Recently, I came across a story that might have just hit the bad science motherload. It refers to an Italian pharmacy, which is authorized by the Italian government to sell products online. One of these products is called Dr. Reckeweg R20, and its product description just about blew my mind. As the article is in Italian, I’ll translate it for you here.
For starters, it is a homeopathic remedy, claiming to contain a product called “Ovaria”. According to the website, this product is made from the extract of ovaries, and is used in the treatment of:
irregolarità mestruali, disturbi del climaterio, deficit di memoria, depressione, disturbi funzionali delle ghiandole, complesso di inferiorità, criptorchidismo, enuresi notturna, impotenza, frigidità femminile, tendenze lesbiche, oligo e azzoospermia, congestioni”
Translation: irregular menstrual cycle, hot flashes, memory deficits, depression, disrupted glandular function, inferiority complex, cryptochidism [a.k.a. the absence of one or both testes from the scrotum], involuntary urination, impotence, female frigidity, lesbian tendencies, oligo- and azoo-spermia, congestion”.
Ooh where to begin.
If I had made up that description, I probably would have been accused of insulting, over-the-top parody by the woo-inclined.
At first, I wanted to see if the product was only sold by this Italian pharmacy, or if its sale there was just what brought it to the attention of certain Italian skeptics. It turns out no, they sell it pretty much everywhere. Interestingly, the website in English on this most versatile of homeopathic medicines does not have the “lesbian tendencies” part in the product description, though it does keep in the part about “female frigidity”. They also get a little more detailed into the source of the ingredients of Dr. Reckeweg R20, saying that some of it comes from human fetal tissue.
Oh where to being. Where to begin indeed.
Shall I start with reiterating for the billionth time that homeopathy is a load of bollocks? That it has failed every single double-blind placebo-controlled study that it has been subjected to?
Shall I start with the fact that putting human remains in something meant to be ingested is ludicrous, unethical, illegal and a biohazard?
Unless, of course, the reason they are allowed to at least claim they are doing this is because the principle of homeopathy requires the ingredient in question to be so thoroughly diluted that not a single molecule of it remains in what you’re ingesting.
Shall I start with the fact that lesbianism is not a fucking disease to be treated with water or sugar pills?
Of course, compared to the horrific stories of gay conversion therapy centers in the States, taking a couple of sugar pills seems quite mild in comparison. However, it is important to remember that simply allowing for the perpetuation of the idea that homosexuality is something undesirable or curable, is plenty destructive on its own. You may think that taking a few drops of water is preferable to taking a beating, or electric shocks, or ritualized humiliation, but being told that what you are is abnormal and sick goes far enough to do serious damage. The whole thing is a whopping, stinking pile of bullshit.
Is there a better example of so many avenues of woo and bad science all stuffed into one small brown bottle? I will keep my eyes open, and let you know.