New York's hidden world of ethnic pharmacopoeia
March 17, 2002 9:37 AM   Subscribe

New York's hidden world of ethnic pharmacopoeia [nyt reg req] Always cherished Witch Hazel, but these are true eye openers: " Dr. Chase Nerve and Blood Tonic, with liver concentrate: for simple anemia and associated symptoms such as that tired feeling-nervousness-lack of appetite ; S.S.S. Tonic, iron and 12 percent alcohol, and Canadian Healing Oil, turpentine, oil of tar and creosote: universal liniment for strains and sprains; Safi the Blood Purifier : for skin diseases such as acne vulgaris, boils, skin rashes, blemishes, urticaria, checks nose bleeding, cures constipation, corrects indigestion, improves complexion , and helps you stay slim and smart... [btw] This isn't the 19th century, this is New York, 2002. " One years supply of Safi now on its way.
posted by Voyageman (15 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My brain hurts.

You really picked the wrong part of that artical to quote.
posted by delmoi at 10:00 AM on March 17, 2002

Thanks, Voyageman. They all sound disgusting but I can recommend the Gripe Water for those with babies - it works a treat. Meanwhile, here's holgate's botanicals thread for further enjoyment.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:01 AM on March 17, 2002

I recall a product that was sellng like hotcakes years ago: Hadacall. Turned out it was about 20 alchohol. Claim was it cured just about anything. The owner of the product was asked where he got the name from and what it meant. He said: I Hadtocall it something. Govt got it off the market.
posted by Postroad at 10:07 AM on March 17, 2002

The Placebo Effect
posted by stbalbach at 10:10 AM on March 17, 2002

Paxil is actually 92% recycled Shrinky Dinks.
The other 8% is that green stuff which makes Ozzy's kids act like that.
posted by dong_resin at 10:31 AM on March 17, 2002

The Times (!) makes a rather gross (but all too common) error: homeopathy is not a catch-all for "home remedies", but a specific type of pseudo-scientifically based medicines containing minute quantities of a substance, often the same substance you're trying to protect against (e.g. bee pollen allergy treatment will actually contain bee pollen); the homeo means "same" as in other words derived from that Greek root. Echinacia and melatonin may be distributed homeopathically or as standard herbal medicines in gelcap or tablet form, the difference being that then you're actually getting measurable quantities of the herb you're paying for.
posted by dhartung at 11:19 AM on March 17, 2002

Also, the Placebo Effect.
posted by skwm at 11:33 AM on March 17, 2002

For those running a browser with sidebar and are really interested you can get:

* Kitchen Witch Herbal Encyclopedia, recipes, articles, informative essays on topics such as composting, making herbal oils, drying herbs, etc.

From the netscape site.
posted by bjgeiger at 12:40 PM on March 17, 2002

Homeopathic medicine is a wonderful curative for people who's minds are functioning on homeopathic quantities of intelligence.

My strongest recommendation for homeopathic practitioners is that they attempt the strongest curative of all: a homeopathic dose of oxygen. Used properly, it will absolutely solve their illnesses for the remainder of their regretably short life.

I learned all that I needed to know from a homeopathic book. It was over a thousand pages long. It was an exceptionally potent book: all the pages were blank, except for one nearly two-thirds of the way through, which had a tiny, 6pt letter "e" on it.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:12 PM on March 17, 2002

Ive used homeopathic medicine for colds and it works. In the early stages of a cold fool your immune system into thinking your sicker then you really are by takeing this stuff that makes you feel sick. That triggers your immune response into overdrive which knocks out the real cold.
posted by stbalbach at 2:41 PM on March 17, 2002

but a specific type of pseudo-scientifically based medicines containing minute quantities of a substance, often the same substance you're trying to protect against (e.g. bee pollen allergy treatment will actually contain bee pollen)

Not to be picky, but this is exactly how most people with serious allergies are treated by serious MDs. Every week you get injected with a tiny bit of whatever it is you're allergic to. After a while they increase it, then a little more, etc, until your body gets used to it and stops fighting it. (It's also why you generally have to sit in the doctor's waiting room for 15 minutes after every show, and also carry around an EpiPen with you whereever you go: in case your body decides that day's dose is the one that's going to send you into anaphylactic shock.)

This is not to say I believe in homeopathy; I don't. But you shouldn't have used an allergy cure as your example of something with a "pseudo-scientific basis."
posted by aaron at 4:06 PM on March 17, 2002

(show=shot, damn it)
posted by aaron at 4:07 PM on March 17, 2002

Right, sure. If you were lucky you were drinking absolutely pure water.

But you weren't lucky. Instead, you were drinking tainted water: as soon as you opened the cap more contaminating molecules than there are "potent" molecules.

Worse yet, by the tihird titration of the homeopathic solution, there is as much contamination as there is active ingredient. It all goes downhill from there: by the homeopathic idea of "potentizing" the solution by shaking it, it is become every bit as potent for contanimation as it is for curative.

And for real kicks, it's the shaking of the solution that is supposed to impart the "memory" of the active ingredient on the water molecules. Yet if you consider that water is shaken all over the place -- waterfalls, impellers, raindrops -- surely the ultimate curative would be absolutely pure water, which would retain the "memory" of all that it has been shaken with, and would have no contanimation whatsoever.

In short, homeopathy is so fundamentally flawed. If there is any effect, it is entirely placebo.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:10 PM on March 17, 2002

Re: allergenics -- the difference, though, is that they actually do inject an amount of allergen. With homeopathic medicine, the chance that you're imbibing even a single molecule of the "active ingredient" is infintesimal.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:11 PM on March 17, 2002

aaron etc., you're right, it was a badly worded example and I got ahead of myself.

What I should have said was that the pseudo-scientific ideas in homeopathy are twofold. First, that successive of a substance can yield something more powerful than the original -- as if it had been concentrated, rather than diluted. And second, that creating "like symptoms" (there's that homeo) will treat "like diseases" -- so the treatment for a bee-sting allergy is something that makes your throat or skin swell up, not bee pollen or bee venom itself; or the treatment for a cold is something that will make your nose run. It's all very baffling to a rational mind, but people take it on the utmost faith that it works.

See this Homeopathy FAQ for some hilarious reading. Ironically, one of the main reasons this remains legal at all ... is that the homeopathic distillations they sell contain little more than water.
posted by dhartung at 9:49 PM on March 17, 2002

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