Monday, January 20, 2014

Homeopathy – Nothing but Water?

There was a lot of social comment on the internet this week as a reaction to the publicity surrounding Target selling a homeopathic based asthma product. The comments were, as one might expect, wide ranging with very few intelligent remakes about homeopathy. The common misperception is that homeopathic remedies are nothing but water. They contain none or so little of the original ingredients they could not possibly have any therapeutic value other than as a placebo.

Homeopathic remedies are based on the concept of “like curing like” and that the more dilute the remedy, the more powerful it becomes. Both of these concepts are counterintuitive so the criticism comes quick. Early in the 20th century about 25% of practicing medical doctors in the United States were homeopaths. As acceptance of the germ theory grew and health care focused on killing bugs to cure disease, the popularity of homeopathy diminished.

Homeopathic remedies take a substance that is known to cause the very symptoms being experienced by the patient. Then, through a series of dilutions, the substances is reduced to infinitesimal amounts, or often removed completely. The resulting remedy is then induces the opposite effect, relieving those very symptoms. The theory is that as the molecules are removed, the energy of the substance is left behind and actually increased. For example, if you were bitten by an eastern diamond rattlesnake, the poison coursing through your body can be neutralized by injection a serial dilution of snake venom taken from the same species of snake. This works well, despite the fact that the antidote is obviously given after the snake bite rather than as an immunization prior to exposure. Strychine, a poison from the nuts of a tree creates nausea, vomiting, and potentially death. When diluted to homeopathic levels, it is called Nux Vomica, and is used to treat nausea, vomiting, and other digestive disturbances.

Recently, support for the homeopathic theory is coming from an unusual source – quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics states that the energy of molecules operates outside of time and space. In theory, the molecules in your body are in contact with molecules on the asteroid Pluto and also with the molecules of a wooly mammoth as you read this blog. Now that’s counterintuitive!

Current research indicates that the sense of smell may not require contact from molecules of a substance. When you smell jasmine in bloom, it has long been thought that molecules from the plant enter your nose, stimulate your sense of smell, and you are able to identify the substance. A recently released study indicates that the energy of the molecules is the stimulation, rather that the molecules themselves. Our nervous system then reacts to this unseen force. No physical contact is required.

Our knowledge is growing exponentially. However, we know very little about the world around us, and even less about how the human body works. I have found homeopathic remedies to be a very effective tool in my practice. In a similar vein, I also use herbs for which little or no research has been conducted. However, these herbs have been used successfully for six thousand years. Please keep an open mind.