Posts Tagged homeopathy

PRINCE CHARLES KICKS UP A FUSS OVER HOMEOPATHY

Posted by on Wednesday, 4 September, 2013

 

Diluting a substance

HOMEOPATHY AT WORK

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.

Homeopathy?

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.

CHARLES

Well, Prince Charles isn’t our problem. Years ago, Americans made it pretty clear how we feel about the monarchy. No need to rehash.

Besides.

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.

That’s it.

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.

method

THE USUAL TECHNIQUE

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.

Real stuff?

DRUGSTORES DON’T DISTINGUISH

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.

Here. Read this.

If that doesn’t convince you. Read this, okay?

The top doctor at England’s National Health Service has stated that homeopathy  is “rubbish”.

It is.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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.


Homeopathic Medicine. It Can’t Hurt.

Posted by on Thursday, 17 December, 2009
MemoryOfADrug

Watered down to something?

Homeopathic Medicine: Safe As The Water You Drink

Jange Spengstre is a ballet dancer who lives in East Flatbush (N. Y.) She had a question for the homeopathy expert at Science Ain’t So bad.

“My drugstore sells homeopathic medicine right beside the other stuff and I can’t really tell the difference. The labels look official. Should I be leery of the homeopathic drugs? They claim to be very safe.”

According to Wikipedia, Homeopathic medicine is a form of alternative medicine in which the patient is given a drug which is diluted with water over and over again and “Dilution often continues until none of the original substance remains.”

Which is strange.

If nothing’s left but water, is it.. is the medicine WATER? Is that what they’re selling as a cure?

That’s legal?

Well, Dana Ulman, an “expert in homeopathic medicine” says (Huffington Post) that homeopathy’s fine. Don’t pick on it.

Those who say homeopathic cures are just water are “proving their ignorance”. There’s lots of proof, he says, that very small doses of substances can be efficacious. Why not, he says, think of the homeopathic enterprise as “nanopharmacology” to emphasize the small doses used?

Admitting that the scientific basis for “nanopharmacology” is a mystery, he reminds us that nature is full of mysteries.

WATER HAS A MEMORY?

Practitioners of the art of homeopathy realize that they are diluting the original substance so much that nothing may be left but water. The traditional explanation is that water has a “memory” of the original drug.

Ulman does suggest a couple of novel explanations for how water could have this memory. Could be that “fragments of silica” flake off of the sides of the bottles when they are shaken and those fragments play some role in the mystery. Or maybe it’s the unexpected temperature or pressure effects. You have doubts? What about Brian Josephson, a winner of the coveted Nobel Prize in Physics? He supports Homeopathy. (No offense if you’re a fan of very edgy ideas, but Dr. Wilson’s credibility should be viewed in light of the fact that he also supports ESP.)

You can get a little bit of the other side of this debate from a posting by Paul Wilson.

Not to be a curmudgeon BUT Ulman’s article seems like an effort to confound the facts with a lot of conjecture. And he seems a little confused about the difference between a LITTLE of something and NONE of something. Homeopathy’s fine by me for those who want to believe. But its methodologies aren’t consistent with evidence based science and I, for one, think that there IS something wrong with marketing its products on the same store shelves with drugs whose manufacturers had to spend millions to prove they work.

To Ulman’s fascinating and creative article in the Huffington Post, we give a ScienceAintSoBadRating = 0 . And that’s generous.

PHYSICS: Dark Matter

NAILED IT?

This is sensational.

Dark matter has been identified finally. Or so it seems. We are waiting for confirmation.

ScienceAintSoBadRating = 10