On Saturday, February 5, CFI-San Francisco will join international protesters from more than 10 countries and 23 cities to take part in the weekend’s 10:23 Campaign, a protest against “homeopathy” — a bogus but popular form of alternative medicine on which misinformed consumers waste billions of dollars per year.
The 10:23 Campaign aims to raise awareness about the reality behind homeopathic pseudoscience. Many think of homeopathy as an effective, “natural” alternative to traditional medicine. In reality, homeopathic “remedies” are produced by diluting questionable remedies with extraordinary amounts of water, often until the chance that even a single molecule of the alleged active ingredient remains in the final treatment is vanishingly small.
Homeopathy is based on a set of bizarre superstitions invented by its chief proponent, Samuel Hahnemann, in 1796. Hahnemann taught that any substance that causes symptoms in healthy individuals can treat the same symptoms in sick patients, if administered in small amounts. In addition, Hahnemann thought that diluting his so-called treatments in water would make them stronger .
For example, if a patient is unable to sleep, homeopaths should prescribe diluted caffeine — a known stimulant — as a sleep aid. Supposedly, the greater the dilution, the more effective the caffeine will be at putting a patient to sleep. Today homeopaths continue to prescribe caffeine as a treatment for insomnia, under the name “coffea.”
The 10:23 Campaign derives its name from Avogadro’s constant (6.022 x 10^23 per mole), the ratio of the number of atoms or molecules in a sample to the amount of substance present (in moles). When diluting their “remedies,” homeopaths often dilute the alleged active ingredient in so much water that they pass what is known as the Avogadro Limit, the point at which there is likely nothing of the original substance remaining. In other words, all that remains of the homeopathic “remedy” is pure water. (Homeopaths often drip the solution onto small balls of sugar before selling them to misinformed customers.)
Tests show that — as you might expect — homeopathic “remedies” have no effect beyond that expected from the placebo effect. Yet the US government and many foreign governments continue to allow homeopathic solutions to be marketed as “treatments” for medical symptoms. Some producers of homeopathic remedies have been caught cheating by including real (non-homeopathic) medication, or other undisclosed ingredients, in their products.
To call attention to the absurdity of homeopathic “medicine,” CFI-San Francisco and other participants in the 10:23 Campaign will stage a mass homeopathic remedy “overdose.”*
For more information on the 10:23 event, visit https://www.1023.org.uk . To participate in CFI-San Francisco’s “overdose” event, you must RSVP by e-mail to 1023 [at] reason4reason [dot] org.
For additional information about CFI’s activities combating homeopathic superstition, see my colleague Ronald Lindsay’s blog entry regarding Walmart’s marketing of “Boiron Oscillococcinum,” a purported flu remedy.
* Warning: CFI will offer a properly prepared homeopathic solution for consumption at the event. When properly prepared, even large doses of a homeopathic solution have no adverse or beneficial medical effects, as on average, they do not contain a single molecule of the alleged active ingredient. Some commercially produced homeopathic remedies have been found to contain real (non-homeopathic) medication or other ingredients not disclosed on product labels. These ingredients can have adverse effects. Anyone who consumes a homeopathic product not prepared by CFI does so at his or her own risk.