Grand Rounds: “Fibromyalgia and Homeopathy: Holmes, Hogwarts and the Prince of Wales”

February 14, 2008

Bellevue AmphitheaterCommentary by Nitasha Sarswat MD, PGY-3 

This week’s Medicine Grand Rounds speaker was Gerald Weissmann, MD, a familiar face at Bellevue/NYU. He is a professor of rheumatology, the former chairman of the Department of Rheumatology and current director of the Biotechnology Study Center.

Dr. Weissmann began by discussing homeopathic medicine and its roots in the Romantiic reaction against the Enlightenment and how homeopathic treatments today are not rooted in science. He discussed the use of plants such as briony and rhus toxicodendron in gout treatment in modern homeopathy. He went on to discuss how Prince Charles endorsed the false claims of the Royal Homeopathic Hospital and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and how this mistake cost England millions of pounds that could have been used to fund traditional chemotherapy and save lives. He gave several examples of how the actual doses of key ingredients in homeopathic therapies were negligible: white briony in the product “Head On” and duck extract in “Oscillococcinum.”

Dr. Weissman then went on to critique the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia set by the American College of Rheumatology and blasted the use of the dolorimeter as an objective measure of pain at tender points. He implied that the diagnosis of fibromyalgia is more a constellation of symptoms in response to stress rather than an actual disease and likened the treatment and disease to that of “spinal irritation” and other diseases without scientific basis. He gave an example of how Jack Kevorkian assisted the suicide of fibromyalgia patient who lived with severe pain but for whom an autopsy showed no signs of disease. Dr. Weissman concluded his speech by comparing the Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s role in modern medicine with the role an imaginary center for complementary aeronautics would have in modern aviation.

One comment on “Grand Rounds: “Fibromyalgia and Homeopathy: Holmes, Hogwarts and the Prince of Wales”

  • Avatar of Neil
    Neil on

    More people should be aware of the effectiveness of alternative medicine. The homeopaths and herbalists get a really bad rap from the filthy rich doctors and pharmaceutical companies who specialize in prescription medicine. Just because a product is natural doesn’t mean it’s less effective. On top of that, alternative medicines do not kill people. Substituting the right medicine with the wrong medicine does kill people.

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