The Dangers of Homeopathy

Homeopathy

As I mentioned in another article, the current wave of medicine and health has been going toward homeopathic methods and modalities because of an increasing distrust and even fear of Western medicine. Now, I am all for trying natural remedies first, but only when there is actual evidence that those remedies have merit.

I think it is important for everyone to have control over their care and with that control should come research and a healthy dose of skepticism. That’s why I don’t choose homeopathic “remedies”, because they mostly have no evidence backing them and are either useless or harmful.


Harmful Homeopathy

Case in point: The man who developed severe liver problems after taking his homeopath’s advice to drink 3 tablespoons of Epsom salt in lukewarm water daily for fifteen days straight to cure gallstones. Twelve days in, the man developed a loss of appetite and dark urine and became jaundiced two days after he stopped the routine.

There are clinical uses for Epsom salt but there is no indication that it should be used for gallstones, and there is evidence that prolonged use in high quantities can result in catastrophic health problems, as we see here. Had this homeopathic provider been inclined to use scientific data in his practice, he would have known this.

Epsom salt is often used externally to exfoliate skin and to help ease sore muscles. It is also used internally to help with constipation. However, when used to treat constipation, the directions are to take 1-4 (depending on the person’s age) teaspoons in 8 ounces of water, and you should take no more than two doses a day for no longer than a few days.

This information isn’t hard to find; all it takes is a quick Google search. Now, I know you might be thinking that this is a one-time event and that all homeopaths shouldn’t be punished for this one person’s mistake, but these things happen more often than you might think.

This man didn’t die, but others aren’t so lucky.

For the most part, homeopathic treatments are harmless because they don’t do anything whatsoever. As Berkeley Wellness states:

Another principle is that the more a remedy is diluted, the greater its potency. Homeopathic solutions typically are diluted at least one billion times: one molecule of “remedy” (substances from plants, minerals, or animals) to more than one billion water molecules. The preparations are produced via serial dilution—a solution is diluted by a factor of 10, and then one part is taken and the process repeated again and again—and are labeled as 12X or 24X, for instance, to represent the number of dilutions.

Many preparations are diluted to such unimaginable degrees as one molecule of “medicine” in 1060or even 10400molecules of water (that’s a 1 followed by 400 zeroes), the dilution of Oscillococcinum, a widely marketed “treatment” for flu. The original substances, in effect, disappear in an ocean of water. These mixtures are supposed to be vigorously shaken (“succussed”) in a prescribed manner to potentiate them.

Something that has been diluted that much is not going to have any affect on the body. However, since they aren’t regulated like Western medications, what is on the label doesn’t necessarily translate to what is in the product, meaning there could be a lot more of the harmful product than is advertised.

Take Hyland’s Teething Tablets, for instance. They were discontinued after hundreds of babies became severely ill or died after ingesting them. Hyland’s PR department came out to say that there was no proof that the children, who became symptomatic only after ingesting the tablets or gel, were ill because of the tablets or gel, but even if they were it was because some people are more sensitive to substances than others. Now, the latter part is true, but it’s interesting to me how the same people who apply that line of thinking to homeopathic injuries don’t apply it to injuries from Western medicine.


Useless Homeopathy

Another reason homeopathy is dangerous is because people will forgo legitimate, scientifically sound treatments for homeopathic treatments that do nothing, leading to a treatable illness worsening or taking their lives.

Take, for example, Penelope Dingle of Perth, Australia. She was diagnosed with rectal cancer in 2003 and her husband, Peter, convinced her to forgo Western medicine for homeopathic treatment.

According to Penelope’s sister, Toni Brown, the patient and her husband had made a pact with a local homeopath, Francine Scrayen, that Penelope would only use alternative treatments. The reason for this was not only so that if she became cured no one could say that it was Western medicine that did it, but also so that her husband could write a book about “curing” his wife’s cancer through homeopathy.

Mrs Brown said that in 2003 her sister was on a strict diet and lost a significant amount of weight but each time she expressed concern, Dingle and her husband told her the treatment was going well.

Counsel assisting the Coroner, Lyle Housiaux, said Dingle’s diaries, which have been tendered as evidence, revealed that Ms Scrayen said homeopathy would cure her and she had to avoid conventional medicine, including pain relief.

Without proper treatment or even the benefit of pain medication, Mrs. Dingle died a painful, tortuous death in 2005 after the cancer spread throughout her body. All for what? For some greedy snake oil pusher to write a book and get famous.


Final Thoughts

As I said above, I believe that we should be able to control our own medical care. You should have options and you should be able to use whichever treatment you deem necessary for yourself. That being said, I implore people to research what they’re putting into their system before doing so.

I know that Western medicine has its drawbacks and risks and I know that it sounds better when someone tells you that a substance is natural, but not all nature is curative – a lot of it is fatal – and just because someone doesn’t have M.D. after their name doesn’t mean they care about you or don’t want your money.

Of course not all homeopaths are bad people, just like not all doctors are bad people. I am sure that many of them want to help others and maybe think that they are doing just that. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try homeopathic options, either. I’m just saying that you should afford the same skepticism to homeopathy that you do to Western medicine.

The bottom line is that natural doesn’t always mean healthier.