Monday, 25 July 2011

Animals, Homeopathy and ASA

Many thanks for Oliver Dowding for these thoughts on homeopathy, and the assault it is currently receiving from the vested interests of conventional medicine.

Oliver is not a homeopathy. He is a former farmer who discovered that homeopathy helped his livestock, and treated them successfully for many years with homeopathy.

"Homeopathy is regularly confronted by cynics, sceptics, regulators and goodness knows who-else, trying to deny the efficacy of homoeopathy, and insisting that it be regulated in a manner which emasculates all its benefits.

Now, we find that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have decided that qualified homoeopaths are now no longer permitted to explain how homoeopathy works. Furthermore, they're not allowed to publish evidence on their websites, provided by their own patients, because of new regulations and bureaucracy. No matter that these patients have actually benefitted from homeopathy, and are well again. It seems ludicrous that homoeopath are not allowed to explain how they perceive homoeopathy to work.

There are many forms of medicine, and medications, and treatments, and operations performed on people which by their very nature are exploratory and poorly understood. Whilst the precise mechanism by which homoeopathy operates may not be fully understood, yet, the reality of its efficacy is well appreciated by many.

To me it defies logic that people who claim to be 'educated' scientists can deny the results gained when homoeopathy is used to treat huge animals, such as farm animals and others.

Rather than deny its validity, surely it should be a question of investigating why it worked rather than trying to find reasons why shouldn't have worked?

Therefore, it seems totally logical to allow the homoeopath to offer an opinion to the patient. I'd be fairly certain that the vast majority of doctors couldn't explain how a particular drug that they are about to offer the patient actually worked. They do not understand the mode of operation, simply that giving drug "A" seems to be successful in treating condition "X", etc.

I also find it frustrating that a homoeopath can no longer advertise what conditions they are able to treat. This applies equally to a veterinary surgeon using homoeopathy for livestock. Why should this be?

I appreciate that it's impossible for any homoeopath to be definitive about everything they treat, because in reality many conditions have variants. However, I cannot see why it would be wrong for them to be able to explain the typical conditions they treat. It's a simple matter of fact that if you've used remedy "X" to treat condition "Y" and seen positive results that you should be allowed to report those.

Naturally, I appreciate that there are many people who might be unscrupulous and place bogus testimonials on websites or in literature. However, as long as they have a verifiable source for that, and can back up their claims, I see no problem in such testimonials being allowed. Indeed, it ought to be obligatory as that's the only way that the intended patient can see that there is a positive potential.

I fail to see why somebody who has improved health following a visit (or perhaps succession of visits) to a homoeopath cannot report how things have changed for them. I've met many people who have had great success following homoeopathic consultation.

One that always stands out is an arch critic of homoeopathy, who following many years enduring a persistent cough, or more pertinently his family had had to endure for many years, agreed to visit a homoeopath as every conventional option possible had failed to yield any benefit. Within the week the cough had gone, and has never returned, much to his consternation and chagrin. However, I did give him credit for being prepared to admit this.

That this kind of restraint is now being imposed by ASA is felt by many to be dispiriting. Why is homeopathy being targeted in this way? I suggest that it’s partly because it is cheap and effective. It is therefore easy to suggest that those trying to regulate or denigrate homoeopathy are part of an orchestrated campaign by those from within the pharmaceutical industry, who perhaps feel that their commercial fiefdom is under threat.

However, in my opinion that's exactly what it is, a campaign and/or a vendetta. Furthermore, despite there being many conventional doctors, veterinary surgeons and others trained conventionally, who subsequently have undertaken additional training and become qualified in human or animal homoeopathy, it still amazes me how closed-minded so many of the conventional doctors and veterinary surgeons can be.

I've personally received much vilification when explaining my many positive experiences over 15 years with dairy cattle being treated predominantly by homoeopathy. This criticism comes in many cases from people who've been involved in medicine for a lifetime. I've met these accusations and dismissals both in private, at public meetings and even in media encounters. I'm not sure whether those trying to criticise me feel personally threatened, or that I might in some way be questioning their professional capability in some way, but what disturbs me is their unwillingness to allow somebody else who has a differing opinion from themselves and the differing way of treating illness to voice their opinions and suggestions.

I thought science was all about investigation and discovery. It has made me sad to see how many so-called scientists (which of course include doctors et al) appear to have such a closed mind. In this world in which we live we need every resource we can find, not least in the parts of the world where money is not available to afford the more expensive medicine that we've become used to in the West. There are a great many people, in countries such as India, and I'm talking tens of millions, who are routinely benefiting from being treated by homoeopaths. The suffering these people would endure without homoeopathy is unimaginable.

Furthermore, I find it disconcerting that whenever I've raised the subject with government, the NHS, and others charged with improving the health and welfare for the population, my offers have been either politely declined, or more usually ignored. When that happens, it does little more than to confirm suspicions of an agenda that is anti-alternative medicine, and specifically anti-homoeopathy.

For example, I've tried to interest the BBC, through their farming unit, to take up the subject of how homoeopathy is being used so successfully on many farms. The organisation which offers training to farmers to use homoeopathy, HAWL ( was in 2010 voted the third best in the category "livestock adviser of the year" at the Farmers Weekly annual awards. The Farmers Weekly can safely be considered very conservative, and not naturally friendly to alternative options - especially given the revenue it needs to earn from advertisers, the largest of which are almost invariably the large pharmaceutical, chemical and fertiliser companies.

When the journalist who runs the 'Farming Today' program, with whom I spoke at a conference in early 2010, expressed surprise that you could use homoeopathy on animals, I suggested she consider making a feature of this. Repeated enquiries via e-mail and letter have been ignored completely. The reason for this remains a mystery to me, as I thought journalism was about reporting everything, not selectively censoring things, which appears to be what's happening in parts of the BBC, not least with regard homoeopathy. This is disappointing to say the least.

The end result of all this is that we must not give up our campaigning because were not getting heard. We must work harder, and shout louder so that our voice cannot be ignored. Our experiences need to be gathered together, and presented coherently. We cannot be allowed to be squashed.

Long live homoeopathy!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Patient Choice in NHS Healthcare - after PCTs

Thanks to Timothy McCaw for this blog on the subject of 'patient choice'.
I may be behind the curve, as they say, but in case I am not, the following may be of interest.
This week I represented our local Rural Parish Council at a talk given by South Somerset Together to maybe 60 RPC reps to update us on the so-called Sustainable Community Strategy for South Somerset - “to lead and and improve the delivery of services…" - that will meet the social, economic, environmental, educational, health and safety needs of all the communities in S. Somerset.
Two interesting things: 

1. The plans for setting up a Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) combining Somerset and Devon, Plymouth and Torbay to bring together local businesses to jump start greater job creation, productivity, and improve infrastructure – eg broadband, road, rail, housing – across this new “mega county”. LEPs are being pushed by the Coalition Govt right across the UK I understand.

2. The changes to the administration of the NHS at local level.

Dr Harry Yoxall, Secretary of the Local Medical Committee for Somerset gave a talk 
“Working together to make us Healthier” 
in place of Dr Ian Phillips of Wincanton (whom I believe is a 'homeopathophobe' - see later)

Dr Yoxall said he was involved in something called 'Interim GP Commissioning Consultation'. He reminded us of the recent scrapping of 2 layers of NHS management – the Strategic Health Authorities and the PCTs. In their place would come the NHS Commissioning Boards.

Within each county there will be a number of Doctors “Federations”, each of which will have on it representatives from the Drs practices in part of the county. Each Federation will have a delegated budget from which NHS services will be provided for their particular patch. The Federation would be able to say, for example, in respect of some aspect of care “Is there a charity in my patch which would have the resources to be able deliver (a certain service)”.

He felt that there would be “huge opportunities for the voluntary sector”. 

Dr Yoxall was only giving a broad brush outline, and not saying anything contentious, but what was implicit was that The Commissioning Board (made up entirely by doctors?), influenced by the Drs Federations, would be the gatekeepers over what medical services were available under the NHS in the future. Given the views of the Dr for whom Dr Yoxall substituted, this could mean that homeopathy under the NHS in Somerset is going to struggle. 

The reason I say this is that Dr Iain Phillips’s son went public in May this year in the local website, 'The Wincanton Window', just before I gave a free talk on 'Homeopathy for the Family', stating 

No, no, no, no. Please do not spend your precious money on homeopathy. It has no mainstream scientific evidence supporting it at all and it has never passed a legitimate double blind trial…….the objection to homeopathy …. is that homeopathy is complete rubbish.” 

When I responded with a lengthy putdown to Dr Phillips’s son, his father waded in with 

“Where is the statistically significant, placebo controlled, peer reviewed evidence in reputable journals?” followed by his son again, “Quite. I do wish Mr MacCaw would name even a single such piece of peer-reviewed journal evidence instead of giving a myriad of links and assertions about how effective it is. ….Shame on you for offering a first aid course which proposes using water to cure ailments. I really hope no one is taken in by this".

I prefaced my second reply with the comment ... "with advance apologies for the length of this comment... necessitated by the need to encourage the Phillips's not to make untrue assertions, and to learn to integrate their approach to medical healthcare with with those of other historically effective therapies". 

I am not giving that response here, suffice to say that it effectively silenced the yabbering of the Phillips' clan. (The exchange can be seen at

It is this person, with his views, who may well become one of the new gatekeepers to the healthcare options to which the public have access under the NHS!

This all points up how important it is for complementary therapists to get to understand how the new system will work and work out how the new gatekeepers can be challenged where appropriate.

One obvious way is that complementary therapists, as patients themselves of their local GP practice, should think about getting a place on that practice’s Patients Participation Group (or keep in close communication with and brief a sympathetic contact on such a group) in order to try and ensure that local GPs do not arbitrarily veto certain elements of complementary healthcare even though their patients are requesting it. If the GPs persist in their veto, then this could be publicised in local magazines and websites, such as the one I mentioned, to bring sufficient pressure to force a change of such a practice, or at least make it the subject of public debate to the possible embarrassment of the practice. As my exchange showed, GPs sometimes don’t know what they are talking about!

If pressure from patients doesn’t work, then our associations could consider asking Government for an Ombudsman to scrutinize the Commissioning Boards’ and Federations’ (monopolising) practices.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Announcing a New Homeopathy Newspaper

The mainstream media refuse to tell people about homeopathy; so we have decided to do it ourselves!

The first edition of the new weekly newspaper, "ARH. Homeopathy in Practice", will be launched this Friday, 15th July 2011 Each and every week it will contain news and information about what is happening in the world of homeopathy throughout the world. Each feature will have a short description, and should you want to read it in full it will be fully hyperlinked.

The weekly newspaper will be published at the following:

Please go to this link, now, to take out a free subscription. This will remind you by email when each new edition is published.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Homeopathy Research

On 17th May 2011, MP David Tredinnick sponsored a reception at the House of Commons for the Homeopathy Research Institute. The event focused on placing homeopathy research on the national agenda, as a important and necessary field of scientific enquiry. The event was attended by over 150 guests, including MPs, Peers, academics, representatives of the homeopathic profession, as well as conventional healthcare providers from the NHS.

The HRI were launching a fundraising appeal for £2 million by 2013, which will be dedicated to funding key scientific research into homeopathy.