Homeopathic doses of the Berlin Wall and tap water

Ainsworth, a "remedy store" sells "homeopathic" "remedies" -- diluted-to-nothing, heavily shaken essences of substances that are good for what ails ya, providing whatever ails you is treatable by placebo (and they're happy to sell you "remedies" for potentially serious illnesses that are otherwise eminently treatable provided you're willing to use science instead of profitable nonsense on very tiny stilts in connection with them).

Anyhoo, Ainsworth will sell you homeopathic dilutions of all kinds of random stuff: the Berlin Wall, Kitten chlamydia, Shake N Vac, Microwave, Ultrasound, and yup, tap water.

Don't worry, it's all on the up and up -- they've got a royal appointment to both the Queen and Prince Charles. Proving once again that being born to a certain bloodline qualifies you to rule wisely.

Remedy Store (Thanks, @benburry!)

(Image: The fall of the Berlin Wall - November 1989, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from gavinandrewstewart's photostream)


    1.  I have some heavily watered-down alcohol to offer you – The water molecules don’t bother to memorize anything else they’ve been in contact with.  It’s even more potent than the real stuff!

  1. Don’t worry, it’s all on the up and up — they’ve got a royal
    appointment to both the Queen and Prince Charles. Proving once again that being born to a certain bloodline qualifies you to rule wisely.

    The Queen’s 86 and Prince Philip is 91, both still working full time, not to mention riding.  Odd targets for health snark.

      1. I’m still disapp0inted we never saw the perfect, honest headline to the death of the Queen Mother; “101 YEAR OLD WOMAN DIES OF NATURAL CAUSES”

      2. The NHS still funds homeopathic ‘remedies’. Without royal patronage maybe more people would come to their senses and NHS money could be spent on real medicine. It might even become good enough for royal patronage. The NHS by appointment to HM…. They could prove that they are really useful then and not just a fucking waste of space.

    1. Er, “working”? Waving from carriages and the like? Such backbreaking toil!

    2. “both still working full time, not to mention riding.”

      That’s a rather impertinent observation to make – what they are doing privately is neither ours to say, nor pry into.

      1. Considering that they live off the largesse of UK taxpayers? Yeah, I’m more than OK with noses being stuck into their personal activities.

        Also, “impertinent”? Damn us upppity commoners and “colonials.”

    3. On the other hand, Prince Philip has been saying things that sound demented since he was 40.

      1. I thought his warning about staying too long in China causing one to become “slitty-eyed” was bang on, just like his advice about cuisine:

        “If it has got four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and it flies but is not an aeroplane, and if it swims and it is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.” 

        Now what, pray tell, is so demented about that?

        1. The slitty-eyed comment was demented, and something he would have likely quipped at 14. Remember in Faulty Towers when the Major tells Basil an anecdote about how when he was a young man he once had to clarify the proper racist words for an African vs. an East Indian? 

          The comments about Cantonese eating habits Pr. Phil likely heard from a Chinese person. I’ve had friends from China or of Chinese heritage say the same thing, with pride.  From what I understand of Brits that fancy themselves rugged – rocking the Bear Grills ‘tude – it was probably high praise. It sounds like a variation on a common saying.

          /not defending Pr. Philip

          BTW – be careful when Disqus asks if you want to merge profiles – better yet, don’t do it. I did it and it changed my BoingB profile name from CD to cdh1971. I cannot seem to change it back and worse yet my Disqus profile has become buggy. I can see my BoingB posts, but they’re not, at least yet, reflected in my number of posts, can’t see the BB likes, and BB isn’t displayed in the ‘communities’ section. I think a post or two are missing actually.

          1. be careful when Disqus asks if you want to merge profiles

            Yeah.  Mine was weird for months.  Then one day, it upped my total by about 10K comments.

            If you can’t change your display name back via Edit Profile in Disqus, you should contact their support.

          2. This is a reply to Antinous’ comment below ’cause I cannot reply directly….

            Thanks for the advice Antinous, I will contact Disqus support, at least maybe I will. It’s not a bigee.

            Also…thanks for discretely making the silly and or wacky shit we post in the wee hours disappear ;)

          3. As a matter of principle I never merge anything unless absolutely required… Why should I help companies profile me? IMO its safer to have separate accounts for every service because then when one gets hacked (which will eventually happen to SOME service you use) you don’t have to stress about what stuff they potentially got access to.

            I was pretty annoyed when Google made me cash-in my original YouTube login.

          4. (sigh)..You’re right of course. I don’t usually, like never until last night – merge stuff either – but I did, against what should have been my version of common sense. 

            Muse-induced curiosity?  


            Stinky, buzzed off my own odour?  

            Only I know which.  NTL, I will think twice about merging stuff  too blindly on the net, like I’m trying to do in mea…I mean so-call…real-life.

    4. I bet all these people’s opinions on the royal family and statistical analysis have finally convinced you you’re wrong.

  2. When I was growing up my parents visited a homeopath and would take homeopathic remedies. I didn’t really understand any of the process or science or lack thereof, I just took the tablets I was given.

    Now I am older I cannot imagine I would ever do the same with my kids. My rational brain has been convinced that it is a baseless form of therapy.

    And yet, my parents would point to concrete instances of being helped by homeopathy. They would say that homeopathic remedies and dietary advice cured my sister’s childhood asthma, and my mother’s glaucoma, and eased a path through a dozen other ailments.
    What I’m trying to say is, I accept that homeopathy is baseless, and I can’t imagine ever using it, but I find it hard to laugh at my parents, you know?

    1.  The placebo effect is very real and powerful. The old kissing it better routine worked eh too for many parents?

      Placebo is fascinating and well studied. The bizarre thing is it doesn’t seem to even require belief of false information like everyone assumed. They did studies where people were told “there is nothing in these pills and no reason to believe they work but some people feel better anyway” and even that had a good placebo effect!!

      It seems to have more to do with ritual and just doing something active about it.

      Similarly, just booking an appointment with a doctor helps and you haven’t even done anything concrete yet!

      1.  I think that it works like how they set up the scene in The Matrix where Neo takes a red or blue pill – and he is told that they are merely “symbols” of the choice he makes rather than some magical chemical formulation.  The act itself, the symbolism of taking a step or making a choice is the important ritual that gives the patient the mindset that they’re taking action as opposed to “doing nothing” which would signify an abdication of fighting off whatever is going on. 
        But personally, I think it’s bunk.  If something can be helped by placebo, it means it’s all in your head. 

          1. ..not sure if stupid or just trolling.

            The point is that if placebo is the mechanism that’s causing healing then you don’t need to pay some self-self-serving, deceptive douches a bunch of cash for Berlin-wall-in-a-pill.

        1. “If something can be helped by placebo, it means it’s all in your head.”

          Kind of like literally every single experience you have?

        2.  Its not only in your head though. Altered perception can have an effect for instance on phsyical phenomena like pain, even inflammation. There is a scratch test used in hypnotic anesthesia, where the skin reacts differently to a needle scraped along the skin. If you think about it, all hypnosis is, is a kind of voice directed placebo. I used putting myself into a trance once in hospital to control my own gag reflex and pain etc because I didn’t want an anesthetic and like to see what is possible. The nurses weren’t sure but let me have a try and were surprised they could easily put tubes in me with no reaction. I surprised myself too but at any moment I could have changed my mind if need be.

          Placebo is just dead weird but its not ‘fake’, its just limited in scope. Unfortunately it does also allow people to blame the wrong thing easily like with homeopathy. Noone goes “Hey what a great placebo response!!”. They fool themselves. That is dangerous because there are limits to what a placebo can realistically do and people over trust it.

    2. Oh, I mentioned just a bit ago that in the past “homeopathic” stuff used to be the common name for any home remedy. Some of which do actually work–like Chamomile tea, or slippery elm for sore throat. 

      1. Except those two are herbal and are shown to have actual things in them other than water.

          1. per the 60’s-80’s thing. This results from confusion about the term. Homeopathy was thought up in the 18th century. At that time and since that time it has referred to that water crap. The homeopathic herbs/vitamins you refer to are homeopathic preparations of common herbal remedies. IE magic sugar pill or tap water. Shelving them together and labeling them in an almost identical factor is done deliberately to obscure what homeopathy is all about.

      2. No Homeopathic has always refereed to remedies prepared using absurd levels of dilution, usually according to the principal of “like cures like”.  Many people seem to make this assumption however, I’m guessing for two reasons. 1. Its got the word home in it. 2. Its very important for homeopaths and remedy manufactures to obscure how they make their remedies. A label reading “contains no active ingredients” would be accurate but likely have a negative effect on sales. 

        1. My favorite “homeopathic medicine” that actually contained an active ingredient (of sorts) was that “Head-On” stuff heavily (and unbelievably annoyingly) marketed on television some years back as a headache remedy you were meant to sponge onto your forehead. It claimed to be a homeopathic remedy, with some “active ingredients” long since diluted away. It actually was a sponge-dispenser of an isopropanol solution; applying it to your forehead would rapidly if briefly make your forehead become (and feel) cooler, and contribute to a powerful placebo effect.

    3. I guess in my family the easiest people to laugh at are my parents (fundamentalists).

      No, I can’t feel you praying for my safety. And the fact that I’m safe doesn’t prove anything you said to your imaginary friend in the sky helped.

      1. There was a study that demonstrated that prayer has no effect on patients’ outcomes (there was another that demonstrated it did, but that one was later determined to be fraudulent). The interesting part of the study was that the researchers randomized two parts of it: whether a patient was prayed for, and whether a patient was told they were being prayed for. Turns out, being told people you don’t know are praying for your recovery actually has a deleterious effect on your outcomes. I guess maybe it makes you more inclined to think you’re beyond the assistance of medical intervention and require a miracle, or something.

        1. can you cite these followup studies?  i’m familiar with the original.  i’d like to see the debunking, thanks!

          1. I remember reading about this several years ago. There’s a Wikipedia article that seems a reasonable place to start; it has the retracted study that I recall (“The IVF-ET prayer scandal”) and has the study where being told you’re being prayed for might harm you (“The STEP Project”; 59% of patients who knew they were being prayed for had complications, versus 52% that weren’t told they were being prayed for; I don’t know the n or the confidence score from the Wikipedia article, and didn’t pursue the original study).

    4. I too cured my childhood asthma.  My method was to sit around playing on the computer and having pizza each Friday night.  Like magic, my asthma went from almost life threatening to completely vanished.  I have not had an asthma attack in almost a couple of decades.

      Computer games and pizza didn’t cure my asthma.  It just went away.  You don’t even need a placebo effect.  Your body heals itself naturally.  If you are doing “stuff” to heal yourself using shakra beads, crystals, homeopathy, Jesus magic, or porn, and you get better, it doesn’t mean your porno collection cured you.  It means you just got better.

      This is why when we talk about whether or not something works, we use a control group.

      1. Umm….you know that chakra beads are made of highly compressed then shellacked leftover pizza crust right? 

        They used to be made of nan bread but there’s something about the gluten in  pizza that makes for better beads so all of the chakra bead makers switched to pizza crust. 

        Nan beads made from nan bread are becoming pretty collectable now. 

  3. 1. Place cup of tap water in microwave. 
    2. Microwave for 10 seconds.
    3. Drink microwave infused tap water.
    4. ?????
    5. Price paid, FREE!

    1. No! Nonononono! That is a too strong solution of tap water, it might kill you!!! You need to dillute it first into oblivion. Don’t forget to shake it properly!

      1. Nononono, according to homeopaths that solution would, in fact, be too WEAK, because it’s the diluting and shaking that makes the remedy stronger.

        Silly bunnies.

  4. I love their “remedy” list – the “B”s alone are wonderful:  Bacon fat?  Brick dust?  Budgie feathers?  But some are completely perplexing: The aforementioned “Tyrannosaurus Rex” (Huh?) “X-Rays” (WTF?) “Warts” (actual bits of someone’s warts?)  Ice Cream? (What flavor?) “Eye” (seriously, WTF?)  Mustard Gas!?  I fully expected to find “Orangutan” and “Mummy Powder” in there.  I’m not sure how this could be anything other than an elaborate joke.

      1. Not the real thing, but a compound that has been near another compound that has been near snake oil.  The good part of the snake oil survived the trip, and is now in the bottle you are holding in your hand.  Don’t take too much at once.  Easy does it.

    1. At least “Mummy Powder” would have a long (if not very distinguished) history as a cure-all in European medicine.

      1. Don’t laugh too soon:

        In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the horn, which is shaved or ground into a powder and dissolved in boiling water, is used to treat fever, rheumatism, gout, and other disorders. According to the 16th century Chinese pharmacist Li Shi Chen, the horn could also cure snakebites, hallucinations, typhoid, headaches, carbuncles, vomiting, food poisoning, and “devil possession.”

    2. this is the direct link to the list of diluted-away ingredients they offer. Incredibly, they don’t offer Narwhal Tusk (nor the “Unicorn Horn” it was once popularly marketed as). Have they no sense of tradition?

  5. Hmm, since the products are just water, can they legally just sell you water straight from the tap/bottle and claim it’s homoepathic spider balls or whatever?  Or does the product have to be what it’s labelled as – I suppose in the same way as if you were paying a fortune to buy a potato that once belonged to Einstein?

    1.  i think if they sell a 100c mixture they theoretically have to actually do the mixing. but good luck proving it.

    2. Homeopathic cures prepared according to established homeopathic procedures dilute the original herb/wall/whatever to less than one drop in the ocean.  Based on chemical analysis, you cannot distinguish an authentic homeopathic preparation from untreated water.  Plain water and a preparation containing “water memory” claimed by homeopaths cannot be distinguished by any test.  So, yes, you could put ordinary water in the container and it would not be detectable.

      In the US, labeling and claims are actually supposed to conform to the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States (1936).  Many products in the US labeled as “homeopathic” do not conform to this standard because some companies use the homeopathic label in an attempt to dodge regulatory oversight.  Once the FTC or FDA decide to take action against one of these companies, I have never seen the dodge work.

      1. Sure, but for legal reasons of false advertising that fraction of a drop in the ocean (and some homeopathic dilutions are more like a drop in the universe) must first have existed. So, you can say a dilution comes from a solution that once contained a tiny bit of Tyrannosaurus Rex, by waving a fossil at the beaker or just because all of us might have an atom that was once in a T Rex, but you can’t say you’ve diluted away all traces of a sample of vampire or werewolf, because no such thing existed in the first place.

        Of course, the fact that they can’t get away with “false advertising” about exactly what they’ve diluted away doesn’t stop them making or heavily implying ludicrous and genuinely dangerous health claims.

        1. Well, I can only speak for what I know of the US situation, but a homeopathic solution of vampire would not be found in the Homeopathic Pharmacopaeia of the US and would probably be illegal for that reason.

          The really dangerous claims like treating cancer with homeopathy are supposed to be forbidden as drug claims, but I admit I only know a little about how that works.

          The sad part is that a company can say the craziest and most dangerous things up until they get caught.  That is the caveat emptor in this area of commerce. 

        2. Many homeopathic remedies claim to actually dilute to the point of one molecule in more molecules than there are in the entire universe.

          Beyond that bit of insanity there’s very, very little regulation in regards to homeopathy, herbal remedies, and alternative medicine in general. These things do not even need to be tested for safety, or to verify their contents. Legal challenges usually revolve around labeling laws. So more often then not people sue over direct claims that these things are a verified cure for disease rather than if it follows the quack guidelines properly. 

          The pill forms are particularly interesting. Last I read up on the things they basically let a sugar pill have a peek at a bottle of the magic water, and then send it off to customers. 

          1. If I have this right, spraying the final tituration on sugar pills and allowing the alcohol to evaporate is counted as the final 100x dilution.

  6. If, like me, you’re bored of reading Cory witter on about how terrible homeopathic remedies are, I’ve found printing one off, putting it in some water, and then drinking the result works wonders.

    If you don’t want to go to all that effort- or just don’t have access to a printer- I have some ready-bottled for you for the low price of £5 a bottle + P&P. Don’t delay!

  7. Has anyone told Seth Roberts about this breakthrough?  I am sure there are three people out there who cured themselves of communism with homeopathic Berlin Wall.  Seth could tell us all moving stories about how the doctors kept misdiagnosing them as monarchists until the day they learned how to heal themselves through homeopathy.  The ennui and vague anarchist feelings ended the very next day!

    I jest of course, but it is kind of funny to see how this story fits the same pattern…

  8. Back in my Onion on the Belt day. “homeopathic” referred to home remedies, and Vitamin C for colds, and herb based teas like Chamomile for insomnia.
     Yeah, I know it’s a incorrect term. But you’ll see things with like Zinc sprays for colds labeled as such. And those aren’t just magic water.  The zinc sprays work…but with a heavy warning as zinc swabs and sprays can cause permanent damage to your sense of taste and smell.

    And yeah, I’ll still put a tsp of Apple Cider vinegar in glass of water to help with motionsickness or a acid stomach. The myth is helps tell the acid pumps in the stomach “hey knock it off guys”.

    1.  only if those little ailments include having too much money or living with a terminal disease.

  9. My mom is a homeopath, and gets pissed when I make cracks about it being hippy voodoo medicine.

        1.  In Haiti it is Vodou. 
          In Louisiana it’s Voodoo. 

          Homeopaths are so silly, my witch doctor and I always lough about them. 

    1. I’m sorry, and I’m sure your mother is a wonderful person in other ways, but homeopathy isn’t just hippy voodoo medicine; it’s nonsense, it’s dishonest, and it becomes genuinely dangerous when someone inevitably attempts to use it in place of seeking out the medical care they actually need. To advocate homeopathy is deeply irresponsible, and to practice homeopathy and take money for doing so is far, far worse.

  10. I am confused.

    They have homeopathic testosterone. Is that for people switching from male to female? What about the Yterbium? Will I get a subwoofer voice? A magnetic personality?

    1. They also have homeopathic Krypton which, I presume, is only bought by one glasses-wearing journalist in Metropolis.

      However, I’m most interested in their homeopathic Fire.

  11.  “…hippy voodoo German medicine.”   That’s what makes it all valid and stuff.

  12. science is a useful lens at looking at the world.  science is good at testing if something scientific works. mostly things on earth seem to work in a way described by science. it rules.

    but there’s plenty that works that science doesn’t get. and just because science “tests” something and science doesn’t understand how to isolate and repeat it, it could still be “real”.

    this seems somewhat relevant here:

    1. You obviously fail to understand what science is. What exists, is science, and we seek explanations for what exists, and settle on explanations that have not yet been shown not to work. If Homeopathy were to have the effects its proponents claim, this would be extraordinarily surprising, but science would, given sufficient replication of this surprising result, necessarily accept it to be true, and a lot of theories that have heretofore been thought to work quite well would require serious re-examination.

      The opposite of science isn’t magic; Arthur C Clarke famously said that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”; the inverse is also true, an observation variously attributed to Larry Niven or Terry Pratchett, or possibly to someone else entirely. If something is true, and works, science must necessarily adapt to include it. If something works, it cannot be the case that “science doesn’t get it”, just that science hasn’t yet explained it. If science were to throw up its metaphorical hands and ignore something that worked, science would lose its identity. The problem with Homeopathy, and with Woo in general, is that they don’t work – that there’s nothing there to “get”.

    2. If science can’t test or try to understand something, then the only way to connect with it is belief.  A belief is “real” to the person believing it.  Science creates common realities but not common beliefs.  The common reality established by science provides a platform against which to measure our beliefs.  If you measure your beliefs by a different yardstick, don’t be surprised if others don’t share your concept of “real.”

    3. Things can exist without us (fully) understanding them, but it is impossible for us to control things to a greater degree than we understand them.

      You cannot ride an elephant until you realise that it is more than a pillar and a rope.

    4. If science doesn’t understand how to reproduce homeopathic effects, then neither could the homeopaths…

  13. Some thoughts on Homeopathy:
    1. The highest rule of medicine has been said to be “First, do no harm”. Well, if they are selling water they are certainly not doing much harm, particularly when compared to the sometimes fatal side effects of “real” medicine.
    2. The idea that there is none of the original material left does not bother the homeopaths because, as we know, they claim there is a residual effect on the water that does the trick. They do NOT claim that it works by magic or any other supernatural means, so there should be a scientific way to detect whatever it is that has changed about the water (I don’t believe the creators of homeopathy ever said the effect was undetectable). So, being that it is a billion dollar industry, why don’t they even try to find a test that would prove their point? I submit to you that they don’t go looking for proof because they know they won’t find it, and their whole business would be gone like shit through a golden goose. They prefer to offer proof by way of dubious studies and statistics, which we all know can be used to prove anything.
    3. Homeopathy comes under the heading of Things I Wish Were Actually True. Like when I read that Edgar Cayce could supposedly put a book under his pillow at night and in the morning would wake up knowing everything in the book. WAY too good to be true.

    1. Homeopathy does no harm, in the sense that a sip of water is indeed harmless. But paying for homeopathy does harm, in the sense that your pocketbook is the less for it; relying on homeopathy does harm, in the sense that someone who does so might not seek the effective care they require; and believing in homeopathy does harm, in the sense that believing things despite their making no sense, having not been proven, and indeed having been disproven is deleterious to the cultivation and preservation of a rational outlook on life – irrational belief in nonsense of one sort can be a gateway to irrational belief in other, more pernicious falsehoods.

    2. Science and its scare quotes real medicine rid the world of small pox, saving millions of lives every single year. What has homeopathy achieved other than a way of separating fools from their money?

      And making up properties of water that don’t exist doesn’t change magic to science.

  14. Calling all scientists: you are summoned to attend a global warming summit in Kyoto Japan.

    Excited guy in labcoat: I have a degree in homeopathic medicine!

    You have a degree in baloney! *Water cannon blasts baloney degree holder*

    I truly wish we could treat all dangerous pseudoscience this way in public

    1. THANK YOU! I didn’t even know this markup existed. I’m often reluctant to click on links to sites that irk me for this very reason but the problem is not so much the clicks, it’s that Google rates BB highly and so these jackasses increase their Google rank because a highly-trafficked site like BB has linked them.

      Editors: Please consider implementing this on BB’s links to bullshit websites.

  15. A homeopath and Dr. Jay Gordon walk by a bar. Dr. Jay asks “Why don’t we go in there for a drink?” The homeopath says “That place is a rip off, they don’t water down the drinks”.
    And don’t forget the 9:30 show is completely different than the 7:30 show. Enjoy your dinner!

  16. “Claustrophobia there’s too much paranoia
    There’s too many closets I went in before
    And now I gotta reason,
    It’s no real reason to be waiting
    The Berlin Wall

    Gotta go over the Berlin Wall
    I don’t understand it….
    I gotta go over the wall
    I don’t understand this bit at all…

    Please don’t be waiting for me ”

    It’s almost as though Johnny Rotten had pre-saged this nonsense

  17. What exactly would a dilution of the Berlin wall remedy? Would it make you immune to oppression, or  would it cure communism? Or simply give you a balanced intake of concrete?

    1. Perhaps fill you with the surging energy of David Hasselhoff in a glowing Jersey Tuxedo?

  18. The “Berlin Wall diluted in tap water” idea is genius. Call it Freedom Water and the USians will bomb a third world country or sell their firstborn to get a chance at throwing their money at you.

    1. Also: water that’s been sat in a transparent bottle in front of a picture of Ronald Reagan for at least 24 hours.

  19. Remember how we used to have to fight away the homeopathy proponents every time a post like this was made?

    Did they all die of poor medicinal choices, or did they finally realise they’re gonna get new holes torn if they parade their anti-science bullshit around BB? Either way, the mods +/ the readership need to give ourselves a pat on the back.

  20. Homeopathy aside, any kid of any age could mail order 96% “T-Rex infused” booze to their home door for parties? Albeit at a premium, but.. you know how desperate can a teenager get

  21. Will they take as payment a vial of water with a couple of molecules from a C-note dissolved within??

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