“If homeopathy is real, then dumping Osama bin Laden’s corpse in the ocean has just cured the world of terrorism.”
— Shiloh Madsen
Homeopathy is a system of treating diseases based on the premise that — “like cures like”. Essentially the theory goes something like this: if, in large doses, an ingredient creates symptoms or causes illness, then in a lower concentration it will remove those symptoms or cure that particular illness.
Sounds strange? It gets better.
In order for homeopathy to work, the active ingredient must be diluted in water (the most common solvent used is 40% alcohol and 60% water). It is claimed that the more dilute the solution, the stronger the cure.
To appreciate the extent of dilution required for the preparation of a homeopathic remedy, let’s take the example of a 30C preparation which is commonly used. 30C means that the active ingredient has been diluted 30 times by a factor of 100 each time.
In mathematical terms the active ingredient is diluted in the ratio of:
To put the above into perspective, imagine this.
Combine all the world’s oceans (yes you read that right) and add one drop of the active ingredient into the middle, stir and VOILA! You have just created a genuine homeopathic cure.
At this level of dilution, it is almost guaranteed that no molecules of the active ingredient are present in the remedy. What we are left with is just water!
To dodge this rather discomforting problem, modern homeopaths now make the bold claim that — “water has memory”. So even though not a single molecule of the active ingredient is present in the mixture, the remedy will still work. Why? Because… well… the water remembers! Yet conveniently, it somehow manages to forget all the other common substances it has come in contact with (like dirt and metal).
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and when put to the test, unlike conventional medicine, homeopathic remedies have repeatedly failed the rigorous examination of the scientific method.
A large part of homeopathy’s success boils down to placebo. A placebo is basically a false sense of well-being given to a patient in the form of a pseudo treatment. We know placebo works, and it works well. If you think the remedy is working, there is a good chance that you will feel better and report positive results.
In 2015, the NHMRC performed a thorough review of more than 1800 papers on homeopathy. The conclusion was, “We found no good quality, well-designed studies with enough participants to support the idea that homeopathy works better than a placebo, or causes health improvements equal to those of another treatment.”
When presented with such irrefutable evidence, a homeopath’s last line of defense is, “Homeopathy has no side effects. What’s the harm in trying it?”
1. People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness.
2. Homeopathic remedies aren’t free and most of them are quite expensive. They’re a waste of the patient’s time and hard earned money. Keep in mind, each and every one of us, whether we like it or not, pays for homeopathy through taxes!
Sadly, in India, homeopathy is recognized as one of the national systems of medicine. Presently, there are 189 homeopathic colleges in our country offering undergraduate and postgraduate programs.
Homeopathy is taught at the undergraduate level as a 5 and 1/2 year program called Bachelor of Homoeopathic Medicine and Surgery (BHMS). At the postgraduate level, homeopathy is taught as a three year MD program.
In 2012, there were 7,000 homeopathy hospitals and dispensaries across India, an increase from 1,686 clinical establishments in 1980. In just two decades, registered homeopath practitioners in India have doubled. In 1980, there were 105,000 homeopaths in India. This number increased to 246,000 in 2012.
Let’s put an end to this madness.