Monday, February 14, 2011

Homeopathy in Singapore

Thanks to one of my dear and respected friends, I came across this campaign, 10:23. It speaks up against homeopathy, and strives to raise awareness and spread the message that there is, in fact, 'nothing in it'. When I first heard about homeopathy, I thought, "What's the harm? Besides, Singaporeans won't get caught up in this silly beliefs anyway." A little Googling proved me dead wrong. Homeopathy can be harmful, and its popularity is actually rising in Singapore today.

But I'm jumping the gun here. Let's first give a quick introduction into homeopathy, from a purely unbiased view. Taken from the, no less:
Homeopathy - "A system of complementary medicine in which ailments are treated by minute doses of natural substances that in larger amounts would produce symptoms of the ailment. Often contrasted with allopathy"

Can homeopathy really be called medicine?
Most people who have heard of homeopathy believe it's "all-natural" or "herbal medicine", taken in a dilute form, with no harmful side effects. They say "minute doses" and "dilute form", but many people don't know how diluted it is. The normal prescription is normally one part of the remedy to around 1,000,000,000,000 parts of water. In other words, it's essentially taking a drop of your cough syrup, dousing it in 1,000,000,000,000 parts of water, dripping it on chunks of sugar and then calling that medicine.

Uh.. Does anyone else seem to think that something is very wrong with this particular definition of medicine? No wonder it's "all natural", with "no harmful side effects"! Yet, there are still thousands of people out there willing to lay claim to the 'miracles' generated by this 'wonderful medicine'. Why?

There's evidence that homeopathy works!
In reality, yes, homeopathy "works". Or at least, there is evidence that shows people recovering after receiving homeopathic 'treatment'. In reality, though, this is due to the placebo effect. Our mind is a powerful tool, and the simple belief that something works can, in fact, produce a perceived or actual improvement on the condition of a person. In simple terms, it's like scamming or deluding a person into believing that . And it works. When the condition of the patient is largely something that can be overcome through psychological treatment.

Remember the commonly used phrase, "laughter is the best medicine"? A person who believes that he/she is going to die tends to stop taking care of themselves. They become depressed, suicidal, don't eat/sleep/function well, and eventually their condition (both physical and psychological) deteriorates. And they die. Conversely, a positive outlook makes you fight to live and to take better care of your body, increasing your recovery process by manifold.

They call it 'treatment'. I call it self delusion.

...and those sugar pills are !#@%$#@! expensive!
In the UK, homeopathic pills are being sold at a cost of around £5.95 for less than 20g of sugar pills. Without any active ingredient, that ultimately amounts to a lot of money for not a lot of sugar. (Source - 10:23 Campaign Website) I haven't found out the cost of these sugar pills in Singapore, yet, but I did find out that Singapore does have a manufacturer and exporter of homeopathic 'remedies'. *shudders*

But it works, right? So since homeopathy can psychologically aid your recovery and has 'no harmful side effects', why oppose it? (Besides, people have lots of money to throw away anyway!)
Homeopathy is often promoted as "safer, highly effective medicine". (When it's not effective, it's because you haven't found the exact remedy to your illness yet.) And true enough, it's almost impossible to overdose from homeopathy. I say almost, because if you swallow a million pills in one shot, you'll probably get a massive sugar high and end up with diabetes anyway. But back to the point. On the basic level, homeopathy can be helpful, and can help to treat patients with minor ailments and psychological issues. Unfortunately, homeopathy as we know it today is largely abused, and is just another profit-making scam to dig out all the cash you've stored in your bank. But when people believe in homeopathy as the cure-all for all ailments, to the extent of forgoing proper treatment - That's where the harm kicks in. When you start refusing proper treatment and start taking sugar pills thinking that it will remove that tumor in your brain or make you immune from AIDS, you are losing precious time that could have been put towards giving your patient proper, effective treatment. You're deluding yourself into thinking that you are protected from diseases - by taking sugar tablets.

The worst part is, these pills are actually prescribed by doctors as medicine! Normal medicine has to undergo rigorous testing to ensure its legitimacy. Homeopathic 'drugs', on the other hand, are issued almost carelessly. It diminishes the real value of legitimate doctors and proper medicine, deluding the lay person into thinking that it's 'safe and alright to self-medicate'.

How can this be of no harm??

(Read more about Why Homeopathy Harms here)

*** What about Singapore? ***
"The UK National Health Service spends an estimated £4million every year on homeopathy..."
Let's not even go there. As of now, Singapore's Government actually recognizes homeopathy as an alternative medical practice. Compared to many other countries, however, Singapore is thankfully strict on legitimizing alternative forms of medical treatment. Let's keep it that way. Let's raise awareness about homeopathy so that we can prevent the dilution of Singapore's medical practice and NOT go down this path of legitimizing frequent self delusion.

Anyone up for organizing/participating in a Singapore 10:23 Challenge? Leave a comment! :)
Related Posts with Thumbnails