Homeopathy – Don’t Be Fooled!

Homeopathy … is even more popular in Homeopathic Medicine SamplesEurope than in the United States. In Europe, it is a $1.4 billion a year market, according to Business Week. It is popular with the British Royal family and is currently supported by the NHS [National Health Service].
There are a lot of misconceptions about what homeopathy is. Many people think that homeopathy means herbal medicine or natural medicine, but this is not true. Homeopathy, in fact, is a 200-year-old philosophy-based system. It’s based on the notion of vitalism, the idea that living creatures have an essence or vital force that animates them. Homeopathy survives today due to cultural inertia and despite a complete lack of scientific evidence.
Homeopathy was developed by Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann (1755–1843), a German medical doctor. In the 1790s, Hahnemann came up with several laws that govern the actions of homeopathic remedies. The first law of homeopathy is called the law of similars. He claimed to discover this principle when he noted that the cinchona bark, which is used to treat malaria, caused him to have symptoms very similar to those of malaria. He therefore generalized this one observation to this law, which became one of the cornerstones of homeopathy.
Hahnemann’s next law is the law of infinitesimals. He believed that substances transferred their essence to water in which they were diluted. The greater the dilution, the greater this transference of essence was. The law of the individual remedy states that each person’s totality of symptoms has a single underlying cause. Therefore, homeopathic remedies are intended to treat all of those symptoms at once with a single remedy. Homeopathic remedies also include the notion of potentiation. Between each dilution, homeopathic remedies are potentiated by succussing them. That means shaking them in a certain way; this is more of a ritual than science or chemistry.
What does the clinical evidence show? There have actually been hundreds of clinical studies of homeopathic remedies. After reviewing all of the evidence for homeopathy, the scientific community has come to the conclusion that there is no evidence to support homeopathy for any indication. Also, homeopathic remedies are no different than placebos.
There are many homeopathic products on the market, however. They are marketed because of loose regulations without evidence for either safety or effectiveness. Homeopathic remedies are generally safe, because they’re usually just water. There is no active ingredient, so they don’t really have the potential to cause direct harm. But this is not universally true of homeopathic remedies. Some homeopathic products cheat the system by including measurable levels of active ingredients but using the homeopathic label to skirt regulations.
One example is Zicam. This is a product that was marketed as homeopathic. Some preparations of it have measurable and meaningful amounts of zinc oxide, which is shown to treat and reduce the symptoms of a cold. However, zinc oxide is also known to cause anosmia, a sometimes permanent loss of the ability to smell. Several people who were using Zicam had permanent anosmia as a side effect. That caused regulatory agencies to take a second look at it and to temporarily suspend it from the market.
One justification for the ultra-dilutions of homeopathic remedies that’s often given is the analogy to vaccines or allergy shots. This is a myth and not an apt analogy. A vaccine contains a measurable, if small, amount of antigen meant to stimulate the immune system.

Allergy shots give a small amount of a substance to which A sick personone is allergic in order to provoke the immune system to make blocking antibodies. They make antibodies to the substance to help prevent an allergic reaction. In order for allergy shots to work, you have to give a small dose and then build it up to increasingly larger doses. Eventually, you’re giving a fairly significant dose in order to provoke a sufficient immune response. Therefore, there is no analogy whatsoever to a preparation that has no measurable amount of anything in it.
Testimonials and anecdotes tend to support what people want to believe. There are also placebo effects, which can make anything seem to work. There’s also often a failure to recognize the harm that could be done with these types of interventions. Homeopathy mostly is a completely inactive substance; it’s just water without any active ingredient. Some people will say if it does nothing, how could it possibly do any harm? The harm often comes in preventing effective treatment. There are many cases of harm occurring to people relying upon homeopathic remedies who could have easily been treated with modern medicine.
There’s a broader intellectual conflict that’s represented by homeopathy. It’s between science-based medicine – what we recognize today as the modern scientific approach to biology, healing, and disease – and what we would now think of as magical thinking. Over the last 200 years, the scientific approach has clearly won out. It has produced all of modern medicine, whereas homeopathy is stuck in the 200-year-old ideas of its founder. Completely inert treatment may have actually been an advantage to what was passing for standard medicine 200 years ago. But today, science-based medicine has brought us a host of effective treatments.

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Aachoo!!!….Bless You

SneezeThe common cold is, well, common. We all get it, we want to prevent it, and we want to shorten its duration. Therefore, it’s no surprise that myths about the common cold are just as common as the cold itself.
Probably the biggest myth is that cold weather causes the cold: You can’t get a cold from being exposed to cold weather or being wet or being out in the rain. You need to get exposed to a cold virus in order to catch the cold. However, there’s a separate question of whether being cold or wet makes you more susceptible to catching the virus if you are exposed to it. Largely speaking, the evidence for that is negative. But it’s still slightly controversial.
It is generally recognized that the cold is more common in the winter. This is probably mostly due to the fact that in the winter months, kids are back at school. In essence, kids and their less than ideal hygiene, make schools perfect breeding grounds for cold viruses. The viruses then spread to the rest of the population through multiple pathways.

Supplements

What about vitamin C? You may have heard for years that taking vitamin C can either treat or prevent the common cold. But it’s been researched for decades now and not shown much impact. Does it prevent you from catching the cold? The answer is very clearly a no. What about decreasing the severity of the cold once you catch it? There, the answer is no as well. What about reducing the duration of the cold with vitamin C? Here the evidence is not as conclusively negative. It still is trending negative, but there is some weak evidence for a slight decrease in the duration of a cold by about a half a day – if you took vitamin C at the very beginning of the cold or were already taking it before you got the cold.
Herbal remedies have become popular for the common cold. A few years ago, Echinacea was the most common herbal remedy. But extensive clinical research in people with Echinacea clearly shows no benefit for either prevention or reduction of severity. What about other types of supplements – vitamins and minerals to help boost your immune system? It turns out that there’s really no theoretical basis for the notion that taking a short-term supplement will improve or increase your immune activity and make it more robust or better able to fight off a cold. There is no evidence to show that taking any other multivitamin or supplements reduces either the risk of developing a cold or its severity or duration.

PreventionHandCleaning

Let’s talk a bit about preventing the common cold. The most effective measure for preventing a cold is to avoid getting exposed to the virus in the first place. Keep your hands hygienically clean with the use of sanitizers which you can carry on you wherever you go. That will clear the viruses or bacteria off your skin before you have a chance to infect yourself with them. You should also avoid exposure to people known to be having the flu symptoms, especially in the first 3 days of their illness when they have a fever. Refrain from making facial contact with your hands when you are sick or when you are around other people who are displaying similar symptoms. You also may avoid crowds when you are feeling under the weather. That way, you’ll do everyone a favor by not spreading the virus around. When you do have to sneeze or cough, do it into your elbow or a paper towel that can be disposed off.                                                                                                                                           Dry air can also dry out the nasal mucosa making it more vulnerable to viruses. Using a humidifier – if the air in your environment or in your home is too dry – may actually reduce your risk of getting a cold in addition to making you more comfortable. Do not smoke: A history of smoking may increase the duration of a cold by an average of 3 days.
Sleep deprivation generally runs down the body and makes you more susceptible to infections, including the cold. Finally, recent evidence suggests vitamin D may be helpful in preventing the cold.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of the common cold? Most of the symptoms of the cold are actually not caused by the virus itself; they are caused by your immune system fighting off the infection. Should you treat the symptoms of a cold, or by doing so, are you suppressing your immune system’s attempt to fight it off? If you reasonably treat your symptoms, your body can still fight off the infection without any problem. Are there any over-the-counter medications you should keep on hand for when you get a cold? Certainly, you can have acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which means aspirin, ibuprofen, or paracetamol. They will treat a fever, if you’ve got one. They are also analgesics, so they can reduce sinus pain, general discomfort, or the pain of a sore throat. What about cough suppressants? Interestingly, a lot of common products will mix together a cough suppressant and an expectorant. That makes no sense when you think about it. If you are having a somewhat productive cough and you want to get the phlegm up, then take an expectorant. But over-the-counter cough suppressants are really not very effective in suppressing a cough.
You can also adjust your behavior in order to reduce the symptoms of a cold. Drinking a lot of fluids will help prevent dehydration, including that of the mucous membranes. If you can eat, that will make you feel better as well. A good night’s rest is also important in fighting off the infection, but there’s no reason to stay bedridden. Finally, avoid smoking or exposure to smoke, as that can irritate and dry the membranes and extend the duration of symptoms in a cold.

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