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9/9/2013 Homeopathy, the Skeptics: How effective are they really?A Google search for homeopathic skeptics will return information on Stephen Barrett, Edzard Ernst, Skeptics in the Pub, Simon Singh and the magician and illusionist James Randi, among others. A Google search for skeptics blogs returns a site URL (among others) for a skeptic who tells you how you can "fix" the Wikipedia entries. It just so happens that the Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is not a fan of homeopathy and wants to "stop it." An advantage for the skeptics? Ah, so far that's a no. (1, 2)
The skeptics have tried to discredit homeopathy since Hahnemann's time. The medical establishment and its member practitioners and scientists, along with the press, had a field day attacking Hahnemann and his patients. I think the same skeptic types are recruited and involved today. Despite their efforts then and now, according to the World Health Organization, homeopathy has grown in popularity and is the second most used health care system worldwide. Are the skeptics failing? Let's consider the facts.
1. Health care consumers have not been convinced that "real drugs" (versus "sugar pills") are a better option, especially when there is the continued publicity of class action law suits and the withdrawal of drugs because of adverse side effects, including death even years after they were FDA approved and on the market. And then there is the over prescription of antibiotics giving rise to new drug resistant infection by "super bugs". From the FDA The Limitations of Safety Data for Drug Approval the following:
"There are hundreds of thousands of adverse events reported via MedWatch each year, but this reporting system is voluntary and there are serious drug reactions that are never reported. Because the nation's healthcare system is not integrated, there is no standard way to track the adverse effects of a medicine in any given health system or across different health systems. Health insurance databases can be helpful in this regard, but they are only accurate as long as a patient has the same job and is enrolled with the same insurance system since many people are insured through their employer. This limits FDA's ability to monitor the safety of medications taken over many years. However, FDA, through its Sentinel Initiative, is currently working to develop capabilities to use data from different health systems to better understand the safety of drugs in clinical practice. " (3)
2. Perhaps a bit trite, but still significant when one considers sales and market trends, the number of books about the effectiveness and theory of homeopathy for sale on Amazon at the time of this writing is 2,772. Of that number, less than 40 are against homeopathy. A search of Amazon's homeopthic remedies today, 9/9/2013, shows 11,233 active listings. (4, 5)
3. Every state in the U.S. now recognizes the practice of homeopathy and homeopathic doctors. (6)
"Every state requires a license for the practice of medicine, the diagnosis and treatment of illness. Consequently states also regulate the practice of homeopathy. Medical doctors and osteopathic doctors are the only professions allowed to diagnose and treat illness in all of the states. There are several states that also license naturopathic physicians to diagnose and treat illness. These states are AK, AZ, CT, HI, ME, NH, OR, UT, VT, WA. Generally, homeopathy can be employed legally by those whose degrees also entitle them to practice medicine in their state. This includes MD's, DO's, ND's, DDS's, DVM's. Some DC's are permitted by their state law to administer homeopathic remedies. Other health care providers such as nurse practitioners, physicians assistants, dentists, veterinarians, chiropractors, licensed acupuncturists, nurse midwives, and podiatrists may be allowed to use homeopathy within the scope of their licenses, depending on the laws of the state in which they reside."
4. The number of online and campus setting teaching courses in all the CAM practices, including homeopathy, is steadily growing. "There are literally dozens of homeopathic training programs offered in states like Delaware, Georgia, California, Washington, New Jersey, Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina, Nevada, Illinois, Oregon, Massachusetts, New York, Minnesota, New Mexico, Connecticut, and Texas." (7)
"The Evolving Role of CAM Integrative Medicine in American Medical Education" (8)
5. The number of cancer research and treatment centers in the U.S. that are using integrative medicine, including homeopathy is also expanding. (9)
"Integrative medicine (blending the best of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) with conventional medicine) is becoming increasingly popular.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...." Charles Dickens had never heard of integrative medicine when he wrote the opening line to his classic text, but it fittingly describes the context in which integrative medicine clinics find themselves today. [2,3] There is increasing evidence that both patients and clinicians see integrative medicine as the best way to provide optimal health care."
6. According to an October 7, 2011 study released by the Chamber of Commerce of India (ASSOCHAM), the world homoeopathy market is a $5.35 billion dollar market and growing at a rapid annual rate. If one multiplies $5.35 billion by just 1.25% annually, without adjustment for inflation, one gets a $1.1 trillion dollar global market by 2035. (10)
7. Homoeopathy is the third most popular method of healing in India, after conventional medicine and Ayurveda. Additionally, the legal status of homeopathy in India shares an equal footing with both modalities.
Nine million people use homoeopathy in Brazil. Homeopathy was recognized as a medical speciality there by the country's Ministry of Medicine Director in 1980.
Countries that offer homeopathy within their national health care system include: Brazil, India, Mexico, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, UK and Switzerland. Countries that recognize homeopathy as a medical specialty and/or system of medicine include Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Equador (rated by WHO as being better in health care than the US), Mexico, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Russia, UK and Switzerland. Homeopathy is established as a primary discrete health care discipline with an in-depth undergraduate education and training program, as well as a professional infrastructure equal to that of conventional medicine in India, Mexico, Pakistan and South Africa. It is also officially recognized in Bangladesh, Singapore, Dubai and Malaysia.
The UAE, Thailand, Cuba, Argentina, Iran, and Russia have granted official recognition to the number of homeopathic teaching institutions, and their research activities are being revitalized.
Australia and New Zealand homeopathy is developing into a complete healthcare profession and is receiving government recognition through positive enabling legislative change. (11, 12 )
8. There are growing numbers of research studies and controlled clinical trials proving the efficacy of homeopathy dating back to January,1988. (13)
9. The homeopathy skeptics are coming under fire. (It's about time). One of the skeptics' top personalities, Brian Dunning was indicted for fraud. (14)
"Who are these so-called Quackbusters?" Consumer Advocate Tim Bolen (15)
10. "Edzard Ernst - Critic Of Homeopathy Exposed" (16)
"We believe that it is time to recognise that opposition to homeopathy is largely based on the opinions of individuals who are unqualified or unwilling to judge the evidence fairly. One person may be right and 2.3 million may be wrong, but this interview confirms the evidence which H:MC21 (Homeopathy of the 21st Century) has already presented, namely that one individual, Edzard Ernst, is not a credible source of information about the effectiveness of homeopathy."
11. "California Superior Court Judge Rules on Quackbuster Credibility"
"This was a case filed by the so-called National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF) against a manufacturer of Homeopathic products. The quackbusters were soundly, and publicly, beaten in this courtroom. The Judge's opinion about top quackbusters Stephen Barrett, and Wallace Sampson is classic." (17)
12. The skeptics talking points have lost their effect from over-use in combination with ridicule and cyber-bullying. (I think I can boast that yours truly has become the fart in the elevator of their minds.) (18)
This comment by Maria Maclachlan the wife of Alan Henness, the director of the Nightingale Collaboration was posted on my fighting for homeopathy blog on Google. At first I thought I would delete it, but decided instead to publish it.
"I recommend a homeopathic remedy to you, Sandra. Excrementum caninum. On the principle that like treats like, I presume it treats shit-for-brains syndrome. Try it and let's see if it makes you any more intelligent.
You are one of the nastiest cult-members I've had the misfortune to come across and it's fair to assume that it's because you don't have a rational argument that you continue to behave in this despicable manner.
So far all I have seen you do is harass, abuse and lie about people who tell the truth about homeopathy - the truth being, of course, that it is a pile of steaming crap that unscrupulous quacks promote in order to line their own pockets.
Your stupidity is boundless and it is no surprise that you believe in magic pills. So what do you ultimately hope to achieve, Sandra? If your objective is to demonstrate the rank idiocy and nastiness of followers of cult of homeopathy, then please carry on because it is behaviour like yours that keeps me going. "
13. The medical journalist and author Jerome Burne of the UK had this to say about the "arrogant batty" (Mr. Burne's terminology) skeptics, particularly the Nightingale Collaboration. (19)
"Step forward the Nightingale Collaboration, earnest and self-styled defender of rationalism, whose seriously potty members have got these categories mixed up. They have picked on something that might, to some, be mildly irritating – homeopathy – and pumped up their dislike into a cause."
To answer the question posed in the title of this editorial opinion. Homeopathy skeptics: how effective are they? Not very....based on current data and facts. That said, a personal note to all the homeopathy skeptics: Your talking points against homeopathy are as dilute as you incorrectly think a 1M potency of any remedy is. You need to work harder.
12. www.globinmed.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=99852 13. http://nationalcenterforhomeopathy.org/articles-research
8/1/13 Can Those Who Oppose Homeopathy at Least be Civil?Many of you who follow this blog know that a few people, including myself, are posting in comment sections to articles that are both for and against homeopathy. What has occurred in the comment sections is not a civil discussion per se but hounding and ridicule by the opposition directed towards anyone who supports homeopathy. It seems that not one person who opposes homeopathy has had a negative experience with their own family homeopath and therefore a legitimate podium from which to speak. But, I digress. What is difficult for me to comprehend is why the intimidation and ridicule other than to stop the posting of anything positive with regard to homeopathy? To me personally, this is nothing more than a form of cyber-bullying. I will include quoted examples of these types of comments, as well as screen shots, at the end of this editorial.
The skeptics claim a variety of reasons for drowning out the positive voices for homeopathy, one being that it prevents people who are seriously ill from seeking legitimate health care. My goodness, people have already died and will continue to die if they abandon conventional medicine that surely would have or will save them! Never mind the lack of statistics to back up this “noble?” claim. There are, however, many patients who can testify otherwise.
One organization involved in challenging all things homeopathic including books on Amazon, homeopaths’ web sites, retailers who sell homeopathic remedies and supporters of homeopathy is the Nightingale Collaboration. There is plenty of information about them and their volunteers here on my blog and elsewhere. They are not the only organization with the means and funds to spend hours online combatting the people they call dupes and imbecils that believe in sugar pills and woo-woo medicine practiced by snake-oil salesmen and charletans. But, I digress.
Some examples of cyber-bullying directed at me personally are quoted below:
“I assume though that the magic water that a homeoquack would offer would be a 100c preparation of SandraCourtney”
“Hmm....Will Sandra answer a question? She rarely answers anything but frequently replies, and in an increasingly vehement and irrational manner, avoiding the question(s) posed. Will she provide evidence? How could she there isn't any that has been any actual presented so far, some studies, but all deficient? Hence I would not hold my breath.”
And then this: “Sandra, Do you believe in the right of everyone to be able to speak freely (i.e. of free speech)? Would you ever try to stop someone from exercising that right? Have you ever tried to stop someone from speaking freely?”
I chose to ignore that question, until now. Certainly I believe in that right. I hope that everyone who speaks favorably about homeopathy, myself included, will be afforded that same right without ridicule, but respect. Some screen shots of cyber-bullying comments:
July 26, 2013
In September, 2012 I started my homeopathynotes blog on Google. It has had over 24,000 visits in less than one year. Fighting-for-homeopathy is my second blog, started in May of this year, 2013. It has had over 5,000 visits in just three months.
I was happy with my first blog until I saw two fear mongering articles about homeopathic remedies in May of this year by Steven Salzberg, Professor of Medicine and Biostatistics in the Institute of Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine. The titles "Poison for Pain, the Homeopathy Way" which you can read HERE and "Homeopathic Medicine Contains Poison" HERE are typical of "poison pen" (pun intended) writers.
I was already aware of the ongoing, and in many cases successful, push by organized groups of skeptics to stop the advertising of homeopathic remedies in pharmacies, on homeopaths' websites and then funding by the NHS for homeopathic hospitals in both England and Scotland. One of the most well known organized groups of the opposition to homeopathy in the UK and Scotland is the "Nightingale Collaboration" which includes smaller groups such as the "Laptop Lizards" and "Skeptics in the Pub". There are many other skeptic and humanistic organizations around the world pushing to ban "sugar pills" and "quack medicine".
On June 26, 2013 there was an article about the "seriously potty members" of the Nightingale Collaboration by a well known author and medical journalist Jerome Burne of the UK. His article "Why Hounding Homeopaths is Both Batty and Arrogant" can be read HERE See more about the Nightingale Collaboration on THIS page of my blog.
I can only speculate that the bashing of homeopathy on the internet and in print media is funded by large drug companies; i.e., "Big Pharma" as well as perhaps large organized medical associations who stand to lose their status and money with the growing interest and successes in homeopathy. History does have a way of repeating itself. More about that HERE
If homeopaths, their organizations, homeopathic patients and manufacturers of homeopathic preparations worldwide are not willing to fight for it, will homeopathy be shoved into the background again? In my opinion, it is a definite possibility.
If you are one of the readers of my blog, I want to personally thank you for your visit and encourage you to speak out in favor of homeopathy. The time is now, today, this week, this month, this year. Please visit the links I post to articles, both negative and positive, about homeopathy on the Current Debates page of this blog HERE
There is power and influence in numbers. Spend a minute or two to visit an article, mark a "thumbs up" on a supporter of homeopathy's comments, make a short comment yourself or if you cannot do that, please alert others.
This comment (screen shot) was made today, 7/29/13 to the Steven Salzberg article "Homeopathic Medicine Contains Poison" with an inspiring story about how just one homeopathic remedy made a dramatic change in this person's life. I can only speculate that he/she read this editorial. If only more people would comment on articles with similar stories, it would make a dramatic difference! I took a screen shot for ease of posting. Enjoy.
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