By Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH
Georgian College Cancels Diploma in Homeopathy
Georgian College cancelled their new three-year diploma program for homeopathy after intense and aggressive attacks from a handful of medical doctors and 'scientists' representing special interest groups. The fact that a college can be bullied into cancelling an educational program by a handful of individuals is already very sad but it is even sadder that the CBC, our national news agency, engaged in such misinformed, biased and manipulative reporting, creating a propaganda piece instead of objective information. You can read the article here.
I therefore decided to file a complaint with the Ombudsman of the CBC as the article violates every single one of the Journalistic Standards and Practices the CBC espouses. I strongly encourage anyone who uses homeopathy, who wants choice in health care, or who simply wants better journalism, especially from our National Broadcaster and news agency, to also file a complaint.
Here is what I wrote, you can use this for inspiration but please write in your own words or they will not accept it as a separate complaint.
Dear Ms. Enkin,
I am writing to file a complaint in regards to the article “Georgian College cancels diploma in homeopathy”, written by Kelly Crowe and published on February 9 by CBC News online.
The content of the article stands in direct conflict with every single one of the journalistic standards and practices that are part of the CBC's mandate.
CBC proclaims to be Canada’s national news and information service and espouses the following values: To serve the public interest, to reflect diversity, to protect our independence, to act responsibly and to be accountable, to strive for accuracy, fairness and balance, impartiality and integrity. This article violates every single one of those values. It is highly inaccurate, misleading, biased and definitely not impartial, does not reflect diversity, but rather the opinions of a special interest group, which does not bode well for impartiality or integrity.
Here are my concerns:
Ms. Crowe writes: “The provincially funded community college had planned to start courses in September to train students to use sugar pills to treat "acute and chronic health conditions."
The college did not plan to train students to use ‘sugar pills’, a derogatory and inaccurate statement, but to train professional homeopaths how to administer homeopathic remedies.
The program was approved by the Geogian College Board of Governers and the Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development as Ms. Crowe states herself, quite possibly the only shred of truth in the entire article.
For your information, homeopathic remedies are prepared by a lengthy process of potentization, which includes repeated serial dilution and agitation. The solution is then used to medicate lactose or sucrose pellets which are medically active and far from sugar pills or placebos.
Some facts about homeopathy:
Homeopathy has a 200-year history of use around the world and hundreds of studies meeting modern validity criteria have been published showing effectiveness of homeopathic remedies for many conditions.
Please take a look at this partial list of published homeopathic research compiled by my Australian colleague Dr. Robert Medhurt, posted on this website http://www.homeopathy-healing.com/research-homeopathy-robert-medhurst/.
Several years ago the Swiss government commissioned the most extensive research review by a government to date regarding the effectiveness of homeopathy. The report was published in 2011, entitled “Homeopathy in Healthcare - Effectiveness, Appropriateness, Safety, Costs, by Bornhoft and Matthiessen and published by Springer Verlag. http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783642206375/.
This breakthrough report affirmed that homeopathic treatment is both effective and cost-effective and that homeopathic treatment should be reimbursed by Switzerland’s national health insurance program. As a result homeopathy is now covered by the Swiss medical services as long as a medical doctor prescribes the remedies.
India has widely embraced homeopathy on a state and national level. In 1973, the Government of India recognized homeopathy as one of the national systems of medicine and set up the Central Council of Homeopathy (CCH) to regulate its education and practice.
One of many homeopathic medical colleges in India - photo credit Mike Andrews
Only qualified registered homeopaths can practice homeopathy in India. At present, in India, homeopathy is the third most popular method of medical treatment after allopathy and Ayurveda. Currently there are over 200,000 registered homeopathic doctors, with approximately 12,000 more being added every year.
India is also using homeoprophylaxis, the use of homeopathy for the prevention of infectious diseases. In one study alone 20 million children were immunized against Japanese Encephalitis, demonstrating an excellent success rate whereby death from JE dropped from 1500+ cases per year to 0 in a matter of 5 years.
Other countries around the world are also supporting homeopathy. In Germany, for instance, all medical students are required to take courses in homeopathy and homeopathy is widely integrated into general medical practice. The use of homeopathy by general medical practitioners is similar in France and Belgium.
The Cuban government has also long supported homeopathy and has also conducted large-scale trials of homeoprophylaxis on millions of people with excellent results. You can read about one of these trials here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=cuba+leptospirois%2C+homeoprophylaxis
The Royal Family Supports Homeopathy
England's Royal family is a strong supporter of homepoathy. The Queen's personal physician is a homeopathic MD, Dr. Peter Fisher. Ever wonder why she is still able to be an active monarch at age 91? Homeopathy! If anyone can have the best of the best it would be the Queen, no? Listen to this debate between the Queens personal physician and a skeptic about homeopathy.
All these are some simple facts and statistics that can’t be denied and anyone with a grade 12 education or less and access to a computer can learn the truth for themselves.
Yet, Ms. Crowe chose to completely ignore any scientific evidence or government use of homeopathy in favour of allowing a couple of Canadian medical doctors with no background in homeopathy whatsoever to malign this system of medicine.
This is not unbiased reporting and does not live up to any journalistic standards.
In addition, she only quote two medical doctors who have no background in homeopathy as her experts, including Dr. Giroshev, a pain specialist and part-time emergency room physician.
She writes:“Giorshev is already seeing evidence of homeopathy's impact in his hospital's emergency room.
"We see people, they have the flu and they're sick and I ask, 'Did you get a flu shot?' and they say, 'My homeopath gave me a flu shot,' and I think, 'Well, you actually didn't get anything.'"
Now, I have no problem with an article presenting both sides of a story; that is what journalism is supposed to do. So by all means, she can quote Dr. Giorshev, although I doubt that his patients told him they received a homeopathic flu shot or that even any of his patients said so. Is it in the charts, can we interview those patients or did Dr. Giorshev just make it up to prove an opinion?
Doing a little research on him I see that he is on the Board of the Ontario Medical Association which is heavily influenced by the pharmaceutical industry. I’m sure Ms. Crowe didn’t bother to check that either.
He may be on the industry’s payroll, which again, would be fine, had Ms. Crowe brought other opinions to the table.
Now, some homeopaths may offer homeoprophylaxis for the flu and other conditions, but a properly trained homeopath does not call it a homeopathic flu shot, that is a misstatement.
The use of homeopathic remedies to prevent infectious disease is called homeoprophyalxis, as mentioned, and is not related to vaccination although the end effect of preventing infectious disease can be similar.
Also it’s not as if the conventional flu shot works so well, Canada’s top public health official recently commented publicly that this year’s flu shot is only 10% effective. But Canadians pay $1.5-2 billion per year for advertising and administration of the flu shot – call me crazy but is this not a more important story than to spread misinformation about homeopathy and enjoy the demise of a promising educational program which would have enabled more Canadians to access choices in health care?
Choices that they could very easily make if they lived in Switzerland, England or even India where the government covers the cost. If anything, we should be learning from them. It would save health care dollars, tax dollars.
This is in the interest of the public and the CBCs should be reporting on this if it was truly independent and not influenced by politics or economic factors.
Years of Nonsense
The article continues with the subheading 'Years of nonsense'. Is this is a fact or an opinion? Is it unbiased? Is such as sub-heading responsible or accountable as the CBC's journalistic standards and practice guideline espouse? Fair? Does it show integrity? Or is it slander?
To further quote from her article: "To put students through three years of nonsense so that they can go out and practice placebo treatments is totally unfair to those students and it's unfair to the public," said Schwarcz.
Years of nonsense? Let's take a look at the course outline for the college, you can read the whole outline here. Does that look like nonsense to you?
For the record, an education in homeopathy is far from being years of nonsense.
Homeopathy is hands-down the most rigorous and difficult medical science to study and apply. A three-year education may not sound like a lot and honestly, it is just a beginning when it comes to homeopathy. I have been practicing as an ND homeopath for 26 years and I spend hours every day studying homeopathy and analyzing my patient’s cases. Ever professional homeopath does the same. We all groan about it and love it at the same time because our work is not only highly rewarding but also very interesting. A wonderful career for very intelligent, inquisitive people who love to help others.
We have thousands of remedies to choose from and finding the correct remedy, which is selected based on all aspects of the person's condition as well as their life history, emotional state, family history and much more can take hours of research for each case.
It requires extreme attention in diligence to consistently deliver good results in homeopathy, not to mention we usually see cases where conventional medicine has given up on the patient. This just adds to the pressure. Would be stay in practice if it didn’t work? Not likely.
So to ask medical doctors with no training or experience in homeopathy to comment on the system is akin to asking a mechanic to comment on the intricacies of brain surgery.
Misquoting and misleading
“The program documents say homeopathic vaccines, called "nosodes," were part of the program. One course — HOMP1002— would have taught "concepts related to remedy selection, aggravations, antidotes, polycrests and nosodes." ("Polycrest" is another term for homeopathic treatments.)”
Now, as you can plainly see yourself, here is the actual section of the program document in question:
“HOMP1002 Introduction to Materia Medica 42.0 Hours:
Students are introduced to the materia medica of homeopathy and develop a basic understanding of the classifications and relationships of homeopathic medicines. Using established homeopathic principles and practices, students begin an analysis of the materia medica. Concepts related to remedy selection, aggravations, antidotes, polycrests and nosodes as well as inimical and complementary relationships are discussed. Students begin their investigation of individual medicines through the study of first aid remedies. P- HOMP1000 Foundations of Homeopathy”
First of all, the program outline, as you can see, does not mention ‘homeopathic vaccines’ at all. So where exactly did Ms Crowe read that?
Secondly, nosodes are not homeopathic vaccines but remedies made from any number of disease organisms or products, many of which are frequently used in homeopathy to treat various chronic conditions. Some nosodes, a handful out of hundreds of such remedies, also have applications for the prevention of infectious diseases. Non-nosodes can also be used to prevent infectious diseases, for example the remedy Lathyrus sativus, a plant in the pea family, has been successfully used to prevent polio and homeopathic Belladonna, Deadly Nightshade has a long history of use in the prevention of scarlet fever.
As mentioned previously, this is called ‘homoeprophylaxis’, not homeopathic vaccines. A method entirely different from vaccines. Ms. Crowe is intentionally misleading and confusing the reader here. Her statements are neither accurate, nor unbiased or fair, or shows integrity.
Ms. Crowe also failed to do her homework on ‘polycrests’, which are not ‘another term for homeopathic treatment’ as she states, but refers to the use of certain remedies which have a multiple indications for use, therefor the name ‘poly’, as in many. Embarrassing isn’t it, to have such a sloppy journalist on your team, no? I would give her an F for accuracy and another F for ‘fired’.
a combining form with the meanings “much, many” and, in chemistry,“polymeric,” used in the formation of compound words:
polyandrous; polyculture; polyethylene.
< Greek, combining form representing polýs; akin to Old English felamany. See plus
Her next 'expert witness', Joe Schwarcz, director of McGill University's Office of Science and Society, is also welcome to share his uneducated opinion but again, it would have been only appropriate if in addition to these two obvious haters of homeopathy an actual expert on homeopathy had been interviewed to provide balance for the article.
Novel idea, I know, but I believe a common strategy in professional journalism.
I could mention a few candidates, including representatives of the other homeopathic colleges in Toronto or the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, also in Toronto. They are not hard to find.
And why is Ms. Crowe stating another opinion as fact without clarifying that is is just an opinion? “Homeopathy is based on a scientifically implausible belief in an unproven theory — that water can be exposed to plants or minerals and retain a memory of those molecules, even after all traces of the compound have been eliminated through dilution. Added to that is the unproven conviction that the water, sprayed onto sugar pellets, has curative powers for a wide range of human disease.” Not written as quote or as an opinion, but as a fact and also incorrect.
Not only plants and minerals are used in homeopathy but also many other substances, including animal substances, different types of radiation, medications, vaccines and numerous chemical compounds.
The remedies are not made by a process of dilution but by potentization, which included vigorous agitation of the solution between steps. Without this addition of energy the system does not work. So Ms. Crowe really does not understand the process at all.
She could have written that some people think the above statement which she wrote is true, but that the actual scientific evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathy contradicts this opinions and at the very least should warrant further scientific inquiry. Much closer to the truth.
Science is about Finding the Truth, not denying it
Science is about finding the truth, not denying it. So what if we don’t always understand how something works, does that mean it doesn’t work or that we just haven’t figured it out yet? Should we stop looking?
We don’t know how gravity works and we’re not falling off the planet, nor do we stop investigating this phenomenon.
Why would so-called scientists protest research being done with homeopathy? Is this not a much more interesting story? If homeopathy is a placebo, as these experts claim, then no harm is done and if it works maybe we can learn something, help people, reduce human suffering, save costs. Investigate that! I find it most interesting that anyone would try and prevent certain research from being done. But the same critics complain that there is not enough research.
Are the Swiss, a country held in high regards around the world, complete idiots? Do they only know how to make chocolate and clocks? Why would their government embrace homeopathy when they found it both effective and cost-effective?
Right, the Swiss know nothing about money, that’s why the whole world brings them theirs!
And research on homeopathy for children with ADHD? Why on Earth not? If it works, and it does as I frequently treat children with ADHD, would it not be better than to medicate young children with drugs that have many side effects and that have never been studied for long-term use? We are now seeing young men with heart attacks from years of use of stimulant medications for ADHD. Is that okay?
But to protest against even looking, that is not science, that is oppression.
Homeopathy is and always has been the biggest threat to the pharmaceutical industry in the world. Homeopathy is extremely inexpensive, very effective and has the potential to heal people at a deep level, thereby creating better health and less need for drugs, not something the pharmaceutical industry wants.
7000 totally ineffective homeopathic remedies
“At McMaster University, researchers are studying the homeopathic nosodes in human volunteers, but the purpose of that study is to prove they don't work, according to lead research Mark Loeb.
"Our hypothesis is that these homeopathic vaccines will not show any impact on the immune system," Loeb told CBC News.”
Running a study with the expectation of a certain outcome is also not exactly science, something Ms. Crowe failed to notice.
And why does Ms. Crowe continue to refer to nosodes and ‘homeopathic vaccines’ as if that is all homeopathy has to offer? Does she have any idea that there are over 7300 different remedies available in homeopathy? And that maybe only 20 or 30 are commonly used for homeoprophylaxis? Perhaps this would be worth mentioning.
Prof Joe Schwarcz, photo credit Cliff Spicer, Canadian Press. Question: What is he doing? Selling Listerine? This is a professor? And a science skeptic? And we're supposed to trust his opinion on homeopathy?
“But Schwarcz said there's already been plenty of evidence that homeopathy is ineffective.
"Non-existent molecules do not cure existing diseases. It's as simple as that." “
Well, Dr. Schwarcz, have you ever heard about radiation therapy? Used for cancer all the time, in spite of there being nonexistent molecules. Or X-rays? Perhaps UV therapy for infant jaundice or psoriasis? Sunlight anyone? No molecules there but life would not exist on the planet without it.
Just because there are no molecules in something does not mean it can’t have an effect, sorry, Dr. Schwarcz and Kelly Crowe. In addition, Dr. Schwarcz has probably never heard of nano-medicine or quantum physics. After all, he is a professional skeptic, basically an opinion on legs, a big yap, who has not bothered to actually look for himself, because that would be tragic for a scientist. Let’s not do the research, for heaven’s sake.
A Sad Day for Canada and for Canadian Journalism
To sum up, this is a terrible piece of writing, poorly researched, inaccurate, biased, unbalanced, partial to one opinion, hostile to an entire system of medicine and its users and therefor non-inclusive, even though that is another value espoused in CBC’s journalistic standards. No trace of integrity in this writing.
In addition, it is a sad day in Canada when a few rogue medical doctors, most likely funded by Big Pharma are able to intimidate a college into dropping an educational course. Now this is a story that would have been worthy of an investigative piece of journalism.
Canada is a pluralistic society and we all deserve the chance to learn what we want, to see for ourselves, to think for ourselves, to have choices. That is freedom, that is democracy.
It is also safety. People interested in homeopathy will simply revert to obtaining their training elsewhere, online if necessary. It would be much safer for the public to see a professionally trained homeopath who was mentored by experienced clinicians in a classroom setting with peers, than someone whose training was purely or mostly done online.
I would very much appreciate a thoughtful response to my complaint as well as another article by the CBC correcting the mistakes and providing a more balanced report about homeopathy. The CBC is not doing Canadians any service with such poor and biased reporting.
The CBC can do far better, both for itself and for Canada.
Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH, Naturopathic Physician and Classical Homeopath
Please write to the CBC and cc to all the other players as well, contact info again here:
Ombudsman of the CBC to submit through their website or firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to email directly, makes it easier to cc
Ms. Kelly Crowe
Professor Joe Schwarcz
Dr. Christopher Giorshev
#2-279 Yonge St.
Barrie, Ontario L4N 7T9
Board of Governors – Georgian College
Office of the President of Georgian College
Suzanne Fortier, Principal of McGill University in case you'd like to complain about Joe Schwarcz, I don't think the tax-payers should pay his salary either
Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH, Naturopathic Pediatrics
209-1061 Fort Street, Victoria, BC, V8V 5A1
Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10-6 and alternating Saturdays from 10-4