Homeopathy failed me - Willow Bark to the rescue!

You know, I meant to post over the last few days. Unfortunately I caught a really bad flu. I had a fever of 102 on Saturday.

I tried finding a Homeopathic fever remedy to bring down my fever - but I ran into something odd. The local drugstore didn't have any sort of Homeopathic fever remedies! I was shocked! Completely staggered! (Well, actually I was unsteady on my feet due to fever and weakness.)

I had to resort instead to an old Chinese remedy that was also (not surprisingly) used by my (distant) Choctaw forefathers. So I channeled the spirits of my ancestors and quickly made a tea of boiled willow bark and drank it, which immediately and effectively brought down my fever.

Okay, not really.

Finding the right kind of willow tree here in Fresno was way outside of my abilities. (Remember, I was staggering around a bit in a drugstore.) And since this is Fresno, the chances were good that I'd have to rip the bark off of a tree in some home owner's yard. Nothing good could come from this.

But even in my fever I intelligently recalled that the pain relieving property in willow bark is a chemical called salicin, which when metabolized becomes salicylic acid, a chemical that has an excellent track record for relieving fever.

Salicylic acid does have it's problems. It will do a number on your stomach - not to mention it has a horrible bitter taste. Those side effects bothered a lot of people, so after 40 years of a chemistry "comedy of errors" chemists at Friedrich Bayer & Co finally both synthesized acetylsalicylic acid, and realized its value. Bayer immediately marketed this finding as "Aspirin" just in time for the turn of the century. (Yes, this is the abbreviated Cliff's Notes version of the story.)

Fighting against fever I realized that I couldn't get my hands on willow bark tea. But a bottle of aspirin and a jug of orange juice was right at hand there at the pharmacy!

See? No potions, no endless Homeopathic dilutions that depend on magical formula. Merely a simple medication that has been proven to work, over and over again - every time - in double blind clinical trials.

I popped a couple of aspirin and chugged some orange juice, and my fever subsided for the evening which allowed me to get some good sleep. After about 4 days the worst of the flu (with its fever) has passed and I'm up and around again. I've even got plenty of left-over aspirin to use on other maladies - like muscle aches and headaches.

But I really did want to find that Homeopathic fever cure. Ah well. Maybe next time.

3 comments:

trailrider said...

A pint of moonshine works too. Ok, it doesn't cure the fever but you really do not care anymore. Glad you are better.

Calladus said...

Pint?! Holy IPU! After a pint of any sort of hard liquor, (let alone moonshine, I'd be lucky to remain alive! Unconsciousness and coma would be a step up for me!

Scientiae said...

Actually, if I lived in Fresno I probably would have offered to make you willow bark (or slippery elm) tea. Well- some kind of tea; I'm infamous for fussing 'round sick friends with cups of something hot. It's some attenuated leftover of the British Raj, transmitted through my parents, which imbues me with the conviction that a cup of hot tea really is the universal panacea for all ills.

Jokes aside, I do brew herbal teas. For the most part their effects are milder than synthesized and concentrated forms of the chemical, but the same chemicals are in there. Mostly, though, it's the method of delivery which works so well, at least for me: I find hot drinks soothing and relaxing and cosseting, and that helps me feel better. (I'm fairly certain that the beneficent influence of all such teas is based largely on this effect. Hence the fussin'.) If there's such a thing as being aware of a placebo effect, then that'd be me and tea.

Homeopathy is a whole different kettle of imaginary dilutions. When you get to the point that it's impossible to dilute to formula because you can't exceed the number of molecules in the known universe, you're straying into realms of improbability that even L. Ron Hubbard had sense enough to leave alone. I read your earlier blog, and Udaya is typical of what I've heard here and abroad: anecdotal evidence being confused with empirical and clinically valid evidence.

And yeah, I'm glad you're feeling better too- too bad I couldn't help you in return this time, though I've got an e-book site I don't think you know about saved up for your next illness ;-).