The controversy around homeopathy

The issues with homeopathy arise from ethics or rather the lack of them in the field. After all, it is nothing but a lie, advertized with a “medicine” label, that is treated seriously by many patients who trust doctors who promote it for profits. The idea behind homeopathy, invented by Samuel Hahnemann, is an absurd claim that the substance causing an illness in a healthy person, would cure the same symptoms it caused in a sick person. We can only wonder how many deaths and health complications could be avoided if patients received proper treatments, if they only did not trust the charlatans. How many children are not properly treated because of their parents, lacking knowledge, providing them “alternative treatments”? Sadly, a lot.

Manufacturers of homeopathic medicine have no legal obligation to provide any proof of the medicine being effective. The only requirements, besides the external or oral use, is for the dilution to be high enough so that the contents are not harmful and the label cannot suggest any specific therapeutic use or effectiveness. Basically, any pill with nothing but sugar is fine enough to be labeled and as “homeopathic medicine”.

Additionally, the dilution usually is so high, the actual compound practically is not contained in the solution. Unsurprisingly, the effectiveness of homeopathic treatments does not exceed placebo effect. Why would it, if it does not have to work to be legally sold?

Placebo does have its own benefits and is often actually useful, especially for patients with psychosomatic symptoms, chronic or terminal illnesses that are not treatable anymore by conventional medicine. But is it worth it? Even in those cases, there are many more way better alternatives to try. Patient’s mental well being is an important factor that plays a big role in limiting the symptoms caused by chronic stress, loneliness etc., so the mere thought of being treated by a doctor, having newly acquired false sense of control over the situation, may be somewhat helpful, but those things could also be addressed by professionals who practice physiotherapy, nutrition, herbalism, and other approaches that are actually proven to be effective and benefiting for overall quality of life, beyond simply “believing” in doing better.

I have noticed that some patients are simply too aggressive and self-obsessed, and the doctors have no better way to deal with them than to say “oh, you poor thing, here, have this super awesome medication” and prescribe homeopathic bullshit. While understandable, that it is difficult to deal with such patients, I don’t think that lying to them is the best option. As hard as it is, knowing that most patients will not respond nicely to this, they should be straight-forwardly told that they need psychological care, and there is nothing physically wrong with them. Or, they should be sent to a dietetitian to improve their diet, and be told to exercise more, and sleep better. Otherwise it will still be only perpetuating the lies (those patients will later spill the tea on the internet, that “a real doctor told them it’s super powerful, so it must be true”) and be an ineffective patchwork on a patient, that probably has harmful lifestyle and requires some help to improve their well being.

There is still a lot of research being done on homeopathy, and I highly approve of thorough testing and collecting data, but it should not be sold to ill people who need help and pointlessly waste money on unproven methods. Volunteers for clinical trials should be informed about all of this before they agree to be “treated” by ineffective “medicines”. People deserve to be aware of the risks associated with treatments they are being subjected to. In some cases patients sign a document stating that they have been informed of potential concequences of the chosen treatment. This should be applied not only for use of dangerous protocols, but also for the ones simply not working and based on wishful thinking. This is the only way to keep human testing ethical. After all, as studies show, patients relying on alternative medicine have on average 250% chance of dying, compared to patients relying on Evidence Based Medicine.

See also:

  1. Medicinal products in the European Union – The legal framework for medicines for human use
  2. Homeopathy – a critique of current clinical research (CSI)
  3. Selling falsehoods? A cross-sectional study of Canadian naturopathy, homeopathy, chiropractic and acupuncture clinic website claims relating to allergy and asthma.
  4. Homeopathy; what’s the harm?
  5. Homeopathy: The Ultimate Fake
  6. Use of homeopathy kills child
  7. A Not-So-Gentle Refutation of the Defence of Homeopathy
  8. Are the clinical effects of homoeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homoeopathy and allopathy
  9. Clinical trials of homeopathy

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