Homeopathy: Miracle or scam? 6 questions to ask yourself.

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German doctor Samel Hahnemann discovered and funded Homeopathy in the last years of the 18th century. In his book, called Organon, he described the principles of Homeopathy and his point of view about medicine:

  • 1) Natura Morborum Medicatrix: Homeopathic remedies are capable of strengthening the regulative mechanisms present in the patient, favouring the curation.
  • 2) Law of the similars: Hahnemann sustained that any disease can be cured with a substance that produces the symptoms of the disease in a healthy patient.
  • 3) Drug individuality: The best remedy for each patient must be found. There’s no universal remedy for each disease, the treatment must be adapted to the patient.
  • 4) Pure experimenting: In order to know which disease will cure any remedy, the remedy is applied in a healthy patient in order to see the symptom it produces.
  • 5) Individuality: The remedy will be adjusted to the patient.
  • 6) Unique Remedy: The personal context of the subject will define the treatment.
  • 7) Minimum dose: Small doses of the remedies will reduce the symptoms and huge doses will increase them.

Hahnemann, the developer of Homeopathy

As a summary, it can be said that Homeopathy is based on the belief that a substance that produces certain symptoms in a healthy subject, when administered in low doses to ill subjects, will cure their diseases.

The creation of the remedy:

As we have already said, Homeopathy uses very low doses of the remedies in order to achieve the curation. Therefore, this factor determines all the production process of the remedies:

  1. Mix 1 drop of the active substance with 99 drops of water.
  2. From the resulting substance, take another drop and mix it with 99 drops of water.
  3. Repeat this process between 10 and 100 times.
  4. Mix the resulting substance with a sacarose pill.

As our followers already know, in Stop Autoimmunity we’re very open to new, innovative and promising treatments. Due to this, after analyzing one by one all the treatments, we ended up supporting curcumin, fecal transplants or cryotherapy. All of them, not substantially approved by conventional medicine. However, our analysis (evidently subjective) made us believe that we should promote this treatments as the evidence was quite good. We didn’t want to exclude homeopathy from this process so we asked ourselves the normally used questionnaire:

Question 1: Is there any active substance?

No, definitely no. Hahnemann’s favourite dilution (30C) is the most used nowadays. With a ratio of 10-60 it would involve giving two billion doses per second to six billion people during four billion years in order to be sure that ONE particle of the original substance reaches the body of ONE patient. In summary, as can be seen in the video below, a 30C dilution is equal to one particle of the original substance diluted in all the particles of the solar system…

 

Question 2: How does it work?

The specialists in the field of homeopathy maintain that thanks to the dilution processes the water changes its structure and, although it doesn’t retain the active substance, its memory somehow allows it keeping the healing properties. Sadly, current science (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) is not capable of proving this assumption on water. So, do we have to believe in the word of the homeopathic doctors, or not?

This feature of the water (that even nowadays can’t be proved) would act as a double-edged sword because, should that property be true, the water would also memorize all the particles that have been in contact with it (including toxins, pesticides, etc…)

Question 3: ¿Why then, so many people use homeopathy?

Because it does work. Even without scientific approval, a minimum of rationality or active substance, it does work. The claim is supported by three well-known phenomenons:

  • Regression to the mean: This term, more used in Wall Street than in medicine, can be summarised by the fact that patients tend to try new and uncommon treatments when they’re feeling really bad. For example, a patient uses homeopathy during a flare up of his disease and then he gets better. He then may feel that the homeopathic treatment was effective for the flare up although this doesn’t have to be true. Remember that the most common biologic process is the comeback to an homeostatic state after a flare up.

Regression to the mean: The farther away a value is from the mean, the better chance that the next one will be closer.

  • The placebo effect: Our brain has a huge curative capabilities. If we believe in our healing, we’ll have more chances to heal. Placebo effect, despite what homeopathic doctors say, does exist in animals, children and even fake surgeries are effective for pain reduction… It’s of common knowledge that, in research trials, between 20% and 40% of the control group gets better after being treated with sugar pills. This excellent systematic review (the highest level of scientific evidence) made by a homeopathic doctor concludes that homeopathy is as effective as placebo.

The curative properties of the placebo effect are directly associated with the expectation produced in the patient.

  • Generally confused with the use of herbs that DO work, also known as phytotherapy: During last years, many substances commonly used in phytotherapic treatments have been labelled as homeopathy. Therefore, devil’s claw or ginger (herbs that do have medicinal properties and haven’t been diluted 50 times) are still labelled as homeopathy even though they have nothing in common with the original homeopathic formulations. These remedies can’t really be called homeopathy as they aren’t based on multiple dilutions nor minimal doses.

In summary, Homeopathy’s advocates have different arguments for defending this practice: water’s memory, a few poorly designed and refuted studies (sponsored by homeopathic companies) or false claims about the non-existence of placebo effect in animal and children (populations that supposedly get benefits from homeopathy). The truth is that the highest level of scientific evidence (systematic revision) clearly states that homeopathy is all about sugar and water: placebo.

More info about regression to the mean, placebo effect and the confusion about homeopathy in this article.

Homeopathy: 0% active ingredients, 100% sugar

Question 4: What are the benefits?

The hippocratic oath contains the very famous phrase “primum non nocere” and homeopathy, contrary to conventional medicine, fulfils this completely. On the other side, the homeopathic world has taken perfect care of the deficiencies seen in the standard medical system: doctor’s appointments usually last longer than 30 minutes, the patient has enough time to express him or herself and be listened to. The confidence in the doctor is bigger and this has an important impact in the wellness of the patient. Add the fact that homeopathic treatments don’t cause serious adverse events and you will understand that this practice is ahead of the conventional treatments in several aspects.

It should be noted that conventional medicine is the third cause of death worldwide, after cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, it seems logical to stay away from drugs as long as possible.

As an example, imagine a patient with a viral infection. He goes to the doctor and normally he will be prescribed an antibiotic as doctors don’t often check whether infections are bacterial or viral. He will take an unnecessary drug that will also quite likely destroy his intestinal flora. That problem doesn’t occur in a patient that stays away from conventional medicine (even if he has to spend some dollars in homeopathic remedies).

These are very effective, no side effects and cure 30% of those who take them

Question 5: What are the risks?

If we suffer from a mild disease, we’ll only lose money. If we have a serious condition like cancer, homeopathy may make us ditch the conventional treatment, something that could be quite dangerous.

Question 6: Is conventional medicine better than homeopathy?

That’s a difficult question. The world of medicine is full of dogmas and corruption. Many drugs are still used in spite of their lack of efficacy (Statins for high Cholesterol, Metformin for type 2 diabetes or Plaquenil for Rheumatoid Arthritis are some of the examples) and many others are used even knowing that they come with more side effects than benefits (e.g. some biological drugs used to treat psoriasis). Most studies backing up the claims behind these drugs are funded by the pharma companies. There’s no way conventional medicine is “clean” and the way to go in the treatment of all diseases.

At Stop Autoimmunity we worry about the wellness of the patients so we’ll never encourage people to leave a treatment that they think is helping. On the other hand, we’ll never encourage people who are suffering from a severe condition to leave the conventional treatment and use homeopathy or other non researched treatment instead.

We don’t recommend Statins, Metformin nor Bach flowers. Therefore, keeping our critical point of view, we can’t recommend homeopathy for any kind of illness.

If you’re interested, we strongly recommend reading the article about homeopathy written by Science Based Medicine, where you can find hundreds of studies explaining different viewpoints.

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