MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Slowly, I seem to be turning into a masochist! Yes, I sometimes read publications like ‘HOMEOPATHY 360’. It carries articles that are enragingly ill-informed. But in my defence, I might say that some are truly funny. Here is the abstract of one that I found outstanding in that category:

The article explains about Gangrene and its associated amputations which is a clinically challenging condition, but Homeopathy offers therapy options. The case presented herein, details about how the Homeopathic treatment helped in the prevention of amputation of a body part. Homeopathy stimulates the body’s ability to heal through its immune mechanisms; consequently, it achieves wound healing and establishes circulation to the gangrenous part. Instead of focusing on the local phenomena of gangrene pathology, treatment focuses on the general indications of the immune system, stressing the important role of the immune system as a whole. The aim was to show, through case reports, that Homeopathic therapy can treat gangrene thus preventing amputation of the gangrenous part, and hence has a strong substitution for consideration in treating gangrene.

The paper itself offers no less than 13 different homeopathic treatments for gangrene:

  1. Arsenicum album– Medicine for senile gangrene;gangrene accompanied by foetid diarrhoea; ulcers extremely painful with elevated edges, better by warmth and aggravation from cold; great weakness and emaciation.
  2. Bromium – Hospital gangrene; cancerous ulcers on face; stony hard swelling of glands of lower jaw and throat.
  3. Carbo vegetabilis – Senile and humid gangrene in the persons who are cachectic in appearance; great exhaustion of vital powers; marked prostration; foul smell of secretions; indolent ulcers, burning pain; tendency to gangrene of the margins; varicose ulcers.
  4. Bothrops– Gangrene; swollen, livid, cold with hemorrhagic infiltration; malignant erysipelas.
  5. Echinacea– Enlarged lymphatics; old tibial ulcers; gangrene; recurrent boils; carbuncles.
  6. Lachesis– Gangrenous ulcers; gangrene after injury; bluish or black looking blisters; vesicles appearing here and there, violent itching and burning; swelling and inflammation of the parts; itching pain and painful spots appearing after rubbing.
  7. Crotalus Horridus– Gangrene, skin separated from muscles by a foetid fluid; traumatic gangrene; old scars open again.
  8. Secale cornatum– Pustules on the arms and legs, with tendency to gangrene; in cachectic, scrawny females with rough skin; skin shriveled, numb; mottled dusky-blue tinge; blue color of skin; dry gangrene, developing slowly; varicose ulcers; boils, small, painful with green contents; skin feels too cold to touch yet covering is not tolerated. Great aversion to heat;formication under skin.
  9. Anthracinum– Gangrene; cellular tissues swollen and oedematous; gangrenous parotitis; septicemia; ulceration, and sloughing and intolerable burning.
  10. Cantharis – Tendency to gangrene; vesicular eruptions; burns, scalds, with burning and itching; erysipelas, vesicular type, with marked restlessness.
  11. Mercurius– Gangrene of the lips, cheeks and gums; inflammation and swelling of the glands of neck; pains aggravated by hot or cold applications.
  12. Sulphuric acid– Traumatic gangrene; haemorrhages from wounds; dark pustules; blue spots like suggillations; bedsores.
  13. Phosphoric acid– Medicine for senile gangrene. Gunpowder, calendula are also best medicines.

But the best of all must be the article’s conclusion: “Homeopathy is the best medicine for gangrene.

I know, there are many people who will not be able to find this funny, particularly patients who suffer from gangrene and are offered homeopathy as a cure. This could easily kill the person – not just kill, but kill very painfully. Gangrene is the death of tissue in part of the body, says the naïve little caption. What it does not say is that it is in all likelihood also the death of the patient who is treated purely with homeopathy.

And what about the notion that homeopathy stimulates the body’s ability to heal through its immune mechanisms?

Or the assumption that it might establish circulation to the gangrenous part?

Or the claim that through case reports one can show the effectiveness of an intervention?

Or the notion that any of the 13 homeopathic remedies have a place in the treatment of gangrene?

ALL OF THIS IS TOTALLY BONKERS!

Not only that, it is highly dangerous!

Since many years, I am trying my best to warn people of charlatans who promise bogus cures. Sadly it does not seem to stop the charlatans. This makes me feel rather helpless at times. And it is in those moments that I decide to look at from a different angle. That’s when I try to see the funny side of quacks who defy everything we know about healthcare and just keep on lying to themselves and their victims.

7 Responses to Homeopathy is the death of the patient suffering from gangrene.

  • I remember reading a case report of a patient with a gangrenous toe supposedly treated successfully with homeopathy. The toe was due for amputation but homeopathy was used instead. After a couple of weeks the toe fell off and the stump eventually healed. An amputation had been avoided! What a success!

  • “Phosphoric acid– Medicine for senile gangrene. Gunpowder, calendula are also best medicines.”

    Gunpowder to blow your limb off and marigolds for the gravesite, perhaps? I just want to know who was the first to try this.

  • There is a difference between true gangrene (caused by clostridial organisms and which is almost inevitably fatal as a result of bacterial toxins overwhelming the body’s various systems) and ischaemic necrosis where following trauma, disease, frostbite etc… an extremity or other portion of tissue loses its blood supply and dies. Although the two look very similar to the untrained eye, straightforward ischaemic necrosis is by no means the death sentence that true gangrene is.

    In the veterinary world, for one reason or another, we occasionally see examples of ischaemic necrosis which have been left untreated and they have often sorted themselves out as the affected portion of tissue sloughs, and then granulates to heal by scarring or in extreme cases simply drops off. It’s not ideal but it does happen. So I would imagine if a human were similarly affected and you could persuade the patient to do nothing or use a placebo such as homeopathy then the final result would be spontaneous resolution in many cases. Not magic, not because of homeopathy but just ‘nature taking its course’.

    On the other hand of course if a practitioner mistakes true gangrene (foul smell, gas formation in the tissues, wet, bloody discharge) for simple necrosis (sometimes unfortunately called ‘dry’ gangrene) and tries to treat it with a homeopathic placebo then it’s goodnight Vienna, to quote Reggie Perrin, you’ve got a dead patient on your hands and it’s time to dig out those tired old excuses about conventional medicine having ‘antidoted the remedy’.

    Niall

    • True, Njall. Ischaemic gangrene and frostbite without secondary infection, is usually best left untouched untill the dead part is definitely delineated at least. It may even be left to literally fall off. But the main point here is that these bungling amateurs don’t know even the basics of disease and health – as exemplified by the mind-numbingly naive words: “establishes circulation to the gangrenous part.”

      …Or perhaps Dana can explain how that works? 😀

    • Appreciate all you wrote. Have a friend that because of low blood supply to her foot. Lacking in nutrients and oxygen to this extremity her foot is in severe pain. They did put an artery in this foot trying to help supply the blood and oxygen to this extremity. Her foot looked inflamed yesterday and her toe at the end looks like it’s turning black. She is under a Doctors care, but that seems lacking. Is there anything that you would suggest? Would something like Mega-Hydrate help this tissue? Or even something like Stabilized oxygen? Desperate for her.
      Any advice would be great.
      Thanks
      Barbara

      • she needs to see a vascular surgeon asap!

      • I had never heard of Megahydrate until I found it on Amazon just now. One of the customer reviews listed the following ingredients on the label:

        Silica Hydride Powder Proprietary Blend: Potassium Citrate, Silica, Potassium Carbonate, Oliec Acid, Hydrogen Negative Ions.

        I have no idea what hydrogen negative ions are – hydrogen ions are positive, though perhaps a chemist could tell us if there is a way to persuade a hydrogen atom to accept a second electron; perhaps they mean hydroxide ions. Both hydrogen and hydroxide ions are found in water. The other ingredients are pretty inert. The manufacturer makes some pretty implausible claims about its ability to reverse cellular dehydration and that it contains the strongest antioxidant that exists, along with monoatomic minerals, which are also nonsense.

        When I first became a consultant oncologist treating prostate cancer I had a patient who was taking what he called liquid oxygen drops and swore by them. I believe that stabilized oxygen is another name for the same thing, and as far as I can tell it is a dilute solution of hydrogen peroxide packaged up and sold in small bottles for an outrageous price. The thing that surprised me most was that the patient was a retired research chemist who really ought to have known better.

        Since then I have realised that the more intelligent and educated somebody is, the better they are at fooling themselves, because they can readily come up with plausible-sounding (to them) explanations (which psychologists call rationalisations) as to why they are right.

        Coming back to your original question, of course no practitioner should give medical advice concerning somebody that they have not personally assessed, though I will stick my neck out and say that Megahydrate and Stabilized Oxygen are likely to be worse than useless and an expensive waste of money, and if trying them means a delay in getting proper treatment then this could be quite dangerous to somebody who is already very sick.

        Strictly speaking the severe pain may be due to the accumulation of toxic products of metabolism such as lactic acid rather than due to a lack of oxygen and nutrients per se. It is a moot point because all of these problems reflect the lack of an adequate blood supply.

        Edzard’s advice is the only correct one, that she needs to see a vascular surgeon urgently.

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