Is it ethical to use medicine?

Got a cold? Only natural remedies will do, say our ethical columnist.

Ethan Greenhart

Topics Politics

This is a bit of random text from Kyle to test the new global option to add a message at the top of every article. This bit is linked somewhere.

Dear Ethan,

With temperatures falling, the inevitable has happened – I’ve got a horrible cold. I know it will pass in a few days but I’ve got a terrible headache, a runny nose and just keep sneezing. But the drug companies are evil multinationals. Is it ethical to take medicine?

Jacqui Frost

Dear Jacqui,

I’m feeling pretty miserable myself (sniff!) with my nose dripping on to the keyboard of my solar-powered computer. I have to be quick, too. During winter, I can only work for a few hours a day when the sun is high enough in the sky to power this machine. Frankly, I should be stuffing my face with nuts then bedding down in straw for the winter like the lucky old squirrels, but Sheba will have none of it.

No, of course you shouldn’t take medicine! At least, not the kind of medicine that has been tested on animals. Do you know that pharmaceutical companies routinely drill into the heads of monkeys just to test cosmetics – even though they don’t actually make cosmetics?! That mice and rats are casually electrocuted as part of ‘testing cold remedies’? When the lab staff have finally finished laughing like drains at this suffering, they just fill in a form that says their stupid, faux-fruit hot drink is safe. There’s still no cure for the common cold and there’s no cure for humans torturing animals, either.

I know for a fact these things go on because my friend Gareth used to be an animal rights activist and he gave me chapter and verse on what other people had told him about vivisectionists when I visited him in prison. He hadn’t actually seen any of these things himself, but folk wisdom is as good as video tape. In fact, cameras do lie, despite the old saying. Oral transmission, so wrongly dismissed as rumour and speculation, is far superior. The truth is this: cruelty to animals takes place on an industrial scale in this country, whether it’s Big Farmers or Big Pharma.

So forget popping pills or spraying, um, sprays. If you must seek relief (after all, what could remind us of the power of nature more exquisitely than disease?), what you need are natural remedies. And there are many of them out there.

I am personally a strong believer in homeopathy, which was invented in the eighteenth century by the brilliant German physician Samuel Hahnemann. Hahnemann realised that if you take just a little bit of something that causes a disease, your body’s natural defences would respond to it and learn to protect you from it. (A bit like a vaccine, except that vaccines cause children’s brains to rot so you should never use them.)

Hahnemann realised that the more you dilute the liquid containing the bit of disease-causing substance, the better it worked. So, Hahnemann would take a little bit of some tree bark or whatever, and make a solution of it with one part tree bark to 100 parts water. Then he diluted it again, with one part tree bark mixture to 100 parts water. His preferred method was to do this 30 times. According to the Wikipedia entry on homeopathy, this means that the chances of there being even one molecule of the original substance in the final solution are one in a billion billion billion billion. In other words, it is almost certainly just distilled water.

This, apparently, is a criticism. The materialists (the same people who torture animals, right?) claim that this means that homeopathy could not possibly work. This is nonsense. The water remembers the tree bark. The vital, disease-curing force is passed. Who needs molecules? As far as I can remember from my school science lessons, molecules seem like a very bad idea. The last thing we need are medicines that have been adulterated with molecules.

I recommend extract of belladonna (aka deadly nightshade) diluted according to homeopathic methods. It’s excellent for fevers and headaches. Sheba, always the unbeliever, likes nothing better than to ridicule these ideas. She prefers to settle down with a large glass of whisky and a family pack of paracetamol. Presumably, she is calculating that this cocktail will wreck her liver and spare her the misery of swollen sinuses.

What’s worse, she often uses this method even when she hasn’t got a cold, drinking large quantities of whisky at night, while mumbling grimly that ‘her mother was right’, then taking the paracetamol in the morning. Frankly, if you’d met her mother, you would never take medical advice from her.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with taking herbal medicines to prevent a cold from starting. From October to April, I regularly take echinacea. It’s practically foolproof. However, there is always one ‘fly in the ointment’, if you’ll excuse the pun (although echinacea is also available in tablets, tinctures or capsules, too). That ‘fly’ is people. If you mix with them, there’s every chance of you catching a disease from them. They get their greasy, snotty, infected hands and noses and faces everywhere, happily relieving themselves of mucus into a forest-felling multitude of disposible tissues. (Remember: old rags make great handkerchiefs, saving money and the environment!)

Travelling on public transport is better for the environment than driving a car. But frankly, if you are going to spend half an hour on a bus in the winter, you might as well settle down in a petri dish with a colony of bacteria and have done.

It’s not the fault of a bacterium or a virus if it wants to set up home in your body, that’s only natural. But the spreading of diseases only goes to show what a disaster human society really is, even for humans. And there are some diseases which humans spread – like Progress and Development – that are no one’s fault but ours. The trouble is, there’s no homeopathic remedies for them, either.

Ethan Greenhart is here to answer all your questions about ethical living in the twenty-first century. Email him at {encode=”” title=””}. Read his earlier columns here.

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Topics Politics


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