Skeptics OD on Homeopathic Meds to Prove They Don’t Work

| by Kate Wharmby Seldman

Can you overdose on homeopathic remedies? No, say several groups of skeptics who recently tried to do just that. Their purpose was to debunk claims that homeopathy treats illness.

The mass OD, organized by British anti-homeopathy organization The 10:23 Campaign, took place on the weekend of February 5-6 at 10:23 AM. According to 10:23’s website, around 1600 people in “more than twenty-three cities, in over ten countries, across all seven continents” deliberately took several times the recommended dosage of various homeopathic medicines. Their goal: to prove, as the organization’s slogan says, “there’s nothing in it.”

The biggest demonstration took place on February 6 in Manchester, England, at the QED conference, where over 300 people reportedly gathered to take megadoses of homeopathic belladonna. Another group in West Virginia took one million times the recommended dose of a homeopathic sleep remedy – they didn’t name which one they used – and reported that they suffered no ill effects; they didn’t even fall asleep.

Paul Willis, an Australian man aboard a ship off the coast of Antarctica, participated in the protest by spraying large quantities of homeopathic sleep tonic into his mouth. A short while later, according to an article on National Public Radio’s Shots health blog, the ship’s doctor declared him “boringly bloody awake.”

Homeopathic remedies are extremely diluted with water, sometimes not containing even one molecule of the substance that’s advertised as being in them. According to homeopaths, the water retains the “spirit” of the substance, even if it’s no longer present, and so the remedy still works. Another tenet of homeopathy is that higher dilutions of remedies produce stronger medicinal effects – this is in opposition to the traditional medical idea that generally, the more you take of a medicine, the more it affects you.

The 10:23 Campaign believes homeopathy in itself doesn’t harm people: the danger lies in homeopathy devotees’ not having sought traditional medical advice when it comes to potentially harmful situations. 10:23’s website cites an example of a woman who took homeopathic malaria pills when traveling to Togo, only to end up with multiple organ failure after she contracted the disease.

Now, magician and skeptic James Randi has stepped forward to issue a new challenge: if the makers of homeopathic remedies are willing to conduct a controlled double-blind study to prove these remedies are more effective than plain water, Randi’s educational foundation will pay them $1 million.

There's been no public comment from the homeopathic community on the 10:23 Campaign's mass OD as yet.

Originally published on GrannyMed