What happens when you neck an entire tube of arsenic homeopathic pills as sold by Boots? Well according to Adrian Bailey of the Birmingham Sceptics you need a strong cup of coffee because eating 84 grammes of sugar is pretty unpleasant.
But that's it.
There's no risk because with homeopathic remedies the active ingredient is diluted to the point where it is no longer present. Arsenic homepathic pills are just sugar pills. So if you do "overdose" you'll need a coffee to take the taste away but you won't need a doctor.
So when groups of protestors staged mass homeopathic "overdoses" outside Boots stores this weekend for the 1023 campaign they were totally safe. But they were making a serious point. What is such a large chain of chemists doing selling something that can't work beyond perhaps a simple placebo effect?
We asked Boots why they sell these remedies and here's what Paul Bennett, Professional Standards Director and Superintendent Pharmacist had to say;
"Homeopathy is recognised by the NHS and many health professionals and our customers choose to use homeopathy. Boots UK is committed to providing our customers with a wide range of healthcare products to suit their individual needs, we know that many people believe in the benefits of complementary medicines and we aim to offer the products we know our customers want. Our Pharmacists are trained healthcare professionals and are on hand to offer advice on the safe use of complementary medicines. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain issues guidance to pharmacists on the correct selling of homeopathy which our pharmacists adhere to. We would support the call for scientific research and evidence gathering on the efficacy of homeopathic medicines. This would help our patients and customers make informed choices about using homeopathic medicines''
What people choose to buy and what shops choose to sell is really a matter for them of course. But the NHS also spends money on homeopathy. According to freedom of information requests around £4m a year. With the prospects of tighter budgets in the next few years that's money that could buy a lot of real drugs.