You may have heard of this project on Twitter or elsewhere: the 10:23 campaign aims to convince the pharmacy chain Boots to stop selling homeopathic remedies. If you’re in London, you can join in by coming to Conway Hall at 10am on Saturday, January 30. I’m assuming the pills will be provided, but please make sure that they are a truly “strong” dilution, meaning that there are no active ingredients left in the sugar. Consider Zicam, a supposedly homeopathic remedy that actually contained trace amounts of zinc, which may have caused many people to lose their sense of smell.
Thus far, though, no deaths have been recorded as a result of a homeopathic suicide. Blazing this trail previously were James Randi in 1997, the Belgian skeptics in July 2004, Richard Saunders and the Australian skeptics in November 2004, Australian skeptic Peter Bowditch in June 2006, some South African skeptic on YouTube in 2008, and Alexa Ray Joel this past December.
Homeopaths, for their part, agree with the skeptics. They’ve covered their bases by insisting that it’s the frequency and not the quantity, and that you will not feel any effect from a remedy that isn’t made just for your symptoms. Consider the “Dr. Lockie” site where it is written:
As the dosage is influenced by frequency rather than quantity, homeopathic remedies are quite safe however much is taken at once; it still constitutes one dose. If the remedy is taken by someone other than the patient for whom it was intended, it will have no effect anyway as it will not match their symptom picture.
They finish with, “One of the delights of homeopathy is its safety, however keep your remedies away from small children or you may find your collection is wiped out in one go.” This is presumably because the “remedies” are made of nothing but delicious sugar.
Nutrimart agrees with this, saying:
You cannot overdose on homeopathic medicines. If you take fifteen tablets or five tablets (or 100 tablets for that matter) AT ONE TIME it is one dose. You will stimulate your curative response one time. So, it is not a tragedy if more than six tablets fall into the cap, just take them rather than risk putting a contaminated pill back into the bottle to contaminate the others in the bottle.
This is, of course, pure nonsense but I’m sure it’s enough to put the minds of the believers at ease should they happen across a mass homeopathic suicide.
That said, I hope that the 10:23 campaign succeeds in its effort to educate people about the reality of homeopathic remedies. Too many people buy into what has got to be one of the most unlikely pseudosciences masquerading as medicine.
In case you need a refresher, here’s my post about what homeopathy really is and why it’s so, so stupid.