Some Facts About Homeopathy
1. Homeopathy was invented by a German physician named Samuel Hahnemann in 1796.2. It is based on “the law of similars,” or the idea that “like cures like.” What this means is that a minute dose of a substance that would cause certain symptoms if ingested in a larger quantity has the power to cure a disease that causes similar symptoms.
3. Hahnemann got the idea when he noticed that eating a certain tree bark, at the time a common treatment for malaria, actually caused symptoms similar to malaria when the bark was taken in larger doses.
4. Had he carried his symbolism one step further, homeopaths would be treating their patients by barking at them.
How Homeopathy Works
Most homeopaths nowadays will refer to a repertory, an index of disease symptoms that lists remedies associated with specific symptoms. This will tell the homeopath what essential ingredient must be used to make the remedy. He or she then must dilute the ingredient in water at a concentration of one part in 100; some of this dilution is then set aside and diluted further at the same ratio.This is repeated a total of 30 times for a remedy to be sold as “30C.” Between each dilution, the mixture is shaken in a special way known as succussion. When the final solution is reached, it can either be sold as is or a droplet can be placed on a sugar pill.
Why Homeopathy Doesn’t Work
Short answer? Math.By the time the 30 dilutions are done, the essential ingredient now makes up 1 part in 10 to the 60th power. That’s 1 part in 10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000. There is no special name for this number; there doesn’t need to be one, because there isn’t that many of anything. It is highly, highly unlikely that even a single molecule of the essential ingredient remains in the final “remedy.”
Hahnemann, unfortunately, knew nothing of the concept of a smallest, essentially indivisible unit of matter. Molecular and atomic structure had barely begun to be worked out, and Hahnemann had the idea that his solutions could be diluted indefinitely and become more and more potent.
Modern homeopaths, needing a way to end-run the whole math problem, have settled on the idea that water has memory, and retains some essence of that original ingredient. Unfortunately, no mechanism by which these “memories” are stored or transmitted has ever been shown or even coherently defined; in actual fact, after roughly 12 dilutions one is left with water that never contained the original ingredient. And if that water is then made into pill form with sugar, it evaporates, and the pill doesn’t even contain the water that doesn’t contain the original ingredient. Which makes each and every one of them—wait for it—a sugar pill.
Color-coded for your convenience.