Quackery Debunk: Homeopathy

A typical quack cure

Welcome to my new series of short blog posts on medical quackery. The premise is simple, snake oil salesmen rile me up, so I’ll compile evidence and debunk them. This time around: Homeopathy.

Homeopathy, invented in 1796, is the use of fake medicine  that is made by taking a substance (typically something that causes similar symptoms) and diluting it in water. The dilution happens to such a large extent that not only does it pass the point where there are no molecules of the substance left in the water, but it then even goes beyond this. Ultimately the result is that homeopathic medicine is just water.

Quacks however, know this, and they have an answer for everything. One is the claim of “Water Memory“, which defies our understanding of physical chemistry, and the results of the original proposed paper have never been reproduced in controlled conditions, even though this unproven theory has been around for 30 years.

Another, more misleading argument they will give is the fact that there exist certain pills branded “Homeopathic” that do actually help with illnesses like the common cold, like Zicam. On closer inspection however these pills aren’t homeopathic and contain large amounts of active ingredients, the manufacturer labels them as homeopathic to avoid having to deal with regulations. That sounds fine until you realise they had to recall these pills because people started losing their sense of smell.

As for evidence on whether homeopathy works, if we test it anyway, a systemic review of systemic reviews of homeopathy studies should get all but the flat-earther level conspiracy theorists to shut up.

Better tune in next time, it’s going to be chiropractic.

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