Sunday 7 September 2014

DocBastard's Fantastical Homeopathy Journey, Part 1

Update: I edited this today to add some links, and Blogspot decided to repost it as a new post. Sorry for any confusion. 

After my recent post about the common cold and homeopathy, I decided to research a bit further and delve deeper into the so-called science of homeopathy.  What I found made me want to cry, and I'm pretty sure that if my science-loving brain had legs it would have jumped out of my skull.  What I thought was simply water memory and a ridiculous degree of dilution had only barely scratched the surface of pseudoscience and magical thinking.  It turns out that believers in homeopathy have an entire series of hypotheses of how homeopathy supposedly cures people of everything from the common cold to cancer to anthrax and ebola, and each theory is more ridiculous than the last:
  • vital forces
  • quantum physics
  • nanoparticles
  • vibrational remedies
  • energy medicine (remedy) to cure an energetic health problem that has a similar vibration
  • coherent domains
  • alignment of water molecules
  • miasms (the weaknesses in our bodies that come from the diseases of our ancestors)
Articles written by homeopaths truly read like fantasy novels.  The fact that anyone believes in this stuff enough to practice it is ridiculous enough.  But the fact that there are others who buy into it (and then actually buy it) is downright flabbergasting.  I can't decide if these people A) don't understand what homeopathy really is, B) don't trust modern medicine, C) feel some overwhelming need to believe in something unearthly and magical, or D) don't understand physiology, anatomy, biology, chemistry, and physics.

My best guess is it's some combination of all four.

Regardless, having engaged in several conversations regarding homeopathy, and having been blocked by Twitter's three most vocal and vociferous (that's right, vociferous . . . look it up) homeopathy champions (whose names I won't reveal), I kept noticing the same stupid (and fallacious) arguments in favour of homeopathy popping up -
As ridiculously puerile as that last one is, I still tried to counter with logic: I've never tried crystal meth, yet I somehow still know it's bad.  When the homeopathy zealots countered that perfectly reasonable rationale with the same stupid refrain over and over again, I decided to say "To hell with it!" and go with the old standby - If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

That's right - I decided to try homeopathy, just to prove a point.

I've been dealing with low back pain for at least 5 years.  I've seen several doctors of various specialties (internist, othopaedic surgeon, physical medicine doctor), and I had an MRI of my lumbar spine which was, of course, completely 100% normal.  There is nothing anatomically wrong with my back, but it still feels like a family of fire ants is battling a clan of scorpions down there all day, every day.  I have tried several classes of medicines with varying levels of success (though I have stringently avoided narcotics), and I've found that ibuprofen far and away works best.

According to homeopathy "experts" their remedies are more efficacious than these supposedly  toxic chemicals with all their fancy names and scary side effects, so I'm giving homeopathy a fair shot, and I'm documenting my entire homeopathy experience right here for the world (ie the few people who read this stupid blog) to see.  

Before I started my fantastical journey I set out a few ground rules: 1) I will visit a fully-trained homeopath, not some fly-by-night charlatan (though who could really tell the difference? . . . I kid, I kid.  Not really.), 2) I will NOT inform my homeopath that I am a sceptic, 3) I will otherwise be entirely truthful with the homeopath, 4) I will take my remedy exactly as prescribed, 5) I will not taint the experiment by using actual medicine.  Oops . . . that sure sounded like bias.  Well tough shit.  It is bias.

I chose not to reveal my scepticism because I didn't want my underlying disbelief in the entirety of homeopathy to cause any bias for my new practitioner.  So without further ado, here is my trek through the wild, wacky, and wonderful world of homeopathy.

Day 1
I arrived 20 minutes early (as requested) for my scheduled appointment with Dr. Homeopath (not her real name).  As I walked in the door I was greeted with soft music that I'm quite sure was meant to be soothing but which I found gratingly repetitive and made me want to jab my ears with a pen within 15 seconds.  The receptionist smiled warmly as she gave me a sheaf of paperwork to fill out.  There was absolutely nothing unusual at first: the top page could have been found at any doctor's office, asking my demographics, my entire medical history, etc.  I got through this page quickly since I'm a fairly healthy guy and I don't take any prescription medicine.  No allergies to medicines, only one prior surgery (appendectomy).  No serious family history.  I'm up-to-date on all my vaccinations (including rabies and heart worms, I think).  The reason for my visit and any prior treatments.  All the usual stuff.

And then it started to get a bit . . . strange.  The first question on page 2 asked if I could trace my symptoms back to any incident, including accidents, injuries, griefs, or "mental upset".  Mental upset?  It then asked about any serious shock, disappointments, or frights.  Well, the movie "Poltergeist" scared the shit out of me when I was a kid.  Should I include that?  And I was really sad when I lost the grade 4 science fair.  Does that count?  It then asked which weather pattern I am more troubled by - cloudy or clear.  Um . . . cloudy I guess?  I was then asked if I sleep with blankets, partially covered, with a fan on, with the window open, with arms/legs outside the blankets, or nude.  Nude, of course.  I wondered how this impacted any kind of patient care in the slightest, but I diligently (and honestly) pressed on.

Then just after asking how often I weep (not cry, weep) and how often I experience clairvoyance (wh . . . what??), it traversed the astral plane directly from "a bit strange" to "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU ASKING ME??".  The paper listed about 100 adjectives and asked me to circle each and every one that described me:   


I wondered why the hell the fact that I consider myself headstrong and considerate should have anything to do with why my back hurts, but I dutifully circled about a dozen of them (no, I did NOT circle "cute" or "bouncy").  I then signed "DocBastard (not his real name)" at the end and wondered what the fuck I had gotten myself into.  I didn't have long to wonder, because only a few minutes later I was called back.  

That is the end of part one.  If I make this any longer, no one will be able to focus long enough to get through all this crap.  Part two will be coming soon.  Stay tuned, folks.  You think the shit is deep now?  Just you wait.

Update: Part II can be found here, and Part III can be found here.


  1. Damn, well don't give away the whole story Doc! Let us live in a little bit of suspense ;)

  2. Omg should not have clocked that spoiler I did not see that coming

  3. Doc' - I have to admire your dedication. Most of us just look at this type of madness and think "no way am I wasting my time and money on that lunacy" but not you: you are prepared to go the extra mile and actually give it a fair trial. My hat is well and truly tipped for that one.

    Spoiler: At a dilution of less than one part in the observable universe, how could it bloody work!

  4. A bit of advice, if it says your doctor doesn't want you to know about this, run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. Jump a train if you can. If your back is 100% normal but hurts, try strengthening your core muscles. They support your back.

  5. I know the trick I use is 90% (probably 100%) placebo effect, but I've found sitting on a subwoofer and watching movies works for me. Whether it's the magnetic fields or the vibration (probably the vibration, mostly), my back tends to feel a little better afterward.

    I know with me, it tends to be I sleep in the wrong positions and I put kinks in my back.

  6. I'm on pins and needles wondering if this will cure his back pain.

  7. What do you think of osteopaths? In the practice I go to, they are on the same level as MD's? Just more in tune with the natural things.

  8. I'm on the edge of my seat, Doc! Please don't make us wait too long for the rest of the story! I won't be able to cope which may lead to weeping...and, well, if I start weeping then my back will hurt and I'll only feel better when I lay under a full moon with jasper and lemon grass when all the planets are aligned...yeah.

  9. HI Doc - You are Hilarious !!!!! I love reading your Blog. I am still laughing and its not fair to keep us waiting. I reside in California. In the mid 70's my parents and I would travel WAY TOO FAR ( About an hour or two ) I can't remember I was only 10 years old. My Parents would see this "DOCTOR" older man who practiced Homeopathic remedies, Vitamins etc. His far away enchanted office was literally in the middle of NOWHERE !! It reminded me of this HUGE log cabin. His office was packed with patients. His method ????? I can't remember the exact medical device or contraption he would use - He actually would study your PUPILS and give his diagnosis. His visits were not CHEAP!!!!!

  10. My mom who was a retired CRNA was asked by friends to do laetrile injections for a cancer patient who was a friend. They'd get it in Mexico and bring it up to LA and she'd do it, though she thought it was not going to do much more than sterile saline. By the time the patient came to her senses, she was stage IV lung cancer and didn't have time to do do chemo which might have saved her earlier.

  11. Reader Mary (not her real name) tried commenting, but it backfired. Here is her comment:

    "I just read your current story on your blog.

    And I wanted to comment, but can´t, because I will not log in for it in my google account ;)

    I also tried homeopathy once, just to make all the people quiet, who always say you should at least try and it works, even when there should be more medicine in the tap water (yeah, I also read about it beforehand). I had big red and hurting tonsils and no time to go to a real doctor... What should I say? It didn´t work and I had to go to a doctor... I went a week later and had to take antibiotics (oh, and the nice women, who gave me the homeopatic garbage said, it is not only working with my tonsils, but also when I´m getting sunburned etc... everything with "red" symptoms... nice, right?)

    just wanted to share my short interaction with homeopatics ;)

    a continuous reader of docbastards blog ;)"

  12. I remember my mom giving me that oscillococinum junk for a head cold when I was maybe 12 or 13. Only thing I remember from the one dose was that it tasted slightly like ice cream jimmies (sprinkles, sugar confetti, what ever its called around the world) lol.

  13. I sometimes get lower back pain as well doc, though mine is more lower back muscles. Stretching them out helps a ton! Would that help you at all?

    1. It probably would. I'm frankly too damned lazy to exercise and can't be arsed to get up and do it.

      That said, I've tried back stretches several different times in the past, and it was minimally helpful for a few days. Then I turned the wrong way, tweaked something in my back, and landed right back on square one.

  14. so tell me, do you think if I go out to my truck every morning and tap my forehead lightly against the windshield, then in about a year I will be able to safely drive without a seatbelt? according to homeopathic theory, that should work.

  15. Is it my cosmic memory or did Doc Bastard post this before?

    1. yes, it is a rerun - hopefully this means the call gods are being nice and not filling his time with B.S. stuff.

    2. It isn't a rerun. Blogspot decided to change the date when I updated the post yesterday.

    3. so, a bug. guess it was too much to hope the call gods were giving you a break.


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