New Video! Homeopathy and the FDA

Join CFI On Campus in protesting the FDA and purveyors of homeopathy, and join me in New Orleans for CSICon!

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. Legally, the FDA cannot do anything more than to declare whether or not a snake oil is safe. If the snake oil is harmful to people, then the FDA can take action, otherwise the product can be sold. It is up to the consumer to make smart decisions and to spend his or her money wisely. Consumer groups (and Skepchicks) go a long way to help people make good choices. If the people want the FDA to pull safe snake oil from the shelves simply because they are snake oil, then the people need to go to Congress and ask for a better law. Government Agencies do not decide their own fate or effectiveness. Everything an Agency does or does not do is mandated by a law that Congress passed and the President has signed (unfortunately that means lobby groups have a lot of pull).

    1. This is absolutely correct. While I approve of the intent in protesting the FDA, it would be a better idea to try to change the laws, which the FDA, as an administrative agency, can’t really change.

    1. It’s a lot of work you’d have to do. I did a brief check of that list, and just for starters, out of 226 separate listings, 140 of them were directly from “journals” that are purely Alt Med friendly, including a LOT of articles listed from ‘British Homoeopathic Journal’ and ‘Homeopathy’. That’s about 60% of the so-called science being presented.

      Also, just sampled one article that was in an actual medical journal: — and of course, it’s listed but doesn’t offer anything really definitive: “There is evidence that homeopathic treatment can reduce the duration of ileus after abdominal or gynecologic surgery. However, several caveats preclude a definitive judgment. These results should form the basis of a randomized controlled trial to resolve the issue.” Also, it’s a study of how homeopathic remedies reduced the duration of post-operative bowel obstructions leading to flatus … in other words, homeopathy supposedly helps you fart better after surgery in comparison to placebo.

      Not saying you should just be outright dismissive of any article before you get a chance to look at them, but I’d go in with your metaphorical “shields” up.

  2. A little further on Homeopathy.

    1. On Like Curing Like:
    Homeopathy does not recognize any causal connection between e. coli and its effects. All diseases are caused by ‘psora’ (itch) except tuberculosis and syphilis. Therefore you wouldn’t take more e. coli, you would dose yourself with a drug–often one picked out of a random old herbal or medical text–that duplicates some or all of the SYMPTOMS of e. coli.

    Note that, for all the woo claims about ‘treating causes’ Homeopathy actually claims that disease consists entirely of symptoms. Cause is irrelevant.

    2. On the FDA
    The 1938 Food and Drug Act was sponsored by one of the last Homeopathic Drs in the US (there were less than 300 left). I can’t remember the senator’s name right now, something like Earl Royal.

    Anyhow, this worked out into Homeopathy being exempt from almost all regulation. Which is why homeopathy has become the great woo-woo label for any over-the-counter potion. Also why so many ‘homeopathic’ potions turn out to include real drugs, including prescription drugs, when they are actually tested.

    Good tape though.


  3. Maybe recycled sewerage could be the ultimate homeopathic remedy! I’m pretty sure drinking sewerage would cover almost every symptom you could end up with…

    Also nice specs, sometimes I wish I had something wrong with my eyes so I could wear trendy glasses!

  4. Okay. So the video is great and everything, thanks! My parents, while generally being science fans, occasionally take homeopathic remedies. It drives me insane, and I’m glad I might finally be able to do something about it.

    But Rebecca, I have to know: what hair dye do you use? For years I’ve been flirting with the idea of going with a shade similar to that, and I’m having trouble finding a good dye… :-)

  5. Rebecca Watson,

    Homeopathy is such a joke. Also even if it did make it more powerful by diluting it, wouldn’t that make things like highly diluted arsenic even more deadly? Why is the FDA actually encouraging the pseudoscience? Weather they realize it or not, that is what they’re doing.

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