Homeopathic Meds Were Too Good to Be True All Along (Sob!)

homeopathic medicines

Bad news for alternative medicine advocates: A new report says homeopathic medications are not effective for treating any condition. Zilch, nada. I know what some of you are thinking: But what about all the times homeopathy has totally worked for me?!?



Keep in mind, this study focused specifically on the system of alternative medicine developed in Germany based on the idea that “the substances that may cause illness or symptoms in a healthy person can, in very small doses, treat those symptoms in a person who is unwell," as the report put it. They're usually sold as those tiny, round pellets you take five at a time, every few hours.

When it comes to treating a cold, homeopathic meds have been my go-to. They sure seem to effectively treat MY conditions!

But this brings us to one of the difficult, painful truths about how science works.

Anecdotal evidence ain't no evidence at all. In order for an experiment's findings to be valid, you have to be able to replicate it, over and over again, with as large a group of participants as possible. Just because something appears to work for you, and your friends, doesn't mean it is effective for most people.

My own success with homeopathic meds could have been (gasp!) a placebo effect. I have no way of knowing if it was those little tiny pellets that quelled my sniffles, or if the cold virus I had wasn't that strong to begin with.

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So here's how this report is different. The authors did a meta analysis. That's when they look at all or most of the studies that have been done to get the "big picture." And what they found was that the homeopathic medications were not effective at treating symptoms. What's more, the few studies that seemed to prove the meds do work had serious flaws that put their results in question.

So does that mean Big Pharma wins? Not so fast. I think if anything, this study shows that we need more, higher-quality studies on alternative medicine.

Homeopathic medicine has millions of passionate adherents who want an alternative to pharmaceuticals that come with serious side effects -- and that in some cases can even make you sicker. And collectively we are spending millions of dollars seeking out those alternatives. We find the idea of the body healing itself, of medicine that treats the whole person, not individual symptoms, enormously appealing -- even essential -- for maintaining good health.

So hey, if it turns out that those little tiny white pellets in the blue bottles aren't as effective as I thought they were, so be it. There's plenty of other non-pharmaceutical ways to treat the common cold -- and prevent it, for that matter.

But I'm sure as hell not turning to Mucinex any time soon. Let's all keep trying out alternatives and demanding better, smarter, safer ways to care for our health.

Have you ever taken homeopathic medications? Will this report influence your choices in the future?


Image via PRILL/Shutterstock

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