Astroturf and Homeopathy

Homeopathy has an over 200 year history of effectiveness and safety. It is used by tens of millions of people with satisfactory and even brilliant results for both acute and chronic conditions. In the early 2000’s, pharmaceutical companies, worried about homeopathy’s impact on  their marketing efforts in countries like India and Brazil, hired public relations people to develop and implement hidden strategies to attack and denigrate homeopathy and homeopaths.

In this Ted Talk, Sharyl Attkisson a media expert, describes how these manipulative media methods have impacted public perception and “truth.” and particularly how this has been used by the pharmaceutical industry. She gives the term “astroturf” to the method of making something artificial seem like a real grassroots’  movement on public media when it is not. This sponsored “astroturf movement” against homeopathy and the distortion of information as described by her has impacted the public perception of homeopathy.

Sharyl Attkisson also talks about the problematic situation with Wikipedia where many times experts in a particular field are not allowed to edit entries, and where Wikipedia allows special interests and favours them. This is evident in the homeopathy wikipedia entry, where Dana Ullman MPH, who is a world wide expert in homeopathy and has a Masters in Public Health has been prevented completely from editing and contributing to the Wikipedia entry on homeopathy. Instead, non experts on homeopathy and pharmaceutical representatives are only allowed.

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Celebrities Get Their Favourite Homeopathic Remedy Inked

UK Celebrities who are also fans of homeopathy have shown up with their favourite homeopathic remedies painted as art on their bodies. Some homeopathic remedies are made from plants and the beautiful Jo Wood, Stacey Dooley and Janey Lee Grace “revealed the natural cures they swear by for wellbeing and health.” British Homeopathic Association Chief Executive, Cristal Sumner said of the campaign: “We are so pleased to have such strong, beautiful women endorsing our campaign and talking about their own experiences with homeopathy.

CelebsHomeopathy

TV presenter Stacey Dooley is a big fan, using homeopathic remedies to calm her nerves. And also swears by atural remedies to beat the flu (that and turnips, eh?).

“It might seem odd that I choose to do a job which involves a lot of long haul flights when I’m a very nervous flyer,” Stacey said. “I first discovered homeopathy when a friend suggested trying it to overcome my phobia of flying and I haven’t looked back since – it really has worked!

British singer and DJ Janey Lee Grace added that homeopathy can work wonders for many female-specific health concerns.

“I’m passionate about 100 per cent natural health and wellbeing, and believe that it’s so valuable for people to take responsibility for their health, and to try a natural approach,” she explained. “I was first introduced to homeopathy 15 years ago when I was pregnant with my first child. I gave birth in a fabulous hospital where the midwives prescribed homeopathy during labour.

“Later I used homeopaths to sort all manner of the kids’ illnesses. For the campaign, I’ve had diamonds (Adamas) painted onto my neck – the remedy is used by homeopaths to treat severe depression, and also can help women in the menopause.

Yahoo Lifestyle

2013 Sees Governments in Europe Defining the Practice and Educational Standards of Homeopathy

As homeopathy has been officially established in most European countries for over a century and is the number one alternative medicine practice, governments are now defining its practice more carefully. Switzerland, after a lengthy government investigation concluded that homeopathy is beneficial and an important part of health care and as such is now officially funding its practice through their national health scheme.

Other countries like Germany and France have a vital and well established homeopathic professional community. In 2013, Portugal, Belgium and Italy have passed special parliamentary Acts to establish homeopathy practice in law and define the practice and educational standards for professional homeopaths.

From the European Council for Homeopathy Web site:

In July, 2013 the Portuguese Parliament adopted a bill regulating 7 non-conventional (also called complementary) therapies including homeopathy, acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, naturopathy, herbal medicine, osteopathy and chiropractics. The law came into force on 2 September (Lei No. 71/2013) and in fact revived the 10-year old Law 45/2003 that was never implemented. The new law stipulates that these CAM modalities can only be practised by professionals with higher education qualifications and a publicly registered professional license.

Access to the registers of these CAM professions will depend on the ownership of a degree in one of the therapies, obtained following an education consistent with the requirements set by members of the Government responsible for health and higher education. Requirements for the practice of these modalities should follow the WHO guidelines and those issued by the Portuguese Agency for Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Education and the Directorate-General of Health.

The exercise of the professions is permitted only to holders of a professional license issued by the Central Administration of the Health System. A register will allow identification of the health professionals holding the adequate qualifications. The use of professional titles is only permitted to holders of such a license.

In Belgium, on the 12th of July 2013, the Belgian Council of Ministers decided that homeopathy is a medical act. Only medical doctors, dentists and midwives are entitled to practise homeopathy, dentists and midwives only within their competence.

The Council of Ministers based their approval on the official recommendation given by the Belgian Minister of Public Health, Ms Laurette Onkelinx – formulated after 21 meetings of the Unio Homeopathica Belgica representatives and university professors with Health Ministry representatives. With this decision, the Colla law on non-conventional practices (named after Minister Colla), adopted by the Belgian Parliament in 1999, can finally be fully implemented after 14 years of struggle. This law only regulates human medicine. The practice of homeopathy by veterinary doctors will be discussed in a separate commission.

In Italy, on 7 February 2013, the State and the Regions and Autonomous Provinces Conference approved the national rules for the education in Complementary Medicine. The process which led to this important event started in 2007, when the Tuscan Regional Council approved the Regional Law of Tuscany n. 9/2007, which regulates education and practice of Complementary Medicine (CM) by medical doctors, dentists, pharmacists and veterinarians. The legislation stipulates that Regional Professional Associations are to draw up lists of professional experts in CM based on the requirements defined by the Regional Law and by the Regional Committee for CM education, and to issue a specific certification.
On 20 December 2012, a proposal of National Agreement among the State and the Regions and Autonomous Provinces on rules of CM education, that includes at the moment only medical doctors and dentists, was approved by all the Italian Regional Presidents and finally the Agreement was officially signed on 7 February 2013.

Now Italy is one of the few European countries with a national law stating the rules for education in Complementary Medicine.

The agreement defines the training and accreditation of complementary medicine professionals and education institutions and  provides for the establishment of lists of CM professionals who practice acupuncture, herbal medicine and homeopathy. Those wishing to register must have a certificate issued by accredited public and private training centres and must have completed a course of no less than 500 training hours, included 100 hours of clinical practice, after having passed a theoretical and practical exam and discussed a thesis. Courses for medical doctors cannot last less than 3 years.

Montreal Gazette Newspaper Publishes Pharmaceutical Industry Funded Anti-Homeopathy “Research”

The Montreal Gazette has published a number of articles by a pharmaceutical industry funded chemist who is attacking homeopathy, consumers of homeopathy and practitioners. We have learned that the newspaper has not published any letters from pro- homeopathy sources except for one opinion by a leader of a consumer movement supporting homeopathy. Nor have they revealed the source of the chemist’s funding. So we publish this letter to the editor which was sent to us . The letter has been adapted and edited for this web site:

Joe  Schwarcz a chemist who claims to have done some anti-homeopathy “research”  is being funded to publicly malign homeopathy by a Director of a pharmaceutical company and owner of one of the leading companies in the design and manufacturing of pharmaceutical packaging. The funder’s bias is clear and rather than real research, Joe Schwarcz offers highly publicized negative opinions. And so the question has to be asked, is Joe Schwarcz, who is completely untrained in medicine, really giving consumers a fair view of homeopathy, a 200 year old alternative to pharmaceutical medicine?

As pharmaceutical companies seek more emerging markets such as in India and Brazil, where homeopathy is popular, they are attempting world wide to malign its positive, safe and effective results. This is in the form of funding “skeptic” groups and individuals. 

There are many scientific studies showing homeopathy has beneficial effect for a myriad of medical problems.  Particularly in France and Germany where it is used by 1000s of well trained (in science) Medical Doctors.

For example, a long term study approved by the French National Data-Protection Commission and The French National Council of Physicians has shown that homeopathy patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain had a 50 percent reduced use of conventional pain medication, while homeopathy patients with acute musculoskeletal pain had a 38 percent reduced use.

Another example is a study using a homeopathic remedy with menopausal women experiencing hot flashes in 35 active gynaecologists’ practices in France showing dramatic success. Researchers are now recommending it as a “new therapeutic option with a safe profile for hot flashes in menopausal women”

What would be more valuable for readers of that newspaper would be to interview the medical doctors,  gynaecologists and researchers who led these studies. It would be good to hear from Medical doctors who positively embrace homeopathy rather than a chemist funded by pharmaceutical company interests.

New Study: Homeopathy Valid and Effective in Acute Coughs

Pulmonary Pharmacology Journal has published a study on using homeopathic remedies in acute coughs. The conclusion was that the “homeopathic syrup employed in the study was able to effectively reduce cough severity and sputum viscosity, thereby representing a valid remedy for the management of acute cough induced by URTIs.”

Homeopathic medicine for acute cough in upper respiratory tract infections and acute bronchitis: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

Zanasi A, Mazzolini M, Tursi F, Morselli-Labate AM, Paccapelo A, Lecchi M.

Pulm Pharmacol Ther. 2013 May 25.

Abstract:

Cough is a frequent symptom associated to upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) and, although being self-limiting, it might deeply affect the quality of life. Homeopathic products are often employed by patients to treat cough, but the evidence on their efficacy is scarce. Thus, we tested the efficacy of a homeopathic syrup in treating cough arising from URTIs with a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial. Patients were treated with either the homeopathic syrup or a placebo for a week, and recorded cough severity in a diary by means of a verbal category-descriptive score for two weeks. Sputum viscosity was assessed with a viscosimeter before and after 4 days of treatment; patients were also asked to provide a subjective evaluation of viscosity. Eighty patients were randomized to receive placebo (n = 40) or the homeopathic syrup (n = 40). All patients completed the study. In each group cough scores decreased over time, however, after 4 and 7 days of treatment, cough severity was significantly lower in the homeopathic group than in the placebo one (P < 0.001 and P = 0.023, respectively). Sputum was collected from 53 patients: in both groups its viscosity significantly decreased after 4 days of treatment (P < 0.001); however, viscosity was significantly lower in the homeopathic group (P = 0.018). Instead, the subjective evaluation did not significantly differ between the two groups (P = 0.059). No adverse events related to any treatment were reported. We concluded that the homeopathic syrup employed in the study was able to effectively reduce cough severity and sputum viscosity, thereby representing a valid remedy for the management of acute cough induced by URTIs.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23714686

Inaugural Research Conference in Barcelona Extremely Successful

The inaugural International Homeopathy Research Conference, hosted by The Homeopathy Research Institute (HRI) was held on May 31- June 2nd, 2013 in Barcelona Spain. At this landmark event, researchers, practitioners, students and those with an interest in homeopathy research, heard from world experts about their latest findings and cutting edge research.

An amazing number of studies were enthusiastically presented. The science and research behind homeopathy was shown to be obviously alive and well.

Interest in homeopathy research has grown dramatically over recent years, both within the homeopathic profession and externally. This reflects the ever-increasing emphasis being placed on evidence based medicine across all modalities and the crucial role rigorous research is now playing in the development of homeopathy.

Cutting Edge Research in Homeopathy is a rare event in the worldwide conference calendar. Usually homeopathy research sessions are embedded within events covering homeopathy as a whole, or form part of CAM-wide research events. The HRI is proud to be hosting a two and a half day event dedicated solely to homeopathy research, providing a forum for the sharing of ideas and the creation of international scientific collaborations.- From the web site

Check out more about this event.

 

 

Chair of Mayo Clinic Internal Medicine Department Praises Alternative Medicine

In a recent article in The Atlantic, many main stream medical doctors such as Dr. Gertz have come out in favour of homeopathy in spite of venomous attacks by skeptics. The author of the article writes:

 Morie Gertz, a hematologist, who chairs the Mayo Clinic’s internal-medicine department: “Most of the doctors here were top of their medical-school class, top of their residency, blah, blah, blah,” he told me. “That’s technical mastery. That doesn’t make them effective healers. Over the past 30 years, I’ve seen hundreds of patients who clearly feel they’ve benefited from alternative therapies. It’s not my job to tell them they shouldn’t feel better. And I wouldn’t tell patients they shouldn’t try alternative medicine if they want to—we need to follow the clues patients give us about what might help them. If a patient chooses to walk away from the therapy I’ve prescribed and go to an alternative therapist instead, that’s not the fault of alternative medicine; it’s because I’ve failed as a doctor to do a good job of making my case in terms that are important to the patient.”

Gertz is among the many physicians who dismiss the lack of supportive randomized-trial data as a reason to write off alternative medicine. “The randomized trial is a very high bar,” he says. “Eighty percent of what I do here isn’t based on randomized-trial data.”

Physicians routinely write “off-label” prescriptions, Gertz says—that is, prescriptions that call for drugs to treat conditions for which those drugs have not been officially approved. It’s a perfectly legal and ethical practice, and even one that physicians consider essential, accounting for about a fifth of all U.S. prescriptions. “It’s off-label not because it doesn’t work, but because there’s no good randomized-trial data on it. In the same way, we may not have great evidence that alternative medicine works, but that’s very different from saying it doesn’t work.”