Sunday 15 June 2008

'Homeopathy works!' - Mail Online

Homeopathy really does work and doctors should recognise its healing effects, say researchers.
This is from the Mail Online website. I don't know if it's also in the printed version (I try to avoid the Mail if at all possible). But the title above, including the quotation marks, is the title used on the site. So maybe this is a sceptical report after all - who can tell? Is this an example of the Mail just presenting the facts, with no imposed spin?
A study found that allergy sufferers who were given homeopathic treatment were ten times more likely to be cured than those given a dummy pill instead.
What kind of study?
The study was carried out by doctors in Glasgow, led by Dr David Reilly of the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital, one of five specialist hospitals in Britain. He said the difference in results from the two treatments was statistically significant.
Ah. Well he would say that, wouldn't he, being "of the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital"?

Or perhaps I'm being unfair. Perhaps this was a double-blinded, randomised clinical trial. The phrase "clinical trials" is actually attributed to Dr Reilly later in the report, so I posted a comment* on the article, suggesting that we might like to see references to his study, so that it can be checked out, and perhaps reveal homeopathy to be the wonderfully efficacious evidence-based medicine it has hitherto failed to be considered as.

Or not.

*UPDATE 2008-07-01:
Well, I tried to post a comment. It didn't appear, and I can't believe I was the only one who tried. Despite the invitation to share your thoughts, it seems the Mail doesn't want any feedback on this article**.

**UPDATE 2008-08-01:

It has come to my attention that this is an old article from 2003. Unfortunately Mail Online gives no indication of this on its website, but it presumably explains why comments are not being accepted.


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  2. Zdena,

    Nowhere on the website you mention did I find any reference to actual clinical research. If I missed it, please tell me where to find it. There's lots of stuff about the "frequency" of natural substances, and of the human body, but nothing to indicate how such frequencies are measured. To say something possesses a frequency is to imply that it's oscillating. Is it physically oscillating, like a piezo crystal? Or is this resonance of some kind? If so, what kind, exactly? And don't forget that in an oscillating system, frequency isn't the only consideration. There's also amplitude (for example, in sound, while the frequency determines the pitch of a musical note, amplitude determines how loud the note is).

    Unfortunately there's also lots of stuff on the site about "energy fields" and vague sciency-sounding words that have no meaning in actual science. This leads me to conclude that the "essential oils" are most likely snake oil.

    Of course, I may have judged the site unfairly. All I ask is a reference to valid scientific research, properly carried out in a double-blinded randomized clinical trial.

    There are several disclaimers on the site: "This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease." Nevertheless a great many claims are made (or at least implied) for the products advertised. I'm asking for evidence backing up those claims, that's all.