The Lancet bravely takes on the job of showing what a load of nonsense is the belief that homeopathy “works” in any provable way.

The published study (of which the link above is to the summary abstract) uses conventional scientific methods to show that there is no clinical effect from homeopathic treatments, and that the effects are fully consistent with placebo effects.

Of course any person with even the mildest understanding of the “basis” of homeopathy knows that the trial was not really needed, since homeopathy cannot, almost by definition, have a clinical effect in many cases. How can “nothing” do “something”? Those potions and pills gullible fools pay huge amounts of money for do not, usually, contain any active substance… (e.g. this description, along with another entirely unproved “theory of how it might actually work”…)

Pop over to the BBC’s Horizon test to see homeopathy being debunked. Then go and read about the 2001 mass-suicide attempt in Belgium.

There’s so much nonsense out there about homeopathy that it’s hard to know where to start or indeed finish, but I came across this quote at http://www.homeopathic.org (they are quoting an article in the South China Post a few years ago) I thought it worth reproducing because in one short item it sums up the madness:

Homeopathy seeks to treat patients by administering a small dose of a homeopathic preparation that should make a healthy person suffer similar symptoms to those the patient is suffering from. For example, if someone were suffering from diarrhoea, the homeopathic remedy would be a tiny amount of a laxative.

But why? On what basis? Nope? OK, carry on then:

Further, two individuals suffering from the same disease might be prescribed different regimen if the symptoms they suffer are different. For example, bronchitis in one person may result in coughing, fever and sweating, while in another person it may bring on wheezing, fatigue and shortness of breath. So in homeopathy, symptom analysis is the key to successful prescription.

And how is this different from what any real doctor would do exactly? Moving on:

The potency of the remedy prescribed depends on the dilution factor of active substances to inactive base, such as water and alcohol. Most practitioners feel it is almost impossible to overdose on homeopathic remedies because they are highly diluted.

That paragraph really cracks me up, and neatly encapsulates the nonsense of homeopathy. What does it say to us…?

  1. Potency depends on dilution. I call bullshit in the absence of any plausible explanation.
  2. Impossible to overdose. Well we’re agreed there! As the failed suicidees in Belgium found, it ain’t going to harm you one bit.
  3. An overdose of any conventional drug (or bleach, or alcohol, or coffee, or…) is caused by consuming too much of it. So that the effect is too potent, no? Yet we are asked to believe that the more potent a homeopathic drug is, the less possibility there is of overdose.

Homeopathy is just another quack treatment, although I accept that many of the practioners and most (all?) of the patients genuinely are deluded. Just as with all other quackery, charalatans and cons, homeopathy is “different” – it doesn’t need to follow the normal rules. It can flout the laws of science. It can work contrary to every shred of common sense and evidence. It’s “special”, you see…?

Well, I’m off now to quaff a dose of highly potent arsenic (also known as water).

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