The Hyland’s Recall & Homeopathics

October 24, 2010 · 5 comments

Teething toddler

Teething hurts!

This morning I posted news releases from the FDA and Hyland’s Homeopathic Remedies regarding the voluntary recall of their teething tablets. As soon as I did it, I second-guessed whether it was a good decision to spread the word. After all, neither of the releases actually specifies something is wrong with the remedy, or that any harm can come from them. However, I believe in informed choice, so I think it’s important to share information when it’s available. To be fair to Standard Homeopathic Company, though, a company I respect and use for myself and my family, I think it’s important to give information about what homeopathics are, how they work, and how the FDA regulates them. We should all be familiar with this information for any product we give to our children.

Homeopathics, in a nutshell, use energy to heal and relieve symptoms by activating the vital force, also called Chi or Prana, that exists in each one of us. While this sounds like a lot of hocus pocus and one of the reasons homeopathy is debunked or dismissed as quackery, consider how our bodies function every day. If we get a cut, our body heals it. No medicine or procedures needed. Sometimes though, we get sick and our body can use some nudging to help with some symptoms, and this is where homeopathics can help. Their formulations, in either a pill, tablet, or liquid, contains substances that start our body to do its own healing. A full explanation can be found here. Some of these formulations are more intuitive than others. For instance, many hay fever and cold remedies use dilutions from a type of onion, using the laws of similars. Onions cause running nose and itching eyes, so those properties can be used to prevent the same symptoms for other reasons. Sometimes there’s no explanation for how they work. Even trained homeopaths don’t fully understand how each remedy heals, as explained here.

At this point you may wonder if homeopathics actually work. Like many other non-pharmaceutical remedies, the jury is out. Some studies show they are more effective than a placebo, and some don’t. In general, if they work for you, then they work. If they don’t, well then, they don’t. For some people they work very well. In my family, we’ve had success with the Hyland’s teething tablets, but not so much with the Hyland’s hayfever remedy. With other brands of homeopathics, I’ve had similar success. Some remedies works for me (for allergies, for instance), and some didn’t.

When evaluating this particular recall, it’s important to understand how homeopathics are prepared. Here’s the Wikipedia explanation, which explains that homepathic preparations only contain minute dilutions of the original substances, sometimes even just a few molecules. This article explains how taking more than recommended of a homeopathic remedy actually cases it to be less potent. This is interesting, because the complaints to the FDA that prompted the investigation into Hyland’s were thought to be related to taking too many tablets and potentially overdosing on belladonna, a member of the toxic nightshade family. However, according to Wikipedia, “Homeopathic belladonna preparations have been sold as treatments for various conditions, although there is no scientific evidence to support their efficacy. Clinically and in research trials, the most common preparation is diluted to the 30C level in homeopathic notation. This level of dilution does not contain any of the original plant, although preparations with lesser dilutions which statistically contain trace amounts of the plant are advertised for sale”. The recalled Hyland’s Teething Tablets were diluted to 30c level.

I’m waiting on more information about this recall before I pass judgement on Hyland’s and Standard Homeopathic Company regarding this recall. At this point it sounds the FDA was simply acting on complaints and perhaps found non-standard manufacturing processes, which could be anything, even missing paperwork or a misunderstanding. I think it’s good to know what’s going on with a company that manufactures something I give to my child to ingest, but this particular recall isn’t going to cause me any alarm even though I just gave some tablets to my son yesterday. It’s certainly a situation I will watch and follow, though, and I hope more information will be released about what the problem is. For those who want to use non-pharmaceutical therapies for teething, other homeopathic teething remedies are available, as well as amber teething necklaces that have analgesic properties.

If anyone else has alternative remedies to use until the matter is cleared up, please share!

A version of this article also appears on Natural Parents Network.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Yuliya November 2, 2010
2 Suchada @ Mama Eve November 3, 2010

Hi Yuliya — I have seen this article. It has an interesting point of view, and I agree with a lot of what is said, particularly the emphasis on the FDA not taking the time to find causality before recommending a recall, and that Hyland’s, like many smaller companies, doesn’t have the resources to fight the recommendation and so goes along with it. However, I don’t believe the FDA is making a conscious effort to stamp out holistic healthcare and wellness — but I think they are sticking their heads in the sand when it comes to understanding the effect of large corporate money on their recommendations. The article definitely presents a lot of food for thought.


3 John Clark November 7, 2010

I saw this on the sidebar of Facebook, and it was gone when I tried getting back to the page. I didn’t know yet that it was just the teething tablets, so I collected all the Hyland’s remedies we have at our camp site (our oldest son had Aplastic Anemia & our Homeopath sent us to the Allopaths for treatment at G’town then to Baltimore to Hopkins for the bone marrow transplant. We are staying in an apt here for post transplant patients). My google brought me here.

We are well post teething tablets. Although, one time I came back from the dentist in pain I found an old bottle and took it instead of the signal remedy I was looking for. Yes, it did help. We swore by our Hylands teething tablets, but we also used single remedies, teething rings, and Makers Mart (on their gums, & once they were asleep, as a nerve medicine for us, mixed or straight). Our 11 yo (& bone marrow donor) currently uses the insomnia remedy which really helps. We also have 30x Nux as our older son uses it to defend against the side effect of chemo. I also found rhus tox (likely proscribed for the rashes he had). I think we also have some smoke ending remedy in the car.

At times, I been recruited into the homeopathy wars. What I find interesting about the fundamentalist “scientists” is that they think we all totally reject western medicine. We were pretty lucky at G’town as the head of ped hemo/onc is a close friend of our ped & sends her patients to deal w/ nutrition issues. On our first night, a nurse challenged me on the remedies I was giving our son. Next day, Dr Shad told her whole staff in front of me that she uses arnica. After that, we openly practiced homeopathy throughout the treatment.

Gotta’ tell you, many remedies that normally worked didn’t this time. The reality is that homeopathy is just beginning to treat auto-immune diseases. When my son’s immune system had failed, remedies could no longer call up a non-existent army of anti-bodies. Some things, like good old million arnica did work to relieve both our kids being stuck in their hip bones (our patient for the many bone marrow aspirations, our donor for the being harvested of 40% of his marrow). And nux vomica has done much to keep his food from coming back up. At Hopkins, their main concern was the lumping homeopathy w/ naturopathy. One of the causes of Aplastic Anemia is use of herbal medicine. But the really smart, top docs understood the difference, even if some just dismissed it as sugar pills.

What has happened for using the best of both worlds (including all the food our homeopath cooked for us & all the hours she gave us teaching us chemo nutrition), we have a child way ahead of the curve post transplant. I know we’re lucky to have the best hospital in America to do what they helped invent, but he’s way ahead of the other Aplastic Anemia BMT kids there. So, I know that our homeopath is a big part of his, so far, great and early recovery.

I don’t know if the FDA has any kids, but fever & dry mouth is what occurs in teething. The fever is the body dealing with the cutting of the gums from the tooth coming in, not from a Hyland combo-remedy called teething tablets. And, a low grade fever is the body healing itself and should not be suppressed if it does not linger.


4 Suchada @ Mama Eve November 8, 2010

John, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment and sharing your experience. I’m so glad your son is doing well through everything he’s had to endure. You clearly are much more experienced with homeopathy than I am, and I really appreciate how much you added to the discussion. Your points about homeopathy and allopathy not being mutually exclusive is so true — it’s only a very small minority of people who would deny the advances of Western medicine and refuse them in every situation. There’s a lot to be said for using both together and in the appropriate way for each.

For me and my family, we just like to use a less invasive, more gentle approach first before moving forward with other techniques; it sounds like you have a similar view. Thank you again for sharing. Wishing your son a speedy recovery!


5 Lori Ann February 26, 2011

My DD was just teething and I asked my MIL (in the U.S.) to send over some Hyland’s. I couldn’t imagine why she couldn’t find any anywhere til I read this. Hmmm… I’ll be keeping an eye on the news to see how things are going.


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