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Medicine United States Science

The US Government is Finally Telling People that Homeopathy is a Sham (vox.com) 297

Not a good news for people who trust homeopathic drugs. The Federal Trade Commission has issued an enforcement policy statement that requires over-the-counter (OTC) homeopathic drugs and products makers to disclose in their advertisement and labeling that there is no evidence that Homeopathic products are effective and also mention that modern medical experts don't recognize any claims of effectiveness only based on homeopathic theories. From a report on Vox: This FTC ruling is definitely a step in the right direction of raising awareness about the lack of evidence behind homeopathy. "This is a real victory for reason, science, and the health of the American people," said Michael De Dora, public policy director for the Center for Inquiry, a science-based advocacy and education group that's been pushing for more homeopathy oversight. "The FTC has made the right decision to hold manufacturers accountable for the absolutely baseless assertions they make about homeopathic products." But it doesn't mean these "medicines" will disappear from store shelves. The FTC only has the right to crack down on misleading marketing claims, and if the makers of homeopathic remedies clearly state that their products are based on no science, they can still sell them.
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The US Government is Finally Telling People that Homeopathy is a Sham

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  • by HumanWiki ( 4493803 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @04:03PM (#53317801)

    To the rest of us.. Years ago..

    • by The-Ixian ( 168184 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @04:05PM (#53317825)

      Next thing you know, the govmint will require news sources to fact check!

      • by Hope Thelps ( 322083 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @05:21PM (#53318493)

        Next thing you know, the govmint will require news sources to fact check!

        Hell no, from there it's a short slippery slope to requiring them to spellcheck and where would that leave Slashdot?

        • Hell no, from there it's a short slippery slope to requiring them to spellcheck and where would that leave Slashdot?

          Still trying to decide what language it's published in?

    • oh no (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @04:17PM (#53317963) Homepage Journal

      Thanks for catching up!! To the rest of us.. Years ago..

      No. There is a huge proportion of US society that is hoodwinked by these fake nostrums. The bloody veterinarian here in town sells that crap FFS. They're the only vet within 50 miles, too. There a store here, a "healthfood store" that sells all manner of that shite.

      It's everywhere. I'm glad you're smart enough to know better, and yes, a lot of others are too, but that still leaves a huge proportion of the population. The government is very late to this party, and huge harm has been done because of that, but join the party they should -- it's important.

      • The bloody veterinarian here in town sells that crap. There's a store here, a "healthfood store" that sells all manner...

        I think they're selling the placebo effect. The vet may actually be selling it to placebo (sorry for using it as an adj.) calm anxieties of the pet owner. I don't think placebos work as well if you slap a placebo label on a sugar pill.

      • I'd say that anyone credulous enough to believe in homeopathy has mostly themselves to blame (and they'll ignore that the government as well as scientists say it is useless).

        It does make a good placebo, though. Note that placebos work best when they are believed in, described as potent, or cost more -- so it is quite reasonable for a doctor to prescribe a homeopathic medicine for someone with a cold who insists on being prescribed something (better than giving them antibiotics as a placebo).

    • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

      just wait.
      some libertarian will try to say its a business's right to lie or something.

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      The only thing is, some medicines are falsely labeled homeopathic. I have no idea why, but I've a quite effective low carbohydrate cough syrup that's labeled homeopathic. I almost avoided buying it, but the clerk convinced me that it actually was real medicine that was just labeled homeopathic. (I think it works by being a thick orange+something flavored syrup. Don't know how they make the syrup, but it's not sugar based. It thins out the mucus quite well, however, and doesn't taste terrible. Whiskey

  • Not surprised (Score:5, Informative)

    by slazzy ( 864185 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @04:05PM (#53317827) Homepage Journal
    I've known a lot of people who try homeopathic treatments, some of them work but they always seem like a scam. We did a homeopathic wart treatment for my son. It worked great, but the $200 'tincture' was basically just alcohol with some herbs and shit in it. The next time he had a wart on the other foot, we did the same thing but instead bought a 99 cent bottle of alcohol to put on the bandaid and it worked just as well.
    • The FTC only has the right to crack down on misleading marketing claims, and if the makers of homeopathic remedies clearly state that their products are based on no science, they can still sell them..

      I can see it now; "Anecdotal evidence from scientific studies indicates the potential effectiveness of our remedy"

      • Re:Not surprised (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Dorianny ( 1847922 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @05:37PM (#53318611) Journal

        The FTC only has the right to crack down on misleading marketing claims, and if the makers of homeopathic remedies clearly state that their products are based on no science, they can still sell them..

        I can see it now; "Anecdotal evidence from scientific studies indicates the potential effectiveness of our remedy"

        The homeopathic crowd is largely the Big pharma Conspiracy theory types. The snake-oil salesman are going to offer the fact that the FTC is after them as proof that their stuff works and Government is trying to shut them down to protect the pharmaceutical industry

      • It probably didn't even work in that one case. Usually things that promise to get rid of colds only work because the cold was going to go away on its own anyways, like they always do, but then somebody takes the medication to "cure" it, and when the cold is gone, they get confirmation bias.

        Likewise, warts do actually go away on their own in many cases, and furthermore, alcohol alone isn't enough to get rid of a wart (the "bump" you see on your skin is already dead, and alcohol will just clean the top of it

    • Essentially - and my wife is completely obsessed with one particular practicioner, which is why I got familiar with this - the whole homeopathic preparation is some small amount of a "good thing" like an essential oil. Then they put in so much distilled water that there probably isn't a single molecule of the "good thing" in the solution dose you get. The idea behind it is that there is some kind of spiritual residue of the good stuff in the resulting "solution". Then they package it - whether it's in a

      • The problem is ... things advertised as homeopathic are not always "just water." Sometimes, it's not diluted *that* much. And some "homeopathic" remedies include *non-diluted* ingredients that I've seen (e.g., herbs).

        It gets confusing, because the real "homeopathy" with the whole "the less there is, the more powerful" thing is weird. But when "homeopathic" remedies include actual active ingredients that DO do things... that lends credibility to "homeopathy" if someone doesn't actually know any better.

        It

        • by imidan ( 559239 )

          The problem is ... things advertised as homeopathic are not always "just water."

          Furthermore, sometimes the other stuff in the potion can actually be bad for you. Studies have found homeopathic potions contaminated with heavy metals and microorganisms that could cause sickness or make it worse. Usually, the dose of this stuff is small enough that it probably won't hurt you, but the point is, the best that can be said about homeopathics isn't "at least it's just water."

        • by hey! ( 33014 )

          Yes. This is what marketers refer to as "communication", which is pretty much the polar opposite to what an engineer would consider "communication" -- the transfer of an unambiguous piece of information from one party to another.

          In marketing "communication" is triggering behavior by exploiting associations people have. So while actual homeopathic preparations have at least one virtue -- they consist of harmless water -- what is marketed as "homeopathic" is in fact anyone's guess.

      • My last wife bought into that crap, and more.

        I'm single now, but I now have a firm rule: I will not date or marry anyone who believe in alternative medicine (except possibly chiropractors for back pain). The whole thing is a giant scam, and suckers people into spending huge amounts of money on snake oil.

        • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @05:03PM (#53318341) Homepage Journal

          My current GF (who is, of all things, an orthodontist) is into this shit. She's trying to get me off of my meds and onto "red rice yeast".

          You'd think that someone who went to three major dental schools would know better.

          • by gtall ( 79522 )

            I know a dentist who thought Chiropractors were a good thing. I had the misfortune of going along on a visit of his to one. The fellow had my friend lie on his side and started coming down with all his weight on him. And this C. was about 6'4" and easily 250 lbs. My friend had thrown out his lower back. The general advice by real doctors is take an analgesic to relax the muscles, lie on your stomach for a day, gingerly get back on your feet over the course of a week or two. He's lucky that C. didn't fractur

            • There are some really good chiropractors though.
              I also, just like you, have some anecdotal evidence to prove my point.
          • You'd think that someone who went to three major dental schools would know better.

            Did the first two not take?

            • by sconeu ( 64226 )

              Pardon me. Two major dental schools.

              UCLA - undergrad
              Northwestern - Dental
              Temple - Ortho

              I kept adding UCLA into the mix.

      • the whole homeopathic preparation is some small amount of a "good thing" like an essential oil.

        Nope. It's actually a small amount of a bad thing.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

        Why san't they just throw a lump of it in the sea and cure all known diseases forever?

    • . It worked great, but the $200 'tincture' was basically just alcohol with some herbs and shit in it.

      It was more likely just a $200 bottle of alcohol. Past a certain point, no molecules of the original substance should be present in the dilution.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • by wjcofkc ( 964165 )
      Then it was not homeopathy. Homeopathy does not contain "herbs and shit". Homeopathy is based on the crackpot idea that you can take something, potentially poisonous, dilute it, then dilute it again. and again until nothing is left other than pure water that happens to retain the "molecular memory" of only medicinal properties. It makes no sense. At least with "herbs and shit" you have actual chemical components that humans have been screwing around with for thousands of years.
      • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

        I'm not the OP you responded to, but my experience matches theirs. I get that the homeopathic principle is based on dilution, but I've seen stuff marketed as "homeopathic" that's definitely not diluted, and is instead basically a regular strength herbal remedy. I know that doesn't line up with your definition, but that kind of stuff is out there.

        • by Imrik ( 148191 )

          Two different definitions for the same word, one is derived from ancient herbal wisdom, one is pure idiocy.

      • by XXongo ( 3986865 )
        Close. Homeopathy, actually, is based on the principle that if a malady has X symptoms, then a drug (or herb) that produces those symptoms, if taken in low dose, will be effective against that malady. That's homeopathy, in a nutshell.

        They have added to that the additional theory that this remedy will get even more effective as the dose gets lower (and gone on to take that crackpot idea to absurd lengths). But the actual "homeo" part of homeopathy is the first statement: to cure a malady, use something th

    • Next time just cut a small square of duct tape and put that over it. Take it off about a week later, wart will be gone. Proven to work. Costs you almost nothing, and zero if you had a roll of duct tape around already.
    • You know that eventually the body is able to deal with warts, so they just go away with no treatment, right? The alcohol probably did nothing, just like the "homeopathic" treatment did nothing.

      Actually, I wonder what evidence there is that any of the treatments for warts actually do anything? Why would freezing off one wart affect an infection that is spread throughout the body?

    • It worked great, but the $200 'tincture' was basically just alcohol with some herbs and shit in it.

      Don't know about the herbs, but I'm pretty sure tincture isn't supposed to have shit in it. I don't want to know how *that's* supposed to work...

    • by dj245 ( 732906 )

      I've known a lot of people who try homeopathic treatments, some of them work but they always seem like a scam. We did a homeopathic wart treatment for my son. It worked great, but the $200 'tincture' was basically just alcohol with some herbs and shit in it. The next time he had a wart on the other foot, we did the same thing but instead bought a 99 cent bottle of alcohol to put on the bandaid and it worked just as well.

      My wife is not originally from this country and buys 'herbal' products all the time without realizing it. The national government of her birth country doesn't put up with this shit, it is illegal there. My wife isn't a chemist, the packaging looks nice and has comforting words like 'organic' and 'natural', and many of these products are on the shelf right next to the real medicine. It is far too easy for a regular person to unknowingly buy snake oil.

    • "We did a homeopathic wart treatment for my son. It worked great, but the $200 'tincture' was basically just alcohol with some herbs and shit in it."

      If it was really an homeopathic scam, then no, you didn't get "some herbs and shit in it", just pure alcohol.

  • The sad part (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    People who believe in homeopathy also tend to believe that the government, big pharma, and these "experts" are all working together to funnel money into their own pockets, so "of course they're going to lie and say that homeopathy is fake because they want us to buy their overpriced poisons!"

  • great news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gravewax ( 4772409 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @04:14PM (#53317919)
    how the fuck is it "Not good news for people who trust homeopathic drugs."? so telling people the truth because it goes against their misguided beliefs is bad news? personally I will take a dose of truth over being continually deceived any day.
    • Crazy people make themselves sick by thinking they are sick. To get better they buy worthless shit that makes them think they will get better. Presto! Their insanity cures the physical malady that their insanity manifested initially. Only problem is, the same belief that made them well will make them sick again eventually, especially since it keeps getting exercised and made stronger through use, just like a muscle.

    • If the news were delivered by Professor Farnsworth, it would always be "Good News, Everyone".
  • https://www.theguardian.com/sc... [theguardian.com]

    Placebo effect works even if patients know they're getting a sham drug

    So even if homeopathy is only a way of achieving a placebo effect, it is making a positive contribution to the health of the nation. The fact that it is mumbo-jumbo winds up scientific fundamentalists, who HATE the fact that placebos work. Let's stop buggering about targeting this sort of issue, and address the real scandals out there. (That said, homeopathic treatment for serious diseases where there is a

    • So even if homeopathy is only a way of achieving a placebo effect, it is making a positive contribution to the health of the nation. The fact that it is mumbo-jumbo winds up scientific fundamentalists, who HATE the fact that placebos work.

      What the fuck is a "science fundamantalist"? Scientists documented the placebo effect so I doubt scintists hate the fact it works. That's why junk stuff like homeopathy are described as "no better than a placebo". You may as well just take sugar pills. Personally I think p

      • 'What the fuck is a "science fundamantalist"?'

        This blog will give you a taste.

        https://philosophyisnotaluxury... [philosophy...luxury.com]

        The fascinating thing about homeopathy is that it is available in the UK free on the NHS. This really upsets our science fundamentalists, who insist that medicine should be 'evidence based' - but then reject the idea that homeopathy as a means of triggering the placebo effect IS evidence based.

        'You literally contradicted yourself there. So what do you mean?'

        Er - no. The real scandals out there are

  • It's about time!

    I generally don't need the government, ESPECIALLY the Fed, telling me what I can or can't buy. But it is certainly reasonable to place warnings on things like this to inform the public.

    Of course, in California, EVERYTHING seems to cause cancer if you believe the countless thousands of warnings they require on everything. Even the Christmas lights I bought last year have that warning for some unknown reason (I joke not.... and of course I don't live in CA). So there is a balance.

    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      Welcome to about 10 years ago:

      http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/h... [www.nhs.uk]

      (That's the official UK health service site, by the way... the free NHS service open to all...)

      Have you started warning about tarot reader, psychics and other frauds yet? We've been doing that for years too.

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @04:21PM (#53317997)

    Is there any overlap there?

    My built-in ideology meter says homeopathy people lean way left and Trump people mostly right.

    Yet there seems to be kind of a similar level of denial of reality in both camps.

    • by Macdude ( 23507 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @06:01PM (#53318777)

      When you go to the extreme left and the extreme right they tend to join up together. It turns out the political continuum is not a line, but a circle.

      • by Imrik ( 148191 )

        Which is why the socialists and anarchists end up protesting together around here...

    • by kirkb ( 158552 )

      I think the Trump fans would resent the government for offering any sort of health care, firebomb the clinic for employing female or minority workers, then wait for Jesus to heal the ailment.

  • by Cajun Hell ( 725246 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @04:26PM (#53318041) Homepage Journal

    there is no evidence that Homeopathic products are effective

    Evidence, schmevidence. What does your faith tell you? You're not going to trust your life and your body to people who don't have the right feelings, are you?

    • Offtopic:
      "Evidence, shmevidence"
      You can't go wrong with shma-reduplication!

      Since this is to you, what is a "cajun riot"?
      When spices run out in New Orleans? :D

  • if you believe in it.
  • I'm sure that many followers of homeopathy will assume that Big Government is in collusion with Big Pharma here.

    Also let's all make sure to keep the distinction between "herbalism", which is about natural-source drugs, and "homeopathy", which is about less being more somehow. They are often lumped together.
    • I have to agree with your last statement. I think it's a bit self-defeating to lump herbalism under homeopathy. For instance, many herbs do in fact have valid scientific evidence to back up their efficacy for treating certain ailments. Peppermint, calendula, ginger, chamomile, etc. Chew on a single leaf of acmella oleracea and you'll immediately recognize that it can be used as a light-duty anesthetic, which is why leaves/flowers were pressed to produce an oil to make the folk anesthetic "jambu" for treatin
  • by wjcofkc ( 964165 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @04:36PM (#53318117)
    Contrary to what many in this thread are assuming, homeopathic "remedies" do not contain anything but water. Homeopathy is based on the crackpot idea that you can take something, potentially poisonous, dilute it, then dilute it again. and again until nothing is left other than pure water that happens to retain the "molecular memory" of only medicinal properties. It makes no sense. At least with "herbs and shit" you have actual chemical components that humans have been screwing around with for thousands of years. This does not change the fact that many so called homeopathic remedies are marketed as such while containing something other than water. Typically it is pure grain alcohol. I worked at a few GNC stores back in the 90's. On one day my boss and I got drunk off of a few drops of some flu "remedy". I made like $700 in commision that day.
    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @06:29PM (#53318967) Homepage Journal

      Contrary to what many in this thread are assuming, homeopathic "remedies" do not contain anything but water. Homeopathy is based on the crackpot idea that you can take something, potentially poisonous, dilute it, then dilute it again. and again until nothing is left other than pure water that happens to retain the "molecular memory" of only medicinal properties. It makes no sense.

      Well, if you'd ever read Frazer's seminal anthropology-of-religion book, The Golden Bough, you'd recognize this nonsense as sympathetic magic -- in particular what he calls the "Law of Contact or Contagion". There's also an element of the law of similarity; in this case rather than like causing like (the pounding of a rain dance causing rain), you have like cures like.

      In a European context people are reluctant to call homeopathy magic because it's practiced by supposedly educated white people, but in principle the theory isn't that different from something you'd hear from a shaman; although if the witch doctor practices folk herbalism he probably has a better chance of curing you. Of course an actual homeopathic remedy is less likely to make you sicker.

      • Well, if you'd ever read Frazer's seminal anthropology-of-religion book, The Golden Bough, you'd recognize this nonsense as sympathetic magic -- in particular what he calls the "Law of Contact or Contagion". There's also an element of the law of similarity; in this case rather than like causing like (the pounding of a rain dance causing rain), you have like cures like.

        I have problems with that book because it's so old, its anthropology is out of date, and sometimes based on completely wrong information. That is, we've learned a lot about other cultures since then, and the field has become more rigorous.
        I wish there were a version that were more up to date, because the general concept of the book is good.

        • by hey! ( 33014 )

          Sure, updating sounds like it'd be a great project. Expecting it to be reliable after a hundred and twenty years would be too much. You wouldn't expect medical texts from 1890 to be trustworthy either.

          • The closest I've seen is History of Religious Ideas by Mircea Eliade, but I feel like it still doesn't quite make it all the way. Somewhat informal, still.
            • by hey! ( 33014 )

              Thanks for the pointer. Looks like the kindle version for volume 1 is only $15, which is reasonable for a textbook.

  • by Pseudonymous Powers ( 4097097 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @05:05PM (#53318351)

    But it doesn't mean these "medicines" will disappear from store shelves. The FTC only has the right to crack down on misleading marketing claims, and if the makers of homeopathic remedies clearly state that their products are based on no science, they can still sell them.

    So essentially, you can still sell your homeopathic remedies as long you're willing to water down your claims as to their efficacy until those claims can no longer be detected.

    But if watered-down homeopathy actually turns out to be the cure for homeopathy, won't that mean they were right all along?

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @05:23PM (#53318503)

    Sadly, I had a friend who used homeopathy.

    He forgot to take it one day, and OD'ed.

  • Such labelling will make no difference, the people who buy into the homeopathy scam will see the labelling as just part of the Big-Pharma conspiracy.

  • by Forthan Red ( 820542 ) on Friday November 18, 2016 @06:10PM (#53318849)
    Go into one of these quackatoriums, and get some homeopathic "medicine". When you get to the register, take out a vial of water, and explain to the cashier that you dipped a one dollar bill into that water, then diluted it 1,000 times. That should cover the bill.
  • Alternative medicine doesn't work, because if it did... it would become medicine!
    (from some late night comedian).

  • Religion is like homeopathy for the mind. It too is a scam. I await this pronouncement from the government but I won't hold my breath.

  • Well crap, does this mean bottles of distilled vinegar will now contain labels stating it is ineffective against chemtrail fallout?

  • Mike Pence hates that homeopaths are now allowed to marry other homeopaths. He'll straighten this out for us.
  • Those who believe in homeopathy do so with fervent, blind faith. The government is simply conspiring to suppress the truth, after all.

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