The Instigator
alex1094
Pro (for)
Winning
24 Points
The Contender
RationalMadman
Con (against)
Losing
9 Points

Homeopathic remedies are ineffective

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
alex1094
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/27/2012 Category: Health
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,546 times Debate No: 25206
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (33)
Votes (5)

 

alex1094

Pro

My contention is that homeopathically treated medicines or remedies are ineffective at curing the ailment it is advertised for.

The first round is acceptance.

I wish my con, whoever he/she may be, the best of luck.
RationalMadman

Con

I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
alex1094

Pro

I would like to thank RationalMadman for taking another of my debates, hopefully I'll be a little more successful this time.

Dilution

My first point is that the dilution of homeopathic remedies are well beyond any rational standard and make them ineffective.

homeopathic remdies get more effective as they get more diluted.” (1)

This is one of the foundational principles of homeopathy and the reason behind the incredible dilutions. This is a chart I sourced which gives a rough guide to the level of dilution: (2)

X Potencies (Decimal)

C Potencies (Centesimal)

Ratio

Raw Mat.

-

1

1X

-

1:10

2X

1C

1:100

3X

-

1:1000

4X

2C

1:100000

5X

-

1:100000

6X

3C

1:1000000

7X

-

1:10000000

8X

4C

1:100000000

9X

-

1:1000000000

10X

5C

1:10000000000

11X

-

1:100000000000

12X

6C

1:1000000000000

13X

-

1:10000000000000

14X

7C

1:100000000000000

15X

-

1:1000000000000000

The ratio refers to the amount of parts of water in comparison to one part of the actual remedy. “So for example, 6x = 1 part in 10, 6 times. So the final concentration is 1 in 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10, or 1 in 1,000,000.” (1) Please remember that all of this is sourced from homeopathy advocacy websites so none of it is exaggerated. Now I imagine that my con is going to argue that not all homeopathic remedies are on the high end of the scale and that many are probably 1X but this is not true. This website http://www.helios.co.uk... is one of the primary retailers of homeopathic remedies. I entered the shop and went only on remedies beginning with the letter T, the first five had a potency scale range of “6X, 12X, 6C, 30C, 200C” (4) meaning that the least diluted has one part remedy to one million parts water. The most diluted having the ratio of 1:1 x 10-400. I have gathered some analogies together to demonstrate the level of dilution in a more comprehensible way:

8X = The allowable concentration of arsenic in US drinking water. (5)

12C = A pinch of salt in both the North and South Atlantic Oceans (6)

200C = As there are only about 10 to the 80atoms in the entire observable universe, a dilution of one molecule in the observable universe would be about 40C. 200C would thus require 10 to the 320 more universes to simply have one molecule in the final substance. (7)

You may believe a 200C remedy to be rare or non-existent but Oscillococcinum is one, a remedy marketed for flu symptoms, which is sold in more than 50 countries.

As you can see these dilutions are absolutely absurd due to the fact that “Serial dilution of a solution results, after each dilution step, in fewer molecules of the original substance per litre of solution. Eventually, a solution will be diluted beyond any likelihood of finding a single molecule of the original substance in a litre of the total dilution product.” (8) Therefore it is completely illogical and irrational to call homeopathic remedies anything but ineffective and the idea that more dilute substances result in a more effective product is an absurdity.



Water Memory and "Succussion"

These are the two main explanations homeopathy advocates give in response to the question of dilution. The concept that water has some kind of memory is often repeated, this is of course ridiculous because liquid water does not maintain ordered networks of molecules for longer times than a small fraction of a nanosecond. (9) French immunologist Jacques Benveniste published a study in Nature magazine stating that in a double blind study they had found evidence of this water memory but it was later found to be a fraud and Nature published a follow-up report on the issue stating that “the hypothesis that water can be imprinted with the memory of past solutes is as unnecessary as it is fanciful." Subsequent credible research has only corroborated this fact.

Succussion is the second explanation given by advocates of homeopathy, the word itself is medical jargon for shaking the substance. I hardly need to go into why this is a pointless activity, it's quite obvious to even a scientific layman like me that atoms aren't going to multiply or change simply from the act of shaking, they'll just move.



Studies into Homeopathy and Professional Medical Opinions

Studies such as BBC's Horizon (10) and ABC's 20/20 (11) have failed to differentiate homeopathic remedies from water. Those undertaken to prove the effectiveness of homeopathy are often deemed “statistically significant” with positive rates of 5% or something similar, a natural outcome when you consider the play it's making with chance. Unless the studies for homeopathy are double blind you must take into account the tendency for a 'placebo effect' outcome which would of course render the study inaccurate.

Others who have commented on homeopathy include Edzard Ernst, the UK's only professor of complementary medicine, he criticised high street pharmacists for selling homeopathic remedies without informing customers that they contain no biologically active agents and are no more effective than sugar pills. (12) One notable publicity stunt was undertaken by James Randi in which he consumed many boxes of homeopathic sleeping pills to nil effect. There are of course many other studies and articles criticising it, but my 'characters remaining' count is quickly diminishing. The final thing I'd like to point you to is the explanations for the perceived effects, which can of course be explained rationally and separately from the homeopathic treatment. (13)

I look forward to con's response.



Sources

  1. http://abchomeopathy.com...

  2. http://www.remedymakers.com...

  3. http://www.helios.co.uk...

  4. https://www.helios.co.uk...

  5. http://www.news-medical.net...

  6. Emery KO, Uchupi E (1984), The geology of the Atlantic Ocean

  7. Robert L. Park (2008), Superstition: Belief in the Age of Science, Princeton University Press, pp. 145–146

  8. http://en.wikipedia.org...

  9. Cowan ML; Bruner BD; Huse N et al. (2005). "Ultrafast memory loss and energy redistribution in the hydrogen bond network of liquid H2O"

  10. http://www.bbc.co.uk...

  11. http://abcnews.go.com...

  12. http://www.guardian.co.uk...

  13. http://en.wikipedia.org... (sourced from Shelton, Jay W. (2004), Homeopathy: How it Really Works)

RationalMadman

Con

Homeopathy is a system of medicine which involves treating the individual with highly diluted substances, given mainly in tablet form, with the aim of triggering the body���‚��„�s natural system of healing. Based on their specific symptoms, a homeopath will match the most appropriate medicine to each patient.[1]

Homeopathy is based on the principle that you can treat 'like with like', that is, a substance which causes symptoms when taken in large doses, can be used in small amounts to treat those same symptoms. For example, drinking too much coffee can cause sleeplessness and agitation, so according to this principle, when made into a homeopathic medicine, it could be used to treat people with these symptoms. This concept is sometimes used in conventional medicine, for example, the stimulant Ritalin is used to treat patients with ADHD, or small doses of allergens such as pollen are sometimes used to de-sensitise allergic patients. However, one major difference with homeopathic medicines is that substances are used in ultra high dilutions, which makes them non-toxic.[1]

One theory is that during the production of a homeopathic medicine, the dilution and agitation processes cause an interaction between the original material (e.g. a plant such as Belladonna) and the water and alcohol it is mixed with. This creates tiny new structures (nanostructures) which are the ‘active ingredient' and remain present even when the sample has been diluted many, many times.[1]

When assessing the safety of homeopathy, there are two discrete issues to consider the safety of homeopathic medicines and the safety of treatment by a homeopath as a whole. Homeopathy has an excellent safety record on both counts.[2]

One of the main differences between homeopathic medicines and conventional medicines is that the latter are associated with significant toxicity problems. The highly-diluted nature of homeopathic medicines means that they are unlikely to lead to toxic side-effects known as 'adverse drug reactions'.[3]

Several systematic reviews have been carried out to look at the published evidence concerning the rate of adverse events during or after medical treatment, but not necessarily caused by the treatment during treatment by a homeopath.

The most comprehensive study reviewed the evidence from 1970-1995, including clinical trials, case reports and information provided by manufacturers and regulatory bodies.[3]

Adverse effects reported during clinical trials testing homeopathic medicines were found to be mild and transient, for example headaches, tiredness, skin eruptions, dizziness and diarrhoea. These adverse effects occurred more often in the groups given a homeopathic medicine than in the control groups given placebo, which is further evidence that homeopathic medicines are different from placebo.

These true 'side-effects' are easy to differentiate from homeopathic aggravations (brief intensification of pre-existing symptoms sometimes seen soon after taking a homeopathic medicine).[4] When this initial reaction is followed by significant improvement in the patient's symptoms, it is considered to be part of the healing process and therefore classed as a positive therapeutic effect.[5]

A report by the European Council for Clinical Homeopathy reviewed the results of observational studies assessing the safety of homeopathic treatment since 1995.[6] The Safety of Homeopathy, European Council for Classical Homeopathy, January 2009 In 20 studies (covering a total of 7,275 patients) the percentage of patients reporting adverse events ranged from 0-11% (including homeopathic aggravations). No cases of serious adverse events or serious adverse drug reactions were found, in other words cases resulting in hospitalisation, life-threatening situations, persistent or significant disability/incapacity or congenital anomaly/birth defect.

Observational studies are less reliable than randomised clinical trials because they do not attempt to determine precisely what caused any adverse events. However they provide a useful measurement of what happens in real-life practice which can then be considered alongside RCT results to give the fuller picture; in this instance observational results confirm results from RCTs, suggesting that homeopathic treatment is safe and does not result in any serious adverse events.

Risk of harm to the patient in homeopathy arises from poorly qualified or regulated practitioners rather than the practice itself. Registered members of The Society of Homeopaths (RSHom) have met stringent academic requirements, completed a registration process, hold comprehensive insurance and agreed to abide by a Code of Ethics & Practice, providing the general public with a guarantee of safety and competence.[7]

It is sometimes stated that homeopathic treatment may carry ‘indirect risks' of harm by delaying necessary conventional medical treatment.[8] However, in practice it is rare for a patient to seek help who has not already tried everything the conventional approach has to offer. Homeopaths also commonly refer patients back to their GP as the in-depth method of consultation by a homeopath can reveal signs and symptoms that the GP may not have had time to uncover. Professional homeopathic treatment can therefore act as an extra safety net rather than a potential risk.

In common with other members of the European Council for Classical Homeopathy (ECCH), the Society of Homeopaths has a clear and transparent complaints procedure. The ECCH member associations represent over 5,000 practitioners in 24 countries. A recent investigation found that only ten cases of possible unethical practice or malpractice had been reported against practitioners within this membership over the past decade. (The Safety of Homeopathy, ECCH, 2009) Although under-reporting cannot be ruled out, this supports the assertion that homeopathic treatment by well-trained and regulated practitioners is safe.

Sources:
[1] http://www.homeopathy-soh.org...
[2] Kirby BJ. Safety of homeopathic products. J Royal Soc Med, 2002; 95:221–
[3] Dantas F, Rampes H. Do homeopathic medicines provoke adverse effects? A systematic review. Br Homeopath J 2000; 89: 535–8
[4] Endrizzi C. et al. Harm in homeopathy: aggravations, adverse drug events or medication errors? Homeopathy, 2005; 94 (4): 233-40
[5] Thompson et al. A preliminary audit investigating remedy reactions including adverse events in routine homeopathic practice. Homeopathy, 2004; 93: 203-9
[6] The Safety of Homeopathy, European Council for Classical Homeopathy, January 2009
[7] Society of Homeopaths, Code of Ethics and Practice 2004 paragraph 2.2
[8] Sharples F, van Haselen R. Patients�€™ perspectives on using a complementary medicine approach to their health. A survey at the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital NHS Trust. London, 1998

Non-quoted source that I used for research alone.
1) Hitchen L. Adverse drug reactions result in 250 000 UK admissions a year. BMJ,2006; 332:1109
Debate Round No. 2
alex1094

Pro

Thank you Con for your response.

Con's argument is not really an argument, it consists exclusively of sourced material bizarrely asserting the lack of side effects in homeopathic remedies, a fact which only reinforces my claims about their lack of any active ingredient and is completely irrelevant to the matter of how effective they really are. If you have read my first post then you will see the extreme levels of dilution in homeopathic remedies, they consist only of water, therefore it follows that they would no side effects, or any effects at all for that matter.

I mentioned in my previous post the stunt James Randi performed in which he consumed many boxes of homeopathic sleeping pills to nil effect. This kind of stunt has been repeated by the 10:23 campaign with such remedies as 'belladonna' and 'arsenic'. Here is a video link http://www.guardian.co.uk.... Both belladonna and arsenic are extremely toxic when taken even in tiny doses but due to the extreme dilution of the homeopathic remedies there is literally zero effect on the participants. Is it therefore any surprise that there are no side effects?

The only time con really challenged the lack of any active ingredient in homeopathic remedies is when he wrote: “One theory is that during the production of a homeopathic medicine, the dilution and agitation processes cause an interaction between the original material (e.g. a plant such as Belladonna) and the water and alcohol it is mixed with. This creates tiny new structures (nanostructures) which are the ‘active ingredient' and remain present even when the sample has been diluted many, many times.[1]”



This passage refers to the concept of water memory and succussion which I refuted in my previous post but I will address it again. Research published in 2005 on hydrogen bond network dynamics in water showed that "liquid water essentially loses the memory of persistent correlations in its structure" within fifty millionths of a nanosecond. (1) This shows very clearly that the idea of water memory is absurd and is strongly contradicted by our modern knowledge of science. On top of this I'd like to point out that even the homeopathy website which Con sourced this from only regards the explanation as an unsubstantiated theory.



The second marginally relevant point Con sourced is that there have been studies in which a range of 0-11% of patients have suffered very minor side effects such as headaches, tiredness, dizziness. This included 'homeopathic aggravations' which is when you have a certain condition and it flares up when a homeopathic remedy is taken. The conclusion that you are meant to draw from this is that the remedies can't be placebos due to the flaring up of these 'side effects.' Now, I'm not going to patronise Con by going into the list of possible and very reasonable causes of these trivial everyday afflictions. I'm simply going to state the very obvious fact that this range is statistically insignificant and inconclusive due to the play on chance and the prevalence of everyday conditions such as a headache or tiredness. It certainly does not count as any form of evidence for a type of remedy which, if true, would change the face of modern science completely. As Carl Sagan put it “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” and this could hardly be called evidence, let alone extraordinary.



After this point Con simply delves into standards and ethics within the homeopathic community which is completely irrelevant and is copied from the same website which he sourced all of his argument. http://www.homeopathy-soh.org...



Therefore I feel I can very safely say that not a single one of my original points were disputed.



Vote Pro!



Sources

(1) http://www.nature.com...





RationalMadman

Con

Conventional medical drugs can be described simply as chemicals which interact directly with the body's biochemistry; as homeopathic medicines are too dilute to contain molecules of the original substances they are made from, we know that they don't work in this biochemical way and must have an entirely different mechanism of action.[1]

The manufacture of homeopathic medicines involves two processes – dilution and ‘succussion' (a specific form of vigorous shaking). The medicinal substance (for example plant material) is dissolved in water and alcohol, then diluted and succussed many times, often to the point where we would expect there to be no molecules of the original substance left. This has led sceptics to say that homeopathic medicines are ‘nothing but water'.

However current theories in physics suggest that water can store information about substances it has previously been in contact with.[2] One such idea, based on quantum theory, has the potential to explain how ultra-high dilutions such as homeopathic medicines can work.[3] It is thought that the manufacturing process causes an interaction between molecules of the active ingredient (for example plant material) and the water it is dissolved in, creating new structures called ‘quantum coherence domains'. This process effectively imprints information from the active ingredient into the water it is dissolved in, so that even when there are no longer any molecules of the plant left, its characteristics remain in the water.

"Ultra-high dilutions of something are not nothing"
In 2009 Nobel prize winning virologist Professor Luc Montagnier (known for co-discovering HIV) published the results of a series of rigorous experiments investigating the electromagnetic properties of UHDs.[4] His team took samples of biological material such as disease-causing bacteria and fragments of DNA and prepared them by serial dilution and agitation. At dilutions when you would no longer expect molecules to be present (such as 10 to the -12; equivalent to a 6c strength homeopathic medicine) the samples gave off specific electromagnetic signals. The researchers suggest that the electromagnetic signals are produced by ‘nanostructures' created during the preparation process via an interaction between molecules of the biological material and the water it is being diluted with.

In an interview for Science magazine when asked, "Do you think there's something to homeopathy…?" Montagnier replied, "I can't say that homeopathy is right in everything. What I can say now is that the high dilutions are right. High dilutions of something are not nothing. They are water structures which mimic the original molecules."[5]

Experiments have also shown that substances at levels of dilution similar to homeopathic medicines can have biological effects in the laboratory. For example, when the body releases histamine it affects the activity of white blood cells called basophils; in research carried out by a group of European laboratories ultra-high dilutions of histamine added to isolated basophils were shown to affect the cells in a similar way.[6]

Although this research is promising, as homeopathic medicines work in such a different way from conventional biochemical drugs, further research is needed to try to fully understand their mechanism of action.

Although we don't yet know how homeopathic medicines work, homeopaths do know how to use them safely and effectively, which is what really matters to both patients and healthcare providers. We are simply at a stage when our clinical understanding of homeopathy is ahead of our theoretical understanding.

This situation is not unique to homeopathy; we still don't know how a lot of commonly-used conventional drugs work. For example, aspirin was used for decades before scientists began to understand its mechanism of action in 1971 and by 2005 only a few of its biological effects had been investigated.[7]

Experts still don't know how general anaesthetics work either.[8] There are various theories, but none that can fully explain how the drugs bring about loss of consciousness. Despite this fact, anaesthetists do know how to use anaesthetics safely and effectively and no-one would want them to be withdrawn while scientists figure it out!

Sources:
[1] http://www.homeopathy-soh.org...
[2] Bellavite P, Signorini A. The Emerging Science of Homeopathy, 2e. 2002: North Atlantic, Berkeley
[3] Preparata, G. QED coherence in matter. (World Scientific: 1995)
[4] Montagnier L et al. Electromagnetic signals are produced by aqueous nanostructures derived from bacterial DNA sequences. Interdiscip Sci Comput Life Sci, 2009; 1: 81-90
[5] www.sciencemag.org, 6 January 2011
[6] Belon P, Cumps J, Ennis M, et al. Histamine dilutions modulate basophil activation, Inflammation Research, 2004; 53: 181-8
[7] Dr. Karsten Schr�r, Head of the Institute of Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacology, Heinrich Heine University, D�sseldorf. Medical News Today website Oct 2005 www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/31435.php
[8] Pleuvry B. Mechanism of action of general anaesthetic drugs. Anaesthesia & Intensive Care Medicine, 2008; 9(4): 152-3

And that, ladies an gentleman, is why no one can claim homeopathy to be ineffective with any degree of certainty.
Debate Round No. 3
33 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by RationalMadman 5 years ago
RationalMadman
READ THE ARGUMENTS ADONTIMASU JUST READ THEM BullSH!T!!!!!!!!!
Posted by adontimasu 5 years ago
adontimasu
Face it: you lost this debate. :|
Posted by RationalMadman 5 years ago
RationalMadman
I wud beat u up man
Posted by alex1094 5 years ago
alex1094
Actually, as Zaradi just explained, you really didn't.
Posted by RationalMadman 5 years ago
RationalMadman
I tore the case apart.
Posted by Zaradi 5 years ago
Zaradi
What? You think I actually voted for rational? You'd have to be a "madman" to believe that (see what I did there? :3). No I'm just countering out a few of the votebombs. No pro definitely won this debate. All con did was C/P from articles, and never even responsed to pro's case, while pro poked plenty of holes in con's argument. It was kinda funny actually.
Posted by alex1094 5 years ago
alex1094
No, he did it because you copied and pasted your entire argument and didn't write a single original word.
Posted by RationalMadman 5 years ago
RationalMadman
he did it because I had many sources... wtf.
Posted by alex1094 5 years ago
alex1094
I was winning before their votes. The point is I didn't ask anyone to vote for me, which is what RationalMadman asserted. Even a votebomb is fair if the other person has plagiarised their entire argument.
Posted by adontimasu 5 years ago
adontimasu
Actually, Dylan and ldcon's votes are clear votebombs (hell, Dylan himself said it was a votebomb).
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by Zaradi 5 years ago
Zaradi
alex1094RationalMadmanTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments
Vote Placed by dylancatlow 5 years ago
dylancatlow
alex1094RationalMadmanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: If you source bomb I will vote bomb.
Vote Placed by ldcon 5 years ago
ldcon
alex1094RationalMadmanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Homeopathy.
Vote Placed by Stephen_Hawkins 5 years ago
Stephen_Hawkins
alex1094RationalMadmanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: ALL of CON's arguments were stolen, word for word, from giant chunks of other sites. That's not sourcing, that's just copying.
Vote Placed by adontimasu 5 years ago
adontimasu
alex1094RationalMadmanTied
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Total points awarded:42 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro gains conduct because Con continually quoted article after article without putting any of his own words in. Argument goes to Pro, as Con failed to meet his BOP, by his own admission ("Although this research is promising, as homeopathic medicines work in such a different way from conventional biochemical drugs, further research is needed to try to fully understand their mechanism of action."). Sources goes to Con, who had many sources on the topic.