Thursday, 12 March 2015

Harmless placebos are lawful, but 'Homeopathy' remains a deception

Like 'Santa Claus', 'homeopathy' can be either a benign or (if it is in the hands of persons with hidden criminal objectives) an exploitative deception, but it remains a deception.  Once this is understood, a purely-objective study of 'homeopthy', takes our free-thinking readers into a particularly difficult area, for, self-evidently, not all deceptions are unlawful. 
Today, conventional medicine accepts that many illnesses are psychosomatic (i.e. they are caused, or aggravated, by mental conflict, stress, etc.). Qualified, conventional, medical practitioners, themselves, are, therefore, permitted to give harmless placebos (including 'homeopathic remedies') to their patients, due to the genuinely beneficial psychological, and resulting physical, effects that this 'white lie' can bring to certain people. The regulation and prevalence of 'homeopathy' varies-reatly from country to country. As far as I am aware, there are no specific laws anywhere in the world, either prohibiting 'homeopathy' as a fraud or identifying its legitimate use as a harmless placebo. In some countries, licenses or degrees in conventional medicine from accredited universities are required. In various countries,'homeopathic treatment' is wholly or partly refunded by national insurance schemes. In other countries, it is fully integrated into national health-care programs. However, since legislators have invariably ignored 'homeopathy', strict laws which govern the regulation, development and testing of conventional drugs often do not apply to 'homeopathic remedies.' That said, if there is no independent regulation of 'homeopathy,' nor any effective means of enforcing existing regulation, then the deception can easily be perverted and used by charlatans to exploit vulnerable people. Indeed, there are many parallels between the always-unlawful 'MLM income opportunity' deception and the often-unlawful 'homeopathy' deception. In the past, I have described criminogenic organizations like 'Amway' as 'peddling a economic placebo' dissimulated as a harmless scientifically-proven cure for poverty. All active 'MLM' participants have lost their time and money, but they have mostly survived their brief encounter with the'MLM' deception. However, just as with the exploitative version of the 'homeopathy' deception, if vulnerable people start to accept the'MLM' lie as total reality (and persist to a level of delusion), eventually, they risk destitution and destruction.
 
To its many satisfied adherents, 'Homeopathy' (also spelled 'homoeopathy' or 'homœopathy'), is a proven, alternative medical science. To free-thinking observers, it is an absurd, latter-day revival of an absurd, 19th century pseudo-science based on an assemblage of absurd, ancient, non-rational or superstitious beliefs.
Like their 19th century counterparts, today's 'homeopathy'  practitioners point to their many satisfied customers and confidently claim to be able to treat patients using massively-diluted preparations. These preparations are supposed to cause healthy people to exhibit symptoms similar to those exhibited by the unhealthy people they are supposed to treat. However, the overwhelming bulk of quantifiable evidence proves 'homeopathy' to be no more and no less effective than any other harmless placebo.
'Homeopathy' is supposedly based on what is known as the'law of similars' -  a term coined by a German doctor, Samuel Hahnemann, in 1796. However for many centuries, prior to this, it had been a widely-held superstition that anything resembling a particular part of the human body could be used to treat illnesses, or failings, of the same body part. (e.g. walnuts look like the human brain, so it was once thought that walnuts and walnut oil are good for ailments of the brain - confusion, memory loss, headaches, etc.).
In reality, so-called 'homeopathic remedies' are prepared by progressive dilution in water (involving shaking and striking), of animal, vegetable or mineral substances. These substances are arbitrarily chosen according to the so-called 'law of similars.'  Practitioners describe the dilution process as 'succussion and potentization.' This typically complex, ritual, hocus-pocus (involving thought-stopping jargon and the contemplation of infinity) is claimed 'to increase effectiveness.'  However, dilution can continue until no trace of the original substance remains.  Apart from the symptoms, so-called 'homeopaths' examine their 'patients''physical and psychological state,  then 'homeopathic'publications known as 'repertories' are consulted, and a'remedy' is chosen. Common-sense reveals that, at very high-rates of dilution, so-called 'homeopathic remedies' contain few, or no, pharmacologically active molecules. Thus,'homeopaths' are, in fact, peddling water which, for it to have any pharmacological effect, would violate the fundamental laws of science. Consequently, certain so-called'homeopaths' have lately-pretended that 'water has a memory' allowing homeopathic preparations to work without any of the original pharmacological substance remaining. Unfortunately, there is neither quantifiable evidence nor any plausible physical mechanisms by which such a convenient phenomenon can be proved. 
The total absence of quantifiable evidence to support what 'homeopaths'steadfastly pretend to be reality, and particularly their peddling of water as a remedy,  is what has led qualified observers to describe certain  'homeopaths' as charlatans and quacks, exploiting vulnerable persons with an cruel deception. Oral 'homeopathic remedies' are safe at the high dilutions (for the simple reason they are likely not to contain any active substance), but they may be unsafe at lower dilutions. Whilst a delusional, unquestioning faith in the power of 'homeopathy' can expose vulnerable persons to significant risks; particularly, if they are advised against vaccinations, anti-malarial drugs and antibiotics.
Belief in 'homeopathy' became widespread in the 19th century, particularly in the USA. Dr. John Franklin Gray (1804–1882) was the first American 'homeopathic'practioner, in New York City. The first 'homeopathic school'opened in 1830. During the 19th century, many 'homeopathic'institutions were begun in Europe and America.  By 1900, there were 22 'homeopathic colleges' and 15,000 practitioners in the USA. In the past, many conventional medical treatments were useless and dangerous quackery, whereas harmless 'homeopathic' placebos often had better results. It has been suggested that the relative success of'homeopathy' as a placebo in the 19th century was one of the factors that led to the disappearance of the useless and harmful quackery of 'bleeding and purging. ' 
As conventional medical science advanced, in leaps and bounds 'homeopathy' was generally derided by mainstream scientists and rejected by the public. Like all fashions, its popularity soon waned. By 1920, the few remaining schools in the USA exclusively teaching 'homeopathy' had closed. Sadly, the US federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938 was sponsored by a New York Senator and 'homeopathic'doctor, Royal Copeland. This legislation, foolishly recognized'homeopathic remedies' as drugs. Even then, by the 1950s, there were only 75 homeopaths practising in the USA.  By  late 1970s alternative medicine had become fashionable again, and 'homeopathy' reappeared in America and Europe, where sales of some 'homeopathic' companies multiplied. The medical profession then started to adopt 'homeopathic remedies' in the 1990s.
Today, all over the world, the owners, and/or corporate officers of pharmacy chains have recognized the massive potential for profit, and they have begun selling vast quantities of harmless placebos branded as 'homeopathic remedies.'
David Brear

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