Product #2: Homeocoksinum flu buster
|Nine doses of "flu buster" selling for ten dollars. Is it worth it?|
Homeocoksinum is made by Homeocan Inc., the Montreal-based brainchild of one Michele Biosvert. As well as being the president and founder of Homeocan, Biosvert also owns homeopathic manufacturer and distributor Homeolab USA Inc., essential and fragrance oil distributor Wide World of Oils Ltd., and nutritional supplement company Nature Beaute Sante Inc. In 2012 Biosvert won the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur "Trailblazer" award for helping to spearhead the Canadian homeopathic industry (I recommend checking out this short autobiographical video made in honor of this event).
What is it for?
Homeocoksinum is not marketed as a cure for the cold and flu, but as a symptom reliever - like expensive and far less tasty chicken noodle soup. Indeed, in this short article about Homeocoksinum, Biosvert cites research that she says "has shown what mothers have known for centuries - that chicken soup is good for a cold". Homeocoksinum, Biosvert then suggests, is merely "a unique way to take your soup".
The significance of this will become clear in a moment, but it is worth taking a second to look into this claim that research has shown chicken soup to be good for a cold. Is this true?
The short answer is: no.
The long answer is: no, it's not true.
The research Biosvert is talking about (click here to view the study) in no way showed "that chicken soup is good for a cold". It did show that the soup broth inhibited the movement of neutrophils (aka white blood cells: cells that help defend the body from infection) when mixed with blood samples. And the authors did speculate that this could possibly translate into cold/flu symptom reduction in living, flu-afflicted people. However, they were also careful to point out that
"Whether clinical benefits would be obtained from chicken soup . . . remains untested."
What is in it?
The reason Biosvert seeks to sell us on chicken noodle soup is because the active ingredient in Homeocoksinum is "anas barbariae hepatis et cordis" - fancy talk for "heart and liver extract of Muscovy duck". Homeocoksinum, exclaims Biosvert, "is 'duck soup'!"
The full chain of logic we are supposed to follow thus presents itself:
1. chicken soup helps with a cold/flu
2. ducks are similar to chickens
3. Homeocoksinum contains duck extract
4. thus, Homeocoksinum helps with a cold/flu.
Can you see the weak link in this reasoning? It's all of them. Not only has chicken soup not been shown to help with a cold/flu, but even if it had been, it wouldn't necessarily follow that duck soup would help, too. Let alone extract of a duck's heart and liver.
But I've saved the best part for last. According to the package, the duck extract in Homeocoksinum is so diluted that the chance of the above-pictured package containing even a single molecule of it is almost zero. Let me explain: the package says that it is diluted to "200C", which means that Homeocan took a drop of duck extract and diluted it into 99 drops of water. Then, they diluted this again into another 99 drops of water. And again. And again... In fact, they repeated this step 200 times. In other words: Homeocoksinum effectively does not contain any duck extract - its alleged "active ingredient" - at all.
And the only other listed ingredients it contains? Sucrose and lactose - also known as "sugar". But I guess "sugar soup" just doesn't have the same ring to it.
If this sounds insane to you, that's because it is.
However, perhaps one could argue that Biosvert is simply selling a placebo. After all, if there's one thing placebos can do it's make people feel better, and that's really all she's claiming this product does, anyway. What's the problem with that?
The problem, to my mind, is that Biosvert is not marketing Homeocoksinum as a placebo but as real, inherently effective medicine. Her "chicken soup" pitch makes this clear. Other indications of this are that she bills herself as a "pharmacist" rather than a "homeopath"; and that Homeocoksinum is loudly touted as having "no known side effects" and yet it also warns consumers: "do not exceed recommended dosage" (I suspect this indicates an attempt to provide a side effect-free alternative to real medicine while also making it seem like there is an ideal dosage of Homeocoksinum - just like real medicine). And using blatant dishonesty to take people's money is, in my book, a problem.
Indeed, some might go so far as to call that the very definition of the word "scam".