The Truth About “Homeopathic” Medicine

625 Comments
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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625 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.

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      • 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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