Jan 11, 2012

Debating homeopathy

I have friends who'll swear by homeopathy, something which I don't understand, but I tend to not care. If they want to abuse their health with nonsense, then it's their business. What bothers me is their promotion of the quackery to others, swearing unproven methods works for peoples' health, which can be risky at best, negligent at worst.

You may ask why I care about even that. It's a valid question. My father has high blood pressure and was recommended, by a doctor no less, to take a cheap alternative, a homeopathic remedy (name eludes me). He abandoned his then current prescriptions to try the sugar pill, with almost fatal results. This is the dangers of magical thinking behind seriously diluted "medicine". Thankfully my father is OK and his blood pressure is under control when he went back to taking proven medicine and kept up his diet and exercise.

A friend posted on Facebook a homeopathic remedy she recommends as a sleep aid and something to combat anxiety. The product is Calms Forte, a homeopathic substance designed to help those who suffer from sleep deprivation. Her friends asked questions about the substance and she claimed it worked swimmingly for her.

Against my better judgment I posted a video (below) of a girl demonstrating how Calms Forte has no active ingredient by downing the entire bottle of the substance. I commented that I can't speak for it's efficiency, but it is safe.

My friend was not pleased that I posted this video and stated the girl is "full of crap" and "wasn't intelligent about homeopathy". I took the bait and asked exactly how she got it wrong, as the girl's description seems to fit with Hamenann's law of similars and dilution preparation. This sparked an anecdotal testimony to how other homeopathic remedies helped her kids cure coughs and the like, but as expected never once addressing the lack of data proving the treatment.

Her tone seemed defensive and even a bit offended, so I politely apologized for any offense I may have caused, which I didn't mean to. I didn't expect to change her mind, but I believed that her friends should hear the other side of any argument before they put their health at possible risk. Perhaps I should've let it go.

My friend is a good person with a kind heart and I believe she genuinely believes in this stuff. She was simply attempting to help people with their ailments, something I normally applaud, but such misguidance can be dangerous.

In the end I feel I accomplished nothing, because man hears what they want to hear, and I probably came off as arrogant for daring to challenge homeopathy, which in my experience, is promoted by the extremely thin skinned.

Below is a video made by James Randi, who was challenged by the maker of Calms Forte to try the "overdose", but since relented.

"I do not expect that homeopathy will ever be established as a legitimate form of treatment, but I do expect that it will continue to be popular." - James Randi


wigsf3 said...

Personally, I believe some ailments can be prevented through positive thinking. Or more accurately, many ailments can be caused by psychosematics. Which, working the other way, could cure or prevent ailments.
In the case of more serious things, I don't think positive thinking or believing in the hokum cure will work.

w.v. is finge
"They call them fingers, but I've never seen 'em finge. Or wait, there they go."

Anonymous said...

Great-get the skeptic experts out!

Forget the thousands of Medical doctors and veterinarians who practice homeopathy and the many researchers who have published peer reviewed papers on it.

If James Randi, a magician is against it, then they must be wrong.

Anonymous said...

"Thousands of medical doctors and vets practice homeopathy..." Interesting because I do not know any fellow medical doctors that either practice or promote any homeopathic bullshit. There are quacks indeed but none that I know of and I am glad of that. A person making suggestive comments about homeopathy most likely has absolutely know knowledge on the dilution method of these so-called medicines. "Like" is not equal to "Like" as once suggested by the infamous and creator Hanneman. Clams Forte, for one example, is equivalent to throwing 1 pill of aspirin into Lake Tahoe then stirring it with a giant stick. Take a cup and there, there is your homeopathic sleep aid. There is no argument that can validate otherwise if you're at least educated at the elementary level. Studies, studies, studies and more studies have shown us all again that when comparing a homeopathic remedy to a placebo there is absolutely no difference. But we all know that there are the select few that will continue to swear by sugar water. We all get a good laugh when we get patients into the ER regretfully telling us all they were misled by all the quackery. Told you so...

Anonymous said...

I found your post here as I was searching for info on Calms Forte. I took it while pregnant and noticed an effect (which surprised me a little since I'm naturally skeptical of these things, but I was desperate for sleep). After doing some reading, I'm sure I had a placebo effect and after reading Dr. Paul Offit's "Do You Believe in Magic: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine" I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. I managed to get myself to go to sleep (my anxiety was so bad and I couldn't calm myself) without pumping a lot of medication in my body (on top of the meds I already had to take).

I have no problem with sugar pills, but I do have a problem when people forego modern medicine for sugar pills. In my case, what I needed was a sugar pill, not a sleep med and I was no worse for wear. But my thyroid issues? You'd better believe I was taking the real stuff LOL :)