The Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse Has Moved.

My old website can be found at I am no longer updating the site, so there will be dead links. The static information provided by me is still sound.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or or or a whole lot of other places that Smashwords is suppose to distribute the book to. Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

I suffer the universal malady of spam and adbots, so I moderate comments here. That may mean you'll see a long lag before I remember to check the site and approve them. Despite the gap, you'll always get your say. I read every single one, and every legitimate one gets posted.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Nightmare Advice on Allergies

I write fantasy and science fiction professionally. Even so I swear I could never make anything up as wild as homeopathy.

Homeopathy is based on the ancient folklore of "like cures like." Practitioners take herbs that create symptoms superficially similar to those produced by a disease or ailment and then dilute them until nothing but water and a "memory" of the herb is left. This magically creates a cure.

You can therefore use homeopathy to cure just about anything that creates symptoms. Ricky Hussey in The American Chronicle want to cure eczema this way.


Homeopathy Apis, Graphites, Pulsatilla, Rhus tox., and Sulfur may be helpful. Herbal Medicine Marigold tea, calendula ointment, or aloe vera gel are all helpful. Aromatherapy Add 12 drops of fennel, geranium, or sandalwood to 2fl oz/60ml of carrier oil.

Pulsatilla? It's "the weather cock among remedies." What? Huh? Even after reading this site I can't figure out what that's supposed to mean.
The disposition and mental state are the chief guiding symptoms to the selection of Pulsatilla. It is pre-eminently a female remedy, especially for mild, gentle, yielding disposition. Sad, crying readily; weeps when talking; Changeable, contradictory. The patient seeks the open air; always feels better there, even though he is chilly. Mucous membranes are all affected. Discharges thick, bland, and yellowish-green. Often indicated after abuse of Iron tonics, and after badly-managed measles. Symptoms ever changing. thirstless, peevish, and chilly. When first serious impairment of health is referred to age of puberty. Great sensitiveness. Wants the head high. Feels uncomfortable with only one pillow. Lies with hands above head.[bolding and punctuation as in original]

Wow. If this were the 60s, everybody would know what this guy was on, and they wouldn't think homeopathy.

What's even worse is that many, if not most, homeopathic pills are made out of lactose. The Organic Pharmacy dips its toe into the world of science.
Homeopathic products are very clean-meaning they have no binders, fillers or coatings. The soft molded lactose tablets are made to dissolve almost instantly when placed in the mouth. Because the remedies dissolve in the mouth, they are absorbed by the mucous membranes in the mouth and carried directly into your system. For this reason, the remedies work faster than conventional medicines because conventional medicines are usually coated and don't get absorbed into the system until the coating is dissolved by the stomach acid, and that generally takes about twenty minutes.

In standard, or allopathic, medicine, this is called sublingual administration. It can be very effective, but doctors and pharmacists will note that not every chemical works well this way, with some not mixing well with saliva or containing chemicals too large to be absorbed.

Besides, if lactose isn't a binder or filler, then what conceivable role does it play?

For even more evidence that homeopathists understand nothing of chemistry, here is another mind-busting statement from the pulsatilla site:
[Q.]Does anyone know if there can be a problem using the homeopathic tablets which are lactose tablets when a person is lactose intolerant?

[A.]Probably no problem. But if you wish you can disolve them in water further diluting any lactose content.

Dilution solves everything! Yay!

Lactose is lactose. The amount you take in counts. It doesn't matter if the amount is concentrated in a pill or spread through a glass of water. That same amount will enter your intestines.

This is absolutely the most basic chemistry of digestion. If the homeopaths don't know this, you shouldn't allow them or any of their products within a thousand feet of your intestines.

And I shouldn't have to tell you that people with serious dairy allergies will avoid any product that contains lactose in the first place.

Homeopathy is a nightmare of pseudoscience and its most ignorant peddlers are dangerous.

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Krishna said...

Homoeopathy is based on folklore? Oh! please stop exhibiting your ignorance of the subject. Writing fiction is different and understanding reality like Homoeopathy is different. It requires sincerity in approach , appreciation of the proof before you and a lot. Homoeopathy is really an effective system of treatment and you need not be scared about it. First sincerely study what it is then pass your comments - please!

Steve Carper said...

Anyone who wants to read about the history of homeopathy can start with Homeopathy: The Ultimate Fake, by Stephen Barrett, M.D.

In 2005, the leading British medical journal, The Lancet went on the attack against homeopathy when it published both Are the clinical effects of homoeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homoeopathy and allopathy, by Aijing Shang et al. and an editorial entitled "The End of Homeopathy."

Shang's group's article was a meta-study of previously done research on homeopathy. Here's is the summary:

Homoeopathy is widely used, but specific effects of homoeopathic remedies seem implausible. Bias in the conduct and reporting of trials is a possible explanation for positive findings of trials of both homoeopathy and conventional medicine. We analysed trials of homoeopathy and conventional medicine and estimated treatment effects in trials least likely to be affected by bias.

Placebo-controlled trials of homoeopathy were identified by a comprehensive literature search, which covered 19 electronic databases, reference lists of relevant papers, and contacts with experts. Trials in conventional medicine matched to homoeopathy trials for disorder and type of outcome were randomly selected from the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register (issue 1, 2003). Data were extracted in duplicate and outcomes coded so that odds ratios below 1 indicated benefit. Trials described as double-blind, with adequate randomisation, were assumed to be of higher methodological quality. Bias effects were examined in funnel plots and meta-regression models.

110 homoeopathy trials and 110 matched conventional-medicine trials were analysed. The median study size was 65 participants (range ten to 1573). 21 homoeopathy trials (19%) and nine (8%) conventional-medicine trials were of higher quality. In both groups, smaller trials and those of lower quality showed more beneficial treatment effects than larger and higher-quality trials. When the analysis was restricted to large trials of higher quality, the odds ratio was 0·88 (95% CI 0·65–1·19) for homoeopathy (eight trials) and 0·58 (0·39–0·85) for conventional medicine (six trials).

Biases are present in placebo-controlled trials of both homoeopathy and conventional medicine. When account was taken for these biases in the analysis, there was weak evidence for a specific effect of homoeopathic remedies, but strong evidence for specific effects of conventional interventions. This finding is compatible with the notion that the clinical effects of homoeopathy are placebo effects.

An interesting personal viewpoint is present by Prof. Michael Baum in the International Journal of Surgery. has a neutral five-page fact sheet on homeopathy including the current U.S. FDA regulations (or lack of them) on homeopathic products.