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.


Anonymous said...

I hope you continue with this blog. I work in the pet industry and can tell you that quackery abounds. Some retailers believe it, others just make money from it.

August 11, 2009 at 2:56 AM
Amanda said...

Re the "FDA registered process" -- the equivalent Australian process is through the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and I know for that to get an official TGA number you only need to pay the fee and say it is relatively safe (and you can prove it if asked.) There is a clause there for "traditional rememdies" so you just have to show it has been used for 3 generations to qualify. So perhaps the FDA process is the same and is pretty much just an administrative thing without the need to prove any actual efficiacy. Of course homeopathy passes the safety test as it is just water!

But people see :"TGA approved" or whatever and assume that means it has had proper clinical trials etc etc.

August 12, 2009 at 3:45 PM
anti ob said...

The thing I love most about homeopathy is that the entire thing hinges on the presumption that water has some sort of memory mechanism.

Now really, I should just stop there. What else do I need to say? But the part of me that enjoys psychology as much as it does chemistry says "Ok, I'll bite; how does that work?" And the answer is "we don't know." They don't even _pretend_ to have an inkling of how such a thing could be remotely possible! How do you know its true then? Because homeopathy works. And how do you know homeopathy works? Well duh! Because water has _memory_ dude!

If water had memory and homeopathy worked, then everyone who accidentally swallowed a bit of ocean water would learn critical thinking from imbibing a homeopathic solution of me. I should be so lucky/

August 12, 2009 at 9:32 PM
anti ob said...

Trolling back through these posts, I saw something I missed the first time:

Seaside complaints'
'Injurious effects of fruits, especially more watery ones'
'Burning relieved by heat'

WTF?!? What, pray tell, is a "seaside complaint"? It cures sand up your crack? It cures cloudy days? Or "Burning relieved by heat"? You _do_ know what "burning" means, right?

On the other hand, medicine that treats surface injuries (bruises? cuts?) but only if they're caused by certain types of fruit? Now that totally makes sense. It WAS a wickedly sharp slice of mango...

January 1, 2010 at 11:47 AM

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