Pharmacy experts find ‘vaccines’ just sugar

homoeopathy pills and blue bottle

Queensland pharmacy academics have assisted a Courier-Mail investigation into homeopathic medicines for kids – which turned out to be made from sugar

The Courier-Mail investigated a Brisbane homeopath, Cyena Caruana, who it says sells “vaccination alternatives” for babies and children as well as adult travellers, claiming that they can be used to prevent infectious diseases including measles.

The newspaper bought vaccination and booster pilules from Ms Caruana’s Homeopathy at Home Facebook page, including a $251.50 Homeopathic Travel Kit.

It then brought them to AJP contributors Professor Lisa Nissen and Dr Esther Lau.

Prof Nissen and Dr Lau, from Queensland University of Technology, are referring the matter to the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Dr Lau’s report on the “medicines” found that “from these preliminary results, there is nothing to suggest the vaccines are ­different from sucrose.

Dr Esther Lau. Image: LinkedIn

“These vaccines would be useless at guarding against the diseases on the labels, and there is no biologically plausible explanation as to how these vaccines could possibly work.

“It is frightening to think that these products are on the market and that they are being sold as ‘vaccines’.”

Dr Lau and colleagues took 10 of the “vaccine” pilules and dissolved each in a millilitre of distilled water, then did a UV scan and compared them to white sugar.

“The premise of homeopathy is that the original material contained within the preparation is diluted over and over again, often to the point where none of the original material is contained within the preparation,” she said.

“Every time there is a dilution there is supposed to be a phase… which some believe imparts some kind of energy… into the water molecules.

“Of course, our analytical equipment would be ­unable to measure any such energy.”

Prof Nissen told the Courier-Mail’s Rose Brennan that “it’s dangerous for punters out there who don’t know any better”.

Ms Caruana told Ms Brennan that there is “a lot of clinical evidence” to support homeopathy.

“I’m sure in 10 years, 20 years’ time we will find that there is a evidence base for it — it’s just it hasn’t been discovered,” she said.

But Australian Medical Association of Queensland president Dr Chris Zappala attacked the sale of the “homeopathic” products, saying it was “unconscionable”.

He called for an investigation by the health ombudsman.

Meanwhile, the Government has removed private health subsidies from a range of alternative treatments, homeopathy included.

Read the full Courier-Mail report here.

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  1. Laurie Forbes

    Homeopathy is an absurdity and a scam. Good for Prof Nissen and Dr Lau for taking this on!

    • Susan Abrahams

      I am a pharmacist AND a homeopath. It absolutely works and is a great alternative especially for children where there is no alternative in allopathic medicine for coughs and colds in young children. It is the second most widely used form of healthcare worldwide and is endorsed by WHO. It is used by millions of people across the world and especially in Europe. Just because you don’t understand it nor have bothered to research it doesn’t mean it doesn’t work!

      • Jarrod McMaugh

        Gday Susan

        Specific to the article, they discuss homeopathy vaccines. Would you support the use of these products?

        I don’t think there is a single pharmacist in Australia who isnt aware of the purported mechanism of action of homeopathy. Suggesting that critics of homeopathy don’t understand it or have not bothered to research it isn’t very rigorous.

        Regardless of whether homeopathy works or not, one thing that is clear is that commercially manufactured homeopathy products are antithetical to the concept, since each “remedy” is supposed to be individualised after consultation with the specific patient and formulated not only to that person, but to the specific health issues they have at the time of the consultation…. Which would change over time.

        It’s not legitimate to sell homeopathy products in pharmacy for one of two reasons – either it’s ineffective, or the products commercially sold do not meet the criteria of homeopathy.

        Stocking them in order to have a conversation with those people who ask for it is also a poor excuse. I don’t stock it. People still ask. I have the conversations, and no one ever buys it from me as a result.

      • Laurie Forbes

        Ah, you have no idea who I am yet you assume I “don’t understand it” or have not “bothered to research” homeopathy. Bass-ackwards reasoning IMO, typical of believers and hucksters of alt-med snake oil and other forms of irrationality. BTW, astrology, fortune telling, communicating with the dead and many other types of nonsense are also “used by millions of people across the world”. This does not serve in any way to make such beliefs any more plausible than homeopathy (or alt-med in general).

        I find it particularly egregious that homeopathy is practiced on children who are at the mercy of homeopaths and their gullible parents. And, “no alternative for coughs and colds in young children”? Are you kidding??

        And, how about homeopathic vaccines, antibiotics and cancer treatments? Do you sell them as well? If not (which I sincerely hope is the case), how do you make the distinction? Science illiteracy is not a pleasant thing to behold…

      • pagophilus

        There are all sorts of symptomatic treatments you can give children with coughs and colds – even honey and lemon with or without cayenne pepper. But all they do is soothe the throat and relieve irritation. That’s ok. But homeopathic vaccines – no. They are useless, and suggesting to patients that they may help prevent an infection is just plain lying (whether you believe the lie or not).

      • zeno001

        Susan Abrahams said:

        “It is the second most widely used form of healthcare worldwide and is endorsed by WHO.”

        Where do they say that?

  2. Jarrod McMaugh

    Pharmacists should be mindful of this case and really think about whether they want to be involved in selling scam products too.

    First thing I did in my pharmacy was remove all homeopathy junk.

    If someone asks for it, I educate them instead of ripping them off.

    • Laurie Forbes

      The pharmacies here (Canada) are full of the stuff (plus the typical other alt-med junk). I have yet to find one that is not which is a sad commentary not only on the pharmacy owners but also on the governing bodies. Fraud used to be fraud but it seems not so much these days…

      • Jarrod McMaugh

        In Australia we have to have the products banned by the TGA before pharmacy bodies can censure a pharmacist for selling them.

        While our peak body has a guidance document and position statement that directs pharmacists to use their clinical knowledge to ensure patients get best treatment, which includes not recommending homeopathic products and actively discouraging their use, there is no avenue to censure pharmacists who still sell it.

  3. Dana Ullman

    This article embodies an unscientific attitude. No explanation was provided as to what modern technologies were used to assess whether there were nanodoses of specific homeopathic medicines. The journal, LANGMUIR (published by the American Chemistry Society) found that nanodoses of SIX different homeopathic medicines were found in solutions, even those that were diluted 1:100 30 times or even 200 times. Further, these nanodoses resembled the similar nanodoses in which our hormones are known to operate. Is this author actually suggesting that our hormones act in nanodoses and that they are placebo? Let’s hope not!

    Still, further, because this author is seemingly uninformed or ignorant about homeopathic research. Does he know that a study of 2 million Cubans found efficacy from the Leptospirosis epidemic from a homeopathic medicine:

    Still, further, the Secretary of Health from a city in Brazil asserts efficacy of homeopathic medicines in preventing dengue fever: de Souza Nunes, Laila Aparecida (Municipal Secretary of Health). Contribution of homeopathy to the control of an outbreak of dengue in Macaé, Rio de Janeiro, Macaé, RJ, Brazil Int J High Dilution Res 2008; 7(25):186-192.
    — Some news reports about this research, with interviews with the Secretary of Health of this city in Brazil:

    Is this author actually discouraging the use of safe medicines to prevent diseases? I hope NOT!

    • Dana Ullman

      My links to the dengue fever study by the Secretary of Health of a city in Brazil are broken…but here’s the direct link to the study:

    • Jarrod McMaugh

      Gday Dana

      1) the article is a news item, not a scientific discussion.
      2) the author is Megan Hagan, not “he”
      3) comparing homeopathy to hormones is a logical fallacy
      4) both of the articles you link – while well written, are not capable of making the conclusions that they do. For instance, the dengue fever article does not take in to account that the specific instructions given to recipients of the homeopathy intervention specifically instruct them on avoiding exposure – the pamphlet may have been the succesful intervention through education.

      • Dana Ullman

        Thanx for the minor corrections…but you missed my point about hormones. My point here is that they are known to have significant physiological effects at nanodose levels…and according to a seminal study published in a highly respected scientific journal, nanodoses of SIX different homeopathic medicines were found in solutions even after 200 dilutions of 1:100. Skeptics and others who actively work to mis-inform the public about homeopathy (including the author of THIS article) assert that there is “nothing” in homeopathic medicines.
        Chikramane PS, Kalita D, Suresh AK, Kane SG, Bellare JR. Why Extreme Dilutions Reach Non-zero Asymptotes: A Nanoparticulate Hypothesis Based on Froth Flotation. Langmuir. 2012 Nov 1.

        The author of this article did not show ANY evidence that there is “nothing but sugar” in homeopathic medicines. It is simply her or others’ “theory,” not scientifically verified, especially in the highly technical way that it needs to be done. Such remarks are actually libelous against homeopathic pharmaceutical companies. Show us the evidence or apologize.

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