The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Dec. 18 that it plans to crack down on dangerous or dishonestly advertised homeopathic products — a class of products that sellers claim treat diseases by delivering extremely diluted traces of the substances that cause those diseases in the first place. If certain homeopathic remedies become more difficult to access due to the crackdown, what will homeopathy users miss out on?
Homeopathy dates to the 1700s, according to a statement from the FDA, and relies on the idea of “like cures like” — that symptom-causing chemicals can, at low enough doses when mixed with water, treat the symptoms that those substances cause. In other words, a chemical that causes vomiting would be given at a very diluted concentration to treat vomiting. And the more diluted the substance, the more potent the beneficial effects, the thinking goes.
But is there any real science behind this idea?
The British Homeopathic Association (BHA)’s website acknowledges that homeopathic remedies might seem “implausible for many people,” because “the medicines are often — though by no means always — diluted to the point where there may be no molecules of original substance left.”
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