Visitors since 20 January 2010

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Homoeopathy and Goldfinches

It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s dank. And suddenly the garden is full of spring. Eight goldfinches on the bird feeders at one time yesterday – together with Great Tits, Blue Tits and fierce Robins – on the ground Blackbirds and Thrushes. When I took Jack out, whilst it was just getting light - what a glorious chorus of bird song.

For some time I have wanted to address the phenomena of alternative medicine – but I have been reluctant to do so because many very good friends of mine have suggested various flavours of complementary medicine that they think would help me – homoeopathy, aroma therapy, acupuncture, prayer and many others – these were all suggested honestly and out of compassion and care for me. Then I saw – on another blog – this video and realised how evil the promise of alternative medicine is.

During the journey of Cancer treatment I have been on I have met many, many people who are desperate to find a cure for the incurable and statements such as the ones made in this video by Gemma Hoefkens, that she was cured of cancer by homoeopathy, feed into that desperation.

In case you don’t know homoeopathy is a form of alternative medicine, first proposed by German physician Samuel Hahnemann in 1796, (not 2000 years ago as stated by Hoefkens in the video) that attempts to treat patients with heavily diluted preparations which are claimed to cause effects similar to the symptoms presented. Homoeopathic remedies are prepared by serial dilution with shaking by forceful striking, which homoeopaths term "succussion," after each dilution under the assumption that this increases the effect of the treatment. Homoeopaths call this process "potentization". Dilution continues until none of the original substance remains. For such remedies to have pharmacological effect would violate fundamental principles of science. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that such homoeopathic remedies work beyond the expected placebo effect.

A good example of an homoeopathic remedy would be a popular treatment for the flu - a 200C dilution of duck liver, marketed under the name Oscillococcinum. As there are only about 1080 atoms in the entire observable universe, a dilution of one molecule in the observable universe would be about 40C. Oscillococcinum would thus require 10320 more universes to simply have one molecule in the final substance.

It should be very easy to test if any of the alternative therapies work – take two thousand people suffering from the target disease treat a thousand of them with the alternative therapy and give the other thousand a placebo – then after a suitable period of time compare the two groups. The same could be done with any alternative therapy and indeed prayer.

There is one area where alternative medicine scores heavily over conventional, evidence based medicine. Alternative practitioners spend a great deal of time with their patents and that in itself may well help the healing or curative process and is something that conventional practitioners, Doctors and Nurses, could well consider bringing into their own medical practices.