~ Notes for easy reading ~
- Go directly to Chapter IV. Arguments in favor of homeopathy… in order to find resources & bibliography related to the effectiveness of homeopathy
- Go to Chapter III to read about the philosophy behind the debate on homeopathy
- Go to Chapter V. Arguments against the effectiveness of conventional medicine to read about issues in proving that current conventional medicine is effective
DISCLAIMER: This is not a medical advice article. It is not supposed to replace your doctor. It is just supposed to offer an opinion – mostly related to the philosophy of medicine.
A lot of discussion has been going on lately for the effectiveness of homeopathy, especially in the light of the US FTC which wants all homeopathic drugs to clearly state that (1) there is no scientific evidence that the product works and (2) the product’s claims are based only on theories of homeopathy from the 1700’s that are not accepted by most modern medical experts. [source]
II. The battle ground…
In simple words: The all mighty scientific community backed up by multi-billion turnover pharmaceutical industries and by politicians which have been lobbying for it for hundreds of years is afraid of some ultra diluted non-medicines which do nothing and yet have miraculously convinced billions of people that they work.
We are talking of a very weird battle here…
A battle which has the same goal that almost every battle that recent (from the enlightenment) western “civilization” fought had: MONEY. And there is a lot of money in the medicine business to just give it all up to some weird people who claim they can cure people without using methods approved by the system.
Analyzing the scenes behind this battle is really interesting and helps pinpoint deeper issues with the way we think nowadays.
III. The philosophy behind the debate…
In order for to fully understand the reasons behind all this, one needs to dig deep. But not too deep. Just 500 years or so. Ever since the case of Galileo science has differentiated from religion in a highly aggressive way. And the revolution of “enlightenment” (yes, it was not actually enlightenment – read Against Enlightenment: The Enlightenment was not light. The Enlightenment is darkness. for more on that) made that differentiation even more solid by promoting specific atheistic ways of thinking in order to fight the so called religious establishment of the day. It is not the purpose of the article to analyze whether Christian religion is good or bad. It is good. (search articles related to religion here for that) Neither to analyze if the Middle Ages were dark. They were not. (check Middle Ages – An era of light! for that)
No you do not have to analyze all that in order to understand the prejudice against homeopathy and other alternative ways of medicine. All you need to keep out of this is that since the “enlightenment” the materialistic dogma spread like fire. And found fertile ground in the minds of people filled with hate for anything Christian. People who were usually philosophically illiterate and ignorant and who could not tell the difference between a good advice (Love your enemies) and a dogma (Everything is matter) even if it was in front of their face.
Dogmas, dogmas, dogmas…
Modern science is based on specific philosophical dogmas with the most prominent of these being MATERIALISM. Materialism (a.k.a. everything is matter and nothing else exists) supports the (dogmatic) idea that the universe is more like a machine with material parts working like gears in a machine. This notion is then applied to humans as well, leading to various misconceptions regarding our very nature. And ALL THESE are based on the best dogma of them all: The dogma which says that we are nothing but dust specks. The dogma which wants the universe to exist for no reason at all. The dogma which calls for miraculous random processes resulting in extremely well designed processes that would put the best clock-maker at shame.
These philosophical dogmas are highly compatible with pharmaceutical industries and highly incompatible with any belief that humans can heal with any other way than the traditional “fix the machine” recipe. All the multi-billion pharmaceutical industries rely their business upon the mechanistic view of life: Take a pill and everything will be alright. Understanding this will make it easier for you to understand the hatred of people in this industry for anything different. Admitting that alternative (non materialistic, spiritual, non mechanistic) ways of healing could work would LITERALLY undermine the whole structure of medicine as we know it.
IV. Arguments in favor of homeopathy…
Homeopathy is a different way of healing. Thus, special considerations must be kept in mind when discussing about it. Even though classic research has shown (see below) that homeopathy works, one must always bear in mind that homeopathy refers to treatment which is always tailored to the specific patient. It is not a “One pill to cure them all” method of healing. And despite that, as mentioned above, clinical trials have showed that homeopathy is effective, it is crucial to remember that sometimes a research might not show extensive positive results to ALL patients in a sample simply because you cannot take a homeopathic treatment recipe and use it everywhere as-is. And it is also important to understand that this is not a disadvantage of homeopathy. To the contrary: Treating every patient as an exceptional case is the right way to go. Conventional medicine is now trying to become more personalized, thus following the path of homeopathy.
Relative resources about the effectiveness of homeopathy
Systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of homeopathy have shown that homeopathy works after all. Four of five major comprehensive reviews of RCTs in homeopathy have reached broadly positive conclusions. In general, there is evidence that homeopathy works, as long as someone is ready to search for it.
Some relative resources or related articles:
- Linde K, Clausius N, Ramirez G, et al. Are the clinical effects of homoeopathy placebo effects? A meta-analysis of placebo-controlled trials. Lancet 1997; 350: 834–43.
- Kleijnen J, Knipschild P, ter Riet G. Clinical trials of homeopathy. Br Med J 1991; 302: 316–23.
- Linde K, Scholz M, Ramirez G, et al. Impact of study quality on outcome in placebo controlled trials of homeopathy. J Clin Epidemiol 1999; 52: 631–6. (refers to positive outcomes of homeopathy – but the article is mainly related to the effect of the quality of the research to the effects reported)
- Cucherat M, Haugh MC, Gooch M, Boissel JP. Evidence of clinical efficacy of homeopathy – A meta-analysis of clinical trials. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 2000; 56: 27–33. (results in low positive effect conclusion)
- List of research showing the effectiveness of homeopathy
- Article explaining that homeopathy works
- The people next to you: Go ahead and ask. Someone really close to you has been cured with homeopathy.
- Homeopathy. “Meta”-studies. Dogmatism. (how the studies on homeopathy are biased)
The Swiss report
In late 2011, the Swiss government’s report on homeopathic medicine represents the most comprehensive evaluation of homeopathic medicine ever written by a government and was just published in book form in English (Bornhoft and Matthiessen, 2011). This breakthrough report affirmed that homeopathic treatment is both effective and cost-effective and that homeopathic treatment should be reimbursed by Switzerland’s national health insurance program.
And still further, this report evaluated systematic reviews and meta-analyses, outcome studies, and epidemiological research. This wide review carefully evaluated the studies conducted, both in terms of quality of design and execution (called “internal validity”) and how appropriate each was for the way that homeopathy is commonly practiced (called “external validity”). The subject of external validity is of special importance because some scientists and physicians conduct research on homeopathy with little or no understanding of this type of medicine (some studies tested a homeopathic medicine that is rarely used for the condition tested, while others utilized medicines not commonly indicated for specific patients). When such studies inevitably showed that the homeopathic medicine did not “work,” the real and accurate assessment must be that the studies were set up to disprove homeopathy… or simply, the study was an exploratory trial that sought to evaluate the results of a new treatment (exploratory trials of this nature are not meant to prove or disprove the system of homeopathy but only to evaluate that specific treatment for a person with a specific condition).
The Swiss report also notes that David Sackett, M.D., the Canadian physician who is widely considered to be one of the leading pioneers in “evidence based medicine”, has expressed serious concern about those researchers and physicians who consider randomized and double-blind trials as the only means to determine whether a treatment is effective or not. To make this assertion, one would have to acknowledge that virtually all surgical procedures were “unscientific” or “unproven” because so few have undergone randomized double-blind trials.
V. Arguments against the effectiveness of conventional medicine
An analysis of 3,000 common treatments several years ago and found that only 11% were proven to be beneficial. It found that 51% were of unknown efficacy and the other 38% were either harmful or a toss up between harm and help. [Source]
A report by a watchdog group published on 31 May in QuarterWatch calculated that in 2011 prescription drugs were associated with two to four million people in the US experiencing “serious, disabling, or fatal injuries,” including 128,000 deaths. [source]
A related article in Harmonia Philosophica titled “Does medicine actually help? [Cure rates and Philosophy analysis of mainstream and alternative medicine]” also shows the same thing. The effectiveness of classical medicine is not as sound as people think it is. Apply the same rigid standards which you apply to homeopathy in classical medicine and you will end up with no treatment that is “proved” beneficial. Not to mention that other research show equally disturbing facts: For example did you know that when doctors are on strike, the mortality rate stays the same or, many times, falls?!? (source) Or that doctors who are diagnosed with terminal cancer usually choose NOT to have any therapy at all despite they advise their patients otherwise? (source)
Did you know how and why the traditional way of healing in ancient Greece (at the temples of Aeschylus) was banned? Well, it just did when the Romans occupied Greece. No research conducted. No questions asked. They just DECIDED that it did not work, even though IT DID for thousands of years.
Did you know how and why the traditional way of healing in America (practiced by the indigenous Indians) was banned? Well, it just did when the Europeans occupied the whole continent of America. No research conducted. No questions asked. They just DECIDED that it did not work, even though IT DID for thousands of years.
So a good question is “Will the FDA/FTC enforce the same requirements on the thousands of conventional treatments which have been proven to be of no benefit?”…
All in all…
Ask your doctor. But also make your own research. Do not trust what you read or hear from others blindly. But trust what you already know. You do not want to wait for someone else to tell you what you already feel…
(applies especially for philosophy, for medicine having a good doctor and knowing how to read scientific papers also helps)