On November 19 I reported that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ruled that homeopathic “medicines”, to be advertised as efficacious, must have been scientifically tested, like all drugs, to show that they are indeed useful. (See the FTC statement and link to longer report here).
Well, of course the quacks couldn’t let that one rest, and Orac, in a deliciously splenetic post at Respectful Insolence (“Homeopaths respond to the FTC’s new position on homeopatrhy. The Universe laughs”, describes and then demolishes the pathetic attempt of The American Homeopathic Institute to defend their quackery and debunk the FTC’s ruling. It’s not surprising that their defense is ineffably lame, especially the claims that homeopathy really has been scientifically tested and that those who questioned it (even in formal reports) were biased and “pseudoscientific.” Of course it’s the homeopaths themselves who fit those terms, as well as the people who use these nostrums.
Do read Orac’s piece; it will bring you up to speed on the controversy. I’ll just show the last paragraph:
Ya gotta love homeopaths. They’re deluded quacks, and their overwrought language, coupled with the fact that this statement was written by homeopaths, perfectly encapsulates the nonsensical thinking behind homeopathy.
As I’ve pointed out before, Whole Foods, that bastion of overpriced but “healthy” foodstuffs, sells homeopathic nostrums. They even have a defense of homeopathic remedies on the Whole Foods blog. An excerpt, with my comments in bold:
Homeopathy has a long history of use all over the world [JAC: So has petitionary prayer for healing!]:
- Homeopathy comes from the Greek words homeo meaning “similar” and pathos meaning “suffering.” It was first used by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann in 1796.
- Homeopathic medicines are therapeutically active [JAC: no evidence for that!]micro-doses of mineral, botanical, and biological substances. Similar to other over-the-counter medicines, homeopathic medicines can treat acute health conditions such as allergies, coughs, colds and flu symptoms.
- Homeopathic medicines are regulated as drugs by the FDA and are made according to the specifications of the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS), which lists approximately 1,280 medicines.
- eye drops and suppositories. [JAC: They’re “regulated”, but not for “safety and effectiveness”; see here. CVS’s statement is misleading.]
The homeopathic healing concept can be seen in every day examples and homeopathic medicines are available in a variety of forms:
- If one chops several onions in a small kitchen, one will experience symptoms such as spasmodic sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes. All these symptoms will be improved by breathing fresh air. A patient experiencing these same symptoms, including feeling better when breathing fresh air, whether caused by allergy or a cold, will be relieved by a homeopathic preparation of the onion also known as Allium cepa. It is as if a very small amount of the onion helped the body to react better against symptoms of cold or allergy similar to those caused by the onion. [JAC: This is the bogus “theory” of homeopathy: a very small—indeed, nonexistent—dose of something that replicates your symptoms will actually cure you.]
- Sometimes more than one medicine is needed for treatment. These combinations are available in a variety of dosage forms such as tablets, gels, creams, syrups, eye drops and suppositories.
I’ve sent this tweet to them (with a shortened link to the FTC summary), and perhaps, if you use Twitter, you could do it as well. I wonder if they’d respond.
The CVS pharmacy chain in the US (which pioneered health consciousness by stopping their sale of cigarettes) also sells homeopathic remedies. Here’s a screenshot of some of them.
Despite a social media campaign against CVS led by Yvette d’Entremont, CVS didn’t back down and didn’t comment. Ergo another tweet:
If you dislike this kind of woo (and remember, taking homeopathic drugs instead of scientific medicine can actually be harmful), you might follow suit.