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Old 10-22-2009   #1
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 20
Homeopathy and other alternative medicine

A thread was started recently on the Boater's Forum on the topic of tendonitis and treatment. Many of the posters seem to support the use of acupuncture, homeopathy, and other alternative medicine to treat medical issues. I believe most of alternative medicine is useless for treating anything physiological, but would rather not flood that thread with the debate!

Homeopathy operates on two basic principles: like cures like, and dilution increases curative strength. In fact, in many homeopathic remedies, the original substance is diluted to the point that it no longer contains a single molecule of the original substance. It is magic water. It has also shown no success in double-blinded clinical trials. For a skeptical analysis of homeopathy, I highly recommend James Randi's presentation on the topic: Acupuncture claims that everyone has an undetectable, unmeasurable "qi", that can be manipulated by inserting needles into meridian points. Unfortunately, we have only figured out how to perform double-blinded trials with acupuncture in the past decade, so solid clinical trials are hard to find.

The only area in which acupuncture appears to beat acupuncture is in pain management, but randomly sticking needles to shallow depths in people shows the same effect. If the needles are inserted in random locations, instead of at meridian points, is it really still acupuncture?

One aspect that has been adopted by alternative medicine that I do accept is that people tend to get better on their own. People have a medical issue, try homeopathy (or conventional medicine, or acupuncture) and get better within a week. Odds are, they were going to get better anyway. That's why we need to conduct controlled, double-blinded studies instead of relying on anecdotal evidence in evaluating treatments.

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Old 10-23-2009   #2
Land of Lovin, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1,449
I thought most present day medicines are synthetic versions of plant based chemicals, no?

Perhaps I am misinformed but if we are finding our drugs from nature why wouldn't the original plants be effective? I know Valerian root works a lot like Valium to calm and relax oneself and is natural so at least I'm not filling my body with fillers from a pill.

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Old 10-23-2009   #3
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 20
There is a huge difference between a homeopathic and an herbal remedy.

A homeopathic remedy is literally just water. They find a substance that causes symptoms similar to the condition they are trying to treat. Then they dilute that substance with water to make it stronger. The more dilute it is, the stronger the remedy is. Most homeopathic remedies are diluted to the point that there is unlikely to be a single molecule of the original substance in the remedy. Supposedly, the water "remembers" the substance and will cure you.

Herbal remedies make quite a bit more sense, since many modern medicines are just extracted from plants. I'd rather take a pill though, where I know how much of the active ingredient I'm ingesting. Many herbs vary greatly in their composition, so what would be a therapeutic dose from one particular plant could be a toxic dose from another. Herbal remedies are also not required to undergo any testing or certification by the FDA. So if you're buying from a store, make sure you're buying what you think you are!
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