Mark Crislip takes on Homeopathic Vaccines today on Science Based Medicine:
The first ‘law’ behind vaccines and homeopathy is the same: like cures like. Vaccines are the only medical validation of the first ‘law’ of homeopathy of which I am aware. It is the second ‘law’ of homeopathy where medicine, and reality, part company with homeopathy, the ‘law’ of dilutions. Where vaccines are given with a well characterized concentration of antigen, homeopathic nostrums are often diluted long past the point where anything remains behind. If a homeopathic nostrum is 20X, then there is no longer even a molecule of the original substance in the mixture. Which can be a good thing, since homeopaths use nosodes as their vehicle for imaginary vaccination.
A nosode “is a homeopathic remedy prepared from a pathological specimen. The specimen is taken from a diseased animal or person and may consist of saliva, pus, urine, blood, or diseased tissue.”
And people complain about the alleged toxins in real vaccines.
If only I could post this for everyone’s information on my fun LA based online mom support group. But I can’t, because a thread regarding homeopathic vaccinations was shut down by the moderator after it became too heated. So I am reluctant to post a link to Mark Crislip’s article and bring more angry emails upon myself.
Actually, there were more grateful emails than angry ones. Several readers on that board wrote to me to say basically, “Thank you for speaking up. I am afraid to say anything.”
A few months back, a homeopath posted on our board about the possibility of using homeopathic vaccinations, and she offered them as an alternative to parents frightened of vaccines. I usually don’t say much on the board about alternative medicine. I prefer to keep my posts limited to finding free baby stuff, getting rid of unwanted baby stuff, kvetching about lack of sleep, and offering support to new breastfeeding moms. Why get into a tangle with people who are hawking acupuncture or amber teething necklaces? I don’t see that it would change anyone’s mind, and I already had a forum (Rational Moms, which has now merged with this blog) where I could get on a soap box.
But I had to say something about homeopathic vaccinations. What would be on my conscience if I didn’t? A mom gets fooled into giving her kid one of those and then the kid gets measles encephalitis? So I spoke up. And there was a huge response, most people on my side, and some really, really not on my side. I got a few angry emails, more supportive ones, and then finally, the moderator of the blog said enough already and asked us all not to post anymore.
I kept my tone neutral the whole time, but I think what got people’s nipples in a twist (sorry, but you can use that expression if you’re talking about a breast feeding support group) was that I called into question the entire practice of homeopathy. I didn’t just say the vaccinations were a bad idea, I said look, homeopathy is nonsense, and here are some links for you to read. And people didn’t like that at all. I got one email from a woman who said, “Are you crazy?” And then she went on to use a bunch of logical fallacies, like telling me that a lot of people use homeopathy, so it must be valid, and there are even homeopathic hospitals, so who was I to say it didn’t work?
The moderator, when she shut this thread down, gave some general guidelines for discussing controversial topics, and actually I’ve found them quite useful. As I’ve gotten a little better, over time, at speaking up about skeptical topics, I’ve tried to implement that moderator’s advice, and I’ve come up with a few rules of my own, which I elaborated upon here. I’ve gone from unfriending people on Facebook to being able to speak civilly and then walk away from a discussion not angry. Progress!
I guess for some people, questioning alternative medicine in general is just too much. What I maybe should have stuck with were links to studies that show that these homeopathic vaccinations are inneffective. And then maybe a little, watered down statement about how “to the best of my understanding” homeopathy in general is a total waste of time and money. I don’t know.
Here are the studies Mark Crislip found:
Are there any studies or case reports to support the use of nosodes? As best I can discover, there are two clinical trials in animals of nosodes: one in calves that did not show benefit and one in mice that did, and both are in journals too obscure for my library to have subscriptions. There are two cases of fatal polio after receiving homeopathic vaccinations. That is it in Pubmed. Not a convincing literature for effectiveness.
The proof offered by this homeopath on my mom board was (get ready to be shocked) all self published by some dude, probably writing from his basement. So all I really had to do was point out the questionable nature of that evidence, which, of course, I did. But changing people’s minds about homeopathy in general? Maybe too much for the board.
My point in posting an article like this here is never really to break news. Homeopathic vaccinations don’t work? Not really news. It’s more to contemplate for myself about how to talk to other parents without provoking rage, if that is possible. How do I live as a person who can’t keep her mouth shut but really hates conflict? I’m just trying to get better at that, somehow.