19
votes

Sugar pill claims

The reasoning behind dilution, 'potentiation' and the memory of water is known to me, and there are several good arguments to be made against those 'theories'. But I can't really use them if somebody comes up to me with a sugar pill supposed to contain a homeopathic remedy.

What is the homeopathic justification for those pills? The water, holding the cure in its supposed memory, is not there anymore, so what is the claim?

  • Do they claim that sugar has memory too? And if so, how do you get the water-memory into the sugar? Do you have to bang it against a book?
  • Do they claim something else? Is there some residue (for lack of a better word) that stays between the various sugar molecules
  • Any other strange arguments?

I have never seen anyone make these claims, they are just examples. There must be a - be it faulty - reasoning behind it, just as the memory explanation for water.

How a sugar pill is made

It seems the method is to just dip a pellet into the solution. From there you can just put other pellets/pills in the same jar as that one, and you have lots of pills. The only claim there seems to be is that the remedy water may leave, but the remedy stays behind. I have not found any claim of how this supposed memory is transferred to the sugar.

To make a pill, from this article on ukskeptics:

Once the remedy has been obtained in the required potency, sugar pills are dipped in the remedy and allowed to dry. The essence of the original mother tincture is now believed to have been transferred to the pill. If a pill with the essence of the remedy is allowed to come into contact with other sugar pills (such as placing them all together in a jar), it is believed that the other pills will also acquire the essence of the mother tincture. This process is known as 'grafting'.

Why

A lot of times it is necessary to explain to someone using a homeopathic dilution that there is a difference between (for instance) "natural remedies" they claim to use, and this bottle of water they're holding. After explaining what is claimed by the homeopath you can then add your own response, and maybe come to the shared conclusion that it is not a real remedy.

  • I'm not sure I unterstand correctly what exactly you are asking. Do you want to know why suger pills are used and not a diluted liquid? Could you please clarify your question? – Mad Scientist Feb 25 '11 at 7:56
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    I'll try. What i'm trying to ask is, how does a homeopath defend a sugar pill. It is not water-with memory anymore, so how does he or she claim that it works? – Nanne Feb 25 '11 at 8:01
  • Does that help? – Nanne Feb 25 '11 at 8:04
  • Your question was clear enough to me. I've never even heard sugar pills defended by homeopaths even to the extent of "water memory". – David Gerard Feb 25 '11 at 8:08
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    While I will not deny, that we need to show, that it doesn't work from a scientific viewpoint, we have to keep in mind, that for a homeopathic believer, the opposition to science is a major selling point. They call it themselves 'alternative medicine' and are proud, not to be part of the scientific community. They enjoy it, to be religious, while they are recruiting more successfully in the middle class and in the cities, with higher education and more knowledge. It's a paradox, but that's how it is. – user unknown Aug 10 '11 at 3:41
4
votes

Homeopaths really have no consensus as to the mechanism. Any explanations given are usually extremely vague, riddled with psuedoscientific notions or just plain incorrect.

The one thing they all seem to agree upon is the notion that "like cures like". So for example, a homeopathic remedy creating from red onion would cure a runny nose and watering eyes, as these are the symptoms red onion causes on its own. This is called the "Law of Similars". Samuel Hahnemann came up with this notion back when he was creating homeopathy. It has no evidence to support it.

They also claim that water has a "memory". This is to get around the fact that there is no active ingredient left in the solution. Even though not a molecule is left, somehow the water remembers what was originally added to it. This again, has no scientific evidence to back it up.

Another (infamous) explanation is here. This lady attempts to rationalise homeopathy from a physics point of view. It's wild conjecture based on a half-baked understanding of physics with a healthy sprinkle of factual inaccuracies. She basically asserts that mass is irrelevant in our universe, disease is caused by bad "vibrations" and homeopathy "retransforms" this energy back into a healthy state. Again, there is no evidence to back up these claims.

Finally, a lot of homeopaths shrug their shoulders and say "we don't really know how it works, it just works". There are things we use and yet we don't have a complete explanation of their mechanism (anesthetics), so that in itself doesn't debunk this claim. What debunks it is that any properly controlled, scientific experiment shows homeopathy has no effect any greater than placebo.

  • Like cures like and water memory are indeed some of the homeopaths theories, but I'm curious if there is anything around they use for the pills. The like-cures-like tells why something 'works', the water memory tells why it 'works' in dilluted version, but they would still have to explain how the sugar gets the 'remedy'. I'm really curious if any homeopath has ever tried to defend the pills-in-one-pot method.... – Nanne Mar 1 '11 at 15:50
  • There is a more significant problem - even if you posit that some unknown mechanism exists, you still need to ask how anyone would be able to characterize that effect enough to actually put it to use, while following the absurd methodologies they use -which are completely devoid of any inkling of sincere interest in actually investigating and understanding. It's all just following what the book says and believing that it will work; seeing success where it doesn't clearly occur, and going through a list of rationalizations when failure is clear. – greggo Mar 16 '15 at 4:17

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