Not an alternative to anything

Homeopathic vaccines

Health Canada approves homeopathic “nosodes” as “safe and effective” despite the fact that homeopathy is an elaborate placebo system of sugar pills based on prescientific ideas of disease. Homeopaths and naturopaths actively promote nosodes as alternatives to vaccines, despite the fact that homeopathic remedies are inert with zero ability to protect against infectious disease.

Due to lobbying by groups like Bad Science Watch, Health Canada has reluctantly agreed to label nosodes (which it approves for sale) with the caution “This product is not intended to be an alternative to vaccination”.  Is this adequate? Some are asking why nosodes are even permitted for sale at all:

The regulatory move doesn’t go far enough, said Dr. Lloyd Oppel of the British Columbia Medical Association’s Council on Health Promotion in Vancouver, where he monitors alternative health practices. “The harm is not so much in taking the water or sugar pill,” said Oppel. “The harm is that people might believe that it protects them in a way that it doesn’t. Then on a consequence, they don’t go and protect themselves properly or their children.”   Members of the BC Medical Association and Canadian Medical Association wrote letters to the federal government asking for stricter standards to be applied to natural health products to ensure what goes on the shelf is safe and effective.    Oppel said Health Canada’s move is too little, too late. “A medicine that’s made in a way that can’t possibly work, I think is something that should not be on the shelf.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, homeopaths are reluctant to admit they are selling what is akin to magic beans:

Homeopath Ali Ramadan advertises nosodes at a health food store in Toronto. “We don’t necessarily say get this instead of the flu shot,” Ramadan said. “But let’s say you don’t want to get the flu shot, then you can use this as an alternative.”  “There is no way to really know how it works.”

Karl Mamer of The Conspiracy Skeptic Podcast summed it up best:

Imagine you tried to put on the shelf of a Canadian Tire a child safety seat that met none of the science-based codes for safety. If you looked at the baby seat, there’s nothing you can find that offers any protection. No belt. Nothing to restrain and protect the child from impact. It’s just a plastic sheet. Any test you run on the sheet, it turns out it’s indistinguishable from saran wrap. The makers claim yes they took Saran wrap but kept it in a room full of magnets. The magnets transferred their magnetism to the Saran wrap and of course the Saran wrap will use that magnetic force to keep the iron in the baby’s blood in position in the event of a crash. You run more tests on the Saran wrap and detect no magnetic field and you also point out the notion of magnets exerting a force on non-ferromagnetic blood is biologically implausible.

The makers shout parental freedom and it’s simply a parent’s choice to decide whether or not it really is a safe alternative to tested baby seats.

Oh, and Doctor Oz says magical Saran wrap works.

When it comes to homeopathy, there’s no “there” there. A “choice” to use homepathy is a explicit decision to do nothing. And those that defend and promote the sale and use of nosodes are putting public health, and individual lives, at risk.

6 thoughts on “Not an alternative to anything

  1. Homeopathy works. Please take 4 minutes to look at the video below which is proof of this. Or do you think a 3 inch weeping wound caused by MRSA being healed within a week is ‘Placebo Effect’?

    • Sorry, gaping logic fail; the second infection not confirmed as MRSE. Plus, one anecdote does not constitute anything close to the scientific proof needed to validate homeopathy, given its inherent implausibility

  2. Axis Mundi:

    He is diagnosed as having mersa, he goes to the hospital, is treated, and is cured. Later he feels pain in his leg, discovers a boil, self diagnosis he has mersa, and uses homeopathy. And, oh, first time he takes sugar pills he feels this amazing vibration. That seems a pretty testable claim. Anyone ever test that effect double blind? Anyway, assuming this video isn’t just fraud, maybe he had a self limiting skin condition that wasn’t mersa and his boil would have gotten better on its own via normal antiseptic care.

    Your video isn’t proof of anything. Sorry.

  3. I really like the car seat analogy and will keep it in mind. I wouldn’t put it past some credulous types I’ve known to put some “magic plastic wrap” over their car seats (while leaving the existing restraints in place) “just to be on the safe side”–the “integrative” approach, if you will.

  4. CBC marketplace did an expose on homeopathy back in 2011

    The hompathic quackers were up in arms posting all over the CBC message boards.

    Todays sugar pills were once called snake oil back in the good old days, I call it separating a fool from his money.

    Richard Dawkins Con/ Cure enemies of reason

Comments are closed.