REAL MEDICINE OR PLACEBO?
Homeopathy is famous for its use of tiny doses to encourage the body to heal itself. Homeopathic remedies are most often used in doses of one part per million and often in "concentrations" beyond counting.
Last month we covered theories on how such small doses can act, double blind studies, etc. It was explained how the medicines become stronger as they are diluted and succussed (vigorously shaken). The latest scientific explanation (enhanced water crystals) was sketched out.
Whether you are a trained scientist or not, having a curious mind has led you to using or at least reading about homeopathy (here you are!). Scientists are usually trained to be curious -- within reason -- sounds reasonable until you hit something unreasonable like a medicine being effective even though there are no molecules to do the work. This conflict in the logic/science taught in medical and veterinary schools is hard to overcome -- Scientists are reluctant to spend much time on something that is contrary to what they have been taught. Can't blame them, but read on.
This article continues the discussion about the reality of homeopathic medicine versus the strict logic of a particular science. It focuses on homeopathy's action versus placebo -- Homeopathy's use in treating animals, and babies are covered as well as the absence of placebo action when the wrong remedy is given.
USE OF HOMEOPATHY IN ANIMAL HEALTH CARE
There are 200 years of clinical experience that can be examined - as well as the tales of the millions of people who use homeopathy for their ills, and the ailments of their animals. The authors first encounter with homeopathy was positive, it seemed to work on his acute backache. His next encounter with homeopathy was using it to treat farm animals - Armed with curiosity and a book on homeopathy for people (Boericke's Materia Medica) he was able to get a long standing abscess on a goat to go away.
Homeopathy has been used for over 160 years in treating animals. While the uses for the medicines are determined via experiments with humans they work equally well with and animals using the people symptoms by analogy. They work on virtually all problems animals can come up with - itchy skin, abscesses, worms, stalled deliveries, wounds, and more.
Luckily for the author it wasn't until a year into homeopathy that he found out about the absence of molecules, etc. Too late, he had seen the medicine work, and certainly the sheep, goats, chickens, dogs, and cats didn't have a clue about the molecules and he never told them. If anyone ever wants to tell you homeopathy is a placebo, or that you have to believe in it, have them use homeopathy for their dog's arthritis, or get that cat's skin itch under control.
There are many books on treating cats, dogs, cattle, horses, goats, and even pigs -- I have Amish and Mennonite customers whose families have been farmers forever, and they now not only treat themselves, but their farm animals, and they are ready to tell stories of cures at the slightest provocation.
HOMEOPATHY IS USED FOR BABIES
If your skeptic friends don't happen to have an animal to help them with their placebo problem, tell them about homeopathy's value in safely treating babies. There are at least 6 modern books on pregnancy, childbirth, infants, children under 1 year of age, etc. all of which cover a broad range of conditions for baby's.
For instance in Miranda Castro's book "Homeopathy for Pregnancy, Birth, and Your Baby's First Year" the following discomforts and ailments treatable (with homeopathy) are explained: Breathing difficulties, chicken pox, constipation, cough, diaper rash, diarrhea, ear infection, hiccups, mumps, sleep problems, teething pains, vomiting and many, many others. This author and the others have been successfully treating babies with homeopathy for years (easily a combined 100 years). If they were not helping their patients and/or were doing harm, they would be out of business long ago, maybe in jail, and the babies would still be howling.
Additionally, homeopathy has helped mothers through pregnancy and delivery with out fear that the medicines will harm the baby [or the mother]).
Another angle on the question of placebo. When the first homeopathic remedy is given, the expectations of success would logically be at their highest, and thus most vulnerable to the placebo effect. That is, if placeboes were the answer then surely the highest expectations would be on the first dose, and there would be lower expectations on subsequent remedies. But that's simply not the case -- When you hit the right remedy, whether it's the first one or the 10th try, the body starts working to heal as sure as an apple will fall down from a tree not up.
Written by: Joe Lillard, Washington Homeopathic Products
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