Something I didn't know: Arizona has a State Board of Homeopathic Examiners. Seriously? Do we also have a state board for horoscope writers? For witch doctors? For water diviners? Doesn't the Flat Earth society need some supervision?
How do you have a board of scientific examiners for a discipline that has no science behind it. A key part of homeopathy is the repetitive dilution of active ingredients to make "medicines." In fact, homeopathy advocates claim that more diluted mixtures are more potent. Here is an example, via Wikipedia:
Hahnemann advocated 30C dilutions for most purposes (that is, dilution by a factor of 1060). A popular homeopathic treatment for the flu is a 200C [1 in 10400] dilution of duck liver, marketed under the name Oscillococcinum. Comparing these levels of dilution to Avogadro's number, one liter of a 12C homeopathic remedy created from diluting 1 liter of 1 molar solution
contains on average only about 0.602 molecules of the original
substance per liter of the 12C remedy. Similarly, the chance of a
single molecule of the original substance remaining in a liter of 15C
remedy dose is about one in 1.7 million, and about one in 1.7 trillion
trillion trillion (1036) for a 30C solution.
So what does the Homeopathic board do, look at the products sold for $100 by homeopaths and say, yep, that's pure water, it must be a valid homeopathic brew?
According to our governor here in Arizona, the Homepathic examiners are not doing their job. What does that mean? Did some homeopath actually sell a product that had a measurable amount of the active ingredient? Anyway, the two comments so far on the Republic article sort of sum the whole debate up:
Commenter 1: The number of people injured by homeopathic treatments is a tiny
fraction of the number of people killed and injured by regular
allopathic physicians and prescription drugs. The allopathic community
doesn't like the competition, though, so they create a crisis.
Commenter 2:The number of people helped by homeopathic treatments remains zero, so
the cost/benefit ration is infinitely higher than that of allopathy. It's true that the allopathic medicine industry doesn't like
competition, but that doesn't change the fact that homeopathy is
nothing more than faith healing.
A couple of notes, just so I am not misunderstood:
- I am sympathetic with the desire not to load oneself up with drugs as much as many doctors seem to prescribe. I have been prescribed antibiotics about 10 times in the last 20 years and have actually taken them once. That being said, all those drugs and medical procedures have a real utility in aggregate. To some extent homeopaths are, like vaccination avoiders, free riders on the medical care provided everyone else. Go try your diluted duck liver in a plague-ravaged Middle Age city and see how far it gets you. Go back 100 years and see how many of your children you can save from early death with homeopathy.
- I am very sympathetic to those who are frustrated that the current medical profession provides only one type of care without competition. I have argued this same thing many times. Its absurd, for example, that we have to go to a person with 8 years of medical education to get a few stitches put in. Why can't someone with far less expensive education set up an emergency practice without an MD to dress and sew up simple wounds? Think how much this would clear out the typical ER. But we can't, because the government colludes with doctors to protect their medical monopoly and their single preferred (read intensive and expensive) style of care.