Speak Your Mind

Speak Your Mind: Testing Homeopathy

For about five years, I’ve been afflicted by depression. I’ve finally decided recently to look into medication, since therapy has been unsuccessful thus far. I chose to speak to my grandmother about this issue, since I’m poor and I thought she’d be interested in helping. She was, just not in the ways that I had hoped for.

She gave me an essential oil called “Elevation: Joyful Blend,” which she directed me to smell every day, or possibly make a scented necklace to wear around. Now, I understand that certain scents are supposed to have certain effects on the body–like lavender having a calming effect. However, she was insinuating that smelling a mixture of oils would have a lasting  effect on my chronic depression, rather than just making me feel better.

I accepted the oil, because it does smell good. For the most part, it just sits next to my desk. I like the way it smells, but I don’t want to smell it all the time, thinking it’ll make a difference to my chemical problem. It feels foolish and silly to sniff something for effect. It almost feels like I’d be compromising who I am as a skeptic by engaging in such a frivolous attempt at inducing a placebo effect.

Is there anything you wouldn’t try, as a skeptic? Would you use a homeopathic remedy, with or without another option? Would you turn it into an experiment with controls to try to learn something?


Image from www.essentialoil101.com

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Lux is a female genderqueer weirdo, writing from Kansas. They happily identify as a militant atheist(+), feminist and liberal. Their time is consumed with Doctor Who, reading, and playing WoW with a cat on their lap. If you're lucky, you might catch them smithing jewellery or cleaning something.


  1. September 13, 2012 at 1:08 am —

    I would totally be in a properly conducted homeopathy trial. If someone who knew what they were doing was conducting the trial, and if there were no adverse long-term health effects. Say, if the “treatment” was for something which goes away by itself, like the common cold. Yeah, I’d be up for that.

  2. September 13, 2012 at 11:30 am —

    I’d try the oils for psychological problems. Smells do affect the brain, and it’d be a difficult treatment to falsify in a double blinded experiment. (I’m assuming it’d show an effect in a non-blinded experiment.) If desperate I might try other non-proven treatments that had possible plausible explanations for any effect.

    I wouldn’t try homeopathy for anything, any possible explanation for the efficacy of homeopathy (apart from placebo or trickery) is so far fetched it’s safe to say it just can’t work.

    Even with some sort of control a single subject experiment would have little value. I might try a systematic evaluation, but unless the effects were dramatic I’d be reticent to draw any conclusions.

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