The mystery of the white ball
Homeopathy ( from the Greek. "Similar" and - "disease" ) is a type of alternative medicine that involves the use of highly diluted drugs, which, presumably, cause symptoms in healthy people, similar to the symptoms of the patient's illness. The concept of treatment according to the pseudo-scientific principle “similar to similar” (Latin similia similibus curantur) is opposed by homeopaths to the principles of rational pharmacotherapy. The founder and author of the term is German physician Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann .
The theoretical substantiation of the homeopathic principle does not correspond to the scientific understanding of the functioning of a healthy and diseased organism, and the carried out clinical trials of homeopathic preparations did not reveal differences between the homeopathic medicine and placebo. This means that any positive feelings after being treated with homeopathy are explained by the placebo effect and the natural recovery from the illness. Trivial calculations show that in preparations with dilutions of 12C and higher, the probability of the presence of at least one molecule of the active substance is close to zero. For these reasons, the scientific community regards homeopathy as pseudoscience , quackery or fraud. The World Health Organization (WHO) warns against the homeopathic treatment of infectious and any other serious diseases. According to experts of the organization, “the use of homeopathy has no evidence base, and in cases where it is used as an alternative to the main treatment, it carries a real threat to the health and life of people”.
The Committee on Science and Technology of the British Parliament in February 2010 issued a 275-page document on the verification of the evidence base of homeopathy. According to the findings of the Committee, state health insurance should not cover homeopathic treatment, because “a systematic evaluation and meta-analysis finally demonstrate that homeopathic products work no better than placebo”. The Committee also indicated to the Agency for Drug Control and Health Care that it is not worth licensing homeopathic medicines, since this creates the illusion of the public that it is being offered really topical medicines. Among the findings of the document are also evaluations of the basic principles of homeopathy. According to these findings, the principle of “treating such like” does not have a theoretical basis and is not capable of providing a reasonable mode of therapeutic use of homeopathic products, and the idea that superstrong dilution keeps traces of solutes is scientifically untenable.
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) obliged homeopathic manufacturers to inform consumers that homeopathy is based on the theories of the XVIII century, and the drugs themselves do not undergo the necessary clinical trials and are not approved by medical experts. The FTC published a 24-page report that outlined the positions of homeopaths, those who are skeptical of homeopathy, and those who have used it. The organization's specialists concluded that there is no reason not to expose advertising promises of homeopathy producers to the same control as advertising of drugs. Information on the packaging, according to experts, appears in a distorted form. To clarify, now manufacturers will have to indicate that their product has not been tested and manufactured in accordance with principles that have no evidence.
What unknown force lies in homeopathic preparations and why these seemingly harmless globules so annoy some representatives of science?
It has long given itself the word not to be surprised at the intricate whims of journalistic fate. Today you interview the president in the luxurious interiors of his residence, and tomorrow you feed lice in the Arab desert. So what? Be patient and rejoice. But interesting. But the last instruction of the editorial board puzzled me greatly. Need to figure out what homeopathy is? The industry of serious medicine or distributing gullible suckers?
The difficulty was that I was always very skeptical of all manifestations of alternative medicine, in particular, the boxes with white balls that my wife brought home after taking it from a homeopath. These balls supposedly helped her, as well as her sister, friends, relatives and friends. And since all of them are still alive and well, I did not mind. Just not harmed. But now this question should be taken seriously.
First of all, I carefully studied the arguments of opponents of homeopathy, writing off one of them by e-mail, and seeing someone in person. The picture, presented as a result, was murderous. I was assured that clinical trials conducted with proper quality and in accordance with accepted standards did not show any advantages of homeopathic medicines over placebo (pacifier). I was told that the principles themselves, which are the basis of homeopathy, are incompatible with the modern natural-scientific picture of the world. Here it is: either homeopathy, or physics with chemistry. In the same row they do not exist.
The main principle - "to treat like like ." In other words, wedge knock out wedge.
One must be flexible and look at obvious results, and there are more than enough of them in homeopathic practice. Our medicine can not be called unsubstantiated. She's just different. And in order to understand this, it is necessary to change the consciousness, it is necessary to understand that this is also a reality.
I learned that drugs used by homeopaths are diluted to ultra-low doses, that is, to such an extent that there are no molecules of the primary substance left in the “ball”. That, too, you see, is strange: at the expense of what, then, is the therapeutic effect achieved? When homeopaths are reproached for this, they allegedly explain the discrepancy with all sorts of pseudoscientific theories, for example, "memory of water", "wave genome" and other miracles. Others believe that the therapeutic effect occurs in a manner unknown to science. Again mystic?
“Well, so be it,” I told my counterpart. - But after all, you will not argue with the fact that homeopaths have not harmed anyone. If there is nothing in these preparations, then there is no harm.
“The danger is,” they replied to me, “that people who believed in homeopaths would not turn to the specialists of conventional medicine in time, they would start the disease.”
Christian Samuel Hahnemann ... Every German homeopath considers it his duty to pay tribute to the founder of the alternative medicine branch.
Along the way, I learned that in Russia, homeopathy had risen in the early 90s. We proceeded from the fact that since homeopathy exists in different countries, then we should have it. This is a valid fact: homeopathic practice is permitted and is present in seventy states. The most convincing example is India, where about two hundred thousand (!) Homeopathic practitioners practice and more than two thousand homeopathic clinics work. There is the All-India Institute of Homeopathy, and one hundred twenty-two specialized faculties are opened in educational institutions. But in Europe, this branch of medicine is flourishing. Austria, France, Belgium, United Kingdom - everywhere it exists legally, doctors are trained by universities, the number of patients is growing. Moreover, in some countries, those suffering are paid the costs of homeopathic treatment at the expense of compulsory health insurance policies. Although with reservations. Take, say, advanced Switzerland. On the one hand, the federal health department in March 2016 confirmed that "there is still no absolutely reliable data proving the effectiveness and efficacy of homeopathy." On the other hand, the same department, "reflecting the will of the people", allowed to pay for the services provided by homeopaths at the expense of the MLA. The Swiss asked to give them a couple more years to put an end to this dispute: research continues. Well, after everything I heard and read, I went to Germany, to the small Saxon town of Kothen, where homeopathy originated almost two hundred years ago.
And now - to practice
In this city there is one monument to the composer Johann Sebastian Bach and two to Dr. Christian Samuel Hahnemann. Quotes from the works of the world's first homeopath adorn the facades of many houses. In the city museum, a whole room is dedicated to the life of Hahnemann. And each German homeopathist considers it his duty to pay tribute to the founder of the alternative medicine branch. Just on the day of my arrival, the leading German experts gathered in Köthen to discuss preparations for the next, 72th in a row, World Congress of Homeopaths, which will be held in June in Leipzig. Well, I took advantage of this to ask my questions to the President of the Central Association of Homeopaths of Germany, Cornelia Bayich.
I immediately warned her that some questions would be uncomfortable. “This is your profession to ask bad questions,” Frau Bayich encouraged me.
I know that in Russia, many biologists, chemists, physicists, as well as some doctors practicing conventional medicine, categorically do not recognize homeopathy. What do you think, why?
Cornelia Bayich: I think this is a problem of a scientific understanding of the world. Today, life is changing rapidly and changing ideas about the world. If the traditional framework does not contain new ideas, this does not mean that such ideas are erroneous. Skeptics view homeopathy from those scientific positions that are based on the traditional allopathic understanding of medicine. Scientific, or evidence-based, medicine has proven its worth, and we do not deny it. But you can not approach with the same standards to conventional medical research and research in the field of homeopathy. One must be flexible and look at obvious results, and there are more than enough of them in homeopathic practice. Our medicine can not be called unsubstantiated. She's just different. And in order to understand this, it is necessary to change the consciousness, to understand that this is also a reality.
Still, reality or mysticism? There is a widespread opinion that the effectiveness of your treatment depends on the faith, on the patient's conviction of success ...
Cornelia Bayich: Of course, if a patient believes in a doctor, that's good. Then he strictly follows the advice of the doctor, he takes the medicine correctly. But, answering your question, I will say: we conducted research, during which we gave pacifiers (placebo) and homeopathic remedies to our patients, so the placebo did not work, and homeopathy gave results.
It is not harmful to believe, but the fact is that homeopathy also helps young children who are difficult, you will agree, to be suspected of engagement. Or animals - and here we can’t talk about faith at all.
Do vets use homeopathic remedies?
Cornelia Bayich: Of course. For example, yesterday a farmer turned to us, who has an ecofarm, and he does not want to use antibiotics. Treats animals with homeopathy.
And why did he refuse antibiotics?
Cornelia Bayich: The hidden presence of antibiotics in food is a big problem. And homeopathy comes to replace them. Standards of the European Commission require first to use homeopathy, then other natural remedies, and only as a last resort - antibiotics.
Then I will come from the other side. Do homeopaths really admit that they themselves do not fully understand the mechanisms of action of their drugs?
Cornelia Bayich: Here I must agree: this is true. Rather, we are dealing with a phenomenon that is not yet fully understood. We do not at all refuse to put the research at the proper scientific level, to carry out expert analyzes, to accumulate and systematize the data. We are open to any inspections, all this will only benefit the cause.
In the course of the research we gave pacifiers (placebo) and homeopathic remedies to our patients, so - the placebo did not work, and homeopathy gave results.
We have experiments with plants that were placed in glass capsules with a poisonous solution. Then in one capsule was added ordinary water, and in others - homeopathic remedies. And in the last capsules the plants were restored, revived.
Quotes from Hahnemann adorn the facades of many houses, and in the city museum a whole room is dedicated to him.
Your opponents favorite trump card is this. Allegedly, when a drug is diluted to degree C30 (this is the most common dilution, in which the drug is diluted thirty-fold times - VS), not a single molecule of the original substance remains in the test tube. But if so, what then works?
Cornelia Bayich: Before dilution of C10 and even C23, some molecules of the initial substance are preserved. But in the subsequent dilutions they no longer exist. This means that some other, yet unknown mechanism works. We do research to find out what's the matter. But this, of course, is not mysticism. Perhaps something is happening which changes this substance in a way unknown to us. We can only observe this, but are still not able to explain it.
Your opponents also say the following: people with serious diseases go to homeopaths, losing precious time. And then it's too late ...
Cornelia Bayich: Perhaps this is your case. Usually they turn to us when other doctors have failed to help, that is, at the very end of the chain. Or they come to us, wanting to combine allopathic and homeopathic treatment. Such a combined method is very common. For example, in the treatment of oncology in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred it is used. We look at the patient’s medical history and sometimes we suggest that he only use allopathy, and only then, perhaps, we connect homeopathy. We approach each strictly individually.
That is, it is impossible to understand which treatment worked: normal or homeopathic?
Cornelia Bayich: I have already said that in most cases the patient comes to us after not quite successful allopathic treatment. But when homeopathy joins this treatment and the result improves, it means that we are helping. If the treatment was combined from the very beginning, then it is difficult to say that it turned out to be more effective.
Is it true that most homeopaths are against vaccines?
Cornelia Bayich: Not true. We believe that vaccination should be strictly individual, because some people do not tolerate it. But vaccination has proven its worth, and we are not against it.
Can a homeopathic remedy become poison?
Cornelia Bayich: This is possible if the patient incorrectly uses products containing toxic substances such as belladonna or mercurius. But in Germany you can not buy them without a prescription.
With German thoroughness
Good. Does a homeopathic doctor have to have a basic medical education?
Cornelia Bayich: Of course! A person must first get a diploma of an ordinary physician - a therapist, a surgeon, a pediatrician, an anesthesiologist, and only then he has the right to supplement his qualification, having studied for a homeopath for another three years. This is the official legal practice. Then, for five years, the doctor who has received the certificate of homeopath must attend lectures and seminars, otherwise he will not be renewed work permit. Today we have over seven thousand such doctors in Germany. And half of them belong to our association, founded almost two hundred years ago here in Kothen, in the house of Samuel Hahnemann.
Cornelia Bayich: We are dealing with a phenomenon that is not yet fully understood.
Do OMS policies cover homeopathic treatment costs in Germany?
Cornelia Bayich: We have two structures: the National Health Insurance System and private insurance companies. As for the first, it covers up to ninety percent of the country's population, and within this state structure, we have contracts for homeopathic care for eighty percent of the insured. If we talk about private insurance companies, they all pay for treatment from homeopathic doctors.
I heard somewhere that it is in Germany that the requirements for certification of homeopathic medicines are too low compared to allopathic remedies. This is true?
Cornelia Bayich : According to our legislation, homeopathy refers to special therapy. Therefore, all drugs are also under special registration. You can use only those drugs that are in the list of the Chamber of registration of drugs and the benefits of which are proven. There is also a Research Institute that is studying all new drugs. I would refrain from calling certification requirements understated, they are just different, as well as other requirements for herbal medicine and traditional medicine that have been used for hundreds of years have proven their worth and safety.
How many medical faculties in Germany train homeopaths?
Cornelia Bayich: In Germany, teaching homeopathy in medical faculties is widespread. I am not ready to give the exact number now, but I think that at least half of them can offer a specialization in homeopathy.
Is it possible, on the basis of what was said, to assume that homeopaths in Germany have no opponents?
Cornelia Bayich: Six years ago, there was a wave of negative articles in newspapers, but the more they scolded, the more patients we became. 65 percent of the German population used homeopathic services. And in the world this indicator is constantly growing. I could tell you many authoritative people in various fields who are supporters of homeopathy. These are members of royal families, show business stars, and famous sportsmen. By the way, now, when problems with doping have started in big-time sports, many athletes began to use homeopathic preparations to restore their strength. Among them are the winners and prize-winners of the Olympic Games, world championships. And the players of the leading clubs of the Bundesliga - as well.
By the way
Having caught myself wanting to tell Frau Cornelia Bayich the details of my own ailments and ask for her advice, I realized that I had to say goodbye. And the conclusions of these notes, too, did not. Let everyone make them for himself.
One of the documents of the regulatory framework for homeopathy in our country.