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Skeptical Analysis of the Paranormal Society

"Le doute n'est pas une condition agréable, mais la certitude est absurde."

—Voltaire

The Product and The Science

The Previous Prescription, the New Homeopathic Prescription

The Old Prescription, given by the SAPS Member's Physician:

One of the SAPS members suffers from a chronic lung ailment and is prone to bronchitis. Bronchitis, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians, is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes. This isn't an illness in that there is a common cause to all cases of bronchitis, or a germ that particularly causes bronchitis. The bronchial tubes become inflamed, according to the Academy, because of viral infections of some kind, roughly 95% of the time.

There is no medication that particularly treats bronchitis, either, though some medications offer relief from symptoms. It's an illness that has a particular course to run most of the time. Chronic bronchitis, which is what the SAPS member was diagnosed with, is an irreversible change in the bronchial tree. A patient with chronic bronchitis will always have shortness of breath, and always cough.

The member was prescribed an albuterol inhaler (often prescribed for asthma), and Hista-Vent, which, according to ETHEX (the manufacturer), is prescribed for cough/cold symptoms.

Hista-Vent contains the following:

Read the insert from ETHEX here: http://www.ethex.com/pages/pdf/58177042604_PIS.pdf (PDF)

Hista-Vent works by drying out the sinuses, and stopping drainage (thereby hopefully stopping the bronchia from becoming inflamed). It also has a lucky side effect of alertness, due to the Pseudoepinephrine.

Then the idea of homeopathic treatments came up. Luckily (or unluckily depending upon your perspective) the SAPS member ran out of medication last week, and couldn't really afford to spend the money just then. So she has agreed to put off treatment for a little while in order to test out homeopathic sulphur.

The New, Homeopathic Prescription from ABC Homeopathy:

ABC Homepathy's Store allows you to fill out a lengthy questionnaire about your particular symptoms. This involved stating basic symptoms and then breaking them down even further - it was not good enough to say "wheezy lungs," and after the option was chosen, a menu allowing you to choose which type of wheezy lungs were present came up.

At the end of the questionnaire, ABC Homeopathy recommended sulphur. Sulphur is used in the vulcanization of rubber, and to make matches. A Yahoo! search of "Sulphur Medicine" yielded no results beyond homeopathic remedies.

ABC Homeopathy allows you to pick the dilution when ordering your medicines. The SAPS member chose the 6C dilution. According to Jon Harmon (who pens chemistry textbooks):

"There are 1026 molecules of water in 1 gallon of water. Let's pretend for a moment that we start with that many molecules of whatever's being diluted. In a 6C dilution, 1014 molecules of the starting material would remain... or 0.0000000001% of the original material. In reality, the starting solutions contain far fewer than 1026 molecules, and the final result is absolutely nothing, pure water."

The SAPS member ordered 2 dr of sulphur pills.

They arrived soon afterward.

The pills are from Washington Homeopathic Products ("since 1873"). According to the Better Business Bureau, Washington Homeopathic Products has a satisfactory business record. (http://www.dc.bbb.org/report.html?national=Y&compid=19796)

The label on the pills reads as follows:

Contents: 2 dr

Directions: Dissolve 4 under the tongue 3 times a day. Repeat at greater intervals as condition subsides. Or as directed by a lic. practitioner.

WARNING: If symptoms persist/worsen or if pregnant/nursing, consult your practitioner. Keep out of reach of children. Do not use if seal w/Our logo is broken.

According to the SAPS member, the pills do indeed, as the label suggests, taste like sugar.

Read the Homeopathic Sulphur Journal to see how the homeopathic sulphur treatment works out.

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