What is wrong with HOMEOPATHY ?
What is wrong with HOMEOPATHY?James Manjackal MSFS
Many people write and ask me, « What is wrong with Homeopathy? Can a Christian use it? Is it connected with new age and esotheric? » etc. I must say that I have not made a deep study on this subject. But I have seen the bad effects of it on Christians and their spiritual lives. Many who have problems in their prayer life, like–lack of concentration, distractions, feelings of tiredness, yawning during prayer, pains on all over the body during prayers especially when they call upon the Name of Jesus, bad imaginations especially immoral ones during Christian meditation etc- have admitted that they were having homeopathy treatments, and when I have asked them to stop homeopathy, they were able pray well. Recently a man came and told me that he is not able to pray in tongues although he was in the Charismatic renewal and prayergroups for a long time. He was taking homeomedicines for insomnia. When I asked him to stop the medicines and to take normal scholastic(allopothy) medicines, he was able to sleep and was able to pray in tongues. One religious sister in Slovenia told me that she was asked by the Doctor who gave her Homeo medicines for the cure of her cancer to stop having Holy Communion for the better effect of the medicines. Many people in Germany, Austria and France told me that the Homeopathy doctors, while giving medicines, advise them not make the sign of the Cross or call the Name of Jesus before taking Homeo medicines, as normal Christians do everything with a sign of the Crass or a small prayer. Why this exception to homeopathy? Perhaps the Sign of the Cross or the Name of Jesus may bombard the power or energy in the Homeomedicines! I have a testimony to share with you.
Thirteen years before a catholic Homeopathy doctor asked me to bless his Homeo Clinic. Gladly I went to his clinic and blessed the clinic with the normal prayers from the Roman ritual and springled the Holy Water all over as he requested. After a few days he came and told me, Father James, after your blessing and springling of the Holy water over my clinic and medicines, I had to throw away all the medicines as they lost the « potency ». Thank God he did not threaten to sue me! Then I asked the doctor himself the reason of medicine’s loosing the « potency »(power) while I prayed with the power of the Holy Spirit. He had to admit that the power in the medicines was something contrary to the power of the Holy Spirit. Then he asked me to look into bottles of medicines of Allopathy where the contents of the medicines are clearly declared, like Carbo hydrate 15%, Magnesium 20%, Alcohol 5% Water 10% etc, whereas no such declaration of contents on bottles or packets of Homeomedicines is found,instead the medicines declare their effectiveness by « potencies » like 1000 Potency, 10 000 Potency,a million potency etc. The doctor himself admitted his ignorance of the origin of this power or potency. He said that the main effect of Homeomedicines is placebo effect. It is clear that the potency is a hidden power(occult power). I do not make any judgement about Homeopathy as I am not an expert about it, but one thing I will say to my Chiristian brethren that it is not good for a Christian to use them or to practice them, whatever « good » effect it may bring upon the sick people. Many esotheric and new age treatments (alternative therapies) advertise saying « they are cheap and they have no side effects » but they don’t say the main side effect on Christians that « they take people away from Christ and the Church, and the Salvation which Christ has brought to this world ». The Vatican document « Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Living Water » clearly speaks of the hidden danger of Homeopathy and other alternative medicines based on occult powers.
Here I publish a few articles and excerpts of some eminent doctors and experts on this matter and I leave the discernment and judgement to the readers.
by Dr. Salvatore Chirumbolo
Dept of Medicine, University of Verona
Hahnemann, Freemasonry and Comunione and Liberazione: the great contradiction.
1. How esotericism and symbols without sound evidence is a negationist approach towards reality
I would like to start with a personal thinking on my own: I wondered whether some scientific journals, such as the Journal of Medicine and the Person (Springer-Verlag), and notably the Association Medicina & Persona, made up by authorative and valuable physicians and caregivers, many of which trusting Jesus Christ and belonging to the Catholic Faith within the Legacy of Comunione and Liberazione, have never been informed about the historical evidence that Christian (sic!) Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann (Meißen, April 10th 1755 – Paris, 2 July 2nd, 1843), most probably in the years 1779-1781 joined Freemasonry, while Pope Clemens XII formulated his famous seal against Masonry In eminenti Apostolatus Spaecula in 1738 and Catholics henceforth were forbidden to join Freemasonry.
There’s a contradiction between what Hahnemann learnt during his brotherhood membership as a freemason and Catholics faithfully related to the Pope and practicing homeopathy in their office.
Certainly, Hahnemann’s life cannot be merely confused tout court with homeopathy, yet anyway homeopathy is strongly related to his existence, choices and thoughts. Around 1778, Hahnemann was introduced to Baron Von Brukenthal, the Governor of Transylvania, (now modern Romania and Hungary). He worked for him as a doctor or family practitioner and had the additional task of arranging the Baron’s large and valuable collection of books and ancient coins. He also had the chance to learn some of the Magyar, Rumanian and Slavonic languages of that area. The Baron introduced Hahnemann to the Freemasons lodge in Hermanstadt and he was accepted as a member of the Brotherhood to which he remained a faithful member in his later life. The Masons studied esoteric doctrines based on the ancient mysteries of Egypt and Greece and carried on a tradition of initiation, meditation and prayer. It was in the Masonic Temple that Hahnemann developed his deep views of life as a spiritual process of transformation which helped him to see through the blind materialism and atheism that was dominating the fields of science during the beginning of the scientific revolution.
|Recently, the Journal of Medicine and the Person (Springer-Verlag) published a monographic issue on homeopathy, with outstanding contributions from some Italian researcher expert on the field . While any ordinary man agrees that homeopathy is a cultural topic in medicine as like as many others, Catholics should loathe any esoteric practice in the Freemasonry conceptual framework as condemned by Pope himself and Catholic Church.|
The Masons were one of the groups within the Deist movement (i.e. one true and universal God) which was very active for change in the late 18th and early 19th century. For example, the American Revolution was inspired by an inner group of Masons centered around Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790). As much people actually knows, that was probably the motif for which on the US dollar is the capstone of the great pyramid with the eye of wisdom and the words « In God We Trust ». Obviously, this is one of the popular myth and suggestions concerning US dollars. In Europe those free thinkers who wished to keep these classical lineages going met secretly and discussed philosophy and human rights. For example, esoterism in European philosophy might be a possible cause generating in that time Mozart’s masterpiece “The Magic Flute” (Sept 30, 1791), which was full of occult symbols and teachings. Mozart wrote this work to spearhead a successful campaign for the entry of women into the Masonic Temple. Both Emanuel Schikaneder, the Author of The Magic Flute libretto and Mozart were Masons and lodge brothers, as was Ignaz Alberti, engraver and printer of the first libretto of the opera. In addition, the opera was also influenced by the Enlightenment philosophy, and can be regarded as an allegory advocating enlightened absolutism.
Therefore, homeopathy arose within a historical age characterized by Deist movements, Egyptian esotericism, Freemasonry lodges and Enlightenment, over those abysmal pages showing Terror of the French Revolution. Do Catholics know it?
Catholics should lay their trust in medicine to a tough consistency in real objects, reality is the factual expression of God, as Jesus Christ has a physical, human body, besides His Holy Deity (Spirit) and henceforth medicine is greatly defined by a close relationship with real facts and concrete, with real, raw bodies, I would mean, with practical experience, never dreams or sophisms. Or esotericism. The origin of homeopathy is particularly suspect, because its philosophical background is anti-Christian and anti-Catholic, as it arises within a Freemasonry deist context.
Interestingly, there are still many convicted catholic researchers who never raise the odd relationship between Freemasonry and homeopathy, then falling down in a contradictory and awkward situation whenever they speak and write. And are even invited by Catholics to have a speech about medicine and its relationship with pain, sufferance, the mystery of life and, obviously, homeopathy. Yet, papal ban against Freemasonry was undisputable. Only 13 years following Clemens XII’s ban, in 1751 a new papal seal from Pope Benedictus XIV Providas Romanorum forbade Catholics to join Freemasonry, with the penalty of excommunication. The Roman Catholic Church went on with many other seals and encyclicals against Freemasonry in the next decades, for example Pius VII in 1821 (Ecclesiam a Jesu Christo), Pius XVII’s ban in 1829 (Traditi Humiliati), Gregorius XVI in 1832 (Mirari Vos), the six bans from Pius IX in 1845, 1849, 1864, 1865, 1869, 1873, the eight bans from Pope Leo XVIII, of which the most important Humanum Genus in 1884, since recent years, with the last declaration against Freemasonry from Card Joseph Ratzinger during Johannes Paulus II papacy in 1983: Catholics joining Masonry were immediately excommunicated. Obviously, Freemasonry and homeopathy do not share anything, apart from the esotericist tenets and Enlightment philosophy spread out during the second half of the 18th century.
Yet, if Hahnemann was a Freemason at the end of XVIII century, many years following Pope Clemens XII’s Seal against Freemasonry, Catholics should not engage themselves with this unusual practice. Why they yet should, despite this?
Interestingly, homeopathy moves itself as a singular, independent Church, with adepts and aficionados, people who claim truth, safety and justice and are unable to demonstrate why whoever should trust their beliefs, an aggregations of laical, spiritualist priests, bishops, saints, martyrs and last but not least people rescued by unexplained miracles. Why their beliefs should fulfil our expectations for a truth, a great, universal, perfect and unique truth or otherwise if this truth never belongs to science and pertains exclusively to human fate and his personal existence, remains the biggest, puzzling conundrum of homeopaths’ brains.
Symbols and philosophical interpretations of natural world are a hallmark of the esoteric tenet underneath homeopathy.
Similia principle. A cumbersome kinship exists between the “theory of similia” by Theophrastus von Hohenheim, commonly known with the name of Paracelsus (1493- 1541) and the similia similibus curantur, known to be associated with CHS Hahnemann’s philosophy about medicine. Paracelsus’ father, Eberhard Paumgartner, Bishop of Lavant, initiated the youngest Paracelsus to alchemy with the aid of valuable teachers such as Joannes Trithemius (1462-1516), Abbotof Sponheim, and thanks to a prolonged interval spent in the laboratories of Sigmund Fugger at Schwaz, who made him familiar with metallurgy.
Then another clergy man in the historical background of homeopathy: a hidden symbol? Similia principle is a bulk of beliefs, nothing but this. Never demonstrated on the scientific ground. The similia principle has been inherited from Freemasonry. I would like to clarify that there’s nothing against Freemasonry in this commentary, though I am a catholic. I would like to highlight the intellectual contradiction between papal bans and Catholics still trusting a practice funded by a freemason and still containing esoteric principles.
Any principle within homeopathy is tarnished by ancient Egyptian medicine.
For example, the similia principle, which would claim to cure ailments with things resembling the same symptoms or pathological signs or symbolic relationships with illness, dates back to Aristotle (385 BC-322 BC), then to Ibn Sin?, alias Ab? ‘Al? al-H?usayn ibn
‘Abd Allah ibn Sina o Pur-Sina or Avicenna (985 AD-1037 AD), then Paracelsus and in any case is a clear inheritance of Egyptian magic interpretation of sickness and its cure.
In Paracelsus this tenet is reported as Likes must be cured by means of their likes, and not by their contraries, as heat by heat. Cold by cold, shooting by shooting; for one heat attracts the other to itself, one cold the other, as the magnet does the iron. Hence, prickly simples can remove diseases whose characteristic is prickly pains; and poisonous minerals can cure and destroy symptoms of poisoning when they are brought to bear upon them. And although sometimes a chill may be removed and suppressed, still I say, as a philosopher and one experienced in nature’s ways, that the similar must be fitted with its similar, whereby it will be removed radically and thoroughly, if I am a proper physician and understand medicine. He who does not attend to this is no true physician, and cannot boast of his knowledge of medicine, because he is unable to distinguish betwixt cold and warm, betwixt dry and humid, for knowledge and experience, together with a fundamental observation of nature, constitute the perfect physician… Interestingly, Paracelsus had very bad relationships with alchemists and apothecaries but earned a great success as practitioner, a hallmark that might associate Parcelsus to Hahnemann or other boring current living homeopaths, who hate pharmacology and boast to be successful and excellent physicians and practitioners. Deprived from a sound ground on which medical “arts” might attempt their approach to investigate natural events, esotericist-derived practices save only the arrogance to reach the undisputable conclusion “yet, it works”!!!
The similia principle is a philosophical consequence of the search for an arcanum in nature-derived compounds: any alchemist requires experience to recognize essences as such and to employ them at the proper moment, as his aim was to discover a specific remedy (arcanum) for every disease. Within arcana (I would like to suggest that arcana are used in playing tarot cards…) many symbols, myths and magical prejudices affect the raw, bare reality of things and events. Curiously, the search for an arcanum recalls to our mind the bewildering tenet underlying Cullen’s Materia Medica, then revisited by CHS Hahnemann and published around 1814. In the absence of an experimental medicine a widespread belief in magic and animism or pagan religion may have resulted in a remedy- tenet based on probably powerful placebo effects; i.e. the perceived quality of the cure may have contributed to its presumptive effectiveness. Magic philosophy is met in the selection of remedies or ingredients for curing people. Those ingredients were sometimes selected seemingly because they were derived from a substance, plant or animal that had characteristics which in some way corresponded to the symptoms of the patient. This thought was inherited by Paracelsus and Hahnemann from Egyptian esoterism. This is known as the principle of simila similibus (« similar with similar ») and is found throughout the history of medicine up to the modern practice of homeopathy. Egyptians used ostrich eggs for the treatment of a broken skull, and an amulet portraying a hedgehog might be used against baldness. Actually, amulets were very popular. The Edwin Egyptian papyrus, is probably the most ancient document of diagnosis and treatment in medicine (below) together with other important evidence, such as Eber’s Papyrus (1550 BC), Edwin Smith Papyrus (1550 BC), London Medical Papyrus (1629 BC), Hearst Papyrus (1450 BC) and Berlin Papyrus (1200 BC) and contain reference to similia principle, mainly by amulets. Aside from other non-Mediterranean civilization in antiquities, such as the Chinese one, Egyptians were the best and most ancient physicians in human civilization, bringing their high medical expertise even to Greeks and henceforth to Romans and next Europeans.
More often was the convicting “force” around the belief that amulets were able to heal patients from illness that people restored their health, a sort of placebo effect. It is arguable that many esoteric symbols entered the basic interpretation of medicine since ancient times. The concept of similia therefore dates back to Egyptians, as they used to address illness by amulets containing images or symbols identifying illness itself or its plausible related cause . As a matter of fact, homopoeic amulets usually portrayed living creatures (real or mythical animals) or even their parts, from which the patient, as the wearer, hoped to receive animals’ desirable attributes on the principles of similia similibus . However, people living the ancient Egypt, were also highly experienced physicians. Egyptians were often affected by parasites and intestinal worms; even Napoleon probably was affected by schistosomiasis (bilharziasis) during his campaign in Egypt in 1798-1801. Many therapies used by Egyptians to care sickness coming from infections by Schistosoma. haematobium, Dracunculus medlinensis, Onchocerca vulvulus (filariasis),
strongyloides genus worms, roundworms (Ascaris lumbricoides), tape worms and so on, are related to remedies still contained in Materia Medica, such as malachite, which is copper carbonate hydroxide mineral, and interestingly homeopathic Materia Medica suggests Calcarea carbonica or Cuprum oxidatum nigrum for intestinal parasites [3-5]. It is arguable that Egyptian medicine influenced medicine born with Hippocrates, Galen and mediaeval alchemy, since esoterism in brotherhood lodges following 1717.
Contrarily to the most recent research on Egyptian civilization, which enlighted a highly modern, free and skilled people rather than an obscure, esoteric and murky population, the cultural heredity of the wondrous Pharaoh Age was tarnished by erroneous misinterpretations of their symbols, probably due to their translation difficulty, putting Egyptians in the myth rather than the history spotlight.
While Egyptians and henceforth Greeks and Romans were extremely practice in medical arts, the symbolic translation of Egypt occurring in the 18th century, for which many mysterious codes entered the Freemasonry philosophical endowment, excluded medicine from raw bodies to join it to spirits, so from physical (material) nature (matter) to a non- material vital force. This is still the awkward heredity of those times, probably translated with other languages, quantum mechanics, chaotic phenomena, anthroposophy, subtle energies, hysteresis, and digital biology and so on. Medicine in the second half of the eighteen century was brutal and materialistic: a new order able to cure the whole man (body and spirit) arose but…..without legs on the tough ground…
Actually, medicine is still a raw, concrete, handmade and yet empirical practice, though it feeds on scientific evidence based on experimental chemistry, physics and biology. Medicine, I refer to orthodox, official medicine, is too closely related to the material body, very few to souls or spiritual components, it is based on Vierchow’s, Koch’s and Pasteur’s tenets and postulates, really completely “material” and “pragmatic”, as even Egyptians were, in their own way, while we forgot this precious inheritance.
Now: even Catholics are roughly material people. They believe in Holy Incarnation of God,i.e. that the tangible, experienced and objective reality is a direct sign of God and that even God is a man. This is a prejudicial point of view that should make medicine highly material, rather than esoteric. For certain aspects, catholic are more akin with Egyptians than homeopaths, who inherited the deistic and a-material vision of the physical world because of the influence of the Freemasonry translation of Egyptian arcana. Egyptians loved so much the concrete, real human life, to treat death with the highest positive hopefully fashion, which never occurred within the human history before Christians. Therefore, they were highly alive and positive people and hence even medicine was particularly promising and concrete. Esotericism arose from a European mis-interpretation of the Egyptian civilization, due to a difficulty in translating its language and symbols.
The anthropological consequence of this attitude was the occurring of experts completely reluctant to the tough, brutal ground of the “verifying approach” asked by science to ascertain any hypothesis, i.e. if facts depend in turn on another well demonstrable fact, through real, concrete objects besides logics, which render facts and events completely able to be experienced and explained by anyone. Spreading factual experience throughout an airy sky made by imaginative, puzzling symbols, myths, allegories, ideal relationships, breaks up any ground-funded reference with natural causes and hampers the possibility to address a “cute” interpretation of the observed effect, leaving any space for incoming odd theories and resulting in the disheartening conclusion:- Anyway, it just works!-Esoterism and spiritualism are the introductory path to the so-called “negationism of reality”.
For certain aspects, homeopathy is really a modern medicine, as the most diffused anthropological attitude of the current way of thinking is prompted to trust an array of the natural reality where one’s own perception of the physical world, even the most absurd, turns immediately objective and worth of consideration to revise reality itself. Anyone expressing his particular, own opinion gets a score that is as high as any other evaluation associated with any other opinion. This means that any opinion is equally valid and equally strategic for the sole decision to be taken into account. Obviously, this is an absurdum. The escape is to build up a conceptual framework where any opinion of us is able to change reality in an almost “objective and practical”, sensitive, concrete and even raw context of experience. In this perspective, the holism probably takes a role. The need for a “global”, or holistic overview is therefore particularly stressed by politics and governments, while common people trust as true only their particular, single opinion. This would mean that a New Order funded on the most diffused opinion by, often, very popular or very powerful individuals or mass of individuals, even if in a minority outcry, is the major goal of politics, medicine, knowledge, culture and economics. Traditional beliefs such as faith, family, rationality, scientific facts and grounds, clues, practical experience, objective, raw relationship with the mystery of life and nature, were overwhelmed by doubts, relationships, spiritualism, plausibility and truth-moot, imaginative beliefs and speculation, one’s own sensation, subjective, fine and sentiment-related relationships with further untouchable “dimensions”. A prepotent willingness in trusting mysteries and imagination grows quite accordingly to the increase in scientific popularity and soundness of its evidence. Homeopathy arose in this context.
A reality fulfilled by a general, wide, exhaustive Great Presence, which might be not merely God himself, or even Christ, as mankind has many Gods, but an informal Deity.
A Deity that was cut off from the human historical course and from the teleonomic arrow (How cosmos began? How cosmos will end?), the tenet of which funded Universities in the Middle Ages.
2. Catholic physicians and researchers endeavored with homeopathy
Out of a raw, sound and practical link with the physical world, which encompasses also mathematics, science is not science.
Catholic researchers claiming the importance of homeopathy in human health even attempted to convict the Roman Catholic Church of the striking importance of this medical practice. Even this Author participated in a Congress held in Rome in 2009 , organized by Prof Luis. Rey, where Card. Poupard was the main guest of honour.
The fact is that when a man escapes an illness, is rescued and his health restored by a medical practical approach, the conclusion about an “effectiveness” of the approach based on the outcome, though replicated, cannot be considered a scientific fact tout court, as it may be nearest to the concept of a chance-related healing, miracle, fate…or luck. Healing is the complex result of a huge mass of factors, which cannot be sorted out by simplified, naïve and empirical attempts of a whatsoever appears as a medical or scientific explanation, though a good interpretations of the outcome is possible. Any causative mechanism is read under the limited light of a very restricted “space of events” and official medicine owes its success to the simple fact that is rough and extremely material and because it does not use the spiritualistic similia principle or even…amulets or other not demonstrated principles. A great deal of pharmacological mechanisms used in modern medicine are counteracting and blocking or inhibitory molecules, receptor antagonists, enzyme inhibitors, and so on. The most known drug used in this sense is represented by corticosteroids. Clearly this is a quite rough way to cure people and probably his healing depends on following steps provoked and elicited by the own response to that blocker or inhibitor, not merely to the block in itself. You put a patch on the sickness, that’s all, but anyway you are endowed with the availability to trace a path for a possible explanation of what most probably or really occurred within the body, so to result in a good outcome.
Yet, homeopathy, which claims to be more advanced, forwarded, modern than current medicine, devoid of adverse effects, safe, efficacious, cost reduced and so on, funds its originality to a holistic view of the subject, what it represent a possible leit motiv for which people prefers to resort to homeopathy rather than to classical medical practice. Anyway, although this issue is much more fascinating than the brutal, raw medicine, there’s nothing or less that is reported as a sound, scientific, demonstrated fact about this tenet. The holistic perspective of man is another legacy of the deistic, gnostic and esoteric interpretation of physical reality and belongs to a group of beliefs, never to science.. Holism is the deistic concept interesting man and his destiny. Holism cannot be a mere assumption . Holism is conceived as a research anthropological proposal or direction, pathway, in which it is assumed that there are structured orders in reality, to which obey, and that they are not overt but consist of such properties of social life that are by and large inaccessible to the most. The holistic view of man is a pantheistic view of his life, which has neither starting nor ending edges, therefore I care only she/he will turn to a good health, no mind how I commenced, no mind why she/he recovered their own health, i.e. the end of the therapy story. Holistic means to paint with a “spiritual” force any mechanism, phenomena, event and occurrence, arranging odd explanations even for underscored trivial causes. Holistic is the insert man as an anonymous part of Creation, likewise stones, trees, ants or clouds.
We are pole apart from a Catholic view of reality. Although that is a fascinating point of view, very close to oriental philosophy, which yet has its highly reputed tenet, surely much more deep and sound than these colloquial concepts, this vision of man is not a Christian and even catholic conception of human kind. Professed catholic researchers, particularly in Italy, should have a deeper consciousness examination, regarding these issues.
Homeopathy and the Christians: the Pope and many further contradictions
Though homeopathy arose in a context where esoterism and spiritualism funded its main tenet, paradoxically there were (apparently) some homeopaths at the papal “courts”, who were particularly awarded or even beatified. Particularly interesting is, for example, the person of Charles Ozanam (1824-1860) a French orthodox physician who, according to some historical reports, devoted lately to homeopathy [8,9]. Catholics were often deceived by the ambiguous misleading of homeopathy with “natural medicine”, particularly if having an holistic, non-scientist view upon mankind, probably this convicted Popes to award some physicians practicing homeopathy. For example, Pope Paulus VI (1897-1978) seemed to be cured with homeopathy by the physician Antonio Negro (1908-2010), who was awarded the Order of St Gregory from Pope himself. His son Francesco cured Pope Johannes Paulus II . So, Popes and Catholics were always aware of homeopathy as an esoteric practice or rather as a “natural medicine”? How subtle is the boundary, in the commonest belief, between homeopathy and natural or herbal medicine? Very, very narrow, if you turn to an apothecary he is used to mislead homeopathy with herbal, side- effects deprived and natural medicines.
Yet, the contradictory position of Catholics versus homeopathy arises from the New Age interpretation of this practice. On February 3rd, 2003 a Document on the ‘New Age’ Movement [NAM] from the Catholic Church, in tracing its origins and background through “ancient occult practices and Gnosticism” [10, 11], says that …the essential matrix of New Age thinking is to be found in the esoteric-theosophical tradition which was fairly widely accepted in European intellectual circles in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was particularly strong in Freemasonry, spiritualism, occultism and Theosophy…” [10-12]. Here the reader can find that a focus on hidden spiritual powers or forces in nature has been the backbone of much of what is now recognized as New Age theory” [10,13].
Yet a very recent pontifical document titled “Jesus Christ: the bearer of the water of life. A Christian reflection of the New Age” appeared on the www at the link: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/interelg/documents/rc_pc_interelg_doc_20030203_new-age_en.html
The document tried to address New Age Movement, deistic movements, pantheism and Christians, it quotes even homeopathy (There is a remarkable variety of approaches for promoting holistic health, some derived from ancient cultural traditions, whether religious or esoteric, others connected with the psychological theories developed in Esalen during the years 1960-1970. Advertising connected with New Age covers a wide range of practices as acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic, kinesiology, homeopathy, iridology, massage and various kinds of “bodywork” (such as orgonomy, Feldenkrais, reflexology, Rolfing, polarity massage, therapeutic touch etc.), meditation and visualization, nutritional therapies, psychic healing, various kinds of herbal medicine, healing by crystals, metals, music or colours, reincarnation therapies and, finally, twelve-step programs and self- help groups…) but it raises recommendations to Christians (In such a vision of a closed universe that contains “God” and other spiritual beings along with ourselves, we recognize here an implicit pantheism. This is a fundamental point which pervades all New Age thought and practice, and conditions in advance any otherwise positive assessment where we might be in favor of one or another aspect of its spirituality. As Christians, we believe on the contrary that “man is essentially a creature and remains so for all eternity, so that an absorption of the human I in the divine I will never be possible .
The document contains many interesting things and issues, such as those ones regarding people turning to modern medicine: ….Some say that the Christian religion is patriarchal and authoritarian, that political institutions are unable to improve the world, and that formal (allopathic) medicine simply fails to heal people effectively. The fact that what were once central elements in society are now perceived as untrustworthy or lacking in genuine authority has created a climate where people look inwards, into themselves, for meaning and strength. There is also a search for alternative institutions, which people hope will respond to their deepest needs. The unstructured or chaotic life of alternative communities of the 1970s has given way to a search for discipline and structures, which are clearly key elements in the immensely popular “mystical” movements. New Age is attractive mainly because so much of what it offers meets hungers often left unsatisfied by the established institutions.)…A clarification, anyway, comes from the paragraph 1.4, which states:
Even if it can be admitted that New Age religiosity in some way responds to the legitimate spiritual longing of human nature, it must be acknowledged that its attempts to do so run counter to Christian revelation. In Western culture in particular, the appeal of “alternative” approaches to spirituality is very strong. On the one hand, new forms of psychological affirmation of the individual have be come very popular among Catholics, even in retreat- houses, seminaries and institutes of formation for religious. At the same time there is increasing nostalgia and curiosity for the wisdom and ritual of long ago, which is one of the reasons for the remarkable growth in the popularity of esotericism and gnosticism. Many people are particularly attracted to what is known – correctly or otherwise – as “Celtic” spirituality  or to the religions of ancient peoples. Books and courses on spirituality and ancient or Eastern religions are a booming business, and they are frequently labelled “New Age” for commercial purposes. But the links with those religions are not always clear. In fact, they are often denied.
An adequate Christian discernment of New Age thought and practice cannot fail to recognize that, like second and third century gnosticism, it represents something of a compendium of positions that the Church has identified as heterodox. John Paul II warns with regard to the “return of ancient gnostic ideas under the guise of the so-called New Age: We cannot delude ourselves that this will lead toward a renewal of religion. It is only a new way of practicing gnosticism – that attitude of the spirit that, in the name of a profound knowledge of God, results in distorting His Word and replacing it with purely human words. Gnosticism never completely abandoned the realm of Christianity. Instead, it has always existed side by side with Christianity, sometimes taking the shape of a philosophical movement, but more often assuming the characteristics of a religion or a para-religion in distinct, if not declared, conflict with all that is essentially Christian”.  An example of this can be seen in the enneagram, the nine-type tool for character analysis, which when used as a means of spiritual growth introduces an ambiguity in the doctrine and the life of the Christian faith.
This means that Christians and Catholic Church are very cautious in debating New Age thoughts and tenets, and there’s no similar to the condemned G Bruno’s famous episode in 1600, as Catholic Church has profoundly changed following Vatican II Concilium but, at the same time, Church claims undoubtedly that Christians believing in a historical, incarned God named Jesus Christ , born from a Jewish girl named Miriam, cannot join this belief to a pantheistic God, though Catholics welcome any foreign culture, particularly coming from African or Asiatic countries.
The Cultural consequence of this misleading attitude may be the refuse of “bodies”, of “created reality”, of “material science”, regretting to trust the idea that people are rescued by the person of Jesus Christ, reluctant to any material and practical, roughly practical approach to cure people from sickness and illness, aside from popular, folk and traditional medicine, from spiritual and philosophical appealing promises, from a pantheistic view of nature and human life.
Why Catholic Church is so cautious?
For this simple reason.
Catholics believe that salvation, and therefore health, comes exclusively from Jesus Christ, never from nature, pantheistic God in nature, chance, the equilibrium with cosmos and so on…If true, mankind never should need the fact of Incarnation and this would mean the negation of Jesus Christ, His Passion, His Death and His physical, body Resurrection, things that makes medicine very concrete with human body.
This is the only reason why Catholics have to be aware of CAMs and homeopathy actual tenet.
My modest opinion about these issues is summarized as follows:
- God leaves mankind really free to search their paths. Their lives, their wishes, their philosophy, their culture, their lands, their family…This freedom make me sharing my days with any foreign people and I am aware that this sharing is good and full of value, even for me;
- Catholics believe to a God becoming a man, with any aspect characterizing a “physical, historical man”: this brings a dramatic novelty in a Deistic or pantheistic vision of the natural world and cosmos;
- Catholics believing to Jesus Christ cannot be either esoteric in their faith or pantheistic, because the origin of every thing is not included in a circular, everlasting movement of events, but in a singular, time-included event within the history of mankind. It is not a “rule” dictated by Vatican: is a philosophical aut aut. If you trust a person (Jesus), you cannot trust he corresponds perfectly to a created nature that could exist aside from Christ;
- This creates a “teleonomic” perspective of fate and cosmos ending, an arrow with a unique orientation, a single tip towards the final aim, never circular or specular attractive worlds, which at last lies on a “created” world and is prompted to explain who and how created this world, sprouting science and technology from matters coming from the “created” world. If you have a purpose and a big question to answer a “purpose”, you are invited and encouraged to search paths and way of life to respond to this “intrinsic” dilemma: who am I? Where am I going to? And so on. In a circular perspective, probably, these questions are useless or without target, I mean in a pantheistic vision of the universe;
- The teleonomic perspective is the engine of every scientific (rationalistic and experimental) attempt to explain and describe the experienced reality, though many fundamental cultures raised gorgeous philosophical buildings to read mankind destiny and any universe rule, with success;
- The teleonomic approach is particularly related to Christian revelation. This should mean that, from an educational and anthropological attitude, Christians are prompted to believe to facts, rather than ghosts, and their attractive interest to New Age, as Catholic Church is still assessing, depends on their urgent and dramatic need for salvation.
- Any medical practice promising salvation (such as restoring one’s own health) is doubtful if does not lie on facts, and this might create confusion particularly in those people who are used to believe facts.
What Christians say: “We need facts. Miracles also but “factually” demonstrated. Miracles described as undoubtedly testified and documented FACTS. We, as Christians, Catholics, are educated by facts, bodies, concrete and raw reality, we are not bewitched by materialism but believe that Deity did not loathe human flesh, cells, body, blood, breath, the objective nature which medicine is compelled to address EVERY MINUTE, EVERY DAY”
1. Bellavite P. Homeopathy and integrative medicine: keeping an open mind. J Med Person. 2015;13(1):1-6
2. Nunn JF Ancient Egyptian Medicine, University of Oklahoma Press, 2002, p.110
3. Zacharias F, Guimarães JE, Araújo RR, Almeida MA, Ayres MC, Bavia ME, Mendonça-Lima FW. Effect of homeopathic medicines on helminth parasitism and resistance of Haemonchus contortus infected sheep. Homeopathy. 2008 Jul;97(3):145-51.
4. Banerjee DD Textbook of homoeopathic pharmacy. Kuldeep Jain ed, Jain Publishers Ltd, New Delhi, India, 2005
5. da Rocha RA, Pacheco RD, Amarante AF. Efficacy of homeopathic treatment against natural infection of sheep by gastrointestinal nematodes. Rev Bras Parasitol Vet. 2006 Jan-Mar;15(1):23-7
6. Congress Reports-Santé et Humnisme. Traditions and recherche nouvelles. Portes ouvertes sur l’homeopathie. Rome Jan 2009
7. Otto T, Bubandt N Experiments in holism: Theory and practice in contemporary anthropology. Blackwell UK Ed, 2010
8. Ulmann D The Homeopathic Revolution. Why famous People and cultural heroes choose homeopathy North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA, 2007, page 386.
9. Feingold E. The Homeopathic Revolution. Why famous People and cultural heroes choose homeopathy. eCAM J 2011; 2011: 804181
10. Samuel Hahnemann, Organon of Medicine, 6th edition, reprint (New Dehli, India: B. Jain Publishers., 1978).
11. Hahnemann, Organon, 1814, p. 80.
12. Oliver Wendell Holmes, “Homeopathy,” in Douglas Stalker, Clark Glymour, eds., Examining Holistic Medicine (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1985), p. 221.
13. John Ankerberg, John Weldon, Can You Trust Your Doctor (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991) pp. 270-283, 315-319).
14. Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation (Orationis Formas), 1989, 14 Cf. Gaudium et Spes, 19; Fides et Ratio, 22.
15. Cf. Gilbert Markus o.p., “Celtic Schmeltic”, (1) in Spirituality, vol. 4, November-December 1998, No 21, pp. 379-383 and (2) in Spirituality, vol. 5, January-February 1999, No. 22, pp. 57-61.
16. John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, (Knopf) 1994, 90.
Story. Testimony of Dr. Emília Vlcková
I’m a pediatrician. I’ve got four children aged 14, 12, 9, and 6 years. From 1995 till 2000 I completed the homoeopathy training. I have the certificate from the Austrian School of Homoeopathy. Then I attended the lectures of so-called Indian revolutionary homoeopathy and I also completed the course BIHOST (method of biochemical-homoeopathic regulation of metabolism).
I’m a pediatrician. I’ve got four children aged 14, 12, 9, and 6 years. From 1995 till 2000 I completed the homoeopathy training. I have the certificate from the Austrian School of Homoeopathy. Then I attended the lectures of so-called Indian revolutionary homoeopathy and I also completed the course BIHOST (method of biochemical-homoeopathic regulation of metabolism). Since I was mainly on maternity leave at this stage, I especially used to cure my kids and my friends’ kids with homoeopathic drugs. I was very enthusiast about this treatment. I thought I was giving them innocent pills made from medical herbs.
My children were treated for an infection of the upper respiratory tract. I healed my daughter who had bronchitis, after antibiotics showed no effect. I had a wart and it disappeared on the following day after I had used my homoeopathic drugs. Sometimes the homoeopathic drugs which I’d administered to my friends didn’t have effect, but I used to interpret it through my ignorance. Nevertheless, later on, my children started to have various health problems, which I couldn’t explain at all. Problems weren’t of physical but rather of psychological nature.
What was next? Our priest let me know that this method of treatment is supported by the New Age. But, as I defended homoeopathy stubbornly, he ended up telling me to keep on searching. And so, I went to further trainings. I even bought the instruments that they recommended to us. I planned to devote my time to the homoeopathy after my maternity leave. However, there was a great unrest within me. I didn’t know what the real source of such drugs was. I read all available literature about homoeopathy and I asked different people about their opinion on it. Well, nobody gave me any satisfying answer.
I even read the viewpoint of the Conference of Slovak Bishops on the subject of homoeopathy (published in the Catholic Newspaper in 1996); I perceived it as a Church agreement to my therapy methods. Nonetheless, my conscience told me: “don´t heal!” That´s why I refused to treat strangers. I only treated my friends and I administered homoeopathic drugs exclusively to my children. They were a sort of guinea pigs for me. On the one hand, unrest prevailed in my heart, and on the other hand homoeopathic drugs attracted me and impressed me. I wasn’t able to understand it and I always wanted to know the truth and look for it. Then, something happened and I changed my mind radically. There were two reasons for it:
A friend of mine told me about an alcohol-addicted man who had been found lying on the ground during one winter evening. They brought him home and then they said the prayer for the liberation from the demon of alcoholism. One month later, they found out that he stopped drinking and started preparation for the sacraments. She explained this prayer to me. I heard it for the first time.
I received the book of MUDr. Judith Erdélyová: The alternative medicine in the light of the Bible (MSEJK, Bratislava, 2000). Dostala sa mi do rúk kniha MUDr. Judithy Erdélyiovej: Alternatívna medicína vo svetle Biblie (MSEJK, Bratislava 2000). The writer often put together alternative medicine – where she also included homoeopathy – with occultism. I was seized with horror because I thought I also might have something in common with it. At home, I knelt down before the cross and prayed: “Jesus, take away this spirit of occultism and magic.” Moreover, I asked for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This prayer came from my torn heart. Only long time later I understood how much it had changed the orientation of my life. The thoughts which crossed my mind after this prayer were really wonderful. Suddenly it started to sink in. Devices!
At the last training I bought two instruments and I was convinced that I would devote my time to homoeopathy and I would use them. We can test the patient and find the right homoeopathic drug through the measuring instrument based on the EAV method. It’s going to save a lot of time. Indeed, homoeopaths spend long time looking for the homoeopathic drug in the Repetitorium and Materia Medici. Thanks to such instrument, the homoeopathic drug can be made from clean water… It’s sufficient for the homoeopath to own diagnostic homoeopathic drugs. Then the instrument will provide the patient with produced homoeopathic drops, i.e. clear water where the information contained in the homeopathic drug is transferred. The instrument also measures energy in separate acupuncture points.
This instrument was sold at the training by sales representatives from abroad. I had to make a quick decision. My colleagues recommended me to buy an instrument like this. When I bought it, I didn’t think about the way it would work. After I prayed the prayer of self-exorcism, I realized: the instrument makes homoeopathic drugs from clean water. It is magic! I went to check the units this instrument uses in order to measure energy in the acupuncture points. There were no units on the dial. Then I realized that this instrument gave only two simple answers (just like the pendulum): it says yes – when there was a light between the points 80 and 90, or no – when the instrument glowed between the points 50 and 60. I was stunned because I realized it was an occult thing. The practitioners of alternative medicine would have laid themselves open to ridicule by using a pendulum; but nowadays it’s easy to assemble the device with a modern design – and this is an efficient solution. My instrument was under warranty. I wanted to immediately return it and get my money back – it cost fifty thousand Slovak crowns (1660 EUR). I called back the sales representatives telling them it was broken down. They told me there was nothing that could break down… Prístroj som mala v záruke. Chcela som ho okamžite vrátit’ a dostat’ naspät’ peniaze – stál 50-tisíc Sk. Volala som obchodným zástupcom, že sa pokazil. Vysmiali ma, že co sa už môže na nom pokazit’… (in Slovak)
The other instrument – the pocket diary Psion – looks like a bigger cell phone. The name of the homoeopathic drug and patient can be written down on its display. By pushing Mode, the homeopath sends information (i.e. homoeopathic drug) directly into the patient’s organism. This information can also be sent from distance, if the homoeopath knows the patient’s date of birth. Unbelievable! This was what I believed in!
I used this instrument a few times. It worked. I didn’t need any homoeopathic drug. It was sufficient to have this device with me. During our last trainings, the lecturer emphasized the fact that in homoeopathy chemical substances don’t have any effect, but the most important thing is the transfer of information. I felt empty-headed at that time – I had attended the trainings for five years and I hadn’t heard that until then…
I asked my brother who was an electrical engineer what kind of information this instrument sent and why it worked. My brother told me that only a naive person can believe in these things. After he took a look at the instrument, he said: “This is just a normal diary made in 1989”. I missed the point.
After praying I understood: there’s nothing in the device and it works. It must be magic! It must be an occult thing! Later, I got angry because of the amount of money I’d wasted on both devices and called abroad. I wanted to return this instrument and get my money back. I spoke with a homoeopath (a lady). She asked me why I wanted to send it back; so I told her I’d found out that it worked through white magic and I didn’t want to keep using it. Her reply was surprisingly sad: “And what do you think it is about?” I was flabbergasted. The homoeopath knew that it was about magic but at the training nobody had mentioned it!
Nevertheless, I still didn’t conceive the essence of homoeopathy – why can homoeopathy be used even through occult instruments? I wasn’t still sure about these aspects; so I started to study. The first book I came across was bought by my husband; it was a pastoral letter of the Conference of Tuscany bishops: Magic, soothsaying and influence of the Devil (Jas 2001): « Conferenza Regionale dei Vescovi della Toscana, A proposito di magia e di demonologia, Nota pastorale, 1994 ». The introduction explained something very interesting: there is a sort of imitating magic through which similar things engender similar things back. At this moment I remembered the first principle of homoeopathy – similar thing is cured by a similar thing (like cures like) – and I understood that the principles of the homoeopathy are based on magic. My decision on homoeopathy was clear – no homoeopathy at all. Not even the French school. This is about magic – white magic! It’s not about herbs and minerals. Gradually I started noticing things I hadn’t understood at the trainings about homoeopathy and I began to grasp the point…
Turning away from the spirit of homoeopathy
As I’d mentioned before, my children started having troubles. My oldest daughter (she was nine at time when she used homoeopathic drugs) had nightmares that woke her up and scared her. I was thinking about various reasons, but I didn’t even think that the cause could reside in the homoeopathic drugs. The worst moment was when she saw the Devil in a dream. The Devil wanted her to tell him yes; and then she saw another demon who wanted to cut her hands and legs. My daughter and I said the prayer for the liberation from the spirit of homoeopathy. Her dreams didn’t recur but her fear when falling asleep lasted for long time.
My second daughter couldn’t breathe at night and it went from bad to worse. She didn’t have any cold, no mucus from her nose, no allergies. Her conditions were terrible – she couldn’t breathe. She continually tried to blow her nose. She got mad. She kicked her legs on the bed and woke up other siblings. Once I said to myself: try to pray! When she was in this condition, I put my hand on her and I prayed the prayer of the liberation from the spirit of homoeopathy. To my great surprise, she fell asleep. During the following nights as well, she slept without problems.
My son (three years old at that time) showed terrible and incomprehensible states of aggressiveness when I refused to give him some sweets before breakfast or lunch. He threw down things from the shelves and then started throwing away all the stuff from the wardrobe. All educational methods were vain. Once I said to myself: try to pray. After the prayer, he calmed down and ate a little. Still today he likes sweets. But now he’s able to renounce to a candy, if it is necessary. He sometimes gets angry but he obeys.
I didn’t pray the prayer of liberation over my youngest daughter. She was six months old when I stopped using homoeopathic drugs. I gave her quite diluted homoeopathic drugs and I didn’t even use the main homoeopathic drugs on her.
There was another question: what next? The spiritual exercises for the internal healing helped me a lot. I understood the state I’d been in. I intensively read the Scriptures. I burned all my homoeopathic books – strengthened by this biblical passage: “Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men” (Acts 19, 19). However, I didn’t know what to do with the instruments. It took me about seven months to understand that I had to destroy them as well. My husband and I dismantled them and burned them. And my heart was filled with peace…
The life of the founder of homoeopathy
It’s essential to know the personality and the basic work of Doctor Samuel Hahnemann, the discoverer of the principles of this method. Since the death of this controversial doctor, nobody brought considerable changes to treatment methods.
Christian F. Samuel Hahnemann was born as a son of a porcelain painter in Meissen in 1755. He was a very talented pupil and he was soon given the possibility of studying at the Sankt Afra princely school. Apart from the French language he also studied English, Greek and Latin to such an extent that later on he was able to earn his living with translation (since he was a poorer student). When he was twenty, he started studying medicine at the university in Leipzig. Then he continued studying at the place of the famous physician von Quarin in Vienna for two years. Here he got acquainted with the baron Samuel Von Brukenthal who engaged him as a house doctor and librarian. The freemason Von Brukenthal led him into a Masonic lodge where he got initiated at the age of twenty-two. He learned something of deism (a teaching saying that God exists, that He is the original cause of the world, but He doesn’t intervene in further development of the world – the world develops according to its own laws – note of the editor). He finished his studies by writing a thesis where he mentioned for the first time the founder of so-called animal magnetism, Anton Mesmer, at that time a well-known person.
After finishing his studies, Hahnemann, as a doctor, settled in Hettstedt, later Dessau, where he got married with Henriette Kuchler, the local pharmacist’s daughter. Because of his failures in the medicine profession, he turned more and more away from medicine. Nevertheless, his translation activity was fervent. When translating papers from Materia Medici by the English scientist Cullen, Hahnemann criticized Cullen’s comprehension of the medicinal effects of the quinine peel.
He came across homoeopathy through his own experiments. From that time on, he worked tirelessly on research tasks, in order to define the results of the new curative principle. In 1796 he published the famous paper The new principle for discovering the medicinal power of the substance of medicines and for the first time he mentioned here the homoeopathic tenet similia similibus curentur (Like cures like).
Immediately after this, there was a dispute between the scholars of the scholastic medicine who refused this method of treatment very categorically. Despite strong aversion, Hahnemann achieved a higher doctorate at the university in Leipzig where he had been teaching the subject of homoeopathy since 1811. At the same time he was a general practitioner and he managed to heal some people in an extraordinary way according to the testimony of his followers. In his work Organon of therapeutics, which was published in 1810, he described the origin and the way of effect of his treatment principle. This treatise is still today considered as the basic work of the homoeopathy.
In Leipzig Hahnemann got involved in an argument with pharmacists because of independent administration of homoeopathic drugs to his patients. He was banned from producing his medicines by himself. Therefore, he went to Kothen where he could carry out his alternative medicine activities under the protection of the duke. Here he spent a peaceful period of his life that he dedicated to the development of the homoeopathy. The articles in the German empire bulletin went a long way towards spreading the homoeopathy. The editor of this bulletin was Rat Becker, also a freemason.
Despite his advanced age, Hahnemann honed his art of healing. He extended also the second tenet of homeopathy beyond the limit of measurability – i.e. the principle of dynamization or potentization. At that time he recommended people not to take medicines but “only taking a sniff at them.” As an eighty-year old widower, he married a young thirty-five French painter, Melanie d’Herville and moved to Paris. Here they set up an homoeopathy outpatient department. He died on July 2, 1843.
Organon of the healing art
In 1810 Hahnemann published the Organon of the rational therapeutics in Leipzig. Later, it was translated with the title Organon of the healing art. In this volume he laid the foundations of philosophy and methodology of the homoeopathic treatment. In the preface of the sixth reprint he criticized allopathic medicine of those times and he put forward a new art of treatment – the homoeopathy – i.e. the method he discovered. He defined it as a method of treatment that is completely different from allopathic methods. He claimed that sicknesses are caused just by the disruption of the spiritual strength reviving the human body. By using the right homoeopathy you can bring about the spiritual – dynamical change and retune the patient’s state. He administered small doses of these medicines to the patients. He claimed that the old school, the classical medicine, is the opposite of the homoeopathy, as well as night is the opposite of day.
Hahnemann criticized classical allopathic medicine because it tries to look for the causes of the illness and then to remove this cause. However, he claimed that the majority of sicknesses have spiritual origin; therefore, their cause cannot be known by the human senses. He insisted that the causes of the sicknesses aren’t of material nature. He even considered that observations made by the anatomists, pathological anatomists, and physiologists were all working through mere imagination. He repeatedly insisted that the causes of the sicknesses aren’t of material nature. He didn’t believe in the material transfer of an infection, for instance, into the wound or to the skin. He thought that material views on the origin and the essence of the illness aren’t correct. He believed that the illnesses of the human organism are caused and kept only by the spiritual dynamical strength. Hahnemann refers to the wise and good Creator who let him find the art of treatment – homoeopathy. He may appear to be a Christian believer. But what theological sources are behind all this?
If Hahnemann professed Christianity, then we might look for a justification of his spiritual theories in the Word of God, in the Scriptures. However, the opposite is true. Hahnemann refused the basics of the Gospel including Jesus Christ. In his list to his disciple Stapf (Brief an Stapf, Kothen 1830) he wrote:
“I consider the fact that today we read Confucius as an important sign of our times. Soon, I will embrace him in the kingdom of the happy souls. I will hug the benefactor of mankind who’s been leading us on the right track towards wisdom and God, six and a half centuries before that Daydreamer”.
According to Hahnemann’s sick statements, the daydreamer was Jesus from Nazareth who reportedly did not lead Hahnemann to the straight path to wisdom, but he wanted to fight together with mythmakers and sinners over the arduous path to God’s kingdom on the earth. This man of sorrow, who speaks to the thief on the cross, is unacceptable for Hahnemann (!).
A tragic and inalienable fact is well evident: Hahnemann built up his knowledge according to natural religion that was very widespread at that time. From his youth to his death he was a loyal supporter of the already mentioned deism. His extensive work (papers and manuscripts) and also his early membership in the freemasonic lodge reveal his real spiritual attitude.
What is the present-day opinion on the Organon? Even nowadays, homoeopathy is implemented on the strength of the same principles like at the times of Hahnemann. The followers of this method think that his viewpoints still hold. Nevertheless, almost all of them avoid Hahnemann’s metaphysical words and forget the fact that without the spiritual ideas of his founder the functioning of the homoeopathy is incomprehensible. They suppress the original spiritually based explanations and substitute them with new “scientific” terms. Up to now, almost two hundred years later, no natural scientific evidence based on research results was shown that would explain the basic tenets of homoeopathy.
Clinical trials and registration of homoeopathic drugs
None of the well-conceived clinical trials succeeded in reliably proving the effectiveness of the homoeopathic drugs. In the prestigious medical journal Lancet (vol. 344 – 1994), Dr. Reily, a homeopath, introduces a study on the efficiency of the homoeopathic drugs in the therapy of the allergic catarrh. He claims that homoeopathic drugs are more efficient than placebo. Nevertheless, the very next issue of this magazine (vol. 345 – 1995) reports an article stating that this trial contains significant errors that could completely misrepresent its results.
In 2002, the British Medical Journal (vol. 324) published a double blind random controlled clinical trial by Lewith et al.: The use of ultramolecular potencies of allergen to treat asthmatic people allergic to the house dust mite. Two hundred and forty-two asthmatics with positive reaction to house dust mite took part in this trial. Nonetheless, no differences in the results were established between one group using placebo and the other one using homoeopathic drugs.
In 2003, the British Journal Clinical Pharmacology published a study by Brien, Lewith and Bryant with the title: The ultramolecular homoeopathy has no observable clinical effects. It’s a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled proving trial of Belladonna 30C. The objective of the trial was to establish whether the ultramolecular rarefaction of Belladonna 30C differs from the effects of placebo. However, the results didn’t confirm any significant differences between both examined groups. During this trial 37 undesirable effects were registered, two of which were serious – a severe earache that can be linked with the use of homoeopathic drug Belladonna.
I’d like to point out that the above mentioned trials are published in foreign journals that are not easily accessible to the physicians in their common practice. I haven’t found any clinical trial in the Slovak medical journals. In Lullmann’s Pharmacology and toxicology (Grada 2002) we can read in:
“A group of experts of the European commission decided in 1996 that homoeopathic drugs had to be subject to the same trial conditions as the drugs of the scientific medicine and their efficiency and security have to be proven with the same conditions (controlled clinical studies). Nonetheless, according to the current approach of our authorities the “successes” of the some methods of peripheral importance (where homoeopathy also belongs) can be judged only by staff members who perform the respective method. This is an anti-argument which contradicts every critical scientific method.”
Consequently, homoeopathic drugs (reportedly considered as drugs) miss their fundamental attribute, i.e. their proven effectiveness. In the EU countries homoeopathic drugs are registered even without such effectiveness. Conversely, in those countries where they should prove their efficiency during the registration procedure (e.g. in Norway) there isn’t any homoeopathic drug registered. In Slovakia the homoeopathic drugs had their registration at the Research Institute of Drugs Trial from 1991 to 1993 and you can usually get them in pharmacies. Their effectiveness was judged by a homoeopath…
Viewpoints of professional medical companies.
The permanent medical board of the European Community (gathering medical organizations of EU countries) classifies homoeopathy as a method whose tenets aren’t scientifically justified. In Belgirat in 1992, the executives of the European pharmacologist companies had negative standpoints towards homoeopathy. On the basis of the analysis of the homoeopathic tenets and clinical studies, many professional medical companies refuse homoeopathy as an irrational and amateurish method. The Slovak Homoeopathic Company doesn’t belong to expert medical companies. The homoeopathy can be practiced only as a “healing practice” in Slovakia.
When I took part in the homoeopathy trainings, I was not required to have a degree certificate from medicine. The homoeopathy is not a medical field of study and therefore it is not publicly discussed at university. This cure is not a sort of cure lege artis (according to the medical scientific recommendations). If physicians neglect scientifically recommended cures and prescribe a homoeopathic cure, they might be sued for that. The Slovak Homoeopathic Company officially does accept physicians and pharmacists, but only because it wants to establish itself in the medical business. But so far they did not reach this goal (because of their unscientific method).
I gave this contribution because I wanted to point out to the spiritual–occult essence of the homoeopathy. Many doctors don’t have the slightest idea about it. At the trainings, the lecturers use numerous pseudoscientific formulations: vital energy, information, and so on. The doctors who study homoeopathy thoroughly and start doing EAV method, Chinese medicine etc. may get into the snares of occultism. Their views start to gradually change; and it is not too easy to free oneself from this…
Dr. Emília Vlcková
H O M O E O P A T H Y : COSMIC ENERGY IN BOTTLES
By Michael Prabhu – http://ephesians-511.net/
A VATICAN DOCUMENT
The February 3, 2003 Document on the ‘New Age’ Movement [NAM], in tracing its origins and background through “ancient occult practices and gnosticism” [n 2.4], says that “the essential matrix of New Age thinking is to be found in the esoteric-theosophical tradition which was fairly widely accepted in European intellectual circles in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was particularly strong in Freemasonry, spiritualism, occultism and Theosophy” [n 2.3.1].
It finds that “a focus on hidden spiritual powers or forces in nature has been the backbone of much of what is now recognized as New Age theory” [n 1.3].
WHAT HAS ALL THIS TO DO WITH HOMOEOPATHY ?
Everything, as it is the purpose of this study to analyse. In the section on Health: Golden Living, the Document says “Formal (allopathic) medicine today tends to limit itself to curing particular, isolated ailments, and fails to look at the broader picture of a person’s health… Alternative therapies have gained enormously in popularity and are about healing rather than curing.”
Identifying these ‘alternative therapies’ as ‘holistic health’ techniques, it continues, “There is a remarkable variety of approaches for promoting holistic health, some derived from ancient cultural traditions, whether religious or esoteric… Advertising connected with New Age covers a wide range of practices as acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic, kinesiology, homeopathy, iridology… reflexology, Rolfing, polarity massage… meditation and visualisation, psychic healing, various kinds of herbal medicine, healing by crystals or colours…” etc. “The source of healing is said to be within ourselves, something we reach when we are in touch with our inner energy or cosmic energy” [n 2.2.3].
HOW DOES THE DOCUMENT EXPLAIN THIS ‘ENERGY’ ?
According to New Ager “William Bloom’s 1992 Formulation of New Age… All life, in its different forms and states, is interconnected energy…” and one of New Ager David Spangler’s “principal characteristics of the New Age vision is holistic (globalising, because there is one single reality- energy) [Appendix 7.1].
In the New Age “the cosmos is seen as an organic whole- it is animated by an Energy which is also identified as the divine Soul or Spirit” [n 2.3.3]. “In New Age thinking… the energy animating the single organism which is the universe, is ‘spirit’ [n 220.127.116.11]. Recording that Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung was one of the “precursors of the Age of Aquarius”, “a central element in his thought is the cult of the sun, where God is the vital energy within a person” [n 2.3.2]. If homoeopathy satisfies the Vatican criteria of what New Age is, in terms of its founder’s beliefs and its foundational principles in its relation to the occult, gnosticism, esotericism, ancient religious or esoteric traditions, Freemasonry and other alternative medicines, and a focus on holistic health, ‘vital energy’ etc., then it certainly can be declared as a New Age alternative therapy.
At the same time, it must be established that it is not a medical science. This issue is crucial, because in response to his earlier in-depth report on this subject, the writer has received two letters in defence of homoeopathy from Catholics in ministry who have however agreed with his conclusions in his writings on other New Age themes.
Dr. Samuel Christian Friedrich Hahnemann, was born on 11th April 1755 in the German town of Meissen. He studied medicine in Leipzig, later practicing in Vienna, becoming Doctor of Medicine in 1779.
In 1796, he became convinced that as a first step in the treatment of a sickness, a doctor must know the effects a medicine would have in its pure form on a healthy human being.This was followed by a second principle: One should apply in the disease to be healed that remedy which is able to stimulate another artificially produced disease as similar as possible, and the former will be healed – Similia Similibus – Like with Likes. This principle of ‘Homoeopathy’ [from the Greek homoios, similar, and pathos, disease], a word coined and used by Hahnemann, was set down in contrast to Contraria Contraris, [healing Opposites by Opposites] the other therapeutic method available at that time and named ‘allopathy’ [alloios, different]. 1.
He was sure at this stage that the smallness of a dose did not matter…He believed large doses aggravated the disease, because any medicinal substance could cause an adverse reaction unless administered in a proper dose. In 1811, all the work he had done till then culminated in ‘The Organon of Rational Healing’, his most important written work. For the title page of the book, he used as his motto the phrase ‘Aude Sapere’* or ‘Dare to be wise’. *see page 4.
He experimented also with poisons like arsenic and mercury in their pure form. But they produced an adverse reaction resulting in symptoms of sickness. This meant making healthy people sick, not sick people healthy. Where lay hidden the principle of cure ? He started administering dynamized or potencized drugs, pure substances reduced through a special process of dilution, rubbing and shaking and through the addition of an indifferent substance, dry or fluid to a negligible physical quantity, in the dose which was administered to a sick person.
About the result of potencization: “It will be realized that the quantity of the original substance left is very minute indeed, and to understand how such a trace can do any good at all, we must understand the basis of homoeopathic thought. Homoeopaths believe that once an active substance has been released from its physical manifestations, its spiritual energies are released, and that it is on this level that it will be able to help the patient. It is really the spirit of a substance that is being used” [Pathways to Alternative Medicine, E.G. Bartlett]. “From practical observation, Hahnemann found that the greater the potencization, the greater was the power of the medicine in curing the symptoms homoeopathically indicated… In the third potency, the degree of dilution is one-millionth. It may be difficult to imagine that in a dose say of 10,000 potency there would be some medicine left” [Homoeopathic Guide to Family Health, R.K. Tandon & Dr. V.R. Bajaj M.D].
In The Complete Homoeopathy Handbook, Miranda Castro, F.S. Hom. is candid about the fact that Hahnemann’s “process of dilution incurred… derision from [his contemporaries in] the medical establishment, who could not explain, and therefore could not accept, how anything so dilute could have any effect.”
THE FOUNDING PRINCIPLE
“The Organon was reprinted five times, and in later editions Hahnemann changed his thesis… He had earlier said that medicine should help the body’s self-healing process. Now he began to talk of a ‘vital force’ in the body. This vital force could be called ‘energy’ or ‘consciousness’ or the ‘universal intelligence’ of chiropractors, and Hahnemann said that it was this which gave rise to the body’s immune system and made the body heal itself… It was the ‘Ch’i’ of acupuncture, the ‘Ki’ of shiatzu. Like the acupuncturist, Hahnemann came to see disease as an imbalance in this vital force, and treatment became a question of restoring that balance. Like all the other alternative therapies, therefore, homoeopathy had a holistic approach. The patient had to be seen as a whole man in his environment, and all factors pertaining to his state, not just his present symptoms had to be considered when dealing with him… In this, they are [like] acupuncturists, who cannot point to the meridians of Ch’i because they are not there in a physical sense, but who know that they must have an existence or their healing system would not work.” [Bartlett].
“Homoeopathic remedies are believed to act upon the vital force, stimulating it to heal the body and restore the natural balance.” [Brockhampton Reference Guide to Alternative Medicine].
“In the Organon, Dr. Hahnemann laid down the fundamentals of the then-new doctrine of homoeopathy. He wrote, ‘Substances …are medicines only in so far as they possess each its own specific energy to alter the well-being of man… The medicinal properties of those material substances which we call medicines relates only to their energy to call out alterations in the well-being of animal life. Only upon this conceptual principle of life depends their medicinal influence…” [Tandon and Bajaj].
In Homoeopathy For All, Dr. V. Radha Krishna Murti who was Deputy President of the Indian Homoeopathic Organization with almost 40 years of practice behind him wrote, “Homoeo drugs are prepared by a special process of dynamization which retains only the energy relating to the drug in the globules, and not the material.
“Vital Force: A term used by Hahnemann to describe the energy that permeates all living beings.” [Castro]
IT WORKS ! BUT HOW ?
“Homoeopathy has been attacked again and again on the grounds that the potencised drugs cannot be tested in a laboratory… However laboratory tests have been going on in many countries and certain phenomena not acceptable to conventional science have been observed… On his ‘proving’ trials of the effects of substances on healthy human beings, Hahnemann says, ‘As this natural law of cure manifests itself in every pure experiment, it matters little what may be the scientific explanation of how it takes place’.” [Tandon & Bajaj].
“Homoeopathy is a science based on experience…[and] either stands or falls on the principle of similarity…[In] Similia Similibus Curentur [Like Cures Like]… we are not dealing with a law of similarity in the form of a generally applicable rule of physics or natural phenomenon on which homoeopathy purports to be based.” [Homoeopathy, Dr. W. Schwabe]. Schwabe are one of the world’s leading manufacturers of homoeopathic remedies.
“Homoeopaths have to confess that they do not know how their system works; they can only say that it does.” [Bartlett].
In Homoeopathy, The Complete Handbook Dr. K.P.S. Dhama and Dr. (Mrs.) Suman Dhama write, “We, the homoeopaths, devote a great deal of our time and attention to the correct and precise analysis of symptoms and, based on that analysis, continue to administer our ‘magic pills’ undeterred… 2.
“An eminent allopath of England, Dr. Compton Bennett said that if the homoeopathic method was kept secret, the governments of the world would have been surprised by its curative powers and would be prepared to give anything to learn its secrets. How true is his statement! Homoeopathic treatments, if correctly prescribed, work like magic.”
“Although brought up in a Protestant household, in later life he became a religious free-thinker, believing that God permeated every living thing. He also seems to have believed that he was divinely chosen and guided in his work” [Castro].
“He made it clear in the Organon and elsewhere, that he believed his new doctrine was inspired by God…”
[A biography of Samuel Hahnemann by Dr. Richard Haehl]. According to the French encyclopedia Larousse du Xxe siecle  he was believed to received it through the ‘revelation of heavenly powers’, « revealed truth » directly from « God » whom he named « great spirit adored by the inhabitants of all the solar systems ».
[Quotations from Hahnemann’s Organon of Rational Healing].
Dr. H.Unger [a homoeopath] gives a clear description of his spiritual personality: ‘Like Goethe, Hahnemann embodies the two streams of the classical German genre, the pantheistic idealism of nature and the rational idealism of Freemasonry’ (Swiss Journal of Homeopathy No.1/1962).
“The truly homeopathic doctor is initiated into this transcendental, spiritualist world. He must have knowledge ‘of the four states of matter: the solid, liquid, gaseous and radiant states” James T. Kent in The Science and The Art of Homeopathy.
Hahnemann has formulated a whole doctrine explaining man as a tripartite being: will and thought (the inward man); vital energy [spirit substance or immaterial essence]; and, the body, which is material.
“Just a single dose of this remedy will produce a seemingly miraculous cure. How does this cure occur ? As I said, we have no idea, but we do know the method of producing it. What exactly are the homoeopathic remedies ? Again, we do not really know. We only know how to prepare them… When we give a homoeopathic remedy, what are we giving?…Nobody knows. All we know is that it works” [Dr. Bill Gray MD., The Role of Homeopathy in Holistic Health Practice, Yoga Journal, Nov/Dec 1976].
Even his devout German biographer M. Gumpert [Hahnemann,die abenteuerlichen…] who compares him to Goethe, Kant and Martin Luther, is puzzled: “This way of practising homoeopathy is a unique psychic phenomenon”
Homoeopathic authority James Kent in his work Lectures on Homeopathic Philosophy, states that there are two worlds, the physical world and the invisible world, and says that the whole of homoeopathy is bound up in the invisible world.
It is to be noted that ALL of the opinions quoted above are not of opponents to the practice of homoeopathy, but of homoeopaths themselves and biographers of Hahnemann, and are therefore uninfluenced by possible Christian biases against him or the practice of homoeopathy. Christian critics of homoeopathy could not have done better than this to expose the real underpinnings of this supposedly scientific system of healing.
Do Christian writers on the NAM and its Alternative Medicines warn the believer against the use of homoeopathic medicine ?
I have examined around 40 such works and find that every single one of them definitely does. A study of these books reveals that the protagonists of homoeopathy have, either ignorantly or intentionally, withheld certain aspects of the philosophies and life and of its founder, while highlighting those areas that enhance his image as a crusader for healthy living, or lend support to the tenets of his philosophies and the credibilty of his remedies. These concealed aspects are relevant to the believer who has been using homoeopathy, and an awareness of them is critical to the decision that he or she must take, as we shall see.
In Occult Shock and Psychic Forces, John Weldon and Clifford Wilson give some examples to show that there is no consensus among leading homoeopaths themselves who express divergent views as to the reasons for the working of homoepoathy. “After thoroughly studying the effects of homeopathy, Prof. G. Kuschinsky in his book Lehrbuch der Pharmakologie concludes ‘homoeopathic substances may be admitted in the realm of suggestion, seeing that they possess neither main nor secondary effect [pharmacologically].” Prof. Schwartz of Strasbourg who gives a course on pharmacology states ‘No study of homeopathy to date would appear to be significant. No experimentation authenticates the theory.”
In 1966, Dr. Fritz Donner MD., a homoeopath who made the scientific proof of homoeopathy his goal, published a paper in which he confessed all the failures and all the errors of homeopathy discovered during his years of research [Homoeopathy and Science, O. Prokop and L. Prokop]. In another similar experiment by Prof. H. Rabe, President of the German Homeopathic Society, it was found that “all those displaying symptoms had received placebos.”
[A placebo is a pill or liquid lacking any medicinal properties]. That is why homeopaths are not interested in these experiments and content themselves with their individual successes. Present -day medicine as taught in the universities speaks very little about homeopathy. Its basic literature as well as scientific periodicals do not mention it.
THE OCCULT CONNECTION
The Drs. Dhama [above] could not have been more precise. In the absence of any rational explanation or scientific evidence to validate homoeopathic claims, assessing the curative ‘powers’ of homoeopathic remedies as ‘magic’ is probably the truest statement that a homoeopath can ever make. The Christian vocabulary’s equivalent for ‘magic’ is ‘occult’. Christian writers on New Age themes provide extensive information on the following aspects of homoeopathy and its founder.
Hahnemann studied and delighted in the teachings of a Swiss occultic medical philosopher named Paracelsus (1493-1541). They stimulated his thinking and he developed some of his doctrines, including Similia Similbus, based on them.
He became a Freemason in 1777. ‘Aude Sapere’ is the motto of Freemasonry. He was an ardent follower of ex-Theosophist Emmanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) of Sweden who taught his followers how to enter a state of consciousness that would put them in touch with spirit entities. His views on invisible life energy are shared by Rudolf Steiner, the pioneer of anthroposophy [wisdom of man]. Anthroposophy, Swedenborgianism and Freemasonry are treated in the Vatican Document on the New Age.
He adopted the practices of Franz Mesmer (1733-1815), a Swiss-German physician who founded the doctrine of animal magnetism called mesmerism. Mesmer used a hypnotic state to heal persons who were sick.
In the Organon, Hahnemann compared the similarities between homoeopathy and mesmerism. Consider this quote from the 6th edition of the Organon: “I find it yet necessary to allude here to animal magnetism… or rather Mesmerism… It is a marvelous, priceless gift of God.”
His ‘vital force’ is the ‘prana’ of yogic philosophy, the monistic ‘universal life force’ that many traditions see as God.
His predominant strain of pantheism would place God everywhere, in each man, each animal, plant, flower, cell, even in homeopathic medicine. As a matter of fact the vocabulary of the Organon is esoteric and its ideas are impregnated with oriental philosophies like Confucianism and Hinduism into whose philosophies his biographers have recorded that he delved. He lived at a time when especially Chinese thought and the teachings of Confucius were increasing in popularity in Europe. For one who claimed divine revelation from God for his principles of homoeopathy, the occult makes a strange bed-fellow.
What could be the source of this revelation, when he is known to have spoken derogatorily about the Son of God ? [2Cor. 4:4]
HAHNEMANN ON JESUS CHRIST
A. Fritsche, his biographer writes “He took offence at the arch-enthusiast Jesus of Nazareth who did not lead the enlightened on the straight way to wisdom, but who wanted to struggle with sinners on a difficult path towards the establishment of the kingdom of God… the man of sorrows who took the darkness of the world on Himself was an offence to the lover of etheric wisdom… Hahnemann certainly was not a Christian… In his struggles as a spiritual seeker, in his plight for enlightenment, he is strongly attracted to the East. Confucius is his ideal.”
From a letter on Confucius and Confucian philosophy, Fritsche quotes Hahnemann:
“This is where you can read divine wisdom, without miracle-myths and superstition. I regard it as an important sign of our times that Confucius is now available for us to read. Soon I will embrace him in the kingdom of blissful spirits, the benefactor of humanity, who has shown us the straight path to wisdom and to God, already 650 years before the arch-enthusiast” [Die Idee der Homoeopathie].
His biographer Gumpert [cited above] says that he was influenced by animism and was also into other Eastern religions.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH THE NEW AGE
Especially in the U.S, alternative therapies like chiropractic and applied kinesiology use homeopathic remedies. Parallels are drawn between homoeopathy and Bach Flower Remedies, a New Age therapy based on Dr. Edward Bach’s process of ‘potentising’ plants, herbs and flowers, in books on New Age medicine. Because of its occult background and theories of healing, many homoeopaths have no difficulty in employing other New Age techniques like psychic diagnosis, astrology, pendulum dowsing [radionics] and healing with gems, crystals and colours in the selection of drugs, medical diagnosis and preparation of remedies. There is extensive documentation on this.
George Vithoulkas’ Homeopathy, Medicine for the New Man begins with a chapter titled ‘Coming of the New Age’ and his last chapter is ‘Promise for the New Age’. He says, “The real purpose of homeopathy is to open the higher centers (brain) for spiritual and celestial influx. The purpose is to become one with yourself, one with the universe, through your mind”, a New Age goal.
1. The December 2003 issue of the Slovak charismatic magazine Zivy Pramen [Living Spring] carried an article contributed by Dr. Vladimir Biba, State Department of Drug Control of the Czech Republic, and Fr. Ales Franc, former member of the Czech Homoepathic Society. The article provides evidence to support all that has been already said above, also quoting Hahnemann’s criticism of Jesus Christ as, in their translation of ‘arch-enthusiast’, a fool.
The activity of Hahnemann to make use of mesmerism opened his mind for demonic contacts.
The rudiments of homoeopathy are Gnostic principles. Homoeopathic law sets on a very little quantity of substance, involution and dynamic power – nothing else but an application of gnosticism.
Hahnemann admired Swedenborg who was a gnostic.
Some of the homeopathic healers or physicians misuse God’s Word and Christian religion. Examples:
Dr. Bartak: to look at the bronze snake (Num. 21) « is a way of a homoeopathic healing ».
Dethlefsen: The blood of Christ given to the apostles at the Last Supper is « homoeopathic concentrated blood, continuously being practised to reach a high homoeopathic involutioned [diluted] medicine ».
The homoeopath Zentrich says: « It was Jesus Christ, who showed us the highest level of the homoeopathic law of similarity – (‘Like cures Like’ principle), when he conquered death through death. »
2. Esoteric Practices and Christian Faith, An Aid to Discernment, Fr. Clemens Pilar Cop, Vienna, 2003.
Apart from its scientific questionability, homoeopathy is an important carrier of esoteric ideas. If somebody asserts… that homoeopathy has nothing to do with esotericism, then this is factually wrong… We see an introduction of an impersonal force as the life giving principle. This idea is found in Gnostic tradition as well… (In homoeopathic teaching) behind the visible material body of man, there is an energy body (depending on your culture- or in the esoteric sense- on your taste, whether it is called chi, prana, Vis Vitalis…etc]…
Vitalism teaches that man is animated by a ‘vital soul’ i.e a ‘spirit-like vital energy’ (as Hahnemann himself put it).
This Vis Vitalis (Latin for life force) is nothing else but a ‘second soul’ or an ‘unconscious’ soul… Here homoeopathy depends on the idea that- seen from the Christian point of view- very definitely can be characterised as problematical.
3. At the February 2004 Asian Seminar on Healing and Deliverance in Ernakulam, Fr. Larry Hogan, Chief Exorcist of the Archdiocese of Vienna, when answering questions raised concerning the nature of homoeopathy, said that ‘homoeopathy is magic’, that he would not recommend anyone to use it, and that in Europe an estimated 80% of homoeopaths use occult practices for the selection, preparation and prescription of remedies.
Fr. Larry repeated this firmly a second time in a subsequent session. The Semina was organizerd by the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Fr. Pilar confirms this statistic in his book.
MORE CONFIRMATION: FR. MULLER’s HOMOEOPATHIC COLLEGE in MANGALORE
The annual magazines, Pioneer, of the Fr. Muller Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Mangalore, founded by Jesuit missionary Fr. Augustus Muller in 1880, and run by the Diocese of Mangalore, only authenticate our earlier findings. The Freemasonic motto “Aude Sapere”* is printed in several of their issues. *see page 4
They admit that “[This] system of medicine has been struggled (sic) from the time of Dr. Hahnemann till today with lots of criticism” and hence they still continue to reproduce articles in “attempts to justify the scientific basis of homoeopathy” .
“Homoeopathy has made claims of magical cures… Do [homoeopathic prescriptions] really effect any cure ?… Some of the cases do respond, but a majority have no effect”. “Homoeopathy as science of medicine… and as an art of practice, both the areas are explosive and fraught with controversies… Many remedies are partially or unreliably proved… Efforts have been made to provide statistical and scientific data in favour of homoeopathy. However, the scientific community have either refused to take a look or found the explanations above their scientific bent of mind” .
It really means that the ‘explanations’ are not in the realm of science. Why do its proponents feel a desperate need to justify homoeopathy as a science or question its effectiveness as a remedy two centuries after its origination ?
Is it because they themselves need convincing ?
The 1994 and 1998 Pioneers recommend using Bach Flower Remedies [BFR] and yoga with homoeopathy, respectively.
We learn the use of gems and colours, as well as pranayama, the “life energy, vital force or prana” to heal disease in the issue of 2000. The 1999 issue teaches use of the New Age Alexander Technique, aromatherapy, BFR, tai chi, yoga and meditation. The 2003 issue carries articles on BFR, Universal Life Force Energy – Reiki, The Chakras [“gateways for the flow of life and energy into our physical bodies”] and Tachyon – The Energy with Healing Power. An excerpt from the last-mentioned article:
“In addition to the material physical body that we perceive with our senses, we have several other layers of energetic bodies… The energy… comes from one source. In India, it is called the Divine Mother. Christians call it the Holy Spirit, and in many modern new age spiritual teachings, it is called Cosmic Energy.” 5.
The article, like others, also talks of the ‘subtle energy’ of the ‘subtle body’ [which are ‘vital energy’ equivalents] commonly used in Freemasonic and Theosophical esoteric writings.
The common denominator in all the above ‘alternative’ techniques, including homoeopathy, is the ‘life force’ principle. Their inclusion is for the purpose of justifying or reinforcing, as it were, belief in the homoeopathic concept of ‘vital energy’. If it were not so, they would not find place in an annual that promotes a supposed modern medical science.
One Pioneer issue mentions the use of Kirlian photography that reportedly maps the aura. The 1999 Pioneer features an essay on how to induce hypnotic trance states in a patient. Pioneer 2000 teaches mudras [hand gestures] for healing- physical, intellectual, spiritual[or holistic]; and music therapy [different ragas to heal different diseases]. There is almost a cultic reverence for Hahnemann who is often referred to as “our Master”. Misuse of homoeopathic practice “is called as criminal treason of Divine Homoeopathy according to our Dr. Samuel Hahnemann” [emphasis theirs, 2000].
“It is a sin to name homoeopathy linked with his followers or disciples, or by terming it as …scientific etc.” .
Says Fr. Pilar, “There is a historical trail from homoeopathy to the Bach-flowers (Eduard Bach, the inventor of this therapy began his career as a homoeopath). Even today, many patients follow the same trail. Once the door to irrationalism has been opened, there is no stopping.” Prof. Dr. Raynaud, homoeopath and director of Pharmaceutical Faculty in Lyon, France, said about homoeopathy: « As soon as you start with it, you stay loyal to it. Perhaps that is why so many physicians in France are literally addicted to it. » [Zivy Pramen]
There are, to be sure, some honourable and conscientious ones seeking to utilize a homeopathy detached from its esoteric practices. The question is, ‘can it ?’, rather than ‘can they ?’ Of course, those who see some sort of scientific energy at work in water divining, or who believe that water divination is a gift from God, will see no cause of concern in using homoeopathy.
REASONS AND RISKS
As Christians we need to understand why homoeopathy, and indeed many other seemingly ridiculous New Age alternative therapies, are not discounted or abandoned. The reason is simple. THEY WORK!
What answer can be given to someone who says he took a remedy and it worked ? The Christan believer is obliged to make a discerning enquiry to find out why they work. Articles like this provide the searcher with information in that direction. Everyone will have probably heard reports of how a friends or relative was wonderfully cured by a homoeopathic remedy.
But the question is: What was it that actually healed them ? The cosmic occult vital force in the remedy ?
The accompanying measures (no smoking, no alcohol, dieting, taking a holiday) ? Or faith in the healer or his remedies?
About a century ago, the first experiments were conducted with placebos, tablets with no active ingredients. The researchers discovered that, more important than the substantial effect of many medications, is the faith [both, of the doctor as well as the patient] in the effect of the remedy. The placebo effect is probably the most important factor in the success of homoeopathic remedies. The least probable factor in a cure is the homoeopathic remedy itself. All genuine clinical trials have determined that the ‘cures’ are due to either the placebo effect, time itself and the body’s self-healing ability, or auto-suggestion.
Additionally, for the Christian, is the occult factor to be considered.
Supporters also claim that there are no risks from homeopathic treatment. They say that the ultra dilute remedies are safer and cheaper than most prescription drugs. First, it has been shown that several homeopathic remedies for asthma actually were contaminated with large amounts of artificial steroids. Second, some remedies do contain measurable amounts of the critical substance. If a patient takes 4 tablets daily of mercury D4, he would receive a potentially toxic dose. And a dose of D6 cadmium exceeds the safe limits. Finally, a D6 or less dose of Aristolochia contains significant amounts of this cancer-causing herb.
Therefore we cannot easily and quickly claim that homeopathic remedies are always safe. There is an additional risk of seeking homeopathic treatment. If someone is ill and requires immediate medical treatment, any delay could have serious consequences. These risks are present with all alternative medical care.
Where should we draw the proverbial ‘line’ either to take a homoeopathic remedy, or not ? It would be naïve for one to expect a clear response from those who give homeopathic treatment. Obviously this is a question of conscience everyone will have to answer for himself after reading this report.
Most homoeopathic practitioners want nothing else than soft medicine. The foundations and the effects of these remedies are dubious to say the least. It should not be too difficult to do without homoeopathy. There are many herbal remedies which are, without unnecessary dilution, at least as effective in exerting their natural healing power free of undesired side effects.
However, the thinking of many runs so deep in the ruts of homoeopathic reasoning that they are no longer able of critically evaluating these disturbing facts.
1. A set of arguments, ones that were made by a Catholic homoeopathic doctor recently in a Catholic fortnightly [in response to the Vatican Document and also probably to my earlier write-up], who is ‘alarmed by… remarks’ that ‘homoeopathy has recently been labelled by some as an evil therapy, occult practice, primitive science and so on’ , is that ‘all healings are the handiwork of God’, that ‘homoeopathy is a 200-year time-tested healing art and science’, that ‘the origin of the vital force is the Holy Spirit who is God’, and that the vital energy is the energy of ‘God the Creator… flowing through sun and moon,… animal and human bodies’.
She claims that ‘each substance, whether animate or inanimate, possesses this energy by virtue of motion of its atomic particles,’ that ‘this energy can easily be recorded by modern instruments’ and that ‘the homoeopathic remedy resonates with this energy’.
Scientific tests are objective. When performed under the same conditions, they follow certain physical laws and produce the same specific results. Homoeopathy is subjective, and does not, as science confirms. Any honest homoeopath will admit to that. In contrast to the prevailing medicine of his day which treated only the disease, Hahnemann sought to treat a person holistically. Homoeopaths enquire into the social, emotional and spiritual life of a patient before deciding their course of action.
All healings are certainly NOT the handiwork of God.
These include psychic healings, healings by shamans and voodoo doctors, and those of alternative medicines like reiki and pranic healing that too are founded on the ‘vital energy’ life force principle.
If indeed there were such a thing as the ‘vital energy’ then it would certainly be recorded by 21st century medical instruments. But no such discovery has been documented. The doctor also will remember that after potencizing and dilution, there is not a molecule left of the original substance selected, and consequently no possibilty of using or detecting this non-existent energy .
More importantly, Hahnemann and fellow homoeopaths insist that it is a spiritual energy, not a material one, [a fact that the doctor conveniently ignores], which precludes the possibilty of quantification. And, in the Biblical revelation of man as a tripartite being, there is no evidence of any aspect of him, or creation, that is a spiritual energy.
Certainly, man is spirit, soul and body. But that spirit is not the energy that is manipulated for healing in New Age medicine, that was ‘divinely revealed’ to Hahnemann, and that forms the basis for his philosophies of homoeopathy as set forth in the Organon.
Since homoeopathy as a holistic health practice meets all the conditions treated in the referred Vatican Document, it qualifies as a New Age alternative therapy. In fact, it has been called the ‘flagship of holistic health deception among Christians’. When physicians use homeopathy, they actually offer their patients the philosophy and spirituality of the New Age Movement.
2. The writer also received the following questionnaire from a priest sincerely seeking answers to common difficulties:
A. Is there any other reliable source from the medical field who has doubted or questioned the credibility and effectiveness of homeopathy ?
B. What about the doctors, who neither know about nor care for the founder, but have seen through experience that it benefits a lot of people ?
C. What about patients who, after having tried allopathy in vain, have turned finally to homeopathy and seen it works for them and been thankful to God for having brought them to something that has cured them ?
They will never ever know about its founder and New Age means nothing to them ?
As a concerned fellow Christian what will you say to them ?
Just because something ‘works’, it is not good enough reason for Christian acceptance.
Astrology, necromancy and divination WORK. Which is why God forbade their use, warning His people that there existed dark powers which they must distance themselves from.
“See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ” [Col. 2:8]. Paul is teaching that humanistic thoughts and ideas are not a neutral as we like to imagine. There are spiritual forces at work behind the basic philosophical assumptions upon which man builds his society.
Ignorance, in all cases, is not bliss.
As Christians engaged in constant spiritual warfare, we are enjoined by Scripture to increase our knowledge and discern the signs of the times [Hosea 4:6; 1 Chron. 12:33]. Spiritual inquiry is a commendable thing.
It is the Vatican’s awareness of the subtlety of New Age philosophy and practice that resulted in its producing such a Document.
Hence the two significant words “now recognized’’ [n 1.3] in the first page of this write-up.
Healing may not be in God’s will for a person in a particular situation.
A friend of the writer failed to be relieved of a painful complaint after two visits to a popular retreat centre, but was healed when she submitted herself to pranic healing.
Psychic healing and dowsing have been around for longer than 200 years. Does that make them any less spiritually dangerous ? Longevity is not a guarantee of validity. Nor is the popular acceptance of something.
Colleges now offer post-graduate degree courses in homeopathy. Degrees in the ‘science’ of vedic astrology too will soon be on offer. Does that make it any more credible ? By and large doctors don’t like what they see as an absence of science, but it is much worse than that. As a holistic healing system, it offers treatments for everything from Aids to ‘examination funk’ to ‘fear that something might come out of a corner’. A short ode to homoeopathy in the 1998 Pioneer self-advertises its diverse ‘applications’:
“When food seems lumpy,
Bed seems bumpy,
Wife is grumpy,
Nerves are jumpy,
Give Nux Vom.”
John Hoenigburger introduced homoeopathy to India more than 150 years ago, but with 150 homoeopathic colleges and over 200, 000 practitioners, there is no national policy for homoeopathic remedies, or a standard guideline for manufacturing them. For users of homoeopathic remedies there is always the danger that comes from self-prescribing and where poisons are used, and from failing to take timely allopathic medical treatment in favour of homoeopathy, in cases that could turn out to be critical.
And, to answer the Reverend Father’s first question, hundreds of doctors have, after research, concluded that homoeopathy is fundamentally unscientific and is not a legitimate medical practice.
“The International WHO Centre for research of undesirable effects of drugs and medicine in Uppsalla, Sweden noticed cases of damaged health, some of them very seriously, after treatment with homoeopathy” says Zivy Pramen.
Says Fr. Pilar, “It is not correct to say that a rejection of homoeopathy only happens due to a lack of knowledge. Scientifically founded criticism comes from highly competent experts. Prof. Otto Prokop in his book Homoeopathie- Was leistet sie wirklich ? quotes a whole list of such scientists.
One of the outstanding critics, Prof. Fritz Donner, was even a former homoeopath himself. We can hardly attribute his critical attitude to lack of competence.
A professor of pathology, Dr. Werner Dutz said, Homoeopathy is voodoo.
That is the only thing doctors can say about it.
As far as the philosophical aspect is concerned, it should be assessed by the priests, who should rack their brains about it, but it is not the task of the medical sciences to deal with this.”
After reading my earlier detailed analysis, several Catholic users of these ‘remedies’ informed me that they have discontinued taking them, while one doctor has given up the teaching and practice of homoeopathy.
I pray the same for this short version too.
The Christian, seeking to walk in the light and in obedience to his Lord, must not allow himself to be seduced by every brand of the ‘in’ philosophy and practice, especially when it comes to finding help for his body, the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 COR 6:19). That is why it is so important to examine the doctrinal origins and basis of Homoeopathy.
Homeopathy’s message to Western medicine is, to put it bluntly, ‘Everything you know is wrong!’
“Christian and non-Christian alike may be drawn to homeopathy because of its emphasis on the body’s efforts to heal itself and its shunning of drugs and surgery. A few enthusiastic Christians argue that Hahnemann’s system is a gift from God,an answer to the medical establishment which they view as steeped in secular humanism. Despite many claims and alleged parallels to modern medical practices and phenomena, homeopathy is not a legitimate medical practice.
Until it has been categorically and scientifically proved that cure is rooted in a measurable physical reaction or change within the body, one must assume that the power behind homeopathy is spiritual and has side effects.
Need we say any more ?
Only that the Vatican is fully justified in warning Catholics against the New Age dangers of Homoeopathy by including a mention of it in the Document
This is a summarized release. Click here to download the complete document
More articles by Michael Prahbu
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Spanish Health Ministry says homeopathic medicine little more than a placebo
« No scientific proof » that natural remedies work beyond psychological impact, although acupuncture appears to help with nausea
REYES RINCÓN – Seville – 28/12/2011 – From « El País »
Acupuncture can be effective in addressing some of the side effects of chemotherapy, but there is no evidence that it helps with quitting smoking or losing weight.
Research into homeopathy suggests a placebo effect rather than any real impact on illness, while physiotherapy and osteopathy can help with some health issues, concludes a new report by the Health Ministry into natural and alternative medicines and therapies, commissioned by Congress.
The report, ordered in 2007 by the lower house with a view to regulating the alternative medicine sector, was carried out in conjunction with the Carlos III Health Institute and the support of some regional governments.
After carrying out clinical trials on 139 different treatments, it concludes that there is no scientific evidence that such treatments work other than to make patients feel better about themselves.
Acupuncture comes out best in the report. Clinical trials carried out by the Health Ministry’s researchers show that the ancient Chinese needle treatment can help to reduce the nausea and vomiting often produced by chemotherapy. It can also be « useful » for patients with migraine and chronic lower back pain.
But the report also warns that tests showed that incorrectly applied acupuncture treatment produced similar effects to correct treatment, suggesting a strong placebo aspect.
The report suggests that further research be carried out into the use of acupuncture in treating fibromyalgia, arthritis, insomnia, and back pain, noting « positive » first indicators. It adds in acupuncture’s favor that, as with most alternative therapies, there are no negative side effects.
Regarding homeopathy, the report cites nine scientific studies in dealing with a wide range of health problems from flu to cancer, dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy, as well as osteoarthritis, birth induction, asthma, dementia, depression, and lactation colic. It says the results are « contradictory » and point to « a placebo effect. » That said, homeopathy treatments carried out by professionals are « safe, » above all because doses tend to be heavily diluted to the point that patients are often taking in little more than water.
The report also looked at the effectiveness of physiotherapy and other forms of body manipulation, typically based on massage. The Health Ministry’s researchers concluded that there were some benefits to such treatments in certain cases, for example, lower back pain, « particularly when combined with exercises. »
Again, the report says that further research is necessary to determine the impact of physiotherapy over the long term. It noted that spinal massage was of no use in treating headaches, but that massage can have beneficial psychological effects on cancer patients.
An important part of the research was to inform Congress about how best to regulate the alternative medicine sector.
At present there is no specific legislation, although a law passed in 2003 dealing with health centers and medical services generally recognizes « unconventional therapies. » The current law defines them as « assistance during which the medic is responsible for carrying out treatments for illnesses by means of natural or homeopathic remedies or through peripheral stimulation techniques with needles or other devices that demonstrate their efficacy or safety. »
The region with the most authorized alternative medicine centers is Andalusia, with 59, followed by the Basque Country with 37. So far only Catalonia has passed legislation specifically covering alternative medicine. Most of the regional governments consulted by the Health Ministry’s team said they were in favor of regulating the sector.
The report points out the problems in registering practitioners of alternative medicine. « It is not easy to clearly identify professionals working with natural therapies because of the myriad terms used to describe the same processes or medicines, » says the report. It estimates that there are around 9,000 doctors that regularly prescribe homeopathic medicines.
In theory, practitioners of homeopathic medicine must hold a higher education qualification in Health Sciences. At present it is not possible to gain a qualification at technical college level. But the report concludes that there are people applying alternative therapies « with no professional qualification. »
« Despite not being regulated by law, universities, private centers, sector associations, and other bodies are training health and other professionals, » warns the report.
Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon
The Basic Errors of Homeopathy1
Discovering how homeopathy began is crucial to understanding why it is a false method of diagnosis and treatment. Homeopathy was developed by Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). In 1810 Hahnemann published his Organon of the Rational Art of Healing,2 the “Bible” of classical homeopathy.3 Editions today are frequently titled Organon of Medicine.
Hahnemann was a physician who had wisely rejected many of the somewhat barbaric medical practices of his day, but this left him without a profession. In order to support his family, he resorted to translating books into German and practicing other vocations. Nevertheless, he always retained his interest in medicine; for example, he experimented with drugs and conducted other research.
One day he was translating a book which had described the effects of quinine or Peruvian bark on malaria. Out of curiosity, Hahnemann took the drug himself and discovered that it appeared to cause symptoms similar to malaria: general malaise, chills, fever, etc. Hahnemann was struck with a revolutionary thought: The possibility that a substance which causes symptoms in a healthy person might cure those symptoms in a sick person. He therefore continued testing this idea on other substances using himself, his friends, and his family as subjects. Believing the results confirmed his theory, he developed the basic theory of homeopathy: “like cures like.” In other words, any substance producing symptoms in a healthy person similar to those symptoms in a sick person will cure the sick person.
The word “homeopathy” comes from two Greek words which reflect this basic idea; Homoios, meaning like or similar and pathos meaning pain or suffering. Homeopathic medicine, then, is that substance which produces similar pain or suffering in a healthy person to that experienced by a sick person. In Hahnemann’s own words:
By observation, reflection and experience, I discovered that, contrary to the old allopathic method, the true, the proper, the best mode of treatment is contained in the maxim: To cure mildly, rapidly, certainly, and permanently, choose, in every case of disease, a medicine which can itself produce an affection similar to that sought to be cured!
Hitherto no one has ever taught this homeopathic mode of cure, no one has carried it out in practice.4
Hahnemann proceeded to conduct experiments on other people by examining and recording their “reactions” to a wide variety of different substances. These were termed homeopathic “provings.” Once a particular item was given to a person, everything that happened to that person for a number of days or weeks (physically or mentally) was carefully observed and recorded as a supposed “effect” of that particular substance. Hahnemann also culled the litera-ture of his day to see if similar effects had been noted by anyone else.
Over time, Hahnemann and his followers conducted an endless number of “provings,” admin-istering minerals, herbs, and other substances to healthy persons, including themselves, and recording the alleged “actions” of these items. Each substance, of course, produced a large number of symptoms; according to Hahnemann’s research, the lowest was ninety-seven differ-ent symptoms, the highest being over fourteen hundred symptoms! With each new edition of his Materia Medica Pura the symptoms increased. As one biographer observed:
The number of medicinal manifestations he noted and recorded increased daily. While the first edition of his Materia Medici Pura contains information about six hundred and fifty proved reactions to belladonna, the number rises to 1422 in the second edition. In the same way, the figures for nux vomica mount from 961 to 1267, and the first edition’s 1073 citations for pulsatitia become 1163 in the second.
This method of homoeopathic practice remains a unique psychic phenomenon. It goes far beyond the frontiers of what may be learned, and demands an almost oriental capacity for absorption and concentration.5
Eventually these records were compiled into a reference book, the homeopathic Materia Medica (Latin for “materials of medicine”), which lists the substances or “medicines,” giving a detailed account of the physical and mental symptoms they supposedly cause and will therefore supposedly cure.
But Hahnemann’s “discovery” of homeopathy was flawed from the start in at least eight major ways.
First, Hahnemann had apparently misinterpreted the symptoms he experienced after taking quinine. He thought they were symptoms of malaria, but they weren’t. “Hahnemann had taken quinine earlier in his life, and it is quite probable that his experiment had caused an allergic reaction, which can typically occur with the symptoms Hahnemann described. However, he interpreted them as malaria symptoms.”6
Thus, not surprisingly, the particular symptoms described have been unique to Hahnemann and a few other homeopaths. Those researchers outside of homeopathic ranks who tested quinine for similar symptoms have never been able to produce the effects that Hahnemann claimed. In other words, experiments using healthy test persons have never produced the symptoms Hahnemann claimed should be produced.
Lack of Independent Verification
The second problem was that the “provings” conducted by Hahnemann and other homeo-paths and recorded in the Materia Medica have also never been capable of replication by non-homeopaths. In fact, only homeopaths appear to be able to produce the symptoms cited in their Materia Medicas. For example, as long ago as 1842, one hundred and fifty years ago, homeo-pathic “provings” were tested and failed to produce the symptoms homeopathy attributes to them. In a critical lecture series delivered in 1842, “Homeopathy and Its Kindred Delusions,” the famous Oliver Wendell Holmes, M.D., for thirty-five years an eminent anatomy professor at the Harvard Medical School, observed:
Now there are many individuals, long and well known to the scientific world, who have tried these experiments upon healthy subjects, and utterly deny that their effects have at all corresponded to Hahnemann’s assertions.
[The] distinguished physician [Andral] is Professor of Medicine in the School of Paris, and one or the most widely known and valued authors upon practical and theoretical subjects the profession can claim in any country…. Assisted by a number of other persons in good health, he experimented on the effects of Cinchona [Peruvian bark], aconite, sulphur, arnica, and the other most highly extolled remedies. His experiments lasted a year, and he stated publicly to the Academy of Medicine that they never produced the slightest appearance of the symptoms attributed to them….M. Double, a well-known medical writer and a physician of high ranking in Paris, had occasion so long ago as 1801, before he had heard of Homeopathy, to make experiments upon Cinchona, or Peruvian bark. He and several others took the drug in every kind of dose for four months, and the fever it is pretended by Hahnemann to excite never was produced.
M. Bonnet, president of the Royal Society of Medicine of Bordeaux, had occasion to observe many soldiers during the Peninsular War, who made use of Cinchona as a preservative against different diseases—but he never found it to produce the pretended paroxysms.
If any objection were made to evidence of this kind, I would refer to the express experiments on many of the Homeopathic substances, which were given to healthy persons with every precaution as to diet and regimen, by M. Louis Fleury, without being followed by the slightest of the pretended consequences.7
Lack of Sufficient Controls
A third major flaw was Hahnemann’s basic method. He wrongly assumed that his own experi-mental safeguards proved that the particular substances actually had the observed effects. But his safeguards were ineffective, and he proved nothing. All that Hahnemann and earlier homeo-paths observed was the normal variety of “symptoms” that any people would experience over a period of days or weeks, which were then falsely attributed to the substance itself.
In essence, the basic error of the Materia Medica is that the physical and mental symptoms that people would have normally experienced, even without the substance, were attributed to the effects of the substance itself. Remember, the substances themselves were often given in minuscule or non-existent doses, so how could they produce any symptoms at all? Further, these “provings” were carried out over days and weeks and the subjects themselves were told to expect symptoms:
Hahnemann seems to have somehow overlooked the fact that people regularly experience “symptoms,” unusual physical and emotional sensations, whether taking drugs or other stimulants, or not—especially if they have been forewarned that the experimental pills that they have been given might, nay probably will, cause symptoms and that the symptoms might be mild and take several days or weeks to manifest themselves. Thus prepared by suggestion, Hahnemann’s provers were inclined to regard the morning backache formerly charged to poor sleeping posture as a consequence of drugs….8
Consider the alleged “symptoms” of chamomilla as given by Hahnemann in his Materia Medica Pura (1846, Vol. 2, pp. 7-20): “Vertigo…. Dull….aching pain in the head…. Violent desire for coffee…. Grumbling and creeping in the upper teeth…. Great aversion to the wind…. Burning pain in the hand…. Quarrelsome, vexatious dreams…. heat and redness of the right cheek….”9
In fact, Hahnemann listed some thirteen pages of “symptoms” of chamomilla. Can it seriously be maintained that this substance will produce some thirteen pages of symptoms in healthy people? Or that it will cure these symptoms in the sick?
As medical historian Harris L. Coulter observes:
The allopathic physician takes a contrary view, feeling that the measurement of physiological and pathological parameters are more reliable guides to treatment precisely because they are “objective,” while the “subjective” symptoms [of homeopathy] are too ephemeral and unstable to be reliable.10
1 This information is extracted from John Ankerberg, John Weldon, Can You Trust Your Doctor (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991) pp. 270-283, 315-319).
2 Samuel Hahnemann, Organon of Medicine, 6th edition, reprint (New Dehli, India: B. Jain Publishers., 1978).
3 Hahnemann published his first work on homeopathy in 1805, although in 1796 he had published his first paper containing similar ideas (Oliver Wendell Holmes, “Homeopathy,” in Douglas Stalker, Clark Glymour, eds., Examining Holistic Medicine (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1985), p. 221.
4 Hahnemann, Organon, p. 80.
5 Martin Gumpert, Hahnemann: The Adventurous Career of a Medical Rebel (New York, NY: L. B. Fisher, 1945), p. 166.
6 Samuel Pfeifer, M.D., Healing at Any Price? (Milton Keynes, England: Word Limited, 1988), p. 65.
7 Holmes, “Homeopathy,” p. 230.
8 James C. Whorton, “The First Holistic Revolution: Alternative Medicine in the Nineteenth Century in Stalker and Glymour, eds., Examining Holistic Medicine, pp. 31-32.
9 Douglas Stalker, Clark Glymour, eds., Examining Holistic Medicine (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1985), p. 32; cf. David S. Sobel, ed., Ways of Health: Wholistic Approaches to Ancient and Contemporary Medicine (New York, NY :Harcourt Brace Jovanich, 1979), pp. 295-297.
10 Sobel, ed., Ways of Health, p. 297.
Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon
The Basic Errors of Homeopathy (Continued)
Irrelevant Additions to Diagnosis
A fourth major flaw in Hahnemann’s method was his assumption that a host of unrelated issues were important to the diagnosis and treatment of a particular illness. What most people would consider irrelevant information was for Hahnemann crucial. He discusses how the ho-meopathic physician must be concerned with a nearly endless number of issues which a mod-ern doctor would simply ignore. For example, Hahnemann explains that,
the physician sees, hears, and remarks by his other senses what there is of an altered or unusual character about him [the patient]. He writes down accurately all that the patient and his friends have told him in the very expressions used by them….1
He begins a fresh line [of questioning] with every new circumstance mentioned by the patient or his friends, so that the symptoms shall all be ranged separately one below the other.2
The questions asked are often unrelated to any physical problem. For example, the homeo-path may ask, “In what position do you like to sleep?” Or, “When do you become dizzy?” He will want to know how the person feels before a storm—or how they feel when their collar is unbut-toned. He thinks it important to know if they walk in their bare feet or whether they like or dislike having a belt around their waist. Questions will be asked concerning susceptibility to heat and cold, about times of sadness, frustration, or anger.
The homeopath will want to hear about the person’s fantasies and aspirations, their dreams and fears. Homeopath Dr. Jacques Michaud comments, “Dreams are a mysterious but impor-tant aspect of the personality…. The information we draw from them is sometimes precise enough to indicate a remedy.”3
The homeopath will also want to know the exact location or pattern of pimples and itches. He will observe the physical appearance of the patient, including the complexion and manner of dress. The homeopath observes patient idiosyncrasies and wants to know what the patient thinks concerning how others think of him. He wants to know how he behaves during sleep; whether he snores at in-breathing or exhaling. Does he lie only on his back or on his side? Which side? Does he sleep covered up; what does he wear to bed?4
What any of this has to do with medicine has never been demonstrated by the homeopathic community. That homeopaths might be good counselors who ask picturesque questions may explain their popularity, but it does little for their medical standing.
Experience Determines Truth
A fifth major problem in the birth of homeopathy was that Hahnemann’s experiences alone convinced him of the truth of his theories. Nor was he concerned with a proper explanation of what he experienced; the fact that it “happened” was sufficient proof. Hahnemann emphasized, “… pure experience [is] the sole and infallible oracle of the healing art.”5 Concerning his results, “… it matters little what may be the scientific explanation of how it takes place; and I do not attach much importance to the attempts made to explain it.”6
This basic approach of Hahnemann has been the model of homeopaths since the beginning. It illustrates the inherent flaw of homeopathic practice: To rely wholly upon experience can be misleading. By relying on one’s experience—that homeopathic medicines seem to cure, and never asking the reason why—homeopaths have done nothing more than perpetuate Hahnemann’s own error. They have never proven that the homeopathic substance itself is the reason behind the cure. As we have repeatedly emphasized throughout this text, it is not good enough that something seems to work; it must be proven to work.
Susceptibility to Magical Thinking
The sixth major error undergirding the birth of homeopathy was Hahnemann’s susceptibility to magical thinking. Hahnemann discovered that certain substances produced severe and unwanted reactions in some patients. He therefore sought to reduce the dosages given. In attempting to find the smallest effective dose for his substances, he thought he encountered a curious phenomenon. The more he diluted a given substance, the more powerful it seemed to become. In fact, he believed the medicines were immensely powerful when not even a single molecule of the original substance remained.7
Thus, homeopathic medicines were and are prepared according to what are called “successed high dilutions.” As noted earlier, homeopathic substances or “medicines” are diluted according to a standard scale of measurement. One part of the original substance is mixed with nine parts of water or other inert solution. This may be termed potency one or 1X. To get a potency two or 2X, one part of this diluted mixture is added to nine parts of the neutral sub-stance and again shaken. In other words, at potency 2X, the original substance has been di-luted one hundred times. At 3X the substance has been diluted one thousand times; at potency 4X it has been diluted ten thousand times and at potency 6X one million times, etc. Sooner or later, a limit must be reached where there is not even a single molecule of the original sub-stance left. This occurs at approximately 24X and is known in chemistry as Avogadro’s number.
Remember, with each dilution the mixture is shaken, which allegedly “potentizes” it, making it effective. As Dr. James Michaud, a modern homeopath, observes, “Dilution means diminishing the quantity of the substance, according to a geometric progression, to the point to where there are no more detectible molecules, and even beyond. But although there’s less and less matter as dilution increases, there is more and more energy.”8 In homeopathic medicines, dilutions where not even one molecule of the original substance remains are common.9
These dilutions are identified in homeopathy according to a decimal scale or a centesimal scale.
In the decimal scale the scale is 1:10. The starting point is one drop of the original substance mixed with nine drops of water, identified as D1. Mixing one drop of this solution with nine drops of water is identified as D2, etc.
In the centesimal scale the scale is 1:100. This involves the mixture of one drop of substance with ninety-nine drops of water, and is identified as CH1. Then, one drop of this liquid mixed with ninety-nine drops of water produces CH2, etc. Thus, the centesimal scale involves much higher dilutions. For example, a D3 solution would represent one part per thousand of the original substance; a CH3 solution would represent one part per million of the original substance.
What is certain is that by dilution CH12 (or D24) there is simply nothing left of the original substance.
But as noted, homeopathy often uses medicines that go far, far beyond these figures, even to the point of greater absurdity:
This process continues, usually to the thirtieth decimal, but often as far as the one-millionth centesimal, and there is no reason to assume it should stop there. This amount of dilution is beyond comprehension. There is nothing left at the twelfth centesimal, and yet that substance continues to be diluted, one to a hundred, one to a hundred, one to a hundred, almost a million times more to produce the millionth centesimal. Furthermore, there is another scale, called the millesimal, in which substances are serially diluted one part to fifty thousand of neutral medium up into the hundreds of thousands of times. It is worse than putting a sugar cube in the ocean. A bewildered Abraham Lincoln called it the “medicine of a shadow of a pigeon’s wing.” Yet we are in the “other” [hermetic or occult] science and a different law holds….
It is no wonder that homeopathy finds little acceptance in mainstream medicine.10But Hahnemann was actually convinced that diluting medicine was the key to its power. In his own words: “Modern wiseacres have even sneered at the thirtieth potency… [but] we obtain, even in the fiftieth potency, medicines of the most penetrating efficacy….”11 Hahnemann’s expe-rience with allegedly making substances more powerful by diluting them into oblivion leads us to his seventh major error.
Rejection of Physical Medicine and Acceptance of Energy Model
No wonder Hahnemann did not want to try and scientifically explain how homeopathy works! What could possibly be discussed scientifically when you are dealing with medicines that don’t even exist? But he did offer a suggested explanation. This was his seventh major error. He reasoned we must be dealing with energy, not matter. If one can really produce dramatic healings with virtually no physical medicine, then we must be dealing in the realm of a vital force, or some spiritual power that resides within matter itself.12 He concluded that homeopathy must produce spiritual medicines, not physical ones.
But if so, how could spiritual medicines affect and cure physical diseases? Apparently, they could not; the only way a spiritual medicine could work on a physical illness was if a physical disease was only a symptom of a much deeper spiritual disease. Hahnemann thus concluded that disease was not ultimately physical in nature but “spiritual.” Therefore, because disease represents an improper function or imbalance of vital force or energy, it must be cured by a like healing or realignment of energy. This, he believed, was accomplished by medicines prepared homeopathically.
Therefore, homeopathic medicines are spiritual, energetic medicines, not physical medicines, and the homeopath works ultimately with energies, not physical disease. In his Organon of Medicine, Hahnemann declares the following:
The diseases of man are not caused by any [material] substance,… any disease-matter, but… they are solely spirit-like (dynamic) derangements of the spirit-like power (the vital principle) that animates the human body. Homeopathy knows that a cure can only take place by the reaction of the vital force against the rightly chosen remedy that has been ingested.13
Thus, the true healing art is… to effect an alteration in… energetic automatic vital force… whereby the vital force is liberated and enabled to return to the normal standard of health and to its proper function…. Homeopathy teaches us how to effect this.14
But once Hahnemann believed he had discovered that the true cause of illness and disease was based in energy not matter, his hostility toward the medical profession re-doubled.
They only fancied that they could discover the cause of disease; they did not discover it, however, as it is not perceptible and not discoverable. For as far the greatest number of diseases are of dynamic (spiritual) origin and dynamic (spiritual) nature, their cause is therefore not perceptible to the senses; so they [doctors] exerted themselves to imagine one….15
Unfortunately, once Hahnemann entered the realm of “spirit,” all bets were off; he could never really know the true cause of disease. He could never again practice medicine based on the physical body in the way the average physician does. He even confessed,
It is the morbidly affected vital energy alone that produces diseases. … How the vital force causes the organism to display morbid phenomena [symptoms], that is, how it produces disease, it would be of no practical utility to the physician to know, and will forever remain concealed from him….16
Thus, for Hahnemann, “There was nothing he would ignore except the immaterial, metaphysical sources of illness” for nothing could be ever known about how disease originates.17
Here we see the fundamental problem between classical homeopathy and modern medicine. Physicians are trained to painstakingly uncover the root cause of disease. But Hahnemann maintains the entire procedure is worthless. Hahnemann again confessed,
It is unnecessary for the cure to know how the vital force produces the symptoms. To regard those diseases that are not surgical as [physical] … is an absurdity which has rendered allopathy so pernicious…. It is only by the spiritual influences… that our spirit-like vital force can become ill; and in like manner, only by the spirit-like… operation of medicines that it can be again restored to health.18
The spirit-like operation of medicines is how homeopathy claims to cure. Hahnemann taught that:
Homeopathic Dynamizations are processes by which the medicinal properties, which are latent in natural substances while in their crude state, become aroused, and then become enabled to act in an almost spiritual manner on our life;…19
In speaking of the “healing energy” of his medicines, he freely admitted such energy did not reside in the “corporeal atoms” of the substances themselves:
That smallest dose can therefore contain almost entirely only the pure, freely-developed, conceptual medicinal energy, and bring about only dynamically such great effects as can never be reached by the crude medicinal substance itself taken in large doses.
It is not in the corporeal atoms of these highly dynamized medicines,… that the medicinal energy is found.20
Finally, he confessed that homeopathy alone could restore the vital force to its proper func-tioning, increase its energetic powers for healing, and that such powers had divine origin;
Only homeopathic medicine can give this superior power to the invalidated vital force…. We gradually cause and compel this instinctive vital force to increase its energies by degrees, and to increase them more and more, and at last to such a degree that it becomes far more powerful than the original disease…. The fundamental essence of this spiritual vital principle, imparted to us men by the infinitely merciful Creator, is incredibly great….21
In essence, Hahnemann taught that diseases are simply too profound and spiritual for any physician to ever locate them by scientific instruments or specific rests; furthermore, classical homeopaths would claim that any modern “scientifically oriented” homeopathic physician who does so is only deceiving himself. Diseases are the result of energy imbalance, and it is the energy imbalance that must be corrected.
(to be continued)
(from Can You Trust Your Doctor (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991) pp. 270-283, 315-319)
1 Samuel Hahnemann, Organon of Medicine, 6th edition, reprint (New Dehli, India: B. Jain Publishers, 1978), p. 173.
2 Richard Grossinger, Planet Medicine: From Stone Age Shamanism to Post-Industrial Healing (Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1980), p. 180.
3 Evelyn deSmedt, et. al., Life Arts: A Practical Guide to Total Being—New Medicine and Ancient Wisdom (New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1977), p. 143.
4 See David S. Sobel, ed., Ways of Health: Wholistic Approaches to Ancient and Contemporary Medicine (New York, NY :Harcourt Brace Jovanich, 1979), p. 196.
5 Hahnemann, Organon, p. 110.
6 Ibid., p. 112.
7 Samuel Hahnemann, The Chronic Diseases, Their Peculiar Nature and Their Homeopathic Cure—Theoretical Part, trans, Louis H. Tafel (New Delhi, India: Jain Publishing Company, 1976), p. 19; Whorton, “Holistic Revolution,” p. 33.
8 deSmedt, Life Arts, p. 142.
9 Daisie Radner, Michael Radner, “Holistic Methodology and Pseudoscience,” in Stalker and Glymour, p. 154.
10 Grossinger, Plant Medicine, p. 195.
11 Hahnemann, Chronic Diseases, p. 19.
12 Hahnemann, Organon, pp. 112-113; Yogi Ramacharaka, The Science of Psychic Healing, reprint (Chicago, IL: Yogi Publication Society, 1937), p. 104.
13 Hahnemann, Organon, p. 18.
14 Ibid., p. 67.
15 Ibid., p. 32.
16 Ibid., pp. 99, 102, final emphasis added.
17 Martin Gumpert, Hahnemann: The Adventurous Career of a Medical Rebel (New York, NY: L. B. Fisher, 1945), p. 137.
18 Hahnemann, Organon, p. 21, cf. p. 112.
19 Hahnemann, Chronic Diseases, p. 17.
20 Hahnemann, Organon, p. 101.
21 Hahnemann, Chronic Diseases, pp. 14-15.
Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon
One Disease, One Remedy
The eighth flaw of Hahnemann was to assume that regardless of the symptoms a person has, there is only one underlying illness having only one proper cure. Classical homeopathy teaches that any and all symptoms are only reflections of a single underlying “energy” disease. Because they are reflections of only one particular disease, they require only one particular medicine. It is the homeopath’s job to determine this one, and only one, medicine which most closely corresponds to the one disease with its given set of symptoms. “The use of a single medicine at a time is a basic principle of classic homeopathy. Thus,… although a person may have numerous physical and psychological symptoms, he or she has only one disease….”1
Traditional homeopaths believe that only one medicine should be given at a time; to violate this principle is to bring damage to the patient. But many modern homeopaths ignore this principle and prescribe whatever they think is needed. Regardless,
…the homeopathic physician is trained to spot the one medicine, or the group of complementary medicines, out of the two thousand-odd substances in the homeopathic pharmacopoeia, which the patient before him needs. He will make regular use of perhaps eight hundred different medicines in his day-to-day practice.2
In essence, the eight flaws [see also previous articles] of Hahnemann explain our distrust of homeopathy. They also underscore the problems faced by modern homeopaths. How can they justify a procedure based upon a flawed approach to medical practice?
But to conclude this section, let us cite just one illustration of the difficulty Hahnemann’s theories present to the modern homeopath, and the consequences of such difficulty.
Homeopathy believes that because the true disease is spiritual and not physical, the entire organism is affected, physical and mental. Therefore mental symptoms or problems may be as significant or even more significant than physical symptoms in diagnosing the true disease: “Homeopathic physicians since Hahnemann’s time have made further study of the different grades of symptoms and of their relative importance. They have found that mental symptoms when well defined, are usually the most useful [in diagnosis].”3
Further, the homeopathic diagnosis is contrary to that of the physician practicing scientific medicine. The homeopath does not look for symptoms which are common to all men that would assist the diagnostic process. For example, he does not look for symptoms such as coughing, temperature, runny nose, and sneezing that could indicate a cold or flu.
The homeopath takes an opposite approach and looks for absolutely unique symptoms that are not found in any other person. This is why he must examine and question the client so thoroughly. It is only in this manner he thinks he can make an effective diagnosis.
The homeopath examines (1) the mental symptoms, (2) the general symptoms, and (3) the particular physiological symptoms. “In all three of these categories the symptoms which are absolutely dominant are the ‘strange, rare, and peculiar’ symptoms which qualify the given patient and distinguish him from all others with similar mental, general, or particular symptoms.”4 Thus, the homeopath does not look for symptoms the patient has that are common to known illness but “those which distinguish and differentiate” the patient “from any other patient in the world with a similar complaint”!5
This is why the homeopathic exam can be extremely time consuming. Because illness and disease are not primarily physical, to treat them in such a manner is wrong, misleading, and harmful. The true “spirit” illness is what produces the outward symptoms of disease, whether physical or mental in nature. Thus, only by exhaustive analysis of the physical, mental, and emotional symptoms can the root disease be determined so it may then be properly treated. Thus, “most [root] disorders or diseases… produce symptoms which are emotional, mental, and/or physical in nature….”6
Because both emotional and physical “symptoms” of an illness are diagnosed, the homeopath must determine the emotional and physical “condition” of a patient. As we saw, questions must be asked on the basis of patient likes and dislikes in various areas, such as food, his relationship to the weather and environment, and many other things a normal physician would never consider as having any relationship to an illness or disease.
But Hahnemann was adamant about this approach and so are modern homeopaths. Without detailed questioning, the totality of the symptoms and a whole picture of the disease cannot be accomplished.7 Dr. Harris Coulter states:
The alterations in the vital force are to be perceived only by a most careful and exhaustive analysis of symptoms…. Thus the homeopath must record a long list of symptoms, including many which would be ignored by the orthodox physician. He must pay special attention to the “modalities”: is the particular symptom aggravated or relieved by heat, cold, motion, rest, noise, quiet, wetness, dryness, and changes in the weather;… These changes in the symptoms produced by different environmental conditions are often the key to the correct medicine.8
And what are the consequences to such an exhaustive procedure of symptomatology? As we will see, this draining and subjective approach to examination leads many homeopaths into psychic means of diagnosis in order to save time. Furthermore, it also proves that homeopathic diagnosis is a myth.
Contradictory Theory and Practice
It goes without saying that any false system of medicine that has existed as long as home-opathy will have generated its share of confusion and contradiction. Thus, as a whole, home-opathy operates on contrary principles and offers contradictory treatments.
We have divided practitioners of homeopathy into three basic categories: (1) the traditional homoeopathist who largely follows the unscientific and potentially occultic theories of the founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann; (2) the scientifically and/or parapsychological oriented homeopath who attempts to bring homeopathy into the twentieth century, including, however, the suspect practice of “infinitely” diluting its medications; and (3) the “demythologized” homeopathist who thinks homeopathic medicines may work by unknown principles but questions that homeopathic medicines can be effective in dilutions so high that none of the original medicine remains. The first category, the traditionalist, stands in contrast to the second and third categories which reflect more of a modern approach to homeopathy. However, both categories one and two stand in contrast to category three in their more occultic approach.9
The traditional homeopath generally follows the teachings and philosophy of Samuel Hahnemann, offering the least amount of revision, if any, in light of modern scientific knowledge. This group almost blindly accepts all or most of Hahnemann’s ideas and is the most overtly reactionary, anachronistic, and perhaps occultic among the three. They readily prescribe ho-meopathic medicines in such high dilutions that not a single molecule of the original substance remains. They believe that the homeopathic practice of repetitive shaking and diluting the sub-stance somehow energizes it to become an effective medicine. They may employ astrology, radionics devices, pendulums, or spiritistic revelations in their work.
The second category is comprised of both scientifically oriented homeopaths and parapsychologically oriented practitioners. The scientific homeopath usually operates in con-junction with scientific medicine and believes that homeopathy works on the basis of physical principles that have not yet been discovered. This group thinks science will one day prove the truth and efficacy of homeopathy.
In France, there are some three thousand M.D.’s who use homeopathy; many of them think its “effectiveness” is caused by some material reaction in the body not yet scientifically under-stood. They do not necessarily accept the idea of immaterial, mystical forces or spiritual ener-gies. Boiron Laboratories, the major homeopathic pharmaceutical in France, allocates four to five percent of its profits (of $150 million in global sales yearly) to research for discovering the supposed scientific mechanism behind homeopathy.10
This group is embarrassed by the many false theories of Hahnemann that continue to be accepted by homeopaths. These practitioners are attempting to bring new support to home-opathy based on scientific medicine and modern scientific theories such as those in quan-tum physics.
But the approach based on supposed parallels to the phenomena of quantum mechanics is suspect at best, and plain wrong in many formulations.11 For example, neither the actions of sub-atomic particles nor their observed paradoxes are applicable to the homeopathic claim that infinite dilutions of a substance somehow produce extremely powerful medicines.
The scientific approach of this practitioner is sometimes legitimate, but it is also sometimes compromised by the other “scientific” homeopath, the parapsychological practitioner. The para-psychological homeopath combines scientific research with occultic practices or principles. This group often employs such things as divinatory pendulums and occultic radionic devices in their attempt to lend “scientific” credibility to homeopathy. They, too, may accept astrology or spiritistic revelations. They are little different from the modern parapsychologist in general who attempts to use scientific methods and experiments in order to investigate clearly occultic phe-nomena.
But even in the category of scientific homeopath, problems remain in the classification of their practices. Many of them maintain that homeopathy is only effective in such high dilutions that not a single molecule of the homeopathic medicine remains. This raises the issue of how scientific such practitioners really are.
Dr. Desmichelle, an M.D. and honorary president of the Centre Homeopathique de France, states his conviction that “The homeopathic remedy, to be efficient, has to be given in extremely low dosage. The more diluted the active principle, the more powerful the remedy.”12 But what is the “active principle” when not a molecule remains? Homeopaths can’t say.
Further, even when homeopathic M.D.’s use both homeopathy and scientific medicine, the two categories of practice remain distinct and separate. No truly scientific homeopath ever maintains that homeopathy is the practice of scientific medicine; he only maintains a faith that someday, somehow, science will finally discover its alleged workings and then homeopathy will become an accepted part of scientific medicine. But whether such faith is ever justified is clearly open to question.
The third category, the modern “demythologized” homeopath, usually does not prescribe the “infinitely” diluted homeopathic medications nor do they attempt to “cosmically energize” them. These homeopaths are fundamentally pragmatists; they are less concerned about philosophical backgrounds or scientific proof and are attracted to homeopathy because of its “natural” ap-proach to medicine. They believe that homeopathic treatments in the lower potencies (6X-12X) have a legitimate physical, curative effect, probably on the immune system, even though no such effect has ever been scientifically demonstrated. They employ homeopathy primarily because it works and they are not necessarily concerned why.
Despite their differences, the above three categories of homeopathist share two common themes. Neither of the three is, strictly, operating under the principles of scientific medicine, and all of them may potentially be dangerous to one’s health and/or involve one in the occult.
1 Dana Ullman, Stephen Cummings, “The Science of Homeopathy,” New Realities, Summer, 1985, p. 19.
2 David S. Sobel, ed., Ways of Health: Wholistic Approaches to Ancient and Contemporary Medicine (New York, NY :Harcourt Brace Jovanich, 1979), pp. 303-304.
3 Ibid., pp. 301-302.
4 Ibid., p. 302.
5 Harris L. Coulter, “Homeopathy,” in Leslie J. Kaslof, Wholistic Dimensions in Healing: A Resource Guide (Garden City, NY: Dolphin/Doubleday, 1978), p. 48.
6 Ibid., p. 49.
7 Samuel Hahnemann, Organon of Medicine, 6th edition, reprint (New Dehli, India: B. Jain Publishers, 1978), pp. 172 186.
8 Sobel, ed., Ways of Health, pp. 295-296.
9 These categories are for purposes of general contrast; the descriptions given do not necessarily apply to every practitioner.
10 Letter from Annick Sullivan with a copy of personal testimony re: the benefits of homeopathy, p. 2; Mary Carpenter, “Homeopathic Chic,” Health, March, 1989, p. 53.
11 Cf., Douglas Stalker, Clark Glymour, eds., “Quantum Medicine,” in Examining Holistic Medicine (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1985), pp. 107-125.
12 Translation from French of an interview with Dr. Desmichelle, M.D., Elle Magazine, April, 1988, p. 2.
by Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon
Previously, we detailed three categories of homeopathic practitioners:
(1) the traditional homoeopathist who largely follows the unscientific and potentially occultic theories of the founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann;
(2) the scientifically and/or parapsychological oriented homeopath who attempts to bring homeopathy into the twentieth century, including, however, the suspect practice of “infinitely” diluting its medications; and
(3) the “demythologized” homeopathist who thinks homeopathic medicines may work by unknown principles but questions that homeopathic medicines can be effective in dilutions so high that none of the original medicine remains.1
The Nature of the Disagreement
These categories reveal why the homeopathic community is so divided: they cannot agree on either the theoretical basis of homeopathy or its practical application.
To understand how serious this is, imagine the modern medical community vociferously arguing over the nature of a disease, its cause, its symptoms, and the proper remedy. No one outside the profession could possibly know what to believe or the proper method of treatment when the profession itself remained in the dark.
Traditional homeopaths feel that “modern” revisionists have betrayed their tradition and have offered sharp criticism, maintaining they are “pseudo-homeopaths” and “charlatans.” (We tend to agree; because of its premises, homeopathy cannot be so radically compromised without destroying its nature.) In essence, a true homeopath is a Hahnemannian purist; modernists are only engaging in speculations and largely futile research endeavors by attempting to force homeopathy to become what it can never be: scientific medicine. They are muddying the waters and producing confusion over what real medicine is and is not.
To these pure Hahnemannian homeopaths, the scientifically oriented and/or “low dose” homeopaths are essentially heretics performing a travesty upon true homeopathy; they cannot be true homeopaths.2 Further, by their low doses and/or multiple remedies, they are aggravating an illness, not curing it. This is why “Hahnemann viewed these hybrids as ‘worse than allopaths… amphibians… still creeping in the mud of the allopathic marsh… who only rarely venture to raise their heads in freedom toward the ethereal truth.”3
Perhaps an illustration will help us understand the issue involved here. A true Christian is a biblical purist; he accepts the Bible’s claim to be the literal word of God and therefore authorita-tive over his life. Because basic Bible doctrines can objectively be established through accepted hermeneutical principles, modern, liberal, and cultic revisions of Biblical teaching simply do not have the right to the name Christian. Their mere claim to be Christian cannot alter the fact that they deny and reject fundamental biblical doctrines.
But right or wrong, the true principles of homeopathy are Hahnemannian; to violate those principles is to violate homeopathy. This is why even Dr. Grossinger concludes, “These events prove that Hahnemann was right when he denied the possibility of half-homeopathy. Half-home-opathy is nonhomeopathy.”4
Nevertheless, all this reveals why homeopathy will never agree on even fundamental issues; the divisions in theory and practice are far too deep and unmanageable.
If classical practitioners reject modern heretics, modern “homeopaths” think the traditionalists are ignorant and deceived.
The traditional homeopath is perfectly comfortable with the following statement made by the leading homeopathist at the turn of the century, James Tyler Kent, M.D., a statement which makes the more modern homeopath cringe: “There is no disease that exists of which the cause is known to man by the eye or by the microscope. Causes are infinitely too fine to be observed by any instrument of precision.”5
Significantly, Hahnemann was his own worst enemy. It was the extremely bizarre nature of his theories which caused the divisions and confusions among his own followers. For example, Hahnemann claimed that it took him twelve long and arduous years of diligent research and study to discover the major cause of almost all human disease. He claimed that seven-eighths of all disease including things like cancer, asthma, paralysis, deafness, madness, and epilepsy was directly attributed to psora, in less refined terms, itch.
According to Hahnemann’s Organon, this “psora, [is] the only real fundamental cause and producer of all the other… innumerable forms of disease.”6
But “a large majority” of Hahnemann’s own followers refused to accept the idea and, accord-ing to Wolff, a leading homeopath and contemporary of Hahnemann, it “has met with the great-est opposition from Homeopathic physicians themselves.”7 (In his 1842 critical lectures on homeopathy, Oliver Wendell Holmes referred to it as “an almost insane conception, which I am glad to get rid of.”8)
But homeopaths have always been at each other’s throats, so to speak. For example, in 1900 in James Tyler Kent’s Lectures on Homeopathic Philosophy, a commentary on Hahnemann’s Organon, he observes that even though homeopathy was extensively distributed throughout the world, its own doctrines were perverted and polluted primarily by homeopaths themselves.
As a whole, little has changed. Homeopathy is everywhere a contrary practice. Hahnemann himself was aware of contradictory methods and results among his followers,9 and this problem has been the plague of homeopathy ever since. Some homeopaths are purists when it comes to Hahnemann’s theories; some pick and choose what seems suitable to them, and some reject most of his ideas entirely. Some are thus adamant about one aspect of homeopathy that others reject entirely; some prescribe homeopathic medicines in low dilutions, others in incredibly high dilutions, and both claim that only their method is proper. Some homeopaths are vitalists; others allegedly materialists. Some are modern and ecletic, prescribing a variety of additional remedies or therapies along with homeopathy; some stick to homeopathy alone.
In addition, the drugs and their symptoms vary considerably: “Thousands of homeopathic drugs are listed in the cults’ Materia Medicas—handbooks that vary widely from time to time and from country to country 10”
Furthermore, homeopathic Materia Medicas are not exactly reliable. As Oliver Wendell Holmes commented over a century ago in his critical lectures on homeopathy:
What are we to think of a standard practical author on Materia Medica, who at one time omits to designate the proper doses of his remedies, and at another to let us have any means of knowing whether a remedy has even been tried or not, while he is recommending its employment in the most critical and threatening diseases?11
Some homeopaths think their medicines must be administered in a state of absolute purity, unmixed with other substances, otherwise you will destroy its effectiveness. But other homeo-paths mix substances freely and claim it is too cumbersome to try and find the one “correct” remedy according to classical homeopathy.12
With homeopaths employing anti-scientific methods, subjective evaluations, and occultic practices and with wide disagreements about theory and practice, it is hardly surprising that the world of homeopathy lives in such disarray.13
As noted, Dr. Richard Grossinger spent ten years researching homeopathy. He concludes that in recent years around the world, “Standards have deteriorated; far worse, there is contro-versy from country to country, and even from doctor to doctor, as to what constitutes acceptable homeopathic treatment.”14 He ends his discussion by noting:
Different levels and types of homoeopathy are inevitable as long as basic contradictions within the system and the practice are unresolved. A person today seeking homeopathic treatment truly enters a great metaphysical riddle, further compounded by historical and ideological variations. We are finally left without an absolutely clear sense of what homeopathy is, without a sense that will allow us to judge practitioners and give clear advice to people seeking doctors.15
Perhaps James Taylor Kent was correct when he commented, “We cannot rid ourselves of confusion until we learn what confusion is.”16
1 See “Homeopathy, Part 3” (November 2004) for more details.
2 James Tyler Kent, Lectures on Homeopathic Philosophy (Richmond, CA: North Atlantic Books, 1979), pp. 81, 87.
3 Richard Grossinger, Planet Medicine: From Stone Age Shamanism to Post-Industrial Healing (Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1980), p. 231.
4 Grossinger, Planet Medicine, p. 238, cf. p. 234.
5 Kent, Lectures, p. ii.
6 Samuel Hahnemann, Oragon of Medicine, 6th ed., rpt. (New Dehli, India: B. Jain Publishers, 1978), p. 167.
7 Douglas Stalker, Clark Glymour, eds., Examining Holistic Medicine (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1985), p. 242; cf. p. 225.
8 Oliver Wendell Holmes, “Homeopathy,” in Ibid., p. 241.
9 e.g., Samuel Hahnemann, The Chronic Diseases, Their Peculiar Nature and Their Homeopathic Cure—Theoretical Part, trans., Louis H. Tafel (New Dehli, India: Jain Publishing Co., 1976), p. 18.
10 Martin Gardner, “Water with Memory? The Dilution Affair: A Special Report,” The Skeptical Inquirer, Winter, 1989, p. 133; See also Wallace I. Sampson, “When Not to Believe the Unbelievable,” and Elie A. Shneour, “The Benveniste Case: A Reappraisal,” in The Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 14, No. 1, Fall, 1989, pp. 90-95.
11 Holmes, “Homeopathy,” p. 230.
12 Ibid., p. 223; Evelyn deSmedt, et al., Life Arts: A Practical Guide to Total Being—New Medicine and Ancient Wisdom (New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1977), p. 143.
13 Holmes, “Homeopathy,” pp. 225, 242; Kent, Lectures, p. 81.
14 Grossinger, Planet Medicine, p. 240.
15 Ibid., p. 244.
16 Kent, Lectures, p. 55.
by Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon
Evaluation of Evidence
by Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon
Homeopathic practitioners offer two basic lines of evidence for their art, one theoretical and the other practical. Theoretical Argument Homeopaths observe alleged similarities to scientifically demonstrated realities and suggest that these indications supply theoretical evidence for homeopathy. Here the practitioner appeals to such things as vaccination, allergies, and the body’s hormones and biochemical reactions. How do these relate to homeopathy? Vaccinations allegedly demonstrate the « like cures like » principle because an individual is immunized against a disease by giving him a small part of that which causes the disease. Allergies allegedly demonstrate that substances which are often in a very weak concentration can produce very powerful and even violent reactions in the human body. Hormones and biocatalysts also demonstrate that minute amounts of a substance can powerfully affect the physical organism. Homeopaths will cite illustrations. One milligram of acetylcholine dissolved in 500,000 gallons of blood will lower a cat’s blood pressure. Pure penicillin will inhibit the development of some microorganisms even when it is diluted at one part to fifty million; the thyroid hormone is effective at one part per ten trillion of blood plasma, etc. The problem with these illustrations is that even if they were legitimate applications, they could still not prove homeopathy. They could only suggest it might be true in theory; but, in fact, they are usually not even legitimate applications. Vaccinations and homeopathic remedies work on entirely different principles and have different effects. Vaccinations deal with physical substances designed to stimulate the production of specific antibodies to act against specific microbes. It is scientifically demonstrated that they are effective in this. How does this have anything to do with homeopathy? Homeopathic treatments are not intended to stimulate antibodies, do not produce them, and, in fact, often do not contain even a single molecule of the alleged medicine. Vaccinations work on a physical, material level; homeopathic treatments work on an entirely non-physical level, allegedly altering the « vital force » of the body. Or, they claimed to work in a scientifically undemonstrated manner supposedly acting on the immune system in some unknown way. But such supposed action is not much different from magic; magic is also scientifically undemonstrated and works in an unknown manner. In the cases of allergies, hormones, and biocatalysts, we are again dealing with the demonstrated effect of known material substances on the body. They are proven to work as claimed. But homeopathic medicines or effects do not work as claimed; they are not material, not demonstrated, and probably never can be demonstrated. In addition, although hormones, biocatalysts, and the entities producing allergies are much smaller than tiny grains of sand, they are gigantic suns in comparison with homeopathic medicines. Homeopathic remedies are infinitely more minute or even non-existent, yet such « medicines » of homeopathy are said to work even when none of the original medicine remains. Another approach is to cite the mysteries of modern theoretical physics as a defense for homeopathic practice. The new age movement as a whole, including new age medicine, appeals to the mysteries of theoretical physics as a justification for its practices, but largely upon a fraudulent basis.1 There are indeed mysteries in quantum physics—wonderful mysteries. But the argument is invalid as a defense of homeopathy or any other new age medicine. Physicists and other scientists around the world are indeed studying the mysteries of particle physics. Why aren’t they studying the mysteries of homeopathy? If what homeopathy claims is true, then the implications are far more important to men than those of theoretical physics. They would virtually demand attention. If homeopathy had even demonstrated genuine mysteries, it would literally command the attention of the scientific world.2 Why then does the scientific world ignore homeopathy? In fact, because homeopathy has not yet demonstrated a real mystery exists. Where is the theoretical evidence for homeopathy? The alleged parallels to classical medicine which attempt to provide a « scientific » explanation or justification for homeopathy are largely irrelevant. The proposed arguments from quantum mechanics are inapplicable. Nevertheless, homeopaths still claim their practices work. Practical Argument The other major evidence cited by homeopathic practitioners is that homeopathy works. This is the one claim we find repeated again and again. Believers in homeopathy offer endless testimonies to its curative powers.3 Homeopaths themselves claim, « The best reason to use homeopathic medicines in self-care is that they work, »4 and « …homeopathy must be judged by its results…. »5 As Coulter remarks,
by Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon
Thus, homeopaths ask us to believe in magic: that the equivalent mixture of one drop of water in a million billion trillion oceans the size of our solar system has great medicinal powers: « It is like taking a grain of a substance and dissolving it in billions of spheres of water, each with the diameter of the solar system »5 and then claiming that the resulting mixture is powerful medicine. That is nonsense, not medicine.
Homeopathic Premise 4: Because illness has both mental and physical symptoms, treating disease requires an evaluation of emotional and mental conditions as well. Scientific Response: Physical illness per se does not result in the kinds ofmental symptoms homeopathy assigns to them. Using mental and emotional factors in the evaluation of physical disease may be relevant but it is not always relevant. Physical disease is primarily a physical problem. Even in those areas where the mental and physical realms may be considered related, emotional factors are not accorded the interpretation nor the importance homeopathy assigns to them.
Homeopathic Premise 5: Once administered, the homeopathic treatment will remove the entire disease, from its root cause—the vital force dysfunction in the « spiritual » body—to the physical symptoms in the outer or material body. Merely treating outer symptoms—physical disease—is futile and dangerous. This will only drive the disease deeper and cause additional, more severe mental and physical symptoms.Scientific Response: Where is the evidence that homeopathic medicine will cure the entire disease from its « root » cause to its outer symptoms? Homeopaths who claim to be practicing scientific medicine and yet operate on the premises of vitalistic or occultic principles are engaging in deception. Further, the entire history of modern medicine proves that its treatment of disease and illness is effective and beneficial. No evidence anywhere suggests its methods cause the harmful consequences homeopathy claims for them.
Homeopathic Premise 6: Diagnosis and treatment must be totally individualized. The homeopath does not seek to ascertain the symptoms a patient has in common with other men, as a means to diagnosis—e.g., headache, fever, and stuffy nose usually indicate a cold. Rather, he seeks those symptoms that are unique and which the patient does not have in common with other men. Hence, the need for extremely detailed questioning of the patient’s personal history, emotional state, habits, etc. Scientific Response: Homeopathic diagnosis and treatment is wasteful and ineffective to the extent that it fails to utilize diagnosis based on common symptoms revealing common illness or disease capable of common treatment.
Homeopathic Premise 7: The treatment methods of modern medical pharmacology, such as prescription drugs, should be opposed because homeopathic remedies are rendered ineffective when such drugs are used. If a person wants to be treated homeopathically, he should avoid the services of a physician, at least during his period of homeopathic treatment. Thus, homeopathy is « most effective in treating infants, children, and individuals who have received little or no physiological (allopathic) medication. »6 Scientific Response: Homeopathic medicines were ineffective in the first place. Perhaps the reason homeopathy is more effective with people who have had no medication (if that is true) is that these people are more healthy to begin with. Furthermore, the vastly superior effectiveness of modern drugs and treatments put homeopathy out of business in the early twentieth century. In fact, modern drugs and medicine became so effective that not a single homeopathic hospital, school, or pharmacy remained, and of fourteen thousand practitioners, only a few hundred survived. Finally the homeopath thinks his medicines are effective because over a long period of symptom classification and treatment he sees his patient improve. But the patient would have improved anyway. And if homeopathy has never established the effectiveness of its treatments, how can anyone know it was modern drugs that supposedly made them ineffective?
Homeopathic Premise 8: What is important is that homeopathy works. How or why it works is irrelevant.Scientific Response: Establishing how and why something works is crucial; it is the essence of modern scientific medicine. This is the only possible means to determine if a treatment is truly effective. To willfully remain in the dark about whether or not a treatment works on the basis of its stated principles and is truly effective is irrational and dangerous.
Homeopathic Premise 9: Homeopathy itself is the absolute authority; it is a « perfect science » with almost infinite power to cure almost anything.7Scientific Response: Scientific testing has proven that homeopathic principles and methods are false and ineffective; if and when homeopathy works, it is working on other principles besides those it holds true. The burden of proof rests with the homeopathic community to prove its claims. Merely asserting that homeopathic medicine somehow magically influences the immune system and that it will be scientifically proven to do so in the future is an inappropriate response to critics. Anyone could claim that anything magically influences the immune system and will be proven in the future, like, for example, watching butterflies. That is hardly a reason to believe those who make such claims. Homeopathic Premise 10: Only homeopathy is true medicine, because it alone treats the true inner cause of illness. Modern scientific medicine is ineffective. At best, it only has the power to treat symptoms, not root causes. At worst, modern scientific medicine is an unmitigated evil employed by deceived malpractitioners who are portrayers of death and destruction.8Scientific Response: Modern scientific medicine has demonstrated its benefits; homeopathy remains unproven; therefore, the real danger lies in homeopathic practice. These above ten comparisons between homeopathy and modern medicine reveal that the two methods are fundamentally incompatible. Doctors who mix the two practices are certainly free to do so; nevertheless, one can only wonder at the attempt.
1 Letter from Annick Sullivan with a copy of personal testimony re: the benefits of homeopathy, p. 2.
2 Leslie J. Kaslof, Wholistic Dimensions in Healing: A Resource Guide (Garden City, NY: Dolphin/Doubleday, 1978), p. 49.
3 Samuel Hahnemann, The Chronic Diseases, Their Peculiar Nature and Their Homeopathic Cure—Theoretical Part, trans., Louis H. Tafel (New Delhi, India: Jain Publishing Company, 1976), p. 19.
4 Ibid., p. 26.
5 Martin Gardner, « Water with Memory? The Dilution Affair: A Special Report, » The Skeptical Inquirer, Winter, 1989, p. 133; cf., Wallace I. Sampson, « When Not to Believe the Unbelievable, » and Elie A Shneour, « The Benveniste Case: A Reappraisal, » in The Skeptical Inquirer, vol. 14, no. 1, Fall, 1989, pp. 90-95.
6 Kaslof, Wholistic Dimensions in Healing, p. 49.
7 Herbert Robert, M.D., Art of Cure by Homeopathy: A Modern Textbook, rpt (New Delhi, India: B. Jain Publishers, 1976), p. 18; James Tyler Kent, Lectures on Homeopathic Philosophy (Richmond, CA: North Atlantic Books, 1979), pp. 28, 55, 242; Hahnemann, The Chronic Diseases, pp. 21, 26; Ann Hill, ed., A Visual Encyclopedia of Unconventional Medicine (New York, NY: Crown Publishers, 1979), p. 26; Evelyn deSmedt, et al., Life Arts: A Practical Guide to Total Being—New Medicine and Ancient Wisdom (New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1977), p. 142.
8 Richard Grossinger, Planet Medicine: From Stone Age Shamanism to Post-Industrial Healing (Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1980), pp. 170-180
Homeopathy – Part 7
by Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon
Antagonist Attitude Toward Science
The previous comparison of the premises of homeopathy and modern medical practice reveal why it has so consistently opposed scientific medicine from its inception. By their very natures, homeopathy, especially classical homeopathy, and scientific medicine must remain antagonists because their view of the cause of disease and the cure for disease are so radically different and opposite from one another. The founder of homeopathy itself, Samuel Hahnemann, felt that non-homeopathic medicine was « pernicious » because it considers disease as residing in the physical frame, thereby preventing real cure.1 Medical doctors are simply deluded, indeed they are fools, if they think they can discover the cause of disease; when they claim such a discovery, it is only their vain imaginings.2 This is why James Tyler Kent, M.D., perhaps the greatest leader in homeopathy at the turn of the century, believed that modern physicians cannot properly treat the ill—because they cannot even determine what real sickness is to begin with.3 For Dr. Kent and many other classical and modern homeopaths, physicians who think of curing physical disease are confused at best: « To think of remedies for cancer is confusion, but to think of remedies for the patient who appears to have cancer is orderly…. Cancer is a result of disorder [in the vital force], which disorder must be turned into order and must be healed. »4 He emphasized « no [physical] organ can make the body sick » and « neither can any disease cause be found with the microscope. »5 He further emphasized: « All diseases known to man are … an invisible something that cannot be detected by the chemist or the microscopist, and will never be detected in the natural world. Disease… is not capable of investigation by the natural senses…. Disease causes are invisible. »6 Thus, he taught that non-homeopathic beliefs and treatments had accomplished nothing more than « the establishment of confusion » in medicine; that its procedures were a « farce » and that it was full of folly and even insanity.7 Dr. Kent concluded,
He who considers disease results to be the disease itself, and expects to do away with these as disease, is insane. It is an insanity in medicine…. The bacteria are results of disease. In the course of time we will be able to show perfectly that the microscopical little fellows are not the disease cause, but that they come after… that they are perfectly harmless in every respect.8But bacteria and viruses are not « perfectly harmless in every respect »; they continue to destroy many thousands of lives each year. Is the AIDS virus « harmless in every respect? » Anyone who thinks so is deluded. But Hahnemann, Tyler, and other homeopaths rejected and continue to reject the very prescription drugs that may kill deadly bacteria and viruses and save patient lives. For example, Kent believed that whenever a prescription drug was given « let it be clearly understood that a cure of this patient is abandoned. »9 Traditional homeopaths think the prescriptions given are harmful and evil because people who use them will only become sicker and sicker at the mental or spiritual level, even if they are cured at the physical level.10 Statements like these indicate why classical homeopathy and medicine must remain forever hostile.11 But matters deteriorate even further. Classical homeopathy believes that not only are scientifically oriented physicians ultimately purveyors of illness and death; not only do they destroy their patients’ health; but, as we will shortly see, their malpractice contributes significantly to the social problems of the entire planet! Nevertheless, because they claim to be healers and yet are destroyers, they are frauds. As Dr. Grossinger comments,
The conflict with allopathy is head-on here. If the visible disease is not the disease and if its alleviation is countertherapeutic, then the whole of medicine is involved in a system of superficial palliation leading to more serious disease. Doctors do not cure; they merely displace symptoms to ever less optimum channels of disease expression, each of which they consider to be a separate event because of its location in a new organ or region of the body. The disease meanwhile is driven deeper and deeper into the constitution because its mode of expression is cut off each time.12In other words, homeopathy teaches that, in treating only visible disease, normal medicine must always drive disease deeper and deeper into the person; even to the point where it is incapable of cure, and insanity is the end result:
As disease becomes more serious… pathology moves from the physical level to the emotional level to the mental level, its ultimate expression being insanity and loss of reason.13According to homeopathy then, almost everything the modern physician does is wrong, and this, of course, can never truly help his patients.14
It is certainly clear from the above why a rapprochement between standard medicine and homeopathy is impossible. Just on the principles [of homeopathy] alone, without even including the exotic and spiritual pharmacy, homeopathy condemns orthodox medical science to a wild goose chase of symptom classification when the dynamics of symptoms in no way reflect the dynamics of the disease. In treating imaginary categories, physicians were doomed to make their patients worse. Modern homeopathy has developed new language to explain how conventional medical treatment must always make the patient sicker, even if it gives him the delicate illusion of health.15In fact, according to classical homeopathy, modern medicine is so destructive that it not only makes the patient sicker; it not only ends up producing mental derangement and life threatening illness; but it even causes massive social disruption and disintegration! In homeopathy, disease itself can ultimately be seen as a curative process, but one that must be managed in a very specific homeopathic manner to be effective. Properly managed, the disease process itself can result in great personal and social benefit. Why? In theory, when disease is treated homeopathically, the organism increasingly becomes resistant to physical and mental illnesses. If homeopathic methods were universal, the physical and mental condition of humanity would progress toward Utopian levels. But when disease is mismanaged, its recuperative powers are lost. By preventing the proper treatment of disease, modern medicine drives it inward on both an individual and social level. As individuals become sicker and more mentally unstable, society itself disintegrates inwardly. Because the practices of modern medicine are universally producing severe physical and mental disease, they are, then, to a significant degree responsible for the grave social and political conditions in the modern world. Dr. Grossinger explains:
From a homeopathic point of view, the allopathic medical care provided in civilized countries has driven disease inward to such a degree that we see an exponential increase in the most serious pathological expressions—cancer, heart disease, and mental illness. Seventy years ago Kent said that if we continue to treat skin disease palliatively, the human race will cease to exist. The cumulative charge of poor medical treatment against the doctors of the West is so serious as to be mind-boggling, and, as we have suggested, it places conventional malpractice in a totally new light. It [scientific medicine] is, finally, all malpractice. The implications, to the homeopath, pyramid from here. If the disease is invisible, then all the [medical] research is for naught… then the entire medical profession becomes an extortionist gang. The « sting » would outdo any « con game » on record. The older, sicker people, their diseases assured by earlier [medical] treatment, require extraordinarily expensive hospital treatment. Ultimately the patient dies, and the sting is complete, with perfect above-ground legal disposal of the body. What makes the whole thing a mockery… is that the real disease cause is invisible anyway. Any quest for an impossible object will become exponentially more expensive at each level of refinement, for, as long as there is no limit to the variety and subtlety of equipment that can be developed to aid in this grand delusion, there is also no limit to the cost.16In this sense, homeopathy is the world’s savior. It alone knows the true problem of man, it alone can cure man, and it alone has the potential to produce a social Utopia. To the extent homeopathy is rejected, to that extent man will suffer with disease, insanity, war, crime, hunger, apathy, and a host of other evils which only homeopathy can cure:
From a homeopathic standpoint, social and economic problems are the collective result of the disease driven inward…. Slaughter in Uganda or Cambodia or Guatemala is the work of disease driven inward to the mental plane on an epidemic level. Pornography, sexual violence, mayhem in the United States, and terrorism in Western Europe… are diseases.17But such a bizarre theory also provides a convenient rationale for homeopathic inefficacy. Thus, classical homeopathy teaches that even its own failures are not really due to homeopathy which, in theory, can be infallible; they are due to the fact that disease has been driven so far inward that even homeopathy itself has become powerless.18 Thus, homeopathy is the intractable adversary of modern medicine. Here we find a paradox. Contemporary physicians seem to have ignored homeopathy largely because its medicines are relatively inert, like sugar water. They seem to think homeopathy is relatively harmless. By now it should be obvious that there is a problem with this assumption. The philosophy underlying homeopathy is anything but harmless to modern medicine; the one who believes in the principles of classical homeopathy cannot accept scientific medicine; indeed, he must oppose it. Nor is homeopathy harmless when it treats serious conditions with sugar pills and permits such conditions to go untreated by conventional medicine. Perhaps modern medicine should take another look. Notes:
1 Samuel Hahnemann, Organon of Medicine, 6th Edition, reprint (New Delhi, India: B. Jain Publishers, 1978), p. 21.
2 Ibid., p. 32; Martin Gumpert, Hahnemann: The Adventurous Career of a Medical Rebel (New York, NY: L. B. Fisher, 1945), pp. 98, 110.
3 James Tyler Kent, Lectures on Homeopathic Philosophy (Richmond, CA: North Atlantic Books, 1979), pp. 18-20.
4 Ibid., p. 82.
5 Ibid., pp. 42, 55.
6 Ibid., p. 90.
7 Ibid., pp. 22, 44, 53
8 Ibid., p. 22.
9 Ibid., p. 244.
10 Richard Grossinger, Planet Medicine: From Stone Age Shamanism to Post-Industrial Healing (Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/ Doubleday, 1980), pp. 170-190.
11 cf. 78:170-190; Kent, Lectures, pp. 18, 28, 57, 76, 79, 85.
12 Ibid., pp. 170-171.
14 Ibid., pp. 172-173.
15 Ibid., pp. 173-174.
16 Ibid., pp. 175-176.
17 Ibid., pp. 185, 190; cf. pp. 170-190.
18 Ibid., p. 217.
Homeopathy: The Ultimate Fake
Stephen Barrett, M.D.Homeopathic « remedies » enjoy a unique status in the health marketplace: They are the only category of quack products legally marketable as drugs. This situation is the result of two circumstances. First, the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which was shepherded through Congress by a homeopathic physician who was a senator, recognizes as drugs all substances included in the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States. Second, the FDA has not held homeopathic products to the same standards as other drugs. Today they are marketed in health-food stores, in pharmacies, in practitioner offices, by multilevel distributors, through the mail, and on the Internet.
Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), a German physician, began formulating homeopathy’s basic principles in the late 1700s. Hahnemann was justifiably distressed about bloodletting, leeching, purging, and other medical procedures of his day that did far more harm than good. Thinking that these treatments were intended to « balance the body’s ‘humors’ by opposite effects, » he developed his « law of similars »—a notion that symptoms of disease can be cured by extremely small amounts of substances that produce similar symptoms in healthy people when administered in large amounts. The word « homeopathy » is derived from the Greek words homoios (similar) and pathos (suffering or disease).
Hahnemann and his early followers conducted « provings » in which they administered herbs, minerals, and other substances to healthy people, including themselves, and kept detailed records of what they observed. Later these records were compiled into lengthy reference books called materia medica, which are used to match a patient’s symptoms with a « corresponding » drug.
Hahnemann declared that diseases represent a disturbance in the body’s ability to heal itself and that only a small stimulus is needed to begin the healing process. He also claimed that chronic diseases were manifestations of a suppressed itch (psora), a kind of miasma or evil spirit. At first he used small doses of accepted medications. But later he used enormous dilutions and theorized that the smaller the dose, the more powerful the effect—a notion commonly referred to as the « law of infinitesimals. » That, of course, is just the opposite of the dose-response relationship that pharmacologists have demonstrated.
The basis for inclusion in the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia is not modern scientific testing, but homeopathic « provings » conducted during the 1800s and early 1900s. The current (ninth) edition describes how more than a thousand substances are prepared for homeopathic use. It does not identify the symptoms or diseases for which homeopathic products should be used; that is decided by the practitioner (or manufacturer). The fact that substances listed in the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia are legally recognized as « drugs » does not mean that either the law or the FDA recognizes them as effective.
Because homeopathic remedies were actually less dangerous than those of nineteenth-century medical orthodoxy, many medical practitioners began using them. At the turn of the twentieth century, homeopathy had about 14,000 practitioners and 22 schools in the United States. But as medical science and medical education advanced, homeopathy declined sharply in America, where its schools either closed or converted to modern methods. The last pure homeopathic school in this country closed during the 1920s .
Many homeopaths maintain that certain people have a special affinity to a particular remedy (their « constitutional remedy ») and will respond to it for a variety of ailments. Such remedies can be prescribed according to the person’s « constitutional type »—named after the corresponding remedy in a manner resembling astrologic typing. The « Ignatia Type, » for example, is said to be nervous and often tearful, and to dislike tobacco smoke. The typical « Pulsatilla » is a young woman, with blond or light-brown hair, blue eyes, and a delicate complexion, who is gentle, fearful, romantic, emotional, and friendly but shy. The « Nux Vomica Type » is said to be aggressive, bellicose, ambitious, and hyperactive. The « Sulfur Type » likes to be independent. And so on. Does this sound to you like a rational basis for diagnosis and treatment?
At Best, the « Remedies » Are Placebos
Homeopathic products are made from minerals, botanical substances, and several other sources. If the original substance is soluble, one part is diluted with either nine or ninety-nine parts of distilled water and/or alcohol and shaken vigorously (succussed); if insoluble, it is finely ground and pulverized in similar proportions with powdered lactose (milk sugar). One part of the diluted medicine is then further diluted, and the process is repeated until the desired concentration is reached. Dilutions of 1 to 10 are designated by the Roman numeral X (1X = 1/10, 3X = 1/1,000, 6X = 1/1,000,000). Similarly, dilutions of 1 to 100 are designated by the Roman numeral C (1C = 1/100, 3C = 1/1,000,000, and so on). Most remedies today range from 6X to 30X, but products of 30C or more are marketed.
A 30X dilution means that the original substance has been diluted 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times. Assuming that a cubic centimeter of water contains 15 drops, this number is greater than the number of drops of water that would fill a container more than 50 times the size of the Earth. Imagine placing a drop of red dye into such a container so that it disperses evenly. Homeopathy’s « law of infinitesimals » is the equivalent of saying that any drop of water subsequently removed from that container will possess an essence of redness. Robert L. Park, Ph.D., a prominent physicist who is executive director of The American Physical Society, has noted that since the least amount of a substance in a solution is one molecule, a 30C solution would have to have at least one molecule of the original substance dissolved in a minimum of 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules of water. This would require a container more than 30,000,000,000 times the size of the Earth.
Oscillococcinum, a 200C product « for the relief of colds and flu-like symptoms, » involves « dilutions » that are even more far-fetched. Its « active ingredient » is prepared by incubating small amounts of a freshly killed duck’s liver and heart for 40 days. The resultant solution is then filtered, freeze-dried, rehydrated, repeatedly diluted, and impregnated into sugar granules. If a single molecule of the duck’s heart or liver were to survive the dilution, its concentration would be 1 in 100200. This huge number, which has 400 zeroes, is vastly greater than the estimated number of molecules in the universe (about one googol, which is a 1 followed by 100 zeroes). In its February 17, 1997, issue, U.S. News & World Report noted that only one duck per year is needed to manufacture the product, which had total sales of $20 million in 1996. The magazine dubbed that unlucky bird « the $20-million duck. »
Actually, the laws of chemistry state that there is a limit to the dilution that can be made without losing the original substance altogether. This limit, which is related to Avogadro’s number, corresponds to homeopathic potencies of 12C or 24X (1 part in 1024). Hahnemann himself realized that there is virtually no chance that even one molecule of original substance would remain after extreme dilutions. But he believed that the vigorous shaking or pulverizing with each step of dilution leaves behind a « spirit-like » essence— »no longer perceptible to the senses »—which cures by reviving the body’s « vital force. » Modern proponents assert that even when the last molecule is gone, a « memory » of the substance is retained. This notion is unsubstantiated. Moreover, if it were true, every substance encountered by a molecule of water might imprint an « essence » that could exert powerful (and unpredictable) medicinal effects when ingested by a person.
Many proponents claim that homeopathic products resemble vaccines because both provide a small stimulus that triggers an immune response. This comparison is not valid. The amounts of active ingredients in vaccines are much greater and can be measured. Moreover, immunizations produce antibodies whose concentration in the blood can be measured, but high-dilution homeopathic products produce no measurable response. In addition, vaccines are used preventively, not for curing symptoms.
Stan Polanski, a physician assistant working in public health near Asheville, North Carolina, has provided additional insights:
Imagine how many compounds must be present, in quantities of a molecule or more, in every dose of a homeopathic drug. Even under the most scrupulously clean conditions, airborne dust in the manufacturing facility must carry thousands of different molecules of biological origin derived from local sources (bacteria, viruses, fungi, respiratory droplets, sloughed skin cells, insect feces) as well as distant ones (pollens, soil particles, products of combustion), along with mineral particles of terrestrial and even extraterrestrial origin (meteor dust). Similarly, the « inert » diluents used in the process must have their own library of microcontaminants.
The dilution/potentiation process in homeopathy involves a stepwise dilution carried to fantastic extremes, with « succussion » between each dilution. Succussion involves shaking or rapping the container a certain way. During the step-by-step dilution process, how is the emerging drug preparation supposed to know which of the countless substances in the container is the One that means business? How is it that thousands (millions?) of chemical compounds know that they are required to lay low, to just stand around while the Potent One is anointed to the status of Healer? That this scenario could lead to distinct products uniquely suited to treat particular illnesses is beyond implausible.
Thus, until homeopathy’s apologists can supply a plausible (nonmagical) mechanism for the « potentiation »-through-dilution of precisely one of the many substances in each of their products, it is impossible to accept that they have correctly identified the active ingredients in their products. Any study claiming to demonstrate effectiveness of a homeopathic medication should be rejected out-of-hand unless it includes a list of all the substances present in concentrations equal to or greater than the purported active ingredient at every stage of the dilution process, along with a rationale for rejecting each of them as a suspect.
The process of « proving » through which homeopaths decided which medicine matches which symptom is no more sensible. Provings involved taking various substances recording every twitch, sneeze, ache or itch that occurred afterward—often for several days. Homeopathy’s followers take for granted that every sensation reported was caused by whatever substance was administered, and that extremely dilute doses of that substance would then be just the right thing to treat anyone with those specific symptoms.
Dr. Park has noted that to expect to get even one molecule of the « medicinal » substance allegedly present in 30X pills, it would be necessary to take some two billion of them, which would total about a thousand tons of lactose plus whatever impurities the lactose contained.
Some homeopathic manufacturers market twelve highly diluted mineral products called « cell salts » or « tissue salts. » These are claimed to be effective against a wide variety of diseases, including appendicitis (ruptured or not), baldness, deafness, insomnia, and worms. Their use is based on the notion that mineral deficiency is the basic cause of disease. However, many are so diluted that they could not correct a mineral deficiency even if one were present. Development of this approach is attributed to a nineteenth-century physician named W.H. Schuessler.
« Electrodiagnosis »
Some physicians, dentists, and chiropractors use « electrodiagnostic » devices to help select the homeopathic remedies they prescribe. These practitioners claim they can determine the cause of any disease by detecting the « energy imbalance » causing the problem. Some also claim that the devices can detect whether someone is allergic or sensitive to foods, vitamins, and/or other substances. The procedure, called electroacupuncture according to Voll (EAV), electrodiagnosis, or electrodermal screening, was begun during the late 1950s by Reinhold Voll, M.D., a West German physician who developed the original device. Subsequent models include the Vega, Dermatron, Accupath 1000, and Interro.
Proponents claim these devices measure disturbances in the flow of « electro-magnetic energy » along the body’s « acupuncture meridians. » Actually, they are fancy galvanometers that measure electrical resistance of the patient’s skin when touched by a probe. Each device contains a low-voltage source. One wire from the device goes to a brass cylinder covered by moist gauze, which the patient holds in one hand. A second wire is connected to a probe, which the operator touches to « acupuncture points » on the patient’s foot or other hand. This completes a circuit, and the device registers the flow of current. The information is then relayed to a gauge that provides a numerical readout. The size of the number depends on how hard the probe is pressed against the patient’s skin. Recent versions, such as the Interro make sounds and provide the readout on a computer screen. The treatment selected depends on the scope of the practitioner’s practice and may include acupuncture, dietary change, and/or vitamin supplements, as well as homeopathic products. Regulatory agencies have seized several types of electroacupuncture devices but have not made a systematic effort to drive them from the marketplace.
For more information about these devices and pictures of some of them, click here. If you encounter such a device, please read this article and report the device to the practitioner’s state licensing board, the state attorney general, the Federal Trade Commission, the FBI, the National Fraud Information Center, and any insurance company to which the practitioner submits claims that involve use of the device. For the addresses of these agencies, click here.
Unimpressive « Research »
Since many homeopathic remedies contain no detectable amount of active ingredient, it is impossible to test whether they contain what their label says. Unlike most potent drugs, they have not been proven effective against disease by double-blind clinical testing. In fact, the vast majority of homeopathic products have never even been tested; proponents simply rely on « provings » to tell them what should work.
In 1990, an article in Review of Epidemiology analyzed 40 randomized trials that had compared homeopathic treatment with standard treatment, a placebo, or no treatment. The authors concluded that all but three of the trials had major flaws in their design and that only one of those three had reported a positive result. The authors concluded that there is no evidence that homeopathic treatment has any more value than a placebo .
In 1994, the journal Pediatrics published an article claiming that homeopathic treatment had been demonstrated to be effective against mild cases of diarrhea among Nicaraguan children . The claim was based on findings that, on certain days, the « treated » group had fewer loose stools than the placebo group. However, Sampson and London noted: (1) the study used an unreliable and unproved diagnostic and therapeutic scheme, (2) there was no safeguard against product adulteration, (3) treatment selection was arbitrary, (4) the data were oddly grouped and contained errors and inconsistencies, (5) the results had questionable clinical significance, and (6) there was no public health significance because the only remedy needed for mild childhood diarrhea is adequate fluid intake to prevent or correct dehydration .
In 1995, Prescrire International, a French journal that evaluates pharmaceutical products, published a literature review that concluded:
As homeopathic treatments are generally used in conditions with variable outcome or showing spontaneous recovery (hence their placebo-responsiveness), these treatments are widely considered to have an effect in some patients. However, despite the large number of comparative trials carried out to date there is no evidence that homeopathy is any more effective than placebo therapy given in identical conditions.
In December 1996, a lengthy report was published by the Homoeopathic Medicine Research Group (HMRG), an expert panel convened by the Commission of the European Communities. The HMRG included homeopathic physician-researchers and experts in clinical research, clinical pharmacology, biostatistics, and clinical epidemiology. Its aim was to evaluate published and unpublished reports of controlled trials of homeopathic treatment. After examining 184 reports, the panelists concluded: (1) only 17 were designed and reported well enough to be worth considering; (2) in some of these trials, homeopathic approaches may have exerted a greater effect than a placebo or no treatment; and (3) the number of participants in these 17 trials was too small to draw any conclusions about the effectiveness of homeopathic treatment for any specific condition . Simply put: Most homeopathic research is worthless, and no homeopathic product has been proven effective for any therapeutic purpose. The National Council Against Health Fraud has warned that « the sectarian nature of homeopathy raises serious questions about the trustworthiness of homeopathic researchers. » 
In 1997, a London health authority decided to stop paying for homeopathic treatment after concluding that there was not enough evidence to support its use. The Lambeth, Southwark, and Lewisham Health Authority had been referring more than 500 patients per year to the Royal Homoeopathic Hospital in London. Public health doctors at the authority reviewed the published scientific literature as part of a general move toward purchasing only evidence-based treatments. The group concluded that many of the studies were methodologically flawed and that recent research produced by the Royal Homoeopathic Hospital contained no convincing evidence that homeopathy offered clinical benefit .
In 2007, another review team concluded that homeopathic provings have been so poorly designed that the data they have generated is not trustworthy .
Proponents trumpet the few « positive » studies as proof that « homeopathy works. » Even if their results can be consistently reproduced (which seems unlikely), the most that the study of a single remedy for a single disease could prove is that the remedy is effective against that disease. It would not validate homeopathy’s basic theories or prove that homeopathic treatment is useful for other diseases.
Placebo effects can be powerful, of course, but the potential benefit of relieving symptoms with placebos should be weighed against the harm that can result from relying upon—and wasting money on—ineffective products. Spontaneous remission is also a factor in homeopathy’s popularity. I believe that most people who credit a homeopathic product for their recovery would have fared equally well without it.
Homeopaths claim to provide care that is safer, gentler, « natural, » and less expensive than conventional care—and more concerned with prevention. However, homeopathic treatments prevent nothing, and many homeopathic leaders preach against immunization. Equally bad, a report on the National Center for Homeopathy’s 1997 conference described how a homeopathic physician had suggested using homeopathic products to help prevent and treat coronary artery disease. According to the article, the speaker recommended various 30C and 200C products as alternatives to aspirin or cholesterol-lowering drugs, both of which are proven to reduce the incidence of heart attacks and strokes .
In a survey conducted in 1982, the FDA found some over-the-counter products being marketed for serious illnesses, including heart disease, kidney disorders, and cancer. An extract of tarantula was being purveyed for multiple sclerosis; an extract of cobra venom for cancer.
In 1984, the FDA warned Botanical Laboratories, Inc., of Bellingham, Washington, that none of its homeopathic products could be legally marketed with drug claims because they did not have FDA approval to make such claims. The illegal claims included effectivness against angina pectoris, heart rhythm distrubances, hypoglycemia, gout, pneumonia, and lung abscess .
America’s most blatant homeopathic marketer appears to be Biological Homeopathic Industries (BHI) of Albuquerque, New Mexico, which, in 1983, sent a 123-page catalog to 200,000 physicians nationwide. Its products included BHI Anticancer Stimulating, BHI Antivirus, BHI Stroke, and 50 other types of tablets claimed to be effective against serious diseases. In 1984, the FDA forced BHI to stop distributing several of the products and to tone down its claims for others. However, BHI has continued to make illegal claims. Its 1991 Physicians’ Reference (« for use only by health care professionals ») inappropriately recommended products for heart failure, syphilis, kidney failure, blurred vision, and many other serious conditions. The company’s publishing arm issues the quarterly Biological Therapy: Journal of Natural Medicine, which regularly contains articles whose authors make questionable claims. An article in the April 1992 issue, for example, listed « indications » for using BHI and Heel products (distributed by BHI) for more than fifty conditions—including cancer, angina pectoris, and paralysis. And the October 1993 issue, devoted to the homeopathic treatment of children, includes an article recommending products for acute bacterial infections of the ear and tonsils. The article is described as selections from Heel seminars given in several cities by a Nevada homeopath who also served as medical editor of Biological Therapy. In 1993, Heel published a 500-page hardcover book describing how to use its products to treat about 450 conditions . Twelve pages of the book cover « Neoplasia and neoplastic phases of disease. » (Neoplasm is a medical term for tumor.) In March 1998, during an osteopathic convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, a Heel exhibitor distributed copies of the book when asked for detailed information on how to use Heel products. A 2000 edition is larger but does not have the neoplasia section .
Between June 1987 and September 1994, the FDA issued at least five more warning letters to homeopathic marketers:
- Bio-Botanica was ordered to stop marketing « Nature’s Answer » brand Homeopatic Herpes Cream for the relief of skin eruptions cases by Herpes viruses. The notice also warned that the company’s Acne Remedy and Allergy Remedy were misbranded .
- BHI was ordered to stop making claims that BHI Cold, which contained sulfur and pulsatilla, were effective against mumps, whooping cough, chronic respiratory diseases, herpes zoster, all viral infections, and measles. In addition, when combined with other BHI remedies, it had been illegally claimed to be effective against otitis, pleurisy, bronchitis or pneumonia, conjunctivitis, and tracheitis.
- Botanical Laboratories, Inc., which distributed Natra-Bio products, was ordered to stop claiming that BioAllers was a homeopathic remedy for reliving symptoms of allergy due to pollen, animal hair, dander, mold, yeast, and dust. The products were promoted as homeopathic even though some ingredients were not in the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia.
- L.B.L.-Bot.Bio.Hom.Corp, of Roosevelt, New York, was ordered to stop making false claims that products could prevent AIDS, reduce cholesterol, cure diabetes and other pancreas disorders, and cancerous blood disorders.
- Nutrition Express, of Houston, Texas, was warned that products it was marketing for the temporary relief of infection, minor liver disorders, lymphatic disorders, and menstrual discomforts were misbranded because their labels or labeling included statements that represented that the products were intended to be used for curing or preventing disease.
During 1988, the FDA took action against companies marketing « diet patches » with false claims that they could suppress appetite. The largest such company, Meditrend International, of San Diego, instructed users to place 1 or 2 drops of a « homeopathic appetite control solution » on a patch and wear it all day affixed to an « acupuncture point » on the wrist to « bioelectrically » suppress the appetite control center of the brain.
Greater Regulation Is Needed
As far as I can tell, the FDA has never recognized any homeopathic remedy as safe and effective for any medical purpose. In 1995, I filed a Freedom of Information Act request that stated:
I am interested in learning whether the FDA has: (1) received evidence that any homeopathic remedy, now marketed in this country, is effective against any disease or health problem; (2) concluded that any homeopathic product now marketed in the United States is effective against any health problem or condition; (3) concluded that homeopathic remedies are generally effective; or (4) concluded that homeopathic remedies are generally not effective. Please send me copies of all documents in your possession that pertain to these questions .
An official from the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research replied that several dozen homeopathic products were approved many years ago, but these approvals were withdrawn by 1970 . In other words, after 1970, no homeopathic remedy had FDA as « safe and effective » for its intended purpose. As far as I can tell, that statement is still true today.
If the FDA required homeopathic remedies to be proven effective in order to remain marketable—the standard it applies to other categories of drugs—homeopathy would face extinction in the United States . However, there is no indication that the agency is considering this. FDA officials regard homeopathy as relatively benign (compared, for example, to unsubstantiated products marketed for cancer and AIDS) and believe that other problems should get enforcement priority. If the FDA attacks homeopathy too vigorously, its proponents might even persuade a lobby-susceptible Congress to rescue them. Regardless of this risk, the FDA should not permit worthless products to be marketed with claims that they are effective. Nor should it continue to tolerate the presence of quack « electrodiagnostic » devices in the marketplace.
In 1994, 42 prominent critics of quackery and pseudoscience asked the agency to curb the sale of homeopathic products. The petition urges the FDA to initiate a rulemaking procedure to require that all over-the-counter (OTC) homeopathic drugs meet the same standards of safety and effectiveness as nonhomeopathic OTC drugs. It also asks for a public warning that although the FDA has permitted homeopathic remedies to be sold, it does not recognize them as effective. The FDA has not yet responded to the petition. However, on March 3, 1998, at a symposium sponsored by Good Housekeeping magazine, former FDA Commissioner David A. Kessler, M.D., J.D., acknowledged that homeopathic remedies do not work but that he did not attempt to ban them because he felt that Congress would not support a ban .
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- Loma Linda, Calif.: National Council Against Health Fraud, 1994.
- Wise, J. Health authority stops buying homoeopathy. British Medical Journal 314:1574, 1997.
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- Baden-Baden, Germany: Biologische Heilmittel GmbH, 2000.
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- Kessler DA. Panel discussion on herbal dietary supplements. Consumer Safety Symposium on Dietary Supplements and Herbs, New York City, March 3, 1998.
Quack « Electrodiagnostic » Devices Used for Selecting Remedies
FDA Compliance Policy Guide 7132.15 for Homeopathic Products
Homoeopathy and Its Kindred Delusions (Essay by Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1842)
Homeopathy and Science: A Closer Look
Petition to Ban the Marketing of Homeopathic Products
Why Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Proof
Alternative Medicine and the Laws of Physics
Samuel Hahnemann’s Book: Organon of Medicine
The Scientific Evaluation of Homeopathy
Hahnemann’s Homeopathy (Seven articles debunking homeopathic theory and practice)
Homeopathy: All the Idiocy That Fits (Satire by Peter Bowditch)
New Age Medicine: Homeopathy
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Compiled & Edited David L. Brown, Th.M. — New Age/Occult Researcher
Links to Topics:
Elements of Homeopathy from the Mystical and Occult Realm
Animism, Hinduism, Confucianism and Eastern Religion
The Doctrine of Vital Force
Homeopathy is a Stepping Stone to Other Occult Activities
Would you go to see a witch-doctor to cure a physical ailment? There might be some reading this research report that would, but few Christians would seek help from someone that they knew practiced occult medicine, using demonic powers for healing. The problem is, there is a whole new breed of healers using occult means and occult powers for healing. They neither dress like nor look like the witch-doctors you see in the pages of National Geographic. They look like you and me. I’ll never forget the time when a Christian woman came into my office and began pouring out her heart. She was going through « deep water » as it were. I asked her some questions and to my surprise I discovered she had been seeing a psychic. She came to me because her problems had dramatically worsened since then… nightmares, evil thoughts, depression, self-destructive thoughts. I told her that she was involved with the occult and God forbids all occult practices. I read and explained Deuteronomy 18:9-14. She protested. She said that the psychic had read the Bible to her, prayed with her and assured her that her gift was from God. This is not true. Acts 16:15-18 makes it clear that psychic powers are the result of demon possession. Further, Acts 13:10 gives us the Biblical evaluation of those who practice the occult —
And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
I then urged the woman to confess her involvement with the psychic as sin, repent and renounce all advice and association with the psychic reader.
My point is simply this, many New Age/Occult healing practices are disguised. Sometimes those involved quote the Bible and pray with their patients. But underneath the facade you will find the occult operating. That’s what is happening with homeopathy. It is my sincere prayer that you will read this research report and see how the « Angel of Light » has cleverly disguised his lies. Because of this disguise, many Christians are buying into homeopathy. May you know the truth and may the truth make you free.
Homeopathy was developed by a German mystic physician named Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann who lived between 1755-1843. Although there are three different streams of homeopath since its development, homeopathy has changed very little.
- The Traditional Homeopath — This stream of homeopathic practitioners follows the occult theories of the father of homeopathic medicine, Samuel Hahnemann.
- The Parapsychologically oriented Homeopaths — Those who follow this homeopathic path try to update the traditional methods of the 1800’s and bring them into the 20th Century. One of their « scientific Methods » is the practice of almost infinitely diluting its « medications. »
- The Demythologized Homeopath — Those who follow this stream mistakenly think homeopathic medicines may work through unknown scientific principles, but questions the possibility that these medicines can really be effective in dilut ion so high that not even one molecule of the original medicine remains.
But, regardless of which stream one follows, the practices are still the same. In fact, « To his supporters, Hahnemann is the single genius in the history of recorded medicine. »1
This system bases treatment on Similia similibus curantur which basically boils down to what you might call, « like cures like. » That is that the same substance causing symptoms in a healthy person will cure those symptoms in a sick person. One of the big problems is that homeopathy claims to correct an imbalance or problem in the body’s « vital force » or life energy. These imbalances, they claim, will sooner or later cause disease. We will take a closer look at the issue of « vital force » later in this report.
But there are also other equally disturbing problems with homeopathy. Many of the basic elements that C. F. Samuel Hahnemann brought into homeopathy are from the mystical & occult realm. Let’s consider some of them.
To begin with, « We know that he was a member of a Lodge of Free Masons. »2 In my research library I have many old Masonic publications. They are filled with mysticism and the occult. In his studies for advancement in the Masonic order, Hahnemann would have been exposed to many of these ideas. It becomes obvious that Freemasonry influenced him, for on the title page of his « Bible of Homeopathy » are two interesting words — Aude-Sapere. Where did that come from? What does it mean? The motto of Freemasonry is Aude Sapere which means, Dare To Be Wise. Hahnemann « borrowed » the Masonic motto and placed it on the title page of his « Organon ».
I am the Mid-West bureau chief for the INDEPENDENT TV/NEWS SERVICE of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and hold press credentials from a Wisconsin news organization. August 23, 1993 I covered the Parliament Of The World’s Religions, held at the Palmer-House Hilton in Chicago. It was a smorgasbord of Apostate « Christian, » New Age, Occult religions. Invocationary « prayers » were offered by many, including a Catholic, a Unitarian, a Witch who « prayed » to Isis and a Swedenborgian. The Swedenborgains were high profile at the PWR. They had a double-wide exhibit in the display area. A brief look at the material I collected from their display shows that they blend mysticism, the occult and Christianity together.
Perhaps you are wondering what this has to do with Hahnemann. Let me tie it together for you. Hahnemann was an ardent follower of Swedish mystic philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) and Swedenborg was his mentor. Since Hahnemann followed Swedenborg you need to know what the man’s key teaching was. The key tenet of Swedenborg’s doctrine was his method of arriving at truth. « As employed by Swedenborg himself, it consisted of a series of Revelations, by which immediate and indubitable [unqu estionable] intercourse [communication] with the spirit world was obtained. »3 To put it simply Swedenborg taught his followers how to enter a state of consciousness that would put them in touch with spirit entities. He would claim that they were good spirits though anyone knowledgeable in the Scriptures would identify them as demons. Actually what you have here is what the Bible forbids as necromancy (see Deuteronomy 18:9-12). One researcher hits the nail on the head when he says Swedenborg was a « powerful spiritist and medium. »4
How did this affect Hahnemann? « Hahnemann himself claimed to be ‘inspired’ in his homeopathic writings. »5 Now this is not an obscure fact among homeopathic practitioners. In the Swiss Homeopathic Journal, #4, 1960 the president of the International League of Homeopathy noted this fact to a group of homeopaths when he said,
It’s futile to reject this or that principle announciated in the ‘Organ’ [Organon]. There remains more than enough to recognize the unfathomable intuition and divinitory spirit of its author.6
Many homeopaths look at his book as a divinely mystical book. When a man claims divine revelation or inspiration as the source of his writings, that should immediately raise huge red flags in the minds of any Christian. It is only the Bible that is inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Martin Gumpert wrote a book entitled, Hahnemann: The Adventerous Career of a Medical Rebel. In this book it reveals that Hahnemann studied and delighted in the teachings of a Swiss occultic medical philosopher named Paracelsus (1493-1541). Paracelsu s developed a medical philosophy that combined the esoteric occult teachings of the Cabala with the facts and fancies of science. His « medical » philosophy was occult oriented without a doubt. The teachings of Paracelsus stimulated Hahnemann’s thinking and he developed some of his doctrine based on the occult teachings of Paracelsus. Hahnemann was drawn like a magnet to occult ideas and the teachings of Franz Mesmer just added to the heap.
Franz Mesmer (1733-1815) was a Swiss-German physician that founded the doctrine of animal magnetism, often called mesmerism. What Mesmer uncovered was actually an occult art that had been used for centuries by Shamans (witch doctors) to bring people under their control. Mesmer learned the technique that allowed him to produce an abnormal condition resembling sleep in another person. During this state, the mind of the individual remained passive and was subject to the will of the operator. Mesmer used this hypnotic state to heal patients that were sick. In fact, in his Homeopathic Bible, the Organon, Hahnemann compared the similarities between the practice of homeopathy and mesmerism. Consider this quote from the 6th edition of the Organon —
I find it yet necessary to allude here to animal magnetism, as it is defined, or rather Mesmerism. […] It is a marvelous, priceless gift of God […] by means of which the strong will of a well intentioned person upon a sick one by contact and even without this and even at some distance, can bring the vital energy of the healthy mesmerizer endowed with this power into another person dynamically […] The above mentioned methods of practicing mesmerism depend upon an influx of more or less vital force into the patient […] »7
Oh, by the way, what Hahnemann has just described is modern psychic healing.
During my research I became increasingly aware that this man rejected the Bible and God’s « wisdom that is from above » and followed the earthly, sensual and devilish wisdom from beneath (James 3:15-17). Then I came across a quote that reveals his view of Christ! Hahnemann was offended by the life of Jesus Christ. He mocks Jesus Christ, calling Him « the arch-enthusiast » His biographers write —
He took offense at the arch-enthusiast Jesus of Nazareth, who did not lead the enlightened on the straight way to wisdom but who wanted to struggle with publicans and sinners on a difficult path toward the establishment of the kingdom of God. . . . The man of sorrows who took the darkness of the world on Himself was an offense to the lover of etheric [highly refined, heavenly] wisdom » [Hahnemann].8
How can a Christian follow the « inspired » teachings of a Christ rejecter like C. F. Samuel Hahnemann? In some cases is it because of ignorance. In other cases Satan has blinded their minds. Let’s move on.
According to Martin Gumpert, Samuel Hahnemann was influenced by animism.9And he was also into other Eastern religions. One biography reveals « he is strongly attracted to the East. Confucius is his ideal. »10 This is well documented by a letter Hahnemann wrote.
« This is where you can read divine wisdom, without [e.g., Christian] miracle-myths and superstition. I regard it as an important sign of our times that Confucius is now available for us to read. Soon I will embrace him in the kingdom of blissful spirits, the benefactor of humanity, who has shown us the straight path to wisdom and to God, already 650 years before the arch-enthusiast…. »11
It is little wonder that Samuel Pfeifer says, « The reverence for Eastern thought was not just Hahnemann’s personal hobby, but rather the fundamental philosophy behind the preparation of homeopathic remedies. » 12 In an excellent Christian book published in Northern Ireland, H.J. Bopp concludes after reading Hahnemann and other homeopathic writings that —
[…] the vocabulary is esoteric and the ideas are impregnated with oriental philosophies like Hinduism. The predominant strain of pantheism would place God everywhere, in each man, each animal, plant, flower, cell, even in homeopathic medicine. »13
The Doctrine of Vital ForceEven if we were to exclude all the above influences that play a part in homeopathy (which we can’t), there is yet one major, Major, major problem. That is the doctrine that underlies all homeopathic treatment. That is the doctrine of vital force. This was mentioned in a quote from Hahnemann on Mesmerism. But what does it actually mean?
« What Hahnemann taught was that mystical energies were at the base of both human nature and the medicines themselves, thus at the very base of creation itself. This is why many commentators, both sympathetic and critical, teach that Hahnemann was referring to new age spiritual or cosmic energy when talking of his vital force. »14
If you know your New Age & occult philosophy you will recognize that what is in focus here is pantheism, that is, the belief that divinity or life force is inseparable from and immanent in everything. Leading homeopath Herbert Robert put it this way, relating homeopathy’s vital force to a pantheistic deity in his Art of Cure by Homeopathy. He said the « vital force » of homeopathy was part of « the moving Energy, the activating Power of the universe, » as being « passed on in all forms and degrees of living creatures, » and as permeating the universe:
If therefore this force, this energy, actuates or permeates all forms and degrees of life from the most humble and inconspicuous to the very planets, we may reasonably assume that vital force is the most fundamental of all conditions of the universe, and that the laws governing the vital force in the individual are correlated with the laws which govern all vital force, all forms of energy, wherever or however expressed. […] This energy […] is responsible for all growth and all development in all spheres of existence.15
Daisie and Michael Radner see the connection between homeopathy and occult energy fields.
Like Chinese medicine, homeopathy posits [assumes as fact] an energy field or ‘vital force.’ Disease is a disorder of the body’s energy field, and the way to cure it is to manipulate that field. The energy field of the medicine stimulates that body’s own fluid to induce healing. As with Chinese medicine, it is maintained that the energy fields are similar to those of modern physics. Again the principle cited is the interchangeability of matter and energy.16
So how is one healed by homeopathy? « The healing power », say the homeopaths, « is coming from cosmic power transferred to the remedy through the ritual of potentiation » (Organ 2:12). The « ritual of potentiation » is a reference to the diluting and shaking of the homeopathic medicines. That, according to homeopaths, enhances and increases the power of the medicine and that power is then transferred to the person. In fact, « some leading homeopaths have confessed that the energy they claim to manipulate in curing people is indistinguishable from that occult energy in general which has gone by a wide variety of names throughout history. »17
What is frightening is the fact that one homeopathic Doctor, « Vithoulkas », openly reveals that the real purpose of homeopathy is « to help open the higher centers [of the brain] for spiritual and celestial influx. »18
What’s he talking about? Demonic invasion! Physician H. J. Bopp relates his own clinical experience: « The occult influence in homeopathy is transmitted to the individual, bringing him consciously or unconsciously under demonic influence. […] It is significant frequently to find nervous depression in families using homeopathic treatments. »19
Other homeopaths admit an occult connection. Homeopathic authority James Kent states that there are two worlds, the physical world and the invisible world. He says that the whole of homeopathy is bound up in the invisible world, which is indistinguishable from the spiritual world of the occult realm .20
Perhaps Richard Grossinger, author of Planet Medicine: From Stone Age Shamanism to Post-Industrial Healing does the best of summing up the information I have just presented to you —
Homeopathy is neither the first nor the last attempt to develop a scientific Vitalist [occult] medicine. Alchemists, gnostics, animists, and other naturalist-magicians worked for millennia toward a cure based on the life force in the primal energy of nature. Goethe, Steiner, Jung, and Reich followed. […] It [homeopathy] persists [today] as a clinical occult discipline.21
He further states,
Psychic healing, homeopathy, acupuncture, orgone therapy, and various shamanisms and voodoo all suggest that there must be an energy outside of contemporary definition. »22
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
Though many homeopaths attempt to « dress up » this mystical occult medicine in clothes of respectability, not all homeopaths play that game. Leading Swiss homeopath, Dr. Adolf Voegeli is one such person. When he was asked how he explained the working of the cosmic energy in homeopathy he responded, « You know, I believe in the power of the zodiac. » He does not keep this belief a secret either. In an article on the mechanisms of homeopathy published in the Zeitschrift fuer Klassiche Homoeopathie (Journal for Classical Homeopathy) the bibliography resembles a collection of occult, hinduistic, and anthroposophical literature.23
Many homeopaths diagnose on the basis of astrological signs or otherwise employ astrology in their practice.24 For example, one homeopath confesses,
In homeopathy we have to put more stress on individual differences, and that leads us to an interest in such things as astrology and acupuncture »25
Others use divination to find a cure. Dr. Voegeli, a famous homeopathic doctor, has confirmed that a very high percentage of homeopaths work with the pendulum.26 Dr. Pfeifer, M.D., also notes the use of pendulums by homeopaths because « it is easier to take a short cut with the radionic pendulum. »27 For example, former Lutheran pastor, Bolte, got his « gift » of soothsaying by means of a radionic pendulum. Like many other homeopaths, he chooses the appropriate remedy for a patient by using the pendulum. In his booklet From Pendulum Research to Miraculous Healing he writes:
I would sit at the desk, take the pendulum out, let it circle over Schwabe’s list of homeopathic remedies and then order the remedy at their pharmacy in Leipzig. »28
[Note that since homeopathic « medicines » are all diluted so far as to contain practically none of the original substance, it would logically follow that it should make no difference at all which one is prescribed. Bolte’s claim of success as a result of prescribing random remedies only serves to support the fact that they are all the same… ordinary water.]
Still others use even more hard core occult means. There are groups whose [homeopathic] research is carried out during seances, through mediums who seek information from spirits. The testimony of a person who worked in an important homeopathic laboratory of high standing in France is very interesting. She tells about the interview she had with the former director and founder of the establishment with a view to her recruitment. After a short introduction, this director asked her which astrological sign she was born under. He then wished to know whether she was a medium. As this was so, he confided to her the secret of the practices of the place. New treatments were researched there during seances, through the agency of persons having occult powers — mediums by which to question spirits.29
The frosting on the occult cake comes from a former new age healer and psychic who says « it is a fact that many homeopathic practitioners try to make sure their remedies are working by putting a magic spell on them ».30
In conclusion I issue this warning to all Christians. Homeopathic practices can and do open the door of your mind to demonic influences. Though the occult influence in homeopathy is often disguised, nonetheless it is there. Allow me to share a second time this quote from one Christian researcher — « The occult influence in homeopathy is transmitted to the individual, bringing him consciously or unconsciously under demonic influence […] It is significant frequently to find nervous depression in families using homeopathic treatments. »31Ephesians 5:11 instructs us, « And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. »
- Richard Grossinger,
Planet Medicine: From Stone Age Shamanism to Post-Industrial Healing
- , Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1980; p. 162-3
- H. J. Bopp,
- , Down, North Ireland: Word of Life Publications, 1984; p. 3
- ; 1913; p. 2437
- Ankerberg & Weldon,
Can You Trust Your Doctor
- ; Wolgemut & Hyatt; p. 315
- Ibid. p. 318
- H. J. Bopp; p. 3
- Samuel Hahnemann,
Organon of Medicine
- , 6th edition, reprint, New Dehli, India: B. Jain Publishers, 1978; p. 309 & 311
- Samuel Pfeifer, M.D.,
Healing at Any Price?
- , Milton Keynes, England: Word Limited, 1988
- Martin Gumpert,
Hahnemann: The Adventerous Career of a Medical Rebel
- , New York, NY: L.B. Fisher, 1945; p.20
- Samuel Pfeifer; p.68
- Samuel Hahnemann,
The Chronic Diseases, Their Particular Nature and Their Homeopathic Cure — Theoretical Part
- , Louis H. Tafel – Translator, New Dehli, India: Jain Publishing Company, 1976; p.7
- Ankerberg & Weldon; p. 321
- Herbert Robert, M.D.,
Art of Cure by Homeopathy: A Modern Textbook
- , reprint, New Dehli, India: B. Jain Publishers, 1976
- Daisie Radner, Michael Radner,
« Holistic Methodology and Pseudoscience »
- ; p. 154
- Ankerberg 7 Weldon; p. 324
- Jane D. Gumprecht,
Holistic Health: A Medical and Biblical Critique of New Age Deception
- , Moscow, ID: Random Press, 1986; p. 150
- Bopp; p.10
- James Tyler Kent,
Lectures on Homeopathic Philosophy
- , Richmond CA: North Atlantic Books, 1979; p. 75-76
- Richard Grossinger; p. 162-163
- Ibid.; p. 128-129
- Pfeifer; p. 68-69
- Bopp; p.5
- Evelyn DeSmedt, et. al.,
Life Arts: A practical Guide To Total Being — New Age Medicine and Ancient Wisdom
- , New york, NY.; St. Martins Press, 1977; p. 142
- Bopp; p.8
- Pfeifer; p. 73
- Ibid., p. 19-20
- Bopp, p. 8
- Pfeifer, p. 81
- Bopp, p. 10
« Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. » Matthew 24:35« But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. »
. . . 1 Corinthians 2:9 . . .
Beware of Homeopathy
By David Cloud
Homeopathy is definitely associated with occultic principles. (We would note that the terms « homeopathy » and « naturopathy » are sometimes used interchangeably, but we are using them according to their official meanings.)
The man who wrote to us said, « She didn’t go into the occult side of things but did mention a couple of times about an « energy. » That is the occult side of things! Traditional medicine does not have a mystical energy!
Homeopaths usually criticize the practice of traditional medicine and the use of pharmaceutical drugs. Dana Ullman, for example, accuses doctors of medical child abuse for prescribing drugs to children (Elaine Lewis, « An Interview with Dana Ullman: Treating Children with Homeopathic Medicines, » April 2005, http://www.hpathy.com/interviews/danaullman2.asp). While it is true that modern medicine is not infallible and can be wrongly used and abused, it is also true that it has provided mankind with wonderful remedies that did not exist even a few decades ago. The invention of vaccines and antibiotics alone has resulted in a tremendous increase in the quality of life in modern society. Through the practice of modern medicine, people routinely survive diseases and wounds that would have killed them 50 years ago. The negative attitude toward modern medicine that runs rampant throughout the holistic health care field is foolish.
Homeopathy was developed in the 18th century by Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). His book Organon of the Art of Healing remains the foundational text in the field. At the 1960 Montreux International Congress on Homeopathy, the 160th anniversary of the Organon was celebrated. The congress said, « The Organon is for the homeopath what the Bible is for the Christian. »
David L. Brown observes that Hahnemann was « drawn like a magnet to occult ideas » (« New Age Medicine: Homeopathy, » Logos Resource Pages). He rejected the Christ of the Bible, identified with Eastern religions, and took Confucius as his model. One biographer says, « The reverence for Eastern thought was not just Hahnemann’s personal hobby, but rather the fundamental philosophy behind the preparation of homeopathic remedies » (Samuel Pfeifer, Healing at Any Price, 1988, p. 68). He was a follower of Emanuel Swedenborg, who taught his followers to enter an alternative state of consciousness in order to commune with spirits. Hahnemann called the occultic practices of Franz Mesmer « a marvelous, priceless gift of God » by which « the vital energy of the healthy mesmerizer endowed with this power [can be brought] into another person dynamically » (Organon of Medicine, 6th edition, pp. 309, 311). Hahnemann held to the panentheist view that God is in all things.
At the heart of homeopathy is the Hindu concept that there is a vital force or life energy that permeates all things (Keith Souter, Homeopathy: Heart and Soul, p. 19). Homeopathic remedies are thought to « act upon the Vital Force to restore balance within the body. »
David Brown says: « If you know New Age and occult philosophy you will recognize that what is in focus here is pantheism, that is, the belief that divinity or life force is inseparable from and immanent in everything. Leading homeopath Herbert Robert put it this way, relating homeopathy’s vital force to a pantheistic deity in his Art of Cure by Homeopathy. He said the ‘vital force’ of homeopathy was part of ‘the moving Energy, the activating Power of the universe,’ as being ‘passed on in all forms and degrees of living creatures,’ and as permeating the universe. Daisie and Michael Radner see the connection between homeopathy and occult energy fields. ‘Like Chinese medicine, homeopathy posits an energy field or vital force. Disease is a disorder of the body’s energy field, and the way to cure it is to manipulate that field. The energy field of the medicine stimulates that body’s own fluid to induce healing.' »
In reality, homeopathic remedies are so highly diluted that they are nothing more than water. The dilutions are done according to the « Centesimal scale » of 1:100. 1C (or CH1) refers to one part of an original tincture of some substance mixed in 100 parts of water. One part of that super diluted mixture becomes the next « tincture. » At 3C « the mother tincture will be diluted to one in a million » and at 6C « the dilution will be one in a billion » (Homeopathy: Heart and Soul, p. 23). Homeopathic doctor Keith Souter admits that a 12C solution is « unlikely to have even a single molecule of the original compound left. » Yet he recommends 30C or 200C potencies (p. 26)!
Dr. H.J. Bopp of Switzerland, who has studied homeopathy carefully, says: « Any patient receiving a homeopathic treatment at CH30 should be under no illusions as to its composition. There is no longer any of the named material substance in his pill or liquid whatsoever. »
Homeopathic practice claims that the diluted solution is effective because it has undergone a process known as dynamization or potentialization, which makes it possible to contact and retain a hidden power in the liquid. Keith Souter calls potentialization « one of the bedrocks of homeopathy » (p. 19). Hahnemann « believed that spiritual reality was more important than material reality » and « came to regard the ‘spiritual essence’ of a drug a smore important than its physical substance » (The Hidden Agenda, p. 99). Hahnemann « insisted that not only the diluted medicine but the actual process of diluting a medicine–the shaking and mixing–imparted healing powe to the substance. … The vial containing the medicine had to be struck against a leather pad a number of times, so that the drug could be ‘dynamized’ and act’ spiritually upon the vital forces’ of the body » (pp. 100, 102).
Homeopathic practitioner Andrew Weil says:
« Homeopaths use remedies containing no drug materials, yet they believe in the existence and therapeutic power of some other aspect of the drug–of its idea, if you will, or its ghost or spirit. Truly HOMEOPATHY IS SPIRITUAL MEDICINE consistent with its founder’s views on the relative importance of spiritual verses material reality » (Health and Healing, 1988, p. 37).
The book The Science and the Art of Homeopathy by J.T. Kent says: « In the universe, everything has its own atmosphere. Each human being also possesses his atmosphere or his aura … it occupies a very important place in homeopathic studies » (p. 108). Kent says the homoeopath must learn to see « with the eyes of the spirit » (p. 120).
The Swiss Journal of Homeopathy says that the homeopathic cure has an occultic mind of its own. It « knows just where to locate the originating cause of the disorder and the method of getting to it » and « neither the patient nor the doctor has as much wisdom or knowledge » (No. 2, 1961, p. 56). This is exactly what is said for Reiki « energy. »
Many homeopaths use radionic pendulums (to detect and analyze human « energy fields » and to occulticly « douse » for answers to questions) and astrology in their diagnosis. They also communicate with spiritualists in their search for cures. Dr. Bopp interviewed a woman who prior to her conversion to Christ had worked in a homeopathic laboratory of high standing in France. She said that when she was interviewed for the job she was asked for her astrological sign and queried as to whether she was a medium. When she passed the interview and was hired, she learned the secret of the inner working of the laboratory, that they researched new treatments by questioning spirits during séances! This woman renounced homeopathy after she was converted.
What about homeopathic healings? They could either be demonic or psychosomatic. Dr. G. Kuschinsky, who wrote a basic course in pharmacology in German, said, « Homeopathic substances may be admitted in the realm of suggestion, seeing that they possess neither main nor secondary effect. »
Dr. Bopp concludes with this warning:
« It would be naive to expect a clear response, a telling disclosure from doctors or chemists who give homeopathic treatment. There are to be sure some honourable and conscientious ones seeking to utilize a homeopathy detached from its obscure practices. Yet THE OCCULT INFLUENCE, BY NATURE HIDDEN, DISGUISED, OFTEN DISSIMULATED BEHIND A PARASCIENTIFIC THEORY, DOES NOT DISAPPEAR AND DOES NOT HAPPEN TO BE RENDERED HARMLESS BY THE MERE FACT OF A SUPERFICIAL APPROACH CONTENTING ITSELF SIMPLY WITH DENYING ITS EXISTENCE.
« HOMEOPATHY IS DANGEROUS! It is quite contrary to the teaching of the Word of God. It willingly favours healing through substances made dynamic, that is to say, charged with occult forces. Homeopathic treatment is the fruit of a philosophy and religion that are at the same time Hinduistic, pantheistic and esoteric.
« The occult influence in homeopathy is transmitted to the individual, bringing him consciously or unconsciously under demonic influence. … It is significant frequently to find nervous depression in families using homeopathic treatments » (Homeopathy Examined, translated from French by Marvyn Kilgore, 1984).
H. J. Bopp, M.D.
Samuel Hahnemann, the Father of Homeopathy
The Doctrine and Method of Homeopathy
The Christian’s Attitude Towards Homeopathy
Introduction‘Great Joy’ Publications takes pleasure in offering to the English Speaking Christian public an easily read, concise, lucid and Scriptural work on Homeopathy, for prayerful, spiritual consideration and evaluation.
We desire to thank Dr. H. J. Bopp of Neuchatel, Switzerland, for his permission to translate and publish his original French edition of « L’HOMEOPATHIE ». Thanks are also due to Mervyn Kilgore Esq., of Londonderry, Northern Ireland, for his willing and able work of translation.
It is our prayer that ‘Homeopathy’ will prove, by the grace of God, a blessing to every reader. Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are exhorted in the inspired word to « prove all things, hold fast that which is good. »
Published by Great Joy Publications – Carryduff Belfast BT8 8DN
1st English Edition 1984- 2nd English Edition (Revised) 1985
Copyright Dr. H. J. Bopp
This electronic version has been edited by Rick Miller for Logos Communications Consortium. Most transcription errors have been corrected, British colloquialisms are explained, and several notes to clarify technical points have been added.
Like other ancillary paramedical practices, homeopathy is assuming an increasingly respected position in society, even inside the medical profession. It is a « science » dating from the beginning of the nineteenth century. It has since developed outside yet alongside official medicine. From the beginning of the twentieth century, medicine for its part has made enormous progress in its knowledge of disease through physiology and biochemistry. It has sharply focused on some revolutionary treatments: antibiotics, antituberculars, insulin, vaccines and others. Homeopathy from the time of its originator, Hahnemann, has remained separate from official medicine. J. J. Kent, grand master of American homeopathy (1849-1916) jealously accentuated the division between the two schools: « There is no valid excuse for getting lost amid the dark and misleading paths of the patterns recommended by traditional medicine. There are people incapable of grasping the wisdom of homeopathic doctrines who practise a mongrel homeo-allo-pathic medicine. The homeo therapy of these is moreover just as ineffectually understood and applied as their allopathic ». (The Science and Art of Homeopathy pp. 174, 175)
It is staggering to note how, in recent years, the separating line is gradually disappearing. From the homeopathic side, doctors are closing with the official position. Dr. Leeser, for example, a German, is studying and assimilating the recent discoveries in biochemistry for his homeopathic research. From the orthodox side, there is a growing number of doctors, and especially chemists [« pharmacists »], who are attempting to treat their patients by homeopathic means. In France, homeopathy is being taught in faculties of pharmacy. In this country, Switzerland, the number of enrolled homeopathic practitioners stands at 1,500. Doctors in France, Germany and Switzerland have the opportunity regularly to attend courses on this method. In French-speaking areas there is seldom to be found a chemist’s shop [« drug store »] which does not have the word « homeopathy » displayed in large writing on the window. People swallowing its pastilles or liquids are evidently growing more numerous.
Certainly homeopaths are right when they condemn the prescription, for commonplace illnesses, of powerful drugs that have sometimes dangerous side effects. Antibiotics, for example, are to be banned for any and every influenzal complaint. It is equally inappropriate to give corticoids for every arthritic pain. Similarly it is undeniable that homeopathy owes its growing success with patients to the fact that it presents itself to many people as a medicine that is both personal and scientific, with a remedy both individual and natural. One often hears of patients running from one doctor to another without finding real help. Faced with a technical and impersonal medical routine, sufferers are drawn to the homeopath, who takes pains with his patient and cures him with treatment « shaped » to his need.
But the Christian, seeking to walk in the light and in obedience to his Lord, must not allow himself to be seduced by every brand of the « in » philosophy and practice, especially when it comes to finding help for his body, the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6 v 19). That is why it is so important to examine the doctrinal origins and basis of homeopathy.
The word homeopathy is of recent origin, coined at the end of the eighteenth century by the German doctor Samuel Hahnemann, from the Greek homoios – like, common, similar, and pathos – pain, suffering. Homeopathy, therefore, is defined as a therapeutic system of treating patients by means of agents producing a condition kindred to the one being fought.
Hippocrates, born about 460 B.C., had already established two therapeutic principles; opposites and similarities. Galen (138-201 A.D.) used the « opposites » theory to characterise the therapy of his era. This is the basis of classical medicine, allopathy, from the Greek alloios – different and pathos – suffering. The following example explains the principle. If a person is suffering from diarrohea, he is given a preparation to constipate him. For constipation the opposite is prescribed, a substance producing diarrhoea.
ln the Middle Ages Paracelsus, (1493-1541) rejected Galen’s ideas and developed the principle of similarities, identical to that of Hippocrates. He devoted himself to mystical research using alchemy, seeking to analize the correspondences between the world of the outside (macrocosm) and the different parts of the human body (microcosm).
The originator of homeopathy, such as it is taught and practised today, is indisputably Samuel Hahnemann, born in 1755 at Meissen, the son of a china painter. A good student, he had the opportunity to study medicine at Leipzig, Vienna and Erlangen. Later he married a chemist’s daughter. His medical practice at Leipzig was a failure and his eleven children lived in terrible poverty. He had a tragic history; of his three sons, one died shortly after birth, another, mentally ill, went off one day for good. Of his eight daughters, one died at birth, another at the age of 30, three others were divorced (a tragic fate for a woman of that day), and yet two other were killed. At 72, Hahnemann lost his wife and, at the age of 80, remarried a Parisian. His last and somewhat sparkling years were spent in Paris until 1843, the year of his death.
But let us get back to the time he spent at Leipzig, where he began to translate scientific material to help feed his family. The book « Substances in Medicine » by the Scottish doctor Cullen, attracted his attention. Interested in the description of the effects of chinchona (Peruvian bark) or quinine, a medicament for malaria, he set about carrying out tests upon himself. He noted that quinine produced on him the same symptoms as of a patient who had contracted malaria. After this discovery, he intensified his tests with other medicaments and eventually formulated the definition of a law; « Similia similibus curantur » or « like heals like ». He began to attack official medicine which was guilty of making many mistakes through its use of harsh and limited treatments, such as; opium, purgatives and blood-letting.
In 1810 he published the most important work on homeopathy; « Organ of the Art of Healing ». It’s in this that he develops his whole doctrine. It also marks a total break with classical, or orthodox medicine. Right up to our own day the « Organ » is the foundation piece for all homeopathic treatment. In 1960, at the Montreux International Congress on Homeopathy, 260 doctors and chemists celebrated the 150th anniversary of the « Organ ». The organizer summed up the significance of this treatise with the words: « The Organ is for the homeopath what the Bible is for the Christian. Homeopathy must consider the Organ as the foundation and basis of its therapy » (Dr. Pfister of Clarens). Hahnemann’s disciples are encouraged to meditate on this book, paragraph by paragraph, in order to grasp the spiritof it. Dr. J. Kunzli of St. Gall confirms this in his article that appeared in the « Swiss Periodical Journal on Homeopathy » No. 2/1962: « You all know that today we are witnessing a reinstatement and new progressive emergence of homeopathy in many countries. This entire movement will only lead to results on condition that it draws its strength exclusively from the ‘Organ’. » Further on he quotes C. Hering; « If homeopathy is not applied according to the ‘Organ’ we’ll be remembered only as a caricature in the history of medicine ». Kunzli goes on; « A dry, historical and theoretical study will serve no purpose and will bring no help to your patients. You’ve got to penetrate the spirit of this remarkable book; you must reflect and meditate on all it contains, and the more you study it, the greater will be the profit you’ll derive from it. » The assertion is made that it’s an exceptional book; the president of the international league on homeopathy, a Dr. Gagliardi from Rome said at the Montreux Congress in 1960: « It’s futile to reject this or that principle enunciated in the ‘Organ’. There remains more than enough to recognize the unfathomable intuition and divinatory spirit of its author ». (Swiss Homeopathic Journal No. 4/1960).
Concerning such inspiration, it is interesting to read Hahnemann himself, in his letter to the town clerk of Kothen in 1828: « I have accomplished only what an individual can do with his feeble means, guided by the invisible powers of the Almighty, listening, observing, tuning in to his instructions, paying most earnest heed and religious attention to this inspiration ». It is both useful and necessary to study the spiritual orientation of Dr. Hahnemann. We know that he was a member of a lodge of Free Masons. It is significant that he placed on the title page of his ‘Organ’ the Freemasonry motto « aude sapere » (dare to be wise). Dr. H. Unger gives us a clear description of his spiritual personality: « Like Goethe, Hahnemann embodies the two streams of the classical German genre (kind or style), the pantheistic idealism of nature and the rational idealism of freemasonry ». (Swiss Journal of Homeopathy No. 1/1962). We thereby understand the relationship that exists between the spiritual heirs of Goethe, the anthroposophists, and those of Hahnemann, the homeopaths, both having a similar trancendental vision. Later, Hahnemann identified himself with eastern religions, then took Confucius as his model, while rejecting Jesus Christ.
Law of Similitude or SimilaritiesIt reads thus: the treatment likely to cure a patient is that one which, tried out in heavy dosage on the healthy person, produces phenomena and disorders similar to those observed in the patient. For example, a patient afflicted with vomiting will be given the substance, NUX VOMICA, in greatly diluted form. Nux vomica is characterised by its emetic effect on a healthy subject. « All homeopathic medicines cure illnesses the symptoms of which they most resemble » (Organ : 26) Hahnemann has formulated a whole doctrine explaining this law. Firstly he considers man as a tripartite being:
- a. will and thought (the inward man)
- b. vital energy, spirit substance or immaterial essence (the ethereal body of the anthroposophists, the god Prana of the Hindus)
- c. and the body which is material.
« In the state of health, the dynamistic, immaterial, vital energy, animating the material part of the human body, reigns absolutely ». (Organ : 9) « A person becomes ill when a diseased agent infiltrates the body and disturbs the vital energy by dynamistic influence ». (Organ : 1 1) « It’s only when the vital principle is troubled by a diseased element (that is to say by the intrinsic nature of a virus in the form of incorporeal substance) that it emits reactions and symptoms of disease ». The principle and consequence of healing are explained by Kent: « A weaker dynamic condition is permanently removed by a stronger, if this latter is like it ». (The Science and Art of Homeopathy, p.150). The cure must act upon the vital energy; to achieve this, it must resemble the disease as closely as possible in the totality of its symptoms by being tested on a healthy man.
PathogenesisPathogenesis is the testing of medicaments on healthy people. Hahnemann tried out 60 substances on himself. Homeopaths have tried out about 1,000 substances: minerals, extract of plants, animal excrement, snake and spider venom, whole ground insects and others.
Individualization of the PatientHomeopathy doesn’t seek out organic disease, the lesion of a part of the body. It attempts to find a remedy to correspond exactly to the affected individual. The diagnosis and choice of treatment are carried out on three levels:
- a. by subjective symptoms, meaning that the doctor takes note of the totality of the patient’s complaints.
- b. by objective symptoms, that is, the examination of the patient, if necessary, by means of test such as X-rays, blood samples and others.
- c. and by unforseen symptoms, as if accidental or fortuitous, resulting from very precise questioning, including areas of the soul, behaviour in private life; the study of hand-writing (graphology), forms and shapes of things (morphology), colours of the rainbow, and astrological signs.
Miasmata or DiathesesDiseases are categorised as acute or chronic. Hahnemann established three major chronic miasmas; psora, syphillis, sycosis.
- This would appear to be « the fundamental cause of disease, the origin of almost every complaint » (Organ : 80). Psora is compared to leprosy as in the Old Testament. Psora would represent the consequence of leprosy which signifies impurity, the consequence of sin. A host of manifestations are attributed to psora: psychic and mental disorders, epilepsy, cataract, deafness, jaundice, haemorrhage, arthritis, gout.
- Characterised by chronic history and cutaneous, osteo-arthritic and mental indications. Heredity would play a big part, including hereditary alcoholism.
- By this Hahnemann understands particularly the chronic type of gonorrhoea. It comprises affections of the subcutaneous or mucous tissue, with benign peduncular and glandular tumours.
Later two more miasmas were added:Tuberculoid
- the carbo-calcic or carbonic type, short and squat, stolid, strong, of decisive habits, strict, lacking imagination, headstrong.
- the phospho-calcic or phosphoric type, long-limbed, tall, lithe, graceful, distinguished, polite, lover of fine arts.
- fluoro-calcic (calcium fluoride): variable height, easily deformed frame, lacking elegance, fidgety, unstable.
InfinitesimalityThe treatment, selected according to the principle of similarities is prepared by successive dilutions. These attenuations are obtained by very well defined techniques, and are reckoned in tenths and hundredths.
The starting point of the decimal scale is an original tincture from which one drop is taken and mixed with nine drops of liquid (water). By again mixing one drop of this first dilution with nine drops of liquid the second decimal dilution, indicated by the symbol D2, is obtained.
The centesimal scale involves the mixture of one drop of the original tincture with 99 drops of liquid. One drop of this first centesimal dilution mixed with 99 drops of liquid gives the second centesimal dilution, represented by C2 or Ch3.
The lower dilutions range from D1 to CH5 (the same as D10); the higher from CH6 to CH30 or even as high as CH100 and more.
Scientific EvaluationScientifically, using the example of the salt NaCl (sodium chloride), it may be proved by a simple calculation that there is no longer likely to be a single molecule left in the dilution after CH12. In the case of organic substances (for example Belladonna), this limit is already reached at CH10 or CH11 (approximately Avogadro’s number). Any patient receiving a homeopathic treatment at CH30 should be under no illusions as to its composition. There is no longer any of the named material substance in his pill or liquid whatsoever.
[The probability of one drop of a « CH30 » solution of table salt (NaCl) containing any of the original sodium or chlorine ions is actually in the neighborhood of one in 500,000,000,000,000,000. This means that if five hundred quadrillion doses were administered (every person on earth taking a dose every three seconds over seventy-five years), it is likely that only one person would ever receive even a single atom of the original salt.Note that even the best efforts of science have never been able to maintain the purity of any substance to this degree without introducing contaminants from the containers themselves.]
However, such mathematical proof doesn’t in the least upset the homeopathic doctors. Their teaching declares that the more diluted the substance, the more active it is. It’s not just a question – and this is their secret – of a simple dilution, but of a process known as dynamization or potentialization, produced by repeatedly shaking the mixture between dilutions. Such repeated concussion makes it possible to contact and retain a hidden power in the liquid, its immaterial essence. We’ll let the « Organ » explain (No. 16):
« The doctor can only remove these morbid affections (illnesses) by bringing to bear upon this immaterial energy certain substances endowed with modifying properties that are equally immaterial (dynamic) and are discerned by the all pervasive nervous system. Accordingly it’s only by their dynamic action on the vital energy that the curative remedies are able to redress and do indeed redress the biological balance and restore health ».
Rudolf Steiner, the pioneer of anthroposophy, had the same concepts of this invisible life energy, which he called ethereal substance or the ethereal world. Anthroposophic products, which are generally homeopathic, supposedly contain the same occult force.There has as yet been no controlled study which proves the efficacy of homeopathic treatment given to any group of patients. The results of a series of scientific studies carried out in Germany have all been very discouraging for Hahnemann’s method. Doctor Fritz Donner, the son of a German doctor and homeopath, had dedicated himself to scientific research in order to explain and justify homeopathy. In 1966 he published a paper in which he confesses all the failures and all the errors of homeopathy discovered during his years of work.
Let’s take an example: For a test, a certain number of research workers were divided into two groups. One of the groups received silicea C30 (a homeopathic preparation); the other group a trick pill called a placebo (pill or liquid lacking any medicinal properties). After waiting for results, the experimentees were incapable of telling whether they had received the medicine or the placebo. When the group who had received the medicine were informed of it, they were unable to identify it. On the occasion of a second experiment, one of the arbiters, professor H. Rabe, president of the German Homeopathic Society found Silicea-produced symptoms in several of the experimentees. He was satisfied he had proved its efficacy until he discovered he had the wrong group. All those displaying symptoms had received placebos. Dr. Donner’s discoveries confirm that homeopathic treatment is incapable of evidencing significant effects. That is the reason why homeopaths are not interested in these experiments and content themselves with their individual successes.
However, those teaching homeopathy would very much like to bring forward a scientific basis to explain the effects of their therapy. They refer to recent discoveries, in which they seek to find resembalance to Hahnemann’s theory.
We shall examine three principles of classical medicine which are often used to provide a scientific explanation:
- This immunizes an individual against a microbial disease by inoculating him with the attenuated microbe or its toxin. The technique is well known, clearly defined. It consists of stimulating the production of specific antibodies to act against the microbe. Homeopathy is not based on this technique. There is no production of specific antibodies.
- These are exaggerated reactions (asthma, nettle-rash, eczema) of a person made sensitive to a substance by contact with it. The violent reaction produced by a substance often of very weak concentration, would seem to validate homeopathy. But that is not the case, because here too the precise and well known physiological procedure is absent in the homeopathic method.
Hormones and Biocatalysts
- They, too, have a clearly recognized role in the biochemical reactions of the metabolism. Even in very weak concentrations, they can be detected, measured, and their levels corrected. Thus, when there is a deficiency, as in the case of disfunction of the thyroid gland, the degree of the thyroid hormone can be precisely measured and corrected by supplying this hormone. Homeopathic preparations do not resemble these substances. The great scientist Claude Bernard, with his discovery of the principles of control by minor excitation, using substances of weak concentration, is far from supplying an aid towards understanding Hahnemann’s doctrine.
In order to establish the absurdity of homeopathic treatment, let us consult the « Practical Guide to Homeopathy » by J. Hodler. In conformity with the law of similarities, he recommends: calculi renalis 9CH for a patient stricken with stone in the kidneys. And so disappearance of stones and cure are expected by applying a preparation containing a renal calculus reduced and diluted in strength to the order of one over ten to the power of 18 [« 1E-18 » on a scientific calculator]. This form of treatment becomes dangerous in the case of infectious disease. Thus the same Guide proposes Pyrogenium 7CH, high dilution of a fever-producing substance for Septicaemia. The condition of Septicaemia is a serious one and may terminate in death, should immediate, appropriate, antibiotic treatment not be administered.The serious treatment of an illness is undertaken by means of drugs, the primary action and secondary effects of which are known; and sometimes by surgical intervention. Present-day medicine, as taught in the universities, speaks only very little about homeopathy. Its basic literature, as well as the scientific periodicals, do not mention it.
For years now people have been talking a lot about psychosomatic illness. By that we are to understand a psychic [« mental »] imbalance which after a considerable time may transform itself into organic illness, such as duodenal ulcer, asthma, pectoral angina and others. In these cases, it has been possible to prove that the patient’s trust and faith in his medicine play a very important part. A placebo very often effects a disappearance of symptoms culminating in complete recovery. The use of placebos is often welcomed and adapted in a programme of treatment, whether in hospital, or in the practitioner’s study. It is in this area that certain professors concede a role to homeopathic medicine. Let us quote from Professor G. Kuschinsky’s book « Lehrbuch der Pharmakologie », a basic work for courses in pharmacology in the German language. After thoroughly studying the effects of homeopathy, he concludes: « homeopathic substances may be admitted in the realm of suggestion, seeing that they possess neither main nor secondary effect. »
[An unfortunate side effect is that the patients go away believing that the homeopathic medicine actually worked.]
Professor Schwartz of Strasbourg shares the same opinion in his course on pharmacology: « No study of homeopathy to date would appear to be significant. No experimentation authenticates the theory ». However, he leaves the door open when he says that « it does no-one any harm », and « the patient needs a touch of magic ». If the French Social Security reimburses homeopathic medicine up to dilution CH9 it isn’t by reason of scientific proof of its efficacy, but because the patient seems to need « a little psychotherapy ». He wants his own personal miracle, his own private cure.Occult Influence
To find the cure, that’s to say, the herb for the original tincture of the preparation, the researchers often have recourse to occult practices such as the pendulum. Dr. A. Voegeli, a famous homeopathic doctor, has confirmed that a very high percentage of homeopaths work with the pendulum. There are groups whose research is carried out during seances, through mediums who seek information from spirits.
The testimony of a person who worked in an important homeopathic laboratory of high standing in France, is very interesting. She told me about the interview she had with the former director and founder of the establishment with a view to her recruitment. After a short introduction, this director asked her which astrological sign she was born under. Satisfied with the knowledge in this field of his future co-worker, he then wished to know whether she was a medium. As this was so, he confided to her the secret of the practices of the place. New treatments were researched there during seances, through the agency of persons having occult powers – mediums, – by which to question spirits. Today the person mentioned is converted and follows Jesus Christ. She separated herself from every occult practice, as well as from homeopathy, used by Satan to blind and to bind people.
All these facts are scarcely surprising, nor could they be to anyone who has read Hahnemann’s « Organ » or the other works of leading homeopaths.
As a matter of fact the vocabulary is esoteric [using mangled, half-Latin names for things which are commonly found in the kitchen] and the ideas are impregnated with oriental philosophies like Hinduism. The predominant strain of pantheism would place God everywhere, in each man, each animal, plant, flower, cell, even in homeopathic medicine.
« The cure alone really knows the patient, better than the doctor, better than the patient himself. It knows just where to locate the originating cause of the disorder and the method of getting to it. Neither the patient nor the doctor has as much wisdom or knowledge ».
(Dr. Baur, Swiss Journal of Homeopathy No. 2/1961, p. 56)
This paragraph explicitly states that the medicament has become a god. This god to whom Hahnemann constantly refers in all his books, most assuredly does not correspond to Almighty God, who reveals Himself in His Word, the Bible.Hence we can better understand the interesting passage of the book: « The Science and the Art of Homeopathy » by J.T. Kent:
« In the universe, everything has its own atmosphere. Each human being also possesses his atmosphere or his aura, as also each animal. This conception of the aura opens up some very interesting horizons from which we may descry the pale light, and it occupies a very important place in homeopathic studies »
Generally speaking the truly homeopathic doctor is initiated into this transcendental, spiritualist world. He must have knowledge « of the four states of matter: the solid, liquid, gaseous and radiant states » (Ib. p.98). The author explicitly states that it is necessary to be able to see « with the eyes of the spirit », (Ib, p.120), in order truly to grasp the Hahnemann method.Furthermore, homeopathy is related to acupuncture, auriculotherapy, iridology and the practice of hypnotists. Now, all these methods are occult or very suspect of such influence. The attempt at debunking and the scientific gloss are not convincing when we study the origins, the theory, the practice and the evidence of today. It would be naive to expect a clear response, a telling disclosure from doctors or chemists who give homeopathic treatment. There are to be sure some honourable and conscientious ones seeking to utilize a homeopathy detached from its obscure practices. Yet the occult influence, by nature hidden, disguised, often dissimulated behind a parascientific theory, does not disappear and does not happen to be rendered harmless by the mere fact of a superficial approach contenting itself simply with denying its existence. HOMEOPATHY IS DANGEROUS! It is quite contrary to the teaching of the Word of God. It willingly favours healing through substances made dynamic, that is to say, charged with occult forces. Homeopathic treatment is the fruit of a philosophy and religion that are at the same time Hinduistic, pantheistic and esoteric.
The Christian is concerned above all else to please God. The Bible alone is his sole authority, and it clearly warns man of the consequences of certain practices highly treasured by homeopaths.
Spiritism and Astrology« Regard not them that have familiar spirits (mediums), neither seek after wizards (spiritists), to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:31) »And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits (mediums), and after wizards (spiritists), to go a-whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people. (Leviticus 20:6).
« A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them. (Leviticus 20:27)
« There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth dinivation, or an observer of time, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from thee. (Deuteronomy 18:1O-12).
God considers these sins impurity, spiritual adultery, abomination. His warning is solemn.
The Pendulum« My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff (pendulum) declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone whoring from under their God » (Hosea 4:12)We earnestly warn against the use of homeopathic medicines including anthroposophic products. Some Christians think that homeopathic treatments in weak dilutions, up to D6, which are reimbursed by the Social Security, are spiritually harmless. Let’s remember that these products all equally undergo the process of dynamisation. Contact with immaterial essence, the invisible force of the ethereal world operative in the medicament, sullies the Christian. The occult influence in homeopathy is transmitted to the individual, bringing him consciously or unconsciously under demonic influence. Very often the result is a bond with Satan. A person may be cured of a bodily ailment, but this is replaced by pyschic imbalance. Spiritual life ebbs away. In this very connection it is significant frequently to find nervous depression in families using homeopathic treatments.
[The author seems to believe in the « immaterial essence » upon which homeopathy is based. Whether or not such a thing exists, or whether it can be impressed upon water either by shaking with substances or by rubbing it against demons themselves is irrelevant. Practitioners of homeopathy are dealing with spiritual things in an occult, rather than Godly, manner.]
Christians must not allow themselves to be seduced by the fact that homeopathy can effect remarkable cures. It’s not a question of denying them, even if scientific medicine lacks explanations. The Bible teaches us that Satan, through the agency of men, is capable of performing miracles and healings. « For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs ans wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Matthew 24:24) »Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: » (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11)
What must that person do who has come to realize just how much he has exposed himself to occult influence? First of all he must repent and cut himself away from that influence; believe with all his heart, after confessing his sins, in total deliverance through the sacrifice and precious blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross. A chat with Christians who have had experience in this matter is often necessary, especially when psychic or spiritualistic problems arise. The Lord Jesus has come to save and to rescue: « If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness ». (1 John 1:9)
« If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. » (John ch. 8:36).
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- – Benjamin M. Homeopathie, notre salut, Geneve 1972
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- – Hodler J.Guide pratique d’homeopathie, Soissons 1977
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- – Pfeifer S. -Gesundheit umjeden Preis?, Basel 1980
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- -Speicher G. Hei/en mit Erfolg, Zurich 1974
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Homeopathy and Voodoo relationship
The British Veterinary Voodoo Society
In light of the gratifyingly supportive attitude of professional bodies (including the RCVS and a number of UK veterinary schools) towards systems of medicine based on magical thinking, the BVVS believes the time has come to extend our professional scope beyond the areas covered at present, and exploit the full potential of the discipline.
Sir J. G. Frazer (1922) analysed the principles of Sympathetic Magic and divided the discipline into two categories: Homoeopathic Magic (Law of Similarity) (or ‘like produces like’), and Contagious Magic (Law of Contact). Although Frazer did not include Hahnemann’s medical homoeopathy among his examples of the former category, there is no doubt that it demonstrates every criterion necessary for such inclusion (Stevens, 2001).
If we further investigate the use of Homoeopathic Magic for healing, we in fact encounter the discipline of puppet healing, or Voodoo, just as frequently as traditional ‘homeopathic medicine‘. The tag ‘similia similibus‘ is commonly applied to this methodology just as to Hahnemann’s (for example Sophistes, 1996; Lambert, 1998), and given the obvious potential of the subject and its consonance with an already accepted branch of veterinary medicine it is astonishing that it has attracted so little interest within the profession.
The principle of voodoo healing is simple. As ‘like affects like’, an appropriately manufactured and treated wax doll or cloth puppet may substitute for the patient, and manipulations performed on the doll substitute for those performed on the patient. Techniques of visualisation and channelling of healing are easy to learn, and it is possible to combine voodoo with ‘conventional’ or allopathic medicine simply by administering the medicine to the doll rather than to the patient.
In addition, just as our homoeopathic colleagues have extended their interest to the field of Contagious Magic (radionics and related subjects), voodoo may be extended in the same direction. The image may be identified with its subject by the embedding of ousia – items connected with the subject such as a hair or nail clipping, or even a blood sample. This greatly enhances the therapeutic effects of voodoo procedures, and in particular allows the practice of voodoo at considerable distances from the patient, even over the telephone or the Internet.
Voodoo has much to commend it in veterinary practice:
Client acceptability. As magical thinking is a fundamental attribute of human cognition (touching wood, not walking under ladders, Friday the 13th etc.), voodoo ideas instinctively resonate with the client, who seldom has any difficulty in accepting their ‘natural healing’ potential.
Potential for profit. Materials to make dolls are inexpensive, and beeswax may be reused on multiple occasions. Even where pharmaceuticals are employed, the amount required to influence a puppet is considerably less than the dose for a large dog or a farm animal, leaving a far greater profit margin than in conventional medicine.
Safety. As the remedy or healing manipulation is applied to the doll rather than to the patient, the danger of side-effects or adverse effects is obviously eliminated. In addition, operator safety is clearly much enhanced, as there is little or no risk of being scratched, bitten or kicked by a doll!
Scientific credibility. Clinical trials are still in their early stages, however we are confident that by performing a sufficient number of small, poorly-controlled investigations we will easily generate enough p<0.05 outcomes to be able to claim with absolute assurance that the method is well proven by properly conducted double-blind research.
Faith-based practice. Voodoo has recently achieved recognition as an official religion in Haiti.
FRAZER, J. G. (1922) Sympathetic Magic. Ch. 3 of The Golden Bough, a Study in Magic and Religion, 4th edn. Public domain text, several editions in print.
LAMBERT, M. (1998) Review of Magic in the Ancient World, by F. Graf. Scholia Reviews, 18:7.
SOPHISTES, A. (1996) Construction and use of ancient Greek poppets. In Biblioteka Arcana, University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
STEVENS, P. (2001) Magical thinking in complementary and alternative medicine. Skeptical Inquirer, 25:6.
Magical Thinking in Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Phillips Stevens, Jr.
SCI Volume 25.6, November / December 2001
Homeopathy and other popular therapies demonstrate ancient and universal principles of magical thinking, which some recent research suggests are fundamental to human cognition, even rooted in neurobiology.
Many of today’s « complementary » or « alternative » systems of healing involve magical beliefs, manifesting ways of thinking based in principles of cosmology and causality that are timeless and absolutely universal. So similar are some of these principles among all human populations that some cognitive scientists have suggested that they are innate to the human species, and this suggestion is being strengthened by current scientific research. Any efforts to correct such thinking should begin with understanding of the nature of the principles involved. When we ask « why people believe weird things » (as has Shermer 1997) we might consider that at least some beliefs derive from a natural propensity to think in certain ways.
This article considers those aspects of belief that accord with the best anthropological meanings of « magic » and « magical thinking. » It defines these terms far more specifically than have others.1 I will first survey the wide range of popular meanings of magic, then elucidate underlying principles involved in the belief system most appropriately labeled « magic. » I will identify some popular belief systems that involve magical thinking and indicate some recent scientific studies that suggest that we are dealing with innate principles of cognition.
Meanings of « Magic »
The terms magic and magical have a wide range of meanings, both among scholars and the general public. In no significant order, the terms can mean: the tricks and illusions of a stage magician; ability to change form, visibility, or location of something, or the creation of something from nothing; spirit invocation and command; having romantic, awe-inspiring, or wondrous quality; the « high » or « Hermetic » magic of late medieval and Renaissance times, including astrology, alchemy, Kabbalah, and other systems involving complex calculations and/or written notations and formulas; anything « mystical, » « psychic, » « paranormal, » « occult, » or « New Age »; some of the beliefs and practices of Wicca and other neo-pagan religions, often spelled « magick »; any of the many meanings of « sorcery » or « witchcraft, » or other referents of « black magic »; anything seeming mysterious or miraculous; and the terms can be used as a general reference to supernatural power. I have elaborated on these meanings elsewhere (Stevens 1996a).
Even among scholars there is not general agreement, and any of the above meanings may be evident in different anthropological writings. But there are distinct ways of thinking and corresponding ritual practices that are similar among all peoples in the world and at all stages of recorded history – including prehistory – which most anthropologists, and many other scholars, refer to as magic. In this universal sense, as I have indicated in more detail elsewhere (Stevens 1996b), magic operates according to any or all of five basic principles:
- Most peoples seem to believe in forces in nature that are separate from and operate independently of any spiritual beings and are also separate from those forces identified and measured by science, e.g., gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. The forces are inherently programmed, apparently since the Creation, to do specific things, either alone or in concert with others, and if left alone they will do those things. Farmers recognize them; poets have written about them (« The force that through the green fuse drives the flower »-Dylan Thomas, 1934).
Power. The forces, and everything else, are energized by a mystical power that exists in varying degrees in all things. The power in higher-order things, spiritual beings, and people of high status, like African and Polynesian kings, may be dangerous to ordinary people. Power is transferable, through physical contact, sensory perception, or mere proximity. The idea is exemplified in the biblical concept of divine « glory, » as halos over the heads of saints in medieval art, and in contemporary New Age « auras » and « psi energy. » It is belief in supernatural power that defines the concept of « sacred, » and that distinguishes holy water.
In some belief systems, « forces » and « power » may seem to merge; e.g., in the concept of « vital force » that exists in so many forms: Polynesian and Melanesian mana, Iroquois orenda, Algonqian manitou, Sioux wakan, Malay kramat, Indian brahma, Greek dynamis, Chinese qi, ashé among the Yoruba of West Africa and its Caribbean derivatives (aché, axé), « karma » and « chakras » in Hindu and Buddhist healing systems, the alleged « energies » in Therapeutic Touch and Reiki, etc.; and ideas of flowing streams of power in Earth, like « leylines » in Britain and Europe and earth energies addressed in the Chinese geomantic system of feng shui.
A coherent, interconnected cosmos. It is widely believed that everything in the cosmos is actually or potentially interconnected, as if by invisible threads, not only spatially but also temporally-past, present, and future. Further, every thing and every event that has happened, is happening, or will happen was pre-programmed into the cosmic system; and after it has happened, it leaves a record of itself in the cosmic program.
Symbols. Symbols are words, thoughts, things, or actions that not only represent other things or actions but can take on the qualities of the things they represent. The American flag is a good example; if the flag is mistreated it is more than the material that is damaged. If the thing the symbol stands for has power, the symbol will become powerful. Some symbols with power appear to be universal, e.g., eggs, horns, and the color red; most are understandable only in their specific cultural contexts.
Words are extremely powerful, as they embody their own meaning, and speech is usually part of the magic act. It is universally believed that spoken words, activated by the life force and the intent of the speaker and borne on his or her breath, carry the power of their own meaning directly to their intended target. Unspoken thoughts can do the same, although less effectively. Telepathy, telekinesis, and the projection of « psi energy » are thus explained.
Frazer’s principles. Sir James George Frazer, in his monumental work on religion and kingship, The Golden Bough, explained his famous principles of sympathetic magic in most detail in the third edition, 1911-1915. Heir to the eighteenth-century Positivist assumption of « laws » governing nature and society, Frazer said that sympathetic magic was of two types. « Homeopathic » magic works according to the « law of similarity »-things or actions that resemble other things or actions have a causal connection. « Contagious magic » obeys the « law of contact »-things that have been either in physical contact or in spatial or temporal association with other things retain a connection after they are separated. Frazer is rightly credited for his detailed explication of sympathetic magic and his collection of numerous examples from world ethnology. But ideas of causality based in similarity and contact had been expressed by philosophers since Classical times (e.g., Hippocrates), were integral to the medieval and Renaissance Hermetic systems (e.g., Paracelsus), and had been noted, and dismissed as lazy thinking, by Francis Bacon in his Novum Organum, 1608-1620.
- Note that spirit beliefs are not involved in the above principles. Many uses of « magic » mean spirit invocation and command, but probably all peoples conceive of spirits as sentient and willful beings who may choose not to respond to human command-as Shakespeare’s Hotspur famously responded to Glendower’s boast that he could « call spirits from the vasty deep, » in
King Henry IV, Part I
- The forces and powers addressed and manipulated in magic are insentient and passively responsive (if the rite is performed correctly). Magic should be distinguished from supplication of a deity, as through prayer; but all scholars recognize that magical principles are intertwined with and complementary to religious ritual.
So, magic involves the transfer of power in nature, or the human effort to manipulate natural forces along the network of cosmic interconnections by symbolic projection of power. Magical principles are evident in intentional magic, in which symbols are consciously used, through principles of similarity or contact, for beneficial or harmful results; in taboo, which is the avoidance of establishing an undesirable magical connection; in the direct use of words to achieve results, as in blessing or curse; in some forms of divination, « reading » answers to questions by tapping into the cosmic program through mechanical or clairvoyant means; in harnessing the power of symbols for personal good fortune or protection, as in talismans and « lucky » charms; etc. Indeed, ideas of « luck » and « jinx » are magical concepts. Most « superstitions » are readily explainable by the principles of magical thinking.
Homeopathy and Other Magical Belief Systems
Some of the principles of magical beliefs described above are evident in currently popular belief systems. A clear example is homeopathy. Fallacies in homeopathic claims have been discussed by many, including Barrett (1987) and Gardner (1989) in this journal; but it is curious that this healing system has not been more widely recognized as based in magical thinking.3 The fundamental principle of its founder, Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), similia similibus curentur (« let likes cure likes »), is an explicit expression of a magical principle. The allegedly active ingredients in homeopathic medications were « proved » effective against a particular disease when they produced in healthy people symptoms similar to those caused by the disease.
Hahnemann was well aware, says sympathetic biographer Martin Gumpert, that his theories might be relegated to the realm of « mere magic » (1945, 147), and he sought to explain homeopathy’s alleged effects by reference to established science of the time. He was impressed by Anton Mesmer’s (1734-1815) concept of « animal magnetism, » and by the « dynamism » of philosopher Friederich Schelling (1775-1854) who taught that matter is infinitely divisible, and that « the more unsubstantial the matter became by dilution, the purer and more effective could be its ‘spirit-like’ and ‘dynamic’ functions » (Gumpert 1945, 147). So Hahnemann insisted that a « vital force » was present both in the human body and in the medications. He recognized that his successive dilutions (« potentizations ») of the allegedly active substance in water inevitably reduced the amount of the original substance to none; but the water carried the essence of the active substance, with which it had been in contact; and that essence worked on the vital force of the patient. Moreover, the power of the medication-its « potency » or « dynamization, » terms borrowed from Schelling-was increased by grating or pulverizing the original material and by shaking the solution (« succussion »).
Hahnemann’s appeal, then and today, was enhanced because he was a well-educated physician and made legitimate criticisms of certain medical practices of his day; but much in his contemporary scientific worldview was still magical. Three fundamental principles of magic are involved in homeopathy: similarity, power, and contact.
According to a survey about alternative medicine in the November 11, 1998, Journal of the American Medical Association, Americans’ use of homeopathic preparations more than doubled between 1990 and 1997 (Eisenberg et al. 1998).4 Most modern homeopathic texts are careful to emphasize homeopathy’s limitations and to advise consultation with a physician if symptoms persist. But most insist that homeopathy accords with proven principles of science, citing its basis in experimentation, principles of vaccination (Edward Jenner was a contemporary of Hahnemann), and its apparent parallels to discoveries in symptomatology and immunology and the body’s reactions to various physical and emotional stressors. A popular meaning of « science, » apparently, is « complicated » and Dana Ullman (1988, 10) asserts that homeopathy is « too scientific » for ordinary people to figure out. Ullman goes on to argue at length for biological and physical explanations for the concepts of « resonance » and « vital force » and compares them with some of the cultural ideas of mystical « power » I discussed earlier, and even more: Chinese chi, Japanese ki, what « yogis call prana, Russian scientists call ‘bioplasm,’ and Star Wars characters call ‘The Force' » (p. 15); and (p. 34, n. 1) he cites Frazer’s classic study of magic for cross-cultural parallels to « the law of similars! » Later, he and Stephen Cummings (Cummings and Ullman 1991) are more careful, and conclude that science has yet to explain just how it « works. » For now, the best explanations for claimed successes with homeopathic cures-assuming the original ailment was clinically genuine-are 1) as they are completely inert, homeopathic remedies allow nature to run its course, as Duffy (1976, 112ff.) has indicated;5 and/or 2) the placebo effect, which currently is the subject of renewed interest in medical research.6 Indeed, when anthropologists indicate beliefs and cultural/psychological expectations as responsible for magical cures-or for the deleterious personal effects of hexes or taboo violations-it is the placebo effect they are talking about.
Various other « alternative » and « New Age » beliefs are obviously magical; many are ancient and widespread. Crystals have long been believed to contain concentrated power; colored crystals have specific healing effects, as certain colors are associated with parts of the body-as they have been in the West for centuries. Colors enhance powers ascribed to candles and other ritual devices. In the early 1980s I gave accommodation in my home to a young New Age enthusiast. Tom, as I shall call him, for some weeks wore a small cloth bag of crystals pinned inside his shirt, over his heart. One morning I noticed that among the items he had laid out for his day was a small brown bottle of liquid, bearing the label « Tom’s Red Water. » He explained that a member of his therapy/discussion group produced this for all who wanted it: he wrapped a large glass jug of water in red cellophane and placed it in sunlight all day long. Each person carried a small bottle of this energized liquid and sipped from it four times a day.
But the magical healing power of colors seems universal. My colleague Ana Mariella Bacigalupo informed me that health workers among the Mapuche of Chile found that their patients were indifferent to the standard white antibiotic pills; but they willingly took red-colored pills because red is culturally associated with exorcism (as it is elsewhere, and was in early Europe and England; see Bonser 1963, 219). Six studies reviewed in the British Medical Journal in 1996 confirmed popular European and American expectations about the color of pills: red, yellow, or orange pills are expected to have a general stimulant effect, blue or green are sedative; and specifically, red is cardiovascular, tan or orange is skin, white is all-purpose. The authors correctly point out that cultural associations may vary, though red, for blood, hence vitality, is probably universal (de Craen et al. 1996).
Social-psychological explanations for people’s continued use of magic in an increasingly scientific and technological age agree that it gives individuals a sense of control, hence an important increase in self-confidence in a confusing and impersonal world. When the objective is relief from some personal ailment, such confidence may generate feelings of improvement, albeit perhaps temporary, through the placebo effect.
The physiological effects of cultural expectations-an explanation for the placebo effect-were indicated in the 1970s, in a number of Swedish/Thai studies that showed that people who liked the appearance, and the taste, of what they were eating absorbed more nutrients from it. This was explained in reference to the « cephalic phase » of the digestive process, affecting the flow of enzyme-laden salivary, gastric, pancreatic, and intestinal secretions. Thai and Swedish diners were indifferent to each others’ cuisines, and neither group was interested in one of its own favorite meals whose components had been blended in a high-speed mixer. In such cases, iron absorption fell by 70 percent (see Hallberg et al. 1977; reported in Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, October 2000).
Neurobiological Bases for Magical Thinking
Of all the principles of magical thinking I discussed earlier, Frazer’s principle of similarity is most basic. This is the basis for the universal and timeless beliefs and practices involving notions of resemblance, falling under the general rubric of « imitative magic, » and the principle that has most persuaded scholars to suggest that a basic mechanism of human cognition may be at work. It has long been understood that imitation lies at the basis for learning among higher primates and humans. Specific brain mechanisms involved in imitation among monkeys have recently been identified, and their implications for primate and human perception, symbolism, communication, and action have been recognized (Rizzolatti and Arbib 1998). Therefore, a 1999 discovery among human subjects by brain scientists is especially exciting. Marco Iacoboni and his colleague (Iacoboni et al. 1999) asked healthy participants to observe pictures of specific finger movements, and to imitate those movements while their brain activity was measured; and later to move the appropriate finger when shown only pictures of simple cross marks spatially representing the fingers involved in the earlier movements. Their experiments showed that specific areas of the human brain are involved in imitation, both when the stimuli are actions and symbolic representations of actions. The implications for magical thinking are huge.
But the vast majority of the world’s peoples, including many highly educated research scientists,7 obviously believe that there are real connections between the symbol and its referent, and that some real and potentially measurable power flows between them. Elisabeth Targ, M.D., and her colleagues recently had « a randomized double-blind study of the effect of distant healing » published in a leading American medical journal, the Western Journal of Medicine (Sicher et al. 1998). (Elisabeth is the daughter of « psi energy » proponent Russell Targ.) Martin Gardner (2001, 14) reports that Elizabeth Targ is the recipient of over two million dollars of public funds from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health for two studies of « distant healing, » one over three years on 150 HIV patients, and one over four years on persons with glioblastoma. Methods in her 1998 study involved forty American « experienced distant healers » from several different traditions (« Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Native American, and shamanic; » p. 359), who were given five « subject information packets » containing personal data: subject’s first name, a current color photograph, and written notations on blood count and current symptoms. Healers were instructed to open their packets on certain dates and « to work on the assigned subject for approximately one hour per day for six consecutive days with the instruction to ‘direct an intention for health and well-being’ to the subject » (p. 359). Assuming that Targ’s current methods are similar, we can now recognize that her generous government grants support testing of a modern form of ancient and universal image magic, involving at least four classic principles of magical thinking: power, interconnections in nature, symbols, and similarity.8
- For example, L. Zusne and W.H. Jones, whose studies (Zusne 1985, Zusne and Jones 1989) have set standards for some subsequent investigations (e.g., Krippner and Winkler 1996, Thomas 1999).
- Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
- Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
- But will they come when you do call for them?
- Some writers, e.g., Planer (1988, 189-191), do categorize homeopathy as magic; but folklorist Wayland Hand is the only scholar I have found who explicitly identifies it as based in specific principles of magical thinking. In his widely reprinted essay « Folk Magical Medicine and Symbolism in the West, » he discusses the ancient and well-known principles of similarity in medicine and refers to homeopathy as « analogic magic » (1980, 306). Hand collected at least as many instances of magical practices among modern populations throughout Europe and North America as Frazer had for the traditional world; see his Magical Medicine, 1980.
- « The largest increases were in the use of herbal medicine, massage, megavitamins, self-help groups, folk remedies, energy healing, and homeopathy » (Eisenberg et al. 1998, 1571). Of « energy healing, » magnets were the most commonly used method; others most frequently cited were Therapeutic Touch, Reiki, and energy healing by religious groups. In terms of preference, homeopathy ranked thirteenth of sixteen alternative therapies in the survey, all of which showed appreciable increase between 1990 and 1997. It is interesting to note, however, that under the heading « saw a practitioner in past 12 months, » acupuncture and homeopathy declined, whereas all others increased. I know that many do-it-yourself acupuncture devices have appeared on the market. Visits to homeopathic practitioners declined by half, no doubt because of the flood of ready-to-use homeopathic preparations that became available; apparently homeopath Dana Ullman’s (1988, 10; see below) warning to people not to self-prescribe was prescient.
- Duffy pointed out this value for the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when standard treatments such as blood-letting, purging, harsh emetics, applications of heat or cold, etc., might actually harm the patient. « Natural » recovery from any disorder might be temporary or illusory, due to a cyclical nature of the disease or its symptoms, or spontaneous remission, as well as a host of psychological factors (e.g., self-delusion), reporting errors, etc., as Beyerstein (1997) has indicated. And, the original ailment may have been psychosomatic.
- The « placebo effect, » apparent physiological improvement by ailing people who unwittingly receive ineffectual (« sham ») treatment, has been considered especially powerful, attributed to the strength of the « mind-body connection. » In the 1990s many studies attempted to determine any clinical efficacy of homeopathy; determining the role of placebo in its relatively narrow clinical sense proved difficult, as many subjective factors may be involved (such as beliefs!-see Linde et al. 1997). On May 24, 2001, while this paper was being revised, news reports blared the debunking of the placebo effect, calling it « myth, » and predicting radical reassessment of medical assumption. But that research (Hróbjartsson and Gøtzsche 2001) in fact supports my use of the term here. The cases in which placebo was deemed ineffectual were clinical trials involving « binary outcomes » (e.g., nausea, smoking relapse) measured by objective standards. In cases involving « continuous outcomes » (e.g., hypertension, pain) and subjective assessment, the researchers found placebo to be beneficial. Psychologists and anthropologists recognize that this is exactly the type of case in which faith healing, which homeopathy really is, « works. »
- Eisenberg et al. (1998) found that « alternative » or « complementary » medicine use was significantly more common among people with some college education (50.6 percent) than with no college education (36.4 percent), among people aged 35-49 than older or younger, and among people with annual incomes above $50,000.
- And we can be justifiably outraged at this expenditure of taxpayers’ money. But Eisenberg, et. al. (1998) calculated that between 1990 and 1997 visits to alternative medicine providers
- total visits to
- primary care physicians; and several other surveys have shown the increasing use of alternative medicine across the country and throughout the world. So perhaps our outrage might be tempered by the realization that, given the huge numbers of Americans who have consulted « alternative » or « complementary » medical practitioners, the government has an obligation to support research into their effectiveness. Still, any traditional person in any region of the world could advise Dr. Targ that her chances of success would be greatly increased if she had added to her « subject information packets » items that had been in direct intimate contact with the subjects, such as hair or nail clippings or any bodily fluids, or just a fragment of an item of unwashed underwear.
- Barrett, Stephen. 1987. Homeopathy: Is it medicine? Skeptical Inquirer (12)1, Fall: 56-62.
- Bonser, Wilfrid. 1963. The Medical Background of Anglo-Saxon England: A Study in History, Psychology, and Folklore. London: Oxford University Press.
- Beyerstein, Barry L. 1997. Why bogus therapies seem to work. Skeptical Inquirer (21)5, September/October: 29-34.
- Cummings, Stephen, and Dana Ullman. 1991. Everybody’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicines. Los Angeles: Tarcher.
- de Craen, Anton J.M., Pieter J. Roos, A. Leonard de Vries, and Jos Kleijnen. 1996. Effect of Colour of Drugs: Systematic Review of Perceived Effect of Drugs and Their Effectiveness. British Medical Journal 313:1624-6.
- Dubisch, Jill. 1981. You are what you eat: Religious aspects of the health food movement. In The American Dimension: Culture Myths and Social Realities ed. Susan P. Montague and W. Arens. Second edition. Palo Alto, California: Mayfield.
- Duffy, John. 1976. The Healers: The Rise of the Medical Establishment. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- Eisenberg, David M., Roger B. Davis, Susan L. Ettner, Scott Appel, Sonja Wilkey, Maria Van Rompay, and Ronald C. Kessler. 1998. Trends in Alternative Medicine Use in the United States, 1990-1997. Journal of the American Medical Association 280:1569-1575.
- Frazer, James George. 1911-1915. The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion. Third edition. London: Macmillan.
- Gardner, Martin. 1989. Water with memory? The dilution affair. Skeptical Inquirer 12(2):132-141.
- -. 2001. Distant Healing and Elisabeth Targ. Skeptical Inquirer 25(2):12-14.
- Gumpert, Martin. 1945. Hahnemann. Claud W. Sykes, trans. New York: L.B. Fischer.
- Hallberg, L., E. Björn-Rasmussen, L. Rossander, and R. Suwanik. 1977. Iron absorption from Southeast Asian diets: II. Role of various factors that might explain low absorption. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 30, April, pp. 539-548.
- Hand, Wayland D. 1980. Folk Magical Medicine and Symbolism in the West. In Magical Medicine. Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 305-319.
- Hróbjartsson, Asbjørn, and Peter C. Gøtzsche. 2001. Is the placebo powerless? New England Journal of Medicine 344:1594-1602.
- Iacoboni, Marco, Roger P. Woods, Marcel Brass, Harold Bekkering, John C. Mazziotta, and Giacomo Rizzolatti. 1999. « Cortical Mechanisms of Human Imitation. » Science 286:2526-2528.
- Krippner, Stanley, and Michael Winkler. 1996. The « Need to Believe. » In Encyclopedia of the Paranormal. Gordon Stein, ed. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, pp. 441-454.
- Linde, Klaus, Nicola Clausius, Gilbert Ramirez, Dieter Meichart, Florian Eitel, Larry V. Hedges, and Wayne B. Jonas. 1997. Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? The Lancet 350:834-843; erratum 351, Jan. 17, 1998, p. 220.
- Planer, Felix E. 1988. Superstition. Revised ed. Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books.
- Rizzolatti, Giaciomo, and Michael A. Arbib. 1998. Language within our grasp. Trends in Neuroscience 21(5):188-194.
- Shermer, Michael. 1997. Why People Believe Weird Things. New York: W.H. Freeman.
- Sicher, Fred, Elisabeth Targ, Dan Moore II, and Helene S. Smith. 1998. A randomized double-blind study of the effect of distant healing in a population with advanced AIDS. Western Journal of Medicine 169:356-363.
- Stevens, Phillips, Jr. 1996a. Black Magic. In Encyclopedia of the Paranormal. Gordon Stein, ed. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, pp. 129-133.
- -.1996b. Magic. In Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology, ed. David Levinson and Melvin Ember. New York: Henry Holt, pp. 721-726.
- Thomas, Sherilyn Nicole. 1999. Magical Ideation in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Ph.D. dissertation, Dept. of Psychology, SUNY at Buffalo.
- Ullman, Dana. 1988. Homeopathy: Medicine for the 21st Century. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books.
- Zusne, L. 1985. Magical Thinking and Parapsychology. In A Skeptic’s Handbook of Parapsychology, ed. P. Kurtz. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, pp. 685-700.
- Zusne, L., and W.H. Jones. 1989. Anomalistic Psychology: A Study of Magical Thinking. Second edition. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Homeopathy: science or religion?
By A. P. Gaylard
With regards to Kuhn and his philosophy we have seen that far from being an anarchic Feyerabendian “anything goes” relativist; he is much more moderate. His view is that particular theories prevail for “good reasons“; not arbitrary ones.
Also, the sense in which most people continue to use the term ‘paradigm‘ is not Kuhnian. For Kuhn these are the universally agreed concrete exemplars of good science; the stuff of textbooks: not a prevailing intellectual structure.
They are the possession of mature communities; characterised by having very few (usually only one) ‘school‘ within them. So, what does a scientific community look like for Kuhn? Does he really set the bar too high for homeopathy?
For Kuhn scientific communities are the fundamental unit in his analysis. He said of his original text for The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (all numbers in square brackets [ ] refer to the 3rd Ed., 1996): “…If this book were being rewritten, it would…open with a discussion of the community structure of science…” [p.176]
Talking about scientists and their perception of their community ties he opines: “Most practising scientists respond at once to questions about their community affiliations, taking for granted that responsibility for the various current specialities is distributed among groups of at least roughly determinate membership…” [p.176]
How is the membership of these communities to be defined? Outlining his own “intuitive notion” of a scientific community he starts with the obvious definition: “practitioners of a specific speciality” [p.177]. He then elaborates on what the special aspects of a scientific community are; those that are “unparalleled in most other fields“. These are:
- Members possess
- They have experienced
similar professional initiations.
- The membership has
absorbed the same technical literature.
- Many of the
- have been drawn from the literature by the community.
boundaries of the technical literature mark the limits of scientific subject matter
- The membership has
trains its successors
communication is relatively full
- within the community.
- The members’
professional judgements are relatively unanimous.
Kuhn’s scientific communities are nested, breaking down broad scientific disciplines into their constituent specialities. At the top of his tree there is “The most global…the community of all natural scientists” [p.177]. Next come the main professional groupings: “…physicists, chemists, astronomers, zoologists and the like…”
Membership of these groups is, according to Kuhn, relatively easy to ascertain; key markers are: the subject of highest degree; membership of professional societies and journals read. He argues that sub-groupings can be identified using the same approach.
Kuhn notes that in the next layer of science it is more difficult to identify the communities. He suggests looking at other discriminating parameters: attendance at special conferences; who referees the papers produced; communication networks and linkages among citations.
What can we learn about the status of the ‘homeopathic community’ from these markers: does it look like a scientific community or not?
Homeopathy: a scientific community?
Education and Professional Initiation
Let’s start with education. Kuhn identifies the “subject of highest degree” as a key marker for membership of a scientific community; yet homeopathy is not a wholly graduate community. Some homeopathy colleges even doubt the value of studying the subject to ‘degree’ level
“…A major concern with degree courses is how much the course has had to compromise in order to meet the academic criteria of the accrediting university. “The Homeopathy College – Birmingham (website accessed 7th January 2007)
Given the academic betrayal that BSc. Degrees in homeopathy currently represent, this is a worrying opinion; one can only hope that it is not widely held.Kuhn also lays great emphasis on the similarity of educational experiences within a scientific community, however, for homeopaths this varies greatly. It ranges from the post-graduate acquisition of homeopathy after a conventional medical training, through specific university degree courses to short “home learning” courses.
This situation may be remedied by the Council for Organisations Representing Homeopaths (CORH) or, given the organisations current disarray, it may not. The Natural Healthcare Council may do better, or may not. Central to be problems both these initiatives face is the sheer number and variety of ‘representative’ institutions.
The number and diversity of these institutions is without parallel among true scientific communities. For example, the UK physics community has the Institute of Physics. This is affiliated with other, national and supra-national, representative physics institutions outside the UK. In contrast, for UK based homeopaths, there are the following institutions to choose from:
- Alliance of Registered Homeopaths (
- Association of Natural Medicine (
- British Register of Complementary Practitioners (
- Council for Homeopathic Colleges (
- Fellowship of Homoeopaths (
- Homeopathic Medical Association (
- International Register of Consultant Herbalists and Homoeopaths (
- International Society for Homoeopathy (
- National Association of Homeopathic Groups (
- Scottish Association of Professional Homeopaths (
- Society of Homeopaths (
(I am indebted to Gimpy’s Blog for this listing)Now there may be some overlap, but even so, this range of ‘professional’ institutions undermines any claim to be a scientific community. It is a marker, not just for diverse educational experiences and professional initiations: it calls into question the possibility of shared goals, unified training, full communication and unanimity of professional judgement; more on these later.
The position on the body of technical literature seems clearer. The NHS’ National Library for Health “Complementary and Alternative Medicine Specialist Library” provides a good way to assess where the best quality homeopathic trials and research are published. This database is prepared by the leading members of the UK’s medical and academic homeopathy community. Therefore it can be taken to include the best research published in the field.
Aside from publications in mainstream journals there are entries published in: Homeopathy, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, and Complementary Therapies in Medicine.
Do the boundaries of the technical literature mark the limits of homeopathy? No, they do not. It is absolutely standard practise in homeopathy to transgress the boundaries provided by the literature: the treatments offered by homeopaths go far beyond the evidence contained in the ‘respectable’ literature.
For example the only positive trial contained in the UK’s NHS database is for the treatment of vertigo with a homeopathic ‘medicine’ called ‘Vertigoheel‘ (an example of Clinical homeopathy). However, homeopaths (even the medically qualified) do not limit themselves to the treatment of vertigo.
The most egregious examples are offering prophylaxis and cures for malaria as well as treatment of HIV/AIDS. These fantasies are indulged in by doctrinaire homeopaths in the complete absence of evidence; pushing beyond the bounds of their technical literature.
Another pressing problem is that the technical literature provides no answer to the vexed question of how homeopathy ‘works’. This also limits its ability to provide bounds for the field.
Learning Lessons and Professional Judgement
The next fundamental problem arises when looking at the question as to whether homeopaths have drawn the same lessons from their literature: it is clear that they have not.
There is no clear agreement on what homeopathy really is or which therapeutic schools are valid. For example, a substantial body of opinion denies outright the validity of Clinical or Complex homeopathy. Some accept Isopathy, others do not.
On considering the literature some apologists deny that fair trials are a fair test of homeopathy; others spend their careers undertaking methodologically conventional trials.
There is no agreement on how homeopathy ‘works’. For some it is a sort of quantum mechanical effect (or something for which quantum mechanics provides a kind of metaphor, model or analogy; take your pick – the vagueness is theirs not mine).
Others argue that the solvent remembers the solute in an as yet unknown way. A vocal minority claim that this memory can be ‘digitised‘ and sent down telephone lines. This leads to the even wilder proposition that homeopathic remedies can even be embodied in music.
The so-called laws of homeopathy are not uniformly accepted. The “law of similars” is flouted by Isopaths and their fellow-travellers. The “law of infinitesimals” is not followed by many Clinical homeopaths.
Some homeopaths claim that conventional medicine stops their potions from working and dissuade their clients from using it; they take homeopathy to be alternative medicine. Conversely, ‘responsible’ homeopaths offer ‘treatments’ alongside conventional treatment, or for ailments for which it cannot provide relief: for them it’s complementary medicine.
The conclusion is inescapable: professional judgements vary wildly.
As already noted, homeopath’s education varies wildly. Thus the training of their successors falls to individual therapeutic schools. Consequently, homeopaths are disciples of different traditions.
The homeopathy ‘community’ looks nothing like any scientific community that I have seen. Of conventional scientific communities Kuhn notes: “Communities of this sort are the units that this book has presented as producers and evaluators of scientific knowledge. Paradigms are something shared by members of such groups…” [p.178]
Therefore, homeopaths and their apologists are not in a position to be “…producers and evaluators of scientific knowledge…”, neither are they in a position to share paradigms.
Is this important? Well, if you claim you community to be part of a Kuhnian revolution in science your community must look like a Kuhnian scientific community. As we have seen, homeopathy does not
Homeopathy: A Religious Community?
As has been noted by others, homeopathy looks more like a religious tradition rent asunder by schism. This may well be due to the religious and mystical influences on its origin and later development. It isn’t possible, in this post, to do more than sketch an outline of this pervasive influence. However, briefly drawing on a fascinating book called “HomeopathyIn Perspective: Myth And Reality” (© 1998-2004 by Anthony Campbell.) will provide some telling insights.
Anthony Campbell was a homeopath; a Fellow of the Faculty of Homeopathy and a former consultant physician at The Royal London Homeopathic Hospital. He is also a past Editor of the British Homeopathic Journal (now renamed Homeopathy).
He has clearly researched this subject in depth and is well placed to point out the religious influences on the origins of Hahnemann’s conception of homeopathy as well as its subsequent development. (All page numbers in parenthesis () are from “HomeopathyIn Perspective: Myth And Reality“)
“…We shall not understand the man unless we realize that for him, homeopathy was much more than a mere medical theory; it was a divine revelation. I am not exaggerating here. We know from his own writings that the idea of homeopathy came to him as the solution to a religious dilemma. This dilemma was the paradox that confronts anyone who believes in a God who is simultaneously all-powerful and all-good; how to account for suffering? Hahnemann was not a Christian but he was a deist. He believed that the universe had been designed by an infinitely wise and loving Father, and such a Father, he reasoned, must have provided his children with a means of relieving their suffering.”(pp. 27-28)
For Hahnemann, homeopathy was a solution to a pressing theological problem. Later, more directly mystical influences are evident. Campbell continues:
“…Swedenborgianism and homeopathy took to each other at once. Swedenborgians found in homeopathy a medical system that perfectly complemented their religious attitude, while homeopaths found in Swedenborgianism a religious framework into which Hahnemann’s ideas could expand freely. Homeopathy thus quickly became the accepted medical system for Swedenborgians, while most of the leading nineteenth century homeopaths, including Hans Gram and Constantine Hering, were Swedenborgians…”(p.58)
Other mystic influences continued to influence the development of homeopathy, according to Campbell:
“…By linking homeopathy with Swedenborgianism the American high-potency school established a connection with occultism, but this is not the only one of its kind. There is indeed a counterpoint of occultism running through homeopathy right from the beginning…”(p.79)
The occultist “counterpoint” has also included the alchemical tradition; particularly that espoused by the sixteenth-century physician Theophrastus von Hohenheim (Paracelsus). It also includes the Golden Dawn movement.The more recent link with Rudolph Steiner‘s ‘Anthroposophical Medicine‘ is interesting. Campbell describes the link to homeopathy and gives an insight into this practise.
“…Steiner’s medical ideas are rather similar to those of Hahnemann though they also derive from earlier sources, especially Paracelsus and the alchemists; Steiner placed much more emphasis on symbolism and occultism. Many Anthroposophical medicines are the same as those used in homeopathy but they are often given as mixtures instead of singly. The Hahnemannian method of potentization is sometimes used but Steiner also invented some more complicated procedures. For example, metals are often ‘vegetabilized’ by passage through a plant. A metal is added to the soil in which a plant is growing; next year the plant is composted and used to fertilize a second generation of plants, and the process is repeated for a third year. This is said to dynamize the metal very effectively, while the influence of the metal causes the plants to direct their action to a particular organ or system…”(p.81)
Anthroposophical Medicine is now accepted as one of the many therapeutic schools within homeopathy. This shows that far from mystical influences belonging to homeopathy’s past, they are a central part of its present. This is a difficult problem for any within the homeopathy community who may wish it to develop into a scientific community; or at least be seen by those on the outside as one.Campbell provides an insiders view of this problem.
“…There has long been an uneasy tension between those homeopaths who wish to make their subject wholly scientific and respectable, and those who have leanings towards the mystical or the occult. Today, naturally, the scientifically minded are in the ascendant; the talk is all of evidence-based medicine, double-blind trials, and the physics of water molecules. Yet there has always been, and still is, a movement within homeopathy (even medical homeopathy) in the opposite direction……Some homeopaths are drawn towards unconventional and unscientific means of selecting remedies, such as pendulum-swinging and other forms of dowsing. In this as in other respects, homeopathy harks back to its origins. We tend to think of Hahnemann as a nineteenth-century figure, but we forget that his formative years were spent in the eighteenth century. We don’t need to go much further back than that to reach a time when doctors routinely used astrology to help them make their diagnoses…”(pp. 81-82)
I think that there is a strong argument that whilst homeopathy may not be a conventionally religious community: it is a community with a strong mystical core.
Is Scientific Homeopathy Possible?
To move towards looking like a Kuhnian scientific community homeopathy would need to turn its collective back on its past (like physics has done with astrology and chemistry with alchemy); instead of harking back to it. What would this entail?
- Its occultist and mystic tendencies need to be expunged. The more ‘scientific’ homeopaths desperately need to cull the competing therapeutic schools.The practise of homeopathy needs to be bounded by both basic science and a high-quality evidence base. Proper respect for evidence and its methods of collection needs to pervade the discipline.Educational routes into homeopathy need to be fewer and degree based (or the equivalent). These need to teach solid science.Single national representative institutions need to emerge from the current morass. These should robustly and transparently police the practise and teaching of homeopathy.
Perhaps after this is done homeopathy vanishes entirely. Just maybe a worthwhile scientific discipline rises from the ashes of mysticism (perhaps it will look something like this). Until something very like it happens: homeopathy is mysticism, not science.So maybe Kuhn can provide a respectable structural model for homeopathy. However, at this time, it is a pipe-dream not a description. Until homeopaths learn the lessons of philosophy, rather than using it as an excuse for failure, this will not change.
Position Paper on Homeopathy
The (US) National Council Against Health Fraud
Homeopathy was devised by the German physician Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) as a reaction to practices based upon the ancient humoral theory which he labeled « allopathy. » The term has been misapplied to regular medicine ever since.
The cardinal principles of homeopathy include that (1) most diseases are caused by an infectious disorder called the psora (itch); (2) life is a spiritual force (vitalism) which directs the body’s healing; (3) remedies can be discerned by noting the symptoms that substances produce in overdose (proving), and applying them to conditions with similar symptoms in highly diluted doses (Law of Similia); (4) remedies become more effective with greater dilution (Law of Infinitesimals), and become more dilute when containers are tapped on the heel of the hand or a leather pad (potentizing).
Homeopathy’s principles have been refuted by the basic sciences of chemistry, physics, pharmacology, and pathology. Homeopathy meets the dictionary definitions of a sect and a cult–the characteristics of which prevent advances that would change Hahnemann’s original principles. Most homeopathic studies are of poor methodological quality, and are subject to bias. Homeopathic product labels do not provide sufficient information to judge their dosages. Although homeopathic remedies are generally thought to be nontoxic due to their high dilutions, some preparations have proved harmful. The ostensible value of homeopathic products can be more than a placebo effect because some products have contained effective amounts of standard medications or have been adulterated.
Only about half of the 300 homeopaths listed in the Directory of the National Center for Homeopathy are physicians. Others include naturopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, dentists, veterinarians, nurses or physician assistants. Homeopathy’s appeal lies in its personal attention to patients. Homeopathy is a magnet for untrustworthy practitioners who pose a threat to public safety. A perverse belief in the « healing crisis » causes practitioners to ignore adverse reactions, or to value them as « toxins being expelled. »
The marketing of homeopathic products and services fits the definition of quackery established by a United States House of Representatives committee which investigated the problem (i.e., the promotion of « medical schemes or remedies known to be false, or which are unproven, for a profit »). The United States Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act lists the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States as a recognized compendium, but this status was due to political influence, not scientific merit. The FDA has not required homeopathic products to meet the efficacy requirements applied to all other drugs, creating an unacceptable double standard for drug marketing. The Federal Trade Commission has not taken action against homeopathic product advertising although it clearly does not meet the standards of truthful advertising generally applied to drugs. Postal authorities have not prosecuted mail-order product promoters that make unproven claims for mail fraud. Three states have established homeopathic licensing boards. Some of these have been administered by medical mavericks with a history of difficulties with former medical licensing boards.
The NCAHF advises consumers not to buy homeopathic products or to patronize homeopathic practitioners. Basic scientists are urged to be proactive in opposing the marketing of homeopathic remedies because of conflicts with known physical laws. Those who study homeopathic remedies are warned to beware of deceptive practices in addition to applying sound research methodologies. State and federal regulatory agencies are urged to require homeopathic products to meet the same standards as regular drugs, and to take strong enforcement actions against violators, including the discipline of health professionals who practice homeopathy. States are urged to abolish homeopathic licensing boards.
OriginHomeopathy (derived from the Greek words homoios « similar » and pathos « suffering ») is a sectarian healing system devised by Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), a German physician who rejected the harsh medical practices of his era which included bleeding, purging, vomiting and the administration of highly toxic drugs.
Practices of the era were based on the ancient Greek humoral theory which attributed disease to an imbalance of four humors (blood, phlegm, and black and yellow bile) and four bodily conditions (hot, cold, wet, and dry) that corresponded to four elements (earth, air, fire, and water). Physicians attempted to balance the humors by treating symptoms with « opposites. » For instance, fever (hot) was believed to be due to excess blood because patients were flushed; therefore, balance was sought by blood-letting in order to « cool » the patient. Hahnemann dubbed such practices « allopathy » (allos « opposite, » pathos « suffering »), and sought to replace it with his « Law of Similia » that treated « like with like. »
Although medicine never accepted the label of allopathy, homeopaths continue to misrepresent physicians as allopaths to make their differences appear based upon conflicting ideologies rather than scientific pragmatism. Medical writers often refer to medical doctors as « allopaths » but their use of the term reflects an alternate definition of allopathy as « a system of medical practice making use of all measures proved of value (emphasis ours) in treatment of disease » (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary). This definition is inconsistent with its root words « allos » and « pathos. » Its duplicity aids those who wish to misrepresent medicine as ideologically allopathic (i.e., symptom suppression).
The Cardinal Principles of Homeopathy
The Psora and VitalismHahnemann believed that 7/8ths of all diseases are due to an infectious disorder called the Psora (itch). In the words of Hahnemann’s « Organon »: This Psora is the sole true and fundamental cause that produces all the other countless forms of disease, which, under the names of nervous debility, hysteria, hypochondriasis, insanity, melancholy, idiocy, madness, epilepsy, and spasms of all kinds, softening of the bones, or rickets, scoliosis and chophouses, caries, cancer, fungus haematodes, gout-asthma and suppuration of the lungs, megrim, deafness, cataract and amaurosis, paralysis, toss of sense, pains of every kind, etc., appear in our pathology as so many peculiar, distinct, and independent diseases (Stalker, 1985).
Hahnemann believed that diseases represent a disturbance in the body’s ability to heal itself and that only a small stimulus is needed to begin the healing process. He owed this to his faith in vitalism, which holds that life is a spiritual, nonmaterial process and that the body contains an innate wisdom that is its own healing force. A British homeopath explained its vitalism (Twentyman, 1982):
Hahnemann…is…a child of the modern age of natural science, an adept in the chemistry of his day… But he can still hold a conviction that an immaterial vital entity animates our organism until death when the purely chemical forces prevail and decompose it….This vital entity which he characterizes as immaterial, spirit-like, and which maintains in health the harmonious wholeness of the organism, is in fact the wholeness of it, can be influenced by dynamic causes. How does Hahnemann attempt to clarify the idea? He draws attention to phenomena like magnetic influences, the moon and the tides, infective illnesses and perhaps most importantly the influence of emotions and impulses of will on the organism (pp. 221-225).
Vitalism appeals to so-called « Holistic » or « New Age » medicine devotees, who prefer a metaphysical view of life processes, and readily accept homeopathy despite its scientific deficiencies.
Hahnemann’s invention of homeopathy is reported to have originated with an experience in which he ingested a substantial dose of cinchona bark (the source of quinine) used to treat malaria. He noted that the symptoms he experienced were similar to those of malaria. He reasoned that since the remedy produced symptoms in overdose similar to the condition it was used to treat, this principle, his Law of Similia, could be used to discern the value of various medicines. He called this process proving a medicine. Promoters often misrepresent homeopathy as treating the « causes » rather than merely the « symptoms » of disease, but its reliance on the « proving » of remedies shows that homeopathy itself relies solely upon a symptom treatment.
Hahnemann’s Law of Similia utilized the primitive view of monism that « nature is a unitary, organic whole with no independent parts » (Webster’s) with inherent principles that like is like, like makes like, and like cures like. Monism is the basis of many ancient practices (e.g., eating the heart of a lion for courage), and holds that if one object resembles another they are alike in essence (like is like); idolatry in which carving a likeness of a god actually produces the god (like makes like); and folk medicine practices such as snakeroot being good for snakebite, because of their resemblance (like cures like). Hahnemann revived Paracelsus’ Doctrine of Signatures, which declared that herbs would cure conditions or anatomical parts they resembled (Garrison, 1929, p. 206). The homeopathic Law of Similia, however, is unsupported by the basic sciences of physiology, pharmacology and pathology.
Hahnemann’s Law of Infinitesimals holds that the smaller the dose of a medication, the more powerful will be its healing effects. He taught that substances could be potentized (i.e., their « immaterial and spiritual powers » released to make active substances more active, and inactive substances active). The process of potentizing involved the sequential dilution of remedial agents by succussion in which initial mixtures would be shaken at least 40 times, nine parts dumped, and nine parts of solvent added and shaken again. This process was repeated as many times as desired. Tapping on a leather pad or the heel of the hand was alleged to double the dilution-a notion that contradicts the laws of physics. Remedies are diluted to powers of ten and labeled with combinations of Arabic and Roman numerals (e.g., 3X= 1/1000, 4X= 1/10,000, 3C or 6X= 1/1,000,000, etc.). The fact that 19th-Century homeopathic remedies were dilute placebos made them preferable to the harsh concoctions being applied by the humoral practitioners.
According to the laws of chemistry, there is a limit to the dilution that can be made without losing the original substance altogether. This limit, called Avogadro’s number (6.023 x 10-23) corresponds to homeopathic potencies of 12C or 24X (1 part in 1024). At this dilution there is less than a 50% chance that even one molecule of active material remains. Hahnemann himself realized that there was virtually no chance that any of the original substance remained at such high dilution, but explained it away in metaphysical terms. In addition to being contradicted by common sense, homeopathy’s Law of Infinitesimals is invalidated by pharmaceutical dose-response studies.
Promoters claim that immunization and allergy desensitization verify homeopathy because they treat like with like, but neither meets the additional requirements of homeopathic theory and practice. Immunizations do not alleviate symptoms or cure. Neither immunization nor allergy desensitization grows stronger with dilution, nor can they be « potentized. » Classical homeopaths proclaim that eating for relief of indigestion proved that like cures like, i.e., the Law of Similia. However, one does not obtain relief from indigestion by eating « potentized microdilutions » of the same food that was originally ingested. Other attempts to validate homeopathy such as the folksy value of « some of the hair of the dog that bit you » to relieve a hangover also fail to withstand close scrutiny.
Homeopathy and ScienceScientific medicine encompasses a collection of procedures, each of which must stand on its own as safe and effective for a specific purpose. History recounts examples of ancient healers doing the right thing for the wrong reason. Some bored holes in skulls (trephining) in order to liberate angry demons thought to be causing head pain, and in the process relieved intracranial pressure. This, however, does not validate the Demonic Theory. Also, foul-smelling swamps were drained on the basis of the miasmic theory, which taught that foul-smelling emanations from the Earth caused « bad air fever » (mal-air-ia). Further, Asclepian priests scraped spear shavings into the spear-wounds of warriors believing that the weapon that caused a wound would help in its healing (like-cures-like). Copper sulfate from the bronze spearheads may have inhibited infection. Just as doing these right practices for the wrong reasons did not validate the faulty theories upon which they were based, neither will the success of a « homeopathic » remedy comprehensively validate homeopathy’s theory, pharmacology, and metaphysics.
Homeopathy clearly fits Webster’s dictionary definitions of a cult: « A system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator, » and a sect: « a group adhering to a distinctive doctrine or a leader. » Healing cults or sects cannot progress and retain their identity. Homeopathy is what Hahnemann said it was. To progress scientifically homeopathy would have to accept principles of pharmacology and pathology, which run counter to its « laws » of similia and infinitesimals, its potency theory, and notions of the psora and vitalism. By doing so, it would no longer be homeopathy but biomedicine.
Controlled studies involving homeopathic remedies appear to divide along political lines. While the results of most studies do not support the use of homeopathic remedies, some ostensibly well-designed trials have yielded positive findings. Some of these, however, have been done by homeopaths, and their reports contain rhetoric that reflects bias strong enough to undermine confidence in the researchers’ veracity. The best of these studies should be repeated by objective investigators with independent analyses of the homeopathic formulations employed to assure that they have not been adulterated with active medications.
A comprehensive review of experimental research in homeopathy was done by Scofield (1984). He concluded: « It is obvious from this review that, despite much experimental and clinical work, there is only little evidence to suggest that homeopathy is effective. T his is because of bad design, execution, reporting, analysis and, particularly, failure to repeat promising experimental work and not necessarily because of the inefficacy of the system which has yet to be properly tested on a large enough scale. There is sufficient evidence to warrant the execution of well-designed, carefully controlled experiments. » Scofield’s most encouraging statement for homeopaths was that « homeopathy has most certainly not been disproved. » However, Scofield ignored the scientific process. It is the absence of proof, not the absence of disproof, that is important. This is consistent with scientific dicta (based upon the statistical null hypothesis) that (1) no practice can be deemed safe or effective until proved to be so; and (2) the burden of proof is upon proponents.
A more recent meta-analysis of 107 controlled homeopathy trials appearing in 96 published reports also found « the evidence of clinical trials is positive but not sufficient to draw definitive conclusions because most trials are of low methodological quality and because of the unknown role of publication bias. » They also concluded that there is a legitimate case for further evaluation of homeopathy, « but only by means of well-performed trials » (Kleijnen, 1991).
In 1988, a French scientist working at that country’s prestigious INSERM institute claimed to have found that high dilutions of substances in water left a « memory, » providing a rationale for homeopathy’s Law of Infinitesimals. His findings were published in a highly regarded science journal, but with the caveat that the findings were unbelievable, and that the work was financed by a large homeopathic drug manufacturer (Nature, 1988). Subsequent investigations, including those by James Randi, disclosed that the research had been inappropriately carried out. T he scandal resulted in the suspension of the scientist. Careful analysis of the study revealed that had the results been authentic, homeopathy would be more likely to worsen a patient’s condition than to heal, and that it would be impossible to predict the effect of the same dose from one time to another (Sampson, 1989).
The sectarian nature of homeopathy raises serious questions about the trustworthiness of homeopathic researchers. Scofield appropriately stated: « It is hardly surprising in view of the quality of much of the experimental work as well as its philosophical framework, that this system of medicine is not accepted by the medical and scientific community at large. » Two guiding rules required by skeptics of pseudoscience should be applied to homeopathic research, to wit: (1) extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence; and (2) it is not necessary to prove fraud, rather, the research must be done in such a manner that fraud is not possible.
Dubious LabelingRecent years have seen an explosion of products labeled as « homeopathic. » Among them are raw animal glands, herbal concoctions, and mineral remedies. Although some are reruns of old-time homeopathic preparations, others appear to be merely pretenders with high-dilution their only homeopathic feature. For instance. homeopathic raw bovine testicles may be highly diluted, but in order to be truly homeopathic they should have been « proved » and potentized. To have been proved, healthy people should have been fed raw bovine testicles in moderate doses and the side-effects analyzed. Gland products are not representative of the kinds of therapeutic substances homeopaths have traditionally attempted to « prove, » and it is unlikely that ingesting significant amounts of raw bovine testicles would produce any side effects. Such products appear to be intended to ward off regulatory enforcement action by merely labeling them « homeopathic, » but such products do not meet the basic consumer protection principle of accurate labeling. Standard drug labeling informs consumers about the quantity of active ingredients per dose; homeopathic labeling only informs consumers about the number of serial dilutions of the remedy.
Although homeopathic remedies are generally thought to be nontoxic due to their high dilutions, some preparations have proved to be harmful. Perverse belief in the « healing crisis » can cause pseudomedical practitioners to misjudge adverse reactions as beneficial. Healing crisis is the theory that the body innately knows what is best for it. There is a corollary belief that adverse reactions to « natural remedies » are due to « toxins » being expelled, and that the worse these are, the worse would have been future diseases if not detoxified. Thus, believers are not alarmed by adverse reactions, and are encouraged to continue treating. At the same time, « allopathic » medicine is denigrated as the « suppressing of symptoms that represent the body’s natural healing processes. »
Kerr and Yarborough (1986) reported a case of pancreatitis that developed in a patient ingesting a homeopathic remedy prescribed by a chiropractor. According to the authors, the manufacturer stated that 40-45% of persons taking the remedy experienced a healing crisis that included abdominal pain. Although classical homeopathy employed numerous extremely toxic substances in infinitesimal amounts, Kerr found that two of six homeopathic remedies ordered by mail contained « notable quantities » of arsenic. NCAHF doubts that homeopathic devotees would systematically report adverse effects.
Much has been made of the fact that a 24X dilution would no longer contain a single molecule of the original substance, and reported benefits are generally attributed to the placebo effect. However, many homeopathic dosages, although dilute, may contain enough of a substance to be effective.
Homeopathic products also may work because of adulteration. Morice (1986, pp. 862-863) reported that a homeopathic remedy called « Dumcap » appeared to be effective in treating asthma. Although labeled as containing « nux vomica » (strychnine), arsenic album (arsenic trioxide), Blatta onentalis (cockroach extract), and stramoni folic (stramonium), analysis revealed that the product was adulterated with therapeutic levels of the antiasthma, steroidal drugs prednisolone and betamethasone.
Studies of homeopathic remedies must be deemed unacceptable unless they have been monitored to assure that they were prepared according to homeopathic principles, their contents verified and dosage quantified, and secured to prevent tampering. As was stated above, simply labeling a product « homeopathic » does not guarantee that it does not contain a pharmacologically active dosage of an active substance (not all dilutions exceed Avogadro’s number).
To validate a specific homeopathic remedy, replication by others who have no vested interest in the results is required. To validate homeopathic theory, higher dilutions would also have to be shown to work better than higher concentrations. Thomas Paine, a signer of the United States’ Declaration of Independence, is credited with establishing a principle for judging supernatural phenomena. He asked, « Is it easier to believe that nature has gone out of her course or that a man would tell a lie? »
CensusThe 1993 directory of the National Center for Homeopathy (Alexandria, VA) lists about 300 licensed practitioners. About half of these are physicians. The rest are mostly naturopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, veterinarians, dentists, nurses, or physician’s assistants. A homeopathic marketing firm spokesperson believes that several hundred more consider themselves to be homeopaths, and that many conventional physicians utilize one or more homeopathic remedies (National Board of Chiropractic Examiners, 1993). However, no data have been published supporting these estimates. In 1991-2, 36.9% of chiropractors reported using homeopathic remedies in their practices.
Part of homeopathy’s appeal is the personal attention paid to patients (Avina and Schneiderman, 1978). In practice, classical homeopaths emphasize taking 30 to 45 minutes with each patient, paying careful attention to the emotional state and administering only one remedy at a time. Classical homeopathy’s close personal attention to patients, benign remedies, and special appeal to a select clientele make it seem innocuous if practitioners have the competence and good sense to recognize serious disorders and readily refer to other physicians. This, however, is not always the case.
Pseudosciences such as homeopathy, even if relatively benign, are magnets for cranks and charlatans. This poses a serious problem because untrustworthy or incompetent practitioners should not be granted the privilege of administering health care. True-believing cranks may pose a more serious threat than con men because of their devotion to homeopathy’s ideology. Their sincerity may make them more socially tolerable, but it can add to their potential danger. Irrational health care is never harmless, and it is irresponsible to create patient confidence in pseudomedicine. Although homeopathy may not pose a significant risk for a basically healthy patient, at some future time that same patient could face a situation where a life-or-death decision may swing on just such unwarranted confidence.
Some practitioners do not practice in homeopathy’s classical manner, but use its « benign » reputation as a cover. A well-documented example occurred in Nevada. According to an expose by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, several maverick MDs who had been in serious legal difficulty in other states descended on Nevada and managed to get the State Legislature to set up a homeopathic licensing board with themselves in charge. However, none was actually practicing homeopathy. Rather, using an unapproved electronic device they practiced « energy medicine. » When faced with the fact that they had deceived the State Legislature, proponents stated that they had used the more familiar term « homeopathy » because they feared that the legislators would not be able to grasp the new concept of « bioenergetics. » The Nevada legislature rewrote the homeopathic practice act in 1987, specifically stating that Nevada homeopaths were limited to using substances prepared according to « the methods of Hahnemannian dilution and succussion, magnetically energized geometric pattern as defined in the official homeopathic pharmacopeia of the United States » (Hayslett, 1987).
It is difficult to believe that a physician could simultaneously sustain confidence in both homeopathy and scientific health care. It is common for homeopaths to misrepresent regular medicine as misguided to justify their unusual practices. Of special concern to NCAHF is the substitution of homeopathic preparations for standard immunizations. In 1989, an Idaho naturopath was prosecuted for selling homeopathic « immunization kits, » which contained alcohol-and-water solutions and sugar pills. Defenders claimed that the homeopathic immunization products would « stimulate the immune system; » and that the FDA laboratory could not detect the active ingredients because they were so highly diluted with sugar.
NCAHF is primarily concerned with homeopathy in the marketplace. It believes that marketing unproven homeopathic products and services precisely fits the definition of quackery: « A quack is anyone who promotes medical schemes or remedies known to be false, or which are unproven, for a profit » (Quackery, 1984). Dr. Kenneth Milstead, then Deputy Director of the FDA Bureau of Enforcement, stated (Young, 1968):
It matters not whether the article is harmless or whether it gives some psychosomatic relief; whether it is cheap or whether it has value for other purposes; whether it is produced by an obscure firm or whether it is produced by a « reputable » firm-the promotion of it is still quackery.
Regulators Fiddle While Consumers Are Burned
Federal RegulationFor many years homeopathic product marketing was quiescent, but with the health fad boom of the 1970’s and 1980’s, promoters began touting homeopathic remedies. In 1985 the FDA estimated that between 50 and 60 companies were marketing such products in the United States (FDA, 1985).
The 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act contains a section that recognizes as « drugs » items listed in the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States. This was mainly due to the efforts of New York Senator Royal Copeland who was the foremost homeopathic physician of his day. In 1938, safety was the main issue, and the highly diluted homeopathic products seemed to pose no inherent danger. However, in 1962, the Kefauver-Harris Amendment was passed requiring that drugs be proved effective before distribution. A legal fight loomed as to whether or not homeopathic drugs were grandfathered by the law, but FDA did not press the issue. Instead, it permitted products aimed at common ailments to be marketed over-the-counter (OTC), and restricted those aimed at serious ailments to prescription only.
This « passed the buck » to the states that regulate the practitioners who write the prescriptions, putting consumers at the mercy of maverick homeopathic physicians. It also sent a signal to marketers that it was open season on consumers with regard to OTC homeopathic products. The resulting marketplace growth increased the ability of trade groups to gain political support and made future regulatory action more difficult. Homeopathic claims of efficacy are unsubstantiated and violate the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) advertising standards, but the FTC has not acted against homeopathic advertising claims. Homeopathic remedies sold or transported by mail are subject to action by the U.S. Postal Inspectors, but few such actions have been taken.
Only Arizona, Connecticut, and Nevada have separate homeopathic licensing boards. At least two of these have included in prominent roles maverick medical doctors who have been in legal difficulties as regular physicians. Some state licensing boards permit licensed medical doctors to practice almost any kind of medicine they wish. Others, rightly in NCAHF’s opinion, require that health care be held to rational and responsible standards. To its credit, the North Carolina Board of Medical Examiners revoked the license of the state’s only practicing homeopath, concluding that he was « failing to conform to the standards of acceptable and prevailing medical practice. » This resulted in a prolonged legal battle over the ability of a licensing board to impose standards of practice on its constituency. The state legislature eventually passed a law that limited the board’s disciplinary power undermining the consumer protection aspects of responsible medicine.
RecommendationsTo ConsumersBe aware that homeopathic products and services are marketed in a « buyer beware » situation at present. Homeopathic products are not required to meet the standards of effectiveness of drugs. Homeopathic services are poorly regulated. Physicians who practice homeopathy operate below the standards of responsible medicine. Some have backgrounds that raise serious questions about their honesty. Be aware that in some states that have homeopathic licensing boards the « foxes are guarding the chicken coops. » Consumers should not entrust their health to physicians or nonphysicians who practice homeopathy.
To Basic Scientists
Homeopathy conflicts more with basic laws of physics, chemistry and pharmacology than with clinical medicine. Pharmacologists should be more proactive in opposing the marketing of homeopathic remedies. Because homeopathic theories contradict known physical laws, tests of homeopathic remedies require controls beyond those normally required of double-blind clinical trials including additional measures to show that fraud was not possible.
To the U.S. Food & Drug Administration
(1) Require that labels of homeopathic products indicate the precise amounts of ingredients in milligrams, micrograms, etc. (2) Require homeopathic products to meet the efficacy standards of all other drugs.
To the U.S. Federal Trade Commission
(1) Review advertising of homeopathic products in publications aimed at the public for false and misleading claims. (2) Monitor and take action against advertisements in trade publications used to indoctrinate salespeople, who will in turn deceive consumers about the value of homeopathic products.
To U.S. Postal Inspectors
Prosecute distributors of homeopathic mail-order products that make unproven medical claims for mail fraud.
To State Legislators
Because homeopathy is scientifically indefensible: (1) Enact laws requiring that medical products sold within your state meet the standards of accurate labeling, truthful advertising, and premarketing proof of safety and effectiveness. (2) Abolish state licensing boards for homeopathy. (3) Do not allow homeopathy in the scope of practice of any health care provider.
To State Food & Drug Regulators
Take prompt regulatory action against manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers of homeopathic products who violate the law.
To Medical Licensing Boards
(1) Discipline homeopathic practitioners for unprofessional conduct. (2) Prosecute nonphysicians engaging in homeopathy for practicing medicine without a license.
Because homeopathy is scientifically indefensible: (1) Enact laws requiring that medical products sold within your state meet the standards of accurate labeling, truthful advertising, and premarketing proof of safety and effectiveness. (2) Abolish state licensing boards for homeopathy. (3) Do not allow homeopathy in the scope of practice of any health care provider.
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Homeopathy is witchcraft, say doctorsHomeopathy is « witchcraft » and the National Health Service should not pay for it, the British Medical Association has declared.
By Laura Donnelly, Health Correspondent. The Daily Telegraph – 15 May 2010
Hundreds of members of the BMA have passed a motion denouncing the use of the alternative medicine, saying taxpayers should not foot the bill for remedies with no scientific basis to support them. The BMA has previously expressed scepticism about homoeopathy, arguing that the rationing body, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence should examine the evidence base and make a definitive ruling about the use of the remedies in the NHS. Now, the annual conference of junior doctors has gone further, with a vote overwhelmingly supporting a blanket ban, and an end to all placements for trainee doctors which teach them homeopathic principles.
Dr Tom Dolphin, deputy chairman of the BMA’s junior doctors committee in England told the conference: « Homeopathy is witchcraft. It is a disgrace that nestling between the National Hospital for Neurology and Great Ormond Street [in London] there is a National Hospital for Homeopathy which is paid for by the NHS ». The alternative medicine, devised in the 18th century by the German physician Samuel Hahnemann, is based on a theory that substances which cause symptoms in a healthy person can, when vastly diluted, cure the same problems in a sick person.
Proponents say the resulting remedy retains a « memory » of the original ingredient – a concept dismissed by scientists. Latest figures show 54,000 patients are treated each year at four NHS homeopathic hospitals in London, Glasgow, Bristol and Liverpool, at an estimated cost of £4 million. A fifth hospital in Tunbridge Wells in Kent was forced to close last year when local NHS funders stopped paying for treatments.
Gordon Lehany, chairman of the BMA’s junior doctors committee in Scotland said it was wrong that some junior doctors were spending part of their training rotations in homeopathic hospitals, learning principles which had no place in science. He told the conference in London last weekend: « At a time when the NHS is struggling for cash we should be focusing on treatments that have proven benefit. If people wish to pay for homoeopathy that’s their choice but it shouldn’t be paid for on the NHS until there is evidence that it works. « The motion was supported by BMA Chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum, though it will only become official policy of the whole organisation if it is agreed by their full conference next month.
In February a report by MPs said the alternative medicine should not receive state funding. The Commons science and technology committee also said vials of the remedies should not be allowed to use phrases like « used to treat » in their marketing, as consumers might think there is clinical evidence that they work. In evidence to the committee, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain said there was no possible reason why such treatments, marketed by an industry worth £40 million in this country, could be effective scientifically.
Advocates of homoeopathy say even if the effect of the remedies is to work as a placebo, they are chosen by thousands of people, and do not carry the risks and side effects of many mainstream medicines. A survey carried out at England’s NHS homeopathic hospitals found 70 per cent of patients said they felt some improvement after undergoing treatment. Crystal Sumner, chief executive of the British Homeopathic Association (BHA), said attempts to stop the NHS funding alternative medicines ignored the views of the public, especially patients with chronic conditions.
She said: » Homeopathy helps thousands of people who are not helped by conventional care. We don’t want it to be a substitute for mainstream care, but when people are thinking about making cuts to funding, I think they need to consider public satisfaction, and see that homoeopathy has a place in medicine. » She said junior doctors’ calls for an end to any training placements based in homeopathic hospitals ignored the lessons alternative medicine could provide, in terms of how to diagnose patients.
Estimates on how much the NHS spends on homoeopathy vary. The BHA says the NHS spends about £4 million a year on homeopathic services, although the Department of Health says spending on the medicines themselves is just £152,000 a year. Two weeks ago, a charity founded by the Prince of Wales to promotes alternative medicines announced plans to shut down, days after a former senior official was arrested on suspicion of fraud and money laundering. The Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health said its plans to close had been brought forward as a result of a fraud investigation at the charity.
George Gray, a former chief executive of the organisation, and his wife Gillian were arrested by Scotland Yard officers last month in an early-morning raid on their home in North London.
Homeopathy – Woman faces negligence charges in connection with son’s death
By Sherri Zickefoose, Calgary Herald November 23, 2013
The family of a Calgary woman facing criminal charges in connection with the death of her seven-year-old son say they’re in shock over the allegations of neglect.
The boy, Ryan Alexander Lovett, died last March after suffering from a strep infection which kept him bedridden for 10 days. Police allege his mother, Tamara Lovett, 44, chose to treat the bacterial infection with homeopathic herbal remedies instead of taking him to a doctor.
That decision likely killed the child, police say. “It was a belief system in homeopathic medicine that contributed to this death,” acting Staff Sgt. Mike Cavilla said. “It should absolutely serve as a warning to other parents. The message is simple: if your child is sick, take them to the doctor.” The single mother, who lived in a Beltline basement suite, shunned conventional treatment to follow her belief in holistic remedies.
In fact, police say there is no record of the boy ever being taken to the doctor for annual checkups or any treatment. “We have no medical record of his entire life,” said Cavilla. But family members say the allegations of criminal negligence may be wrong. Grandfather Donn Lovett said the picture police were painting of his daughter relying on alternative remedies may not be accurate. “She devoted her life to that child. Ryan was beautiful, bright, happy and intelligent. “I had seen Ryan the week before he got sick. I was supposed to pick him up on Monday and she said he had the flu. But then she sent a message he was looking good on Wednesday or Thursday and might be in school the next day.”
Soon, the family was summoned the emergency room for news of the boy’s death. “His liver had been overwhelmed. The report given to me was that he died of flesh-eating disease,” said Lovett. The family had not been aware police suspected Ryan’s mother in the death, he said. “This was an absolute shock to us. It’s a shock to our whole family.”
Police say the woman’s friends were worried for the ailing child’s health and urged her to take him to the doctor. “According to people that saw the child prior to the death (he) looked very ill,” said Cavilla. The boy’s father is estranged and had no contact, police say. The woman has an older child with another man, but does not have custody.
Police say the woman called for help from her suite in the 900 block of 17th Avenue S.W. early March 2 fearing the young boy was suffering from a seizure. The child was later pronounced dead in hospital. An autopsy revealed he died as a result of a Group A Streptococcus infection. After consulting medical experts and the Crown prosecutor’s office, police arrested the woman at home Friday. She faces charges of criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessities of life.
In Canada, it is illegal for a parent or guardian to deny children food, shelter, care and medical attention necessary to sustain life and protection from harm. “If you do not provide medical attention for your sick child, you will be held accountable,” said Cavilla. “The legal requirement is that she get medical attention through traditional western medicine to deal with the illness. And in this case it was a bacterial infection that could have been easily treated with antibiotics such as penicillin.”
HOMOEOPATHY – DEVIL’S MAGIC!
by W. B. Howard. Editor of Despatch
The New Age alternative health treatments have been destroying the lives of countless people in Australia for well over a decade now – right in the Imagesstream of society. One would have imagined that Biblical Christians would have “twigged” to the deceptions by now, but such is not always the case. Still there are those of God’s children who are dabbling in the New Age treatments, which are spiritual poison to their souls. Consider this New Age treatment – HOMOEOPATHY.
WHERE DID IT COME FROM?
Homoeopathy is NOT just a simple medical treatment which utilises certain natural products, herbs and minerals, and brings these to the patient in small, scientific looking bottles. It is a magic art, very old indeed! Borrow from the library the book “The Illustrated Golden Bough” by Sir James George Frazer. There you will find details of the history of Homoeopathic magic, in depth. The basis of this nightmare treatment is:
1. It has been practised through the ages all over the world, and it was well known to sorcerers in ancient India, Babylon, Egypt, Greece. Rome and amazingly it is still used by pagan tribal people in Africa and Australia.
2. Basically Homoeopathy is Imitative Magic or Sympathetic Magic, the every same kind of demonic manipulation of occult power as Voodoo is! It has been used in many ways, an example from ancient Babylon could help here. In Babylon it was common practice to make an image out of some sort of soft material, clay, pitch, honey, fat, or some other substance, in the likeness of an enemy, and injure or kill him by burning, cutting, burying or beating it. This form of Homoeopathic magic is known as Voodoo.
3. Homoeopathy was a religious practise both in ancient Egypt and Babylon. In Babylon there were incantations said, with a long list of evil spirits whose effigies were burnt by the sorcerer. He hoped that, as their images were destroyed in the fire, so they also would just melt away and be seen no more. This was Homoeopathic magic.
4, Imitative magic was used to cure illness, as it is today. The ancient Hindus, for an example, would seek to cure jaundice by banishing the colour yellow to yellow creatures and yellow things, such as the sun. To procure for the patient a healthier red colour, they looked for a living, red source, namely a red bull.
5. The ancient sorcerer’s art of Homoeopathy works on the concept of “LIKE PRODUCES LIKE.” Over thousands of years priests in evil pagan ceremonies would recite spells to work homoeopathic magic and evil against enemies. Here is a hymn to break the power of Homoeopathic evil, from historical records.
A hymn to the fire-god Nuska, from Babylon: “Those who have made images of me, reproducing my features, Who have taken away my breath, torn my hairs, Who have rent my clothes, have hindered my feet from treading dust, May the fire-god, the strong one, break their charm.”
Here is a Homoeopathic spell from ancient India: “Up to the sun shall go thy heart-ache and thy jaundice: in the colour of the red bull do we envelope thee! We envelope thee in red tints, unto long life. May this person go unscathed and be free of yellow colour. The cows whose divinity is Rohini, they who, moreover, are themselves red (rohinih) – in their every form and every strength we do envelope thee….”
WHEN DID HOMOEOPATHY COME INTO “MODERN” USE?
The ancient art was developed as a system of medical treatment by Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), and it has had a huge revival in the holistic health treatments of the New Age. Homoeopathy came to Britain in approximately 1840. It was introduced by a Dr. Quinn.
Roy Livesey of the UK writes:
“Eventually the London Homoeopathic Hospital acquired its ‘Royal’ status. Sir John Weir was appointed personal physician and served four monarchs for forty-eight years until 1971. There is still a homoeopathic physician serving the Royal family today and most homoeopathic doctors are believed to acknowledge that the Royal family has helped to keep homoeopathy alive in Britain.”
WHY IS IT WRONG FOR CHRISTIANS TO USE IT?
HOW DOES IT WORK?
As we have already seen Homoeopathy is sorcery. Homoeopathy is a very odd treatment, a mixture of contrasting and “mysterious” elements. These elements could be summarised in this way: unknown energy concepts, cures brought about as if by magic, dealing with personality types (a sort of psychological analysis). The dilution of substances in the “like cures like” treatment, seems to bring the practitioner to the non-material essence – an “energy”, the “force”. THE LIFE FORCE of the New Age, which God has warned us about in Daniel 11:38. As with all New Age treatments, that is where the power comes from. The “force” is the pantheistic “god”. A few quotes will convince the reader of the truth of this statement, as cited in “Psychic Forces and Occult Shock” by Wilson and Weldon, :
Dr. Jacques Michaud describes the Homoeopathic “dilution process”: “Dilution means diminishing the quantity of the substance, according to a geometric progression, to the point where there are no more detectable molecules, and even beyond. But although there’s less and less matter as dilution increases, there’s more and more ENERGY. …As for succession, it consists in ENERGISING the bottle…” (emphasis added).
What is Michaud describing here?
A process which dilutes the herbs/ minerals until the non-material spiritual essence is left, the “force” of the New Age! This is what is the “cure” in homoeopathy.
Victor Margutti, M.D., writes: “ The basic factor in homoeopathy is not the use of small doses, as many unknowing people believe, but rather the use of qualitatively altered substance which are hence capable of efficacy in small amounts. …This may be likened to an ‘ENERGY TEMPLATE’ passing on its patterning long after the original embossing…”
Dr. Margutti, M.D., is quoted by Wilson and Weldon: “The concept of the ‘life force’ is predominant in both holistic health and homoeopathy. Margutti relates homoeopathy to Burr’s L-( for life) fields. Dr. Gray refers to a generalised life force that does the healing and states it has names – chi, prana, spirit. etc. He gives the force almost a god-like power, providing, of course, it is stimulated by homoeopathy. (In fact, non homoeopathic holistic health methods are essentially ineffective when dealing with chronic disease): ‘Homoeopathy is a very systematic method of prescribing single substances which powerfully stimulate the life force to heal whatever is wrong with a person. It is, of course, highly effective in acute ailments, even viral illnesses such as influenza and hepatitis…’” (p 234, “Psychic Forces and Occult Shock, by Wilson and Weldon, Global Pub.)
Christians should never submit to Homoeopathy treatments because these are occult magic, ancient Babylonianism revisited, and the treatments manipulate the FORCE or ENERGY of the supernatural world.
WHERE DOES THIS TREATMENT LEAD THE UNWARY?
Have YOU submitted yourselves to the occult magic of homoeopathy? This no light affair, and I suggest you deal with the matter immediately! This quote from Pacemakers by Andrew Fergusson, The Journal of the Nurses Christian Fellowship (Dec.1987) was cited in Roy Livesey’s book, p127: “ The author would submit that homoeopathy over-whelmingly fails the…five tests and, philosophically at least, must therefore be in no way from God but from the Devil who is a ‘liar and the father of all lies.’ (John 8:44). The author could no recommend any Christian to receive homoeopathic treatment or practise homoeopathic medicine, and believes that God is increasingly opening eyes to the pitfalls of this subject…”
There is really no rational scientific reason why Homoeopathy can often cure. The cure comes from the ancient arts forbidden by the Lord God Almighty (Jeremiah 27:9; Malachi 3:5; Deut.18:9-11), and therefore should be repented of as such. That severe abnormalities can develop in those who dabble in the black arts is documented by such Christian researchers as the well-known Dr. Kurt E. Koch. You may reply that no harm has come from Homoeopathy in your own life, but you are on dangerous ground and the future could well show a different story. At any rate, Christians should surely want to please the Lord God in every area of their lives, and Homoeopathic magic is not pleasing to God. Well, you might counter, I didn’t know! Well now you do.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Cut ties with the practise straight away, cancel any appointments made, tip out the bottles, get rid of papers or instructions to do with Homoeopathy. Renounce the Homoeopathic involvement before the Lord in prayer, and declare yourself free from Satan as you confess your sin to God. (1 John 1:9). Trust that the Blood of Christ Jesus and His victory on the Cross of Calvary has defeated all the works of the enemy. Take back all the ground given to the enemy, trusting in the finished work of Christ on the Cross alone. If you have drawn in any others to the magic of Homoeopathy, warn them with apology.( 1 John 4:1). Put confidence in the promises of God as in James 4:7. Jesus Christ has already conquered all the demonic powers of Satan, 1 John 3:8; 11 Cor. 2:14. Declare the Victory is yours, and do not allow the Devil to oppress you – Christ has made an end to the tyrannical rule of Satan. Praise God!
Books recommended further study:
“More Understanding Alternative Medicines”, by Roy Livesey, New Wine Press;
“Psychic Forces and Occult Shock”, by Wilson and Weldon, Global Pub.; & For New Age medicines (not Homoeopathy) “New Age Medicine », by Paul C. Reisser, M.D., Teri K. Reisser and John Weldon.)
Is Homeopathy « New Science » or « New Age »?
Mahlon W. Wagner, Ph.D.Homeopathy has existed for about 200 years, yet reports in the media have suggested that homeopathy is the medicine of the future. Today, homeopathy is found in almost every country. In Europe, 40% of French physicians use homeopathy; 40% of Dutch, 37% of British, and 20% of German physicians use homeopathy . In the United States, hundreds of thousands of people take homeopathic remedies each year. Indeed, homeopathy seems to be becoming more popular.
Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician, developed homeopathy in about 1796. He was dissatisfied with the conventional medicine of his time. The accepted medical remedies at that time were often dangerous for the patient. There was a joke that more people died of medical treatment than from the disease itself.Hahnemann laid out two principles of his homeopathy. First, he said that « like cures like » (Similia similibus curentur). This meant that a substance that produces certain symptoms in a healthy person can be used to cure similar symptoms in a sick person.
Second, Hahnemann asserted that smaller and smaller doses of the remedy would be even more effective. (In a way, perhaps this was a good idea because some of Hahnemann’s remedies were poisonous.) So Hahnemann used more and more extreme dilutions of the remedies. In a process he named « potentization, » Hahnemann would take an original natural substance and often dilute it 1-to-99 (called « C1 »). A second dilution of 1-to-99 would be called « C2. » Between each dilution, the remedy must be vigorously shaken. This shaking, or succussion, supposedly released the healing energy of the remedy. This healing energy has never been adequately defined nor measured.
Hahnemann found C30 dilutions to be quite effective. For Hahnemann, these very high dilutions presented no problem. He did not believe in atoms, and he thought that matter could be divided endlessly. Today we know that any dilution greater than C12 is unlikely to contain even one single molecule of the remedy. Sometimes Hahnemann diluted a substance 1-to-9 (called « D1 »). In this case any dilution of D24 or greater would also not likely contain any molecules of the remedy.
Homeopathy claims to use only « natural » substances. This is an attempt to contrast itself with conventional medicine. For example, homeopathic remedies include raw bovine testicles, crushed honey bees (Apis mellifica), Belladonna (deadly nightshade), cadmium, sulfur, poison nut (Nux vomica), hemlock (Conium), silica (Silicea), monkshood (Aconite), salt (Natrium mur), mountain daisy (Arnica), venom of the Bushmaster snake (Lachesis), arsenic (Arsenicum album), Spanish fly (Cantharis), rattlesnake venom (Crotalus horridus), Ipecac (Ipecacuahna), dog milk (Lac canidum), poison ivy (Rhus toxicodendron), and more. Some of these substances are quite harmless, but others can be toxic (especially at D4 and lower dilutions).How did Hahnemann know that a remedy was appropriate for a particular disease (actually for a particular symptom)? Hahnemann and his students tested remedies on themselves. They would eat various plant, animal, and mineral substances and carefully observe what symptoms occurred. This is called « proving. » These reactions (or symptoms) were collected together into a book Materia Medica. For example, one of the symptoms of Pulsatilla (windflower) is « An unpleasant message makes him deeply sad and depressed after 20 hours. » During provings, the people knew which substance they were taking. This is a problem because one might anticipate a certain reaction or exaggerate some symptom.
Today, in modern science, we try to prevent this bias by not letting the person know what he or she is taking — a « test-blind » procedure. When evaluating symptoms, it is also important that the researcher does not know which remedy is being tested (a double-blind procedure) because the researcher can also be biased.
One recent German study  did compare a remedy (Belladonna C30) to a placebo. Those who received the placebo reported even more symptoms than those who received the remedy. The symptoms reported included minor aches and pains in various parts of the body. Did the patient mistakenly assume that a normal ache or pain must be related to the remedy? It is possible that the ache or pain was the result of a confounding factor such as not enough sleep.
As we can see, homeopathy is not concerned with the disease. It concentrates on the symptoms reported by the patient. Homeopathy then matches these symptoms to those symptoms that a remedy causes in a healthy person. By contrast, scientific bio-medicine uses symptoms to identify the disease and then treats the disease itself.
There are two points of view about homeopathy that are in conflict. One viewpoint says that homeopathy should not attempt to meet the rigorous requirements of scientific medicine. It is sufficient that there have been millions of satisfied patients during the last 200 years. Science is not relevant anyway because it rejects the concept of the energy of the « vital force » which is essential to homeopathy. This vital force is identical to the concept of vitalism — a primitive concept used to explain health and disease. And, besides, scientific medicine is unfairly prejudiced and biased against homeopathy. Dana Ullman , a leading spokesman for American homeopathy, says that personal experience is much more convincing than any experiments. The emphasis on experience shows that most people simply do not understand that good science, based upon experiments, is essential to the development of knowledge.The second viewpoint is that scientific research is necessary if homeopathy is to be accepted by medicine and society. In the past 15 years many experimental studies have been done to examine homeopathic remedies. Two reviews of homeopathy are perhaps the best known.
J. Kleinjen, P. Knipschild, and G. ter Riet examined 107 controlled clinical trials of homeopathy. They concluded that the evidence was not sufficient to support the claims of homeopathy. C. Hill and F. Doyon  examined 40 other clinical studies. They also concluded that there was no acceptable evidence that homeopathy is effective. Since the above reviews were written, four more research studies have appeared.
In 1992 the homeopathic treatment of plantar warts (on the feet) was examined . The homeopathic treatment was no more effective than a placebo.
A report in May 1994 examined the homeopathic treatment of diarrhea in children who lived in Nicaragua . On Day 3 of treatment the homeopathic group had one less unformed stool than the control group (3.1 Vs 2.1; p <.05). However, critics  pointed out that not only were the sickest children excluded, but there were no significant differences on Days 1, 2, 4, or 5. This suggests that the conclusion was not valid. Further, there was no assurance that the homeopathic remedy was not adulterated (contaminated). Finally, standard remedies which halt diarrhea were not used for comparison purposes.
In November 1994 a research report examined the effects of homeopathic remedies in children with upper respiratory infections (such as a cold) . Eighty-four children received the placebo, and 86 received individualized homeopathic remedies. The researchers concluded that the remedies produced no improvement in symptoms or in the infections.
In December 1994 a fourth study examined homeopathic treatment of allergic asthma in Scotland . The 13 patients who received the homeopathic remedy reported feeling better and breathing easier than the 15 patients who received the placebo. Then the researchers combined these data with several earlier experiments. They concluded that, in general, homeopathy is not a placebo and that homeopathy is reproducible.
However, there were too few patients for significant analysis. Second, personal reports of feeling better are not reliable. If a patient feels better, is that proof of recovering from the ailment? There are many diseases in which the patient feels good but is actually quite sick. What is needed are several proper physiological measurements of improvement. Third, it is inappropriate to combine this small study with previous studies of a different disorder.
The latest study from Norway  examined relief from the pain of tooth extraction/oral surgery by homeopathic remedies or placebos. Fourteen of the 24 subjects were students of homeopathy, and 2 of the 5 authors were homeopaths. It is safe to say that motivation was high to have homeopathy succeed. However, no positive evidence was found favoring homeopathy, either in relief of pain or inflammation of tissue.
The reader may ask why so much attention has been given to the scientific research when supporters of homeopathy reject the relevance of clinical trials to establish its validity. But the same people also claim that the 1991 review, and the Nicaragua and the Scotland studies are proof that homeopathy does indeed work. It is important to realize that all of the research that seems to support homeopathy is seriously flawed. The only conclusion that is justified at this time is that research has not conclusively shown that homeopathic remedies are effective.
What answer can be given to someone who says he took a remedy and it worked? Most people do not realize that in time most conditions will get better even if nothing is done. As the saying goes, « A cold will get better in 14 long days without treatment, but will get better in only two short weeks with medication. » A wise medical doctor will say not to worry, that medication won’t help much. (By the way, has anyone ever heard of a homeopath telling a patient that they need not worry and that the sickness will go away by itself?) When someone says the homeopathic remedy cured them, we can ask: « Would one have been cured just as quickly if nothing had been done? »Another factor to consider is the « placebo effect. » This means that if people « believe » that they are being properly treated, they will perceive themselves getting better faster. Recent research shows that up to 70% of medical/surgical patients will report good results from techniques that we know today are ineffective . (At the time of the treatment, both the patient and the physician were convinced that the treatment was effective.)
Since 1842, homeopaths have argued that the placebo argument is irrelevant because children and animals are helped by homeopathic remedies. But children and animals respond to suggestion when researchers and often the parents and pet owners are aware that a remedy has been given.
Supporters also claim that there are no risks from homeopathic treatment. They say that the ultra dilute remedies are safer and cheaper than most prescription drugs. First, it has been shown that several homeopathic remedies for asthma actually were contaminated with large amounts of artificial steroids. Second, some remedies do contain measurable amounts of the critical substance. If a patient takes 4 tablets daily of mercury (D4), he would receive a potentially toxic dose. And a dose of D6 cadmium exceeds the safe limits. Finally, a D6 or less dose of Aristolochia contains significant amounts of this cancer-causing herb. Therefore, we cannot easily and quickly claim that homeopathic remedies are always safe.
There is an additional risk of seeking homeopathic treatment. If someone is ill and requires immediate medical treatment, any delay could have serious consequences. This is the risk that is present with all alternative medical care.
Advocates of homeopathy often assert that using dilute remedies is similar to vaccinations. After all, vaccinations also use very dilute substances. Once again, homeopathy is trying to obtain respectability by showing that conventional medicine uses similar procedures. This is misleading for several reasons. First, vaccinations are used to prevent disease. Once one is sick and has symptoms, a vaccination will not help. The homeopathic remedy is given only after one is already sick. Vaccinations use similar or identical weakened microorganisms, but homeopathy is concerned with similar symptoms of illness. And last, many homeopathic remedies use D24 or C12 dilutions where none of the substance remains. Vaccinations on the other hand must contain a measurable amount of the microorganism or its protein.
Sometimes we can learn much about a topic by examining who or what it associates with. In the first 100 years, homeopathy was closely associated with many pseudosciences including Mesmerism and phrenology. In the United States, many early homeopaths were members of the mystical cult of Swedenborgianism.Unfortunately, this has not changed today. Especially in the United States, chiropractic (spinal manipulation therapy) and applied kinesiology use homeopathic remedies. Many homeopaths use iridology, reflexology, dowsing, and electrodiagnosis. None of these methods has scientific validity. In America, if you want to learn more about homeopathy, the best place to go is to any New Age bookstore or meeting place.
Another connection of homeopathy with the New Age movement is found in the emphasis upon some mystical energy (called the « vital force ») which, though unquantifiable, supposedly permeates the universe and is responsible for healing. Fritjof Capra and Deepak Chopra claim that the mysteries of quantum physics support this « healing energy » concept. But Victor Stenger  has shown that all of modern physics (including quantum physics) remains materialistic and reductionistic and offers no support for the mysterious energy supposedly present in potentized homeopathic remedies at dilutions of C12 or greater.
Is Homeopathy Quackery?
In the United States, we have a motto: « If it walks like a duck, and looks like a duck, and sounds like a duck, then it probably is a duck. » To what extent does homeopathy look like quackery and sound like quackery?One clear link that homeopathy has to quackery is its supporters’ use of faulty logic. The first example is known as the « test of time » argument — the fact that homeopathy has existed for a long time shows that it is valid. But longevity does not guarantee validity. Astrology, numerology, and dowsing have been around for a long time, but they are clear examples of pseudoscience. Longevity of an idea is never a good substitute for rigorous science.
The second argument is that many people have tried homeopathic remedies and are all satisfied, so homeopathy must be legitimate. Along the same lines, we are told that the following famous and important people all supported homeopathy: The British royal family, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Mark Twain, O. J. Simpson, Yehudi Menuhin, Angela Lansbury, and Mary Baker Eddy (founder of Christian Science). The Chinese have a saying that if a thousand people say something foolish, it is still foolish. Also a majority vote is no substitute for good science. In addition, we usually hear only about the successes, but the failures are conveniently forgotten or ignored.
A third argument is the « non sequitur. » Typically, the crackpot says: « They laughed at Galileo, and he was right. Today they laugh at me; therefore I must be right. » (Actually Galileo was not laughed at. Rather he was persecuted because he was devoid of a proper Christian faith to accept the correct dogma.) Homeopaths say that throughout history many great geniuses have rebelled against the prevailing wisdom; many of these were ultimately recognized as correct. Paracelsus, William Harvey, Louis Pasteur, and Joseph Lister were vindicated by history. Therefore, it is argued, Samuel Hahnemann and homeopathy also will ultimately be recognized as correct. But this argument forgets that many more who claimed to be geniuses were correctly rejected.
In the spirit of fair-mindedness, one may be tempted to give homeopathy the benefit of the doubt and simply conclude « not yet proven. » However, what then are we to do when many lay practitioners report that merely writing the name of the remedy on a piece of paper, and putting this on the body of the patient results in a « cure. » Even two respected national spokesmen were unwilling to reject these reports, and one of them suggested that quantum physics may ultimately explain these healings as well as those reported by patients who are given the remedy over the phone.
We must conclude that homeopathy certainly sounds like quackery.
Homeopathy in the United States
Before 1920, homeopathy was extremely popular in the United States. There were many homeopathic hospitals and medical colleges. But then conventional medicine established more rigorous standards for training students. In addition, pharmacology and the discovery of many useful drugs happened at the same time. Today in the United States, only about 500 of more than 600,000 physicians use homeopathic remedies.However, many scientists are concerned because the popularity of homeopathy is increasing. Today almost anyone can buy homeopathic remedies without a prescription. This is because in 1938 a homeopath who also was a powerful politician (Royal Copeland, MD) was able to have a law passed that made homeopathic remedies exempt from all drug regulation. So homeopathic remedies do not have to be proved effective, as all other drugs must be. In addition, many unlicensed and untrained people can give homeopathic remedies to anyone who asks for them. Both German and French homeopathic companies recognize the large potential American market for their remedies. Sales of remedies are growing by 30% a year, and most remedies are sold in New Age and related natural health-food stores. Therefore, there is no control over the quality of homeopathic treatment received by patients; nor is there control over the quality or purity of the remedies.
Why Do People Accept Homeopathy?
Perhaps there are really two different questions here. The first question relates to the New Age in general. The second question relates to many alternative medicines as well as homeopathy.Why do people read their horoscopes? Why do people believe in good luck and bad luck? Why do people ask a dowser for help? Why do people visit fortune-tellers? People who do these things want to know about the future, to avoid uncertainty, and to take control of their lives. For many people the uncertainty in life is unbearable. These people want explanations that they can understand. Modern science has become so complex that many people turn away in frustration. It is unfortunate that most people throughout the world do not understand what science is and what science does. For example, how many people can explain why it is warmer in the summer than in the winter? (Only 2 of 23 recent Harvard graduates could mention the tilt of the earth’s axis.) Or how many people understand the basic ideas of biological evolution? A survey by the National Science Foundation in May 1966 reported that 48% of American adults believe that humans and dinosaurs coexisted, and only 47% knew that it takes one year for the earth to go around the sun. This scientific illiteracy, due in part to the shortcomings in our education systems, makes it easy for pseudoscience and superstition to succeed.
Why do people turn to homeopathy and other « alternative » medicines? Many people are dissatisfied with conventional medicine. They distrust physicians who may prescribe expensive drugs or painful surgery. Often physicians can find nothing wrong with the patient. Or else they tell the patient that time alone will cure the ailment. And, of course, physicians often cannot spend much time talking with the patient because they have too many patients to see that day. If the physician finds nothing wrong, this may offend the patient because it suggests that the cause is psychosomatic. The patient who wants to be cured and to be cured immediately is upset when the physician says that time alone will cure the problem. The patient may also be unhappy if the physician doesn’t give some medication.
An initial visit to a homeopath can often take more than one hour. Patients are encouraged to talk about all of their cares, concerns, and pains. Patients may be asked whether they like oranges or apples; what kinds of music they enjoy; whether they sleep on their back or on their side.
Later the homeopath tells a patient that because he is a unique individual, the remedy will also be individualized for that patient alone. Thus, homeopathy is seductive to both the patient and the physician. The patient and physician become partners in fighting the illness. The homeopath is seen as a concerned and sympathetic health-care giver.
It must be concluded that by every objective, rational, and medical standard, homeopathy has failed to establish its scientific credibility. Homeopathy has not cast off the many characteristics of pseudoscience and quackery. How can conventional medicine, science, and patients respond to this challenge?The problem of scientific illiteracy must be acknowledged. For example, if people understood the influence of suggestion and the placebo effect more clearly, homeopathy’s attraction might diminish.
Intelligent people can encourage others to think more critically. Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. A miracle means a violation of the laws of nature. A miracle cure probably is not a miracle at all. If something seems too amazing to be true, it probably isn’t true. We must demand that the claims of diagnosis and cure be supported with good evidence. To paraphrase another American motto: « The only thing necessary for quackery to succeed is for intelligent people to do nothing. »
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THE SECRETIVE HAHNEMANN AND THE ESOTERIC ROOTS OF HOMEOPATHY
by Peter Morrell (homeopathic historian)
Plato is absorbed into the realm of pure Ideas, 7 Dec 2001 – Peter Morrell
The Secretive Hahnemann and the Esoteric Roots of Homeopathy
« Not a single founder or follower of any of the medical systems could or…would dare to carry out his system faithfully and vigorously into practice, without doing the greatest injury to patients. » [Lesser Writings, 1808, 497]
« In an eight years’ practice, pursued with conscientious attention, I had learned the delusive nature of the ordinary methods of treatment, and from sad experience I knew right well how far the methods of Sydenham, and Frederick Hoffmann, of Boerhaave and Gaubius, of Stoll, Quarin, Cullen, and De Haan were capable of curing. » [Lesser Writings, 513]
« [In 1777] he carefully catalogued Baron von Brukenthal’s immense library of books and rare manuscripts. It was during the quiet, scholarly days, in the secluded library at Hermannstadt [Sibiu], that he acquired that extensive and diverse knowledge of ancient literature, and of occult sciences, of which he afterwards proved himself the master, and with which he astonished the scientific world. » [Bradford, 28]
____________________________________________This essay explores why Hahnemann left only scant hints about where he obtained his medical ideas and what major historical influences impinged upon his formulation of homeopathy.
To summarise Hahnemann’s life in the early 1780s would be a compelling and very worthwhile task, primarily because it was undoubtedly the major turning point in his life, and from which sprang his burning desire to reform medicine and so become, like Paracelsus before him, a « medical Luther, » [Temkin, 16]. Despondent is not really a word strong enough to describe how he felt at that point in time, about to abandon in disgust, as he was, the practice of medicine [Dresden, 1784 – Bradford, 36-7], which had been his life’s love and ambition and into which he had poured all his energy, his life and his soul.
Yet, even this summary does not really convey the true extent of his problems. Having been trained in the medicine of the day, he had applied himself most diligently to its practice at the bedside, only to be rewarded by severe disappointment at every turn by a system that seemed to be utterly useless, unpredictable and downright harmful to patients.
How could any honest man of conscience and good moral character such as he, hold his head high and look his fellow in the eye armed only with such a desultory, damaging and inefficacious tool to treat the sick? He just could not stomach what to him amounted to a form of deceit against his fellow human beings. He was temperamentally quite unsuited to deceive his patients and ‘calm their fears’ when he knew full-well that most treatments on offer were useless: « …he was not more clumsy or stupid than other doctors; he simply lacked that power to shuffle off responsibility which enabled them to face every failure, » [Gumpert, 43]. His conscience for those who entrusted themselves to his care « was more and more troubled, » [Haehl, I, 267]. Having married in Dec 1782 [Bradford, 36] and his first child [Henriette] having been born in 1783 in Gommern [Haehl, I, 30], he could not bring himself to ‘bleed and purge’ his own dear children: « But children were born to me, several children, and in course of time serious diseases occurred, which, because they afflicted and endangered the lives of my children – my flesh and blood – caused my conscience to reproach me still more loudly, that I had no means on which I could rely for affording them relief. » [Lesser Writings, 512] It is probably true to say that quite apart from concern for his growing family, Hahnemann had four great forces gestating inside him at that time, struggling for power and dominance in his thinking and comprising the main elements of his dilemma. The first force was his training in Old Physic, with which he was by now so bitterly disenchanted because of its woeful inadequacy as a medical system [Haehl, I, 22, 40; Bradford, 42].
Samuel von Brukenthal
The second force was the esoteric tradition of arcane medicine and mysticism, parts of which he had undoubtedly glimpsed in his studies in Sibiu [Hermannstadt] in 1777-9 with Baron Samuel von Brukenthal [1721-1803; http://www.homeoint.org/photo/b/brukenth.htm], the rich Patron who had saved him from ruin by paying for his last year of study to gain his MD at Erlangen, and who had initiated him into the Freemasons in October 1777 [Bradford, 27] only three days after his arrival in Transylvania [Haehl, I, 22]. Apart from acting as his physician, he also repaid his debt to Brukenthal by cataloguing his library [websites: http://www.verena.ro/brukenthal/library.htm and http://www.cimec.ro/Carte/brukenthal/biblioteca.htm – latter in Romanian] over the best part of two years.
We read in Haehl, that while in Sibiu, Hahnemann « spent most of his time arranging his patron’s extensive private library, » [Haehl, I, 23], which « counts about 280,000 books; the most precious collection is represented by the 386 incunabula (Thoma de Aquino, Opus praeclarum quarti Scripti, Mainz, 1469; Breviarum croaticum, 1493; Petrarca, Triomphi, 1488; Schedel’s Chronicals (2,000 woodcut illustrations), Nürnberg, 1493; De mirabilibus mundi by Solinus C. Iulius, printed in Venice in 1488; Strabo’s Geography, Rome, 1473; Pliniu the Older’s Natural History, Venice, 1498; Boccacio’s and Petrarca’s works and so on). » [from the above website]
Jean Pharamond Rhumelius
Dr Michael Neagu, in his history of homoeopathy in Rumania [Geschichte der Homöopathie in Rumänien, 1995], discusses the significance of the position Hahnemann took as cataloguist to the library of Brukenthal at Sibiu [north-west of Bucharest], because the library contains a large collection of original works by mediaeval alchemists and physicians, including, for example, the ‘Medicina Spagyrica Tripartita’ (1648) of Jean Pharamond Rhumelius [c1600-c1660], which Neagu describes as « a fundamental esoteric work, relying on the principle of ‘similia similibus curentur’, » [Neagu, 25; Dinges, 259]. This otherwise forgotten yet important aspect of influences upon the early Hahnemann, is also discussed in Haehl, 1922, [I, 11 & 21-24, & II, 9-10].
John Martin Honigburger
Neagu’s main point is that Hahnemann could hardly have failed to be inspired by the contents of that Library and probably picked up some therapeutic ideas while there, if only unconsciously. Neagu goes on to add that one of Hahnemann’s direct disciples, Honigberger [1794-1869], « was a speaker of the Rumanian language and had practised homoeopathy in all three Romanian principiates, » [Neagu, 25]. Although this does not conclusively prove that Hahnemann read these works, had any interest in them or obtained ideas from them, yet it does match other aspects about him, as explored here, touching as it does upon an unresolved problem about the origins of homoeopathy, which Hahnemann himself was consistently unwilling to discuss.
The third force that pushed him on was undoubtedly science and experimentation, with which, as a means of proof and to dispel superstition, he was deeply enchanted. Having a strong experimental bent himself and a yearning to dabble in chemistry, he greatly admired figures like Priestley [1733-1804], Lavoisier [1743-94] [Haehl, I, 32; Bradford, 38] and Berzelius [1779-1848; Dudgeon, xxi]. »But the sole consolation of Hahnemann’s existence in Dessau [1779-83] was his daily visit to the apothecary, Häesler, in whose laboratory he could continue his study of chemistry. » [Gumpert, 26]
« The time he spent in Dessau afforded him a welcome opportunity of pursuing his chemical research in the laboratory of the Moor Apothecary Shop — work which was so significant for his pioneer activities in medicine. » [Haehl, I, 265]
« Hahnemann devoted himself entirely to chemistry and writing, according to his own admission. He puts chemistry first. In this science he was self-taught. He had never received any definite course of instruction in the subject or possessed a laboratory except during his stay in Dessau (1781), where he had found a suitable place in the Moor Apothecary Shop for his experiments and probably also an occasional tutor in the person of the Apothecary Häesler. » [Haehl, I, 268]However, this chemical interest could also be interpreted as a means for him to test some of the alchemical insights he had derived from secret study of arcane medical texts. Consider, for example, Hepar sulph and Causticum that require overtly alchemical procedures like calcination and distillation for their preparation [Chronic Diseases, I, 559, 762; Bradford, 152]. It does not seem unreasonable to suppose that he acquired some practical experience and instruction in alchemy from Häesler.
Finally, the fourth great force at work in him, and which dominated his thinking at this time of crisis, was his study of the medical past through his great skill as a linguist and as the translator of diverse scientific and medical treatises from Latin, French, and English into the German language: « [In 1784]…he translated Demarchy’s ‘The Art of Manufacturing Chemical Products’ from the French. It was an elaborate work in two volumes, to which he made numerous additions of his own. » [Gumpert, 34]. Yet, Hahnemann, « driven by his own inward dissatisfaction, eked out only a scanty living by means of translations, » [Haehl, I, 262]. As a measure of his great energy, he « published during this period [1790-1805] over 5,500 printed pages – original work, essays in medical journals, and translations, among these were works of fundamental importance, which deserve special attention, » [Haehl, I, 48]. During the period from 1777 to 1806, he translated 24 texts from other languages into German. All but six of these translations were made during the 1780’s and 1790’s, when he was conducting various chemical experiments.
Recognising « the insufficiency of medical science, » [Haehl, I, 33], and « disgusted with the errors and uncertainties of the prevalent methods of medical practice, » [Bradford, 36], it was probably his « growing disgust for the medical fallacies of the day, » [Bradford, 43], and while « searching for some reliable basis upon which to resume practice, » [Coulter, II, 311], that forced Hahnemann back within himself to study the medical past and to reconsider some of those strange medical ideas which he had first encountered in von Brukenthal’s great library in Sibiu – allegedly the greatest collection of arcane medical texts in Europe. [Neagu, and website], and study of which had made him « master of occult sciences, » [Bradford, 28]. How else can we explain his behaviour? When the tried and tested has failed us, then we cast around within the sphere of the known, and even into the sphere of the unknown, to find a replacement set of ideas and methods. This is by no means an unreasonable viewpoint, and explains much. »After I had discovered the weakness and errors of my teachers and books, I sank into a state of sorrowful indignation, which had nearly altogether disgusted me with the study of medicine. » [Opening lines of Aesculapius in the Balance, 1805, in Lesser Writings, 410, Jain Edition]In essence, circumstance forces anyone who has lost everything to reconsider in greater depth those things they had previously and perhaps impulsively cast aside as useless. Discovering the abject failure of orthodoxy, and being rendered bereft of any medical philosophy at all, must have inspired Hahnemann to reinvestigate the old systems with a fresh and more attentive spirit. He was thus impelled to indulge the other three passions to a much greater extent: reading and translating, conducting chemical experiments and reviewing those ideas and methods from the arcane world.
In somewhat wearily embarking upon this new path, prepared for him by Destiny and « his conscience, » [Bradford, 36; Haehl, I, 47], Hahnemann must soon have found himself the inheritor of a range of complex problems issuing from the medical past, which prevented him from taking up medical practice. These also barred his way to further progress because they were simply unsolved riddles, age-old problems that each of his illustrious predecessors had failed fully to solve: such fundamental matters as similars vs. contraries; mixed vs. single drugs; large or small doses; vitalism vs. mechanism. In his reading, Hahnemann soon laid bare a complex web of contrasting opinions amounting to a veritable war-zone of debate. Sydenham [1624-89], Hoffmann [1660-1742] and Boerhaave [1668-1738], had their views, which, though rising to prominence in the 17th and 18th centuries, did not enjoy universal acceptance by all the medical profession. They represented the ascending mechanical and materialist school, which portrayed the body as little more than a machine.
This age of medicine can be seen as an age dominated by the machine. Just as the first sciences were concerned with mechanics, the laws governing the movement of physical objects, so too in the 1500s and 1600s the main focus is upon the physical body itself, its dissection, drawings of the organs and the machine-like conception of blood flow, the mechanics of muscle action and the pneumatic principles of breathing. The anatomical work of Harvey [1578-1657] and Vesalius [1514-64], Boyle’s work on gases, and the drawings by Leonardo [1452-1519] are therefore very typical advances of this period. We might realistically conceive these advances to be the ‘medical analogues’ of the machine cosmology of Newton [1642-1727], Copernicus [1473-1543], Galileo [1564-1642] and Kepler [1571-1630], and probably reflect an excessive « admiration for the triumphs of the sciences since Galileo and Newton, » [Berlin, 1996, 28].
This age also sought to displace all those previously dominant magical and religious elements in medical conceptuality, and what had become a « period of conformity…mechanical, and in the end meaningless, through mere repetition… the blankest patches in the history of human thought…a great and arid waste, » [Berlin, 1996, 74].
The supernatural fabric of medieval medicine gradually became abandoned and dismantled and so fell into neglect, to be replaced by the new passion for ‘mechanism’ extolled by figures like Hoffmann and Boerhaave. What happened in medicine certainly reflected things happening, and conceptual shifts taking place in the natural sciences and philosophy. Mechanics dominated everything at that time.
Sydenham, for example, who had very much set this impulse going, ruthlessly stripped disease of any deeper philosophical relevance to the life of the patient as a being, made individuality inconsequential, and regarded any disease as merely another example of an infection by some noxious external agent that has invaded the patient for no particular ethical or spiritual reason. No special meaning was to be attached to any disease. He « applied his objective investigations to both the treatment and to the description of diseases. Divesting himself of much medieval tradition, he approached therapeutic problems in a relatively empirical manner, » [Shryock, 12].
He « turned to methodological empiricism, » [Warner, 44; King, 1970] and gave credence to the view that a disease was a real entity separate from the patient [Porter, 230]. Sydenham also « converted Bacon’s neo-Platonic ‘form’ into a wholly new concept – the specific disease’... » [Coulter, II, 2, 180]. He viewed diseases as « clear and distinct entities ripe for taxonomy, » [Porter, 307]. « …the description of a disease as an entity. This latter meaning prevailed with Thomas Sydenham, » [Temkin, 28]. Sydenham also misinterpreted Paracelsus about the physical nature of morbific particles of contagion, echoing the view of Fracastoro [1478-1553; Veith, 505], and so spawned the basis for the modern Germ Theory of disease. « Where the ancients had seen an inseparable connection between the patient and his malady, Sydenham saw in the patient certain pathological symptoms which he had observed in others and expected to see again…he distinguished between the sick man and the illness, and objectified the latter as a thing in itself. This was a new outlook, an ontological conception of the nature of disease which was eventually to prove of the utmost significance. » [Shryock, 13, my emphases]. Like Sydenham, Hahnemann also revered Bacon as the founder of the inductive scientific method [see Close, 1924, 15, 27-8, 248-9].
Then, by contrast, there were those full-blooded vitalists like Paracelsus [1493-1541], van Helmont [1577-1644] and Stahl [1660-1734], who held a more esoteric stance, believing that each disease carries a special spiritual aspect as well as its obvious physical attributes. Like homeopaths such as Kent [1849-1916], they rejected the outer physical aspects of disease as being the true realm of disease causation, believing the organism to possess an inner ‘spiritual body’ or ‘vital force’ – « …Van Helmont’s Archeus, Stahl’s Animal Soul… » [Lesser Writings, 1808, 490; Haehl, I, 284] – that heals and coordinates during health, but which also harbours the root causes of sickness, and what van Helmont called « …exogenous agents…that irritate the Archeus… » [Pagel, 428]. In the Organon, when writing about the vital force, Hahnemann even « uses phrases that might have been Stahl’s own, » [Haehl, I, 284].
Unlike Sydenham, van Helmont correctly interpreted Paracelsus that contagion occurred by a « spiritual Gas, » [Pagel, 1946, 436] that invades the Archeus and so creates sickness. Contagion had always been viewed as a spiritual process and never physical. These ideas also resurfaced with homeopaths like Kent, who denounced « the bacteria doctrine, » and « the molecular theory, » in favour of a position of unbridled vitalism, declaring that « We do not take disease through our bodies but through the Vital Force, » [Kent, Lesser Writings, 1926].« …the old school of medicine believed it might cure diseases in a direct manner by the removal of the [imaginary] material cause… » [Organon, 4]
« These [allopathically conceived disease entities]…were all idle dreams, unfounded assumptions and hypotheses, cunningly devised for the convenience of therapeutics…the easiest way of performing a cure would be to remove the material, morbific matters… » [Organon, 7]The eighteenth century then surrendered itself completely to a period of unrestrained speculation and quite absurd medical theorising, about which Hahnemann was profoundly contemptuous:« …metaphysical, mystical, and supernatural speculations, which idle and self-sufficient visionaries have devised… » [Lesser Writings, 1808, 491]
« …vapoury theorising…word-mongers…system-framers and system-followers…framed for show, for a make-believe, and not for use… [Lesser Writings, 1808, 497-8]
« …the state of the body has only been viewed through the spectacles of manufactured systems… » [Lesser Writings, 1808, 499]
« …we were fooled by the natural philosophers….their whole conception – so unintelligible, so hollow and unmeaning, that no clear sense could be drawn from it. » [Lesser Writings, 1808, 494]
« …inflated bombast, passing for demonstration, abounding in words, but void of sense – all the antics and curvets of the sophists…perfectly insufferable. » [Lesser Writings, 1808, 492]
« This…made the medical art a stage for the display of the most fantastic, often most self-contradictory, hypotheses, explanations, demonstrations, conjectures, dogmas, and systems, whose evil consequences are not to be overlooked… » [Hahnemann, 1808, 489-90]It was customary, even up to the end of the 19th century, for medical students to be taught all previous systems of healing, and have their heads « crammed with theories and systems, » [Haehl, I, 24]: « Even the student was taught to think he was master of the art of discovering and removing disease, when he had stuffed his head with these baseless hypotheses…leading him as far as possible away from a true conception of disease and its cure, » [Lesser Writings, 1808, 490]. In « the eighteenth century, the opinions of these men were still matters of vital concern, » [Temkin, 1946, 15], and knowing « the various systems of the time was a matter of necessary orientation for the doctor, » [Temkin, 1946, 16]. Indeed, Greek and Latin authors « were still read and interpreted in the medical faculties of the universities in the early nineteenth cnetury, » [Temkin, 22]
Being something of « a student of ancient history, » [Bradford, 150], Hahnemann, in his insistent probing, dislodged problems flowing from both medical traditions, and thus became the inheritor of a mass of conflicting views and techniques, which circumstance more or less forced him to pick his way through in order to make sense of the medicine of his day. Making very slow progress along what was a crooked, thistle-strewn and rocky path towards his construction of a new system, which worked in practice as well as having a sound underpinning rationale of coherent ideas, such was the mountain Hahnemann had chosen to climb, as he trudged along a bitterly lonely and perilous track, illuminated at times, and but dimly, only by the bright lamp of his inner hope.
Earning only a « meagre living through work as a translator, writer and chemical researcher… » [Nicholls, 1988, 11], Hahnemann was a lonely figure in the 1780s, and seems to have been more or less paralysed by the uncertainty of his position. It was doubtless this paralysing fog of uncertainty that had eventually forced him to abandon medical practice completely [Bradford, 37]. « Hahnemann at this time, 1790, was poor, » [Bradford, 47]. His « struggle with poverty, » [Haehl, I, 34] reduced him to the merely passive role of a scholar of the medical past and a translator of medical texts; « his translation work gave him meagre support…in the year 1791, poverty compelled him to move from Leipzic to Stotteritz, » [Bradford, 51]. « He reduced himself and his family to want for conscience sake, » [Bradford, 36]. But to what extent how being reduced to penury by lowly translation work [Haehl, I, 262], affected his sense of self-worth or pride in being a doctor, and for which he had worked so hard, is an interesting point. It is highly likely that his pride was hurt, because « Hahnemann entertained a high conception of the physician’s dignity…[and a] justifiable pride in his calling, » [Haehl, I, 278].
Two features particularly stand out in all this that are most remarkable. Firstly, in all his writings he rarely mentions by name the great figures of the medical past, who were creators of vitalist medical systems and his greatest forebears, and who had laid out the very foundations upon which homeopathy would be built. Mention of these figures is so scant as to be conspicuous by its virtual absence in all his writings.
It is especially suspicious that Hahnemann only fleetingly mentions Stahl, Paracelsus or van Helmont by name, who truly were his greatest forebears and it is mostly their ideas and connected problems, which he inherited and was able to solve, update and push forwards. It is therefore very hard to explain why a man so saturated in every medical theorist and practitioner of the past, and possessed of such an encyclopaedic knowledge of systems [« He used 861 quotations from 389 books in his essay on Arsenic. » Bradford, 40, 93; see also Haehl, I, 97], should then remain so silent about those to whom his own system owes so much.
Stahl’s system involved a vital principle that he called the ‘anima’, which was the « Hippocratic ‘physis’ to which Stahl added the attributes of Paracelus’ ‘Alchemist’ and van Helmont’s ‘Archeus’… » [Coulter, II, 229]. Stahl made it clear that he regarded the Anima as a vital principle, because it « directs and controls the organism and its struggle against harmful environmental influences, » [Coulter, II, 231] and which « protects it in health and cures it when diseased, » [Coulter, II, 232]. > »Paracelsus’s system…was a rude form of homeopathy…but it was not equal in value to Hahnemann’s system… » [Dudgeon, 1853, 14]In what is a clear reference to his deeper knowledge of Paracelsus, Hahnemann talks of: « …the old mystic number three…triplicity, presented a miniature of the universe [microcosm, macrocosm]…explained to a hair’s-breadth… » [Lesser Writings, 490]. Hahnemann’s medical outlook, « like that of Paracelsus, was shaped by his early life…the parallels between their careers, as between their medical doctrines, are striking, » [Coulter, II, 306].
Yet, when Dr Trinks, in 1825, asked him directly about Paracelsus, he replied « that it was unknown to him, » [Haehl, I, 274], claiming he knew nothing about « the great heresiarch, » [Temkin, 1946, 18], claiming never to have read a single word he had ever written or to know anything about his medical system. « In 1825 Trinks…pointed out to Hahnemann that the principles of homeopathy are to be found in Paracelsus. Hahnemann replied that until that moment, he had known nothing of it, » [Haehl, I, 425]. In a letter to Dr Stapf, « Hahnemann refused very definitely, and with some indignation to be associated with Paracelsus’s fantastic and will-o-the-wisp…[theories], » [Haehl, I, 274], having had « no suspicion that Paracelsus had similar ideas, » [Haehl, I, 273]. These denials amount to outright lies and clearly reveal how determined Hahnemann had become to conceal his true sources. It is utterly inconceivable that Hahnemann knew nothing about Paracelsus. Goethe even refers to Hahnemann as « this new Theophrastus Paracelsus, » [Haehl, I, 113].« Like Paracelsus and van Helmont, he was disillusioned with the prevailing ideas and retired from practice to think out a new approach, » [Coulter, II, 310].Yet, he only once mentions Stahl, « the founder of vitalism, » [Veith, 505-6], and van Helmont [Lesser Writings, 1808, 490], who were undoubtedly two of the greatest builders of vitalist medical systems, and both holding views remarkably concordant with his own. How can such a broad confluence of medical ideas reasonably have been coincidental? Their views on such central matters as the life force and miasms come so astonishingly close to those of Hahnemann that it is quite simply impossible for such a well-read and articulate physician like Hahnemann to claim any ignorance of their names or their medical views. Van Helmont’s ‘Archeus’ and Stahl’s ‘anima’ [Temkin, 1946, 22; Haehl, I, 284] are virtually identical to Hahnemann’s life-force and perform exactly the same function within the conceptual fabric of these three medical systems.
The second remarkable feature is that Hahnemann also remained very tight-lipped about his esoteric studies with von Brukenthal in Sibiu in the late 1770s and because of which he was a lifelong Freemason and an active member of a Masonic lodge in every town wherever he lived [Haehl, I, 23], and which was a subject to which he was « inwardly greatly attracted, » [Haehl, I, 255]. Haehl claims he was always « a good Mason, » [Haehl, I, 119, 253]. This again seems to reveal some hidden, undisclosed aspect of the man, about which he also remained silent. Given that he had such a brilliant mind, such exceptional reasoning and debating skills, such linguistic gifts [Haehl, I, 10-15, 34-35; Bradford, 28, 94] and such rare, subtle and profound skills as a thinker and observer [Haehl, I, 250-2], it is hard to imagine why he chose not to write about the great medical problems of the past with which he must undoubtedly have struggled and in which he was daily immersed between say 1780 and 1800. Thus again we are forced to conclude that Hahnemann deliberately chose to stay silent on all these pertinent matters.
What were truly « wilderness years » [Coulter, II, 348], the 1780s and 1790s were entirely devoted to one grand struggle: the gradual demolition of his old views, a steady formulation of the new and a long and complex process of mental metamorphosis, sifting, analysis, reflection and experimentation, a movement from darkness towards light, « a state of complete internal revolution, » [Haehl, I, 48] that finally led him to the triumphant realisation of his dreams and that gave slow and painful birth to homeopathic medicine, rising like some Phoenix out of the ashes of his bitterly disappointing early years of medical practice and his long years of study. Having been to Hell and back, he returned like a prodigal: strengthened, renewed and undeterred:« He could only wait for the moment, as inevitable as the Day of Judgement, which would see him revealed as the apostle of a pure and true doctrine of medicine. » [Gumpert, 59]Having solved the two greatest riddles in medical history – the relationship between the drug and the disease/patient, and the dose-dependent relationship between the toxic and therapeutic actions of drugs – he was determined to tell the world what his answers were – the proving and potentisation of single drugs.« Men of authentic genius are necessarily to a large degree destructive of past traditions. Great philosophers always transform, upset and destroy. It is only the small philosophers who defend vested interests, apply rules, squeeze into procrustean beds. » [Berlin, 1996, 70]
« He sought to discover the specific relations of certain medicines to certain diseases, to certain organs and tissues, he strove to do away with the blind chimney-sweeper’s methods of dulling symptoms. » [Gumpert, 99]
« He struck deadly blows…first…that the doctor should prepare his own medicines; second…the administration of small doses; and, third, he was a most passionate opponent of mixed doses that contained a large number of ingredients. » [Gumpert, 96]
« …employment of the many-mixed, this pell-mell administration of several substances at once…these hotch-potch doses… » [Lesser Writings, 1808, 498]Yet, in this other sense about which we speak, this unusually garrulous and articulate Hahnemann, so often given to « raging like a hurricane, » [Haehl, I, 98], or ranting « like the old prophets, » [Haehl, I, 33], has consistently and mysteriously failed to tell the world where his ideas came from or in which particular brood-chamber they had long fermented, or finally been hatched. He declined to reveal whom he had drawn on the most and what the true antecedents or roots of homeopathy were. As we have seen, on all these points, he remained conspicuously silent and cloaked himself only in denial, obfuscation, and a profound and uncharacteristic reticence.
There seems little point, therefore, in denying the facts. Hahnemann did have intimate knowledge of these great figures and their grand medical conceptions, but he deliberately chose never to mention them. This somewhat baffling and monumental silence therefore raises the inevitable question of why a man with such detailed knowledge of all these matters, refused to discuss or to lay out before his contemporaries an honest account of the true origins of his new medical system; a point we shall presently examine.
Two passages in his writings, especially revealing his deeper knowledge of medical history and systems, occur in the essays ‘On the Helleborism of the Ancients’ , and ‘Aesculapius in the Balance’ , which can be read in his Lesser Writings, pp.569-616, and pp.419-26 respectively. Other useful comments he makes about medical systems can be seen in his ‘On the Value of the Speculative Systems of Medicine’  and ‘On the Great Necessity of a Regeneration of Medicine’ , in Lesser Writings, pp.488-505, and pp.511-21 respectively.
Another important secret of Hahnemann is revealed in his choice of drugs to admit into his new materia medica. One feature that distinguishes homeopathy quite markedly from other medical systems is the large number of mineral drugs it employs. In The Chronic Diseases, for example, of the 48 drugs listed, 35 are minerals, 12 from plants and only one from an animal source [Sepia]. Thus, over 70% are of mineral origin. Hahnemann showed almost as strong a love of minerals, metals and acids, dozens of which appear in his materia medica, as his great forebears Paracelsus and van Helmont, who believed that minerals are blessed with greater potency as healing agents, because they are so ancient and take so long to form in the fabric of the earth, in comparison to most plants [Coulter, II, 48-9]. Again, Hahnemann never mentions them.
Similar notions were applied to metals, gems and other crystalline minerals, which were conceived to be the purified products of a slow maturation process, an alchemical form of gestation or distillation in the earth’s crust, again imparting extreme healing potency upon them. While Hahnemann may not have shared these precise views, nevertheless the parallels are striking. It is of more than passing interest that his drug preferences disclose a heavy reliance on alchemical preconceptions, pointing to deeper knowledge of his own on such matters, but about which he never overtly speaks.
Paracelsus so loved minerals that he even preferred to augment plant tinctures with the ash from the burned plant, forming what he called a ‘spagyric’ remedy. This reflected his belief that the mineral component of a plant has especially strong healing powers, without which the tincture is an incomplete healing agent [Coulter, I, 350, 413, 421, 443; II, 51]. Again, this reflects a strong preference for mineral drugs, and also the notion that the unique life-force of each plant specially concocts a subtle blend of minerals from the soil, which becomes sealed with the ‘spiritual imprint’ of the plant’s life-force. These ideas and techniques also found transmission through Goethe [1749-1832] to Rudolph Steiner [1861-1925] and sprouted in his anthroposophical medicine [Hill, 29], where similar techniques are still employed.
All such arcane knowledge, Hahnemann could easily have accessed – and very probably did – in the many esoteric medical and alchemical texts in Brukenthal’s great library in Sibiu, and which he had spent « a year and nine months, » [Bradford, 28] cataloguing. Indeed, it would be remarkable if he had not absorbed such ideas. Even the potentisation process could originally have been devised as a method to liberate and concentrate the ‘healing spirit’ [Archeus] of a substance, and thus seems strangely parallel to Paracelsan and alchemical techniques, though admittedly dressed up in a more scientific garb. In which case, fire, time, trituration and succussion therefore seem to be those sole and Promethean alchemical agents capable of transforming and purifying any substance and concentrating its ‘spiritual imprint’. Such is and was ‘medical alchemy’.
All things considered, therefore, it is very hard to believe that Hahnemann, such a well-read [Bradford, 35, 93] and inquisitive man himself, was not aware of these facts. Especially when we consider his immensely detailed knowledge of the various previous systems of healing [Lesser Writings, 420-3; 488-505; Bradford, 93-4], « his extraordinary knowledge of medical history, » [Haehl, I, 97], or when considering his linguistic skills [Bradford, 28, 94], his translation work, and his librarianship and alchemical studies in Sibiu with von Brukenthal. All of these are bound to have brought him into intimate contact with such arcane details of these previous healing systems, some points of which must have been rubbed off and been retained in « his extraordinary memory, » [Haehl, I, 277] from 5-6 years earlier. Quite simply, he must have known all these things, yet he never once mentions them.
Furthermore, anyone knowing homeopathy intimately, and especially the metaphysical ideas of giants like Kent, if they then turn to any serious study of the works of van Helmont, Stahl and Paracelsus, they will not fail to be impressed, if not amazed, by the numerous strong parallels begirdering all these vitalistic medical systems. As systems of ideas on the nature and causes of disease, of how the organism is thought to function, on the life-force, the most likely remedies and their modes of selection and preparation, then it becomes apparent that the parallels between them are so numerous and striking to ever be regarded as coincidental.
However, even if he knew them as intimately as seems likely, that still does not mean that Hahnemann simply sat down and copied them all wholesale. Rather, it seems more likely that he will have received abundant inspiration just from contemplating them. Copying those basic principles that chimed best with his own thoughts and medical experience – similars and single drugs, for example – he could then pick up and extend them further through experiment. Proceeding exactly in such a manner; he could then build up a corpus of likely ideas, to inspire his experiments and guide his choice of drugs. Much like rich veins, he could go back to these systems repeatedly to draw fresh inspiration.
As we have seen, it is well nigh impossible that he was ignorant of these systems and probably read them in detail in their original Latin and German, [Haehl, I, 250; Bradford, 28, 94].
Though he felt obliged to strip these systems bare of their astrology and theology, their supernatural garb, with which he had little patience: « …metaphysical, mystical, and supernatural speculations, which idle and self-sufficient visionaries have devised… » [Lesser Writings, 1808, 491]; « …now the influence of the stars, now that of evil spirits and witchcraft… » [Lesser Writings, 1805, 421]. In an especially contemptuous blast, Hahnemann even questions how « old astrology was to explain what puzzled modern natural philosophy… » [Lesser Writings, 490]. « The majority of elite men and the medical establishment no longer valued astrology by the early 18th century and it ceased to occupy a central place… » [Gouk, 317]
Yet, what is left is still strikingly similar to homeopathy in respect of small doses; single drugs; many metals, acids and minerals; miasms as taints [disease images] contained in the life-force [Archeus or anima]; that the internal disease-causing factors predominate as true causes and must be neutralised by internally-employed medicines, often singly, in small, widely-spaced doses; and that a resonance or sympathy pertains between the malady and the remedy; that like cures like; and that the true image of a sickness/person matches in detail the image of the correct drug. There is broad agreement on all such central matters. And Hahnemann must have known this.
True to their times, Van Helmont and Paracelsus did, however, lean far more heavily upon alleged spiritual, astral and theological causes of disease: the « blas of the stars, » [Coulter, II, 200] while Hahnemann typically gives only ‘defects in the life force’, which allows ‘susceptibility’ to act as the generalised ‘template’ upon which acute and chronic maladies can then establish themselves. Homeopathy, like all other vitalist systems, respects the obvious physiological holism and vitalism of the body, and always seeks to strengthen its innate healing power or vital force [Haehl, I, 64, 284, 289]. This approach does not deny, but embraces, the subtle differences between individual cases of a disease, and reaffirms that disease and patient comprise inseparably dual aspects of one united biophysical continuum. Disease is viewed as a ‘dynamic derangement of the life force’ [Close, 1924, 37-8, 74].« The organism is indeed the material instrument of life, but it is not conceivable without the animation imparted to it by the instinctively perceiving and regulating vital force… » [Organon, para 15]
« Let it be granted now…that no disease…is caused by any material substance, but that every one is only and always a peculiar, virtual, dynamic derangement of the health… » [Organon, Introduction, 10]Hahnemann was less keen to explore the psychological or psychic causes of sickness and he seems to play down the significance of such factors. Moreover, in homeopathy, that still remains a more or less blank sheet even to this day.
Having resolved in his own mind the importance of his own work, gave him greater confidence, even in adversity: « the…very opposition of his colleagues made him more resolute in his determination to carry out his plans alone, or with what casual assistance he could procure from non-professional friends, » [Dudgeon, 1853, 181]. This might also suggest that he knew his own system was the best, because he knew intimately everything else that was on offer, and none of which worked in practice: « In an eight years’ practice, pursued with conscientious attention, I had learned the delusive nature of the ordinary methods of treatment, and from sad experience I knew right well how far the methods of Sydenham, and Frederick Hoffmann, of Boerhaave and Gaubius, of Stoll, Quarin, Cullen, and De Haan were capable of curing, » [Lesser Writings, 513].
We must accept that Hahnemann had his own reasons for ploughing a lonely furrow [see Haehl, I, 255], for not even mentioning the figures and systems of the past – a rich seam, which he must have gone back to repeatedly to quarry ideas and inspiration, and forming a vague template on which to build his homeopathic system. As he does occasionally refer to those past « system-makers, » [Lesser Writings, 1808, 497-8] he disagrees with, such as Cullen [1710-90], Brown [1735-88], Hunter [1728-93], Galen [c.130-201], Boerhaave and Hoffmann, who he mostly repudiates [especially Galen – e.g. Lesser Writings, I, 421, 592], are we therefore entitled to presume that he deliberately neglected to mention those with whom he shared a broad measure of agreement?
Leaving all this information undisclosed could have been devised for two reasons – to leave the trail ‘cold’ for the inquisitive, and to give homeopathy the cleanest possible start in life as a brand new medical system, seeming to be complete unto itself and rooted solely in experiments that he had personally conducted, and possessed of medical principles, he had personally uncovered. Although this account is probably more true than false, it is still a shame that Hahnemann seemed too darned secretive and too proud [his egotism, Haehl, I, 256] to acknowledge his considerable debt to a small clutch of important medical predecessors, whose ideas and methods contain so much that is common to homeopathy. Such massive similarities between these systems must have been known to Hahnemann – probably in detail – and must have richly informed his formulation of homeopathy.
Clearly, Hahnemann seemed eager to sever homeopathy completely from its arcane roots and to deny that it had any spiritual or theological connections at all. In stripping these ancient systems bare of all their supernatural and magical elements, what is left is largely homeopathy. It is only when we look at figures like Kent that all such hastily ejected theological material comes back to the fore:« You cannot divorce medicine and theology. Man exists all the way down from his innermost spiritual to his outermost natural » [Kent, Lesser Writings, 641]Implicit to Kent’s view is the notion that no matter how much Hahnemann – or anyone – tries to hide, deny, suppress or stamp out the spiritual, supernatural and theological in medicine, it has a strange habit of finding some means of expression, bubbling back to the surface. And so homeopathy will always re-establish its true connections and re-grow its true roots. The very things that Sydenham ejected from medieval medicine – in ‘divorcing medicine and theology’ [Veith, 502] – and which Hahnemann seems also to have discouraged, are as truly real links to homeopathy as ever. These links cannot be separated for too long and will yearn for, find and grow back to each other naturally like severed roots of the same plant.
Probably in order not to validate the rampant spirituality and Romantic philosophy of his day, Hahnemann did not wish homeopathy to be associated with the vitalist systems of the past, choosing instead to ‘cover his tracks’. In an age like his so dominated by science, would he have wished to see homeopathy associated in any way with magical, religious or supernatural tendencies? He probably feared that any such links, if ever they were made explicit, would be a retrograde step, that could seriously impede its acceptance within wider medicine, that might smear his reputation as a scientist, or to offer even vague support for such nebulous ideas would somehow cast him in a bad light. That I think gives a fair account of this fascinating but highly convoluted matter.
Hahnemann’s vociferous attitude towards allopathy meant that he did indeed regard « the old overthrown philosophy…as a mass of superstition and error. » [Berlin, 1996, 62], as « …a chaotic amalgam of ignorance, laziness, guesswork, superstition, prejudice, dogma, fantasy… » [Berlin, 1979, 163] or « …casual impression, half-remembered, unverified recollections, guesswork, mere rules of thumb, unscientific hypotheses, » [Berlin, 1996, 41]. And its antiquated corpus of ideas as little more than « …metaphysical and theological explanations unsupported by…evidence, conducted by methods the opposite of rational, the happy hunting ground of bigots and charlatans and their dupes and slaves, » [Berlin, 1979, 133].
Wherever the true origins of homeopathy might lie hidden within previous healing systems, we can definitely say that with his most genuinely original contributions – the proving and potentisation – Hahnemann had effectively modernised and rekindled the previous vitalist systems, which, like long-silent and broken machines, he had fixed and which now hummed sweetly into new life. Had not this been his sole aim all along? Was this not indeed a revolution in medicine?
Haehl’s assessment therefore looks more accurate afterall: « Medicine has nothing in the whole course of her history which in any way approaches the accomplishment of this man…[Hahnemann was]…primarily a champion – and indeed the most brilliant champion – of internal remedies, the imperfections and manifold unfruitfulness of which he undertook to metamorphose… » [Haehl, I, 274-5]. And the reasons now seem clearer too: « The task of the great philosophers who break through the orthodoxy is to sweep away the painstaking edifices of their honourable but limited predecessors who…tend to imprison thought within their own tidy but fatally misconceived constructions, » [Berlin, 1996, 72].
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Australia dismisses homeopathy and the joke is on its ‘less is more’ principle
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners says pharmacists should not stock such products because there is no evidence they are effective in any way
Drawers containing homeopathic remedies. Drawers containing homeopathic remedies. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has formally recommended GPs stop prescribing them. Australian Associated Press. Wednesday 3 June 2015
The official body for Australian GPs has asked pharmacists to strip their shelves of homeopathic products and warned doctors not to prescribe them because they do nothing.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has formally recommended GPs stop prescribing homeopathic remedies and says pharmacists must also stop stocking such products because there is no evidence they are effective in any way.
The RACGP’s position statement on homeopathy, released on Wednesday, follows recent findings by the National Health and Medical Research Council that homeopathy produces no health benefits over and above a placebo.
Such unproven products might cause them to delay seeking out proper medical care, or lead them to reject conventional medical approaches entirely, he said.The RACGP president, Dr Frank Jones, warned people who turned to homeopathic products to address health issues could be putting themselves at risk. He expressed particular concerns about so-called homeopathic vaccines.
“These alternatives do not prevent diseases or increase protective antibodies and there is no plausible biological mechanism by which these alternatives could prevent infection,” he said.
“Individuals and the community are exposed to preventable diseases when homeopathic vaccines are used as an alternative to conventional immunisation.”
Dr Jones said the lack of evidence about any benefits from homeopathy must prompt doctors and pharmacists to turn their backs on it. “Given this lack of evidence, it does not make sense for homeopathy products to be prescribed by GPs or sold, recommended or supported by pharmacists,” he said.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia says it’s up to individual pharmacists to decide if they’ll stop selling homeopathic remedies branded useless by doctors.RACGP noted all taxpayers were funding homeopathy through the federal government’s private health insurance rebate.
The pharmacy guild says it is not a regulatory authority, and as such there will be no recommendation backing RACGP’s call for homeopathic products to be taken off the market. But it says its advice to pharmacists is to ensure customers have access to objective, informed advice about complementary medicines. “Pharmacists, as health professionals, have a duty of care to be aware of available clinical evidence that supports the therapeutic and marketing claims made about all products sold in their pharmacies,” the guild said in a statement.