I still feel like shit, though I’m blowing my nose less often. Which means I’m taking this as a sign to continue my coverage of homeopathic “remedies” with the product that was sitting right next to Oscillococcinum at New Seasons:
Let’s take a look at the ingredients, keeping in mind the nomenclature. “C” in homeo-talk means that the ingredient is diluted to 1:100 concentration. The number before it refers to the number of times this is done. You’ll also notice on the label that ColdCalm contains “less than 10^-6 mg of alkaloids” … meaning that it’s diluted enough to prevent the poisonous part of that particular ingredient from killing you, or so they hope.
See, that’s the funny thing. Whether or not it’s actually diluted enough to not do any damage – short or long term – is irrelevant, since the The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938 gave an automatic green light to homeopathy – provided that the ingredients were listed in their Pharmacopoeia. Why did this happen? A number of reasons. First, homeopathy was big back then. Second, the focus of the bill was on safety, not efficacy, and homeopathy didn’t seem to kill anyone as quickly as the things they were really trying to regulate. Third, the genius of Senator Royal Copeland of New York – a physician and practitioner of homeopathy. He was one of the main authors of the bill and likely either gave it a pass, or others did as a concession to him. Unfortunately, since there’s no evidence to support its efficacy yet no one’s bothered to change the law, we’ve effectively been advocating pseudoscience for the last 75 years or so.
Nowadays the FDA’s hands are full with other things. That combined with the general consensus that there’s nothing in homeopathic remedies that has killed anyone yet means we’ll likely see this stuff around for a while.
Moving on. The first group of ingredients has a concentration of 1 part per million. This means that if the mass of the pill is one gram, there’s only one microgram of the following ingredient present in each dose:
Allium cepa 3C: Onions. Eaten in normal, measurable doses, this could have some anti-inflammatory effects. In units of micrograms, not so much.
Eupatorium perfoliatum 3C: Commonly known as “boneset”, this one actually may have some legitimate fever reducing properties. I don’t know how the hell Boiron came up with the bit about treating sinus pain, to be honest. There’s no “official” dosage guidelines, but the traditional amount was about 2-4 grams of leaves and flowers boiled in water. Unfortunately, the risk of hepatotoxicity due to pyrrolizidine alkaloids makes this pretty dangerous, and other, more effective remedies have taken its place in recent … umm … decades.
Nux vomica 3C: Also known as Strychnos nux-vomica, the source of the highly poisonous alkaloids strychnine and brucine. They can be found in the seeds, blossoms, and the bark, although the bark has loads of other things that will ruin your day too. Unfortunately, it has not proven effective for any illness. The claims of it treating sneezing attacks may be true if there is enough neurotoxin to asphyxiate you to death.
And, since it’s diluted to only 3C, there is actually a chance some traces of this stuff is still in each dose. But there’s no real way to tell, since it’s not regulated. Bottoms up!
The following ingredients are diluted to “6C”, which is a concentration of 1:1000000000000, or one part per trillion. In other words, ColdCalm contains virtually none of the following indredients:
Apis mellifica 6C: Bees. I am not joking.
Belladonna 6C: Another herb with poisonous alkaloids of historic proportion and no track record of curing anything in its natural form.
Kali bichromicum 6C: WHAT.
Phytolacca decandra 6C: This actually is supposed to stimulate the lymphatic system, but the dosage I see is one tablespoon / day with a solution of 1 oz. per pint of water. In other words, a strength of about 1X in the HPUS scale, or 1:10.
Pulsatilla 6C: Yet another poisonous plant that causes coma, convulsions and death by asphyxiation if you screw up the dosage.
Seriously. Get some NyQuil and Afrin, pop in Season 3 of Babylon 5 and call it done.