The Truth About “Homeopathic” Medicine

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Homeopathy -- effective, useless, or dangerous? (Photo: Marcos Zerene)

Homeopathy — effective, useless, or dangerous? (Photo: Marcos Zerene)

[Audio version]

[Text version]

I routinely use an arnica gel for minor muscular strains. In fact, it’s one of my “go to” treatments.

In 2010, however, I found myself swallowing Boiron Arnica Montana 30C pellets, an oral version that was the only option at the closest GNC. I started at five pellets, SIX times a day–TWICE the recommended dose. Risk of overdose? Not likely.

“30C,” which I looked up that evening, tells you all you need to know.

This consumable version of arnica, unlike the creams I’d used in the past, was a homeopathic remedy. Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician, pioneered the field of homeopathy in 1796, if the term “pioneer” can be applied to alternative “medicine” founded on concepts like mass dilution and beatings with horse-hair implements. From the Wikipedia entry for “homeopathic dilutions,” last I looked:

Homeopaths use a process called “dynamisation” or “potentisation” whereby a substance is diluted with alcohol or distilled water and then vigorously shaken by ten hard strikes against an elastic body in a process called “succussion”… Hahnemann believed that the process of succussion activated the vital energy of the diluted substance.

Riiiight.

Back to 30C. 30C indicates a 10-60  (10^(-60), or 10 to the negative 60th) dilution, the dilution most recommended by Hahnemann.

30C would require giving 2 billion doses per second to 6 billion people for 4 billion years to deliver a single molecule of the original material to any one person. Put another way, if I diluted one-third of a drop of liquid into all the water on earth, it would produce a remedy with a concentration of about 13C, more than twice the “strength” of our 30C arnica.

Most homeopathic remedies in liquid are indistinguishable from water and don’t contain a single molecule of active medicine. In systematic review after systematic review, these dilutive homeopathic remedies display no ability to heal beyond placebo.

I found this particularly bothersome. Bothersome because I appeared to heal faster using oral 30C arnica.

There are a few potential explanations…

OPTION #1 — HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES WORK AS ADVERTISED

The water actually retains some “essential property” of the original substance because of the beatings and shakings. I give this a probability of somewhere between zero and epsilon (where epsilon is almost zero). It violates the most basic laws of science and makes my head hurt.

NOTE: Some people use the term “homeopathic” interchangeably with “organic” or “herbal”; I am not addressing this misnomer nor the associated compounds. Some herbal, non-prescription medications have tremendous effects. I’m speaking only to the original use of the word “homeopathic” as related to dilutive treatments.

OPTION #2 — THE PLACEBO EFFECT

I didn’t realize it was a homeopathic remedy until after four or five doses, and I had been told it could reduce pain by up to 50% in 24 hours. Placebo is strong stuff. People can become intoxicated from alcohol placebos, and “placebo” knee surgeries for osteoarthritis, where incisions are made but nothing is repaired, can produce results that rival the real deal. This explanation gets my vote. Now, if I could just forget what I read on the label, I could repeat it next time.

OPTION #3 — REGRESSION TOWARD THE MEAN

Imagine you catch a cold or get the flu. It’s going to get worse and worse, then better and better until you are back to normal. The severity of symptoms, as is true with many injuries, will probably look something like a bell curve.

The bottom flat line, representing normalcy, is the mean. When are you most likely to try the quackiest shit you can get your hands on? That miracle duck extract Aunt Susie swears by? The crystals your roommate uses to open his heart chakra? Naturally, when your symptoms are the worst and nothing seems to help. This is the very top of the bell curve, at the peak of the roller coaster before you head back down. Naturally heading back down is regression toward the mean.

If you are a fallible human, as we all are, you might misattribute getting better to the duck extract, but it was just coincidental timing.

The body had healed itself, as could be predicted from the bell curve–like timeline of symptoms. Mistaking correlation for causation is very common, even among smart people.

In the world of “big data,” this mistake will become even more common, particularly if researchers seek to “let the data speak for themselves” rather than test hypotheses.

Spurious connections galore–that’s what the data will say, among other things.  Caveat emptor.

OPTION #4 — SOME UNEXPLAINED MECHANISM

‘Tis possible that there is some as-yet-unexplained mechanism through which homeopathy works. Some mechanism that science will eventually explain. Stranger things have happened.

And while we don’t need to know how something works if we observe it to work (which clinical trials have not, in this case)…

Until something even remotely plausible comes along, I’ll do my best to scratch my psora (an itch “miasm” that Hahnemann felt caused epilepsy, cancer, and deafness) with at least one molecule of active substance.

###

Do you agree or disagree? Do you have evidence to the contrary? Please share your thoughts in the comments by clicking here.

This is something that has bothered me for years, but I’m very open to being proven wrong.

For more material like this article, check out:
The 4-Hour Body
How to Keep Feces Out of Your Bloodstream (or Lose 10 Pounds in 14 Days)
Gout: The Missing Chapter and Explanation

Posted on: August 19, 2014.

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613 comments on “The Truth About “Homeopathic” Medicine

  1. I use homeopathic remedies and have wondered, too, if it was the placebo effect. But they work with animals, too. I can see that a dog might pick up its owners vibes and heal via placebo. But I had a chinchilla with a bad cut on its nose that would not heal. After several months and several vet visits, I took him to a homeopathic vet out of desperation. She prescribed a remedy (pills not ointment) and the cut cleared up immediately! Did it work as a placebo? I doubt it.This chinch was not smart. He’d pick up a raisin in each hand and become too paralyzed with indecision to eat either of them!

    Liked by 2 people

      • I agreed with Max that it depends on how the doctor was using the term “homeopathic.” Sadly, it’s a term that gets used in many different contexts, which causes confusion and makes it difficult to separate fact (or plausible meds) from fiction.

        Like

      • My homeopathic vets each have only used actual homeopathic meds when saying they were such.

        Tim: Nothing sad about it. Truth is I’ve had 3 homeopathic vets in two different states and I’ve never known it not to work on at least a few of my animals over the last 10 years. Also my daughter growing up.

        Homeopathic veterinarians are still DVM just with additional training.

        Like

      • My vet is Dr.Christina Chambreau, an internationally known homeopathic veterinarian, author of the Healthy Animal’s Journal, and founder of the Academy Of Veterinary Homeopathy. So when she tells me she’s giving me a homeopathic remedy, I believe her!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Great points Tim, while I have never prescribed homeopathics to animals I have seen it work on animals countless times. This is anecdotal, but does give rise to the fact that it’s NOT placebo. Animals have no idea what they are taking or what it can or should do.

      Remember research is important, evidence based medicine is the future, but we need to realize that research isnt everything and has its bias and limits. Vioxx, for example, had plenty of research and doctors backing it…then it killed more people than the Vietnam War. An unpopular fact, but a fact nonetheless.

      I give Homeopathics in my clinic like Arnica and Ruta Grav for pain and strain/sprains and they have outperformed Tylenol (a popular option for people with pain). This is anecdotal again but wouldn’t you consider safety a huge issue with NSAIDS. We know the science of the COX1-3 inhibitors but yet Tylenol kills 100,000 people a year according to the government not to mention what it does to your stomach lining, liver, and kidneys… Your analysis didn’t take into account safety of homeopathics. They are extremely safe and have similar clinical results as pharmaceuticals.

      I continue to give homeopathics occasionally in my clinic with great results. My opinion is option 4: Einstein proved E=MC2 which means everything is energy. That guy was one of the greatest scientific minds ever. For us to find all the mechanisms for homeopathy we have to look into the realm of quantum physics.

      Science does have an answer but it doesn’t lie in reductionist thinking where we hope to look under a microscope and find only one active ingredient (like EGCG in green tea) that must be the mechanism of action for said results. That doesn’t exist in homeopathic medicine. Its all energy. Its not for everyone, but to say it doesn’t work would be a bad misrepresentation and jumping on the band wagon of hating on something just cause it doesn’t fit inside your mental box of beliefs. Tim, as the 4 hour work week guy challenging American retirement beliefs…I feel like you can respect this.

      Nonetheless Love ya and everything you’ve given to your readers,
      Dr. CC

      Liked by 4 people

      • Homeopathics are safe because they don’t contain active ingredients. There really is no comparison to Tylenol, which has enough active ingredient that a big handful would kill most people.

        Like

      • Interesting argument…. although, in my opinion, the only potentially salient point is the assertion that homeopathy cures animals, which would discredit the placebo explanation. Rather than rely on anecdotes, why not turn to a reliable source? A 2006 paper that analyzed controlled studies on homeopathic treatments (on animals) found “the effectiveness of the homeopathic prevention or therapy of infections in veterinary medicine is not sufficiently supported by randomized and controlled trials”

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1475939/

        Okay, case closed there. For kicks, why not address the esoteric notion that homeopathic compounds contain a mysterious curative energy despite being diluted to essentially 0?

        It’s helpful to develop a rudimentary understanding of complex theories before hanging your hat on them. E=MC^2 does not describe quantum physics. Einstein’s famous equation shows mass/energy equivalence… and it’s hard to see where it applies to a substance diluted of all curative compound. Does homeopathy work through some mysterious quantum energy fluctuation? Quantum mechanics tells us that an elementary particle only has a certain probability of being in one place or another…in fact, according to quantum uncertainty, there is a minute probability that an electron from an atom in your body could be on the other side of the Milky Way! So…in the quantum world…I suppose there is an infinitesimally small probability that the ultra-diluted homeopathic solution contains a macroscopic level of cure. Hmm..

        As Tim elucidated, systematic studies have consistently shown that homeopathy DOES NOT work beyond a placebo effect. Thanks Tim for shining a light into this dark place of medicine.

        Regards,
        Brian Stanton

        Like

    • This consumable version of arnica, unlike the creams I’d used in the past, was a homeopathic remedy. Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician, pioneered the field of homeopathy in 1796, if the term “pioneer” can be applied to alternative “medicine” founded on concepts like mass dilution and beatings with horse-hair implements

      Like

    • I have seen it work on horses as well and yes they may pick up the owners vibe, but are not the smartest. I have used homeopathic remedies myself for colds and other ailments that don’t warrant a doctors visit with good results. I don’t necessary have the need to know how it works, as long as it works :) For the question if it truly was homeopathic, yes I am from Germany where this method of treatment seems to be more accepted.

      Like

      • How about screenwriter Craig Mazin? I only listen to two podcasts: yours and “Scriptnotes” (highly recommended). Craig is smart, insightful and wickedly funny, you guys would hit it off. Plus you could pick his brain re: your fledgling screenplay

        Like

      • Will you consider interviewing Dr. Patrick Flanagan? He’s a childhood prodigy modern day “Tesla” who learned the title “inventor of the year”. He’s now doing working on a neurophone version 3 campaign to get the retail price down for the public. The neurophone uses 40 khz frequency for brain balancing and accelerated learning amongst other things.

        Like

  2. Considering Homeopathic sessions are obscenely long (2+ hours) they utilize a variety of ways to “heal” you, but none are contained intrinsically within the homeopathic medicine. The session acts as therapy disguised as “understanding the root cause of your illness” and reduces stress built up alongside making better lifestyle choices. This alongside the “miracle” of taking drops of this homeopathic medicine allows patients to convince themselves they are being healed, and thus are in a better position to make choices that will impact them positively. Now, the fact remains that there is no “intrinsic” properties of this BS, but we mustn’t discount the fact the some individuals will benefit immensely from the reasons mentioned above, and that these individuals are rather “gullible” and thus are prone towards amplifying the placebo effect. Overall, there is value in this but not for reasons the common person is led to believe.

    Like

    • Totally agreed on most points. The “meds” are more symbolic, and often a small part of the session. The one comment I’d challenge is the note about people being gullible who are susceptible to such things. In many cases, I think the smartest, most educated people are the most easily tricked by well spoken charlatans with “Dr.” somewhere in the name.

      HOWEVER — I would point out that there are very reputable, very effective researchers and practitioners who are grouped under “alternative health” or medicine.

      There are some amazingly scientific and effective doctors outside of conventional treatments, but it confuses matters greatly that they are lumped under the label of “alternative medicine” when so much nonsense is.

      One bad apple spoils the whole damn bunch, as they say. Too bad.

      Tim

      Liked by 1 person

      • Look at the field of EEG neurofeedback. It has to be hands-down the most effective form of therapy for various psychological and physical disorders that still is routinely treated as witchcraft by established orthodoxy.

        Like

      • I completely agree with the fact that “alternative medicine” is a rather vague description considering the vast array with which it encompasses. I wholeheartedly see “medicine” that hasn’t been studied extensively under typical scrutiny immensely help in certain cases. As for traditional homeopathic medicine my original comment seems most likely. As data collection becomes open-sourced to a wider population we will begin to have a clearer understanding of “medicine” we only have anecdotal evidence as of now.

        Thanks for the reply

        Like

    • Another brick to the wall… I see 10 homeopathic sessions for animals twice a week in two hours… and I know personally ten physicians who once gave homeopathic session for hundreds in the same time… @ the effects I always see people complaining about something they cannot prove… I mean… they say is not scientific but on the other hand they DO NOT PROVE IT (evidence) not just ARGUMENTS !!

      Moreover it´s so funny how people who say this do not know even its “theory” & principles. The only thing they talk about is the Avogrado´s stuff.

      Entirely wrong position… which in my view goes more on for than against homeopathy.

      Alopathy medicine anyway is DECADENT. Has lost the battle as diseases (not to say the new ones -chronic & mental- are simply increasing-) and conventional medicine is doing NOTHING but prescribing…

      I can say that I have seen many people right now proving a NEW MEDICAL METHODS remedies and prevention techniques… much more effective than conventional medicine. Ironically… most of them are not with a medical degree in their hands. As has happened along history… many great discoveries, advances in Health were NOT because of a “drug” (i.e. pill) but hygiene, education, urbanization; or achieve by chemists, physics, mathematicians… just to mention some.

      Anyway an interesting Area “homeopathy” for a debate !! and a big drawback for politicians, Pharmaceutical Industries (including doctors) and many other with interests conflicts around this therapeutic method. 200 years since it was created and “modern” medicine has failed in discredit it (as I said with REAL EVIDENCE). Otherwise debate would not be a stuff anymore.

      Arguments are more probable to accelerate the drawbacks “modern conventional” medicine if suffering than favor it.

      Sometimes they say no evidence based medicine (EBM), no clinical trials (CT) (@ homeopathy) when they should say… EBM & CT have proved enough toxicity (cardiotoxicity, nephrotoxicity, neurotocixity, teratogenic effects), in our “conventional “drugs”…. when “pharmavigilance” (sorry don´t remember the proper term) has in many cases retired so many drugs WHEN they already caused DAMAGE in the patient. Something they KNEW before… but… well… so much to say @.

      hope is useful !

      Like

    • Please inform yourself better – once you understand more than you know why it can take up to 2 hours for a session. Also read Hahnemanns biography, that will certainly enlighten you a bit more…

      Like

      • It´s an example of the weekly routine @ animals hospital. Of course I know that a physical exam or anamnesis could take longer, and it has nothing to do with if you are homeopath or not… but professionalism and ethics. About Hahnemanns I´m quite okay… having his books and monthly workshops with colleagues and scientists interested in him and his doctrine. Enlighten me more and more is the only purpose. Discredit others without knowing anything about them… the last thing I will do.

        Like

  3. Great article. You’d be amazed at how popular homeopathy is in the UK. I just can’t believe how diluting something would make it more potent. More like diluting something will make it more profitable.

    Like

  4. Tim, I’m a big fan of these “in-between-isodes” – they are great for stimulating the mind when I need a break from GTD. Just shared this interesting one on Twitter – keep it up!

    Like

  5. Considering the systematic reviews, I’d bet on 2 and/or 3. I never knew that homeopathic ‘medicine’ is that strongly diluted! It’s interesting to think about how many people will read this, and for how many of them the placebo effect may no longer work because they learned something new about homeopathic medicine :-)

    Like

    • The dilution factor of homeopathic remedies has never been a secret. Tim, I have always resonated with your work and your writings, but I’m disappointed at how quickly you’ve come to deduce the assumed lack of merits of homeopathic medicine. Look at Galileo, Da Vinci, Plato, and countless others who were ahead of their time. Those who could not grasp their teachings, because there was nothing similar and common-place in their existence to compare it to, simply deduced that they were false. I would encourage you to did deeper in this quest for knowledge about this topic and you will also find why it makes sense, on a capitalistic level, that homeopathy’s reputation be continually tarnished with questionable data, research papers and general misinformation. I’ll give you a clue where to continue (should you choose to)… Vibration and resonance.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Vibration and resonance have been debunked a thousand times over. If there was anything to them then every drop of water would echo the thousands of compounds and elements they had passed over.
        Please produce a peer reviewed article that says anything positive about homeopathy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.” – Carl Sagan

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Why dont you test it out? Go a month on only the homeopathic version, then a month without any version of arnica, and then a month on the ointment and record your recovery rates. Keep your exercise program mostly the same. That seems like a better way to find out for yourself than guessing.
    I read a book about this a while back, dealing with alternative medicine in general. A big part was devoted to homeopathy: The Whole Truth: The Myth of Alternative Health by Rosalind Coward. [Moderator: link removed]

    Like

    • Because this would not be a blind study. If Tim knows that he is on one treatment or the other, any chemical effects will be mixed in with the psychological effects. Also, if you do this on a single person in a single order of medication, you don’t know what is happening over time. It may be that the second treatment appears more effective than the first, but in fact it was to do with the way the body adapts to exercise. Studies on yourself like this are a good idea, but one has to be so careful in drawing conclusions on a single sample, even if you do it over a prolonged period of time.

      I don’t know of any studies which have been done on animals comparing placebo to homeopathy (I shall bite my tongue on what I consider the difference between these two!), but I would be very interested to see this. It would be interesting to know if it is simply regression to the mean.

      Like

  7. Why dont you try it out as an experiment? Go one month on just the homeopathic pill, one month off all arnica and one month on the ointment and record your recovery rate while keeping your exercise mostly the same.

    I read a book about this called the whole truth, mostly dealing with alternative medicine like acupuncture and homeopathy. The author didnt reach a lot of conclusions though, since there are too little studies to back anything up.

    Like

    • The placebo affect can be so strong that even if you know that it’s a placebo it can work wonders.

      I take such a small amount of a particular medication that I know that it has no effect, yet it helps me, psychologically, enormously to have the act of taking it. I take this particular medicine for public speaking phobia and I take less than a tenth of the recommended amount but it absolutely cures me.

      We are so easily foolable that even when we know we are being fooled it can still work.

      Like

  8. It is indeed very important to see homeopathy and fytotherapy as two different things. Plant material etc. can have very powerful medicinal applications, based on the working of their chemicals (think of curcuma, willow bark, poppy etc.). That has nothing to do with a homeopathic ‘medicine’ that contains one molecule per swimming pool. Scientifically spoken, this is BS.

    But the placebo mechanism is indeed very powerful and personally I’m sure homeopathy is based on that. In itself a pretty unexplainable mechanism until now. I guess in the end this should be explainable in a biochemical and/or bioelectrical way too. The placebo mechanism seems not to be the same as ‘a strong mind’, but more something of a conviction. A paradigm that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Like

  9. I don’t know how homoeopathic remedies are prepared. But unless they’re prepared using pure H2O in a complete vacuum… Even then the remedy needs some kind of carrier – capsule etc. The possibilities of some other molecule at 10 to the negative 60th contaminating the solution seems too great. Placebo wins it for me.

    Like

  10. Great article :-) I’m a little less balanced in my view though, more of the opinion that anyone pedaling homeopathic remedies should be burned at the stake. Fair enough, it might be useful as a placebo, but I don’t think placebos should be so expensive. And when they claim they can treat serious diseases it’s just dangerous… It’s false advertising pure and simple!

    Love the example of 2 billion doses. The one I heard was that if every molecule in the universe was water and only one was an active compound, it still wouldn’t be diluted to the extent that 30C claims to be. It’s an affront to maths as well as to health!

    Like

  11. Tim I’m making an effort to respond primarily because you are so influential and countless people take your word as gospel. I admire your work and life stance however have issues with your views here. I wrote a long list of responses on paper reiterated now- nothing personally just supportive feedback.
    You advocate using critical thinking and being a skeptic – the true tradition of skepticism is saying ‘I don’t know’ not – ‘ i don’t believe’ – AKA debunking which is not witholding judgement and not real skepticism. The latter is prevalent the former rarely exists. The title of your piece claims the ‘truth’ – misleading because a hypothesis follows, yet Homeopathy has quotes around it implying it is erroneous terminology. Bit disapointed by your mocking ‘riiiiiight’ response to the methodolgy yet still claiming an open mind. Just because we don’t understand something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Science also has the strange arrogance of implying that, if it can’t prove something, or if something falls outside its specific laws, then it doesn’t exist. I can’t ‘convince’ you that homeopathy works. However millions of people all around the world enjoy its healing benefits over hundreds of years. Wouldn’t Big Pharma do everything it possibly could to oppose it and run misleading ‘official’ trials? Run every possible smear campaign? Unlike big pharma homeopathy is able to cure (not merely treat) emotional trauma also. Doctors are officially, statistically the leading cause of mortality! Homeopathy has not one mortality. Your 4th point Tim states ‘until something even remotely plausible has come along’ (RE how or why it works). Well it already has. It just requires more studious reading than Wikipedia – the foundation texts describe the stimulation of the bodies vital force as to the action of the remedy.. It’s a different paradigm. It’s why you can’t overdose like aspirin. The current medical model is very new and not the only one. There are other orientations. Current technological developments aren’t either the most advanced we’ve ever had, or the most infallable – necessarily. More articulate homeopaths and academics have answered all of the queries you have raised better than I can – you may really benefit by doing further investigation. You are the champion of rejecting conservative approaches and making up your own mind – i encourage you to apply your very open mind to homeopathy – no bias just Zen. See where it takes you. Thanks again. I write on phone so forgive grammar/typos xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

    • One can claim to have an open mind and yet still dismiss concepts that are obviously false. The are dozens of yogis in India that claim to be able to levitate but we dismiss their claims because they contradict the laws of physics. Likewise there are solid grounds to dismiss homeopathy because there is no scientific reason why plain water with no active ingredient would be of any use, other than for hydration.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Rachel, no one here takes his word as gospel truth. We are thinking intelligent people who are able to critically evaluate a topic based on evidence and logic. I think if you applied both to the article you will arrive at the same conclusion as he did.

        Like

      • In other words “it can’t possibly work because it does not work the way I want it to work.”.

        If it is effective, then it is our laws of physics that need revising. It is highly unscientific to make assumptions about whether a phenomena *could* be real based on pre-existing, unrelated observations. A scientific approach calls for observation first, regardless of pre-existing knowledge. This is what an open mind would do. This is what *actual* scepticism would call for, as distinct for pseudo-scepticism, that being at the root of your argument.

        I am not arguing for Homoeopathy.

        Like

    • I consider myself an skeptic, but as you mentioned instead of “I don’t believe” I’ll say “I don’t know” and ask you, if you would be so kind, to share with me anything that would help me understand the science behind Homeopathy. Is there any talk or debate on Youtube featuring the articulate and academic homeopaths that you could direct me to? My mother is adamant in continuing her homeopathic treatment, everything I could learn to have better peace of mind would be really helpful.

      I know this could be confused as an attempt at sarcasm, but it’s not. I’m truly interested in learning what’s behind homeopathy. I think the main problem is homeopaths don’t seem to care to explain how it works beyond the simple dilution and woo woo explanations, they don’t go deep enough.

      Like

    • Rachel – The misinformation in your comment is so rampant, I hardly know where to start. Your attack on science and big pharma is typical of those that know little yet speak a lot. Science tries more than anything to disprove a hypothesis instaead of rubber stamping. I will tell you that your “millions all over the world enjoy the healing benefits” is a ridiculous statement that cannot be backed by any type of studies including those of homeopathy! Here ids a fact that might be hard for your to swallow: WATER DOES NOT HAVE A MEMORY! And if homeopathy had actual benefits, “big pharma” would be all over it! They are in the business to make money! If they have a drug that cures they stand to make millions! So your conspiracy theory attitude lack any evidence. Yes science is based upon evidence!!! You make statements that cannot be supported by any evidence what so ever. This might come as a shock; but testimony is NOT evidence!

      Like

      • …actually, big pharma would not have any interest in Homoeopathy as natural compounds cannot be patented. This is not a conspiracy theory. This is good business strategy.

        Big pharma is primarily interested in synthetic compounds that can be patented as this guarantees maximum, exclusive profit.

        Research Stevia for one (of many) examples of pharma shutting down a natural compound in favour of synthetic (and provably toxic) substances, i.e artificial sweeteners.

        BTW, your shouty-caps claim that water does not have a memory is interesting. The idea that it may have a memory has been put forward as a possible explanation for observed effects. In other words, it is a hypothesis. Arguing either for or against it, with seeming gusto, makes your comment *appear* emotionally driven and without reasoned analysis. I am not claiming that this is true, just that it appears that way.

        Liked by 2 people

  12. Nothing but placebo!

    But with your knowledge of so many different fields, I think you know that already Tim, but don`t want to angry many of your readers (would be brave if you talk to medical experts, look at all the meta studies and write a follow-up to this piece).

    It can`t work (and according to mountains of studies also doesn`t) or would otherwise violate too many different fields (physics, chemistry, biology). Especially the often mentioned “water has memory” is absolut bullshit.

    Also, if just one of these thousands of homeopathic “remedies” works, how about picking up your 1 million dollars here: http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/jref-news/1208-feb5video.html . This is a big PR chance for the huge Homeopathy industry.

    And if anyone doubts how big this industry is, Boiron made 821 mio $ in 2013.

    Just one double-blind test to prove that at least ONE of the thousands of snake oil products works.

    And the quotation marks in the headline should go on the word “Medicine”, not “Homeopathic”.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m going to go with placebo effect. And no thanks to homeopathic remedies masquerading as science. If it’s going to be beads and rattles, I want the whole enchilada — incense, liquor spitting, dancing, trance work, all of it — inside it’s cultural framework and in all its glory.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Ps a few extra thoughts Tim and friends
    In 4 Hour Body theres a very, very very good (exceptional) article about fraudulent drug trials written by an associate of yours. Anyone even vaguely interested in this subject should read it immediately. Why would homeopathic studies not be flawed in the opposite direction? Who is funding them et alia? It’s fair to say as a rule Big Pharma hath not our best interests at heart. Corruption and greed is in their mission statement , we can agree upon that. Yes I DO have a bias but it is hard to see the internationalbody of homeopathic associations as having much agenda at all beyond wanting people to be well, and wanting the right to practice freely without politico-corporate oppression. Whats the first line of the Hippocratic Oath? Unsure if its true but aparently doctors don’t have to swear by that particular first statement anymore. However, Homeopaths wholeheartedly live by it. (You can look it up! Hint: its about ‘harm’ :-)
    All the people that say homeopathy doesn’t work – have you even tried it? Seriously, actually met with a qualified professional for a consultation? The people that say it works, have.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Think of the millions of dollars wasted on homeopathy that could go towards real medicine and medical science.
      You don’t need to try homeopathy to know it’s bogus woo woo. The fact that it’s practitioners believe in it is no more relevant than witchdoctors believing in their remedies.

      Like

      • Millions of dollars?!
        You do realize a remedy costs about $7.00 for 80 pills and you might use 10 pills MAX for each incident? 10 is on the high side.

        Liked by 2 people

  15. Hi Tim,

    As a physician, I’m confronted with homeopathy all the time and I don’t think that they really work in a strict scientific sense. But here’s why I think that they are valuable anyway:

    #1 – If you can take advantage of the placebo effect like homeopathy does AND if your method has virtually no side effects, you basically have an effective treatment. I don’t know a lot of methods that elicit the placebo effect like homeopathy.

    Here’s a great 2-minute video with some startling facts about the placebo effect: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfRVCaA5o18

    #2 – Regression toward the mean, which is an essential component of the placebo circle: you experience symptoms – you take and believe in homeopathy – placeobo effect & regression toward the mean set in – symptoms get better – your belief is reinforced – next time the placebo effect will be even stronger – etc.

    #3 – One should always be open to the possibility that a certain treatment does have effects that we don’t yet understand. Even William Osler, one of the greatest physicians of all times and many of his acclaimed colleagues were skeptical of the germ-theory back in the days because they could not imagine that there were little organisms inside your body causing disease.

    One of my teachers always said “He who heals is right”. If someone tells you that homeophathy works for them – they are probably correct.

    best Franz

    PS: Will there be an OTK 2.0 any time soon? Would love to hook up with this amazing crowd again!

    Liked by 7 people

    • The problem with placebos is they don’t work on everybody. Don’t forget there is a placebo effect with real medications also.

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    • Thank you Dr. Wiesbauer – I love your thoughtful and practical response and that saying: “He who heals is right” – a stable in European Biological Medicine and one I find to be an important reminder.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Another problem with homeopathy is that it ain’t cheap – people spend a ton of money to get a placebo. Would be much better if placebo treatments were cheap, e.g. sugar pills at $0.02 per capsule. It’s the quack industry that makes millions of gullible patients that makes this unethical.

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      • Are you serious? Homeopathy is expensive?? Homeopathic remedies are $8-10 dollars a bottle. Go to your local Whole Foods and you’ll see this is the case. The bottle lasts you for at least 6-8 weeks, if not more. If you ask me, $10 is much cheaper than a majority of pharmaceutical prescriptions that you have to use insurance to get your copay down to $10 or $20 bucks. Get your facts straight.

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      • The bottle may be $10 but the appointment with the homeopathic healer isn’t. If it’s all the same then you shouldn’t have the choose between umpteen different diluted substances. Sugar pills all around. Point is, placebo effect is stronger when the patient actually believes in the remedy, hence the need for long and expensive appointments, a huge selection of remedies, and the veneer of serious, research-based medicine. If someone just handed you a sugar pill and said: “take this, I don’t care whether you have joint ache or a sore throat, it works on everything” then you’d be more sceptical and the placebo effect would be weaker. Makes sense, but still unethical to fool people and take their money in my opinion.

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    • I’d like you to discuss this with some homeopathic veterinary medical doctors. My personal experiences have been great numerous times and saved me a lot of money. I wonder if you could gain any insight how it might be working on animals if this were the case that it is simply a matter of placebo effect. Interesting either way.

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    • Dr. Franz – That is a sad statement you offered. Ripping people off with a sugar pill that cost a lot of money is inexcusable. For you as a physician to try and justify this charade is nothing short of disgusting. To offer someone false hope and a temporary psychological boost is disgusting! Especially since the credulous will pay almost anything for the quick “cure”! You sir are part of the problem with this ignorant “placebo” effect as justification for quackery. This billion dollar snake oil business that does nothing but lighten people’s wallets!

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  16. I have found in Australia an explosion of Naturopath and Homeopath clinics popping up everywhere, very disconcerting. Even worse are all the Applied Kinesiology clinics.
    Check out James Randi’s take on Homeopathy on Youtube, he debunks beautifully.

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  17. Theres more to the case, here’s just a few hints where to begin looking for a scientific explanation.

    Its a combination of #2 and #3, but also the “law of SMALL numbers” (opposed to the well known law of big numbers) , and the “Strong Law of Small Numbers” have an effect. #3 explains some of the results in your statistics, but in the first place you don’t have enough data to gather any significant statistics.

    The rest is psychology, a bit of the “hot hand fallacy” and a bit of math: In your example if you have a cold and ask 10 people about their magic weapon and 2 of them say “use xy” and xy works – you are another “spreader of the word of xy” although and because the other 8 opinions are cut from the decision tree.

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  18. Tim, I find it interesting that you can be so sure #1 (HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES WORK AS ADVERTISED) is false and still allow for #4 (SOME UNEXPLAINED MECHANISM) to be possible.

    Science has denied the existence of many things unseen (bacteria, x-rays, solar orbits) until we came upon a scientific way of measuring them.

    Do you limit what you learn in your meditation practice to what science says is possible? I hope not.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Jeff Hicks ; “I choose not to rely on science for proof that something does not exist.”
        On what do you rely then? Without any standard to measure, you are bound to believe anything that you are told.

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      • I think what Jeff is saying that he sees science ad an additive process, where things can be inductically proven, but not falsified.

        There are plenty of philosophy of science frameworks to build a case for it.

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    • It was science, that helped us find out that bacteria existed – contrary to the mumbojumbo side, which claimed illness came from things like “the evil eye”, witches, making the gods of the forrest angry,…

      Science also gave us all the other advances you claim it denied.

      And why is that? Easy – because science just works! It`s by far the best way to make sense of reality and if a method works and passes tests/peer reviews,… – then it`s added to science!

      Of course science was sometimes wrong in the past. But to say that just because of some errors in the past, any non-scientist`s opinion is just as good as the experts in the field, is plain wrong.

      Especially with such a bogus “medical” thing like homeopathy where there is not even one double-blind study of the thousands of remedies, which proofs, that it works. None.

      But rich pharma businesses with no F&E budget, huge marketing machines to convince lay people of the magical power of water with memory (that water of course only “remembers” the good stuff it was in contact with and forgets all the poo).

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      • Let me rephrase your ‘science was sometimes wrong’ into ‘science was almost always wrong/incomplete’.

        The point of scientific progress is that you find out your previous assumptions were false, or that there is more to them than you previously thought.

        Example:

        In a huge double blind, perfectly constructed trial in 2001 medicine X was found to be only 1% more effective than placebo for leukemia. Conclusion: let’s not put it on the market, since it doesn’t work.

        Fast forward to 2014. We do the study again, but our scientific paradigm has changed. We now know personalised medicine based on genetics. We find that of the 1% of people that responded 99% have gene group Y. Conclusion: medicine X is great! So long as given to people with gene group Y it will cause a 99% survival rate.

        Crux of the story:

        In 2001 there was NO framework to even conceive that a trail with 1% higher survival rates than placebo would yield anything useful.

        Am I saying anything about Homeopathy? Nope. I’m just saying option #4 is not stupid.

        Liked by 2 people

  19. Tim,
    Interesting phenomena. I feel like I’m frequently asking the same questions with a lot of the herbal remedies and essential oils that my wife has bought into. She constantly falls back to the argument that these don’t receive enough clinical funding, aren’t proprietary/profitable, etc. Any thoughts on which are worth their weight and which are BS?
    Tyler

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    • Tyler, if you get anywhere on this I’m all ears. Wife has bought into essential oils and I’m interested in knowing more. Sure sounds like a lot of Options 2 and 3 above to me in most scenarios.

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  20. Loving the podcasts! Just an observation about this one: you talk much faster in this one than you do in others, and some of your jokes are quite obscure (e.g. “epsilon”, which I remember from calculus). I suspect that the only people smart enough to follow this podcast are the ones who aren’t likely to fall for homeopathy in the first place, i.e., I think you’re in danger of falling into the Richard Dawkins trap of preaching to the converted. Ask yourself this: if you did believe in homeopathy, what would someone have to say to convince you of its fallacy? And how would they have to say it in order for them not to make you defensive?

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  21. Not sure I understand the lead-in here (though I understand it’s an anecdote vs. the purpose of the story). I’ve used arnica gel as well in place of things like IcyHot. It seems like you buy that the gel works (I agree) but the oral supplement seems ridiculous because of the irrational 30C concept (I also agree)?

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  22. Hi tim! I think it’s placebo effect. There some good videos about the truth of homeopathy by the Amazing Randi in this one he explains it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWE1tH93G9U and theres even a full lenght BBC horizon documentary where some Doctors try to prove the difference between water and a homeopatic remedie to win the 1,000,000 dollar prize of the James Randi Foundation.

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  23. Tim I’m making an effort to respond primarily because you are so influential and countless people take your word as gospel. I admire your work and life stance however have issues with your views here. I wrote a long list of responses on paper reiterated now- nothing personal just supportive feedback.
    You advocate using critical thinking and being a skeptic – the true tradition of skepticism is saying ‘I don’t know’ not – ‘ i don’t believe’ – AKA debunking which is not witholding judgement and not real skepticism. The latter is prevalent the former rarely exists. The title of your piece claims the ‘truth’ – misleading because a hypothesis follows, yet Homeopathy has quotes around it implying it is erroneous terminology. Bit disapointed by your mocking ‘riiiiiight’ response to the methodolgy yet still claiming an open mind. Just because we don’t understand something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Science also has the strange arrogance of implying that, if it can’t prove something, or if something falls outside its specific laws, then it doesn’t exist. I can’t ‘convince’ you that homeopathy works. However millions of people all around the world enjoy its healing benefits over hundreds of years. Wouldn’t Big Pharma do everything it possibly could to oppose it and run misleading ‘official’ trials? Run every possible smear campaign? Unlike big pharma homeopathy is able to cure (not merely treat) emotional trauma also. Doctors are officially, statistically the leading cause of mortality! Homeopathy has not one mortality. Your 4th point Tim states ‘until something even remotely plausible has come along’ (RE how or why it works). Well it already has. It just requires more studious reading than Wikipedia – the foundation texts describe the stimulation of the bodies vital force as to the action of the remedy.. It’s a different paradigm. It’s why you can’t overdose like aspirin. The current medical model is very new and not the only one. There are other orientations. Current technological developments aren’t either the most advanced we’ve ever had, or the most infallable – necessarily. More articulate homeopaths and academics have answered all of the queries you have raised better than I can – you may really benefit by doing further investigation. You are the champion of rejecting conservative approaches and making up your own mind – i encourage you to apply your very open mind to homeopathy – no bias just Zen. See where it takes you. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ultimately the point is that you have to choose a way of measuring what is true or not true. ‘Belief’ is a very dangerous alternative; it decapitates journalists in the ME to mention just one thing… And leads people in all kinds of strange and potentially dangerous behaviour. Unless you believe in ‘the memory of water’ for example, it is not intelligent to presume that one molecule (!) per swimmingpool of water is going to cure you. If it nevertheless does cure you, it IS intelligent to presume that it is the placebo mechanism.

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    • The problem here is the wrong assumption about cause and effect.

      Just one example it has been shown treatment for depression in this way was effective. But the cause was most probably not the magic water, but the exposure to more sunlight and a friendly mind to talk to. After taking these effects into account, the additional benefits from the treatment summed up to zero.

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  24. I’m taking a quick shot at option #1 Maca Pure Herbs Liquid Extract as an example.

    – maca = cruciferous vegetable

    – liquid extraction = “liquid extraction also known as solvent extraction and partitioning, is a method to separate compounds based on their relative solubilities in two different immiscible liquids, usually water and an organic solvent. It is an extraction of a substance from one liquid into another liquid phase.” (wiki)

    – chemical compound = glucosinolates (aka p-methoxybenzyl isothiocyantate)

    – Glucosinolates “constitute a natural class of organic compounds that contain sulfur and nitrogen and are derived from glucose and an amino acid. They are water-soluble anions..” (wiki)

    – enzyme reaction

    Not everything is absolute, depends on the homeopathic source.

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    • That’s not homeopathic but fytotherapeutic. Btw, glucosinolates is a common substance found in broccoli, caulifower, brussels sprouts etc. I would say: buy yourself a slowjuicer ;-)

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    • That is not an example of homeopathic. You are talking about a botanical compound where the glucosinolates are a constituent or main active ingredient of the herb.

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  25. Hi Tim,

    Timely post as usual. So, you’ve experimented with a lot of drugs. As you said in 4HB, “A drug is a drug is a drug.” Over the counter “supplements” can be just as effective (or risky) as prescription drugs.

    I’ve been experimenting with some legal nootropics and other over the counter supplements. For example, I recently tried N acetyl cysteine to treat my compulsive nail biting. (My results weren’t amazing.) Of course I want to be smart and weigh the risks/benefits before trying any new drug. The problem is knowing where to start. After all, you can’t believe everything you read online.

    I won’t ask you for advice on any specific drugs. I know you’re not a doctor, and you don’t play one on the internet. What I will ask is a more general question. I know you’re big on processes/checklists, and that you don’t take health decisions lightly.

    So my question is this: What process do you go through to decide if you want to use a particular drug?

    Many thanks,
    Eric

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  26. PS theres an exceptional article in 4HB.book by one of Tims associates about the fraud of drug trials and how easy they are to rig. And how, the question toask, is ‘ who funds the trial?’ Why wouldn’t studies of homeopathy be routinely rigged against it? We know for a fact Big pharma hath not our best interests at heart
    corruption and greed are encoded into its robocop dna. While , yes, i am biased, its hard to imagine the international associations of homeopathy having any agenda except to help people get well – and the right to practice freely without the politico-corporate bodies trying to shut them down – because its cheap and it works. The first line of the Hippocratic Oath is ‘ First, do no harm’. Homeopaths luveby this. Whereas doctors break it every single appointment. The people saying homeopathy doesn’t work – have you actually had a consult with a professional homeopath? Or have you just ‘decided’. The people that say it works, know becausethey tried it first. By the way seeing a professional homeopath is light years removed from buying arnica in a health food store. Love to you from latvia xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many pro-homepath arguments go against the evil “Big Pharma”.

      This is wrong on at least 2 Levels:
      1. Homepathy is also Big Pharma (e.g. Homeopathy Giant Boiron made over $820 million last year)
      2. If “regular” Big Pharma is so greedy, it would be the most logical choice for them to sell Homeopathy. No long trial periods, no ultra expensive research, no risk against lawsuits, no product costs since in high potency it`s just water, .. It`s all profit!

      Yes the big pharma companies did many bad things in the past and almost certainly do a lot at the moment, but that doesn`t make this pseudo-science “drug” in any way effective.

      Like I wrote above: There is Randi`s 1 million dollar challenge, if someone can proof, that their homeopathic “medicine” works – any product against any illness – and there are no takers!

      Homeopathy is one of the biggest scams of the last and also the current century.

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    • No agenda in pushing homeopathy but helping people get well? Really? How does money sound for an agenda — money drives every business in the world.

      Do no harm – you’re talking about water or placebo pills. You can, however, harm someone by recommending that they not go see a doctor to get treatment for a serious illness.

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  27. Consider this: if you could isolate one molecule of something really powerful, such as cyanide, and unknowingly ingested just that one molecule what effect do you suppose that would have on you? You’d obviously never notice it, as a single molecule would kill a single cell–one of the *billions* that will die within your body today. And if a single molecule of something as toxic as cyanide has zero impact on you why would you suppose that something with much less potent effects would, whether you shook it vigorously or not before adding that single molecule to your body. It makes it very hard for me to accept Option 1, and a real long-shot for Option 4. The other two you advance have a lot of evidence supporting them, and seem highly likely.

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  28. I’m with the placebo effect theory as well, and I’m okay worth it being a placebo. I can’t take a lot of common antibiotics because of allergies (yes, verified allergies confirmed by a physician), so the standard strategy when I have a non-life-threatening infection is to take herbal teas like ginger and mint. My doctors recommended them:my allergies seem to be increasing with age, so they want to save the real drugs for when I’m seriously ill, so I can’t build up a reaction to them. In the meanwhile, I’m happy with placebos and soothers.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. The fact that there is not one molecule of a given substance in homeopathic remedy should be irrelevant.

    If the thing works consistently, then there is clearly some transfer of properties between the molecule of the original substance to the water/alcohol.

    You’ve assigned a probability between zero and epsilon because it violates the most basic laws of science (and your head hurts LOL) so how do you know that the most basic laws of nature are 100% known?

    This already happens with magnetism (rub one magnet to a piece of metal – metal becomes a magnet), why can’t it happen with other things?

    It is an error to presume that you (or science) already know everything that there is to know.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your logic is flawed. You say “If the thing works consistently, then there is clearly some transfer of properties”. No, all we know is that if the thing works consistently (which is open to debate) then something is happening. Whether that thing is happening on a physical level, an energetic level, or in the mind of the person is completely unknown.

      I’ve done energy healing, with significant success. But, as a hypnotist, I must admit that I’m not sure whether it comes from energy transfer or placebo effect. Maybe it’s faith. Who knows?

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    • The fact that there is not one molecule of a given ingredient in a homeopathic remedy is not irrelevant. In fact this is basically why it can never work.
      As for the transfer of “vibration” of the compound to the water, this hypothesis is ludicrous. Every drop of water on the face of the planet has been in contact with thousands of compounds or elements that could have passed on their vibration. In fact every drop of water has passed through a thousand bladders. Homeopathy has been debunked over and over, it is junk science.

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    • And what kind of property would a molecule have and transfer, then? No magic, please, only terms from physics or one of its applied subsets, chemistry.

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  30. I can contribute this… while in the Philippines (a VERY remote area) was invited to watch a ‘quack doctor’ care for a child, the daughter of the folks we were staying with. She was about ten years old and his ‘cure’ appeared consist of a strip of banana leaf and some cooking oil. The oil was smeared on the back and then the banana strip dragged on the back until it sort of ‘stuck’. Then he acted as if he was sucking the bad humours from the place it had stuck. I can attest, the kid’s fever broke within a few minutes. But, she was ten. Perhaps placebo effect. While waiting her turn watched this guy take care of some very young children. Same effect. Kid’s too young to even know where they where.

    A wealthy man by the area standards, owned rice fields, etc. He refused any monetary payment. He did accept cigarettes, bananas, rice, vegetables…
    as a payment.

    Weird, but I witnessed it and cannot explain it rationally. Yet it worked.

    Faith of a mustard seed, move a mountain eh ?

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for sharing this. I think #4 is more plausible than most people think. Think about our new understanding of the microbiome, which is only in the last few years. There are many more mechanisms that are plausible outside straight biochemistry once you consider the complex relationship between us and the 100 trillion germs that live in us. There is also a huge amount of viral material in our DNA and these activate or not based on epigenetic factors.

    When you take a step back, think about this. It worked. You healed quicker. And you are wrong about the placebo, it still works even if you know it is placebo. Perhaps we need to embrace this rather than look at it with such skepticism. It is the world’s most powerful healing force and is free. Check out Seth Godin’s ebook on this topic, its much more balanced.

    Thirdly, the reason the term homeopathic is used in other terms is that it represents all of the healing traditions (which is all apart from Western, inc TCM, etc) that honors the body’s self healing mechanism. Again, this is coming back into fashion (have you heard the Cleveland Clinic is building a massive Functional Medicine center?)

    Thanks for sharing, and being as unbiased as possible.

    TL/DR if its working, why stop? Don’t overthink it.

    James

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Hey Tim,

    Thanks for the great post.

    I have used Boiron’s Oscilliococcinum for twenty years maybe, for my whole family. We take a dose every 6 hrs the minute we feel any fluish symptoms coming on, and it works everytime. No idea why, and I don’t know about placebo effects on 7 year olds.

    Other homeopathic medicines have not worked so well (i.e. anti-anxiety medicines for myself, our dog, etc…)

    Liked by 1 person

  33. As an herbalist by trade, people often think or assume that I know anything about Homeopathy, which I do not. I have attempted to use homeopathy personally in various times in the past and must report that I have used them to no noticeable benefit. I do however prescribe and use herbal medicine, and it has benefits myriad and staggering that produce observable results.

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  34. I’m not a homeopath, but I’ve used Homeopathy for years. Unlike Western Medicine, Homeopathy works on the energetic level. It touches things that Western Medicine never won’t (unless you drug yourself out with antidepressants), like: emotions, feelings, thoughts, fears, insecurities, apprehensions.

    Yes, the methodology of how the medicine is made seems far fetched, but until you experience the true power of homeopathy for yourself, you’ll never understand.

    Tim, I’d love it if you could base your article on something more than you could buy off the shelf at Whole Foods.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes the methodology of human sacrifice seems far fetched, but until you experience the true power of human sacrifice for yourself, you’ll never understand..

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  35. You are a funny guy Tim. So why do you think your arnica gel works for you? Placebo? Inactive ingredients? It’s a great conversation. You’ll have to think outside the “box” a little more to get to the bottom of it. Homeopathy is BRILLIANT medicine and way ahead of it’s time. Just like trying to break down the principle of what white willow bark properties are in order to develop aspirin. It’s much a much bigger concept, yet so absolutely simple. For now I will leave you with this: “The core of understanding lies in the individual mind, and until that is touched everything is uncertain and superficial. Truth cannot be perceived until we come to fully understand our potential and ourselves. After all, knowledge in the “healing” arts ultimately means self-knowledge.”
    — Bruce Lee with a little twist ;-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those examples (arnica gel and white willow bark) are NOT homeopathy. They are natural remedies. Tim is referring to the classical homeopathic remedies that have no active ingredients.

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      • Haha, yes! Salicylic acid in willow bark is medicine, not ‘medicine’, which is why it works. If you put a glass of dissolved aspirin next to a glass of water and then said that the glass of water now has anti-inflammatory properties due to energy that aspirin has lent to it, that would be akin to homeopathy.

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  36. I am always leery of articles that start with the title “THE TRUTH.” It implies that this is the source of fact and only THE source.

    Homeopathic medicine is a complex therapy with a history that extends over 200 years. It based on the principle of “like treats like.” It is a very challenging branch of natural medicine from a practitioner’s view point for a number of reasons:

    1. There is only ONE remedy for each person; that is, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
    2. The emphasis is on the patient, not the remedy. When you read or hear that “This substance is good for XYZ problem. . .” this is a grossly inaccurate statement.
    3. It often takes hours to gather the correct information and then find the one remedy that will fit the person’s chemistry. As mentioned, it is a complex branch of Natural medicine.

    On a side note: Though the placebo effect may play a part in much the same way it may play a part when using antibiotics or other prescriptions, the fact that it works well with animals should eliminate the “It’s just placebo” conversation.

    For those that have been trained properly in this method, it can be a very powerful modality for patients.

    This article is a good, superficial case study and somewhat of an introduction to the subject. If interested, read more. Find people who have treated many patients and learn from first hand experience, not Internet articles. That is the only way to get it right.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. There’s a book published call “Homeopathy in Healthcare: Effectiveness, appropriateness, safety, costs” by Bornhoft and Matthiessen. It outlines a commision from the swiss government to answer the question whether homeopathy actually works or not. It reviews a number of studies, discusses the problems with certain study designs and goes into massive detail.

    It also discusses some possible mechanisms of action.Careful though, it might make your head hurt more.

    Personally, I’ve found homeopathy to be very useful. I agree, it doesn’t make alot of sense with our current knowledge, but it’s been doing something for people to make it useful the last 200 years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A lit review is not a study. It’s easy to pick apart methods because, frankly, there is no one superior study design and researchers are limited, mostly, by the budget they have. Why don’t you name/link some peer-reviewed empirical studies on homeopathy, published in credible medical journals?

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  38. Tim, have you read The Field, by Lynne McTaggart? Chapter 4, The Language of the Cell delves into this subject and many of the experiments conducted that support why homeopathy may work. I found the book a compelling read as it goes well beyond this subject.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The fact Lynne McTaggart wrote a book says everything you need to know about getting your knowledge from books. Anyone can write whatever they want and you can always find one to support any crazy theory. Plenty of people still believe that the Earth is flat. A non-credible source is non-credible.

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  39. Careful, lots of nutty homeopath apologists now sneaking in comments at the bottom. Oh and by the way it doesn’t work on animals, at least not in any double blind test ever devised. Take Randi’s challenge peeps (or would that prove you totally wrong?) Quackery puro y duro.

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  40. Tim,
    Thank you for the article. You did a good piece of skeptical work on your own. Homeopathy is proven to be not working. So how would you call the companies that still sell them? Right.

    I am running a Polish language skeptical blog (learned Polish yet?) and I’m always happy when famous people are not backing up scam, but take a skeptical / rational stance.

    Thank you again.

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  41. Homeopathic “medicines” are diluted to the point there is nothing there but water. The whole concept that there is some “memory” of water is absurd, otherwise you’d have to then admit it also has a memory of shit, piss, toxic waste, dead bodies, decaying fish and countless other things. A placebo effect is barely likely, more than likely it is simply your body healing itself, which is what it is designed to do and what it does even when real doctors are involved. Give your amazing machine the credit, the rest and the nutrients it deserves.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Experience #1: When I was a teenager I had a homeopathic doctor for a neighbour. One day I was walking my horse while in bare feet (yes – stupid – teenager) and had my foot stepped on. My foot went bone white and started throbbing with pain. I couldn’t walk on it. My neighbour came over and gave me two doses of Arnica. My foot went back to normal within minutes and there was no bruising.

    Experience #2: I went into the barn to find my horse covered in huge hives. I called the same neighbour who gave my horse a homeopathic remedy (Apis). The hives shrank before my eyes.

    Experience #3: several years ago I required the extraction of my wisdom teeth. It did not go very well and I was told to expect a lot of bruising. I took Arnica pellets immediately and for a few days afterward. NO bruising and almost no pain.

    Experience #4: My dog is allergic to insect stings. His face swells up like a balloon and he requires injections of antihistamines, etc. at his vet for treatment. Even with treatment it can take quite a while (hours or up to two days) for the swelling to go down completely. Last summer he was stung while I was without a car. I phoned my nearby homeopathic doctor for help and was given Apis. I threw these little pellets into my dog’s mouth and the swelling proceeded to vanish before my eyes and was completely gone in ten minutes.

    Experience #5: my young son used to wake up hallucinating and sleepwalking several times every week. His medical doctor had no clue after running an assortment of blood tests, etc. I took him to our local homeopathic doctor who gave him a dose of something I can’t remember the name of. It stopped the problem after the first dose and twelve years later we are still getting some sleep :)

    So…. I don’t know how it works – and it makes no sense to me that it can work – but I’m sold.

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  43. Thanks for that message. I have a PhD in genetics (not that I’m bragging, I have a really boring job working for the fed govt where I don’t get to use my knowledge much) and I try and teach people to think using the scientific method all the time. I’m very much a liberal arts person, a theater scholarship paid most of my way through undergrad, so I’m sympathetic to those who think they can’t “do” science, but I’ve read a lot of studies in peer-reviewed journals and none are really positive of homeopathy.

    Again, I also agree with you that homeopathy and other natural remedies where you are taking quite a dose of something, not just a huge dilution, shouldn’t be confused with one another. Natural remedies are the starting point for many modern drugs and are nothing to shrug off. So be careful if you’re using a natural remedy. They can be as potent as FDA regulated drugs and because they generally aren’t regulated by the FDA, you never really know how much of whatever chemical(s) you’re going to end up with in your bloodstream coursing through your vital organs. Just use common sense; for instance, if you can’t read all of the ingredients because they are written in a foreign language, put the remedy down and walk away. Seriously. This is not xenophobic, just know what you put in your body at all times.

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  44. I´ve used some homeopathic medicine, and as much as I would love it to actually work, I haven´t found that it does. The only case that I have found it works beautifully is some homeopathic cough medicine for my 14 month son. It was actually prescribed by a regular doctor. The name is ExpectoDHU with components : anisum, bryonia, drosera, eucalypus, ipecacuanha – take that! I don´t think we can talk of a placebo effect with a 14 month toddler so I think at least in his case it worked! He was coughing non-stop and with a bit of this medicine, he stopped completely. Very impressive and nice to know it´s natural.

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    • Google ExpectoDHU. Most of the results will be in Spanish, so you’ll need to use the Google translator also. I found a site that listed the ingredients, which include two preservatives and hydrochloric (muriatic) acid, Lord knows why. I’d include the link here but a moderator has been removing them.

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  45. I had a group of friends who swore by homeopathy and other new age therapies that had even LESS ability to affect change on the human body, like Crystals (if you remember the fad with those). I believe that the average person is NOT a good judge AT ALL about:
    1. What their “problem” actually is aka “is this stomach caused by muscle tightening due to stress?”
    2. When the symptom went away and by what cause did the symptom go away

    Having been around people who talked about losing weight via fasts, and when I ask how much weight, they pause and admit it was only 5 Lbs (I lost 5 lbs on a vacation last week merely by walking more and not sitting at work- wake me up when you lose 20 lbs). I don’t believe it benefits ANYONE to listen to anecdotal evidence, because there are too many people in our lives who just like to talk…

    I believe that MOST Americans, as in more than 50% of Americans, experience phantom pains and related symptoms merely from stress and poor ways they deal with it. That’s why vacations are so refreshing (and I can lose 5lbs during one). Stress goes away and the pains go away.

    Don’t believe the hype- maybe what ails you is solved by relaxing like meditation or yoga or by exercising and working out the stress.

    I “cured” myself of allergies after I graduated from college- it seems that as a teenager I would wake up, be incapacitated by allergies, and ask my mother to call in so I wouldn’t have to go to school. What a bad allergy problem I believed I had! (can you sharp-witted readers figure out what was really going on and how my allergies disappeared overnight?

    Remember that no active ingredient in cough drops actually works- the same effect could be achieved by sucking on mint-flavored hard candy. But, man, it FEELS like something’s happening.

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  46. Time to stretch out of the dogmas of the Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm that passes for “science” these days. As for homeopathy, You can start with hydrogen bond dynamics in water and go from there…

    When people say there is “no evidence” to support such-and-such, what they mean is that they haven’t looked for it or outright don’t “believe” in it to begin with because it “violates” a law of nature or something silly like that. Science, when properly performed, should be open to new discoveries which question basic dogmas. “Scientism” – or fundamentalist science – rigidly defends dogmas and persecutes anything that veers too far outside accepted circles.
    When we ignore or persecute something like homeopathy because it is uncomfortable or inconvenient, we are practicing religion — not science.

    There is plenty of research on homeopathy, not to mention a massive track record of empirical observation across a number of continents — it is one of the most widely practiced medicines around the world: India, Europe, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

    • … “rigidly defends dogmas and persecutes anything that veers too far outside accepted circles.”

      Amen, Sean! You nailed it. That seems to be what constitutes scientific theory these days. I never believe anyone who is 100% or “POSITIVE”!

      Liked by 1 person

  47. Thank you for spreading some truth on Homeopathic remedies! I was once speaking with a patient, telling me about his different medications, and my eyes practically barrel-rolled backwards and out of my brain when I saw almost every label say “Homeopathic” on it. Keep up the awesomeness.

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  48. Dear Tim!
    Everything is energy. No hay nada que no sea energia y todo nace de la energia. Energia no se puede destruir. Por eso funciona como todo lo demás que te influye todos los días sin darte cuenta. De que crees que has nacido tu y que eres? Suerte!

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  49. Of course homeopathic doesn’t work. There’s never a shortage of naive and gullible people standing by getting scammed. Myself included. It appears to work simply because people and animals are self healing organisms and so we’re constantly trying to heal. When we focus on healing and expect to heal such as when one takes a remedy, we heal. Let me further clarify. We either heal or die–and since we’re still alive we are healed. You don’t hear about how well homeopathy works from dead people do you? In summary, if homeopathy works it does so from the power of the mind which is huge. Even in animals it’s the power of the expectation from the owner that’s projected upon the animal–the optimistic attitude. Sorry to sound like a Know it all, but in this case I think I do:) Brian PS–expect negative replies to this from those who profit from homeopathic

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  50. Your forgetting that its the frequency that is actually doing the healing on the energy body which once affected and balanced in the energy body then the physical manifestation of that imbalance then dissappears…

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  51. Hi Tim: i’m surprised that you would be so committed to using a “logical” approach to explain something so esoteric as homeopathy.
    There are so many examples in our current world that are counter intuitive. Even if you just look at the world of marketing that you are very familiar with. How in God’d name could you make money giving things away? Makes no “sense” at all. Or extending the normal warranty to 3 times the usual? Well, these practices work. Not from a logical place.
    Homeopathy was the most popular healing modality in the US at the turn of the last century. It took a huge amount of money and cunning advertising and abuse of power for the allopathic model to take hold and then criminalize the methods used in homeopathy.
    Vaccinations work on the same principle, just larger doses.
    Bottom line, you seem to have lost faith in the notion that the world works in mysterious ways.
    Here’s a link that i think helps clearly lay out why homeopathy works.

    https://www.homeopathic.com/Articles/Introduction_to_Homeopathy/A_Great_Introductory_Article_for_Advocates_O.html

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, those marketing practices you mention that aren’t logical actually ARE logical once you understand the underlying human psychological and emotional triggers they rely on. To address both examples:
      Why does giving stuff away for free end up being profitable?
      1. People leave positive reviews of your product and others end up buying it as a result
      2. Giving stuff away for free builds enormous trust and gratitude, ensuring a massively engaged fan base that will end up spending money on future releases.
      Why does extending the warranty to 3 times the usual end up profitable?
      1. Most people are too lazy to return items they’re dissatisfied with.
      2. Most people feel like if they got their money’s worth after using something, they don’t want to complain about it and get it replaced – they got a fair deal out of it and they’re happy (when was the last time you went and replaced a “lifetime warranty” backpack that broke after 10 years of use?).
      3. It signals that your product is of high quality. A company that made crappy products would get a huge amount of claims if it made promises like that, so consumers see extended warranties as a trustworthy signal of durability/quality.

      See how none of the above explanations are magical? They’re totally rational. I may have missed some reasons out, but if I did, those reasons would not be irrational either. They would be reasons that made sense and that could be tested under experimental conditions, drawing on the fields of psychology, neuroscience, sociology, economics, etc.

      Similarly, homeopathy DOES CLAIM that there is an entirely rational explanation for how it works – Tim highlighted some of those reasons. It’s just that homeopathy’s reasons rely on leaps of faith about how our bodies work at a molecular level – leaps of faith that are completely unsubstantiated. Science branches out from general principles to the more specific. It doesn’t just start with an unproven assumption and proceed from there to draw sweeping conclusions. No, the assumptions need to be rooted in the rest of the tree of peer-reviewed literature, aka the body of scientific knowledge.

      Comprehensive studies show no effect of homeopathy as distinct from placebo. By contrast, every single FDA-approved drug on the market has shown itself through rigorous trials to be more effective than placebo.

      By all means, use homeopathy and other remedies as placebo if they appear to work for you. But realise that it’s probably just placebo and if you could make yourself believe that a glass of water would have the same effect, you’d end up spending way less money for the same placebo effect.

      Be careful not to claim that things that happen in the universe “make no sense” simply because you do not understand the underlying mechanisms. Human beings have developed a method for dealing with that which appears to make no sense. That method is called science. It’s awesome, and without it we’d still be covering ourselves in leeches trying to let out “excess blood” every time a disease appeared. Thankfully, people soon realised that this was illogical and made no sense – and that’s precisely why they stopped doing it!

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  52. All of the above! No medication is a cure-all for every single person. What works really well for one will not work so well for another.

    What amazes me is how irate people get about homeopathy. It´s okay to spend billions on drugs with harmful side effects when used long-term but not okay to try something less toxic for those who are not at deaths door?

    We need to have options for people to try themselves instead of running to the doctor for every single ailment. Doctors have minimal time available to spend with patients, have to follow medication guidelines, and usually end up just treating symptoms with one or more pills.

    We should be encouraging people to take more control of their health, leaving the doctors visits to those who really need it. There should be a combination of natural and modern medicine to give patients the maximum chance of recovery and lessen the burden on the health system.

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  53. One of the interesting things about homeopathy (and other quack practices like astrology) is that many otherwise “conscious” and self-aware people seem to swear by it. This confused me for a long time – why was it that some of my most emotionally and spiritually intelligent friends seemed:
    1) happy to accept the claims of these pseudo-science fields
    2) disinterested or even annoyed by discussions around scientific evidence, control groups, replication, peer review, etc. as if this were somehow missing the point.

    I found the answer in Ken Wilber’s model of developmental psychology, specifically what he calls the pre/trans fallacy:

    https://www.integrallife.com/video/pre-trans-fallacy

    Pre and trans refer to the pre-conventional and post-conventional stages of development. “Conventional” in this sense refers to the secular, consumerist, unthinking, unquestioning, spiritually devoid world that most people equate with “modern society” and that books like Fight Club seek to expose and ridicule.

    “Conscious” people who have become aware of the dysfunction and who seek something more genuine out of life sometimes end up rebelling against the whole societal structure, essentially writing off capitalism and technological advancement as a negative influence on humanity. They dismiss all science and engineering as fields that serve the exclusive interest of elites to manufacture and market more crap that nobody really needs. These “hippies” have understood the dysfunction, and believe the solution is a return to a world of small-scale farming cooperatives, handwoven ponchos, and homeopathic remedies.

    However, in their analysis these post-conventional people throw the baby out with the bath water, believing that a return to pre-conventional society is the only solution. This tendency to simplify and categorically condemn/accept entire systems of thought is a form of lazy thinking characteristic of all the lower stages of psychological development. Real post-conventional society looks a lot more like Silicon Valley/Star Trek than a 1960’s hippie collective (for a fuller look at developmental stages, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiral_Dynamics).

    Here is a more lighthearted take on the same pre-trans fallacy from comedian Tim Minchin:

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  54. Tim, you state that the idea that “water actually retains some “essential property” of the original substance … violates the most basic laws of science.” Okay, perfect … How’d you like to drink a few gallons of the Fukushima reactor water?

    My point here is that we all know that substances without “one active molecule” of uranium can be highly radioactive, just because they were once in contact with uranium. The same goes for ferrous metals that retain magnetism after being rubbed with a magnetic element. Just because we can measure radioactivity and magnetism, is it so far-fetched to suggest that other substances – such as plants – can impart attributes that science can not yet measure? Particularly in the face of historical evidence, such as that in the 1918 “Spanish” flu pandemic, which claimed the lives of between 50 to 100 million people worldwide, homeopaths were able to save almost 99% of their patients, while conventional doctors were losing 30% of theirs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • But we know radioactivity and magnetism. But spider poison or some plantjuice isn’t. As someone else wrote here: what about other substances the same water of the homeopathic means was in contact with? Fish? Dirt? Heavy metals? Sunlight?

      Concerning the Spanish flu pandemic; what was the curing method used? 99% of how many patients?

      Liked by 1 person

    • A few gallons of Fukushima water will not contain 1 molecule of radioactive isotope. It will contain a lot more than that.

      But, sure, let’s go with radioactivity. Radioactive elements are everywhere, including in us. In the earth, in the air, in everything we use, eat or drink. In your magic water, too. There’s probably more uranium in your drinking water than active ingredients in your homeopathic ‘medicine’.

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  55. Hi Tim….love your show and your open minded approach to all things.

    Welcome to the concept of ‘Vibrational Medicine’.

    Could it actually be that there is a specific resonance and frequency contained in a compound that is imparted to water? And could it be that imparting that resonance and frequency to the water contained in our body could enhance physiological function?

    When we go through chemistry courses, we use NMR Spectroscopy to determine the resonance and frequency of organic compounds, so why is it so hard to think that such properties could be imparted to water?

    Just because ‘Science’ doesn’t have the tools to measure the more subtle interactions within our physiology doesn’t mean that such things don’t exist. In fact, I would suggest that Homeopathy would have died a long time ago if it didn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Switzerland is home to two of the biggest drug companies in the world – and yet in 2011 the government performed the most comprehensive evaluation of homeopathy ever undertaken. The report , still publically available , determined homeopathy is both effective and cost effective and is to be reimbursed by national healthcare. Almost all doctors are on side with homeopathy as are the population

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    • I agree – wave physicist have long conceded that we need turn our attention toward, not the fundamental particle when seeking out mechanical explanations of things not easily or “conventionally” understood.. but to identifying the fundamental pattern. Conventional tools and scientific modalities lead us to see the world through a keyhole! (roughly 350 ~ 750 nano-meters on the visible light spectrum) – a fraction of what is really there. This, unfortunately causes us to neglect one of the most crucial aspects in what will become our new (quantum based instead of just Newtonian) scientific understanding of how things work – and that is INFORMATION – Vibration waves on all levels of magnification (sound waves, light waves, radio waves, etc) are transmitters of information through a phenomenon knows as “resonance.”

      My point is that it is conceivable, and yes even measurable via various methods of qualitative analysis (as opposed to quantitative) that information remains and can me stored and transmitted via water even though no “particle” can be found through our Newtonian instrumentation

      “Ask anybody what the physical world is made of, and you are likely told matter and energy. Yet, if we have learned anything from engineering, biology, and physics, information is just as crucial an ingredient.” Physicist Jacob D. Bekenstein

      “Matter is less then 1% manifest in the universe, the rest is energy fields interacting according to the law of resonance” – Prof. Carlo Rubbia, Nobel Prize particle physicist

      Even Albert Einstein (who was even a dowser) famously stated that “The field is the only reality”

      “When will chemistry textbooks begin to serve as aids, rather than barriers to this enriched quantum-mechanical perspective on how molecular turnstiles work? What are the forces that control the twisting and folding of molecueles into complex shapes? [infromtion!] – Don’t look for the answers in your organic chemistry text-book… – F. Weinhold, Biophysicist – that branch of science is so far out of date its textbooks have yet to recognize quantum mechanics.”

      Apologies for the quote bombardment… but the science is all there and has been for a long time. It only requires us to step back and expand our paradigm which is easier said than done, and I can see from many of the comments here occurs primarily through personal experience. Eg “he who cures is right”

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      • Einstein was not a dowser at all. It is reported that he stated that it should not be dismissed as hokum. This can’t be verified.

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      • It may be conceivable that homeopathy “works”, but where is the evidence? That is, where is the non-anecdotal, repeatable, stringently-isolated-from-confounding-factors evidence? Even quantum physicists have to devise ways to prove their theorems. No amount of sophisticated vocabulary, jabs against the shortcomings of modern medicine nor isolated tales of one’s cured cat weighs a whit against proof of efficacy with a double-blind peer-critiqued study. As humans our truths tend to be slippery, wishful and self-deceiving without the hard-won rigor of scientific method. So many comments on this blog post reflect just that.

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  56. I don’t think it’s likely that homeopathic medicine works which is why I don’t use it on my dogs (placebo effect is not likely to work on them). But I have used it on myself with great success. There was a time when I had repeated uri infections and got antibiotics for it every time, which I was told only made it more likely that I would get it again (because it killed the friendly bacteria along with the bad). After about a year of this I got a homeopathic remedy and it cleared symptoms of uri infection in the same time as antibiotics (less than 24 hours) with the added bonus that I didn’t have to live with side effects of antibiotics. It worked even though I knew there’s no way the little pill could be doing the healing, but I guess I expected that my subconscious will follow through with the healing plan.

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  57. I’ve used at least 30 different remedies. One of the best conditions where we (family of 5) received outstanding results was treating/eliminating strep throat. The homeopathic remedy is LACHESIS MUTUS, which is rattlesnake venom.

    As a World Master’s Athlete, I’ve used homeopathic medicines for 25+ years to speed up healing and to heal. RHUS TOX (poison ivy) for joint injuries, RHUTA GRAVEOLENS (an herb plant) for older, chronic joint problems, and ARNICA (plant) for muscles soreness and injury. If it’s a placebo affect, I know 40-50 athletes I’ve fooled into better health and recovery.

    By the way, looking up the sources of the medicines is quite fascinating – plants, animal (like SEPIA – squid ink) and much more from nature. You might almost be fooled into thinking everything was put on this planet for more purposes than are obvious. I.e., they’re not just pretty flowers and wild creatures.

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      • “Mad” Max_G is spending a lot of time pissing on everyone here. First, Dan Seidman’s descriptions are 100% homeopathic. Max_G wants proof for everything. He denigrates “beliefs.” Yet all of his statements, all of them are BELIEFS. Because he believes any article is true, just because it can be discovered online. Everyone has beliefs, even you, Max_G.

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      • @ Ben Lomond ; It has been scientifically proven trolling is a serious negative side effect of taking alternative medicine without proper guidance. So seek assistance asap.

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  58. Placebo makes you sound like a clueless idiot. The fact that you finally stopped and took the time to care for yourself does more good than anything. You probably also rested, declined some invitations, took in a movie and were good to yourself in general. Most ailments are self-limiting once you give yourself permission to heal.

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  59. I worked for a company that sold high grade complex homeopathic remedies. I heard stories of autistic children taking two drops too many of a complex homeopathic nosode formula (one designed to detoxify the body) and having herximer effects or extreme detox symptoms.
    The reality is that science has demonstrated time again that homeopathy works incredibly well, many times on cases that nutrition doesn’t work alone. With more research in the world of quantum physics, we are starting to understand HOW it works.
    [Moderator: link removed]

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  60. HI TIM!
    I LOVE that you have put homeopathy in your radar!
    Homeopathy saved my daughter’s life!
    There is a doctor in Argentina, called Hugo Calatayud, who is a disciple/follower of Hahnemann’s school.
    My daughter was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis (JRA), when she was one year and a half, and stopped walking. All her joints swollen with liquid. Desperate parents as you can imagine. Allopathic medicine said: corticoids, metratexate (cancer toxic medication for an 18 months baby), gral anesthesia to infiltrate her knees, future: wheel chair and joint transplants, and NO cure. We needed a better life for her: homeopathy gave us the answer. After one month of breathing in pellets, all the inflammation was gone! She is now 12, a tennis player, a soccer player, keeps her homeopathic treatment once a month. So she is cured, has no symptoms. She calls her dr: harry potter, because he did magic. But what he did, is follow the right protocol from Hahnemann. In his humbleness he said: I don’t know if I will be able to find the right treatment for her (a non speaking baby) but homeopathy can heal her. He totally understood what she needed, and how.
    The British Hospital, where the best JRA dr’s are…could not believe it. But insisted they could not change their scientific treatments.
    I do believe homeopathy is a science. It was tried to hush down after wwII, especially in the US. But it is coming back, more and more, full force!
    Thank you for letting me share this amazing story…we are fans, and anyone who needs help in having a stronger immune system, has an answer…and we send them to this Dr. He is of older age now, and has been an investigator of homeopathy for his entire life…a true gem to find.
    Hope this helps many people out there!
    Cheers!
    Jen

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  61. Hi Tim – some – no all of what you say makes sense but.. have you read any of William Bengston’s stuff on energy healing (and some very interesting thoughts on placebo effects) and serious research by Dean Radin on mind matter interaction – no these are not proponents of homeopathy, but they beg questions about so-called “proven scientific principles”. I think the placebo effect is very powerful (in producing muscle growth too) but I’m not sure “something else” is going on too with homeopathy.

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  62. I am a believer….I agree placebo can be powerful but if you have ever witnessed a screaming baby respond to teething tablets ( homeopathic) it will make you believe there is more to this concept than placebo. I myself am a physician trained in an allopathic residency but have come to the conclusion with medicine and w life not all can be explained, and there is nothing cookbook about what we as healers can provide. That is my 2 cents

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  63. Great post and keeping it real and unbiased!
    I would have put homeopathy down to ‘nonsense’ or placebo but I took a remedy for a recurring condition and it cleared it up, after trying many other types of medicine & procedures.
    Was it a placebo? I don’t believe it was as this particular remedy is commonly used on horses and dogs as well, I’m sure they don’t ‘tell’ them they’re being given medicine ;-)

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  64. My father did postdoc studies in homeopathic medicine and used it extensively in his practice. Actually the higher the titration (dilution) the more potent the remedy. So a 6x (titrated 6 times) is LESS potent than 30x (titrated 30 times). Classical theory claims the higher dilutions allows the remedies to be more immediately accessible at the cellular level. A crude analogy is mercury. You can swallow mercury in its natural liquid form with minimal damage, because it is too “gross” for absorbtion.But the fine vapor of mercury immediately is absorbed at the cellular level and very damaging. Same principle with homeopathic remedies (although this is hotly debated). By the way, all homeopathic remedies are poisons. But of course the tiny amounts make them remedies just as digitalis is a poison yet a heart stimulant in the correct dosage.

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  65. Grew up on homepathy and continued to use it through many life situations. Wisdom teeth extraction no swelling and speeding healing with arnica, family members not needing any pain meds after surgeries – when arnica started 24 hours in advance. The best results of all are pets getting thru routine surgical procedures as well as hit by car with amazing the vets with recovery time. Fido doesn’t understand the placebo effect, he just enjoys running outside the very next day.

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  66. Hi. Just my own personal anecdotal evidence. My newborn daughter came home from hospital with a severe diaper rash that wouldn’t respond to any conventional topical treatment. Eventually the doctor prescribed an oral antibiotic, which I was reluctant to give her at such a young age. I gave her sulfur 30c diluted in water. Within 2 days the rash was completely gone. At three weeks of age, I don’t think that can be explained by the placebo effect. She’s now 9 years old. As a family we’ve been relying completely on homeopathy ever since through a variety of conditions including allergies, infections, injuries, etc. and it’s working extremely well. Finally, I think that unlike regular drugs, homeopathic remedies doesn’t lend themselves well to clinical trials because there’s a big element of trial and error involved. Sometimes the remedy pictures are quite similar and you have to try more than one before arriving at the correct one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your daughter seemed to respond well to homeopathy after trying other, conventional forms of medicine. Your decision to use exclusively homeopathic treatments after this means you’re now discounting decades of scientific, clinically trialled medical research based on a single anecdotal observation. You might think “Not just one observation. My whole family has been using homeopathic remedies ever since, and we’re doing great.” No, that’s not scientific evidence. As Tim mentions, there is regression to the mean (we self-heal) and placebo effects affecting our bodies as well. To your comment that homeopathic medicine doesn’t lend itself well to clinical trials, because you have to use trial and error, that’s essentially saying “sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and I don’t know why, and there is no way of predicting when or if anything will work”. The whole point of medicine is to NARROW DOWN the list of possible remedies that are likely to be effective whenever we suffer a condition. Science allows us to straight to that which is most likely to be effective. Of course, there are individual differences between us which mean that even science cannot perfectly predict how you will respond to treatment. But sufficient numbers of people have responded well that it is considered better than randomly trying various remedies in a hap hazard way. Drinking burdock root tea might cure pancreatic cancer, as could ayurvedic yoga, as could coconut oil, as could voodoo, as could homeopathy. The problem is that once you’ve tried all these treatments, the cancer is likely to have consumed and killed you. Modern medicine has established that certain things work better most of the time for most people. So start there – maximise the chances of success. That’s the responsible and loving thing to do for your family.

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      • The placebo effect IS science. I’m not sure why it is such a bad word when it is a proven way to aid healing an illness. Why not eliminates need for foreign chemicals in the body that potentially induce more harmful side effects?

        Chemical medicine treatment is a way to treat that bell curve of “average” norms, but people do fall outside hat range, and that is normal too! If someone notices that their body responds well to placebo effects and homeopathic remedies, spectacular!

        We could all use a little more self evaluation to see what works for us. We depend so much on a doctor to diagnose our disease without a clear understanding on how our individual bodies work. The doctor should be an aid in our own healing, not the god of it.

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  67. I whole-heartedly agree on TWO things in the post.
    First, homeopathy is a bunch of B.S. If dilutions were so powerful, we would be getting ill from the arsenic in our water suppy which is allowed to be 10 parts per billion.
    Secondly, when I tell people I think homeopathy is total quackery they often think I am referring to naturopathic or herbal remedies, which I most certainly am not.

    I spent $8.99 on a flu remedy and then later discovered it was a fricking homeopathic sugar pill. It didn’t work at all, and I was even more pissed off because I do not normally ingest any sugar at all. It was called Occicillum or something like that. I didn’t even get a placebo effect from it.

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    • You are exactly right. If one thing has come from this discussion its that there is much confusion about herbal remedies and homeopathic remedies being the same. They are not.
      The other common argument seems to be that if an animal or a child gets better after being administered a homeopathic remedy then that proves that there is a genuine response rather than placebo effect. This is not the case. Without doubt there will be confirmation bias from the parent or owner.

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  68. Ok.
    Too difficult to explain why it works in a comment. Buy the book the field by lynne mctaggart and fucking read it. Ignore any assumptions you may have.
    Be prepared for a paradigm shift. I promise.

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  69. Tim,
    Thanks for another interesting/thought provoking article. I’ve had some very similar thoughts about homeopathic remedies over the years, but, since they continue to work on me(sometimes better than purposefully comparable herbal remedies), I don’t really care that I don’t understand the mechanism.
    If you’re interested in some explanations of possibly why homeopathy works and also how things like emotions or more subtle aspects of the mind/body/spirit connection come into play, you should check out the books “Molecules of Emotion” by Candace Pert and “The Biology of Belief” by Bruce Lipton. Both of these books were recommended to me by a woman that years ago had done some research at NIH, but had seen too many ummm shall we say skewed findings regarding natural remedies while there, (but also saw a lot of progress in patient recovery though, oddly, many of those details went unpublished). She left that potentially cushy career and pursued Naturopathy instead. Now, as a Dr of Naturopathy she ~cures~ diseases in compliant patients on a regular basis through diet/lifestyle changes, herbs, homeopathy and acupuncture, etc.
    Sometimes things that influence us aren’t packaged in molecules like pharmaceuticals. Sometimes more subtle energies affect us and our health- emf, sound, light, etc. Some of those things weren’t very well understood or easily measured until recently. Perhaps homeopathic remedies are similar in that sense. Anyway- the books are great and do a really good job of connecting the science with the less easily definable in a non-quacky way.

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  70. I liked the article and believe you experienced a placebo effect. You might find Brian Dunning’s Skeptoid podcasts on homeopathy interesting. [Moderator: link removed]

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  71. I sure expected more research from you. First off Homeopathy is not only dilutions there are concentrations too.
    Second you are talking about the Avogadro constant which is 19th century science!!
    Third Avogadro constant was not an experiment on Homeopathic medicines.
    Its 19th century technology.
    Lets look at the Avogadro constant with a little logic. If anything above 10C has no molecule of the original substance. Where the F did it go?
    It has to be somewhere.
    Homeopathy dilutions are done in presence of Alcohol and they are done with mother tinctures.
    Its the critics who simply say its “ducks Liver” no they don’t dilute ducks liver a tincture is made out of it. Same with Arnica. You get them and that extract is very potent.

    Now comes the research of DR Luc Montagnier research the co-discoverer of HIV virus. He found Water does have what we can call “memory” but now the entire Scientific world is declaring him crazy.
    Go figure

    The placebo effect is out. Because here in India. Homeopathy has effectively cured and prevented diseases that even allopathy cannot like chikan gunya, dengue. My only Question why doesn’t the Placebo ever work with allopathy drugs??
    Right now there is a homeopathy cure for Ebola I don’t know how much it works but as for the diseases mentioned earlier I personally have overseen an epidemic being controlled in villages of India.
    Which allopathic Medicine could not.

    Lets talk about the Placebo effect. How was the first experiment conducted.
    2 groups one was given a drug other given a placebo and both groups were cured!!
    So the conclusion…If you are made to believe that you are having a drug the you body will MAGICALLY CURE YOU!!! ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!!!

    When clearly the conclusion was that the drug did not work…The body healed itself. The drug was useless. I remember when I was a kid back in India the elders were against taking medicine for cold. They would say if you take medicine your cold will cure in 7 days if you don’t take medicine it will cure in a week.

    Thats placebo effect for you. Simply Cold medicines do not work. Do some research and many papers out there have found that 90% of medicine do not work.
    That is why you will never find a placebo effect in a malaria patient. They die. You only find Placebo effect in colds and coughs that the body can actually heal.

    Then Pharma companies have turned Science into a religion and once a research is peer reviewed it is as strong as the WORD OF GOD!.
    Then you can never question it again.

    Homeopathy works. People have been cured of incurable diseases(which modern medicine cannot). IF these so called scientists and skeptics really cared about humanity they would do more research as to why it cures. Instead of trying to brand it as quackery

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    • It is not correct to say that the placebo effect is merely self-healing. If that were true, then giving someone a placebo pill ought to have the exact same effect as giving someone nothing at all. Studies show that this is not the case. The placebo effect can be measured for certain conditions, particularly when it comes to self-reported (subjective) measures like pain, which are often substantially improved when patients are given placebos. Objective measures (like blood samples) seem to show less of an effect of placebo. But the subjective measures are very important – after all, if you could decrease someone’s experienced level of pain simply by giving them a sugar pill, then you would truly be helping that person, even if it’s “just in their mind”. After all, that’s what suffering is – it’s in the mind.

      So next time your friend complains of a head ache and you’re out of pain killers, give them an anti-allergenic and tell them it’s an aspirin. You’ll be doing them a favour.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Placebo#Mechanism_of_the_effect

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    • Here you see every conspiracy theory maintained by homeopaths and every buzzword used by quacks combined in one single song of bullshit.

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  72. Hello Tim,
    I am certainly no expert on this, but as far as I have been able to research, homeopathy works through dilution in a similar way as vaccines. According to homeopaths, every substance has a vibrational energy, and every illness, or symptom, can be duplicated by some poisonous substance. The object is not to get more of the “arnica,” for example, into your body, but just the vibrational energy of the substance, so you don’t poison yourself with the substance itself. The idea is that, similar to a vaccine, the body will begin to fight off the “poison,” and at the same time, cure the illness, for example, “muscular strains.” The vibrational energy of substances has been shown by various patterns found in ice crystals, for example. Hope this makes sense.

    Liked by 3 people

    • And this doesnt sound like magic to you?
      Vaccines are working on a entirely different level. Hereby, recognizable molecular structures in measureable amounts enter the body to cause an immune response. This has nothing to do with vibrations or sth.
      With HP, actually NOTHING enters the body except the carrier substance. And there is no such thing as a memory in water or ethanol.

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  73. Yup utter fiction.

    Scary thing is our company has just decided that we all have to get healthy (a good thing). The ‘doctor’ in charge of this initiative (hired by our company) is a Doctor of Homeopathic medicine.

    I can’t wait for the 10^-60 ‘cure’ for my chronic high blood pressure.

    I weep for the future.

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  74. The argument goes both ways. I took flu shots as advised, and got the flu every year, often twice in a year. When I stopped taking them, with my M.D.’s approval, no annual flu. Placebo effect? Certainly didn’t feel like it. Developed an allergic reaction to my cat’s dander, took a homeopathic remedy and the allergy disappeared, never to return. If the placebo effect (or self-fulfilling prophecy) works this well, give it to me every time.

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    • Flu shots only cover a few strains. If you still got the flu then you picked up a different strain. Also you may have actually just had a bad head cold, people confuse the two.

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  75. anytime you take any part water and flush it to your system you are flushing your body of what’s in it. positive vibes never hurt anybody or anything. watch the PBS special on Tesla.

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  76. Cheer up Tim, recent studies show that even if you know it’s placebo, it still works just as well. I can’t find the link because I’m on my phone, but Google “IBS placebo still works even when labeled placebo”, or something like that; it was a great read. I regularly use placebo myself through homeopathy and other means to great impact, but I always mediate deeply before hand. My cousin and her husband each recently lost around 25 lbs taking a homeopathic remedy without any changes of lifestyle they could recall. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  77. I like options 2 and 4. Either way, homeopathic remedies work – arnica oil is something I can personally vouch for.

    Numerous times, after injuring myself with Parkour, or tending to a fall by one of my children, I swipe on arnica oil, and it works. The few times I have forgotten my bottle, bruises happen and last for weeks.

    I don’t care HOW it works, I care THAT it works.

    Liked by 1 person

  78. Tim Dude! What the F@@@. I have been using Homepathics for years per my wifes advice. Like you, I don’t really understand the science behind it, but it works, I couldn’t build a car or a computer and do not really understand the technology, but I use them both. Like Qi Gong or Meditation, some things defy the western science stamp of approval, yet give great results, Homeopathics work, but you should really go to a good homeopath if you want to give it a fair trial. You way over dosed on the Arnica.

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  79. Yes, it is plausible. I have used many over the years, both prescribed and on my own and have had results. I doubt that is is a placebo, most peple DONT believe at all. But it is a strange science for sure.

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  80. Homeopathic remedies have always worked for the minor conditions that I had occasion to use them for. No way was this placebo in my case. I am a physician who is “open” to trying new forms of care. What never worked for me personally was acupuncture although it was pretty cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Were the minor conditions so minor that they in fact healed on their own?
      Feel free to list each ailment and the corresponding homeopathic remedy.

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      • correlation does not equal causation. Dancing around fires and sacrificing animals to spirits have helped countless generations with their “minor conditions”.

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