Australian review slams homeopathy

I have always had this complete puzzlement over homeopathy. I used to receive e mails all the time in the early days of CANCERactive asking why I didn’t cover it. I also received a lot of e mails from cancer patients – usually breast cancer patients – telling me their stories how it really made a big difference to their orthodox treatment programmes and helped them through their times of trouble. Grown sensible men I respected switched from being Doctors to becoming Homeopaths. But.

I tried to get articles written for icon. Over the last ten years there have been two areas I have consistently failed on. Homeopathy and Radiotherapy. I get lots of people interested in writing an article for our magazine and our website, but then when I mention the ‘R’ word, they back off, never to be heard from again.

The ‘R’ word? We have a little requirement at CANCERactive that if you write an article and make a claim, you have to give a clue about the research that supported the claim. References are good, but readers find them boring and unnecessary – a decent clue will do. In the case of Homeopathy and Radiotherapy, would be writers run away.

Yet still I got protests from patients. So, I made light of it. I remember Henry Ford’s quote about advertising – ‘Half my advertising budget is wasted. I just don’t know which half’. I borrowed it for Homeopathy.

I tried to find research. I was sent some by third parties, sporadically. A report by WDDTY about Indians and MD Anderson – the link to MD Anderson’s website no longer works, although the research was there for a while.

Then there are famous scientists who say water has a memory. It’s possible, of course. But.

Then there’s research about the German football team all using homeopathy not drugs to treat their injuries. And the Swiss approving Homeopathy. But.

But – the fact is that Homeopathy has been around for a very, very long time – too long not to have any decent research about it. (Although, yes, I did find a couple of clinical trials, but I looked very hard).

I made the same point to Charlotte Gerson when I met her. If you want someone to believe your claim, get some numbers. The Block Centre for Integrative Medicine in Chicago do it – they monitor everyone who comes through their door and they can then show the survival rates of people on Integrative Therapies vs only Orthodox and the improved survival.

But, Gerson, Homeopathy? Numbers? It’s either lazy, or incompetent or the truth is, ‘it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny’.

And I know I am going to be attacked by ladies in Leicester who used homeopathy with their breast cancer, or women in the Wirral who used Gerson for saying this. And I am sure that some people do get a benefit, just like some women do have their breast tumours shown up correctly on screening mammograms. But.

Here is the news.

The Australians have researched Homeopathy extensively and there’s nothing in it. Sorry homeopaths – you only have yourselves to blame.

The report concluded that there was NO reliable EVIDENCE that homeopathy can treat health conditions. The review came from the National Health and Medical Research Council.

They looked at reviews and research covering asthma to eczema, never mind the complicated stuff like cancer and diabetes.

Sure, the report is only a draft and homeopaths are now working hard to discredit it. But.

“There is no reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective for treating health conditions”.

”People who choose homeopathy instead of proven conventional treatment may put their health at risk if safe and evidence-based treatments are rejected or delayed in favour of homeopathic treatment.”

I’ll go along with that. It’s been exactly what I have thought since 2004. But, I did try. Promise.

The draft is now open for public consultation until May 26.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/homeopathy-dismissed-by-national-health-and-medical-research-council-review-20140408-36b9u.html#ixzz2yS9DZG6H

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Burzynski – it’s all over now, surely?

A strange situation exists in America that is exploited by several top Cancer Hospitals: Take MD Anderson and Virotherapy or The Preston Robert Tisch Cancer Centre at Duke and Dendritic cell therapy. Both these treatments have some clinical evidence behind them to show there is potential. But, truthfully, that’s about all. So, when all other treatments fail, a phase III clinical trial is set up to give these therapies a whirl. And in some cases they have met with great success. Importantly, the ‘trial’ is well documented, even when people die.

The same ‘methodology and logic’ has been exploited by controversial Doctor Stanislaw Burzynski. The FDA gave some credibility to antineoplastons (complex peptides and peptide mixtures that seemed to be missing in cancer patients) and after nearly 20 years of fighting between the FDA and/or The Texas Medical Board and Burzynski, a lull in the storm saw Burzynski reach for the phase III clinical trial gambit, and continue to treat cancer patients at his clinic. The background to all this can be found here.)

But. Following a Panorama Programme where Burzynski refused to provide results to date saying the FDA forbade it, and the FDA saying he could provide data, I wrote several times to the Burzynski Clinic for clarification. Like Panorama, I received no satisfactory response.

Worse was then uncovered – An analysis of work to date seems to show that with several dozen phase II clinical trials started, he never published a completed phase II trial, although there have been a couple of preliminary reports.

A step change occurred in 2012, with an apparent treatment-related death of a child and this led the FDA to issue a partial clinical hold on the Burzynski Clinic, preventing him enrolling any new children on his clinical trials, although he could keep treating existing patients and enroll new adult patients.

This ‘hold’ was later extended to new adults when the FDA arrived to investigate the clinic. The result of the investigations? More bad news for Burzynski when he received a warning letter from the FDA. That warning covered issues such deficiencies in the Burzynski institutional review board (IRB), the committee responsible for making sure that the clinic falls in line with regulations designed to protect human subjects during ‘research’ (for example, by maintaining adequate documentation covering the functions and operations of the IRB.

This, to some, may just seem like a lack of red tape provisions. But these are supposed to be randomized clinical trials of human beings and the Burzynski clinic needs to be as meticulous as any drugs company, perhaps more so given previous controversies. What seems to have been happening is that the Burzynski has been using what are ‘expedited reviews’. However, taking single patient protocols for an investigational drug that is not FDA-approved does not fall into any of the categories for which expedited review is appropriate, particularly when so many of the patients involved are children.

But the question still remains – Let’s see the results.

And not just the positive ones; what about side-effects like hypernatremia? Again the FDA have presented two new reports and these include statements such as ‘Failure to monitor the progress of an investigation’ and ‘an investigation was not conducted in accordance with the signed statement of investigator and investigational plan’ and ‘failure to prepare or maintain adequate case histories with respect to observations and data pertinent to the investigation’.

All I can conclude from this is that we are very unlikely to get proper clinical trial data at all.

But it gets worse. The FDA noted that
1. ‘You did not have a QA monitor properly monitor CRFs [case report forms] and subject records’
2. ‘The investigator destroyed critical subject case history records (target tumor measurement worksheets) or misplaced case history records (original subject CRFs) for all subjects’
3. ‘Your MRI tumor measurements initially recorded at baseline and on-treatment MRI studies for all study subjects were destroyed and are not available for FDA inspectional review’
4. ‘You failed to monitor as required by Section 16 of your Monitoring Plan. The investigator did not report adverse events (AEs) experienced by study subjects, including 18 cases of hypernatremia’, and (worse still)
5. ‘You failed to protect the rights, safety, and welfare of subjects under your care – Forty-eight (48) subjects experienced 102 investigational overdoses between January 1, 2005 and February 22, 2013, according to the Weekly List of Hospitalizations/SAE [REDACTED] Overdose [redacted]/Catheter Infection report. There is no documentation to show that you have implemented corrective actions during this time period to ensure the safety and welfare of subjects’.

We last amended the write up in CANCERactive on Antineoplastons and The Burzynski Clinic after the Panorama report. At that time we asked ‘Where are the results?’ We shall shortly be revising it all again.

At CANCERactive we do not believe it correct to ignore ‘alternative’ cancer treatments. We try to explain what they are and what they are supposed to do, with research when it exists, but pointing out clearly if none exists. But the fact is the NCI has a review on its website about antineoplastons and the review seems positive. Wikipedia, even today, is surprisingly balanced. So, we will continue to tell patients what this is supposedly all about, but we will now answer our own question: Where are the results? And the answer is ‘Nowhere’.

People touched by cancer who contemplate spending large amounts of money to go to the Burzynski Clinic need to be absolutely clear on this latest information and factor it in to their decision making process.

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Puzzling prediction of falling cancer death rates made ahead of fund raising drive

According to ‘experts’ at the charity Cancer Research UK, cancer death rates in the UK are set to fall by almost 17 per cent by 2030. And better diagnosis and treatment is the main reason (sic) for the change.  The figures were released in the run-up to Stand Up To Cancer, a fundraising partnership between Cancer Research UK and Channel 4.

This is all rather puzzling because in 2011, when claiming cancer death rates were falling in breast cancer and colon cancer, they predicted an increase in the number of cancer cases and deaths from cancer as the population ages over the next twenty or so years.

The ‘experts’ also claim that the improved outlook reflects the fact that fewer people are smoking. So is ‘prevention’ really the key? Or could it even be something else?

To quote from the CRUK press release, ‘In 2010 an estimated 170 people in every 100,000 members of the general population died from cancer. By 2030 this is forecast to fall to 142 per 100,000.

Ovarian cancer is expected to see the biggest drop in numbers of patients dying, at 42.6 per cent. Incidence of the disease is expected to reduce from 9.1 women per 100,000 to 5.3 per 100,000 by 2030. Death rates for breast cancer are predicted to fall by 28 per cent, for bowel cancer by 23 per cent and prostate cancer by 16 per cent.

A few cancers show a reverse trend, with larger numbers of people dying. Death rates for oral cancer are likely to rise by 22 per cent, as incidence rises from 2.9 to 3.5 per 100,000 people. For liver cancer, death rates are predicted to go up by 39 per cent, with incidence increasing from 4.2 to 5.9 per 100,000’.

Professor Peter Sasieni, Cancer Research UK epidemiologist at Queen Mary, University of London, said: “Our latest estimations show that for many cancers, adjusting for age, death rates are set to fall dramatically in the coming decades. And what’s really encouraging is that the biggest cancer killers, lung, breast, bowel, and prostate, are part of this falling trend.

“Because old age is the biggest risk factor for cancer and more people are living longer, they have a greater chance of developing and, unfortunately, dying from the disease. But overall the proportion, or rate, of those who die from cancer is falling.”

Why this is puzzling is because the absolute numbers of cancer cases has doubled in the last thirty years and a team of oncologists working with MacMillan had predicted it would double again in the next twenty years. That would mean about 4 million people with cancer in Britain.

According to the 2011 census, the population for England and Wales has increased by 3.7 million from 2001; and (to quote) ‘buoyed by increased life expectancy, sustained immigration and robust fertility levels, the number of residents jumped 7.1% from 52.4 million in 2001 to 56.1 million in 2011’. If that continues, in twenty years time we will have about 65 million people in England and Wales in 2031. According to figures about 350,000 ‘older’ people are retiring abroad each year, while about 650,000 younger foreign people are coming into the country.

And it should be noted that Cancer Research ‘experts’ are not talking about total numbers of cases of cancer, nor total numbers of deaths. But the rate per 100,000 of population. So if the number of people increasing the population by 7 per cent due to ‘sustained immigration and robust fertility levels’ continues you might expect a decline in cancer death rates anyway. Especially if the average age falls across the population.

The other claim that is interesting is that the main reason is due to better diagnosis and treatment. Three years ago CRUK said it was all down to better diagnosis and treatment and I chided them at the time. They conveniently ignore the fact that over two thirds of cancer patients now build their own integrative treatment programmes, search the Internet for alternative treatments, visit complementary centres that are independent (like Maggie’s, The Haven and Penny Brohn) or part of the Hospital (like the Butterfly Centre and the Rainbow Centre). Some people even take themselves off abroad for life-extending treatments. Then there has been an explosion in coverage of what people can do to help themselves from the utterings of the Daily Mail to charities such as CANCERactive. Only recently the American Cancer Society stated that there had been an ‘explosion’ in complementary research since 2006 and that there was ‘overwhelming evidence that complementary therapies like diet, weight control and exercise could increase survival and stop a cancer returning.

It seems that Cancer Research UK think your personal efforts count for little.

Better diagnosis? It is definitely coming with a possible avalanche of private companies and blood tests, but up to now …  mammograms and PSA tests? The Nordic Cochrane has said that mammograms do ‘more harm than good’, with up to 30 per cent being misdiagnosed (of course you are ‘cured’ if misdiagnosed). The American Preventative services Task Force said much the same about the PSA test.

Better treatments? Well if you read the recent articles on the new breed of biologics, or ‘designer drugs’, such as the article we printed by Professor Karol Sikora, you’d be more than a little underwhelmed. There are alternatives coming – like localised hyperthermia (Ablation, HIFU) but the ‘old school’ is none too happy about the possibility of becoming redundant. And anyway it can’t work on blood and lymph cancers.

And this is another little area that needs attention. Blood and lymph cancers account for about 80,000 cases in the UK currently; twice the number of breast cancers diagnosed. But they are divided into about ten different types – there are four different lymphomas. Yet no one divides breast cancer by ductal or lobular in the overall numbers. It’s also an inconvenient truth that at current growth rates lymphoma could become the number one cancer in the next twenty years.

Old age the biggest risk factor and an ageing population? Recent research shows that the historical 80 per cent of cancers in the over-65 age group is less and less the case. 40 per cent of breast cancers are now developed by women below 60 years of age. Prostate cancer has multiplied six-fold in the forty-something age group; oesophageal cancer has boomed amongst forty-somethings; some child cancers have tripled.

And I just loved the bit about ‘age-corrected statistics’. I really must have my age corrected one day.

If smoking reduction is such a big factor, how come cancer cases are set to double in absolute terms despite a fall in smokers? If prevention is so important why aren’t we doing more about the 50 per cent of cancers that aren’t your fault? Look up most blood or lymph cancers on American web sites. They will tell you about the links to pesticides, toxic ingredients in everyday toiletries and household products, heavy metals, environmental toxins beyond asbestos.

Perhaps the European REACH project, if 1000 toxic ingredients really are cut from personal care, toiletry and household products in the next 15 years, will see a great reduction in cancer levels.

Stand up to Cancer fund raising? Of course if you can convince people that you really are succeeding in beating cancer by doing what you are doing, they may well give you more funds.

Cancer Research UK is a great charity and I am sure it does its level best to help people. It is sad that, if the numbers of people with cancer are going to double in the UK to four million, anybody tries to claim that somehow we are beating cancer because of better diagnosis and drugs, however the numbers are massaged.

I am at this point reminded of MD Anderson’s quote that ‘All the exciting new developments in cancer are coming in areas other than chemotherapy’. I think I will file the press release and bring it out again in 1930 to see what really did happen. Somehow I fear the current strategy will just see more cases of cancer and more deaths whatever spin is put on it. And I haven’t even talked about whether the country can afford it or not!

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Junk Science? Number 10. Much more than placebo: Homeopathy reverses cancer.

This article is from, ´What Doctors don´t tell you´. They have asked that it is disseminated as widely as possible.

Doctors call it “nonsense on stilts”, professors of medicine have been bullying government and health authorities to stop offering it on the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), and yet studies paid for by the US government are showing that homeopathy could be our best defence against cancer. Several homeopathic remedies are as effective as powerful chemotherapy, according to clinical trials, and thousands of cancer cases are being reversed by homeopathy alone.

The extraordinary success of homeopathy remedies,which are diluted hundreds of times, against the most dreaded of diseases is being demonstrated every day at several homeopathic clinics in Kolkata (Calcutta) in India.

In one review of the work at the Prasanta Banerji Homeopathic Research Foundation, 21,888 patients with malignant tumours were treated only with homeopathy—they had neither chemotherapy nor radiotherapy—between 1990 and 2005. Clinical reports reveal that the tumours completely regressed in 19 per cent—or 4158—of cases, and stabilized or improved in a further 21 per cent (4596) of patients. Those whose tumours had stabilized were followed for between two and 10 years afterwards to monitor the improvement (Banerji, 2008).

This suggests that homeopathic remedies on their own are reversing, or certainly stabilizing, 40 per cent of all cancers, a success rate that matches the best results for conventional medicine, and without the debilitating effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

The foundation’s homeopathic therapy—the Banerji Protocol—has been independently tested under laboratory conditions, and two of the remedies used, Carcinosin and Phytolacca, were found to be as effective against breast cancer cells as the chemotherapy drug Taxol (Int J Oncol, 2010; 36: 395–403).

All of the remedies used at the foundation are available in shops, and Ruta 6 is one of several regularly prescribed. The Protocol refers to the foundation’s use of high-technology screening equipment and the mix of remedies—two practices that are contrary to Classical Homeopathy, which attempts to prescribe one precise remedy that fits with an individual’s mind/body profile.

Another clinic in Kolkata, the Advanced Homeopathic Healthcare Centre, claims similar levels of success with its cancer patients and, although well documented, they have not been subjected to the same level of scientific validation as the Prasanta Banerji Foundation.

Getting noticed

The work at the Banerji Foundation first came to the attention of the West in 1995 when Dr Prasanta Banerji and his son, Dr Pratip Banerji, presented a study at the 5th International Conference of Anti-cancer Research of 16 cases of brain tumour that had regressed, using only homeopathic remedies. At the time, they had been testing homeopathic remedies on cancer patients since 1992 at their Foundation, and they say they now treat around 120 cancer patients every day.

Dr Sen Pathak, professor of cell biology and genetics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) in Houston, approached the Banerjis and, together, they set up a trial to test two homeopathic remedies, Ruta 6 and Calcarea Phosphorica 3X, on 15 patients with brain tumours. Six of the seven patients with gliomas —a type of brain cancer— had complete regression. In an accompanying in vitro laboratory study, scientists noticed that the remedies induced death-signalling pathways in the cancer cells (Int J Oncol, 2003; 23: 975–82).

The result is astonishing. Gliomas are considered to be incurable; of 10,000 people diagnosed with malignant gliomas each year in the US alone, only around half are alive a year later, and just 25 per cent two years later (The Washington Post, 20 May 2008).

The scientists at MDACC were so impressed by the results that they started to offer homeopathic remedies as part of their range of cancer treatments.

In 1999, the US government’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) independently evaluated the Banerji Protocol on 10 patients with different kinds of cancers. In four cases of lung and oesophageal cancer, the NCI researchers confirmed that there had been partial responses to the homeo-pathic remedies. None of the patients had received any previous conventional cancer treatment.

The NCI concluded that there was sufficient evidence of efficacy to support further research into the protocol, an historic decision as it marked the first time that any official health institute in the US had worked with an alternative therapy for cancer treatment (Oncol Rep, 2008; 20: 69–74).

In the laboratory

To understand the mechanism of the homeopathic remedies on cancer cells, eight scientists from MDACC tested four remedies — Carcinosin 30C, Conium Maculatum 3C, Phytolacca Decandra 200C and Thuja Occidentalis 30C on two human breast-cancer cell lines. Around 5000 cells were exposed to the remedies and to a placebo, the solvent without the active ingredients of the remedies, for periods of between one and four days. The experiment was repeated three times.

Two of the remedies—Carcinosin and Phytolacca—achieved up to an 80-per-cent response, indicating that they caused apoptosis, or cell death. By comparison, the placebo solvent achieved only a 30-per-cent reduction, suggesting that the effect was more than twice that of the placebo.

Also, the effect was strongest with the greater dilution, (which, in the contrary world of homeopathic medicine, means more powerful), and for longer periods of exposure.

The remedies triggered an ‘apoptotic cascade’ that interfered with the cancer cells’ normal growth cycle and, yet, the surrounding healthy cells were untouched, the researchers found. In other words, they targeted only the cancer cells, whereas chemo-therapy drugs attack all growing cells. And, say the researchers, the effects of Carcinosin and Phytolacca were as powerful as Taxol (paclitaxel), the most commonly prescribed chemotherapy drug for breast cancer (Int J Oncol, 2010; 36: 395–403).

Rooting for Ruta

Although Carcinosin and Phytolacca fared well in the laboratory, many of the Foundation’s patients are taking the Ruta 6 remedy and with extraordinary success, according to one survey of 127 American patients with brain tumours, half of whom were at grade IV, the end-stage before death.

The tumours had completely disappeared, according to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, in 18 of the 127 patients who were taking only Ruta and no conventional treatment. Another nine patients had significant tumour regression. The tumours were stable in around half of all patients scanned, but had grown in around 27 patients. Overall, around 79 per cent of the brain-tumour patients surveyed saw either great or some benefit from Ruta.

In an earlier study by the Foundation among patients who were taking Ruta alongside con-ventional chemotherapy for brain tumours, 72 per cent derived some or great benefit from Ruta and chemotherapy combined, suggest-ing that Ruta on its own is more effective than—or certainly as effective as—the drug, and without its debilitating side-effects (http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/Ruta6).

In a separate study of brain-tumour cases—148 patients with malignant gliomas and 144 with meningiomas—treated at the Foundation between 1996 and 2001, the 91 patients who had been treated exclusively with Ruta and Calc Phos had an average survival time of 92 months, whereas 11 patients who had been treated conventionally, and used homeopathy as a supplement, survived for 20 months. In addition, 7 per cent of the homeopathy-only patients had a complete cure, 60 per cent were improved, 22 per cent were stable, with the cancer neither improving nor worsening, and 11 per cent saw their cancer worsen, or died (Prasanta Banerji Homeopathic Research Foundation, www.pbhrfindia.org).

The other clinic

There is a second homeopathic clinic in Kolkata that is, confusingly, also run by two P. Banerjis—Parimal and his son Paramesh. The clinic, the Advanced Homeopathic Healthcare Centre, has not attracted the same interest from the West; although its claims appear to be equally as impressive, they have not been independently verified.

Paramesh’s grandfather, Dr Pareshnath Banerji, opened a homeopathic clinic in India in 1918, and his work was continued by his son, Parimal, who adapted Classical Homeopathy into the new approach he calls ‘Advanced Homeopathy’.

With this method, he uses homeopathic remedies in the way a conventional doctor would use drugs, by treating one presenting symptom at a time; a cancer patient with pain would be treated for the pain first, for example. Parimal claims the approach is scientific, based on around 14 million cases dealt with through past generations of his family, with results that can be replicated by any trained practitioner.

The claims that the Banerjis make for Advanced Homeopathy are extraordinary. They say that 95 per cent of their patients do not need surgery, not even for major diseases, including cancer. Although the Centre has not undertaken any clinical trials, its case studies draw an impressive picture.

• A 65-year-old woman with advanced pancreatic cancer, whose tumour was too large to be removed and who refused all other conventional treatment, was alive two years after starting Advanced Homeopathy.

 • A 35-year-old man had a malignant nasal polyp so large that it completely filled the left nostril. Initially, he had the polyp surgically removed, but it grew back each time. However, since 2007, he has not had any surgery but, instead, has relied exclusively on Advanced Homeopathy, and the tumour has not grown back.

• A 14-year-old boy had advanced glioma so severe that it was pushing against the eyeball. His only treatment was Advanced Homeopathy, says the Centre and, within a year, all of his symptoms had disappeared; the boy had gone from a comatose state to running around and playing.

•A 24-year-old man with a brain tumour that had spread to his spinal cord—which could not be treated conventionally because of the risk of permanent paralysis—was treated with Advanced Homeopathy. According to MRI scans, the tumour stopped growing, and the patient was able to carry on with his life, free of symptoms.

Other Research

Outside of India, research into the effects of homeopathy on cancer is very limited, primarily because it is seen as being no better than a placebo and, so, is an unethical treatment. Because of this, most studies in the West have reviewed homeopathy as a palliative therapy to help patients cope with the rigours of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

In one study, 100 women with breast cancer completed a one-hour consultation with a homeopath who was asked to help with any three symptoms chosen by the women that were the result of conventional treatment. The 67 patients who completed the homeopathic treatment and the two follow-ups all reported “significant improvements” in their hot flashes, fatigue, anxiety and depression, although the remedies did not ease pain (Palliative Med, 2002; 16: 227–33).

In another study of women with breast cancer, the homeopathic remedy Verum was tested against placebo for treating hot flashes after taking the drug tamoxifen. In this experiment, 26 women were given Verum, 30 took Verum and a placebo, and 27 were given just a placebo. Both the combination- and single-remedy groups reported improvement in symptoms compared with those in the placebo group (J Altern Complement Med, 2005; 11: 21–7).

Homeopathy also helped ease some of the effects of radiotherapy in a group of 32 women with breast cancer. Hyperpigmentation, or darkening of the skin, after radiotherapy was reduced in the homeopathic group compared with 29 controls who did not receive homeopathy, and their overall side-effects were also reduced (Br Homeopath J, 2000; 89: 8–12).

The homeopathic remedy Traumeel, for skin and muscular problems, has been successfully tested in several trials. In one, it was given to 15 patients (aged three to 25 years), who had undergone stem-cell transplants for their cancer, to treat stomatitis (mouth ulcers). Compared with a placebo, which was given to 15 other patients, Traumeel “may reduce significantly” the severity and duration of stomatitis (Cancer, 2001; 92: 684–90). In a second study, Traumeel was tested on 20 patients with various cancers, again for treating stomatitis. It reduced the duration of symptoms to just six days, compared with 13 days in the placebo group (Biomed Ther, 1998; 16: 261–5).

Individualized homeopathic remedies helped a group of 45 women who had been treated for breast cancer. Homeopathy was prescribed to treat symptoms following oestrogen withdrawal; the severity of hot flashes and other symptoms—except for joint pain—decreased, while their general quality of life and well-being scores increased (Homeopathy, 2003; 92: 131–4). Another group of 20 women recovering from breast-cancer treatment, including tamoxifen, also reported improve-ment in the severity and frequency of their hot flashes (Homeopathy, 2002; 91: 75–9).

The black hole

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently joined the chorus in the West that maintains that homeopathy is nothing more than a placebo effect. Responding to a Voice of Young Science Network campaign, which is calling for a ban on the promotion of homeopathy in developing countries, the WHO stated that homeopathy is not a cure for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), tuberculosis or malaria.

Welcoming the WHO statement, Dr Robert Hagan, a member of the Voice of Young Science Network, commented: “We need governments around the world to recognize the dangers of promoting homeopathy for life-threatening illnesses” (BBC News, 20 August 2009; http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/ 8211925.stm).

Yet, homeopathy is doing just that in India. In that culture, homeopathy is accepted as a genuine medical therapy, and is governed by laws that ensure that homeopaths are properly trained and registered.

It is perplexing why good medical studies—which are supported by the US government and by leading American academics—are not being recog-nized, let alone discussed, in the West. Surely, cancer is so serious a threat that every avenue needs to be explored with an open mind, and not left to the drug and academic cabals. Conventional medicine does not offer any genuinely effective solutions and, yet, blocks anything that might, especially something as “impossible” and “nonsensical” to their science as homeopathy.

Bryan Hubbard

Factfile A: Homeopathy in India

Mahatma Gandhi, the father of modern India, described homeopathy as a “refined method of treating patients economically and non-violently. Government must encourage and patronize it in our country.”

And so they did. In 1960, the Maharashtra Act—also known as the ‘Bombay Act’—set up a court of examiners, concerned with the teaching of homeopathy and the creation of new colleges to do so, and a board of homeopathy, which regulated and licensed practitioners.

Nine years later, a new act was passed that created a central council to govern homeopathy and Ayurveda, India’s traditional medical system. In 1973, the Homeopathy Central Council Act was passed, which standardized homeopathic education and allowed homeopaths to practice in different states throughout the country.

The legislation formalized a rich tradition of homeopathy in India that began in 1839, when Romanian doctor John Martin Honigberger successfully treated the Maharaja of the Punjab for paralysis of the vocal cords. Honigberger had been taught homeopathy by Dr Samuel Hahnemann, its creator, and became convinced of its efficacy when he treated himself for malaria. After treating the Maharaja, Honigberger moved to Calcutta, where he was known as the ‘cholera doctor’ because of his successful treatment of the disease using homeopathic remedies.

In 1867, Dr Salzar from Vienna began teaching homeopathy in India, and two of his students went on to create the first homeopathic college in India in 1878.

However, the British rulers were not sympathetic to homeopathy, and it began to flourish in India only after the country achieved independence in 1947.

Factfile B: Not just water

Scientists and doctors say homeopathy is a nonsense because of the high dilution of the active ingredient. Most remedies are diluted beyond Avogadro’s number, which is the final concentration at which molecules of the original substance can still exist.

Any homeopathic remedy with a potency of 12C (in other words, 1200 dilutions) or greater is beyond the Avogadro number, suggesting that only water is left. This means that any effect of homeopathy must be due to the placebo, or ‘feel-good’, factor, say sceptics.

But homeopathy turns conventional science and medicine on its head: it contends that greater dilutions have greater potency and, so, the more dilutions, the more powerful the remedy.

Conventional science doesn’t have a model to explain how homeopathy works and, yet, a meta-analysis of 75 studies concluded that 67 of them demonstrated an effect well beyond that of placebo (Complement Ther Med, 2007; 15: 128–38). The effects have also been seen using highly sophisticated measuring technology, such as:

• calorimetry, which measures the amount of heat given off by a sample (J Therm Anal Calorim, 2004; 75: 815–36);

• spectroscopy, which measures how a substance absorbs and emits electromagnetic radiation (Homeopathy, 2007; 96: 175–82); and

• thermoluminescence, which measures the amount of light produced by a sample when heated (Physica A, 2003; 323: 67–74).

Succussion, or vigorous agitation, is as important as very high dilutions in creating the remedies. One study even measured the effectiveness of two highly diluted therapies, one succussed and one not, and found a difference between the two (Biochim Biophys Acta, 2003; 1621: 253–60).

Factfile C: The new science of water

Undaunted by the public ridicule of his compatriot Jacques Benveniste and his theory that water has a memory, Nobel prize-winning virologist Luc Montagnier has confirmed that water does indeed retain frequencies, even at levels of dilutions as used in homeopathy.

Montagnier, who was awarded the Nobel prize for his discovery of a link between HIV and AIDS, has found that solutions containing the DNA of viruses and bacteria “could emit low-frequency radio waves”. These waves influence the molecules around them, turning them into organized structures. In turn, these organized molecules also emit waves.

Confirming what homeopaths have said for several centuries, Montagnier has discovered that these information-emitting waves remain in water even after it has been diluted, often to levels regularly prescribed in homeopathy (Interdiscip Sci, 2009; 1: 81–90).

Montagnier’s discoveries mirror those of French immunologist Jacques Benveniste, who spent the last 15 years of his life investigating water and its ability to ‘remember’ substances, even after it had been diluted many times.

However, after having had his original paper published in the prestigious Nature journal (Nature, 1988; 333: 816–8), Benveniste was visited at his laboratory by the journal’s editor John Maddox and ‘quackbusting’ magician James Randi.

They said that Benveniste was unable to replicate the findings that inspired his original paper, effectively accusing him of being a ‘quack’ and, thus, ruining his reputation.

Factfile D: Homeopathy and the NHS

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) spends around £100 billion a year, and £4 million of it on homeopathy, mainly by funding the UK’s four homeopathic hospitals.

Even though the expenditure is negligible, doctors continue to call for its complete abolition in the NHS. Groups of doctors have pressed primary care trusts (PCTs) to stop offering homeopathy to local patients, while the British Medical Association (BMA)—the doctors’ trade union—has called on the UK government to ban it outright.

The BMA meeting, where one doctor described homeopathy as “nonsense on stilts”, also called on the government to place all homeopathic remedies in pharmacies under a special ‘Placebo’ section (Mail Online, 2 July 2010; www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1290861/Homeopathy-remedies-labelled-placebos-banned-NHS-say-leading-doctors.html).

WDDTY Vol. 22, 12. March 2012

http://www.wddty.com/

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