In Search of Evidence

Learn about Cuba's success with homeopathy!

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Homeopathy, Physics, and Barcelona

So I’ve just returned from Barcelona, where the homeopathic research community congregated last weekend, for what proved to be a spectacular meeting of the minds at the 1st ever Homeopathic Research Institute Conference.  Scientists and researchers from all over the world presented their findings and theories, some of which – if true – could truly revolutionize our concepts of medicine and physics. They also managed to prove that homeopaths and scientists know how to have a really good time. Though honestly if you can’t have a good time in Barcelona then you really shouldn’t be allowed in.

I had the pleasure of presenting a short assembly (an unfinished piece) to a highly discerning audience. I was extraordinarily nervous about the prospects of presenting it to some of the most brilliant minds in homeopathy. Thankfully I received a warm if not glowing response from the audience. I received several requests to show the film in educational settings, and tonnes of people asked me where they could get their hands on my little video. Well I told them what I’m telling you – if you make a teeny weeny donation of $25 or more I’ll send you your very own link to the video which tells the story of a massive homeopathic profylaxis intervention in Cuba.  Just click here!

But of course, as is always the case with homeopathy, I’m left with more questions than answers. Luckily I’ve met some people who are willing to share their wealth of knowledge on this journey. A few of whom I was blessed to meet in Spain.

Martine Jourde, Gustavo Bracho, Ananda and Stephan Baumgartner

Martine Jourde, Gustavo Bracho, Ananda and Stephan Baumgartner

There were so many fascinating presentations. Being interested in the inner workings of the universe I was particularly interested in a peculiar effect that several scientists had observed in their work. Something they called transference. What is that you ask? Well more than one person claimed that remedies seem to affect living organisms from a distance. And to top of the Freaky voodoo-like effect, water placed next to a homeopathic remedy seems to take on the characteristics of the remedy. And guess what, it’s been observed repeatedly in laboratory situations.

Keynote speaker Dr. Stephan Baumgartner, a physicist from the university of Bern, presented a simple experiment he conducted on wheat seedlings. He placed wheat seedlings linearly next to a vial of homeopathic remedy, arsenicum album 45X which he potentised by hand in his lab. He discovered that the seedlings closest to the remedy showed a decrease in growth, and were affected to a greater extent than those furthest away from the remedy. This force could affect clinical and laboratory outcomes in relation to homeopathic research. The implications are that since physical contact with a remedy may not be required to feel its affects. So presumably, individuals in a placebo or control group could still be affected by the action of a remedy.

Dr. Gustavo Bracho, an immunologist from Cuba, presented a study about homeopathic dilutions of a plant extract with anti-tumoral properties. He discovered completely by accident,that if he stored water (for his control / placebo group) next to a homeopathic dilution of the extract, the water would take on the same properties as the remedy. He found that at specific potencies or dilutions, the homeopathic remedy would have a toxic effect on tumor cells. If the water was kept at a distance from the remedy it would not demonstrate the same effects. Hmm I wonder if this could be affecting homeopathic research by contaminating placebo and control groups.

Later on, while navigating the complex subway system in Barcelona I got to have an intimate chat with Dr. Baumgartner. He explained that this may be evidence of a field that affects living things – similar to a gravitational or magnetic field.  He started by explaining that Hahneman had envisioned such a field when he spoke of a spirit-like force in the Organon. He clarified that the Organon was poorly translated in English. Hahneman was not referring to a spiritual energy or soul, but rather something that could act invisibly like gravity or electricity.

I was concerned about the storage of my remedies. If these observations were correct, couldn’t they contaminate each other if stored in the same cabinet? He compared a remedy to a permanent magnet. The magnet can create a temporary effect on another object, however if that object already has it’s own magnetic field it cannot be changed by another magnetic field. Likewise if a remedy is already imprinted, it cannot be affected by another. We arrived at our destination and the topic of conversation rapidly changed as the spires of La Sagrada Familia rose before us. So word of warning to homeopaths, and homeopathic aficionados out there – make sure you keep your blank pellets and water far away from your remedies.

New Title New Team

Hi everyone!

In Search of Evidence is now developing a new team and new title. Please stay tuned for a new website. We have some very exciting new developments!

First Ever Comprehensive Review of Homeopathic Veterinary Studies Published

First Ever Comprehensive Review of Homeopathic Veterinary Studies Published

Here’s a link to the first ever comprehensive review of homeopathic veterinary randomized control trials.

animalsAfter sifting through 150 records the researchers identified 38 trials that met the set standards for the study, (meaning the trial gave a substantive report of a clinical treatment or prophylaxis trial in veterinary homeopathic medicine randomised and controlled and published in a peer-reviewed journal)

27 different species are presented in the review.

They have come to no conclusions yet. So why is this significant? Because the American Veterinary Medical Association proposed to ban the use of homeopathy by veterinarians, limiting free choice in the treatments individuals want to use (regardless of whether there is evidence for their effectiveness). Because many say placebo doesn’t apply to animals. The future of this meta-analysis could be significant in this search for evidence.

New Study shows Cocculine not better than placebo in treating chemo induced nausea

So here’s an interesting article by Edzard Ernst with the results of a new trial funded by Boiron in the use of cocculine (a Boiron product for nausea) showing that cocculine was no better than placebo in treating nausea in chemo patients. http://edzardernst.com/2013/02/a-new-and-refreshingly-rigorous-trial-of-homeopathy/

“Rigorous studies of homeopathy are a bit like gold dust; they are so rare that we see perhaps only one or two per year. It is therefore good news that very recently one such trial has been published.

This randomized, placebo-controlled study tested the efficacy of a complex homeopathic medicine, Cocculine, for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) in non-metastatic breast cancer patients treated by standard chemotherapy regimens…

COCCULINE

In total, 431 patients were randomized: 214 to Cocculine (C) and 217 to placebo (P). Patient characteristics were well-balanced between the 2 arms. Overall, compliance to study treatments was excellent and similar between the 2 arms. A total of 205 patients (50.9%; 103 patients in the placebo and 102 in the homeopathy arms) had nausea scores > 6 indicative of no impact of nausea on quality of life during the 1st chemotherapy course. There was no difference between the 2 arms when primary endpoint analysis was performed by chemotherapy stratum; or in the subgroup of patients with susceptibility to nausea and vomiting before inclusion. In addition, nausea, vomiting and global emesis scores were not statistically different at any time between the two study arms.

The authors’ conclusions could not be clearer: “This double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomised Phase III study showed that adding a complex homeopathic medicine (Cocculine) to standard anti-emetic prophylaxis does not improve the control of CINV in early breast cancer patients.”

Homeopaths might argue that this trail did not follow the rules of classical homeopathy where treatments need to be individualised. This may be true but, in this case, they should campaign for all OTC homeopathy to be banned. As they do not do that, I suggest they live with yet another rigorous clinical trial demonstrating that homeopathic remedies are pure placebos.”

It’s good to see Boiron publishing studies that show a negative result. However as any skeptic would tell you when it came to studies one study alone is not statistically significant. Can we deduce from this study that all of homeopathy is bogus or is it more logical to assume that cocculine as a product doesn’t seem to work in chemo induced  nausea?

I worry when we make blanket statements on either side of the equation. When the skeptics see a trial that shows homeopathy to be effective they say it wasn’t rigorous, or it isn’t statistically significant as it hasn’t been replicated. Well the same goes for the other side of the coin – one study does not a certain conclusion make.

However I do think the result is significant as it was partially funded by a homeopathic pharmaceutical. If you’re not familiar with the wonky science that comes from the pharmaceutical industry than check out this great Ted Talk with another highly vocal homeopathic skeptic, Ben Goldacre

Stand By Me and I promise I won’t eat you!

Help us get back to Cuba to continue filming go to our donation page and please share with your friends!

http://insearchofevidence.org/donate/

Scorpion Hunting

So much time has passed since I promised part 2 of our Cuban filming journey, and so as I plan our next trip to Cuba this coming September I reminisce about our adventures in February.

I left off on our arrival in Havana, where we had a few days to wait around for our journalist visas. After cavorting for several days at ICAIC, the famous film school near Havana (enjoying their pool, coffee bar, and generous buffet lunch)we got our newly minted, fresh from the press certificates of authenticity and we were off to film our new adventures.

Labiofam is an enormous Cuban company that makes everything from pesticides and cleaning supplies to yogurt. The reason they’ve entered the story is because they are making a name for themselves in natural health products and of particular interest to me, homeopathic cancer treatment. And let me tell you it all seems pretty impressive!

By taking a traditional cuban medicine – the venom of the indigenous blue scorpion – and diluting it into a homeopathic 30C potency they are on the foreground of cancer treatment in Cuba. Their remedy, Vidatox 30CH is sought out around the world for its alleged anti-inflammatory, anti-tumoral, and analgesic effects.

My film crew and I wanted to get to the bottom of this and had the chance to experience the making of this remedy first hand. From hunting and the crusty little buggers under rocks in remote parts of Cuba, to seeing how they are kept for 2 years in scorpion farms where they are milked for their venom on a monthly basis. My respect for this feared little creature has increased considerably.

We got to meet with patients and doctors at Labiofam who claim that they have close to a 95% effectiveness rate with the remedy. Unfortunately at this time I still haven’t received any real data from clinical trials or retrospective studies. They were very secretive with their data.

I put together this video so you can get an idea of our adventures with the scorpions. I warn you I am not an editor and have no idea how to put together a video, this is my first attempt at using Adobe Premiere. But hopefully you enjoy nonetheless.

Stay tuned for the next blog entry where I’ll discuss my interview with the Cuban Mother Theresa

A belated Update form Havana

So this was filmed about a month ago – I get to tell you all about the heartaches of filming in Cuba :)

Our February Journey to Cuba Part One

So it’s been almost 2 weeks since my return from Cuba, and this last trip was certainly an adventure! But where to start? Well I’ll break this up in to 2 segments so as not to overwhelm anyone including myself.

I guess it all began with my arrival through the Holguin airport where I was applauded on my profession (homeopath) and lectured on why I shouldn’t put my remedy kit through the x-ray machine. After years of traveling and fighting with security agents to please hand check my remedies it was a welcome breath of fresh air.

Our crew minus Marie who took the picture

I had a wonderful crew filming with me. 2 Cubans – my location producer Claudia and sound man extraordinaire Ariel. Dr. Gustavo Bracho from the Finlay Institute – who would also qualify as a Cuban if he wasn’t decked out in a t-shirt and hat emblazoned proudly with the word Canada and a camera around his neck (if anyone would give us away as tourists it would certainly be him). And Marie my director of photography and fellow Canadian conspirator.We came to Holguin in order to learn more about the leptospirosis intervention that took place in 2007 and 2008. We were particularly interested in 2008 as an earthquake ravaged the area, blew away people’s homes and made people very susceptible to disease, particularly lepto.

The first place we visited was The Provincial Homeopathic Centre and it’s founder and director Dr. Esperanza Gilline. She greeted us warmly, and treated half the members of the crew with homeopathy, they were rapidly being converted to the dark side (insert evil laughter here). This centre  is where homeopaths in the area send their difficult cases that they’re struggling with. Imagine having access to that kind of resource! And of course everyone receives their treatment for free. Dr. Gilline is a trove of experience and information, eager to help anyone in need. I will certainly continue to consult with her on my difficult cases.

Dr. Gilline and Ananda

Dr. Gilline and Ananda in front of the Provincial Homeopathic centre

Here  I learned about a Hepatitis A epidemic that was successfully ended with homeopathic remedies. They don’t like to talk about this project too much because of the way Hep A is diagnosed in Cuba. As it’s an expensive test it isn’t frequently used so they diagnose Hep A by eliminating other diseases. Apparently this may not hold up to scientific scrutiny, so even though their experience was positive they aren’t able to publish or talk freely about this information. So I wonder of course if this is valuable information or if every bit of experiential data needs to stand up to extreme scrutiny. Is there value in learning from experience?

That was something I learned on this trip – there is a culture of secrecy in Cuba, many questions that seemed completely benign turned out to be hot topics and few people were willing to tell me that they couldn’t answer – instead they would talk in circles leading nowhere. I did encounter some brave souls who were willing to talk frankly with me and explain why certain things could not be talked about.

This culture of secrecy was especially prevalent in the province of Holguin. There is also a high level of mistrust in that city, and though we managed to get our filming permits for the city of Holguin from Havana, the local government gave us the run around in approving the permits. Eventually granting them orally which seemed a little fishy. Until they were granted we very careful and covert while filming. Agents of the “Poder Popular” would wriggle their way into our interviews, and we were followed as well. Eventually they managed to stop our filming for having the wrong visa, and hence we lost a few good days of filming. We were asked to appear at the immigration office where every member of our crew (except our soundman who felt left out) was interviewed – or perhaps I should say interrogated individually. They eventually realized that we weren’t a threat, our intentions were noble, and our new visas were quickly granted.

Covertly filming

Operation covert filming

So back to our adventures: The next place that was important for us to check out was the town of Banes. Just getting there was an adventure. It took us it took us 6 hours to cover the 1.5 hour trip. as our ancient bright blue Chevy kept breaking down.

broken down on the side of the road

Broken down on the side of the road

Banes is the birthplace of Dr. Bracho as well as an important area for the leptospirosis intervention. But what really drew us there was how hard hit they were by Hurricane Ike in 2008. At a time when the rest of the country found itself with a leptospirosis epidemic, in the town of Banes there were no epidemics of leptospirosis or hepatitis. They attribute this to the use of homeopathic prevention or homeoprophylaxis. Homeopathic remedies were given to 2.4 million people in the area, and the people of Banes was amongst those to receive what they believe to be life saving medications. We interviewed people on the street and in their homes and even found people who having gained faith in homeopathy have continued to use it for their children and their families.

So besides the compelling evidence from the Leptospirosis study published in the journal Homeopathy, I discovered that people here had a profound belief and faith in what they perceived to be the medicines that helped save their lives. They had no doubts. Not a single person I spoke with in Banes. Not to say that people didn’t have other complaints. We heard from people whose homes had not been rebuilt since the hurricane, who lacked the money to rebuild their lives and had received little government assistance. So I feel people were being honest with us and not just saying “the right thing” for the camera.

We heard personal tales of what living through the terror of the hurricane was like, and how they survived and rebuilt in the days following Ike’s arrival. We were even given home videos filmed during the hurricane. The community came together to support each other, house the neighbours who had lost their homes, help clean up the town and assist each other in reconstruction.

So in part 2 I’ll be talking about our time in Havana, the Finlay Institute’s new labs, scorpion hunting and our experience with Vidatox, a cancer remedy. Stay tuned.

Evidence for Homeoprophylaxis?

Dr. Isaac Golden is an Australian Homeopath who has focused his work and studies on homeoprophylaxis (HP), or using highly diluted homeopathic preparations to prevent disease. He’s been collecting data on the long-term effectiveness and safety of HP since 1985 when he originally developed a 5 year program for the long-term prevention of targeted infectious disease.

In 2004 Dr. Golden completed his Doctoral research on homeoprophylaxis. His work is the basis for the homeoprophylaxis programs in Cuba, and so I think of particular interest to this documentary. I will be meeting in February to interview him for the film.

This is a link to an interview on HPathy http://hpathy.com/homeopathy-interviews/dr-isaac-golden/

Enjoy!

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