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The Truth About Homeopathy - Dispelling The Myths That Surround It!
By Louise Mclean, Editor, Zeus Information Service
May 26, 2008
In this article, I would like to dispel a plethora of myths surrounding homeopathy which have been used to discredit this highly efficacious healing art and science. Homeopaths are given few opportunities in the media to defend their profession, so a lot of misconceptions abound. The medical profession in general presents a fierce and blinkered opposition, yet as Big Pharma is learning of all sorts of amazing cured cases, they are determined to stamp out competition via EU regulation.
Myth No. 1 – Homeopathic medicines cure nothing
Homeopathy works by stimulating the body’s OWN healing mechanisms, through like for like. A substance that would cause symptoms in a healthy person can be used to cure the same symptoms in a sick person by giving a minute, highly potentised dose of that substance acting as a catalystto jump start their own healing mechanisms. Everyone of us has our own natural innate healing powers. All that is needed is the correct stimulus to kick start it. In healthy people this may just be rest and good food but many people become 'stuck' in their physical, emotional or mental illness and cannot recover. Of course there are different levels of health and the choice of potency given should reflect that. Low potencies are given for very physically ill people and higher for those whose problems are emotional or of the mind. Homeopathy is very successful in treating emotional problems such as stress, anxiety and fears.
Myth No. 2 – Homeopathic medicines are just water
Homeopathic medicines are NOT made using only dilution. Dilution alone would do nothing whatsoever. Many homeopaths are getting tired of reading this highly inaccurate reporting in the media. All homeopathic medicines are made by a process of dilution and SUCCUSSION (potentisation through vigorous shaking - 100 shakes between each potency - i.e. between a 1c and a 2c, between a 2c and a 3c potency, between a 3c and a 4c, etc. etc.) Most homeopathic medicines can be bought in either 6c or 30c from Boots or from health shops. Higher potencies of 200c and 1m (1000c) can be obtained only from homeopathic pharmacies. Succussion is nowadays done by machines, originally by hand. Succussion brings out the formative intelligence of the substance and imprints it upon the 60% distilled water + 40% alcohol medium used to make homeopathic medicines - alcohol acting as a preservative.
Myth No. 3 – Homeopathic medicines are unscientific
Homeopathic medicines undergo a scientific 'Proving' where a control group of 50+ healthy volunteers ('Provers') are instructed to keep taking a remedy under trial until they develop symptoms which they must record in detail. Substances that have been rigorously tested include nearly everything on the Periodic Table - metals, minerals and gases as well as plants and even things like snake venom.
The Provers are given a bottle of a new remedy being tested in the 30c potency and must keep taking it until they develop symptoms, which must be carefully recorded and then submitted to a database. The Provers must be healthy and symptom-free to start with so that the symptoms they experience are new ones CAUSED by the remedy.
They must keep a careful daily note of what happens and not discuss it with any of the other Provers. Whatever symptoms the Provers all experienced in common become the black type symptoms of the remedy which are then added to the Materia Medica of homeopathic medicines and Homeopathic Repertory (encyclopedia of symptoms). Thus the curative indications of a remedy are obtained for clinical use.
Symptoms have also been obtained through historical records of accidental poisonings, such as Arsenic and Belladonna. For example, poisoning by Arsenic causes vomitting, diarrhoea, restlessness, anxiety and extreme chill. Therefore you might get a patient in this state (possibly after food poisoning) and Arsenicum in a homepathic tablet will quickly alleviate them.
There are more than 4,000+ homeopathic medicines including nearly everything on the periodic table. But of course all of the remedies tested have been diluted and succussed (potentised), so they are not toxic like modern drugs.
The Homeopathic Materia Medica and Repertory are extremely large books or divided into volumes. The Repertory is divided into sections in this order: Mind, Vertigo, Head, Eye, Vision, Ear, Hearing, Nose, Face, Mouth, Teeth, Throat, External Throat, Stomach, Abdomen, Rectum, Stool, Bladder, Kidney, Prostate Gland, Urethra, Urine, Male, Female, Larynx, Respiration, Cough, Expectoration, Chest, Back, Extremities, Sleep, Dreams, Chill, Fever, Perspiration, Skin, Generals. Obviously some sections are bigger than others!
In the various Repertories, remedies are listed alongside the full range of symptoms (rubrics) in abbreviated form - all information being systematically taken from Provings and clinical practice. Every human state of mind, emotions and body is listed. Symptoms that would mean nothing to a medical doctor can be looked up and the curative remedy found in these huge book. Homeopathy is a study of human nature, endlessly fascinating and how negative states of mind and emotions affect the physical body culminating in illness. Nowadays many homeopaths use computer software programmes which contain all this information.
Myth No. 4 – Homeopathic practitioners receive inadequate training
In fact all qualified homeopathic practitioners undergo a four year training course at accredited Colleges, which includes Anatomy and Physiology, as well as Pathology and Disease, Materia Medica, Homeopathic Philosophy and study of the Homeopathic Repertory. Yet medical doctors and nurses treat after much shorter homeopathy courses. To be really good, you need to study intensively for about 10 years. Homeopathy is a lifetime's work and you never stop learning.
Myth No. 5 - There are no studies that prove homeopathy works
In the past 24 years there have been more than 180 controlled, and 118 randomized, trials into homeopathy, which were analysed by four separate meta-analyses. In each case, the researchers concluded that the benefits of homeopathy went far beyond that which could be explained purely by the placebo effect. Another meta-analysis found that 65 of the 89 trials analysed had produced an effect way beyond placebo (source WDDTY www.wddty.co.uk)
A study of 6500 patients at the Bristol Homeopathic hospital was conducted showing that over 70% of patients reported complete cure or significant improvement of their symptoms.
A study on the properties of water was performed by Dr. Rustrum Roy. This paper provides an interdisciplinary base of information on the structure of liquid water.
The Structure Of Liquid Water; Novel Insights From Materials Research; Potential Relevance To Homeopathy
Rustum Roy1, W.A. Tiller2, Iris Bell3, M. R. Hoover4
Received: 2 August 2004 Revised: 6 September 2004 Accepted: 14
Homeopathy can never be tested properly through conventional trials because each prescription is individualised as every person is unique. Therefore 10 people with arthritis, for example, may all need a different homeopathic medicine. So it is far from ideal to follow the allopathic trial paradigm to test homeopathy. In orthodox medicine trials, all are given the same medicine to be tested. In homeopathy all may be given different medicines!
Anybody who has an understanding of the principles of homeopathy can be left in no doubt that we are dealing with a scientific therapeutic method in the best possible sense: it is based on observation, facts and phenomena and follows the rules of inductive logic that can be tested in daily practice. It is a comprehensive and comprehensible mode of therapy, which in some countries is first line treatment for the whole range of acute and chronic conditions. It has been proven abundantly that it is superior in the treatment of epidemic diseases to allopathy.
It is amazing how people, who like to see themselves on the side of unprejudiced evaluation, can be so blinkered. People pass judgment on homeopathy who have never bothered to study it. Like any science it takes time to learn (especially to learn it correctly) and years of practice to master but the rewards for patients, practitioners and the NHS purse are great. Before those who preach pure science come down on therapies like homeopathy too heavily, they should ask themselves how many of the accepted treatments within the NHS have a scientific evidence base?
With every homeopathic medicine we know exactly the substance it was made from, unlike most modern drugs where we have no clue of the ingredients. This is ironic too as ALL natural health products, whether vitamin, mineral or food supplement must clearly state on the label every single ingredient. When we go to the supermarket or health food shop, we hold up the packet or bottle and read what is in the product, yet people happily swallow prescription drugs with no idea whatsoever what they have taken! They could contain cyanide or any poison and the patient would be none the wiser. With the new class of genetically modified drugs, such as the one used in the Northwick Park drug trial in London, the dangers of a massive allergic reaction, such as the drug testers experienced, are even greater.
Those, who claim to be scientists, should have the ability to at least try to understand different paradigms. If not, they look more like people who have settled on a comfortable view of the world which might soon look very outmoded indeed. As the great musician and conductor Sir Yehudi Menhuin once said: 'Homeopathy is one of the few specialised areas in medicine, which carries no disadvantages but only advantages.'.
Regarding the Horizon programme on homeopathy, Prof. Madeleine Ennis was not involved in the Horizon test. The test was carried out by Wayne Turnbull at Guys hospital, London. It has been conceded that the Horizon test was not an exact replica of Ennis' successful trials. Many of his protocols were different. You can read at this link where he added in an ammonium chloride lysis step which would have ended up killing the very basophils that were such an integral part of the test. http://www.homeopathic.com/articles/view,55 Ennis' original test was replicated in 4 different labs in 4 different countries.
Dr. Peter Fisher's article in PubMed discusses the 'End of Homeopathy' editorial and meta-analysis published in the Lancet of 26th August 2005 and how nearly 100 successful studies that showed homeopathy worked were thrown out and only a few that were inconclusive were used. Dr. Fisher is the Queen's homeopathic physician and heads the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital. (The vitriolic editorial was caused by the World Health Organisation bringing out a draft report in 2005 which was favourable towards homeopathy!)
"The final analysis which concluded that ‘the clinical effects of homoeopathy are placebo effects’ was based on just eight clinical trials of homeopathy. The Lancet's press release did not mention this, instead giving the impression that the conclusions were based on all 110 trials." "One of the most serious criticisms is the complete lack of transparency: we have no idea which eight trials were included in the final, damning, analysis." "The literature references are not given, nor any information on the diagnoses, numbers of patients, etc., nor can these be deduced from the article. Prof. Egger has refused several requests to disclose the identity of the eight trials. This is not even a matter of scientific method, but of natural justice: the accused has the right to know the evidence against him."
“The Lancet meta-analysis in 2005 of homeopathic trials was said to be based upon 110 placebo-controlled clinical trials of homeopathy and 110 clinical trials of allopathy, which were said to be matched but were in fact reduced to 21 trials of homeopathy and 9 of conventional medicine and further reduced to 8 and 6 trials.”
Other Responses from the Homeopathic Community on the Lancet Article
George Vithoulkas' 'Science of Homeopathy' is still considered an excellent exposition of the science.
Myth No. 6 - Homeopathic hospitals are a waste of money
There are 5 homeopathic hospitals in the UK - in London, Liverpool, Tunbridge Wells, Bristol and Glasgow. They cost the NHS about £6 million a year. Compare that to the £100 billion for the total 2008 annual NHS budget!! These homeopathic hospitals SAVE money for the NHS as the Smallwood report commissioned by Prince Charles has demonstrated.
At one of the earliest debates on the NHS Act 1948 the Government pledged that homoeopathy would continue to be available on the health service as long as there were "patients wishing to receive it and doctors willing to provide it". Many people who depend upon it are alarmed at the possibility that Homeopathy may no longer be available on the NHS. Since the passing of the NHS Act in 1948, a provision has always been made for people to be treated at homeopathic hospitals in the UK and until PCTs began to stop referring patients, there had indeed been long waiting lists, some 6 months or more.
See this letter sent out to all Primary Care Trusts in 2006 signed by a group of professors hostile to homeopathy and putting pressure on PCTs not to refer patients to the 5 homeopathic hospitals in the UK. They wrote the letter on NHS headed paper!
Myth No. 7 – Cure with homeopathy is simply the Placebo Effect
When Prince Charles treats his farm animals at Highgrove with homeopathic medicines do they know that a remedy has been put in the water they drink? Farmers successfully use homeopathic medicines for their cows suffering from mastitis. Does a tiny baby know when their fever drops dramatically using Belladonna or Aconite, that they have been given a homeopathic medicine?! As anyone who has treated animals and babies with homoepathic medicines will tell you, homeopathy works even better on animals and babies than it does on adults! If proof were needed, this is it. Not placebo.
Perhaps the most striking research on homeopathy that goes some way to debunking the placebo argument is when homeopathic remedies are tested on live tissue in a petri dish or studies involving animals (mice in this case)
Myth No. 8 - Homeopathic medicines contain no molecules
Any remedy under a 12c or a 24x potency still contains the original molecules of the substance and this is known as Avogadro's number. These low potencies are most suitable for physical illness of long duration as well as to heal specific organs that are not functioning properly.
Myth No. 9 – ‘Anecdotal Evidence’ does not constitute scientific evidence!
Most medical, surgical procedures and drug usage are not backed by studies - www.homeopathicrevolution.com
The aristocratic patronage of homeopathy in the UK extending well into the 1940s and beyond can be easily demonstrated. In the Homeopathic Medical Directories there are lists of patrons of the dispensaries and hospitals. They read like an extract from Burke’s or Debrett’s.
(See A History of Homeopathy in Britain by Peter Morrell, Honorary Research Associate in the History of Medicine, Staffordshire University, UK.)
Homeopathy is practised nowadays in countries all over the world and is especially popular in France, South America and India where there are around 250,000 homeopathic doctors! In a recent Global TGI survey where people were asked whether they trust homeopathy the following percentages of people living in urban areas said Yes: 62% in India, 58% Brazil, 53% Saudi Arabia, Chile 49%, United Arab Emirates 49%, France 40%, South Africa 35%, Russia 28%, Germany 27%, Argentina 25%, Hungary 25%, USA 18%, UK 15%.
Copyright © Louise Mclean 2008