On Nutrition by Ed Blonz


DEAR DR. BLONZ: I suggest you might be misguiding your readers on homeopathy, and encouraging them to close a door on options to try before pharmaceuticals. I have a foot in each practice. I have a master's in nursing, and am a clinical nurse specialist in integrative health practices. I have 20 years' experience as an OR nurse, and now work in quality and patient safety.

While I was completing my master's degree, homeopathic remedies helped me manage my stress and anxiety levels. Calms Forte sleep aid is non-addictive and works wonderfully for me. I have a number of colleagues and staff coming in regularly to get arnica cream to relieve muscle tension and knots in their neck and shoulders. They are all amazed by how beneficial these products are. It's a wonderful thing to get relief from natural products, not to mention a very important option, as pharmaceuticals often have side effects. It's certainly a smart option to explore when dealing with chronic issues. Remember, never touch homeopathic pills; drop them in the cap and then pop them under your tongue. -- A.K.

DEAR A.K.: It's great when one experiences relief for stress, anxiety or sleep issues -- particularly if it does not require pharmaceuticals. My concern is the lack of objective evidence to support your optimistic assessment of homeopathy as a treatment modality. I question whether it merits endorsement by a health professional. Primary to my concern is the lack of competent and reliable evidence to support the underlying mechanism.

The power of belief in a person, product or practice can be an amazing adjunct to healing, one that science has yet to fully understand or quantify. The problem comes when one objectifies the results, attributing them to the product, for example, and then assumes that similar results will be experienced by all others who take the product.

I also feel obliged to ask about the basis for the directive "never touch the homeopathic pills." Where is the evidence to support this? I do recall once reading that "do not touch" does not apply to traditional tableted homeopathic products where the "active" ingredients are a part of the tablet. The directive against handling should only apply to pelleted products where the active ingredient is sprayed on the outside; I am guessing this is based on concerns that the "active" ingredient might be rubbed off, rendering the pellets less effective. It all seems a bit dubious considering the homeopathic theory where more dilutions equal greater potency. Finally, as regards your mentioning of the use of creams to relieve muscular tension, this can be reasonably explained by the physical action involved with their application.

I sincerely thank you for your note, but as you can see, I remain skeptical. As a scientist, I am open to persuasion when the evidence indicates it. Until then, presenting what is known and placing it in context is not a basis for concern that the readers of this column will be misguided.

Send questions to: "On Nutrition," Ed Blonz, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106. Send email inquiries to questions@blonz.com. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.