Care and Use of Homeopathic Remedies

It always feels a little cruel to poke fun at homeopathy since it is perilously close to self-parody already, particularly the serious and earnest way in which proponents say absurd things. As a refresher, the idea is based on a couple of ideas made up by Samuel Hahneman in the 19th century. You take something that makes you sick, or causes a particular symptom (maybe, though most “provings” are based on Hahneman or someone else swallowing something, usually diluted to the point at which there is nothing but water there, and then reporting how they feel). Anyway, then you dilute it some more (and don’t forget to shake it!) until it becomes a potent but completely safe remedy.

Even the homeopaths don’t claim there’s anything but water in most of their nostrums, but they believe the water has some “memory” of what used to be in it (but only what they put in it, not the animal poo or whatever else was in it before they got hold of it). This is often “explained” with reference to quantum physics, since almost no one really understands quantum physics well enough to recognize this as BS, and besides it sounds better than calling it “magic.”

But I recently ran across a bit of advice from the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association that deserve a little mockery. Here is their handout on Care and Use of Homeopathic Remedies:

Care and use of homeopathic remedies 

  • Fill bottle with spring water if not already diluted
  • Store in refrigerator unless otherwise labeled 
  • Tap bottle 10-20X against palm of hand before administering .This mixes the remedies, but also increases their effectiveness  
  • Wipe off tip of dropper when done to minimize contamination. In dogs, you can squirt the remedy into the cheek pouch  
  • Do not mix in food or water if possible. (the water bowl is a possibility for single pet, difficult-to-medicate pets).Just let Dr. Lund know that you are using the remedy this way
  • Your bottle will last ~6-8 weeks, and then often start to grow a bit of mold. Pets on long term therapy will need a recheck by then anyway, and the next set of remedies is usually different

So let’s get this straight. First, you dilute the water with spring water, unless it’s already been diluted. Then store the water in the refrigerator, presumably to prevent it from spoiling. Shake the water before administering to mix it with itself and make it an even stronger medicine. Be very careful not to mix the water with any food or water, except the water you originally mixed the water with (presumably too much water would make the water dangerously strong). And don’t worry if the water grows mold despite being refrigerated, since by the time this happens it will probably be necessary to have another visit with the doctor and change to a different kind of water anyway.

Obviously, I’m not smart enough to practice this kind of medicine.

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8 Responses to Care and Use of Homeopathic Remedies

  1. Bartimaeus says:

    Heh. Apparently Hannemahn (sp?) did not like having his remedies shipped long distances because he was concerned that all the shaking would make them too potent and they would be dangerous. Of course all the instructions and precautions make for a much better placebo.

  2. jre says:

    You have neglected to mention the most important advantage of homeopathy for the animal lover: any animal products used in their preparation are so diluted that only one or two animals need be sacrificed to supply the whole universe. For example, according to herbal diva Brigitte Mars, only two goose[1] livers are needed for each year’s supply of Oscillococcinum! I was so tickled to learn this fact that I corresponded with Ms. Mars on the subject. Her reply, in its entirety, was “Many Blessings, Jim!” — so I think that went well.

    [1] Well, duck, technically, but I like the goose concept better, so I’m sticking with it.

  3. skeptvet says:

    Excellent point, JRE, thanks!

  4. Rita says:

    Mwahahaah!

    -jre – see many other posts here and elsewhere on the utter disregard of homeopathy – and other “natural” methods, for animal welfare and life. True it’s only (!) one duck a year or whatever, but the principle is – if it helps my woo, I’m doing it regardless.

  5. Rita says:

    jre – B. Mars has changed her advice:

    “Anas barbariae is a homeopathic remedy for the onset of flu symptoms, nasal discharge or congestion, chills, ear and frontal sinus pain. It is available in health food stores under the name of Oscillococcinum.”

    – no reference to vegans being able to use this wretched nostrum because it only uses one duck (as though one would!). You must have scared her off.

  6. Suzanne says:

    Yes, low-hanging fruit indeed. Yet people still pay money for this stuff, so there apparently isn’t yet enough snark out there on the subject. Keep up the good work!

  7. Narda says:

    Do they still need rabies-infected animals each year to make homeopathic Lyssin?

  8. skeptvet says:

    Good question, Narda. I’m sure with the infinite potency that can be achieved by sufficient silution, there is probably an eternal stock solution somewhere, but who knows?

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