A medicine sold as homeopathic — or more “natural” — contains more alcohol than a shot of whiskey, according to one scientist.
Though it’s described as “non habit-forming,” the CVS Homeopathic Constipation Relief medicine contains 20 percent alcohol as a non-active ingredient. When she learned about it, science blogger Yvette d’Entremont, known as the SciBabe, decided to conduct her own experiment and drank six one-ounce bottles of the medicine and then washed it down with some Diet Coke.
The result? She got drunk.
“It doesn’t do what it claims to do and it got me drunk,” d’Entremont told NBC Los Angeles. “I want people to be a little more discerning when they go to pick up a medication, because you might end up with something with no medicine and a lot of alcohol in it. It’s really just alcohol and water.”
NBC Los Angeles asked CVS to respond and the company said, “Homeopathic products are regulated by the FDA. The alcohol content in this type of product is not unusual and our products should only be used as directed.”
The FDA does require that medicine contain 10 percent or less alcohol, but the government excludes homeopathic medicines from that rule because, as supporters claim, they’re made to different standards than regular medications.
A good rule of thumb? Don’t take medicine that includes ingredients you don’t understand. “Pick up any homeopathic medication and try to decipher how many grams there are of just one active ingredient,” d’Entremont wrote in a Slate essay.
“Odds are that you will not be able to conjure a clear answer by simply reading the label. Furthermore, in most cases, there probably isn’t much more than sugar in your pill.”