WestEndExtra

The independent London newspaper

Homeopathy is a nonsense

26 October, 2017

• I SINCERELY hope that not many of your readers have signed the petition calling for NHS funds to be wasted on homeopathy and “natural” remedies (Back homeopathy not big pharma, October 19).

The NHS should direct all its funds to making sure people receive the best medical care available and, I am afraid, that does not include homeopathy or “natural” medicines which, if you buy them from typical high street outlets, are also sold by major money-making businesses, preying on the gullibility of people and their lack of knowledge.

The lack of knowledge is not surprising, since becoming a pharmacist involves five years full-time study; to become a research scientist in the subject involves even more years of study.

But here are a few facts to help: homeopathy was invented in 1796 by Samuel Hahnemann, based on his doctrine of “like cures like”: a claim that a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people would cure similar symptoms in sick people: something which causes a rash, if massively diluted, could cure a rash.

It is nonsense, and if you follow the strict guidelines he recommended for dilution of the substance, you end up with the equivalent of one molecule in 15 swimming pools! Hahnemann himself is reported to have joked that a suitable procedure to deal with an epidemic would be to empty a bottle of poison into Lake Geneva.

Accordingly I am pleased to read in Wikipedia that, assessments by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, the United Kingdom’s House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council, and the Swiss Federal Health Office have each concluded that homeopathy is ineffective.

And natural medicines are not much better, their use is based on an array of pseudo-scientific practices based on “vitalism” and folk medicine.

And vitalism is utter balderdash: it says the components of living organisms are fundamentally different from those in non-living entities, which we now know is not true: a molecule is a molecule.

In addition many of the supplements sold by the ton in local shops are unnecessary and expensive. Even a major high street chain, which makes most of its money from this business, says: “it’s easy to get enough micronutrients from your food if you maintain a healthy diet”.

In any case natural chemicals are not safer or more effective than “synthetic” ones, take belladonna, for example… no don’t! It’s extracted from the highly poisonous deadly nightshade plant.

Unbelievably it can be prescribed by homeopaths, but one of the problems it helps with is excessive flatulence, which might be a suitable point to end on.

DAVID REED
Eton Avenue, NW3

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