MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

There are things that cannot be said too often. In medicine, these are often related to issues that can save lives. In alternative medicine, it is worth remembering that there is nothing that can save more lives than the following rule: EVEN AN APPARENTLY HARMLESS REMEDY WILL BECOME LIFE-THREATENING, IF IT IS USED AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO AN EFFECTIVE THERAPY FOR A SERIOUS CONDITION.

Here is a publication that serves as a very sad reminder of this important axiom.

Japanese physicians recently published a case-report of 2-year-old girl who died of precursor B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), the most common cancer in children. She had no remarkable medical history. She was transferred to a hospital because of respiratory distress and died 4 hours after arrival.

Two weeks before her death, she had developed a fever of 39°C, which subsided after the administration of a naturopathic herbal remedy. Subsequently, she developed jaundice one week before death, and her condition worsened on the day of death.

Laboratory test results on admission showed a markedly elevated white blood cell count. Accordingly, the cause of death was suspected to be acute leukaemia. Forensic autopsy revealed the cause of death to be precursor B-cell ALL.

With advancements in medical technology, the 5-year survival rate of children with ALL is nearly 90%. However, in this case, the deceased’s parents preferred alternative medicine to evidence-based medicine and had not taken her to a hospital for a medical check-up or immunisation since she was an infant. The authors state that, if she had received routine medical care, she would have a more than 60% chance of being alive 5 years after diagnosis. Therefore, we conclude that the parents should be accused of medical neglect regardless of their motives.

Alternative practitioners who treat their patients in this way, are in my experience often full of good intentions. They remind me of something Bert Brecht one wrote: THE OPPOSITE OF GOOD IS NOT EVIL, IT IS GOOD INTENTIONS.

4 Responses to The opposite of good…

  • Well, we can talk about outliers till the cows come home, and I am sure that for every mal practice in alternative therapies we can find one mal practice in orthodox medicine. In a practice local to me, a girl was given an antibiotic shot in spite of informing the doctors there that was allergic to it and promptly went into shock and died. There is nothing in literature that suggests cases like the one you describe form a trend in the population. You are making the classic mistake of using one incident to make a general case. The reality is that doctors have a long way to go to understand why people go elsewhere for treatments. They are are often arrogant, they are often paid mouthpieces of drug companies, they often have other agendas and the general public are not wrong to suspect these attitudes in medicine. Humans are complex and sometimes prescribing a treatment whether or not it will do good is an insufficient response to the complex condition of the patient, and it is certainly time the medical profession took this to heart, or at least grappled with the kind of extreme prejudice that is, for example, shown in this blog.

    • Leaving aside the logical error you imply, that bad in one place justifies bad in another (where, in fact, there is no “good” to counterbalance), are you seriously suggesting that real or perceived “arrogance” on the part of a doctor is enough reason for a parent to remove a child from medical care?

  • “Pingback: Das Gegenteil von gut | Quantenhomöopathie”

    I checked this website and I cannot find the name of the person who writes it, however, here are some of the gems:
    About Cancer
    “My observations in cancer patients ask almost achieving a healing response as a crisis in the form of cough, cold and other crisis responses. Even when treated with homeopathy, the crisis can not be avoided when such serious diseases should be treated.”

    About measles
    “One remark I have to pick up from the program. If antipyretic activities are carried out by doctors at a measles, statistics show that mortality rises in the otherwise harmless disease (my emphasis).”

    About homeopathic Research
    “Objective of homeopathy research
    The aim of homeopathy research should be to demonstrate the physics of impact forces in homeopathy.
    After the view taken here quantum forces play in homeopathic remedies effect a decisive role, as they are active within the cell for controlling the chemical processes of life.
    clear indication of the existence of these quantum forces is the Gurwitschexperiment”

    I was going to comment but the points are self-evident.

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