Separating Fact from Fiction – CBC Marketplace Exposé on Homeopathic Medicine
When Marketplace aired their first expose on homeopathy back in 2011, it galvanized me. I thought if a big media giant like the CBC is so confused about homeopathy, then I’m going to have to do my part to set the record straight – and with that, I started to blog. I started blogging about the benefits, the science, the research and using homeopathy at home so everyone could see it work for themselves and their families.
The most recent exposé targets homeopathic medicine products in pharmacies: while most consumers want more integration in medicine, CBC Marketplace wants evidence based medicine. Okay, let’s look at the evidence then.
“It’s just sugar water”
“Homeopathy is just sugar water” is a myth stated right at the onset of the show. Nice to get those biases out there right at the start, Marketplace.
Sadly, it is true that a simple google search for homeopathy evidence will bring up several sources of misinformation that continue to be shared. The best example of this – and a constant thorn in the side of homeopathy evidence – is The Australian Report. This report was widely shared among mainstream media when it was first published, concluding there are no health conditions for which homeopathy is effective, even though it was only based on a few poor studies. Due to public pressure, the statement was revised: “contrary to some claims, the review did not conclude that homeopathy was ineffective.” The revised version has never been shared by mainstream media. Find out more facts about The Australian Report here.
While poor evidence in support of homeopathy comes up high on our search engines, you don’t have to look much further down the page for a thorough and unbiased explanation of the data on homeopathy evidence put together by The University of Minnesota. For anyone curious about why some studies may not be accurate for homeopathy, what the evidence actually shows and an explanation into how homeopathic medicines work, it’s an excellent summary. For additional studies and research, check out my research/evidence page here.
FICTION: Homeopathy is just sugar water.
FACT: Homeopathy is a natural medicine that is supported by science, by decades of clinical and scientific evidence and by between 200-300 million users around the world. Many people are unaware that homeopathy is integrated into some medical systems in the world, including Switzerland and India, that many elite athlete’s and celebrities use it – think Queen Elizabeth, Martina Navratilova and David Beckham – and it has withstood the test of time – over 200 years and counting!
“Lots of parents are using over the counter homeopathic medicines and yet 95% of consumers don’t know what homeopathy is.”
4 Homeopathy Canada is an organization that was founded to share information about homeopathy because so many Canadians do not understand homeopathy and because it is often confused with other types of natural medicines, especially herbal medicine and supplements. I would surmise that most homeopathic product manufacturers would agree with Marketplace that it is important to know the difference between homeopathy and herbs – though likely for different reasons. Most importantly, the unique preparation of a homeopathic remedy makes it exceptionally safe – even for infants and pregnant women – while still being powerful enough for elite athletes, since only very small doses are needed for the medicines to trigger the body’s healing response. Because of the unique method of preparation, homeopathic medicines do not conflict with the medications that some people may need to take. You also typically have to stop taking homeopathic medicines when you’re feeling better, unlike supplements and herbs.
Contrary to the insinuations made by Marketplace, homeopaths and homeopathic manufacturers are not trying to dupe people into buying their products by accident, but rather want to offer consumers natural solutions to problems that may not need pharmaceuticals. Teething is a perfect example – giving Baby Tylenol or other pharmaceutical product to a teething baby runs its risks and many parents prefer to wait until symptoms warrant the big guns of pharmaceuticals – and why not? Homeopathic medicines can be given when symptoms start, and many parents find they work well. Why not allow for the best of both worlds?
FACT: “Lots of parents are using over the counter homeopathic medicines and yet 95% of consumers don’t know what homeopathy is”
Expert on the subject: Timothy Caulfield. Wait… Timothy Caulfield?
Timothy Caulfield has a Bachelor of Science and a Law degree – he has no medical background or training in homeopathy or natural medicine and no training in medicine whatsoever – even worse, he appears to stake his career on proving natural medicine has no foundation. Asking Timothy Caulfield his opinion about homeopathy is like asking a dairy or cattle farmer to make a statement about eating vegan.
FICTION: Timothy Caulfield is an expert on homeopathy – or natural medicine – or medicine.
FACT: Timothy Caulfield is a policy expert with a law degree who has no training whatsoever in medicine, natural or otherwise.
“Homeopathic medicine is so diluted it’s like one drop in an ocean”
This makes absolutely no sense. Why the CBC continues to share this crazy notion of misinformation saddens me because right now we could be integrating homeopathy into mainstream medicine to the benefits of all Canadians and the medical profession. Instead of trying to explain the exact manufacturing process of a homeopathic medicine (although if you’re interested, go back to the link explaining why it’s not just sugar water), let me share the evidence.
In one French hospital, the homeopathic medicine Aconite was used for children experiencing panic and heightened pain after surgery with a 95% success rate. This means that by using just one homeopathic medicine these children experienced less pain and fear without any side effects or risk of complications with other medications. Why this study isn’t being shared in the news is frustrating to this homeopath, who sees results every day. Okay, I know this wasn’t a double blind placebo controlled study, so here’s a study that fits that criteria: clear beneficial results were seen when homeopathy was used for acute diarrhea in a clinical trial in Nepal, alongside conventional rehydration techniques. Remember that acute diarrhea is the leading cause of illness and death in children worldwide – and that homeopathy is inexpensive and without side effects.
In an era of miracle cures and misinformation, it’s healthy to be skeptical, but it’s just as important to suspend disbelief in the face of overwhelming evidence.
FICTION: Homeopathic medicine is so diluted it’s like one drop in an ocean.
FACT: Homeopathic medicines have active ingredients that work and there is scientific and clinical evidence to prove it.
“Pharmacists recommend homeopathic medicine because it’s safer”
I’m not a pharmacist, but as a homeopath I know that homeopathic medicines are exceptionally safe. In Europe, where most health products are sold in pharmacies rather than over the counter, homeopathic medicines are often recommended when consumers are looking for natural solutions. In one survey of French pharmacists, 94.5% recommend homeopathic medicines to pregnant women because it’s so safe. Why shouldn’t Canadian pharmacists do the same? And yes, we also want consumers to be informed, but with facts, not more misinformation.
Homeopathic medicines should be used wisely, not to replace conventional medications or diagnoses and not by accident! Let’s use homeopathic medicine on purpose, as a home remedy before pharmaceuticals are needed or with the help a homeopath when pharmaceuticals are not enough and with the wisdom of conventional medical procedures to complement it.
FACT: 60% of Canadian pharmacists and 94.5% of French pharmacists recommend homeopathic medicines because they’re exceptionally safe.
Homeopathy vindicated – combatting misinformation together
Join me in supporting freedom of choice in health care. Speak up when you hear someone bashing homeopathy or any other type of natural medicine and do it kindly. If the person is speaking from their own experience, that’s totally fair – but if they’re just spreading around more of the same misinformation, tell them that homeopathy is being vindicated and send them to the Homeopathy Research Institute FAQ page. This website is run by scientists who are gathering evidence because homeopathic medicine is out there for a reason. It works. It’s based on science. And there is evidence.