So, how can it be that homeopathy sometimes seems to work? Well there are a few possible explanations:
- The universe is broken
- Placebo etc.
- They’re cutting the stuff with real penicillin
Full marks to those of you who selected #3. Because, that’s right, it’s yet another example of alternative drug pushers contaminating their products with undeclared industrial additives.
Previously we had herbal so-called medicine containing parasitic micro-organisms. And let’s not forget the herbals that were packing poisonous heavy metals. Or the ones that were flavoured with chemical pesticides. Or the ones that turned out to be, erm, radioactive.
And just recently, you will recall me writing about the Traditional Chinese Medicine that contained carcinogenic laxatives.
Well now we have homeopathic materials that contain actual real medicine. Here’s The Verge:
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) knocked the stuffing out of homeopathic drug company Terra-Medica last week, when the regulatory agency announced that a number of its “natural” remedies contained actual drugs…the FDA found that 56 lots of the company’s drugs contained the antibiotic penicillin and its derivatives. But Terra-Medica’s product information clearly states that their remedies are antibiotic-free. This is problematic because a number of people are allergic to penicillin, and the concentrations found in the products are high enough to spark a reaction.
And there’s the rub. While the entire premise of homeopathy is the claim that negligibly small amounts of toxic substances can actually cure disease, it turns out that some producers are chucking in far-from-negligible amounts of curative medicine that can actually hurt you.
But homeopathy is all about things that do the opposite of what they’re supposed to.
So at least they’re being consistent.
Brian Hughes is an academic psychologist and university professor in Galway, Ireland, specialising in stress, health, and the application of psychology to social issues. He writes widely on the psychology of empiricism and of empirically disputable claims, especially as they pertain to science, health, medicine, and politics.