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Homeopathy (Partly Humorous)


Saved from a Good Thing?

Where the good thing hampers or gets in the way of something better, it might be of use to get rid of the good thing. Many girls who go for boyfriends know his very well.

Samuel Hahnemann

Samuel Hahnemann.
Samuel Hahnemann (1755–1843)
Samuel Hahnemann (1755–1843), was a German physician who formed the alternative medicine practice called homeopathy back in the 1700s, but first he learnt English, French, Italian, Greek and Latin, made a living as a translator and teacher of languages and gained further proficiency in "Arabic, Syriac, Chaldaic and Hebrew."

He studied medicine and graduated MD with honours. He married and got eleven children. Homeopathy, the medicine system he developed to save people from conventional and bloodletting medicine in his time, has been much rejected by the medical community up to now. However:

"There's always help in the alternative remedies: either they help the one who tries them, or some others that make a living along with these things" - not to forget pharmacies who sell them.

Sound and fertile proficiency sometimes shows up in humour that helps (someone).

What is best? To be saved by or from homeopathy? That depends.

Kipling wisdom

It might serve you to keep your questioning within bounds. Still, it is a good thing to learn how to ask questions. Rudyard Kipling tells along this line:

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

From a poem in Kipling's "Just So Stories"

Journalists the world over are taught this poem to remember the interrogative pronouns that are capitalised in the poems. And there are other question phrases to look into too, for example "by what?". The six interrogative pronouns and "by what" constitute an old Latin jingle of a sort, called the philosophical basic Yes, it can be a good thing to learn how to ask questions, and another good thing to learn how to stop it - how, when, where, why - or what?

Anecdotal Evidence

Journalists like to tell stories, and stories of cures are most often called anecdotal evidence in medicine.

When someone tells, "I was helped by my wife getting homeopathic treatment with detriment," it might mean she were worse off from it to the relief of her husband. Perhaps he was disregarding the ups and downs of life, and perhaps not. Even 'helped' takes on so many meanings depending on what one is helped to. Helped to suicide? Helped to better health? Saved from embarrassing ezema? The options are many. As for the possible and yet not settled interplay of ups and downs in life: [Folk wisdom]

Another example is for all who believe in karmic retributions and its corollary, reincarnation. A significant number of people in the West have developed a belief in reincarnation. A large part of the world's population firmly believe in both, as a matter of fact. Now suppose you help a morally depraved person to get it better, so that she benefits and harms many people, and yourself too. In a karmic light, her problems were there to help her regain some facet of inherent dignity, but the great help she was given, made her ignore it. She could no longer benefit from the disease, and the cure helped her to get battered from within - maybe in a future life, maybe in the next, and so on.

From this sketchy scenario it stands out that if you help another, you should do it wisely and well, considering right and wrong somehow too. Buddha says it is best to stay away from fools, frankly, and to give only to deserving persons (near you) - otherwise also. It corresponds to checking whether your help is put wisely into use. If a helped person is not willing to live morally acceptably at bottom, help may retrofire and innocents get hurt, and therefore your precious help needs to be stopped. Such ideas give rise to delicate problems . . . [Related: Maslow thought, Kohlberg's ideas of moral development etc.]

So along with your cure you should perhaps check about the moral facets of the trouble too. Rudolf Steiner is into that. He has a large output.

Don't guess and don't get outsmarted, but try to make sure what is meant, and how well documented it is.

To revert to anecdotal evidence, "collected evidence of single cases", which lies at bottom of it all here, one idea may be that homeopathic attempt at cure likably helped, even though it cannot be proved adequately. That is how it is at times for individual cases.

Now with single cases we cannot prove anything substantial, scientifically speaking. Single cases - impressive as they may seem - carry no proof power in science. They are taken to be anecdotal evidence, which may be interesting to hear of, but is not impressive to a scientifically trained mind. And that is not a joke.

Either a homeopathic remedy works or it doesn't. How can you tell?

Life is usually a complex web and tough to see through in all respects. Let us say someone got better after being given homeopathic remedies. Some think that such betterment is proof that homeopathy works, but no: Theoretically speaking, the remedies either helped, harmed, or had no effect whatever. The one who got the remedies, could have improved for other reasons and might have got far better without remedies, and so on.

These points are to be counted in for proofs that are thought to be valid. It is hard to prove things by single cases.

Between Rash Belief and Just as Rash Distrust: Fit Research

If we think that lush postcards are typical of daily life at a place, it may not be the case. A gilded postcard view may not be fully representave. Fine photos that are highlighting, are often used to attract tourists. Anecdotal proofs and showcases can do much of the same for customers; that's how "jungle drums" work. Some appear to profit from them, others fall victims of unfounded hearsay.

There is no reason to become all fanatic. There are methods of documentation that may grow on top of individual cases. Professor Olof Lindahl has hammered out such a way in a book of his. [Lindahl and Lindwall, 1979]

Anyway, the day we learn to be carefully reserved, like good scientists are supposed to, we function much better than gullible ones. There is a proverb, "Twin fools: one doubts nothing, the other everything [Mieder et al, 1996:166]." If we are uncertain and not well enough informed about a matter to form a mature or adequately founded opinion, tell so. That could the beginning of some improvements.

One stubborn error is to imagine that if you were ill, got homeopathic remedies or other help, and later got well, then it was due to the remedies. But just because one thing follows another in time, it does not mean that the first thing caused the second, or caused it fully. Below is an outlook that could change your attitude about so-called "outcomes" or results of such as homeopathic medicines.

There is much more to say about individual responsibility for one's own health here. And seriousness may rob much that matters to a mature educator, such as joie de vivre, joy of living.

It should be OK to get allied with "faith, suggestive impulses or coincidence" if helps, says Dr Lindahl and others. "So long as it helps" is the better key. To your own ulterior benefit, assert often "When in doubt, win the trick". [Edmund Hoyle] Instead of folding your hands in dire troubles, consider and act tentatively first, according to the proverb, "A thing done right today means less trouble tomorrow [Mieder et al, 1996:588]." Pharmacy-obtained homeopathic sugar carrying Latin names, can be all right for not too serious and awkward self-help or home treatment.

Further Concerns

There are things that do not make homeopathy easy:

  1. Names in Latin most often. The names refer to the substances that were shaken and diluted to begin with, before there was very little or no substance left.
  2. Quite uncertain boundaries for nearly each remedy described by symptom pictures attuned to it;
  3. Lots of unproved symptoms for each remedy.

All the same, some derive at least temporary benefit from being well allied with the helpful placebo effect from "Autosuggestion, belief, goodwill, coincidence" [Lindahl and Lindwall, 1979]. I figure I have to explain it.


In medical research the Latin word 'placebo' ("I please") often appears among the factors to take into account. Here is what dictionaries say:

In medicine a placebo is an inactive substance or other sham form of therapy administered to a patient - usually to compare its effects with those of a real drug or treatment, but sometimes for the psychological benefit to the patient through his believing he is receiving treatment -

A placebo effect, then, is the beneficial effect in a patient following a particular treatment that arises from the patient's expectations concerning the treatment rather than from the treatment itself. In other words, "improvement in the condition of a patient that occurs in response to treatment but cannot be considered due to the specific treatment used."

Research shows that a placebo (sugar pills) can have just as good effects on mild depressions as psychoactive drugs. The placebo effect may be put to use, then, but wisely. Not that I recommend it, I would rather go for things that really work - in and by themselves, that is.

On charged impressions, END MATTER

On charged impressions, LITERATURE  

Mieder, Wolfgang, main ed.: A Dictionary of American Proverbs. Paperback ed. Oxford University. New York, 1996.

Lindahl, Olof and Lindwall, Lars: Laegevidenskaben i nyt perspektiv. Reitzel. Copenhagen, 1979.

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