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Don't forget the water. If it's a normal headache, a glass is fine -- for a bad headache, better go with a liter or two.

(From Irregular Webcomic. Click on the thumbnail for full sized medicine of a sort!)

I'm all for home remedies. I'm also all for the power of the body to heal itself with placebos. For example, I know very very well that if I drink a full glass of milk -- not water, milk -- as quickly as possible when I have the hiccups, I will stop having the hiccups. It has always worked. It has never failed. I'm sure my mother told me it would work when I was three, and it did work, and now that I'm in my thirties it works still. I'm also sure there's some minor truth to it (pressure changes in the abdomen causing the diaphragm muscles to relax, or some such).

But mostly, I'm sure it works because I'm convinced it will work, and so it does. Even though intellectually I know it's probably just a placebo, the subconscious is certain.

(Of course, I'm no longer capable of drinking a full eight ounces of milk quickly because of the surgery, so it's academic, but hey -- that's neither here nor there, is it.)

Anyway, David Morgan-Mar brings the power of science and logic to the question of homeopathics today. Now, there's probably some useful bits in homeopathic medicine. The original basis of some remedies are probably perfectly valid. However, there's also some obvious and complete superstition involved... to the point where some homeopathic remedies are one step below sympathetic magic. And he hits on my own personal favorite -- the idea that the more you dilute a remedy, the more effective it is.

That's right. The more you dilute it, the more effective it is.

I swear neither Morgan-Mar nor I made this up.

So, Ophilia has taken this to its logical conclusion today. After all -- we live in a convenience society. Naturally, a pill form of homeopathic medicine would be optimized for convenience.

Don't mess with scientists who have a sense of humor. They will bring the Mock, and they will do it well.


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When it was first invented, homeopathic medicine did in fact outperform its competitors. However, this says more about the competitors (such as dosing with mercury!) than about homeopathy. It simply did NOTHING HARMFUL, and therefore was leaps and bounds ahead of everything else.

Nowadays, standard allopathic medicine is good enough that it's usually better than nothing, so homeopathy should be discarded.

Odd. This is double posted, so when you 'fix' it, half the comments will probably disappear.

As I was saying over there, if it gets more effective as it is dilluted, wouldn't the optimal dose be nothing?

The handwave for that, mckenzee, is the idea that water has memory, and you put a molecular "imprint" on it that remains even when the actual substance has been diluted to zero. This magic water is then dripped onto sugar pills or mixed into gel for caplets. One homeopathic research claims that this imprint can even be uploaded and emailed.

Reducto ad absurdem doesn't begin to describe "serious" research into homeopathy. Never have so many done so much to so little.


Run your hand under cold water. Or even better, grab an ice cube and hold it as long as you can. Or hold a REALLY cold drink. It really substitutes the pain. For mild headaches, it makes em vanish. For migraine, it totally dulls the pain enough to relieve you. It's great.

My weird remedy? Whenever I have a coughing fit, I raise a hand. Mom taught me to do that. I guess it has something to do with shifting the pressure on the lungs and/or windpipe, though I suppose any part of it could just be a placebo.

But I always say that if homeopathy were true, people should be keeling over dead all the time, considering all the toxins in our water supply at one part per billion.

Flyingfish: Actually, we'd all be feeling great. The core idea of homeopathy is that a little bit of a toxin that produces symptom X will actually kick the body into overdrive and cure that symptom. Classic homeopathic remedies are highly diluted poisons.

mckenzee: Clearly it's double posted to dilute our responses, so they'll be more effective.

Clearly it's double posted to dilute our responses, so they'll be more effective.

is it just me, or was that comment way funnier than the comic itself?

Okay, that's funny enough that I'm not going to fix the double post.

Now, there's probably some useful bits in homeopathic medicine. The original basis of some remedies are probably perfectly valid.

Actually, "homeopathy" is *just* the stupid dilution-makes-it-stronger theory. The whole list of herbal, folk and alternative medicines (which probably does have some useful bits if you can just sift them out) is a larger field, and I'm not sure what one word you'd use for it. (You might have been thinking "naturopathic medicine".)

Homeopathic medicine, as described, is magic. Literally. It's the Hermetic Law of Similarity, and the National Center for Homeopathy actually comes right out and admits that.

Not only is Hermetic Magic alive and well on the internet, a bit of googling finds that it's cited as an authority quite often. Ye gods, that's depressing.

(Also it's probably worth mentioning that, of course, *vaccines* are also highly diluted poisons. So explaining to the ignorant why homeopathy is stupid but vaccines are not can be difficult.)

joenotcharles, you seem to know a lot about this stuff. have you ever heard of "flower essences"? any thoughts about it?

No, I don't know too much about this stuff - I just went on a kick browsing through the Skeptic's Dictionary a while ago, and homeopathy stood out because it was so stupid. Bit of a pet peeve of mine, you might say.

ah, i see. i have a small amount of knowledge on a large number of naturopathic topics, mostly due to my mother getting herself involved in it. she's mostly focused on mixing herbal teas, tincures, topical oils, et al. she was on a big aromatherapy kick for a while. lately she's been interested in that flower essences thing i mentioned... the idea behind it is that the "energy" of different flowers and plants gets infused into a bit of water, and somehow can affect the "energy" of a person (or a pet) and heal all sorts of things. i'm not convinced yet.

anyway, i've found all this homeopathic discussion quite amusing.

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