Criticism is mounting in medical and scientific circles over the announcement by a community college that a course in homeopathy will be offered IMAGE-aga7ta/Shutterstock

Scientific anger over college degree in homeopathy

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A number of medical and scientific personnel are expressing their shock at an Ontario Community College.

Starting this fall, Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario, will offer a diploma in homeopathy, a practice the critics says is mere quackery.

Critics say there is no scientific evidence that homeopathic compounds have any effect at all. Clinically unproven claims by makers of homeopathic treatments make them targets for class action lawsuits in the U.S PHOTO :CBC

The critics are also upset that public money is helping fund the three-year course as the community college is publicly funded institution and students can request loans and grants from the publicly supported Ontario Student Assistance Programme.

The critics say the college course is legitimising a pseudo-science. In a 1998 editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association,   Drs Fontanarosa and Lundberg wrote in part; “There is no alternative medicine. There is only scientifically proven, evidence-based medicine supported by solid data, or unproven medicine, for which scientific evidence is lacking”.

Tim Caulfield , University of Alberta professor of Health Law and Policy was outraged to hear of a diploma programme in homeopathy IMAGEl Caulfield -twitter

In an open letter to the local paper the Barrie Advance,  Dr. Chris Giorshev wrote in part that the otherwise respected college “has recently drifted into teaching pseudo-science by introducing a homeopathy program”.

Saying that homeopathy makes no scientific sense he wonders how such a course could “even be delivered ethically” then adds,”A harmful consequence of offering homeopathy at colleges is that it gives it an air of legitimacy. This greater perceived respectability will inevitably lead people to assume, quite wrongly, that homeopathy is a valid form of medical treatment”.

In a PostMedia article, Joe Schwarcz, director of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society is quoted saying, “The real danger in homeopathy is not toxicology — there’s nothing in there,” he added. “The real danger is toxicity to the mind because it can convince people to go down this ridiculous route when there actually might be treatments that can work for whatever condition they have.”
Homeopathy became a licenced profession in the province of Ontario in 2015, which also raised criticism at the time and since as giving some degree of legitimacy to the field.

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12 comments on “Scientific anger over college degree in homeopathy
  1. It is a sad day in Canada when a few rogue medical doctors, most likely funded by Big Pharma are able to intimidate a college into dropping any educational program that was approved by its Board of Directors after much careful research.

    Canada is a pluralistic society and we all deserve the chance to learn what we want, to see for ourselves, to have choice. That is freedom, that is democracy.

    It is also safety. People interested in homeopathy will simply revert to obtaining their training elsewhere, online if necessary. It would be much safer for the public to see a professionally trained homeopath who was mentored by experienced clinicians in a classroom setting, with peers, than someone whose training was purely or mostly done online.

    Homeopathy is far from pseudoscience but a respected medical system with a 200-year history used by 500 million people worldwide.

  2. Stephen Malthouse says:

    It is ironic that the CBC article celebrating the closure of a homeopathic course at Georgian College is reported alongside the CBC’s articles on bullying and the opioid crisis (Georgian College cancels diploma in homeopathy, by Kelly Crowe, Feb 9, 2018). This close-minded, uninformed, and unbalanced journalism, in which only quackbusters are quoted, ultimately promotes the overuse of narcotics by limiting viable options for patients. We really should be applauding the Georgian College for their innovation and commitment to advancing medicine in Canada.

    As a physician, it’s clear to me that there are many conditions in everyday medical practice that are not amenable to conventional treatments, including most pain syndromes. We need a critical, unbiased approach to new therapies such as homeopathy, if we want to get out of this mess. This type of prejudiced journalism only prolongs the suffering of patients, while maintaining the status quo of a mediocre medical system.

    Homeopathy has more than 1000 studies and 300 randomized control trials, of which 45% are positive (45% neutral, 10% negative). The higher the quality of the study, the more likely the results are to be positive. The Australian critique of homeopathy has been completely discredited in scientific circles. Most cynics are hung up on the “implausibility” of homeopathy, and some even make a living from positioning themselves as “real scientists”, when they are not familiar with the research and have never seen homeopathy in practice. Homeopathic medicines are not nothing. Recent research has shown, through electron microscopy and transluminescence studies, that these highly dilute medicines still retain nanoparticles of the original substance, encased in silica from the glass vials in which they are made.

  3. Sandra says:

    A research study entitled “Clinical Characteristics and Treatment of Polyneuropathy Developed after Chemotherapy” addressed the advantage of homeopathy for cancer patients. Patients who had to stop therapy because of the severe & painful adverse effects, were able to resume treatment after homeopathic treatment.

    A sample size of 44 Russian cancer patients who developed chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) were studied. Because of the painful neuropathy these patients had to either have a reduced chemotherapy dose, a delay in treatment or stop their treatment completely.

    “This impairs treatment effectiveness and patients’ survival.” The aim of the
    study was to test the effectiveness of a treatment regimen that “included a
    complex of allopathic and homeopathic drugs, combined with hydrotherapy.”
    This regimen “resulted in a subjective and objective regression of the
    neuropathic symptoms and improved quality of life in all patients. Additionally,
    patients who had to delay chemotherapy were able to restart it.”

    Taxpayer funded health care services and insurers are looking for solutions to rising costs and liability concerns. Research in many countries have shown that integrative medicine, including homeoathy, can address these pressing issues. The research I cited can be found by using the title in a Google search.

  4. Alan V. Schmukler says:

    Such righteous indignation from someone who supports conventional drugs, which are the 3rd leading causes of death in the U.S., and a major cause of death in other industrialized nations. It seems the there is no end to the surrogates of the pharmaceutical industry. Despite the negative propaganda, 100 million people in India depend homeopathy entirely for Dengue fever, Malaria and other serious diseases. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of board certified homeopathi8c medical doctors practice in England, France, Germany, Canada, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Argentina etc.

  5. Fabio Tagetti says:

    Is it ‘ho-moe-opathy’ as spelled in the dictionary above the headline or ‘homeopathy’ according to your spelling?

    Fabio Tagetti Italy

  6. Roslyn Ross says:

    No-one ever explains how, if Homeopathy is quackery, which means fraud, that thousands of doctors around the world, particularly in Europe, opt to spend another 2-3 years training in Homeopathic medicine and then go on to spend decade practising both Allopathic and Homeopathic medicine. How could that happen if it were quackery?

    More to the point, how could any major hospital allow its use, and many do, particularly in Europe; how could any university and even sometimes medical school teach it and how could any Government include it in a State health system?

    • Xavier Kidston says:

      It doesn’t work. Also, if you’re a doctor, and you see some of your patients going to a quack, wouldn’t you take a course in it so that they then come to you instead, and offer them actual medicine? Also the doctors who actually practice homeopathy are ridiculed extremely and even are at risk of losing their license once one of their patients die from it. And it is a once, it’s an inevitability. Homeopathy has no scientific basis, water has no memory, it’s H2O. It’s like saying CFC’s have a memory, and they don’t. It’s a quack profession that prays on morons who think they know everything and never listen to any scientific evidence that contradicts their view point.

    • Alex Murdoch says:

      “No-one ever explains how, if Homeopathy is quackery, which means fraud, that thousands of doctors around the world, particularly in Europe, opt to spend another 2-3 years training in Homeopathic medicine and then go on to spend decade practising both Allopathic and Homeopathic medicine.”
      Let’s get rid of this bad argument first. Many have explained why SOME doctors still prescribe it.
      This is a blatant attempt at appeal to authority and popularity. It’s a bad one at that. You disagree with “allopaths” unless they happen to agree with you. Bad debating technique, Ros.
      Quite simply, many physicians were taught that homeopathy can work, and that even if it didn’t, it made their patients feel better. You know, a placebo.
      Some physicians actually think it works. The evidence says otherwise, but at least their patients are still seeing their doctors and getting actual treatment.
      …and finally, some just don’t care. Sad, but true.
      So there, now you can’t make that argument any more.

      …unless you lie.

  7. Colin Albert Mackenzie says:

    O Canada how could you recognize such quackery?

  8. Dr Sci Guy says:

    Ummm; don’t like it when some of those consumer $$$ goes to anything but big pharma, eh Big Pharma?
    Shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.
    Let’s be clear here; pharmaceutic made it’s living from natural plant compounds. Now it thinks it has the monopoly on plant compounds?
    Yeah, ….no.
    Shove and then repeat.

    • Xavier Kidston says:

      Actually most of pharma made it’s money from bacteria. Not plants. Hell, I can make some insulin right now for about 3000$ start up costs and a single bacteria. You don’t know enough about pharmaceutics to be talking about it.

    • Greg says:

      Herbal remedies are not the same as homeopathy. You’re confused and should get better informed before you embarrass yourself or misinform people.