More on why homeopaths are so full of BS!

During the course of learning about molecules, medicines and drugs, I’ve discovered that we pretty much understand how a compound made from salicylic acid creates aspirin. Not only that, but we understand that salicylic acid inhibits the production of prostaglandins by binding to the enzyme cyclooxygenase(COX), thus slowing down the production of pain signals.

However, despite this simple process being reasonably well understood, we still do not fully understand how a very similar molecule, Ibuprofen works. However, the production of such a molecule is based on a fairly well understood molecule. Having said that, if it’s so difficult to work out how such a relatively simple chemical reaction has an effect on the human body, how on earth could anyone pull random substances out of their arse, dilute them down to an insignificant level and then pretend to know why it works? From what I’ve read about your average homeopath, they’ll say:

“It’s the life energy.”

“Bollox”, I say.

People who pray on the vulnerable to make money are either conning, immoral cretins, employing Olympic standard stupidity or are mentally ill.

I’m sure I’m not finished with this rant!

4 Replies to “More on why homeopaths are so full of BS!”

  1. For me the jury is still out on this. I tried homeopathy once and although convinced some of the stuff I took was a waste of time I have to say having 1/2 hour to talk through my health issues (as opposed to the 5 minute recital of symptoms at the doctors) combined with the dietary recommendations really helped improve my wellbeing and the hayfever remedy worked far better than the usual over the counter remedy. Bear in mind the homeopaths and herbalists were using willow bark (which contains asprin) years before asprin was developed. I think like many things it works for some and not for others e.g. asprin works for 40 odd percent of people, paracetamol for 50 odd percent and combined asprin/paracetamol/caffeine for 70 odd percent – asprin rarely works for me so I am in the 50 odd percent. The visiting doctor on the programme I was listening to said they don’t know why the addition of caffeine helps or how it helps but it does – so because they can’t nail it down scientifically should they stop adding it?

    As a science student myself (although not on your topic) I know scientific knowledge is constantly evolving and even if I disagree with a hypothesis/theory I will run with the accepted train of thought until I have evidence otherwise or further research contradicts it (bearing in mind that he/she who has the strongest argument/evidence will hold sway for a while. So I wouldn’t write off homeopathy as the province of charlatans because I think there is something in it. Isn’t there a miniscule amount of some mineral in our bodies that they have discovered is crucial which is similar in quantity to homeopathic medicines?

  2. Hi Cathy,

    Appreciate the opinion and respect your open mindedness. It’s just that extraordinary claims requre extraordinary evidence.

    Your anecdote about having someeone listen to you and empathise with your point of view fits all the established scientific evidence consistent with the placebo effect (reduction in anxiety, expectation of improvement, regression to the mean and spontaneous remission). However, the central tenet of homeopathy has utterly no basis is scientific plausibility.

    Seriously, if such a miniscule amount of randomly (non-scientifically) chosen substance, diluted to a an insignificant dosage, shaken along “meridian lines” and administered, could possible have any plausible contribution to make, then the double-blind, placebo controlled trials would show this. As far as I’m aware, there is not a single scientifically respected trial which has shown any evidence for homeopathy greater than that of a similarly administered placebo.

    As for homeopaths using the bark of a willow tree, do you mean naturopaths? Homeopaths by definition would administer doses of an antagonist, in a “hair of the dog” style approach, only at doses incapabable of having any significatn effect.

    See this rant for more:

    Homeopathic Burns Night

    I don’t write them all off as charlatans, I think some of them believe what they’re saying and some of them are mentally ill. My anger directed towards them is down to the hundreds of people every year who suffer increased injury and sometimes death because they seek the advice of these un-qualified, (some completely cynical) snake oil salesmen instead of seeking proper medical advice.

    Did you hear about the the 9 month old baby who died of eczma because her parents refused to treat her with anything other than homeopathic remedies?

    So when people say “what’s the harm?”, they overlook the consequences of allowing these unlicensed, self-regulated pseudo-sciences to be practiced in the name of some sort of post-colonial guilt, overcompensating by respecting other cultures and people’s right to believe in anything they like.

    The problem is, it’s killing people.

    Sorry, I did say my rant wasn’t over!

  3. What is wrong with ibuprofen? I consume a lot of it. They take away headaches like no other. 500+ a year.

    1. Hi Mr E,

      I didn’t say there was anything wrong with Ibuprofen, I was merely surprised that despite it’s relatively simple chemical structure, we still do not completely understand how it functions.

      My point was, that if we cannot fully understand the workings of a relatively simple molecule like Ibuprofen, then how can homeopaths speak with confidence about antagonists at miniscule doses.

      I guess the same could be said for most evidence-based medicines, however at least they have some basis in science and well controlled trials.

      I think this post was more of an outburst than a fully formed argument which is why I should have finished the post before I put it out there!

      Thanks for the feedback.


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