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In Defense of Homeopathic Treatment

March 19, 2001

I was saddened to read in the March 5 Beyond the Mainstream column ("A Therapy That Skirts Science") an article so riddled with misinformation and unsubstantiated statements. Barrie Cassileth's assertion that homeopathy is without scientific foundation is ludicrous. Samuel Hahnemann's original research into the medicinal properties of substances was carried out using the purist form of scientific investigation: observation of a phenomenon, re-creation of that phenomenon in a controlled setting, application of that phenomenon in a clinical setting. In their book "Homeopathy: A Frontier in Medical Science," Drs. Paolo Bellavite and Andrea Signorini cite several hundred references, virtually all from peer-reviewed journals and published texts, that speak to the possible underlying principles at work in homeopathy.

When she brings up the old "diluted beyond Avogadro's Number" issue, Cassileth points out the obvious--that homeopathic medicines, at least in higher potencies, are not acting at the biochemical level. As physicists continue to explore our universe, our understanding of homeopathy continues to grow.

Finally, Cassileth seems incredulous as to why homeopathy is so popular around the world today. Perhaps the thousands of homeopathic practitioners, and the millions of homeopathic patients, know something that Cassileth doesn't--homeopathy works!

--STUART H. GARBER

Secretary

California State Homeopathic

Medical Society, Santa Monica

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As a medical anthropologist (and chief medical officer, by default, of my family), I take exception to Cassileth's continuing denigration of alternative medical paradigms. Her March 5 column is by turns misleading and incorrect in its summary of homeopathy.

The crux of scientists' difficulties with homeopathy, as Cassileth points out, is its seeming logical impossibility. Just as it's intuitively unlikely that the world is round and it's logically impossible that two subatomic particles, when split, could continue to mirror each other's movements, as physicists have found, it seems unlikely that a cure which contains little or no active ingredient can effectively treat the physical body. My point, of course, is that knowledge continues to evolve and often in the most unlikely directions. I'm certainly not advocating a blind pursuit of any and all medical quackery, but as a society we could benefit from a little less blind trust in our "experts" and a little more healthy (pun intended) skepticism of their methods and motives.

--C REED

Burbank

*

One is struck by the similarity of Cassileth's undoubted prejudice to the critiques of acupuncture so often expressed in the past. One might even think back a bit further to the expulsion, shall we call it, of osteopathic and naturopathic doctors, for that is what they were, from the practice of medicine in the U.S. These are all well-accepted practices worldwide, used by hundreds of millions of people. Only here, where the American Medical Assn. and the pharmaceutical industry have bought the ear of far too many politicians, are these practices viewed as suspect. With words that appear to be about health and concern, they attempt to cloud the people's reason so that they might not notice the reality, which is one of economic power and control. The more people who use alternative health methods, the less dollars flow into the corporate till.

One is not surprised by Cassileth's opinion, for one must recognize that she is a part and product of the system that she represents.

--ROGER BOWERS

Los Angeles

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