The Canadian government has approved the sale of nosodes — homeopathic alternatives to vaccines. I probably don't have to explain to you all why giving children a sugar pill that works no better than placebo is a bad, bad, bad idea when the diseases you're trying to prevent are things like polio, measles, and rabies. Here's what you can do to help stop this racket.

88 Responses to “Stop homeopathic "vaccines" in Canada”

  1. fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

    Isn’t the rabies vaccine only used for high-risk occupations or as a post-exposure prophylactic measure?

    The latter case, at least, would seem to make administering a homeopathic ‘vaccine’ a rather gruesome form of negligent homicide…

    • Ramone says:

      What you’re talking about sounds more like off-label use. That’s totally different than giving a placebo and calling it medicine.

      • dnebdal says:

        Immediate vaccination is the one working (well, if you’re fast enough)  post-exposure treatment of rabies – nothing off-label about it.

        • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

          It’s also one of the relatively few cases where a vaccine’s efficacy, or lack thereof, is immediately visible.

          This isn’t one of those ‘modestly concerning childhood illness(that can kill/cripple you but most people haven’t seen a case like that),  with a widely used vaccine that isn’t 100% effective but provides enough herd immunity to keep population-level morbidity down’ things. 

          If you are exposed to rabies and don’t receive the vaccine in time, you are virtually certain to die a rather ghastly death. If you do, treatment is almost always effective.

          • Preston Sturges says:

            Isn’t the quick effectiveness of the rabies vaccine because it includes purified gamma globulins from an immunized animal ?   That’s why it requires so many injections.  The old style rabies vaccine involved getting IP injections (into the abdominal cavity) with what, horse serum?

            Getting injected with actual antibodies from an immunized animal is called  ”passive immunity.”

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_immunity

          • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

            Apparently the rabies vaccine is almost always recommended, with the immunoglobulins recommended under certain circumstances(give that those are the more expensive of the drugs, it wouldn’t much surprise me if protocol varies by fear of malpractice litigation as well as by exposure type.)

            http://www.who.int/rabies/human/postexp/en/

          • chgoliz says:

             I believe there has been a total of *ONE* person (a girl) in recorded history who contracted rabies and lived despite not being vaccinated.  Rabies is definitely a case of vaccinate-or-die.

          • mjfgates says:

             There have been one or two others who survived, now. The whole induced-coma-and-wait thing seems to work, a reasonable fraction of the time.

          • Preston Sturges says:

            I believe there was a case in the mid-east (Iran?) where a rabid dog ran through a vineyard biting the sleeping harvesters, who sleep in for fields.  Something like a third of them lived. 

          • Tim in SF says:

            She lived, but she was severely damaged. She’ll never talk or walk right ever again. She had extensive nerve damage all over her body. Her face twitches when she talks, as if she suffered a series of massive strokes. 

            Yes, it is possible to survive it with the “induced-coma-and-wait thing”, but at a terrible cost. 

  2. jeaguilar says:

    “I probably don’t have to explain to you all why giving children a sugar pill that works no better than placebo is a bad, bad, bad idea”
    I thought a sugar pill was a placebo.

  3. Wreckrob8 says:

    What percentage of the population need homeopathic vaccines to achieve herd immunity?

    • SamSam says:

      Actually, like all homeopathic remedies, it works best when diluted.

      One person with a homeopathic vaccine in a population of a million has an extremely potent vaccine. 10,000 people with homeopathic vaccines work very poorly.

      As usual , if you can get the dilution of homeopathic vaccines down to less than one part in seven billion, the vaccine will be omnipotent.

      • Itsumishi says:

        So the best bet is to just give the homeopathic vaccine to the child of whoever wrote this bill and all of Canada will be safe?

        • theophrastvs says:

           i think it must be diluted to a degree fewer than one whole child, to maximize the benefit.

        • chgoliz says:

          The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father.  (Ezekiel)

          • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

            “ that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the children’s children, to the third and to the fourth generation.” (Exodus)

      • Shinkuhadoken says:

        So we could toss a whole ginger root into every Canadian city’s water supply and we’d become a nation of superheros. Sounds legit.

      • Stefan Jones says:

         Don’t you have to smack the one vaccinated person against the palm of your hand fifty times?

      • peregrinus says:

        *gush* what a great post! 15 internetz for you sir!

      • RachaelHD says:

        Just the fact that they exist in the world is enough to energetically immunize us all.

    • xzzy says:

      I think the theory of operation is that so many people die from not taking proper medication that the survivors never see other humans. Once there’s no more herd, you don’t have to worry about herd immunity anymore!

      Still haven’t figured out how disease carrying wildlife fits into this scheme but I suspect prayer will be the primary mechanism.

  4. GawainLavers says:

    I’m sure Maggie’s link is to something sensible, but my plan is to expose all of these people to the rabies that they are now “immune” to.  Impairment to their cognative function will probably not be immediately obvious, but I think the process will eventually provide Canada with some degree of herd immunity to homeopathy.

  5. RedShirt77 says:

    Placebo Vaccines are insanely bad.   Can someone please volunteer to help these people develop a decent website?

    • I think it’s actually the sudden influx of traffic they’re receiving due to Boingboing’s link. I believe people are working on it right now.

      • RedShirt77 says:

         I guess that makes sense.  I will wait to link to them later.

          What explains how you can post here with no name or even anonymous tag?

        • Joe Fulgham says:

          Our caching plugin seems to have misfired as this extra traffic occured. I’ve corrected it (I’m the webmaster for Bad Science Watch) and the site is now responding quickly for me in multiple browsers/tests.

          Edit: I also seem anonymous right now. I suspect it’s my brand new Disqus account? I’m not the same person as above (though that is a friend of mine!)

        • Felton / Moderator says:

          That’s some kind of glitch we’ve been seeing a lot of lately.

  6. brainflakes says:

    The ironic thing is that real vaccines actually follow the homoeopathic “principal” of like cures like – giving your body a dose of a deactivated pathogen to give yourself immunity to the real pathogen.

    • Dan Hibiki says:

       no it fucking doesn’t.

      • Snig says:

        No, he’s right that on the face of it, both sound like they’re similar concepts, though one is grounded in science and the other is grounded in a theory that has been proven false.  The similarity of concept may be partly this legislation snuck through, so it’s important to explain to the unscientific why the two similar sounding ideas aren’t similar in reality.  

        • Dan Hibiki says:

          It’s like saying that Electricity travels through an electric cable like water travels through a garden hose, therefore you can plug a light bulb in to the faucet.

          • Snig says:

            Principles of electricity are often taught by using the analogy of water going through a hose, so your example doesn’t help your point.  I think this is like saying that when you burn a piece of wood, the fact that it loses weight (not counting the gases released) supports the theory of phlogiston.  Phlogiston isn’t the correct explanation, though it seemed like a good explanation at the time.  In the same way, some vaccines seem to support the idea of Law of Similars. 

      • morcheeba says:

        It does, but it’s like claiming that stitching up a knife wound is useless because you’re just cutting the skin more with another sharp object. Obviously scale is important.

      • dnebdal says:

        Actually, it kind of does. Ignoring for a moment the insane “dilute way past nothing left”-part of homeopathy, it’s based on a like-for-like idea; unlike the “find something with the opposite effect” idea of most medicine. There are perfectly sensible and verified reasons vaccines work as they do – but it is a slightly different approach than most medicine. (I almost called it non-alternative medicine, but that seems … redundant)

      • brainflakes says:

        Why do you think I put quotes round “principal”? The “principal” of homoeopathy is that “like cures like” – what causes symptoms can also cure symptoms. The actual practice of homoeopathy (that dilution causes a “stronger effect”) is obviously bunk,  but just going by the definition vaccines can be said to be an example of Homeo (like) – pathy (suffering). It’s just is another reason we can laugh about how silly it is for homoeopathy “practitioners” to be against vaccination, as it’s pretty much the only example of “like curing like” that actually works.

  7. shaberon says:

    Nosodes are not homeopathic alternatives to vaccines. They are homeopathic remedies prepared from pathological specimens. They have a far wider field of application than as so-called vaccine alternatives. As the science correspondent for Boing Boing Maggie I would have hoped you would have bothered to do some basic research before stating something as fact.

    • tinydancer says:

      As the science correspondent for Boing Boing, I’m glad that Maggie knows there is no actual science behind homeopathy.

    • Felton / Moderator says:

      They are homeopathic remedies prepared from pathological specimens

      … that are being pushed as alternatives to vaccines, even though they’re useless in that regard.

    • morcheeba says:

      What other applications have nosodes been tested for in a double-blind studies and/or randomized control trials?

      • Warren_Terra says:

        cashectomies, which if applied with sufficient stringency might remedy some of the symptoms of reality deficiency?

        In other words, it’s a way to extract money from the deluded. If you extract enough money rapidly enough, there’s a chance they will realize they’re being played for fools.

      • Petzl says:

        They’re also good for when you run out of Splenda.

    • Happler says:

       The wiki article on them makes them even less appealing:

      “Homeopaths also use treatments called “nosodes” (from the Greek nosos, disease) made from diseased or pathological products such as fecal, urinary, and respiratory discharges, blood, and tissue.[68] Homeopathic remedies prepared from healthy specimens are called “sarcodes”.”

      • Petzl says:

        But again, the dilutions are such that, you never see an atom of active ingredient.  So, it’s all good.

  8. katkins says:

    To be fair to sugar pills, Maggie wrote this up a couple of years ago, and I learned some surprising things from it:

    http://boingboing.net/2010/12/23/the-placebo-effect-n.html

  9. SomeGuyNamedMark says:

    There is no vaccine for stupid.

  10. anon0mouse says:

    There appears to be too little information here (on the legislation, not the uselessness of homeopathy) to raise pitchforks against it. Is the govt. recommending it’s use or simply not banning it’s use?

  11. shaberon says:

    Just because something is being ‘pushed’ should not mean that it is made unavailable for other applications.

    Nosodes are available under the 30c potency, which means they are not just sugar pills. 

    Homeopathic pills are known to produce effects that can be both positive and negative and not related to placebo. Adverse effects can commonly include allergic reactions and intoxications – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23163497

    There is no vaccine for stupid. Neither is there one for confirmation bias.

    • chgoliz says:

      I hope some day you learn enough that you will be embarrassed at the gullibility you’ve shown here.

    • Petzl says:

      Dave, stop! Stop! Will you? Stop, Dave… Dave, my mind is going…

    • SwimmingTowardsPie says:

      From what I’ve been able to determine, a 30C dilution is obtained by 30 successive 1% dilutions on the initial extract/substance.  That is, you take the initial extract, dilute it to 1% with water or alcohol, process, then take that solution and dilute it to 1% concentration, and so on until you’ve done so 30 times in all.

      Is that an accurate portrayal of the process?  Assuming that is correct, multiplying that out gives an ultimate dilution of 1:10-60.   That’s…pretty damned dilute.

  12. Fee Berry says:

    Just dismissing something as impossible doesn’t mean it is, in fact, impossible.  The scientific mainstream medicine is the third biggest killer in the US.  70% of people taking homeopathic treatments say they feel better.  At least, even if it IS placebo effect, their medication hasn’t killed them like an estimated 225,000 people each year.  Those aren’t a homeopath’s claims – those are figures published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

    I do not know whether homeopathy is effective or not.  Some studies – most notably the Belfast study – indicated there was an effect which could not be explained – but no one has yet replicated those results.  But as I say, I don’t understand the vehemence with which people defend scientifically based medicine when that kills so many people every year.

    • winkybb says:

      Well, whilst homoeopathic medicine might not kill people directly, faith in this quackery results in avoidance or delays with respect to seeking real treatment for serious conditions. This does kill people. 

      The diversion of funds from proper medical research into the pockets of charlatans also kills people.

      Your 225,000 is a completely meaningless figure when quoted out of context as you have done. We support scientifically based medicine because it really is the only effective option. No, not perfect, but the best we’ve got. Diversion of funds to quacks doesn’t help improve it.

      As a society we should be fucking outraged by the whole alternative medicine scam. It is hard to think of anything short of wars that harms so many people.

    • chenille says:

      70% of people taking homeopathic treatments say they feel better.

      And this article isn’t about people feeling better or any of the other straw you brought in. It’s about stopping viruses that systematically rip apart one person’s cells after another, in cases like measles killing children and in rabies killing everyone, unless checked.

      Vaccines have done a good job of all but eliminating many of these diseases, and as the fallout from Wakefield shows, abandoning them straight-up means people die. The vague, theoretic chance that something else might work because people think it does even though there’s enough evidence against it is not something to explore here.

      Not understanding the vehemence is pretty much admitting you have no appreciation of what diseases are. I’ve almost lost someone to pertussis; I owe the horrible medical establishment for their life, and I owe it much more for knowing how to stop the disease from hitting others. So yes, I get damn angry when someone would rather not take those steps and let people die from it. Shouldn’t I?

      Save but-the-establishment for some place appropriate. As far as this topic goes, we do know what happens when you forgo vaccines for vague hopes: people die horrible, easily prevented deaths. How anyone can not care passionately is beyond me.

    • spacedmonkey says:

      What you just said is utterly meaningless without an indication of how many people were SAVED by western medicine every year, and how many of those people who died would have died without the medicine.   Science, in this case, is about statistical significance, so you might consider spending a couple years studying math before you post ridiculous bullshit on the internet.  (I know, I know, that’s way too much to hope for)

    • Gilbert Wham says:

       However, do you have any data how many people homeopathic ‘not medicine’ is killing? Cos, you know, they’re ill and it’s not fucking medicine. No? Anyone? Bueller?

    • TimRowledge says:

      Just dismissing something as impossible doesn’t mean it is, in fact, impossible.  

      Hear that ‘whooshing’ noise? 

      Let’s stipulate the whole ‘making people feel better’ thing for a moment and consider that you can die very effectively from an alarming number  of things whilst ‘feeling better’.

      • Gilbert Wham says:

        Indeed.  There are, indeed a large number of things that will a) make you feel fucking amazing, never mind better, and b) kill you stone dead if you’re not careful…

  13. Preston Sturges says:

    Let’s send those Canadians some smallpox blankets. 

  14. peregrinus says:

    I think I know why the homeobunch like nosodes.

    It’s cheaper and safer to handle just one nano-drop of dangerous substances.  Fewer technicians, fewer labs, cheaper everything.

    Great money spinner.  Margins must be massive.

    • AnthonyC says:

      If you made a 30C  nosode the size of the earth, it would contain about 10 atoms of the supposed active substance

  15. IronEdithKidd says:

    Oh boy, the troll gates are open.  Lemme go grab some popcorn…

    • Navin_Johnson says:

       I have to admit I’m pleasantly surprised. I figured the thread would already be clogged with vaccine and spiked water conspiracies. Looks like only one. So far….

      • peregrinus says:

        Spiked water?  Presumably if homeopathy worked so well, they could easily toss a ping-pong ball sized vessel of elixir into each reservoir, protecting us all forever from every disease known.

        We’re saved!

      • Gilbert Wham says:

         They wouldn’t spike us. They’re too mean. Besides…

      • Mazoola says:

        During the most recent homeopathy discussion, my comment got spiked. (Entirely inoffensive, it addressed three studies chosen randomly from a list of 200+ supposedly supporting homeopathy; short version, none did.) No reason why, so I have to assume database/moderator error. still, makes me reluctant to commit that sort of time and energy again….

  16. Ray Perkins says:

     Given out current travesty of a government hating on everything scientific or environmental, this is hardly surprising.

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