Why You Can’t Trust Homeopathy…or Can You?

Via Rachel Znerold
on Jan 20, 2010
get elephant's newsletter

Picture 1Ok, I admit, sometimes I’m skeptical of these high-dollar, over-the-counter homeopathic remedies…fourteen dollars for a tiny vial of hope?!?  It reminds me of the old days, when they would sell mysterious tinctures that cured insomnia, ear aches, rashes and constipation, and a hundred years later, we discover that it was actually liquid cocaine. Nice.  Perfect for when little Johnny is teething.

But, that being said, I actually DO believe in the power of many natural herbs and plants to solve health problems, and if we can avoid taking a ton of prescription meds, it’s better for our bodies, right?  Well, now I’m really confused.

A new campaign out of the UK called 10:23 is asserting that homeopathic remedies are a huge hoax, and in many ways, are harmful to society. According to their website,

“Homeopathy is an unscientific and absurd pseudoscience, yet it persists today as an accepted complementary medicine.

Ask many people what they think homeopathy is, and you’ll be told “it’s herbal medicine” or “it’s all-natural”. Few realise that it’s been proven not to work; even fewer know it involves substances so dilute that there’s nothing left in them. Homeopathy takes advantage of this uncertainty to sit alongside real, proven medicines on the shelves of our major pharmacies.”

Not only are they boycotting homeopathic medicines, the 10:23 campaign is accusing them of being harmful, especially when they take the place of medicine that would actually help a patient.  Read over their ten reasons “Why You Can’t Trust Homeopathy” , watch a few videos (including “If Homeopathy Works, I’ll Drink My Own Piss”), and let me know what you think. Is this just western medicine trying to brainwash us? Is this like the whole Corn Syrup PR campaign? Or is there some truth to what they are saying?

Until then, I’ll just stick to eating an apple a day, and cross my fingers for good health. That can’t be bad for me, right?

Rachel Znerold is an artist and independent fashion designer living the good life in San Francisco, CA. www.rachelzart.com

Richard Dawkins: The Enemies of Reason


Crispian Jago: If Homeopathy Works, I’ll Drink My Own Piss


About Rachel Znerold

Growing up in the Colorado countryside, Rachel Znerold knew early on that she was different…she saw dazzling beauty in decomposing logs and expressed her individuality with wild drawings on her sneakers. Now, as a prolific painter, eco-fashion designer, performance artist and writer, Rachel makes a life out of making art. With a degree in Fine Art and Advertising from The University of Colorado in Boulder, Rachel began to pursue her art career full time. Aiming to share her awe of the world and the art of the everyday, she has taught painting, fashion design, and performance at a variety of schools, museums, and non-profits. Rachel has been commissioned to paint murals in Colorado, New Zealand and Mexico, and eventually landed in San Francisco, becoming a part of the Mission District’s vibrant art scene. Rachel believes art is instrumental in building strong community and a culture of social activism. www.rachelzart.com


21 Responses to “Why You Can’t Trust Homeopathy…or Can You?”

  1. Lindsay says:

    Wow. I didn't think elephant would get on the hoax bandwagon with this. I have used homeopathy almost exclusively my entire life. I have NEVER used antibiotics or vaccines, never had to. EVER. Homeopathy is a scientific proven when you understand the laws of vibration and the superconductivity of water. http://littlebirdsings.wordpress.com/2008/12/03/t… or http://littlebirdsings.wordpress.com/2009/03/01/o

  2. Thanks for the link Lindsay. No hoax bandwagon here…I'm really just trying to open up the dialogue! I want people to think and talk about these issues that are really important, and super confusing for the average consumer. I, too, use homeopathic medicine, but I'm trying to be a conscious consumer as well, and thought it was a worthwhile discussion to engage in. Truly, thank you for your feedback. One vote for Homeopathy!

  3. Thank you Dr. Hall! In the spirit of full enlightenment and fair-sided thought (I admit to playing devil's advocate before…) there are a few more interesting videos I found.

    The Science Channel looks at both sides: <http://science.discovery.com/videos/skeptical-inq
    Natural Partners Interview on why homeopathy works: <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZjlazugP44&fe

  4. Lindsay says:

    does a placebo work on a two year old?

  5. Luna says:

    "Placebo" can work on even infants and animals because of expectations, difference in interaction and confirmation bias on the part of the person administering it. People are masters of fooling themselves about what they see, or not realising that kids and animals will respond to attention & expectation.

    People swear by homeopathy. People also swear by astrology. In other parts of the world, people swear by magic amulets and witchcraft. Expectation, attentional bias, confirmation bias and placebo are universals which allow people to find "supporting evidence" for all of these. And these cognitive errors are not things which only uneducated or gullible people are prone to, they are true human universals — just the way our brains are wired. The whole point of controlled scientific methodology is to eliminate the possibility of expectation effects and bias on the part of the person administering the remedy, to see if the remedy does anything by itself.

    This is where homeopathy fails. Which to be honest isn't a surprise, because there is absolutely nothing in either chemistry or physics or biology which makes a chemical or biological effect plausible from water or starch which had fleeting contact with a single bioactive molecule at some point in its history, when it hasn't retained "memory" of all the molecules with which it was infused while passing through various sets of kidneys.

  6. Luna says:

    As the great Dara O'Briain once commented, we took everything from "traditional" medicine that worked…and call it "medicine."

    "Ayurvedic" & Chinese medicine use many bioactive compounds, many of which induce hepatotoxicity and few of which have been tested for efficacy, toxicity or long-term affects. Homeopathy, comment below. To make the argument that these are fundamentally better than a system which relies on replicable evidence which eliminates researcher bias is….disturbing. And the argument that these address "root of problems" more than symptoms MORE than evidence-based medicine is based on a fundamental ignorance of real evidence-based medicine and the biology of disease.

    So, no. You may believe this, but that does not make it objectively true.

  7. Luna says:

    I've studied homeopathy. I've also studied real physics and real biology. Having looked at those webpages, they demonstrate no genuine understanding of either physics or clinical experiment design. As a side note, the reason why so many trials of homeopathy have been discarded as scientifically useless is because the experimental design was either demonstrably very poor, or undocumented so that no-one could judge if it was a good design. There is a *reason* for that.

    If homeopathy wants to be accepted as part of mainstream science, then it has to pass the same tests as mainstream science, in the same way.

  8. Luna says:

    That's very nice for you, but I would like to point out that the only reason you get away without vaccines is that the use of vaccines in the rest of the population means that those diseases (measles, rubella, scarlet fever, polio, the rest) are no longer endemic in the US, and you are not exposed to them. Essentially, your health is parasitic on the efforts of others to prevent disease.

  9. And sometimes, natural remedies are shown through repeated studies (using valid scientific methods) to work, studied and we find out why they work, like the research done on sour cherry juice for arthritis, which revealed the role of anthocyanins in inflammation. Nothing really valid has been shown for homeopathy. The laws of vibration in this context are pseudoscience.

  10. It's also important to recognize the distinction between homeopathic medicine and herbal medicine. Although many people lump them together as "alternative medicine", they are based on very different principles of healing. Herbal medicine relies on dose-response pharmacology derived from plants, whereas homeopathic medicine focuses on prescribing ultra diluted like-cures-like remedies, most often in tinctures and sugar pills.

  11. […] in their yoga/exercise experience […] and 66% felt improvements in mood or mental state.” Placebo effect aside, that’s still pretty […]

  12. […] all that said/laughed, homeopathy does work pretty well. […]

  13. […] about bi-polar disorder, the meds that treat it and what happens when a person goes off those meds without a doctor’s supervision. None of it is good. One therapist I talked to said that false accusations skyrocket when someone […]

  14. […] about bi-polar disorder, the meds that treat it and what happens when a person goes off those meds without a doctor’s supervision. None of it is good. One therapist I talked to said that false accusations skyrocket when someone […]

  15. […] about bi-polar disorder, the meds that treat it and what happens when a person goes off those meds without a doctor’s supervision. None of it is good. One therapist I talked to said that false accusations skyrocket when someone […]

  16. sheri says:

    Posted January 2010! Check it out!

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the brand new Elephant Health & Wellness Homepage.

    Sheri McCord
    Please "like" Elephant Health & Wellness on Facebook.

  17. Matt H says:

    Luna, your statement is completely false. Ayurveda and TCM have both been extensively studied, and thousands of remedies have double-blind clinical trials — many funded by NIH — proving their safety and efficacy. There is certainly good reason that we have modern Western medical science, but we need to have a balance of both holistic methods and reductionist methods. "Evidence-based" medicine largely ignores a holistic model of health and wellness, while many traditional methods view health as a broad interconnected spectrum, addressing multiple dimensions of health. The simple response to your comment is that we need to incorporate both the Western model and the holistic model into our healthcare, in order to treat our population more efficiently and effectively.

  18. Matt H says:

    The "laws of vibration", as you so vaguely put, are anything but pseudoscience. Read any text on quantum physics written within the past 50 years and you will find your facts. Vibrational science, pioneered by particle physicists like Einstein and Shrodinger, represents the new era of modern science, beginning to supplement the dogmatic Newtonian approach to medicine that has dominated healthcare for the past 400 years.

  19. Matt H says:

    Do you have any idea what is in vaccines? Arsenic, formaldehyde, even minute levels of mercury. The average American is innoculated with nearly 20 different vaccines before the age of five. This is simply the pharmaceutical industry fun amok. Yes, vaccines are necessary and are one of the largest contributors to modern public health. But you are only portraying one side of the coin. There are many health risks associated with being so heavily vaccinated as standard procedure, even aside from the noxious preservatives used to manufacture them.

  20. Matt H says:

    Anyone who understands quantum physics knows that the fundamentals of homeopathy are sound and based in real scientific principles. It's just not the science that our antiquated Newtonian sciences from 400 years ago are teaching.

  21. […] I am still on the fence about the science of homeopathy. Originating in Europe in the 18th century, homeopathy is the theory that miniscule doses of something that causes the same symptoms you’re experiencing will reverse the symptoms. Countless friends of mine have had their lives changed for the better with their discovery of homeopathy so it was worth trying. Unlike steroids or antibiotics, it addresses the whole body and not just a symptom. […]