- Why is the U.S.A Saying That Homeopathy “Doesn’t Work”?
- Is This True? Does Homeopathy Really Not Work?
- But We Have All Seen It Work!
- So What’s the Harm in Allowing Homeopathy Products to Be Consumed as Medicine?
- How Does This Affect Babies and Young Children?
- US Government’s Corrective Step
- So… What Should We Do?
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The (almost) unanimous opinion that experts hold is that homeopathy – an ancient for of alternative medicine – “runs counter to basic principles of chemistry, biology, and physics.”
Homeopathy has been in India since over two centuries times. It is one of the most common forms of medicine used to treat young children and babies. After we, as mothers, have exhausted all ancient wisdom of the family to try and treat our ill child, and tried all of dadi and nani’s home-remedies, we often turn to homeopathy for children instead of allopathy. But is this really a good idea? Is it safe and effective? A recent development in the U.S. has a counterview on homeopathy that threatens to change everything. If you have ever used homeopathy for your little one, or are planning to, please keep this important development in mind.
The (almost) unanimous opinion that many experts hold is that Homeopathy – an ancient form of alternative medicine – “runs counter to basic principles of chemistry, biology, and physics.” Indeed, it is often the choice of treatment suggested even by doctors and paediatricians, because babies and young children are too young to be administered allopathy medicines that have chemicals. From experience, many mothers report that while homeopathic medicines may not show instant results like allopathic medicines, they do have definite, long-term results with zero side effects.
However, the U.S. disagrees.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – an independent agency of the USA Government – has said that all manufacturers of homeopathic medicines should label their products to clearly state that ‘They Do Not Work’!
Why is the U.S.A Saying That Homeopathy “Doesn’t Work”?
Homeopathy has, in fact, a very large market in the US. Each year, Americans spend billions of dollars on homeopathic products.
Why, then, does the US government want to say ‘homeopathy doesn’t work’? Well, there are several reasons. Here are a few important statements made in the notice that was issued by the FTC:
- The claims of homeopathic products are not based on modern scientific methods and are not accepted by modern medical experts.
Whatever ‘evidence’ or ‘proof’ of working of homeopathy has been submitted, has been largely regarded as incorrect. In fact, even the validity of the clinical trials that were conducted to support homeopathy are being questioned. It is the general opinion of modern doctors and scientists that these results are only a matter of coincidence, wrong research methods, and a bias that homeopathy enjoys among its followers and believers. In fact, Nobel Laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan has even mentioned that homeopathy is bogus and harmful!
- Many homeopathic products are diluted to such an extent that they no longer contain detectable levels of the initial substance.
In the absence of the chosen substance, how can one claim with any certainty that homeopathic products work?
- Homeopathy’s central mechanism of action runs contrary to the knowledge we have about medicine and human biology.
The central doctrine on which homeopathy is based – like cures like – is absurd. German physician Samuel Hahnemann, who discovered homeopathy, believed that a substance that makes a healthy person fall ill, can also be used to cure the person. This is the central mechanism on which homeopathy works.
At the time that homeopathy was professed, we did not have the current level of knowledge and insight into the workings of chemistry, biology, and the human body. With increasing knowledge in these spheres, experts are finding that the central doctrine on which homeopathy is based is absurd. How can something that makes you fall sick, be also used to cure you (no matter how much you dilute it)?
Is This True? Does Homeopathy Really Not Work?
As much as we would like to believe otherwise, the fact is –
Yes, this is true indeed.
In fact, the US is not the only country to diss homeopathy. Australia, United Kingdom, and Switzerland too have arrived at the same conclusion over the years. There truly is no scientific evidence that can suggest homeopathy actually works. Whatever few studies have been able to produce proof of the same have been in fact called coincidences.
For a scientific discovery to be considered legit, the results of the study leading to it need to be replicable: if the same experiment were to be run again in the same lab, or in any other lab, it should produce the same results (within a statistically determined margin of error).
Most homeopathy studies fail in this context.
WATCH: Does Homeopathy Really Work?
But We Have All Seen It Work!
Indeed every mother, at least once in her life, has turned to homeopathy to treat her ill child. You might have done so too. Even if you haven’t used homeopathy or don’t believe in it, we bet you definitely know a handful of mothers who will swear by homeopathy and say it works like a charm on their children.
But we cannot ignore scientific data – or rather a lack thereof – can we? So what’s happening here?
The answer is: the placebo effect.
The placebo effect is one of the least understood phenomenen in the domain of medicine. The placebo effect is when a patient is cured of an illness in spite of being given a ‘fake’ medicine (typically, just a sugar pill, that has no active medicine in it), because the patient believed they were being given a medicine.
In short: the patient’s belief is what cures them of the illness, rather than the actual pill being prescribed to them. And many believe that is how homeopathy actually works.
So What’s the Harm in Allowing Homeopathy Products to Be Consumed as Medicine?
On first look at the matter, there seems to be no apparent harm. However, if you dig a little deeper, the implications of homeopathy being ‘prescribed as medicine’ become evident.
- Believers of homeopathy at times refrain from consuming any other form of medication. This can prove to be a dangerous situation in extreme diseases like diabetes, or cancer.
- Homeopathy – as a branch of ‘medicine’ – does not have the concept of vaccines. As mothers, we all know how important vaccination is.
- Billions of dollars, rupees, pounds are spent each year on the manufacturing of these ‘drugs’. Considering that they are only ‘placebos’, is it just to invest (read: ‘waste’) that kind of money and resources on them?
This poses a serious health risk. In fact, American health policy expert Timothy Caulfield recently equated homeopathy to ‘believ(ing) in magic’. In fact, speculations having been running wild that modern homeopathy might actually just be a scam.
How Does This Affect Babies and Young Children?
One of the most common baby problems that are treated with homeopathy is teething problems. However, there have been several cases where the baby was administered a homeopathic product to relieve teething pain, but had to be rushed straight to the hospital.
Several babies suffered from twitching of limbs, repeated siezures; some even turned blue and died.
There are several other things that could have caused this, apart from the homeopathic product itself: maybe that particular baby was sensitive/intolerant to that particular homeopathic pill; maybe the prescribed dose was high. However, it can be safely said that: homeopathy for kids is not a failproof method of treating illness.
US Government’s Corrective Step
While it is true that homeopathy has no scientific backing, it does enjoy favourable opinion of a lot of people, and chances are that it will be impossible for any government to completely ban homeopathic products from the shelves of pharmacists and drugstores. Hence the FTC has suggested that all homeopathic products should carry a clear message that –
- ‘there is no scientific evidence that the product works’
- ‘the product’s claims are based only on theories of homeopathy from the 1700s that are not accepted by most modern medical experts’
So… What Should We Do?
It is clear from the findings of careful reviews and studies carried out by more than just one country, that homeopathy does not work. Add personal experience to that statement, and we can say: we do not know how or why homeopathy works (or does not work sometimes).
Having said that, would it still be wise to use homeopathy to treat your sick baby? One may never be entirely sure.
The manufacturing of homeopathic products is not as stringent as that of allopathic medicines. We may never know if there is a difference in the kind and quality of homeopathy medicines being produced in India and other countries (and what the exact difference is, if there at all is a difference). But it sure is a good idea to take an informed decision. Do you want to give ‘placebo effect’ a chance at curing your baby? You may. But be warned that homeopathy pills do not just ‘not work’, they have the potential to in fact work adversely on your baby.
A possible solution to this could be to first give home remedies a shot. Home remedies are passed on over several generations in the family, and they sure have a lot of merit. However, it is important to practice utmost care and caution while doing this. Even home remedies can go horribly wrong.
One solid piece of advice worth considering is: never ever prescribe any medicine without first getting it approved by your child’s pediatrician – even a seemingly harmless medicine like homeopathy pills.