Monday, September 21, 2009

"We are all individuals!" - The Comedy of Homeopathy

Poking fun at homeopaths and those that follow the religion of homeopathy is an easy game: it's an 18th century quack medicine that requires laws of physics and chemistry to be binned in favour of a belief system based on anecdotes and a denial of evidence.

There is plenty to go at: the pills are nothing more than sugar and water, diluted to near infinity, the followers have an unwavering belief in the power of the magic pill and the theory of homeopathy is so topsy-turvy it requires a huge amount of hand-waving and circle-squaring to make any sense out of it.

Time and time again it has been shown to be no better than placebo, despite the homeopathic high priests trying to cure AIDS, malaria and other diseases, sometimes at the expense of proven medicines.

One of the huge paradoxes in the homeopathic theory is the need to offer the patient an individualised medicine - remember the Homepathic Mantra:
Homeopathy heals the person, not the dis-ease
and on the other hand, sell bottles of homepathic medicine for specific ailments.

The idea that the sugar pills need to be indivualised, but also can sold in a popular dilution for a specific ailment is one that I have yet to hear any homeopath explain coherently.

Take a look at the Alliance of Registered Homeopaths' website for instance:
Homeopathic medicines are chosen to treat the whole person, because homeopaths believe the mind and body operate as one, and you cannot treat one part of the body without affecting the whole
which is followed in the next paragraph by, and seemingly without a hint of cognitive dissonance,:
The onion - Allium cepa - can be used homeopathically to treat colds and hayfever where the main symptoms include runny eyes and nose.

Similarly, the Society of Homepaths' website gives the following mangled idea:
What can homeopathy treat?

Homeopathy treats the person, there is some evidence to suggest it can help a person manage the symptoms of acute fevers, sore throats and toothache, to chronic illnesses such as arthritis, eczema, asthma, anxiety and insomnia.
Note the modifiers "some evidence", "suggest", "help", "manage" and "symptoms" - even with these language modifiers in place, it's still stretching the truth.

The pinnacle of this confused comedy came last January, when Napiers Herb and Plant Remedies held a workshop called "Homeopathy for Families" workshop. The advert has since vanished but I blogged about it back in the day. The workshop cost £20, but delegates would receive
a complimentary bottle of the homeopathic remedy Arnica.
Imagine if Pfizer ran a similar scheme, giving away a bottle of Viagra to each delegate? It would be popular, sure, but wholly, wholly unethical, immoral, and illegal.

I made the MHRA aware of this - and was faced with another crazy dichotomy in the up-is-down world of homeopathy. MHRA decided that because the product isn't licensed as a medicine,
the restriction on the distribution of free samples therefore did not apply

Compare this with the Alliance of Homeopaths Website:
Homeopathy is one of the two most widely used forms of medicine in the world today
So it's a medicine but not registered as a medicine. Black is white.

There is a push from within the Church of Homeopathy to register some of these sugar pills under the EU Homeopathic Registration (MLX312) scheme.

This scheme allows specific homeopathic preparations to be licensed for sale for specific therapeutic indication - to a backdrop of "treat the person, not the disease".

After all, we are all individuals.



  1. Ah, but you forget the special case of the "genus epidemicus". And of course, the remedies maybe homeotoxic, rather than homeopathic.

  2. Quoted from the ARH: "The onion - Allium cepa - can be used homeopathically to treat colds and hayfever where the main symptoms include runny eyes and nose."

    Note how this example reinforces a popular misconception about homoeopathy - that the symptoms remedies are used to treat are those caused by the undiluted substance. In fact, 'provings' are almost always carried out using the diluted remedies, and usually at potencies high enough for there to be none of the substance present (Hahnemann recommended proving using 30C remedies).

  3. “’The great thing about homeopathy is that you can’t overdose on it…’ – well you could fucking drown.” Dara O'Briain

  4. in my opinion what is dangerous is to condemn or stand for something when you don't have any knowledge about it. Proven medicines?? Do you have any idea on how clinical trials work? Have you ever heard of side effects?
    of subjective effects of drugs?
    The mere fact that you compare Viagra with Arnica shows clearly that you don't have any idea on how proven medicines (how you call them) work, do you?
    Anyway, take what your doctor prescribes you, DON'T THINK, and don't worry, they have been proven!!!