Homeopathic medicine is at present one of the leading alternative therapies practiced by physicians in Europe (particularly France, Germany, UK and Italy) and Asia, especially on the Indian subcontinent (EU Commission, 1997; Prasad, 2007). Since homeopathy's development as a medical specialty in the early 1800s, it has been a leading alternative to orthodox medicine internationally, and it has posed an ongoing threat to the scientific, philosophical and economics of conventional medical care.
The homeopathic approach to healing maintains a deep respect for symptoms of illness as important defenses of a person's immune and defense system. While conventional medicine often tends to assume that symptoms are something "wrong" with the person that need to be treated, inhibited, suppressed or biochemically manipulated, homeopaths tend to assume that symptoms are important defenses of the organism that are most effectively resolved when treatments nurture, nourish or mimic the symptoms in order to initiate a healing process. Ultimately, these two different approaches to healing people have led to various conflicts.
It is common, for instance, for homeopaths to question the alleged "scientific" studies that conventional drugs are "effective" as treatments because of concern that many of these treatments tend to suppress symptoms or disrupt the complex inner ecology of the body and create much more serious illness. Just as opiate drugs of the 19th century gave the guise of healing, homeopaths contend that many modern-day drugs provide blessed short-term relief but create immune dysfunction, mental illness and other chronic disease processes in its wake. Further, the fact that most people today are prescribed multiple drugs concurrently, despite the fact that clinical research is rarely conducted showing the safety or efficacy of such practices, forces us all to question how scientific modern medicine truly is.
Homeopaths contend that increased rates of cancer, heart disease, chronic fatigue and various chronic diseases for increasingly younger people may result from conventional medicine's suppression of symptoms and disease processes. It is therefore no surprise that conventional physicians and Big Pharma have a long and dark history of working together to attack homeopathy and homeopaths.
The antagonism against homeopathy began when the highly-respected Saxon physician Samuel Hahnemann, M.D., first developed the system in the early 1800s. Hahnemann was a translator of leading medical and pharmacology texts and the author of the leading textbook used by pharmacists of his day.
Paul Starr's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "The Social Transformation of American Medicine," acknowledged the stature that homeopathy achieved in America in the mid-and later 19th century:
"Because homeopathy was simultaneously philosophical and experimental, it seemed to many people to be more rather than less scientific than orthodox medicine" (p. 97).
U.S. President William McKinley even dedicated a special monument to Dr. Hahnemann in Washington, D.C., in 1900, which still stands today as the only monument in America's capital to the deeds of a physician.
However, because of the economic, philosophical and scientific threat that the paradigm and practice of homeopathy represents, the vitriol and antagonism still exists. It is therefore enlightening to expose the disinformation that is spread about homeopathy and then understand who is leading this disinformation campaign (the second part of this article will name names and discuss two individuals, one from the U.S. and one from the UK, who are presently leaders in the campaign against homeopathy).
The Myths Spread about Homeopathy
Like other propagandists, the homeopathy deniers seek to create disinformation by using three straightforward techniques. First, the homeopathy deniers make a simple false accusation, a lie, and repeat it constantly and consistently in an attempt to make it a new "truth." Second, this repetition is then done within the context of some legitimizing element. In the case of the homeopathy deniers, that element is a corruption of normal science, an analysis of scientific evidence that creates reasons (excuses) to exclude high-quality studies that show positive results (even those studies that have been published in leading conventional medical journals), and a mis-use of the concept of skepticism. The homeopathy deniers ignore or downplay the substantial body of evidence from basic science and clinical research, from outcome studies, from cost-effectiveness studies and from epidemiological evidence, and only quote from those studies that verify their own point of view, rather than reviewing the entire body of evidence.
The third component of the technique is to sell the lie to a vulnerable population in an attempt to have repetition from that group. In the case of the homeopathy deniers, the vulnerable groups are often young students of science who are enamored with the language and elitism of their newly-learned craft, but who lack the deep understanding and experience to realize that they are being "used" by the deniers. The homeopathy deniers also play on the fears of those older and established scientists and physicians and who are led to believe that "if homeopathy is true, then everything about modern medicine and science is false." This over-simplification of reality is commonly repeated.
However, just as quantum physics does not "disprove" all of physics -- but, rather,extends our capability to understand and predict events on extremely small and extremely large systems -- likewise, homeopathy does not disprove all of modern pharmacology but extends our understanding of the use of extremely small doses of medicinal agents to elicit healing responses.
History is replete with orthodox medicine and science being steadfastly resistant to different systems of medicine and paradigms of healing. Although, the average physician and scientist tends to be threatened by new ideas, a common attribute of leading physicians and scientists is a certain openness and humility due to the common and even expected evolution of knowledge.
It should be acknowledged upfront that homeopathic practitioners, patients and users of these natural medicines are often surprised and amazed at the results they experience in the treatment of themselves, children, infants, animals and even plants. In my observations over the past 40 years, most people are skeptical about homeopathy until they try it and see for themselves ... and there are then good reasons that tens of millions of people all over the world use and rely upon these natural medicines for a wide range of acute and chronic ailments. That said, the challenge is not just trying homeopathy, but first learning something about it so you can use it correctly and effectively.
Sadly, however, the homeopathy deniers tend to spread disinformation about homeopathy, including the following myths:
Myth #1: "There is no research that shows that homeopathic medicines work."
Myth #2: "The research studies showing that homeopathic medicines work are 'poorly conducted studies.'"
Myth #3: "12C is like one drop in the entire Atlantic Ocean."
Myth #4: "There is nothing in a homeopathic medicine. It is just water."
Myth #5: "If we do not presently understand how homeopathic medicines work, then, they cannot work. It's witchcraft."