Homeopathy: Can We Please, As a Society, Let This One Go?

You hear us rant almost daily about the ridiculous machinations of the modern medical establishment, namely the reliance on drugs and surgery to “fix” health issues that could often be better dealt with or eliminated with simple lifestyle changes. Modern medicine has become a bureaucratic, money-driven actuarial game wherein individual patient rights are routinely sacrificed for the greater good of large populations. And so you hear, “The operation was a success, but the patient died.” or, “We don’t care that you refuse to get vaccinated. You need to do it so the rest of us don’t die from an epidemic of this obscure disease.” Or “Despite debilitating side effects, this new drug appears to benefit 22% of patients who take it.”

For that reason I am a big fan of “integrated medicine,” which combines the best elements of conventional medical methods with some forms of complementary and alternative medicine – when research suggests that these alternatives might provide better benefits with fewer side effects or complications. A lot of doctors are now embracing this new vision of medicine which includes diet and lifestyle alterations, stress management techniques, biofeedback, and the use of certain vitamin regimens and herbal therapies when drugs or surgery just don’t seem ethical. Good for them and better for us. But often lumped in with that group is another specific “branch” of medicine I find ludicrous and which I need to explore with you, since many of my readers tend to assume it is a legitimate option within the “alternative” camp.

That branch is called homeopathy.

Ironically, many people willingly accept homeopathy as a legitimate form of medicine simply because no one has explained to them how silly it is…despite having been in existence for almost 200 years with no reputable studies to prove that it works. Many assume that homeopathy is equivalent to “herbal medicine” and that those little homeopathy pills or tinctures are just smaller versions of the research-proven herbal extracts that often do have real benefits. But nothing could be further from the truth.

The basic theory behind homeopathy involves stimulating the body’s ability to heal itself by providing minute doses of substances that in larger amounts would cause illness. It is often referred to as “like cures like” or “The Law of Similars”. Take a little of the “hair of the dog that bit you” (literally, in some cases). Now dilute it with water and shake vigorously. Now dilute it and shake it again, and again, until it is so dilute that only one part per billion remains. Sorry, it’s still not dilute enough. To make it even “stronger” we need to dilute it to parts per trillion or less! (This is known in homeopathy as the “Law of Infinitesimals” and in science as “officially nothing”). Under the theory of homeopathy, the substance being diluted confers some vibrational energy that remains in the water and which enables the body to heal itself…or at least deal with the symptoms of the condition, since homeopathy doesn’t seem to concern itself with the origin of the disease.

I am astounded that people today still believe that homeopathy has any place in modern medicine. It was developed in the early 1800s by a “physician” named Samuel Hahnemann on a misguided theory that he could restore the body’s “vital forces” using these diluted and vigorously shaken poisons to release “immaterial and spiritual powers.” Please. Almost more ridiculous is the fact that this theory hasn’t changed much in the ensuing 200 years and yet homeopathy is still practiced by otherwise knowledgeable “doctors”.

Homeopathy is even unofficially recognized by the FDA as a form of treatment. How, you ask, could our government condone such silly practices? Simply because there is no way anyone can be harmed by homeopathic remedies. Remember, the more “powerful” the homeopathic remedy is, the less of anything it contains. The FDA has its hands full trying to prevent myriad needless deaths from countless new drugs. They simply look the other way when a homeopathic remedy claims to treat a disease or condition because they know that no one will be hurt (unless by relying on the homeopathic cure, the patient forgoes more effective treatment). Since supplement manufacturers are not allowed to make disease claims, some unscrupulous supplement companies have even moved into the lucrative homeopathy business just to be able to legally claim their products treat disease.

So how is it that so many people swear by their homeopathic remedies and truly believe they work? There’s your answer right there: belief. Blind faith and the placebo effect. (Wasn’t that Ginger Baker’s third band?) The placebo effect occurs when a patient gets better simply as a result of his/her positive expectations that the treatment will work. Some studies show that 50% of people taking a placebo will experience significant improvement if they believe they were given a strong medicine. The mind is a very powerful tool in healing the body, as any Christian Scientist or Voodoo believer will tell you. And that’s all that’s happening in the case of homeopathy. Blind faith. And maybe there’s nothing wrong with that, except that it takes the focus away from the cause of your affliction.

Bottom line: if you are willing to suspend disbelief and are a sucker for placebos, then homeopathy is just what the doctor ordered. Otherwise, let’s see how eating well, exercising and controlling stress might better address the situation.

The Horse’s Mouth


Further Reading at the Blog:

10 Dumbest Drugs Ever Invented

10 Worst Health Scams

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Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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91 thoughts on “Homeopathy: Can We Please, As a Society, Let This One Go?”

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  1. Alternative, natural, herbal, homeopathic…
    I think people are confused. I’m confused. Most people think it’s all the same.
    In some situations, a placebo effect is a good thing!

    1. Honestly, just because you can’t explain it doesn’t mean it’s just a placebo effect.

      Not many people understand energy fields in the body. Once string theory becomes proven and published, you will better understand how something you can’t see can still exist.

      Check out Dr David Reilly. He went into homeopathic research to disprove it. Do his surprise, he couldn’t. And now he tests and tests and publishes his results in the Lancet. Here read this:

      Look, I don’t care if you believe it or not but why call people fools that have tried and get real benefits from homeopathic remedies? When the whole time you’re the fool. Admittedly not understanding how it works isn’t proof that it’s bogus, Just proof that you’re not smart enough to understand it.

    2. One homeopathic treatment that I know has been proven to work is Zicam. I carry some with me wherever I am. I haven’t had a cold in over five years. Other cold remedies have never proven useful for me. Echinachea, and cold eeze have been flops.

      1. Well, it supplies an absolutely tiny amount of zinc which I doubt has done anything to prevent your colds.

        ‘Homeopathic’ means that the ingredients are diluted with purified water until they no longer exist and only the water remains. The whole section in stores should be renamed ‘fraud’, ‘scam’, or ‘hydration’.

        The placebo effect is really strong. People get a stronger effect from 3 sugar pills instead of 1 sugar pill. Or an injection vs a pill. The brain plays tricks. Animals are not subject to the placebo effect though because they don’t understand what the medicine is supposed to do.

        1. Maybe hydration explains all reported homeopathic benefits. I know water can resolve some symptoms even when I don’t feel thirsty.

  2. I suppose thats why allergy shots don’t work. I watched a documentary 2 years ago on some scientific triple blind testing done of homeopathic cures and the results were unreal, 63% success rate in treatment. Well above placebo effect. I’ll see if I can find the information.

    Keep in mind though; Hydrogen sulfide at 50-100 ppm leads to eye damage.

    Six parts per trillion estrogen added to a lake was enough to cause Male fish to grow Female tissue. https://addendumb.blogspot.com/2007/07/fetid-fatal-fish-flesh.html

    I dont think California would be lowering arsenic levels at huge costs to less than 3 parts per trillion if it wasn’t a hazard https://www.construction.com/NewsCenter/Headlines/ENR/20030317e.asp

    An 1 part per trillion of dioxin causes hormonal action to occur. https://www.mindfully.org/Plastic/Polyvinylchloride/PVC-Health-HazardPWG25oct01.htm

    So perhaps they may have something in homeopathic medicine we just don’t understand yet. Sorry to be so sarcastic but you came off so venomous about something thats not even fully understood yet, namely the human body.

    Remember some people have been hung as witches for doing things their peers didn’t understand that was later explained through science.

    1. Background: I am a Water Resource Analyst at a utility in the Coachella Valley and I sit on the Water Quality Committee at the Association of California Water Agencies. I’m in charge of helping my organization prepare for a new Maximum Contaminant Level around chromium (VI) that is expected in CA and spend a lot of time dealing with parts per [x] of various constituents in our groundwater, so I think I’m somewhat qualified to comment here.

      You make a good point that trace levels of contaminants can be extraordinarily powerful, particularly the case of pharmaceuticals in our waterways and the fabled hermaphroditic fish. It’s likely that that the CA Dept of Public Health sets the MCL for Cr VI down to 0.02 ppb, or one unit of Cr VI for every 200,000,000,000 units of water (resulting in one in a million cancer cases after 70 years of daily normal consumption). Pretty miniscule right?

      However, in the case of homeopathic remedies one needs to think about this situation more deeply. It’s true that one chromium atom in two hundred billion water molecules could give one out a million people cancer over 70 years of daily use, depending on what CDPH says this coming year…but we’re talking about the entire statewide water distribution system, with millions of acre-feet being delivered to millions of people, and only a couple of cases being reported. Same story with the lake – it might only be 6 ppt, but there are orders of magnitude more than a trillion^2 water molecules in a lake, so that means you probably have 60 quadrillion pharmaceutical molecules floating around, more than enough chances for a couple to influence fish swimming through them.

      Now let’s take homeopathy, which claims that a 30x remedy – that is, 1 part remedy for every 10^30 H2O molecules, as “30x” denotes a power of 10 and not a product – is effective in treating an ailment. Let’s bust out a little dimension analysis…depending on your significant figures, (8oz of water)*(28g/oz)/(18g/mol)*(6.02×10^23 molecules/mol) = roughly 7.5×10^24 molecules of water in a glass. If we set the average homeopathic remedy at a 1.5oz little bottle, you’re looking at 1.4×10^24 molecules in a remedy.

      So, if a 30x remedy only contains 1.4×10^24 water molecules, then unless you can dissolve a substance in a millionth of a water molecule, there is almost guaranteed nothing left in the remedy. Let me put it this way: if you take one million 1.5oz 30x remedies, 999,999 of them will contain nothing but distilled water, and one will contain a single molecule of the active ingredient. So what do you tell the 999,999 people who paid $100 for a vial of water?

      Well, that water has memory right? I mean, Dr. Masaru Emoto did a “scientific study” where he placed certain images and words near vials of water, froze them, took photos of the crystals, and the crystals near the Hitler photo looked ugly while the crystals near the Love card were beautiful. Right? How quaint. And the (disgraced) Jacques Beneviste did a study in 1988 that proved it too, right? So it doesn’t matter if the active ingredient is STILL THERE, because the water will remember it and still provide therapeutic effects?

      Well, no, because of Confirmation Bias and the Scientific Method, only one of which played a role in each of the aforementioned “studies.”
      Confirmation bias basically says that people find what they’re looking for, and the Scientific Method (along with double-blind peer-reviewed reproducible studies) was devised to help us mitigate the impacts of that bias. The fact is, there has never been a single credible study proving the existence of the water memory phenomenon that could be reproduced by an uninterested party in a double-blind experiment. None. That means water memory is not supported by credible science, and anybody who makes money by claiming otherwise is full of shit. Any high school chem student studying weak molecular bonds can tell you that.

      If homeopathy were based in science and water memory was real, then what about purple-pipe wastewater treatment plants that take whatever comes out of your ass and makes it potable? According to the “Law of Similars,” if you drank someone’s diarrhea, got extremely sick (and you would), took that diarrhea and ran it through a treatment plant until it was certified safe for human consumption, then you would be able to cure your symptoms simply by drinking the treated water. Eat shit, treat it, drink distilled water, be free of the symptoms associated with fecal coliform bacteria. No, it just doesn’t make any sense, although you’re welcome to try.

      It’s easy to want to find alternatives to the pharmaceutical industrial complex that has a stranglehold on the American public. I personally believe there’s a conspiracy between Big Corn, the USDA, the FDA, and Big Pharm to get people fat on cheap processed food and then collect on their Type 2 diabetes treatment. Fine, the system is broken. But that doesn’t mean that ANY alternative is viable. Acupuncture is scientifically proven to treat symptoms, eating organic food DOES shield the body from pesticides, cannabis is a viable treatment for glaucome and nausea, and a stress-free lifestyle with a healthy diet and exercise do far more than a series of pharmaceuticals will if you live an unhealthy and sedentary life. We are learning more about energy channels in the human body that are real and consequential. I agree with all that, but that’s not to say that you can beat the system by running to any “alternative medicine” peddler whose business model relies on scared, ignorant people trusting their claims.

      Homeopathic practitioners make loot off of scared people who don’t trust western medicine or the government, but those people need to educate themselves on which alternative treatments are supported by science. “But the government blocks out science that supports homeopathy!” Read David Hess’s Alternative Pathways in Science and Industry – yes, science is funded by powerful interests most of the time, but then, why does Chinese medicine have a few credible studies confirming it as a credible alternative to pharmaceuticals? Same question goes for a healthy lifestyle and preventive care. “A few good men” DO fund science that runs against the status quo – it’s just harder to find that funding.

      So, where do we go from here? Well, the incidence of psychosomatic disorders is real and powerful, and belief can influence physical status. That’s why faith healing works, empirically, for the terminally ill. It’s why people like Patch Adams get paid to lift spirits in hospitals. In a word, placebos work! My issue is when the placebo dealer claims their distilled water is actually medicine.

      To conclude, there is no scientific basis for homeopathy, though the belief it works can have real impacts on patients. Maybe the whole arm-waving card-dealing ceremonial testing rigamarole is what some people need to bridge the gap to placebo efficacy, and maybe lying to patients is necessary to maintain that belief, but I find it dishonest to take someone’s money and keep them in the dark with pseudoscience. If you’re a homeopathic practitioner, just tell it like it is – this is a 200 year old lie designed to make money and address psychosomatic anxiety.

      Any questions?

      1. Trevor, if I had heroes you would be one of them! Thank you.

      2. Hmm, I guess homeopathy’s effect on my dog’s aural hematoma is my imagination, in that she still has the condition and my belief in homeopathy is making me too blind to see that her ear is still puffed up like a grapefruit. Surely it couldn’t be due to the placebo effect as there is no such thing (as least not documented) for animals.

        1. Glad your doggy is feeling better! It always breaks my heart when pets are suffering.

          Your story is a compelling anecdote, but it doesn’t prove a causal relationship, and it doesn’t change the mathematics of chemistry.

          I believe that you treated your dog, and that she recovered. Great! The only part you’re imagining is that her recovery was due to a biological mechanism caused by homeopathy. There are too many variables to determine causality from one instance, and besides, most hematomas heal in a few days to weeks naturally.

          As for the “no placebo effect in dogs”…quite the contrary. The placebo effect is caused by classical conditioning, a learning process that Ivan Pavlov first helped us understand through his famous dog/bell/drool experiments! Sure enough, peer-reviewed published studies continue to explore this phenomenon today: https://thebark.com/content/dogs-and-placebo-effect

          Dogs are beautiful, complex, self-aware beings, as you know, so you also can’t rule out the possibility that your pup was aware that you were caring for her.

  3. Despite how silly the concept is, researchers tend to get strong results when studying homoepathy. You shouldn’t discount it just because it doesn’t seem logical. The placebo effect doesn’t really make sense to me but I can’t deny that it happens.

  4. There is another effect than the placebo effect: “search and you shill find”. Maybe the illness would have gone away anyway. An insect bite doesn’t last more than a day or two without treatment, but if a homeopathic ointment is used, the curing can be seen as an effect of the “treatment”. Man want to find cause-effect relationships, our brain is built that way.

    I say “bullshit” to homeopathy, but not too loudly; both my mother-in-law and my husband are believers… Homeopathy is big in France (and Germany, I think).

  5. Richard,

    I don’t get that you were sarcastic at all. No need to apologize.

    I love these numbers games…and that’s certainly what homeopathy is all about. The cases you cite are a little off topic: 1) the article on male fish/estrogen actually suggests that 1 ppt in water will equate to many parts per billion up the food chain. That would be 10,000 or more parts per billion inthe actual fish, 2) We all know how reactionary California is. The EPA allows aresenic at 10 parts per billion (which equals 10,000 parts per trillion) of arsenic which is a naturally occurring metal. 3) Didn’t get that third reference, BUT…

    I sold the audience short on these numbers because I wanted to suggest figures people are familiar with. In fact, almost no homeopathic remedies are in such “high” doses as one part per trillion. Most are so dilute, that your chances of getting even one molecule of the active ingredient are worse than one in a billion. That means thatyou’d have to buy a billion doses and take them all to assure yourself you’d get one molecule of active ingredient. Like putting a drop into the Pacifc Ocean in Japan, flying LA and hoping to find some of that drop in the Los Angeles Pacific Ocean water. Ain’t gonna happen.

    There is no question that this is bunk. We do understand that homeopathy can’t possibly work – except as a placebo…but we do also know that placebos do work an appreciable percentage of the time. Pelikan is correct in that most ailments for which homeopathic remedies are sold go away in time anyway (jet lag, colds and flu, sleeplessness, headaches, etc).

    Crystal, the confusion you experience is common, which is why I wrote this piece.

    Thanks all.

  6. I assume then that the research currently being done involving peanut allergy and giving those who react to peanuts minute/trace amounts of the nut and then gradually increasing it is not considered homeopathy? I don’t have any reference to link to, but I saw a news story about this. Now if only they can do this for the things my ds is allergic to, though they aren’t life threatening so I have little hope.

  7. I wonder if this works for music. If I listen to one country song out of every billion rock songs I listen to, will I eventually stop wearing a cowboy hat?

  8. Nancy,t hat is absolutely NOT homeopathy.

    McFly, only if you want to stop wearing a cowboy hat. In this case a “beret” is considered a placebo. Try it. We still may have to do an intervention.

  9. I really don’t understand all the fuss about homeopathy.

    If its Rx are only diluted solutions, how is it going to hurt anyone? Why do we need a campaign to remove it from society? If you don’t like it, go elsewhere for treatments. There’s enough warnings around to make people wary about depending any alternative therapies in general. So, why focus on homeopathy?

    However way you want to look at, homeopathy is still quite popular from England to Argentina.

    1. all the FUSS is about the fact that companies charge 15, 20, 30 dollars and up for a 2oz vial of WATER. a 1oz bottle of LACTOSE. these are the modern day “snake oil salesmen”. they are charging ungodly amounts of money for NOTHIING. complete and total ripoffs. and maybe they sell someone something that claims to “cure” something, when that patient should go to an actual doctor!!! if you are cool with paying 20 bucks for a 1oz vial of water, i guess thats your prerogative. UGH

  10. The argument against Homoeopathy itself appears to be silly. Do you think lakhs and lakhs of people across the globe are fools and stake their lives to please Homoeopaths ? Not at all . If somebody can not understand the Homoeopathic theory and philosophy , if some one fails to see the truth how Homoeopathy has actually cured a host of conditions including those requiring surgery it is not the problem with the system or the patients. By saying that even the cured patients had blind faith in the placebo – then it just questioning their intellectual capability and honesty to decide what is good for them. We need not get advise from MNC pharma companies to tell us what is good for us.

    1. at least big pharma actually sells SOMETHING. if you are ok with paying 20 bucks for a 1oz vial of sugar pills, then be my guest. theres a sucker born every minute as they say.

  11. Ann and Wagle,

    The diluted solutions certainly aren’t going to hurt anyone. What hurts people is when they ignore effective medical cures for a homeopathic alternative (i.e. mom gives kid homeopathic medicine to treat leukemia, kid dies). Wagle, you bring up a good point that Big Pharma isn’t always out to tell us what is good for us. In fact, often it is in their best interest to keep us sick in order to keep selling us medicine. However, this is the EXACT same case for companies producing homeopathic medicines, they are just as money driven as big pharma (prove me wrong?).

    And I would argue that popularity is never a good benchmark for accurate science.

  12. Number 1 misbelieve about homeopathy is it heals diseases.
    It never heals any disease or symptoms rather it creates aggravation.

    I had night false problem 10 years back( my semen used to fall once or twice in a week at night)
    When I took homeopathy medicine and it aggravated and became 6-7 days in a week and soon I became impotent.
    The homeopath gave different medicine like nux Acid phos and some other ,
    I remained impotent for 4-5 years this is nothing but aggravation.
    One day I bought a homeopathy book and found that I felt the symptoms exactly written in the book so I Believe that time Homeopathy) aggravates the symptoms that it meant for
    then i got an idea if i take any medicine which is forbidden in night false that would work.
    The book gave indication should not take a medicine(I am not writing the name) if you have night false problem.
    I was suffering fr 4-5 years and also I became impotent so I had nothing to lose so I took the medicine and it stopped my night false I was sure that homeopathy only causes aggravation
    (if you do not believe take Acid Phos or Nux 30 or 200 or 1M and see the result)
    (I got the idea One day I had diarrhea I took a homeo medicine which homeopaths use for constipation and that stopped my diarrhea it is nothing but aggravation )
    Then I thought homeopathy only increases diseases so i was sure if i take that medicine it will stop night false. and that’s what happened.

    Acid Phos caused problem with my memory made me weak so also Nux and other homeopathy medicine.
    If you take Rhus Tox it will cause rheumatic pain if you already have Pain situation will be worse after taking Homeo medicine Rhus tox. Similarly if you take homeo Graphitis it will cause Skin problem if you already have skin problem we will have more problems.
    Homeo medicine has nothing to with the patients conditions. It creates those problem in reality which homeopaths think cures. Bull sheet idea .
    My method is opposite of homeopathy (against the homeopathy)and it worked.
    I start taking homeo medicine Which I thought its aggravation may increase the retentive power of my semen
    I found some medicine whose aggravation increases and some medicine whose aggravation decreases sexual intention
    After trying for six years I found one medicine whose aggravation increases Male semen retentive Power(I can challenge any one )
    After taking Acid phos , Nux ,Selenium prescribed by homeopaths
    If I go to masturbate my semen would fall within one minute and this situation remain for 4-5 years.
    So I after suffering for 4-5 years from homeo aggravation using my method I got one homeo medicine whose aggravation stopped my night false problem but the impotency problem remained so I was trying to find medicine whose aggravation can increase retentive power and cure my impotence.
    Finally using my intuition I got one medicine whose aggravation allowed me to masturbate for 30 minutes it is nothing but aggravation because I found all the other aggravating symptoms of the medicine.
    From one minute to 30 minute.I tested the aggravation several times and found the medicine’s aggravation really increases retentive power to hold the semen.
    Homeo medicine are very powerful but unfortunately they all increase problem and bring new problem

    All the medicines that Homeopaths use(Like Nux ,Acid Phos, Conium Titanium all are very bad and makes any Male impotent(does not matter what condition when you take the medicine

    I can prove it.
    I know it is very hard to make people believe what I wrote. But if you ever took homeo medicine and found aggravation or heard about it you should believe

    If you are a homeopath take this challenge take a dose of Acid phos 1M
    Then see what happens as you believe homeopathy medicine has no side effect you should
    accept that challenge and also try Nux 30.
    As you believe that Nux cures most of the problems so even if any problem happen Nux should cure(actually I challenge it will only aggravate the symptoms)

    If you are not a homeopath do not take this challenge.
    There are people who believe that it is placebo effect so it is nothing but plain water or sugar pill.
    It is not it is a danger and it creates illusion never cures any symptom or decease.

    If you say that medicine caused aggravation they will say actually it is healing it was hidden in the body but now it is coming out.

    Suppose if one medicine is used for weakness loss of memory etc so when aggravation comes according to homeopaths those were hidden in the body! just bullshit.

    Some homeopaths say low potency cause aggravation because the observe it so when aggravation comes they give more dilution or higher potency and eventually creates more aggravation.

    Some homeopaths gives lower potency of the same medicine when there is aggravation with the higher potency(But they believe lower potency cause aggravation).

    Some homeopaths believe that higher potency can cause aggravation so if a patient
    reports aggravation they put the medicine in water and take little amount.they believe it will stop the aggravation (but homeopathy says if you dilute any medicine in water its potency increases and also thats how they increase potency so the conclusion is that if you have aggravation with a higher potency give more higher potency another bullshit!ys

    One homeopath in abchomeopathy.com says
    if you find aggravation put one peal in one glass of water take little amount if it does not stop aggravation
    take one spoon of this water to fresh one glass of water take like one spoon of the medicine water continue the process upto 24 glasses is there anything more bullshit in the world than this?

    Lastly homeopaths talk about psychological aspect to match medicine.
    But Acid Phos will cause Loss of memory , weakness debility if one million average people take it (homeopaths call it healthy people) the same symtomps will appear thats what they get when they prove any medicine so why they talk about psychology? another bullshit

    Thank you and have a nice day

  13. Excellent piece! (Criticizing homeopathy got me kicked out of naturopathy college.)

    Just look at the research. When the patient and doctor both know who’s getting what, homeopathy works. When the doctor (but not the patient) knows, homeopathy works. When it’s subjected to double-blind tests, it fails.

  14. Homeopathy was started around the same time medicine was still using leeches! There were no anesthetics or antibiotics, let alone modern sanitation. At that time medicine may have hurt just as many people as it helped. In this setting, a new form of treatment, homeopathy, was born and thrived. It is likely that neither form of treatment helped much, but at least homeopathy didn’t hurt people.

    Fast forward 200 years and we’ve learned a lot about mechanisms of many diseases, as well as defense and treatment of them. No one (with a clear head) would discount that a myriad of advances have been made in modern medicine. That homeopathy is still around, much less thriving is baffling to me.

    Thanks, Mark for bringing this to everyone’s attention. I have to run now to put some water in my gas tank to make my fuel more potent.

    1. I’m not really advocating homeopathy here, but leeches are starting to be used again from time to time even in modern medicine. Just not very often and in REALLY specific cases.

  15. There are well documented cases of cures through homeopathy where “modern medicine” has failed constantly.

    Kevin Kane: the notion that we have made incredible advancements in medicine is largely hogwash. Yes, we sterilize today… and yes, we certainly do make a pile more cash, but do we solve any more than we did fifty years ago?

    Craproo to you… hogwash.


    I would rather try homeopathy than go to an allopath. Surgery, surgery, surgery… and so on.

    all hogwash…

    1. You are delusional 😀
      Is there a homeopathic cure for that? Datura?

    2. Youre right pal everything is the same as it was 200 years ago! I still see my Doctor Barber for surgery once a month.

      I am sure everyone of you has a family member living today ONLY thanks to “allopathy”

  16. homeopathy is absolute bullshit

    Why? “The more you distill the remedy, the stronger it gets”

    That is their mantra, and they believe in vibrations of plants and the spirit of the plant getting into the water.

    All you’re drinking is alcohol and sulfites, it’s potential lethal.

  17. Hi Mark

    When you wrote “Just look at the research. When the patient and doctor both know who’s getting what, homeopathy works. When the doctor (but not the patient) knows, homeopathy works. When it’s subjected to double-blind tests, it fails.” you summed up the whole argument.

    Homeopathy doesn’t work. But the therapist-client liaison may work, and suggestion may work.

    My complaint is against therapists who use smoke and mirrors in treatment instead of proven strategies.

    When we use proven strategies within a good therapist-client liaison, the outcomes are much better. Why settle for snake oil?

    And I’d really like to debunk the whole testimonial thing. For example, there are people who have used hynosis to give up smoking and it’s worked for them. However studies show that this rate is actually less than 1%, about the same rate as people who try to give up smoking just by willpower.

    Really enjoyed this thread.
    Christine Sutherland

  18. Of course you’ve heard about the patient who forgot to take his homeopathic medicine and died of an overdose?

  19. ZACH# May 30th, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    “Of course you’ve heard about the patient who forgot to take his homeopathic medicine and died of an overdose?”

    BWAHAHAHAHAHA!! Good’un, Zach! 😀

  20. How do you respond to products like Native Remedies, http://www.nativeremedies.com
    They provide much research and references to back up their products. I personally used one for my son and even the teacher at school noticed a difference. Take a look. I’d love to hear WHY it won’t work and how you fault all the findings they cite.
    Also, what about allergy shots? That is the philosophy behind those and those made a remarkable difference in my life. I went from using my inhaler several times daily (allergen and exercise induced asthma)to not even having an inhaler. It took about a year for the shots to have that effect, but I stopped about 6 months later and I still don’t have to have an inhaler and it’s been 10 years since I’ve taken any shots.

    1. native remedies sells herbal medicines. herbal medicines actually have HERBS IN THEM!! homeopathy is WATER AND SUGAR PILLS. sorry, but its true.

  21. The Principle of Homeopathy: the less substantive a theory, the greater its predictive power.

  22. My 3 year old girl’s glue ear got treated successfully only through homeopathy after our NHS GP gave up.

    Placebo? On a three year old girl? Yeah, right.

    Mark, sorry but in this article you sounded precisely like those nutritionists who claim grains are good.

    You want to win arguments? Sure, go ahead. I know who I’ll call next time my girl has glue ear again.

  23. Sorry to disappoint, PB, but the “homeopathic” treatments for ear glue that actually work are at 6X, a dilution that still has a small amount of the original herbal still left in it. True homeopathy would be at a 60X solution. Trouble is, they don’t work at this dilution. Homeopathic believers had to lower their dilutions in order to pass double-blind studies. Your daughter benefited from herbal medicine, not homeopathy.

  24. Ailu: it’s not anywhere near so personal as you received that. You are not your point. 🙂

    Also, why wouldn’t placebos work on a person who believes nigh anything their parent tells them? It stands to reason it’d have more of an effect than normal.

  25. MacDog, based on the context, I’m thinking your comments may have been directed at PB and not me. Correct me if I am wrong.

    PB, my goal is not to win, but to share information on an issue that might not have taken into consideration. Sorry if I offended you in the process, that was not my intention. I will work to frame my posts in a kinder way.

    1. you were stating facts. if someone cant handle that, then screw em. i mean, really. he was just plain wrong. and then it gets all personal. o please already. he thought he was using homeopathy, when he was actually using herbal medicine. which is legit. you pointed that out. then he gets all defensive. i feel for his kid.

  26. As for “It worked for the cousin of a friend of a coworker of my aunt” stories, remember one principle: The plural of anecdote is not data.

  27. This is one thread that never stops giving 🙂

    In a world where I see pharmaceuticals introduced that barely exceed the effectiveness of a placebo, and I see all the naysayers lined up against unconventional medicing, I am left wondering why?

    I suspect it’s the lack of “millions of dollars of research” and white clothing.

    In my personal experience, everything is as effective as you believe it to be. I don’t have the study to reference, but there was a good one comparison on knee surgery – where there were three groups – two types of invasive surgery, one who received the cut and no surgery. They were equally effective – including the folks who had no surgery at all, but believed that they had surgery. I find that pretty fascinating in this argument about the 60x dosages.

    It’s a dangerous game, and it goes far beyond the conversation of homeopathy vs allopathy.

    I still don’t think that you did this one justice Mark… unless you were just aiming to stir the pot, which you may well have been doing 😉

    Peace all.

    1. Agree: whether or not homeopathy is more than placebo is hardly the most pressing question.

      Mark said it does no harm unless it prevents someone from otherwise getting proper treatment. On the flip side, it may help far more people who take this (at worst) harmless placebo instead of positively harmful drugs. How many doctors routinely prescribe antibiotics for ailments which would get better themselves? What about the myriad studies on vaccinations being ineffective and dangerous? What about the anti-depressants which have effects not measurably better than placebo but with massive side effects and even increased risk of suicide, which are routinely prescribed by doctors? In all these cases people may be better off with homeopathy even if it’s a placebo.

      The focus should be on discrediting the big pharma products that are positively harmful. More of that would greatly welcome.

  28. Clinton,

    “I don’t have the study to reference, but there was a good one comparison on knee surgery – where there were three groups – two types of invasive surgery, one who received the cut and no surgery. They were equally effective – including the folks who had no surgery at all, but believed that they had surgery”

    This kind of thing happens all the time in conventional medicine. The point is though that if the result holds up then conventional medicine stops doing this type of surgery. Homeopaths on the other hand keep right on going.

  29. Well, if only that were true, then the entire “conventional medical system” would be largely out of business, but it isn’t.

    It’s a business, big business.

    And you can rest assured – despite the fact that the surgery was useless, it has not slowed the number of invasive knee surgeries… full speed ahead.

    And they make the homeopaths look like a bunch of rookies, if we look at the dollars paid versus success.

    Horrible, but true.

    1. Homeopathy is BIG business, with obscene profits margins!

      This is true, and unlike your mystery knee-surgery anecdote, a credible source may be found with a simple google search: Search for homeopathy 20 million dollar duck.

      And Clinton, you should have every right to drink sun tea instead of Benadryl if you want to, but when people like you go into the public square with these deliberately misleading and unfounded claims, the harmless sun tea becomes proverbial Kool-Aid and encouraging others to drink it makes you in part responsible for their deaths.

      Keep on trucking though.

  30. did you hear about the homeopath who forgot to take his medicine?

    he died of an overdose

  31. While I tend to have similar believes that the “medicinal ingredients” in homeopathy pills are pretty much useless,

    whats fascinating is that the placebo effect is getting stronger in humans all the time and if homeopathy somehow elicits this response then why the hell not?

    1. This is what I’m thinking too FitJerks.
      Example; I had both my two old root canal’d teeth taken out over an 8 month period (2011/2012).

      The first was a big gnarly molar that had never been right. I blame me for living so seriously full-on it needed to be done in the first place, not doing enough research on root canals, and the cretinous old dentist for missing an entire rotted canal.

      I digress.
      When it was out I mislaid my homeopathic treatment instructions and only took a couple of drops. I had all sorts of dramas like bleeding a fair bit more than I expected, clot leaving, potential dry socket etc., but essentially better out than in, no question.
      I had the other out recently, within the last month and it was so sweet. So to speak. I took the drops religiously as directed and I was eating ‘normally’ on the other side of my mouth within two or three days. There was no extra bleeding, the clot formed and stayed in place, no dramas whatsoever.

      Now, this could be a couple of things; the tooth was smaller- a single canal as opposed to three; could have been knowing what to expect (I was very nervous this second time); could have been the homeopathic drops reducing swelling and bruising; I never believed nor disbelieved homeopathy either way, but the second tooth was a non-event with no swelling or pain, which does make me wonder.

      I’ll definitely take homeopathic drops again, (Arnica) except I won’t be having any more root canals extracted because I eat primally… Shame I didn’t know about primal in my misspent youth. What a blast though.

  32. Agreed! Who cares WHAT it is if it works… it’s seriously arrogant to say that we ‘know’, when there is yet so much to be uncovered.

  33. Well said. This nonsense and the uneducated fools who “practise” it are a danger to public health.

    Quacks : you’ve had 200 years, you haven’t provided a shred of evidence and everything we know about the world suggests homeopathy can’t work. Let it go. Do something useful and honest with your life.

  34. Being that I’m going into Naturopathic Medicine, I will have to learn homeopathy as part of the curriculum. I don’t really think it works, but maybe that placebo effect is what is needed sometimes. No matter though, Naturopaths are taught a multitude of treatment options that DO work (and lots of them are grounded in scientific evidence). I will just grin and bear it when it comes time to taking the homeopathy courses.


  35. “Six parts per trillion estrogen added to a lake was enough to cause Male fish to grow Female tissue.”

    What you have to realise is that this is trillions of trillions of trillions times more concentrated than homeopathic remedies. What you have there is about an 4C concentration. Typical remedies of 30C are 1 part in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Or, to put it in other terms, less than 1 part per every atom in the known universe.

    That’s straight up bullshit.

  36. Oh, I’m so glad you did this one, even if I’m 3 years late. I strongly believe in herbal medicine before allopathic, and prevention via diet, sunshine, and exercise before all of it – but homeopathy? Meh. Never bought it.

  37. The placebo effect is used so much today and does seem to work for lots of people. The mind is a wonderful thing when it comes to healing the body.

  38. I saw a TED talk where the presenter took an entire bottle of this homeopathic sleeping medicine. He’s been doing that act for hundreds of talks and nothing has ever happened.

  39. There is no such thing as alternative medicine. There is only medicine.

    Something either works or it does not. I tend to place my chips with those medicines that are proven via scientific method. However, if placebos work for some people, then they can be called medicine.

    If dancing around a fire and singing songs makes someone feel better then good for them.

    If placing needles in some un-quantifiable and ambiguous “energy centers” works for someone despite the fact that the “practitioners” cant agree if there are 6,7,8 or 9 “energy centers,” then good for them .

    If drinking saline solution with a couple of molecules of caffeine in it works for someone, then call it Homeopathy and let people spend all their money and fell better.

    If taking a sugar pill helps a patient think they feel better, then good for them.

    But for me, research and data trumps word of mouth every time. But that is just me. I just dont want someone to go to an early grave thinking they are doing something for their illness when they are not. There should be some kind of up front statement that the above “treatments” are not scientifically proven to work and the evidence shows that they may not do anything at all.

  40. I don’t want to tell anyone how to run their website but I am strongly advising that you reconsider your position on homeopathy or you will lose credibility with progressive free thinkers who take their understanding of health serious and unravel the mysteries of healing. I have witnessed the power of homeopathy that couldn’t possibly had any placebo effect. I just started to read your book and so far I find what you say to be excellent but to find your position on homeopathy incorrect is a big let down and now I am forced to read with hesitancy. I am not in any way associated with any institution or company related to homeopathy just a scholar of life.
    Take a look at the book Virtual Medicine by Scott Mumby, this book will fascinate any scholarly individual.

    1. I wouldn’t call his position on Homeopathy “incorrect”. I would maybe say that Mark may be “a little close-minded” on this one particular topic. I am a naturopathic med-student and I personally am a little torn on this topic. The bottom line is that the human immune system is the one system in the body that we have soooo much to learn about still (not that there isn’t still much work to do on the other body systems). Making a definitive statement about whether something works or not that interacts mainly with this system of which much is yet to be discovered is getting ahead of one’s self in my opinion. Mark does not claim to know everything and he is certainly entitled to his opinion. To everyone else, you should keep an open mind and accept and understand that we do not know everything about the human body yet (and never will) and that it is possible that things may work in ways that we do not yet understand.

  41. If someone believes in homeopathy, there seems little hope to use reason in a short burst to get them unstuck.

    Blogs like this are still useful to inoculate the public from pseudoscientific claims.

  42. This is what’s wrong with homeopathy.


    Really, people? It’s nothing about the homeopathy that harms (unless you think that essentially drinking a glass of water is harmful)–it’s about the misguidance and lack of action that harms. People think that all they need is homeopathy to cure, and when they soley rely on homeopathy, and not researched based, clinical trial, proven modern medicine, that’s when people get hurt or in many cases die.

  43. This post was absolutely rediculous. Do you not see the irony here? People are saying that because of the lack of scientific PROOF it cannot be valid. That loads of anecdotal evidence is worthless. Well how do you think we all ended up finding this “primal” or “paleo” thing to begin with? By hearing about from other people, hearing that it worked for them. ANECDOTE! I have had great results from homeopathy, even at times when I truly didn’t expect to. My dog has also had DRAMATIC chages in her behavior after taking a constitutional remedy. How could a DOG have a placebo affect??? You guys could learn to open your minds and recognize that we don’t know everything there is to know about human beings. Shouldn’t our experience with diet have taught us not to assume that ideas we aren’t familiar with are not necessarily false? Or at the very least, show a little respect to your fellow human beings who have been helped by homeopathy.

  44. Homeopathy is not about “how much stuff is in the water”. It is not chemistry based, it is physics based. Water is not “shaken”, it is agitated to the various degrees (D4, D12, C300, etc) until it gains the same vibration as the chemical component.
    Yes, the final result IS JUST WATER. But this water is vibrating like say… Arsenicum. What happens to a person who takes, for instance the homeopatic remedy of Arsenicum Album? Arsenicum is a poison. Throughout life we get exposed to Arsenicum (second hand smoking for instance) ehich is absorbed by the body. The body gets rid of Arsenicum over time, but this takes time. When a person takes the HOmeopathic edicine of Arsenicum Album, he is not ingesting Arsenicum, he is ingesting just water. But this water molecules are vibrating like Arsenicum. This triggers the body´s response for elimination of Arsenicum and it gest right to it. So, the natural mechanism of clearing up toxins is triggered for the elimination of a specific toxin that is then eliminated more rapidly.
    The same happens if a person takes a Homeopatic Fly vaccine. It triggers the defenses agains the Flu virus.
    We have no problem in doing this with chemistry based vaccines, but we have a problem with physics based vaccines = Homeopathy because somehow Matter seems more reliable to us than electromagnetic energy.
    Except that noone gets poisoned by Homeopathic vaccines, because they only carry the energetic information of the virus in JUst Water, instead of actual dead or weakened viruses in a poisonous chemical solution like regular vaccines.

    1. Thanks for that reply, Helga. I have experienced incredible relief from bladder infections thanks to homeopathy. I was a true skeptic when I first tried it, but after seeing my own results and that of my little ones, I have no doubt that it works.

      As far as effectiveness from dilution goes, I’m pretty sure that bleach won’t affect mold unless diluted to at least 10 to 1 dilution. It doesn’t make sense, but it works.

      I don’t mind your opinion, Mark. But if I had listened to you when you wrote this, I would still be experiencing debilitating UTI’S. I hope your other readers will keep a more open mind.

  45. You blame the placebo effect for the PROVEN results. The FDA approved of homeopathy after a large scale study in the 80s on rats. It was shown that significant effects on them occurred. I personally was doubtful until I tried homeopathy on my dog for his adverse reactions whenever he got vaccinated, I tried a remedy called thuja, for the firs time in 10 years he didn’t get any reaction. Placebo effect my ass

  46. So glad you haven’t fudged on the analysis of homeopathy.
    Loved it when a group of Oxford students deliberately publicly overdosed on homeopathic medicines.
    Funnily enough they all survived perfectly illustrating the point you make that these preparations contain “officially nothing”!

  47. If homeopathy is just blind “faith and placebo” – please could you explain why arsenic has an adverse impact on people when present in drinking water at a homeopathic dilution with the American EPA now recommending a reduction in these arsenic level in drinking water and why breast cancer and endocrine disruption occurs when glyphosate is present at a level of 1 part per Trillion?


    1. It’s very simple, the concentrations you’re talking about are NOT “homeopathic dilution”. 1 part per trillion is about equivalent to 5C. For a sense of scale, 30C is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times more diluted, or to put it in layman’s terms, diluted to the point where it is literally impossible for any of the arsenic or glyphosate to still remain. Once you get past 12C it isn’t possible for any of the original substance to remain and so it can only be placebo.

  48. Go watch “Homeopathy: The Test” or read the results published: after rigorous scientific testing homeopathy has been disproven.

  49. I’ve seen homeopathy work over and over and over… on myself and others. Over the years I have used on myself to stop a heart attack in progress, dissolve kidney stones, balance my blood pressure, arrest a cold, clear up eczema, clear up UTI’s… the list goes on. With homeopathy, unless you get the right remedies at the right dilutions, you may not get your desired results. This is why it is important to see a good homeopath or naturopath, and not just go get something off the shelf at the health food store. To say something doesn’t work because you do not fully understand it, are not properly educated about it, or have not experienced it for yourself is like a virgin saying intercourse would never feel good.

    1. O.K,

      Well explain this to me: I have a friend who is an “experienced” homeopath, who has given me remedies over the years for various things. I could not one time attest to their effectiveness in treating the symptoms being treated.
      Before I decided that homeopathy was complete b.s, I’d seen several other homeopaths–one of whom was also an “allopathic” Dr. Not one time–and I mean NOT ONE TIME, did the homeopathic “remedy” actually do anything to relieve me of the symptoms I was experiencing, and these we’re all “trained” homeopaths.
      Homeopaths love to say, “the effects are subtle.” So subtle I didn’t notice any improvement whatsoever in the symptoms I took the remedy for? It either works and relieves the symptoms it’s supposed to relieve–or it doesn’t. This whole “it’s subtle” rational is just pure nonsense.
      Most likely, I’m just to skeptical for the “placebo” affect to kick in.
      Anecdotal evidence can go both ways.

  50. Seriously, I am so frustrated with my arthitic aunt whose Homeopathic doc is having her “infuse” water with the energy of different plants by…and I’m not even kidding you…..writing the name of the plant on a piece of paper and then swishing it around in a glass of water, then drinking it……yea….so that’s not even the 1 per trillions of parts….that just straight up printer paper in tap water. But that’s not even the worst part! This doctor has convince my aunt that she should NOT try any other forms of treatment!!!!! Can you F***kin believe it?! I’ve tried to talk to her, but this guy has her wrapped around his finger.

  51. Since we are only allowed one reply, I will use this space to reply to Trevor’s comment. Aural hematomas do not normally resolve in a few days. They take several weeks, usually three or so. Just because conventional medicine, which claims to be science based when its not, can’t explain it, does not make it junk. Rather than claiming I do not know what I am talking about (I am a doctor), how about acknowledging that perhaps these
    people who use homeopathy with success have found what works for them and leave it at that. I do think at some point, researchers in quantum physics who understand physiology will find scientific explanations that make homeopathy possible.

  52. The mind is a very powerful tool in healing the body, as any Christian Scientist or Voodoo believer will tell you. And that’s all that’s happening in the case of homeopathy. Blind faith. And maybe there’s nothing wrong with that, except that it takes the focus away from the cause of your affliction.

    lets not forget the fact that it also takes away from your wallet. anyone who would sell someone a 2oz bottle of water for 25 dollars, and claim it will heal them, should be in prison for fraud. but then anyone who would buy a 2oz bottle of water for 25 dollars, maybe deserves to be taken? i dont know. i DO know that homeopathy is horseshit. that i know. see the 10:23 movement for more evidence of said horseshittery. taking HANDFULS of various homeopathic pills and liquids to prove they do nothing. i mean handfuls. and, ya, no one died of overdose. nor was anyone “cured” of anything.

  53. I recently met someone who was cured of leukaemia through homeopathy having been given 3 – 6 months to live. He did not have any other treatment and 30 years later, is in good health.

    I personally have had mixed results with homeopathy. I have found it to mostly work well with acute complaints but have never been able to get help through homeopathy with more emotional/mental issues that it is deemed to address.

    However, following some recent health issues, I decided to give it another shot and particularly chose to go to a homeopath whose reputation was known to me. The remedy I was given, based on the totality of my symptoms physical, mental, emotional, was one that has only been in existence for around 18 years – perhaps this explains my lack of success with constitutional homeopathy in the past.

    I spent 2 hours with the homeopath in that initial consultation. I believe the remedy is the right one because of my body’s response to it thus far. There is no doubt in my mind that practising homeopathy requires a lot of skill.

    I believe firmly in the placebo effect. However, given that I have had mixed results with homeopathy over the years, I do not believe I am particularly susceptible to it. It is also known that babies and animals respond to a remedy that has been correctly prescribed. And therein lies the rub. Remedies simply won’t effect any change if they are not the correct remedy.

    In the UK, homeopathic remedies are cheap. The remedy I was given recently was included in the price of my consultation which I have to say was also reasonably priced.

    I believe that homeopathy works and it comes down to the ability of the practitioner to find the remedy that exactly fits the totality of the patient’s expression. I also believe that we have not yet found a way of proving it in a way that satisfies current scientlfic demands.

  54. Homeopathy was/is the only treatment that I found resolves my son’s seasonal eczema. And what is NIST interesting is a dose given before the season change is preventative compared to a course given after. Whether you believe in it or not, what an impressive placebo

  55. “Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.”

    You are creating “facts” of which you are ill-informed and certainly unskilled. Could we, as a society, finally be rid of misinformation wherein “experts,” with no expertise set themselves up as knowledgeable? Further, of what are you so afraid that you need to “warn” people about which, again, you know nothing? Comparing religion and homeopathy may possibly show the root of your fear. If something does not work for you personally, which I doubt you would know, then abandon it for something which does. Disparaging a practice which has helped millions merely proves your significant ignorance.

  56. I feel sorry for you Mark Sisson because you have obviously decided against Homeopathic medicine without much research. There are plenty of trials and research done on various remedies, especially lately. Before, you can see from history how much better Homeopathic doctors did in plagues than the regular meds of the time. If you used the remedies, especially for your pets who can’t talk, you would see that if you select the wrong remedy it won’t help but if you get the right one you can perform near miracles. If the pets got better just because you give them attention and intention they would always get better, not just when you found the right remedy. My very old kitty was pronounced as not having much life left and regular meds didn’t help. When I finally figured out to use Arsenicum she lived a good life for years with only another dose every few months when she’d get down a little. The worst thing is you are talking others out of trying a medicine that could really help people, not just cover up symptoms like “regular“ medicine. Please reconsider trying a good Homeopath for any acute or chronic physical and mental problems.