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June 18, 2009

Homeopathy FAIL, Parts I and II

FBI agents were sent to comb through a dumpster in Schenectady New York after receiving reports that the dumpster might contain anthrax.

The search was prompted by the discovery, somewhere else but the FBI wouldn't say where, of a vial labelled as a homeopathic "anthrax vaccine"--a product reportedly available on the internet. (I can't decide what's more disturbing, crackpots rejecting perfectly good vaccines administered by doctors or crackpots buying homemade vaccines online.)

The FBI was right to be concerned. Homeopathy is based on treating disease with massively diluted solutions of compounds that, in their pure form, cause the very symptoms that the tincture is supposed to cure.

Most homeopathic preparations are harmless ripoffs, since they are diluted so much that it's unlikely that even a molecule of the active ingredient remains. But if we've got self-styled homeopathic counter-terrorists diluting anthrax at home, that's seriously bad news.

And sometimes homeopaths skip the dilution step. The FDA is warning consumers to steer clear of Zicam, a zinc-based cold medicine that can permanently destroy the user's sense of smell by deadening the nerves in the nose.

The manufacturers of Zicam had to shell out over $12 million dollars in 2006 to settle 340 lawsuits lodged by alleged victims. Because Zicam was labelled as a homeopathic product, the manufacturers didn't have to get FDA approval before inviting cold sufferers to bathe their mucous membranes in zinc.


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I can understand not trusting the FDA to render accurate decisions, but I can't understand why one would trust a homeopath instead.

This all goes back to President Bill Clinton deregulating supplements by signing the "Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994."


Fifteen years ago, Congress passed a law that treats supplements like food and allows them to go straight to market without federal Food and Drug Administration approval. The FDA can act only after consumers get sick or a safety issue comes to light.

"We called it 'the body rule,"' said William Obermeyer, a chemist who left the FDA to found with Cooperman. If a supplement was harmful, "we had to have so many adverse events before we could make a move on it. It was really like closing the barn door after all the animals left."

Yes, signing that dietary supplement legislation was a major presidential fail on Bill Clinton's part.


The other day (yesterday?) President Obama gave a very strong speech about the problems in our economy, what got us here, the steps we are taking to get back on track, measures to prevent a recurrence, and POWERFUL [my emphasis] protection for consumers. Obama's emphasis was on consumer financial protection.

Does anyone know if this is only a part of his idea of POWERFUL consumer protection, or just limited to banking, finance, and investments? Other than presuming, and wishful thinking, is this what we can expect for consumers in other areas? Anyone with inside dope?

Norman Costa -

The Obama Administration isn't even doing a good job of protecting consumers in the financial sector.

The administration is trying to stop states from investigating national banks:


The Obama administration contends that federal regulators can adequately ensure that national banks comply with both state and federal laws. The administration said last night that the OCC “vigorously enforces fair-lending laws against national banks.”

Civil rights groups dispute that. In a letter this month to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Attorney General Eric Holder, groups led by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights said the OCC had filed no enforcement actions based on state antidiscrimination laws since the OCC adopted the disputed regulation in 2004.

“It is painfully clear that federal regulators did little to fill the void,” the letter said.

The Supreme Court case stems from Spitzer’s probe into whether lenders charged higher mortgage interest rates to minorities. Spitzer began his investigation after 2004 data released under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act showed black and Hispanic customers in New York were more likely to receive high- priced loans.

Given the documented side effects of the anthrax vaccine, the homeopathic version seems the preferable alternative.

The idea of people injecting themselves with water they bought on the internet gives me the howling fantods. If there's any chance that the h2o contains traces of anthrax, I don't even want to think about it.

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