As discussed regularly on this blog, there is plenty of evidence to show that many chiropractors, homeopaths, and naturopaths discourage their patients from getting vaccinated. Now, a further investigation from the US seems to confirm these findings.
The data from the 2017 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS; n = 26,742; response rate 80.7%) was used for this purpose. Prevalences of flu vaccination, consultations with SCAM practitioners in the past 12 months, and their potential interactions were examined.
A total of 42.7% of participants had received the flu vaccination in the past 12 months, 32.4% had seen one or more SCAM practitioners. Users of any type of SCAM were as likely as non-users to have received a flu vaccination (44.8% users versus 41.7% non-users; p = 0,862; adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.01, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.95-1.07).
Regarding specific SCAMs, individuals consulting with
- naturopaths (p < 0.001; AOR = 0.67, 95 %CI = 0.54-0.82),
- homeopaths (p < 0.001; AOR = 0.55; 95 %CI = 0.44-0.69),
- chiropractors (p = 0.016; AOR = 0.9, 95 %CI = 0.83-0.98)
were less likely, while other SCAM approaches showed no significant association with flu vaccination behavior. Independent predictors for a flu shot were prior diabetes, cancer, current asthma, kidney disease, overweight and current pregnancy. As well, higher educational level, age, ethnicity, health insurance coverage, and having seen a general physician or medical specialist in the past 12 months were also associated with a higher vaccination rate.
The authors concluded that SCAM users were equally likely to receive an influenza vaccination compared with non-users. Different complementary therapies showed varied associations with vaccination behavior. Further analyses may be needed to distinguish influencing factors among patients’ vaccination behavior.
This investigation confirms the prevalent anti-vax stance within chiropractic, homeopathy, and naturopathy. The effect is strongest by far with homeopaths. Nothing new! We knew this for a very long time. The question is WHAT ARE WE DOING ABOUT IT? Or more specifically, are the professional organizations of these SCAM professions finally going to take any actions against even the most rabid anti-vaxxers in their midst?
And the answer?
You guessed it: NO!
And the irony of all this must not get lost here: chiropractors, homeopaths, naturopaths, and their respective organizations all pride themselves regularly that they attribute particular importance to disease prevention.
The ‘International Chiropractors Association’ (ICA) has just issued a statement entitled “International Chiropractors Association Affirms Policy on Health Freedom“. On the background of the fact that US President Biden, issued a series of Executive Orders related to mandating federal employees and federal contractors to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the ICA try to explain their position regarding vaccinations. Here are a few passages from this statement:
…In a world of public health that promotes evidence-based decision making, we see the importance of natural immunity being ignored and replaced with a totalitarian approach of compulsory vaccination. At a time when the Surgeon General says misinformation has become an urgent threat to public health, misinformation is now being used in an attempt to discredit the chiropractic profession, the International Chiropractors Association, and all chiropractic patients who desire to focus on improving health naturally. After enduring 18 months of shutdowns, lockdowns, flattening the curve, masking, limitations of speech on social media; and a cancel culture environment that threatens the basic freedoms our country was founded upon in 1776, ICA will not compromise on the importance of protecting health freedom…
The ICA Policy on Immunization and Vaccination has remained unchanged for almost 50 years and clearly states:
“The International Chiropractors Association recognizes that the use of vaccines is not without risk and questions the wisdom of mass vaccination programs. Chiropractic principles favor the enhancement of natural immunity over artificial immunization.
The ICA supports each individual’s right to select his or her own health care and to be made aware of the possible adverse effects of vaccines upon a human body. In accordance with such principles and based upon the individual’s right to freedom of choice, the ICA is opposed to compulsory programs which infringe upon such rights.
The International Chiropractors Association is supportive of a conscience clause or waiver in compulsory vaccination laws, providing an elective course of action for all regarding immunization, thereby allowing patients freedom of choice in matters affecting their bodies and health.”
The International Chiropractors Association maintains that all healthcare interventions, including the chiropractic adjustment, are associated with some level of risk and that every individual is entitled to be informed of those risks, no matter how insignificant. All individuals must retain the freedom to accept or reject any healthcare product, procedure, or medication including vaccinations. The International Chiropractors Association therefore strongly opposes the use of medical mandates that violate personal sovereignty, violate the principles of informed consent, and constrain the rights of patients to make their own health care choices…
The ICA encourages the recognition that natural efforts to enhance the innate immune system ability to adapt to novel viruses are grounded in science and rejects the notion that the patients’ freedom to rely on naturally acquired immunity is not based upon unscientific beliefs.
The ICA rejects the premise that the chiropractic profession’s long history of promoting health freedom and supporting conscientious exemptions is based upon unscientific or non-mainstream beliefs…
I find this statement clear as mud and have the following questions:
- Do the ICA recommend vaccinations?
- In particular, do they encourage their members to get vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccines?
- Do they advise to recommend COVID-19 vaccinations to their patients?
- Or do they think that natural immunity is preferable and advise their members and patients accordingly?
- Do they believe that spinal manipulation enhances natural immunity?
- Do they think that spinal manipulations are an effective alternative to COVID-19 vaccinations?
- Do they believe that scientific evidence trumps dogma or vice versa?
- Which of the two should, according to their conviction, must influence the decision-making processes in healthcare?
- If the ICA object to misinformation about COVID, why do they not stop their members from promoting it?
- What makes them think that information about the possible adverse effects of vaccines upon a human body is unavailable?
- If the ICA recognizes the risks of spinal manipulation, why do they not inform the public about them regularly and objectively?
- If the ICA knows about the importance of informed consent, why do not all of their members adhere to it?
- And finally, why do the ICA insist on the term ‘international’ in the name of their organization, if they purely deal with the US situation?
I do not expect the ICA to give me the answers to these questions. But perhaps their Wiki page goes some way towards answering some of them: “… The ICA supports the efforts of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC). The NVIC is known for promoting false and misleading information about vaccines, in particular the discredited claim that vaccines cause autism.
The ICA’s annual conferences have featured anti-vaccination propaganda. In 2018 Guest Speaker Beau Pierce (Pierce co-produced a series entitled Vaccines Revealed) hosted a session entitled Vaccines Revealed., and Jeff Hays, known for producing the anti-Vaccine propaganda Vaccines Revealed, was invited to host a session the 2017 ICA Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics Annual Conference. In 2016 the widely discredited anti-vaccination propaganda film VAXXED was shown at a conference sponsored by the ICA’s Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics …”
SAY NO MORE!
Germany seems to have a significant problem with anti-vaxxers. Today, only 68% of the population has had a COVID vaccination. In the UK and France, these figures are 72% and 75% respectively.
This study investigated the willingness to vaccinate of parents of minors and people without children who are minors. The investigation was based on a random sample of Germans (telephone survey, n = 2,014, collected between 12 November and 10 December 2020). The evaluation is primarily based on the sub-sample of people with minors in the household (n = 461).
Parents of minors consistently show a lower willingness to be vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine than respondents without minors (54.1% vs 71.1%). Fathers show a stronger willingness to be vaccinated than mothers. Furthermore, men are more willing to get their own child vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine than are women.
The authors concluded that among parents and especially mothers, a considerable misrepresentation of vaccination risks and frequent beliefs in vaccination conspiracy theories can be observed. Clear and easily understandable information on the effects and side effects of vaccination with a COVID-19 vaccine by relevant institutions and physicians is recommended.
And what has this to do with so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) and homeopathy?
In the results section of the paper, the authors report interesting additional findings (my translation):
In the total sample, a significantly higher willingness to vaccinate is associated with the rejection of “alternative healing methods”. There is also a significant correlation between the attitude towards homeopathy and one’s own willingness to vaccinate: if homeopathy is supported, the willingness to vaccinate is lower. This correlation between the attitude towards homeopathy and willingness to vaccinate is also evident in the sub-sample of parents. Among parents, it is again women who significantly more often have a positive attitude towards homeopathy than men, who more often do not think anything of it.
The authors also report that the parents were asked: “If a vaccine against the coronavirus is approved in Germany, would you get vaccinated?” CERTAINLY NOT was the answer of:
- 41% of homeopathy fans
- 10% of people who thought nothing at all about homeopathy
- 15% of participants who were not fully convinced by homeopathy
Yes, Germany seems to have a problem with the anti-vaccination brigade but it seems that at the heart of it is a problem with a homeopathy cult.
This article from AP News caught my attention. Here it is (I haven’t changed a word):
The flashy postcard, covered with images of syringes, beckoned people to attend Vax-Con ’21 to learn “the uncensored truth” about COVID-19 vaccines.
Participants traveled from around the country to a Wisconsin Dells resort for a sold-out convention that was, in fact, a sea of misinformation and conspiracy theories about vaccines and the pandemic. The featured speaker was the anti-vaccine activist who appeared in the 2020 movie “Plandemic,” which pushed false COVID-19 stories into the mainstream. One session after another discussed bogus claims about the health dangers of mask wearing and vaccines.
The convention was organized by members of a profession that has become a major purveyor of vaccine misinformation during the pandemic: chiropractors.
At a time when the surgeon general says misinformation has become an urgent threat to public health, an investigation by The Associated Press found a vocal and influential group of chiropractors has been capitalizing on the pandemic by sowing fear and mistrust of vaccines.
They have touted their supplements as alternatives to vaccines, written doctor’s notes to allow patients to get out of mask and immunization mandates, donated large sums of money to anti-vaccine organizations and sold anti-vaccine ads on Facebook and Instagram, the AP discovered. One chiropractor gave thousands of dollars to a Super PAC that hosted an anti-vaccine, pro-Donald Trump rally near the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
They have also been the leading force behind anti-vaccine events like the one in Wisconsin, where hundreds of chiropractors from across the U.S. shelled out $299 or more to attend. The AP found chiropractors were allowed to earn continuing education credits to maintain their licenses in at least 10 states.
On this blog, I have often discussed that chiropractors tend to be anti-vax. It all goes back to their founding father, DD Palmer, who famously wrote:
- Vaccination and inoculation are pathological; chiropractic is physiological,
- and who in 1894, published his views on smallpox vaccination: ‘…the monstrous delusion … fastened on us by the medical profession, enforced by the state boards, and supported by the mass of unthinking people …’
- and who stated in 1896 that keeping tissue healthy is therefore the best prevention against infections; and this is best achieved by magnetic healing.
But that’s long ago! We are not like that anymore! … say the chiros of today.
Do you believe them?
If so, you might want to read this article by Jann Bellamy. Or alternatively, just look at some of my finds from the Internet:
Exploring preventive therapeutic measures has been among the biggest challenges during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). A team of Indian and US researchers explored the feasibility and methods of recruitment, retention, and potential signal of efficacy, of selected homeopathic medicines as a preventive measure for developing COVID-19 in a multi-group study.
A six-group, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled prophylaxis study was conducted in a COVID-19 exposed population in a quarantine facility in Mumbai, India. Each group received one of the following:
- Arsenicum album 30c,
- Bryonia alba 30c,
- Arsenicum album 30c, Bryonia alba 30c, Gelsemium sempervirens 30c, and Influenzinum 30c
- coronavirus nosode CVN01 30c,
- Camphora 1M,
Six pills twice a day were administered for 3 days. The primary outcome measure used was testing recruitment and retention in this quarantined setting. Secondary outcomes were numbers testing positive for COVID-19 after developing symptoms of illness, the number of subjects hospitalized, and days to recovery.
Good rates of recruitment and retention were achieved. Of 4,497 quarantined individuals, 2,343 sought enrollment, with 2,294 enrolled and 2,233 completing the trial (49.7% recruitment, 97.3% retention). Subjects who were randomized to either Bryonia alba (group 2) or to the CVN01 nosode (group 4) signaled a numerically lower incidence of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 and a shorter period of illness, with evidence of fewer hospitalizations than those taking placebo. The three other groups did not show signals of efficacy.
The authors concluded that this pilot study supports the feasibility of a larger randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Bryonia alba 30c and CVN01 30c should both be explored in disease prevention or shortening the course of disease symptomatology in a COVID-19-exposed population.
Signals of efficacy?
Are they kidding us?
The results failed to be statistically significant!
Hence the conclusions should be rewritten as follows:
This pilot study supports the feasibility of a larger trial in India where people have been told by an irresponsible government to believe in homeopathy. None of the 5 homeopathic treatments generated encouraging findings and none should be explored further. Studies of this nature must be discouraged firstly because homeopaths would not accept the findings of a trial of non-individualized homeopathy, and secondly because such trials will further confuse the public who might think that homeopathy is worth trying.
They say, one has to try everything at least once – except line-dancing and incest. So, when I was invited to co-organize a petition, I considered it and thought: WHY NOT?
Here is the text (as translated by myself) of our petition to the German Medical Association:
Dear President Dr Reinhardt,
Dear Ms Lundershausen,
Dear Ms Johna,
We, the undersigned doctors, would like to draw your attention to the insistence of individual state medical associations on preserving “homeopathy” as a component of continuing medical education. We hope that you, by virtue of your office, will ensure a nationwide regulation so that this form of sham treatment , as has already happened in other European countries, can no longer call itself part of medicine.
We justify our request by the following facts:
- After the landmark vote in Bremen in September 2019 to remove “homeopathy” from the medical training regulations, 10 other state medical associations have so far followed Bremen’s example. For reasons of credibility and transparency, it would be desirable if the main features of the training content taught were not coordinated locally in the future, but centrally and uniformly across the country so that there is no “training tourism”. Because changes to a state’s own regulations of postgraduate training are only binding for the examination committee of the respective state, this does not affect national regulations but is reduced to only a symbolic character without sufficient effects on the portfolio of medical education nationwide.
- Medicine always works through the combination of a specifically effective part and non-specific placebo effects. By insisting on a pseudo-medical methodology – as is “homeopathy” represents in our opinion – patients are deprived of the specific effective part and often unnecessarily deprived of therapy appropriate to the indication. Tragically, it happens again and again that the “therapeutic window of opportunity” for an appropriate therapy is missed, tumors can grow to inoperable size, etc.
- Due to the insistence of individual state medical associations on the “homeopathic doctrine of healing” as part of the medical profession, we are increasingly exposed to the blanket accusation that, by tolerating this doctrine, we are supporting and promoting ways of thinking and world views that are detached from science. This is a dangerous situation, which in times of a pandemic manifests itself in misguided aggression reflected not just in vaccination skepticism and vaccination refusal, but also in unacceptable personal attacks and assaults on vaccinating colleagues in private practice.
Dr. med. Dent. Hans-Werner Bertelsen
Prof. Dr. med. Edzard Ernst
George A. Rausche
You can sign the petition here:
Prior research has generated inconsistent results regarding vaccination rates among patients using so-called alternative medicine (SCAM). Given that SCAM includes a wide range of therapies – about 400 different treatments have been counted – variable vaccination patterns may occur within consultations with different types of SCAM practitioners.
A recent analysis aimed to evaluate differences between categories of SCAM regarding vaccination behavior among US adults.
were less likely to be vaccinated. Other SCAMs showed no significant association with flu vaccination behavior. Independent predictors for a flu shot were prior diabetes, cancer, current asthma, kidney disease, overweight and current pregnancy. As well, higher educational level, age, ethnicity, health insurance coverage, and having seen a general physician or medical specialist in the past 12 months were also associated with a higher vaccination rate.
The authors concluded that SCAM users were equally likely to receive an influenza vaccination compared with non-users. Different SCAM therapies showed varied associations with vaccination behavior. Further analyses may be needed to distinguish influencing factors among patients’ vaccination behavior.
This survey confirms what we have discussed repeatedly on this blog (see, for instance here, here, here, here, and here). The reason why consumers who consult naturopaths, homeopaths, or chiropractors get vaccinated less regularly is presumably that these practitioners tend to advise against vaccinations. And why do they do that?
- Naturopaths claim that vaccines are toxic and their therapeutic options protect against infections.
- Homeopaths claim that vaccines are toxic and their therapeutic options protect against infections.
- Chiropractors claim that vaccines are toxic and their therapeutic options protect against infections.
Do these ‘therapeutic options’ – detox, nosodes, spinal manipulation – have anything in common?
Yes, they are bogus!
Many naturopaths, homeopaths, and chiropractors seem to be a risk to public health.
By guest blogger Ken McLeod
RICHARD MICHAEL NILSSON is the owner of Colloidal Minerals Australia Pty Ltd, ACN 003 484 955, of Wyongah New South Wales (NSW), Australia. On August 13 he was convicted in the Wyong Court, after pleading guilty to offences including intimidation with intent to cause fear of physical or mental harm.
Nilsson is a prolific antivaxxer, deluging unlucky politicians, journalists, health officials, etc with emails containing misinformation about vaccines and warning of the dire consequences to come to anyone involved in vaccination programs. He has been known to harass and threaten. Usually recipients have better things to do than engage with a crank, but he has been known to go too far.
As the Sydney Daily Telegraph reported on 14 August 2021: “Anti-vaccine activist Richard Nilsson pleads guilty to sending death threats.”
“A Central Coast anti-vaccine campaigner who sent death threats to The Sunday Telegraph journalist Jane Hansen has pleaded guilty to the charge of using intimidation to unlawfully influence a person.
“Richard Nilsson, 66, from Wyongah, sent an email to Ms Hansen’s work email address on the evening of February 27.
“The subject of the email was “WHEN IS A MURDER WARRANTED? YOURS, YES?”
The contents of the email read: ‘I am proposing that your murder might well be a celebration of not life but death! And what a celebrated and glorious one at that!
‘I know ten thousand that would do it, but of course it only needs one and you will never know until it is too late!
‘I expect you might meet your maker, maybe in the near future … the sooner the better, yes?’
“Ms Hansen has reported widely on vaccination since 2013 when The Sunday Telegraph launched the No Jab No Play campaign, and more recently has reported on the vaccine rollout for Covid-19.
“On February 27, the evening the email was sent, Sky News re-ran a documentary made by Ms Hansen called Big Shots, which looked at anti-vaccine activity in relation to the pandemic and the vaccine rollout.
“Mr Nilsson followed up his email with another with the subject line: “WHEN IS SLUT NOT A SLUT AND IS A SELECTIVE SLUT STILL A SLUT?” before launching into a barrage of abuse.
“Mr Nilsson, who runs a business selling colloidal silver, faced Wyong Court on August 11 and pleaded guilty to a charge of use intimidation/violence to unlawfully influence a person.
“He received an 18-month Community Corrections Order to be of good behaviour.
“Ms Hansen said threats to journalists who write on the subject of vaccination were not unusual but Mr Nilsson’s emails were unsettling in their violence.
‘All journalists get abused on occasion, especially on the currently highly emotive topic of vaccination, and mostly it is best ignored but this email was next level and no one should have to put up with such vile abuse,’ she said.
“Mr Nilsson is well known by politicians, who have also received numerous emails from him suggesting all manner of conspiracies, including that Covid vaccination is a mass depopulation exercise.”
Nilsson appeared before His Honour Ian Guy in case number 2021/00159728, R V Richard Michael Nilsson. He was convicted of stalking or intimidation with intent to cause fear of physical or mental harm, an offence under section 13 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (NSW). This attracts a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment and/or $5,500. He could also have been convicted of using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence, an offence under section 474.17 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Commonwealth of Australia). That carries a maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment.
He was sentenced to a Community Corrections Order requiring him to be of good behaviour.
A rational person would have thought themselves lucky that they had avoided years of a high-fibre low-calorie diet of porridge and baked beans, but we are not dealing with a rational person here.
Hardly was the ink dry on the Court file, than on the 15th, two days after he was found guilty, Nilsson pounded his foam-flecked keyboard and sent another rant in an email to 130 people and organisations, including politicians, Skeptics groups, a Radiation Oncologist, government departments, doctors, political parties, people in the horse-racing industry, scientists, journalists, lobby groups including climate and conservation organisations, mental health groups, the National Security Hotline, and a coal mining company.
It reads: “Subject: FW: The Hidden Victims of the Covid Vaccine and why I included you all in this email…
“When will it be that enough lives have been ruined and enough have been murdered? And when will the maiming and the killing end?
“My hope is that some of you here own up and confess (I know who among you are in this group and I suspect in time you will all pay a heavy price for your crimes and transgressions), while others it is incumbent upon you to inform all those you purport to represent that the maiming and killing that has transpired and of course is inevitably and scheduled to transpire will continue until such time we say: f_ ck you!
“I know, and some of you know too, who the traitors are. Scott Morrison is just one and Greg Hunt is another and of course Jane Halton, Brendan Murphy and Paul Kelly are other worthless humans and are included and we know they are just tools – plasticised and fake as they are.
“I have an incomplete list of those who need to answer for their crimes and it does not include all I have included in this email.
“Add a Mr Skerrit. His evilness is seen in his face and in his utterings and communications and his connection with Jane Halton and the WHO and the so-called, Australian Health (sickness proliferation) Dep’t and Event 201 should not be lost on anyone with brain cells that still operate and are able to coordinate.
“Wake the f_ _k up!”
All emphases and redactions above are as in Nilsson’s email. Scott Morrison is the Prime Minister, Greg Hunt the Commonwealth Minister for Health, Brendan Murphy is a former Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Australia and now Secretary of the Department of Health. Paul Kelly is the current Chief Medical Officer, the “Mr Skerrit” he refers to is Adjunct Professor John Skerritt, Deputy Secretary, Health Products Regulation Group, Therapeutics Goods Administration. “Jane Halton” is a former Secretary of the Commonwealth Dept of Health, now Council Member of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
The “Event 201” that Nilsson refers to was a tabletop exercise conducted in October 2019 by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (CHS), the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in New York City. According to the CHS, “[t]he exercise illustrated areas where public/private partnerships will be necessary during the response to a severe pandemic in order to diminish large-scale economic and societal consequences”.
Event 201 simulated the effects of a fictional coronavirus originating in bats but passing to humans via pigs. Claims that Event 201 was a rehearsal for the COVID-19 pandemic have been debunked by fact-checking outlets such as USA Today and FullFact, but facts have never matter to antivax conspiracy theorists and other assorted cranks. All emergency response authorities and health bureaucracies conduct exercises to identify threats and to develop and improve response plans. There was nothing unusual in “Event 201” except in the fevered imaginations of nutters and fruitloops.
Does Nilsson, with no qualifications whatsoever, really think that he knows more about emergency response and immunology than those distinguished experts, and all the scientists researching Covid19 and vaccines? How does 20 minutes reading email conspiracy theories trump PhDs, professorships and Nobel Prizes? How conceited does someone have to be to imagine that? Where is the boundary between conceit and dementia? So does accusing honourable people of ‘crimes and transgressions,’ ‘maiming and killing,’ being ‘traitors,’ are evil tools, ‘who need to answer for their crimes’ constitute the good behaviour that the Court imposed? And coming within hours of the Court hearing?
Watch this space.
It has been reported that an Australian naturopath would refuse entry to her business to anyone who has received a COVID-19 vaccine in the past two weeks. In her original Facebook post, Ms. Holland said that vaccinated people would have to wait a minimum of two weeks after vaccination before attending her clinic due to “the shedding of spike proteins” caused by “these experimental treatments”.
Christine Pope, who is on the Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS) board of directors, said she believed the views shared by the Warrnambool naturopath were part of the alternative medicine sector’s “fringe” and didn’t represent the industry. “We’re always very careful to tell our practitioners about posting appropriately and within their scope of practice,” Ms. Pope said. “These sort of comments to me look like they’re outside their scope of practice. We do a lot of training about making sure that you’re posting appropriately within your scope of practice and about things about which you are qualified in. As an association supporting natural medicine practitioners, it’s not really our job to promote or comment on the vaccination program – we’re not public health experts … and this is really outside my scope of practice. But from a public health perspective (vaccination) is the best option we’ve got.”
Sharon Holland, who runs a clinic in Warrnambool, cited on Facebook a number of discredited medical professionals who have become figureheads of the anti-vax and COVID conspiracy movements, including Judy Mikovits, Robert Malone, Peter McCullogh, and J Bart Classen. “Often de-bunked and fact-checked (by whom) can mean silenced,” Ms. Holland wrote. “We still have free speech available to some extent. This is a very emotive and divisive subject so my post was bound to ‘ruffle feathers’.”
The ATMS says its accredited practitioners need to “stay within their scope of practice” and avoid posting about vaccines they haven’t studied. Ms. Pope urged people to lodge a complaint about bogus health claims through the ATMS website or the healthcare complaint commissioner in the appropriate state.
This course of events begs several questions. In my view, the most important are:
- Is Sharon Holland an exception, or are many/most naturopaths of her opinion?
- Instructing practitioners about “posting appropriately and within their scope of practice” sounds fine but might miss the point entirely. What really matters are the messages ATMS members orally convey to their patients. Is there any evidence on this issue?
- Surely, the anti-vax sentiments of naturopaths must originate from their education. Is there any evidence as to what they are taught about the subject?
- Is the ATMS going to take action against Ms. Holland and other members who endanger the public with their anti-vax stance?
It was recently reported that about one-third of people who had been infected with COVID report suffering from long COVID:
- Some 37% of people experienced at least one symptom lasting 12 weeks or more
- Almost 15% said they had three or more symptoms for at least 12 weeks
- Long-term problems were more common in women, and with increasing age
- Higher weight, smoking, lower incomes, having a chronic illness, and having been hospitalized with Covid were linked to a higher chance of experiencing long-lasting symptoms
- Tiredness was one of the most common symptoms, and in people who were severely ill with Covid, shortness of breath was a dominant long-lasting symptom
These are worrying figures indeed. Common symptoms of ‘long COVID’ include persistent breathlessness, fatigue, and cough; less common symptoms are chest pain, palpitations, neurological and cognitive deficits, rashes, and gastrointestinal dysfunction. Several research papers describe abnormalities confirming pathophysiological damage ranging from abnormal blood tests to organ damage seen on MRI imaging or in postmortem findings.
Yes, there are good reasons to be worried. Yet others might see this situation as an opportunity. One does not need to be clairvoyant to predict that, in so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), long-COVID will be the next big thing. Whenever there is a new, common, difficult-to-treat condition, SCAM practitioners and SCAM entrepreneurs fall over themselves claiming that their therapy is the solution. Gwyneth Paltrow’s bizarre was one of the first with her methods of easing long Covid symptoms. The Hollywood star and snake oil saleswoman said she had embarked on a “keto and plant-based” regime on the advice of an alternative medicine doctor. And, of course, it did her a world of good … Gwyneth approves of anything that is alternative.
On Medline, we already find an abundance of articles such as this one:
There is currently no drug or therapy that can cure the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which is highly contagious and can be life-threatening in severe cases. Therefore, seeking potential effective therapies is an urgent task. An older female at the Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan, China, with a severe case of COVID-19 with significant shortness of breath and decrease in peripheral oxygen saturation (SpO2), was treated using manual acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine granule formula Fuzheng Rescue Lung with Xuebijing Injection in addition to standard care. The patient’s breath rate, SpO2, heart rate, ratio of neutrophil/lymphocyte (NLR), ratio of monocyte/lymphocyte (MLR), C-reactive protein (CRP), and chest computed tomography were monitored. Acupuncture significantly improved the patient’s breathing function, increased SpO2, and decreased her heart rate. Chinese herbal medicine might make the effect of acupuncture more stable; the use of herbal medicine also seemed to accelerate the absorption of lung infection lesions when its dosage was increased. The combination of acupuncture and herbs decreased NLR from 14.14 to 5.83, MLR from 1.15 to 0.33 and CRP from 15.25 to 6.01 mg/L. These results indicate that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, as adjuvants to standard care, might achieve better results in treating severe cases of COVID-19.
A telephone survey included 495 COVID patients in India. 26% of them said they had people used 161 SCAM products and home remedies during and after COVID infections. More than half of the participants (59.6%) among them had consumed Ayurvedic Kadha. Many respondents consumed more than one SCAM product or home remedy.
A recent review evaluated the effect of SCAM on COVID patients. A total of 14 studies performed on 972 COVID patients were included. The results suggested that different SCAM interventions (acupuncture, Traditional Chinese medicine [TCM], relaxation, Qigong) significantly improved various psychological symptoms (depression, anxiety, stress, sleep quality, negative emotions, quality of life) and physical symptoms (inflammatory factors, physical activity, chest pain, and respiratory function) of COVID patients. The authors concluded that various SCAM interventions have a positive effect on improving the various dimensions of coronavirus disease but since there are few studies in this regard, further studies using different CAM approaches are recommended.
This conclusion is, of course, pure wishful thinking; the available evidence is in fact more than flimsy, and claims of effectiveness are not justified. But will this stop SCAM enthusiasts to make such claims? I fear not. My prediction is that, as this homeopath already indicated, they will see COVID as an opportunity: For homeopathy, shunned during its 200 years of existence by conventional medicine, this outbreak is a key opportunity to show potentially the contribution it can make in treating COVID-19 patients.