Monday February 29, 2016

Homeopaths and skeptics battle new Health Canada labelling policy

The fight between alternative and traditional medicine heats up as Health Canada clamps down on some homeopathic treatments.

The fight between alternative and traditional medicine heats up as Health Canada clamps down on some homeopathic treatments. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Listen 25:16

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Canadian homeopaths are urging the federal government to reconsider upcoming changes to the way homeopathic remedies are labelled in Canada.

The new label requirements come into effect in July and will require manufacturers of homeopathic cough, cold, and flu remedies to remove any labeling that suggests it is recommended for treating children  12 years old or younger.  

In the past, Health Canada approved more than 100 homeopathic remedies for children. The government says it will no longer approve homeopathic claims unless they are supported by scientific evidence, the same standards conventional medicine must meet.

Unproven Remedies Homeopathy

Dr. Paul Offit says it's hard to persuade homeopaths because it's a religion, a belief system. (The Associated Press//Josh Reynolds)

The discussion over labelling has brought some long-running tensions to the fore, between the homeopathic and scientific communities over the efficacy of homeopathic remedies. 

Guests in this segment:

  • Dr. Stephen Malthouse, family physician on Denman Island, B.C. who uses homeopathy to treat his patients.
  • Dr. Edzard Ernst, retired physician, researcher of alternative medicine and professor emeritus at the University of Exeter in England.
  • Dr. Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics and chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Author of Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine

What are your thoughts on how homeopathy should be regulated?

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This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry and Karen Chen.