Monday, 28 June 2010

Homeopathy

A 19 page strip about homeopathy. My follow up story-strip to the one I did on the MMR vaccine scare, and another chapter of my ongoing book about science. This is, in effect, the beta version of the strip. There will, I'm sure, be mistakes dotted throughout that I haven't spotted. So do feel free to point out any errors. The references will be in the next entry.

homeopathy 1

homeopathy 2

homeopathy 3

homeopathy 4

homeopathy 5

homeopathy 6

homeopathy 7

homeopath 8

homeopathy 9

homeopathy 10

homeopathy 11

homeopathy 12

homeopathy 13

homeopathy 14

homeopath 15

homeopath 16

homeopathy 17

homeopathy 18

homeopathy 19

211 comments:

1 – 200 of 211   Newer›   Newest»
Pedro Homero said...

This is as good as the vaccines one - thank you VERY much, i'm sharing this as if there's no tomorrow!

Here are some minor mistakes i found, and an important one:

"He later founded a company called Digibio" - drop the comma after "called"

"In 2006, the journalist Simon Singh," - drop the comma after "journalist" and add one after 2006

"This advise would put any child at risk" - coming from "only two advised that the mother should immunize" it seems that immunization is the risk factor, and not the other way around.

"that science doesn't' recognize homeopathy is, to its supporters," - change the comma from homeopathy to is.

Please keep up the good work, it is vital!

tall guy said...

Thanks for the nice words and corrections, Pedro.

Tom Nash said...

Really enjoyed this - well done.

Just noticed two spelling errors: page 13, panel one has 'survay' instead of 'survey';
page 14, panel one has 'advise' instead of 'advice'.

Otherwise, really fantastic intro to homeopathy. Good job!

Anonymous said...

This is excellent, thank you and well done.

My one slight issue with it is that when looking at whether homeopathy might work, you have not mentioned the placebo effect (or maybe I missed it?).

Also, homeopathy has been mis-spelled once or twice.

Great work, well done!

Adam

Warhelmet said...

Claiming that homeopathy as a pyschotherapeutic intervention has benefit is problematic. Whilst some lay homeopaths do have training in psychotherapy, counselling or whatever, I am not at sure that the majority do. The combination of amateur psychotherapy and the bizarre ideas that some homeopaths have about the causes of illness may do more harm that good...

The idea of "dis-ease" as the result of spiritual/moral failure is often less than helpful and possibly very damaging.

Red. x said...

Great work!

Phoenix said...

You know, it's amusing how you like to portray yourself as a knowledgable person. You present your opinions as though they are fact. One sided as they are.

If you are happy to use singular anecdotal evidence as a way of poo-pooing homeopathy, would you be so kind as to explain then, how it is that your marvellous 'science-based medicine' allows hundreds of people to die of cancer each year?

My uncle had every 'science-based' medicinal 'remedy' available. He suffered for two years through gruelling Chemos and radiation treatments. And still wasted away in a hospital bed and died. He was 43.
No doubt if he had instead gone down the route of homeopathic remedies, you would be claiming *they* were the cause of his suffering and death, and that harsh chemo would have 'saved' him.

On the subject of vaccines, how do you explain away the countless vaccine reactions and vaccine-related deaths? They obviously dont 'put any child at risk'.
How do you explain the non-vaccinated public who *shock horror* aren't dead? How do you explain how most of today's over 50s are alive *despite* catching (and 'escaping unharmed') Measles, or mumps, or both. There was no MMR vaccination until the 80s. Funny how it such a dangerous disease, and yet the incidence of it (even now we have a vaccine) is still relatively high (among both vaxxed and non-vaxxed people), and yet the death rate is EXTREMELY low. One death in about 10 years IIRC. And there is no 'medicine' ones you get it. Just good old fashioned rest, keeping the temperature down *naturally*, NOT with paracetomols etc, and plenty of fluids and fruit rich in vitamin A.

Homeopathy is more about looking to nature, both to boost immune system to keep it healthy in the first place, and to aid it if illness does occur.


If you choose not to have anything to do with it, that is your right, but to peddle this mis-information and mis-representation as fact is absurd and negligent.

Paul B Rainey said...

Another great one. Cheers Darryl.

James-C said...

'Survey' not 'Survay'.

Twinarp said...

Aah Pheonix. Trot out the old anecdotes again. Blah blah blah blah blah.
Homepathy must violate physics, chemistry, biology and pharmacology as the real world know them FOR THERE TO BE A MINISCULE CHANCE OF IT WORKING. When homeopathy can cure a ANYTHING as quickly, consistently and universally as a single aspirin, come back. Until then stop experimenting on your patients.

Phoenix said...

Twinarp, your spelling is atrocious.

I am not the one 'trotting out' anecdotes. The beloved Darryl is doing that. I'm merely countering his with my personal experience of "science-based medicine" not making a blind bit of difference. The facts (in rather larger-than-anecdotal quantities) prove that the usual treatments of cancer are far from perfect, given the number of people who still die from cancer *despite* accepting the chemo et al.

Well done you though, you have managed to regurgitate Darryl's sentence perfectly. What a good little sheep you are.

Now, as for your last couple of sentences, I neither practice homeopathy nor actively promote it. I do not have 'patients'. I am not a homeopath.

But, a few points; do you know what is in the Aspirin? Are you happy to subject your body to that, and the vast list of possible side effects that come with it? Seemingly you put speed of pain blocking above overall health and well being.

Whilst it is YOUR choice to choose quick-fix drugs and the cocktail of chemicals they contain, likewise it is others people's choice to look for more gentle and natural products to treat ailments if that is their wish.


Now, maybe you would like to do some research, rather than blindly believing everything that Darryl spoon-feeds you.

Anonymous said...

If you are happy to use singular anecdotal evidence as a way of poo-pooing homeopathy, would you be so kind as to explain then, how it is that your marvellous 'science-based medicine' allows hundreds of people to die of cancer each year?

Cancer has no cure. Everyone who knows anything at all knows that. Some people who get cancer and have it detected early enough can stop the cancer from spreading by removing it and treating the areas around the removal. This is not a cure. It can stop it, but the possibility that cancer will return is always there.

Homeopathy simply lets the cancer run its course, killing the patient. Science and modern medicine will attempt to remove the cancer and will be successful in many cases, but not all. That's how you explain it.

My uncle had every 'science-based' medicinal 'remedy' available. He suffered for two years through gruelling Chemos and radiation treatments. And still wasted away in a hospital bed and died. He was 43.
No doubt if he had instead gone down the route of homeopathic remedies, you would be claiming *they* were the cause of his suffering and death, and that harsh chemo would have 'saved' him.


I'm sorry for your loss. But at least your uncle *tried* to stop the cancer. Using homeopathy is giving up. It's allowing the cancer to kill. In Darryl's example, the cancer was at a stage it might have been able to be safely removed. If she had chosen to do both, the medical procedure AND the homeopathy, she might be alive today. But she didn't. If your uncle had gone with homeopathy he would have died quicker. That's all.

On the subject of vaccines, how do you explain away the countless vaccine reactions and vaccine-related deaths?

Proof, please. I've seen people make this argument, but I've seen very little evidence that wasn't circumstantial. If you are going to make this claim, back it up with real numbers and dates.

How do you explain the non-vaccinated public who *shock horror* aren't dead?

It's called "herd immunity" and it relies on a certain number of people around the non-immunized people being vaccinated. If the hear immunity gets too low, you will have outbreaks and people will die, like what is happening with Whooping Cough in California right now.

How do you explain how most of today's over 50s are alive *despite* catching (and 'escaping unharmed') Measles, or mumps, or both.

Um. That's a really poor way to make a statement. If they died from measles or mumps, which many *many* people did, they AREN'T ALIVE TO BE OVER 50! Duh. I believe measles has a death rate of 1 in a 1000 now, and that's still pretty high, all things considered. Luckily, there are enough people immunized nowadays that the herd immunity is strong and serious outbreaks are rare.

So, no, you don't recall correctly.

But enough of you. I'd rather waste time on something more important than an anti-science whiner who lacks critical thinking skills and thinks vaccines are horrible. I sincerely hope you get your wish and can live among a population of unvaccinated people and get every disease that comes down the line. Just go die somewhere away from me and mine.

tall guy said...

Er... can we all be a little more polite here?

Tom D said...

Phoenix, there is no reliable cure for cancer, and no sane person would argue that there is. Even an idiot would chose a bad chance of survival over no chance of survival; and for serious problems like cancer, homeopathy gives you no chance of survival.

Of course there are people still alive who have had measles and mumps. What about the ones who died from the deseases and never got the chance to become 50 year olds? Did you just forget them?

In summary, you are a complete moron because you believe that:

1. You think doctors claim to cure all cancers 100% of the time.

2. You think that measles and mumps have a 100% mortality rate.

You are the one spreading misinformation.

Anonymous said...

Phoenix:
One question:

1. Would you advocate any form of alternative medicine, such as homeopathy, as an outright replacement for polio vaccine for your child if you were living in an at-risk region such as Nigeria ten years ago?

If you answered yes, then you are a part of the problem that this cartoon is taking aim at. Polio vaccine has worked amazingly well. A few negative reactions are a small price to pay for almost completely eradicating a disfiguring and debilitating disease that used to be globally endemic.

Anonymous said...

@Phoenix:

Scientific methods have proposed treatments and cures to various ailments over the years with varying degrees of success.

The point that the sub-text of this strip makes but fails to state clearly in my opinion is that the scientific method can produce repeatable results. That some people can die as a result of certain treatments is a known factor and a risk allopathic practitioners are trained to be aware of and assess when looking for treatment options.

However, homeopaths do not have any such ability by their own admission. Their system of diagnosis is based on a rubric of symptoms and characteristics of the individual. This rubric will give the homeopath an indication of a remedy. This system has no basis for evidence on which to assess risk of treatment: a homeopath isn't making an informed choice when choosing a remedy; ultimately after building a rubric of the symptoms the homeopath is left with a choice of possible remedies and they can only base their choice on intuition. So when you seek treatment from a homeopath, you're getting a guess essentially.

Allopathic medicine isn't perfect. People do die from cancer despite surgeory, chemo, radiation, and everything else we can do to treat it. It's never good news when it does happen. I hope I never get cancer, but if I did I'd rather be able to make an informed decision with the help of a medical practitioner who is aware of the risks and available options.

But no matter what you tell people, it seems they will continue to believe crazy things. I'm not at liberty to tell you or anyone else what they should believe. However, when it comes to medicine there's an ethical obligation to a patient to be clear about their options for treatment. And when people are dispensing such advice it is a requirement that those practitioners are told what they can and cannot recommend to their patients.

Otherwise we end up with crack doctors like that one in some western-african country that perscribed a regimen of herbal remedies to cure AIDS. This practitioner believe that the anti-retrovirals normally perscribed by doctors was a poison. The patients in his care trusted him to treat them and he exposed them to the AIDS virus and probably killed them. Thousands of people died because of this man's crazy beliefs.

So what of homeopathy? Regulate it I say. License practitioners so that they can live up to the same standards enforced on other licensed medical practitioners. Then we'll see how many homeopaths will be around to perscribe their remedies to patients with malaria and advising their patients to avoid conventional treatment options. Regulation should clear out most of the dangerous quacks who operate outside of such strict ethical guidelines as other licensed medical practitioners.

Anonymous said...

Homeopathic remedies and herbal remedies have nothing in common, so I don't see how the government's warning is in any way relevant here.

Also, isn't chemotherapy really just a type of nutritional supplement?

skepticat said...

Loving your work, mate.

Anonymous said...

this is an ignorant and narrowminded argumentation that does not know anything about e.g. post-Newton physics. And very harmful, BTW. Congratulation for spreading oldschool philosophy and global industrial needs serving brainlessly money and passed paradigm, smarthead

Anonymous said...

Very nice.

Anonymous said...

"ignorant and narrowminded argumentation" exactly what any follower of cretinous metaphysical mumbo-jumbo has to say when presented with any form of argumentation that contains any form of logic. suppose you also believe in 12-stranded DNA, alien abductions, bigfoot and the tooth fairy. way to answer little medieval relic!

Tyro said...

I love the claims about "post-Newtonian" physics. Can someone tell me what they are exactly (beyond the technically correct description of all physics past March 1726 which basically means most physics)?

I studied Physics at degree level (including quantum mechanics which is usually what's being invoked in these cases) and never came across anything which might remotely explain how water might have a memory and I've never come across a competent physicist who did.

Decrying scientists for not understanding these things when all they managed to do was devise and build the computer you're using to read this while you're still busy sitting hitting a test tube of water against a bit of horsehide (and it's apparently very important that it's horsehide) would be amusing if it weren't for the deaths you're causing.

Dana Ullman said...

If the homeopathic interview (which can last 60 minutes) is the primary therapy (rather than the homeopathic medicine itself), then psychotherapists and counselors would be our leading healers. Therapists spend 50 minutes (or so) at least once a week, and therefore, such "treatments" would be effective in treating various physical ailments, not just psychological ones. And yet, we all know that this is NOT true.

Your review of basic sciences research and clinical research is very thin. That said, let's assume that homeopathy does not work for EVERYTHING. However, when reviewing meta-analyses for specific ailments, there IS evidence that homeopathy works (when the medicines are properly prescribed). The research on respiratory allergies, childhood diarrhea, influenza, fibromyalgia, and ailments after abdominal surgery are some conditions for which meta-analyses and reviews of research has shown efficacy.

There have also been over 50 basic sciences trials that have been replicated successfully. The fact that no all replication trials have been successful verifies that these researchers are honest scientists, though most replication efforts have shown positive results.

I encourage more humility in your views of homeopathy. It seems that you've got your mind made-up, probably the result of your cherry-picking of studies.

Roshan said...

I love this thread - loads of homeopathy-bashers and a few science-bashers.

I'm all for homeopathy as an additional treatment - it can't hurt if they are getting scientific treatment too; even if it is just to make the patient feel better and have a better immune response.

PS Why is everyone complaining about everyone else's spelling and grammar?

Andy Luke said...

Seems like a test-run of publication, Roshan. I agree that homeopathy cannot hurt as part of a multiple-approach.

Can't say I'm enjoying the comments. I don't trust in nature enough to expect Pheonix and I could talk this through like grown fucking people. And the blame game going on isn't much better. I'd like to see these people to whom the subject is such a conflict matter make a solid attempt to educate. Good comics Daryl.

Anonymous said...

Darryl, beautiful work!

I love the way you use different graphic styles for punctuation & how you use color.

Now, for all those out there who cultivate woo, something to ponder:

As the poet said, "If water has memory, then it must be full of sh!t."

Seriously, where do these homeopaths take their water molecules from? And come to think of it, when they get rid of say, arsenic, don't they also get rid of everything else that water has ever seen? Thus "multiplying" the power of these substances as well?

Massa said...

Hi Darryl. I ABSOLUTELY LOVED the comics. If I may suggest a small change, I would have added "in pain" to the caption to the last panel.

Keep up the good work, and thank you,

Humberto Massa

Justin said...

Dana, your logic is pretty bad in that first paragraph. The claim being made in the comic is not that talk therapy is highly effective against physical ailments, but that the only aspect of homeopathy that works at ALL is the talking part. Also, psych therapists don't claim to be able to heal physical ailments, so you'd be unlikely to see a placebo effect on their clients' non-DSM problems.

Meta-analyses? Reviews of research? SOME efficacy? Wow, we should all run out and get some Head-On. Has it shown clinically significant effects? How reliably can it predict good patient outcomes?

Jake said...

Dana, Dana, Dana, no Dana, your assumptions of meta analysis combined with your preconceived ideas give you the illusion that homeopathy has some effectiveness. The real scientific research has consistently shown homeopathy is completely ineffective for your listed ailments and any other you’d like to list. Also should you not understand this, when a person gets well on their own and happens to have taken a homeopathic potion, the potion is not responsible for the person getting better, that’s just what happens much of the time.

essuu said...

@Andy Luke: would that poet be Tim Minchin by any chance ?

His beat poem Storm, which features a line just like that, is one of my favourite things on YouTube :-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujUQn0HhGEk

B.Gillespie said...

Well done Darryl, im impressed. Very nicely summed up. I'm looking forwards to the collected book. b.x

Mark said...

The HPA quote about herbal remedies (naturopathy) is a counter-productive distraction to your point about homeopathy.

The first effective treatment for malaria was in fact quinine, which comes from the bark of the cinchona tree. It has been a scientifically-proven treatment for centuries, and was the preeminent treatment until 2006, when the WHO recommended the use of artemisinin drugs, which are based on a plant derivative from Chinese medicine.

You would do well to trim the HPA quote to avoid diluting your point.

Anonymous said...

@Phoenix -[..] do you know what is in the Aspirin? Are you happy to subject your body to that, and the vast list of possible side effects that come with it? [..]
Whilst it is YOUR choice to choose quick-fix drugs and the cocktail of chemicals they contain, likewise it is others people's choice to look for more gentle and natural products to treat ailments if that is their wish.


You're misinformed. Salicylic acid has been used since, what, 3000 BC, as it's very common in plants. Notably Hippocrates recommended bark of the willow tree - which rich with the substance so like aspirin - for pain release and against fever.

The only real difference between licking some plants and taking a pill is that the active substance has been purified and isolated - and I reckon an acetyl group was added to relieve the side effects of salicylic acid (stomach ache)

Skepticism were skepticism is due. :|

("Ironically", I always found trusting science required a much broader mind than mere believing; you have to be prepared to adjust your world view time and time again - not that I don't appreciate the lovely "ignorant and narrowminded argumentation" comment that was posted here)

Anonymous said...

Gross. If water has memory then I may as well stop eating and drinking right now, because it's going to kill me eventually anyway.

Given that all the water molecules on the planet have been tossing about in the most vigorous mixing system in existence - the ocean and the atmosphere - for a good 4+ billion years, I'd hazard a guess that there's not a single water molecule on the face of this earth that hasn't at some point in it's history come into contact with at least one of every single other type of substance known to exist on this planet. And for you young earth crazies out there, that would still be true for most of the water if the planet was only 6000 years old too.

A water molecule is more likely to come in to contact with some things than others of course, such as highly toxic ammonia, urea and uric acid (the most basic form of nitrogenous metabolic waste products of basically every animal that uses proteins - aka every animal ever), nitrites, nitrates, phosphates, salt ions, decomposing plants and animals, solid waste (and by that I mean animal shit), raw human sewage, heavy crude, every single amino acid used in biological metabolism, and the entire compliment of everything urban water treatment plants intentionally remove because it's poisonous, to name a few.

If the homeopaths are right, then 'let there be light' was child's play compared to the miracle that any complex organism can make it past the zygote stage, what with 70-90% of all living tissue on land or in the sea consisting of an aqueous (that means water, BTW) solution that would somehow be remembering and transmitting the 'effect' of such an assaulting array of poison that it's been exposed to in the billions of years before it was consumed by the cells that are now using it. Or wait, does water only remember stuff when the homeopaths want it to?

All one needs to do is realize that life actually exists on earth to figure out that the entire principle behind
homeopathy is complete nonsense. The water molecules that they use to make their dilutions did not magically pop in to existence in the few seconds before making the solution.

That of course is only one of the many problems with homeopathy but I think the rest of the comments here cover most of those nicely.

I will say that it's hard to argue with 'alternative' medicine subscribers though. Their beliefs are most often based on a complete and fundamental misunderstanding of the principles on which this universe operates. The base knowledge required to see why things like homeopathic remedies are pointless at best is not something that can be digested in a single conversation or comment thread even if the other party is actually open minded enough to want to learn. Hell, a lot of the background is only really understandable after a couple of years of intensive university level study. It's why this is such an uncharacteristic foray in the crazy pool for me - usually just not worth the effort. However, after seeing first hand the devastation European homeopathic practitioners/faith healers were wreaking in Ghana when I went last year, something really does need to be done about it.

kudos to the comic, it's awesome.

-A

Edwin Starhouse said...

While I agree that "alternative medicine" is often a breeding ground for people with paranoid fears of modern science, I think this article/comic/ad hominem throws the baby out with the bath-water. Treatments like acupuncture and meditation have been shown affective beyond placebo. Furthermore,science is just beginning to scratch the surface as to why these treatments work, despite their ancient origins. This comic seems to value the (albeit powerful) tool of scientific reduction too highly.

Rich said...

Nice. Linked to this from Steve Novella's Neurologica blog.

Malcolm Armsteen said...

I don't know if it got noted and lost in the foregoing, but Sp error - vigourously - should be vigorously.

Glendon Mellow said...

Fantastic and well done! You have an excellent sense of pacing, imo. Great images, visually interesting even with a limited palette.

Can't wait to see the final version. Pat yourself on the back.

Laurie Pink said...

How do you explain how most of today's over 50s are alive *despite* catching (and 'escaping unharmed') Measles, or mumps, or both. -Phoenix

Um... because all the ones that caught diseases we can now vaccinate against but didn't survive, well...they died.

I hope that clears up the confusion for you a bit.

Justin said...

"Treatments like acupuncture and meditation have been shown affective beyond placebo. Furthermore,science is just beginning to scratch the surface as to why these treatments work, despite their ancient origins."

They haven't been reliably shown to be very helpful. And did you ever stop to think that the 'surface' is all there is to these so-called treatments?

Anonymous said...

Regarding Polio, MMR & other vaccines:

My father (now in his 80's) contracted polio as a child. He spent the better part of a year in a sanitarium doing breathing therapy and eventually recovered.

I think it's the absolute height of stupidity for the anti-vaxers to even attempt to claim anything rational about their hysteria.

Here I stand-one generation out from someone whom almost died of an easily-preventable (and highly contagious) disease to call them exactly what they are:

Dangerous idiots.

Kudos on the strip-very well thought out and executed!

Shazronnie said...

Just to clear up a small point here is a list of deaths from measles from 1940 onwards.
http://www.hpa.org.uk/web/HPAweb&HPAwebStandard/HPAweb_C/1195733835814
As you can see there were between 31 and 317 people who died each year from measles in the 1950's. Since the vaccines incident rates are markedly lower, and death rates very low - this can obviously also be attributed to improvements in lifestyle,sanitation and medical care.

On the subject of homeopathy this is my opinion - it is claptrap.

David said...

Speaking as a doctor (only a medical doctor, unfortunately no PhD in post-Newtonian physics), my concern is that homeopathic remedies are mostly unsubstantiated by good, peer-reviewed evidence.

As soon as someone proves that it can work better than placebo, I'll be very interested. However, until then I will recommend the best evidence-based treatments available.

Chris said...

Phoenix: Science can't cure everything now...but at least it's trying to. When HOMEOPATHY finds a definitive cure for cancer (and I'm sure the first who does will have a swarm of people flocking to it), then I'll pretend to listen to your drivel about how something ELSE doesn't work Until then, shut it.

James said...

@ Anonymous June 29 2010, 3:10 AM

“Congratulation for spreading oldschool philosophy and global industrial needs serving brainlessly money and passed paradigm, smarthead”

I have to take issue with your comments regarding “global industrial needs serving brainlessly money”.

Just one homeopathic company, Boiron, has sales of over half a billion euro in 2008 (http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/snapshot/snapshot.asp?ticker=BOI:FP ) and paid its chief executive €423.1K. Its profits in 2009 were over €50 million (http://www.boiron.com/en/content/download/2400/16757/file/DDR_09_GB.pdf ).. And, even in their own words, they spend very little on “research”, their focus appears to be on profit:

“Total expenses related to research and development amounted to €4,279 thousand. They represented less than 1% of group sales. In 2009, the group benefited from a research tax credit of €1,224 thousand versus €1,831 thousand in 2008.”

(http://www.boiron.com/en/content/download/2400/16757/file/DDR_09_GB.pdf )

I agree entirely that the pharmaceutical industry has serious problems and the fact that it spends far more money on marketing than research is a scandal and a travesty – I think they generally spend twice as much on marketing as R&D. This is horrifying.

But just because Big Pharma is rotten doesn’t mean that complementary and alternative medicine is automatically in the right. I certainly believe that many people turn to complementary and alternative medicine because of a dissatisfaction with the pharmaceutical industry but on examination the complementary and alternative medicine industry shares many of the same faults.

I say complementary and alternative medicine “industry” because it is one. And it is one with links to the very pharmaceutical industry that many proponents of complementary and alternative medicine state they despise. For example, Patrick Holford, a “lifestyle guru” often in the media and a keen proponent of supplements, apparently sold his pill business for c. half a million. It is still in business and is part-owned by a pharmaceutical firm.

I’m sure that many people here will have seen a report by Reuters that in the US, people spent nearly $34 billion – yes, billion – on complementary and alternative medicine, including homeopathy, in 2007:

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE56T6MN20090730

But it is worth re-posting to illustrate how this is not some battle of overly-demanding skeptics vs. an impoverished group of proponents of complementary and alternative medicine who would fund research but do not have the money to do so.

There is of course the argument that so many consumers can’t be wrong. Well, you and I would seem to have very different views on what the evidence for complementary and alternative medicine actually states but I am sure we can think of many examples where people have spent a lot of money on something that turned out to be worthless.

To quote Ben Goldacre: “With alternative therapists, when you point out a problem with the evidence, people don’t engage with you about it, or read and reference your work. They get into a huff. …They accuse you of being a paid plant from some big pharma conspiracy. …
They shout, “What about thalidomide, science boy?”
(http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/nov/16/sciencenews.g2)

It’s a shame that people aren’t prepared to debate the science, rather than resorting to such childish remarks. Politeness costs nothing.

@ Dana Ullman: in the spirit of openness, it might have been useful to declare that you derive some income from being a proponent of alternative medicine, such as homeopathy, so readers of this blog are aware of your financial interest in this matter.

@ Darryl Cunningham: thank you for such an excellent description of homeopathy and its (many) problems. And thank you for the MMR one, another excellent piece of work.

Competing interests: I am not a practitioner of any alternative medicines. Nor am I an employee of, or a shill or apologist for, the pharmaceutical industry.

Anne de Beerentz said...

I have worked in central Africa and to see child after child die from ailments that are almost extinct in the Western world: mumps, measles and polio for example; or from ailments for which there are simple and reasonably cheap cures: pneumonia, malaria—it's absolutely heart breaking and it makes me furious to see misguided individuals spew their misinformation all over the Internet.

Phoenix: I dare you to leave your comfortable suburban home with AC and central heating, (skip the malaria treatments!) and volunteer in a refugee camp where there is never enough time or resources to help everyone. Then tell me if you still think conventional medicine is evil.

Science may not have all the answers, and it's not perfect, but it's darn better than make-belief and fear mongering.

Anonymous said...

for an author that criticizes fear-mongering, you certainly engage in a lot of it.. this is a very sloppy argument if you ask me. there are innumerable cases of people trusting 'science' and 'modern medicine', and dying nonetheless, in often terrible painful ways. it is dishonest of you to ignore this.

Anonymous said...

Page 7. "... have been neither consistent NOR convincing." Replace or with nor.
Thank you.

Vad said...

Edwin Starhouse wrote: "I think this article/comic/ad hominem throws the baby out with the bath-water. Treatments like acupuncture and meditation have been shown affective beyond placebo."

Let us stop here. So this comic strip about *homeopathy* is wrong because you think OTHER treatments like acupuncture and meditation has been shown to work?

That's just a non sequitur. You can't just switch the subject to something entirely different and have it refute the orginal thing. I think that's a kind of a straw man.

It boils down to the evidence and our general understanding of nature and science. Tests have ACTUALLY been made to test the efficacy of homeopathy, and those "drugs" just don't work. They produce nothing, "imprints" or not. Theoretically it's also a very, very improbable hypothesis that somehow our immunesystem it positively stimulated by something THAT diluted. I mean, water gets around. I bet someone one dropped a whole crate of some digitalis plants in the sea, so already there the water is homeopathic - just grab a glass and shake it and it should have just as many molecules in it as any designed homeopathic "medicine".

Edwin Starhouse wrote: "Furthermore,science is just beginning to scratch the surface as to why these treatments work, despite their ancient origins. "

In fact, science is investigating the CLAIM that these therapies "work". Recently there was something about acupuncture and adenosine - not really mind blowing or anything though it seems to have provided a small insight into the mechanics at work. It certainly doesn't validate anything about qi, meridians, or any such hypotheses. Looks like it mostly proved that something really, truly does happen when you poke a needle into a living being - namely secretion of adenosine.

And a little LOL ... here in Denmark some undercover journalists revealed this acupuncture healer. In fact, and I mean FACT, he treatments worked against those shoulder and back pains. Mainly because his "needle" was in fact a syringe loaded with cortisol. Of course, patients remaining ignorant of this fact would say that the acupuncture worked. I guess it did. Sorta.

efrex said...

Unfortunately, there's not going to be much that this type of publication will do. Those who believe in "alternative" medicine will rely on their anecdotal evidence, which is inevitably more emotionally powerful than statistics (even this comic makes use of the anecdote of Penelope Dingle to strengthen its cause). Making rational arguments against non-rational beliefs is not going to have much effect.

Brian Fies said...

Well done: a clear and thorough survey of the subject, and very important. Your use of imagery is thoughtful and effective, and I like the way you present arguments like Benveniste's or Dingle's straight-up and let their absurdity speak for itself. After meeting you in London and getting a chance to read your work, I'm a big fan. I can think of few better uses of one's talents than fighting against people and ideas that seem determined to take us back to the Dark Ages.

Al said...

As Efrex said, the argument presented in this strip will have little effect on homeopathy fans, just as any arguments against the existence of God will have little effect on believers.

Arguments to the effect of "science-based cures fail often, so your support of them over homeopathy is invalid" are eerily similar to religious zealots' arguments against unbelievers, the the desperate distortion of logic to fit their view.

As someone who is willing to try natural and alternative remedies in addition to mainstream medicine, I found this strip very helpful for future discussions when someone attempts to convince me of the efficacy of homeopathy (something that has happened more than once).

Jack said...

This comic is pretty ignorant, really. The writer is attempting to "prove" his bias.

It should be clear that science cannot cure everything and also that homeopathy cannot cure everything.

And is is also clear that science cannot cure nothing and that homeopathy cannot cure nothing.

Millions of people are not using homeopathy in the face of its uselessness. They use it because they have noticed results.

Science cannot cure all cancers and homeopathy cannot either, but both can cure some.

I had allergies and tried a homeopathic remedy from the store shelves with no consultation from a homeopath. No psychotherapeutic benefit at all. The remedy worked great and with none of the harmful side effects I was experiencing with medicine based cures.

It continued to work effectively for 3 years and then it didn't work anymore. I was grateful for those 3 years of benefit.

I would also like to point out to those enamored by scientific medicine that the major cause of death in the US is prescription drugs properly prescribed. No one ever died from a homeopathic prescription.

Anonymous said...

As a devotee of science I'd just like to point out that science does not know that homeopathy doesn't work, it simply does not know that homeopathy does work. As a reason to decide whether or not to use homeopathic treatment, these statements are about the same. But scientifically, they are not the same.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I really enjoyed this. Your MMR cartoon, too. If you are soliciting suggestions (and it sounds like you are), I would recommend preempting the "homeopathy has been shown to work" crowd by at least acknowledging that this is the basis for continued belief, and explaining that anecdote doesn't trump clinical trial evidence. This is the one single concept that confuses the crap out of the gullible.
Comment to the angry folks - there is not an organized conspiracy against homeopathy. For a CAM therapy, it has been extensively studied by people who really would like it to be accepted. Time and time again, it has failed to pass even the most basic tests of effective therapies. When the facts don't line up with your beliefs, don't blame the facts.

Anonymous said...

I'm dubious about any tangible benefits of homeopathic medicine, but I can say without a doubt that the best doctor my family and I ever had was a homeopathist. My wife, who has four degrees and was accepted to medical school before choosing a different path, has long been attracted to alternative medicine because traditional medicine is so often inhumane. She's a medical ethicist and worked at a top university hospital, and it's terrifying to us how many surgeries, cancer therapies, and the like are performed there because of the biases of folks we consider medical experts. If you doubt what I'm saying, go look at the rate of C sections performed in teaching hospitals versus the rate for pregnant women who go to birthing centers. The rates are often as much as eight times higher -- far more than can be explained by the number of births with complicating factors.

I appreciate the information presented here, but it doesn't address what to me is a powerful and worrisome countervailing force: scientific dogma. It was scientific dogma that laughed at, among other things, the absurd notion that bacteria caused stomach ulcers. Until several decades later, when the bacterial cause was proven correct. When I was baby, medical science advised mothers that formula was more healthy than mother's milk. Science is absolutely full of bias, precisely because it's so difficult for us to move beyond our own perceptual limitations.

Today's science cannot justify homeopathic medicine, and many choose instead to ridicule it. But it's dangerous to declare we truly know something to be true or false.

Galadriel said...

If you're interested in other examples, check out Gloria Thomas and her parents Thomas Sam/Manju Sam.

Purple Rain said...

Scientific “dogma” is subject to change, as you yourself have noted, citing the case of the cause ulcers. You should have absolutely no problem with a dogma that recognizes its flaws and improves.

Brandy said...

Love it! Keep up the good work, enjoyed your Wakefield one too. As a person with Autism, I hear lots of "alternative" medicine ideas on a regular basis.

BTW, to people who think alternative medicine is fighting the system...they make TONS of money and skip over important things like clinical trials.

See OSR#1 in news recently: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-06-23/health/ct-met-autism-chemical-20100623_1_boyd-haley-autism-recovery-movement-dietary-supplement

Caspar Henderson said...

Sorry if I missed this among the many other comments, but should you be doing a revised version there's comic potential in the mass overdose protest in the UK in January this year:

http://www.1023.org.uk/the-1023-overdose-event.php

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18455-mass-drug-overdose--none-dead.html

Anonymous said...

efrex said...

Unfortunately, there's not going to be much that this type of publication will do. Those who believe in "alternative" medicine will rely on their anecdotal evidence.... Making rational arguments against non-rational beliefs is not going to have much effect.


Actually, not true, though I know it often feels that way.

But I know that making sound arguments against homeopathy and the anti-vaccine camp can eventually break through their bias and irrationality. I know this, because I was one.

I was a rabid anti-vax'er, I tried hard to believe homeopathy worked, I tried many alternative therapies, and I sold many worthless "remedies" at a natural food store. I considered my mind more "open" because I was willing to put faith in these mysteries. I have uttered the words, "well, it's possible we just *don't know yet* how or why they work." I wasn't strongly anti-"allopathy," but I was armed with the usual arguments: Western medicine also kills, Big Pharma is evil, many doctors are just greedy/uncaring machines, I knew this one person that..., there's no money for research, etc.

(OK, to be honest, I never did have much faith in homeopathy, ever, but I was "open" to the possibility of it working and defended it on the basis that if it seems to be working for people, maybe it really can work but we don't understand it yet.)

Then I was forwarded one article, then another. I read one comic, then another. Then I read some more. I re-opened my mind to science. I returned to my atheist roots, and realized that I can't be pro-science to defend atheism, but anti-science to defend homeopathy. I decided, basically, to believe the science, because it's more reliable, it's something that's replicable, something we can put our hands on.

Plus, I never could wrap my head around the "dilute memory" idea. How did they find "pure" (i.e., no memory of previous impressions) water to begin with, if water retains memory? And if the water wasn't pure to begin with, why wouldn't we all be perfectly healthy from all its combined memories?

So, yeah, keep up the good work. Some people will come around.

Kasper said...

A couple of years ago the government of the Netherlands tried to impose upon homeopathic medicine the same regulations that are needed to register and sell other medicines. This means they have to do all the trials, proof of concepts, proof of efficacy, etc. that other medicines have to go through. This resulted in much upheaval, because the manufacturers could not provide any such information. In the end they ONLY had to prove there was nothing harmful in the medication. In other words, to prove that it's 100% pure water.

And slightly of topic (but relevant also for homeopathy):
Edwin stated: "treatments like acupuncture and meditation have been shown affective beyond placebo"
I'm very curious what kind of placebo they used... imaginary needles or "mock meditation" is not exactly a placebo.
In homeopathy a placebo is quite easy. Just give a tube of the water that they use to make their dilutions, but keep everything else the same (the talks with the homeopath etc.) and make sure that neither the homeopath nor patients knows whether they're getting the placebo or an homeopathic dilution.
In the papers that I read that claimed proof of efficacy of homeopathy over placebo, these conditions were never met. If anyone knows of a paper that proofs efficacy over placebo and does meet the requirements for a proper double blind placebo controlled trial, I would very much appreciate a reference.

Anonymous said...

It's all the same shit. Traditional or homeopathic. There are bastards out there who don't really give a rat's ass about people, but just do it for the money or prestige.

I dated a medical student. He didn't even like people or want to become a doctor. He had daddy issues like the majority of doctors and lawyers. I also have a friend who LEFT the medical trade bc he was tired of the bullshit. It's amazing how the prescription and medical device companies actually have such an influence over the trade. But this isn't to bash all doctors as I also know some wonderful people who are doctors...and they will openly admit these issues with traditional medicine.

It is still up in the air whether vaccines cause autism or not. Yes, the most recent study says no, but it is new and controversial.

One thing is for sure, though. While vaccines *can* prevent illness, they can be dangerous. I have known people with children and pets who have almost died from reactions to certain vaccines.

My mom's dog was a recent victim. Not only did the vets admit it was the distemper vaccine, but the company that developed it actually sent my mom $700 to help her recoup the costs of the emergency vet-care (her dog was critical for over a week).

The same type of thing happened to my friend's son. He almost died after getting a number of "standard" vaccines at once when he was a baby. He has Aspergers now—which could be genetic (his father is a severe Aspie), but maybe he wouldn't have it if he hadn't nearly died from his reaction to the vaccine (and, yes, it was the vaccines that nearly killed him—the ER docs even said so).

I had a fantastic natural doula for my child's birth (which did end in a hospital but was still wonderful and positive thanks to both the midwives, doctors and the nurses working together). I met some great homeopathic folks during my pregnancy.

I also met some greedy f*cks who would be selling snake oil if they could. One of my dear friends ended up having a kidney transplant bc he made the mistake of listening to his idiot "hippy" friends who told him to stop taking his blood pressure meds.

There is also a lot of stupidity following it (hence some truth to the comic).

Anyhow, it's good to have medical/homeopathic people who aren't afraid to look at both sides in your court. Both sides can be beneficial if the people behind them are intelligent and have their clients'/customers' best interests at heart. Just my $.02.

Calli Arcale said...

Edwin Starhouse:
While I agree that "alternative medicine" is often a breeding ground for people with paranoid fears of modern science, I think this article/comic/ad hominem throws the baby out with the bath-water. Treatments like acupuncture and meditation have been shown affective beyond placebo.

The comic is specific to homeopathy, which you would realize if you had read it. Is there a reason why you instinctively think it is attacking acupuncture and meditation, merely because it attacks an entirely unrelated alternative therapy? (And homeopathy is most certainly unrelated. Indeed, if you actually believe Hahnemann, homeopathy contradicts a lot of the alternative remedies that are often used in conjunction with it. It even contradicts itself.)

Dana Ullman:
If the homeopathic interview (which can last 60 minutes) is the primary therapy (rather than the homeopathic medicine itself), then psychotherapists and counselors would be our leading healers. Therapists spend 50 minutes (or so) at least once a week, and therefore, such "treatments" would be effective in treating various physical ailments, not just psychological ones. And yet, we all know that this is NOT true.

That's not what is claimed here. What is claimed here is that all patients are really getting out of homeopathy is the same thing they could get out of psychotherapy. It's not curing their asthma, cancer, etc. It's just making them feel better about it. (At least, that is the claim in this comic.)

I encourage more humility in your views of homeopathy. It seems that you've got your mind made-up, probably the result of your cherry-picking of studies.

Well, you would know.

Anonymous said...

To quote the fantastic T-shirts printed by the 10^23 campaign:

"If water has a memory,
then Homeopathy is full of sh*t"

Ryan Learn said...

Reading through the comments here and who do I see?

CalliArcale, of Space.com fame.

Hope all goes well for you!

Chimel said...

It's a fancy cartoon, but I'm not too sure what to make out of it:
It starts introducing the law of similars, but never says if this is justified or not.

Then it most entirely focuses on the theory behind water imprinting. This is fine and even some homeopaths put this theory forth, but the truth of the matter is that it is totally irrelevant to how homeopathic medicines are actually made, which is diluting 1% of the previous dilution into 99% of alcohol. True, it's never pure alcohol, there's 30% of water in it, but still, it seems to make the entire debate about imprint a non-issue. Some hard to dissolve materials are even initially dissolve in lactose, not alcohol.

For proof of concept, the principles of homeopathy do not really matter, I'd rather see a study where a true homeopath prescribes medicines, and half the patients get the real thing, the other half get placebo sugar pills.
Only then can you compare if homeopathy works, regardless of the principles or the duration of the interview.

Reflex said...

Jack -

"It should be clear that science cannot cure everything and also that homeopathy cannot cure everything."

No scientist or legitimate doctor claims to be able to 'cure everything' as that would require a 100% understanding of human biology and the premise that there even is a cure for everything that can negatively affect human biology.

As for homeopathy, what is required for it to be considered a legitimate treatment is evidence that it can cure *anything*. Right now there is none, and attempts to demonstrate it have come up short. If you are aware of some that can be independently verified via a standard clinical trial, feel free to put it up, along with specifically what it will treat or cure.

"And is is also clear that science cannot cure nothing and that homeopathy cannot cure nothing."

Double negatives aside, yes, science has led to the development of thousands of cures and treatments. I am not aware of any that homeopathy has led to, however.

"Millions of people are not using homeopathy in the face of its uselessness. They use it because they have noticed results."

Millions of people used to use bleeding as a method of relieving fevers. Despite it being useless. Millions of people buy "Airborne" despite it being demonstratably ineffective. I would not use the 'millions of people' line of evidence unless you believe that anything millions of people do is safe. Hell, millions of people smoke cigarettes and believe they do no harm.

Reflex said...

...Continued:

"Science cannot cure all cancers and homeopathy cannot either, but both can cure some."

Science actually 'cures' no cancers. Scientific treatment for cancer can often reduce it to a point where it will go into remission, but that is not a cure. Homeopathy has never been demonstrated to be effective against cancer. If you can prove otherwise, please provide the evidence.

"I had allergies and tried a homeopathic remedy from the store shelves with no consultation from a homeopath. No psychotherapeutic benefit at all. The remedy worked great and with none of the harmful side effects I was experiencing with medicine based cures."

How do you know the remedy had any effect? Perhaps whatever triggered your allergies was not as prevelent during those years. Perhaps your immune system was stronger, there are a variety of reasons an immune system can be stronger or weaker during any given time peroid. What evidence do you have that in the absence of the remedy your allergies would not have been reduced during that time peroid as well?

"It continued to work effectively for 3 years and then it didn't work anymore. I was grateful for those 3 years of benefit."

Why do you take this as evidence that the remedy worked as opposed to it not working and other factors causing the allergy to resurface on its own?

"I would also like to point out to those enamored by scientific medicine that the major cause of death in the US is prescription drugs properly prescribed."
I'll point out for the record that that is merely evidence of a lot of people taking drugs. The more people that do something the more people will have accidents with it. For instance, despite major advances in automotive safety, deaths from car crashes continue to remain a major source of death in this nation. Would one conclude that safety equipment is a cause of death, or would one more logically conclude that perhaps more people are on the road today than were in the past, thus negating much of the benefit of those advances when measured against accident related death rates? More people today use modern medicine than ever before, of course there are bound to be more deaths.

"No one ever died from a homeopathic prescription."

No one claims homeopathy will kill you. However reliance on it will in some cases lead to death if one forsakes actual proven medicine for serious illnesses. For everyone else, they will simply suffer a reduced quality of life due to relying on ineffective treatments to deal with their illnesses.

Dan J said...

Especially for Phoenix, but apropos for any other homeopathy/antivax/alternative medicine believers out there:

I was diagnosed with cancer six weeks ago (Hodgkin's Lymphoma). I had my first chemotherapy treatment the day after diagnosis (yes, they put me on the fast track).

If I had not received medical treatment from a facility which uses sound, science-based methods, my condition would have worsened to the point where I would likely be deceased right now. As it turns out, I really feel great at the moment, thanks to chemotherapy.

I have another scheduled chemotherapy treatment tomorrow, and I look forward to it because I know that it is the most effective means of battling the disease that I have. Let's see the data on homeopathy's rate of success against it. Oh, wait: There isn't any.

I will not use here the words that I would use in person or on my own blog, but the first word starts with "F", and the rest of the words regard both you and your ideas regarding "alternative medicine" and anyone practicing it.

Anonymous said...

explain then, how it is that your marvellous 'science-based medicine' allows hundreds of people to die of cancer each year?

More than hundreds but evidence suggests that cancer survival rates are increasing evidence also suggests that this is due to science based medicine not homeopathy or any other CAM treatment.

On the subject of vaccines, how do you explain away the countless vaccine reactions and vaccine-related deaths? They obviously dont 'put any child at risk'.

Simply put - the documented risks of vaccine reactions are outweighed by the risks of an outbreak.

How do you explain the non-vaccinated public who *shock horror* aren't dead?

The same way we explain the sick and dead unvaccinated children. Statistics.

How do you explain how most of today's over 50s are alive *despite* catching (and 'escaping unharmed') Measles, or mumps, or both. There was no MMR vaccination until the 80s.

From the way you're talking any risk that isn't 50% is negligible.

Homeopathy is more about looking to nature, both to boost immune system to keep it healthy in the first place, and to aid it if illness does occur.

I think you mean naturopathy...homeopathy is simply mysticism.

mis-information and mis-representation as fact is absurd and negligent.

Perhaps you should cite the precise statement that is in error and the evidence to support your claim.

Werdna said...

truth of the matter is that it is totally irrelevant to how homeopathic medicines are actually made, which is diluting 1% of the previous dilution into 99% of alcohol

Which would leave your reader believing that actual homeopathic medicines are at 2x. However I went through my local store and I can't find a single one that has any ingredient at that concentration. 8x and 12x were the most common. So this wasn't just about the so-called "law of similars" but the idea that the dilution ratios are - stupid. Unless you subscribe to the mystical idea that something containing almost nothing of something can affect you - then you are getting homeopathically treated every time I drink tap water.

For the record there are plenty of placebo studies for homeopathy. Here is one: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18251757

There are plenty of small sample, poorly designed ones in journals which are tailored to the homeopathic profession. Interesting how large well-controlled multi-center studies show no better than placebo and small, poorly designed do.

Edwin Starhouse said...

Do defend myself against a few people who disagreed with my previous post: I didn't mention homeopathy, but rather acupuncture and meditation, because believe that homeopathy is a shame.

My problem is with the authors apparent dogmatic idolization of science. Science doesn't have all the answers and I don't think it ever will (but don't stop the cancer research!) Case in point: medical researchers have yet to understand the complex relationship between body and mind that causes the placebo effect. What other mysterious phenomena could still be out there?

As for there being no real placebo for acupuncture and meditation... touche! However, acupuncture has been shown to reduce lower back pain better than a "sham treatment" (not a true placebo but close) and meditation has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of heart attack.

Doctor's are experts and most of them have the public's best interest at heart. So they're the door I on first but certainly not the last one.

Dan J said...

"Science doesn't have all the answers and I don't think it ever will (but don't stop the cancer research!)"

No, science doesn't have all the answers, and it freely admits this. If it thought it had all the answers (like religion does) it would stop performing research, and thus would stop being what we know of as science.

When acupuncture and meditation have been shown in controlled studies to have the efficacy their proponents claim, they will then be known as medicine, and become a part of nearly every physician's available treatments.

Mike Mike said...

"Millions of people are not using homeopathy in the face of its uselessness. They use it because they have noticed results."

The same way lottery players notice patterns in winning numbers.

arshad said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Werdna said...

My problem is with the authors apparent dogmatic idolization of science.

This seems erroneous - could you cite the specific portion of the dialogue which necessitates an interpretation of looking at science uncritically (which is what I assume you mean by idolize)

Science doesn't have all the answers and I don't think it ever will
I suppose the question is: How is this relevant to critiquing homeopathy? Science is a general way of approaching problems. Homeopathy isn't - it's a specific piece of dogma applied unsuccessfully to a subset of problems. They're not even comparable as systems of thought.

Case in point: medical researchers have yet to understand the complex relationship between body and mind that causes the placebo effect.

First you have to establish that placebo *is* a mind/body relationship and not just reporting error. There was an interesting article in JAMA (IIRC) which showed how the strength of placebo effects weakened over time. I assume that others have probably mentioned the study by Hróbjartsson and Gøtzsche that showed an objectively measurable outcome having little or no placebo effect. Lending credence to the idea that placebo is only effective where there is considerable weight on perception. If so this is NOT a mind/body connection. It's just a MIND connection which isn't exactly news.

Dr. Bob Ironic said...

Very well done. I dumped naturopathy school due to the absurdity known as homeopathy.

-r.c.

Dr. Nancy Malik said...

Real is scientific homeopathy unlike Conventional Allopathic Medicine (CAM). Small doses of evidence-based modern homeopathy medicine brings big results for everyone

Scaryduck said...

Jack said: "homeopathy cannot cure everything"

Wrong - Homeopathy cannot cure Anything

Fixed that for you.

Scaryduck said...

By the way, I'm selling Homeopathic Goldfish if anybody's interested. This time next year, Rodders, we'll be millionaires.

Vad said...

I guess we never know, huh? So, preying on the inherent uncertainty and probabilistic nature of science, should we give homeopathy a chance?

Here's the challenge for those who think homeopathy "might have something" - call it the ethical challenge:

You are planning to test homeopathy, and given the current *evidence*, would you be conduct a clinical, double blind trial where you randomly assign 10.000 humans being to either receive normal, scientific based treatment (chemo, readiation, surgery) or homeopathic treatment. 5000 human lives in each groups.

Then we lean back and watch which treatment causes people to live or die the most.

Would you really be comfortable doing that trial?

Personally, the term "mass murderer" some to mind, so I'd chicken out. Dunno if the homeopathists have more balls ...

ddvman said...

@Phoenix, you argue against the use of 'singular anecdotal evidence' by using nothing but singular anecdotal evidence, rendering your debate useless. Nice work Darryl.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, there's a Cunningham book in these stories.

On small point: I think there's a sequencing error in the Dingle segment. The husband's antecedents should come before the main exposition: so the story sets her up, then sets up her husband as extra evidence of the advice available to her, before going on to say what she did, and how she died.

Just my feeling.

- Brian Deer

Anonymous said...

Oooo the TYRANNY of evidence based medicine!!

I am a qualified GP and now prison doctor. My first placement in my general practice training was at The Royal London Homeopathic Hospital... and what a fascinating 10 months it turned out to be. I learned the art of consultation. I learned to suppress the urge to pigeon hole the patient through rigid assignment of symptoms to disease. I learned to let the patient open up their story, to tell me in their own words, to allow them to use their metaphors, theories and ideas to explain their disease process.

The materia medica and repertory used in homeopathic consultation are the most incredible tomes detailing the curious presenting patterns of illness and disease put together at a time when the physicians greatest role was that of observer and chronicler of disease. In my experience homeopathic consultation is about validation of illness, facilitating the patients understanding of their disease process - facilitating the healing process. Never did i hear the patient complain about not being listened to or not being understood. Here there is no paternalism. There is no irritation that the patient has not responded to the prescribed treatment. Homeopathy bears witness to the fact that there is more to ill health than linear cause and effect theory.



It may also be worth keeping an open mind about some of the myths of modern day medicine.

Here people are treated at a population level. So if your GP were to prescribe you a medicine to help prevent a stroke or a heart attack there is no guarantee whatsoever that it will do that for you as an individual. However if several hundred people are treated with the same medicine a handful of people in that population may well benefit. You may develop side effects and live with having to take your medicines daily but you may not derive any benefit whatsoever as an individual. You are behaving alturistically. THIS is evidence based medicine..

Anonymous said...

The suggestion that an untrained quack can provide psychotherapy is misleading. Psychology is now transforming to an evidence based scientific practice, every bit as rigorous as medicine.

Unfortunately, many licensed practitioners are no more rigorous in their methods than say homeopaths and so misconceptions that anyone can provide psychotherapy are common.

Anonymous said...

Very nice comic that explains homeopathy very well. There are obviously some very emotional defenders of homeopathy out there who were offended by it, but the haven't been able to refute the basic point -- there is no rational reason to believe that homeopathy works in the way its practitioners claim that it does.

Most of their comments just support your basic point: any positive results come from a quasi-psychotherapy aspect to it. There is no doubt that there is a mind body connection (maybe through stress mechanisms) and homeopathy may help some people by relaxing them etc., but it certainly doesn't work the way it claims to.

As for those who seem disturbed that the author is focused on science, all I can cay is that there really is no point in your posting. You are basically saying that logic has no value -- but if so, why should I listen to your "arguments"?

prla1983 said...

Just keep your mind numbness on while I feel good for all these years using homeopathy. Never have placebos worked so well in solving different health problems!

Anonymous said...

Very nice comic, congratulations.

I feel very sorry for Phoenix's little girl. I hope she never has to suffer the consequences of her mother's narrow mind.

Grover Saunders said...

The fact that you have to go to someone like a homeopath in order to have someone just listen to you is exactly why we have such a problem with people trusting their health to "alternative medicine." Alternative medicine, for all it's faults, actually appears to care about the person where most doctors need to get you in and out as quickly as possible.

And I don't mean to imply that it's the doctor's fault...they usually have ten more patients behind you. But that doesn't change the fact that most people are going to trust someone that appears to care about them a LOT more than they trust an abstract concept like "double-blind study" and "peer reviewed."

Werdna said...

Homeopathy bears witness to the fact that there is more to ill health than linear cause and effect theory.

How exactly is this argument being made? Not to mention when people try to avoid the logical necessity of cause/effect for any kind of treatment system. They tend to eliminate their pet theory as a useful methodology as well. In this case homeopathy.

It may also be worth keeping an open mind about some of the myths of modern day medicine.

Which myths are those?

Here people are treated at a population level. So if your GP were to prescribe you a medicine to help prevent a stroke or a heart attack there is no guarantee whatsoever that it will do that for you as an individual.

Sure, under the assumption that a sample of your population represents the intrinsic differences between people (and not say between peoples diseases) there is no guarantee that a medicine will work. However there is a statistical upper bound for the likelihood that it wont.

You may develop side effects and live with having to take your medicines daily but you may not derive any benefit whatsoever as an individual.

If a patient is clinically unresponsive to therapy - it's completely rational for a doc to take them off it.

But the point isn't what EBM is it's what it's compared to. In homeopathy for example the upper bounds for the treatment not having clinical effect are so high it's ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I personally love this quote from quack watch. This is for all those that talk about money and the evils of big pharma:

"Oscillococcinum, a 200C product "for the relief of colds and flu-like symptoms," involves "dilutions" that are even more far-fetched. Its "active ingredient" is prepared by incubating small amounts of a freshly killed duck's liver and heart for 40 days. The resultant solution is then filtered, freeze-dried, rehydrated, repeatedly diluted, and impregnated into sugar granules. If a single molecule of the duck's heart or liver were to survive the dilution, its concentration would be 1 in 100200. This huge number, which has 400 zeroes, is vastly greater than the estimated number of molecules in the universe (about one googol, which is a 1 followed by 100 zeroes). In its February 17, 1997, issue, U.S. News & World Report noted that only one duck per year is needed to manufacture the product, which had total sales of $20 million in 1996. The magazine dubbed that unlucky bird "the $20-million duck."

http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/homeo.html

Anonymous said...

I like this cartoon! One thing that came to my mind regarding Pen Dingle is that her husband should probably be know as Dr. Peter DINGLEBERRY.

Werdna said...

But that doesn't change the fact that most people are going to trust someone that appears to care about them a LOT more than they trust an abstract concept like "double-blind study" and "peer reviewed."
This may well be a fact but that doesn't mean it's an immutable one. For me I'm kind of the opposite, I want to work with someone who knows their stuff and wants to do a good job. I don't really care if they care...or even like me. Perhaps as time goes on people will stop using the pretense of care as an proxy for increased likelihood of medical health. Just like how people are (slowly) realizing that something made on a printing press is no longer a reliable proxy for accuracy (if it ever was).

Chimel said...

Werdna said: Which would leave your reader believing that actual homeopathic medicines are at 2x.
I was of course referring to the dilution process, which is repeated again and again, up to 30 times, not to a finished product.

Thanks for your link on the placebo study, but administering homeopathy and placebo medicines while giving morphine after surgery hardly seems to be a standard case of homeopathy, that's why I and others suggested a different approach.

Anonymous said...

Firstly I should state that I am not a Homoeopath.

Secondly I would like to say that I am an allied health practitioner that has studied a Bachelor of Applied Science at University of Western Sydney in Australia-for which I have attained a distinction degree and a dean’s medal. (not trying to talk myself up- just trying to give you my background..)

I have studied Homoeopathy through the University as part of this degree and have some comments for you. (if ,indeed you are open to them- ‘anonymous’ characters seem to be belitteling and offending anyone who does not write supporting comments for your cartoon piece…….)

I do not intend to offend you in any way, so please bear this in mind.

1. There has actually been successful repeats of Jaques Benveniste’s research.
Madeleine Ennis, professor of Immunopharmacology at Queen’s University in Belfast has encountered successful repeats (That prove homoeopathy to have the biological action that practitioners claim). She was asked to join a multi centre European study to look at the effects of “highly dilute” solutions (well into the Homoeopathic range) of histamine on human Basophils.
Four independent research laboratories in France, Holland, Italy and Belgium were sent test tubes of either pure water or histamine at homoeopathic dilutions. They were not told which was which. The preparations were all prepared in three different laboratories that had nothing further to do with the trial. The entire experiment was also coordinated by an independent researcher who coded all the solutions and collated the data,In brief, full measures were taken to ensure that a robust non-bias experiment of high standard was carried out.ALL FOUR CENTRES FOUND THAT THE ULTRA DILUTE SOLUTIONS HAD BIOLOGIC EFFECTS THE SAME AS HISTAMINE ON BASOPHILS. The results were recorded to be statistically significant at three of the centres. Madeleine was a true sceptic of Homoeopathy prior to this research. (New Scientist, 2001 As if by magic.. 170.2292 May 26: p46.)
(Australia Homoeopathic Association NSW Branch Newsletter, number 69, 2001 May/June/July)

2. I have had many people directly tell me that homoeopathy has had a powerful and immediate effect on them. One case was of a nurse that was cured over-night of clinically diagnosed chronic fatigue by taking a Homoeopathic remedy. She was one of my lecturers at UWS and swears by Homoeopathy now.

I am also in contact with Homoeopaths who have taught at a tertiary level and whom I see as very dedicated and diligent practitioners (practicing Homoeopathy for over 30 yrs) who are not anti-orthodox medicine at all and whom have seen with their own eyes the indisputable fast healing effects of Homoeopathic remedies and continue their work because of this evidence.

3.If you study the work of Sammuel Hahnemann (The German physician who was the founder of Homoeopathy) you will find that the way he discovered the theories that make up the basis of Homoeopathy was through scientific methodology… truly you should read up on it!...The paradigm does not rely on Faith as you state in your cartoon, but rather on results proven by science!! It is the mechanism of action that remains a mystery..

4.It is known by Homoeopaths and skeptics alike that there is no scientifically plausible mechanism for Homoeopathy. Do we all really believe that the present knowledge base of science is static though? And that no new discoveries can test it?? Quantum Physics is breaking new fronters in science as we speak…
Furthermore the mechanisms of action of many commonly prescribed drugs are not understood, such as dexamphetamine in the treatment of ADHD. The failure to understand the mechanism of action of a therapeutic substance does not normally diminish the enthusiasm for its use. Why should this be the case for Homoeopathy?

Anonymous said...

Firstly I should state that I am not a Homoeopath.

Secondly I would like to say that I am an allied health practitioner that has studied a Bachelor of Applied Science at University of Western Sydney in Australia-for which I have attained a distinction degree and a dean’s medal. (not trying to talk myself up- just trying to give you my background..)

I have studied Homoeopathy through the University as part of this degree and have some comments for you. (if ,indeed you are open to them- ‘anonymous’ characters seem to be belitteling and offending anyone who does not write supporting comments for your cartoon piece…….)
I do not intend to offend you in any way, so please bear this in mind.
1. There has actually been successful repeats of Jaques Benveniste’s research.
Madeleine Ennis, professor of Immunopharmacology at Queen’s University in Belfast has encountered successful repeats (That prove homoeopathy to have the biological action that practitioners claim). She was asked to join a multi centre European study to look at the effects of “highly dilute” solutions (well into the Homoeopathic range) of histamine on human Basophils.
Four independent research laboratories in France, Holland, Italy and Belgium were sent test tubes of either pure water or histamine at homoeopathic dilutions. They were not told which was which. The preparations were all prepared in three different laboratories that had nothing further to do with the trial. The entire experiment was also coordinated by an independent researcher who coded all the solutions and collated the data,In brief, full measures were taken to ensure that a robust non-bias experiment of high standard was carried out.ALL FOUR CENTRES FOUND THAT THE ULTRA DILUTE SOLUTIONS HAD BIOLOGIC EFFECTS THE SAME AS HISTAMINE ON BASOPHILS. The results were recorded to be statistically significant at three of the centres. Madeleine was a true sceptic of Homoeopathy prior to this research. (New Scientist, 2001 As if by magic.. 170.2292 May 26: p46.)
(Australia Homoeopathic Association NSW Branch Newsletter, number 69, 2001 May/June/July)
2. I have had many people directly tell me that homoeopathy has had a powerful and immediate effect on them. One case was of a nurse that was cured over-night of clinically diagnosed chronic fatigue by taking a Homoeopathic remedy. She was one of my lecturers at UWS and swears by Homoeopathy now.
I am also in contact with Homoeopaths who have taught at a tertiary level and whom I see as very dedicated and diligent practitioners (practicing Homoeopathy for over 30 yrs) who are not anti-orthodox medicine at all and whom have seen with their own eyes the indisputable fast healing effects of Homoeopathic remedies and continue their work because of this evidence.

Anonymous said...

you're cartoon is total bullshit and if you had any intelligence at all you would actually try to understand things in depth before tacking together such bias crap.

Anonymous said...

Firstly I should state that I am not a Homoeopath.

Secondly I would like to say that I am an allied health practitioner that has studied a Bachelor of Applied Science at University of Western Sydney in Australia-for which I have attained a distinction degree and a dean’s medal. (not trying to talk myself up- just trying to give you my background..)

I have studied Homoeopathy through the University as part of this degree and have some comments for you. (if ,indeed you are open to them- ‘anonymous’ characters seem to be belitteling and offending anyone who does not write supporting comments for your cartoon piece…….)

I do not intend to offend you in any way, so please bear this in mind.

Anonymous said...

1. There has actually been successful repeats of Jaques Benveniste’s research.
Madeleine Ennis, professor of Immunopharmacology at Queen’s University in Belfast has encountered successful repeats (That prove homoeopathy to have the biological action that practitioners claim). She was asked to join a multi centre European study to look at the effects of “highly dilute” solutions (well into the Homoeopathic range) of histamine on human Basophils.
Four independent research laboratories in France, Holland, Italy and Belgium were sent test tubes of either pure water or histamine at homoeopathic dilutions. They were not told which was which. The preparations were all prepared in three different laboratories that had nothing further to do with the trial. The entire experiment was also coordinated by an independent researcher who coded all the solutions and collated the data,In brief, full measures were taken to ensure that a robust non-bias experiment of high standard was carried out.ALL FOUR CENTRES FOUND THAT THE ULTRA DILUTE SOLUTIONS HAD BIOLOGIC EFFECTS THE SAME AS HISTAMINE ON BASOPHILS. The results were recorded to be statistically significant at three of the centres. Madeleine was a true sceptic of Homoeopathy prior to this research. (New Scientist, 2001 As if by magic.. 170.2292 May 26: p46.)
(Australia Homoeopathic Association NSW Branch Newsletter, number 69, 2001 May/June/July)

Anonymous said...

2. I have had many people directly tell me that homoeopathy has had a powerful and immediate effect on them. One case was of a nurse that was cured over-night of clinically diagnosed chronic fatigue by taking a Homoeopathic remedy. She was one of my lecturers at UWS and swears by Homoeopathy now.

I am also in contact with Homoeopaths who have taught at a tertiary level and whom I see as very dedicated and diligent practitioners (practicing Homoeopathy for over 30 yrs) who are not anti-orthodox medicine at all and whom have seen with their own eyes the indisputable fast healing effects of Homoeopathic remedies and continue their work because of this evidence.

3.If you study the work of Sammuel Hahnemann (The German physician who was the founder of Homoeopathy) you will find that the way he discovered the theories that make up the basis of Homoeopathy was through scientific methodology… truly you should read up on it!...The paradigm does not rely on Faith as you state in your cartoon, but rather on results proven by science!! It is the mechanism of action that remains a mystery..

Anonymous said...

4.It is known by Homoeopaths and skeptics alike that there is no scientifically plausible mechanism for Homoeopathy. Do we all really believe that the present knowledge base of science is static though? And that no new discoveries can test it?? Quantum Physics is breaking new fronters in science as we speak…
Furthermore the mechanisms of action of many commonly prescribed drugs are not understood, such as dexamphetamine in the treatment of ADHD. The failure to understand the mechanism of action of a therapeutic substance does not normally diminish the enthusiasm for its use. Why should this be the case for Homoeopathy?

Anonymous said...

5. It is true that the number of successful Homoeoapthic trials is relatively small, the numbers of people participating in the trials is often relatively small and few trials have been replicated. This is I believe because unlike drugs, Homoeopathic medicines cannot be patented, so there is little incentive to invest the large quantities of money that drug companies often spend to mount large clinical trials if the sponsors cannot monopolise the results.
Surveys have also found that only 10-20% of all medical procedures have been validated by controlled clinical trials and yet there is this now age old dispute that Homoeopathy should have to be validated in this way to compare with orthodox medicine (Fluhrer, J. Intergrative practice Overview. Journal of Complementary Medicine 2002 1 (2) p 33-35)
Trials however have been conducted and have shown results that Homoeopathic medicines can have as strong an effect if not a superior effect to some Orthodox medicines. Below are two refrences-
(FrieseK, Kruse S et al.The Homoeopathic treatment of otisis media in children. International Journal of clinical pharmacology and therapeutics. 1997;35 (7) 296-302.
( Riley D. Fischer M et al. Homoeopathy and conventional medicine: An outcome study comparing effectiveness in primary care settings. Journal Alternative and complementary medicine 2001;7(2) 123-5)

Anonymous said...

Your argument that Homoeoapthic practitioners put people at danger by steering people away from orthodox medicine does not seem to be the case here in Sydney Australia. ALL the practitioners I have met (whether trained at Universities or private colleges) are very supportive of integrative medicine and refer to doctors in cases that need urgent invasive therapies (such as surgery).
Another point to note is that iatrogenic (medically induced) disease accounts for 250 000 deaths every year (12 000 from unnecessary surgey,7000 from medication errors in hospitals, 80 000 from infections aquired in hospitals, 106 000 from the negative effects of drugs.( Starfield B Journal of the American Medical Association 2000;284.p483-485)

Gene said...

And no discussion of homeopathy is complete without Mitchell and Webb:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMGIbOGu8q0

Greg Smeg said...

Absolutely fantastic yet again! One suggestion for added impact on just how diluted most homeopathic preparations are would be to comicstrip-ise Ben Goldacre's youtube video.

Great work, keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Why is everyone saying that homeopathy can't cure anything? Dehydration kills, people!

Anonymous said...

Anyone who was saying that homepathy alongside real medicine is completely harmless is incorrect - what about the price for it? $50 for a bottle of water, plus whatever they charge for their consultations, is money pissed down the drain.

If there really is a benefit to talking about their illness and being heard, there are a number of "survivor" groups that meet in most cities, the majority of which are free, or nearly free. And they come with free coffee usually, too! All the benefits of water.. at the actual price water costs.. with an ingredient inside it that actually *can* affect the functioning of your body - caffeine!

Fridde said...

I dilute my evening Scotch with 70% still water (no ice!). I drink 70% of the liquid in the glass and then I add water up to the original liquid level. I drink 70% of the liquid, dilute again as above some 7 or 8 times around. In a drunken stupor, I fall into bed to wake up next morning with a terrible hangover. Luckily, there is still some liquid in my glass from yesterday. I fill it up with water (now, ice would be nice !) and I have the most marvellous pick-me-up drink, a hair-of-the-dog-that-bit-me potion. My hangover dissolves immediately and the whole procedure keeps my weekly overall Scotch bill quite reasonable.

F said...

"The process of dilution continues until it's highly unlikely that a single molecule of the active ingredient remains in the potion."

Well, that's impossible, isn't it? ;)

I think what you mean is that it is highly unlikely that a single molecule of the active ingredient remains in any given dose.

But either way, it doesn't matter, right? Because water remembers the active ingredient anyway, even if you were to chemically remove all of it. (Tee hee. :^0 )

Excluded Layman said...

Regarding Maddox' investigation (feat. James Randi) of Benveniste: According to this BBC Horizon documentary, it wasn't samples that were taped to the ceiling, it was the 'answer' key for the randomization of samples. (see: part 2/4 5:54/10:51)

Larian LeQuella said...

Yet another brilliant summary. Too bad that "and she died. The End" won't be the end...

Anonymous said...

Homeopathy does have at least one verifiable effect. That effect is that a guy like Dana Ullman gets to live in a nice house.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tall guy said...

Dear Allied Health Practice. Australia.

I've not interfered with this comment thread at all, except in one exception (which was a spambot ad that got through somehow). I've censored nothing. I'm keen to know what people think. Feel free to try again.

Darryl

Gary said...

Thanks very much. The graphic story approach is great. And when it comes down to it, evidence is important. There is no evidence that homeopathy does what is says it does. The fact that there may be placebo or psychologically positive effects is nice...but it would be useful to move beyond magic and superstition in how we treat ourselves (don't get me going on religion).

Anonymous said...

Some people seem to be trying to invoke quantum physics as a way to explain that homeopathy works, and as a physicist I'm quiet appalled. What those who are trying to say we need to look at, non-newtonian physics, seem to want to use string theory, which does not explain how this dilution works, but is also not a true scientific theory. String theory can not predict anything that can be tested, and thus is not a true theory. It seems like many of the homeopaths talk about the vibrations of the active agents being imprinted on the water molecules, but if we were to use the assumption of the string theorist, that would mean that the vibration of the water molecules would have changed, and thus they would no longer be water molecules and would be something completely different. Physics and medical physics are always pushing the bounds of what we know and understand, but what any well respected researcher would tell you is that until homeopathy can be rigorously tested don't rely on it. Sure try it along with what ever else your doctor prescribes as long as it won't have any harmful effects. The placebo effect is a wonderful thing, and if it gives you the feeling that you are doing something proactive great, but don't claim that physics, quantum or otherwise, is able to explain why homeopathy "works".

Anonymous said...

Actually, ALL WATER has touched ALL OTHER WATER, so ALL WATER is the most potent form of homeopathic medicine. Thus, every time you take a drink, all your illnesses and diseases will go away.

Unfortunately, they don't.

Mrs Grimble said...

Dana Ullman:"If the homeopathic interview (which can last 60 minutes) is the primary therapy (rather than the homeopathic medicine itself), then psychotherapists and counselors would be our leading healers. Therapists spend 50 minutes (or so) at least once a week, and therefore, such "treatments" would be effective in treating various physical ailments, not just psychological ones. And yet, we all know that this is NOT true."
Dana, Dana, Dana - people don't go to counsellors and psychotherapists to be cured of physical illnesses. Generally speaking, such people are perfectly healthy; so when they get depressed or whatever, they ascribe a psychological cause and go to the appropriate therapist. So there is no physical ailment for them to recover from.
I would have thought that such a successful businessperson would be capable of thinking that through for themselves.

Anonymous said...

Scaryduck said...

Wrong - Homeopathy cannot cure Anything


Surely it is an effective cure for thirst? (Or low blood sugar, if you take it as sugar pills).

Lisa said...

Yes, there are some benefits to acupuncture, which is not under discussion here. This is about homeopathy, which has killed uncounted thousands who decided that taking highly diluted (and extremely expensive) substances save them.

Bravo, Darryl. Please keep up the good work.

Tom P. said...

The one good thing is that it is very difficult to overdose on homeopathic medicines.

Anonymous said...

The author could show more balance by including the fact that while using homeopathy exclusively and ignoring traditional medicine can be dangerous, there are countless people (like myself) that use homeopathy for situations where traditional medicine does not offer good treatments.

For example--bruising and muscle soreness. There is absolutely no doubt Arnica is a fabulous tool for muscle soreness and the fact that it works fantastically on HORSES suggests this is not a placebo effect. I have had countless situations where Arnica has provided great relief including soreness after a serious car wreck. Another mom and I were in a truck that flipped over when the horse trailer went into a sway and we put on the gel and took the pills right afterward. She was a physician's wife and didn't really believe it would help (I think she just wanted to humor me and knew it couldn't hurt). The paramedics told us we would be very sore the next day but neither of us were (despite having sore necks at the time of the wreck).

I have also had good luck with homeopathy for minor stomach distress.

The attitudes the author expresses can also be harmful. One time my son developed a high fever. I gave him some homeopathic treatments early on when it was just starting, and switched to traditional fever reducers when his temp went on up. When I took him to the doctor on call, he was from India. He asked, of course, what I had given my son. When he heard the homeopathic treatment mentioned he went into a rage and railed about people dying in India because they don't use traditional medicine etc.--totally ignoring that I had just used traditional fever reducers and taken my son to a conventional physician. I didn't need this doctor yelling at me about the dangers of homeopathy.

Anonymous said...

The arnica-gel described above probably was NOT homeopathy, but fytotherapy. The arnica in the gel was most probably not diluted to a state of near nothingness as is the case in homeopathy.

fytotherapy should be clearly distinguished from homeopathy, even though the general public might not be quite aware of the distinction.

Cobalt said...

It's certainly true that pharmaceutical companies make a profit from the misfortune and desperation of sick people. I will concede this, just like every pharmacist I know concedes this. Every for-profit industry whose market is the ill or ailing has the exact same nasty side.

Here's the difference for me. "Big pharma" is regulated, which means that they can get in trouble for selling products which are ineffective or dangerous. "Big herbal" (which, despite the anti-establishment paranoia of its biggest fans, is also a for-profit industry) is not. So what's the real difference?

The real difference is that while both of these industries work by squeezing as much money as possible out of desperate people, "big herbal" companies can do it without having to prove that their products are safe and effective, and with comparatively few consequences for killing their patients (and that's saying something, considering the pittance slap-on-the-wrist fines that pharmaceutical companies seem to get hit with).

I'm so sick of seeing "big pharma" trotted out as evidence that science-based medicine is a nasty profit-driven exploitative mess. Sure, it may be, but how much worse would "big pharma" be if they did what they do without chemists or pharmacists on staff? How much worse would "big pharma" be if all they had on staff (and all they were required to have on staff) were functional laymen? (If you think I'm kidding, check out the package for Airborne. Developed by a teacher, and marketed to you in the hopes that you will give the company money for nothing. Personally, give me remedies developed by scientists.)

The medical industry is bad, but imagine if they didn't have to have scientists around practicing. Imagine if we didn't have licensing boards. Imagine if we didn't have an FDA to check their numbers. They'd be much worse. They'd be "big herbal," and that's why I find homeopathy and other quack medicine to be so offensive. It's not just that it's silly. It's that it's an industry full of people who are willing to risk the lives and health and hopes of sick people for the chance to sell them something that nobody has any reason to believe will help them. That's what's sick.

Cobalt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cobalt said...
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Anonymous said...

Take it from someone whose mother is a homeopath: homeopaths are crazy.

Anonymous said...

If water has memory, then why not just drink tap water that would also have "memory" of all things it has ever come into contact with?

Susan said...

I would be interested in knowing what diseases have been scientifically proven to be CAUSED by stress. That stress can exacerbate symptoms is undeniable, but CAUSE a disease? I have never seen conclusive evidence proving this hypothesis. And yet, doctors lecture their patients about "stress" without knowing what the acceptable level is or when it becomes harmful. There is no stress-free life, just like (eventually) there is no disease free life. I think this "stress causes disease" is just another correlation masquerading as causation. It is dangerous because it allows doctors to blame the patient for the symptoms and avoid figuring out complicated diagnoses.

Ask anyone who has ever been diagnosed with a condition such as lupus or MS how many times they were sent away with superficial empathy and advice to reduce stress? You know what really reduces stress? Having an explanation for terrible symptoms. The average time to diagnose a disease such as lupus is 10 years. 10 years from the first complaint to a doctor. Attributing everything to stress is dangerous and not supported by science. I'd love to see an expose cartoon on that.

Anonymous said...

Nothing finer than the logical fallacies that get trotted out to defend homeopathy and condemn modern medicine.

To those of you who have had success with homeopathic remedies - have any of you ever questioned that you may have been receiving active pharmaceuticals in your supposedly 'homeopathic' brew?

Anyone remember Zicam?

I'm sure we'll have the apologists back here shortly to excuse it as "No True Scotsman."

Anonymous said...

Considering my own experience with science based, evidence based, western medicine, (thanks for my tetracycline stained adult teeth, which I have from when (early 1960s) my family doctor still prescribed taking tetracycline for asthma and allergies).

While I'm cynical about homeopathy, I'm not at all often impressed with most of the science based, evidence based, health care, and otherwise even more so, the drugs, doctors prescribe to me.

Especially when a doctor starts giving me drug samples like I'm a kid and I'm getting stuff from the doctor's adult version candy drawer.

Yet as I have great health insurance and a few dollar co-pay on all prescription drugs with no cap, I'll bother to get the drug prescribed to me from a local big box pharmacy.

When I wade through the small print and warnings on drugs enclosed information pages or mini booklet (nice that it's in 6 or 8 point font size), most of my prescription drugs have various side effects, (wonderful, I told the doctor the last drug he prescribed, which I tried, made me extremely dizzy, great, this new one potentially will it too), along with (often unmentioned) synergistic reactions to other drugs, some of which can be toxic or reduce one drugs effectiveness when taken with another drug.

Basically, western medicine is still a crap shoot. Especially when pharmaceutical companies are concerned with profit over consumer safety and the FDA is often no more than a rubber stamp rather than an independent party.

Thank you to the hospitals and clinics which have banned drug company or their vendor's free lunches, workshops, sporting venues, gifts, perks, incentives, kickbacks ... I'm more than a tad leery now when a western medicine science evidence based doctor is suggesting that I take this or that prescription drug.

Why? For how long? What are the positives? Negatives? Etc.

Also I love these new electronic records which, of course, never, ever, have any mistakes in them. Only good thing about the electronic records is one can find the mistakes easier than in doctor's cryptic handwriting handwritten older records. Though doctors, nurses, HMOs still don't like when I point out their errors and mistakes even in their new electronic records.

Problem is with too much western evidence science based medicine. It's too profit driven and it's arrogant. Doctors aren't gods. And they do, do, make mistakes.

Cobalt said...

The profit motive has nasty effects. I don't think anybody will argue that. However, it still makes a huge difference to me that while both pharmaceutical and supplement companies are both out to squeeze me for all my money, at least the greed of pharmaceutical companies is tempered by the desire (or more appropriately the requirement) to prove that they're actually selling something.

Supplement producers suffer from the same mercenary greed as all other for-profit industries whose target market is sick people. They, however, have far greater freedom to take money for absolutely nothing. As bad as "big pharma" can be, supplement companies are definitely worse in the damage they cause and their willingness to cause for for a high pricetag.

Cobalt said...

Typo: At the end that should have read, "and their willingness to cause more."

Anonymous said...

Sure, trust big pharma. Not to suppress anything bad.

Studies in which drug companies control the data without an independent analysis open the door to manipulation.

http://www.jsonline.com/features/health/95198129.html

More:

http://www.ahrp.org/cms/content/view/545/150/

http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=us_health_care_tmln&drug_industry

http://whistleblower.typepad.com/all_things_whistleblower_/2009/10/expert-drug-studies-commonly-ghostwritten-by-big-pharma.html

And, lots more, research it.

Anonymous said...

You do a good job with the first part of the comic strip, the part where you explain the theory behind homeopathy. I think it would be better if, in the second part of the cartoon, you were more questioning rather than dismissive.
We don't really know what happens at the submolecular level, and we don't have a good way to test homeopathy as remedies are individualized. But I think an open mind is an important part of science! And I have had homeopathic remedies work for me. Try some arnica the next time you think you will get a bad bruise. Do I know why it works? No. But I don't think it's a placebo either.

Anonymous said...

I guess the article was started right, but latter it lost all touch with reality.
I have homeopathy work for me all my life inclusing my sinus - where allopathy med never gave me much relief.
I dont know how it works but then i again dont know how allopathy meds work either, but yes homeopathy does work and its not placebo.
It may not replace the option for surgery or vaccination, but as a form of medicine it does work.

Lisa said...

To the last commenter:

Of course it's the placebo affect. Homeopathy works for you because you believe it will work and want it to work.

I'm glad that it works for your sinuses. I only hope that you don't turn to homeopathy if you develop cancer, heart disease, or something more serious than sinus problems. It may make you feel better, but you certainly won't be cured.

Sorry.

Tracy said...

You are unfortunately preaching to the choir. I can see too clearly what your opinion is, which is not in favor of alternative medicine.

The people who are in favor of alternative medicine are not going to listen to this for exactly that reason.

You did not go into why SOME of the samples managed to cause an allergic reaction. No one seems to know the answer to that one. It may not be reliable, but in some cases diluted samples were able to cause an allergic reaction! What does that mean? You argue it means nothing.

Believers in alternative medicine think otherwise.

You will not convince any one of those people of your point without addressing that.

I suggest approaching these strips of yours from the standpoint of someone who wonders about the little mysteries around the edges of these 'well known facts' you do such a great job of illustrating.

Cobalt said...

Tracy:

"You cannot reason a person out of a position he did not reason himself into in the first place." -Jonathan Swift

Sadly, this is where I think discussing superstitions like homeopathic "medicine" generally ends up. You have people who are debating rationally and using evidence, and trying to persuade people who just don't really care to make medical decisions that way. They didn't reason themselves into a belief in homeopathy, so they probably won't be reasoned out of it. =/

Calli Arcale said...

Tracy:
"You did not go into why SOME of the samples managed to cause an allergic reaction."

It's called a false positive. Also, I think you're talking about the Benveniste research, and describing it as "an allergic reaction" is not exactly accurate. They were looking at histamine, but an allergy is more than that (and histamine is involved in more than just allergies). You should read the actual studies (methodology, especially) to understand exactly what they were doing, and why some false positives can be expected.

(Unfortunately, there is not a simple "allergic response!" marker that can be tested in a study like this one, so you have to look for patterns rather than just some nice convenient flag.)

Hammer01 said...

I'm surprised, the use of John Maddox with out even the mention of Masaru Emoto or other studies on water memory.
You should consider him as he is the front runner on water memory. But he might not get your point across as directly due to his lack of dramatic claims, and we can't have the homeopaths winning right?

I'm being sarcastic of course because your pragmatic views towards homeopathy contradict the scientific method by which you swear. Granted the cartoon is aimed at a target audience of 'believers' and things can get heated (which probably the motivation for this cartoon).
Of course your scientific vendetta against homeopathy is based on truth but is lacking all of it. Your argument is based on simple logic, not science. Your identification of a spurious relationship between homeopathy and psychotherapy is not founded either.

Marina said...

I have relatives who are both medical doctors and alternative healers, and I've noticed that each lacks something the other doesn't.

Science is a method. It is not a set of results. As such, it is strange, as some commentators noted, to oppose western medicine, which is a specific history of science, and a very specific theory of alternative medicine.

I do not believe that dilution holds many of the answers. But I also don't think that endless venting of negative energy at strangers online makes us look all that stable. Maybe some talk therapy, y'all? Or some homeopathy, then? Seems like your favorite, science, says it's been proven to help.

What homeopathy does right is that it looks at the body holistically. In modern Western Medicine, even an Internist-- who we are taught to think of as a generalist, as they are called GPs- is working in such a compartmentalized way that s/he is much more likely to identify and solve problems mostly at the scientific level, potentially at the expense of the patient's emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

(Here, we scoff. Emotional wellbeing, we say, what hippie bullshit. But by emotional wellbeing, I mean, not mentally ill, and by spiritual wellbeing, I mean, not spiritually ill. It's strange to me that we can acknowledge that the scientific method is based on the existence of the placebo effect, the idea that feeling healed can help with healing, and then we make hospitals look about as healing as your average tire factory.

Emotional health is based in the chemical balance of your brain, and while it's unclear whether we'll ever find a chemical basis for spiritual tranquility, it is not inconceivable. I hate that we are so conditioned to diminish the emotional as if it were shameful or weird, a 'lesser' field. If homeopathy helps people psychologically, that is actually MUCH more complex than the idea that water rememberst things, and still not fully understood by science. Even the earliest psychoactive drugs are still not fully understood, in terms of their effects on the brain.

Okay, this is a digression, but many of you "scientific"-minded refuters of homeopathy sound extremely mentally unstable, or at least aggressively unhappy/not concerned with the emotions of others. This is not science.)

I went through 11 rounds of antibiotics for a sinus infection and was lined up for surgery to remove it before I (skeptically) let my Reiki healer mother take me to her acupressure/acupuncturist. Because I was an undergraduate (studying biology) at the time, I had seen 11 different western doctors for those antibiotics, and each one just increased the dose.

I was in increasing amounts of pain from sinus pressure, and my infection wasn't responding to drugs. At one point, one of the antibiotics halted the production of mucus in my esophagus and I found myself writhing in pain as my stomach acid began to digest my esophagus. Lovely! I rushed to the hospital and saw another GP who cussed out the GPs who'd prescribed such large doses.

The acupuncturist pushed on my head, from the back, and my vision improved and my pain diminished. "All of this pressure inside your sinuses was actually distending your head, here," she said. It was that simple. It was about thinking of my problem as not JUST my sinuses, but in terms of how it affected the rest of my body, too, and about my experience of pain.

It was much more useful than the antibiotics had been, and less costly. Eventually, I had surgery, which fixed the problem most expensively. But wouldn't it be ideal if there were some middle ground, some more attention to the patient's experience from Western medicine?

Cobalt said...

"Okay, this is a digression, but many of you "scientific"-minded refuters of homeopathy sound extremely mentally unstable, or at least aggressively unhappy/not concerned with the emotions of others. This is not science."

And this... *points up* ...is rude. Pot, this is kettle.

Ian said...

1. The burden of proof falls more heavily on the party that makes the ontologically positive claim, or a claim that is far removed from conventionally accepted facts. Therefore, the burden of proof rests on advocates of homeopathy. Until sufficient evidence that homeopathy works can be provided (and its mechanisms explained) advocates of homeopathy CANNOT expect that anyone scrutinizing their arguments will take them seriously. This is not scientific narrow-mindedness on the part homeopathy's skeptics; it is subjecting homeopathy to the same rigorous standards that every other theory, especially scientific, must meet. If one claims water has a memory, one must provide substantial evidence (and clearly, when dealing with the physical properties of chemical substances, this evidence must be material and reproducible). Since this mechanism hasn't been adequately explained, that's one strike against homeopathy. Simply evoking the most ambiguous fields of research in modern day physics is not enough. If one is to suggest quantum mechanics are the cause of homeopathy's effects, one must then explain THAT statement. Creating a middle man like this is known as the Homonculus Fallacy.
2. Saying "there are a lot of things we don't understand yet" is a specious argument and is plain sophistry. There are a lot of things we don't understand. But science based medicine understands cancer and disease much more than proponents of homeopathy. Medicine is not simply guesswork. It has years of study behind it. The other has one theory that hasn't been sufficiently proved yet. Shouldn't this be a cause of concern for homeopathists?
3. Post hoc, egro propter hoc. Simply because one is taking homeopathic treatment and one's symptoms then disappear is not necessarily meaningful. The events are correlated but not necessarily causally related.There could be other people that take homeopathic treatments and still suffer their symptoms. The symptoms being treated could have cleared up on their own. Chronic fatigue? That could have been anything. I stay up late and am therefore tired all day. It's not mystical or something. Listing only positive stories is, as you say, cherry picking. We know the vast majority of science based medicine works, because we can see bacteria and the antibiotics working on them, and chemotherapy having notable effects on cancer cells.
4. Some of the chemicals doctors use have harsh side effects, yes. But side effects are not always prevalent in medicine. If a medicine has more harmful side effects than positive results, it is taken off the market. Everything used by modern medicine today remains for certain reasons. Simply because it has occasional bad effects does not rule out its countless successes. Bringing up the losses of medicine is a red herring argument. You still have to explain homeopathy before you attack science based medicine.
5. Inevitably, defending homeopathy leads to special pleading. Proponents of homeopathy cannot assume that literally nobody has the qualifications necessary to comprehend their point of view. If both physicists AND doctors, who study their respective fields quite thoroughly, find homeopathy to be ludicrous and factually riddled with errors, then proponents of homeopathy should find themselves quite worried about the strength of their arguments. Anecdotal evidence is not enough and never will be. IF IT WORKED FOR YOU, IT DOES NOT FOLLOW THAT IT WORKS FOR ALL OTHERS. This is true for medicine too! Your doctors did not promise you that antibiotics would work. You could have had an antibiotic resistant strain of bacteria. Imagine how praiseworthy you would have been of medicine if your bacterial infection wasn't resistant to drugs!
...And, maybe I'd be more praising of homeopathy if I experienced positive results with it. But I couldn't expect others to think that one anecdote is sufficient evidence that it even works. I'm only one person.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

In this comment section: Trolls trolling trolls.

Anonymous said...

Hello,
Loved the comic. Good luck with your readers and their British or American spelling biases.
I wanted to comment on how homeopathic supporters rationalize homeopathy's success or failure. We've a homeopathy in the family, and we try not to discuss it at family gatherings anymore. Basically, a homeopathic cure is working whether you get better or worse. The rationale is that the remedy works differently depending on the person, the exact nature of the symptoms, and the million other minutae. In this way homeopaths can maintain a sense of hope. Homeopaths use stories about people who were cured of every imaginable illness to convince us of its efficacy. But anecdotes are not proof. Homeopaths like to think that they are special, and they often engage in magical thinking. You point about "What is the problem with placebo?" is right on - placebo "treatments" get in the way of people getting real, proven treatment with predictable outcomes.
Thank you for your work!

Bill Stewart said...

Your comic is a good presentation about the stereotyped quacks who anti-homeopaths think represent homeopathy. (Nice ducks, by the way :-) It's not actually that inaccurate a stereotype for many of them, but there's more to it than that and they're not all quacks. Homeopathy is a bogus theory followed by 200 years of not-scientifically-run trial and error, but sometimes practitioners have found treatments that do help symptoms. They don't have the germ theory of disease, so they're not going to fix the root causes of most problems, but there are conditions like allergies where fixing the symptoms is really all you care about. Until Tamiflu came around, the Flu was another such problem - vaccines help prevent them, but if you actually got the flu anyway, Real Medicine didn't have much to offer except managing the symptoms until your body gets better. "Alpha CF" is a homeopathic pill that has a variety of ingredients, including enough ipecac that you know it hasn't been diluted into a mere memory, and I've found that it improves my flu symptoms to the extent that I feel bad instead of horrible, and that's enough to be a really good start.

I'm surprised the homeopaths in the survey didn't approve of vaccination - you'd think they'd be claiming that vaccination was an example of homeopathy, along with allergy desensitization shots. After all, they look similar enough to homeopathic techniques and actually work. I guess they don't sell well enough to the quackery-seeking public?

Jeremy said...

I like the cartoon (came here via Pharyngula) but the thing that made my day was the alt-med apologist who said "...that does not know anything about e.g. post-Newton physics."

That is so true. Maybe the reason conventional scientists have yet to grasp the complexities of homeopathy is that they are not using these cutting-edge physics. To be fair post Newton physics are pretty new, literally withing the last three centuries.


Post-Newtonian physics! It's water; that's all you need to know about homeopathy!

Homeopathy NYC said...

It should be mentioned that Benveniste's experiment, replicable or not, has no relevance to the clinical practice of homeopathy, at least in any classical sense, and cannot be viewed either way as evidence for or against the efficacy of homeopathy in practice.

Eileen Rhoadarmer said...

page 7, proper grammar would be "neither consistent NOR convincing."

Great strip. Thanks!

Iqbal said...

The comic strip is interesting but suffers from few inaccuracies and shows ignorance of Mr. Darryl Cunningham of the Homeopathic medical system. The basis used by him to deride the homeopathic system is the information picked up from the internet that is written by laymen, scientific medicine system and the basic laws of chemistry and physics.

Let us look at some of the comments made in the comic strip:
To affect a cure chemical molecule must be present in the medicine: This is inference from the rule of chemistry. The assumption here is that the body reacts to only chemicals and therefore adding the desired chemical to the human body in the right quantity will correct the action of the organ or destroy the disease producing virus.
It has been proved many times over, that this assumption can at best be correct over the short term only. Drugs correct one imbalance and start a new problem (side effects at times fatal- Vioxx) or the problem resurfaces once the effect of drug wears off (headache and aspirin) or the virus can after a period of drug action becomes resistant to the drug.
Antihistamines and decongestants are medicines given for cold and prescribed for upper respiratory diseases like common cold, feverish cold, sore throat and flu-like illnesses. These antibiotics if prescribed in viral infection settings change the immune system of the recipient to make the person more prone to asthma in later life.
Penicillin killed 95% of the germ streptococcus in the initial stage, today 95% of the same are resistant to penicillin. We also know about the resurgence of Tuberculosis in the world. At one time it was thought to be curable with the invention of antibiotics. We now have “super bugs” that are resistant to most antibiotics.
The basic rule of chemistry failed. Germs learned the laws of Chemistry.

Iqbal said...

This is what a doctor trained in scientific medicine has to say about the science behind the scientific medical system:
“The sub-atomic world does not conform to linear mathematical laws being followed by medical researchers. It is time we changed to the new science of non-linearity to get better results in medical research.
Modern medicine, in its present form, was accepted as a science in the European Universities in the twelfth century. Ever since that time medicine has been riding piggyback on natural sciences. The latter depend on linear mathematics. All that science does is to make mathematical models of the happenings of this universe to explain them and then hope the formulae, thus derived, would work in real life situations. This happens very rarely in reality. Mathematical formulae are accurate in themselves, but when applied to the dynamic universe they go wrong. This is the bane of modern medical science and research."
If this is so, then insisting that all medicines be chemicals is a foolish assumption. Also the human body falls ill not only because of chemicals. If you change your sleep pattern, stomach disorder starts. It is now theorized that sleep deprivation can actually kill!
Mental patients get attacks on the new moon day- surely moon does not alter the chemical balance in a human body? Which law of physics applies here? Blood flow in veins does not follow the law of fluid motion in capillaries.
For mathematics, the foundation of all science, Einstein said “Insofar as the propositions of mathematics give an account of reality, they are not certain; and insofar as they are certain, they do not describe reality.”

Iqbal said...

Mr. Cunningham, are you a doctor? What is your experience with the conventional drugs? Do you have some experience with homeopathic medicines?
There are many such issues related to the human body that do not follow the laws of science as we understand them. To measure homeopathy medicine against chemical drugs is incorrect comparison. The requirement from a medicine is that it should cure an ailment. This has to be checked. Homeopathic doctors routinely handle cases of typhoid, malaria, fevers of many kinds’ stomach disorders, eczema and skin diseases etc. And effect cure with homeopathic medicines.
Homeopathic doctors create placebo affect by taking history of the patient and these sessions can last up to an hour!
This is not true and it again shows the ignorance on part of Mr. Cunningham. Case histories take time for doctors when they start new practise. They follow the prescribed text books and they take time, at times more than an hour. Over period of time as the doctor gains experience in asking question and linking remedies the case time drops. Many senior homeopathic doctors see over 200 patients every day in 10 hour period. This would average less than 5 minutes per patient. What is the placebo effect here? These are generally successful doctors who have cured many patients.
The cures attributed to homeopathic treatment are self limiting diseases. This is a wrong statement. Majority of time, patients first approach the conventional doctor. It is only when desperation sets in because of no improvement seen in the illness that alternative methods are tried. If it was a self limiting illness, the timing was bad as the illness goes away once a course of homeopathic medicines starts.
If a patient visits a homeopath doctor, the disease severity increases and the patient can die. This is a misleading statement. In US alone 225,000 people die every year because of medical intervention of which 100,000 die because of drug side effects! Nearly 3 million suffer from chronic problems because of medical intervention. The book “The truth about Drug companies” by Marcia Angell, former editor-in chief, the New England Journal of Medicine is an eye opener. Mr. Cunningham do you read such books?

Iqbal said...

Mr. Cunningham, are you a doctor? What is your experience with the conventional drugs? Do you have some experience with homeopathic medicines? There are many such issues related to the human body that do not follow the laws of science as we understand them. To measure homeopathy medicine against chemical drugs is incorrect comparison. The requirement from a medicine is that it should cure an ailment. This has to be checked. Homeopathic doctors routinely handle cases of typhoid, malaria, fevers of many kinds’ stomach disorders, eczema and skin diseases etc. And effect cure with homeopathic medicines.
Homeopathic doctors create placebo affect by taking history of the patient and these sessions can last up to an hour! This is not true and it again shows the ignorance on part of Mr. Cunningham. Case histories take time for doctors when they start new practise. They follow the prescribed text books and they take time, at times more than an hour. Over period of time as the doctor gains experience in asking question and linking remedies the case time drops. Many senior homeopathic doctors see over 200 patients every day in 10 hour period. This would average less than 5 minutes per patient. These are generally successful doctors who have cured many patients.
What is the placebo effect here?

Anonymous said...

Yeah well I know some people who are into Homeopathy and they do not care about evidence. I try to tell them but they get nasty and shut me down. I'm worried for them though. If my ex-girlfriend drops dead on Homeopathic remedies I'm going to be so angry.

Chris said...

Wow. What a bunch of non-sense.

Who are you Cunnigham?

It is funny how all these people posting anti-homeopathic non-sense have no scientific credentials and have absoluetly no knowledge of the scientific literature.

Getting to the heart of his accusations, there is a large body of both in vitro and animal study evidence which affirms the positive effects of homeopathic remedies compared to controls - a very large body of evidence. Benveniste is simply one of hundreds.

And by the way the description of the Nature follow up experiment is incredibly misleading. Is it scientific to have Randi (a magician) involved? That is the utmost in non-science - him in the laboratory playing his tricks.

Some of the more recent in vitro evidence is from Luc Montagne, discoverer of the HIV virus. He demonstrated conclusively the activity of homeopathic remedies in vitro. But maybe he isn't as scientifically adept as Cunningham.

Get you story straight Cunningham. You say "all evidence points to homeopathic remedies being inert and no more effective than a placebo." You are so dead wrong and this statement displays your totally unscientific mind. To date there have been 142 randomized controlled clinical trials of homeopathy. 6 times as many (63) have found in favor of homeopathy as against (11). That's right 6 to 1 in favor of homeopathy for all controlled clinical trials to date.

It is true that many of these trials (68) have been inconclusive. For amateurs like Cunnihngham, this is usually due to lack of statistical power due to to small cohort size. This reflects the fact that homeopathic research is not adequately funded and it costs an enormous amount to do studies with large sample sizes. "Inconclusivity" in the research world is a comment on the study design, not the validity of the therapy being tested.

Furthermore, as I mentioned earlier, the vast majority of non human studies - both in vitro and animal model studies - point to real effects of homeopathic remedies.

This is the danger of the internet and people like Cunningham being able to post information. He has absolutely no credential, and no knowledge of the broad body of scientific literature.

Hope all you anti-homeopaths like the cartoon. It is factually incorrect. But then again those who advocate for "science" these days aren't usually concerned with the facts. Maybe you should go hold a sit in with some fundamentalist Christians - they are your closest intellectual peers.

Cobalt said...

Chris:

I think I speak for the scientists present when I say:

[Citation Needed]

Anonymous said...

Great comic. Simple and easy to follow, the graphics complement the text very well, and it's all very thought-provoking. Even to someone who's familiar with the issues.

Anonymous said...

I agree Homeopathy is not the cure for everything, but, I believe Doctors should take sometimes the homeopathy way... I mean, a lot of illnesses are just the product of psychological issues. Stress can cause a lot of problems, depression can cause a lot of phisical illnesses.
And doctors in the majority of cases, just give the patient a lot of pills to cure things that could be better being cured with a psychological approach.
Everytime I go to the doctor they give me a recipe to buy some drug... most of the times i don't buy anything and just wait a few weeks. The 99% of the cases the problems just goes away. I mean, if I have cancer, obviously I will listen carefully to the doctor, but I know plenty of people that were treated for cancer by "real" doctors and they died anyway in pain.
The overtrust in drugs can also lead to other problems. And Placebo effect has prove to be useful in a lot of cases... I mean, the placebo effect scientifically exists, sugar only pills can cure lots of illnesses. They can not be explained by medical science, only with a psychilogical approach.
Nice Comics thou. ;)
Hernan.

DR.DEVENDRA KUMAR MUNTA MD(Homeo) said...

Hi,
Your blog looks very intesting with much information which is useful regarding homeopathy. I request you to please add my Homeopathic blog to your link list.

http://homeoresearch.blogspot.com

Thanks,
Dr.Devendra Kumar

Moeskido said...

Attempting to keep an open mind, despite my regard for science and rational procedure, I tried homeopathy in a previous decade to treat both chronic and acute conditions. I got more benefit from the homeopath's chiropractic treatments... mostly because she was damn good-looking.

Homeopathy is snake oil with the veneer of big words that sound scientific enough for frightened, uneducated people to accept. It's more about faith in the practitioner's office performance and the cost of useless sugary supplements than about demonstrable, verifiable, or quantifiable results. The intellectually sloppy arguments defending homeopathy on this comment thread are reason enough to dismiss it as yet another sham religion for people who can no longer find sufficient solace in genuine ones. Practitioners who urge "keeping an open mind" are selling something far more lucrative than good advice.

Faith-based anything kills too many people, and deserves nothing but ridicule.

Calli Arcale said...

Chris:
It is funny how all these people posting anti-homeopathic non-sense have no scientific credentials and have absoluetly no knowledge of the scientific literature.

Well, we might as well meet the homeopaths on a level field, don't you think?

Lorena said...

So, If I get hit by a blue Ford Mondeo and get internal injuries, an homeopath will take a bit of blue Ford Mondeo, then dilute, shake, dilute, shake it, dilute and shake it some more, and then put 3 drops of it in my tongue, and that will cure me? ;)

Eddie Perkins said...

In the billions of years the Earth has been around hasn't everything been diluted in water? And, hasn't all water been mixed by way of the water cycle?

Shouldn't then a cheap bottle of distilled water bought at the local grocery store be the most powerful medicine, able to cure anything?

I can't help but notice that it's not.

Darsan Clinica said...

Really very great explanation with pictures. Totally about homeopathy medicine at what time how we have to take treatment etc. are explained. Thanks for sharing nice information. Awesome post.

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Anonymous said...

Australian doctors are having second thoughts.
http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/south-australian-doctors-say-homeopathic-therapy-should-not-be-covered-by-medicare/story-e6frea83-1225855223944

Manuel Gerardo Monasterio said...

Your cartoons and style are quite entertaining...The ideas are simply completely biased toward trying to deny a subject about which you lack expertise to judge. As I am a practicing medical doctor working with homeopathy for the last 32 years, and as I also hold a doctoral degree in Psychology, I could tell the difference between psychotherapy and concrete remedy results. I have also done a lot of work with veterinary medicine, and just tell me how to apply "faith" cures to dogs, cats, pigs, cows or horses...As all of them have been benefited from homeopathy. Western science is not synonymous with "absolute truth". There are patients than can benefited from official medicine treatments, and there are patients that can be benefited from alternative medicine approaches (including homeopathy) What is needed is sound criteria to know which one will be of help. As I am not biased against anything -including official medicine- I happen to be able to do the right choice most of the time. The real problem are doctors -both from the official school and from homeopathy- that lack the sense , knowledge and criteria to know when to apply which.That is what may "kill" people, not homeopathy per se. And people is dying from both sides, unsound alternative medicine approaches and unsound application of official medicine treatments.

Manuel Geardo Monasterio
MD PHD Psy

Dr Eric Berg said...

your site is fascinating and quiet interesting. the way you show and inform people like a comic strip. it interests people to read and eventually learn something out of it. thanks by the way.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to know how homeopathy believers wash the dishes.

Just think of all the stuff that the water must be "remembering".

Dr. Nancy Malik said...

Studies in support of Homeopathy published in reputed journals

1. Scientific World Journal
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17982565

2. Lancet
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9310601

3. Neuro Psycho Pharmacology
http://www.nature.com/npp/journal/v27/n2/abs/1395862a.html // Bacopa Monnieri for memory

Anonymous said...

Excellent sketch. You've packed a lot of information in there. The case studies of the wrong-doings of some practitioners are very important.

I might've liked to have seen some information highlighting the absurdity of the diluition levels. For instance a container the size of 10 to the power of 320 universes would be needed to have a chance of holding 1 molecule of oscillococcinum 200C.

I will think about doing my bit to highlight the problems with homeopathy. Possibly on YouTube.

Keep up the good work!!

Anonymous said...

I think we all need more commas in our lives.

hakan altan said...

thank you

Home Remedies said...

Nice and helpful great to share.

Anonymous said...

Yes, scare tactics and fundamentalist materialism will get you nowhere.

Anonymous said...

These posts annoy me. Has anyone seen the doc. "FoodMatters"? Google it- you can watch it on the internet. No doubt that drugs will kill. No doubt that medical school does not offer proper nutrition classes to help prevent the problem. NO DOUBT that doctors are offered bonus' for handing out drugs. Gross, disgusting... my father IS a Dr. and saves lives. He is absolutely genius and has self taught himself about natural remedies. Do not be ignorant.

shamaness said...

For all of you "skeptics" out there who think modern medicine is the end all, be all to cure you of anything, I suggest you watch this, then you can all get sick from the side effects of all your drugs, like Avandia, Celebrex, or Darvocet that's being taken off the market.

shamaness said...

Sorry, forgot to leave the link

http://www.3news.co.nz/Living-Proof-Vitamin-C---Miracle-Cure/tabid/371/articleID/171328/Default.aspx

Anonymous said...

Regarding Dr. Malik's links above:
1) It relates to the development of frogs from 2 legged to 4 legged. From the abstract " The number of test animals that reached the 4-legged stage at defined points in time was slightly smaller in the group treated with homeopathically prepared thyroxin at some, but not at all points in time, compared to control."
2) Is a meta-analysis: "The results of our meta-analysis are not compatible with the hypothesis that the clinical effects of homeopathy are completely due to placebo. However, we found insufficient evidence from these studies that homeopathy is clearly efficacious for any single clinical condition. "
3) Is a study on "the effects of Brahmi (Bacopa monniera) on human memory". If it used homeopathic doses it is not stated in the abstract.

This is very weak "evidence"

Anonymous said...

I think this strip is really great - nice work! One minor correction: in the first page, it says that homeopathic substances are given in tablet form. In fact, they are also given as drops and even creams for external use. Keep up the good work.

Cleo Pascal said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with homeopathy being labeled as a form psychotherapy because that is indeed part, and only a part, of the process. That's exactly why it is called a form alternative healing medicine. You don't get to talk to your doctor or pharmacist the way you can talk to homeopaths. It is that part of the treatment that initiates the healing, so I guess there shouldn't be any issue on that. However, it is wrong for people to say that homeopathy is purely psychotherapeutic. They should first look closely into the method, or better yet experience it themselves.

Kim said...

Homeopathic ER ;-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMGIbOGu8q0

Anonymous said...

@Phoenix

"There was no MMR vaccination until the 80s."

The MMR vaccine was created in the 60s and licensed in the 70s. What is shocking is the plummeting rates of measles, mumps, and rubela since the introduction of the vaccine. It's almost as though the vaccine works. Imagine that. A cursory glance at wikipedia would have been enough to get your facts straight.

Dr. Nancy Malik said...

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 (not in an ideal artificial laboratory) giving real-world solutions.

Bert said...

If I combine this comic with the one you drew on evolution, I have to conclude that humans who resort to homeopathy will eventually become extinct as a result of natural selection.

Jason Yip said...

I'm wary of the phrase "Western medicine" as it implies this is a cultural issue which it is not. Some things work, some do not and science is how we determine the difference.

Dr. Ziya Yavuz said...

Nice cartoon but homeopathy really works :)

אבישי קמינר | הומאופתיה לילדים said...

I am really impressed from both story and cartoons. you know, sometimes in life people make their own decisions. some are right and some are wrong.
Although i am a classical homeopath, i would never let my wife trust only Homeopathy. medicine has its power and experience treating with much success in cancer.
On the other hand, i can tell you that Homeopathy can deal greatly with cancer, but there are not so many "specialists" in this field, as far as i know.

thank you for your touchy story- we should all learn from it!

avishay
www.homeoshare.com

Ayurvedic Home Remedies said...

The problem with western science is it is upheld as 'the absolute truth', which is not. Alternative systems have been effective in curing many disease conditions where allopathy system had failed miserably.

Anonymous said...

If you are concerned with people taking ineffective medicine, take a look at the statistics for Pancreatic cancer in SEER
http://seer.cancer.gov/
You will see that the 5 year survival rates have gone from an abysmal 2+% to a horrible 5+% in the last 25 years, and yet still the "standard of (un)care" is cut, burn and poison (surgery, radiation & chemo) by law. Nothing else is permitted. That affects thousands of "Penelopes" and their families. Get a sense of perspective if you are going to write something like this.

Pick up a copy of Dr Ramakrishna's book on treating cancer with homeopathy. My copy is in storage but I know his success rates are much better than that. He can work in conjunction with allopathic meds and surgery if requested by the patient, but for early stage cancer its not necessary.

Anonymous said...

Dr Ramakrishna's site
http://www.drramakrishnan.com/cancer.php

Anonymous said...

Speaking of perspective, were you aware that allopathic medicine kills about 100,000 people each year in the USA from "properly" prescribed medicines, not including mal-practice? Almost two Vietnam wars or thirty-three 9/11s each year, mostly ignored by the mainstream media and by cartoonists.
That's effective; effectively murder.
http://www.yourmedicaldetective.com/drgrisanti/dangerous_medicine.htm

80108 Massage said...

I suggest you watch this, then you can all get sick from the side effects of all your drugs.

Jojie Gabot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
health said...

You are very talented. you made the story of homeopathic in an enjoyable story. Really nice work

lupus

Anonymous said...

Well i read an article on Huffington Post regarding a heparin drug that came from China that apparently was contiminated. i suppose it wouldnt hurt to know what else china has to offer in terms of exports, im sure it isnt all bad as ive read in this article http://importexporthomestudy.com/china-trading-business/china-exports China Exports: What to buy and what to not buy

mensajes claro said...

This is excellent, thank you and well done.

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