The way that menstruation was seen during the 1700s was as a way of the body to get rid of impurities. So when menstruation ceased during menopause, what was thought to happen was that the blood remained within the body, clotting and stagnating ... The logical solution was the application of leeches — to a woman's genitalia, to her back, or to the nape of her neck, to try and remove this excess blood. — Dr Marilys GuilleminOuch! The good old days seem not so good anymore.
Okay so if you were a woman from the 18th century your options were (a) get a blood sucking leech stuck on your crotch or (b) eat two sugar pills (or whatever form they sold their sugar pills then) a day. I am sure that the woman without a leech stuck upon her crotch reported that she felt healthier than her leech therapy availing counterpart. So it wasn’t a surprise that homeopathic treatments became immensely popular.
Hahnemann came up with treatments based on the “laws of the similar”. It is something akin to ‘it takes a thorn to remove a thorn’. He came up with the idea that if you give the patient an extremely small amount of the substance that is causing the disease then you will get better. So if you were suffering from malaria and you go to the homeopath, s/he would give you an extremely diluted (no not plasmodium!) 18th century version of the causative agent of malaria. By extremely dilute, I mean that the substance is diluted 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times. In other words pure water.
Some of you might say that nobody with a sound mind would treat severe diseases like cancer or malaria with homeopathic medicine. From my personal experience, I know that people don’t always make the right call given the choice between Western medicine and herbal (no side effects) treatments. When I was about six years old, I got malaria and my father decided that I should take homeopathic treatment for the fever. I ended up with malaria so severe that I had to be admitted to a hospital for several days. Thankfully I was able to recover completely after I was taken to a proper doctor. But even so my father still gets homeopathic prescriptions for many of his illnesses.
When people resort to homeopathic medicines for conditions that are chronic or not treatable by Western medicine I deem it the same as praying. Although the medication does not make the patient better it also does not make the condition worse. However, there are also people who rely solely on homeopathic remedies and succumb to the disease when they could’ve made a recovery with allopathic treatment. I knew one such woman, who lived in my neighborhood and died of jaundice because she decided to take the homeopathy pills (solely) instead of allopathic medicine.
This is one of the many examples of the gullibility of the masses that blindly follow arcane ideologies. People don’t bother to assess the authenticity of the treatment that they choose. If it is popular it must work. The quack doctors who practice this stuff are licensed by government institutions giving B.H.M.S. and D.H.M.S. degrees to sell sugar pills to the sick that are in need of some real medicine. It is no wonder that homeopathy is not regarded as the quack medicine that it really is.
Many of you might even know people who swear by the benefits of homeopathic treatments…people who have recovered by taking homeopathic pills where allopathic treatments failed. These folks have simply experienced a placebo effect or have recovered as a result of the natural healing process of the body. Like they say, “If you take medicine to cure a cold it would take a week and if you don’t take medicine it will take seven days.” Our body is a complex system that has evolved with an arsenal of defense mechanisms to combat the myriad of bugs on its own. Most of the time, we are successful in warding off these menacing diseases without any medication. The amount of recovery time varies and sometimes people take homeopathic medicines after an initial round of allopathic medicine. The allopathic medicine can reduce the burden of pathogens and give the body a chance to recuperate and sometimes the recovery time is long. So although the relief was primarily due to the allopathic medicine, since the patient’s full recovery happens while taking the homeopathic follow-up treatment, the patient’s belief in homeopathic medicine is re-iterated.
Some people in developing countries also lend credibility to homeopathy because of its popularity in the West. This kind of thinking comes from the common misconception that the Western world is made up of (scientifically) progressive thinkers. Even though most of the cutting edge research comes from developed countries, the majority of the Western population is superstitious and largely ignorant about science.
The popularity of homeopathic medicine is such that it is accepted as a branch of major hospitals (affiliated with research centers). The problem with this is that its association with research hospitals is giving it undue credibility. Unlike the extensive research that backs all the allopathic drugs before they hit the market, most of the homeopathic medicines have not even been tested, partly because it is impossible to test something that doesn’t even exist in the final prescription as a result of the incredible dilutions. The few studies that claim to test homeopathic medicine do so without proper controls, statistics or scientific methodology or protocols. Batra hospital and research center is one such hospital in New Delhi that offers alternative medicine in addition to allopathic treatments. Here are some of the quotes from their website that advertises the benefits of homeopathic treatment.
Homoeopathy: Magic of minimum dose:
Homoeopathy has a unique approach for preparation of drugs in which the end result will contain only the ‘dynamic curative power’ of drug substance, devoid of any original crude substance. By a special mode of preparation called ‘potentization’, over 2500 homeopathic medicines are prepared from sources such as vegetables, animals, minerals, chemicals, etc. Hence homeopathic remedies with its ultra minute doses are non-toxic, absolutely harmless and bring about SAFE CURE.
Of course it is harmless, you are prescribing water!
Homoeopathy offers wonder treatment for Viral infections:
Viral infections such as common cold, influenza, measles, Chickenpox, mumps, viral hepatitis (jaundice), viral meningitis etc. are very well treated with homoeopathy.
Now this is where it gets scary. If they were selling drugs to treat common cold it would be nothing more than fraud. But they are making false claims about curing diseases that can be fatal if left untreated. They are murdering people.
So in a nutshell, homeopathy is a large scale fraud operation that needs to be thwarted by educating people and not associating such quack therapies with hospitals and research centers. The government needs to take an active role in condemning such medical malpractices instead of certifying these mass-murdering witch-doctors.
If you are interested in reading more about why homeopathy is quack medicine check out this article called Homeopathy: The ultimate fake by Stephen Barett M.D.
If you would rather watch a video then check out “Scams, Sasquatch, and the Supernatural” by Brian Brushwood
(Also crossposted at my new blog for science writing)