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

I know Dr Thompson personally since many years. She is one of the UK’s leading homeopaths and we rarely agreed on anything. Yet I had always considered her to be on the responsible side of the homeopathic spectrum. I am sorry to say that I just changed my mind.

The reason is this video and letter.

In the video, she explains that she has been infected with the coronavirus, has self-treated the condition with homeopathy and promptly recovered. In the letter to all patients, she states the following:

… In terms of Homeopathic Medicines, the medicine Anas Barb 200c, two tablets twice weekly, can be used during this time, increasing to two tablets once a day if you do have exposure to the virus or have symptoms and have to self-isolate.

Other Homeopathic Medicines that are being recommended include:

  • Arsenicum Album 30c: three times daily if anxiety is strong
  • Gelsemium 30c: twice daily if weakness and headache predominate
  • Bryonia 30c: two-three times a day for dry cough particularly if movement aggravates the cough.

If cough becomes more problematic you can use Antimonium Tartaricum 30c three times daily.

If fevers are a problem and particularly if they are periodic (coming at certain times of the day) use China officinalis 30c three times daily…

I find this amazing and alarming. There is, of course, not a jot of evidence that any homeopathic treatment will effectively treat or prevent any viral infection, and certainly no evidence that it cures coronavirus infections. To claim or imply otherwise displays a staggering ineptitude and lack of professionalism. To extrapolate from a personal experience to a quasi recommendation for patients is, in my view, ridiculously unscientific and overtly unethical. As a doctor Thompson should be able to differentiate between experience and evidence and has the professional duty to go by the latter.

I am truly glad to hear that Dr Thompson has had a mild course of the disease and recovered swiftly. But we know that all too often this is not the case and that patients can become seriously ill and some even die of the coronavirus. To give the impression that homeopathy can keep them safe is clearly both incorrect and irresponsible.

As THE TIMES stated yesterday, homeopaths are ‘risking lives with bogus coronavirus treatments’.

It’s high time to stop them.

32 Responses to Dr Elizabeth Thompson, NCIM Holistic Doctor & Clinical Lead, says she has had the coronavirus and recommends homeopathy

  • “Yet I had always considered her to be on the responsible side of the homeopathic spectrum.”

    Prof, this is an oxymoron. There is no “responsible side of the homeopathic spectrum”.

  • Dr Elizabeth Thompson: GMC registration number 3262577.

    The GMC should investigate whether she is fit to practise and consider striking her off for failing to be ethical, misleading patients, making false claims and not placing the interests of her patients first. GMC ethics require that its registrants do not promulgate their beliefs to patients.

    Good Medical Practice: 33. You must not express to your patients your personal beliefs, including political, religious or moral beliefs, in ways that exploit their vulnerability or that are likely to cause them distress; 56. Probity means being honest and trustworthy, and acting with integrity; 61. You must not make unjustifiable claims about the quality or outcomes of your services in any information you provide to patients. It must not offer guarantees of cures, nor exploit patients’ vulnerability or lack of medical knowledge.

    Dr Thompson could still practise homeopathy, and style herself ‘Doctor’, but could not claim to be a GMC registered medical practitioner.

    Patients could still indulge themselves, but not with the imprimatur of the medical profession.

    Cannot the Good Thinking Society, or a MP with a good conscience press the GMC?
    The BMA is loath to criticise doctors.
    The GMC would prefer to look the other way, but it is failing in its duty to protect the public interest.

    OffCom is now being asked to investigate Eamonn Holmes for having questioned whether there is any evidence G5 transmissions do not cause Covid.
    We really must put all these bizarre theories (and practices) to rest.

    Note: I do not call for a ban on homeopathy. Nor tarot reading, unicorn hunting, fairy wrangling, astrology.
    Just for GMC registered doctors to act with integrity.
    And if they have beliefs (by definition: having no plausible evidence in support) which they wish to convey to patients – to resign their GMC registration and practice as lay practitioners. Caveat emptor .

    • THE SAD THING IS: I fear that she is well aware that she is risking her GMC registration, but decided to post this video regardless. sad, because it reveals a degree of delusion that I did not expect.

    • “Note: I do not call for a ban on homeopathy. Nor tarot reading, unicorn hunting, fairy wrangling, astrology.
      Just for GMC registered doctors to act with integrity.”

      I f I may be so bold, you *should* call for a ban on unicorn hunting if for no other than ethical reasons. Unicorns are so badly endangered world-wide that there have been no verifiable sightings of same for nigh on millennia, owing to no fault of their own.

      Homeopaths on the other hand are also endangered but only as a result of their own decisions and beliefs, acting upon which ultimately affects their long-term well-being, whether physically, or as in this particular case, evidently also professionally. In this respect it *is* their own fault, a failing which the aforementioned unicorns do not share.

      I cannot of course say whether or not the good (?) doctor had an actual COVID-19 infection. I will note, however, that it seems to have become somewhat fashionable here in the US for people to claim suspected infections going back to mid-February when there were no known nor even suspected infections in their part of the country, and no history of potential exposure, travel, etc. Perhaps for whatever misguided the reasons the good (?) doctor has decided to indulge in a similar attention-seeking behavior?

      Unfortunate though it is the more unconventional a field of practice is the greater the temptation for the proponents to indulge in fanciful thinking to lend ‘proof’ to their assertions.

      Keep up the good work, folks. SCAM only succeeds when it is allowed to go unchallenged.

  • I have reported this to the ASA using their coronavirus-specific complaint form. https://www.asa.org.uk/make-a-complaint/quick-report.html

    The position of the GMC can be boiled down to 2 questions:

    1. Do they consider that homeopathy has robust evidence of efficacy?
    2. Is Thompson following evidence based clinical practice?

    I think I will ask them.

    • Dr. Thompson gives food tips and recommendations what you can do to self-care.
      There is freedom of speech and as an holistic doctor ofcourse she gives also homeopathic advices;
      they will only appeal to people who know that homeopathy stimulates self healing powers.

      Plus she adds:
      For any COVID-19 symptoms seek appropriate conventional advice and reassurance.
      The complaint sent to GMC is therefore completely useless

    • Les:
      I will co-sign any initiative on this.
      Richard
      GMC: 1213753.

  • How do the likes of Thompson have time for their hobby when the NHS is in crisis? My understanding is that Thompson’s day job is palliative care consulltant at UHB.

  • As a doctor Thompson should be able to differentiate between experience and evidence and has the professional duty to go by the latter.

    Sadly many doctors are guilty of putting experience before evidence. Of course, studying medicine is an apprenticeship and experience is how you learn. Personal experience leaves a much stronger impression than anything gleaned from a scientific paper, but practice and protocols MUST be based on evidence.

    In the video, she explains that she has been infected with the coronavirus

    I’m afraid I have no intention of watching the video (I prefer to take in information at my own pace by reading), but I do wonder how she knows she was infected with the virus. Was it a positive test, a convincing constellation of symptoms or did she just know?

    • she does not reveal this detail, if I remember correctly.
      and yes, I agree: every medic is impressed by his/her own experience; this is inevitable. but being impressed should not prompt them to put a personal anecdote before evidence.

  • Complaint sent to GMC. I also asked them why they allow any registrant to breach evidence based clinical practice, by working in homeopathy.

  • @Richard Rawlins
    @Les Rose
    So, in the face of dreadful shortness of breath, for which you have NOTHING TO OFFER, you still think you have to denounce those who offer possible help.
    This denouncing is sick and reminds me of the darkest German times.
    And even if it doesn´t work, it is MORE THAN NOTHING.
    (whereby we classic homeopaths currently observe and collect a great number of immediate effects to shortness of breath beyond any placebo effect with the same means again and again)

    Is this your fear that makes you react so split in consciousness?

    • are you a real doctor?
      1) there is no dreadful shortness of breath, for which you have NOTHING TO OFFER!
      2) homeopathy is no possible help.
      3) she is not implying that homeopathy should be started after shortness of breath has set in.

    • This denouncing is sick and reminds me of the darkest German times.

      Godwin’s Law. Inevitable from those who have nothing else to offer.

      • That was my thought as well. Heinrich Hümmer is desperate, so he flails around blindly and gradually leaves the decency behind him.

    • So, in the face of dreadful shortness of breath, for which you have NOTHING TO OFFER, you still think you have to denounce those who offer possible help.
      This denouncing is sick and reminds me of the darkest German times
      And even if it doesn´t work, it is MORE THAN NOTHING

      I was taught that if you cannot do anything to help it is best to do nothing, and that has always seemed very good advice to me, although it is quite difficult in practice.

      I’m not sure what you mean by dreadful shortness of breath. I recently read a paper in the BMJ from 4th April by Chen et al. looking at clinical features associated with mortality in 274 patients admitted to Tongli Hospital in Wuhan who had completed their infective episode (i.e. either died or recovered). All 113 of the people who died had acute respiratory distress syndrome. Despite the name I would not describe this as “dreadful shortness of breath” as the diagnosis depends on measuring arterial blood gas concentrations and acidity. The treatment is essentially ventilation, which increases oxygenation of the blood, removes excess carbon dioxide (though this appears not to have been so much of a problem in this series) and reduces swelling in the gas-exchange surfaces within the lungs by means of positive inspiratory and espiratory pressure). In this series, although 113 patients with respiratory distress died, another 83 survived, and I doubt whether they would have done so without ventilation. I therefore disagree with your contention that medicine has nothing to offer.

      If it is simply a matter of relieving the sensation of shortness of breath, and the associate anxiety, there are many effective interventions, some of them pharmacological. Again it is untrue to say that medicine has nothing to offer.

      As for denouncing homeopathy, to those of us whose job is treating genuinely sick people it seems as daft as the idea of a mechanic trying to repair a burst tyre with a diluted solution of rubber. I am more inclined to denounce the educational system that has produced people who are so uncritically accepting of it.

      • At Edzard, I know it, from your comments I can only conclude that you are not treating “real patients”. One of the most common symptoms that can be seen in Sars-CoV-2 patients and that they describe dramatically , is shortness of breath at the slightest load. And as long as you are not forced to ventilate, conventional medicine has little or nothing additional to offer for this condition except oxygen, which relifs only partly. If you ever get into such a situation, which I do not wish you in God’s name, you would probably be very, very happy about the slightest additional relief of breathlessness. Boris Johnson can tell you, how it feels!

        • “little or nothing additional to offer for this condition except oxygen”
          so you admit that you previous statement:
          “in the face of dreadful shortness of breath, for which you have NOTHING TO OFFER”
          was just BS!
          thank you.

        • Dr. Hümmer, why this dismissive attitude towards administration of increased oxygen levels as an evidence-based treatment option for respiratory problems?!
          After all, the administration of oxygen-enriched air is firmly based on our scientific knowledge about cellular respiration, therefore very rational and is -as medical evidence shows- often life-saving.

          It may sound confusing for a homeopath, but as a general rule, administering a (non-inert) chemical substance in a higher concentration will also increase the specific effect that this substance exerts, whereas dilution of the substance will reduce specific effects.
          It is even possible to dilute a substance until no molecule is left! Then, of course, the substance-specific will also be gone.
          Sometime, science is really simple, do you agree? 😉

        • Dr Hummer,

          Your knowledge of respiratory physiology seems to be rather limited.

          Oxygen is not very effective at relieving the sensation of shortness of breath. For most people hypoxia does not form an important part of the drive to breathe, and indeed you can breathe pure nitrogen quite comfortably until you pass out (many medical students will have experienced this themselves as part of their training, and it is also used for humane killing of, I think, poultry). Individuals with certain kinds of chronic lung disease, however, do rely on their hypoxic drive, and if you give them oxygen they get increasingly drowsy as they are poisoned by the accumulation of carbon dioxide until they stop breathing altogether.

          Shortness of breath in acute illness may be caused by hypercapnia (carbon dioxide retention), acidosis (not necessarily due to lung problems at all) or increased stiffness of the lungs due to oedema (waterlogging), and also to anything which narrows the small airways (oedema, mucus plugs, bronchospasm as in asthma), and also anything which interferes with expansion of the lungs (such as a full stomach, fluid, air or blood between the chest and the lungs, osteoporotic fractures in the spine…). Anxiety, too, is a very common cause of breathlessness. Even fatigue can be an indication for assisted ventilation.

          There are treatments for all of these which can bring relief, some of them very simple such as humidifying the air (oxygen out of a cylinder is very dry and may make breathlessness worse for that reason alone) or even just changing the position of the patient, and others requiring the full facilities of an intensive care unit. Indeed, the respiratory distress of acute pulmonary oedema due to acute left ventricular failure responds well to blood-letting, though we generally reserve venesection for other situations these days.

          My understanding is that the shortness of breath in Covid-19 infection is most often due to inflammation in the lungs in an exaggerated immune reaction, but can also be due to the virus directly infecting the heart.

          • @Dr Julian Money-Kyrle
            I largely agree with you. But,
            – do you notice that you actually agree in the sense that conventional medicine does not yet have a causal therapy for the breathlessness, triggered by whatever?
            @Jashak
            – Do you notice that @Dr Julian Money-Kyrle clearly contradicts your theory?
            @Dr Julian Money-Kyrle
            If homeopathy could provide relief for this “intermediate stage” [try sovereignly once to put aside all prejudices and dogmas in this dramatic situation], couldn´t that be fantastic?
            What´s wrong in trying?

          • If healing touch could provide relief for this “intermediate stage”, would that not be fantastic?
            THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF OPTIONS THAT ARE AS IMPLAUSIBLE AND NON-EBM!
            are you ok with trying them all?
            in what order?
            would alphabetical suit you fine?

          • @ Dr. Hümmer:
            Quote:“Do you notice that @Dr Julian Money-Kyrle clearly contradicts your theory?”

            Dr. Hümmer, do you notice that you can´t UNDERSTAND TEXTS?!

            Since your lack of understanding of my previous post might be due to a lack of your understanding of the English language, I will offer you a special service and translate my statements this time.

            In my comment, I made two claims.
            1. Administration of increased oxygen levels is rational, since our cells need oxygen for respiration. This evidence-based treatment can be life-saving.

            Übersetzung: Die Gabe von erhöhten Sauerstoffmengen ist rational, weil unsere Körperzellen Sauerstoff für die Respiration benötigen. Diese evidenzbasierte Behandlungsmethode kann lebensrettend sein.

            2. The effect of chemical molecules is dose dependent and therefore, more concentrated solutions will show more substance-specific effects than less concentrated solutions.
            This is also one important reason why homeopathy is such a stupid concept.

            Übersetzung: Die Wirkung von chemischen Molekülen ist dosisabhängig und konzentriertere Lösungen zeigen daher deutlicherer substanzspezifische Effekte als weniger konzentrierte Lösungen.
            Das ist auch einer der wichtigen Gründe, weshalb Homöopathie solch ein selten dämliches Konzept ist.

            In his post, Dr. JMK was addressing SHORTNESS OF BREATH. As far as I can see, he did not at all dispute that administration of oxygen CAN be life-saving, depending on the disease.

            So, Dr. Hümmer, please clarify: what “theory of mine” was Dr. JMK so “clearly” contradicting?!

    • I have nothing to fear but fear of nothing.
      No evidence. No sense. Nonsense.

      I fear people more gullible than me will ‘believe’, waste their time and money, fail to seek timely conventional help, be drawn to other ‘conspiracy theories’, and even burn down G5 masts.

      The body politic is harmed by lack of critical thinking and 200 year old anachronistic falsehoods promulgated by a good doctor who “lost his way in spiritism” – as a biographer had it.

      Homeopathic remedies do not offer “possible help” – as Dr Hümmer well knows.
      The placebo effects of having a consultation with an empathic practitioner might well be of benefit (emotionally), but that is not ‘homeopathy’ – classic or otherwise.

      Take care.

    • @Heinrich Hümmer
      I have no idea why you think I should be motivated by fear. Of what? You misunderstand how scientific debate works. I am not offering anything for dyspnoea. The principle is that whoever makes a claim bears the onus of providing evidence in support. The overwhelming body of evidence from rigorous research does not support homeopathy. Dr Thompson agreed when registering as a physician to practise according to the best available evidence. She obviously repudiates that now.

      This is not “denouncing”, it is asking for evidence. But I certainly do deplore health care professionals who wilfully mislead patients with ridiculous fantasies about how the body works.

      What “darkest German times” do you mean? If it’s what I think you mean, you ought to read the history of the heilpraktiker.

      “And even if it doesn’t work, it is MORE THAN NOTHING”.
      What on earth does that mean? If it doesn’t work it is by definition of no value (and might be harmful).

      So please hold back the emotive language and talk about the evidence, like an adult.

  • Ahhhh, Homeopathy Awareness Week… let’s all ‘celebrate’ then! Having watched the Dr Thompson video, I tend to agree with other sceptics on this forum about the validity of this type of therapy. I am of the opinion that Homeopathy may work in a similar way to placebo – in some cases at least. I have seen credible reports of so called ‘sugar pills’ being dispensed to patients by conventional GP’s and the measurable results have been similar to conventional medicines for the same illness or condition.

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