Monday, August 10, 2009

A homeopathic remedy for fear of public speaking?

Recently I ran across information about a homeopathic product called SocialFear Relief™ from NativeRemedies that says it temporarily: “alleviates nerves associated with fear of public speaking.”

I read the information on their web site and looked elsewhere for more details. Eventually I decided it’s just not for me.

The product is a tablet with three ingredients: Gelsemium, Graphites, and Chocolatum. Gelsemium is dried root from yellow jessamine, graphites is carbon (like pencil lead), and chocolatum is made from cocoa. A bottle with 125 tablets sells for $37.95, plus $5.99 for shipping.

All three ingredients are present at the same homeopathic concentration (30C). Look up homeopathy on Wikipedia. You will find out that a concentration of 30C means that the material was diluted in a ratio of 1:100, and that process was repeated thirty times for a final concentration of ten to the minus 60th power. There likely is none of the original material present. It’s the mystical version of mixology. What you really are buying just a shadow or a memory of those ingredients. A newspaper article by Ben Goldacre discusses this. A BBC Horizon video also discusses it, as does another video by the Irish comedian Dara Ó Briain.

The directions for SocialFear Relief say to: “Dissolve 2 tablets in a clean mouth every 20 minutes or until symptoms subside. Tablets may also be crushed and dissolved in water to sip repeatedly as needed.”

The cautions say: “Avoid strong mint-flavored candy, as this may reduce the effectiveness of the remedy. If symptoms persist or worsen, a health care professional should be consulted. Keep this and all medicines from the reach of children.” But, what are the tablets?

At the very bottom of the page, under the heading of “How long will a bottle last?” they finally say that the tablets themselves are just lactose. Why wasn’t that in the cautions? Lactose is milk sugar, and I don’t tolerate it well at all. There are uncomfortable symptoms of lactose intolerance such as gas, cramping, bloating and diarrhea. So, my breakfast cereal gets topped with Lactaid® treated milk.

I think I’ll see if I can find some Unicorn Drops to try instead. By the way, where do they get those unicorns? Are the drops perhaps made from their droppings?

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