It would appear

to a skeptic that

homeopaths are

involved in a 






Homeopathy Primer
 By Bryce Buchanan 
Homeopathy was invented by a German physician, Samuel Hahnemann, approximately 200 years ago during a time when medical science was very primitive and bloodletting was practiced to cool feverish patients. Hahnemann observed that when he ingested the malaria remedy quinine, the drug produced symptoms similar to malaria itself. He then made a rather large inductive leap and declared “The Law of Similars,” which claims that a substance which produces symptoms similar to a disease would be effective in treating that disease.

     Hahnemann also developed another key tenet of homeopathy, the “Law of Infinitesimals.” This law states that the smaller the dose of a medicine, the more powerful will be its healing affects. A remedy marked 12x has been diluted by a factor of 10 to the twelfth power, thus leaving one part of solute per trillion parts of diluting agent. At a dilution of 24x the laws of chemistry tell us there is less than a fifty percent chance that a single molecule of the medication remains in the diluting agent.

     It would appear to a skeptic that homeopaths are involved in a transparently fraudulent enterprise, selling and making health claims for bottles of water. But according to Hahnemann’s theory, substances can be “potentized” as they are being diluted. Shaking the mixture at least 40 times at each dilution releases the medication’s “immaterial and spiritual powers” into the diluting agent.

     The promotional booklet A Guide to Homeopathic Medicine for Pharmacists, which Schnabel shared at his Salem lecture, states, “Just as the mechanism of action of many homeopathic remedies remains a mystery, homeopaths do not understand precisely how their medicines work.”

     One clue to how they may work is contained in the words of Kyra Walsh, owner of a store peddling homeopathic remedies. “If you don’t have faith in the healing, it won’t work.” She adds, “Belief is part of the process” (Time, Sept. 95).

     If believing in a highly implausible theory which lacks supporting evidence is gullibility, then gullibility must be part of the process as well.

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© 2000 Oregonians for Rationality