Correactology – a very Canadian woo

I was carrying out some fieldwork in northern Ontario last summer, which involved trips to Sudbury, Sault Ste Marie and North Bay. Each day while staying in Sault Ste Marie, we would drive past a small, squat building with a sign outside announcing the presence of a “Correactology Centre”. I had no idea what that was and made a mental note to look it up. I was surprised that when I googled “correactology” there wasn’t even a Wikipedia page! It didn’t bother me that much as I had assumed that it was some obscure form of alternative therapy. I was correct, but it is a little bit more interesting than that.  Unlike many forms of complementary and alternative medicine, correactology (TM) is new.  Not only that, but it is Canadian, with the headquarters based in Sudbury, Ontario, and there is also a branch in Ottawa, making this a local matter!
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Debunking the drug store: Oscillococcinum and Homeocoksinum

For those of you who have been following the past couple of posts, I am currently working my way through part of a shelf in Shoppers Drug Mart and critically evaluating some of their products.  I’ve already covered Boiron’s “Stodal” cough syrup and found it to be a combination of folk remedies and wishful-thinking.  However, their big product is the flu-remedy Oscillcoccinum.  This is among the top ten over-the-counter medicines sold in France (not surprising given their love of homeopathy), so it isn’t a “fringe” alternative medicine by any means.  Oscillococcinum (“Oscillo” for short) and Homeocoksinum (its Canadian cousin) are the same medicine marketed by two different companies, so I’m going to deal with them together.
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Debunking the drug store: Stodal

For those of you who aren’t aware, I am on a mission to debunk at least a small part of Shoppers Drug Mart.  This time, it’s Boiron’s Stodal cough mixture.

I hadn’t heard of Stodal before.  Apparently it “relieves all types of coughs”, which seems like a pretty bold (and evidence-based claim).  This surprised me as it is produced by Boiron, a homeopathic manufacturer.  Now there are lots of perfectly good cough medicines out there, even if some of them taste like you’re drinking the products of a high school chemistry experiment.  So what does Boiron bring to the table?

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Debunking the drug store: Introduction

So I was in a well-known Canadian drug store a week or two ago, and I decided to take a skeptical wander down some of their aisles.  Alongside copious cosmetic products (which require a post on their own), I came across what I suppose was the “seasonal remedies” section.  This aisle contained remedies for ‘flu and hayfever.  What interested me was the juxtaposition of the different treatments and the lack of information provided on the display about the nature of each of the products.  Read More »

The problem of hierarchical problems

I was at the CFI Ottawa Unsermon this morning (which I highly recommend for brunch and intelligent conversation!) and got into a debate justifying the actions of CFI.  The discussion was sparked by this sentiment: “There are big issues (health, environment, economy) that need to be solved.  CFI takes on smaller projects that do not address those bigger issues and so is not worth investing in.”
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