Episode Twenty One: Homeopathy, Lies About Magic Potions


Dwayne: My Experience with Homeopathy

I have never taken homeopathic products. Nobody showed that they are effective. So, I never had any reason to think that they were. And once I found out what homeopathy was, I knew that they could not possibly be effective.

However, I have seen many homeopathic products for sale at various pharmacies. Virtually every pharmacy I have been to during the last few years has at least a few homeopathic products. Which are placed alongside pharmaceutical medicine as though3 it too was somehow equivalent to medicine.

Recently, I decided that I should try to do something about this. But first I decided to try to find out what the pharmacies would tell me if I asked them what these homeopathic products are and how they work.

So, one day I took a packet of homeopathic jet lag pills to the counter and asked the salesperson what homeopathy is. I knew what it was, but I pretended that I did not.

She was clearly not sure herself. Nonetheless, she told me that she thought it was like a natural medicine.

Here is how you make actual natural remedies. Notice that the substance is present.

I found this to be appalling! So, I confronted her and said that is not at all what it is. That in fact, it is not medicine. I told her what it actually is and that she should not be telling anyone that it is medicine. And that she is misleading customers and should know what homeopathy is. And that she should know better than to mislead her customers.

She took offense at this and told me to calm down and that if I did not, I should leave. Even though I was in no way abusive or threatening. Although I was clearly angry that they were selling such magic potions as if it were real medicine.

I have since contacted several other pharmacies by phone and asked them what homeopathy is. Most of the staff there just think it is a natural remedy. Although some of the managers know it is not. But they are no more honest about it than their staff.

Nor was the homeopathic consultant working at one pharmacy I contacted. Or any other homeopathic practitioner I have spoken to.

The staff mostly seemed to think it was a natural remedy. It seems that they may all be told to say this. Even when some of these companies’ managers know better.

I have caught at least one manager aiding and abetting lies! When I talked to this branch manager and it turned out she knew what homeopathy was. I told her that her staff did not and told me it was a natural remedy. Which she knew it is not. She gave me an accurate summary of how it works.

Did she care that her staff was telling me falsehoods? No. she assured me she would tell her staff and that if I went in another time they would know. I intend to find out. But, for now, I do not believe her.

The homeopathic consultant working at one particular pharmacy took offense at me pointing out that her claims are rubbish. And tried to evade explaining how “minute” a quantity of the “ingredient” was in the homeopathic preparation.

When confronted, she attempted to further evade and pretend that I was at fault. As though I was the one at fault for her lies and evasions and should not point out that they are lies and evasions.

I have talked to pharmacists at one company that sells a lot of this crap online and she tried to defend homeopathy. Even after I got her to admit that it is not science. I got her to admit that it is not medicine either. She tried to insist that it is nonetheless not magic and that it works.

But it is magic. If it is not based on science and is not actual medicine, then it is alternative medicine without any basis in reality.

Is it similar where you live? I would bet so. I know for a fact that many pharmacies in the US do not train their staff to inform customers on what homeopathy is. Many of these staff also seem to think it is natural medicine.

If pharmacies have to lie to sell homeopathy, they should choose not to sell it.

Do companies in your country give the same kind of defense of homeopathy as I have talked about here? You can bet they do! I know for a fact that others have encountered this kind of indefensible nonsense.

Now, let us look at how much homeopathic stuff there is in pharmacies in New Zealand: Not a great deal in most places. It seems that most pharmacies do not see much value in selling many homeopathic products. Most of the ones which are sold are for relatively mild conditions such as a cold or jet lag.

New Zealand has an organization known as the Pharmacy Council. This enforces the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act.

In fact, the Pharmacy Council has a Code of Ethics which requires pharmacies not to mislead their customers about alternative medicine, including homeopathy.

My understanding, which the Council seems to back up, is that the Code of Ethics requires that pharmacies not allege efficacy which cannot be supported. But I know in practice that pharmacies to allege efficacy which cannot be supported.

This is what I intend to investigate. And see if the Council will crack down on pharmacies selling homeopathic products in a misleading manner. Especially when they are lying to their customers.

There is also the Commerce Commission, which deals with false and/or misleading claims made in regards to commercial products or services. But, in my country they tend to only investigate issues when enough people have complained.

I wonder if there are similar options in other regions of the world. It might be. And if you want to combat this kind of thing where you are, then this might be something you want to investigate.

We will return to what we should do about it in a little bit.

So, that is my experiences and some of what I figured out I need to do. I will hand it back to my lovely wife now.

Ashna: Here is the template he will use when he complains to the Pharmacy Council. It summarizes many of the key issues here.

Homeopathic products are typically packaged in a very misleading way. Often their packing is designed to suggest it is somehow equivalent to actual medicine. Or at least some viable alternative pharmaceutical medicine. Often the packaging presents the homeopathic product as a viable natural remedy.

No side effects you say? You mean no effects of any kind…

Sometimes it vaguely mentions “clinical trials”. Without mentioning that no valid trial or scientific study of homeopathic medicine has ever had positive results indicative of any efficacy of homeopathic products. And several have shown that they are no more effective than a placebo.

The product web pages and pamphlets are often more misleading. They are prone to allude to studies and trials too. But evade the reality that no such studies support their claims.

This is highly misleading and should be considered false advertising. Homeopathy is not a “natural medicine”. It is water which allegedly has magic powers. They are effectively packaging a magic healing potion and then trying to give the impression that it is equivalent to medicine.

It is equally misleading to refer to trials or studies as if they support their case. When no such things have ever existed when it comes to homeopathy. And given homeopathy is pseudoscience, we know that no such study or trial ever will.

In reality, homeopathy does not and cannot work. Except as a feel-good placebo.

Does the packaging say that? No. It talks about active ingredients. Which is a lie. The “active ingredients” are either not present in the product or present in such small quantities as to have no possible effect on the patient.

That is what it means to be homeopathic. Either the “ingredients” have been diluted to the point that they are not present, or it is not truly homeopathic.

So, which is it? Is this stuff homeopathic or does it contain the active ingredient? If it is homeopathic it does not contain the ingredient and it is a lie to call it an ingredient. If it contains the ingredient, then it is not homeopathic!

So, either way, the packaging is a lie.

It pretends that there are some magical means by which it can have any non-placebo effect. And then claims to have ingredients that it could not possibly have in any useful quantities if it is truly homeopathic!

Why is this allowed? It is fraud and should not be allowed.

But, if these products are to be sold, then the people selling them must be honest about them. And this includes pharmacies. They need to tell their customers what they are selling them. But this does not happen.

If you ask the staff at a pharmacy what “homeopathy” is, they will most likely say “oh, it is natural”. Well, no, it isn’t. It is a magic potion and magic does not work.

Even though the ingredient is not in the product, the water remembers that it was there. But that is not how reality works. We know this. We know water does not have memory.

If it did, it would remember all the poo, arsenic, lead, mud, deadly pathogens and other substances. Not just the stuff we claim treats ailments. And it would probably be highly unsafe to drink almost all the water on the planet!

If water did have memory, then all these arsenic trioxide dilutions you are giving people would have killed someone by now. If water has memory, then it will not remember only the healing properties you pretend arsenic trioxide has, but the deadly properties too. The fact that people do not seem to die after taking this stuff seems to suggest the memory effect is not real.

If water had memory, then virtually all of it would be as deadly as this.

Either something has memory it does not. It cannot have selective memory for only the properties you want it to have. Water cannot remember only the useful properties of a substance, while failing to remember the toxic properties.

We know water has no properties which allow water memory. And water memory would violate almost everything we know about atomic physics and chemistry. It is entirely impossible.

Remember when I said that they use alcohol sometimes?  Well, alcohol does not have memory either. Nor does the sugar which makes up homeopathic pills. It does not matter what your treatments are made of, no substance has this magical power of memory. And we know it is not possible that any substance ever could.

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