I have a lot of tolerance for eccentricity as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. I’m a western physician who believes strongly in modern medical science, but I’m not as rabid and offended by alternative medicine as many of my colleagues. As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. Which unfortunately it frequently does. Take homeopathy.
The guiding principles of homeopathy are (1) “like cures like”; (2) remedies are taken in very low doses (one might say vanishingly low doses, like one part of remedy to a trillion parts of water); (3) there is a single remedy for every illness, although finding it might be difficult. In nineteenth century America the homeopaths were the upper class of medical practitioners and you were probably better off in their hands, because their remedies did nothing. The conventional doctors (“allopaths”) had remedies that did do something: like kill you. Emetics, purgatives, mercury compounds, bleeding were allopathic typical remedies. You were better of with someone who gave you herbs so dilute there might not be a single molecule of the original left after multiple hundred to one dilutions.
That was then. This is now.
Homeopaths have come under fire for selling treatments for malaria and other tropical diseases over the internet.
Tropical disease specialists say the practice, though not illegal, is irresponsible, because clients who buy the medicines mistakenly think they are protected from disease and are likely to take more risks than if they had no treatment at all.
The trade was exposed by an investigation by London-based charitable trust Sense About Science, which promotes good science. “If you’re providing homeopathic remedies for hay fever or headaches, that’s one thing, but this is life or death,” says Simon Singh, a broadcaster who collaborated in the investigation.
Alice Tuff of Sense About Science posed as a customer preparing for a 10-week trek through malaria-ridden areas of Africa. She contacted 10 homeopathic practices in the London area offering malaria treatments. All of them offered the remedies without recommending conventional treatments or providing advice about additional precautions to avoid infection, such as using mosquito repellent and bed nets. (New Scientist)
This apparently is even too much for the British Faculty of Homeopathy who condemned it. The fault, they say, is with a legal loophole allowing homeopathic remedies to be sold by non-pharmacists.
As opposed to what? Having a pharmacist sell homeopathic remedies? I’m sure there are some who would be only too glad to sell homeopathic morning after pills. You know what you call someone who takes a morning after homeopathic remedy, don’t you?