July 25, 2007

Homeopathy: Its Pitfalls

Samuel Hahnemann
This discipline of 'medicine' was malformed from it's inception. Based on the principle of similars (similia similibus curentur or 'let likes cure likes' : for example a substance that causes headache will cure headache), and propounded by Hahnemann, homeopathy is still alive. Some very basic conflicts with science has dealt it with such a blow, from which it will (probably) never recover.

First of all, it proposes that by diluting, the 'strength' of a drug will increase (potentiation by dilution, as they prefer to call it). A drug of the potency 6x, is present in 1 part in 10^6 molecules. That is only 1 molecule of an active drug, is present in 1000,000 molecules of a drug preparation (globules or liquid). Thus a 200x drug will be present in such a dilution (1 in 10^200), that almost no molecule (of the drug) will be present in the dispensing form. According to Avogadro number, 1 mole of a substance will contain some 6.023X10^23 molecules. A mole is a the molecular weight expressed in grams. For example, the molecular weight of water is 18 (2X1+16), hence one mole of water is 18 grams of water. Since 1 mole has 6.023X10^23 molecules, 18 grams of water will thus contain as many molecules. Dilution doesn't end here, there are c (^100) and even M. To add to this, only one drop of it is poured on the lactose globule. Thus active ingredient is hardly ever, if at all, found in the dosage form.

Secondly, homeopaths believe that exposing substances to the sun/ radiating sources including X-rays/magnetic fields etc, will confer upon them some properties of their parent/originating source. This is sheer stupidity, as a water molecule will never be magnetized nor can a sane person ever think of capturing the sun's light in a basket, and to use it later when the night comes. They try to cover this up by saying that some form of spiritual energy is captured in the process.

Thirdly, they believe that a disease evolves due to a decline in 'vital force' of a subject. They remain oblivious to the presence of microorganisms which have been so elaborately demonstrated.

To wrap it up, I do not mean to say that it doesn't do anything, because homoeopath believers will get some results in self limiting diseases i.e. diseases that automatically heal. This is due to its placebo (means 'I please you') effect, an effect of an apparent response in placebo reactors (those who believe in the 'therapy'). In modern medicine, drugs are evaluated against dummies having the same weight, color etc as that of the drug being evaluated, to compare its effect to that of a placebo (the dummy here) and then compared statistically to the placebo, to prove its actual efficiency over a placebo. The homoeopathic formulations are nothing more than placebos.

If homeopathy is to survive, it must substantiate its claims statistically and explain its 'mechanisms' in terms of modern science.
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