A cautionary tale to start the week.

I want to make it clear from the outset that I am not gloating here. The near death of a four-year-old is no cause for rejoicing throughout the land, and that’s not the purpose. The purpose is to highlight how people can be as dumb as a bag of wet mice, and hypocritical to boot.

The little boy had been diagnosed with autism. That’s not something parents tend to be too pleased about, and many seek to ‘cure’ it. That’s a hiding to nothing, since nobody understands the underlying aetiology. It may be genetic, it may be developmental. Nobody really knows. If you don’t know what’s broken you can’t mend it.

At the shallow end of the gene pool, there are parents who give their children household bleach. Some may make the poor mite swallow it, but the real loonies administer it in an enema. I’m not making that up. Household bleach enemas.

In this case things were a little less unhinged, and the parents sought the assistance of a naturopath. As all people who resort to naturopathy think, the parents assumed that any therapy that is natural would be safe. They pumped their offspring full of supplements including silver, zinc, magnesium, vitamin D, cod liver oil, and calcium. And camel milk. I didn’t make that up either.

The child lost 3kg in two weeks, which is enough to raise the red flags even for parents who are so misguided. The diagnosis was hypercalcaemia, and when the medics had stabilised the boy’s calcium levels to what they should be, things improved rapidly.

Hence the idea that natural equates to safe was smacked pretty vigorously around the head. But here’s the thing. What did these naturopathy nuts do when the going got tough? They rocked up at the A&E at Bart’s Hospital. They hate conventional medicine, and then the first thing they did was turn to the pros. I think that hypocritical in the extreme, but I’m glad they did.

I was reminded of an FB friend who is forever squawking about the dangers of pharma, and who is a strong advocate of, for example, turmeric and dandelion root for the treatment of cancer, since they’re natural and safe. Last month she had an MRI scan. That clearly means she’s pretty unwell, but despite her hatred of conventional medicine she’s quite prepared to resort to it when the shit hits the fan.

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