Have you heard there’s a natural vaccine for acne? I hadn’t, until a reader emailed me asking about it. His mom had bought what she believed to be a natural vaccine for acne from a local drug store. My reader thought it sounded fishy and asked me about it.
He was right to be skeptical. What his mom bought was a homeopathic nosode.
Nosodes are homeopathic ‘alternatives’ to vaccines. I put alternatives to quotes because they are not at all alternatives. Homeopaths just liken them to vaccines in order to explain them to patients.
Here’s how homeopathic nosodes are made.
It all starts with the first of the bizarre homeopathic laws, namely a substance that causes symptoms in a healthy person cures the same symptoms, or like cures like. So in the world of homeopathy caffeine is a treatment for insomnia. At this point I recommend you check your brains at the door because none of this makes any sense, but that’s homeopathy for you.
Nosodes are made from diseased tissue and fluids (including pus, feces, blood and discharges). So acne nosode is probably made from pus extracted from pimples.
Once the starting material is extracted it’s disinfected and diluted to homeopathic dilutions. Homeopaths often talk about ultra-diluted substances. Perhaps you think that means 1 drop in a liter or 10 liters of water. That would be very diluted, but it’s nowhere near homeopathic dilutions.
When homeopaths start dilution their nostrums they take 1 part of the ‘active’ ingredient (in this case acne pus) and dilute it with 100 parts water. That’s 1C dilution. Then you take 1 part of the 1C dilution and dilute it again with 100 parts water. Now you have a 2C dilution. Dilute one part again with 100 parts water and you have 3C dilution. And so on and so on.
At 3C dilution we are already talking about 1 to million dilution (100*100*100). Most homeopathic solutions are 30C or even 200C. Incidentally, homeopaths believe that the more you dilute the remedy (i.e. the higher the C number) the stronger it gets. I told you to check your brains at the door, didn’t I?
You could dilute 1 drop of the active substance to all the water on the earth and you still wouldn’t get even close to 30C dilution.
There’s not even a single molecule of the starting substance left in the finished remedies. It’s quite literally pure water. This is not mocking homeopathic remedies, it’s just stating the facts.
So how can they call pure water as remedies or medicine? Because they claim that the water remembers the starting substance.
Of course science has never discover a way for water to remember anything, nor has such a thing ever been demonstrated. And what about toilets, sewers and other nasty places the water has passed through? Why doesn’t it remember those?
Magic. Really. That’s more or less the answer homeopaths give. They claim that by vigorously shaking the solution at every dilution step the water somehow becomes infused with the essence of the substance. I call that magic.
How are nosodes supposed to work? I have no idea, even after reading several pro-homeopathy websites I’m still no closer to illumination.
Homeopathy has been studies countless times, and when you look at the evidence as a whole it clearly shows homeopathic remedies have no effect beyond placebo. Yes, people who visit homeopaths often do feel better but this comes down to the therapeutic interaction with homeopaths – who often are very nice and caring people.
Why there probably will never be a vaccine for acne
But let’s forget all the silliness for a moment and assume that homeopathic remedies are valid. Even in such a case a vaccination (real or homeopathic) is unlikely to help with acne.
Vaccines work by training the immune system to recognize pathogens (virus and bacteria) before they get a chance to take over the body. There’s no reason to think this would be helpful in acne. Everyone has the acne causing bacteria on the skin, so the immune system is already exposed to it.
Furthermore, immune response to the bacteria is a part of the problem. It’s the immune system response that turns blocked pores into painful pimples. And there’s some evidence to show acne patients have much stronger immune response than people not prone to acne.
Proper skepticism demands a mind that’s open to the possibility that the treatment under question works. Homeopathy is one of the few treatments I can categorically say does not work and cannot work. For homeopathy to work vast swatches of known physics and chemistry would not only have to be wrong but spectacularly so. Then we have high quality research showing homeopathy has no effect beyond placebo. Put those together and it’s safe to conclude homeopathy is just what you’d expect: water, pure water and nothing but water.
Consequently, homeopathic vaccines are just water. There’s no good reason to believe homeopathic nosodes for acne work any better than any other placebo treatments.
People buy them because homeopaths deceptively liken nosodes to vaccines and thus imply they do something. Or because people don’t realize what homeopathy is and confuse homeopathic remedies for herbal medicine.
I hope this post explains what homeopathic nosodes are and why you shouldn’t waste money on them.