Friday, January 22, 2010

Homeopathic “Medicine”...

You can find homeopathic medicines in any American drugstore, sitting on the shelf right next to real medicines.  Many of the homeopathic medicines use packaging and messaging that looks identical to that used on real medicines – a deliberate, and largely successful attempt to trick you into believing that the homeopathic medicines are real medicines.  Others make claims for their benefits (or efficacy, to use the conventional term) that sound exaggerated, as they are – but many consumers believe that the claims must be true, else the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) wouldn't allow them to say it.  The FDA, after all, closely regulates all drugs.

Therein lies the rub.  Homeopathic medicines are not drugs under U.S. law.  When the FDA was formed, homeopathic medicines were specifically excluded (along with a few other things, but those are stories for another day).  This was a political accomodation made to get the legislation passed, and the decision has never been revisited.

Homeopathic “medicines” can make whatever claim they want to about their efficacy.  The FDA does not check them, nor does anyone else.  The only restriction or regulation on homeopathic medicines is that they can't be dangerous – but there's not much chance of that, as they have virtually no active ingredients.

While the truth about homeopathic medicines is widely known, and information about them is readily available, there are still millions of people who swear by their usefulness, believe in their efficacy, and spend billions of dollars ever year on them.  That completely blows my mind.  Spending money on homeopathic medicine is like burning money, but without the entertainment value.

The British Homeopathic Society describes how homeopathic medicines are made.  If you have even the slightest regard for science, this should be enough to convince you of their fraud.  There's more stuff, equally ludicrous, elsewhere on their site.  Here Matt Parker, writing on the London Times, relates his introduction to homeopathic medicine.  And here's a nice little skit pointing out the absurdities of homeopathic medical “practice”:

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