Last week, I found myself in a local food co-op. After ogling the assortment of delectable produce (ooh kumquats!), I wandered past the store's selection of homeopathic remedies. Curious, I stopped to check it out -- not to buy, of course, just to peruse.
In a quick span of time, I was chuckling heartily at many of the remedies' descriptions. For excess salivation, I could buy Mercurius Vivus. Gelsemium would take care of my stage fright. My heartache would be healed with Ignatia. And I had a plethora of choices to deal with specific types of bodily discharge: Arsenicum Album for burning, Allium Cepa for clear nasal, Hepar Sulphur for green, Gelsemium for watery, and Pulsatilla for yellow (ewwww).
But overall, my favorite remedy was Rhenium Nida, for "preventing Chinese food-induced flatulence while on a date, but only before 6pm when it's raining outside."
Okay I made that one up, but you get the point. Some of these homeopathic remedies on the market are so ridiculous that they could be used as props at a comedy show. The only thing funnier than the remedies themselves is that from 2005 to 2008, Britain's National Health Service spent £11.89 million on them.
The vast majority of homeopathic remedies on the market don't work, of course. A host of peer-reviewed studies, including "A systematic review of systematic reviews of homeopathy," have found that homeopathic medication, by and large, is no more effective than a placebo.
One of the few homeopathic remedies that has some scientific sway behind it is honey, which can serve to soothe the symptoms of a common cough. However, this may say more about how antiquated and ineffectual available cough syrups are than how effective honey is.
Another homeopathic remedy that's proven to work is Urban Moonshine's Chocolate Love Tonic, though not precisely in the way it's advertised. The tonic functions as a terrific way to break the ice at parties and pubs. And just a few drops of the stuff -- using the conveniently included tester -- can add a little extra "ooh la la" to a White Russian.