Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

The harm of homeopathy

I wrote about a year ago about how some homeopaths, rather than living up to the nice friendly all-natural image they like to present, are actually hugely irresponsible and act in bad faith.

I've seen a shocking example of the behaviour of a homeopath today. But first, some background.

Penelope Dingle died of cancer in 2005, after being treated by a homeopath, Francine Scrayen. Dingle's cancer was probably curable with appropriate treatment, but Scrayen convinced her to opt for homeopathic treatment instead, with predictable results. You can read the coroner's report here, but be warned, you will find it upsetting. Even more upsetting is a letter written by Dingle herself after she realised that Scrayen had let her down.

The Australian blogger Dan Buzzard has written about his case in some detail. Today I learned that Scrayen is threatening him with libel action. Someone acting in good faith might reflect on the mistakes they made in advising a cancer patient to use homeopathy instead of effective treatment. Trying to suppress the story of what happened does not seem like acting in good faith to me.

I am sure that there are many homeopaths who do act responsibly and would never dream of attempting to treat cancer with nothing more than sugar pills. Now would be a good time for them to make a lot of noise about how they strongly condemn Scrayen's actions if they don't want their entire profession to be thought of as irresponsible.

This story deserves to be widely known. Homeopathy is dangerously unregulated. If homeopaths are either deluded enough or unscrupulous enough to fool patients with serious diseases into forgoing effective treatment, the consequences can be as tragic as they were for Penelope Dingle. There is a real need for advertising regulations to be more strictly enforced, and for some meaningful professional regulation of homeopaths, to stop this sort of thing happening again

Oh, and if Francine Scrayen's lawyers are reading this post, then please note that I will be happy to correct any factual inaccuracies in this post if you can identify any. If you object to this post for any other reason, then I refer you to the reply given in the case of Arkell vs Pressdram.

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