Category Archives: Homeopathy

Homeopathy and Rabid Dogs

By Dr David Laing Dawson

I grew up in Victoria, B.C. It was then a sleepy mostly white collar town, home to the B.C. Legislative Buildings, the Empress Hotel, a strong English heritage, and excellent educational institutions.

It is now 2018, and I read that a Victoria Homeopath/Naturopath, one Anke Zimmermann has prescribed for a child some derivative of the saliva from a rabid dog. This hit the news because of the “saliva from a Rabid Dog” part, although, like all homeopathic “remedies” it is unlikely to have anything in it that is either harmful or helpful. And like many homeopathic remedies it is based on some cockamamie theory of memory. That is that water that once had a particular substance in it, but no longer does, retains a “memory” of that substance. (Pity the tub of water that was once my bath. Come to think of it, given that those water molecules have existed for eons, sometimes as vapour, sometimes as liquid, sometimes as ice, they could have an encyclopaedia of memories). The theory continues that the memory that resides in that small vial of water, when ingested by a sufferer would….. but then I get lost with the impossibility of their reasoning.

How can this be happening in 2018?

But I visited a Family Health Team recently. The waiting area was simple and clean. Nothing was promised, but a few posters and a couple of screens promoted some very basic ideas about keeping healthy. My name was called and I met the young doctor who led me through the rabbitwarren corridor to a tiny office. He said to just call him Michael. The minuscule examining room was filled with a partial desk with keyboard and computer screen, a stool for him and a stool for me and one examining table covered with white paper. The walls were bare save for the blood pressure and eye, ear instruments. A little cupboard held a few medical tools such as the rubber headed reflex hammer.

There was NO magic to be found. No mystery, no history, no spooky artifacts. No body diagrams, graphics of the actual physiology of the human body, no skeletons in the corner. The doc wasn’t even wearing a lab coat.

No magic. Just evidence based medicine. All scientific, except for the clear evidence that we all crave magic, hope, reassurance, belief.

2018. My patient tells me his homeopath put him on lithium. I am about to say, “What?” with incredulity, when I remember that this means he was prescribed water that remembered it once contained lithium or a tablet that contains less lithium than your average radish.

And another tells me his acupuncturist stuck needles in his right knee to help the osteoarthritis in his left knee. “I guess it’s all connected,” he says.

My impression is that more people are turning to various kinds of fraudulent health care, to ideas formulated three hundred and even 1300 years ago than did in the years I grew up in Victoria. And again more than I remember in 1980 or 1990.

So either our educational systems have failed to produce a population that understands, at least in a rudimentary sense, why we can now prevent measles, treat cancer and survive AIDS, or doctors of real medicine have underestimated our human need for magic, false hope, easy solutions.

And now Michael will send me for Xrays and remind me that some regular back and leg exercise, some weight loss, and taking some ibuprophen now and then is the best treatment for the osteoarthritis in my knees, short of titanium replacements.

Both my knees are in bad shape. I wonder if I could have the acupuncturist stick needles in my left knee to help my right knee and vice versa, or maybe if I bathed in water that remembers the knees of a young athlete….Maybe if I had saved my bathwater from 1960….But would I have to drink it for the full effect?

Harmless Homeopathy?

David Laing DawsonBy Dr David Laing Dawson

It is not uncommon for some of my patients to tell me they have seen a homeopath or a naturopath. Sometimes they tell me this a little sheepishly; sometimes they go to homeopaths with the same attitude I have when I’ve been talked into letting someone read my tealeaves. I certainly don’t believe any of it for a second but when my aunt peers intently at the dregs at the bottom of my cup and says that, “soon a little money will be coming your way” I can’t help but feel a twinge of pleasure. Or when someone points out that the life-line on my palm predicts a long and prosperous life. Very nice.

Occasionally when a patient tells me of the homeopathic advice she has been given for her child, I try to assert a little twentieth century knowledge into the discourse, but often I pass. One person told me she had been prescribed lithium by her homeopath, because of an obvious deficiency in this substance, determined by – who knows – the colour of her eyes? I was about to let loose a rant about this when I paused to consider two probabilities:

1. The substance that was prescribed for this woman had a 50% chance of having no lithium in it at all, and,

2. A 50% chance that it had no more lithium than a bowl of vichyssoise. In the end I made no comment on the subject.

Another took her three hyperactive boys to a special homeopathic clinic, where, apparently, they took blood samples and examined them under a microscope. Then the mother was told, and she related this to me, that all three of her children had parasites in their blood causing their ADHD.

An outraged rant about this formed in the back of my head, this ridiculous notion, this proclamation or diagnosis that, if actually true, would constitute a life-threatening emergency. I quelled my outrage in favour of asking what the homeopath had prescribed for her boys. Apparently what he had recommended, for the expunging of these parasites, was a healthy diet, exercise, and sufficient sleep. Again I smiled and let it pass.

But I watched CBC’s marketplace Friday night, and I have several grandchildren. The opening images of the documentary are quite striking: a group of very healthy children playing on Granville Island in Vancouver, and then very healthy mothers with very healthy robust babies. The mothers were not wearing black as they would be if they were mourning the deaths of two out their five children. The children could see and hear and run on two legs and catch with two hands. None of them had suffered through an epidemic of polio, measles, whooping cough, diphtheria, cholera, meningitis, or the bubonic plague. None of them. These diseases were not even part of their consciousness. I tried to imagine the same group of children and mothers in a park during the polio years of the 1950’s, and then the early 1900’s, and again perhaps on the commons of a village in the early 1800’s. The early 1900’s would be the time an uncle-to-be of mine died from diphtheria, the 1950’s when a classmate of mine disappeared from school and into an iron lung at the hospital.

They had homeopathic remedies in those days too, a hundred and two hundred years ago, and they didn’t work then and they don’t work now. The difference in those images, the healthy children and healthy mothers today, vs. the images from a century ago, has been brought to us by medicine and public health: clean water, good nutrition, good prenatal care, antibiotics, and vaccination.

These homeopaths are not just endangering the lives of the children they see as clients, but my grandchildren as well. I actually think a class action lawsuit is in order.