March 7, 2010

"Feeling a bit off?"

I was struck by this inane point-of-purchase ad for a homeopathic remedy:


"A bit off"... what the hell kind of a medical problem is that? Perhaps one that goes perfectly with the non-remedy that is homeopathy. It made me think of this ad from 1930 for Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound:
"I was very nervous and weak and never had a good appetite. Almost every day I would have to lie down. My aunt used Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound and so did other women. I often wondered if it would help me but I hesitated to try it. After the firs bottle I felt better, so I kept on. I have already taken five bottles and feel as strong as can be."
As strong as can be, eh? 5 bottles? Is it 5 bottles of placebo or is it booze?

But these ailments! They are relics of one historical era or another. Who would complain about not having a good appetite today? Today, you'd get rich if you could bottle a remedy that caused not having a good appetite. And today, feeling a bit off is something you'd shell out money to cure.


Miscellaneous things:

1. I love the assurances on that package: "No Side Effects, No Drug Interactions, Non-Drowsy." Well, duh. It's a homeopathic remedy.

2. Can you believe people pay $9.99 for a product labeled "Gas"?


3. Why did I run across that ad for Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound? We were fooling around with the Google News Archive and did a search for "iPod." We were intrigued at a hit from 1930. Upon inspection, we saw that the word "good" — in "never had a good appetite" — was printed with the "g" and the "o" corrupted enough to make it look like an "i" and a "p." I love odd mistakes like that.


Tibore said...

I hope that wasn't in a pharmacy. Because if it was, I'd be very disappointed in them.

Ann Althouse said...

It's Whole Foods.

themightypuck said...

Ridiculous. I tend to err on the side of caveat emptor, but if Toyota can get in trouble because people don't know how to drive, I figure people selling water with "Cough" on it should get in trouble too.

rhhardin said...

Snapple iced tea is the only thing that has its usual taste after using Zicam.

John Stodder said...

But it's also sold in pharmacies.

If liberals favoring Obamacare were told that the US health care service would scoff at homeopathic medicines the way the Brits have now done, many would switch to "no." The ones who are the ones we've waiting for are generally pro-homeopathic treatments.

Peano said...

Ann obviously needs more lard in her diet.

Ger said...

Ah yes...Lydia Pinkham.

Author of the entertaining book "Lydia Pinkham's Private Text-Book Upon Ailments Peculiar to Women".

Quaestor said...

Feeling a bit off? Judging from the artwork I'd say the potion in question is being offered as a remedy for Cubism.

wv: somanize -- what Obama's rhetoric does to me

As my whimsy leads me.. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ken Pidcock said...

Watching a video from the UK "ten twenty-three" project, where people publicly consume "overdoses" of homeopathic products (by swallowing whole bottles), I observed one participant hold up a bottle of spring water and ask, "Does anyone want any homeopathic vodka to wash that down?"

Now, that's wit.

Anonymous said...

Can you believe people pay $9.99 for a product labeled "Gas"?

Better to fart,
And bear the shame
Than not to fart,
And bear the pain


Quaestor said...

Guiltless farts for all! Ah, I feel better already.

Omnibabe said...

Eeeeew! That Oscillococcinum is duck offal in suspension. Yuck. I'd perk up just so I wouldn't have to take it!

Tari said...

The "gas" thing does look very silly, but Hyland's colic medicine - which is the infant version of this bottle - is the only thing that allowed my husband and I to sleep for weeks when our older son was born. For that reason alone I looooove them and will swear that their products work.

Methadras said...

Homeopathy is bullshit. Anyone who believes in the premise of homeopathy of water 'holding' or 'remembering' the properties it retains during its dilution stages is a fucking fool. Just give me your money instead so I can call you a moron.

KCFleming said...

The United States was very nervous and weak and never had a good decade. Almost every year it would break treaties, enslave blacks, or kill native Americans with smallpox. Democrats since the 1930s used Franklin D. Roosevelt's Lite Socialism Compound and so did other liberals. Barrack Obama often wondered if it would help him but he hesitated to try it. After the first nationalized company, he felt better, so he kept on. He has already taken five corporations and feels as strong as can be.

Peter V. Bella said...


Let us sing (let us sing) of Lydia Pinkham
The benefactress of the human race.
She invented a vegetable compound,
And now all papers print her face,

O, Mrs. Brown could do no housework,
O, Mrs. Brown could do no housework,
She took three bottles of Lydia's conpound,
And now there's nothing she will shirk,
she will shirk,

Mrs. Jones she had no children,
And she loved them very dear.
So she took three bottles of Pinkham's
Now she has twins every year.

Lottie Smyth ne'er had a lover,
Blotchy pimples caused her plight;
But she took nine bottles of Pinkham's--
Sweethearts swarm about her each night.

Oh Mrs. Murphy (Oh Mrs. Murphy)
Was perturbed because she couldn't seem to pee
Till she took some of Lydia's compound
And now they run a pipeline to the sea!

And Peter Whelan (Peter Whelan)
He was sad because he only had one nut
Till he took some of Lydia's compound
And now they grow in clusters 'round his butt.

Anonymous said...

The pre-FDA Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound was 18% alcohol/36 proof, at least according to Wikipedia

kentuckyliz said...

Thanks for the Crack-bait.

Herbal doesn't mean safe. People die in the most gruesome manner from home herbal abortions using pennyroyal or other herbs.

Just thought I'd spit in your tea.

Because it's probably high in thyroid hormone and calcitriol (the final hormone your body makes out of vitamin D). It will be better for you than the hintiest of hints of dandelion water dilution.

PCS Blogger said...

Can't speak for most of this stuff. I do suffer horribly with restless leg syndrome, though, and Hyland's stuff does calm it down considerably.

kentuckyliz said...

Actually my spit might still have slight radiation in it...since I swallowed 5 millicuries of radioactive iodine about a week and a half ago. Probably won't hurt you though. I wasn't given the atomic leper instructions to protect the safety of others. That only happens with a treatment dose (150 millicuries).

kentuckyliz said...

That organic ginger tea stuff tastes nasty but it's really good for drinking when you're feeling nausea creep up on you. I did that during chemo, only a couple of times, and passed the rest of the box of teabags on to another chemo patient.

Not homeopathic diluted solution though--au contraire, a strong tasting tea. Yuck.

Unknown said...

As America prepared to pack all its troubles in a Conestoga wagon and head off to California or Oregon (Texas was sooo 1830s), people even then noticed that your average American was busily dosing himself, his family, and anybody else who would hold still long enough with as many homeopathic medicines as they could get their hands on. And they say we've moved away from our roots.

If memory serves, Lydia Pinkham was the Johnson & Johnson back then, as well.

Ann Althouse said...

2. Can you believe people pay $9.99 for a product labeled "Gas"?

I don't think the name is 'Gas', it's just what it cures. The name of the product line is not too visible due to the res, but that's why there are other packages labeled 'Cough', etc.

WV "butcri" (no kidding) Most men's response to a rectal exam.

Kirk Parker said...


Are you nuking your thyroid or something?

And just where is Crack? Maybe he figured this one was just too easy.

traditionalguy said...

This reminds me of the 1950s ads for Geritol which guaranteed to cure "Tired Blood". It was an Iron supplement.

The Crack Emcee said...

Where's Crack? Where's Crack? Avoiding the embarrassment of realizing y'all may glance at my blog but you still don't understand it:

Water is medicine? Welcome to homeopathy 101. Sit the fuck down.

"Like cures like"? Oooh, that's sure to compel a man to spend a good part of his day telling Ann not to shop there, isn't it? (I notice she's still walking the aisles - thanks, Ann.)

So what's missing? Why do I talk about cults with this stuff? It's not water. And it's not the goofy concept called "like", so what is it? Why shouldn't Ann be supporting Whole Foods since it sells this stuff? What's wrong with this picture? What do I know, that you don't, 27 posts into this shit?

It's the spiritual aspect, you dummies - the NewAge part - the one thing I write about, rail against, attack the world for, that you're all too shallow to even notice. How depressing.

The belief in homeopathy is animated by the pseudoscientific idea of a "vital force" that makes it work like magic. It's the same idea found in most NewAge shit - Rieki, therapeutic touch, anything you can attach the word "energy" to - it's the holistic reference in, well, the name Whole Foods, that Ann's just too dumb to get when she's probably laughing at what I say and goes there anyway - to pay inflated prices for she she doesn't need - because she thinks she's smarter than me when really they're playing her for a chump.

I may stop blogging because y'all don't get it.

Nobody killed their kid because water isn't medicine. They did it because they thought it contained magic. If it was just about water I wouldn't be blogging to begin with. Hell, if it was just about water, I'd be the fool some of you take me for. But I'm not.

You are. Fucking idiots.

PapaTodd said...

I'll just drink a glass of Lucy's "Vitameatavegamin". Seemed to work well for her.....

Unknown said...

Hey @OmnibusDriver, that duck turd Oscillococcinum knocked out flu for me in under five hours twice.

Don't knock the cocc.

policraticus said...

The Crack Emcee said...

I'm sorry about that last post but this shit's important:

Stop reading those stupid science blogs and focus on the "spiritual" part - the stupid ones rarely say it's just water and give me all that "there's less than 1% of one chance there's so much as a single molecule of the original substance left in the solution, rendering it's effects no more likely than that of placebo" - see, I get it: this is the field of medicine, so the spiritual part's not supposed to be in there, but those stupid scientists can't keep it out and describe homeopathy accurately, because you've also got to explain all these individuals and associations, passionately clamoring for this,...water, nothing less than religion. Well, you've got to explain that, and also why it's inventor, Hahnemann, thought it worked best when he hit a vial of the stuff against a Bible. You know, little things like that.

In London, Dr. Peter Fisher admitted he didn't know, after 200 years, how much ritualized shaking was necessary to make the preparation work. Hospitals now regularly staff "healers" of various stripes who claim they can shoot invisible fire from their finger tips. Can you truly be discussing any of this "scientifically" without discussing their belief system? Homeopathy's no different - they all rely on the concept of the "vital force" or "energy" - and it deserves such scrutiny in just that way. And Whole Fools peddling it, with the bogus green message and all the "I'm special" rest, should tell you everything you need to know. The whole thing is a scam without a care. (Oh yea, they're sooo concerned for you, selling you water. And here: buy a few bags for carrying the stuff you're buying. They might even let you pack it. Suckers.) They donate to causes. What causes? Man, "causes", alright! ACORN did a brisk business outside every one of 'em. But then, of course, Bush was evil and The Iraq War was lost and Republicans will be gone for evah.

Something something about a rising tide.

I gotta go to work.

Sigivald said...

To be fair, "homeopathic" labeling in the US doesn't mean "percussed, exponentially diluted water that at one point potentially touched some pseudo-active ingredient".

It just means, roughly, "we don't claim it actually treats a disease, and you won't put us out of business".

Some "homeopathic medicines" (Zicam) actually contain an active ingredient - which is why it'll burn out your sense of smell if you're unlucky.

"Real" homeopathy is hilariously ridiculous. The labeling, however, doesn't mean you're getting that; there might actually be something in it other than water.

(Though it's still a good reason not to trust it or spend any money on it, since if they could prove efficacy, they'd have a great incentive to.

That they don't bother to spend the time and money to do so should be taken as suggestive, either of the gullibility of hippies and hipsters, the ineffectiveness of the product, or both.)

Tibore said...

Unfortunately, too much that is labeled "homeopathic" is not even homeopathic, let alone effective. Too much herbology has been conflated with homeopathy, and that's what we're seeing on shelves nowadays. It may be a different way of labeling an unproven - no, disproven "treatment" - but the point is that a lot of homeopathy doesn't even meet homeopathic "standards". They're nothing more than substances, not even alleged to have been diluted.

Sometimes, I wish that such crap would just fall under "pharmecuticals" so that the failure of homeopathy as a practice can be highlighted. But I usually end up reversing that opinion, because regulation would give that pseudoscience an air of legitimacy. It's a Catch-22.

What's best is if people would just wake up to the fact that it's no better than snake-oil salesmanship. But, as the saying goes, a sucker every minute...

Ann Althouse said...

As for why I still shop there... the food is good. And the prices are actually good, depending on what you choose to buy. There is stupid stuff for sale too, as there is in most stores.