Homeopathic medicines: what they are and why their effectiveness has not been proven.
In 2010, a flash mob took place in major cities in Great Britain: the audience swallowed several packs of pills or medicine bottles at once. However, in the course of the mass overdose, not a single participant was injured, because all the medicines taken were homeopathic. – they did not contain any active ingredients. Thus, the audience clearly demonstrated that homeopathy does not work, and announced that it is time to stop the UK NHS funding the non-working pills..
In Kazakhstan, homeopathic medicines can be bought at any pharmacy or even selected individually from private homeopaths. It is not known how much Kazakhstanis spend on homeopathy, there are no such statistics. Also, there are no statistics reflecting how many buyers understand what homeopathy is and buy it deliberately, how much they use it in the treatment of serious diseases and what the consequences of this may be.
Informburo.kz tells what homeopathy is, why it does not have a physiological effect on the body, is it safe to use it and what are the requirements for it in the legislation of our country.
What is homeopathy and how did it come about.
Homeopathy was invented by Samuel Hahnemann – a physician disillusioned with the medicine of his day. Hahnemann lived and worked at the end of the 18th – the beginning of the 19th century, and I must say that he was disappointed for a reason. At that time, homeopathy really turned out to be a very effective method of treatment and saved many lives, because it did not kill patients in the same way as the then popular bloodletting and huge doses of arsenic or opium. Hahnemann’s homeopathic treatment is based on two main principles:
1. Like is treated like. The homeopath selects a substance that causes the symptoms in a healthy person that are observed in a sick person. If the patient vomits, then you need to take a substance that will cause vomiting in a healthy person. If the patient has a fever – we take that from which a healthy person will be in a fever. Classical homeopathy uses arsenic, toadstool juice, mercury cyanide, acetone and other substances that cause various unpleasant symptoms in healthy people.
Fortunately, Hahnemann believed that in high concentration such substances can only aggravate the disease, so he came up with the second principle – breeding.
2. The medicine must be strongly diluted. This process is called “potentiation” or “dynamization” by homeopaths. In homeopathy, decimal (indicated by X or D) and centesimal dilutions (indicated by C) are used, which are repeated many times. One of the common dilutions in homeopathy 30C – this is the centesimal dilution and must be repeated 30 times.
Take any substance, for example, caffeine: on the websites of homeopaths they write that it is indicated for exhaustion, overwork and headaches. We use a 30C dilution: dilute 2 ml of caffeine in a glass of water – 200 ml of water, then we take 2 ml from this dilution and dilute in a glass of water – and so only 30 times. After the 13th dilution, only one molecule of the active substance will remain in one mole of this solution, and then we will dilute the water with water.
How much water helps with exhaustion, overwork and headaches – separate question.
It was the principle of breeding that helped so many people survive in the 19th century: being treated with water, in which not a single molecule of arsenic remained, is much safer than concentrated arsenic. But it’s not just about the dilution: the drug also needs to be shaken in a certain way after each dilution. Shaking – an important stage in the preparation of the drug: according to homeopathic theory, this activates the vitality of the substance.
Why Homeopathy Doesn’t Work.
We are lucky to live in the 21st century, when science and medicine have made great strides forward. Therefore, now homeopathy is considered a type of alternative medicine: it includes all methods of treatment, the effectiveness and safety of which have not been scientifically proven..
According to Hahnemann’s theory, a homeopathic remedy should work by activating the vital energy of the substance, and a strong dilution helps the water “remember” information about what needs to be treated. There was a lack of knowledge in Hahnemann’s time, but now science can explain why homeopathic remedies do not have any physiological effect on the body:
Water cannot “remember”. Research has not found any memory in water. Substances have no vital energy.
The number of molecules in any substance is finite, therefore, after homeopathic dilutions, not a single molecule of the active substance remains in the solution – there is nothing to influence the body.
And although homeopathy does not have any physiological effect on the body, there are people who really feel better thanks to such drugs. This is due to the placebo effect: an improvement in the condition occurs due to the fact that a person believes in the power of some effect, in reality, neutral. Some people believe in the power of water memory and different energetic influences, and this explains the effects of homeopathy. – there is nothing unscientific about such an effect.
Also, due to the placebo effect, homeopathy is sometimes used in the treatment of children or animals: they have experience that after taking the pill they feel better, and they wait and believe in such improvement. In addition, thanks to the work of the immune system, people, in principle, recover over time, if the disease is not very serious. If a person took homeopathy, for example, during a cold, then he can associate his recovery with its action.
Although, in fact, the body just perfectly coped with a cold on its own.
The competent medical journal The Lancet compiled a meta-analysis of 110 homeopathic medicine studies and compared them to a similar number of drug studies. Only studies that used the most reliable method: double-blind placebo were included in the review. –controlled randomized trial. In such studies, several principles are observed that allow obtaining objective data:
Patients are randomly divided into groups in order to avoid assigning healthier patients to one group than to another Part is taking the real medicine (or homeopathic remedy), and the other – dummy pill Neither the doctor nor the patient knows what exactly they got: the real medicine or the dummy.
The review data showed that the effectiveness of homeopathic medicines is exactly the same as that of pacifiers. Homeopathic research does not have such reliable data. Moreover, some homeopaths argue that their preparations cannot be investigated in the usual way: the memory of water and the energy of matter act in them..
Is it safe to take homeopathy.
In July 2018, scientists at Yale University did a large survey of studies on patients with treatable cancers. They analyzed 1.9 million patients and compared the overall survival of those who received traditional cancer therapy with those who combined it with alternative medicine or were treated only with alternative medicine..
According to the review, treatment with homeopathy and folk remedies doubles the patient’s risk of death. WHO representatives have repeatedly urged the public not to try to treat serious diseases like HIV, tuberculosis, malaria or childhood diarrhea with homeopathy. Any delay or refusal of treatment with traditional therapies in cases of such diseases is life-threatening..
Another problem with the safety of homeopathy is that there are no strict requirements for its production and use as for drugs. In Kazakhstan, homeopathy exists in two forms: homeopathic medicines in pharmacies and individual prescriptions from private homeopaths.
The State Register of Medicines, Medical Products and Medical Equipment of the Republic of Kazakhstan operates on the territory of our country. Anyone can familiarize themselves with the register on the website of the National Center for Expertise of Medicines, Medical Products and Medical Equipment of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
In the register dated October 11, 2017, 85 medicines produced in different countries are registered with the classification “homeopathic medicine”. These drugs are legally allowed to be sold in pharmacies and can be prescribed by doctors. Most of the preparations are indeed classic homeopathy: due to the strong dilutions, they do not contain any active substance.
Among them – famous “Oscillococcinum”, “Traumeel”, “Anaferon”. Informburo.kz journalist looked at how homeopathic medicines are sold in Kazakhstani pharmacies.
The manufacturer Biologische Heilmittel Heel GmbH informed the buyer that Traumeel S – homeopathic.
The instructions for use also indicate that the drug is homeopathic, and the composition contains information about homeopathic dilutions of each component.
There is enough information about Traumeel S on the box and in the instructions for the buyer to make an informed decision and purchase the homeopathic drug knowingly and at will. Moreover, the drug is not cheap: on the price tag – 2950 tenge.
Another situation is with the drug for colds and flu “Anaferon” produced by Materia Medica Holding NPF LLC. Anaferon is also registered in the State Register as a homeopathic medicine and is sold in every pharmacy. However, there is not a word about this on the packaging..
The instructions for use also do not indicate that this is a homeopathic preparation. There is also no classical designation for homeopathic dilution in the composition, but the dosage of the active substance is indicated: no more than 10⁻¹⁶ ng / g. Nanogram (ng) – this is one billionth of a gram, but in the preparation the dosage is much less: 0.0000000000000001 (after the decimal point – 16 characters) ng. Thus, the concentration in the preparation – one molecule per approximately 100,000 tablets.
In the instructions there is a section “Pharmacokinetics”, which explains what happens to the drug in the body. It is indicated here that the dose is so ultra-small that it is impossible to study its effect: “The sensitivity of modern physicochemical methods of analysis does not allow assessing the content of ultra-low doses of antibodies in biological fluids, organs and tissues, which makes it technically impossible to study the pharmacokinetics of the drug” Anaferon “for children” .
As a result, we have a situation where a person cannot make an informed decision about buying a homeopathic medicine. The confusion is also added by the fact that the homeopathic drug “Anaferon” is on the shelves of the drugstore among the drugs containing active ingredients, for example, next to “Ingavirin”. At the same time, sugar tablets cost 1260-1330 tenge.
There is another situation: some drugs registered as homeopathic contain medicinal herbs or their extracts, and without any dilutions in appreciable concentrations. There is a herbal tea in the State Register “KM-Cardiovascular” produced by the Kazakh firm “Kyzylmay”. This herbal tea is registered as a homeopathic preparation, although it contains medicinal herbs without any dilutions (motherwort herb 20.0 g, lemon balm herb 20.0 g, thyme herb 10.0 g, nettle leaves 10.0 g, calendula flowers 10 , 0 g, hawthorn fruit 30.0 g).
Such herbal tea will have an effect on the body, unlike classical homeopathy. In addition, some homeopathic medicines may look like dietary supplements (dietary supplements), although they are not. As such, they are often sold on the Internet..
In private practice, homeopaths select individual prescriptions using their own techniques. The Code on Public Health and the Healthcare System on September 18, 2009 classifies such homeopathic practices as traditional healing. Article 54 of the Code clarifies that the right to practice folk healing, including homeopathy, is reserved for persons with medical education who have received the appropriate license.
Such homeopaths are entered into the Register of Healers of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and they are issued special certificates for the activities and certificates of a traditional healer. There are no strict requirements for obtaining a license and certification: the basics of medicine and accreditation are enough. Accreditation is issued by organizations conducting training courses for traditional healers.
If you apply to such private practices, ask for valid license documents and a certificate of a traditional healer. The presence of documents indicates that the homeopath is ready, in which case, to bear responsibility for their appointments. It is also worth checking that the document is genuine.
This can be done on the website of electronic licensing of the Republic of Kazakhstan: on the main page there is an item “Search for permits”. Search by license number. In the search results, check to whom
the license was issued, whether it is valid, whether it has been renewed.
Some licenses also specify subtypes of activity. Homeopaths must have a valid medical license.
Also, please note that there is no form of dilution control for homeopaths. What and in what concentrations will he give the patient, in what sanitary conditions he will prepare his preparations – entirely on the conscience of the homeopath himself.
What doctors say about homeopathy.
Informburo.kz journalist talked about homeopathy with a neurologist of the highest category, head of the neurology department of LLP “PZHB” Seltekeeva Bakyt Amangeldinovna.
Are homeopathic medicines used in medical practice??
It is difficult to say about the benefits of homeopathic medicines, but it can be assumed that they do not harm themselves. It is very important here how correctly the doctor works with the patient, because he should not only prescribe drugs. Doctor – a highly organized being, and, in addition to diagnosing a patient (measuring pulse and pressure, probing and listening to organs), studying complaints, he must be able to talk. It is very important.
There are patients who can eat a doctor’s prescription, – this is a very real case from practice. In such situations, the patient needs to prescribe something for his own peace of mind, even if there is nothing to treat objectively. If, as a result of the conversation, the doctor realizes that he is dealing with such a patient, he can prescribe any drug.
And as a treatment, doctors can prescribe homeopathic medicines.?
Medicine is being commercialized, and the pharmaceutical industry is progressing almost in leaps and bounds. Therefore, at present, doctors do not prescribe homeopathic medicines for the treatment of diseases. Provided, of course, that these doctors did not narrow down their activities and did not become homeopaths themselves..
Are there situations in which it is categorically impossible to take homeopathic medicines?
The doctor may prescribe a homeopathic remedy when, in fact, the patient does not need to be treated. Homeopathic remedies will never help a patient with any inflammation. Any inflammatory process, whether it is inflammation of the maxillary sinuses, otitis media, pneumonia, requires mandatory treatment with drugs. The doctor should prescribe the patient at least a banal examination: general blood and urine tests, blood biochemistry.
Only if there is no inflammatory process and there is a reason to prescribe a homeopathic remedy, only then the doctor can do it.
The bottom line: how not to harm yourself with homeopathy.
The most important thing – do not treat serious or acute diseases, including inflammatory ones, with homeopathic remedies. It can be dangerous to life and health..
If your disease is not serious, you are an adult capable person who consciously wants to take homeopathic remedies, then pay attention to some safety nuances. Check the drug in the State Register of Medicines and carefully study the composition. The medicine may also be non-homeopathic.
If you go to a private homeopathic practice – require a valid medical license and traditional healer ID. Check the license on the electronic licensing portal of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Homeopathic medicines that are sold on the Internet cannot be checked.
They can contain anything and prepare as they please – remember this.
If you do not want to take homeopathic medicines and are worried whether a doctor has prescribed such a drug, check the State Register of Medicines and the instructions for use of the drug. In the instructions, pay attention to the active ingredient and its amount. Sometimes the manufacturer does not explicitly show that the drug is homeopathic.
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