"The End of Homeopathy" -- The Lancet

The newswires are abuzz today with the publication of the latest report from "The Lancet", a very prominent medical journal, entitled "The End of Homeopathy". It is not a new study, but rather a review of 8 clinical trials into the effectiveness of Homeopathy.

They appear to have been quite selective, since most of the trials are based on double-blind placebo methodology which assumes that homeopathic medicines work like allopathic ones, in that there are specific remedies for specific diseases. However, homeopaths know that this isn't so and that they are not comparing like with like, since homeopaths treat the whole person and not the specific disease.

Nevertheless, it's all over the UK papers. Not a peep out of the Irish press yet. In fairness, the articles are mostly quite balanced, with good quotes from the homeopathic associations. It's the headlines that will probably do the damage in the minds of most people though.

The funny thing about these articles is that the "liberal" broadsheets, the Independent and the Guardian don't have as good riposte quotes from actual homeopaths, whereas Fox and Reuters have better ones.

Here's some Links to the most notable articles:

The Guardian:
"As a fourth study says it's no better than a placebo, is this the end for homeopathy?"

The London Independent:
" Effects of homeopathy 'are all in the mind'"

The BBC
"Medics attack use of homeopathy"

Reuters
"New study says homeopathic medicines don't work"

Choice defensive quote from the Reuters article:
"The report should be treated with extreme caution. It is being heavily spun," Peter Fisher, clinical director at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, said on behalf of the BHA.

"For a prestigious medical journal it is a strange bit of reporting. It is a small sample and they don't even tell you what they are basing this on. Yet they come to these very sweeping conclusions and write this very strongly worded editorial," he told Reuters.

"Homeopathy has been suffering these types of attacks for 200 years but it goes from strength to strength because people want it and many studies prove it works."

Fox News
"Study: Homeopathy Drugs Don't Work"

[Surprisingly, Fox allows the homepaths to make the best points in their defence, see below]

Clinical trials may be biased, but not more than the Egger study, says homeopathic doctor Joyce Frye, DO, MBA, president of the American Institute of Homeopathy and a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

"It is a flawed study. It starts out with a bias that the authors clearly state — an assumption that the beneficial effects seen in clinical trials of homeopathy are probably from biases," Frye tells WebMD. "They base their conclusion on the restriction of their analysis to only a few trials — eight trials of homeopathy with six trials of conventional medicine. Those numbers are too small for scientific comparison."

What really irks Frye and other doctors of homeopathy, however, is that homeopathic remedies are not supposed to be used like medical drugs.

"We are trying to treat the individual rather than the disease," Frye says. "Only 16% of these clinical trials looked at classical homeopathy as it is practiced. When we do clinical trials, we try to make them look like traditional medicine trials, but the reality is that is not where homeopathy excels. The more we try to fit the framework of traditional medicine, the more we are flawed in studying the way homeopathy is actually delivered."

For example, Frye says, homeopathy expert and University of Arizona researcher Iris Bell, MD, PhD, recently studied homeopathic treatment of fibromyalgia. Bell's team treated about 60 patients but used some 40 different medicines, Frye says.

"Homeopathy is not one medicine for one disease, but medicine that matches the totality of symptoms a patient has," she notes.