Arnold L Goldman, D.V.M.  
Canton, CT

Specialties: general practice

Interests: critical care, oncology, surgery
Canton Animal Hospital LLC
Canton, CT
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The Myth & Immorality of Homeopathy

Jul 03, 2010 - 35 comments

Today's popular press often extols the supposed virtues of more "natural" ways of living, and approaching illness. There are a wide variety of theories and modalities, that together make up the broad category known as "complementary and alternative medicine (and veterinary medicine)." These approaches to health and disease are not monolithic and therefore their merits or lack thereof cannot be discussed as a category. Each must be examined alone.

Logic tells us that there can only be one medicine: that which works, and everything else, with the everything else being "not medicine." Values, beliefs, hopes and biases infuse the way people feel about their bodies, their health and the way medical care is provided to them, however. Those psychological attributes of people, sometimes go against what is known about medical science and common sense.

Homeopathy is one such case. If it is true, then what we know about chemistry cannot be. If it is false, which I believe it is, it is at best a benign placebo, but as you shall read in the embedded link, it is at worst  a harmful form of charlatanism, perpetrated on people (and animals owned by like minded people) who are at their most vulnerable and at risk. That is an immoral circumstance.

The fact that all is not known in medical science, and that some disease cannot be cured, much less palliated, does not justify selling fraud infused with false hope. Real palliation involves treating for the treatable, providing pain relief using real analgesic drugs when necessary, and the giving of psychological comfort by listening to  the patient where possible. It is time to finally pound a wooden stake through this travesty of lies that is the vampire known as homeopathy.

See this pictorial blog to understand why. You'll be glad you did:


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by Jaybay, Jul 03, 2010
Outstanding blog!  I completely agree that homeopathy is a dangerous fraud, but then I also had the benefit of having a chemist for a father.  He never suffered a specious or unsound argument in his presence.  :-)

Homeopathy and other alternative miracle medical treatments appeal to the uneducated, desperate, and credulous portion of the public, and there are more than enough of that element to support the multi-billion dollar alternative medical treatment industry.  Why don't we ever hear about the "Big Homeo" or "Big Herbal" industry?  

In my opinion, some of the worst fraudulent products ever perpetrated on the public at large are the colon cleansers.  They're all prefaced on the idea that waste is packed in the colon for years and years "like spackle or paste" and causes anything from the common cold to cancer.  Only Colon Blow can get rid of this toxic goo and restore health.  Right.  Ask anyone who ever went through a colonoscopy prep if they had anything left in there.  Ask any gastro doc how he explains the photos of a squeaky-clean colon without the use of Colon Blow?  It's nothing but high-power fiber, and in the case of really nasty manufacturers, a dash of betonite for visual effect.  "Ooooh!  Look at all that rubbery junk that just came out of me!  I'd better go buy MORE Colon Blow until it's all gone!"  Of course, thanks to the betonite it's never all gone so the fraud victim keeps spending money and getting sicker every day from whatever the underlying cause of his ill-health was to begin with.  I thank God and my parents that I was never that gullible.

A cousin of mine is very much into alternative medicine and has been pushing Willard's Water on me for as long as I can remember.  She's gone so overboard on this crap that one of her dogs suffered for months from a horrific 10" rip in her thigh.  The bone showed through the wound and became infected.  Antibiotics?  Stitches?  Nope.  Thrice daily dousings of Willard's Water and nothing for pain.  The dog somehow survived but the leg is useless.  Now this same cousin has my 89-year-old mother-in-law using Willard's Water instead of her thyroid and diabetes medication.  I don't expect the MIL to last much longer, but she won't be swayed.  She isn't going to take anything her doctor prescribes and that's the end of that, even though she constantly complains that she feels terrible.

Somewhat off-topic, but I'll include some chiropractors in the quack category as well.  I had a really good one years ago who helped get my adhesion-packed knee mobile again.  He practice is dedicated to sports medicine only, and he has no problem referring people to an MD when he knows he can't help or will make the injury worse.  Treatment was really more along the lines of physical therapy, and he wouldn't go near a spine without an x-ray or even an MRI.

My sister has lumbar DDD and someone referred her to the craziest quackterpractor I've ever heard of.  This guy swears he's cured epilepsy, cancer, mental illness - you name it, he can not only improve it but cure it!   A few months of expensive therapy and her lower back was better - as long as she went in for her adjustments every week.  Then her neck went south a couple months ago.  The quack does his cervical adjustments and it gets worse.  He says she needs treatment more often so she coughs up more money she can't afford to lose.  Finally Sis can't move from the pain shooting down her arms and back, and I convince her to go to a neurosurgeon.  She just had anterior discectomy and fusion with plating for FOUR cervical discs.  Sis still refuses to believe her quack treatments made it worse.  Funny how that western-medicine surgeon got rid of her terrible pain and she's improving by leaps and bounds.

All you can do is try to educate and hope people will actually listen and learn.  I feel your frustration in the face of so bad medicine and too many people who so desperately want believe in the cheap and easy Cure that whatever little reason and logic they have left gets smashed to pieces.  (Love the stake and vampire analogy by the way!)  Hang in there.  We're not all nuts.  ;-)

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by ginger899, Jul 03, 2010
I read the blog, and it is always a good idea not to be influenced by charlatanism, especially in medical matters. There's plenty of it about. Some of it is deliberate (which seems to me the greatest evil) -and some of it is desperation....and some of it is foolishness, and preys on: lack of faith in science/apprehension about side effects of traditional medicine/sheer 'last-resort-ism'.

I admit to having a curiosity about homeopathy....a kind of love/hate relationship with it. I'll tell you why in a minute.
I would not rely on it and would not propose it as a sure-fire form of treatment. I investigate it, have used it, and used it on my dogs, but if push came to shove, would not rely on it and not for any serious or life threatening ailment whatsoever.
Now, the reason I have a love/hate thing with it is because of these experiences:

(Many years ago) Severe, unremitting sinus pain that went on for a week. Nothing would shift it. I tried everything, even the painkillers weren't doing the trick. They were masking the pain to some extent, but not getting at the roots. OK I probably needed a strong antibiotic. But I have such a terrible reaction to antibiotics (with the exception of Amoxycillin which I can just about tolerate) However, I was not prescribed Amoxycillin but something else. I just couldn't bring myself to start taking them (the reactions are truly horrible!) A friend suggested homeopathy. I was extremely cynical. "Sea salt! Diluted in water until there's nothing THERE! That's sheer crazy! How the heck can THAT work?" I said.
Out of desperation, I started taking them (2 every 2 hours for 6 doses) I had no hope whatsoever of them working! I was crying with pain by this stage.  Believe me, I knew that Sea Salt, diluted infinitessimally until there was zilch left of anything except thin air was NOT going to work.
About midnight, I realized I felt .....calmer? (Can't tell you what it was but felt different)
Slept.....woke up about 10 hours later! Felt like I'd been 'hit with a brick' but oh boy, there was no pain! And from that moment on, the horrid sinus agony and fever and nausea .....just passed away.

Second curious incident:
The farmer who lives near me had a bout of mastitis in his herd. The VET(!) suggested he tried a homeopathic treatment added to the cows' drinking water. (as he only wanted to use antibiotics as a last resort) The truth was that herd improved almost immediately, and within a very short time (about the same amount of time a course of antibiotics would have taken to work) -the mastitis was history.

Third curious incident:
My dog had a broken leg when she was very young. The vet said it may cause arthritis in later years. Sure enough, she started to 'hitch' that leg a little in damp weather. I used a homeopathic remedy (informing the vet I would give it a try before I would have to constantly give her painkilling drugs, which I didn't want to do unless absolutely necessary) and the homeopathic tablets absolutely and definitely made a marked difference to her! It was not co-incidence. I was aware they were not getting to the source of the issue however, as her problem did recur occasionally, for very short duration. (Now she is on full dose Glucosamine/Chondroitin which apparently HAS got to the source of the issue  -for her at least, as there has not been one occasion when she has 'hitched' that leg since starting her on those tablets.

But the homeopathic tablets did definitely help her at the times I gave them to her. That is for sure. Take a dog who has started favouring a leg a bit, with a trace of a limp.....give it 2 pills 3 times a day.....see what happens the next day.....no limp.....and it goes away for weeks.....it obviously was making some difference beyond co-incidence.

I'm not fixed at all in my opinion of homeopathy though. It might sound as if I am TOTALLY on the side of it, but I am not. Where the 'hate' side comes in is if people make rash uneducated guesswork concerning their health or their pet's health, take their treatment  (and often diagnosis!) into their own hands, and put life and limb at risk.
That should never be done. (By the way, I was interested in feedback about homeopathic alternatives to vaccinations, on the Pet Health Chat, so put my question in. I know nothing about this, and would not choose to use this method over traditional vaccinations. That would be far too dangerous. But I appreciated your helpful comments on that, Dr Goldman.)
But all I can say is I am curious, having experienced what I did with homeopathy. But have reservations.

I know, it is absolutely illogical!

As far as I see, if a thing actually WORKS to provide relief or healing, then it doesn't matter if it doesn't make sense -or what. If it works, that's all we need.

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by Arnold L Goldman, D.V.M.Blank, Jul 04, 2010
Dear ginger899,

Curiosity is the sign of an open mind, one that hopes to learn, and its a good thing.

Where unproven, indeed in this case, disproven modalities (I avoid the word "therapies" because of the implication of effectiveness that word embodies) do their harm is when minds are not curious, not skeptical, not open to hearing truth and then decisions are made based on erroneous ideas.

Anecdotes of supposed benefit, as you have recounted, suffer from two major logical flaws. The first is that just because things happen near in time to each other, they are not necessarily related. The second is, just because one event follows another, doesn't necessarily mean the first was the cause of the second. Coincidence, and the natural waxing and waning signs of illness as well as the body's inherent response to illness are underappreciated and more common than is realized. Sinus discomfort and mastitis may be self limited conditions, that given otherwise healthful circumstances may clear themselves. Arthritis and chronic arthritis, especially as in osteoarthritis, are known to run a waxing and waning course.

We often say, in veterinary medicine, that animals often get well in spite of our ministrations. In other words the natural course of disease most commonly worsens and recedes normally, all the way until the bodies compensatory mechanisms are exceeded or exhausted. That inconvenient truth has provided much undeserved credit for a variety of so called "complementary" and "alternative" modalities throughout history.

A good rule of thumb is that medical treatments should be specific for their intended disease. Treatments that are looking for a specific use for themselves are suspect.

You have yourself stated your belief in homeopathy is illogical. Its good that you recognize that it is a belief. My job here is to make sure everyone else also understands and recognizes when they are acting on belief rather than proven science. If they dont, more animals will be under-treated for otherwise treatable disease. That's when people's beliefs should fall away in the face of what is known in medicine and science. For example, there are no such things as homeopathic alternatives to vaccines if one expects them to work. There are genuine vaccines that work and there are other things that dont. Such things always seem to "work" when there is no disease exposure. Exposure can't be predicted. Your pet, your dice game. I just hope you dont come up "snake eyes" when it matters most.

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by caregiver222, Jul 04, 2010
I would urge the reading of the book "The Biology of Belief" by Dr. Bruce Lipton, before condemning those who believe in homeopathy. I am not defending this system of medicine. What I am suggesting  is that belief in a cure often produces a cure.

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by adgal, Jul 04, 2010
I have also tried homeopathic remedies on occasion, depending on the situation.  I have been fortunate enough to have not had anything that is life threatening, but know that if I did I would rely on medical science above and beyond everything else.  I like homeopathic remedies for things like mild pain killers, throat soothers, etc.  I also am using a homeopathic remedy on my son who is currently teething (I spoke to our Pediatrician before hand about it. Her feeling was that there was no proof it did work, however there was nothing in it that could harm him).  So I guess what I am saying is, I like it to treat symptoms rather then actual diseases.  I have known others who have spent all they have out of desperation and I do believe they were conned.  I think there is a place for homeopathic remedies, but I also think that using them in lieu of medical science is not wise.  At least, I wouldn't stake my life on them.

Avatar universal
by teko, Jul 04, 2010
When my children were young, they would get poison ivy. Bad, eyes swelled shut, it was terrible! I ran into an old woman one day and she told me an old time cure. She said to put a little bit of clorox in their bath at night. I never had to take one of them to the doctor for poison ivy again, ever. Yet the doctor always prescibed stuff that did not seem to work, I always wondered why HE never told me this simple solution.

I also had another old person tell me that if you soak your feet in tea, it cures athletes foot as well as that infection that gets under the nails that make them thick and ugly. I told my mother about it who had the condition and it did in fact cure it and she was able to wear sandals again after many years.

I think medicine has its place, especially for major illness, but I also believe some of the other stuff works as well. I dont usually agree with margy on anything, lol  but on this I totally agree. What is really going on?

Avatar universal
by teko, Jul 04, 2010
I would only add that lipitor and some of those meds caused my husband all kinds of problems until they took him off of them. He has a form of psoriasis on his hands that was caused from the meds and suffers from it permanantly, no cure, and it can spread inward and to other parts of the body. I think that the theory on alternative medicine can apply to the current meds as well.

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by adgal, Jul 04, 2010
Our Dr. actually often tells me to use more natural remedies for things.  When I was still nursing my son and he had the beginning of a cold, he told me to eat chicken soup with lots of garlic in it.  When my little guy had an eye infection (mild) he told me to squirt breast milk in his eye, and if that didn't work, then to use the cream he prescribed.  The breast milk worked.  He is a physician, not a homeopathic Dr., but there have been many occasions where he has suggested homeopathic remedies for mild issues.  He is from the Middle East (and is still properly certified here in Canada), and perhaps it's a cultural thing. But I like it and have found his suggestions to work on many occasions.  He still does not hesitate to use modern medicine....my husband is on lipitor and has responded well.  I am on an anti anxiety medication for Post Partum Depression, and again it's working well.  But he does use a combination and I will admit, I like his approach.

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by Jaybay, Jul 04, 2010
If you all didn't read the blog link that Dr. Goldman posted, you need to read it.  I think you're mistaking what the true definition of homeopathy is.  I suspect what many here are thinking about is herbal remedies.  Herbals are not homeopathic remedies.  Homeopathic and "home remedy" are two different animals.  I'm all for using many herbals.  Many have been proven effective.  Homeopathic remedies are merely... water.  Read the blog.

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by adgal, Jul 04, 2010
Thanks Jaybay.  I will fully admit I was not distinguishing between the two.  I will go and read the link.  Thanks for pointing that out!

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by margypops, Jul 04, 2010
I believe in homeopathy aswell as all alternative meds ..his blog most definatly was not simpy about homeopathy or are you saying he does indeed think all alternative and complimentary meds are okay ? Instead of you speaking for him Perhaps  Dr Goldman would like to enlarge on the subject...as so many of us actually do believe in Homeopathy ....

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by peggy64, Jul 04, 2010
Homeopathy is included in Alternative meds. That is the problem.   When you take away Alternative meds you are also taking away not only homeopathic types, but herbs, vits and minerals.

And this is what this is about. Taking away peoples rights to take the type treatments they prefer.  Western medicine has its place, and it has last place in my book. I will take them, but it will be a last resort.

The thing with western meds is nowadays, they just treat the symptoms, they don't really cure anything. I am not into "treating" illnesses. I "treat" myself to ice cream and expensive dark chocolates. I want those illnesses CURED.

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by ginger899, Jul 04, 2010
That's true. Herbal medicine and homeopathic medicine are two entirely different things. Though homeopathy does make use of herbal sources sometimes (Camomilla & Rhus Tox, for example.)

I would like to clarify: I don't BELIEVE in homeopathy, it certainly isn't that strong a conviction. I do have an open mind when it comes to therapies though. I am exceedingly CURIOUS about any form of healing, if, and only if, there has been any improvement noticed by people (or myself, or animals) using those therapies. That's how I feel about homeopathy. The three instances of "curious happenings" that I talked about, I was interested to experience, but of course what Dr Goldman said about the conditions themselves having maybe outrun their course naturally by the point the homeopathic medicine was taken -is a distinct possibility. That does deserve to be considered as a possible reason for the turning point in the conditions, which apparently responded to homeopathic treatment.

I was very curious to do a little of my own research, and get any possible feedback about the use of homeopathic Nosodes in lieu of vaccinations. I so far have found nothing at all that would induce me to use this treatment instead of annual booster innoculations for my dog! I have found a lot of things that have made me feel both options could be unsafe. But the degree to which the annual innoculations may be unsafe are FAR outweighed by the severity of the fatal illnesses themselves, the boosters are designed to offer protection for.
My curiosity began when my dog had a very upset digestion after her innoculations, and I thought I would investigate the homeopathic argument. My mind was absolutely made up however NOT to use this method over traditional vaccines. I am pretty sure no alternative soution could offer proper protection.
(On that subject, I feel the best route to go if anyone is afraid of over-burdening a pet's immune system with annual vaccines, is the "Titer Test" which would show if natural immunity still remained, as long as it was fully ascertained how LONG that remaining immunity would last for, and the boosters scheduled appropriately)

But I do certainly agree that while it could be ok and safe to 'try out' homeopathic, or other remedies for some minor problems....you never know! They might work! Honey -for instance works remakably well on minor burns, some rashes, etc. There are hundreds of accounts of good resonses to some odd-sounding 'folksy' remedies.....we all do really have to possess enough wits, instinct, and common sense to tell WHEN they are not working, and we need to go to the doctor, and which ailments should never be experimented with at all, for one second when we should go straight away to the doctor!
Some of those folksy remedies have a good scientific basis anyway.

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by margypops, Jul 04, 2010
Whilst you are reading the blog I suggest that you reading the first few sentences , of exactly what he is saying ....he is not simply talking about Homeopathy .You are inferring he is talking solely about homeopathy ....he is not ...

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by peggy64, Jul 04, 2010
Don't forget Vinegar!

Now I am not saying that western medicine has not been beneficial. I would be remiss if I thought that, but before the western medicine came along, people took care of some ailments with a "natural" way of living, and these do respond well to natural treatment. Why not use natural remedies when possible as these are the least destructive on the liver for one thing. And, I have taken some RX meds before, that the side effects caused me to resort to 2 other rx's. I was thinking here, I am taking 2 rx's to take this one, when in all reality I can use a more natural treatment. So, that is what I did. AND, it was a lot more cost prohibitive.

I know, I don't want the government coming in and taking that away as well.

Lets just not be so quick to say that this or that doesn't work with such certainty, when we are really only going on what we "think" we know.

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by margypops, Jul 04, 2010
Yes  peg  yeeeeha good old Vinegar...I have dabbed it on my hives,and the smelt like fish and chips ...a la English style all day , it does work ,better that the hydroxyzine I was prescribed or the predisone that made me sick ...a relative had Gerd he drank Apple cider vinegar ...and he's not nuts ,it helps his pain ...of course we would be remiss if we were dumb enough not to rely on some conventional medicine .. however an open mind is always good...I am off to enjoy my Capitalist Independence day party ,,, enjoy everyone and Cheers .....

Avatar universal
by SeriousSam, Jul 04, 2010
Dr. Goldman,
                     I have to admit that I am not fond of homeopathy ever since I caught my ex givng "teething" medicine to my daughter that among other thing included belladonna.  What is worse is this stuff was sold as teething medicine at walmart and kmart.

That having been said I agree that psychotherapy and sometimes "mental tricks" work.  As you are no doubt aware studies have been done where terminal children were told about elves who would take away their disease etc. under controlled situations and the children who believed in many cases went into remission.  Similarly people who believed who were subjected to death curses in africa died in the same or similar methods physiological traits as rats that behavioral scientists had caught from sewers and then held in steel mesh gloves where no harm was done but the rats were allowed the only option of just enduring or dying.  They died.  As you are no doubt aware these nthings have worked though they do detract from religion they are in the same category.

Ya know...I agree with you regarding homeopathy ({same disease} in latin right?) but I wonder are you saying the same as regards medicine in other countries.  For example chinese traditional medicine?

              You make the point that before modern western medicine people used other things and to some degree that is true such as quinine for malaria.  But you do know what the average lifespan was (35-45 yrs)?  BTW  Isn't vinagar just another vehicle for vitamin B and a diuretic?  So it is essentially the same as taking an energy drink without the sugar or  taste?

adgal breast milk is not  alternative medicine is it?  I mean the whole idea of breast is colostrum etc.is it has antibodies etc.  ?

Avatar universal
by teko, Jul 04, 2010
Tho I posted my own opinion, I am open to everyones thoughts and experiences. I am always willing to learn something new. Me own opinions dont necessarily make me right. Well, not all the time anyways! lol Ginger I thought has some strong points.

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by peggy64, Jul 04, 2010

I would recommend a good research on the health benefits of vinegar. No where close to an energy drink.

Breast milk when used in that manner as adgal listed, would indeed be considered alternative medicine.

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by peggy64, Jul 04, 2010
What would resolving poison ivy with vinegar have to do with the lifespan? This would be less toxic to the liver than some of the RX meds that are out today, and the results would be the same. This is just ONE natural remedy that works the same today as it did years ago and has nothing to do with lifespan.

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by adgal, Jul 04, 2010
I am not sure whether it would be or not Sam.  I am still unclear as to the difference between natural remedies and homeopathic as I admit I had always thought them to be one and the same.  I was surprised when a medical Dr. told me to use it clear up his eye infection though.  When my husband or I go to him he often discusses diet, nutrition, etc. with us...I like him because he doesn't automatically write a prescription for everything, although he certainly is not anti medication.  I feel we are lucky to have him as our family Dr.

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by specialmom, Jul 04, 2010
Such a controversial topic------- who knew?  Well, I did actually.  My mother in law lived and breathed homeopathic medicine as it was her passion in life.  She started a natural food and health store back in the 70's, really before this was popular at all.  Everyone had home remedies, but as stated above, that is not really what homeopathic medicine is.  She was quite healthy.  In reality, many medications that we take are actually synthetic versions of the natural one.  The only problem that I have with natural medicine and homeopathic medicine is that it is unregulated.  They do have side effects just like regular medicine and people should be aware of that when they take it or mix things together.  I also think dosing is tricky with homeopathic medicine and you get a different story depending on who you talk to when asking for advice.  I was sick to my stomach and my mother in law came with one of her bottles-------- she said to pour them out into my hand and take how many comes out.  I asked------------ how many do I take?  She restated--------- however many come out of the bottle.  Hm.  (1 or 10 would be fine she said.  Hm.  She believed if it was natural, it couldn't hurt you.  That's false and I do think that the industry should be regulated to keep it safe.  Just my opinion though.  

There are some that take advantage of the sick and dying and I'd love to name a clinic in Atlanta that does just that.  I won't for legal reasons----------  but I will tell you they bilked my dying mother in law (end stage ovarian cancer) out of 6000 dollars.  She paid them for a clinic visit she never made and booked the trip as she was barely conscious and on death's door step .  Clearly, she wasn't going to make it to their clinic as she could hardly speak at the time, was no longer eating, and sleeping most of the day.  They got her 6000 bucks a couple of days before she died and refused to refund it.  That may be what the doctor is speaking of when he says that there are scams out there. By the way, this was a fasting clinic.  And the 6000 did not include accommodations or airfare.  The lady who runs it and claims she cured her own cancer this way told my mother in law that she shouldn't listen to her doctor, that SHE (the clinic) could save her.  It's a painful memory.

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by ginger899, Jul 04, 2010
(On the wider subject of "Alternative remedies, not only homeopathic)...Owing to some idiosyncracy of mine, I, 9 times out of 10, have bad reactions to conventional medicines. That discovery, about 25 years ago, brought me to experiment on myself (for heaven's sake I am not condoning self-experimentation! What I did was using my own wit and instinct, and probably treading a very fine line, so please "Do Not Try This At Home!" lol!...) -anyway, if ever I was sick, I used to go and get a proper thorough diagnosis from the doctor, then used Herbal Medicine which I prepared myself.

Every single time I effected a cure, with no side effects and no lingering symptoms. And certainly was not left with a second, or even third, bout of symptoms after treatment (as can happen sometimes with conventional meds)
I admit that the ailments I worked on were pretty minor (?) as I've pretty much always been strong and fit. But one could have turned out to be a bit serious.I had an infected gland on the back of my neck, with some bad symptoms. I was prescribed a strong antibiotic. It nearly killed me, and that's no joke. (no, it was not an allergy in the true sense of the word. My symptoms were not classic allergy type, but intoxication, that is, my body reacted as if I had been poisoned. After the first dose, from feeling ill, I began very suddenly feeling frighteningly sick.  It even affected my heart/blood pressure very badly. I could take that no longer after 6 hours of it. I was on the verge of being taken to E.R. The doctor didn't know what to prescribe next. I told him to forget it. so made myself a remedy. It was a very well thought out combination.   2 days later, all was well, though I was exhausted, the infection had passed. Now in that case I truly don't believe it was the 'natural turning-point' of that illness. I do believe that untreated totally, that illness could have affected my whole system and made me seriously ill.
That experience, and countless other positive experiences with Herbal medicines have brought me to realize they are strong and effective, and cause no other distress when taken correctly. Well, we are all different. One man's meat is another man's poison, so what is good for one person may be bad for another. So herbal remedies aren't the solution for everyone.
The only problem I can see with this kind of 'home treatment' really is ignorance of medical matters, lack of education about what herbs to use, and when etc, not knowing when to stop and when to go for conventional treatment, not getting a diagnosis first, too much 'quackery' abroad particularly online, putting other lives at risk (I only put my own on the line! lol!)
So what I'm saying is herbs work. Not sure about some other things, not DEAD-SURE about homeopathy.... But let's discuss, let's get educated about what is available, let's not dismiss certain remedies or treatments for certain things, sometimes, as 'hippy'. But let's not be silly either, and use our wits at their best when it comes to treatments. (With respect, Willard's Water springs to mind here. Though I've never used it, it sounds a little dubious if it causes no improvement after drinking it!)
And for Heavens sake, let's NEVER have our options taken away from us by legislation, although I do believe alternative products ought to be put through testing to make sure what is in them is definitely what's on the label, and there are no contaminants, etc!  

Avatar universal
by SeriousSam, Jul 04, 2010
              ." I would be remiss if I thought that, but before the western medicine came along, people took care of some ailments with a "natural" way of living, and these do respond well to natural treatment."

Basically you said they used to use natural medicine and I pointed out how well that worked for them.

Regarding energy drink-the main effective iingredient in the better ones is vitamin b, which apple cider vinegar (white vinegar is high in.

see the below 4 wikipedia.

Colonial America

The first life table for an American population was published by Edward Wigglesworth in 1793, and was based on mortality data from Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire in 1789. Until the 1960s, this life table, which reported an expectation of life of about thirty-five years for New England, was the primary source of information on the level of mortality in America prior to the nineteenth century. Since the 1960s, however, quantitative historians have analyzed a variety of mortality records from various sources, providing a more comprehensive and varied picture of mortality conditions in the colonial era.

Avatar universal
by Sunbeam2001, Jul 05, 2010
    I have just gone through the ringer with an experimental drug for AS
  I agree with a balanced approach to all things but Mastermind does
  bring up some very good points.  Western Medicine ***** overall.
    If you get hit by a bus, yes they are good at patching. If you are sick
   many times they are far behind and the whole focus is not caring but
   processing patients and prescribing enough medicine to get that trip!!!
     The Love of money is the root of all Evil and Medical Doctors fall into
   that trap alot of the time.  See one patient every 10-15 minutes that is
   a successful practice - not a caring doctor getting to the bottom of what
   is wrong with you.
      The Trial I just went through was all coated with sparkles when I was
    being told about it and now that I was forced to quit from side effects
    I haven't heard from anybody even though I had to visit the ER and endure
    extreme pain for over a week on top of having an extremely painful condition
    already.  Thanks alot Western medicine!  You got paid for signing people up
    to the drug trial and that was the goal.

       The information I received was a far cry from what I experienced and then as
     soon as I let them know I couldn't keep coming as I was too sick they said it
     was totally unrelated.  I haven't heard from them since and had been assured
     if anything happened I would get the most prompt care possible.

       I owned a large ranch and did see alot of good work done by the vets but
     now the focus is on boosting sales to pet owners. Making up packages so
     they limit the do it yourself people who in some cases have more experience
     than alot of the newer vets.  We were OK to treat animals for years but now
     we need help and should bring our dogs and cats in to the clinic????
         It is the whole system that is to blame for what we are experiencing.
      If we weren't so rebellious as a society and took advice from the Good Book
      we would avoid so many problems.  Love God and your Neighbour as yourself...

Avatar universal
by steveinjapan, Jul 06, 2010
Another serious problem with homeopathy and other alternative modalities is that when they treat, or try to treat, the symptoms rather than the underlying cause, a serious condition might get worse. Do I speak from experience? Yes, indeed. I was bothered by what may or may not have been GERD for a few years, kept it largely under control with antacids and other meds (never tried cider vinegar - it seems counterintuitive).  
One day while in a remote part of California I had a very severe stomach pain after receiving some bad news over the phone. It subsided after an hour or so. I had a repeat occurrence a few days later while at the home of an MD friend, who unfortunately had left for a meeting. This felt different from my normal bouts of GERD, but having no options after it subsided I got in my car and drove 400 miles to Oregon, feeling weak and ill, not realizing that I had had two ischemic events (myocardial infarctions). I couldn't get an appointment with my regular doc there, so I took advice from someone and went to see an "ayurvedic practitioner" who examined me, took a history (?) and prescribed aloe vera and some other stuff to neutralize my state of bodily equilibrium according to her knowledge.
Fortunately I survived a long trip by air back to where I was working at the time, enduring more stressful episodes but no further infarctions. Still feeling poorly, I got myself to a good internist who finally diagnosed me, told me I was lucky to be alive, and prescribed meds and lots of rest.
About 7 years later I had to have a quadruple bypass, but I am in good shape now 5 years post-intervention. I still am angry that the ayurvedic quack did not have the sense to recognize signs of a heart attack.

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by Arnold L Goldman, D.V.M.Blank, Jul 06, 2010
Ladies and Gentlemen,

A careful reading of my original post, which references a pictorial blog written by a Darryl Cunningham, makes clear the logic behind my declaring that homeopathy is nonscientific and demonstrably quackery. I do not, however, make a blanket claim that all modalities intended to be therapeutic that currently fall into the catchall "complementary and alternative" are necessarily also ineffective. They may or may not be.

I do make the case, however, that medicine is not eastern, western, traditional, holistic, complementary, alternative, conventional, holistic, natural or any other subcategory beyond effective or ineffective. Something cannot be both even sometimes. Ineffective is not just a degree of effective. Ineffective is always so, whether someone derives a placebo-derived benefit or not. The harm comes when someone makes money selling fraud, or when a desperate patient delays or avoids real treatment that may exist for a given serious condition, because of a philosophical opposition to it. My argument is that homeopathy is always fraud thus, caveat emptor!

Those who believe in a modality are unlikely to be convinced their belief is incorrect, especially as there are vested interests among some professionals and manufacturers that support the believers beliefs. Homeopathy, uniquely, is the clearest example of a modality  that is ineffective, as long as water is defined by chemistry as H2O. No "memory" can remain if inorganic chemistry is true.

All this said, there is a great deal of logic in the idea that plants (herbs) have biologically active chemicals within them that if given in a therapeutic amount and at an appropriate frequency can be every bit as effective as the same agent chemically synthesized in a pharmaceutical factory. Indeed, the point of extracting or synthesizing these active agents is to standardize dosing and concentration. Just because the companies that do so make money, does not a bad thing make them. Ground leaves are harder to mass produce and certify standardization for, hence "pills."

That said then, herbal medications and TCM, which uses mostly herbal extracts, are very likely to be capable of helping with disease. What is an open question is the standardization and certification of the amounts of active ingredients within a herbal product and more importantly, just how competent a practitioner using these modalities actually is. How many grams of herb provides how many milligrams of active ingredient? Is there variation from lot to lot? As a skeptic, I question these things, especially as also a busy practitioner myself, I know that trying to ensure purity and concentration would be time consuiming and Im glad that most drugs are FDA compliant so I dont have to.

Staying up to date on all body systems and disease is difficult. Treatment choice comes after a diagnosis and is a far more important aspect of patient care than what I choose to treat with. The what and why  comes before the how, which and when. Standardization of dosing and dosing interval is a key to effective patient care, especially on a first consultation on an apparently common condition. My goal is to help a patient, not to employ any particular methodology to do so. My textbooks and online resources are my way of obtaining just-in-time knowledge for standard of care treatments. I rarely rely on myself alone. I look to specialists in many subspecialties for updates to my knowledge base: internal medicine, oncology, neurology, cardiology, ophthalmology, dermatology, nuclear medicine, advanced imaging etc.

Boarded specialists with advanced training enhance and inform our approach to diagnosis and treatment. I do not spend time thinking about treatment classifications and their merits or lack of when preparing to treat a patient. I do think about how to get at the diagnosis. Treatment trials as a diagnostic test is always my last choice when a diagnosis is unknown.

I remain open to any treatment that can demonstrate effectiveness, in a manner that does not rely mainly on anecdotes. Few medical professionals can rely on anecdotes, as doing so may lead to departure from recognized standards of care and would be unethical.

Thanks to all who have participated in this very lively discussion.

Dr G

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by swampcritter, Jul 06, 2010
Human critters tend to view anecdotes more strongly than odds and trends. Humans want to link cause with effect. You see this to an extreme with OCD people who link, say, safely driving to the store by what route they take, how many steps they take, leaving exactly at a certain time, etc.

Medical science is inexact because we are dealing with biological systems.

However, it is possible to show which treatments are effective, by double blind testing. That is the only way to measure the effectiveness of a treatment.

People only started applying these techniques during the 19th century. Since they have done so, lifetimes have risen dramatically, many hitherto untreatable conditions now can be treated.

People often expect too much out of medicine, but that is the subject of another post.

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by Arnold L Goldman, D.V.M.Blank, Jul 06, 2010
Swampcritter, well said!

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by caregiver222, Jul 06, 2010
Unfortunately, some very effective treatments do not lend themselves to "double-blind" testing.

The use of phages, for example, to combat infection. Phage cocktails have been used for a hundred years and were a mainstay of infection treatment in the pre-1990 Soviet Army. They were produced in Georgia. Since 1990 the phage industry in Georgia has all but diappeared.

Phage cocktails are produced on the spot from the individual infection, with certain exceptions.

The United States FDA refused to authorize phages for treatment of bacterial resistant infections in diabetics and HIV positive patients who have had no other hope.

You aren't allowed to import them. Period.

The slavish adherence to the protocols of the FDA and the AMA, in the case of phage therapy, have cost many lives.

931217 tn?1283481335
by Arnold L Goldman, D.V.M.Blank, Jul 06, 2010
In the US we are evaluating the use of bacteriophages here, however, we have very high evidentiary standards here in part because the medical oath, "primum non nocere" (first do no harm) is tightly adhered to by individual doctors and partly because we are a litigious society and if treatments cause real harm, doctors, hospitals and givernments will be sued. Note that only former Soviet republic Georgia allows their widespread use. Rather than "slavish adherence" to good scientific protocol we err on the side of first do no harm. The AMA has little to do with the slow adoption of new methods of treatment, but rather FDA, CDC, NIH and the ABA (American Bar Association) do.

From Wikipedia:

Phage therapy is the therapeutic use of bacteriophages  to treat pathogenic bacterial infections. Although extensively used and developed mainly in former Soviet Union countries for about 90 years, this method of therapy is still being tested elsewhere for treatment  of a variety of bacterial and poly-microbial biofilm infections, and has not yet been approved in countries other than Georgia.

Potential benefits

Bacteriophage treatment offers a possible alternative to conventional antibiotic treatments for bacterial infection.[19] It is conceivable that, although bacteria can develop resistance to phage[citation needed], the resistance might be easier to overcome than resistance to antibiotics[citation needed].

Bacteriophages are very specific, targeting only one or a few strains of bacteria.[20] Traditional antibiotics have more wide-ranging effect, killing both harmful bacteria and useful bacteria such as those facilitating food digestion. The specificity of bacteriophages might reduce the chance that useful bacteria are killed when fighting an infection.

Some evidence shows the ability of phages to travel to a required site—including the brain, where the blood brain barrier can be crossed—and multiply in the presence of an appropriate bacterial host, to combat infections such as meningitis. However the patient's immune system can, in some cases mount an immune response to the phage (2 out of 44 patients in a Polish trial[21]).

A few research groups in the West are engineering a broader spectrum phage, and also a variety of forms of MRSA treatments, including impregnated wound dressings, preventative treatment for burn victims, phage-impregnated sutures.[22] Enzobiotics are a new development at Rockefeller University that create enzymes from phage. These show potential for preventing secondary bacterial infections, e.g. pneumonia developing in patients suffering from flu, otitis etc.[citation needed] Purified recombinant phage enzymes can be used as separate antibacterial agents in their own right.[23]

There are no non-toxic antibiotics to treat some bacteria such as multiple-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae, but killing of the bacteria via intraperitoneal, intravenous or intranasal of phages in vivo has been shown to work in laboratory tests.[24]
[edit] Disadvantages

Phage therapy has disadvantages:

Unlike antibiotics, phages must be refrigerated until used,[25] and a physician needs special training in prescribing and using phages.

The diversity of phages becomes a disadvantage when the exact species of an infecting bacteria is unknown or if there is a multiple infection. For best results the phages should be tested in the lab prior to application, making phages less suitable for acute cases where time is not available. Mixtures consisting of several phages can fight mixed infections.

As with antibiotics, bacteria can become resistant to treatments, and in this case they can mutate to survive the phage onslaught. However, evolution drives the rapid emergence of new phages that can destroy bacteria that have become resistant. This means that there should be an "inexhaustible" supply.

Phages that are injected into the bloodstream are recognized by the human immune system. Some of them are quickly excreted and, after a certain period, antibodies against the phages are produced by the body. For this reason, it appears that a particular phage can only be used once for intravenous treatment.[26]


Phages are "bacterium-specific" and it is therefore necessary in many cases to take a swab from the patient and culture it prior to treatment. Occasionally, isolation of therapeutic phages can require a few months to complete, but clinics generally keep supplies of phage cocktails for the most common bacterial strains in a geographical area.

Phages in practice are applied orally, topically on infected wounds or spread onto surfaces, or used during surgical procedures. Injection is rarely used, avoiding any risks of trace chemical contaminants that may be present from the bacteria amplification stage,and recognizing that the immune system naturally fights against viruses introduced into the bloodstream or lymphatic system.

The direct human use of phages is likely to be very safe; suggestively, in August 2006, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved spraying meat with phages. The approval was for ListShield (a phage preparation targeted against Listeria monocytogenes) created by Intralytix. This was the first approval granted by the FDA and UDSA for a phage-based food additive. Although this initially raised concerns since without mandatory labeling consumers will not be aware that meat and poultry products have been treated with the spray,[27] it confirms to the public that, for example, phages against Listeria are generally recognized as safe (GRAS status) within the worldwide scientific community and opens the way for other phages to also be recognized as having GRAS status[citation needed].

Phage therapy has been attempted for the treatment of a variety of bacterial infections including: laryngitis, skin infections, dysentery, conjunctivitis, periodontitis, gingivitis, sinusitis, urinary tract infections and intestinal infections, burns, boils,[2] poly-microbial biofilms on chronic wounds, ulcers and infected surgical sites. [citation needed]

In 2007 a Phase 1/2 clinical trial was completed at the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital, London for Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections (otitis).[28].[29][30] Documentation of the Phase-1/Phase-2 study was published in August 2009 in the journal Clinical Otolaryngology[31].

Phase 1 clinical trials have now been completed in the Southwest Regional Wound Care Center, Lubbock, Texas for an approved cocktail of phages against bacteria, including P. aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli (better known as E. coli).[32] The cocktail of phages for the clinical trials was developed and supplied by Intralytix.

Reviews of phage therapy indicate that more clinical and microbiological research is needed to meet current standards.[33]

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by caregiver222, Jul 10, 2010
The problem in the United States is that they cannot "keep phage coctails" available because the FDA won't permit this.

In Russia and Georgia they do keep such coaktails. The Russian army, as well as the PLA (People's Liberation Army) in China currently uses such cocktails for dysentary and as a topical application for battlefield wounds.

One of the difficulties is because of anti-terrorism requirements importation of phages is difficult, specifically if the phage targets an extremely dangerous organism, such as mtb, or a tuberculosis varient. Since they feed of the bacteria this presents a problem. Some time ago I was involved in trying to bring some in from Georgia and faced this issue.

The statement that it takes "months" to culture a phage is not entirely true.

I first got interested in phages after a conversation with Dr. Watson, of Watson and Crick, who got the nobel prize. Watson was giving a lecture, and it turned out all his early work was on the use of bacteriophages to treat bacterial infections. He was quite critical of the FDA.

In Georgia there was a hundred year old repositary of phages, which Georgians rightly believed were worth money. A Canadian businessman came in and purchased rights to these collections, and then permitted most of the samples to be destroyed through improper storage during the early 1990's. At the same time he refused permission for others to retrieve or preserve samples.

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by painbrain, Jul 10, 2010
all in all one cannot put all their eggs in the basket of western medicine, nor can all interventions which fall under your definition of homeopathy or herbalism be fraudulent.

I drink willow bark tea instead of buying little tablets of compressed lab created acetacylic(sp?) acid.  Am I a quack? no.  I am using "alternative therapy" that aspirin is extrapolated from.  Just cuz it comes in a little bottle with a child proof cap, doesnt mean it isnt poison.

Belladonna can kill someone, or save their life if they have a heart condition.

poison v. medicine is a matter of perspective.  If my meds negatively impact my quality of life, they might as well be labeled with a skull and crossbones.  Regardless of their clinical effectiveness.

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by Ashelen, Jul 10, 2010
fascinating argument...I agree that medicine needs to be divided simply into "effective" and "ineffective"...there are plenty of "home" or "natural" remedies that just work...but then, there are plenty of western medicines that use an "unknown mechanism" as well....the importance comes, then, not HOW they work but THAT they work and that people who don't have the knowledge to distinguish effective from noneffective and safe from harmful aren't suckered in just because they're told "this is natural" and assume that must mean it's safe. Plenty of natural things are deadly. I think the difference between trusting western medicine and homeopathic OR natural remedies comes in the testing stage...western medicines HAVE to work (at least until some weird dangerous side effect shows up and they're removed from the market, hmm!) to be put on the shelf...whereas the other form of medicines are proven effective only by word of mouth and that can spell danger, or at least, a lack of healing in someone who puts their trust in "what worked for Suzie".

On the other hand, I can't say enough good things about stuff like accupuncture and accupressure therapy, as well as chinese tea therapies...mostly because half of their effectiveness comes with belief in their effectiveness, and that's a strong motivator in the healing process. as long as someone doesn't discount medicine that is TRULY vital to their health in favor of something that is honestly having no effect but sounds shiny and natural, there's little harm in many alternative treatments.

Avatar universal
by Foxworth5, Jul 16, 2011
My family and I truly believe in natural alternative medicine's. They "cured", yes cured our son's autoimmune disorder. He was a healthy 10 year old that loved school and was an A-B Honor Roll student that out of know where became extremely sick, pain's everywhere throughout his body, severe ringing and pain in his ears and he went from normal vision to legally blind almost over night. He couldn't even go to school. After a year of western medicine "treatments" that only made him worse and doctor's that didn't care about what he was going through and used him as a gineapig for their toxins with aweful side-effect's that they call medicines, we chose to look for natural "GOD GIVEN" cures for his autoimmune disorder. And we found one. "COLOSTRUM". After 1 week his eye sight returned to normal, and after 1 month the pains throughout his body and ringing and pains in his ears were gone. That was a year ago this March 2011. He is now a healthy 12 year old boy, and an A-Student. We will never go to doctors again for treatment's, only for a diagnosis and them cure him with natural medicines that have no side-effect's that God put on this earth for us to use.

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