Friday, July 08, 2005

Homeopathic Similasan

A commercial I heard on the radio got me started on this one.

Similasan is a brand of homeopathic “medication” that comes in various types. Various eye drop products advertised on their website treat Pink Eye, allergies, cataracts, and dryness. I can think of one (and only one) of these conditions that the product may actually help.

For those unfamiliar with homeopathic remedies, the website provides an explanation. “Similasan products stimulate the body to heal itself by utilizing ‘microdilutions’ of the active ingredients.” Homeopathic solutions are generally described with an X-factor that describes the order of magnitude of dilution. For example, a 6X homeopathic solution has been diluted so that it only contains one part per million of active ingredient.

This homeopathic mode of action is similar in theory to a conventional allergy or flu shot, yet the active ingredients in homeopathic products are much more dilute, and are therefore safe for all ages without known side effects.
Well, they’re half right. The homeopathic “mode of action” is in no way similar to a conventional allergy shot. It is, however, safe to administer and side-effect free; not surprising since there’s really nothing there but water.

Supposedly the active ingredient is some substance that would actually cause the symptoms that the medication treats. The concentration is supposedly so low that it won’t cause symptoms, but the mere presence of this undetectable quantity of the material will stimulate your immune system to heal any condition that causes the same symptoms. In their words…

For example, a microdilution of honey bee will trigger the body to fight symptoms such as burning, stinging and swelling. In many cases, the cause of such symptoms is an allergy, therefore the ingredient apis (honey bee) is used to treat allergies.

That’s right. They expect you to believe that a virtually non-existent dose of “honey bee” that your immune system can’t detect in order to produce an allergic reaction (assuming you would have a reaction in the first place) will stimulate your immune system to counter any allergen.

Talk about self-contradictory.

Generally speaking, homeopathic remedies of any type are like the Wine Clip: useless but harmless. The problem is that some people might use a homeopathic remedy to treat a serious ailment instead of seeing a real physician. That’s when homeopathy can become dangerous.

I find the following disclaimer for their Pink Eye remedy somewhat enlightening:

Stop use and ask a doctor if:
  • Symptoms worsen or persist for more than 72 hours.

  • Changes in vision occur.

  • You might have a serious underlying medical cause for the infection.

That’s the escape clause. They know that many minor conditions will clear up on their own without a physician’s assistance, so they send you to a doctor if their “treatment” hasn’t “cured” you within three days or if you already know that you’ve got a “serious underlying medical cause” for you condition.

I call that legalese for “this stuff doesn’t treat real infections.”

It goes without saying that there's no sign of a clinical trial for any of these treatments anywhere on the website.

Don’t waste your money on this stuff people. It’s just water.


Marisa said...

Sorry but I have to say a comment here :)

I've been using the Similasan Sinus Relief stuff after getting horrible sinus headaches this season and also fighting sinusitis.

Since using this (for two weeks now) no sinus headaches. Much better than sticking a steroid (flonase) up my nose.

Thanks for sharing your info, because it may be the case with some of the homeopathic stuff on the shelves today.

Lord Runolfr said...

Chica, what you have is an "anecdote". As far as anyone can tell, the relief of your symptoms at the time you started using Similisan was just a coincidence. Similisan is just water. You got better on your own; give yourself the credit.