Fallout from the Lancet Article

When Ghandi was employing passive resistance against the British, he came up with the following: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win".

The fact that homeopathy is getting so much flak these days is paradoxically because it has been so successful. The second most practiced form of medicine in the world and the same in Europe, recognised by the WHO and with a history of over 200 years it's a little more resilient than many pharmaceutical companies would like.

The press have loved this latest meta-study. The sound counter-arguments put forward by homeopathic companies doctors and associations in the US and Europe have been virtually ignored. The researchers in the Lancet took 114 studies and whittled them down to just eight "scientifically valid" studies on Homeopathy, which just happened to employ methodologies specifically designed to test allopathic drugs. It dismissed the other studies as "biased" (pot = kettle = black) and completely overlooked the fact that Homeopathy is a completely different system of medicine, not fitting into the criteria of allopathic medicine. They were not comparing like with like, yet insisted on proceeding. Why so much noise over such flimsy evidence?

The first out was the US National Center for Homeopathy:

"Shang et al. have successfully applied a methodological approach to the articles they reviewed that is highly suitable for drawing conclusions about conventional medicine but is incomplete in evaluating homeopathic medicine."

and.. (this is a particularly good point.)

"The underpinning of the editorial content of the Lancet as it relates to homeopathy relies on a quaint old idea from the nineteenth century that the ONLY way that the property of water can be affected or changed is by incorporating foreign molecules. This is the Avogadro-limit high-school level chemistry argument. To a materials scientist this notion is absurd, since the fundamental paradigm of materials-science is that the structure-property relationship is the basic determinant of everything. It is a fact that the structure of water and therefore the informational content of water can be altered in infinite ways"


The latest to chime in is Boiron Laboratories, a manufacturer of remedies in Canada.

"The British medical journal features commentary and a study by Aijing Shang and colleagues from the University of Berne in Switzerland. The study was based on 220 studies, which were selected according to pre-defined and scientific criteria. This first global analysis actually validates the conclusion of three previous meta-analyses* that homeopathic medicines are effective. Conversely, the authors of the study arbitrarily eliminated a number of trial series, retaining only 14 out of the 220 initial studies (eight trials of homeopathy and six trials of conventional medicines), which led to final conclusions that are unfavourable to homeopathy. This sub-group analysis, made subsequent to the first global analysis and based on unknown trial selection criteria, is unscientific and not rigorous."

Press release at:

Hats off to the Times of Oman, though who did a whole series of articles by doctors defending homeopathy. Pity more papers didn't take this approach.

"It’s pure ‘jealousy'"

Here in Ireland, newstalk 106 did a slot on the Orla Barry show this morning around 9. Paul O'Donoghue from The Irish Skeptics was presenting their case and a woman called Susie was speaking for the homeopaths. I didn't hear it, but apparently the skeptics had a field day and most of the texts read out on air were negative.

It can be very frustrating as a student of Homeopathy to encounter such widespread resistance yet with such poorly reasoned put-downs. It is far easier to present a critical case for something than a supportive one. I know that as Homeopaths our focus should be on caring for our patients but surely it's not beyond the remit of the society to formulate several well-constructed arguments which can be wheeled out during witch hunts such as this one?