WARNING! This is NOT medicine.

I have 4 kids, they are all under 10 years old, so when there is an infectious health issue like a cold or flu it tends to spread amongst the whole household like we are living in a putrid petri dish; it’s best to avoid any of us during those occasions.

Recently one of those episodes saw me heading out to find some relief for my little ones’ sore throats. I was at Zellers in Winnipeg looking through the cough and cold section and I was dismayed that all of the cough suppression products I was finding were not for kids under 6 years old, which two of mine currently are. I was thinking about the hot water and  honey mixture I would be making for them instead to help their sore throats when I saw in big, bold lettering “Kids 0-9, Cough and Cold”.

Exactly what I was looking for!

As I read the description on the box I became increasingly hopeful.

“Relieve dry cough”, check

“Relieve congestions”, check

“SAFE – No side effects”, awesome

“Great Tasting”, even better

But as I reached the bottom of the box my heart did slump just a little as my joy over this seemingly magical, wonderful, solution-to-my-problems product was squashed.

“Homeopathic Medicine”

What a huge letdown.

Homeopathic “medicine” does nothing, it is not medicine. It has been shown through scientific trials to be nothing. For a primer about homeopathy check out Wikipedia and this talk by The Winnipeg Skeptics founder Gem Newman.

I took this package and walked up to the Pharmacy area at Zellers and asked them why they stock this non-medicine along beside actual medicine, why carry it at all? The answer is the same that I’ve gotten when questioning other pharmacists in the big box stores; “we don’t decide what to stock, it comes from corporate”. After saying that they often acknowledge that homeopathy is junk, along with other so-called medicines like ColdFX, but they don’t decide what to carry.

In fact one time a pharmacist at a big box store motioned over to an entire section in their store and said “everything over there is crap”; the area she was referring to stocked nutritional supplements, herbal remedies and “organic” items.

What’s the harm in this?

Simple. The fact that homeopathy is not actual medicine is not well understood by the general public. If a parent walked into Zellers that day as I did and bought this product expecting it to help their children they would be disappointed. They would have wasted their money on non-treatment when their child should be getting actual medicine that has a known efficacy.

To give a homeopathic treatment is to give no treatment; which in the case of a cough or cold is not too serious, but what if that child is running a fever? Has aches and pains? Well there is homeopathy for that too. “Flu Buster”.

 Again, to give a homeopathic treatment is to give no treatment, and I find it particularly offensive, and disgusting, to give parents a false sense of security, when they think they are helping their children that are in need of medicine and instead have been tricked into buying nothing.

And Kids 0-9 doesn’t stop there. They have a whole line of products to treat your infants that are suffering from allergies, earaches, colic, etc. This would be great if homeopathy actually worked, but it does not.

And now, enjoy this commercial from the good folks over at Homecan.

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31 thoughts on “WARNING! This is NOT medicine.

    1. Yeah, I was reading about that a few weeks ago. I’ll have to keep that in mind when I have kids!

  1. It’s a shame you don’t think outside the box. I use to cough and cold treatment on both my kids and it stops their cough within minutes. Try it next time. I agree not everything homeopathic works but this stuff does. I’ve recommended to lots of people.

    1. Unfortunately, your anecdote doesn’t provide any useful scientific data, and the most rigorous double-blind, placebo-controlled scientific trials have consistently shown that homeopathic remedies simply do not work. I also find your implication that Scott is closed-minded (he doesn’t “think outside the box”) simply because he disagrees with your conclusions to be troubling.

      I’m curious, Julie: do you know what homeopathy is? Most people seem convinced that it’s herbal or “natural” medicine, but that’s not at all what it is. If you’re at all interested in learning about it, you can start with the History of Homeopathy.

      1. How can there be a placebo effect on a 1 year old? Also keep in mind that The placebo effect is a moot point. It’s something you could experience no matter what you take.

        The other point that needs to be made is: the mainstream medicine vs. homeopathic medicine discussion is most often counter productive. Eliminate the “vs.” It’s simply about probability. Ask yourself: if you are deathly ill and absolutely have to go to work the next day for a meeting and none of the mainstream medicine has been doing the trick, but there was some tiny percentage of a chance that a homeopathic might do the trick – would you take it?

        Telling people they are liars when they say something worked makes no sense to me. Just because mainstream medicine may have a much higher effectivity, it doesn’t preclude homeopathy from having a very effective and real impact on some. The conclusion should be at a minimum: to try homeopathy as a backup.

        Marketing something that only works 5 percent of the time as something that simply works doesn’t seem out of line in our day and age so long as it says homeopathic medicine on the front. With that said, I don’t like hype either, and it does prey on people’s hope – and A LOT of homeopathic companies if not most are guilty of it. There is so much advertising in all fields that are misleading. Pharmaceutical companies never show somebody on their commercials experiencing a side effect for example. They probably should if they were to be totally honest. If you look at taking homeopathy like you would gambling in Vegas, but with a lot less of a downside, you won’t ever have to get angry or frustrated again.

        I would add that everything you decide to eat has some effect on the body no matter how small, for the better or worse. So in some way everything you eat is bad or good “medicine.” And some substances, like peanut butter, may have a totally different effect on one person than another. So in addition to the probability paradigm, you hasolid listen more to your own body than what everybody says.

      2. How can there be a placebo effect on a 1 year old?

        There are plenty of hypothetical explanations. The placebo effect may be a result of the child’s expectation that the remedy will be effective. The parent may also be engaging in confirmation bias. The symptoms may be undergoing regression to the mean. In fact, there are physicians (like Dr. Mark Crislip) who argue the the so-called placebo “effect” may be little more than a statistical artifact, and that it consequently does not rely on patient expectation at all.

        The placebo effect has been demonstrated in nonhuman animals; it would be surprising if it did not also manifest in children (and some research has concluded that the effect is greater in children; although, to my knowledge, no such research has been conducted on children so young).

        Also keep in mind that The placebo effect is a moot point. It’s something you could experience no matter what you take.

        If you’re suggesting that actual pharmaceutical interventions also benefit from the placebo effect, then you are of course correct: hence the need for controlled trials that compare patient outcomes between groups receiving the remedy and groups receiving an inert intervention. If the outcomes between these groups are not significant, any beneficial effects of the remedy may be reasonably attributed to the placebo effect alone. Homeopathic remedies fall into this category.

        The other point that needs to be made is: the mainstream medicine vs. homeopathic medicine discussion is most often counter productive. Eliminate the “vs.”

        I agree. “Alternative” medicine versus “conventional” medicine is a false dichotomy. There are varying degrees of evidence for efficacy to be found among various medical interventions, and (speaking generally) the reason that medical interventions remain “alternative” is because they haven’t accumulated sufficient evidence for efficacy (or have accumulated significant evidence to the contrary), and have thus not been accepted into science-based medical practice.

        It’s simply about probability. Ask yourself: if you are deathly ill and absolutely have to go to work the next day for a meeting and none of the mainstream medicine has been doing the trick, but there was some tiny percentage of a chance that a homeopathic might do the trick – would you take it?

        What’s the probability? 15%? Maybe. 1%? Probably not. But knowing what we do about homeopathy, the chances of it doing anything at all are staggeringly, unimaginably small.

        And would I waste my money on it, potentially enriching a shameless huckster? Absolutely not.

        Just because mainstream medicine may have a much higher effectivity [sic], it doesn’t preclude homeopathy from having a very effective and real impact on some.

        You’re right: the fact that science-based medicine is more effective than homeopathic “remedies” doesn’t preclude homeopathy from having some limited efficacy. Our current understanding of physics does, however, and it certainly doesn’t help that the evidence for homeopathy is (if you’ll excuse the pun) infinitesimal.

        Marketing something that only works 5 percent of the time as something that simply works doesn’t seem out of line in our day and age so long as it says homeopathic medicine on the front.

        Ah, since the pharmaceutical companies do it too, it must be okay then! Also, the ends justify the means, right? This isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement.

        I would add that everything you decide to eat has some effect on the body no matter how small, for the better or worse.

        Perhaps. But since most homeopathic remedies are so dilute that they don’t even contain a single molecule of the “active” ingredient, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

      3. Just wondering if you have seen the new scientific studies indicating that this diluted water holds a memory, thus explaining how homeopathic medicine works? If not, then you should. You cant pick and choose which studies to preach if you are really a man of science. Science must always keep an open mind.
        I am a huge skeptic of alternative medicines, due to health conditions and chronic pain. I did try this out of desperation and it seemed to work.
        So I conducted a study of my own. My son was sick with a cold and on alternating days I added the 0-9 kids in his juice and the opposite days, I just gave him juice. The result? All 3 nights with kids 0-9, he slept through the night. The other 3 nights in the experiment, he woke up crying about his throat and the sniffles. No other condition/element was changed in his bedtime routine. This was my CONTROLLED study.
        You do not have to believe in something for it to be real. Some remedies work for some people, other not so much. Every individual is different, remember that before you one-sidedly decide to preach to parents something doesn’t work.

    2. This medicine works, I’m in full agreement… I’ve been using it for my little one, it’s great stuff…and MORE natural then all other commercialized medicine. Before the days of modern medicine, what did people use besides natural herbs etc? Can’t tell me everyone died from illness back then or humanity would fail to exist today! Of course pharmaceuticals would say otherwise, as I’m sure it doesn’t fill their pocket books in the same manner, my opinion only. That certainly is NOT to say to completely ignore sound medical advice, to each their own. Then again, NOTHING in life is a one size fits all but, also not fair to shoot something down if it’s never been tried. 🙂

  2. I just wanted to leave a comment here because I too once was a skeptic but after being treated myself with homeopathic remedies I have become a believer.

    First off I will explain a it about my story. I was pregnant with my second child and choose to hire a Doula. when she came for our meeting she informed us that she used homeopathic therapy for many of her clients.

    The day arrives that I go into labor. with each contraction I am sick and dry heaving and with a few doses of Nux vomica under the tongue every 15 min it stopped.

    after my delivery I was very sore and bruised and was given Arnica. Now arnica is not in any means a “pain killer” but it does help heal internal hematoma. thus meaning the use of opiates is shortened and a less invasive medication can be used/ no pain medication sooner.

  3. It’s been frustrating seeing this stuff sneak its way into our lives. I find it deplorable these companies tout these products that don’t work to innocent people who don’t know better.

  4. How the hell can my 6 month old baby experience a placebo effect? He has been coughing and sick for 5 weeks. We have taken abx, and gone for numerous Dr. appts and chest xrays. The only thing that has worked is the 0-9

    1. As a fellow parent, you have my sympathies, however the point you make has already been addressed in the comments above. In addition, the large, randomized, controlled trials have demonstrated (repeatedly and consistently!) that the putative effects of homeopathy are adequately explained by placebo.

  5. Gem Newman,

    Are you serious? So I have a screaming 8 month old with 4 teeth coming in, give him “0-9 Teething” it stops and he sleeps… stop the 0-9 the next night, and he screams through the night… re-start the 0-9 either in the middle OR the following night and he sleeps through…

    You can’t actually be serious about these “Scientists have done double-blind tests” crap can you? Have you actually SEEN any of these tests first hand? Do you actually KNOW any of these “scientists” or participants. Right… your just “believing” what is printed. Kindof the same way your critizing anyone for daring to believe what’s printed on the 0-9 packaging.

    Oh, yes back to the “Scientists…” and I guess you also believe the pharmaceutical companies have absolutely no stake in this at all and would never ever skew those results with their massive financial arms and influence… No.. their just honest hard working companies who would love to lose buisness and customers to another product.

    Of course these companies have never shown to ever manipulate or flat out lie when it comes to the public to better themselves. They’ve never have any influence or impact on the tobacco industry, alcohol and beverage industry, fast food industry.. oh wait.. THEY DO!!!! And that’s been 100% proven through whistleblowers and insiders over the past 50 years who have exposed their grip on society.

    Example: kindof the same way big tobacco told the “dr’s” and “scientists” to shut up and withhold the effects of tobacco for 30 years. Remember that? “We can’t conclusively say cigarettes cause any harm… etc etc” Gee how’d that one work out? Remember those old ads showing a Dr smoking? What happened there? Oh… They “bought” Dr’s? No.. they would never do that!

    I certainly don’t believe everything I read or am told… but I believe in my own two eyes, and ears… and when a child’s response to ANYTHING 30 min after it’s administered time and time again reacts a certain way, I choose to trust that it’s not a “manipulated” effect brought on by the silliness described as a placebo effect syndrome. Not when that product is withheld and the opposite reaction ensues. And certainly not when the subject in question can’t tell the difference between his head and his bum…

    I guess these “scientists” could also tell you that theoretically, you can hang a lion off a cliff with its tail tied to a daisy flower and you believe that because it was “published”, or that the sky really isn’t blue regardless of what your eyes see.

    Rather than “defend” these “scientists” and companies like their your best friend why don’t you at least acknowledge the very obvious… that they are a BUISNESS and don’t care whatsoever about you, me or anyone else as long as they continue making money. And if you can acknowledge that.. then don’t sit here and tell us that they don’t mind competition taking their bottom line profits as long as people get “better”. And if you can acknowledge THAT, then you have to consider what exactly they would do to stomp out that competition. Perhaps, debunk it? Or is that too far fetched for you? If so.. Revert to tobacco company example above…

    And for the record… I mainly use pharmaceuticals for most things, BUT I have no problem using homopathic medicine as long as it works, which SOME does. And for you to sit here and speak in a conclusive manner regarding tests you clearly have no intimate knowledge of shows YOUR THE ONE MANIPULATED. Do you own tests, as in YOUR OWN. Not take someone’s word for it, especially someone who has something to gain from you NOT believing it.

    This is not a defence of Kids 0-9 whatesoever. But rather a defence of what appears to be based on some other responses, OUR OWN EYES AND EARS.

  6. David, bottom line is that homeopathic remedies have been proven numerous times to not work. No, I don’t need to personally know the scientists involved or personally read all of the studies; I am not qualitifed to interpret the studies, but I do understand enough about the scientific process as a lay person to see it’s reliability. You are esentially making the tired “Big Pharma” claim.

    1. Scott… Proven by who? Again, your telling me my own eyes and ears are deceiving me. That what I and many other parents who have first hand witnessed results “haven’t”.

      The “big Pharm Claim” ? Uh… Yes I am. AND?? What exactly makes that so bizarre? This isn’t some wacked out 911 Truther crap…

      This is a institution, a business, that has a proven history of getting caught time and time again trying to hide facts from the public, and flat out lie about ‘scientific’ studies. I’m sorry… Is that wrong of me to point that out?

      Are you telling us that Big Pharm hadn’t or wouldnt ever do that? Your right I guess… Let’s just all bury our heads in the sands and stop believing our own two eyes and ears. I guess as long as some corporation says “its so…” I guess it is.

      The same way gas prices are never manipulated for profit. Let’s just believe that too, after all if you dare to suggest otherwise, your labeled ” a quack”.

      Big business never lies! Thanks Scott for clearing that up.

      1. People… this isn’t meant to “knock” anything. I aplologize if my tone is curt. But it’s simply frustrating to be told “what you saw and witnessed isn’t real…”. Especially when ( and I assume the others are as well ) I know I am a rational adult and a healthy skeptic about everything ( including Kids 0-9 brand ). I’m not a naturalist, or a “government is bad” person. But to have ANYONE sit here and say “IT’S NOT TRUE” when there are clearly other parents / adults who have tried and witnessed first hand that it has worked is a little demeaning. Like I said before, your basicallty calling us “idiots”, or “manuiplated” as if it’s an X-Files epsisode and we’re talking about aliens here.

        The simple facts are Big Pharm is a business, and have shown through many many instances in the past 50 years that along with making and developing many excellent and very effective medicines that we all certainly benefit from, have also lied and manipulated the medical facts behind certain products for the sake of their bottom line. It’s not a bash against the system, it’s just a simple truth. And the fact that anyone so readily believes everything that’s said about anything, including what natural and homopathics say, is just plain irresponsible on a personal level.

        We have all read stories in the news of people suing Big Pharm over the very fact that side effects or skewed “facts” they have put out have resulted in people livelyhoods being negatively effected. We have all even seen our own governments, the FDA pull products off the market or refuse to grant approval over possible hazards or dangers to the public. And these products in question have passed “Dr’s” and “medical” tests.

        All I’m saying, is that the Natural, Homopathic, or “Alternative” forms of medicine are considered to be a threat to Big Pharm, cause quite frankly, IT IS. It effects their customer base, it effects their bottom line, and it effects future products. So if you don’t think that has anything to do with this discussion, then so be it. I for one, won’t be “told” by anyone, on EITHER side what’s best, rather take it all in, try it, and see what works for me and my family.

  7. That’s the only kind of remedy I use. Better then chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Do you base your information off of watching “The Doctors” and the Internet? You strike me as a dumb white person from the suburbs. Your frame of mind does wonders too. God save us all.

    1. Drop the word “scientific” and “data” some more. It makes you seem very credible.

  8. This product works well for me. I’ve avoided the flu twice by taking this the night before, with about 15,000 IU of Vitamin D. So, do I understand correctly that you didn’t try the product, but complained?

    1. This was actually directly addressed on our recent homeopathy episode of the Life, the Universe & Everything Else podcast.

      Claim: I know that homeopathy works, because I’ve used it!

      See, the thing of it is, you (and me, and everyone else for that matter), are subject to regression to the mean, confirmation bias, confusion between correlation and causation, mistaking the natural history of a disease for effects of a remedy, and a host of other cognitive biases.

      In effect, what this person is saying is that personal experience trumps the data, that double- or triple-blind randomized controlled trials are irrelevant, that their recollection and interpretation of past events is infallible, and we need nothing more than anecdote to know that a particular intervention is effective.

      That’s not how science works: that’s how magic works.

      Your argument is not only a classic example of the post hoc fallacy, but you’re probably also engaging in confirmation bias.

  9. HAH ! This post is sad. I use both ColdFX (for myself) and 0-9(for my daughter) and they work great. How about you spread your bullshit elsewhere, or better yet not at all.

    1. I understand that you are basing your opinion on this product on your own individual experience. Unfortunately our own individual experiences tend to be colored by biases and errors. The scientific process ideally works to remove these biases and errors and homeopathic remedies do not stand up to scientific scrutiny. https://winnipegskeptics.com/?s=homeopathy

  10. Ugh, it also makes me sick that these products are out there. Manipulating individuals who have not studied science and/or stats (that is, most people) into believing anecdotal “evidence”. Selling these products as “remedies” should be illegal and the people that knowingly produce and promote them should be prosecuted for fraud and negligence.
    Absolutely ridiculous.

  11. What the hell do they think warm water and honey is?
    “I was thinking about the hot water and honey mixture I would be making for them instead to help their sore throats when I saw in big, bold lettering “Kids 0-9, Cough and Cold”.” News flash, that’s a homeopathic remedy!

  12. It’s a shame you think like this. I use this product on my child whenever she is sick and it works!! Plus it’s “natural” and i only wish I had found this when she was an infant! It works, maybe not on the toughest colds, fevers but I have used this more than Advil or Tylenol! Love it!

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