Zite has failed me. For some reason under the “science” heading it referred me to thisold hpathy article on homeopathic treatment of burns. I realize this site has been a source of idiocy for years but I think this is a true gem. It makes me want to cry for humanity. Orac, don’t look, it will make your brain explode. The question is, how should you treat burns? Most normal, sane people, in the treatment of the acute burn would suggest cooling the tissue, thus ending the process of damage from the exposure to heat, as well as adding the secondary benefit of soothing the injury. What do they recommend at hpathy.com?
No I’m not joking.
No they’re not joking.
In my first year of homoeopathic training a general discussion led the lecturer to describe a treatment for burns. He explained that he had been dining with a friend who had burnt herself and had immediately, to his horror, held the burnt area of her hand in the heat of a candle for a little while. The friend had then explained to him that the normal treatment of using cold water was ineffective, but that the application of heat to a burn meant that it would not blister, and although it did hurt more on the initial application it healed far more quickly and painlessly thereafter. This she demonstrated a little while later when he saw to his amazement that the burned area was not even red and she was experiencing no pain.
His explanation was that left alone a burn, ‘burnt’, as in the vital force would produce heat. By applying cold water this burning effect was reduced and the vital force had to summon even more heat. If instead we assist the vital force by applying heat the job would be done more quickly.
This is really nothing more than elementary homoeopathy… like cures like… similar similibus curentur…. And yet some in the group were surprised, and some argued that this would be dangerous with anything other than a very slight burn…
Sigh. Do we really need to break down why this is a bad idea?
Besides the fact that this basic tenet of homeopathy, “like cures like”, is without merit, this treatment flies in the face of basic physics and biology. Recommending people do this as first aid is not only stupid, but dangerous and possibly injurious. The author even shows the injury to her daughter’s hand (19 years old – another adult stupid enough to fall for this), that she treated with heat and the blister was enormous. What a moron. While it’s impossible to say for sure how much worse the burn was as a result of the therapy, the image is nothing to be proud of.
The reason we cool wounds after exposure to heat is to end the process of injury. Throughout the article the author seems to think the use of cooling is based on just making people feel better. However, cooling a wound acutely after injury also serves to halt the process of continued injury from the tissue remaining overheated. Your body can not cool the tissue as fast as you can with a stream of cold water. Further heating the tissue will slow the process of cooling even more. In the face of a burned hand from say, scalding water, our body must rely on convective cooling of the tissue using your blood which is a balmy 98.6 degrees. Running your hand under the tap will much more rapidly lower the temperature of the injured skin, ending the continuous damage to the overheated tissue.
The idea that homeopaths are so fixated on their bogus “like cures like” hypothesis that would actually treat a burn with a candle flame, just boggles the mind.
Now Zite, which I usually love, somehow pointed me at this horrible article from 3 years ago, and despite it being a violation the blogger culture of only writing about what is current, as in within the last 3 minutes, I couldn’t resist. As long as this page exists on the internet recommending treating burns with more burning I think we must remain horrified at the intellecutal lows humanity can reach.