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Placebo Effect ReExamined

Posted by Sanjib Sarkar on Wed, Apr 07, 2010 @ 12:48 AM

Tags: Homeopathy, Placebo Effect

  There has been much controversy about the placebo effect and homeopathy.  Most skeptics believe that the placebo effect is really what is making the person feel better.  They believe that  homeopathy did nothing at all.

  Some recent trials were done with placebos.  The results were interesting and quite contrary to popular belief about placebos.  Out of 464  studies, 26 meet the researchers criteria about placebo trials.  The researchers wanted to see how much improvements patients made with their placebos.  Patients actually showed no improvements when taking the placebo for their conditions or diseases.  The type of condition or disease did not show any relevancy.  However, patients did show a strong relationship between treatment effect and placebo effect.  An example of this would pain relief.  Placebos seemed to be effective in this type of study since it is subjective.

   Further studies need to be done to confirm that the placebo effect is not as strong as once previously thought.  Larger studies will be done to get a conclusion on the placebo effect.


[P274] The placebo effect dependent on time? - A meta-analysis.  Cochrane Collaborative.


Homeopathy Coverage In FSA Accounts

Posted by Sanjib Sarkar on Mon, Aug 17, 2009 @ 05:57 PM

Tags: Homeopathy, FSA accounts

  Many people in the US have different type of medical accounts.  Two popular medical accounts that people with health insurance carry are FSA and HSA.  Both of these are similar but are used in a totally different way. This blog entry will concentrate more on FSA but some information about HSA will be given so people do not confuse the two of them.

   HSA stands for health savings account.  This was passed by the Bush adminstration.  It is a way to save money for unforeseen medical expenses.  Health savings account can be contributed about 3K per year by individuals and about 5K per year by families.  These expenses are pre tax.  The money can be withdrawn if a castrophic medical condition takes place.  Money carries over year after year.  The money can be used for retirment if no caustrophic medical condition occurs.  HSA is for people with a high deductible health insurance.  The idea was to reduce helath care costs with the HSA.  High deductible health insurance would be  cheaper than normal health insurance.

  FSA stands for Federal Spending Account or Flexible Spending Account.  This is a tax free way to pay for medical expenses.  FSA are used with low deductible health insurance.  Many families allocate a sum of money that they approximate that they will need for medical expenses.  Examples of medical expenses that may be deducted from the FSA are medical deductibles, doctor co-pays, dentist co-pays and miscellaneous medical costs.  The cost of these medical expenses must be approximated at the beginning of the year. It is recommended to allocate money on the high side because people want to tax deduct their medical expenses.  All of this money must be used by year end.  There is no carry over with FSA accounts.  It is a use it or loss it proposition.

  Most US citizens do not realize that left over money from there FSA accounts can be used to purchase a wide variety of products.  Homeopathy purchases are covered with FSA accounts.   These medicines include both combination homeopathic medicines and single homeopathic remedies.  A doctor note is not necessary or required.  A receipt of your purchase is required.  The receipt must be mailed into your FSA provider.  Other products that people do not know about that may be covered under your FSA are sunblock, anti-itch lotions such as poison ivy lotion and fiber supplements.  Some items not included in FSA accounts are herbal supplements and certain vitamin supplements.  Vitamin B can be used as a FSA purchase but other vitamins can not be used.  To see the full range of over the counter products covered under the FSA, go to

  In summary, HSA accounts are accumulated over time and never expire.  They are used to pay for major medical expenses that may occur with high deductible medical insurance.  FSA accounts are used with lower deductible medical insurances.  FSA expenditures must be allocated at the beginning of the year.  All FSA expenditures must be consumed or the money will be lost.  If all of your money allocated did not go to doctors or other medical expenses, you can use this left over money to purchase a wide range of over the counter products including homeopathy.    


Homeopathy on Google Insights

Posted by Sanjib Sarkar on Thu, Jan 15, 2009 @ 11:25 AM

Tags: Homeopathy, Google Insights on Homeopathy

  One of our previous blog articles examined Google Trends.  Google Trends basically show searches on Google.  The trend seem to show homeopathy searches were getting to be fewer and fewer. 

  Google Insights is another neat tool that shows more information than just the Google Trends. Google Insights shows which country has the most searches, what are the most popular searches as of now and what would be the popular searches in the future.

  I tested Google insights with the word Homeopathy.     Google insights shows us the regional interests for our keyword, top searches and rising searches.

  The example of Homeopathy is below:

  Regional Interests For Homeopathy

1.       India     
2.     Pakistan    
3.     Bangladesh    
4.     New Zealand    
5.     South Africa    
6.     Ireland    
7.     United Kingdom    
8.     United Arab Emirates    
9.     Oman    
10.    Canada    

  India is the country where there is the most searches on homeopathy.  New Zealand was a surprise to me.  I did not know that there was that much interest in homeopathy in New Zealand.     

  These are the current most popular searches on homeopathy.

 1.    homeopathic     
2.     homeopathy medicine     
3.     homeopathy treatment     
4.     the homeopathy     
5.     homeopathy remedies     
6.     homeopathy remedy     
7.     what is homeopathy     
8.     homeopathy college     
9.     homeopath     
10.    abc homeopathy    

  Here are the searches that rising.  We can expect to see more of these searches in the future.

 Rising searches
1.     wiki homeopathy     Breakout
2.     lancet homeopathy     Breakout
3.     homeopathy wikipedia     Breakout
4.     define homeopathy     Breakout
5.     dr batra homeopathy     +80%
6.     homeopathy forum     +50%
7.     homeopathy for children     +50%
8.     aconite     +40% 

  Suprisingly even though people are searching less for homeopathy, homeopathy forum is gaining ground as more people search for this term.  Homeopathy for children is also becoming an extremely popular term. Aconite is a homeopathic remedy sometimes used to treat fever which also shows up high on the rising searches.

  In conclusion, the Google inisights tool show some interesting things about homeopathy.  It shows homeopathy specific terms are rising in the search engines.  It also shows homeopathy usage is in a wide range of countries.  

Google Trends and Homeopathy

Posted by Sanjib Sarkar on Wed, Dec 24, 2008 @ 01:50 AM

Tags: Homeopathy, Google Trends

  Google trends is an interesting tool that shows the search volume on certain words over a period of time.  Google trends tries to predict searches on these words in the future.  Keep in mind that this is a guess.  Google trends is by no means 100% accurate.  The data given is just an assumption on searches for the particular word.

   I am going to look at the word homeopathy search volume and try to figure out what these numbers mean.


  As you can see from the graph, 2004 had significantly more searches than 2008 on the word homeopathy.  Each year from 2004 showed less searches than the following year.  The trend is showing fewer searches in the future to almost none.

  I also ran google trends on alternative medicine, natural products, accupuncture, herbs and each of these were also showing a downward search trend.  

  People that searched on homeopathy in the past, may likely be searching on more specific information in the future.  This may help explain the trend.  The chances of no one searching homeopathy 10 years from now is very unlikely.  I think you will see more people searching specifically on homeopathy products and remedies in the future and forgo the general search.

   An interesting Google trend is the US economy.   

  Notice how the there was an extreme spike in September 2008 for the word US economy.  There was also another spike at the beginning of 2008 to suggest something was going wrong.  There was pretty much a downward trend until a small upward spike followed by a much larger spike.  The trend would suggest that something major has happened when there is a large spike in Google trends.  

  The trends in homeopathy should not alarm anyone.  All alternative medicines seem to be following the same search engine trends.   An upward spike in a downward trend would suggest something is very wrong when analyzing Google trends.

  What did you think the search engine trends in homeopathy mean?  Do you see in the future no one searching for homeopathy as the trend suggests?  Why are all alternative medicines trending down?

  I look forward to hearing your comments.

I would also like to mention happy holidays to all our blog subscribers and readers.





The Placebo Effect

Posted by Sanjib Sarkar on Wed, Oct 01, 2008 @ 11:37 AM

Tags: Homeopathy, placebo

  The placebo effect is a mechanism where someone is taking a medicine that contains really nothing.  They think the medicine that they are taking helps them to get rid of their ailment.  The person automatically becomes better even though the medicine contained no real substance.

  Many critics point out that homeopathy works because of the placebo effect.  Many homeopathic medicines contain no active substance so any benefits realized with homeopathy must be due to a placebo effect.  So much does the placebo effect actually help is brought into question?

  Some research studies have shown that inactive substances made with sugar or water can help patients approximately 1/3 of the time.  Patients psychologically believe that this type of medicial treatment is helping them.   These are small research studies and they are certainly not conclusive.

  The placebo effect can also be difficult to measure due to the fact that many people can cure their illness just on their own.  The body's own immune system helps to fight diesease and taking the placebo pills really would not speed up that process.  However, the placebo pill may make the person feel better since they are inclined in thinking the medicine given has helped them.

Another interesting question is how do dogs, cats and babies respond to a placebo?  These groups are not aware that they are taking medicine so the placebo effect does not really exist within these groups.  However, the placebo effect may exist with the person giving the medication.  The person giving the medication may feel an improvement in the condition within these groups because they had provided a remedy.   How much a dog, cat or baby would get better on their own is not know if they had not taken a placebo.

   The effects of placebo in allopathic or western medicine has not been studied extensively.  A large percentage of allopathic medicine has never  been properly research and tested.  Most people are not sure how western medicine works.  The exact way aspirin cures headaches is unknown today.  However, many people take aspirin even though they have no idea how it works.

  Homeopathic trials comparing homeopathy versus allopathic medicine usually have come out quite favorable to homeopathy.  Most trials generally show that the homeopathic medicine works as well as the allopathic medicine.   Examples of this would be a trial of 146 people that showed homeopathic nasal spray treated hayfever as well as the allopathic spray. 

  Homeopathic trials with placebos are much more of a mix bag of trials.  Some of the research studies come out quite positive but others have not show too much difference than the placebo. Certainly many of these trials did not follow procedures as homeopaths would practice.  It would interesting to see how some of the untested allopathic medicine compare to a placebo.

  A placebo effect may exist in all forms of medicine just not homeopathy.  How much a placebo effect can help a patient is unknown?  Research does suggest that placebo can be help patients cure their ailments but this is far from conclusive.  

How much does the placebo effect play in homeopathy?

How big a role does the placebo effect play in allopathic or western medicine? 

Are people taking too much medication when they may just get better by themselves?

Current Situation of Homeopathy In the United Kingdom

Posted by Sanjib Sarkar on Thu, Sep 04, 2008 @ 11:02 AM

Tags: Homeopathy, Homeopathy in UK, Homeopathy Hospitals

  Homeopathy in England was introduced by Dr. Quinn in the 1830s.  Since that time this form of alternative medicine has flourished in England.  Homeopathy has steadily grown in England and is funded by the National Healthcare System (NHS) of the UK. 

Homeopathy has always had an elite status in UK.  It is used by the royal familiy and other celebrities such as Paul McCarthney and Catherine Zeta Jones.  This form of alternative medicine has been under attack of late in England. 

Current homeopathic hospitals in the United Kingdom face closure due to an orchestrated campaign by leading doctors in the UK saying homeopathy is simply a placebo.  They point to many studies showing trials where homeopathic medicine is no better than a placebo.  The doctors are telling many doctors not to give out homeopathic referrals.  Without enough referrals, homeopathic hospitals will have to close.   Tunbridge homeopathic hospital has already scheduled to close due to lack of funding and referrals.  Some other hospitals are also facing cuts by the NHS and they are getting less referrals than in the past.

The media and other have pointed to Lancet trials showing homeopathy does not work.  However, these homeopathy trials have many issues with research bias and validity. BBC has done some experiments with homeopathic dilutions showing no effects between a water dilution and a homeopathic dilution.  There has not been in scientific evidence that this type of alternative medicine works.  

  The homeopathy users of the homeopathic hospitals seems to be quite satisified with their treatments. Even with all the lack of funding from the NHS, fewer doctors writing referrals and the bad media press, homeopathy in England still seems to be growing.  The public comes in growing numbers to this type of alternative medicine. In 2007, the UK market is estimated to be worth 38 million pounds.  In 2012, the market is going to reach 46 million pounds.

  Is all the media coverage really bad for homeopathy? Do  people  feel that more homeopathic hospitals will close in England?  Why have doctors  targeting Homeopathy now even though it has been in England since  the 1830s?  Do  doctors in England view homeopathy as a threat? 


Homeopathy Challenge

Posted by Sanjib Sarkar on Wed, Aug 27, 2008 @ 07:06 PM

Tags: Homeopathy, Homeopathy Challenge

  This article is going to take about a couple of homeopathy challenges out there. This article will discuss the homeopathic challenge from James Randi awarding a prize of $1,000,000 dollars to show anything paranormal.  Homeopathy would fall under this category due to the fact that this form of alternative medicine uses dilute substances to heal.  The other challenge is from Simon Singh and Edward Ernst saying that they will award anyone $10,000 pounds that can show homeopathy will work in a placebo based trial using their research methodology.

    The first challenge is the James Randi challenge.  It awards anyone a $1000000 dollar prize to show something that is paranormal.  Some homeopaths have taken up this challenge but their application was denied.  The challenge states that people with serious medical conditions can not stop  their current medication to  participate  in the challenge. 

A homeopath was going to demonstrate  his success treating patients with chronic asthma symptoms via Homeopathy. They felt the participants would be in danger by not taking their current medications for chronic asthma so the trial was denied.

In the James Randi challenge, you would have to design the trial.  James Randi's staff would approve the design trials.  You can begin testing once you are approved.

  The second challenge is very strange.  Ernst and Singh have issued a challenge to homeopathy to demonstrate evidence that this type of alternative medicine works using cochrane research methodology.  The prize is $10,000 pounds.  

  What makes this challenge so strange, you may ask?  Ernst himself did a trial on homeopathy showing it worked for varicose veins.(1)  He tested 61 people with varicose veins and the homeopathic group show a 44% improvement.

Is he going to give himself $10,000 pounds because he proved that homeopathy worked? 

  The question becomes why are people offering these challenges? 

Is it for publicity? 

Is it to discredit Homeopathy?  

Why have some few homeopaths taken up these challenges?

Do people think that these organizations will actually pay if the experiment proves successful?

Do people feel these experiments would be fair?







Homeopathy Links of the Week August11th-15th

Posted by Sanjib Sarkar on Mon, Aug 18, 2008 @ 04:39 PM

Tags: homeopathy links, Homeopathy

High Use of Alternative Medicine Found on Cancer Surviors
     This article talks about the use of alternative medicines with cancer survivors.  However, the article does say that the use of Homeopathy is less common in cancer surviors than other alternative medicines.
   This article talks about the German national soccer team using homeopathic remedies to help them recover from aches and pains.
   The article describes Homeopathy. It gives some great basic general information on homeopathic medicine and remedies.
   This article talks about the fact that homeopathic prescriptions are falling in England.  The media and other doctors are against Homeopathy and are advising doctors not to recommend them.  However, some say the fall of prescriptions in England is due to the fact it may be cheaper to buy Homeopathy medicines without a prescription. 
  This articles is a rebuttal to a consumer report article on Homeopathy.  The cosumer report article talks about shelving of homeopathic products beside conventional products which can create confusion for the customer.  However, the consumer report articles states that there is no good evidence that homeopathy works and uses the dubious Lancet homeopathic trials as their main data source.  This article lets consumer reports have it with their inaccurate data and their preconceived notions. 

10 Homeopathy Myths

Posted by Sanjib Sarkar on Wed, Aug 13, 2008 @ 01:18 AM

Tags: Homeopathy, Homeopathy myths

10 Myths about Homeopathy

This article is going to dispel some myths on homeopathy. There is quite a bit of misinformation floating around. This is a start to clear that up.

1) Homeopathic medicines are nothing more than sugar pill that contain no measurable substance.

Certain homeopathic medicines have no measurable substance. However, many homeopathic remedies do have measurable substances. In medicine that is 24X or 12C has no measurable substance. However, homeopathic medicine potencies such as 6X, 6C, 12X will have a measurable substance.

2) Homeopathic has never been successful in large scale well designed trials. Homeopathic trials have only worked when homeopaths were doing the trials or poorly designed trials with quite a bit of author's bias.

Trials in Homeopathy is a very mixed bag. Sometimes people are looking at the wrong information source. Many skeptics will take successful trials and point out that when looking at larger trials in the study, homeopathy does not seem to work. Although, the author’s conclusions were that homeopathy seems to works better than a placebo.

However, some homeopathic trials that were successful were fairly large. Oscillococcinum trials were quite large and well designed but still yielded a positive result in shortening the flu duration. Similar studies with Osccillococcinum were replicated as well. (1)

The idea that homeopathic remedies have never been successful in a large scale well designed trial is not true.

3) Homeopathy should not be used to treat life threatening diseases.

Homeopathy can treat life threatening diseases with the help of a well trained homeopathic physician. Also, the general medical doctor and other specialists involved in treating the diesease should be included on the treatment plan.

Medical doctors should always be seen if you have a life threatening illness. Homeopathy can not cure all life threatening diseases
but many people with life threatening diseases have faired well with Homeopathy.

Homeopathy malaria trials show that in trials that homeopathic medicine worked as well as conventional medicine in treating people with malaria.

4) Homeopathy and modern allopathic medicine can not work together

Homeopathy can be quite complementary to allopathic medicine.
Many patients under going chemotherapy have seen their side effects reduced when taking homeopathic remedies. Homeopathic trials with reduction of cancer treatments provided encouraging results.

5) Homeopathy, Herbal, and Ayurvedic medicine are similar.

Homeopathy, Herbal and Ayurvedic are forms of alternative medicine but these forms of medicine are not similar in any other way.

Homeopathy use diluted substances to treat patients. Every homeopathic medicine has been diluted in water or alcohol.

Herbal medicine is medicine based on the use of plants.

Ayurvedic is an ancient system of medicine started in India that operates
with the theory that all materials of vegetable, animal, and mineral origin have some medicinal value. Ayurvedic use these materials to treat patients.

Ayurvedic and homeopathic medicines are used quite a bit in India so that creates some confusion in people thinking they are the same thing.

6) Homeopathy is slow to work

Acute conditions such as flu, colds, motion sickness and pain relief can be
treated quickly using homeopathic medicines. Chronic conditions are slow to work because they are complicated to treat. Chronic conditions would
be acne, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome and other conditions will take longer to treat with Homeopathy.

7) Homeopathy is only for human use.

Actually, homeopathy petmeds is one of the fastest growing use of homeopathic products. Homeopathy offers a safe and inexpensive way to treat your pet of acute conditions such as allergies, anxiety and joint stress relief.

8) You can get a book on Homeopathy and treat yourself.

This may be the case in acute conditions such as cold and flu. However, more complicated and chronic cases will require you to see a homeopathic doctor.

Chronic cases involve generally taking quite a few remedies in the course of a treatment. A book can not tell you which homeopathic remedies to take and how much to take when your condition starts to improve or worsen.

9) Homeopathic remedies are not widely available.

This may have been true a few years ago. However, homeopathic remedies can be found pretty much all over the US. Walmart, CVS Pharmacy, Target and larger retailers carry combination homeopathic remedies for acute conditions such as cold and flu and insomnia.

Single homeopathic remedies which homeopaths claim to work the best are not as readily available.

10) All homeopathic remedies work the same on all people.

Homeopathy works different on different people. Classical homeopathy treats different individuals with different remedies according to their personality type.

One person may use one remedy to treat a illness, while another person would use a different remedy to treat the same illness .
Homeopathy assumes everyone is different so using the same remedy to treat everyone will not work according to Classical Homeopathy principals.



If you know of any other myths, put them in the comments section..

Interesting Homeopathic Links of the Week of August 4th-8th

Posted by Sanjib Sarkar on Fri, Aug 08, 2008 @ 05:48 PM

Tags: homeopathy links, Homeopathy, Homeopathic Cures

Here is a list of interesting Homeopathic links in this week.

Interesting link about the reduction of Homeopathy prescriptions in England.

Homeopathy Prescriptions Reduction in England: The True Story.

The article talks about homeopathy in England is not really in dire straights as the media want people to believe. Homeopathy seems to be growing but many people are getting their prescriptions from places other than pharmacies.

Homeopathic Cures Treats Symptoms As An Imbalance

The article talks about Homeopathy as a system of medicine that tries to bring the body back into balance. Homeopathy assumes that body is out of balance. The homeopathic remedies are suppose to help the body bring everything back into balance. Homeopathy treats the whole person not just the symptoms.

Top Homeopathic Blogs

A listing of the top homeopathic blogs. Our company was thrilled to be on the list. This is a great list of places to get more information on Homeopathy and alternative type medicines.

Could water have a memory

This article takes about scientific research on homeopathic medicines. There is still no proof on the scientific evidence on Homeopathy.

Liddell Laboratories sends open letter to consumer reports

This article is about consumer reports recent report on Homeopathy. Consumer reports states that the research they found shows no evidence in Homeopathy ever working for any conditions. This is a rebuttal to that consumer report.

Authors Commentary.

Interesting rebuttal article for Liddell laboratories with quite a few homeopathic trials. Misinformation on Homeopathy is being epedemic. Many homeopaths are even afraid of well conducted trials since they believe so many trials have become negative. There are plenty of negative trials on Homepathy but there are also plenty of positive trials. Homeopathy trials are a mixed bag. Larger well conducted trials are also a mixed bag. Another misconception seems that larger trials always yields negative results. This does not seem to be the case everytime either.

Send us your interesting links.

If you find some interesting links or a good place to get interesting links on Homeopathy, please put them in the comments section. We may them on your next issue of interesting homeopathic links.

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