Why do we call homeopathy pseudo- and no longer alternative medicine?

Lesedauer / Reading Time: 4 min

Homeopathy is not the right answer to justified questions and wishes of patients

A magician - as illustration of the claim, that magic isn't an alternative to reality.
Magic is no alternative to reality

Many patients are longing for an alternative to our often so time-limited, too often unemotional medical everyday life – and rightly so! Who would like to feel treated like a number or be left alone with their concerns regarding a medical diagnosis? Who is not looking for a good way to avoid having to run to the doctor every time something goes wrong, possibly to pick up the seasonal viruses in the waiting room? Who would not like to avoid side effects for themselves and their children? Who wouldn’t want to resort to gentle, natural remedies if they could maintain their health and perhaps even prevent illness? All these points (and there are certainly a whole range of others) are absolutely understandable, comprehensible and humane. All these questions are looking for an answer.

But homeopathy is not the right answer. Yes, homeopathy has been suggesting for many years that it can answer these questions. In every advertisement, the words “gentle, natural, free of side effects” find their place. In every self-description, the homeopath tells that he can address “the root” of a disease, that he activates the body’s self-healing power, that his remedies are tailored exactly to the patient and his individual history. A dream. Yes, but exactly that. Because it is simply not true.

The best that homeopathy has to offer is time. While a patient is a guest of the homeopath or repertorizes his symptoms over and over again, his body heals itself. But this is fatal again because the patient and also the homeopath are increasingly establishing the belief that it is due to homeopathy that the symptoms have improved. “Alternative treatment” seems to have succeeded. Seems so.

Homeopathy promises more than it can deliver

Because today we know very well that no real treatment at all has taken place, instead time has simply passed. Perhaps the warm atmosphere and the mysticism that surrounds homeopathy have contributed to the patient’s improvement. Or the possibility of having control over the own illness or that of one’s children. But we know very well that it was not the causal effect of the globules. Nothing can do nothing. We also know that the belief that one would be helped makes a difference. But this occurs with every therapy, yes, with every kind of care, we do not need an “alternative” treatment method for this.

But why don’t we just let it go with this insight? Why do we want to establish the term “pseudomedicine” in our information network homeopathy?

Because homeopathy doesn’t let it be enough. It does not say: We exist on the faith and trust that patients give us, we benefit on past time and other minor factors that can be attributed to psychology. Instead, it claims grossly false things:

    • that substances in absence can have any effect,
    • that nanoparticles or quantum physics would explain that,
    • that shaking can transfer energy from substances to water and from there back to globules,
    • that the effect is still present in the globules when the water evaporates,
    • that care and talks are not what helps, but any specific effect of the globule energy,
    • that there are specific effects of the globules beyond placebo level,
    • that there are studies that show this clearly and unambiguously,
    • that they could prove all this – in contrast to science, which is always just doubting around – (because one could experience it).

There is and needs no alternative to effective medicine

Here a completely wrong impression is given. And an attempt is being made to give homeopathy a serious, medical slant. To leave a scientifically proven impression. But we have long known that homeopathy cannot be part of medicine, as well as part of science. And that it is certainly not an alternative (what is “an alternative” to proven effective medicine anyway?). There is no alternative to effective medicine and there is no need for it. If a method can prove its efficacy, then it is included in medicine and used within it. Homeopathy has not been able to prove its effectiveness in about 200 years. Instead, it is based on quasi-scientific connotations and great popularity among the population. However, the popularity is not a result of the actual effectiveness of homeopathy, but rather of the promises that desperate patients seeking help are so eager to believe. The terms alternative medicine, complementary medicine or integrative medicine suggest that more help is possible here than with effective proven medicine. But how should this be possible?

Pseudomedicine does not help patients

But because this discrepancy between praising and keeping the promise of salvation is still hardly known, we would like to make it clear with the more blatant term “pseudo-medicine” that homeopathy is not an “alternative”. We want to make it clear to patients that homeopathy does not give them what it first feels like and is marketed as good. In the worst case, really meaningful alternatives are not available. Even if these sometimes only consist of waiting and drinking some tea and reading a nice book. Sometimes it can also be a conversation with your best friend or professional support from a psychologist. Sometimes it is also another doctor with whom the chemistry is better – literally and medically. Even the health insurance companies know this – and today they make it possible to change doctors without any problems.

(Author: Dr. med. Natalie Grams)

Picture Credits: Wikipedia Commons Strobridge Litho. Co., Cincinnati & New York

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