Sunday, 28 April 2013

'Homeopathy is nonsense' - If our new Chief Scientific Advisor can't stop talking nonsense, boot him out

The Letter below has been sent by Oliver Dowding to Sir Mark Walport - the new Chief Scientific Advisor to our Coalition Government. Chief Scientific Advisor? What a joke! But as presumably he gets a fee for that title (which we taxpayers pay) and is expected by the public to offer sound advice and not just follow arguments peddled by the pharmaceutical and pesticides industry, it is a bad joke. 

He follows a long line of those such as Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer, and his predecessor, Sir John Beddington, who publicly displayed their ignorance about homeopathy’s benefits. 

Sir Mark, who took up his post three weeks ago, was formerly head of the Wellcome Trust, the biomedical research charity, and a professor of medicine at Imperial College London. Surprise surprise! Another example of the ‘revolving door’ relationship between government and organisations whose handouts benefit the pharmaceutical industry.

The Wellcome Trust was set up by a pharmaceutical magnate, Sir Henry Wellcome, so you can imagine for whose ultimate benefit its billions are disbursed. It comes number two in size behind the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which spends millions pushing the use of vaccines with nasty side effects. Why is that deplorable? Start by looking at

Will Sir Mark with his Wellcome Trust background march to the pharmaceutical and pesticide industry’s drum? No doubt about that. See his Twitter at  . It implicitly or explicitly supports
  1. Use of MMR, a vaccine with dangerous side effects, against the disease of measles, which disease in my childhood everyone at school was encouraged to get in order to achieve a lifelong natural immunisation, which is impossible with any vaccine
  2. Use of pesticides and herbicides, including neonicotinoids which have been shown to have been killing bees. See eg
  3. Ignoring the “precautionary principle” by the device of delaying tactics eg “where there is uncertainty about neonicotinoids we must reduce this by further fieldwork” - even though many would say the research has already been done.  
All of this is couched in what I call ‘legal language’ to cover the author. 

What we badly need is a long long rest from the ‘advice’ of all those influenced by BigPharma, and a government with the balls to divert the bulk of the public’s ‘Health Revenues’ into the gentle, effective natural remedies, such as homeopathy, herbalism, naturopathy, osteopathy etc which have been shown when responsibly practised to achieve public satisfaction levels way above those that use of suppressive chemicals by allopathy achieves.  Our own health and the health of our environment demands that.


To Sir Mark Walport
Government Office for Science
1 Victoria Street 

Dear Sir Mark

I'm writing to you with regard to an article in which you were recently quoted. This was in the Daily Telegraph, but also went out in many other media channels. 

Naturally I'm well aware that homoeopathy is a divisive subject, particularly amongst "health professionals". However, it seems to me that there are many who dismiss its efficacy potential purely on the basis of a lack of understanding of either its mode of action, or ignorance of the huge range of cases where it has demonstrated a great deal of success. Just because we don't understand things and how they work doesn't mean that they don't or that we are right.

I'm aware that coming across examples of a positive outcome can prove challenging when one's mind is already made up. Yours appears to be most definitely made up.

Even more concerning is that you, with your stature and official position to uphold, chose to refer to homoeopaths as "nonsense". Maybe you'd care to explain what you mean? You also suggested it held "absolutely no medical benefit".

I'm not going to get into the debate about the use of homoeopathy for treating such diseases as malaria. That's beyond my level of understanding and competence. That doesn't mean to say I don't understand a little of how it might work. But I don't understand the totality of how it works, and it's possible that nobody does, yet. That doesn't mean that it doesn't work.

You can argue all you like about homoeopathy being no different to a placebo, but I can tell you if that is your view, then you are assuredly wrong. I appreciate you are referred to as Britain's Chief Scientist, but it doesn't mean that you are right in making such an assertion. You would be right to say that the £4 million which the NHS spends on homoeopathy isn't a lot, given the overall cost of the NHS. In my experience and understanding, homoeopathy delivers phenomenal results from this very small outlay. The cost of homoeopathic remedies is minimal by comparison to conventional pharmaceutical "drugs".

Perhaps you aren't aware about how homoeopathy is delivered by the NHS? 
Perhaps you think that all the doctors offering homoeopathy are only trained in and dealing in this one area? 
Maybe you don't appreciate that many of these doctors have been trained in both conventional allopathic treatments, at the start of their career, and later have added homoeopathic training and qualifications?
Maybe you don't appreciate that this is also the case for veterinary surgeons, the area with which I have much greater understanding due to my being a farmer. 
Perhaps you aren't aware that many of the cases that these dual trained doctors end up treating are those which reached the end of the road and the NHS had given up on? Often the people in this category are those who have been effectively consigned to death, and often these people are rescued. How do you price that?

How did I come to be so passionately supportive of homoeopathy? My experience is with the animal kingdom. Not as a homoeopathic vet, but as a farmer. I've explained my experiences on this is in many different places, as I'm determined to defend what I know is highly efficacious in treating a massive range of ailments. On my farm this was over a long period in a large dairy herd. We also used homoeopathy to treat the same herd's young stock (offspring). 

Please be assured that these animals didn't fake either their illness or their recovery. They were genuinely ill, often with mastitis, and their recovery was frequently quicker than under the normal antibiotic regime. This was all overseen by conventionally minded veterinary surgeons, who were always impressed with our animal welfare, even if they didn't understand how it was that homoeopathy was resolving the problems. 

I also participated in various trials, including one with Bristol University. I'm pleased to be able to tell you that our results stood us in the top half of the performance table. 

For the 15 years in which homoeopathy was the mainstay of our healthcare policy, treating 300 dairy cows and 200 of their offspring, and administered by at least 12 people over that period of time, we saw an effective outcome in well over 90% of all the animals we treated. Furthermore, the results were often achieved much quicker than would be the case using allopathic medication, without antibiotics, and therefore no residues ever found their way into the bulk milk sample. Would you not consider this alone to be a good thing, not least given the worrying upsurge in antibiotic resistance being detected in the general population?

Sometimes the veterinary surgeons were perplexed as to how homoeopathy was achieving these positive results, but sadly they never let their scientific background bring themselves to ask deep questions and to learn why that might be. That always seemed a significant failing to me, as I thought a scientist would want to know why and to explore deeper, rather than dismiss reality of the situation based on their lack of understanding. Furthermore, they were denying their other clients the potential that would and still does exist for their animals to benefit from utilising homoeopathy. 

So, may I suggest that you could, in preference to dismissing something of which it appears that you do not know very much, turn your attention to areas where allopathic medicine is falling short, is overpriced, is causing complications, and also has doctorswho aren't reporting failures or side effects, etc. 

You were quick to dismiss homoeopathy, I hope you will not be similarly quick to ignore the points I make. This is a polarised area of debate, but it is not made any the better for having one side or the other being totally dismissing each other. For the record, I'm am also an ardent fan of conventional allopathic medication, but in the right place, and at the right time.

Should you seek to investigate, rather than dismiss, then I would happily arrange for you to spend time with Homoeopathy at Wellie Level who were placed 3rd in the Farmers Weekly Livestock Advisor of the Year awards in 2010. HAWL are run by veterinary surgeons, and homoeopaths.

Oliver Dowding

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