Should Homeopathy Be Banned?


Tracy Kolenchuk Waking Times | July 28 2014

In England, The Daily Mail Reporter headlines “Homeopathy remedies should be labeled as placebos and banned on NHS“, but added, “But some doctors said their patients seemed to benefit despite no clinical trial evidence that homeopathy worked.”

The blog “10 Pseudo-Science Theories We’d Like to see Retired Forever,” says “Homeopathy claims water can cure you, because it once held medicine.” But, the theory of homeopathic medicines is not based on diluted medicine. It seems the author(s) haven’t actually bothered to look up the theory of homeopathy, or understand its claims before composing that nonsense. The author of “Homeopathy is Placebo – Ban Homeopathy,” who says, “The reason homeopathy should be banned is not that it’s placebo, but that it’s fraudulent,” would also benefit from a simple dictionary check. A placebo is defined as a medicine that is fraudulent, to quote Merriam Webster, Placebo “a usually pharmacologically inert preparation prescribed more for the mental relief of the patient than for its actual effect on a disorder.”

Stephen Barrett, M.D., the ultimate “pot calling the kettle black” cites among other reasons, “the laws of chemistry.” The laws of chemistry are actually the theories of chemistry, on theory that they ‘cannot be broken.’ But apparently Dr. Barrett is worried that homeopathic medicines might manage to break these laws of nature? He does not go so far as to suggest that homeopathic medicines should be banned, but wants them labeled as placebos, with statements like “a public warning that although the FDA has permitted homeopathic remedies to be sold, it does not recognize them as effective.” Stephen also seems to forget, for the moment at least, that many doctors prescribe placebos, not because they don’t work, but because they do work.

The reasons suggested for banning homeopathy are, frankly, very weak.  In summary:

– it’s no better than a placebo

– people might take homeopathic medicines and suffer because they avoid a ‘real doctor’

– ??more?? I honestly can’t find any more reasons – I’d be happy to be enlightened.

So, let’s look at the reasons first, then the reality.

Homeopathy is no better than a placebo.

First of all, we need to define a placebo.  A placebo is a lie from your doctor. If there is no doctor, it’s not a placebo.  If there is no intentional lie, it’s not a placebo. Stephen Bartlett suggesting labeling homeopathic medicines as placebos, is suggesting the paradox, “This statement is false.”

There’s another side to the word placebo. People often confuse the word placebo with ‘placebo effect,’ thinking that ‘placebo effects’ are not real, that they are lies. But that’s not true. Merriam Webster defines the placebo effect as an “improvement in the condition of a patient that occurs in response to treatment but cannot be considered due to the specific treatment used.” Placebo effects are real. Placebo effects are not lies, they are real effects, measurable by science, and by medicine.

So, stating that homeopathic medicines are “no more effective than a placebo,” is actually saying that “homeopathic medicines cause real, positive effects that we don’t understand.” It also says “homeopathic medicines are no more effective than a lie from your doctor.”

Should we ban homeopathic medicines because we don’t understand them? Should we ban placebos because we don’t understand them? Nonsense.

People who take homeopathic medicines might suffer because they avoid a real doctor.

Do people suffer more because they avoid doctors, or more because they see doctors too soon, or too often? Frankly, although medicines often work well, medicines can also kill. According to government reports, medicines (but not homeopathic medicines) are third ranked in the causes of illness and death in the USA. Patent medicines and OTC medicines have side effects. It’s worth to note that, according to the medical profession, homeopathic medicines don’t have ‘real effects,’ therefore, according to the medical profession, they also cannot have ‘side effects.’

I’m not saying homeopathic medicines are ineffective.  Science, and medicine has proven, and agrees that homeopathic medicines are effective, although they qualify with “no more effective than a lie from your doctor.” Science and medicine have also proven that most, if not all, doctors recognize and occasionally prescribe placebos to their patients.

Do people who take OTC medicines suffer because they might avoid a real doctor? And what about food? Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine by thy food.” Should we also count those people who eat an “apple a day,” to keep the doctor away? Should we ban apples because some people think they are medicines?

What about Health?

Are placebos healthy? It is important to separate “health” from “illness”. Health is larger than illness. It is entirely possible that homeopathic medicines, even if they have no effect on illness, might have positive effects on health. But science has proven they do have positive effects on illness.

We don’t measure health. We haven’t yet learned to measure health yet – we can only measure symptoms of illness, and that’s how we measure illness. We can learn to measure health – but today, no-one is trying.

If we ban homeopathic medicines, how will we learn of their effects on health? And there’s the point. The exact point of this discussion.

Freedom. Freedom to study. Freedom to learn. Freedom to learn about health – to learn more than simple studies of illness. Freedom to know for ourselves. Freedom to make our own choices. To advertise and market our own choices.

Should we ban homeopathic medicines?

It might be a useful question, if it was not so loaded. It is loaded against my freedom of choice, in favor of society’s freedom to oppress, based on some people’s beliefs.

I believe in health freedom. I believe in the health freedom of the customer, and also of the producer and seller. Safety standards are important, but bans? Banning something is a serious act, difficult to undo – even if the ban was wrong. Banning homeopathic medicines would be a strike against freedom.

Our laws should be designed to enhance our freedoms, not to restrict them. If freedoms are to be restricted – there must be real and serious danger. Proof needs to be strong. Frankly, there is no evidence for banning homeopathy, plenty of evidence in favor of freedom.

In Summary:

Medicine Effectiveness Side Effects Danger
Food Effective, especially effective against nutritional deficiency illnesses. None. Little danger, although it is possible to die from food.
OTC – Over the Counter Medicines Most commonly effective against symptoms of illness, allowing the body to heal. Listed on bottle. Can be severe. Some danger.  Prone to non-monitored, over consumption, which can lead to illness, even death.
Patent Medicines A wide range of effectiveness. Tend to be designed and tested for specific illnesses. The bestselling patent medicines only treat symptoms, and do not cure. Listed on bottle. Can be severe. Sometimes not known for years. Very dangerous. Requires a doctor’s prescription, controlled dosages, and even then can lead to injury or death.
Placebos Effective but we don’t understand why. However, many doctors are able to predict ‘when’ they will be effective, and prescribe them. None. Little danger, although there is some danger when patent medicines  or OTCs are prescribed as placebos – which does happen.
Homeopathic Medicines Effective, but we don’t understand why. None. Little danger. As far as I know, there are no reports of death or injury caused by homeopathic medicines.

Should homeopathic medicines be banned? Nonsense. We need to spend our time on more important questions.

About the Author:  Tracy Kolenchuk is the founder of and author of: Introduction to Healthicine: Theories of Health, Healthiness, Illness and Aging.

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  1. Homeopathy is non-toxic system of western medical science originated in Germany by orthodox medically trained doctor Samuel Hahnemann

  2.' Sorgfelt says:

    There is one other thing about homeopathic medicines that seems to have escaped notice. Some such medicines, although they include the usual highly diluted substances typical of a homeopathic remedy, also include an effective herb or extract in non-diluted proportions. These kinds of ingredients don’t seem to fit the homeopathic philosophy. The ingredients may have been tested in some labs, but, because they are marketed as a homeopathic medicine, have not undergone the scrutiny that would usually be accorded them, if they had been sold as an OTC or patent medicine. I actually appreciate that, because it gives a way to put effective medicines out into the public, that otherwise would not see the light of day.

  3. This is a poorly constructed jumble of thoughts that make little or no sense. It is not publishable in any reputable journal, yet you publish it here. Regardless of whether you are for or against homeopathy, the distorted title headings here make no sense.
    #1 All doctors know that placebos work and are trained to use them whenever possible to avoid over use of medicines and the subsequent harm they may do to the body
    #2 Homeopathic remedies, like any othe medicines, may have a placebo effect
    #3 Homeopathic remedies work on animals and infants which means they have an effect that is not simply defined as “placebo”
    #4 Homeopathy is the least harmful of all ingestible substances because it is a minimal dose, does not compromise the liver, and is most often taken only a few times for its effects to be known.
    #5 Given the simplicity and non-invasive ness of homeopathy, the only reason for such utter fear and contempt for it could be that the pharmaceutical companies would be devastated if the truth were known. (One vial of a constitutional remedy may cost $6 could last a lifetime.)
    #6 A classically trained homeopath advocates for a wellness plan for his or her clients which would include medical exams, mental health counseling,, diet, and spiritual mentoring.

  4.' Leesa says:

    Homeopathics are INDIVIDUALLY chosen for each client. A remedy for an ailment such as a headache will be different for each person. So having studies that give the same remedy for an issue are pointless an NOT indicative of effectiveness. The Royal family opt use a homeopath. They seem to live long healthy lives. Poor article.

  5.' Rich Putman says:

    Most people who don’t understand homeopathy think that it’s chemistry-based. It’s not; it’s ENERGY based. All living things have an energy pattern; that includes people and tree leaves. If you’d like to check that out, do an Internet search on “Kirlian photography”. To grasp the concept regarding people, see the book “Vibrational Medicine for the 21st Century” by Richard Gerber, MD. copyright 2000. The focus of the book is about understanding the human body from an energy perspective. There are a few pages that also help the reader to understand why and how homeopathy works.

    In a process called succussion [diluting and shaking], the energy pattern of a substance is imprinted on a neutral liquid. When a human body is exposed to the energy pattern in that liquid, it reacts via the immune system. It’s not some chemical molecules that it’s reacting to; it’s the energy pattern. And that is missing knowledge that people who degrade homeopathy don’t understand.

    People who claim there are no successful double blind homeopathy studies are simply wrong. There have been such studies.

    Note: I am not a degreed health practitioner. But I have been a lifelong student ever since I graduated university with honor and four majors – math, physics, Spanish, and Russian. Do I still remember the Russian? Nyet = “no”. There are natural products out in the marketplace which are getting amazing results with no dangerous side effects.

  6.' Mathew faraji says:

    I’m sorry to report that the powers that seem to be in charge are using sattelites to enslave culture grouping such as are beautiful black families and also all other families with homeopathic street drug applications ,

    Slavery is far from dead when it comes to nonconcentual human research,!!! Faraji. Mk slave survivor8058889459 God bless ,!!!

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