August 27, 2005

Homeopathy is Humbuggery

The clinical benefits attributed to homeopathic treatment are merely placebo effects, according to the authors of a report in The Lancet medical journal.

[…]Dr. Matthias Egger, from the University of Berne in Switzerland, and associates searched 19 electronic databases covering the period from 1995 to 2003 to identify scientific trials of homeopathy, and matched them with trials in conventional medicine.

[…]Egger and his colleagues say the results provide “no convincing evidence that homeopathy was superior to placebo, whereas for conventional medicine an important effect remained.”

Basically, when the data is viewed in an unbiased way, it turns out to be bunk. The results reported in “alternative”-friendly journals turn out to be the results of flawed research methods:

“Surely the time has passed for selective analyses, biased reports, or further investment in research to perpetuate the homeopathy versus allopathy debate.”

Put a fork in homeopathy already. It’s done.

Posted by James at August 27, 2005 7:39 AM
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Posted by: Chuck S. at August 27, 2005 5:17 PM

Word to that.

Posted by: Man Robot MONSTER! at August 27, 2005 10:55 PM

The Lancet essay also urged doctors to spend more time with their patients, you know, learning their names and stuff, fully admitting "the failings of modern medicine to address patientsí needs for personalised care." I wouldn't tell the boxers I know that they're wasting their money on arnica (a "homeopathic" remedy used for muscle soreness and bruises). Lancet is often held (okay, by a British doctor I know) as a shill for "Big Pharma." People (both the misinformed and the well-informed) are spending more money on alternative therapies and "honest druggists" don't want to lose any more money to "witch doctors." I don't discount honest scientific trials, but herb growers shouldn't be too worried.
Salads are making a big comeback.

Posted by: ThirdMate at August 28, 2005 11:43 AM

Modern medicine isn't perfect, and nobody I know says it is, even practitioners. Nobody should expect it to be. However, in all its vaunted time on this planet, homeopathy and other humbuggery has never come up with, say, a treatment for my daughter's dermatomyositis.

Arnica is an herbal remedy. I don't believe it follows the "homeopathic" model as I understand it -- one in which you dilute a substance down far beyond its ability to have any effect by any means known to measurement.

Herbal remedies are more of a gray area. My argument with them is different. I think that people should be allowed to take whatever they like and act as their own doctors. However, from close observation of people over the span of my life, it's a bad idea for most people to be doing so. To each is own.

And, yeah, there are doctors who I don't think are fit to prescribe, either. I've been lucky enough to have had enough experience with doctors (and discarding the bad) to know you have to be selective. If you can.

My daughter's degenerative muscle disorder would likely not have been diagnosed properly if we'd been happy with our first pede. Little did we know that, years later, this would make a difference between life or death, ability or disability. Of course, when chosing a doctor we did act as if it were that important, but nobody knows the future. It was our doctor, in disagreement with 2 others, who sent us to Boston with a suspected diagnosis of a rare disease, early enough that it made a huge difference in what was to follow.

Muscle soreness? OK. So, what are the long term side effects? If it's acting on the immune system, who's to say you won't end up with adult myositis some time down the road? How about liver action? If it's strong enough to help, it's strong enough to do other things.

That the Lancet is at least trying to give advice on the shortcomings of medical practice shows a strength of modern medicine, not a weakness. In the mumbo-jumbo world I rarely hear any self-criticism.

I can't even turn the local radio on anymore when the subject starts to turn that direction. It's all self-promoting propaganda.

Are doctors and the modern medical world arrogant? You bet they are. Overly arrogant? Probably. But, considering the success rate, they get a good deal of leeway from me.

There is bruising and then there are the real boogey monsters of this world. Heaven help us if we are ever left in the hands of homeopathy and other humbuggery to face them.

Posted by: James at August 28, 2005 2:31 PM

Ah, homeopathy. Why do we have such a desire to find "natural" treatments? When did we all decide to eschew pharmaceuticals in favor of, say, bits of flowers grown in the back yard (yes, that's a poke at echinacea, which was just proven to be bunk)?

When I was first diagnosed with MS, my landlord swore that all I needed was a chiropracter. Nice try, but I'll take the drugs.

Who among us remembers laetrile, the 1970s "miracle cure for cancer" that was made from peach pits, and available only in Mexico?

Homeopathy really is bunk. I can just hear the supplement manufacturers screaming.

Say, I've got a bridge for sale...

Posted by: Patti M. at August 29, 2005 9:37 AM

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