Quick as Western doctors are to equate alternative medicine with utter nonsense, there’s a difference between something that hasn’t been proven to work and something that couldn’t possibly work. The tools available for understanding the body are largely blunt, and some alternative theories have gained traction as those tools sharpen. Improvements in brain imaging technology, for example, have shown that meditation—a practice long dismissed by Western doctors as pure mysticism—can improve both the structure and function of the brain.
The form of alternative medicine known as Homeopathy was developed by a German physician around the turn of the 19th century. For two and a half centuries, it has sustained a solid following: According to the National Center for Homeopathy, over 100 million people worldwide use homeopathic medicine. There are—according to the Center's website—eighteen homeopathic doctors within a ten-mile radius of Popular Science's office in New York. Could it be that the practice of homeopathy is simply untested and unfairly stigmatized, or is it truly implausible?