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Thread: Does Homeopathic drug mean different things in different countries?

  1. #1 Does Homeopathic drug mean different things in different countries? 
    Forum Junior JoshuaL's Avatar
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    I was watching That Mitchell & Webb Look when this skit came on about homeopathic medicine [youtube]. While I found it hilarious, I didn't QUITE understand it. I had to do some looking around online before I figured out the bit about dilution. I have always used the phrase "homeopathic medicine" to simply referred to naturally occurring medicines, like putting aloe on a minor burn or taking willow bark for a headache instead of aspirin. This other hooky-fooky stuff about dilution never entered the picture. Now I'm wondering if that's a linguistic usage issue because of where I live (Northwestern United States) or if it is merely something I never heard of because of how I was brought up (hard-core Christian). Any ideas? Any other North Americans use the term differently than the UK usage? How about Australians? Kiwis? Indians?


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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshuaL View Post
    I was watching That Mitchell & Webb Look when this skit came on about homeopathic medicine [youtube]. While I found it hilarious, I didn't QUITE understand it. I had to do some looking around online before I figured out the bit about dilution. I have always used the phrase "homeopathic medicine" to simply referred to naturally occurring medicines, like putting aloe on a minor burn or taking willow bark for a headache instead of aspirin. This other hooky-fooky stuff about dilution never entered the picture. Now I'm wondering if that's a linguistic usage issue because of where I live (Northwestern United States) or if it is merely something I never heard of because of how I was brought up (hard-core Christian). Any ideas? Any other North Americans use the term differently than the UK usage? How about Australians? Kiwis? Indians?
    A homeopathic remedy is just one thing: Something that has been diluted to the point that it's just water. That's quite different from "naturally occurring medicines" in general, although water clearly is naturally occurring.

    Homeopathic remedies are an excellent method for separating dollars from the gullible. Other than that, they have little value.


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    Forum Junior JoshuaL's Avatar
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    Yes, I understand that. That's what I discovered when I had to look it up. But what I want to know about is USAGE in the linguistic sense. What you are telling me is that you personally, and probably the people you know, use this word in the standard fashion. I'm trying to suss out if there are other people who, like myself, have been using the word (incorrectly) to refer to so-called natural medicines. I'm trying to determine if there is a larger confusion surrounding this word (again, linguistic), or if it was just me. If other people were or are using it incorrectly, then we can clear up any confusion that might pop up in conversation by agreeing on terms before proceeding with the conversation.
    "The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is... doubt. Doubt is humble, and that's what man needs to be, considering that human history is just a litany of getting sh*t dead wrong."

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshuaL View Post
    Yes, I understand that. That's what I discovered when I had to look it up. But what I want to know about is USAGE in the linguistic sense. What you are telling me is that you personally, and probably the people you know, use this word in the standard fashion. I'm trying to suss out if there are other people who, like myself, have been using the word (incorrectly) to refer to so-called natural medicines. I'm trying to determine if there is a larger confusion surrounding this word (again, linguistic), or if it was just me. If other people were or are using it incorrectly, then we can clear up any confusion that might pop up in conversation by agreeing on terms before proceeding with the conversation.
    If your question is "Do people use terms incorrectly" then the answer is, of course, yes. That's not specific to the use of homeopathy.

    As a scientist, I prefer to use terms as they should be used. It avoids confusion. I try not to be too didactic about it in social settings, but when precision matters, it matters.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tk421 View Post
    If your question is "Do people use terms incorrectly" then the answer is, of course, yes.
    Er... no. But I think my question is already as specific as I can make it. It's not something you can answer unless you are (or know) someone who uses the word in this specific manner. But this may be the wrong place to ask the question. Would probably make more sense to ask around the area that I live in to determine if there is a regional difference. Anyway, thanks for answering.
    "The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is... doubt. Doubt is humble, and that's what man needs to be, considering that human history is just a litany of getting sh*t dead wrong."

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    Josh, I think the answer is that you have confused two different terms. Homeopathic and holistic. "Holistic medicine" is a term for medical and quasy medical pratices such as herbal healing, massage, various hypnothreapies, and shading into the more "woo woo" practices of aroma therapy and crystal therapy. A holistic practitioner will use any method that works to heal their patient. That is the up side. The down side is that many "holistic practioners" use techniques that are poorly supported by evidence. Holistic therapists generally are not dishonest.

    Homeopaths are simply liars. They are selling water as medicine.
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    Holistic is too general for the question.

    I'd say that the confusion is between herbal medicine and homeopathy.

    Herbal preparations are as old as humans. The concept of like curing like is also a very old idea - at least as far back as the Greeks.
    Homeopathy does "use" herbs. But it is diluted far, far beyond the point where any molecule of the original substance could be in the water, alcohol or sugar the 'preparation' is administered in. It is not an ancient practice. It's a complete invention from the mind of one man - but extending and exaggerating the traditional notions of like for like beyond reason.

    Being a cynical old lady, I tend to believe that homeopathy practitioners and companies do very little to clarify the confusion - and quite a lot to keep people confused. After all, people who prefer natural approaches might not be so thrilled to find out that homeopathy exploits rather than enhances the "natural" appeal of herbs.
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    Forum Junior JoshuaL's Avatar
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    Thanks for the insights. Yes, I'm wondering now if maybe it was as simple as my parents using the word homeopathic when they really meant holistic. Clearly the term "holistic" is larger than what I describe in my question, which would better be called "herbal" medicine. Frankly, I find such labels off-putting, because herbal medicine attracts and includes all manner of crazy thought, even though the basic concept is legitimate (plant-based treatments and medicines), which should not be surprising to anyone since of our current understanding of medicine grew directly from our use of plants. I'll have to have a discussion with my parents to see if they know the difference. If not, I'll take that as the source of my original mix up. Thanks all for answering!
    "The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is... doubt. Doubt is humble, and that's what man needs to be, considering that human history is just a litany of getting sh*t dead wrong."

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    You are all wrong!

    Let me set you straight.
    Homeopathy was invented in the 17th Century by a guy called Dr. Samuel Hahnemann.
    To be fair, I won't call him a quack because all doctors back then were quacks. Anyway, this guy had a clever idea. For its time, it was clever, though we know better today. His idea was that disease symptoms were the body's way of fighting the disease. So if you were shivering, then shivering was the best way to fight the disease.

    Of all branches of medicine back then, the most developed was using poisons. You can speculate on why!
    Anyway, Sammy baby had a wide range of poisons he could use, and many of them stimulated symptoms. So he began treating disease by feeding his patients poisons to exaggerate those symptoms. He very quickly discovered two things.
    1. Lots of poison meant the patient died.
    2. Less poison meant the patient had a better chance of surviving.

    So this guy had another brainwave. Dilution was the key to success. So he selected his poisons and diluted them to extreme levels. His followers to this day use the same principle. Start with a poison and dilute the hell out it, to the point where there is no active ingredient left. To be fair, many of the materials they use today are not particularly toxic.

    The word 'homeopathy' meaning treating like with like, refers to the fact that you are supposedly stimulating the symptoms of the disease. Like symptoms to cure the like disease. Of course, it is all bullsh!t, and does not work, apart from the placebo effect.

    And homeopathy is the same in every country where it is practiced.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    You are all wrong!
    Whaaaa? Not sure you read it very well. Still, thanks for expanding the definition!
    "The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is... doubt. Doubt is humble, and that's what man needs to be, considering that human history is just a litany of getting sh*t dead wrong."

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    Sorry, but I just had to post this here.

    (Warning - includes bad language)

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