Alternative therapies enter Choice Hall of Shame


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A homeopathic melatonin product and magnet therapy have “won” Shonky Awards, handed out by Choice

Choice launched its Shonkies in 2006, to “call out some of the shonkiest products and companies taking advantage of Australian consumers each year”.

Joining the Shonkys “Hall of Shame” this year was Pharmacare’s Bioglan, for its homeopathic sleep formula.

“In 2017, we awarded Bioglan and another Pharmacare brand, Nature’s Way, a Shonky for its outrageous claims that sticky, sugary lollies are in fact good for teeth,” says Choice.

“This year, Pharmacare and Bioglan receive another dubious honour for its over-the-counter Melatonin Homeopathic Sleep Formula.

“While melatonin (currently a prescription-only medicine in Australia) is known to promote sleep and is used to help people suffering jet lag or sleep disorders, there’s no reliable evidence that homeopathic melatonin (or homeopathic products in general) has any effect other than as a placebo.

“Despite this, the company makes the claim that Bioglan Melatonin helps ‘relieve mild temporary insomnia and symptoms of mild nervous tension’.”

Choice also takes aim at the fact that the product is available in chewable tablet form or oral spray, both making the same claims around insomnia; however the dose for tablets is three to five, half an hour before bedtime, whereas the spray claims to “work quickly”.

Bioglan’s web page advises that results depend on the frequency of dosing, not the quantity used, due to the way homeopathy purportedly works.

“To be fair to Bioglan, consuming more does support the primary reason for this product’s existence – the more tablets people chew, the sooner they’ll potentially cough up another $24.50 (RRP),” says Choice.

“Melatonin Homeopathic Sleep Formula is packaged like medication and sold in a pharmacy. But with murky claims that are not supported with evidence, wasting money is the only area where this product is proven to be effective.

“Not only does Bioglan Melatonin not help you sleep, it’s Shonky enough that you might lose sleep worrying about the brazen trickery this company gets away with.”

Another alternative therapy – magnetic therapy – took out a second Shonky.

“Magnetic therapy promises to take away or relieve pain through placing weak static magnets at pain points around the body,” says Choice.

“A magnet that removes pain? With such a bold claim, you’d hope for some type of evidence, but there’s a clear lack of studies that prove these devices aren’t simply placebos.”

Choice cites a meta-analysis of nine placebo-controlled randomised trials, conducted by professors at the Complementary Medicine Centre from the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, which did not find evidence to support the use of static magnets for pain relief.

Choice criticised the entire concept of these magnets, not focusing on one particular brand, though it does highlight that two prominent brands are Dick Wicks and BioMagnetic Sport.

While these products’ websites do point out that the devices are not medical treatments, and that advice on the sites is not a substitute for medical care, to get to this disclaimer first means getting through a number of pain relief claims.

Advice on the BioMagnetic Sport site – to persist with the device until up to 28 days even if a patient does not feel it is working – could delay patients seeking medical treatment, says Choice.

Also making it into the Hall of Shame this year were Marriot’s Vacation Club; Commonwealth Bank’s Dollarmites program; portacots; and the KitchenAid 2 Slice toaster, “for miserably failing its only job”.

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18 Comments

  1. rosross
    06/10/2018

    Ah the irony. The most shonky products are in conventional medicine. Statins for instance. It is conventional prescribed medicine which is now the third top killer and the target is Homeopathy. Hypocrisy.

    • Tom Cornwall
      06/10/2018

      If you’re going to make a claim that flies in the face of modern medicine, at least provide something substantial to back it up.

      • rosross
        06/10/2018

        Sadly the levels of corruption in modern science-medicine are now so great you cannot trust anything they say.

        Not me saying that but former editors of The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine, and the work of Dr John Ioannidis, saying most published research is false.

        https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/828448/statins-warning-heart-medicine-fail-harms-health-study-reveals

        • Tom Cornwall
          06/10/2018

          Appreciate your response.

          • rosross
            06/10/2018

            Apologies for not being substantive.

        • Jarrod McMaugh
          09/10/2018

          I guess that’s not so bad, since it would be allopathic corruption & wouldn’t be as devestating as corruption that has been removed, since the people left behind would be affected by the memory of the corruption that had been there previously, making it much more potent that the allopathic corruption while it existed.

          OR

          There are no conspiracies & people use this argument for obfuscation

          • rosross
            10/10/2018

            No, any corruption is bad. Some may be more deadly in terms of outcome, like allopathic drugs, but corruption is corruption.

            We need to have reliable science and we desperately need to have reliable science-medicine given the toxic and often deadly nature of conventional or allopathic medicine. We also need reliable science if we are to have any sort of responsible and honest research into non-allopathic modalities.

            Science in general needs to clean up its act and science-medicine even more so.

          • Jarrod McMaugh
            10/10/2018

            Nah

            You aren’t interested in science.

            You’re interested in people agreeing with you

          • rosross
            10/10/2018

            Well, the science in which I am interested no longer exists in the main. Objective, rigorous, ethical science. What we have now is agenda-driven and distorted ‘science’ which is a betrayal of the scientific system of enquiry.

            I don’t need anyone to agree with me but I do believe the world needs people to agree that we need to clean up the corrupted scientific system so it can return to some sort of credibility.

          • Jarrod McMaugh
            10/10/2018

            Irony ……

          • rosross
            10/10/2018

            Social media is cryptic. If you are going to attempt irony you need to alert people otherwise it is missed.

          • Jarrod McMaugh
            11/10/2018

            You certainly are missing the point on a lot of my responses.

            The irony isn’t in what i’ve been saying, but it is heavily present in this conversation

          • rosross
            11/10/2018

            Perhaps clarity not irony would be a better approach.

  2. luis trapaga
    06/10/2018

    While Bioglan deservedly win awards for shonky products, such as last year’s Gummie products, the consensus on homeopathy, in Australia and the UK at least, has been mislead by modern medicine, or more accurately, science officers employed by our government to provide an unbiased evaluation. The NHMRC board set up to investigate the validity of homeopathy is currently before the senate, attempting to explain why their report was utterly fraudulent, an instance of serious maladministration and a waste of a million dollars in public funds.
    Tom Cornwall, why do you conflate a therapeutic modality such as homeopathy with a manufacturer who only makes one homeopathic product? And then postulate “modern medicine” as some sort of uniform and unbiased authority?
    As for Choice’s idea’s about the use of magnets in therapy, “Magnetic therapy promises to take away or relieve pain through placing weak static magnets at pain points around the body,” – how about the use of strong magnets or the use of fluctuating magnet fields?
    The issue with critics of complimentary medicine is that they rarely have a qualification, experience or knowledge of the area in question.

    • Tom Cornwall
      06/10/2018

      I don’t feel any need to defend your interpretation of my views.

    • rosross
      06/10/2018

      You touch upon a truth which is depressingly common. I have yet to see something written by an individual seeking to debunk Homeopathic medicine, or indeed any non-allopathic medical modality, which demonstrates any knowledge of the modality supposedly being debunked.

      As a journalist trained in the old days, where information and balance were required to substantiate claims, I am sorry to see so much opinion and so little informed information on important topics.

      Given the harm done by conventional, or allopathic medicine, even as we recognise its clear skills in crisis/trauma and surgery, it seems ridiculous that so much effort goes into mocking other effective medical modalities which not only really do no harm, but which are much more economical to use.

      As countries are crippled by the cost of medical care and the population grows more sickly, it is very clear whatever modern medicine does, it does not create good health or affordable care.

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