Friday, October 29, 2021

Dear FDA We're Living in Post Do's and Don'ts World ?

There is a timely, seasonal new posting for parents on the FDA website – 

Should You Give Kids Medicine for Coughs and Colds?

After a short list of steps parents can take to treat their child's cough or cold -  using a humidifier, or saline solution etc.,  they talk about homeopathics. 

I stumbled through the writing and reasoning and decided to take a stab at rewriting the homeopathics section. 

My goals:

  • Acknowledge how homeopathics have a long history - (after all they're aggressively marketed and used by millions)
  • Add a bit more reasoning behind why the FDA does not recommend any homeopathics of children.*
  • Clarify problematic language WITHOUT denying readers the opportunity to learn new words 

*I found a real contradiction between first message on the FDA page: homeopathics can “contain active drug ingredients in levels that far exceed the amount stated on the product’s label, and could cause significant harm to children.”  Vs. the message you see if you click on the link to read more about homeopathics.  It states that “the more diluted the substance, the more potent it is, which is known as the “law of infinitesimals.”

This is just one quick effort to tell a better story. I'm sure you have other ideas.

Original Text 

At your pharmacy and online, you may see other cough and cold medicine being sold for children advertised as homeopathic. It’s important to note that these homeopathic products are drugs because they are intended to treat or mitigate colds, even though some of these products might look similar to dietary supplements.

Homeopathic products are generally labeled as containing very small amounts of highly diluted substances, including ingredients from plants, animal or human sources, bacteria, minerals, and chemicals. The FDA has found that some of these products contain active drug ingredients in levels that far exceed the amount stated on the product’s label, and could cause significant harm to children.

There are no FDA-approved homeopathic products, and homeopathic products sold in the U.S. have not met the FDA’s requirements for safety and effectiveness. The FDA is not aware of any proven benefits of these products and urges you not to give homeopathic cough and cold medicine to children younger than 4.

Do-over text

What about homeopathic remedies for my child's cough or cold? 

Today, you can find homeopathic products in drugstores and online.  The labels say - 



“Safe and effective”

They can look like vitamins and other healthy foods.  

People all around the world have been using homeopathic remedies for many, many years. “Homeopathic” products were developed before we had most modern medicines. 

The people who were working to discover homeopathic remedies used to give a substance ( parts of a plant, an animal part, or a chemical or mineral from the environment) to a volunteer patient.  They would wait to see if the person got sick or had some symptoms.  Then they would change the amount of the substance and watch again.  In this way they found some combinations that they believed could help a patient with their illness. 

Homeopathic remedies are big business.

Remember homeopathic products are drugs. 

The FDA does not recommend any homeopathics for children younger than 4.  


1. The FDA cannot be sure what exactly is in the product. 

2. The label often says that a very little amount (diluted amount) of a chemical or other substance is in           the product.  So, many people think, “Oh it just has a little bit of that.  It must be safe”!

But scientists know that the opposite can be true.  Sometimes just a little (diluted) amount of chemicals are very dangerous!  That’s surprising but true. 

3.  Homeopathic remedies may not be produced carefully and the amount of chemicals are not carefully controlled.  

This is why the FDA’s advice is - 

Do Not Give homeopathic cough and cold medicine to children younger than 4.

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