Ten Reasons why the Society of Homeopaths Should not Receive PSA Accreditation

psaThe Society of Homeopaths are applying to become accredited as a voluntary professional register with the Professional Standards Authority. Should the PSA approve their application, it will mean that the PSA, rather than ensuring standards in health care, has become a direct threat to public health.

The PSA are calling for feedback by the 17th of January on the Society of Homeopaths before they approve them. Perhaps you might want to let them know what you think about their fitness against the stated standards.

Here are the top ten reasons why the PSA should reject their application.

1. Homeopaths are not healthcare professionals.

Members of the Society of Homeopaths have no knowledge, training or practices that can diagnose or successfully treat illness. Their members are almost exclusively ‘lay’ homeopaths – medically untrained individuals. Homeopathy is based on the 200 year old pre-scientific and magical ideas of Samual Hahnemann.  Homeopaths study his works as if they were religious texts and follow his rituals and beliefs despite their utter implausibility and detachment from reality. Homeopathy is a pseudo-medical cultish belief system, a simulacrum of medical care, and crucially missing the essential ability to be able to make specific positive health improvements in their customers. Whilst homeopaths may have the intention to act as health providers, their beliefs make them systematically incompetent and a threat to the well-being of those they practice on. At best homeopathy is a lifestyle choice for some, not a healthcare profession.

Accrediting homeopaths would be like letting air guitarists join the Musicians’ Union.

2. Homeopathic remedies are not medicine.

Homeopaths administer sugar pills or drops of water/alcohol that are devoid of any active ingredient. All remedies are identical but simply labeled differently. Patients are told that the remedies are specific to their needs. This is indistinguishable from fraud. The remedies are made by a ritual involving sympathetic magic where tinctures of herbs, minerals, and other absurd items are diluted to extreme levels, Many homeopaths manufacture their pills in absurd electrical devices. The public perceive homeopathic remedies as being ‘natural’ and herb based and homeopaths do little to correct this. It is a simple deception and fraud on the public.

3. Homeopaths prescribe their remedies illegally

Despite homeopathic remedies being simple sugar pills, the medicines regulator see fit to regulate them as if they were medicines. Only a handful of remedies from a few suppliers have the appropriate registrations. Most remedies, prescribed by homeopaths, will be done in contravention of the medicines regulations. The business model of homeopathy in the UK is illegal. The Society of Homeopaths lobbied for a law change but were unsuccessful. Nonetheless, they proclaimed victory by interpreting the MHRA response to mean that homeopaths will not be prosecuted for breaking the law. The Societies Code of Ethics is clear that members should abide by the law. The Society are not doing anything about this mass breach of their own code or to ensure that their members only supply pills within the law.

4. Homeopaths are not trained in any meaningful way.

There is no accepted definition of what constitutes homeopathy. There is  no agreement on standards on how to practice. There are deep divisions within the community about fundamental issues such as whether only one remedy or many can be prescribed, about esoteric practices and production methods and about the extent and scope of practice. There are no longer any accredited courses in the UK. Training is simply a matter of initiating people into the cult of homeopathic practices. No homeopaths are taught how to practice ethically within the constraints of what the evidence base says about the effectiveness of their treatment. As such, homeopaths do not gain knowledge through training but are inculcated in myth, delusion and ways of ignoring external criticism. They have no understanding of the risks associated with prescribing inert pills whilst believing they are effective. As such, homeopaths are systematically incompetent and pose a direct risk to public health.

5. Homeopaths practice dangerously

Homeopathy is not complementary as they often describe themselves. Homeopaths see them as possessing the one true method of understanding health and healing. Homeopathy is founded on its strict opposition to what it calls Allopathy - or real medicine. A such, homeopaths see no boundaries of scope and see their practice as universal. This leads them to treating everything from mild headaches to dangerous and serious conditions such as cancer, AIDS, TB, autism, asthma and even meningitis. Homeopaths have no understanding of the risks associated with telling people homeopathy can treat such dangerous conditions.

6. Homeopaths routinely do not abide by their code of conduct

The Code of Conduct is clear on a number of important issues. For example, that homeopaths should not make claims to treat named conditions and to abide by Advertising Standards rules. These rules have been widely flouted both at individual member level and by the Society itself. A few years ago, I tested this by picking a random member who advertised asthma services and who claimed to treat HIV in Africa. The Society’s response was not to investigate properly but to threaten my web hosts and myself with legal action. The Society cleared this homeopath and others of any wrong doing, even though their actions would threaten people’s lives.

When the BBC investigated their members for making seriously dangerous recommendations about malaria prevention, the Society issued very misleading press releases about what they had done to investigate the issue. No member was ever sanctioned for very clear breaches of their code of conduct and they squirmed in their denials on TV. Years later, members were still involved in offering similar advice despite the Society’s supposed “shock” that this was happening. The BBC investigated Neals Yard Remedies for giving dangerous advice. ‘Medicines’  Director and Society of Homeopaths member, Susan Curtis stormed out of a BBC interview after serious allegations were put to her and subsequently made misleading statements about the nature of the remedies offered. BBC Newsnight had to revisit the issue as it was clear the Society had done nothing to clear up their members’ practices.

7. Homeopaths routinely make unsubstantiated health claims and systematically breach Advertising Regulations.

The ASA have received more complaints about homeopaths in the last few years than any other similar group. These complaints have not just been about individual members of the Society but about the Society of Homeopaths themselves. In the most recent ruling, the ASA specifically decided to investigate how the Society of Homeopaths advertised as “an industry body, the Society of Homeopaths had access to the relevant evidence, and we therefore considered the case was suitable to establish our lead position on claims for homeopathy.”

The ASA found all three issues investigated about claims made by the Society were misleading, unsubstantiated and likely to discourage essential treatment. (See Daily Mail Article, Homeopaths are putting patients at risk by discouraging them from seeking medical treatment, watchdog claims”)

Despite the Society issuing statements about how to comply with the CAP code, it appears unable to do so itself. Members of the Society have held protests outside the ASA offices. And despite reassurances that the Society will change the way it advertises, large projects it is involved with, such as the high profile celebrity Find A Homeopath website are still in breach of their own code and the ASA guidelines with the inclusion of patient testimonials for named conditions.

8. Homeopaths undermine public health messages and risk childrens lives.

The most serious way in which homeopaths undermine public health messages and risk children is through their entrenched opposition to immunisation. The Society’s bland statements about ‘patient choice’ are mere fig leaves over a criminal lack of regard by their members for the advantages of immunisation against serious diseases like measles. Indeed, it was one of the Society of Homeopaths directors who, together with Andrew Wakefield, came up with the scheme to use legal aid money to convince the world that the MMR vaccine was dangerous. The result is now well known. The research was found to be fraudulent, Wakefield was struck off and MMR has been exonerated. The director of the Society has since been threatening to sue authors who discuss his role in this affair that threatened the lives of many children.

In Steiner Schools, now publicly funded as Free Schools, the in-school doctors practice homeopathy on the children. Measles outbreaks are common in Steiner Schools and the  Health Protection Agency views Steiner Schools as “High Risk” and as “unvaccinated communities”. As such, they pose direct risks to the children within them and to the surrounding community.

9. Homeopaths Kill

We have seen how homeopaths believe they can treat all sorts of dangerous diseases. Nothing is more shocking than how members of the Society of Homeopaths claim they can treat cancer. As Professor Edzard Ernst points out on his blog, Neil Spence RSHom makes many ‘far reaching’ claims about his ability to treat people with cancer. Not only is this against the Code of Conduct of the Society of Homeopaths but is also almost certainly in breach of the Cancer Act 1939. As Ernst concludes, “The thought that some cancer patients might be following such recommendations is most disturbing.” And I would add that the thought that the PSA will be rubber stamping such practitioners is even more disturbing.

10. Voluntary regulation of homeopaths is incapable of protecting the public. It just aggrandizes quacks.

Voluntary regulation is just that. Homeopaths can choose whether or not they wish to have the regulator’s sticker in their window. Should any complaint be received against them, they can simply remove the sticker and carry on as if nothing has happened. The advantages of being regulated are simply to give the impression that there is some sort of State sanction or recognition of what they do. This imprimatur is mere advertising and is a component of the deception that they pull on the public. As such, the PSA will be by accrediting the Society of Homeopaths be a central part of undermining the public understanding of good health practice, evidence and scientific medicine. People will be harmed and will die as a result.

 

In conclusion, health regulation in this country should be about protecting the public from the untrained, the unscrupulous, the incompetent and the fraudulent. It should not be about promoting 19th Century forms of quackery and helping those who practice pseudo-medicine to make a living. If the PSA were to accredit the Society of Homeopaths it will be doing just that. Instead of protecting the public it will become part of the threat to the public from pseudomedical treatments.

I suspect though that the Society will get its way. Recently, in the House of Lords, aquesiton was asked about “whether they intend to appoint a scientist to the Professional Standards Authority”. The response from Earl Howe was frightening,

My Lords, the Government have no plans to change the membership of the council of the Professional Standards Authority. The authority is required under the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to set standards for organisations holding voluntary registers for health and social care occupations, and accredits those which meet these standards. It is not required to make a judgment on the beliefs and practices of individuals registered with the organisations that it accredits.

Let that sink in. The regulator has no obligation to consider the beliefs and practices of those it wishes to regulate. 

Even more shocking perhaps was the response of Baroness Pitkeathley, who just happens to be the Chair of the PSA.

Does the Minister agree that as by next March more than 75 occupations and 100,000 practitioners will be covered by the accredited voluntary register scheme, the public are much better informed and better protected than they have ever been?

It is not clear how Pitkeathley thinks that the public are going to be better informed and protected by her rubber stamping the most egregious form of quackery that we have to put up with.

To remind you, if you wish to make your views known about this issue, then you have until the 17th of January to send a submission to the PSA about the suitability of the Society for accreditation.

 

69 comments for “Ten Reasons why the Society of Homeopaths Should not Receive PSA Accreditation

  1. January 6, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    I notice that the category of “Social Care” was added to the standards – which seems like a gift to homeopathy and other forms of quackery, because they can just get in as Professional Social Carers but then use the accreditation to continue playing Doctor.

    • January 7, 2014 at 12:32 am

      Not really, Ophelia. The National Health Service Reform and Health Care Professions Act 2002, section 25D (1) (c) (as inserted by the Health and Social Care Act 2012, section 228), states that they can register organisations whose members are ‘unregulated social care workers in England’. This is defined in section 25E as:

      “Unregulated social care worker in England” means a person engaged in social care work in England within the meaning of section 60 of the Health Act 1999.

      So I don’t think homeopaths can use that category.

  2. Dr Richard Rawlins
    January 6, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    I heartedly endorse all these points except the first.

    Shamefully, about 400 homeopaths are actually registered medical practitioners.

    I am seeing a former GMC Chairman about their view on Thursday.

    I guess Andy means ‘Apart from about 400 homeopaths who are actually medical doctors, homeopaths are not healthcare professionals….’

    And of course those who are GMC registrants do not need PSA accreditation.

    We should not forget that Hahnemann developed ‘homeopathy’ precisely because he gave up orthodox medicine and was incapable of working with his colleagues to reform and improve ‘medicine’ – which, over the years has come about, not least giving up bleeding and imporoving standards of regulated medicines (more work needed of course). Todays homeopaths are just not prepared to join in this endeavour, and remain wedded to their faith.

    Faiths should not be regulated by the PSA. That would be nonsense. I know scientology is now regarded by law as a ‘religion’ (but not yet by the tax authorities) – but scientology auditors are not regulated by PSA. Nor are vicars, rabbis, immams etc.

    If and when homeopathy grows up and recognises it achieves its benefits by placebo effects – and obtains consent from patients with that understanding – we can think again. That’s the deal. Acquiescing with deluded ambition does no one any favours and undermines attempts to improve standards of medicine itself.

    • Andy Lewis
      January 6, 2014 at 7:34 pm

      Hi Richard. I have amended the first point to make it clear that I am talking about Society members who are almost all ‘lay’ homeopaths. That is, homeopaths who have received no medical training.

      How we should regulate medically trained homeopaths is another matter and one I fear the GMC has ducked. Just like the vet regulators do too.

      • January 6, 2014 at 8:07 pm

        A slight deviation, but on the question of ‘lay’ versus ‘trained’ homeopaths, let me bring forth this example from India – which illustrates just how far officially sanctioned quackery can go: AYUSH.

        • Dr Richard Rawlins
          January 8, 2014 at 7:42 pm

          True, but in the manner of these things, misleading:

          In 2003 the Indian Government changed the term ‘Indian System of Medicine and Homeopathy’ and renamed it as AYUSH – Astang Ayurveda, Yog and Naturopathy, Unani Tibb, Sidda and Homeopathy.

          There is now an Ayush Medical Association for practitioners of the ‘Ayush System.’ The AMA would like to have the Ayush system ‘removed from the complementary and alternative medical system and try to recognise it like other scientific medical system and national medical system as modern medical system.’ (Sic. Constitution of the AMA).

          Except that the standards of scientific evidence-base are not those recognised by conventional systems, and the various practices of Ayush remain faith based.
          Some might think each practice is mutually contradictory.

          In 2008, the Indian Government’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare made clear it ‘has not recognised an Integrated System of Medicine. Moreover, currently there is no proposal to introduce or to develop Integrated System of Medicine by the Government of India. So the question of budget allocation does not arise.’ (www.ayushmedicalassociation.org/pdf/constitution.pdf.

          Toxic Mercury and other heavy metals are components of many remedies, and extreme care has to be taken in their use.

          So, the Indian government now uses a trendy new term for these non-science based treatments – but does not actually ‘sanction’ them as such.

          Rather like Mao Tse Tung recognised the existence of TCM as a fact of life, but did not use it himself and did not approve of it.

      • Dr Richard Rawlins
        January 7, 2014 at 9:42 am

        ‘Doctors’ can of choose to be regulated by PSA as well, but if they are registrants of the GMC – they do need to do so.

        If only ‘Mr. Big’ would declare homeopathy is a fraud we could rally around that. No one in authority seems to care that folks are being scammed. In India and China the authorities take the view that ‘some care is better than none, and we don’t want to challenge belief syatems.’
        The problem is, homeopaths do not admit that is all there is to it.

        The issue is not regulation of homeopathy, but the failure of any regulatory system to be robust and only regulate on a rational basis. I’m all for ‘Rational Regulation.’ (Nice initials!)

      • jon killi
        January 7, 2014 at 10:20 am

        in my understanding the GMC is acting unlawfully if it does not police medical personell to ensure exclusion av Fraudsters et al.
        is the GMC laying itself open to courtcases ?
        i ask, as i am not british, and fo not know the mandate of the GMC and the laws of your country.
        iof GMC is not responsible for such policing, who is ?
        jon

        • Dr Richard Rawlins
          January 7, 2014 at 2:34 pm

          The GMC should do the job, but avoids the issue. Proving fraud is difficult.

          We must all keep at it!

    • January 7, 2014 at 12:37 am

      Richard

      My reading of the legislation is that AVR is only for organisations of unregulated health professionals/workers and not for ones that are already regulated. However, I am not sure about someone who is a regulated health professional who is also a quack and a member of an unregulated occupation. The reason, I think, is so that no conflicts arise from someone being regulated by two regulators.

      The regulations are not the easiest things to comprehend…

  3. January 6, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    On the same PSA page, I saw British Acupuncture Council is renewing their accreditation. We should present similar arguments (as above) to comment on that, too, shouldn’t we? Their date is a day earlier – January 16.

    • Andy Lewis
      January 6, 2014 at 7:35 pm

      Quite. Acupucture is simple quackery too. I do think the homeopaths represent some of the biggest danger too though. Note that with the accreditation of Ofquack that the battle is already lost I fear. We have a regulator who sees no issue with aggrandizing quackery.

      • Feeferscat@gmail.com
        January 8, 2014 at 4:28 pm

        Acupuncture does actually work … for one very specific type of lower back pain.

        • John Hooper
          January 9, 2014 at 12:50 pm

          A rather glib statement, and slightly OT.

          Could you be more specific.

          Which “type” of back pain, caused by what underlying problem.

          References would be nice.

        • Der Maskierte Kommentator
          January 10, 2014 at 11:05 am

          Nah. Its effects are not greater than a placebo.

          And the placebo effect does work when it comes to pain. It won’t heal anything, but it will make you feel better, at least for a while.

      • PeterT
        April 21, 2014 at 5:43 pm

        Michael Shermer (Skeptic magazine editor) acknowledges acupuncture has a measurable impact, but not for the reasons claimed by Qi-spouting quacks. Reasons still unknown, eg., non-specific physiologic reaction to needling or placebo–but worth investigating… see this article: http://www.michaelshermer.com/2005/08/full-of-holes/#more-62

  4. January 6, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    I have some experience of being a regulator (in the field of insolvency) going back to the days when anybody, with no qualifications at all, could practice. When regulation, professional training and licensing was introduced in 1986 a policy decision was taken to let the roques (who were well known) into the professional bodies so as to monitor them, deal with complaints about them, and eventually get then all struck off.

    By and large, this worked.

    The problem with PSA is its voluntary nature. If they are not allowed to join, they will carry on regardless, outside of a proper disciplinary framework. It depends whether you want them inside the tent or not…

  5. JimR.
    January 7, 2014 at 3:33 am

    Do any practicing homeopaths make their own mixtures?
    If so, I would argue they are not working in sanitary conditions, thus afoul of sanitary regulations.
    Sanitary preparations of meds is a very difficult standard to meet and maintain.

    • January 7, 2014 at 10:53 am

      They may well make their own, but my understanding of the medicines regulations is that that would be illegal unless they are also a registered pharmacist and their facilities registered as manufacturing premises with the MHRA.

      • Dr Richard Rawlins
        January 7, 2014 at 2:36 pm

        Homeopathic remedies are not licensed medicines and are regulated (by the MHRA) under a different scheme.

        There’s the rub.

        • January 7, 2014 at 2:50 pm

          Yes, none have Marketing Authorisations, of course, but they are still some registered and authorised homeopathic ‘medicines’. Because they are classed as medicines, they have to comply with lots of other regulations as well, including GMP requirements.

  6. January 7, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    You say near the end of # 2. Homeopathic remedies are not medicine.
    “The public perceives homeopathic remedies as being ‘natural’ and herb based and homeopaths do little to correct this. It is a simple deception and fraud on the public.”

    If this were not so serious, I would laugh. Belladonna is a natural substance but it is something I would not take unless under the supervision of a REAL doctor. There are many other examples of plants that are NATURAL such as wolfsbane, deadly nightshade, Bloodroot, Columbine, Datura, Foxglove, Hemlock, etc. (I could go on and on) that can be deadly but are natural. NATURAL does not equal SAFE!!!!!!!!!

  7. January 8, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    For what it’s worth, I responded to the call for information re the application for registration. There are several points in the Standards that are potentially useful, first of which is the consumer protection requirement – the SoH are engaged in promoting homeopathy, and this is a conflict of interest, placing them in the position of advocating for members and notionally also advocating for consumers. Medical regulators typically do not spend their time trying to persuade the public that their field is valid.

    The issues with past failures to protect consumers (especially malaria but also immunisation generally) are significant.

    One good bit is the section asking “Are you aware of any risks posed by the occupation (s) registered by the organisation that should be included in their risk assessment?”

    I noted that they would need to have credible independent reviews to check whether members were giving advice privately that may not be promoted publicly due to advertising standards restrictions – the society tells its members not to advertise to treat or cure disease but I found sites saying in effect “we’re not allowed to say what we can treat or cure, please call for details” – given that there is evidence that the society themselves do not accept the scientific basis on which this restriction is based, it’s essential that they demonstrate an independent review system that demonstrates their members are not making claims that are not supportable and which the society says should not be made (even if the society privately believes they should).

    The fact that the society is actively engaged in lobbying for uses which are outside this restriction, such as their submissions to the science and technology committee over antibiotic resistance, proves that the society themselves cannot fulfil this role.

    The same applies to anti immunisation propaganda. That is a significant public health risk, and they need to show in their risk assessment that this risk is quantified and addressed. Right now I bet they have no idea at all how many members offer anti-vax advice.

    I also discussed the issue of building a base of knowledge. This is impossible since there are mutually contradictory ideas which are held by different members on an arbitrary basis, and no objective way of settling the difference because if you ask the question is the single similimum uniquely valid or does combination homeopathy also work, the only objective result is that both are equally bogus. The knowledge base cannot be built, only a base of opinion.

    There’s also a problem with ensuring correct standards of education: there are very few accredited courses, and some of these are provably insane. College of Practical Homeopathy appears to be endorsed by the Society, and is accredited, but it teaches germ theory denial.

    Public protection is the biggest one though. The society would have to demonstrate that all members are aware of the limitations of their practice, since they are medically untrained; yet there is substantial evidence that the society itself does not accept this limitation. The long-time fudge is to allow claims related to the symptomatic relief of minor self-limiting ailments, but the society itself is promoting claims in excess of this in evidence to the House of Commons, and in testimonials planted as editorial through “homeopathy works for me”, at the same time telling its members that these exact same claims may not be made on websites or in promotional material. The society cannot effectively monitor its members understanding of the limits of practice when the society itself does not seem to accept this limit and is actively lobbying for the limit to be extended even while telling members to stick within the existing limit.

    I encourage people to read the standards and draw your own conclusions. There’s a lot that can be said, and several solid arguments showing that the society cannot meet the requirements of the standards.

  8. Dr Richard Rawlins
    January 8, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    An excellent response which I have copied to my MP Dr. Sarah Wollaston, a former GP. She is ‘on side’.

    Currently the Health Committee is chaired by David Treddenick MP, who was in trouble for claiming expenses for courses on astrology and who supports homeopathy.

    Says all you need to know about politicians.

  9. Anatheme schmoldu
    January 10, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    “9. Homeopaths Kill”
    Of course you have evidence to back up your statement, or is this libel?

    • Andy Lewis
      January 10, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      Of course, a responsible profession would not make legal threats but would be more concerned with having practices and procedures in place to ensure that they are not killing people. Since homeopaths have no mechanism for following up, adverse event reporting and no real regulation of people who make false claims then of course we can have little idea how much harm homeopaths are doing. This is their inherent irresponsibility.

      And of course if you want evidence of how homeopaths do kill then perhaps you could do worse than starting here.

      http://whatstheharm.net/homeopathy.html

      • anatheme schmoldu
        January 10, 2014 at 2:57 pm

        Whatsthearm is not a reliable source of evidence; your statement is”homeopaths kill” can you provide concrete evidence, direct link cause to effect, of one homeopath having killed a patient?

        • Andy Lewis
          January 10, 2014 at 8:45 pm

          So far, you have refused to answer any questions or read any of the evidence presented to you.

          But let’s humour you for a little bit longer.

          What sort of evidence would convince you that homeopathy was dangerous and could kill?

          Once you have answered this, perhaps we can have a more sensible discussion.

          • January 10, 2014 at 9:24 pm

            anatheme schmoldu also needs to articulate what they think is acceptable as a definition for “kill” – (a) direct killing of a patient by application of homeopathy, and/or (b) indirect killing of a patient via application of homeopathy (which translates to “not affording necessary medical care”).

      • anatheme schmoldu
        January 10, 2014 at 3:41 pm

        Whatsthearm a reliable source of evidence? you must be joking!
        My question is do you have any concrete evidence, cause to effect, of one homeopath who killed a patient with a homeopathic prescription?

        • Andy Lewis
          January 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm

          Why should it not be? Each case is referenced. Is there one you would like to dispute?

          I think I would like to add that one of the chief objections to regulating homeopaths is their complete lack of ability to engage in critical self-appraisal and to reflect on cases such as these where the outcomes have been bad or disasterous. Instead, homeopaths prefer to smear, dismiss and explain away.

          • anatheme schmoldu
            January 10, 2014 at 4:23 pm

            So, no evidence then.

          • Andy Lewis
            January 10, 2014 at 4:25 pm

            It is a perfectly reasonable assumption that telling people with serious disease that sugar pills can cure them will kill them. It is not up to me to show that this is true but up to the homeopaths making the claims that they can actually treat people. The burden of proof is on homeopaths and is ethically intolerable that they do not do so. Without robust evidence that their claims are true, homeopaths should not be making them and risking killing patients.

          • January 10, 2014 at 5:23 pm

            anatheme schmoldu
            January 10, 2014 at 4:23 pm

            So, no evidence then.

            Anatheme, Andy gave you a URL where each case is referenced. Why do you persist in this deliberate obtuseness? Why can you not actually look up the references yourself before commenting further?

        • January 10, 2014 at 3:44 pm

          What systems are in place to record adverse effects from homeopathy?

          • January 11, 2014 at 7:35 am

            Depending on national definitions of homeopathic remedies the systems may vary. Within the EU the regulation 1235/2010 and directive 2010/84/EU states that all regulated drugs (as is the case for homeopathic remedies in Sweden, and as far as I’m able to understand also in the UK and the rest of the EU) are to be included in pharmacovigilance systems provided by competent agencies and supported on all levels of the drugs life cycle, i.e. by the producer, the regulator, the practitioner and the user. The biggest problem here seems to be that homeopaths don’t see a need for pharmacovigilance at all as their craft is void-of-faults. I’ve often tried to get a straight answer out of classical homeopaths for the question of when a homeopathic treatment fail should be acknowledged – sadly without success thus far, the answer always comes back in the style of “it can take several sessions and tries to find the right remedy because the treatment is holistic and the patient may not be aware of the level of detail needed to choose the right one” or “since it takes at least as long to cure the ailment as it did to develop it one cannot rush the process for complete and permanent healing”. With this kind of efficacy-guaranteed-by-time I don’t have any hopes for ever getting a good AERS for homeopathy…

  10. January 10, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    As a sign language interpreter (BSL/English) I’ve been following the PSA accreditation process ever since the NRCPD, the Register-holding organisation in the UK for sign language interpreters and other communication support workers, are also currently considering applying for PSA accreditation. Personally I’m horrified by this as interpreters, even those who do work in healthcare settings (many do not), have worked very hard not to be associated with medical models of disability, and how we could be defined as “health and social care workers” and would ever get past PSA Standard 1 is beyond me. The idea that interpreters, who are qualified linguists and have nothing to do with giving medical advice or administering therapies, might be associated with homeopaths and acupuncturists is moderately terrifying as well.

    I’d like to thank the author above for pointing out the Call for Information process.

    I also note that the Association of Christian Counsellors are also now applying for PSA accreditation. They are best known for “reparative therapy”, also known as “pray away the gay”.

    • January 10, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      Matt

      I wasn’t aware of the ACC or their gay ‘cure’ – do you have a link that demonstrates that?

  11. anatheme schmoldu
    January 10, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Andy, it is up to you to provide evidence to back up your claim, assumptions are not evidence, the burden of proof is on you for your statement: “homeopathy kills”
    prove it.

    • Andy Lewis
      January 10, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      You may like this to be true. And your refusal to countenance that actually homeopaths ought to be sure they do not kill I would suggest is morally repugnant.

      You have still not been able to say why you will not look at “What’s the Harm?” web site for lots of evidence of homeopaths harming their customers.

    • Andy Lewis
      January 10, 2014 at 6:57 pm

      And perhaps you would like to read this letter from a woman dying of cancer and in terrible pain to her homeopath after falling for her promises that her sugar pills could cure her. Do you have the honesty to read this?

      http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/history/2012/0407dingle_letters.htm

      • anatheme schmoldu
        January 12, 2014 at 11:54 am

        The letter is of course very dramatic, but the conclusions of the coroner in this case, are much more interesting and show an exceptional and unfortunate set of circumstances
        Your statement: “homeopaths kill” is still supported by anecdotal evidence: you are guilty of double standard: if alternative medicine claim to help various conditions, all their arguments are anecdotal evidence, but when you make such a broad statement: “homeopath kills” you only have anecdotal evidence to back it up. If you are honest, you should remove this statement or modify it as “I believe homeopaths may kill by negligence

        • Andy Lewis
          January 12, 2014 at 4:59 pm

          I am sure it is very easy for you to brush away this tragedy with a wave of the hand. I don’t believe any homeopath has ever suggested their trade should look at such events and critically appraise the contribution of homeopathic beliefs to Mrs Dingle’s painful death.

          But what is more important is that you have refused to answer a very important question put to you.

          Let me repeat myself:

          What sort of evidence would convince you that homeopathy was dangerous and could kill?

          That is a very important question. Since you have accused me of supplying no evidence, despite a list of tragic cases being given, I think it is important that you state what drives your idea of good evidence.

        • Chris
          January 12, 2014 at 7:37 pm

          So how does a homeopath cure cancer?

          You seem to be ignoring the following which were found on PubMed. Do you need instructions on how to use that particular index?

          J Law Med. 2012 Mar;19(3):454-78.
          Death by homeopathy: issues for civil, criminal and coronial law and for health service policy.

          Am J Surg. 2006 Oct;192(4):471-3.
          Outcomes of breast cancer in patients who use alternative therapies as primary treatment.

          Med Clin (Barc). 2004 Mar 6;122(8):318-9.
          [Fatal acute pancreatitis in a patient who received an homeopathic treatment].

          Eur J Epidemiol. 2003;18(8):817-22.
          Use of CAM results in delay in seeking medical advice for breast cancer.

          J Travel Med. 1996 Mar 1;3(1):62.
          Homeopathic Resistant Malaria.

          Lakartidningen. 1995 Nov 22;92(47):4467-8.
          [False safety with homeopathic agents. Swedes became ill with malaria in spite of prophylaxis].

          BMJ. 1993 Nov 13;307(6914):1232-3.
          Parents jailed after child dies of diabetes.

          Ann Plast Surg. 1991 Dec;27(6):583-5.
          Giant melanoma of the inner thigh: a homeopathic life-threatening negligence.

          Br Med J. 1964 Jul 11;2(5401):125.
          FATAL POLIOMYELITIS AFTER HOMOEOPATHIC VACCINE.

        • Zed
          February 27, 2014 at 6:05 pm

          If a person travels to Africa and is ‘prescibed’ homeopathic malarial treatment then the individual contracts malaria and possibly dies from the consequences then the death is down to either the homeopath or homeopathy. If you can give case studies as to how homeopathy has cured, qualifications of the person who prescribed the dose then do so, otherwise the simple answer would be homeopathy and homeopaths kill people methinks?

    • Chris
      January 11, 2014 at 1:04 am

      anatheme schmoldu, you have it backwards. You need to provide evidence that homeopathy is effective for non-self-limiting conditions. Prove that it works for cancer, or prevents malaria, is a viable substitute for insulin,

      Found on PubMed:

      J Law Med. 2012 Mar;19(3):454-78.
      Death by homeopathy: issues for civil, criminal and coronial law and for health service policy.

      Am J Surg. 2006 Oct;192(4):471-3.
      Outcomes of breast cancer in patients who use alternative therapies as primary treatment.

      Med Clin (Barc). 2004 Mar 6;122(8):318-9.
      [Fatal acute pancreatitis in a patient who received an homeopathic treatment].

      Eur J Epidemiol. 2003;18(8):817-22.
      Use of CAM results in delay in seeking medical advice for breast cancer.

      J Travel Med. 1996 Mar 1;3(1):62.
      Homeopathic Resistant Malaria.

      Lakartidningen. 1995 Nov 22;92(47):4467-8.
      [False safety with homeopathic agents. Swedes became ill with malaria in spite of prophylaxis].

      BMJ. 1993 Nov 13;307(6914):1232-3.
      Parents jailed after child dies of diabetes.

      Ann Plast Surg. 1991 Dec;27(6):583-5.
      Giant melanoma of the inner thigh: a homeopathic life-threatening negligence.

      Br Med J. 1964 Jul 11;2(5401):125.
      FATAL POLIOMYELITIS AFTER HOMOEOPATHIC VACCINE.

      Record of Investigation of Death (105 pages)

      Parents guilty of manslaughter over daughter’s eczema death

  12. JimR.
    January 14, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    http://madartlab.com/2014/01/10/the-memory-of-water/
    discusses how bad our memories are, let alone water having a memory of some diluent. It also includes a painting about the memory of water. Cute post.

  13. Y I A Jordeigh
    January 23, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Mrs Jordeigh is always telling me that Viz is childish rubbish – and she may well be right.

    However if it is childish then out of the mouths of babes and sucklings:

    Viz Top Tips (from the latest annual – down to £5 in Tesco):

    “Recreate a visit to the homeopath by simply drinking some tap water and throwing £50 out the window”

    “Rebottled Smarties make ideal medication for hypochondriacs”

    The entire world of quackery encapsulated in two sentences. What’s childish about that.

  14. JimR.
    February 1, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    The Times of India credulously reports, “Homoeopathy healing 80 % leprosy patients”
    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/raipur/Homoeopathy-healing-80-leprosy-patients-claims-Ayush/articleshow/29625076.cms

    • John Hooper
      February 4, 2014 at 8:59 pm

      Jim

      That article is indeed short on incredulity.

      However, it does say “2,700 such patients- who had undergone multi drug allopathic treatment for leprosy but were suffering from ulcer and lack of sensation in affected body parts- were selected and administered homeopathic drugs for a year to restore sensation”.

      The alleged cures were of ulcers and lack of sensation not actually of leprosy. One cannot but wonder to what extent the alleged cures were nothing of the sort and were merely the natural progression of the evil “allopathic treatment”.

      I imagine the 80% would have got better anyway and the other 20% were beyond helping. The whole report is a bit short on facts.

      To give them the benefit of incredulousabilityness there is also an article on the page entitled “The Death of Sugarpillery” (although I may have cut and pasted that incorrectly).

      More worrying for the worried well worriers should be the worrying embedded Google worrisome advert for:

      “Over 60s Funeral Plans
      http://www.goldencharter.co.uk
      Official Website Of The UKs Largest Independent Funeral Plan Provider”

      Maybe goldencharter know exactly where their business lies and this is a great example of highly targeted marketing.

  15. Y I A Jordeigh
    February 3, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Ma Jordeigh thinks that Indian lepers would be better off with superglue than sugarpillery.

    At least they could stick their fingers back on – which is more than they can do with Pixy Pills.

  16. KK
    June 7, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Why is there such a hate campaign against homeopathy? I think it’s because deep down you all know it works and you can’t bear the thought that science can’t prove it. There can be no doubt that it works. It is widely used to treat animals, babies and young children successfully so how can it be placebo? Indeed, the argument that it is placebo is dead in the water, since homeopathy has helped and cured so many people throughout the world (in India it is the main form of medical treatment) – you may as well say conventional treatment is placebo! There is no material substance left in the remedy because it acts in an energetic way, as do other types of alternative remedies such as acupuncture, reiki, reflexology etc. There is an electro-magnetic force running throughout the body on which these therapies work. This force ultimately rules the immune system. The body is also composed of over 80% water which could well act as a carrier for homeopathic remedies. I find it laughable that you describe homeopathy as dangerous when conventional medical drugs are not just dangerous but anathema to the human body – they don’t cure any illness but merely suppress it and if taken over a long period of time have horrific side-effects. These suppressed illnesses are passed on to future generations, often appearing in a different form, as so-called “genetic” illnesses. All alternative therapies work by strengthening the immune system which is the only way you can really cure any illness. The secret is to catch illnesses in their early stages when they are still curable.

    • June 7, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      Oh dear. So many logical fallacies, suppositions, misdirections, misunderstandings, errors and much fanciful thinking.

    • Woo Fighter
      June 8, 2014 at 1:34 am

      Gee, what a surprise. Karina sells homeopathy:

      http://woasis.net/?page_id=791

  17. Andy Lewis
    June 7, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    Karina – it’s not science that ‘can’t prove it’. It is homeopaths who have failed to demonstrate any specific effects from homeopathic remedies – they just do not work. And that you trot out the ‘babies and animals’ fallacy simply shows you do not understand what a placebo is.

    Homeopathy does not work on babies and animals. People think it does but they are mistaken. Sometimes animals and babies get bette rnayway and homeopaths think it is their magic pills.

    And as for homeopathy working in an ‘energetic way’, you simply have no idea what you are talking about. it is meaningless gobbledygook.

  18. Richard Rawlins
    June 8, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Katrina, do you ‘get it’?
    Do you understand Alan’s and now Andy’s clear exposition that ‘science’ can never prove anything?
    If not please accept the situation with as much good grace as you can muster.
    No one execerates homeopaths. It’s simply that no one has any plausible evidence of homeopathic remedies having any effect on diseases. (TLC works of course).
    If you think some people do ‘hate homeopaths’ please help us understand why you think that.

    • KK
      June 8, 2014 at 11:15 am

      I think what you have all failed to understand is that science is limited to the human intellect. There is a vast universe out there and probably only a fraction of it is accessible to the human intellect. Indeed, didn’t someone once call science “twentieth century arrogance”, arrogance to think that man could ever really know very much about the universe beyond his limited understanding. One thing which science has proved though is that everything in the universe is composed of vibrating energy which for me is the explanation for how alternative medical therapies can work, i.e. by tuning into that level of energy. I will leave you with one final example which proves beyond doubt that homeopathy is not placebo. Homeopathy is widely used to treat farm animals because it works and has no side-effects. If a herd of animals with an infection are given a homeopathic remedy in their drinking water and it cures them quickly of their infection, how on earth can that be placebo? They don’t know what is in their drinking water. You might as well admit that some things are genuinely beyond the human intellect to understand and one of them is homeopathy.

      • June 8, 2014 at 11:30 am

        No, you’re not helping much…

        But perhaps you could read some articles that might help dispel some erroneous beliefs:

        Alternative medicine: it works in animals and children

        Punk Psychologist: Homeopathy Does NOT Work On Babies or Animals!

        Why Bogus Therapies Seem to Work

      • Andy Lewis
        June 8, 2014 at 1:37 pm

        So, science is limited to ‘human intellect’ you say. So when you assert that homeopathy works, what sort of intellect are you using?

        There may well be much of the universe beyond our understanding. But whether or not you get better when you take homeopathy is well within our grasp of comprehension. We know how to assess such claims rigorously. The problem for homeopathy is that if fails any such examination. It simply cannot demonstrate that it has any specific effects on health. Homeopaths are fooled into thinking it does by regression to the mean, the natural course of the illness and by selection biases. (And that is why too that homeopaths think it works on babies and animals).

        And as for you saying “everything in the universe is composed of vibrating energy”. That is not an explanation of how homeopathy is supposed to work. It is a half understood statement of physics (and I am being extremely generous is saying it is “half understood”. What I mean is ‘said with complete and utter incomprehension in the way a dog looks at its owner when she is discussing their child’s maths homework.’)

        So, yes somethings are beyond human intellect, I grant you. But for some people, a lot more things are beyond their somewhat limited human intellect.

      • June 8, 2014 at 3:20 pm

        “You might as well admit that some things are genuinely beyond the human intellect to understand and one of them is homeopathy.”

        I come from the “Put some Windex on it” society and I think Windex is one of those things that is also beyond the human intellect to understand. Windex is far more effective than homeopathy, and it has active ingredients! If you have a rash, put some Windex on it! Acne, put some Windex on it, headache, put some Windex on it! Pet has fleas? Put some Windex on it! There’s literally nothing Windex can’t handle. It is beyond our ability to understand how fantastic this common household product is. But hold on… come to think of it, Big Pharma probably already knows but is keeping the benefits of Windex quiet. Who can blame them? If everybody knew of the health benefits of Windex, Big Pharma would go out of business. Forget homeopathy, I say… put some Windex on it!

      • Richard rawlins
        June 8, 2014 at 6:46 pm

        Katrina, please could you provide references to work which has divided herds of cattle into two groups – one to receive a homeopathic remedy, the other, TLC?
        What were the results?
        We know the homeopathically treated group got better, you have said so, but how did the other group get on please ?

        And can you explain how the remedies were ‘individualised’ for a herd of cows?
        You don’t treat humans as a herd, do you?

  19. June 9, 2014 at 5:54 am

    http://www.homeopathy-ecch.org/

    “15 May 2014

    Belgian Government legislates to restrict the availability of homeopathy to its citizens
    On 29 April 1999, in line with the international and national recommendations on complementary and alternative medical (CAM) therapies expressed by bodies such as the Council of Europe and the European Parliament, the Belgian Parliament voted in the Colla Law in order to initially regulate practitioners of four of the most popular CAM practices in Belgium: acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy and osteopathy.”

    “On Monday 12 May 2014, 15 years after the Colla Law was introduced, a Royal Decree was published by the Ministry of Health that completely denies the autonomy of the profession of the homeopath and deprives Belgian patients of their freedom of choice to have homeopathic treatment now and into the future.

    The final conditions established to be legally allowed to practise homeopathy are:

    1. practitioners have to be qualified as a medical doctor, dentist or midwife

    Thereby instantly denying the many homeopathy practitioners in Belgium who have practised for many years and paid into the Belgian taxation system the right to their livelihood.
    2. have a degree in homeopathy from an official college or university

    Nobody in Belgium meets this second condition because homeopathy up until now was only taught in private schools, whether to practitioners or medical doctors. Moreover, the deans of the faculties of medicine have recently declared that homeopathy does not belong in a medical curriculum and refuse to allow it to be taught at their universities. This means that in the future no-one, doctors included, will be able to undertake the required education to be able to practise homeopathy as required by the Law.

    A further stipulation says that doctors, dentists and midwives can only prescribe homeopathy for indications for which efficacy is evidence-based. This practically reduces the practice of homeopathy to ‘clinical homeopathy’ based only on a medical diagnosis, and leaves no room for the holistic and individualised approach of homeopathy that was originally meant to be the ‘added value’ of integrating CAM practices in health care.”

    • June 9, 2014 at 9:32 am

      I have to say, three cheers for Belgium. I very much look forward to other European states following their example.

      I understand this appears to be an illiberal position, but it is a position which best reflects scientific knowledge as we now understand it.

      Let me offer homeopaths an alternative. Allow each and every homeopathic remedy to undergo full stage 1, stage 2 and stage 3 clinical trials followed by certification for use as a medicine in each and every jurisdiction. The costs of such a process to be met by the manufacturer seeking to sell the treatment.

      Assuming these excellent remedies pass the certification process with flying colours, we will all thereafter agree that they are proven to be effective medicines, and the debate will be over.

      And just like any mainstream medicine, let us accept that it is unethical and illegal to offer such remedies for sale as “medicine” until they have been through the process. Which, if you fast track it, you might mange to reduce to about 10 years per treatment.

      It is your problem where you find human volunteers for the trials willing to undergo periodic blood tests and other observations to help prove the case.

      You should be able to get each medicine through the process for only a a few hundred million euros. Probably small fraction of what patients have paid homeopaths over the years, so a good investment.

  20. jon killi
    June 9, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    getting a bit tiresom, this set of comments. if i cannot convince a top politician on the merits of my position, i rely cannot convince a religious convert.
    why not concentrate on the dep of health and the first and second prime minister. all this effort must have better chances there.

  21. David Clark
    June 12, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    Hi. Reflecting on recent comments, I note from the Header that the January Deadline has now passed. Having accessed some of the PubMed references, I note that they refer to professional matters. I’m getting confused, Is this blog presenting a comment piece, health advice or a political view?

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