How Can A Medicine Contain No Medicine?

How Can A Medicine Contain No Medicine?

Walk into your local drugstore, and you're sure to find a shelf devoted to homeopathic and natural remedies. Unfortunately, this helps propel the common misconception that "homeopathic" just means "natural." In fact, homeopathy is a centuries-old medical practice that's based on two unconventional theories: "like cures like," or the idea that a substance that causes one symptom in healthy people can cure those symptoms in sick people, and the "law of minimum dose," or the notion that the lower the dose of a medication, the greater its effectiveness. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, homeopathy's key principles break the laws of physics and chemistry, and most studies have found little evidence to support the practice's effectiveness. Though many proponents of homeopathy claim it works, any "cures" are most likely a result of the placebo effect, or the phenomenon that causes people who think they're taking medicine to feel better, even when the medicine is fake.

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Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    Homeopathy was invented by the German physician Samuel Hahnemann in the late 18th century, and is based on his "law of similars": if a large dose of something can produce certain symptoms, then a small dose of something can make the body fight those symptoms. (0:23)

  • 2

    Multiple studies show that homeopathy doesn't work. The active ingredients in a homeopathic remedy are diluted so much that they have no medical efficacy -- they are essentially water. (1:26)

  • 3

    People who take a placebo and believe they're taking a genuine drug can sometimes show improvements simply because they believe they're taking a real medicine. (2:42)

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Medicine

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