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In honor of World Homeopathy Awareness Week 2010

Today, April 10, is the first day of World Homeopathy Awareness Week (WHAW), or, as I like to call it, World Sympathetic Magic Awareness Week. This week long “celebration” runs from today until April 16. Now, given the dim view of homeopathy which, I daresay, each and every blogger here at SBM shares, you’d think I wouldn’t want people to pay attention to WHAW. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is because I view homeopathy as nothing more than quackery based on magical thinking that I actually want people to be aware of it, starting with some of the more amusing bits that homeopaths have published over the last year. Like this bit:

Which Steve discussed here, and Orac had some fun with here. (Steve’s deconstruction of Benneth’s nonsense brought responses calling him a hypocrite, a Nazi or a “slave breaker.”)

Or this bit:

Which Orac also had some fun with here and Steve had a bit of fun with here.

All of which is why this is the best homeopathy poster ever:

HN09poster1A

In fact, these two videos probably demonstrate the utter ridiculousness of homeopathy better than almost anything else, which is why I present them again in honor of WHAW. First, there’s the already classic Mitchell and Webb sketch, even though it’s maybe a year old:

Then there’s an oldie but goodie, Homeopathic E.R.:

And let’s not forget that stand up comedy can be perfect for deconstructing nonsense like homeopathy:

David Mitchell and Dara O’Briain even talk about it a bit:

There. I trust I’ve done my part to spread awareness of homeopathy in honor of World Homeopathy Awareness Week. But more can be done. For instance, I suggest you peruse the posts in the homeopathy category of this blog. And, don’t forget, there are still six days to go. Here’s hoping we find some more fun to have with homeopaths before next Friday rolls around, after which Steve, Val, John, Kim, and I will see some of you at NECSS the following day!

Posted in: Homeopathy, Humor

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59 thoughts on “In honor of World Homeopathy Awareness Week 2010

  1. “Today, April 10, is the first day of World Homeopathy Awareness Week (WHAW), or, as I like to call it, World Sympathetic Magic Awareness Week. ”

    Or if you felt compelled to keep the acronym. World Hocus-pocus Awareness Week.

  2. daijiyobu says:

    As someone who was lured into studying “health science” that turned out to be BOGUS,

    in honor of UB homeopathy I give the Italian salute.

    Oh, wait, I’ve not an ounce of Italian in me.

    So, I give the Irish Gaelic salute [forgive my ethnicity]:

    pogue mahone!!!

    Ya gobshites.

    -r.c.

  3. dogmatichaos says:

    That’s just phenomenal. If you collapse all matter so there’s no space between any of the atoms/particles, how much mass is there? Exactly as much mass as there was before it was collapsed.

    There’s plenty of other reasons why the theory of relativity and string theory are being abused to the point where it goes from absurdity to hilarity, but that’s about the most basic physics failure I’ve ever seen.

  4. BillyJoe says:

    Unfortunately, my server has issued a throttle warning and my current period ends on the 20th, so I will not be able to enjoy the video fun you’re all having. :(

    (On the positive side, I’ve already seen all the videos listed above)

  5. jim_carson says:

    Oh, my – I couldn’t sit through more than a minute and a half of Dr. Werner. Epic science fail. The homeopathic lager at the end of the A&E spoof made up for that. Mostly.

    Keep up the good fight.

  6. DanaUllman says:

    I am always amazed that the people at THIS website who seem to defend “evidence based medicine” and who claim to aspire towards “high quality” clinical trials would be so silent and deaf-dumb-and-blind to the “review” of research on homeopathy in the Lancet (2005). Below is a partial critique, though there is much more that can and should be said about it that could further devastate it…

    A more detailed response and the references to below are at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-ullman/the-case-for-homeopathic_b_451187.html

    “The So-Called Best Evidence that Homeopathy Does Not Work”

    Sadly and strangely, the skeptics of homeopathy put much of their belief that homeopathy does not work on a review and comparison of homeopathic and conventional medical research that was published in the Lancet in 2005.(23) The Lancet even published an editorial in this same issue entitled “The End of Homeopathy.”

    However, this “evidence” is a very controversial and some say extremely flawed review of homeopathic research.(24)(25) This review sought to compare 110 placebo-controlled homeopathic studies and with a “matched” group of 110 studies testing conventional medications. The researchers appropriately sought to evaluate only those studies that their criteria deemed of sufficiently “high quality.”

    Although the idea of comparing studies is a good idea, the way that this group of researchers evaluated only a small subset of all studies showed an initial and ongoing bias, as you shall soon see…

    First, it is important to know that the leader of this review of homeopathic research is A. Shang’s boss (and co-author of this article) M. Eggers, a vocal noted skeptic of homeopathy. Second, evidence of strong bias against homeopathy by these researchers was brought to light by the Lancet’s senior editor, Zoe Mullan, who acknowledged that, “Professor Eggers stated at the onset that he expected to find that homeopathy had no effect other than that of placebo.”(26)

    Shang and his team deemed that “high quality trials” must fit certain criteria. It must be acknowledged that two other meta-analyses that have previously been published in the Lancet (1997) and the British Medical Journal (1991) have deemed several trials that had strongly positive effects from homeopathic treatment as “high quality” than was not deemed as such by Shang (and he has never commented about this discrepancy).

    Despite the problems in comparing conventional medical research and homeopathic research, let’s assume that the two groups of studies ARE comparable. It is therefore more than a tad ironic that they found 21 of the homeopathic studies fit this definition of “high quality” clinical researcher but only 9 of the conventional studies did so. One would have thought that the researchers would then compare these “high quality” trials. However, this result would have shown that there IS a difference between homeopathic treatment and a placebo in a variety of ailments, and authors (who are known skeptics of homeopathy) could not allow that conclusion.

    Instead, Shang’s group chose to only evaluate a much smaller subset of these high quality trials. They limited the review to the largest trials in both groups to 8 homeopathic trials (with at least 98 subjects) and six conventional trials (with at least 146 subjects). Strangely enough, when evaluating only this last group of larger studies, they were not comparable in ANY way. The diseases that they treated were all different. And conveniently enough, the researchers asserted that one of the large trials testing homeopathic medicines in the treatment of patients with polyarthritis (arthritis in multiple joints) did not have a comparable trial (they actually asserted with complete seriousness that there has never been a study of patients with this common malady, and rather than admit that this large trial of 175 patients which showed significant efficacy of treatment, they simply threw out the trial from their evaluation). When one realizes that NONE of the studies in the final evaluation matched each other in any way, the researchers’ decision to throw out this study on the homeopathic treatment of people with polyarthritis is additional evidence of the researcher’s strong biases and their efforts to prove homeopathy as a placebo “by hook or by crook.”

    The researchers put a higher value of those studies with larger numbers of patients because they asserted that smaller trials are “biased,” even though they were randomized double-blind and placebo studies (and many of which were published in the Lancet, the BMJ, and other highly respected conventional medical journals). One group of four studies on patients with respiratory allergies which included 253 subjects and was published in the BMJ(27) was not a part of the final analysis without explanation. An earlier study published in the Lancet with 144 subjects suffering from hay fever was also missing from the final analysis.(28) The fact that these studies showed a significant benefit from homeopathic treatment was ignored entirely.

    Using large number of subjects is “do-able” in homeopathy, though it is simply less frequent, due to the high costs of such studies and due to the fact that the profit margin for the sale of homeopathic medicines does not even approach that of conventional drugs. Also, it is a lot easier using conventional medicine than homeopathic medicine in studies because the very nature of homeopathy is the necessity to evaluate a person’s overall syndrome, not just any localized disease. This type of sophistication in individualized treatment is a part of good acupuncture treatment as well.

    It is therefore not surprising that six of the eight large homeopathic trials gave the same homeopathic medicine to every subject, no matter what symptoms of the disease the subjects in the experiments experienced. Astonishingly enough, the Shang review included a “weight-loss” study in their final review. The “study” used Thyroidinum 30C (a small dose of thyroid gland), even though this remedy is not reported in the homeopathic literature as an appropriate medicine for this condition.

    Even though a study can be “well designed” and “well conducted,” it will become a “junk science” study if the drug used is totally inappropriate for the sick person. As it turns out, six of the eight homeopathic studies in the final analysis by Shang used homeopathic medicines that were unlikely to be prescribed by a practicing homeopath (they prescribe their medicines based on the overall syndrome of physical and psychological symptoms the patient has, not just based on the diagnosed name of the disease, except in exceptional situations). In research and statistics, good studies need to have “internal validity” (how the study was designed and conducted) and “external validity” (how the treatment in the study can be generalized to clinical practice). The Shang group did not even seek to evaluate whether any of the studies had “external validity” or not. Sad, but true.

    Perhaps the most interesting fact about this study was totally ignored by its authors. Shang and his team purposefully did not evaluate safety issues of treatment. Therefore, it is not surprising that at least three of the conventional medical treatments that were found to be “effective” initially were later found to be so dangerous that the drugs were withdrawn from medical use.

    Finally, imagine if researchers evaluated ALL studies for which antibiotics were used. Although antibiotics are primarily effective in the treatment of bacterial infections, they have been tested to treat a wide variety of infections, not just bacterial, but as we all know, antibiotics are not effective for anything other than bacterial infection (and even then, the frequency of use of antibiotics will reduce their efficacy because the bacteria adapt to it). Just because antibiotics are not effective for most conditions does not mean that specific antibiotics are ineffective for specific conditions. Good science requires specificity, not over-generalized statements, as Shang and his ilk have made.

    Although the above seems to be a simple and logical statement, skeptics of homeopathy prove their paucity of rational thought by lumping together ALL types of homeopathic research, then throwing out or ignoring the vast majority of studies (including MOST of the studies that the researchers defined as “high quality”), and using studies that are not good examples of how homeopathy is practiced.

    For instance, the World Health Organization has deemed that childhood diarrhea represents one of the most serious public health problems in the world today because millions of children die each year as a result of dehydration from diarrhea. With this concern in mind, three randomized double-blind trials were conducted testing individually chosen homeopathic medicines for children with diarrhea. One of these studies was published in Pediatrics,(29) and another study was published in another highly respected pediatric medical journal.(30) All three of these trials showed a significant benefit from homeopathic treatment when compared with placebo. (A very different 4th trial was also conducted, though this last trial tested a homeopathic combination medicine that was not prescribed with any degree of individualization of treatment and ultimately did not show evidence of efficacy.)

    Four double-blind placebo controlled trials has shown benefit from the homeopathic medicine, Oscillococcinum, in the treatment of influenza.(31) Research has consistently found it to be effective in the treatment of influenza, though it does not seem to be effective in its prevention.

    As for homeopathy and respiratory allergies, reference above was already made to four studies that showed effectiveness of homeopathic treatment (2 of which were published in the BMJ and one of which was published in the Lancet). Further, a review of seven double-blind and placebo controlled studies showed that homeopathic doses of Galphimia glauca were effective in treating people with hay fever.(32)

    The two new re-analyses of the Shang review of homeopathic research prove the old cliche, garbage in, garbage out. Junk data indeed creates junk science which creates junk and meaningless results. And ironically, THIS study is considered the ‘best” evidence that homeopathy does not work. If this is the best that they have, skepticism of homeopathy is not only dead, it is stupid dead.

    While I would like to think that this article would finally put the last nail in the coffin of skeptics of homeopathy, I know that Big Pharma will not allow that to happen. Further, these skeptics are often like religious fundamentalists who will believe what they want to believe no matter what. And then, there’s the impact from cognitive dissonance: many people who have invested their time and energy into conventional medicine simply cannot imagine admitting that homeopathy may have any benefit. It may be time to put that rotary telephone in the attic along with the typewriter and your former skepticism of homeopathic medicine.

  7. Draal says:

    Is there anything on Dana’s Website not for sale? Pfft. Big Pharma wanna-be.

  8. DanaUllman says:

    Draal…I guess you’re deaf, dumb, and blind to the 100+ articles at my website…as well as the many publications in peer-review journals, the 3 chapters that I’ve written in medical textbooks, and the yearly lectures at UC Berkeley, UCSF, and various other places (including this year’s American Medical Students Association’s national conference)…

    I love it when people with pseudo-names question the work of those of us who are out of the closet as real people.

    And I love it when people assume some type of “mischief” from the writing of books. Look out…you actually might learn something. Get your head out of the youtube videos and read.

  9. DevoutCatalyst says:

    Thou mustn’t diluteth thy meds too mucheth, Herr Ullman. This has all been hashed over many times. Square two beckons.

  10. Harriet Hall says:

    DanaUllman said

    “people who have invested their time and energy into conventional medicine simply cannot imagine admitting that homeopathy may have any benefit”

    No, we admit that it has benefit. We just aren’t convinced that it has any more benefit than placebo. We didn’t decide that based on the implausibility of homeopathy, but on a comprehensive review of all the published evidence, much of which contradicts the studies you rely on. Of 11 systematic reviews/meta-analyses of homeopathy, 9 were negative and the other 2 were unconvincing: when the lower quality studies were removed, their conclusions became negative too. One study ridiculously concluded that homeopathy worked better than placebo overall but didn’t work better for any one disease: that’s like saying broccoli is good for people but not for women or men or children.

    If homeopathy hasn’t convinced the scientific community after two centuries, how can you imagine that you can convince us with your personal interpretations and cherry-picked references? What hubris!

  11. DanaUllman says:

    Cherry picked references? Yeah, right. Don’t you hate it when hundreds of placebo controlled trials show biological effect and/or clinical efficacy!?

    Are you also saying that Thomas Edison “cherry-picked” his success, despite having the vast majority of his studies showing “negative” results. Are you going to now turn off all of your electricity? Heck, you live in the Dark Ages anyway.

    And I challenge you all to google Canova and homeopathic medicine to see the couple dozen basic science trials showing various biological effects. Are all of these basic science trials cherry-picking.

    Do physicians “cherry-pick” when antibiotics work on bacteria but don’t work on viruses? Would you therefore say that antibiotics are not effective for bacterial infections due to the cherry-picking of research. Your sloppy thinking is more than a tad obvious.

    I laugh at the guise of science that people here indulge themselves.

  12. Harriet Hall says:

    Dana, I asked “If homeopathy hasn’t convinced the scientific community after two centuries, how can you imagine that you can convince us?” I’ve got to give you credit for your persistence, but you ought to know you are fighting a losing battle.

  13. DanaUllman says:

    Hey Harriet…Thank you for proving my point. In fact, if you are defining the “scientiific community” in medicine as “medical doctors,” then, you lose. Wake up and smell the coffee: there are large and ever-growing numbers of medical doctors who have integrated homeopathy into their practices.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-ullman/homeopathic-medicine-euro_b_402490.html

    However, perhaps you’re being “American-centric,” but it is increasing challenging to claim that American health care is winning the “medical Olympics” (it isn’t)…in fact, it is probably best to study American health care as a way to learn how not to do it.

    For someone who claims to be informed, you have to take off your blinders…

  14. DevoutCatalyst says:

    Harriet has previously thrown down the gauntlet for you, but you waddled off like succussed duck liver. Unlike water, we have memory. How’s yours?

  15. Draal says:

    Dana,
    Maybe if you had a Braille edition of one of your books this deaf, dumb and blind guy could be educated.
    I suppose all those supplements you sell on your website are not for profit too.

    “You are the Jon Stewart of homeopathy, the way you combine information (“gee I didn’t know that!”) with humor. And you avoid defensiveness, which is terrific.”

    For a guy that considers himself funny, you suck.

  16. DanaUllman says:

    Poor, Drall…I’m sorry if I didn’t make you laugh…

    For the record, I do not sell “supplements” at my website. I mostly sell over-the-counter drugs called homeopathic medicines. You folks continually prove your ignorance…and yet, you cloak yourselves in the guise of science (and not even good science). I’m sure that many people here are cringing at your above comment. Oh well…

    As for your understanding of water, get real, no one here seems to know much about water and its many mysteries.

    Did anyone see that new study on the silica hypothesis and enzyme stabilization that results from shaking water solutions in glass? No, I didn’t think so.

    Scientists? At least, you make me laugh…

  17. Harriet Hall says:

    Dana says “Thank you for proving my point” HA! I did no such thing.
    “there are large and ever-growing numbers of medical doctors who have integrated homeopathy into their practices.” This is a logical fallacy, the argument from popularity. I was referring to the scientific consensus, which is a very different matter. There will always be a minority of deluded individuals, but science progresses by agreement among the majority of experts as to what the body of evidence shows.

    The “reference” you cited was an article you wrote yourself. You seem not to realize that the facts like 20% of Irish milk producers use homeopathy and 6% of them put the remedies in the cows’ vaginas (really?) say nothing about whether the remedies work. Scientific truth is not determined by a popularity contest.

    You’ve said all this before. It didn’t convince us before and it’s not going to convince us now. Go away and come back if and when you can provide new and compelling evidence.

  18. Harriet Hall says:

    “Did anyone see that new study on the silica hypothesis and enzyme stabilization that results from shaking water solutions in glass?”

    What, pray tell, does that have to do with proving that homeopathy is clinically effective? In fact, the abstract says “Even though silicates are known to have biological activity at higher concentrations, the silicate concentrations we measured in homeopathic preparations were too low to account for any purported in vivo efficacy.”

    Straws, grasping, desperation.

  19. Draal says:

    Dana said, “I’m sorry…”

    I forgive you.

  20. Draal says:

    “Scientists? At least, you make me laugh…”

    Someone has to stand up to experts! :-)

  21. DevoutCatalyst says:

    You’re a contemnor, Mr. Ullman, off to jail for you!

  22. RetroEncabulator says:

    Benneth’s video strongly reminded me of this classic, from Rockwell Automation, discussing their marvelous new Retro Encabulator technology.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXJKdh1KZ0w

    The least Benneth could do is pronounce the damn buzzwords correctly. Mike Kraft (the star of the Retro Encabulator video) is far more convincing.

  23. Draal says:

    If anyone else is interested, Summary and conclusions of silicates in homeopathic preparations paper. Looks like the in vitro studies with homeopathic remedies could just be from contaminates from the glassware. oops!:

    We have demonstrated the presence of silicates and other constituents leaching from glass containers in SSD preparations made in our lab and in commercially prepared homeopathic preparations. We have further shown that the dissolved silicates are present in the 1–4 mg/L concentration range. Finally, we have demonstrated that these silicates are able to stabilize enzymes in a functional state in dilute aqueous solution relative to enzymes dissolved in deionized, purified water.

    The implications of these findings are distinct for the pharmaceutical industry and for hypotheses of homeopathic efficacy. The fact that silicates leaching from glass vials can act to stabilize enzyme activity in solution may have positive implications for pharmaceuticals. Protein or polypeptide-based pharmaceuticals including insulin and vaccines are invariably stored and shipped in glass vials. Our results suggest that silicates leaching from the glass vials may prolong the shelf life and potency of protein-based pharmaceuticals. Further research will be required to confirm this possibility.

    Our data do not discount any hypothetical involvement of silicates as active ingredients in homeopathic preparations as has been proposed previously,[32], [33], [34] and [35] and provide experimental support for the idea that homeopathic preparations made in glass vials are saturated with silicates. However, as noted above, dietary sources of silicates far exceed the doses found in glass-exposed solutions. Further, our pH measurements in combination with what is currently known about silicate-water chemistry2 suggest that complex silicates with specific biological actions would not persist in SSD preparations. This is due to the mildly alkaline pH (approximately 8.5) attained when each new glass vial is used to make a successive dilution.

    In saturated silicate solutions stored in glass between pH 7 and 8.5 the dissolved silicates exist mainly as colloidal particles in equilibrium with monomeric Si(OH)4 and there is constant exchange of soluble and insoluble silicates.15 Lower levels of polysilicates would also exist in equilibrium with monosilicates, but due to their lower solubility and silicate saturation of the solution, silicate polymers would eventually bind to either the glass walls of the container, or to the colloidal silicate particles in suspension.

    As homeopathic solutions age in the glass vials they are stored in, the constant dissolution of silicates from the glass surface and re-condensation onto surfaces and suspended particles would eventually eliminate any specific polysilicates that had formed during the initial preparation of the solutions. Nonetheless, future in vitro homeopathic experiments will need to take into account the fact that significant levels of dissolved solids exist in glass-exposed solutions, and that these can have functional effects on proteins dissolved therein.

  24. David Gorski says:

    The Rockwell Automation Retro Encabulator rocks!

  25. Draal says:

    Oi. I meant to say, “The positive results from homeopathic in vitro studies could just be due to contaminants from the glassware.”

    Makes you wonder if other studies that use homeopathic remedies diluted with ethanol contain leachates from the containers they are stored in, especially if they are plastic.

  26. DanaUllman says:

    Harriet…my point in bringing up the discussion on silicates is to have people here prove that water is not simply water…and you folks have done that.

    Thanx Draal. Indeed. Thank you for proving that water is not just water.

    Now, if you add in the fact that succussion (vigorous shaking) creates bubbles and “nanobubbles” that change the water pressure to attain 10,000 atm (atmospheres), you can begin to understand that every medicine in the water will interact with the thousands/millions of silicate fragments in their own idiosyncratic way, thereby changing the structure of the water.

    Is water just water when THIS takes place? Come on…which one of you will actually say that all water is the “same”? Which one of you will now say that shaing has no effect on water? Which one of you will show and prove your ignorance? Which one of you will make us all laugh?

    As for plastic, there is a difference between making medicines in plastic (this is not a practice done in homeopathy…and I presume that the benefits of homeopathy would probably not be found when doing so)) and storing homeopathic pills in plastic (this IS done somewhat often in homeopathy).

  27. DevoutCatalyst says:

    @ Harriet Hall on 03 Nov 2009 at 1:32 am

    “Dana,

    Please respond to my 10:44 comment showing that the Montagnier study tends to invalidate homeopathic tenets.”

    Still waiting for an answer, until then, back to your cell, Ullman.

  28. weing says:

    I like my martinis shaken not stirred. Is that what you mean? If you drink martinis that are shaken will you be more drunk than if they are stirred? We could check blood levels after drinking a few shaken martinis and next time the same amount of stirred. It could be set up as a double blind experiment. I’ll volunteer. How much will I get to participate in such testing. We could try to collect data over a number of years, on weekends of course. Maybe NCCAM will fund this.

  29. DanaUllman says:

    Weing…yes, James Bond was 007X, a homeopathic secret agent. Indeed, shaken, not stirred…and in glass.

    Yeah…I am playin with ya.

    As for Luc Montagne’s work, it seems that his work supports homeopathic thinking/practice. What did Harriet say to suggest otherwise?

  30. Draal says:

    heh.
    What the paper shows is that another variable is at play when testing homeopathic medicine. Is it the dissolved silicate interacting with whatever, say a cancer cell line. Or is it really the dilution of the original compound? The authors concluded the same thing. In addition, when testing in vitro, silicate may be playing a role but in vivo, the human diet consists of so much more silicate that any amount you drink would be inconsequential. The implication is that all the in vitro data on homeopathic medicine is even more questionable since there’s no accounting for the role of silicates.

    The paper also discusses that not all glassware is the same, even from batch to batch of identical vials. The type and quantity of silicate crystals changes over time too. That implies that a homeopathic medicine that relies on silicate will never be standardized, not even from batch to batch.

    10 kbar? Roy just picked that number out of the blue. No calculations or nothin’. You read his paper and see. If you rely on made up facts, you’re just another rat following the Pied Piper.
    If you read Tyrrell and Attard’s paper on nanobubbles, they calculated that the internal pressure of a nanobubble on the surface of glass is less than 140 atm. No homeopathic medicine was required to make nanobubbles. In fact, any surface in contact with a liquid containing dissolved gas can have nanobubbles.

    Here’s some questions I’ve had for some time. If a homeopathic medicine relies on the memory of purified water, why doesn’t the original purified water not have homeopathic properties from before? Couldn’t you just combine a bunch of homeopathic medicines into one batch and make a super homeopathic remedy capable of curing everything?

    Did I make you laugh? Good. At least I’m funny.

  31. BillyJoe says:

    “10 kbar? Roy just picked that number out of the blue. No calculations or nothin’. You read his paper and see. If you rely on made up facts, you’re just another rat following the Pied Piper.
    If you read Tyrrell and Attard’s paper on nanobubbles, they calculated that the internal pressure of a nanobubble on the surface of glass is less than 140 atm. No homeopathic medicine was required to make nanobubbles. In fact, any surface in contact with a liquid containing dissolved gas can have nanobubbles. ”

    Dana has been shown all this a thousand times already.

    Surest sign of a quack – ignores all contrary evidence and keeps repeating the same repeating the same repeating the same…

  32. Harriet Hall says:

    Dana,

    Harriet said that the Montagnier study tends to disprove homeopathy, as does the study of silicates.
    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=2081

  33. DanaUllman says:

    Draal (again) misunderstands the silicate work (big surprise). His reference to silicates as contaminants is one wrong spin. The point is that the homeopathic potentization process (dilution of a medicinal agent in a double-distilled water and then vigorously shaken in glass) creates a different aqueous solution than “just water.”

    Now, NO ONE from this website can say that homeopathic medicines are “just water.” Thank you!

    The fact that Draal then goes on to say that there is more silica intake in our diet is further evidence that he still doesn’t get it. Daft to the max, and purposefully daft. This is akin to saying that iron and magnetized iron are the same and have the same effects because they are both “iron.”

    Whether the water pressure is at 10,000 atm or some other number is not significant. Homeopathic medicines undergo 40 vigorous succussions, creating bubbles and nanobubbles that influence the silicate fragments and the structure of the water. None of these effects will have any meaning or effect UNLESS there is hypersensitivity between the patient and the medicinal agent. This hypersensitivity exists when the toxicology of the medicinal agent is similar to (“resonant with”) the symptom-syndrome of the patient.

    As for Harriet’s writing on Luc Montagnier’s study, it is a short, inconclusive, and strikingly weak critique. She doesn’t seem to understand that homeopathy is primarily the principle of similars (aka resonance) and secondarily, the making and then taking of the homeopathic medicines is one way to apply it. Montagnier’s study shows an influence of similars AND an influence from highly diluted and succussed solutions.

    Hall doesn’t seem to understand that there is NO linear effect from potentized doses. First, there is a bi-phasic effect from small and extremely small doses (c’mon people, you’ve gotta become familiar with the large body of research in HORMESIS that exists today…it is entirely in conventional journals). Second, there seem to be certain potenties that are particulalry “hot” and others “cold” in their effects…and THAT is why Hahnemann’s last contribution to the dosing of homeopathic potenties was “water potencies” in which the medicine was placed in water, and the patient was instructed to take a dose and to continue to dilute and shake the solution so that the patient takes increasingly higher potencies whereby some potenties will be assumed to have little or no effect while others will have significant effects.

    I bet that no one here knew anything about this “plussing” of homeopathic medicines…but heck, you folks work to mis-understand homeopathy in order to stifle it into your own worldview…and to distort reality to do so.

  34. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Dana:

    If you have to keep citing primary literature of silicates vigorously shaken in a glass as proof that homeopathy as a discipline works, despite many studies showing equivocal or no effect, that’s putting the cart before the straw. Note my deliberate use of mixed metaphors.

    May I suggest you read Homeopathy: How it Really Works by Jay W. Shelton (Prometheus Press). You are quoted in it several times. Among his many cogent, pithy points, is that there is no “homeopathy literature”. There are so many disciplines, branches, provings, computer diagnostics, variants, schisms and other such divisions that you can’t really claim a united body of research or other work. The thing is, science tends to converge on a result or conclusion, based on evidence. It may take a while, it may be fraught with conflict, but eventually everyone arrives at the same spot. Primary evidence replicates across researchers, institutions and research modalities. It supplements previous understanding of biology and chemistry, and builds towards clinical trials and improvements. It coheres. When there is a division in practice into subdisciplines, it is because there is so much to learn in the subdiscipline, it becomes necessary to specialize in order to master the domain.

    Homeopathy does not – it splits, splinters, divides and branches out. It is only when arguing over imaginary details that there is such divergence – because there is no way to prove who is right.

    But seriously, read the book. It’s very civil, it’s very thorough, it’s very readable, and you’re in it! How great is that? Jay Shelton, Homeopathy: How it Really Works (Prometheus Press).

  35. weing says:

    “NO ONE from this website can say that homeopathic medicines are “just water.” Thank you!”

    OK. I’ll say it. It’s just water.

  36. Scott says:

    Particularly when one considers that what we normally call “water” (e.g. the stuff that comes out of the tap) contains plenty of stuff besides just H20, some silicates don’t even come close to making it inaccurate to say “homeopathy is just water.”

  37. Draal says:

    “The fact that Draal then goes on to say that there is more silica intake in our diet is further evidence that he still doesn’t get it. Daft to the max, and purposefully daft. ”

    What I said is exactly what the silicate paper said. You tout the paper as proof but then dismiss the author’s conclusions because some one else said it.

    Here it is again from the paper:

    “In order to investigate this glass-exposure effect we used highly sensitive analytical techniques to determine the levels of solutes present in BRAN-type SSD solutions. We examined glass-exposed solutions and homeopathic preparations by a variety of techniques, including elemental
    analysis, colorimetric silicate assays, enzyme assays, and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with elemental mapping in order to determine their solute content. We show that SSD solutions made in glass vials contain micromolar levels of silicates, borate and sodium, and trace levels of other solutes. Enzyme assays were used to show that these solutions have stabilizing effects on enzyme activity in dilute solution, and that silicates are the most likely active agents in preserving enzymatic activity in dilute solutions.”

    “Silica is taken up from soil into plants and polymerized within their tissues, especially in monocotyledonous plants, including grains. Silica content varies greatly between different
    plant species and different parts of the same plant.For example, the silica content in polished rice has been reported to be 0.5 g/kg, whereas in rice bran the level is 100 times higher at a level of 50 g/kg, and in rice hulls, the level is 230 g/kg.34 Because grains and their associated bran are
    common constituents of human diets, there are ample sources of silica that greatly exceed the levels present in ground water, or in glass-exposed foods or pharmaceuticals. Because plant materials contain monosilicates, complex polysilicates and silicate aggregates, often at relatively high levels,34 it seems unlikely that the low levels present in homeopathic preparations would have any specific biological effects when ingested.
    Standard homeopathic preparations contain low concentrations of the constituent compounds from the mineral or biological starting materials. In contrast, BRAN-type homeopathic preparations contain only water impurities and glass-derived constituents. The concentrations of silicates in the homeopathic preparations we investigated are in the range of approximately 1–4 mg/L. However, very high concentrations of silicates are often necessary to elicit biological responses; hundreds or thousands of times higher than those found in homeopathic preparations.28 As such, it is unlikely that silicates in homeopathic preparations are significantly more concentrated than in any other pharmaceutical or food product stored and shipped in glass containers, especially if those containers are heat sterilized with the
    contents in them. Such low concentrations would be negligible once introduced into a biological system with highly concentrated solutes.However, in much simpler in vitro assay systems it is possible that silicates and other solutes leaching from glass containers could affect certain measures. Enzyme stabilization or other effects of silicates binding to proteins in solution may explain in part some of the in vitro effects reported in the homeopathic literature, when the outcome measure could be influenced by small changes in protein surface charge or conformation.”

    No where do the authors say that silicates are unique to homeopathic remedies. The same damn thing will happen with water sitting in glass without any homeopathic remedy. No where do they say it is because of the silicates that homeopathic remedies are responsible for potentization process. They do say the silicates themselves have no biological activity in vivo but perhaps they do in vitro (that’s called a variable in science). If silicates are influencing in vitro studies, then the extent of their role must be determined.

    The paper clearly shows that enzyme activity is stabilized when silicates are present. They recorded the same exact enzymatic activity in just water that was successed in glass or when it was in a homeopathic dilution. No difference!

    In conclusion, homeopathic remedies are no different than plain water that undergoes succession. A specific enzyme assay also does not support any other non-related biological function and any inferences as such are completely unjustified.

  38. Draal says:

    Not only was the enzymatic activity in just water that was shaken in glass equal the activity when in homeopathic dilution, it also was equivalent to purified water that had silicate added to it.
    The homeopathic dilution had no unique properties compared to these controls. Purified water without silicate did not stabilize the enzyme. Ergo, the silicate, not the homeopathic dilution, is responsible for this protein’s stability in vitro.

  39. Harriet Hall says:

    Dana falls back on hormesis again! He doesn’t seem to understand that hormesis requires a small quantity of something, while the higher homeopathic dilutions contain no quantity of their original ingredient. If he is going to call on hormesis as support for homeopathy, he logically ought to renounce all homeopathic remedies that are diluted beyond Avogadro’s number. He has never done that.

    No one has shown that a 60X dilution of one homeopathic remedy is distinguishable from a 60X dilution of another. No one has shown that they don’t amount to exactly “the same water.”

    Now Dana says “there seem to be certain potenties that are particulalry “hot” and others “cold” in their effects.”

    That’s not a coherent, meaningful scientific statement. And it makes no sense in the light of his assertions about the Montagnier and silicate studies and his other theorizing.

    Dana, we’ve heard all this nonsense before. It didn’t convince us before and it’s not going to convince us now, no matter how many times you repeat it. Please go away and don’t come back unless you have some new and convincing evidence to show us.

  40. EricG says:

    hold on, i think I get where Dana is going. i think what he’s trying to say is that…

    the water inculcas is the primary component of the gassification of the micronanowaterparticlebubbles. THIS is the biophiotonological component that allows homeopathy to not not not over conflict with the tenets of physics, biology and, of course, numerology.

    You see, there are literally THOUSANDS or articles that support this preossihydrometaculcas theory, all of which none of you have read and i wont bother to post. All you really have to do to get on the same level is to sidestep your second self and allow your precongnized parallel self to accept your natural inclinations to homeopathy AND negate the inner reverse logic. this is primarily constructed of dark energy. from a reflexive phylontological perspective, it is merely the inability for two philosophies to exist in the same space.

    i hope that clears everything up!

  41. EricG says:

    Wait, i think you are all misunderstanding dana here. Let me see if I can clear this up…I think what he’s trying to say is that:

    The primary biophylontological mechanism that allows homeopathy to work is not unlike the great story of Zeus and the cactus. You see, Zeus, much like vaccines, caused autism in small children and much to the benefit of the cactus, which, for this example, was making a huge profit on the sick and needy. See, it’s the bioinfarctionism of the primary nanowaterbubbles that allow this mysterious and dark phenomena to overempower the nascent immune system. There are literally THOUSANDS of articles supporting this, none of you have ever read them so I won’t bother to crush your narrow world view with a full reference list…baby steps.

    By the time the fully occosydicatedrified water interacts with the micro hyzingdated hydrogen, you have a molecule that is MUCH different from the original, dare we say “boring”, water molecule. The trouble appears to be, that you cannot actually see, measure, relate, smell, examine or observe this relationship. BUT if you merely sidestep your post nascent natural psychogenic response AND adhere to the ancient principles of “polycognomorphy” (again, too many articles to even BEGIN to post), you will find it is quite easy. THIS is also not not not not not the mechanism that allows it to fully complement (NOT refute), NO, dare I say MEGAEMPOWER the laws of thermodynamics (much like daily .01% hydrogen peroxide to the immune system).

    There, that make sense to everyone?

  42. DanaUllman says:

    Draal,

    I’m glad that you’ve recognized that silicates stabilize enzymes, whether in homeopathic medicines or not.

    We could all further agree that every medicinal substance will interact with the silicate fragments in their own idiosyncratic way.

    This water is therefore not “just water,” and the increased pressure in the water further forces the medicinal agent to interact with these silicate fragments.

    Do you still think that this is just water?

    And tell me, then, how many molecules are necessary to create ‘homologous recombination’? See this story, “‘Telepathic’ Genes Recognize Similarities In Each Other” at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080124103151.htm

    The original article is at: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1021/jp7112297?cookieSet=1

    Is information molecular?

  43. EricG says:

    well now that looks just silly…shoulda saved the post, or waited…

  44. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Dana:

    First, I think you want this url: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1021/jp7112297

    Second, I thought we were debating homeopathy? The presence of knowable, testable molecules in water bears, in no way, any impact on the scientific understanding of water that is prepared in such a way that none of these molecules left. Given the ubiquity of glass everywhere, it’s 100% certain that all water has some dissolved in it.

    Third, it is possible to tell whether DNA is present in water, given techniques such as polymerase chain reaction to amplify the any remaining strands to the point that they can again, be measured. So none of this would seem to have any bearing on water that has apparently no active molecules in it.

    Fourth, is information molecular…that’s asking what colour the sky tastes. Molecules can convey information given an appropriate “reader”. Water is not a “reader”, it is a solvent.

    And a question for you – can homeopaths tell the difference between homeopathic preparations and just water, with any regularity? Since you are a renowned expert, I’m certain you can point us all to studies allowing us to do just that. Given their apparent potency in medical and clinical settings, this test which is essentially the obverse of standard blinding, would seem to be rather important.

  45. DanaUllman says:

    William…
    Some of us like to refer to homeopathic medicines as information… or as some people like to call “memory.” Thus, homeopathics do not simply rely upon the same “thing” as conventional pharmaceuticals.

    That said, a large number of homeopathic medicines in the marketplace are in the hormesis range (and THAT is why I continually bring up the issue of hormesis, Harriet!)(file this one under “Duh”), though homeopaths find that these “low potencies” require more frequent repetition and are not as “deep acting” or as “long-acting” as a “high potency” (one that has undergone more than 200 1:10 or 1:100 dilutions, with 40 succussions in-between each dilution).

    Yes, homeopaths can differentiate plain water from real medicines in two ways: either by our experiments in “drug provings” (most of you probably do even know what a “drug proving” is!) or by clinical practice (approximately 20-30% of cases experiences a “healing crisis” (an increase in old symptoms and an externalization of symptoms prior to a significant improvement in overall health…this pattern of improvement is not typical of the placebo response).

    Homeopathic drug manufacturers use conventional scientific instrumentation is identify the original medicinal agent, but once it undergoes a certain number of potentizations, there is presently no flawless way to evaluate potency. The FDA requires a significant amount of documentation of all phases of the manufacturing process, though they acknowledge the present limitations of present technologies, just as we all understand that many conventional drugs today are used without known mechanisms of action.

  46. squirrelelite says:

    Dana,

    When do you anticipate Dr Josephson announcing the success of his proposed experiment to extract or copy this “information” from a homeopathic medicine, transmit it to another location and somehow communicate/inculcate it into another water solution?

  47. Harriet Hall says:

    Dana,

    Please listen carefully this time: if you are going to use the hormesis argument you can’t logically do that and also support the use of trans-Avogadro dilutions. Even if an explanation based on a small number of molecules could account for the action of some homeopathic dilutions, it can’t possibly explain the action when no molecules are left.

    “this pattern of improvement [healing crisis] is not typical of the placebo response.” No, but it is typical of fluctuating symptoms in the natural course of disease unrelated to any treatment. If the patient gets better, you claim the credit. If he gets worse, you claim the credit. If he doesn’t get better after he gets worse, you reassess and keep trying other homeopathic remedies until he eventually gets better and you claim the credit.

    Homeopaths may “think” they can differentiate plain water from remedies, but they have not been able to demonstrate that to the satisfaction of non-homeopaths.

    If there is “no flawless way to evaluate potency,” the Occam’s razor explanation is that there is no potency to evaluate. The FDA may monitor the manufacturing process, but it doesn’t require evidence of efficacy as it does for pharmaceuticals. We start using conventional drugs when they are proven to work, and we worry about the mechanisms of action later. If homeopathy could show the same kind of results as FDA-approved pharmaceuticals do, we’d all be using them.

  48. DanaUllman says:

    Harriet,
    Please read this carefully because you still do not seem to understand relatively simple concepts. To say that there is nothing but water in homeopathic medicines is simply sloppy (and inaccurate) thinking. You now KNOW that a large number of homeopathic medicines that are sold in health food stores and pharmacies includes doses of the molecular range.

    My newest article reviews clinical trials in the homeopathic treatment of respiratory allergies. Although only the abstract is available online, the entire article will soon be available for all to read. You will see that there IS a body of work published in high impact journals and which are widely recognized as “high quality.” And as you will see, the vast majority of these studies used doses beyond Avogadro’s number.

    Based on your logic (and that of most people at this site), Thomas Edison was a fraud because the vast majority of his experiments were failures. According to your insane logic, his “successful” trial should be deemed “cherry-picking” of his research.

    Therefore, one should never look at specific trials or even replication trials…but only at the entire body of evidence, even when many of the studies lack external validity (in other words, they were soundly designed except for the decision on which homeopathic drug to test). How convenient.

    I do not believe that you or the vast majority of physicians are practicing EBM. If they did, then polypharmacy would NOT be so common. My point is that people here use EBM when it suits their needs and ignore it at other times (how convenient).

  49. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Dana:

    Language follows reality, not the other way around. Calling something “information” is confusing and seems to be an inappropriate metaphor – information conveys a message, it does not of itself, effect a change without a intelligent “reader” capable of interpreting it. We know how enzymes and comparable proteins work, in general if not always in specific. How does homeopathy convey information? What is the medium? Where is the memory held and encoded? How does this information avoid getting corrupted? Why would homeopathic preparations get stronger as the dilutions get weaker, as homeopathic theory states? What does the “reading”? Pharmaceuticals use molecules up or down regulate genes, interfere with or promote enzymatic activity, and a host of other known methods, as well as many unknown ones (aspirin for instance, is still not understood, and this is acknowledged). Are there any understood biological pathways that use “information” the way homeopathy does? This seems to neatly illustrate the propensity of homeopaths to invoke overly complicated, ill-fitting analogies to attempt to shoehorn an analogy to substitute for theory.

    If a remedy is in the hormesis range, then is it really homeopathy? Isn’t it just herbal medicine at that point? And wouldn’t this also be easy to isolate and study? And again, if high-potency remedies are more effective, shouldn’t it be easy to demonstrate this? Antibiotics have a pretty much 1:1 ratio for dose:cure against a well-matched bacteria; vaccines are even more effective. Is homeopathy more effective than antibiotics and vaccines? If so, why hasn’t this been shown in the medical literature? If someone has a confirmed bacterial infection, it would be trivial to dose them with the appropriate remedy and witness rapid improvement, like you see with antibiotics.

    Provings involve the dosing of healthy volunteers with potential remedies and recording symptoms. However, these symptoms can vary significantly from person to person, and there is no single standard way of recording them. Which way is correct? Classical, clinical, combination or isopathic homeopathy? Are provings blinded? Are groups of provers separated to ensure they do not contaminate each other with common symptoms? How are the symptoms felt during provings differentiated from the normal waxing and waning of pain, nausea and other symptoms they might experience anyway?

    How can you tell a healing crisis from a patient simply getting worse? How do you differentiate homeopathy working from the natural progression of the disease, given all diseases wax and wane in their symptoms? It seems like you can say if the disease gets better or worse then the remedy is working, but if it stays the same it is the wrong remedy. How would you then ever distinguish between an effective and ineffective remedy? If remedies are so powerful, why do they not routinely evoke symptoms each time they are taken? How do they only “know” that they should make a single symptom better rather than making it worse? Why would remedies designed to resolve depression in depressed people not evoke euphoria in normal people? That would seem to be an easy trial to run.

    There is a difference between documenting a manufacturing process and knowing whether, or how a drug functions. If potency increases linearly with dilution and succussion, why would it not be extremely easy to evaluate potency, or differentiate simple water from a remedy? Even if the mechanism of a drug action is not known, a dose-response for its main and side effects is generally seen – take a bit of aspirin and the blood thins a bit, take a lot and you stroke out. They don’t know how aspirin works, but they can still demonstrate this effect. Can a comparable effect be seen from taking one, versus 10 homeopathic pills or drops? Or a hundred?

    Your comparison to Edison is false – Edison used experimentation to develop devices that inarguably worked. Once he finished a series of experiments with an invention, it could be created by anyone using the same process, with near-100% success and replicability, producing results that could universally and unequivocally be agreed upon. You flip on a light bulb, and everyone who can see agrees it lights up. The blind can feel it generating heat. By analogy, you give someone a vaccine, and with a high degree of certainty, they will not get that disease (up to 99.9% with multiple doses). You give someone a well-matched antibiotic, their infection goes away. You give someone aspirin, their blood clots less easily. Repeatable, demonstrable, with results that are plain to see – science converging on common evidence and interpretation. The effect leads to a principle which in turn leads to a convergent understanding.

    That does not seem to be happening in homeopathy.

    Again, read Homeopathy: How it Really Works by Jay Shelton, Prometheus Books. Shelton does a great job of summarizing what homeopathy appears to be, and the many contradictions within it. Plus, you’re in the book! You can judge his commentary yourself, given your experience and work is quoted to illustrate his points!

  50. Archangl508 says:

    @ William

    “aspirin for instance, is still not understood, and this is acknowledged”

    Just wanted to point out that several of aspirin’s mechanisms of action are understood:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechanism_of_action_of_aspirin

  51. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    @Archangl508on

    Oooh, delightful, thanks for the correction! Aspirin was for the longest time held up as a textbook example of a useful medicine whose mechanism was unknown – I’ll have to find a new example.

    @Dana

    Why would low-dilution remedies be used when homeopathy claims that higher dilutions and succussions are more potent; the power, efficacy or worth of homeopathy increases with further dilution. Further, can it be demonstrated that these low-dilution remedies are distinguishable from high-dilution remedies? And finally, how are low-dilution remedies different from herbal medicine? Are they really homeopathy?

  52. David Gorski says:

    Please read this carefully because you still do not seem to understand relatively simple concepts. To say that there is nothing but water in homeopathic medicines is simply sloppy (and inaccurate) thinking.

    Well, I’ll grant Dana that, in addition to just water, there may be sugar in homeopathic remedies if they’ve been turned into sugar pills, as is sometimes done. And then, of course, some homeopathic remedies are diluted in alcohol rather than water. However, for the “potent” remedies above around 15C, it is highly unlikely that even a single molecule of active substance remains.

  53. weing says:

    Dana,

    You are no Edison. None of his experiments were failures as they showed that that method didn’t work. You still haven’t learned that homeopathy doesn’t work beyond the placebo response. But I guess if you are invested in fraud, you may end up believing your own bull.

  54. JMB says:

    Dana,

    Edison was an inventor not a scientist. The science was already known. He just recognized the economic potential of the science. Benjamin Franklin could lay more claim to being a scientist proving whether electricity could produce light.

    You cannot equate similarity with resonance. Resonance can occur between dissimilar substances (that is why in MRI we use tuned metallic coils to pick up the radio waves emanating from the body subjected to a magnetic field, and a sequence of perturbations from radio waves). Not all substances that are similar will resonate. In one of the articles you quoted on your website, they specifically stated that not all identical DNA macromolecules exhibited the property of resonant frequencies.

    If you propose resonance as the explanation of the homeopathic effect after serial dilutions, then it would not be hard to assay the potency of homeopathic preparations that are being sold. The FDA would now have a new tool to assess homeopathic preparations, MR spectroscopy. That should be worth an NCCAM funded grant.

    In regards to your post about telepathic genes, I looked up the original scientific article and discussed it here:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=4671#comment-48400

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