Friday, November 9, 2007

IMBS's War on Everything: Homeopathy

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.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is wrong to say that Homoeopathy does not work. If somebody wishes to close his eyes and say that the world does not exist it is their choice. If one wants to be cured he may take to Homoeopathy other wise if somebody is fond stooping to the level of of eating shit, which language alone indicates their frustration and jealousy about the growing popularity of Homoeopathy they are free to eat the shit and in case the same is not available it may be imported to make the staple food of those who do not know the ABCD of a system but are out to disprove it by using the language generated out of their shit mentality - after the food one eats also affects ones mind !!!

Lim Leng Hiong said...

To Anon 3:19,

It is wrong to say that Homoeopathy does not work. If somebody wishes to close his eyes and say that the world does not exist it is their choice. If one wants to be cured he may take to Homoeopathy other wise if somebody is fond stooping to the level of of eating shit, which language alone indicates their frustration and jealousy about the growing popularity of Homoeopathy they are free to eat the shit and in case the same is not available it may be imported to make the staple food of those who do not know the ABCD of a system but are out to disprove it by using the language generated out of their shit mentality - after the food one eats also affects ones mind !!!

The assertion that homeopathy doesn't work is not only IMBS's personal opinion - it is supported by the study published in Lancet.

IMBS isn't the one closing his eyes to the world.

Anonymous said...

Homeopathy works.

It works because it shows an effect. This effect exists irrespective of whether you, or some other person, or even an author in Lancet, is able to explain how it works.

Two problems here:
1) The high-school math you use to show that there is not even a molecule left under dilution, is already well known. What if the molecule is not the basis of the cure ? You probably went chasing the wrong wild goose ! Is it Homeopathy's fault that you did ? :)
Well, high-school math doesn't cut it, as you have proven. It takes nothing less than a quantum mechanical explanation of homeopathy (PDF).

2) Problem #2 is the non-scientific methods used by conventional medicine. It insists that the same remedy should work the same way on two different people with the same "disease". And "disease" is defined by conventional medicine in a reductivist manner, ignoring the whole patient and looking mainly at a causative microbe, a virus or bacterium, whenever possible. That is not the approach of homeopathic treatment. So when conventional medicine men say that it does not work, what they are saying is "when I administer homeopathic remedies the way I administer allopathic remedies, it does not work". Oh yes, of course it will not ! You have to look at the patient as a whole in homeopathy.

Anonymous said...

I love that link that anonymous leaves for the quantum explanation for homeopathy, it made me giggle. If I am reading it right, it says that the molecules exist in none, and all of the flasks, and tunnel between them through time/space. cats also do this do they? I always wonder where he vanishes to.
if that was true it should be almost free for homeopathic meds as you could make trillions upon trillions of bottles for almost no ingredient cost (apart from water). I also think it funny that this offers an explanation that observation destroy's homeopathy effectiveness, what a way to get around the "no scienific evidence" thing.

jerry mohan said...

Homeopathy has stood the test of time and is superior to Allopathy symptom suppression with drugs for patients of chronic diseases.

Homeopathy remedies and diluted & potentized.

Homeopathy is the best for the cure of chronic diseases.
Homeopathy is based on principles:

i)The Law of Similars
ii)The Law of Cure
iii)Treat the Patient not the
Disease
iv)Theory of Miasms as the cause of chronic disease

jerry mohan said...

Samuel Hahnemann's gifts to modern medicine:

i)Classifications of diseases into Acute and Chronic

ii)Law of Similars is the principle on which vaccinations are carried out

iii)Hahnemann was the first to propound the genetic cause of chronic diseases in his Theory of Miasms

Anonymous said...

I visited a Pharmicist with a license to dispense medicine .I showed her the package of 200c Oscillococinum. I asked her if I should double up on the recommended dose since I was really sick or should I dilute it further to make it stronger.She read the instructions and said it would be dangerous to double up on the dose.I swallowed every pill in the in the the box in front of her .She turned white and i told her I would be back tomorrow if I live. She felt i should call the poison control center.I did not know eating ducks liver was that toxic.Upon returning the next day,she had a smile on her face(relief that i lived) I asked for a refund on the product because apparently this package did not contain one molecule of ducks liver.I will keep buying and returning until I get a package that has one molecule of the healing ducks liver.I will keep you informed when that day comes.

Anonymous said...

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