The Current

Public Health experts want nosodes taken off the market

Nosodes are homeopathic vaccines, meant to ward off everything from measles to the flu, but with no peer-reviewed science to back up their claims. Yet, Canadian homeopaths are still recommending them to parents and public health experts want Health Canada to tighten the rules.
Licensed only for use in traditional homeopathy but sold to parents as an alternative to essential vaccines, the calls are growing louder to crackdown on nosodes. (CBC)

The message we've been hearing a lot of lately: Get your kids vaccinated, whether it's against the flu, whooping cough, or the newly resurgent measles.

But our colleagues at CBC TV's Marketplace went undercover sending the parents of infant children to visit five homeopaths in Vancouver and in Toronto. Those parents were offered something called "nosodes" — tiny white pills, that are definitely not vaccines.

And despite what those homeopaths said, there are no peer-reviewed clinical trials supporting their claims that nosodes are effective, more than 90 per cent of the time, in preventing diseases such as measles or whooping cough.

And, if you've never even heard of nosodes before, you're not alone. They're sometimes described as homeopathic vaccines - A tiny bit of human tissue that's been infected with a given disease is sterilized, and then diluted many times over. It's diluted so much that there is actually no active ingredient left in the final product. Nosodes advocates say they nevertheless produce an immune response.

Health Canada has approved their use within traditional homeopathic medicine, but they're not to be used as an alternative to vaccination. In fact, since last year, Health Canada guidelines have stipulated that nosodes must be packaged with labels stating clearly that they are not alternatives to vaccines. But six months after those guidelines took force, our Marketplace colleagues sent those same two parents in to buy nosodes from homeopathic practitioners and there were no warning labels. 

Shot of Confusion

8 years ago
Duration 22:25
Some health practitioners are discouraging Canadians from vaccinating and selling them alternatives that can put kids at risk.

With measles outbreaks popping up across Canada, some public health experts are calling on Health Canada to further tighten the rules around nosodes or even take them off the market entirely.

Ian Culbert is the Executive Director of the Canadian Public Health Association. He was in our Ottawa studio. 

We requested interviews with Health Canada, Health Minister Rona Ambrose and her Parliamentary Secretary. No one was available today. We also asked the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors to speak with us. The organization declined. We reached out to the bodies that regulate Naturopathic Physicians in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. They didn't get back to us. The College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia did respond, but couldn't provide anyone for an interview. However, it stated naturopathic doctors providing immunizations must "adhere to provincial immunization guidelines ... They are not permitted to misrepresent homeopathic preparations as substitutes for the immunization protocols approved by the province."

Alfred Hauk has agreed to talk about this. He is a Naturopathic Doctor and the Chair of the Board of the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors. The association advocates on behalf of Naturopathic Doctors in Ontario, but does not license or regulate them. Alfred Hauk ws in Brantford, Ontario. 

This segment was produced by The Current's Gord Westmacott and Sarah Grant. 

Related Links

Health experts question lack of crackdown on ‘homeopathic vaccines’

Parents' Experiences Discussing Pediatric Vaccination with Healthcare Providers:
A Survey of Canadian Naturopathic Patients

Stop Nosodes: The Evidence for the Efficacy of Nosodes