Homeopathy is a form of complementary medicine aimed at modifying physical and psychological states. Some homeopathic remedies are about as safe as sugar and some as safe as liquor. Further, in some remedies there is a minimum of the substance(s) the remedy names refer to, and that applies to sugary pellets and tablets and liquour remedies alike.
Proper validation of homeopathy lags behind, and the welcome surprises may be few and far between. Among the welcome surprises is solid research and potentially life-saving and non-harmful remedies, methinks.
Proper StandsSooner or later we may think we have gathered enough information to sum up things and arrive at rules of the thumb and even overarching principles for how things ought to be. "Been there, done that."
From the history of science, brainstorming and other tributaries this makes its mark eventually:
"Don't discard an idea, a set of linked ideas, and practices just because they look silly, foolish or worse at first and second glance. See what works." Ideas main get winsome and also get wise outlets if given time and conditious to develop. Many novelties make it into mainstream practice. - Or more research is needed to determine their value. American folk wisdom: "Twin fools: one doubts nothing, the other, everything." In between those poles apart is room for just explorations, pilot studies, preliminary research and more formalised research.
To find out what works, there are (1) first-hand experiences of various sorts; (2) experiences told of by others (anecdotal evidence, which is a weak sort of evidence); and (3) statistical sortings of data derived from research.
1. First-hand experiences may be carried according to plan, and there is a good way of testing homeopathic remedies on a single person (for example oneself): Take the remedy at intervals, and repeat throughout days, weeks and months. The method is described by Professor Olov Lindahl (1978).
2. If many single experiences are gathered and compared, harder evidence may be had.
3. As for research that depends on large numbers and statistics, there is well conducted research that is built on careful research designs, and there are research findings (read: conclusions) that seek to consider how trustworthy or likely the statistical data may be. Skills in data handling and data interpretation are needed for deciding on the relevance and validity of research indings (read: conclusions). Findings are not always very clear-cut. Experts frequently disagree about how to understand the same data, so there is room for mistakes and fraud here.
Homeopathy and research
If is difficult to see how homeopathic remedies may work once you learn they are sugar pellets for most part, and typically without any other substances that are thought to be physiologically active. And yet they work! That is what many think after using homeopathic remedies. And their add up. Some research findings support that homeopathy works in some cases as well. Other research findings dismiss homeopathy as effective.
There are many life lessons here. One is: one may try and see of changes occur. It the changes are for the better, it is easy to think homeopathy is the cause. That may be true or not so, depending on the circumstances. For one thing, you might have gotten even better without them, and the homeopathic treatment lessened that betterment: that is one theoretical possiblity, and there are others. They are caveats.
How to reduce the postulated influence of "faith, coincidence and having a talk with another person"? In other words, how to deal with the placebo effect? It may account for much of what is acribed to a homeopathic cure, unless the percentage of betterments is higher than placebo effects are normally credited with. In this case, a researcher lightens up and wants double-blind research designs to get the good effects verified (or falsified, as the case may be. A double-blind design is easy to administer and handle. It requires a test group and a control group that is preferably equally large. The more persons that are in each group - the more statistically significant the research gets. In short: "Large numbers - better statistics". When double-blind research is carried out, findings may seem more compelling, but they still derive from interpretations as to how representative some of its main factors are, and thus on how well thought out and designed the research may be. Opinions may differ about what such data mean or suggest. At that point it may be fit to gather many research data and re-treath them by statistical regression analysis. It is a further step toward more conclusive evidence, but may not always be fit anyway. "As you call out in a mountain pass, your echo will be accordly (Proverbial wisdom)." As we form our research designs and statistical methods, we get results that are somewhat influenced by our choices along the way to some conclusions. It shows up that some conclusions seem fair, and others may be biased. It is a problem lots of times. (More: Wikipedia, "Regression analysis")
The startling thing about homeopathy or radionic homeopathy is that it works in practice - a lot of times. It depends on many factors if a remedy that is given works or not. Another problem is that of dosages - There is novel research that has been done by Dr Karin Lenger. She finds there is much in homeopathy, but that some of its tenets are not confirmed by her research. [Magnetic resonnance research into homeopathy]. Each remedy carries its own resonance pattern, but Hahnemann's principle of using only one remedy for total healing is doubtful, she concludes.
Dr Lenger has also found an underlying explanation of why "differently diluted" homeopathic remedies do not differ as much as the numbers suggest: only the number of shaking steps (rounds) in the process of making them, either by hand or by machine, and not exactly the amount of dilutions at each step (round), is the deciding factor for the energy level [read: potency, or effect] of the remedies.
Some homeopathic remedies are diluted in the ration of 1 to 10 (the D-scale), and some in the ratio of 1 to 100 (the c-scale, or x-scale). There is also an LM-scale that the originator of homeopathy, Hahnemann, worked on during the last ten years of his life. The LM scale uses dilutions in the proportion of 1: 50,000 - It suggests that there are not good enough reasons for the current practice "diluting water with water" almost a hundred thousand times above the potency 15C: * to make homeopathic pellets in the CM potency.
* There is supposed to be nothing left of the original substance that was diluted at a certain stage of the dilution process, depending on how much the substance is thinned (what dilution scale is used). Yet, homeopathic nosodes have been found to cluster and have been discovered in higher dilutions than D30, a Danish government official told (private communication). Better be wary about homeopathic nosodes.
Dr Lenger's research implies that one could simplify the process of making homeopathic remedies in two ways: It should be quite enough with one scale of dilutions as it is fit for pharmacies, homeopaths and customers alike. As for production: After a certain potency level is reached, more dilutions can be dispensed with as the shakings are carried on. Further research should confirm this too. (Wikipedia, "Homeopathic dilutions")
How do an eager research-willing homeopath go about to practice according to the findings? He or she may practise with far more confidence, and not be regarded as often as a "confidence man", one that leads gullible ones into believing in "variously named remedies that are just sugar". Thus, research gives the opportunity to say it is not all humbug and play on faith and placebo effects after all.
He or she does not have to subscribe only to "classical homeopathy" where one single remedy is thought to "capture" or deal with a person's many symptoms. Instead, one or several remedies or a combined remedy may be given each round, with the single-remedy approach as one option among the three if it fits a case definitely. There is seldom good evidence it does.
If a homeopath takes Dr Lenger's findings to heart and wants to make remedies by hand as before, he or she might choose a higher dilution scale than 1:10, that is, "Shake more, dilute less often". It saves time if the results are the same.
The ground is shaky
The young fellow who is eager to study, explore and research homeopathy and other alternative treatments, learns that it is not easy if the establishment tolerates them, but favours another group of treatment-offering people, such as medical doctors and their expertise.
If the fellow does not become a medical doctor himself, he or she may learn in the hard way that in the public space, others rule. It should be understood as quickly as can be. Even research findings of good quality may be subjected to repression, harsh denigration, even ridicule and looting of esteem and the credibility needed for a business. It is good to avoid becoming victim of much of that.
Another thing he or she has to deal with, is that of recommending remedies with no content except sugar. Some hold it is fit do it it, while a young fellow might consider: "It is not good enough to make a living of prescribing remedies with no documented effects, or little of that. Others may call it suspect and so on." It is! What a client really needs, is advance information as to how many percents of those who get the remedy prescribed, get better or well. "Percentages, please!" to gauge the odds. Claims and assurance is not of the same value.
Also, if the eager homeopath funds some research, he or she may find that "research is one thing, getting it published is another, and getting it esteemed is yet another again." There are steps in social approval, generally speaking.
Celebs who advocate alternative treatments, their stories are not weightier than those of others. The celeb factor itself is not of much intrinsic worth, really; it is the treatment approach that matters, and changes in its wake.
Then, if you decide to try a homeopathic cure, and things change for the better in its wake, and you get interested and go further, gathering data on homeopathy - it is time to see through things, preferably before entering the public space with your findings. The public sphere is ruled by established groups, and some of them may block the findings, while others ridicule and talk down on what they cannot understand. So it may pay to be cautious and spare oneself of the public eye. Note in passing how many young folks are eager to be stars, be seen, be admired, and later find they have a bad time. Celebs get into traps, years of invasions into their privacy, alcohol problems and suicides. If hankering young folks want the fame without its murky backside that screams "Protect yourself from fiendish publicity, even too much publicity", they have hardly learnt enough if they think dark glasses is the the thing that helps a lot. There is much gossip about famous ones, and gossip (maybe a reflection of envy) is one of the things that many like to indulge in.
So: Even if your results are astounding but your documentation is slim. and parading others are not good at assessing it, and some are out to "get you" for some obscure reason, the good stuff may have to be reserved to the private sphere, that is, to be kept your head and within your family perhaps. In the public sphere, conditions are often hard, and many are hungry for prey. If the wolf comes wagging his tale and showing teeth, is may not be out of goodwill. Similarly with journalists eager for stuff to feed on, eager for that sort of prey. Conditions may worsen due to paparazzi and journalists. That is basic knowledge. Basic knowhow is to avoid them as much as can be. Well established, rich people seem to learn that.
In these days the Internet has special fora for sharing preliminary findings and alternative thoughts. Now you may see why I have chosen to close down several pages on alternative treatment on the site. They contain information that results for many years of study and private research on end, but most are not much documented. They may therefore be subjected to clowns of riducule - which is bad - and not fellow researchers and students, which was initially desired.
Even the Lancet's has published homeopathy reports with "false data" - that is, lacking the academic care and scientific approach called for in medical journals. See for example Sherry Baker. "Two New Studies Find Anti-Homeopathy Review Wrong." NaturalNews, 19 November 2008.
As I am not much interested in feeding fools with preliminary research findings, this is my goodbye to most I Ching pages and many of the pages about common homeopathy on this site for now. To some among the specially interested ones: thank you. To others: my email adress, if contact matters.
Much of the matters above lead to such practical outcomes. They are won, and represent things life has taught me somewhat late, admittedly. (see Maxwell 2013)
Lockie, Andrew and Nicola Geddes. Complete Guide to Homeopathy: The Principles and Practice of Treatment. 2nd ed. London: Dorling Kindersley, 2000.
Maxwell, John. Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn: Life's Greatest Lessons Are Gained from Our Losses. New York: Center Street, 2013.
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