Feb 10 2020

Homeopathic X-rays

Homeopathy is pure pseudoscience. No reasonable review of the evidence can come to another conclusion. Most people who use homeopathic products don’t even know what it is – they generally think that the term refers to herbal or natural remedies. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, for most people, when I tell them what homeopathy actually is, their first reaction is disbelief. As silly as homeopathy is, it is good to give occasional reminders of how nonsensical the homeopathic industry is and how absurd their claims. This reminder is about homeopathic X-rays, which I will get to below.

The two core claims of homeopathy include the notion that like cures like – that a substance that causes symptoms will reduce those same symptoms in teeny tiny doses. There is no science to this claim, and no, it does not operate like allergy shots or vaccines. The substances and doses used generally do not provoke any immune response. They don’t provoke any response at all, because the doses are so tiny, they are usually non-existence. That is the second core foundation of homeopathy, extreme dilutions.

How extreme? A typical 30C dilution involves dissolving the starting ingredients 1:100 thirty times. That is a 10^60 dilution. There are about 10^50 atoms in the Earth, so you would need 10 billion Earths worth of homeopathic potion to have an even chance of getting a single molecule of “active” ingredient. But to the homeopath this is a feature not a bug, because they believe that the magical “essence” of the starting ingredient remains behind.

Homeopathy, in other words, is not medicine but magical potions, based on prescientific superstitions. That doesn’t stop corporations from pretending it is real medicine and selling it as such.

Boiron is the largest such corporation. One of their products is “X-Ray 30 CH”. There is currently a meme going around with the recipe for this potion. I checked it out, and yes, Boiron does sell homeopathic X-rays. What is this used for? Here is a long list of symptoms, including cancer and “distressing pain.” I particularly like the use for “lewd dreams” in men. How was that sorted out? Using what are known as “homeopathic provings.” This does not bear any resemblance to actual scientific research. Rather, it is a collection of anecdotes. People are given the substance and told to recount whatever they feel. Those feelings are then gathered and any common themes are pulled out – voila, you have a homeopathic proving.

Here is a brief excerpt from the provings of X-rays:

Like Thuja and what we see in other sycotic patients, the homeopathic X-ray patient can have hidden elements in their personality. But in homeopathic X-ray their main impetus or sense of purpose is to accurately reveal problems in others or in organizations.

In both provings it was observed that very old symptoms, dreams and states were stirred up and came out. “Re – establishes suppressed gonorrhea”.

There is often a lot of metaphor in these provings. They have more in common with astrological readings than actual medicine. But again, it doesn’t matter that the ingredients themselves are fanciful and useless, because they are diluted out of existence anyway.

How does one capture “X-rays” in a pill? Some homeopathic X-ray products state that they expose alcohol to X-rays, and the alcohol is then diluted. It can be taken directly or poured onto sugar pills. This is the perfect homeopathic potion, because when something like alcohol is exposed to X-rays, which is ionizing radiation, part of the electromagnetic spectrum, they just pass right through. They have enough energy to kick out some electrons, which is why they can cause damage, but after being exposed to X-rays the substance does not “contain” or emit X-rays itself. Only radioactive materials emit radiation like X-rays, and alcohol and sugar pills are not radioactive. This is identical to shining a light onto something inert and then saying that it “contains” light. This is true only for special substances that are fluorescent.

If you wanted to pretend to be semi-plausible, you could start with a fluorescent substance, expose that to ultraviolet light or X-rays, and then dilute that out of existence (so again, it wouldn’t really matter).  But since it’s all magic, companies like Boiron just use the cheapest method. In fact, their “C” dilutions are often “CK” dilutions – which means that with each dilution they completely empty the container and then refill with more water or alcohol. Whatever substance from the prior dilution that sticks to the sides of the container is apparently enough for the next dilution. This process is easy to automate – no measuring, nothing. Just completely dump out the containers and refill them.

Despite this extreme (to the point of magic) implausibility, is there any evidence that homeopathic X-rays are effective? Of course not. In fact, there is no evidence that homeopathic anything is effective at treating anything. Die-hard proponents, when confronted with the evidence, often say – well, homeopathy needs to prescribed specifically by a trained homeopath. The treatments are all individual. This claim, however, is a self-imposed trap. If true, they have just invalidated the entire homeopathic product industry.

For example, Boiron will help you find a remedy “in just three clicks”. No examination, history, or professional visit necessary – just click your symptoms and several products will be recommended. The third click will link you to places to buy the product. Homeopaths who defend themselves with the “individualized treatment” claim should then be offended by the fraud of Boiron and campaigning against them – something which I have never seen from a homeopath.

And of course the individualized treatment claim is pure nonsense as well. Homeopaths use a variety of “philosophies” (there isn’t even a consensus on which flavor of nonsense is correct, again, just like astrology) to determine their treatments. The homeopathic assessment is itself fanciful, based largely on metaphors, and completely divorced from reality.

Homeopathy has everything in common with magic potions. Ingredients are chosen based upon notions like sympathetic magic, personality types, and other superficial features. The magical “essence” is then extracted through a ritualized process. This essence is then supposed to imbue the body with its healing powers. There is no biology, physiology, chemistry, or science of any kind involved at any point in this process.

That homeopathy survives and even thrives in the 21st century is a sad commentary on our society.

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