Fear not, Ebola victims of Africa, for the homeopaths are coming to save you! Well, I presume they are … after all, they claim to have remedies that will cure the effects of this deadly virus.
Let’s see … Homeopaths Without Borders aren’t going, but they are reaching out “to our counterparts working in Africa to offer our support”. Perhaps they mean Homeopathy for Health in Africa, or Homoopathen Ohne Grenzen, or Homeopathes Sans Frontieres, or Homeopaten Zonder Grenzen Nederland, or Homeopathes Autour Du Monde Suisse, or the All-Nigeria Homeopathic Medical Association, or the Gambia Wellness Foundation, or the Ghana Homeopathy Project, or the Homeopathic Association of South Africa, or the Senya/Tamale Homeopathy Project, or the Abha Light Foundation, or the Swaziland Homeopathy Project?
Hm, looking at their websites, none of these counterparts in Africa seem to have anything to say about Ebola (at time of writing, six months into the epidemic). Well, actually the Swaziland Homeopathy Project do mention it on their Facebook page – they link to an article by English homeopath Steve Scrutton called ‘Ebola Virus – it’s not an untreatable disease!‘
The general point of Scrutton’s article is to say that the “conventional medical establishment” is not able to treat Ebola, but homeopathy can, and he offers several examples.
One of these is a homeopathic preparation based on the venom of the Six-Eyed Crab Spider. “Click here to see the research undertaken on this remedy in the treatment of Ebola” he says. So I did.
What I found was a paper called ‘Sicarius (Six-Eyed Crab Spider): A homeopathic treatment for Ebola haemorrhagic fever and disseminated intravascular coagulation?‘ that was published in the British Homeopathic Journal in 1999. Note the question-mark at the end there.
Reading the paper revealed that it offered no research whatsoever related to a remedy. It described a study by someone else that looked at the effect of Sicarius venom on rabbits (Newlands, 1982), saw that one of the reported effects of the venom was disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), noted that one of the effects of Ebola is disseminated intravascular coagulation, and concluded that therefore Sicarius venom could be used to treat Ebola.
This follows the rule, in homeopathy, that ‘like cures like‘ – so a little of what causes a symptom, diluted until there is barely a molecule of it left (the water remembers it) will become the treatment. How do homeopaths research this? Usually just by thinking about it for a short while. For instance, hay fever causes the eyes to water; what else causes the eyes to water? Onions! Therefore: homeopathic remedy for hay fever = onions (though you must use its binomial to make it sound scientific, of course, Allium cepa).
This is about as scientific as the Law of Rhymes (which I’ve just invented). What does Ebola rhyme with? Granola! There’s your cure for Ebola right there – a muesli-based cereal. But you don’t need to eat it, just breathe in the air around it – it’s more potent that way, and the further away you are, the more potent it is.
Bearing this Law of Similars in mind, the author of this highly questionable paper, Dr Cornelia Richardson-Boedler, goes on to suggest – amazingly – that the infected blood of an Ebola victim (a “nosode“), and even the Ebola virus itself, should also be considered as possible cures.
But will the homeopathic community, many of whom have echoed Mr Scrutton’s claim, be asked to step in and save the day? “I regret to say that this is unlikely!” laments Scrutton. You see, he explains, Big Pharma will spend millions on developing drugs that won’t be ready for years and are even already using an untested drug which is sure to cause immense harm.
It is, of course, right that these drugs are fully tested, and that does take time. Even so, a vaccine is currently being trialled, and may even see its first use in Africa sometime in 2015.
As for the untested drug, ZMapp, that is being provided for free. And yes, it may do harm, but this is being weighed up against the alternative – almost certain death. As of this writing I’m aware of five people who have received ZMapp – two have survived Ebola (though both gave more credit to “God” than medical science), two have died from the virus, and one, currently in the UK, is still being treated. The available supply is now exhausted.
Homeopaths and their pseudoscientific supporters would be horrified if the drugs suppled by Big Pharma were made publicly available without proper, robust testing, or weren’t subject to the strict safety conditions of organisations such as the MHRA, the EMA or the FDA (not that homeopaths trust them). Yet, apply the same standards to homeopathy and they scream injustice, cry conspiracy, organise petitions, and claim patients’ rights are being infringed.
Still, fear not, homeopaths, even though you have the answer to Africa’s Ebola worries, you will not have to dirty your shoes with the dust of humankind’s birthplace. One of your number, Dr Bill Gray, has come up with a solution – eRemedies. These are short audio files of homeopathic energy that you can play in order to stimulate the body to heal itself. Two are available specifically for Ebola – one to be used as a preventative, and another to listen to if you have been sick for over 48 hours. These are, very generously, free (unlike Dr Gray’s usual fees – $600 for an initial consultation), so, people of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria, get downloading*.
(* Don’t. Please seek proper medical advice.)