Homeopathy: Wasting resources for distributing water

They do not call it “water” of course. They call it a “homeopathic remedy“… And I was very disappointed to see a leaflet in my University, promoting the Polyclinic which “provides a unique grouping of complementary therapy teaching clinics, offering reliable treatment at affordable prices“, one of them being homeopathy: the distribution of water…

What strikes me the most about homeopathy is how gullible some people can be. I admit I didn’t know what homeopathy was until about a year ago. Before, I though it was a legitimate scientific medicine branch. But then a friend of mine (thanks Artie) told me how it is supposed to work. And I was shocked! How can any sane human being accept it by default when he/she first hears what it is and how it works?!? You have to at least investigate further! And then it becomes even more absurd!!

Homeopathy: no science behind it, no sense behind it, no conclusive reports, goes against proven science and medicine. Yet people still believe in it and still waste money on it…

I started reading about homeopathy very actively, and I have even tried it a couple of times. It is ridiculous. It is placebo with a new alias. A very brief introduction would be: “homeopathic remedies are very highly diluted substances that are supposed to treat the same symptoms that they produce when not diluted (this is called ‘like cures like’)” (!) So for example, to treat insomnia, you get highly diluted caffeine! Then, the higher the dilution the more powerful the remedy! So the typical dilution in homeopathy is 30C or even 200C, which means that the substance has been diluted in 100 parts of water, for 30 or 200 times respectively! That, of course, leaves absolutely no substance at all in the final remedy, and it has now become pure water. In order to have just one molecule of the original substance in a 200C remedy, you would need as many molecules of water as there are atoms in the whole solar system! So here comes to the rescue the main homeopathic “idea”: water has memory! It is able to keep an imprint of the substance. And of course, it can recognize the good substance to remember instead of the various other substances and organisms it comes in contact with during preparation [sarcasm here].

I am not going to delve any further into the mechanics (or absence) of it, as there are numerous places to introduce you to homeopathy. The bottom line however, remains that homeopathy is completely non-scientific, there is no evidence to support either the efficacy or the claimed mechanics, and it highly resembles pseudo-science bull-crap (excuse my language please).

Recently, I had an email exchange with a member of the board of the Hellenic Homeopathic Medical Society, conveniently called Dr. V. Since I knew what exactly to ask him, I got back a series of answers where Dr. V manages to debunk homeopathy on its own perhaps without even realizing it! My email consisted of mainly three questions listed here along with Dr. V answers (translated from Greek, original email available upon request and consent from the authors):

  • Isn’t the final solution pure water since the number of high dilutions goes well above the Avogadro number?

    […] Your reference to the Avogadro number is correct, and you are well justified to wonder how the solution has a biological effect on the body […]

  • How is the diagnosis performed? Is it only by reference to the Materia Medica *) or do you use other means as well?

    […] I am not sure what you mean by “diagnosis”. What a homeopathic doctor tries to do is figure out which substance from the Materia Medica has the greatest resemblance to the symptoms of the patient (through a rigorous “interview” of the patient). Traditional means are NOT used, such as any kind of machinery, blood sample examination, [x-rays etc] […]

  • How did the ‘like cures like’ theory occur? Has it actually been proved at a molecular level that this is indeed the case?

    […] No, at a molecular/biological level it has not been proved […]

So, what we have here is a completely unscientific and unsupported by evidence practice, where the remedies are actually just water, they have been proven not to have ANY effect at all at a molecular/biological level, go directly against the highly successful pathogen scientific theory, and where “doctors” (or better homeopaths) reach conclusions and prescribe remedies without even examining the patient!

The good of Homeopathy (only if used as complementary and NOT as alternative):

  • Homeopathic doctors actually pay attention and care for the patient
  • Patients may well benefit and initiate self-healing (placebo)

So, is there anything in favor of homeopathy according to Dr. V? Yes, apparently there is: the “amazing clinical results“! Now, these results are either anecdotal, based on brainwashed patients that swear that they feel better (what an objective report!), or based on dubious and flawed trials that actually aimed at proving that homeopathy works (a bit biased maybe?). At the same time there have also been numerous scientific reports reaching the conclusion that homeopathy is no better than placebo. There has actually been a meta-analysis report (among many others) published in Lancet that concluded that the time for further research for homeopathy has now passed and the grace period is over. Resources should be directed to other [more rational] fields with scientific basis. Yes. These are the results that Dr. V was referring to.

In any case, I truly believe that homeopathy works. Let me explain. When the conventional doctor spends less than 5 minutes with you, and sometimes even sends you home saying: “give it time and it will heal”, people are a bit dissatisfied. On the other end, homeopaths spend quality time with the patients, talking about their past, their hobbies etc. which already makes the patient feel better and initiate the (amazingly powerful) self-healing processes. If some wish to “camouflage” placebo as homeopathy, fine by me, no problems, it is good for the patients. It should be made clear however, that this is only a complementary approach and should not substitute traditional, scientific medicine and treatment.

But there are a few things that really annoy me when it comes to homeopathy and other pseudo-scientific bull****.

The three curses of Homeopathy:

  • Misuses scientific research and restricts its advancement
  • Claims to heal pretty much everything often leading patients to ignore proper treatment
  • Wastes our tax money and resources!

First, they try to use scientific terms and totally non-related science to justify some of their absurd claims and gain some credibility. I remember someone once told me that homeopathy works because of quantum mechanics… I have seen published reports that concluded that results are very unclear and do not prove anything, being used as supportive of the homeopathic claims in various websites! Sometimes, completely unrelated scientific papers are being used in order to attach some value to homeopathy! For example, have a look at any resource you want in the “proof for homeopathy” web site and you will see what I mean. Another example is the blog of a famous advocate of homeopathy, John Benneth. The sources he cites are either non-scientific, non-related to homeopathy, or totally inconclusive! Yet he is using them to “prove” that homeopathy works! Also strange is the homeopathic campaign against vaccinations (vaccinations which might not be perfect but have saved many, many lives in the past). In the Greek Homeopathic Union (or something) they strangely ignore the vast amounts of scientific research that prove that vaccination had nothing to do with autism or other significant symptoms. Instead, and once again, they base their text on anecdotal (biased) reports.

Second, homeopathy claims to heal all kinds of diseases and conditions from cancer and asthma, to allergic shocks and autism! This is dangerous: patients might bypass normal and proven treatment to try homeopathy, which may well lead them to a much worse condition and potentially their deaths (and it has happened a number of times, although bad cases are of course “forgotten” very easily or attributed to other reasons). Arnica Montana alone, is supposed to cure pretty much everything imaginable!

Third, we pay taxes to fund homeopathic hospitals and clinics!!! At a time when NHS has huge money problems, they still instill money to such an unproven pseudo-scientific field when proper research with the potential to save thousands of lives is restricted! This is totally unacceptable. Also, homeopathic remedies do not go through the rigorous processes that normal medicine goes before released -which is obvious as otherwise there is nothing to test on pure water!

In all cases, it is very dangerous and misleading to claim what homeopathy is claiming, and my post here serves simply the purpose to raise awareness. The bottom line is (as always): do not abandon tested and proven methods to turn to homeopathy!. Use it as a complementary method if it makes you feel better (and you have money to waste), but do not play with your health and your life!

A more generic bottom line would be: always question everything and if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably isn’t true!

  1. * (the Materia Medica is a huge book that lists what effects each substance has to a healthy body. Then this same substance but in high dilutions should be used to also cure the same symptoms! []