Homeopathy: for the pleasure of buttering one more layer

BLOGUE / (On the occasion of the publication of an excellent survey by colleague Philippe Mercure of La Presse, who “pinched” several pharmacists to recommend a homeopathic “remedy” when they are supposed to follow science, I republish here a ticket of 2016 on the same “remedy” To “add another layer”, yes, but also because this ticket was no longer available on the web, following the separation of La Presse’s servers and the Sun, in 2017, and that I had been asked a few times by readers who could not find it anywhere.)

The regulars of this blog know all the admiration I have for homeopathy. No, really: distilling water to dilute wacky ingredients to completely absurd degrees, then pretend that the water has a “memory” and remembers all-alone-as-a-great said crazy ingredients even if there is not a trace left, then pour it on sugar pills (which must also have a “memory”, must we believe) and sell everything to anyone who is gullible enough to pay, while always doing everything to prevent the effectiveness of its products being evaluated as the world is. how to say. it’s all a business plan, gentlemen-ladies, a whole business plan.

And when this kind of plan manages to cross the centuries, moreover the most scientific centuries of human history, well hat down! This is a beautiful, though unintentional, demonstration of the fact that the “post-truth era” may have begun sooner than we thought.

In short, all this to say that as soon as I saw the Pharmachien, alias Olivier Bernard, to Everyone speaks (offline, I admit) this very beautiful investigation of Philippe Mercure, La Presse , I I was seized with a violent desire to add one more layer. No doubt my sadistic side waking up. And as the segment on homeopathy seemed to me to lack a few concrete examples, probably cut in editing, let me tell you a few words about the “oscillococcinum”, alleged break-flu that is one of the biggest sellers (if not the largest) of the homeopathic pharmacopoeia.

It is about extracts of heart and liver of duck diluted with “200C”, one reads on the boxes of the product. In the homeopathic scoring system, this means that the ingredient has been diluted 200 times to the hundredth: for one part duck, we find 100 200 parts of water (or if we prefer: 10 400 , a “1 Followed by 400 zeros). Now, in his interview, Mr. Bernard spoke of “a drop of water in all the oceans of the world” to illustrate the degree of dilution of homeopathic products. In general, the image is well chosen, and it is even reasonably accurate for many of these things. But with regard to the popular oscillococcinum, ladies and gentlemen, that’s a euphemism.

Even if we only took one atom of duck and mixed it with all the oceans of the world, we would not arrive at 10 -400 , and we would not even be close to it. In fact, it is estimated that there are around 10 80 atoms throughout the observable Universe. Yes yes, well read: we take all the stars, all the planets and all the other objects contained in the Universe, we count each of their atoms, and we arrive at about 10 80 . The “dilution” of the oscillococcinum essentially amounts to multiplying the Universe by 10 320 (just that) and adding a single atom of duck. Then, it seems important to brew, homeopaths call it “energize” the mixture.

It is obvious, of course, that the said “mixture” sold in pharmacies is (apart from an extraordinary stroke of luck from the manufacturer) totally free of any trace of duck. But it would be greatly overestimate the scientific and factual basis of homeopathy to believe that this is the worst in all this history. I swear.

“Oscillococci” is the name that a French physician and homeopath early twentieth th century, Joseph Roy, gave a bacterium that was discovered in patients with the infamous Spanish flu at the end of the First World War. The creature, described Roy, seemed to squirm or “swing”, hence his name. Since the theoretical basis of homeopathy is that we can treat the symptoms of a disease by having the patient ingest minute amounts of toxins that cause the same symptoms (which is, in itself, completely abrasive, but let’s move on) , Joseph Roy saw an interesting vein for the flu. And since this same Joseph Roy has also managed to isolate this oscillococci in duck tissues, we can easily understand the

But here, there is a little problem here. No, it is not the “mode of action” without tail or head that claims to have homeopathy. No, it is not the fact that there is no more duck in the preparation. No. It is rather than Joseph Roy, nobody else has never observed oscillococci. Per. His. Born. Never. Despite the ultra-powerful microscopes available today and the armies of microbiologists who describe hundreds of new bacterial strains each year, no one has ever seen this famous bacterium.

It is almost as if it grows only in the fur of Yeti, the saliva of the fox trout or the intestinal flora of Loch Ness reptiles.

You still have to do it, huh? For reasons that do not stand up, a bacterium that never existed has been diluted to nothingness. I think I’ll never come back, that one.

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