After reading about Angrydr's self-imposed fight against alternative medicine, I felt inspired by his quest and so I've decided to give him a hand in fighting the rubbish that alternative medicine is, even though I am stupid :(.
So for today, I shall pick an easy target =======> Homeopathy. I shall launch a preemptive strike against homeopathy before it gains popularity in Singapore, like how USA bombed the daylights out of Iraq just in case..............
What is homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a form a alternative medicine conceived by Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician who lived between 1755 to 1843. The follow excerpt from wikipedia describes how Hahnemann "discovers" homeopathy
"After giving up his practice he made his living chiefly as a writer and translator. While translating William Cullen's A Treatise on the Materia Medica, Hahnemann encountered the claim that Cinchona, the bark of a Peruvian tree, was effective in treating malaria because of its astringency. Hahnemann realised that other astringent substances are not effective against malaria and began to research cinchona's effect on the human organism very directly: by self-application. He discovered that the drug evoked malaria-like symptoms in himself, and concluded that it would do so in any healthy individual. This led him to postulate a healing principle: "that which can produce a set of symptoms in a healthy individual, can treat a sick individual who is manifesting a similar set of symptoms." This principle, like cures like, became the first of a new medicinal approach to which he gave the name homeopathy."
In essence, homeopathy is the idea that if eating shit can make you sick, eating shit will also cure your sickness?! What?! Don't ask me how that is going to work, go ask Hanhemann.
Alright, to be fair, that's not all that there is to homeopathy. Homeopathic remedies are diluted. The more dilute the remedy is, the more potent it is apparently.
Here's how homeopathic remedies are created
"In producing treatments for diseases, homeopaths use a process called "dynamization" or "potentization" where the remedy is diluted into alcohol or water and then vigorously shaken by ten hard strikes against an elastic body in a process called "succussion". Hahnemann thought that the use of remedies which present symptoms similar to those of disease in healthy individuals would only intensify the symptoms and exacerbate the condition, so he advocated the dilution of the remedies to the point the symptoms were no longer experienced. During the process of potentization, homeopaths believe that the vital energy of the diluted substance is activated and its energy released by vigorous shaking of the substance ..............................
Three potency scales are in regular use in homeopathy. Hahnemann pioneered and always favored the centesimal or "C scale", diluting a substance 1 part in a 100 of diluent at each stage. A 2C dilution is one where a substance is diluted to one part in one hundred, then one part of that diluted solution is diluted to one part in one hundred. This works out to one part of the original solution to ten thousand parts (100x100) of diluent. A 6C dilution repeats the process six times, ending up with one part in 1,000,000,000,000. (100x100x100x100x100x100, or 1006) Other dilutions follow the same pattern. In homeopathy, a solution is described as higher potency the more dilute it is. Higher potencies - i.e. more dilute substances - are considered to be stronger deep-acting remedies."
In other words, your homeopathic remedy is just a very, very, very, very dilute solution of the substance that causes your illness.
"Hahnemann advocated 30C dilutions for most purposes (a dilution by a factor of 1060) and a common homeopathic treatment for the flu is a 200C dilution of duck liver, called Oscillococcinum in homeopathy."
Does homeopathy work?
Ok, so the cure for the common flu is a dilution of duck liver. A 200C dilution to be precise, which is 1 part of duck liver in 100^200 parts of water. Now assuming that there is 1 molecule of duck liver, how much water would you need to achieve that degree of dilution?
No. of mols of water required = 100^200 / 6.02 x 10^23
= 1.66 x 10^376 mols
Weight of water required = 1.66 x 10^376 x 18g
= 3.00 x 10^377g
= 3.00 x 10^374kg
How much space would that amount of water fill?
Answer: 3.00 x 10^371 metres cube of space
That's the amount of water needed to fill a sphere with the radius of 4.15 x 10^123 metres. To put things into perspective, the greatest distance possible between the sun and Pluto, our furthest planet (or ex-planet) in the solar system is 5,906,376,272,000 metres. That's 5.92 x 10^12 metres. Wow! A sphere the size of our entire solar system is not sufficient to hold the amount of water needed to create a 200C homeopathic remedy for the common flu! Essentially, this means that there's no duck liver in your homeopathic remedy at all! Not even a single molecule of duck liver.
And for those who still attempt to defend homeopathy by appealing to have an open mind, how's this for a dose of reality from The Lancet?
"110 homoeopathy trials and 110 matched conventional-medicine trials were analysed...............
Biases are present in placebo-controlled trials of both homoeopathy and conventional medicine. When account was taken for these biases in the analysis, there was weak evidence for a specific effect of homoeopathic remedies, but strong evidence for specific effects of conventional interventions. This finding is compatible with the notion that the clinical effects of homoeopathy are placebo effects. "
So dear readers, it should be obvious to you by now that the only claim homeopathy can live up to is the claim that it is safe and has no side effects. This is because a homeopathic remedy is actually water. Do not think that just because a form of alternative medicine is very popular, has a long history, or is endorsed by the government means that it's effectiveness for in the UK, homeopathy is funded by their National Health Service.