One of the problems we all face is knowing whether the healthcare products we see advertised and on the store shelves actually work. The fact is that many of the advertised items are totally useless. In October of 2019, the Center for Inquiry sued Walmart for putting useless homeopathic products on shelves beside valid medicines. On May 20, 2020, the homeopathy lawsuit was dismissed by the District of Columbia Superior Court.
The Center for Inquiry said their concern is that consumers wouldn’t know what was useful and what was not. A good example is that just about every drug store and department store like Walmart sells products claiming to protect us from memory loss. Research has shown that most of them are useless. The Center for Inquiry will appeal the court’s decision. They have also filed a similar lawsuit against CVS, the country’s largest pharmacy chain.
Many of the products promoted as homeopathic cures have religious claims and are marketed by religious figures. We have had a personal interest in this with a family member using a homeopathic treatment for cancer to the exclusion of established medical treatment. That error ultimately resulted in the death of our loved one.
There is a biblical example of this in Acts 8:9-24 where a man called Simon “used sorcery and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest saying that this man is the great power of God; and to him they had regard, because that for a long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.” (Verses 9-11) There have always been scams and con artists who take people’s money for things that simply don’t work.
So how do we protect ourselves? The fact that the homeopathy lawsuit was dismissed should not prevent us from being skeptical of health claims made by anyone, including religious leaders or celebrities. Ask your doctor about anything you put into or on your body. There is a website called Quackwatch, which has links to health claims and products.
Taking care of our bodies is taking care of the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). We need to realize that doing that requires some effort on our part.
Homeopathy is a medical system based on the belief that a substance that causes disease in a healthy person can cure a sick person if it is diluted enough. Homeopathic medicine was invented in the late 1700s by a German named Samuel Hahnemann (pictured).
Some religious groups embrace homeopathy or the related naturopathy believing that God created all life with the ability to heal itself. They frequently quote Genesis 9:1-3 as the starting point for the need for plants and minerals to sustain human health, because the meat now included in human diets would not meet the medical requirements. They also quote Acts 10:9-16 as part of the change that took place in the human diet that made it necessary for plants and minerals to provide supplements.
We would suggest that the hermeneutics of using those passages in that way is dubious. There is no doubt that nutrition is a part of good health, and supplements can be useful in maintaining health. But whether a plant or mineral could replace the effectiveness of penicillin or modern antibiotics is debatable. Some today are making claims about homeopathic medicine for curing disease with no scientific support. CVS is the largest pharmacy chain in the United States with 9800 stores, and they promote homeopathy by placing homeopathic remedies on their shelves alongside scientifically-proven medications.
The Center for Inquiry (CFI) on June 29, 2018, filed a lawsuit against CVS. They told the Superior Court of the District of Columbia that homeopathy is a pseudoscience and that CVS is in violation of the Consumer Protection Procedures Act. They are demanding that CVS provide “corrective advertising, marketing, labeling.” The suit says that CVS persists in deceiving its customers about the effectiveness of homeopathic products. “Homeopathics are shelved right alongside scientifically proven medicines, under the same signs for cold and flu, pain relief, sleep aids, and so-on.” An example given by the CFI is Arnicare Arthritis which I have seen in drug stores as providing relief for arthritis pain. Tests have shown that a placebo gave as much relief as Arnicare Arthritis.
There are many negative spin offs of the “evolution creation controversy” and the view that science and religion are opponents. One of the most destructive is the skepticism of natural medical remedies by opponents of religion, and the blind acceptance of them by believers.
Science and faith are friends, and science by definition is knowledge (see Webster’s Dictionary) and involves an organized way to arrive at facts. There are natural things that scientific research has shown to be useful in treating ailments and pain. Aspirin is a natural material that has many medical benefits, and some plants such as aloe help relieve sunburn. The list of tested natural materials that help us medically is very long.
Jesus pointed out that natural things can serve us in profitable ways. In Matthew 16:2-3 he told about the use of natural things to predict the weather. In 1 Timothy 5:23 Paul pointed out a use of the wine of that day for stomach problems. However, homeopathic nonsense originated in 1796 based on a false theory that “like cures like.” In other words, if you take something that causes an illness and dilute it with water or alcohol until there is nothing left of it, that dilute solution will cure the ailment.
One homeopathic “cure” is Boiron’s Oscillococcinum. The manufacturer claims that it cures cold and flu symptoms. Some drug stores sell it on the shelf with Tylenol. It has been marketed for years based on the false claim that Oscillococcinum is a bacteria that causes influenza. There is no bacteria by that name and colds and flu are caused by viruses and not by bacteria. The inventor claimed that he found the bacteria in patients with Spanish flu in 1917 and also in the liver of the Muscovy duck. The duck liver is diluted to one part duck liver with 10 to the 400th power parts of water. (That would be one followed by 400 zeroes, or virtually pure water.) Other ingredients (sucrose and lactose) are added to make it into pills. In other words, it is a sugar pill placebo.