ICB: Homeopathy - don’t try this at home
Welcome to the latest edition of I Call Bullshit. For those of you who only ever read the first line, here’s the take-home message from this ICB column: Homeopathy cannot prevent or ‘treat’ domestic violence.
There. Now hopefully most of you are thinking something along the lines of: “What kind of deluded moonbat would think that it could? Crikey, this Shepherd bird really is shooting fish in a barrel.”
But here’s the thing: Millions of people believe homeopathy can do all sorts of things despite a complete lack of evidence and the fact the entire practice is predicated on a magical foundation of mumbo jumbo.
Private health insurers waste money on it; chemists’ shelves groan with the stuff; people have died from relying on it. Otherwise sensible people have been convinced by the industry that diluting substances so much that the original substance is no longer even present can prevent whooping cough or treat autism because ‘like cures like’ and water ‘remembers’.
In Mitchell and Webb’s classic skit Homeopathic A & E the two comics play doctors bemoaning the death of a patient:
Webb: Sometimes I think a trace solution of deadly nightshade or a statistically negligible quantity of arsenic just isn’t enough.
Mitchell: That’s crazy talk, Simon. OK, so you kill the odd patient with cancer or heart disease… or bronchitis, flu, chicken pox or measles… but when someone comes in with a vague sense of unease or a touch of the nerves or even just more money than sense, you’ll be there for them. Bottle of basically just water in one hand and a huge invoice in the other.
They’ve nailed it. But, disturbingly, when you try to find that clip you have to wade through link after link of advice on how to use homeopathy in an emergency situation.
What (potentially fatal) stupidity. Here’s a tip: You could probably drink a water-based homeopathic ‘remedy’ for dehydration, or use an alcohol-based one to disinfect something.
But you can’t, as Sydney-based Homeopathy Plus suggests, use bits of a bee to treat anaphylaxis, or highly diluted carbonised bits of vegies to treat “near-death states with gasping and flatulence”, or decomposed beef for infections.
And it is absolutely abhorrent to suggest – as Homeopathy Plus does – that homeopathy could help control behaviour such as domestic violence.
According to their website, people are “shocked” to realise that homeopathy can treat “excesses of human behaviour”. “Homeopathy places us back in control of emotions and responses that, as part of a state of ill-health, once controlled us, and lets us choose how we act and behave,” it says.
The website then links to an article that claims “homeopathy is a safe and effective way to treat the victims as well as the culprits of domestic violence”. This steaming pile of undiluted rubbish claims homeopathy can not only treat psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia but that various herbal concoctions will treat people’s anguish. Presumably that’s for the victims.
There are also suggestions for treating violent anger and abusive behavior by abusers.
There’s a token nod to getting outside help, but the main thrust of this appalling article is that feeding an abuser an absurdly weak potion will somehow dissipate their violent tendencies.
Clearly, all these abusive bastards need is a drop or two of some sort of plant, diluted and shaken about. And the victim should just have a cup of water and a good lie down. I Call Bullshit. Dangerous bullshit.
The National Health and Medical Research Council has formed a Homeopathy Working Committee to develop a position statement on homeopathy. A draft statement found it was unethical to use homeopathy because it doesn’t work, and that it could be risky if using it caused someone to delay real, effective treatment.
While we’re waiting for this position statement from the country’s leading expert body, people are gleefully profiting from fraudulent, dangerous bunkum. The response from authorities, so far, is as weak as a homeopathic remedy.
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