Welcome to the latest edition of I Call Bullshit. For those of you who only ever read the first line, here’s the take-home message from this ICB column: Homeopathy cannot prevent or ‘treat’ domestic violence.

There. Now hopefully most of you are thinking something along the lines of: “What kind of deluded moonbat would think that it could? Crikey, this Shepherd bird really is shooting fish in a barrel.”

But here’s the thing: Millions of people believe homeopathy can do all sorts of things despite a complete lack of evidence and the fact the entire practice is predicated on a magical foundation of mumbo jumbo.

Private health insurers waste money on it; chemists’ shelves groan with the stuff; people have died from relying on it. Otherwise sensible people have been convinced by the industry that diluting substances so much that the original substance is no longer even present can prevent whooping cough or treat autism because ‘like cures like’ and water ‘remembers’.

In Mitchell and Webb’s classic skit Homeopathic A & E the two comics play doctors bemoaning the death of a patient:

Webb: Sometimes I think a trace solution of deadly nightshade or a statistically negligible quantity of arsenic just isn’t enough.

Mitchell: That’s crazy talk, Simon. OK, so you kill the odd patient with cancer or heart disease… or bronchitis, flu, chicken pox or measles… but when someone comes in with a vague sense of unease or a touch of the nerves or even just more money than sense, you’ll be there for them. Bottle of basically just water in one hand and a huge invoice in the other.

They’ve nailed it. But, disturbingly, when you try to find that clip you have to wade through link after link of advice on how to use homeopathy in an emergency situation.

What (potentially fatal) stupidity. Here’s a tip: You could probably drink a water-based homeopathic ‘remedy’ for dehydration, or use an alcohol-based one to disinfect something.

But you can’t, as Sydney-based Homeopathy Plus suggests, use bits of a bee to treat anaphylaxis, or highly diluted carbonised bits of vegies to treat “near-death states with gasping and flatulence”, or decomposed beef for infections.
And it is absolutely abhorrent to suggest – as Homeopathy Plus does – that homeopathy could help control behaviour such as domestic violence.

According to their website, people are “shocked” to realise that homeopathy can treat “excesses of human behaviour”. “Homeopathy places us back in control of emotions and responses that, as part of a state of ill-health, once controlled us, and lets us choose how we act and behave,” it says.

The website then links to an article that claims “homeopathy is a safe and effective way to treat the victims as well as the culprits of domestic violence”. This steaming pile of undiluted rubbish claims homeopathy can not only treat psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia but that various herbal concoctions will treat people’s anguish. Presumably that’s for the victims.

There are also suggestions for treating violent anger and abusive behavior by abusers.

There’s a token nod to getting outside help, but the main thrust of this appalling article is that feeding an abuser an absurdly weak potion will somehow dissipate their violent tendencies.

Clearly, all these abusive bastards need is a drop or two of some sort of plant, diluted and shaken about. And the victim should just have a cup of water and a good lie down. I Call Bullshit. Dangerous bullshit.

The National Health and Medical Research Council has formed a Homeopathy Working Committee to develop a position statement on homeopathy. A draft statement found it was unethical to use homeopathy because it doesn’t work, and that it could be risky if using it caused someone to delay real, effective treatment.

While we’re waiting for this position statement from the country’s leading expert body, people are gleefully profiting from fraudulent, dangerous bunkum. The response from authorities, so far, is as weak as a homeopathic remedy.

Twitter: @ToryShepherd
Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEST.

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    • Tom says:

      05:50am | 09/10/12

      “Millions of people believe homeopathy can do all sorts of things despite a complete lack of evidence and the fact the entire practice is predicated on a magical foundation of mumbo jumbo.” A lot like a religion then.

    • Alfie says:

      07:57am | 09/10/12

      Kind of like voting for the Greens too.

    • Colonel of Truth says:

      06:27am | 09/10/12

      Homeopathy is homeopathetic crap.  Undiluted crap, at that.

    • Rebecca says:

      09:22am | 09/10/12

      I thought homeopathy was crap too until it treated my severe abdominal pains that doctors couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do anything about.

    • rach says:

      09:53am | 09/10/12

      Rebecca, it’s called the placebo effect.

    • subotic says:

      10:00am | 09/10/12

      I thought MKULTRA was crap too until it treated my severe headaches & recurring delusional thoughts about the CIA that doctors couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do anything about.

    • david says:

      11:59am | 09/10/12

      So Rach, should Rebecca abandon the treatment that is working for her and return to her medical doctor?

    • marley says:

      12:22pm | 09/10/12

      @david - since it’s the placebo effect that’s working and not the homeopathy, maybe she should look for a cheaper placebo.

    • TChong says:

      06:35am | 09/10/12

      Most of us know that homeopathy is worthless, so no argument.
      Its the final sentence which is a concern.
      Which “authorities”?
      What would they ( the “authorities” ) do ?
      As very recent events have shown, it is virtually impossible to censure what gets said by who, over the ‘net. ( or anywhere else)
      Maybe the health insurance industry shouldnt fund quacks, but the insurers would claim they are only meeting public demand.
      Given that the average Australian is reasonably well educated, and capable of deciding for themselves , the only way to negate alternative therapies would be for a complete ban- totally unrealistic, heavy handed and for what purpose ?
      Appeals to “authority” to do “something"requires knowing what it is you want the “authorities"to do.

    • marley says:

      08:04am | 09/10/12

      I don’t know whether its the case here, but in the US there are huge arguments about the funding that universities get to teach “alternative medicine.”  Should public funds go to teaching this sort of crap?  I don’t think so.  That doesn’t mean that if the world’s homeopaths want to get together and found their own university and finance it, they shouldn’t be allowed to, but I don’t think the “authorities” should be providing public funds to help them do it.

    • barley says:

      09:10am | 09/10/12

      Doesn’t matter if homeopathy works or doesn’t work.
      People should be allowed to make outrageous claims about it’s effectiveness and back it up with referrals from non existent beneficiaries of it’s healing powers.
      After all, that’s what freedom of speech is all about.
      Isn’t it marley?

    • Tory Shepherd

      Tory Shepherd says:

      11:15am | 09/10/12

      First step is for the NHMRC to get that position statement out there, that would then be a touchstone to rally for removal of any public funding plus pressure on private health to remove it.

      No one’s talking bans, I don’t think. A ban on bullshit claims, though…

    • marley says:

      12:29pm | 09/10/12

      @barley/bailey/boofy - as a matter of fact, if someone wants to spruik the virtues of homeopathy, he should be free to do so.  And then the people who actually know something about medicine get the opportunity to debunk his theories in public.  It’s not hard:  there are plenty of clinical trials out there proving the utter uselessness of homeopathy. 

      It’s a pity you can’t seem to grasp that freedom of speech is an opportunity for both sides of an argument to present their cases.  And that you don’t have to suppress an idea in order to defeat it.

      And in the meantime, since things like laws on truth in advertising are legitimate constraints on free speech, the government gets to demand that the homeopaths and naturopaths and natural product vendors don’t make claims for their products that they can’t back up.

    • barley says:

      06:06pm | 09/10/12

      “you don’t have to suppress an idea in order to defeat it.”

      What a tool, we are talking about lies marley…. outright lies, not ideas.
      comprehension loss resulting from frost bitten brain?

      I understand you are the resident apologist for ltd news and the conservative wackos. carry on!

    • marley says:

      06:40pm | 09/10/12

      @barley/baliley/boofy - not sure what you’re an apologist for, but it isn’t free speech, privacy or democracy for that matter. But carry on regardless. 

      Oh, by the way, your views on what constitutes free speech are far more right wing and conservative than mine.

    • NESLIHAN KUROSAWA says:

      06:45am | 09/10/12

      Hi Tory,

      Well homeopathy happens to be just like anything else in life.  If there is lots of money to be made by some people than most people will be in it, for the most obvious reasons.  It is all about profits before anything else really.  But then again I have met some very healthy people leading very healthy life styles actually swearing by the healing powers of homeopathy.  So who are we supposed to believe at the end of the day?  I am not certain about how I feel about domestic violence being treated by homeopathy. However I am certain about the fact that there are some patients suffering from very serious illnesses and looking for any kind of hope in order to get better.  And homeopathy happens to be one of those areas which will attract many hopeful people just wishing to get better.  Getting people when they happen to be at their most vulnerable state, just seems a bit cruel to say the least.

      We also have to make it clear that these quacks who are pushing this very idea of homeopathy are checked regularly for their ways of practice and the quality of lotions and potions they tend to use.  There has to be some kind of quality control before it is too late, just like those so called wonder vitamins sold over the counter which were just full of glucose and orange flavoring not too long ago.  Is it all about “mind over matter” or some quacks being in it for some of the easiest money ever made?  If it is all mambo jumbo just like you suggested, then why are the health care funds are seeing it as a legit way of practice?  Is it only a way of attracting more people with a lot of money to burn, in to private cover so that they can enjoy the almost non existent benefits or healing powers of homeopathy?  Kind regards to your editors.

    • barry from adelaide says:

      07:43am | 09/10/12

      Neslihan, you say you are not sure “who we are supposed to believe”.

      How about believing the 2010 review of the best available evidence, which found that homeothapy was no better than placebo?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeopathy#Efficacy

    • Vicki PS says:

      08:32am | 09/10/12

      I’m confused.  Why would “very healthy people leading very healthy life styles” be any kind of testament to the healing powers of homeopathy?  Now, if you could tell me that there are many 90+ year old obese, alcoholic chain smokers who swear by homeopathy I might be impressed.

    • Yak says:

      08:51am | 09/10/12

      But…..., “they” call it the Placebo Effect because utilising a placebo has been proven to work, hasn’t it? Maybe it should be called the Homeopathy Effect.

    • Tubesteak says:

      06:58am | 09/10/12

      Homeopathy belongs in the same basket with clairvoyants and imaginary friends. It’s all rubbish believed by the gullible and desperate.

    • Mystic nihonin says:

      07:33am | 09/10/12

      I read your comment in the Tea Leaves before it posted Tubesteak.

    • Tubesteak says:

      09:30am | 09/10/12

      That’s only because the stars aligned and the brown moon is in Uranus this month.

    • subotic wants to believe says:

      09:57am | 09/10/12

      Then explain MKULTRA to me.

      Wait… what?

    • Pharmacist says:

      07:14am | 09/10/12

      As a pharmacist I tell people this stuff is crap, useless and a waste of money. They then thank me for my advice but buy it anyway. God forbid a product is aired on today tonight or a current affair; then “the mike Monroe effect” kicks it and sales explode even if we tell them the product is snake oil. Working in retail teaches you how susceptible people are to advertising and hope. Aka a fool and their money are often parted

    • Joan says:

      07:35am | 09/10/12

      So why do you keep and sell the product if you don’t believe in its efficacy.? Mostly sold to gullible women?

    • Collum says:

      09:13am | 09/10/12

      Q10 enzyme anyone?

    • Anubis says:

      09:46am | 09/10/12

      @ Joan - Because there is profit to be made

    • Rose says:

      10:02am | 09/10/12

      I could be wrong, but isn’t Q10 Enzyme backed up by clinical studies?

      However, pharmacist is right, having worked in retail pharmacy you see so many people coming in who saw this, that or the other on TV and it’s going to fix them. They swear by it for a few weeks and then when the next you-beaut new thing comes along they jump ship
      Joan, the reason pharmacies keep selling it is that people demand to be able to buy it, and no smart business is going to refuse to stock what the people want. Although, on many occasions I have seen the pharmacist leg it to vitamin section to stop people buying vitamins which will react poorly with either their medical condition or the drugs that they are already taking. And no, I’m not sure that women are any more gullible than men in this sense, some men will take just about anything if they think it will help them avoid going to the doctors.
      The fact is that getting old is often a bitch and people find that they struggle to do things that used to be easy, that they experience pain and that their bits don’t work as they should any more and these people are often desperate to find some thing that will fix them. There are supplements that can be useful, but only when used according to what is known after extensive clinical testing. There are even supplements that are tested and found to be effective for one condition, but are then marketed for ‘general well-being’ or other supposed benefit which in no way relates to what it was clinically tested for.
      My advice is always the same, find a pharmacist/pharmacy that you trust and talk to staff and the pharmacist. They get to know you, your health and what drugs you are taking and they can help you wade through the bullshit and find what you need, and a good pharmacy will even tell you when you need nothing.

    • PsychoHyena says:

      10:22am | 09/10/12

      @Rose, you’re right Q10 Enzyme has a lot of science backing up what it does. The Q10 Enzyme is partially responsible for electron passage through a biological body, it also improves heart health and can relieve/prevent migraines. The science is definitely out there on some of these.

      Thankfully Rose I know a pharmacist who won’t stock anything that he sees no benefit to his customers in… A lot of the arthritis sprays were a load of uselessness.

    • Collum says:

      12:30pm | 09/10/12

      From the European Food Safety Authority
      On the basis of the data presented, the Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone) and contribution to normal energy-yielding metabolism.
      On the basis of the data presented, the Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone) and the maintenance of normal blood pressure.
      On the basis of the data presented, the Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of coenzyme Q10(ubiquinone) and the protection of DNA, proteins or lipids from oxidative damage.
      On the basis of the data presented, the Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of coenzyme Q10 ubiquinone) and contribution to normal cognitive function.
      On the basis of the data presented, the Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone) and the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol concentrations.
      On the basis of the data presented, the Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone) and an increase in endurance capacity and/or endurance performance.

      But you keep taking this placebo and feel better about yourself.
      At least the sales reps and the pharmacists are making money.

    • Peter Bromley says:

      02:07pm | 09/10/12

      @ Pharmacist - I’d like to know where your pharmacy is!  All of my local pharmacies have homeopathic rubbish on the shelves with real medicine.  When I complain they usually hide behind the ‘customer choice’ argument (not the point - put it somewhere clearly labeled ‘alternative’).  A few sheepishly admit it’s crap but they’re stuck with it because the owners don’t care.

    • Rose says:

      02:51pm | 09/10/12

      I’d say PsychoHyena’s pharmacy is either a small local neighbourhood pharmacy (in a nice, quiet neighbourhood), in a country town, or it services nursing homes (meaning that most of the turnover is guaranteed through a high volume of scripts). Either that or his Pharmacist is incredibly principled because I’d say at least half of the products in any pharmacy are next to useless, and to not stock products with no real value would slash turnover greatly.
      The pharmacy I worked in was in a shopping mall with another pharmacy in the same mall, with a shopping strip that had another couple of pharmacies a couple of minutes away. We stocked what people wanted or watched them shop elsewhere!

    • PeterW says:

      06:00pm | 09/10/12

      Collum, you are confusing homepathy with other things. Q10. whatever it is or isn’t worth, isn’t a mixture diluted to more and 6 x 10^23.
      Not disagreeing with you, but be precise! Please.

    • Joan says:

      07:31am | 09/10/12

      Whats the bet the clients for homeopathy are mostly women, who buy it then dole it out to children, husbands and themselves. Homeopathy acts by placebo effect same as a sugar pill.and about 30% people may feel relief of minor pain. as an example. Homeopathy has no place in treament of serious medical conditions. Women into homeopathy are usually into other alternate therapies, weird views on diet and spurn evidence based treatment cos its not `natural`.

    • marley says:

      08:06am | 09/10/12

      So are men.

    • ByStealth says:

      10:00am | 09/10/12

      Strength bands anyone?

    • medium ted says:

      11:38am | 09/10/12

      joan there is a homeotherapy office i visit from time to time thru work and you know you are right i dont think i have ever seen a man in there working or buying . lots of ‘‘magic happens stickers’’ on the cars out front tho lol

    • MJ says:

      03:51pm | 09/10/12

      You are right Joan.  Some people are just too stupid when it comes to health.  I work with a women who swears balck and blue that her health problems for the past few years were direclty caused by the 3 years of Daylight saving WA had a few years back

    • Reg Whiteman says:

      07:39am | 09/10/12

      I think you are being a bit harsh on homeopathy just because it occasionally fails to produce a cure.

      Tragically, my first three wives all died from eating poisonous mushrooms. When they became ill, I treated them with my own homeopathic remedy i.e. boiled water in which I had dipped a sprig of rosemary. Had I got that remedy to them just a few minutes earlier, they’d still be with us today - well that was my story. And the judges believed me! So homeopathy does occasionally produce the required result.  It’s a pity my fourth wife won’t eat mushrooms.

      Really, the fact that anyone can believe such utter tosh would beggar belief - were it not for the fact that everywhere you look there are churches, temples, mosques and synagogues where people hand over good money in the belief that there really is an old man in the sky who loves you but wants to punish you for all eternity for working on Sunday or eating a pork chop.

      There are otherwise intelligent looking people who truly believe that their proximity to a piece of cloth once worn by Mother Mary McKillop, and their chanting of repetitive mantras, will cure everything from gout to cancer.

      I think it was P.T. Barnum who once said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” No truer words were ever spoken - as the homeopaths can readily attest.

    • Daphne says:

      08:09am | 09/10/12

      A great article and long overdue.  Would love to see you highlight some of the recent publications which deal with the extent of the con being perpetrated on the public in regard to the claims of CAM practitioners.  Rose Shapiro’s book” Suckers: How Alternative Medicine Makes Fools of Us All “, Singh and Ernst’s “Trick or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial” and Goldacre’s “Bad Science” should be read by anyone contemplating going to a homeopath, chiropractor, kinesiologist, etc.  Can’t believe that government is still funding these practices masquerading as medical treatments.

    • Johnny says:

      06:02pm | 09/10/12

      Daphne, what has chiropractic go to do with this? I think you are confused. Chiropractic has had an evidence base for a while now. If you read the peer reviewed literature it reveals Chiropractic is just as effective as anti-inflammatories for treating lower back pain, but with fewer side effects.

    • Alfie says:

      08:11am | 09/10/12

      Tory is just Homeophobic.

    • Robin says:

      10:05am | 09/10/12

      I thought you wrote

      Tony is just homophobic.

    • Michael says:

      11:44am | 09/10/12

      Robin, that’s your bias at work, you see what you believe not what was typed smile you provide a great example.

      Clever Alfie smile

    • Alfie says:

      12:03pm | 09/10/12

      @Robin
      Reading with your one eye…again.

    • sunny says:

      12:52pm | 09/10/12

      Yeah good one. Does homeopathy promote homoempathy? Maybe the gay folk could have used it to get their marriage bill through.

    • Elphaba says:

      08:11am | 09/10/12

      There’s no cure for ar$ehole, whether conventional or homeopathic.  The person who does invent that wouldn’t even be able to profit from it before the civil libertarians cracked it over said inventor ‘controlling’ other people’s behaviour…

    • Anubis says:

      09:49am | 09/10/12

      Ooooooh - Did you get out of the wrong side of the bed today Elph?

    • Elphaba says:

      10:56am | 09/10/12

      No, I’m all good.  Just stating a fact smile

    • TubaTime says:

      12:53pm | 09/10/12

      I feel sorry for you having to live with that condition for lack of a cure.

    • Steve Brady says:

      08:11am | 09/10/12

      What’s the best Xmas present to give to a homeopathist? An empty chocolate box, because it still has the “memory” of the chocolate that was once in it.

    • Xar says:

      08:15am | 09/10/12

      It clings on as an idea for the same reason “faith based healing” and belief in the “power of prayer” remain common concepts…not everyone can be swayed by logic and not everyone thinks evidence is as important as faith. I can’t see it changing any time soon, it is one end of the spectrum and at the other we have people like Singer who think killing a baby born with a disability poses no ethical quandary 0_o

    • Darren says:

      08:22am | 09/10/12

      I drank 3 gallons of water this morning - according to homeopthy I must have cured all my ills!

    • Al says:

      08:54am | 09/10/12

      Darren, my question is if water has memory (as homeopaths claim) that gives it properties and water is continuously recycled naturaly it follows that all water must contain a dilution of everything that does (or has at one time) exist. So why the need to ‘prepare’ the potions, after all according to them the more dilute the stronger it is so water must be a miraculous cure all by now right?

    • Darren says:

      09:58am | 09/10/12

      not sure about water - but I wonder what homeopathy has to say about Moraiji Deasi - his daily drink of his own urine must have worked a treat - or was he merely taking ths piss!

    • iansand says:

      10:05am | 09/10/12

      Don’t be silly, Darren.  That water was free*.  How can you expect it to work?

      *Note to the Usual Suspects:  I know.  I know.  Water rates, usage charges etc etc….

    • Shane* says:

      08:23am | 09/10/12

      Come on Tory, don’t be shy. All us sane people agree about the hokum of homeopathy. We want you to write your ICB article on the biggest, baddest version of hokum. The one most people don’t even realise is hokum. The one with the best legal team ready to shout you down for calling it hokum. The one which boasts the Victorian Minister for Health(!) as a practitioner and advocate.

      Chiropractic.

    • Al says:

      08:43am | 09/10/12

      Shane* - she already has done.

    • Shane* says:

      12:44pm | 09/10/12

      @Al

      Only related to chiropractic for children and babies.

      Tory hasn’t touched on the fact that chiropractics are notoriously anti-vaccination, anti-Western medicine and make grand promises of cure when the only evidence of chiro’s effectiveness is a moderate (and contested) benefit for mild lower back pain.

      Or the fact that it gets taught at Universities.

      Or the fact they’re allowed to call themselves Doctors.

      Or the fact, again, that the freaking health Minister in my state is a loony chiro!

    • Johnny says:

      06:11pm | 09/10/12

      Shane, I think you are confused. If you refer to the peer reviewed literature chiropractic treatment has a strong evidence base in the management of lower back pain, with less side effects than comparable methods of treatment. Also, I don’t think there is a big legal team waiting to defend the benefits of chiropractic, maybe you are confusing the various small chiropractic associations around Australia with the big pharmaceutical companies or the military, who fund most of the scientific research taking place in public institutions.
      Also, I think you’ll find the level of study required to complete any contemporary chiropractic course on offer in Australia is very similar to any other doctorate. Chiropractors are called doctors because they have earned the right to do so through hard work and study. They are experts in neuromuscular physiology - which obviously you are not.

    • PsychoHyena says:

      08:35am | 09/10/12

      The hilarious thing is…. small pox was eradicated because someone used homeopathy to treat it. There’s even a statue of the guy slicing his son’s arm open to pack in the cow pus.

    • Colin says:

      09:45am | 09/10/12

      Oh, yes, and there in lies one of the reasons that “Homeopathy” gained increasing acceptance; because idiots who don’t understand the immune system, inoculation, and the mechanisms of disease conflate such things with the ability for “Tinctures” to cure anything…even things that could not possibly be cured by inoculation…Morons.

    • PsychoHyena says:

      10:12am | 09/10/12

      Just to clarify, I’m not talking about homeopathy where it is just some essence of something in something else, but rather those treatments that relied simply on natural sources rather than man-made and were effective.

    • Al says:

      10:42am | 09/10/12

      PsychoHyena - sorry but how is that a clarrification?
      You made a statement about homeopathy and then state that it is not about homeopathy.
      “those treatments that relied simply on natural sources rather than man-made and were effective” - that does NOT make it homeopathy!

    • marley says:

      12:36pm | 09/10/12

      @Psychohyena - what you’re describing isn’t homeopathy.  Homeopathy is a specific theory of disease and its treatment, developed sometime in the 19th century.

      Homeopathy is the concept of taking a concoction which produces symptoms similar to a disease, watering it down so much that at most a single molecule of whatever the starting potion was survives, and drinking the water, on the theory that the water contains a memory of the original molecule.  It is an explicit rejection of the germ theory as a cause of disease and therefore of things like the smallpox vaccination.

    • Schmavo says:

      08:46am | 09/10/12

      A doctor once told me that if 20% of patients he saw for weight loss actually achieved weight loss it was considered a success. So homeopaths could use the doctors’ benchmark and claim success at 20%.

      I also thought there were very clear stipulations about advertising. Claiming to “cure” something doesn’t even make it to the big pharmaceutical companies mumbo jumbo most of the time.

    • Al says:

      09:41am | 09/10/12

      Only 1 problem with your claim re: 20% rate.
      I think you will find that the relatively low sucess rate is not due to the effectiveness of medical treatment but due to the willingness of the individual to make real changes in diet/excercise/lifestyle. So the individual succeds or fails in regard to following the recommended treatment program. Not necassarily the treatment itself.
      If it was something like ‘only 20% of people who receive lap band treatment loose weight’ it may be a more accurate comparison.
      And yes their are clear stipulations regarding advertsing, this is why the claims of homeopathics are carefully worded as either quoted testamonials (the advertiser doesn’t need to prove a testamonial) or are in carefull language using the “May assist..” or “Could aid…” or “Has possible benefits regarding…...”

    • Pauline Ferguson says:

      09:28am | 09/10/12

      I find it frustrating… I have a scientifically based allied health service (where I help people remove toxins and pollutants from their homes and workplaces so that they’re not ingesting or inhaling poisonous substances and their health should be better) however the health insurance companies won’t even give me the time of day.

      I’d love to help more people - scientifically - with them able to claim this health related fee on their insurance, but nope, can’t have that!  grin

    • Gordon says:

      10:21am | 09/10/12

      Point of logic M’lady: It’s all voodoo, scam & BS, no argument, but if homeopathy acts, if anything, pyschologically, it is perhaps more likely to work on something behavioural (e.g. anger) than it possibly can on a physical illness. If it’s practioners can convince people drinking distilled water is making them well maybe it can convince they don’t need to beat on their families?

    • John says:

      10:51am | 09/10/12

      While I happen to share Tory’s opinion of homeopathy, there is one big reason I am unable to reject it completely.  The placebo effect.  A placebo is a ‘medicine’ that is KNOWN to be ineffective and irrelevant to the case at hand.  Never-the-less it has pulled off some remarkable cures.

    • marley says:

      12:30pm | 09/10/12

      That’s because the medicine may be useless but the human mind is very powerful.

    • Christopher says:

      11:18am | 09/10/12

      We have an elderly labrador dog for whom we have used homeopathic treatments over many years. A typical, elderly dog problem (enlarged prostate) was quickly healed - much to our local vet’s amazement. In Europe, homeopathy is routinely used to successfully treat dogs, cats - and people. Of course it works - and noone can convince me that our dog experienced a placebo effect. He was healed because he was correctly treated by a qualified vet, using high-quality homeopathic remedies. What is so amazing about that? It’s commonplace.  What does amaze me is the intolerance of people like Tory, and some of her correspondents, who think they know it all. My message:  you are not omniscient. By all means stick to western medical drugs etc, but please don’t impose your prejudices on those seeking a more wholistic approach.

    • Al says:

      12:24pm | 09/10/12

      ‘please don’t impose your prejudices on those seeking a more wholistic approach’ -
      Here is a direct quote from a lecturer teaching homeopathics:
      “There is no evidence or study that shows homeopathics to have any effect more than a placebo. Anyone can make these in their own backyard and as there is no standard or active ingredients can market them as they are not classified as pharmaceuticals (normaly classified as food or beverage).”
      Get that, no better than placebo and doesn’t need to meet pharmaceutical production laws re: quality, straight form a lecturer who teaches this crap (if you call it teaching).

    • Sean says:

      01:11pm | 09/10/12

      God, who doesn’t love an alternative medicine/therapy or whatever the loony brigade want to call them.

      More power to the Homeopathy industry I say, they are simply taking advantage of a market that would be otherwise exploited by someone else (the fairy dust people must be spewing).

      Whilst there are people like Chris, people like Peter Foster will always have a source of income.

    • Colin says:

      11:26am | 09/10/12

      @ Christopher 11:18am | 09/10/12

      Anecdotal evidence does not equal fact. Empirical, provable, documented, peer-reviewed proof please…or re-don your tinfoil hat and leave.

    • Al says:

      12:50pm | 09/10/12

      My question for those who think homeopathics work is this:
      Why do you ever buy more than 1 lot of the potion.
      After all (according to homeopathics anyway) if you are near the end you can simply add more water (dilute it more) and it will create a more effective potion?

    • Christopher says:

      12:55pm | 09/10/12

      People use homeopathy for both themsleves and their pets because, through personal experience, they discover that it works, without side-effects. Period.

      Its nobody else’s business, frankly.

      As I said, if various correspondents want to use western medical drugs, with the attendant (well-documented) side-effects and risks, fine - no problem - but I say again, don’t   impose your view of the world on others. It’s your sort of one-eyed world-view that, on a big scale, leads to international conflict.

      Live and let live.

      ps try telling my labrador that the amazing improvment in his health is just placebo effect…...a trick of his brain. Give me a break!

    • Al says:

      01:19pm | 09/10/12

      Where people make extrordinary claims there is a requirement to back it up with extraordinary evidence.
      Homeopathics fails this in every single instance.
      It fails to provide even basic evidence that it works.
      Requiring people to be able to back up their claims is not a ‘one-eyed world-view’, if you supply the evidence then it will be accepted and tested to verify it and then become part of the accepted treatments.
      I can make the claim that there are miniture pink unicorns in my garden, but nobody (ok, some highly gullible people may) will believe it unless I provide evidence to back it up.

    • lea says:

      01:40pm | 09/10/12

      Christopher, if you truly understood the scientific method, you would know that your dog getting better following the administration of water with the memory of some active compound proves nothing.

      Anecdotes are NOT and never will be evidence.

      For example. This week I experienced debilitating hay fever. I also started drinking milk in my tea again for the first time in years. My hay fever has cleared up. Does this mean that drinking milk in my tea cures hay fever? Of course not.

    • Christopher says:

      02:59pm | 09/10/12

      Lea - can you send me some of that milk?
      Many thanks! Christopher.

    • elenor says:

      05:06pm | 09/10/12

      Your dog may have been getting better anyway.  Look up “regression to the mean”.

      Your story, whilst nice, is not evidence of homeopathy being efficacious at curing illness.  Also, try examining how you feel when you realise you have paid good money for what is essentially water.

    • Christopher says:

      01:43pm | 09/10/12

      Al - those pink unicorns sound so adorable. I believe you, at any rate…..

      Homeopathy has been in use for a long time. There is plenty of basic, supporting evidence; documented evidence. Just google it.

      Signing off now. I’ll stick to safe, effective natural treatments like homeopathy - but I will willingly support the Right of other people to take medical drugs.

      That is their choice, and none of my business.

      I should add, however, that I think medicinal drugs, used over long periods,  can be dangerous - and there is plenty of evidence to support such a claim (I am a full-time carer, so I have had first-hand experience with the administration of western medications, over many years).

      All the best.  Christopher.

    • Al says:

      02:38pm | 09/10/12

      Christopher - sorry but I will stick to my scientificly and medicaly proven Insulin and Anti-Epileptics rather than risk my life relying on homeopathics to treat these, as there has not been 1 successful treatment of someone with Type 1 Diabetes or Epilepsy just using homeopathics.
      There are those that claim it has, and when researched were actualy undergoing conventional treatment at the same time.

    • Vicki PS says:

      05:32pm | 09/10/12

      Christopher, my Nana and many generations before her knew that sitting on damp concrete caused piles; that getting a draught on your back caused a chill on the kidneys; that keeping a potato in your pocket kept rheumatism away; and that Dr McKenzie’s Menthoids would cure anything else.  There was plenty of basic supporting evidence for those nostrums, too.  Oh, and do you sprinkle tiger urine around your property boundaries to keep crocodiles out?  Works 100% of the time for me.

    • Colin says:

      01:47pm | 09/10/12

      @Christopher 12:55pm | 09/10/12

      “Its nobody else’s business, frankly”

      Ah, but it is.

      If idiotic concepts like Homeopathy are allowed to proliferate unchecked through society, the harm that will come to General Health.will be vast. I mean to say, look at all of the harm that anti-vaxers and advocates of Chiropractics have caused…

    • Johnny says:

      06:21pm | 09/10/12

      Colin, I think you are living in the past. Not all chiropractors are anti-vaccination. Chiropractic treatment is actually more effective for lower back pain than alternative treatments, they are not loons or idiots either. I might add there is no evidence base to Tory’s recent attack on paediatric chiropractic treatment either. Chiropractic is a minimum 5 year university degree.
      Read the peer reviewed literature and you will learn more:
      - More people have died from vaccination than chiropractic treatment (research it, it’s true)
      - You are just as likely to have a stroke getting your hair cut or seeing your GP as you are having a chiropractic treatment (research it, it’s true)
      If you want to stick your nose in someone’s business why not have a go at fast food and obesity, or so called iatrogenic artefacts - they kill people everyday and no one seems to care two hoots.

    • TheRealDave says:

      02:05pm | 09/10/12

      Do you know what they call Alternative Medicines that have been proven to work via clinical trials, studies and the like??

      Medecine.

      Now excuse me while I research this exciting breakthrough with Colloidal Silver that can not only cure Cancer but AIDS as well….

    • Johnny says:

      06:26pm | 09/10/12

      Hey, TheRealDave, why do they spell it wrong?  Is that part of the joke?

      Skeptics are heaps funny.

    • Al says:

      02:58pm | 09/10/12

      “Of these 163 RCTs, 67 (41%) were positive, 11 (7%) negative and 85 (52%) non-conclusive.”
      The majority found no conclusive evidence. (non-conclusive means no convincing evidence).
      That is not realy a convincing case.
      The fact it was from a Homeopathy organisation also makes it suspect but I won’t hold that against you.

    • Christopher says:

      04:42pm | 09/10/12

      Al - whether or not the research is mentioned on a homeopathic website, or other sites, is irrelevant. The salient point is that it is (independently) peer- reviewed, and published in reputable journals.

      The research mentioned is, at the least, encouraging.

      Christopher.

      ps it is worth noting that a good deal of (so-called) research associated with modern drugs is sponsored, promoted and published by….....the drug companies.

    • Sam Wells says:

      02:28pm | 09/10/12

      An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2000, 284 July 26th), Barbara Starfield, MD, reports (conservative) estimates that in the USA 225,000 deaths occur every year from iatrogenic - doctor related - causes.  Note that these are largely hospital only deaths, and these figures exclude the afflictions that do not result in death.  Of those 225,000 deaths, 106,000 are ascribed to “non-error adverse effects of medications”. 

      On these numbers, doctor-related death is the third biggest killer in the USA, behind heart disease and cancer.

      Hmmm.  Makes the homeopathic ‘placebo’, which can miraculously dupe even canine cognition, look like a pretty safe bet.

    • ozgirl says:

      03:32pm | 09/10/12

      Go Christopher!!!  For those treated only by the pharmaceutical industry it amazes me how fearful you are of alternative medicine.  Your minds are so closed to other possibilities and you are so believing of the pharma industry.

      There is room for both and both deserve respect.  One day you might just go looking for that alternative medicine when the western way lets you down!

    • Al says:

      04:04pm | 09/10/12

      ozgirl:
      1) Respect needs to be earned. No exceptions.
      2) Any claims that can not be backed up with sufficent evidence should be treated with suspicion. ANY claims.
      3) If it can be proven to work then sure, bring it on, the problem is that the majority of alternative medicines haven’t been proven.
      4) Please tell me, what is the successfull homeopathic/alternative medicine treatment for type 1 diabetes.
      Thats right, there isn’t one.

    • Vicki PS says:

      05:56pm | 09/10/12

      It amuses me how fanatics always resort to the fear taunt.

      Actually, ozgirl, we’re not fearful of alternative medicine: I believe the argument relates to homeopathy, not to alternative medicine in general.  Rather than being fearful of homeopathy, we’re pissed off at snake oil peddlars making unfounded claims.

      Stick to your nostrums if you wish, but don’t expect health funds to subsidise your belief in water that remembers, crystal vibrations and waving magic Reiki hands.  Keep your arrogant gullibility away from dependent children, who have no choice in the matter.

      Perhaps you should reflect on the fact that people who prefer to use proven medical treatments aren’t necessarily closed-minded.  WE like to have some objective basis on which to make choices.  Many people happily use certain traditional herbal medicines, for instance, because they have been subjected to valid and reliable testing.  St John’s Wort is a classic example.

      What arrogance to think that magic water users are the Chosen People, the only ones capable of critical thinking.  Perhaps your should remove the log from your own eye.

    • Johnny says:

      06:42pm | 09/10/12

      Hey Al,

      1) You’re demanding respect without earning it right there
      2) Suspicion yes, but you’re skeptical, not suspicious
      3) Back it up with evidence please
      4) “Prevention” is alternative medicine’s treatment for Type 1 diabetes. Prevention is cheaper than treatment too.

      Until conventional medicine can come up with a cure for things like T1D I think you should hold off on pointing the bone, and get back to the empirical research.

    • Bruce says:

      03:36pm | 09/10/12

      Does homeopathy claim the water remembers all the poo and wee its come in contact with? Serious Q.

    • PeterW says:

      05:51pm | 09/10/12

      Tempting as it is:- don’t go down this track. Freedom includes the freedom to promote and be sucked in by bullshit.

      The reasons for this has been covered a thousand times in human history. One is that occasionally what is bleedingly obiovus is wrong (although hard to see how that may ever happen with homeopathy).

      The second is that, when proscription is in place; occassionally it is taken advantage of. There is evidence of this happening in places like the UK. Where a GP is obliged to treat according to “the norm”. Even if he/she thinks there are better options.

      Stick with freedom. Even if that means some will choose bullshit.

    • Fiona says:

      06:02pm | 09/10/12

      I have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. So far I’ve had the following suggestions on a ‘cure’ for my cancer: Cancer is a fungus - drink a drop of tea tree oil in water once a week (despite the bottle saying external use only), drink the tea made from the Sour Sop plant (mmm tasty), mix together maple syrup and bicarb soda (yummy) oh and rub black salve on my breast and it will magically eat away the cancer. They are just a few of the witch doctor suggestions I’ve gotten . So who’s cure do I try? Mabel’s? Dave’s? If I try Myrtle’s will I die because I should have used Trevor’s? What to do…. or should I try them all and hope NOT to die?

      Seriously, if curing friggin cancer were that easy there would be no cancer! Name one government that wouldn’t want to reduce it’s health care bill?  Most ‘natural therapists’ have never seen a single cancer cell down the lens of a microscope let alone have a clue on a cure. They are not capable of diagnosing cancer so how could they possibly cure it? You don’t go to your naturopath when you find a breast lump do you? (unless you have a death wish). And until the day comes when they have their own CT, MRI, x-ray’s and pathology they can stick to peddling their wares to those who aren’t facing death.

      Whilst all these people are well meaning, all they do is add more confusion and stress to a time in my life when I don’t need any more stress. I don’t like or enjoy the treatment I am going through, but I refuse to play Russian Roulette with my life.  I have far too much faith in my medical team. I also have faith in the thousands of real scientists around the world who spend every working hour trying to better understand cancer and find a cure. They actually give a shit.I’ll stick to the science thanks and if I still succumb to this vile thing in my body, then I’ll know I’ve done all I can.

    • Tara says:

      06:05pm | 09/10/12

      ICB to anyone who writes an article about something they’ve never been involved in before. Try visiting a reputable homeopath before dissing them. There are as many useless and bad doctors out there as there are scamming cons in any field of ‘medicine’. How about talking about all the doctors out there who’ll never mention your weight, but will give you cholesterol tablets like lollies? Ah but no, the AMA has research on that!

      Research is only as good as the big pharma pushing its publication see Ben Goldacre’s TED talk on what doctors don’t know about the drugs they prescribe for further discussion.
      In the mean time do some real research and stop relying on the pharma dogs to manufacture articles for your reinterpretation.

    • Kh says:

      06:31pm | 09/10/12

      Pink unicorns? Really? Can I come over to yours?

 

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