Wednesday, February 4, 2009

In the Pursuit of Truth

My continuing pursuit of truth and justice, or at least truth has led me to come upon something that needs to be addressed.

Homeopathic remedies.

I'll give you the take home points first. If you see the word "homeopathic" on anything, don't buy it, you're wasting your money, unless you intend to buy water or sugar and pass it off as medicine. In that case, go ahead and by it, though you could save money by just drinking water or eating sugar, they have the same effect.

Homeopathic remedies essentially follow the philosophy that you can take a chemical or substance known to cause a certain effect and dilute it, that is mix water or some other essentially inert substance like sugar or alcohol with it and when diluted enough, it will retain properties that help it fight what ever condition the original substance causes.

For instance, the venom of a snake causes swelling. If you dilute the venom say 5x or 10x, you will ostensibly get a medicine that will reduce swelling.

Once you know what the word homeopathy means, it is easy to simply reject it as nonsensical pseudoscience. And every scientific study done on the stuff has the same results. The facts are, most homeopathic remedies actually contain NO DETECTABLE AMOUNTS of the substances they supposedly contain.

What brought this to my attention? My wife has been buying "Hyland's Teething Tablets." The bottle has homeopathic all over it. If you take a look at the bottle, you'll notice that each substance listed has "3X HPUS" after it. What does this mean? First, HPUS stands for the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States. The 3X essentially stands for 1 x 10 to the third power dilution, or 1:1000. That is to say, the bottle is 0.01% active ingredients. It even includes on the bottle the information that one of the ingredients is 0.0003% alkaloids. For comparison a regular bottle of hydrogen peroxide contains 3% hydrogen peroxide, that's ten thousand times as much.

"But he likes them" my wife says. Of course he likes them, the only real ingredient in them is lactose, milk sugar. Of course he likes them. They taste like sugar substitute, try them, they're tasty. They're just sugar.

Interestingly enough, some homeopathic remedies claim 30 times dilution. That is to say the solution would have to have at least one molecule of the original substance dissolved in a minimum of 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules of water. This would require a container more than 30,000,000,000 times the size of the Earth. That's a container thirty billion times the size of the earth just to get a single molecule of the original substance.

So you tell me, good medicine or waste of money?

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