Homeopathy Research and a Lovely Tang-rant

Wow–just found this article, better than mine, so if you have to choose one, read the one linked above, not mine.

This is a much needed expansion of my previous article, Homeopathy Studies.  The expansion comes due to wonderful news.  The Swiss government has published a comprehensive report on the effective use of homeopathy.  I personally already have a lot of respect for the Swiss people and their unbiased intelligence.  Thus, I’m not surprised that the report comes out Switzerland.

An article on the report can be found here, and additionally I just found a great mass of homeopathy research to share, here.  It seems so quickly I’ve gone from not having enough scientific backing to having copious amounts.

The sum of most Americans’ experience with Homeopathy is hearing someone call it useless quackery in the media.  Alternatively, and arguably just as bad, they might have someone giving them Arnica montana for their random bruises.  So, I’ve opened up a lot of territory, let’s see if I can concisely address it.

First, an implicit issue: We already proved homeopathy didn’t work, right?  No.  We did studies that any trained homeopath would disapprove of and found exactly what a homeopath would expect.  That is, if you give everyone with, for example, a headache, the same homeopathic medicine, say Sulphur, AT BEST 10% are going to get better and that’s what happens.  Homeopathic medicines should be prescribed on a very specific basis.  That basis is an elegantly assembled totality of a person’s symptoms, including both the “physical” and “emotional”.  Proper training is required and thus we’ve hit two birds with one stone: Arnica won’t fix all of your bruises and if you take homeopathics based on the random junk they put on the label “good for menstrual cramps” without seeing a homeopath, you probably won’t get better, you might get worse–for the same reason, random scientists have proven that bad homeopathy doesn’t work, because it doesn’t.

Great, so all that’s left is it being quackery.  Well, there are various angles to go with here–there is the basic and obvious powerful pharma that doesn’t want such a cheap and effective alternative to gain ground.  With thought-control getting cheaper and easier these days, it’s an obvious route for a businessman.  Beyond money though, I think there are deeper issues involved.

(Warning, personal beliefs incoming!)  Science has become its own religion of sorts, in some circles, it is not as much married to objectivity as it is to a flat-land worldview, a simplistic, material-centered, mechanistic view of reality.  Allegiance to this worldview yields a very unscientific filter which rejects homeopathy based on plausibility: “Because it doesn’t fit my view of reality and I don’t understand how it could work, it must not.”  This homeopathy stuff, if true, attacks that worldview and thus threatens people attached to it.  Which explains why attacks against homeopathy are so vehement: homeopathy strikes directly at the core of a more mechanistic world-view.

In the interest of equality, I’d like to move to the weaknesses of homeopathic enthusiasts.  Often their views about how and why homeopathy works and their beliefs about the effectiveness of other alternative medicines do not display a tendency towards critical thinking.  It is common in homeopathy to believe some prayer, intent, or positive thinking must be added for the medicine to be effective, and this is not so.  If medicines can be produced by machines and work (which they do) then we can really leave the emotional/intentional bit out of the picture with respect to homeopathic medicines.  The focus should be on correct diagnosis and treatment, which in homeopathy happen to be synonymous.  Additionally, as noted above, the use of Arnica for every bump and bruise is not supported by homeopathic literature or practice, though it is incredibly common.

Why does it matter?  Because it reduces the credibility of homeopathy and alternative medicine in general.  It makes those with a materialist/mechanistic worldview more wary of homeopathy.  And gives them more reason to reject it without more thorough appraisal.

When ineffective alternative medicine is used and it doesn’t work, and it’s shown in clinical research to be ineffective, it gives alternative medicine a bad name.

Thus, it is important to be both open-minded and skeptical.  Search for evidence from various avenues including especially your intuition and personal experience.

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About Central Coast Integrative Medicine

Dr Dunbar is a Naturopathic doctor and massage therapist
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