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I'm not sure what they put in the remedies but I would like to know if they are kosher and would batel beshishim apply in this case if there was a non-kosher ingredient?

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I think your second question is much more interesting and answerable than your first. I'd recommend editing the question so it's just the second part, and adding whatever background and motivation you can. –  Isaac Moses May 8 '13 at 20:28
    
I second @IsaacMoses. The first would depend on the recipe. The question "does Shishim apply" is much different than "is it Kosher"? –  Seth J May 8 '13 at 20:33
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@Daniel Ask: "Does Judaism allow placebos where the person thinks it does something, and is thereby cured, even though the item does nothing. Is this gnevas da'as, or because it can help them it's permitted to mislead them this way." –  Ariel May 8 '13 at 21:05
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@Daniel I just posted it myself: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/28590/758 –  Ariel May 8 '13 at 21:08
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@Daniel Homeopathy claims it works that way. It doesn't. It's a placebo. It's very effective though - don't get me wrong, but it works because the person believes it works. But the question "are you allowed to make someone worse in order to [try to] heal them" is yet another good question - but the amounts used in homeopathy will never actually do that. –  Ariel May 8 '13 at 21:18

3 Answers 3

Some Halachic sources relating to homeopathy:

1) Hamaor (journal) Sh'vat 1983. Someone asked R' Moshe Feinstein concerning the kashrut of homeopathic 'remedies' on Passover. (Would the prohibition against purposely nullifying a substance apply?) The response came from Rabbi Moshe Tendler who wrote that his father-in-law didn't want to deal with the question because homeopathy is nonsense:

"Homeopathy is not considered a tested and confirmed remedy that people can use without going against the will of God. A theory of healing that goes against rationalism brings one to nonsense beliefs and endangers the patient to foreign influences, occult beliefs and eventually to deny the order of nature that God has arranged. Since he doesn't want to deal with such ideas, Rav Feinstein is compelled to refuse to answer your question." (My rough translation. Please refer to the original Hebrew for the sake of accuracy.)

I emphasized the terms tested and confirmed (בדוקה ומנוסה) because they refer to the prohibition against superstitions- "darchei haemori". The source in Shulchan Aruch is OC:301. Basically, any cure that has no basis in science and has been proven ineffective (or perhaps not proven effective) is forbidden as a superstition. (There are nuances that need further study.) Indeed, homeopathy has been proven ineffective (see wikipedia for references to the meta-studies) and has no rational basis in science. (I can speculate as to the meaning of the rest of the letter. Many people who believe and promote homeopathy tend to have other strange beliefs. There is a definite connection between homeopathy and the occult/superstitions. Major influential homeopaths such J. T. Kent, Edward Bach and George Vithoulkas were/are occultists. More than half of Wikipedia's list of homeopaths have some connection to the occult/spiritualism/new age. In some cases, outright idolatry is involved.)

The article in the HaMaor journal continues with two rather strange responses to Rabbi Tendler/Feinstein's "non-responsum". They include halachic non-sequitors, a bizarre claim that homeopathy is respected by doctors/scientists, an accusation that Rabbi Tendler fabricated his father-in-law's response, and even an ad hominem attack against Rabbi Tendler for attending university.

I found three other reponsa that deal with Rabbi Feinstein's negation of homeopathy:

1) Rabbi Chaim Dovid HaLevi in T'chumin, Volume 3. He deals with the Passover issue and the question of non-scientific (segulot) remedies in general. (I would humbly suggest anyone reading the responsum to study all the sources he cites very carefully. Especially problematic is that he disregards the major point that Rabbi Tendler makes- that homeopathy is not בדוקה ומנוסה ; instead he only deals with the issue that homeopathy has no scientific explanation.)

2) R' Menashe Klein, Mishneh Halachos, Vol. 10, 112. (He doesn't understand why homeopathy would be considered nonsense/non-scientific. He doesn't deal with the issue of בדוקה ומנוסה)

3) R Wosner, Shevet HaLevi, Vol. 5, 55. (He seems to conclude that the remedy is permitted if it has been established as effective and accepted by medical experts.)

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Thank you for all these sources! Could you please provide a link to the Hamaor article and the Tchumin article? The others I could find but I couldn't find those two. –  Gavriel Oct 11 '13 at 11:44
    
The HaMaor article can be read here: hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=27996&pgnum=34 –  Ephraim Oct 11 '13 at 12:49
    
I have not seen the T'chumin article online. But it's widely available, and easier to find in print than back-issues of HaMaor. –  Ephraim Oct 11 '13 at 12:51

Wikipedia includes this sentence in its article on homeopathy:

The low concentration of homeopathic remedies, which often lack even a single molecule of the diluted substance,[13] has been the basis of questions about the effects of the remedies since the 19th century.

If there is not a single molecule of a non-kosher ingerdient, what possible problem can there be?

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A davar ha-maamid can not be batel. It's irrelevant that the substance doesn't actually make a difference (because homeopathy isn't a regular medicine, it's a mental tool) - the person who makes it/eats it thinks it does, so in their eyes it's a davar ha-maamid. –  Ariel May 8 '13 at 21:02
    
But if there is not a single molecule present - then there is nothing there of it. This is not a question of bittul - it's a question of existence (so to speak). –  Avrohom Yitzchok May 8 '13 at 21:20
    
Are you sure bitul has to do with empirical measurement? CO2 from beer making is prohibited on Pesach - but there is no beer in there, only pure CO2. Reb Moshe Feinstein permitted Shellac because it is initially batel - yet it's afterward reconstituted and every bit of it is still there. (Never mind that many argue on him - the existence of this concept is what matters here.) –  Ariel May 8 '13 at 21:23
    
@Ariel Are his eyes relevant? We know it isn't a maamid because it doesn't do anything. –  Double AA May 8 '13 at 22:39
    
Possibly related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/6630 –  msh210 May 8 '13 at 22:58

This link lays out all the relevant points is for using homeopathic medicines

http://www.koltorah.org/ravj/14-37_Medicines_that_Contain_Non-Kosher_Ingredients_or_Chametz_4.htm

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Hi Rabbi Yisroel, welcome to Mi Yodeya thanks for posting this answer. –  user2110 May 13 '13 at 15:07

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