#DemandTheDosage

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So a while ago I made this video on homeopathy in which I downed a “fatal” dose of homeopathic sleeping pills (spoiler alert: I lived. I didn’t even get drowsy).

So this weekend I made this video, but plot twist… the demo? A little different. 

I have mentioned before that I’m a non-drinker, right?

To give you the longer back story, I found out quite accidentally that they had these remedies when poor Buddy had tapeworms and my vet told me over the phone which remedy to pick up at Petco. I was quite surprised that they had treatment at Petco, but it saved me a vet’s visit, it worked, and Buddy is feeling better. It was also right after the first homeopathy video hit big, so this really wasn’t my plan to become a one trick pony. 

But I really thought that the homeopathic remedies were just for things like colds and insomnia and stuff that you were going to get over on your own. Then I saw a pet de-wormer and it broke my heart because this is for a suffering animal. This is not going to help the animal get better. The animal is just going to suffer for longer while the human thinks they’re helping by not subjecting their beloved pet to “evil chemicals.”

And eventually, they’ll end up buying the real stuff and they’ve wasted their money on the homeopathic treatment that didn’t work.

I did initially send back and forth- over the matter of several weeks- many emails with Petco. Eventually they shunted me over to Homeopet because they decided that they were just going to trust the company. Here is what Homeopet said:

 

Dear Yvette.

Your post deserves a reply on a number of levels. As a chemist I’m sure you would wish to correct the inaccuracies in your Facebook post.


Firstly, Yvette you say incorrectly that all homeopathics have no chemical element. Not true, and definitely not true in the case of HomeoPet’s WRM Clear as it is a 3x – a dilution of 1:1000. What this achieves is reduce the toxicity of the active ingredients to very safe levels, you may be interested to know that hormones such as oxytocin and oestrogen are now realised to be biologically active at dilutions around 11x (1:100,000,000,000) to 12x in homoeopathic terms, dilutions which used to be considered impossible for biological activity! Even taking this aside Yvette you imply that homeopathics are dangerous, and have no effect above placebo, yet there is plenty of scientific research to refute this, you might consider broadening your research by looking at the 839 Veterinary Peer Reviewed, the 144 Veterinary related Invitro and the 490 Non-peer Reviewed Veterinary, as well many other papers at www.homeopathicvet.org showing definitively homeopathy has far more than a placebo effect. Much of this evidence does not find its way into main stream journals, who are fearful of sponsorship loss should they publish such evidence.

You point out that unlike others, “I’m fortunate enough that I know how to read these labels carefully when Buddy is sick, but not everyone is”. “These pets deserve better than sugar pills”. Might I respectfully point out that that HomeoPet WRM Clear is a liquid not a sugar pill.

There are many pets coming into my practise that have serious adverse reactions to chemical treatments, (please put in “adverse reactions to chemical wormers” into your research interface) from vomiting and diarrhoea to much more serious liver issues or obstruction from large numbers of chemically killed worms and these animals, more than any other, benefit hugely from a safe non toxic homeopathic medicine like HomeoPet WRM Clear. This does not mean that I am advocating against the use of chemical wormers (indeed I use both in my practice) – they are effective, but can come with side effects! This point you have failed to present in your attack on natural alternatives when saying pets deserve better! Have your readers been informed that many wormers that are on sale in the US have been banned in Europe due to side effects? That a base component in some of them has been directly connected to the declining population of bees?

As a chemist you will appreciate that the use of any drug, natural or otherwise, can effect patients differently. Should an animal not respond positively to a treatment then the sensible thing to do it to reassess the patient. You will kow that on all HomeoPet packaging (as you will have read on both box and bottle) it is clearly stated that should the patient not respond to treatment or if you are in any doubt you should contact your vet.

“Contact your vet should problem persist”. If this is perfectly acceptable for chemicals why not natural alternatives, surely the same rules apply?

Might I add that I have seen animals (and humans) dreadfully debilitated from chemical use, thankfully I have yet to experience a single example of the same attributed to the use of HomeoPet products. Indeed I have daily contact with many owners whose pets have benefited greatly from safe, gentle and effective homeopathic treatment.

Warm wishes

Tom

Tom Farrington MVB MRCVS VetMFHom  
“Allswell”

Oh. It’s not a sugar pill because it’s water based. And the pills are bad because they kill worms. 

I did try sending them some polite emails.

So when I prepped to make this video, I went to pick up the homeopathic dewormer and looked around to see what else there was. I was really shocked to find “Good Dog,” a treatment to calm down the dog. I was horrified that the “inactive” ingredient was 13% alcohol. Inactive? Don’t these people know that alcohol is a drug?

Then again, they don’t science very well.  

One of the ingredients in the de-wormer, and in most of Homeopet’s products, is arsenicum alb, or arsenic. Now as with most homeopathic preparations, it is probably diluted to the point where there is no active ingredient left. However… we don’t know how much there is. Unlike regular medications we can’t look at the bottle and read the number of milligrams. And if it’s done via dilution, there’s a chance they can mess up. It’s happened before with disastrous results

And that’s the point. All regular medications have to list the amount of the medication on the bottle in English for you to read it. Homeopathy lists their ingredients in Latin and lists it by the dilution. Why aren’t they listing them by the milligrams and in English? Don’t your animals- and you- deserve that?

I’m asking you, #shillarmy, for your support. Please forward this video onto Petco’s Facebook site and tweet them (Facebook.com/PETCO, and twitter @petco). Remember, #DemandTheDosage. Buddy the #ScienceDog and all of your pups deserve way better.

 

-Science Babe

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16 Comments

  1. That’s horrifying – your pet can’t tell you what’s happening, and is quietly suffering. Sniffles are nothing but worms? And if you can’t tell how much of something you’re giving – well, I don’t need to point out that a dosage to a Great Dane or a Newfoundland is going to be a bit different than a Jack Russel or a Corgi.

    Definitely going to war on this – one of my cats just got out of the hospital after a three day stay and I’m happy to report that science absolutely healed her – she’s bouncing all over the house again. Thank you, antibiotics!!!

  2. Yes, the same sort of weird blinkered vision that allows homeopaths to believe homeopathy has an effect, regardless of evidence, also causes them to presume that the alcohol in liquid dilutions is an ‘inert ingredient’, with exactly as much actual thought involved.

    I recall reading of an actual published study, where homeopathic ‘researchers’ showed that a homeopathic dilution reduced bacteria population whereas the distilled-water ‘control’ did not – and the dilution contained alcohol. It wasn’t even a case of being deceptive, it seemed they were just that clueless and believed they’d shown that the difference had to be due to the homeopathic effect rather than the alcohol. This makes sense, I guess, if you take it as given that the homepathic effect is stronger than anything else.

    This is what you need to consider every time a homeopath starts telling you what they’ve seen which supports their belief (usually it’s just “years of experience and success”). If they don’t really care to know enough to really look and think, there’s no credibility, just a belief.

    P.S. I just learned from nccam.nih.gov that “The FDA allows higher levels of alcohol in these remedies than it allows in conventional drugs.” Because the FDA hasn’t given them enough leeway to begin with, I guess….

  3. As a veterinarian, I can tell you that there is actually very very minimal oversight on the HUMAN versions of these preparations. Even the ones that give you a dosage per pill often have widely inaccurate or misleading information on the label. (An article by JS Weese in 2003 entitled “Evaluation of deficiencies in labeling of commercial probiotics” is a textbook example of this.) Imagine how little oversight there is on on veterinary preparations.

  4. Your experiment just proves you are a homeopathic non-believer. If you were you should have gone into a homeopathic coma requiring a homeopathic intervention. Seesh …. don’t you know anything.

  5. Dear Science Babe,
    You clearly don’t understand how homeopathy works. Less is more. If you want to O.D. on a homeopathic drug, take one pill, crush it, and add one microgram of that powder into a liter of pure water, then dilute that about a million times. Pass a glass of that under your nose, and inhale a few molecules. You should be dead now.
    The problem of course is finding pure water, (i.e., water with no memories). It is unfortunate, but most water has been around for billions of years, accumulating memories. Water never forgets! It’s better to create your own water, via combustion, using only pure oxygen and hydrogen, to prevent contamination. Be sure to make a video!

  6. I have dear friends who use western conventional medical treatment only reluctantly, and homeopathy for everything else. It was effective for the mother’s pervasive eczema, and now the daughter’s too. I suspect that if their magic water was taken away, they would placebo themselves back to serious eczema outbreaks.

    Nothing i can say will dissuade them. I have learned to shut up when they try treating other conditions with their little army of glass bottles, even though I worry about them. The father is now experiencing stomach problems, and being treated by their homeopathic doctor who lives in another state. (!) I am not even sure if they have a regular family doctor. Could be ulcers, reflux, or something worse, but they’re still squirting away and I am still silently worrying.

    I wonder also if the “success” of homeopathic medicine might also be tied to the lifestyle choices of typical believers. My friends lead an exemplary life, home cooked meals from scratch, healthy exercise, no smoking or alcohol and damn little salt, a very close family in a peaceful household. They are intelligent, well educated, and lead planned, sober lives — but this belief is not on the plate when it comes to critical evaluation.

    That’s the definition of delusion, holding an untrue or unprovable belief despite any outside proofs or disproofs. The elderly often fall into delusion as memories and mental function fail (intruders in the home, pest infestations, ill,will of relatives, for instance.) but obviously, delusion can be induced, and once it is in place it is difficult, maybe impossible, to deconstruct again.

    I wonder if “fostering delusional beliefs” could be brought into the criminal code? Probably not possible, but how else to defend ourselves against it?

    Noni

  7. I’m not at all a believer in homeopathic treatment – and loved James Randi’s video lecture where he also takes a fatal dose of homeopathic sleeping pills – but it’s not entirely true that all homeopathic medicines contain virtually none of the chemical they claim. For example, the label of the popular zinc lozenges used to treat colds, Zicam, says it contains zincum gluconicum at a 1X dilution. That doesn’t tell me much, but a customer service representative reached by phone said each lozenge contains 10 mg. of zinc. According to studies I found on Pubmed, that dosage has been proven effective at reducing the duration of a cold: “Pooled results from 5 trials revealed that zinc significantly reduced the severity of symptoms by a standard effect size of 0.39 (95% CI, -0.77 to -0.02), which is considered a small to moderate effect.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3273967/
    Usually when I see the word homeopathic on a label, I immediately reject the product, but not in the case of Zicam. I suspect it’s more effective to market Zicam by calling it homeopathic and refer to it as zinc gluconium 1X than to simply list it as having 10mg of zinc.

  8. Jeopardy theme music for the win!

    I have watched chemists argue with people who have advanced degrees in other fields and who have accepted homeopathy hook, line, and sinker. The arguments you hear are all focused on “water memory,” and yet I haven’t seen a single study that ever confirmed that water memory even exists or how the heck it would even work. Water is only water because of how the chemicals are arranged, right? So where in the water is there room for memory?

    Sigh. Silly humans.

  9. Sorry to upset ignorance but homeopathy does work for people and animals, and is backed by many years of science. Please get educated before you attack something you know little or nothing about.

  10. I appreciate your efforts to debunk the malignant superstition associated with anti-vaccination movement and with homeopathy (which should be as illegal as any con-scheme or scam).

    But using the search engine here on this site (perhaps improperly, I admit), you appear to be silent regarding other forms of quackery and superstition, such as acupuncture and Reiki and Chinese Herbal Medicine and Naturopathy… all known to be total bunk with the same degree of confidence we know homeopathy is total bunk… and same degree of confidence we know the earth is round, not flat.

    What about Chiropractic which APART FROM treating mild to moderate (NOT SEVERE!) back pain using manipulation after diagnosis by history and exam WITHOUT using ANY radiologic imaging (X-ray and MRI imaging as used by chiropractors is PURE bunk) is horrific bunk. NOTE that Chiropractic is associated with the anti-vaccination movement and other branches of quack medicine.

    (I recommend highly the book “Inside Chiropractic” by Hormola, a practicing chiropractor, with introduction by Stephen Barrett, founder of the Quackwatch web site.)

    (what about other recommended readings about “alternative and complimentary” quackery, such as the outstanding volume “Trick or Treatment”, or the more technical book on how clinical research should and should not be conducted in the context of showing acupuncture to be worthless, “Snake Oil Medicine”?

    What about the destruction of scientific, evidence-based medicine as taught at medical schools that are bringing in the total quackery that is “integrative” medicine?

    Are you aware some medical schools are even teaching “therapeutic touch”, an obviously bogus quackery that was proven ineffective by a ten year old girl for her science project… she became the youngest person (male or female) to have her article published in a respected medical journal (Journal of the AMA).

    What about uber-quacks other than Dr. Oz, such as Dr. Andrew Weil, and non-doctor con-man Gary Null (a darling of the ignorant pseudo left)?

    I’d like to see more about those here.

    Keep up the good work!

    —marty

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