What alternative health

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Including various reports on the BBC Newsnight programme (broadcast on 13th July 2006) which revealed that every one of ten randomly selected homeopathic clinics and pharmacies in London were willing to recommend its products as an alternative to proven prophylactic drugs for malaria.


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Various concerns

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“Homeopaths are offering ‘alternative vaccinations’ which doctors say could leave patients vulnerable to potentially fatal diseases, a BBC investigation has found. Three practitioners admitted giving patients a homeopathic medicine designed to replace the MMR vaccine…the British Medical Association's director of science and ethics, Dr Vivienne Nathanson, said: "Replacing proven vaccines, tested vaccines, vaccines that are used globally and we know are effective with homeopathic alternatives where there is no evidence of efficacy, no evidence of effectiveness, is extremely worrying because it could persuade families that their children are safe and protected when they're not. "And some of those children will go on to get the illness, and some of those children may go on to get permanent life-threatening sequelae, or even to die, and that's a tragedy when the family think they've protected their children."…The practice of replacing conventional vaccines with homeopathic alternatives has been condemned by the Faculty of Homeopathy. It said there was no evidence for homeopathic treatments being able to protect against diseases, and said patients should stick to conventional medicines.” BBC Scotland News report (13th September 2010)

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“Of particular worry in Japan is the use of a homeopathic sugar pill for babies. The treatment has spread among midwives as more women choose natural childbirth at home or at a midwife center instead of hospitals. After a damages suit resulting from the death of an infant, however, the Japanese Midwives' Association has begun looking into how widely the sugar remedy is being used among its 8,500 members. Some midwives give the pills to newborns in their care instead of Vitamin-K2 syrup, recommended by the health ministry to reduce risks of bleeding in the skull. In the trial that opened Wednesday at the Yamaguchi District Court, a 33-year-old woman is demanding 56 million yen ($655,000) in compensation from a 43-year-old midwife. The mother said her daughter, born in August 2009, died of a subdural hematoma two months later due to Vitamin K deficiency because the midwife did not give her the syrup. The midwives association sent questionnaires to its 47 branches to "find out if there are problems" in the use of homeopathic remedies. Many of its branches have held lectures that placed homeopathy in a favorable light. Also, at a 2008 meeting of the Japan Academy of Midwifery, the head of the Japanese Homoeopathic Medical Association spoke to the group. "We do not categorically deny (the efficacy of) homeopathy, but there are problems such as (midwives) refusing to use Vitamin-K2 or vaccinations," said Kiyoko Okamoto, a senior board member of the midwives association.” Japanese press report (6th August 2010)

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105 pages. (30th July 2010) [pdf]

Shunning medicine led to Dingle's death: Coroner   [2:05min video] (30th July 2010)

Death by Homeopathy - Penelope Dingle Pt 1

“The tragic story of Penelope Dingle's choice, encouraged by her partner - later husband - Peter Dingle to abandon medical treatment for homeopathy. The homeopath is Francine Scrayen who would con Penelope by telling her she could cure rectal cancer. She claimed a psychic had told her Penelope would come into her life, be cured, Peter would discover a cure for cancer - and they would all be famous.” [15:03min video]


Death by Homeopathy - Penelope Dingle Pt 2

“Part Two of the tragic story of Penelope Dingle's death from choosing homeopathy over medical care for rectal cancer.” [15 min video]


Death by Homeopathy - Penelope Dingle Pt 3

“In part three, Penelope's sisters learn of the pact to write a book between Peter Dingle, culpable homeopath Francine Scrayen, and Penelope Dingle. The penny drops as to Peter Dingle's bizarre behaviour - watching his wife die. Peter was to become famous. Dingle himself, described by the coroner as a strong, influential personality who played a significant role in his wife's choices and ongoing self sabotage, appears to feign shock that he could have been misled. He seems to pretend to remember little. Worse, he lays the blame on Penelope by arguing that helping her to see the truth would be a breach of trust, and that her will to continue overrode his ability to save her life. In this episode…we meet his new wife - a homeopath.” [13:59min video]


Death by Homeopathy - Penelope Dingle Pt 4

“The conclusion to ABC's Australian Story episode ‘Desperate Remedies’ in which we learn of Francine Scrayen's culpability, sadly not proven at inquest…The Coronial Inquest debriefing is included as are shots of Penelope's letters to Scrayen. To this day Peter Dingle and Francine Scrayen remain at large.” [15:03min video]

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“An investigation by the charity Sense about Science found that 10 homeopathic clinics selected at random on the internet offered unproven products which were claimed to prevent malaria and other diseases including typhoid, dengue fever and yellow fever. In all 10 consultations the advice was to use the products rather than conventional anti-malarial drugs.” Jeremy Laurance, The Independent (14th July 2006)

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BBC2 Newsnight Sense About Science Malaria and Homeopathy programme transcripts. Includes top line results from the investigation and a summary of recorded consultations. (Public archive at Bad Science)

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"Malaria is at the heart of the origin myths of homeopathy. It is a fundamental part of the credo of the homeopathic religion and this is why homeopathic organisations have reacted so badly to the recent WHO condemnation of such treatments. Homeopaths cannot abandon this crusade to treat and prevent malaria even though it is totally ineffective." The Quackometer (12th September 2009)

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"…the SoH, a supposedly professional organisation, is trying to defend a totally ineffective treatment for a disease that kills 2 million children every year. Homeopathy can't do anything to help, and using it instead of proper medical treatment could cost lives." Paul Wilson Hawk/Handaw blogspot (21st August 2009)

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"Jan Scholten is a prominent homeopath whose theories have been endorsed by the respectable medical face of the profession, including Peter Fisher of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital and the Royal Family's own homeopath. Jan Scholten is indulging his healing fantasies, like Jeremy Sherr and Peter Chappell before him, by carrying out unethical, unapproved trials based on nonsensical ideas on terminally ill patients in the developing world through his charity, the Aids Remedy Fund (ARF)." Gimpy's blog (20th August 2009)

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"Homeopaths have come under fire for selling treatments for malaria and other tropical diseases over the internet. Tropical disease specialists say the practice, though not illegal, is irresponsible, because clients who buy the medicines mistakenly think they are protected from disease and are likely to take more risks than if they had no treatment at all." New Scientist (22nd July 2006)

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"It is often said that, although homeopathy does no good, at least it does not harm. But that is not true if using homeopathy delays diagnosis of serious disease like cancer. It is not true if homeopaths persuade you not to be vaccinated, and as a consequence you get smallpox, mumps, measles, and spread them in the community. And it is not true if you listen to the ill-informed advice that is given by many homeopaths about how to avoid malaria when you visit countries where it is common….. On the programme, Melanie Oxley, from the Society of Homeopaths, wriggled uncomfortably when faced with the evidence (and Simon Singh). She protested that members of her organisation do not advise against proper malaria prevention, or against vaccination…. Well, they DO. So much for 'professional regulation'. You cannot regulate the delusional and the attempts of organisations like Oxley's clearly don't work. Apart from their inability to stop their members giving lethal advice, the regulators themselves are deluded." David Colquhoun, A. J. Clark Professor of Pharmacology, University College London (14th July 2006)

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"An investigation has revealed that every one of ten randomly selected homoeopathic clinics and pharmacies was willing to recommend its products as an alternative to proven prophylactic drugs, in defiance of advice from the Health Protection Agency….. Homoeopathy is controversial as there is no scientific evidence that it is effective. Remedies are created by diluting substances to an extreme degree, usually so not a single molecule of the main ingredient is left, and most scientists consider that its only medical value lies in the placebo effect. It is generally accepted that the remedies are not themselves dangerous, as they contain no chemically active ingredients, but they can put people at grave risk when used in place of medications that are needed to treat or prevent disease." Mark Henderson, Science Editor, The Times (14th July 2006)

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"Doctors and scientists have warned holidaymakers not to use homeopathic remedies for malaria and other serious tropical diseases or their lives could be put at risk. The warning follows an investigation by the BBC which found 10 homeopathic clinics and pharmacies allegedly went against government guidelines by recommending unproven remedies for malaria and other tropical diseases such as typhoid, dengue fever and yellow fever. Scientists said the homeopaths' advice was reprehensible and likely to endanger lives. Professor Geoffrey Pasvol, a tropical medicine expert at Imperial College London, said: "Medical practitioners would be sued, taken to court and found guilty for far less. What this investigation has unearthed is appalling."" Alok Jha, Science Correspondent, The Guardian (14th July 2006)

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"British holidaymakers are putting their lives at risk by relying on homeopathy to protect them against malaria, doctors have warned. The medical experts condemned the practice of prescribing pills and potions made from tree bark, swamp water and rotting plants as 'outrageous quackery' and 'dangerous nonsense'. Their warning follows an undercover investigation which found that alternative medicine clinics readily sell travellers homeopathic protection against malaria, despite clear Government advice that there is no evidence such treatments work. It also comes after a study published in the Lancet suggested that the benefits of homeopathy are all in the imagination, with alternative remedies performing no better than dummy pills in clinical trials. Homeopathy, which has won the backing of Prince Charles, claims to prevent diseases such as malaria by using dilute forms of herbs and minerals that in higher concentrations could produce the symptoms of the condition….. One practitioner said the homeopathic medicines fill a 'malaria-shaped hole' in the body that would usually be targeted by mosquitos. They also gave little or no advice on how to prevent mosquito bites and several claimed the herbal treatments had stopped other travellers from coming down with the disease which can kill within two days of the first symptoms….. British doctors said they are appalled by the results of the investigation, which was carried out by the BBC's Newsnight and the charity Sense About Science." Fiona MacRae, Daily Mail (14th July 2006)

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Includes a video clip of the secret filming that revealed homeopaths were claiming their preparations could be used instead of anti-malarial drugs to protect travellers in high risk areas such as sub-saharan Africa. Meirion Jones, BBC Newsnight (13th July 2006)

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"Some homeopathic practices tell people they need not take conventional anti-malaria drugs in high-risk parts of the world, an investigation by BBC2's Newsnight has revealed." Includes a video link to the Newsnight report. Pallab Ghosh Science Correspondent BBC News (13th July 2006)