General Question

mattbrowne's avatar

Why do so many people believe that alternative medicine can cure practically any disease?

Asked by mattbrowne (31580points) April 12th, 2009

Here’s one counterexample (and there are others):

Only traditional medicine can save the life of a type 1 diabetic. Do you agree? None of the alternative medicines can provide a substitute. Will fans of alternative medicine accept that? Sometimes I’m not so sure. Islet cell transplants are being investigated and the use of stem cells to produce a new population of functioning beta cells. But that too would be a traditional medicinal approach of conventional medicine.

In my opinion this still means that we should take alternative medicine seriously. In some cases it can be very valuable. Not every illness requires strong pills or surgery. What is your opinion?

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105 Answers

Bagardbilla's avatar

I know!
Isn’t it just so egotestical of these quack Shamans to think that just because something has been practiced for over five thousand years in practically every part of the world at one point or another, with results in discovery, isolation, and use of compounds used (without credit, acknowledgment, but instead spite) in just about every modern medicine can be of any use!
Why couldnt everyone just have just waited till modern science confirmed what they had already discovered in trial and error?
Oh wait, I know, we should waited for science to make synthetic copies of already discovers compounds, in ultra high concentrations, so when injested, the patient can also enjoy the mile long list of side affects, so that the corporate medical entaties can treat them with even more meds! Yeah! that’s it!

btko's avatar

Around 60 % of medicines used by modern doctors were derived from plant and animal compounds found in tropical jungles. They found them by talking to local tribes and medicine-men.

There are definitely great things about modern medicine, but it’s worst trait is it’s self righteous attitude.

mattbrowne's avatar

@btko – It is my understanding that medicines derived from plants can be within the realm of conventional or modern medicine. Aspirin for example was extracted from willow bark. If a local tribe uses a particular substance it can become part of modern medicine. The tribe should get all the credit for sure, and not the shareholders of pharmaceutical companies.

I’m talking about slogans like “Treating diabetes naturally – What Doctors Don’t Tell You”. This might work in some cases of type 2 diabetes, but not type 1.

Qingu's avatar

If people claim that traditional/alternative medicine works, then I think “mainstream” medical scientists have a responsibility to test it and see its effects. (There’s been a lot of recent interest in testing traditional Chinese medicines like this).

The flipside to this is that if a traditional/alt medicine is found to have no positive effects, then people are being irrational and probably irresponsible hyping it. The biggest offender is homeopathy, which is absolute bullshit and should be derided along with astrology and leech-bloodletting.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Qingu – Homeopathy isn’t bullshit when a significant placebo effect can be confirmed by empirical data. But this only works for certain illnesses (some psychosomatic ones for example). You can’t treat type 1 diabetes with homeopathy. In this case you would be correct. It’s absolute bullshit.

Qingu's avatar

Okay, homeopathy is bullshit or a placebo. Anyone claiming it’s anything more than a placebo is irrational, deluded, or lying.

kevbo's avatar

My answer with respect to type 2 diabetes is that the “alt medicine” cure is not succumbing to the pitfalls of modern living. Diabetes is the result of an imbalance in diet and exercise that “native” cultures rarely, if ever, experienced.

I don’t know enough about type 1 (except for traditional research/remedies) to comment on alternative therapies. I think a lot of alternative therapies, however, derive some of their effectiveness from first tuning in to healthful living. Alternative therapies, to me, are like nudging a ship that’s mostly already on course. If the ship is going backward as a result of all the crap we ingest (literally and figuratively), then a nudge isn’t very helpful.

mattbrowne's avatar

The best alternative therapy for early stage type 2 diabetes:

- healthy food (I wouldn’t even call it a “diet”)
– exercise
– weight loss

During the last stage insulin is the best treatment and unfortunately too many type 2 stick with the pills because they fear the needles. But the needles will prolong their lives and increase their chances of not getting blind or their feet amputated.

casheroo's avatar

@mattbrowne, did you just have a question on this? i feel like i got into a debate with you about this already? lol

casheroo's avatar

i agree with @btko
I believe in natural rememdies, but I do not deny modern medicine. Homeopathic medicine, in my opinion, can work, but it just heals symptoms, not diseases. You have to be extremely careful with it.

Qingu's avatar

@casheroo, what exactly do you mean? Homeopathic medicine doesn’t “work” anymore than a sugar pill does. And there’s nothing to be extremely careful about because the “medicine” doesn’t do anything.

If I recall, the Amazing Randi (a magician who spends most of his time debunking hoaxes like homeopathy) once swallowed an entire bottle of the stuff. Nothing happened, because there’s nothing in the medicine.

casheroo's avatar

@Qingu Can you tell that to my friends son who almost died, from a Belladonna overdose, which is in Hyland’s Teething Tablets?

Benny's avatar

I’ll accept any remedy that has been proven to show effectiveness in a randomized controlled trial.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Benny – Yes, empirical data is key. And there is valid empirical data from randomized controlled trials about the effectiveness of certain alternative medicines. My question is about the people who create a dogma that covers all alternative medicines for all diseases portraying traditional medicine as unnatural and potentially very dangerous. I’m trying to understand how those people think and why they created this mistrust and suspiciousness.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t think ‘so many’ people believe it’d work
not in a western society, anyway
I think we should not ignore alternative remedies for common ailments
but for certain serious conditions, yes, it’s crap and works often only as placebo

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

It isn’t as though modern medicine cures every ailment either.
All holistic approaches are preventative measures not curative ones. The idea that someone can cure cancer by eating raw foods is ridiculous.

There are people who put way too much faith on holistic medicines and the same is true for conventional medicine. A pill is not going to make your life happy and great for example.

Adherents to both holistic and conventional medicine need to know that ultimately, the success rate for both is 0.

We will all die someday. Nothing will prevent this, just delay it.

nikipedia's avatar

Are you actually asking why people believe in alternative medicine or did you just want to rant about it? Is this a real question?

@btko: Where are you getting that 60% number from? Don’t you think that if plants worked better drug companies would quit spending billions of dollars on high throughput screening…..?

cwilbur's avatar

When alternative medicine can be shown objectively to work, it stops being alternative and starts being mainstream.

People believe in alternative medicine because they want to.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I am a big fan and believer of alternative medicine. I still respect modern medicine however. Basically I believe that alternative medicine can prevent many illnesses. It can cure quite a few as well. But when it comes to immediate life and death and/or surgery then I see modern medicine as quite wonderful. They both have their pros and cons. And they both work better than the other in some circumstances. However I feel that we haven’t explored enough the benefits of alternative medicine. This could be quite beneficial as it often has less side effects and can often help when modern medicine cannot. I also feel that people rely too heavily on modern medicine these days and are highly over-medicated (of course being medicated is sometimes necessary so don’t get me wrong). Not to mention that pharmaceutical companies are too capitalistic for my taste. And alternative medicine is available to everyone where as (at least in America) you must have quite a bit of money and/or health care to access modern medicine.

One area where we haven’t explored alternative medicine enough is the area of psychological illness. I believe it can, and it does, have a lot of potential in this arena.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Bagardbilla Oh wait, I know, we should waited for science to make synthetic copies of already discovers compounds, in ultra high concentrations, so when injested, the patient can also enjoy the mile long list of side affects, so that the corporate medical entaties can treat them with even more meds!

I’m with ya on this one. :)

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Qingu I suppose I am deluded then. I used homeopathy during a VERY traumatic time in my life and it made a huge difference. I was working with psychological issues though and not physical. But I can assure you it was absolutely not a placebo affect. I’m sure you won’t believe me but there you have it another delusional person who claims it worked for them.

Edit to add: (after reading more).
Actually the more homeopathic medicine you take the worse it works. Homeopathic medicine works better when you take less. That’s the nature of how it works. So the magician that swallowed a whole bottle, by nature of the way the medicine works, would not be harmed or have any effects because he took too much.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@kevbo I sincerely enjoyed your comment that “native” populations did not experience type 2 diabetes because of it’s nature.

@mattbrowne You may find this interesting. When people return to their “traditional” diets type 2 diabetes can often be tamed enough so that medical intervention isn’t necessary and many times it was even “cured”. If you google it you can find several really interesting articles. (there was a perfect article on this I read a couple years ago but now I can’t seem to find it).

mattbrowne's avatar

@nikipedia – Please go to the chat room if you’re looking for a fight.

mattbrowne's avatar

@RedPowerLady – Yes, this is indeed very interesting. My question was about the ‘practically any disease’ part. Type 1 and type 2 are very different forms of diabetes. When people learn about the success stories, as pointed out in the article you were referring to, they might hope such natural approaches have great potential for other diseases too. Maybe it’s one answer to my question, but maybe there are other reasons as well.

shilolo's avatar

@mattbrowne Please provide references for well-done, randomized, double-blind studies of alternative medicines. Most trials I have seen, from Airborne to St. John’s Wort to Saw Palmetto to Vitamin E have been failures. Moreover, as I have said many times, the sellers and marketers of alternative “medicines” have zero incentive to actually put them up for study. Since they can be sold as food supplements, they are unregulated. Why kill the goose that laid the golden egg?

Qingu's avatar

@RedPowerLady, I understand the principles of homeopathy. Taking a small amount of the opposite effect you want makes that effect go away. This is nonsense. And if you dilute medicine in water as much as you do in homeopathy, there are no actual molecules of the medicine left in the pill.

The reason Randi wasn’t affected had nothing to do with taking “too much.” It’s because there’s nothing in the pills. It’s a lie. It is a physical fact that homeopathic medicine is simply a placebo. The very fact that you claim it only worked psychologically means that it’s a placebo. That’s what placebos do.

shilolo's avatar

@Qingu Good points. But, this is a lot like Fight Club. Don’t mention it. If you tell people you are giving them a placebo, it no longer works…. As I always say, caveat empor.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Qingu I know what a placebo is. But what I am saying is not that it worked psychologically but that it worked on my issues (grief, depression, etc..). I know I won’t convince you that it worked because really that is quite close to what you are stating and it is a very fine line. But I can tell you that what the pills did for me I absolutely could not have done for myself at the time. Of course I don’t expect you to accept that since you don’t believe in them.

But in regards to this statement: And if you dilute medicine in water as much as you do in homeopathy, there are no actual molecules of the medicine left in the pill.

I don’t think the two are comparable. They are different types of “medicine” so do not work the same way.

Have you ever tried homeopathy?? Just curious if you are speaking from experience.

shilolo's avatar

@RedPowerLady There is zero scientific basis for the vibrational “theories” of homeopathy. Zero, none, zilch. What worked for you was a placebo. That doesn’t mean it didn’t work, because it did. It is simply that the reason isn’t because the vibrational energy of the water molecules retained the configuration of the original compound, but rather, because you believed. If you had believed so strongly in a sugar pill, it would have helped too.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@shilolo Okay but I didn’t believe it would work, i thought it was freaking nonsense when I took the pills. And like I said I don’t expect someone to believe me who hasn’t experienced it. Now I will warn you that you cannot convince me it was a placebo so it is useless to try. I was just sharing my viewpoint. Feel free to share yours with me but don’t expect me to change my opinion.

shilolo's avatar

Fair enough. It is my belief that homeopathy and 99% of alternative medicine is snake oil. There. I feel better now.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@mattbrowne When people learn about the success stories, as pointed out in the article you were referring to, they might hope such natural approaches have great potential for other diseases too. I suppose I would say that when they learn about one success they absolutely should believe there are others, because there are. BUT they should be educated about their decisions and really think about what would work best for them. It is silly to believe in all or nothing either way (and I don’t know many people who do think all herbal and no modern maybe mostly herbal, lol). I think this is more about giving people the resources to make educated decisions.

mattbrowne's avatar

@shilolo – Yes, many trials have been failures. The ones that looked like a success are highly controversial. Let’s take the example of meditation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditation_(alternative_medicine)

The health applications and clinical studies of meditation are products of the field of interest within the medical community to study the physiological effects of meditation. For example, in an early study in 1972, Transcendental Meditation was shown to affect the human metabolism by lowering the biochemical byproducts of stress, such as lactate, decreasing heart rate and blood pressure and inducing favorable brain waves.

There is growing agreement in the medical community that mental factors such as stress significantly contribute to a lack of physical health, and there is a growing movement in mainstream science to fund research in this area.

One theory, presented by Daniel Goleman & Tara Bennett-Goleman suggests that meditation works because of the relationship between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex.

There are also trials that disprove the effectiveness of meditation:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditation#Health_applications_and_clinical_studies

In June, 2007 the United States National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine published an independent, peer-reviewed, meta-analysis of the state of meditation research, conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta Evidence-based Practice Center. The report reviewed 813 studies in five broad categories of meditation: mantra meditation, mindfulness meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong. The report concluded that “the therapeutic effects of meditation practices cannot be established based on the current literature,” and “firm conclusions on the effects of meditation practices in healthcare cannot be drawn based on the available evidence.”

Would you be in favor of conducting more studies and more trials? Is it worth of investigation?

mattbrowne's avatar

@RedPowerLady – Yes, that’s the key issue: being educated about decisions. Meditation might help in some cases (see my post above) and in other cases it might not. I favor more research in alternative medicine. But we should also view modern conventional medicine as a blessing and a great achievement. Who wants to visit a dentist in the year 1810?

Qingu's avatar

@RedPowerLady, I have not personally tried homeopathy, no. But I would be glad to take a Youtube video of me eating a tiny bit of a pill (because that’s supposed to make it SUPER-effective, right?) and proving that nothing will happen. Because it won’t.

You said, “I don’t think the two are comparable. They are different types of “medicine” so do not work the same way.” Well, no. In order for something to “work,” it needs to be based on physical reality. The physical reality of the situation is that there is no medicine in the pills you are taking.

It’s a hoax. I’m sorry that you wasted your money on it. And I’m very glad you got better—the placebo effect is not to be discounted here, and often works wonders. But it’s still a fraud, and you really shouldn’t waste any more money on what are basically sugar pills.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@mattbrowne I’d jump for joy and eat dirt if I never had to see a dentist again, lol :)

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Qingu Well I say before you discount something of this nature where no harmful side effects are possible you should try it out.

Qingu's avatar

Well, I don’t think I need to “try out” astrology before discounting it as nonsense. And astrology—like homeopathy—does have harmful side effects. It robs you of money and props up a “profession” consisting of frauds.

Would it convince you if I made a Youtube video of myself nibbling a bite out of a homeopathy pill?

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Qingu Homeopathy is so cheap so it hardly robs you of money. Now seeing a homeopathic dr. is quite expensive, yes.

It wouldn’t convince me of anything if you made a Youtube video of yourself. If I made one of myself taking an aspirin what would you see? Would you see it working?

Qingu's avatar

Well, what would convince you that homeopathy is a fraud?

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Qingu I said from the very beginning, i was very honest, that I can’t be convinced it is a fraud. It worked for me and so I believe in it. And I am not an irrational person so I trust myself.

Qingu's avatar

Do you believe a placebo could have worked equally well for you? I mean, are you familiar at all with the placebo effect?

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Qingu I have a B.S. in Psychology. I’m familiar with the placebo effect. :)

If you have ever been in a pure raw emotional state for an extended period of time you might be able to understand how the drug worked on me, but it really is one of those things that you must experience to understand.

Qingu's avatar

People who claim to be abducted by UFO’s and visited by angels make the exact same argument. “You just have to experience it.”

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Qingu Of course you can’t make it so you are abducted by UFO’s or visited by angels. Whereas homeopathic medicine is readily available.

Qingu's avatar

I can wait outside for the aliens to pick me up.

Maybe a better anaogy would be paying for a scientology audit.

casheroo's avatar

@Qingu i hope the aliens impregnate you.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Qingu I hardly think that aliens, angels, and Scientology are comparable to homeopathy. But if you would rather wait outside for aliens than try homeopathy so be it.

Qingu's avatar

Scientology is a little more expensive than homeopathy, but it’s certainly comparable. You pay money to have your mind audited, which is just as realistic as the principles behind homeopathy. And some people claim it helps them.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Scientology is a religion. Homeopathy is a medicine.

shilolo's avatar

Sorry, homeopathy is NOT a medicine, it is a placebo, at best.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Thanx for dropping in… lol

Whether you believe it is a medicine or not it is still not comparable to Scientology, a religion.

And have you tried it???

Qingu's avatar

Have you tried being audited by a scientologist?

No? But you still don’t believe in scientology?

RedPowerLady's avatar

As I’ve said before. You can’t compare a religion to something used as a medicine.

shilolo's avatar

I think you can. Both require faith… There is as much science behind scientology as there is behind homeopathy.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I obviously disagree.
And again I would ask that you try it before knocking it.

mattbrowne's avatar

@RedPowerLady – Scientology is very dangerous. Homeopathy is harmless.

shilolo's avatar

I try homeopathy every day with my morning glass of water.

mattbrowne's avatar

@shilolo – Apart from the fundamental issues @Qingu is raising, trying homeopathy every day with a glass of water does almost no harm (except for the small cost involved). One can only win (placebo or some scientific mechanism we have failed to detect). It only gets serious if people refuse traditional medical treatments for serious illnesses which were recommended by the majority of doctors.

Qingu's avatar

Doing audits does no harm, except for the money you pay—much like homeopathy. You are also doing harm by basically propping up an industry (or a “religion” in Scientology’s case, not that there’s functionally much difference) that makes money based on fraud.

I’ve never been audited, but I did have an e-reading on a lark when I visited a Scientology temple. So it’s not like I’m afraid to try pseudoscientific nonsense. I simply reject the notion that I need to try something before I point out that it is fraudulent pseudoscience.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@mattbrowne I don’t disagree with that. But I still don’t think they are comparable.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@shilolo I have a feeling you are being quite sarcastic about taking homeopathic medicine. Which do you take?

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Qingu I simply reject the notion that I need to try something before I point out that it is fraudulent pseudoscience.

That could be true. But you are trying to convince someone who has taken it that it does not work. Seems odd if you have not tried it yourself. When the person who has taken it did see results. Of course, like I said from the beginning, you don’t have to agree that I experienced results. But it is silly to try and convince me it doesn’t work especially when I said from the beginning that I believed it did and woudln’t change my mind about the matter.

Having said that I’ve really enjoyed this conversation. Each time I respond I find myself smiling rather than getting aggravated. I suppose it has been fun for me. :)

shilolo's avatar

@RedPowerLady You are correct. I meant that while drinking my morning glass of water, I might as well have been taking homeopathic “medicines”, as they are one and the same.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@shilolo I thought that’s what you meant, lol.
Of course you could just buy a 7.00 bottle of meds and try it out & then you’d have some evidence to back up your theories. But I get that you don’t want to.

Qingu's avatar

Personal experience is not evidence.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Qingu But lack of personal experience is not evidence either. And I would trust my own personal experience over the tiny bit of scientific studies that have been done.

shilolo's avatar

There’s no arguing with anecdotal “evidence”, now is there…

RedPowerLady's avatar

Hey I stated from the beginning that I believed it because I experienced it. You knew what you were getting into. And I do believe that personal experience triumps science. So anecdotal or not I believe my point is valid.

shilolo's avatar

So, personal experience trumps science huh? Not sure that can be reconciled with reality. Someone’s personal experience may tell them that cigarettes are harmless, but science has proven otherwise. Personal experience told people that the sun revolved around the Earth (seeing as how it was moving through the sky during the day and the Earth was the center of the Universe). Etc., etc., etc.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Hey maybe I live in a different world from you. In my world science is just as biased as anything else. Not to mention the lack of science when it comes to homeopathy.

I will state that personal experience does not always triumph science. I’m not a freaking idiot (well you may disagree.. lol) but I do believe it is so in this case Because of lack of science when it comes to homeopathy and because of my experience.

But I think this is a convenient way of getting off the point. That homeopathy can work. And that you could easily try it and realize as much.

shilolo's avatar

Since I am a scientist for a living, I would have to differ with you on your statement “science is just as biased as anything else.” Perhaps you can provide me with an example of scientific “bias”? Further, your argument that a lack of science in relation to homeopathy somehow gives it credence is flawed by nature.

RedPowerLady's avatar

“perhaps you can provide me an example of scientific bias”

Are You Kidding Me?? If you are a scientist then you must be able to admit that scientific bias exists or else you really are living in a world completely separate from me.

Hello. Look at Pharmaceutics as an example of scientific bias.

http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/20020011205947data_trunc_sys.shtml
(that is just the first link I found on the internet since you said I should provide one)

There is a great book that discusses this topic but I do not want to argue it with you, especially if you have not read it. You might enjoy it, even if you hate it.
It is called “Red Earth, White Lies”. I understand you may not like the name but the author is really quite brilliant IMO.

And now we are getting into the nitty gritty of how I word things rather than the meaning of what I am saying. What I am saying , of course, is that I believe my experience is just as credible as the little bit of science out there on the topic.

shilolo's avatar

I’m glad we aren’t having a semantic argument, but, citations from blogs are not really valid. Sorry. Just like wikipedia is useless as a source, so are blogs (since, frankly, anyone can write a blog).

mattbrowne's avatar

@shilolo – Wikipedia is good to clarify definitions and semantics. It’s not a source for clinical trials or peer-reviewed scientific work, although at the end of a Wikipedia article you will sometimes find links to serious scientific work.

Qingu's avatar

@RedPowerLady, the problem with personal experience, especially in the case of medicine (and also, religion) is that what you are describing is indistinguishable from a placebo effect.

You seem to simultaneously acknowledge that what happened to you could simply be a placebo effect, but also believe that it was magic. Why do you believe it was magic?

RedPowerLady's avatar

@shilolo So I didn’t give the perfect resource, that article was actually posted on various sites though (just fyi). Anyhow you get the drift, scientific bias does exist (as bias exists in most fields). I do understand your point though and try to find good references when I can.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Qingu You make me laugh. I don’t believe it was magic. I don’t believe it was placebo & have good reasons not to believe so (as I have stated previously). I believe it was medicine.

Qingu's avatar

Medicine that has no chemical composition whatsoever?

Do you understand that if you water down a substance as much as you do in homeopathy, there is literally no physical substance left?

What else does that leave except “magic”?

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Qingu I think we have discussed this before. That is how homeopathy works. By leaving just a trace of the medicine. It is really okay with me that you don’t believe that it works. It did work for me and I understand if you can’t believe that.

Also did you know that homeopathy has been around since 450 BC?? I mean if it has been popularly (by popularly I mean: by the people) known to work for so long do you not think there is some basis behind it? This is where I think experience matters most. So many people, for Ages, have experienced it and it has worked for them. Who cares how it works. It does. (although I don’t think it works on placebo but of course you don’t have to accept my conclusions).
http://www.emaxhealth.com/60/630.html

Qingu's avatar

But there is no “trace” left. Do you know what a mole(unit) is? If you dissolve a chemical that much, over and over, there are no molecules of the chemicals left.

Astrology has been around since long before 450 B.C. So has prayer.

RedPowerLady's avatar

And I would argue that prayer is powerful even if you are not religious. I don’t know enough about astrology to speak on it but I would say that having been around for so long it has some value.

Perhaps, if you do not believe there is any “trace” left, you can think of it this way. That there is a resonance left, an energy left. Although I do believe that even that tiniest amount of medicine does work because I understand that is how it works. But like I said, it doesn’t matter to me how it works, It does work. And I believe that it works on a level higher than the placebo affect. I believe this is one reason why homeopathy doesn’t have a lot of science behind it. The amount of medicine in it is so small. We just don’t know what it can or can’t do to us at that type of level. I believe that it can affect us but that we just aren’t aware of exactly how at this point. I’m okay with not knowing, either way.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Qingu – “One man’s magic is another man’s engineering” (quote by Robert A. Heinlein)

Qingu's avatar

@RedPowerLady, it’s not that I “believe” there is no trace. There isn’t any at all. There are no molecules left of the chemicals in question. We can test this.

Earlier you objected to my characterization of your belief as “magic.” But here you are, invoking “resonance” and “energy.” Those words, the way you are using them, are functionally interchangeable with magic.

But you’re willing to entertain prayer and astrology, so it’s not exactly surprising that you’re willing to entertain homeopathy. How about animal sacrifice? People have probably been doing that for even longer than astrology.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Qingu I brought up “energy” and “resonance” as possibilities. Now I believe that homeopathy is a medicine.

Also please note that energy being left behind is a real and scientific phenomenon. Not that it has been tested in this circumstance but in others.

Now I don’t take offense to the idea that “magic” is real etc.. because it really just depends on how you define “magic”. It isn’t preposterous to believe in forces outside of our control.

Anyhow that is beside the point.
And so is animal sacrifice. Although I’m not quite sure what you mean by that…
And so is prayer. And so is astrology.

So why not get back onto homeopathy. It worked for me. And I don’t expect you to believe it. But it did. And I am educated enough, I believe, to know the difference between placebo effect and medicinal effect.

My newest question for you is that if homeopathy is so ridiculous then why does the FDA regulate it?? They are notorious for not recognizing the healing affects of many herbal medicines.

Now this is not conclusive but it does mention how homeopathy can work at such a small level or relates it to other processes that do.

“There have been some research studies published on the use of ultra-high dilutions (UHDs) of substances, diluted to levels compatible with those in homeopathy and shaken hard at each step of dilution.h The results are claimed to involve phenomena at the molecular level and beyond, such as the structure of water, and waves and fields. Both laboratory research and clinical trials have been published. There have been mixed results in attempts to replicate them. Reviews have not found UHD results to be definitive or compelling.”

shilolo's avatar

The FDA regulates it owing to a law from 1938 put in by a homeopathic physician. Look more closely at the FDA guidelines. Only homeopathic treatments for ailments that will go away on their own are allowed over the counter. To quote your own quote “There have been mixed results in attempts to replicate them. Reviews have not found UHD results to be definitive or compelling.” Ahem.

Qingu's avatar

@RedPowerLady,

“Also please note that energy being left behind is a real and scientific phenomenon.”

Energy from molecules dissolved and dissolved again in water until there are no more molecules left? No, that’s not a scientific phenomenon. I’m pretty sure you just made it up, actually. Energy is a scientific phenomenon, but it doesn’t work remotely like that.

“It worked for me. And I don’t expect you to believe it. But it did. And I am educated enough, I believe, to know the difference between placebo effect and medicinal effect.”

Are you? Please explain what the difference is, then. Because the placebo effect “works” for plenty of educated people too.

“My newest question for you is that if homeopathy is so ridiculous then why does the FDA regulate it??”

The FDA regulates everything sold in stores, including sugar pills.

You quoted from a website, not a scientific journal. And your quote is pseudoscientific, invoking “phenomena at the molecular level.” Again, replace that with “magic.” It’s functionally the same. We know how phenomena at the molecular level actually do work. Homeopathy doesn’t. It’s pseudoscience, just like astrology, just like intelligent design.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@shilolo And I could quote back the quotes that discuss how it has been effective for some people. Pick and choose your studies. There aren’t enough for it to be definitive. Thus my point. It’s not definitive. There is no scientific evidence against. There is none for. It worked for me. Yippee.

Anyhow my point was not in proving that homeopathy or ultra dilution works. Because like I said above it can’t be done. But my point was to show that it similar forces work in other circumstances.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Qingu
Here is the full quote:
Also please note that energy being left behind is a real and scientific phenomenon. Not that it has been tested in this circumstance but in others.

You can’t exactly leave that last part out. It is clear I understand that it has not been tested in this circumstance. I was simply offering up a suggestion as to how it could be possible as it is possible in other circumstances.

The FDA regulates everything sold in stores, including sugar pills.

They don’t regulate herbal supplements…..

I did not state that the placebo effect doesn’t work on educated people. LOL. You are being silly. What I said was that I believe I know the difference. Placebo works on your mind and thus your body. Medicine works on you directly. What I have said was that the way the medicine worked for me is not something I could have done myself at that time.

Also may I ask why you seem to be so offended by the notion that I believe it has worked?

Qingu's avatar

@RedPowerLady, it’s not a real scientific phenomenon. There is no energy left behind from the nonexistent molecules in homeopathy. That is simply not how physics works. If you don’t understand how physics work, why on earth are you even trying to debate it?

Be honest with yourself—when you typed “energy left behind,” what was going through your head? Were you thinking of some actual scientific phenomenon you’ve studied? Or did you just pull it out of thin air because it sounds “scientific”? That’s what pseudoscience is about.

Be specific: in what way did the homeopathic medicine “work on you directly” that a placebo could not have?

And finally: I’m not offended at all. I am just strongly opposed to irrationality—as my participation elsewhere on Fluther should make clear. I also feel bad that you’re being duped out of your money. You could buy candy with that money.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Qingu I believe I repeatedly said that I am not debating energy in homeopathy specifically….. I was relating it to other phenomenon.

Okay I actually wanted to keep debating this energy bit with you but it is off topic so I erased my response and am refraining.

I only took homeopathy when I needed it. And it cost me a whopping 9.00.
So don’t worry I wasn’t duped out of a bunch of money, lol.

Now I can’t be specific about how it worked on me because as I said it was during a very traumatic time in my life and it is not something I am willing to have picked apart.

Why do you think that believing in homeopathy is irrational? If it does no harm then so be it. (and really homeopathy is quite inexpensive and is much healthier than say candy because it either helps you or does nothing whereas candy puts refined sugar into your diet).

Qingu's avatar

I would be glad to debate energy.

You could have bought 12 Take-5 bars with that $9, which are delicious and nutritious.

Believing in homeopathy is irrational for the same reason that believing in astrology, prayer, or animal sacrifice is irrational. Regardless of the harm or lack thereof associated with such practices, they don’t do anything beyond the placebo effect. And giving such practices credence is harmful to society. I think it’s illustrative that you’re also willing to entertain the notion that astrology and prayer “really work” because they’ve been around for so long. What else are you willing to believe?

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Qingu Actually I don’t believe in astrology or prayer simply because it has been around for so long. That was just one argument pertinent to a point I was making earlier in the conversation.

I want to say something more about the energy but it is going to take me a minute to think of how to say what I want to say.

Here’s the thing. The homeopathy worked for me. So for me it was a good 9$. The take five bars would not have helped me. Do you not believe in any herbal therapies or is it just homeopathy that bugs you? What about Bach’s Flower Remedies for example?

Also I don’t think it is harmful to society to believe in practices that benefit some people (whether by placebo or not) and do no harm. How is that harmful?? It is not hurting anyone and it is helping some people…

Qingu's avatar

I’m agnostic about herbal remedies. Some herbs do have medicinal properties, and I doubt we’ve tested all the possibilities.

My problem with homeopathy is that, by definition, it has no medicinal properties, because it is diluted to the point where there are zero actual molecules of the “medicine” left. (Not that the “medicine” would work to begin with, though at least we could test it.)

I think false belief and pseudoscience are intrinsically harmful to society. I understand that it “worked” for you. I also understand that placebos and astrology “work’ for people. Plenty of people believe prayer and religion “works” for them. But they are factually incorrect about how this stuff works for them—namely, that it is all in their mind.

The “harm” comes in in two ways: first, if you’re gullible enough to believe in prayer, you’re also probably gullible enough to believe that George Bush is a Christian and thus deserves your vote. If you’re gullible enough to believe in astrology, you are also probably gullible enough to believe in homeopathy, or crystal therapy, or UFO’s, and other pseudoscience. Gullibility is a mindset that transfers to other areas of life.

Now, obviously, lots of people (including you) may not be gullible about other things. But you still pay money that supports a fraudulent and useless industry—the second kind of harm. Paying for homeopathy props up fraudsters.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I would think that you underestimate people in general. I would even suggest that most followers of homeopathy are well educated and quite capable of making the decision to put (a small amount of) money into this practice. I say so because most low-income populations and non-collegiate people may have not even heard of homeopathy. I know I come from both of those backgrounds and never even heard about it in passing. Not until I graduated from college did I learn about homeopathy.

What I would suggest is that you not rely too heavily on science because science itself is biased. But of course you are entitled to your beliefs and your lifestyle. Just allow others to have theirs as well. I think several things you classify as pseudoscience and false beliefs infringe on the cultures and spirituality of others. And if the only harm of homeopathy is in causing gullibility and a low cost then I would say it is much less harmful than many “actual medicines” on the market.

Qingu's avatar

I’m not calling you uneducated. Educated people fall for lots of shady stuff too. (see Maddoff, Bernard)

How is science “biased”?

Also, I agree that everyone is entitled to their lifestyle and culture. You should have the right to purchase homeopathic medicines if you want to. There is a big difference between arguing against a belief and arguing that you shouldn’t be allowed to have that belief.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@Qingu

You are right in stating that educated people fall for shady stuff too. My point however was that educated people have the ability to make appropriate choices for themselves regarding homeopathy. So as it is their choice you need not feel bad for them or feel they are so stupid as to be gullible in multiple circumstances.

How is science “biased”?

R U kidding me?? Look at the pharmaceutical corporations as one example. Science is driven by capitalism and by association as much as any other field.

_Also, I agree that everyone is entitled to their lifestyle and culture. You should have the right to purchase homeopathic medicines if you want to. There is a big difference between arguing against a belief and arguing that you shouldn’t be allowed to have that belief.__ I agree with that sentiment. What I am saying is that I don’t feel it is appropriate to assume people are less intelligent or overly gullible because they choose to live a cultural or spiritual lifestyle that incorporates such beliefs as prayer, astrology, herbal medicine, or even “magic”.

Qingu's avatar

You’re conflating “science” with pharmaceutical companies, which often manipulate research or just create fraudulent research. Corporate research is pretty far removed from the actual scientific establishment.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Manipulation of research in pharmaceutical companies is a perfect example and it is related to science. For one they must follow the scientific method. Secondly, their research is applied to medicine which is a science. This type of corporate research is Not far removed from scientific research because it is used to put medicine into our bodies. That is one of the most serious forms of research as far as I am concerned.

And of course that is just one example of scientific bias. I provided some links to Shiloh above that discuss scientific bias in relation to endangered species as another example.

You could also look at cultural research as well. Many times it is biased based on the researcher’s own culture.

And now I am slipping because there is a specific term I would like to use but cannot think of. Basically it refers to the associations of scientists. The articles posted in Journals are typically the ones that follow the current science. There is a lot of rejection that is not based on the science itself.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Qingu and @RedPowerLady – Prayer is irrational? Are you sure? A child might compare it with a phone call and the person on the other side is God literally taking back to you. A young hot-blooded atheist might search for sound waves or use some other scientific experiment telling everyone ‘hey, I told you nothing is out there’.

The concept of prayer and astrology are not the same. Astrology attempts to provide a physical explanation using the solar years as well as planet and stars. It’s basically irrational and nonsense, although in my opinion there’s a small correlation between seasons and daylight which have a hormonal influence on the pregnant woman. But stars have nothing to do with it.

Prayer is a metaphysical concept. It’s outside the domain of natural sciences. It’s a symbolic form of communication, but also a means of facilitating introspection, self-reflection or self-insight.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@mattbrowne I don’t think prayers are irrational at all. in fact I believe in the power of prayer. shhh.. i don’t want @Qingu to know or he may use that against me, lol

mattbrowne's avatar

@RedPowerLady – Okay, I’ve got to whisper too (never used this Fluther feature before): We’ve got something in common then :-) Yes, prayer can be very powerful both on the metaphysical and the real-life level. It doesn’t work for some people which is fine with me. Nobody should pray if he or she doesn’t believe in it. Dogmatic religion aiming at social control is the wrong approach. Free choice is key.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@mattbrowne Yes, prayer can be very powerful both on the metaphysical and the real-life level. It doesn’t work for some people which is fine with me. Nobody should pray if he or she doesn’t believe in it. Dogmatic religion aiming at social control is the wrong approach. Free choice is key.

I completely agree!

snowberry's avatar

These answers are way too long for me to read all of them. Sorry for just butting in and having my say without regarding all the current conversation. I’ve studied alternative medicine for over 30 years. Western medicine has saved my life and that of my kids, but it’s also given me medicine I didn’t need which has caused me a permanent life threatening allergy should I get exposed to it again, and I’ve had unnecessary medical procedures and surgeries that have permanently adversely affected my health and finances.

I got started on alternative medicine when the doctors told my mother they could not do anything more for her, and sent her home to die a very long painful death. I am convinced that had she taken advantage of some of what we call in this country “alternative medicine”, her suffering would have been greatly reduced.

Most of what I’ve learned I’ve learned from personal experience. And I know many of you folks are scientifically oriented (meaning that if there isn’t some experiment to prove it, it can’t be true).

Nevertheless, I’ve successfully dealt with many severe illnesses with home remedies. In my experience, if you give the body what it needs, it will cure itself. That does not mean I won’t use western medicine, but I am very cautious. Sometimes I go to the doctor, listen to ‘em, pay ‘em, and do what I think is right for me and my family. I’ve seen some pretty amazing things as a result.

snowberry's avatar

By the way, the whisper feature is a pain. It’s too hard to read.

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