I am seldom so enraged by the things around me that I choose to blog about it. For the most part, I am content to write my blog posts about the beauty of starlight or the unusual ideology of religious anarchists. But it takes a special kind of ignorance and callousness that makes me want to write angry things. And I am afraid that I must devote this humble blog once more to a tirade against the depraved lunacy that I bore witness to on Eventbrite.com.
Eventbrite is an online box office for local performances, conferences, and other social events. I happened to get directed to this site while registering for an event hosted at the University of Minnesota. Curious to search for other events in my area, I happened about an event hosted in Northfield, MN. The Just Food Co-op was announcing a training held by Sujata Owens called Homeopathic Treatment for Children with ADHD/ADD/Autism. At first I was merely smug. Owens guaranteed that homeopathic medicine was free of any side effects (and I slid back down into my chair, grinning to myself as I thought out loud, “It’s free of any other effects, too…) “Homeopathy offers an alternative in addressing the root causes of ADD and Autism” (So does a nail gun, but that doesn’t make power tools a valid form of treatment, either, I thought.) Parents who believe in homeopathic medicine sometimes treat their kids’ with Ritalin or Adderol and decide to add Belladonna or Ipeca to stay on the safe side. As long as their kids kept taking Ritalin, there was no harm done, albeit the parents were getting swindled with water pills and big fat honking placebos. It’s a shame that they weren’t more scientifically literate, but as long as they keep refilling the prescription for their kids’ actual medication, they’ll stay out of jail.
And then I read the description of for the event. “If you are ready to know how homeopathy can offer assistance to your child to be happy, productive and successful, then this class is for you. Summer is a good time to work with homeopathy as many kids are taken off of their medications. At first I thought to myself: why would you take a child off of medication for any reason other than they no longer needed it? There could be many valid reasons for taking a child off of their medication, but the axial tilt of the planet swinging the Northern hemisphere into warmer temperatures didn’t seem like a compelling reason to me. straightening up in my chair a bit, the smug look on my face receding). I decided to find out more about this Homeopathic Master Clinician. If she was attempting to take children off of medications, then this quack stepped outside of her role as an opportunistic charlatan with a wide-open crap spigot where her facts come out of, and stepped into a realm where someone could sue her for fraud.
Homeopathy is based on the asinine notion that dilutions of poisonous substances will cure disease because water has a memory for substances that were once dissolved in it. Homeopaths prepare their medication by diluting their active ingredient in water or alcohol and striking the dilution in a process succussion. After repeating the process of dilution and succussion several times, while there might not be any measurable amount of the active ingredient left, the medication is reportedly stronger the more it is diluted. Homeopathic medications are measured in orders of magnitudes of X, like 2X or 30X; meaning that in the X30 concentration for every molecule of active ingredient, there would 10 to the 30th molecules of water.
The University of Toronto’s chemistry department found that the active ingredient in some homeopathic medicine is so small that “it is equivalent to 5 billion times less than the amount of aspirin… in a single pellet”. At concentrations this minute, homeopathic cures like Belladonna and ipeca “would be indistinguishable from each other in a blind test.” Scientific tests run by both the BBC’s Horizon and ABC’s 20/20 programs were unable to differentiate homeopathic dilutions from water, even when using tests suggested by homeopaths themselves. Homeopathic medicine prescribed by homeopathic doctors (which is actually a misnomer because neither are the medicine, nor the doctors actually effective) is nothing more than a water pill or a placebo. In fact, many people have deliberately overdosed on the most powerful homeopathic medicines available; and, of course, survived. Public “mass suicides” have been staged where groups of people consume whole boxes of 60X medication and rush themselves to the hospital, only to show the non-efficacy of this supposedly effective home remedy.
Often homeopaths recommend that their patients stop receiving medical treatment such as surgery or drugs, which can cause unpleasant side-effects, but the improvements that are attributed to homeopathy are most likely caused by ending the treatment causing side-effects in the first place, while the underlying disease remains untreated and is still harmful to the patient. By advocating to parents to take these children off of their meds Owens becomes morally culpable for any harm that comes to the children who go off of their treatment. Denying children the help they need because some quack preys upon desperate parents is deplorable and this woman should be ashamed of herself.
Medications have side-effects. That is just the reality of medication. This is not reason enough to go off of medication. Doctors (real medical doctors, not these so-called doctors of homeopathy) who prescribe medication, unfortunately, don’t always land on the right dosage for their patients. This does not invalidate the pharmaceutical industry or the efficacy of conventional medication, it just means that doctors and patients need to communicate with each other to make sure the proper dosage is being achieved. An inappropriate dosage can harm children, but doctors can adjust the prescription or switch to a different regimen to ease the discomfort of their patients. Taking children off of their medication altogether is seldom the proper course of action.