World Homeopathy Awareness Week 2011

Another year, another week to be made aware of homeopathy. This year’s theme is musculoskeletal well-being. The website is relatively unclear about their mission this year, but they do helpfully provide contact information for different countries that are involved in WHAW 2011. Their Canadian contacts are:

Martine Jourde & Mathieu Bourbonnais
S.P.H.Q. (Syndicat Professionnel des Homéopathes du Québec)
1600 rue de Lorimier, bureau 106,
Montréal (Québec), Canada H2K 3W5
Tel: (514) 525-2037, outside Montréal 1-800-465-5788
Fax: (514) 525-1299
Send an email or email to Martine Jourde
Send an email to Mathieu Bourbonnais
Website: www.sphq.org

Diane Louie, Coordinator
Canadian Society of Homeopaths
haw@csoh.ca
Administration Office: #101 – 1001 West Broadway, Unit 120
Vancouver, BC V6H 4E4
604-803-9242
Send an email
Website: www.csoh.ca

Homeopathic Medical Council of Canada
31 Adelaide Street East, Box 605,
Toronto, ON, M5C 2J8,
Canada
Tel: 416.788.HMCC (4622)
Dr. Ranvir Sharda (President HMCC) Send an email
Dr. Asim Shaikh (Director HMCC) Send an email
or Send an email
website: www.hmcc.ca

They invite people to contact these folks, so I encourage Canadian skeptics to do so. I think, at the very least, some of the following topics are appropriate to have sorted out so we are more aware. I have written with the following questions (I will follow up with any response I get):

  1. How does homeopathy help with specific musculoskeletal problems?
  2. Should homeopathy be given for malaria, AIDS, and/or cancer?
  3. What is your attitude towards immunization?
  4. If I’m concerned about manufacturer accountability, how can I make sure that a 30C homeopathic remedy was actually derived from the ingredient listed on the label?
  5. Are you aware that the term “Doctor” is not a protected title for practicing homeopathy and is illegal in Ontario according to the Regulated Health Professions Act? There is a fine of $25,000 to $50,000 for using “Doctor” illegally.

If you decide to contact these people, feel free to post your correspondence in the comments. If you choose to be firm in your letter, please also be polite. It would be interesting to find out about how homeopathy is being practiced in Canada.

9 Responses to “World Homeopathy Awareness Week 2011”

  1. locklin says:

    As per question 5: the law was changed in 2007 (I wish I was aware of this stuff in 2007):
    33. (1) Except as allowed in the regulations under this Act, no person shall use the title “doctor”, a variation or abbreviation or an equivalent in another language in the course of providing or offering to provide, in Ontario, health care to individuals. 1991, c. 18, s. 33 (1).

    Note: On a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor, section 33 is amended by the Statutes of Ontario, 2007, chapter 10, Schedule P, subsection 20 (1) by adding the following subsections:

    Same

    (1.1) Subsection (1) does not apply to a person who is a member of the College of Naturopaths of Ontario. 2007, c. 10, Sched. P, s. 20 (1).

    Naturopathic doctor

    (1.2) A member referred to in subsection (1.1) shall not use the title “doctor” in written format without using the phrase, “naturopathic doctor”, immediately following his or her name. 2007, c. 10, Sched. P, s. 20 (1).

    Taken from:
    http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_91r18_e.htm#s33s1

  2. I have sent some polite inquiries to a couple of those individuals asking if homeopathic medicine offers an alternative to conventional childhood vaccinations or malaria protection for travellers. So far, only silence in reply. I’ll keep you posted.

  3. Kim Hebert says:

    Just to update everyone, because it had previously slipped my mind, I still have received no response from any of the contacts above to this day.

  4. Ron Brown says:

    Hi Kim,

    Sounds like we’ve got some things in common. I’m about to graduate as an OT from UWO. I just landed my 1st job, too – in California! Winning.

    I’m also quite the skeptic. As such, I’ve been very put off by the lack of skepticism and over-abundance of political correctness in the OT program at UWO – I suspect similar cultures exist in most or all OT programs. On a few occasions over my 2 years in the program I made mention of homeopathy, deriding it is a pseudoscientific placebo. I was put off by how each prof I had mentioned it to was unwilling to say anything critical about it and, really, appeared to have little knowledge about it. Recently we had online audio/video debates on a range of topics; the topic which I participated in was on complementary and alternative meds and whether OTs should support clients/patients in inquiring into and using them. My group was on the Against side (in reality, my position is more nuanced than that, however this was the debate position).

    Anyhow, within my portion of the debate I gave a strong, charged salvo against homeopathy. The next day I received an email from the prof telling me how disappointed she was in me, how rude I was, how I have a tendency to see things in a very black and white manner, how science isn’t the only truth, etc etc. In my reply, I stated that I respectfully stand by my conduct fully. I responded to each of her claims one by one, and the general thrust of my message was that in a program that is always paying lip-service to evidence-based medical practice, if anyone should be disappointed right now, it should be me for having to defend my defense of science against condemnation from my professor. I also responded to her statement that science is not the only truth by 1) agreeing with it, citing issues of purpose and morality and such as being outside the realm of science, and 2) stating that science is absolutely the best set of methods we have for studying the physical universe, and since homeopathy makes specific claims about the physical universe, it falls squarely within the purview of science. In response to her argument that she had once been helped by a homeopathic solution (which, in retrospect, I’m not even sure was homeopathic as it was arnica and I think she said it was the topical cream, not the high-dilution caplets) my response was that I’m happy that her symptoms were alleviated, but why is it that homeopathy only ever seems to work when scientists aren’t looking?

    I never received a reply to my email, which was a few weeks ago. I did however receive a low mark for my debate participation – definitely notably lower, I’m assuming, than classmates whom had come in with notably less preparation. I got 72. That’s pretty low for a Master’s program… I don’t particularly care and so I haven’t made any efforts to rectify this.

    On another note, however, I’ve done some further research into homeopathy since the debate and I read an article in which one of the two authors of a major 1998 Cochrane Review on homeopathy – his name was something like Ernzt; the 1st UK prof of CAM, based at Exeter Univ – is quoted as saying that significant effects of homeopathic meds have been found in animals, for whom presumably the placebo effect is a smaller or absent issue. Are you familiar with this?

    Anyhow, it’d be cool to talk to another skeptical OT. Feel free to email me.

    -Ron

    • Kim Hebert says:

      Hi Ron. I had a very similar experience in my OT program. Though we had plenty of courses on evidence based practice, it seemed those principles could go out the window when convenient. For example, I had a prof discuss one paper being of clinical significance because the non-significant results were in the “right direction”. I also had one of our group labs turn into 7 students and one lab adviser (a licensed OT) shouting me down and calling me “western biased” when I asked “What if my client mentions their desire to eschew science-based treatments for something like homeopathy? What am I allowed to discuss?” (we were discussing scope and client-centeredness). I almost quit the program that day but I thought “change from within”. I also received the occasional low participation mark for speaking up in such occasions when pseudoscience was being given the “everyone’s entitled to their opinion” treatment. I had to remind more than once that people are not entitled to their own facts.

      I am familiar with Ernst. The presumption that animals have a smaller or absent placebo effect is incorrect. Animals absolutely can have a placebo effect and, as importantly, their observers can be subject to bias – 2 points with which Ernst is familiar. If you want a resource of lots of homeopathy literature, I wrote an article on this site summarizing 21 studies that were provided to me by a homeopath: http://www.skepticnorth.com/2010/08/evidence-check-bryce-wylde’s-21-favourite-papers/ I also link to some of Ernst’s work.

  5. Ron Brown says:

    Kim: Don’t you detest how it is considered “tolerant” and “open-minded” to not reject ideas for which the contrary evidence is very strong, and that its “western-biased”, “closed-minded” or otherwise unappealing to be scientifically and rationally responsible? ….

    There is nothing open-minded about refusing to reject an idea regardless of its ludicrousness, lack of scientific evidence for and bountifulness of evidence against.

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  • Kim Hebert

    Kim Hébert is an occupational therapist. She is interested in the promotion of science and reason, particularly regarding therapeutic health interventions. She blogs occasionally about occupational therapy and other health topics at Science-Based Therapy. Her hobbies are art and astronomy. **All views expressed by Kim are her personal views alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of current or former employers, associations, or other affiliations. All information is provided for discussion purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for consultation with a licensed and accredited health professional.