You have heard these words spoken from time to time, usually to help shore up the validity of some product. "My Naturolpathic Doctor recommends homeopathic remedies." "My kid's teacher suggests Airborne®, it's homeopathic." They have an interesting meaning and I think everyone should know.
What is homeopathy?
Good question, it was created by Samuel Hahneman in 1796. It was during a time when bloodletting and purging were still being practiced. With all this bleeding, sweating & vomiting going on there had to be a better way.
Was it homeopathy?
For a time, yes. We should get more into the explanation of what it is. There are four parts to homeopathy: the preparation, miasms, dilution & the proofing.
Well, if they proved it...
That's not what the proofing means. They would test all kinds of things on healthy people and record what symptoms they developed from these substances. So if Ludicillin turned you green and broke wind often they would wright that down and that is a proofing of that substance.
So once we know what causes a set of symptoms we know that the substance resonates with those symptoms. What this means is that if someone walks in with green skin the doctor should ask "Do you fart a lot." If the patient asks yes then you should give them Ludicillin (you know, the thing that causes those symptoms).
Surely you don't give them the cause.
Well, actually you don't. One of the things homeopathy was trying to fix was doctors giving poisonous agents to their patients to hopefully cure them. So good ol Hahneman said the medicine should be diluted. And he said the more diluted the medicine was the more effective it would be.
Well the patients didn't need to know how it worked, just if they got better or not and since it was much more effective than poison, vomiting & bloodletting, people thought it was a good idea.
If you take a gallon of the Ludicillin and put it into 9 gallons of water you get what is called a 1 solution. If you put 1 gallon of the 1 solution solution into 9 gallons of water you get a 2 solution. 1 gallon of 2 solution in 9 gallons of water, 3 solution, etc. So a 1 solution is 10 gallons, 2 solution 100, 3 solution 1,000, etc.
What kind of dilution are we talking about?
For homeopathy, they want 28 solutions and 30 solutions. I've even heard of a 32 solution. So, for a 30 Solution you would have 1 gallon of the Ludicillin in 999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999 gallons of water.
That's a lot of water.
You probably need an image of how big that is. A 30 solution would make a sphere with a radius of 966,811km (1,611,351 miles). That's a ball of water 70% the size of the Sun or 2.5 times the distance to the Moon. Now imagine dumping 1 gallon of your medicine into the ball, shaking it up, and pulling a cup of that out. How much of the medicine do you think would be in that cup? Avogadro put a limit on that.
Yes, if you take a 1 part of a 23 Solution there is a 50% chance there will be 1 molecule of the substance in it. So a 30 Solution has 1 chance in 20,000,000 to have 1 molecule in it.
Is homeopathy a sham?
In not so many words, yes. It's fine when people are trying to fix a runny nose or a headache. The placebo effect should help them. It becomes a problem when they claim to fix more serious issues. Homeopathic remedies will never fix any ailment.