×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

NHS Should Stop Funding Homeopathy, Says Parliamentary Committee

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the how-am-I-going-to-align-my-chakras-now dept.

Medicine 507

An anonymous reader writes "Homeopathic remedies work no better than placebos, and so should no longer be paid for by the UK National Health Service, a committee of British members of parliament has concluded. In preparing its report, the committee, which scrutinizes the evidence behind government policies, took evidence from scientists and homeopaths, and reviewed numerous reports and scientific investigations into homeopathy. It found no evidence that such treatments work beyond providing a placebo effect." Updated 201025 19:40 GMT by timothy: This recommendation has some people up in arms.

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

507 comments

Heomeopathy = Placebo (4, Informative)

siloko (1133863) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248096)

Heomeopathy = Placebo so no surprise there . . .

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (-1, Troll)

flyneye (84093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248172)

Unless, of course, you count the vast array of herbs used through the ages that pharmaceuticals are now based on.

      Take a smart pill.

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (0)

Ltap (1572175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248206)

99% of homeopathy is simply people using random herbs that are ineffective, or are far less effective than real medication, is more expensive, and is less convenient to take (I know, I didn''t think anyone would rip people off worse than Big Pharma, but...)

It is also far more likely that people will use dangerous herbs whose effects could make someone's condition worse. Besides the scientific and economic evidence against it, there is psychological evidence - it gives people false hope.

Eh... no. (3, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248440)

99% of homeopathy is simply people using random herbs that are ineffective

99.999% of homeopathy is either water or sugar.

 

Re:Eh... no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31248590)

In india they put a bit of hashish in it. So it's money well spent.

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (5, Informative)

Sir Lollerskates (1446145) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248538)

This is wrong. An important distinction needs to be made: **HOMEOPATHY IS NOT HERBAL MEDICINE**. It's just water and sugar. It may have started out as some kind of herb or metal or whatever, but it's diluted past avogadro's number, making it just water. More information here: http://www.1023.org.uk/ [1023.org.uk]

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (-1, Flamebait)

flyneye (84093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248570)

Yes, advancement of homeopathy over the ages has watered it down to protect the ignorant from themselves. Perhaps it would be best if we lived more naturally in a Darwinian state where the unfit would dispose of themselves. But that is beside the point that homeopathy hasn't been allowed to come into its own because any herb that could be useful is overregulated by nanny governments.
      So U.K. government officials can only blame themselves for the placebo effect...morons.

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (3, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248906)

Bullshit! You have no idea what homeopathy is. Homeopathic preparations are NOT diluted due to legal issues, dilution is the whole. god. damn. point. it is what supposedly makes an ingredient alleviate the symptoms it causes if not diluted. There is no change or advancement in this fundamental, central, FOUNDING PRINCIPLE of homeopathy over the 'ages.' You are spouting absolute, uninformed CRAP, trying to put homeopathy in the same boat as herbalism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeopathy [wikipedia.org]

Educate yourself before you make a fool of yours... oops, too late.

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (2, Insightful)

Locutus (9039) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248658)

that industry pretty much exists due to hope and faith and not much more. Add a little bit of proof that some herbs, etc have beneficial qualities and viola, you have way to sucker people into paying big bucks for nothing but the hope it'll work and they'll be better off.

If nothing else works though, that hope does help them mentally so is that really that bad?

I feel the problem is when this stuff is pushed as _the_ cure instead of using scientifically proven methods. That is when the real damage is done and that is where most of the market for this stuff exists. It's probably impossible to have it both ways. Good to see Britain is smartening up to this.

LoB

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (5, Informative)

grub (11606) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248210)


Unless, of course, you count the vast array of herbs used through the ages that pharmaceuticals are now based on

Two different things. Modern pharmaceuticals use refined extracts or man-made replacements. Homeopathy is water with nothing of value added other than hope.

.

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (-1, Offtopic)

flyneye (84093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248618)

Yes MODERN,LEGAL, homeopathy is watered down horseshit. The politicians decrying it are to blame for its condition.

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (3, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248806)

It has nothing to do with politicians and everything to do with the fact that homeopathy is "watered down horseshit" by definition - the more watered down, the better. If it were merely diluted from full strength, then you could formulate a theory of action that was consistent with modern knowledge of chemistry. However, when it's diluted so that the odds of finding a single molecule of the "active ingredient" are 10^80-to-1 against, there's no point even investigating further. If homeopathy worked, it would invalidated all modern physics and chemistry. Since you and I are still alive and able to have this conversation over a network of computers, it can't work.

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (5, Informative)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248220)

Herbal medicine (a.k.a. naturopathy ) is BY NO MEANS the same thing as homeopathy. You should really educate yourself before you start correcting people.

-Peter

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (-1, Flamebait)

flyneye (84093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248730)

Yes, I'm sure someone made up a word to differentiate for the sake of modern medicine. Homeopathy wasn't called homeopathy before modern medicine. It was called medicine wasn't it? Now to differentiate between home placebo and early medicine we call early medicine naturopathy, placebo homeopathy and medicine - pharmaceutical kickback scam.
        Your education is tuition free.

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (2, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248734)

Herbal medicine (a.k.a. naturopathy ) is BY NO MEANS the same thing as homeopathy. You should really educate yourself before you start correcting people.

Herbal medicine is by no means same thing as naturopathy.

True naturopathic treatment involves NO medication, of herbal or industrial sources. Naturopathy is a system involving the use of light, heat, exercise, massage, nutrition, air, acupuncture, etc., that focuses on disease prevention but also is used to treat some disease. Some people who practice naturopathy also recommend herbal medicines, but this is counter to what naturopathy is really all about.

That said, you're absolutely correct about naturopathy, or even herbal medicine, being completely different from homeopathy.

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248804)

Totally fair. I think it's also fair to say that herbal medicine is a subset or aspect of naturopathy.

Thanks for the clarification!

-Peter

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248886)

I have seen substances (I hesitate to call them remedies) labeled as homeopathic when they clearly are not. I suspect many may be homeopathic water which is then mixed in with other stuff such as creams, lozenges, etc. Some of the general public seems to think "homeopathic" just means "made with all natural ingredients".

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31248222)

I don't think you know what homeopathy is.........

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248238)

What's that got to do with homeopathy? Herbs have specific purposes that can be tested, confirmed and used. The fact that some homeopathic `remedies` are based on herbs demonstrates nothing.

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (2, Insightful)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248242)

I don't think any contemporary pharmaceuticals are "based on" dilution to the point of nonexistence.

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248900)

I don't think any contemporary pharmaceuticals are "based on" dilution to the point of nonexistence.

Placebos are - and they have proven more effective in some cases than "real" medicine. That's why they're used in tests. If the medicine statistically is no better than a placebo - dump it. If it's WORSE, circle the lawyers.

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (3, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248282)

In homeopathic remedies, the mixture has been diluted so much, there isn't likely to be a single molecule of the active ingredient in most preparations. Well established herbal traditions, from traditional Chinese Medicine to Ayuervedic to American Herbalism, all have herbal preparations with large amounts of the active ingredients. Some preparations from these traditions have been shown to be very effective. Homeopathy has been shown, over and over again, to be nothing but placebo. Just because it's 'herbal' and 'all natural' doesn't mean it 'works.'

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (-1, Troll)

flyneye (84093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248470)

Tell that to South American and African cultures still practicing this successfully after ages.
I'm sure they'll be glad to know their cures haven't cured anyone.
      It seems to me,most homeopathy practiced in "advanced cultures "is, as you say , watered down to protect ignorant laymen. A good example of homeopathic remedy to treat nausea and depressed appetite in chemotherapy patients and for relaxing optic muscles of glaucoma sufferers is good old fashioned marijuana. Independent studies (lol),have shown it to be beneficial for much more.
      Put that in your pipe and smoke it, so to say.

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (4, Informative)

Doctor Faustus (127273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248636)

A good example of homeopathic remedy... is good old fashioned marijuana.
No, that's not an example at all. Herbal medicine actually has ingredients, some of which will have real effects.

Homeopathy is based on the idea that if you dilute a substance by millions or billions of times, it retains a memory of what used to be in it (no one has really suggested a mechanism for that), and that somehow cures things.

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (1)

microbox (704317) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248690)

Smoking weed is not homeopathy. That would be something more along the lines of traditional medicine or herbal medicine. Homeopathy is different. Look it up.

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (1)

edraven (45764) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248716)

Seriously, read up on homeopathy. It's not herbal medicine. Really. Actually read. I'm serious.

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (2, Informative)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248724)

You still have no idea what homeopathy is.

Smoking pot, while it may be effective and enjoyable, is NOT homeopathic. South American and African cultures have not been practicing homeopathy for ages, since it was invented in 1796 by a German quack.

By definition, homeopathic remedies give you more of what is alleged to be the cause of the disease. (Thus the "homeo" and "pathic" parts of the name.) So if you suffered from lead poisoning, you might get a solution of lead. Except that instead of any detectable amount of lead, it's been diluted down 10:1 so many times that there's probably not a single atom of lead in the entire dose.

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (4, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248788)

One more time: homeopathy is not herbalism! NO traditional herbal medicines from ANY culture in the world use homeopathic principles.

And, FYI, I DO put that in my pipe and smoke it, because there are ACTUAL MEASURABLE ACTIVE INGREDIENTS in it.

I can only conclude you have no idea what the principles of homeopathy actually are. It is basically thus: you take something that CAUSES a symptom (not cures it!) and you dilute it down until it is pure water, and that pure water will then do the exact opposite of what the ingredient did.

Homeopathic pot, for instance, would be touted as a cure for laziness and lack of motivation.

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248844)

A good example of homeopathic remedy to treat nausea and depressed appetite in chemotherapy patients and for relaxing optic muscles of glaucoma sufferers is good old fashioned marijuana.

That's not homeopathy [wikipedia.org].

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248850)

That's not homeopathy. That's herbal medicine.

Homeopathy is, quite literally, the treatment of disease via the "like cures like" theory. Practitioners of homeopathy find a substance that causes the same symptoms the patient is suffering from. Then they greatly dilute that substance and administer it to the patient. The theory is that this will prime the immune system and cause the patient to be able to fight off the disease on their own.

Note that the dilution is done to such a great extent that it is likely that the medicine actually has NO molecules of the substance that's supposed to help cure the patient -- good thing too, since those substances are harmful (since they cause disease symptoms -- it's a tautology).

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248502)

Just to be clear, you are saying:

Herbalism=Plants with drugs in them.
Homeopathy=Water that had drugs in it, but now contains fewer active molecules than it has Carl Sagan molecules.

Can't see how anyone could confuse that.

Not all are effective. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31248372)

Unless, of course, you count the vast array of herbs used through the ages that pharmaceuticals are now based on.

For every herb that has real efficacy, there are hundreds that don't.

That's how the herbal or "natural" treatments or whatever you want to call them rip people off: they highlight the one herb that actually works, and then people just think that all work.

I understand that some actually do work. There' some intriguing evidence for some of them, like Omega-3 fatty acids and some potential for Kudzu extract for substance abuse. But the thing is, walk into any "health food" store to buy supplements (they're the only stores that sell multi-vitamins where you can get 'B' vitamins in equal doses) and the rows are broken down no by compounds, but by "ailments" and "conditions". For example: "sleep","back pain", "energy", etc.... and the things in those isles are just vitamins with herbs of questionable efficiency.

And some of the prices! I looked at St. John's Wort for depression and the price for them rivaled your typical pharmaceutical that's still under patent!

AND with herbs, there's no control for their manufacture. So one brand could be shit while another could actually be pretty good.

I wish the FDA or some other organization did real studies on these things to see what herbs are really effective and which ones are crap.

There's a difference (5, Informative)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248524)

Unless, of course, you count the vast array of herbs used through the ages that pharmaceuticals are now based on.

Except that

1. it took some actual evidence-medicine to separate the few that work from the thousands that don't work. There's a name for traditional medicine that actually worked: medicine. The whole alternative gang is the ones that don't.

2. That's irrelevant anyway, because that's not what homeopathy means. Homeopathy can be summarized like this:

A) You notice what herb or substance produces what symptoms. E.g., caffeine produces insomnia.

B) Like cures like. When someone comes to you complaining about insomnia, you give them something that causes insomnia. E.g., caffeine.

No, it's sadly not a joke. The ingredient in most real homeopathic sleeping pills is caffeine.

C) Except you don't really. You dillute it to the point where there's hardly even a mollecule of the original substance left. The dilutions used in homeopathy are all powers of 10. It goes like this:

1X = 1 part active substance in 10 parts water. But this is too concentrated. You don't give them this one.
2X = 1 part 1X solution in 10 parts water, i.e., 1% active substance. Ditto.
3X = 1 part 2X solution in 10 parts water, i.e., 0.1% active substance. Ditto.
4X = 1 part 3X solution in 10 parts water, i.e., 0.01% active substance. Waay to concentrated still, you only use this one to make...
5X = 1 part 4X solution in 10 parts water, i.e., 0.001% active substance. Still too concentrated.

Actual homeopathic remedies start can be anywhere between 10X and 100X. But there's the small problem of Avogadro's number. A 100X solution, you'd have to drink whole swimming pools of it, before an actual mollecule of caffeine actually entered your system to cure your insomnia.

D) But that's supposedly OK, because water somehow has "memory" and cures every symptom like a substance it ever encountered. (So I guess since a lot of water is more or less recycled, and so many people wank in the shower, tap water should be a bulletproof contraceptive.)

The whole thing is stupid on several levels. Not just the "like cures like" or "water memory" stupidity, but starting on the very fact that it focuses on "what causes the same _symptoms_?" instead of the actual pathogen or mechanism involved. If you went to a homeopath with a pain in the throat, he/she wouldn't look at whether you have a pharingitis or a thyroid cancer, but simply at what else causes a pain in the throat. And give you a dilluted version of that. But curing RL illnesses doesn't work that way. Imitating the symptoms doesn't cure a cancer, nor kill MRSA. It's what you get from a brand of "medicine" which appeared before microscopes and is based on little more than ignorance and wild guesses, and inability to distinguish between symptoms and cause of a disease.

Re:There's a difference (1)

brusk (135896) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248738)

There's a name for traditional medicine that actually worked: medicine. The whole alternative gang is the ones that don't.

You're assuming, quite mistakenly, that those that haven't been tested don't work. Many, many herbal remedies have simply never been tested by modern, double-blind methods, so we just don't know how effective they are (and even synthetic pharmaceuticals are very hard to really assess, as the frequent recalls and modified FDA recommendations attest).

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31248550)

"Herbal medicine had been around for thousands of years." Indeed it has! And then we tested it all and the stuff that worked became "medicine" - and the rest of it is just a nice bowl of soup and some potpourri, so know yourself out.

~Dara O'Briain

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (5, Informative)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248640)

Dara O'Briain said it best.

We tested all those vast arrays of herbs and treatments and the ones that worked we called "medicine". The ones that didn't we called "placebos".

Even better, Ben Goldacre in Bad Science talks about the dilution factor of homeopathic remedies, which are diluted so much that a sphere of water with a diameter equal to the distance between the Earth and the Sun would contain about 11 molecules of the original material, with the rest being water. Any benefit conferred by these diluted solutions, which are literally just water, are purely down to the placebo effect.

I can't remember the exact passage, and my copy of the book is on my bookshelf downstairs, but I'm sure it's online somewhere. Ah here we go, google to the rescue - from here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/nov/16/sciencenews.g2 [guardian.co.uk]

Many people confuse homeopathy with herbalism and do not realise just how far homeopathic remedies are diluted. The typical dilution is called "30C": this means that the original substance has been diluted by 1 drop in 100, 30 times. On the Society of Homeopaths site, in their "What is homeopathy?" section, they say that "30C contains less than 1 part per million of the original substance."

This is an understatement: a 30C homeopathic preparation is a dilution of 1 in 10030, or rather 1 in 1060, which means a 1 followed by 60 zeroes, or - let's be absolutely clear - a dilution of 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000.

To phrase that in the Society of Homeopaths' terms, we should say: "30C contains less than one part per million million million million million million million million million million of the original substance."

At a homeopathic dilution of 100C, which they sell routinely, and which homeopaths claim is even more powerful than 30C, the treating substance is diluted by more than the total number of atoms in the universe. Homeopathy was invented before we knew what atoms were, or how many there are, or how big they are. It has not changed its belief system in light of this information.

Homeopathic remedies are *literally* water - they have *no* medical benefit whatsoever apart from as placebos. (and placebos can be pretty powerful - but there is no magic - you could replace all those remedies with tap water and say it was a treatment and the effect would be the same).

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (5, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248420)

They should continue funding homeopathy. Just dilute the funding until there's less than a fraction of a penny per bill. According to homeopathy, this should be even better than receiving the full amount.

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248452)

Which is why I'm in two minds about this. Placebos are effective in a number of cases, and belief in the effectiveness of the placebo has been shown to increase this. If giving people a glass of water and telling them that it's magic pixie juice boosts their immune system and avoids the need to give them antibiotics, why not do that?

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (4, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248554)

Idunno. Perhaps because it's deceptive, and profiting off lies is generally considered unethical, and funding people who profit off lies with taxpayer money is usually pretty unpopular (especially during a budget crunch), and stuff like that? For starters.

Re:Heomeopathy = Placebo (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248868)

Well, if the condition is serious enough to require any treatment, couldn't you give them a drug that treats only some of the symptoms and allow for a more global placebo effect? Standard NSAIDs (e.g. acetaminophen, ibuprofen, etc.) are often used like this. They provide some control of inflammation and pain, and if pitched correctly (possibly by giving a prescription for it) can provide the same placebo effect benefits. The number of conditions where a placebo is indicated, but no other drug would provide *any* relief is low to non-existent.

Similarly, any given anti-depressant is usually only effective on a medical basis for a minority of the population, but I'd be willing to put money down that the number of people who improve for any given anti-depressant is always at least a few percentage points higher than the number who experience a neurochemical change triggered directly by the drug. Neither the patient not the psychiatrist may know it, but that patient is improving solely due to a placebo effect. Of course, it works the opposite way too. Someone skeptical of anti-depressants can erase small benefits due to pessimistic outlook.

First AGW, Now Homeopathy (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248122)

The Brits seem to be on the forefront of pseudo-science debunking.

Good job, mates!

Re:First AGW, Now Homeopathy (5, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248256)

The Brits seem to be on the forefront of pseudo-science debunking.

Seems to me to be the exact opposite. The fact that they were funding it up to this point is be a sign of backwardness.

Re:First AGW, Now Homeopathy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31248368)

Why the hell isn't this rated 5, funny?!??!?

this makes it more powerful (5, Funny)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248410)

As everyone knows the more you dilute a Homeopatheic reagent the more powerful it becomes. Diluting their funding will only make them stronger.

Re:this makes it more powerful (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248750)

That was my idea also. Put their funding in a big container filled with Monopoly money. Shake it a bit, divide it in half and pour in more Monopoly money. Repeat about 30 or so times. Sure the remaining items in the container will be all Monopoly money (if they're really lucky, maybe a single real bill), but the Monopoly money will have magically transformed into legal tender that they can spend at such wonderful places as Marvin Gardens, Boardwalk and even Park Place!

Re:First AGW, Now Homeopathy (2, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248628)

Which is why a scientist is being sued for libel because he called chiropractors quacks and frauds.

I for one thank.... (5, Informative)

BeardedChimp (1416531) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248128)

Ben Goldacre for stopping this lunacy. His weekly Bad Science column and website [badscience.net] have been invaluable in combating woo.

Re:I for one thank.... (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248672)

Dammit, this will teach me not to refresh before commenting. I just quoted Ben's dilution argument above, from his article in the Guardian.

Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31248148)

This is frigging awesome. We shouldn't have to pay for stupid crap which idiots want to consume because they think it makes them feel better. Absolutely retarded to even start funding it in the first place.

Piss off, Homeopathy.

Here's a less harsh solution: (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248186)

Let them do something like, oh, dispense only one-tenth as much for each prescription, then make the patient dilute it prior to use, like the US insurers that force people to get double-dose pills and split them.

Oh, that's right -- since diluting homeopathic remedies makes them stronger, they'd be putting everyone at risk of overdose. Never mind, then.

Re:Here's a less harsh solution: (1)

grub (11606) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248262)


Oh, that's right -- since diluting homeopathic remedies makes them stronger,

After years of homoeopathy being popular in the UK just imagine the awesome powers in a glass of English tap water. Bet that stuff fluoresces in black light.

Re:Here's a less harsh solution: (3, Funny)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248474)

Oh, that's right -- since diluting homeopathic remedies makes them stronger, they'd be putting everyone at risk of overdose. Never mind, then.

The latest terror threat; credible reports have been received by British Intelligence that terrorists plan to drop small quantities of homeopathic remedies into the nations reservoirs. The resulting homeopathic overdoses could bring the nation to its knees.

Police are on high alert and pharmacies are advised to report any suspicious individuals purchasing homeopathic remedies, particularly individuals who purchase ONLY SMALL QUANTITIES at a time.

Placebo No Treatment? (4, Interesting)

RingDev (879105) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248196)

If the homeopathy is performing as well as placebo, but doctors offering placebo treatments do so at a risk of litigation, wouldn't the Homeopathy still be better than nothing?

Or is No Treatment = Placebo?

-Rick

Re:Placebo No Treatment? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248276)

Maybe. One of the things they do though is try to make sure that they spend money on treatments that do the most good, so it still might not make any sense to be paying for magic water for patient A instead of more pills for patient B.

Re:Placebo No Treatment? (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248334)

Homeopathy is pretending something will make you better. Placebos is pretending that nothing will make you better.

Administering placebos is considered bad practice, because people who are ill want to be given treatment to make them better. It's also why you don't tend to see drugs companies showing how much better their product works than a placebo. If you have to compare your new product with an inert sugar pill you might as well admit it's shit up front.

That's not to say that placebos don't work.

Re:Placebo No Treatment? (4, Informative)

Lurker2288 (995635) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248616)

Here you are unabashedly wrong. As someone who designs drug trials for a major pharmaceutical company, I can tell you we very often prefer to test our new drugs versus placebo, and we absolutely will report those results. Part of this is because you obviously have a much better chance of demonstrating effectiveness if your competitor is 'nothing,' whereas using an active comparator (product X) runs the risk of making you look no better than product X. This doesn't mean all products tested against placebo are "shit;" it simply means the company is minimizing the risk of a failed trial.

Of course, how well your new drug works compared to existing therapies is exactly what many healthcare providers and payers want to know, which is why regulators increasingly demand active comparator trials. In some countries reimbursement is explicitly linked to how well you fare against whatever the current standard of care is.

I think you may be confused... (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248644)

Placebos is pretending that nothing will make you better.

That would be more akin to the Nocebo effect. Placebo is when the patient's belief that the treatment will make them better, makes them better. Nocebo is when the patient's belief that the treatment will not make them better (or will make them worse in specific ways) causes them to not get better or to develop the conditions they fear.

it's also why you don't tend to see drugs companies showing how much better their product works than a placebo.

In the United States, in order to market a drug is has to get FDA approval. Part of the FDA approval process is a series of double blind studies where the treatment's outcomes are compared to placebo outcomes. Every drug company has to beat the placebo to get to market, and while placebo comparisons might not be all that common (I've heard a few in direct to consumer advertisements) they are clearly advertised in pharma funded continuing medical education conferences and brochures targeted to medical professionals.

Placebo and Nocebo effects have a huge impact on medical advances. It is a subject we are just starting to really research. Their effects are greatly effected by region and social atmosphere. And the placebo effect changes with us. Most of the major depression drugs that have become common names in the US are showing performance on par with placebo these days. The same drugs that 20 years ago beat the placebo effect with no problem, today would not have made it passed initial testing.

I can't imagine a world in which a placebo would cure cancer. But pain suppression, anxiety, depression, pretty much anything related to cognitive function can potentially be "cured" through the use of placebo.

-Rick

Re:Placebo No Treatment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31248404)

Don't worry. You can still get generic Placebin Hcl in convenient 100 mg doses. There. Feel better now?

Re:Placebo No Treatment? (5, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248448)

The difference between a placebo and homeopathy is the doctor prescribing a placebo KNOWS there is no medicinal value in what they are giving to a patient, whereas the person using homeopathy CLAIMS there will be a medicinal benefit.

In the former, the doctor is merely giving sugar pills (or something similar) in a controlled environment to test whether the person's condition is real or imagined, or is part of a study to see if a new medicine actually works.

In the latter, the person using homeopathy claims that by repeated dilutions of a mixture to the point there is no discernible ingredient other than water, that somehow, through some unknown conveyance, the water "remembers" what it was instilled with and thus, miraculously, can become effective at treating an ill.

So no, homeopathy is not better than nothing. If anything, it is more harmful because a) people with serious medical conditions do not seek out real medicine to alleviate what afflicts them, b) it sucks money from people without offering any evidence that what it claims to do actually takes place, c) it runs counter to every scientific principle of how things really work, thus dumbing down even further the public's understanding of how science is performed.

Granted, a and b aren't really that bad as it tends to cull the herd, but c is what exasperates those who use common sense by having to listen to such drivel.

Re:Placebo No Treatment? (1)

Daas (620469) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248704)

I've heard this a lot, if there's no risk then why bother? You have to consider that people who really need treatment sometimes go see an homeopath instead of a real doctor or won't go trough chemotherapy or some other kind of treatment because of these qwacks.

I love the placebo effect, only when used at the right time, on the right people. The fact that they are selling homeopathic products at the pharmacy here in Canada is, in my opinion, a perversion of the professional title that pharmacists hold.

Homeopathy != All Non-Pharmaceutical Medication (5, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248266)

It's worth noting that homeopathy != all natural remedies nor does it mean the only medication that works come from pharmaceutical companies and doctors.

Or maybe it's not worth noting. I had to look what homeopathy actually was though, since a lot of "natural" remedies get lumped into it as well. Even vitamins/minerals or probiotics tend to be looked on as non-traditional medicine and thus highly suspect.

Re:Homeopathy != All Non-Pharmaceutical Medication (1)

BeardedChimp (1416531) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248388)

When not backed up by peer reviewed research they remain highly suspect.
For example from here: [guardian.co.uk]

Out of hundreds of "probiotic" strains of bacteria under consideration, not one was shown to improve gut health or immunity. Taurine, the amino acid added to energy and sports drinks, was not found to boost energy. Nor was there evidence to support the claim that glucosamine is beneficial for joints, although it is widely marketed as such.

The benefits of vitamins and minerals on the other hand do have evidence backing them up, but members of the alt-med community goes so far as claiming that they cure AIDs.

Re:Homeopathy != All Non-Pharmaceutical Medication (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31248736)

Oh, homeopathy totally works...
.
. ...at removing people who believe in it from the gene pool

The placebo effect can be powerful! (1)

Per Wigren (5315) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248292)

Never underestimate the power of the placebo effect, it can do wonders! It can even make you drunk! [bbc.co.uk]
With that said, homepathy, like religion, although it can help people, technically it's still fraud.

Re:The placebo effect can be powerful! (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248344)

With that said, homepathy, like religion, although it can help people, technically it's still fraud.

Homeopathy can be tested and results viewed (e.g., bacterial counts). You've actually proven all religions and any religion to be frauds?

Re:The placebo effect can be powerful! (1)

Per Wigren (5315) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248432)

You've actually proven all religions and any religion to be frauds?

Yes, it says so in a book I read. Proof enough for me!

Re:The placebo effect can be powerful! (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248728)

Humor taken. Still, if that's your best answer, you're on the same level as those you criticize. You just believe differently. ;)

Article title not true (5, Informative)

hotseat (102621) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248298)

It's worth pointing out, for those who don't know much about the British parliamentary system, that the title of this post isn't true. One of the Parliamentary Select Committees has recommended that the NHS should stop funding homoeopathy. This is not a decision and will not automatically result in the money being withdrawn. This should be seen as the starting of a conversation on the issue in Parliament. In reality, the government has effective control over public spending and unless and until the Department of Health decides to change the way its money is spent then there will be no change in practice.

Hemopathy = Darwin Award (0)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248342)

While I have no problem of people hemopathisizing themselves out of the gene pool... I can see a lot of parents out there choosing this for their children and killing them.

Re:Hemopathy = Darwin Award (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31248800)

While I have no problem of people hemopathisizing themselves out of the gene pool...

Yes...

I can see a lot of parents out there choosing this for their children and killing them.

Which has the same net effect.

 

The Prince of Wales (3, Insightful)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248360)

From the fine article:

"Either we are governed by evidence and science, or by Prince Charles." --Edzard Ernst

Awesome.

-Peter

here (-1, Redundant)

charliemopps11 (1606697) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248374)

This is all you need to know: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeopathy [wikipedia.org] "The end product is often so diluted that it is indistinguishable from the dilutant (pure water, sugar or alcohol)."

Re:here (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248726)

The strongest "remedies" are diluted more than the total number of atoms in the universe.

But that makes them stronger! Oh yes!

I'd call it snake oil, but that would suggest there's some snake or some oil in that pure, diluted water.

but (3, Insightful)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248376)

But combining this with a a earlier /. article about the placebo effect and modern drugs (http://science.slashdot.org/story/09/09/07/1526234/Placebos-Are-Getting-More-Effective)
You get that even if they only produce the placebo effect they will do as good as many popular current drugs for patients and without the horrible side effects that come with them.

Simon Singh (4, Interesting)

genmax (990012) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248400)

Simon Singh is being currently driven to bankruptcy because of a libel suit [wikipedia.org] in the UK, for saying exactly the same thing about Chiropractic remedies. I hope the homeopaths sue these MPs for libel, and just perhaps, that will make lawmakers think about reforming the ridiculous British libel laws.

Re:Simon Singh (5, Informative)

CrazyBusError (530694) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248700)

*sighs*

That's not what he's being sued for.

He's being sued for suggesting that the chiropractors were willfully giving people treatments they knew to be be useless. Personally, I don't see think that's what he meant in his article and that's his argument, too, but the one thing he's *not* being sued for is saying chiropractic remedies are little more than horseshit - there's be no lawsuit if that was all he'd said.

There always seems to be a remarkable amount of bitching about the British libel system, but really all it boils down to is that if you publicly smear someone, you'd better be able to damn well prove it. Where exactly is the problem in that? From what I've seen of American media and politics, it'd be a hell of a lot better if there were some requirement for people to be able to back up their accusations...

Re:Simon Singh (2, Informative)

Sumadartson (965043) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248856)

I wish I could mod you up, but I only have infinitely diluted mod points left.
Anyway, there's also a petition going for libel reform. Check it out at http://www.libelreform.org/ [libelreform.org] .Sign and/or donate if you support their cause!

Gotta Love Government control! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31248510)

See how great government control of everything can be.

Traditional Medicine suffering the same (1)

MikeV (7307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248566)

I seem to recall an article about the testing of traditional medicines and their having the same issues of the placebo's having as good a desired effect as the medicine itself. Heck, the FDA has approved the prescription of placebos themselves as medical treatments! Perhaps we just need to throw all our pills in the trash...

Re:Traditional Medicine suffering the same (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248794)

I don't know if it's necessary the medication here or the mis-diagnoses and pill-happy people (I'm sick. I need a pill! ... I'm depressed. I need a pill!).

It's gotten to the extent that some medical practitioners I know have told their patients things to do - eat better, exercise - and they turn around and ask "Can't I just take a drug?"

When people WANT to take drugs - who cares about side and even long-lasting effects [like liver damage...] - a placebo is likely going to have a lot more effect. Especially in "mental" health things.

Hard to fathom (2, Funny)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248686)

I don't understand why people can't just be allowed to love one another regardless of gender without all the yelling and fingerpointing...What? Oh, sorry. Must get new glasses...

Have you ever tried it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31248766)

You should try it for yourselves.

As someone who was rescued by homeopathic medicine as a child, where all traditional medicine was causing more damage through side effects, I am quite sad to see so much derision when nobody speaking has actually given it a shot.

Still works for me now... blame the placebo effect all you want... but give it a try too

more expensive in the long run (1)

farble1670 (803356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248882)

okay, but they do have a placebo effect, so why not fund them? if people are taking them, they are getting some relief. many people that are relying on homeopathic remedies will just resort to using the much more expensive prescription options. will this really save them money?

i have tried many homeopathic remedies and have never got any effect from them. i attribute this to the fact that i'm generally a glass 1/2 empty person so i expect medecine not to work. no placebo effect for me. that being said, i understand that the placebo effect improves people's lives so i'd never knock them for pursuing homeopathic remedies.

Loophole (2, Funny)

edraven (45764) | more than 4 years ago | (#31248908)

Even if the government stops paying for homeopathic medicine, you can just take your last subsidized dosage and add it to a gallon of distilled water. Not only do you now have more of it, it's now phenomenally more powerful! And when you're almost out, you can do it again! And it only gets better!
Seriously, why ever pay for this stuff more than once?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...