August 2019

Homeopathic Vaccines: Ineffective Alternatives

The recent measles outbreak has highlighted the need to educate patients about the importance of vaccines. And as we approach back to school time, it’s even more vital to ensure that kids are getting vaccinated. Some parents might ask you about natural alternatives to conventional vaccines, particularly homeopathic vaccines. What should you tell them?

Homeopathic products contain extreme dilutions of substances, often so dilute that they contain undetectable amounts of the active ingredient. Homeopathy is based on the theory that disease symptoms can be treated by miniscule doses of substances that cause the same disease symptoms in larger doses. So, when it comes to homeopathic vaccines, miniscule amounts of an infectious material like measles or polio are included in a dilution known as a nosode. The amount included is so dilute that the product is essentially just water. These nosodes are being promoted by homeopaths as alternatives to vaccines, but they are very different. Conventional vaccines contain a small, but detectable, amount of a killed or weakened bacteria or virus. This triggers the body to build antibodies against that particular bacteria or virus. There’s no evidence that nosodes have the same effect. While these vaccines are approved for sale in Canada, they’re required to include a warning stating that they should not be used as an alternative to vaccination.

While homeopathic vaccines and other homeopathic products aren’t likely to cause direct harm, make sure patients understand that they are NOT an effective alternative to conventional vaccines or medications. There is no scientific evidence showing that they actually work better than a placebo. Ease fears about conventional vaccines using the Conversation Starter: Vaccine Adherence: Addressing Myths and Hesitancy. And remind parents that 1 in 5 children who get measles end up in the hospital, and 1 to 3 in 1,000 children who get measles will die – it’s not worth the risk.

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