You may have read that homeopathic medicines are no more effective than placebos. But do you recall the source of that information? It was almost certainly from the American Medical Association, from a mainstream medical journal, or from a print or electronic medium that obtains its medical “facts” from these sources.
But consider this. The American Medical Association was formed in 1846 with the explicit purpose of combating homeopathy. Antagonism to homeopathy is in conventional medicine’s DNA, as it were. After all, if homeopathy is correct, then conventional medicine is wrong. The two disciplines are that different from each other. Thus misinformation about homeopathy abounds. So don’t believe everything you read. That includes my blog posts. You need to decide for yourself. And I’ll tell you how.
First, though, let’s recall that the objection to homeopathy from conventional medicine is that it cannot work (other than through a placebo effect) because it is scientifically impossible for it to do so. Opponents do not argue that it can cure some health problems–asthma, say, or the flu–but not others, like mental illness. So let us see what evidence exists that homeopathy works at all.
Regarding the evidence, for starters, let’s employ logic. If homeopathic medicines, aka remedies, are placebos, then how can we explain any of the following facts (described along with other evidence in more detail in my book, The Healing Paradox: A Revolutionary Approach to Treating and Curing Physical and Mental Illness :
1) remedies have produced the documented cure of illnesses that do not respond to placebos: epilepsy, whooping cough, cholera, typhoid fever, bipolar disorder, OCD, schizophrenia, tumors, severe influenza, severe depression, etc.;
2) remedies cure animals (a remedy, Podophyllum, cured my daughter’s cat, Oscar, of persistent, outrageously malodorous diarrhea), and animals don’t respond to placebos;
3) remedies cure infants (two centuries of parents have used remedies to cure their screaming babies of earaches, colic, and other ailments with remarkable rapidity), and infants do not respond to placebos when they are in great pain;
4) remedies cure skeptics of homeopathy (every experienced homeopath is accustomed to patients exclaiming at followup visits “I’m amazed. You know, I didn’t really think this would do anything”;
5) remedies have cured people who didn’t even know they were receiving them
(Homeopaths have given remedies to spouses to secretly slip into the bottles of their alcoholic mates, who then stopped drinking. I’m not defending the professional ethics involved; I’m just saying.);
6) there is usually a delay before remedies start working–even up to a few weeks in the case of chronic problems–and such delays are not consistent with placebos’ benefits, which are usually immediate (as you would expect if someone is feeling better solely through wishful thinking);
7) as part of the healing response to remedies, their recipients may experience a temporary aggravation of symptoms, which is most unlikely with placebo effects;
8) different people taking the same remedy blind (i.e.. not knowing the identity of the remedy or its properties) can experience similar or overlapping symptoms, which, again, argues against a placebo effect, in which people’s responses would vary enormously;
9) as described in my previous post, remedies can cure people after multiple preceding remedies and conventional medications did not. So why label the remedy that finally works as a placebo whereas the previous treatments produced no benefit? After all, when treatment is not working, people tend to become less hopeful, not more so, and therefore less likely to be placebo responders.
Thus logic tells us that the claim that remedies are mere placebos is nonsense.
There are also the two centuries’ worth of case reports in professional homeopathic journals (probably thousands of them) that document the cure of all manner of illnesses, physical and mental, with remedies. And unless we consider the authors of these articles more likely to be psychotics or pathological liars than authors of case reports in mainstream medical
journals, it behooves us not to dismiss their findings prematurely, merely because of what the AMA, New England Journal of Medicine or a client medium like The New York Times says.
Finally, there is the research. You may wish to review the Research Library section at www.nationalcenterforhomeopathy.org. There you should find over 100 articles documenting the effects of homeopathic medicines. Some were published in respectable mainstream journals like Pediatrics, Lancet, the British Medical Journal; a number were well-designed, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. Influenza, asthma, allergic rhinitis, vertigo, diarrhea, middle ear infections–all succumbed to homeopathic treatment in significantly greater degrees than to placebos. One review of the research literature reports homeopathy to be 2.45 times more likely to help than placebos. As you read these publications, you can decide for yourself whether there may be something to homeopathy after all.
In recent years, an increasing number of research findings have accumulated that demonstrate not only homeopathy’s merits, but the possible mechanisms of its actions. Studies have documented, for example, that the atomic spin of solutions of different remedies differ from each other and from plain water.
Other studies (refer in particular to Dr. Rustum Roy’s work, accessible online) have demonstrated that water changes its structure when subjected to the sort of physical stresses involved in the preparation of remedies; and that consequent to such changes in the configuration of its molecules, water can retain the memory of substances previously immersed in it. I know, I know–difficult to believe. But investigate Dr. Roy’s work.
An excellent reference on the science underlying homeopathy is The Emerging Science of Homeopathy: Complexity, Biodynamics, and Nanopharmacology by Paolo Bellavite and Andrea Signorini (North Atlantic Books, 2002).