Homeopathic Mosquito Repellant-Concentrated Bunk
In the view of the vast majority of scientists, and certainly mine, any claim that homeopathic preparations have an effect beyond placebo is pure bunk. Homeopathic solutions are diluted to an extent that they essentially contain nothing and then are sprayed onto sugar pills from which they evaporate leaving behind, according to homeopathic dogma, some sort of ghostly image that has therapeutic value. This is scientifically insulting. Homeopathic products contain no active ingredients, there is no plausible way in which they can work and there is no evidence that they do work. But somehow this doesn’t bother Health Canada’s Natural Health Products Directorate which has given a free ride to homeopathic preparations, even issuing specific homeopathic drug identification numbers. It is hard to understand how this has happened given that the Directorate’s stated goal is that “all Canadians have ready access to natural health products that are safe, effective and high quality, while respecting freedom of choice and philosophical and cultural diversity.” Safety is not an issue with homeopathic products because they conatin nothing. I’m not sure what “high quality” means in this context, supposedly that the pills are produced in an environment free of contaminants. But what about efficacy? There is actually no requirement that homeopathic producers demonstrate this, which is lucky for them, because there is no way to demonstrate the efficacy of homeopathic sea water, homeopathic insulin, homeopathic chloroform or homeopathic table salt.
It seems that Health Canada has taken the view that freedom of choice is paramount as long as there is no safety issue and regulators look the other way when it comes to a question of efficacy. In most cases there is no big problem here because in general consumers who use homeopathic preparations do so for mild conditions such as colds or minor aches and pains. But using homeopathic pills to deter insects from biting is potentially dangerous. Yet that is exactly what Mozi-Q marketed as a natural homeopathic deterrent claims to do. Imagine that. Swallow a sugar pill and keep mosquitoes away. Not only that, it is also supposed to reduce the itching if you do get bitten. What evidence do they provide on their website? There’s talk of how mosquitoes avoid delphinium flowers, which may or may not be true. But what does that have to do with swallowing pills sprayed with an extremely dilute extract of the plant? Are the nonexistent delphinium molecules exuding through the skin? And itching is supposedly relieved by a pill that contains a trace of stinging nettle extract? According to the perverse theory of homeopathy, a substance that causes symptoms in a healthy person will relieve those symptoms in an afflicted person upon extreme dilution. Since stinging nettle causes a stinging sensation on contact with skin, it is supposed to relieve the same sensation when diluted. Nonsense. Mozi-Q also cites a reference to some homeopath who carried out a study in the 1960s, a study that cannot be found. What else? Supposedly Mozi-Q was tested over four seasons on people. How? Was there a control group? How were the results monitored? Why weren’t they published? Pity the poor person who goes into a mosquito infected area thinking they are protected from bites by having swallowed a sugar pill. And remember that mosquito bites can be more than minor annoyances; they can transfer disease, such as that caused by the West Nile virus. And Health Canada thinks this is ok. It isn’t.