Parents need to know homeopathy does not protect against measles, says MP

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The GP and Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston is calling on homeopathy's governing bodies to make it clear to parents that their alternative remedies will not protect children from measles outbreaks.


Large numbers of children have not had the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, largely because of the scare that followed the publication of research by Andrew Wakefield in the Lancet medical journal in 1998 that postulated a link between the jab and autism. The research was later discredited and Wakefield was struck off by the General Medical Council for fraud.

In Wollaston's constituency of Totnes, Devon, the concern generated by Wakefield lingers on and is part of the reason, she believes, for a general distrust of vaccines and a reliance on homeopathy – remedies that are almost entirely water.

About 70% of five-year-olds in Totnes were fully protected against measles last year, she said on her blog, compared with 94% of those in Brixham, just miles away.

"Some parents have an unshakeable belief that homeopathy boosts their child's immune system. They would rather put their faith in 'natural' methods, as they see it," she told the Guardian.

Written By: Sarah Boseley
continue to source article at guardian.co.uk

30 COMMENTS

  1. If it wouldn’t be to the detriment of innocent children, I would love to see a horrifying disease, preventable only by vaccination, spread across the country. People who expose their children to unnecessary harm on a daily basis by putting their faith in woo and, well… faith, might finally realise what they are doing and become responsible parents.

  2. “There is no evidence to suggest homeopathic vaccinations can protect against contagious diseases. We recommend people seek out the conventional treatments,” a spokesman said.

    Why stop there?:

    s/ic vaccinations can protect against contagious diseases/y works/

    • In reply to #4 by Aztek:

      remedies that are almost entirely water.

      Why the cautious tone? Let’s be honest: they are entirely water.

      Actually, if they envision themselves surrounded by a protective pink bubble of energy, at least that’s more than just water. Err, um, well, actually not.

    • In reply to #5 by Alan4discussion:

      In Wollaston’s constituency of Totnes, Devon,

      That’s just across the Severn estuary from South Wales!

      Swansea measles: Figures increase to 765- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-22164296

      That might help focus their minds!

      Actually Totnes is on the south Devon coast, and is further, and harder to reach from Swansea than London is. It is a strange town, being the hub of the yoghurt-knitting community. It is the place that purveyors of woo tend to flock to, and it doesn’t surprise me at all that the vaccination rates are so low there. I’m hoping that measles doesn’t hit there, despite a rather worrying feeling that it would serve them right, as I’m not sure the hospitals in the area would be able to cope with the rush, or if they have enough stocks of crystals and magic water to fill the demand.

  3. I was about to sound off on the problem of ignorance begetting confidence and how this could all be resolved if people would just defer to experts. But then I remembered that your press just gave supreme asshole’s opinion coverage like it mattered. I’m sure his original report was also treated like it came from expert work and represented expert opinion.

  4. Well placed, subtle barbs about quackery have a way of festering into conventional wisdom.

    Putting homeopaths “in a sack and beating them with sticks” works well too (Dara O’Briain).

    Mike

    • In reply to #10 by Virgin Mary:

      People really are idiots. I have all but lost hope in humanity.

      If you read the BBCs “have your say” last week on the subject of MMR you would have completely lost it. I know opinion forums are often overrepresented by those with extreme opinions because they tend to be more motivated than average, but really it is depressing.

      What I don’t understand is that the BBC has a clear policy of preventing comments that can lead people to harm ( its supposedly their main criteria). However they seem to have blind spot when it comes to medicine and alternative medicine.
      I complained once after somebody posted something saying that chemotherapy killed people and the best way of treating cancer was through herbal remedies and was told this was valid free speech.

      Well that might be true but it could definitely lead somebody to harm if they abandoned a course of chemotherapy to try some herbal concoction.

  5. Virgin Mary:

    People really are idiots. I have all but lost hope in humanity.

    Methinks the lady doth give in too easily.

    People are not idiots. They are however fed far too much disinformation. Indeed bombarded with trivia day in and day out. Quacks like Wakefield who exploit distrust of authority and who pursue their own interests first, don’t help matters. But people are not idiots, misguided yes, – but not idiots.

  6. This seems to be hugely naive. Homeopathy’s “governing bodies” make their living by lying about the performance of their “remedies”. Expecting them to tell the truth about any “remedy” would expose that the same was true about every other “remedy”.

    Homeopathic placeboes are actually worse than no medicine at all. A person not taking medicine knows they are not protected from diseases. A person taking a homeopathic product thinks they are protected, and will delay seeking a genuine treatment when they need it.

  7. Why has no-one ever set up a homeopathic hospital? The peddle powered ambulance could be fitted out with crystals, ambulance officers could snap healing rubber bands around their wrists to keep them going while soothing whale music plays across the siren. While they drive calmly to the hospital to be treated with the heavy stuff the homeopathic cures.

    I’ve heard so many people bitch and complain about western medicine after having just had their lives saved by it. Let them put their adult money where their mouth is.

    • In reply to #15 by Reckless Monkey:

      Why has no-one ever set up a homeopathic hospital? The peddle powered ambulance could be fitted out with crystals, ambulance officers could snap healing rubber bands around their wrists to keep them going while soothing whale music plays across the siren. While they drive calmly to the hospital to be treated with the heavy stuff the homeopathic cures.

      I’ve heard so many people bitch and complain about western medicine after having just had their lives saved by it. Let them put their adult money where their mouth is.

      It’s because powerful Big Pharma has a vested interest to keep Big Placebo sidelined. /sarcasm

      Mike

  8. I agree with Nodhimmi!
    Blithering idiots (and especially their children ) have to be protected from the murderous nonsense of homeopathy.
    It’s just like religion : faith in fairy tales as opposed to evidence based trials.
    An acupuncturist/homeopathist convinced a patient of mine that she was being poisoned by Iridium in her denture!

  9. Actually, I feel the record needs to be set straight. Not all homeopathic remedies are entirely water. Some are made using ‘medicinal solvent’ which is about 60% water, 40% ethanol. In other words that ‘good feeling’ people get from taking homeopathic remedies is just what’s commonly known as getting drunk.

    • In reply to #20 by AsylumWarden:

      Actually, I feel the record needs to be set straight. Not all homeopathic remedies are entirely water. Some are made using ‘medicinal solvent’ which is about 60% water, 40% ethanol. In other words that ‘good feeling’ people get from taking homeopathic remedies is just what’s commonly known as getting drunk.

      And there is at least one homeopathic remedy where the “active ingredient” is water. How this can work has never been explained (like the rest of homeopathy, only more so). If diluting something makes it stronger as homeopaths claim, then a “remedy” based on water must become weaker the more it is diluted (this at least conforms with logic, and the laws of physics and chemistry as they apply in the non-homeopathic universe), but the “magic whacking bit” obviously resolves this logic implosion.

      As for the viability of “water memory”, consider this:

      1- all water on Earth is (effectively) endlessly recycled
      2- the human body is ~70% water
      3- some fraction of this water will, in the past, have been used by some animal that died of disease
      4- if diluting an active ingredient makes it stronger, then this disease must by now be terrifyingly potent
      5- all life on Earth is therefore doomed (or should already have died)

  10. Has anyone got any advice on how to tell a friend or aquaintence what you think about their intention to become a homeopathic therapist, or what to say if they tell you they are already a homeopathic therapist?

    I have known or met quite a few people in this position. Often they will come from a health related profession such as a yoga or pilates teacher, or maybe a massage therapist, none of which I have an issue with. If they suddenly say, I’ve given up my massage job, sold my house, etc, in order to train as a homeopathic therapist – how should you respond? They are usually extremely nice, caring people, with the very best of intentions – and nearly always female, which makes it naturally harder for me to tell them what I think: that they’re wasting their life and they could actually be harming people!

    For some reason I would have no problem telling anyone who intended to be a priest that I thought religion was a load of nonsense, and even that I considered it dangerous. I think that may be because it is widely accepted that many people hold that view. I don’t think they’d be shocked to be told that.

    • In reply to #25 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

      Has anyone got any advice on how to tell a friend or aquaintence what you think about their intention to become a homeopathic therapist, or what to say if they tell you they are already a homeopathic therapist?

      I have known or met quite a few people in this position. Often they will come from a health related profession such as a yoga or pilates teacher, or maybe a massage therapist, none of which I have an issue with. If they suddenly say, I’ve given up my massage job, sold my house, etc, in order to train as a homeopathic therapist – how should you respond? They are usually extremely nice, caring people, with the very best of intentions – and nearly always female, which makes it naturally harder for me to tell them what I think: that they’re wasting their life and they could actually be harming people!

      I can’t give you an exact answer because I did not hear an exact question. Yes, new agey hippy types are usually very friendly, nonjudgmental, cordial etc. Yoga, pilates, massage therapy are all good professions that may have a bit of woo, but the benefits can be substantiated and outweigh the woo. I’ve met a fair share of 65 and older yoga divas and they are in great health.

      Have you really met someone who sold their house? My thought is: If the person cannot think through a situation enough to realizing that selling their house was a bad idea, what can you say (be honest) that will wake them up? Anything?

      Here is one thing I might do. Tell them that you were in some health food store (go to one and check it out.) You looked at a few labels and noticed some 26X and 400X – ask “Do you know what this actually means?” Wait for an answer and tell them that after 26X “If pure water was used as the diluent, no molecules of the original solution remain in the water.” Ask them if they would take a medication that had no ingredients. Wait for the response. If all else fails take a beer to the sink pour half into another glass and put it aside, fill the other glass with half water, and then dump out half of that, then fill with water, dump out half of that and fill with water, do this twenty-six times and tell them to drink homeopathic beer or wine. (While your adding water beat them to the punch that yes you are using tap water because filtered is not available – or use filtered water.) Then give everyone else in the room a beer or you if there is no one else in the room, give the person the choice of the “beer” diluted 26x or the half beer. Find out why they made their choice.

  11. Surely it is illegal to sell water and pretend it is a active drug. In the USA the drugs must be proven to be more effective than a placebo. Homeopathic remedies could not do that.

    Perhaps the way out is to pretend to take them seriously and publish the result that they simply don’t work along with some lurid specific cases.

    • In reply to #27 by Roedy:

      Surely it is illegal to sell water and pretend it is a active drug. In the USA the drugs must be proven to be more effective than a placebo. Homeopathic remedies could not do that.

      Perhaps the way out is to pretend to take them seriously and publish the result that they simply don’t work along with some lurid specific cases.

      It is my understanding the in both the US and UK, homeopathic “remedies” are NOT marketed as drugs, and therefore do not have to go through the same testing to confirm that they have any function at all.

      Companies producing homeopathic products are very careful not to make any claim which can be interpreted so as to imply that their products are some form of medicine, that would open them to the kind of testing and examination which would quickly disprove they have any efficacy, so they do not try.

      They are marketed as herbal “food supplements”. Again you would expect that some form of testing would be required to verify that they are safe for consumption, but as they are either: a- water and alcohol, with no active ingredient, b- sugar pills with no active ingredient; only very basic checking is required. They are “safe” in as much as they can do no possible harm.

  12. There are consequences from failing to vaccinate!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-22215185 Swansea measles epidemic: Man who died had measles.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-22221704 Swansea measles:

    Hundreds at clinics held after man’s death. -

    “Those not fully vaccinated with two doses of MMR are highly likely to catch measles, which is highly contagious.”

    Some leave it very late to take notice of the wake-up call!

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