Today we are talking about homeopathy. We will show that it is nonsense, how it is typically sold in a dishonest fashion and what should be done about it.
[Note: Please note that this transcript may not exactly match the audio. However, there should be no significant differences.]
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Hi everyone! This is episode twenty-one of the Metaphysics of Physics podcast. Today we are talking about homeopathy, how it is fraudulently sold and what should be done about it.
What is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy is based on the principle of “like cures like”. That is, you treat an ailment with something that causes the symptoms of the ailment. So, if you want a homeopathic “treatment” for watery eyes, you start with onion juice. Or, if you want to treat the flu you can apparently use belladonna.
What homeopaths do is consider the symptoms of a disease. And then try to find natural remedies which cause reactions which look like symptoms of the disease. Things which also seem to cause reactions like the symptoms of the ailment in question. Which they then pretend is the same thing as finding a treatment for the disease.
When asked, a homeopath recently said that what they do is look at a picture of the affected body part and look at the symptoms. And then use stuff which would replicate those symptoms.
So, if a patient has a bee-sting, they might look at a picture of the patient’s foot. And then find something that causes inflammation. They then proceed to try to treat the bee sting with that. And possibly some other things that cause other visible symptoms.
We are not making this up, this is what an actual homeopath has said!
This is clearly non-scientific. Even if belladonna causes some flu-like symptoms, that does not mean that it has any effect against the flu itself or its symptoms.
They are trying to treat an ailment with something that also causes some of the same symptoms.
It does not matter since we know that “like cures like” is nonsense. You do not treat an ailment by exposing patients to the causes of the symptoms of ailment.
Ah, but homeopaths claim that what this does is build up the patient’s immunity to the ailment, or at least its symptoms. In the words of one such charlatan: “Homeopathic remedies aim to stimulate your body to respond to symptoms being experienced”.
No, not really. This is not vaccination we are talking about. This building up of resistance would not work.
But there is one major issue which makes all this invalid. Even if “like for like” cures worked. Even if we bought this nonsense about the remedies stimulating natural responses to symptoms.
What is this issue? It is that the ailment causing substance is not present in the so-called treatment!
Now, some of you may be scratching your head at this. Why did I tell you any of this if the substance in question is not in the treatment? If it is not there, how does the treatment work? What IS in the treatment?
They will use almost anything they think helps. Such as arsenic trioxide Yes, I said arsenic trioxide! About now you are probably wondering whether these people are out to poison people. Or at least make them sick.
Well, apparently, they figured out that giving someone ailment causing substances might be a bad idea. Oddly enough, people do not want to be treated with arsenic compounds!
In that case, how does the medicine work? This is where it becomes completely stupid and devolves into entirely magical, woolly thinking.
What you do is you dilute the substance in a vial of water in a 1:100 ratio. So that for every part of the substance there are 100 parts of water. Or, there is 100 times as much water in the vial as the “active ingredient”.
Now, I say water, but sometimes alcohol is used. And if you are taking pills, then probably most of what you are taking is sugar. But, for now lets just talk about water. You will see that it does not make much difference.
That might not sound that bad. There is still some of the ingredient left. It is just in minute quantities. We are not done yet, not by a long shot. This kind of dilution is not nearly dilute enough to be truly homeopathic!
No, this 1:100 dilution is simply the start. That is “1C”. But you can get a lot more dilute than that. 2C is where you dilute that 1:100 dilution a further 100 times. Now there is 10,000 times as much water as there is the substance! And with every increasing point on the C scale, you dilute the previous number by a further 100 times.
Once you start getting to even just 4C or 5C, you have all this water but still just the little bit of the “active” ingredient. And now you must make pills or liquid preparation out of what is almost pure water!
Good luck scooping up that tiny trace of the so-called active ingredient. Good lucking getting it in any of the preparation!
What do you think the chances of any particular pill having any of the active ingredients is? Essentially zero! At the lower concentrations, a typical dosage will have none of the active ingredients.
At 12C, which is not nearly dilute enough for most homeopathic products, there is a 60% probability of one molecule of the original substance being present. Assuming you used one mole of the original substance.
Homeopathic products are typically diluted to 30C or more. At this point, you could ingest an entire box of pills and the chances that you will ingest any of the “active ingredients” is effectively zero. You could eat an entire shipping crate and get none of it!
In fact, you would require giving two billion doses per second to six billion people for 4 billion years to deliver a single molecule of the “active” ingredient to any patient.
So, imagine you are taking some homeopathic water at 30C. The chances are that you will die of water toxicity long before you ingest a single molecule of the substance in there which is meant to help you. Or, if you are taking pills, you will die of sugar toxicity before you get any of the so-called ingredients.
Homeopathy preaches that the more dilute a preparation the better! And that this is higher potency! Yes, the more dilute your preparation is, the stronger it is! The less of the substance present in the preparation, the stronger it is! With homeopathy, less really is more. Or, so they believe.
There are other measurements of homeopathic “potency” using systems other than the C scale. But they all amount to the same thing: ultra-dilution to the point where the so-called ingredients will not be present in any given dosage of the preparation.
Now, given that at some point the active ingredient will not be present in the treatments given out, how is this meant to work? How do they get away with this?
By claiming that water has memory! They say that water remembers that it had the active ingredient in it. And that when you drink the water, it will magically impart the healing power of the active ingredient upon you. A power that the active ingredient does not have in the first place, but which they pretend it does have.
Yes, they know that the substance does not contain any of the active ingredients! But they tell you that it does not matter. Since the water takes on magical healing properties as a result of the dilution process. And that this is how you will gain this resistance to the ailment.
Remember how I mentioned that they use arsenic? Well, usually they talk about something called Arsenicum album. This is their term for “Arsenic trioxide diluted so that you won’t get any”. It is diluted to a pretty safe 12C or often an ever safer 30C. Or sometimes as much 200C, the same dilutions used by many homeopathic flu preparations.
Remember how dilute 30C is? And how it would require giving two billion doses per second to six billion people for 4 billion years to deliver a single molecule of the original material to any patient?
Well, with 200C those six billion people could have started at the Big Bang and still not have found a single molecule! I would need to consume a mass well over 10320 times that of the observable universe to get a single molecule of the original substance!
I don’t know about you, but that I think if you have to consume that much of this stuff, then it might just be unfit for purpose! Which definitely breaches trading laws in New Zealand, the United States and surely most of the world!
Good thing too, since arsenic trioxide is highly toxic.
We are still not done. Homeopathy gets still more stupid. Homeopathy also claims that it matters how you dilute the “active ingredients”. You should engage in further superstitious rituals. Which they call “succussion”. Rituals which could not possibly have any effect upon the dilution process.
Such as banging the vial of water against a special wooden striking board covered in leather on one side and stuffed with horsehair. The diluted substance is “struck ten times” against this board, to “activate the medicinal substance”.
As if such magic rituals could possibly activate the magical properties of the water. Obviously not. This is just an extra layer of magic ritual to try to make the practice sound more rigorous. As though MORE magical, pointless nonsense could possibly make the process any more rational!
Notice that it serves as a handy way to excuse the failures of homeopathy. If a treatment does not work, you can always blame the failure to properly perform the proper magic rituals. Instead of accepting the fact that every single aspect of homeopathy is non-scientific nonsense that dooms the process to abject failure.
Alright, this gives you a good idea of how stupid homeopathy is. They are pretending to give you poison…
Sorry, they are giving you water which remembers the properties of poison such as arsenic. But just enough to help treat you, not kill you.
Does it sound idiotic and far-fetched? It should. This is obviously utter nonsense and goes against how we know reality works.