Homeopath on public forum: treating babies with acute illnesses

By Grant Jacobs 01/05/2010 31


A homeopath claims to have prescribed homeopathic ’remedies’ to babies with ’acute illnesses’ on the TradeMe ’Health and Beauty’ discussion board.

Let’s start back at the beginning.

Unfamiliar with the patient or the disease, our writer–a homeopath–recommends homeopathy:

ITP – idiopathic thrombocyteopenia purpura

Hi just wondering if anyone else suffers from this and if so what treatment has worked and other stories would be much appreciated. I have suffered from this for the past 8 months and don’t seem to be improving.

Edited by mac274 at 6:53 pm, Sun 18 Apr

mac274 (14 )  6:52 pm, Sun 18 Apr #1


All I know is some vaccines have been known to cause it. Like the MeNZB shot….definitely caused some cases of it.

Doctors call it “idiopathic” which means they don’t know the cause, but if you’d been vaccinated recently that could be a cause.

I did know a young woman who got it from her cancer drugs. It is a pretty serious condition, kind of like chronic anemia…. not good.

If I was in your shoes I would start looking at homeopathy, because conventional medicine has little to offer. That woman I knew found certain vitamins and minerals very helpful.

But homeopathy can be very powerful with this kind of thing sometimes. No guarantees, but could be worth a shot.

parahergest (17 )  9:24 pm, Sun 18 Apr #2

(Asking for medical advice via the internet is always dodgy, but at least some of those replying to the original question are offering what appears to be sensible advice in particular suggesting that the person refer to a specialist.)

Our homeopath soldiers on, claiming that they personally have elected to treat babies with ’acute illnesses’ using homeopathic ’remedies’:

Yeah, for a lot of people homeopathy is too far out. I guess because I am really into the idea that things contain energy on a atomic level, and that I believe conventional science has yet to discover all the laws that govern the physical universe I can be open to things like homeopathy with it’s “like cures like” postulate.

Anyway, I have cured babies of acute illnesses with homeopathy, and seen it drop a fever by half a degree within minutes, so I can’t believe it is just placebo.

It’s irresponsible to encourage people to turn to homeopathy for serious illnesses, never mind infants. (Or for any illness at any age, really.)

A few quick thoughts, skipping over some points to keep this short’n’sweet:

Our homeopath doesn’t appear to need any diagnostic information or real knowledge of the disease to make a recommendation! (They say they basically know nothing about it themself.) That ought to ring alarm bells. Loud ones.

They dismiss conventional medicine out-of-hand as having little (read: nothing) to offer, even though conventional medicine does have treatments to offer, as others writing there point out.

To excuse the lack of evidence for homeopathy they try dismiss all science, the whole lot!

It’s not ’about’ a lack of understanding of homeopathy by science, it’s about that these ’remedies’ contain none of the active ingredients they list. They’ve all been diluted out.

In any event, if homeopaths really wanted to push their case, it’s for them to show that homeopathy is effective for a condition under controlled studies, not ask that others ’understand’ something, never minding that the something concerned is mythical and so could never be ’understood’.

As for making loud claims that they can treat ’babies of acute illnesses’ using something that cannot work better than placebo (never mind on the basis of anecdote), that’s very disturbing.

It’s what prompted me to write this.

Think about it.

In order to make the claim this homeopath has made, at some time s/he must have tried to ’treat’ babies with–in their words–’acute illnesses’ using homeopathic ’remedies’, which are water solutions or sugar pills.

I don’t know about my readers, but this is appalling.

Footnote

I am reminded of a call to have alternative ’medical’ practitioners registered in response to a shocking story of an iridologist and treatment of a skin cancer the invaded a patient’s skull, so that it might limit what they do (and claim).


A few of the homeopathy articles on Code for life:

Undiluted humour: If Homeopathy Beats Science

Pharmacists to say that homeopathy does not work?

Alliances of pharmacists & GPs; opportunities to pressure for removal of useless “remedies”?

Time for disclaimers on remedies?, ’alternative’ or not

Homeopathic remedies in NZ pharmacies

Homeopathy check-up: Not in the health system, disclaimers on labels


31 Responses to “Homeopath on public forum: treating babies with acute illnesses”

  • The messages you describe don’t sound like they were written by a homeopath. The way homeopathy is described it sounds more like they come from users/supporters of homeopathic remedies rather than someone trained in homeopathy. How did the person identify themself as a homeopath?

  • I think it’s likely that they were lying when they wrote :
    “Anyway, I have cured babies of acute illnesses with homeopathy, and seen it drop a fever by half a degree within minutes, so I can’t believe it is just placebo.”

    The purpose of the sentence seems to me to be to provide evidence that homeopathy works. By describing the patient as an infant, it implies that the placebo effect cannot be responsible as the infant would not have any expectations of it working. Hence, I believe that the sentence is entirely fabricated so as to serve this purpose.

  • DrMike: The bit quoted by Brent.

    Brent: You may be right about this particular person, although why they would want to make themselves out to be a homeopath when they are not I wouldn’t know; the choice of phrase isn’t what I’d expect to see from a user or “fan”. In any event, even if viewed as a lie this would still be promoting this practice as valid, so the “home point” of my post would still stand, i.e. the notion of treating, or encouraging people to treat, babies (or anyone really) with—in their words—“acute illnesses” (or any illness really) using homeopathic “remedies” is appalling. (Note: I’ve added a sub-clause + asides.)

  • Your person above certainly isn’t a homeopath. I understand he believes himself to be a ‘researcher’ if you count as such when your work appears in those awful, florid conspiracy theory magazines. He turns up on various threads, always encouraging people to eschew conventional medicine in favour of homeopathy or huge doses of various vitamins! I’m always wary of people in the thrall of Big Wooâ„¢ who claim to have cured animals or babies. It seems a tad too convenient that neither of those groups can talk so there is no accurate way of measuring or assessing an outcome!

  • mythbuster,

    Thanks for that. I’ll take it that you are familiar with this person (presumably from seeing them post on the TradeMe discussion groups often enough to have some feel for who they are). I wonder why he made himself out to be a practitioner if others like you know he isn’t? Seem a bit daft, as people like you would just point out he’s lying. That is, he’d be setting himself up to be shot down and discredited. (Maybe he hasn’t quite thought that through…)

    It reminds me of others I have known that claimed to be “researchers” that certainly weren’t. I’ve never seen any of them claim to be practitioners when they weren’t though. I must be missing a slice of the action! :-)

    (I have seen some of these people claim to have a higher standard of education, etc., than they really have by misleading wording though. I’ve also seen them fail to declare straight-foward conflicts of interest. It seems almost par for the course for them to claim researchers, doctors, etc. to have conflicts of interest, even when they don’t, but fail to declare their own, or note conflicts of interests with the people they cite.)

    Huge doses of vitamins is a tad dodgy too 😉

    I like the “Big Woo™” bit. I might borrow that :-)

  • Be my guest with the â„¢ Grant!

    My theory is that Big Wooâ„¢ is cult-like. That is: if you believe in one branch you believe in them all. This is something the great, wise Orac describes as ‘crank magnetism’. The different aspects or branches eg. homeopathy and anti-vaccination beliefs, neccessarily become articles of faith in the absence of scientific evidence and those who promote them appear to have a complete lack of self consciousness. It’s quite possible they’re so well indoctrinated they don’t even realise how bizarre their theories sound!

  • I’ve read Orac’s stuff for a few years (under both his alias and his real name). He’s good, eh? His posts can be on the long side, though… Oracian :-)

    Some add metaphysical nonsense into the mix, Chi-style “healing forces” and the like, which makes it even more ideological.

  • Nothing makes me happier in the mornings than a long and involved Oracian dose of insolence to digest! And the ‘Change Detection’ email alert for Ratbags is a welcome sight in this household too. I just wish Peter B would/could update more often than fortnightly!

  • I’m not familiar with ‘Ratbags’. Google suggests you’re referring to: http://www.ratbags.com/

    Right? I seem to remember PZ saying that Peter B was a member of an old forum he’s been part of for many years. (Showed a photo the group from PZ’s trip to Australia.)

    I mean to write about science more but it takes more effort and nonsense like this distract me. Right now I also have taxes distracting me and unfortunately you can’t ignore the IRD…!

  • Google is absolutely right. Peter Bowditch is Ratbags aka ‘The Naked Skeptic’! He’s a lot more flippant than Orac and can be very, very funny!

  • Grant, I completely agree that your “homepoint” remains valid and I think mythbusters info is quite revealing. I suspect even homeopaths would want to distance themselves from this “researcher”/self proclaimed “homeopath” given his/her bold and amateurish claims.

  • DrMike,

    I hope you don’t mind me asking, but why the “given his/her bold and amateurish claims”?

    I’m trying to read precisely what it is that you trying to say and struggling. To my reading you come across as trying to have it both ways. You read (to me) as saying that homeopaths are better than this and not amateurish, i.e. that they are “OK” in a sense.

    My own reading of (many) homeopath’s claims suggests to me that they aren’t really any better and are quite amateurish and make equally bold claims. In fact, their amateurishness and bold claims almost define them.

    I realise some will have learnt (possibly the hard way) that making too extreme claims in public will backfire, but when you read the claims they do make in public it takes little imagination to think that it wouldn’t take a lot to have them offer this sort of thing out of the public eye.

    Take for example the “Kiwi Families” website. You might expect this to be on the very moderate end of the scale, but we still get the likes of:


    How can homeopathy help my child?

    Homeopathy can be a gentle, easy and effective way to help children with their illnesses or health issues. It has been used to treat a wide range of conditions such as hayfever, colds and flus, whooping cough and insomnia. Homeopathy can also be beneficial for children with behavioral or developmental problems and adolescents with study and exam stresses.

    Positive results from homeopathy can mean drugs or medicines may not need to be used. Homeopaths may also suggest lifestyle or dietary changes if necessary.

    Source: http://www.kiwifamilies.co.nz/Topics/Health/Natural+Health/Homeopathy.html

    These claims are bold, nonsense and quite amateur, esp. when looked at it from a medical point of view. (Placebo effects excepted for obvious reasons).

    Bear in mind, too, that some (possibly most?) of these homeopaths will encourage homeopathy in lieu of vaccination, e.g. for whooping cough.

    This page links to the NZ Council of Homeopaths website which features a page reporting “success” in “treating” the 1918 flu!

    This is the first hit I got; haven’t time to look further. I’m sure I could go on…

    (Excuse not using blockquotes, but I I haven’t been able to get these to work in these comments.)

  • Dr Malik – you have to be joking. Where is your evidence that homeopathy actually works better than placebo? Please, no anecdotes – this is a science forum & we are looking for solid scientific evidence in support of the claims under discussion here.

  • I’m intrigued by Dr Nancy’s ‘credentials’.

    She is Bachelor of Homoeopathic Medicine and Surgery (BHMS) (a regular full-time 5.5 years of medical degree course) from prestigious ‘Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital’, Chandigarh.

    How in heaven’s name do they spin out a course on prescribing magic water to 5.5 years? It must be a bit like homeopathy itself!

  • Perhaps if Dr Nancy returns she’d like to comment on the case of the late baby, Gloria Sam. I notice she’s ignored this question on other forums.

  • Ms. Malik won’t be back, She does a very credible impression of a spambot. only ever one comment, always (almost) the same.

  • Just a heads up for local readers: the BHMS degree is not the degree held by registered medical practitioners and I believe I’d be correct to say that a BHMS does not entitle a person to call themselves ‘Dr.’ in New Zealand (and probably in other countries for that matter).

  • Didn’t Orac have a youtube piece of her explaining how homeopathy works? When I get time I must go & find the link; I remember that it was hilarious but somehow made my brain hurt at the same time.

  • Alison,

    I think I know the one you mean. I’ll try to get around to hosting it over the weekend. (I’m pretty sure it’s the one I was looking at a couple of days ago, so it’ll still be in my browser history.)

  • Darcy,

    I just emailed Alison saying that was the video I was thinking of and it wasn’t Nancy a few minutes before you commented… funny timing. (I also put the “Dr” in inverted commas, too.)

    Of course, there are comedies featuring homeopathic ER… (One is in the first link after the article; I know of at least one other.)

  • Grant,
    Sorry haven’t replied to your question sooner, my workload has been a nightmare the last two days.
    First, although I don’t accept that homeopathy works, I have found most people with a homeopathic qualification tend to discuss what they do in a certain way. The phrasing of the original quotes you used from someone claiming to be a homeopath, seemed too simplistic and made me think that they couldn’t have possibly come from a “qualified” homeopath. As mythbuster has since revealed, the person does not indeed appear to be a qualified homeopath.
    While I also agree with you that some homeopaths do make outrageous claims, the person you quoted seemed to have gone to “a whole different level of stupid”
    I guess my underlying point is that if you are going to take homeopaths to task for something one of them has said, it is a good idea to make sure the remarks you are commenting on actually come from a homeopath. The real homeopaths make enough blunders that we can challenge them on, as you have rightly pointed out.

  • DrMike,

    Yes, but I’ve already moved past this thing of “they lied”; I was asking you about your position with respect to homeopathy, not what I’ve written in the OP.

    That the person lied about themselves isn’t helpful to me to say the least (it’s pretty annoying), but I’m not responsible for it either, i.e. it’s not me doing the misrepresenting: this person misrepresenting themselves.

    FWIW, my understanding is that you don’t have to have “a homeopathic qualification” to call yourself a homeopath, although most probably do have some sort of “training”. Despite the NZ Council of Homeopaths, etc., there is apparently nothing in law stopping anyone deciding to call themselves a homeopath and sticking a sign out saying so. (You couldn’t claim to have a qualification you don’t, of course.) This matters because this is the context I was using, e.g. someone who calls themselves a homeopath regardless of whatever “qualifications” they might have.

  • My previous comment was an attempt to answer your query about
    “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but why the “given his/her bold and amateurish claims”? ”

    However with regards to homeopathy, they’ve had 200 years to prove experimentally that it works and have failed. They have also had 200 years to come up with a valid mechanism for how it could work and again failed, so as far as I’m concerned it is pseudoscience.

    Interesting your comments about anyone be able to call themselves a homeopath. I believe it is similar with nutritionists, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist while the term dietitian is protected by law (at least in the UK).
    A hilarious commentary on nutritionist, homeopaths and other woo can be found at

  • DrMike,

    You’ve read my question out of the context I was trying to ask it in, but never mind. I thought the rest of what I wrote made that clear, but I’m guessing you’ve read them as two unrelated parts! Oh, well…

    Seen that video before :-)

  • Grant,

    you’ve identified one of the challenges of communicating via these sorts of fora. It’s quite easy to misunderstand exactly what the other person means, as I appear to have. At least by continuing to exchange ideas I think we have reached the point where we both agree that there is no reliable evidence that homeopathy works.

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