Sunday, May 10

Homeopathic Medicine

Reading Jenny's post reminded me of probably the funniest lecture of my college career. As most of you know, I'm a chemistry major and I'm taking Inorganic from Doc Bitterwolf. He decided he would introduce the bioinorganic chemistry section (biochemistry with metals) with a lecture laughing at homeopathic tonics/potions/mysterious liquids. Since it is a room full of senior chemistry majors, we naturally looked at some of the ingridients. Most of the 'magical potions' were just exteremly dilute metals/other crap. Almost every metal, even lead, is found in dilute levels in the body so I don't really think adding a little bit extra is really going to help.

Simply google searching homeopathic medicine lead me to this site:

One of the little potions I thought was funny was what they called Petroleum (Crude oil!). My guess is that it is a can of crude oil. Or even oil mixed with water (wait, that doesn't make senes). Some of the things it says to treat include (but certainly not limited to!) Motion Sickness, eczema, smelly sweat, and even diarrhea! Take note that these conditions have almost nothing related to each other... at least none that I can think of. Besidese, crude oil is chop full of all sorts of things. Mostly non-toxic but there are some nasties in there--you wouldn't drink gasoline, would you?

I'd strongly suggest checking that website out, or others like it, for a good laugh. Especially if you have a decent background in biological systems/chemistry.

Finally, wish I were smart enough to bottle crap and sell it to the uneducated for lots of money..

1 comment:

  1. I have heard of people selling this kind of "medicine", but I thought it happened back in the 1800's? It amazes me that there continues to be market for this. On the website Dave provided, there are names of “remedies” that I have NEVER heard of (I am assuming that they have something to do with the scientific name of the ingredients used). To me, this seems like people are very uneducated about what they are buying. According to the FDA Consumer Magazine website (, there are regulations to what information should be put on the bottles of the remedies. The requirements for the labeling include:
    • An ingredients list
    • Instructions for safe use
    • At least one major indication
    • Dilution (for example 2X for one part per hundred, 3X for one part per thousand).

    This all seems like basic information that is usually found on medicinal products. If there is not enough information on the product and someone buys it, or that person just doesn’t care enough to do further research into the ingredients, then those are the people that are propagating this issue. If people were actually to become educated about the ingredients in these remedies, they would see that in many cases there is no active ingredient because the solution is so diluted. While I do think that this whole homeopathic remedy issue is a bit sketchy, I believe that it is the consumers that have the final say. The public can become educated on this and decide whether or not a homeopathic remedy will work for them. As stated in the website above, some believe that homeopathic remedies work because of the placebo effect. So, in some cases theses might work. But is it ethical to lead the consumer on about what the product is (or in this case, isn’t) doing to their body?

    I think that there will always be those people out there who are looking for the quick fix that supposedly come from homeopathic remedies. I do think it is unethical to put out a “medicine” that doesn’t really have the effect on people that is being advertised (because there is not an active ingredient). But ultimately, it is up to the consumer to make sure they know all of the information about the product before buying it.


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