I'll apologise right now, up front. Even though I'm usually biased, I try really hard to give the benefit of the doubt to what I'm tearing into. Sadly homeopathy is SO stupid I couldn't do it. Back in the 1800s it was a valid concept...nowadays it's idiotic. Now pull up your hip waders, we have a lot of sh*t to go through.
The Main Ideas of Homeopathy
The theory of homeopathy is "like treated by like". Back in the late 1700s / early 1800s, all medical conditions were believed to be caused by an imbalance in the four basic bodily humors: blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile. Conventional medical practice was to attempt to equalize these humors by such practices as bloodletting, purging, or leeching. A doctor at the time named Samuel Hahnemann came up with the basis of homeopathy while experimenting with malaria and chichona bark. He figured that since a healthy person exhibited malaria like symtoms when taking the bark, and that the bark cured people with malaria, then effective cures produce symptoms in healthy individuals similar to those of the diseases that they treat. As in, something in the bark was balancing out sick people and causing an imbalance in healthy people (pushing too far). Remember, there was no knowledge of germs, and eather existed. So the little bit of chichona bark was either righting the balance or giving a kick start to the patients own body, either way, much better than bloodletting.
Now to get around the problem of poisoning your patients, Hahnemann created a process of dilution that supposedly kept the benificial properties, while avoiding the bad. More on this later. Anyways, despite rarely actually curing anyone, homeopathic medicine had a very happy record of not killing it's patients, highly unusual back then. "If it doesn't kill you, then it makes you stronger" was not a joke back then, it was the truth. After years and thousands of tests, on hundreds of healthy and unhealthy people he published his theory in 1807. This is rather outstanding of him and full kudos, large scale clinical trials were not done back then.
A little red light and siren should be going off right now, how can a medical practice invented 200 years ago still be valid? Wrong question, we still use gauze, splints, stitches, aspirin, and more and they are even older. The real question is 'why is homeopathy still identical to what it was 200 years ago?'
Gauze is now cotton, sterilized, and non-stick. Splints come as aircasts, samsplints (foam with a flexible metal core), and plastic. Stitches comes as staples, superglue, and self-dissolving. Aspirin is no longer chewing willow bark, it is very pure, and exactly measured. But in homeopathy we are still practicing the same identical dilution techniques, with the same substances, and tools. No-one in all of homeopathies history has been able to improve on the original system!!! Even the bible has changed over the centuries and that came direct from the people there at the time.
So the idea of homeopathy is that the more you dilute something, the stronger/more potent it gets...ie you make the cure more concentrated by diluting it...Hahnemann claimed that greater dilutions had greater effect in balancing bodily humors, and he called this the Law of Infinitesimals.
- di · lu · tion; (noun); The process of making a substance less concentrated by adding a solvent, such as water.
- con · cen · trate; verb (used with object); to intensify; make denser, stronger, or purer, especially by the removal or reduction of liquid.
- po · tent; (adjective); Producing powerful physical or chemical effects
Now like any proper scientific method, there are specific measurements, quantities, and processes. First the measurements. There are 3 scales, the C scale (1:100), the X scale (1:10), and the rare Q scale (1:50,000).
|C Scale||X Scale||Ratio||Notes|
|0||0||1:1||50-50 water and medicine|
|1||2||1:100||99% water, 1% medicine|
|2||4||1:10,000||99.99% water, 0.01% medicine|
|4||8||1:100,000,000||allowable concentration of arsenic in U.S. drinking water, or else 10ppb (parts per billion)|
|12||24||1:1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000||Has a 60% probability of containing one molecule of original material if one mole of the original substance was used.
Avogadro's number (number of molecules in 1 mole) = 6.0221367 x 1023 = 602,213,670,000,000,000,000,000
602,213,670,000,000,000,000,000 / 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 = 0.6022 = 60.22%
Or the equivalent of a pinch of salt in the entire atlantic ocean.
|30||60||1:1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000||Dilution advocated by Hahnemann for most purposes; patient would need to consume 1034 gallons of liquid remedy (10 billion times the volume of the Earth) to consume a single molecule of the original substance. Moreover, since even in a 15C solution there would very likely be no molecules of the original substance left, the 30C solution would probably contain no molecules of water that had even come into contact with the original substance.|
Hmmm, that doesn't seem very promising does it? Well thats because 'modern scientists' are not diluting correctly. There is a proper procedure to follow so that the water 'remembers' the effects of the additives, even after they are safely removed. The process is called 'dynamisation' or 'potentization' and involves diluting the substance in distilled water and then shaken by exactly 10 hard strikes against an elastic body. This realeases the 'spirit' of the substance, so that it itself does not need to be present. As to how water retains some memories, but not others read this blog: http://lesmondine.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/homeopathy-theres-something-in-it/. He (? yes a he, another article he wrote says he has a penis) talks in good detail about distilling water and impurities.
Well why don't we do some trials and stop all this tooing and froing? I mean even if the theory is scoffed at by 'scientists', then if the test shows something they would have to accept it or be shown as hypocrites even if they don't know why it works. Good idea, it's been done, aaaaaaand, nothing was solved.
In 1991, a meta-analysis of 107 controlled trials over a 25 year period was done by the British Medical Journal. The majority of the studies did show some positive results, equal to or superior to a placebo. However, I quote: 'At the moment the evidence of clinical trials is positive but not sufficient to draw definitive conclusions because most of the trials are of low methodological quality and because of the unknown role of publication bias.' and 'This indicates that there is a legitimate case for further evaluation of homeopathy, but only by means of well performed trials.'
In response the UK Society of Homeopaths has stated 'It has been established beyond doubt that the randomized controlled trial is not a fitting research tool with which to test homeopathy.' So, any attempts at further test is a useless waste of time and can not be considered valid as evidence. Red flags anyone??