Latest homeopathic study says remedies don’t do jack shit.

Homeopathic “medicines” are little more than modern day snake oil yet millions of people swear by them and spend so many billions buying them that even mainstream pharmaceutical companies have gotten in on the act. There’s been a handful of studies down over the years which have shown that homeopathic remedies don’t have much of any effect beyond the placebo effect and now there’s one more study that reconfirms those findings yet again:

The study, published in Friday’s edition of the respected Lancet medical journal, is likely to anger the growing numbers of devoted practitioners of and adherents to alternative therapies that include homeopathy.

“There was weak evidence for a specific effect of homeopathic remedies, but strong evidence for specific effects of conventional interventions,” the study concluded.

“This finding is compatible with the notion that the clinical effects of homeopathy are placebo effects,” it added after examining findings from 110 homeopathy trials and an equal number of conventional medical trials.

In an editorial, the Lancet urged doctors to tell their patients they were wasting their time taking homeopathic medicines—but also to make more time to connect with the patients rather than just prescribing and forgetting.

“Now doctors need to be bold and honest with their patients about homeopathy’s lack of benefits, and with themselves about the failings of modern medicine to address patients’ needs for personalized care,” the journal said.

Entitled “The end of homeopathy”, the editorial queried how homeopathy was growing in popularity by leaps and bounds when for the past 150 years trials had found it ineffective.

“It is the attitudes of patients and providers that engender alternative-therapy seeking behaviors which create a greater threat to conventional care—and patients’ welfare—than do spurious arguments of putative benefits from absurd dilutions,” it said.

You can bet this isn’t sitting well with the folks who believe in homeopathy, especially those who are profiting from it. We can look forward to another round of the usual arguments on why this study is flawed/how X million of people can’t all be wrong/it’s all a conspiracy by Big Pharma to keep people sick and other assorted excuses over the next few days.

22 thoughts on “Latest homeopathic study says remedies don’t do jack shit.

  1. I’ve had what is apparently incurable progressive nerve damage for 6 years.  I am 36 years old and there are a few days a week I can’t climb my own stairs.  It’s cost me my job and my friends and my hobbies and basically my life.  My logical nature and skepticism render me fairly immune to the placebo effect.

    My mother has medical ‘issues’ that get resolved perfectly when she sees her homeopath.  From my point of view, she just needs someone she regards as an authority to tell her she is going to get well, and she gets well… the placebo effect is 95% effective on her.  (5% of the time she actually has something wrong with her, things that time and rest will cure.)

    The question, as I see it, is this: who has the better quality of life?  In black and white terms, is it her, with her blissful ‘ignorance’, or me, with my ‘enlightened’ misery?

    Cypher, from ‘The Matrix’:

    I know this steak doesn’t exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? … Ignorance is bliss.

    And I’m vegetarian, too :/  Dammit.

    Religion is the opiate of the masses.  Medicine, in some of its aspects, has become a religion in itself.  So what’s an atheist to do?

    I say take it where you can get it, if you’re fortunate enough to have a solution that works.  I don’t think I’d have said that before I became glitched.

  2. I think, foobario, that’s the point of the second recommendation from the Lancet article—that if doctors don’t consider the personal touch, engaging their patients, then those patients will tend to go to where they can find that interaction, regardless of the quality of the medical care (and especially since the placebo effect can “cure” so many things).

    I guess the question is, though, given that you have a very real nerve damage problem, would the placebo effect of a homeopathic advisor actually do you any good? It sounds like your mom’s “solution” only “works” because she doesn’t have much that it won’t work on.

  3. First let me say that I am not a user of homeopathic medicines, nor have I ever profited from them.

    However I would like to make 2 points against the Lancet article, which I think has been over-hyped:

    (1) The placebo effect is real, but it applies to both conventional and homeopathic medicines. Red antibiotic tablets are more effective than white ones, and so on. This is very well documented.

    (2) The Lancet study was one that set out to prove a particular hypothesis (the one it found) and it did this in a particular way: It took a few hundred existing research studies into homeopathic medicine efficacies. It then selected a smaller number of these, and applied statistical methods to the results of these. The result was the finding that homeopathic medicine performs no better than placebo.

    The method is important, because it is almost the same as what the drug companies do to prove that their patentable drugs are efficient miracles and wonders: they run a series of trials and the select the trials that give the result sought. Despite the fact that they manipulate the “controlled trials” method, they also act as if this is the only scientific way to prove the efficacy of a drug. In fact there are other scientific methods: single patient studies, long term studies, etc. not to be sniffed at.

    Note too that the Lancet magazine mentioned that a draft report on homeopathy by the World Health Organization says the majority of peer-reviewed scientific papers published over the past 40 years have demonstrated that homeopathy is superior to placebo in placebo-controlled trials.

    There is a lot here to unpack, and I for one am keeping an open mind.

  4. I don’t want to be a smartass (that’s not entirely true) but I can’t help but wonder what your mother’s medical “issues” are. A condition such as nervousness, lethargy, vapors or heebie-jeebies might very well be helped by anyone’s sympathetic ear, even a quack homeo. If, however, you cut off a hand, have a heart attack or suddenly go blind, I suggest you seek the attention of a real doctor….the kind with schoolin’ and all.

  5. prolotherapy- if your disease is having more money than you know what to do with, I have no doubt that homeopathy will help cure it.  But it’s demonstrably not much good for anything else.

  6. Hussar- my senility is the reason for the other half of the time I don’t make sense LOL

  7. [A Civil Defence van drives past.]
    Calling all scientists, calling all scientists. Be advised there will be a worldwide conference on global warming in Kyoto, Japan.
    [A man runs to the van.]
    MAN: I’ve got a degree in homeopathic medicine!
    VAN:You’ve got a degree in baloney!
    [The van sprays the scientist with a water cannon.]

    Futurama says it best, “Dr.” Nancy Malik.

  8. Care to offer up some proof, Dr. Nancy? Or are you just going to spout off and run away?

    I call drive-by spamming. Note that the link leads to her web page. Not her personal web page mind but a professional one (much as I dislike using the word ‘professional’).

  9. Being a chemical engineer, people demonize me all the time for telling them that homeopathic concoctions are total horse shit! My wife swears i’m crazy because I tell her all the time most “illegal” street drugs should be legalized because chemically they are safer than some of the crap pharmaceutical companies are producing.

  10. I followed the ‘Dr’ link, and then from there to a forum. There is a Note to Skeptics and/or Trolls thread, saying “Don’t question us”? Why, can’t they provide evidence or something?

  11. I was going to comment on some of the papers she linked to, but after seeing how she’s been spamming so many other sites with this nonsense and how others have already discredited her claims, I think instead I’ll just start marking her comments as the spam that they are.

  12. Most of the “comments” (she’s) made here and elsewhere seem to be nothing more repetitions of the same links. I don’t think it’s a bot account, but assuming it’s a person I can’t help but think it’s a professional pseudonym of someone(s) fronting for the argument from authority position. Some of the stuff I found suggests (she) might be punting (her) links from India, which is interesting if not definitive.

    Also, completely unrelated, the other day I noticed that you and Warren Ellis could have been separated at birth. 😛

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