Homeopathy is an embarrassment to everyone living in this century

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?
Heating it.
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?
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Homeopathy Awareness Week?

Skepchick has apparently discovered that, as of yesterday, this is World Homeopathy Awareness Week. (Yes, starts on a Thursday…they were going to start on Monday, but the succussion took a while.)

Well, I can get behind a public service like this. My contribution will be a side-to-side comparison of a homeopathic treatment and a real one. Let’s pick a fun disease, say, heart attacks (the website I found offered homeopathic remedies for anthrax, but I think I’ll skip that).

Unfortunately, this will require a brief tutorial on myocardial infarctions (MIs, heart attatcks). As is usual with my medical posts, this will be a gross oversimplification, but good enough to explain the issue.

An MI occurs when part of your heart muscle stops receiving enough oxygenated blood. There are a variety of possible ways for this to happen, but most of the time we are talking about a typical acute MI, where a specific artery becomes suddenly occluded. When this happens, a person usually experiences chest pain, and, if the heart attack is serious enough, heart failure, arrhythmias, and death.

Over the last couple of decades we’ve figured out how to interrupt the natural history of MIs. Clot-dissolving medications or angioplasty can be used to quickly open up an artery, hopefully saving the heart muscle from death. In addition, several medications can be used to help save lives. Beta-blockers, aspirin, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and statins have all been proved to help in an acute MI or to prevent further MIs. The literature to support these practices is quite voluminous but just to give you a sampling, see the references below.

Now let’s examine the homeopath’s guide to heart attacks…
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