Article about treating ovarian cysts with magic water
It is grossly irresponsible of the Telegraph to publish an article like this without any accompanying opinion from a genuine health professional.
If people choose to “treat” their hay-fever using “homeopathic medicines” (i.e. “medicines” with no ingredients) that’s fine by me. If people choose to treat their ovarian cysts using “homeopathic medicines”, they could die.
Footnote to anyone reading this who might be inclined to believe that there is something in homoeopathy:
Let’s take one of the remedies mentioned: Nux Vomica. This is an extract from the Strychnos Nux Vomica tree which contains a number of highly poisonous alkaloids – none of which, to my knowledge, have any useful role in the treatment of hangovers. Fortunately for Annabel Croft, homoeopaths do not supply this extract in its pure form. They dilute it first. They really really dilute it:
As you will find if you follow the http://www.healthroughhomeopathy.com/ link for this article: “Over the counter remedies tend to come in 6c and 30c potencies. A solution labelled as '6c' has been diluted six times at a ratio of one part substance to 99 parts alcohol and water, whereas a solution labelled as '30c' has been diluted 30 times at a ratio of one part substance to 99 parts alcohol and water. 6c potency is typically used for long standing conditions, such as rheumatic pain. 30c potency is typically used for first aid or acute situations, such as the onset of a cold or bruising after a knock or fall.”
What this means is that homeopathic Nux Vomica with a potency of 6c has one part Nux Vomica to 100 to the power 6 parts alcohol and water – eg 1 ml Nux Vomica in 1000000000000 ml of alcohol and water; homeopathic Nux Vomica with a potency of 30c has one part Nux Vomica to 100 to the power 30 parts alcohol and water – eg 1 ml Nux Vomica in 1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 ml of alcohol and water (which won’t even display on my calculator).
(I hope I've got these figures right, but, hey, I could be out by several million and still make the same point)
This alcohol and water is sprinkled onto pillules (typically containing lactose) and these are then dried – ie the alcohol and water is allowed to evaporate. The pillules can then “be dissolved in warm water” (I am not making this up) which the patient can (presumably) either drink or dilute 1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 times and begin the whole process again.
Anyone who believes that these remedies could possibly have any effect is, IMHO, in serious need of clinical help.
I suppose, to be fair, I should at least consider the possibility of "water memory":
It has been suggested that one way to explain the alleged efficacy of homoeopathic remedies may be that water somehow "remembers" what used to be in it. There is, in should be noted, no scientific evidence for such a mechanism or for the efficacy of homoeopathic remedies, but I think it is also worth pointing out that the notion of "water memory" is inherently implausible.
* The tap waster we all drink has had all sorts of things removed from it and would be extremely hazardous if it "remembered" those constituents in the sense suggested by homoeopathy.
* There are (I suppose) chemicals that "remember" other chemicals (in a certain sense) like antibodies; but injecting someone with rabies antibodies will not produce a similar effect to injecting someone with rabies antigens.
* Even if we allowed water to "remember" what had been in it, how are we to explain the transfer of that memory to pills (which may be made of lactose or calcium carbonate or almost anything and which have lost all the water put on them to evaporation) and from the pills back to water?