Dying to Believe

Number 110 in a series

This site features a list of people who died while relying on alternative remedies. One of those is Silvie Cousseau:

Died March 31, 2001; age: 41
Paris, France

Sylvie was diagnosed HIV positive, but pursued alternative treatments for her disease including homeopathy, acupuncture and drinking her own urine. She eventually died of AIDS.

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Dying to Believe

Number 108 in a series

Homeopathy has stalked the human population for over 220 years, leaving disappointment and death in its wake. In The BMJ Pascal Delaunay and others write under the naive title “Homoeopathy may not be effective in preventing malaria.”

editor—The homoeopathic principle that like should be cured with like is not always advisable,1 as illustrated in this case report.

A 40 year old woman took two holidays a year in tropical countries. After experiencing digestive disorders with conventional prophylactic drugs she decided to seek medical advice from a homoeopath for her forthcoming holiday in Togo. Two homeopathic drugs were prescribed: Ledum palustre 5 CH (Boiron, Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon, France) as one granule daily and Malaria officinalis 4 CH (Schmidt-Nagel, Meyrin, Switzerland) as a single dose on the day before departure.

Ledum palustre 5 CH can be purchased in any French pharmacy and is usually taken to prevent insect bites or to reduce allergic reactions and pruritus. Malaria officinalis 4 CH is unavailable in France and therefore was bought by mail order. The preparation is taken “against malaria” as the doctor or patient sees fit. It is made from “African swamp water containing impurities, algae and plants as well as mosquito slough, larvae and eggs.” Furthermore, “the manufacturer, who has performed no clinical trials on this drug, declines all responsibility regarding its use.” No instructions are supplied, and the destination of the journey and duration of the stay are not taken into account.

Five days after returning to France with a fever (39°C), the patient sought medical advice from her homoeopath. Results of a blood smear test for malaria parasites were negative; haemoglobin concentration was 13.9 g/l and platelet count 160 000 per mm3. She took homoeopathic drugs with vitamins, and a few days later antibiotic treatment was started. Ten days after the first medical visit she felt worse. Her temperature had risen to 41°C and her haemoglobin concentration was 10.6 g/l and platelet count 66 000 per mm3. She was admitted to hospital, where she was investigated for bacterial infection but not malaria. Four days later she was admitted with neurological disorders to the intensive care unit at this hospital. An emergency search for malaria showed the presence of Plasmodium falciparum (parasitaemia 7%). For two months she received intensive care for multiple organ system failure due to P falciparum.

My own experience is that homeopathy is immensely popular in France, where there seem to be shops touting homéopathie on every street. The most notorious exponent of homeopathy in the late 20th century was Jacques Benveniste, who late in life came to propose that powers of homeopathy could be transmitted over the Internet.

Dying to Believe

Number 106 in a series

A page on the What’s the Harm site is devoted to deaths related to homeopathy. A case in point is the death of Charles Levy:

Only one case that has come before the Arizona Board of Homeopathic Medical Examiners during the past five years has involved the death of a patient, but that 2001 decision to clear the doctor is still a contentious subject.

The board dismissed a complaint against Dr. Gabriel Cousens, a licensed homeopath who practices holistic medicine and runs a spa called the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia. The complaint alleged that an elderly patient died of a gas gangrene infection developed after Cousens repeatedly injected him with “bovine adrenal fluid” as a treatment for fatigue.

The family of the patient, Charles Levy of New York, sued Cousens for malpractice in Pima County Superior Court. The case was headed to trial when Cousens settled for an undisclosed amount of money paid to the family.

What a homeopathic practitioner is doing using an active medication is not clear. Homeopathy canonically involves dilution of active ingredients beyond the vanishing point. Either way, false belief has produced another death.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – number 103 in a series

Here is something to get this started:

Zicam is a branded series of products marketed for cold and allergy relief whose original formulations included the element zinc. The Zicam name is derived from a portmanteau of the words “zinc” and “ICAM-1” (the receptor to which a rhinovirus binds in order to infect cells). It is labelled as an “unapproved homeopathic” product.

And here’s the story:

Lisa Weatherington, a 50-year-old Army medical officer who lives in Bowie, is one of the 340 plaintiffs. Her case illustrates the difficulties inherent in determining what role, if any, Zicam played in her anosmia.

Weatherington said she used Zicam once two years ago to treat a burgeoning cold at the suggestion of her husband who said it worked for him. Seconds after spraying it, she recalled, she felt an intensely painful burning.

In early January 2004, Weatherington said, she realized she could no longer smell or taste anything. She said she called Matrixx to report the problem and was told the company had never heard of this problem — although the first report of ansomia after Zicam use appeared in a medical journal in 2000 and the first lawsuit was filed in October 2003. Matrixx declined to comment on her case citing the pending litigation.

Several doctors have told Weatherington she probably will never regain her sense of smell. Her superiors have told her the problem could hamper her military career because it will prevent her deployment to places where she would need to detect poisonous fumes.

“I love food and I used to love to cook for my family, ” said Weatherington who adds that she has gotten sick from eating spoiled shrimp she coudn’t smell. “Sometimes I just feel like crying.”

Robert I. Henkin, a neurologist who directs the Taste and Smell Clinic in Northwest Washington, said there’s no way to know for sure whether Weatherington, whom he is treating, lost her sense of smell because of a virus or because she used Zicam.

Does anybody want to take bets on that last statement?

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – 97 in a series

Homeopathy, the treatment that involves no treatment, does not kill directly. It kills through neglect. Here is a story from Australia:

The latest case to come to media attention comes from down under – Penelope Dingle from Perth Australia, according to local news reports, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2003. Her doctors gave her a good chance of survival with standard therapy – surgery to remove the cancer, and chemotherapy to mop up any loose cells and reduce the risk of recurrence. It is not a pleasant prospect, but with modern care it’s not too bad, and it buys in many cases a greatly improved quality and duration of life. Penelope Dingle, however, chose to refuse all science-based treatment and opted instead for a regimen of diet and homeopathic treatment.

This is a case of an adult making the decision to die. Instances involving children are not only horrendous but also criminal.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – 93

Homeopathy is based on the principle that less is more—that is, the more dilute the medication the more potent it is. Faith in this absurd conjecture continues to result in serious injury and even death from lack of treatment.

NINE-MONTH-OLD Gloria Thomas was in such distress that her crying alarmed some passengers on a plane trip from India to Sydney.

She had been overseas for two months receiving medical treatment, and homeopathic medication from an uncle for severe eczema.

But in that time she missed two appointments which separate doctors had made for her at specialist dermatologists.

In May 2002, less than 10 days after her return, she was admitted to the Children’s Hospital at Randwick severely malnourished and with infections to the skin and eyes.

She had died within three days of sepsis (bacterial infections) which had caused bleeding in her lungs and airways.

Additionally:

Her father, Thomas Sam, who practised and taught homeopathy, had applied homeopathic remedies to try to cure Gloria’s eczema since she was diagnosed with it when aged about four months, he said.

The above was posted to Respectful Insolence by Orac.

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent’s posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – 92

Homeopathic remedies are supposed to be devoid of active ingredients, due the the extreme dilution employed in their preparation. That does not prevent products labeled as homeopathic from being deadly.

10 children die after taking homeopathic teething pills

The US Food and Drug Administration is also looking into 400 adverse events related to the tablets

Rachael Revesz New York 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating the deaths of 10 children and 400 adverse events surrounding the use of homeopathic teething pills.

The FDA warned that teething children should stop using the treatment, and to go to a doctor if the child exhibits symptoms such as seizures, difficulty in breathing, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, muscle weakness, skin flushing, constipation, difficulty urinating, or agitation – similar symptoms displayed over the last six years.

This report from Independent relates further that “A safety alert for the tablets was first issued in 2010,” and also that an ingredient in the tablets was belladonna. Belladonna is also known as “deadly nightshade.” All natural, of course.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – 80

Who needs Jesus when there exists a host of alternative ways to die from stupidity?

The Daily Star reported that 9 children have died in Tripura Para of Sitakunda during the last week. At least 46 other children in the remote hilly area are suffering from the same unidentified disease which has not yet been identified. The children aged between one and 12 suffer from fever and other symptoms include body rash, breathing problems, vomiting and blood in stool.

None of the fatalities was taken to a hospital, and two of them were treated homeopathically. The three-year-old Rupali had fever and a rash all over her body for three days. “We took her to a man who practices homeopathy. He lives some two kilometres away. He had given Rupali some medicines”, said her uncle. Asked why they did not take the child to a hospital, Pradip said the next health complex was 15 kilometres away from their home. Besides, they did not have money to buy medicines which would have been prescribed by doctors.

Modern homeopathy is a rebirth of the snake oil salesman.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – 76

Wait. I need to check my calendar. Yes! This is the 21st century. Let’s see what the new world of science and reason have brought us:

The Daily Star reported that 9 children have died in Tripura Para of Sitakunda during the last week. At least 46 other children in the remote hilly area are suffering from the same unidentified disease which has not yet been identified. The children aged between one and 12 suffer from fever and other symptoms include body rash, breathing problems, vomiting and blood in stool.

None of the fatalities was taken to a hospital, and two of them were treated homeopathically. The three-year-old Rupali had fever and a rash all over her body for three days. “We took her to a man who practices homeopathy. He lives some two kilometres away. He had given Rupali some medicines”, said her uncle. Asked why they did not take the child to a hospital, Pradip said the next health complex was 15 kilometres away from their home. Besides, they did not have money to buy medicines which would have been prescribed by doctors.

Yes, once again we have demonstrated that nothing can kill. That is, something that is nothing can be as deadly as something that is something. Rest in peace.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Continuing from last week, I’m posting more on death by alternative medicine. Some time ago I chose Tuesdays to carry the sad news about people dying from false belief. Alternative medicine (AltMed) is one of today’s significant mass murderers. Today I note the death of Russell Jenkins of Southsea, Hampshire, England:

Russell Jenkins shunned conventional treatment for his foot injury after he trod on an electrical plug at home.

He instead tried the ancient remedy of putting honey on it but his toes later went black and began to stink.

Neither Mr Jenkins nor partner Cherie Cameron, a former nurse, sought med­ical help, the inquest heard.

The 52-year-old would have had a 30 per cent chance of survival if he had sought treatment just two hours before he died, said consultant vascular surgeon Mark Pemberton.

‘Russell Jenkins’ condition was inappropriately and ineffectively treated by himself and by others and led to his death,’ said David Horsley, coroner for South-East Hampshire.

Mr Jenkins, who ran the Quiet Mind Centre from his home in Southsea, Hampshire, injured his foot in December 2006 and developed an 2cm-long ulcer.

In April 2007, Mr Jenkins, a diabetic, sought alternative advice from homeopath Susan Finn, who suggested he treat it with Manuka honey.

Those who believe the United States does not have this problem may need to check some on-line sources. Reliance on homeopathic remedies is a world-wide phenomenon. Keep reading. There will be more.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Continuing from last week, I’m posting more on death by alternative medicine. Some time ago I chose Tuesdays to carry the sad news about people dying from false belief. Alternative medicine (AltMed) is one of today’s significant mass murderers. Take the case of Warren G. Harding, the 29th President of the United States:

Beginning on June 20, 1923, the Hardings sought to escape the heat and scandal of Washington on a 15,000-mile transcontinental train trip and voyage to Alaska. The president was 57 at the time. The recently unsealed diary and notes of naval physician Joel Boone reveal Boone’s grave concerns about the president’s heart condition. The warnings were ignored by longtime Harding homeopath “Doc” Sawyer, who made no effort to stop Harding from speaking in the blistering heat, driving the golden spike to complete the Alaska Railroad, or doing other arduous tasks. In this Sawyer had the absolute approval of the first lady, who was now enjoying the height of her national popularity and didn’t want the trip canceled. She viewed the incompetent Sawyer as her own Rasputin, who’d miraculously kept a chronic kidney ailment from killing her.

When Harding suffered a bout of food poisoning from tainted crab meat at Cordova, Alaska, Doc Sawyer ultimately weakened the president’s sick heart by treating him with heavy doses of purgatives to flush out the toxins. On Aug. 2, 1923, when Boone was out of the sickroom in San Francisco’s Palace Hotel, Sawyer plied one too many purgatives – in Florence’s presence – and Harding died. There was a quick coverup regarding who was in the room and at precisely what time the president died. Mrs. Harding refused to permit an autopsy or a death mask, protecting her beloved Sawyer. “Now that is all over,” she told Evalyn McLean after Harding’s death, “I think it was all for the best.”

You don’t have to be poor and stupid to fall to quack medicine. Often the victim is rich and stupid.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Continuing from last week, I’m posting more on death by alternative medicine. Some time ago I picked Tuesdays to carry the sad news about people dying from false belief. Alternative medicine (AltMed) is one of today’s significant mass murderers. Take the case of Mahendra Gundawar:

Alleged abuse of homoeopathic drugs by mixing them with liquor has taken four lives in Vidarbha over the past six days.

While two died in Nagpur, two more died in Bhadravati town of Chandrapur district, one of them being a homeopathic doctor himself. Two persons are fighting for their lives in Bhadravati and one from Nagpur is being treated for serious complications in a hospital.

Brother of the homoeopath and owner of a homeopathic pharmacy (name not yet on police record) and Pravin Khedkar, a cable TV worker, died in Nagpur, and Mahendra Gundawar, a homeopath and his friend Bandu More, died in Bhadravati.

Prashant Lakhe, who is fighting for his life in a private hospital in Nagpur, suspected to have consumed a “tonic” with Khedkar and the unnamed victim by mixing it with alcohol in a party on December 11. The brother of the homoeopath died first while Khedkar died on December 13. Gundawar died on December 11 and More succumbed to the effects on Sunday.

Those who believe the United States does not have this problem may need to check some on-line sources. Reliance on homeopathic remedies is a world-wide phenomenon. Keep reading. There will be more.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Continuing from last week, I’m posting more on death by alternative medicine (alt-med). Some time ago I picked Tuesdays to carry the sad news about people dying from false belief. Homeopathy is a wrong-headed notion put forward by Samuel Hahnemann (see above) in 1796. It continues to kill 221 years later. Today I present the case of Ralph Gonzalez:

The Arizona Medical Board will take up an administrative law judge’s recommendation that Normann’s medical license be revoked permanently, an action that could prohibit him from practicing medicine in the United States again.

According to testimony in the administrative hearing, Normann created “a surgical nightmare” at his office in Anthem, where work was so shoddy that three patients died during or after liposuction.

Normann performed only one of the procedures, allowing unlicensed individuals to do the others.

Unsealed exhibits from the Arizona Medical Board’s case against Normann are mostly uncontroversial, although the exhibit list itself reveals some interesting information.

Evidence was taken in regards to 13 patients, including the three who died. A separate document reveals that Dr. Greg Page, a homeopathic doctor who was unauthorized to perform invasive surgeries, conducted procedures on at least nine patients, including one who died.

I am wondering how a homeopathic surgeon works. Does he use a scalpel without a blade?

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Following up from last week, I’m posting more on death by alternative medicine (alt-med). Some time ago I picked Tuesdays to carry the sad news about people dying from false belief. Homeopathy is a wrong-headed notion put forward by Samuel Hahnemann (see above) in 1796. It continues to kill 221 years later. Here is the case of Isabella Denley:

Last year in Melbourne, Australia, Isabella Denley, an epileptic toddler, died after her parents ditched the anti-convulsant medication she had been prescribed by her neurologist. The drugs had terrible side effects, including sleep loss and hyperactivity, so they turned to alternative therapies, visiting a vibrational kinesiologist, a cranial osteopath and a psychic who told them Isabella was suffering from a past-life trauma.

An inquest heard that when she died, the toddler was exclusively on homeopathic medication. Her parents believed they were doing their utmost. But clearly the potential pitfalls of Cams go beyond ruthless charlatans. Indeed, the real peril may be our faith that alternative therapies will inevitably reach – and cure – the parts that allopathic medicines will not.

A spokesperson for the Research Council for Complementary Medicine is quoted as saying, “There is certainly evidence to show that some therapies are effective for certain conditions.” This person goes on to say that it can be confusing to figure out which therapies work and which do not. From the article: “Often several studies of the same therapy will contradict each other, and since funding for research is hard to come by many studies are considered flawed.”

 

All right. There are many reasons to die. This one seems to be among the least heroic.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Following up from last week, I’m posting more on death by alternative medicine (alt-med). Some time ago I picked Tuesdays to carry the sad news about people dying from false belief. Homeopathy is a wrong-headed notion put forward by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796. It continues to kill 221 years later. Here is the case of young Cameron Ayres:

A six-month-old baby has died after his parents, who were firm believers in homeopathy, refused to take him to a GP. Dr Ann Robinson on the dangers of trusting too much

With a few harrowing exceptions, most parents want the best for their child, but parenting isn’t an exact science. We may seek advice from professionals, consult published information, listen to friends and even take heed of what our own parents have to say, but ultimately, whether it’s deciding whether to give the MMR jab, choosing a school, or signing our consent for the child to have her tonsils removed, we are forced to trust our instincts and hope for the best.

Now a tragic case in South London highlights how potentially dangerous following your instincts can be. An inquest heard how a six month old baby, Cameron Ayrs, died from a rare but potentially treatable metabolic disorder after his parents refused to take him to a doctor.

The baby’s parents, Jeremy, a homeopathic doctor, and his French wife Sylvie, a sales manager, had decided to protect their child from “suppressive” conventional medicine because of their deep faith in homeopathy and naturopathy. The coroner was told that they did not immunise him against a number of common childhood diseases and that he was never taken to see a GP.

As noted previously, I take satisfaction in blaming Jesus on death by belief. Sometimes he is superfluous. People have the capacity to kill themselves independent of religion.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

False belief kills in remarkable ways. It can take something that does nothing at all and turn it into a killer:

December 4 2001 12:11 AM

According to a secret diary kept by the late Jacqueline Alderslade (55), of Hollymount, Co Mayo [Ireland], the homeopath told her to stop all medication, except for a Ventolin inhaler, immediately.

Ms Alderslade, an interior designer and secretary, began the diary on June 29 when she first visited Mineke Kamper, a practicioner of alternative medicine, of Mulranny, Co Mayo.

Ten days later, while driving to Mulranny for an appointment with Ms Kamper, Ms Alderslade stopped her car after becoming seriously ill and died despite the efforts to revive her by a passing motorist.

Who needs Jesus when we are willing to take the task upon ourselves?

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

altmed-placeboextrastrength

You don’t have to be a Bible thumper to die in the name of closely-held belief. Step right up to the New Age of false promises:

WASHINGTON — Case 7682299: Aug. 1, 2010. A mother gives her toddler three homeopathic pills to relieve her teething pain. Within minutes, the baby stops breathing.

“My daughter had a seizure, lost consciousness, and stopped breathing about 30 minutes after I gave her three Hyland’s Teething Tablets,” the mother later told the Food and Drug Administration. “She had to receive mouth-to-mouth CPR to resume breathing and was brought to the hospital.”

There are eight cases of death involving babies who took these products. It is not been determined if there is any connection with the product and the fatal outcomes. In true fashion homeopathic products contain no active ingredients. What then, is the issue with the FDA requiring Hyland’s reformulate its products?

The report from STAT News points out that some doctors blame these products directly for children’s deaths.