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Homeopathy has been gaining popularity around the world and is advocated by some eminent and well educated people. So is there something that is there beyond 'traditional medicine'? Or is it just a sham that refuses to die? Hint: Its the latter.

Homeopathic medicine is a misnomer of the most dangerous kind. By referring to it as medicine, it falsely gives the impression that there is some science behind the entire practice, while in fact the very practices described in their treatment protocols Contravene each and every basic fact that we know about "science". To put it simply, the major laws of physics and chemistry would have to be rewritten for the rationale behind homeopathy to be feasible.

So what exactly is homeopathy and where did it start? Most importantly, how did it become so popular?

Origins Of Homeopathy

The origins of homeopathy have been attributed to German physicist Samuel Hahnemann, who in the eighteenth century proposed the practice based on the principles of the "serial dilution" of drugs to increase their efficacy and the belief that "like cures like".

Homeopathic preparations are prepared by diluting the chosen substance repeatedly in distilled water or alcohol. Anyone with a basic knowledge of chemistry or just common sense knows that any molecule that is diluted will lose its efficacy, not gain potency. Think about it. Will a spoon of water with a set amount of salt in it be more salty to taste or a jug of water with the same amount of salt in it?

This is also the reason why these sugar pills have no side effects. Something which is not causing any difference to your body will have no observable side effect. If I give you nothing then you will obviously have nothing.

Similarly, the notion that "like cures like" has no scientific basis to it other than the fact that one person decided to say it arbitrarily with confidence. Homeopathy gained popularity because the prevailing medical practices at the time were much more severe. They involved bloodletting and other practices that probably caused more damage than do any good. Also, anesthesia was not invented and pain was a very real side effect of medical treatment and examination. 

People were fearful of going to the doctor and so homeopathy with its mild approach quickly gained favour. 

Our knowledge gained over the last two hundred years thanks to pioneering work of countless scientists in the field has proven without a shred of doubt that Hahnemann was not lucky enough to have stumbled on the basis of all diseases and their treatment. It is in fact a feature of science that it continues to evolve and improve with new knowledge and invites close introspection of its methods and practices.

Homeopathy has remained essentially unchanged over the last 200 years.

Why Do Patients On Homeopathic preparations Get Better?

The reasons for this are multifold and not one of them includes a magical universe where the result is actually due to homeopathic preparations.

Placebo Effect

Most people will be aware of the placebo effect, where the patients get better because they are under the impression that they are being treated. This is a very real and observable effect that unfortunately lasts for only a short amount of time. It is also unethical and illegal to be prescribing anything to a patient knowing it will not do any good and just hope for the placebo effect to take over.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • 1. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2008 Feb
  • 65(2): 163–164. The truth about homeopathy