Homeopathy has managed to insinuate itself into modern drugstores and discourse, and for many users of homeopathic treatments, there appears to be a simple lack of information about the mechanisms involved. In certain circumstances, homeopathy has managed to find its way into street medic circles. Now that homeopathic treatments are being recommended to treat immediate trauma caused by police violence (#OccupyLA arrestees suffering nerve damage from overtightened handcuffs were recently recommended homeopathic treatment, for instance), we must intervene.
For those unfamiliar with the way in which homeopathic medicine is said to work, allow us to explain: homeopathic medicines are manufactured using the homeopathic “Principle of Minimum Dose”, which states that “extreme dilution enhances the curative properties of a substance.” What does this mean, exactly?
Homeopathic remedies are prepared by serial dilution with shaking, or by forceful striking on a hard or elastic body (the 18th-century inventor of homeopathic treatment, Samuel Hahnemann, used a bible) which homeopaths term succussion, dynamization, or potentization. Each dilution followed by succussion is assumed to increase the effectiveness. Dilution usually continues until no detectable trace of the original substance remains.
For an example, let us present a popular, heavily-marketed homeopathic “vaccination”: Influenzinum 30C. It is manufactured by Washington Homeopathic Products, of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. The company’s Web site states that the product is made from the actual vaccine, 2005 strain, which is repeatedly diluted 1:10 or 1:100 with distilled water and/or alcohol so that the final solution reaches a “30C” concentration that is incorporated into “pills” (sugar tabs that dissolve in the mouth).
A 30C dilution means that the original vaccine sample has been diluted 1060 times. In long form, this means it has been diluted 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times, long past the point where a single molecule of the original solution can be present. In other words, the real ingredient in the pills is the inert substance was used to make them—usually sugar—and taking them is the same as taking a sugar pill.
The perceived efficacy of homeopathic remedies is in the incredible powers of the mind: if you are a believer in the efficacy of a sugar pill, it can and will work wonders. But homeopathic remedies do not actually contain any of their own “active ingredients”. Those ingredients have been diluted out, through the process of succussion.
Homeopaths (most of whom are charging significant sums of money for these treatments) will also claim that water possesses a borderline-mystical “resonance” property, allowing it to retain the benefits of compounds introduced to it for an indefinite period of time. In addition to being prima facie absurd, this is a phenomenon which has never, despite extensive investigation, been verified (let alone observed) in a scientific setting. Numerous logical arguments involving toilets and the history of the average water molecule have also been put forward to illustrate the level of nonsense on which this claim operates, but theyneed not be restated here.
Let this be underlined in no uncertain terms: IF YOU HAVE BEEN SOLD OR TAKEN A HOMEOPATHIC REMEDY, YOU HAVE PAID A PREMIUM FOR PLAIN WATER. EFFECTS EXPERIENCED AS A RESULT OF THIS ARE ENTIRELY DUE TO THE POWER OF THE PLACEBO EFFECT. The placebo effect is and always has been an extremely powerful, verifiable phenomenon. Its presence is accounted for in every scientific medical study, and it is indisputable that it is capable of producing physiological effects. This fact, however, does not in any way mean that homeopathy should be considered to be a valid treatment method. To imply homeopathic treatment is at all comparable to actual medicine, let alone to collect money for it, is an act so irresponsible and unethical it borders on criminal.
To consume so much as a single molecule of the original substance at a 30C dilution (the standard for homeopathic treatment), a patient would need to consume 1041 pills (a billion times the mass of the Earth), or 1034 gallons of liquid remedy (10 billion times the volume of the Earth). If you are at any time offered a homeopathic treatment in a protest situation, do not forego actual, scientific medicine in its favor. You run the risk of putting yourself in grave danger if you choose to take this treatment route over a legitimate medical option.