Are You Having Writer’s Block? Try Homeopathy.

For some reason, I was reminded a little while ago of my first exposure to homeopathy. I had the vague idea that something like that existed but did not pay much attention to it, and I assumed it was just a branch of naturopathy (which it is not, by the way). I did not realize at the time (and this would have been around 1990 or so) that homeopathy was an older form of medicine often practiced in the U.S. during the late 19th and early 20th century. I was aware of 19th-century medicine to the extent that as an archaeologist I encountered evidence of it while excavating historic sites, and I’d read a few papers, and seen presentations at conferences, on the subject. But I had mostly ignored the homeopathy part.

Much later, of course, I moved to Minneapolis. Minneapolis was for a time a sort of Mecca of homeopathy and is the site of some of the more significant showdowns between homeopathy and what we now know of as “modern medicine.” It may be hard to accept this now, but which of the two kinds of medicine should be practiced was not at all clear at the time. Homeopathy was, of course, totally ineffective. Homeopathic treatments did nothing. But the other sorts of medicine that were being practiced often killed the patient. A sip of water may often have been better, or at least less harmful, then bleeding someone or using heavy metals or some other dangerous “cure.”

I happened to end up working on an archaeological site which was the residence of one of the major supporters of homeopathy around the turn of the century. We didn’t find much. In fact, we found only one small fragment of a fragment of a fragment of a fragment….

But I digress.

Anyway, my first exposure to homeopathy was actually visiting a production site for homeopathic substances. I was visiting an old family friend, whom I’ll call “Joshua.” I was staying at Joshua’s house for a couple of days, and he was showing me around. At one point he wanted to show me his current major source of income other than working in the garage. It was his “crystal water” production.

We went into the crystal water production room.

“See this crystal. Nice, isn’t it?”

And it was nice. It was a whopping big fragment of a geode the size of a horse’s head with amethyst crystals. There were some other crystals laying around the room as well.

“I put this in this bucket of water,” showing me a bucket of water, “and for good measure, I sit it under that skylight where moonlight usually comes in. Depending.” Depending on time of day, month, and year, I assumed.

“Then here are my reducing containers,” pointing to a set of large glass jars. “I put one cup of pure crystal water from the bucket into this container, and add ten cups of plain water, and mix,” he made mixing motions. “Then I do it again, one cup of that mixture and ten cups of regular water, and mix.”

I’m thinking…hmmm, this is Joshua stepping on the magic water. Note to self: Do not buy expensive narcotics or anything from this guy.

“And when I’ve done that ten times, I’m done. The crystal water is ready to go into these vials,” there were some vials, “retailing at 12 bucks or so a pop, wholesale at 4 bucks, and I want to sell them online for 6 bucks. Or maybe 7.”

I stared politely at the vials and breathed deeply.

“Then I’ll be able to quit working at the damn garage. What do you think?”

I thought, “Hell, yeah. This is way better than working at the damn garage. But who will buy this stuff?” Well, not many people did buy Joshua’s mixture, but he later got a job channeling a divine entity, and I think that ended up paying a bit better.

You might be wondering what the point of this blog post is. Well, when I started out, I had a point. But then I mixed that up with two references to 19th century archaeology, then I mixed that up with one story about how to make crystal juice, then I mixed that up with a bit about some guy changing his job, then I mixed that up in a metadiscussion of what my point was.

So, now, if you are having trouble coming up with something to write, just read this post. I’m sure it will cause inspiration. Or not.


14 Responses to “Are You Having Writer’s Block? Try Homeopathy.”

  1. March 1st, 2010 at 6:19 am

    a daughter's mother says:

    Well, I expect that at least his crystal water was harmless. Oh wait, were you supposed to drink it or pour it over your own crystals? No, it would have been harmless that way too, so nevermind.

  2. March 1st, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Greg Laden says:

    To be honest, I don’t remember but I think maybe you were supposed to just leave it around the house.

  3. March 1st, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    DuWayne says:

    Hmmm…Just leaving it around the house wouldn’t be very useful on the retail front – I would imagine you were just supposed to have it around, in case you really needed the magic water. I am guessing he didn’t sell much, because he lacked variety. I mean everyone knows that the magic water does specific things, based on the crystal used – and he sounds like he was pretty ambiguous about the whole moonlight thing, when that is a critically important consideration, when one is purchasing magic water.

    Sorry Greg, but I am suspicious about your magic water friend, it sounds to me like he was full of shit – ironically, about being full of shit. Would that be like a metafullofshit?

  4. March 1st, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    a daughter's mother says:

    I’m thinking how overpriced his magic water was. Reminds me of something I really want to try, sounds crazy but there’s some actual science behind it, but it’s so overpriced. I’m thinking about hookworms, in small doses, used for fighting allergies. I’d heard the theory years ago, about parasites preventing allergies, and research in highly isolated societies. The people were allergy-free and scientists wanted to find out why. The only common denominator among them which separated them from folks with allergies was that every one of them had a particular kind of parasite. (Memory fails to serve up just which one it was.)

    NPR (Science Friday??) did something on hookworms vs. allergies a few months back, so I looked the guy up who is selling the little beasties. For each dose, about fifty of the critters in a skin patch, which needs to be repeated every few months because they die off and with modern sanitation you don’t re-infect, he’s asking $3,000!

    Makes magic crystal water look more sensible by the minute. But Greg, would hookworms be considered homeopathic?

  5. March 1st, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Greg Laden says:

    Well, I don’t really want to go into the WHOLE story at this time, but clearly his girlfriend was the real brains in the operation as far as how all this stuff actually “worked.”

  6. March 1st, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Greg Laden says:

    Hookworms would not be homeopathic because homeopathy is based on certain principles that never work. So, if hookworm infection “worked” it would be like me saying that my broken watch is perfectly accurate two times a day.

    The hookworm connection was by someone named Cooper, I think, a few years back. I’ve not seen much on it since then. There may be something real going on but the populations with the hookworms had intestinal infections, not skin infections. I don’t recommend intenstinal infections of hookworms.

  7. March 1st, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Princeton Wedding Photographer says:

    Greg – Crystal water sounds very crazy. Did this guy smoke a lot of weed, fall in love with a spirtual hippie chick, and followed her crazy schema? How did you know this guy? hehe

  8. March 2nd, 2010 at 2:52 am

    Gabrielle Traub says:

    I’m sorry, but I’m completely perplexed. What does this man with his crystal moonshine water have anything to do with homeopathy? Greg, you clearly don’t have the faintest clue as to what homeopathy is, otherwise you wouldn’t have written this article. Homeopathic medicines are FDA regulated and manufactured by homeopathic pharmacies, who are required to have a licensed pharmacist oversee production. Homeopathic medicine do not use crystals or magic. They are prepared from substances from nature (often herbs) which are potentized and capable of eliciting an immune response. If this man you met claims that his voodo water is homeopathic and plans to sell it, you should know that his “business” is highly illegal.

  9. March 2nd, 2010 at 7:00 am

    a daughter's mother says:

    They only start at the skin. Once they find skin, they burrow to reach the bloodstream, head for the lungs, make you cough so they travel to the mouth, get swallowed, and they’re home! There they shed eggs which leave the body before hatching, so they don’t actually increase once inside, and die in a few months. (Think $3 grand 4xyear!) The small dose of hookworms is usually not enough to cause anemia, typically why one goes in to the doc and gets treated for a hookworm infection. They are readily killed, by the way. You don’t reinfect, thus overdosing, unless you walk barefoot next to infested feces, which is how they spread. The larvae leave the cooling pile, traveling a foot a day, looking for a new host’s skin. After three days they die without a host. (Kinda fascinating in a gross way.) Since we flush away infested or non-infested feces, hookworms are rare in countries with modern sanitation (and shoes) unless one has an infested pet.

    But since you ruled them not homeopathic, I’ll quit talking about them here. And none of the above should be construed as a recommendation.

  10. March 2nd, 2010 at 9:23 am

    Stephanie Zvan says:

    Gabrielle, the FDA regulations relating to homeopathy do two things. They require labeling, and they exempt homeopathy from the normal requirements of the U.S. Pharmacopeia, turning formulation of products over to an industry group instead. And yes, anything that requires water to have memory uses magic.

  11. March 2nd, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Lisa says:

    So… what happens to the water used in the earlier dilutions? Does it go down the drain? And doesn’t that then mean that sewage is the most potent curative substance ever?

  12. March 2nd, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Greg Laden says:

    Princeton Wedding Photographer, you are a little scary.

  13. March 2nd, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Uncle Glenny says:

    It’s homeopathic because the crystal’s energy, transferred to the water, has been potentized, silly!

    I seem to remember reading about something vaguely similar, probably by Orac, but my weak google-fu (inability to think up adjectives) and strong impatience did not provide a link. I think it involved someone selling energized (or whatever) bottled water, produced by simply setting a crystal over the palette of bottled water and thinking good thoughts. Or something like that.

    p.s. It (this post) is also homeopathic because it seems, at least from his recent postings, that Greg’s concentration has been diluted maybe 3C.

  14. March 2nd, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    a daughter's mother says:

    It may be diluted, but it sure is keeping all of us from having writer’s block!

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