Homeopathy - beneficial or useless?

Discussion in 'Every Day Debating' started by Mububban, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. Kelmourne

    Kelmourne The Savage Hippy

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    Homeopathy is regulated so poorly and is so inconsistent in it's characteristics that I'd say some of it actually works, alot of it doesn't, alot of it works but less so than it claims to, some of it is just good nutrition and not really a medicine, and alot of it works as a placebo.

    Daily tablespoons of Cinnamon and Honey as a cold remedy is considered homeopathy and it reduced the duration and significantly reduced the severity of my last cold.

    I also hung a crystal around my neck for a couple of days and I felt no noticeable health benefits.
     
  2. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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  3. Druid of Lûhn

    Druid of Lûhn The Little Lamb.

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    From reading “Bad Science” by Ben Goldcare, I can tell you that in itself it is useless, but that it induces a very strong placebo effect, thus working (but it has the same effect as taking void pills).
     
  4. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    From a pharmalogical standpoind, homeopathy is placebo - but more on that later.

    This is a common mistake. Dutch law (I'm pretty sure it was derived from European law) makes distinction between homeopathy and phytotherapy. Whilst it isn't technically phytotherapy (remedies based on plants or plant parts), the description comes closest. Commercial phytotherapy, however, knows some regulations - about effectiveness and medical claims, for instance. Homeopathy has much less strict regulation, which means it's cheaper and easier to market phytotherapies as homeopathy.

    True homeopathy is so outlandish that I don't feel it deserves any serious attention - if you know what it is. It's based on a believe that water holds a memory for elements it once held. It claims that by dissolving a poison (pathogen) in water, and diluting the mixture down to a point that there is (practically) only water left, the water will remember the poison and eliminate it from the human body once ingested. And it's not even that - the pathogen doesn't even have to be the same as the patient suffers from - so long as the symptoms match those of the poison. Arsenic is on of the favourites. Knowing its premise and the extensive testing it underwent, I would say that true homeopathy equals religion.

    Circumstantial evidence :)

    One of the problems involved in these alternative medicine is that it is very hard to find a placebo (opposed to - say - a pill). It's an interesting subject, but I am yet to see any evidence in any direction where crystals are concerned...
     
  5. Druid of Lûhn

    Druid of Lûhn The Little Lamb.

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    For the water memory part, a girl at my school did her thesis on that two years ago (and she was one of the really bright ones).
    Apparently it was really bad because of the complete rubbish of the subject; she had nothing substantial to back up any of the claims, so in a way it was pretty disappointing for her.
     
  6. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    What confuses me is that natural water has SO many inputs already imposed upon it that surely if Homeopathy works I can just drink natural water and gain immunity from pretty much anything and everything. I totally get the placebo effect side, what I don't get is how it works in that even a very tiny amount of study renders it utterly blasted open. I can only assume that it preys upon a lack of formal education and the fact that "science" is like "maths" in that its one of those "really difficult" subjects that lots of kids don't get. (I also wonder - since many of these things tend to be bigger in the USA than in Europe if its a reflection of education systems more than anything else) .
     
  7. Blackness

    Blackness Well-Known Member

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    I used natural herbs and supplements which have had better effect than most pharmaceutical drugs. Most pharmaceutical drugs don't cure the cause, just the symptoms, so people with chronic illnesses have to be taking them their entire lives. That's not real medicine, that's profit hunting. Not that I'm saying anything against science and medicine, they are the top of humanity's intellectual development, but I do believe it has been hijacked by profit seekers and selfish men. Homeopathy is the same, profit seeking, quackery, but there are natural remedies that work.
     
  8. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    No doubt there are those who benefit more from phytotherapy more than from traditional drugs. That said, I don't think it's entirely fair to conclude that the pharmaceutical industry is profit hunting.

    And I am sorry, but I fail to recognise the "not curing cause". It's the sort of argument the aforementioned quack would use to market his product. If there are indeed natural herbs which appear to "cure disease in stead of symptom", I am quite sure it's a case of either mimicry of traditional medicine (or, quite likely, the other way around) - or repression by mechanisms unknown, most likely repressions of symptoms in the first place. Also, the question begs to be asked when a product stops being a natural herb or extract thereof - and start to become a traditional drug. Many drugs indeed started of by being the former, ending up being synthesized and brought into the main stream.

    A propos, the profit to be made comes at a high risk and a VERY long breath - something most profit seekers and/or selfish men won't dare to take. We are talking about some 10 years and around $ 10mln (early stage failure) - $ 1bln (high-end final stage failure) investments, with a success rate closer to 1 than 10%.
     
  9. Druid of Lûhn

    Druid of Lûhn The Little Lamb.

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    Water is good for you so it probably helps you in general, so through that it also helps your immune system.
    The main minerals that you find in water (that you drink; DON'T drink pure H<sub>2</sub>O) each have good effects if not found in too high quantities, so it is very possible that one or two of them are just good for your immune system.

    And out of all the things you wilfully ingest, water (at least tap-water) probably contains the most harmful bacteria, so in a way it's not water memory but simply the fact that the water does contain a bit of that. This is probably a stupid thing that I just made up.

    In the end, being healthy helps the immune system so that it may concentrate on whatever pathogen has entered your body. If you really want to help your immune system in that way; take vaccines. But be careful, as a vaccine is just a small amount of what it protects you against.
     
  10. Blackness

    Blackness Well-Known Member

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    I wasn't saying natural herbs always cure the cause, I was saying there are remedies, both pharmaceutical ones and not - which do that, yet others (for example proton pump inhibitors or certain corticosteroids, among many) are massively sold and often just perpetuate the problem while relieving the symptoms temporarily. That's why I call it profit hunting, but of course there are many pharma drugs which don't fall into the category, I didn't mean to generalize.

    That's a good question, but, let's take atropine for example, I'd still consider it natural, though it's mostly synthesized these days. As long as there's no difference in effect, it's the same thing. The thing is that humanity had centuries, or millennia, to test such drugs, whereas most pharmaceuticals are very new and their long term effects are unknown, even though they may have been extensively tested in the short term.
    As for the testing, it's mostly done in third world countries, and often at the price of human lives, who had no choice, and have to test random drugs for very little money, in order to feed their families. Deaths have occurred, with little or no compensation to their families. That's another aspect of the pharmaceutical industry's greed and profit hunting, but it's not as if it's the only industry to be doing that. But it's not an excuse, either.
     
  11. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    I don't think it's fair to say that pharmaceutical companies are profit-hunting because some drugs only help but not cure. (I don't disagree that they are profit-hunting BTW - they're big business so they have to be hunting profits or risk going bankrupt). Corticosteroids are a perfect example of that. Corticosteroids are often used against immune-mediated diseases and that encompasses everything from allergies right up to anemias, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. They're a blanket repair job: suppressing the whole immune system so it stops killing off the body. Do these drugs cure immune-mediated disease? No, but then there isn't anything that will consistently. Some people would be dead or severely debilitated if they didn't take them.

    The immune system is incredibly complex and science doesn't really know why it sometimes turns against the body it's supposed to protect. Probably, there isn't only one cause but a multitude of factors acting in combination. Possibly, there is a set combination of factors unique to each type of immune mediated disease. Puzzling out that kind of complexity and designing drugs to cure those diseases is darn near impossible and that isn't the fault of the pharmaceutical companies. Some diseases just cannot yet be cured because medical science just doesn't know enough about them.

    Alternative medicine therapies offer an alternate explanation for understanding illness, different from traditional medicine which is based in biology and chemistry mostly. From what I've read, many alternative medicine modalities seem to focus more on physics and understanding / manipulating the way energy is distributed in and around a body. Does it work? Not perfectly apparently or pharmaceutical companies / big business would be investing in it and we'd all be disease-free. :D

    Seriously though, I have to wonder if it's the mystery surrounding these therapies that people buy into. Medical drugs are extensively researched and studied, their side effects, success and failure rates are known and well-documented. There really isn't a whole lot of mystery surrounding traditional medicine really. Alternative medicine offers hope mixed up in all that mystery, especially when traditional medicine just can't fix it. I think that has to count for something valuable, whatever understanding a person has of what caused their illness in the first place.
     
  12. mtlhabs

    mtlhabs SIRE

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    I don't believe in Homeopathy, crock of BS. I do have a colleague who swears by it but I still think it's all placebo effect.
     
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