Let’s say you go to the doctor with an ear ache. Instead of giving you medicine, he gives you water. You’d be pretty upset, right? How the heck is that supposed to help you?
Strangely enough, that’s the premise of homeopathy. I used to think that homeopathy was just another term for “natural medicine” or an herbal remedy. Nope – an herbal remedy like echinacea or ginseng pretty much always contains echinacea or ginseng . Whether or not it will cure what ails you is another story, but nevertheless, it has the potential to work because natural remedies actually contain active ingredients. Homeopathic remedies on the other hand are just. plain. water.
Homeopathy operates on the outdated principle that like cures like. You can’t sleep? Since caffeine keeps you up, dilute concentrations of caffeine should put you right to sleep. Ok, so far it’s a little kooky, but hey – weirder things have worked. The next part is where you lose me. Instead of taking a substance and mushing it up or making it into a tea, you dilute so much that you’re literally left with water. How much do you dilute it? Homeopathic solutions are so dilute that it’s like one drop of medicine in all the water on earth. At that point, there is not one single molecule left of active ingredient in the medicine – it’s just water.
This is no secret. Homeopathic practitioners are fully aware that they’re giving you water. In homeopathy, the more dilute, the “better” the medicine. So how can they justify this? Homeopaths admit they have no idea how homeopathy works, and their best guess is that water must have a “memory” and thus can “remember” once being in contact with the active ingredient. I’m not quite sure how a molecule of water can “remember,” and, if it can remember, does it also remember everything else it has ever been in contact with, such as bacteria and toxins? Perhaps also other medicines? If so, homeopathic remedies could be quite dangerous.
But of course they’re not dangerous, because they’re water. And water doesn’t “remember”.
When my baby had a cold, I could not find any cold medicine for him – not even an herbal or “natural” remedy. It’s difficult to find any medicine at all for babies under a year old, because they have not been tested in children that young. I get it – no company wants to be the first to test their product in babies. However, the pharmacy does offer a wide range of homeopathic medicines for babies. No danger in that and no testing needed – because it’s water. They boast claims such as “all natural” and “no side effects” – because it’s water. The fact that there are nothing but homeopathic cold medicines (not even “natural” ones) for babies should tip you off as to their ingredients (hint: it’s just water).
I can understand why homeopathy is popular. A homeopathic practitioner takes the time to sit down and talk to you, customizes a medication just for you, and may give you more individualized attention than conventional doctors. You feel special and cared for. Because you feel so special and cared for, the homeopathic medicine might even have a placebo effect on you, and lo and behold, your aches and pains are gone.
No harm no foul in that case – if water can cure your little aches and pains, that’s great. The only danger is if homeopathy prevents you from seeking medical attention for something serious. Homeopathy is quite popular in the UK, and tragically, a British baby died after her parents treated her severe skin disorder with homeopathic remedies instead of conventional medicine.
There has actually been some backlash against the popularity of homeopathy in the UK, with one protest group staging mass “overdoses” on homeopathic medicines. All over the world, hundreds of individuals gathered to take massive doses of homeopathic remedies in order to prove that there’s nothing to them. Of course, they suffered no ill consequences.
Homeopathic remedies in pharmacies are the medical equivalent of horoscopes in respectable newspapers. It just doesn’t make sense.