Homeopathy is based on the law of similars – the idea that like cures like. This has been described by some as ‘sympathetic magic’. There is a Wikipedia entry on magical thinking that includes a reference to Sir James Fraser’s division of magical thinking into “contagious” and “homeopathic” magic. Homeopathic remedies also tend to be highly diluted.
St John’s wort is a traditional remedy for depression. There is some scientific research that seems to support the view that St John’s wort is a useful remedy for low mood / depression.
Oddly, you can actually purchase homeopathic St John’s wort for depression. Given that St John’s wort reputedly cures depression, and that homeopathy is based on like cures like, it seems to me that it is quite back-to-front for homeopathic St John’s wort to be recommended for depression.
The wonderfully named* Health BaBa has an odd Q&A on St John’s wort and low mood, which contains the following advice:
Here is what I would do for moods (and enjoy done for pain):
1) I would buy a bottle of homeopathic St. John’s Wort pills, milk sugar substructure. Those are the cylindrical pills, not the orb shaped ones. Strength: X6, X12 or X30. The strength does not really event too much, although the X30 is said to work more on the emotion. X6 or X12 work fine, too.
2) I would place 2-4 pills in a 1 ounce dropper bottle.
3) I would include purified river.
6) If I would suffer mood swings or depressive states, I would verbs taking the remedy over extended period of time, months, or years. One can skip taking the remedy the weekends to grant the body a break and renew the impact of the remedy.
I hold never hear of any glum side effect from homeopathic remedy taken this road. [SJW Health Baba PDF]
I make no further comment on this answer, except to say that I am intrigued (and not a little baffled) by the significance apparently attached to the shape of tablets, and the mention of ‘purified river’.
HBC Protocols, Inc. “has [since its creation in 1996] been dedicated to providing new, science-based solutions to consumer health and aging concerns through the discovery and development of research-grade formulations.” [Link to ‘about’ page, PDF] It seems that one of these science-based solutions is homeopathic St John’s Wort:
Homeopathic spray, formulated and produced under the guidelines of the homeopathic pharmacopoeia of the US from research-grade St. John’s wort, works fast to provide relief for moderate to mild depression.
A series of recent double-blind, placebo-controlled studies indicate that a specific extract of Hypericum perforatum was as effective as prescription antidepressants but had far fewer side effects (thus available without a prescription for the treatment of mild to moderate depression) and cost considerably less — about 25 cents a day.
In Germany, more than fifty percent of depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders are treated with hypericum. Prozac has two percent. [SJW Homeopathic ST John’s Wort PDF]
This is a bit bizarre. I can’t see any mention on their website of whether their homeopathic St John’s wort is highly diluted, but if it is then the scientific research relating to remedies that actually contain a high enough dose of St John’s wort to have some physical effect is utterly irrelevant. If it is not a diluted remedy then in what sense is it ‘homeopathic’ St John’s wort? Could the ‘homeopathic’ tag be merely a label to hang on their product to attract believers in homeopathy? Or could, perhaps, the reference to scientific research into St John’s wort be a red herring? Something certainly seems slightly fishy about this remedy, anyway.
Here’s a link to Google’s results for “hypericum 30c” +depression, just to show that Health BaBa and HBC are not alone…
A note on St John’s wort and depression
The evidence for remedies that, unlike hypericum 30C, actually contain some hypericum is promising, but a bit patchy. There is some positive research, but most of it has been conducted in German-speaking countries. I wrote about this in my post on Cultural Bias in Scientific Research. The Cochrane review I link to in my post is worth reading.
*The word ‘baba’ is a Northern slang term that means something along the lines of ‘crap’ or ‘shit’. A website called HealthBaba promoting homeopathic St John’s wort seemed almost too good to be true – talking baba about health, if you will. It sort-of was too good to be true, as the word ‘baba’ apparently means quite different things in other parts of the country. (H/T @ChrisGurr @en_em_ @Paulnuk2O1O @dts1970)