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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Alternative Medicine-homeopathy allowed in ACCP's journal, Chest

I was thumbing through a older issue of the journal, Chest and by looking at the summary and title of a particular article nothing much seemed unusual or really very interesting. However, the last paragraph of the discussion section gave me a very different view .

The title was "Influence of Potassium Dichomate on Tracheal secretions in Critically Ill Patients". Nothing out of the ordinary there. But go down to the affiliation of the authors and we see that three are from a School of Homeopathy in Austria. (Chest/127/3/March 2005, p. 936).
Here is a link to the article.

Then, in the material and methods section we are told that:

"we used a preparation of C30,which is equivalent to a potentiation of 30 dilutions in which each of the 30 dilutions steps is foll0wed by subsequent succussions.Therefore the [well known toxic effects of chromium if undiluted] were eliminated". Certainly at that dilution (a 30C dilution is dilution by a factor of 100 to the 30th power), the test liquid is very unlikely to have any K dichomate in the liquid at all.It is just water. Apparently, in the homeopathy belief system one can make a solution so dilute as to make it non toxic but somehow allow it to retain-or gain-some therapeutic effect.

But the discussion section is best of all. It ends with the following:

While the mechanism of potentized ( diluted and vigorously shaken )drugs remains subject to research...the effect may be best explained by cybernetics,which means that the information of the homeopathic drugs act consensually on the regulator.Thereby, the body regains its original property to regulate physical parameters

This is not written in the language of science but in the language of woo. It is hard to believe that the editors of the journal of the American College of Chest Physicians,none of whom claim to be homeopathic practitioners,would publish such an article.The final paragraph does not even make sense to a non-homeopathic believer and no effort is made to even try and explain what the heck they are taking about when they refer to a drug acting consensually on the regulator or regaining one's original property.

The Journal does a disservice to its readers when it presents a homeopathic jargon filled discussion as if a scientific discussion is taking place. There was no editorial explaining the reasoning behind publishing such an article.One of the characteristics of science is its coherence.The sciences of pharmacology,physiology and toxicology build upon and are consistent with the laws of chemistry and physics.To talk about diluting a substance to the point where it is undetectable and then explaining how it works to heal flies in the face of the principles of those disciplines.It is too late to write a letter to the editor but I hope someone did.


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Anonymous said...

This says a lot about peer review. Do you think the reviewers even read the paper other than the abstract? I think the data is fine for a small trial but that last paragraph is just meaningless. What is this mystery regulator? What is this information that acts consensually? I assume that is the water memory part. It's one thing to present the data but to explain it with unsubstantiated guesses that fit a preconceived idea is not scientific.

lucky said...

It is just water. Apparently, in the homeopathy belief system one can make a solution so dilute as to make it non toxic but somehow allow it to retain-or gain-some therapeutic effect.

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