It is amazing that so many skeptics are so misinformed about homeopathy, and it is ironic (to be diplomatic) that these skeptics hold themselves out as “defenders of science,” while being embarrassingly ignorant of the “body of evidence” that verifies the efficacy of homeopathic medicines and the biological activity of its doses. (Dana Ullman, MPH)
Ask any skeptic of homeopathic medicine what they know about homeopathy and they will tell you that they are sugar pills with some substance that is so diluted that there is nothing left of it. Therefore it can’t work. Therefore it has to be placebo when it does work.
Why do highly educated physicians, with many years of training (including medical, naturopathic, and osteopathic physicians), use homeopathy in clinical practice? What is their motivation? It is not exactly a money making business we are talking about here. And I promise, it has nothing to do with a spiritual practice or a belief system either. As you will read below, homeopathy requires a very systematic approach in order to determine the right remedy (a homeopathic medicine).
Was it placebo that cured patients who were treated with homeopathic remedies during pandemics (typhus fever, cholera, influenza, yellow fever, diphtheria, Spanish flu, etc) of the 19th and 20th century, and that kept their mortality rates far below the number of patients dying while receiving allopathic treatment?
Source: Homeopathy in Epidemics and Pandemics.
What about the body of evidence that has been published in peer reviewed medical journals? Doesn’t this at the very least make you a little curious? Doesn’t it make you wonder if maybe, there could potentially be a possibility that you too can benefit from homeopathic treatment?
True science begins with observation. Although it is valuable that the body of accepted evidence in support of homeopathy is growing, it is also worth noting that homeopathic medicine is already at its very roots based on scientific enquiry. Students of homeopathy know that their Materia Medica contains over 2500 remedies, which are based on a huge collection of observations (called provings), that have been repeated over and over again to verify the accuracy of each individual remedy’s description. Publications in peer reviewed journals are great for gaining acceptance by the mainstream, but large clinical trials (the golden standard in evidence based medicine) are not always suitable to measure a treatment as individualized as a homeopathic remedy, given that each prescription is based on the totality of a person’s symptoms, rather than an isolated symptom or disease. For example, while conventional medicine treats most coughs alike, in homeopathy, how you uniquely express the cough is important to your treatment as are the other symptoms associated with your cough.
How is it possible that ever so diluted doses are still effective?
This is the big question, and the reason homeopathy receives so much resistance. It may have proven to be effective, but that doesn’t explain how it works, thus causing mainstream science to remain skeptical. Not unlike the tragic story of the Hungarian physician Dr. Semmelweis, who was ostracized from the medical community and committed to an insane asylum in the mid 1800’s for proposing the idea that disease was caused by invisible microorganisms. Then the microscope was invented and the germ theory gained widespread acceptance. As I described in my blog “The science delusion and its implications to our healthcare”, science is not without its own dogma’s and it requires an open and curious mind to further scientific enquiry. Just because we are not able to explain how something works, does not mean it doesn’t work and does not justify labeling hard working, highly educated and skilled practitioners who want the best results for their patients, as ‘quacks’. We don’t call a medical doctor who prescribes a drug of which the mechanism of action is unclear, but which has demonstrated clinical efficacy, a quack either.
One possible theory is offered by the idea that water (which, by the way, also encompasses 60-70% of our body’s composition) has a memory and takes on the qualities of the substance dissolved in it, even when diluted to the point where atoms are no longer measurable. In order to demonstrate this, a study published in the journal Inflammation Research was conducted with highly diluted histamine (without any molecules left) – and still elicited the typical immune response to histamine when given to a biological system (e.g. a person or animal).
In his book ‘The hidden messages in water’, Masaru Emoto shows with pictures how water molecules are reshaped by different energetic vibrations.
I have tried homeopathy, but it didn’t do anything for me
It is possible that you will not notice immediate benefits of homeopathic treatment. This doesn’t automatically mean that homeopathy is useless. Instead, consider any of the following:
1) Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, homeopathic remedies might take time before they start to take effect. It can be a slow and gradual process, with very subtle changes – especially with long standing chronic symptoms. See the list below for examples of changes to look for.
2) Your homeopath didn’t find the right remedy for you yet. To help identify the appropriate homeopathic medicine, accurate observation and reporting of your symptoms is essential. Here are topics that you can think about before your next visit:
- Unusual symptoms and the characteristics of your illness
- The pattern of your symptoms and the cause of your illness
- Anything that makes your symptoms better or worse (other than drugs)
- Your level of energy and what effects it
- How your energy changes during a normal day
- Your body’s response to weather
- Your sleep position and patterns
- Recurrent dreams
- Foods that you especially like, dislike or that affect you
- Your thirst and fluid intake
- Your bodily functions (menses, elimination)
- Your personality
3) Level of expertise. Because certification is not presently required to practice homeopathic medicine, there are great differences amongst practitioners’ level of expertise. A good homeopath will ask you to describe each of your symptoms in exquisite detail. The initial intake will be at least one hour in length, but could easily be longer. Questions will not be limited to your physical symptoms, but will include your psychological state.