Its adherents swear by its effectiveness, but one noted Canadian educator is leaving no ambiguity about what he thinks of homeopathy.
“It’s a joke, is what it is,” said Professor Joe Schwarcz, the head of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society and host of “The Dr. Joe Show” on Montreal’s CJAD. “Homeopathy has no legitimacy. It’s a scientifically bankrupt idea and it should not be promoted in any way.”
Schwarcz was responding to Health Canada’s recent order that requires certain homeopathic products to clearly label that they are not vaccines or alternatives to vaccines.
Some homeopaths use so-called “nosodes” -supposed remedies that are made from diseased tissue. A investigation from CBC’s Marketplace found homeopaths prescribing nosodes to parents as an alternative to vaccines.
“Homeopathic vaccines hurt people and hurt our society. Warning labels will help but nosodes should be banned,” says Canadian Medical Association president Dr. Chris Simpson.
Controversially, Health Canada has approved the use of nosodes, but the products must contain the warning: “This product is neither a vaccine nor an alternative to vaccination. This product has not been proven to prevent infection. Health Canada does not recommend its use in children and advises that your child receive all routine vaccinations.”
Schwarcz, however, thinks nosodes should be banned altogether. And he’s not alone.
In May, the Canadian Canadian Paediatric Society urged the government to crack down on nosodes.
“Parents need to understand that the evidence would not support the use of these to prevent vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Dr. Michael Rieder, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research chair in pediatric clinical pharmacology.
In July, a new study showed Canada is falling short of a key level of community immunization.
Stats Canada’s “2013 Childhood National Immunization Coverage Survey” revealed that about 89% of two-year-olds had received the recommended number of immunizations against measles, mumps and rubella and about 77% of two-year-olds had received the required number of shots for diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus.
The 89% number falls short of a key level that scientists believe helps prevent the outbreak of disease. A vaccination level of 95% ensures what is referred to as “herd immunity” or “community immunity”. When this level of the population is vaccinated, disease has almost no chance of spreading to society at large.
The result is a return of diseases one thought to be eradicated.
In March, at outbreak of measles Quebec’s Lanaudière region affected at least 199 people. Two days ago, health officials warned of an outbreak of Whooping Cough in the Okanagan, and urged parents to get the pertussis vaccine.
While some parents will no doubt ignore the warnings and try to use nosodes to protect their children from Whopping Cough, the chorus of scientists opposing them is growing louder, and includes the head of the Canadian Medical Association
“Homeopathic vaccines hurt people and hurt our society. Warning labels will help but nosodes should be banned,” says CMA president Dr. Chris Simpson.
Below: “Vaccines: What advice do parents get? Hidden camera investigation (CBC Marketplace)”