PRINCE CHARLES KICKS UP A FUSS OVER HOMEOPATHY
Crown Prince Interfering With The Health Service?
‘If he wishes to lobby ministers, he should stand for Parliament or join a lobbying firm, but he should not be using his position as heir to the throne to do it.” — – – Paul Flynn, Labor MP
Prince Charles has pissed off some of the big guns in the UK who are responsible for national health policy. They say he has been meeting privately with the UK’s Health Minister to get a more liberal policy on drugs. Specifically he wants them to keep “homeopathic remedies” on the menu even though there’s no evidence that they work. According to the Mail, the prince’s active lobbying is wrong.
What the prince is into is strange stuff. Homeopathic organizations are generally hostile to regular doctors, regular hospitals, and regular drugs. Homeopaths excuse themselves from the need for all the usual scientific testing of their “elixirs”. You either believe or you don’t. If you don’t it’s probably because you’ve been influenced by the “medical establishment”.
Here, in the US, homeopathic remedies are available all over the place. Look on the shelves of your drugstore. They look authentic but, if you inspect the package carefully, you will see that there probably aren’t any active ingredients. There’s just water or just alcohol (sometime there is a faint amount of something else but nothing a doctor would ever think of as medicine).
The American Medical Association says these guys are quacks.
Well, Prince Charles isn’t our problem. Years ago, Americans made it pretty clear how we feel about the monarchy. No need to rehash.
We’ve got our own issues with homeopathy.
THE SITUATION IN THE US
A 1938 US law requires homeopathic stuff to be treated like any other over the counter medications. This “allows” you to be buying homeopathic remedies when you really thought you were buying something that would cure your headache. The packages have an air of authenticity. You might need a magnifying glass to see that this is a homeopathic “remedy”.
Maybe you think that drugstores have a duty to educate their customers about products that lack any active ingredients or any proof of efficacy but I guess that’s not how the boss at the store sees it. Drugstores “appreciate the business” and “respect consumer choice”.
Don’t get hoodwinked. Water doesn’t fix headaches.
THE DUBIOUS PRACTICE OF HOMEOPATHY
What is homeopathy? It seems to have originated in 1796. Samuel Hahnemann had the idea that he should be able to cure a disease by a) figuring out what its symptoms are b) finding a substance that caused “similar” symptoms (cinchona bark, for example, makes you feel woozy with symptoms similar to malaria) 3) weakening (diluting) the substance until it is basically gone 4) Giving what’s left of the original substance (or isn’t left) to the patient.
No seriously. That it. That’s the cure.
The odds are that, after the repeated dilutions, there’s nothing left in the bottle but water or alcohol. You spoon it out to the patient and he.she quickly recovers from vapours, consumption or, I suppose, prostate cancer.
Here’s how a homeopathic remedy is usually made. First you dilute the solution. Then, you knock the container against something a few times (succussion). You do that over and over again. How many times seems to vary, depending on the recipe. Some practitioners don’t give the actual potion to the patient. Instead they pin a piece of paper with the name of the active ingredient to the patient’s clothes, place it in the patient’s pocket, or position it under a glass of water which the patient than drinks.
You don’t believe me, right? How could something like that work? Especially since the “cure” has nothing curative in it, Luckily, Hahnemann, the father of homeopathy, had the answer for that one too. The water (or alcohol) “remembers” the substance that used to be in it. Even though it is now gone completely.
Well that’s the theory.
Scientifically, it’s nuts, right? But- you know what? If it works, it works.
Look, if I didn’t know better, I wouldn’t have seen the point of zapping a cancer patient with radiation. Or giving chemo which, after all, is pretty toxic. But it’s been shown that those things can help – shown scientifically, that is.
I’m a pragmatist. If homeopathy works, all good then.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t! There is no evidence that would convince anyone but a crazy person (or a prince) that it does.
The top doctor at England’s National Health Service has stated that homeopathy is “rubbish”.
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The two drawings are mine. The photo was snapped in a chain drugstore. I won’t name the store as I don’t imagine the owners would appreciate the publicity.