Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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January 25 2011

Homeopathy is (Mostly) Hogwash

By Mark Sisson
205 Comments

On the docket today: a meaty, slippery, jam-packed can of worms. Makes you just lick your lips in anticipation, doesn’t it? Last week’s direct to consumer health testing post got this one going. I mentioned this do-it-yourself health trend comes with both the good and the bad – as yet unproven and unsound alternative therapies like homeopathy being such a potential snare. From that point, a healthy and robust debate ensued in the comment board. Yes, that’s exactly the way it should be. I always appreciate and, indeed, relish the active discourse of our comment board. Folks offer up their experiences, questions, and perspectives in ways that thoughtfully challenge and extend the discussion of the post itself. It’s the beauty of a blog – and the “Internets” as a whole, wouldn’t you say? At times, I find these conversations stand by themselves. Other times, I’ll pick up on a certain thread that I think could use more Primal-based clarification and a further targeted discussion. Today I’m taking up the homeopathy debate and giving the full of my two cents. I’m up for it if you are. Let’s roll up our sleeves and dig in, eh?

First, what homeopathy isn’t. It’s not herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese medicine, or even flower essences. It’s not naturopathy or isopathy (pus anyone?). It’s doesn’t include nutritional supplements, energy work, or body manipulation. It’s not a catch-all term for all of CAM (complementary and alternative medicine). I say this because the term is sometimes mistakenly used in these ways, and I want to be clear about what I have on the dissection table today.

Here’s, in a nutshell, what it is. First, key caveat… In the space of a reasonable blog post, I cannot tell the entire history of homeopathy or touch on every study ever performed. I’ll go out on a limb and say that my decision to do so does not, by its own merit, discredit my critique. I’ve read many more books and many more individual studies and reviews – from both conventional and CAM journals –than I’ll mention here. Anyone else is free to similarly delve in while forming their own opinion about homeopathy or any other subject. (PubMed is a fantastic, thoroughly addictive site that I spend entirely too much time perusing.)

O.K. now what it is. First, the historical basics. Homeopathy is a medical practice first envisioned and designed by Samuel Hahnemann in the late 18th Century. As a philosophy, it fit within the vitalist framework and held that illnesses were the manifestations of disturbances to an individual’s life force. Effective intervention, according to Hahnemann, necessitated the rousing or provocation of the life force with a small (understatement) amount of a single, relevant substance. In the spirit of that approach, homeopaths today assess both a patient’s symptoms and overall mental and physical condition – usually through an extensive interview and a varying physical examination. Based on the findings, they determine a particular “remedy” that has been prepared according to homeopathic principles.

We could chat for long, languorous hours about all of Hahnemann’s principles. (PrimalCon, anyone?) Today, let me give particular attention to a few central tenets.

“Law of Similars” (a.k.a. like treats like)

Hahnemann believed that the ideal treatment for a patient’s symptoms was a substance that elicited the same physical signs in healthy individuals. The assigned homeopathic remedy is an artificial means intended to stimulate the disturbed life force into a self corrective mode – based on the similarity of symptoms, yes. In this process, the body will supposedly defuse the observed illness and rid itself of it. (Yeah, I don’t get it either really.)

“Law of Proving”

Because he believed like treats like, Hahnemann focused his proving (i.e. testing) on healthy subjects. He used large groups of volunteers, instructed them on lifestyle restrictions and recommendations during the testing period, and asked them to keep exhaustive journals of any and all symptoms or sensations they experienced. From this standpoint, he initiated early characteristics of the modern controlled clinical trial. (Hat tip.) He then matched these tested substances with diseases that displayed similar symptoms. (See above.)

“Law of Potentization”

Long story short, along the line Hahnemann decided that diluting the original substance would make it more potent. (Yes, do the double take.) He even developed his own scale for diluting his remedies – the centesimal or C measure. Each C indicates dilution by a factor of 100. Given Hahnemann’s penchant for a 30 C dilution, you can imagine – well, actually you probably can’t imagine – how dilute that would be. We’re talking exponentially diminishing here – as in there may or may not be a single molecule of the original substance or not. Ummmm…?

“Entanglement”

The power of a homeopathic remedy solution allegedly resides not simply in the remedy itself but in the full relationship and dynamic interaction among the homeopath, patient, and remedy. (This is one of the reasons those in the homeopathic field reject the applicability of conventional “blind” clinical trials.)

O.K., let me start by saying this. Compared to the rather brutal approaches of the medical community in his time, Hahnemann’s new take on treatment must have felt downright civilized, enlightened, and sophisticated. I’d rather take a small diluted remedy than have my blood let any day. And as irrational as his belief in super ultra mega diluting was, it must have seemed remarkably, even comfortingly precise when held up against the generally sloppy, arbitrary, and clueless practices of apothecaries.

In a system where most of us are lucky if we get five uninterrupted minutes with our physicians, I appreciate the extensiveness of the repertory interview homeopaths undertake with patients. Finally in a very generalized way, I even loosely sympathize with the idea that treating a condition with conventional medications can simply mask it and drive it deeper into the body. (Granted, I see it more as metaphor in these modern times, but it’s a good one. We do a lot of ineffectual “band-aid” work in Western medicine.) Oh, and the life force thing sounds pretty groovy.

I’m afraid that’s pretty much where I part paths with Hahnemann and homeopathy. Call me too close-minded, but I stand with homeopathy’s critics when it comes to its shortfall in the scientific principle department. Let’s say you momentarily accept the life force concept as metaphor and just put aside the law of similar out of sheer frustration. (The alleged vaccine comparison, I’ll simply say, is another ball of wax entirely and fodder for another day.) Even then, there’s still the ginormous elephant in the living room (yes, the one that every critic focuses on because it’s kind of important) – the dilution issue otherwise known as active ingredient-free medicine. Yes, recall that it’s supposed to not simply be present but be more potent. Yes, homeopathy supporters claim that the original substance leaves a residual energy imprint of sorts in the remaining diluted solution (a.k.a. water memory). Theories have been put forward regarding movement and cohesion at the molecular level, “dynamic ‘ordering’” of the water’s intermolecular bonds and the like. (Random thought: if water that contained a homeopathic agent still can retain an active, potent energy imprint, does my waste water treatment plant do a good enough job of removing the imprint of sewage, industrial chemicals, and other refuse particles?)

In all seriousness, I realize that science is still evolving, particularly in the area of nanophysics and the like, but everything about this potentization concept flies in the face of scientific principle, defies all known laws of chemistry and physics, and appears to exist primarily in the hazy, moving shadows of ambiguity. I’m all ears if it’s ever pinned down, but it’s no dice right now.

A few readers last week said it was ironic that I was badmouthing another health related area subjected to the same rejection as many tenets of the Primal Blueprint (e.g. the dietary fat boogeyman.). It’s true that the PB gets its share of quackery accusations. I wholly support being skeptical when the establishment dismisses a health philosophy out of hand. Nonetheless, I don’t see homeopathy in that situation. I’ve read many studies over the years and paid attention to the reviews that have been conducted. When it comes to research, homeopathy just doesn’t bear out.

Reviews suggest that the evidence is inconclusive at best for a myriad of conditions like asthama, anxiety, dementia, migraine, ADHD, cancer, and cancer treatment side effects.

Yes, there’s the claim that true homeopathy can’t be accurately assessed within the current clinical trial system. There’s the issue of individualization of remedy – that an individual’s treatment also is influenced by their overall well-being, personality, etc. Then there’s the concept of entanglement – that dynamic, misty interaction among the perceived triad of homeopath, patient, and treatment. I don’t know how you’re going to overcome those hurdles. Right now it’s a deadlock, but I’m going to have to side with hard science for now.

I’ve given my critique. Here’s what I think works about homeopathy, and – mind you – I’m being wholly earnest. I know what you’re thinking: placebo. Well, yes, but let me explain. The placebo effect, ladies and gentlemen, is nothing to shake a stick at. As mentioned before, it can claim a 30% effectiveness rate, and that number can go higher based on the people receiving the treatment. Some of us are more likely to experience physical effects from a placebo not because we’re gullible saps but probably because we’re more in tune with our mental power, so to speak. Some of us, for example, can creatively visualize our way through the intense physical pain of a medical procedure or the pain of childbirth. Some can’t as much. The placebo effect is such a force that a recent study showed the pretense isn’t necessary. And if your doctor believes that the “placebo” is actually an effective treatment, the effect is even stronger.

Much has been made lately of the therapeutic impact of the doctor-patient relationship itself – the connection, the empathy, the listening, and the basic human touch of the physical exam. Imagine the result if your caretaker took two hours instead of ten minutes to listen to your concerns, asked about your general well-being, and inquired about your life overall. Is it much of a stretch to see that there would likely be a more intensive healing element to this relationship itself?

My final thought on homeopathy is this. I can’t accept it as a medical practice given what is currently known. I leave room for the effectiveness of a few substances when given in a non-traditional formula (actually present in the solution). Furthermore, I respect the humanistic elements of homeopathy practice and wish conventional medicine would learn a thing or two in this department. I understand why people might be interested in its therapies and experience suggested relief from the idea of a gentle treatment that gets them thinking about the power and essential balance of their bodies. The truth of its impact, however, lies outside the bounds of medical science.

The floor is now open. Good Primal ladies and gentlemen, please avail yourself of the comment board.

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205 thoughts on “Homeopathy is (Mostly) Hogwash”

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  1. I don’t get it either. From what’s been explained to me, they dilute these mixtures down to the point where theoretically there shouldn’t even be an atom from the original active ingredients. Its gone, but its “essence” is still there, hence its effectiveness.

    Delving a little deeper, the scientific claims are that the photons emitted from the active ingredient’s molecules (intermolecular bonds)stimulate the water molecules in the mixture. After the original active ingredient is taken away, the water molecules are still stimulated, and ready to “relay the message” to you.

    The quantum physics kind of makes sense, but why don’t they just give you the active ingredient straight up? There’s plenty of essence right there!

    1. Oh dear God, they are really attempting to justify this with quantum physics?

      It doesn’t make sense, it makes no sense at all. Take a class in quantum physics and get back to me.

    2. You do realize that photons are everywhere. Light, radio waves, etc, etc. A glass of water is bombarded with billions of photons per second. So what would make the photon “stimulation” from the original active ingredient that has such an extremely low concentration unique?

      Photons are, by definition, interchangeable, except for wavelength they are identical according to quantum theory.

      Where does the quantum physics “kind of make sense”?

    3. All that we can truly know is that which we have experienced. It is easy to intellectualize almost anything, even to convince ourselves that we are “right” based on our thoughts. Thoughts which we fuel according to information which we are able to see and understand based on the narrowness or expansiveness of our belief systems. However, if it does not bear fruit in reality, then we are not living in a grounded way, we are living an illusion.

      Think about it, how about those who believed the earth flat, people of certain skin colors inferior, etc? They intellectualized their viewpoint rather than taking the time to go out and experience the truth.

      The criteria here seems to be that if we cannot understand it then it cannot work, cannot be useful. I do not understand the internal combustion engine, the jet propeller, or many other things however I still find cars and airplanes useful. I do not understand, nor have I yet found an honest person who does, how the galaxies, the solar systems, the planets, the atoms, etc all work in such splendid harmony. Yet they do.

      So is is for some with homeopathy. If it is a placebo then in my direct experience it is the best placebo experiment on the planet. I don’t experience it as such, however. As a professional homeopath with decades of experience I can tell you with certainty that an incorrect homeopathic remedy will cause distress (but not lasting harm) no matter how much you believe it will cure you. I can also tell you that a correct remedy will cause cure and a level of well-being that most of us cannot even conceive of to hope for. In animals, people, and plants.

      I speak to educate, not convince. My point is not to argue with anyone. I know what I see, I know the process of homeopathy, I know it is something that can relieve suffering without causing harm to ourselves or our environment. Consider the wisdom of experiencing something before you can speak with any true knowledge about it.

      Mark, here is a challenge to you. Consider posting a few good, basic articles on how to use simple homeopathic remedies for some simple, basic issues. Homeopathic medicines are FDA approved and can be purchased over-the-counter by anyone. I will consider writing the articles, no charge. Let yourself and your readers have an experience. This is how Grok lived. He did not read articles. He learned through direct contact. This is how he used his brain.

      I certainly didn’t THINK I could live without grains. But I decided I had to try it before I could KNOW it. That lead to true knowledge and wisdom.

      Mark, I assume that you tried eating in a Primal manner in order to know if it worked or not, and I am also going to give you the benefit of assuming that you are not run by your intellect and that even if you couldn’t have explained it just having the experience of your body healing and well-being increasing may well have caused you to keep up with a Primal diet & lifestyle. This is the experience many have with homeopathy. Some of us do understand, but that is a different and very long subject. Many do not understand why, but it still works for them, just as cars work even if we don’t understand them, just as all blondes are not dumb even if we listen to popular culture and think they are, just as most people of dark skin are intelligent even if we use certain science to decide we think they aren’t.

      May we all find the health we seek, may we all be accepting of all paths to wellness, of all ways that work, even if we don’t understand them.

      1. Ellen,

        There’s a big difference between something *you* don’t understand but millions of others do, like the internal combustion engine or logical fallacies, and something that doesn’t even remotely have a justifiable basis in science but people attempt to explain anyway by cherry-picking terms from a real science like physics. Like homeopathy.

        “The criteria here seems to be that if we cannot understand it then it cannot work, cannot be useful.”

        No, not at all. But what the hell is wrong with wanting to understand something? It helps if an alleged treatment makes some sort of sense, either because it appeases an angry god or because it compensates for an unhealthy n-3/n-6 ratio.

        The scientific method is simply a way of overcoming bias. Formulate a hypothesis, test it, excluding as many variables as possible. If it doesn’t work then you either didn’t exclude enough variables or your hypothesis was simply wrong.

        “If it is a placebo then in my direct experience it is the best placebo experiment on the planet.”

        Really? And what other placebo experiments have you had experience with?

        1. Bravo to this reply, Sean.

          I am bothered by the suggestion of a quasi experiment towards the end of Ellen’s post. Too often people with very little basis for their own claims dismiss science and then fall easily back into trying to use its tools to defend their position without even seeing the hypocrisy. I challenge her to consider the value of exactly what she’s proposing here:

          “Mark, here is a challenge to you. Consider posting a few good, basic articles on how to use simple homeopathic remedies for some simple, basic issues. Homeopathic medicines are FDA approved and can be purchased over-the-counter by anyone. I will consider writing the articles, no charge. Let yourself and your readers have an experience. This is how Grok lived. He did not read articles. He learned through direct contact. This is how he used his brain.”

          This is reinventing the wheel of the scientific method. An observational pilot study is totally acceptable in a scientific forum. This is how Grok uses his brain indeed. Ellen, this experiment could prove very useful if you clean it up, not as the end all of research on homeopathy, but as a beginning to show whether it works or not, regardless of its method (it’s fine for mechanism to remain unknown right now- testing that comes later). What you want us to do is a basic observational study, but in order of it to hold weight you must standardize the observations so they are more than anecdotes, which are too subjective to reveal what is actually happening. I suggest letting a large number of people, skeptics and non alike, try the remedies you suggest in relation to a specific complaint or to specific ends (say, healing a minor burn. You are an expert in this field, consider what a direct result is from one of the suggested simple remedies, and test that). Let your volunteers have access to a scientifically accepted pain or quality of life survey (these are available with a little looking online) to quantify their individual experiences in a statistically meaningful way- this is the only way to move from the vague world of anecdotes into evidence. The beautify of evidence is that it can be compared with itself, and also to the scientifically recognized placebo impact rates. You may find that indeed the homeopathy is more successful. At that point, pat yourself on the back, revisit your exploratory research procedure, and begin writing a grant to further establish the viability of your treatments in a much more rigorous experiment. The next step is a controlled administration with a placebo. I see no reason that these patient/practitioner/remedy dynamics cannot be tested in a double blind study, as correcting for these nuanced interactions is a large part of WHY DOUBLE BLIND STUDIES EXIST.

          As Sean said before me, using the scientific method is not intellectualizing- these procedures are used for organizing and making useful the experiences that you, yourself, suggested we have in a way that can, in fact, be understood.

          Finally, let me reference this site as a warning- this is why these methods MUST be tested for effectiveness- there is harm in non-investigation:
          http://whatstheharm.net/homeopathy.html

        2. Sorry, that did not come through in totality. I’ve participated in seventeen experiments regarding the placebo effect. My background is in traditional medicine. I switched to homeopathy, as M.D.’s sometimes do, because it made more sense when it came to the bottom line of actually restoring health.

        3. Good on you Ellen, your obviously have a lifetime of experience in what you are speaking about, rather than the armchair critics.

      2. Great comment from Ellen. I just love the way people who know nothing about homeopathy and have never tried it claim it can’t possibly work.

        And why is that, do you suppose? After all, custom-formulated noninvasive homeopathic remedies use real medicine. Could it be because homeopathy actually cures as opposed to simply medicating symptoms (something most people can’t understand)? Is it because there are no nasty side effects to deal with (something else most people can’t understand)? Is it a dyed-in-the-wool, brainwashed belief that allopathy knows everything there is to know about the science of the human body (which it does not) and therefore nothing else can possibly work?

        I’ve used classical homeopathy off and on for the last 15 years, mainly because I found the allopathic medical system ridiculously cumbersome, expensive, fraught with drug toxicity, and completely wanting as to efficacy. I know for a fact that homeopathic remedies, when dispensed by a knowledgeable, experienced homeopath, do indeed work to help the body heal itself. In fact they are often stunning in their effectiveness.

        Seeing is believing. My very scientific-minded spouse has seen homeopathy literally work miracles with me, our son, even our dog. So to those of you narrow-minded individuals so eager to diss this modality, I would suggest you at least try it before issuing a thumbs-down.

      3. I agree completely with Ellen. I believe homeopathy is more than just a placebo; however, if I am incorrect and it is just a placebo, that’s just fine with me!!! The results I’ve seen are nothing short of amazing.

        I have seen with myself (and others) MANY conditions that could not be treated by physicians (and even a naturopath in one instance) improve drastically and even completely disappear. It’s funny how I thought the doctors could help with such conditions, but the placebo effect never came into play then.

        I must point out that I see a practitioner and that I don’t try to figure it all out on my own.

  2. Do they actually use quantum entanglement to justify the alleged efficacy of homeopathy?

  3. Great critique, Mark. Outside of the placebo effect, I find homeopathy to be very dangerous, in that it invites patients to forgo scientifically proven treatments for serious illnesses.

    Google “homeopathy randi” for a good video from James Randi, a prominent skeptic.

    1. Ever walked into a room and felt an emotional disturbance immediately you arrive. Felt someone being angry before they even face you. Hang on, can’t be because the version of science referenced here says no molecule of anger is present. Science has no explanation for gravity. Does that mean it doesn’t exist? This attack on homeopathy is just trial by speculation. There is a lot of investigation on vibrational medicine that does accord with quantum theory. Quantum theory puts the rational mind on its head, positing for example a zero point field which (like Buddhist emptiness) is the potential of everything. Try and find a molecule of that! I wouldn’t enter the discussion other than I have been involved with homeopathy for years and I have experienced first hand how often it does nothing, sometimes does something unwanted, and sometimes, when skillfully used, achieves miraculous results. All of this despite the placebo effect. Any argument that claims to be scientific and simply precludes a possibility based on belief is not scientific. It is pure speculation. Science should involve empirical testing. The universe is a subtle place. Science has discovered even the material is not material in any gross sense. Nor is it necessarily independent of human consciousness. There is a lot of mystery in existence. Lets not just dismiss it all by being mentally clever.

      1. Just realised that my statement about gravity was not accurate. The theory of relativity addresses gravity, but the point I wanted to make is that gravity operates through a vacuum and has no materiality. Show me a molecule of gravity! Yet it is one of the most powerful forces (or whatever you want to call it) in existence. Light is sometimes a wave and sometimes a particle, etc etc. Rationality is not king. Homeopathy either works or it doesn’t but the way to discover it is not by argument, otherwise we could argue away virtually everything. Just as the church did with Galileo. Best to look through the telescope.

        1. Good grief.

          For the love of non-existent gods, will you people STOP trying to invoke modern physics when you know nothing of it better than a half-forgotten memory of a PBS popular science show?

          Neal, your understanding of the vacuum ground state is not even wrong.

          Your understanding of gravity is not even wrong.

          In the classical view (ie, general relativity), gravity is a manifestation of curved spacetime. Quantum gravity – an area of ongoing research – indeed involves a gauge boson exchange (called the graviton).

          And for crying out loud, gravity is NOT powerful. It is the weakest of the four interactions!

          Rationality is not king? Sweet jeebus…

          I give up.

      2. Thank you for addressing the very unscientific methodology so sadly presented as science because so-called (and self-proclaimed)scientists said it.

        An appeal to authority is a logical fallacy.

        1. The point I was making about gravity, which you chose to overlook, is that you can’t find a molecule of it. Yet it keeps the universe together. Even your graviton is an conceptual supposition. Therefore using the argument presented against homeopathy would prove the non-existence of gravity. Anyway, to be really scientific you have to notice that science turns on its head its best ideas, very regularly. So next week vibrational medicine could be in. The point is to test the hypothesis, as it seems Ellen above has, and you have all ignored in your rush to be clever.

        2. @Neal: Your definition of “science” is so screwed up … it saddens me. But it also explains how concepts like homeopathy can survive for centuries … there’ll always be plenty of gullible people.

      3. Yes, I’ve walked into a room in which there was an emotional disturbance. But it ain’t magic. Red faces, wide eyes, sweating, two people on opposite ends of the room, over-compensating cheerfulness. It has nothing to do with the molecules of air being disturbed. Air doesn’t have emotions.

        Further, you really need to learn about quantum theory before you start using it for ammunition for irrational thinking. Get yourself a book on science please.

        And for what it’s worth, homeopathy often achieves the miraculous when the miraculous is expected. Psychosomatic illnesses work that way. What was it? Meloncholy? Fatigue? Poor digestion? Is that vague enough to be cured by homeopathy?

        1. I can see that there is no winning argument here. You guys got religion, not science. Religion is when you argue something out of existence. In the science of my life I have experienced the effectiveness of vibrational medicine. You can try and placebo that out of me just as much as I can science it into you. All I am saying is test it empirically, not mentally. The argument as to why something shouldn’t be would prevent all of existence. How could everything be? Allow for the limits of thought, please rather than turning it into a despot. By the way I think the primal diet is great. I just know there to be other things of value out there too. Be open minded to what is, not church like.

    2. Scientifically proven expermiments? I don’t know if Homeopathy is the real deal, i’m yet to decide either way.
      I do however find it misleading of Jessica to post the external link highlighting the dangers of alternative medicine. Newsflash! People still die of cancer, despite chemo, drugs, radiation and other frankenstein like experimentation. For heaven sake, anyone who gets put under before an operation starts, puts their life at some risk. How many mal-practice lawsuits are there each year? How many people get paid out of the vaccine injury fund each year. There should be acknowledgement of the considerable downfall of conventional medicine before the proverbial boot is put entirely into Homeopathy.

      1. The problem with alternative medicine is that it is no alternative at all. It is utterly and completely ineffective and therefore – conveniently – rarely harmful.

  4. Interesting.

    I definitely agree that some more one on one time with doctors/nurses and patients would be beneficial. Maybe someday soon!

    1. That would be nice, but do you really think the outcomes would change a considerable amount? Do you REALLY think your MD will promote nutritional interventions (besides CW) and exercise instead of statins because he’s stuck in the room with you a bit longer? I highly doubt it. Any honest MD will tell you they don’t even receive any training whatsoever in regards to nutrition! He’s still going to parrot conventional wisdom and allopathic dogma, recommending drugs and surgeries before advocating lifestyle change. The ONLY thing that will change that is a complete paradigm shift within the medical profession. With Big Pharma funneling money into our medical schools and putting paid stooges into management positions at the FDA, this is highly unlikely to happen across the board. A few more minutes in a treatment room will not.

      However, there are SOME medical doctors who are willing to try natural methods (I’m a chiropractor and there are several MDs in town who actually refer patients to me…gasp!!!) but they do so of their own volition, not because they’re forced to. Until the education changes, the recommendations won’t change. MDs are taught in school that medicine works, nutrition is the red-headed stepchild of science, and all CAM is bunk.

      1. Fact check: Many (if not most) medical school curricula do include training in nutrition.

        Also, medical schools around the U.S. continue to implement CAM into their programs as elective courses of study.

        Be careful making blanket statements about all doctors.

      2. While you make a point, it still doesn’t dispute the point that Mark made about having the one on one physical contact in itself is beneficial, regardless of what your doctor is telling you. Mark wasn’t talking about nutritional advice from your doctor, he was talking about personal attention and physical contact. Both proven to be helpful, especially when you are sick.

        Here in Canada, things are a little different with health care. There isn’t the same pressure from pharmaceutical companies on doctors. Our doctors are paid by the people.

        And I think some MD’s do receive some nutrition training. I have a couple of friends in med school right now. Again, in Canada.

        1. It’s not just a little concerning that you consider requisite/extorted taxation voluntary payment by the people… 🙁

          The other thing is that my partner used to work for a doctor, and I have had several doctors offer me a specific rx because, as they put it, the company gives them “perks” such as points toward 2-week vacations in Hawaii (for a half-day conference), straight out payments for “support” and the like.

          I have also had several doctors admit that they have no training in nutrition, and that there was an elective option in med school, but it was not a requisite course, so most opted for something else that they thought was more important to take.

          I’m also in Canada. I work an awful lot to pay for doctors to keep patients sick and the medical industry going. Our doctors are paid by forced taxation, not “by the people.” I have never personally handed a doctor a penny. Our two-tier system will see this change so that we are forced to pay taxes, AND to pay out-of-pocket.

          We are one of the most heavily taxed nations in the world. Watch this if you’re wondering about why and how: http://www.youtube.com/user/stefbot?feature=sub_widget_1#p/u/2/Xbp6umQT58A

    2. I recently went to my pulmonologist and was very very pleased to get S.O.A.P. charting by the nurse before the doctor came to see me.

      The acronym for those unknowing is Subjective Objective Assessment and Plan. The Subjective portion is a long interview asking about your life and changes going on and if anything comes up, then follow up questions until they have an overall picture of your life. This way they may catch connections between things you never thought had something to do with each other.

      This was done more back when I was a child, and also is done extensively in the military. You feel as though you don’t have to feel you’ll be shot down or blocked when trying to get your symptoms or ideas to the medical practitioner(s) because they’re short on time. You feel like you have all the time in the world!

      It seems the doctor went all “old school” in response to the current fad of cover your rear medicine promoted by insurance companies. Maybe he doesn’t care as much as I think he does, but I can appreciate being listened to.

    3. There are practices which do take the patient into consideration and spend much time with them… you just have to REALLY look and do some interviewing. My current doctor’s office is wonderful. I have never been made to wait for my appointment, I’m ALWAYS in on time. I normally spend between 15-30 minutes with the PAs, and then have a 5 minute chat with them AND the doctor, but I also always have 1-2 appointments with the doctor himself which last about 30 minutes and he asks and answers any and all questions I bring to the table.

      He also does combine supplements with medicine and is a big believer in lifestyle changes so discusses exercise and diet in conjunction with what’s going on. They have a “lifestyle” program they offer which focuses on dietary changes to lose fat and build muscle, where you spend an HOUR with the specialist discussing all of the changes.

      Just wanted to say that they are out there.

  5. A few annoying points.
    (1)If water has some kind of “memory” of a substance even after dilution down to zero molecules, and “Like cures like,” doesn’t that mean that (a) we are all drinking powerful pterodactyl urine, and, more importantly, if I drink one of those new Starbuck’s coffees that is bigger than my stomach, just before bed, shouldn’t I be able to save a tiny sip of it, pour it in a bucket of water, and put my entire town to sleep? And, if I dilute that, do I have something more powerful than methamphetamine? It makes no logical sense whatsoever.
    (2) Conversely, there are thousands of homeopathic remedies for a variety of problems; the odds that NONE of these remedies has any positive effect at ANY concentration has got to be close to zero, which means that, if only by random chance, SOME homeopathic remedies work, at least a little, and none of them is harmful (or any more harmful than doing nothing would be).
    (3) This is the really annoying point that was made to me recently: just because the EXPLANATION for a folk remedy is scientifically impossible, does not mean that the remedy does not work. So the science of homeopathy, as it exists today, is meaningless, but the remedies themselves could still work for an as yet undiscovered reason, as Mark alludes to toward the end.
    (4) Conventional medicine may have come a LONG way, but it still uses a chainsaw when nail-clippers might work, filling patients with toxic chemicals because that is what insurance companies approve, and because they have been proven to be most likely to be effective, even if they might worsen something else (Statins anyone?).

    1. For number 3 there… Couldn’t your undiscovered reason be placebo effect?

    2. Can I get a list of treatments that fill patients with toxic chemicals? What exactly do you expect medicine to do with difficult-to-treat conditions? Patients vary in their response and it always takes effort to determine the best course.

  6. The only reason homeopathic products made from things like mercury and arsenic don’t kill people is that there isn’t any of the original ingredients left.

    If it were true, it would be dangerous, but fortunately it isn’t true.

  7. I suspect there is an inverse therapeutic effect when scaled against the cost of the consultation.

    Now, anyone for making the Emperor’s new wardrobe 🙂

  8. Ohhhh man. I was waiting for this post after last week’s free-for-all, and I must say, Mark, you’ve done a terrific job delineating homeopathy from naturopathy, CAM, traditional non-Western medicine, etc (I feel like there are even a number of people who call themselves Homeopaths who really aren’t, and would much better conform to one of the above descriptions).

    The way you lay it out, homeopathy seems like an elegant theory of the body that would correspond to the equally elegant theory of the planet encompassed in Lorenz’s idea of the Butterfly Effect.

    And while the Butterfly Effect is indeed a fascinating theory, it hasn’t all of a sudden given us control over the weather; similarly, I doubt that homeopathy will ever give us control over our body’s health – at least not to the degree that empirically tested, scientifically applied Western medicine does.

    1. you mean like the complete control we have over our bodies from CAM right? we already know it all. hell, a few decades ago acupuncture was akin to voodoo but is now readily accepted and scientifically proven. vibrational medicine is quite real contrary to marks assumptions. if you disagree, simply try having your electrons stop bouncing around and see how well you feel.

  9. I really like the tone of this post. Respectful, insightful, open to possibilities yet firmly grounded in logic and opinion. No need for anyone to get upset about it. Thank you Mark!

    Back in the early 90’s I experimented with some homeopathic remedies. I was very open minded and believed fully some of the literature available at that time.
    I can tell you that NONE of the remedies ever did anything for me. Or maybe better stated; I never got any type of relief from the “homeopathic medicine”. The human/doctor part of the placebo equation is a HUGE factor…most likely the biggest factor.

    Marc

  10. “I really like the tone of this post. Respectful, insightful, open to possibilities yet firmly grounded in logic and opinion. No need for anyone to get upset about it. Thank you Mark!”

    +1

    I think it is very important that people understand the difference between “Homeopathy” and “Natural and Preventative Health and Wellness Practices” such as Chiropractic, herbalism, or acupuncture.

    1. From what I understand, while obviously there are many herbs that are effective in treating lots of problems, acupuncture is a bit dicey, as some studies show it to be more effective than placebo, and others the opposite (even putting needles in “randomly” as one of the control groups), and that Chiropractic got its start claiming that spinal manipulation could cure almost anything, and even now has yet to PROVE that what they do is as good as or better than a Ph.D. level Physical Therapist; I am continually amazed by people who swear by their chiropractor with the statement, “Every time I go, I feel so much better!” Um, shouldn’t you not have to keep going back?

      1. I had a bruised rib once, given to me by my martial arts instructor. It wasn’t going away. I knew western medicine would prescribe pain medication I didn’t really want. So, although I knew it was a stretch, I went to a chinese medicine practitioner and had cupping done on my back, which helped for several days to eliminate the pain. The a week later, acupuncture with electricity. Cured. All in my mind? Don’t care. 50 bucks. I would have paid more than that for a prescription pain med.

        1. I will add though that if it hadn’t worked, I was going for the pain meds next.

        2. Yeah, my brother sends me links to skeptic and quack websites about acupuncture with similar information. My reply was the same as yours – I had injured my periformis (sp?) muscle to the point where I couldn’t dress myself. A treatment with an acupuncturist was all I needed. Placebo? perhaps…but for $50 and no drug side effects, I really don’t care.

          And remember that many of these alternative treatments aren’t “proven” by studies because of the money…drug companies fund most studies either directly or indirectly through our universities.

      2. First off I take major offense when someone trashes something they obviously know nothing about. You probably have not done any research yourself on what chiropractic truly is. The specificity that is involved in an adjustment is what sets chiropractors apart from other who “just manipulate”. And there are studies showing the effectiveness of chiropractic. As far as people who have to continually get adjusted they most likely have lifestyle issues as a causative factor. I only ask that before someone forms an opinion about something they do the research objectively first. As far as it being a cure no that is not the claim, chiropractic removes nerve impingement so the brain can effectively send signals to the body. That is why it is effective for everything.

        1. Agreed. My repeat trips were only during my period as a single-minded endurance iron athlete. A good chiropractic is awesome and he kept telling me if I wanted a permanent solution I should look at the lifestyle!

          Since I gave up chronic cardio I’ve been back only twice I think both when I’d fallen off my bike (pleasure riding) and misaligned everything again!

        2. That’s my problem with chiropractors. Now, I love the adjustments; I feel pumped leaving. The first time I literally felt a high.

          But I really wanted to figure out specifically what I am doing to myself physically to prevent my having to return.

          My best guess, I think a good part of it was bad posture instigated by my shoes and my motorcycle boots.

        3. Mike,
          There are so many factors that can effect your back it would be hard to specifically pinpoint. One thing I feel people don’t understand is that they spend sometimes decades “training” there body to hold the vertebrae in an incorrect pattern, our jobs as chiropractors is to correct that. This is something that takes time, we are working to essentially retrain the body to hold a better pattern. This takes time. Which is why people need to go back a number of times.

  11. … well mark, you “paid” for your off-the-cuff remark honorably – on the whole, a balanced-with-opinion post – thanks for that –

    i’m not going to jump up and yell foul but on the other hand, i have seen and experienced effects of Rescue Remedy and Bach flowers when no logical other explanation -except that they DID work- was there. Anecdotal i know – but ya know what they say, the mind is like a parachute – ain’t workin ‘less it’s open…

    1. They also say “keep an open mind, but not so open that your brain falls out.” 😉

  12. Research is an important factor. Logic and science have to be factored in. All claims of cures have to be evaluated without emotion, some people are better salesmen than others in touting illogical claims.

  13. Nicely done. I agree 100%, and it’s nice to see you taking a stand for science and against pseudo science. Now, your next targets along this line should be Deepak Chopra and Bruce Lipton. The latter I have some respect for, and I read Biology of Belief and it obviously has some chapters that are just way beyond reason, while others are perfectly fine and essentially deal with epigenetics, and I guess that this was why you included both of them – to show that our genes might not be carved in stone – the genes themselves are, but we can influence their expression via environment and surely, within limits, with our minds.

    Why am I mentioning them? Well, I just read the PB again, and your reference to those two guys kind of irked me. It would be nice to know where you stand in that regard.

    1. Mike, I use quotes from a bunch of people in the PB, but I wouldn’t say I am “referencing” them all. Like Devo for instance. I’m not a fan of Chopra, but that quote about how long our organs will last had nothing to do with quantum physics or holograms…it was a simple observation that any doc will agree with. As for Lipton, I do like the way he thinks, even if he’s a bit fringe.

      1. Hey Mark,

        sure, that’s also how I understood it, but there are some who simply see those names mentioned and conclude that you’re endorsing their pseudo-scientific views – I’ve read some of the few negative reviews of the PB on Amazon where exactly that was happening.

        1. I reaaaaly think that science-y types (i’m on the fence – had traditional science/pre-med schooling but have seen some other things with these eyes) have to be a bit less anxious to slap the “pseudoscience” label on anything that does not fit THEIR scientific criteria/world view – please consider, for example, that some of the most astounding physics discoveries of the last 20 years have driven that discipline a hell of alot more towards the “esoteric” than imaginable just 30-50 years ago. i completely understand and concur with the need for good investigative research/testing of theory – but do keep in mind that “there are more thing in heaven and earth, [science-fact devotees] than are dreamt of in your philosophy”

  14. And another thought specifically about homeopathy: It’s telling that when you go to the store and buy some homeopathic remedies, the guy behind the counter will typically recommend that you only take them along with “real” medicine … at least that’s what I heard from some relatives. Personally, being the rationalist-atheist-skeptic that I am, I never spent any money on them.

    BTW, speaking of skeptics:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0Z7KeNCi7g

    James Randi, debunking homeopathy at TED. Very entertaining 🙂

  15. I was worried for a second when I saw the title. Good post.

    Homeopathy seems to be like a lot of these other alternative treatments. Somebody sat in a room and pulled an idea out of the air, and every time new science (or old science) shows it couldn’t possibly work that way, people try to justify it using other or newer science. Repeat. Hence quantum mechanics, since, as I think Feynman once said, “If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics.”. 🙂

  16. Agree with Mark broadly here, but have to agree with Bob’s points 2, 3 and 4, as well.

    Some compounds will have physiologic doses in the parts per million or billion.

  17. On the flip side – many of us have seen astounding results with homeopathy and our pets. Pretty sure my dog doesn’t fall for the placebo effect.

    I think a great deal of the efficacy of homeopathy is on the shoulders of the practicioner and how good they are. If you choose the wrong remedy nothing will happen.

    I have had little to no results self medicating with homeopathy however I have seen results in my dogs. Something interesting to contemplate…

    1. However there is something called the investigator effect, where if the person testing something believes strongly in its efficacy, this will cause them to unconsciously sway the results in its favor. This is why good trials are both blinded and placebo controlled.

  18. I don’t know a great deal about homeopathy, but I believe it is perfectly valid (or at least plausible) to view this through the lens of quantum physics. It’s not about “life force,” but about the electromagnetic fields (EMF) that exist around every single atom, affecting every cell in our bodies. It is much more complex than body chemistry and the amount of substance used; it is about agitating the EMF of the substance. Check out Savely Yurkovsky’s work. Here is a wiki link http://www.wisdomwiki.com/wiki/Savely_Yurkovsky

  19. The reason I am putting up a fight for homeopathy is because my girlfriend is undergoing major digestive problems (and no, she does not eat sugar or grains or PUFAs). The only thing that has even come close to helping her are the treatments from Dr. Yurkovsky. I had a chance to read a lot of his book, and it lays out very clearly the misconceptions about homeopathy. The big kicker, though, is that after most remedies, she’s not supposed to use electricity (EMF interference). Every time she breaks that rule, she gets an excruciating EMF headache. There’s gotta be something there…

  20. @Daia, did you even read the post? Or do you know what BACH’s is? It’s Floral therapy, and Mark clearly states this is NOT what he’s talking about in this post. Jeeze….I’ve never posted but you and your uninformed, need to bash posts really have me sickened. If you don’t like it here…don’t play here!

    1. I don’t think he (she) was bashing the post. Order some Primal Calm.

      1. Thank you Mark Cruden,

        Trish, i am sorry, but who is uninformed here? Please go to the Wiki entry for Mr. Bach whose HOMEOPATHIC-styled dilutions of flower essences are part of our family’s arsenal against sicknesses and disorders.

        But thank you for helping me make my point – Bach WAS a homeopath and his remedies DO involve many of the same principles of high dilution that are attacked by science people as bogus concepts. Bach diverges from typical homeopathy in that his remedies don’t go with the “law of similars” so in fact, to say that Bach Flower Remedies ARE or ARE NOT homeopathic is a bit argumentative. I believe that the high dilution is the main reason that traditional science cannot get it’s head around homeopathy – and i understand. I don’t think the other precepts of homeopathy are necessarily as hard to grok as the dilution thing –

        but that’s my take – and BTW – i DO read the articles – but i also want to add to the flow of the comments which may not always fit your ideas of commitment to Mark’s line of thinking.

        gosh i’m sorry…

  21. I stand resolute. My body, my choice. Don’t try and regulate my medicinal decisions. Why don’t you stick to what you know from your own experience, that being diet & exercise, & leave what you have no experience with alone? Anyone can argue against something they have never tried.

    1. There are many things I’ve never tried that I can make reasonable arguments against.

      Yours is a typical argument of the belief-biased.

      1. Yes, I could argue strongly against eating cow-dung to cure headaches, but that doesn’t mean I’ve tried it.

    2. Even what Mark knows from experience he has backed up with research. That approach is far more convincing than if he had simply offered PB based on his own personal success.

      In fact, supporting an argument with research is superior to individual experience every time.

      1. Thee is a reason that people in the homeoptathic field call it going beyond flat Earth medicine.

  22. What about the fish that change sex because of hormones in the water from birth control medicines? By the time it gets to the fish it should be really dilute, especially after going through the water treatment plant? I haven’t actually read the research on this one so don’t take my word for it, but I don’t think water treatment plants are a fix all, which is kind of how we view them.

    1. The processes in water treatment plants can’t break down hormones and lots of pharmaceuticals. Hence the news about low levels of prozac in the water in certain areas. And when lots of women are peeing out lots of hormones.. it’s enough to bother the fish.

      1. Prozac in drinking water? The water that comes out of our fossets? They put it there on purpose like Fluoride?

        Whoa…

    2. That kind of stuff isn’t diluted to anything like 100C dilution. There can be pharmacologically-significant levels of hormones and so on in water where lots of people live and work. People make lots of mess; it’s one of the things we’re good at.

  23. Nicely written and to the point, Mark. Thank you.

    It’s about time Homeopathy is put to bed as an old, loopy theory that does not stand up to science.

    I don’t know why most “Holistic” or “Alternative” health practitioners persist in clinging to this. And “Natural” food and health stores still have large sections devoted to Homeopathic potions. (I think I just answered my own question – it makes a lot of money and there are no ingredients – pure profit!)

  24. Homeopathy is obviously absolute bunk snakewater and it’s kind of annoying that Mark had to waste a post on it. But I guess I’m glad he did. The most important thing on the topic is – as Mark addressed – there is a lot of terminology confusion between homeopathy and genuine herbalism. Heck, up until a few years ago I used the terms interchangeably. There’s definite education that needs to happen.

  25. I have tried professionally (by a practitioner) a few times over the last 25 years with good results. I have also used some over-the-counter (OTC) homeopathic products scores of times over those years with good results as well. I include homeopathic remedies in my home “pharmacy” along with western herbs and chinese herbs.

    I have always been far less interested in whether something “makes sense” or satisfies “logic” – and especially whether it is “scientifically sound”
    or not, and much more interested in whether it actually WORKS for me – and believe me, I am as skeptical as the next person, but that healthy skepticism is combined with an open mind — big difference.

    Have you noticed that “science” (in its various forms) has always throughout history been cocksure about what it knows is “true” at any given time, but always changes its mind (albeit inexorably) eventually — but is NEVER caught up with the cutting-edge of thought. Consider Gallileo and Copernicus and many others — they were thought to be heretics in their own time, and then science eventually caught up them, whereas what was cutting-edge then was somewhere else already. The point I am trying to make here is that anything you think you know right now about science is nothing more than what you’ve read in books or learned in school (more books) or heard in the media – including the information you are judging/evaluating by — you are using a paradigm (way of thinking) that you’ve learned from this culture — it doesn’t make it “right”, ultimately — many other cultures have many other ways of thinking and interpreting the world — are you arrogant enough to think they are “wrong”?
    By the way, homeopathic remedies are not simply “diluted” by adding water. They are shaken in a vigorous and specific way at each dilution step, which is a big difference.
    If you are curious about the properties of water that make it an amazing substance to carry the essence of something (as in homeopathy), take a look at Masaru Emoto’s research on water.
    As to your cursory discount of “the life force”, this just exposes your own bias for not acknowledging it, not whether it exists or not.

    Also, you don’t mention whether you’ve tried homeopathy or not — I assume you haven’t, since you don’t mention so.

    I agree that there’s room for debate, but I think you have a weak argument indeed if you are relying on books and other’s opinions (that’s what books are too) instead of your own (hopefully more than cursory) experience.

    Again, in my experience, what’s mattered to me more than anything else is whether it actually works, not whether it “makes sense” or not. I say, who cares whether it makes sense! Do people who blindly swallow pharmaceutical drugs
    do so knowing the side-effects and the mechanisms of action for those drugs? Almost always not. Being that pharmaceutical drugs kill at least a quarter million people a year (and are backed up by “science” and “research”), I am surprised that you would be so critical about substances that at least are harmless (i.e., homeopathics).
    By the way, homeopathy, along with many other therapies, was and is meant to be an ALTERNATIVE to pharmaceutical biomedicine — something I think that’s worth considering.

    By the way, I enjoyed many of your points, not the least was whether re-cycled water from treatment plants had residues or essences of funky stuff in it — I think that’s an excellent question!! The quality of the water we drink (not to mention the air) is obviously really important – Grok would probably gag on most of what we drink and breathe) – just as important as what we eat.

    1. This argument is actually upside down. Galileo and Copernicus WERE science that was dogmatically repressed by those who “knew” from personal experience that these observations were wrong. Homeopathy would be widely embraced if it could live up to a double blind study. It can’t.

    2. It is truly wonderful that you have found success in homeopathy, and although anecdotal evidence doesn’t usually rank highly in terms of proving a treatment (compared to a clinical trial for example), there is certainly great merit an anecdotal proof approach to self-care. And as such, it is certainly helpful to have a number of treatment options available to an individual.

      However, I think that it is important to point out that, although the substance itself may be ‘harmless’, potential delay of proven treatment in favour of less proven, or unproven treatments may not be so harmless.

    3. Glad homeopathy has worked for you. That said:

      “Science” (in quotation marks) may be “cocksure.” Science, in it’s proper practice is not. There is nothing dogmatic about science. You remarked it “always” changes it’s mind. That’s because of it’s very undogmatic nature–that’s a strength of science, not a weakness. When new evidence comes along, the theory changes accordingly. You kind of contradicted yourself there.

      As far as science not being part of “cutting edge throught”–well that depends on what you mean by “cutting edge.” If you mean any alternative idea that might get tossed into the social milleu, then yes, science is slow to accept–that is another one of its strengths. Ideas must pass the muster of rigorous scientific inquiry to become sound theory. Homeopathy has failed in that respect, time and again.

      Copernicus and Gallileo WERE the science of their time. They were not considered “heretics” by the scientific establishment (what little was allowed to by the church to exist at that time.) Science doesn’t use that label. They were considered heretics by the church. It was the church (centuries later) that caught up to science.

      Wilbur wrote: “The point I am trying to make here is that anything you think you know right now about science is nothing more than what you’ve read in books or learned in school (more books) or heard in the media…”

      To say “nothing more” is like saying a Porche 911 is “nothing more than a car.” And besides, no, science is also testable and repeatable. Mark could indeed run his own double-blind study on Homeopathic treatments if he wanted. It would be a waste of time however, as the subject has been run into the ground. This isn’t beating a dead horse–it’s stepping on the maggots that fed off it’s carcass.

      Wilbur said: “By the way, homeopathic remedies are not simply “diluted” by adding water. They are shaken in a vigorous and specific way at each dilution step, which is a big difference.”

      So homeopathic “remedies” are carefully shaken water. That makes it…carefully shaken water. The fact that it’s done in a specific way…well…rain dances are also done in a “specific way…”

      Wilbur said: “I agree that there’s room for debate, but I think you have a weak argument indeed if you are relying on books and other’s opinions (that’s what books are too) instead of your own (hopefully more than cursory) experience”

      Would you say the same about evolution? The speed of light? Germ theory of disease?

      Homeopathy is a religion. If you have faith in it, I guess you might find some benefit. To try to argue, however, that it should be taken seriously by the academic world, anyone skeptical or the individuals interested in finding an effective cure to their ailement…well…that battle was lost a long time ago.

      PS–For what it’s worth, I do agree with you on Big Pharma 🙂

      1. “The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.”
        – Voltaire

        … jus’ sayin….

      2. I’ve read that they also hit the tube of water against a Bible. So yes, it’s a religion!

  26. I’m kind of on the fence with Homeopathy since the principle of symptoms generated in your body from a disease could be an outward appearance of your body trying to regain homeostasis therefore a substance that produces those same symptoms in an otherwise healthy individual could in a smaller amount help the body better gain homeostasis. Take for instance the fact that many drugs that help with conditions may actually cause them in much higher doses.

    It’s interesting that you are so fired up about this though Mark. One area I wish you were as fired up about would be MSG and its effects on stimulating our genes to cause us to be fat 🙂

    1. The dubious (read: ludicrously stupid) claim homeopathy makes is that water can somehow remember what used to be in it and that dilution makes things stronger. This is simply false (read: tested rigorously and debunked many times) and can lead to people not getting real help for serious problems, and thus dying.

  27. Sam Hahnemann was dissatisfied with the tools available to heal the sick, meaning leaches, mercury, lead, etc. He refused to practice this medicine, but continued his search for a better healing system. He eventually discovered the mechanism of “Like Cures Like”
    Although i like homeopathy as an alternative modality and, is in common in medical usage today; homeopathy has yet to find scientific instruments with enough sensitivity to measure and thereby prove homeopathic efficacy.
    The Law of Similars is used in vaccination, and let it be stated i am tottally aganist vacciness 95% of tge time it is also used in many incidences of poisoning, such as snakebites, all examples of using the toxic substance to create the cure, (fire aganist fire)
    Much of contemporary thought in medicine involves healing with opposite force. We use medicines to cool the heat of fever, to reduce swellings. Hahnemann found this concept suppressive, and believed it forced the disease condition deeper into the organism’s vital force, where it waits until a “like” remedy can be found to counter it.
    If you measure symptom, you can easily measure results. If you reduce fever, you can measure the lower temperature of a thermometer. As medicine became more mechanistic and relied on technology, instruments for measurement and removal of symptom has become our definition of cure. And homeopathy is hard to measure. Homeopaths agree that once a remedy is diluted beyond 24x or 12C potencies. They are diluted beyond Avogadro’s number (6.23 x 10-23), which indicates that no molecules are present in the original substance. However, both laboratory and clinical results over the last 190 years have demonstrated definite effectiveness with homeopathic remedies beyond this dilution.
    Using modern research techniques, homeopathy has been put to the test. Believers claim results. Skeptics are still skeptical. There is currently much interest in discovering the system by which the dilute remedies used in homeopathy treatment provide their healing effects. The amount of substance in homeopathy remedies is miniscule, as the remedies are diluted and succussed numerous times, beyond Avogadro’s number, leaving skeptics to wonder how something that is not “there” can heal. Over the years, theories about the memory of water, kirilyain photography, and Ie crystals have sought to explain the action of homeopathy remedies. One such study was conducted by Boiron Pharmacy called, “Understanding the phenomenon of high potencies.” This study used spectroscopic methods and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR).
    Biologist, Dr. Jacques Benviste suggests that “Water can retain the vibrational memory of a substance even after it is diluted beyond Avogadro’s number, where no physical traces of the substance remain,” in an article published in the journal Nature in 1988. Shui-Yin Lo, a former visiting associate at the California Institute of Technology, suggested a possible scientific explanation of how homeopathy might work. He created extremely dilute solutions similar to those used in homeopathic remedies. He then examined these dilutions with an electron microscope, which showed that in some cases the water contained strange ice crystals, which formed at room temperature under normal pressure. The crystals were even stable at high temperatures. These IE crystal (the named meaning ice formed under an electric charge using ions) also demonstrate some of the function of water.
    As our technologically-based medicine creates more subtle measuring devices, the evidence for the efficacy of homeopathy will continue to be further displayed, adding homeopathy to the arsenal of healing tools.
    Ruben
    workoutmaster.com

    1. So why doesn’t the water retain the memory of the myriad other compounds that are super diluted within it? e.g. contaminants, the containers it was processed in, and everything else it ever contacted.

    2. “Extraoridnary claims require extraoridnary evidence.” Until then, it’s just a claim.

      -Unicorns that phase between this universe and another are my personal guardians
      -Invisible Fairies make my dinner every night by guiding my hands at the stove.
      -My teeth talk for me without a thought from me–I just sit and marvel at their words.

      These are claims that science has not developed strong enough instruments to measure. How come no one is taking my claims seriously?

  28. I don’t have any problem with “like treats like”; think of smallpox vaccinations or the Salk polio vaccine. Here, the mechanism is to introduce something similar (but less harmful) which triggers the patient’s immune response system.

    Of course none of this will help after you’ve contracted smallpox or polio.

    On the other hand, I can’t follow the dilution idea at all, in fact it (to my mind) is utterly absurd.

    If I want Arnica I’ll go for something that’s 10%, not 10xE-3000

  29. Trish, take a deep breath. I do think you’re
    overreacting. Daia’s post was perfectly
    civil, even though may disagree with its
    content.

  30. Some people swear by drinking their own urine. People are going to believe what they want to believe and there is nothing you can do to convince them otherwise.

  31. I was under the impression that the cure for malaria, quinine, is a homeopathic compound. Also I had great success with Zicam when they first came out with the nasal swabs. Neither of these is diluted – they definitely have ‘active’ ingredients that would cause malaria or cold symptoms if you took them when healthy, but they are both homeopathic.

    1. No, they are not. Quinine is a plant compound distilled from acacia bark. It is a legitimate herbal remedy, not a homeopathic one. It is not diluted to insignificant concentrations and acts like any other drug, eliciting observable physiological effects which block infestation by malaria flukes as well as reducing malaria symptoms.

      If it is not diluted, it is not homeopathy, strictly speaking. Mark made this very clear. People are misusing the label if they use to describe things like Quinine.

      Also, Quinine does not in any way cause malaria or malaria-like symptoms. It’s an anti-inflammatory and a pain-killer, for Pete’s sake. I don’t know anything about Zicam so I won’t address that part.

      1. My apologies. I should have said cinchona bark, not acacia. I was under the mistaken impression that cinchona was a member of the acacia family, but it’s not.

    2. In 2006, Matrixx Initiatives (makers of Zicam) paid $12 million to settle 340 lawsuits from Zicam users who said that the product destroyed their sense of smell (medically termed anosmia). As of 2009 hundreds more such suits have since been filed.

      It appears that some of the active ingredient (zinc) in Zicam was not diluted to the degree that “homeopathic” remedies are normally done.

      This shows that manufacturers can co-opt the term “homeopathic” for their remedy, even if it is not technically a homeopathic formula, since it is not a regulated term, further confusing the public about what the heck homeopathic means.

      The responses to this post show a lot of confusion and misinformation in the public who do take these remedies, and I would add that health practitioners themselves may use the term in a loosey-goosey manner.

  32. Okay, looks like I will be on the opposite side of the fence here. 15 years ago, I went to a registered Homeopathic Practitioner who came highly recommended. I had HUGE HUGE success for a number of issues. Depression, hormonal issues, and best of all, allergies. I have not tried a liquid homeopathic, only in the form of a tiny sugar ball. For me, it put my body, and mind back into balance. I would not hesitate to use homeopathic treatments again. I was lucky to find a practitioner who was well respected in his field, and will always be grateful for his help.

    1. All of your ailements are cyclical in nature. And no offense, but depression and “hormonal issues” require a medical diagnosis, which I suspect you never received. I too have allergies, but they ebb and flow, not with how much homeopathic care I get, but with the pollen count. Sometimes I go years without symptoms.

  33. The homeopathic remedies that you can buy at a health food store don’t work at all from what I can tell. BUT…when I had a systemic candida yeast infection, homeopathy was the ONLY thing that worked. It took several weeks, and I was very, very tired a lot of the time, especially near the beginning of the course of treatment. But my yeast symptoms went away by the end of this course of treatment. I had to get the candida medicine by mail order, and I’m not sure you can still get it.

    1. Or, your immune system finally did it’s job and got rid of it. Correlation and causation are two different things. Either way, I’m glad you’re well!

  34. To the earlier posts on Chiropractic, I have great success with a Chiropractor I trust. I broke my neck when I was 19 in a bad accident (C-3 and C-4), and had bone fragments kicking around in there from a previous accident the year before.
    After many years of brutal spasms that would leave me with NO mobility (couldn’t turn my head) and numbness in my arm, hand and fingers..And the only offer of help was a prescription for pain killers, anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxers, I was pretty desperate for relief. I was too young to be in constant pain, but I refused surgery to fuse everything together.
    While being treated for a rib injury, (another long story), I developed a trusting relationship with a young chiro who was referred to me by (gasp) my primary physician. As we worked on my ribs and spine, he told me he had gotten a great job offer halfway across the country. But he wanted his DAD to take over my case, and he thought his dad would have the expertise to win my trust and let him work on my neck. I did, thank God. He took x rays, tested my strength and mobility, had me use a different pillow (12 yrs later I still use it!)and worked on straightening me out. It did initially take awhile, but I am SO thankful I stuck with it!
    I see him occasionally once a year or two for a few sessions when I get jammed up..we are always amazed how long it has been!
    Love my Chiropractor!

  35. I’m going to remain neutral on the homeopathy issue… I just haven’t done enough personal research to decide, and it’s not something I use, so it isn’t a priority. What does worry me is when people use homeopathy in place of nutrition of healthy habits. I know some use it in place of conventional medicine, but I don’t think that is the biggest issue.
    Take, for example, some members of my extended family: They still eat grains, sugars, and PUFAs because they are “less expensive to buy” but use over $1,000/month of supplements, homeopathic remedies and herbs. I think supplements and herbs have a definite place, but they are no substitute for a solid foundation in nutrition. I don’t worry so much when I see people avoiding conventional treatment for minor issues, but I do think it is a waste of money to use any of these products if you aren’t giving your body the advantage of a good primal diet. Like I’ve tried to explain to them… you can’t out exercise or out supplement a crap diet!

  36. Mark,

    I appreciate the information and I was completely uninformed about homepathy. But after reading your post, I can say the principles behind it just doesn’t make sense to me. Starting at light force and then dilution, anytime someone saids diluting something makes it stronger I know their science is horrible. I think I figured that out at 8 when I tried to dilute Coke to make more Coke (yes in my sugar addict days).

  37. My anecdotal experience has proven to me that homeopathy does work at times. My daughter used to suffer from horrible growing pains that nothing seemed to touch until I found a homeopathic remedy and tried it. I suspected it was a placebo effect until I ran out of that remedy one night and subbed another that looked exactly the same and she kept screaming her head off. I restocked and again had very positive results. I’m working very hard with my daughter on primal eating and primal supplement recommendations but will continue to use the occasional homeopathic remedy.

  38. Homeophaty is basically an alternative medicine. This is why it is not being recommended by physician per se. However, when the patient would like to try something outside of the traditional ‘western’ medicine, it can be tried out i.e. similar accupuncture and others.

  39. I continue to find the term “hogwash” offensive.

    There is no scientific basis for homeopathy. Nevertheless, I believe in it. I also believe in astrology, faith healing and reincarnation. Flame that.

    1. Belief can lead to some dangerous actions. The fact that anyone finds the term “hogwash” offensive does not detract from it’s appropriateness at times.

    2. So you believe in hogwash … bunk, huey, baloney. And now you’re criticising others for merely pointing that out?

      This isn’t about “flaming”, it’s about being rational.

  40. I think homeopathy is just as effective as those silly holographic power balance wristbands.

  41. For some reason I find myself disappointed by this post. I’m in school right now studying to be a Naturopathic doctor. I’m also a supporter of the paleo diet. But this post wasn’t really about diet and though I understand there will always be skeptics I’m sad that your voice just might have convinced some people not to try this modality.

    Of course people shouldn’t try homeopathy for severe diseases or delay the “tried and true” methods as you might suggest and potentially worsen their condition. But the truth of the matter is, a good practitioner will refer when it is necessary and have no shame in it, they wouldn’t try to treat someone and risk someone getting worse if they knew it wasn’t in their best interest. I also think it’s fair to say that nine times out of ten people try “alternative” medicine when they’ve already tried the western medicine approach and it didn’t work. So at that point, there’s no harm in trying something else.

    You also didn’t mention the fact that it’s a constitution-based medicine, very similarly to Chinese Medicine and ayurvedic medicine. Meaning that many people practice it incorrectly if they try to treat themselves from their local herb shop. A proper practitioner should figure out the person’s constitution first, and then treat them accordingly. I hope others can see this blog as a great nutrition source, but seek their medical info elsewhere.

    1. I totally agree, and failed to mention it in my recent post. I think Mark was sharing a strong personal opinion, wrong though I think he is, and it really had no place here. But, since he did share it, I would like to see him research homeopathic use in babies and animals, and follow-up with what he learns. Better yet use homeopathy, correctly, for a year or two…and then let us know what you think! 🙂

  42. What makes me very uncomfortable is my boss using homeopathic vaccinations for her horses when traveling out of state. I wonder what the horses would opt to take, given a choice.

  43. For an hilarious skit on homeopathy, go to youtube and look up “mitchell and webb homeopathic”, then click on “That Mitchell and Webb Look: Homeopathic A&E”

  44. English is not my native language, so please bear with me.

    My anecdotal experience has proven to me that homeopathy works for myself. Also: my wife gave birth to a child a few weeks ago and the nurse told us that they work very successfully with homeopathy to heal vaginal injuries coming from the birth. I also know first hand examples where cows and other animals were healed with homeopathy, because it is cheaper than normal medical treatments (placebo with cows?????).

    It doesn’t bother me at all whether “experts” think that the approach is “scientific” or not. Just leave “us” alone then…

  45. People will already have their mind made up especially after reading this post if they have never used homeopathy. That is a shame. I have used homeopathy for a couple issues and with good results. Sorry for those who can’t grasp that is does work. Like everything, it has it’s place and shouldn’t take the place of common sense for treating ailments. I also use chiropractic care and naturopathic doctor, so I guess I’m really nuts. But I spend, especially at my age, much less than others on my health (because I don’t use one prescription or over the counter drugs). I’m here for Mark’s advice on diet and exercise and will just have to excuse him on this one point. Hopefully, someday, why it works will be sorted out. I also was a skeptic, but sometimes you just can’t argue when it works.

    I had severe nerve pain from a fall on my tail bone and could hardly walk when given a remedy for nerve pain and found relief, as in being able to sit and walk without pain. It was a little sore still, but the relief was welcome and came about in just a couple doses. Again, sorry, but I just won’t go without because someone says it’s not scientifically probable. I know it is possible. And don’t even begin to tell me it was all in my head.

  46. If people are interested in this subject I’d strongly recommend they check out the book “Bad Science” by Ben Goldacre.

    Not only does it contain a thorough debunking of homeopothy, but also has a great section on the placebo effect, and how to spot bad science yourself.

    1. +1

      Excellent read and it provides some good ammo against Big Pharma.

  47. There are some general patterns here with those who argue in favor of homeopathy:

    1. They produce personal anecdotal evidence
    2. The conditions that they claim homeopath is effective in improving are usually conditions that are quite “fuzzy” when it comes to symptoms, and they can often improve on their own (“it comes and goes”).
    3. They emphasize that they keep an “open mind” but they ignore the fact that homeopathy failed in properly conducted double-blind trials, saying that “science doesn’t know everything”.

    About 1: The human mind is not a computer. I strongly recommend the book “Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)” – it’s about how our mind can play tricks on us, we are subject to problems like confirmation bias etc..

    About 2: The problem is obvious. Remember the experiments with pidgeons, where pigeons in a cage would get a reward (food from a food dispenser) in random intervals? After a while the pidgeons will repeat behavior which they were doing when they received a reward, thinking that the behavior triggered the reward. They will keep doing this even if repeating the behavior clearly doesn’t trigger the reward. Similarly, people will become convinced that a homeopathic remedy has an effect if they once took it and *remember* that it seemed to work. The key is the word “remember” – as I explained in the previous point, the mind can play tricks on us. As time goes by, our rememberance of a specific event can get distorted … our brain tries to resolve dissonances. In the book I mentioned they used the analogy of a pyramid. When an event just occurred, you’re at the top of the pyramid. As time goes by, you slide down one of its sides – until you’re quite removed from the original facts. In the case of homeopathy, you can either slide down the skeptic side, or the “there must be something to it” side.

    About 3: I’ll just paraphrase Douglas Adams:

    “It’s good to be open-minded – but not so much that your brains fall out”

    I’d like to think that I’m keeping an open mind. But when it comes to homeopathy, there are two facts:

    – It’s only water/sugar. None of the initial “active” chemical is left in the pills or drops.
    – Randomized/double-blind trials fail.

    The latter is often ignored by people in favor of their personal anecdotal evidence. But like I explained above, that evidence has been shown to not be reliable. Especially when you’re faced with objective evidence that’s in conflict with your personal opinion, I think it’s clear that independent of concepts like “open-mindedness” letting go of your personal opinion in favor of the objective evidence is the better choice.

    1. Lifted this from Wikipedia (yeah, yeah) but it is illustrative of the scale we are talking about:
      30C is a common homeopathic dilution and the one advocated by Hahnemann for most purposes: on average, this would require giving two billion doses per second to six billion people for 4 billion years to deliver a single molecule of the original material to any patient. Must be all about the life force in the water…unless it’s in the sugar pill delivery system that some use.

      1. Hi folks, just came across this debate and am finding fascinating.

        I’m a nutritional therapist, and work in a multi-discipline clinic with all types of practioners, two of which are homeopaths.

        All I can say is people never question what works for them, i have used homeopathy very successfully with tri-athletes competing at very high European competition levels with great success, for many sport related traumas and injury.

        As for what science says, much of what is advocated by Mark and this website/blog would be regarded by main stream nutritional science to be excessive and potentially dangerous to ones health, say with regards to recommended daily allowances of nutrients, Traditional food pyramids, or indeed what a traditional clinical dietitian would recommend. There s a mountain of “reliable science” which advises a diet of wholegrains and 5-a -day to keep you ticking over nicely!

        So does that make what Mark says wrong? yes to some and no to others. To me, what is advocated in Marks book and site regarding nutrition and exercise makes perfect sense, excellent read, loads of really good science behind it.

        As for his opinion on Homeopathy, I’ve heard it all before and appreciate that this system of healing is easy pickings when comes to discrediting. As for water memory, if its good enough for the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences its good enough for me, maybe one step closer to understanding Homeopathy?

        As for laws of physics, reliable science, etc, its a bit about content, allot about context, relative versus absolute, Newtonian vs Quantum, allopathic versus the world, cause if everyone believed “reliable science” we wouldn’t need nutritional supplements, cholesterol would be the most significant predictor of cardiovascular risk and all be prescribed statins over 50yrs old, need not worry about mobile phones, or global warming and just accept that our genes control everything anyway!

      2. mark, bought your book last year and have thoroughly enjoyed the advice and this website. Having grown up the son of an acupuncturist/chiropractor, i probably have some different views on some alternative health modalities, and,yes, i am aware you are far from extolling the virtues of conventional medicine. Wondering what take you might have on something such as energy medicine, such as yuen method? Here’s a great link: chineseenergetics.com. Not a regular viewer of Dr. Oz but i hear that he has been showing this attention on the show lately and i know it wont be the last time he does. Thanks for your service .

  48. This has made for a very interesting series of comments.

    Personally I believe that the body has evolved and is programmed to heal itself and it does its level best to keep the right balance in order to reproduce and continue its genetic pattern. After all the very success of that evolution is evidenced by the fact that we all come to be sitting at individual screens all around the world pontificating the finer nuances of what is science and what is not!

    For many of these conditions I think the body heals itself – if we have taken something we assume it has worked but not taking something might have worked equally well. As Mr Grok is very fond of saying ‘we can’t know the path we didn’t take’.

    I also believe that we have a far greater control over our wellbeing through harnassing our mental energies than many believe. And I don’t mean this in a mystical sense at all. There are studies that show that folks in old people’s home can show increased bone density and muscle strength from being taken through weights routines in their heads. They do not raise any weights, they simply think through the exercise. What appears to be happening is the brain is firing all the appropriate physical/neurological pathways that would be involved in the actual movement.

    The very fact you can raise your heart rate by thought alone to trigger stress responses shows me there is most certainly an untapped power available to us.

    So, perhaps with homeopathy the people that believe it works are simply receiving the necessary thought stimulation (the placebo effect!) to heal themselves.

    What I do know is that we are the most incredible collection of nuerons, hormones and all the rest (and we don’t understand even 10% of it yet) and we owe it to our fabulous evolution to feed and move right and live in a way that nurtures us so we can do Grok proud.

  49. Hey, really great blog post… I’ve enjoyed reading through it because of the great style and energy put into the writing. I actually run my own health blog where I muse about diet and lowering cholesterol. If you’re interested, I would love to have you on as a guest blogger. Please send me an e-mail: bob.mauer65(at)gmail(dot)com, and I can give you more information.
    Looking forward to hearing from you.

  50. (Sigh)… Sorry to be a bit didactic here, but it is VERY important that we distinguish here between Science, and its myriad conceptions, an the Scientific Method, which is easy to define, and which guides all logic and reason in our culture. Science describes a collection of an enormous number of disciplines studying subatomic particles, galaxies, kangaroos, trees, the price of cheese, fashion trends, and rocks, to name a few. Some of these disciplines are better at using numbers to describe what they study, and each discipline has some practitioners who are awesome and some who totally suck. What enables people to evaluate these disciplines, the individual findings, and the people doing the research is the Scientific Method. There are slight variations in the way this is defined, but this link is pretty good at summing it up (with pretty pictures, too!): http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_scientific_method.shtml
    Basically, if I believe something to be true (Oh, I dunno, say… saturated fat causes heart disease, to pick a completely random example). I then try to design a study as best I can to DISPROVE my hypothesis. Ideally, however I design the study initially, anyone collecting data will know as little as possible about the people and things they are researching (by which I mean the identities, not the science), so bias is minimized; so, if I am on the team of people gathering data, I won’t know if the blood I am analyzing is from someone in the group that ate steak and drank coconut milk, or from the group that ate couscous and drank juice. Then the data is analyzed, and a bunch of fancy statistics are calculated, and we can make a conclusion (or not). THEN, people who don’t like the results can make their own study and try to DISPROVE mine. That is the scientific method, more or less. It ain’t perfect, but it is far superior – when discussing what is good or bad for EVERYONE – than anything else we’ve got, including “I used it, and now I feel great; in fact, I can see the future and read my cat’s mind!”Individuals making choices for themselves can use any method they like, but professionals making recommendations for others should be doing their homework regarding the research. The problem with homeopathy is twofold: the Principle behind it has been proven false by a basic knowledge of Chemistry (Avogadro, to name one awesome person), AND it has never been proven to work better than placebo in scientific studies. This makes sense, because a substance diluted down to zero or near zero molecules IS A PLACEBO. All of this is coming from someone who takes many vitamins and herbal supplements, meditates, and occasionally plays the lottery, so make of it what you will: we are all irrational in our behavior from time to time, but when have a discussion about acts, Reason Rules. Okay, I’ll shut up now.

    1. … and when they put those funny little glass bulbs vacuumed onto your body?

      (chuckling) that “bring out your dead” skit from Python….

    2. They still use leeches (to remove congested blood from wounds)! and maggots (to remove dead wound tissue)! 🙂 They have very reproducible results in treatment though. 😉

  51. Thank you Mark for explaining the difference between homeopathy and naturopathy. I admit to once being a person who used the terms interchangably.

    I would like to point out to some other commentators who seem to be mocking old medical practices that leeches and maggots do have a place in medicine today. The leeches are used to help encourage renewed blood flow into amputated and reattached body parts and the maggots used to debride dead and decaying tissues from wounds without damaging new tissues.

    I will admit to not knowing of any current use for blood letting except in the form of blood donation.

  52. Great article! This is the best introductory explanation of homeopathy I’ve ever read. Much better that what’s available even on homeopathy websites. Very fair and balanced too.

    I personally have had very good results with homeopathy, but I can appreciate that our current scientific understanding doesn’t provide any credible explication for it’s method of action.

  53. Two points:

    1. No therapy, drug, regimen, surgery, et al will work
    with every human body at all times. Bodies have
    unique make-ups so that some will do well with
    aspirin, some not, some get a certain type of
    oper-ation and do well, others get the same
    operationfor a similar reason and it’s a no go,
    etc.
    2. The body will tell you what works and what does
    not. And in pretty clear terms. It isn’t hard to
    get the hang of listening and it’s well worth
    it. It saves a bundle of time, money and
    suffering to know quickly (and/or permanently)
    what works and what does not.

  54. Reading the debate about homeopathy sparked my memory of the Jonah Lehrer article in The New Yorker titled, “The Truth Wears Off– Is there something wrong with the scientific method?” Highly recommend reading it in light of this recent discussion. I will try to put the link below. If not, it was in the 12/13/2010 issue.

    http://richarddawkins.net/articles/574307-the-truth-wears-off

  55. I couldn’t see any reference to remedies prepared by dilution AND succussion to release and potentise the energy. See University of Maryland article (with a host of references … lots of those studies people say were never done) for an explanation … http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/homeopathy-000352.htm. You’ve also ignored the fact that it works on animals and the very young. Not a member of the Flat Earth Society are you? I can follow paleo elsewhere. You’ve lost me.

  56. All I can say is we have an 11 month old who is teething 4 molars and 2 eye teeth. She is usually placid as can be. She began just crying and tantrums and incredibly clingy when they popped out–constantly. We gave her baby motrin with oragel, no change. When we gave her homeopathic teething drops or gel…we welcomed back Ms. Placid. I can’t believe it myself. But we were willing to try anything. The homeopathic options work great and work for her–compared to the other options…

  57. @ all you haters-why do you care? Just don’t take homeopathy yourself and go argue about more pressing issues.

  58. Homeopathy worked wonders for my babies acute ailments…no possibility of the placebo effect there!! Many vets successfully use homeopathy for horses, dogs and cats…no possibility of a placebo effect in animals!! Now that my babies are children, we continue to use homeopathy for all of our acute illnesses and injuries…we swear by its effectiveness. The only night time cough remedy that consistently works for any of us is a homeopathic one!! Hmm…And then there is England, where the Royal family has relied on homeopathy for 4 generations, not to mention that the majority of “commom folk” use it as well. As a matter of fact, 40% of the time, Drs. will send a patient to a homeopathic doctor!! There are homeopathic hospitals and colleges as well…it’s all an accepted part of their excellent National Health Care system!! (UKrs, please weigh in here). I believe homeopathy is very commonly used with great success in India, France and many other countries. So, try it if you haven’t…do your own research, and see what you think. It will never hurt you…ever, and will most likely help any acute condition immediately! Chronic conditions are more time consuming and stubborn, taking more patience and money to see a certified homeopath, but it’s worth a try! Good luck to all! 🙂

  59. Unfortunately this is the type of subject matter that reveals peoples prejudices clearly. We are all comfortable with that which we know. Homeopathy has existed in Europe as an accepted medical practice for decades. In fact, French MDs are taught homeopathy; German pharmaceutical companies have also been homepathic manufacturers. The unexplainable phenomenon around us is often classified as `hooey’ until we learn new methods of exploring these things. The BP cuff was originally mocked, as were EEGs and hand-washing for doctors. We heard for decades that acupuncture is hypnosis or placebo. Now there are books which account the physiology of acupuncture (despite what some `doctors’ still say). Read Keith Scott-Mumby, MD. PhD `Virtual medicine’; Robert Becker, MD `The Body Electric’ and `Cross-Currents’; David Hawkins, MD, PhD `Power Vs Force”;Richard Gerber, MD, `Vibrational Medicine’. There are subtle energies everywhere that we are only beginning to be aware of. Just perhaps there are a few things we aren’t yet aware of and `science’ has not uncovered. BiioPhysics is one of these new realms (google Fritz Popp – Biophotons/ Biophonons). Lasers were this way years ago. Microcurrent therapy is there now. In regards to homeopathy its the Succussion (the impacts) which are a critical factor in their creation. There are energies all around us which affect us – Resonance. Everything has it. One day in the not too distant future we’ll understand these phenomenon better. “Any technique of significant advancement is indistinguishable from Magic” Arthur C. Clarke

  60. still didn’t touch on how infants and animals — scientifically not considered to be capable of placebo affect — respond so well to homeopathy.

  61. With a title like this one, I should have realised it would be a trashing of homeopathy.

    Mark, this really is quite disappointing.

    I’ve been reading your blog for a little while now and given how strong you are in your beliefs regarding primal eating even when conventional wisdom says otherwise – “scientific” research that “proves” the detrimental effects of saturated fats like coconut oil and “proves” how beneficial whole grains are, I’m really surprised that you would believe these same scientists who attempt to debunk homeopathy.

    As some other readers have mentioned, there are a myriad of things in this world that we don’t understand (because we don’t know how to measure or test them within our current means) and we just accept them as they are. Do you not think that homeopathy could fall within this realm?

    Homeopathy is a truly amazing form of healing, one that homeopaths and patients alike who have seen results from it understand.

    On reading Hahnemann’s Organon, one may think that it is easy to choose the correct remedy – it is in the case of first aid and acute situations. When it comes to chronic health issues, or ones that have been muddied by conventional wisdoms’ drugs, then it becomes more difficult to choose an accurate remedy. It takes time and patience and unlike conventional medicine, if the wrong remedy is prescribed, no death will occur. I’m sure you yourself are familiar with the exorbitant number of hospital/doctor/medicine caused deaths each year in the United States.

    While trauma medicine definitely has it’s place, I don’t believe doctors are doing their patients any favours by scoffing at homeopathy. Nor are you doing your readers any favours by showing such ignorance when it comes to homeopathy. It is people like you who have such influence in a community such as this, that could make an extraordinary difference in peoples’ understanding of homeopathy. Instead you have done the complete opposite.

    1. What he has done is this:

      He preferred rationality and reason over anecdotal evidence.

      One can “challenge conventional wisdom” in many ways. In the case of homeopathy, there is no science whatsoever to back up the claims. In the case of for example “saturated fat and cholesterol don’t cause heart disease” there are tons of studies and research results which back it.

      If homeopathy is as superior to conventional medicine as you claim it is, how come that there are no studies that confirm it? Sure, studies can be wrong. But that doesn’t mean that having no favorable studies at all is suddenly not a problem.

      You claim that for some conditions there are homeopathic remedies which improve them – and not because people believe in the effect (placebo), but because of water memory of the active agent. I don’t know about you, but a double-blind study seems to be perfectly suited to determine whether that’s actually the case. Voila, it fails.

      1. “Voila, it fails.”

        Lol. Now there’s a great open-minded scientifically sound conclusion *before* any study has shown any evidence to interpret in order to come to a conclusion.

        Without the study, what is your factual basis for presumed failure?

        Boo.

        1. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140673605671772/abstract

          “Interpretation
          Biases are present in placebo-controlled trials of both homoeopathy and conventional medicine. When account was taken for these biases in the analysis, there was weak evidence for a specific effect of homoeopathic remedies, but strong evidence for specific effects of conventional interventions. This finding is compatible with the notion that the clinical effects of homoeopathy are placebo effects.”

          Boo indeed.

        2. Mike, there’s no “reply” after your post, so I used this one, but I’m addressing your retrospective comparative “study” of the literature where an “odds ratio below 1 indicated benefit.”

          The use of the terms “strong” and “weak” when using such varied numbers as “(0·39—0·85)” and “0·65—1·19” stops seeming very relevant to real-life experience.

          I had a VBA2C, and was urgently warned that my risk of uterine rupture was DOUBLED and I was endangering myself and child!!! It was up to me to discover that the risk was doubled from 0.02%. I don’t personally find that significant. I don’t care if a study does or not.

          It was also up to me to point out that the risk of death from another c-section was potentially 100%, given that dr negligence nearly killed me and my baby the second time.

          This is the “study” you reference for your conclusion? I can point out several flaws in its design just from reading the summary.

          I wish there were more honest scientists: we need this conclusion, so design a study to find it, even if it means *not* studying it, and making insignificant findings look significant by using qualitative language.

          Still boo.

        3. Imogen,

          “The use of the terms “strong” and “weak” when using such varied numbers as “(0·39—0·85)” and “0·65—1·19? stops seeming very relevant to real-life experience.”

          http://www.homeovet.cl/BRIONES/Are%20the%20clinical%20effects%20of%20homoeopathy%20placebo%20effects%20Comparative%20study%20of%20placebo-controlled%20t.pdf

          The comparison included 110 studies assessing homeopathic remedies and 110 which assessed allopathic remedies. I think that the numbers are significant, especially considering that the allopathic studies were much more heterogeneous. This only further underlines that the conventional medication actually has an effect, which is sometimes helpful, and sometimes maybe has side effects, but it actually does something, whereas the homeopathic remedy does nothing (how could it do anything, being just water/sugar), and thus the results are more homogeneously insignificant.

          Had they limited the consideration to the “upper 50%” of the studies in terms of suggested efficacy (e.g. only compare the top 55 homeopathic studies with the top 55 allopathic studies), the difference would only have been more pronounced.

  62. I think there is way too much evidence, both scientific and anecdotal, to dismiss Homeopathy out of hand. It is used on infants, unconscious persons, pets, livestock and plants so no placebo effect can be attributed in these cases. My entirely family uses it with great success. My nephew no longer has asthma, I no longer have gout, everyday complaints are usually addressed quickly (colds, nausea, flu, toothache, skin problems). For over two centuries it has had a long history of successes. For example, during the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918, which killed 100 million people worldwide, those treated by conventional medicine experienced a 28% death rate (aspirin seemed to be especially fatal) while those treated by homeopathic methods experienced only a 1.1 % mortality rate.

    Recent notes from the scientific community:
    Luc Montagnier, a French virologist and winner of a Nobel prize, has published research allegedly detecting electromagnetic signals from bacterial DNA after serial agitated dilution in water. He made the following statement regarding homeopathy and homeopathic doses: “I can’t say that homeopathy is right in everything. What I can say now is that the high dilutions are right. High dilutions of something are not nothing. They are water structures which mimic the original molecules.” He has further plans to study electromagnetic waves that emanate from the highly diluted DNA of various pathogens in China.

    A quote from William A. Tiller, Ph.D., professor emeritus of Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University: “It is clear we are going out of the age of chemical and mechanical medicine and into the age of energetics and homeopathic medicines.”

    These guys are not twerps off the street

    A good book further reading: The Impossible Cure: The Promise of Homeopathy by Amy Lansky, Ph.D.

    Some interesting videos are the ones by John Benneth on youtube where he directly addresses the placebo effect and presents scientific facts that are compelling if not stunning.

    A good website to explore: http://www.hpathy.com

    My advice: Do a little research, give it a try.

  63. I’m waiting on an explanation for why homeopathy is effective for treating babies and animals.

    I don’t even need a funded study to see results that defy the conjecture and speculative assertions without basis of pseudo-scientists and blind followers.

    Here’s something else:
    A few years ago, I used homeopathy to treat a specific problem. I needed a lot of phos-types. After taking them for a couple of days and finding relief (which could be placebo, if I’m open-minded about that possibility, which I am), the extremely dry, bleeding skin on the tops of my hands had become completely supple, and completely healed. Over time, it returned to its poor condition (which was the way my hands were for many years previously as well). Then the initial problem started again, so I took the phos-types again, and again my hands healed, but it was this time that I realised the connection, not the first time. My hands healed without any expectation I had.

    I turned out that the homeopathy was treating an adrenal problem (learned that later, too- I treated for symptoms), and that my hands were a symptoms of that adrenal problem, so they healed because the homeopathy addressed an underlying adrenal problem that I still didn’t even know I had.

    I was not an advocate, had no reason to be sure this would work, and had nothing to gain or lose by trying. I just wanted to try it because I had so many health problems that I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with what, or how to fix it. It was just a shot-in-the-dark for me, and my part was to read through a compendium of symptoms and write down the remedy suggested for it. Then once I had my list compiled, I grouped all of the remedies and symptoms and decided which remedies to try. It took a few hours to read through it all.

    Anyway, I have since used it for my chidren’s symptoms without telling them what they’re taking it for, and seen those symptoms abate, in most cases permanently. In my case, the relief has been usually for a short time because I have not dealt with the cause, but in their cases, it almost always addresses the issue and it doesn’t return.

    I don’t have any explanation for any of this. But I cannot unsee what I’ve seen, and this is the same it seems for a lot of people.

    I don’t believe in miracles. I am not a mystic. My values are aligned with reason, and I enjoy knowing what is true and how evidence supports it. I mean no disrespect to bohemian divinity hippy-dippies; I am just not of that temperament and have no desire to support lies or falsities.

    And while I cannot explain homeopathy, I won’t lie about it to retain my intellectual, reason-based reputation. I have seen it heal, without plausibility for placebo effect. I don’t understand it, but it does work, even unintentionally. It even has “side-effects” like healing issues one doesn’t even recognise (I thought my hands were just really dry from the arid region I moved to).

    Voila. It’s real.

  64. You have to wonder about the placebo effect. I recently read that a group of people are going to get together and purposely “overdose” on homeopathic medicine to prove that it has no effect.

    1. This is a stunt. It has no validity.

      Are you going to select for specific symptoms or try the already accomplished publicity stunt that had a bunch of people without sleeping problems, take homeopathic remedies for problems sleeping, in the middle of the afternoon, not surprisingly to no *immediate* (like within minutes) effect?

      First, if you are going to attempt a seemingly clever ineffectiveness “study”, at least learn what homeopathy is intended to do.

      Are you going to follow up with giving a bunch of happy optimists a course of CW-touted, dr-approved, big pharma-profiting, antidepressants to prove how ineffective they are?

      Boo.

      1. John, not you personally- the *you* that does such things as though they had validity.

  65. …and most of the time it’s an elective. *sigh*

    But right on about blanket statements, look at Ornish, Hyman, and Fuhrman, for example.

  66. I had a cold last week, and recovered after spending a few days playing the harmonica. Clearly this means that playing the harmonica cures the common cold.

    1. Adam, that’s astonishing! If it happened to you and you are reporting it here, it must have merit – I will try to play the harmonica next time I get sniffly, although my usual go-to medicine is chicken soup.

      Seriously, most minor ailments work themselves through and END without any input from us. But if you take medicines during the illness period, you will of course attribute your recovery to whatever medication you took, and relate that info to others to be helpful.

  67. Another common theme among the posts in favor of homeopathy:

    “It works on infants, anmimals and so forth – the it clearly can’t be attributed to the placebo effect.”

    Yes, it can. The only difference is that in this case the one who observes the effects is not the patient, but the one who administers the pills/drops. And obviously, this person is biased … they are convinced that homeopathy works. Combine that with the other aspect that I already mentioned: Homeopathic remedies are often used to cure conditions that are quite fuzzy in terms of symptoms and/or tend to come and go, or it’s possible that the body simply heals itself. If that coincides with taking a homeopathic remedy, you get the conditioning that I described in the experiments with the pidgeons which received random rewards – causation is assumed from, in this case, a subjective/anecdotal observation. This is clearly inferior to properly conducted trials.

    1. so when the homeopathic (in this case) treatment is used on a horse, with say a nonrespondant malignant TUMOR on their leg, and subsequently starts to recede/dissolve away, this is the biased observation of the administrator of the homeopathic remedy?

      interesting…. maybe i was imagining the tumor shrinking in quick succession after the routine administration of the homeopathic treatment….

      odd how those uncanny coincidences always happen…

      please repeat for me as all the automatons always do, “correlation is not causation” blah blah blah…
      that’s true, but if someone hits their head on a hard surface and a large welt/bump follows, i don’t need a clinically controlled, db, placebo controlled study to evidence for me that the head hitting the hard surface CAUSED the welt, no if’s and’s or ‘butts…

  68. mark, stick to what you know. Just because the theory of homeopathy dosn’t make current sense dosn’t mean it does not work. it does work, but not every time, but often enough. you could do a homeopathic proving and see for yourself what happens. That would be honest but what you are doing is standing on the side and merely parroting what others say.

    1. The studies show that it in fact does not work “often enough”. You are the dishonest one here, pretending that homeopathy has not been shown to be ineffective dozens of times.

      And anyone who doesn’t want to take my word for it can take an overdose of homeopathic sleeping pills, like James Randi did in the video I posted above, and find out for themselves. 😉

  69. Mike, I have already seen that video and referenced it above in reply to one of your other posts.

    The initial problem with the stunt is that homeopathy is intended to treat like with like, and by symptoms, to address the cause. Without giving my opinion on whether or not it works, it is clear that a bunch of people, gathered together in the middle of the afternoon, with no symptoms they are deliberately treating, downing a bottle of homeopathics intended to treat specific sets of symptoms sometimes related to insomnia (if aligned with other symptoms), is an overtly disingenuous stunt, and nothing more.

    As I wrote above, the equivalent stunt with pharmaceuticals would be to take a group of people with no identified emotional imbalances, and put them on a course of anti-depressants, but requiring that they take them completely off-schedule (akin to taking a whole bottle of homeopathics), so one every three days, then two in the morning, then one at bedtime and none for four days, etc…, then evaluate whether they were less depressed.

    Obviously, if they weren’t depressed to begin with, it’s a ridiculous conclusion, no matter what the “findings.”

    The difference of course would be that the pharmaceuticals would do damage, whereas if the homeopathics did, it would not be life-threatening.

    Before I knew what the medical industry was about, and as a child, I took many big pharma preparations that as a “side-effect”, ensured chronic illness, and did not heal what they were expected to (opposite placeo effect?).

    Any dose of pharmaceuticals is an overdose (even though possibly warranted under certain extreme circumstances), but you are more concerned about the impossibility of this casually accepted iotrogenic atrocity being perpetrated by practitioners of homeopathy?

    I think you have your values mixed up.

    1. If you watched the video you might also remember that the homeopathic sleeping pills came with warnings against overdosing, recommending to immediately call a doctor in that case. Clearly even those who manufacture and sell these remedies believe they can be overdosed and this would be harmful, it’s not a straw man that I am making up here.

      1. Mike, that warning appears on cough candy. I don’t know about the legislation where you are, but here, it is listed on anything that is even suggested by the manufacturer may remedy an ailment.

        Your response is a bit of a non sequitur to the points you raised earlier and to my replies. Perhaps it is just your style of communication, but it is rather difficult to discuss an issue if each response from you addresses some other aspect than what you’ve presented earlier.

        Maybe you could make a list of your concerns and then people could reply, making reference to each item, and you and others would have an opportunity to interact, rather than crossing monologues or trying to chase after your points.

        1. My main concern is that homeopathy is hogwash … there’s really no need to make a list.

          BTW: The discussion ends here, as far as I’m concerned. I don’t think we’ll get anywhere – and if you need to put the blame on me and it makes you feel better, be my guest.

  70. Has anyone who talks down about homeopathy in this forum ever had to treat a patient? Perhaps just the primal diet would “fix” them anyway. Hey, I’m all for the Primal diet and the food and diet advice suggested on this site. But when it comes to homeopathy, you’ve got it wrong. Nothing ever works 100% of the time, and not everything is easily explained with our scientific method. It’s too bad the article didn’t say, “it looks like homeopathy is hogwash, what’s your experience?”. Instead a bunch of readers see that Mark doesn’t find it valid and jump right on that bandwagon. Something tells me that if Mark had higher regards for it, and said that it’s worth looking into despite a lack of medical science that HE didn’t find existed, the comments on the forum would be a little more positive. Perhaps one day when you are all treating patients who’ve had no success with trying a variety of natural remedies, but then have their life literally turned around through homeopathy, you’ll have a little bit of a different perspective. I may have felt the same way had I not seen what homeopathy can do. But I’ve had many, many patients respond amazingly well to homeopathy when nothing else works. Can you imagine how upset these patients must be? They are “cured”, but the scientific literature says they shouldn’t be. Look, I’m all for science and research, but the biggest problem I see is when people get dogmatic about science and require a double-blind placebo-controlled study to explain everything or else it’s “hogwash”. Looks like everyone here should do more of this: “”Let’s roll up our sleeves and dig in, eh?”” Start with this article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-ullman/luc-montagnier-homeopathy-taken-seriously_b_814619.html The cases: chronic diarrhea to the point of barely being able to leave the house, daily abdominal pain for 20 years, 11-year hip pain, chronic migraines, and on and on…

    1. You got to love this placebo effect … I wouldn’t want to take that away from happy patients.

      But on the other hand, convincing them that their ailment might go away on its own, and that their body has the power to heal itself … that’s a preferable placebo IMO, especially since it lacks the “dozens of dollars for water/sugar” part.

      If you can’t explain the science behind your remedy, I am perfectly legitimized to call it “hogwash” until you can. Nobody stops you or your patients from using this “hogwash”, but if you want people like me to stop ridiculing it, you should produce something better than anecdotal evidence.

    2. amen… love your comment and common sense real world reflection…

      Hahnemann had many works and writings/research/experimentation/etc
      on homeopathy…. has anyone on this forum read even a pittance of the works to then make claims bashing it?

      Similarly, would Sisson accept criticism and debunkery diatribe towards his (the) Primal Blueprint/Paleo nutrition-exercise program, knowing the ignorant person making such attacks/claims hasn’t read the Primal Blueprint book or read the Paleo based research? let alone tried Paleo for even 1-2 months?

      see how this all works everyone?
      be more clear headed and think things through more…

  71. Can someone please explain to me how homeopathic teething tablets are supposed to help? Sorry, but my screaming daughter gets Tylenol, not fairy dust.

    There is a hilarious video from the UK (in case someone hasn’t already posted it above): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMGIbOGu8q0

  72. P.S. – I don’t understand why so many people are “disappointed” in Mark. OMG, people! He is an individual with his own thoughts and opinions. This seems obvious, but apparently many don’t realize this. While we all come here to fraternize over PB, if we stayed and delved long enough, we’d all find things we don’t agree with or like about each other. Can we please be adults about this?

    I found Mark’s argument fair, insightful, and rational. Unlike many of the responses: “Wah! You don’t agree with me and now I’m mad at you!” This is supposed to be a civilized debate, so reply in the spirit in which it began, please don’t drag us all down with your anecdotal, over-emotional, defensive retorts.

    1. Surprise? Hardly. Many might see him as an authority merely because of the Nobel prize glamour … but it was for the discovery of a virus. IMO the guy is a prime example of the worst science that you can possibly do.

      http://www.quackometer.net/blog/labels/Luc%20Montagnier.html

      “Not content with merely trying to perpetuate the discarded nonsense of previous homeopathic quacks, he appears to picks up the ideology of the homeopathic mindset. Montagnier appears in the AIDS denialist film House of Numbers saying that HIV can be ‘cleared naturally’ by nutritional means. All it requires is to have a ‘good immune system’. I see no evidence to support such claims. Now, many scientists were misrepresented in this disingenuous film, but it looks hard to see how Montagnier was. These views are not without terrible potential consequences. Such views lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people who are dependent on governments to provide a decent level of care for people with HIV.”

      This is truly awful. Boo times two.

  73. I am very skeptical of homeopathic remedies and yet… I tried a few and they actually seemed to help me. One good one especially is arnica which is great for bruises, sprains & sports related injuries.

  74. Once I tried a homeopathic yeast infection medicine that I spotted at the grocery store. Well, the infection just continued to progress. Finally I bought the regular stuff and it worked like a charm. Thanks homeopathy for the extra three days of discomfort. Booooooo.

  75. what i love..

    …using PubMed to prove your points against opposing positions (homeopathy in this instance), etc

    then bashing orthodoxy when it’s too behind the times and contrary conlusions in nutrition to say advocates of meat laden Paleolithic nutrition/diets, etc.

    classic…

    part of the scientific method is observation, and if i observe 90 out of 100 times that B follows A, then i will be clear headed enough to follow it and give credence to it, damn the compartmentalized testing results (usually funded by opponents with their antagonist agenda)…

    veternarians use homeopathy extensively with horses.. the success/positive result rate is astounding and objective, i.e, HORSES HAVE NO PRECONVENIVED BIAS, therefore no placebo…

    only takes 1 exception to break the rules…

    1. “if i observe 90 out of 100 times that B follows A”

      This doesn’t tell you if B wouldn’t have followed anyway without applying A. Consider Denise’s post above – bruises and sprains heal by themselves. Administer a homeopathic remedy and you might think that it speeds up the healing process … but how can you tell if it wouldn’t have healed as fast without it?

  76. law of similars——same for conventional allopathic medicine—peruse a PDR and you will see that the side effects of almost all meds include the symptoms of the problem for which the med is being used. That was one curious thing I encountered on my path to become a nurse.

    law of proving—-what is different from the procedures of pharmaceutical companies? Well, openness and truth, for starters, followed by a serious plan to actually prove the worth as a treatment and not the worth as an investment.

    law of potentization—-for more of this idea read a book called “The Primal Blueprint” — especially check the exercise program.

    entanglement—pretty much espoused by Andrew Weil too. And by decent allopaths who really care about patients and not just moving people in and out in ten to fifteen minutes to maximum cash flow.

    During the years of the so called Spanish Flu that really probably originated around the Great Lakes area of the USA, the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was especially hit hard. Allopaths had next to no effect. Homeopaths worked wonders.

    For years the Hahnemann Hospital of Philadelphia was a homeopathic hospital and was valued more by many people of the city then any of the other hospitals. There are many homeopathic pharmacies in the city that provide wonderful and efficacious care to many people. Often people who try allopaths and osteopaths without success for some condition find that the homeopathic cures work for them.

    The homeopath with his case of treatments was a familiar site going to houses in the neighborhood during my youth. I don’t remember too many people wanting to use allopaths until sometime in the mid fifties.

    1. you can puruse the pdr all you want. as long as you are looking for examples of the “law of similars” , that is all you will find. this is called the post hoc fallacy.

      law of proving? are you kidding me?

      entanglement – hey! if you want someone to hold your hand for 30 minutes while you cry and complain about how your husband doesn’t understand you, by all means see a homeopath. Your illness is probably psychosomatic anyway. But if you have a strep infection and really should be home in bed, why spend more than the minimal time with a doctor? You need diagnosis and a prescription, not a pat on the head.

      In my experience, people who have the word “allopath” in their vocabulary are doomed.

  77. Interesting reading this post makes,the comments that follow make it more so.

    As to homeopathy’s efficacy, there seems to be two opinions, as far as I know, people who go to homeopaths generally stick with them.

    Disclaimer: I don’t, haven’t had the need to.

    The naysayers, many of them at least, seem to be on a rationalist binge rather than having actually tried it out. They are out there arguing, of all things quantum physics, which seems more important than efficacy.

    To the patient who is in dire straits, anything that promises a cure is heaven sent, even if it is a placebo.

    To the modern rationalist, anything he does not understand or fall within his understanding can safely be placed under the placebo blanket.

    It is only when the science is done by real scientists, that the rationalist wakes up and adds it to his list of OK stuff.

    Metaanalysis, my foot…reminds me of Feynman…what if the base study were base wrong?

    Notice that the rationalist only builds up a list of stuff that he OK’s, he never or rarely does the research himself.

    A person who is real sick is also a scientist in the sense that he is not talking crap, but searching for a cure.

    If he finds it with homeopathy, all the chemistry in the world is not going to change his opinion, or his placebo.

    I have but one experience with homeopathy and that was for my three year old. She was falling ill frequently, with strong and recurrent fevers, and while allopathy did work, it left her weak and tired.

    Despite my skepticism, her grand parents took her to a homeopath who said that he required a series of visits so that he could fine tune the medicine.

    Once the medicine was done, it became kind of regular. She did get fever once in a while, but a shot of the homeopaths concoction was enough to pull it down, and on the first day.

    It so happened that while we were shifting our residence to a new location, sans her grandparents and medicine, she caught fever again, and we were caught in the swirl of allopathy again.

    To cut the story short, her grandparents came scurrying with her homeo medicine, and once the first dose was given, her fever disappeared.

    I guess the grandparents were the placebo…that is if three year olds can have such a thing.

    I have heard that homeopathic treatments work for animals too, I do not have direct experience with it, but it does make sense, if people can have placebos, so can animals.

    I am not defending the science or its seemingly our of the world theories, but need to say that we should give it the benefit of doubt, particularly when so many people seem to benefit from it, even if such be from a placebo.

    To run it down just because it does not dovetail into current science does not make for good sense or good behavior.

    When Einstein’s predecessor first suggested that things contract while they move at speed close to light, he was laughed at, only Lorenz took him seriously enough to work out a theory for it, Einstein worked it out to completion so that there would be no laughing again.

    Who knows when homeopathy’s deliverance would be, or its debunking be. Till then let us not talk about what we know not of, not in terms of disapproval where none is called for.

    After all more people have died from Western medicine that by the hands of homeopaths, so even if they are doing wrong they are doing little wrong to the general population. Let the believers be, until the whole thing be sorted out.

    And please, no quantum physics again, my head is swirling with the sense of understanding that has been demonstrated here.

  78. My word. People DO get worked up about this.

    My two cents? I have seen homeopathy remedies have astounding effects– multiple times on myself (so you could blame it on the placebo effect), but also on a very skeptical aunt and entirely unaware younger siblings (you could have been giving them smarties for all they knew). They don’t always work. But they often do and I’m keeping them around.

    As for chiropractic, it’s the bomb. I don’t believe it can cure everything– I don’t think there IS a universal cure-all out there– but chiropractic is an incredible tool when applied correctly.

  79. Re: Homeopathy is obviously absolute bunk snakewater.

    This is quite a stupid statement, since it is also “obvious” that plenty of people, professionally trained as MD’s, past and present, and intellectually of far greater caliber than this individual, have made use of homeopathy.

    It is true, of course, that it doesn’t square with ordinary medicine, since the higher potencies do not have a molecular presence in the medicine. This, finally, is the main argument of modern science against homeopathy. We might remember, however, that “science” has often been a ferocious enemy of what later it accepted as a matter of course, since it proceeds largely by hypothesis and experiment, and has in view that which in nature is quantifiable.

    The idea that quantum physics might be helpful in comprehending the viability of a “potentized” substance, is not entirely mistaken. See, for example, Wolfgang Smith’s “Quantum Enigma.” Smith is a world class mathematician and was the person who solved the mathematical difficulties involved in the re-entry of space craft. Also an expert in algebraic topology. Before we insist that the world is flat, or that science has discovered it all, or that reality is as one-dimensional as some “true believers” would have it, that “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

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  81. You say homeopathic medicines are FDA approved…? They are not regulated the same way. They are like vitamins in a sense, nutraceuticals. FDA can advise what to put on label and good manufacturing practices but usually this is not enforced.
    And to quote “Nowadays though, new OTC drugs are subjected to thorough testing and review by the FDA for both safety and effectiveness before they can hit the shelves, but oddly enough this requirement doesn’t apply to homeopathic drugs. These medications are, however, required to meet certain legal standards for strength, quality, purity, and packaging.

    **In 1988, the FDA began requiring all homeopathic medicines to be labeled as “homeopathic.” Their labels must also list the ingredients, dilutions, instructions for use, and what specific medical problems the medicine is intended to treat. In the FDA’s opinion, homeopathic medications contain little or no pharmacologically active ingredients, so there’s no real safety concern and that’s why the FDA isn’t as strict about the regulations.”

    http://www.ritecare.com/homeopathic/guide_general.asp#Are%20Homeopathic%20Medicines%20Tested%20by%20the%20FDA

  82. Sick? Not feeling well?
    Eat some vegetables.
    Still no luck?
    Try eating vegetables other than the pre-chopped kind in a plastic container you get from the grocery. You know, kale, collard, chard, spinach.
    Still no luck?
    Eat more than a couple measly cups of vegetables a day. Like 10. Add an organic, grassfed beef steak to that for dinner, and a salmon for lunch. Do that. Forever. Add seeds, nuts, berries, and you’re set.
    If you think think homeopathy will do a better job of curing an illness than the above diet, you’re daft beyond even arguing with.
    And don’t whine about superfoods being expensive; you put food INSIDE you, so it’s worth it. Plus, it’s a lot cheaper than diabetes or heart disease.

  83. Having read your comments and a few of the others I would like to say a small something.
    First, my email address says it all, I have nailed my colours to the mast.
    Second, the New Scietist published some stuff about alternative/complimentary therapies in 2000. The gentleman who wrote about homoeopathy wrote something along the lines of
    I am a scientist, it shouldn’t work, I don’t know how it works but my hay fever is much better.
    Third, Swiss insurers pay for homoeopathic treatment of Swiss nationals. They are concerned with cost, bottom line.
    It is quite remarkable that in Britain a publication called ‘What the doctors don’t tell you’ has disappeared from the shelves of places like my local supermarket, simple homoeopathic remedies have gone from Boots.
    Why is it such a threat? If it doesn’t work, you don’t have to use it. But why am I and people like me being prevented?
    Cathy
    PS please do not give my email out as I fear the internet troll effect of those who are most anti-homoeopathy.

  84. You’ve obviously never had a teething baby who was “miraculously” cured after receiving homeopathic teething tablets. I didn’t believe it either until I tried due to lack of other non-toxic, natural remedies (I don’t give my kids tylenol or orajel). It can’t be placebo effect, because a 6 month old child doesn’t know you’re giving them something to treat their pain. This didn’t just happen once, but consistently every time he had teething pain, though, admittedly, sometimes it worked better than others.

    I’m sure you “primal” and “paleo” people can relate to be called crazy and wacky and hearing all the naysaying and blah blah… But you need to remember at you stuck with it because of results and/or because you KNOW better… Just like I continue to eat organic produce because I KNOW how bad pesticides are, regardless of all the junk science from the MSM and mainstream doctors and of the fact that perhaps their effects are not immediately noticeable.

    Just as I am sure you guys don’t like the flack you receive, neither should you throw your own, based on the very “science” that tells us to eat PUFAs and “Healthy Whole Grains”.

    I, too, once believed that homeopathy and chiropractics were bunk… Not any more.