A Candle in the Dark

A look on science, politics, religion and events

Dangerous Lies

with one comment

The Union Health minister Anbumani Ramadoss was quoted as saying1,

Homeopathy has very good treatment effect for certain diseases which are not amenable to treatment by conventional medicine. It is effective, safe, affordable and simple to administer. It is also cost effective.

India has hundreds of proved studies confirming that homeopathy works.

Let’s consider that outrageous claim for a minute. Have any of these studies been published in peer-reviewed medical journals? Were the clinical trials placebo controlled and double-blind? Have the result of these “proved studies” been reproduced by an independent team, or have they vanished under critical inspection by those “materialistic western scientists”?

Apart from the fact that the principles of homeopathy completely contradict current scientific understanding, how’s it that almost all of the scientific studies and clinical trials which are actually published in peer-reviewed medical journals, tend to suggest that “homeopathic remedies work no better than simple placebos2?

Now, let’s consider a very recent claim made by the Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research (no less!), Dr N K Ganguly3. He says that,

The homeopathy compound screened in vitro at NARI(National AIDS Research Insititute) against HIV has been found to have a lot of potential in effectively killing the virus

At this point, it is prudent to point out that, if the above claim to have found a cure for AIDS is true, then it’s Nobel Prize time. However, exceptional claims require exceptional evidence. What about the evidence Mr Ganguly?

However, he refused to name the compound as there were Intellectual Property Rights issues involved. Moreover, there was an MoU with the company which had given the compound, which is already being used in treatment of some other disease, for testing against HIV so the details could not be divulged, he said.

Ah, figures. What’s the one thing which is missing from every single person who claims that homeopathy works?

Simple, it’s the actual scientific evidence.

Don’t miss this brilliant article by the Guardian’s Ben Goldacre, where he talks about the role of placebo effect, regression to the mean, randomized clinical trials, blinded tests, publication bias, cherry picking, meta-analysis, dangers of homeopathic prescriptions and analyzing statistics in medicine. It’s a classic.

Notes
[1] – Homeopathy treatment for AIDS under attack in UK
[2] – Unlike our esteemed minister, I can back this claim and direct you to a list of the actual studies.
Clinical Trials on Homeopathy Published from 2003 to 2006
Clinical Trials on Homeopathy Published from 1998 to 2002

[3] – Homeopathy medicine found effective in killing HIV: ICMR DG
The end of homeopathy? (Ben Goldacre, The Guardian)

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Written by parseval

November 17, 2007 at 5:16 pm

One Response

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  1. Parceval-

    very valid criticism. Unfortunately, I find support for homeopathy growing in Pune. Homeopathy “doctors” have now similar social standing as allopaths! Its cheaper, and articles by spirituality gurus hype up the benefits .

    don’t miss reading this article from the Economist on Athletes and Placebo effect.

    http://www.economist.com/science/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10062495

    Suvrat Kher

    November 20, 2007 at 4:42 pm


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