Sunday, 8 January 2017

A Nobel Prize and Homeopathy

Homeopathy is not my area of specialisation, and I will offer no opinion for or against it. Nor have an opinion.
Since when did a Nobel Laurate, and an admiring public, deem himself to be an authority in every field ? The more one advances in one speciality, the less one actually knows of other areas, as a matter of fact.
"Homeopathy is bogus, harmful: Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan"
Chitra Sharan I would want to know why he said that
Jagannath Chatterjee Did he study homeopathy, did he practice it?
T.R. Shashwath Homeopathy is bogus and harmful is a simple statement of fact. You don't need to be an expert to come to that conclusion. The very mechanism that its supposed to be based on *doesn't exist*.
Aparna Krishnan They say the same about ayurveda . Which i can defend.
T.R. Shashwath Ayurveda, well, there are a couple of factors... It's true that the postulated mechanism in the old texts is humbug, but at least many of the treatments are actually clinically provable, since most of them contain active compounds. I think with a few updates to how they think of the cause of disease and the like, Ayurveda can actually be reasonable.

Homeopathy postulates the extreme dilution of harmful substances as being good for you, and the higher the dilution, the better. They dilute things like arsenic down to the level where there may be 1 atom of the substance left in the "medicine". Basically, it's just sugar water at that point.

That's why it's humbug. It's also harmful, because it prevents people from seeking out actual treatment - even things like Ayurveda, because the placebo effect gives them what feels like temporary relief.
Aparna Krishnan I will respond after you read and understand the Charaka Samhita. A certian detailed theoritical engagement if required to defend or abuse anything.
Aparna Krishnan On the same count, I am unfit to respond to your comments on homeopathy.
T.R. Shashwath That has nothing to do with homeopathy. This is about that, not Ayurveda. Let's keep it separate.

If you want some literature about homeopathy, I'd be glad to dig it up.
Aparna Krishnan T.R. Shashwath No, I am occupied with ayurveda 
T.R. Shashwath My point is, we need to be clear that homeopathy doesn't work. What Venkatraman Ramakrishnan said was absolutely right, and what you said was absolutely not. He's better informed in this case than you are.

Here's some light reading:

Aparna Krishnan I feel a deep engagement is essential.
T.R. Shashwath I don't need a deep engagement to figure anything out if someone tells me that the sun is going to rise in the west tomorrow. There are some things in this world that are just utter bullshit.
Naveen Manikandan Periasamy I agree with T.R. Shashwath except for his assertion that Ayurvedic mechanisms postulated in old texts is humbug. I would like to draw his attention to the nature journal paper where the genetic basis for the Ayurvedic prakriti was decisively established. On the other hand, Homeopathy is suspicious in the face of it and defies reason. Homeopathic proponents have to explain how the process of dilution in alcohol(sometimes a mind bogging 10^32 times)imbues potency to the active ingredients? If this is not possible, then the statistical significance of the efficacy of homeopathic prescriptions should be proven through double-blind tests. The belief in placebo, which may give relief, but only temporarily, can be harmful when the patient is afflicted with serious illnesses.
Aparna Krishnan Well, I refuse to dismiss the mantram treatments in my village. There could be processes that are still not understood fully. Same for homeopathy. Modernity and modern science is not the only validating yardstick. Also, I do not think ayurveda needs to prove itself in Nature and thro' 'genetics' !
Naveen Manikandan Periasamy Aparna Krishnan If one lesser understood traditional or alternative remedy is effective that does not mean all such remedies are effective. Take for example one of the numerous alternative therapies that are springing up in the west as a result of a failed medical establishment - the crystal balls or chakra healing whereby the therapist tries to heal a patient by flipping between lights of different colors. Why you even consider that such treatments have a valid principle behind it? On the other hand, I'm not dismissing Homeopathic(due to numerous testimonies about its efficacy), but just raising suspicions about the claimed metaphysical process of dilution.
Debolina Mukherjee Many people including me and my family and friends have benefitted and continues to be by homeopathy. The people against obviously have not tried. Or maybe didn't respond for some reason which can happen with other medicines also.
Debolina Mukherjee Aparna when I saw the article my reaction was the same as yours. Just because a person gets a Nobel prize in some subject he doesn't become an expert in everything.

T.R. Shashwath Aparna Krishnan "Modernity and modern science is not the only validating yardstick." - what if I told you that homeopathy was invented in 1796? It grew as a response to the horrible state of European medicine in that period - bloodletting, purging, all the things we associate with medieval medicine. A system that actually did nothing at all was a major improvement over one that did actual damage.

All of its hypotheses were written out by a man named Samuel Hahnemann in Germany starting with that year.
T.R. Shashwath Naveen Manikandan Periasamy "If this is not possible, then the statistical significance of the efficacy of homeopathic prescriptions should be proven through double-blind tests." - done and done to death. It has never been proved to have any effect beyond placebo. Here's what the Aussies did:

"Evidence on homeopathy was collected by identifying systematic reviews which evaluated the effectiveness of homeopathy in treating health conditions in humans. In total, 57 systematic reviews were identi ed that contained 176 individual studies. Studies were only considered by NHMRC if they compared a group of people who were given homeopathic treatment with a similar group of people who were not given homeopathic treatment (controlled studies). For each health condition, the evidence reviewers assessed the quality of the systematic reviews using a standard, internationallyaccepted method, and recorded the number and type of studies that were included in the systematic reviews. Using the information provided by the systematic reviews, the reviewers also assessed the quality of each individual study and its number of participants, taking into account factors that could bias the results in favour of homeopathy, placebo or another treatment."

And this is what they found:

"There was no reliable evidence from research in humans that homeopathy was effective for treating the range of health conditions considered: no good-quality, well-designed studies with enough participants for a meaningful result reported either that homeopathy caused greater health improvements than placebo, or caused health improvements equal to those of another treatment."

And they conclude with:

Based on the assessment of the evidence of effectiveness of homeopathy, NHMRC concludes that there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective.
Homeopathy should not be used to treat health conditions that are chronic, serious, or could become serious. People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness. People who are considering whether to use homeopathy should rst get advice from a registered health practitioner. Those who use homeopathy should tell their health practitioner and should keep taking any prescribed treatments."

Similar results from the US and UK.

I think, at this point, we can put this to rest. Homeopathy does not work.
Mythili Ramesh It is just simply, stupid to denounce a system unless you become an authority on the subject commented about that too if you are a person whose words have weight in society
Aparna Krishnan Yes, simply stupid.
Naveena CK I took some homeopathy treatment for excess phlegm. It has worked better than allopathy
T.R. Shashwath Possibility 1: you just got better without any help.
Possibility 2: placebo effect.

Study after study has proven quite conclusively that homeopathy *doesn't work*. Its foundational theory doesn't work.
Naveena CK I don't agree. There was a tangible effect immediately after I took that medicine. In fact I wasn't able to sleep in the night before that. Whatever the medicine the Homeopathic Doctor gave worked like a magic immediately. In fact Allopathy has let me down very badly in case of my phlegm.
Naveena CK I had difficulty in breathing. It can't be a placebo effect 
T.R. Shashwath Apart from anecdote not being the singular of data, what you say could have come around due to many different things. Maybe it was the allopathic medicine (god, I hate that word - it's just medicine) finally acting. Ever thought of that?

Homeopathy doesn't work, and it's bloody dangerous. I may sound dogmatic, but if I'm going to be dogmatic about anything, it might as well be science...
Naveena CK Okay. I don't know much about that. But from my own experience, it was not such a bad medicine. Allopathy hasn't worked for my phlegm. I have given up on that.
Palanivelu Rangasamy If this man has really made such statement, it is a proof that Nobel prize can be given to idiots too. During my late 20s and early 30s I was so badly down with frequent cold and sinus. I tried all means available, but the definite relief came through a homeopath. The tragedy is that the persons like this Nobel laureate are prisoners of myopic paradigms and feel a threat from alternate systems which may hit them below the belt.
Naveen Manikandan Periasamy Sir. I have heard many testimonies for homeopathic remedies and I do not doubt their sincerity. But, there are many processes, some understood and others not, which may create a illusion that homeopathic prescriptions are effective. Apart from placibo, there is a possibility that putting a stop to allopathic prescription with harmful side-effects and toxins could enable the body to kick in it's innate healing mechanisms to take care of minor illnesses. While I agree that mainstream medics and scientists exhibit an attitude of derisive hand-waving dismissal of traditional medicine, Prof. Venky is a honest critique from the point of view of the scientific education that shaped his worldview. The problem with homeopathy is that the claimed mechanism for improving potency of active ingredients by dilution has not been proven and steps into the realm of metaphysics.
Aparna Krishnan so ? what is wrong with metaphysics. and what is right with only modern science !
Naveen Manikandan Periasamy Sir. I have heard many testimonies for homeopathic remedies and I do not doubt their sincerity. But, there are many processes, some understood and others not, which may create a illusion that homeopathic prescriptions are effective. Apart from placibo, there is a possibility that putting a stop to allopathic prescription with harmful side-effects and toxins could enable the body to kick in it's innate healing mechanisms to take care of minor illnesses. While I agree that mainstream medics and scientists exhibit an attitude of derisive hand-waving dismissal of traditional medicine, Prof. Venky is a honest critique from the point of view of the scientific education that shaped his worldview. The problem with homeopathy is that the claimed mechanism for improving potency of active ingredients by dilution has not been proven and steps into the realm of metaphysics.
Aparna Krishnan I understand. But people have told me that vata, pitta, kapha are metaphysical ! That they cannot be seen under the microscope.
Naveen Manikandan Periasamy Some atheists make ridiculous arguments like MK's quip about Rama's lack of engineering degree to construct the Ram Setu. Such people who live under the delusion that they are intelligent just by the virtue of being an atheist need not be taken seriously. But, the concerns about traditional medicine raised by genuine critics like PAK Sir for example, need to be taken seriously.
Palanivelu Rangasamy Flying machines, ships, etc. were all initially conceived by philosophers centuries before they were actually constructed by engineers. The father of modern medicine himself was a philosopher basically. We have failed to understand the history and context of philosophy. That is the reason why science has potentially failed to be objective. Moreover, the methods of allopathy is such that it can never make one totally healthy. Allopathy can only make us to vegetate for some more years. Being healthy is a different dimension altogether. Allopathy is incapable of providing that. Prof Venky may be sincere and committed, but committed to what!
Aparna Krishnan

Write a reply...
Prabha Krishnan He's a coconut. Brown outside white within. Here to teach science to the darkies.
Prabha Krishnan In UK a dairy farmer added homeopathic drops to the water for the cows. They had mastitis. If the farmer had used antibiotics it would have got into the milk. The cows all recovered. They could not have thought themselves better hence no so-called placebo effect.
Prabha Krishnan Shashwat just do outcome research.
Aditi Jayakar Kane My mom's terrible ezcema only responds to homeopathy. No ayurveda or allopathy could relieve it. So not nice to denounce something. Stick to what works for you and let others stick to what works for them!
Aparna Krishnan But no one is telling our Nobel Prize awardee that !!
Aditi Jayakar Kane I think we all are in our own way 
Aparna Krishnan
Write a reply...
Senthil Sundaram There have been multiple outcome studies that have been conducted in Australia, UK, Swiss that concluded Homeopathy is no more effective than placebo. Here is one such link.

Can any one point to a large scale study that shows Homeopathy is effective?
Shobha Krishnaswamy Actually, i am surprised he made such an "old school" statement. Now, more than ever people are realising the merits of tradional medicine and remedies especially with lifestyle illnesses. Allopathy worked with infectious diseases but has failed for modern day ailments. Researchers are looking at Ayurveda for Alzeimers, Parkinson's cures as only this system "cures". The more i read the more i realize todays allopathy is "pharma company driven marketting".
Aparna Krishnan I know. People these days have no sense of their own. They lap up 'Nobel laurate' opinions as manna from heaven.
Mekhala Gee but why give so much importance to one Nobel laureate's opinion? its okay to disagree...
Gopal Krishna Iyer It is preposterous to say that homeopathy is bogus.I have tried for my gall bladder stone and was advised surgery . homeopathy treatment cured me within a week.Let the noble laurate confine to his science and not his limits to other areas
Nitesh Bhasker  Agree. The opposition to homeopathy by the scientific community is merely based on its emphasis that a dilution containing no molecule of the active substance is impossible to have any effect and that it works on the placebo effect. If that had been true any idiot prescribing placebos would have generated success. Only those who have tried homeopathy and ayurveda know very well that for functional and chronic disorders both these systems are quite superior to conventional allopathy which hardly has answers in such cases. To those who are suffering from illnesses it hardly matters how a medicine works so far as it is helps. Modern medical practitioners spend huge time and money looking for a classical diagnosis and when it is achieved they almost offer nothing.
Senthil Sundaram The opposition to Homeopathy is not just based on the "dilution" effect. There have been multiple double blind studies done which proved that Homeopathy is not any more effective than placebo. You can find results of one such study here

I am open and would be pleased if some one can point to a large scale study that shows the effectiveness of Homeopathy based on real outcome. Many have narrated individual experiences, but that is not proof enough. I have many individual stories where Homeopathy did not work for Eczema, Allergies etc.

Medical experts tested research and treatments for 68 conditions and found they had no impact
Nitesh Bhasker Please wait for a detailed response.
Nitesh Bhasker The scientific community and those who follow it dogmatically suffer from an arrogance rooting from a tendency to apply all of its theories and methods universally. Cognizant of the fact that even in terms of their strict and pure methodology they have not reached omniscience, they are disdainful of disciplines that in contemporary times appear lower in status to them. Hence they are ever-ready to launch misinformed offensives. For example the offensive to put homeopathy to scientific trial by 'double blind placebo trials' is not fair to the discipline merely because homeopathic medicines are based on an individual’s profiles and his overall symptoms. Hence merely detailing a list of medicines for a particular aliment and prescribing it in any manner may not produce a result. Homeopathic medicines do not work like other active substances and largely they try to trigger a response in the patient. Once an individual begins responding, he tends to get habituated to that remedy and the response diminishes. Hence homeopaths tend to lower the frequency of the remedy and increase its potency. Other methods specific to their knowledge of the discipline are also applied which does not correspond to conventional scientific thought or may appear absurd to those outside the discipline. Responses vary according to individuals and treatment method. Hence to put a discipline to trial by methods specific to another may be a bogus method of analyzing the true potential of the same. Those who view homeopathy from their scientific perspective tend to be looking for the active ingredient. That will always remain an elusive mystery to them because many homeopathic medicines in its undiluted form do not work for specific functional and chronic disorders but only the higher dilutions do. It is indeed possible to tell whether a particular system of medicine is effective by considering the individual’s experience because it is the individual who presents with certain symtoms and he is who has to be treated. What use is a particular system extremely particular and pure in classification of diseases and its diagnosis when all it seeks to achieve is to establish itself over all others, position itself to be supreme and not treat the individual. Anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, anti-allergics, and all other anti…s many times alleviate only the symptoms and does not eliminate the underlying disorders. So should they be considered fraud and said to only fool patients. ? Should that be a criteria to determine the potential and efficacy of conventional medical science. ? It’s like saying treat me with respect else I shall put you to double blind placebo trials. In any case for the individual a particular system, whether legitimized or delegitimized, will be considered useful if it treats him. Homeopathy has therefore withstood assaults by modern medical practitioners for two centuries and its popularity remains intact. I am neither a practitioner, nor a proponent of homeopathy, but have merely replied to your above comment.
Senthil Sundaram Thanks for your response Nitesh. I am not biased towards Homeopathy or Allopathy and I am merely trying to understand using the tools that I know of.

You have indeed brought up a good argument that Homeopathy uniquely treats the individual rather than the disease. Therefore the double blind trials are not an appropriate way to measure Homeopathy's efficacy. This is a valid argument, but then to prove Homeopathy's efficacy, one has to do an elaborate survey that is quite hard to pull off. Selective individual experiences do not suffice. One has to look at all the successful and failure cases in real life Homeopathic treatments and come to a conclusion. I wish there was a study like that. Till then such doubts and questions will linger.

Let us not bring Allopathy into the discussion. This is not about Allopathy vs Homeopathy.
Sandeep Handa I know a homoeopathy third generation practitioner, where two generations have practiced homoeopathy after undergoing full fledged medicine at AIIMS, post grad at institutes in US, Canada and UK, and practice in North America and Europe, as a precursor to taking up homoeopathy practice. I And many family members have immensely benefited. In one case, a cousin of mine was supposedly being treated for an untreatable conditioned for nearly 15 years. He could not attend school regularly due to the condition. He has been completely cured. According to this doctor, though, this patient never suffered the conditioned he was being treated for, so the allopathic diagnosis was either incorrect, mal intentioned.
I And me family swear by homoeopathy. Only, my personal opinion, like anything else, if the various streams of medicine can join hands, as this practitioner I have written about, it can result in wonders for the patients
As for the studies pointed out above, I am sure these must have been sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, and hence loaded.

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