A few weeks ago, I decided to send an email to the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board regarding homeopathy on the NHS.
I asked them if they had any information about spending on it, and if they had it, to send it on to me under the FOIA. First response was “We’re not sure, We’ll get back to you when I have more information.”
So, I waited. And I waited. And waited some more.
Just over two weeks later, I sent another email saying “Do you have the information yet”
I got an automatic out-of-office response saying the person who had emailed me originally had gone on holiday and wasn’t going to be back till January 2011. How annoying. Luckily, she had delegated her job to someone else, so I sent them an email.
The response I got was another out-of-office email, saying they’d be back in the office the following Monday. It was quickly followed by an actual response saying they’d look into it when they got back to the office.
And again, I waited.
Another week passed without any further correspondence. Getting a little annoyed, I sent another email asking if they had the information yet. Once again, out-of-office reply. They’d be back in the office on the 11th September. So, I figured I’d wait and send another email then.
However, today, I was sent a very pleasing email which I will print in full here:
Dear Mr Morgan, I’ve been asked to reply to you on behalf of Estelle Hitchon in connection with your query regarding homeopathic care. Apologies for the delay in getting back to you. However, I am able to let you know that we do not offer any homeopathic treatment here at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. If I can help in any other way please let me know. Many thanks.
Hooray! This means that Cardiff and the Vale are a homeopathy free zone!
Congratulations to the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. You are awesome.
Homeopathy is a strange thing (as is any healing modality) – I was healed of a decade long bout with chronic bronchitis by a classical homeopath but my warts seem to be a bit more stubborn …
Notice you have Crohn’s Disease … a good friend of mine healed himself completely of that condition by following a strict Paleolithic Diet. He raves about the “Panu” and “Nephropal” websites. I eat that way myself and am quite happy with the results.
The idea that homeopathy heals is just that, an idea. How do you know that it was the homeopathy that cured your bronchitis? How could it act on bronchitis when it contains no active ingredients?
The owner of this blog tweeted that I told him to eat a Paleolithic Diet which I did not. Interestingly, “Paleo” is part of a larger scientific discipline known as Evolutionary Medicine. Seems science is attacked here as well …
Back in the 1980s some researchers wondered why Paleolithic skeletons indicated that those people were so much taller, stronger and healthier than the Neolithic people that followed. The research is on-going and quite fascinating … and is, of course, rejected by mainstream medicine.
That is a good question Ashley. How do I know? Well, after a decade of being very, very sick 4 times a year and with constant coughing in between I found my self with a classical homeopath (In other words, I was sick ALL the time). Let me note that I saw MDs for all those long years and was offered nothing except drugs (which I was grateful for) and the mantra “Your condition will worsen as you age.” The MDs were all good people and did all they could for me. Never once did I consider anything but allopathy. But one day I noticed the word “homeopathy” in a magazine. Then the same word popped up again and again. Well, that must be a sign I thought and found a classical homeopath not too far away.
My first appointment was interesting enough, took the remedy I was offered, scheduled another appointment for a month later and left.
Two weeks later I developed a low-grade fever which was a well-known sign of a lung infection (again … sigh). Since I had an appointment scheduled in two weeks anyway I simply suffered and as the fever was low-grade I could function fine but just didn’t feel 100% (a very familiar feeling at that time)
So the day of my appointment I arrived with my wife who was along for the ride. Took the remedy offered and I drove her to a local farmers market 2 miles away. We stayed in the farmers market about 30 minutes. During this time my fever shot up so high I was delirious and could not drive home. She had to drive me home.
The next four days I spent in bed with a 104 degree fever. I thought I was going to die of suffocation. It was awful. It was scary. But this time I was determined not to suppress the fever and symptoms with allopathy. Funny thing was, I had been bothered with acne over the years and first it flared up wildly then quickly went away during the fever, leaving my face looking like I had had a facial and had been sunbathing. I felt awful but looked great. My complexion had some odd glow … Never have I been troubled with acne since.
The fever broke on the 4th day and I felt great again. Now, 5 years later I have not had one attack. Not even one. This after 10 years of sickness. This after 10 years of MDs and drugs. This after 10 years of hearing my condition would only worsen.
Well, that is my story. It seems the remedy sparked the fever which I didn’t suppress. In fact, there are many documented reports of chronic illness, including cancer, disappearing after strange unexplained fevers, a fact mainstream medicine chooses to ignore.
Ashley, don’t exclude yourself from any form of healing. You never know what form your healing will take.
It’s a fascinating story, and I’m pleased you’re well. Given that there’s nothing in homeopathy which can cause a fever, I guess we can rule that out as a cause. Remember, there’s nothing in homeopathy at all, except sugar. The pills contain no molecules of any substance. Anything above 12C is devoid of any chemical relationship with whatever it claims to contain.
So, you got better. Perhaps the prescriptions from your doctors were not helping and perhaps they prolonged your condition. Did you get any of this stuff checked out by medical science at the time? Or did you just treat it as a miracle cure and leave it there?
The fact you’re better is brilliant. The idea that your wellness might have been caused by homeopathy is just an arbitrary association – it might have been caused by the farmer’s market trip as far as I can tell.
I am not attacking science but I do have a problem with scientism, a term that is used to describe when science becomes absolutized.
Ashley, truly I hope you are not suffering from a chronic illness as people with your attitude seldom get better. Your beliefs may be justified by millions of people but they won’t help you heal one bit.
I don’t know what scientism is. I’m also not promoting a negative attitude to healing. In fact, my view is that the mind is a large part of getting better. We know that people who are positive about getting well can do a lot better than people who are not positive about it.
The placebo effect can be a cure for some. This is largely related to mind over matter.
As for homeopathy, I would suggest you look at the facts. How can taking a substance with nothing in it possible do anything? The answer is that it can’t. However, if we were taking homeopathy when we happened to get better, we might associate the getting better with the homeopathy… and why wouldn’t we? It appears to be the case. I did A and B happened.
If there’s no known mechanism by which A causes B, then logically either A didn’t cause B, or there’s an unknown mechanism, which we can’t describe, but which we can prove empirically by looking at all instances of A and B and seeing if there’s a correlation. This is not scientism or absolutism or negativity, it’s simple logic.
There is no robust clinical evidence for homeopathy and there hasn’t been for the 200 years that people have been selling these magic beans. However, sometimes people who are using homeopathy get better. If homeopathy causes that, then we should consider it as a valid form of medicine. Medics have decided that homeopathy doesn’t cause that. They’ve made that decision based on analysis of the proposed mechanism (there isn’t a plausible mechanism) and analysis of the data of cause and effect – there’s no evidence.
So it wasn’t homeopathy which cured you.
For you, though, it’s irrelevant. You’re better, and I am pleased that you’re better.
Given that homeopaths use stories like yours to sell their unproven nonsense to vulnerable ill people, I think it’s dangerous to declare homeopathy cured you. Not for you. For others more vulnerable.
See the WhatsTheHarm site for more information on what this so called cure can cause.
What is all this? Ask yourself “Do I want to get better or do I want to be right?”
I don’t understand. What do you think healing is? How do you think we human beings get better?
In short, what is your point?
You ask good questions Ashley. What is healing? Well, I can only describe my experience of it as best I can but I can’t answer the question. Neither can medical doctors. I have two books in my library about medically documented cases of chronic illnesses spontaneously disappearing. In addition, I am connected to a community with identical stories. In most cases the physicians who are witness to such healings say something along the lines of “Whatever you are doing keep it up.” And that is it. They simply cannot understand what happened. Often they are embarrassed or frightened my what they have witnessed.
I have a chronic illness (I won’t go into the details unless you want me to). It is said to be incurable. Yet I know of two men with identical illness that have disappeared. The first one was diagnosed at an advanced stage and pressured by his physician to get a bone marrow transplant. He asked the doctor for 6 months to do his own thing and 6 months later the illness was gone. This man had his root canals removed and took coral calcium supplements. The other man went on a low-carb diet and took an expensive supplement derived from an exotic sea animal. He was told by his physician that he needed treatment (with no hope of healing) yet his illness healed. These stories are not unusual.
You asked me what my point is. Well, a perfectly healthy academician, researcher, clinician or even a smart ass science writer who writes books such as “Bad Science” may have the luxury of defining what form healing can come in and what form it cannot come in. The chronically ill do not have that luxury. At least not if they truly want to heal.
Did a low-carb diet or coral calcium have some active ingredient that caused them to heal? It doesn’t seem so but they are healed. Is what I am doing for my illness causing my blood markers to reverse their course and head toward recovery? Who is to say? I feel fine and my blood markers look better. What more could I want?
If one wants to heal he must be willing, truly willing for that healing to come … in any form. He has to suspend his judgment and be willing not to limit the form it will come. He cannot say, “I will accept healing in forms A. B or C but not X,Y or Z” and say he is willing to be healed. If he does, he is not being honest with himself. He doesn’t want to heal. He wants to be right.
When I was first diagnosed years ago (I am still untreated) I went to a “support” forum and was told 1) I had one year to “get my ducks in a row.” 2) My only choice was if I wanted be treated this year or next year. How many years ago was that? 6 years. Stay away from these types of forums unless you want to die.
Well, I could say more and probably will.
Point 1: Ben Goldacre isn’t some smart-arse science writer. He is someone who cares deeply about curing and only making offers of treatment for which there’s evidence of effectiveness.
Point 2: You talk about healing as though it’s a mystical force that comes upon you. Do you believe that healing is governed by physical laws – by which I mean anything that acts according to the interactions of matter, heat, electivity or gravitational force? If your belief is that healing is spiritual, then we have no common ground on which to discuss this subject.
I believe that I exist in a physical world of action and reaction. If I am ill, there is some physical cause, and if I get well again it’s because something physical has changed. If you take that approach, then all you need to do is find the correct physical action to take to affect the cause of the problem and fix it.
If that’s the case, then you can use evidence-based treatments to find a cure.
As such I won’t be using homeopathy, MMS, Chiropractic, acupuncture, Cranio-Sacral therapy, chanting, waving of chicken entrails or any other ritualised healing that has no genuine positive effect on the physical.
But your views about positive thinking, possible medical misdiagnosis, and trying to get better, rather than being a victim of medicalisation, are most definitely valid.
What are the two books in your library that you’re referring to. I should look them up.
All you wrote is a luxury to the chronically ill. I saw a statistic once (will look for it) that revealed a very high percentage of medical doctors would refuse chemo for themselves if diagnosed with cancer and would not recommend it to their family and friends. Many MDs turn to alternative healing modalities once they become ill. In fact, MDs visit my homeopath and refer cases to her that they cannot help. And I will look for those books.
Some MDs may resort to witch-doctors if they don’t believe in their own treatment; this is not a judgement on the veracity of evidence-based medicine.
Your point about chronic illness seems to be that “you become desperate and will try anything”. If we support people in that, we’ll see ill people giving their life-savings to con-men who have nothing more than promises to offer. This is not, in my view, a fair thing for the vulnerable.
Some of medicine’s treatments have side-effects that are so bad that it’s a trade-off. You don’t get negative side-effects with homeopathy or other treatments that actually DO NOTHING. This is an irrelevant argument as you don’t get positive effects either. You do spend your money and waste your hope on these treatments.
Let’s not use anecdotes of homeopathy, with no proven causal link between treatment and cure, as a reason to use it. While I’m sympathetic to your plight with a chronic illness, I don’t think you have the right to say “my illness and desperation validates the promises of anyone who offers an unproven treatment”.
I feel you are putting words into my mouth Ashley. Are you dealing with an illness or is all this academic?
I’ve been writing a case for evidence-based therapies. Your response, as someone as a self-declared chronic illness sufferer is
“All you wrote is a luxury to the chronically ill.”
From this I must assume your position is something like “The chronically ill cannot afford to take an evidence-based standpoint”.
I’m not suffering from a chronic illness, though I have a life-long condition for which I will ultimately need medical intervention. I will be using conventional medicine, which I believe to be the aggregation of all techniques proven to be effective in treating illness.
Anything that has not made it into conventional medicine is either:
If you believe differently, then I would be interested in your evidence. And those books sound interesting too.
We are standing in a similar place then: I am not suffering in any way but like you I was told my condition will one day require medical intervention. Yet, as I mentioned, I know two men who were told the same thing but now medical doctors can find no trace of the illness in their bodies. In fact, one of them encountered a physician years later, when he went for a routine physical, who didn’t believe his account and ordered the records to be sent over. The MD could only scratch his head in puzzlement.
It isn’t that the ill don’t have the luxury of an an evidence-based standpoint but that they can’t afford the luxury of limiting what form their healing would take.
My doctor once told me that my condition was progressing. Now the blood tests say just the opposite. Can he explain it? No, he can’t. Which is fine with me as life ultimately can’t be explained anyway. Do I tell him what I do? No. Why bother?
Here are those two books I mentioned:
Spontaneous Remission: An Annotated Bibliography Brendan O’Regan and Caryle Hirshberg
Remarkable Recovery: What Extraordinary Healings Tell Us About Getting Well and Staying Well Caryle Hirshberg, Marc Ian Barasch
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