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Homeopathy doesn’t poison your body, it poisons your mind

Often that is true. Not always though. Homeopathy is worse than just a cultural poison if you die of malaria as a result of advice from a homeopath.

The Newsnight TV programme exposed the fact that many UK homeopaths advise homeopathic pills for prevention of malaria. This strikes me as nothing short of criminal, and it was condemned roundly by more responsible homeopaths like Peter Fisher.

Bur a correspondent has pointed out that there are even more dangerous fantasies around. Direct claims to cure malaria with homeopathic ‘funny water’. [See postscript for some of the US rules.]

He spotted an entry in Facebook that is nothing more than an advertisement for a book, by a Kate Birch.

Kate Birch and malaria treatment

The book being advertised is called Vaccine Free – Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Contagious Diseases with homeopathy. This prompted my correspondent to write to Kate Birch, thus.

3 August 2007

Kate

I am planning to work in Nigeria (rather I’m returning to work in Nigeria). I am not keen on subjecting myself once again to anti malarial drugs. I have looked at your facebook page and I am curious as to what Homeopathic remedy would be suitable for Nigeria.
I know that Dr Peter Fisher of the University College Homeopathic Hospital states that Homeopathy is not suitable for prevention or treatment of Malaria. You obviously disagree, and I would like to follow your approach.
Can you advise me please.

He got a long reply to this query (reproduced without copy-editing). The emphasis is mine.

“Thank you for your inquiry. There is a complete chapter on malaria in my book. and Homeopathy is more effective that any western medication.There is a protocol to follow. I have attached it below. however if you need more information I would recommend the book as it goes ointo more detail on the specific remedies and also deals with Yellow fever, dengue, hep A, typhoid etc. just in case. a small remedy kit can get you very far with many of these conditions. check out Washington homeopathics for their travel kits or 50 C potency kit. just watch that the remedies don’t go through the x-ray at the airport or sustain too much heat. both will ruin the remedies. Not only can you help your self but once you get used to understanding the remedies you can help many people.There is a clininc in Tanzania that treats 35,000 people a year with homeopathy. most of their caes are malaria and they have tremendous success rate. get the book and tell your doctor that his information is incomplete.Good luck,

Happy travels,
Kate

What? “Homeopathy is more effective that any western medication”? There isn’t of course the slightest bit of reason to believe that sugar pills cure malaria. There follows a long quotation from her book. It is, of course, all fantasy, so I won’t reproduce it. But to give you a feel for the style, just try this bit of high grade new-age boloney from her publisher’s web site.

“Miasmatic influences can accumulate in an individual or in select populations based on their exposure to pathological agents and the ability of the individual to develop immunity. There is a pre-miasmatic state that exists prior to incarnation. It is described as a state of bliss and connection to the universe.”

Who is it who is giving this dangerous and irresponsible advice? Kate Birch is not a back-street quack. ” Since 1990 Kate has over 1900 hours in homeopathic and clinical education”. She is vice president of the North American Society of Homeopaths (NASH). The mind boggles.

Legal and ethical stuff

The North American Society of Homeopaths (NASH) has a code of ethics. It includes this.

“3.01 Where the homeopath considers that the treatment is beyond his/her capacity or skill, the patient with the homeopath’s consent shall refer to or consult with a homeopathic colleague or appropriate health care practitioner.”

and their Standards of Practice Guidelines say

“Do not claim that you can treat any disease, condition or ailment or imply that you can do so.

Be extremely careful when speaking or writing about the treatment of particular diseases or conditions (and never offer or claim to help anybody). “

If you consider that Ms Birch is “acting beyond her capacity” in recommending treatment for malaria, contact NASH at NashInfo@homeopathy.org

The UK Society of Homeopaths made the following statement, after the Newsnight TV programme.

The Society of Homeopaths, the UK’s largest register of professional homeopaths, acknowledges that malaria is a serious and life-threatening condition and that there is currently no peer reviewed research to support the use of homeopathy as an anti-malarial treatment.

The North American Society seems to take a very different view.

The American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists (AAHP) says

“Remember, although homeopathy has been shown to treat symptoms of infectious and epidemic diseases, Federal law prohibits the sale of products for these symptoms as OTC products. Accordingly, the AAHP makes clear its position that websites and marketers selling homeopathic medicines as OTC products for epidemic and infectious diseases may be in violation of Federal law.”

Question for US readers. Does this mean Ms Birch is breaking the law?

Kate Birch replies

Soon after posting this, I got this email from Kate Birch, vice president of the North American Society of Homeopaths. She has also posted a comment below.

Believe it or not, I don’t really like the ad hominem stuff at all.
But there are limits, and one limit is when people are given advice that is likely to kill them.

Thanks for all the publicity. I hope books sales will go through the roof now seeing as every homeopath around the world is following what you are up to. We know what we are doing even if you don’t understand it. You must be really bored, preoccupied, or need attention in order to spend your time instigating controversy, hype, and slander.What you resist will persist.
Kate Birch

PS I didn’t appreciate being set up for your antics. And it is a good thing you didn’t post the excerpt from my book or you would be liable for copy write infringement. And FYI the letter you posted (as below) isn’t the letter I received. The doctor was never named in the letter I received. You could be liable for fraud too as this is not the letter I responded to. Therefore my comments were taken out of context and made to look like I was disagreeing with Dr Peter Fisher. “I know that Dr Peter Fisher of the University College Homeopathic Hospital states that Homeopathy is not suitable for prevention or treatment of Malaria. You obviously disagree,” This sentence was not in the original letter and has been added in your blog to inflame the situation. get your facts strait before you go making such accusations.

I’m trying to establish exactly what letter was sent to her (it wasn’t sent by me), but it really hardly matters whether the sentence about Dr Fisher was in it or not.Yes, I presume the original letter was designed to elicit Ms Birch’s opinions about the treatment of malaria. And it did. “There is a complete chapter on malaria in my book. and Homeopathy is more effective that any western medication“.Here is part of my reply.

Peter Fisher, as I imagine you know, is clinical director of the Royal London Homeooathic Hospital (which will probably close soon), and homeopathic physician to the Queen (our royal family, I fear, is better at pageantry than intellect). On the occasion when it was revealed that London homeopaths were recommending homeopathic pills for prevention (not even cure) of malaria, Fisher’s words were

“I’m very angry about it because people are going to get malaria – there is absolutely no reason to think that homeopathy works to prevent malaria and you won’t find that in any textbook or journal of homeopathy so people will get malaria, people may even die of malaria if they follow this advice.”

You can read this on the BBC report.

At least it seems that there is very radical disagreement between one homeopath and another.

Now let’s get back to the clinic in Tanzania that has achieved such miracles?

Sham cures in Africa

Use Google to search for ‘homeopathic malaria Tanzania’ and you will get an astonishing number of direct claims to cure malaria with sugar pills. Claims are all you will get though, no evidence that any of them work.

For example, The Abha Light College in Nairobi, Kenya, refers to a report about homeopathic malaria prevention in 152 Tanzanian patients. This “study” had no control group with which to compare the effects of homeopathic neem leaves, and comments “Considering the exploratory nature of the study, no statistical significance testing was planned”.

It is not worth the paper it’s written on.

The same “study” is cited by the Global Resource Alliance, Inc., based in California. This seems to be a well-meaning organisation which, through its devotion to quackery, is helping to spread malaria in Africa.

Demal 200

A company called giftofafrica says of its homeopathic malaria treatment.

“Demal 200 is highly effective in treating all types of Malaria even the strains that have developed a resistance to chemical based drugs.”

This direct claim of effectiveness is mind-bogglingly irresponsible.

This “remedy” contains nothing whatsoever apart from 15% alcohol, It is a 200C homeopathic preparation. That is a dilution if 1 part in 10 to the power 400. There would not be a single molecule in a volume vastly larger than that of all the water on the earth (a mere 13 times 10 to the power 21 litres).

There is, of course, the usual small print at the bottom of the page, that contradicts the claims in large print.

*Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease. Any form of self-treatment or alternative health program necessarily must involve an individual’s acceptance of some risk. It is advised that you consult your doctor before making any health decision. Demal 200 is primarily sold as a malaria treatment, it’s prophylactic qualities are secondary to it’s intended use which is to treat chronic or acute malaria.

. . .

Because Demal 200 has not yet been conclusively scientifically tested, it is not licensed for medical use in European Union; North America and Australasia. Please note: The staff of Shoponlion Ltd and their families have successfully used Demal 200 as a prophylactic but are not in a position to guarantee the efficacy of this medicine.

The company selling this stuff is based in Wolverhampton, UK. It costs £31.99 (or $56.40) for 30 ml of 15% alcohol. That is an £1066 per litre: expensive way to get drunk (which is all this stuff will do for you).

Unbelievable.

Of course no evidence at all is offered that it works. Just the usual list of testimonials from people who didn’t happen to get malaria.

If you like anecdotes, you can read here the stories of some people who were less lucky.

Postscript

“Quackery hinders AIDS treatment efforts” is the title of an article in Science in Africa.

And let’s not forget the efforts of Patrick Holford for health in Africa.

FDA rules about homeopathy

The FDA’s rules include the following statement.

7. Health Fraud: The deceptive promotion, advertisement, distribution or sale of articles, intended for human or animal use, that are represented as being effective to diagnose, prevent, cure, treat, or mitigate disease (or other conditions), or provide a beneficial effect on health, but which have not been scientifically proven safe and effective for such purposes. Such practices may be deliberate, or done without adequate knowledge or understanding of the article.*

Federal Trade Commission

The FTC is running Operation Cure All. This encourages reporting of health scams

Unfortunately, consumers spend millions of dollars every year on unproven – and often useless – health products and services. Health fraud trades on false hope. It promises quick cures for dozens of medical conditions – from arthritis and obesity to osteoporosis, cancer and AIDS.
. . .
The Federal Trade Commission is targeting false and unsubstantiated health claims on the Internet through Operation Cure.All – a law enforcement and consumer education campaign.

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