Tag Archives: homeopathy

Is a homeopathic laugh really funny?

Or is it just a watered down joke?

I found a small package of “medicine” recently in the desk drawer of a former employee and was about to toss it aside as I cleaned out the desk for a new employee. Then I noticed the small word “homeopathic” on it and couldn’t resist looking it over a little more closely.

At first glance, you see this very medicine-like name: Oscillococcinum. Then the “Flu-Like Symptoms” listed at the top, followed by those symptoms: body aches, headache, fever, chills, fatigue.Boiron2


It lists the benefits: non-drowsy, no side effects, no drug interactions, and works naturally with your body. The words “homeopathic medicine” is subdued, but in all caps. But the fascinating thing here is the claim the package makes: “reduces duration and severity of flu symptoms.”

That has to be worth trying. What can a medicine that “reduces duration and severity of flu symptoms” be worth? Walgreens sells this very package for $15.00.

So why is that bad? If it truly relieves the symptoms, can you put a price tag on it?

Well… it’s pure pseudoscience. Essentially, you’re buying confectioner’s sugar for for $2.50 per gram. That should really have been the title of this post: “Walgreen’s sells confectioner’s sugar for $2.50 per gram.” Except it isn’t just Walgreens. CVS sells it. Walmart sells it.

So what’s in it? Let’s look at the back of the package.


“Active ingredient” is listed as “Anas barbariae hepatis […] to reduce the duration and severity of flu-like symptoms.”Boiron1

The amount of this “active ingredient” is listed as 200CK HPUS. That translates to¬†1 part in 100^200 -that is a 1 followed by 400 zeroes.

Let me be clear: that’s 1 part in a solution that is larger than our solar system. In fact, for one single molecule of “Anas barbariae hepatis” to be present, the solution would need to be much larger than the known universe! And that’s a good thing if you can read Latin. “Anas barbariae hepatis” is essentially a Barbary duck heart that has rotted in a jar mixed with pancreatic juice and glucose.

But if ever taken this “medicine” I promise you ingested no Barbary duck heart -so if you vomited a little in the back of your throat reading this, you needn’t worry about swallowing it twice!

The tell-tale sign that it’s all good is the “inactive ingredients” and the “Other information” sections. Listed are lactose and sucrose and a note that “each 0.04 oz does (1 g) contains 1 g of sugar.”

It’s just sugar. Nothing else.

And it costs $15.00 at your local chain pharmacy.


FTC Cracking Down on “Complementary Alternative Medicine” Blogs?

If so, this is good news for consumers. Frauds like Kevin Trudeau have been peddling their snake oil to anyone willing to shell out the bucks, often under the ironic guise of being “consumer watchdogs,” protecting consumers from “the establishment” and “big pharma.”

Trudeau is the obvious con artist extraordinaire among the CAM crowd, but there are many more, often operating websites that are put together that resemble personal blogs but are designed to be money-making machines where click-thrus earn advertising revenue or, more to the point, the blogger gets a kick-back, free sample, or payment for favorably reviewing a product. The latest FTC ruling will affect these bloggers by demanding disclosure of these “freebies and payments” and will ensure that hyped up claims must be backed.

The Federal Trade Commission on Monday took steps to make product information and online reviews more accurate for consumers, regulating blogging for the first time and mandating that testimonials reflect typical results.

The FTC will require that writers on the Web clearly disclose any freebies or payments they get from companies for reviewing their products. The commission also said advertisers featuring testimonials that claim dramatic results cannot hide behind disclaimers that the results aren’t typical[1].

In case you were wanting to look at the official federal guidelines, here’s the PDF file straight from the .gov itself.

Only time will tell if it has any appreciable affect on scam sites and unethical bloggers of homeopathic nonsense, chiropractic, anti-vaccine nutters, and other assorted CAM proponents. Perhaps this will give skeptics and skeptical bloggers a tool in countering these scams and potentially harmful blogs and sites if we have the ability to report potential violators and violations of FTC guidelines.

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References and Notes:
  1. FTC: Bloggers, testimonials need better disclosure [AP via Google] []