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 homeopathy - Omeopatia

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MessaggioOggetto: Re: homeopathy - Omeopatia   Lun 28 Set 2009 - 17:44


Why Water "Clumping" Does Not
Support Homeopathic Theory
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
On November 7, 2001, with the teaser, "homeopathy isn't all hokum," New Scientist magazine's Web site published an article that began:
It is a chance discovery so unexpected it defies belief and threatens to reignite debate about whether there is a scientific basis for thinking homeopathic medicines really work.
A team in South Korea has discovered a whole new dimension to just about the simplest chemical reaction in the book -- what happens when you dissolve a substance in water and then add more water.
Conventional wisdom says that the dissolved molecules simply spread further and further apart as a solution is diluted. But two chemists have found that some do the opposite: they clump together, first as clusters of molecules, then as bigger aggregates of those clusters. Far from drifting apart from their neighbours, they got closer together.
The discovery has stunned chemists, and could provide the first scientific insight into how some homeopathic remedies work. Homeopaths repeatedly dilute medications, believing that the higher the dilution, the more potent the remedy becomes.
Some dilute to "infinity" until no molecules of the remedy remain. They believe that water holds a memory, or "imprint" of the active ingredient which is more potent than the ingredient itself. But others use less dilute solutions. . . . The Korean findings might at last go some way to reconciling the potency of these less dilute solutions with orthodox science [1].
The article to which this referred was published in Chemical Communications, the journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry [2]. Since the article does not mention homeopathy, I asked one of its authors (Kurt E. Geckeler, M.D., Ph.D.) whether the study implied anything about it. He replied:
As you stated correctly, the word homeopathy is not mentioned in the original paper and the study itself has nothing to do with it. It only states that on dilution (up to mM conc.) of a number of substances in water, an increase of particle size was observed. It was a laboratory study -- everything beyond that is speculation at this point. What journalists make out of our publication is beyond our control. Nevertheless, if confirmed, it might have implications in many different areas [3].
Homeopathic products are prepared by repeatedly diluting the original substance so that the each dilution is 1/10th or 1/100th as concentrated as the previous one. The clumping of molecules simply means that instead of each dilution taking a random sample of the molecules in a solution, it might take more-- or less -- than would be expected with an even distribution. (In other words, if molecules of a substance clumps in one place, there will be fewer molecules in other places.) With repeated dilution, the ultimate number of "active ingredient" molecules would approach zero whether clumping occurs or not. Clumping would not increase the number of molecules as the "active ingredient" is repeatedly diluted, so the remedy cannot grow stronger as the solution becomes more dilute. Nor does Dr. Geckeler's experiment support homeopathy's absurd notion that water can "remember" molecules that are no longer there.
1. Coghlin A. Bizarre chemical discovery gives homeopathic hint. New Scientist, Nov 10, 2001, pp 4-5.
2. Samal A, Geckeler KE. Unexpected solute aggregation in water on dilution. Chemical Communications 2224-2225, 2001.
3. E-mail message from Dr. Geckler to Dr. Barrett, November 12, 2001.
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: homeopathy - Omeopatia   Lun 28 Set 2009 - 17:44

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MessaggioOggetto: Re: homeopathy - Omeopatia   Lun 28 Set 2009 - 17:45


Real Medicine or Empty Promises?
Isadora Stehlin
FDA Public Affairs Officer
This article is reprinted from the December 1996 issue of FDA Consumer. The article is written in a so-called "balanced" style that gives equal space to opposing viewpoints without indicating which one is more logical. Spokespeople for the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics either were were either ignorant about homeopathy or were afraid to speak out clearly against it. Dr. William Jarvis responded to the article with a letter that was published in the April 1997 issue. To provide additional guidance, Dr. Stephen Barrett has added several notes in bold-faced type. Dr. William
Some of the medicines of homeopathy evoke positive images -- chamomile, marigold, daisy, onion. But even some of Mother Nature's cruelest creations -- poison ivy, mercury, arsenic, pit viper venom, hemlock -- are part of homeopathic care.
Homeopathy is a medical theory and practice that developed in reaction to the bloodletting, blistering, purging, and other harsh procedures of conventional medicine as it was practiced more than 200 years ago. Remedies made from many sources--including plants, minerals or animals--are prescribed based on both a person's symptoms and personality. Patients receiving homeopathic care frequently feel worse before they get better because homeopathic medicines often stimulate, rather than suppress, symptoms. This seeming reversal of logic is a relevant part of homeopathy because symptoms are viewed as the body's effort to restore health.
The Food and Drug Administration regulates homeopathic remedies under provisions of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
Kinder, Gentler Medicine
In the late 1700s, the most popular therapy for most ailments was bloodletting. Some doctors had so much faith in bleeding that they were willing to remove up to four-fifths of the patient's blood. Other therapies of choice included blistering -- placing caustic or hot substances on the skin to draw out infections -- and administering dangerous chemicals to induce vomiting or purge the bowels. Massive doses of a mercury-containing drug called calomel cleansed the bowels, but at the same time caused teeth to loosen, hair to fall out, and other symptoms of acute mercury poisoning.
Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician disenchanted with these methods, began to develop a theory based on three principles: the law of similars, the minimum dose, and the single remedy.
The word homeopathy is derived from the Greek words for like (homoios) and suffering (pathos). With the law of similars, Hahnemann theorized that if a large amount of a substance causes certain symptoms in a healthy person, smaller amounts of the same substance can treat those symptoms in someone who is ill. The basis of his theory took shape after a strong dose of the malaria treatment quinine caused his healthy body to develop symptoms similar to ones caused by the disease. He continued to test his theory on himself as well as family and friends with different herbs, minerals and other substances. He called these experiments "provings."
But, as might be expected, the intensity of the symptoms caused by the original proving was harrowing. So Hahnemann began decreasing the doses to see how little of a substance could still produce signs of healing.
With the minimum dose, or law of infinitesimals, Hahnemann believed that a substance's strength and effectiveness increased the more it was diluted. Minuscule doses were prepared by repeatedly diluting the active ingredient by factors of 10. A "6X" preparation (the X is the Roman numeral for 10) is a 1-to-10 dilution repeated six times, leaving the active ingredient as one part per million. Essential to the process of increasing potency while decreasing the actual amount of the active ingredient is vigorous shaking after each dilution.
Some homeopathic remedies are so dilute, no molecules of the healing substance remain. Even with sophisticated technology now available, analytical chemists may find it difficult or impossible to identify any active ingredient. But the homeopathic belief is that the substance has left its imprint or a spirit-like essence that stimulates the body to heal itself.
Finally, a homeopathic physician generally prescribes only a single remedy to cover all symptoms--mental as well as physical--the patient is experiencing. However, the use of multi-ingredient remedies is recognized as part of homeopathic practice.
FDA Regulation
In 1938, Sen. Royal Copeland of New York, the chief sponsor of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and a homeopathic physician, wrote into the law a recognition of any product listed in the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States. The Homeopathic Pharmacopeia includes a compilation of standards for source, composition and preparation of homeopathic drugs.
FDA regulates homeopathic drugs in several significantly different ways from other drugs. Manufacturers of homeopathic drugs are deferred from submitting new drug applications to FDA. Their products are exempt from good manufacturing practice requirements related to expiration dating and from finished product testing for identity and strength. Homeopathic drugs in solid oral dosage form must have an imprint that identifies the manufacturer and indicates that the drug is homeopathic. The imprint on conventional products, unless specifically exempt, must identify the active ingredient and dosage strength as well as the manufacturer.
"The reasoning behind [the difference] is that homeopathic products contain little or no active ingredients," explains Edward Miracco, a consumer safety officer with FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "From a toxicity, poison-control standpoint, [the active ingredient and strength] was deemed to be unnecessary."
Another difference involves alcohol. Conventional drugs for adults can contain no more than 10 percent alcohol, and the amount is even less for children's medications. But some homeopathic products contain much higher amounts because the agency has temporarily exempted these products from the alcohol limit rules.
"Alcohol is an integral part of many homeopathic products," says Miracco. For this reason, the agency has decided to delay its decision concerning alcohol in homeopathic products while it reviews the necessity of high levels of alcohol.
"Overall, the disparate treatment has been primarily based on the uniqueness of homeopathic products, the lack of any real concern over their safety because they have little or no pharmacologically active ingredients, and because of agency resources and priorities," explains Miracco.
However, homeopathic products are not exempt from all FDA regulations. If a homeopathic drug claims to treat a serious disease such as cancer it can be sold by prescription only. Only products sold for so-called self-limiting conditions -- colds, headaches, and other minor health problems that eventually go away on their own -- can be sold without a prescription (over-the-counter).
Requirements for nonprescription labeling include:
• an ingredients list
• instructions for safe use
• at least one major indication
• dilution (for example 2X for one part per hundred, 3X for one part per thousand).
Over the past several years, the agency has issued about 12 warning letters to homeopathic marketers. The most common infraction was the sale of prescription homeopathic drugs over-the-counter. "It's illegal, it's in violation, and we're going to focus on it," says Miracco.
Other problems include:
• products promoted as homeopathic that contain nonhomeopathic active ingredients, such as vitamins or plants not listed in homeopathic references
• lack of tamper-resistant packaging
• lack of proper labeling
• vague indications for use that could encompass serious disease conditions. For example, a phrase like "treats gastrointestinal disorders" is too general, explains Miracco. "This phrase can encompass a wide variety of conditions, from stomachache or simple diarrhea to colon cancer," he says. "Claims need to be specific so the consumer knows what the product is intended to treat and the indication does not encompass serious disease conditions that would require prescription dispensing and labeling."
In addition to enforcement, the agency is also focusing on preventing problems by educating the homeopathic industry about FDA regulations. "Agency representatives continue to meet with homeopathic trade groups to tell them about problems we've had, difficulties we've seen, and trends we've noticed," says Miracco.
FDA is aware of a few reports of illness associated with the use of homeopathic products. However, agency review of those reported to FDA discounted the homeopathic product involved as the cause of the adverse reaction. In one instance, arsenic, which is a recognized homeopathic ingredient, was implicated. But, as would be expected, FDA analysis revealed the concentration of arsenic was so minute there wasn't enough to cause concern, explains Miracco. "It's been diluted out."
Homeopathic Treatment
Homeopathy consists of highly individualized treatments based on a person's genetic history, personal health history, body type, and present status of all physical, emotional and mental symptoms. [Note by Dr. Barrett: This describes "classical homeopathy, but most practitioners use a cookbook approach that takes much less time.]
Jennifer Jacobs, M.D., who has a family practice and is licensed to practice homeopathy in Washington state, spends at least an hour and a half with each new patient. "What I do is review the lifetime history of the patient's health," she explains. "Also I ask a lot of questions about certain general symptoms such as food preferences and sleep patterns that usually aren't seen as important in conventional medicine. In looking to make the match between the person and the remedy, I need to have all of this sort of information."
Why does someone trained in conventional medicine turn to homeopathy? "With chronic illnesses such as arthritis and allergies, conventional medicine has solutions that help control the symptoms but you don't really see the patients getting better," says Jacobs. "What I have seen in my homeopathic work is that it really does seem to help people get better. I'm not saying I can cure everyone but I do see where people's overall health is improved over the course of treatment."
Jacobs' hasn't abandoned conventional medicine completely. "My daughter is 17 and she's never taken antibiotics, but I would have no hesitation to use antibiotics if she had pneumonia, or meningitis, or a kidney infection," says Jacobs.
About a third of Jacobs' practice is children, and ear infections are one of the most common problems she treats. "Ear infections are something that seems to respond well to homeopathy," she says. "Of course, if a child is not better within two or three days, or if the child develops a high fever, or if I feel that there's a serious complication setting in, then of course I will use antibiotics. But I find that in the majority of cases, ear infections do resolve without antibiotics."
In addition to treating patients, Jacobs has conducted a clinical trial the results of which suggest that homeopathic treatment might be useful in the treatment of acute childhood diarrhea. The results were published in the May 1994 issue of Pediatrics. In the article, Jacobs concluded that further studies should be conducted to determine whether her findings were accurate. A subsequent article appearing in the November 1995 issue of Pediatrics indicated that Jacobs' study was flawed in several ways.
Although Pediatrics is published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Jacobs' study and several others published in such journals as The Lancet and the British Medical Journal are considered "scanty at best" by the academy. "Given the plethora of studies that are published [on other topics] in scientific journals, I wouldn't say there are a lot of articles coming out," says Joe M. Sanders Jr., M.D., the executive director of the academy. "Just because an article appears in a scientific journal does not mean that it's absolute fact and should be immediately incorporated into therapeutic regimens. It just means that the study is [published] for critique and review and hopefully people will use that as a stepping stone for further research."
More studies are under way. For example, the Office of Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health has awarded a grant for a clinical trial of the effects of homeopathic treatment on mild traumatic brain injury.
Even with the dearth of clinical research, homeopathy's popularity in the United States is growing. The 1995 retail sales of homeopathic medicines in the United States were estimated at $201 million and growing at a rate of 20 percent a year, according to the American Homeopathic Pharmaceutical Association. The number of homeopathic practitioners in the United States has increased from fewer than 200 in the 1970s to approximately 3,000 in 1996. [Note by Dr. Barrett: I doubt that this figure is accurate. The number of medical and osteopathic physicians practicing homeopathy is unknown but is probably only a few hundred. A 1998 survey of chiropractors found that 53% of those who responded said that they prescribed homeopathic products to patients. If that figure is representative, about 20,000 were doing this.]
When looking for a homeopathic practitioner, it's important to find someone who is licensed, according to the National Center for Homeopathy. Each state has its own licensing requirements. "Whether that person is a medical doctor or a physician's assistant or a naturopathic physician, I feel that anyone who's treating people who are sick needs to have medical training," says Jacobs. [Note by Dr. Barrett: Since homeopathic products don't work, going to a homeopathic practitioner makes very little sense.]
Real Medicine or Wishful Thinking?
Many who don't believe in homeopathy's effectiveness say any successful treatments are due to the placebo effect, or, in other words, positive thinking. [Note by Dr. Barrett: This notion is simplstic. Although the placebo effect may relieve certain symptoms, it does not cure disease. Most ailments resolve by themselves. Most "successful" homeopathic treatments merely reflect the natural course of the ailment.]
But homeopathy's supporters counter that their medicine works in groups like infants and even animals that can't be influenced by a pep talk. Jacobs adds that sometimes she mistakenly gives a patient the wrong remedy and he or she doesn't get better. "Then I give the right remedy, and the person does get better," she says. "So it's not like everybody gets better because it's all in their head. I think it's only because we don't understand the mechanism of action of homeopathy that so many people have trouble accepting it."
The American Medical Association does not accept homeopathy, but it doesn't reject it either. "The AMA encourages doctors to become aware of alternative therapies and use them when and where appropriate," says AMA spokesman Jim Fox. [Statements like this are ignorant and irresponsible. Homeopathic products have no rational use.]
Similarly, the American Academy of Pediatrics has no specific policy on homeopathy. If an adult asked the academy's Sanders about homeopathy, he would tell that person to "do your own investigation. I don't personally prescribe homeopathic remedies, but I would be open-minded." [Statements like this are ignorant and irresponsible. Homeopathic products have no rational use.]
That open-mindedness applies only to adults, however. "I would have problems with somebody imposing other than conventional medicine onto a child who's incapable of making that decision," he says.
Even professionals who practice homeopathy warn that nothing in medicine -- either conventional or alternative -- is absolute. "I'm not saying we can cure everyone [with homeopathy]," says Jacobs.

Response by William T. Jarvis, Ph.D.
President, National Council Against Health Fraud
Professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine
Loma Linda University Schools of Public Health and Medicine
Isadora Stehlin's article was useful in that it reveals that there is no level playing field for those who market medicines. Homeopathy is a fraud perpetrated on the public with the government's blessing, thanks to the abuse of political power of Sen. Royal Copeland [chief sponsor of the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act].
There are at least six reasons why users may say homeopathic remedies work:
1. The placebo effect. This was inadequately dealt with by Stehlin and obviously misunderstood by Jennifer Jacobs, M.D. Placebo responses are due to more than just pep talks. Belief in a substance is only one mechanism of placebo action. Suggestibility and conditioning are among some others. Animals are subject to both. Recall Pavlov's classical experiments. Animals also respond well to attention by humans. Further, whether the animal is better or not is determined by humans observing the creature, not objective reporting by the animals.
2. Natural ups and downs of symptoms or natural remission. The person (or animal) would have gotten better anyhow through natural healing processes. Such responses can be long term and are unpredictable.
3. The remedy contains an effective dose of real medicine. There is no way of interpreting the labels of homeopathic products because active ingredients are not quantified. There have been reports of toxicity from homeopathic products. Most products are not 24X dilutions.
4. Adulteration. Remedies may be spiked with real medicines or stimulants not named on their labels. These may work effectively or produce a "Dr. Feelgood" response.
5. Denial of discomfort. For true believers, homeopathy is a religion. Homeopathic vitalism validates the existence of soul for many. Such believers are delusional and see only what they want to see.
6. Liars, with a financial interest in selling the products or with a self-interest in selling a good story.
The National Council Against Health Fraud believes that all medicines should comply with standards American consumers have a right to expect:
1. Interpretable labels
2. Premarketing proof of safety
3. Premarketing proof of efficacy
4. Good manufacturing standards that guarantee product quality
5. Effective tracking to uncover unanticipated adverse effects
6. Truthful advertising.
Let's have a level playing field
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: homeopathy - Omeopatia   Lun 28 Set 2009 - 17:45


Heel-BHI: The World's Most
Outrageous Homeopathic Marketer
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
In 1982, physicians throughout the United States began receiving multiple mailings of a large softcover booklet called Biological Therapy with Homeopathic Remedies [1]. The booklet described what it called the practice of "homotoxicology" and offered 53 products intended for treating cancer, gallstones, glaucoma, kidney failure, multiple sclerosis, smallpox, syphilis, tuberculosis, and more than a hundred other diseases and conditions. The mailings came from Biological Homeopathic Industries (BHI), of Albuquerque, New Mexico, whose president, Dr. Hans-Heinrich Reckeweg, was said to have done "extensive research" since the late 1920s [1]. In 1985, the Albuquerque Tribune reported that BHI had distributed nearly 200,000 of its booklets [2].
In response to this promotion, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration concluded that BHI was one of the most flagrant law violators among homeopathic marketers [3]. Acting on this belief, the agency issued a regulatory letter [4] and banned the importation of BHI products that it considered unapproved new drugs. Despite these actions, however, BHI (now called Heel, Inc.) has continued to violate the law and now offers more than a thousand products. This article traces the company's history and states what I believe should be done to protect consumers.
Background History
Hans-Heinrich Reckeweg, MD (1905-1985), was a German physician who practiced homeopathy. The Heel Web site states that he founded Biologische Heilmittel Heel GmbH in Berlin 1936 and moved the company to its present location in Baden-Baden in 1953. Between 1936 and 1979, he developed 1,000 combination homeopathic remedies in Germany. In 1979, Reckeweg relocated to Albuquerque and created Biological Homeopathic Industries (BHI) and began manufacturing combination remedies in tablet form. In 1981 he founded Menaco Publishing Company, which published books and "journal" called "Biological Therapy" (now called the Journal of Biomedical Therapy). In 1997, the Albuquerque company was renamed Heel Inc, which now manufactures and distributes both BHI products and Heel products [5,6]. Heel products are primarily marketed to practitioners, whereas BHI products are primarily marketed to consumers,
According to Reckeweg:
Illness is the expression of self-healing. The afflicted organism attempts to regulate its functions through the body's greater defense system by activating detoxification and excretion. Inflammation and fever are not necessarily "bad" signs but rather serve to detoxify and eliminate toxins. This occurs according to the chemical processes as defined and demonstrated in homotoxicology. Through this, the physician is provided a different perspective of illnesses as many puzzles are clarified and methods of treatment are re-established. Inflammation need not be suppressed by antibiotics and/or chemotherapy as this often provokes retoxification and therapeutical damage that should be avoided. By suppression the illness is propelled towards dangerous retoxic cellular phases that manifest themselves as chronic and/or lingering diseases. BHI homeopathic remedies stimulate the five systems that comprise the great corporal defense system as defined in homotoxicology [6].
Reckeweg further claimed that his methods worked by converting homotoxins into nontoxic substances that he called "homotoxons" [7].
The principles of "homotoxicology" do not conform to what is scientifically known about the body in health and disease. I have found nothing about Reckeweg or homotoxicology by searching MEDLINE and very few mentions of him or his work from sources not commercially affiliated with Heel-BHI. Although Reckeweg is said to have conducted extensive research, I can find no evidence that he published anything significant about this. BHI's magazine has described a few studies of Heel products, but these involved no control groups and mean absolutely nothing. Reckeweg's methods are also promoted by the British Society for Homotoxicology & Anti-Homotoxic Therapy
The claims made for Heel-BHI products are available on several Web sites. Heel-BHI has a copy of its 210-page Routine Therapy guide for Heel products [8] and its 132-page Homeopathic Therapy guide for BHI products [9]. has posted Heel's 669-page Biotherapeutic Index, which describes how to use products to treat more than 400 conditions [10]. A 1993 edition of the book, which was distributed at an osteopathic convention in 1998, was smaller but contained 12 pages on "neoplasia and neoplastic phases of disease." (Neoplasm is a medical term for tumor.) These volumes contain most brazen set of bogus therapeutic claims I have ever seen.
To illustrate the extent of the claims, I have posted the entry for Lyphomyosot® in the Biotherapeutic Index, which states that the product is useful for asthma, "blood purifying," bronchitis, chronic gastritis, cystitis, dermatoses, diarrhea, eczema, flatulence, gallbladder disease, heel pain, herpes, kidney stones, liver disease, nasal polyps, rickets, swollen glands, tuberculosis, and several other problems.
Use By Practitioners
Practitioners can learn about how to use Heel products through educational events sponsored by the company and/or its distributors. In recent years, the Heel USA Web site has listed more than 50 seminars, teleconferences, and Web-based programs each year. The seminar fee includes a copy of Heel's Practitioner's Handbook. Some of the seminars are co-sponsored by Vibrant Health International Technologies, of Quebec, Canada, which also markets EAV devices. These devices are fancy galvanometers that measure skin resistance [11]. They are not FDA-approved for diagnosis and cannot be legally marketed in interstate commerce as diagnostuc devices. Many of the doctors who prescribe Heel products use such devices. In 2007, I got a glimpse into such use through a complaint from a man whose wife had consulted Jarir Nakouzi, M.D., a member of Heel's speaker's bureau. Nakouzi practices internal medicine and homeopathy in Bridgeport Connecticut. His Web site describes him as "an expert in oncology." [12] The Vibrant Health Web site describes him as "Heel International's most accomplished oncology expert." [13] He is not board certified but says he took a three-year fellowship in oncology after graduating from medical school in Italy. The patient had received standard treatment for breast cancer but was terminally ill. Nakouzi treated her for twelve weeks beginning in October 2002. The charges totaled more than $41,000, which included about $8,500 for worthless "bioresonance therapy" and "quadrant analysis and balancing" with an EAV device.
FDA Enforcement Actions
In 1984, FDA officials concluded that BHI was one of the three most flagrant violators because they marketed products for very serious disease conditions [14]. Soon afterward the agency warned Reckeweg that it was "unaware of any substantial scientific evidence which demonstrates that any of your marketed homeopathic drugs are generally recognized as safe and effective for their intended use" and that "continued marketing of these drugs is a serious violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act." [4] A few months later, the Albuquerque Tribune stated that the company had stopped selling "anticancer, antivirus, artery, regeneration, and stroke pills" and would modify how it marketed the rest [2].
An FDA Enforcement Report indicates that in 1991 BHI recalled 1,055 bottles and 33,333 finished bulk tablets of BHI Infection Homeopathic Remedy Tablets because they were "subpotent." [15]
Between October 1993 and September 1994, the FDA warned BHI to stop making claims that BHI Cold, which contained sulfur and pulsatilla, was effective against mumps, whooping cough, chronic respiratory diseases, herpes zoster, all viral infections, and measles. In addition, when combined with other BHI remedies, it had been illegally claimed to be effective against otitis, pleurisy, bronchitis or pneumonia, conjunctivitis, and tracheitis [16].
In January 2005, the FDA ordered Heel Inc. to stop making illegal for five products claimed to be effective in preventing or treating influenza [17].
In addition to warning letters, the FDA has issued import alerts to try to prevent most BHI products from being imported. Between October 1983 and April 1985, the agency made 10 detentions on grounds that the products were unapproved new drugs [18]. Since 1995, additional Heel products have been blocked because of illegal therapeutic claims and failure to abide by good manufacturing practices [19]. The blockage includes all products labeled "sterile" or for injection [20]. There may have been other detentions, but I do not have access to such information.
Questionable Tax Break
In October 2003, the Bernalillo County (New Mexico) Commission approved a deal under which Heel could obtain an $8 million industrial revenue bond that would be repaid within 20 years. During the repayment period, it would not have to pay property taxes and certain gross-receipts taxes. Proponents argued that subsidies of this type help create jobs and are good for the local economy, but critics noted that some companies have left the state before such agreements have expired [20]. I wondered whether the Commission knew or cared about the nature of Heel's business. It turned out, however, that Heel decided not to use the bonds.
The Bottom Line
Heel-BHI has been marketing products with outrageous and illegal claims for more than 25 years. The vast majority are irrationally formulated and have not been scientifically tested. Using them instead of proven therapy is a waste of money and could lead to delay in getting appropriate treatment. The FDA should take forceful action to rid the marketplace of these products. Since there is no logical reason to use the products, consumers should avoid practitioners who prescribe them.
1. Biological Therapy with Homeopathic Remedies. Albuquerque, NM: Menaco Publishing Company, 1981, 1983.
2. Uhlman M. FDA cracks down in city 'homeopathic' drug factory. Albuquerque Tribune March 14, 1985.
3. Rados B. Riding the coattails of homeopathy's revival. FDA Consumer 19(2):30-34, 1985.
4. Michels D. Regulatory letter to Dr. Hans Heinrich Reckeweg, Dec 11, 1984.
5. Story of Heel. Heel-BHI Web site, accessed March 14, 2007.
6. Reckeweg HH. Foreword to Homeopathic Therapy: Physicians Reference. Albuquerque, NM: Heel, Inc., 1998.
7. Reckeweg HH. Scientific basis of biological and homeopathic therapy. (Booklet) Baden-Baden: Aurelia Verlag, 1979.
8. Routine Therapy: Practitioner's Handbook of Homotoxicology, Second Edition . Albuquerque, NM: Heel, Inc., 2005.
9. Homeopathic Therapy: Physicians Reference. Albuquerque, NM: Heel, Inc., 1998.
10. Biotherapeutic Index, 5th revised English edition. Baden-Baden, Germany: Biologische Heilmittel GmbH, 2000, p 4.
11. Barrett S. Quack "elecrodiagnostic devices. Quackwatch, Sept 5, 2007.
12. Dr. Jarir Nakouzi, M.D., accessed Dec 3, 2007.
13. Workshops. Vibrant Health International Technologies Web site, accessed Dec 3, 2007.
14. Chastonay RJ. Request for limited inspection Re: Homeopathic Products. Memo, Oct 26, 1984
15. FDA Enforcement Report, March 25, 1992, p 6.
16. Health Fraud Actions, October 1993 - September 1994. Rockville, MD: FDA, 1994, p 3.
17. Malarkey MA. Warning letter to Chris Rusnock. Jan 3, 2005
18. Drugs detention for FY 84 to date. FDA computer printout. Oct 10, 1985.
19. Details can be located by searching the FDA Web site for "Heel," "BHI," "Biologische Heilmittel" and "Heel GmbH."
20. Import alert #66-40. Detention without physical examination of drugs from firms which have not met drug GMPs. Revised Aug 17, 2007.
21. Sanchez JW. Duke city ≠company to get IRB. Albuquerque Tribune, Oct 14, 2003.
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: homeopathy - Omeopatia   Lun 28 Set 2009 - 17:46


Stay Away from Homeopathic Flu Vaccine "Substitutes"
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
Leonard J. Torok, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon who operates the Ohio Holistic Medicine & Wellness Center in Medina, Ohio, offers "an answer to the flu vaccine shortage." According to his clinic's newsletter:
While much of the country frets over the flu vaccine shortage, patients of Ohio Holistic Medicine who received the homeopathic form of the vaccine last year, know they can rest easy. That’s because the remedy is readily available again this year, with a large number of doses being produced from a single, original vaccine dose. If you’re scratching your head wondering how this is possible, then you need a quick lesson in homeopathy.
One of the major principles of homeopathy is the Principle of Minimum Dose, which states that extreme dilution enhances the curative properties of a substance, while eliminating any possible side effects. It may go against conventional wisdom, but homeopathic doctors have discovered that there is a “dilution threshold” at which medicine becomes potent again.
Last year, Ohio Holistic Medicine treated 250 families with the homeopathic vaccine with good results and no side effects. In general, the homeopathic form of the vaccine has been shown to be just as effective as the stronger, injectable vaccine. The advantages however, make the homeopathic remedy much more desirable.
The biggest advantage is that the homeopathic remedy is completely safe for everyone young or old, and can even be used during pregnancy. Secondly, unlike the injectable version, it can be used both to prevent the flu and help rid the flu if you have already contracted it. Another big advantage for some is that there are no needles. The remedy is in a convenient pellet form and requires no prescription. Finally, as with all homeopathic medicine, it is much more affordable [1].
The product—called Influenzinum 30C—is manufactured by Washington Homeopathic Products, of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. The company's Web site states that the product is made from the actual vaccine, 2005 strain, which is repeatedly diluted 1:10 or 1:100 with distilled water and/or alcohol so that the final solution reaches a "30C" concentration that is incorporated into pills [2].
A 30C dilution means that the original vaccine sample has been diluted 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times, long past the point where a single molecule of the original solution can be present. In other words, the real ingredient in the pills is the inert substance was used to make them—and taking them is the same as doing nothing.
In November 2004, my local newspaper (The Allentown Morning Call) carried an ad from a local pharmacy which stated that taking ten drops per month of Influenzinum (which it misspelled) "may effectively protect you and your family this flu season."
FDA regulations state that homeopathic products offered for use only in "self-limiting conditions recognizable by consumers" may be marketed without a prescription [3]. Influenza does not fit this description. Moreover, it is illegal to introduce biological products for human use into interstate commerce without a special license that requires FDA approval [4,5]. I have asked the FDA and the licensing authorities in Ohio and Pennsylvania to determine whether the promotions described in this article are legal.
• All natural flu remedy answer to vaccine shortage. Trillium Creek Today, Nov 2004, pp 1,3.
• Influenzinum 30C. Washington Homeopathic Products Web site, accessed Nov 16, 2004.
• Conditions Under Which Homeopathic Drugs May be Marketed. FDA compliance policy guide 7132.15, revised March 1995.
• Masiello SA. Warning letter to Bill Gray, April 2, 2003.
• FDA Manual of Standard Operating Procedures and Policies: Issuance and Reissuance of Licenses for Biological Products, SOPP 8403, Version #2, April 6, 1999.
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: homeopathy - Omeopatia   Lun 28 Set 2009 - 17:46


Why Extraordinary Claims Demand
Extraordinary Proof
Ed J. Gracely, Ph.D.
© 1998, PhACT

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MessaggioOggetto: Re: homeopathy - Omeopatia   Lun 28 Set 2009 - 17:46

Homeopathy - all the idiocy that fits
Of all the things called "alternative medicine" the most ridiculous must be homeopathy. It's even sillier than iridology.
For those unfamiliar with the origins and principles of homeopathy, it was invented in the late 18th century by Samuel Hahnemann. It had no less success than the conventional medicine of the time and probably saved the lives of many people, simply on the basis that people get better from many illnesses without any intervention, so doing nothing (which is essentially what homeopathy is) could often produce better outcomes than bleeding, purging, cauterisation and amputation. The difference is that medicine has moved on and no longer does those things (or does them differently and for different reasons).
Homeopathy still relies on the principles set out at its invention. One of these principles is the Law of Similarities, which says that something which produces symptoms in large doses will be useful to treat diseases that have those symptoms. To determine what can be used for what, various things are subject to "proving" where they are administered in increasing doses until a reaction is observed. This reaction is then recorded, and when a patient presents with the same signs the homeopath can use a preparation of the cure to fix things. Jalapeno peppers would be a candidate for the treatment of excessive sweating and cat hair has potential as a treatment for hay fever. Presumably cyanide would provide a useful treatment for death.
To avoid the obvious problem, a second principle is invoked: the Law of Infinitesimals. This states that the more dilute a substance is, the better it will work against the "proved" symptoms. There are two sorts of dilution in common use - X and C. To make an X dilution, you take one tenth of the sample and mix it with nine parts of diluent. To make a 10X preparation, the dilution process is carried out ten times, each time taking one tenth of the mixture and diluting it. At each stage, the mixture is "succussed", which means hit in a certain fashion. Sometimes succussion requires the container to be tapped against a particular object, such as a leather-bound book. Preparations can be made at 6X, 10X etc. More powerful preparations can be made using the C method, where the dilution is one in a hundred each time. I have heard of M preparations where the factor is one thousand, but I assume these could only be handled by very experienced laboratories.
The folly of traditional homeopathy can be illustrated to even the simplest of minds, a fact that does not seem to deter those with "minds" coming in under the "simplest" score. As an example, someone suggested to me recently that a daily dose of 5 grams of some calcium salt could be taken in 6X homeopathic form to treat some condition or other. A simple calculation showed that this would require the patient to consume 49,995.995 kilograms of lactose per day to get the recommended dose of calcium. This weight of tablets will not fit into the back of your average semi-trailer, and would therefore require at least two truckloads of pills per day. Every day. (The same person had said that 30X preparations were so powerful that they should only be taken when under the care of a fully-qualified homeopath. To get 5 grams out of a 30X preparation, the daily weight of tablets would be just under the mass of the Earth. Every day.)
Faced with situations like this where the choice was either to eat the weight of forty small cars per day, drink a volume of liquid equivalent to one and a half petrol tankers or to take a manageable quantity of medicine that could not possibly contain any measurable amount of medication, the homeopaths have sought desperately for a resolution of the dilemma.
What they came up with was the memory of water. I assume lactose has a similar memory, but nobody seems to be talking about it. The memory of water voodoo says that water remembers things that it has been in contact with even after all traces of the substance have been removed. Strangely, however, it doesn't remember the bottles or bladders it has been stored in, or the chemicals that may have come into contact with its molecules, or the other contents of the sewers it may have been in at one time, or the cosmic radiation which has blasted through it. It just remembers the one thing that the "researcher" wants it to remember.
Then they tell us they can transmit this memory by email, but that's a story for another time
Water has a whole lot of special chemical and physical properties that nothing else seems to have. The molecules in liquid water keep grouping and ungrouping, combining and recombining into tiny crystals and patterns. This has a lot to do with the way life looks on earth and why water is essential for life. It also has a lot to do with why water is an almost universal solvent. What it hasn't anything to do with is the idiocy of homeopathy.
Homeopaths have adopted this "memory of water" nonsense in an attempt to recover from the disaster that arises whenever anyone who can think thinks about the ramifications of continuous dilution. In order to explain how something can continue to act even after all of its molecules have disappeared, it was necessary to invent the concept of "memory of water". Despite there being severe logical, philosophical and scientific reasons why any "memory of water" is a vacuous idea, and despite the fact that nobody has even come up with any even remotely feasible way of testing the concept, the homeopaths have simply willed it into existence. They then refer back to the weird way water molecules react with each other to say "see, some of these temporary structures could code for molecules that they have seen before".
The real problem for them is that, even if "memory of water" was both possible and proven, it would not make homeopathy any less ridiculous. You see, homeopaths go further by claiming that they can selectively control what it is that water remembers. We have the situation where they are claiming to do the impossible while working with something that does not even exist in the first place.
Let's look at making a typical homeopathic remedy. I have randomly chosen a treatment for cholera, which simply consists of a 30X preparation of human excrement. I won't bore you with the procedure because it just consists of successive dilutions and succussions. It's the final product I'm interested in.
How does the preparer ensure that only the excrement is remembered and nothing else? Remember how I mentioned that water is an almost universal solvent? How was the preparation controlled to eliminate the possibility that the water remembered any of the non-excremental molecules that it might have come in contact with? For example, if it had instead remembered the molecules in the glass preparation vessel, we might have ended up with a treatment for silicosis. What if the preparer had breathed out through her mouth and the air above the preparation vessel had become contaminated by mercury vapour coming off her fillings. Some of this could have become dissolved in the water and then we might have come up with a treatment for _____ (fill in whatever mercury in fillings is causing this week). If she smoked, we might get a cure for lung cancer. If some of the nitrogen in the lab air had got into the water, a cure for the bends might have resulted, and a tiny fragment of asbestos blown in from a nearby demolition site might have been remembered and a treatment for mesothelioma been produced. None of these would be of any use to the poor person sitting outside waiting for a cure for diarrhoea (well, sometimes sitting, sometimes hurrying to sit elsewhere).
If it were to be proved conclusively tomorrow that water can retain molecular structures related to other molecules that had been near the water ones, homeopathy would still be a stinking crock. Diluting it by a factor of 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 would not make it more powerful or make it smell less.
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: homeopathy - Omeopatia   Lun 28 Set 2009 - 17:47


It works in animals...
It works in animals...
So it can't be a placebo. An examination of this common claim.
UK-Skeptics © 2005.

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MessaggioOggetto: Re: homeopathy - Omeopatia   Lun 28 Set 2009 - 17:53



David W. Ramey, DVM*
Mahlon Wagner, PhD^
Robert H. Imrie, DVM`
Victor Stenger, PhD#
To be published in The Technology Journal of the Franklin Institute

Since its inception over 200 years ago, homeopathy has fallen in and out of favor. Its apparent resurgence in these times has rekindled the discussion as to whether homeopathic medications are an effective treatment against disease or whether they are no more than an elaborate placebo. The discussion as to whether or not it is an effective therapy is ongoing in human and veterinary medicine; it appears to have devolved into one between proponents of homeopathy and those who rely on firm evidence of effectiveness before adopting any therapy. This review attempts to assess the state of the current evidence regarding homeopathy.

* P.O. Box, 5231, Glendale, CA 91221
^ Professor Emeritus of Psychology, State University of New York at Oswego
` 448 NE Ravenna Blvd., #106, Seattle, WA 98115-6401
# Professor of Physics and Astronomy, University of Hawaii

The German physician Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) is generally acknowledged to be the founder and developer of homeopathy, although some of his concepts appear very early in medical history.1 Dissatisfied with the state of medicine at the time, which included bleeding, purging, cupping and excessive doses of mercury, he ceased his medical practice in 1782 and began translating medical and chemical texts. It was during this time that he apparently began to seriously question the proposed mechanisms of drug activity of his contemporaries.
Hahnemann followed a tradition that viewed disease as a matter of the vital force or spirit. The concept of the vital spirit appears to be one of the earliest speculations in recorded medical history and similar forces form the proposed basis for any number of metaphysical health practices. It is an alleged nonmaterial "force" that sustains life and for which there is no objective evidence.2 According to Hahnemann, "The causes of our maladies cannot be material, since the least foreign material substance, however mild it may appear to us, if introduced into our blood-vessels, is promptly ejected by the vital force, as though it were a disease, in a word, is caused by any material substance, but that every one is only and always a peculiar, virtual, dynamic derangement of the health."3
Consistent with this philosophy is the belief that it is more important to pay attention to symptoms than to the external causes of disease. Knowing the specific symptoms of illness, treatment is then a matter of finding a substance or substances that induced the same symptoms in a healthy individual. This is the basis of Hahnemann's "Principle of Similars." The work of Pasteur and Koch on inoculations with very small amounts of weakened disease-causing microbes seemed to support this notion at the time.
Hahnemann and his followers went on to test the effects of almost 100 substances on themselves, a process known as "proving." The typical procedure was for a healthy person to ingest a small amount of a particular substance and then attempt to carefully note any reaction or symptom (including emotional or mental reactions) that occurred. By this method, Hahnemann and his followers "proved" that the substance was an effective remedy for a particular symptom. That such a method of determining the effectiveness of a treatment is implausible and at least open to the power of suggestion should be inarguable. In fact, in one controlled study, healthy subjects reported similar symptoms whether given a homeopathic dilution of belladonna or a placebo.4
Nevertheless, the collected experiences of such incidents became the basis for a compendium called the Materia Medica. Because some of the substances tested were toxic (such as poison ivy, strychnine and various snake venoms), during a proving it made sense to ingest minuscule doses. This may be the source or the homeopathic principle of "infinitesimal dilutions" in which the most dilute solutions are alleged to be the most potent.
The origin of the principle of "potentization" is more obscure. Potentization purports to make the diluted, inert substance active by releasing its energy. According to Hahnemann: "Homeopathic potentizations are processes by which the medicinal properties of drugs, which are in a latent state in the crude substance, are excited and enabled to act spiritually upon the vital forces."5 Simple dilution of a drug is insufficient to produce a cure. To achieve potentization, after each successive 1-to-9 ("D") or 1-to-100 ("C") dilution, the solution must be shaken vigorously (the process is known as "succussion"). In the case of a powdered substance, it must be vigorously ground up (trituration). Potentization purports to liberate the energy of the substance being used for treatment and this liberated energy purportedly remains, even in the lowest doses.
Hahnemann believed that homeopathic remedies must be appropriately prescribed for individual body types and personalities, based on the ancient humoral theories of Galen. According to these theories, there were four body types and personalities, based on which body "humor" predominated: blood (sanguine, warm-hearted and volatile), black bile (melancholic, sad), yellow bile (choleric, quick to anger and to action) and phlegm (phlegmatic, sluggish and apathetic). In addition to describing a few basic body types, he also suggested that there are a corresponding few primary causes of acute and chronic illnesses, which he called "miasms." The first miasm, known as "psora" (itch) refers to a general susceptibility to disease and may be considered the source of all chronic diseases. The other two miasms in homeopathic theory are the venereal diseases syphilis and sycosis (gonorrhea). Together, these three conditions were considered to be the cause of at least 80 per cent of all chronic diseases.
Homeopathy has made several important indirect contributions to the practice of medicine. At the time that it was developed, the medical treatments of the time were often more dangerous than the disease that they purported to treat. Indeed, homeopathy may have helped hasten the demise of such treatments. Homeopathy provided the initial idea and source for useful drugs such as nitroglycerin6 and aconite.7 Early scientists such as Joseph Lister and Sidney Ringer stated that they were led to important pharmacological discoveries because of homeopathy.8 Homeopathy has also been given credit for providing early support for clinical trials with control groups, systematic and quantitative procedures and the use of statistics in medicine.9
From the standpoint of veterinary medicine, it is curious that Hahnemann did none of his work on animals. Psora, syphilis and gonorrhea are not conditions recognized in animals. The fallacy of prescribing medications for animals based on how they make people feel seems obvious given interspecies variations between reactions to various pharmacologic substances. The concepts of prescribing medications for body types and personalities would seem to be particularly difficult to apply to animals, as well.
It should be obvious that the premises upon which Hahnemann's work were based are difficult to support based on current knowledge. From a strictly hypothetical standpoint it is possible that Hahnemann came up with the right conclusion from the wrong reasons. However, while criticisms based solely on the origin of the philosophy may not be entirely damning, they are, at least, instructive.

The Physics of Homeopathy
If homeopathic remedies are effective, there is a mechanism by which they work. It is a fact that the mechanism of action by which they might work has not been established. If the remedies do work, they must do so in a manner which would appear to violate established principles of physics, chemistry and pharmacology or they must work in a manner which is yet to be discovered. As one early critic of homeopathy wrote, "Either Hahnemann is right, in which case our science and the basis of our thinking is nonsense, or he is wrong, in which case this teaching is nonsense."10
By successively diluting the initial substance, extremely dilute solutions can be made rather quickly. The dilution limit is reached when the volume of the solute is unlikely to contain a single molecule of the solvent. The limit recognizes that there is a large but finite and specific number of atoms or molecules in a mole of substance (a mole is the molecular weight of a substance, expressed in grams). That number of atoms or molecules is 6.022 X 1023, also known as Avogadro's number.
Homeopathic remedies are diluted by either a factor of 10 or 100. "D" dilutions are prepared by serial dilutions of 1:10; "C" dilutions are prepared by serial dilutions of 1:100. Thus, a remedy marked C30 would imply a 1:100 dilution performed 30 times. By simple mathematics, it can be calculated that at dilutions of C12 or D24 or greater, it is not likely that the remedies contain even a single molecule of the original substance.
Since the original substance is not present in extremely dilute homeopathic remedies, explanations for a mechanism of action of homeopathic medications have moved towards speculation. Such proposals include the formation of stable ice crystals, magnetic properties of water or the formation of protein shells in the water mixture.11 Water molecules are highly polarized, a fact that already accounts for much of the special role of water in biology. However, the likelihood that water can maintain a complex ice-like structure under the vigorous shaking that usually accompanies homeopathic preparation has not been demonstrated. Neither has any physical mechanism by which such hypothetical structures can produce the implied biological effects.
Some of the hypotheses appear to be completely insupportable. Speculation that the mechanism of action of homeopathic medications is somehow related to biological magnetite have been criticized by the investigator who discovered the substance as lacking any foundation and based on a misunderstanding the structure of magnetite.12 Water is also not ferromagnetic.
Structural changes in matter appear to be easily demonstrable in other applications, using such techniques as transmission electron microscopy, spectroscopy, ultraviolet transmission characteristics, X-rays and ultrasound. If they exist, structural changes in the composition of homeopathic remedies should be relatively easy to detect. So far, such changes have not been demonstrated. One ultrasonographic study failed to show differences between homeopathic remedies and water.13 On an empirical basis, even a homeopathic practitioner and his patients were unable to distinguish between two different homeopathic remedies with "strikingly different properties" over nine years of testing.14
From a physical standpoint, structural changes in the water of extremely dilute solutions seem unlikely. Structural studies of water/alcohol mixtures will show regions of local order. However, these regions are transient; depending on the temperature, they can only last for the briefest of times. For most materials, local order does not persist in the liquid phase (the problem is entropy).15. The exceptions are liquid crystals, whose highly elongated molecules are still not able to move about freely when the liquid phase is reached. There has never been the slightest hint, from theory or experiment, that water can form a liquid crystal.
It may also be postulated that there is some sort of biologic effect of homeopathic medications that is independent of known physical laws. Of course, such speculation would be virtually impossible to test and there is no known substance which fits such parameters. Appealing to unknown laws to explain undocumented phenomena simply falls outside the framework of legitimate science.
Further physical difficulties with the concept of homeopathic dilutions relate to the fact that many such remedies come in the form of lactose tablets. In these instances, the homeopathic dilution is applied to the pill, which serves as a carrier. Of course, the diluted liquid must evaporate, which leads to the question of how the information is transferred from liquid to lactose tablet. Other questions include why the diluted mixture would remember only the healing powers of the active substance but forget the side-effects or why the water doesn't remember other things with which it might have been in contact.
The fact that there is no known mechanism by which extremely dilute homeopathic medications should be able to exert a biological effect is indeed a source or concern to proponents of homeopathy. In fact, if proposed mechanisms can be shown to be insupportable, the Director of the Office of Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health has written that, "highly
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: homeopathy - Omeopatia   Lun 28 Set 2009 - 17:53

speculative and imaginary [sic] explanations may be necessary."16 As a Nobel Prize winning physicist noted, "The theory of quantum electrodynamics describes Nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And it agrees fully with experiment."17 From a mechanistic point of view, however, homeopathy neither makes sense nor agrees with any experiment. Accordingly, most discussions of the possible effects of homeopathy prefer to focus on discussions of results of studies.

In Vitro Studies
In 1988, homeopathy was thrust into the forefront of controversy with the first publication of work supporting effects of homeopathic solutions in a mainstream science journal. The authors of the paper suggested that extremely dilute solutions of antiserum against human IgE were able to induce basophil degranulation.18 Although the experimental model chosen is known to be extremely unstable, the journal in which the study was published could find no apparent flaws. Subsequent to publication, however, the journal sent an investigating team to the laboratory which concluded that there were serious flaws in the original investigation.19 That a war of words subsequently commenced is inarguable. More to the point is that at least three separate investigators using identical or similar experimental models have failed to reproduce the results.20, 21, 22
In fact, the only studies which indicate an in vitro effect of homeopathic dilutions come from the same laboratory. The lead investigator of the studies has since gone on to claim that homeopathic information has been digitized and can be transferred by computer disk over the Internet. Furthermore, his immunopharmacology laboratory has been shut down by INSERM, the French medical research agency.23 Finally, a libel claim by the investigator against two French Nobel prize winners who called the investigator a fraud was recently thrown out of French courts.24

Reviews and Meta-Analyses
When trying to evaluate the evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies, it is possible to find investigations in which positive, negative or no results are reported. Evaluation of the literature for any form of therapy is difficult and studies vary as to quality. Such a problem appears to be particularly acute in the evaluation of literature concerning alternative therapies such as homeopathy. For example, investigators in one study categorized all 204 articles in one year's editions of four journals on alternative medicine as positive, neutral or negative. They found 64 per cent of the papers were classified as helpful, 35 per cent as neutral and only 1 per cent as negative. The investigators concluded that there is a strong publication bias in favor of positive conclusions about alternative therapies and that their findings imply that the literature is not objective.25
One way to attempt to answer the question of the effectiveness of homeopathic medications is to look at reviews and meta-analyses (studies of studies). Of course, whether by review or by meta-analysis, attempts at reviewing any medical literature are not without their own problems. Reviews have been criticized as being subject to the bias of the reviewer. On the other hand, meta-analyses, which attempt to gather information and draw conclusions by pooling various reports have been much criticized for using many "weak" studies to arrive at a "strong" conclusion and for relying on the subjective opinions of the authors to determine which studies are worthy of inclusion, among other reasons.26 Further concern about the validity of meta-analysis comes from recent work which indicates disagreement between meta-analysis and subsequent large, randomized, controlled clinical trials in as many as 35 per cent of the cases studied.27
Nevertheless, several reviews and meta-analyses on homeopathy have been performed. Apparently, their results are open to some interpretation. That interpretation may, at first glance, seem to be no more than a "glass half-empty or half-full" argument between proponents of homeopathy and those of evidence-based medicine. Thus, for the purposes of review, it seems most useful to quote the conclusions of the studies rather than take individual bits of data out of them. The authors were able to find four meta-analyses and six reviews of the effects of homeopathic medications. Three of the reviews specifically relate to veterinary medicine.
In 1985, a chapter on veterinary homeopathy concluded that, "Contrary to what you hear or read too often, rigorous scientific demonstration of the therapeutic effect of homeopathic remedies in veterinary medicine has not yet been done. Although it may seem exaggerated to conclude that homeopathy has absolutely no place, from a pragmatic point of view (and relative among animal owners...), in veterinary medicine, it is obvious that future works will have to bend to the new modern methodologies in order to be able to take away the firm beliefs of stern minds."28
A 1990 review of 40 published randomized trials of homeopathy in human medicine found that most of the studies had major methodological flaws and concluded that, "the results do not provide acceptable evidence that homeopathic treatments are effective."29
A 1991 meta-analysis of homeopathy in human medicine concluded, "At the moment the evidence of clinical trials is positive but not sufficient to draw definitive conclusions because most trials are of low methodological quality and because of the unknown role of publication bias. This indicates that there is a legitimate case for further evaluation of homeopathy, but only by means of well performed trials." The investigators also noted that, "Critical people who do not believe in the efficacy of homeopathy before reading the evidence presented here probably will still not be convinced; people who were more ambivalent in advance will perhaps have a more optimistic view now, whereas people who already believed in the efficacy of homeopathy might at this moment be almost certain that homeopathy works."30 In a later letter, the authors noted that, "The results of our review would probably be interpreted differently if laboratory studies showed convincing evidence that there is some action of high potencies."31
A 1992 German review of homeopathy concluded that, "Due to the advance of alternative medicine a critical synopsis by means of the comparison between scientific medicine (clinical medicine) and homeopathy is warranted. The review of studies carried out according to current scientific criteria revealed - at best - a placebo effect of homeopathy. Until now there is no proven mechanism for the mode of action of homeopathy. Sometimes so-called "alternative medicine" prevents effective curative measures. In spite of the justified criticism concerning the technical over-estimation of classical medicine, scientific research should remain the basis of clinical work."32
A 1993 German review of homeopathy in veterinary medicine makes several conclusions:
* "Doctor and veterinarian are similarly obligated to apply the therapeutic measure that prevailing opinions deem most effective. Where there is for particular definite illnesses a particularly effective and generally recognized treatment, in such cases the supporters of homeopathy may not disregard the better successes from their own differing direction."
* It is undisputed that homeopathy in the area of stronger potency can achieve effects pharmacologically and toxicologically; the superiority of homeopathy as a therapeutic measure in comparison with conventional therapy methods is at this point not verified. Moreover, the harmlessness of homeopathy in stronger potency is for the most part not verified.
* The effectiveness of homeopathy in middle and high potencies is up to now not verified. It is undisputed that with the help of homeopathy, not insignificant placebo effects can be achieved. In veterinary medicine, giving an animal an 'active' placebo and another a 'passive' can play a significant role and influence the owner."33
A 1994 review and meta-analysis of serial agitated dilutions (SAD) in experimental toxicology stated that, "As with clinical studies, the overall quality of toxicology research using SAD preparations is low. The majority of studies either could not be reevaluated by the reviewers or were of such low quality that their likelihood of validity is doubtful. The number of methodologically sound, independently reproduced studies is too small to make any definitive conclusions regarding the effect of SAD preparations in toxicology."34
A 1996 review of homeopathy, concluded that:
* "No one should ignore the role of non-specific factors in therapeutic efficacy, such as the natural history of a given disease and the placebo effect. Indeed, these factors can be used to therapeutic advantage."
* "As homeopathic treatments are generally used in conditions with variable outcome or showing spontaneous recovery (hence their placebo responsiveness), these treatments are widely considered to have an effect in some patients."
* "However, despite the large number of comparative trials carried out to date there is no evidence that homeopathy is any more effective than placebo therapy given in identical conditions."
* "We believe that homeopathic preparations should not be used to treat serious diseases when other drugs are known to be both effective and safe."
* "Pending further evidence, homeopathy remains a form of placebo therapy."35
A 1997 meta-analysis concluded, "The results of our meta-analysis are not compatible with the hypothesis that the clinical effects of homeopathy are completely due to placebo. However, we found insufficient evidence from these studies that homeopathy is clearly efficacious for any single clinical condition." Furthermore, "Our study has no major implications for clinical practice because we found little evidence of effectiveness of any single homeopathic approach on any single clinical condition." The authors concluded by calling for more research, "providing it is rigorous and systematic."36 One critic of the study cautioned that when the best trials were examined, the odds of a positive effect of the therapy were distinctly lower than in the overall study.37 Another critic suggested further caution in interpreting the results of this study by noting that negative trials may have been less likely to be published, which may have skewed the analysis. 38
Another meta-analysis conducted in 1997 examined the use of homeopathy for the treatment of postoperative ileus, measured by the time to first flatus. The investigators concluded that their analyses "do not provide evidence for the use of a particular homeopathic remedy or for a combination of remedies for postoperative ileus. Several drawbacks inherent in the original studies and in the methodology of meta-analysis preclude a firm conclusion." Given those caveats, the study also suggested that homeopathic dilutions less than 12C (those which may contain some of the original substance) had a significant effect, whereas dilutions greater than 12C had none.39
A 1998 review of homeopathic treatment in animals suggested approaching homeopathy with an "open mind." As evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathic treatment in animals, the study cites 3 studies in which some clinical evidence of effectiveness was seen, 7 in which the results were difficult to interpret for various reasons and 6 in which there was no response to treatment or worsening of the condition. Several of the studies cited were performed on healthy animals. In one of the studies in which the condition of sick animals worsened, the worsening of the animal's health is taken as possible evidence of treatment effectiveness, according to "Herring's Law."13 Critics would note that such a "law" or "healing crisis" would mean that one can't lose when administering homeopathic medications because whether the patient improves or gets worse, the treatment may be viewed as being successful.
Very few, if any, of the researchers conducting animal and in vitro studies on homeopathy have been rigorously conducted. Properly blinded, randomized experiments with high dilution homeopathic preparations and both a placebo group and a known effective treatment group with a large number of animals and predefined outcome variables that examine the effect on diseases (rather than production efficiency) are absent in veterinary homeopathy. In addition, researchers have been guilty of not reporting differences (if such existed) between the homeopath and placebo groups.33 While the animals (and tissue preparations) may not be susceptible to suggestibility, clearly the researcher making the critical observations could be influenced. One would hope that animals researchers would also be aware of the pioneering work of Pavlov showing that animals are often responding to any change in their environment which could obviously be confused with a response to homeopathic medication.40
Subsequent to submission of the most recent meta-analysis in human medicine, several good trials of homeopathic medications have been conducted in human medicine. Randomized, placebo-controlled double blind studies have shown homeopathic remedies to be ineffective in the treatment of adenoid vegetations in children,41 for control of pain and infection after total abdominal hysterectomy42 and for prophylaxis of migraine headache.43, 44 Furthermore, to date, no single study of homeopathy showing positive results has been successfully replicated.
Curiously, the lack of good evidence of effectiveness of homeopathic remedies may be irrelevant to supporters of homeopathy. One leading advocate asserts that proving the effectiveness of homeopathy through scientific research is not important and suggests that personal experience is more important that any number of carefully controlled studies.45 Positive expectations and beliefs of patients and healers have historically resulted in reports of excellent or good outcomes in more than 70 per cent of cases even though the treatments given are now known to have been worthless.46

Is homeopathy safe?
Safety is, of course, vital to the discussion of any form of therapy. In fact, most conclusions are that homeopathic remedies are largely safe. Such a finding would, of course, not be unexpected were the remedy to contain only a water and/or alcohol solvent (that is, that the solution would contain none of the original substance).
However, while infrequent, there are reports of adverse reactions to homeopathic medications. Adverse reactions have been reported ranging from pruritis and a measles-like skin rash to anaphylactic shock,47 from pancreatitis48 to contact dermatitis.49 In regards to the safety of homeopathic remedies, the previously cited 1996 review stated that, "Serious adverse effects have been reported with low dilutions (<4CH) given parenterally or orally. However, high dilutions (>5CH) administered orally or sublingually appear to be entirely safe. We believe that homeopathic preparations should not be used to treat serious diseases when other drugs are known to be both effective and safe. In addition, regardless of the condition treated, dilution below 5CH (e.g. 3 or 4CH and especially decimal dilutions or mother tinctures) must not only be considered as having no proven efficacy but also as having potential dangers."33
Further concerns as to safety arise from the apparent attitude against immunization by practitioners of homeopathic therapy. In human medicine, several surveys have demonstrated that homeopathic practitioners routinely advise their clients against immunization.50, 51, 52, 53 Such an attitude would appear to be completely insupportable in light of the tremendous advances made in the protection from disease that vaccination clearly and reliably affords. The origin of homeopathic antipathy to vaccination is unknown; there is nothing in Hahnemann's writings against immunization.54 It may arise from a general hostility towards modern medicine that, according to studies, appears to be prevalent within complementary medicine in general.55, 56
Homeopathic practitioners may also employ the use of "homeopathic vaccines" or "nosodes" prepared from high dilutions of infectious agents, material such as vomitus, discharges or fecal matter or infected tissues. Curiously, nosodes are not prepared according to homeopathic principles, rather, they would be more properly described as being isopathy. Hahnemann himself decried the use of such preparations. 57 There is no evidence at all to suggest that such "immunizations" have any effectiveness.58 There is one case reported in the human literature where a patient followed her homeopath's advice and took a homeopathic immunization against malaria before traveling to an endemic area. The patient promptly got malaria.59 Homeopathic nosodes have failed to protect dogs from death due to parvoviral enteritis.60 Even given the concerns regarding potential problems with immunization in animals, it is virtually inconceivable that an ethical medical practitioner would recommend against the use of proven effective vaccine prophylaxis for diseases such as rabies, parvoviral enteritis or viral encephalitis (to name a few). Vaccination arguably constitutes the single most successful public health measure in human history.

Any discussion of homeopathy also entails consideration of ethical issues. As homeopathy is unquestionably unproven, it seems clearly unethical to merely give the therapy to an animal and its trusting owner and wait and see what happens.61 Furthermore, social morality would demand that the client be fully informed of the experimental nature of the therapy and consent to it before it is provided. It would also seem clearly unethical to employ an unproven therapy such as homeopathy in cases where an acceptable and effective treatment already exists or where the patient is at risk for greater suffering if the unproven therapy fails.62 Further ethical considerations require that proof of effectiveness be established if safety and efficacy questions have not been documented, as is the case with homeopathy. It would also seem reasonable to expect that if a professional community intends to employ an unproven remedy, said community has the ethical obligation to engage in proper clinical research to help establish or disprove the effectiveness of that remedy.63

It is difficult to precisely determine what homeopathy is today. Homeopathy as a single, unified school of thought simply does not exist.64 One report has noted that, "There are as many homeopathies as there are homeopaths.65 Furthermore, the ready availability of mass-marketed, non-prescription homeopathic remedies would appear to violate Hahnemann's principle of individualizing therapy based on the symptoms of each patient.56 Additionally, the mere fact that homeopathy is a treatment philosophy based exclusively on the recognition and treatment of symptoms would seem to contradict claims made by advocates that homeopathy treats the whole patient, whereas "traditional" medicine is merely treats the symptoms of disease.1
It is interesting to compare the course of progress between medications such as aspirin and homeopathy. It was known for many hundreds of years that chewing on willow bark helped relieve pain and inflammation. The active component of aspirin, initially called salicin, was isolated in 1823, not long after the advent of homeopathy. In 1899, a derivative of salicin, acetylsalicylic acid, was developed and marketed for the first time. The mechanism of action of aspirin began to be uncovered about fifty years later. From this basic information, a proliferation of useful non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs developed, leading to the most recent advancements of so-called Cox-2 inhibitors. This process of development has been advanced through the contributions of innumerable investigators, starting with Bayer and continuing today.
Contrast that situation with that of homeopathy. After over two hundred years, there is no single condition for which homeopathy is proven to be effective. The mechanism of action is unknown. The principles of therapy have remained unchanged since it was discovered by its founder and individuals who employ the therapy have added little to the original tenets. If homeopathy is science, it appears not to be advancing.
One simple explanation for the purported effects of homeopathy would be that it is a placebo. Such an explanation would answer the many various questions regarding the therapy. Were homeopathic medications placebo, no physical mechanism by which they could have an effect would be expected to be found. The results of clinical trials would be expected to be frequently confusing, disappointing and/or irreproducible if such trials were in fact comparing one placebo to another. Higher dilution medications would certainly be expected to be safe if they were merely water, water/alcohol mixtures or lactose tablets. Such an explanation, while understandably objectionable to proponents of the therapy, also appears to be reasonable, adequate and sufficient, given the current state of research.
Were homeopathy to prove an effective therapy, it would be irrational for any legitimate medical practitioner to ignore or fail to employ it. Given the apparent lack of adverse effects from high dilution homeopathic remedies, such a therapy should be readily embraced if it were effective. Indeed, open-mindedness is one of the hallmarks of science and the rapid assimilation of new therapies and technologies has been a consistent characteristic of scientific medicine. In fact, studies have shown that practitioners of mainstream medicine are less dogmatic than those of its alternatives.66, 67 To quote the late Dr. Carl Sagan, " the heart of science is an essential balance between two seemingly contradictory attitudes -- an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive, and the most ruthlessly skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense."68
There is nothing wrong with the hypothesis that homeopathic remedies, no matter how implausible, are effective. However, such a hypothesis is amenable to scientific testing. Proper trials of homeopathic remedies should be easy to conduct. However, whether they are evaluated by review, by meta-analysis or by postulated physical mechanism, there is no good evidence to date that homeopathic remedies are effective treatments for any condition in human or in veterinary medicine. Nor is there evidence that they are superior to already established therapies.
Every practitioner of medicine requires faith in his or her methods in order to be confident. However, faith is not a legitimate foundation on which to build a practice of scientific medicine. Furthermore, in order for people to change their minds, they must have a good reason to do so; mere faith is not such a reason. Advocates of ethical medicine and veterinary science demand reliable evidence of both efficacy and safety before employing therapies to treat their patients. Thus, the question remains; if homeopathic remedies are safe and effective, why have its practitioners and proponents been unwilling or unable to conduct the proper trials and research required to prove it?
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: homeopathy - Omeopatia   Lun 28 Set 2009 - 17:53

1 Ullman, D. Homeopathic Medicine: Principles and Research, in Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine, Principles and Practice, Schoen, A and Wynn, S, eds., Mosby, Inc., St. Louis, MO, 1998, 469-484.
2 Raso, J. The Expanded Dictionary of Metaphysical Healthcare: Alternative medicine, paranormal healing and related methods. The Georgia Council Against Health Fraud, 1998, 136.
3 Hahnemann, S. Organon of medicine, 6th ed. Calcutta: M. Bhattacharyya & Co.; 1960: 7-288.
4 Wallach, H. Does a highly diluted homeopathic drug act as a placebo in healthy volunteers? Experimental study of Belladonna 30C in a double blind crossover design - a pilot study. J Psychosomatic Res 1993; 37(Cool: 851-860.
5 Hahnemann, S. The Chronic Diseases. New York, 1846, 141.
6 Fye, WB. Nitroglycerin: a homeopathic remedy. Circulation 1986; 73: 21-29.
7 Haller, JS. Aconite: a case study in doctrinal conflict and the meaning of scientific medicine. Bull NY Acad Med 1984; 60: 888-904.
8 Nicholls, PA. Homeopathy and the Medical Profession. Croom Helm; 1988, London, England.
9 Ernst, E. Homeopathy revisited. Arch Intern Med 1996; 156: 2162 2164.
10 Jürgensen, T. Die wissenschaftliche Heilkunde und ihre Widersacher. Volkmanns Sammlung Klinisher Vorträge 1876; 106: 876-916 (in German).
11 Wynn, SG. Studies on use of homeopathy in animals. JAVMA 1998; 212(5): 719-724.
12 Kirschvink, J. Professor of Geobiology, California Institute of Technology. Personal communications, 1998.
13 Silvo, M and Arnaldo, P. Ultrasonographic study of homeopathic solutions. Br Homeopathic J 1990; 179: 212.
14 Roberts, T. Homeopathic test. Nature 1989; 342: 350.
15 Park, R.L. Alternative Medicine and the Laws of Physics. Skeptical Inquirer 1997; 21(5): 24-28.
16 Jonas, W and Jacobs, J. Healing with homeopathy. Warner, 1996.
17 Feynman, RP. Introduction. In, QED: the strange theory of light and matter. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ 1985; 1-20.
18 Davenas, E, et al. Human basophil degranulation triggered by very dilute antiserum against IgE. Nature 1988; 333: 316-318.
19 Maddox, J, Randi, J and Stewart, WW. "High dilution" experiments a delusion. Nature 1988; 334: 287-290.
20 Hirst, SJ, et al. Human basophil degranulation is not triggered by very dilute antiserum against human IgE. Nature 1993; 366: 525 527.
21 Seagrave, J. Evidence of non-reproducibility. Nature 1988; 334: 559.
22 Bonini, S, Adriani, E and Balsano, F. Evidence of non-reproducibility. Nature 1988; 334, 559.
23 Seife, C. Memory man hits out. New Scientist 1997; 156: 12.
24 News in Brief. Nature 1998; 391: 833.
25 Ernst, E and Pittler, M. Alternative Therapy Bias. Nature, 365, 480, 6 Feb 1997.
26 Egger, M, Schneider, M and Smith, G. Spurious precision? Meta analysis of observational studies. BMJ 1998; 316:
27 LeLorier, L, et al. Discrepancies between meta-analyses and subsequent large randomized, controlled trials. N Engl J Med 1997; 337: 536-42.
28 Aulas, JJ and Bardelay, G. L'homéopathie vétérinaire, in L'homéopathie: Approce historique et critique et éevaluation scientifique de ses fondement empiriqes et de son efficacité thérapeutique. Roland Bettex Publ, Paris, 1985: 209-224 (in French).
29 Hill, C and Doyon, F. Review of randomized trials of homeopathy. Rev. Epidme et Sante Publ 1990; 38: 139-147.
30 Kleijnen, J., Knipschild, P. and ter Riet, G. Clinical trials of homeopathy. BMJ 1991; 302: 316-323.
31 Kleijnen, J., Knipschild, P. and ter Riet, G. Trials of homeopathy. BMJ 1991; 302: 960
32Kurz, R. [Clinical medicine versus homeopathy]. Padiatr Padol 1992;27(2):37-41 (in German).
33 Löscher, W. Homöopathie in der Veterinärmedizin: Kritische Überlegungen aus der Sicht der Pharmakologie. In, Oepen, I., ed. Unkonventionelle medizinische Verfahren. Stuttgart: Gustav Fischer Verlag 1993; 273-302 (in German).
34 Linde, K, et al. Critical review and meta-analysis of serial agitated dilutions in experimental toxicology. Human & Exper Toxicol 1994; 13: 481-492.
35 Aulas, J. Homeopathy update. Préscrire International 1996; 15(155): 674-684.
36 Linde, K., et al. Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? A meta-analysis of placebo-controled trials. The Lancet 1997; 350: 834-843.
37 Langman, MJS. Homeopathy trial: reason for good ones but are they warranted? The Lancet 1997; 350: 825.
38 Vandenbroucke, J.P. Homeopathy trials: going nowhere. The Lancet 1997; 350: 824.
39 Barnes, J, Resch, K and Ernst, E. Homeopathy for post-operative ileus? A meta-analysis. J Clin Gastro 1997; 25(4): 628-633.
40 Pavlov, I. Conditioned Reflexes. Oxford University Press, 1927.
41 Friese, K, Feuchter, U and Moeller, H. Homeopathic management of adenoid vegetations. Results of a prospective, randomized double-blind study. HNO 1997; 45: 618-624.
42 Hart, O, et al. Double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial of homoeopathic arnica C30 for pain and infection after total abdominal hysterectomy. J R Soc Med 1997 Feb;90(2):73-78
43 Whitmarsh, T, Coleston-shields, D and Steiner, T. Double-blind randomized placebo-controlled study of homeopathic prophylaxis of migraine. Cephaligia 1997; 17: 600-604.
44 Wallach, H, et al. Classical homeopathic treatment of chronic headaches. Cephalgia 1997: 17: 119-126.
45 Ullman, D. Discovering Homeopathy: Medicine for the 21st Century. Berkely, CA: North Atlantic Books, 1991.
46 Roberts, A, et al. The power of nonspecific effects in healing: implications for psychological and biological treatments. Clin Psychol Rev 1993; 13: 375-391.
47 Aberer, W, et al. Homeopathic preparations - severe adverse effects, unproven benefits. Dermatologia 1991; 182(4): 253.
48 Kerr, H and Yarborough, G. Pancreatitis following ingestion of a homeopathic preparation. N Engl J Med 1986 Jun 19;314(25):1642-1643.
49 van Ulsen J, Stolz E, van Joost T. Chromate dermatitis from a homeopathic drug. Contact Dermatitis 1988 Jan;18(1): 56-57.
50 Ernst, E. The attitude against immunisation within some branches of complementary medicine. Eur J Pediatr 1997; 156: 513-515.
51 Ernst, E and White, AR. Homeopathy and immunisation. Br J Gen Pract 1995; 48: 629-630.
52 Sulfaro, F, Fasher B and Burgess, MA. Homeopathic vaccination. What does it mean? Med J Austr 1994; 161: 305-307.
53 Rasky, E, et al. Arbeitsund Lebensweise von homöopathisch tätigen Ärztinnen und Ärtzen in Österreich. Wein Med Wochenschr 1994; 17: 419-424 (in German).
54 Fisher, P. Enough nonsense on immunisation. Br Homeopath J 1990; 79: 198-200.
55 Ernst, E. Science and anti-science in complementary medicine. Br J Hosp Med 1995; 54(7): 304-305.
56 Nilsson, N. Who's complementary. J Alt Comp Med 1996; May, 3.
57 Pray, S. A challenge to the credibility of homeopathy. Am J Pain Man 1992; 2: 63-71.
58 English, P. The issue of immunization. Br Homeopath J 1992; 81: 161-163.
59 Carlson, T, Bergquist, L and Hellgren, U. Homeopatiska medol ger falsk säkerhet. Lakartidningen 1995; 92: 4467-4468 (in Swedish).
60 Larson, LJ, Wynn, S and Schultz, RD. A canine parvovirus nosode study (abstr), in Proceedings, 2nd Ann Midwest Holistic Vet Conf 1996; 98-99.
61 Smith, T. Alternative medicine. BMJ 1982; 287: 307.
62 Rollin, B. An ethicist's commentary of the case of a veterinarian using homeopathic therapy. Can Vet J 1995; 36: 268-269.
63 Ernst, E. The ethics of complementary medicine. J Med Ethics 1996; 22: 197-198.
64 Ernst, E. Homeopathy, past, present and future. Br J Clin Pharmacol 1997; 44: 435-437.
65 Prokop, O and Hopff, W. Erklarung zur Homöopathue. Dtsh Apotheker Zeitung 1992; 132: 1630-1632 (in German).
66 Berkowitz, C. Homeopathy: keeping an open mind. The Lancet 1994; 344: 701-702.
67 Berwin, TH. What's wrong with complementary medicine? The Sceptic 1995; 8: 6-9.
68 Sagan, C. The Demon-Haunted World : Science As a Candle in the Dark. Random House, 1996, 304.
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: homeopathy - Omeopatia   Mar 29 Set 2009 - 9:24


Why Pharmacists Should Not
Sell Homeopathic Products
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
Varro E. Tyler. Ph.D.
Homeopathic remedies enjoy a unique status in the health marketplace: They are the only category of spurious products legally marketable as drugs. This situation is the result of two circumstances. First, the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which was shepherded through Congress by a senator who was a homeopathic physician, recognizes as drugs all substances included in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States. Second, FDA has not held homeopathic products to the same standards as other drugs.
Basic Misbeliefs
Homeopathy dates back to the late 1700s, when Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), a German physician, began formulating its basic principles. Hahnemann was justifiably distressed about bloodletting, leeching, purging, and other medical procedures of his day that did far more harm than good. Thinking that these treatments were intended to balance the body's "humors" by opposite effects, he developed his "law of similars" -- a notion that symptoms of disease can be cured by extremely small amounts of substances that produce similar symptoms in healthy people when administered in large amounts [1]. The word "homeopathy" is derived from the Greek words homoios (similar) and pathos (suffering or disease) [2].
Hahnemann and his early followers conducted "provings," in which they administered herbs, minerals, and other substances to healthy people, including themselves, and kept detailed records of what they observed. These records were compiled into lengthy reference books that are used to match a patient's symptoms with a corresponding drug.
Hahnemann declared that diseases represent a disturbance in the body's ability to heal itself and that only a small stimulus is needed to begin the healing process. He also claimed that chronic diseases are manifestations of a suppressed itch, a kind of miasma or evil spirit. At first he used small doses of accepted medications, but later he used enormous dilutions and theorized that the smaller the dose, the more powerful the effect -- a principle he called the "law of infinitesimals." That, of course, is just the opposite of the dose-response relationship that pharmacologists have demonstrated.
The basis for inclusion in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia is not modern scientific testing, but homeopathic provings conducted during the 1800s and early 1900s. The current edition describes how more than a thousand substances are prepared for homeopathic use [3]. It does not identify the symptoms or diseases for which homeopathic products should be used; that is decided by the practitioner (or manufacturer). The fact that substances listed in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia are legally recognized as drugs does not mean that either the law or FDA recognizes them as effective [4,5].
Because homeopathic remedies were actually less dangerous than those of nineteenth-century medical orthodoxy, many medical practitioners began using them. At the turn of the twentieth century, homeopathy had about 14,000 practitioners and 22 schools in the United States. But as medical science and medical education advanced, homeopathy's popularity declined sharply in the United States, and its schools either closed or converted to modern methods. The last purely homeopathic school in this country closed during the 1920s [6].
Homeopathic products are made from minerals, botanical substances, and several other sources. If the original substance is soluble, one part is diluted with either 9 or 99 parts of distilled water or alcohol and shaken vigorously; if insoluble, it is finely ground and pulverized in similar proportions with powdered lactose. One part of the diluted medicine is then further diluted, and the process is repeated until the desired concentration is reached. Dilutions of 1:10 are designated by the Roman numeral X (1X = 1/10, 3X = 1/ 103, 6X = 1/106). Dilutions of 1:100 are designated by the Roman numeral C (1C = 1/100, 3C = 1/1003, and so on). Most remedies today range from 6X to 30X, but products of 30C or more are marketed.
A 30X dilution means that the original substance has been diluted 1030 times. Assuming that a milliliter of water contains 15 drops, 1010 drops of water would fill a container more than 50 times the size of the Earth. Imagine placing a drop of red dye into such a container full of water so that it disperses evenly. Homeopathy's law of infinitesimals is the equivalent of saying that any drop of water subsequently removed from that container will possess an "essence" of redness. Robert L. Park, Ph.D., a prominent physicist who is a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, has noted that, since the smallest amount of a substance that could exist in a solution is one molecule, a 30C solution would have to have at least one molecule of the original substance dissolved in a minimum of 1060 molecules of water. This would require a container more than 30 billion times the size of the Earth [7].
Hahnemann himself realized that there is virtually no chance that even one molecule of original substance would remain after extreme dilutions. However, he believed that the vigorous shaking or pulverizing with each step of dilution leaves behind a spirit-like essence -- no longer perceptible to the senses -- which cures by reviving the body's "vital force."' This notion is unsubstantiated. Moreover, if it were true, every substance encountered by a molecule of water might imprint an essence that could exert powerful (and unpredictable) medicinal effects when the water is ingested by a person.
Unimpressive Research
Since many homeopathic remedies contain no detectable amount of active ingredient, it is impossible to test whether they contain what their label says. Unlike most prescription and nonprescription drugs, homeopathic remedies have not been proven effective against disease by double-blind clinical testing.
Hill and Doyon analyzed 40 randomized trials that had compared homeopathic treatment with standard treatment, a placebo, or no treatment. All but three of the trials had major flaws in their design; only one of those three reported homeopathic treatment as more effective than standard treatment or placebo. The authors concluded that there is no evidence that homeopathic treatment has any more value than a placebo [8].
Proponents trumpet the few studies that support homeopathic treatments as proof that homeopathy works. Even if the results can be consistently reproduced (which seems unlikely), the most that the study of a single remedy for a single disease could prove is that the remedy is effective against that disease. It would not validate homeopathy's basic theories or prove that homeopathic treatment is useful for other diseases.
Placebo effects can be powerful, but the potential benefit of relieving symptoms with placebos should be weighed against the harm that can result from relying on -- and wasting money on -- ineffective products. Spontaneous remission is also a factor in homeopathy's popularity. We suspect that most people who credit a homeopathic product for their recovery would have fared equally well without it.
Homeopaths are working hard to have their services covered under national health insurance. They claim to provide care that is safer, gentler, more natural, and less expensive than conventional care, and they claim to be more concerned with prevention than conventional physicians. However, homeopathic treatments prevent nothing, and many homeopathic leaders preach against immunization [7].
Need for More Regulation
If FDA required homeopathic remedies to be proven effective in order to remain marketable -- the standard it applies to other categories of drugs -- homeopathy would face extinction in the United States. However, there is no indication that the agency is considering this. FDA officials regard homeopathy as relatively benign (compared, for example, with unsubstantiated products marketed for cancer and AIDS) and believe that other problems should get enforcement priority [9]. If FDA attacks homeopathy too vigorously, its proponents might even persuade a lobby-susceptible Congress to rescue them.
Regardless of this risk, FDA should not permit worthless drug products to be marketed with claims that they are effective. In August 1994, we and 40 other prominent critics of quackery and pseudoscience asked the agency to curb the sale of homeopathic products [10]. Our petition urged FDA to initiate a rulemaking procedure to require that all nonprescription homeopathic drugs meet the same standards of safety and effectiveness as nonprescription nonhomeopathic drugs. It also asked for a public warning that, although FDA has permitted homeopathic remedies to be sold, it does not recognize them as effective.
Meanwhile, we urge pharmacists not to stock homeopathic remedies and to inform customers that such products simply don't work. We also hope that pharmacy educators, journal editors, and pharmacy organizations will regard this as an important ethical issue.
1. Hahnemann S. Organon of Medicine, Edition 6, 1842. English translation: Los Angeles: J.P. Tarcher, Inc., 1982.
2. Cummings S, Ullman D. Everybody's guide to homeopathic medicines. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1984.
3. Homeopathic Pharmacopoeial Convention of the United States. Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States Revision Service. Washington, DC: Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia Convention of the United States, 1994.
4. Food and Drug Administration. Conditions under which homeopathic drugs may be marketed. FDA Compliance Policy Guide 7132.15. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1988, revised 1995.
5. Skolnick AA. FDA petitioned to 'stop homeopathy scam.' JAMA 272:1154-1154, 1994.
6. Kaufman M. Homeopathy in America: the rise and fall of a medical heresy. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press; 1971.
7. Barrett S, Herbert V. The vitamin pushers: how the "health food" industry is selling America a bill of goods. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1994.
8. Hill C, Doyon F. Review of randomized trials of homeopathy. Review of Epidemiology 38:139-142, 1990.
9. Rados B. Riding the coattails of homeopathy's revival. FDA Consumer 19(2):30-44, 1985.
10. Barrett S et al. Petition regarding homeopathic drugs. FDA docket no. 94P-0316/CP 1. Aug 25, 1994.
Dr. Tyler, who died in 2001, was the Lilly distinguished professor of pharmacognosy (the science of medicines from natural sources) at Purdue University. A world-renowned authority, he wrote The Honest Herbal, an evaluation of popular herbs, and was senior author of the textbook Pharmacognosy. This article originally appeared in slightly different form in the May 1, 1995, issue of American Journal of Health System Pharmacists.
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: homeopathy - Omeopatia   Mer 30 Set 2009 - 11:11


complex homeopathy

Complex homeopathy is homeopathy that uses remedies that are mixtures of ingredients or that prescribes several remedies taken in combination. The remedies may vary in strength. In classical homeopathy, single remedies of a given potency are used.

Complex homeopathy selects remedies based mainly on the symptoms of the patient, rather than on a detailed personal interview. Symptoms such as producing mucus when one has a cold, vomiting or sweating when feverish, increased urination with a bladder infection, and diarrhea are taken as the body's natural way to rid itself of whatever is harming it. Remedies are selected that will not suppress but rather encourage these natural processes of elimination.

Dr. Hans Heinrich Reckeweg, M.D. of Germany reasoned that "if there were ten remedies that did the same thing, then it would be prudent to add all ten to one formula, and let the patient’s system choose the one that it wanted."* Reckeweg also added multiple potencies of the same remedies, and let the patient’s system choose not only which remedy it wanted, but which potency of the remedy it wanted. Why this would be prudent is not clear but it wouldn't be imprudent since homeopathic remedies are essentially inert. If you add ten zeros you still have zero. But it won't work with active substances like narcotics. If you take ten different narcotics and let the body choose which one it wants, more than likely your body won't have to make any more decisions about anything. Dr. Reckeweg developed over 2,000 remedies during the 40 years he practiced what he called "homotoxicology."

Practitioners of complex homeopathy favor detoxifying the body and seem to see disease as complicated by toxins the body is striving to eliminate. These toxins may be due to pollutants in the environment or to such things as smoking or drug abuse.

Complex Homoeopathic therapy addresses the patient's particular stress factors rather than her or his constitutional type, and the remedies are combined in a way to cover the highest number of toxic and functional disturbances. The object is to reduce the toxic and other stress burdens and thus free the patient's energies that are tied up in coping with these stress factors.*
One variant of complex homeopathy is called resonance homeopathy by its creator, Dr. Roy Martina, M.D. of Holland. He claims he can amplify the energy in a remedy by mixing it with "other carefully chosen ingredients with similar energetic signatures."* According to Dr. Martina,

The goal of resonance homeopathy is to create the best harmonizing resonance for the body and use potent ingredients to create that one synergetic force that will stimulate the body to heal itself.
That may be the goal but he gives little information as to what this might mean and even less evidence as to how it can be achieved

See also anthroposophic medicine, homeopathy, isopathy, and nosode.


further reading

Avon Complementary Medicine - complex homeopathy

Homeopathy 3 : Complex Remedies by John Morley, with help from Peter Bartlett
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MessaggioOggetto: Isopathy - Isopatia   Mer 30 Set 2009 - 11:17


A type of homeopathy that uses medicines made by diluting and succussing the suspected causes of disease, such as a virus, toxin, or pollutant. It is common in isopathy to administer nosodes. Johann Joseph Wilhelm Lux (1773-1849) is credited with creating isopathy.

Isopathy is not a type of vaccine treatment.

John Goodwin, an isopathic homeopath in New Zealand, claims he has invented the Theratest machine, which can detect any toxins in the body. He uses it to determine what he calls "the toxic pecking order." He then develops homeopathic remedies from the toxins and promises to completely detoxify anyone who comes to him for treatment.*


A nosode is a homeopathic remedy prepared from a pathological specimen. The specimen is taken from a diseased animal or person and may consist of saliva, pus, urine, blood, or diseased tissue



by Marina Zacharias, Author & Editor of Natural Rearing Newsletter Copyright© 1996
The following article was reprinted from the January 1996 issue of Natural Rearing Newsletter by permission of the author. All rights reserved. No part of this article shall be reprinted without the express permission of Cyberpet.

Leggere anche al link:



A sarcode is a homeopathic remedy prepared from a healthy specimen. The specimen is taken from a healthy animal or person, e.g., a healthy organ or tissue.
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MessaggioOggetto: Omeopatia: il disastro del rapporto Donner   Gio 3 Mar 2011 - 16:18

Omeopatia: il disastro del rapporto Donner


Query Online
Pubblicato: 7 febbraio 2011Postato in: Speciale Omeopatia

Pubblichiamo un estratto dell’analisi di Jan Willem Nienhuys, segretario dell’associazione olandese Skepsis, pubblicato in origine qui e tradotto da Luisa Stevano e Maria Gabriela De Paola per il numero 87 di Scienza&Paranormale.

Uno dei più grossi studi, per numero
di partecipanti e quantità di dati raccolti, sull’efficacia dei farmaci
omeopatici fu portato avanti nella Germania nazista. Vediamo quali sono
stati i risultati.

Fritz Donner (1896-1979) era figlio di un medico omeopata ed era omeopata egli stesso. A partire dal 1927 lavorò presso l’ospedale omeopatico di Stoccarda, dove scoprì che molte cose non andavano nell’omeopatia.

Quando un omeopata prescrive una medicina, lo fa paragonando i sintomi del paziente a quelli che in omeopatia vengono chiamati quadri dei rimedi. Il quadro di un rimedio è fondamentalmente un elenco di sintomi correlati al rimedio omeopatico. La dottrina omeopatica sostiene che tale lista dovrebbe essere composta da tutti i principali “sintomi” osservati in persone sane che hanno preso tale rimedio. Questi sintomi sono ottenuti tramite i cosiddetti proving (termine omeopatico traducibile come “dati tossicologici sugli effetti di varie sostanze sull’organismo”). Durante un proving gruppi di persone sane prendono il rimedio e poi annotano i loro “sintomi” su un diario.

I rimedi omeopatici sono famosi per le loro ripetute diluizioni, ma per un proving non è necessario utilizzare sostanze diluite parecchie volte. La dottrina omeopatica sostiene comunque che diluizioni maggiori provocano un maggior numero di sintomi spirituali. Così per la diluizione C6 (che è il termine omeopatico per una diluizione di 100 x 100 x 100 x 100 x 100 x 100 – preparata, per ogni diluizione, sbattendo ripetutamente la bottiglia contro un soffice oggetto di pelle, come la legatura di un libro) il quadro del rimedio può essere diverso dal caso a diluizione C1; a C30 si potrà ottenere avere un quadro completamente differente. Per esempio, il comune sale da tavola diventa un rimedio potente ad alte diluizioni.
Delirium tremens

Almeno questa era (ed è) la teoria. Donner scoprì presto che le cose nella pratica erano completamente diverse. Per esempio, si credeva dogmaticamente che l’Apis mellifica presentasse come sintomi chiave: 1) una piccola borsa sotto la palpebra destra e 2) mancanza di sete. Quando Donner studiò la cosa notò che questi sintomi rilevanti non erano causati da un vero proving, ma da una puntura di ape vicino al lato destro della bocca. La guancia destra della vittima si era gonfiata enormemente. Mentre si formava l’edema, la vittima divenne molto assetata, cosa normale quando grandi quantità di fluidi corporei affluiscono alla guancia. Non appena l’edema si ritirò, la sete della vittima svanì.

Allo stesso modo, un amico di Donner scoprì che negli scritti originali di Hahnemann (il fondatore dell’omeopatia) venivano riportati non meno di 716 sintomi ottenuti strofinando le persone con un magnete! Era chiaro (nel 1927) che questi dovevano essere sintomi placebo e Donner e i suoi amici (tutti medici assistenti all’ospedale di Stoccarda) si domandarono se anche altri proving non avessero prodotto sintomi placebo. Comunque, nessun altro omeopata si era mai posto questa domanda prima.

Un rimedio, la Platina, aveva proprietà speciali, ma queste furono tutte esattamente riconducibili al caso di una signora “leggermente esaltata” che all’improvviso cominciò a veder tutto più piccolo dopo averla assunta. Tale fenomeno avrebbe potuto essere ricondotto a una causa psichiatrica.

Il Lac caninum (latte di cane) veniva caldamente raccomandato per la difterite. Anche ciò si basava su un singolo caso, esattamente su quello di Laura Morgan, una statunitense di 24 anni laureata in medicina. In una mattina d’estate del 1870 la ragazza prese alcuni grani CM (una diluizione preparata secondo una ricetta speciale dell’americano dott. Swan) di questo rimedio e come conseguenza soffrì per due anni di frequenti attacchi di delirium tremens. Secondo la dottrina omeopatica non ha alcuna importanza sapere di cosa soffre il paziente prima di prendere il rimedio. Durante questi due anni Laura una volta ebbe mal di gola. Le venne diagnosticata la difterite, ma secondo Donner questo giudizio non era esatto. In primo luogo Laura non era così malata da dover stare a letto e in secondo luogo i medici statunitensi dell’epoca avevano pochissima esperienza. A volte si poteva ottenere una licenza completa dopo aver studiato solo due anni, o persino un anno, senza visitare neanche un paziente, e l’unico requisito necessario era la preparazione della scuola elementare.

Donner si stupì molto che nessuno volesse ascoltare le sue scoperte sulla mancanza di affidabilità dei quadri dei rimedi. Inoltre, quando parlò della storia del Lac caninum i suoi superiori minacciarono di licenziarlo in tronco se avesse mai tirato fuori un’altra volta una montatura del genere.
Fuori dall’oscurità

Nel 1927 la Germania era molto interessata all’omeopatia. Un famoso chirurgo di nome August Bier (inventore dell’anestesia spinale) si era espresso a favore dell’omeopatia nel 1925. L’Ufficio Statale della Sanità (Reichsgesundheitsamt, RGA) decise di sottoporre a verifica l’omeopatia. Nel 1933 i nazisti andarono al potere in Germania. A parte la loro disgustosa politica, erano anche ossessionati dalla salute e dalla medicina naturale. Non molti sanno che i medici tedeschi già molto prima del 1945 avevano scoperto che il fumo è la causa principale del cancro ai polmoni, con largo anticipo su Doll e Peto che arrivarono alle stesse conclusioni. Così nel 1936, durante un Congresso Internazionale Omeopatico a Berlino venne solennemente annunciato (da Rudolf Hess!) che i test stavano per cominciare.

I signori della RGA lavorarono con precisione germanica. Per prima cosa interrogarono molti omeopati sulle loro convinzioni e i loro metodi. Donner riporta che andarono da lui 300 volte. Il piano prevedeva di eseguire proving (randomizzati in doppio cieco, ovviamente) e poi anche test sui rimedi omeopatici sui pazienti. Se tutto fosse andato bene, lo stato tedesco era pronto a stanziare centinaia di milioni di dollari (prebellici).

Presto saltò fuori che per tradizione un cosiddetto proving non era mai stato fatto in cieco. A volte, all’inizio, ai pazienti della sperimentazione veniva dato un flacone di placebo, ma poi veniva loro detto: «Questo è un placebo per verificare la vostra suggestionabilità»! Non c’è da stupirsi se tutti lasciarono il loro diario in bianco dopo questa rivelazione. Quando Donner ebbe l’idea di omettere questo avvertimento e si spinse fino a dare a tutti tre serie di placebo (in tre settimane successive), i pazienti testati, medici che seguivano il suo corso introduttivo all’omeopatia, riempirono i loro diari con tanti “sintomi” quanti erano quelli riportati quando prendevano un rimedio (altamente diluito).

Quando Donner lo riferì ai suoi colleghi omeopati, questi non gli credettero. «Questo è umanamente impossibile!» dissero. Più o meno nello stesso periodo, Paul Martini stava facendo esperimenti simili nell’ambito dello stesso mega-progetto e venne molto criticato per le sue scoperte. Si scoprì anche che nei reproving (proving eseguiti per confermare le scoperte degli omeopati del passato) i responsabili degli esperimenti erano soliti selezionare dai diari quei sintomi che ritenevano essere confermativi, ignorando tutti gli altri.

Non furono svolti molti esperimenti con trattamenti di persone malate. Comunque, il presidente dell’Associazione Centrale Omeopati tedesca, Hanns Rabe, ne fece uno sotto la supervisione della RGA. Gli venne permesso di selezionare un certo numero di pazienti cronici ospedalizzati che vennero trattati con il rimedio Silicea (sabbia altamente diluita). Donner lo avvertì che questi pazienti non sarebbero guariti e così accadde. Fu una tale sconfitta che i signori della RGA non osarono farne un resoconto ai loro superiori. Forse temevano il licenziamento o anche di peggio una volta che i leader politici fossero venuti a sapere che la loro adorata terapia aveva fallito così miseramente. Più tardi la RGA fece pressione su Rabe affinché pianificasse un esperimento per curare con l’omeopatia il morbo di Basedow. Il medico si era vantato di poterlo fare con facilità e aveva perfino prodotto delle dichiarazioni scritte in questo senso, per cui non poté tirarsi indietro.

Questo fu il momento in cui Rabe confessò a Donner che l’omeopatia non poteva avere alcun effetto, che essa era solo un travestimento della psicoterapia e che le millanterie degli omeopati non andavano prese alla lettera. All’inizio Donner non fu d’accordo, ma poi cambiò idea almeno in parte quando si rese conto che i trattamenti che lui stesso faceva risultavano essere dei semplici placebo, che avevano effetto solo perché i pazienti ci credevano, pazienti le cui malattie erano spesso ugualmente immaginarie.

Nel triennio tra il 1936 e il 1939 molti altri esperimenti avrebbero potuto essere svolti, ma dalle lettere di Donner trapela che gli omeopati millantavano parecchio, salvo poi fare di tutto per evitare di cooperare quando venivano chiamati per prendere parte a esperimenti clinici sotto la supervisione dell’RGA.

Per inciso, non bisogna pensare che questi test fossero dei crudeli maltrattamenti di prigionieri nei campi di sterminio. I team scelti per condurre gli esperimenti erano composti da medici eminenti di ospedali accademici, che si supponeva lavorassero con i loro pazienti. In caso di necessità lo Stato era pronto a pagare reparti temporanei negli ospedali, per esempio un reparto di pazienti con morbo di Basedow con 50 letti per Rabe. Per i proving si pensò di reclutare volontari tra le associazioni omeopatiche; lo stesso Donner sottopose a test in totale circa 200 medici che prendevano parte ai suoi corsi.
Nel modo più inoffensivo possibile

Dopo lo scoppio della guerra gli esperimenti furono bloccati. Tuttavia dopo la guerra la RGA e il suo successore, il Ministero della Sanità di Stato, (Bundesgesundheitsamt, BGA), stavano cercando da lungo tempo qualcuno che volesse occuparsi di tutto il materiale raccolto, un fascio di cartelle alto più di tre metri, con le trascrizioni di interviste e dei risultati degli esperimenti clinici del farmaco (e probabilmente tutti i diari dei proving).

Gli omeopati tendono ad essere prolissi, così tutte quelle interviste potrebbero aver costituito una considerevole parte del materiale. Donner era troppo occupato a gestire un ospedale a Berlino, così non volle sobbarcarsi il compito. Ma in seguito al suo pensionamento, nel 1961, la BGA e altri pensarono di chiedergli di scrivere una relazione sull’intera faccenda “da un punto di vista omeopatico”. Donner lavorò sulla questione per quattro anni e quando sospettò che fosse prossima una pubblicazione da parte della BGA e che i test sarebbero proseguiti, ridusse la sua relazione da 300 a 40 pagine e cercò di sottoporla ad una rivista omeopatica.

Era sua intenzione riportare al buon senso i suoi amici omeopati prima che fosse troppo tardi. Egli sperava che avrebbero abbandonato tutta la loro fede nelle alte diluizioni, e che si sarebbero basati solo su un numero limitato di sostanze e sulla descrizione di quadri di rimedi a bassa diluizione: C1, C2 e forse C3. Evidentemente riteneva che il principio di similitudine potesse valere in questi casi. Tuttavia la rivista omeopatica rifiutò di pubblicare l’articolo, né tantomeno lo pubblicò il BGA.

La pila di carte alta più di tre metri sparì senza lasciare traccia. Si potrebbe sospettare una cospirazione, ma probabilmente si trattò solo di negligenza e stupidità, come in genere accade. Nel 1969 una rivista omeopatica francese pubblicò una traduzione della relazione di Donner, ma non ebbe effetto nel contrastare l’ascesa dell’omeopatia. Infatti l’omeopatia è diventata una proficua “medicina da banco”, ben lontana dai dottori che trascorrono un’ora con un paziente mentre sfogliano impressionanti volumi per individuare il farmaco “più simile” per tutte le personali lamentele ed esperienze del paziente.

Donner scrisse anche due lettere a colleghi omeopati con commenti sulla sua relazione. Cercò anche di mantenerla il più inoffensiva possibile, omettendo i peggiori esempi di stupidità ed ignoranza dell’omeopatia. Nelle sue lettere a colleghi fidati fu molto meno controllato. Uno di questi era l’allora presidente dell’associazione omeopatica Erich Unseld, e l’altro l’editore capo della principale rivista omeopatica, Heinz Schoeler. Leggendo le lettere ci si chiede: perché Donner non abbandonò completamente l’omeopatia? Penso che ci siano due ragioni. La prima è che era una sua convinzione sin dall’infanzia, l’altra è che prima del 1939 l’omeopatia e la medicina ufficiale non erano poi molto diverse come si potrebbe invece pensare.

Gli omeopati erano soliti vantarsi del fatto che i loro ospedali ottenessero i migliori risultati. Donner scrisse un articolo spiegando che c’erano talmente tante differenze tra gli ospedali omeopatici e quelli ufficiali che un paragone sarebbe stato senza senso. Indicò anche una pubblicazione del 1915 (ristampata in parecchie riviste omeopatiche americane) del prof. Fritz Conrad Askenstedt del Southwestern Homoeopathic Medical College di Louisville. Dal primo di aprile del 1899, l’ospedale della città stipulò un accordo con il College in base al quale di ogni sei pazienti ammessi all’ospedale uno venisse trattato dal College con metodi omeopatici. Alimentazione, assistenza (e presumibilmente anche gli anestetici durante le operazioni) erano esattamente uguali per tutti i pazienti, solo la cura risultava diversa per i pazienti trattati in maniera omeopatica.

Risultò che le mortalità dei pazienti trattati in maniera allopatica e omeopatica erano statisticamente indistinguibili. Né si osservava una differenza quando le morti venivano classificate in riferimento al tipo di malattia (polmoni, cuore, intestino, reni, infezioni, chirurgia, eccetera). La spiegazione si deve al fatto che, a quei tempi, la medicina ufficiale era impotente in svariati casi. In un articolo del 1922 che paragonava l’omeopatia alla medicina ufficiale furono elencate le seguenti medicine ufficiali per la polmonite: atropina, caffeina, olio di canfora, digitale, morfina, stricnina, whisky, e via dicendo

La medicina ufficiale migliorò solo lentamente. Donner scrisse a Unseld che, con i suoi amici a Stoccarda, nel 1930, aveva provato a stabilire gli effetti dell’omeopatia sulla polmonite. In quel tempo osservava una mortalità del 55 per cento (7 su 13) che egli ritenne alta in maniera inaccettabile se confrontata alla medicina ufficiale, in quanto non aveva trattato i casi più seri, ma solo pazienti perfettamente sani prima dell’insorgenza della polmonite, e non per esempio persone vecchie e deboli che non potevano più permettersi il pagamento di un’assicurazione sulla vita.

L’omeopatia si basa sul principio di similitudine, e l’atteggiamento di Donner rivela che credere in questo principio è indipendente, da un punto di vista logico, dal credere nell’efficacia delle alte diluizioni. Per la maggior parte dei critici queste alte diluizioni costituiscono l’aspetto più sconcertante dell’omeopatia, ma il principio di similitudine si basa sulle stesse povere basi, saltando a conclusioni e prestando fede a esperienze aneddotiche.
Continuando a sognare

Leggendo tra le righe si ha l’impressione che i signori della RGA non credessero per nulla all’omeopatia. Ma le più alte autorità (Hess e forse perfino Hitler stesso) avevano ordinato loro di sottoporre l’omeopatia a verifiche, e poiché gli ordini erano ordini, non poterono rifiutare di collaborare. Se essi avessero trovato che l’omeopatia non funzionava avrebbero avuto bisogno di prove di ferro per dimostrare di aver fatto il massimo per essere imparziali.

Non diedero agli omeopati alcuna opportunità di lamentarsi di iniquità. Rabe confessò a Donner che i signori erano stati così profondamente corretti ed amichevoli che egli non aveva potuto trovare alcun pretesto per rifiutare la collaborazione e che si stava “spremendo il cervello” per trovare un modo di sabotare gli atti, “perché non possiamo affatto fare ciò che affermiamo di saper fare”. Quando Donner cercò di spiegare all’RGA che tutte quelle storie sulle alte diluizioni non avevano senso, essi gli dissero, senza mezzi termini, che erano stati incaricati di valutare la pratica standard degli omeopati e non le opinioni di un qualunque signor Donner.

L’intero rapporto di Donner fu pubblicato in tedesco in una rivista non molto nota (Perfusion) nel 1995 ed anche in una dissertazione del 2003. Le lettere di Donner a Unseld e Schoeler divennero disponibili in traduzione francese nell’appendice di un libro del 1985. I testi originali in tedesco sono ora disponibili su internet (come anche una traduzione olandese).
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: homeopathy - Omeopatia   Gio 3 Mar 2011 - 16:24



10:23 – Si chiudono i rubinetti per l’Omeopatia inglese

Tra lo stop al suo utilizzo sugli animali, associazioni di medici che chiedono la revoca dei finanziamenti pubblici, campagne volontarie di sensibilizzazione e imbarazzanti scoop, nel Regno Unito si registra un’inversione di tendenza sull’Omeopatia. Vediamo i dettagli.

OMEOPATIA – Da un po’ di tempo l’Omeopatia non se la passa molto bene in Gran Bretagna. La stessa campagna 10:23 è partita da Merseyside a fine 2009 e quindi, grazie alla Rete, alla comunicazione fatta da esponenti eccellenti del movimento scettico come il biologo Richard Dawkins (Richard Dawkins foundation for reason and science), il medico e giornalista Ben Goldacre (The Guardian) e il matematico, giornalista e documentarista Simon Singh (BBC, The Guardian) si è aggiunto un contributo su base volontaria (a volte poco ortodosso ma molto efficace), con il comune obiettivo di sensibilizzare i cittadini sulla teoria e la prassi dell’Omeopatia, poco nota e spesso confusa con l’erboristeria. Ci si mette anche la BBC e i legislatori sono stati costretti a prendere in esame il problema.

Eppure negli anni passati il supporto di testimonial eccellenti a partire, nientemeno, dal principe Carlo, aveva contribuito al successo dell’Omeopatia in Gran Bretagna, ma ora nemmeno gli amati Corgi della regina Elisabetta potrebbero usufruirne. Infatti recentemente il Veterinary Medicines Directorate e il DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) hanno colmato un vuoto regolamentativo stabilendo obblighi precisi per quanto riguarda le medicine alternative/complementari per uso animale (sia da affezione che da reddito): se le aziende produttrici non sapranno dimostrare la loro sicurezza ed efficacia, dovranno ricommercializzare il prodotto in modo tale che sia chiaro che non si tratta di medicinali e quindi non sono passati attraverso i test che ne dimostrano i principi e il funzionamento.

Per quando riguarda l’Omeopatia, negli esempi che riporta il comunicato si nominano i “nosodi“. Si tratta di “vaccini” omeopatici preparati tipicamente a partire da tessuto biologico malato o comunque da sostanze responsabili di una determinata patologia. Opportunamente sterilizzate e diluite a concentrazioni omeopatiche, il rimedio dovrebbe immunizzare contro le stesse patologie.

Dal sito

Rajan Sankaran, nel suo libro “L’anima dei Rimedi” (1997), sostiene che: [...] I nosodi vengono preparati da un tessuto malato in piena crisi infettiva e, quindi, del tutto sopraffatto dall’infezione. Si preparano in questo modo affinché le caratteristiche di fondo del processo infettivo si manifestino nel nosode. Nel caso della scabbia, il tessuto presenterà le caratteristiche dell’infezione scabica, il cui sintomo principale è il prurito intenso. Si tratta di un combattimento costante caratterizzato da un fastidio estremo. Il nosode viene preparato da un tessuto infetto e, quindi, totalmente vinto dalla scabbia. [...]

Conclusioni: l’Omeopatia in Inghilterra (come medicinale) è da considerarsi “non adatta a uso animale”.

È un punto interessante, poiché gli omeopati spesso citano l’efficacia dell’Omeopatia su cani e gatti come prova che non si tratta di placebo. In realtà, il placebo sugli animali esiste, eccome, e c’è un’ampia letteratura a riguardo che evidentemente qualcuno decide di ignorare.

Questo accadeva a dicembre 2010, ma già il 4 gennaio 2011 un servizio televisivo puntava di nuovo i riflettori sull’Omeopatia.

Antefatto: nel 2006 l’associazione Sense About Science rivelava che durante i consulti alcuni omeopati londinesi, scelti casualmente da Internet e filmati con una telecamera nascosta, non esitavano a proporre rimedi omeopatici in sostituzione alla vaccinazione o della normale profilassi per malattie infettive come la malaria a pazienti con l’intenzione di recarsi in aree a rischio. Questo avveniva non solo nelle visite private, ma anche nelle più prestigiose “farmacie” omeopatiche di Londra come Nelsons e Ainsworths. I filmati sono poi andati in onda nella trasmissione di approfondimento della BBC Newslight.

A quattro anni di distanza il procedimento legale avviatosi contro le farmacie sta per essere abbandonato (come in effetti succederà). Gli ufficiali giudiziari ritengono infatti che i responsabili nel frattempo abbiano preso misure adeguate perché i fatti non si ripetessero.

La nuova puntata di Newslight a gennaio fa il punto della situazione. Nel servizio un’altra omeopata è ripresa dalla telecamera mentre informa la paziente che sta per partire per l’Africa meridionale che i rimedi omeopatici contro la malaria sono paragonabili a quelli testati, forse solo leggermente inferiori.

Il servizio prosegue fino alla farmacia Ainsworth’s e l’inviato legge un “bugiardino” (mai nomignolo fu più appropriato) di un rimedio appena acquistato: sebbene si specifichi che l’efficacia delle vaccinazioni omeopatiche (tra cui quelle per febbre gialla, poliomelite, meningite, dengue e naturalmente malaria) non è mai stata provata scientificamente attraverso trial clinici, l’acquirente può ragionevolmente contare su (e cito) “prove aneddotiche” della loro efficacia. Poi si passa alla posologia.

Come si può vedere nel video, dopo la fine del servizio in studio si svolge un acceso dibattito (secondo gli standard inglesi…) tra Zofia Dymitr, portavoce della Society of Homeopaths, e il giornalista scientifico Simon Singh. Incalzata anche dalla conduttrice la portavoce riesce, se possibile, a peggiorare la situazione: le linee guida per i professionisti iscritti nel registro dell’associazione (a differenza, fortunatamente, dell’Italia, non è necessario essere medici per fregiarsi del titolo di omeopata n.d.r.) non invitano i membri a dissuadere il paziente da un’adeguata profilassi ma, rispondendo alla conduttrice che le chiedeva per quale motivo, allora, ai pazienti non viene detto chiaramente di non utilizzare rimedi omeopatici per prevenire e trattare malattie infettive, si appella alla “libertà di scelta“. Dal momento che in questo caso stiamo parlando di malattie infettive è difficile giustificare questa posizione, visto che (salvo vaccinazione obbligatoria) la libertà di non prendere valide precauzioni può tradursi nell’esportare la malattia nel paese di origine (per esempio la difterite, citata nel bugiardino, non ha bisogno di zanzare per essere trasmessa).

Non tutti gli omeopati sono però d’accordo con questa visione. Nel 2006 Peter Fisher, direttore del Royal London Homeopathic Hospital (ora Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine), diceva fermamente che:

[...] non c’è nessuna ragione per pensare che l’Omeopatia possa funzionare per prevenire la malaria, non lo troverete scritto in un nessun testo o rivista di omeopatia, quindi è chiaro che le persone contrarranno la malaria, e potrebbero anche morire se seguono questi consigli.

Ma, se guardiamo alla storia dell’Omeopatia, questa marmorea posizione è piuttosto singolare poiché, come chiunque può riscontrare anche su qualsiasi sito di promozione dell’Omeopatia, la malaria è alla base della formulazione della “Legge dei simili” da parte di Samuel Hahnemann e lui stesso ne parla diffusamente nella Bibbia dell’Omeopatia, ovvero l’Organon. Hahnemann (fine XVIII secolo) venne a sapere che il chinino curava i sintomi della malaria. Assumendo chinino in prima persona, accusò sintomi a questa paragonabili. Il ragionamento che ne è conseguito, in breve, è che il segreto della guarigione da una malattia è racchiuso in quelle sostanze che, in un individuo sano, produrrebbero gli stessi sintomi.

Pare che alcuni di questi sintomi possano essere curati anche dal plutonio, basta recarsi nel posto giusto. Sull’argomento a questo link potete scaricare in italiano un divertente articolo su The Guardian di Marc Abrahams, che ne ha gentilmente concesso la ripubblicazione su Oggiscienza.

Per completare il quadro sulla situazione inglese bisogna aggiungere il fatto che la British Medical Association dal 2010 chiede a gran voce che i fondi pubblici all’Omeopatia siano ritirati e che sui rimedi omeopatici venga apposta l’etichetta appropriata, cioè “placebo”.

In tempi di crisi, sembra che gli inglesi siano stati i primi a capire quanto sia importante chiudere bene i rubinetti.
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: homeopathy - Omeopatia   Sab 5 Mar 2011 - 11:15

Ciao Admin , sai gia' come la penso sull'omeopatia , avendone avuto un'esperienza diretta positiva .Per quanto sta succedendo in Inghilterra io la penso cosi' : premesso che l'omeopatia si prefigge principalmente di prevenire anziche' di dover curare quando il male si e' gia' manifestato , premesso che costa di meno prevenire anziche' curare (costa di piu' girare il volante della tua macchina o aggiustare la tua macchina quando oramai ti sei schiantato sul muro?) , mi sembra perfettamente logico (ma non morale) che in un momento di crisi economica si tagli un ramo finanziariamente poco redditizio che potrebbe causare serie perdite alle industrie farmaceutiche tradizionali .La ragion di Stato passa sopra il bene dei cittadini....
un salutone da Ferutius
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: homeopathy - Omeopatia   Sab 5 Mar 2011 - 11:52

ferutius ha scritto:
Ciao Admin , sai gia' come la penso sull'omeopatia , avendone avuto un'esperienza diretta positiva .Per quanto sta succedendo in Inghilterra io la penso cosi' : premesso che l'omeopatia si prefigge principalmente di prevenire anziche' di dover curare quando il male si e' gia' manifestato , premesso che costa di meno prevenire anziche' curare (costa di piu' girare il volante della tua macchina o aggiustare la tua macchina quando oramai ti sei schiantato sul muro?) , mi sembra perfettamente logico (ma non morale) che in un momento di crisi economica si tagli un ramo finanziariamente poco redditizio che potrebbe causare serie perdite alle industrie farmaceutiche tradizionali .La ragion di Stato passa sopra il bene dei cittadini....
un salutone da Ferutius

Ciao Ferutius,

io ho provato diverse volte per curiosità e per bisogno la omeopatia e non ho mai avuto riscontri positivi.

I prodotti omeopatici non sempre costano poc, anzi. All'epoca ho dovuto sborsare cifre a volte superiori alla media dei medicinali. Conosco persone che sono fanatiche di dietrologia e che vedono le ditte farmaceutiche dietro ad ogni malee su questo pianeta. Però nessuno di loro considera che esistono anche delle grandi aziende di prodotti omeopatici che hanno (essendo aziende) le stesse logiche di guadagno delle prime.

Infine, secondo me, il discorso della prevenzione rispetto alla cura è una cosa da capire bene: anche i medicinali permettono di prevenire cose piu gravi rispetto alle disfunzioni che si stanno curando. Se seguiamo la logica che hai citato, i prodotti omeopatici permettono di prevenire invece di curare. Prevenire l'insorgere del male giusto? ora ti chiedo: come diavolo fa l'omeopata a diagnosticare qualcosa che non si è ancora manifestato???? e che quindi non è ancora malattia? Se non è ancora malattia, ne consegue che non c'è nulla da curare.

Se per prevenire intendiamo invece informazioni pratiche su come tenere in salute il corpo, allora posso dirti che esistono moltissimi nutrizionisti, dietologi e altri merici specialisti che possono dare dei quadri specifici alla persona entro cui questa può attenersi per avere delle buona aspettative di salute.

La mia domanda è: può un terapeuta alternativo dire di poter davvero fare la stessa cosa? Previene cosa e come?

La ragion di stato, Ferutius, c'è sempre e in qualsiasi decisione dello Stato. é un meccanismo normale di funzionamento dellla società statale appunto. se però intendevi invece il discorso inerente la moralità di certe decisioni, non mi sembra che la cosa si possa definire immorale: non è stata dichiarata in Inghilterra vietata la omeopatia. A quanto pare (anche io non posso dirmi certo dei fatti fino a quando non mi documento bene) anche da loro ci sono pochi soldi, e dovendo gestire BENE quei pochi che hanno è stata fatta una cernita delle cose che sono state ritenute al momento superflue. Credo che a decisione sia sta apresa sulla base di molti fattori e non solo i fantomatici interessi delle ditte farmaceutiche. Se io fossi una ditta farmaceutica molto potente, non perderei tempo a pagare milioni di dollari per convincere i governi della Terra a boicottare la omeopatia. Molta gente crede in ogni caso nella omeopatia, indipendentemente da tutte le prove che sono state portate ad oggi e che dimostrano che non esiste (al momento) nessuna prova sulla loro validità (parlo di omepatia e non di erboristeria, la cui efficacia su alcuni composti è stata provata). Quindi, mi darei da fare per comprare e creare aziende che producono prodotti omeopatici, che tanto rendono comunque.

perché imporre la propria egemonia coercitivamente se si possono fruttare le credenze della gente?

Sia chiaro io non sostengo che le cose stiano andando così, ma solo che, ragionandoci sopra, mi sembra piu probabile una ipotesi di questo tipo che quella che vede medicina vs omepatia in una guerra del "bene contro il male". L'unico vero male è l'ignoranza, sempre.

A proposito di questo cito di nuovo quanto è stato riportato più sopra:

"Antefatto: nel 2006 l’associazione Sense About Science rivelava che
durante i consulti alcuni omeopati londinesi, scelti casualmente da
Internet e filmati con una telecamera nascosta, non esitavano a proporre
rimedi omeopatici in sostituzione alla vaccinazione o della normale
profilassi per malattie infettive come la malaria a pazienti con
l’intenzione di recarsi in aree a rischio. Questo avveniva non solo
nelle visite private, ma anche nelle più prestigiose “farmacie”
omeopatiche di Londra come Nelsons e Ainsworths. I filmati sono poi
andati in onda nella trasmissione di approfondimento della BBC

A quattro anni di distanza il procedimento legale
avviatosi contro le farmacie sta per essere abbandonato (come in effetti
succederà). Gli ufficiali giudiziari ritengono infatti che i
responsabili nel frattempo abbiano preso misure adeguate perché i fatti
non si ripetessero.

La nuova puntata di Newslight a gennaio fa il
punto della situazione. Nel servizio un’altra omeopata è ripresa dalla
telecamera mentre informa la paziente che sta per partire per l’Africa
meridionale che i rimedi omeopatici contro la malaria sono paragonabili a
quelli testati, forse solo leggermente inferiori.

Il servizio
prosegue fino alla farmacia Ainsworth’s e l’inviato legge un
“bugiardino” (mai nomignolo fu più appropriato) di un rimedio appena
acquistato: sebbene si specifichi che l’efficacia delle vaccinazioni
omeopatiche (tra cui quelle per febbre gialla, poliomelite, meningite,
dengue e naturalmente malaria) non è mai stata provata scientificamente
attraverso trial clinici, l’acquirente può ragionevolmente contare su (e
cito) “prove aneddotiche” della loro efficacia. Poi si passa alla

Ferutius a me questo non sembra un atteggiamento professionale da parte di quelle persone che sono state a quanto pare filmate e registrate :-)Se davvero credevano a quanto da loro proposto, perché hanno poi ritrattato? Per paura delle conseguenze legali? Perchè invece non farsi un viaggetto nei paesi malarici con la protezione del rimedio omeopatico? Direi che una dimostrazione del genere (sulla efficacia da loro conclamata) avrebbe messo a tacere in modo veloce ogni possibile critica da parte delle autorità....queste sono solo alcune mie considerazioni su quanto letto, se tu hai altri particolari della vicenda che ti sembrano degni di riflessione postali pure, l'argomento è assai complesso.
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Femminile Serpente
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: homeopathy - Omeopatia   Sab 18 Giu 2011 - 9:48

Admin riporto un interessante articolo di wikipedia sull'argomento trattato.

Si consiglia inoltre la visione dei seguenti articoli:


Da Wikipedia, l'enciclopedia libera.

Le pratiche qui descritte non sono accettate dalla scienza medica, non sono state sottoposte alle verifiche sperimentali condotte con metodo scientifico o non le hanno superate. Potrebbero pertanto essere inefficaci o dannose per la salute. Queste informazioni hanno solo un fine illustrativo. Wikipedia non dà consigli medici: leggi le avvertenze.

L'omeopatia (dal greco ὅμοιος, simile, e πάθος, sofferenza) è un controverso metodo terapeutico alternativo, i cui principi teorici sono stati formulati dal medico tedesco Samuel Hahnemann verso la fine del XVIII secolo.

Allo stato attuale, nessuno studio scientifico pubblicato su riviste mediche di valore riconosciuto ha potuto dimostrare che l'omeopatia presenti per una qualsiasi malattia un'efficacia clinica che sia superiore all'effetto placebo.

Alla base dell'omeopatia vi è il cosiddetto principio di similitudine del farmaco ("similia similibus curantur"), concetto privo di conferme scientifiche enunciato dallo stesso Hahnemann, secondo il quale il rimedio appropriato per una determinata malattia sarebbe dato da quella sostanza che, in una persona sana, induce sintomi simili a quelli osservati nella persona malata. Tale sostanza, detta anche "principio omeopatico", una volta individuata viene somministrata al malato in una quantità fortemente diluita; la misura della diluizione è definita dagli omeopati potenza.

L'opinione non dimostrata degli omeopati, e contraria all'evidenza scientifica in campo chimico, biologico e farmacologico, è che diluizioni maggiori della stessa sostanza non provocherebbero una riduzione dell'effetto farmacologico, bensì un suo ipotetico potenziamento. In realtà le diluizioni usate nell'omeopatia sono tanto alte da rendere il prodotto omeopatico un semplice composto di zucchero[1].

I principi e le origini dell'omeopatia

I principi dell'omeopatia sono contenuti nelle opere di Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) ed in particolare nell'Organon, il suo testo teorico principale, edito nel 1810.

Hahnemann nacque e crebbe a Meissen (Germania). Iniziò a studiare medicina a Lipsia nel 1775, dove rimase per due anni. Dopo un periodo di studio a Vienna ed un'interruzione degli studi, nel 1779 riprese gli studi ad Erlangen, dove si laureò nel corso dello stesso anno.

Come medico, Hahnemann ebbe vita difficile per i seguenti 15 anni, spostandosi di città in città e vivendo ai limiti della povertà, e guadagnando soprattutto come traduttore di testi inglesi. Ciononostante fu in grado di compiere vari esperimenti chimici e di pubblicarne i risultati in vari articoli che ebbero una certa diffusione.

Per meglio comprendere la natura della teoria omeopatica, è necessario considerare in quale ambito storico essa si formò. Nel diciottesimo secolo coesistevano due grandi linee di pensiero sulla natura della medicina: una che cercava le cause generali delle malattie (problemi di eccitabilità per Brown, pletora gastroenterica per Hoffmann, stasi a livello venoso per Stahl, ecc.); l'altra che voleva abbandonare le speculazioni teoriche deduttive per concentrarsi invece sulle osservazioni e le misurazioni dirette dei fenomeni, tramite esperimenti controllati (collegamento tra lesioni e sintomi, teorizzato da Giovan Battista Morgagni e Matthew Baillie).

In Germania entrambe le scuole di pensiero erano presenti, anche se l’influenza del romanticismo e della Naturphilosophie favoriva uno stile di pensiero molto speculativo. Dal punto di vista pratico, la medicina del tempo si basava su una Materia Medica mista, tra empirismo e tradizione, ricca di formulazioni polifarmaceutiche e salassi, con fortissimi dubbi sulla natura delle azioni dei rimedi.

È sullo sfondo di questo dibattito che si pone la teorizzazione di Hahnemann, una risposta a quella che egli vedeva come una mancanza di utilità pratica delle speculazioni teoriche di molti suoi colleghi. Egli volle essere un radicale riformatore della medicina.

Nel 1790, traducendo la Materia Medica di William Cullen, notò i risultati dei test con la cinchona (Cinchona succirubra, fonte del chinino), uno dei pochissimi rimedi allora riconosciuti come efficaci su una malattia specifica (le febbri intermittenti e la malaria).

Non contento della spiegazione di Cullen per questa azione specifica, Hahnemann assunse per varie volte la corteccia della pianta per esperimento, e notò che i sintomi elicitati erano gli stessi delle febbri intermittenti, e si susseguivano nello stesso ordine temporale (mani e piedi freddi, stanchezza e sonnolenza, ansia, tremore, prostrazione, mal di testa pulsante, arrossamento delle guance e sete) ma senza il forte innalzamento della temperatura.

L'anno seguente, dopo molto sperimentare, Hahnemann offrì la sua spiegazione: «la cinchona sopraffà e sopprime le febbri intermittenti principalmente eccitando una febbre di breve durata", e se somministrata "poco prima dei parossismi mitiga la febbre intermittente». Altri farmaci sono in grado di produrre une febbre artificiale, ma non così specifica.

A seguito di questa scoperta Hahnemann dichiarò che solo osservando l'azione dei farmaci sull’organismo è possibile usarli in maniera razionale e che tale metodo è l'unico modo di osservare direttamente le azioni specifiche dei rimedi. Egli esprime questo concetto nel suo testo anticipatorio Essay on a new principle for ascertaining the curative power of drugs, dove si individuano i suoi due primi pilastri teorici, ovvero la legge dei simili (similia similibus curantur) e quella dell'utilizzo di dosi infinitesimali dei rimedi.

La legge dei simili esprime il concetto che per curare una malattia il medico deve utilizzare una medicina che sia in grado di produrre una malattia artificiale ad essa molto simile, che si sostituisce ad essa per poi scomparire. Le dosi da utilizzarsi dovevano essere il minimo indispensabile a produrre una indicazione percettibile dell'azione del rimedio, e nulla più, in modo da minimizzare o annullare gli effetti avversi. Tuttavia è solo qualche anno dopo (1801), nel trattare la scarlattina, che egli iniziò ad usare dosi infinitesimali.

Gli anni dell'Ottocento furono i più fortunati per Hahnemann: la sua pratica a Torgau andava bene, ed è li che pubblicò l'Organon della medicina razionale (1810). Nel 1811 si trasferì a Lipsia, dove insegnò all’università e dove pubblicò la prima edizione della sua Materia Medica, con i risultati dei suoi test. Ma l'Organon non fu solo un testo di medicina, bensì una radicale condanna dei sistemi medici contemporanei, un attacco che egli stesso dichiara essere dello stesso tenore di quello di Martin Lutero alla Chiesa cristiana.

L'attacco è ad entrambi i filoni della teoria medica: secondo Hahnemann i teorici producono solo sofismo innaturale, pure speculazioni con grande mostra di erudizione ma nessun miglioramento nel paziente; ma anche gli scienziati si ingannano se pensano di trovare la causa materiale delle malattie, perché confondono effetti e cambiamenti patologici con cause della malattia. I medici del tempo definiscono la malattia come materia morbosa da eliminare dal sangue e dal corpo tramite flebotomia e purghe, rimedi cioè deplettivi, secondo la teoria del contraria contrariis curantur. Per Hahnemann la causa delle malattie, quando non riconducibile a fattori anatomici o chirurgici né a carenze nutrizionali, sarebbe immateriale, o spirituale e dinamica, e risiederebbe non in cause fisiche esterne al corpo, ma in una perturbazione della "forza vitale" (Lebenskraft). Credere nelle cause materiali delle malattie, secondo Hahnemann, porta ad errori o ad inefficacia terapeutica.

Nell'opera di Hahnemann il concetto di Lebenskraft (già espresso in termini di Entelechia e Dynamis nella filosofia aristotelica) è fondamentale. La forza vitale anima tutti gli esseri viventi e li rende capaci di sentire, di svolgere una funzione, una attività e di sostenersi.

Il concetto di Lebenskraft era tutt'altro che poco diffuso nella pratica medica dell'Europa del XIX secolo. Erano diversi ed illustri i medici che ad esso si riferivano per le loro pratiche farmacologiche, e molti condividevano con Hahnemann la convinzione che la materia morbosa non fosse altro che una conseguenza di cause prime, ma giustificavano l’utilizzo di rimedi deplettivi ed evacuativi perché essi avrebbero imitato ed aiutato il normale agire della forza vitale, della vis medicatrix naturae.

Hahnemann replicò che in questo modo non fa che appoggiare una forza vitale in disequilibrio, peggiorando solo la situazione con rimedi inefficaci, debilitanti e dannosi. La causa ultima del disequilibrio spirituale o dinamico della forza vitale, secondo Hahnemann, non è conoscibile. La malattia si manifesta in una totalità di sintomi e segni mentali e corporei, avvertiti dal paziente, da chi lo circonda e dal suo medico, che sono specifici per ogni individuo; tutto il resto non conta, dato che non è conoscibile. Compito dell'omeopata era di riattivare e riordinare la forza vitale individuale, e questa riattivazione è ottenuta attraverso la somministrazione del rimedio che è stato scelto, attraverso un processo scientifico e sistematico, perché coincide, nella sua azione, con il maggior numero possibile di sintomi e segni (legge dei simili). Questo rimedio viene somministrato in dosi infinitesimali e opportunamente dinamizzate tramite un procedimento detto succussione.

Le critiche che furono mosse dai suoi contemporanei alla teoria omeopatica non si concentrarono molto sulla legge dei simili. Molti medici credevano che essa fosse applicabile, solo non credevano fosse l'unico criterio terapeutico applicabile.

Altri punti della teoria furono più aspramente dibattuti: il vitalismo spinto di Hahnemann, secondo i suoi detrattori, spiegava tutto e niente; il riconoscere come rilevanti solo i sintomi esperiti dal paziente riduceva la malattia ad uno stato puramente soggettivo; la negazione delle cause materiali della malattia andava contro a convinzioni forti sulla natura della malattia; il metodo del proving veniva considerato soggettivo e troppo dipendente dalla dirittura morale delle persone testate; inoltre non teneva abbastanza conto del fatto che persone diverse possono avere reazioni individuali diverse allo stesso rimedio (Hahnemann, in realtà, riconobbe il problema, ma dichiarò che si potevano sempre riconoscere dei sintomi universalizzabili); secondo il metodo del proving tutti i sintomi che appaiono dopo l'ingestione del rimedio sono dovuti al rimedio, e questo porta ad un proliferare dei sintomi.

Nel 1828 Hahnemann pubblicò un tomo in più volumi (Le malattie croniche), nel quale enuncia un ulteriore pilastro teorico dell'omeopatia, che fu presto ridicolizzato dai suoi contemporanei e non ebbe molta fortuna nemmeno tra gli omeopati. Nel testo egli infatti scrive che, eccettuate sifilide e sicosi (un tipo di lesione virale venerea), tutte le malattie croniche sono prodotte dalla psora, e quindi la cura per malattie diverse quali gotta, asma, isteria, paralisi, ecc. era sempre un rimedio anti-psora.

Il concetto di forza vitale, almeno così come esso è espresso nell'Organon di Hahnemann, entrò gradualmente in crisi con il grande progresso che lo studio delle scienze naturali compì in quegli stessi anni. Con l'avvento del microscopio nacque la biologia cellulare e l'osservazione diretta di alcuni fenomeni fondamentali che avvengono all'interno degli esseri viventi facilitò la comprensione di alcune malattie comuni, sebbene fosse ancora lontana la scoperta del batterio, inteso come agente patogeno. Venne compreso il ruolo importante svolto dal sistema circolatorio e l'idea di una forza vitale immateriale, disgiunta dal corpo, perse inevitabilmente e inesorabilmente di importanza.

Il concetto di Lebenskraft però subì una interessante modifica nel corso del ventesimo secolo, quando, soprattutto per opera di alcuni importanti omeopati tedeschi, esso viene completamente riformulato e trasformato nel principio vitale (Lebensprincip).

Il principio vitale venne questa volta posto in relazione con la capacità del corpo di controllare e regolare le sue funzioni; l'omeopatia pertanto curava, nella concezione degli omeopati tedeschi, i disturbi del sistema di regolazione, inteso ad esempio come disturbi del sistema immunitario, del sistema di regolazione della temperatura e del sistema nervoso centrale. La sostanza omeopatica sarebbe stata quindi in grado di correggere questi disturbi e la reazione dei vari sistemi, indotta dalla sostanza, avrebbe costituito la vera risposta farmacologica alla patologia. Ne consegue quindi che per l'omeopatia contemporanea, o comunque quella di tradizione tedesca, non tutte le patologie sono risolubili omeopaticamente, bensì solo quelle che derivano dalla alterazione o dal malfunzionamento dei vari sistemi di regolazione e difesa del corpo.

La tradizione omeopatica successiva (ad esempio con lo statunitense James Tyler Kent) ha dato molto risalto alla dimensione psicologica della malattia.

I rimedi sono elencati nella materia medica, che illustra per ogni sostanza i sintomi corrispondenti. Il repertorio elenca invece per ogni sintomo le sostanze. Per esempio il repertorio di Kent (1905) comprendeva circa 700 sostanze. Oggi l'omeopatia impiega circa 5000 rimedi, di cui 150 usati comunemente. I rimedi vengono sperimentati da persone sane, le quali registrano accuratamente i sintomi fisici e psicologici riconducibili alla loro assunzione. I repertori omeopatici registrano successivamente anche i risultati della pratica clinica, dei quali viene spesso messa in dubbio la genuinità.

Samuel Hahnemann, fondatore dell'omeopatia

Potenza: diluizione e dinamizzazione

La diluizione, concetto fondamentale e sul quale si appuntano le critiche maggiori, viene detta in omeopatia potenza. Le potenze sono in realtà diluizioni 1 a 100 (potenze centesimali o potenze C o anche CH) o diluizioni 1 a 10 (potenze decimali o potenze D o anche DH). In una diluizione C una parte di sostanza viene diluita in 99 parti di diluente e successivamente dinamizzata, ovvero agitata con forza secondo un procedimento chiamato dagli omeopati succussione; in una diluizione D, invece, una parte di sostanza viene diluita in 9 parti di diluente e sottoposta poi alla stessa dinamizzazione.

Ogni sostanza omeopatica pronta per l'impiego riporta il tipo di diluizione e la potenza. Ad esempio, in un rimedio con potenza 12C la sostanza originaria è stata diluita per dodici volte, ogni volta 1 a 100, per un totale di una parte su 10012 (=1024).

Una potenza 12D, utilizzata abbastanza comunemente in omeopatia, equivale invece ad una soluzione nella quale la concentrazione è una parte su un milione di milioni (1012), che equivale ad esempio ad un millimetro cubo su mille metri cubi.

Numerosi preparati omeopatici sono diluiti a potenze ancora maggiori, in qualche caso sino a 30C ed oltre.

Nella pratica omeopatica le potenze C e D non sono considerate equivalenti, ovvero 1C non è ritenuto equivalente a 2D dal punto di vista terapeutico, sebbene lo sia dal punto di vista della chimica delle soluzioni.

Le critiche maggiori all'omeopatia vertono sul fatto che a potenze elevate, e in particolare a partire proprio da 12C o da 24D, le leggi della chimica provano che il prodotto finale è così diluito, da non contenere più neppure una molecola della sostanza di partenza. Infatti il numero di molecole contenuto in una mole di sostanza è fissato dal numero di Avogadro, che è uguale a circa 1024 molecole/mole (6,02214179(30) 1023 mol −1): quindi, mediante una diluizione 12C o una 24D della stessa mole di sostanza, si raggiungerebbero livelli di concentrazione che prevederebbero mediamente, al più, una sola molecola del farmaco. L'eventuale effetto terapeutico del rimedio omeopatico, pertanto, non sarebbe legato alla presenza fisica del farmaco, ma a qualcos'altro, che gli stessi sostenitori dell'omeopatia non caratterizzano.

A fronte di questi dati, gli omeopati credono nella cosiddetta memoria dell'acqua. Secondo tale tesi, le molecole per un determinato periodo di tempo, anche dopo numerose trasformazioni e a grande distanza dal luogo di origine, conserverebbero una geometria molecolare derivata dagli elementi chimici con cui sono venute a contatto. Secondo i sostenitori di questa teoria, una possibile spiegazione è nella coerenza interna dei campi elettromagnetici, prevista dalla QED.[2][3] La soluzione diluita, secondo questi autori, conserverebbe l'informazione del principio attivo e gli stessi effetti terapeutici di una dose maggiore. Senza l'effetto memoria dell'acqua, le concentrazioni di principio attivo in queste soluzioni acquose sarebbero così basse, da essere prive di effetti terapeutici.[4] Non esiste tuttavia, almeno finora, alcune prova scientifica della presunta "memoria dell'acqua".

Ricerca clinica sull'omeopatia
Il primo articolo di taglio scientifico sui meccanismi di funzionamento dell'omeopatia è stato quello pubblicato nel 1988 sulla prestigiosa rivista Nature, a firma del medico ed immunologo francese Jacques Benveniste. Nell'unico caso della prestigiosa rivista, l'articolo, che riguardava la memoria dell'acqua, fu accettato senza revisioni, ma con riserva da parte dell'editore. Lo studio si rivelò in seguito una truffa.

Alcuni studi, pubblicati per lo più su riviste prive di un meccanismo di revisione paritaria, avrebbero rilevato fenomeni particolari per quanto riguarda la calorimetria, la termodinamica e la conducibilità elettrica delle soluzioni altamente diluite; tuttavia nessuno di essi ha a che fare con il principio alla base dell'omeopatia.

Secondo gli omeopati, questi lavori dimostrerebbero che il trattamento, cui il composto omeopatico viene sottoposto, consente al solvente di esercitare un effetto riconducibile alla molecola che in esso è stata fortemente diluita. Risultati di questo genere sono stati però pubblicati solo su fonti interne alla comunità omeopata, e non su riviste scientifiche.

Mancanza di efficacia terapeutica dell'omeopatia

Allo stato attuale, nessuno studio scientifico, pubblicato su riviste di valore riconosciuto, ha potuto dimostrare che l'omeopatia presenti una seppur minima efficacia per una qualsiasi malattia. Gli unici risultati statisticamente significativi sono confrontabili con quelli derivanti dall'effetto placebo, indotto anche dalla particolare attenzione che l'omeopata presta al paziente e alla sua esperienza soggettiva della malattia, e quindi non dal farmaco assunto dal paziente. Nonostante ciò, l'omeopatia si è ampiamente diffusa in Italia e in altri paesi a partire dagli anni '90.

Studi che hanno provato a quantificare il grado di soddisfazione soggettiva dei pazienti in cura omeopatica hanno mostrato risultati ragguardevoli (ad esempio una ricerca compiuta nel 2004 dalla clinica universitaria Charité di Berlino sulla qualità della vita di 3981 pazienti in cura omeopatica) e spiegano il successo sociale di tale pratica terapeutica.
Assai meno univoco è il risultato di studi clinici condotti su singoli rimedi o sul trattamento di specifiche patologie, dove gli esiti appaiono assolutamente in linea col noto effetto placebo.

A febbraio 2010 sono stati rilasciati i risultati di una ricerca sulle prove di efficacia dell'omeopatia, condotta nel 2009 e 2010 dalla commissione Science and Technology della Camera dei Comuni britannica: lo studio conclude che l'omeopatia non ha effetti superiori a quelli di un placebo. La commissione la considera pertanto un "trattamento placebo" (placebo treatment) e dichiara che sarebbe una "cattiva pratica medica" (bad medicine) prescrivere placebo puri.[5]

L'articolo della rivista medica Lancet

Una meta analisi pubblicata nell'agosto del 2005 dalla rinomata rivista medico scientifica The Lancet[6] ha avuto molto risalto sulla stampa, in quanto screditava l'omeopatia come metodo curativo scientifico, sostenendo che l'efficacia era spiegabile con l'effetto placebo.

Nel dettaglio, l'articolo del Lancet si struttura in due parti, che portano a conclusioni distinte tra loro.

Nella prima parte, la meta analisi compara 220 studi clinici (110 omeopatici e 110 presi casualmente tra studi con interventi biomedici), e porta alla conclusione che i due gruppi di studi siano di qualità metodologica paragonabile, e che entrambe le classi di trattamento mostrano efficacia superiore al placebo.
Nella seconda parte i ricercatori hanno ristretto la loro meta analisi a 6 studi omeopatici e 8 studi biomedici, selezionati tra tutti secondo degli standard di qualità e di numerosità di partecipanti. Questo filtro, affermano gli autori, è stato compiuto per limitare la presenza di bias negli studi presi in considerazione. I risultati della seconda parte della meta analisi mostrano che esiste una forte evidenza di efficacia dei metodi classici, ed una evidenza di efficacia più debole per i farmaci omeopatici. Inoltre, quest'ultima evidenza non raggiunge un valore statistico critico (significatività) necessario per poter dire con sicurezza che il risultato non è dovuto semplicemente a variazioni statistiche.

Gli autori concludono che l'efficacia dei rimedi omeopatici è compatibile con l'ipotesi che derivino dall'effetto placebo.[7]

Il 17 novembre del 2007 The Lancet ha pubblicato un nuovo articolo sull'omeopatia, che riassume i risultati di 5 meta-analisi precedentemente pubblicate. In questo articolo l'autore giunge alla conclusione che gli effetti dell'omeopatia siano paragonabili all'effetto placebo.[8][9]

Diffusione nel mondo

L'omeopatia ha conosciuto nei decenni scorsi uno sviluppo e una progressiva diffusione. Oggi l'omeopatia, considerata una pratica medica alternativa o complementare alla medicina scientifica (alla quale gli omeopati si riferiscono spesso come "medicina allopatica", sebbene i principi dell'allopatia siano essi stessi non riconosciuti dalla scienza), è diffusa in molti paesi (Stati Uniti, Gran Bretagna, Francia, Germania, India).

In diverse regioni della Gran Bretagna il servizio sanitario ha tuttavia iniziato a cancellare i rimedi omeopatici dal proprio prontuario. In calo anche i ricoveri negli ospedali omeopatici.[10]

A fronte della sua diffusione e nonostante i numerosi studi, la validità terapeutica del metodo omeopatico e i meccanismi farmacologici del suo funzionamento non sono stati verificati secondo i criteri scientifici comunemente applicati a qualsiasi principio farmacologico tradizionale. Molte ricerche cliniche concordano nel ritenere che gli effetti terapeutici dei trattamenti omeopatici non si discostino in maniera significativa da quelli ottenuti per effetto placebo.

Le critiche all'omeopatia vertono sostanzialmente su due punti: la sua debolezza teorica (cioè l'incompatibilità dei suoi postulati con le odierne conoscenze chimiche e la mancanza di un meccanismo plausibile che ne possa spiegare il funzionamento), e la mancanza di prove sperimentali univoche della sua efficacia terapeutica. Per questi motivi l'omeopatia viene considerata una pseudoscienza.

Il suo insegnamento è collocato, nella maggior parte dei paesi occidentali, al di fuori degli ordinamenti delle facoltà di medicina.

In Francia, nonostante la validità del metodo non sia stata verificata, molti rimedi omeopatici sono entrati a far parte del prontuario nazionale e finanziati dal sistema sanitario pubblico. Tuttavia, nel 2004 si è potuta osservare una - pur parziale - retromarcia, in quanto il tasso di rimborso previsto per i rimedi omeopatici è sceso dal 65% al 35%.[11]

Diffusione in Italia

Riguardo all'uso di terapie alternative l'Istat ha svolto, dal 1991 al 2005, quattro indagini statistiche, su un campione di 30.000 famiglie, evidenziando come recentemente la percentuale di italiani che ne hanno fatto uso sia diminuita passando dall'8,2% al 7%. Inoltre, al 2005 il Trentino Alto Adige, con il 18,3%, si attesta come la regione con la maggior percentuale di persone che abbiano fatto uso di cure omeopatiche.[12]

Anni[12] 1991 1994 2000 2005
Italiani che ne hanno fatto uso almeno una volta
nei 3 anni precedenti le rispettive indagini 2,5% 4,7% 8,2% 7%

In Italia la immissione in commercio di un prodotto omeopatico è regolata dal Decreto Legislativo n. 185/95 del 17 marzo 1995.[13] All'articolo 3 della legge inoltre si fa divieto di pubblicizzare i prodotti omeopatici.[13]

Sviluppi recenti

In Gran Bretagna, nel 2010, per iniziativa della Merseyside Skeptics Society[14] (organizzazione senza scopo di lucro che ha per scopo la promozione dello scetticismo scientifico) è nata una campagna di sensibilizzazione e di pressione nei confronti della Boots, la più nota catena di farmacie del Regno Unito, in seguito alla decisione di quest'ultima di distribuire anche prodotti omeopatici. Il motto della campagna è "Homeopathy: There's nothing in it" ("Omeopatia: non c'è niente dentro"), come si può leggere sul sito dedicatole,[15] e l'iniziativa ha già prodotto una dimostrazione pubblica, durante la quale centinaia di volontari hanno letteralmente ingurgitato interi flaconi di prodotti omeopatici, senza riscontrare alcun effetto positivo o negativo.[16]
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