Homeopaths Admit Expensive Concoctions Just Water
A public mass overdose of homeopathic remedies has forced the New Zealand Council of Homeopaths to admit openly that
their products do not contain any "material substances". Council spokeswoman Mary Glaisyer admitted publicly that
"there´s not one molecule of the original substance remaining" in the diluted remedies that form the basis of this
The NZ Skeptics, in conjunction with 10:23, Skeptics in the Pub and other groups nationally and around the world, held
the mass overdose in Christchurch on Saturday to highlight the fact that homeopathic products are simply very expensive
water drops or sugar/lactose pills. A further aim was to question the ethical issues of pharmacies, in particular,
stocking and promoting sham products and services.
"You´re paying $10 for a teaspoon of water that even the homeopaths say has no material substance in it," says Skeptics
Chair Vicki Hyde. "Yet a recent survey showed that 94% of New Zealanders using homeopathic products aren´t aware of this
basic fact - their homeopath or health professional hasn´t disclosed this. The customers believe they are paying for the
substances listed on the box, but those were only in the water once upon a time before the massive dilution process
began - along with everything else that the water once had in it -- the chlorine, the beer, the urine...."
Hyde notes that one of the homeopathic products downed by the 40 or so people in the mass overdose had a label saying it
contained chamomilia, humulus lupulus, ignatia, kali brom, nux vomica and zinc val. But those substances were actually
in homeopathic dilutions, meaning that the kali brom, for example, was present in a proportion comparable to 1 pinch of
sugar in the Atlantic Ocean - that is, not actually present at all.
"People don´t know that they are paying through the nose for just water - they believe the label implies there are
active ingredients in there, just like you´d expect from a reputable health product. And you have to ask, at what point
does it shift from being an issue of informed consent to become an issue of fraud?"
The UK-based 10:23 campaign is concerned about the ethical issue of pharmacies - touted as "the health professional you
see most often" - supporting these products and giving them a spurious and unwarranted credibility.
"Does this mean pharmacists don't know that homeopathic products are just water, or they do know and don't care because
people will buy it not realising the massive mark-up? Either way, that should be a big concern for the health consumer.
Here´s a huge industry with virtually no regulatory oversight or consumer protection or come- back, and even its keen
customers aren´t aware of the highly dubious practices involved."
The alternative health industry has built a multi-million-dollar business exploiting the natural healing powers of the
human body, as many conditions will get better within two to three days regardless of whether conventional or
alternative treatments are used, or even if nothing is done at all. Independent testing has shown that homeopathic
preparations take full advantage of this and homeopaths quickly take the credit for any improvement in their clients.
The Christchurch "overdose" included an "underdose" - homeopaths believe that the more dilute things are, the more
potent they become, so the skeptics were careful to try that approach. There are also claims by product manufacturers
that, in fact, dosage doesn´t matter at all - whether you take 1 pill or 100 - but the important thing is the frequency
of dosage, and the skeptics covered that base too. No ill effects were reported, apart from a distinct drop in the level
of cash in various wallets. For the demonstration, Hyde reluctantly purchased two small boxes of tablets and a 25ml
spray from a Unichem pharmacy, costing $51.95.
"That´s a lot to pay for less than 2 tablespoons of water and not much more than that in lactose milk sugar."
Homeopaths claim all sorts of amazing results, from treating the 1918 influenza to AIDS. More dangerously, at least one
New Zealand pharmacy has been known to push homeopathic water labelled as "vaccines" for meningitis and Hepatitis B.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the most supportive test results are those which come out of the homeopathic industry, product
manufacturers and other vested interests. Any completely independent evaluation, such as the highly respected Cochrane
Collaboration, tends to find the results much more underwhelming, citing no convincing evidence in many claimed areas of
"We´d recommend that if your local pharmacy stocks homeopathic products, take your business somewhere more ethical."