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"Study gives a boost to homeopathy"

Montreal Gazette

Source: Montreal Gazette

Published: 29 Nov 2021

Category: Other

Rating: (1½ stars)

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

Dr. David Spence is administering arsenic to two unsuspecting females. They love his attentiveness, and, though they don't have any idea what is in the little packets of white powder, they love his medicine even more.

Angela Evans and Deborah Williams both suffer from complaints that years of conventional medicine failed to ameliorate. As a last resort, they were referred to the twinkling Dr. Spence, a homeopath working within Britain's National Health Service.

Evans, 54, had been prostrated by severe migraines two or three times a week since the age of 16. Williams, 35, had endured such an extreme form of pre-menstrual tension (PMT) that for two weeks of every month, she was so irrational, so depressed and so full of rage that it was becoming a strain on her marriage.

Both women's symptoms were cured, and both were part of a six- year study at Bristol Homeopathic Hospital, where Spence is clinical director.

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 3 of 10
Availability of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Not Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Evidence Not Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable
Quantification of harms of treatment Not Satisfactory (?)

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

This is a story about a six-year study in Britain around homeopathic treatments and their efficacy in treating chronic health conditions. It fails on most counts, particularly due to the lack of specific detail about the quality of the research and around the evidence of benefit and harm.

This is disappointing as homeopathy is being embraced by many as providing powerful symptomatic relief for those with chronic conditions and consumers need to be choosing these treatments based on a good assessment of the evidence.

The claim is made that "70 per cent of his 6,500 patients with chronic diseases reported an improvement." Unfortunately, we have no idea which specific diseases may have been tested, what the specific 'microdoses' might have been, nor how 'improvement' was measured. If the results upon which these therapeutic claims are made cannot be provided in more detail, then the article acts as little more than an advertisement for homeopathy, as opposed to a legitimate journalistic report.

One thing that might be misleading is the claim that 'cures' had been achieved in the patients who were suffering from extreme PMS and migraines. If these are genuine 'cures' which can be replicated in other patients with such conditions, that would be a huge advance indeed. One factual note about this article is that the reporter notes that the study was "published this year in The Annals of Pharmacology". There is no such publication that we can find.

The group "Hitting the Headlines" which is part of the National Health Service in Britain, has analyzed the evidence around this report. For readers interested in a more detailed assessment of this study, follow this link:

public forum

(29 Dec 2021) T. Charles Foster writes,

"The Bristol Homeopathic Hospital study---"Homeopathic Treatment for Chronic Disease: A Six Year University-Hospital Outpatient Observational Study" by David S. Spence, et al, is published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine ; this study has no resemblance to the twaddle that MediaDoctor has published as purportedly issuing from the Montreal Gazette."

Media Doctor response,

"I am not sure I understand your comment but thank you for the link which indeed gives a more complete account of one research study into the effects of homeopathy."

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