Homeopathy, does it work?

Does homeopathy work?

Poll ended at 13 Jul 2019, 9:10am

Yes!
5
9%
Tend to yes
2
3%
No!
49
84%
Tend to no
1
2%
Worth a try if normal treatment fails
1
2%
Don't know yet
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 58

roubaixtuesday
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Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby roubaixtuesday » 24 Jun 2019, 1:12pm

Vorpal wrote:
As I said, I have a couple of friends who were helped by homeopathy when modern (Western) had repeatedly failed.

Also, I think I've discussed the evidence. It may point conclusively to the opposite, but I'm not sure that I trust folks with an invested interest in pharmalogical solutions to determine if something else doesn't work.


Interesting.

So, anecdotes are powerful for you, and override structured and controlled research? Do I have that right?

As to the "I'm not sure that I trust folks with an invested interest in pharmalogical solutions to determine if something else doesn't work." - it's not the pharma industry testing if homeopathy works. They'd never waste their money on such research.

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pjclinch
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Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby pjclinch » 24 Jun 2019, 1:24pm

Vorpal wrote:Also, I think I've discussed the evidence. It may point conclusively to the opposite, but I'm not sure that I trust folks with an invested interest in pharmalogical solutions to determine if something else doesn't work.


As noted, homeopathy is a drug therapy, even if that's "for some values of drugs". Something like arnica root in homeopathic preparations for bruising isn't patented so Big Pharma can make it, trademark their version as ACME Bruise-Be-Gone™ and see the money roll in... or not. Why spend millions/billions on R&D when you're got an effective treatment requiring nothing more than a marketing budget? (and the answer is, they've looked at the independent research and found nothing there, and moved along, though it wouldn't surprise me at all if, at least historically, they've looked quite hard at it to see if there's something there that can be used).

Vorpal wrote:There have certainly been folks historically in Western medicine who have dimissed other practices out of hand as being charlatans, snake oil, etc.


Of course there have, and of course there still are. They're only human and there's a lot of them, I doubt you'll find any field the size where you don't come across characters who think they know it all (c.f. "choosing a bike"). But when it comes down to spending the money it's less about what a consultant with a Big Head declaims, it's "can we demonstrate this is a cost-effective way of using our resources?"

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Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby Vorpal » 24 Jun 2019, 2:38pm

roubaixtuesday wrote:Interesting.

So, anecdotes are powerful for you, and override structured and controlled research? Do I have that right?


Umm, no. I said nothing of sort. I did say that the system [of structured and controlled research] for approval of medicines works okay. I'm generally a fan of empirical evidence.

But there is a fallacy in supposing that because something cannot be demonstrated on a population basis it is never useful. It's a bit like helmets (sorry!). I don't wear one, and there is no evidence at a population level to support widespread use of helmets, but that doesn't mean they are never useful.

roubaixtuesday wrote:As to the "I'm not sure that I trust folks with an invested interest in pharmalogical solutions to determine if something else doesn't work." - it's not the pharma industry testing if homeopathy works. They'd never waste their money on such research.


I didn't say it was the pharma industry that does the testing. But the folks who do the testing have invested in the status quo. Even if they want to be open minded about it, their training may preclude doing so. Besides that, there some aspects of testing that are extremely difficult to evaluate.

I'm not really interested in arguing about it any further. I'm not out to change opinions, and it's not a subject that I care enough about to spend time researching every detail.
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roubaixtuesday
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Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby roubaixtuesday » 24 Jun 2019, 4:36pm

Vorpal wrote:But there is a fallacy in supposing that because something cannot be demonstrated on a population basis it is never useful. It's a bit like helmets (sorry!). I don't wear one, and there is no evidence at a population level to support widespread use of helmets, but that doesn't mean they are never useful.

...I'm not really interested in arguing about it any further. I'm not out to change opinions, and it's not a subject that I care enough about to spend time researching every detail.


The helmets point is quite different. There is a credible mechanistic reason why helmets might work in particular circumstances. There is no such credible mechanism for homeopathy.

I’ve also no interest in changing anyone’s mind – I am interested in people’s belief systems, which is fascinating.

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Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby fastpedaller » 24 Jun 2019, 5:11pm

roubaixtuesday wrote:
Vorpal wrote:But there is a fallacy in supposing that because something cannot be demonstrated on a population basis it is never useful. It's a bit like helmets (sorry!). I don't wear one, and there is no evidence at a population level to support widespread use of helmets, but that doesn't mean they are never useful.

...I'm not really interested in arguing about it any further. I'm not out to change opinions, and it's not a subject that I care enough about to spend time researching every detail.


The helmets point is quite different. There is a credible mechanistic reason why helmets might work in particular circumstances. There is no such credible mechanism for homeopathy.

I’ve also no interest in changing anyone’s mind – I am interested in people’s belief systems, which is fascinating.


But there may be a credible mechanism and I think you may have already mentioned it - the placaebo!
Did you see the (fairly) recent TV documentary about a placaebo study (ISTR about 80 people), some remarkable results, including a guy who could walk for the first time in 15 years - the placaebo reduced his pain by a huge amount! He even continued using them after the study and still improved even though they told him the tablets were placaebos. If it works, lets use it - even if we don't know why :roll:
My Wife's own recovery using Homoeopathy was remarkable, so much so that the Homoeopath (knowing my Wife had an insurance medical cover from work) suggested my Wife had a scan (this was before our child came). My Wife was concerned and distressed (she thought the Homoeopath had anticipated a return to ill health). When the scan was taking place the scanner went all around 'showing' my Wife the various internal organs (he seemed to delight in this) and then said "why are you here? it says Endometriosis, but I can't see any scarring to suggest you've ever had problems."
Evidence enough from my viewpoint, having seen her suffer for years (and she had done since puberty), that Placaebo and/or Hooeopathy work. If it means paying someone 40 quid to convince the patient's brain, and it does the job then it's a bargain.

roubaixtuesday
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Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby roubaixtuesday » 24 Jun 2019, 5:50pm

fastpedaller wrote:But there may be a credible mechanism and I think you may have already mentioned it - the placaebo!


That's not a mechanism for homeopathy. That's a mechanism for any ineffective treatment.

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Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby fastpedaller » 24 Jun 2019, 6:39pm

roubaixtuesday wrote:
fastpedaller wrote:But there may be a credible mechanism and I think you may have already mentioned it - the placaebo!


That's not a mechanism for homeopathy. That's a mechanism for any ineffective treatment.

Which has been found to be effective but it cannot be proven why.

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Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby pjclinch » 24 Jun 2019, 7:55pm

fastpedaller wrote:Evidence enough from my viewpoint, having seen her suffer for years (and she had done since puberty), that Placaebo and/or Hooeopathy work. If it means paying someone 40 quid to convince the patient's brain, and it does the job then it's a bargain.


The point being made higher up is similar to point I was making earlier, which is "does homeopathy work?" and "do people get better after homeopathic treatment?" are two separate questions.

As has been pointed out, homeopathy doesn't do any better than placebo. It is, I suspect, not entirely coincidental that acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine score at... no better than placebo. So what we seem to have here is where it's some not-understood mental switch that needs to be flicked there's no particular reason to suggest a general recourse to homeopathy over TCM or whatever. What any given patient seeks out will probably reflect their own particular hopes, beliefs and psychology, but that puts things on to an individual basis and now we're at an individual basis it removes any general point of "you should try homeopathy". I suspect I probably shouldn't, but if there's something where I can visualise a working mechanism I'd probably react better to that (I'm guessing, I don't have a control and there's only one of me, so it would be difficult to tell).

Placebos are very odd. They seem to have clear effect in some cases even when the patient knows they're placebos. There's also the nocebo, which is negative effects from negative assumptions. It's a pity that as an apparently part-psychological effect you can't just decide to get better, or that tap-water or a bar of chocolate will do the job for you.

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Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby brynpoeth » 24 Jun 2019, 8:07pm

There is so much that is not understood, maybe talking to someone and getting attention helps, trying something other than 'conventional' treatment, believing one shall get better, and time of course, that is a good medicine
Do placebos and TCM have side-effects?

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Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby fastpedaller » 24 Jun 2019, 8:19pm

pjclinch wrote: It's a pity that as an apparently part-psychological effect you can't just decide to get better, or that tap-water or a bar of chocolate will do the job for you.

Pete.


The mind is a very powerful thing though......... I know from my Time Trialing days that if my mind was on cue I could put out a performance which would make my result a lot better than my fitness (or lack of it) would suggest.

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Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby pjclinch » 24 Jun 2019, 9:09pm

fastpedaller wrote:
pjclinch wrote: It's a pity that as an apparently part-psychological effect you can't just decide to get better, or that tap-water or a bar of chocolate will do the job for you.


The mind is a very powerful thing though......... I know from my Time Trialing days that if my mind was on cue I could put out a performance which would make my result a lot better than my fitness (or lack of it) would suggest.


Absolutely. But what I guess what you couldn't do was go out and always decide you were ripe for a good day :(
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Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby pjclinch » 24 Jun 2019, 9:18pm

brynpoeth wrote:There is so much that is not understood, maybe talking to someone and getting attention helps, trying something other than 'conventional' treatment, believing one shall get better, and time of course, that is a good medicine
Do placebos and TCM have side-effects?


A placebo is generally a neutral substance, so just as it "shouldn't" have a therapeutic effect it shouldn't have a bad side-effect either. However... look up the nocebo and you find that people can make themselves worse as well as better. Since people tend to seek therapy in the expectation of things getting better, I imagine in this field placebo probably outweighs it (I'm absolutely not an expert here though, that's just conjecture)

I don't know enough about the full scope of TCM to know the extent to whether some bits of it are harmful or not, but I imagine you can find various bits of it that aren't doing anything much aside from game the system in to you deciding something is being done. Other elements, like the stuff that calls for rhino horn, tiger penis etc. very much have negative side effects, though for the rhinos and tigers.

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Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby brynpoeth » 26 Jun 2019, 5:46am

Prince Charles has become patron of the Faculty of Homeopathy, reports the Grauniad
I read the wykepedia article about homeopathy, it is likened to religion, something else we do not understand
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Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby pjclinch » 26 Jun 2019, 8:26am

brynpoeth wrote:I read the wykepedia article about homeopathy, it is likened to religion, something else we do not understand


It's possible we understand both, but we can't be totally sure the hypothesis of "imagining mechanisms to help our world make sense to us" is correct.

It is entirely likely that the real thing Samuel Hahnemann hit on was that the "medicine" of the day was quackery and minimising the amount of intervention would improve matters from where they stood. It is also on the cards that there is no therapeutic effect involved in the homeopathic process in particular.

We don't understandhow placebos work, but we do know that they do work. However, you don't need to do lots of extreme dilution, hit things with sticks etc. to get a useful placebo. While homeopathy might be a placebo, a placebo can be anything stood in for a notionally therapeutic agent/process. There would still be placebos without homeopathy, but making the reverse claim would be on rather thin ice.

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Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby Audax67 » 26 Jun 2019, 9:20am

brynpoeth wrote:There is so much that is not understood, maybe talking to someone and getting attention helps, trying something other than 'conventional' treatment, believing one shall get better, and time of course, that is a good medicine
Do placebos and TCM have side-effects?

Glad I started this one, got people thinking, arguing, learning


TCM certainly has the effect of driving endangered species to the point of extinction, which unfortunately its practitioners do not suffer.

As for placebos, I dare say they could have side effects, but only if someone tolds you so. C.f. pointing the bone.
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