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Al de Coning
 
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Homeopathic Medicine irks me!

19 January 2013, 09:28

Homeopathy is a system of alternative medicine originated in 1796 by Samuel Hanhemann, based on his doctrine of ”like cures like”, according to which a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people will cure similar symptoms in sick people. Scientific research has found homeopathic remedies ineffective and their postulated mechanisms of action implausible. Within the scientific community homeopathy is considered to be quackery.

Homeopathic remedies are prepared by repeatedly diluting a chosen substance in alcohol or distilled water, followed by forceful striking on an elastic body, called succussion. Each dilution followed by succussion is said to increase the remedy’s potency. Dilution usually continues well past the point where none of the original substance remains.

The low concentrations of homeopathic remedies, often lacking even a single molecule of the diluted substance, lead to an objection that has dogged homeopathy since the 19th century: how, then, can the substance have any effect? Modern advocates of homeopathy have spoken of “water memory” i.e. that during mixing and succussion, the substance leaves an enduring effect on the water, perhaps a “vibration”, and this produces an effect on the patient. However, nothing like water memory has ever been found in chemistry or physics.

Three logarithmic potency scales are in regular use in homeopathy. Hahnemann created the “centesimal” or “C scale”, diluting a substance by a factor of 100 at each stage. The centesimal scale was favored by Hahnemann for most of his life. A 2C dilution requires a substance to be diluted to one part in 100, and then some of that diluted solution diluted by a further factor of 100. This works out to one part of the original substance in 10,000 parts of the solution. A 6C dilution repeats this process six times, ending up with the original substance diluted by a factor of 100-6=10-12 (one part in one trillion or 1/1,000,000,000,000). Higher dilutions follow the same pattern. In homeopathy, a solution that is more dilute is described as having a higher potency, and more dilute substances are considered by homeopaths to be stronger and deeper-acting remedies.The end product is often so diluted as to be indistinguishable from the dilutant (pure water, sugar or alcohol).

On January 30 2010, members of the group 10:23, participated in a protest involving a mass overdose of homeopathic products in order to demonstrate that they have no effect.  No members of the group suffered any ill effects of the overdose whatsoever. A follow-up event occurred on the weekend of the 5-6 February 2011, under the slogan “Homeopathy – There’s Nothing In It”.

James Randi, founder of The James Randi Educational Foundation offers a US $1 million prize to anybody who can demonstrate a supernatural or paranormal ability under agreed-upon scientific testing criteria. He has also challenged homeopathy to take the million dollar challenge. This challenge extends to the pharmacies and retail stores that support homeopathy.

Overdosing on homeopathic preparations by single individuals or in “mass suicides” have become more popular since James Randi began taking entire bottles of homeopathic sleeping pills before lectures. In April 2012, at the Berkeley SkeptiCal conference, over 100 people participated in a mass overdose, taking caffea cruda which is supposed to treat sleeplessness. None of the participants felt even the slightly bit drowsy.

In August 2011, a class action lawsuit was filed against Boiron (the largest manufacturer of homeopathic products in the world) on behalf of “all California residents who purchased Oscillo at any time within the past four years.” The lawsuit charges that it “is nothing more than a sugar pill,” “despite falsely advertising that it contains an active ingredient known to treat flu symptoms.” The lawsuit also stated that the listed active ingredient in Oscillococcinum (Oscillo) “is actually Duck Liver and Heart … and has no known medicinal quality.” A settlement was reached, with Boiron denying any wrongdoing.

As part of the settlement, Boiron agreed to make specific changes to its marketing, including adding to their packaging notices like “These ‘Uses’ have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration” and “C, K, CK, and X are homeopathic dilutions.”

In conclusion, “science, in fact, is not a matter of mere categories of opinion. In the scientific field, either something is, or it is not. Either a treatment works, or it doesn’t. And if it works, it is necessary to demonstrate that fact with clear scientific findings backed up by a solid statistical base. Although the international scientific community has always requested such scientific evidence from homeopathic medicine, it has never received attestation of its validity. It is completely devoid of any such foundation, remaining substantially an emotional medicine.” Judge Cinzia Sgr, Italy.

Some might argue that there’s no harm in prescribing what is essentially a placebo. However, for someone to make money off what is ultimately a sugar pill or small bottle of water / alcohol, and claim that it is a treatment for various medical conditions, is in my opinion, criminal fraud. I ask those people, “Would the patient still part with their hard earned money to pay for a product that they know with all certainty  is ineffective?”  I think not.

Credit  to Wikipedia as the source of much of the above info.

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