Homeopathy & The 1023 Campaign Against It

Brauer’s Homeopathic Product

Last year, on Sunday February 6th, 2011, skeptically-minded Sydney-siders participatinged in the 10:23 Challenge.

The lead up to the event was a massive success, far surpassing the intended reach of 1,023 protesters in 10 countries with 23 cities participating. Sydney was one of the 68 cities, from the 28 countries that participated.

That’s every continent on Earth, including Antarctica – where protesters will effectively ‘overdose ‘on homeopathic remedies.

The 2011 event was a follow-up to the ‘overdose’ protest staged by the 10:23 Campaign in 2010, and is was about bringing an international touch to the worldwide practice touted as an “Alternative Medicine”.

In 2012, the “campaign” was understated and is working at the grass-roots level to bring about awareness, and policy changes – with some very exciting action being taken by a number of people nation-wide in Australia!

While many believe homeopathy is to be a “herbal” medicine or an “all-natural” alternative, it is neither.

“Homeopathy is an unscientific and absurd pseudoscience, which persists today as an accepted form of complementary medicine, despite there never having been any reliable scientific evidence that it works.” – 10:23 Campaign Website

In a Nutshell, Homeopathy is the practice of diluting an active ingredient (that may cause similar symptoms to that being experienced in larger doses) in water (which Homeopaths call potentisation), vigorously shaking it via ten hard strikes against an elastic body (succussion), and repeating the process.

The more dilute, the more powerful the remedy. When this is completed to the desired dilution (Usually 30), the final liquid is dropped in to sugar balls, or infused in the sugar pills.

The Gritty Technical Stuff

Homeopathic 30C Preparation

Dilution is based on a factor 1 part per 100. A 2C dilution would require taking an active ingredient, diluting it in 99 parts of alcohol or distilled water, and then some of that diluted solution diluted by a further factor of one hundred.

2C is equal to 1 part per 10,000.
6c is equal to 1 part per 1,000,000,000,000

You can see how by 30C, someone taking this dilution would need to consume 1041 pills (a billion times the mass of the Earth) to consume a SINGLE MOLECULE of the original active ingredient.

That’s 1/100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 pills!

At 12C you pass what is known as the Avogadro Limit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avogadro_constant). This is the point at which there is likely nothing of your original substance left; and this is where Homeopathy gets even more interesting!

Water has (no) Memory!

Hahnemann, the inventor of Homeopathy, realised that there is virtually no chance that even one molecule of an active ingredient, or of the original substance as it may be, would remain after the extreme dilutions used in Homeopathy – But, he *did* believe that the vigorous shaking after each dilution would imprint the water with a “spirit-like” essence—”no longer perceptible to the senses” – Or perceptible to science to that matter.

Obviously, this is an absurd, unsubstantiated claim. Often, Homeopaths will call in a scientific word to make it *sound* credible, and usually this word is “QUANTUM!”

The problem with this isn’t that they aren’t specialists within the field of Quantum Physics, the problem isn’t even with Homeopaths invoking “quantum” as an explanation of how it works, or what when they do, they include speculations which are incorrect about quantum concept and in its application. The problem for them is simple; Homeopathy still doesn’t work.

The Overall Evidence

Overall, the collective weight of scientific evidence has found homeopathy to be no more effective than a placebo. While some Homeopaths claim that because they work as well AS a Placebo, that they are valid as a medical treatment. This is a logical fallacy. A Placebo is *not* efficacious in the treatment of a disease, rather, placebos work best when treating subjective SYMPTOMS such as headaches, and other pains – it does *not* address the cause of the symptoms.

This extends far beyond the cure claims made by many Homeopaths, that their sugar-pills can cure cancer, be used as an anti-malarial, a vaccine replacement, or cure other serious health problems over treated by proven efficacious methods.

Some Homeopaths claim they work in the same way as a Vaccine, this isn’t a valid comparison. Firstly, Vaccines are used as a preventative, and severity mitigation measure, not as a cure. Their ingredients are measurable, the results of use within the body is observable and quantifiable, as is their efficacy; These findings are significant in contrast to a placebo, and in contrast to Homeopathy.

While there are a few Homeopaths that say their treatments should not be taken for those serious instances; the question is: Why not? This may seem like a catch-22 for Homeopaths,- And it should, it is. If you were selling an efficacious treatment it would work superior to a placebo; if it doesn’t, it shouldn’t be used. It really is that simple. While “Big Pharma” gets slammed a lot by “Alternative Medicine” proponents; its standard practice for them to develop medicinal products for years before it can even be tested, and even then it takes time till those products hit the shelves – Unlike Homeopathy.

Often there is the claim of “Oh, but so many people use them [ergo, they work]!” Again, logical fallacy. The number of people of using a system of treatment is not evidence of an efficacious treatment. Evidence of Efficacy proves Efficacy.

Personally, I suspect those that don’t make the wild claims are aware that their products are not as efficacious as they claim them to be, and are more concerned about legal retribution while still wanting to enjoy the self-gratification of playing doctor by selling sugar-pills to the ill, than walking away from a proven sham and taking up another method of income.

Could you buy Homeopathic Vodka without feeling a little ripped off?

4 Comments

  1. Your claim that the “collective weight of evidence show homeopathy no more effective than placebo” is not a fact – it’s a convenient untruth to support your unscientific opinion.

    1) How healthy are chronically ill patients after eight years of homeopathic treatment? – Results from a long term observational study

    Click to access 8-year-homeopathy-study.pdf

    2) The in vitro evidence for an effect of high homeopathic potencies

    Click to access in-vitro-evidence-high-potency.pdf


    Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17544864

    3) Homeopathic medical practice: Long-term results of a cohort study with 3981 patients

    Click to access homeopathic-medical-practice.pdf

    About a hundred more listed here. http://www.nationalcenterforhomeopathy.org/content/homeopathy-research-evidence-base-references

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    1. Hi,

      Sorry to disappoint you, but it is fact. The collective weight of evidence does in fact demonstrate that homeopathic remedies are no more effective than placebos.

      There are a number of “Homeopathic Camps”; one camp contains those that are those that claim that they work because placebo’s “work” (This may be a misunderstanding about what placebos are, their use, and their efficacy as an objective treatment); and there are those that claim homeopathic treatments are factually efficacious in the treatment of a number of ailments. This is generally the result of failing to understand the difference between correlation and causation, a good dose of confirmation bias, and from accepting personal anecdotes as credible evidence.

      Let’s go over the studies you have provided; which I will for this purpose assume is your best evidence, as its what you’ve specifically brought to my attention.

      1) Cohort Studies are (as specified in the document), and as you titled the study, an *observational* study. They are used to analyse risk factors for a particular group of people who do not have a/or the disease specifically being tracked, and from this uses correlations to determine how much risk a subject may have of contracting a disease.

      Because cohort studies are based on HEALTHY people, it is fallacious to assume that any ordinary good health experienced is due to a homeopathic preparation. Much of the time we are healthy – we only occasionally fall ill, but this study only tracked 2 specific ailments, rhinitis and headaches. In addition, their methodology only tracked two main outcomes: self-reported complaint severity, and self-reported quality of life. Keywords: Self-Reported. Key because these are vulnerable to confirmation bias.

      If you did in fact read them, then I must say you’ve been cherry picking your evidence and have picked poorly.
      This appears on page 7 of the study in relation to positive findings:

      “This may be partly explained by placebo and/or regression to the mean effects that our study was not designed to control. We thus cannot rule out overestimation of the treatment effect.”

      The factors themselves are HIGHLY susceptible to confirmation bias and the effects of a placebo. That, and it is written from a bias perspective. Note language used.

      This cohort study does NOT constitute efficacy of Homeopathy – just that the patient “feels” better, not that the patient is *treated* – It doesn’t even mean that they feel better BECAUSE of the homeopathic remedy.

      Additionally, this cohort study was not compared to a cross-sectional study, as should be done – Even if it is in comparison to the general population from which the group was drawn from; even better would be to compare it to a cohort study where those persons have had NO exposure to the substance(s) being investigated, in this instance, homeopathic remedies.

      Randomised, controlled trials are a superior methodology in the hierarchy of evidence in therapy, because they limit the potential for any biases by randomly assigning one patient pool to an intervention and another patient pool to non-intervention (or placebo).

      2) Having actually looked at your second study previously today, I will cite only from their conclusion:

      A surprisingly high number of different experimental approaches have been adopted. Two thirds of the experiments with higher scores and contaminant-checking controls demonstrated specific high potency effects. Some of them have also been successfully replicated, but no positive result could be reproduced in all attempts.

      This means:
      a. There was no standardisation of experiments.
      b. While there were contaminant-checking controls in a portion of the studies used, most were not replicated, indicating a failure to properly control for bias, or even failure in contamination-controls.

      It should be noted that there were many instances of studies being included that were from the same people replicating the same experiment.

      3) Again, Cohort Studies are not strong indicators of efficacy of Homeopathy. They are actually quite poor.

      So, as I said. I will assume that was the best you had. If you believe you have STRONG evidence of the efficacy of Homeopathy, I suggest you apply to take on the JREF’s $1,000,000 challenge. It’s quite simple. Prove your homeopathic remedy is efficacious.

      Thanks for commenting on my Blog. 🙂

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      1. I’m willing to bet N.C. doesn’t read your post with an open consideration that homeopathy is possibly the worst snake oil scam in the world.

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  2. NC, when your ‘evidence’ comes from an organization that endorses the very humbug under discussion, it is not evidence. By your logic, I can then say that Superman really exists, because I read about him in a comic book.

    If homeopathy works, it would have been proven so by objective, third-party testing and standing to the rigors of actual science. The problem, for you, is that it doesn’t.

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