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Test of a homoeopathic preparation

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Alan H
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Test of a homoeopathic preparation

#1 Post by Alan H » March 7th, 2009, 1:53 pm

In this thread, Nancy Malik proposed an experiment that (she believes) will show a difference between a homoeopathic preparation and plain water. I will take her up on her challenge if we can agree on a protocol.

Nancy, a possible draft protocol could be this:

Hypothesis

That there is a verifiable difference between arnica 30 homoeopathic water and 'plain' water, that could attributable to the homoeopathic dilution and succussion of the arnica 30 preparation.

Materials required

1. conventional white blotting paper as used to soak up ink [---][/---] type to be defined;
2. arnica Q [---][/---] please supply details where this can be obtained;
3. arnica 30 [---][/---] please specify if this is in sugar pill form or water and specify where it can be obtained;
4. 'plain water' [---][/---] please specify whether my local tap water will suffice;
5. some clean containers.

Method

1. Take three identical pieces of blotting paper, A, B and C;
2. immerse A in 'plain' water. This is a control because the colour will change slightly with damp with water;
3. immerse B and C identically in the same mother tincture of arnica (both are expected to stain yellow);
4. immerse piece (B) in arnica 30 homoeopathic preparation;
5. immerse piece (C) in 'plain' water in the same manner and for the same length of time.
6. the colours of each piece is examined.

Outcome expected that would support the hypothesis

1. The colour of piece A will be white;
2. The colour of piece B will be the same as piece A;
3. The colour of piece C will be yellow (identical to what it was before step 5).

Questions that need to be answered before the protocol can be finalised

1. How long should the pieces be soaked for?
2. How long should the pieces be left to dry for between steps 2 & 3 and steps 4 & 5?
3. What temperature should the liquids be at?
4. What precautions are needed to ensure there is no contamination?
5. Are there any special handling requirements?
6. How will the decision about colour be made?
7. Are there any other factors that could affect the outcome?

This is hardly a randomised controlled, blinded trial and it's not comprehensive, but it's start. If anyone reading this can suggest improvements (but keeping it simple and cheap), please feel free to contribute.

Is there anything else needed and can you provide the details requested? Once I have this, I will write a fuller protocol and will only start the experiment once you agree it is correct and that you believe it will demonstrate that there is a difference between arnica 30 preparation and plain water and that difference is due to the dilution and succussion of the preparation and not to other differences there might be between the 'plain' water and the homoeopathic preparation of arnica 30.

One other thing that would be useful is if you could explain why you think the arnica preparation will remove the stain and why plain water won't remove the stain. Also, please explain what bearing this has on whether homoeopathic preparations work or not.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Paolo
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Re: Test of a homoeopathic preparation

#2 Post by Paolo » March 7th, 2009, 3:09 pm

Alan, tap water will not suffice. It is chlorinated and as such it may bleach the paper slightly, it probably also contains dissolved calcium carbonate (depending on the source) which may result in a white precipitate on the paper. Both could make the paper whiter than the comparative strip. Deionised water will be required.

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Alan H
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Re: Test of a homoeopathic preparation

#3 Post by Alan H » March 7th, 2009, 6:52 pm

Deionised or distilled water would be 'purer', but it depends what the arnica 30 is. If it is sugar pill form, then it'll need to be dissolved as well (with the control having the same amount of sugar dissolved in it so that it was just the homoeopathic bit of it that was being compared). If it is available in water form, then would we know what the purity of the water used to make it was? I suspect they'd use nothing but tap water. However, these are the details that still have to be worked out.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Dan
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Re: Test of a homoeopathic preparation

#4 Post by Dan » March 7th, 2009, 9:42 pm

This test would only show that there was indeed a difference between the homeopathic preparation and water. You need to be careful that no other ingredients are present in the homeopathic potion other than the "active ingredient" (which of course obviously won't be present really) and water. So use the same water source for both homeopathic potion and the non-magic water.

[on edit] For example, you can get arnica 6c (nowhere dilute enough for Malik) pills from Boots the So-called chemist. But they are adulterated with lactose and sucrose.

How about getting some tablets of that, dissolve it in water, dilute it up to 30c, do all the magic rigmarole (very important that, it's not just about mere dilution), and using that as the homeopathic remedy, and then water as the comparison.

Arnica does have medical uses, it seems, but homeopathic remedies based on it are no better than placebo. So even if we were able to distinguish between water and homeopathic preparations of arnica, that would not go very far to help demonstrate efficacy.

Before we attempt this simple test ourselves, we should first check whether the scientific literature already contains a similar test. Perhaps "Nancy 'Hindutva' Malik" can help us out here.

Has the test already been done and published in peer-reviewed journals?

Surely the multi-million dollar homeopathy industry has at least funded this basic science? Or it too busy feathering the nests of its death-dealing practitioners?

Dan

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Alan C.
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Re: Test of a homoeopathic preparation

#5 Post by Alan C. » March 7th, 2009, 10:31 pm

Nancy, we're waiting :popcorn:
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jdc
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Re: Test of a homoeopathic preparation

#6 Post by jdc » March 21st, 2009, 9:08 pm

There's a surprise - you're still waiting for Nancy. I'm shocked.

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Alan C.
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Re: Test of a homoeopathic preparation

#7 Post by Alan C. » March 21st, 2009, 9:42 pm

jdc wrote:There's a surprise - you're still waiting for Nancy. I'm shocked.

[/Captain Renault]
Shocked, but surely not surprised. (given nancy's record)?
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

jdc
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Re: Test of a homoeopathic preparation

#8 Post by jdc » March 21st, 2009, 9:49 pm

Alan C. wrote:
jdc wrote:There's a surprise - you're still waiting for Nancy. I'm shocked.

[/Captain Renault]
Shocked, but surely not surprised. (given nancy's record)?
Yes, the surprise and the shock were false - I'm quite taken with a quote from Casablanca and I couldn't resist:
Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.
[aloud]
Captain Renault: Everybody out at once!
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Alan H
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Re: Test of a homoeopathic preparation

#9 Post by Alan H » April 11th, 2009, 11:43 pm

:popcorn:

It's been a while, Nancy. Are you going to fulfil your part of the bargain?
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Gottard
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Re: Test of a homoeopathic preparation

#10 Post by Gottard » April 12th, 2009, 6:45 pm

Wouldn't be much easier, quicker and impartial to take the homoeopathic sample to a chemist?
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Paolo
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Re: Test of a homoeopathic preparation

#11 Post by Paolo » April 14th, 2009, 12:59 pm

peneasy wrote:Wouldn't be much easier, quicker and impartial to take the homoeopathic sample to a chemist?
But where's the fun in that? Also, the chemist may be in the pocket of Big Pharma, so they might deliberately tamper with the results if they guessed what was going on...

But seriously, maintaining impartiality is a very good point. We need to ensure that the trials are blinded - using an independent technician to carry out the experiment analysis would be a very good idea, to prevent any inherent biases coming to the fore. We should also discuss the method of identifying the effect and the statistics we can use to assess the results.

My suggestion is that one person prepares three sterile brown bottles of liquid - one with distilled water, one with the homeopathic solution (at 30D say) and one with a 1M concentration of the same substance that the homeopathic preparation contains (preferably choosing one that is colourless). Each bottle should be labelled with a letter only and the contents should be kept secret until the end of the trial.

Then an independent person (or people) should deliver these bottles to the person carrying out the experiment (the postie should do fine). Then the person carrying out the experiment should do so using multiple strips of paper from the same source (at least 20 for each liquid being tested, for a statistically robust outcome). The strips should all be dried and sealed in identical plastic bags (all strips of one type can go in one bag - so 3 bags of 20 strips), which should be labelled with just the reference letter (no other information).

These should be sent to the next person, who should digitally photograph 20(+) sets of each 3 strips (A, B & C) under standard conditions (particularly with uniform lighting), randomising the respective positions of the strips (rolling a die should be suitable for determining position [1&4=A, 2&5=B, 3&6=C], flipping a coin will do for position 2, 3 is the remaining position). Each photo should be saved with a number that is also recorded on a spreadsheet listing the sequence. Each digital image should then have an identical sized section of each strip selected (the section selection process should be standardised by always taking the selection from the bottom left corner at the first point where nothing but strip is selected) and each selection saved with a tag identifying whether it is A, B or C, based on reference to the spreadsheet information. Then image software can be used to count the number of pixels of a particular shade (there are a number of ways of doing this and it depends on the software used, the images would probably need to be converted to greyscale then the histogram peak of each image's histogram could be located). The numerical data can then be compared using a T-test, Mann Whitney or Anova with a Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons, or they could be analysed using a Manova.

Once any differences have been identified the results and the labels can be simultaneously sent by the respective parties in group emails to all (except each other). That way there is no chance that the labels are wrongly assigned by accident or design.

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Paolo
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Re: Test of a homoeopathic preparation

#12 Post by Paolo » April 14th, 2009, 2:10 pm

P.S. A research article highlighting the importance of double blinding trials PMID: 17233886:
Conforti, et al. 2007. BMC Complement Altern Med;7:1 wrote:Rat models of acute inflammation: a randomized controlled study on the effects of homeopathic remedies.

BACKGROUND: One of the cardinal principles of homeopathy is the "law of similarities", according to which patients can be treated by administering substances which, when tested in healthy subjects, cause symptoms that are similar to those presented by the patients themselves. Over the last few years, there has been an increase in the number of pre-clinical (in vitro and animal) studies aimed at evaluating the pharmacological activity or efficacy of some homeopathic remedies under potentially reproducible conditions. However, in addition to some contradictory results, these studies have also highlighted a series of methodological difficulties.The present study was designed to explore the possibility to test in a controlled way the effects of homeopathic remedies on two known experimental models of acute inflammation in the rat. To this aim, the study considered six different remedies indicated by homeopathic practice for this type of symptom in two experimental edema models (carrageenan- and autologous blood-induced edema), using two treatment administration routes (sub-plantar injection and oral administration). METHODS: In a first phase, the different remedies were tested in the four experimental conditions, following a single-blind (measurement) procedure. In a second phase, some of the remedies (in the same and in different dilutions) were tested by oral administration in the carrageenan-induced edema, under double-blind (treatment administration and measurement) and fully randomized conditions. Seven-hundred-twenty male Sprague Dawley rats weighing 170-180 g were used. Six homeopathic remedies (Arnica montana D4, Apis mellifica D4, D30, Atropa belladonna D4, Hamamelis virginiana D4, Lachesis D6, D30, Phosphorus D6, D30), saline and indomethacin were tested. Edema was measured using a water-based plethysmometer, before and at different times after edema induction. Data were analyzed by ANOVA and Student t test. RESULTS: In the first phase of experiments, some statistically significant effects of homeopathic remedies (Apis, Lachesis and Phosporus) were observed (the reduction in paw volume increase ranging from 10% to 28% at different times since edema induction). In the second phase of experiments, the effects of homeopathic remedies were not confirmed. On the contrary, the unblinded standard conventional drug indomethacin exhibited its anti-inflammatory effect in both experimental phases (the reduction in paw volume increase ranging from 14% to 40% in the first phase, and from 18% to 38% in the second phase of experiments). CONCLUSION: The discrepancies between single-blind and double-blind methods in animal pharmacological research are noteworthy and should be better investigated, also in non-homeopathic research.
It goes to show the influence of effectively blinding trials...

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Alan H
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Re: Test of a homoeopathic preparation

#13 Post by Alan H » April 14th, 2009, 2:33 pm

Paolo wrote:It goes to show the influence of effectively blinding trials...
Interesting!
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan H
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Re: Test of a homoeopathic preparation

#14 Post by Alan H » April 14th, 2009, 2:38 pm

I'm sure your methodology is far superior to what I was suggesting, but I hadn't really envisaged anything so complex! However, it may well be worth doing, rather than a simpler test. The main purpose of taking up Nancy's challenge was to show a bit about the scientific method and the lengths you have to go to to ensure impartiality [---][/---] the main thing AltMeds seem to be completely ignorant of.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Paolo
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Re: Test of a homoeopathic preparation

#15 Post by Paolo » April 14th, 2009, 3:10 pm

Alan H wrote:I'm sure your methodology is far superior to what I was suggesting, but I hadn't really envisaged anything so complex! However, it may well be worth doing, rather than a simpler test. The main purpose of taking up Nancy's challenge was to show a bit about the scientific method and the lengths you have to go to to ensure impartiality [---][/---] the main thing AltMeds seem to be completely ignorant of.
I agree! However, I think that the more complex test is A) more robust, but B) it means less work for any single individual (except the person doing the photos and analysis). I am happy to volunteer to do the photos, imaging and statistics since I have experience of doing these things anyway.

My main concern about this experiment is that the hypothesis stated by Nancy seems quite ill conceived. If the initial hypothesis is flawed it is a valid reason for rejecting the implications of the experimental outcomes, so it demonstrates nothing, making the whole procedure a massive waste of time. If Nancy can confirm that her hypothesis is theoretically sound then I am happy to give this a go.

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Alan H
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Re: Test of a homoeopathic preparation

#16 Post by Alan H » April 14th, 2009, 3:31 pm

I'm more than happy for you to do the stats! I have done some in the past, but I'm not very confident.

Let's see what Nancy has to say.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Paolo
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Re: Test of a homoeopathic preparation

#17 Post by Paolo » April 14th, 2009, 3:54 pm

Alan H wrote:I'm more than happy for you to do the stats! I have done some in the past, but I'm not very confident.
I taught stats to Biology undergrads for four years - basic stuff, but I'm pretty comfortable with it now.
Alan H wrote:Let's see what Nancy has to say.
Ah, there's the rub...

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Alan C.
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Re: Test of a homoeopathic preparation

#18 Post by Alan C. » April 14th, 2009, 3:57 pm

I think you guys are talking to yourselves, it looks like Nancy disappeared in a puff of smoke, now that's magic.
I was typing this as you posted Paolo.
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Paolo
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Re: Test of a homoeopathic preparation

#19 Post by Paolo » April 14th, 2009, 4:08 pm

Alan C. wrote:I think you guys are talking to yourselves, it looks like Nancy disappeared in a puff of smoke...
I suspect you are correct!
Alan C. wrote:Nancy disappeared in a puff of smoke, now that's magic.
I think she might actually be trying to make her arguments more effective using homeopathic principles. When she first started posting she would say a lot and post a lot, then we "successed" her with some firm but elastic rebuttals. Then she came back with less to say in fewer posts (diluted in other words) and we successed her again. Now she is only present in such tiny concentrations that she is no longer detectable, but her memory lives on and we must continue successing her. Her new arguments have certainly become more lucid and persuasive since she stopped posting...

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Alan H
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Re: Test of a homoeopathic preparation

#20 Post by Alan H » April 14th, 2009, 5:30 pm

:hilarity:
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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