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Author Topic: Homeopathy - science or studies?  (Read 9936 times)

AbbyB

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Homeopathy - science or studies?
« on: April 01, 2008, 10:34:46 AM »
I've been reading about homeopathic remedies in various places, and I see them on store shelves. What I can't seem to grasp is how they work, or whether there is any science to back up claims of their effectiveness. Have there been any studies along these lines?

Before I spend money on remedies or recommend them to clients, I'd like to know what people in the Bauman community think :)

Offline AmandaL

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Re: Homeopathy - science or studies?
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2008, 12:19:09 PM »
Can you be more specific?  The term "Homeopathic" can be very broad.  I think as with anything, it comes down to specific product and individual responses.

I used several Hylands Homeopathy products on both my children.  My younger son responded better than my older son....their physical needs and therefore my/their responses to "treatments" are very different.

An example is my older son is 5 and the only time I knew him to have an ear infection was by accident.  The doctor saw a double ear infection when I took him in for his yearly "well child" appiontment. It cleared on its own and he never complained.   My younger son, 4, got ear infections often as a baby and now gets swimmers ear often, and experiences much pain.   Instead of antibiotics, I treat with a combination of chiropractic care, Hylands ear tablets and a perscription topical ear drop that temporarily numbs.  I also flush his ears regularly with hydrogen peroxide.       

When my older son was a baby the Hylands Homeopath teething tablets did nothing,  but were very helpful for my younger.

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AbbyB

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Re: Homeopathy - science or studies?
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2008, 02:04:32 PM »
Thanks for sharing your experience, Amanda. When I said "homeopathy," I was referring to the specific theory that "like treats like" and that minute amounts of certain substances can treat health conditions. I suppose I am over-skeptical, but the theory behind classical homeopathy seems suspect to me. The dilutions are in parts per million, in some cases, as far as I understand. The idea behind homeopathy seems antiquated and close to hocus-pocus. However, I know many people who have had results from homeopathic remedies. I was curious as to whether there had been any controlled studies or research on the effectiveness of homeopathy, as practiced by trained professionals.

It sounds like in your case, the remedies worked for one son, but not another. The fact that they work for some people is very interesting to me - I guess I just don't understand the mechanism.

Offline jodi f.

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Re: Homeopathy - science or studies?
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2008, 01:25:26 PM »
Hey Abby,

Here are some links for you that discuss the efficacy of homeopathy. There are also some meta-analyses that dispute this. I just chose a few; Google Scholar can provide you with more than a lifetime's worth of reading. Just type in, "homeopathy".

Have fun,
Jodi

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0ISW/is_243/ai_109946495

http://ecam.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/4/2/271.pdf

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&uid=12725250&cmd=showdetailview&indexed=google

http://www.homeovet.cl/lecturas/A%20critical%20overview%20of%20homeopathy.pdf (long article)

AbbyB

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Re: Homeopathy - science or studies?
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2008, 02:30:55 PM »
Thanks, Jodi! These are great links.

I've been looking around some more, and from what I've been reading, I gather that results of controlled clinical trials have been inconclusive: Homeopathy is more effective than placebo in some of the studies, but not in others. And, its mechanism remains a mystery. Maybe this is a case where conventional science hasn't caught up with alternative therapies. It wouldn't be the first time!

Offline fleaf

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Re: Homeopathy - science or studies?
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2008, 12:00:05 PM »
Hi, Jodi and Abby:

Here's my take on this great subject:

I find the mechanism of homeopathy understandable when I think of remedies as energetic information.  It differs from allopathic medicine in that it is not about layering a chemical upon a symptom, but rather seeking to inform the energetic body in order that the organism can come back into balance, at which point the symptom of imbalance can disappear.  There are a number of reasons why homeopathy may or may not "work" for one or another person or in one or another circumstance.  One important aspect is that the remedy must be skillfully proposed.  As in anything, not all formulas will work in all circumstances for all persons.  The reason for the imbalance may, in some situations, be more pertinent than the symptom that results.  Trying to correct the symptom without addressing the reason for it may then result in failure to ameliorate.  In other cases, I think that different people are better or worse able to respond to these very subtle energetic remedies.  So, my personal theory is that someone who smokes tobacco, drinks lots of alcohol, eats a nutritionally poor diet (etc) may be less able to make use of subtle energetic information on the physical level than another person who may live more "lightly" as it were.  One of the reasons that "studies" will likely remain inconclusive is that by its own descriptors, homeopathy doesn't lend itself to population based analysis. The remedies are specific to the individual and the circumstance.  Why would we expect a double-blind placebo study to be an appropriate means of judging whether a specific remedy works for a specific person in a specific instance? 

The fact that generic homeopathic remedies are offered in stores is an economic and lifestyle mechanism.  This is distinctive from consulting with a gifted practitioner who learns about you and makes a recommendation for one or a series of remedies calibrated to bring you (or your loved one) from a specific state of imbalance into a renewed state of integrated wholeness.

Happy sleuthing...
« Last Edit: April 04, 2008, 12:05:00 PM by fleaf »
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Offline jodi f.

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Re: Homeopathy - science or studies?
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2008, 06:05:49 PM »
Fern,

Beautifully put, thank you. I have this skeptical mind that wants to know there's some science behind my recommendations. But I also work from my right brain, and sometimes things just feel right. Homeopathy, done correctly, has always made sense to me on an intuitive level, and the more I learn about how water is affected by different energies, the more sense it makes.

Also, I can't currently find them on line, but 2 UCLA researchers, working independently, both found subtle energetic differences in solutions that were carefully prepared according to homeopathic strictures. None of their solutions contained any molecules of the substances from which they prepared their formulas. I'm never surprised when rigidly controlled scientific experiments fail to find conclusive efficacy for natural remedies. There are too many genetic, diet and lifestyle variables they can't control for. And regarding homeopathy specifically, as you said, why would anyone expect one remedy to work for all subjects?

Offline MarliseK

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Re: Homeopathy - science or studies?
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2008, 04:45:18 PM »

@ Fern:
Thank you for this really accurate summary!

@ Abby:

As Fern outlined in her posting there is no “one fits all” approach possible in Homeopathy. Therefore, alternative study designs have to be defined. One study I know of is the one cited below. This study was carried out at the University of Bern, Switzerland and is broadly accepted in the homeopathic community as well as by conventional physicians. The study shows a significant beneficial effect of homeopathy.

The study includes the individual approach of Homeopathy. The first step was to choose the Similimum (which is the medicine that has the highest possible similarity with the patient's symptoms) for every patient. In the next step, this medicine was administered to the patients to verify that it is working and only then the real study began: the verum group continued taking the medicine and the placebo group continued with a placebo.

The study:
Frei H, Everts R, von Ammon K, Kaufmann F, Walther D, Schmitz SF, Collenberg M, Steinlin M, Lim C, Thurneysen A. Randomised controlled trials of homeopathy in hyperactive children: treatment procedure leads to an unconventional study design. Experience with open-label homeopathic treatment preceding the Swiss ADHD placebo controlled, randomised, double-blind, cross-over trial. Homeopathy 2007 Jan; 96(1): 35-41.

A summary can be found on pubmed:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17227746?ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

AbbyB

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Re: Homeopathy - science or studies?
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2008, 10:37:36 PM »
Now that's an interesting way to structure a study! From what all of you have been saying, I can see that the application of homeopathy is a bit trickier than just suggesting a homeopathic remedy for a particular condition; it requires a good deal of individualized assessment and a whole lot of knowledge.

A related topic: Has anyone had success or experience with Bach Flower Remedies? The use of these remedies also seems to require some sort of esoteric knowledge, although they're showing up in Long's and other mainstream retailers.

Offline Marlina E

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Re: Homeopathy - science or studies?
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2008, 01:52:15 PM »
Can't get into the scientifics about how the Flower Remedies work, but if anything, the 5 flower combination sold as Rescue Remedy definitely works to ease stress.

Case in point, a BC student many years ago started her car, noticed that she left her book on top of the car, got out to get it and the car was somehow driving itself backwards. In a poor move, she attempted to reach in with her hand to hit the brake and it didn't really work and she was dragged accross the parking lot until her car hit another car and stopped.  She came in crying and understandably hysterical, with her pants ripped at her thigh and her roadburned skin embedded with asphalt.  We immediately gave her Rescue Remedy, she calmed down and was calm thoughout the ride to the hospital and the scrubbing of her thigh with a metal brush to remove the embedded asphalt. 

Also, went to a vet some years ago in Morgan Hill to get some shot for a dog I was taking care of before he went into a kennel for a week. The very conventional appearing vet asked why the dog was going to the kennel and I said that I was going to an herbal symposium.  He said, "oh yeah, I know about those things, I use that stuff Rescue Remedy on animals when they come in with trauma from accidents.  I have even given the drops to an animal lying in the street after being hit by a car."  I looked at him and said, "That doesn't sound like standard vetrinary practice." and he said, "No, it isn't, but it works!"

I think that Rescue Remedy should be in EVERYONES home and/or purse.  (Especially moms!)  The fact of the matter is that works.  It alleviate physical and mental stress, but you will never actually feel it working. It just does.

You can buy a cheaper version of it by Healing Herbs brand called Five-Flower Formula.

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AbbyB

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Re: Homeopathy - science or studies?
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2008, 09:25:18 PM »
I will definitely give Rescue Remedy a try to see if it works for me. I'll also ask my husband and a couple of friends to try it when they're under stress. Very intriguing!

Thanks for examples, Marlina!

Offline Marlina E

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Re: Homeopathy - science or studies?
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2008, 10:53:44 PM »
Here's one more...my girlfriend, a first grade teacher, notices a big difference when she sprays down the children's desk with Rescue Remedy in water before they get to school in the morning....

One more, in my herb class, one of the moms in there mentioned that her daughter plays vollyball and the bleachers where she sits are always full of unruly other parents.  On a hot afternoon, she had a spray bottle of water with a couple drops of Rescue Remedy and in obliging their misting, she also noticed a less edgy atmosphere...

And finally, we adopted a cat in February.  Monet gets a bit edgy, especially in the beginning.  I put a drop of RR in her water dish....seems to even out the rough edges.

Gosh, funny to think of all of the ways I have experienced it's use.

At Bauman College, we always have a bottle handy...you never know when it might be useful!
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