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Is Homeopathy A Scam? Spoiler Alert: Yes, it is!

Homeopathy is a very contentious form of alternative medicine. It is practiced by millions all over the world and is very popular in India. The Indian government supports it and has legalized practicing and teaching homeopathy. In fact, The National Capital Territory of Delhi alone spends about 8% of its health budget on homeopathy. All good indication that homeopathy is more than just a fringe movement. It is possibly here to stay. But is that a good thing? What is Homeopathy anyway?

Defining Homeopathy

Google homeopathy and you will most probably see the Wikipedia page at the top of the search results. Wikipedia, as usual, has a lot to say about homeopathy. Unfortunately, it does say nothing that a homeopathy doctor, patient, student or a supporter would like to hear. Wikipedia says the following about homeopathy -

  • homeopathy is a system of alternative medicine created in 1796 by Samuel Hahnemann
  • it is based on the doctrine of like cures like (similia similibus curentur, a claim that a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people would cure similar symptoms in sick people
  • Homeopathy is a pseudoscience – a belief that is incorrectly presented as scientific.
  • Homeopathic preparations are not effective for treating any condition
  • large-scale studies have found homeopathy to be no more effective than a placebo, suggesting that any positive feelings that follow treatment are only due to the placebo effect and normal recovery from illness.
  • Homeopathy is not a plausible system of treatment, as its dogmas about how drugs, illness, the human body, liquids and solutions operate are contradicted by a wide range of discoveries across biology, psychology, physics and chemistry made in the two centuries since its invention.
  • the World Health Organization has warned against using homeopathy to try to treat severe diseases such as HIV and malaria.
  • The continued practice of homeopathy, despite a lack of evidence of efficacy, has led to it being characterized within the scientific and medical communities as nonsense, quackery, and a sham.

But  wait! There is more ...

According to The National Centre for Homeopathy (a nonprofit in the United States trying to find ground for this trickery we call homeopathy), there are three beliefs (let's not call them 'principles') to homeopathy.  The first idea is that “like cures like” (as discussed above). That’s what 'homeopathy' means in Greek, 'same suffering'. Or that something that produces symptoms in a healthy person, makes a sick person healthy. So like caffeine, a molecule that keeps people awake, might be used to treat people with insomnia. But only if caffeine is diluted to very small amounts. And that’s the second premise. The more dilute the remedy, the more potent it is. And thirdly, that the illness is specific to the person. Supposedly, homeopaths take into account a holistic view of a person.

homeopathy-is-just-waterSo how is the medicine made? Well, let’s go back to that caffeine example. A bit of caffeine goes through the process of 'potentization’ which involves dilution and succussion (vigorous shaking), so all the toxic effects of the extract or compound are removed. And when I say dilution, I mean a lot of dilution. Something might be diluted 1 in 1,000,000,000,000 times in a solution of water or sugar.  There is an entire Wikipedia page talking about homeopathic dilution.

Medicine doses are based on the centesimal or C scale. A 2C dilution requires a substance to be diluted to one part in one hundred, and then some of that mixture being diluted AGAIN to one part in a hundred. So basically you wind up with one part of the original substance in 10,000 parts of the solution. And so on and so forth. This process can be repeated.

Basically, the plant or animal extract is so diluted that there are almost no molecules of it left. But according to homeopathic theory the more diluted it is, the more “potency” it has.

Homeopaths believe that water retains the “memory” of that extract. The idea is that after each dilution the extract and water, sugar, or whatever the dilution is, goes through succussion, which activates the “vital energy” of the extract.

Alright, so that’s the process… but what does the science say about it?

Homeopathy & Science

One study published in the journal Rheumatology found that homeopathy helped arthritis patients over the course of six months. Good news for homeopaths! Well, NO. It is important to note that homeopathic medicines are often added alongside conventional medicine and that was the case here as well. The patients felt better because of homepathy's unique consultation process. Well everybody likes a sympathetic and polite listener, don't they?

Homeopathy treats the patient, not just the symptoms. So it was really the one-on-one, patient-focused appointments that helped, not the homeopathic medicine.

The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia found “no evidence” that homeopathy is effective. In a report published in 2014, the NHMRC looked at 57 systematic reviews of the treatment. They found there were no health conditions for which homeopathy was effective, that no good large-scale studies found that homeopathy was better than a placebo. So it looks like science isn’t on the side of homeopathy.

Say Hello To James Randi

james-randiJames Randi, the founder of James Randi Educational Foundation, is a world-renowned skeptic and investigator. He is, along with many others like him, an inspiration to most modern freethinkers and skeptics; including myself. James Randi always advocated thinking skeptically about pseudo-science. He criticized faith healing, charlatanism, psychic healing, and homeopathy. He is famous for his demonstration of consuming an entire packet of 32 homeopathic sleeping pills during his seminars and presentations. This was a clear demonstration of how these homeopathic medicines are nothing but just sugar-coated pills. He advocated that the World should unite against this charlatanism called  homeopathy.

Some people have accused James Randi of being a cynic and narrow-minded. That is far from the truth. He was not a debunker but rather an investigator. This is apparent from his Million Dollar Challenge. James Randi, in association with Goldman Sachs, announced a million dollar challenge where he would have given 1 Million USD to any homeopath or homeopathic medicine manufacturer if they were able to demonstrate that these medicines or homeopathy (the system) works. Well, that never happened. Now with so many homeopaths across the globe, I wonder why no one ever took the challenge and won it? Hmm..... Possibly, they all know that homeopathy can't stand the test of reasonable proof.

Hey, Indian Government! What's Wrong With You?

While doing some research on the topic, I came across a 2010 post of Mr. Abhimanyu Radhakrishnan on Why Promoting Homeopathy Is Unconstitutional. The article makes a bold claim - promoting homeopathy is unconstitutional.   This might sound absurd, but it is not. Article 51A of the Constitution of India says the following regarding fundamental duties of every Indian:

(h) to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform

Scientific temper? Spirit of inquiry? Okaayyy!!! Well, how about the government stop promoting homeopathy! That would be a start.

There is no scientific proof that homeopathy is effective and yet the Indian Government has colleges and institutions that promote homeopathy. It is substantially as similar as setting up institutions to con people. And the good thing is, Indian Government has legalized it. I wonder what's next? Why not set up colleges for con artists and charlatans?

Indian Government should ban homeopathy and should not promote it unless and until it gathers enough scientific proof and evidence that supports it.

Well, that kinda sums it up. Homeopathy is a fraud of highest order. It is nothing more than those stupid faith healings that educated and rational people have now come to criticize. Despite clear evidence that Homeopathy is nothing more than charlatanism, it is still being practiced by people. My brothers and sisters of India, let's call out the homeopathy's bullshit for what it is - a pseudo-science and nothing more! Indian government should act responsibly and put an end to this scam.

Let's debate. Shall we?

I understand that some of the readers might be interested in homeopathy and find this article offensive. I am not sorry for that. I am just trying to lay out facts. If anybody is hurt or offended, well, that's what you get for having blind faith.

I am not narrow-minded or a crank. If you have any substantial proof that discredits what I wrote, I am all ears. I would love for homeopaths and students to cite researchers that support homeopathy. Go ahead and call out any misrepresented information in the article above. You can reach us on Facebook. Let's all maintain a scientific temper, spirit of inquiry and reform.

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