Is homeopathy really cheap?

I could never understand this claim. So I wanted to examine it. It is this “CAM medicine is cheap medicine” claim of homeopaths (yes it’s true, I have a thing for homeopathy, the most absurd yet popular of all alternative medicine woo woo).

A typical formulation would start by stating how proper medicine is so expensive and yet is so “dangerous” and inefficient. Then it will go on to “show” how alternative medicine, and particularly homeopathy, is so cheap and works miracles (literally!). Well, the “efficient” part has been discussed so many times and it doesn’t leave much room for something else. It is the “cheap” part I want to have a deeper look at. So let’s see how cheap homeopathy really is:

  • What are the costs for homeopathic solutions? The water? The sugar pills? The alcohol?!? In London they sell a 25ml homeopathic solution for more than £4 – £5!. I buy my water at around 75 pence for 500ml!

    But seriously though: Oscillococcinum is manufactured from wild duck heart and liver. One simple duck would be enough for all Oscillococcinum remedies for a whole year! So apart from the solutions, the main active ingredients (although in Homeopathy they are actually “inactive” ingredients :-)) are extremely cost-effective!

  • What are the costs of preparation? The shaking?? The dilution? No expensive machinery or experience required in preparing them. I can shake my water myself, thank you. Ooops sorry, I didn’t mean “shake” I actually meant “succussion”! Because it adds elegance and credibility to something as ordinary as shaking… If this stage in homeopathic preparation doesn’t remind you of religious rituals then what does?

    Of course most Homeopaths would argue that it is this stage that has the central role in Homeopathy. It is succussion that “imprints the memory of the ingredient in the water solution”. And apparently it works for alcoholic solutions as well… And then how exactly is this memory transferred to a sugar pill? Well, no one knows… And how is it that water only “remembers” that particular ingredient instead of any other of the dozens of foreign substances it will come in contact? Well, no one knows…

  • What expertise is required? Homeopathy is not classified as medicine so does not have to adhere to the same standards of safety, product monitoring and regulation, or indeed efficacy. Anyone can manufacture and sell homeopathy products. And unfortunately, this is the case! And because many of them aren’t even Medical Doctors (although they now have degrees that sound awfully similar to MDs: Naturopathic Doctor or ND!), their recommendations and “medical” advice to patients might be potentially dangerous -and the patient will follow them anyway because he is a “homeopath” or “naturopath” “doctor” and should be trusted…

    And this is where many problems begin: from the measles epidemic to a number of deaths from Malaria, AIDS, treatable forms of Cancer, and many other sad cases

  • What about the consultation costs? They can charge more than £50 per hour and they don’t even do a proper diagnosis! They do not use modern technology (x-rays, MRI etc.) they only rely on the symptoms the patient reports -and as we all know, personal observations and reporting is so, so misleading and inaccurate!

    No maintenance costs there and no expertise payoff as when you consult a proper doctor who has spent so many years studying. Yeah, yeah I know: apart from the Medical Doctors there are also some homeopaths that have degrees from… Homeopathic Schools! The second most ridiculous type of centre for promoting bad science and ignorance! (The first is of course religious schools of any kind)

So what costs and what cheap treatment are we talking about here? It seems to me that it is the CAM proponents that have started a war on proper medicine in order to promote their snake oil, exploiting the disappointment of many patients and the gullibility of others. And let’s not forget that Alternative Medicine is a multi million dollar industry anyway!

So, next time someone tells you that Homeopathy is cheap, reply by saying that you really do get what you pay for, or that tap water is even cheaper…