James McEnaney: Why NHS Scotland should stop wasting money on homeopathy

CommonSpace columnist James McEnaney says fresh news about NHS Scotland's funding of homeopathy treatment in Scotland should prompt serious questions

OVER the weekend a story was published by The Scotsman which, by all rights, should have provoked a far stronger response.

The revelation, for those who missed it, is this: NHS Scotland is spending nearly PS2m a year on funding for the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital (also known euphemistically as the Centre for Integrative Care).

Homeopathy was invented in 1796 by Samuel Hahnemann. It is predicated on the belief that 'like cures like' and that a substance which would cause illness in a healthy person can, if diluted to the point where what you are left with is literally just expensive water, lead to recovery in others.

Unsurprisingly, there is no evidence that combinations of magic water and sugar tablets are an effective form of healthcare.

Homeopaths believe - or at least claim to believe - that water is able to 'remember' the substances that they have dissolved into it while simultaneously forgetting every other material - including, but not limited to, human faeces - it has ever come into contact with.

It is, in no uncertain terms, quackery (although if you feel that you need more information you should visit www.howdoeshomeopathywork.com ).

Unsurprisingly, there is no evidence that combinations of magic water and sugar tablets are an effective form of healthcare: although a small number of individual trials have claimed to offer proof of homeopathy's efficacy, large-scale analysis of all available data has repeatedly found no evidence that homeopathy offers anything other than a placebo effect.

Homeopathy has been described as "witchcraft" by members of the British Medical Association and dismissed by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee on the grounds that there is "no evidence that homeopathy is effective as a treatment for any health condition".

Chair of BMA Scotland Dr Peter Bennie has stated that no further NHS funding should be available for a treatment which has "no scientific evidence base to support its use".

Chair of BMA Scotland Dr Peter Bennie has stated that no further NHS funding should be available for a treatment which has "no scientific evidence base to support its use".

Despite all of this, homeopathy remains a genuine - if niche - treatment option in Scotland, one which sees PS2m of public money callously frittered away at a time of severe cutbacks and financial pressure. Such waste is simply unjustifiable on either financial or ethical grounds.

Of course, supporters of pseudo-science are never hard to find. One of the frequently flourished defences of state-funded homeopathy is the idea of 'patient choice' - if someone, a taxpayer, wishes to be treated with homeopathy then surely they should have that right - right?

Well, perhaps, but only if the same rights are to be extended to pretty much any baseless belief that you care to name. Healing crystals? Mercury treatment? Blood-letting? Long-distance reiki? Snake oil? No problem! Just fill in this form and the NHS will get right on that for you! It is demonstrably absurd, yet - in the 21st century - it is also an expensive reality.

Another (equally ludicrous) defence of prescription magic is that the sums being spent don't actually amount to very much in the grand scheme of things; without a hint of irony, supporters of homeopathy will describe its cost as a 'drop in the ocean'.

This is, to be fair, entirely correct: NHS Scotland has an annual budget of approximately PS12bn a year, meaning that spending on homeopathy accounts for around 0.015 per cent of total expenditure.

Despite all of this, homeopathy remains a genuine - if niche - treatment option in Scotland, one which sees PS2m of public money callously frittered away at a time of severe cutbacks and financial pressure.

And it is still scandalous.

Why? Because PS2m could pay the annual wages of 22 GPs, 90 nurses or 125 care workers. It could be used to support the education of young people forced to spend extended periods in hospital. It could help to fund a national campaign to boost the number of regular blood donors in Scotland.

Or it could help people like Katie Milby, a 13 year old whose fight for continued access to the life-enhancing drug Vimizim is about to go before the Scottish Parliament after the Scottish Medicines Consortium decided that the manufacturer "did not provide a sufficiently robust economic analysis" of its benefits.

Katie suffers from a rare degenerative condition called Morquio A which affects just five people in Scotland and has no known cure; she now faces the prospect of being unable to access a drug proven to work but apparently too expensive to be 'cost effective'.

The money spent on homeopathy by NHS Scotland could fund her treatment several times over and offer genuine, life-changing improvements rather than imaginary ones.

The next step should be the end of NHS funding for homeopathy. Such a move would no doubt be controversial, but it is also without doubt the right thing to do.

But homeopathy is not just an expensive fantasy, it is also potentially harmful. When offered through the NHS these 'treatments' are used alongside real medicine, but this arrangement simply legitimises pseudo-science more generally, increasing the likelihood of people rejecting genuine medical care altogether in favour of baseless and exploitative advice from a homeopathist (or, to use the proper scientific term, charlatan).

Thankfully some health boards are already refusing to fund further homeopathic treatment, and Lothian Health Board has just emerged victorious from a court case where its decision to withdraw backing for homeopathy had been challenged.

This is a good start, but the next step should be the end of NHS funding for homeopathy. Such a move would no doubt be controversial, but it is also without doubt the right thing to do.

Picture courtesy of rosefirerising

Comments

Fran C (not verified)

Thu, 09/24/2015 - 20:23

The Homeopathic Hospital offers relief to many patients with chronic illness that conventional medicine cannot help. Homeopathic medicine is only a fraction of the treatment on offer there which is mostly paid for by the patients themselves as very few GP's will prescribe them on the NHS. The support, understanding and courses in self management there are a life saver for many struggling with chronic pain and long term illness. What is a far greater waste of money are the many costly drugs prescribed which do not actually work and only benefit the corrupt drugs companies.

Alan Henness (not verified)

Thu, 09/24/2015 - 20:31

@Fran C

If the GHH does indeed 'offer relief to many patients with chronic illness that conventional medicine cannot help', then presumably there will be some good evidence for this?

Fran C (not verified)

Thu, 09/24/2015 - 20:41

There's a lot of evidence to show that many drugs are ineffective. And yes there have been studies on the positive results of mindfulness on physical and mental health and there are other issues to do with diet etc that are taught there. Some of the information given on the courses is quite radical and political, looking at the corruption in the food and drugs industries. Most GPs are in favour of a more holistic approach to health. I would say we need more of this not less.

Fran C (not verified)

Thu, 09/24/2015 - 20:50

There is also much attention given to how living in a driven society is making us ill. Given our health record in Scotland this alternative viewpoint is desperately needed and should be given our support. A hospital that sees the link between compassion and wellbeing is something we should value not condemn.

Alan Henness (not verified)

Thu, 09/24/2015 - 21:12

@Fran C

The effectiveness or otherwise of other drugs or the behaviour of drug companies aren't the questions here: this is about what is offered at the GHH and homeopathy in particular. The recent review by NHS Lanarkshire showed the paucity of the evidence for homeopathy and their other offerings - which is why they ended referrals to the GHH.

Also, although stress is a factor in many medical conditions, and I'm sure we'd all like to see GPs and doctors have more time to spend with us (and doctors are well aware of this link), that still leaves homeopathy with no good evidence it has any specific effect over placebo and therefore no justification for providing it.

Autism Rights's picture

Autism Rights

Thu, 09/24/2015 - 22:11

I hold no brief for homeopathy, or any other medical treatment, but it has been effective for me and my family on the 3 occasions that we've used it - when aleopathic medicine either did not work, or when homeopathy was the least worst option.

Perhaps James and the readers of this article may care to read about Study 329 and the various frauds that have demonstrated how modern research into drugs (since about 1980) is based on evidence that cannot be verified. When medical research uses ghost writing, publication bias and much else that is best described by Prof. Healy (see below), it can truly be said that modern medical science, particularly research into the drugs used in psychiatry, is market-led. As Healy has pointed out, this very bad science has led to a situation where new antibiotics are not being developed, and there is far more money spent on marketing drugs than on research.

I urge readers to go to these weblinks and read for themselves about the parlous state of drug research. It will challenge all of your assumptions about drug safety and efficacy. I also urge you to read Dr. Peter Gordon's blog, to see that Scotland has particular problems - with no register of the commercial interests of doctors or other `decision makers` in healthcare, and no proper register of the commercial interests of those who write some of the national clinical guidelines. I've also added weblinks to the 2 articles that I wrote for Newsnet Scotland, at the time of the Mental Health Bill's passage through the Scottish Parliament, to give some further context and information. I've also linked to the recent CEPUK conference with a fairly self-explanatory title - More Harm than Good: Confronting the Psychiatric Medication Epidemic.

http://study329.org/
http://davidhealy.org/study-329-mk-hk-sk-gsk-history/
http://www.madinamerica.com/
https://holeousia.wordpress.com/2015/09/14/nhs-scotland-advisory-board-m...
http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/hard-pill-swallow-report...
http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/campaigners-call-action-...
More Harm than Good: Confronting the Psychiatric Medication Epidemic
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8eIK8kuf7tht1gV1HApH0g

Alan Henness (not verified)

Thu, 09/24/2015 - 22:23

@Fiona Sinclair

As I pointed out to Fran C, any problems with drugs (including paroxetine) or 'Big Pharma' does not change the lack of any good evidence that homeopathy has any specific effects over placebo.

On your other point, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council put it well:

"It is not possible to tell whether a health treatment is effective or not simply by considering individuals' experiences or healthcare practitioners' beliefs. One reason personal testimonials are not reliable is that people may experience health benefits because they believe that a treatment is effective. This is known as the 'placebo effect'. Another reason is that healthcare practitioners cannot always tell whether changes in a person's health condition are due to the treatment or some other reason. For these reasons, medicines must be tested in a planned, structured scientific research project designed to prevent these kinds of experiences giving the false impression that a medicine is more or less effective than it really is."

"A treatment is considered effective for treating a health condition if it meets all of these key criteria:
the treatment causes health improvements that cannot be explained by the placebo effect;
health improvements that occur in people taking the treatment are unlikely to be due to chance;
the health improvements caused by the treatment are meaningful for a person's overall health;
and the health improvement occurs consistently in several studies."

https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/cam02a_in...

Homeopathy has been thoroughly tested to these criteria. It fails completely.

Fran C (not verified)

Thu, 09/24/2015 - 22:51

If it's wasting NHS money you're worried about you should surely be more worried by Big Pharma - most drugs tests are carried out by the drugs companies themselves. When patients who are suffering find relief in a harmless alternative that is good reason to provide it. It makes no sense that an ineffective drug should be prescribed just because it is licensed. As I said above there is scientific evidence to show that other approaches (like meditation for instance) provided at the CIC have positive physiological effects on the brain and body. There is also increasing evidence to show how changing thinking patterns, which is also taught there, can have a profound effect on symptoms.

Autism Rights's picture

Autism Rights

Thu, 09/24/2015 - 22:57

Alan - you haven't got it, have you? The point in giving you the Study 329 weblink - and the others - was to demonstrate that the case you are making against homeopathy has been superceded. When a research paper in a peer-review journal can use those with the highest status in their profession to give their approval for a drug when they haven't even seen the data on which their approval is based, and the author of the paper is an industry ghost-writer, there is something far wrong - especially when we now know through the work of the Study 329 team that the same data actually provides us with conclusions that are completely the opposite of those who put their names to the original research paper!

There is no government or quasi-governmental body in the UK, US or indeed the EU that has access to data from clinical trials - so those who fund these trials can pretty much claim what they want - as they did with Study 329 - and there is no comeback for those who suffer and die because of such fraud.

And you're bleating on about `sugar pills`!

Alan Henness (not verified)

Thu, 09/24/2015 - 22:58

@Fran C

I am concerned about the NHS wasting money in several areas. However, this article is about homeopathy.

But I note you haven't said what evidence you're referring to nor why you believe the 'alternatives' are harmless, so it's difficult to look at it and discuss it.

Alan Henness (not verified)

Thu, 09/24/2015 - 23:09

@Fiona Sinclair

No. As I have said - and as has not been refuted - problems with one thing does not mean some other things has the same problems. To take a topical example, problems with VW cars' emissions because they cheated the tests does not mean that all manufacturers also cheated. Perhaps there are some others who have, but you need to look at each one individually and decide on the evidence, not on any prejudiced notion that because one is corrupt they all must be.

You do support the All Trials campaign, don't you?

Fran C (not verified)

Fri, 09/25/2015 - 10:53

The article is really about whether the CIC should be funded. As I said initially homeopathic medicine is only a fraction of treatments given there and this has to be paid for by patients themselves.

Alan Henness (not verified)

Fri, 09/25/2015 - 11:50

You say the homeopathy 'medicines' have to be paid for by patients: can you provide evidence for this? Indeed, Honor Watt still seems to having her Bach flower product and her homeopathic mushrooms paid for by NHS Lanarkshire.

But still no good justification for spending PS2 million on homeopathy or anything else.

Fran C (not verified)

Fri, 09/25/2015 - 12:18

I go to the CIC as an outpatient as increasing conventional medicines were adding to my physical problems. If homeopathic medicines are suggested to me it is made clear that I have to send away and pay for them myself as NHS do not fund it.

Dana Ullman (not verified)

Fri, 09/25/2015 - 13:14

It is common for skeptics to point to the Australian government's report on homeopathy, but they NEVER mention that this was an extremely biased report that ignored ANY study that was less than 150 subjects, even the numerous high-quality randomized double-blind and placebo controlled trials that have been published in many of the best medical journals in the world, including: Lancet, BMJ, Chest (the publication of the American College of Chest Physicians), Rheumatology (the publication of the British Society for Rheumatology), Pediatrics (publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics), Cancer (journal of the American Cancer Society), Pediatrics Infectious Disease Journal (publication of the European Society of Pediatric Infectious Diseases), European Journal of Pediatrics (publication of the Swiss Society of Pediatrics and the Belgium Society of Pediatrics), and numerous others.

If these skeptics were serious about not covering medical treatments that haven't been proven to be effective, then they would be as vocally active in working to stop reimbursement for the 89% (!) of medical treatments that the BMJ has deemed to be not effective and/or dangerous. And for the record, the BMJ has evaluated over 3,000 medical treatments, and they deem that studies should have only 20 subjects. Needless to say, if they required 150 subjects for their evaluations, they probably only 1% to 5% of ALL medical treatments would be deemed to be effective. Is it convenient that skeptics of homeopathy ignore these issues? Curious, eh?

Alan Henness (not verified)

Fri, 09/25/2015 - 14:22

Oh dear, Dana.

I'm sure homeopathy enthusiasts would like to include all trials that have been carried out - including those with just a handful of subjects - but they never do manage to come up with a cogent rationale for including the trials known to be biased, those of poor quality, those using homeopathy products that still contain measurable amounts of the original substance, those that are so poor, they would be rejected as a High School science project...

But since you mention The Lancet, it's worth highlighting what alternative medicine researchers Klaus Linde and Wayne Jonas said in that journal in 2005:

"We agree (with Shang et al) that homoeopathy is highly implausible and that the evidence from placebo-controlled trials is not robust... Our 1997 meta-analysis has unfortunately been misused by homoeopaths as evidence that their therapy is proven." [1]

His follow-up 1999 study to the 1997 meta-analysis he mentions stated:

"The evidence of bias [in homeopathic trials] weakens the findings of our original meta-analysis. Since we completed our literature search in 1995, a considerable number of new homeopathy trials have been published. The fact that a number of the new high-quality trials... have negative results, and a recent update of our review for the most "original" subtype of homeopathy (classical or individualized homeopathy), seem to confirm the finding that more rigorous trials have less-promising results. It seems, therefore, likely that our meta-analysis at least overestimated the effects of homeopathic treatments." [2]

Your ignorance of how the NHS works is obvious, of course, as is your account of the bmj's clinical evidence summary. But even if it was true that, in considering the evidence, only 11% of medical treatments were effective, that would still be 11 percentage points higher than that of homeopathy.

But, on the plus side, at least you're no longer touting the hilariously wrong, 'Swiss Government' Health Technology Assessment (HTA) report that was neither by the Swiss Government, nor was it an HTA, nor was it independent, nor robust, nor comprehensive...

References

1. Are the clinical effects of homoeopathy placebo effects? Linde, Klaus et al. The Lancet , Volume 366 , Issue 9503 , 2081 - 2082 http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(05)67878-6/fulltext

2. Linde, K, M Scholz, G Ramirez, N Clausius, D Melchart, and W B Jonas. "Impact of Study Quality on Outcome in Placebo-Controlled Trials of Homeopathy." Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 52, no. 7 (July 1999): 631-36.

sandra hermann-... (not verified)

Fri, 09/25/2015 - 14:28

The effectiveness of homeopathy has proven itself for over 200 years. Skeptics have claimed that homeopathy is a waste of money within the NHS, but have not submitted figures documenting that claim. I would like to know "Where's the evidence?" for that bold claim, or should I say "opinion".....

Dana Ullman (not verified)

Fri, 09/25/2015 - 14:38

Alan Henness You continue to embarrass yourself by quoting the Linde article because you have NEVER shown or quoted anything from Linde that says that newer research eliminated the significance they found between results from homeopathic treatment and placebo. Linde has only said that the significance was reduce, not eliminated. Further, both Linde and Jonas have written strongly in the Lancet against the Shang meta-analysis that suggested that homeopathic medicines are placebos. Isn't it curious that you didn't quote them on THIS subject...but heck, when a person is as biased as you are, you lose your credibility and any objective rationale.

And back to the BMJ, do you want the NHS to stop funding ALL medical treatments that are not effective and/or are dangerous? If not, why not? And when you consider that there are virtually no double-blind placebo controlled trials on surgical procedures, are you suggesting that the NHS now stop funding any surgical procedures? To clarify, I am NOT against defunding surgical procedures because I believe that there are numerous ways in which medical procedures can be evaluated, not just double-blind and placebo controlled trials.

Alan Henness (not verified)

Fri, 09/25/2015 - 14:41

Sandra

Please refer to my previous comment about the unreliability of unverified and unverifiable anecdotes.

Your suggestion that skeptics (whoever they are) are making a claim that homeopathy is a waste of money is hilarious of course and as an attempt to reverse the burden of proof, fails miserably: it is the homeopathy enthusiasts who claim homeopathy works, yet are unable to provide a jot of good robust, independent evidence.

Alan Henness (not verified)

Fri, 09/25/2015 - 14:45

Dana

I note you don't provide any citations or evidence for your accusations but would rather talk about something - anything - other than the evidence for homeopathy...

Dana Ullman (not verified)

Fri, 09/25/2015 - 14:47

Alan Henness has asked for "evidence" that the treatment offered by the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital has provided benefits. Is anyone else here shocked by his request because he KNOWS (!) that there have been at least four studies from David Reilly (2 of which were published in the BMJ and 1 of which was published in the Lancet...in 1986!!!) showing impressive results in the treatment of hay fever, asthma (!), and allergic rhinitis. Here's a link to the fourth study which also summarizes the results from the 3 previous studies: Taylor, MA, Reilly, D, Llewellyn-Jones, RH, et al., Randomised controlled trial of homoeopathy versus placebo in perennial allergic rhinitis with overview of four trial Series, BMJ, August 19, 2000, 321:471-476.

My additional point here is that Alan Henness is verifying that he shows "bad faith" and a desire to mis-inform people by pretending to not know about this research. In fact, I wonder how anyone can take him seriously at all. I'm done talking with him here.

Alan Henness (not verified)

Fri, 09/25/2015 - 15:06

Dana

It's not up to me to post all the many papers that have shown that homeopathy doesn't match the claims made for it, is it? So far you have failed to show any good evidence, but let's take a very quick look at that Taylor et al. trial you cited. You are aware of the criticisms of it, aren't you, Dana? And you do realise it had just 50 subjects? But perhaps you can say whether Reilly submitted this 'impressive' evidence to the board of NHS Lanarkshire when they were considering whether or not to cease finding?

But instead of cherry picking individual trials, we have to get back to what the totality of the best evidence says, don't we?

sandra hermann-... (not verified)

Fri, 09/25/2015 - 15:30

Dana, Pay no attention to Alan Henness. He has spent endless time trying to debunk everything, including a healthy diet to fight cancer, even a mention of watercress in a cooking magazine! http://goo.gl/wK73nR

Alan Henness (not verified)

Fri, 09/25/2015 - 15:33

Ah! Another one that would rather we talked about anything other than homeopathy...

Dana Ullman (not verified)

Fri, 09/25/2015 - 15:56

Oh...how convenient Alan Henness' memory and logic is. He mentioned ONE trial published in the BMJ that showed significant improvements from homeopathy...but he conveniently neglected to mention that when you add up the FOUR trials that David Reilly conducted, it was over 250 subjects. And for the record, numerous independent researchers have deemed Reilly's research to be "high quality" (as did the Lancet AND the BMJ). But who are you going to believe, independent researchers and the Lancet and the BMJ, or believe Alan Henness? You don't need to be a rocket scientist here.

Alan Henness (not verified)

Fri, 09/25/2015 - 15:58

Oh dear, Dana, oh dear.

Roslyn Ross (not verified)

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 05:23

The subjectivity of this article, combined with the ignorance regarding Homeopathy is shameful for any media site.

The naysayers are consistent in demonstrating ignorance and prejudice, neither of which fit with the much claimed rigour of science or the objective integrity of journalism.

Roslyn Ross (not verified)

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 06:13

What puts the anti-Homeopathy brigade in deep water is that Homeopathy is practised by MD's and in hospitals around the world; taught in medical schools and universities and embraced officially by Governments as part of their medical systems.

Most people know that if Homeopathy were ineffective or pure placebo that none of this would happen because those using it would be engaging in fraudulent and dangerous behaviour and science, medicine, academia and Government are all loathe to look stupid or be sued. Ergo, Homeopathy works and that is why it is used and embraced by such organisations.

Alan Henness and the other naysayers can wriggle all they like but there is no getting away from the reality that if they were right, homeopathy would be rejected completely by every doctor, hospital, medical school, university and government in the world and it is not. In fact, quite the opposite.

Roslyn Ross (not verified)

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 11:15

I would also ask a question of James McEnaney in regard to the process he undertook in regard to researching Homeopathy.

Can I ask what books out of the many thousands on Homeopathic history, methodology and practice you have read and which Homeopathic doctors you consulted in terms for insight into how Homeopathy is practised in Scotland? Were these Homeopaths also qualified MD's or did you only talk to Homeopaths who were not also Allopathically trained?

I would also be curious to know what your personal experience of Homeopathy is, if any. Not because personal experience is required but because sometimes people see a Naturopath who does a bit of Homeopathy on the side and fail to understand that Homeopathy is highly complex and actually requires the full attention of any practitioner and cannot be effectively done 'on the side.'

Homeopathic training takes around four years but is half the time for those who are already qualified as MD's, as quite a few are.

Presuming that you have done your research as a journalist and are therefore qualified to form an opinion regarding Homeopathy, can you take us through your information source and base and explain how and why you reached the conclusion that Homeopathy is ineffective and of no use?

Many thanks.

Alan Henness (not verified)

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 11:58

@Roslyn Ross

It's a pity you don't bother to say what it is you believe the author got wrong, instead of resorting to abuse...

But I don't suppose there's any point in me pointing out you use of logical fallacies, is there?

Roslyn Ross (not verified)

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 12:12

@ Alan Henness, you might need to clarify which part of any of my posts represented abuse. Pointing out sloppy journalism where it exists is not abuse. And resorting to the tedious labelling of comments because you cannot make a sound case against what I have said reflects on you, not me.

Alan Henness (not verified)

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 12:23

Oh, don't you think that questioning a journalist's integrity over his research, subjectivity and his apparent ignorance without actually bothering to say what it it you believe he got wrong is abuse? All you've done is regale us with lots of hand waving flummery - can you now be specific and point out what it is James got wrong in the article? Backed up with sound argument and evidence, of course.

Roslyn Ross (not verified)

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 13:14

Alan Henness, after many years as an editor, journalist and sub-editor, it is not hard to find the subjective insubstantiality of this piece. He has qualified nothing and merely repeated a position sourced in apparent ignorance and subjective prejudice. Hence I have asked for details on what research he did since from appearances he has done little or none.

For example he said:

"Homeopathy was invented in 1796 by Samuel Hahnemann. It is predicated on the belief that 'like cures like' and that a substance which would cause illness in a healthy person ...."

Simplistic, subjective and actually wrong in terms of his comment about a 'substance' causing illness....

and....

...." can, if diluted to the point where what you are left with is literally just expensive water,"

highly subjective and a personal comment which any good sub-editor would have removed because it is not substantiated and reveals prejudice.

He also said:

"Homeopaths believe - or at least claim to believe - that water is able to 'remember' the substances that they have dissolved into it while simultaneously forgetting every other material - including, but not limited to, human faeces - it has ever come into contact with."

No they do not. He provides no substantive links proving this is what 'Homeopaths' believe and reveals ignorance regarding various theories about how Homeopathy works, and absolute ignorance regarding any theory which might involve the capacity of water, through a process, to record, retain, release information.

He also said:

"It is, in no uncertain terms, quackery (although if you feel that you need more information you should visit www.howdoeshomeopathywork.com)."

The use of the term quackery reveals high subjectivity and a complete lack of rigorous objectivity, again unsubstantiated, and he then links to a site which is simply mockery of Homeopathy.

Any decent sub-editor would have demanded he substantiate this claim and remove the childish mockery.

I could go on. The remaining article follows in the same vein and lacks professionalism, objectivity, credibility and substance.

Alan Henness (not verified)

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 13:20

LOL! That is, at least, vaguely amusing.

Roslyn Ross (not verified)

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 13:58

Alan Henness, your amusement is just an indicator that you cannot counter my claims because they have substance.

Alan Henness (not verified)

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 14:16

I'll just leave you with that delusion but remind you of the direction of the burden of proof.

Fran C (not verified)

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 19:54

Alan are you as angry at the millions of pounds the NHS spends on ineffective and dangerous drugs?

Alan Henness (not verified)

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 20:05

@Fran C Yes. That's why I was one of the first to sign up to the All Trials campaign that aims to make sure we have access to all the data from all trials (including homeopathy, herbals, etc, of course) so that we can ensure they are hiding nothing.

You? Are you as angry at the millions of pounds the NHS spends on ineffective and possibly harmful homeopathy sugar pellets?

Fran C (not verified)

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 20:15

NHS aren't paying for mine. And I'm not sure they're paying for anyone else's. I haven't used any that are harmful but have used a lot of prescribed drugs that are. The other treatments I have had at CIC have improved my quality of life greatly and have resulted in me needing less prescribed drugs. That's a success and definitely worth funding.

Alan Henness (not verified)

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 20:34

Oh, the NHS does pay for the sugar pellets and water. Honor Watt still gets her prescriptions for her Bach alcohol and her two homeopathic mushroom products, but overall, in the NHS in England, in 2014, 10,238 prescription items for homeopathy products were fulfilled in community pharmacies at a total cost of PS110,438, which is PS10.79 per item. [1]

However, that is down a whopping 94% in the last 17 years...

Reference

1. Health and Social Care Information Centre, National Statistics
Prescription Cost Analysis, England - 2014, April 08, 2015, http://www.hscic.gov.uk/searchcatalogue?productid=17711&q=title%3a%22pre...

Fran C (not verified)

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 20:47

Sugar pellets and water tablets dangerous? I would start by making cuts on the drugs that are dangerous. And then put more money into the treatments that seem to be helping people away from needing so many drugs in the first place.

Alan Henness (not verified)

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 20:52

That's a good idea (but maybe you don't understand the harm-benefit balance?), but, sadly, there's no good evidence that homeopathy can help in any way. But don't misunderstand: the sugar pills/water - if properly manufactured - are not what's potentially harmful.

Fran C (not verified)

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 21:17

I understand that the danger described in the article is that people might reject conventional medicines, though I wouldn't necessarily call them 'genuine' as the author has. I think that this rejection is the result of people's lack of trust in them whether because they have found them ineffective and/or to have caused them added problems. Personally after a lifetime of trial and error I use a combination, although as I mentioned already my use of prescription drugs has dropped significantly since attending the CIC. Recently I sat in a group of people suffering chronic pain, many of whom found the use of arnica gave them relief, and less of the problems of strong painkillers. A representative of the Pain Clinic was giving a talk and we were told that arnica could not be licensed as the evidence was only anecdotal. I could sense the despair in the room. In the same talk he spoke of how painkillers become ineffective. I came away wondering why the ineffective treatment should be the one that's licensed.

Alan Henness (not verified)

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 21:28

Wrong. Arnica is licensed. In homeopathic form it is both registered under the Homeopathy (Simplified) Rules scheme and authorised under the National Rules scheme. (Some Arnica herbal products are also licensed.) However, neither the HR nor the NR schemes require a jot of scientific evidence that the products are efficacious - unlike 'conventional' medicines that do have to provide robust evidence of efficacy and safety.

Fran C (not verified)

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 21:56

So why are so many conventional medicines dangerous and ineffective?

Fran C (not verified)

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 22:02

And I wonder why the Pain Clinic (which isn't the CIC) give wrong info on arnica.

Alan Henness (not verified)

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 22:09

The information I gave you can be verified on the MHRA's website so you might like to ask the GHH.

Roslyn Ross (not verified)

Sun, 09/27/2015 - 08:28

@Fran C, Alan Henness will not answer your eminently sensible questions because his sole goal is to decry Homeopathy and he appears utterly unconcerned that one of the major killers today, second in the US and fourth and rising in most other developed and heavily medicalised countries, is iatrogenic - doctor or medical induced (Allopathic) - most of it from pharmaceuticals.

If Homeopathy had a kill-rate like that of Allopathy it would have been banned long ago. Allopathy as one of the top three killers and at this rate, soon to be Number One, is backed by huge financial agendas within the science/medical industries.

The focus is on profit, not people. And Alan wonders why billions are turning to non-Allopathic medical modalities, Homeopathy included. It is not surprising that Homeopathy is the second most used medical modality after Allopathy and the fastest growing. It cures without the risk of killing you - a claim Allopathic medicine cannot make.

Alan Henness (not verified)

Sun, 09/27/2015 - 10:54

@Roslyn Ros

Did I miss one? Please point it out.

But I'll thank you not to jump to any conclusions about what concerns me - you really have no idea. But - and although nothing to do with this article - please also provide evidence for your assertion about the top killers.

However, if you want to bring up the numbers of iatrogenic deaths, please only do so if you also detail the numbers of lives saved by conventional medicine, the number of people living longer and with a higher quality of life because of conventional medicine, the number of babies who survive birth because of conventional medicine and the number of those who are suffering less and in less pain because of conventional medicine.

And then give the same numbers for homeopathy so we can make a proper comparison.

And for your assertion about millions turning to 'non-allopathic' medical modalities' (whatever that means), please also feel free to provide good evidence for that.

Roslyn Ross (not verified)

Sun, 09/27/2015 - 12:09

@Alan Henness,

No one denies that the mechanical skills in Allopathic medicine, particularly in regard to surgery are invaluable. However more healing and less harm would be done if less chemical drugs were used and more Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Herbal, Nutritional medicines were utilised.

It is correct that Allopathic medicine because of its mechanical skills has been instrumental in saving people suffering trauma from accidents in particular, but in terms of disease and health it has been an abject failure with cancer rates now at one in two from one in more than ten in 1900 and rates of serious and chronic disease higher than ever before and even higher in children. If Allopathic medicine were such a success, people would be healthier and they are not.

Being medicated for life or having parts regularly removed from your body is neither cure nor health.

And that Allopathic medicine should be amongst the top three killers is truly criminal and a disgrace. Most deaths are sourced in prescribed medications.

http://www.yourmedicaldetective.com/public/335.cfm

People are not living longer in terms of the human capacity to live to a certain age as research into Egyptian and South American mummies reveal. More people are surviving infancy and childhood and that artificially 'boosts' longevity, but that is because of improved nutrition, sanitation and hygiene. Government records quite clearly reveal these improvements cause mortality rates and epidemic instances to plummet when they are instituted. The UK has Government data from 1830 and the US and other Western nations from a few decades later.

The greatest boost to human health and life was not modern medicine but modern sanitation and hygiene and improved nutrition.

One of the biggest killers by the way of babies and mothers in childbirth were doctors and their backward hygiene habits. Once doctors came to understand that moving from dissecting a cadaver to delivering a baby, something any traditional healer would have always known, was not a good idea, the death rate dropped dramatically.

There is no doubt that analgesics have brought improvements in surgery and dentistry but there is also no doubt that herbal and homeopathic medicines can achieve the same results, as can acupuncture without the damage done by Allopathic drugs. The US military is now using acupuncture for battlefield trauma and pain.

The nation which consumes most of the world's pharmaceuticals including 80% of painkillers, the US, has the worst health and the worst infant mortality rates - worse than some Third World nations.

I have no interest in tossing up data for you to reject from a basis of high subjectivity and prejudice. My goal is simply to refute your misinformation on the basis that there are others of open-mind who can pursue research after reading my posts, if they so choose.

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