perhaps, a human being. I am an intersection between the objective and the subjective, an intersection of body, "energy", mind, and spirit. Skeptopaths don't understand this and imagine that the only way to know anything is from the objective viewpoint. Consequently they are STUPID and oblivious when it comes to subjective matters, and they assume that they have a monopoly on all knowing, when in fact they are dreadfully shallow.

    The power of suggestion or the placebo effect is just the beginning of understanding the subjective. Understanding and experiencing the subjective goes way beyond that.

    I am going to guess that EVERY SINGLE male skeptopath has one of the following: no relationship with a woman, a dominating relationship with a woman, or a terribly rocky relationship with a woman. The female skeptopaths probably have a better go at it, but not by much. And I am betting that the male skeptopaths can't figure out what this has to do with anything. It has to do with the pathological denial of the subjective.

    I love my doggies with all my heart; I know that they are semi-conscious God in doggie form trying to evolve into full consciousness. And I am helping them with love and affection and good food and scratching their bellies and playing with them.

    Homeopathy has been working for me and my family for the past 44 years. That, I say, that is some kind of placebo effect!
  • Oct 22 2013: This is what the homeopathy skeptics are fighting to maintain:

    This is what homeopaths and their patients are fighting to maintain:

    “The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston – The US department of alternative medicine followed the cases presented in Corfu with lab trials using Banerji’s homeopathic medicine on cancer cells at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) in Houston. Dr. Sen Pathak, Prof. of Cell Biology & Genetics, at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, collaborated in this joint research between the PBHRF and the MDACC. The research work is now complete and published. An in vitro study with the medicines has shown brilliant results in killing brain cancer cells while activating the normal cells. The paper entitled “Ruta 6 selectively induces cell death in brain cancer cells but proliferation in normal peripheral blood lymphocytes: A novel treatment for human brain cancer” was jointly published with Pathak S, Multani AS, of the Department of Molecular Genetics, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, USA., in the October 2003 issue of the International Journal of Oncology. (PBHRF and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, USA conducted jointly an in vitro research study on the effectiveness of the medicines Ruta 6 and Calcarea Phosphorica 3X in destroying brain cancer cells while activating the normal cells. The research study was published in the form of a paper in the October 2003 issue of the International Journal of Oncology.)”
    The illusionist James Randi was challenged by a world renouned homeopath Dr. George Vithoulkas of Greece, but Mr. Randi backed out. James Randi Backs Out of Challenge with Homeopath George Vithoulkas
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      Oct 22 2013: Do you believe in a conspiracy against homeopathy, then?
      • Oct 22 2013: Will the Top Skeptic "Amazing Randi" Be Federally Indicted in Florida? By Tim Bolen
        Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

        “It's looking good for that. Hooray. I'll explain below. I have absolutely no use for the group that describes themselves as "Skeptics." The group, made up, I believe, of life's flotsam and jetsam, inhabits the internet after a minimal training at some skeptic conference teaching them how to be even nastier, sleazier, human beings than they were before they found the organized clutter based out of Amherst, New York. This group is reinforced by a five foot tall moron who calls himself ‘The Amazing Randi.’
        • Oct 22 2013: Ad hominem, a common fallacy involving attacking the speaker instead of his spoken words.

          I'll readily describe myself as a skeptic, and all I want to see is some proper scientific evidence. You could attack my character all you wish, it has not logical implication on what I'm saying.

          Let me list a few other things I'm skeptical about, to show you that you too are probably skeptical, at least about something. I'm skeptical concerning the 9/11 truther movement. I don't think the global Jewish banker conspiracy is real. I don't think there was a great flood of biblical proportions where only a small family of humans and a pair of every animal survived in a wooden box.
          Skepticism isn't a dirty word. Its merely asking to see evidence rather than believing everything you're told without proof.
        • Oct 23 2013: Nadav --

          I recommend that if you want to see studies you do some research on your own. You will many of them at:

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    Oct 25 2013: If homeopathy is a placebo and it works, then what's all the fuss about? If it helps cure people of certain ills through psychosomatic suggestion and belief, why should it be discounted just because it lies outside the realms of science?

    Doesn't the success rate of placebo actually suggest an ability to cure ourselves using our own innate physiological and psychological defences, partly obviating a dependence on pharmacology for minor ills?

    It depends whether you consider placebo to be a remarkable ability of human physiology to effect cure, or whether you dismiss it altogether as a sham illusion.

    Personally, I think it's remarkable and I'm open to all possibilities of such psychosomatic phenomena because it works too often and too effectively to ignore. It doesn't matter if it is homeopathy or double-blind dummy pills in pharmacology trials, it is still deserving of a lot more research - if modern science can just jettison some of its silly prejudices.
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      Oct 26 2013: If nothing else it would be an ethical problem. For traditional medicine there are clearly defined pathways how the medicine works, hence the patient can have a realistic expectation that his disease is treated.
      With a Placebo it's different. There is no clearly defined mechanism how it works and it's not even sure that it works at all.
      So, selling a placebo to a cancer patient instead of real medicine would be something highly unethical in my view.
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        Oct 26 2013: Hi Harald.

        Agree with you that life-threatening illnesses like cancer should not be left entirely to placebo, because the psychosomatic element of self-cure may work well in some people but not others.

        I agree also that placebo has no defined mechanism. But is that because such mechanisms remain unresearched due to medical science's reluctance to attach itself in any way to autosuggestion and the possibility of positive belief in the body's ability to heal itself?

        Although a nebulous area at present, I think placebo deserves to be moved from a vague new-age oddity to real science, for the simple reason that for many people, it works. That science is more likely to be within the realms of behavioural psychology, rather than analyses of what the constituents are in a homeopathic remedy. For such science to work, it would need to ally itself much more to the philosophical elements of human existence - and to stop dismissing it as 'pseudoscience'.

        We need to find all this out - and I for one want to know what is driving that mechanism of self-cure.
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          Oct 26 2013: What works in the case of a placebo is not the placebo but the mind. The placebo in this case is nothing more than an aid to get your own body to cure yourself.
          So, if that works, it means that the disease was psychosomatic in the first place which further means that with proper mental conditioning it would have been avoidable or if not avoided at least curable without the aid of a placebo.
          The concept of a placebo is not pseudoscience but a placebo is something that really shouldn't be necessary.
        • Oct 27 2013: I took my aging cat to a homeopathic vet. He has ordinary vet qualifications as well as going on to get homeopathic qualifications. Before homeopathic treatment my cat's heartbeat sounded like swish swish instaed of boom boom. The vet said this was hypertrophy (overgrowth ) of her heart. ONE MONTH LATER after only homeopathic treatment, her heartbeat was boom boom, although with a very slight underlying hiss. If this was acheived by placebo please explain to me how my vet's belief influenced my cat. I personally was not expecting the heartbeat to improve. So it wasn't my placebo effect on the cat. She had been conventionally treated previously with no effect. My trip to the homeopathic vet was TEETH (tried everything else, try homeopathy.)
        • Oct 27 2013: I love this type of testimonial Angela! Thanks for posting it. I have another:

          “Actium the Bird and His Lipoma

          Homeopathy works brilliantly for human health problems but did you know it works just at well for animals? The disappearing lipoma of Actium, my budgerigar is just one example. Take a look at his story and photographs – you’ll be amazed at what happened.”


          I personally treated my Black Labrador Retriever with homeopathic Silicea for a lipoma the size of a golf ball. No expensive surgery, stitches or antibiotics needed. And, there is no residual scar.
    • Oct 26 2013: I have my doubts about the effectiveness of placebos.
      The problem is, placebos oftentimes make people feel better in a mental sense, without actually being physically better.

      When conducting research, its oftentimes difficult to pin point precisely how well someone is. Some things, like blood pressure and temperature can be easily measured, but other parameters aren't so easy to quantify. In practice, what's often done is simply asking the test subject how well they feel over time. Say their physical condition is a 7, and without a placebo they report a 7; with a placebo, their physical condition may still well be a 7, but they report a 9, because they think they've gotten better.
      There are all sorts of problems testing this of course, which is why its hard to say precisely how effective placebos really are.

      Besides, conventional medicine can do placebos just fine. Some doctors have an ethical problem using them, but if anything, a doctor should have an easier time prescribing a believable placebo than a homeopath--most skeptics trust the doctor, for one.
      Of course, it'll only take as long as you'd need to google the medicine... Blind faith does have its advantages; life is so much simpler.
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        Oct 28 2013: The power of the mind is vastly underestimated in its ability to affect the body. It can go either way into a feedback spiral - upwards into wellness or downwards into illness, depending on the state of mind at the time.

        I get the mechanisms of placebo and nocebo effects, and can even accept the possibility that pet owner's placebo-inspired positivity can be transferred to their animals, but Angela (who doesn't have a 'reply' button) says that such transference did not exist with her pet during and after treatment. I'm afraid I'm stumped by that one.

        I'd like to believe that the actual constituents of homeopathic remedies are the things actually doing the curing of people and animals - but I have real problems in getting to grips with things like 'water memory' and dilutions equivalent to one pinch of salt added to the Atlantic Ocean. Can someone please explain?
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    Oct 23 2013: As a chemist I'm doubtful that homeopathy can work, considering that some homeopathic products are so diluted that one can't even find a single molecule of the active ingredient in it.
    On the other hand, I have no trouble with homeopathy because it is unlikely to cause any harm.
    So if somebody wants to go this path then fine, although I wouldn't recommend trying homeopathic treatments for life threatening diseases.
  • Oct 23 2013: This is what the homeopathy skeptics are fighting to maintain:

    This is what homeopaths and their patients are fighting to maintain:

    “The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston – The US department of alternative medicine followed the cases presented in Corfu with lab trials using Banerji’s homeopathic medicine on cancer cells at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) in Houston. Dr. Sen Pathak, Prof. of Cell Biology & Genetics, at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, collaborated in this joint research between the PBHRF and the MDACC. The research work is now complete and published. An in vitro study with the medicines has shown brilliant results in killing brain cancer cells while activating the normal cells. The paper entitled “Ruta 6 selectively induces cell death in brain cancer cells but proliferation in normal peripheral blood lymphocytes: A novel treatment for human brain cancer” was jointly published with Pathak S, Multani AS, of the Department of Molecular Genetics, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, USA., in the October 2003 issue of the International Journal of Oncology. (PBHRF and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, USA conducted jointly an in vitro research study on the effectiveness of the medicines Ruta 6 and Calcarea Phosphorica 3X in destroying brain cancer cells while activating the normal cells. The research study was published in the form of a paper in the October 2003 issue of the International Journal of Oncology.)”
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      Oct 23 2013: Isn't this what you already copy - pasted from that blog yesterday?
      • Oct 23 2013: So? It's a result of my OWN research and a part of my OWN personal files. Therefore, I have a right to copy and paste where I feel it makes a valid point.
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          Oct 23 2013: Oh it's your own research, great! I have so many questions.
          The first one is : how does it work? Or is your research only about writing on blogs that phosphorica Z15 and zormax 1000 destroy cancer cells?
          What's the theory. How do they destroy the cells?
          Is "the medecine" a dillution of something, or is it made with actual molecules?
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          Oct 24 2013: any answers to my questions?
  • Oct 23 2013: To answer the question posed in the title, I think you should let homeopathy be.

    The skeptics’ comments here, and in other articles favorable to homeopathy, represent the typical thought process of those who worship at the alter of conventional medicine versus that of homeopathic medicine. For example, con med treats the results of disease (diarrhea, inflammation, headaches, COPD, GERD, etc) with medications to stop, or suppress the symptoms. This is symptoms (of disease) control or management, not disease cure. The distinction between the two is vast and crucial.

    Homeopathic medicine, on the other hand, aims to cure a disease process taking into account the person’s entire constellation of symptoms, life style, genetic predisposition (miasms), the mental state and even preferences for food (salty or sweet), to temperature (prefers cold weather, or hot); and even fears (fear of heights, thunderstorms).

    It is not up to homeopathy to prove that it works because it has and does. Opinions of skeptics, who adopt their talking points from other skeptics, are not proof that homeopathy is not effective. Outside the realm of emergency care and surgery, conventional medicine has been a dismal failure. And, because of this health care consumers world-wide are seeking alternatives. This poses a giant threat to the pharmaceutical industry who pads the bank accounts of physicians, even first year medical students. Any wonder why then that this fact has spawned a plethora of idle minds willing to comment for cash and post for pounds worldwide? Fortunately, their efforts are failing.
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      Oct 23 2013: " conventional medicine has been a dismal failure "

      This is utter ignorance. Do you believe in viruses and bacteria?
      A century ago, alternative medecine was the only thing in town. Life expectancy was half what it is now.
      Or do you attribute our longer lives to other factors, such as better nutrition like that of Americans who live to be 77?
      And how about the 50% drop in infant mortality since the fifties?
      The very fact that you're alive and posting rubish is an hommage to the science of medecine that's been struggling with sorcery and superstition and figuring out how the body actually works. Your ignorance is a luxury. You'd be worried about being alive next spring instead of worrying about whether you like salt or sugar best or about your very favorite bath temperature.

      " It is not up to homeopathy to prove that it works because it has and does "
      Well argued. Although prescientific arguments work better on skeptics if they're tied up and tortured.

      Also, how have you explained that homeopathy is more than a placebo?
    • Oct 23 2013: 'Modern medicine' and 'failure' rarely appear stitched together in the same sentence.

      Here's a short, and very non-comprehensive list:
      --Average life expectancy has more than doubled. Infant mortality numbers especially are down.
      --Small pox, formally one of the deadliest diseases in human history, has been eradicated in nature.
      --We have a thing called preventable diseases nowadays. Things like polio, tetanus, most strains of flu. Before modern medicine, these preventable conditions used to be called cest la vie. Or more crudely, **** happens.
      --Antibiotics. Even a simple infection used to be a life threatening condition less than a century ago. Nowadays, treatable.
      --An understanding how you get sick to begin with, so you can avoid it, even without vaccines. Miasmia my foot, its something called microorganisms.

      Hardly just "treating the symptoms".

      Claiming modern medicine has failed is what's called perfect solution fallacy. Its not perfect sure, nothing is, but that doesn't mean its not worth implementing.
      If I came up with some invention tomorrow which would cut death via traffic accidents in half, I'm sure it'll be implemented in a heartbeat. Claiming modern medicine has failed is like saying that the invention isn't worth using because it won't save the other half of the people that die on the road.
      • Oct 23 2013: @Navad Tropp

        Polio eradicated? Nope.

        Smallpox eradicated? Nope.

        “Antibiotics. Even a simple infection used to be a life threatening condition less than a century ago. Nowadays, treatable.”

        Nope. Because of the over prescribing of antibiotics for self-limiting conditions, super bugs have developed that are resistant to antibiotics. See: “Antibiotics Can't Keep Up With 'Nightmare' Superbugs”

        With regard to the improving infant mortality, you did not cite any source. In just a few minutes of researching, I found some interesting facts. Infant mortality rates are significantly less in countries where the practice of homeopathy is accepted and in some cases funded by their national health services, including Cuba, Mexico, France, Germany, England, Switzerland, the UK and the U.S.

        And, in Greece where the practice of homeopathy fluorishes, the health care system is ranked as one of the best in the world. “The Greek healthcare system is universal and is ranked as one of the best in the world. In a 2000 World Health Organization report it was ranked 14th in the overall assessment and 11th at quality of service, surpassing countries such as the United Kingdom (18th) and Germany (25th).[52] Life expectancy in Greece is 80.3 years, above the OECD average of 79.5.[54] and among the highest in the world. In 2008 Greece had the highest rate of perceived good health in the OECD, at 98.5%.[55] Infant mortality is one of the lowest in the developed world with a rate of 3.1 deaths/1000 live births.

        Your invention 2 cut traffic accidents is better than spreading disinformation about homeopathy.
        • Oct 24 2013: I never claimed polio was eradicated, just preventable, and vastly on the decline.

          As for smallpox, no one has caught it in decades. The only place it exists today is in labs in the US and Russia for biological weapons and defense purposes.
          The vaccines themselves did some damage true, they're much more harmful than your average vaccine, but its nothing compared to say, a smallpox outbreak. You're comparing a few thousand headaches, mild fevers, and maybe a fatality or two to potentially millions of deaths.

          As for antibiotics, again, perfect solution fallacy. Just because its not a magical catch all solution doesn't mean its worthless. Over prescription and people not finishing their prescriptions may have reduced the effectiveness somewhat, but these antibiotic resistant bugs are still the exception, not the rule.
          A garden variety infection that was life threatening just a century ago is still considered an inconvenience today.

          As for your research, homeopathy has nothing to do with it. Those are all first world countries, and the very fact they have proper national health services to begin with probably have something to do with it...
          The thing is, infant mortality is down all over the world thanks to modern medicine, including places that have never even heard of homeopathy. If you look at infant mortality across a time table, and compare it to the invention and spread of homeopathy, you'll find no correlation.

          Same for Greece. There are a billion different things that affect life expectancy, and unless you've managed to isolate variables either experimentally or statistically, you just can't attribute it to one factor.
        • Oct 27 2013: Beautifully put and with references. Thanks Sandra
  • Oct 23 2013: Personally, I try to scrimp and save every penny, and I do a good job of it.

    Every health generating activity or item that is close to free is ignored because no one is getting paid to promote it. Every older person should drink 8 glasses of water a day (with mineral supplementation. I use hard spring water, so I don't need much in the way of mineral supplementation), but you will never hear about it because no one can make enough money off of it to spend the time and money to promote it. No conspiracy or greed here; just the way life works: people have to make a living.

    I also see that people fancy that the exotic is going to make them healthy. So some berries or herb from the Western Ghats in India is suppose to be so ultra-cool for your health, but apples are ignored. Apples just aren't exotic enough.
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    Lejan .

    • +2
    Oct 23 2013: Homeopathy has not worked for me so far, yet if it helps others, thats OK with me.

    I would rather have all the energy wasted on weather or not homeopathy is working focused on the placebo effect. It is still not understood, it does effect health and there is huge potential for all of us and all disciplines to benefit from.
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    Oct 22 2013: homeopathy is as good as the good ol' doc's knowledge
    and good old common sense
  • Oct 22 2013: Nadav, you need to go back to school. I'm not calling you stupid (as you do others), but pointing out the fact that you have no right to make others' decisions for them. Infections? Please! And as for public budgets, homeopathy is the most cost effective of the alternative field, and has less waste. It's the ultimate green medicine. And what makes you the arbiter of 'proper medical attention?' Do you have any kind of degree or knowledge?
    • Oct 22 2013: Not in medicine. I'm an engineering student, and military before that.
      Though it would be a sad day indeed that men can be lead around like sheep, degree or otherwise. I'm simply not convinced with the body of evidence laid before me. If not being a doctor myself, I can manage to spot problems in a research paper, than its a pretty blatant mistake (or perhaps an attempt to cherry pick the results, hard to say).
      Don't take this as a personal attack. I have an issue with homeopathy, not with you.

      And seriously, hubris demanding proof? Its a little thing called the scientific method. Without it, we'd still be making up thunder gods to explain the lightning outside because we wouldn't know better.

      All in all, I'd say there are also places where forcing decisions onto people is the right call. We have laws that make seat belts mandatory, so why not vaccines for example? That's where the "infections" part comes in.
      Homeopathy, as far as I'm aware, makes little difference one way or the other, so I don't really care whether its banned or not so long as public budgets aren't allocated towards it at the expense of conventional medicine (which has scientific evidence backing it).
      • Oct 22 2013: No, Nadav - I am saying your 'show me your proof' is hubris. Who are you to demand someone show you proof? I don't have to prove anything to you. If you don't believe something, that's your problem. I don't intend on 'laying evidence' in front of anyone. Not my job!

        If I see something working, I discount all the ways it could be working and focus on one thing. In other words, if someone gets better using ONLY homeopathy, that's great, but if you take immune system boosters, or antibiotics, or antioxidants, it doesn't mean homeopathy worked, it means you helped your body with other things, not solely homeopathy.
        • Oct 23 2013: And because you don't understand how it works, you can never actually be certain that its not coincidence. Or even if you are sure it is homeopathy doing the healing, you'll never know how to properly optimize it.

          The body knows how to heal itself of all types of problems. Often, homeopathic treatments are given, and the body heals itself just like it would without them. Correlation does not imply causation.

          Say I took a sugar pill a day every time I got the common cold. Eventually, I'd get better either way, and could easily attribute it to the sugar pill which did nothing, because I kept right on taking it through my illness. With no control to compare to, there are no conclusions worth drawing.
          It works just fine with more serious conditions too. Broken bones and open wounds all heal all on their own, with or without homeopathic care. Again, without a control group, you just can't attribute one to the other.
  • Oct 22 2013: Do your homeo-work before you spout off. There have been hundreds of peer-reviewed studies and meta analyses but you aren't interested in facts, are you?
  • Oct 22 2013: The placebo effect is less powerful than you think. In practice, it often makes people feel better, when they aren't actually physically better. It also doesn't work on skeptics, and if you know the first thing about chemistry (high school level knowledge, really), you should be skeptical of homeopathy.

    The real threat however, is people's tenancy to buy into the homeopathic and other "alternative medicine" garbage instead of seeking proper medical attention. Now normally I don't mind letting people make stupid decisions with their own private funds, but this being about medicine, some of these people will become infectious, or lobby to divert public budgets, and that makes it everyone's problem.
    • Oct 27 2013: Homeopathy when well prescribed works on sceptics just as well as on believers. Badly prescribed remedies don't work on sceptics or on believers.
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    Nov 17 2013: About 15 years ago I was out of work and hoping to find a job within walking distance of my home. I responded to an ad in the local paper for the position of office manner at a nearby homeopathic clinic. After faxing my resume I picked up two books at our local library on homeopathy, realizing that although I was well-qualified as an office manager, I could use some background on homeopathy to give me a leg-up during a possible job interview.

    During my research, in a book by Maria Castro, "The Complete Homeopathy Handbook", I came across a homeopathic cure which was indicated for my general symptoms, emotional/mental symptoms, and my specific physical complaint of "BELLY/STOMACH: bloated; intolerant of tight clothing; rumbling.", an issue which had plagued me for decades. The remedy indicated by my various symptoms was 'Nux Vomica' (in Canada, marketed as' Colubrina'). I bought some colubrina, rated at dilution strength - 30 succussions, and used it successfully to eliminate my stomach pain on subsequent flare-ups, which now recur infrequently. I have since used various remedies, most notably 'Silicia' for mouth inflammations which occasionally occur after eating heavily spiced foods.

    It has often occurred to me that my recovery from these particular complaints may be due to my expectation of recovery as much, or more, than it has to do with the actual physical homeopathic cure. In my higher flights of fancy I am even prepared to credit my recoveries to the mere presence of the silicia in my medicine cabinet, or in the world at large. Perhaps knowing that Ms. Castro's handbook exists is all that is needed.

  • Oct 30 2013: Homeopathy has never presented itself as conforming to bulk drug chemistry theory. You're demolishing a straw man. If you don't have the scientific spirit to investigate other paradigms then just hang it up. You're trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
    Since Homeopathy is used by hundreds of millions of satisfied patients worldwide your opinion about "harm" is completely unsubstantiated. In the West it's mostly used by people who haven't been satisfied or are not satisfied with the mainstream.
    Time to move on.
  • Oct 30 2013: C'mon Nadav, just go and read the research and stop speculating that you know something that actual researchers aren't aware of or haven't accounted for that will support your already established bias.
    • Oct 30 2013: Problem is, I read the research. It doesn't add up. There is no reason for homeopathy to work on paper according to modern chemistry.
      Researches of it working in practice seem to split this way and that, though I've seen more researches with proper methodology claiming it doesn't work than the opposite.

      Now, normally I wouldn't mind people throwing away their own personal funds on stuff that doesn't work so long as its of their own free will, but with medicine, public budgets and infectious diseases are on the line, which makes it actively harmful to everyone
  • Oct 29 2013: Well, Gerald, one of the dilemmas for me is that people who are not responsible for patient outcomes and have no medical credentials wish to horn in on the choices of medical care by people they probably don't actually care about. Did they teach materials science at your high school? Probably not. You might want to read up on the work by Prof. Rustum Roy at Penn. State who illustrated how ultra dilutions of material substances changed the molecular structure of water about 20 years ago. Did they have electron spectroscopy at your high school? Probably not. The Institute of Technology in Bombay was able to scope out the existence of starting materials which formed nano-particles in ultradilutions as high as 200C.
    Since Homeopathy relies on a different paradigm to bulk drugs it can't be tested exactly the same way for a one-size-fits-all disease condition. You can't fit a square peg into a round hole and nobody who does actual research would insist on RCTs for everything as you seem to be doing -- um, exactly what kind of original research have you done lately anyway? How about some RCTs for anaesthetics, and perhaps you could volunteer if you're not afraid of being in the placebo group... You see there's no established mechanism of action for anaesthetics but nobody refuses them or refuses to use them because of this small problem.
    Funny how the pharma industry is now pursuing nano-particle studies for drug delivery systems. It's about 250 years BEHIND Homeopathy. Guess they're just catching up, right?
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      Oct 29 2013: " about 250 years BEHIND Homeopathy. Guess they're just catching up, right? "
      Even if homeopathy had been right all along, this isn't a valid argument. It's not how science is done.
      I could tell you cell phones don't cause cancer and it might be shown that I was right in 250 years, but that doesn't make me a propper scientist. And I certainly wouldn't have a propper theory about it, or propper results from well conducted experiments.

      "who illustrated how ultra dilutions of material substances changed the molecular structure of water"
      Alright. But then what? Does it stay that way? Does this affect the body? What happens when the pellets are dissolved under one's tongue, the changed molecules mix with the normal water molecules of the saliva and... what? Do they change the structure of these, by contact? How?

      "the existence of starting materials which formed nano-particles in ultradilutions as high as 200C. "
      So now it's the discovery of unknown particles??
      How was this mesured. They didn't have a megaquarkotron in my high school, so maybe you can explain this to me. What was the clue for the existence of these nano-particles? Mass? Energy? Interaction with other particles?
      But no, I've read the article. The nanoparticles in question are cristals. Cristals are an assembly of molecules and this has nothing to do with super-avogadro dillutions.

      "um, exactly what kind of original research have you done lately anyway?"
      None. I'm just a guy sitting on his ass, trying to learn stuff. It's a long and strenuous process because I'm cursed with a bullshit-proof brain.
  • Oct 29 2013: It is amazing how many seemingly smart people become literally stupid and ignorant in their critique of homeopathy. These people are ignoring the several hundred randomized and placebo controlled double-blind studies that have been published in the BMJ, Lancet, Chest, Rheumatology, Pediatrics, Cancer, Pediatrics Infectious Disease Journal, and many others. Further, the Swiss govt commissioned a study of homeopathy, and here's a link to information

    Further, the author of the above comment is seemingly un-informed about the compelling evidence for nanoparticles that remain in homeopathic solutions...and in doses that are physiologically active, as noted in this prestigious journal in the field of material sciences: Chikramane PS, Kalita D, Suresh AK, Kane SG, Bellare JR. Why Extreme Dilutions Reach Non-zero Asymptotes: A Nanoparticulate Hypothesis Based on Froth Flotation.
    Langmuir. 2012 Nov 1.
    • Oct 29 2013: So you're saying their math is wrong, and there are actually traces of the original material left? That's certainly a better explanation than water memory (a work of fiction if I ever heard one), but it still has some holes in it, namely, why a harmful material would produce beneficial effects. Its not like the dosage is carefully controlled or anything, if they were until recently unaware there are traces of the original material left at all--in fact, according to most people in this thread, most homeopathy supporters are still unaware of it.

      I've seen other researches over the years claiming homeopathy to be nothing more than quackery, but posting article per article will get us nowhere on that front. Especially seeing that most sources are biased this way or that; its hard to find proper neutral reporting (I'd say these days, but I have a strong suspicion it was always the case).

      I do however, have rather strong doubts that homeopathy, developed in a haphazard manner and sporting practically no R&D funds managed to outperform conventional medicine in anything. Especially considering just how much R&D goes into the conventional stuff, both in terms of funds, expertise, and methodology (the last one comes with the side effect of your doctor actually knowing how the treatment works, a point homeopaths seem a bit weak on, even if they claim it still works).
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      Oct 29 2013: I'm ignorant and stupid, but working on it. I've read the article about nanoparticles. Can you tell me more about these?
      For instance, if I take Mercurius Solubilis pellets, which are extreme dillutions of mercury (such as which is found in fish and thermometers) to get better from a pharyngitis... how do the atoms of mercury get divided into these nanoparticles? Surely you need more power than dillution to separate a nucleus. But I don't thing you're reffering to protons and neutrons, are you? Because obviously you'd end up with other elements in the dividing process.
      So yeah, I'd love to educate myself about these nanoparticles I've never heard about in chemistry class.

      But here's my really dumb question ;
      where does the dilluting water come from? I mean, if the idea is to ensure that only a ridiculous fraction of a molecule ends up in the finished product, what is the purifying method that checks the gigantic quantities of water for traces of unwanted fractions of everything else?

      Please help me, I don't enjoy being an ignorant.
      • Oct 29 2013: Glad to hear that you want to learn, though it is VERY strange that you would write what you wrote above, taking your firm position, despite seemingly knowing virtually nothing about this field, neither the body of clinical evidence, basic science evidence epidemiological evidence, its international status, or its impressive history of usage, success, and popularity, especially amongst educated populations (literally EVERY survey ever conducted has shown that people who use homeopathy tend to be considerably more educated than those who do not).

        If you knew just a little about homeopathy, you would know that the water used in homeopathy is DOUBLE-DISTILLED, deemed "pharmaceutical grade" water. The fact that you did not know this sheds a serious shadow over you. How can you be taken seriously at all if you write about a subject with so little knowledge of it?

        The best scientists are the most HUMBLE. I sincerely hope that you'll stop writing about this subject until you gain considerably more knowledge about it. You might enjoy and benefit from my own collection of articles on homeopathy at:

        Finally, based on your question above, you said that you read the article on nanoparticles, though it also seems that you do not yet understand what was written and verified in controlled experimentation that was discussed in that article.
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          Oct 29 2013: " I sincerely hope that you'll stop writing about this subject until you gain considerably more knowledge about it. "

          On this forum, people often come up either with questions of with erroneous conceptions about scientific theories. Instantly there is a flow of thorough explanations from fellow TEDsters. Very few people will reply to a misconception about quantum mechanics with hostility.
          And, just a reminder, I'm not writing anything about homeopathy as much as I'm asking questions about it, looking for people who know something about it.

          Oh, and you didn't answer any of my simple questions. Why not? Is it because you don't know?
          If you know, what are the reasons for not educating me and other people like me on this forum?

          PS : thanks for the double-distilled water info. I guess simple distillation isn't enough. Are we sure double-distillation is enough, though? How do we know? Is there a way to say that there is ABSOLUTELY nothing left in the purified water? (is a double distillation the equivalent of a 12CH dillution?)
      • Oct 29 2013: Gerald...sorry for my irritability towards you...please accept my apology. There are many pseudo-skeptics of homeopathy who pretend to want to learn about homeopathy but who refuse to read the research or the theoretical explanations, and yet, they remain arrogant and ignorant (a bad combination for maintaining a healthy scientific attitude).

        I should not assume that you are one of these lug-heads.

        Here's a reference to a brilliant overview of homeopathy and nanoparticles. You will learn how nanodoses can actually provide a profound physiological reaction than larger doses...because they are able to sift through cellular membranes more easily (and other reasons...explained in this article). Enjoy it...because it heralds a profound paradigm change from "bigger is better" (or more powerful!).

        Bell IR, Koithan M. A model for homeopathic remedy effects: low dose nanoparticles, allostatic cross-adaptation, and time-dependent sensitization in a complex adaptive system. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012 Oct 22;12(1):191.
  • Oct 27 2013: This is a loaded start to the conversation. Why do you assume it is quackery? Have you read any homeopathic textbooks explaining how it works? Do you know that for 15 years a hospital had one ward dedicated to homeopathic medicne, patients were assigned to either that ward or the mainstream medicine ward purely on the basis of where there was a spare bed. It started as a one year trial but the results for homeopathy were so astounding that the director of the hospital extended it eventually for 15 years. By the end of the trial the director had become a homeopath based only on the results that he had personally observed. Assuming that this is placebo rather than a scientific method which science has not yet understood is patronising.
    If quantum physics had not been accepted as mainstream science the same arguments could be used to discredit it. eg. the observer influences the outcome, as described in the is it a wave or is it a particle experiment. the entire basis of sympathetic magic is that the observer can influence the outcome by chanting, dancing, using willpower etc. so willful misinterpretation could say that quantum physics is just sympathetic magic.
    Only willful misinterpretation brands homeopathy as placebo. Statistics from mnajor epidemics, eg cholera, 1918 spanish flu,yellow fever all show deaths under homeopathic treatment to be from 30 to 90% fewer than under mainstream treatment. How much more effective does it need to be to lose the placebo tag?

    Try it for yourself. Nux Vomica poisoning can be mistaken for alcohol poisoning clinically. Next hangover, try Nux vomica 6c or 30c and note the results for yourself. Tell yourself that you don't believe in homeopathy while you do so. Belief won't make any difference to whether it works or not.
    • Oct 27 2013: Current consensus among physicists is that the observer has nothing to do with quantum physics. Schrodinger's cat is an analogy that's supposed to put the theory in a ridiculous light, not something to taken as fact.
      Placebos work in an entirely different manner. Its well known for example that someone that's depressed is more liable to have a weakened immune system. The mind does have an effect on the state of the body.

      I've seen other statistics that can manage to attribute nothing to homeopathy other than the placebo effect. It doesn't help that our modern understanding of physics and chemistry says it shouldn't work, and that most proper researches support as much.
      • Oct 27 2013: Skeptics have opinions that are not well grounded from any position of authority as physicians, homeopaths, homeopathic patients, pharmaceutical chemists, or as professionals trained in any of the health care and research fields.

        While the skeptics are dissing homeopathy with cries of "placebo effect", much exciting research is being conducted. I have taken the liberty of including some more information about this research. .

        “Banerji protocols utilising homoeopathic medicine: a Best Case Series Program of the National Cancer Institute USA

        Abstract: Lung and oesophageal carcinoma patients were treated with homoeopathic remedies at the PBHRF according to Banerji's protocol until there was complete regression of the tumors. Case records including pathology and radiology reports for 14 patients were submitted for review by the US NCI BCS Program. Four of these cases had an independent confirmation of the diagnosis and radiographic response and were accepted as sufficient information for the NCI to initiate further investigation. These four cases are presented in detail in this report along with follow-up and outcome information. This study describes the process and outcome of a selected case series review through the NCI BCS Program. The results of the review were deemed to be sufficient to warrant NCI-initiated prospective research follow-up in the form of an observational study.”

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          Oct 27 2013: Skeptics love a good explanation. Dear Sandra. For the sake of your entire contribution to this debate, would you mind answering a few questions about how the stuff works?
          I appreciate the links and the elaborate descriptions, but some of us skeptics are ignorants and some are discouraged by a few acronyms.
          If I could just ask a few simple questions, would that be ok?
  • Oct 24 2013: Agreed, Harald! The prevention has always been my main focus, and you can't do that with the current healthcare system. It's suppression of symptoms, not cure. And now we're relying more and more on expensive tests to see if there's a problem. More focus on diet and exercise is needed, and conversations on how that can be accomplished! I always tell people if you put poor fuel in your car, don't expect it to run well. Fuel is your food! (without GMOs)
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      Oct 24 2013: Agreed, also let's not forget the psychological health. Many diseases are psychosomatic and probably can be prevented if the mind is in healthy conditions.
    • Oct 24 2013: Finally something we can agree on.

      Thing is, this particular problem isn't rooted in the healthcare system. Its rooted in culture and social norms, which are much harder to reform, and are much less subject to both business and legislative initiative.
      After all, its not your insurance or your doctor preventing you to exercise and eat well; they'd both readily advise the opposite in fact. It mostly comes down to self discipline, a most elusive craft.

      The one big prevention method that is in fact the domain of the healthcare system, vaccination, they actually do quite well.
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        Oct 24 2013: True, it is to a big degree a cultural issue. People want instant gratification, without much of an effort. Unfortunately, this is also true for health.
        People take their health for granted until they get sick and even then usually fight only the symptoms but not the underlying root cause.
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    Oct 23 2013: This is the view of the UK House of Commons Science and Technology committee concerning homeopathy.
    For anybody interested in the whole report which contains large numbers of references check out here:

    "By providing homeopathy on the NHS and allowing MHRA licensing of products
    which subsequently appear on pharmacy shelves, the Government runs the risk of
    endorsing homeopathy as an efficacious system of medicine. To maintain patient trust,
    choice and safety, the Government should not endorse the use of placebo treatments,
    including homeopathy. Homeopathy should not be funded on the NHS and the MHRA
    should stop licensing homeopathic products."
    • Oct 24 2013: As to the Sci and Tech Committee, out of a 13-member committee, only 3 voted against homeopathy. One was not on the committee at the time of the hearings, one did not attend any hearings and one (Dr. Evan Harris) is well known for his bias against homeopathy and was seen taking part in one of those silly street- corner "overdose" exhibitions. He was later voted out of his MP seat as were the others.

      The real story about homeopathy is told by the Swiss HTA. It was commissioned by the government in order to evaluate 5 CAM modalities including homeopathy and is the most comprehensive analysis of all of the homeopathic literature of the past 40 years ever conducted by any government. It found that homeopathy is as effective as con med, in some cases more effective, and is vastly safer.

      Unlike the report of the Sci and Tech Committee, it was produced by appropriately qualified professionals without a vested interest. The 13 members of the investigating team included 10 professionals trained in con med of whom 6 are also trained in homeopathy. The other three had training in physics, electrical engineering and sociology. 8 of the 13 held academic positions of whom 6 had been involved in CAM research. The full text and names of the authors of each chapter are at:

      A separate cost-effectiveness study was done and concluded that homeopathy is 15.4% less expensive than con med.
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        Oct 24 2013: Christine, you should not confuse science with pseudoscience. Homeopathy is pseudoscience.
        If somebody tries to convince me to take a product where not even 1 single molecule of the active ingredient is present I'd call him a charlatan.
        Until today nobody was able to explain. based on sound science, how the absence of any active ingredient (let alone the shaking ritual) in an homeopathic product could possibly have any physiological effect.......and please don't tell me about the "molecular memory", which sounds more like some sort of dark age witchcraft.
        The same is true for the lack of an explanation how like cures likes.
        In other words, what are the physiological principles on which homeopathy is supposed to work ?

        Many diseases are psychosomatic, which might explain why homeopathic products might help in some cases. Science calls this the placebo effect.

        But then, as I said, the use of homeopathic products at least doesn't hurt anybody so whoever wants to throw out money for it should be free to do so.
  • Oct 23 2013: I am reminded of the fact that homeopathy is very cheap and can even be done at home for many problems. This is a threat to pharmaceutical $hits.
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      Oct 23 2013: Judging from the people I know, homeopathy users are constant consumers whereas other people only purchase medecine when they are ill.
      Of course, a few billion dollar industry is no match to the hundreds of dollar industry of pharmaceutics.
      But pharmaceutics sell medecine...

      Anyway, yeah, people I know keep buying cheap pellets but also more expensive aroma therapy and essences and cristals and creams and you name it. The thing that bothers me is the habit of consumerism linked to supposed well-being. Homeopaths are the first to advocate that the body can heall itself, yet there is a solid ideology that getting rid of toxins or stress or bad energy is reached through a constant workout of shopping quack items and potions.
      The fact that the homeopathy isn't broke is proof of its failure.
      • Oct 27 2013: Please don't bring in aromatherapy, crystals or even hopi indian ear candles. They have nothing to do with homeopathy and are used by people who use mainstream medicine as much as by people using homeopathy. Homeopathy is not usually prescribed on a constant basis. Eg. After a homeopathic consultation you are most likely to be prescribed 3 pills to take over 24 hours and wait one month to see what results there are . I realise that this will also sound unlikely to maionstream users, but the point is that the dosage rate is very low.
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          Oct 27 2013: True. But I don't think it's a coincidence if homeopathy users don't mind taking other kinds of alternative medecine as well.
          Everybody I know who believes homeopathy is more than a placebo also believes in eating according to bloodtype and ambre necklaces to prevent infant tooth aches. Really.
          Also, they distrust mainstream science as a whole. And I don't think that's reasonnable, especially when they gladly jump on the first pseudo-scientific dubious theory PROVING that microwave ovens are deadly.
          Alright, I'm not saying homeopathy doesn't work. I'm not saying there aren't any good things about the way homeopaths deal with their patients. But for the name of Jesus Christ people should ask for explanations or it's the end of the world. And I blame alternative medecine for accustoming consumers to unclarity. "Like cures like" is a proverb, not an equation.
          There is more intellectual hazard than people realize in this laziness.
          I've had no answers yet to my numerous questions concerning homeopathy.
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    Oct 23 2013: If homeopathy is effective, why doesn't some big pharma company come up with a slightly different preperation method and patent it? Here's an interesting observation. I live in Newcastle Australia a city with about 600,000 inhabitants. If I search homeopath in the local phone directory I get 7 hits. If I search naturopath I get 89 hits. Apparently Australians don't do homeopathy?
    • Oct 23 2013: 1. It isn't possible to patent natural substances. The only patentable homeopathic medicines are proprietary
      compounds, and they sell for about US $12 a package -- perhaps a 3 - 4 week supply. Most conventional
      drugs cost a minimum of US $125 for a 4-week supply.

      2. Most naturopaths are trained in and practice homeopathy.
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        Oct 23 2013: You could patent the preperation method. The US patent office is world famous for issuing patents where the applicant makes an inconsequential change to an existing product or procedure to isolate the US market from international competition.
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        Oct 24 2013: Is that crickets I hear?
    • Oct 28 2013: It just goes to show, Peter, like many of the skeptics who denounce homeopathy, don't know what they are talking about. The principles used in the preparation of ultra-diluted medicines are in the public domain and have been for 200+ years. Changing the methodology cannot produce a medicine that could be patented. The Boiron company has patented the name oscillococcinum (an influenza prophylactic and therapeutic), but they cannot patent the medicine which comes from a source in the public domain.
      The majority of skeptics of homeopath are not speaking from personal experience, they are just regurgitating received "wisdom" or knowledge they have heard or read and then go on to repeat what they have heard or read. They tend to latch onto one element of homeopathy, usually the ultra-molecular dilution issue, and fail to understand the wider aspects that relate to the nature of disease and treatment.
      I am not interested in changing the skeptic's minds which are steadfastly and irrevocably made up. This is because they now BELIEVE what they spout. A belief is not knowledge, it is not science, it is not evidence it is a belief that has strong emotional attachments and forms part of the self image of the skeptic; and he/she is fully entitled to his belief. He/she is not entitled to denigrate others who do not share their belief.
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        Oct 28 2013: I'm basing my comment on extensive knowledge of US patent law( mainly to do with production methods and design of bicycle frames), I don't really care whether homeopathy works, but I do know there are hundreds of US patents regarding the most insignificant details of mountainbike design and manufacture that prevent foreign companies selling bikes in the US. I don't see why you couldn't come up with a slightly different but unique method of preperation.
  • Oct 23 2013: Gerald O'brian
    Andorra City

    75 years young, and I never could decide how to pronounce Homeopathy.
    I never looked into it at all, not ever.

    Those of you who needed it, used it, benefited from it, Great.

    For me, It was, and I guess still is, just another word I cannot understand.

    Snake-oil, or real deal? Heck I don't know. If no one has gone to jail then
    it was probably ok. But who cares. I get sick, I get well, or off to the VA.
    The VA has the nation's best system of Hospitals and Clinics. Those of
    you who want Health Insurance, God help you. Hillary Clinton tried to sell
    you the same snake-oil during her husband's first term. Wiser heads said no.
    Now you have listened to the pied piper Obama. What fools ye mortals be.
    • Oct 23 2013: I see about a couple dozen vets with PTSD and TBI. The VA doesn't handle so well what homeopathy swiftly rights. Some had been trying to get relief since 'nam.
      • Oct 24 2013: Renita, Thank you for your aid to vets.

        I cannot criticize severely against homeopathy, nor speak openly and loudly
        to defend it. I just don't know it, or anything about it.
        If it works, Great.

        Barbers used to pull teeth, and now 100 years of Dentists haven't found
        a true working relationship with medical doctors.

        Renita, we live in a strange world of non-acceptance, or political voodoo.
        I administered a healthcare company, and because the charges were so
        high for non-medical services, we excluded them, along with those pre-
        existing conditions. Otherwise people could not afford the premiums.

        In the 1960's-70's premiums for major medical were $11 a month and for a
        family of 5, $23 more. A $50 deductible, The first $1000 for accidents paid
        at 100%. Major Medical 80/20 with a $250,000 cap. Do you see why today's
        Corporate Health Insurance is in a premium-disaster mode?

        Health Insurance companies have a terrible history of payment. Justified, over
        and over again. Those who think that Obamacare is going to work will wake up
        some day to the fact that their money is gone. and the Corporate Health Insurers
        will need the same bail-out we gave the banks. Hillary Clinton tried to do the same
        thing during her husband's first term. She called into her office, all the largest
        Insurers of the day. They told her how to set up a Health Insurance program for
        our nation. Somehow, back then, wiser heads said no.
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    Oct 22 2013: yes. first, we don't need specific laws, we need general laws. if you suggest that our general laws are defective, we need to attempt to fix them, and not patch them.

    but i also claim that genera rules if set in accordance with moral, can not outlaw homeopathy. it can, on the other hand, outlaw parts of it.


    in general, there is nothing immoral in homeopathy. even if it hurts, the person taking it hurts himself, and we have no right to interfere. similarly, we don't ban alcohol, fast food, coca cola either. the freedom of choice includes the freedom of failure.

    however, this is true only if there is no fraud involved. homeopathic practicers can not promise things they can not deliver. if they lied about their product, they are liable for full refund, and arguably for the damage done.
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      Oct 22 2013: Good point.
      What if the practicioners are unaware of the deceit? What if they themselves believe in the medecine they are selling?
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        Oct 22 2013: this is a much harder question. an analogy would be a car mechanic that unknowingly made your car dangerous. according to current law, and probably to common sense, one can not claim expertise if does not possess one.

        not easy to tell though, because homeopathy is widely practiced, and has millions of followers, thus it is hard to argue that a practicer should have doubts.
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          Oct 22 2013: Yes, and thanks to the placebo effect, his unscientific business can actually work sometimes...

          I've given thought to the entire thing. A better homeopathy should skip the costly and pointless dilluting process and the money that it raises (and placebos shouldn't come free) should be used for healthcare, not corporate profit. Also, it should be presented as ordinary medecine, or as something "natural", extracted from plants or whatever, but it should get rid of the idea of "like cures like" and of the infinitesimal dillutions and anything else contradicting the laws of physics and logic.
          In other words, it would be more ethical if it lied about its pharmacology, selling mollecules that are not there, instead of selling water memory : you could even cure the people who'd have paid attention in high-school chemistry class.

          Or would you dismiss the entire placebo commerce on the grounds that it's not worth the cost of having bullshit running in the medical corpus ?
  • Nov 21 2013: So Gerald, sorry to leave this til the last minute. I hope you get a chance to comment.
    I hope I have shown you that homeoathy is not just mumbo jumbo, even if I can't explain the exact scientific mechanism.
    It is interesting that the sceptics point of view that homeopathy cannot work because it flies in the face of established scientific principales is an almost exact translation of what the Pope said to Galileo, and we all know how that story ended! Science is discovering new ideas all the time, somebody may come along any day and turn accepted knowledge on its head, in the same way quantum physics overturned the older Newtonian physics model.
    Homeopathy does no harm why try to get rid of it?
    Thanks for the conversation. It's the first time I've joined in on Ted.
  • Nov 21 2013: 5th reason
    Homeopathy is cheap.
    All homeopathic remedies are all sold at the same price. This is 6.50 euros or about £5 for enough tablets for 10 people or more. The cheapest generic antibiotic available on prescription here is 9.50 euros and is only enough for one person.
    It is also very cheap because very few tablets are needed. Most minor illnesses seem to clear up within 4 to 6 tablets.
  • Nov 21 2013: 4th reason
    Homeopathy has a place in disease prevention.
    Cuba spent decades trying to control their annual leptospirosis (Weil's disease) epidemic with vaccines at a cost of 3 million dollars annually. Even at this cost the death rate still numbered several thousand every year. A few years ago the epidemic was particularly virulent and the vaccine was not controlling it. Cuba spent 300,000 dollars on a homeopathic preventative and distributed it to everyone in the 3 provinces most at risk, leaving the other 2 provinces as a control group.
    For the first time ever the death rate fell to under a hundred in the 3 provinces but remained unchanged in the 2 provinces. This lowering of deaths from Leptospirosis remained low for 15 months at least. Reference elsewhere in the conversation.

    Also, Influenzinum has recently been licenced in Canada as a flu preventative. To do this it has passed the same tests as a conventional vaccine and has been assesssed as "safe and effective when used according to the instructions on the label"
  • Nov 21 2013: 3rd reason.
    Homeopathy is effective during epidemics.
    Death rates in epidemics are always lower in homeopathic hospitals than in mainstream hospitals. During the Irish potato famine, in 1847, the death rate from dysentry in Bantry hospital was 36%, under homeopathy it was 13 %. So you were almost 3 times as likely to die if you didn't use homeopathy.
    Other epidemics:+
    Cholera, London 1854. Death rate mainstream 59.2 % homeopathy 2%
    (even now with oral rehydration therapy cholera deaths are in excess of 2%)
    Swine flu: 1918 Dayton Ohio. Mainstream hospital 24,000 cases mortality 28.2%,
    homeopathic hospital 26,000 cases mortality 1. 05 %
    If it is a placebo then it certainly seems to save lives during epidemics.
    Other people in this conversation have given references and links to these statistics so you can check them for yourself if you want to.
  • Nov 21 2013: 1st reason to leave homeopathy alone.
    Homeopathy is safer than mainstream medicine.
    Doctor error and strange reactions to mainstream medicine is the THIRD most common cause of death in the U.S. This can happen with something as comon as antibiotics, and increases in frequency the more medicine combinations that people are prescribed
    Nobody has ever overdosed on a homeopathic remedies.
    Nobody has ever committed suicide using a homeopathic remedy.
    Nobody has ever gone into anaphylitic shock from a homeopathic remedy.
    No child has ever suffered liver failure by eating a homeopathic medicine kit, whereas just 8 tablets of paracetamol cause death.
    No homeopathic remedy has ever interacted with a mainstream medicine to produce new illnesses.
    Homeopathic remedies can be used safely while someone stays on their prescribed drugs.
    So why ban it?
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      Nov 21 2013: So why ban it?

      You're damn right. It's harmless. In fact it's harmless x 10^30 , so even ingesting tons of 30CH Mercurius Solubilis (diluted mercury) would be completely harmless.
      But after reading these comments and giving it some thought, I think it should be banned because the one thing it is harmful to is the intellect.
      The world around us is becoming more mysterious and fascinating as science goes deeper into the unknown. I want my children to be part of this wonder, but they can only be a part of it if they value honnesty. Cheap shortcuts, belief in magic, belief that ANNECDOTE serves as scientific theory is not compatible with the current intellectual adventure.
      So as much as I know that placebos can do wonders, I'd rather tell them a good joke or pet them in the back and tell them it's going to get better than resorting to having them believe in voodoo or Jesus Christ or homeopathy.
  • Nov 21 2013: Continuing from last comment.
    I think homeopathy should be available for people who want it because of freedom of choice.
    1 in 14 of the world's population use homeopathy as their first choice of treatment.( WHO statistic). We need a very good reason to deprive over 7 % of the world's people of their medicine of choice. Unless there is danger or suffering in allowing homeop0athy then why ban it.?
  • Nov 21 2013: Sorry Gerald,
    I wandered off for a couple of weeks. Just checked in to see if it ever got back on topic. ie Should we just leave homeopathy alone and let people use it as they wish.
    My answer would be "Why not?"
    There are many advantages to using homeopathy both for home prescribing as described by Don Rankine and others, and as prescribed by a homeopath for more serious conditions.
    I might need several comments to list these advantages, so please bear with me if I go on a bit.
    As background I will say that I have used homeopathy for family, friends and in my neighbourhood for 35 years. Because of homeopathy clearing up colds, flu's, tummy bugs, toothaches, hangovers, etc etc. this meant that my three children each needed only 3 courses of antibiotics during their first 16 years. Each child went off for " proper medicine" when they were older but came back to homeopahy because they found that it worked better for them. I can't tell you exactly howt it works, but I don't k how he washing machine or the computer works either, I just use them to do the job I want doing. I expect that at some point someone will explain the mechanism, but I am content with using what works.
    Apart from homeopathy, I am not superstitious or even particularly unconventional, so your "amber beads to cure toothache" comment felt pretty insulting
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      Nov 21 2013: Don't be insulted, I was insulting the amber-beads guy.
      He says that since pain can be reduced to electrical signals in our nervous system, a device with electromagnetic properties that could interact with the signals could thus reduce pain.
      Of course, he's wrong. But his idea makes a HELL of more sense than the "like cures like" nonsense, or my favorite : water memory, and the prospect that water's memory is absolutely cleared through two distillations only but will remember a single molecule after 15 centesimal dilutions... and, come on, that this water can activate something in our immune system if we mix it with our saliva...
      You tell me who should feel insulted.
      • Nov 21 2013: I did post something in reply, butit doesn't seem to have arrived there, so forgive me if I repeat myself.
        Apology accepted. I can sympathise with your scepticism. I didn't rate homeopathy when I heard about it either. I only gave it credibility when I tried it, having tried everything else and got results. Experience may not trump theory, but anyone who finds that something works and then denies their own experience is foolish, as I'm sure you'll agree.
        I don't think that the lack of a theory that satisfied you is any reason to attack homeopathy. I still vote for leaving it up to people's own freedom of choice. Since the head of psychatry for Southern Ireland admitted at a public lecture that 90% of psychiatric drugs only work on a placebo level I don't think that your suspicion that homeopathy is a placebo would be sufficient reason to stop people using it.
        But where do you stand in this? I'd be interested to know
  • Nov 2 2013: The Father of Homeopathy, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann received his M.D. with honors in conventional medicine (known as orthodox medicine at that time) from University of Erlangen, Germany in 1779. In 1790, he discovered principle of similar (published in 1796) and started researching on new system of medicine which he later called “homoeopathy” in a paper published in 1807. From Germany (1796), homeopathy spreads to Austria (1816) and then to the rest of the Europe. The birth date of the founder and father of Homeopathy i.e. 10 April every year is celebrated as ‘ World Homeopathy Day‘ and the week following his birthday i.e. 10-16 April every year is celebrated as ‘World Homeopathy Awareness Week ‘ all through the world.
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      Nov 2 2013: How different his life would've been if he'd known about germs.
      • Nov 4 2013: Hahnemann said in 1831, “On board ships – in those confined spaces, filled with mouldy watery vapours, the cholera-miasm finds a favourable element for its multiplication, and grows into an enormously increased brood of those excessively minute, invisible, living creatures, so inimical to human life, of which the contagious matter of the cholera most probably consists millions of those miasmatic animated beings, which, at first developed on the broad marshy banks or the tepid Ganges– on board these ships, I say, this concentrated aggravated miasm kills several of the crew ...[ref].

        Ref: Samuel Hahnemann, Appeal to Thinking Philanthropists Respecting the Mode of Propagation of the Asiatic Cholera (20 pages), Leipzig, 1831, republished in The British Journal of Homoeopathy, Oct 1849, translated by Roberet Ellis Dudgeon, M.D. in The Lesser Writings of Samuel Hahnemann, 1851 edition, B Jain Publishers, reproduced edition, 2002, p. 758.

        It was another 9 years before Henle called these micro-organisms as “germs” in 1840 in his persuasive germ theory.
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          Nov 4 2013: Interesting. No doubt he could've been a great scientist and could've contributed to the greatest invention since fire, the vaccine.
      • Nov 7 2013: The degree of immunity resulting from the administration of a vaccine is also known to be variable, depending on the potency of antigen preparation, the doses given, the interval between doses and the degree of ability (sensitivity) of the person to produce antibodies, when properly stimulated. All these reminds one of the homeopathic system of treatment.
        Ref: A.C.Dutta, Homoeopathy in the Light of Modern Science, 4th ed., B. Jain Publishers

        Preventive use of homeopathy was first applied in 1799 during an epidemic of scarlet fever in Königslütter, Germany, when Dr. Hahnemann prescribed a single dose of Belladona, as the remedy of the epidemic genius to susceptible children in the town with more than 95% success rate .

        It was another 125 years before Gladys Henry and George Frederick developed a vaccine for scarlet fever in 1924.
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    Oct 31 2013: Funny, what do Laurie, Dana, Sandra, Renita, Angela and Christine (did I miss a name ?) have in common ?
    They all appeared out of nowhere commenting exclusively on this threat.
    Looks to me like all those names belong to one and the same person trolling this threat.
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      Nov 1 2013: Also, they all respond agressively to criticism of ideas they can't explain themselves.
      Nice job, Sherlock.
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      Nov 4 2013: There was a similar set of new arrivals on a thread about the evils of aspartame a few months back. I think we have a pattern. Possibly something admin should look out for.
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        Nov 5 2013: Yeah, those things happen. We had that in the past with climate change topics as well. In general it happens when the topics are emotionally loaded. Some people just don't believe in serious debate.
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        Nov 5 2013: Hi, Peter. If you want moderators to look into something, I think you need to flag the post or write them an email.

        I think that each post in Conversations is read by someone, but with a team of moderators at work, depending how reading is allocated, they might catch some patterns and miss others.
    • Nov 10 2013: Speaking as Angela I can assure you that I am not Sandra, Laurie or Dana. Especially as Dana Ullman is a well known homeopathic author and lecturer, editor of the Huffington Post. I am just me.
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      Nov 10 2013: not necessarily. they can belong to the same group, like frequent visitors of a blog or something. and the first to discover, informs the others. that is pretty much what happened with the sheldrake talk. he himself (with or without intent) sent his army here to fight the holy war. the motivations also can vary. some just want to be part of a tribe. others are upset and desperate, or just feel that their point of view is under and misrepresented, and they need to work on fixing it.

      this is actually more interesting than the topic of homeopathy. the fast spread of information causes a lot of strange dynamics that wasn't possible 50 years ago. sometimes thousands of people act in sync spontaneously. this happens on the stock market. or on forums like this. sometimes can break websites, because it can't handle the sudden traffic peak.
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        Nov 10 2013: You know Rupert Sheldrake well enough to say that?
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          Nov 10 2013: i know what happened. i don't need to know someone to see what he did. the entry on sheldrake's blog about the takedown of his talk is still there, with a link to the discussion about it. you can guess what happened next.

          ps: i don't really know if it is still there, but i see no reason why would he took it down, so i assume it is.
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        Nov 10 2013: He sent his army here "with or without intent" to fight the "Holy War"?

        How can one send an army out without intent? And why is his war holy, and yours not?
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          Nov 10 2013: you write a post on your blog on a website done something bad to you, declare them as oppressors and such, and put a link to the website's comment section. either you just inform your readers about the comment section, you know, just to be specific, or you want people to go there and comment. the former case would "unintentional" the latter is "intentional".

          do i have to explain this very simple and obvious case in more detail?
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        Nov 10 2013: I maintain that you can't "explain this simple and obvious case in more detail" until you actually meet the man himself. Anything else is just speculation and amateur sleuthery.

        Why is his war holy and yours not? Please answer that question.
  • Oct 30 2013: Dana Ullman already commented on the double distilled water. It's the purest grade water available. It's pretty obvious that the research compared plain double distilled water with the same water in which ultra-diluted substances were placed. You seem to be focussed on quibbling over matters that have already been settled by actual research.
    There's no point in any further armchair quarterbacking. If you don't want to use homeopathy for whatever reason then don't.
    • Oct 30 2013: You've completely failed to address my point.
      I'm claiming that double distilled water isn't pure enough. You simply can't get 100% pure samples of anything, not with current day technology anyway. Best available does not equate sufficient--it merely means there is no sufficient to be found.

      Its irrelevant for most applications, but in homeopathy, where a single molecule supposedly makes a difference, how does it not get overshadowed by trace elements in the water? Are they also stored in the water's supposed memory?
      Because if that's the case, you ought to be aware that even the most distilled water out there still has impurities in the levels of parts per million, much more prevalent than homeopathy's supposed single molecule (assuming an impurity of one part per million, and a sample of one mole of water, 6.022 *10^17 more prevalent to be exact. Even if I'm off by several orders of magnitude, that's still pretty heavily in favor of the impurities).

      So essentially, left over impurities in the water are more significant than any homeopathic process the water underwent, despite the best distillation attempts of modern technology...
      • Oct 30 2013: It is clear that Nadav Tropp has NOT read the article on nanoparticles published in LANGMUIR or the article that I've referenced written by Iris Bell, MD, PhD.

        Until Nadav does this, s/he is simply yanking us all around with ignorance. This unscientific attitude is extremely typical of people who are skeptical of homeopathy (they are pseudo-skeptics and give skepticism a bad name). That said, I'm always willing to be proven wrong.
        • Oct 31 2013: I did read it actually. If there's something to it, it helps support homeopathy's claims, though its still far from sufficient to be called definitive. It just shows there are traces of the original material in the water, it doesn't mean they're beneficial.

          I was addressing the more commonly accepted view on homeopathy of only one molecule remaining. I'd wager a guess that you seem to agree with me that if that particular model was correct, homeopathy would have no effect what so ever.

          Also, its a "he", for anyone wondering.
  • Oct 29 2013: You're not asking enough "why"s?
    Bulk drugs are based on chemistry, not physics. Have you never asked yourself why bulk drugs aren't capable of actually curing a condition and why they have about 50 effects besides the possible one you want?
    Homeopathy acknowledges numerous effects for each substance prescribed and the equivalent compendium for drugs acknowledges the numerous effects for each drug (it's just that they list all those "other" not so good effects rather disingenuously as "side effects". Ahem.) You obviously don't have enough knowledge about conventional medicine to make an educated comparison.
    A genuinely inquiring mind would postulate that perhaps there is a DIFFERENT paradigm to bulk drugs that can actually CURE a condition BECAUSE it operates according to a DIFFERENT PARADIGM.
    Look up the Arndt-Schulz Law that applies to Hormesis: minimal doses stimulate, moderate doses suppress, and large doses kill.
    It's your knowledge that's being challenged, but then again, nobody can make you understand something if it's beyond your level of comprehension or you wish to be obtuse.
    You are still indulging in philosophy, Scientism to be exact.
    • Oct 30 2013: I'm asking plenty of "why's" actually. Like why on earth is a concentration of 1 molecule of original material in say, a tenth of a mole of water with 6.022 X 10^23 molecules in it (roughly 1.8 grams) would make the slightest difference.
      Its like taking a penny out of circulation in the world economy. No one would even notice.
      In fact, if such small concentrations make a difference, how do homeopaths even control what goes into their "prescriptions?" Even if you distill water to the best of human ability in the present day, you'll still have trace elements in it. The concentrations are completely negligible, but according to homeopaths, that's what makes the difference.

      The Arndt-Schulz Law is unproven by the way. Even if it applies to some materials, its a pretty big leap to assume it works for all materials.

      Say what you will about the pharmaceutical companies, but they employ doctors, biologists and chemists that actually know how the stuff they make works. Homeopaths don't seem to have quite the same grasp of how their treatments are supposed to function.
      • Oct 30 2013: Researchers who actually work in the field of Hormesis would disagree with your opinion about the Arndt-Shulz Law. You can't throw out the science you don't like to support the understanding you don't have.
        You are obsessed with the concept of "dilution" and fail to grasp that homeopathic remedies are manufactured according to standardized GMP principles and are subjected to a highly regulated process of serial dilution with agitation between steps.
        Materials science and nano-particle research have already established the difference between plain distilled water and homeopathic preparations. Get over it, the subject is settled.
        Read an actual pharmaceutical compendium. The mechanism of action ("how the stuff they make works", in your words) for hundreds of drugs is UNKNOWN, like anaesthetics and until the 1990's even aspirin.
        There is no established rule in the medical biz that states a mechanism of action for a treatment must be known before it can be used otherwise over half of what's happening in mainstream medicine will have to be ceased.
        Homeopaths know exactly how to manage clinical cases and are trained to be able to distinguish a placebo effect from a veritable one.
        Since you have no clinical experience or training in any form of medicine and are not responsible for patient outcomes, you're merely indulging in armchair quarterbacking in the philosophy department.
        • Oct 30 2013: So you're telling me that the homeopathic industry has access to 100% pure water?
          No such thing. I'm no doctor, but I know enough about materials science to be aware of the fact that there's no such thing as a pure sample. Individual molecules of foreign materials will always be present in some amount. Potentially much more than individual molecules even, by several orders of magnitude.
          Most scientists claim it just makes no difference past a certain point (practically speaking), but homeopaths claim to have an effect from one molecule per 10^23).

          Seeing as you're also quite fond of criticizing my credentials, may I ask what's yours? I normally don't ask out of politeness, at least until people start patronizing.
  • Oct 29 2013: Yes, you are certainly missing information, however nobody is going to volunteer to teach it to you. We should all be willing to acknowledge what we don't know and acknowledge that there are answers to questions that have not been discovered YET.
    Nothing unreal exists. Homeopathy works. Some wish to speculate that it MAY have something to do with placebo effect, however this is not borne out in clinical practise. Experience trumps theory. If people are smart enough to be able to take a drug and "tell" if it's doing something or not, they're smart enough to take a Homeopathic remedy and "tell" if it's doing something or not.
    If my dog has a huge tumour on it's ass that a Vet just told me needs surgical removal and a Homeopathic remedy shrinks it into oblivion you're asking me to take a leap of incredulity and attribute it to placebo effect?
    C'mon Gerald, you're the one who's in denial. Otherwise the Vet (with all of her experience in scientific medicine) would have told me to just ignore it and it would just go away on its own.
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      Oct 30 2013: " Experience trumps theory"

      Nonsense. If you base your proof on the outcome of an experiment, you need a theory that backs up the outcome, or you have NOTHING.
      I'm sorry if I'm in denial. But c'mon, Laurie. You have no clue how homeopathy works, do you? Why didn't you just say so? It's ok to not know. In fact, I don't think anybody knows.
      Which is fine. And this is all I'm saying : there is no evidence.
      I don't know how gravity works, and I'm not ashamed of it.
      • Oct 31 2013: I would suggest that instead of arguing theory you pick up a copy of Wenda Brewster-OReilly's translation of Hahnemann's Organon of Medicine and read it first. It fully describes how Homeopathy works and why bulk drugs can't cure disease.
        There are several theories regarding mechanism of action for homeopathics, one of the latest having been advanced by Dr. Iris Bell that suggests that nano-particles cause an adaptive network response in the organism.
        Nobody "needs a theory" to conduct an experiment to determine the outcome of an application. You can simply do something and observe the result. This is called data.
        There's an old Chinese proverb that says a man who says it cannot be done should not get in the way of the man who's already doing it.
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          Oct 31 2013: Well you need a theory first because unfortunately direct observation of reality is a myth.
          This is called science. Basic science, really.
          Data without a theory doesn't exist.

          So you can't explain, or don't know. I'll try finding that book, then.
  • Oct 29 2013: Gerald, you obviously don't have the scientific education to keep up with research in the nano-particulate field and unfortunately it seems ego is bashing brains out. You certainly don't have the qualifications to be an arbiter of what constitutes "valid" theories, arguments, or what constitutes a well conducted experiment. What you are offering are philosophical opinions, and those along with $2.00 will get you a ride on the subway.
    Next time you see your family doctor, I suggest you ask the question "Why?" every time s/he makes a statement and see how quickly s/he runs out of answers and kicks you out.
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      Oct 29 2013: " Gerald, you obviously don't have the scientific education to keep up with research in the nano-particulate field "

      Touché. I agree.

      " You certainly don't have the qualifications to be an arbiter of what constitutes "valid" theories "

      But I do. I have a simple rule of thumb : a valid theory brings understanding about something.
      So if I don't understand a theory there are two possibilities : either I'm missing key information (which is the purpose of me asking so many questions about homeopathy), or there's something illogical about the explanation.
      I definitely have the qualifications to know when I'm missing information.
      And I'm definitely qualified to know when something is illogical. Because logic is not subjective, nor is it a matter of education.
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      Oct 29 2013: Of course I ask "WHY" when I visit a doctor!!! We all should!
      A doctor that kicks you out is suspicious. Most doctors are happy to explain what the medecine he prescribes will do to your body. I don't bother him with questions about basic chemistry, though, because that's not his job, and because basic chemistry is not the issue.
      It WOULD become the issue if his medecine challenged my understanding of the laws of physics, for instance if the pills floated in the air.
      Or if he was prescribing less than a molecule...
  • Oct 28 2013: @Gerald O’Brien

    Ask your own family homeopath. I do not plan to do your research for you. Time to move on. I suggest you do the same.
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      Oct 28 2013: Research? Why? I don't care about explaining how water memory affects the immune system because I don't think it's physically possible. What I thought, though, was that SOMEONE HAD DONE THIS RESEARCH and come up with results that got people like you convinced. But I can't find anything on internet.
      So I thought you knew. Obviously, you do or you wouldn't believe any of this. Or would you?
      The sad thing is that you seem annoyed by these questions, where you should be curious. You don't owe skeptics explanations, but perhaps you owe them to yourself. And finding out you don't know as much as you think you do is fun. I think it is.
      But I get it.
      And I hate myself for not being the least surprised.
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      Oct 28 2013: The conclusion of this article :
      "There is still a lot of work to be done to determine the way in which
      homeopathic remedies convey their therapeutic action to the body and what is the
      mechanism of action."

      Yes! And that's all I'm saying.
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    Oct 26 2013: The answer to your question is "yes, let homeopathy be".
    If "homeopathy is a cheap way to heal the credulous" as you state in your introduction, then would not all governments welcome it, and the pharma-industry, since the current official medical system is completely overwhelmed and with costs spiralling out of control.
    • Oct 27 2013: Thank you for your tolerance in saying "Yes let homeopathy be. Governments might welcome this but the pharmacuetical industry won't. At present if your child has asthma the pharmacuetical companies have a lifetime customer for several inhalers a year plus antibiotics and steroids whenever he or she catches a cold. |Under homeopathy the same child will be taken off their inhalers (by their doctor or specialist) within 6 months to 1 year of homeopathic treatment, and by the end of the treatment will not be as prone to catching colds and infections. No business is going to support something that affects their profits by this amount.
      • Oct 27 2013: Why not?
        You're working under the assumption that the company that sells the inhalers is the same company that sells the cure for asthma. Unless there is some manner of conspiracy to keep the cure under wraps, it makes no sense. The company with the cure isn't making any money out of the arrangement, so why should it play along?

        There is no one "big pharma" entity. The individual companies would gladly screw each other over for a profit. They can't get their customers hooked on permanent treatments to anything that has a cure for the simple reason that their competition will step in and sell the cure if they try.

        They'd have done the same to the homepathic market if they actually thought it worked. A takeover is more profitable than a suppression attempt, after all.
        • Oct 27 2013: I don't understand what you mean by " a cure for asthma" There is no cure for asthma in mainstream medicine. There is only maintenance treatment, ie inhalers daily and added antibiotics and steroid tablets when the inhalers cannot control the symptoms. Each of the major pharmaceutical companies has its repertoire of inhalers, each is as effective as the other companies'. No pharmaceutical company is at present researching a "cure " for asthma. There is a lot more profit in keeping someone on maintenance drugs for a lifetime than curing a disease.

          Homeopathy becaause of its effectiveness will never generate the profits that mainstream medicine makes.

          As for your comment about "takeovers". I have it on good authority that Merck has just taken over Boiron, the leading French pharmaceutical company.
      • Oct 27 2013: I'm claiming that if it worked, the homeopathic market would have already been fully integrated into the existing pharmaceutical industry.

        Even if a cure doesn't generate as much money as maintenance, one of the companies that doesn't have much of a hold on the maintenance market will start selling cures, if for no other reason than to screw over the competition (not out of spite either, it makes perfect economic sense).
        For that though, the cure has to work. If it did, the pharmaceutical companies would have taken up homeopathy a long time ago. Perhaps only one or two of them that doesn't have much of a market share yet at first, but that move would have forced their competition to do the same.

        Say what you will about pharmaceutical companies' morals, but they're not stupid.
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      Oct 25 2013: You deserve a nobel prize for curing autism.
      So what's in your vaccines? How did you figure this out?
      Why are people not paying fortunes for your secret, to make fortunes selling it?

      I don't mean to be sarcastic. I would really appreciate explanations, because I'm curious. I promise to change my mind if the explanations are reasonnable.
  • Oct 24 2013: Don't know I'd say 'reform' when speaking of culture or social norms. I'd say 'change the paradigm' or some such wording. People's views must change about health and lifestyle. Since I spend much time with autistic children in my practice, I'd disagree with the vaccination comment, Nadav.

    Instant gratification is the topic of one of my blogs, Harald. People expect to take a pill and get better, turning their responsibility for health over to someone else (the doctor). I just returned from the ILADS conference (Lyme disease) and it's exactly the problem - the doctors seen will treat only one symptom, no one is looking at the entire patient. These people with chronic Lyme fall through the cracks.
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      Oct 25 2013: Often it's real ignorance or disinterest of the health professional. Rarely do they take the time to really understand the patients history. Discovering the root cause of a medical condition can be real detective work and few are willing to "lose" so much time with one patient if many others are already waiting in line.
      Nothing easier than prescribing antibiotics (even if it is unknown whether or not the source of the infection actually was bacterial) or corticoids.
      Chronic lyme disease is a typical case. The symptoms caused by it can have a lot of causes and unless the doctor really starts investigating in detail it's difficult to discover.
    • Oct 25 2013: There is no link between autism and vaccinations. The researches are all very clear on that.

      The thing is, signs of autism first start showing up at roughly the 1 year mark, around the same time the kid is vaccinated against all sorts of things. As tends to happen with these things, parents often jump to conclusions despite the fact that one is not attributable to the other--no control or isolation of variables.

      After all, if the kid was autistic anyway, there really isn't much that can be done. If the vaccinations caused it however, you're allowed to scream and shout and even make law suits to your heart's content. Much easier than accepting it and moving on, in a certain immature way.

      As for sometimes treating the symptoms as opposed to the root cause, its often the only option. The thing is, the human body is a terribly complicated and oftentimes badly engineered piece of machinery, and if there were ever blueprints available, we lost them long ago.
      Add to that the body's infuriating lack of ability to shut itself down for either maintenance, diagnostic or repair (ever try to fix a faulty engine while it was still running? Quite the feat really), and taking care of symptoms is oftentimes all you can do.
      • Oct 25 2013: You have no idea what you are talking about.
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          Oct 25 2013: Nadav is absolutely right when it comes to the autism issue. By now, most people know that Wakefield is a charlatan who caused a lot of damage with his claims that autism and vaccination are related.
          Fact is, he committed a logical fallacy. Just because autism in some kids appeared around the same time they were vaccinated does NOT mean that vaccination is the cause.
          We all know that by now he and his work are thoroughly discredited.
  • Oct 24 2013: There are so many problems with health care today, Frank. Thanks for your comments. Most people spend twice more money through taxes and through direct payment than any other country, here in the US. Families must decide whether to put food on the table or pay their medical bills. It's a disaster. I see so many people with problems created by the health care system, including just this week a 4 month old baby (both children the mother delivered were C-section) that was on TWO prescriptions for acid reflux (as was his sister), and had been vaccinated against pertussis, yet he came down with it (and was tested positive). This has just got to change.
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      Oct 24 2013: The main problem I see in the health care system is the lack of focus on prevention.
      Spending effort on prevention would make much more economical sense than later having to pay medical bills.
      People change the motor oil (prevention) in their cars regularly, knowing that failing to do so eventually will lead to engine damage. Yet, they don't care enough about their own bodies. Makes no sense to me.
  • Oct 23 2013: I am not going to touch that one. Hubris.
  • Oct 23 2013: With the correct homeopathic remedy the body will respond within seconds to a situation that has been in play for days, weeks, months, or years then you know it's the remedy and not a coincidence. The longer the disease has been in place the longer the path to wellness. The remedy helps the body in responding to the illness. Do you really think millions of people could be delusional about this? Really? And only these detractors know better? Take a look at history.
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      Oct 23 2013: Yes the majority is usually dellusioned, if you take a look at history.
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    Oct 23 2013: So many people to defend homeopathy is not placebo, the discussion is taking a different direction. Didn't expect that.
    Didn't mean to introduce yet another debate of science vs belief on TED's battered platform.
  • Oct 22 2013: I think homeopathy is fine for simple things. I had an office mate who would not take pills for headaches or fevers. It seemed to work fine for him. I think there is a line, major illness you need help. A major blood loss or cholera are probably ok examples.
    • Oct 22 2013: Actually, cholera in South America was well controlled with homeopathy. Check out leptospirosis in Cuba! (and yes, this is a US GOVERNMENT publication.
      • Oct 22 2013: The interesting question is cholera can be handled by hydration with electrolytes Not sure I would call force drinking fluid with electrolytes homeopathic.or not. If you go to the next step of intravenous hydration, then it is definitely not homeopathic.
        • Oct 23 2013: Citation required.
        • Oct 23 2013: So I guess cholera isn't a big deal. You can just drink lots of water. Interesting! And very scientific.
        • Oct 27 2013: Rehydration therapy is not homeopathy. It is a very valuable tool in the treatment of cholera. Much more effective in saving lives than mainstream medicines. Cholera is a big deal even with Oral rehydration therapy. Without ORT it is still possible to be dead within 18 hours of contracting it. |Homeopathic results in cholera epidemics show that homeopathy is even more effective than ORT in curing it.
        • Oct 23 2013: Wayne,

          Dunce cap award. A travel advisory from the CDC is your source? “Guidance for Protecting Travelers on Commercial Aircraft Serving Haiti During the Cholera Outbreak” Temporary measures to protect the flight crew and passengers until they can seek medical attention. Your statement, if any of the readers are foolish enough to believe it, is dangerous.

          “These guidelines provide crew members on commercial aircraft with practical measures to protect themselves, passengers, and other crew members when a traveler from Haiti has a diarrheal illness that may be cholera.”

          Educate yourself:

          “From its earliest days, homeopathy has been able to treat epidemic diseases with a substantial rate of success, when compared to conventional treatments. It was these successes that placed the practice of homeopathy so firmly in the consciousness of people world-wide.

          There is a story told about Joseph Pulte, one of the earliest homeopaths in Cincinnati. When he began his practice, many people were so angered by a homeopath being in town that they pelted the house with eggs. He was becoming discouraged enough to think of leaving. His wife said, “Joseph, do you believe in the truth of homeopathy?” He replied in the affirmative. “Then,” she said, “you will stay in Cincinnati.”

          Shortly after, when the Cholera epidemic swept through, Pulte was able to boast of not having lost a single patient– and he was accepted into the community. In the Epidemic of 1849, people crowded to his door and stood in the street because the waiting room was full.”
      • Oct 23 2013: Sandra - been called worse - if you read the entire thing, you will see the ref to treatment. maybe you would like the mayo clinic -
        • Oct 23 2013: Fail. Again. Keep trying. You are not referencing anything that addresses the CURE for cholera, only the diarrhea that results from the disease. That should be obvious to you. You clearly are grasping for straws and looking rather foolish.

          Notice that your source says some of the antibiotics MAY reduce the amount and duration of cholera related diarrhea. And....a single dose of doxycycline (Adoxa, Monodox) or azithromycin (Zithromax, Zmax) MAY be effective. Zinc supplements. Research has shown that zinc MAY decrease and shorten the duration of diarrhea in children with cholera.

          Just like most skeptics, you pepper comment sections with disinformation. Health care consumers are now well informed. Check out this article on my blog:

          "Homeopathy, the skeptics: How Effective are They Really?"

        • Oct 23 2013: Wayne,

          Interestingly, a discussion of the treatment of cholera in Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary reads:

          "Tetracycline given early in the disease is effective in killing the causative organism." It discusses hydration and rehydration as ways to offset fluid loss.
        • Oct 23 2013: As in every other illness, homeopathy stimulates the immune system to combat the disease so that the person with cholera recovers more easily and more quickly than he would have without it. It reduces the severity of symptoms and the length of time they persist. The patient feels better sooner and finds his energy level improving sooner.
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        Oct 23 2013: Is that really homeopathy. Isn't the article describing low level exposure to a pathogen to impart an immune response?
    • Oct 23 2013: The successful treatment of epidemics of cholera with homeopathy is one of the things it's famous for. It's also famous for its successful treatment of typhoid, malaria, yellow and scarlet fever and flu. It's been extremely successful in averting epidemics of leptospirosis in Cuba as well. The historical records show homeopathy had a much greater success rate in saving lives during epidemics of these diseases than whatever conventional medicine was used at the time. As an example, 24,000 cases of flu in the U.S. during the 1921 epidemic which were treated allopathically had a mortality rate of 28.2%. 26,000 cases treated homeopathically had a mortality rate of 1.05%.

      Homeopathy is famous for its cures of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, diseases considered incurable by conventional medicine. It is equally effective in conditions ranging from sore throats to cancer. To see hundreds of cured case records google "homeopathy cured cases".

      The only conditions homeopathy cannot treat are those in which the body does not manufacture a necessary substance like insulin or thyroid hormone and where surgery is truly necessary such as in closing a congenital hole in the heart. Homeopathy can also be successful in some emergency situations.
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    Oct 22 2013: isn't there like a 1 million reward for any person who can prove homeopathy works? Im sure I heard that somewhere
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      Oct 22 2013: From the Randi foundation, sure. If one can prove it works BETTER THAN A PLACEBO, this is the actual clause.
      • Oct 22 2013: The illusionist James Randi was challenged by a world renouned homeopath Dr. George Vithoulkas of Greece, but Mr. Randi backed out. James Randi Backs Out of Challenge with Homeopath George Vithoulkas
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          Oct 22 2013: don't research the other side of the story. it could hurt your settled world view.
        • Oct 22 2013: I am not sure whether Krisztian is advocating for or against - but I saw both sides, and I must say after 60 years on this planet, I advocate for homeopathy. And I have 3 science degrees and one in art. I am a logical but balanced-brain person. I don't seek just the science, I see there are things that cannot be explained, and look for the answers. However, I don't discount the ones I can't explain. And I don't ask others to prove anything to me. You do your own work, and make your own decisions and opinions.
    • Oct 22 2013: Yeah, but Randi, who is offering the $1 million, decides what is proof, so I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for him to decide that something is proof, no matter how good the evidence.