Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gail Rosenblum, Fan of Homeopathy?

I've said in the past that I'm a fan of Star Tribune columnist Gail Rosenblum, but today she committed what seems to me a clear case of bad journalism.

Her story was about the recently published research on antidepressant use. The main point of the column is to make sure people realize the study found only a third of people with severe depression are taking antidepressants.

Rosenblum is rightly concerned that this under-usage will be lost in the midst of the more loudly trumpeted news that 11 percent of people over the age of 12 (and 25 percent of women 40 to 59) are taking antidepressants.

Fair enough, and worth a column. But suddenly, about two-thirds of the way through, in a section discussing why women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression, comes this paragraph, completely out of the blue:

Homeopathic practitioner Debra Sax Annes agrees that standards and stresses for mid-life women are high today. While not unilaterally opposed to antidepressants, she worries about their limitations and long-term side-effects. Homeopathy, she said, looks at people as unique. "Each depression is different," she said. "Post-partum depression is totally different than the loss of your mother or the loss of a job. We all get stuck with what life sometimes throws us. Homeopathy uses remedies in minute doses to keep people balanced mentally, emotionally and physically."
What does that have to do with the rest of the story? How can a supposedly fact-based writer let pass unchallenged the idea that "remedies in minute doses" can "keep people balanced"? Is Rosenblum a believer in the silliness of homeopathy, which is based on the idea of water memory -- which has no basis in science whatsoever? Those doses the homeopath refers to are not doses at all.

In fact, when homeopathic remedies wander into actual dosages, they get into trouble, as with Zicam, a cold remedy that destroyed the sense of smell in its users. Homeopathy -- which is not regulated by the FDA -- is not just another word for alternative medicine; it's a 200-year-old belief system that predates much of medical science, and which has refused to give up its absurd, unscientific claims.

Here's a video I saw a while ago that treats homeopathy with the level of seriousness it warrants:

So what about it, Gail? What did that little advertisement for homeopathy in your story have to do with treatment of depression?

No comments: