I can across a strange full-page ad in yesterday’s Globe and Mail. The headline was huge:
Reclaim your inner peace. Homeopathic Preparations. Scientifically proven effective.
Proven effective? Large comprehensive reviews have concluded that homeopathy is not efficacious (that is, it does not work beyond the placebo effect) and that explanations for why homeopathy would work are scientifically implausible. Consequently, it seems quite a stretch to say any homeopathic remedy is “Scientifically proven effective”. This particular ad was for two homeopathic products from Heel. Both Nervoheel N (“calms stressful moments, eases nervousness”) and Neurexan (“restores your natural sleep patterns, improves sleep quality”) are approved by Health Canada as safe and effective. Kim Hebert over at Skeptic North went looking for the published clinical evidence to support these efficacy claims:
- For Nervoheel N there was one open-label, non-randomized cohort study that stated “The differences between the treatment groups [Nervoheel and lorazepam] were not significant.” The paper concluded that Nervoheel N is non-inferior to lorazepam. No placebo group was included.
- For Neurexan there were two studies. Both non-random studies compared Neurexan with another unproven treatment, valerian, in the absence of a placebo group. There is no objective way to separate these results from unintentional researcher/patient bias or the placebo effect. Therefore, the results of both are clinically meaningless.
This data was presumably adequate for Health Canada (search their database for products 80007796 and 80004914 here) unless there’s unpublished data that was supplied. The ad continues:
Both products are suitable for the whole family, for short or long-term use, as they are clinically proven effective, non-addictive, and non-sedative. They have no known side effects, medicinal interactions, or contraindications.
In order to have side effects, first a product has to have effects. So no surprise there. The strangest statement, however, is at the bottom of the ad:
AVAILABLE IN PHARMACIES AND HEALTH FOOD STORES.
Ask your chiropractor or naturopath for more infomation.
Presumably they don’t want you to ask your pharmacist for more information. What kind of response might a pharmacist give about the scientific evidence supporting this, or any other homeopathic remedy? Hopefully, a science-based one.