A easily-read article first published in 1996 discussing homeopathic drugs and their regulation through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This article is annotated by Dr. Stephen Barrett, of QuackWatch.
Key words: Homeopathy
Type of Material:
Assign to pre-nursing, pre-medical students and other future heathcare providers as part of a critical thinking exercise.
Use as material for an in-class debate concerning alternative or integrative therapies/homeopathy.
Use in a physics course to discuss the feasibility of the proposed mechanisms behind homeopathy.
Computer connected to the Internet with a web browser.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Define homeopathy and describe it origins and historical use
Explain the regulations that apply to homeopathic products in the USA and some of the concerns about these regulations
Identify reasons that some people may choose to use homeopathy
Identify potential downsides associated with using homeopathic products
Target Student Population:
High School, College General Ed
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
No prerequisite knowledge needed, although an understanding of the placebo effect and medical ethics may be helpful.
The article clearly introduces the concept of homeopathy and reviews the inception of the practice of homeopathy.
The information is accurate and provides a good basic background about the material
The content is well organized and follows good pedagogy
The article also covers the legal regulations that govern homeopathic remedies, and provides commentary from several providers and educators.
The original article was written in 1996 by FDA Compliance Officer Isadora Stehlin. It includes a response from 1997 by Dr. William Jarvis, Professor at Loma Linda and then-President of the National Council Against Health Fraud. Additionally, there are embedded responses from Dr. Stephen Barrett, from Quackwatch. Rather than being a true pro/con discussion, Barrett is responding to people who are quoted in the article, rather than the author of the article. It feels a bit disjointed, and additional resources would likely be needed to fully review both perspectives.
The information is dated and should be refreshed for the 2020s.
The article skirts over the key topic of efficacy and the associated medical ethics. Although they do make the case that homeopathics are generally unlikely to hurt people if prepared as described, there is harm in separating people from their money to use a remedy that does not work and has no probable mechanism based on our current understanding of medicine, physics, and physiology.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The explanation at the beginning of the article provides context and describes the author's intent in writing the article and some of the flaws detected by the commentators.
This article promotes critical thinking and consideration of multiple perspectives.
Teaching and learning goals are not identified.
It is not entirely clear that the article and commentary are hosted by a "Homeowatch" site, which is an important consideration in analyzing the arguments being made.
It would be helpful to have photographs or videos to make the site more interesting
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Site is fast and intuitive
No defective links or major bugs were found
The article is accessible online, has no distracting advertisements, and should be easily read by a screen reader.
The site appears dated; the original article was published in 1996, while this page from Homeowatch was published in 2001 and doesn't appear to have been updated since them.
No copyright is indicated on the page.
Other Issues and Comments:
No additional comments.
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