A series of posts examining some of the statements made on Wikipedia regarding Homeopathy. (These comments derive from a 2012 edition of the Wikipedia article. I will not quote the entire article but will quote only those statements which should be corrected.)
Beginning with the beginning of the Wikipedia article, homeopathy is indeed the “Therapy of Similars,” or using substances that might cause symptoms in a healthy person to remove those symptoms from a sick person. The second tenet of homeopathy, which we’ll spend a lot of time discussing vis-a-vis the Wikipedia page, is the Minimum Dose, in which only the amount of medicine is used which is needed to elicit a response from the organism.
The rest of the first paragraph goes like this:
“Scientific research has found homeopathic remedies ineffective and their postulated mechanisms of action implausible.”
FALSE. Homeopathy as a discipline does not postulate a mechanism of action, and … well, just false. Claiming to represent all “scientific research” on homeopathy in that sentence makes the statement untrue. It would be accurate to say that some medical research finds some remedies ineffective in the treatment of some conditions. It would also be accurate to say that some medical research finds homeopathic remedies effective in some conditions.
In fact, one of the most scientifically rigorous laboratory experiments ever performed found a homeopathic dilution of mercuric chloride 30C (one part in 10x60th parts of water, theoretically) to have a measurable effect on a living chemical process (yeast hydrolysis). This conclusion was derived from 15 years of laboratory trials that were performed twice over and yielded the same results.
Experiments can be more scientific or less scientific, results can be more biased or less biased. Simply calling it “scientific” research does not mean that it yields accurate data. For example, some research finds antidepressants to be more than 60 percent effective in treating depression, while a recent study that was not funded by a pharmaceutical company found antidepressants to be no more effective than placebo. And there is still no proven link between serotonin levels and depression, so what does “scientific research” say about the very common use of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibiting antidepressant medications?
Studies contradict each other all the time, and one of the strengths of homeopathy is that its approach to healing is always the same: use the most similar substance in the minimum dose. The homeopathic community does not need to issue corrective statements every time a new study comes out. Our drug trials are directly applicable to clinical realities. As long as the information from those trials is applied homeopathically, our remedial substances can be applied effectively.
Finally, homeopathy as a discipline postulates no mechanism for the action of its remedial substances. Homeopaths have often speculated as to the mechanism. Recent basic science suggests, as the founder of the discipline asserted, that most of us were wrong to speculate. Practically speaking, however, homeopathy as a discipline merely observes that these substances have an action on living beings.
(The edition of the Wikipedia page that we are examining existed sometime during 2012. We will not attempt to keep up with the page edits since then.)