Health Canada Approves… for September 8th

Welcome to Health Canada Approves… where we ask you to determine which products have been licensed by Health Canada’s Natural Health Products Directorate.

Here are the results from last week’s poll.

  • Hepa's Wort: Ayurvedic remedy for liver imbalances. (69%, 68 Votes)
  • Vomitusheel: Homeopathic preparation to help treat nausea and vomiting. (31%, 30 Votes)
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Seems most of you found fact stranger than fiction, because the correct answer is Vomitusheel, Natural Health Product Number 80014075. Vomitusheel is a six ingredient cocktail at “low” homeopathic dilution, meaning the ingredients are only diluted by a factor of either 10,000 (“4D”) or 1,000,000 (“6D”).  Taking into account the recommended 10 drop dose (~0.5 ml), and hoping that my math skills hold, that means that each dose contains at most 1/20th of a milligram of each ingredient — and as little as 1/60th of a milligram.  Granted we haven’t hit Avogadro’s number yet, but even at so-called low dilutions, there’s barely any actual ingredient in a dose.

Even if there were, it’s hard to see what those ingredients would do to stave off nausea, unless you buy into the magical homeopathic belief that “like cures like.”  Indeed, this cocktail would undoubtedly induce nausea in higher doses: ipecacuanha is the basis of Ipecac Syrup, an emetic.  There’s also an alkaloid of morphine and several poisons, such as nux vomica and ignatia, both of which contain strychnine.  Similarly, aethusa cynapium is also known as “poison parsley” or “garden hemlock” and colchicum autumnale is a poisonous crocus.[1] So I guess we should be thankful it’s diluted beyond any therapeutic value!

My favorite part about this product — other than the BEST. NAME. EVER. — is that the recommended dose for children is half the adult dose.  Applying the homeopathic “Less is More” principle, this means that they’re actually recommending a higher dose to kids! I’d love an explanation for that one.

We’ve talked a lot about homeopathy in the past.  Not only does it completely lack prior plausibility, but it just doesn’t stand up against the evidence.  For Health Canada to say it does betrays the trust Canadians put in our government.

But enough editorializing — time for this week’s question.  Remember, the real product “has been assessed by Health Canada and has been found to be safe, effective and of high quality under its recommended conditions of use.”

  • Homeoslim: Homeopathic remedy that helps weight loss. (54%, 21 Votes)
  • The Mighty Qi: Tonifies and vitalizes The Seven Qi's for complete alignment. (46%, 18 Votes)
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Answers next week…naturally!

Note

[1]  Despite its toxicity, colchicum autumnale is used therapeutically as a treatment for gout and familial Mediterranean fever — albeit at more than 50 times the dose found here.

One Response to “Health Canada Approves… for September 8th”

  1. Tina says:

    I did not know that Health Canada approved homeopathic remedies. On what basis are they doing this? With regards to the two remedies above, I would think that if I had to approve one it would be Vomitusheel. Just to see the reactions of the patients, of course I would have a hidden camera too. Actually Vomitusheel would be a safer bet because it would either work or not (ie, the nausea would naturally go away on its own or stay the same or get worse). Then the “poor” sick person would hopefully see a real doctor. Hepa’s Wort sounds dangerous to me. Someone will real liver imbalances may not know if the product works or not and thus prolong a possibly treatable situation.

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    Erik is a technology professional based in Toronto, focused on the intersection of the internet and the traditional media and telecommunications sectors. A reluctant blogger, he was inspired by the great work Skeptic North has done to combat misinformation and shoddy science reporting in the Canadian media, and in the public at large. Erik has a particular interest in critical reasoning, and in understanding why there’s so little of it in the public discourse. You can follow Erik's occasional 140 character musings @erikjdavis