Organisation - February 18, 2010

Letter: antipathy to homoeopathy


I read with mounting astonishment the article (Resource 12) about the study on diarrhoea in pigs and Huub Savelkoul's reaction to it.

Antipathy to homoeopathy
This study was a sound randomized control trial. If it had concerned a conventional medicine, the press would have lavished praise on it. But ... the (extremely) significant results (P = 0.0001!) were achieved with a homoeopathic medicine. HELP! All hands on deck to sweep the results under the table as quickly as possible! Before we know it Wageningen University will once again stand accused of doing research into elves! 
 So what happens? After a brief introduction to the research, Savelkoul gets to tell us why it does not add up.
One: 'Although there are some clinically proven effects of homoeopathic medicines, it cannot work, because WE CANNOT EXPLAIN HOW IT WORKS.' This is rather a mediaeval observation. Fortunately, chemists and nuclear physicists stick to the facts, and it was long ago repeatedly proven that extremely weak solutions bring about a measurable and reproducible change in water.
Two: there would be no end to it if the body constantly reacted to absent substances. A nonsensical remark: Savelkoul has no idea how homoeopathy works, and when you do not know something you had better keep quiet.
Three: Savelkoul explains how RESEARCHERS think the medicine works, which is on antibodies in the milk, and he says that this is not necessary as the diarrhoea in the pigs is not affected by them. WRONG. The researchers do not assume anything about antibodies in the milk. The researchers are well aware that we still know little about exactly how homoeopathy works, so they do not make any statements about this at all. Because the pig farmer reported such excellent results in preventing diarrhoea with this medicine, and because we need to reduce the use of antibiotics, the researchers thought this was important research.
Four: someone had been juggling with the figures. The research would be better if it had been done using more sows and fewer pigs. An interesting remark. Even critical epidemiologists from the dentistry faculty, usually against anything that smells the least alternative, were full of praise for this research!
In a time when it is becoming steadily clearer that we are poisoning the Earth, our plants and animals and ourselves, it is very important that we look for solutions. This research is a good example of doing this, so I would like to invite you to read it for yourself and make up your own mind.
Liesbeth Ellinger, veterinarian