Guess the fake cure!

Raw material for your favourite remedy?

A year ago we held a simple contest. We gave you a list of homeopathic remedies, and you had to guess the fake one. We continue to be amazed at just what homeopaths make remedies out of. So once again, here’s a list of REAL homeopathic remedies – all but one. Guess the fake. No Google. Put your reasoning in the comments and tell us why you think it’s the fake.

  • Water 30C (30%, 123 Votes)
  • Sleep 1M (12%, 48 Votes)
  • Stonehenge 200C (9%, 38 Votes)
  • Crayola Crayon (Burnt Sienna) 30C (5%, 19 Votes)
  • Berlin Wall 200C (5%, 19 Votes)
  • Shipwreck 30C (4%, 18 Votes)
  • The colour red 1M (4%, 16 Votes)
  • Boa Constrictor 6X (3%, 14 Votes)
  • Brillo Pad 6C (3%, 12 Votes)
  • Photocopying powder 30C (3%, 12 Votes)
  • Clarinet and Sax Reed 30C (3%, 11 Votes)
  • Colon (Ascending) 30C (3%, 11 Votes)
  • Hoover Dust 9C (2%, 9 Votes)
  • Air Cabin Pollution 30C (2%, 9 Votes)
  • Light (Energy Saving Light Bulb) 6C (2%, 9 Votes)
  • Nasal Mucosa 30C (2%, 8 Votes)
  • Mayonnaise 6C (2%, 7 Votes)
  • Sausages 3C (1%, 6 Votes)
  • Human Dandruff 30C (1%, 6 Votes)
  • Soap 30C (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Bacon Fat 30C (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Weeds and Shrubs 30C (1%, 4 Votes)
  • Mixed Nuts 30C (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Cigar Smoke 9C (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Canary Feathers 12C (0%, 1 Votes)
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36 Responses to “Guess the fake cure!”

  1. Heather says:

    I’m guessing stonehenge because it’s a protected historic site and you can’t just, you know, scrape some residue off the bluestones.

    • At least Stonehenge is a real thing, what about “Sleep 1M”?
      I voted for Hoover Dust, would homeopaths do a proving of a branded product?

      • IanKoro says:

        Some people refer to the crusty, dried out eye mucus your scrape off your eyelids in the morning as “sleep”. I could imagine that being a homeopathic remedy for some damn thing (narcolepsy?).

    • Sammy says:

      I could see it still being a documented remedy even though it is unobtainable.

    • gjeff says:

      The Stonehenge sample was likely taken many decades ago, before it was protected. Given the level of dilution indicated, a small chip off one stone can be the source of billions of “medicinal” doses.

  2. wendy says:

    I’m thinking bacon fat because it’s so tasty, I’m certain it has healing properties of an emotional kind, and health nuts hate it.

  3. Erik Davis says:

    I picked Boa Constrictor, because I like the idea of it being swallowed by me. Plus, it’s an effing Boa Constrictor, I mean, how cool is that?

  4. Karla McLaren says:

    I voted for crayons because they are healing in and of themselves; no need to dilute or succuss. Crayons equal awesome, whereas water, mayonnaise, and clarinets can so easily kill you.

  5. I guessed Human Dandruff 30C because it’s really gross. And does that count as cannibalism? It is ingesting human.

  6. Peter Cranny says:

    I voted for shipwreck – that would just be ridiculous!


  7. Kash Farooq says:

    I went for “Sleep” as I have no idea how they could even claim to have captured it.

    And I know some of the others are real; I’ve read about them for a series of “Weird Homeopathy” blog posts… I’m not going to tell you which ones they are though!

  8. Iain Martel says:

    Well, it should be water – after all, how do you dilute water with water? But logical impossibility never stopped homeopaths. So I went for “weeds and shrubs” – too non-specific, and it violates the single substance principle.

    I put my chances of being right at about 5%….

  9. Here’s a list of homeopathic remedies in alphabetic fashion

    • And, Nancy, how many of them have had doubly-blinded randomized control trials carried out on sufficiently large sample sizes to actually indicate efficacy?

      P.S. “Anecdotes” are not DBRCTs.

      • There are 113 DBRCTs in support of homeopathy published in 59 journals

      • Nancy, I looked at your list a few days ago and not only do many of the studies *not* support homeopathy (have you actually read them), many of them are published in an already ideologically slanted ‘journal’ like “Homeopathy”. Score the list by impact factor and study quality – it would be dire. Positive evidence from bad studies is no evidence at all. You and homeopaths in general are simply in denial; you are allowing ideology and bias to compromise rationality. At any rate, you are not doing yourself any favours by publishing this list everywhere.

  10. Chip Cherry says:

    Nancy, did you pick the right one?

    • greg says:

      She doesn’t need to pick. Everything to which “proving” is applied will be found to apply to some symptoms. If there’s an item on this list which was made up (i picked sleep) then it just means nobody has got around to “proving” it yet. So in that sense they are all “remedies”.

  11. Yprum says:

    I would say Stonehenge being so protected, but I guess they can just get any near stone from the ground and say it comes from Stonehenge… I could believe any of those remedies to be homeopathic, except water. Come on, seriously? water… on water? how do you mix that in any proportion?

    It even goes against the “laws” of homeopathy, isn’t it water the thing with the memory? wouldn’t the other water also have the properties of the first water… no really, I can’t write this without feeling absurd, even from the homeopathic way of looking at life.

  12. got to be water – surely…

  13. Ric says:

    I voted for water because I thought about it and if you dilute to 30C with (uh)…water, then you get a very dilute solution of, well…water, which, in very dilute amounts, should cure…wetness? Right? Makes sense to me. Won’t need an anti-persperant anymore…probably won’t ever need to go to the bathroom ever again…Yipeee!!!! (pun intended)

    …and you’ll actually find measureable amounts of the purportedly active ingredient in it. Take that Big Pharma….mwahahahahahaha! (much hand wringing)

    • Ric says:

      Uh…Just reread the question and realized that I am confused…or confused about my realization…whaterver. If we are asked to guess the fake, then are we expected to guess the only one that is not a homeopathic nostrum, or should we guess which one might actually might actually work for a given condition? I’m sticking with water…because I am even lazier than a homeopath…but “fake” can mean different things to different people.

      It would be really cool if you could provide the condition that the proposed remedy is supposed to treat (that should be entertaining in and of itself).

      • Dianne Sousa says:

        We’re asking you to pick out which on the list is not a listed homeopathic remedy. One of them is made up by us and not found on any list I saw. I understand that the use of the word fake in this context is confusing. If homeopathy made any sense we wouldn’t be here.

  14. jtradke says:

    I guessed “Light (Energy Saving Light Bulb)” only the other items are at least substances, assuming “Sleep” means eye-boogers (hurk) and “The colour red” means red dye or food coloring.

    Although, they probably just shined a light on the solution, then diluted it 10^6 times (or whatever 6C means) and called it an ingredient. Or maybe they crushed a fluorescent bulb into the solution.

  15. themarquesito says:

    I said photocopy powder. It’s something I think nobody would try to check for adverse effects, I mean, nobody would drink photocopy powder, seriously.

  16. Nathan Stanley says:

    I went with water, looks like many did. I picked it because it seemed the least crazy. I was hung up on Stonehenge for the same reasons as Heather but, I’ll bet they have their ways…

  17. Carol Wallace says:

    It’s ‘mayonnaise’. I know this because my chakras are aligned and my CSF and chi are flowing freely.

  18. John Greg says:

    I went with soap because it is one of the few things on the list that we know actually does something other than just sit there looking deluded … um, diluted.

  19. Skepticat_UK says:

    Weeds and shrubs 30c sounds the least likely homeopathic remedy to me. Plant-based remedies use one plant each, not a mixture.

  20. Bart says:

    Clarinet and sax reeds are a remedy-the music they produce is an important medicine.

  21. Kim Hebert says:

    I guessed Mayonnaise only because I want so much for there to be a cure for it. [shudder]

    PS…It’s sad how many of these I recognize from when I did last year’s list. Remember folks, only ONE of these is “fake”. Absorb that for a second.

  22. Zara says:

    Water is the only thing that seems stupid to be dissolved in water. All the rest are supid by themselves, they don need water to bee so!

  23. John Greg says:

    When will you be publishing/posting the real fake one?

  24. Mw says:

    Clarinet and sax weed, because, as far as I know, no such weed excists. Otherwise I would have opted for water ;-)

  25. Daniel says:

    Sausages 3C, because no “proper homeopath” (possibly an oxymoron) would stop after 3 1:100 dillutions. Sausages 30C however quite possibly exists…


  • Dianne Sousa

    Dianne holds a degree from the University of Guelph in criminal justice, public policy and social psychology. She became involved in the skeptical movement after becoming disillusioned with the addictions counselling field. Skeptical topics of interest include alternative medicine and it's regulation in Canada, pseudoscience and the law and skeptical activism. She also crochets extensively and enjoys bad film, usually at the same time. Follow me on twitter: @DianneSousa. All views expressed by Dianne are her personal views alone, and do not represent the opinions of any current, former or future employers, or any organizations or associations that she may be affiliated with.