Respectful Insolence

I’ve written about naturopathy many times before. The reasons that it interests me are several. First, it amazes me how anyone “discipline” (if you want to call it that) can encompass so many forms of quackery, some of which are mutually contradictory. (For instance, how can homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine both be true?) Also, it’s amazing how deeply steeped in prescientific vitalism naturopathy is. Then, of course, there’s its tight embrace of The One Quackery To Rule Them All, homeopathy. There are times when I feel as though it’s just too easy, as homeopathy is nothing more than water, any “remedy” that had been there having been diluted to nonexistence, but, as has been pointed out to me before, homeopathy is a highly useful tool with which to teach critical thinking skills. It’s also just such obvious quackery that it’s even sometimes rather fun to deconstruct. I won’t say I never get tired of it. I do sometimes. On the other hand, sadly homeopathy is not going anywhere, and it appears impossible to point out too much just why homeopathy is about as pure a form of quackery as there is, just as pure as pure, pure water.

Normally, homeopathy is used in a way that is probably relatively harmless, for example, to treat someone with a vague sense of unease, or a touch of the nerves, or just more money than sense (as Mitchell and Webb so famously put it in their classic parody of homeopathy). However, every so often, I come across someone who wants to use homeopathy to treat conditions that are not self-limited or just a “case of the nerves.” The results can be potentially disastrous, or, as Mitchell and Webb put it, “OK, so you kill the odd patient with cancer or heart disease or bronchitis, flu, chicken pox, or measles.” Of course, this about sums it up.

So why is the Welsh Conference of Homeopathy hosting Dr. A. U. Ramakrishnans, a man who treats cancer with homeopathy? I kid you not. Look:

Homoeopathic Case-taking with cancer. Types of Cancer & Prognosis Specifics of Treatment for the different stages of cancer Homoeopathy as a primary therapy Homoeopathy in conjunction with Western Medicine. Materia Medica of cancer. Ramakrishnan method of administering remedies.

So let’s see what Ramakrishnans (I refuse to call him “doctor”) claims he can do. To do this required just a little Googling to find his very own website, where he makes this astounding claim:

The treatment of Cancer can be quite successful with Homeopathy, often in conjunction with allopathic medicine in advanced cases. In early stages, particularly with breast and prostate, the success rate is close to 80% with compliance by the patient. Currently we have over 400 active Cancer cases and this number reflects the results we are seeing. Over the last 10 years there have been more than 3,000 Cancer cases that reflect long term follow up of those cured.

Many people first approach Dr. Ramakrishnan for treatment when the Cancer is advanced, has recurred, or they have exhausted all the conventional possibilities for treatment. These patients are offered improved quality of life and length of prognosis. Many families report the patients live quite comfortably and actively.

Our results are confirmed by conventional laboratory testing, scans and ultrasound. Throughout this treatment we ask the patient to keep scheduled visits with an oncologist to monitor the progress. All our results are verifiable in this way.

Did you notice something? As a cancer doctor specializing in breast cancer, I sure did. He said that he has 80% success with early stage breast and prostate cancer. Does anyone want to bet that nearly all of these patients come to him after having had surgery? If that’s the case (a safe bet), then it’s not at all surprising that he would observe an 80% success rate. That’s about what you’d expect with surgery alone for early stage cancers. In fact, for breast cancer, you’d probably expect better than 80% ten year survival with surgery alone. You’d expect more like 85% or even higher.

The other thing I noticed is that Ramakrishnan says that his treatment involves taking homeopathic remedies for 2.5 hours daily. Upon reading that, all I could do is wonder: What the heck is in that homeopathic remedy? Is he forcing his patients to drink gallons of water, given that homeopathy is just water? Why on earth would it take 2.5 hours? Whatever the case, Ramakrishnan claims that not only can his quackery cure cancer, but it can cure heart disease, diabetes, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis. Well, actually, he admits that type I diabetes “is not curable” and that patients must take insulin for the rest of their lives, but he claims that “can be helped with Homeopathy to manage their condition, including some leveling off of blood sugar swings, improved circulation and vision.” Here’s a video in which he describes his methods:

Wow. Ramakrishnan’s method sounds almost like metronomic chemotherapy. The difference, of course, is that there’s no chemotherapy. It’s just giving water at high frequency.

As is the case with just about every cancer quack there is, Ramakrishnan makes some extravagant claims. For instance, in his book, A Homeopathic Approach to Cancer, we are told:

He usually administers his treatment alongside conventional medical procedures. Yet he has also had numerous cases – for example, of patients with astrocytoma or glioma – who had relapses after two or three ineffectual operations or radiation treatments, and who were then treated solely using his methods (in some cases with over ten years of follow-up).

You know, when I see claims like this, I can’t help but think of Stanislaw Burzynski. I know, I know, I’ve already mentioned him twice this week, but I think it’s appropriate here to bring him up again. Think of it this way. A homeopath, who is treating his patients with nothing more than magic water, claims to have the occasional patient with astrocytoma or glioma, the two sorts of cancers that Burzynski claims to be able to treat more effectively than conventional medicine, who has a complete remission or long term survival. that should tell Burzynski sycophants, toadies, and lackeys, something. He does as well as quacks using nothing more than water.

One thing I did notice in Ramakrishnans’s patient anecdotes. There are no imaging studies, no pathology reports, no hard evidence to document the claims in the patient anecdotes. Perhaps the best way to see what I mean is to take this anecdote about cervical cancer from his book:

Female, 39 years, reported with a leucorrhea of many years standing, which was now accompanied by severe pulling pains all over the hypogastrium and lumbosacral region. These would come on suddenly, but decrease only gradually—and were more pronounced in the evening.

Examination showed ulcer on cervix and biopsy report confirmed squamous cell carcinoma, Stage II.

The patient was gentle, soft spoken, sensitive, affectionate; worse from rich, fatty foods; better from a breeze and gentle (rather than vigorous) exercise—in a word, a classic Pulsatilla.

PRESCRIPTION

Week 1: Pulsatilla 200c – daily, Plussing Method

Week 2: Carcinosin 200C – daily, Plussing Method

Weeks 3-8: Same as Weeks 1-2

Leucorrhea stopped.

Months 3-4: Same as Weeks 1-2, but in the IM potency

The ulcer was healing, with less bleeding and pain.

Months 5-6: Same as Months 3-4

Cervical lesion 90% cured.

Months 7-8: Same as Months 3-4

The patient was clear of all symptoms. AH tests and examinations showed normal.

Of course, 200C means a (102)200 = 10400 dilution. Given that there are only on the order of 1078 to 1082 atoms in the known universe, the use of such dilutions is utterly ridiculous. But what about the anecdote?

Stage II cervical cancer means that the tumor has spread beyond the cervix. It’s unclear how it was determined that this was the case, as it’s not always possible to tell this on the basis of physical examination alone. Perhaps a transvaginal ultrasound or a CT scan was done, or perhaps it was possible to tell it on colposcopy. The anecdote doesn’t say. In any case, note that the original complaint was leucorrhea, which means a white or yellowish vaginal discharge. Leucorrhea can be caused by many conditions, including puberty, infection, malignancy, and hormonal changes. Then, she had vague sensations of pelvic “pulling.” An ulcer was seen on her cervix and biopsied. We aren’t told how, although frequently cervical biopsies are done by cone biopsy technique, which can take a lot of tissue. In any case, it would be expected that a woman who’s undergone a cone biopsy would bleed for a while and that ultimately the ulcer would heal. We can’t tell from this anecdote, because it’s not described how the size of the tumor, nor are we told which specific tests showed “normal.” The whole case is vague and fishy, as is the next case, which is almost identical. In both cases the biopsy technique is not described, but I’m betting it was a generous cone biopsy that removed much of the tumor. Is it surgical? Was it a needle biopsy?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Not surprisingly, Ramakrishnan hasn’t published his results in decent peer-reviewed biomedical journals. Instead, he publishes vague patient reports in a book in such a way that they can’t be evaluated independently to see if there really is evidence for an antitumor effect. In the meantime, one can’t help but wonder whether this entire Welsh Conference of Homeopathy is massively against the law. Unlike the case in the US, in the UK, you can’t just go around saying whatever you want about cancer or advertising quack cancer cures. The Cancer Act of 1939 criminalizes such activity. Surely offering to cure cancer with magic water qualifies.

Comments

  1. #1 elburto
    April 25, 2013

    So he’s using his magic water “in conjunction with allopathic medicine” and crowing that it’s proof. that homeopathy works?

    That’s a lot like my new weight-loss system. It’s a beautifully detailed figure of a three-toed sloth, and stroking it makes the pounds drop off. It’s as easy as that! The only other thing you have to do is run for an hour a day, avoid dairy and wheat-based foods, and stay under 1200 kcals a day.

    Order your Magic Sloth now, while stocks last!

    This Welsh quackfest almost certainly is in contravention of the Cancer Act if they’re claiming to be able to treat it.

  2. #2 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    April 25, 2013

    I’ve been trying to post about another Indian homeopath who has become quite (in)famous for his “Banerji Protocol” for cancer (mentioned by some Burzynski patients who have used it alongside Stan’s stuff) but my comment keeps disappearing.

    I’ll try without the link. This is from his website:

    It is here that the ‘Banerji Protocols’ utilizing homeopathic medicines, with which the PBHRF and its practicing homeopaths are readily associated, has had an important role to play.

    Our Experience with Cancer

    Average patient turnout of 1000 to 1200 a day gives us a clear perspective as to disease and treatment trends in the populations.

    An average of 10 to 15% ie. 120 to 200 cancer cases a day, of our patient turnout, suffering from this dreaded disease has helped us to formulate set protocols for their treatment.

    In our clinics we are privileged to see and treat every type of cancer and in every stage of the disease.

    We get patients who opt to take only our Banerji Protocols without any conventional treatments and we get those who use our medicines as adjunct therapy after the conventional treatments fail.

    We even get patients who come to us to get relief from the various side-effects of conventional chemotherapy and radiation.

  3. #3 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    April 25, 2013

    If you Google “Homeopathy” + “cancer” you’ll find other homeopaths, mainly in India, making claims they can cure cancer. There’s even a YouTube video about something called Ruta 6, specifically for brain tumours. I won’t provide links since ScienceBlogs doesn’t seem to want to accept comments with links tonight.

    I’ve had “conversations” on Quackometer with critics in the UK who know of British homeopaths who also make these claims, but of course due to the Cancer Act it’s all hush hush, nudge nudge wink wink.

  4. #4 Adam
    April 25, 2013

    YouTube is filled with cancer cure quackery, some of an obvious commercial and a very large chunk of it is undoubtedly illegal in the UK. I’m kind of surprised that YouTube isn’t served with an order to remove it all.

  5. #5 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    April 25, 2013

    Ramakrishnan is also selling a “three-year post-graduate diploma” so other quacks-in-training can perpetuate this scam. Go to the link to the Welsh conference Orac provided above and click on the tab for the diploma. It takes a grand total of 72 hours to learn to ‘treat” cancer with his techniques.
    But he has a great sense of humour, it says.

  6. #6 Renate
    April 25, 2013

    @ Elburto
    I love your sense of humor and would like to have that sloth you are offering.

  7. #7 Scott
    April 25, 2013

    “The treatment of Cancer can be quite successful with Homeopathy, often in conjunction with allopathic medicine in advanced cases.”

    In other words, homeopathy helps those that help themselves.

  8. #8 Renate
    April 25, 2013

    Next to Elburto’s sloth, I also want a cookie.

  9. #9 Marry Me, Mindy
    April 25, 2013

    You didn’t mention one of the other interesting aspects of his comment, about “patient compliance.” So that means many of the failures can be blamed on the patient and not on the failure of the remedy.

    Btw, can someone learned in tge homeopathic arts tell me, if the protocol calls for a 200C remedy, what happens if I use 199C?

  10. #10 Christine (the public servant Christine)
    April 25, 2013

    Well, Granny Weatherwax was able to cure bad backs with suckrose and akwa.

    The detailed knowledge of human anatomy she used to re-align slightly dislocated joints had *nothing* to do with it.

  11. #11 Eric Lund
    April 25, 2013

    The treatment of Cancer can be quite successful with Homeopathy, often in conjunction with allopathic medicine in advanced cases. In early stages, particularly with breast and prostate, the success rate is close to 80% with compliance by the patient.

    Dr, Ramakrishnan palms two cards in two sentences. Others beat me to the part about combining homeopathy with allopathic medicine. The second one is the bit about “compliance by the patient.” It’s like saying that the plan cannot fail, it can only be failed (does this sound like other woo-pushers we know?). At least Ramakrishnan admits that his success rate, even under ideal conditions, is less than 100%.

  12. #12 Marry Me, Mindy
    April 25, 2013

    Eric Lund #11

    Others beat me to the part about combining homeopathy with allopathic medicine. The second one is the bit about “compliance by the patient.”

    HA! See comment #9!

    As my 2 yr old says, “I winned! I winned!”

  13. #13 Shay
    April 25, 2013

    Elburto, I’m already working on the weasel launcher/flamethrower device. Are you changing the specs on me? I’m not sure it could handle sloths; the tail might cause some blowback.

    Does anyone else here think that “Pulsatilla” sounds like a character from a bad 1980′s Marvel comic?

  14. #14 palindrom
    April 25, 2013

    Yesterday I was chatting with first year med student about various quackery, and asked him if he knew much about homeopathy. When I explained the law of similars and how the potency is supposed to increase with dilution, I was rewarded with an eyeroll.

    That eyeroll shows that there is indeed some hope for the future of medicine. That, plus our med school is so far resisting the trend toward quackademia in medical education.

  15. #15 MarkL
    Too close too Aberystwyth
    April 25, 2013

    This is, I believe, a flagrant breach of the Cancer Act 1939, and as such, I have reported it to Trading Standards Ceredigion, and made the host venue aware of the suspected breach.

    Lets see if the current debate on public health in Wales concentrates the minds of our trading standards officers.

  16. #16 Eric Lund
    April 25, 2013

    palindrom @14: It’s good to hear that there are some medical students who remember their high school chemistry. The scandalous thing is that there are too many students–and too many of their professors–who don’t.

    Some forms of woo are hard to spot. For instance, you have to know that the studies of vaccines and autism have been done, and found no correlation, to know that there is no link between vaccines and autism. Homeopathy is not in this category. Anybody who passed a high school chemistry class should be familiar with Avogadro’s number, and conclude that most homeopathic remedies are diluted to the point where the expected number of remaining molecules of the so-called active ingredient is much smaller than 1. And everyday common experience should tell you that diluting things makes them less potent–certainly anybody who cooks, or uses salt, pepper, Tabasco sauce, etc., on a regular basis, would know this.

  17. #17 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    April 25, 2013

    @Eric Lund

    Anybody who passed a high school chemistry class should be familiar with Avogadro’s number, and conclude that most homeopathic remedies are diluted to the point where the expected number of remaining molecules of the so-called active ingredient is much smaller than 1.

    To be fair, unless you go on to study chemistry in college or use it regularly in everyday life or have some other strong interest in it, most people will have forgotten much of what they learned in their high school classes. And it doesn’t help that homeopathy is frequently used interchangeably with “herbal medicine”, increasing the confusion. Naturally, most homeopathy proponents don’t correct this error, since the error helps advance and legitimize their magic, but it’s still a mistake that I’d wager a majority of people would make if they’d never looked into it (and even some who have).

  18. #18 Rich Woods
    April 25, 2013

    @MarkL #15:

    Nice one!

    Please let us know if you hear back from them.

  19. #19 Rich Woods
    April 25, 2013

    @Marry Me, Mindy #9:

    Btw, can someone learned in tge homeopathic arts tell me, if the protocol calls for a 200C remedy, what happens if I use 199C?

    You die. Horribly.

    O ye of little faith…

  20. #20 elburto
    April 25, 2013

    @Renate – sloth’s comin’ at ya! It may take a while though, they’re speed-impaired.

    @Shay – The sloth is purely a hanger-on. It’ll drape it’s arms around my neck, and utter supportive sloth-squeaks in my ear, and alert me to hazards that are outside my limited peripheral vision.

    Let the weasel work move on apace!

    Oh, and let’s hope Ceredigion TS do something about these disgusting quacks.

  21. #21 lilady
    April 25, 2013

    @ MSII: Does this link work for the Banerji protocol:

    http://www.pbhrfindia.org/index.php/component/content/article/19-cancer-a-banerji-protocol/35-introduction-to-cancer-treatment

    Aha, the “A.U. Ramakrishnan Traveling Road Show”…it’s a “generational thing”; he learned his homeopathy from his father and has taught his son/colleague his methodology of curing cancer with homeopathy

    http://www.nationalcenterforhomeopathy.org/hta/meet-dr-au-ramakrishnan-mbbs-mfhom-phd

  22. #22 SkepticalSlug
    In my own little world.
    April 25, 2013

    “Given that there are only on the order of 10^78 to 10^82 atoms in the known universe, the use of such dilutions is utterly ridiculous.”

    Yeah, but the important question is WHO counted the 10^78 to 10^82 atoms in the known universe? Ten bucks says the atoms were counted by Big Pharma, who obviously lowballed the number in a ploy to make homeopathic dilutions look ridiculous. Yet another FACT that proves Orac is a pharma shill.

  23. #23 Marry Me, Mindy
    April 25, 2013

    @Marry Me, Mindy #9:

    Btw, can someone learned in tge homeopathic arts tell me, if the protocol calls for a 200C remedy, what happens if I use 199C?

    You die. Horribly.

    O ye of little faith…

    I can imagine…

    “Damn, was that the 123rd dilution? Or the 124th? Fuck, now I have to start all over.”

  24. #24 Iain
    April 25, 2013

    Banerji father and son gave a talk at a homeopathy conference in Toronto last year. They spent a lot of time showing pictures of themselves with real scientists at conferences and at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, to show that mainstream medicine was taking them seriously. Then they touted a Best Case Series publication, and showed a bunch of before and after pictures. It all sounded very impressive, so long as you didn’t look too closely at their statistics and ask for comparative data.
    It was only when a skeptic in the audience started asking awkward questions that the conference organizers made clear that, *of course*, homeopaths shouldn’t try treating cancer in Canada, because that would be illegal. (The implication was clearly that the Canadian government was preventing them from saving lives.)

  25. #25 herr doktor bimler
    April 25, 2013

    sloth’s comin’ at ya!

    Ai!

  26. #26 SonofMog
    April 25, 2013

    Quack: I can cure cancer with water.

    Normal Person: Bullshit.

    Homeopathy Believer: HURRR DURRR GUHH OK

  27. #27 elburto
    April 25, 2013

    You’d better run HDB, before the sloth’s swiftness catches you off guard.

    @SkepticalSlug – the scales have fallen from my eyes. All hail the brave maverick homeopaths, down with shills!

  28. #28 herr doktor bimler
    April 25, 2013

    the scales have fallen from my eyes

    Lord Draconis will think you’re moulting.

  29. #29 Khani
    April 26, 2013

    #13 How about a sloth attachment?

  30. #30 DrBollocks
    April 26, 2013

    Sorry to get serious for a moment but the following link shows the foolishness of relying on homeopathy to treat cancer. It’s a long and depressing document. It also highlights the importance of opposing health fraud, of which homeopathy is but one example.

    http://www.safetyandquality.health.wa.gov.au/docs/mortality_review/inquest_finding/Dingle_Finding.pdf

  31. #31 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    April 26, 2013

    Iain,

    Those photos and the Best Case Series are posted on Banerji’s website. At first I thought the pictures were Photoshopped, like the photos of Jim Humble on the MMS websites, but they seem genuine. I can only wonder what circumstances brought those people together.

    Did anyone else seem Deepak Chopra’s smiling face on the banner ad today here on Science Blogs? It’s for a company called Gaial TV, and they sell videos from people like Chopra, Lorraine Day and Leonard Coldwell. They promote everything from MMS to energy healing to spiritual enlightenment. Rather ironic to pop up here on SB.

  32. #32 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    April 26, 2013

    DrBollocks,

    I’ve confronted UK and Indian homeopaths regarding the Penelope Dingle tragedy on other science blogs. They’ve either ignored my posts or said “oh no, that never happens here and we would never do it.” (No true Scotsman?)

  33. #33 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    April 26, 2013

    Re: Banner ad comment

    Should have read “Did anyone else see Deepak Chopra’s smiling face…”

  34. #34 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    April 26, 2013

    Not complety off-topic, but the FDA raided and shut down a “cancer clinic” spa called Camelot Cancer Care in Tulsa, Oklahoma yesterday. They charge $19,500 for a ten-day stay (includes meals!) and they push DMSO, essiac and laetrile as their primary “cancer-fighting” tools.

    Lots of news coverage here:

    http://www.google.ca/#sclient=psy-ab&q=camelot+ccancer+care+raided&oq=camelot+ccancer+care+raided&gs_l=serp.3…4718.6248.0.6376.2.2.0.0.0.0.126.248.0j2.2.0…0.0…1c.1.11.psy-ab.ggN7FpzR0zs&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&fp=3e41f0fa0fd02e16&biw=1209&bih=761

  35. #35 DrBollocks
    April 26, 2013

    @MSII, re: Penelope Dingle.

    Disturbingly, Francine Scrayen, the woman who scammed Penelope Dingle to death, is still listed in the Yellow Pages under “Homeopathy” and therefore presumably still earning money as a fraud. Almost as disturbing is that two qualified medical doctors, who also promoted nonsense (and still do according to Google), appear to have suffered no sanction by the Medical Board, despite the Coroner referring them for investigation.

  36. #36 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    April 26, 2013

    DrBollocks,

    Wasn’t it her husband, also a woo practitioner, who insisted she stick with the homeoquackery? And the husband, if I remember correctly, defended their choices even after her death. It was Penelope’s sister who instigated the criminal charges. Hubby was OK with it all. (Maybe he was really trying to murder his wife? M-m-m-m-m-m…)

    Have you ever read Penelope’s journal and the letters she wrote to the homeopath? Absolutely heartbreaking. (I didn’t click on your link as I know the story well, so I apologize if these documents were contained in your link.)

    I can’t believe the quack is still in business.

  37. #37 Militant Agnostic
    Where it is always better with gentically modified aurochs around
    April 26, 2013

    MSII

    Maybe he was really trying to murder his wife? M-m-m-m-m-m…

    That thought occurred to me a long time ago, given the relationship between the husband and the homeopath.

  38. #38 DrBollocks
    April 26, 2013

    MSII,

    You are correct that the husband, Peter Dingle, is (and was then) a woo pusher, and possible antivaxxer. However, his role in his wife’s death is less clear cut than simply pushing the homeopathy. From the account given at the inquest he seems to have been in an awkward position as his wife deteriorated, but at the same time she insisted on continuing the quackery. On the other hand, as a supporter of woo, and critic of conventional medicine, he would have helped to create conditions ripe for quackery to “flourish.”

    It’s a while ago, but I recall reading the letters Penelope wrote to the homeopath. I agree with your description.

    Incidentally, the homeopath tried to close down a critical blogger with legal thuggery but harnessed the Streisand effect.

    http://www.danbuzzard.net/journal/francine-scrayen-sends-me-a-cease-and-desist.html

    They never learn

  39. #39 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    April 26, 2013

    I was just about to post the threat to Mr. Buzzard when I saw you beat me to it.

    Here are the letters from Mrs. Dingle to the homeoquack. It’s very difficult reading. I’m always amazed how civil and polite Penelope was.

    http://www.abc.net.au/austory/content/2011/s3260776.htm

  40. #40 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    April 26, 2013

    I considered you completely trustworthy as a health professional and as a friend and I trusted that you knew what you were doing

    I believed you when you illustrated, via exciting stories, your capacity to get successful results in treating cancer

    I believed you when you told me you could cure me

    I believed you when you told me that I was getting well

    I believed you when you told me I was a ‘medical miracle’

    I believed you when you told me that pain, no matter how awful, was part of my ‘healing process’

    On your advice, I did not take adequate pain relief

    I allowed you to persuade me to perform painful and demeaning procedures in the hope that the healing benefits you promised me would be their outcome

    I followed your advice that I should not have any form of medical monitoring until January/February 2004, after which time you said your treatments would have cured me

    So that my positive frame of mind was not undermined I followed your advice that I should not consult with medical personnel unless they approved of your protocol and what you were doing

    I followed your advice to use homeopathy

    I believed you when you said you would not allow an emergency situation to arise and relied on you to let me know when and if an operation might be necessary

    I followed your advice to put off telling family and friends about my condition in case their ‘fears’ undermined my positive frame of mind

    I believed you when you said, ‘now that you have chosen homeopathy, you know there is no turning back. It is you against the world’

    I followed advice you gave that isolated me from family, friends and the medical establishment

    I take responsibility for placing my trust in a health professional who was not trustworthy.

    I am ready to speak. The question remains, are you ready to listen?

  41. #41 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    April 26, 2013

    One more excerpt from the Dingle letters:

    But, you told me,
    “I shouldn’t be saying this to you. I’m going out on a limb. But classical homeopathy will cure you.”
    You told me, however, that I must use the homeopathy alone, or you would be unable to prescribe your treatment accurately. You told me Dr Barnes’s protocol would interfere with the homeopathy, as would the intravenous Vitamin C, I was having. As would painkillers. Even our suggestions of other treatments such as massage, chiropractic, reflexology, herbalists and other protocols to run concurrently etc. were rejected by you. You also prescribed the diet I was to follow.
    I believed you and cancelled all my other treatments. Unlike you, the other practitioners never said they could cure me.
    If you had said homeopathy might give me a cure and it might not, that it was impossible to tell, do you really think I would have risked your protocol? I would not have. I would have considered homeopathy as a support therapy only, as I had originally intended.

  42. #42 DrBollocks
    April 26, 2013

    Following a bit more Googling, I may have been too kind to Peter Dingle. He has apparently remarried…this time to a homeopath (I don’t think it’s the same one!)

    http://luckylosing.com/2011/07/23/death-by-homeopathy-how-peter-dingle-and-francine-scrayen-guided-a-gullible-woman-to-her-grave/

    One small point: Penelope’s sister instituted civil proceedings against the homeoquack. No criminal charges have been laid.

  43. #43 MarkL
    April 26, 2013

    Ceredigion trading standards have written to me this morning and have confirmed that the flyer represents a breach of section 4 of the Cancer Act 1939 in their opinion.

    The Chief High Wizard (or whatever the organising scam artist’s title is in his tawdry little conclave) lives in Powys and so an investigation will be conducted by the officers of Powys Trading Standards.

    More news soon…………………..I hope.

  44. #44 Dangerous Bacon
    April 26, 2013

    Anyone else find that quack remedies are more tolerable when the sales pitch is entertaining?

    I just experienced spam for an Indian herbal outfit called Hashmi, which has a unique array of curative products which are not “addictive” (apparently there is a big problem out there with people getting hooked on herbs). Someone in their marketing division has great aptitude for naming supplements – thus we have “Babytone” (for infertility) and “Cute B” (breast reduction). On the other hand, there’s the unfortunately named “Bronkill”:

    “For all the asthma victims, there is a solution for all the lungs and other breathing problems that are associated with the asthma infections. Bronkill is a natural supplement that is known to cure this disease completely and it has no side effects. The composition that is contained in it are completely natural to avoid the addiction and it is ideal to people of all the ages.”

    For more fabulous stuff that They don’t want you to know about, visit:

    ht_p://www.herbalmedicinesmanufacturer.com/

  45. #45 Martin
    April 26, 2013

    “Completely natural to avoid the addiction”? In text from India, of all places?

    The mind boggles.

  46. #46 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    April 26, 2013

    Arnica cookie, please.

  47. #47 Krebiozen
    April 26, 2013

    MSII,
    If you use a cookie manager (there’s one for Chrome here)and set the comment_author_ and comment_author_email_ cookies to read only, the ‘Recent Insolence returned’ problem is solved (but not the ‘delivered’ problem).

  48. #48 Marc Stephens Is Insane
    April 26, 2013

    Kreb,

    Thanks for the tip. I use a similar Norton utility, but my computer is having technical issues (keeps locking up and won’t respond to keyboard) so I have to keep turning it off manually, without letting Windows do its thing on shutdown. As a result, several websites I frequent lose my cookies each time I subsequently boot up again. I have to re-enter account information on other sites, my preferences disappear on other sites.

  49. #49 Ausduck
    watching the rain
    April 29, 2013

    The Penelope Dingle case has had much discussion in the skeptic communities here in Australia. Interestingly Peter Dingle was the PhD supervisor for one of the AVN’s shining lights (yes, sarcasm), a certain Judy Wilyman… google if you dare.
    The Western Australia Coroner’s findings are bloody heartbreaking to read.
    http://tinyurl.com/648etf8

  50. #50 The Typical Pharma Shill
    Youtube Wiretapping Lab, NWO HQ
    April 29, 2013

    MSII, I’m afraid Norton is computer woo.

  51. #51 Mark McAndrew
    United Kingdom
    April 29, 2013

    Sent to the council:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    You have an international fraud coming to town, who will be proudly flaunting the 1939 Cancer Act: http://welshconferenceofhomoeopathy.com/resources/cancerseminar.pdf

    If you can stop the ‘Doctor’ breaking the law, please do. If not, suggest you attend and record everything, then prosecute him and the organiser. If you require a member of the public to report this elsewhere (police, etc), please let me know.

    This is what happens when cancer patients are told that pure water can cure them: http://www.safetyandquality.health.wa.gov.au/docs/mortality_review/inquest_finding/Dingle_Finding.pdf

    (Will report back with results. More than any homeopath has ever done…)

  52. #52 Khani
    April 30, 2013

    #51 The pedant in me must, must, must speak. I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t, but I really truly honestly want to help! It should be “flouting,” not “flaunting.”

    It’s a very good letter, though, and I hope we do get a response.

    I love science, but I’m not a scientist at all, and sometimes I do struggle a bit with the more complex topics here– but I *am* a huge word nerd. Please be kind, it’s the only thing I have to contribute, really.

  53. #53 janerella
    Ponderland.
    April 30, 2013

    Dingle was a guest speaker at a school science technician’s conference I attended in some years ago. (before the whole standing by and watching his wife suffer needlessly and die episode). He was mostly promoting his nutrition and wellness book, and was well regarded with an impressive academic career, radio spots and plenty of “expert opinion” TV airtime on local current affairs shows.

    There was never any question in the way he presented himself that he was anything but a medical-background doctor, and he would always mention the teams of researchers he had working for him fact-checking all his sources. Afterwards I asked him a question about artificial sweetners – having chosen after 3 pregnancies with gestational diabetes and a strong family history of type 2 diabetes to not eschew sweetness in my tea. Well, not only did I get the aspartame is poison spiel, but also the sugar is evil speech. I went away, worried to death that I had unwittingly subjected myself and my babies to “toxic” influences. Once I had looked it all up myself – and my first port of call would always be putting Snopes/Hoax Slayer at the start of my Google search, and later using Science Based Medicine and Google Scholar – I fairly quickly came to the conclusion that he was a bit of a quack. About a year later the tragic case of his wife came to light, and that is when I really got interested in the world of pseudoscientists.

    I do still shake my head at the fact that I can come out the other side of a simple science degree with the capacity for decent critical thinking – and he, with two degrees (ok, one in teaching, initially) honours and a PhD and still end up mired so deep in woo-ful thinking.

  54. #54 Richard
    May 1, 2013

    I noticed that he distinguished homeopathy from ‘Western Medicine’. Wasn’t homeopathy invented in Europe?

  55. #55 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    May 1, 2013

    Richard – yes, it was. Now you know the folly (and possibly unconscious racism) of dividing medicine int Western and Eastern.

  56. #56 hecateb1
    Murcia, Spain
    May 6, 2013

    I try to follow your blog whenever I can and since a friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer, even more so. After surgery and a first round of chemotherapy and 3 years cancer free, she has been diagnosed with metastasis in lung, brain and liver and undergone 10 rounds of radiation and chemotherapy. We (her friends) have tried to be as supportive as we can, but lately, her sister, a friend of ours who’s a doctor herself and I, a mere biologist, are a bit worried about her turning to alternative medicine. I am relieved to see that she’s not refusing ‘conventional’ treatment, even if painful. I have just have a round of debunking the use of sodium bicarbonate and chlorine dioxide (I hesitate to say who’s more despicable of the quacks advocating those ‘treatments’) and I think I managed to convince her, but she still pursues the use of medicinal plants, in particular Ganoderma, as recced by a naturopath. I’ve read a few articles on the subject and I find myself hesitant to say ‘go with it’ or ‘stop this nonsense’ because my grasp of the subject is simply not that good. I was particularly interested in this article:
    Int J Mol Med. 2008 May;21(5):577-84.
    Ganoderic acids suppress growth and invasive behavior of breast cancer cells by modulating AP-1 and NF-kappaB signaling.

    Would you say there is anything to it?

  57. #57 Tricia O'Kane
    May 30, 2013

    How dreadful of this outrageous quack doctor. I’d much rather be injected with poison any day than have these non-harmful remedies! Thank goodness that western medicine is so successful and that people treated by surgery, radiation and poison NEVER DIE from cancer. Thank goodness for the 1939 cancer act that ensures that these toxic CURES are the only ones allowed legally. And thank goodness that surgery, radiotherapy and poison ALWAYS WORK and NEVER HARM ANYONE!

  58. #58 Dude
    June 1, 2013

    Some of the products by the herb company mentioned in comment #44 (apparently) contain up to 47% lead (!) _ttp://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/pr2007/pr027-07.shtml

    @ Tricia O’Kane

    Modern medicine may not be 100% effective (nothing is), but homeopathy does absolutely nothing. To paraphrase Ben Goldacre, just because science-based medicine isn’t perfect doesn’t mean magic beans cure cancer.