Unsurprisingly, the child contracted septicemia due to numerous infections and, tragically, died.
I was, as you can imagine, absolutely incandescent with rage about this story and I'll explain why.
Whenever discussions arise, usually at work, about alternative therapy (or complementary medicine as they now like to call it) I always take the view that there is no evidence that the majority of alternative therapies work, so I'm disinclined to believe in them.
Invariably, I'm then placed on the spot as various colleagues throw anecdotes and half-remembered tales at me masquerading as evidence, then sit back, fold their arms and say, "explain that then." Once I offer an explanation, speak about the placebo effect, and point out that, on the basis of testable evidence, these therapies simply don't stand up to the claims made about them, some of my colleagues then become rather defensive and utter the immortal line, "well, if it doesn't hurt anyone, what's the harm?"
Well, if you have a moment, please do read the article above and I think it will illustrate perfectly what the harm is. If you don't have time, then allow me to present a quote from it.
The child's parents knew she "was suffering eczema on her face, arms, legs and torso at four months - but they failed to follow the advice of doctors who referred her to a dermatologist.
The court heard that by the time Gloria was six months old, the eczema had begun weeping and her clothing and nappies would stick to her skin and tear it whenever her parents changed her.
Crown prosecutor Mark Tedeschi QC said the baby girl's skin began to peel off, allowing infections to enter her bloodstream."
That is why sham treatments such as homeopathy are harmful, because they can encourage people to bypass conventional medicine. I urge you to visit this site, www.whatstheharm.net to read about other, similar cases.
Now, many people have written at length about homeopathic solutions, how they're prepared and what the ingredients are, so I won't go into detail. Instead, I'll point you in the direction of this article from the website www.ukskeptics.org.uk which sets out the fundamental concept.
The wonderfully nonsensical part about homeopathy is that once the solution has been prepared to the common 30C dilution, there is not a single atom of the original active ingredient left in the water. Ah, say the homeopaths, that doesn't matter because water has a memory. Well you know what? Recent evidence shows that they're actually right, water does have a memory. Sadly, however, that memory is fifty millionths of a nanosecond, so doesn't back up their bizarre claims one iota.
Interestingly, after I'd tweeted about the original article, I received a tweet in return from a sadly misguided woman who said, "@Rablenkov could direct your anger to some horrific figures re seroxat being unleshed on the public... and more re allopathic negligence. Empiricism in medicine is wrong ."
I responded with, "Yes, I could, but I'd rather rail against the utter disgrace that is homeopathy. Give me evidence over superstition any day", wondering whether she would attempt to engage me in a conversation. So far, she has remained silent.
She did, however, send the following tweets to other people over the course of the evening:
"homeopathy = disintergration of empiricism in pharmacology. You only need research the appendix to auswich and follow the heads and rebranding of BASF to get a taste of how big the drugs industry is. Good luck in old age if you ever end up on combo prescriptions. I know of no medical research testing cocktails of drugs.... Yet much of public mix RX's"
"Seeing a lot of antagonist comments re homeopathy. Do they quantify and rant as passionately about morbidity rates due to allopathy?"
"Homeopathy when applied is a science and art with exceptional results."
To be honest, when someone mentions homeopathy and Nazis in the same breath, and then dips their toe in the ocean of Big Pharma conspiracy theories, I think they're probably someone that I would have little chance of entering into a meaningful dialogue with.
I hope for the sake of her and her loved ones that, should she become seriously ill, she abandons complementary medicine and goes to see her doctor. If not, she may well end up as another cautionary tale floating around on the Internet.
I received a couple of nice comments on my Most Haunted rant yesterday, including one from someone I used to go to school with who now owns a beauty salon and teaching school. Therapies available include Reflexology, Reiki and Hopi Ear Candling. I shall bite my tongue and remain uncharacteristically silent. :o)
One of the comments directed me to this wonderful clip of Most Haunted with the now exposed Derek Acorah in full flow. It's absolutely hilarious and I thank whoever brought it to my attention.