Alligators 'n Roadkill

Alligators 'n Roadkill
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Physician, heal somebody else…………… please!

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. - - Abraham Lincoln, (attributed)

A recent online report from NPR got me to thinking. The report had to do with an international effort, over the course of one weekend, for people all over the world to deliberately consume mega-doses of homeopathic remedies, to demonstrate that not only are these so-called medicines quite harmless, but they are apparently anything but effective. One aspect of the report had to do with people who took massive quantities of whatever it is that homeopathy recommends for sleep, with not only no one falling asleep, but with no visible effect whatsoever. The report certainly piqued my interest in this subject, one which I must admit I had never paid much attention to, so I did some research, which led me to the following (this was taken from: )

About homeopathy:
Homeopathy is a system of medicine which involves treating the individual with highly diluted substances, given mainly in tablet form, with the aim of triggering the body's natural system of healing. Based on their individual symptoms, a homeopath will match the most appropriate medicine to each patient.

The idea of treating 'like with like'
Homeopathy is based on the principle that you can treat 'like with like; i.e. a substance which causes symptoms when taken in large doses, can be used in small amounts to treat those same symptoms.
For example, drinking too much coffee can cause sleeplessness, agitation and even palpitations, but when made into the homeopathic remedy Coffea it can be used to treat all these problems. You may already have come acress this concept in conventional medicine e.g. the stimulant Rilatin being used to treat ADHD, or small doses of allergens such as pollen being used to de-sensitise allergic patients. However one major difference in homeopathy is that substances are used in such tiny doses that they are completely non-toxic.

Scientifically it cannot yet be explained precisely how homeopathy works, but new theories in quantum physics are going some way towards shedding light on the process. What we do know is that a carefully selected homeopathic remedy acts as a trigger to the body's healing processes.
By the time I had reached this last paragraph I was confused. I asked myself, and now, I suppose I am asking anyone, how can we believe such a convoluted statement as one that first admits that something cannot be explained, and then suggests that quantum physics (a topic about which very few of us know anything) might possibly help us along the way to see how it works. Then, we are told, that even though no one can explain how this works, some collective 'we' do know that homeopathic remedies trigger the body's healing processes!? How can that be? If they can't explain how it works, how am I supposed to believe that it does work at all? And, exactly what kind of healing is involved in going to sleep, fa cryin' out loud!?
As for comparing their rationale to the use of a drug as controversial as Ritalin or to the use of pollen in attempts to treat allergies, please don't ask me to go there. Not only is the use of Ritalin highly questionable for any purpose (look at the history of law suits involving this drug), but so is its use in the also highly controversial area of ADHD, a so-called diagnosis that may finally be coming under some serious scrutiny. As for the use of pollen to treat allergies, the statement provided by these folks is, to say the least, just a bit disingenuous. When pollen is administered, as in immunotherapy provided by a Board Certified Allergy Specialist, it is not ingested by mouth, or in pill form, as are the homeopathic remedies. Instead, together with other allergens, it is injected, and not just once, but over a period of time, sometimes lasting for years, until the body has developed a higher tolerance to the specific allergens that have caused the patient's symptoms in the first place. (from NPR's report):

And, now there's a $1 million challenge on the table to makers of homeopathic remedies from magician and professional skeptic James Randi. If a rigorous double-blind, controlled study finds the remedies work better than plain water, Randi's educational foundation will fork over the money.

[Recently, earlier this month,] hundreds of skeptics in more than 25 countries took megadoses of the remedies to demonstrate they do nothing. It was the second annual event organized by the 10:23 Campaign. One bunch in West Virginia took 1 million times the recommended dose of a homeopathic sleep remedy and didn't die — or even fall asleep.

As the federal National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine put it in an overview:

Homeopathy is a controversial area ... because a number of its key concepts are not consistent with established laws of science (particularly chemistry and physics). Critics think it is implausible that a remedy containing a miniscule amount of an active ingredient (sometimes not a single molecule of the original compound) can have any biological effect—beneficial or otherwise. For these reasons, critics argue that continuing the scientific study of homeopathy is not worthwhile. Others point to observational and anecdotal evidence that homeopathy does work and argue that it should not be rejected just because science has not been able to explain it.

So, imho, we are left with more questions than answers about this fairly common method of health care. But, hey, if anybody out there thinks they can meet that million dollar challenge, I'd sure like to see their results. Ultimately, since there is no existing scientific proof of its efficacy, I'd say it would probably be best to avoid such 'therapy' altogether, and stay with methods that are known to work. Frankly, I think I'd sooner accept treatment from a good local curandero/a.

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