Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
25 Jan

Homeopathy is (Mostly) Hogwash

homeopathyOn the docket today: a meaty, slippery, jam-packed can of worms. Makes you just lick your lips in anticipation, doesn’t it? Last week’s direct to consumer health testing post got this one going. I mentioned this do-it-yourself health trend comes with both the good and the bad – as yet unproven and unsound alternative therapies like homeopathy being such a potential snare. From that point, a healthy and robust debate ensued in the comment board. Yes, that’s exactly the way it should be. I always appreciate and, indeed, relish the active discourse of our comment board. Folks offer up their experiences, questions, and perspectives in ways that thoughtfully challenge and extend the discussion of the post itself. It’s the beauty of a blog – and the “Internets” as a whole, wouldn’t you say? At times, I find these conversations stand by themselves. Other times, I’ll pick up on a certain thread that I think could use more Primal-based clarification and a further targeted discussion. Today I’m taking up the homeopathy debate and giving the full of my two cents. I’m up for it if you are. Let’s roll up our sleeves and dig in, eh?

First, what homeopathy isn’t. It’s not herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese medicine, or even flower essences. It’s not naturopathy or isopathy (pus anyone?). It’s doesn’t include nutritional supplements, energy work, or body manipulation. It’s not a catch-all term for all of CAM (complementary and alternative medicine). I say this because the term is sometimes mistakenly used in these ways, and I want to be clear about what I have on the dissection table today.

Here’s, in a nutshell, what it is. First, key caveat… In the space of a reasonable blog post, I cannot tell the entire history of homeopathy or touch on every study ever performed. I’ll go out on a limb and say that my decision to do so does not, by its own merit, discredit my critique. I’ve read many more books and many more individual studies and reviews – from both conventional and CAM journals –than I’ll mention here. Anyone else is free to similarly delve in while forming their own opinion about homeopathy or any other subject. (PubMed is a fantastic, thoroughly addictive site that I spend entirely too much time perusing.)

O.K. now what it is. First, the historical basics. Homeopathy is a medical practice first envisioned and designed by Samuel Hahnemann in the late 18th Century. As a philosophy, it fit within the vitalist framework and held that illnesses were the manifestations of disturbances to an individual’s life force. Effective intervention, according to Hahnemann, necessitated the rousing or provocation of the life force with a small (understatement) amount of a single, relevant substance. In the spirit of that approach, homeopaths today assess both a patient’s symptoms and overall mental and physical condition – usually through an extensive interview and a varying physical examination. Based on the findings, they determine a particular “remedy” that has been prepared according to homeopathic principles.

We could chat for long, languorous hours about all of Hahnemann’s principles. (PrimalCon, anyone?) Today, let me give particular attention to a few central tenets.

“Law of Similars” (a.k.a. like treats like)

Hahnemann believed that the ideal treatment for a patient’s symptoms was a substance that elicited the same physical signs in healthy individuals. The assigned homeopathic remedy is an artificial means intended to stimulate the disturbed life force into a self corrective mode – based on the similarity of symptoms, yes. In this process, the body will supposedly defuse the observed illness and rid itself of it. (Yeah, I don’t get it either really.)

“Law of Proving”

Because he believed like treats like, Hahnemann focused his proving (i.e. testing) on healthy subjects. He used large groups of volunteers, instructed them on lifestyle restrictions and recommendations during the testing period, and asked them to keep exhaustive journals of any and all symptoms or sensations they experienced. From this standpoint, he initiated early characteristics of the modern controlled clinical trial. (Hat tip.) He then matched these tested substances with diseases that displayed similar symptoms. (See above.)

“Law of Potentization”

Long story short, along the line Hahnemann decided that diluting the original substance would make it more potent. (Yes, do the double take.) He even developed his own scale for diluting his remedies – the centesimal or C measure. Each C indicates dilution by a factor of 100. Given Hahnemann’s penchant for a 30 C dilution, you can imagine – well, actually you probably can’t imagine – how dilute that would be. We’re talking exponentially diminishing here – as in there may or may not be a single molecule of the original substance or not. Ummmm…?

“Entanglement”

The power of a homeopathic remedy solution allegedly resides not simply in the remedy itself but in the full relationship and dynamic interaction among the homeopath, patient, and remedy. (This is one of the reasons those in the homeopathic field reject the applicability of conventional “blind” clinical trials.)

O.K., let me start by saying this. Compared to the rather brutal approaches of the medical community in his time, Hahnemann’s new take on treatment must have felt downright civilized, enlightened, and sophisticated. I’d rather take a small diluted remedy than have my blood let any day. And as irrational as his belief in super ultra mega diluting was, it must have seemed remarkably, even comfortingly precise when held up against the generally sloppy, arbitrary, and clueless practices of apothecaries.

In a system where most of us are lucky if we get five uninterrupted minutes with our physicians, I appreciate the extensiveness of the repertory interview homeopaths undertake with patients. Finally in a very generalized way, I even loosely sympathize with the idea that treating a condition with conventional medications can simply mask it and drive it deeper into the body. (Granted, I see it more as metaphor in these modern times, but it’s a good one. We do a lot of ineffectual “band-aid” work in Western medicine.) Oh, and the life force thing sounds pretty groovy.

I’m afraid that’s pretty much where I part paths with Hahnemann and homeopathy. Call me too close-minded, but I stand with homeopathy’s critics when it comes to its shortfall in the scientific principle department. Let’s say you momentarily accept the life force concept as metaphor and just put aside the law of similar out of sheer frustration. (The alleged vaccine comparison, I’ll simply say, is another ball of wax entirely and fodder for another day.) Even then, there’s still the ginormous elephant in the living room (yes, the one that every critic focuses on because it’s kind of important) – the dilution issue otherwise known as active ingredient-free medicine. Yes, recall that it’s supposed to not simply be present but be more potent. Yes, homeopathy supporters claim that the original substance leaves a residual energy imprint of sorts in the remaining diluted solution (a.k.a. water memory). Theories have been put forward regarding movement and cohesion at the molecular level, “dynamic ‘ordering’” of the water’s intermolecular bonds and the like. (Random thought: if water that contained a homeopathic agent still can retain an active, potent energy imprint, does my waste water treatment plant do a good enough job of removing the imprint of sewage, industrial chemicals, and other refuse particles?)

In all seriousness, I realize that science is still evolving, particularly in the area of nanophysics and the like, but everything about this potentization concept flies in the face of scientific principle, defies all known laws of chemistry and physics, and appears to exist primarily in the hazy, moving shadows of ambiguity. I’m all ears if it’s ever pinned down, but it’s no dice right now.

A few readers last week said it was ironic that I was badmouthing another health related area subjected to the same rejection as many tenets of the Primal Blueprint (e.g. the dietary fat boogeyman.). It’s true that the PB gets its share of quackery accusations. I wholly support being skeptical when the establishment dismisses a health philosophy out of hand. Nonetheless, I don’t see homeopathy in that situation. I’ve read many studies over the years and paid attention to the reviews that have been conducted. When it comes to research, homeopathy just doesn’t bear out.

Reviews suggest that the evidence is inconclusive at best for a myriad of conditions like asthama, anxiety, dementia, migraine, ADHD, cancer, and cancer treatment side effects.

Yes, there’s the claim that true homeopathy can’t be accurately assessed within the current clinical trial system. There’s the issue of individualization of remedy – that an individual’s treatment also is influenced by their overall well-being, personality, etc. Then there’s the concept of entanglement – that dynamic, misty interaction among the perceived triad of homeopath, patient, and treatment. I don’t know how you’re going to overcome those hurdles. Right now it’s a deadlock, but I’m going to have to side with hard science for now.

I’ve given my critique. Here’s what I think works about homeopathy, and – mind you – I’m being wholly earnest. I know what you’re thinking: placebo. Well, yes, but let me explain. The placebo effect, ladies and gentlemen, is nothing to shake a stick at. As mentioned before, it can claim a 30% effectiveness rate, and that number can go higher based on the people receiving the treatment. Some of us are more likely to experience physical effects from a placebo not because we’re gullible saps but probably because we’re more in tune with our mental power, so to speak. Some of us, for example, can creatively visualize our way through the intense physical pain of a medical procedure or the pain of childbirth. Some can’t as much. The placebo effect is such a force that a recent study showed the pretense isn’t necessary. And if your doctor believes that the “placebo” is actually an effective treatment, the effect is even stronger.

Much has been made lately of the therapeutic impact of the doctor-patient relationship itself – the connection, the empathy, the listening, and the basic human touch of the physical exam. Imagine the result if your caretaker took two hours instead of ten minutes to listen to your concerns, asked about your general well-being, and inquired about your life overall. Is it much of a stretch to see that there would likely be a more intensive healing element to this relationship itself?

My final thought on homeopathy is this. I can’t accept it as a medical practice given what is currently known. I leave room for the effectiveness of a few substances when given in a non-traditional formula (actually present in the solution). Furthermore, I respect the humanistic elements of homeopathy practice and wish conventional medicine would learn a thing or two in this department. I understand why people might be interested in its therapies and experience suggested relief from the idea of a gentle treatment that gets them thinking about the power and essential balance of their bodies. The truth of its impact, however, lies outside the bounds of medical science.

The floor is now open. Good Primal ladies and gentlemen, please avail yourself of the comment board.

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  1. I don’t get it either. From what’s been explained to me, they dilute these mixtures down to the point where theoretically there shouldn’t even be an atom from the original active ingredients. Its gone, but its “essence” is still there, hence its effectiveness.

    Delving a little deeper, the scientific claims are that the photons emitted from the active ingredient’s molecules (intermolecular bonds)stimulate the water molecules in the mixture. After the original active ingredient is taken away, the water molecules are still stimulated, and ready to “relay the message” to you.

    The quantum physics kind of makes sense, but why don’t they just give you the active ingredient straight up? There’s plenty of essence right there!

    Graham wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • Oh dear God, they are really attempting to justify this with quantum physics?

      It doesn’t make sense, it makes no sense at all. Take a class in quantum physics and get back to me.

      Sean wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • You do realize that photons are everywhere. Light, radio waves, etc, etc. A glass of water is bombarded with billions of photons per second. So what would make the photon “stimulation” from the original active ingredient that has such an extremely low concentration unique?

      Photons are, by definition, interchangeable, except for wavelength they are identical according to quantum theory.

      Where does the quantum physics “kind of make sense”?

      Sean wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • All that we can truly know is that which we have experienced. It is easy to intellectualize almost anything, even to convince ourselves that we are “right” based on our thoughts. Thoughts which we fuel according to information which we are able to see and understand based on the narrowness or expansiveness of our belief systems. However, if it does not bear fruit in reality, then we are not living in a grounded way, we are living an illusion.

      Think about it, how about those who believed the earth flat, people of certain skin colors inferior, etc? They intellectualized their viewpoint rather than taking the time to go out and experience the truth.

      The criteria here seems to be that if we cannot understand it then it cannot work, cannot be useful. I do not understand the internal combustion engine, the jet propeller, or many other things however I still find cars and airplanes useful. I do not understand, nor have I yet found an honest person who does, how the galaxies, the solar systems, the planets, the atoms, etc all work in such splendid harmony. Yet they do.

      So is is for some with homeopathy. If it is a placebo then in my direct experience it is the best placebo experiment on the planet. I don’t experience it as such, however. As a professional homeopath with decades of experience I can tell you with certainty that an incorrect homeopathic remedy will cause distress (but not lasting harm) no matter how much you believe it will cure you. I can also tell you that a correct remedy will cause cure and a level of well-being that most of us cannot even conceive of to hope for. In animals, people, and plants.

      I speak to educate, not convince. My point is not to argue with anyone. I know what I see, I know the process of homeopathy, I know it is something that can relieve suffering without causing harm to ourselves or our environment. Consider the wisdom of experiencing something before you can speak with any true knowledge about it.

      Mark, here is a challenge to you. Consider posting a few good, basic articles on how to use simple homeopathic remedies for some simple, basic issues. Homeopathic medicines are FDA approved and can be purchased over-the-counter by anyone. I will consider writing the articles, no charge. Let yourself and your readers have an experience. This is how Grok lived. He did not read articles. He learned through direct contact. This is how he used his brain.

      I certainly didn’t THINK I could live without grains. But I decided I had to try it before I could KNOW it. That lead to true knowledge and wisdom.

      Mark, I assume that you tried eating in a Primal manner in order to know if it worked or not, and I am also going to give you the benefit of assuming that you are not run by your intellect and that even if you couldn’t have explained it just having the experience of your body healing and well-being increasing may well have caused you to keep up with a Primal diet & lifestyle. This is the experience many have with homeopathy. Some of us do understand, but that is a different and very long subject. Many do not understand why, but it still works for them, just as cars work even if we don’t understand them, just as all blondes are not dumb even if we listen to popular culture and think they are, just as most people of dark skin are intelligent even if we use certain science to decide we think they aren’t.

      May we all find the health we seek, may we all be accepting of all paths to wellness, of all ways that work, even if we don’t understand them.

      Ellen wrote on January 26th, 2011
      • Ellen,

        There’s a big difference between something *you* don’t understand but millions of others do, like the internal combustion engine or logical fallacies, and something that doesn’t even remotely have a justifiable basis in science but people attempt to explain anyway by cherry-picking terms from a real science like physics. Like homeopathy.

        “The criteria here seems to be that if we cannot understand it then it cannot work, cannot be useful.”

        No, not at all. But what the hell is wrong with wanting to understand something? It helps if an alleged treatment makes some sort of sense, either because it appeases an angry god or because it compensates for an unhealthy n-3/n-6 ratio.

        The scientific method is simply a way of overcoming bias. Formulate a hypothesis, test it, excluding as many variables as possible. If it doesn’t work then you either didn’t exclude enough variables or your hypothesis was simply wrong.

        “If it is a placebo then in my direct experience it is the best placebo experiment on the planet.”

        Really? And what other placebo experiments have you had experience with?

        Sean wrote on January 27th, 2011
        • Bravo to this reply, Sean.

          I am bothered by the suggestion of a quasi experiment towards the end of Ellen’s post. Too often people with very little basis for their own claims dismiss science and then fall easily back into trying to use its tools to defend their position without even seeing the hypocrisy. I challenge her to consider the value of exactly what she’s proposing here:

          “Mark, here is a challenge to you. Consider posting a few good, basic articles on how to use simple homeopathic remedies for some simple, basic issues. Homeopathic medicines are FDA approved and can be purchased over-the-counter by anyone. I will consider writing the articles, no charge. Let yourself and your readers have an experience. This is how Grok lived. He did not read articles. He learned through direct contact. This is how he used his brain.”

          This is reinventing the wheel of the scientific method. An observational pilot study is totally acceptable in a scientific forum. This is how Grok uses his brain indeed. Ellen, this experiment could prove very useful if you clean it up, not as the end all of research on homeopathy, but as a beginning to show whether it works or not, regardless of its method (it’s fine for mechanism to remain unknown right now- testing that comes later). What you want us to do is a basic observational study, but in order of it to hold weight you must standardize the observations so they are more than anecdotes, which are too subjective to reveal what is actually happening. I suggest letting a large number of people, skeptics and non alike, try the remedies you suggest in relation to a specific complaint or to specific ends (say, healing a minor burn. You are an expert in this field, consider what a direct result is from one of the suggested simple remedies, and test that). Let your volunteers have access to a scientifically accepted pain or quality of life survey (these are available with a little looking online) to quantify their individual experiences in a statistically meaningful way- this is the only way to move from the vague world of anecdotes into evidence. The beautify of evidence is that it can be compared with itself, and also to the scientifically recognized placebo impact rates. You may find that indeed the homeopathy is more successful. At that point, pat yourself on the back, revisit your exploratory research procedure, and begin writing a grant to further establish the viability of your treatments in a much more rigorous experiment. The next step is a controlled administration with a placebo. I see no reason that these patient/practitioner/remedy dynamics cannot be tested in a double blind study, as correcting for these nuanced interactions is a large part of WHY DOUBLE BLIND STUDIES EXIST.

          As Sean said before me, using the scientific method is not intellectualizing- these procedures are used for organizing and making useful the experiences that you, yourself, suggested we have in a way that can, in fact, be understood.

          Finally, let me reference this site as a warning- this is why these methods MUST be tested for effectiveness- there is harm in non-investigation:
          http://whatstheharm.net/homeopathy.html

          Jessica wrote on January 27th, 2011
        • Seventeen.

          Ellen wrote on January 27th, 2011
        • Sorry, that did not come through in totality. I’ve participated in seventeen experiments regarding the placebo effect. My background is in traditional medicine. I switched to homeopathy, as M.D.’s sometimes do, because it made more sense when it came to the bottom line of actually restoring health.

          Ellen wrote on January 27th, 2011
        • Good on you Ellen, your obviously have a lifetime of experience in what you are speaking about, rather than the armchair critics.

          Neal Bowhay wrote on February 9th, 2011
      • Great comment from Ellen. I just love the way people who know nothing about homeopathy and have never tried it claim it can’t possibly work.

        And why is that, do you suppose? After all, custom-formulated noninvasive homeopathic remedies use real medicine. Could it be because homeopathy actually cures as opposed to simply medicating symptoms (something most people can’t understand)? Is it because there are no nasty side effects to deal with (something else most people can’t understand)? Is it a dyed-in-the-wool, brainwashed belief that allopathy knows everything there is to know about the science of the human body (which it does not) and therefore nothing else can possibly work?

        I’ve used classical homeopathy off and on for the last 15 years, mainly because I found the allopathic medical system ridiculously cumbersome, expensive, fraught with drug toxicity, and completely wanting as to efficacy. I know for a fact that homeopathic remedies, when dispensed by a knowledgeable, experienced homeopath, do indeed work to help the body heal itself. In fact they are often stunning in their effectiveness.

        Seeing is believing. My very scientific-minded spouse has seen homeopathy literally work miracles with me, our son, even our dog. So to those of you narrow-minded individuals so eager to diss this modality, I would suggest you at least try it before issuing a thumbs-down.

        Shary wrote on October 27th, 2012
      • I agree completely with Ellen. I believe homeopathy is more than just a placebo; however, if I am incorrect and it is just a placebo, that’s just fine with me!!! The results I’ve seen are nothing short of amazing.

        I have seen with myself (and others) MANY conditions that could not be treated by physicians (and even a naturopath in one instance) improve drastically and even completely disappear. It’s funny how I thought the doctors could help with such conditions, but the placebo effect never came into play then.

        I must point out that I see a practitioner and that I don’t try to figure it all out on my own.

        Lolo wrote on January 21st, 2014
  2. Do they actually use quantum entanglement to justify the alleged efficacy of homeopathy?

    Sean wrote on January 25th, 2011
  3. Great critique, Mark. Outside of the placebo effect, I find homeopathy to be very dangerous, in that it invites patients to forgo scientifically proven treatments for serious illnesses.

    Google “homeopathy randi” for a good video from James Randi, a prominent skeptic.

    Tom wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • Tom, indeed, Randi has some very good videos.

      pieter d wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • Ever walked into a room and felt an emotional disturbance immediately you arrive. Felt someone being angry before they even face you. Hang on, can’t be because the version of science referenced here says no molecule of anger is present. Science has no explanation for gravity. Does that mean it doesn’t exist? This attack on homeopathy is just trial by speculation. There is a lot of investigation on vibrational medicine that does accord with quantum theory. Quantum theory puts the rational mind on its head, positing for example a zero point field which (like Buddhist emptiness) is the potential of everything. Try and find a molecule of that! I wouldn’t enter the discussion other than I have been involved with homeopathy for years and I have experienced first hand how often it does nothing, sometimes does something unwanted, and sometimes, when skillfully used, achieves miraculous results. All of this despite the placebo effect. Any argument that claims to be scientific and simply precludes a possibility based on belief is not scientific. It is pure speculation. Science should involve empirical testing. The universe is a subtle place. Science has discovered even the material is not material in any gross sense. Nor is it necessarily independent of human consciousness. There is a lot of mystery in existence. Lets not just dismiss it all by being mentally clever.

      Neal Bowhay wrote on January 26th, 2011
      • Just realised that my statement about gravity was not accurate. The theory of relativity addresses gravity, but the point I wanted to make is that gravity operates through a vacuum and has no materiality. Show me a molecule of gravity! Yet it is one of the most powerful forces (or whatever you want to call it) in existence. Light is sometimes a wave and sometimes a particle, etc etc. Rationality is not king. Homeopathy either works or it doesn’t but the way to discover it is not by argument, otherwise we could argue away virtually everything. Just as the church did with Galileo. Best to look through the telescope.

        Neal Bowhay wrote on January 26th, 2011
        • Good grief.

          For the love of non-existent gods, will you people STOP trying to invoke modern physics when you know nothing of it better than a half-forgotten memory of a PBS popular science show?

          Neal, your understanding of the vacuum ground state is not even wrong.

          Your understanding of gravity is not even wrong.

          In the classical view (ie, general relativity), gravity is a manifestation of curved spacetime. Quantum gravity – an area of ongoing research – indeed involves a gauge boson exchange (called the graviton).

          And for crying out loud, gravity is NOT powerful. It is the weakest of the four interactions!

          Rationality is not king? Sweet jeebus…

          I give up.

          Sam wrote on January 26th, 2011
      • Thank you for addressing the very unscientific methodology so sadly presented as science because so-called (and self-proclaimed)scientists said it.

        An appeal to authority is a logical fallacy.

        imogen wrote on January 26th, 2011
        • The point I was making about gravity, which you chose to overlook, is that you can’t find a molecule of it. Yet it keeps the universe together. Even your graviton is an conceptual supposition. Therefore using the argument presented against homeopathy would prove the non-existence of gravity. Anyway, to be really scientific you have to notice that science turns on its head its best ideas, very regularly. So next week vibrational medicine could be in. The point is to test the hypothesis, as it seems Ellen above has, and you have all ignored in your rush to be clever.

          Neal Bowhay wrote on February 9th, 2011
        • @Neal: Your definition of “science” is so screwed up … it saddens me. But it also explains how concepts like homeopathy can survive for centuries … there’ll always be plenty of gullible people.

          MikeEnRegalia wrote on February 10th, 2011
      • Yes, I’ve walked into a room in which there was an emotional disturbance. But it ain’t magic. Red faces, wide eyes, sweating, two people on opposite ends of the room, over-compensating cheerfulness. It has nothing to do with the molecules of air being disturbed. Air doesn’t have emotions.

        Further, you really need to learn about quantum theory before you start using it for ammunition for irrational thinking. Get yourself a book on science please.

        And for what it’s worth, homeopathy often achieves the miraculous when the miraculous is expected. Psychosomatic illnesses work that way. What was it? Meloncholy? Fatigue? Poor digestion? Is that vague enough to be cured by homeopathy?

        Ray Butlers wrote on February 6th, 2011
        • I can see that there is no winning argument here. You guys got religion, not science. Religion is when you argue something out of existence. In the science of my life I have experienced the effectiveness of vibrational medicine. You can try and placebo that out of me just as much as I can science it into you. All I am saying is test it empirically, not mentally. The argument as to why something shouldn’t be would prevent all of existence. How could everything be? Allow for the limits of thought, please rather than turning it into a despot. By the way I think the primal diet is great. I just know there to be other things of value out there too. Be open minded to what is, not church like.

          Neal Bowhay wrote on February 9th, 2011
    • Scientifically proven expermiments? I don’t know if Homeopathy is the real deal, i’m yet to decide either way.
      I do however find it misleading of Jessica to post the external link highlighting the dangers of alternative medicine. Newsflash! People still die of cancer, despite chemo, drugs, radiation and other frankenstein like experimentation. For heaven sake, anyone who gets put under before an operation starts, puts their life at some risk. How many mal-practice lawsuits are there each year? How many people get paid out of the vaccine injury fund each year. There should be acknowledgement of the considerable downfall of conventional medicine before the proverbial boot is put entirely into Homeopathy.

      Glenn wrote on January 31st, 2011
      • The problem with alternative medicine is that it is no alternative at all. It is utterly and completely ineffective and therefore – conveniently – rarely harmful.

        Ray Butlers wrote on February 6th, 2011
  4. Interesting.

    I definitely agree that some more one on one time with doctors/nurses and patients would be beneficial. Maybe someday soon!

    Caitlin wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • That would be nice, but do you really think the outcomes would change a considerable amount? Do you REALLY think your MD will promote nutritional interventions (besides CW) and exercise instead of statins because he’s stuck in the room with you a bit longer? I highly doubt it. Any honest MD will tell you they don’t even receive any training whatsoever in regards to nutrition! He’s still going to parrot conventional wisdom and allopathic dogma, recommending drugs and surgeries before advocating lifestyle change. The ONLY thing that will change that is a complete paradigm shift within the medical profession. With Big Pharma funneling money into our medical schools and putting paid stooges into management positions at the FDA, this is highly unlikely to happen across the board. A few more minutes in a treatment room will not.

      However, there are SOME medical doctors who are willing to try natural methods (I’m a chiropractor and there are several MDs in town who actually refer patients to me…gasp!!!) but they do so of their own volition, not because they’re forced to. Until the education changes, the recommendations won’t change. MDs are taught in school that medicine works, nutrition is the red-headed stepchild of science, and all CAM is bunk.

      Jared wrote on January 25th, 2011
      • Fact check: Many (if not most) medical school curricula do include training in nutrition.

        Also, medical schools around the U.S. continue to implement CAM into their programs as elective courses of study.

        Be careful making blanket statements about all doctors.

        Brian Radvansky wrote on January 25th, 2011
      • While you make a point, it still doesn’t dispute the point that Mark made about having the one on one physical contact in itself is beneficial, regardless of what your doctor is telling you. Mark wasn’t talking about nutritional advice from your doctor, he was talking about personal attention and physical contact. Both proven to be helpful, especially when you are sick.

        Here in Canada, things are a little different with health care. There isn’t the same pressure from pharmaceutical companies on doctors. Our doctors are paid by the people.

        And I think some MD’s do receive some nutrition training. I have a couple of friends in med school right now. Again, in Canada.

        Caitlin wrote on January 26th, 2011
        • It’s not just a little concerning that you consider requisite/extorted taxation voluntary payment by the people… :(

          The other thing is that my partner used to work for a doctor, and I have had several doctors offer me a specific rx because, as they put it, the company gives them “perks” such as points toward 2-week vacations in Hawaii (for a half-day conference), straight out payments for “support” and the like.

          I have also had several doctors admit that they have no training in nutrition, and that there was an elective option in med school, but it was not a requisite course, so most opted for something else that they thought was more important to take.

          I’m also in Canada. I work an awful lot to pay for doctors to keep patients sick and the medical industry going. Our doctors are paid by forced taxation, not “by the people.” I have never personally handed a doctor a penny. Our two-tier system will see this change so that we are forced to pay taxes, AND to pay out-of-pocket.

          We are one of the most heavily taxed nations in the world. Watch this if you’re wondering about why and how: http://www.youtube.com/user/stefbot?feature=sub_widget_1#p/u/2/Xbp6umQT58A

          imogen wrote on January 26th, 2011
    • I recently went to my pulmonologist and was very very pleased to get S.O.A.P. charting by the nurse before the doctor came to see me.

      The acronym for those unknowing is Subjective Objective Assessment and Plan. The Subjective portion is a long interview asking about your life and changes going on and if anything comes up, then follow up questions until they have an overall picture of your life. This way they may catch connections between things you never thought had something to do with each other.

      This was done more back when I was a child, and also is done extensively in the military. You feel as though you don’t have to feel you’ll be shot down or blocked when trying to get your symptoms or ideas to the medical practitioner(s) because they’re short on time. You feel like you have all the time in the world!

      It seems the doctor went all “old school” in response to the current fad of cover your rear medicine promoted by insurance companies. Maybe he doesn’t care as much as I think he does, but I can appreciate being listened to.

      Dune wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • There are practices which do take the patient into consideration and spend much time with them… you just have to REALLY look and do some interviewing. My current doctor’s office is wonderful. I have never been made to wait for my appointment, I’m ALWAYS in on time. I normally spend between 15-30 minutes with the PAs, and then have a 5 minute chat with them AND the doctor, but I also always have 1-2 appointments with the doctor himself which last about 30 minutes and he asks and answers any and all questions I bring to the table.

      He also does combine supplements with medicine and is a big believer in lifestyle changes so discusses exercise and diet in conjunction with what’s going on. They have a “lifestyle” program they offer which focuses on dietary changes to lose fat and build muscle, where you spend an HOUR with the specialist discussing all of the changes.

      Just wanted to say that they are out there.

      Minxxa wrote on January 26th, 2011
  5. A few annoying points.
    (1)If water has some kind of “memory” of a substance even after dilution down to zero molecules, and “Like cures like,” doesn’t that mean that (a) we are all drinking powerful pterodactyl urine, and, more importantly, if I drink one of those new Starbuck’s coffees that is bigger than my stomach, just before bed, shouldn’t I be able to save a tiny sip of it, pour it in a bucket of water, and put my entire town to sleep? And, if I dilute that, do I have something more powerful than methamphetamine? It makes no logical sense whatsoever.
    (2) Conversely, there are thousands of homeopathic remedies for a variety of problems; the odds that NONE of these remedies has any positive effect at ANY concentration has got to be close to zero, which means that, if only by random chance, SOME homeopathic remedies work, at least a little, and none of them is harmful (or any more harmful than doing nothing would be).
    (3) This is the really annoying point that was made to me recently: just because the EXPLANATION for a folk remedy is scientifically impossible, does not mean that the remedy does not work. So the science of homeopathy, as it exists today, is meaningless, but the remedies themselves could still work for an as yet undiscovered reason, as Mark alludes to toward the end.
    (4) Conventional medicine may have come a LONG way, but it still uses a chainsaw when nail-clippers might work, filling patients with toxic chemicals because that is what insurance companies approve, and because they have been proven to be most likely to be effective, even if they might worsen something else (Statins anyone?).

    Bob wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • For number 3 there… Couldn’t your undiscovered reason be placebo effect?

      Jenny wrote on January 26th, 2011
    • Can I get a list of treatments that fill patients with toxic chemicals? What exactly do you expect medicine to do with difficult-to-treat conditions? Patients vary in their response and it always takes effort to determine the best course.

      Ray Butlers wrote on February 6th, 2011
  6. The only reason homeopathic products made from things like mercury and arsenic don’t kill people is that there isn’t any of the original ingredients left.

    If it were true, it would be dangerous, but fortunately it isn’t true.

    Tim wrote on January 25th, 2011
  7. I suspect there is an inverse therapeutic effect when scaled against the cost of the consultation.

    Now, anyone for making the Emperor’s new wardrobe :-)

    Kelda wrote on January 25th, 2011
  8. Where are my science books?

    Erik C. wrote on January 25th, 2011
  9. Ohhhh man. I was waiting for this post after last week’s free-for-all, and I must say, Mark, you’ve done a terrific job delineating homeopathy from naturopathy, CAM, traditional non-Western medicine, etc (I feel like there are even a number of people who call themselves Homeopaths who really aren’t, and would much better conform to one of the above descriptions).

    The way you lay it out, homeopathy seems like an elegant theory of the body that would correspond to the equally elegant theory of the planet encompassed in Lorenz’s idea of the Butterfly Effect.

    And while the Butterfly Effect is indeed a fascinating theory, it hasn’t all of a sudden given us control over the weather; similarly, I doubt that homeopathy will ever give us control over our body’s health – at least not to the degree that empirically tested, scientifically applied Western medicine does.

    Alhaddadin wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • you mean like the complete control we have over our bodies from CAM right? we already know it all. hell, a few decades ago acupuncture was akin to voodoo but is now readily accepted and scientifically proven. vibrational medicine is quite real contrary to marks assumptions. if you disagree, simply try having your electrons stop bouncing around and see how well you feel.

      Duke wrote on November 16th, 2011
  10. I really like the tone of this post. Respectful, insightful, open to possibilities yet firmly grounded in logic and opinion. No need for anyone to get upset about it. Thank you Mark!

    Back in the early 90’s I experimented with some homeopathic remedies. I was very open minded and believed fully some of the literature available at that time.
    I can tell you that NONE of the remedies ever did anything for me. Or maybe better stated; I never got any type of relief from the “homeopathic medicine”. The human/doctor part of the placebo equation is a HUGE factor…most likely the biggest factor.

    Marc

    Marc wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • or you simply had some bunk sugar pills.

      Duke wrote on November 16th, 2011
  11. Homeopathic vodka anyone?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZO9J7dDLU4

    Brian wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • HAHAHHAAHAHA! Good one! Now, where did I leave mine?

      Cj wrote on January 28th, 2011
  12. “I really like the tone of this post. Respectful, insightful, open to possibilities yet firmly grounded in logic and opinion. No need for anyone to get upset about it. Thank you Mark!”

    +1

    I think it is very important that people understand the difference between “Homeopathy” and “Natural and Preventative Health and Wellness Practices” such as Chiropractic, herbalism, or acupuncture.

    Leanne wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • From what I understand, while obviously there are many herbs that are effective in treating lots of problems, acupuncture is a bit dicey, as some studies show it to be more effective than placebo, and others the opposite (even putting needles in “randomly” as one of the control groups), and that Chiropractic got its start claiming that spinal manipulation could cure almost anything, and even now has yet to PROVE that what they do is as good as or better than a Ph.D. level Physical Therapist; I am continually amazed by people who swear by their chiropractor with the statement, “Every time I go, I feel so much better!” Um, shouldn’t you not have to keep going back?

      Bob wrote on January 25th, 2011
      • I had a bruised rib once, given to me by my martial arts instructor. It wasn’t going away. I knew western medicine would prescribe pain medication I didn’t really want. So, although I knew it was a stretch, I went to a chinese medicine practitioner and had cupping done on my back, which helped for several days to eliminate the pain. The a week later, acupuncture with electricity. Cured. All in my mind? Don’t care. 50 bucks. I would have paid more than that for a prescription pain med.

        Dune wrote on January 25th, 2011
        • I will add though that if it hadn’t worked, I was going for the pain meds next.

          Dune wrote on January 25th, 2011
        • Yeah, my brother sends me links to skeptic and quack websites about acupuncture with similar information. My reply was the same as yours – I had injured my periformis (sp?) muscle to the point where I couldn’t dress myself. A treatment with an acupuncturist was all I needed. Placebo? perhaps…but for $50 and no drug side effects, I really don’t care.

          And remember that many of these alternative treatments aren’t “proven” by studies because of the money…drug companies fund most studies either directly or indirectly through our universities.

          Lisa wrote on January 26th, 2011
      • First off I take major offense when someone trashes something they obviously know nothing about. You probably have not done any research yourself on what chiropractic truly is. The specificity that is involved in an adjustment is what sets chiropractors apart from other who “just manipulate”. And there are studies showing the effectiveness of chiropractic. As far as people who have to continually get adjusted they most likely have lifestyle issues as a causative factor. I only ask that before someone forms an opinion about something they do the research objectively first. As far as it being a cure no that is not the claim, chiropractic removes nerve impingement so the brain can effectively send signals to the body. That is why it is effective for everything.

        Joshua Pepping wrote on January 25th, 2011
        • Agreed. My repeat trips were only during my period as a single-minded endurance iron athlete. A good chiropractic is awesome and he kept telling me if I wanted a permanent solution I should look at the lifestyle!

          Since I gave up chronic cardio I’ve been back only twice I think both when I’d fallen off my bike (pleasure riding) and misaligned everything again!

          Kelda wrote on January 26th, 2011
        • That’s my problem with chiropractors. Now, I love the adjustments; I feel pumped leaving. The first time I literally felt a high.

          But I really wanted to figure out specifically what I am doing to myself physically to prevent my having to return.

          My best guess, I think a good part of it was bad posture instigated by my shoes and my motorcycle boots.

          Mike wrote on January 26th, 2011
        • Mike,
          There are so many factors that can effect your back it would be hard to specifically pinpoint. One thing I feel people don’t understand is that they spend sometimes decades “training” there body to hold the vertebrae in an incorrect pattern, our jobs as chiropractors is to correct that. This is something that takes time, we are working to essentially retrain the body to hold a better pattern. This takes time. Which is why people need to go back a number of times.

          Joshua Pepping wrote on January 26th, 2011
  13. … well mark, you “paid” for your off-the-cuff remark honorably – on the whole, a balanced-with-opinion post – thanks for that –

    i’m not going to jump up and yell foul but on the other hand, i have seen and experienced effects of Rescue Remedy and Bach flowers when no logical other explanation -except that they DID work- was there. Anecdotal i know – but ya know what they say, the mind is like a parachute – ain’t workin ‘less it’s open…

    DaiaRavi wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • They also say “keep an open mind, but not so open that your brain falls out.” ;)

      Tom wrote on January 25th, 2011
  14. Research is an important factor. Logic and science have to be factored in. All claims of cures have to be evaluated without emotion, some people are better salesmen than others in touting illogical claims.

    JQuarta wrote on January 25th, 2011
  15. “The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.” – Voltaire

    Primal Palette wrote on January 25th, 2011
  16. Nicely done. I agree 100%, and it’s nice to see you taking a stand for science and against pseudo science. Now, your next targets along this line should be Deepak Chopra and Bruce Lipton. The latter I have some respect for, and I read Biology of Belief and it obviously has some chapters that are just way beyond reason, while others are perfectly fine and essentially deal with epigenetics, and I guess that this was why you included both of them – to show that our genes might not be carved in stone – the genes themselves are, but we can influence their expression via environment and surely, within limits, with our minds.

    Why am I mentioning them? Well, I just read the PB again, and your reference to those two guys kind of irked me. It would be nice to know where you stand in that regard.

    MikeEnRegalia wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • Mike, I use quotes from a bunch of people in the PB, but I wouldn’t say I am “referencing” them all. Like Devo for instance. I’m not a fan of Chopra, but that quote about how long our organs will last had nothing to do with quantum physics or holograms…it was a simple observation that any doc will agree with. As for Lipton, I do like the way he thinks, even if he’s a bit fringe.

      Mark Sisson wrote on January 25th, 2011
      • Hey Mark,

        sure, that’s also how I understood it, but there are some who simply see those names mentioned and conclude that you’re endorsing their pseudo-scientific views – I’ve read some of the few negative reviews of the PB on Amazon where exactly that was happening.

        MikeEnRegalia wrote on January 25th, 2011
        • I reaaaaly think that science-y types (i’m on the fence – had traditional science/pre-med schooling but have seen some other things with these eyes) have to be a bit less anxious to slap the “pseudoscience” label on anything that does not fit THEIR scientific criteria/world view – please consider, for example, that some of the most astounding physics discoveries of the last 20 years have driven that discipline a hell of alot more towards the “esoteric” than imaginable just 30-50 years ago. i completely understand and concur with the need for good investigative research/testing of theory – but do keep in mind that “there are more thing in heaven and earth, [science-fact devotees] than are dreamt of in your philosophy”

          DaiaRavi wrote on January 26th, 2011
  17. And another thought specifically about homeopathy: It’s telling that when you go to the store and buy some homeopathic remedies, the guy behind the counter will typically recommend that you only take them along with “real” medicine … at least that’s what I heard from some relatives. Personally, being the rationalist-atheist-skeptic that I am, I never spent any money on them.

    BTW, speaking of skeptics:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0Z7KeNCi7g

    James Randi, debunking homeopathy at TED. Very entertaining :-)

    MikeEnRegalia wrote on January 25th, 2011
  18. I was worried for a second when I saw the title. Good post.

    Homeopathy seems to be like a lot of these other alternative treatments. Somebody sat in a room and pulled an idea out of the air, and every time new science (or old science) shows it couldn’t possibly work that way, people try to justify it using other or newer science. Repeat. Hence quantum mechanics, since, as I think Feynman once said, “If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics.”. :)

    Arlo wrote on January 25th, 2011
  19. oliverh wrote on January 25th, 2011
  20. If you haven’t watched it already, you must view this hilarious video by Mitchel and Webb (a UK comedy show) –

    That Mitchell and Webb Look: Homeopathic A&E http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMGIbOGu8q0 (sfw)

    Consequently, homeopathy seems to be entrenched within the UK public health service. Kind of nuts…

    David Csonka wrote on January 25th, 2011
  21. Agree with Mark broadly here, but have to agree with Bob’s points 2, 3 and 4, as well.

    Some compounds will have physiologic doses in the parts per million or billion.

    slacker wrote on January 25th, 2011
  22. On the flip side – many of us have seen astounding results with homeopathy and our pets. Pretty sure my dog doesn’t fall for the placebo effect.

    I think a great deal of the efficacy of homeopathy is on the shoulders of the practicioner and how good they are. If you choose the wrong remedy nothing will happen.

    I have had little to no results self medicating with homeopathy however I have seen results in my dogs. Something interesting to contemplate…

    Grace wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • However there is something called the investigator effect, where if the person testing something believes strongly in its efficacy, this will cause them to unconsciously sway the results in its favor. This is why good trials are both blinded and placebo controlled.

      Tim wrote on January 25th, 2011
      • Yeah, I believe it’s also referred to as confirmation bias.

        Trav wrote on January 25th, 2011
  23. I don’t know a great deal about homeopathy, but I believe it is perfectly valid (or at least plausible) to view this through the lens of quantum physics. It’s not about “life force,” but about the electromagnetic fields (EMF) that exist around every single atom, affecting every cell in our bodies. It is much more complex than body chemistry and the amount of substance used; it is about agitating the EMF of the substance. Check out Savely Yurkovsky’s work. Here is a wiki link http://www.wisdomwiki.com/wiki/Savely_Yurkovsky

    Griffin wrote on January 25th, 2011
  24. The reason I am putting up a fight for homeopathy is because my girlfriend is undergoing major digestive problems (and no, she does not eat sugar or grains or PUFAs). The only thing that has even come close to helping her are the treatments from Dr. Yurkovsky. I had a chance to read a lot of his book, and it lays out very clearly the misconceptions about homeopathy. The big kicker, though, is that after most remedies, she’s not supposed to use electricity (EMF interference). Every time she breaks that rule, she gets an excruciating EMF headache. There’s gotta be something there…

    Griffin wrote on January 25th, 2011
  25. @Daia, did you even read the post? Or do you know what BACH’s is? It’s Floral therapy, and Mark clearly states this is NOT what he’s talking about in this post. Jeeze….I’ve never posted but you and your uninformed, need to bash posts really have me sickened. If you don’t like it here…don’t play here!

    Trish wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • I don’t think he (she) was bashing the post. Order some Primal Calm.

      Mark Cruden wrote on January 25th, 2011
      • Thank you Mark Cruden,

        Trish, i am sorry, but who is uninformed here? Please go to the Wiki entry for Mr. Bach whose HOMEOPATHIC-styled dilutions of flower essences are part of our family’s arsenal against sicknesses and disorders.

        But thank you for helping me make my point – Bach WAS a homeopath and his remedies DO involve many of the same principles of high dilution that are attacked by science people as bogus concepts. Bach diverges from typical homeopathy in that his remedies don’t go with the “law of similars” so in fact, to say that Bach Flower Remedies ARE or ARE NOT homeopathic is a bit argumentative. I believe that the high dilution is the main reason that traditional science cannot get it’s head around homeopathy – and i understand. I don’t think the other precepts of homeopathy are necessarily as hard to grok as the dilution thing –

        but that’s my take – and BTW – i DO read the articles – but i also want to add to the flow of the comments which may not always fit your ideas of commitment to Mark’s line of thinking.

        gosh i’m sorry…

        DaiaRavi wrote on January 26th, 2011
  26. I stand resolute. My body, my choice. Don’t try and regulate my medicinal decisions. Why don’t you stick to what you know from your own experience, that being diet & exercise, & leave what you have no experience with alone? Anyone can argue against something they have never tried.

    Kristen wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • There are many things I’ve never tried that I can make reasonable arguments against.

      Yours is a typical argument of the belief-biased.

      HillSideGina wrote on January 25th, 2011
      • Yes, I could argue strongly against eating cow-dung to cure headaches, but that doesn’t mean I’ve tried it.

        Tim wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • Even what Mark knows from experience he has backed up with research. That approach is far more convincing than if he had simply offered PB based on his own personal success.

      In fact, supporting an argument with research is superior to individual experience every time.

      Tom wrote on January 26th, 2011
      • Thee is a reason that people in the homeoptathic field call it going beyond flat Earth medicine.

        Kristen wrote on January 26th, 2011
  27. What about the fish that change sex because of hormones in the water from birth control medicines? By the time it gets to the fish it should be really dilute, especially after going through the water treatment plant? I haven’t actually read the research on this one so don’t take my word for it, but I don’t think water treatment plants are a fix all, which is kind of how we view them.

    Emily wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • The processes in water treatment plants can’t break down hormones and lots of pharmaceuticals. Hence the news about low levels of prozac in the water in certain areas. And when lots of women are peeing out lots of hormones.. it’s enough to bother the fish.

      Hil wrote on January 25th, 2011
      • Prozac in drinking water? The water that comes out of our fossets? They put it there on purpose like Fluoride?

        Whoa…

        Suvetar wrote on January 26th, 2011
    • That kind of stuff isn’t diluted to anything like 100C dilution. There can be pharmacologically-significant levels of hormones and so on in water where lots of people live and work. People make lots of mess; it’s one of the things we’re good at.

      Uncephalized wrote on January 25th, 2011
  28. Nicely written and to the point, Mark. Thank you.

    It’s about time Homeopathy is put to bed as an old, loopy theory that does not stand up to science.

    I don’t know why most “Holistic” or “Alternative” health practitioners persist in clinging to this. And “Natural” food and health stores still have large sections devoted to Homeopathic potions. (I think I just answered my own question – it makes a lot of money and there are no ingredients – pure profit!)

    HillSideGina wrote on January 25th, 2011
  29. Homeopathy is obviously absolute bunk snakewater and it’s kind of annoying that Mark had to waste a post on it. But I guess I’m glad he did. The most important thing on the topic is – as Mark addressed – there is a lot of terminology confusion between homeopathy and genuine herbalism. Heck, up until a few years ago I used the terms interchangeably. There’s definite education that needs to happen.

    Carl wrote on January 25th, 2011
  30. http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110125/ts_yblog_thelookout/attorneys-question-whether-what-taco-bell-calls-beef-is-actually-beef

    Maybe a little lobbying can get their stuff classified as ‘homeopathic beef’. Just enough of it in the grist to contain the memory of meat.

    Bennett wrote on January 25th, 2011
  31. I have tried professionally (by a practitioner) a few times over the last 25 years with good results. I have also used some over-the-counter (OTC) homeopathic products scores of times over those years with good results as well. I include homeopathic remedies in my home “pharmacy” along with western herbs and chinese herbs.

    I have always been far less interested in whether something “makes sense” or satisfies “logic” – and especially whether it is “scientifically sound”
    or not, and much more interested in whether it actually WORKS for me – and believe me, I am as skeptical as the next person, but that healthy skepticism is combined with an open mind — big difference.

    Have you noticed that “science” (in its various forms) has always throughout history been cocksure about what it knows is “true” at any given time, but always changes its mind (albeit inexorably) eventually — but is NEVER caught up with the cutting-edge of thought. Consider Gallileo and Copernicus and many others — they were thought to be heretics in their own time, and then science eventually caught up them, whereas what was cutting-edge then was somewhere else already. The point I am trying to make here is that anything you think you know right now about science is nothing more than what you’ve read in books or learned in school (more books) or heard in the media – including the information you are judging/evaluating by — you are using a paradigm (way of thinking) that you’ve learned from this culture — it doesn’t make it “right”, ultimately — many other cultures have many other ways of thinking and interpreting the world — are you arrogant enough to think they are “wrong”?
    By the way, homeopathic remedies are not simply “diluted” by adding water. They are shaken in a vigorous and specific way at each dilution step, which is a big difference.
    If you are curious about the properties of water that make it an amazing substance to carry the essence of something (as in homeopathy), take a look at Masaru Emoto’s research on water.
    As to your cursory discount of “the life force”, this just exposes your own bias for not acknowledging it, not whether it exists or not.

    Also, you don’t mention whether you’ve tried homeopathy or not — I assume you haven’t, since you don’t mention so.

    I agree that there’s room for debate, but I think you have a weak argument indeed if you are relying on books and other’s opinions (that’s what books are too) instead of your own (hopefully more than cursory) experience.

    Again, in my experience, what’s mattered to me more than anything else is whether it actually works, not whether it “makes sense” or not. I say, who cares whether it makes sense! Do people who blindly swallow pharmaceutical drugs
    do so knowing the side-effects and the mechanisms of action for those drugs? Almost always not. Being that pharmaceutical drugs kill at least a quarter million people a year (and are backed up by “science” and “research”), I am surprised that you would be so critical about substances that at least are harmless (i.e., homeopathics).
    By the way, homeopathy, along with many other therapies, was and is meant to be an ALTERNATIVE to pharmaceutical biomedicine — something I think that’s worth considering.

    By the way, I enjoyed many of your points, not the least was whether re-cycled water from treatment plants had residues or essences of funky stuff in it — I think that’s an excellent question!! The quality of the water we drink (not to mention the air) is obviously really important – Grok would probably gag on most of what we drink and breathe) – just as important as what we eat.

    wilbur wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • This argument is actually upside down. Galileo and Copernicus WERE science that was dogmatically repressed by those who “knew” from personal experience that these observations were wrong. Homeopathy would be widely embraced if it could live up to a double blind study. It can’t.

      DeyC3 wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • It is truly wonderful that you have found success in homeopathy, and although anecdotal evidence doesn’t usually rank highly in terms of proving a treatment (compared to a clinical trial for example), there is certainly great merit an anecdotal proof approach to self-care. And as such, it is certainly helpful to have a number of treatment options available to an individual.

      However, I think that it is important to point out that, although the substance itself may be ‘harmless’, potential delay of proven treatment in favour of less proven, or unproven treatments may not be so harmless.

      Dino Babe wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • Glad homeopathy has worked for you. That said:

      “Science” (in quotation marks) may be “cocksure.” Science, in it’s proper practice is not. There is nothing dogmatic about science. You remarked it “always” changes it’s mind. That’s because of it’s very undogmatic nature–that’s a strength of science, not a weakness. When new evidence comes along, the theory changes accordingly. You kind of contradicted yourself there.

      As far as science not being part of “cutting edge throught”–well that depends on what you mean by “cutting edge.” If you mean any alternative idea that might get tossed into the social milleu, then yes, science is slow to accept–that is another one of its strengths. Ideas must pass the muster of rigorous scientific inquiry to become sound theory. Homeopathy has failed in that respect, time and again.

      Copernicus and Gallileo WERE the science of their time. They were not considered “heretics” by the scientific establishment (what little was allowed to by the church to exist at that time.) Science doesn’t use that label. They were considered heretics by the church. It was the church (centuries later) that caught up to science.

      Wilbur wrote: “The point I am trying to make here is that anything you think you know right now about science is nothing more than what you’ve read in books or learned in school (more books) or heard in the media…”

      To say “nothing more” is like saying a Porche 911 is “nothing more than a car.” And besides, no, science is also testable and repeatable. Mark could indeed run his own double-blind study on Homeopathic treatments if he wanted. It would be a waste of time however, as the subject has been run into the ground. This isn’t beating a dead horse–it’s stepping on the maggots that fed off it’s carcass.

      Wilbur said: “By the way, homeopathic remedies are not simply “diluted” by adding water. They are shaken in a vigorous and specific way at each dilution step, which is a big difference.”

      So homeopathic “remedies” are carefully shaken water. That makes it…carefully shaken water. The fact that it’s done in a specific way…well…rain dances are also done in a “specific way…”

      Wilbur said: “I agree that there’s room for debate, but I think you have a weak argument indeed if you are relying on books and other’s opinions (that’s what books are too) instead of your own (hopefully more than cursory) experience”

      Would you say the same about evolution? The speed of light? Germ theory of disease?

      Homeopathy is a religion. If you have faith in it, I guess you might find some benefit. To try to argue, however, that it should be taken seriously by the academic world, anyone skeptical or the individuals interested in finding an effective cure to their ailement…well…that battle was lost a long time ago.

      PS–For what it’s worth, I do agree with you on Big Pharma :)

      fritzy wrote on January 25th, 2011
      • “The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.”
        – Voltaire

        … jus’ sayin….

        DaiaRavi wrote on January 26th, 2011
        • …creds to Primal Palette…

          DaiaRavi wrote on January 26th, 2011
  32. I’m kind of on the fence with Homeopathy since the principle of symptoms generated in your body from a disease could be an outward appearance of your body trying to regain homeostasis therefore a substance that produces those same symptoms in an otherwise healthy individual could in a smaller amount help the body better gain homeostasis. Take for instance the fact that many drugs that help with conditions may actually cause them in much higher doses.

    It’s interesting that you are so fired up about this though Mark. One area I wish you were as fired up about would be MSG and its effects on stimulating our genes to cause us to be fat :)

    Edward wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • The dubious (read: ludicrously stupid) claim homeopathy makes is that water can somehow remember what used to be in it and that dilution makes things stronger. This is simply false (read: tested rigorously and debunked many times) and can lead to people not getting real help for serious problems, and thus dying.

      Uncephalized wrote on January 25th, 2011
  33. Sam Hahnemann was dissatisfied with the tools available to heal the sick, meaning leaches, mercury, lead, etc. He refused to practice this medicine, but continued his search for a better healing system. He eventually discovered the mechanism of “Like Cures Like”
    Although i like homeopathy as an alternative modality and, is in common in medical usage today; homeopathy has yet to find scientific instruments with enough sensitivity to measure and thereby prove homeopathic efficacy.
    The Law of Similars is used in vaccination, and let it be stated i am tottally aganist vacciness 95% of tge time it is also used in many incidences of poisoning, such as snakebites, all examples of using the toxic substance to create the cure, (fire aganist fire)
    Much of contemporary thought in medicine involves healing with opposite force. We use medicines to cool the heat of fever, to reduce swellings. Hahnemann found this concept suppressive, and believed it forced the disease condition deeper into the organism’s vital force, where it waits until a “like” remedy can be found to counter it.
    If you measure symptom, you can easily measure results. If you reduce fever, you can measure the lower temperature of a thermometer. As medicine became more mechanistic and relied on technology, instruments for measurement and removal of symptom has become our definition of cure. And homeopathy is hard to measure. Homeopaths agree that once a remedy is diluted beyond 24x or 12C potencies. They are diluted beyond Avogadro’s number (6.23 x 10-23), which indicates that no molecules are present in the original substance. However, both laboratory and clinical results over the last 190 years have demonstrated definite effectiveness with homeopathic remedies beyond this dilution.
    Using modern research techniques, homeopathy has been put to the test. Believers claim results. Skeptics are still skeptical. There is currently much interest in discovering the system by which the dilute remedies used in homeopathy treatment provide their healing effects. The amount of substance in homeopathy remedies is miniscule, as the remedies are diluted and succussed numerous times, beyond Avogadro’s number, leaving skeptics to wonder how something that is not “there” can heal. Over the years, theories about the memory of water, kirilyain photography, and Ie crystals have sought to explain the action of homeopathy remedies. One such study was conducted by Boiron Pharmacy called, “Understanding the phenomenon of high potencies.” This study used spectroscopic methods and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR).
    Biologist, Dr. Jacques Benviste suggests that “Water can retain the vibrational memory of a substance even after it is diluted beyond Avogadro’s number, where no physical traces of the substance remain,” in an article published in the journal Nature in 1988. Shui-Yin Lo, a former visiting associate at the California Institute of Technology, suggested a possible scientific explanation of how homeopathy might work. He created extremely dilute solutions similar to those used in homeopathic remedies. He then examined these dilutions with an electron microscope, which showed that in some cases the water contained strange ice crystals, which formed at room temperature under normal pressure. The crystals were even stable at high temperatures. These IE crystal (the named meaning ice formed under an electric charge using ions) also demonstrate some of the function of water.
    As our technologically-based medicine creates more subtle measuring devices, the evidence for the efficacy of homeopathy will continue to be further displayed, adding homeopathy to the arsenal of healing tools.
    Ruben
    workoutmaster.com

    Ruben wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • So why doesn’t the water retain the memory of the myriad other compounds that are super diluted within it? e.g. contaminants, the containers it was processed in, and everything else it ever contacted.

      DeyC3 wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • “Extraoridnary claims require extraoridnary evidence.” Until then, it’s just a claim.

      -Unicorns that phase between this universe and another are my personal guardians
      -Invisible Fairies make my dinner every night by guiding my hands at the stove.
      -My teeth talk for me without a thought from me–I just sit and marvel at their words.

      These are claims that science has not developed strong enough instruments to measure. How come no one is taking my claims seriously?

      fritzy wrote on January 25th, 2011
  34. I don’t have any problem with “like treats like”; think of smallpox vaccinations or the Salk polio vaccine. Here, the mechanism is to introduce something similar (but less harmful) which triggers the patient’s immune response system.

    Of course none of this will help after you’ve contracted smallpox or polio.

    On the other hand, I can’t follow the dilution idea at all, in fact it (to my mind) is utterly absurd.

    If I want Arnica I’ll go for something that’s 10%, not 10xE-3000

    jdwilson wrote on January 25th, 2011
  35. Trish, take a deep breath. I do think you’re
    overreacting. Daia’s post was perfectly
    civil, even though may disagree with its
    content.

    Sabrina wrote on January 25th, 2011
  36. Some people swear by drinking their own urine. People are going to believe what they want to believe and there is nothing you can do to convince them otherwise.

    rob wrote on January 25th, 2011
  37. I was under the impression that the cure for malaria, quinine, is a homeopathic compound. Also I had great success with Zicam when they first came out with the nasal swabs. Neither of these is diluted – they definitely have ‘active’ ingredients that would cause malaria or cold symptoms if you took them when healthy, but they are both homeopathic.

    Marcy wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • No, they are not. Quinine is a plant compound distilled from acacia bark. It is a legitimate herbal remedy, not a homeopathic one. It is not diluted to insignificant concentrations and acts like any other drug, eliciting observable physiological effects which block infestation by malaria flukes as well as reducing malaria symptoms.

      If it is not diluted, it is not homeopathy, strictly speaking. Mark made this very clear. People are misusing the label if they use to describe things like Quinine.

      Also, Quinine does not in any way cause malaria or malaria-like symptoms. It’s an anti-inflammatory and a pain-killer, for Pete’s sake. I don’t know anything about Zicam so I won’t address that part.

      Uncephalized wrote on January 25th, 2011
      • My apologies. I should have said cinchona bark, not acacia. I was under the mistaken impression that cinchona was a member of the acacia family, but it’s not.

        Uncephalized wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • In 2006, Matrixx Initiatives (makers of Zicam) paid $12 million to settle 340 lawsuits from Zicam users who said that the product destroyed their sense of smell (medically termed anosmia). As of 2009 hundreds more such suits have since been filed.

      It appears that some of the active ingredient (zinc) in Zicam was not diluted to the degree that “homeopathic” remedies are normally done.

      This shows that manufacturers can co-opt the term “homeopathic” for their remedy, even if it is not technically a homeopathic formula, since it is not a regulated term, further confusing the public about what the heck homeopathic means.

      The responses to this post show a lot of confusion and misinformation in the public who do take these remedies, and I would add that health practitioners themselves may use the term in a loosey-goosey manner.

      HillSideGina wrote on January 25th, 2011
  38. Okay, looks like I will be on the opposite side of the fence here. 15 years ago, I went to a registered Homeopathic Practitioner who came highly recommended. I had HUGE HUGE success for a number of issues. Depression, hormonal issues, and best of all, allergies. I have not tried a liquid homeopathic, only in the form of a tiny sugar ball. For me, it put my body, and mind back into balance. I would not hesitate to use homeopathic treatments again. I was lucky to find a practitioner who was well respected in his field, and will always be grateful for his help.

    Ina Gawne wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • All of your ailements are cyclical in nature. And no offense, but depression and “hormonal issues” require a medical diagnosis, which I suspect you never received. I too have allergies, but they ebb and flow, not with how much homeopathic care I get, but with the pollen count. Sometimes I go years without symptoms.

      Ray Butlers wrote on February 6th, 2011
  39. The homeopathic remedies that you can buy at a health food store don’t work at all from what I can tell. BUT…when I had a systemic candida yeast infection, homeopathy was the ONLY thing that worked. It took several weeks, and I was very, very tired a lot of the time, especially near the beginning of the course of treatment. But my yeast symptoms went away by the end of this course of treatment. I had to get the candida medicine by mail order, and I’m not sure you can still get it.

    shannon wrote on January 25th, 2011
    • Or, your immune system finally did it’s job and got rid of it. Correlation and causation are two different things. Either way, I’m glad you’re well!

      fritzy wrote on January 25th, 2011
  40. To the earlier posts on Chiropractic, I have great success with a Chiropractor I trust. I broke my neck when I was 19 in a bad accident (C-3 and C-4), and had bone fragments kicking around in there from a previous accident the year before.
    After many years of brutal spasms that would leave me with NO mobility (couldn’t turn my head) and numbness in my arm, hand and fingers..And the only offer of help was a prescription for pain killers, anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxers, I was pretty desperate for relief. I was too young to be in constant pain, but I refused surgery to fuse everything together.
    While being treated for a rib injury, (another long story), I developed a trusting relationship with a young chiro who was referred to me by (gasp) my primary physician. As we worked on my ribs and spine, he told me he had gotten a great job offer halfway across the country. But he wanted his DAD to take over my case, and he thought his dad would have the expertise to win my trust and let him work on my neck. I did, thank God. He took x rays, tested my strength and mobility, had me use a different pillow (12 yrs later I still use it!)and worked on straightening me out. It did initially take awhile, but I am SO thankful I stuck with it!
    I see him occasionally once a year or two for a few sessions when I get jammed up..we are always amazed how long it has been!
    Love my Chiropractor!

    juliemama wrote on January 25th, 2011

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