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

alternative therapist

An article in THE TIMES seems worth mentioning. Here are some excerpts:

… Maternity care at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH) is the subject of an inquiry, prompted by dozens of baby deaths. More than 450 families have now come forward to take part in the review, led by the expert midwife Donna Ockenden. The trust now faces further scrutiny over its use of aromatherapy, after experts branded guidelines at the trust “shocking” and not backed by evidence. Several bereaved families have said they recall aromatherapy being heavily promoted at the trust’s maternity units.

It is being prosecuted over the death of baby Wynter Andrews just 23 minutes after she was born in September 2019. Her mother Sarah Andrews wrote on Twitter that she remembered aromatherapy being seen as “the answer to everything”. Internal guidelines, first highlighted by the maternity commentator Catherine Roy, suggest using essential oils if the placenta does not follow the baby out of the womb quickly enough…  the NUH guidelines say aromatherapy can help expel the placenta, and suggest midwives ask women to inhale oils such as clary sage, jasmine, lavender or basil, while applying others as an abdominal compress. They also describe the oils as “extremely effective for the prevention of and, in some cases, the treatment of infection”. The guidelines also suggest essential oils to help women suffering from cystitis, or as a compress on a caesarean section wound. Nice guidelines for those situations do not recommend aromatherapy…

The NUH adds frankincense “may calm hysteria” and is “recommended in situations of maternal panic”. Roy said: “It is shocking that dangerous advice seemed to have been approved by a team of healthcare professionals at NUH. There is a high tolerance for pseudoscience in NHS maternity care … and it needs to stop. Women deserve high quality care, not dangerous quackery.” …

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The journalist who wrote the article also asked me for a comment, and I emailed her this quote: “Aromatherapy is little more than a bit of pampering; no doubt it is enjoyable but it is not an effective therapy for anything. To use it in medical emergencies seems irresponsible to say the least.” The Times evidently decided not to include my thoughts.

Having now read the article, I checked again and failed to find good evidence for aromatherapy for any of the mentioned conditions. However, I did find an article and an announcement both of which are quite worrying, in my view:

Aromatherapy is often misunderstood and consequently somewhat marginalized. Because of a basic misinterpretation, the integration of aromatherapy into UK hospitals is not moving forward as quickly as it might. Aromatherapy in UK is primarily aimed at enhancing patient care or improving patient satisfaction, and it is frequently mixed with massage. Little focus is given to the real clinical potential, except for a few pockets such as the Micap/South Manchester University initiative which led to a Phase 1 clinical trial into the effects of aromatherapy on infection carried out in the Burns Unit of Wythenshawe Hospital. This article discusses the expansion of aromatherapy within the US and follows 10 years of developing protocols and policies that led to pilot studies on radiation burns, chemo-induced nausea, slow-healing wounds, Alzheimers and end-of-life agitation. The article poses two questions: should nursing take aromatherapy more seriously and do nurses really need 60 hours of massage to use aromatherapy as part of nursing practice?

My own views on aromatherapy are expressed in our now not entirely up-to-date review:

Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of essential oil from herbs, flowers, and other plants. The aim of this overview was to provide an overview of systematic reviews evaluating the effectiveness of aromatherapy. We searched 12 electronic databases and our departmental files without restrictions of time or language. The methodological quality of all systematic reviews was evaluated independently by two authors. Of 201 potentially relevant publications, 10 met our inclusion criteria. Most of the systematic reviews were of poor methodological quality. The clinical subject areas were hypertension, depression, anxiety, pain relief, and dementia. For none of the conditions was the evidence convincing. Several SRs of aromatherapy have recently been published. Due to a number of caveats, the evidence is not sufficiently convincing that aromatherapy is an effective therapy for any condition.

In this context, it might also be worth mentioning that we warned about the frequent usage of quackery in midwifery years ago. Here is our systematic review of 2012 published in a leading midwifery journal:

Background: in recent years, several surveys have suggested that many midwives use some form of complementary/alternative therapy (CAT), often without the knowledge of obstetricians.

Objective: to systematically review all surveys of CAT use by midwives.

Search strategy: six electronic databases were searched using text terms and MeSH for CAT and midwifery.

Selection criteria: surveys were included if they reported quantitative data on the prevalence of CAT use by midwives.

Data collection and analysis: full-text articles of all relevant surveys were obtained. Data were extracted according to pre-defined criteria.

Main results: 19 surveys met the inclusion criteria. Most were recent and from the USA. Prevalence data varied but were usually high, often close to 100%. Much use of CATs does not seem to be supported by strong evidence for efficacy.

Conclusion: most midwives seem to use CATs. As not all CATs are without risks, the issue should be debated openly.

I am tired of saying ‘I TOLD YOU SO!’ but nevertheless find it a pity that our warning remained (yet again) unheeded!

Despite considerable doubts about its effectiveness, osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) continues to be used for a range of pediatric conditions. Here is just one example of many osteopaths advertising their services:

I qualified as an Osteopath in 2009 after 4 years of intensive training from the British College of Osteopathic medicine, where I received a distinction for my efforts. After having two children I decided to do a 2-year Postgraduate training in Pediatric Osteopathy from the Osteopathic Centre for Children in London. Whilst at the centre I was lucky enough to meet a wide variety of children from premature babies in a Neonate Hospital ward to children with developmental issues and disabilities, children on the Autistic spectrum, to kids doing exams or experiencing high levels of stress. We also saw lots of children with normal coughs, colds, lumps and bumps.

And the ‘Institute of Osteopathy states this:

Parents visit osteopaths for a range of reasons to support their child’s health. Children, like adults, can be affected by general joint and muscle issues, which is one of the reasons people visit an osteopath. Parents will also take their children to visit an osteopath for a variety of other health reasons that may benefit from osteopathic care.

As osteopathic care is based on the individual needs of the patient, it will vary depending on your child’s age and the diagnosis. Osteopaths generally use a wide range of gentle hands-on techniques that focus on releasing tension, improving mobility and optimising function. This is often used together with exercise and helpful advice. Some osteopaths have been trained in very gentle techniques which are particularly suitable to assess and treat very young children, including new-borns. You do not need to consult your GP before you visit an osteopath, although you may wish to do so.

So, how good or bad is osteopathy for kids? Our systematic review wanted to find out. Specifically, the aim of this paper is to update our previous systematic review (SR) initially published in 2013 by critically evaluating the evidence for or against this treatment.

Eleven databases were searched (January 2012 to November 2021). Only randomized clinical trials (RCTs) of OMT in pediatric patients compared with any type of controls were considered. The Cochrane risk-of-bias tool was used. In addition, the quality of the evidence was rated using Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) criteria, as recommended by the Cochrane Collaboration.

Thirteen trials met the eligibility criteria, of which four could be subjected to a meta-analysis. The findings show that, in preterm infants, OMT has little or no effect on reducing the length of hospital stay (standardized mean difference (SMD) -0.03; 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.44 to 0.39; very low certainty of the evidence) when compared with usual care alone. Only one study (8.3%) was judged to have a low risk of bias and showed no effects of OMT on improving exclusive breastfeeding at one month. The methodological quality of RCTs published since 2013 has improved. However, adverse effects remain poorly reported.

We concluded that the quality of the primary trials of OMT has improved during recent years. However, the quality of the totality of the evidence remains low or very low. Therefore, the effectiveness of OMT for selected pediatric populations remains unproven.

These days, it is not often that I am the co-author of a systematic review. So, allow me to discuss one of my own papers for a change by making a few very brief points:

  • Considering how many osteopaths treat children, the fact that only 13 trials exist is shameful. To me, it suggests that the osteopathic profession has little interest in research.
  • The finding that adverse effects are poorly reported is even more shameful, in my view. It suggests that the few osteopaths who do some research don’t mind violating research ethics.
  • The fact that overall our review fails to yield good evidence that osteopathy is effective for any pediatric condition is the most shameful finding of them all. It means that osteopaths are either not informed about the evidence for their own approach, or that they are informed but don’t give a hoot and treat kids regardless. In both cases, they behave unethically.

It has been reported by several sources that the NHS is advertising for a Reiki healer.

The NHS stated that “the responsibilities of a reiki healer include treating clients using energy principles … and activating the healing process.” The post is paid for by the Sam Buxton Sunflower Healing Trust (SBSHT) which states on its website:

The SBSHT healing therapists, who work within the NHS and other health areas, are proud to be part of a multi-disciplinary team of professionals to provide vital support cancer patients, their relatives and staff. Since 2006, the SBSHT has funded healers to work in NHS, and other health related areas to support cancer patients and their families. A key role of the SBSHT is to increase awareness within the UK of the importance of providing healing support to cancer patients and families. Another vital role is to generate the crucial funds needed to place more healers in NHS, and other health related areas, throughout the country. Complementary therapy (CT) is increasingly demanded and expected by patients undergoing cancer treatments. An increasing amount of research clearly demonstrates that CT is important to support patients through their conventional treatments. SBSHT is committed to providing funds to NHS hospitals and cancer centers to engage the services of a Reiki practitioner or Healer for cancer patients and their families

As a charity we are or have funded healer posts within the centres below.

  • University College Hospital, London
  • Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge
  • Princess Alexandra Hospital, Epping
  • Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Welwyn Garden City
  • Derriford Hospital, Plymouth
  • Wigan NHS Trust, Wigan
  • St Josephs Hospice, London
  • Eden Valley Hospice and Jigsaw Children’s Hospice, Carlisle
  • St Mary’s Hospice, Ulverston and Barrow in Furness NHS Trust
  • St Johns Hospice, Lancaster
  • Kent and Canterbury Hospital, Canterbury
  • Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre, Bristol
  • Rowcroft Hospice, Torquay
  • The Lister Hospital, Stevenage
  • Barnstaple NHS Trust
  • Treliske Hospital, Cornwall
  • Poole NHS Trust
  • St Michaels Hospice, Herefordshire

The SBSHT was co-founded by Angie Buxton-King in memory of her son Sam, who died of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in 1998 aged 10. She is a member of the ‘College of Psychic Studies’ which is “committed to serving the evolution of consciousness”. The College website states this:

We were founded in 1884 to support and encourage empirical research into the esoteric. Our programme has since broadened and diversified to meet rising demand and increasingly global interests.

However, our core values remain the same. We continue to shine a light on key themes including consciousness, intuition, self-development and meditation. Our courses, workshops, talks and special events provide a safe and inclusive space in which to explore the full spectrum of human potential under the careful guidance of our expert tutors.

The College offers all sorts of courses; I was particularly fascinated by this one: “Alchemise Your Energy Through Dowsing“.

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Now, one could easily claim that there is nothing wrong with reiki healers invading the NHS; after all, they are funded by a charitable trust at no cost to the taxpayer.

Yet, I disagree!

Reiki healing is implausible and ineffective nonsense. As such it is by no means harmless. Employing such healers in the NHS sends out a strong signal that undermines the principles of rational thinking and evidence-based medicine. If the NHS truly does not value these principles, I suggest they also fill the chronic gaps in ambulance services by flying carpets.

Trevor Zierke is a D.C. who published several videos that have gone viral after saying that “literally 99% of my profession” is a scam. “When I say almost all the usual lines chiropractors tell you are lies, I mean almost all of them,” he stated. Zierke then went on to give examples of issues chiropractors allegedly make up, including someone’s spine being “misaligned,” tension on nerves causing health problems, and someone having back pain because their hips are off-center. “Almost all of these aren’t true,” he concluded.

In a follow-up video, he claimed that the reasons most people are told they need to go to a chiropractor are “overblown or just flat out lies proven wrong by research.” He also noted that, while there are many scams, that “doesn’t mean you can’t get help from a chiropractor.”

In a third TikTok video, Zierke offered some valid reasons to see a chiropractor. He said that one can seek help from a chiropractor if one has musculoskeletal pain that has been ongoing for more than one to two days, and that’s about it. He stated that issues that a chiropractor couldn’t really fix include “GI pain, hormonal issues, nutrition,” among others.

In comments, users were largely supportive of Zierke’s message.

One said: “As a physiotherapist, I’ve been trying to tell this but I don’t want to like offend any chiropractor in doing so,” a commenter shared.

“Working in a chiropractic office, this is fair,” a further user wrote. “I have issues that I know an adjustment will help & other pain that would be better stretched/released.”

In an email, Zierke reiterated the intention of his videos: “I would just like to clarify that chiropractors, in general, are not a scam or are inherently scammers (I myself am a practicing chiropractor), but rather a lot of very popular sales tactics, phrases, and wording used to imply patients need treatment, and methods of treatment, have never been proven to be true,” he explained. “When chiropractors say & use these methods stating things that are not factually true—I believe it’s scammy behavior and practices. There are still a lot of very good, honest, and integral chiropractors out there,” he concluded. “They can provide a lot of help and relief to patients. But that’s unfortunately not the majority, and I’ve heard too many stories of people falling victim to some of these scam-like tactics from bad apple chiropractors.”

None of what DC Zierke said can surprise those who have been following my blog. On the contrary, I could add a few recent posts to his criticism of chiropractic, for example:

I rest my case.

For many years, Dr. Natalie Grams-Nobmann provided evidence-based medical information on social media – including on homeopathy, other forms of so-called alternative medicine, and more recently the COVID pandemic. These activities deservedly earned her plenty of praise but sadly they also made her the target of intolerant, occasionally aggressive people who disagree with the evidence. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Natalie has recently deleted her Twitter account. To explain her decision, she gave an interview to Marc Zimmer, MDR AKTUELL. With Natalie’s permission, I have translated sections of it and re-publish them here:

Q: What do you think about the case of your Austrian colleague?
A: The case has affected and frightened me terribly. I followed Kellermayr’s work and everything that came afterward. It is simply a terrible example of how little protection one has as a doctor or vaccination educator on social media. It also is a terrible example of how this “hate” does not stay in the realm of social media but spills over into real life. And that we have nothing to counter this “hate”.

Q: You yourself have also drawn consequences and deleted your Twitter account. Can you explain this step?
A: After seven years of vaccination education and medical education on social media, I thought I couldn’t take it anymore. I can’t stand looking into this hell where people celebrate the death of another human being, the suicide of another human being – and see that as an admission of guilt of this really threatened and persecuted doctor and rise above it like that. I think that when even the death of a human being is no longer free of gloating and hatred, then ideology is above everything. I didn’t know how to deal with it anymore. And, of course, it also scared me. I think my death would be celebrated in the same way, and I find that terribly frightening in human terms.

Q: To what extent have you experienced threats so far?
A: … I’ve experienced an incredible amount of different forms of hate – be it threats, insults, slander, or persecution. This has also spilled over into real life for me. I have sometimes given lectures under police protection. I am very glad that it is still sensible to wear a mask in public spaces…  I think that in some cases it really is a life-threatening fear that you have to endure when you speak out on social or other media about vaccination protection or about protective measures. A lot of what you hear has to be reported and followed up. It is not the case that the internet is a lawless space or that my inbox simply has to swallow every insult in the world…

Q: You mentioned the platforms. What about politics? Do you feel supported enough by it and by the authorities?
A: No, not at all and that was certainly the case with the Austrian colleague. In desperation and panic, people turn to the police, and of course, there are individual female officers who react in an excellent way. But I have also heard things like: “Well, then don’t go out in public. Why do you do that? You’re doing it voluntarily, so you have to put up with it”. Or they say that it’s freedom of expression, that everyone is allowed to say anything… If no more discourse is possible, what am I supposed to do? I would like to be able to ensure that I remain objective, that I provide information and do not insult anyone. At the moment I simply don’t see myself in a position to do that because of the many threats.

Q: What do you wish from politics?
A: I would like politicians to draw the right conclusions from this: not just those who shout the loudest must be listened to. The ones who are silenced should be heard as well.

This “silencing” that I have been following throughout the pandemic is a terrible thing. The best and most factual discussants are disappearing more and more from the platforms. I haven’t insulted or threatened or unobjectively excoriated anyone in all my time on social media. Of course, you are allowed to make a joke or use satire. But you’re not allowed to put another person down. And the very people who have always managed to remain objective – despite the well-known strains during the pandemic – are now leaving and this should alarm us all.

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I do, of course, understand and respect Natalie’s decisions. Nevertheless, I am sad that she is partly withdrawing from public life. I feel that, in these difficult times, we need everyone who can contribute to more responsible information for the public. We must try to balance irrationality with rationality. Natalie is particularly gifted in doing just that (she is much more gentle and empathetic in the face of adversity than I, for instance). My hope, therefore, is that things improve, hatred recedes, and she is able to return to public life soon. Regardless of what she decides, I wish her well.

The UK Chiropractic Council is inviting you to help them re-formulate their educational standards. It is an occasion, some of my readers might find interesting. I, therefore, copy the relevant part of their announcement:

… Following a scoping review in 2021, which determined that the existing Education Standards, published in 2017, required development and updating, the GCC began revising the Education Standards in January 2022.

The revision will ensure that the Education Standards:

  • Provide a realistic and comprehensive set of outcomes to be met by graduates on approved qualifications, demonstrating an ability to practise in accordance with the GCC Code.
  • Take into account developments within the profession, increase focus on multi-disciplinary learning and different professions working more closely together across the UK, ensuring that graduates are well placed to meet the opportunities to care for patients in different contexts.
  • Remain consistent, as appropriate, with the outcomes set by other UK healthcare frameworks and standards.

Purpose: why we are consulting

This consultation sets out our draft Education Standards for providers and Learning Outcomes for students, which reflect and build on the evidence and feedback we have obtained through our scoping review.

We seek stakeholders’ views on these draft Education Standards to ensure our final proposals are future-proof and fit for purpose.

We welcome all responses to the consultation.


Documents

The draft Education Standards on which we invite comments.

The equality impact assessment of the Education Standards, with comments invited within the consultation.

The GCC Education Standards consultation document in Word format.


Ways to respond

Submissions to this consultation can be made online (see below) or by email at enquiries@gcc-uk.org (click here to download the consultation document).

It is advisable to make a copy of your submission to prevent the loss of information due to internet, portal or connectivity issues. This should be done before pressing the submit button.

Information in responses, including personal information, may need to be published or disclosed under the access to information regimes (mainly the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the General Data Protection Regulation, the Data Protection Act 2018, and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004).

The GCC is a data controller registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office. We use personal data to support our work as the regulatory body for chiropractors. We may share data with third parties to meet our statutory aims and objectives, and when using our powers and meeting our responsibilities.


Closing date

The deadline for responses to this consultation on the draft Education Standards is 16 September 2022 at noon. The consultation will be publicised and stakeholders will be invited to comment…

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Personally, I think the GCC desperately needs to improve its educational (and other) standards. They claim that, “as the regulator for chiropractors, our role is to protect the public”. The case of the late John Lawler is one of many examples to show how unfit for this purpose the GCC truly is.

So, perhaps you might want to contribute to the consultation with a view to making UK chiropractors less of a danger to the public?

 

I have been warning the public about the indirect dangers of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) for a very long time. It is now 25 years ago, for instance, that I published an article in the ‘European Journal of Pediatrics’ entitled “The attitude against immunisation within some branches of complementary medicine“. Here is the discussion section of this paper:

… certain groupings within COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE (CM) may advise their patients against immunisation. Within these groupings, there is, of course, a considerable diversity of attitudes towards immunisation. Therefore
generalisations are difficult and more detailed investigations are required to clarify the issue.

The question arises whether the level of advice against immunisation as it exists today represents a real or only a potential risk. One study from the U.K. demonstrates homoeopathy to be the most prevalent reason for non-compliance with immunisation [30]. The problem may not be confined to naturopathy, chiropractic and homoeopathy. Books relating to CM in general [e.g. 19] also strongly advise against immunisation: “Vaccination may provoke the illness which it is supposed to prevent. People who are vaccinated can transmit the illness, even if they are not ill themselves. The vaccine can make the person more susceptible to the illness … The vaccinated child is a contaminated child”.

At present, our data is insufficient to de®ne which proportion of which complementary practitioners share this
attitude. The origin of this stance against vaccination is largely unknown. For instance, there is nothing in Hahnemann’s writings against immunisation [14]. It may therefore stem from a general antipathy toward modern medicine which seems to be prevalent within CM [7, 19, 23]. A more specific reason is that immunisation is viewed as detrimental, burdened with long-term side effects. It is also felt that it is not fully effective and unnecessary because
better methods of protection exist within CM [16].

Anti-immunisation activists are often unable to argue their case rationally, yet they place advertisements in the daily press warning about immunisation. In Britain, one tragic case has recently been publicised. A physician advised parents against measles vaccination for their child who was suspected of suffering from convulsions. Five years later, the child suffered severe brain damage after contracting measles. The doctor was sued by the parents and found guilty of negligence and ordered to pay £825,000 in damages [1].

In medicine we must, of course, always be vigilant about the risks of our interventions. Each form of immunisation should therefore be continuously scrutinised for its possible risks and benefits. Most forms of immunisation are clearly not entirely free of risk [e.g. 22] – in fact, no effective intervention will ever be entirely risk-free. Therefore the risks have to be discounted against the benefits. It follows that any blanket rejection of immunisation, in general, must be misleading. It endangers not only the individual patient but (if prevalent) also the herd immunity of the community at large. Such unreflected rejection of immunisation, in general, will inevitably do more harm than good.

It is concluded that the advice of some, by no means all complementary practitioners in relation to immunisation represents an area for concern, which requires further research. Complementary practitioners and patients alike should be educated about the risks and benefits of immunisation. Paediatricians should be informed about the present negative attitude of some complementary practitioners and discuss the issue openly with their patients.

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I suspect that, had we heeded my caution, researched the subject more thoroughly, and taken appropriate action, the current pandemic might have produced fewer and less vocal anti-vaxxers, and fewer patients might have died.

On 18/7/2022 the ‘WORLD FEDERATION OF CHIROPRACTIC’ published a statement on cervical artery dissection (CAD). Below are a few  excerpts to which I have added a few numbers [in brackets] which refer to my comments below:

… On rare occasions, CAD has been reported to have occurred after a patient visited a chiropractor or other provider of manual therapy [1]. However, the best evidence available to date indicates that spinal manipulation does not stress the arteries enough to cause tearing of the arteries leading to dissection-related strokes [2]. Additional studies have concluded that patients are as likely to have consulted a primary care physician as receive spinal manipulation from a chiropractor prior to experiencing a CAD-related stroke [3]…

The provision of safe, high-quality, evidence-based, patient-centered care for these and other conditions is a priority for the chiropractic profession [4]. Rigorous research is core to the pursuit of that objective [5]. We urge caution in making claims that are in conflict with the current state of the evidence.

About the WFC

The World Federation of Chiropractic is an international, non-governmental organization whose members are the national associations of over 90 countries in seven world regions. It is a non-state actor in official relations with the World Health Organization and is the global authority for matters related to the chiropractic profession [6]…

References

Cassidy JD, Boyle E, Côté P, He Y, Hogg-Johnson S, Silver FL, Bondy SJ. Risk of Vertebrobasilar Stroke and Chiropractic Care: Results of a Population-Based Case-Control and Case-Crossover Study. Eur Spine J. 2008 Apr;17(Suppl 1):176–83. Open access here.#

Chaibi A, Russell MB. A risk-benefit assessment strategy to exclude cervical artery dissection in spinal manual-therapy: a comprehensive review. Ann Med. 2019 Mar;51(2):118-127. Open access here.

Church EW, Sieg EP, Zalatimo O, Hussain NS, Glantz M, Harbaugh RE. Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Chiropractic Care and Cervical Artery Dissection: No Evidence for Causation. Cureus. 2016 Feb 16;8(2):e498. Open access here.

Kosloff TM, Elton D, Tao J, Bannister WM. Chiropractic care and the risk of vertebrobasilar stroke: results of a case-control study in U.S. commercial and Medicare Advantage populations. Chiropr Man Therap. 2015 Jun 16;23:19. Open access here.

Rubinstein SM, Peerdeman SM, van Tulder MW, Riphagen I, Haldeman S. A systematic review of the risk factors for cervical artery dissection. Stroke. 2005 Jul;36(7):1575-80. Open access here.

Whedon JM, Mackenzie TA, Phillips RB, Lurie JD. Risk of traumatic injury associated with chiropractic spinal manipulation in Medicare Part B beneficiaries aged 66 to 99 years. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2015 Feb 15;40(4):264-70. Open access here

Here are my brief comments based on the evidence discussed in dozens of posts previously published on this blog:

  1. As there is no post-marketing surveillance, nobody can say with any degree of confidence that CADs after chiropractic are rare.
  2. This is not the ‘best’ evidence. In fact, it has been refuted repeatedly.
  3. This study has also been refuted.
  4. Chiropractic is very far from being evidence-based.
  5. Rigorous research fails to show that chiropractic neck manipulations generate more good than harm.
  6. The WFC is a lobby group for chiropractic; its mission is ” to advance awareness, utilization, and integration of chiropractic internationally”. Its current director is Richard Brown who spear-headed the disaster when the BCA sued Simon Singh, lost, and caused immense reputational damage to chiropractic worldwide.

I recently looked at the list of best-sellers in homeopathy on Amazon. To my surprise, there were several books that were specifically focused on the homeopathic treatment of children. Since we had, several years ago, published a systematic review of this subject, these books interested me. Here is what Amazon tells us about them:

No 1

Homeopathic remedies are increasingly being used to treat common childhood ailments. They are safe, have no side effects or allergic reactions, are inexpensive and, above all, effective. In this guide, Dana Ullman explains what homeopathy is, how it works and how you can use it correctly to enhance your child’s health. He recommends remedies for more than 75 physical and emotional conditions, including: allergies, grief, anxiety, headaches, asthma, measles, bedwetting, nappy rash, bites and stings, shock, burns, sunburn, colic, teething, coughs and colds and travel sickness

Without doubt, this is the most comprehensive book on homeopathic pediatrics. Included is a complete guide to the correct use of homeopathy, recommended remedies for the treatment of more than seventy-five common physical, emotional, and behavioral conditions, and valuable information on the essential medicines that all parents should have in their home medicine kits

No 2

Tricia Allen, a qualified homeopath, offers a host of practical advice on how to treat illness using natural, homeopathic remedies. Homeopathy differs from conventional medicine in that it does not only alleviate the individual symptoms of an illness, but treats the underlying state to ensure that the disease does not return, something which rarely occurs when using traditional remedies. This guide gives you advice on; what homeopathy is and how to use it; each stage of childhood and how to deal with the complaints that occur at that time of a child’s development; the most common childhood illnesses, how to take your own steps to treating them, which homeopathic remedies to use and when to seek medical help and first aid.

No 3

The Homeopathic Treatment of Children is indispensible at giving both a clear overall impression of the various major constitutional types, and also a detailed outline for reference at the end of each chapter. Not only does Paul Herscu draw from various sources (repertories and materia medica), he also adds indispensable original information from his successful practice.

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The fact that such books exist is perhaps not all that surprising. Yet, I do find the fact that they are among the best-selling books on homeopathy surprising – or to be more precise, I find it concerning.

Why?

Simple: children cannot give informed consent to the treatments they receive. Thus, consent is given for them by their parents or (I suspect often) not at all. This renders homeopathic treatment of children more problematic than that of fully competent adults.

Homeopathy has not been shown to be effective for any pediatric condition. I know Dana Ullman disagrees and claims it works for children’s allergies, grief, anxiety, headaches, asthma, measles, bedwetting, nappy rash, bites and stings, shock, burns, sunburn, colic, teething, coughs and colds, and travel sickness. Yet, these claims are not based on anything faintly resembling sound evidence! Our above-mentioned systematic review reached the following conclusion: “The evidence from rigorous clinical trials of any type of therapeutic or preventive intervention testing homeopathy for childhood and adolescence ailments is not convincing enough for recommendations in any condition.”

And what follows from this state of affairs?

I am afraid it is this:

Treating sick children with homeopathy amounts to child abuse.

Today, I received an email advertising a book – nothing unusual, of course. But the book and its author are both quite unusual. Here is the text:

Dr. Farokh J. Master’s birth into homeopathy was in the year 1976, when he joined Bombay homeopathic medical college, after giving up his studies at the orthodox school of medicine. Dr Master was instrumental in starting homeopathic out-patient dept in many allopathic hospitals viz. Bombay Hospital, KEM Hospital & Ruby Hall, Pune. Besides his work as a senior Homeopath of the HHC, Dr. Farokh Master is teaching homeopathy (advanced level) at the Mumbai Homeopathic Medical College, part of Mumbai university. He is also teaching at other homeopathic colleges in India and abroad. He has given seminars in various countries like Austria, Australia, India, Japan etc…

Healing Cancer: A Homoeopathic Approach

As a homeopath one should not deter oneself in dealing with any type of cases, be it cancer. But for executing that an ultimate guidance is needed. Cancer is so much prevalent and challenging medical problem of today that a trustworthy source of accurate information becomes pertinent and this work of Dr. Farokh Master immediately propels at the top of quality books for cancer. Based on Master’s  40  years of experience this book was written for students to understand the basis of oncology and for practitioners for brushing-up of their knowledge in this growing discipline. Author says that to get a grasp on cancer cases we should believe in the potential of the homeopathic treatment, that healing from cancer refers to internal process of becoming whole and feeling harmonious with yourself and your environment.To even start with handling the cases of cancer one should be aware of understanding of cancer, its cause, pathophysiology, different types, conventional treatment and their side effects, integrative medicines, social problems in the treatment, such topics are well casted by Volume 1 of the book…•    A whole chapter on Cadmium salts and cancer.•    51 “lesser known remedies” are briefly quoted and their usefulness in different situations and types of cancer exposed.•    A long chapter deals with the “Indian drugs”, it is important that these remedies are used mostly in tincture or low potencies, as herbal or Ayurvedic remedies or food supplements relieving the patients. •    The choice and differentiation between the remedies is then helped by the “Repertory of Cancer”, very well compiled and a highly useful section. “Clinical tips from my practice” given as a sub-chapter. •    It ends with recommendations on how to deal with radiation illness and the side-effects of conventional treatment, as well as the treatment of pain and help with palliative care. For fighting and curing cancer and improving the quality and quantity of life of people, knowledge of Homeopathy, both philosophically and scientifically is needed which this work of art portrays delightfully.

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It is clear that Dr. Farokh J. Master does not suggest using homeopathy in addition to conventional cancer therapies. He foremost wants to employ it as an alternative cancer cure. It is also clear that, if his concepts were generally adopted, they could kill millions.

Some defenders of homeopathy might claim that this is not what most homeopaths would advocate; they would merely recommend homeopathy as an adjunct to conventional oncology. Yet, there are many examples to the contrary, and not just from India – after all, Hahnemann, the inventor of homeopathy, insisted that homeopathy must never be combined with ‘allopathic’ medicines.

So, the next time someone claims homeopathy to be harmless, please show them this post.

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