Memorandum submitted by John Boulderstone
This submission refers to Government policy
on Licensing Homeopathic Products and the Evidence base on homeopathic
products and services.
1. As you are aware there is a lot of controversy
on the internet and in the press about homeopathy. A vast amount
of the problems come from people who think they understand what
homeopathy is but have not checked with the original source. It
is important that the Science and Technology Committee have an
understanding of what homeopathy is and not get their understanding
from ill-informed journalists, websites or "quack-busters"
who distort the definition of homeopathy for their own purposes.
In short a scientific (meaning accurate) definition is needed.
2. Initially, I would like to point out
what homeopathy is not. Homeopathy is not the prescription of
diluted substances. The proof of this, if any is needed, lies
in the fact that initially Samuel Hahnemann administered homeopathic
substances that were not diluted and still called what he did
homeopathy. In fact he gave the same medicines as the orthodox
medical practitioners of the time. What made, and makes, medicines
homeopathic is ONLY the philosophy by which they are prescribed
and NOT that they are diluted.
3. Some journalists, comedians and the "quack-busters"
choose to not understand this fact about homeopathy because it
is then easy to make jokes about it.
4. The misunderstanding of what homeopathy
is runs very deep and some people who call themselves homeopaths
have also forgotten what homeopathy is.
5. Homeopathy is badly defined on websites
and in newspapers. It is definitively defined by its founder Samuel
Hahnemann in his "Organon of Medicine". However, this
book is difficult to read which is why there is so much misinformation.
It is not defined well by Wikipedia.
6. Also, most, if not all, scientific trials
test for the efficacy of potentised substances and these tests
do not test homeopathy. Even so, very often the scientists conducting
these trials believe they are testing homeopathy.
7. What is currently used as an explanation
is the phrase "like cures like". While this is a succinct
explanation and useful for homeopaths, it allows non-homeopaths
to believe the prescribed remedy does the work and not the reaction
from the patient. This then leads to the inevitable focus on the
remedy and its "strength" instead of the way the remedy
is selected. The phrase "like cures like" misleads.
8. A better explanation comes in two parts.
Two parts are needed to emphasise an important point that is missed
in other explanations. The first is: Homeopathy is a prescription
that causes a reaction in the patient; A remedy becomes homeopathic
only when it matches the symptoms of the patient so it is the
act of prescribing that makes it homeopathy. Notice that there
is no mention of dilutions because this is not a requirement for
homeopathy. The second part is: this reaction cures the patient.
9. Reiterating the explanation: Homeopathy
is a prescription that causes a reaction in the patient; this
reaction cures the patient.
10. Allopathy may be explained in a similar
way as: A prescription that removes the problem. Usually using
an anti-drug (antibiotics, anti-depressants, anti-inflammatories,
anti-virals), taking little account of the differences in different
patients. This explanation could be accepted by both homeopaths
and allopaths. And now the difference between the two therapies
can be clearly seen.
11. Therefore, the term "homeopathic
products", used to describe potentised material is misnamed.
Products used by homeopaths vary in strength from highly dilute
to NOT DILUTE AT ALL, they can also be orthodox medicines if they
are prescribed in the correct way. Remember, it is not the substance
or its method of manufacture that makes it homeopathic but the
reason for prescribing.
12. So, to be accurate, scientific and not
misleading the term "homeopathic products" cannot be
used before the products are prescribed. To do so misunderstands
what homeopathy actually is. Instead, the appropriate term may
be "potentised substances". If this distinction between
"homeopathic products" and "potentised substances"
is not made a nonsense will result when looking at the evidence
base and licensing of products.
Declaration of interests: I am a homeopath that does
not prescribe potentised substances.