A pharmacist’s education is rooted in the study of the natural sciences. It’s training that lends itself to sorting out novel, science-based therapies from implausible pseudoscience. To the the chagrin of the science-based pharmacist, homeopathic products are widely available at pharmacies in Canada and around the world. Many pharmacists endorse homeopathy and see it as complementary to conventional (real) medicines. Others argue that they’re simply responding to consumer demand. Is homeopathy based on sound science, and should homeopathic products be sold in pharmacies?
Homeopathy was invented in the early 1800s by a German physician, Samuel Hahnemann. At that time, illness was believed to be the result of imbalances in the four bodily “humors”, namely blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile. Typical medical treatments were crude and dangerous, and included bloodletting, blistering, laxatives and emetics, intended to bring balance to the humors. Hahnemann invented an alternative treatment system that he believed was less toxic and more effective at balancing the humors.
There are three key principles for homeopathy, and they’re fundamentally different from our current, science-based understanding of drugs and diseases. Continue reading