Diluting medicine: Homeopathy

Homeopathy is a controversial form of alternative medicine that aims to treat “like with like”. Substances that cause symptoms similar to the disease in large quantities are heavily diluted, with shaking at each stage of the dilution. Homeopaths contend that the shaking causes some imprint (or memory) of the diluted substance, despite the fact that at many common homeopathic dilutions, no molecules of the original substance are likely to remain. Homeopathy is based on a vitalist world view, which sees the underlying causes of sickness as imbalances in a hypothetical vital force and claims that homeopathic treatment can harmonize and re-balance the vital force in the body, so restoring health, which is unsupported by modern biology or medicine.

Source: Wikipedia

Disclaimer: I am a student of allopathic medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin. (The allopathic doctor is an MD, while a similar legally-recognized medical doctor of osteopathy receives a DO.) Since allopathic medicine is a term for scientific, research-based orthodox medicine, I am inherently biased against “medicine” that does not have a scientific basis.

Article that got me started reading about homeopathy: Diluting the scientific method: Ars looks at homeopathy

Homeopathy “works” in the sense that it won’t hurt you (unless it limits access to necessary medicine or treatment) since you are drinking pure water as a cure and its “official” recognition in the past (and surprisingly even today) offers a strong placebo effect. When homeopathy became popular, the other main medical treatment was bloodletting. It makes sense that drinking pure water would be more beneficial than bloodletting in most cases. Homeopaths believe that “like cures like.” Therefore, they find a chemical that is felt to cause the illness and then dilute it in water. They feel that the greater the dilution, the greater the benefit of the chemical. So, substances in strong concentrations are bad, while the more highly diluted a substance is, the better it is for you. (Arndt-Schulz rule) The funny part is that the dilutions are so great that it is impossible (with today’s technology) to detect any trace of the substance in the water. Homeopaths claim that the shaking after each dilution imparts the substance’s properties into the water. The water supposedly retains a memory of the substance and this is how the medication works. “Water memory” is shown in the second video below to be false. You’ll also see in the video that the “weaker” dilutions are so great that it is equivalent to adding one drop of the substance to all the oceans of the world. The “Homeopathy Explained” video explains it with an even more incredible analogy. How anyone can believe this I don’t know…

Homeopathy Explained (Very Funny!)

Homeopathy – The Test (Part 1 of 5, click video to view the other parts)

Testimonial: Homeopathy is a good thing (Real medicine doesn’t have or need as many testimonials as homeopathy has…we use real science and blinded tests instead).

Another video: Hilarious UK Homeopath Squirms

Partial transcript for the “Homeopathy by Dr. Charlene Werner” video below:
“Stephen Hawkings gave us the string theory…these other energetic particles work by vibration…our bodies are so wonderfully designed that we have light receivers (points to eyes) and we have ears (points to ears)…string, vibratory, they pick up vibration…our bodies are made of cells…you can break down the cells into tiny pieces of energy called electrons, protons, neutrons, right? So the whole body has an infinitesimal amount of mass, but what is the remainder? Energy… So I am energy, you are energy. Now if you go to study physics, energy can’t be created…but we don’t know how to destroy it either. That is not humanely possible. So what we do is to take energy and transform it from one state to another…Guess what the definition of disease is? We have transformed our energy state into something different. That’s what the definition of disease is. … So, everyone single one of us vibrates with a certain vibration and so we either vibrate with a plant, animal, or mineral.”

Homeopathy by Dr. Charlene Werner (select transcript of the video above). This video is of a Healing the Eye and Wellness Seminar” that took place in Bozeman, MT on August 18, 2007.

8 thoughts on “Diluting medicine: Homeopathy

  1. Ross

    haha, I like how the girl in the testimonial was amazed that the homeopathic doctor knew that she was sick when she went to visit him 🙂

  2. Scott K

    Good catch! I hadn’t heard that the first time I watched it. You know what would be awesome? Have one of these homeopaths give us a lecture…I guarantee that it would be the most entertaining (but least useful) lecture of the year!

  3. Pingback: Illiterate Withdrawal » Homeopathy - Quackery Or A Key To The Future of Medicine?

  4. Joe Danforth

    It’s unfortunate that M.D. types are so arrogant and ignorant. I’ve used homeopathy as first aid for twenty years, and it is very effective for strains, sprains, bruises, insect bites and stings, burns, and more. There are numerous studies, admittedly small since there are no pharmaceutical profits to be made, that demonstrate the efficacy of various specific remedies. Just because you don’t understand how it works doesn’t mean it doesn’t (there’s the ignorant and arrogant part).

    As far as “scientific evidence” for standard medicine, there has never been convincing evidence that, for example, bypass surgery is beneficial long-term, and the old saw advanced by medicos about diet and disease — high carb, low fat — was never supported by anything empirical. Thankfully that gargantuan mistake, responsible as it has been for probably the worst public health crisis of the last fifty years, is being abandoned — even by some M.D.s!!

  5. Scott K

    Hi Joe,

    I’m not familiar with homeopathy as first aid. Could you fill me in on what things are available? Thanks! Also, check out the discussion on the comments of this page, http://www.illiteratewithdrawal.com/2008/02/homeopathy-quackery-or-a-key-to-the-future-of-medicine/

    Comparing surgical long term surgical outcomes is not the allopathic analogue to homeopathic remedies. Homeopathy by tradition has been treating like with like. How does one go about treating a scrap or broken bone in homeopathy? Please show me the science that backs up homeopathic remedies. Allopathic medicine is backed by billions in research and testing in an attempt to show statistical differences in treatments. With so much money on the line why wouldn’t the large pharmaceutical companies endorse and produce homeopathic medicine if it worked as well as a few people say it does?

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