Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The dilute remedy

Among alternative therapies, homeopathy seems to enjoy higher credibility, as it is cloaked in scientific vocabulary. Its German origin adds to is acceptability and enhances the perception that scientific reasoning and methods would have been rigorously applied.

I know of a couple (let’s call them Mr Homeopati and Mrs Homeopatni) who clung to this therapy for several years, till an incident required one of them to be rushed into the Emergency ward in one of the allopathic institutions that they had sworn they wouldn’t be seen dead in .

Via Coyote Blog I came across an article on Timesonline written by Matt Parker of the School of Mathematical Sciences, London in which he explains what it means to achieve the ‘dilution’ levels required by homeopathy:

I have just purchased a packet of Boots-brand 84 arnica homeopathic 30C Pills for £5.09, which Boots proudly claim is only 6.1p per pill. Their in-store advice tells me that arnica is good for treating “bruising and injuries”, which gives the impression that this is a very cost-effective health-care option.

Unlike most medication, it didn’t list the actual dose of the active ingredient that each pill contains, so I checked the British Homeopathic Association website. On their website it nonchalantly states that to make a homeopathic remedy, they start with the active ingredient and then proceed to dilute it to 1 per cent concentration. Then they dilute that new solution again, so there is now only 0.01 per cent of the original ingredients. For my 30C pills this diluting is repeated thirty times, which means that the arnica is one part in a million billion billion billion billion billion billion.

The arnica is diluted so much that there is only one molecule of it per 7 million billion billion billion billion pills.

It’s hard to comprehend numbers that large. If you were to buy that many pills from Boots, it would cost more than the gross domestic product of the UK. It’s more than the gross domestic product of the entire world. Since the dawn of civilisation. If every human being since the beginning of time had saved every last penny, denarius and sea-shell, we would still have not saved-up enough to purchase a single arnica molecule from Boots.
But, if you are an ardent believer in homeopathy, don’t let science come in the way. Go right ahead and pop some of those 30C or 200C pills. If not the formulation, the placebo effect can cure your illness. If it doesn't, there's always the ICU in an allopathic hospital as a last resort.

Update 02/02/10: " Massive homeopathic overdose leaves hundreds of scientists 0.00000000000000000000000001% dead".


Anu said...

Ah, another post I loved. The best joke about homeopathy I have heard:

Q: "What happens when a person who has been taking homeopathy forgets to take a dose?"
A: "He dies of an overdose!"

-This, from Trick Or Treatment, a book I read recently, about which I have written here:http://walkamusing.blogspot.com/2009/10/trick-or-treatment.html

Raj said...

Anu, that's a good one.

Anonymous said...

You said " . . . they had sworn they wouldn’t be seen dead in." They did "live" up to it, didn't they? Assuming that he/she survived, that is! :)

I have a Homeopatni and am not a Homeopati. So therefore hence because of it I will remain anonyMOUSE!