A hot topic on my agenda recently has been homeopathic remedies, and so I give you a short investigation into what homeopathy really is, and what you are paying for when you drop 15-20 dollars on a bottle of their magic pills. As a bonus, I confronted a Walgreens pharmacist to hear what she had to say about her company’s practice of selling this garbage to gullible consumers.
To start, in case any reader does not understand what homeopathic means, here is a a link to the full Wikipedia entry for this surprisingly popular form of refined pseudoscience. Allow me to direct your attention to how the term ‘remedy’ has to be redefined so that it better fits what homeopathy does. An excerpt from said Wiki:
“In the context of homeopathy, the term remedy is used to refer to a substance prepared with a particular procedure and intended for treating patients; it is not to be confused with the generally accepted use of the word, which means “a medicine or therapy that cures disease or relieves pain”.
Now, I understand that not everyone thinks the same way I do, and not everyone cares about semantics, but I have a hard time believing that your average consumer would be ok with the dictionary definition of ‘remedy’ being tweaked solely so that it looks good on the box of a product they just dropped $15-20 on. Per this creative re-purposing of of word ‘remedy’, it does not have to actually cure or relieve anything, but it must simply be made in a “particular” way and be “intended for treating patients”. This is a funny way to sell a placebo pill, don’t you think? Why not just include the Wikipedia article with every unit sold!? You mean, people wouldnt appreciate seeing this on a label when they picked up a product?
“The collective weight of scientific evidence has found homeopathy to be no more effective than a placebo.”
Hmm. The more I think about this, the more it looks like these companies don’t want you to know how these products actually work, and how they are made, because if you did know this, you wouldnt buy their fraudulent crap! Wait, no, I cant say ‘fraudulent’ because the FDA has allowed this scam to exist openly, and for the purveyors of said scam to redefine vocabulary in order to beat the lawsuits, or indeed their arrests!
“The lack of convincing scientific evidence to support homeopathy’s efficacy and its use of remedies lacking active ingredients have caused homeopathy to be described as pseudoscience, quackery, and a “cruel deception”.
That last bit must have been left in the Wiki by some disgruntled former homeopathic patient who thought he/she really could build up an immunity to poison oak toxins by ingesting ‘Rhus Tox.”, and then found out the hard way that homeopathy is BULLSHIT by erupting in itching, burning sores. He/she probably needed to believe in homeopathy harder, or to seek out a more persuasive homeopathic practitioner.
Now that we have gone over the definition of homeopathy and have clearly defined that it is a scam, I must pose a couple questions. First, I understand that these homeopathic remedies work in the same way that a placebo works, and so I must concede to the manufacturer that, yes, statistically, in some cases this works the same as a real medicine. When a patient truly believes he/she is ingesting something which will help pain or illness, some of the symptoms can minimize. Does this mean its ok to sell sugar pills to people in packaging which states that it is a remedy? Is it ok to charge the same or more for your placebo pill as is expected for regular medicines? Furthermore, if placebo and active medicines sometimes have similar statistical findings, doesnt that tell you something? This means that a percentage of people who seek over-the-counter drug treatment for a symptom buy the wrong drug, or have a non-treatable condition, but *feel* the relief anyway. This would be something of a reason for such statistical findings between placebo and actual medicine, if Im not mistaken. If actual conditions were frequently mitigated by nothing but placebo, our medical science would be configured differently and would focus a great deal more on the mind to treat illnesses of the body.
Another point I can make is that of the dangers of a misinformed public. If you can place a homeopathic remedy on the shelf of your store without any indication that it is such, except that which is found in small print on the label itself, I think you are opening the door to a possible lawsuit. If some poor older individual were to go into the store looking for allergy medicine and grabbed one of these, then went home and had a serious allergic reaction, this ‘remedy’ would do nothing to help. It would be unusual for someone prone to allergies to not have Benedryl in the house, but those rare cases are where lawsuits and lawyers are right at home.
Lastly, I leave you with an audio clip from my visit to Walgreens today. I walked in around 6pm and spoke with the pharmacist, who offered me a few explanations as to why they were selling homeopathic remedies.
She claimed “In some cultures they would prefer the homeopathic, and homeopathic works on some people, it just hasnt been studied before by, you know, scientific organizations and stuff. If you go to Europe and stuff, they will actually prefer and ask for homeopathic. Its not really scam/not scam. They dont claim that it really does anything…”
Enjoy, and remember, READ THE LABELS! If the label says ‘homeopathy’, you are being duped. If you are ok with being sold placebos in place of real medications, then why spend your money at all??? Why not make your own sugar pills and convince yourself they are real medicines, or simply don’t take anything at all? Why allow greedy corporations and individuals to profit from your ignorance, and from the general psychology of the placebo effect?