Re: Homeopathic medicine

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 54, No. 4, May 2012, Pages 169-170 Letters

Dr Wong’s comments about homeopathy [Homeopathic medicine (arsenic and aconite) and Health Canada, BCMJ 2012;54:66] in which he quotes himself as a source, contain a number of inaccuracies and misconceptions. The quoted Cardiology 1999 article by Guha and colleagues reports the toxic effects of aconite tincture (italics added), which is not a homeopathic ultradilution. In fact, there are several studies that confirm the safety of homeopathic medicines.[1-4]

An excellent case series report from Israel using homeopathic Aconitum and Arsenicum album 200 CH potency revealed excellent benefit for acute anxiety during emergency room treatment of patients injured in the collapse of a wedding chapel in which 500 people were killed.[5] Eighty-nine percent of patients treated homeopathically re­ported reduced anxiety within 24 hours. 

Several animal and human studies have shown the benefit of homeopa­thic Arsenicum in potentized (diluted and succussed) form in stimulating the excretion of arsenic in poisoned individuals.[6,7] One such study compared the results in two villages in India, one of which had an arsenic contaminated water supply. The published results (and pictures) were quite dramatic.

The effect of homeopathy on a large scale can be seen in the Cuban study of leptospirosis (2007), in which a highly diluted solution of bacteria was given to 2.3 million inhabitants.[8] In response to a growing epidemic, with only 15000 doses of the regular vaccine available, the government decided to use a homeopathic oral medicine prepared from the inactivated causative organism by the Cuban National Vaccine Institute. 

Within weeks of administration, the number of cases fell from the forecast 38 to 4 per 100000 per week, while in the neighboring provinces the incidence was as forecast. Furthermore, there was an 84% reduction (without further medicine) in the treated region in the following year, while the incidence in the untreated region actually increased by 22%. This remarkable study should make Canadian Public Health officials sit up and pay notice.

There have been several meta-analyses supporting the effectiveness of homeopathy, and Dr Wong can find these with minimal effort on the Internet or through the College library.[9-12]
—Stephen Malthouse, MD
Denman Island

Dr Wong responds


1.    Dantas F, Rampes H. Do homeopathic medicines provoke adverse effects? A systematic review. Br Homeopath J 2000;89:535-538. 
2.    Kirby BJ. Safety of homeopathic products. J Royal Soc Med 2002;95:221-222.
3.    Thompson E, Barron S, Spence D. A preliminary audit investigating remedy reactions including adverse events in routine homeopathic practice. Homeopathy 2004;93:203-209.
4.    European Council for Classical Homeopathy. The Safety of Homeopathy. 2009. Accessed 10 April 2012.
5.    Oberbaum M, Schreiber R, Rosenthal C, et al. Homeopathic treatment in emergency medicine: A case series. Homeopathy 2003;92:44-47.
6.    Cazin JC, Cazin M, Gaborit JL, et al. A study of the effect of decimal and centesimal dilutions of arsenic on the retention and mobilization of arsenic in the rat. Hum Toxicol 1987;6:315-320.
7.    Belon P, Banerjee A, Karmakar SR, et al. Homeopathic remedy for arsenic toxicity? Evidence-based finding from a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind human trial. Sci Total Environ 2007 Oct;384(1-3)141-150. Epub 2007.
8.    Bracho G, Varela E, Fernández R, et al. Large-scale application of highly-diluted bacteria for Leptospirosis epidemic control. Homeopathy 2010;99:156-166.
9.    Kleijnen J, Knipschild P, ter Riet G. Clinical trials of homeopathy. BMJ 1991;302:316-323.
10.    Linde K, Clausius N, Ramirez G, et al. Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? A meta-analysis of placebo-controlled trials. Lancet 1997;350:834-843. 
11.    Cucherat M, Haugh MC, Gooch M, et al. Evidence of clinical efficacy of homeopathy: A meta-analysis of clinical trials. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 2000;56:27-33.
12.     Bornhoft G, Wolf U, von Ammon K, et al. Effectiveness, safety and cost-effectiveness of homeopathy in general practice—summarized health technology assessment. Forsch Komplementmed 2006;13(suppl 2):19-29.

Stephen Malthouse, MD,. Re: Homeopathic medicine. BCMJ, Vol. 54, No. 4, May, 2012, Page(s) 169-170 - Letters.

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