We’ve always loved looking through the Vermont Country Store catalog, because they have some of the greatest looking foods and candies. Cherry cordials, almond bark , peppermint bark, pecan topped toffee, chocolates from Guittard and Droste, cherry and brandy candies, Dutch rum balls, marzipan fruits and tons of “nostalgic sweets.” But they are no longer carrying Valomilks!
It’s a pleasure to leaf through their catalog looking the cakes, pies, jams, meats, cheeses, nuts and, of course, Vermont maple syrup. They also have a whole section of women’s clothing and cosmetics, which we don’t look at in much detail, but which seem at least tasteful. OK, there are a few men’s clothing items, too, but they are stuck way in the back long after the cool candies and foods.
But this year, there is a glaring exception to the smooth browsing of previous years. They’ve added a bunch of quack patent medicines like Vermont Cider Vinegar with Premium Herbs for Energy and Vitality (34 oz for $9.95) (humbug!). Or there is an organic version (2 scams in one!): Vim and Vigor apple cider vinegar with Certified Organic ingredients. If it doesn’t work in the conventional version, it surely won’t work in the higher priced version (32 oz for $24.95).
But they really enter the woo palace when you find they are offering homeopathic cataract drops, which are just water. They also offer homeopathic Neuropathy Oil for temporary relief. It has “none of the side effects of prescription or OTC medicines.” You can bet it doesn’t, because it has no active ingredients!
What is homeopathy?
Let’s remind ourselves of what utter quackery homeopathic remedies really are. Samuel Hahnemann proposed the ideas of “like cures like” when he realized in 1784 that cinchona could be used as a treatment for malaria, but which induced malaria-like symptoms in healthy people. In his work, he began experimenting with dilutions of relatively toxic compounds, and claimed that very dilute preparations could still be effective in treatment of various diseases, assuming that the dilutions were prepared using his procedure which included striking the flask on an elastic body. This is called “dynamisation” or “potentisation” and has no physical or chemical meaning at all.
The dilutions in homeopathic preparations are based on a centesimal scale so that 1C means a dilution of 1:100. Then 2C means taking a portion of that 1C dilution and again diluting by 1:100. Molecular theory was still quite new in Hahnemann’s time and he did not recognize that such popular dilutions as 30C meant that there would not be a single molecule of the active substance remaining. Typically, we can calculate that there may be 1 molecule in a 12C dilution and none in further dilutions. Hahnemann believed that his vigorous shaking between dilutions left behind a “spirit-like essence” which was responsible for the homeopathic medicine’s effect. Nowadays, we would call that a placebo, or just “quack medicine.” You can read more about homeopathy on Quackwatch.
So now we see that the “homeopathic cataract drops” are just plain water and cannot do anything useful. And that Neuropathy Oil is just sunflower oil with nothing else in it. Vermont Country Store seems to offer a number of homoeopathic products, including ones for prostate symptom relief and TMJ relief. They won’t work! They’re a scam!