by endlesspsych

Nanopharmacology whats that when it’s at home then?

Well according to Dana Ullman, an expert in homeopathy no less, in the Huffpo it’s how Homeopathy works. Lets have a wee look at some of the claims in the article…

It is commonly assumed that homeopathic medicines are composed of extremely small doses of medicinal substances.

Well it is commonly assumed that there is no actual dose of a medical substance in a homeopathic “medicine” – however Simon Perry on his adventures in nonsense blog* covers this better than I ever could, firstly the following explains how a homeopathic remedy is made:

Turning a chemical such as onion juice into a homeopathic preparation involves a process of “dilution” and “succussion”. To create the centesimal or “C” remedies they sell at Boots, the homeopath takes one drop of the chemical and mixes it with 99 drops of water (dilution). In centuries past, this was then banged against a leather covered board or book, often a bible, although in modern times the shaking is often done by machine. This shaking is called “succussion”. This is now a 1C homeopathic preparation. It contains 99% water and 1% “active ingredient”.

To turn this into a 2C remedy, the process is repeated. One drop of the solution is taken from the 1C remedy is mixed with 99 drops of water and then shaken. The 2C remedy now contains 99.99% water and 0.01% “active ingredient”. Repeat the process again to create a 3C remedy at 0.0001%, and so on. Homeopaths believe that the higher the level of dilution, the more powerful the remedy.

Secondly the  ridiculous nature of following claim…

And yet, does anyone refer to an atomic bomb as an extremely small dose of a bomb? In actual fact, there is a power, a very real power, in having atoms smash against each other.

…is pretty nicely debunked thusly:

We can calculate approximately how many molecules of “active ingredient” get into the one drop that makes it into the pillule. A drop of water contains about 1,700,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules. Scientists write this as 1.7×1021. That’s a 17 with 20 zeros after it. A 6C remedy will contain around 0.0000000001% “active” ingredient – which works out at about 1.7 billion molecules of active ingredient. But what about when we dilute this further? By the time you get to 10C, there are only 17 molecules of active ingredient left. And at 11C, you only have about a one chance in 6 of finding a single molecule.30C. I already explained that at 11C, you only have about a one in 6 chance of finding a single molecule of active ingredient. At 12C, there is only about one chance in 600 that you will find a molecule and at 13C just one chance in 60,000. By the time you get to 30C, you have more chance of winning the National Lottery jackpot five weeks in a row than you do of finding a single molecule of active ingredient.

Of course atoms are slightly smaller than molecules but the general principle remains very similar – the chance of finding an atom of active ingredient in your homeopathic medicine is next to none. What Ullman is therefore ignoring with his simile is that there are no atoms to smash together…

Homeopathic remedies are just water. Thats it. It makes as much sense claiming that homeopathy works through (made up term!) Nanopharmacology as it does to say it’s down to Cromwells magic cock! (This is of course a reference to the statistics that show it’s likely that at least one molecule in any given glass of water has passed through the bladder of Oliver Cromwell…)

This is just going to be a brief post so I will leave you with my thoughts on the following quote:

Precisely how homeopathic medicines work remains a mystery, and yet, nature is replete with mysteries and with numerous striking examples of the power of extremely small doses.

Without the aid of a mystery van a redheaded geek, hot blonde, scruffy stoner, clean-cut college type and talking dog I think we can safely say science provides a very reasonable explanation for the supposed effects of homeopathy.

The placebo effect.

It is telling that the reported benefits of homeopathic medicines deal mainly with chronic conditions, conditions that recur over time and where regression to the mean can come into play. Essentially conditions where they can get better on their own or perhaps the patient taking the homeopathic medicine can convince themselves their symptoms have lessened and better cope with them because they have taken something… anything… which in reality is nothing.

(This is an effect observed using actual medicines and drugs – packaging and brand names actually mitigate (to an extent) for the experienced potency of a medicine. But this is a matter of perception not medical miracle.)

Anyway I’ll leave you with a bit of a cryptic link…


The game is afoot Scrappy Doo…


*A personal favourite.