Thursday, August 20, 2009

Qi Beast

One of my favourite bloggers is Orac over at Respectful Insolence. He is a Doctor of humans and I saw him speak at TAM7 on the Anti Vax Vax panel.
Last month on his Friday woo special he did one on healing pets through various types of dumbness.

Here is the link to his excellent post.
Paw-erful woo for paw-erful pets

I thought I would look around and see who else is out there peddling wooness.
Typed into Google 'energy healing for dogs' to sees what I could see.
There is alot out there, its hard to know where to begin and how to approach it.

If it is done on humans, someone will do it for pets.
Reiki, is a popular one. Basically it is healing using energy by waving your hands over a sick person or animal. You don't even have to touch them or be in the country.
The Animal Reiki Source site is a mine of random illogical wishy washy feel good statements. It does my head in just to read it. I really have a hard time believing people can say and believe this stuff with a straight face. It embarrassing to read it.

They are very into animal communication, which is a whole another topic to explore.
Is is all a scam or do they really truly believe they can manipulate and transfer Qi, which is some vague spiritual energy that is everywhere and can be used for good.
(I haven't found a evil reiki site yet, mores the pity)

I found this site called "Energy Healing For Dogs".
I asked to be sent information so I'll see what I get.
Now he does say visit a vet before waving crystals around.
" Energy healing does not take the place of good medical diagnosis and treatment."
So what exactly does it do then? And why would I bother?

"The treatment needs to be agreed with the dog and the healer. When the dog agrees they become attentive to the energy and take in the healing."
How does it happen? How do you know when the dog has agreed, and if the dog continues to be a space cadet, do you blame the dog or the crystals?

"Distance healing energy sessions are also offered."
This is another favourite phase of mine which is used to all manner of woo.
We can do it over the phone! Is the phone transmitting the energy? Can it be measured?
Actually I don't know if they use the phone so maybe its just thinking hard about the animal and its complaint that they don't even need to know what it is.

'Practitioners, do not diagnose, and in fact, do not need to know what the health issue is.'
....ohh my head hurts

I know people want to do right for their pets, they want to feel close and a connection that is more than just being a feeding and walking servant.
We all anthropomorphise animals, its our way to try and understand and enjoy our pets more. Though when I see my dog eat its own crap, It reminds me that they are still beasts and not four legged babies that will one day grow up and clean up the toilet roll they chewed up and scattered through out the house. They never will, I will always have to sigh, crawl around picking up the pieces, while getting licked in the face.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Reply From The FDA

I wrote to the vet section of the FDA about the Homeopet company using their name in vain.
They wrote back.

Dear Coz:
Thank you for bringing this information to our attention. I have passed it along to our Compliance group. As you are aware, this product is not approved by FDA, but they may be implying that they follow Good Manufacturing Practice standards, which are publically accessible in the Code of Federal Regulations. The FDA database of approved animal drugs is at

"The cGMP requirements were established to be flexible in order to allow each manufacturer to decide individually how to best implement the necessary controls by using scientifically sound design, processing methods, and testing procedures"

From the FDA website.
That flexibilty seems like one way the quack merchants can still make their product and hint at FDA approval.

Monday, August 3, 2009

HOMEOPUPPY...Its Just Water

For my first post I thought I would cover something easy. Homeopathy still baffles me, in the fact that anyone can believe in it once they know what it is.

Years ago when I started getting into learning about the world of woo and quackery I looked up homeopathy as I didn't know what it was. I just lumped it into the whole Natropathy thing.
I steered away from all of that by instinct even though I didn't really know much about it.
Now I know too hurts my brain.

The first page I found was from a American Institute of Homeopathy. I was fair and read the proponents first. All very official looking and I clicked on the "What Is Homeopathy?' link.
I remember reading their explanation and my jaw dropped at the sheer lunacy of it all.
It still makes me go wow, huh and wft!

The basics of it are 'like cures like' so if you have a cough and something like wormwood in big doses produces a cough, then you should take a ultra dilute version of it to get better. The more diluted something is the stronger it is.

Which I'm glad never happened when I was working in a microbiology lab testing drinking water quality. We would do serial dilutions of a bacterial culture and plate them out. Counting the number of colonies on the dilute plates was easy then you just times the number by the dilution factor and you get a good idea of the amount in the original solution. If homeopathy worked we all would have been consumed and overwhelmed.
I for one welcome our Bacterial Overlords.

There are many pages on the web devoted to to explaining and debunking this.
To save space I'll link some of them. Definitely worth a read.

51 "Facts"
Skeptics Dictionary
UK Skeptics
Animal Homeopathy
Skeptical Dog

This website,one of many peddling this stuff, Only Natural Pet Store sells all manner of homeopathic and herbal remedies "treating" anxiety to asthma.

Their Worm Clear product states
" HomeoPet Wrm Clear is a broad spectrum wormer formulated to remove and prevent the infestation of round, hook and tape worms in dogs, cats, puppies and kittens."

What we use for the dogs and cats at the shelter are handy little products called Drontal Plus and Droncit. It to is a broad spectrum de wormer, difference is that it works. The active ingredients are Praziquantel, Pyrantal pamoate and Febantel, which are FDA approved.

"No known side effects from any of our products"

This is always one of my favourites line from the 'natural medicine' crowd. No side effects ever! Think about it. If it has no side effects then there is probably a real good chance that there are no effects either. All drugs have a possibility of adverse reactions. If they don't then well its probably just water.
Any good, reputable company should state all and any contraindications. Contraindications for Drontal- do not to give to pregnant animals as it may cause abortion and fetal abnormalities. Apart from that research shows its pretty safe, but it can have unwanted effects.

"Manufactured under a FDA registered process."

This statement I am very skeptical of. I looked through the FDA website and could not find anything about a homeopathic registered process. I did find a Warning Letter sent to the Homeopet company in 1997 telling them that their homeopathic products breached several Acts and to correct the deviations.
Use of these products by animal owners for the labeled claims could potentially endanger
the health of the animal by delaying timely,appropriate treatment by a licensed veterinary

They are still selling the products so I don't know what happened there. Last night I sent a letter to the FDA about these products and if they can do anything about them. I hope I get a reply.
Ziztur has some great posts on her wrassle with Homeopet.

Lets have a quick look at some of the ingredients.

Chenopodium Anthelminticum - 6c&30c
Another name is Jerusalem Oak.
According to a homepathic website is can be used in humans for
Comparative deafness to sound of voice, but great sensitiveness to sound, as of passing vechicles and also a shrinking from low tones'
'Enlargement of tonsils'
'Intense pain between angle of right shoulder-blade near spine, and through the chest.'

Various botany sites has the true botanical name is Chenopodium botrys and the ASPCA site mentions it may be toxic to dogs and cats.
Lucky it is diluted a tad.

6c is supposedly diluted one part in 10−12 or 1: 1000000000000

30c is 10
−60 That's alot of zeros

From Wiki--- Dilution advocated by Hahnemann for most purposes: on average, this would require giving two billion doses per second to six billion people for 4 billion years to deliver a single molecule of the original material to any patient.

Arsenicum Album - 6c&30c
This little wonder is used for
'Seaside complaints'
'Injurious effects of fruits, especially more watery ones'
'Burning relieved by heat'

Filix Mas - 6c&30c
This once actually mentions worms.
'Painless hiccough'
'Worm colic, with itching of nose, pale face, blue rings around eyes'

They are selling a 15ml bottle for $13.99. Nice profit margin.
For a dog between 20-100lb one bottle will last about 2 weeks. Thats one treatment of water with a hint of alcohol which won't kill anything, unless you drown them.
Depending on the environment and type of worm, animals can and will re infect themselves. Real dewormers do cost but they are a lot cheaper than quackery.
Spend your money on something that is proven, effective and repeatable not wishy washy woo.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Beast Woo- The Beginning

I went to The Amazing Meet!ng 7 in Las Vegas earlier this month. It was a convention on critical thinking and skepticism. There were many great speakers and several mentioned how daunting it can be to talk and write about these things, so find something that interests and concerns you and just do it. This inspired me to find a small corner of the world of woo and try to shed some light upon it.
I'm a vet tech and I work in a animal shelter. Lots of very cute puppies and kittens in my world.
I know several very good vets and have access to great scientific, real world facts about vet medicine and animals. Plus there is always the internet, which is both a curse and a blessing. Filtering out the woo and finding decent information can be a challenge.
So I hope with this blog that I can explain, demystify and educate a little.
I know I have a lot to learn and I'm hoping this will be a fun experience.

I have two fabulous dogs, Darwin and Roo. Life is a lot more fun with them around, and I promised them I would never call on a pet psychic to make them explain why they ate a hole in the wall. I really don't want to know.