Recently a long-time patient asked my opinion of the 'new' weight-loss method becoming popular in our town. She has lost and regained hundreds of pounds over the years, trying various diets without long-term success. She did best with Weight Watchers, but a successful friend convinced her to try the "HCG" diet.
I scanned the pages of propagandvertising (the usual pseudoscientific rationale) and instructions she had been given. The diet was primarily very-low calorie (500 kcal/day) with periods of low calorie (1800 kcal) and had a long list of forbidden foods. No surprises there (as I told her, who won't lose weight on 500 Kcal/day?). In addition "HCG" drops are the magic ingredient- to be taken sublingually in 23 day cycles. HCG drops??
"Can I see the bottle they sold you"?
"Here it is. I paid $40 for it".
I look at the front of the label. " hCG". "homeopathic". I turn the bottle and see this on its side:
I turned the label toward her and she read aloud "Ingredients: Water."
"What! I paid $40 for WATER?!? How dumb was THAT"?