Homeopathy... there’s nothing in it, it’s a sham.
Homeopathy is a con as the medicines contain nothing.
You are a ‘deluded fool’ to believe it works.
It’s a great leap to go from concluding that something is placebo, to banning it.
A total of 164 random controlled trial, (RCT) papers in homeopathy (on 89 different medical conditions) have been published in good quality scientific journals.
- 43% had a balance of positive evidence
- 6% had a balance of negative evidence
- 49% were not conclusively positive or negative
- 2% of the RCTs do not contain data that are suitable for analysis
A sobering thought then, for homeopaths: Pretty much half of the data utilised is neither positive or negatively conclusive.
However, by comparison, out of 1016 systematic reviews of RCTs in conventional medicine:
- 44% of the reviews concluded that the interventions studied were likely to be beneficial (positive)
- 7% concluded that the interventions were likely to be harmful (negative)
- 49% reported that the evidence did not support either benefit or harm (non-conclusive)
These statistics reflect the fact that research in homeopathy is a relatively new field (hence a smaller
numbers of trials leading to fewer systematic reviews), but the trends seen in the evidence base to
date are similar to conventional medicine.
So, what do we know about the placebo effect?
Placebo is more than just ‘nothing’, hence the term ‘placebo effect’.
To maximise its effect you can apparently employ some interesting tactics:
Give big tablets, even better, give big, coloured capsules, hell no, suggest two at a time, often, from branded boxes from someone in a white coat... Oh and charge a fortune for it.
You may be surprised then, to hear that homeopathic medicines are nearly always small and white, taken one at a time and quite often, infrequently, from an unbranded packet from someone in ‘civilian’ clothes who will either have included the tablets into their consultation fee or asked you to order them from a homeopathic pharmacy for a pricely sum of about £5 per item.
Maybe we’re missing a trick here? Well, the pharmacologists aren’t...
Here’s a quote from Trends in Pharmacological Science Volume 33, Issue 3, March 2012, Pages 165–172
Utilizing placebo mechanisms for dose reduction in pharmacotherapy
“The pairing of a placebo and a pharmacological agent may achieve satisfactory treatment outcomes in combination with a lower dose of medication.”
Now, I’m not actually an advocate of banning conventional medicines, not even the ones for which there is 'unknown effectiveness'... This isn’t a blog about conventional medicine bashing, but more about demonstrating the illogical and somewhat paradoxically, unscientific skeptic’s agenda.
You may be surprised to learn that I’ve actively encouraged some clients to take conventionally prescribed medications, some of which have worked very well, when homeopathy hasn’t done all we wanted it to do. Their relief is all the more interesting since some of these conventional medications have been openly regarded as not significantly different to placebos!
But IS homeopathy placebo?
To accept that a response to a homeopathic medicine is purely placebo is, for me, a hard pill to swallow... pun intended.
Put yourself in my position... I’ve seen just over 1000 different clients, the majority of whom have initially followed a conventional healthcare path.
Quite frankly, they believed in the conventional route, or their parents did, more so than they believed in homeopathy, hence they tried the conventional route first. They took medicines in the form of big coloured tablets or capsules daily, they may even have had surgery, yet these medicines didn’t do all that was expected of them. Surely, the placebo response should have kicked in sooner than when they chose me as a last resort? But it didn’t.
Of those 1000 or so clients whom I’ve seen, most, but not all, have derived benefit, often long-lasting or even permanent benefit from treatment. The benefits are both observable and palpable. I find it more amazing still, astonishing even, if their favourable responses are really just from having a chat and dishing out sugar pills. I just find that claim more implausible.
- RCTs of evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathic and conventional intervention are pretty similar.
- Homeopaths and manufacturers of homeopathic medicines could do more to maximise the placebo effect but they don’t.
- To conclude something is 'placebo', is not the same as concluding it is 'ineffective'.
- The placebo effect whether derived via conventional or homeopathic medicines is still an effect.
- If I can help people get better by just having a chat and dishing out sugar tablets that’s astonishing!
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