Saturday, November 22, 2014

Troubled Water: Homeopathy, Ebola and the Oceans

Two incidents in the last ten days draw attention to the real problems with homeopathy.

The first is the claim by some that homeopathy can cure Ebola. Really.  It is claimed that, just as homeopathy can reverse HIV-AIDS, so it can be mobilized to find a cure for Ebola.  The Amma Resonance Healing Foundation in Ethiopia, established in the Netherlands, is run by the British homeopath Peter Chappell. He and his colleague Harry van der Zee claim their homeopathic remedy can reverse Aids and they are part of a group of homeopaths who seek to cure Ebola:

“The good news is that a small international team of experienced and heroic homeopaths have arrived in West Africa, and are currently on the ground working hard to examine patients, work out the “genus epidemicus,” and initiate clinical trials. This work is being done alongside the current conventional supportive measures and treatments already in place. “

This follows other claims about the power of homeopathy in offering cures for malaria, diphtheria, cholera and hepatitis as well as other diseases.  Homeopaths without Borders are on the ground and working – best of luck with this effort!

High-quality scientific studies show that homeopathy does not work for any particular medical condition. This position is even held by the National Center of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (NCCAM), an organization that has been given substantial criticism for being too friendly to quack treatments. Not only that, homeopathy is incompatible with core principles of chemistry and biology: the preparations are diluted to such a degree that there are, statistically speaking, no active molecule of the diluted substance whatsoever. In other words, treating Ebola virus disease with homeopathy is equivalent to treating it with water or sugar pills.

The second incident was the call to action by one of the leading homeopaths in the world to cure the ills of the oceans.  British homeopath Grace DaSilva-Hill has written to appeal to other homeopaths to drop some homeopathic remedies into the sea. She tells homeopaths that those not close to the sea can instead drop their remedies into a river. If even this is too challenging, then Grace advises homeopaths that they can flush their homeopathic remedies down the toilet. The remedy that is to be used today is called Leuticum – a homeopathic preparation of the syphilis bacterium. The aim of this exercise: to heal the oceans.

If these two examples do not demonstrate that homeopaths are not only very odd but dangerous, then I do not know what it will take to convince you that they are. There is overwhelming evidence that homeopathy is quackery. Why do we license it in Canada?

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