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Is homeopathy a proven science?

Hi again people!

This is yet another question to which i have to get definitive answers. 

Is Homeopathy a proven science?

Alternate medicines like homeopathy, Ayurveda are so common in my country, that most people tend to believe them blindly and are ready to take "medicines" from them for all kinds of problems, from Not-really-worth-bothering stuff like common cold, to moderate stuff like diabetes, and even extreme life threatening cases like cancer.

To be honest, even i didn't bother looking into them much and few years back, i thought MAYBE it does work, after all so many people take it. But in my recent years, i have developed a condition known as psoriasis, so i had to start bothering as most people force me to take these medicines, as thus far, "Allopathy" does not have treatment to this condition. But alternative medicines claim they do. i was getting a little skeptical. When i started really questioning stuff, i didn't get quite satisfactory answers. Doing a little research on my own, i have seen videos from one of my favourite intellect, Prof.Richard Dawkins. He says that homeopathy is mostly bogus. When i question this to the people around me, specially the elders, they just throw it out of the window, and tell me that i am too young to understand stuff, and people who claim things know nothing about these kind of stuff. It is the same in case of Ayurveda.

How far are these claims true? Is homeopathy(Alternative medicine in general) a bogus? If that is the case, then why is it so famous? Why is the community adopting it despite all this? Or have i misunderstood the concept? Do pardon me if my question was too long :)

Many modern treatments started in homeopathic treatments.
Opium to morphine
Curare for one and Belladonna or Deadly Nightshade used as an anesthetic going back to the middle ages.
Called witchcraft and voodoo at times homeopathy was frowned upon by the church.
To tell the truth the only reason homeopathy is not wider spread is three reasons.
1 production, they can’t make enough to treat everyone.
2 patents, can’t patent natural products in short can’t patent a recipe.
3 the placebo effect, some treatments need you to believe.
My wife was dealing with postpartum depression the antidepressant she was prescribed had bad side effects when she switched to St Johns whort and she felt much better.
Are you confusing "homeopathy" with "naturopathy"? The latter involves the use of unrefined or non-synthetic drugs derived directly from plants, as with your examples, along with yew bark (-> aspirin), eucalyptus, aloe vera, etc.

The former, homeopathywhich is what the OP was asking about, involves the use of similarity magic and belief in nonphysical water memory, in particular through the use of > 10-24 dilutions (i.e., where there is less than one molecule of the original solute present).
Curare and Belladonna or Deadly Nightshade you cut it like there is no tomorrow.

Curare and Belladonna are a poison to a healthy person but diluted it is a treatment to the sick.

I believe that is homeopathy.
Well, there's dilution and there's homeopathic "dilution." Belladonna is used therapeutically now as a pain reliever, in few-milligram dosage. The amount in the raw plant is much higher than that, so yes, it's diluted by a factor of 100 to 1000. Similarly for other active ingredients as you mention.

Homeopathy deals with dilutions of 1,000,000,000,000 to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.
You are pushing the dilution to the extremes some homeopathic dilutions are as low as 3 and some are as high as 1000. Some homeopathic dilutions even go as high as 1x10-30 but not all homeopathic dilutions are high.

In the case of pure Curare one of the most deadly toxins on earth, the amount that would fit on the head of a pin touching your skin will kill you in seconds. So in its case a high dilution is prudent.

He also asked about alternative medicines like homeopathy and that would be naturopathy like the St Johns whort which I mentioned.

You are right at the extreme dilutions like writing the prescription on a piece of paper and pining it to their coat.

Not a joke some homeopathic treatments are just that, however I am not talking about voodoo.
Sorry, can you point me toward homeopathic remedies with such sensible dilutions?

What I have found is that the "standard unit" in professional homeopathy is called "C", and refers to a 1:100 dilution. Typical preparations are no less than 6C, and usually more like 8C to 12C (the latter being the 10-24 I like to quote, since it is approximately Avogadro's number).

Sensible preparations, such as you quote (for things like St. John's wort, chamomille, and other "herbal remedies") are comparable to standard medicines (milligrams to 100's of milligrams of the active ingredient, mixed with a binder to make pills). At least in the U.S. those preparations are labelled "herbal" or "naturopathic", not "homeopathic."
Avo's # is 6.02X10^47 times larger than your supposed approximation and is a whole number not a fraction. By using just magnitude of the factor as a comparison your approximation is still off by a factor of 16.02 times that number. If you were 16x taller would that be approximately your height? NO! Cmon man use the brain cells.
Sorry. Avogadro's number is 6.02 x 1023 (the most recent CODATA value is 6.02214129(27) x 1023 mol-1, where the value in parentheses is the standard deviation on the last two quoted digits). A homeopathic value of 12C corresponds to a dilution of 10-24, which means less than one molecule of the original solute per mole (18 g) of water.

I use my brain cells all the time. I get paid good money to do so, unlike the homeopaths, and apparently some others.
Curate isn't a poison though it's a paralysing agent. It suppresses the voluntary nervous system but leaves the autonomic alone afair.
First of all you are mistaken about the autonomic, one of the common usages of Curare is during abdominal surgery it stops the intestines from wriggling around like a bucket of worms while you are trying to stich them back together, and the intestines are not the voluntary nervous system.

I would have to check because I don’t know where Curate comes from but Curare from the poison arrow frog used for a thousand years as poison darts and poison arrows. Ok maybe you typoed, but it is called a neurotoxin and the science is called toxicology.
Warfarin in low dose is a blood thinner given to those prone to clots, it's also Rat poison! It's a dose issue or concentration issue. You can drink enough water to kill you but just the right amount keeps you in tip top shape. This is not Homeopathy. This is people not seeing the forest for the trees.
Aspirin; willow bark tea, goes all the way back to before Christ.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspirin
There are so many things wrong with your question..... In science nothing is ever proven, ever! With that said, is Homeopathy a science? Actually nothing "IS" a science. There is the scientific method which is used as a tool in experimentation.
I think what you are asking is, if there is scientific evidence, via testing, that supports the claims of Homeopathic remedies. As such each remedy would have to be tested individually using the established scientific method of the double blind placebo test used in medicine to determine if a treatment is effective, is not effective, or is the placebo effect. Theses tests are then analyzed using statistics to see if the results are significant using a large enough sample to approximate the population.
I bet a couple of remedies out there might be effective, but without a way big Pharm can capitalize on the remedy they'd rather you think all home remedies are bogus.
A lot of the home remedies and anecdotal evidence may be due to placebo effects which are in and of itself powerful and based on the power of belief. Belief that the remedy will work. Don't forget that nature and plants in particular, are natures medicine cabinet. Many of the chemicals we call medicines were extracted or derived from plant based organic chemicals as the basis. So some herbal remedies may in fact work. To me the best Homeopathy is eating properly nutritious food. Food (plants and animals) as medicine or preventative medicine is sadly a forgotten art that is making a comeback based on our current food culture and scientific knowledge. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" But in modern medicine often the drugs just mitigate symptoms and don't cure the underlying cause. Antibiotics being a huge exception and they are the single most important set of drugs ever created. I wouldn't want a homeopathic prescription for a staph infection, but for a cold? sure why not? it cant hurt and if i believe it will help it just might! with statistics to support this.
The question is “Alternate medicines like homeopathy” not just homeopathy. And specifically Ayurveda. (The generic term for traditional medicine in India.)

 http://www.britannica.com/search?query=Ayurveda

So in truth the question is about traditional medicine.

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/270182/homeopathy

Nothing about water memory here.

Where are you going to get the toxins and other substances from?

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/02/venom/holland-text

http://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/none/source-our-cures-new-pharmaceutical-company-wants-prov

By the way I agree water memory is fuddle doddle. However that doesn’t change the fact pharmaceutical companies get their drug ideas from homeopathy, naturopathy, and other traditional medicines.

A quote from the National Geographic article.

“We aren’t talking just a few novel drugs but entire classes of drugs,” says National Geographic Society Emerging Explorer Zoltan Takacs, a toxicologist and herpetologist. So far, fewer than a thousand toxins have been scrutinized for medicinal value, and a dozen or so major drugs have made it to market. “There could be upwards of 20 million venom toxins out there waiting to be screened,” Takacs says. “It’s huge. Venom has opened up whole new avenues of pharmacology.”

This article is more on the origin of modern pharmaceuticals not homeopathy in of its self specifically Venom. Many modern treatments started in homeopathic and other traditional medicine treatments.

Opium
Belladonna or Deadly Nightshade.
Curare from both plants and animals.
leeches to treat reattached limbs and maggots to debris wounds.
Digoxin or digitalis a traditional herbal remedy from the foxglove plant.
And many more.

Modern pharmaceutical companies are in the business of making a profit.
See orphan drugs

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orphan_drug

https://www.scripps.edu/philanthropy/landing/sem/2011-07/orphan_diseases.php?origin=ggdisorphan

http://www.fda.gov/ForIndustry/DevelopingProductsforRareDiseasesConditions/default.htm

You cannot paten a plant or animal.

See US Patent Office and Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

http://patft.uspto.gov/

http://www.cipo.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/Home?OpenDocument

However pharmaceutical companies can paten synthetic forms of the active ingredient in the homeopathy or other traditional medicines. See US Patent Office and Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

So Modern pharmaceutical companies travel around the world finding homeopathic, naturopathic, and traditional medicines.

See

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/02/venom/holland-text

Locate the active ingredient, synthesize the active ingredient, and patent it so they can profit from their research. Then the source becomes proprietary knowledge.

See

http://thesaurus.com/browse/proprietary+knowledge

So you won’t find links to homeopathic treatments that work because it is proprietary knowledge. 

You are already taking homeopathic, naturopathic, and traditional medicines, so they must work in the hands of a good practitioner.
It was you that asked me for links wasn’t it?

Go to the full article the second link for more in-depth information.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/02/venom/holland-text

Quote from this article

“Venom-based cures aren’t a new idea. They show up, for example, in Sanskrit texts from the second century A.D., and around 67 B.C. Mithradates VI of Pontus, an enemy of Rome who dabbled in toxicology, was supposedly saved twice on the battlefield by shamans who administered steppe viper venom to his wounds. (Crystallized venom from the snakes is now a medical export from Azerbaijan.) Cobra venom, applied for centuries in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, was introduced to the West in the 1830s as a homeopathic pain remedy. John Henry Clarke’s Materia Medica, published around 1900, describes the venom as alleviating many ills, even those caused by venom. “We should always endeavour to use the same drug to cure as produced the symptoms,” the author wrote. Clinical applications of carefully diluted cobra venom included “Angina pectoris. Asthma. Dysmenia. Hay-fever. Headache. Heart, affections of. Oesophagus, spasmodic stricture of. Ovaries, affections of. Plague ... Throat, sore.” But be careful, it was noted: “The curative dose [is] just within the limit of the pathogenetic dose.” Walking such a fine line, physicians of old likely hastened patients’ deaths as often as—or more often than—they prolonged their lives.”

I do believe the word in bold is homeopathic.

By the way I agree water memory is fuddle doddle.

However that doesn’t change the fact pharmaceutical companies get their drug ideas from homeopathy and other natural treatments.

A quote from that article.

“We aren’t talking just a few novel drugs but entire classes of drugs,” says National Geographic Society Emerging Explorer Zoltan Takacs, a toxicologist and herpetologist. So far, fewer than a thousand toxins have been scrutinized for medicinal value, and a dozen or so major drugs have made it to market. “There could be upwards of 20 million venom toxins out there waiting to be screened,” Takacs says. “It’s huge. Venom has opened up whole new avenues of pharmacology.”

This article is more on the origin of modern pharmaceuticals not homeopathy in of its self specifically Venom.

Many modern treatments started in homeopathic treatments.
Opium
Belladonna or Deadly Nightshade.
Curare from both plants and animals.
leeches to treat reattached limbs and maggots to debris wounds.
Digoxin or digitalis a traditional herbal remedy from the foxglove plant.
And many more.

Modern pharmaceutical companies are in the business of making a profit and to profit from their research they need to paten.

See orphan drugs
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orphan_drug
https://www.scripps.edu/philanthropy/landing/sem/2011-07/orphan_diseases.php?origin=ggdisorphan
http://www.fda.gov/ForIndustry/DevelopingProductsforRareDiseasesConditions/default.htm

You cannot paten a plant or animal.

See US Patent Office and Canadian Intellectual Property Office.
http://patft.uspto.gov/
http://www.cipo.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/Home?OpenDocument

However pharmaceutical companies can paten synthetic forms of the active ingredient in the homeopathy or naturopathy treatment.

See US Patent Office and Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

So Modern pharmaceutical companies travel around the world finding homeopathic or naturopathic treatments,
See
http://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/storm_watch_stories3&stormfile=Venom__The_bite_that_heals_05_02_2013?ref=ccbox_weather_topstories

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/02/venom/holland-text

Locate the active ingredient, synthesize the active ingredient, and patent it so they can profit from their research.

Then the source becomes proprietary knowledge.

See

http://thesaurus.com/browse/proprietary+knowledge

So you won’t find links to homeopathic treatments that work because it is proprietary knowledge.

Unlike Wikipedia all my links work and none are self-referencing.

You are already taking homeopathic or naturopathic treatments so how can you say they don’t work?


Today they use leeches to treat reattached limbs and maggots to debris wounds, even parasites to treat obesity. These are all treatments from the middle ages.
Yes. I'm not sure what your conclusion is, though. If you're saying, "This medieval treatment is good, therefore all medieval treatments are good," then you're expressing a logical fallacy, and are simply wrong.

If you're saying, "This medieval treatment is good, and therefore not all medieval treatments are bad," then you are quite correct. And the obvious follow-on conclusion is that where such treatments seem promising, they should be studied, and clear evidence provided to show that they are both successful and also not harmful.
There you go again pushing things to the extreme and not realizing you contradict yourself. It's not black, it's not white, it is grey.
Sorry, Joseph, but there was no extremity there.

The only questions remaining about homeopathy are "why do people still fall for this?" and "why are the perpetrators of homeopathy not behind bars for fraud, trade descriptions offenses and culpable negligence?".
Not a crime when they tell you what is in it.

Selling water not a crime.

You are right at the extreme dilutions like writing the prescription on a piece of paper and pining it to their coat, but not a crime.
It is when they tell you that something is there when it is physically impossible for it to be there, and when it does not do what they claim it does.
Not impossible improbable.
Who’s to say the bottle you got is the one out of a swimming pool that has the one molecule.
Closer to one in an ocean.
Qcks2 years ago
Ehh.... to reply to the Original Poster, no homeopathic medicine is not a proven science. It relies on an idea, rather then observed results, to dictate methodology.

As for why that's the case, there's many reasons, but it's worth noting that Homeopathy is different the naturopathy, which is distinct from Ayurvedic Medicine, which is distinct from Chinese medicine, which is distinct from herbalism, which... etc.

Each has it's own way of looking at things, and, sometimes, those points of view do have some legitimate basis in reality.

The thing you have to be careful of is when the ideology doesn't help, or when it actively does harm.

Mercury is a homeopathic treatment. In said treatment, it's very dilute, but mercury isn't going to help with any medical procedure. it's a cumulative toxin.
charmquark (author)  Qcks2 years ago
Of course, you are right! But i was just curious. :)
it's a cumulative toxin.

....no, it has a half life of 2 weeks in the body. It doesn't bio-accumulate. And metallic mercury just passes right on through. Some organic forms, like methyl mercury WILL kill you, and in short order.
*ahem* That means that multiple daily doses (typical in woowoo medecine) will cause the mercury to build up at a far faster rate than it is excreted.

IIRC, mercury in quack medicines is usually in the form of salts, which *can* bio-accumulate (cf Minimata Disease).
Yes well, that's true of course, c.f. Quin Xi Hua, first emperor of China.

AFAIR, wasn't Minimata disease Methyl Mercury from seed preservatives ?
It was a mercury compound (could have been methyl) released over time into a Japanese bay - the locals were poisoned by eating shellfish that had accumulated the mercury. Some of the most traumatic effects were on unborn and newborn children.
Factory polluting with MethylMercury. You'd be hard pressed to get more poisonous than methylmercury
Goodhart2 years ago
Homeopathy can be compared to placing a grain of sand on the beach. Does it help? For instance, one simple treatment for headache early on was chewing white willow bark. Aceta-cylic acid has part of it's name taken form the original name of the tree. It helped marginally. Bair extracted the juices originally to make the first aspirins, but it was latery synthesized and put into a usable concentraton.
ironically, homeopathy is actually more easily compared to saying you placed a grain of sand on the beack, but not actually placing a grain of sand on the beach.

in any homeopathic "solution" the likelyhood of actually getting a dose that contains even a single molecule of the "active" ingredient is zero. at least if you placed a grain of sand on the beach, you'd know you had put at least one grain of sand on the beach
In any case, even if "the grain of sand" is accepted as an analogy, the single grain will NOT keep the beach from washing away in the storm.
sure, i'm just saying that even using a grain of sand for the analogy is off by an order of magnitude from the reality of homeopathy.

most people don't grasp the scale of the problem of homeopathy. it's not "there's not enough active ingredient to do anything" it's "there is quite literally almost zero chance of there being any active ingredient anywhere near the stuff you're taking". and that's not even involving a homeopath telling you a lie. it's not someone telling you they're giving you an asprin and really giving you a sugar pill, there being NONE of the active ingredient in the stuff you're taking is the whole point of homeopathy, it's the thing that they claim makes it effective.
I understand. Even those that don't promote homeopathy, but suppliments, make vital and severe errors in judgement many times.

The advice to take Vit. C when you have a cold.....time after time it has been shown to have little or no effect. In fact, a placebo, taken with the belief that it will work, worked BETTER than the Vit C overall.
charmquark (author)  Goodhart2 years ago
Yes, what i have understood thus far. Placebo seems rather interesting and homeopathy seems to be taking a hell lot of advantage of this. Unfortunately, not everyone seems to grasp the concept. Too bad. They are just getting ripped off. :(
lemonie2 years ago
The concise answer is "No."

L
Kiteman lemonie2 years ago
TL:DR

;-)
blkhawk2 years ago
On the same subject we could include reflexology, naturopathy, chiropractic medicine, faith healing, acupuncture and hypnotherapy. There is also a modern form of mesmerism that claims to use magnets in order to heal.
kelseymh2 years ago
The answer is no, and it is very easy to see why. Homeopathy involves apply successive, large dilutions of a substance with pure (distilled) water. For example, if you see a homeopathic "remedy" labeled "12C" dilution, that means that it was diluted to 1:100 concentration, then that was diluted again 1:100, and so on twelve times. That means the total dilution is 1:1024. Since, for example, 16 millilitres of water contains only 1024 molecules, a 12C dilution contains effective nothing from the original material! It's pure water, plain and simple.

Homeopathy is purely and completely an appeal to magic. People really really really want to believe in magic, because that means they don't have do expend any effort to make changes, they can just wish it to be so.
charmquark (author)  kelseymh2 years ago
Yes, even that is what i have understood thus far. I don't understand why this is so hard to see for other people. I have tried to tell this to people around me, and like i have replied to kiteman, in vain. I am dismissed like a foolish child. It makes me so annoyed. -_-
I think some people don't like the idea of taking pharmaceuticals, they would rather take something "natural". And like Kiteman says, if it works it is due to the placebo effect -which reinforces their belief in these natural treatments.
Kiteman2 years ago
Short answer: no.

The only measurable effect in homeopathy is placebo.

Think about it: if water could retain an active "memory" of chemicals that used to be in it, then every sip of water would taste of dinosaur pee, and poison you with the dissolved minerals of the deepest rocks.

If that doesn't convince, then start at Ben Goldacre's Bad Science website, and read what a proper doctor says about it.
charmquark (author)  Kiteman2 years ago
Yup, i have read about that in many places. Unfortunately, i am the only one in my family who thinks that. My whole family see this question as that of a child's fantasy.
So, read around the subject, become familiar with the evidence, and with the arguments of those who support homeopathy.

You need to present a calm, organised case.
charmquark (author)  Kiteman2 years ago
Which, so far i have tried and failed, just like the old days. I have given up convincing people around me. It is so annoying when i try to present them evidence calmly, and try to invoke thought by asking question and proposing theories, but unfortunately, all in vain.