Monday, 14 September 2015

Homeopathic Musings...

Many moons ago, when my anxiety disorder was at its peak, I had tried almost every anxiolytic and antidepressant known to mankind, each with varying degrees of success. I also tried homeopathic remedies, as my GP was a great believer in their efficacy. Initially, they did help, ever so slightly. Or so I thought...
Let's be blunt about this. Homeopathic "remedies" DO NOT WORK. Not in any meaningful way. They may help alleviate some symptoms, but this is almost always down to the placebo effect. This was certainly the case when I used them, and it was further compounded by the copious amounts of real medication I was prescribed.
To understand why homeopathy is such arse-gravy, we need to look at how it works (or rather, doesn't!). Feel free to jump past this bit, as it is all rather baffling.. If you want to get to the main part of the blog post, jump down to the part below the YouTube video, or click HERE.
Homeopathic products are made from minerals, botanical substances, and several other sources. If the original substance is soluble, one part is diluted with either nine or ninety-nine parts of distilled water and/or alcohol and shaken vigorously (succussed); if insoluble, it is finely ground and pulverized in similar proportions with powdered lactose. One part of the diluted medicine is then diluted even further, and the process is then repeated until the desired concentration is reached. Dilutions of 1 to 10 are designated by the Roman numeral X (1X = 1/10, 3X = 1/1,000, 6X = 1/1,000,000). Similarly, dilutions of 1 to 100 are designated by the Roman numeral C (1C = 1/100, 3C = 1/1,000,000, and so on). Most remedies today range from 6X to 30X, but products of 30C or more are marketed.

A 30X dilution means that the original substance has been diluted 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times. Assuming that a cubic centimetre of water contains 15 drops, this number is greater than the number of drops of water that would fill a container more than 50 times the size of the Earth. Imagine placing a drop of red dye into such a container so that it disperses evenly. Homeopathy's "law of infinitesimals" is the equivalent of saying that any drop of water subsequently removed from that container will possess an essence of redness. Robert L. Park, Ph.D., a highly respected physicist, and Executive Director of The American Physical Society, has noted that since the least amount of a substance in a solution is one molecule, a 30C solution would have to have at least one molecule of the original substance dissolved in a minimum of 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules of water. This would require a container more than 30,000,000,000 times the size of the Earth.

Oscillococcinum, a 200C product "for the relief of colds and flu-like symptoms," involves "dilutions" which are even more ludicrous. The supposed "active ingredient" is prepared by incubating small amounts of a freshly killed duck's liver and heart for 40 days. The resultant solution is then filtered, freeze-dried, rehydrated, repeatedly diluted, and impregnated into sugar granules. If a single molecule of the duck's heart or liver were to survive the dilution, its concentration would be 1 in 100200. This number (which has 400 zeros!), is vastly greater than the estimated number of molecules in the universe (about one googol, (1 followed by 100 zeros). In its February 17, 1997, issue, U.S. News & World Report noted that only one duck per year is needed to manufacture the product, which had total sales of $20 million in 1996. The magazine named the unfortunate bird "the $20-million duck."

As a matter of fact, the laws of chemistry state that there is a limit to the dilution that can be made without losing the original substance altogether. This limit, which is related to Avogadro's number, corresponds to homeopathic potencies of 12C or 24X (1 part in 1024). Hahnemann himself realized that there is virtually no chance that even one molecule of original substance would remain after extreme dilutions. But he believed that the vigorous shaking or pulverizing with each step of dilution leaves behind a "spirit-like" essence; a “memory”; "no longer perceptible to the senses”, which cures by reviving the body's "vital force." Modern proponents assert that even when the last molecule is gone, the "memory" of the substance is retained. This notion is completely and utterly unsubstantiated. The implications of this go further; if true, every substance encountered by a molecule of water could imprint an "essence" that could exert powerful (and unpredictable) medicinal effects when ingested by a person.

Many proponents claim that homeopathic products resemble vaccines because both provide a small stimulus that triggers an immune response. This assertion, again, is erroneous. The amounts of active ingredients in vaccines are much greater and can be measured. Moreover, immunizations produce antibodies whose concentration in the blood can be measured, however highly diluted homeopathic products produce no measurable response. In addition, vaccines as prophylactic medication, not as a treatment.

For a simplified understanding of homeopathy, I would urge you to watch this video, in which the presenter drinks 'homeopathic' bleach. It is also worth noting that there have been multiple protests, during which people have taken homeopathic 'overdoses', with, predictably, no adverse effects; more specifically, with no effects whatsoever!


This brings me to the main reason for this blog post. Several days ago, a gentleman posted a tweet, raising awareness of sepsis. Enter Sandra Hermann-Courtney, a complete fuckwit  an advocate for homeopathy, who posts on Twitter under the pseudonym @BrownBagPantry who thought THIS was an appropriate response to a man grieving for the loss of his son.
2015-09-13 22.24.00
What sort of individual has the temerity to approach a parent suffering from such a devastating loss to peddle their quackery?
Understandably distressed, the father of the little boy asked Ms Ms Hermann-Munster to remove her post. And how, did she respond? She BLOCKED him. A grieving parent, to whom she had caused great offence, and she blocked HIM. It took her a full 48 hours to post a half arsed apology, which, given the block, would have been difficult for the parent to read. You can read it for yourselves..

Hop along to Twitter, just for a moment, and ask Ms Hermann-Courtney to back up her wild claims with some empirical, peer reviewed scientific evidence. And then sit back, for approximately seven seconds, while she blocks you. Yes, she's one of “those”. Worse still, she will then, in true sociopathic behaviour, twist and distort any reasonable challenge or offer of debate as “bullying”.
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So let's talk about bullying, shall we? After her disgraceful tweet to the parent in question, Ms Courtney-Arseface received a veritable backlash from numerous sceptics on Twitter. So, did she back down, and accept her actions were utterly unconscionable? No. Of course not. What she did, however, is almost as shocking and abhorrent as her original tweet.

Yes. You read that right. She actually relishes the backlash.
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This attitude makes me angry beyond words. It is utterly disgraceful that an advocate of homeopathy would, to all intents and purposes, tweet a grieving father with claims that his child may still be alive, had he opted to treat him with pure bullshit an alternative treatment. To compound that with such blatant gloating at her dissenters, beggars belief. I realise that the term "qualified homeopath" is an oxymoron, however, it is worth noting that this cretin has no qualifications in homeopathy, and certainly none in a scientifically recognised medical field. And yet, she feels eminently qualified to push her quackery to anyone who will listen, without exception; not even the grieving. For shame.

Sandra Hermann-Courtney
That she has the audacity to play the victim, and proclaim herself to be a victim of Twitter bullying is abhorrent. Utterly abhorrent. At one point, she even turns the argument around, stating that people opposing her are being “emotionally cruel” to the family of the little boy who tragically lost his life. That she routinely blocks “homeopathy trolls” (people who ask for evidence, or challenge her ludicrous tweets) speaks volumes. She asks, “Why do I block..?”. The answer is simple. She is incapable of providing any evidence to substantiate her claims, and is unable to handle dissenting opinions (or scientific evidence, for that matter).
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I have, on this very evening, spoken (via Twitter) with the father of the little boy. And rest assured, the only distress has been caused by Ms Courtney. He states, and I quote, that the only distress has been caused by Ms Courtney’s tweet, and that “it tarnishes the memory of his son”. That makes me want to cry. Or punch something. NO ONE, absolutely NO ONE has the right to make another human being feel that way. PERIOD. It is also worth pointing out that the tweets made by Ms Courtney led to tweets by the child’s father, which can only be interpreted as suicidal. That someone could inflict that level of pain on another human being genuinely leaves me lost for words.
Let's be very clear here. This woman is DANGEROUS. Her "advice" can KILL people. On her blog you will find the claim that homeopathy "cured cancer". Under the Cancer Act 1939 (Amended 2014), making such a claim is a CRIMINAL OFFENCE. One which I shall take great pleasure in reporting to the relevant authorities. And in the event it is deleted, I have screenshots of her claim. It is worth noting that she clearly hasn't bothered to read the article to which she attributes this ludicrous claim, as it states nothing of the sort, thankfully, although the claims made are equally wild and ridiculous. Similarly, her timeline on Twitter is filled with this kind of nonsense.
Sandra Courtney. AKA Sandra Hermann-Courtney. AKA @BrownBagPantry. Remember that name. Remember that she feels it is appropriate to barge her way into the thoughts of a devastated family, to further her agenda. Remember, her advice could potentially KILL someone.

For the benefit of UK readers, an “RX” drug is a prescribed medication. And this lunatic is stating, quite clearly, that prescribed medication is “not safe”. Without prescribed medication, I, and countless other people, WOULD BE DEAD. I do not say that lightly. Think about your family; your friends, your loved ones. How many are alive today due to the extraordinary scientific progress made in the medical field? I am willing to bet that EVERY reader knows at least ONE person alive today, due entirely to the medical care and treatment they have received. There is a very good reason “alternative medicine” is called “alternative”. In the vast majority of cases, and in 100% of cases pertaining to homeopathy, with the exclusion of the placebo effect, it simply does not work. If it did, it would be simply called “medicine”…
As regular readers may know, I was a nurse. I have watched children die. I’ve held the tiny bodies of lifeless babies in my arms, and cried; it is devastating. Utterly devastating. And I have done so as an “outsider”, with no bond to the children in question. I cannot even BEGIN to comprehend the anguish and grief one must surely experience, when that child is your own. My boys are both adults. Even now, the thought of life without them is unimaginable. Equally unimaginable is the thought of a delusional harridan, desperate to appear relevant, ramming her way into the suffering of a grieving family. I have never had to experience this. I hope I never do…
To address Ms Hermann-Courtney directly; You are welcome to believe any old crap you like. And if it results in your demise, on your own head be it. Despite the fact I find you to be an utterly reprehensible person, I wish you no ill. I hope you never face cancer, depression, or heaven forbid, the loss of a child. If you have an OUNCE of dignity or self respect, you will close your Twitter account (and your mouth!), and fade away into obscurity, where you clearly belong. Because, frankly, you make me feel physically ill. Somehow, I suspect you will continue to peddle your antediluvian views. And will continue to attempt to make money from them with tat like this..

Your "apology" was nothing but a poor attempt at deflection. Blocking anyone with a dissenting opinion (or hard evidence) is the equivalent of a small child sticking their fingers in their ears as they cackle a "la la la". And gloating about the inevitable backlash over your comments.. That is , again, quite frankly, about as puerile as it gets. Show some digninty; some humanity. Offer an an full and UNRESERVED apology, without the pitiful "poor me, I was misconstrued" comments. And then go away. Go away, before you humiliate and embarrass yourself any further.
Sadly, since writing this post, the behaviour of this individual, along with one of her cohorts became immeasurably worse, if that is at all possible. You can find the follow up to this post HERE.
To you, the reader, I would ask you to report the account of this vile woman to Twitter. Hopefully, if her account is terminated, other people can be spared the heartbreak she has caused to this family. Lastly, there is a fundraiser for the aforementioned family, should you feel able or willing to donate. Details are available by clicking the GoFundMe logo.
DISCLAIMER. All images and screenshots are posted under 'Fair Use' which permits use of material without the express permission of the right holder, and are for journalistic and informative purposes only. My sincere thanks, go to Dave, who has kindly allowed me to share this experience, along with screenshots. More importantly, my deepest condolences go to him and his loved ones.
For Layton
Rest in Peace, little fella...


Gold said...

I found it interesting that when this started (the attack on Dave) it was the pro-science crowd that started contributing to the fund. I don't thing there's a single homeopathy supporter on the list there.

MetalOllie said...

@Gold That speaks volumes, doesn't it? These people are utterly shameless, I'm sad to say. Thank you for taking the time to read, and for your comment.

Anonymous said...

This post is just shocking attacking a women because of her beliefs, shame on you, and trying to get people to feel sorry for him and promoting a stupid fake go fund me page for someone who is probably lying to make money is just wrong

MetalOllie said...

@Anonymous The fact you hide behind anonymity speaks volumes. Unfortunately, everything I say is absolutely accurate and for you to suggest the GoFundMe is fraudulent is blatant libel. My initial reaction was to delete your posts, however, since you clearly support homeopathy and the rights of a woman to systematically bully and harass a grieving family, your comments can stay, so people can see what sort of people your community produces. You are a coward, hiding behind anonymity.