Playing with kiddies toys

I have discovered some disturbing things about homeopaths in the last few weeks. It’s partly from the comments in “Blogging the Organon”, but I’ve done some research of homeopathic websites & forums to try to void my conclusions. Sadly, no joy.

 

Fairy waving magic wand
  • No homeopath has ever misdiagnosed a patient. Homeopathic prescribing is done by matching the symptoms of the patient with the indications of the remedy – it may not be possible to achieve a perfect match in a single consultation. This is often the patient’s fault – he or she misreports the symptoms, or leaves out an important one.
  • No homeopath has ever caused unwanted side effects, or hurt or damaged a patient. The theory of homeopathy says that once a perfect match is achieved, there will be benefit to the patient. A mismatch is of no consequence at all; the patient will neither benefit nor suffer as a result.
  • No homeopath has ever prescribed the wrong remedy. See above; it’s all just part of the process.
  • Some diseases are more serious than others. This is because there is a hierarchy of disease – physical, emotional, then spiritual. Spiritual or “deep” diseases are the most serious. Their is a chance that your homeopath may choose to ignore your illness if he doesn’t think it is serious.
  • Diseases are caused by a weakness of the vital force. Bacteria, viruses, carcinogens etc are irrelevant. Even stepping on a rusty nail is caused by a weakness of the vital force. So there’s no point in hygiene, or health & safety precautions, since whatever you do, you are predisposed.

Following on from this -

First of all, there’s always plenty of time. A homeopath is content to see a patient many times, and to prescribe a succession of different remedies until he hits the magic button (or until the patient gets better spontaneously or gives up with homeopathy, but we don’t talk about these possibilities).

Secondly, conventional disease labels don’t exist. After all, to a homeopath, a case of meningitis or measles is just a meld of individual symptoms, which will be resolved once he gets the remedy right. No problem.

It worries me greatly that homeopaths seem to live in a world where they are not responsible for the consequences of their actions. The only reason that this can continue is, of course, because homeopathic remedies don’t actually have any effect. If they did, then homeopaths would be up sh*t creek.

I can’t even find a single documented case of a homeopath being disciplined by his own profession.

Compare this with conventional medicine. A doctor can misdiagnose and misprescribe. A big enough error will result in damage to a patient, so they have to be careful. Although it is rare for doctors to be disciplined, it does happen. It doesn’t mean that doctors are bad – but it means that they live in the real world, that they are responsible for their actions, and that they are held to account.

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16 Responses to “Playing with kiddies toys”

  1. lecanardnoir Says:

    Homeopaths do not get ever get punished by the Society of Homeopaths as it is only ‘allopaths’ that do harm.

    From their 2006 Review:

    professional conduct
    Statistics for 2006. During 2006,
    the department opened 146
    cases compared with 151 cases
    in 2005
    Much of the work involves
    responding to members’ queries
    around a range of issues including
    • Retiring from practice
    • Making up and dispensing
    remedies
    • Storing patient notes
    • Internet prescribing
    • Confidentiality
    There were no adjudications in 2006.

    So, the professional conduct officer did not have to adjudicate on any complaint but simply responded to telephone enquiries on subjects like filing and note taking.

    I wonder what 2007 will look like?

  2. homeopathy4health Says:

    A doctor can misdiagnose and misprescribe. A big enough error will result in damage to a patient, so they have to be careful. Although it is rare for doctors to be disciplined, it does happen. It doesn’t mean that doctors are bad – but it means that they live in the real world, that they are responsible for their actions, and that they are held to account…..

    and that conventional medication and treatments are hazardous.

  3. jdc325 Says:

    “Diseases are caused by a weakness of the vital force. Bacteria, viruses, carcinogens etc are irrelevant”

    Would my homeopath be content for me to take up smoking and start washing my hands in raw sewage then? Is it fine… as long as my vital force is strong? Can I get shot by a thug with a gun and survive… as long as I am not suffering from a prior weakening of my vital force? Hmm, homeopaths must be invincible and live forever then. In fact, Hahnemann should be here right now telling us exactly why he was right shouldn’t he?

  4. homeopathy4health Says:

    “Diseases are caused by a weakness of the vital force. Bacteria, viruses, carcinogens etc are irrelevant” link please, I didn’t say this.

  5. jdc325 Says:

    I didn’t claim that you did say that H4H – did you read M&M’s post? It was a summary of the things that Mugs and Money had learnt from homeopaths.
    Incidentally – do you disagree with the statement I quoted? I’m interested as to whether you think a weakness of the ‘vital force’ is responsible for disease. Is it wholly responsible, partly responsible or not at all responsible for diseases?

    I’d also be also interested in your answers to the following:
    If bacteria, viruses and carcinogens are relevant then what part does the vital force play?
    If bacteria are relevant to disease, what is your view of antibiotics?
    Would you recommend homeopathy for bacterial infections?
    For viral infections?
    For cancer?

  6. mugsandmoney Says:

    Sorry to take so long to reply, I’ve been on holiday.
    JDC you are right, the “Bacteria” sentence is my own composition. However the “Rusty Nail” sentence is derived from the conversation here –

    http://organon.wordpress.com/2008/02/06/32-36-hahnemanns-organon-of-medicine/

  7. humbers Says:

    Some of what I read on the Organon blog has changed my mind. I wonder if it is at all realistic to turn a blind eye to the mysticism and allow homeopathy to work as a placebo or other therapy.
    The irrational responses, especially that of the rusty nail, are evidence that the system works by self-deception and belief. I doubt that such naive individuals could adapt to regulation or be trusted not to trade any supplied medical equipment for magic beans.

    Homeopaths may never make a mistake, but can they rely on the remedies? The final product cannot be assayed, and there is only superficial regulation so there MUST be remedies that are incorrectly made or labeled, yet there have been no re-calls.

  8. homeopathy4health Says:

    jdc – assuming you are actually ‘interested’ I answer in good faith:

    Personally I prefer not to overly rely on the term ‘vital force’ but use ‘susceptibility’ instead. So our symptoms depend largely on our susceptibility (inherited or acquired due to accident/shock/unresolved illness) and our natural reactions to stimuli. The stimulus can be bacterial, viral, carcinogenic, mechanical, chemical and energetic (e.g. vomiting brought on by seeing/smelling revolting things i.e. sewage). So they are all part of ‘the whole’. Homeopathy tends to concentrate on treating the susceptibility problems and inappropriate reactions. I would expect most people to be revolted by the idea of putting their hands in raw sewage and therefore not do it, if someone didn’t mind it I would note that as a symptom because it is natural to mind and health preserving and therefore they are underminding their own health due to lack of appropriate response.

    Our bodies should deal with most stimuli reasonably well but they don’t always deal with all of them well enough and e.g. bacteria get out of control, or they deal with it too strongly or inappropriately and it causes symptoms to carry on (e.g. vomiting at the thought of any kind of sewage at any time) or inappropriate auto-immune response.

    Antibiotics deal with the inappropriate proliferation of bacteria at the expense of other bacteria in the system and do not deal with the body’s inability to balance bacteria populations in the body.

    I would recommend homeopathy for bacterial infections and viral infections particularly in the early stages, and there are homeopaths who are comfortable in treating cancer (particularly Indian MDs) but personally I am not sure.

    I will not respond again if you all lapse into pointing and laughing and mocking type responses.

  9. homeopathy4health Says:

    Leaving aside your very poor opinion of homeopaths (have you met any and talked to them?) I can assure you that remedies are made very carefully and I have never had reason to think that they are incorrectly made or labelled. And if you are so concerned about their labelling etc you must therefore think that they are not placebo.

  10. homeopathy4health Says:

    that last remark was meant for humbers.

  11. humbers Says:

    H4H,
    Because the concentration of the remedy is beyond assay and the succussed effect cannot be measured, there is no way of monitoring the final product to ensure that it is correct. Monitoring is widely used in the food industry to avoid such mistakes; most are detected before they leave the factory.
    A less-than-obvious mistake in the chain could easily go undetected, because there would be nothing to raise the alarm. There will certainly be mistakes under these conditions, but there have been no recalls.

    It does not matter what I think, but that homeopaths themselves would not know of the error, and so in their eyes, misdiagnose. That this problem goes undetected, and seemingly unremarked, is another piece of proxy evidence that is in accord with the skeptical view that the remedies have no effect.

    I also think that most people do not like putting their hands in sewage.
    If in diagnosis, 100 patients in a row are revolted by the idea, but are followed by one who doesn’t mind, how would you know that you have not simply come across the say, 1 in 100 people who don’t mind?

    What instigates revulsion is certainly culturally bound, (though pulling a face and putting a hand across the mouth seems to be universal) it is not necessary that failure to do so indicates an unhygienic attitude.
    Also, an individual’s response may be due to some experience or a lower innate threshold. It could be argued therefore, that a ‘symptom’ is defined as some characteristic or behaviour that is simply not ‘expected’.

    Antibiotics attack an invading pathogen (not normally found in the body) and are usually specific to certain types of bacteria. Penicillin for example, prevents proper formation of the germ’s outer wall as it divides in multiplication, eventually killing all of them. The body restores the damage, and the patient is then considered entirely cured. (It is true that antibiotics can kill the flora in the gut, resulting in diarrhoea, but this is temporary).

    There is no evidence that antibiotics leave the disease suppressed within the body. Blood tests can confirm this.
    How could you know? The patient says he/she is healthy, so which indicators could remain to refute that claim? Could you then ‘read’ a patient and accurately report any diseases or group of symptoms that may be used to identify the suppressed condition? An interesting trial, perhaps.

    My recent opinion, sadly, has been eroded by remarks posted on several blogs. If they are not representative of homeopaths in general, then that would be a good thing. I don’t have an opinion of homeopaths per se, but rather the ideas they support. Though it is that very lack of support that is the problem.
    There is a great deal of mysticism on these blogs concerning the vital force. Some homeopathic researchers do not want to go down this path, sticking perhaps as do you, to the remedies and susceptibility, because they are all too aware of the hydra’s head it represents.
    Mysticism and spiritualism defy exposition, leaving skeptics to uncritically accept homeopathic ideas, or give up in despair. That is a dead-end, and the font of derision.

  12. jdc325 Says:

    homeopathy4health – thanks for the response. I strongly disagree with some of the points you made*, but appreciate you taking the time to provide a reply that seems to me to be an honest self-appraisal of your position.

    *An example: I disagree with your remarks on bacteria, antibiotics and use of homeopathy for treating bacterial infections. If someone has a bacterial infection then they need antibiotics rather than a homeopathic remedy. Particularly if it is a serious infection, such as bacterial meningitis (NB – bacterial meningitis is a medical emergency and even suspected cases need emergency medical attention).

    (I should point out that I don’t wish to use meningitis as a stick to beat you with but, having failed to make a distinction between more serious viral / bacterial conditions and the less serious infections in my original post, it later occurred to me that this is actually one example where reliance on homeopathy could lead to serious harm. Or even death – untreated bacterial meningitis has a high mortality rate. I am in no way implying that you would not take the correct course of action and call for emergency medical attention if bacterial meningitis was suspected – but M&M has previously covered a piece in the Brighton Argus where a homeopath and columnist had given dangerous and inappropriate advice on this very subject).

  13. mugsandmoney Says:

    H4H said:
    Antibiotics deal with the inappropriate proliferation of bacteria at the expense of other bacteria in the system and do not deal with the body’s inability to balance bacteria populations in the body.

    Interesting. Can you give us a reference for this please?

    As regards Indian homeopaths, the only one I have heard of who claims to treat cancer is Ramakrishnan, and his claims are so woolly that they are unverifiable.

  14. humbers Says:

    H4H,
    Given that is has already started, could we stick with homeopathy’s ideas of germ theory? There is quite a clear difference between medicine and homeopathy on this matter, yet it has ( I think) the common ground of an external pathogen. There is a lot of data, and many of the ideas should be testable.

  15. draust Says:

    Re the “Could you tell if a homeopathic remedy was not the one it was labelled as”, well of course you couldn’t, since they are identically water or alcohol.

    This has actually happened recently, when French Homoepathic remedy company Boiron mislabelled their “mother tinctures” (the stuff that is concentrated enough to have some ingredients) of two ingredients prior to diluting to make the “remedies”. They noticed some months later and “recalled” the remaining supplies. As far as we know no-one noticed any difference.

    I am sure the irony of what happened will not be lost on anyone, except perhaps any passing homeopaths.

  16. humbers Says:

    Thanks for the information. I did not know that there had been any recalls at all. This one could be traced, but there must be many more that have gone unnoticed.

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