As those of you who follow me on Twitter might have seen, I discovered that my local MP, Lib Dem Jenny Willott, had signed disgraced MP David Tredinnick’s Early Day Motion 908. The one where he says he disagrees with the SciTech Committee’s Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy and that instead, we should be listening to countries such as France, Germany and India because they make even more provisions for homeopathy than we, the UK, do. Upon learning of this, I started writing an email to her explaining how homeopathy doesn’t work and how this has already been definitively proven.
“Dear Ms. Willott,
My name is Rhys Morgan. I am 15 years old.
I would like to express my disdain that you signed Early Day Motion 908: Science and Technology Committee Report on Homeopathy. I also would like to express my disdain that you, in March 2007, signed Early Day Motion 1240: NHS Homeopathic Hospitals.
Firstly, most homeopathic remedies contain no active ingredient. They’re literally just sugar pills with water that has had ritual magic performed upon it, sprinkled on top.
This is because they’ve passed a number called Avogadro’s constant. The water has been diluted so many times that there are no more molecules of the original “mother tincture” left in the final result.
This happens twice before reaching the most common homeopathic dilution, 30C. It happens once at 12C, where 1ml of “mother tincture” has been diluted in 100ml of water and this has been repeated 11 more times. It then happens again, where nothing from the 12C dilution is present in a 24C dilution. If homeopathy were to work, we’d have to throw everything we knew about modern physics and chemistry out of the window.
I am not currently aware of any good evidence that homeopathy works. In fact, I am aware of evidence that it does not. When it comes to conventional medicine, new drugs are tested under a method called controlled, double blinded trials. The control bit means that either the new drug is tested against the currently accepted standard treatment, where it has to prove it is more effective or has less side effects; or it’s tested against a placebo. A sugar pill. In well designed trials, homeopathy, seeing as remedies are sugar pills themselves, unsurprisingly fails to show that it works better than even the placebo. What can we make from this? That homeopathy is nothing but placebo, where it appears it might work. Another reason it may appear to work it something called regression to the mean. Basically, illnesses come and go. When you’re at your most ill is when you’re most likely to take a medicine for it. You then start getting better and attribute this getting better to the medicine. However, what actually happened in this situation is that the illness went away naturally.
Another thing that happens occasionally with medical trials, is that they are subject to meta-analyses. This is where data is collaborated from numerous high-quality trials to see if scientists have missed something before. One such example is giving steroids to premature babies. While some trials showed there was a positive benefit, others didn’t. As such for many years, even though doctors had data saying it was worth it, they had other evidence saying it wasn’t worth it and as such did not give steroids to premature babies. However, a not-for-profit organisation called the Cochrane Collaboration produced a meta-analysis of the data available. By discounting the badly designed studies and lining the results up one against the other on a “blobbogram” they discovered that, actually, providing steroids to premature babies was likely to allow them to live longer than premature babies who didn’t receive steroids. Even though the breakthrough thought had come through years previous, it was only now that doctors and other scientists had the definitive proof that giving steroids to premature babies was a good thing. Where does homeopathy come into this, you might ask? Well, a definitive meta-analysis has been performed upon the medical trial data of homeopathy. It has, unsurprisingly, shown that homeopathy is no more effective than placebo. The name of this meta-analysis is Are the clinical effects of homoeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homoeopathy and allopathy.
You can find the Abstract on PubMed and the full article at http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(05)67177-2/abstract
It is with this reasoning that I ask you remove your support for both Early Day Motions. Homeopathy simply does not work and recognising homeopathic hospitals is a waste of already scare NHS resources. If something does not work, it cannot be “cost effective” by any stretch of the imagination. I also direct you to Andy Lewis’ blogpost regarding EDM908 http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2010/03/mp-david-tredinnick-is-wrong-about-the-homeopathy-report.html
Thank you for taking the time to read this email,
I await a response…