News and Commentary
Welcome to the News page of the IAVH website. Below we list various news items, whether positive or negative. When unfavorable news surfaces about homeopathy, we provide commentary about these reports, as often these arise from biased sources without clear understanding of homeopathic science. Articles are more or less in reverse chronological order (recent at the top). Thank you for taking the time to read these.
Don't forget to breathe today, and be thankful for things in your world which bring you joy.
I do not allow myself to be overcome by hopelessness, no matter how tough the situation. I believe that if you just do your little bit without thinking of the bigness of what you stand against, if you turn to the enlargement of your own capacities, just that itself creates new potential.
—Dr. Vandana Shiva, physicist and brilliant, visionary, and ardent voice for women, people in general, organic farming, and all of the traditional ways humans have lived healthily and sustainably on this home planet we all share. Listen to her interviews, read her work.
Mani Norland on the Australian NHMRC report
The report by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) used several techniques to bias the finding against the science of homeopathy. This youtube video covers some of these biases. See also the report entitled Marginalising Homeopathy: an Australian case study, on our research page.
The Scientific Background of Current Homeopathy Debates
See this new article at the Carstens Stiftung website. Dr. Jens Behnke explains the conundrum about the evidence for homeopathy, research methodology and the interpretation of data from clinical trials.Dr. Behnke shows that the evidence is there, but that there is so much plausibility bias against homeopathy that those who analyse such studies often bias their conclusions upon the basis that they cannot understand the mechanism. As Dr. Behnke says, this is in direct opposition to the scientific method. Click the link below to go to the article.
Here we go again. . .
It’s amazing in a way. Homeopathy is one of the older medical disciplines, going back over two hundred years and with many thousands of patients cured and/or helped through two centuries of use in human as well as non-human animals. Additionally, many many studies have shown activity from homeopathic medications as well as successful outcomes of homeopathic treatment. Still critics repeat the same statements that there is no proof that this medicine works, despite evidence to the contrary. We can only guess at the reasons, but we can also provide contrasting information.
The following post, in response to a similar repeat of this "no evidence" mantra, is a good overview. See this link for the original: https://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e6184/rr/606486
See also our page on homeopathic research. IAVH Research Page — See especially the article "Marginalising homeopathy: an Australian case study," which describes in detail the techniques used to discredit homeopathic medicine. It's an interesting article and it is available as a pdf download on the research page. (scroll down a bit on the page for the list of articles for download)
Here is the post, by Dr. Christopher Johnson:
It is truly remarkable the level of ignorance involved in this debate, with critics of homeopathy showing their true love of mediocrity, conformism and brain-dead enforcement of orthodoxy (dogma) – with enthusiasm that would make an Inquisitor blush.
Would be defenders of science and so-called ‘evidence-based medicine’ seem to have no problem whatsoever issuing criticisms of homeopathy which are completely and totally at variance with the actual data.
Somehow they don’t see the irony in calling homeopathy ‘unscientific’ even though the criticism is itself not based on any hard evidence. As Dr. Spense has rightfully pointed out, this is a very safe and conventional position – ‘everyone’ knows homeopathy is ‘just water’ and ‘just placebo’. The critics see no problem substituting conventional wisdom for facts – which is why if you peruse Dr. Spense’s article and the subsequent commentary, you will find almost no mention of material facts, just schoolyard slander.
The fact is, the weight of the evidence strongly favors homeopathic remedies being biological active agents.
Nearly all physico-chemical research – conducted by scientists of the very highest skill on earth, such as Rustum Roy and Jayesh Bellare – demonstrates physical properties of homeopathic remedies which are distinct from those of plain water or succussed/diluted water controls. None of the research is completely beyond reproach, but it is nevertheless quite strong and viewed as a whole becomes stronger.
The in vitro evidence is similarly strong – with a recent review finding that over 2/3 of all high quality studies demonstrate biological activity of homeopathic remedies. The same is true for nearly 3/4 of all replications.
The clinical evidence is less consistent, but this is because of the enormous heterogeneity of the literature – with many different types of homeopathy being studied, often by people who know nothing of homeopathy or lack the skills specific to the performance of homeopathic trials. Viewed as a whole, 41% of all RTC’s come to positive conclusions, while 52% are inconclusive; 7% are actually negative. These numbers correlate almost precisely with RCT’s of conventional medical therapies.
Systematic reviews have come to positive conclusions for, so far, the following conditions: allergies and upper respiratory infections, childhood diarrhea, influenza treatment, post-operative ileus, rheumatic diseases, seasonal allergic rhinitis, vertigo and most recently, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Homeopathic critics, if they cite any evidence, seem to universally cite only one study – the Shang, et al meta-analysis (Lancet, 2005). They may as well have referenced no data at all, since Shang is an abomination of science – failing nearly every conventional norm for high quality research (e.g. failing to meet multiple QUOROM criteria for systematic reviews) – and basing its conclusions on 8 out of 110 cherry picked trials. No sensitivity analysis was performed, but in subsequent independent assessment, literally every single other manner of assessing the data comes up positive for homeopathy. The 8 selected trials fail the ‘leave one out’ cross-validation test – take out the study looking at use of Arnica for soreness in marathon runners (a completely irrelevant research question with zero external validity) and the conclusions reverse dramatically (in favor of homeopathy). In other words, Shang is a sham. But clearly for critics it represents the pinnacle of research science since it supposedly ‘debunks’ homeopathy. No mention is ever made of all the other meta-analyses - which come to positive ends and are of far higher quality than Shang.
The homeopathic literature is not without deficiencies, but to say homeopathy is nothing but placebo requires turning a blind eye to a large amount of data which, though not completely conclusive, certainly suggests otherwise. It is clear that those who issue boilerplate criticisms of homeopathy have not bothered to consider the entirety of the data. Intelligent people and true scientists should be embarrassed by this and most ‘discussions’ taking place about homeopathy in the British medical community – they are an affront to scientific principles of rationality and objectivity.
Competing interests: No competing interests
06 October 2012Christopher M Johnson
4910 31st St S Suite A
Arlington, VA 22206
See also this youtube video on The State of Research in Homeopathic Medicine and Understanding the Biological Basis for Homeopathic Remedy Response, by Drs. Peter Fisher and Iris Bell.
IAVH President Edward De Beukelaer and others respond to a recent Veterinary Record article which attempts to dismiss homeopathic medicine
Over the past few years, a number of loud but poorly informed veterinarians in the United Kingdom have carried out a misinformation campaign against veterinary homeopathy. One more instance of this occurred recently, when the Veterinary Record published a two-part article, entitled "Comparison of veterinary drugs and veterinary homeopathy." While the article is written as if it is based upon science, in fact the entire basis of their "proof" against homeopathy is that it cannot work as we don't understand how it could work (at least according to Newtonian physics).
Of course, Galileo was excommunicated and imprisoned for saying that the earth revolves around the sun, but in the end he was proven correct. And many physicists resisted theories of quantum mechanics until this also was shown to be true.
Just because we cannot yet understand the mechanism by which homeopathic medications work does not imply they cannot work.
The Veterinary Record articles are more political than scientific or medical.
Dr. De Beukelaer crafted and signed a letter to the Editor in response, along with Drs. Hélène Renoux, President of the European Committee for Homeopathy, Ton Nicolai, spokesperson for EUROCAM, and Alexander Tournier, Executive Director of the Homeopathy Research Institute.
You can download the letter to the Editor of Veterinary Record here: IAVH/ECH/Eurocam Letter to Veterinary Record
The editors of Veterinary Record have not published similar letters from IAVH or anyone else in response to previous articles. However, as of December 2017, they did publish the current IAVH response letter, for which we are grateful.
More criticism of homeopathic medicine
And now, a "report" by EASAC, the European Academies Science Advisory Council, on Homeopathic Medicines and Products. More rehashing of the same slanted viewpoints. The British Homeopathic Association debunks the report. See the BHA response here: BHA response to the EASAC report.
And here is a response by the French organisation, SOCIÉTÉ SAVANTE D’HOMÉOPATHIE: La SSH response to the EASAC report.