Homeopathy and Vaccines
Jun 3, 2013
By Trevor Shewfelt, Pharmacist at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy
When I got home from work the other day, my daughter Emily ran up to me and said, Dad, for track and field I signed up for a 60 mile run! While I was impressed I might have a fifth grade ultra-marathoner in the house, I thought Id ask more questions. It turns out Emily had signed up for a 60 m run, which is a very short sprint. Emily has no concept of distance, so 60 meters or 60 miles sounded the same to her. I explained to Emily she had been running for may kilometers for the last few months in running club and that just a week earlier she and the running club had gone to Brandon and run a 5 km Fun Run. I said, Emily last week you just ran 5000m. You have been training for 2 months to run long distances, way longer than 60 m. I encouraged Emily to try some longer races at track and field as well as the 60 m.
Its not Emilys fault she didnt know the difference between 60 m and 60 miles. She just doesnt much experience dealing with distances. Its like if I asked you what the difference is between vaccines and homeopathic vaccines or nosodes. Would you think they are very similar products? Lets have a look.
Vaccines are dead or weaken infectious agents or chunks of infectious agents like bacteria or viruses that are given to a patient, often by injection. This lets the bodys immune system recognize the infection before it happens. That way if a patient encounters the infection later their body will be able to fight off the infection before they get sick. Vaccines are very inexpensive, very safe and have already saved thousands, if not millions of lives. These medications have saved more Canadian lives over the last 50 years than any other health program. There should be headlines screaming, Diptheria reduced from 3000 case per year to 1-5 cases per year. Or Measles reduced from outbreaks of 300,000 to 400,000 every 2-3 years to an average of 12 cases per year. Vaccines have reduced the death rate from infections in Canada to only 5%. That is incredible when you consider that in the good old days a 100 years ago, infectious diseases were the leading cause of death in Canada.
I first heard about homeopathy in University. One of my pharmacy classmates did a homeopathy talk for the class. One of the principles of homeopathy sounded odd to me. The Law of Infinitesimals said the more you dilute the homeopathic product the more potent it gets. When you do the math, some of the homeopathic formulations were diluted so much they may not have any active ingredient in them at all. That means if the product was being diluted in water, the homeopathic product would just be water. Lets look at it another way. Many homeopathic preparations are labeled as 30C. At a 30C dilution you have a better chance of winning the lottery several times in a row than having a single molecule of active ingredient in the dilution. Another way to look at 30C is like putting 1 drop of active ingredient in the entire ocean. Then stir the ocean well. Now scoop a random bottle of water out of the ocean. Do you think you would get any active molecules in your bottle?
Homeopathy came to my attention again recently when I read an article in the British Columbia Medical Journal by Dr. Lloyd Oppel. Dr. Oppel was sounding the alarm against nosodes or homeopathic vaccines. What Dr. Oppel was concerned about was that nosodes were being approved for sale by Health Canada. Apparently Health Canada has already licensed homeopathic nosodes to prevent the flu (influenza), polio, measles and pertussis. Health Canada says it licenses products that are safe and effective when used according to the labelled instructions.
The problem that Dr. Oppel highlights is that Health Canada is only half right. The homeopathic nosodes are safe. They dont have any active ingredient in them to cause any side effects. However, they cant be effective for the same reason. If people take a nosode to protect themselves or their children against a disease, they are being misled. The nosode offers no protection. In fact when this nosode controversy came up in Britian, the British Homeopathic Society said, "The Society does not endorse the use of homeopathic medicines as an alternative to vaccination for the prevention of serious infectious diseases and recommends that members of the public seek the advice of their GP, and/or relevant Department of Health guidelines, concerning vaccination and protection against disease."
I have to admit, I havent been too worried about homeopathic medications in the past. I always considered the herbal products more of a problem. You see herbals act just like drugs in the body. So I am always worried about the herbal products causing side effects or drug interactions. I didnt worry about homeopathic medicines because they were basically sugar and water. With no active ingredient, there were no side effects or interactions to worry about. What I didnt realize was that parents were deciding to give their children homeopathic treatments instead of vaccines and Health Canada was telling parents that it was okay for them to do so.
Emily wasnt familiar with distances and relied on an authority in her life, her parents, to tell her 60 m and 60 miles werent the same. Parents arent necessarily familiar with the difference between vaccines and nosodes. They should be able to rely on authorities like Health Canada to tell them that vaccines and nosodes are different. Health Canada should say a polio vaccine will protect your child from polio and a polio nosode will not. Health Canada should not give a polio nosode a license saying it is safe and effective.
Lloyd Oppel in BC Medical Journal www.bcmj.org/council-health-promotion/health-canada-licenses-homeopathic-vaccines
Stopnosodes campaign www.stopnosodes.org/
Immunize Canada - www.immunize.ca
The 10:23 Campaign: www.1023.org.uk/
British Homeopathic Society says to use vaccines www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/apr/15/homeopathy-measles-mp
As always if you have any questions or concerns about these or other products, ask your pharmacist.
The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional.
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