This is yet another post on homeopathy and alternative medicines. This one is prompted by a conversation that I had a few days ago which unfortunately resulted in me no longer being friends with someone that I had previously enjoyed talking to. The conversation was prompted because the person in question had put up a link to the “Homeopathy Heals” campaign web site. After questioning her views on the subject I received several comments about how great it was and I responded by asking her to read my recent article on alternative medicine to see what I thought. Unfortunately as soon as she started to read the article she told me “if you believe chiropractors to be useless, nothing written by you is worth reading I’m afraid.” (I mentioned chiropractic at the start of the article. Chiropractors believe that every part of the body can be fixed by manipulating the spine.)
Alternative medicine seems to be as emotional a subject as religion. But then, alternative medicine mostly works through faith. It practically is religion.
The thing is, homeopathy does sometimes do something. And it mostly does that something through the placebo effect. The placebo effect is actually quite effective at treating quite a lot of physical health problems and can help a lot in reducing pain. What it can’t do is cause major physical healing, such as curing diabetes or cancer, or replacing vaccinations.
Part of what makes homeopathy occasionally effective must surely be that homeopaths spend a lot of time with their patients and show more interest in them. I have heard from people that have spent hours or even whole days with their homeopath. That results in a more holistic approach that allows any worries and stress to be talked through, something that rarely happens when our GPs are so rushed.
If people choose to use alternative medicines like homeopathy and chiropractic in the face of all logic and reason then ultimately they are relying on faith. I can be quite happy with people relying on faith, as long as it doesn’t affect anyone else. I am OK with someone using a homeopathic remedy for a headache and having faith that it will work. I am not happy when people use faith instead of vaccines, or force their remedies on children that cannot decide for themselves, or on animals that will continue to suffer. (And I don’t believe for a second that animals are cured by homeopathy. Show me the evidence.)
I am sure that placebos could have their place in medicine. If we can reduce the amount of chemicals and drugs that must be used to treat illness by getting the mind to cooperate, that is a good thing. But the deception that we find in most alternative medicine is wrong and dangerous. Promoting such things by attacking science is especially wrong. We need our medicine to be based on evidence. I am outraged by the fact that Boots continues to sell homepathic treatments alongside real medicine, misleading people into trusting something that they shouldn’t. I am even more angry that the NHS continues to pay for homeopathic hospitals and treatments.
If you want to use homeopathic medicine, and you have faith in it, then it might do something for you some of the time. But know that it works through faith not science and reason. Please don’t inflict it on those that have no choice, and please, I beg you, don’t use it instead of vaccines. Most of all, don’t ever tell me that I should use it, and don’t expect me to respect any of the bizarre attempts at explaining how it is supposed to work.