Let’s Take the Snake Oil off Our Shelves

snake oil

I haven’t written anything recently, in fact, quite a while, about homeopathy. I think this is one of the subjects that as skeptics, we could come to agreement on: it’s all based on zero scientific evidence. We should be working  to have these ineffective and sometimes dangerous products, removed from being able to be sold or even promoted.

When I say dangerous, I really mean it. Remember the Zicam incident from 2009? They sold a cold remedy in which people would swab the inside of their noses to prevent or lessen the effects of the cold virus. People lost their sense of smell, Some permanently.

The Federal Trade Commission has, over the years, fined several of these companies for making false claims about their products. Yet they, at least most of them, are still in business.

We, the taxpayer, even fund research into what is known as CAM (Complementary Alternative Medicine). Medicine. But yes, under the National Institute of Health, there is the National Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NICAM) which is funded by you and me to the amount of around $200 million per year.  Of course, their research into these homeopathic remedies have produced zero positive results.

None of this prevents people from purchasing any of these fake remedies though. Just walk into your local pharmacy and you’ll see shelves of this junk. Yes, at the pharmacy. Of course they wouldn’t have it on their shelves if people didn’t buy it but I tend to think that they should be a bit more responsible towards their customers. Several years ago, these same companies stopped selling cigarettes, and that was the right thing to do, but they still have on their shelves these products that do nothing at best, and can be harmful, even cause death, at worst.

I just saw a post over at Skeptic Review that caught my eye about a treatment being sold for believe it or not, autism. It’s known as Miracle Medical Solution and is being sold pretty much everywhere. Please read the post carefully. This is a very dangerous chemical that has been known to have caused several deaths. The FDA began warning about it some 8 years ago. Other countries have warned consumers about it also, yet it’s still being sold in many commercial venues. It should be a banned substance, throughout the world.

Many of these same companies that produce CAM claim that they have clinical studies showing their products effectiveness. If that were true, then why haven’t we seen the studies and if their product is truly as effective as claimed, why not submit these remedies to the FDA for approval? Could it be that these studies are a sham?

Skeptics around the world need to place pressure on their governments to ban these products. That most of them do no actual, direct harm, is not a good reason for letting them be sold to ill informed consumers. That someone’s condition may become worse because they are taking an ineffective treatment should be cause enough. We need to end this snake oil industry. The sooner, the better.

3 thoughts on “Let’s Take the Snake Oil off Our Shelves

  1. Just another scam, right? Shouldn’t this be illegal? If you get sold something and you keep paying for it month after month, year after year, and it is never delivered, is this a scam? GROG


    • Yes it is a scam. But the thinking, I believe is that if it actually doesn’t cause harm, let the rubes that want it have it. The problem as I said is that people may be using these thinking it may help a current illness, and the illness becomes worse because what they’re using, does nothing.


  2. OMG, the more religious a family is, the more it seems that they use this and other worthless treatments. As I can understand it, they tend to think of it as natural and not part of the questionable human science of medicine, which people of God should shun. The waste in money and human time is astounding. JWs are great for that. Until finally, emergencies arise and they are forced to use medical resources to save their life. They may change one bit of their health practices, but they return to the scams again.

    Government shouldn’t be in the business of protecting its citizens from their health choices, but it is. And…if it is, then this crap should be made illegal. There are insurance companies in some states that pay for “healing touch” …I think that is what this farce is called. Outrageous!

    “First, do no harm” makes a good motto, but “buyer beware” is a better one. If we want government to take care of us, then we end up paying for it in unexpected manners. For instance, the war on opioids is devastating to those who must have them for chronic and intractable pain, but in its zeal to protect addicts from themselves, the government does not seem to care about them. The price they and those who love them are paying is far, far too high.


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