Homeopathy: How 200-Year-Old Junk Science Created Junk Medicine and Lasted Until This Day
Not too long ago, homeopathic formulas were only sold in health food stores. You might have seen them: Little blue vials with tiny little pills in them. You might have thought good things come in small packages. Then homeopathy hit the mainstream, and became available in just about every drugstore. One of its biggest selling points is the lack of side effects, the way it works naturally with your body, how clinically effective it is. The lack of side effects is true enough—because there are no effects, other than placebo ones. A recent study out of Australia definitively stated that homeopathy is not an effective treatment for any medical condition.
After reviewing 225 research papers on homeopathy, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has seemingly closed the case for using homeopathic treatments. Although not, it appears for everyone. Those “medicines” are still on the shelves, and there are still people who swear by them. And there are still more people who think that the debunking of homeopathy is likely some plot.
The foundation for the “science” of homeopathy is so bizarre it bears closer examination. The idea is that you treat a disease by ingesting tiny amounts of a substance that in larger amounts will cause those very symptoms. For instance, if you are trying to treat sleeplessness, you might try a homeopathic agent composed of tiny dilutions of coffee or a coffee-like substance. Homeopaths refer to this as treating “like with like,” also known as the law of similars. Samuel Hahnemann, a German doctor, founded homeopathy over 200 years ago. His goal was noble enough; he was searching for a way to treat patients less harshly than the treatments of his day, which often included bloodletting, leeching, purging, and harsh poisons like arsenic. He believed that disease was actually an itch, a disturbance in the ability of the body to heal itself, a suppressed “evil spirit” he called psora.