The Risks Associated with Homeopathy

Ross Quade | Health | 28 Jul, 2015 | No Comments


A German physician, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, first devised the term ‘homeopathy’ in 1807. Debates have been flying ever since as to whether or not it is a useful and legitimate source of healing. Homeopathy is a kind of alternative and complementary medicine used to treat various illnesses through a more natural approach. It is the theory that diseases can be addressed by first identifying the symptoms and then providing a solution of a substance or multiple substances that typically comes from natural sources. These sources can be from minerals, plants, or even animals and are known to cause the same symptoms when given in larger doses than the miniscule dose provided by the homeopathic remedy. The idea behind it is that similar symptoms to ones being caused by the illness will cure the illness itself. However, the amount of solution taken is usually so minuet that it is almost non-existent. Besides this, there are several significant risks that come with homeopathy. If you are considering this path, it is essential to take these into consideration before doing so.


It Replaces Effective Treatments

In many cases, homeopathic remedies are consumed because the patient wants a more natural healing process or is disenchanted with conventional medicine. However, in many instances the healing effect of homeopathy only comes from the placebo effect that it has on patients who believe it will work. Often, the patient needs an adequate treatment to heal or cure their ailment. However, they choose a homeopathic treatment instead. This can cause the patient’s illness to progress, as they are not properly treating it. When a person has an illness, time is critical to treating the malady so that it does not progress any further. Taking effective treatment too late or not at all can lead to serious harm to the patient or even death as the illness progresses to the point where conventional medicine can no longer control it.


Adverse Effects From Improper Dilution

Adverse effects can happen when the proper dilution of the homeopathic remedies have not taken place. In most circumstances, the homeopathy will be devoid of any active harmful molecules. However, if a homeopath prescribes a poisonous substance, such as arsenic, that has not diluted properly, it can cause great harm to the patient. Such remedies must be carefully administered to ensure that only a tiny amount is used; otherwise it can cause the death of the patient.


A Pill Can Cure Anything Promotion

Many homeopathic remedies are for things that can only actually be cured through work, and not popping a pill. For instance, there are homeopathic “cures” for social anxiety and grief. However, taking homeopathic remedies and hoping that the problem will go away is not enough to alleviate such issues. In fact, it may deter the patient from implementing genuinely helpful things such as working to build confidence and self-esteem or talking with a therapist.


Scientific Evidence May Be Misrepresented

Homeopaths have been known to misrepresent scientific evidence to those who are scientifically illiterate or unsuspecting and thus undermine the public understanding of what homeopathy is. Good doctors attempt to fill patients in on the treatment they are receiving and educate them on the use and effects of the medicine they are taking. However, the majority of homeopaths choose to avoid any such discussion with their patients. Additionally, there is a major ethical issue with homeopathy in regards to the fact that it involves being deceptive to the patient in the case that the only beneficial effect is the placebo. If patients are told that they are taking a placebo pill, the placebo effect is diminished. Due to this, homeopaths avoid explaining any scientific basis for their treatment by just stating that it has worked for other people.


Possibility of Negative Reactions

Paul Posadzki of the Peninsula Medical School did a study of the adverse effects of homeopathy by reviewing published case series and reports. He found 30 reports of adverse effects caused by substituting conventional medicine with the use of homeopathy. The adverse effects varied from mild to severe and included four deaths. The most common negative effects were intoxication and allergic reactions to the substances.


Advocates Dosing Small Children With Poison

Although, as stated earlier, the doses are miniscule, the fact is that some homeopathic remedies call for a small amount of poison to be consumed. Although the amount truly is tiny, it is still a very controversial concept when it comes to using homeopathy on young children, especially when it comes to using poisonous substances. For instance, Children’s ColdCalm is a homeopathic product made by Boiron that replaces cold medicine. The instructions call for giving half the package, which is 40 pills, to the child within 12 hours. The package claims to relieve multi-symptom colds. However, not only is there no evidence that it works, but the ingredients used in ColdCalm are extremely poisonous in higher doses. These include such things as Belladonna, which is an extraordinarily toxic plant, and Nux vomica, which is another term for strychnine; a rat poison. The American Cancer Society states “strychnos nux-vomica has not been proven effective for the treatment of any illness…conventional medical practitioners do not recommend it as a medicine.”


Homeopathy is Unregulated

No claims from such companies as Boiron, which is in the field of Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia, have been tested. This indicates that when such enterprises or homeopaths use small doses of poison, there is no way to know exactly how much of the poison is in one tablet. The FDA does not regulate Homeopathic Pharmacopeia, which means they are automatically approved as long as the homeopaths list them as a pharmacopeia. No evidence of their effectiveness or even safety is required to go on the market.


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