Homeopathy 101

A blog that I quite enjoyed reading can be found here: http://gimpyblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/11/hmc21-hammering-the-nails-into-homeopathy/

I have always been fairly skeptical of homeopathy, and some of my recent reading material (Bad Science, Trick or Treatment, Suckers) has really served to reaffirm my beliefs and to provide me with a wealth of evidence to back them up.

To my mind, it is clear that homeopathy does make some people better, but for different reasons than they would assert. Varying degrees of the placebo affect, the feeling of being more cared for, the comfort of a “diagnosis”, etc., will all, I believe, make a person feel better if they have been suffering from some vague malaise.

In this case, I don’t begrudge them. If you really believe that taking a drop of Rescue Remedy before an exam will help you succeed, then who am I to burst your bubble? Largely, this kind of thing doesn’t harm anyone, and while you are essentially buying into something I don’t believe in, I have seen what positive thought and belief can do to, and for, people.

I have to draw the line, however, when it comes to real, problematic diseases and conditions. There have been far too many cases where people have died of easily preventable and/or treatable conditions because, rather than take medicine, they opted for “natural” medicine, or homeopathy. Once such example particularly offended me recently – the case of Thomas, Manju, and Gloria Sam. This article will give you more details, but in summary – the child (Gloria) suffered from severe eczema, and the parents refused conventional treatments, instead opting to provide homeopathic drops and other remedies. They also flew the child to India to receive further homeopathic treatment. When Gloria was eventually brought home and to a hospital, with an eye infection so severe that her corneas were melting, there was little the professionals could do. Her body was literally worn out from fighting the various infections that her compromised skin could not keep out of her body. She died of septicaemia.

The child in the above story suffered much more pain than she ever should have, simply because her parents refused conventional treatment. When cases like this come up, I think that removing all the homeopathic remedies from the shelf might not be such a bad idea.

I am aware that there are many plants that have important pharmaceutical properties, and that many of the drugs we now use today originally came from plants. However, most of these drugs are not produced from the original sources, because it is too difficult to control – by producing them artificially, dosage, strength, quality all can be controlled. I don’t believe that there is a big conspiracy on the part of the pharmaceutical companies to suppress “natural” remedies – many medical remedies come from “natural” sources. I genuinely believe that if there was a flower out there that could cure cancer, people would already be exploring its properties, cultivating it, and seeing how they could make it most effective, and also safe.

I think that when it comes to making healthcare decisions, you should look to the proof, not the spin, to decide. And to my mind, there is too little proof of efficacy in homeopathic remedies.

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