Monday, June 13, 2016

Homeopathy Explained: it's a slapping good time!

Homeopathic Medicine - Slap happy Pseudoscience 

How to make a Homeopathic medicine:
  1. Add one part poison to 100 parts water.
  2. Slap the container ten times with a stick wrapped with leather and stuffed with horse hair.
  3. Repeat this procedure by taking one part of the solution and adding to 100 parts water.
  4. Repeat 12 times to create a one in a trillion dilution.
  5. Price at the same or higher than a legitimate drug.

You are now a homeopath!

This is the same for almost any homeopathic remedy. The only differences are the poisons used, the dilution medium, which can be water, alcohol, or lactose (milk sugar). The only hard part is getting your slapping stick and a suitable poison.

If you are having a problem locating a suitable slapping stick, turn off 'safe search' on your Google browser and look for leather slappers. You'll find enough to start your own homeopathic drug company!

Poisons are a lot harder to find. Here at Boys Books, we frown on poisons. A big, sad, clown frown. Instead, try the experiment with food coloring and a flavoring like mint or vanilla. Another good ingrediant is sugar (classified as a very slow acting poison).  Try all three to test for color, taste, and effect. For example, if you use water, red food coloring, vanilla extract, and sugar, you should be able to create a homeopathic remidy that cures sunburns, tastes like chocolate cake, and will make you skinny as homeopathic remedies have the opposite effect of their ingredients.

Homeopathy is very modern. Here are a couple other important medical discoveries plus homeopathy so you will see how it relates to modern medicine:
  • 1897 Aspirin
  • 1862 Germ Theory
  • 1847 Hand Washing
  • 1796 Homeopathy
Homeopathy is obviously a superior medicine because it predates those modern discoveries like aspirin, germ theory and washing your hands to prevent the spread of disease. Yes, homeopathy was created before those money grubbing guys like Pasture, Bayer, or Soap (I assume that's who invented soap). That's right, homeopathy was invented to fight the high cost of healthcare before there was high-priced healthcare.

What Scientists Say

Real scientists have a lot of bad news for homeopaths (sounds like a type of serial killer, doesn't it). First is that diluting a substance never makes it stronger or more active. Less is less, not more. The only thing that diluting a poison does is make it less poisonous. In fact, that was sort of the point of homeopathy. At the time it was invented, doctors, snake oil salesmen, and the local chemist were experimenting with poisons as therapy.

Poison is a useful drug. Poisons, in the correct quantity can kill parasites or cancer. In the early world, there were a lot of parasites! So, a happy experimental result in a cure which is followed by a over reaction. If it cured one thing, why not try it in other places? Sadly in the early days before controlled experiments, any discovery could lead to irrational exuberance. The intend of the homeopath was to first find less of the poison that might cure, but not harm. Good intentions, but at a certain point, less is not less, but nonexistent. Now things get interesting.

The homeopaths kept getting good results. The homeopaths of course take a great deal of credit in making a discovery in chemistry, but it is really a discovery in human psychology. Homeopaths had discovered the placebo effect.

The Placebo Effect

If you give someone a medicine, they will react to it as medicine, even if it is fake medicine. Tell them a medicine will make their headache go away and indeed, it might. The brain can release a lot of chemicals in response to suggestion. If you switched out someone's aspirin for something that looked like aspirin, they might not notice. At least for a while. The brain eventually stops reacting like it is taking aspirin. 

Where does the placebo effect come from? There are a lot of theories, but the simplest is that we remember what certain medicines do to us and get into that same state of mind. Just like Pavlov's dogs, instead of salivating, we feel better. 

Ever notice that you feel better immediately after taking a drug? It is actually impossible for many drugs to act instantly. For example, standard aspirin takes 30 minutes or more to begin working, yet we feel relief right away because we are remembering how well it worked. If we are given a sugar pill and told it is twice as strong as aspirin, we feel even better in part because we imagine the effect of aspirin and our imagination boosts the memory.