Does Homeopathy Work?
There are several homeopathic remedies on today's market for hemorrhoids, including active ingredients such as aesculus hippocastanum, hamaelis virginiana, peony, and even graphite! Just about every condition and disease you can think of has a homeopathic remedy.
Homeopathic clinics are also popping up pretty well everywhere, including small country towns of only a few thousand people.
The homeopathic practitioner is often quite friendly, understanding and professional, yet we doubt their ability to heal us.
Is this doubt in homeopathy justified?
The ongoing question for many is, does homeopathy work?
The scientific answer thus far would seem to be no.
While some relief may be found in homeopathic creams, this would appear to be due more to the soothing nature of the carrier ingredients than any effective active ingredient.
Most of the homeopathic hemorrhoid creams on the market today have apricot kernel oil, cocoa butter and glycerin as their carrier bases, and all of these things can soothe the itchy, burning skin associated with irritated external hemorrhoids without recourse to other chemicals or plant extracts.
As homeopathy doesn't work, you can always try the natural, alternative hemroid medicines that do work.
What is homeopathy?
Homeopathy as a medicinal system was first defined by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann in the nineteenth century, based on a personal experience he had with local malaria treatment in Africa.
The word "homeopathy" comes from Greek, translating roughly to "similar disease".
Practitioners of homeopathy state that any illness or disease can be treated by ingesting a dilution of a substance that will produce symptoms similar to the disease in a healthy person. In other words, if a plant or mineral substance makes you sneeze, then it should be used homeopathically to treat diseases that make you sneeze.
Many of the substances used in homeopathic remedies are so toxic that they would kill a human if ingested in their undiluted state.
Homeopaths believe that repeated dilution, accompanied by shaking between each dilution, removes the toxic effects of the remedy while the beneficial qualities are retained by the dilutent However, the end product is often so diluted that it cannot be proved to be anything but sugar, alcohol, or water, whichever was used to dilute the substance.
Homeopathy states that even if there are no molecules of the active ingredient to be found in the dilution, "properties" have been retained that make the dilution effective.
However, any chemical changes in either water or alcohol that are due to electron excitation vanish within picoseconds. If mere exposure of a substance to moving water were enough to transfer medicinal properties, all you have to do is drink your tap water.
Over any given molecule of water's history, it's been in moving contact with every substance on Earth.
Homeopathy concentrations for treatment appear too low
Chemistry as a science states quite clearly that there is a limit to how much any given substance can be diluted before it is lost entirely. The homeopathic dilution of 12C or 24X is equal to a dilution ratio of one part substance in 10 to the 24th power parts dilutents. That's ten with 24 zeros behind it.
At that point, any human being would have to ingest a huge amount of dilutent in order to be assured of ingesting one single molecule of the supposedly medicinal substance. The idea that this level of diluted substance could possibly be efficacious against disease goes against every law of chemistry and pharmaceuticals that science has managed to find to date.
One of the rules of pharmacy is that each and every medication has a minimum efficacious dose, and to administer a lower dose than the minimum will produce none of the desired effects in the patient.
To believe, therefore, that a dosage of water that has come into contact with but does not contain any molecules of a given substance will be medically effective is completely unfounded from an objective point of view.
Homeopathy did frequently work better than mainstream medicine in the 1800's, mostly because at least homeopathy did no harm.
Mainstream medicine in the Victorian era was horrific and frequently did more damage than it was supposed to help. So, in that time, a patient probably was better off going to a homeopathic doctor than a regular one, at least the homeopath wouldn't try a surgical procedure without understanding that bacterial infection could result!
However, mainstream medicine has progressed immensely since then, while homeopathy has not.
So, where did homeopathy come from?
Current evidence points to Victorian-era beliefs regarding contagion magic.
According to the theory of contagion magic, one substance, such as water, alcohol or sugar, can "pick up" properties from another substance by being in contact for a period of time, occasionally with a ritual involved to make sure that the transfer of desired properties takes place.
Belief in magic and spirituality was quite prevalent throughout all levels of society in the nineteenth century, and in fact was considered a part of science for a long time, but has since been disproved from a scientific standpoint.
Multiple scientific and clinical studies have been performed to test the efficacy of homeopathy.
These studies reflect that homeopathy does no more good than the placebo effect.
So, if you believe in magic, feel free to use homeopathic remedies for whatever you like.
Homeopathic remedies, when properly prepared, do no harm.
However, be aware that you are believing in what amounts to a magic spell, and that many countries do not test homeopathic remedies for purity of ingredients as closely as they test medications, if any tests are performed at all.
Now, just because homeopathic medicine does not work, does that mean that holistic medicine doesn't either?
Again, the answer is no.
Holistic medicine and homeopathic medicine are two totally different things.
Holistic medicine refers to a medical paradigm that takes the whole human being into account and treats a physical disease, its side effects and it's psychological effects all at the same time instead of dividing up the human body into parts like a machine.
Holistic medicine may use chemotherapy for cancer while using chamomile for the stomach upset that chemotherapy usually causes. In addition, to use the above example, holistic medicine would also focus on surrounding the cancer patient with a pleasant, soothing and restful environment.
Herbal medications also work verifiably, most of our modern prescription medications such as morphine and digoxin have their origins in plants like the opium poppy and foxglove, respectively.
Those herbal medications that are proven to be safe do actually have an effect.
Homeopathic Remedies in Conclusion
In short, investigation and common sense are usually enough to tell anybody whether a given alternative medical procedure or paradigm is worth following or not.
Education is the key to successfully treating hemorrhoids or any other medical condition.
Use this and any information you find to make the best decision on your condition.
Owing to the strong negative finding on the whole field of homeopathy, the following references have been included to show that this page has provided homeopathy with a fair and reasonable review.
"Dynamization and Dilution", Creighton University Department of Pharmacology. Retrieved on 2007-10-09.
"Similia similibus curentur (Like cures like)", Creighton University Department of Pharmacology. Retrieved on 2007-08-20.
Ernst E (2002). "A systematic review of systematic reviews of homeopathy". Br J Clin Pharmacol 54 (6): 577–82. PMID 12492603. Retrieved on 2008-02-12.
McCarney RW, Linde K, Lasserson TJ (2004). "Homeopathy for chronic asthma". Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (1): CD000353. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000353.pub2. PMID 14973954.
McCarney R, Warner J, Fisher P, Van Haselen R (2003). "Homeopathy for dementia". Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (1): CD003803. PMID 12535487.
Homeopathy results. National Health Service. Retrieved on 2007-07-25.
Report 12 of the Council on Scientific Affairs (A–97). American Medical Association. Retrieved on 2007-07-25.
Linde K, Jonas WB, Melchart D, Willich S (2001). "The methodological quality of randomized controlled trials of homeopathy, herbal medicines and acupuncture". International journal of epidemiology 30 (3): 526–531. PMID 11416076.
Johnson T, Boon H (2007). "Where does homeopathy fit in pharmacy practice?". American journal of pharmaceutical education 71 (1): 7. PMID 17429507.
Whorton, James C. (2004). Nature Cures: The History of Alternative Medicine in America. Oxford University Press, 49.
Questions and Answers About Homeopathy [NCCAM Research Report]. Retrieved on 2008-02-08.
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