LivingWhy is homeopathy science fiction? (Source: Macrovector; freepik.com)

Why is homeopathy science fiction? (Source: Macrovector; freepik.com)

Similia similibus curentur , or what is the same, ” like is cured by like “. This is the premise on which homeopathy is based , that what causes pathology in healthy people, can cure sick people.

Is this possible? Is homeopathy more popular than effective? Has its effectiveness been scientifically proven? Can something that causes disease also cure it when given in small doses?

 

The origins

The founder of homeopathy , Samuel Hahnemann , established in the late 18th century the principles of homeopathy, according to which a substance that causes a disease when given in large doses can be used in small doses to treat the same disease . He tried to prove it with quinine, a remedy against malaria, since after ingesting cinchona bark, he felt the symptoms of malaria. Most likely, this occurred as a result of the immune response, but Hahnemann established it as a principle, even though it did not happen again with other people who did the same thing.

Later, in the 19th century , there was a crisis in academic medicine, because the medical practice of the time was sometimes ineffective and used dangerous methods, alternative medicine often had better results. For this reason, other forms of alternative medicine such as homeopathy became quite popular, despite being equally ineffective, since they hardly caused any damage.

During the 20th century , and especially at the end of it, medicine made great advances, especially related to diagnoses, scientific evidence and the documentation of said evidence. However, around this time, homeopathy as a form of alternative medicine also became popular again, despite a lack of evidence or scientific research to support it. In order to be marketed, drugs had to meet a series of requirements, such as good manufacturing practices, proven safety and efficacy, requirements that homeopathic products did not meet.

 

Homeopathy from a scientific perspective?

Although while writing his books on homeopathy he discovered that science proved these principles to be inaccurate, Hahnemann ignored the facts and published the book unchanged .

First of all, the assumptions on which its principles are based are in disagreement with the laws of physics and chemistry . Homeopathic medicines, if tested under controlled conditions, like medicines used for sale, are ineffective. The principles on which homeopathy is based do not have a scientific guarantee, that is, they are not plausible.

Medicine today knows physiology and pathophysiology well enough to easily refute the dogma that homeopaths believe. It’s hard to believe that like treats like. If a diabetic’s blood glucose level rises, it’s hard to believe that it will lead to a cure for insulin resistance.

Another illogical that is observed is immunization. Homeopaths are against immunization with vaccines , and this is the only part of current medicine that has anything similar to the principles they propagate.

A homeopathic pathogenetic essay describes the effect of the drug as a feeling of lightness, freedom and euphoria, and dreams as if you were among the high mountains. This is the effect of ozone, more specifically a medicine made from the blood of the American eagle. The homeopathic literature is full of such descriptions and it is very difficult to believe that such a description has anything to do with the treatment of disease. Ozone is heavier than air and cannot cause lift. So, in addition to being inaccurate, such poetic writings are meaningless in medicine and patient care.

Homeopathic trials do not provide any evidence of increased efficacy compared to placebo . It is believed that a consultation with a homeopath has a better effect than a homeopathic remedy. There are homeopathic efficacy trials, but their methodology is full of deficiencies.

In a meta-analysis, which included 110 homeopathic and conventional medicine trials, it was concluded that homeopathic trials do not go beyond the placebo effect. This study was published in one of the most famous medical journals and was heavily criticized by the Homeopathic Society. This pressure caused the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Scientific Advisory Council of the European Academies (EASAC) to review the efficacy of homeopathy, and both came to the same conclusion, that homeopathy is not effective and has no better effect than a placebo .

 

The principles of homeopathy

We have already explained above what homeopathy consists of, but we do not stop talking about the principles on which it is based without explaining them clearly. There are several principles on which homeopathy is based, but three of them should be highlighted : the law of similars, empowerment, and the memory of water.

The law of similars consists of, as we have already mentioned, “Similia similibus curentur” , that is, the similar cures the similar. It ensures that a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people can cure a disease with similar symptoms. That is, homeopathic preparations use ingredients that cause the symptoms they are intended to cure. This is as if, to cure a pain in your wrist, I kick you in the shin, and that’s how the pain goes away. Dont have much sense.

As for potentiation , substances were used that produced symptoms similar to those of the disease that was intended to be treated, but potentiating them… How? Well, since the substances that were used could exacerbate the symptoms or even worsen the situation, what he did was dilute these substances, maintaining that their effects were thus enhanced. Basically, they dilute the substances that produce the symptoms to be treated with alcohol or distilled water in a 1:99 ratio (1% solute, 99% solvent). The resulting dilution is diluted again with another fraction of alcohol or water, which is diluted again with another fraction of solvent, and so on until the desired degree of potency is achieved, because homeopaths believe that the lower the dose , the better the results. In the case of homeopathic products, it translates, in most of its products, into 30 dilutions. After that, the preparation no longer contains a single atom of the original substance, so it could be said that it is completely a placebo based on water or alcohol.

To support the previous principle, another one was created that maintains that water has memory , in order to be able to explain the curative effects of these preparations without any active ingredient. This principle ensures that the water has a memory of what it contained at some point, so that although not a single molecule of the original substance remains, having been in contact with it at some point, the dilution has an effect in treating the evil that was intended to treat from the beginning.

 

Why is homeopathy popular?

An interesting survey was carried out using Eurobarometers in 12 member states of the European Union. The relationship between scientific knowledge and representation of homeopathy was examined. They were found to be inversely correlated.

From the beginning, homeopathy has been popular with the wealthier strata of society . Even Prince Charles of Great Britain financially supported the creation of a homeopathy faculty. However, in the research of Charles Percy Snow, people who considered themselves educated did not know the basic scientific postulates and the second law of thermodynamics.

Ignorance of the second law of thermodynamics is a prerequisite for accepting homeopathy. If the self-confidence that prevails among individuals in high society, the sense of competence, and scientific illiteracy are connected, the result is support for homeopathy . If celebrities are included, the spread of this phenomenon is evident.

Healthy people with minor problems may turn to homeopathy because consultation with a homeopath can be pleasant , but it is not clear that people suffering from malignant diseases seek a solution in homeopathy.

 

In short , the assumptions on which homeopathy is based are scientifically impossible . In the last two hundred years, homeopathy has not contributed to the understanding of any disease, nor to the understanding of human physiology. For the treatment of the disease, it is necessary to use drugs whose effectiveness has been scientifically proven and which meet all the requirements established for their safe use. These regulatory requirements must apply to all marketed medicines, including homeopathic ones.

 

 

References:

Cukaci C, Freissmuth M, Mann C, Marti J, & Sperl V (2020). Against all odds – the persistent popularity of homeopathy. Wiener clinical weekly, 132 (9-10), 232-242. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00508-020-01624-x

European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (2017). Homeopathic products and practices: assessing the evidence and ensuring consistency in regulating medical claims in the EU. EASAC. https://easac.eu/publications/details/homeopathic-products-and-practices/ 

Grenier F. (1898). A Case of Idiosyncrasy of Intolerance of Quinine. The Indian medical gazette, 33(2), 48–49. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5140959/ 

Macrovector (s.f.). Homeopathy isometric composition [Free Vector]. Freepik. https://www.freepik.com/macrovector 

Sherr, J., Quirk, T., & Tournier, A. L. (2014). Do homeopathic pathogenetic trials generate recognisable and reproducible symptom pictures? Results from a pilot pathogenetic trial of Ozone 30c.  Homeopathy, 103(2), 108–112. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.homp.2013.12.001 

La Costeña® integrates a special edition of endemic beans into its portfolio

Ayocote Morado, Ayocote Amarillo, Sangre de Toro and Vaquita are the four endemic bean species in danger of disappearing that the company seeks to preserve.

The Dardenne brothers with Tori and Lokita in Cannes

Brothers Pierre and Luc DArdenne have already won the Palme d'Or in Cannes twice. Will the Belgians manage the hat-trick this year?

7 Mexican airlines that stopped flying

The aircraft of these companies landed one day and never took off again. This is their story and why they stopped operating in the country.

Stiko boss Mertens: Vaccination against monkeypox makes sense, especially for risk groups

Cases of monkeypox are increasing in Germany. Politicians and experts discuss preventive measures. The Stiko boss considers vaccination to be useful. News ticker.

Levi's 501: the 149-year-old jeans that want to dress Generation Z

The jeans brand has a strategy to remain a fashion icon and connect with new generations, while inflation impacts prices and logistics affects inventories.

More