Sunday, February 14, 2010

Director of University of Minnesota

Center for Spirituality and Healing

Writes Approvingly of Homeopathy?

From the Daily:

As a scientist [sic] and nurse, I read with great interest an article that appeared in the medical journal Chest (Frass et al., 2005). This is a peer-reviewed scientific journal read by many physicians and surgeons. It is published by the American College of Chest Surgeons (no slouch of a group). The article describes a study (a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled trial) comparing critically-ill patients on mechanical ventilators in Intensive Care Units who received a substance called potassium dichromate with those who did not.

It was found that the patients who received potassium dichromate had less thick, stringy tracheal secretions and were able to get off the ventilator more quickly and out of the ICU. Clinical outcomes like that are important.

Potassium dichromate is a homeopathic remedy.
Not so fast, Director Kreitzer:

From a letter to the editor of Chest, the journal Director Kreitzer cited:

"It surprises me that CHEST would publish an article (March 2005)1 on the effect of a therapeutic agent when in fact the patients received none of the agent mentioned in the title of the article.

It is not mentioned in the title, but reading the article reveals that the 'potassium dichromate' was a homeopathic C30 dilution. That is a dilution by a factor of 10^60 [ten raised to the sixtieth power], and for those of us who believe in the Avogadro number, that means there would be one molecule in a sphere with a diameter of approximately 1.46 × 10^11 m. That is close to the distance from the earth to the sun. To describe this as “diluted and well shaken,” as the authors do, is the understatement of the century. The fact of the matter is that the medicine contained no medicine."

"The authors will doubtless claim some magic effect of shaking that causes the water to remember for years that it once had some dichromate in it. The memory of water has been studied quite a lot. The estimate of the duration of this memory has been revised2 downwards from a few picoseconds to approximately 50 femtoseconds. That is not a very good shelf life."

"It is one thing to tolerate homeopathy as a harmless 19th century eccentricity for its placebo effect in minor self-limiting conditions like colds. It is quite another to have it recommended for seriously ill patients."

That is downright dangerous.

David Colquhoun, FRS
University College of London

Letter to the editor: Treating Critically Ill Patients With Sugar Pills
David Colquhoun, FRS (Fellow of the Royal Society)
doi: 10.1378/chest.06-2402 CHEST February 2007 vol. 131 no. 2 635-636

Third greatest public research university in the world? In your dreams. Not while this kind of junk science is spoken of with approval by someone in the Academic Health Center. And, please, don't try to drag in hand washing and infection. This is simply intellectually dishonest. The role of microbes in infection is well understood and involves no magic.

Homeopathy is simply absurd as anyone who has taken general chemistry and understands the concept of dilution and molecules should realize. However, as long as NIH has $ for alternative medicine, I guess this kind of stuff will be tolerated in our evidence-based medical school? I wonder who will be the first person to get a Nobel Prize in homeopathy?


Magic, anyone?

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