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

Homeopathy is harmless; after all, the typical homeopathic remedy contains no active ingredient! Such claims can be seen abundantly. Sadly, however, they are not true. The remedies might be mostly (but, depending on potency and proper quality control, not totally) risk-free, yet homeopathy can and does kill patients. There is a depressingly long list of fatalities to prove this point. And here is another sad case that confirms it; this short article provides the essential facts:

The parents of a seven-year-old boy who died after they decided to treat his otitis only with homeopathy were convicted of manslaughter Thursday.

Francesco, from Cagli near Pesaro, died on May 27 2017 from bilateral bacterial otitis.

His parents were found guilty of complicity in aggravated culpable manslaughter.

They were given a suspended sentence of three months in jail.

The parents entrusted their son’s care to Pesaro homeopathic doctor Massimiliano Mecozzi, who is set to go on trial on September 24.

The homeopath advised treatment with homeopathic products instead of the antibiotics which would have saved him, the court found.

Francesco died after the otitis degenerated into encephalitis.

Another article offers a few more details about the case:

Francesco suffered from otitis media. The doctor Massimiliano Mecozzi (55) treated the child exclusively with homeopathic remedies. When the parents brought Francesco to the hospital a few days later, it was already too late: The boy died soon afterwards. According to “Corriere della Sera”, the parents decided to not give their child antibiotics since he was only three years old. Francesco’s illness had begun with a severe cold and fever, and his frequented the homeopathic doctor Mecozzi who discouraged the parents from bringing their child to a hospital. “He scared them by claiming that the doctors would give medicaments to Francesco that would make him deaf or would damage his liver. He promised them that Francesco will recover soon”, said grandfather Maurizio to “Il Mattino”.

But Francesco’s condition worsened over the course of the following days, and the infection spread to the head. When the parents brought their son to the emergency admission, a festering abscess had already formed. Francesco was brought to a hospital in Ancona for an emergency operation. An antibiotic shock therapy didn’t help at this point either, and the child died.

According the “Corriere”, the physician had a questionable career: After having been temporarily expelled from the physician’s association, he even worked as a doorman and as an allrounder in a supermarket. Then he came into contact with a religious community in Varese, whose founders have been accused of fraud. When the physician’s association in Pesaro inquired to his occupation as a homeopath, Mecozzi replied: “I have no interest in telling you about it.”

And a further article adds even more details: the 7 year-old boy was hospitalized in an intensive care unit at the Hospital Salesi of Ancona. The child, born in Cagli (Pesaro), had been treated with homeopathy instead of antibiotics and had arrived in hospital in a serious condition. The child subsequently went into a neurological coma; an EEG revealed the absence of electrical activity, and brain death was certified. The death occurred as the result of an ear infection treated with homeopathy.

Such cases are tragic but (hopefully!) rare. They are due to the neglect (failure to provide adequate medical care) by a homeopath. Obviously, such neglect does not always have to be fatal. I would guess that milder forms of medical neglect through homeopathy are, in fact, extremely common (nobody knows the exact figure). One could even argue that, by definition, homeopathic treatment amounts to medical neglect which falls into three overlapping categories:

  • In the majority of cases, it has no or very little symptomatic consequences. For instance, if a homeopath prescribes a homeopathic remedy for a self-limiting condition, such as a common cold, and the patient soon improves due to the benign nature of the condition (often thinking that homeopathy was effective). There is, however, invisible harm such as the expense of the remedies and the false trust into a bogus therapy created by this experience (which might prove to be extremely harmful later on).
  • In many instances, the neglect does cause unnecessary suffering of patients because the optimally effective treatment of their disease is not administered or delayed. Many doctor homeopaths would argue that this is not usually true because, for such patients, they also prescribe conventional treatments in parallel. But even if this were true, these clinicians would still cause harm through the waste of resources.
  • In a sizable but unknown number of cases, homeopathy does cause very serious harm and, as the above case shows, even deaths.

The point I am trying to make is this: we usually only hear of the dramatic cases of neglect through homeopathy (or other forms of ineffective SCAM). What we tend to forget is that such cases are only the extreme end of a much wider spectrum, and that all clinicians who prescribe homeopathy are guilty of neglect. The symptomatic harm done ranges from almost zero to 100%, and the damage caused is merely a question of degree.

 

 

 

 

PS

Before some homeopathy-fan comments, “but the harm from conventional therapies is sooooooooo much more significant!!!”, let me stop you in your tracks by recommending you consider the concept of risk/benefit balance.

29 Responses to Another child has died because of homeopathy

    • Three-month suspended sentence for killing a child and those assholes are appealing it? Disgraceful.

      Children are not their parents’ property. They are living individuals with rights of their own.

      Assuming an appeals court takes it, I hope they do the right thing and increase it to proper prison time.

      [See also.]

      • It’s the law now, no more freedom of choice. We must all now bow to the god of allopathic medicine, like it or not, even if we don’t accept it.
        As a society, we are not advancing, we are decaying…. losing our freedoms along the way

        • I’m sorry, you wish for the freedom to harm or kill your child?

        • WHAT.

          You think that killing a child just to serve your narcissistic self-delusion is a legally and morally justifiable act?

          You are rotten in the brain, you demented f…[sorry, I had to disallow this swear word (edzard ernst)]

          • Su casa, mate. S’fine. Alas, there just aren’t any words for people who’d happily kill kids for their own personal religion which aren’t explicitly four-lettered.

          • It used to be that children survived until adulthood because of their parents. Now it seems they survive in spite of their parents, well……the ones that DO survive anyways.

            You know, I understand when anti-vax parents spout off the slim chance of death from a VPD as reason to not be concerned enough to get their kids vaccinated. I don’t agree, but I can see why they view this as a small risk. I also appreciate that death AT LEAST is unacceptable to parents. If the risk of death is too high they will opt for the vaccine. Most AV parents will admit they would allow the rabies vaccine or IG to be administered if there was a risk of rabies exposure. So death is a stop too far for these parents.

            However, their kids experiencing unnecessary pain and suffering are completely acceptable consequences. That’s just anti-vax parents mind you. These parents here are far worse. A regular prescribed abx, the type of medicine we have had for around for almost a century, administered 2-4 times a day for about 14 days would’ve saved this child’s life. How do you watch your child suffer and die like this knowing you can make it all better so easily but refuse to do so?

        • Since alleopathic medicine was made up by homeopaths, I don’t see myself worshiping it.

          Evidence based medicine would have saved that child.

  • Erin and has

    C’mon people. You are far too simple minded if you think the arguement is about the right to kill. That is not the issue, the controversy is about how to help the sick…. nobody is trying to kill anybody. Let’s please stop the nonsensical talking points.

    There are serious controversial conversations that go on in the life about how to solve various life issues, both sides being able to offer a reasonable arguments. Politics is one simple example, different parties envision arriving at the same goal via different means. I could give you many more examples.

    So please don’t preach to me about how worthy science is to be trusted, science has proved itself wrong many times.

    My son is his 14th year of fighting what appears to be a life sentence of mental illness. Allopathic medicine has offerd many dissapointments and failures, no solution, and little hope for the future. In the end, they don’t even know what causes Schizophrenia.

    I’m not blaming anybody, just don’t tell me I have to blindly trust them more, when they have shown me nothing thus far. I for one have not choose to kill my son, please don’t accuse people of that when you don’t know their situation. I already went the allopathic route…. so are you happy now ?

    • @RG: “science has proved itself wrong many times”

      P*ss off. Science KNOWS it’s wrong. That’s why it acknowledges it’s wrong and labors endlessly to become LESS WRONG over time.

      As to your child: Medicine Hard. Psychiatric medicine doubly so. I’ve seen psychosis up close and personal; I know first-hand how damaging and frightening it is. Hell, I’m on year 30 of depressive illness that is determined to kill me; long-term medicated, and just about at level I can operate as a half-functioning human being. So if you were hoping I’d start putting my punches, forget it. I may feel for your pain, stress, and ragged nerves; your frustration that there is no simple, perfect fix for such a complex and difficult conditions; but you’ve long since exhausted any benefit of doubt with your persistently irresponsible and dangerous gibber.

      Lasting as long as I have has given me respect for the value of life, and the personal duty of care we should all have toward it, particularly when lives of the most desperate/vulnerable members of society are on the line. So I should not stay silent for as long as callous, self-serving fools like you think you’re in any way qualified or entitled to play doctor-god. Your right to swing your fist ends in your own face and no-one else.

      Life is a 100% fatal sexually-transmitted condition, that at times may be extremely painful. DEAL WITH IT. Every other member of our 7Bn-strong organism has to do the same. And most of them don’t feel the need to lie about it at others’ expense just for their own ego, so why do you?

      • has

        To keep it simple and to the point, I will only contest one point in your post.

        has said:
        ” And most of them don’t feel the need to lie about it at others’ expense just for their own ego, so why do you? ”
        “DEAL WITH IT. Every other member of our 7Bn-strong organism has to do the same. ”

        has, I AM DEALING WITH IT. The problem is I have people here that want to tell me how to go about it. I don’t attempt to dictate to you what type of therapy you need to pursue. I would as that you don’t dictate to others what is their choice in the life, to choose for themselves. It’s a freedom of choice matter. To each their own, live and let live…. get a life

  • Prof. Ernst writes, “Homeopathy is harmless; after all, the typical homeopathic remedy contains no active ingredient!” I think you know perfectly well that they do, Professor, as ionization of the solute, radiation that is detectable by several different assays, perpetuated by an indefinte chain reaction. See Rao) The radioactivity of the ionized solute is quite capable of triggering a murderous aggravation of the symptoms you report. Read “Murder by Homeopathy” https://johnbenneth.wordpress.com/2019/06/08/murder-by-homeopathy/

    • pure fantasy!

    • I have just read the post on your blog. I’m not sure what you mean by radiation but it is clearly something quite different from anything I have ever encountered during the course of my training and practice as a radiation oncologist. You don’t appear to distinguish between ionising and non-ionising radiation, photons vs. charged particles, effects on the electrons of an atom as opposed to its nucleus… and this is before even considering radiobiology.

  • Is it just me or are we seeing more of these cases where parents get suckered in by snake oil and quakery and their child suffers and occasionally dies due the neglect this leads to. Here in Canada there have been a rash of cases over the past few years and I read in the US authorities are interceding and taking children into care to prevent harm and death to the children due to medical neglect of their parents.

    Glad to see the quack, who essentially killed this child, will face trail, if the authorities took more action against these fraudsters perhaps we’d see less victims in the future.

    • VOR

      I’d be cautious of inviting the State to manage your life. The State has already given us plenty of proof of how inept they are at doing most everything. I don’t want a public system that can’t secure the border, settle matters of law in the Congress, patch the holes in the roads, or manage the budget to tell me what healthcare decisions I must accept for me and my family.

      Once you forfeit control over you own destiny to the State, they will not give it back without a fight. The more you give, the more that want to take. Big government wants to be your DADDY

      F the government, we need liberty… not a daddy

      • Libertarian BS, the state has a roll to play in protecting children of those who neglect and harm them, despite what certain far right fools tell you, you don’t own your children, and if you refuse to supply the necessities of life, food, water, shelter, and in this case medical care, they state should step in to save them. most civilized nations accept this, and only a fool would think the state should just leave these kids to suffer and die.

  • VOR

    Liberarian BS… OK. I was thinking yours nonsense is liberal BS. Label my political preference what you like. I consider myself a conservative. Call me a conservative all day long, won’t bother me. I agree that the state has a role in the intervention of some children, due to the fact there there are few deadbeat parents here and there. However, we are taling about a fraction of one percent of parents that are not seeking the best interest of their own children. We need not legistale laws for the populaton that is such a small fraction of society. We already have laws in place to protect children from irresponsible parents. We don’t need to punish parents sincerely want to help their children live better health.
    The term “own” is misleading. However, if you posed the question any time prior to the last 40 years if parents owned their children, the general response throughout the ages would have been a resounding yes. Largely because of liberal thinking and political corectness, the thinking has evolved. The real question is who is responsible for caring for minors. If the parents are to be stripped of being caregivers authroity, where do the lines get drawn in all other matters ? So does the state “own” the children ? I’m sorry to inform you but the states rights have already gone past food water shelter and medical care.
    The state is already claiming rights to inform about sexual matters, teach religious values, restrict parental dicipline, and teach children how to access medcal recors by computer that parents don’t have access to. In some areas the right for parents to choose where to educate and even home schooling are being questioned. The government wants the right to decide childcare matters without the responsibility of the day to day care. Open your eyes, government control is already here…. and becoming more and more widespread.

    The government is already out of control, and telling us how we will live our lives. This year in the city of San Francisco, the city will spend $70M dollars to clean up poop on the streets. We already have laws that regulate pooping on the streets, but the City doesn’t care about enforcing the laws to protect the people, the state is more interested in being politically correct. They are more concerned with rights of the homeless than the taxpayers. So the taxpayers pay the bill and suffer.
    ” And the city expects to spend at least $72 million next year,” the Chronicle says. (The San Francisco Chronicle newspaper)
    That’s not enough. At least one city supervisor says San Francisco needs to spend at least $12 million more on trash cans and cleaning crews before he believes the city will make a dent in the poop problem. But even that’s not a guarantee. San Francisco rarely cites people for urinating and defecating on public streets and sidewalks, and the mayor’s office is far more focused on lecturing tech companies for raising rents than it is on cracking down on its homeless population.”

    A city here in Cali (San Diego) has already repealed a law the prohibited people from living in vehicles. Los Angeles is considering dong the same. These vehicles would be allowed to park in front of homes…. ENDLESSLY !
    This is the new liberalism.
    Why should I believe the state can uphold the law they’ve already created ? Why should I believe the state has the ability to make any good decisions ? The new California Governor want to give immediate healthcare coverage to all undocumented immigrants…. immidiatly upon arrival. How boldly and how long can the state give the finger to the taxpayers of Cali without consequence ?
    No, I don’t care for big goverenment. Good folks are already fleeing from Cali liberalism , with more to follow, I will soon be one of them.

  • we are taling about a fraction of one percent of parents that are not seeking the best interest of their own children

    Can you provide evidence for this unlikely statistic? In the UK the figures are about two orders of magnitude higher (see this report from the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/media/1042/child-abuse-neglect-uk-today-research-report.pdf) and I can’t believe that the US is is so different; given the greater social inequality in the US compared to most Western countries I would expect if anything the problem to be worse.

    Even if it were only, say, 0.1% that is still nearly 100,000 children that you say don’t need protecting.

    However, if you posed the question any time prior to the last 40 years if parents owned their children, the general response throughout the ages would have been a resounding yes.

    Are you advocating a return to slavery?

    the states rights have already gone past food water shelter and medical care.

    I’m not sure that in the US there is a universal right to medical care; if so it doesn’t seem to be very well implemented. And what about the right to be protected against crime?

    the mayor’s office is far more focused on lecturing tech companies for raising rents than it is on cracking down on its homeless population.

    Do I understand from this that you are against the right to shelter?

    the City doesn’t care about enforcing the laws to protect the people

    They are more concerned with rights of the homeless than the taxpayers

    I see. The homeless aren’t people.

    The new California Governor want to give immediate healthcare coverage to all undocumented immigrants…. immidiatly upon arrival

    Whenever I have visited the US (mostly to attend medical conferences) I have always been struck at the attitude and manner of the personnel in the immigration department whose default position seemed to be that all foreigners are criminals and should be treated as such. This is in contrast to everywhere else I have travelled, except possibly Israel, and I have travelled widely. Most countries have a concept of universal human rights (there are some exceptions, such as Russia and Saudi Arabia, although Arabs in my experience are remarkably hospitable to strangers), but this does not seem to be particularly prevalent in the US.

    I am really not sure what dystopian society you are advocating with these misanthropic views.

    • Doc

      “Even if it were only, say, 0.1% that is still nearly 100,000 children that you say don’t need protecting.”
      I never said they don’t need protecting. My point is that we don’t need to make more laws to protect when we already have child endangerment laws, do you advocate taking all parental rights away from parents ?

      “Are you advocating a return to slavery?”
      Slavery has nothing to do with what we are talking about here. Perhaps you infer that laws only get better with time…. ?

      “he mayor’s office is far more focused on lecturing tech companies for raising rents than it is on cracking down on its homeless population.”
      This was not my statement, but a statement from the local newspaper.

      Doc said:
      “Do I understand from this that you are against the right to shelter?
      I see. The homeless aren’t people.”

      As far as I know Doc, here in the US we have no right to shelter laws. We have all kinds of programs paid for by the taxpayers to help people that need help. Assistance with low income housing, food, low energy cost programs, unemployment benefits, welfare money… and the list goes on and on. Are people assured of a place to live ? …. in most major cities they have shelters for the homeless where they can get a meal and a bed, but the resources are not unlimited. If you want to guarantee help to those that need assistance, come on over and help, We could use a guy like you with deep pockets. Or I’ll supply you with my bank account and you can wire money to my account that I will be sure to donate on your behalf.

      Doc
      You need not lecture me about US immigration. Somewhere close to 30% of the US population are from immigrants. The US legally accepts more immigrants than any country in the world (and has for many many decades), currently at about 1.2 million per year legal and documented. At the current pace last month, another one million migrants are crossing the borders illegally. This country is build on a migrant population. I wholeheartedly accept and support all LEGAL immigration to the US.

      I can’t speak to your bad experiences in the US Border and Protection Dept. I travel also and experience more or less the same everywhere. Do you have any statistics or studies to prove your point ? …. or just your own personal experience ?

      • @RG

        Somewhere close to 30% of the US population are from immigrants.

        No, the figure’s way higher than that. The first immigrants to the USA arrived on the Mayflower. Their successors simply grabbed any land they felt like and killed any native americans who objected. Present-day Americans always seem to have an ironically forgetful attitude when it comes to immigration.

      • You need not lecture me about US immigration. Somewhere close to 30% of the US population are from immigrants.

        You’re about 68% out with that figure.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Native_Americans_in_the_United_States&oldid=901564475#Demographics

      • RG,

        I don’t think you read my comment properly before replying to it.

        My first point was to question your assertion that only a fraction of one percent of parents do not act in the best interests of their children. My contention, extrapolating to the US from official figures in the UK, is that the proportion is a great deal higher than that (according to the NSPCC 20% of children suffer some form of abuse).

        You seem to think that the concept of one person owning another has nothing to do with slavery.

        You stated : “The states rights have already gone past food water shelter and medical care” from which I inferred that there is a right to shelter in the US. Now you are saying that there isn’t. Which is it?

        In the UK it is the immigration department that checks your passport, but maybe it is called something else in the US. If so then I apologise for the confusion.

        I didn’t make any comment about US policy towards immigration, legal or otherwise, though it has always struck me as odd when people advocate policies that would have excluded their own forebears. I was relating my personal experience of how I have been treated at the border as a visitor to your country as an example of how the US treats non-citizens. This relates more broadly to the question of recognition of the basic human rights of non-citizens. In most countries people are not refused medical care simply because they are not there legally.

        Your suggestion that I should make a charitable donation to ameliorate some of the injustices resulting from US social policy is inappropriate, as are your presumptive comments regarding my financial position.

  • Hey, we’re way off topic, I’m done with it.

    Happy Fathers Day to all the Dads out there

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