Whole Foods Homeopathy

Posted by Phil Ferguson on October 2nd, 2012 – 40 Comments – Posted in Uncategorized

Can we talk about Whole Foods homeopathy?

I have not done much on homeopathy lately because it is so obviously silly that no one would even think of using it.  Right?

Well this weekend I was shocked back to the sad world of woo that we actually live in.

We were visiting family over the weekend and I could tell by the increase pressure in my sinuses that I had caught an infection from my son.  We stopped in a “Whole foods” market for some supplies and I went looking for the section that would have a decongestant.

My son and I walked in and started to look around.  The store is beautiful and there is a fantastic selection of  fresh food.  Near the middle of the store we found this part of the store.  Note the sign says things like, “Homeopathy, Seasonal Support, Immune Support etc…”

Whole Foods And Homeopathy

On the left you can see three “consultants” working on a computer.  Also in front of them are several hundred bottles of homeopathic crap.  They also had this section of Homeopathic stuff…

Whole Foods And Homeopathy vials

While I was taking pictures one of the “consultants” came over and asked if we needed help.  I said something like, “No, we are just having fun laughing at all the fake medicine.”  She did not seem to like my answer but, left us alone.

After several minutes of fun reading labels and checking out the books that explain homeopathy we decided to get back to our mission of finding a decongestant.  Around all of the homeopathy was several isles of “supplements”.  After we looked around we went and asked for help.  We approached the consultants and asked where the real medicine was.  They just stared at me.  I suggested things like Tylenol or Sudafed.  One of them said, “We don’t have that kind of stuff here.”  What?  I was sure they were joking, maybe to get back at me for the “fake medicine” comment.  So, I asked again.

NOPE!  Whole foods does not carry that type of product.  I walked to my car with a Woo induced pain.

Has anyone else been to Whole Foods or another store like this?

  1. adam says:

    It’s a natural food store. Why did you go in there? If you want “standard food” and “western medicine” go to a CVS or a Stop & Shop Supermarket!

    • Darlene says:

      LOL! That’s what I was thinking!
      To the author, you seem sueprised at the very existence if a natural food store that doesn’t sell medicine. Did you think there’s only one kind of store? Were you born and raised inside a Walmart, and only recently granted parole?

    • Phil says:

      There is not “western medicine” there is only medicine and bullshit. I have seen the occasional fake medicine in stores but never been to a store of this type. I will stick to walgreens for actual medicine.

      • TearsTheWingsOffAngels says:

        “There is not “western medicine” there is only medicine and bullshit.” ~ Indeed. I think you may be quoting Penn Jillette.

      • Sasha says:

        Yes, of the hundreds and hundreds of practices of medicine through human history, only modern pharmaceuticals do anything and the rest is 100% placebo bullshit. Because humans are just incredibly, incredibly stupid, and only YOU are smart enough to recognize this.

        • no says:

          shitty useless strawman

        • Bob says:

          “of the hundreds and hundreds of practices of medicine through human history,”

          Yes, of the hundreds and hundreds of practices of medicine through human history, the ones that work are now called “medicine”, and the rest are called “bullshit”.

        • AHodges says:

          There is medicine that has been proven to work, and quackery like homeopathy and the like that have not. And just because someone is against conning people out of money with these ridiculous tinctures and sugar pills doesn’t mean they buy into everything Western medicine and pharmaceutical companies put out either. A true skeptic questions, and demands evidence, before believing anything.

          Plenty of us who enjoy healthy, natural foods are also skeptical of the sort of “medicine” section places like Whole Foods have. It’s a mistake to assume that just because someone prefers natural foods that they are also willing to buy into woo and other bullshit.

    • Ian Monroe says:

      Walgreens has all sorts of ‘natural’ remedies. Turnabout is fair play, why doesn’t Whole Foods carry scientific medicine ?

      • Sasha says:

        Because we live in a market economy. Whole Foods customers don’t want that stuff. It’s really simple.

        • If they’d like to keep their customers alive, then they’d damn well better sell them real medicine.

          • David Henderson says:

            They don’t need to sell medicine to keep their customers alive. The human immune system is remarkably strong, and most people will survive what the world throws at them. So people taking no medicine for a stomachache and people taking a placebo for a stomachache will have similar survival rates – that is to say, most of them will survive.

        • Levi says:

          Most Whole Foods customers dont even realize or accept the fact that GMO veggies etc. have the SAME nutrition as “natural” foods.

  2. Jerry Kindall says:

    Many grocery stores have pharmacies now, and most at least have an aisle where you can find over-the-counter medications. Since it’s a grocery store, it’s not entirely unreasonable to expect Whole Foods to have such an aisle. Sure, their aspirin would be from natural willow bark and cost four times what it should, but still.

  3. Dan73 says:

    i think that homeopathy is crap too, but why did you expect a wholefoods store to sell medication? The real question is not, “why did the store not sell Sudafed?”. The real question is, “”Why did it sell homeopathy?”.

  4. Seth Strong says:

    I’m with the author on this one. If Whole Foods carries homeopathic “remedies” and does not also provide real remedies, I’m not going to shop there anymore.

  5. Sunshine Bob says:

    I hear that Whole Foods is putting in a new section right next to the Homeopathy area. They’re calling the new addition, “Let’s Pray our Ills away”

  6. I do most of my grocery shopping at Berkeley Bowl (http://www.berkeleybowl.com), which is an excellent store, but their “pharmacy” department is the same way.

    I had been going there for years and didn’t realize it until I got a cold and was looking for some over-the-counter cough medicine. The employee I talked to got surprisingly flustered and defensive when I asked if they had anything that was *not* homeopathic.

  7. Chris says:

    I might also suggest that, given the age of humanity, the majority of those medical practices would seem inane and barbaric if looked at with any rational scrutiny. Medicine uses the scientific method, and any antiquated forms of medicine that are part of these ‘hundreds and hundreds of practices’ that have survived long enough to be tested are incorporated if useful/true and discarded if not. We are, as a culture, in no way required to respect and tolerate opinions (such as yours) that fly in the face of reason.

  8. Mike says:

    The ad placement on this blog is killing me by a slow death from irony.

  9. Carl says:

    I have seen a whole foods store close to where I live but have never been in one for one they sell nothing but overpriced food and of course it is labeled organic. I think most of the ones that go in there are uppity rich people driving over priced cars and ignorant of modern medicine and more money than brains.

  10. By the end of year 2010, there have been 245 human studies published in 98 peer-reviewed international medical journals (80 integrative, 9 homeopathy and 9 CAM) including 11 meta-analysis, 6 systematic reviews, 1 Cochrane Review and 100 DBRPCT in evidence of homeopathy.

    • Phil says:

      False. Please cite 1. It needs to be peer reviewed and published in a real scientific journal.

      • List of Journals and URL Links to 245 studies in them including 156 FULL TEXT papers are available as compendium at http://drnancymalik.wordpress.com/article/scientific-research-in-homeopathy

        • Phil says:

          Fail. I am not plowing through hundreds of BS citations just to have you claim another one is better. Please cite 1 or take your claims elsewhere.

          • Cochrane Review
            Homeopathic medicines for adverse effects of cancer treatments (2010)
            http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004845.pub2/full
            8 Randomised Controlled Trials with n=664
            Homeopathic medicines for the prevention or treatment of adverse effects of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and menopausal symptoms caused by hormonal therapies or oestrogen withdrawal.
            Compared with trolamine, calendula reduced the incidence of acute dermatitis of grade two or above in women undergoing radiotherapy for breast cancer in one clinical trial involving 254 participants.
            Based on a single trial involving 32 participants, one particular homeopathic combination (Traumeel S – a proprietary complex homeopathic medicine) appears to show promise in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced stomatitis.

          • Savonarola says:

            Phil wrote,
            > I am not plowing through hundreds of BS citations…
            > Please cite 1 or take your claims elsewhere.

            Dr. Nancy Malik wrote,
            > Cochrane Review
            > Homeopathic medicines for adverse effects of cancer
            > treatments (2010)
            which requires a subscription to read the full text of the article. However, the abstract is available, so what do we see there? Of eight studies, four show negative results. Two of the remaining four “positive” students aren’t explained, one more had only 32 participants, and the last studied a 4% by mass ointment. Sorry, but 4% by mass isn’t homeopathic in terms of serial dilutions; in fact, 4% by mass is more than enough for the substance, calendula, itself to have an effect.
            So no, nothing here supports the idea that water retains some imprint of molecules previously in contact with them.

            But fine, I went to Malik’s previously-linked site of over 100 allegedly pro-homeopathic peer-reviewed articles. I clicked the first one with the full text available. 404 error. So I tried the second, from the Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry. This 2004 paper specifically contains the following tidbit:
            >> It’s worth noting that no work of this kind, concerning
            >> the study of the physicochemical properties of these
            >> ‘anomalous solutions’, namely the ‘extremely diluted
            >> solutions’, with significative results, is known in
            >> current literature.
            So as of 2004, there was no published evidence for a basis for homeopathy. Not that this article changed anything.

            In my old job, we’d use deionized water to manufacture solutions. The authors of this paper used twice-distilled water. Now, using twice-distilled water isn’t slacking, but — especially for this application — why not deionize before distillation? Deionization seems a reasonable step if we’re going to be investigating the possible effects of ionic solutes present in “extremely” low concentrations.

            Anyway, the paper continues by showing averaged data for a number of diluted solutions. No data are presented for any concentrations more dilute than “12C” (in homeopathic lingo), even though common homeopathic products are equally or more dilute, 12C, 20C, 30C.

            Even still, the authors selected results. They explain that some dilutions were completely “inactive,” while others behave as “active.” They then proceed to propose explanations for the behavior of the “active” solutions without considering the “inactive” ones. This is like throwing out any negative results because you’re looking for positive ones. Moreover, would be easily explained using existing understanding of kinetic-molecular theory: in the “inactive” trials, the original samples used for serial dilution contained no solute, whereas the “active” solutions happened to have solute in the original sample. That said, we’ll see below what is even more likely to be the cause.

            The authors write,
            >> In 50% of the [already selected] samples the heat is in
            >> excess; in 35% of the samples pH was higher and in 38%
            >> of the samples the electrical conductivity was higher
            >> too.
            So in 50%, the heat wasn’t higher. Was it lower? Was it the same? How much of this is noise?
            In 35% (about a third, mind you), the pH was higher. So in two thirds, the pH wasn’t higher. No explanation is given for why *over* half of the already biased-by-selection samples don’t show an effect worth mentioning. The same goes for conductivity; why did 62% of samples show not-higher conductivity?

            Some of these questions might be answered by the authors’ own diligence. Unlike Dr. Malik, these experimenters at least seem to be *trying* to be thorough. As seen in the data tables in the article, the vast majority of anomalous readings are correlated with the presence of detectable levels of impurities.
            But even in samples where impurities were “not detected,” this just means that the levels in the samples were not different than the levels already present in the original twice-distilled water. As I pointed out earlier, if one wants to do experimentation using the presumption that the water being used contains as few contaminant ions as possible, one ought to use deionized water.

            Equally stunning, then, is why anyone would look at this study and conclude that there must be something amazing at work. The authors explicitly explain the well-understood van’t Hoff effect, and with methodology that doesn’t even minimize the presence of ions in the source solvent, we shouldn’t expect never to see anomalous numbers. (Another somewhat funny bit is that while the experimenters searched for cationic impurities, no values are shown for anionic impurities, which aren’t necessarily present in a 1:1 ratio, thus providing yet another source of unpredictable variance.)

            This is already long and boring (to non-chemists) enough, so I’ll stop there. Let’s briefly recap:
            The experimenters neglected to use deionized water when determining effects of ions in water.
            The experimenters tested “extremely diluted solutions,” the most dilute of which were as much as 36 orders of magnitude more concentrated than many homeopathic products (claim to be).
            The authors continued testing only on samples that happened to be “active”; no homeopathic-friendly explanation for why any sample could be “inactive” exists.
            Samples showing anomalous results did so at a rate of no more than 50%. No homeopathic-friendly explanation for why any of these samples would show non-positive results exists.
            Samples showing anomalous results were found, by-and-large, to have measurable levels of contaminants. Making matters worse, I have already pointed out that the authors chose a source solvent expected to contain contaminants, and they did not test for anionic contaminants to account for additional variance.

            Finally, *nothing* here supports the idea that water has memory of solutes previously dissolved in it, which is the foundation of modern homeopathy. So going to Dr. Malik’s own site and starting with those citations she lists first, we see nothing that supports her point.

    • Carl says:

      Why are you calling yourself a Doctor? Any one can claim that when they are selling woo and water.

      • A BHMS degree (a regular full-time 5.5 years of medical degree course recognised by Central Council of Homoeopathy, Deptt. of AYUSH, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of India) from prestigious ‘Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital’, Chandigarh affiliated to Punjab University (accredited), Chandigarh, India

    • janiceintoronto says:

      And the very best Homeopathy could achieve is placebo status.

      What crap.

  11. pat says:

    this OP is so clueless….

  12. Alastair Hay says:

    Oh, Sudafed… The stuff that’s artificially derived from Ephedra, hence, ‘Pseudo Ephedrine’ … Which = Sudafed. Ephedra is a herb. You won’t find Sudafed in a Wholefood shop. Next you’ll be telling me you couldn’t find homeopathy in a magic shop…

  13. Sandra says:

    I love Whole Foods. Trader Joe’s, too. I think the medicine they have may work for some and not for others…like most things anywhere. I personally prefer trying natural remedies over some of the ones you mentioned. For other things WF just won’t do. Not a big deal, though.

  14. Michael says:

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt – Bertrand Russell

    Go to Walmart them get something in MacDonald!
    Wake Up! Ignorant!!!

  15. spike says:

    Some years ago I went into a Whole foods with a splitting headache. I asked some guy where the asprin was, and he said “We don’t carry asprin.” I looked at him confused, rubbed my f\pained forehead and asked why not. “We only carry natural remedies. We have belladonna for headaches.”

    So natural poison is preferable to synthesized medicine.

    • Phil Ferguson says:

      Spike,
      It is even better than that….
      Aspirin IS natural. It comes form white willow bark. (originally anyway) and as you point out Belladonna is VERY toxic. Thankfully the homeopathic medicine does not actually have any in it.

      • Jim n says:

        ROFLOL. But Phil, the mixing of Belladonna the right way passes on the effect to the water so it doesn’t have to have any. In fact the more it’s diluted, the stronger it is because it has been mixed properly more times—oops, sorry, humor, it’s Sunday.

  16. steph says:

    It’s easy, go to Whole Foods when you want natural remedies (e.g. arnica for bruising) but go to CVS when you need pharmaceuticals. What’s so difficult? I don’t get it. We’re so spoiled in this country with all of these choices at our fingertips so we have to find something to cry about.

    • Phil Ferguson says:

      Steph, Thanks for the comment. I think you missed my bigger point. One store CVS in your example has mostly “medicine” on their shelves. They have a some products that don’t work or have not been shown to work and I wish they would stop but it is a relatively small proportion. Whole Foods on the other hand is filled with bull shit. At best there may be some “natural” products that work and at worst they sell magic elixirs. Products that cannot possibly work and are an inherent scam – All Homeopathy products for example.

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