The last time I said that, the Society tried to sue me and my web hosts for defamation. So let’s say it again. They are a shambles and a bad joke. Worse, their irresponsible behaviour puts lives at risk.
Today the World Health Organisation condemned the use of homeopathy for dangerous diseases such as malaria, AIDS and childhood diarrhea. It has taken a very long time for them to do this and has been a result of a campaign by the Voice of Young Science to draw attention to the murderous practices of Western homeopaths in Africa who dish out useless sugar pills in an attempt to prevent and cure these fatal diseases.
The Society of Homeopaths have been at the root of the problem here. Many of the homeopaths involved in this dangerously misguided enterprise are members of the Society and they have done nothing to stop their members from exporting their healing fantasies to some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Indeed, the Society hold conferences highlighting the use of sugar pills for such illnesses. They refuse to uphold their own code of conduct when these excesses are pointed out and they legally threaten people like me who shine a light into their shenaningans.
So, how do the Society respond to the WHO issuing this warning? Their press release is a text book example of disingenuousness, cherry picking and diversion.
[B]oth the BBC and WHO have failed to acknowledge the evidence base for the use of homeopathy in the treatment of childhood diarrhoea in which, using randomised, double-blinded trials, the results were significant versus placebo(1).
They then cite two studies and a meta-analysis. It is worth quoting them in full…
Treatment of acute childhood diarrhoea in Nicaragua
This trial involved 81 children aged from 6 months to 5 years in a randomised, double-blind trial of intravenous fluids plus placebo versus intravenous fluids plus homeopathic remedy individualised to the patient. The treatment group had a statistically significant decrease in duration of diarrhoea.
Jacobs J. Treatment of acute childhood diarrhoea with homeopathic medicine: a randomized clinical trial in Nicaragua. Pediatrics 1994; 93: 719-725.
Treatment of acute childhood diarrhoea, repeated in Nepal
In a replication of a trial carried out in Nicaragua in 1994, 116 Nepalese children aged 6 months to 5 years suffering from diarrhoea were given an individualised homoeopathic medicine or placebo. Treatment by homoeopathy showed a significant improvement in the condition in comparison to placebo.
Jacobs J., Jimenez M., Malthouse S., Chapman E., Crothers D., Masuk M., Jonas W.B., Acute Childhood Diarrhoea- A Replication., Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 6, 2000, 131-139.
A meta-analysis of childhood diarrhoea trials
This meta-analysis of 242 children showed a highly significant result in the duration of childhood diarrhoea (P=0.008). It should be noted that the World Health Organisation consider childhood diarrhoea to be the number one public health problem today because of the millions of children who die every year from dehydration from diarrhoea.
J. Jacobs, WB Jonas, M Jimenez-Perez, D Crothers, Homeopathy for Childhood Diarrhea: Combined Results and Meta-analysis from Three Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trials
Let’s be a little bit more comprehensive. The Society have cherry picked their studies and failed to acknowledge the sticking points.
Here are all the trials published on childhood diarrhoea and homeopathy, including the ones the Society failed to mention.
1. Jacobs J, Jimenez LM, Gloyd SS, et al. Treatment of acute childhood diarrhea with homeopathic medicine: a randomized clinical trial in Nicaragua. Pediatrics. 1994;93:719–725.
2. Jacobs J, Jimenez LM, Malthouse S, et al. Homeopathic treatment of acute childhood diarrhea: results from a clinical trial in Nepal. J Altern Complement Med. 2000;6:131–139.
3. Jacobs J, Jimenez LM, Gloyd SS, et al. Homeopathic treatment of acute childhood diarrhea: a randomized clinical trial in Nicaragua. Br Homeopath J. 1993;82:83–86.
4. Jacobs J, Guthrie BL, Montes GA et al. Homeopathic combination remedy in the treatment of acute childhood diarrhea in honduras. J Altern Complement Med. 2006;12:723-32.
The obvious thing is that they have all been done by the same author. So, an alarm bell should ring that these studies have not been independently replicated.
The first of these studies was perhaps the most important, being published in a real journal, and not a CAM comic, and showing a ‘significant’ effect. The next issue of the journal contained a rather damning critique,
Analysis of Homeopathic Treatment of Childhood Diarrhea by Sampspon and London.
“In summary: 1) The study used an unreliable and unproved diagnostic and therapeutic scheme; 2)There was no control for product adulteration; 3)Treatment selection was arbitrary; 4) The data were placed into odd groupings without explanation, and contained errors and unexplained inconsistencies; 5) The results were not clinically significant and were probably not statistically significant; 6) There was no public health significance; 7) Selection of references was incomplete and biased to support the claims of the article, and references were quoted inaccurately; and 8) Editorializations were inappropriate.”
When Jacobs did her own metaanalysis of the first three trials she acknowledged the lack of statistical power in these studies and recommended larger trials. She did the fourth larger trial (which was also of better quality) and surprise surprise,
The homeopathic combination therapy tested in this study did not significantly reduce the duration or severity of acute diarrhea in Honduran children.
The result of this careful study was that the homeopathic treatment was no better than a placebo. But the homeopath authors do not conclude that homeopath did not work, they speculate the tablets had not been stored properly or that the wrong combination of sugar pills was made. At no point do they propose as a possibility that homeopathy can have absolutely no effect on a third-world child with the squits. And joking aside, diarrhea kills hundreds of thousands of children around the world, so intellectual honesty in studies like this, is not an optional add-on.
The Society of Homeopaths have failed to note these severe shortcomings. I can only conclude that the Society of Homeopaths are intellectually dishonest and only interested in misrepresenting science for the sake of their shabby trade.
The Society cannot be trusted to give meaningful health advice and to rein in the dangerous practices of their members. In giving out this misleading press release, the Society once again endanger children’s lives.