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

pete75
Posts: 13083
Joined: 24 Jul 2007, 2:37pm

Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby pete75 » 22 Mar 2020, 1:53pm

It was developed in the 18th Century by a Dr. Samuel Hahnemann. Probably a good thing at the time. It wouldn't have done any good but at least it wouldn't do any harm unlike a lot of the treatments used back then.

Cyril Haearn
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Location: Leafy suburbia

Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby Cyril Haearn » 22 Mar 2020, 2:16pm

pete75 wrote:It was developed in the 18th Century by a Dr. Samuel Hahnemann. Probably a good thing at the time. It wouldn't have done any good but at least it wouldn't do any harm unlike a lot of the treatments used back then.

In Germany of course :?
Might be as good as placebos, maybe people just need attention in many cases

One imagines that those who dismiss homeopathy agree that there is very much we do not understand
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pete75
Posts: 13083
Joined: 24 Jul 2007, 2:37pm

Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby pete75 » 22 Mar 2020, 3:04pm

Cyril Haearn wrote:
pete75 wrote:It was developed in the 18th Century by a Dr. Samuel Hahnemann. Probably a good thing at the time. It wouldn't have done any good but at least it wouldn't do any harm unlike a lot of the treatments used back then.

In Germany of course :?
Might be as good as placebos, maybe people just need attention in many cases

One imagines that those who dismiss homeopathy agree that there is very much we do not understand


In Saxony. Germany didn't come into being until 1871

Jdsk
Posts: 1242
Joined: 5 Mar 2019, 5:42pm

Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby Jdsk » 22 Mar 2020, 4:35pm

It was often called Germany before it was a single state.

Jonathan

Psamathe
Posts: 11384
Joined: 10 Jan 2014, 8:56pm

Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby Psamathe » 22 Mar 2020, 6:26pm

Cyril Haearn wrote:It is a bit like signalling when driving, hard to prove someone did *not* do something, hard to prove homeopathy does not work
Whatabout placebos?

If a pharmaceutical company invests a new drug the onus is on the pharmaceutical company to prove it is safe and works. It is not the responsibility of Governments/NHS/NICE to prove it does not work.

Homeopathy providers have not proved it works.

I'm not sure the NHS prescribes true "placebos". GPs do often prescribe "impure placebos" but that is a very different thing. Plus placebos and impure placebos have been proven and demonstrated to be safe whereas most homeopath treatment have not been through such testing.

Ian

softlips
Posts: 600
Joined: 12 Dec 2016, 8:51pm

Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby softlips » 22 Mar 2020, 7:09pm

Psamathe wrote:
Cyril Haearn wrote:It is a bit like signalling when driving, hard to prove someone did *not* do something, hard to prove homeopathy does not work
Whatabout placebos?

If a pharmaceutical company invests a new drug the onus is on the pharmaceutical company to prove it is safe and works. It is not the responsibility of Governments/NHS/NICE to prove it does not work.

Homeopathy providers have not proved it works.

I'm not sure the NHS prescribes true "placebos". GPs do often prescribe "impure placebos" but that is a very different thing. Plus placebos and impure placebos have been proven and demonstrated to be safe whereas most homeopath treatment have not been through such testing.

Ian


As far as I know placebos can no longer be prescribed outside a clinical trial. This is a shame, I remember patients being prescribed saccharine tablets for pain and other things and in some they were very effective. The informed consent rules would make giving these now very difficult.

Double blind clinical trials, for those unaware, test the drug or treatment against a control. This control may be the current standard of care or may be a placebo. In the best trials the patient and those treating them will not know what the patient is getting. Some trails are single blinded, ie only the patient is unaware. This may be because the treatment is an intervention or leaves something detectable on x-ray. So for example. A device I was involved with was for spinal issues. Thousands of cases were done in the UK alone each year. On paper the treatment made sense. But a surgeon decided to do a trail. Half the patients randomly were assigned a sham procedure. They were taken to theatre, needles inserted etc but nothing was actually done. The results between the treatment group and sham group showed no difference at all! Needless to say the therapy was immediately stopped.

As you quite rightly say NOT ONE homeopathic treatment has ever been shown to be effective in a double blinded study.

Psamathe
Posts: 11384
Joined: 10 Jan 2014, 8:56pm

Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby Psamathe » 22 Mar 2020, 7:16pm

softlips wrote:
Psamathe wrote:
Cyril Haearn wrote:It is a bit like signalling when driving, hard to prove someone did *not* do something, hard to prove homeopathy does not work
Whatabout placebos?

If a pharmaceutical company invests a new drug the onus is on the pharmaceutical company to prove it is safe and works. It is not the responsibility of Governments/NHS/NICE to prove it does not work.

Homeopathy providers have not proved it works.

I'm not sure the NHS prescribes true "placebos". GPs do often prescribe "impure placebos" but that is a very different thing. Plus placebos and impure placebos have been proven and demonstrated to be safe whereas most homeopath treatment have not been through such testing.

Ian


As far as I know placebos can no longer be prescribed outside a clinical trial. This is a shame, I remember patients being prescribed saccharine tablets for pain and other things and in some they were very effective. The informed consent rules would make giving these now very difficult.

Double blind clinical trials, for those unaware, test the drug or treatment against a control. This control may be the current standard of care or may be a placebo. In the best trials the patient and those treating them will not know what the patient is getting. Some trails are single blinded, ie only the patient is unaware. This may be because the treatment is an intervention or leaves something detectable on x-ray. So for example. A device I was involved with was for spinal issues. Thousands of cases were done in the UK alone each year. On paper the treatment made sense. But a surgeon decided to do a trail. Half the patients randomly were assigned a sham procedure. They were taken to theatre, needles inserted etc but nothing was actually done. The results between the treatment group and sham group showed no difference at all! Needless to say the therapy was immediately stopped.

As you quite rightly say NOT ONE homeopathic treatment has ever been shown to be effective in a double blinded study.

It's "impure placebos" that as of a few years ago studies found were being prescribed by GPs rather than e.g. sugar pills. "Impure placebos" being e.g. antibiotics for a viral infection i.e. they contain an active ingredient but not (recommended) for the condition being treated. I've seen programs on TV where GP thinks a patient has a viral infection but they don't have time (in a 10 min appointment) to test (probably not the gear either) and patient wants a "magic pill" and they don't have time to argue about it being self limiting ... so prescription issued.

Ian

AlaninWales
Posts: 1605
Joined: 26 Oct 2012, 1:47pm

Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby AlaninWales » 23 Mar 2020, 12:31pm

If homeopathy is (as I believe likely) 'simply' a placebo, that is no reason not to use it. Placebos by their nature are not 'no effect', they have effects which can legitimately be used as a treatment. Medicines are supposed to have an effect measurably better than placebos in order to be approved (but many in long-term use have never been proven in modern style clinical trials). The idea that a placebo is simply a means of fobbing someone off is pretty much a by-product of our culture where medical miracles are expected (and people go to the GP for the common cold).
Placebos even work when the recipient knows they are placebos https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn28087-hormones-boost-placebo-effect-by-making-you-want-to-cooperate/ and https://www.newscientist.com/article/2229542-the-psychology-behind-the-placebo-effect-just-got-stranger/ for some interesting examples. We are not simple machines with known responses to specific drugs, the way we get better or worse in response to intervention is a complex issue, full of unknowns and is still being studied.

Mike Sales
Posts: 5094
Joined: 7 Mar 2009, 3:31pm

Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby Mike Sales » 23 Mar 2020, 1:03pm

AlaninWales wrote:If homeopathy is (as I believe likely) 'simply' a placebo, that is no reason not to use it. Placebos by their nature are not 'no effect', they have effects which can legitimately be used as a treatment. Medicines are supposed to have an effect measurably better than placebos in order to be approved (but many in long-term use have never been proven in modern style clinical trials). The idea that a placebo is simply a means of fobbing someone off is pretty much a by-product of our culture where medical miracles are expected (and people go to the GP for the common cold).
Placebos even work when the recipient knows they are placebos https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn28087-hormones-boost-placebo-effect-by-making-you-want-to-cooperate/ and https://www.newscientist.com/article/2229542-the-psychology-behind-the-placebo-effect-just-got-stranger/ for some interesting examples. We are not simple machines with known responses to specific drugs, the way we get better or worse in response to intervention is a complex issue, full of unknowns and is still being studied.


Quite.
The initial question "does it work" though, is not asking whether it as effective as any other placebo, but whether it has any efficacy beyond that.
The finding that placebos work even when the patient is aware that they are a placebo also means that there is no need for deception and mumbo-jumbo. We are free to rubbish the theory of homeopathy.
It is a nice paradox that a homeopathic placebo is preferable to a misused medicine like prescribing antibiotics for a viral problem. Though the antibiotic should also have a placebo effect!

AlaninWales
Posts: 1605
Joined: 26 Oct 2012, 1:47pm

Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby AlaninWales » 23 Mar 2020, 1:22pm

Mike Sales wrote:The initial question "does it work" though, is not asking whether it as effective as any other placebo, but whether it has any efficacy beyond that.
The finding that placebos work even when the patient is aware that they are a placebo also means that there is no need for deception and mumbo-jumbo. We are free to rubbish the theory of homeopathy.
It is a nice paradox that a homeopathic placebo is preferable to a misused medicine like prescribing antibiotics for a viral problem. Though the antibiotic should also have a placebo effect!

Indeed a paradox, I am just waiting for the antibiotic resistant plague that is made more likely by the (reportedly) huge uptake in use if anti-bacterial soap to guard against a virus!

Mike Sales
Posts: 5094
Joined: 7 Mar 2009, 3:31pm

Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby Mike Sales » 23 Mar 2020, 1:28pm

AlaninWales wrote:Indeed a paradox, I am just waiting for the antibiotic resistant plague that is made more likely by the (reportedly) huge uptake in use if anti-bacterial soap to guard against a virus!


I have a very persistent bacterial bone infection so I have a very personal interest in antibiotic resistant bacteria, and a deep hatred of antibiotic misuse.
Among other worries is the prolific use of antibiotics in USA and other countries' animal husbandry.
I am a soap and water man myself.

Psamathe
Posts: 11384
Joined: 10 Jan 2014, 8:56pm

Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby Psamathe » 23 Mar 2020, 1:52pm

AlaninWales wrote:If homeopathy is (as I believe likely) 'simply' a placebo, that is no reason not to use it. Placebos by their nature are not 'no effect', they have effects which can legitimately be used as a treatment. Medicines are supposed to have an effect measurably better than placebos in order to be approved (but many in long-term use have never been proven in modern style clinical trials). The idea that a placebo is simply a means of fobbing someone off is pretty much a by-product of our culture where medical miracles are expected (and people go to the GP for the common cold).
Placebos even work when the recipient knows they are placebos https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn28087-hormones-boost-placebo-effect-by-making-you-want-to-cooperate/ and https://www.newscientist.com/article/2229542-the-psychology-behind-the-placebo-effect-just-got-stranger/ for some interesting examples. We are not simple machines with known responses to specific drugs, the way we get better or worse in response to intervention is a complex issue, full of unknowns and is still being studied.

Placebos prescribed by GPs is not good but a side effect fro appointment time constraints and cost cutting but at least it is using regulated medicines that have been demonstrated to be safe - unlike homeopathy.

If people want to spend money on dubious cures that may or may not work that is their choice but no justification for taxpayer to bear the costs.

Ian

hamster
Posts: 3519
Joined: 2 Feb 2007, 12:42pm

Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby hamster » 31 Mar 2020, 4:25pm

If homeopathy worked I would get more drunk on a pint of beer than half a pint of neat gin.

Mike Sales
Posts: 5094
Joined: 7 Mar 2009, 3:31pm

Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby Mike Sales » 31 Mar 2020, 4:31pm

hamster wrote:If homeopathy worked I would get more drunk on a pint of beer than half a pint of neat gin.


Only if the beer was so dilute that there was no alcohol in it, and the bottle had been beaten on a pad between dilutions.

hamster
Posts: 3519
Joined: 2 Feb 2007, 12:42pm

Re: Homeopathy, does it work?

Postby hamster » 31 Mar 2020, 5:01pm

That's an easy experiment to do at home.
Homeopathy states that potency increases with dilution...so even beer ought to be more effective than gin.