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Thread: Pharmacists warned off homeopathy

  1. #1 Pharmacists warned off homeopathy 
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    Pharmacists warned off homeopathy

    In Australia, pharmacists have been warned about stocking homeopathic products after a major review showed no scientific evidence that it works any better than placebo.


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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Pharmacists warned off homeopathy

    In Australia, pharmacists have been warned about stocking homeopathic products after a major review showed no scientific evidence that it works any better than placebo.

    Would you support the prohibition of selling homeopathic preparations by Australian pharmacists?


    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum View Post


    Would you support the prohibition of selling homeopathic preparations by Australian pharmacists?
    Probably, yes.
    People who claim to be health professionals should be held to high standards of professionalism. Selling quack products does not meet that criterion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum View Post

    Would you support the prohibition of selling homeopathic preparations by Australian pharmacists?
    I'd support the prohibition of selling homeopathic preparations everywhere. I'm quite happy for people to use traditional herbal preparations despite the fact that only a few of them have so far been demonstrated to have any efficacy. However, homeopathy is made up nonsense. It might have made sense to look for safer, less violent and intrusive approaches to medicine back in the days when bleeding and worse techniques were the common tools of doctors.

    But the magical justifications, and the fact that it's just water - or water dropped on sugar - means that homeopathy is complete nonsense. It's also extremely dangerous when people use these products rather than proper medical advice to manage life-threatening conditions, asthma being the prime example here.
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    To Adelady

    Would you support the selling of Chinese traditional medicines, bearing in mind
    1. Few, if any, have any proven efficacy
    2. Many have been analysed and found to contain dangerous levels of heavy metals
    3. Those analyses have also shown that many are adulterated with western drugs, often to dangerous levels
    4. Some are made using tiger bones, rhino horn, bear gall bladders etc and contribute to the possible extinction of rare and endangered animals???????
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    Absolutely not.

    Chinese traditional medicine isn't "traditional" in the first place. It used to be more of an indulgence for the wealthy, though I presume peasant cultures had similar herbal and traditional practices similar to those we're familiar with from Europe.

    The Mao regime certainly did a lot to improve the health of the larger Chinese population, but they also made claims to be inheritors of "real" Chinese culture by promoting a version of Chinese medicine that wasn't quite as made up out of whole cloth as homeopathy, but it has had much the same effect. They did this to avoid "Western medicine" and "cultural contamination" but it doesn't matter.

    If I had old-fashioned anarchist bomb-thrower inclinations, I'd be tempted to burn down those bloody shops.
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    How about a warning label, as on cigarettes? The homeopathic stuff could have "PLACEBO" in bold letters plus one explanatory sentence. This way we fulfil our obligation to public health while allowing people the freedom to harm themselves anyway. I suppose many pharmacists would rather not display the warning-labeled products in their shops.
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    I suppose many pharmacists would rather not display the warning-labeled products in their shops.
    And tobacconists would rather not have revolting pictures of cancerous mouths on cigarette packets.

    But that's the law.
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    I had the experience about a year ago of going to a pharmacy to buy seasickness pills. The young Chinese pharmacist tried to sell me some homeopathic remedies. I found, to my surprise, that she had no knowledge whatever of what homeopathic actually meant. She thought it was a recognised therapy. I asked her about her training at university for her degree in pharmacy, and she told me that homeopathic remedies were never even mentioned. By the time I left, I can assure you that she knew a lot more!

    Perhaps one approach therefore is to introduce a little relevant training for pharmacists?
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    That'd be a good idea. A standard of professionalism ought to include some way to recognise dangerous or non-medical products. Simply knowing the distinction between herbal and homeopathic preparations ought to be routine knowledge in the industry.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    I'd support the prohibition of selling homeopathic preparations everywhere. I'm quite happy for people to use traditional herbal preparations despite the fact that only a few of them have so far been demonstrated to have any efficacy. However, homeopathy is made up nonsense. It might have made sense to look for safer, less violent and intrusive approaches to medicine back in the days when bleeding and worse techniques were the common tools of doctors.
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong View Post
    How about a warning label, as on cigarettes? The homeopathic stuff could have "PLACEBO" in bold letters plus one explanatory sentence. This way we fulfil our obligation to public health while allowing people the freedom to harm themselves anyway.

    I am in favor of both ideas.
    It is astonishing that a practice that does not work better than a sugar pill, has persisted for more than 200 years.
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum View Post
    It is astonishing that a practice that does not work better than a sugar pill, has persisted for more than 200 years.
    Religion has persisted for far longer.
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    As stated in other threads, I believe in the power of truth to win out over falsehoods over time.

    Anyone who thinks that banning homeopathic products will shift public opinion towards Allopathy has, in my opinion, a distorted view of human nature. It is just as if not more likely to have the opposite effect. It may give homeopathy a sort of vogue that lends it credibility. Not to mention that using such products alongside mainstream medicine is harmless, and keeping people from practicing that would be a substantially, (even if unintentionally,) racist regulation. It would assault cultural practices that are harmless the way most people use them. Banning the sale of such products will create a blackmarket, though, and make measuring the numbers on which products are more effective in the real world, (not a laboratory environment,) near impossible to accurately measure. Support of Allopathy would actually lose ammunition and the argument that the pharmaceutical companies have some conspiracy to keep people sick would likely go far more mainstream. Right now, anyone actually interested in the truth can just look at stats. If the sale of the products were outlawed, people would have to rely on past statistics and sterile experiments that nat not be confirmed by reality. People used to think charms and trinkets warded off disease spirits, too. Edicts didn't kill the mystic Apothecary. Social evolution did. The free expression of opinions is far more effective in rooting out wrongness than using swords to force the issue. Let the march of human progress do its work. Meddling in it with violent acts rarely has the effect of speeding up knowledge and progress.

    Also, when not used in exclusion of modern medicine but just as a supplement, who cares if it is a Placebo? Why take that away form people? If it relieves chronic pain and helps them lose weight by reinforcing self confidence then it wasn't a scam. They were willing to pay X amount for Y result, and they received the desired outcome. If it works it works. When the placebo effect doesn't work, the individual is less likely to keep spending large chunks of money on it.
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    Anyone who thinks that banning homeopathic products will shift public opinion towards Allopathy has, in my opinion, a distorted view of human nature. It is just as if not more likely to have the opposite effect. It may give homeopathy a sort of vogue that lends it credibility. Not to mention that using such products alongside mainstream medicine is harmless, and keeping people from practicing that would be a substantially, (even if unintentionally,) racist regulation. It would assault cultural practices that are harmless the way most people use them.
    Homeopathy is not a "traditional" cultural practice. In any culture.

    It was invented out of whole cloth by this bloke Samuel Hahnemann - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia . He was absolutely right that medical practices of the time did more harm than good. But it was all based on magical thinking. The idea that banging stuff on a Bible had any physical effect on water, let alone a therapeutic effect, is pure hokery.

    Also, when not used in exclusion of modern medicine but just as a supplement, who cares if it is a Placebo?
    Have you ever heard of a homeopath telling a client that they should also use science-based medicine as well as the sugar pills or the water? I haven't. Most homeopaths don't just criticise science based medicine, they actively turn their patients away from consulting properly trained practitioners. Homeopathic thuggery bites the host of the next Skeptics’ Circle – Respectful Insolence

    When you have people promoting the idea of homeopathic vaccines, we're well into an area that I'd be willing to treat as criminal. Just look at what happened to HIV-AIDS sufferers - and transmission rates - in South Africa when the government was headed by people who promoted Anything But Science Based Medicine as public health policy. Had there been a vaccine at the time, that should have been regarded as mass murder.

    As for the placebo effect. You're right that it's OK for chronic pain. It's life threatening for other conditions like malaria and asthma. And it doesn't matter if it's homeopathy or acupuncture or any other "traditional" practice.

    Basically, patients receiving the placebo acupuncture felt better, as good as those who received treatment with a real albuterol inhaler. However, the pulmonary function tests did not bear that out. Basically, the placebo intervention produced the illusion of improvement, which in the case of a disease like asthma, where it is function, not symptoms, that determine how sick a patient is. It is not hard to imagine a situation in which a placebo intervention falsely leads a patient to feel better, even though his pulmonary function hasn’t improved. Given the nature of asthma, such a false sense of confidence could easily lead to a patient’s death, because it’s not too uncommon for asthma patients to be reasonably functional up to a certain point of lung function deterioration and then be “tipped over the edge.”

    In other words, it’s not good to give asthma patients a sense of feeling better if their lungs are not actually functioning better.
    More credulous reporting on placebo effects – Respectful Insolence
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    Quote Originally Posted by SowZ37 View Post

    Anyone who thinks that banning homeopathic products will shift public opinion towards Allopathy
    Just a quick comment.
    The term "Allopathy" is one used by woo merchants only. It carries an insulting connotation against genuine science based medicine. If you are a genuine supporter of science based medicine, you should not use that word.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum View Post
    It is astonishing that a practice that does not work better than a sugar pill, has persisted for more than 200 years.
    Religion has persisted for far longer.

    That is an odd comparison.

    Quote Originally Posted by adelady
    When you have people promoting the idea of homeopathic vaccines, we're well into an area that I'd be willing to treat as criminal. Just look at what happened to HIV-AIDS sufferers - and transmission rates - in South Africa when the government was headed by people who promoted Anything But Science Based Medicine as public health policy. Had there been a vaccine at the time, that should have been regarded as mass murder.

    The concept of "homeopathic vaccines" would seem laughable if it would not be a potential cause of ineffectiveness against pain and harm.
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Pharmacists warned off homeopathy

    In Australia, pharmacists have been warned about stocking homeopathic products after a major review showed no scientific evidence that it works any better than placebo.

    Would you support the prohibition of selling homeopathic preparations by Australian pharmacists?
    Is it true Cogito, that
    ...in Belgium over half the population regularly relies on homeopathic remedies
    Quoted from Trick or Treatment Ch 3 Truth about homeopathy.

    Is there evidence that it works for Belgians but less for others?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Is it true Cogito, that
    ...in Belgium over half the population regularly relies on homeopathic remedies
    Quoted from Trick or Treatment Ch 3 Truth about homeopathy.

    Is there evidence that it works for Belgians but less for others?

    I did not find any evidence for that statement.

    The latest report about the use of homeopathy in Belgium showed that 33.7% of the sample (1999 Belgian adults) had resorted to an alternative therapy (homeo- and osteopathy, acupuncture, etc.) in their lifetime. 14.9% of respondents that mentioned at least one medical problem during the twelve months prior to the survey had visited an alternative therapist. 5.6% of them consulted a homeopath (to alleviate problems such as low back pain, neck pain and allergies).

    Dissatisfaction concerning efficacy is the same between medicine and alternative therapies, as the majority of the users of the latter practice also consulted doctors:
    Quote Originally Posted by KCE Reports 154A, p.23
    In general, there was great satisfaction concerning the care received. (...) patients that were dissatisfied with their conventional doctor also tended to be dissatisfied with their alternative therapist.
    Next, the report was very clear about its effectiveness:
    Quote Originally Posted by KCE Reports 154A, p.20
    No convincing proof of efficacy [of homeopathy] exists for any condition for which a systemic review was available.

    Source:
    De Gendt T., et al. (2011), "Stand van zaken van de homeopathie in BelgiŽ", Health Services Research (HSR), Brussel: KCE Reports 154A.


    PS: Although the first pages are written in Dutch, there is an English summary of the research, starting from p. 15 of the PDF-file.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum View Post
    It is astonishing that a practice that does not work better than a sugar pill, has persisted for more than 200 years.
    Religion has persisted for far longer.
    That is an odd comparison.
    Odd in what way?
    From an atheist's PoV, there is no way for religion to have any benefits other than psychological - i.e. a placebo; a "sugar pill".
    It is not as if god is actually helping people.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    Odd in what way?
    From an atheist's PoV, there is no way for religion to have any benefits other than psychological - i.e. a placebo; a "sugar pill".
    It is not as if god is actually helping people.

    If you are referring to the act of praying, then I concur that there is no evidence that it effects medical outcomes.
    However, I have to note that the word "religion" was too broad in your reply, as the concept also entails creation myths, ethical teachings, etc.
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    Odd in what way?
    From an atheist's PoV, there is no way for religion to have any benefits other than psychological - i.e. a placebo; a "sugar pill".
    It is not as if god is actually helping people.
    If you are referring to the act of praying, then I concur that there is no evidence that it effects medical outcomes.
    However, I have to note that the word "religion" was too broad in your reply, as the concept also entails creation myths, ethical teachings, etc.
    But religion is not simply "ethical teachings" , it is "ethical teachings based on god's word/will/etc."
    And, since god doesn't exist, religious ethical teachings are actually just ethical teachings - the religious element contributes nothing.
    You don't need god to encourage others to (e.g.) follow the golden rule.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    But religion is not simply "ethical teachings" , it is "ethical teachings based on god's word/will/etc."
    And, since god doesn't exist, religious ethical teachings are actually just ethical teachings - the religious element contributes nothing.
    You don't need god to encourage others to (e.g.) follow the golden rule.

    But that does not include the religions that do not include gods in their teachings.

    Of course, this is not a discussion about religion, but about the practice of homeopathy.
    Ergo, are you in favor of prohibiting the sale of homeopathic preparations?
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum View Post
    But that does not include the religions that do not include gods in their teachings.
    Then I wouldn't consider them a religion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum View Post
    Ergo, are you in favor of prohibiting the sale of homeopathic preparations?
    No.
    I prefer to have extensive education/information given to everyone.

    Much like cigarettes have "SMOKING GIVES YOU CANCER!" written on the packaging, homeopathic products should have "THIS DOESN'T WORK!" written on them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by SowZ37 View Post

    Anyone who thinks that banning homeopathic products will shift public opinion towards Allopathy
    Just a quick comment.
    The term "Allopathy" is one used by woo merchants only. It carries an insulting connotation against genuine science based medicine. If you are a genuine supporter of science based medicine, you should not use that word.
    I don't have any discussions with people who agree with modern medicine, it's just sort of assumed. So I suppose I've ended up using the vocabulary of the homeopaths. I'll be more careful in the future.

    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Anyone who thinks that banning homeopathic products will shift public opinion towards Allopathy has, in my opinion, a distorted view of human nature. It is just as if not more likely to have the opposite effect. It may give homeopathy a sort of vogue that lends it credibility. Not to mention that using such products alongside mainstream medicine is harmless, and keeping people from practicing that would be a substantially, (even if unintentionally,) racist regulation. It would assault cultural practices that are harmless the way most people use them.
    Homeopathy is not a "traditional" cultural practice. In any culture.

    It was invented out of whole cloth by this bloke Samuel Hahnemann - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia . He was absolutely right that medical practices of the time did more harm than good. But it was all based on magical thinking. The idea that banging stuff on a Bible had any physical effect on water, let alone a therapeutic effect, is pure hokery.

    Also, when not used in exclusion of modern medicine but just as a supplement, who cares if it is a Placebo?
    Have you ever heard of a homeopath telling a client that they should also use science-based medicine as well as the sugar pills or the water? I haven't. Most homeopaths don't just criticise science based medicine, they actively turn their patients away from consulting properly trained practitioners. Homeopathic thuggery bites the host of the next Skeptics’ Circle – Respectful Insolence

    When you have people promoting the idea of homeopathic vaccines, we're well into an area that I'd be willing to treat as criminal. Just look at what happened to HIV-AIDS sufferers - and transmission rates - in South Africa when the government was headed by people who promoted Anything But Science Based Medicine as public health policy. Had there been a vaccine at the time, that should have been regarded as mass murder.

    As for the placebo effect. You're right that it's OK for chronic pain. It's life threatening for other conditions like malaria and asthma. And it doesn't matter if it's homeopathy or acupuncture or any other "traditional" practice.

    Basically, patients receiving the placebo acupuncture felt better, as good as those who received treatment with a real albuterol inhaler. However, the pulmonary function tests did not bear that out. Basically, the placebo intervention produced the illusion of improvement, which in the case of a disease like asthma, where it is function, not symptoms, that determine how sick a patient is. It is not hard to imagine a situation in which a placebo intervention falsely leads a patient to feel better, even though his pulmonary function hasn’t improved. Given the nature of asthma, such a false sense of confidence could easily lead to a patient’s death, because it’s not too uncommon for asthma patients to be reasonably functional up to a certain point of lung function deterioration and then be “tipped over the edge.”

    In other words, it’s not good to give asthma patients a sense of feeling better if their lungs are not actually functioning better.
    More credulous reporting on placebo effects – Respectful Insolence
    There are plenty of practices considered 'natural medicine' that are cultural. It would be racist to prohibit those. As for using homeopathy to the exclusion of actual medicine, well, that's their choice. The data is there for anyone who wants to be educated. The ingredients of supplements and homeopathic pills are right on the bottle. Plenty of people I know who use homeopathic cures also use proven medicine and those that don't are the kind who wouldn't see a Dr. go to the hospital regardless. But that's their choice, being educated on the issue is pretty easy and you can't force people to agree with facts. The only place where it is morally grey would be in the case of those unable to make an informed decision, primarily children.

    My other points still stand, I think.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum View Post
    Would you support the prohibition of selling homeopathic preparations by Australian pharmacists?
    No. But I would support a clear statement on them along the lines of "these products have not been shown to be any more effective than a placebo."
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    Quote Originally Posted by SowZ37 View Post
    There are plenty of practices considered 'natural medicine' that are cultural. It would be racist to prohibit those.

    Can you give an example of such a practice?
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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  28. #27  
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    There are plenty of practices considered 'natural medicine' that are cultural. It would be racist to prohibit those.
    Picking and choosing on this basis is fraught with all kinds of pitfalls. If you use any criteria other than yes to science, no to non-science, you're suddenly knee deep in making judgments about cultural practices.

    It's all very well to say that the "secret women's business" of Australian indigenous groups should be left to them. There used to be some clowns who claimed that "secret" knowledge allowed the women to conduct abortions (thereby raising the dominant cultural image of the wise woman with herbs). They sort of shut up about it pretty promptly when they discovered that this "secret" consisted of older women whacking pregnant women in the guts with a waddy or nulla nulla (which was primarily a war weapon). They certainly did conduct abortions this way, it might be "racist" to prohibit such practices among those groups or others like them, but that's too damn bad.

    Same thing goes for many other "traditional" practices. If we move away from using science as the yea or nay decider, we're straight into the morass of cultural relativism. You should stop doing that because it's "yucky" or "violent" or "looks stupid" or "dangerous". If the discussion is based on culture, then non-westerners can quite rightly say exactly the same things about CPR and surgery and chemotherapy and asthma inhalers. There are few things more dangerous than surgery or more violent than CPR or yucky/dangerous than chemotherapy. And those inhalers that cover the nose and mouth look pretty damn silly if you don't know what's going on.

    The better approach is to look at cultural practices with a scientific eye rather than an our-science-is-automatically-better eye. Many "cultural practices" turn out to be based on science unknown to either the practitioners or the medical/scientific people who encounter them. Poultices are a good example. People who use certain plants or soils/ clays to cover wounds might be doing more harm than good. But a good investigator can track down the origins of the practice and maybe find a region with a source of clay that had a significant copper or silver concentration, so it acted as an antibiotic when applied to a wound. When the practice spread to other areas, the efficacy disappeared because the particular qualities of that substance are not universal in clay/ soil . Similarly for plant materials. Many accumulate minerals that are scarce in the soil and water sources they grow in, but the concentrated material in the leaves/ stems/ roots can have valuable therapeutic properties in some circumstances. Grow the same plant in another region and the benefits are lessened or entirely absent.

    We should not treat these matters as being cultural or racial, but as scientific. It's the most respectful approach we can take.
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  29. #28  
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    Homeopathy= the practice of selling water, and occasionally sugar or sand, as medicine. It is based on a principal that a tiny amount of a poison that produces the same effect as your current symptom will be an effective medicine to cure that symptom. This is a principal that has absolutely no basis in fact.
    The best thing that can be said of homeopathetic medicines is that they generally will not harm you, because there is no measurable trace of the "active " material left in the dose you take. You can't take an "overdose' of a homeopic remedy because there is less of the "active principal' in it than there is in tap water.
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  30. #29  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by SowZ37 View Post
    There are plenty of practices considered 'natural medicine' that are cultural. It would be racist to prohibit those.

    Can you give an example of such a practice?
    Acupuncture, for example. Certain poultices. Faith healing. All of these things are harmless if not done to the exclusion of actual medicine.
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