Monday, November 24, 2008

Pharmacy Terms: Homeopathic

Today I had a woman who wanted a homeopathic version of Tylenol and was arguing with me over the fact that I told her they don't make a version of Tylenol that is homeopathic. After a little bit, I snapped and gave her the history of homeopathic medicine.

As I have mentioned previously homeopathic medicines are as effective as eating the box they come in. They are nothing more than placebos, with ingredients so diluted a Coke fiend couldn't snort anything fun out of it. So why do people believe so much in such a load of shit? Let's begin our history lesson...

Prior to the birth of modern Microbiology and antiseptic techniques, medical professionals often did more harm than good. During the Civil War, the death rate among injured officers was higher than the death rate among infantry men on the field of battle. How can that be you may ask? On the field, it was far less likely that a doctor would get to you.

This is a complete reversal from our thinking of today, but doctors in that day often killed their patients. There is evidence to suggest that part of the reason Abraham Lincoln died was due to the care given to him by his doctor. They would conduct exploratory surgeries, not only with out anesthesia, but without care to pathogens. One can not blame them for this as they did not know or fully understand how pathogens worked. They would bleed patients to cure their illnesses or given them 'medication' that was in fact far more harmful than the illness itself. Very often the patient would die simply from these procedures.

Now in walks the homeopathic doctor. Having little, or no, actual medical knowledge, the doctor would concoct various treatments for the condition being treated. Usually these were highly diluted concentrations of whatever the doctor could find. The strange thing is... this usually worked. Well it worked compared to being seen from by an actual doctor. No surgeries were done, no bodily fluids removed, no toxins were added. Thus the patient had a much higher survival rate.

So you see, the only reason homeopathic medicine 'worked' is because it was less dangerous than actual medical care of the time. Those old home remedy's that have been passed down which claim to be 'far better than any medical treatment' are only thought to be so because of this exact reason. Occasionally a remedy will actually be found to have a therapeutic effect, but usually it's just the placebo effect.

The next time someone tells you about a long lost homeopathic remedy which is better than any modern treatment, listen with high skepticism. Chances are it's nothing more than a big steaming pile of bullshit. And no one likes to eat bullshit... well accept maybe dung beetles.

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