The pharmacy I work in brought in homeopathic stuff

I work at a pharmacy (although I am not a pharmacist). Some time ago, they introduced a new product line: Jurlique skincare products. Overpriced Australian cosmetics, in my opinion. But whatever: the customers seem happy with it.

Yesterday, they introduced a new product line: homeopathy. Some multi-dose pills for stuff like cramps, colds, diarrhea, etc. Some single-dose pills for the same. All pre-packaged and official-looking. But . . . homeopathy? They talk about it like it’s the best thing since sliced cheese, which makes me very, very uncomfortable.

Is there any merit to this or are my employers hopelessly deluded?

WRS - My employers are, depite everything, money-grubbing scoundrels. So they could be BSing their dear customers big time anyway.

Does your pharmacy have a “Fiction” section?

There’s this load of crap…which is actually from a PRO-homeopathy site. I’m finding it hard to believe that a rational person can believe this stuff. From the “Law of Similars”, to what they propagandize by calling “a proving”, to the ultra-high dilutions of ingredients supposedly curing diseases, it all reeks of at best the placebo effect and at worst a cult-like money-making scam.

I can only speak from my own experience, which is that it does indeed work for me and my family if properly prescribed by a homeopathic doctor. Over the counter stuff that I try on my own works about 90% of the time. Whether this is due to the theories behind homeopathy or a remarkably effective placebo, I can’t say, nor do I frankly care. If it makes us feel better and it’s cheap (as homeopathics generally are) with no side effects (which they don’t have) then I’m happy to use it.

If someone could use the placebo effect on water to convince my migraines to go away, I’d happily pay them for their time and trouble.

Cecil’s take on homeopathy.

ROFLMAO…FWIW - a number of years ago I was given a class on reiki as a present. I attended said class and got made an official level 1 reiki practicioner. I have worked on a number of people who will swear that I dun good. Personally, I cant see an aura to save my life, I have no sensation of anything working, though I do have some spiffy visualizations I made up to use. Am I doing energy work? Not a fucking clue. People are convinced I am, and they feel better, so on that level I am happy that I seemed to help them. Personally? I would rather have an hour of good massage than an hour of reiki…YMMV :dubious:

Homeopathic “medicines” should be a big money maker for the store, because they are just distilled water and sugar pills. They do no harm,however, so in that sense they are just like a placebo. I read something about this recently-there was an article in the paper about the shortage of flue vaccine…and some boob (who was into homeopathy) stated that she wasn’t worried, she just took her “oscillicillium” tablets, and never got the flue! This medication is preparedfrom the liver of a duck which had avian flue…of course, it has beeon diluted 10 jillion times. The other thing I’ve noticed…homeopathy seems to be very popular in college towns! This makes me suspect that:
-American college students don’t take chemistry
-American college students aren’t too bright these days
There actually is a pharmacy advertising this crap in the middle of Harvard Square! If Harvard students buy this nonsense, I’d say that we have a problem!

No, no, Me :dubious: as well! :slight_smile: (Especially of reiki, and I am a massage therapist and have learned several forms of “energy work” myself. I’ve gotten to the point where I do feel energy fields and can manipulate them, but I sure as hell didn’t learn it in a weekend! I’d prefer the Swedish or Deep Tissue myself.)

I do find it interesting that recently in Medscape and JAMA, there have been articles discussing whether or not it’s possible and/or ethical to harness the “placebo effect” to itself become a healing modality, whereas homeopathy just went ahead and created it years ago. (No, I don’t have citations, I’ve been reading them both steadily over the past 5 years, so it’s somewhere in there.) I’ve never quite understood why “placebo” is said with a sneer and a :dubious:. If it’s a consistent, safe and cheap placebo, I don’t see the problem. (Except, of course, that it violates the mechanistic concept of the human body and disease process. But that’s a problem for philosophies, not patients.)

Also, note that homeopathy works on me even when I suspect it’s working through a placebo effect, and works on my husband who’s certain the whole thing is a crock o’ snake oil, and even on my cats and babies who have no clue it’s even in their food, so “believing” may have little to do with it. And these are dramatic effects, such as OTC Belladonna which reduces high fevers within 15 minutes, or Arnica montana which makes severe bruising fade within hours. So, while I’m in no way dismissing the placebo theory, it’s a damn powerful and effective placebo.

FWIW, my doctor is an MD as well as a homeopath. so if we’ve all been snookered, so have some highly trained western medical professionals. (He was an MD first, and then chose to go through four more years of school to become a homeopath.)

Homeopathics have the same % mark-up everything else does. Take retail price and cut it in half, and that’s about what the store paid for it. So a $9 bottle of Arnica, mouthwash or asprin costs the store around $4.50. (In the three stores I’ve worked in, YMMV, offer void where prohibited, not valid with other offers.)

Homeopathy: The Ultimate Fake (Quackwatch)

Homeopathy Fails in the UK Again (James Randi Educational Foundation)

National Council on Health Fraud’s Position Paper on Homeopathy

They also need to start selling the book How to Good-Bye Depression: If You Constrict Anus 100 Times Everyday. Malarkey? or Effective Way?

Are you confusing correlation with causation?

You have a medical problem. If you don’t treat it, it will either[ul][li]get better,[]stay the same, or[]get worse.[/ul][/li]If you treat it, it will either[ul][li]get better,[]stay the same, or[]get worse.[/ul][/li]So how do you know that the treatment led to the result?

You do know that there are no detectable active ingredients in most homeopathic bottles except perhaps perfume?

You do know that James Randi’s $1 Million Challenge is available to anyone that can prove it really works, in the scientific sense? And that no one has picked up that prize in spite of the fact that homeopathic doctors claim to cure people by the millions every day?

I’m not debating. I related my own anectodal experience to the OP and never claimed it was anything else. I chose to relate my experience because I knew from prior experience on this board that the replies would be overwhelmingly, if not in totality, negative.

I understand the concepts of correlation and causation. I was raised by three Research Scientists, and have a great respect for the scientific method and statistical analysis.

I also understand what I observe with my own eyes and thermometer, and I have the skills to compare them to similar conditions with different treatments in the past.

However, I have neither the inclination nor the skills to convince you, and I prefer not to try. I am neither a homeopath nor a drug salesman, so I have no interest or concern with how you treat yourself or others. Simply allow me access to the non-harmful products I choose, and I will certainly do the same for you.

I have heard two different presentations of homeopathy.

  1. The Law of Similars, the “tinctures” with very likely no molecules left of the active ingredient, and all the rest of homeopathy from a historical context. Previous posts are already discussing this.

  2. A catch-all for an alternative to officially sanctioned drugs per the Food and Drug Administration (in the US) or similar bodies. This strikes me as a misuse of the term, but because there are no legal gatekeepers for deciding who can claim their product to be homeopathic, it’s not surprising. My pharmacist once recommended to me a product that was labeled homeopathic, and which she called homeopathic, saying “Just because the manufacturer didn’t spend the tremendous time and money to get their product approved as a drug doesn’t mean it isn’t effective.” So I asked her about tinctures and the Law of Similars, and she had no idea about those issues, but said that customers were telling her the product worked.

Also, the idea that placebos do no harm is incomplete. If they displace a treatment that would have fixed the problem, that’s very harmful.

These are mutually contradictory statements. If you are observing with your own eyes and thermometer and using that to make a judgement, then you do not understand the scientific method in the slightest.

I support your right to believe in and purchase for yourself the most ridiculous stuff you can imagine, even if it does you no good or causes harm. But the pharmacy is doing the public a great disservice if it doesn’t place these remedies under a large sign that reads “Snake Oil, Quack Cures and Voodoo Potions.”

Harmless? Maybe. But the one and only time I bought something marked “homeopathic”, I was desperate for ear-ache relief. So I bought what the pharmacy technician handed me. When I got out to my vehicle, I stopped and read the ingredients. It had mercury in it. I threw it away unopened.

A former coworker, a medical doctor from Pakistan, said that homeopathy was practiced in a limited way (for skin problems, on pets, etc.) by “regular” doctors in her home country. Take that for what it’s worth.

My mom is a crackpot so she sometimes tries to foist her weird crackpot stuff on me. For a while she was trying to push homeopathy on me. I was taking these sugar pills daily, just to shut her up. I didn’t notice much difference, except that when I stopped taking them, I started getting horrible, horrible gas from my new recipe for home-made chili. Didn’t make the connection at first. Took me weeks, and eventually I figured out that when I was taking the crackpot pills, I didn’t get gas from my chili.

I don’t think it was the placebo effect since I didn’t usually get gas and had no expectation of getting gas. I am a bit of a crackpot myself, but my crackpotedness doesn’t lean in the way of homeopathy ordinarily. But that experience with the gas was something, and I wasn’t imagining it.

I have tried homeopathy a few times since, and it didn’t really do much for me. I generally don’t use homeopathic medicines and I don’t generally recommend them to others. But I’m not closed off to it completely, either. :shrug:

The ingredients may have listed mercury, but what was the dilution? At typical homeopathic dilutions, the chances of a single mercury atom in the entire bottle would be pretty slim.

So it probably would have worked. At least as well as plain water. :smiley:

Isn’t there a difference between homeopathy and herbal medicines? Some herbal remedies do work-- someone mentioned arnica montana for bruising, which I understand is herbal medicine, not homeopathy.

Many plants used in herbalism are also used to prepare homeopathic remedies, but the method of preparation is completely different. Arnica can be infused into an oil and made into an herbal salve or ointment, but it is not used internally. Homeopathic Arnica can be used internally.

Thanks for the responses, all. :slight_smile:

I am so tempted to anonymously mail something to the pharmacy about how homeopathy is scientifically unverifiable, but I don’t I won’t. Two reasons:

  1. After gone through the trouble of ordering stuff and setting it up, I do not think they will go through the trouble of taking it down or sending it back, especially if it’s something that makes money. I think whoever would read about homeopathy’s reputed unscientific nature would conclude that the philosophy behind it is misunderstood or something.

  2. Customers are already coming up and saying that it works wonders. I don’t doubt them: “mind over matter” is a very, very powerful tool, powerful enough to cure cancers and tumors and all sorts of stuff. If they think it works, and it works for them, good for them.

I, for my part, will have nothing to do with the stuff. If a customer wants to buy it, he/she can. I won’t help them choose something, but I will ring them up. The other crackpots at work can extol its virtues all they want, they can push it on every customer who passes by them, but I won’t get involved. It’s their business, and I won’t be around much longer anyway. Live and let live.

I know the meds I take have an effect that is discernable. If I don’t take them, the doctor finds out immediately from my blood test results. I can’t feel any difference, but it certainly shows up on the reports. This is how I know that the meds I take, which are non-homeopathic, are the real stuff and not some sugar pills or something. Additionally, I don’t believe in taking medication other than what’s prescribed for me. No over-the-counter stuff either. (The only exception is caffeine pills now and then to keep awake, especially when my blood sugar is high or when it’s too late in the day to take Provigil.)

I guess this is such an issue for me because I was raised in a family that doesn’t tolerate BS. This is why I joined the SDMB - to fight ignorance and shed light on the BS (and find out the straight dope so I don’t fall for BS myself).


Good for you. Fight! Fight! Fight! Shed! Shed! Shed!

Just don’t forget the other part of our motto: “…It’s taking longer than we thought.” :slight_smile: