Alzheimer’s Disease; On Conventional and Homeopathic Perspectives

It is worldwide Alzheimer’s day, today September 21st.  Every year organisations focus on raising awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia. This short article explores the condition, from possible causes, through to both homeopathic and conventional treatment. In addition, adjunctive advice is given on lifestyle and other possible routes to healing. Alzheimer’s disease is currently at epidemic proportions, with 5.4 million Americans — including one in eight people aged 65 and over — living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.

About Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is a cruel, insidious, degenerative disease, the most common form of dementia.  It most commonly affects those over the age of 65, but it is not uncommon for it to occur in younger people. As women’s life expectancy Is longer, there is a greater prevalence statistically in women, and those who have a close relative with the disease have three times the risk. For every additional five years, the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s doubles.

The cause

According to Alzheimers UK, the exact cause is unknown, ‘but ‘plaques and tangles’ form in the brain due to two proteins called amyloid (plaques) and tau (tangles). Amyloid is a naturally occurring protein which for a reason that is not yet understood begins to malfunction, creating beta amyloid which is toxic to the brain cells. Plaques form consisting of dead cells and amyloid protein. Tau protein naturally occurs in the brain and helps brain cells communicate with each other but for a reason that is not yet understood it can become abnormal and “clump together” leading to death of the brain cells affected.

People diagnosed with Alzheimer’s may additionally have a reduction of a chemical in the brain (called acetylcholine). This functions as a chemical messenger to take information to and from brain cells (neurons), so a reduction in this chemical leads to information not being transmitted.’

Also, potentially implicated are lifestyle habits such as lack of exercise, smoking, poorly controlled diabetes, and a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables. Research is ongoing into the affects that glyphosphates, GMO’s and other modern day pollutants such as amalgam fillings, the adjuvants in vaccines and the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs are having. This is an article in itself and will be explored fully at a later date with a view to possibly exposing the links with degenerative illness.  Conversely, a stimulating job, mentally challenging leisure activities, such as reading, playing games or playing a musical instrument, and frequent social interactions are known to play a role in prevention.

Symptoms

Research suggests that changes in the brain can occur up to 10 years before specific, obvious symptoms are noticed by the patient. The Mayo Clinic, in consultation with the Alzheimer’s Association, highlights the following list of 10 symptoms that give an indicator that dementia/Alzheimer’s is taking hold, and in each case, the question ‘what is different from typical behaviour?’ needs to be asked. The list is basic, but highlights what needs to be investigated further.

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps, often a patient will put items in strange places, at times they may accuse others of stealing.
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  • Changes in mood and personality, including confusion, suspicion, and feelings of anxiety and depression and fear. They do not like being out of their comfort zone and will become further afraid and confused.

The conventional approach

In addition to pharmaceutical drugs, lifestyle changes are suggested, including take advantage of ‘well-person health checks’ at the GP surgery so that blood pressure, weight and cholesterol levels are well managed. Smoking cessation programs are recommended as is keeping as physically fit as possible. Social interaction and the maintaining or development of new hobbies encouraged.

Medications called cholinesterase inhibitors, are most like to be prescribed, these are Donepezil, Rivastigmine and Galantamine.

‘These medications can delay worsening of memory, thinking, language and thought processes for six – 12 months although there is now some evidence showing that they can benefit a person for much longer. They support the communication between the nerve cells in the brain by stimulating the production of acetylcholine. Memantine can also be prescribed in the moderate to severe stage of Alzheimer’s disease alongside one of the above medications.  This medication blocks the effects of excess glutamate in the brain. Memantine can assist memory, reasoning, language and attention.’

(Dementia UK /Alzheimer’s)

The Homeopathic approach

There are several problems and symptoms under the dementia heading that can be gently and effectively treated homeopathically. Confusion, restlessness, agitation, poor sleep can all potentially be improved, and if treatment begins early in the disease, progression may be preventable. A homeopath would take a full consultation and prescribe the simillimum, the remedy that reflects the unique presentation of the patient in every sphere, physically, mentally and emotionally and what is ‘peculiar to them.’ Consultations would be on a regular basis and prescriptions tailored to symptoms and hopefully addressing the underlying susceptibilities.

There are obviously many remedies that could be prescribed, as there are so many aspects to the disease. I have highlighted below a few remedies that resonate well with many of the symptoms outlined above; this list is not exclusive. A fully qualified, registered homeopath should be consulted: www.findahomeopath.org.uk

Alumina

Alumina is an excellent remedy for patients who have difficulty expressing their ideas and thoughts, make mistakes when speaking and writing, are easily panicked and suffer mental confusion with reference to their identity. In other words, they forget who they are and can also forget where they are. They are often depressed and are afraid of losing their minds.

Baryta Carbonicum

Baryta Carb helps those who have often regressed back to behavior which is childish. They may be fearful, timid and shy and lack confidence. There is loss of memory and some patients may suffer from chronic glandular disorders.

Baryta Carb is used to treat those suffering from dementia and degenerative conditions of the circulatory system, such as atherosclerosis, which affects blood flow to the brain. It is effective in treating memory loss, mental impairment, timidity, childish reactions to various circumstances, indecision and physical and mental fatigue.

Conium

Conium is used to treat symptoms such as of depression, shyness and fear of being alone, particularly in the elderly. It treats memory loss, as well as mental confusion and loss of cognitive function that sets in as a result of grief over the loss of a spouse. Conium often helps people regain the ability to concentrate and focus.

Lycopodium

Where a patient is in very low spirits; often despondent; perhaps worried about his salvation; about being able to perform his duties; about passing in examination, fretful, irritable, morose, very vehement and angry. Constipation, eructations of sour food. Makes errors when speaking, reading and writing and generally lacking confidence, confused and frustrated. This makes them angry to the point of tyrannical behavior.

Nux Vomica

Nux Vomica patients are often angry, quarrelsome and irritable, faultfinding and insensitive to other’s feelings, invariably vindictive; however, they themselves are extremely sensitive to everything, becoming easily hurt and insulted.

Phosphorus

Because phosphorus helps improve the circulation in people with atherosclerosis increasing blood flow to the brain, it can be a very useful remedy for those with Alzheimer’s.  It’s used to stimulate cognitive function, reduce memory loss and help a person overcome the fear of death. It helps with absent-mindedness, confusion, daydreaming and anguish over being alone.

Staphysagria

Where a patient has difficulty sleeping, feels shame and disgust, humiliated doe whatever reason, often leading to despair. Cowardly with a desire for solitude.

Tarantula

A wonderful remedy when the patient goes into rages, and throws anything they can get their hands on. Hitting people, particularly those that have offended him is not unusual, particularly when contradicted.

Adjunctive Advice

Due to the complexity of the disease, there are many other treatments coming to light that could ease symptoms

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a small evergreen perennial herb that grows up to nearly 5 feet tall. It is what is known as an adaptogen, common names include winter cherry, withania somnifera and Indian Ginseng to name a few. It is part of India’s Ayurvedic medical system and has been for thousands of years. It has always been known for its ability to help reduce the symptoms of stress, and to improve energy and vitality.  Recent research suggests it could now help to stave off many of the distressing effects of Alzheimer’s. In short , studies on mice suggest ashwaganda extract may reverse memory loss and improve cognitive abilities in those with Alzheimer’s disease. ‘Ashwaganda works by boosting a protein in the liver, which enters the bloodstream and helps clear amyloid from the brain. Past research also revealed ashwaganda may help manage cell damage in the brain, offering even more potent antioxidant activity than vitamins A, C, and E. Other strategies that are protective against Alzheimer’s disease include dietary changes, optimizing vitamin D levels and exercise.’ (Mercola, 2012)

Curcumin

Curcumin, which is found in the spice turmeric, is another notable herb for brain health. It has recently been revealed as effective in helping to stop the protein clumping that is the first step in diseases such as Parkinson’s. Curcumin may help inhibit the accumulation of destructive beta amyloids in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients, as well as break up existing plaques.Research has found that: ‘Curcumin is more effective in inhibiting the formation of the protein fragments than many other potential Alzheimer’s treatments.’ (Mercola, 2012.)

Vitamin D

There is ongoing research about how effective Vitamin D is in the treatment of Alzheimers. Large doses in trials have suggested that cognitive function is dramatically improved in those that were seen to have a deficiency. Optimal vitamin D levels may enhance the amount of important biomolecules in your brain and protect brain cells.

Optimal nutrition

Basically, maintain a healthy diet, supplement where necessary with vitamins, specifically D and B. (Very high doses of B vitamins have also been found to treat Alzheimer’s disease and reduce memory loss.) In addition a high intake of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA helps by preventing cell damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease, thereby slowing down its progression, and lowering your risk of developing the disorder. More than anything it is imperative to reduce sugar and fructose consumption, which can be beyond detrimental to health, including that of the brain.

Clearly, there is much that can be done to help, the above just scratches the surface, but is a comprehensive guide to treatment. To find a homeopath in your area, please search www.findahomeopath.org. I leave you with this poem written by Owen Darnell, for his wife, who suffered from the disease.  It is a moving tribute which sensitively captures how someone affected must feel.

‘Do not ask me to remember,
or try to make me understand,
Let me rest and know you’re with me,
Kiss my cheek and hold my hand,
I’m confused beyond your concept,
I am sad and sick and lost,
All I know is that I need you to be with me at all cost,
Do not lose your patience with me,
Do not scold or shun my cry,
I can’t help the way I’m living,
Can’t be different though I try,
Just remember that I need you,
That the best of me is gone,
Please don’t fail to stand beside me,
Love me till my life is done.

Gill Graham, BSc (Hons), BA (Hons) RSHom, DHMHS

www.consultanthomeopath.com

 

References

Alzheimer’s Association 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s: available at:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/expert-blog/warning-signs-of-alzheimers/bgp-20055898

Dementia UK, Alzheimers Disease, available at:

https://www.dementiauk.org/understanding-dementia/about-dementia/alzheimers-disease/?gclid=CjwKCAjwo4jOBRBmEiwABWNaMTCuW_-lLVbR3RRnK4vLzmqK6ajAq2PnznPvo4NF9VF3kUC0DzRlxRoChnMQAvD_BwE

Ashwaganda: Ancient Herb Proven to be a Potential Cure for Alzheimer’s, available at:

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/04/07/ashwaganda-effect-on-alzheimers-disease.aspx

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NHS England Consultation on Homeopathic Medicines

NHS England is currently holding a public consultation on homeopathic medicines, until 21st October.

Unopposed, this could see the NHS abolish prescriptions of all Homeopathic and Herbal medicines.

Find out more about this consultation, get the facts, then learn what you can do now before it’s too late.

Read more. Take action now!

NHS Poster square

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Homeopathy for Cystitis

Cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder. In most cases this inflammation is caused by a bacterial infection and is considered an infection of the urinary tract. Cystitis most often occurs in women, due to anatomical differences. However, in middle-aged men, a swollen prostrate is the typical cause of urine retention, which can then cause an infection.

Approximately 20-40% of women get cystitis during their lives. Underlying causes include nutritional deficiencies and immune susceptibility, as well as often the more obvious irritations from intercourse, tight clothing, hot spices, coffee, tea, alcohol or high sugar in the urine. Food allergies may be a significant factor, especially in children. Medication, particularly drugs used for chemotherapy, can cause inflammation of the bladder. Also, long-term use of a catheter may cause inflammation of the bladder.

Symptoms of cystitis can be uncomfortable and unpleasant. Symptoms include pain or burning (before, during or after urination), cloudy urine that can be smelly, a strong urge to urinate which is difficult to resist, frequently passing small amounts of urine, and a discomfort or pressure in the lower pelvic area.

Cystitis is conventionally treated with antibiotics. However, cystitis can be treated successfully with homeopathy, although in some cases antibiotic treatment may be necessary. If this happens, homeopathic remedies can be used as well, and the need for prolonged antibiotic treatment may be reduced or eliminated. Repeated and prolonged use of antibiotics suppresses the immune system and there is a high risk of developing a resistance to antibiotics which might become a problem if antibiotics are needed in emergencies and more serious conditions. We need to remember that our body has an innate ability to heal itself, thus the correct homeopathic remedy  can easily tackle the discomfort and pain .

*Note: There can be other causes for these symptoms. The patient with more than one episode of acute cystitis must consult their GP as to fully investigate the urinary tract as a whole. Provided that serious disease has been excluded by the appropriate medical tests, homeopathic medicine may be more beneficial than some orthodox medical treatments.

General advice: Drink plenty of water to flush out the infection. Avoid coffee, tea and alcohol as these acidify the body. As germs come from the anal area wipe from front to back with toilet paper. Don’t use soaps, shower gels & bath lotions contain chemicals. Empty bladder after intercourse. Avoid tight clothing and wear cotton pants. Taking regular probiotics such as Acidophilus helps to keep the gut replenished with healthy bacteria which reduces chances of infections.

Homeopathy for Cystitis

  • Apis: This remedy may be indicated when there are burning and stinging pains during urination. Last drops burn and smart. Retention of urine, especially in the night. Difficult, frequent or slow urination; must press to pass urine. Great restlessness and the person is very fidgety. Worse from heat in any form, so this remedy is to be considered if the person cannot bear a hot application on their tummy. No thirst. 
  • Belladonna: Dull pressing pain in bladder  – the entire lower pelvic area feels hot. Shooting pain in bladder when moving. Spasmodic pains of ureter and bladder. Incontinence (continuous dripping of urine). Frequent and profuse urination. There is a great thirst for cold water and the person is very restless. 
  • Cantharis: Cantharis is one of the main remedies for cystitis. There is a very frequent urge to urinate. Stinging/burning/cutting pains before, during and after urination. Severe burning pains in bladder. Heavy sensation in the bladder, feels sore on slightest motion. Small quantities of dark urine, with or without blood. Bladder pains, worse drinking even the smallest amount of water. Better from warm applications. Thirst unquenchable. Aggravation from drinking coffee – drinking the smallest quantity increases pain in bladder.
  • Causticum: This remedy is to be considered for retention of urine after labour and surgical ops. Paralysis of bladder from long retention of urine and consequent incontinence. Involuntary passing of urine when coughing, walking, blowing nose etc. Urine dribbles or passes slowly.
  • Equisetum: This remedy may be useful for urgent desire to urinate with prickling, biting and itching sensations. Frequent and profuse urination of clear/watery urine.  Feeling of fullness in bladder, not relieved by urination. Sharp, burning, cutting pain during urination.
  • Mercurius corrosivus: This remedy may be useful for severe and painful cystitis. Very painful spams of the bladder. Frequent urge to urinate. Intense burning in bladder and urethra. Stabbing pain up urethra into bladder. Burning pain with little or no urine. Urine is dark/bloody. Unquenchable thirst for cold drinks.
  • Sarsaparilla: Painful spasm of the bladder. Urination easier when standing. Unbearable pain at the end of urination. Urine is scanty and contains blood.
  • Staphisagria: ‘Honeymoon cystitis’, worse after sex. Irritable bladder. Burning pains in the urethra, especially between urination. Pain better from passing urine. Pressure upon bladder, feels as if bladder not empty. No thirst.

Herbs for Cystitis

Herbs for the urinary tract generally have diuretic effects, to flush out microorganisms and inflammation by-products. Many are also anti-microbial, either destroying microorganisms or stimulating the body to do so. Here are a few herbs that might be helpful to combat bladder infections:

  • Cranberry reduces bacteria and prevents them from adhering to the bladder walls. It can be taken as a preventative in people with recurring infections. Cranberry mildly acidifies the urine, eliminating alkaline bacteria (i.e. E. coli)
  • Goldenseal has anti-inflammatory anti-microbial properties, it destroys many types of bacteria. It is especially effective for chronic cystitis and has an healing effect on bladder linings, stops bleeding and heals ulceration.
  • Marshmallow is a soothing demulcent to the lining of the urinary tract. It decreases inflammation in the urinary tract.
  • Uva ursi has diuretic and astringent effects in acute and chronic urinary problems. It is a urinary ‘disinfectant’ as it has anti-septic properties, effective for many types of bacteria. Avoid acidic foods, and cranberry, which decrease its effectiveness.
  • Yarrow increases urination. It has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties, while soothing bladder spasms. Yarrow tones the urinary tract and acts and acts as a mild pain reliever in infections.

Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of your physician or health care provider. First aid situations may require medical or hospital care. Do not use this article as a means to diagnose a health condition. Speak to your doctor if you think that your condition may be serious, before discontinuing any medication that has been prescribed for you, or before starting any new treatment.

If you cannot decide which homeopathic remedy to select or if you have recurring or chronic cystitis, then please book an appointment for a full consultation with a professional homeopath.

Ulrike Holzer  LSECH MSCH MARH RHom

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Combat health cuts in Bristol

NHS Bristol CCG is currently conducting a consultation on whether to stop funding for a number of services including homeopathy. Doctors who deliver these services were not formally notified that the consultation was taking place, and we, the homeopathic community, have only just been made aware of it. Consequently, there are only a few days to respond as the closing date is 15th August.

How to respond

The points to make in your response are listed below, and you can help defend NHS homeopathy in Bristol by taking part in the consultation which can be found here(https://www.bristolccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/nhs-service-proposals/decommissioning-homeopathy/).

  • NHS Bristol CCG has failed to adequately publicise its proposals and give patients, healthcare professionals and other stakeholders sufficient time to raise objections.
  • By launching its consultation during the school summer holidays when many people are away, it appears the CCG is deliberately trying to avoid engaging with patients before cutting these services.
  • To support its proposal for decommissioning the homeopathy service the CCG cites the 2010 House of Commons Science and Technology Committee evidence check into homeopathy, implying that it was approved by government. It was not! Only four MPs from the committee voted on this report: three in favour of its conclusions with one abstention. Two of the MPs who supported the report didn’t even attend the committee sessions to hear the evidence. An Early Day Motion criticising the report was signed by 70 MPs unhappy at the way the committee conducted its review of the evidence. No decision about the future provision of healthcare services should be based on a report the government did not endorse.
  • Contrary to what the CCG says, there is evidence supporting the effectiveness of homeopathy. For instance, a study of clinical outcomes at the Bristol Homeopathic Hospital from November 1997 to October 2003 involving 6,500 individual patients found that more than 70% of these patients recorded clinical improvement following homeopathic treatment. Also, 8,500 patients attending GP surgeries in France were treated with homeopathy. Results showed:
    • Patients with upper respiratory tract infections treated with homeopathy responded as well those treated with conventional medicine but used fewer drugs.
    • Patients with musculoskeletal disorders required half the amount of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and fewer side-effects when treated with homeopathy.
    • Patients with sleep, anxiety or depression were less likely to be prescribed psychotropic drugs when treated by a homeopathic physician.
  • Homeopathic medicines produce fewer side-effects than conventional drugs and are generally less expensive. Far from being a drain on valuable NHS resources homeopathy can save the health service money.
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Homeopathy on the NHS

The recent news that homeopathy is to be removed from the NHS saving millions is very misleading. First of all it is not homeopathy it is homeopathy prescriptions, and secondly it will not save millions it will save around £90k. The media love a good headline – even if that means distorting the facts says Mani Norland, Principal of the School of Homeopathy, Stroud.

Removing homeopathy prescriptions from the NHS is short sighted, as you are taking medicine away from people that need it. If patients cannot get the homeopathy prescriptions they rely on then they may turn back to other more expensive drugs, costing the NHS far more money in the long run.

The reason given for removing homeopathy prescriptions from the NHS is a lack of evidence, but there is sound evidence of homeopathy’s effectiveness.

For example; by the end of 2014, 189 randomised controlled trials of homeopathy on 100 different medical conditions had been published in peer-reviewed journals. Of these, 104 were placebo-controlled and were therefore eligible for detailed review.

41% were positive (43 trials), finding that homeopathy was effective
5% were negative (5 trials), finding that homeopathy was ineffective
54% were inconclusive (50 trials).

In addition, there have been six meta-analyses of homeopathy (large scale overviews of all previous research).

One meta-analysis was negative, concluding that homeopathy had no effect beyond placebo. Five were positive suggesting that there was evidence of an effect beyond placebo, but that more high quality research would be needed to reach definitive conclusions. The most recent of these studies, published in 2014, found that homeopathic medicines, when prescribed during individualised treatment, are 1.5-2.0 times more likely to have a beneficial effect than placebo.

With regards to the effectiveness of conventional medicine, things are not as clear cut as many people may believe. Every six months, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) publishes the scientific clinical evidence for treatments currently available on the NHS. This study found that of 3,000 commonly used NHS treatments 50% are of unknown effectiveness and only 11% are proven to be beneficial. See chart.
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SSRI anti-depressants, such as Prozac, are an example of such a treatment. These have now been confirmed as being no more effective than placebo in the treatment of mild and moderate depression, yet in 2006 the NHS spent around £150 million on them.

The BMJ data clearly shows that the NHS funds many treatments for which the evidence of effectiveness is unclear – see chart.

Medical research is a costly and involved undertaking that is generally funded by large pharmaceutical companies, charities, trusts and governments. Millions of pounds are involved in drug development, which is usually recouped through licensing the drugs. As homeopathic medicines are derived from natural sources, they cannot be patented; without the financial returns that patents help to provide, it is more difficult to find companies willing to invest in homeopathic research. This is unfortunate, given that homeopathy has the potential to be a safe, effective and inexpensive complement to conventional health care.

Funding for research into other Complementary and Alternative Medicines has been steadily growing with promising results. Professor George Lewith (professor of Health Research at the University of South Hampton) and others have received Government funding for their work.

The homeopathic profession encourages more research into homeopathy. However, the funding required for high quality research into homeopathy is not available in the UK at this time.

The Homeopathy Research Institute (HRI) is an international charity created to address the need for high quality scientific research in homeopathy. In collaboration with the Carstens Foundation, the HRI website provides a clinical research database that contains over 1015 studies, from randomised controlled trials to observational studies. It is the most comprehensive and academically rigorous database of its kind in the world.

In the current climate, where misinformation about homeopathy in the mainstream media is common, there is a need for clear communication of the facts about the evidence base for homeopathy. HRI therefore aims to provide decision-makers, academics, healthcare practitioners and patients with reliable, academically sound information about homeopathy research.

In 2013 and 2015 the HRI held international conferences dedicated to research in homeopathy. Both events had around 40 speakers, including clinicians, PhDs and Professors from around the world.

The campaign to remove homeopathy prescriptions from the NHS has been instigated by a small lobby group lead by a well-known ‘sceptic’ of homeopathy. This group made a legal challenge to the Department of Health. Why are policy makers and health professionals allowing themselves to be influenced by a biased agenda-led lobby group? This is not being driven by clinicians, patient choice, research or economics. With 15% of the UK population (27% of Germans, 40% of French) using homeopathy – why is the demand not for more research into homeopathy, rather than less provision?

Read more online and look up the references at: www.homeopathyawareness.com

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The Australian report

Homeopathy has been hitting the news in Australia this week.

Find out more about the NHMRC 2015 review on Homeopathy that’s making headlines once again – have a read of the latest from the Homeopathy Research Institute here.

The report has had an impact across Australia and has been featured several times on 7 News across the country.

To watch the footage see below.

Click here for 7 News Sydney.

Rachel Roberts, Chief Executive of the Homeopathy Research Institute states ‘It is interesting to hear the final sentence demonstrating the public position being taken by the pharmacists which is quite rightly in favour of patient choice “…pharmacists and their union say that that choice should be left with consumers”.

Click here for 7 News Brisbane.

Petrina Reichman, Secretary at the Australian Homeopathic Association says ‘Freedom of choice is crucial. These products would not have survived on the shelves of pharmacies for as long as they have if they weren’t effective, simple as that! Using complementary medicine also eases some of the emergency room burdens #yourhealthyourchoice

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According to the Australian Homeopathic Association: ‘One million Australians use homeopathic products like those sold in chemists, as part of their daily healthcare’.

Your health, Your choice.

 

 

 

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Do you know of a dog with bone cancer? Canine Osteosarcoma Trial

A trial has started in January 2017 to see if homeopathy can help in the treatment of osteosarcoma in dogs. Osteosarcoma is a very serious disease and the average survival time until euthanasia is about two months, unless amputation and chemotherapy are employed, when it is about eleven months. This trial is open to those who decide, in consultation with their vet, that amputation is not what they want for their dog.

The owners and dog will need to attend the trial centre for at least one consultation which might last up to 90 minutes. The consultations and medicine will be free.

The homeopathic remedies will be chosen specifically for the dog, based on the history and clinical signs. The dog will remain under the care of the primary vet, and if euthanasia is required, as always that decision will be taken by the owners and the primary vet. This is to ensure no additional suffering will be undergone by any dog participating in the trial.

If a dog is to be entered for the trial, the owner and vet need to complete the forms which can be downloaded from the Britsih Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons’ website – bahvs.com.

If you have any questions or wish to enter your dog for the trial, contact the centre below.

Wiveliscombe Homeopathic Veterinary Surgery

Wiveliscombe

Taunton

Somerset

TA42JY

01984624999 osteosarcomatrial@yahoo.com

Geoff Johnson VetMB MRCVS RSHom VetFFHom PCH

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Futher information on Geoff

Geoff Johnson qualified as a veterinary surgeon in 1987, and subsequently qualified in veterinary homeopathy in 1999. He is the principal of a busy homeopathic veterinary surgery in West Somerset. He lectures frequently at home and abroad. He wrote the curriculum and taught the Danish Homeopathic Veterinary Diploma, which has just graduated nine vets. He is one of the few UK vets who treats animals diagnosed with cancer using homeopathy. He lectured conventional vets on this subject at the SW and London Vet Shows in 2014.

In his Somerset practice, Geoff has gained considerable experience of treating dogs presenting with a range of canine cancers using homeopathy. He has observed some dogs entering permanent remission with the disappearance of the tumour and health restored. Some dogs were palliated with improved vigour, lessening of clinical symptoms, and life extended beyond conventional expectations. Some dogs appeared to gain no benefit at all. He has specifically observed improvements in some dogs presenting with osteosarcoma. He has treated five such cases using solely homeopathy. None of these dogs underwent amputation nor received chemotherapy. Two died years later of old age, one was euthanased after 22 months and two were euthanased within three months. Three of the five dogs exceeded the mean survival times of dogs which received amputation and chemotherapy, although the dogs treated received only pain relief for a short period. Two of these three dogs went into complete remission. These anecdotal results suggest treatment from a homeopath might offer an effective adjunct to current conventional treatment.

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Promoting Awareness of the Evidence Base for Veterinary Medicine and Practice

From the Vets4InformedChoice website:

Vets4InformedChoice has been set up to raise awareness of the Evidence Base (or lack of) for many current Veterinary Practices, enabling animal owners and guardians to make considered responsible choices without pressure from the Veterinary Industry.

If you want to help please sign up to our Campaign, and we will send you updates and who to contact as events unfold: www.vets4informedchoice.org

Concerns over frequent and unneccesary Vaccination, Corporatisation of Veterinary Clinics, Pressure Selling of products and services etc. are widespread and growing.

Anyone who puts their head above the parapet within the profession risks their career, with just one example being the current campaign to ban Vets from prescribing Homeopathy, and to restrict Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM).

Vets utilising CAM as part of their clinical approach are great observers of matters, seeing and often fixing daily the failures of the conventional approach to therapy. They have been proven right many times, not least in exposing the lack of need for annual vaccines, confirmed by the mainstream industry’s own data and research. However, vaccination drives footfall, product sales and more, and many Vets base a significant part of marketing on the practice, so there is a reluctance to change and reduce their adminstration.

Vets using CAM now face a campaign within the profession to restrict and or ban their practices in the UK.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has announced a review of its position statement and guidance regarding Complementary and Alternative Medicines, but is it fit to do so? With Council Members openly supporting the campaign against CAM, no representation from those affected (the Vets and the owners of animals depending on them), and the Veterinary press publishing almost weekly denigrating attacks, it seems impossible that Vets using CAM can survive, and animals benefitting from such therapies will be denied care.

Our first campaign is to raise awareness of these issues, get the public to write to the Minister, their MPs, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the Press to get their voices heard.

We will be adding articles and content soon to more pages

If you want to help please sign up to our Campaign, and we will send you updates and who to contact as events unfold: www.vets4informedchoice.org

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Magic Pills, In Search of Evidence, a documentary film about homeopathy

Catching a few minutes out of Ananda More’s busy day, I managed to find out more about her soon to be premiered film and the motivation behind making it. Ananda, homeopath and first time filmmaker, has been making Magic Pills, In Search of Evidence, a documentary film about homeopathy for the last 6 years.

The world premiere is on the 3rd June at the Illuminate Film Festival (tickets available here: http://illuminatefilmfestival.com/magic-pills).

The film reveals aspects of homeopathy some would rather suppress and ignore as inconvenient truths. It shows several projects from around the world, looking at the science and the statistics, the scandals and also hears from individuals with different ways of thinking about the ongoing argument that homeopathy has been a part of for over 200 years.

The trailer for Magic Pills is here.

As a homeopath myself I can be known to rant about the treatment of homeopaths and homeopathy but making a film is a huge step forward into sharing our story with the world. What was the tipping point that inspired you to make it?

It was 7 or 8 years ago, we had a conference here in Toronto, and Dr Gustavo Bracho, from Cuba, presented at the conference. He was presenting a lecture on how the Cuban government had successfully stopped an epidemic using homeopathy. They weren’t homeopaths, they were pharmacists, biologists, and immunologists and the institute was used to creating vaccines for infectious diseases. Because of the circumstances there wasn’t enough time to produce enough vaccine for the population, needing to do something, they created a homeopathic remedy and used gave it to 2.3 million people.  The results were astounding and the epidemic was arrested. Dr. Bracho later explained to me that they were shocked that no medical journal was willing to publish their work, and they gave ridiculous excuses that had nothing to do with the validity of the research.

Had they done that with a conventional vaccine – and according to the WHO vaccines are to be used before an epidemic not during one, because a vaccine can take months to stimulate an immune response, and multiple doses, and it’s often hard logistically to get a vaccine to a population because there needs to be a cold chain to ensure a vaccine is safe and effective. Had they have managed to do something similar with conventional medicine the world would know about it, or at least the medical world would know about it and I felt the story had to get out there and…

And the leap to making the film?

It was going round in my mind I had to make a film about it. This story needed media exposure. I emailed Dr Bracho and said I felt I had to tell the story and he told me I could go and visit anytime and speak with him. I found out later he’s very camera shy, he’s had interviews in the past where things he’s said have been twisted and taken out of context. But he welcomed me, the people at the Finlay institute were all very kind.

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What was the most important thing you had to learn to make the film?

I have a bachelors degree in drama so I suppose that helped, I don’t know, part of it was going out and doing it hands on. The first time I went to film I had a friend who was a camera man and filmmaker and editor, he’d recently graduated from film school and really kindly donated his time, I started to learn from him. Then I did some courses, learnt more about documentary filmmaking and started to learn about the equipment, techniques, and the language, even still I’m still learning – it doesn’t stop.

Producing the film is what’s the hardest part, finding the funding, the accounting and things are always changing, navigating distribution, finding people I should be working with and not working with, I ended up producing the whole thing by myself. That has had its challenges – it’s a fairly rare thing to do and also hard to be trusted as a new producer in the world to get funding when they don’t know what your film will be like, or if you even have it in you to finish. Now I’m navigating distribution, marketing, every day I’m learning something new – I feel like I’ve done a degree in filmmaking!

The film takes into account many views of homeopathy, and you interview people with very different opinions to your own – how was it for you interviewing people who had such a polar opposite view to yours about homeopathy?

I guess for me I came into this with a homeopathic mind, in the work we do we’re supposed to listen to a person’s perspective without judgement. I went into this open and willing to learn that homeopathy didn’t work. Is this really placebo and something that we’ve blinded ourselves to? I went into it really open to learning that it’s just a scam, a placebo.

I feel I went in with an open mind, but the things I saw were so awe inspiring that I became convinced that homeopathy does work and I came out a lot more confident in my practice. I am convinced of the efficacy of homeopathy as a practitioner and more able to accept people get better because of the work we’ve done together and accept that the homeopathy itself has made a significant difference for them.

It’s hard as a homeopath, I don’t know if anyone gets 100% results, I certainly don’t and when I’m not getting success on a case I take it very personally. I question my skills and question homeopathy itself. Making this film has stopped me from questioning homeopathy. If I’m not getting the results, maybe I’ll need to look again at the case with fresh eyes, or get a colleague to look at it with me and sometimes need to work harder to understand what’s going on.

Thank you for that. It’s really helpful I think for people to hear that you went in totally questioning it and open minded, prepared to learn that what you’ve studied hard for might all be not true. I think some of the issue, and people talk about it, is how we’ve got a lot invested in what we’re doing, maybe that you’ve studied for years and then at that stage of ‘it can’t not be true now’.

I think a lot about confirmation bias and about how in my life I’ve changed my mind so many times about what I’ve believed and encountered, so I’m always open to changing my mind. I mean, I believed homeopathy was a scam first when I first learned about it and I believed that for many years. When I was first in India and I was in the hospital and injured, all these people kept telling me to go use homeopathy and I laughed at them.

It really wasn’t about defending a position for me and I think I’ve shown that on a lot of levels. I thought I had a very scientific approach, and I think I’m still scientific in my approach. But before I was willing to believe what any expert told me and the studies that had been done, and it took a lot of looking and understanding in terms of how science works and about how biased science can be. Science is just a process and it’s open to interpretation and human interpretation, and we’re biased, we all have our own subjective approach.

Maybe there’s something about having ‘that experience’ yourself.  You talk in the film about how you took your first remedy and literally 15 minutes later you felt better. That experience changes somebody’s way of looking at the world. Lots of people haven’t have that experience, they’ve not tried homeopathy or witnessed that, in which case it does sound like a load of rubbish…

It’s easy to say to someone ‘Oh, your experience is placebo’, ‘it’s consultative effect’, ‘it’s just a coincidence’, but I think things change once you’ve gone through that experience, you’re more willing to consider that you were wrong about your beliefs.

So maybe we’re stuck in that place and maybe it’s about doing it enough times sometimes…

Maybe, but also… so my question was ‘are we as homeopaths stuck in that place too?’, and I was trying to be open. I really was questioning that, I wanted to know ‘am I perceiving everything differently?’, ‘am I approaching every study that’s negative with a certain perspective for a reason or are they really fraudulent and are these complaints that we have really genuine?’

We talked about the different mind-sets of people with their views of homeopathy and homeopaths. One thing I find interesting is how you use in the film different projects using quite different systems of homeopathy. Within the homeopathic community we can get a bit ‘you’re using that, I’m using that’. What are your thoughts about everything sitting alongside each other?

I think we, we haven’t had the time, the money, the research, to really learn everything there is to learn about homeopathy, and I think we’re just sitting on the tip of an iceberg, so I think everyone’s systems are very legitimate and I think we can learn a lot from each other and I think if we start getting dogmatic about how we practice or about how other people shouldn’t practice, we do everyone a disservice.

We do disservice to our patients because we’re not willing to look at other techniques that might help in a situation where we might be stuck, we do a disservice to our community, because we become fragmented – that’s what’s led to the state of homeopathy today. The Flexner report was successful in shutting down homeopathy because homeopaths weren’t organised and today homeopaths should…

…there isn’t enough unity and working together to really become a force.

If I could give you one wish to do with homeopathy what would it be?

My biggest goal with the film is to broaden the dialogue, and have I think we’ve had the media against us and a lot of the scientific world, not all the scientific world, I think a lot of the scientific world is open to what we’re doing and are sceptical in a genuine way, wanting to learn. But because I think there’s so much at stake, not just the pharmaceutical and the medical industry but – how we understand and perceive the world and how it works, it’s been hard to accept us. I think what I want, what I wish is for a more open minded genuinely sceptical society that is willing to invest in research and to openly to look at evidence and bring homeopathy in to the healthcare systems around the world.

What I feel that we’re suffering from right now is the power of what I’m calling the pseudo sceptics, because I don’t think they’re genuinely sceptical – they’ve decided that homeopathy can’t work and they’re going to do everything in their power to demonstrate that, even if it means not presenting the whole story, and they’re doing everything in their power to stop more research from happening as well – so why are they so scared of research? – they call it a waste of money, but most of the research being done in homeopathy is coming from dedicated funds to research in alternative medicine.

My question is, why are they scared of research? – what are they scared that we’re going to learn and find out? – is it going to flip their worlds around too much, is it like finding out the world is round?

You need to be able to say, ‘OK I believe this and what’s the evidence for and against my belief? Have I really understood what I experienced in my own life’, then you can shape an educated vision. I learned from Irene Schlingensiepen-Brysch a homeopath in Germany, we spoke a about scientific philosophy and this notion that you can never know the truth you can only approximate truth – and all we can do is try to do studies that try to falsify our theories and our hypothesis and find out what is false, but that finding out what is true, maybe that’s impossible.
There’s so much we don’t know and scientific opinion changes constantly and we’re always discovering new things that were right in front of our faces and we didn’t see, like, for example a lymphatic system in the brain, a drainage system for the brain – people always wondered how wastes were removed from our brain and they thought they didn’t get removed then just last year they discovered there is a drainage system for the brain. So, we’re always learning new things, always observing new things and we’re always missing things that are right in front of us because we don’t know how to see them yet.

For me the biggest thing is that science is a process, it isn’t an answer, it isn’t absolute knowledge, it’s a process of learning and observing and it’s not absolute.

I know there are lots of interested people asking me (so there must be many more wondering), when can we expect to see the film at screenings outside Canada and the United States?

It’s a bit of a process and all in the works and a there’s a hierarchy in how the film is released. The film festivals want to have the premieres and if it’s available elsewhere the film festivals are less inclined to show it. The reason I really wanted to go the film festival route, which isn’t a necessary route, but I felt it will legitimise the film and bring a broader audience to the film.

So, we have to be patient?

Yes, we have to be patient. The other thing is, I have wonderful people helping me, but I’m the main promoter on this and I haven’t been able to prepare all the marketing and get myself ready for the premiere – and at the same time be able to get my whole community screening program in place. The community screening approach is a very common way to distribute films that have the intention of having a social impact, as the lingo calls it, impact distribution. We want to make the film available for community screenings, and that means that anyone that wants to hold a screening can reach out to us, they do have to pay a licence for the screening but it’s pretty nominal and the idea is with that we send them a Blu Ray or a DCP.

They can show the film, they can show in theatres, in communities, they can show it in their living room, the idea also is to create the discussion, and try to figure out ways to create more change and broaden the perspective of the media, maybe lobby government, help to work towards changing policies around homeopathy and healthcare policies and towards alternative medicine in general.

I’m still trying to figure out what that’s going to look like, what the action plan is going to be and how everyone can contribute on that level as well. And then the film, once someone buys the licence, they can then turn around and charge tickets for people to come and see the film, hopefully use it as a fundraiser or cover all the expenses of showing the film.

OK, then we stay tuned and sign up to the newsletter?

Yes, and then that way you’ll find out when there’s a screening near you or how you can host a screening. We’re going to hopefully get it on video on demand platforms. Our goal not to reach a homeopathic audience –but to reach a broader audience of people. We need the homeopaths and we need the supporters of homeopathy to help propel the film to that audience as well. Sign up to the newsletter here.

Do you need funding to be doing all this?

It’s hard once the film is done – and we did it on a really really small budget, a lot of it came from my own pocket and I put 6 years of my life into it – but now there’s money required for developing the website, developing the materials, marketing is very expensive. Everything takes another bunch of money to get out there, the hope is that through licencing fees, more donations and hopefully some grants, we can put some money towards all of that that needs to be done. I wish I could give it all out of it out for free, but the expenses keep going up and up – it’s been very hard to raise money for this film outside of private investors – grant and funding bodies are very scared of films like this.

There’s a donate button on the website and it would be so appreciated if people would like to do so. As much as we all want to make everything available and be altruistic there’s expenses related to everything, like just having a DCP made is close to $1000. And unfortunately filmmaking and everything that goes around it is an expensive endeavour. Those of us producers who are making documentary films are dependent on the good will of everyone around us to make it happen.

Lastly, you cover some really hot topics in the film. In the UK we’re not allowed to talk about anything that might be able to treat cancer, we’ve just had Vaxxed here in the UK, and the vaccine discussion is heating up. What’s your feeling, I mean, I think they’re amazing stories to get out to the world, I feel like we’ve been suppressed for so long, the Cancer Act was in 1939 so since then we’ve been not allowed to say that anything can be helpful in dealing with cancer apart from maybe supporting it and you kind of go straight in there for the jugular – how is that?

I guess I put myself in a tricky situation, where some homeopathic organisations are scared to support the film, because it’s “going there”. They’re scared of the sceptic attack against them, of being associated with something that’s presenting what’s going on in the world. I mean, it’s not me saying I can treat cancer, it’s me showing what is possible in India, where homeopaths who are allowed to treat cancer, and are considered full-fledged members of the medical community, and receive an excellent medical education, I’m showing what they’re doing and what they’ve been capable of and the results they’ve been having, and so I don’t think I’m making any untoward claims of what I can do as a homeopath.

They’ve created a culture of fear around us being able to talk about what’s going on in the world and about us being able to show what is really possible. We always act out of fear on all of those things and I’m trying to break that here.

Thank you Ananda. It’s been a pleasure to chat and I can’t wait to hear more about the premiere and progress of Magic Pills, In Search of Evidence.

Em Colley MARH RHom BSc(Hons)

www.emmacolley.co.uk

 

 

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Charity Commission Consultation ends 19th May – Please Act Now

The Charity Commission (CC) is currently conducting a public consultation on whether organisations promoting the use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) should have charitable status. They are seeking your views which you can supply by visiting:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-complementary-and-alternative-medicines

Homeopathic and other CAM organisations are making submissions but the more received from the pro-CAM public the better.  Please respond to the consultation and take action now!  If you feel uncomfortable answering all of the questions just answer a few, something submitted is better than nothing!

As you will see, the focus of this  consultation is on the evidence for the effectiveness of CAM therapies.  Your submission should be your own, however here are a few helpful points.

  • there are many types of evidence that should be considered when evaluating the effectiveness of a therapy. These include scientific studies, patient feedback and the clinical experience of  doctors  who  have trained in a CAM discipline.  Within Homeopathy there is considerable evidence which can be found (https://www.hri-research.org)
  • many conventional therapies and drugs  have inconclusive evidence or prove to be useful in only some cases, for example SSRIs (anti-depressants).  Inconsistent evidence is often the result  of the complexity of both  the medical  condition being treated and the therapy being used. It is not indicative of a therapy that doesn’t work
  • removing all therapies or interventions that  have inconsistent or inconclusive evidence would seriously limit the  public and the medical profession’s  ability to help treat and ease patients suffering.
  • all over the world there are doctors, nurses, midwives, vets  and other healthcare professional  who integrate  CAM therapies into their daily  practice because they see effectiveness. They would not use these therapies if they  did  not see their patients  benefitting from them.  For example in the UK, within the NHS hospital setting, outcome studies demonstrate effectiveness of homeopathy. (http://www.britishhomeopathic.org/evidence/results-from-the-homeopathic-hospitals/)
  • practitioners of many CAM therapies belong to registering bodies which expect their members to comply to the highest professional standards in regards to training and practice
  • In the UK the producers and suppliers of  CAM treatments (homeopathy, herbal medicine etc) are strictly regulated
  • as well as  providing valuable information to the  growing  number of people seeking to use CAM as part of their healthcare, CAM charities frequently fund treatment for those people, particularly the elderly and those on a low income, whose health has benefitted from these therapies but who cannot  afford them. This meets the charity’s criterion of  providing a public benefit.

You can also find out more of what you do to take action here at the Homeopathy Hub.

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