The Truth About "Homeopathic" Medicine (#23)

Homeopathy -- effective, useless, or dangerous? (Photo: Marcos Zerene)
Homeopathy — effective, useless, or dangerous? (Photo: Marcos Zerene)

[Audio version]

The Truth About "Homeopathic" Medicine (#23)

[Text version]

(You can find the full transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.)

I routinely use an arnica gel for minor muscular strains. In fact, it’s one of my “go to” treatments.

In 2010, however, I found myself swallowing Boiron Arnica Montana 30C pellets, an oral version that was the only option at the closest GNC. I started at five pellets, SIX times a day–TWICE the recommended dose. Risk of overdose? Not likely.

“30C,” which I looked up that evening, tells you all you need to know.

This consumable version of arnica, unlike the creams I’d used in the past, was a homeopathic remedy. Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician, pioneered the field of homeopathy in 1796, if the term “pioneer” can be applied to alternative “medicine” founded on concepts like mass dilution and beatings with horse-hair implements. From the Wikipedia entry for “homeopathic dilutions,” last I looked:

Homeopaths use a process called “dynamisation” or “potentisation” whereby a substance is diluted with alcohol or distilled water and then vigorously shaken by ten hard strikes against an elastic body in a process called “succussion”… Hahnemann believed that the process of succussion activated the vital energy of the diluted substance.

Riiiight.

Back to 30C. 30C indicates a 10-60  (10^(-60), or 10 to the negative 60th) dilution, the dilution most recommended by Hahnemann.

30C would require giving 2 billion doses per second to 6 billion people for 4 billion years to deliver a single molecule of the original material to any one person. Put another way, if I diluted one-third of a drop of liquid into all the water on earth, it would produce a remedy with a concentration of about 13C, more than twice the “strength” of our 30C arnica.

Most homeopathic remedies in liquid are indistinguishable from water and don’t contain a single molecule of active medicine. In systematic review after systematic review, these dilutive homeopathic remedies display no ability to heal beyond placebo.

I found this particularly bothersome. Bothersome because I appeared to heal faster using oral 30C arnica.

There are a few potential explanations…

OPTION #1 — HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES WORK AS ADVERTISED

The water actually retains some “essential property” of the original substance because of the beatings and shakings. I give this a probability of somewhere between zero and epsilon (where epsilon is almost zero). It violates the most basic laws of science and makes my head hurt.

NOTE: Some people use the term “homeopathic” interchangeably with “organic” or “herbal”; I am not addressing this misnomer nor the associated compounds. Some herbal, non-prescription medications have tremendous effects. I’m speaking only to the original use of the word “homeopathic” as related to dilutive treatments.

OPTION #2 — THE PLACEBO EFFECT

I didn’t realize it was a homeopathic remedy until after four or five doses, and I had been told it could reduce pain by up to 50% in 24 hours. Placebo is strong stuff. People can become intoxicated from alcohol placebos, and “placebo” knee surgeries for osteoarthritis, where incisions are made but nothing is repaired, can produce results that rival the real deal. This explanation gets my vote. Now, if I could just forget what I read on the label, I could repeat it next time.

OPTION #3 — REGRESSION TOWARD THE MEAN

Imagine you catch a cold or get the flu. It’s going to get worse and worse, then better and better until you are back to normal. The severity of symptoms, as is true with many injuries, will probably look something like a bell curve.

The bottom flat line, representing normalcy, is the mean. When are you most likely to try the quackiest shit you can get your hands on? That miracle duck extract Aunt Susie swears by? The crystals your roommate uses to open his heart chakra? Naturally, when your symptoms are the worst and nothing seems to help. This is the very top of the bell curve, at the peak of the roller coaster before you head back down. Naturally heading back down is regression toward the mean.

If you are a fallible human, as we all are, you might misattribute getting better to the duck extract, but it was just coincidental timing.

The body had healed itself, as could be predicted from the bell curve–like timeline of symptoms. Mistaking correlation for causation is very common, even among smart people.

In the world of “big data,” this mistake will become even more common, particularly if researchers seek to “let the data speak for themselves” rather than test hypotheses.

Spurious connections galore–that’s what the data will say, among other things.  Caveat emptor.

OPTION #4 — SOME UNEXPLAINED MECHANISM

‘Tis possible that there is some as-yet-unexplained mechanism through which homeopathy works. Some mechanism that science will eventually explain. Stranger things have happened.

And while we don’t need to know how something works if we observe it to work (which clinical trials have not, in this case)…

Until something even remotely plausible comes along, I’ll do my best to scratch my psora (an itch “miasm” that Hahnemann felt caused epilepsy, cancer, and deafness) with at least one molecule of active substance.

###

Do you agree or disagree? Do you have evidence to the contrary? Please share your thoughts in the comments by clicking here.

This is something that has bothered me for years, but I’m very open to being proven wrong.

For more material like this article, check out:

The 4-Hour Body

How to Keep Feces Out of Your Bloodstream (or Lose 10 Pounds in 14 Days)

Gout: The Missing Chapter and Explanation

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775 Replies to “The Truth About "Homeopathic" Medicine (#23)”

  1. Yes, pretty much Placebo effect. There’s no (real) evidence that under clinical trials that homeopathic medicine works (and I mean just the pill, not the treatment procedure). In Germany there’s also a bias – it’s people who have more money and take care of themselves better in general that use homeopathic stuff – these people tend to get healthier by themselves. They will also pay extra (e.g. stuff not covered by the insurance) thus incentivizing the doctors to have longer chats with them and just in general be nicer to them.

    And when Hahnemann was developing homeopathy, the state of the medicine was awful. It was actually better to not do anything than to do what they were doing back then (e.g. bloodletting). That’s why drinking sugar pills is better.

  2. Fascinating! I was especially interested in your description of the bell curve (or regression towards the mean) effect. Never considered that, but now that I read it, it is very possible.

    all the best,

  3. Regarding homeopathic medicine and the dilution factor, allergists have MD degrees and by definition are homeopathic physicians.

    I can only attest to this from my personal experience with allergies, primarily ragweed (goldenrod) and house dust, regarding the beneficial effects of the homeopathic treatment I received.

    At age four, I was stricken by allergies so bad that a trip to the emergency room was necessary to help me breathe. And after testing, it was necessary for me to get shots every week until I was 19.

    When I went to get my weekly shots, the doctor would always say to the nurse who would prepare the syringe, “Ragweed and house dust, one to one thousand.)

    Although I didn’t think about it much then, I later looked into what it meant, i.e., a dilution of one part of the substance/irritant to one thousand parts of distilled water.

    And the doctor would always shake the syringe vigorously before administering the injection.

    When I was at summer camp and boarding school, the two vials of serum went along with me, for the camp nurse or the school nurse to administer the serum.

    And as long as I got the shot each week, I was okay. But when I missed the shot for any reason, I suffered terribly, although as I got older such attacks had less force until finally I no longer needed the shots 15 years after the ordeal had begun.

    My research has indicated that although the substance/irritant in the distilled water could no longer be scientifically measured, that somehow water holds such information in “memory” and that is what is transmitted in the serum that deals with the allergy.

      1. Here’s something that I find has been omitted from most if not all of this discussion: people don’t seem to be differentiating between maladies that might be susceptible to homeopathy/placebo and those that aren’t. The rat experiment recently cited here shows that, if rats are expecting pain relief from an injection based on past experience, SOME of the rats will experience pain relief with placebo. Clearly the body can produce its own opioids and some individuals can be induced by suggestion to do so. Perhaps immune responses can be manipulated in the same way, to some degree, for some individuals.

        But try it with a fractured bone, Ebola, liver cancer, meningitis, sepsis, kidney failure – on yourself. If you try it on someone else, particularly an infant (the mind reels at some of the comments here), you’ll be going to jail for malpractice, negligence, and/or manslaughter.

    1. 1/1000 is actually fairly high concentration. Think about 1ml of something like Ribena dropped into a 1 litre bottle of water. Could you taste it? It would be weak, but chances are you’d be able to detect a faint colour change and notice a slight difference in flavour. Skimmed milk is approximately 1/500th fat. Dilute that by 1/2 again and the milk tastes very watery, but you know there’s still some cream there. If we can see a 1/1000 dilution with the naked eye, we can certainly detect it with scientific instrumentation.

      Homeopathy is different. A 30C homeopathic remedy is diluted 1/1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. It’s not that the active ingredient is present in undetectably low amounts, it’s that it simply isn’t there. To be certain that you had just a single molecule of the ingredient in your shot, you would need a syringe (and arm) large enough to hold more molecules of water than there are atoms in the universe.

  4. A simple question if you want to try to understand the “thinking” behind homoeopathy.

    Imagine a pencil sitting in front of you next to an African violet. Imagine that we analyse the constituents of both objects and conclude that at a molecular level they are made of very similar material (i.e mostly carbon). Now try to work out what is the vital difference between the two. One is “alive” and one is not. What is the “substance” that makes one a living organism?

    Despite staunch arguments against the idea of vital or life force, primarily from materialistic thinking, science has not yet come up with a satisfying answer to what makes something “alive”.

    Homoeopathy, and other traditional medicine involving life force (a.k.a chi, etheric energy, prana…) such as Acupuncture, Reiki etc. all work with the principles of harnessing the life force within living systems.

    Whilst rigorous scientific thinking would not accept speculation about life force without study, I believe it to be just a foolish to dismiss the idea that there is a vital force that makes something alive. At the very least, these healing systems have a highly developed place-holder concept for answering the question of what makes something alive, something which science *still does not have*.

    I challenge any materialistic thinker to study some of the ideas at the forefront of Quantum physics and not conclude that many of the ideas underlying alternative healing systems are not only perfectly reasonable, but also predicted.

    So called “spiritual” ideas about reality are far more resonant (for want of a better word) with the forefront of theoretical physics than the majority (this being my conjecture) of materialistic thinkers dare to realise. For such thinking, arguments against systems such as Homoeopathy can very often be boiled down to “It cannot possibly work because it does not work the way I want it to work.”.

    Materialistic thinking is not scientific thinking. Materialistic thinking is in fact akin to religious fundamentalism and does more to thwart “science” than not.

    Give it a couple of hundred years and the mainstream thinking of this age, most especially within medicine, will appear as arcane and misguided as blood-letting and Bedlam-style treatments do to us.

    So, to repeat, I challenge someone to provide an argument against life-force based healing systems that cannot be paraphrased as “It cannot possibly work because it does not work the way I want it to work.”.

    BTW, this is not an argument for or against Homoeopathy. This is a rally call for rigorous, open-minded thought.

    1. Great post. I am a Reiki Master and work with life force energy. It’s odd how many of us don’t think we are alive through consciousness- and don’t realize that science has not even come close to explaining what consciousness is. When science does try to explain consciousness we will make more progress.

  5. consider the Double Split Experiment of Thomas Young. It may be the intention coupled with the energy of the substance that has the desired effect. Not all is known.

  6. I was introduced to homeopathy when my baby was six weeks old. She had a fever of 101 and was lethargic. We were terrified and called our friends who had a baby the same age. The husband was an MD and soon to be a homeopath. They said, “Remember that kit we gave you? Are her cheeks bright red?” They were. We took out the belladonna and one dose sent her fever away. In minutes she was cooing, bright-eyed and attentive again. Like with animals, placebo doesn’t work on newborns. Since then, I’ve found that the right remedy can have nearly miraculous effects, while the wrong remedy is harmless. What’s to lose? There’s lots more to this wonderful world than the intellect can easily explain.

  7. Hey Tim – I’m a naturopathic doctor and have been practicing homeopathy for over 10 years. Rather than sharing my opinion or story, I thought you would find Rustum Roy’s work in material sciences and ultra-high dilutions (UHD) interesting. He has proven that homeopathic dilutions do in fact have a physical affect. Also check out some of the research on homeopathy by Iris Bell. Cheers!

      1. The dictionary defines quack as synonymous with charlatan. Etymologically and historically, this is not its true definition. It is a shortening of the German word quacksalber (quicksilver) and was originally applied to those regular physicians who poisoned their patients with mercury. As originally employed, the term was applicable to regular physicians and to no one else. (Herbert Shelton, Natural Hygiene: Man’s Pristine Way of Life)

      2. Thanks for the history lesson. Perhaps I should have just used the term charlatan. But then charlatan would infer that the person was knowingly dishonest, where this woman may just be stupid or delusional.

      3. Hello Glenn,

        Smart people also know that reincarnation is obviously woo woo and not real. But, if it was real, I bet that in previous lives they were right about the sun revolving around the earth too… and with good authoritative reason. -Simonius

  8. As a Naturopathic Physician that uses homeopathy in my practice (I’m not a Homeopath. Naturopathic Doctors are trained in homeopathy, acupuncture and herbal medicine). I teach my patients that it is nanopharmacology. This makes it easier for them to understand the concept of diluted substance working on a level that is “unseen” therefore unable to be explained by our science at this time. However, there are several research papers on homeopathy, I will be willing to share with anyone who would like to read them, just let me know, and I can email them to you!

    I personally have had several cases where it was homeopathy that healed my patient by stimulating was we Naturopaths like to refer to as the Vis Medicatrix Naturae, ” The Healing Power of Nature”…ok that is about as woo woo as I’m going to get.

    One of the most profound cases that come to mind for me is a particularly stubborn case of hand eczema. Profound to me, because even I had not “seen” proof of homeopathy other than the research I read, the books I have studied and a patient saying “I feel better”. In this case, the patient had used topical and internal steroids for years but they had long stopped working so she came to me for a more natural approach. I treated the patient with herbs, supplements, changes in diet and lifestyle. I began to doubt if I could help her naturally and decided to try to suppress the disease with Prednisone. Then, I realized that I had not tried giving her a homeopathic remedy. I generally had used homeopathy as a last resort, not because it does not work but because I prefer whole herbs and it is so darn difficult to explain to patients sometimes. Alas, I gave the patient one remedy dosing it three pellets underneath the tongue daily and told her if I have no signs of the eczema clearing, I was going to put her back on oral steroids. Well, guess what? The eczema began to clear in ONE WEEK! Because I love dermatology, (and I know there are skeptics) I have pictures in her chart showing the change. She was so excited! The patient now is in permanent remission of her eczema.

    I know that there are a lot of people believe that natural medicine in general is all placebo effect, and homeopathic remedies probably seem ludicrous, but everyday Naturopathic Physicians and other alternative healthcare practitioners like me make miracles happen everyday in people who have been told by MDs that there is no cure or nothing they can do. I am not even going to start discussing the patients I have seen who have been told by the Mayo Clinic that there was nothing they could do for them. At any rate, I have seen homeopathic remedies help to calm anxiety, psychotic episodes, decrease healing time in fractures, completely take pain away when even Percocet failed (yeah, it did), clear eczema, stop chronic coughs, relieve IBS, treat colic in babies and soothe them while teething. The problem is, if I put you in the room with 100 patients who all have been healed by homeopathy, it still wouldn’t stand a chance against one double-blind placebo study done by a drug company that says homeopathy (or any other natural therapy for that matter) doesn’t work. Most of the time, those contrary studies are fundamentally flawed because the natural treatments used are either sub-therapeutic or just plain wrong!

    I have been called a quack and a charlatan even though my only desire is to help those in need. I use to get mad when I was a new doctor. Now I realize that you can only help those who are willing to help themselves. Now, I ignore the skeptics and keep helping those willing to take a leap of faith and believe that nano-particles can stimulate healing on a cellular level. Homeopathy is not placebo medicine, it is just science that has not been discovered by mainstream medicine yet! …Option #4 in Tim’s Article

    Thank you for your time,

    Dr. DJ

    1. I think this is an excellent point. Whilst mainstream medicos and pseudo-sceptics argue against alternative approaches, millions of healers go about their work, day by day, quietly healing as usual.

      1. Quietly prescribing placebos that fail in clinical trials, and quietly conning the ignorant out of their hard earned cash.

      2. That’s a big claim, considering that complementary/alternative treatment is such a vast field. I’m curious, have you tried a complementary treatment?

      1. Ditto, “Homeopathy. 2010 Jul;99(3):156-66. doi: 10.1016/j.homp.2010.05.009.”

        Please find a study with appropriate experimental design.

    1. All three of your references come from homeopathic believers, not impartial, reputable journals. The PubMed ref points to this journal: Homeopathy. 2010 Jul;99(3):156-66. doi: 10.1016/j.homp.2010.05.009.

      1. I actually provided around 25 studies, which is what I got from a very quick Google search. I would suspect that there are many more, for both sides of the argument.

        These studies may indeed be flawed, but it is quite a stretch for us to so quickly dismiss all of them as biased. It is almost as bad as “believers” dismissing studies funded by pharma, claiming that studies used non-the therapeutic doses or in-the-pocket researchers to skew results.

        Both sides can be biased and skew the science. I don’t think it is honest to dismiss a study simply because of where it was published. The science is either good or it isn’t. Mainstream journals also have a history of publishing bad science, and without question, publishing material that is funded by non-impartial parties.

        There is a similar situation going on the in whole Vaccine/Autism debate. There is, without question, vast numbers of studies, from many independent journals and organisations showing that there is a causal link in some people, and there is of course ample evidence to suggest otherwise. …and yet we hear militant arguments from either side, both of which dismiss and ignore the actual science.

        Personally, I am not comfortable in arguing either for or against Homoeopathy. There is both scientific and (vast) anecdotal evidence that it has value, and there is also plenty of evidence to suggest the opposite.

        This is enough for me to remain open-minded. As far as I’m concerned, anything other than open-minded curiosity is intellectually dishonest. I certainly don’t feel that my world-view is challenged by the principles of Homoeopathy. Is it fair to suggest that for some detractors, this is the case?

      2. Homeopathic publications and journals all. Produce a paper from a real peer reviewed science journal.

      3. Hey, Glenn, I agree with you on this issue. The list of references on the web page I linked to is provided by a vet who opposes homeopathic treatment of animals, for fear that real, medically-based treatment will be neglected. He includes links to refutation of many of these studies. A few were published by scientific journals, but in those cases, results seem to have been evaluated by questionnaire and/or the placebo effect or other confounding factors were not provided for.

        I just can’t muster the will to continue this discussion. Clearly the human animal is still so irrational, despite vast engineering feats and technology, as to prefer ghosts and mysteries to simple logic and test procedures. Given continuing evidence of this fact, like the current discussion, I don’t see any great outcome for the future of the planet. So if I drank, I’d drink. Right now. This morning.

      4. Agree with you Nancy. I give. In some way I don’t want to convince the homeopathic believers that it’s bunk. That will distroy the only effect these treatments have! Having a smoothie now instead of a whisky! Maybe a 10x whisky dilution would help!

      5. Cheers. I have to say I am disappointed at the number of people defending this crap. I fear we have just scratched the surface of a far greater problem. People seem all too happy to abandon evidence based reasoning and embrace woo woo.

      6. In other words, you can’t be bothered reviewing studies which may provide further proof for your position, or indeed proof against.

        A study is a study is a study. If it is scientifically sound, then, aside from the sociological and political implications (this being a very interesting phenomenon in itself) it is irrelevant which journal it turns up in. Seeing as materialistic thinkers seem to find the idea of Homoeopathy so challenging, would a “real” journal (whatever that is) would publish such studies?

        It seems common for people with a reductionist bias to somehow equate alternative thinking, in medicine or any other field, as somehow being akin to believing in ghosts and the paranormal, as though these things are somehow connected. If it turns out that Homoeopathy is valid, we might just start having to take fairy stories seriously too. This approach is very revealing.

        We know, for example, that when people start meditating, they tend to become a more open to more “spiritual” ideas, i.e that consciousness is more of a universal constant – one of the building blocks of the universe such as gravity. Meditation is simply a process of consciously changing the dominant brain frequency, usually to slower vibrations. So what we know is that when humans do this, they tend to become a lot more open to ideas about the invisible world that supports this one. Meditation is now advocated in secular and scientific contexts as being generally good for humans.

        We also know that when human brains are more active in the beta range, that reductionist thinking is more easy to come by.

        For me, this is the most interesting thing about these kinds of discussions. We argue on and on about external phenomena, and yet, we might well summarise the various biases we each have as being directly connected with active, or indeed untapped brain activity. From this perspective, the objective “truth” of the subject becomes less and less relevant. We have a bunch of monkeys, some having a wider spectrum of brain activity to draw from, and others having a more specialised approach.

        Why am In saying all of this?

        Even when we have the opportunity to review more evidence, to update our understanding and challenge our assumptions, this being what scientifically minded individuals would naturally do, we still cherry pick and dismiss without review, we still shoot the messenger (i.e the “real” journal argument) and ultimately cling to our pre-existing mental models. This is not science. This is not even “rational”. This is, without question, bias in action. It is only some pathetic aspect of the monkey-brain that does this, over and over again, regardless of the topic under discussion.

        I am not arguing for or against Homoeopathy. What I find myself arguing continually in these kinds of discussions, is for scientifically minded people, those who *should* know better, to show it. When all is said and done, Homoeopathy does help people, regardless of the mechanism.

        Pseudo-scepticism is about the most rampant anti-intellectual blight of our age, outside of fundamentalism.

        I am wary of dismissing so called fringe ideas prematurely, if only because of the quote below. It may be vanity, lack of commitment, not wanting to be appear the fool when further evidence comes to light or some other auto-quirk of my monkey-brain, but I will fight for open-mindedness, with all the irrationality and dogmatism of a fundamentalist, until there is not a shadow of doubt as to what is true.

        “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

        Arthur Schopenhauer

      7. A study is a study, but it does matter which journal it turns up in. Articles published in peer-reviewed journals have been through a formal approval process. An editor and a subject specialists review the article before it is accepted for publication. This process helps ensure that the article is accurate, well-researched, and contributes to the body of knowledge in the field. From this point on the article is fair game for criticism and or support. I doubt homeopathic publications follow this process, or that those reading them,(people operating on the fringe of science), are qualified to contribute.

        You state the homeopathy has helped people regardless of the mechanism. What about all the people it has harmed? If it is ascertained that homeopathy relies 100% on the placebo effect then there may be argument to have it banned. Don’t forget that real medications also benefit from the placebo effect, but they don’t rely on it.

        Lastly, consciousness is a universal constant – one of the building blocks of the universe such as gravity? Might check with Hawking on that one.

      8. …not Hawkins, but perhaps this guy http://www.ted.com/talks/david_chalmers_how_do_you_explain_consciousness

        I think science would move forward a lot faster if we didn’t have to deal with so much knee-jerk nay-saying.

        … we simply use whichever model gives us the most understanding, treating no model as though it were “true” or otherwise, simply that it is the most complete at any one time …and we must be able to abandon any model at any time, as more information comes to light.

      9. Rogue… I can’t tell whether you’re trolling or sincerely seeking to expand your understanding. The fact that I don’t have time to read and refute 23 or 25, or whatever, homeopathy studies doesn’t make me, or anyone else, a knee-jerk nay-sayer. I looked at several and saw flaws. I tried homeopathic remedies prescribed by an MD/naturopath many years ago and they did not work. According to the laws of nature as I understand them, I don’t see how they could have worked.

        If water perpetually retains impalpable unmeasurable memories of substances it’s mixed with, why wouldn’t every drink of water we take either heal or poison us? Why would water selectively retain a memory of some substance a human shook it up with, and why would that trace of memory, if it exists, cure any particular illness? Asking these questions is not close-minded. It’s reasonable to ask that someone who makes such assertions should prove them, especially when people’s lives and health depend on them.

        So, rather than pointing at a list of articles and demanding that others examine and refute all of them, why don’t you offer one – just one – study that you think validates homeopathic precepts, and perhaps someone here will spend even more of their precious, never-to-be-regained personal time considering it.

        The TED talk by the philosopher was interesting. I don’t see how it’s related to homeopathy in any way other than by vague inference.

      10. Well said. There is nothing closed minded about dismissing that which has dismissed by the best scientific minds in the world.

      11. Come on, man. “Best scientific minds”? There is much unscientific criminal horse-pockey in the dominant medical establishment… How about this, Glenn: show us a case of homeopathy damaging someone. Anyone else want some? Bring it. -Sim Salabim

      12. For anyone who is tuned in to this con the cases leap out at you from the newspaper. This is an easy search, Google deaths by homeopathy and you will need a lot of spare time.

        A have a good friend who’s sister is a homeopath, she told me she advises all her clients not to ever have chemotherapy because of the adverse side effects. Need I say more.

      13. http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/11/22/calgary-mother-who-relied-on-herbal-medicines-facing-charges-after-son-7-dies-of-treatable-bacterial-infection/

        “A Calgary mother is facing charges of negligence and failure to provide the necessities of life in connection with the death of her seven-year-old son, who died of a treatable bacterial infection in March. According to police, the boy was bedridden for 10 days before his death, however, the mother declined to seek medical treatment, relying instead on homeopathic remedies and herbal medicines.”

      14. Moral of the story: When someone dies after being treated with good drugs, they are at fault for not using homeopathy…. LOL! The entertainment never ends… Life is rich. Thanks Nancy.

      15. Simon – Your fallacy is called “affirming the consequent” and takes the following form:

        1. If A is true, then B is true.

        2. B is true.

        3. Therefore, A is true.

        Translated:

        1. A kid with a strep infection was treated with homeopathy and died. If he had been given antibiotics, he’d have lived.

        2. A kid with strep was treated with antibiotics and died. If he’d been given homeopathic remedies, he’d have lived.

        Do you see the problem? If not, the police and courts do.

      16. The homeopathic substance itself did not kill the child… I asked for a brave soul to find an example where it did not where it didn’t.

        For a more manageable challenge, can anyone find an example of a pharmaceutical substance doing harm? 😉

      17. Oh well, just one: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/30/AR2006013001240.html.

        But homeopathic remedies are usually harmless, in and of themselves, because there’s usually nothing there. That certainly doesn’t prove that taking them will cure anything, nor that penicillin should never be prescribed just because SOME people are allergic to it.

        Gad, I need a remedy to prevent me from continuing this discussion. Maybe a tincture of unsubscribe.

      18. COOL! Everybody, Nancy just confirmed that homeopathy is safe.

        So if you’re curious about trying it for yourself, no medical harm will result….

        Mind her caveats that if you administer it instead of an FDA approved cure for what ails you – and you DIE – you might face legal consequences that are not a placebo effect.

      19. https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/13310801/woman-sues-homeopath-over-sisters-cancer-death/

        “Penelope Dingle’s sister is suing the homeopath who persuaded the cancer victim to ignore conventional treatment in favour of fighting the deadly disease with alternative medicine. The case made national headlines in 2010 when State Coroner Alastair Hope held an inquest into Mrs Dingle’s death, finding that her husband, Peter Dingle, and homeopath Francine Scrayen had played important roles in the decision.”

      20. http://www.livescience.com/8543-homeopathy-shake-global.html

        “The Japanese government is investigating numerous deaths that occurred over the past year resulting from the practice of homeopathy, which has been growing in popularity, particularly among midwives. Several lawsuits are pending. Deaths include a 2-month-old baby girl born with a vitamin K deficiency, whose mother’s midwife administered a homeopathic treatment instead of the much-needed vitamin K injection, well-known to prevent hemorrhaging. The infant died from bleeding in the skull.”

      21. http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/stories/homeopathic_drugs.html

        “Tom Miller has made several trips for missionary and medical purposes over the last 25 years to countries such as Kenya, Haiti, Peru and Russia. …He performed an Internet search for a homeopathic malaria treatment and found a Web site with a homeopathic product claiming to be effective in preventing and treating malaria. …Tom followed the instructions for preventive treatment using the homeopathic product before and during his stay in Nigeria. … A lab test (called a blood smear) showed parasites of Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes the most severe form of malaria. His family was told that Tom’s condition was quite grave, and that he might not survive. He was treated with antimalarial drugs and multiple blood products and came to the brink of requiring dialysis due to the damage to his kidneys. Fortunately, despite the severity of Tom’s illness, the treatment proved successful. Tom says that he woke up seven days later with little memory of how he ended up in the hospital.”

      22. I read your replies… These seem to be citing cases of using homeopathy instead of good drugs. But I asked who could produce a case where damage was due to the homeopathic substance itself. Love you, Nancy.

      23. You’re asking whether anyone was ever harmed by drinking a small amount of water or taking a few sugar pills? I’m not sure I understand the point. Apparently the manufacturing processes for homeopathic substances are sometimes flawed, since they’re not controlled by the FDA as stringently as drugs, and can be tainted by other substances. Just Google it. My Google finger is done for a bit.

        Thanks for the love, though. :o)

      24. homeopathy may or may not help, but does no harm.

        pharmaceuticals (good drugs) may or may not help but they do harm routinely.

    2. You are citing studies that have been heavily criticized on peer review. If conducted by non-homeopaths it is unlikely, (impossible), results will be replicated.

      1. The first was dismissed in peer review, second and third aren’t worth consideration as Medhurst isn’t a scientist, and is known for his misinterpretation of scientific data.

      2. There are about 23 studies listed on the Medhurst page. The studies do not appear to be linked to Medhurst, the page simply lists them.

        Can we dismiss them all?

  9. No opinion on homeopathy. But a believer that food is the best medicine… I suffered annual respiratory infections including hospitalization – near death – my whole life… until I looted the material in the alternative medical therapies library at http://www.soilandhealth.org and applied some simple changes to my diet… haven’t had an infection since 2010 🙂

  10. Tim, if you really wanto to understand how homeopathic stuff works with scientific background I strongly recommend you to read: “The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe” by Lynne McTaggart.

    http://www.amazon.com/Field-Updated-Ed-Secret-Universe-ebook/dp/B0083DHIHO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409008670&sr=8-1&keywords=the+field

    Not only an amazing book, but with a serious research on the topic. Before reading that book I was 200% skeptic, after the read, I’m a user and promoter. It’s incredible how the dark chamber tests shows how homepathic plants and solutions irradiates different kinds of light (wavelenghts) and how healthy people show one pattern different from ill people, but when ill people enter the chamber with an homeopathic solution for curing that illness the light changes to that of a healthy person. Powerful stuff.

    1. Have a look around the web on this woman, she is heavily criticized as being scientifically illiterate. She talks about new physics in her book, what is new physics?

      When people like this publish books they set the bar pretty low when it comes to evidence of efficacy. They seem to think that random anecdotes constitute data. Not so.

  11. Bioplasma Cell salts seem to help me with my headaches and migraines but aside from that I don’t use them for much else. I tend to think that there is some unknown or unexplained mechanism behind it. I have chronic fatigue syndrome so im very sensitive to what I put into my body via food, supplements or otherwise and notice a big difference when I take homeopathic bioplasma cell salts.

  12. It’s always interesting to see differing takes on homeopathy. Thing is, sometimes it does work, sometimes the old wives’ tales are true. Granted, many aren’t but the times they do work is what gets passed down and passed off as medicine in homeopathic Doc offices. I think I’d rather have something that is natural and whose side effects are minimal if any, to something man made with a long laundry list of side effects.

  13. Dear Tim,

    Just a funny thing about the last sentence of your Option #2: “Now, if I could just forget what I read on the label, I could repeat it next time.” Well, surprisingly, it seems that in some cases, placebo effect works even if you know it is placebo, like explained in this Time paper relating to a PloS One paper:

    http://healthland.time.com/2010/12/27/placebos-work-even-if-you-know-theyre-fake-but-how/

    Therefore, you don’t need to forget everything!

    Best regards,

    Michel

  14. Dear Tim,

    Just a funny fact about the last sentence of your Option 2: “Now, if I could just forget what I read on the label, I could repeat it next time.” Well, it happens that it has been shown in a scientific study published in PloS One that in some cases, placebo effect works even if you know that it is a placebo! Look at the Time paper relating this:

    http://healthland.time.com/2010/12/27/placebos-work-even-if-you-know-theyre-fake-but-how/

    Why don’t you try again next time, even knowing that it is a placebo? And let us know if it works!

    Concerning the discussion and some arguments of the readers, no doubt that this is not because we cannot explain something that it doesn’t exist, but at least it should be measured in very rigorous conditions. As you say, all rigorous studies show that homeopathy doesn’t make better than placebo. That’s it. And the fact that it “works” in some cases with animals (and I would be surprised if it would have been rigorously proven) doesn’t show anything. Indeed the person giving the homeopathic pill knows that he/she is doing something to the animal, and that can influence the result. The influence of the person giving the treatment can be very important, this is why rigorous tests are made in double blind conditions: the “double” comes from the fact that both patient and physicians do not know if what is give is a real molecule or a placebo.

    Anyway, thanks for all you are giving to your readers!

    Best regards,

    Michel

  15. I have a “Natural Doctor” of course he can’t call himself that I do for legal reason. He’s a homeopathic person I guess you would refer to him. I guess he practices what most other countries use to “Heal” their patient not alleviate the symptoms like here. I was skeptic at first but my best friend’s family spent five years nagging me to go every time I had any ailment. They all go to him and rave about him. So after years of skepticism I finally went. I can’t explain how he scanned my body for things wrong with me. But everything that was wrong with me he readout from the scan on the computer and was dead on. Even my broken wisdom tooth which he couldn’t see and I didn’t tell him about along with it saying I grind my teeth bad. I had just found that out from my dentist just a few month before and made a mouth gaurd. So how did he know all these things unless the scan was legit? Afterword’s he gave me a handful of homeopathic remedies like you describe. Little bottles with eye dropper’s deals take so many drops a day. Within days I started feeling better. A month later everyone at work was passing around a cold that put some of them in the hospital with pneumonia and flu real bad. I fought it off for 2 months but finally got me. After being sick for 3 weeks I finally broke down and went to a Regular doctor and got huge prescription of antibiotics. Nothing helped it lasted another two weeks. So finally went to natural doctor but was holding off because insurance doesn’t cover him like the regular doctors or the meds he proscribes. So made an appointment after being sick now almost 6 weeks and missing several days of work. He runs his scan and tells me I have the flu some new strand going around, but also bronchitis and strep throat. I was like, “what?” he hands me three little bottles. One for each bug. He said take every hour until I feel better then only every 2-4 hours. I was like wow that much. As he was leaving he said to give it 24-48 hours it will be gone, trust him. Just shy of 36 hours I was practically running marathons. Well I could have I felt so good. He’s now that only one I will see for anything. I’ll fly from Texas to Michigan to see him before going to anyone just down the road.

  16. It’s hard to claim placebo effect when it worked on.. me. As a small child I had asthma. Swiss cheese was a trigger absolutely avoid. Under the care of an ancient doctor who had been practicing a long time, I’m told I ate swiss cheese without a problem. I certainly had no idea what the placebo affect was, and doubt my mother was trying to play mind games.

    I didn’t see it mentioned anywhere, but my understanding of homeopathy is it causes the body to stimulate its own defense mechanisms – but only when the correct remedy is chosen. The wrong remedy does.. nothing..

    Maybe this falls under your option #4? Like all scientific ‘discoveries’, the laws of nature were true longer before we discovered how or why they work.

  17. I tend to agree with the placebo or regression towards the mean, HOWEVER, we give a homeopathic teething remedy to our 1yr old, and it works. It calms him down the vast majority of the time, and we’ve used it early when pain is just coming on (i.e. before the peak of the bell curve) and later after he’s been wailing a while- it always helps his pain although obviously doesn’t always remove it totally if its really bad (thank god for Calpol). I am a sceptic of homeopathy, but I know this does have a positive effect on my son. Can a 1 year old be fooled by a placebo when he surely cant understand what medicine even is?

    1. Illnesses do not always sit on a bell-curve of severity and the likelihood that you think that you are treating it while it’s still getting worse while you are actually reading too much into apparent changes in symptoms seems pretty high to me.

  18. I’ve tried many “remedies” natural, homeopathic, etc and the only “supplements” that gave me my speech and brain back was Dr Wallach’s brand. His brand saved me from undergoing a hysterectomy and saved our 108lb German Shepard from being put down for cancer and severe arthritis. If something comes up health challenge wise I always to turn to docs stuff for help and healing naturally without meds whenever possible. Homeopathic “medicine” is real as we’ll other natural alternatives.

  19. Now I find that most products labeled “homeopathic” are real herbal treatments falsely advertised as fake pseudo-scientific hogwash in order to sell better.

    1. 1. What are your favorite mass-market good drugs and why?

      2. which mass-market good drugs would you advise people avoid because of their dangers, if any, and why?

      3. what aspects of the currently dominant good medical model are hogwash and why?

      4. does the gagillion-dollar dominant medical establishment have any interests other than our health and well-being? If so, what are they? What year did they start? How are they protected?

  20. Best thing is to stick with pure, natural, undiluted, etc. That way you can’t go wrong and you can do your own dilution is you want. I use doTerra Essential Oils. I don’t think it’s possible to overdose The DeepBlue worked instantaneously on my husband’s sore neck. Even if it doesn’t work directly on your problem, hey – it’s natural and 100% pure therapeutic grade. It’s going to be helping something in your body and it can’t hurt.

    1. Just because something is ‘natural’ doesn’t mean that it can’t harm…a lot. I don’t know whether what you’re talking about is homeopathy. There are certainly many essential oils that while natural are toxic. There seems to be this strange equality which people draw between processed and toxic, and natural and safe, which simply is not true.

  21. Disclaimer: I am a homeopath

    Hello Tim,

    Thank you for the wonderful podcast & books, always thought-provoking and inspiring.

    First off, I have no explanation for homeopathic remedy’s mechanism of action, I just observe that they work.

    I took some of your ideas from the 4HWW to heart, and designed my practice to be mobile – I can work from anywhere in the world, I see clients over Skype & then email them their prescriptions. My notes are mostly on the great Google Drive.

    I was an engineer in a previous life and I’m not comfortable with wishy-washy outcomes (the ‘depressed’ middle-aged lady telling me that she feels ‘a lot better’ after her treatment), so I have ended up specialising in treating autistic children… I wanted to help with an epidemic that conventional medicine has no treatments for (apart from trying to use awful psych drugs to suppress behaviour), and I also wanted something where I could demonstrate clear, repeatable, quantitatively-measurable results.

    I’ve also removed the placebo element from my practice as much as possible – I generally have no contact with the child in question, I talk to their mother over Skype, and often the child isn’t aware that they are being given any remedies.

    The results have been fantastic. (I’m not blowing-my-own-trumpet, colleagues using similar methods have been getting similar results.)

    The homeopathic remedies have stopped seizures and allowed the kids to come off anti-convulsive medicine, they’ve healed guts allowing proper assimilation of nutrients and normal bowel movements for the first time in years, they have precipitated rapid physical growth that allowed the child to catch up with peers, they’ve initiated eye-contact for the first time in years, helped non-verbal children to begin speech (after years of fruitless behavioural and speech therapy) …the list goes on and on. We’ve also seen measurable reductions in heavy-metal toxicity (using Hair mineral analysis) just from giving homeopathic remedies.

    If you’d be interested, I’d be happy to talk to you more about my work.

    Kind regards

    Alan

    P.S Please keep doing your thing!

  22. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance on Homeopathy. Article in PubMed

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19371568

    The water in homeopathy does not carry active ingredient but “energy frequencies”….It is something similar to acupunture…A field for which we do not have the right devices to test/measure. There is something…but it is a bit out of reach right now..as electricity in its own time…Just my take. Thanks Tim!

    1. Quality Assessment of Physical Research in Homeopathy

      The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine

      Vol. 9: Issue. 1: Pages. 113-132

      (Volume publication date: February 2003)

      <>

      We found 44 publications that included 36 experiments (the identity of 2 was unclear). They were classified into 6 types (dielectric strength, 6; galvanic effects, 5; light absorption, 4; nuclear magnetic resonance [NMR], 18; Raman spectroscopy, 7; black boxes of undisclosed design, 4).

      <>

      Conclusions: Most physical experiments of homeopathic preparations were performed with inadequate controls or had other serious flaws that prevented any meaningful conclusion. Except for those of high quality, all experiments should be repeated using stricter methodology and standardization before they are accepted as indications of special features of homeopathic potencies.

      1. “*Most* physical experiments…”

        Does this mean that there is some related phenomena that is worthy of further investigation? Surely results of any kind, even in a single reliable study, indicate that there is something going on. Homoeopathy and indeed mainstream medicine might both be barking up the wrong tree here. If there are *any* empirical results, then surely we need more data to form any conclusion, one way or the other.

  23. Dear Tim, in my very personal point of view Homeopathy just proves we’re not engines, nor bicycle, nor washing-machines, we’re complex, far beyond what a mechanical style science could explain nowadays proceeding by splitting the cell and splitting the molecule and splitting the atom and splitting the nucleus… Period. We have something that’s not explainable splitting and torturing rats, even if they’re 99% like us, someone says. We have profound feelings, and bindings, and thoughts that are phenomenal, even a baby can make your brain upside down with a word. Keep on the great work!

  24. You had me worried there for a minute, dear Tim 😉

    Luckily sanity prevailed.

    Yes, any rational and informed human will come the the conclusing that homeopathy is nonsense, let’s move on.

  25. If homeopathic dilution of a substance is true, wouldn’t ALL substances in that water be affected by shaking and beating? Why would we expect that only the “medicine” part that we added to dilution? There could be traces of meteorite or lizards dung in it. Would they be “enhanced”, too?

    1. In Reiki, for example, water or a stone can be charged with life force energy and in the charging, all other energy is removed. This would be similar.

      1. Reiki is another treatment that predates germ theory and any modern understanding of human physiology. Placebo.

  26. Evidence of homeopathy is undeniably positive and consistent. It’s a human evidence of experience, gathered from a real-world observation in a real-world setting giving real-world solutions

    1. Consistently failing real world randomized double blinds.. Causing real world deaths of people who don’t know better..

      1. I once witnessed someone recover almost immediately from a full-blown asthma attack after being given a few drops of ostensibly inert homoeopathic liquid. Real world life-threatening situation averted (inhalation of smoke from a burning plastic tent, miles from hospital, no puffer available). Real world observation.

        This is enough for me to keep an open mind about it, double-blind or not. With that said, in such a situation I believe it would be foolish to chose alternative medicine *over* allopathic medicine.

        Mainstream medicine is extremely advanced in “death prevention” but savagely and inarguably inferior for long-term health optimisation, body and soul. One reason for this is that mainstream medicine is highly focused on treating symptoms over root causes. In other words, different approaches are appropriate for different situations, but are often confused into being interchangeable.

      2. Upto the end of year 2010, there have been 318 studies published in 124 medical journals including 11 meta-analysis, 8 systematic reviews including 1 cochrane review and 93 RCT (83 DBRPCT + 7 DBRCT + 3 RCT) in evidence of homoeopathy

      3. You’ve been caught out lying on this subject before. I believe almost none of the publications are real medical journals. Homeopathic puff publications don’t count. Some of the concoctions tested weren’t even homeopathic, that is, they were of concentrations much much higher than the standard 30c or 12c.

      4. 124 journals comprises of 99 integrative, 11 homeopathy and 14 CAM journals. So you can see there are only 11 journals on homeopathy.

      5. List one in a real respected medical journal. The study must be on a homeopathic solution, standard dilution. Preferably from the west where standards much higher. You’ve failed this challenge before.

      6. Thank you for the link to your own website. As a homeopath no doubt you have listed the studies with the most favorable outcomes that could possibly be found on the web, and yet many state that results are inconclusive. This from an article you posted on retrospective analysis of several studies..

        Conclusion: Our results do neither prove that homeopathic medicines

        are superior to placebo nor do they prove the opposite.

        This, of course, was never our intention, this article was only

        about how the overall results and the conclusions

        drawn from them change depending on which subset of

        homeopathic trials is analyzed. As heterogeneity between

        trials makes the results of a meta-analysis less reliable, it

        occurs that Shang’s conclusions are not so definite as they

        have been reported and discussed.

        Note that Shang’s conclusion, discussed earlier in the article, was that homeopathic solutions perform no better than placebo.

        From another article..

        As not all of the single studies were analyzed by intention to treat analysis the results may be biased.

        You have listed an article that briefly discusses a trial by the NIH that shows a favorable outcome, I can’t find this study on the web, but this is from the NCBI/NIH website..

        Homeopathy remains one of the most controversial subjects in therapeutics. This article is an attempt to clarify its effectiveness based on recent systematic reviews. Electronic databases were searched for systematic reviews/meta-analysis on the subject. Seventeen articles fulfilled the inclusion/exclusion criteria. Six of them related to re-analyses of one landmark meta-analysis. Collectively they implied that the overall positive result of this meta-analysis is not supported by a critical analysis of the data. Eleven independent systematic reviews were located. Collectively they failed to provide strong evidence in favour of homeopathy. In particular, there was no condition which responds convincingly better to homeopathic treatment than to placebo or other control interventions. Similarly, there was no homeopathic remedy that was demonstrated to yield clinical effects that are convincingly different from placebo. It is concluded that the best clinical evidence for homeopathy available to date does not warrant positive recommendations for its use in clinical practice.

      7. Nancy Lee provided us with the one link she could find about harm due to ingesting a homeopathic substance… It took her a few tries, but she finally understood the question and stopped producing examples of people dying when they used homeopathy and refused “legit” drugs.

        Even taken out of context, the fact that death-rates drop when “legit” doctors go on strike is pretty funny since they are generally never wrong.

        I tried to find out why there are more suicides among “legit” doctors than any other profession. The only commentary I found on the phenomenon was from a “legit” doc who explained that there is no reason for that because there are plenty drugs for that kind of thing…. My theory is that after years invested in becoming “legit” docs and taking the Hippocratic Oath and spending more years in the dedicated performance of excellence (doing what you’re told very well), some become aware of the collossal errors in the “legit” FDA-approved medical model and are horribly disillusioned…. In their field, there is a lot at stake in going against the grain (being a leader) or quitting… like the loss of license, career, and reputation… that is a major conundrum to be faced with… It’s a major loss… Loss of meaning in life can result in suicide.

        I’m not a believer in homeopathy, but if you want to try it, I am convince that the odds of injuring yourself are a lot less than getting struck by lightning… twice.

      8. Wrong, Simon. You’re mischaracterizing what happened. But you folks believe as you wish. I’m unsubscribing so I won’t be tempted to continue with what’s obviously a lost cause.

        I guess I’m passionate about this topic because my father is a (now retired) medical doctor, the kind of doctor who took 4 years of undergraduate science, 4 years of medical school, an internship and residency. He saved uncounted lives during decades as an ER doctor and several tours in African mission hospitals, where he was required to perform major surgery and anesthesia as well as general practice. My cousin became a military trauma surgeon because of my Dad’s influence. Many of my family members work in the medical field, sustaining life and providing comfort. Their contributions have been based on the outcomes of rigorous scientific research.

        So I’m done here.

      9. Not sure what your point here is about suicides. From what I’ve read the highest suicide rates are with air traffic controllers and dentists. Maybe dentists are torn between using FDA approved tooth fillers and wanting to use some other naturopathic crap, and have become soooo disillusioned that they take their own lives. Let me know what you think of my theory, I loved yours.

        You have stated that homeopathy is harmless, this maybe true insofar as water is harmless, but not when verified medication is refused or avoided. As previously stated there is mountains of evidence that people are dying from this practice.

      10. REDUNDANT POINTS AS REQUESTED:

        1. even if homeopathy isn’t worth a darn, it isn’t harmful to ingest.

        2. Google “problems with pharmaceuticals” or “dangers of pharmaceuticals” to learn about horrific mass medical errors

        I’m neither a homeopathy advocate nor demonizing the dominant medical monopoly. But big pharma drugs do bodily harm and homeopathic substances apparently don’t… so demonizing homeopathy is a bit like displaced anger or propaganda – especially potent among the already-sold current life-long customers of the world-wide heroic-doping industry.

      11. 1. Homeopathic remedies cost money as do consultations. If the remedies are found to contain nothing other than alcohol or water then sick people are getting ripped off. If they forgo taking proven medications they may get sicker or die. Evidence of this occurring is easily found on the web.

        2. The fact that people die in hospitals or on real medications does not take away from the scientific method or modern medicine. People have entered hospitals and had the wrong limb amputated. This is tragic and demonstrates that doctors a fallible and hospitals may have systemic problems that need drastic improvement, but it does not mean that the science behind surgery is flawed. It most definitely does not mean we should elevate the status of junk medications or procedures in retaliation.

        Homeopathy is not being demonized. it just doesn’t work.

      12. pharmaceuticals: ingesting is harmful even if it has apparent benefits

        homeopathy: ingesting is harmless even if it does not have apparent benefits

        … personally, I wouldn’t use either unless the pain was incapacitating… then I’d actually try homeopathy before resorting to dope… hmmm…. why would that be? 🙂 …. love you bro

      13. Hey bro, love to know what you would do if you had cancer. Would you give chemo a try? Yes it does have side effects. Or would you go for the homeopathic potion?

        How about an acute infection?

      14. If faced with cancer right now, I would start reading hard in the Health Library at http://www.soilandhealth.org because it’s already helped me tweak my physiology… Since 2010 I haven’t suffered one of the respiratory infections that haunted me annually my whole life… Not being able to breathe or coughing so hard it tears a hole in a lung is another kind of nightmare.

      15. ummm, no. there are other ways to deal with things… most people are neither clever enough to discover them nor disciplined enough to apply them.

      1. Sorry I’m prejudiced against fake doctors with fake degrees from fake medical institutions.

      2. Did you hear the horror-story about the homeopathic remedy that caused autism? Oh, excuse me, that was due to good drugs administered by legitimate clinicians with actual degrees… My bad…. Darn homopaths and their snake oil and their greed and their flagrant self-righteousness!

      3. “Dr.” Malik may not be aware that bachelor’s degrees don’t entitle people to use the honorific “doctor” in the U.S. Maybe it’s different in India.

        Heck, I have an MFA from a 60-hour degree program completed subsequent to my bachelor’s. Please call me Maestro.

      4. Red herring, Rogue. The topic being discussed is homeopathy, not mainstream medicine. Your complaints about Western mainstream science-based medicine have nothing to do with proving that homeopathy works. Maybe a better characterization of the fallacy would be “blowing smoke”.

      5. You mean like pain killers, where the medication doesn’t actually cure your illness? I believe it’s written on the box or accompanying leaflet.

        You have a problem with “big pharma”, I know where this is coming from, I know someone affected by Thalidomide. The solution to any failings in the system will not be found with “big placebo”.

      6. Glenn, you are so right! We gotta stand up for the rights of the gagillion dollar drug-pimping industry before it crumbles at the hands of the dirty pilfering homopaths…. God save us.

      7. Invalid (ad hominem/red herring) argument, Simon. I hate Pfizer as much as the next guy, but the fact that they’re calculating bastards doesn’t prove that homeopathy works.

      8. @nancy – comment was in direct response to (and directly after) Glenn’ claim about fake doctors. Not a red herring at all.

      9. @Glenn – I don’t have a problem with big pharma as such, as you suggest. I’d appreciate you not making assumptions. It is however not so difficult to look at big pharma and understand the main drivers, as with any business that has responsibility to shareholders.

        My personal policy is to evaluate each treatment, whether mainstream or complimentary on its own merits. I don’t “believe” in homoeopathy or anything as such, except for pragmatically taking personal responsibility for my own health and being open to draw from many different approaches, including mainstream medicine.

        Pain killers (masking symptoms) does not even scratch the surface of what I was referring to as essentially *non-treatments* within mainstream medicine. On the other-hand, it would be idiotic IMO to not recognise the profound value of mainstream treatments that save lives and are effective. I don’t think it’s possible or wise to apply black and white, either/or thinking to any subject within medicine. We simply continue with applying whichever models provide us with the most insight and practical value, and remain prepared to drop or amend as needed, ideally (though sometimes with significant difficulty) without attachment.

      10. @Glenn –

        “You’ve been caught out lying on this subject before. I believe almost none of the publications are real medical journals. Homeopathic puff publications don’t count. Some of the concoctions tested weren’t even homeopathic, that is, they were of concentrations much much higher than the standard 30c or 12c.”

        Same question… can we dismiss *all* of the studies? Even if a single reliable study shows results, this is surely a reason to remain open to there being *something* going on that defies current models. All it should take is a single credible result and science would then have a duty to begin applying solid methodologies to the field. Not doing so (or at the least not recognising that there *is* something worth looking more deeply into) would simply be intellectually dishonest. Should science take this study on, we may well find that the majority of Homoeopathic understanding and treatment needs to be amended, but that the principles themselves are sound.

        In other words, if we found a single reliable study, what would your position be?

        By the way, there are plenty of deep mysteries within theoretical physics that leave plenty of room for Homoeopathic principles to be predicted. Dark matter, Quantum Etceteras, Holographic Universe model, String Theory (string harmonics)… […] …

      11. No we can’t dismiss any of the studies unless they have retrospectively found to have been conducted less stringently. You seem to have it in your head the modern medical science hasn’t given homeopathy a fair go, but obviously this is not the case as individual remedies have been clinically tested and failed.

        Please forward a link on literature by a theoretical physicist that supports homeopathy.

      12. @Glenn –

        You didn’t answer my question –

        …if we found a single reliable study [showing a Homoeopathic treatment as effective], what would your position be?

      13. There are numerous clinical studies that show that Saw Palmetto helps with enlarged prostate and associated urination problems. I’ve even heard doctors on talk back radio programs recommend this popular remedy with claims that it is proven. Turn the clock forward to the more recent clinical studies that show that Saw Palmetto does not work beyond that of a placebo. Retrospective analysis of some of the older studies found mistakes with some of the testing protocols. Mistakes can be made with clinical trials, but the hope is that they are rectified with further study and improved methods. Note that Saw Palmetto is not a homeopathic remedy but would be classified as an alternative or natural remedy.

  27. @Nancy Lee –

    “‘Dr.’ Malik may not be aware that bachelor’s degrees don’t entitle people to use the honorific “doctor” in the U.S. Maybe it’s different in India.

    Heck, I have an MFA from a 60-hour degree program completed subsequent to my bachelor’s. Please call me Maestro.”

    Ad Homonim, poisoning the well. Appeal to Authority (appeal to accomplishment).

    What Dr. Nancy Malik actually said was:

    “Upto the end of year 2010, there have been 318 studies published in 124 medical journals including 11 meta-analysis, 8 systematic reviews including 1 cochrane review and 93 RCT (83 DBRPCT + 7 DBRCT + 3 RCT) in evidence of homoeopathy”

  28. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25171757

    Over thirty years of homeopathic practice: Homeopathy is real, effective and remarkable but requires understanding that the principle of practice is absolutely different from “this for that” medicine. Homeopathy will not work in that kind of paradigm. Without resonance between remedy pattern and patient, there is no reaction. Most of the critics don’t have a clue regarding homeopathy, they just parrot each other, violating the open minded spirit of inquiry in the process. Conscientious clinical application provides diverse evidences including proving symptoms (symptoms that occur spontaneously in the patient that are known characteristics of the remedy), reliable reproducible curative response to specific remedies when characteristic symptoms are present in the case, lousy results in a given case with remedy after remedy until a single unique characteristic symptom is revealed that indicates a clear remedy path producing clear curative response, curative response occurring on a general level, not simply main complaints (remedies are chosen according to general indications and should have a local and general response), curative response in skeptics, babies, pets, and other unlikely placebo responders, when the remedy is correctly indicated.

    The notion that homeopathy can’t work requires ignoring plenty of research in ultramolecular dilutions.

    Here is a recent German film with (rather poor) subtitles detailing some significant aspects of the contemporary German experience with homeopathy. Things get interesting after ten minutes.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwwdpnh7Uq4

    Vindication is coming. You will eat your hat.

    1. What I find most interesting about this doco is information about the ADHD study in Switzerland, and how “The Lancet”, although acknowledging that the study was good, refused to publish it because it was not what its readers were interested in.

      This shows that the editorial process in scientific journals is an extra filter, active irrespective (at least in this case) of the hard science.

      Is it any wonder that such studies, presumably the ones which challenge existing models, only seem to end up in “alternative” journals?

    2. Dear Wiseacres,

      The “memory of water” notion never existed before Benveniste. Homeopathy is over two hundred years of global experience and is not defined by the phrase “memory of water”.

      Leaving aside the nature of homeopathic medicines and the theory behind their use, extremely interesting topics in their own right, homeopathic case taking has much to teach the world of science about the nature of the organism as a field, rather than a collection of parts. Homeopathy is a fascinating study all around, and homeopaths have made intriguing and important discoveries that are rich philosophically and scientifically. It remains our little secret though, as due to the arrogance, and I can’t really think of a more precise word, of a host of writers who should know better, and their faithful followers, all of this wonder is entirely missed and the world of science robs itself of the potential riches.

  29. Dear Tim,

    I am surprised that the mechanism of homeopathic medicines hasn’t been uncovered and studied more widely. I am guessing that the polarity of water molecules allows them to be organized in odd ways, resulting in different properties. So even though its just water molecules that you are ingesting, they are still carrying additional information that your body can react to.

    Also, if the placebo effect is not an unknown mechanism, would someone please explain it super briefly?

    Thanks!

  30. Hi homeopathy works! look at the world population that is using homeopathy-and this blows away the placebo option ! we use it also for animals n children. If you want to enter into the mystery of homeopathy- then look at Dr EMOTO study on water crystals- and you will see how water molecules can carry messages to the body. As 70% of our body is made up of water and homeopathy uses water as a vehicle, then it all makes sense.

    1. If you are a qualified doctor then this is cause for alarm. Please outline the homeopathic remedies that have been proven to work through randomized double blind clinical trials. Please avoid the standard anecdotes that have flooded into this blog.

      1. From several sources. Nobel Laureate Luc Montagnier published controversial studies on electromagnetic signals from bacterial DNA that had been highly diluted. The dilutions used in his experiments were higher than those used in homeopathy, and his published papers did not mention Homeopathy. At the time it was falsely reported by the British Homeopathic Association, and a Homeopath World Community website that his findings supported homeopathy. When asked by Canada’s CBC Marketplace program if his work was indeed a theoretical basis for homeopathy as homeopaths had claimed, Montagnier replied that one “cannot extrapolate it to the products used in homeopathy”.

        Regarding Montagnier’s work there have been harsh criticisms like this from the scientific community. Biology professor PZ Myers described it as “pathological science.” He described the paper as “one of the more unprofessional write-ups I’ve ever run across”, and criticized the publication process as having an “unbelievable turnaround” time: “another suspicious sign are the dates. This paper was submitted on 3 January 2009, revised on 5 January 2009, and accepted on 6 January 2009,” leading him to ask: “Who reviewed this, the author’s mother? Maybe someone even closer. Guess who the chairman of the editorial board is: Luc Montagnier.”

        For further reading on the Huffington post article.

        http://www.skepticblog.org/2011/01/31/homeopathy-pseudoscience-at-the-huffpo/

  31. My dentist Dr. Mark Breiner uses homeopathy in his practice a lot. He explained the dilution like this: on Mars there is a probe that is analyzing the soil. How does it send data back to Earth? This thing is never coming back so there must be a way. The answer is that all elements have their own energetic vibration or frequency, and this is the information that this thing is sending back to us. If you are taking a homeopathic remedy for mercury, which is a poisonous substance of course, you can’t treat ‘like with like’ in the sense that you feed people even a small amount of poison. Instead, the remedy has zero of the actual substance in it, but vibrates at the frequency of mercury. This is a very difficult concept but I think we can all accept that we are made of energy, any physicist will tell you that. And the explanation is fascinating. If you have any interest at all, please invite Dr. Breiner in for an interview! He wrote the book ‘Whole Body Dentistry,’ and he may answer some questions and create lots of new ones. (By the way, with the exception of arnica I understand real homeopathy scoff at the ‘cell salts’ that are marketed as homeopathics in drug stores).

  32. The picture looks cute like one of the characters of Dumb Ways To Die. BTW, advertisements and packagings of these homeopathic medicines can still influence the behavior of the patient.

    1. Is the point being that homeopathy backed by a member of the scientific community (and a Nobel Prize winning one at that) gives it more credence?

  33. Think of homeopathics less in terms of chemical reactions in the body, and more in terms of stimuli and response. Certainly you’re not ingesting enough of an “active ingredient” to cause a chemical reaction. But you can quite easily trigger an internal physical response.

    An example would be our olfactory senses. When you get a whiff of a woman’s perfume or you walk in to a toxic-smelling public restroom, you’re actually inhaling microscopic airborne particles of flower oils (in the first case) or actual microscopic airborne particles of fecal matter (in the second case). Don’t panic — that’s how we perceive smells. The “dosage” of each is measured in parts per million (ppm) or even parts per billion (ppb). You’re rarely inhaling enough particles to induce a chemical reaction in your body (i.e. make you sick), but you frequently inhale enough to elicit a physical reaction in your body, like feelings of sensuality or feelings or disgust.

    With homeopathics, you’re introducing a faint bit of stimuli (or stressor) into the body, not to elicit a chemical response, but rather to attempt to trigger the body’s own natural response systems to that particular stimuli.

    So you’re not avoiding the bell curve of symptoms per se, but rather speeding up the healing process by “calling in the troops” (like white blood cells or natural antibodies or histamines or certain hormones, etc…) to take action faster than the body would have done so otherwise.

  34. I was sick for about 15 years with all sorts of recurring infections. I went to regular docs and specailists and they never figured it out. I was so frustrated and out of options that I contacted a medical intuitive. she figured out in 5 minutes that I was celiac. (Very odd that the tens of thousands of dollars and minutes I spent with docs over 15 years and no one thought to test me for that.) I dropped gluten and I was almost all better except for some nagging gallbladder pain that would come and go. No one could figure it out. Then I met a natropath from a referral from a Reiki Master and she told me all I needed was a vibrational. ( another word for homeopathy) One drop, and I was better in 3 seconds. Whenever the pain returns I take a drop and I’m better. It’s been a life changer for me. The surprising thing was that the vibrational she gave me was for ‘fatigue and overwork’. How true that was- in retrospect.

    I have 3 vibrationals that I take. One for gallbladder, one for sleep, one for mood. They are in blue vials and I’ve gotten them

    mixed up before. I’ve taken sleep for gallbladder pain on accident and I got tired, still had the pain, then realized my mistake and took the correct tabs and I was as good as new.

    Tim- I love your books. You are truly brilliant. But you have a way to go in your understanding about matters like these. I guess I find it interesting that someone like you, who is interested in hacking, wouldn’t notice that a lot of these alternatives are hacking. I mean- I could’ve carried on taking prescription meds that my doctors who could never figure out what my real illness was, insist I take because they were scientifically proven…. Or I could’ve thought outside the box and taken a chance on a medical intuitive. Which is what I did. And it cured me.

    Earlier this year I became a Reiki Master. I don’t do it for money, I do it because I enjoy it, like you enjoy German breakdancing. I’d love to teach the techniques to someone like you, someone who wants to ‘see it to believe it’, because after you learned it you would have an entirely different opinion and you’d want to write about it.

    Maybe an idea for your 4th book… Unless I write it first. 🙂 see you on the NYT Bestseller list! 🙂

  35. Placebo ‘medicine’ and homeopathic ‘medicine’ both have the same amount of active ingredients – zero – so why is one method the more reasonable explanation?

  36. Tim, it seems you’re bothered that something so diluted… to the extent you so vividly described, could actually work. Well here’s something outside of the box to consider..science is not the end all be all. there’s something else far more complex and mysterious, called nature. But even if you go by science, homeopathy makes sense. It’s not the actual substance that the remedy is made of that provides an effect on the body..it’s simply the vibration of that substance which is left..the essence so to speak, which nudges the body to do what it’s supposed to do. homeopathy is amazing, and. It is energy medicine. it’s not about the substance man. it’s about its essence, and it works for believers and non-believers..as well as babies and animals.. hence you can throw your placebo theory out the door. it’s worked on far too many babies and animals…and you can also chuck your bell curve theory because there are far too many cases where people tried everything and then found relief with homeopathy. also..not all illnesses follow the bell curve..only the acute ones. but many chronic illnesses will just linger indefinitely, and some spiral out of control. here’s where you will see that homeopathy has worked so called miracles.so my friend, i think you need to experiment more with homeopathy..and then see how you feel about it if it helps each time..you are less likely to think it’s due to regression toward mean…and perhaps less likely to ridicule a form of medicine that is far more intelligent than our mainstream allopathic…because it’s using the laws of nature, and goes with, not against nature. i’m a bit surprised that your head hurts if something isn’t “logical science”…you who thinks outside of the box. hmmmmmm….looks lie you’ve boxed yourself in on this one. .

    1. Condescension and stupidity. You obviously haven’t read any of the other posts. Every point you’ve brought up has been covered several times over.

  37. Even though I cannot explain the effect of these homeopathic medicines on animals, I’ve wondered many times if it has some real impact (also, my mother is a homeopathic physician, albeit with a real MD, and so this has been a “hot” subject on the dinner table). I can’t believeit really does, and so the only logical conclusions I’ve gotten to are that 1) it is either a Placebo or Hawthorne effect, or 2) some properties of the different ingredients diluted are actually of use.

  38. Tim: I’ve seen a homeopath every two months for a few years. Is homeopathy valid or smoke and mirrors? Don’t know and don’t care.

    The woman I see is brilliant, a keen observer, knowledgeable about healthy eating and unhealthy habits and, dare I say, a healer. She makes regular contributions to my health and health habits. Most recently you (via your show) and she teamed up to convert me to green smoothies.

    I now eat more kale daily (with a dose of CALM, calcium-magnesium, to offset the nasty acid in the kale) than my entire life’s consumption up through 2013 combined. Thanks to having started using the iMood Journal app before starting the smoothies, I’ve documented that my energy is both higher and more stable.

    The point is the wellness advocates I work with have made a huge difference. The homeopathy aspect? She believes it’s making the difference. I believe she is making the difference (and you, too).

  39. The thing is. you can change the composure or water itself by telling it you like it, or by sending it positive thoughts. Maybe that one diluted part influence the water just like sending positive thoughts. Its just a thought i’d like to share

  40. Tim, My personal belief is this homeopathic stuff needs controls and hard data. I believe that trusting this pseudo-science played a part in the passing of my stepmother. Great post because, you’really right the process does seem a questionable.

  41. So, Tim. You used it. You got better, faster.

    Let’s think about this a moment.

    You. Got. Better. Faster.

    Ok. One more time.

    Yoooou. Goooot. Better. Faster.

    Hmmmm. And what’s the most important thing with medicine.

    Getting. Better. Faster.

    If it were just placebo, your other creme would work just as quickly, no?

    Solution: try it again and see what happens. If it works, it doesn’t matter why, does it?

  42. Homeopathic medicines are colloidal solutions containing one or more ingredients heterogeneously dispersed in water-ethanol solution and are prepared by a pharmacological process of potentisation.

  43. You could only describe a homeopathic remedy as colloidal in the early stages of dilution, thereafter it is just water or the alcohol carrier.

    Potentisation is a homeopathic term and is not recognized in pharmacology.

  44. Homeopathic medicines are really work. These are frequently used in the treatment for cancer, thyroid, weight loss, piles and so many diseases.

  45. Hey Tim, well I ready your blog post and mmm.. what to say.. I was a skeptic at first until my cat Bailey came into my life. He was a pretty sick little guy on day one of adoption at 10 months old, with a several serious issues. Conventional vets wanted him on a whole bunch of drugs and steroids basically for the rest of his life – I told them to forget it and give me my cat back! Hence, my journey led me to Homeopathic vets who are traditionally trained vets who have turned their attention to alternative health methods including homeopathic medicine. That was 8 years ago, and Bailey is nearly completely healed from everything that has ailed him. It took me a looong time, a lot of research, perseverance and a belief that there were answers. I am a huge fan of Hampl ,http://www.holisticanimalmedicines.com/ out of Australia and Dr. Donald Hamilton in New Mexico for teaching me so much both from an animal healing as well as human healing with homeopathic treatments. I wasn’t a believer until I walked through this journey with Bailey.

    Just an aside Tim, I too am a lover of research of health and healing, maybe not the extreme that you are, but I never take the “status quo” answer and I always believe there are solutions to any problem. Kimberley

  46. Every single type of situation requires a different approach. If you think western is the only thing or homeopathy is the best, you are going to use that tool rather than find the best. Better to keep an open mind and go as-needed

  47. I think Dr. Rustum Roy gives the best explanation of how homeopathy may work (See link below).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YU5ukds8G8o

    But, like with many things in health and medicine, I’ve seen homeopathic remedies do some very amazing things, yet do nothing in some cases. I think problems mostly arise when people try to use only one approach, like homeopathy, trying to cure everything…

  48. I think this is kind of similar to what you say in 4-Hour Body. We are looking for the least amount of something that gives legitimate results. We typically take the equivalent of working out 6 days a week for 2 hours in terms of medicine. Our medicine attempts to eliminate symptoms in most cases, so it needs to be strong. The idea behind homeopathy is the same in principle as what you say in the 4-Hour Work week. Homeopathy supposedly works by triggering a body’s response, not killing a virus or eliminating symptoms. The medicine is designed to trigger whatever response is needed to eliminate the infection or relieve symptoms. If you have the flu, ideally a homeopathic remedy would be just enough to trigger your body’s natural fighting response to the flu, but not so much as to allow your body to become desensitized to the drug as we do with caffeine or other medicines. . . At least that’s how I learned of it.

    1. What I mean to say is, it is all in your mind. The “essence” of homeopathy is that doing just enough to make the body aware of what it needs to do is all that a caregiver should do. At the very least, you’re doing yourself no harm.

  49. I will let you my personal experience. I suffered of bronchitis since I have memories. Cortisone and antibiotics were common in my life, allergies too. I tried everything in “normal” medicine with different Doctors. At the age of 22 I started with homeopathy just as curiosity and to give it a chance. I spent the next 2 years going up and down, back and forth with the treatment, feeling incredibly well and incredibly bad. In many occasions I wanted to give up; long story short story. I am 50 now. I never had a flu, bronchitis, allergies again since then. Believe it or not. My youngest son at the age of 2 was diagnosed with pneumonia. My wife took him to the best Doctor in my Health Plan. Treatment: 3 month of antibiotics and cortisone. I refused. We took him to the second one (and recommended) Doctor in our Plan. Same treatment. I refused again. Obviously an angry argument with my wife, my son’s health was in jeopardy. I took him to my Homeopathic Doctor. After 3 days of his medicines my son started to breath normally and no traces of pneumonia so far, he’s 13 now. Believe it or not #2. Conclusion; I think it’s very personal, but traditional medicine now is more focused in business than to heal people.

  50. Hi Tim- I can’t tell you if homeopathy works or not but I’m open-minded and surprised at the number of violent homeopathy haters here in your comments. I think since you’re whole thing is going against the grain, maybe this is a good opportunity to pursue any similar kind of subject further, like energy medicine. Maybe pay a visit to the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Petaluma to see what can be done. I’m an online PhD student in psychology at Saybrook University which has offices in SF and a brick and mortar campus in Seattle. Saybrook specializes in alternative medicine, human science, and “humanistic, existential, and transpersonal” psychology and I’ve read plenty of interesting research hinting at mechanisms for homeopathy. The big thing right now is “information” medicine, hypothesizing that the remedies carry “information” to the body. IDK, I think the concept works pretty well with the whole MED shtick. Either way I’d love to see like a “4-hour Enlightenment “book where you try a bunch of things that work via a spiritual mechanism i.e. “energy” or accelerate spiritual development i.e. biofeedback for deeper meditation or eat nutrients for developing the lightbody or whatever (that is a thing, see “Power up Your Brain” Perlmutter & Villodo.) Think moving from the 15 minute orgasm to the ecstatically blissful 15 hour orgasm via tantric techniques. I have a person you really need to talk to if you are interested in optimal spiritual development for everything in life (non-tantra related!). They are NOT what you would expect from a “guru”. I just think your influence could do so good much in bringing some essential concepts light years ahead of how accepted they are now.

    1. There’s nothing wrong with being open minded but that doesn’t mean that we can’t dismiss the highly unlikely, or that which we know is incompatible with scientific principles. Charlatans love to accuse sceptics of being “closed minded”, this is an old trick. You have labeled critics on this thread of being violent haters. I have not read a single comment that could be characterized as violent. And the word “hater” has to be the most juvenile and overused term to have emerged from the internet and social media revolution.

      There is an epidemic of institutions now in the US that are pumping out PhDs that fall far short of international standards, and have as much value as a cereal box certificate. As for Saybrook, I would be concerned about their range of PhD’s in alternative medicines that sit outside the fringe of modern science based medicine.

  51. I have used homeopathic medicines for many years and recovered from neck pain from a car accident, stopped getting migraine headaches, bronchitis cleared up and rarely bothers me any more. Placebo or not placebo, it works! In this world we don’t always know “why” something works. But only a fool would not try it and see. No side effects. 🙂

  52. Whatever the reason, homeopathic remedies have worked remarkably well for our family. In one case, I had postpartum bleeding for six weeks at a steady rate. My homeopath prescribed a remedy, and the bleeding stopped entirely within two hours and never came back again. Placebo effect? Possibly. But that means I have an incredibly powerful mind, and I’ll take that. It has also worked really well for our kids, including when I give them a remedy while they’re sleeping. To me, that would seem to eliminate the placebo effect if the recipient doesn’t ever know they have taken anything. So perhaps we can use the regression-to-the-mean rationale or the something-we-don’t-yet-understand rationale. On a side note, perhaps one reason why homeopathic remedies have had mixed results in clinical trials is because, as I understand them, each remedy is specific to the person and his/her constitution. So while Arnica may work well for pain for some people, it may not resonate highly with other people, making it difficult to capture their effectiveness under such trials. Of course, this “personalization” of medicine is a serious departure from the one-size-fits-all approach we often see with the more common pharmacological medicine.

  53. I think pyschosomatic healing is a more important factor than the placebo effect and could largely explain the effectiveness of pills with no effective ingredient (with mass). If you take concrete steps to manage your illness, even if it is taking a sugar pill, that alone can be mentally empowering enough to translate into physical healing. I think this is why they continue to work and be sold after people, accustomed to allopathic principles of more drug=more benefit, get over the initial shock of realizing there isn’t a molecule of active ingredient in the stuff. This is important, because even allopathic drugs can only work on illness by restoring function (not necessarily balance) to the body’s inflammatory response and immune system, often by brute force. This is why only a few work well without side important side effects. Without your natural defenses working to some capacity, nothing at all will help.

    I have found natural health remedied and toiletries to be vastly superior to most of the man-made alternatives with artificial ingredients. It makes sense to me as we have become integrated into our natural environment for at least thousands of years and have adapted to it, acquiring a wealth of knowledge about applied natural healing far longer than man has been patenting medicines created in a lab and learning about that. In fact, we are the test subjects for much of it and of course, we have an epidemic in this country whereby expensive drugs are over-prescribed.

    Healthy, naturally produced food is fundamental to disease prevention and even more important for wellness than a remedy. Unfortunately, nutritious food is under serious attack and has been for about the same amount of time as natural medicine, but the threat from farm inputs, soil sterilization and DNA corruption is far greater. Another subject for another day, or around a midnight Friday the 13th campfire.

    I am neither for or against homeopathics, but I have seen them work, they have worked for me, and they are extremely safe, safe as distilled water, so I have no problem recommending them as long as I can be reasonably assured they aren’t adulterated. If you are skeptical or just want a stronger dose try 1X or 2X preparations (1:10 and 1:100 respectively) but be aware that they can produce real side effects and allergic reactions and not just those that could conceivably be imagined from taking a known placebo. These are called low-potency, something both camps can agree on. Allopaths will see them as being weak because they are homeopathic and when compared to the active ingredients in the lab alternative. Homepathy purists will see them as low potency compared to the greater energy being imparted to more dilute preparations (having been sucsussed more times). These are not your typical active ingredients either. They are often designed to mimic the potential root cause of a symptom to elicit a more powerful immune response, so they can be antagonistic. I am far more worried, however about the current drug epidemic and the broken regulatory system. Use caution and seek wisdom, in any case. The information is out there. Be your own health expert. Salud.

    1. Homeopathics.. they are extremely safe, safe as distilled water.. This seems a true statement, unless you are using these “remedies” in place of clinically proven medications.

  54. Hallo tim I am do homeopathy and I really want to use your diet in the 4 hour body book.Is there an alternate to the cinnamon you suggested, cause as you might now ,cinnamon is not allowed durin homeopathy treatment. Thank a lot

  55. What about the reality that there are at least some if not many elements in nature or in natural organic elements, that we as mere humans have not yet detected? We therefore don’t realize or know they exist or are present – let alone know how they react in the human body or in life itself. I’m a true believer in that phenomenon, particularly resulting from empirical experiments, one of which was conducted with sea water, and the human recreation of it (element by element), yet the recreated sea water was unable to support life – add one cup of real sea water to the tank and life was maintained.

  56. Hey Tim, i haven’t read all the comments below… But from my reading of your review about homeopatics remedy, there is still something you haven’t seem to understand. I can explain this way : There is absolutely no substance left in the product you take. this is why you usually take a remedy that if you would take it for real, it would cause the symptoms you have. Let it be clear. if you take arsenic, you will most probably die from vomiting your stomach out. Than if you have that symptom of vomiting, you would take arsenicum album 30ch and you would stop vomiting… Ok lets be clear, it is not the substance that cure… it must be something else since it have worked! even for you! So logic goes this way. actually when you express a symptom it because you lack of some kind of energy somewhere in your body or lets add the energetic field (the one acupuncture heals for more than 5000 years now). If you take a dilution, of a product that contain the “energy” of that substance that would create a symptom than, you take energy!!! So your energy field that was lacking of a tiny bit of some kind of energy get the right vibration. and get back to normal. If you haven’t taken time to find the cause and get rid of it : than the symptom with express lack of energy will most likely come back.

    i’m sorry i’m not english first language. So i hope its clear enough so it make you work a little bit.

    Than lets be honest placebo, his always there and available upon your own faith… just meditate to convince yourself that you don’t have pain. and you will placebo plus having a cleared spirit that has that property to heal itself… That a human!

    have fun!!!!

  57. Homeopathy is amongst the worst examples of faith-based medicine that wins shrill support from celebrities and other powerful lobbies in place of a genuine and humble wish to explore the limits of our knowledge using the scientific method. Homeopathy is based on the like-cures-like principle (‘Similia similibus curentur’) and the concept of the memory of water.

  58. Homeopathy was propounded and systematized as distinct new eco-friendly medical system by German physician Dr. Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann in 1796 based on the principle of similars. Central to the Principle of Similars, is the idea of resonance. Homeopathic medicines are prepared through a specific nanopharmacological process of potentisation.

    Evidence of homeopathy is undeniably positive and consistent. It’s a human evidence of experience, gathered from a real-world observation in a real-world setting giving real-world solutions. Upto the end of year 2010, there have been 299 studies published in 114 medical journals including 11 meta-analysis, 8 systematic reviews and 81 RCT in evidence of homoeopathy to produce significant to substantial health benefits in a wide array of health conditions.

    Super-Avogadro dilutions in homeopathy stimulate the biological activity and pathways to restore the homeostatic mechanism. There are 33 medical consitions for which there are 2 or more than 2 statistically significant human studies published in peer-reviewed journals upto the end of year 2010.

    1. The “principal of similars” sometimes referred to as the “law of similars” has been debunked many times over and is not compatible with our modern, (the last 100+ years), understanding of science and pharmacology.

      Nanopharmacological Process of Potentisation – the cool term given to the process of watering down a remedy that will never work, to a “0” concentration. That is, there is no longer a single molecule of the “non-active ingredient” left in the solution of nothing but water or alcohol. The premise behind homeopathy is that water still contains the vibration of the substance that was diluted out of it. This of course begs the question, why does the water not contain the vibration of the millions of elements and compounds that it has passed over previously, and only contain the vibration of the compound of the homeopath’s choosing? Comical isn’t it?

      Evidence for homeopathy is undeniably 90% anecdotal, (note that in science anecdotes count for zero), and 10% bad studies by homeopaths with obvious confirmation bias. Recent peer reviewed scientific studies and meta-analysis have shown that homeopathy does not work. The NHMRC, the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia did a recent meta-analysis of 1800 studies and found no credible evidence that homeopathy worked at all. They are now working to get it banned.

  59. I’m 50 years old. During my childhood I have been treated with cortisone and antibiotics in abundance due to my breathing problems. They ruined the teeth (enamel) and caused me all kinds of allergies. At age 24 I tried homeopathy for the first time, I was always very incredulous about it. I had the perseverance to continue the treatment for two years; were hard. Today I can say that not even take aspirin for the last 20 years. What happened to my children? When my son was 1 year old he had a severe case of pneumonia; we took him to the best pulmonologist in the country; he revised him and after 10 minutes he ordered 6 months of antibiotics and cortisone. I refused. We went to sub world champion pulmonologist. Exactly the same treatment. Again I refused. We discuss with my wife, almost on the verge of divorce. (You do not think about the health of your son!) I took my son to my homeopath. He checked for 2 hours. He asked for as he was born, to their personal tastes in food, etc. He prescribed some globules for 3 days. On day 3 my son had no traces of his pneumonia. Until today he is a healthy child. Have a nice day.

  60. I too thought it must be hokum until I was able to stop ANY allergy dead, not just after continually taking something but just for a 1 month course and it was GONE! After this eye opener, I found and continually find amazing help in even my own homemade Homeopathic preps which I now use our Small Ninja cup to prepare(very tedious to do it the old way by hand). The effect which I call Quantum/Electric imprints the water/alcohol mix with residual characteristics that the original solution had which in turn have amazing effects on the nervous system (Without the toxicity!). The proof lies in the pudding, yes it works amazingly. As in drugs, the effect on each system will vary but even with the commonly available homeopathic mixes commercially, enough people are helped to make it worth trying (very cheap to try). At least two things are extremely mind blowing: 1. Often the same symptom causing Homeopathic will counter the same neural symptoms and 2. The more dilute (more agitated) Homeopathic (powder or liquid) will be stronger to the point that one must be careful when passing 6x (or 6c). A 12x can be too powerful and not to be used by the uninitiated for If one shoots past the strength needed it will likely then cause a worsening of symptoms as one needs to titrate to the correct effect. I give our 16 yr. old Lab a “Fibromyalgia” tab in the morning and an “Arthritis” tab with supper, it takes years off! Heck yes it works, Amazingly!

  61. Homeopathy is a complex and useful therapeutic method, IF and only if one uses it properly.

    As you accurately described above, it is based on the principle of “like treats like.” In allopathic medicine, this principle is seen in vaccinations.

    The key (which was not mentioned) is the use of the proper remedy. It can be quite involved and difficult to determine. A trained homeopathic practitioner will often spend an hour or more gather precise and specific information from the patients about all aspects of their life. Once this information is gathered, in classical homeopathy, there is one remedy given. Dosage depends upon the situation – ex/ acute, chronic etc.

    The biggest challenge is reflected in how this article is written. One simply does not go to a health store and ask the clerk who is getting $7/hr which remedy is useful. This may be fine for acute issues such as the one you cited (the use of arnica for bruising).

    In any form of natural medicine, the focus is on the patient, not the product. This is the major difference versus standard care. You cannot say “Natural product XYZ is good for these symptoms.” It is “Person A who is experiencing these symptoms and has this chemistry, would benefit from this Natural Product.” The model is completely different.

    Such is the case with homeopathic medicine.

  62. Homeopathy work and useful if taken under guidance of good doctor. Again I want to reiterate my word “good doctor”. [Moderator: link removed]

  63. British Scientist Michael Brooks’ book “13 Things That Don’t Make Sense” has a book on Homeopathy that was interesting. He’s a sceptic as well, but couldn’t totally dismiss the concept of “water memory”, where water retains some memory for the previously diluted substance. In essence it is electrically altered in same permanent way. Just interesting but not consistently able to be reproduced.

  64. While I agree that there are many things that are the result of the placebo effect, I have found that many doctors and academics fall back on it way too easily when faced with something that doesn’t fit within existing theory. I don’t know where the line should be drawn exactly, but it seems like every year there is research showing a use for treatments that were previously written off as garbage, or a basis for some condition that was “all in their head” shortly before. Acupuncture, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, endometriosis were all dismissed not that long ago, before a medical journal said otherwise.

  65. Hi Tim, a close buddy of mine is a pharmacist. A few years back he had some wart like growths on his eyelid. He used standard pharmaceuticals which had no effect he went to MD’s and they offered surgery. Eventually frustrated he resorted to Homeopathy and very quickly the growths completely disappeared and have never returned.

  66. Great essay. It was awesome of you to be truly open-minded: you didn’t write it off out of hand, you also did research, and you tried it.

    Many folks who ask us to be “open-minded” don’t follow the rules themselves, they trust without critical thinking, or more sadly, they don’t really understand how to do critical thinking.

    Most importantly, you understand that you are only 1 data point — so your own observations provide very very little information. Many people vastly over-value their own observations.

    Only large numbers of results have any meaning.

    Your illustration of the immense scale of the dilution is fantastic. Well done, sir. Much respect.

  67. 30 years as a medical practitioner tells me that placebo is one of the most powerful healing tools available to every body. Both placebo and nocebo are part of every healing intervention. The art of medicine is to use this wisely.

  68. Well Tim, i think you may be in the catagory of the flat earth society! Still arguing that the earth is flat, there is ample evidence homoeopathy works, look into the fact Hanneman had 90% succes in treatng scarlet fever whereas modern medicine at the time had a 3% success rate, just to name one instance, there are plenty of double blind clinical trials done to prove the efficiacy. Google it

    1. A “flat earther” is someone who, despite mountains of evidence, adheres to outdated or disproven ideas. This sounds more like yourself if you think homeopathy is legitimate.

      The double blind studies you claim prove the efficacy of homeopathy were mostly conducted by homeopaths and are rife with confirmation bias. One of the more prominent homeopaths based in India who has commented on this thread, advertised her website that cited a dozen or more favorable clinical trials.. Until you actually read them and found most of the independent studies concluded with “inconclusive result”. These were the best she could find for a dedicated homeopath website.

      In Australia the government organization NHMRC, National Health and Medical Research Council, has released a report stating that there is no evidence that homeopathy works in any capacity, after reviewing 1800 international studies. They are now pressuring insurance companies to stop covering Homeopathic treatments. If this happens it will be a win for rational thinking, and a win for medical science.

  69. Tim, I know quite a bit about homeopathic remedies. In my clinic we use them and have had fantastic success with treating some of the sickest patients (I love working with the patients that are the sickest of the sick). I’m happy to discuss what we do and help you understand homeopathy better. It is very hard to wrap your head around as it violates pretty much everything that we’ve been taught when it comes to traditional medicine and natural supplements. Those products are chemical based products, homeopathy is physics based medicine – it requires a completely different mindset to understand and ‘grasp’. Also, 30C is a pretty low dosage. Sometimes patients require X-dosage or even a Y-dosage…. I know – it sounds weird, but I’m happy to help you understand it if you’re really curious. Better yet – fly out to St. Louis and visit my clinic to check it all out for yourself. 🙂

  70. The only interesting questions remaining concerning homeopathy for me is the effect on animals. I don’t think there is that much research here is there?

    I get that research studies have shown with humans that homeopathy is no more effective than placebo if you don’t have the longer physician sessions, but what about animals? And more interestingly, does the effect differ amongst different types; dog vs cat, domestic vs wild.

    1. If you accept that homeopathy is ineffective beyond placebo why would the outcome be any different with animals?

      Any positive response with animals is imagined by the owners in what is termed confirmation bias.

  71. Homeopathic remedies work from the clustering of water molecules, which are magnetic dipoles and sometime monopoles, conveying information to cells that trigger a cellular response. Dr. Martin Chaplin, Dr. Gerald Pollack, and others are showing what’s going on at the molecular and atomic level. It’s not voodoo, but it’s not chemistry either, it’s energetics and magnetism, and quantum physics. People often ridicule what they don’t understand. Well made homeopathics yield real results which can be measured and quantified.

    http://www1.lsbu.ac.uk/water/water_structure_science.html

    1. “Homeopathic remedies work from the clustering of water molecules, which are magnetic dipoles and sometime monopoles, conveying information to cells that trigger a cellular response.” Scientific terms used to describe something that has no support in the scientific community. The basis of homeopathy is that a diluted out of existence ingredient of your choosing in a solution of water, (which has also been in contact with millions of other compounds), will effect water molecules in such a way as to trigger a cellular response, that is not at all compatible with our understanding of chemistry.. All based on the premise that the no longer present ingredient, (which was chosen because it produces a reaction vaguely similar to the symptoms of the original ailment), will stimulate an immune system response. WTF? The “like cures like principal”, debunked by medical science, or the “law of similars”, not actually a scientific law.

      Recent clinical trials have shown that homeopathic remedies do not perform beyond that of a placebo. Meta studies have also revealed that homeopathy is ineffective. We can ignore studies conducted by homeopaths which are poorly conducted and biased. The scientists and doctors ridiculing homeopathy do actually understand what they are talking about.

      Dr Martin Chaplin wrote a paper on water that homeopaths jumped all over but he has stated publicly that he does not believe in homeopathy and that it is pseudoscience. Dr Gerald Pollack also has written papers and a book on water also which may or may not hold up in peer review, but he has shown no support for homeopathy.

      1. Why try to demonstrate that homeopathy is scientific? It hasn’t to be. It can be effective on a different basis. Science looks for effectivity independent of the subject under treatment. Not all disciplines need to apply to the same criteria. Real alternative medicine is one which takes into account a specific person under treatment, in a holistic manner, and a cure specific for him, not for his symptoms.

        May Mr Magee and science live in peace within a diversity of knowledge disciplines. Don’t fall to a new inquisition or scientific dictatorship and obscurantism.

      2. This is the nonsense peddled by naturopaths and homeopaths. If an alternative remedy or medicine works my friend, then it’s efficacy can be demonstrated through the scientific method. In a randomized double blind clinical trail it should perform better than placebo, (sugar pill). Most alternative therapies don’t work. In fact the term “alternative medicine” shouldn’t even exist, medicines either work or they don’t.

        Real verified medications can also be tailored to an individual or to an individual’s genetic lineage. Good qualified doctors should also combine an holistic approach. If yours doesn’t, find a new one.

        Tell me does your naturopath ever hook you up to an electrocardiogram or give you a blood test? Or do they just spin a necklace chain to check for negative energy like the one’s I’ve met?

        May you live in peace and wake up from perpetual stupidity.

  72. Hi Tim, I am a huge fan, but I don’t get it ?

    If it is working regardless why not keep going til a problem crops up?

    I think some things are beyond the Wikipedia explanation as well as doctors controlled trials

    I have had mixed results with homeopathy but certainly have found it way more powerful than nutritional supplements which I still am happy to use.

    I think partly because homeopathy makes no sense in a mechanical way it is trendy to bag it.

    But given that you are prepared to be an individual why not continue to test it on your self ?

    I would be interested in your results 🙂

  73. Can the placebo affect reverse a Crohn’s flare? We opted to treat my daughters Crohn’s flare homeopathically after some terrible side effects from steroids. After several months her repeat colonoscopy showed no Crohn’s. She gained her 15 pounds back (she is tiny to start, so 15 # was a significant loss). The doctors conclusion: she must have not had Crohn’s. Closed minded doctors who are propagandized by drug companies are a sad state of western medicine. I have evidence of her Crohn’s by his own testing and by outside testing.

  74. I agree with your placebo assessment. I am a yoga teacher and am constantly surrounded with therapies that sometimes work despite there being no credible way of explaining it.

    By the way, you rock!

  75. Hi Tim, I came across something that could fit in your Option #4, i.e. “some as yet unexplained mechanism”.

    Here is a talk by one of the most respected materials scientists, with significant scientific credentials talking about how water is not merely the hydrogen-oxygen molecule, but could exist in many different structures, and how this provides a mechanism for homoeopathy to work.

    1. Yes there are two prominent scientists who are claiming that water may have properties beyond the current orthodoxy. Problem is the papers written don’t have much support among other scientists, and secondly neither scientist supports homeopathy, with one publicly claiming homeopathy is BS.

  76. I am a Homeopathic die hard. I have results from children, cats, and dogs. None of the above could read or know the intended outcome, all miraculous recoveries! PS Arnica is a fav of mine for falls, football injury, bump on head, etc. With homeopath i have saved poisoned kitten, near dead kitten, cat with Jaundice, dogs allergy skin,

    my own poison oak rash (head to toe)

  77. Tim – I recommend reading the part on homeopathy in the book Vibrational Medicine by Gerber. It details the science behind the product in a very comprehensive way.

  78. I’d recommend talking to Dr. Steven Novella about this topic (Professor at Yale Medical School). He’s been an activist in trying to expose homeopathy as pseudoscience for years.

  79. Tim, great to see that you have been experimenting with homeopathy. I hope you will keep on doing that, even if it should not be working according to our current understanding of the laws of nature.

    It set me on a lifelong search for finding out what is going on. Totally fascinated with the power of homeopathy, but very curious how it could work.

    So you guessed it: I think it is option #4 …

    1. Yes and when Tim is done experimenting with Homeopathy he should then try “rain dancing”, and “voodoo”. None of these are compatible with science either but who cares.

      1. Who knows, might be interesting experiments. But rain dancing and voodoo might not be things that he had personal experience with already, like he had with homeopathy.

        And because he already used Arnica and was confused to find out that it should not work, I guess that would be an interesting subject to pursue, to find out what is going on. Experimenting with things science has already figured out would not be that interesting.

  80. If it works for you of course use it. Just don’t fool yourself into using something that doesn’t work. I wish I knew if PAGG works but Amazon is out Indefinitely.Any other place to get it?

  81. Quick correction, well, sort of.

    Each additional C that a homeopathic remedy goes up by is actually a further 10x dilution. So 14C is 10x more dilute than 13C and so on. This means the difference between 13C and 30C is actually 18 lots of 10x dilutions, or 10^18. Which is a more condensed way of saying 30C is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000x more dilute than 13C. Technically, it’s true to say 30C is “more than twice as dilute”, it’s quite a lot more than half, though 😉

    In fact, you would need more atoms than there are in the universe for a 30C dilution to contain a single molecule of your active ingredient.

  82. Don’t worry, Tim. There’s a good Aussie study that shows the placebo effect still works even after the patient is informed it’s a placebo.

  83. Gee whiz, Tim. For someone as committed to personal experimentation as you, why would you drop homeopathics when you “appeared to heal faster using oral 30C arnica” just because the theory didn’t fit the facts? (Isn’t the logic supposed to flow in the other direction?)

  84. Sorry that I didn’t see Tim’s blog on this subject until now. Tim, I admire you, but on THIS story, you are both mis-informed and uninformed. Let me provide some solid informatin that may be compelling to you (and others)…

    One important experience from homeopathic medicines is its use of “nanodoses” of various plants, mineral, or animal substances as medicines. Skeptics of homeopathy commonly assert that there is “nothing” in homeopathic medicines except water, and yet, such skeptics only “theorize” that such assertions are true and have never proven this in controlled scientific studies. In comparison, research published in the American Chemistry Society’s leading scientific journal, called “Langmuir,” has confirmed in controlled studies that “nanodoses” of homeopathic medicines remain in solution even after they are diluted 1:100 six times, 30 times, or even 200 times (Chikramane, Kalita, Suresh, et al, 2012).

    Skeptics of homeopathy then assert that these nanodoses cannot possibly have any physiological effect on the human body, and yet, such skeptics embarrassingly enough prove their own ignorance of normal human physiology because many of our body’s hormones and cell-signal systems are known to operate at similar nanodoses found in homeopathic medicines (Eskinazi, 1999). Are skeptics of homeopathy actually asserting that our hormones act as placebo? I sincerely hope not!\

    Ultimately, high quality research showing the efficacy of homeopathic medicines have been published in many of the most respected medical journals in the world, including The Lancet, BMJ (British Medical Journal), Chest (the publication of the American College of Chest Physicians), Rheumatology (the publication of the British Society for Rheumatology), Pediatrics (publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics), Cancer (journal of the American Cancer Society), Journal of Clinical Oncology, Pediatrics Infectious Disease Journal (publication of the European Society of Pediatric Infectious Diseases), European Journal of Pediatrics (publication of the Swiss Society of Pediatrics and the Belgium Society of Pediatrics), and numerous others (Ullman, 2014).

    Why do you think that 95% of French pediatricians, dermatologists, and general family practitioners use homeopathic medicines? Are you so arrogant to condemn them all for using placebos? (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25921648)

    And if so, how can you explain that homeopathy gained its popularity in the USA and Europe due to its amazing successes in treating infectious diseases of that day and age, including cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, scarlet fever, and many others? This is historical FACT, not any theory.

    REFERENCES:

    Chikramane PS, Kalita D, Suresh AK, Kane SG, Bellare JR. Why Extreme Dilutions Reach Non zero Asymptotes: A Nanoparticulate Hypothesis Based on Froth Flotation. Langmuir. 2012 Nov http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23083226

    Eskinazi, D., Homeopathy Re-revisited: Is Homeopathy Compatible with Biomedical Observations? Archives in Internal Medicine, 159, Sept 27, 1999:1981-7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10510983

    Ullman, Dana. Dysfunction at Wikipedia on Homeopathic Medicine. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-ullman/dysfunction-at-wikipedia-_b_5924226.html (Rather than list the reference for each of the studies listed in this paragraph, this article provides such references.)

    1. The one and only Dana Ullman described as the world’s greatest spokesperson for homeopathy, who has cut and pasted one of his own articles.

      For those of you that have the time to read a spirited blog and a slugfest tennis match; http://edzardernst.com/2015/11/dana-ullman-the-spokesperson-for-homeopathy/ .

      Some easier reading on an Australian meta study; http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/1800-studies-later-scientists-conclude-homeopathy-doesnt-work-180954534/?no-ist .