Complementary and alternative medicine Humor Medicine Quackery

Instructions on how to be a homeopathic bioterrorist…

… are here.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure that Paul quite understands how homeopathy supposedly works. He’s gotten the claim that dilution and succussation make a substance more potent right, but I think he’s misinterpreted the homeopathic principle of “like cures like.” (As I’ve pointed out before, this concept is no more than an adaptation of sympathetic magic.) Instead, he’s generalized in homeopathy that the diluted substance causes the opposite of its usual effect. This is not quite the full story. In homeopathy, the cure for a symptom or illness is indeed usually something that causes the same sorts of symptoms. The problem is that vitamin C doesn’t cause any symptoms like those of scurvy–or any symptoms at all except at extremely high doses. Under the principles of homeopathy, that would make it in essence useless as a homeopathic remedy. Also, since scurvy is caused by the lack of vitamin C, it’s hard to see how homeopathic vitamin C can cure it. Remember, in homeopathy, symptoms are all. There is no concept of biochemical mechanisms by which disease can occur; consequently in homeopathy what vitamin C does at a biochemical level is irrelevant to determining whether it can be an effective remedy. Only the symptoms it can cause (or not cause) matter.

I could be wrong in my interpretation, though. The whole “like cures like” bit in homeopathy is so ridiculous and prone to so many different interpretations that I don’t always know if I’m getting it right.

Perhaps my readers could come up with better examples of how to be a homeopathic terrorist. I’ll start.

Take magnesium citrate or, even better, Go-Lytely. Dilute it homeopathically to 30C with proper succussation. Because these are both purgatives that will cause diarrhea in a person who is not constipated, under homeopathic principles, we would expect that homeopathic dilutions of these substances would be the cure for a patient suffering from diarrhea. In a healthy population, though, this would be a disaster. Everyone would become seriously constipated and “toxic” from their constipation. If they didn’t get colon cleanses forthwith they’d all become sick and many would die.

Damn. I have to be careful. So do you, as the power is in your hands to come up with more examples of how to be a homeopathic terrorist. I just hope this post doesn’t result in the FBI knocking on my door. Just in case, though, I’ll end by saying: Guys, it’s a joke. Go find out what homeopathy is and you’ll see why.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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