The dangers of homeopathic medicines

Is it safe to take homeopathy

In July 2018, scientists from Yale University did a large review of studies on patients with curable forms of cancer. They analyzed 1.9 million patients and compared the overall survival of those who received traditional cancer therapy with those who combined it with alternative medicine or were treated with alternative medicine alone.

According to the review, treatment with homeopathy and folk remedies doubles the risk of death of the patient.

WHO representatives have repeatedly urged the public not to try to treat serious diseases like HIV, tuberculosis, malaria or childhood diarrhea with homeopathy. Any delay or refusal to treat traditional therapies in cases of such diseases is life-threatening.

Another problem with the safety of homeopathy is that its production and use are not as strict as medicines. In Kazakhstan, homeopathy exists in two forms: homeopathic preparations in pharmacies and individual prescriptions from private homeopaths.

The competent medical journal The Lancet collected a meta-analysis of 110 studies of homeopathic medicines and compared them with the same number of drug studies.

The review only included studies that used the most reliable method: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. In such studies, several principles are observed that allow obtaining objective data:

Patients are divided into groups randomly to avoid allocation to one group of more healthy patients than to another.
Some are taking the real medicine (or homeopathic remedy) and some are taking a dummy pill

Neither the doctor nor the patient knows what exactly they got: a real medicine or a pacifier.The review data showed that the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies is exactly the same as that of dummy pills.

Homeopathic research does not have such reliable data. Moreover, some homeopaths claim that their preparations cannot be studied at all by the usual methods: the memory of water and the energy of matter operate in them.

Why we believe in homeopathy

Many people believe that homeopathy works, although this is not supported by any serious research. But it does sometimes work – on the principle of “do no harm”.

Pills, consisting only of excipients, homeopaths treat dozens of diseases, from impotence to alcoholism and influenza. The cost of sugar and microcrystalline cellulose is not even one percent of the cost of medicines.

The cost of production is hardly much more. Marge should be the envy of drug and arms dealers.

Good old medicine

The principles of homeopathy were proposed at the end of the 18th century, and it is important to understand that Hahnemann’s methodology was very progressive for its time.

It gained wide popularity with lightning speed, because homeopathic patients then really recovered much better than patients of other doctors.

And no wonder: multiply diluted arsenic is much safer than ordinary arsenic, with the help of which (along with bloodletting, cauterization and klisters) patients were treated in other clinics.

Even Hahnemann’s contemporaries reproached him for the fact that with multiple dilutions used in homeopathy (first 100 times, then another 100 times, and so on 30 times in a row, for example), no active substance will remain in the solution.

Hahnemann laughed and wrote in The Organon of the Art of Medicine: “Let a mathematician explain to them that the smallest part of a substance, divided even to infinity, will always contain some amount of this substance, there will always be something, and this something can never turn into nothing. “.

At the beginning of the 19th century, such a position had the right to exist. However, chemistry developed intensively, and in the second half of the century, scientists already clearly understood that the number of molecules in any volume of a substance is measurable and finite.

Check failed

Modern medicine has not only become more effective than homeopathy, it has also developed objective methods for drug testing, the most important of which is the double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial.

“Placebo-controlled” means that patients are divided into two groups, one of which takes the real drug, and the other – an indistinguishable dummy pill. “Randomized” is when patients were divided into groups by lot, and not at the request of the doctor (in order to exclude healthier people from falling into one group than into another).

“Double-blind” means that neither the patient nor the doctor knows whether the patient is taking the drug or the placebo (otherwise their expectations could affect the outcome of the treatment).

It is the gold standard for drug testing because it is the only one that can objectively separate the physiological effects of a drug from its psychological effects.

At the end of the study, patients will likely feel better in both groups (the placebo effect should not be underestimated, and people generally get better over time), but it is important to make sure that the real drug group improves more than in the control group receiving placebo.