I just found this article, and am not sure how I missed it a couple of years ago. But better late than never! It is an honest admission, by Psychology Today, that there may be something to homeopathy! Well, of course….
check it out: here are the opening paragraphs, and a link for the rest:
“There is no basis for believing that homeopathy has any effect,” says Robert Baratz, president of the National Council Against Health Fraud, in Peabody, Massachusetts. “Homeopathy is a magnet for untrustworthy practitioners who pose a threat to public safety. It’s quackery.”
Maybe homeopathy involves treatment with nothing. If true, it’s still an improvement over 18th-century heroic medicine—even if patients get little more than water.
By the late 19th century, conventional medicine had moved away from heroic measures. As they disappeared, the medical opposition led by homeopaths lost steam. The discovery of antibiotics and other modern drugs further strengthened conventional medicine at homeopathy’s expense. While homeopathy remained popular in Europe, there were fewer than 100 homeopaths in the U.S. by the early 1970s. Critics dismissed homeopathic treatment as placebo.
* Healing at Home
* Less Is More?
* The Up Side of Voodoo
* Adventures in Alternative Medicine
* Placebos, Truth and Paradox
Find a Therapist
Search for a mental health professional near you.
* Massage Therapists
* and more!
Placebos have no direct impact on the body. But when given to treat almost any illness—from colds to serious conditions—about one-third of recipients report benefits. “Placebos work as well as they do because of the mind’s ability to affect the body,” says Brown University psychiatrist Walter Brown. Many studies have shown that when a doctor offers any treatment, people expect it will help, and that expectation itself can aid healing. Also, through a mind-body mechanism not entirely understood, placebos trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s mood-elevating, pain-relieving compounds. “Improvement in patients receiving homeopathy is simply a placebo effect,” Sampson says.
But studies consistently yield conflicting reports. British researchers are divided as to the power of arnica, often prescribed by homeopaths for musculoskeletal pain. Patients who received arnica after wrist surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome reported significantly less pain than did those in a placebo group; yet patients with other joint conditions had no such luck (among 58 rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, the placebo group reported significantly greater pain relief).
In 1991, Dutch epidemiologists analyzed 105 studies of homeopathic treatment from 1966 to 1990, most from French and German medical journals. Eighty-one studies found patients had benefited from homeopathy, prompting the Dutch researchers to conclude that “the evidence is to a large extent positive. [It] would probably be sufficient for establishing homeopathy as treatment for certain conditions.” A 1997 German analysis of 89 studies agreed that homeopathy is often significantly more beneficial than the use of placebos.
Ambiguous as the evidence is, homeopathy has enjoyed renewed popularity in the U.S., coinciding with Americans’ ambivalence about mainstream medicine.
One-half to two-thirds of Americans have used alternative therapies, and Americans visit alternative practitioners more often than they visit conventional practitioners—some 600 million consultations a year. They now spend $30 billion a year on alternative therapies, according to a report in Newsweek, and have as much confidence in alternative practitioners as they do in M.D.s, according to a study in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
Americans have not lost confidence in physicians—they’ve just expanded their view of what’s medically helpful, believing that the combination of mainstream and alternative medicine will provide the best results. “The renewed interest in homeopathy,” explains Dana Ullman, author of eight books on the subject, “is part of the groundswell of interest Americans have shown for all the alternative therapies. People are not satisfied with conventional medicine.”
Homeopathy is not the only alternative therapy conventional medicine can’t fully explain. The energy pathways deemed fundamental to acupuncture don’t correspond to any known structures in the body, but a National Institutes of Health report concluded, “The data in support of acupuncture are as strong as those for many accepted Western medical therapies.”
Nonetheless, homeopathy is nowhere near as accepted as acupuncture. A Harvard report on Americans’ use of alternative therapies shows that homeopathy accounts for less than 0.5 percent of alternative-practitioner visits. University of Maryland researchers surveyed coverage for alternative therapies by six major managed-care plans—five covered chiropractic, four covered acupuncture, none covered homeopathy. “Homeopathy,” Ullman says, “is the Rodney Dangerfield of alternative therapies: It gets no respect.”
Amy Lansky didn’t care that homeopathy is one of America’s least accepted alternative therapies. After nine months of homeopathic treatment, Max was a different child: talkative, active, sociable and popular. Under Melnychuk’s guidance, Lansky gradually decreased his dose of Carcinosin, eventually discontinuing it. Max continued to improve. By age five, he was virtually indistinguishable from any other kid. “He now sees Melnychuk maybe twice a year,” says Lansky. “As far as I’m concerned, he’s cured.” Max’s experience led Lansky to quit her job and study homeopathy full-time. In the fall, she hung out a shingle. “As a scientist,” she explains, “I recognize that homeopathy is implausible. But I’ve seen it cure my son.”