I am from India where homeopathy is widely practiced and people cured as well (maybe due to placebo effect).
However I had a wart on my finger which kept on going bigger. I got it surgically removed but some small ones came up elsewhere. The GP who is a family freind as well had told me to go for a homeopath for skin and related disorders. Anyway I did goto a homeopath and my warts disappeared.
You may say it as a placebo but my dog of course does not know the word. He was given some homeopathic medicine for worms and he let out shitloads of worms!.
I am an engineer and do understand pseudo science as well, but this thing got me stumped. I think animals are a good test for non destructive type trials.
I’d like to recommend the book, The End of Magic by Ariel Glucklich (1997). He’s an anthrolologist who did research in Baranas, India, examining magical, especialy medica,l practices. His hypotheses are facinating. His ideas about cultural perceptions of the world around us leading to different epistemologies and solutions for various problems is fascinating.
If your dog shat out a load of worms I assume he was not treated by a classic homeopath, who would dillute the worm poison beyond the point of detectibility (and useability), but by one of the herbalists who have taken to calling themselves homeopaths because it’s the hip, new term and they can charge more for their services. I also assume he fed your dog one of the many natural vermifuges, like black horehound, in a large enough dose to make the worms choose to live somewhere else.
I’ve heard the argument that the placebo effect doesn’t work on animals as proof for homeopathy before. My reply is that the placebo-effect is just transferred to the animal’s owner who declares the dog/cat/hamster is cured, feeling better or whatever and that this was due to homeopathic treatment. This is only an interpretation of how the animal feels which is done by its owner who believes in the treatment, i.e. placebo by extension.
Of course I don’t know your dog or you and am in no position to judge how it feels and how well you interpreted how it feels. But even if you did judge correctly, Dropzone’s explanation might still be true or the dog’s immune system did the job.
So what I am basically trying to say is that the fact that an animal cannot be affected by the placebo effect does not mean that its owner can’t and that therefore anecdotal evidence will not prove homeopathic medicine’s effectiveness anymore than in the case of animals than it does in the case of humans.
If homeopathy (the idea that medicines get MORE effective the more you dilute them, even past the point where no molecules remain) worked, every drop of water on the earth would cure everything, since there’s been plenty of time for mixing. The “molecular memory” of every possible drug would be everywhere.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t passing worms in the stool one of the symptoms of a worm infestation? If the dog was passing worms before homeopathy, but then passed worms after the homeopathy, well, that isn’t saying much for homeopathy, is it? Even if he passed more of them than before, how can you be sure that’s all of them? Maybe it just means that the worm population in his guts has increased, so there’s more being shed.
As for warts, I had a wart once that I got rid of. What did I do about it? Absolutely nothing! And for only $19.95 plus shipping and handling, I’ll sell you some of that nothing! As soon as I get your check, money order, or major credit card, I’ll put absolutely nothing in the mail.
Well, it’s all in how you “succuss” the compound. :rolleyes:
The definitive argument against homeopathy, and indeed, any pseudoscience, is it’s inability to stand up to testing in a controlled, objective environment. Modern pharmacology is validated by blind or double blind studies (in which the subjects and often the researchers don’t know which subjects are getting what, if any, dosage) and the use of a control population against which to measure relative differences in effect. This, combined with correctly applied statistical analysis can falsify, or in pernecious absence of falsity, validate a treatment, even if the specific mechanism cannot be directly observed or is not fully understood. Practicianeers of homeopathy, as with other pseudosciences, have regularly either refused to participate in studies with such controls or have failed to demonstrate objective success when doing so, though they do come up with the most imaginative excuses when their nostrums fail to take effect.
Note, however, that just because a treatment is based on a bunk explaination doesn’t make it ineffective; thousands of legitimate medications have been developed from folk remedies even though the traditional theory of the causal mechanism was utter nonsense. Folk remedies persist often because they are effective, and post hoc ergo propter hoc rationalizations may appear to fix, not becuase the former results in the latter, but because both accompany the true root mechanism. (I am reminded of a vignette from James Herriot’s All Creatures Great And Small in which, after pronouncing a prostrate cow to have a seperated pelvis, the animal is “cured” by placing a heated sheepskin poultice over her back. To the amazement and embarassement of the vet, she gets up and shakes the poultice off. Later, when relating the story to his employer, the older vet explains that the pelvis can often appear to be deformed after birth and that the animal, already comtemplating standing up, was probably irritated enough by the heat of the poultice to stand up and shake it off.)
In the case of homeopathy, though, the described mechanism (some kind of vaguish blather about “energy vibrations in water molecules”) is so egregiously at odds with everything we understand about organic chemistry (and our understanding is sufficient to create complex vaccines and discern the inner workings of cells) and the results are so objectively vague and unreproducible that the field deserves little in the way of interest or concern by legitimate science until its proponents make a legimiate effort to demonstrate qunatifiable efficacy.
In the case of the OP and his wormy dog, we have insufficient information about the medicant that was applied; however, I’d speculate that instead of being some traditional homeopathic “compound”, it was instead some herb or substance that acted as a laxative and caused the dog to fully evacuate his bowels, thus purging the worms. There’s nothing mystical about that.
As for warts, they are caused by one variety or another of the virus Human papillomavirus, which often erupt and then become dormant spontaneously. Since they’re relatively harmless (the subspecies that causes cervical cancer is not one of the varieties that cause genital warts) there’s no harm in going to a homeopath for treatment, but the anecdotal effectiveness of the treatment may just as well be coincidence, amplified by our natural proclivity toward making associations. If the initial treatment were ineffective, the homeopath might just alter the dose, try a different application, et cetera, until the warts disappeared, and you’d still make the same association. Unless it can be demonstrated for a statistically significant population, or unless a specific, verifiable, repeatable mechanism (which is consistant with our knowledge of physiology and biochemistry) can be proposed and validated, coincidental anecdotes do not a sufficent claim make. Correlation is not causation.