I knew this guy, can’t remember his name, who practiced a combination of naturopathy and homeopathy (they are different) along with a few other suspicious arts, back in the 1970s. Other than the white muumuu that he usually wore, I remember two things about him. I remember that a few years before I ever laid eyes on him, he drove his Volkswagen Bug to Mexico to go on a spiritual journey, and within one day hit and killed a cow, and spent six months in jail for this, and was released back into the United States at the border. And, I remember that he almost killed Joe.
I have a friend, some of you know her, who has been undergoing difficulties that involve surgury, post-operative complications, lots of pain, lots of antibiotics, frustration and though she rarely expresses this, I suspect, some fear. When I think of her these days, I think as well of Joe, and now I think of something else I’ll tell you about in a moment.
Joe was a great guy, a good friend, and I wish I had never lost track of him, but I suppose when my significant other of the day and I split, there was a certain amount of Sorting of Friends. I hear he’s doing OK these days. Joe had a strange quirk back in the day; He never liked to eat with anyone else. Part of it seemed to be that the conversation or other features of the social interaction would upset him, and it would make it hard for him to digest his food. It came out later that he really ate very very little, and could only eat tiny amounts at a time, or everything would evacuate his body as vomitus.
He knew he had some kind of digestive problem, and he was seeing someone for it. He was seeing the guy I mention above, the guy who ran into the cow with the Volkswagen Bug. He was getting a combination of naturopathic and homeopathic treatments for a condition that caused him to only be able to eat a tiny amount of food at once, and that caused all kinds of pain and some other problems.
One day Joe’s wife came home and found him laying motionless, seemingly lifeless, on the living room floor. She called an ambulance, they came and took him to the hospital. He was alive, but in a coma. After several hours of investigation, it was determined that he had succumbed to a combination of starvation and some sort of infection ultimately arising from a blockage of the intestines which had, in turn, been caused by some sort of intestinal thing. This was in the days before a lot that we now know was known. He may have had Crone’s Disease or something, we’ll probably never know. In any event, he underwent a long, multi-hour surgery to remove a big chunk of his intestines, spent several more days in the hospital, and later, was OK.
The naturopathic homeopath, the guy who killed the cow with his VW, seemed to disappear from the community just at that time. We discovered that Joe had been advised by the homeopath to not seek traditional medical advice. We learned that when Joe more strongly stated that he wanted to get the advice of a doctor, the homeopath asked him not to because he’d get in trouble with the authorities for his practice which was not exactly legal. Joe complied, then, Joe almost died.
Here’s the other thing I wanted to mention:
SOME Australian homeopaths claim they can treat anything from autism to deadly infections to violence, including domestic violence.
Sydney clinic Homeopathy Plus, for example, promotes the use of homeopathy for potentially fatal anaphylactic shock and post-childbirth infections and director Fran Sheffield said homeopathy can treat “excesses of human behaviour” including domestic violence.
The Australian Medical Association says it is “untested, unproven”. The National Medical Health and Research Council says it doesn’t work, and Australian Skeptics president Richard Saunders says it is “closer to witchcraft than to medicine”.
Can we just stop with this insanity, please?
(Hat tip Phil)