Update: Homeopathy Fail
It seems that the National Health Service of the United Kingdom and Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council aren’t the only ones questioning the effectiveness of homeopathy. Now the FDA has decided to hold a a public hearing about it. They may be late to the party, but at least they showed up.
Behind the Practice of Homeopathy
Homeopathy, as you may recall, is the practice of using diluted contaminants to treat a health condition. As the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NIH) points out, the practice revolves around two theories.
One is that “like cures like,” or take the poison that would could serious harm at a higher dosage. The second is the “law of minimum dose,” or a lower dose means greater effectiveness. That sounds like a gross misinterpretation of Paracelsus who reminds us that,
“Only the dose makes the poison.”
I think he meant the opposite interpretation than homeopathy. Even from a logical point-of-view, homeopathy makes no sense whatsoever. The fact that it has been around for 200 years does not legitimize it in the least. Astrology has been around longer, and you know the effectiveness of that practice.
Homeopathic “remedies” fall into the same stinky bin of snake oil as detox products. The deception is one thing. But as the NIH warns,
“Although people sometimes assume that all homeopathic remedies are highly diluted and therefore unlikely to cause harm, some products labeled as homeopathic can contain substantial amounts of active ingredients and therefore could cause side effects and drug interactions.“
And that’s huge. What’s more curious though is how the FDA currently looks at homeopathy. They are regulated, not unlike dietary supplements. Yet, the agency does not test them for safety or effectiveness despite the fact that they are marketed as remedies. It truly is a matter of buyer beware.
And that’s where it gets scary. According to a 2007 National Health Interview Survey, nearly 4 million adults and and 910,000 children used homeopathy in the previous year. We can only hope that these hearings will spark some more definitive action by the FDA. It’s time.