August 27, 2005

Homeopathy no better than sugar pill: metastudy

Homeopathic remedies may help people feel better, but their impact appears to be no greater than a placebo effect, a comparison of more than 200 studies of the alternative medicine and conventional treatments concludes.
A surprisingly large percentage of the people are very interested in so-called natural medicine. So I ended up hearing about homeopathy and did some research on it. As the article states...
Homeopathy, which aims to stimulate a patient's own healing processes with minute dilutions of specific remedies, is based on the theory of treating “like with like.” The patient describes symptoms in detail and the practitioner prescribes tiny, non-toxic doses of a selected substance that, at higher doses, would produce those symptoms in a healthy person.
The reaction of the US National Center for Homeopathy was predictable. They claim the study is flawed. What the Globe's article doesn't touch on is that the very basis of Homeopathy is flawed and doesn't need a study to prove so.
Homeopathy not only says that like needs to be treated with like. Homeopathy suggests that the smaller the amount of the substance the more powerful it is, the theory being that the body is triggered to heal itself. Let me say that again, the less medicine given the greater the effect.

This belief is diametrically opposed to the basis of pharmaceuticals. Both theories cannot exist in concert. One or the other is right. And whatever you might think of pharmaceutical drugs, they are effective in very many ways. When you get an infection, you don't take herbs, you take an antibiotic. If you have depression, you take antidepressants. The more you take of it, the more powerful its effects. In many cases taking more won't be any more effective but taking less would not make its ability greater. That's foolishness. Quackwatch even calls Homeopathy "the ultimate fake":
The basis for inclusion in the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia is not modern scientific testing, but homeopathic "provings" conducted during the 1800s and early 1900s. The current (ninth) edition describes how more than a thousand substances are prepared for homeopathic use. It does not identify the symptoms or diseases for which homeopathic products should be used; that is decided by the practitioner (or manufacturer). The fact that substances listed in the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia are legally recognized as "drugs" does not mean that either the law or the FDA recognizes them as effective.


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