Homeopathy gives you Aids

September 15th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in homeopathy, MMR, placebo | 48 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
September 15th, 2007

Okay now look: there’s nothing wrong with the idea of homeopaths giving out sugar pills. The placebo effect can be very powerful, because it’s not just about the pill, it’s about the cultural meaning of the treatment: so we know from research that four placebo sugar pills a day are more effective than two for eradicating gastric ulcers (and that’s not subjective, you measure ulcers by putting a camera into your stomach); we know that salt water injections are a more effective treatment for pain than sugar pills, not because salt water injections are medically active, but because injections are a more dramatic intervention; we know that green sugar pills are a more effective anxiety treatment than red ones, not because of any biomechanical effect of the dyes, but because of the cultural meanings of the colours green and red. We even know that packaging can be beneficial.

Similarly we know that sugar pills have no physical side effects. This is great, because there are a lot of people for whom there is little effective biomedical treatment: a lot of back pain, for example, or medically unexplained fatigue, most colds and flu, and so on. Going through a theatre of medical treatment, trying every pill in the book, will only elicit side effects, so a sugar pill might be a great remedy. In the great 19th century cholera epidemic of London, after all, survival rates at the homeopathic hospital were better than the medical hospitals, not because homeopaths could cure cholera, but because nobody could, and while ineffective medical treatments of the time like bloodletting carried risks, sugar pills were at least harmless.

Homeopaths would be fine, if they could just shut up about serious stuff, like Aids, malaria, and MMR.

This week I received a flier for a conference being organised by the Society of Homeopaths (“representing professional homeopaths”), the biggest professional organisation for homeopaths in the UK. “Join us at this one-day Symposium in London for a fascinating insight into the role of homeopathy in treating HIV/AIDS.”

It’s a pretty fascinating flier. “In searching for an effective remedy for treating the AIDS-epidemic in Africa, the UK-homeopath Peter Chappell discovered a method to design remedies fitting the totality of a disease. These remedies are now known as PC-remedies.” In case you’re wondering how he makes them, Peter explains on his own site how he “creates a holistic mirror energy/information set to the disease using a special process he does not yet disclose.”

He also sells energy wave patterns on iTunes. They sound like jazz – I am listening to Aids one right now – but this is simply the “carrier”, on which the healing “resonance” is “engrafted”. “Modern quantum physics is confirming resonance works on all levels of existence,” he says.

The Society’s conference materials are gushing. “He [their lecturer] observed that in just a few days or weeks patients become symptom free and able to return to their jobs and schools or to look after their children again. Harry believes that using the PC1 remedy, the AIDS epidemic can be called to a halt, and that homeopaths are the ones that can do it.” On his own site, Harry is even more explicit: “PC1 for HIV/AIDS works”. How well? “In all cases.”

Placeboes are great, but when their right to make stuff up is flattered too hard, people can get carried away, and homeopathy has a bad history in this regard. A Newsnight undercover survey caught out ten who were cheerfully recommending people to use ineffective homeopathic malaria prophylaxis when travelling to high risk areas, giving no sensible advice to accompany it (the Society of Homeopaths found no case to answer on conduct complaints arising from this). A published undercover survey, with a researcher posing as a mother asking for vaccine advice, polled 77 homeopaths: not one advised her to give MMR to her child, and a third actively advised against it.

Meanwhile a current Early Day Motion defending homeopathy and its NHS clinics has attracted 200 signatories, including players like Frank Dobson, Glenda Jackson, Simon Hughes, Diane Abbott, Lembit Opik, Ann Widdecombe, Malcolm Rifkind, and more. Making stuff up is the homeopath’s trade. Attacking medicine is their marketing device. It’s probably harmless, and arguably helpful, but only if you are absolutely certain that you can manage those two risks. I see no sign of critical self-appraisal within the profession.

References:

MMR research

www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/325/7364/597

www.dcscience.net/schmidt-ernst-vaccine-2003.pdf

The ridiculous flier

www.homeopathy-soh.org/for-homeopaths/documents/Aidsflyer.pdf

Is your MP on the Early Day Motion?

edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=33006

Listen to the healing waves

www.healingdownloads.com/free.php

www.healingdownloads.com/faqs.php

Newsnight malaria sting transcripts

www.badscience.net/?p=291

More on the cholera story

in this excellent book on John Snow

And for more on placebo

you can’t beat Moerman.


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48 Responses



  1. DeeTee said,

    September 15, 2007 at 1:20 am

    Perhaps the remedies just fill the HIV-shaped holes in their immunological energy, restoring it to full strength and preventing the onset of AIDS.

  2. Thomas Greenan said,

    September 15, 2007 at 1:20 am

    While looking for my MP on the site about the Early Day Motion I noticed that David Amess had signed the petition. The last time I heard him talking about drugs he said this:

    “You’ve heard what Bernard Manning said, ‘Cake’ is a bisturbile, cranabolic amphetamoid, which is a made up psychoactive chemical”.

    The evidence is here from about 4 minutes in (quite possibly NSFW by the way):
    uk.youtube.com/watch?v=g0GxUxKZdHk

    The country is in safe hands.

  3. gadgeezer said,

    September 15, 2007 at 1:22 am

    More recently even than cholera, some of Mrs G’s older relatives used homeopathy to treat their tuberculosis and recovered. Of course, there were no antibiotics for some of them and later on, some of those relatives developed an allergy to Streptomycin. In some cases, it rather seems as if they recovered because homeopathy left them alone rather than packing them off to isolation hospitals with wide-open windows and snow settling on their beds. Likewise, it spared them the rigours and dubious effectiveness of thoracoplasty which was the ‘treatment’ recommended to several of them and was so brutal and fraught with operative and post-operative complications that it was a recommendation of last resort.

    Homeopathy probably was better than some of the alternatives for quite some time albeit, leaving people to the ministrations of time would have had/did have the same effect.

  4. Robert Carnegie said,

    September 15, 2007 at 2:12 am

    I’m still not sure it’s a “current Early Day Motion”, being apparently dated 28th March this year, but I suppose you know, or know people who know, about these things.

  5. Robert Carnegie said,

    September 15, 2007 at 2:17 am

    Specifically, HIV causes AIDS, but use of some clever anti-viral drugs retards this process; and the sale of fake medicine discourages the use of proper anti-viral treatment. So, AIDS is caused by homeopathy – and of course by infection.

  6. HumphreyQ said,

    September 15, 2007 at 2:57 am

    Ben

    In regards of some of the benefits of alt-med with regards of making people feel better it occurs to me that I’ve attended a near perfect rebuttal. There’s a residential course run for people with Ankylosing Spondylitis at the Bath Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases. It consists of two weeks of intensive physiotherapy, lectures on the disease, and importantly allows fellow sufferers to share experiences. After I attended I knew that I wasn’t alone, I knew the latest news on anti-TNF drugs, had a chance to discuss issues with people who are experts in their field (a highly rated specialist doctor, a geneticist, some pharmacist, five dedicated physiotherapists etc.). I think it provides a terrific psychological boost for the attendees. We stayed in a communal house, with a shared kitchen/bathroom facilities in Trim Street next to the hospital. The accommodation was good, much like first year student accomodation but hygenic. We all took part in research questionnaires and donated blood for research also.

    It was on the NHS. If I remember correctly it costs a few grand a head and I think the benefits for some are immense. I believe they’ve even collected data to show it with things like the BASADI amd BASFI.

    People that say conventional medicine can’t be ‘holistic’ are talking nonsense. If you ever need examples of where conventional medicine has provided the positives of alt-med with the benefits of real science I’d recommend giving them a ring about the ‘AS course':

    www.rnhrd.nhs.uk/index_sub_menus/contact/contact_menu.htm

    Research:

    www.rnhrd.nhs.uk/index_sub_menus/contact/contact_menu.htm

    As is evident I rate the AS course highly and think it helped me cope with the psychological aspects of being ill occasionally.

  7. r_bray said,

    September 15, 2007 at 3:35 am

    Homeopathy disturbs me greatly. Not soley because of the quacks like the man you mentioned above, though that is part of it. But because I have had it work for me, and that disturbs my sense of what is right and proper! I like rationality, and scientific rigour, and things that are measured and “proper”.

    I am happy, however, to accept that it is likely to have worked through the placebo effect, despite my skepticism, and to keep a cautious mind on the matter for now.

  8. ellazimm said,

    September 15, 2007 at 5:06 am

    My god, these idiots are serious.

  9. le canard noir said,

    September 15, 2007 at 7:40 am

    I have put a written complaint into the SoH about Peter Chappell as he breaks the SoH rules about making claims to cure specific diseases in a big way. They all do it really, but PC really goes to town. He is a founder of SoH and a Fellow of the society. He even makes claims about cancer – which is also illegal.

    You have guessed it. Not a dickie bird back from SoH. It would be a shame to have one the main homeopaths being discussed at the AIDS symposium under investigation for breach of the law and SoH rules. Wouldn’t it?

  10. doris said,

    September 15, 2007 at 9:01 am

    PC remedies:has the political correctness virus infected homoeopathy?
    I’ll contact the friend whose work I mentioned in the previous homoeopathy debate to see what she has to say about the AIDS claims.

  11. tom1 said,

    September 15, 2007 at 10:35 am

    I thought the following link might go some way to explaining the reasoning behind the claim:

    www.cogreslab.co.uk/aids.asp

    Tom

  12. Dr Aust said,

    September 15, 2007 at 10:48 am

    That is sad about Ian Gibson. My MP (usually fairly sensible) is on there too, but to see Ian G there is especially depressing as he was a proper working scientist.

    I suspect the general enthusiasm for this motion among MPs is a combination of:

    -“political correctness”… it’s not PC to diss Alt Med as the public love it

    – not wanting to alienate the voters (see above)

    – and a misunderstanding of just how deluded the Alt Med quacks are (“what’s the harm, it helps people cope with chronic niggles and they only use it for stuff the mainstream can’t help with”) – note the precise wording of the Motion here.

    What they are missing is that neither the punters, nor the therapists, understand that “homeopathy helped with my back pain” is NOT a recommendation for trying to treat serious illness involving organic disease the same way. And that, with rare exceptions, the “therapists” actively and relentlessly promote this sort of misunderstanding.

    Think I will write to my MP and give him a piece of my mind.

  13. doris said,

    September 15, 2007 at 11:40 am

    I have just sampled the PC website:apparently,I can order 10 downloads(credits),for £41.
    These will provide resonances.
    Intrigued,I selected some of the FAQs;
    ‘can serious disease be treated by self-help?'( more or less verbatim).
    “resonances are reserved for use by healers…….with serious disease,individuated resonances are needed as part of a complete healing process and this beyond self-help”
    Presumably,only the affluent suckers will be able to benefit:poorer people will have to rely on the NHS.
    Incidentally,I’m having difficulties with badscience forum;could anyone help?
    I can’t get the login to allow me to proceed to post an entry.
    All advice/help gratefully received.

  14. Jut said,

    September 15, 2007 at 11:48 am

    in the homeopath thread on the forums there is a rather disturbing reply from my MP, defending his signing of the EDM.

  15. wurzeller said,

    September 15, 2007 at 11:58 am

    Been listening to the healing waves, trying to discern if there’s a tempo relation to the seriousness of the treated disease. Can only conclude that the jazz is the carrier-wave (hopefully copyright-free!) not the signal. My late-summer cold doesn’t seem to be improving, but maybe the aids and snakebite excerpts are contra-indications.

  16. le canard noir said,

    September 15, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    This begs the question. If Peter Chappell is not a homeopath, why are the Society of Homeopaths running a symposium on his methods?

    And this just needs another bigger question asking, ‘How do homeopaths decide who is right?’ For the sake of arguments, PC homeopathic remedies might be the way to go and classical Hahnemannian homeopathy is far inferior. How do they know which is which?

  17. Ben Goldacre said,

    September 15, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    same clinic in botswana that i wrote about in 2004

    www.badscience.net/?p=68

    back when flares were still in fashion and i had even bigger hair.

  18. BruceM said,

    September 15, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    Some of the MP3s are tagged as being by the Andy Panayi Quartet. I had a look at Andy Panayi’s website, and sadly it notes “due to illness, Andy has not been able to perform as much as he would like”.

    Presumably he’s not got trematodes though.

  19. apgaylard said,

    September 15, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    Interesting slant, if you go to the website for the The Maun Homeopathy Project (www.homeopathybotswana.com/index.htm) you can navigate to their claims. They don’t actually claim to treat HIV/AIDS, but claim to boost the immune system (see below). So the HIV/AIDS symposium claim to provide: “.. insight into the role of homeopathy in treating HIV/AIDS.” does not really describe what these people claim to be up to. In fact, looking at the end of the bio. for Hilary Fairclough, it says: “.. Botswana was the first country in Africa to provide free anti-retroviral drugs and the homeopaths work in a complementary way with this conventional medical approach to HIV and AIDS.”

    From their website:
    “What can Homeopathy do for People Living with HIV?

    HOMEOPATHY IS NOT A CURE FOR HIV: it can resolve conditions which are intrinsically reversible but not conditions which are beyond the healing potential of the body. So, in conditions such as cancer and AIDS it will help quality of life and symptom control, acting palliatively. Patients with HIV often seek homeopathic treatment for a variety of HIV- related symptoms including night sweats, fatigue, nausea and weight-loss.

    A randomised controlled trial has shown that individualised homeopathic remedies had positive effects on the immune system (Ref: Rastogi, Singh et al. Homeopathy in HIV infection: a trial report of double-blind placebo controlled study. British Homeopathy Journal 1999;88:49-57).

    An analysis of other trials into the effectiveness of homeopathy showed that clinical improvement was almost two and a half times more likely in those receiving homeopathic treatment than in those receiving a placebo (Ref: Linde, Clausius et al. Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? Lancet 1997; 350: 834-43.)

    Homeopathy Boosts the Immune System
    For those people who are HIV+ but who are not taking anti-retroviral drugs, homeopathy can treat many opportunistic infections and HIV related complaints such as herpes, diarrhoea, coughs, pains and skin eruptions. Homeopathy boosts the immune system so that people with HIV infection who have regular homeopathic treatment stay well longer.”

    I don’t think that the interpretation of the 1997 Linde paper is quite right though.

  20. Mojo said,

    September 15, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    “I don’t think that the interpretation of the 1997 Linde paper is quite right though.”

    What the 1997 paper concluded (according to the abstract on pubmed) was that while the results of the analysis were “not compatible with the hypothesis that the clinical effects of homeopathy are completely due to placebo”, there was “insufficient evidence from these studies that homeopathy is clearly efficacious for any single clinical condition”, and that more research was warranted “provided it is rigorous and systematic”.

    A re-analysis of the data used in the 1997 paper, involving 5 of the same authors as the 1997 paper, concluded that “in the study set investigated, there was clear evidence that studies with better methodological quality tended to yield less positive results.”

    See Linde et al, Impact of study quality on outcome in placebo-controlled trials of homeopathy, J Clin Epidemiol 1999 Jul;52(7):631-6.

  21. Gramlin said,

    September 15, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    The least he could have done is make those samples loop properly – how am I going to incorporate them into my mix now? ;)

  22. BSM said,

    September 16, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    I find the magic boxes promoted by homeopaths and their fellow-travellers fascinating.

    These things don’t construct themselves. The manufacturers presumably have some rationale for deciding what to solder to what when they sat down in their shed with a box of random electronic components bought at Maplin’s. I’d love to know what they think they’re doing.

    I think some honest answers to a few diect questions about such devices would be most illuminating. I have never received any though I have tried.

    e.g. www.remedydevices.com/voice.htm

    e.g. www.bio-resonance.com/elybra.htm

    and a new one!

    www.wds-global.com/products/ipod.aspx

    I find that e-mail to Ben, distancing one bunch of homs from the many others who use these machines, to be another example of the depressing doublethink and doublespeak that I find so prevalent when one engages with these people.

    Contrast that e-mail with the testomonial at the bottom of this page;

    www.wds-global.com/products/elybra.aspx

    “They are equal to, if not better than serial or conventionally made remedies. They seem much cleaner and more precise.”

    As ever, the question, “How the hell can you tell?” is left floating in the air.

    I agree with Ben insofar as mere sugar pills do no harm, but it’s the flexibility with the actualite that we get time and again from homeopathy’s apologists that sticks in my craw.

  23. BSM said,

    September 16, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    p.s. This;

    www.wds-global.com/products/elybra-howitworks.aspx

    doesn’t really count as an explanation of how one of those boxes works!!

  24. edd said,

    September 16, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    I wrote to my MP (Mike Hancock) about the EDM. He unfortunately has written back to say he won’t change his mind and that we could argue all day about it. I don’t doubt that we could if he stubbornly chooses to ignore the facts.

    Anyway, my reason for commenting is that I think this has larger implications. If our MPs are unable to reach the correct conclusions on the efficacy of homeopathy, how on earth can we expect them to reach the correct conclusion on more complicated issues, where the facts of the matter are more difficult for the untrained person to get to grips with? Global warming springs to mind for instance.

  25. BSM said,

    September 16, 2007 at 7:20 pm

    Being voted into power beyond their competence is one thing. Bowing to vested interests is another. But being proud of stubborn ignorance is the worst of the lot.

  26. warhelmet said,

    September 16, 2007 at 7:54 pm

    The EDM is somewhat misleading in suggesting that “NHS cuts” are threatening the future of homeopathic hospitals. Government spending on the NHS has increased at rate greater than inflation for years.

    I know that the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital is in trouble but that is because various london PCTs have cancelled their contracts rather than any cut in government funding of the NHS.

    It’s got more to do with the fact that the NHS is moving towards EBM, etc…

  27. Teek said,

    September 17, 2007 at 9:56 am

    surely there is a case for preventing homeopaths advocating such dangerous ideas? in the same was as it’s illegal to promote treatments for cancer in the absence of evidence that they work (as lecanardnoir pointed out above), surely we can have the law ammended to include treatments for other lethal conditions such as AIDS?

    i am truly amazed at the back-tracking arse-covering e-mail that Ben recieved from the SoH, along the lines of “well what PC is doing isn’t really homeopathy it’s different so don’t link us with his work btw would you like a free consultation” – what a load of nonsense!!

  28. Mashuna said,

    September 17, 2007 at 10:11 am

    I especially enjoyed the following sentence from the reply:

    “The cultural phenomenon of pill dependence and fetishism – of which
    homeopathy is one example – is a massive distraction from the true
    lifestyle, psychological and personal causes of a lot of everyday
    niggles and longer term health problems.”

    That’s right – the trouble with homeopathy (other than the obvious) is the focus on symptoms, while ignoring the underlying root cause of the problem. Holistic medicine? Pah!

  29. tomrees said,

    September 17, 2007 at 11:11 am

    Herewith the roll-call of UK parliamenary parties according to their propensity to believe in pseudo-science:

    Labour: 19% (68/353)
    Conservative: 44% (85/195)
    Lib-Dem: 60% (38/63)

    (although the numbers are skewed because many Labour members aren’t allowed to sign EDM – those with a govt post).

  30. tomrees said,

    September 17, 2007 at 11:39 am

    OK so it’s 32% of labour backbenchers.

    Thinking about it, labour MPs also would be less likely to sign for political reasons – the EDM implies that the govt is cutting NHS funding. This might also explain the enthusiasm of lib dems.

  31. wilsontown said,

    September 17, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    Just had a look at the website of the journal “Homeopathy”. They have a list of accepted articles. One of these articles goes by the title ‘Homeopathy in survivors of childhood sexual abuse’. The mind boggles, but the paper isn’t available yet, so can’t be absolutely certain that it’s total nonsense.

    intl.elsevierhealth.com/journals/homp/accepted.cfm

  32. martin_z said,

    September 17, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    “I’d be interested to obtain an MP3 from the quacky website, and then the original MP3, and run some analysis on them… I wouldn’t be overly surprised if there was little to no difference.”

    Well, of COURSE there won’t be any difference. They are homeopathic energy wave patterns, and the less of them there are, the more effective they are.

    (I’m sorry – I should really have come up with something more insightful and earnest for my first post.)

  33. DoctorDavid said,

    September 17, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    I’m glad to see that my own MP, Andrew Lansley, did not sign the Early Day Motion, particularly as he is the Shadow Secretary of State for Health.

  34. Robert Carnegie said,

    September 18, 2007 at 12:23 am

    I’m not qualified to find or criticise any research on the question, but I think that the total length of time a doctor spends with the patient depends on factors including how sick they are, and that’s going to be difficult to control for… I suppose you could randomly assign more time than apparently necessary and see whether it helped. The extra time might for instance be spent discussing diet and exercise… hmm, that’s going to make a difference too.

    Maybe the length of consultation makes a difference in the absence of evidence-based treatment.

  35. Ambrielle said,

    September 18, 2007 at 11:25 am

    Just a thought: All these homeopathy programmes in Africa to ‘treat’ AIDS. Are any of them receiving international aid? There is millions of pounds of money for HIV/AIDS in Africa from different countries and charities. I hope the quacks aren’t getting any of it. Any way we could find out?

  36. manigen said,

    September 18, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    “Just how bisturbile is it, compared with other cranabolic amphetamoids?”

    It’s lethal mate. Seriously, you’d be better off mainlining Biscuit.

  37. Stuu said,

    September 18, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    The reason why I was interested to do some analysis of the original vs. woo’d MP3s is because surely it would be fraudulent to sell something you claim to have processed without having actually done so. I mean, it’d be like selling people sugar pills made with solutions that never actually contained any solvent in the first place rather than going to the effort of diluting it out of existence.

  38. warhelmet said,

    September 18, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    In response to Robert’s comments, in my limited experience, there are various factors that influence the length of time that a GP will stretch your consultation to. Too many to go into here, but, in short:-

    You want extra time, you go private. Else be really interesting as a patient/symptom combo.

  39. Robert Carnegie said,

    September 18, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    True MP3s are likely to be binary-identical files, but it wouldn’t be hard to fix them so that they aren’t – just mixing in a little white noise would do it. The question is whether the quack has taken the trouble to do that and also whether it is worth proving the case. And with DRM it’s another ball game.

    Of course to you and me, if we are not homeopathic or PC believers, if the file contents are identical then it makes no difference where we downloaded it, but I daresay the faithful respect the ritual of downloading the data from the guru’s site and putting it as near to the root directory of their PC as possible – well, all right, I made that up, but you know what they’re like.

    Anyway, if caught out, he could just say, “Oh! So sorry! I do not understand computers well and I have given you the wrong file, the one without my special treatment!” And he would be forgiven.

  40. Maya said,

    September 19, 2007 at 10:30 am

    In response to Robert’s comment as well, the research on patient-doctor time was done, as far as I recall, on cancer in the presence of different evidence-based treatments (I presume you accept clinical trials by major drug companies as evidence-based treatment). But I guess it’s not very right to exemplify from memory without citing the original source. This research was discussed in the book “EQ”, and I recall it did cite one or more peer-reviewed papers on which it was based. But don’t have it to hand I’m afraid

  41. shpalman said,

    September 20, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    There’s an article, “Knowledge and Attitudes about HIV/AIDS among Homoeopathic Practitioners and Educators in India”: ecam.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/nem018v1

    It says that “few homeopathic physicians were aware that AIDS could damage the brain. In addition,

  42. Chi Masters said,

    September 24, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    I understand the scientific minds are threatened that the facts homeopathy places a certain importance in society and also those who love to mock alternative therapies, would also loves to spend million of dollars into eating something that produces side effects. Can anyone deny the facts that modern medicine cannot restore our health? Once taken,we might be taking it for life, and all modern medicine produces side effects?
    “It is a mistake to believe that a science consist in nothing but conclusively proved propositions and it is unjust to demand that it should . It is a demand only made by those who feel a craving for authority in some form and a need to replace the religious catechism by something else, even if it be a scientific one. Science in its catechism has but a few apodictic precepts; it consist mainly of statements which it has developed to varying degrees of probability. The capacity to be content with these approximations to certainty and the ability to carry on constructive work despite the lack of final confirmation are actually a mark of a scientific habit of the mind.”
    Please don’t mock something that you know nothing of or so little is your understanding.

  43. warhelmet said,

    September 24, 2007 at 7:52 pm

    Chi Masters,

    Does one need to “understand” something in order to be qualified to make a judgement?

  44. wilsontown said,

    September 25, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    Chi Masters,

    There’s no doubt that medicines can cause side effects. That’s because they contain chemicals that are biologically active. Homeopathic remedies don’t cause side effects, but that’s because they don’t work.
    Side effects are an inevitable consequence of using medicines that work.

  45. Robert Carnegie said,

    September 25, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    Of course, utterly pure H-two-oh is liable not to survive as such. Water always has something in it. Chlorine, I suppose, and other hygienic substances, in tap water; bacteria in bottled water, benzene if you’re unlucky. If the homeopathic stuff starts out as absolutely only water then it won’t stay that way.

    And so there could be side-effects.

  46. mst said,

    September 29, 2007 at 8:47 am

    “Homeopaths would be fine, if they could just shut up about serious stuff, like Aids, malaria, and MMR.”

    As an NHS health professional from a science background who has studied homeopathy in some depth, I could not agree more with this statement!!

    I find that homeopathy can have a valuable role in palliative care, the management of acute conditions and acute flares of chronic conditions in certain patients. But I would agree that homeopathy cannot and does not prevent nor treat infectious diseases. It *can* be a useful adjunct to conventional treatment in easing associated symptoms and/or adverse drug reactions in a complementary approach, not alternative.

    “Side effects are an inevitable consequence of using medicines that work.”

    Not so sure about this one though…the correct medicine at the correct dose should (usually) operate within the thresholds of efficacy and toxicity. Most medicines, when taken at the correct dose, work without causing side effects, so ‘inevitable’ might be a bit strong…?

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