As I’ve blogged before, homeopathy is a pre-scientific practice without any basis in reality. Nevertheless it continues to be embraced by non-scientific practitioners like naturopaths and homeopaths.
One of the underlying principles of homeopathy is the “proving”. The proving is the process by which a homeopathic remedy’s “profile” is evaluated. The proving determines which remedy will be appropriate for which symptoms.
At first Hahnemann used material doses for provings, but he later advocated proving with remedies at a 30C dilution, and most modern provings are carried out using ultradilute remedies in which it is highly unlikely that any of the original molecules remain. During the proving process, Hahnemann administered remedies to healthy volunteers, and the resulting symptoms were compiled by observers into a “Drug Picture”. The volunteers were observed for months at a time and made to keep extensive journals detailing all of their symptoms at specific times throughout the day. They were forbidden from consuming coffee, tea, spices, or wine for the duration of the experiment; playing chess was also prohibited because Hahnemann considered it to be “too exciting”, though they were allowed to drink beer and encouraged to exercise in moderation. After the experiments were over, Hahnemann made the volunteers take an oath swearing that what they reported in their journals was the truth, at which time he would interrogate them extensively concerning their symptoms.
Proving is part of the homeopath’s curriculum. For example, the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine offers lectures on proving methodology.
So what substances can be proved? Pretty much anything can be a homeopathic remedy. Raccoon fur is one example. Even the light reflecting off Saturn can be “proven”. As described in this month’s International Homeopathic Internet Journal:
The remedy was made by exposing powdered milk sugar to a powerful telescope in Boston, Massachusetts while it was focused on the planet Saturn during April 2009. The remedy was triturated to a 3C on July 25, 2009 by a group of 7 people in Buffalo, New York. Six of the 7 ground and scraped the milk sugar while one person took notes.
This is the basis of homeopathy, and how remedies are selected. Any wonder why it was discarded by evidence-based health professionals? In the United Kingdom, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee recently admitted that the rules drawn up to regulate homeopathic medication are based on “no scientific evidence”. In light of the facts about homeopathy, many pharmacists (myself included) are puzzled why the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto is delivering a continuing education conference with a homeopathy manufacturer as a sponsor, and homeopathy on the agenda. Homeopathy has no role in pharmacy practice: Its presence in pharmacies is an embarrassment to the profession.