Is homeopathy no better than placebo when used as a vaccine?

A recent study discounts the conceptual benefits for the use of homeopathic preparations of pathogenic materials taken as an inoculation. In short, the study disproved this idea that homeopathically prepared vaccines can produce antigens to the disease. 

The Canadian double-blind study showed that the use of a homeopathically (Ultra High Dilution) prepared vaccine, known as a ‘nosode’, as compared to injectable forms of vaccine and also compared the effects to placebo. The homeopathic ‘nosode’ had no better effect than placebo whereas the injectable vaccines were shown to produce antigens to the disease being inoculated for. 

That no antigens were produced by the homeopathic ‘nosode’ should not come as a surprise to anyone that understands homeopathy or the principle of vaccines. It should be noted that the use of ‘nosodes’ is not based on homeopathic principles.  In homeopathic philosophy this is known as Isopathy where a preparation of a disease substance is manufactured in dilution according to a method of ultra high dilution.  Not all homeopaths ascribe to the above idea and those known as Classical Homeopaths work within principles well established from the inception of Homeopathy in the 1800’s. 

To explain a little about the difference between Isopathy and Homeopathy it should be understood that homeopathic medicines are prescribed upon the nuanced state of an individual’s state or reaction to a disease not on a diagnosed name of the disease being treated. 

The actual term used by homeopaths for the use of a nosode is ‘isopathy’. Isopathy is more similar to desensitization than to homeopathy and works similarly to desensitization in allergy treatments. The word Homeopathy is derived from the Greek words ‘Homos’ (man) and ‘pathy’ (similar illness).  Where a medicine is prescribed by its ability to produce the similar state of reaction a patient is having.

This means that homeopathy, if it works, does so attenuating the body’s responses or state of reaction when diseased. It occurs by giving a dose of a substance that produces the similar state of reaction. It is given in dilution so there is only a stimulus to the body’s vital responses to its own management of the disease. The best reactions to homeopathic medicines come from the similarity the medicine has to the state the patient is in. The homeopathic medicine being prescribed is not prescribed to treat a pathogenic disease and is not used for a drug effect limiting the body’s responses to that particular disease. When well prescribed a homeopathic supports an efficiency of reaction through stimulus of the sensitivity a patient has to a ‘like’ medicine. A well-prescribed homeopathic medicine is one that produces not a disease but one that produces a condition of reaction to that disease. This can mean that homeopathic medicines are given to each individual and not in defense of a single pathogen. 

As a homeopath there are times when a so-called ‘nosode’, remedy made from a disease, is useful and I have found the limited experimentation I’ve made with using these for prevention unremarkable. So, my experience is that the study is useful to limit the un-homeopathic use of ‘isopathy’. Further, it is also my experience that combination formulas of homeopathically prepared medicines are also unreliable. My hope from this study is that homeopaths and medical practitioners using homeopathy return to the practices that are well proven in the field. I myself have undergone a return to the original works of homeopaths as these I have found to be the most reliable resources.

As a homeopath it is my job to understand this study and so for any homeopath or member of the public that held the belief that homeopathically prepared medicines can be as effective at creating immunity can now be certain that the benefits are simply not there. What deserves further questioning is the manner of the body’s sensitivity to a ‘like’ producing substance and further understanding of the remarkable responses to ‘Ultra High Dilution’ medicines. There are plenty of supportive scientific studies demonstrating this principle.