Adverse Reactions

The trouble with medicine

Harradine said:

You're not quite right there.  The reason why alternative medicine is considered "unscientific" is not because it beleives that no two diseases are the same.  It is because, when tested, it have been demonstrated to be explained by placebo effects.

Placebo effects are very real, as all doctors are fully aware.  Indeed "conventional" science recognises them to such a degree, that the placebo-controlled trial is one of its most widespread methods.  Why would rational experimental designs use placebo controlled trials if it did not recognise this link between patient perceptions of healing and how important they can be.  Thge ideas are not restricted to alternative medicine as you suggest.

The reason why alternative medicine is unscientific is in fact because it has persistently failed to demonstrate effects beyond thos of placebo and yet its advocates never concede the most rational explanation of why this is so, i.e., that their methods are nothing more than placebo.  Once alternative, or any other, methods can demonstrate evidence to ack their claims, then they will be accepted.

As it is your passage (again) portrays a deeply misguided view of science that is a mere parody of it.  This msirepresentation of science does nothing to support the claims of alternative health advocates and is a common technique that they succumb to in the absence of any solid evidence to support themselves.

November 9, 2007 15:58

pandaqueen said:

Harradine, you are the one talking nonsense!

So called 'scientific' pharma medicine has killed/killing not only millions of animals needlessly every year, it's also killing and debilitating many, many humans too.

Bristol-Myers Squibb have just been fined a whopping $515million for mis-selling drugs, inducing doctors to prescribe drugs inappropriately, and setting fraudulent prices and this is only one example of many.

The reason why so called 'scientists' won't hear of natural cures is because it will take the money away from them, they aren't interested in cures, greed is what motivates them!

November 11, 2007 23:15

Harradine said:

Hi pandaqueen.  

My intention is not to gloss over the malpratise of pharmaceutical companies.  As I have said before, they are to be watched like hawks, regulated and continuoally questionned to ensure that whatever they are doing is of benefit, nor harm.  

Bu any criticism of pharmaceuticals is not evidence that alternative medicines work.  Scientists do not work for pharmaceutical companies.  Many do, most dont.  The reason why good scientists are yet to be convinced that alternatives work is precisely that- there is no convincing evidence.  Once that appears, they will be.  As has been the case with e.g. St John's Wort, cannabinoids, etc.  

Please be careful not to fall into the fallacy that science and the pharmaceutical industry are the same thing.  And don't be distracted from supporting alternative methods by criticising the pharmaceutical industry (which scientists do).  The best way to find genuine, widespread, universal support for alternative methods is to provide water tight evidence that they work.  That all any reasonable person should expect.

If you genuine beleive I am talking nonsense, its worhwhile considering carefully what it is am am suggesting.  That anyone, from any background, pharmaceutical company, alternative practicioner, whoever, should provide evidence for their claims and ask themselves carefully why they can't if this is the case.  Hardly a biased or unreasonable position.



November 11, 2007 23:30

Harradine said:

For just one example of the power of placebo, read the following news item from issue 2628 of New Scientist magazine, 06 November 2007, page 20

"Here's a new problem for authorities trying to keep performance-enhancing drugs out of sport: even being given a placebo on the day of a competition can benefit athletes.

Fabrizio Benedetti and his colleagues at the University of Turin, Italy, timed how long young men could operate an exercise device while blood flow in their arm was restricted, making the exercise painful. During two practice sessions a week apart, some were given morphine injections, which enabled them to exercise for longer. A week later the morphine group received a fake injection, but still managed to exercise for longer, seemingly oblivious to the pain (The Journal of Neuroscience, vol 27, p 11934).

Doctors have long known that placebos can have a significant effect in medicine, but till now no one had considered their implications for sport. "Should we consider morphine conditioning in the training phase ethical and legal?" asks Benedetti. According to rules issued by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in Montreal, Canada, athletes are allowed to take opiate painkillers such as morphine during training, but not on the day of a competition. Alain Garnier, medical director of WADA, says they are aware of the problem. "It is not an easy question," he notes."

This demonstrates that unless you consider placebo effect when testing your medicines (as evidence based medicine does), then your treatments may be nothing more (which seems to be the case for treatments such as homeopathy).  

Until a more honest and rational approach to such treatments is embraced by their practicioners (as opposed to the insistent that they "work because we know they do"), then alternative medicine will sadly, fail to be fully complementary, as it should be.

November 12, 2007 10:50

harr said:

Apologies, I must point out that the last two paragrapghs of the above reply were written by me and are nor part of the new scientist story!!


November 12, 2007 10:56

Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D. said:

Harradine compares apples with elephants.  What Bryan pointed out is that conventional medicine operates on the scientific model -- I think H would agree with that -- and the scientific model is reductionistic (studying smaller and smaller pieces) and dualistic, in that it considers the body and the mind unconnected. All true.  Scientific studies look at linear relationships - one bug, one illness, or one drug, one result.  The scientific studies that purport to show that "alternative medicine does not work" are set up to show just that.  Homeopathy (which, by the way, is the medicine that invented the "sugar pill" and recognized the placebo effect first)  has been studied extensively in the scientific literature, and when it shows positive results they have been dismissed because "it couldn't possibly work!"

"Alternative medicine," which is actually too broad a definition, has a different model, in that it considers the whole of the human being, an extremely complex system.  This means there are a lot of variables that cannot be controlled for, so it is never possible to "prove" beyond a doubt that some treatment always "works."  

In fact, it has been estimated that the placebo effect is a major element in conventional medicine as well - as much as 56% of the effect of any drug, INCLUDING MORPHINE, has been attributed to the placebo effect.

My point is that you cannot study "alternative medicine" with the same randomized double blind trials as conventional drugs -- it's a whole different way of seeing the world.  Those of us who use homepathy, acupuncture, herbal medicine, food remedies, and the like have had distinct experiences that these do "work".  Many people who exhaust the nostrums of conventional medicine eventually go to the "alternatives" to find relief - and very often do.  That is enough proof for us.

November 13, 2007 13:19

graham ewing said:

Conventional biomedicine is based upon a hugely flawed concept. It considers only the biochemistry associated with pathology and ignores the body's natural mechanisms.

Every biological reaction in the body is regulated by reaction conditions - such as pH, temperature, levels of minerals and vitamins, etc.  Conventional biomedicine largely ignores the influence of these physiological systems. The same applies to extractions in for example the digestive system where blood flow, pH, and blood quality affect the function of the digestive tract and of the ability of the blood to absorb minerals.

Accordingly biomedicine ignores the effect of the physiological systems to regulate organ function. Moreover because STRESS affects the stability of the physiological systems conventional medicine effectively ignores the effect of stress upon health.

As Lynne MacTaggart has often quoted: Conventional Biomedicine is 'a belief system'.


November 13, 2007 15:46

Doug Barlow said:

Interesting to read the comments above.  Having been in the field of wellness and health for the last 13 years, I feel that the winds of change are starting to blow.  It is rather evident that modern medicine is not the answer to lifestyle diseases.  No doubt that allopathic medicine has a place, but when most of the health issues we face today are do to lifestyle, the reductionist train of thought falls flat.  If anyone would like to look at a body of scientific papers from around the world that allows "alternative medicine" to fall into the realm of evidence based solutions, do send me an email and I can send you a link to what could be the future of medicine.  Most of our grandparents have already given us the answer!

November 13, 2007 15:58

Rachael Leffman MA Cantab RSHom said:

On a very basic level - if alternative medicine relies entirely on the placebo effect - how do you explain success reported with animals and babies?  

I would also like to add that Placebo effect cuts both ways and bigger colourful pills given by Doctors probably have more sway than "discredited alternative medicines " in this area.

With regards to homeopathy in particular you seem to be unaware, (perhaps a little biased?) that there have been numerous research papers published supporting the efficacy of homeopathy in the last few years.  Research is being actively encouraged and pursued in the field of homeopathy as more and more scientific minds are realising the benefits and are applying themselves to demonstrating its effectiveness.  

Granted we do not have the enormous ammounts of money that large pharmaceutical companies have to do the research, in order to achieve a headlining drug, but on the other hand when was the last time a homeopathic remedy was retracted from use because it had unsafe side effects?  

November 13, 2007 16:36

graham ewing said:

I doubt that the winds are blowing in any significant manner.  CAM therapies have to be proven beyond dispute and there is dispute because as yet the underlying theoretical basis for these technologies remains vague. Perhaps the nature of many CAM therapies will never invigorate the scientific community to look seriously at CAM. The most significant issue is that the voice from conventional medical science effectively drowns the very modest amount of research into CAM.  

European Commission research projects comment upon the need to overcome 'industry roadblocks'. To get research funding to support such projects requires that you recruit serious medical professionals who's word can be respected. Perhaps the way forward is to look at the principles underlying CAM. For instance homeopathy has been used by Russian researchers - they have isolated and manufactured the antibodies produced by homeopathy which have subsequently been registered for use as pharmaceuticals in Russia. Such antibodies are now the subject of intense research by pharmaceutical companies such as GSK. This proves that homeopathy has a serious scientific basis but it also proves that it works by the same criteria as any other pharmaceutical.

By researching the principles you can get around the allegations that you are pursuing some sort of anti-pharma crusade.  Sooner or later research into these 'principles' will be accepted and absorbed by pharmaceutical industry. The competition between big pharma knows no bounds. Every drug study compares one drug with another competitor's product. Don't think they are ganging up on CAM. If they can find a way to make a significant research finding which will elevate them to the top of the big pharma premier league they will do so.


November 13, 2007 16:49

Harradine said:

Firstly, biodemicine certainly does not have a dualist view of the mind/body.  If fact the term reductionist is usually applied to mean the opposite of dualist, ie. that the mind is a function of the brain, an emergeant property of its complexity.  So that view of biomedicine is not actually based on a knowledge of how scientists see the world, but on ignorance of that.

Equally as misguided are statements like "Conventional medicine largely ignores the influence of physiological systems".  Again, this comes from a beleif born of ignorance.  Evidence-based physiogical science are what form the entire basis of our understanding of organ function, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, etc.  I'm afraid you cannot borrow terms from evidence based medical science unless you also accept its methods, which demonstrate alternative medicines to be placebo effects (so far).  Not being able to understand the mechanism of how homeopathy might work is irrevelant, since many conventional medicine are demonstrated to work before their precise mechanism is established (such is the complexity of the human body- beleive me, this is not something lost on modern medicine science!!!)

The most up to date analysis of quality studies into homeopathy demonstrate no effects greater than placebo.  It is a very weak and telling argument to attack drug companies (which I whole heartedly do, since they must provide robust evidence for what they claim and I am equalliy as sceptical of their claims as anyone elses) as a defense of homeopathy.  Either homeopathy works or it doesn't, totally irrespective of anything GPs, surgeons or drug companies are doing.

I beliive alternative medicines may have a role as complimentary therapies to evidence based medicine.  What I disagree with are unfounded claims and misguided arguments, such as homeopathy doesn't have a requirement to demonstrate that it works because it is "special".  That is to decend into irrationality.

I would like to see greater study of alternatives, just how is it that practicioners maximise the placebo effect so that patients can gain apparent benefit.  Surely a combination of these approaches with evidence based treatments would be a wise approach?  Wiser in my view, than an iiresponsible campaign of fear against evidence based medicine, modern medicine in general as a means to overcome a lack of good evidence to back alternatives.  Scare tactics are harmful, unecessary and ultimately will do alternative medicine and its practicioner a lot more harm than good.

November 13, 2007 17:24

Robert D. Jagger said:

I am not a doctor, nor a health practioner of any kind. I'm just an average Joe citizen. But, I have been treating "undiagnosable" problems that I had had for several years with alternative methods. And with absolutely fantastic results. All of my previous years worth of symtoms have stopped completely & I actualy feel better now than I did 20 years ago. (I'm 51 by the way).

So, all I wanted to say is, no matter what any Doctors say, no matter what any big name research institutions say, I am convinced that alternative medicine works. Period. And in closing I definately need to say that when I first visited my "holistic doctor", I was very skeptical that anything like just changing my diet could do anything for me. I mean afterall, everybody ate like I did. It had to be safe & good for you, right?

November 13, 2007 17:26

Barbara said:

to see science working with an open mind - look up the work of Professor Rustum Roy of Penn State University. Prof. Roy is considered one of america's leading materials experts. Using pure scientific method he can show that water carries memory. His experiments include adding a substance to water that alters its structure, then diluting it till no trace of the substance is left. He can show (repeatedly) that the structure remains altered.

He has not set out to prove if homeopathy works. However he says there is no longer any scientific objection to the methods by which it is said to work.

November 13, 2007 18:17

lecollier said:

Large trials sre difficult to do because different patients need different remedies, so you cannot do double blind trials to good effect. However you can follow the outcomes of patients treated by different methods, e.g. homeopathy vs conventional medicine and observe the outcomes of different treatments.

There is always a way to do other things. e.g. lower cholesterol levels by other methods than statins, build up your bone profile etc etc, with no side effects.  I today have spoken to a lady who has developed polymyalgia as a result of drug treatments. She is not amused. Until conventional medicine can astound me with its treatments, I will not be converted. Also there are a lot of  conventional treatments that are not effective, but continued to be done "because we've always done them"  Do you think people would carry on with homeopathy if it didn't work? They're not fools! Often it is last resort, and the result of some unsympathetic doctors who don't want to know.

My babies and animals have had homeopathic treatment to excellent effect. How is that a placebo effect?

November 13, 2007 18:49

paul said:

It is interesting for people to claim that alternative medicine is unscientific. I would quite happily spend time with the doubters to prove to them that the principles of homoeopathy are far more stringent and scientific than those of orthodox medicine. The aim is first to discover what is curative in medicines, this is done by the process of giving a person a substance then observing closely the effects. These medicines are applied using the understanding of similar and dissimilar diseases, and of the primary and secondary action of the organism. It is these factors which are the principles which underpin good practice. How more scientific can it be to apply a single dose then wait to observe what changes, rather than relying on constant repetition in order to force a change. I would suggest close study of Hahnemanns organon where he clearly lays out in well ordered steps how to study what is sick in man, the difference between the action of a similar and a dissimilar and how to apply a medicinal agent.    
November 13, 2007 20:41

Val Brown said:

A General Practitioner once told me that I was a very unlucky lady because I reacted adversely to the drugs prescribed by conventional practitioners.  Statin drugs resulted in severe muscle weakness and a blistering photosensitive skin rash, beta blockers resulted in chronic fatigue and digestive problems, allopurinol resulted in cataracts in both eyes.  I returned all these pills to my GP, visited various alternative practitioners, paid attention to my diet and took up walking.  I now enjoy my life and consider myself a very lucky lady indeed!    
November 13, 2007 21:30

Harradine said:

These are interesting anecdotes of how homeopathy can make people feel better.  I really don't doubt that it can.  But the problem is that is all they are- anecdotes, not robust evidence.

Why shouldn't placebo effects also apply to babies?  I can't see why they would be exemt from their effects.  Animals also.  Which species of animal?   Mammals?  Reptiles?  Fish?  Insects?  

I can see that where each treatment for each patient is different, then properyl designed clinical trials are very difficult to conduct.  But it can be done, the claims of homeopathy are very easily tested in reality

For example, if a group of homeopathy practicioners were to prescribe tap water as opposed to homeopathy treatments for a period of time one could independantly observe whether their patients responded differently.  This could be randomised and blinded, so compared with another group who use genuine homeopathy treatments with their patients.  Neither group of practicioners, nor their patients would know who was getting what (double blind) and this would be compared between the two groups (randomised).

That would be an interesting experiment.  Do any practicioners here have predictions of what the outcome might be?  If such an experiment provided positive evidence for homeopathy, and was replicated across groups and treatments, then there would be a basis from further exploration into a possible mechanism that could explain why homeopathy treatments differ from tap water, (which presumably has memory too?)

November 13, 2007 23:02

Harradine said:

Remember, just because pharmaceutical companies use double blind randmised trial is (are legaly required to) is not a criticism of that methodology!  They really are the best way to determine whether or not a treatment works.

Randomisation and blinding are used in all good science, medical, academic, all good science.  It is a very powerful method (I hope you can appreciate just how powerful and if homeopathy could cross that hurdle convincingly (i.e. repeatedly), then beleive me, if would find mainstream support.

Just imagine is treatments were not given blind?  Then we would never really know if the treatment was a plecbo effec or not.  And if it were not randomised?  Then we would never know if it worked better than any other intervention, such as the time you spend with the patient, of the attention you give them.  

When scientists conduct experiments, they use these methods simply because they know that if they don't, if they ignore them and simply claim "I have found an effect!", they know that people will be sceptical untill they can rule out other explanations for the effects they have found.  I am not biased against alternative treatments, I would criticise scientist (and do, when refereeing research papers!) who failed to apply proper methods.  That's all I am doing here.


November 13, 2007 23:12

marlene thkompson said:

I am fortunate to have a GP and vet who  pratices Homeopathy.  I know of several patients that have been successfully treated with Homeopathy when conventional means have failed. (Human and animal) Anecdotal it may seem to some, but there are too many successes, including farmers that treat whole herds of cows with Homeopathy instead of anti-biotics, to dismiss them as anecdotal.  Lets face it  whilst the pharmaceutical industry is making billions from drugs and governments are making more billions in revenue from them, the last thing they want is something as cheap and effective as alternative treatments to interfere with this bonanza.
November 14, 2007 00:01

harradine said:

Hi Marlene.

Too many successes might seem like evidence, and indeed it is.  But it is not conclusive and to a sceptic (as we all should be), not convincing.

Your example of farmers who use homepathy as alternatives to antibiotics.  Do you know which infections they treat this way?  Do they use them as alternatives to vaccination also?  

Pharmaceutical companies do indeed have vast, vast revenues that run well into the billions.  As such, their claims should come under very, very close scrutiny.  I can't imagine any reputable scientist (and nor have I ever come across one) who would claim otherwise.  And yes, being one of the most profitable industries in existence, and the UKs last example of successful R&D and manufacturing, they have some very serious politcal wollop.  

But you seem to be suggesting that the reason why homeopathy cannot provide evidence (i.e., positive results in the very simple and easily achievable experiment I outlined) is because of the vast revenues of pharmaceutical companies?  I'm not sure I follow this logic.  If you have a criticism of Big Pharma, then I think that is sound and valid as long as it remains scepticism and is never cyncism (and with all due respect, it sound, as does this entire website, like cynicim).  But a criticism of one body is not support of another.

Let suppose that homeopathy genuine does work and is finally demonstrated to by robust and repeated means.  Can you imagine the NHS seriously turning its back on such treatments?  Why would NICE break itself paying for a drug that has sots hundreds of millions to develop over 15-20 years, when a very simple water based treatment would do?  Pharma definitely has political wollop, but not in the same league as a Health Minister who could slash NHS spending, and hence all our taxes, by literally billions.  Just think about that because it really is important.

Surely you can see that there is more to it than this.  In my day, alternative medicine was better known as complimentary medicine, and I think that's where it really has some genuine merit.  Use drugs as a last resort (and they should be if good practise is being followed).  Promote good lifestyle, excercise and healthy diet, sleep and ways to avoid stress (all conventional medical advice that any GP should be good at and use as first line!).  But with this, learn from the alternative medical practicioners who really are very adept at maximising placebo effects and making patients walk out of their offices genuinely feeling better.  Add this to the genuine biological actions of evidence based drugs when required and I think we would have a better system.

Surely the issue does not have to be quite so polarised and irrational.  Surely a more realistic approach (if one genuinely is interested in patient benefit first and foremost) is a pragmatic approach that optmises all the methods available and the best parts of each approach?

But this has to be done so honestly.  Not trusting the level data manipulation that big pharma can be guilty of (test them, test them, test them, be sceptical!), or the pseudoscientific claims of alternative health practicioners (be just as sceptical!).  

Sadly a lot of what comes across here is cynicism, which I hope you will appreciate has no place in any sensible debate and certainly not one concerning hoiw best to treat people are are not well.


November 14, 2007 00:29

harradine said:

Not wishing to appear facetious (and with all due respect), when people use homoepathy to treat animals, such as a herd of cattle, for what illness do they treat them?  Do they treat each cow as an individual?  Does each cow recieve an indivual therapy, or are they are they all treated using the same one?

How does this actually work in practise, using the methods that homeopaths use?

November 14, 2007 00:54

dgtucker said:

Harradine....some excellent lucid points, which as an Holistic Therapist, I much respect.

However, With so much money at stake, influencing the whole 'healthcare' systems, research outcomes and education is totally expected and people have a right to be very wary, as you rightly agree.

Many hands on 'alternative therapies' are easily proved to work and indeed logic should prevail.

Most of us understand the power of touch in changing brain chemistry, which then influences all the other hormones and these in turn influence every part of our being...mentally and physically.

..............This is not a secret, neither is it rocket science, or 'magic'!

I am at a loss as to why much of the accepted nutritional advice is so logically incorrect and does not marry up to metabolic process understandings....and yet the FSA, Diabetes UK, hospital nutritionists, etc. still advise... 'low fat' no saturates, sugar in moderation and "a third of our diet should be starchy carbohydrates"!

Big food industry maybe influencing things?

November 14, 2007 01:00

Harradine said:

Hello dgtucker.

If I may, I the type of hands on therapies that you meantion having real benefit in the field of palliative care.  When people really are very ill and hospitalised, it is right to plonk them in a bed and periodically have a doctor approach them with possible bad, then worse, then eventually the worst of all news?  Sure, people must know what is happening and it would be unethical to mislead them.  But what harm (and indeed, surely of benefit) would it do to have a practicioner use some hands on method that might help releive that persons pain in a way that would not alter their awareness in the way that morphine does.  

But I would not say this was an alternative to evidence based medicine, but complimetary to it.  I would even say money would be better spent making hospital meals better, or even providing (forgive me) some truely ralxing experiences such as music or massage to dying patients than the costs incurred by overprescribing medicine to people whose lifetysle have lead them to require them.

But, I suppose, it is very diffcult for everyone to follow the correct lifetysle.

Conventuional wisdom sets out guidellines on what an ideal balanced diet should be.  It only does this since modern food option mean that very high saturated fat intake is the norm for many people.  Guidelines really just that- guidelines.  Of course, they do not aply to everyone.  Someone who sits at a desk all day needs very little carbodhydrate.  Someone who works on a building site all day needs more.  

Of course our bodies cannot function without the correct level of lipid intake, it is vital.  The problem is that, on a population basis, this appears to have gone too far and we are exposed to very high levels of saturate fat unlike ever before, and so health authorities provide this advice even though it doesn't apply to everyone (I doubt Dame Kelly Holmes, the Olmpic runner, nneds too much remindind from DoH on diet).

One could blame food manufacturers (just as much as pharma comapnies in my view).  Or we could blame our own bad choices in the face of good medical advice (do not cut out saturated fat, just reduce it).  Intersting.

November 14, 2007 01:20

Harradine said:

But yes, to answer you point, I think the food industry is has a lot to answer and is in no way near as regulated as the pharma industry.  However, it knows this and is preparing for possible litigation.  
November 14, 2007 01:22

simone plaut said:

allopathic medicine has for long enjoyed the megabucks of the global pharma giants. complementary medicine has no such financial backing, I know only too well, as I am currently one of the braved, doing an MSc in nutrition. I have to use my own money to fund my research. David and Goliath springs to mind. A trial is costing me a few thousand pounds. A double blind placebo controlled crossover trial........hundreds of thousands, and then i wont be able to publish in mainstream medical journals as the pharma giants who fund them via advertising will block my research as it doesnt suit them.

get real guys.....this is a paradigm war of the most incredible proportions.....survival of the human race is at stake.......maybe no bad thing reading some of the entrenched views written in this discussion.

November 14, 2007 07:33

Harradine said:

That's a very cynical and might I say melodramatic opinion!  Pharmaceutical companies are not the only sources of funding for medical research.  Tax payers for one, contribute via the Medical Research Council.  Thw wellcome Trust are the major source of charitable funding?

I take it you have applied to these sources and from what you say, have failed to be awarded any funding?  That's not unusual.

The trial I suggested would definitely not cost a few hundred thousand pounds.  Why has no one done it?  And if such experiments have never been done, can never be done because of a lack of funding, then how can you claim that your methods are anything more than untested hypotheses?  You've just talked yourself out of having any evidence..

November 14, 2007 12:16

graham ewing said:

To address Mr Harradine's comments:  biomedicine does NOT address the physiological systems because until now very little has been known of their structures.  It focusses upon organ function and that of cell and molecular biochemistry.

If you consider that the physiological systems regulate the processes of pH, temperature, blood cell content, osmotic pressure - the reaction kinetics affecting every reaction and extraction in the body - then you will understand that there is an emerging understanding of what constitutes a placebo effect, a psychosomatic effect and the influences exerted by the physiological systems.  

Let me repeat again the claims of Russian researchers who have isolated the polyclonal antibodies associated with homeopathy. These are being produced and used in pharmaceutical formulations. Moreover there is a manufacturing relationship with the UK company Angel Biotechnology.  These polyclonal antibodies are now the subject of big pharma research.  There is no doubt that homeopathy works - there is doubt that homeopathic practitioners are able to use the technology precisely. This is not a criticism just an obervation that practitioners are human and humans make mistakes.

My final comment is related to the assumption that clinical trials are the best way. Do I doubt that such an evidence-based approach is necessary - no - but I am sceptical that the process of clinical trials is subject to abuse.  Such methods must always be reviewed and revised. There must be satisfactory safeguards and I doubt that this is the case.  The fact that there are so many side-effects due to drugs and vaccines proves that the system is not sufficiently robust.

Science is only as good as the prevailing state of knowledge!  Where will our understanding be in 10, 20 or 50 years? Look back and see the history of medicine. It is littered with theories and therapies which have over time been discredited.  Biomedicine still believes in the reductionist approach and that the function of brain and body are entirely separate. Enough said. The end.

November 14, 2007 15:43

Harradine said:

Graham, just to stress, that biomedicine definitely DOES adress physiology.  The study of physiology it a major branch of biological science.

No modern biological view sees the brain and the body as separate.  The brain is part of the body, (quite an important part actually!).  It is no more seperate from the body that the lungs are.  

You are just redefining medical science to make it mean whatever you would like it to mean!

Scientific knwoledge will only progress at its current rate if people abandon belef held systems and claim that they are beyind the relams of scientific understanding and experimental testing, even when they are quite easily tested.

Instead of repeating your information about the Russian researcher, why not provide names, location, research details, publications, references i.e., where you got this information from, so we can check it for ourselves?

November 14, 2007 16:53

dgtucker said:

To all taking part here....Take a look in the real world to see the 'real' results....of westernised dietry habits....pharmaceutical industry influences.

You may find some very interesting information/logic/research references at the following links.....

.....Then, make your own minds up as to what is really happening!

I don't agree that we are generally eating too much saturated fat.In fact the opposite generally and the lipid 'damage' is often from vegetable oils,not animal fats!

I expect that many of us here are very aware of the hundreds of thousands of people...evey year....  who are seriously damaged, or worse, by the Pharmaceutical industries products....qute a problem and paradox, for the takers of the hypocratic oath I would think...

November 14, 2007 16:53

graham ewing said:

Dear Mr Harradine,

The existence of such theoretical viewpoints are included in the technology VIRTUAL SCANNING.  There is now a 440 page textbook available about this technology and its origins: 'Virtual Scanning - a new generation of healthcare - beyond biomedicine?'. It was published in August 2007 and has received excellent book reviews.

You keep missing the point that the study of the body's PHYSIOLOGICAL SYSTEMS is a major omission in medical research.  Their existence is not in dispute - refer to the MERCK MANUAL pages 3-5 - but in terms of the practical consideration of these systems all current research explores merely the symptoms associated with their abnormal function and not how they regulate organ function, cell and molecular biochemistry.  I hope that I have made the issue quite clear.

If there are SYSTEMS which regulate the body's function then knowledge of their function can be used to induce health and wellbeing.

I must also take issue with you when you reject that mental and physiological health i.e. the brain and body, are dealt with separately. This is just not so.  In Nottingham we have the mental health trust and we have the two hospitals which deal with issues related to the body e.g. births, deaths, injuries, etc.  There are drugs for the brain and drugs for the body 'and never the twain shall meet.'

Every medical reaction in the body is subject to the same reaction kinetics that apply to each and every chemical reaction.  In chemistry this is pH, temperature, pressure, concentration of reagents, catalysts and the levels of reacting products and waste products. The same applies in the human body. These are pH, temperature, concentration of reagents (vitamins), catalysts (minerals e.g. Magnesium, Selenium, Zinc, Chromium), levels of proteins and substrates, and the toxins which accumulate.  Their levels are regulated by the physiological systems which regulate pH, temperature, breathing (oxygen), osmotic pressure (Sodium/Potassium), excretion (accumulation of toxins), digestion (levels of blood glucose, vitamins and nutrients), etc.

The existence of these systems is not in dispute. Look up physiological systems or systems biology on the net and see the work of specialist researchers.  What has been identified by Russian researchers is the structures of the physiological systems and how they are regulated presumably as part of the autonomic nervous system.  This is what is so exciting.

November 14, 2007 17:47

Harradine said:

Its sounds like you are using the term "physiological systems" in a rather peculiar way.  The nervous system for example is a physiological system, (neurophysyiology) as is the immune system, circulatory system, digestive system, etc, etc.  It is well known and should be rather obvious, that they all intereact to form a functioning body.

Medical science definitely doesn't beleive that that which we call mind is a function of our very complex brain.  But a completel neuroscientific understanding would not provide us with a full understanding of mind, since so much of what makes up mind is subjective experience.  But your view that because psychiatrist exist independent of other branches of medicine, that this proves medical science has a dualit view is just plain wrong.  Ask any neuroscientist.

Biological science does study physiological systems.  In studid them in great detail.  In fact that's where out knowledge of them comes from?  

I'm afriad you've lost me, I really can't follow what point you are making at all.

November 14, 2007 18:11

marlene said:

Harradine, 'Stuttgart Zeitung' 18.4.92; In Heidlberg, the govt. dept. of food & veterinary medicine looks upon anti-biotics as taboo. as a result of chicken problems such  infections of the respiratory system, diarrhoea & other typical diseases have been treated with Homeopathic remedies with high success....When treatment was first introduced everyone was sceptical. However after seeing the results 140 management companies have switched to Homeopathic therapy & no anti-biotics have been used for 10 years:     (Alternatively trained) vet Chris Day, has successfully treated  many herds of cows for mastitis using Homeopathy,  as well as other animals for a variety of diseases: I quote a letter from David Eyles, California Farm Dorset; "In our flock of over 150 ewes, disease can overwhelm the most vulnerable at lambing time. Although we vaccinate against pasturella, we still get a number of lambs that are infected. They can catch pneumonia, which if left untreated, will cause death, somethimes within 24 hours.   Using soley Homepathic remedies, the progress of the disease is halted within a couple of hours of intensive lambing time our use of anti-biotics is almost nil":   Just 2 of numerous examples. Anecdotal, I don't think so.  Sceptism arises due to dilutions in water-how can something so simple be effective? A  discovery was recently published regarding halving heating bills 'The device seems to break the fundamental physical law that energy can be created from nothing-but researchers believe it taps into a previously unrecognised source of energy, stored at a sub-atomic level within the hydrogen atoms in violates every known law of physics....'.  You assume that  cheap effective treatments would be adopted by governments, but as Dr Joe collier points out in is book 'The Health Conspiracy', '..the Dept. of Health,  Universities, & medical establishments are undermined by the lobbying power of giant drug companies..'   How many 'so called 'independant' research establishments such as the MRC receive funding from drug companies -whose prime motivation is profit?.  Yes I am cynical. Lets face it if the NHS adopted cheap alternative treatments the pharmaceutical would collapse & the government would lose millions in revenue. Its in their (financial) interest to maintain the status quo.  Damaging reports about  alternative treatments emanate from drug companies afraid of losing their multi-billion pound market.
November 17, 2007 11:21

Harradine said:


The examples you give really are just that- examples.  Hence, anecdotal evidence (that's what I mean by anecdotal evidence: a collection of examples that suggest something (in this case, that homeopathy can be used to successfully treat animals).  But that is all anecdotes can do- provide a hypothesis that can then be tested under controlled conditions to rule out alternative explanations.  You haven't provided any evidence for that (and the onus in on you to do so, since it is your claim), so yes, your evidence remains no better than anecdotal.

Don't get me wrong, I am not being biased against homepathy here.  This is what scientists say to each other all the time!  Make a claim and expect to be pushed for sound evidence or a request to withdraw the claim.

Since you admit you are cynical, then their really is little point with any dialogue with you.  it is completely pointless to debate with a cynic- by definition their minds are made up, they beleive what they want to beleive regardless of any evidence to the contrary.  it is an irrational position so, with the greatest of respect, not one really worth engaging.

You own logic is in peices though.  One the one hand, the government reject alternative treatments (which isn't even true) becuase of the financial cost to the pharmaceutical industry.  On the other hand, the mind boggling massive revnue saved if the NHS were to adopt water-based treatments doesn't come into your logic, it is just dicounted by you.  So, as you admit, your opinion os not based on sense, just an ingrained cynicism of all thing pharma.  

Damagin report about homeopathy don't come from pharma.  They come directly from homepathy practicioners themselves, who cannot provide evidence for any effects greater than placebo.  That's really where the problem lies.  Of course, I would be in total agreement with your conspiracy theories if there was sound evidence that homeopathy genuine does work just as well if not better than evidence based treatments.  But it doesn't exist, when tried it fails.  It obviously means a great deal to many people who feel very strongly about this particular topic.  But sadly that doesn't make it work!

Just don't go telling people who really are ill and need proper medical care than homeopathy is anything more than placebo until you have GOOD evidence for that (instead of a couple of stories that reinforce what you will beleive regardless of the evidence against!)

November 19, 2007 17:23

Harradine said:

So lets suppose homepathy does work in animals?  I ask again, does the practicioner treat the animal as an individual?  How can they treat the animal, when they do not use diagnoses, or believe in them?  

Is each treatment for each animal unique, as it is in humans?  If not, then why not?

Some more detail about this would be appreciated because so far it seems very vague.

November 19, 2007 17:25

mfphillips said:

I trained as a physiologist and then for a while worked in the pharmaceutical industry. I saw how drugs were promoted vigorously to the medical profession, how GPs were and still are advised by company reps with little real scientific knowledge, backed by highly selected published trial results.

Ten years ago I had a brief flirtation with breast cancer and, finding the drug treatment on offer(through a huge clinical trail then in progress) made me feel quite ill, I spent my last salary cheques before retirement on visits to a variety of alternative practioners, first to cope with the effects of the drugs (which it was later revealed to me were not appropriate for my kind of tumour) and then in the interests of maintaining general health and discouraging recurrences.

Well I am still here to tell the tale. I have found the herbalist very helpful indeed, the acupuncturist also and, yes, homeopathy works! Not always, not for everyone, but with a little foreknowledge the results can be very surprising. It is a fascinating area.

Don't you think it's worth remembering that the human body has a natural tendency to heal itself. We all tend towards recovery. All medical treatment, whether surgical, pharmaceutical, psychiatric or psychological, or 'alternative' simply helps, encourages or enhances the physiological trends which are already in place. Maybe alternative treatments simply trigger the body's own healing tendencies. But, before we dismiss treatments as "no better than a placebo" we need to be properly thankful that a placebo can work and understand why and when, so that we can use it in a variety of applications and situations, instead of squabbling in this ridiculous way! We need a 'science of recovery'.

Moira Phillips

November 21, 2007 10:51

Harradine said:

I'm happy with that- explore the placebo effect further.  Of course, that would be a very interest way to go.  

What I am against is saying that something which is placebo is actually something else.  Admit that is placebo and study it properly without the need for further claim.

November 21, 2007 13:27

marlene thompson said:

The successes of animals treated with Homeopathy are my own(cats, dogs and horses) and that of several other pet owners I'm in contact with. (with no debilitating side effects) And following another attack on Homeopathy, several farmers wrote to the media reporting success in treating mastitis in cows.  A Homeopathic vet would be pleased to explain how whole herds are treated.   Conventional medicine is 'proved' by evidence based trials etc.,  yet according to Allen Roses, of GSK, 'it is an open secret within the industry that the majority of drugs do not work in most people' and as reported in JAMA are the '4th major cause of death'. Did the evidence based trials indicate this?  Governments and medical establishments promote the pharmaceutical industry because they are so dependant upon revenue/funding from them. If they adopted cheap alternatives the pharmaceutical industry would collapse resulting in thousands of job losses and billions in revenue. When John Gummer was Minister of Agriculture he was overheard discussing the dangers of OPs and admitted 'we daren't ban the stuff otherwise we'd have the full weight of the chemical industry on our back and the government can't afford that'.  A recent report indicates the flu vaccine doesn't work but the governemnt still promotes it. Gardasil has caused death and injury to hundreds of young women, but the government are still introducing it next year. Chicken-pox is a mild diseases so why does the government want children to be vaccinated?  Sometimes it is placebo when a treatment is successful, alternative or otherwise, but Homeopathy doesn't carry the risks that chemical drugs do. Whilst the pharmaceutical industry dominates medicine alternative therapies will always be under attack. Hardly surprising more and more people are becoming cynical.
November 22, 2007 10:46

Harradine said:

Your personal experience, and that of several farmers are examples of anecdotal evidence- case reports.  They provide evidence only of a hypothesis than can then be tested, but by themselves do not contitute better evidence than this.  

Well, if there are any homeopathic vets reading this site, maybe they can answer.  When I have spoken to homeopaths, they tell me that their methods do not use diagnosis (they treat the patient, not the symptoms) and that every treatment is therefore individual for each patient.  So who does this tranlsate into treating for example, a herd of cows?  Does each cow recieve an individual treatment?  On what basis does one decide?  Why is the farmer calling the homeopath in the first place, if a diagnosis is not necessary (you use the example of mastitis.  That's a diagnosis.  So does homeopathy use diagnosis or not?)

Your quote Allen Roses out of context.  Do you know why he said that?  His comment was from a conferece where Rose was promoting the value of pharmacogenetics- the technology that allows medicine to be matched to specific genetic profiles.  Am evidence based technology with huge potential.  Roses comments were extreme to highlight the importance of this technology.  Marketing talk.  But if you think otherwise, lets have some examples.  Tell me about a medicine which is commonly used but which doesn't work for most people?  Just one.

Again, we hear the same non-logic.  Asked to provide evidence that homeopathy works (anyone would think this was difficult to do), we are faced with anecdotes of how people "swear by it" (which is definite evidence of placebo effects and nothing more), then a tirade about the evils of Big Pharma and how the only reason why homeopathy hasn't replaced evidence based medicine is because of economic and political pressure on the UK government by Big Pharma.

Think about this carefully.  Firstly, what evidence is being opressed by Big Pharma that homepathy works?  Where is this mountain of evidence provided by homepaths, that has failed to make it into any published journal failed to make it past peer review, failed to convince anyone, but exists?  If the evidence was there, if the NHS could slash its buget by many billions, you don't think there would then be just as real economic and political pressure to use that instead!?  You beleive that a great conspiracy exists, so no wonder you are cynical.  Cynics rarely require any evidence to support what they beleive.  They just know it to be so.  I'm afriad that's just not good enough a basis for any sort of rational thinking.

Yes, placebo is a very real effect, an ackowledged one.  Conventional medicines are tested and must demonstrate that they have an effect independant of this.  Homeopathy doesn't.  I don't have any problem with that, if homeopthy makes people feel better, then great.  What is unacceptible to to argue against the mountain of evidence that this effect is more than placebo.  I would have infintitely more respect for the homeopath who would stand up and admit reason, admit waht the evidence is saying and explore the advance placebo effects of their treatments properly.  That would be so refreshing, they would be accepted as rational people, as opposed to dreaming up some hocus pocus about the memory of water, while ignoring the vast, huge wholes in that silly idea and covering them over with "ahh, but you just have a closed mind about these things".  

Science criticises itself and its methods perpetually, if it doesn't it is not science, it is just gabble.  Homeopathy never criticise their own methods (obviously).  That's why they are utterly woeful at definding them also.

November 23, 2007 11:50

whale said:

Which is why alternative medicine is viewed as ‘unscientific’.

Just medical politics.  Alternative medicine has a monopoly so it can say what it wants and that only gets reported as Allopathy Inc also owns the media.  

That is why we get that absurd name--complementary medicine, an invention of allopathy as they hate the word alternative for obvious reasons but had to offer some crumbs to alt med.  then surprise surprise, you get the aburd prof of comp med, we all know who, who trashes alt med/comp med at every opportunity.  Hello?  Talk about a setup.


and notice it is always homeopathy who gets kicked, and no right of reply, and no articles by homeopaths that I have ever seen in media.  Only Allopathic experts ever get media space.  Pretty obvious what is going on.

and you will never hear about the well proven Vitamin C cure for infections

November 23, 2007 18:44

Harradine said:

Again, you mention this "well proven" vitamin C treatment that can cure infections.

Vitamin C is essential for good health and proper immunity, but provided someone has a good diet, they will be getting enough.

You provide a link that doesn't actually provide any evidence for this effect that you claim- just quotes from a doctor saying how much it works.  Anyone can say anything they like!  That doesn't make it so.

We need to see research before beleiving this effect, let alone advise others that it is "well proven"

Why is this evidence so hard to produce, right here?

November 25, 2007 23:39

whale said:

I give you credit for carrying on singing the pharma song even though

the miners are all dead about you

"let alone advise others that it is "well proven"


I would have though 1,200 peer review citations was a bit of a pointer

plus 2 medical doctors 40 years work in clinical practice

plus the top 2 nutritional scientists (Stone & Pauling)

would be enough for anyone who can think for themselves

you mean, the evidence was enough for Pauling, who was

the expert, but not enough for you?

what sort of evidence do you want exactly?

one that comes down the pharma pipeline from Glaxo?

or, let me guess, the evidence to show MMR causes autism?

that is never going to be enough, even if every kids get vaccine autism

you can't 'believe' anything other than pharma, so save me the bull'

November 26, 2007 08:08

Harradine said:

Whale, I don't mean tell me that there are 1200 peer reviewed publications (I believe you!).  I meant provide references to them.  Ok, I'm not going to go through all 1200, but a collection of the most high quality ones would be the best way.

The link you provided just leads to an articles which refers to these publications:


[2006] Stop America's #1 Killer by Thomas Levy MD, JD

[2002] Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins: Curing the Incurable by Thomas E. Levy, M.D., J.D.    

[2002] The Roots of Disease: Connecting Dentistry & Medicine with Robert Kulacz, D.D.S.; Foreword by James Earl Jones

[2001] Optimal Nutrition for Optimal Health: The Real Truth About Eating Right for Weight Loss, Detoxification, Low Cholesterol, Better Digestion, and Overall Well-Being

[1999] Uninformed Consent: The Hidden Dangers in Dental Care with Hal Huggins, D.D.S., M.S.

And of course I will beleive something that isn't pharma!  Plenty of evidence based treatments have absolutely nothing to do with drug therapy, so obviously.  And nor do I beleive all data that comes from pharmaceutical companies (God forbid).  This whole polar idea you have is a real red herring.

Anyway, maybe you have provided the link already and I missed it, but I would like to have a look at whichever of the 1200 studies you feel are the strongest.


November 26, 2007 14:49

whale said:

I can't read that, you would have thought WDDTY could provide a forum that doesn't chop your sentence in half.  And one that tells you when someone

replies to your post.

Read his book on Vit C for infections.  

or Klenners articles

and Levy is one of the top nutritional MD in the world, by all accounts,

so he would know would't he.

"And of course I will beleive something that isn't pharma! "

You haven't yet.  I can't think of a more glaringly obvious example

than vit C and infections.  But, if you were after the truth, you would have found

it all by yourself.

November 26, 2007 22:16

harradine said:

Whale, if I read somone's book, it will lay out their argument.  And I would have hoped, refer to the stidied they rely on for evidence.  And then I would have to look at those studied myself.  I might agree with the book's author and I might think they are wrong.  That's what data is for, so we can be impartial and not rely on one author or another, we can be unbiased.

I am interested in the original data. Not an author's book. Even if they are 100% correct and I agree with them anyway, don't you appreciate the difference?  One lets me make my own mind up, the other presents the data as they see it.  I would rather remain unbiased from the outset and make my own mind up.   Wouldn't you?

Don't you?