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Malaria in the news, yet again.

Today I had a not-very-friendly letter from Kate Birch

From: kate birch <katebhom@hotmail.com>

To: david colquhoun <d.colquhoun@ucl.ac.uk>

Subject: FW: Abha Light Products: Announcing NEW MalariX InfoSheet

As I said we keep on working. while you and your kangaroo committee put on a good show. Try to take this one to the cleaners and more and more people will begin to see the fools that you really are. I hope western medicine saved you for your health crisis but that maybe when you depart you will see the how your bitterness twisted things and made you suffer so.

You may recall the expose in which homeopaths in the UK were caught, in 2006, recommending their sugar pills for prevention of malaria, Lethal advice from homeopaths about malaria prevention

You may remember the saga of the taking down of Andy Lewis’s classic post in 2007 on The Gentle Art of Homeopathic Killing

Despite all this, in 2008, the trendy Covent Garden company, Neal’s Yard, tried marketing a homeopathic malaria "remedy". The quackometer’s post Neal’s Yard Remedies Offers Lethal Homeopathic Malaria Advice is a corker. Under pressure they withdrew the “remedy” (see Neal’s Yard Ethical Bullshit Remedy . Eventually Neal’s Yard was censured by the MHRA ( Neal’s Yard Remedies ‘rapped by medicines regulator’ )

Then there was Kate Birch of the North American Society of Homeopaths, who advocates sugar pills for every disease under the sun (and follow-up to these claims).   Memorably, she visited me in late 2007 and gave me a copy of her book. A visit from Kate Birch sitll comes top of the front page if you google ‘kate birch homeopath’.

Attached to the unfriendly letter was a web page from Abha Light. It is an advertisement for a homeopathic malaria treatment. As far as I can see, it doesn’t say anywhere what the “remedy” contains, but that doesn’t matter if, as in most homeopathic products, it contains nothing whatsoever.


This document contains a direct claim that the treatment "has been successfully been used to prevent and treat malaria . . ."


There follows more utter fantasy


Nonsense like this would be a joke if it were not for the fact that they must be killing people. 

Peter Fisher, clinical director the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, said, of the original malaria scandal,

“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”

Like most quasi-religious subjects, homeopathy is split into sects, at war with each other.


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24 Responses to More homeopathic killing

  • lecanardnoir says:

    It has been three or fours years for me commenting on the extreme irresponsibility of the homeopathic world. It has amazed me to see that they fail to act. The heavy bombardment of criticism on them would quickly dry up if they put some boundaries around what they do and, in particular, disassociate themselves from the murderous end as exemplified by Abha Light.

    But what is now clear is that lay homeopathy is a fundamentalist religion that cannot stop taking a literalism interpretation on its holy scriptures – the Organon – with its intrinsic hatred and opposition to real medicine and its pretence to the universality of its beliefs.

    The only real option for critics of homeopathy is to try to get various authorities to step in – and that is amazingly not straightforward.

  • Blue Wode says:

    Thank you for once more exposing Kate Birch’s appalling ignorance.

    With regard to the quote from Peter Fisher, it’s worth remembering a post made by Skeptico back in 2007 in which he queried how Peter Fisher could possibly know that homeopathy was no good for malaria:

    “…what consistent method is he applying to evaluate homeopathy, where the conclusion is that homeopathy works for (say) allergies , but that it is no good for malaria? Has he run tests? Tests where homeopathy succeeds with allergies but fails with malaria? And where can we read about these tests? Because they must exist, right? Otherwise, how does he know?”


  • Mojo says:

    “As far as I can see, it doesn’t say anywhere what the “remedy” contains…”

    According to this document, which appears to be a presentation given by Barbara Lynne, director of the Abha Light Foundation, it is “a preparation of 30c remedies”, so it most likely contains lactose and sucrose.

  • aggressivePerfector says:

    To those who still claim that homeopathy does no harm I feel compelled to draw particular attention to the part where they advise people experiencing symptoms of malaria to drink some coffee or sniff some tiger balm, them sit it out.

    How do these disgusting people live with themselves?

    Cheers David, your dedication to rationality gives the rest of us hope,
    Tom Campbell Ricketts

  • warhelmet says:

    I believe that Abha Light Foundation may also using Jan Scholten’s AIDS remedy. http://gimpyblog.wordpress.com/2009/08/20/jan-scholten-esteemed-homeopath-is-carrying-out-homeopathic-aids-trials/

    The trial of Iquilai would appear to have been illegal but getting the Kenyan authorities to confirm this has proved impossible.

  • zeno says:

    That’s a very good point Blue Wode and well put by Skeptico: how does Fisher know that homeopathy doesn’t work for malaria? Perhaps he’s done some trials at the RLHH and is about to publish the results in the Lancet?

  • EoR says:

    Registered drugs with the Kenyan Pharmacy and Poisons Board: http://www.pharmacyboardkenya.org/index.php?id=13&an=M&dpgndg1=3. No MalariX. Also no evidence of MalariX, MalariaX or Abha when searching the site.

    This page states “Donations of antimalarials not complying with the above are also not permitted. Our inspectors have been asked to confiscate all antimalarial medicines not complying with the above with immediate effect.”

    Strange. Who would have thought that a homeopath might possibly lie?

  • jdc says:

    That reminds me – I never did get a response from NASH regarding my complaint about Kate Birch. Link.

  • ghrasko says:

    I guess this is not the same:

    This seems to be a valid remedy.

  • Sili says:

    Put 1 pill [in] ½ litre […] or 2 pills into 1 litre.

    Surely that’s a typo!

    It must be half a pill in 1 litre (1/4 in 2 litres and so forth).

  • WildDonkey says:

    “Keep out of reach of children”.

    Keep water out of reach of children – hilarious.

  • @EoR
    Thanks for checking. If they are not telling the truth about the Kenyan Pharmacy and Poisons Board that sounds well worth following up

  • Dangerous Conventional says:

    I can see why the Chinese have spent serious money on Artemisia annua.Then again, they would because they have the money to spend and the desire to take herbal medicine forward.

  • M Simpson says:

    Here’s a frustrating but telling conversation I had with a doctor at Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital in 2007 about exactly the point described above re. Peter Fisher. Scroll down to my first comment then watch as he completely fails to answer my question about why he thinks homeopathy can cure flu but is sure it can’t cure malaria, eventually saying that he doesn’t know that it can’t cure malaria. But he sees no contradiction in that!


    That’s the thing about homeopaths and their supporters. Once you have subscribed to that dogmatic, zombified mindset you can happily believe that black = white.

  • Margaret says:

    What a profound statement she made!
    I hold my head in my hands and try to figure out why we seem to think we are an intelligent species while this nonsense continues.
    It’s time they were all closed down, and where harm is shown, a lengthy prison sentence is served.
    I don’t see these people as deluded any more, I see them as arrogant, lazy and selfish money grabbers.

  • robbo says:

    Dear David

    This has made me v. angry. I have e-mail Pay Pal with the below to get them to stop them allowing transactions from the site.
    “The use and selling of homeopathic pills for any disease, in particular a lethal disease that affects children such as Malaria is morally and scientifically wrong. It should be illegal. These pills contain no active ingredients and banging them on the hand will not, however hard you try, make them active. I do not think that PayPal should be party to a scam were the poor are relived of what little money they have, for no treatment whatsoever.”
    I’ll let you know if it works.
    Perhaps if enough people complaint they might get embarrassed.
    Go here: https://www.paypal.com/uk/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_contact-general

  • jamesd says:

    I didn’t realise that this lot are supported by a UK based charity:


  • Chris says:

    I’m fascinated by the warning starting “DON’T use that water bottle [containing homeopathic malaria treatment] for any other purpose”. It seems that the “homeopathic aggravation” described is susceptible to a double blind trial with identical bottles containing either appropriately banged malaria treatment or spring water without solvent or banging.

    How do you prevent the side effects resulting from the other materials dissolved in the spring water? Why not use distilled?

  • Lindy says:

    Scandalous stuff from Abha Light.

    Have just reported it to the World Health Organisation.

  • […] who had joined Abha Light in Kenya – an organisation that sells a homeopathic product called MalariX. This sugar pill is used to treat and prevent malaria. It does not work – it is a simple […]

  • […] Improbable Science, More homeopathic killing (March 16, […]

  • […] medical training and who continue to andanger the public by recommending sugar pills for anything from malaria to Dengue fever. People like that have no place in the NHS. Indeed some are in […]

  • […] Largely as a result of her letters, she appeared again in June 2009, in Homeopathy Awareness Week. Like tobacco companies, discredited at home, homeopaths exploit poor countries. And again in March 2010, More homeopathic killing  […]

  • […] Society of Homeopaths is just a joke. When homeopaths were caught out recommending sugar pills for prevention of malaria, they did nothing (arguably such homicidal advice deserves a jail […]

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