Homeopathy. Does it work?

  • This is mainly directed at CC, but I’m interested in all opinions.

    CC - Since you are in the medical field(right?), I wanted to specifically get your opinion on it.

    Here’s my take.  I work in a Cooperative grocery (about $7mil annual sales), and we have a standard Vitamin section.  This, of course, includes homeopathic medicine, and we also have a homeopath on staff (native of India - great woman).  I acknowledge that certain herbs can produce certain results, and can be used to treat a variety of problems.  However, I feel that homeopathy is based more in mysticism than herbalism, particularly due to the belief that when you dilute the extraction, it gets stronger.  That’s not how it should work, based on dosages and measurements for any other medicine, baking ingredient, etc.
    On the other hand, even if it doesn’t work that way, the power of suggestion can be evident sometimes.  If it’s entirely psychosomatic (or the “placebo effect”), then it’s not necessarily worthless.  Or, perhaps it does nothing, but the patient is still convinced that it helped.  Then it’s possible it’s still worth the cost.

    What does everyone else think?

  • Well, some modern “homeopathic” medecines/treatments are utter BS.  The most notables are all of those “fat burning, weight losing, look 20 years younger, etc.” homeopathic treatments that do nothing but are advertised like hell and sell a lot.

    REAL homeopathic medecines, such as clove oil for a tooth ache, or breathing the vapors of tea tree oil and boiling water for a cold DO work.

    Somewhere in my house I have a copy of a book titled “How to be your own herbal pharmicist”  Don;t know the author offhand, and not going looking for the book.  A significant portion of the remedies in that book are effective.  Not all, but many.

    A couple of quick “rules of thumb” for Homeopathic Medicine:
    #1:  If it is something that is a derivative/antecedent of a modern medication (White Willow Bark and Asprin) then there is good cause to be able to use the “natural” version over the processed one.
    #2:  Realize that herbal/homeopathic medications have JUST as much ability to create drug interactions as ANY OTHER DRUG.  The most notable example:  St. John’s Wort interferes with a whole host of medications, including most psychoactive and many hematological.
    #3:  Homeopathic care is NOT a substitute for professional medical treatment.  Don’t rely on tomatoes to cure your cancer.  Use natural herbs for “health maintenance” and non-life-threatening everyday ailments.

    I always keep Garlic in the fridge for use on the occasional minor ear infection, Tea Tree Oil for chest and sinus congestion, Clove Oil for a toothache.  But I use Nyquil for the flu and Advil for a headache.

  • Don’t confuse homeopathy with standard herbal remedies.  Not exactly the same.  Actually, googling came up with an interesting page:


    Here’s the word from the horse’s mouth:


    Like I said, I believe in the power of herbs, just not in the homeopathic approach.  You’ve got many of the standard herbal fixes, and that’s wonderful.  And while I believe that the medical field is essential and great, I feel that the view can be skewed there as well (no offense CC).  Much of that comes from the nature of the practice and covering one’s behind, it’s not necessarily intended.
    One other thing I forgot is that homeopathic is generally deemed safe for use by most everybody (unless you are lactose intolerant as much of the pellets have lactose in them).  I attribute this to the fact that there’s just about nothing in them but milk sugar.

    P.S. Tea tree oil is great for just about any topical/skin problem as well.  For lung stuff I’d probably go with eucalyptus, particularly because of compared costs.

  • Thanks Jermofoot . . .
    i’m not sure how to best dive in here.
    well . . .here goes.
    For one - you’re right.  Do not confuse homeopathy with “natural remedies”.  And keep in mind that the thing that tends to separate the “natural producst” from “pharmaceuticals” is that while many pharmaceuticals are natural, they ALL are subject to many trials demonstrating efficacy and elucidating side effects.  Furthermore their pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics are well known.  So-called “natural products” - while invariably “natural” do not have the studies to back them up, nor is there much in terms of side-effect, pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic literature available.
    Homeopathy is the idea that “like treats like”.  If you have a disorder/symptom complex, than the theory is that something that causes this - if given in an immeasurably tiny dose (like by diluting it by 10 nine times) should cure this.  The question is - how do you know that it is the substance that is curing it, and not some impurity in the glassware (kind of a joke really).
    We had a homeopath come to give a lecture to our class.  She basically mocked herself (non-intentionally, of course).  She said stuff like:
    “homeopathic cures are the safest and most efficatious treatments available”
    “i nearly killed one of my children and gave another one asthma with homeopathic remedies”
    “we all know that the adenovirus causes adenocarcinoma”  (this is utter nonsense.  If this were true, many of us with a common cold would die of cancer).

    Having said that, there have been some trials out there:
    Linde K, Clausius N, Ramirez G, et al. Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? A meta-analysis of placebo-controlled trials. Lancet 1997;350:834-43. 
    Study design: 
    Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials 
    Other (homeopathic practitioners) 
    The authors performed a systematic review of randomized trials. They found 186 trials of which 119 met the authors inclusion criteria. From these, 89 provided enough data to perform meta-analysis. Studies were rated for quality. Subjects receiving homeopathy were twice as likely to benefit compared to placebo (OR 2.45, CI 2.05-2.93). If only high quality studies are used (n=26), the benefit was less (OR 1.66, CI 1.33-2.08).

    • so the more rigourous the study, the less benefit homeopathy appears to convey.

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