By Dr. Richard Rupp and Bridget Hawkins, Ph.D.
I plan on giving my baby girl homeopathic vaccines. They are rather expensive and are not covered by insurance. I would like to know your opinion on them before I spend the money.
Homeopathy is commonly considered a pseudoscience. But since most people don’t know much about homeopathy, some basic awareness is necessary to understand homeopathic vaccines.
Samuel Hahnemann created homeopathy in the late 1700s. The underlying concept is that “like cures like,” so a substance that causes a disease can also cure the disease if given in a small enough quantity.
A homeopathic preparation is made by taking the disease-causing substance and repeatedly diluting it in water or alcohol.
The container holding the preparation is repeatedly struck with an object to give the preparation energy.
The thinking is that the potency is increased by further diluting the preparation because less is stronger.
Homeopathic vaccines are made by taking the pus, scabs, urine, mucus or blood from someone who is sick and diluting it.
The preparation may be taken by mouth or injected. Sometimes the preparation is dropped on sugar or starch pills and dried to be taken by mouth.
The body fluid or tissue used to prepare the homeopathic vaccine is diluted so many times that it is not detectable by modern scientific methods.
Don’t worry if this doesn’t make sense to you. It doesn’t make sense to most people. Those marketing homeopathic products try hiding this with medical-sounding jargon.
Homeopathic vaccines sometimes are described as containing substances such as Influenzinum, Morbilinum and Pertussin to prevent the flu, measles and whooping cough.
The use of homeopathic vaccines is termed homeoprophylaxis, which works “through the energetic components of the particular diseases stimulating the immune system to produce immunity.”
There is no scientific, controlled clinical research that shows homeoprophylaxis prevents disease. In addition, there also is no evidence indicating that they have any impact on the immune system.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise because the products essentially are just water.
The explanations as to how homeopathic vaccines work don’t make scientific sense and are physically impossible.
Homeopathy has been called flimflam, a sham and supernatural quackery. Some have likened homeopathic vaccines to snake oil.
We know you want what is best for your baby. You should make sure she receives the routine infant vaccines as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to best protect her.
There isn’t any good evidence that your baby will benefit from the homeopathic vaccines. We think you should save your money.
Dr. Richard Rupp is a pediatrician and member of UTMB’s Sealy Center for Vaccine Development. Bridget Hawkins, Ph.D., is the assistant director of the Sealy Center for Vaccine Development. This column is supported by a UTMB President’s Cabinet Award to provide information about vaccines. Visit www.utmb.edu/scvd/vaccinesmarts for more information.