ChristianBecker wrote:What is vague is the concept many people have of homoeopathy...
That's the impression I'm getting from a few posts, which isn't surprising given that it's not something the posters would likely to be interested in. Homoeopathy is kind of a pseudo-scientific extension of the Greek medical theory of the four humours. It's tenets are:
- All effective drugs produce symptoms in healthy individuals similar to those of the diseases that they treat (demonstrably untrue).
- A very weak dilution of a harmful substance preserve a its therapeutic properties while removing its harmful effects, arousing and enhancing "the spirit-like medicinal powers of the crude substances" (how?).
- The weaker the dilution, the more powerful its effects (very Zen).
- Some dilutions are so weak they are unlikely to contain even a single molecule of the original substance. Modern practitioners try to explain this by theorising that "water has a memory" (ommmmmm).
Given the above, I'm happy to dismiss homoeopathy entirely.
Alternative and folk medicine are slightly different beasts, which I treat with a great deal of scepticism, but not outright dismissal. There is an awful lot of woo out there, and much of it is as nonsensical as homoeopathy, but there may well be some useful nuggets too. Genuine folk medicine contains a mix of good and bad advice, but it takes a more scientific approach to separate one from the other. Willow bark has been known to reduce pain and fever since at least the time of Hippocrates, but you are far better off taking aspirin, which contains similar compounds; it has the benefits of providing a known dose of a quality controlled substance, at greatly reduced cost, with much lower risk of contamination.
It's also worth noting that many pharmaceuticals simply don't work for many patients, because their genes can affect how a particular drug works in their body. This is also why some people suffer from side-effects, while others don't. Finding the right prescription for someone often involves a degree of trial and error.