Sunday, June 1, 2008

Herbal Self-Treatment: Homeopathic Humbug

Herbals have been the basis of self treatment since the time of Shen Nong, the divine farmer who is revered in China as the discoverer of herbal medications (Bivins, 94). They have been the remedy of choice for almost all ailments for almost four thousand years; that is before western medicine discovered new scientific techniques to isolate active compounds and create more potent drugs. But, even before these scientific discoveries came into play, new theories about herbals have arisen from the ashes, one of them being the theory of homeopathy. Homeopathy is a two hundred year old practice that has countless followers and adversaries to match. Even though homeopathic medicine is still in wide use across the world, its practices are non-beneficial, false, and outdated and its use in medicine should be discontinued.

The word Homeopathy comes from the Greek word homois meaning similar and pathos meaning suffering. Its theories first originated in print in 1807 by a German physician named Samuel Hahnemann (Crellin 86). He viewed sick people as having a dynamic disturbance in vital energies which can be cured by the 'law of similars'. He spent most of his life working on this theory and had investigated many different substances which came from many different sources, such as animal, plant, mineral, or synthetic substances. He experimented with sodium chloride, opium, thyrodinium or thyroid hormone, poisons such as arsenic, mercury and belladonna, herbals such as rhubarb, and elements such as Antimony (Crellin 87).