Fact 12 is an observation that homeopathic remedies are cheap. This is perhaps not surprising; the manufacturing process consists of dilutions, shaking and banging the container of solution against a leather covered board. These days this process is done by machine. Drops of the final solution are placed on cheap placebo pills (usually made from lactose) and allowed to evaporate. No expensive ingredients or complex manufacturing processes.
Fact 13 is an observation that pharmaceutical medicines are expensive. If I may be pedantic here, that is a fact about Big Pharma not Big Quacka. I am no great fan of the pharmaceutical giants but it has to be admitted that research and development costs have to be paid for. Even when producing generic out of patent products, the manufacturer has undertake a complex process ensuring that each pill contains a precise amount of the drug and that by-products of the manufacturing process do not find their way into the pills. Requires good quality instrumentation and people skilled enough to know how to use it. This costs.
In Fact 14 she tells us that there are more than 4,000 homeopathic medicines. All, due to the serial dilutions involved in the manufacturing process, chemically identical to the extent that – as a homeopath told a Parliamentary Committee – the only way to tell them apart is to read the lable.
Fact 15 informs us that homeopathic medicines have no toxic side effects. Unless, I presume, you are lactose-intolerant. The reality is that the general lack of side effects is hardly surprising when you consider that homeopathic remedies contain no active ingredients. They have no effects at all.
Fact 16 tells us of the non-addictive nature of homeopathic medicines. Since they have no effect on the body’s biochemistry, no cravings can be established.
In Fact 17 we are informed that true homeopathic medicine is made from one substance only. The mother tincture may contain that one ingredient but the process of dilution ensures that all of the ingredient ends up down the drain. She then claims that we are rarely informed of the ingredients of modern pharmaceuticals. Well let’s see. According to the box, my allergy relief tablets each contain 8 mg of acrivastine and 60mg of pseudophedrine hydrochloride in lactose. My supermarket own brand painkillers, according to the box, contain 200mg of ibuprofen in sucrose and also contain microcrystalline cellulose and E171. Everything else in the medicine cabinet is similarly informative. Perhaps me and the missus are lucky and just happen only ever to get medicines produced by companies who do list ingredients. Or perhaps Ms Mclean is spouting rubbish.
Fact 18 brings us to the bane of homeopathy: Avogadro’s Constant. Mclean says that any remedy up to 12C (24X or 1 part remedy to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 parts water) potency still contains molecules of the substance and this, she misinforms us, is known as Avogadro’s number. In fact, Avogadro’s number is the number of molecules present in one gramme-molecule of the substance and is approximately 6 x 10 to the twentythird power, or 6 followed by 23 zeroes. One gramme-molecule is the molecular mass in grammes of the substance so 32 grammes of oxygen (which has a relative molecular mass of 32), for example, contains 6 x 10^23 oxygen molecules. It is true that ‘potencies’ beyond 24X are increasingly unlikely to contain a single molecule of the substance which is why conventional doctors and scientist cannot take such notions as 60X dilutions seriously.
In Fact 19 we meet the homeopathic conceit that their medicines are individualised as “every patient is unique”. Since, we are informed in Fact 14, there are 4,000+ homeopathic remedies, Fact 19 could only be true if there are fewer than 5,000 people in existence.
In Fact 20 she claims homeopathy treats genetic illness. This is a WTF moment in itself but then she claims tuberculosis, syphilis, gonorrhoea, scabies, cancer and leprosy are genetic. There may well be some genetic contribution to cancer but TB and clap for a start are are caused by bacteria.
In Fact 21 she claims that epidemics such as cholera and typhoid were treated successfully using homeopathy in the 19th century and ‘proves’ it by linking to whale.to. Scopie’s Law is hereby invoked.
In Fact 22 she informs us that there are thousands of homeopathic books available at specialist outlets. This may be true but it does not prove anything as to the efficacy of homeopathic nostrums. There are thousands of books on Black Magic available at specialist outlets too. This does not mean that someone claiming he can summon Satan is not a liar.
Well, that appears to wrap it up for homeopathic medicine. In the next exciting episode:- Homeopathic Hospitals.