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Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Homeo Boys-Here's a pair of BBC pieces trying to show where there is no practical value to homeopathic medicines. I remember hearing someone at lunch last week plugging homeopathic stuff and I had to bite my tongue for fear of having a less-than-edifying response. As I understand homeopathic theory, the active ingredients are ultradiluted to one-in-a-million or less amounts. Unless there is some reason that the body responds better to itsy-bitsy amounts of something far better than modest amounts, the effect that you from homeopathic treatments is a placebo effect. That doesn't mean that there isn't an effect, but that the effect is from the recipient getting a good feeling about getting treatment. Thinking you're getting treatment will give a positive attitude that helps the immune system and healing process. The trick for care of things that don't have a good treatment is to find a way to get people into a positive frame of mind without bilking them out of their money. Part of me wants to say that if people pay $10/bottle for water and gets better as a result, then you should let them get conned. If you tell them they're just getting a bottle of water with a round-to-zero amount of the active ingredient, you lose the placebo effect. Not all "alternatve medicine" is suitable for use as crop nutrients. There are some natural remedies that show promise, and acupuncture seems to have some practical effects as well; I remember seeing a Discover magazine piece a few years ago where researchers were looking at the real effects of acupuncture. Also, chiropractic care has some benefit, but nowhere near as much as the hard-core backers claim.

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