The Greatest Ruse of Them All

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not usually the conspiracy theory kind of guy. In fact, I’m anything but, and I endorse all manner of logical thought and reasoning. You know, stuff based on evidence. Stuff that can be proven. Especially when it comes to issues of health, no stakes are to be taken.
So you might think that I’m totally against homoeopathic medicine, which, in effect, is basically water. But I have just lately realized the true ingenuity behind it. Whoever invented homoeopathic treatment was none other than a pure genius. Not in medicine, of course; near-infinite dilution doesn’t sound like a plausible remedy; but in psychology and human behaviour. A marketing genius. A people genius.
Think about it. Many harmful symptoms and health problems are not caused by bacteria or viruses, but are the result of our own mind. Mental stress, for example, can cause headaches and nausea but can be said to be relatively “self induced”. So while we can take pills to alleviate the symptoms, proper mental control can also reduce the problem.

photo by Getty
photo by Getty

Ach, but it’s so rather difficult to just “change our state of mind”, and make our body more at ease. Sadly, while we have control over many muscles, we barely control how we feel and what hormones we exert. Humans are quite lame at those things, and cannot do it alone. We cannot just “turn off the pain”. What we really need an external factor to help us change. If only there was something that could induce us to do so. Something that tells us, “there there, from now on, everything is going to be alright. Everything is going to get better”. Something cheap. Something that has no side effects.
Enter the placebo. A brilliant solution. You give a man a pill and say “this is certified treatment! It will remove your headache right away”. And viola! Two hours later, the man is fit as a fiddle and ready to go. Of course, the pill itself contains literally quite nothing; a dud. This mental trickery has been tested frequently, and is in fact so common and strong that nowadays new drugs are tested against placebos, and not against “no treatment”.
Alas, you cannot just put a box of pills at the pharmacy and label it “placebo”. It defies the whole concept. Placebos, once uncovered as such, are quite ineffective. A man has to be unaware that he is taking it for it to work.
And hereby the innovation of homoeopathy is quite apparent. In many studies, homoeopathic treatments have been shown to be about as effective as placebos. This is because… they are placebos! Think of it this way: a person taking it thinks that it will work. In essence, he is just taking water. Exactly like the case we described above. Placebo!
In an ingenious marketing, advertising, and ethically eyebrow-raising move, homoeopathy’s inventors and proponents have managed to find a way to sell a placebo to the public, without a large percentage of the public realizing it. Effective remedies can be sold en-masse, because they contain nothing other than water. We have plenty of that.
Of course, somewhere along the way, this plan went astray. While placebos are highly effective against pains, they are also highly ineffective against cancers. If anything, they only make matters worse, because while someone is taking them he is less prone to be engaging in real, medically proven treatments.
As far as pain relief goes, I’m not entirely against selling placebos to the public. It’s a cheap and efficient way of curing pain and stress, and the ethical damage is not great – it would seem silly for the users to complain afterwards, “you lied to us! The cure worked but for the wrong reasons, we demand retribution!”. This does not mean that I would outwardly support homoeopathy clinics, but it’s one less thing to worry about. However, such placebos should not be given as treatment against anything severe or life threatening, or as treatment for actual diseases. Small chances that they can heal malaria. If the proper regulation is enforced, I think that homoeopathy can be turned into a boon, instead of a medical nuisance.

One thought on “The Greatest Ruse of Them All

  1. Homeopathy is a non-toxic system of western medical science originated in Germany by Dr. Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann (10 April 1755 Germany- 2 July 1843 France). He received his M.D. with honors in conventional medicine from University of Erlangen, Germany on 10 Aug 1779. From Germany (1796) homeopathy spreads to austria (1816) and then to the rest of the europe.

    The birth date of the founder and father of Homeopathy i.e. 10 April every year is celebrated as ‘ World Homeopathy Day ‘ and the week following his birthday i.e. 10-16 April every year is celebrated as ‘ World Homeopathy Awareness Week ‘ all through the world.

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