Thursday, April 10, 2008

Homocidal about Homeopathy

Via Dr Rant, this Pulse article by Dr Phil Peverley has some really choice quotes. [Emphasis mine.]
This particular lady was not a regular patient of mine and, as it soon transpired, not a great fan of general practice as a whole. She had spent the best part of the last week running to the toilet every 10 minutes to piss a couple of teaspoonfuls of what felt like battery acid.

The bottle of arnica (or whatever the hell it was) had not made any difference. As a last resort, she had consulted her GP.

‘It sounds very much to me like you have a urinary tract infection,’ I told her. ‘We’ll take a urine sample, but in the meantime I’ll give you a prescription for this antibiotic. It’ll probably do the job, but I’ll tell you the day after tomorrow if it’s the wrong one.’

‘It’s a chemical, isn’t it?’ she queried.

‘Well, yes, it is. Like everything else you consume.’

‘I’d rather have something natural, from a plant’ she told me.

‘I’d rather be at home watching telly, but life’s not like that,’ I parried. Her brow furrowed.

‘Why don’t you do homeopathy at this surgery?’ she asked.

I don’t normally get involved in arguments about homeopathy, because people who want to argue in its favour are, by definition, people who cannot manage a rational argument, but she was provoking me.

‘Because it’s a crock of shite,’ I told her.

I had pressed the wrong button. Five minutes later, after a farrago of specious garbage, she asked me why I wasn’t listening to my patients and providing the service they demanded.

‘Because you’re the only one who’s ever asked for it, because it’s ludicrous and nonsensical, and because this is my practice and I don’t want it and won’t have it. Any further questions?’

She didn’t have any, but I could tell she wasn’t happy. I suspect I won’t be seeing much more of her in the future, although I’m willing to bet she took the cefalexin.

Now, some people might think that your humble, free-marketeering Devil should be supporting the "customer" in this instance. However, there are a couple of reasons why I don't.

First, there is a certain amount of training required to be a doctor and, when I go to a trained professional of any stripe—be it lawyer, accountant, whatever—I do so because I want them to advise me, not the other way around.

Second, homeopathy is a crock of shite.


Alan Douglas said...

Devil, you are part right. The doc takes years to train, but if that training has been largely funded by Big Pharma, then what is it they are trained in ? Sadly, a lot of it is in pharma products, to the exclusion of any kind of "natural" alternatives, of which there are many.

IF pharma had so many answers, why do we seem to be getting sicker ? My last major problem (memory) was largely sorted out by vitamin B12, given to me by a chiropractor, not mainstream medicin. I later read in the Telegraph that all older people should be taking B12.

Not that the Telegraph is always right, but this DID solve my problem.

Alan Douglas

Longrider said...

Leaving aside the quack medicine for a moment; the customer is not always right - indeed, from experience I know that they can be they can be very, very wrong. My years as a driving instructor taught me that customers can be irrational and ignorant of the salient facts, with an overblown impression of their own knowledge or skills not reflected by the evidence available to the professional practitioner.

It is, therefore, perfectly reasonable for the supplier to enforce a code of practice or terms of sale. If the customer doesn't like those terms, then they can go elsewhere - which is what I told those people who wanted to use my car for their test when they were patently not ready for it.

That's the free market for you - customers get to choose whether they will buy and suppliers get to choose whether they will sell.

Phil was perfectly correct to do as he did - and, yes, homoeopathy is a crock of shite, so why should he sell it?

haddock said...

Why not jump on the bandwagon by selling distilled water/alcohol/sugar?
If the solution of whatever is diluted so many times that no molecules of the original 'medicine' remains.... just how the hell will people prove that what you sold them is not a cure but just pure water/alcohol/sugar ?

Neal Asher said...

It stems from this weird idea that's taken root in our society that science/chemicals bad but nature is good. It's deluded.

"Obviously the intention of putting these buzz-words on bottles is not to inform, but to blind with science. Perhaps realising this people could then ask themselves why fruit additives are good or why washing with herbs will give you an orgasm? At its root, all this obfuscation is playing on the simplistic idea that natural is good and chemical is bad (This ignores everyday facts of life e.g. because we drink chemically-treated water we are utterly free of natural cholera and amoebic dysentry), which brings me, by a roundabout route, to the incredible ignorance surrounding the word ‘organic’."

Anonymous said...

Being currently employed in the pharmaceutical industry, it is interesting to note that the boys down at R&D are returning to "natural plant-based" sources for medicinal uses. Particularly in the oncology field.

You have to remember that before the likes of Col. Lilly, the Solvay Bros et al. There were no pharmaceuticals available on a wide scale, and people did rely on natural remedies.

Whilst in the case cited, arnaca would not have helped with the ladies cyctitis there are natural remedies that will.

I'm a big fan of kava kava which unfortunately is no longer available in the UK or Europe.

Anonymous said...

There is alternative medicine and alternative medicine. Homeopathy is a scam. It 'works' on the placebo effect. Good luck to patients and practitioners but it does not stand the test of clinical trial.

Most doctors are pill pushers. They do not have the time to diagnose which means listening and considering anything other than a diagnososis that fits 80-90% of cases that appear similar. The devil is in the 20%.

I know far more about my three conditions than does my GP. I do self diagnosis via internet and use also the BMA Medicines and Drugs book. My wife likewise knows far more about thyroid etc than does her GP.

I have low expectation from from GP who does his best in tying circs(5 mins per consultation). I have an annual check up by a Cape Town lady GP. She identified two fairly serious conditions that required immediate surgery - my UK GP having told me not to bother with said items of concern.

Sorry to go on.

Dr Rant said...

The doc takes years to train, but if that training has been largely funded by Big Pharma, then what is it they are trained in ?

What the fuck? I may not be renowned as a free market fundamentalist, but that's a crock of shite.

'Big Pharma' in no way fund undergraduate training, not even indirectly.

The reason we learn about 'chemicals' is becasue they 'work' and we have 'evidence' that they do, and we have detailed and reasonable 'hypotheses' as to why they work and their effects are largely 'predictable'.

Homeopathy on the other hand is the equivalent of 'religion' - it 'works' becasue someone 'says' it does and no one is going to change your mind about that are they, ergo you have a position of 'faith'.

"But it works for me....."

Just remember, the plural of 'anecdote' is 'anecdotes' - not EVIDENCE.

Give me some 'EVIDENCE' and I will prescribe you water.


Anonymous said...

Orthodox medicine works for many ailments, but not all.

Homeopathy works for many ailments, but not all.

Such is my personal experience.

I was completely dismissive of the nonsense that I believed homeopathy to be - on a par with astrology as far as I was concerned.

Then I was, over the course of some months, afflicted with crippling arthritis, couldn't walk, couldn't even chew. Orthodox medicine, up to consultant level, said 'keep taking the pain killers, when you're in a wheelchair we'll look at orthopod surgery.'

This went on for nearly two years, until my wife persuaded me to visit a homeopath as a last resort, and I was too week to resist.

I started to feel better within 3 months, and a further 3 months later I felt human again. No cure was promised, just alleviation. The improvement was maintained, and 20 years later, I seldom have to take analgesics for arthritis.

On the other hand, homeopathy didn't work for another serious affliction, and despite rigorous orthodox investigations, only Internet research provided me with an (orthodox but unusual) medication.

Go figure.

Dr Rant said...


90%+ of the people I see would get better on their own whether they see me or not. Sometimes I can help speed this recovery.

Inflammatory conditions such as the one you describe also go into remission spontaneously.

Might you have got better in those 6 months even without homeopathy?


monoi said...


The placebo effect is very strong, so homeopathy works.

Just not for the reason people believe...

Anonymous said...

The customer may be King - but he is often misinformed.

Anonymous said...

Big Pharma should focus on developing a drug that produces the placebo affect then-we'll all be sorted.

John A said...

Could be worse... a couple of articles, such as -
note that doctors and others in the US are getting paid-for professional credits for courses in things like "laying on of hands" and that because government funding is available some otherwise top-notch medical schools are requiring students take these travesties of courses.

Some "alternate" medicine may work: an honest chiropractor for example (but be careful, the percentage is accursedly small) in some cases. Heck, a massage works short-term wonders.

And the aversion to "chemical" and insistence upon "natural" - I had a co-worker who refused to take aspirin because it was "not natural", and I wanted to point him to a willow tree so he could gnaw the bark and chew the leaves,

Anonymous said...

crackers? You obviously are!

What is it they say about people who defend themselves in court? That hey have a fool for a advocate.

So it is with those who self diagnose. Ignorance truely must be bliss/

Shug Niggurath said...

I'd have thought if she wanted complementary medicine she'd have just went to a health food fucking shop and bought whatever the fuck she wanted.

But in this coddled, everybody's equally correct world, this shite is potentially available on the NHS, and we're all paying for it;

Anonymous said...

Freedom is the right to take whatever medicine you want to under the belief it will make you better; it is also the right to choose what services you want to offer or not offer to other people. She was free to go back to her homeopath.

There's no free market contradiction. Just because a loony wants to buy their meat from the greengrocer is no reason to force the greengrocer to sell meat.

Anonymous said...

My father has been a pharmacist for 20+ years.. he was inspired to go into the field after getting hepatitis and a doctor prescribing pills cured him.

I have neurofibromatosis type 2 and have had 14 operations.

If we are sck, my father usualy recommends both natrual stuff and medicine.. nasal congestion is cured by a hot steam shower followed by pseudophedrin (if you take the pseudophedrin first it will dry up the mucus, therefor the shower wont be as effective in releasing it)

While its try doctors prescrie antibiotics too much, and your uranary tract infection could go away by drinking a ton of water.. who the heck wants the pain? and thats not saying the infection wont get worse ? if your imune system is down you'll have serious health problems...

Bananas, rice, tea, toast all will help and cure diarrhea / vomiting.. but your a moron if you refuse to take pink bismuth.

These are small ailments.. while a stomach virus could cause problems if not treated right (dehydration for one) the medicine taken is to make your life easier.

But, there are many infections and other stuff, that if not treated properly will kill you.

I dont like surgery, ive had 14 of them.. but no homiapathy has helped. I went to this guy 10 years ago, paid 250$ a hour.. his pills acomplished jack.

Anonymous said...

IF pharma had so many answers, why do we seem to be getting sicker ?

Because getting old sucks and bodies wear out, you daft git. Been that way since day one, why does everyone seem to think it'll be different for their generation?

Anonymous said...

SoCalledAlternativeMedicine is neither alternative or medicine. The reason big Pharma got big is because their products work!
Life expectancy now 78 in 1900 50.
And that with all the "poisonous pollution, electromagnetic energy fields, engineered foods" and so on. I may get a second opinion if I think the doctor in their 45 second consult does not get the neccessary information from me-but you know-maybe it is my responsibility to make sure they listen. As far as prefering something from a plant-moonbattery at it's fineist. Science tests SCAM wishes. It is a shame so much time is wasted on antiscience antithought primitivist nonsense. In closing, I feel sorry for the Doctors, professional persons and scientists that have to listen to mouthbreathers and their unresearched recycled rubbish.. Bart

Anonymous said...

There is nothing "alternative" vs "western" or "complementary" vs "traditional" about "works or doesn't work". When the herbalist or homeopath gives you a remedy, he doesn't say "Here, take this. It doesn't work." He is obviously claiming it does work.

Well, if it works, you should be able to get 100 matched people with the same complaint, and give 50 the herb and 50 placebo, and show that the herb group got better and the placebo group didn't. I never seem to see this from herbalists or homeopaths. Where efficacy has been shown, as with saw palmetto, I have prescribed it. Otherwise, it's a crock until you test it.

Dr. Nancy Malik said...

Homeopathy (Micro Doses Mega Results) cures even when Conventional Allopathic Medicine (CAM) fails

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