Dr. Samuel Hahnemann suckered a whole bunch of Germans in 1790 when he launched the medical fad known as Homeopathy. Somehow this quackery survived to present day, where it has enjoyed a dramatic resurgence in popularity. The theory has two central principles worth noting:

  1. The Law of Similars. Hahnemann somehow decided that nature will never permit two illnesses with the same effects to coexist in the human body. Based on that (bogus) assumption, the good doctor reasoned that he could exploit this (nonexistent) phenomenon to cure disease. He figured that he could dispel any given symptom by attempting to induce it a second time; somehow, they would cancel out. Therefore, the treatment for a patient who is nauseated would be to administer a substance known to produce nausea. Hahemann described it thusly: Similia similibus curentur -- "Allow likes to cure likes."

  2. The Law of Infinitesimals. This one is even dumber. Hahnemann claimed that the effectiveness of a drug was inversely proportional to its dosage. The smaller the amount, the greater its impact on the body. So if your medicine isn't having much of an effect, you should decrease the dosage. Based on this utter nonsense, homeopathic remedies contain miniscule quantities of active ingredients. In fact, the "strongest" formulations usually contain not a single molecule of the substances in question. Zero parts per billion -- pure water. This might seem to be a fatal flaw in the theory, but the Homeopaths have an explanation. Even after the solute is finally eliminated by the process of repetitive dilution, the water somehow remembers the drug and maintains its curative properties. Even though it's completely gone. Still remembers. Somehow. (Riiiight.)

Homeopathic Clinic Tent Thankfully, this lunacy is mostly harmless. As long as the patient's illness is minor, Homeopathy itself is unlikely to do any harm. The water treatment will have no impact. And the body's intrinsic healing processes are certainly capable of conquering routine diseases, especially when assisted by the placebo effect.

The problem arises when a truly serious affliction comes up, and the fool is determined to rely on the distilled water alone. At which point, the chump stands a pretty good chance of getting an apology from Dr. Hahnemann in person.


5 Oct 1994 Predicting that the world would soon end in an environmental disaster, homeopath Luc Jouret and 52 others belonging to his Order of the Solar Temple commit mass suicide near Cheiry, Switzerland and Montreal, Canada.
6 Oct 2001 The Daily Record reports that model Kate Moss used "acupuncture and homeopathic cures to aid her recovery since breaking her shoulder last month. She had to be cut free when her car collided with another and rolled down an embankment."
8 Oct 2001 The Express reports that model Tony Blair's sister-in-law Lyndsey Booth is a practicing homeopath, and that Blair's mother-in-law used homeopathic remedies on her family.
Oct 2003 Pamela Anderson, hepatitis C sufferer, tells Us magazine that she expects to die from the disease within a decade. But she has opted for homeopathy, not Interferon, for her treatment. In fact, her doctor Wendy Hewland tells Us she "made a single remedy specifically for Pam."

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