Trust Boots to continue selling homoeopathic snake oil

I know I keep coming back to bash Boots but it’s become something of a hobby for me. If you’re over 30 and you live in the UK, you’ll recall how Boots has been perceived and that’s why their voyage in to voodoo is so frustrating. Imagine what it would be like if you walked past a Mosque and saw Richard Dawkins kneeling in prayer.

Boots, the respected UK chain of chemists continues to take money from people who trust them to provide effective medical treatments.

Here’s an example. I’ve no idea what Boots Rhus Tox. 30c Pillules is or what it does but I know one thing for certain. It simply cannot a significant amount of it’s active ingredient.

The product is described as 30c. This tells us how much it’s been diluted. Let’s work this out.

Each c represents a 1:100 dilution. Imagine you have 100 litres of water. We add 1 litre of black dye to it. We shake the solution and then take 1 litre from this solution and mix it with 100 litres of water. The process is carried out 30 times. Expecting to find a molecule of the dye would be like tossing a wine cork in to Lake Erie, return a week a later, drink a cup of the lake water and expecting to taste a hint of Chardonay.

Imagine filling up a bath with water, pouring in a can of coke, scooping up a cup full, refilling the bath and pouring that cup in. Repeat this 30 times and would any sane person claim that what they have at the end is super-potent coke? Well, this is what homoeopathy claims and this is what Boots is selling.

You could argue that Boots are simply selling what their customers want. Well this is true. You could say the same thing about a witchdoctor who travels from village to village offering useless mumbo jumbo in exchange for a goat or two.

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5 Responses to “Trust Boots to continue selling homoeopathic snake oil”

  1. Jerry S Says:

    In the Netherlands, if a trip to Lourdes is considered beneficial for your health, you can claim it from your health insurance company. But only when you’re a Catholic of course.

  2. Sean Kehoe Says:

    Maybe if you can prove you worship greek gods, you can have have the health insurance company pay for a trip to one of the temples on a nice little island.

  3. majikthyse Says:

    Why not ask Boots how they can justify this scam? See http://majikthyse.wordpress.com/

  4. Sean Kehoe Says:

    I’ve contacted Boots in the past, and received responses similar to those that you included on your blog. When I asked them how they had tested their anti-snoring spray. here’s what I wrote:

    “Thanks for the response, it’s understandable that you don’t want to give medical advice in this way – I’ll follow your advice.

    Please could you answer these questions though as I’m interested in this product

    http://www.boots.com/shop/product_details.jsp?productid=1021333&classificationid=1035989&slmRefer=000

    The web site makes this claim.

    “An easy to use spray formula, helps to relieve snoring.
    A combination of essential oils to help stop snoring. Effective in reducing snoring for 4 out of 5 users. Spray Formula.”

    Would you be able to point me in the direction of published research in a peer reviewed scientific paper that backs this up. If a paper is not specific to the product, perhaps a reference to a paper that discusses the essential oils that you use and explains how they have been tested? Research endorsed by the BMJ, Lancet or the Royal Society would be excellent since they would by quite authoritative.

    Ideally, have you published the research undertaken to arrive at the ‘4 out of 5’ figure? I’d like to know who carried out the testing and also the parameters of the test. ”

    Here’s their response:

    “I am unable to provide you with details of Boots research information as this is commercially sensitive. However, I would like to reassure you that all our wording is in line with the current UK legislation and all our claims are legal. Also all of the claims are checked thoroughly by our internal legal and medical experts.”

    As you can see, they hide behind the fact that what they sell is legal, yet they totally ignore the moral issues posed. I simply asked them to explain the methodology used in their testing, yet they can’t even do this. We are expected to just Trust Boots, and assume that they are capable of carrying out scientifically and statistically accurate testing. Based on their weasle-words, I’d be more likely to trust the word of Robert Mugabe.

  5. majikthyse Says:

    Commercially sensitive? Total rubbish. Let them try that with the new unfair trading regulations – http://www.oft.gov.uk/advice_and_resources/small_businesses/competing/protection (sorry I have not yet learned how to embed links in comments!)

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