Homeopathy… Well, It Couldn’t Hurt, Right?

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The National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is one of the 27 institutes and centers that make up the National Institutes of Health (NIH) within the Department of Health and Human Services of the federal government of the United States. The following is from the NCCIH [1]:

The alternative medical system of homeopathy was developed in Germany at the end of the 18th century. Supporters of homeopathy point to two unconventional theories: “like cures like”—the notion that a disease can be cured by a substance that produces similar symptoms in healthy people; and “law of minimum dose”—the notion that the lower the dose of the medication, the greater its effectiveness. Many homeopathic remedies are so diluted that no molecules of the original substance remain.

The two ‘theories’, ‘like cures like’ and ‘law of minimum dose’ are not actually theories at all, in the scientific sense. In ordinary casual conversation, ‘theory’ can mean hunch or idea. This is not the case for a scientific theory.

A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not “guesses” but reliable accounts of the real world.

The NCCIH goes on to say:

  • There is little evidence to support homeopathy as an effective treatment for any specific condition.
  • Although people sometimes assume that all homeopathic remedies are highly diluted and therefore unlikely to cause harm, some products labeled as homeopathic can contain substantial amounts of active ingredients and therefore could cause side effects and drug interactions.
  • Homeopathic remedies are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, FDA does not evaluate the remedies for safety or effectiveness.
  • Several key concepts of homeopathy are inconsistent with fundamental concepts of chemistry and physics.

Most rigorous clinical trials and systematic analyses of the research on homeopathy have concluded that there is little evidence to support homeopathy as an effective treatment for any specific condition.

A 2015 comprehensive assessment of evidence by the Australian government’s National Health and Medical Research Council concluded that there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective.

“Yes, yes, SDHoS, but the TITLE of this article implies that it can HURT!”

Well, it can. Bullet point #2, above, indicates that these products may contain active ingredients that may have side effects and drug interactions, yet, bullet point #3 indicates that they are not tested to establish safety.

“Yes, yes, SDHoS, but that sentence says ‘may‘ twice!”

Translate that line as ‘no one has checked.’

“OK, SDHoS, you STILL didn’t say how it can HURT!”

Quite correct. Here’s how[2]:

A Calgary mother was ordered to stand trial in the death of her seven-year-old son.

Provincial court  Judge Paul Mason made the ruling after hearing the last of nearly two dozen witnesses called by the Crown during a five-day preliminary hearing.

Tamara Lovett, 45, will face trial on charges of failing to provide the necessities of life and criminal negligence causing the death of Ryan Alexander Lovett. He was seven years old when he died in March 2013 after contracting a strep infection that kept him bedridden for 10 days.

Police allege his mother chose to treat the bacterial infection with homeopathic herbal remedies instead of taking him to a doctor and that decision likely killed the child.

That’s right. The most dangerous thing about homeopathy is that it is used by some in place of actual medical care.

‘Alternative medicine’ is actually a misnomer. It should honestly be called ‘alternative to medicine’. It should be used whenever you do not want either medicine or medical attention. There is, however, a name that we have for alternative medicine that has been proven safe and effective. That name is ‘medicine‘.

Think this is just our opinion, here at Science Denier Hall of Shame? Here’s what Smithsonian has to say on the topic: 1,800 Studies Later, Scientists Conclude Homeopathy Doesn’t Work

Although ‘homeopathy’ is not referenced here, this is another, more recent ‘alternative medicine tragedy: Toddler died from meningitis after anti-vaxx parents treated him with maple syrup instead of medicine

Thanks for reading, feel free to comment below.

[1] Source: NCCIH on Homeopathy

[2] Source: Calgary Herald

One comment on “Homeopathy… Well, It Couldn’t Hurt, Right?

  1. Another example of woo being lethal: Ezekiel Stephan died in 2012 of viral meningitis. The parents sold herbs and healing crystals for a living, so the kid suffered for days until his muscles stiffened up. They brought him to a naturopath, who, instead of doing an exam or sending the kid to an emergency room, ‘prescribed’ echinacea extract. The kid went into a coma and died. Homeocrap and naturopathocrap killed this kid, because real medicine could have treated the disease and saved the child. See http://www.naturopathicdiaries.com/restrict-licensed-naturopaths/#more-1200 for a much better write-up (not my blog, but that of a former naturopath who has learned better).

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