It's World Homeopathy Awareness Week, so the Good Thinking Society (a nonprofit devoted to promoting rational thought) has put up a new site at homeopathyawarenessweek.org in which you will be made aware of a bunch of facts that homeopathy advocates are often slow to mention -- like adults and children who've died because they were treated with homeopathic sugar-pills, the tragic foolishness of Homeopaths Without Borders, who are memorably described as "well-meaning folk [who fly] into places of crisis in the developing world carrying suitcases full of homeopathic tablets that contain nothing but sugar. It is not so much Médecins Sans Frontières as Médecins Sans Medicine."
The more aware you are of homeopathy -- that is, the more you learn about all the ways in which homeopathy has been examined by independent, neutral researchers who've tested its claims and found them baseless -- the less there is to like about it. From ineffective homeopathy "vaccine alternatives" that leave your children -- and the children around them -- vulnerable to life-threatening illnesses that have been brought back from the brink of extinction by vaccine denial to the tragic story of Penelope Dingle, who suffered a horrific and lingering death due to treatable bowel-cancer because she followed her husband's homeopathic advice, being aware of homeopathy is a very good thing.
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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
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Juha sez, "Amazingly enough, New Zealand's North and South magazine has lost in the NZ Press Council, after a homeopath filed a complaint against an article that stated:
'Homeopathic remedies have failed every randomised, evidence-based scientific study seeking to verify their claims of healing powers.'"
"Mr Stuart [a homeopath] supplied the Press Council with a letter from Dr David St George, Chief Advisor on Integrative Care for the Ministry of Health, who advises the ministry on the development of complementary medicine in New Zealand and its potential integration into the public health system. He was not speaking for the ministry in this case but offering a personal view.
Dr St George believed the statement in North & South's article arose from a misunderstanding of the Lancet study, which had compared 110 published placebo-controlled trials of homeopathy with the same number of published placebo-controlled trials of conventional medical drug treatments. He said most of the 110 homeopathy trials in that study were "randomised, evidence-based scientific studies" which demonstrated an effect beyond a placebo effect. "
Dr St George said there was no debate about whether there were scientific studies demonstrating homeopathy's therapeutic benefit but rather, whether those studies were of an acceptable methodological quality.
Case Number: 2320 CLIVE STUART AGAINST NORTH & SOUTH
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Homeopathy is based on the principle of diluting an herb with water until none of the substance remains, then selling the water for $10—or $100. Inert powders are also used as the dilutant, with the same results.
Take, for example, the "HomeoFamily Kit", which is a big drawer full of tubes. Most of the ingredients listed are "30C", which, in homeopathy jargon, means that an extract of that ingredient was diluted 100 times, thirty times in succession. This means that it's so dilute there would be perhaps one molecule of the active ingredient remaining in a sphere of "medicine" 131 light years in diameter. Read the rest
Boots, which styles itself a "pharmacy-led Health & Beauty retailer" has caught a lot of flack for selling homeopathic "remedies" that contain no active ingredients. One report actually found a Boots pharmacist referring customers who asked a five-year-old child with a three-day bout of diarrhoea to homeopathic sugar pills (advice that could potentially kill the patient by leaving the underlying condition untreated).
Just in case you couldn't imagine Boots being more profit-led (rather than "pharmacy-led") marvel at the fact that the company refuses to withdraw products from Nelsons, a homeopathic manufacturer, even after the US regulator banned Nelsons products over fears that their sugar pills (which include "teething remedies" that are meant for babies) contained fragments of broken glass.
Boots's answer to a concerned customer? "Don't worry, the broken glass isn't in the stuff they sell to us."
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How could Boots know that the lax production standards applied only to shipments to the US? The products are made in Wimbledon. Do Nelsons have ‘lax Fridays’ where they all bunk off to the pub while the US export runs are made?
This response lacks any credibility.
I wrote to Boots when I received this to ask how they can be confident that these problems do not affect the UK. I have received no response.
Of course, we know Boots have a rather cynical attitude to the homeopathic products they sell. When giving evidence to parliament, Paul Bennett, professional standards director and superintendent pharmacist at Boots, admitted they have no evidence these products work, but sold them because they could.
In Wales, 77 year old Reginald Gill has been sent to prison for 8 years after falsely "diagnosing" cancer for women who sought health aid.
Gill, who is not a doctor, gave the women phony homeopathic treatment for their phonily-diagnosed cancer, including the use of these bogus healing machines and a form of electroshock therapy.
He told one woman she could be cured of cancer if a man sucked her breasts for half an hour each day.
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Samuele Riva, an Italian blogger, is being sued by Boiron, a France-based homeopathic "remedy" multinational. Riva dared to mock the company's claim that its Ooscillococcinum has no "active ingredient." The company claims that the product has been made by diluting "oscillococcinum" (a mythological substance said to be present in duck liver, though no evidence supports this claim) at 1:100 dilution 200 times, which "is the equivalent of diluting 1ml of original ingredient into a volume of water that is the size of the known universe."
Writing at ScienceBasedMedicine.org, Steven Novella calls this "a pseudoscience trifecta": Boiron claims that its imaginary element is present in its solution which has been diluted at farcical levels, and that the imaginary ingredient in question is effective at treating flu symptoms. "Essentially Boiron takes fairy dust and then dilutes it out of (non)existence."
I hope Boiron does draw a line in the sand over their oscillococcinum product, and that it becomes the center piece of a broader public discussion about homeopathy. Most of the public does not understand what homeopathy actually is. They think it means “natural” or “herbal” medicine. They have no idea that homeopathy is about taking fanciful ingredients with a dubious connection to the symptoms in the first place, and then diluting them into oblivion, then placing a drop of the pure water that remains and placing it on a sugar pill. The resultant pill is then supposed to contain the magic vibrations of the original substance.
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This rank pseudoscience, which has no place in 21st century medicine, is the business of Boiron.