Friday, 14 December 2018

Non-compliant Society of Homeopaths members

A previous post discussed the condition placed on the reaccreditation of the Society of Homeopaths (SoH) by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) regarding CEASE therapy.

In short, the SoH has until 31/12/2018 to ensure that members' websites comply with the (weaselly worded) SoH position statements on CEASE therapy, vaccination and homeoprophylaxis.

SoH Position Statements
This is reproduced in full.
Homeopathic prophylaxis
The Society of Homeopaths has a clear policy on ‘homeoprophylaxis’ – it does not endorse the use of homeopathic medicines as an alternative to vaccination for the prevention of serious infectious diseases. 
The Society recommends that members of the public seek the advice of their GP, and/or relevant Department of Health guidelines, concerning vaccination and protection against disease whilst travelling. 
Currently there is no homeopathic alternative to vaccination or anti-malarial drugs which has been proven beyond doubt to be clinically effective. It is therefore unethical for a homeopath to advise a patient against the use of conventional vaccines or anti-malarial drugs. 
The Society acknowledges that homeoprophylaxis is a controversial area of homeopathy which differs significantly from usual homeopathic practice and that the current level of scientific evidence on homeoprophylaxis (including historical clinical experience and contemporary research) is insufficient to make definitive claims of efficacy or effectiveness. 
There is sufficient research evidence to suggest that homeoprophylaxis may be effective in certain circumstances and the Society therefore supports further rigorous, ethical research to its use. 
The Society supports informed decision making in regard to vaccination. We recommend that patients seek advice from their GP, as well as organisations that specialise in providing information about this complex issue, so they can make an informed choice for themselves and their children. 
The Society of Homeopaths appreciates that its registered members use different methodologies and adjunctive approaches and embraces diversity within the homeopathic community. We consider diversity to be healthy and appropriate to the demands of an informed public. 
CEASE is a therapy designed by Dr Tinus Smits in the Netherlands. A number of Society members have been trained in CEASE and make reference to it in their marketing. While this is acceptable, members should be aware the title, meaning ‘Complete Elimination of Autistic Spectrum Expression’ is misleading. RSHoms must not suggest that they are capable of a complete cure of autism as this would be unethical and in breach of the Code of Ethics. 
The Society does not endorse any aspects of CEASE therapy contrary to NHS guidance and nor should RSHoms, in particular on vaccination, homeopathic prophylaxis, and the use of dietary supplements. It is beyond standard homeopathic practice to provide advice on the use of supplements and therefore any guidance given should be in line with the NHS Guidelines
As previously discussed, this falls far short of the position that a professional organisation with a commitment to public health and safeguarding would take.

List of non-compliant members
This list is of SoH members who have CEASE therapy or the related Homeopathic Detox Therapy (HDT). Whilst there may be other members who do not comply with either the homeoprophylaxis or vaccination statement, it is difficult to determine who they are.

It is likely that the SoH will attempt to take the softest position with compliance. Whether this will satisfy the PSA is another matter and if history is anything to go by, they will complain and attempt to drag things out.

This list obviously contains members who have been discussed in the past. It is worth pointing out that the SoH have been provided with versions of this list. It isn't perfect.

Explanation indicates a listing on that website. That website is likely still non-compliant with Dutch advertising regulation. It would appear that the SoH think that a listing is not a problem. This is odd. Whether the PSA will agree with them is unknown. It might be better if SoH members requested listing removal. entry - some SoH members have a more detailed entry, which suggests a great interest in touting for business.

HDT? refers to whether a practitioner is listed on this website.

CEASE Therapy Claims? Examples of where more than a passing mention is made of CEASE. The claims vary. Only one page is recorded but there could be others.

Links to The ASA ruling against Teddington Homeopathy makes clear that such links are not permitted and the SoH should be aware of this. So linking to the CEASE therapy website is bad but having it link to an SoH member website is OK? The potential effect on consumer thinking is the same - they will have been exposed to "vaccines cause autism" and "autism can be cured".

Complete Elimination of Autistic Spectrum Expression? Use of this phrase is expressly forbidden.

Vaccination cause autism etc? Even the mere implicitation of this is forbidden. Some SoH members have a tendency to ignore the clear guidance that has been given. Nor that the SoH has shown any signs of enforcement.

So what?
Placing details of (potentially) non-compliant member into the public domain is a deliberate attempt to force the SoH to get their members to comply and if they don't, start disciplinary action.

The list will be revisited in early January 2019 to see if compliance has occurred. 

UPDATE 26/01/2019
At the time of writing, the PSA have either not completed the re-accreditation process or are yet to publish it. It is quite possible the process is taking longer that it should because the SoH are arguing over the wording. But there has been a development.

A paper prepared for a PSA board meeting on 19/01/2019 tells us something interesting -
We recommend continuing our observance of the founding principles. In the light of our experience with considering the issues involved in CEASE therapy we would highlight one additional point. Whilst we addressed this primarily from a safety perspective, it also raised an ethical issue under the Equality Act in so far as the therapy seeks to ‘eliminate’ a characteristic that not everyone would think necessary or desirable to eliminate. Since we already consider observance with the Equality Act within our assessment process we do not think we need to amend the principles. 
We consider the safeguarding legislative gap to present an ongoing risk to the public and we will continue to raise this matter with the DHSC and Ministers. This year we will focus our assessment activity on accredited registers risk management procedures, which will include reviewing their safeguarding arrangements and if this continues to highlight a problem, we will present our findings to DHSC to strengthen our call for action.
Many posts on this blog have raised questions about the attitudes of CEASE practitioners towards autism. The PSA have confirmed that -
In applying our equality duties, we made the decision that therapies underpinned by a philosophy that a protected characteristic under the Equalities Act (e.g. autism, sexual orientation) is a negative characteristic to be eliminated, must not be provided by ARs.
Or rather members of an Accredited Register. This puts a slightly different complexion on things. It's no longer about claims made by practitioners. It goes without saying that the PSA would not accredit an AR whose members offered, say, gay conversion therapy (which is still legal - the Counsellors and Psychotherapists (Regulation) and Conversion Therapy Bill is yet to be passed)It's clear that CEASE is very wrong about autism in so many ways but does CEASE embody a philosophy that autism is something to be eliminated?

It is possible that Tinus Smits chose CEASE as a catchy acronym but at the very least "Complete Elimination of Autistic Spectrum Expression" displays a profound insensitivity towards autistic people. The reactions of autistic people to the phrase vary but are uniformly negative. This is far more important than what the SoH, individual homeopaths and their supporters think. It is also more important than that non-autistic critics of CEASE therapy think. The PSA should listen to autistic people first.

Safeguarding has been discussed previously. That the PSA do identify a gap in legislation is good but change to legislation is difficult to achieve (see this for other proposed changes). If changes do result, it will affect more than just the SoH. 

Examination of the above list of non-compliant SoH members reveal few substantive changes to any website (and readers are encouraged to look for themselves). It is assumed that the SoH must now have begun disciplinary proceedings against these members - it would be awkward if the SoH failed to carry out something that they have publicly committed to doing whilst the re-accreditation process was being carried out.

If CEASE is a philosophy of elimination, then the PSA have raised the bar considerably in terms of compliance. Short of getting rid of all mention of CEASE, getting rid of links to the CEASE website and listing on there too, it is difficult to see how SoH members could comply. This does not only apply to websites but also social media, email newsletters and so on. If CEASE is a philosophy of elimination, then practice could well be grounds for instant expulsion.

Things can move very slowly. It is necessary to wait for the outcome of the re-accreditation process to be publish. Perhaps non-compliant members will start to amend their websites?

CEASE therapy has had profound implications for naturopathy in British Columbia. The practice has been banned for naturopaths and likely had some impact on advertising policy enforcement too.

It does not seem as if CEASE therapy has much of a future in the UK.

UPDATE 03/03/2019
The PSA have not published their re-accreditation of the SoH. The SoH have made no mention of re-accreditation either. They are holding elections for director appointments as mentioned in this news story. It appears some members asked (on the SoH's members only forum) if the Society’s work to retain accredited register status with the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) has been worthwhile? Interestingly one of the candidates is Margaret Kincade who offers CEASE therapy and is listed on the website. It would be possible to read too much into this.

The SoH are publishing board minutes again but note that the public versions are redacted (there are also members only (likely) redacted versions too). It is what is not said that is of more interest that what is - i.e. what is going with the PSA, CEASE therapy and the potential initiation of disciplinary procedures. There was a board meeting on 11/02/2019 but the minutes have yet to be published. 

The SoH Conference is March 22-24. It is possible that the SoH are hoping that the re-accreditation isn't made public until after this given the upset that the Guardian reporting of CEASE therapy caused just before the last one. 

The PSA recently re-accredited the Federation of Holistic Therapists. Mention is made of CEASE therapy -
During the year the team raised the issue of Complete Elimination of Autistic Spectrum Expression (CEASE) therapy with FHT. FHT confirmed that it does not endorse the practice of CEASE therapy and that homeopaths practising this would not be accepted onto its register. FHT carried out an audit of its members who practise homeopathy and noted that all confirmed that they did not practise CEASE therapy. FHT informed its registrants that it does not accept, endorse or insure this practice and has added a statement on its homeopathy therapy descriptor page of its website.
It's easy for an organisation that has no members practicing a particular therapy to outlaw it. However, 

There do not seem to have been any changes to the above list of SoH members who (potentially) offer CEASE therapy or HDT. The SoH have been made aware of this.

The biggest problem for the SoH is Jennifer Hautman. Her website security certificate has expired and many potential customers will thus not look at it but Hautman has a long history of non-compliance with advertising and medicines regulation as well as consumer protection law, let alone compliance with the SoH Code of Ethics. 

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Letter to UK politicians

An email has been sent to officers of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Autism (APPGA) bringing CEASE therapy to their attention and asking them to look into why regulators have not acted. None have responded yet. It is possible that an email from a single individual is easily ignored. Hence, (some of) the text is being placed in the public domain in the hope that others will write to their MPs, local representatives and members of the House of Lords with an interest in autism. It might also be helpful if autism groups are made aware of this too.

Public reaction to CEASE therapy on social media, when its nature is explained, is overwhelmingly one of "it's child abuse!"

It's not suggested that the text be used verbatim. The text omits details of various recent developments, actions involving other jurisdictions.

A quote from the "inventor" of CEASE therapy -

... All kinds of detoxification reactions may occur. The most common are eliminative reactions with an increase of reactivity (fever). Fever should not be treated with medication, as it is a healthy reaction of the organism and not a disease! It helps greatly to overcome an acute disturbance, shortens the healing process, stimulates reactivity and avoids complications. Eliminations like diarrhea, flu, expectoration, and bad-smelling and cloudy urine should also be left alone, because they are a part of the healing process.
A case of diarrhea as a cleansing reaction
I remember an autistic child who got diarrhea during the detoxification of his vaccines. The diarrhea relieved his system so much, that his autism almost disappeared instantly. After ten days the mother started to worry and went to the family doctor because I was absent at that moment. He prescribed Immodium (Loperamide) to stop the diarrhea by paralyzing the peristaltic motions of the bowels. Almost immediately the child had a setback and became autistic as before. The diarrhea was a perfect detoxification for his bowels and brain. Neither the doctor not the mother understood this, and the medication interfered with the progress of the cure.
Chilling and obviously neglect.

CEASE therapy
  • Stands for "Complete Elimination of Autistic Spectrum Expression".
  • Claims 70% of cases of autism are caused by vaccines
  • Claims autism also caused by other medicines
  • Claims it can treat and even "reverse" autism
  • Uses doses of supplements/vitamins in excess of NHS guidelines
  • Claims homeopathic medicines made from vaccines/medicines "detox" the "damage" caused by them
  • Advocates against vaccination
  • Advocates "celebrating" and not treating symptoms of potential serious conditions. They are signs of "detox".
  • Advocates against medical treatment/very anti-doctor
A detailed examination of CEASE therapy can be found here.

  • Around 170 practitioners in the UK
  • Vast majority not medically qualified, have no autism awareness, safeguarding training.
  • Many are virulently anti-vaccination
  • Some practitioners claim to have treated "hundreds" of children. The exact numbers currently at risk of neglect is unknown but it is known one practitioner is attempting to recruit 400-500 families.
  • Much of the "diagnosis" and "treatment" is done online (esp via Skype)
  • "Detox" homeopathic medicines are unlicensed medicines. Supply to/by medically unqualified practitioners offence under Human Medicines Regulations 2012
  • Marketing claims in breach of consumer protection legislation
  • Marketing claims in breach of ASA advertising regulation
  • Illegal and/or unethical trials have been conducted
Media coverage
There was a story in the Guardian and a rehashed version in the Mail. There have been similar stories in Canada.

Actions taken
  • Concerns raised with Society of Homeopaths who initially ignored. SoH is accredited by Professional Standards Agency.
  • Concerns re SoH inaction raised with PSA. PSA concerned enough to impose conditions on SoH reacreditation.
  • Concerns raised with Alliance of Registered Homeopaths. Ignored.
  • List of practitioners and claims supplied to ASA. Known ASA have engaged in some action.
  • Concerns raised with Medicines and Healthcare Product Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Have previously forbidden online listing of "detox" remedies. Have powers to prevent supply but do.
  • Concerns raised with General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) re pharmacies supplying. Breach of professional standards. No action taken.
  • Attempts made to engage with various local Trading Standards but no response.
  • Concerns raised with local safeguarding board. Unable to act as children involved unknown.
Questions need to be raised with -
  • MHRA and why they will not act on illegal supply. This may need to be raised with the relevant minister at the Department of Health and Social Care as well.
  • GPhC as to why they do not deem the pharmacies that supply "detox" medicines as being in breach of professional standards.
  • PSA on why they reaccredited the SoH and what action they intend to take if SoH can not get its members to comply with agreed actions.
It is unlikely that the Society of Homeopaths et al would respond to any enquiry.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Animal Quackers

Those who promote/support homeopathy for animals are very fringe. Their numbers are tiny, their voices shrill and their tactics bizarre. The tactics are of interest as are links to 4Homeopathy etc.

Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons statement
The RCVS statement was discussed here as were some of the reactions. In short, the RCVS has taken the position that homeopathy treatments can not be used first resort by vets. It can only be used as adjunctive treatment, not sole treatment. The RCVS has the authority to determine standards for the profession.

The intial reactions were predictable but will not be discussed (much) here.

British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons
BAHVS says -
The Association was formed in 1982, to advance the understanding, knowledge and practice of veterinary homeopathy (homoeopathy / homœopathy).

It aims to stimulate professional awareness of homeopathy and to encourage and provide for the training of veterinary surgeons in the practice of homeopathy. It is an open forum for the various differing approaches to the subject of veterinary homeopathy and its application, allowing for constructive interchanges of ideas. The Association has a written constitution, adopted in 1988. Members follow a Code of Practice, adopted in 1998, which is regularly reviewed.
BAHVS is tiny. It lists 46 practices/vets and not all are in the UK. Some of these are ordinary practices, others are referral practices - ie they don't take clients on directly, only from other vets. There are around 15,000 vets in the UK.

Membership of BAHVS is open to those with qualifications accredited by the Faculty of Homeopathy (FoH). The FoH is closely linked to the British Homeopathic Association (BHA). The Portland Centre for Integrated Medicine (PCIM) will be discussed in a future post on NHS homeopathy.

The RCVS do not recognise homeopathy as a specialty. There is no requirement to have training or be a member of BAHVS to offer homeopathy.

The Officers are -

  • Chris Day // President
  • Ilse Pedler // Junior Vice-President
  • Jane Keogh // Senior Vice-President
  • Stuart Marston // Hon. Secretary
  • Wendy McGrandles // Secretary & Treasurer
  • Malene Jørgensen // Publications Editor
  • Peter Gregory // Faculty Veterinary Dean/IAVH Representative
  • Nick Thompson // Committee Member
  • Geoff Johnson // Committee Member
  • Mark Elliott // Committee Member
That is over 20% of the membership.

BAHVS has a statement on nosodes full of weasel words. These products can not be registered with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD). Placing them on the market is illegal. This is often ignored. BAHVS member Graham Hines is a  sells them to the public but in general vets who use them are very coy about it - it could get them struck off. Homeoprophylaxis - homeopathic "vaccination" - is a threat to animal and public health. It is know that it happens but evidence is a problem.  Chris Day, founder of BAHVS, is known to have used them and conducted "research" (kennel cough and bovine mastitis). 

BAHVS's Code of Practice is likely incompatible with the RCVS position on homeopathy. See -
It is not anticipated that animals, which are brought for homeopathic or other alternative or complementary medicine but which are not part of the member’s practice, should be treated with conventional drugs by the member. If such work is deemed necessary, it should be referred back to the original referring veterinary surgeon, who is better able to monitor the treatment.
Homeopathic treatment can not be solely used. Either the animal is referred back (potentially causing delay to treatment) or the BAHVS member treats them with conventional medicines.

BAHVS is a member of the International Association for Veterinary Homeopathy (IAVH). Both seem to operate out of Riverside Veterinary Surgery.

The membership fees are unknown. There is no obvious linked company or charity. There is a BAHVS PayPal account. BAHVS's size suggests a very low income. There is a crowdfunding campaign to "save" veterinary CAM but it has raised little money and is not publicised by BAHVS. It was not set up by BAHVS but by animal psychic Elaine Downs. Jackie Hat is involved too (secretary of Homeopathy at Wellie Level?). Logos of Helios Homoeopathy, Freemans Homoeopathic Pharmacy and Honey's appear but it is not clear if they give money to BAHVS.

The misleading video of the first BAHVS march was produced by the partner of vet and BAHVS member Malene Jørgensen. He is responsible for other BAHVS videos. The "Save Veterinary Homeopathy" logo that can be seen in the video looks very like the BHA "Save NHS Homeopathy and Herbal Medicine" logo.

BAHVS has a Twitter account and Facebook page. Many of the Twitter posts are identical to Nick Thompson's. They reveal "Big Pharma" conspiracy theories and plenty of anecdotes about homeopathy curing animals. It should be said that there are few trials of homeopathy on animals and they are even weaker than human ones.

Homeopathy at Wellie Level
HAWL provides training courses for farmers in homeopathy. Although based in the UK, it has run courses in Ireland. HAWL is a limited company. It's directors are - 

  • Susan LACROIX
  • Jeremy Charles Hector LEES
  • David John WILSON
Lacroix offers CEASE and other therapies as well as being an organic farmer. Wilson is a former director of the Soil Association and possibly (former) farm manager for Prince Charles (a very common name). Lay homeopath Chris Lees is co-ordinator and administrator. Jackie Hat was mentioned above. Internet research revealed freelance project manager and lay homeopath Jaqueline Pearce-Dickens working with them.

This page has BAHVS member Chris Auckland, BAHVS member Nancy Morris and lay homeopath and farmer Sue Warner as teachers.

HAWL also produce a number of publications. It seems that they are dependent on donations to keep going though.

HAWL has a Twitter account and a Facebook page but does not seem to promote the "Save Veterinary Homeopathy" campaign. HAWL does not seem to have strong links to other homeopathy organisations.

CAM4Animals is a strange organisation to say the least. "Freedom to Choose CAM for our Animals" is its slogan but there is more than what is on the website. They claim the RCVS position means -

  • Our freedom of choice as animal guardians has been compromised
  • Homeopathy is leading this campaign but all Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM) are affected
  • ​Farmers will be forced to use antibiotics before proven alternatives like homeopathy. This is a major concern for organic farmers and may reduce our access to organic food.
  • There is a serious threat to the fight against antibiotic resistance
  • Our homeopathic and holistic vets are having their livelihoods threatened
  • RCVS Council is failing to recognise the evidence that CAM therapies work
The ability of owners to treat their own animals with homeopathy is not affected. The sole use of CAM is likely affected but it is important to remember conventional treatment is not confined to medicines and surgery. Physiotherapy is used too, especially in rehabilitation.

The organic argument is misleading. Farmers are unaffected by the RCVS statement. Although homeopathy supporters may not like it, the implicit scope of homeopathy is for minor conditions. CAM4Animals has a faq page where it selectively quotes EU organic regulations. It gets other things wrong too.

There are various approaches to preventing antibiotic resistance. With regards to animals, better husbandry is one. The development of new vaccines will help. Not just for bacterial diseases - preventing viral diseases prevents secondary infection. Homeopathy is not one.

As for the livelihoods of vets being threatened? Not really. They are still qualified vets. A lot of BAHVS members do conventional treatment too.

CAM4Animals do not seem to understand what evidence is.

They call for -
  • A full retraction of the statement on CAM
  • An acknowledgement that animal guardians have the right to choose homeopathy and CAM as the primary treatment approach
  • An open and honest debate about what natural medicine can do for animal health
And they are concerned that -
  • RCVS Council has stepped outside of its remit and Royal Charter. The RCVS is there to regulate the profession and NOT to stop its members from making qualified, clinical decisions.
  • RCVS Council statement was influenced by certain Council members who are supported and associated with a network of organisations committed to discredit all CAM practitioners.
  • There was no consultation with the experts of veterinary homeopathic medicine, the British Association for Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons (BAHVS)​​.
This is very helpful. The objects of the College are -
to set, uphold and advance veterinary standards, and to promote, encourage and advance the study and practice of the art and science of veterinary medicine, in the interests of the health and welfare of animals and in the wider public interest.
The Charter grants the RCVS Council the powers to make rules. The Council is partly elected by members of the RCVS and partly appointed. The statement was the subject of much discussion over several meetings.

Can anyone be an expert in something that has no evidence of efficacy?

CAM4Animals says CAM includes -
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic
  • Herbal Remedies
  • Homeopathy
  • Massage Therapies, e.g. Bowen, Galen Myotherapy
Veterinary physiotherapy is not considered CAM ( an "allied health profession") and the profession wants statutory regulation. Hydrotherapy and some massage techniques would be in scope but not Bowen. Chiropractic offers nothing over physiotherapy.
Herbal products are treated like any other products. They require an MA [Marketing Authorisation] if they are medicinal by presentation or function. For example, a product containing pyrethrum, pyrethrins or alkaloids, such as digoxin from Digitalis sp., would be considered medicinal by function.
"By presentation" means if claims to treat/cure are made.

CAM4Animals say raw feeding and dietary supplements are under threat. The former doesn't make any sense. The issue with supplements are the marketing claims.

The website has photos of the second BAHVS march and a video. Some of the faces are familiar (Mani Norland?). Note different branding from the first "Stand Up 4 Homeopathy" instead of "Save Veterinary Homeopathy" and use of BAHVS logo. Claims of nearly 200 hundred supporters are made but eyewitness accounts suggest less. Note no obvious CAM4Animals branding anywhere.

The news page reveals only two stories. CAM4Animals presented the RCVS with a document that purportedly is a response to the evidence used to reach position statement. This is curious as the RCVS cite a lack of evidence for homeopathy. The document is not in the public domain. Its contents are unknown. It seems to have been delivered by "Sara" and "Jackie". To be fair, the Facebook page is primary medium for "news".

CAM4Animals has a Twitter account, Facebook page and Instagram account. Its social media output is mostly anecdote and misinformation. It boosts 4Homeopathy/BHA related campaigns/propaganda but no clear links to CAM4Animals. It boosts posts by its own members.

Who are CAM4Animals?
We are a group of concerned animal guardians and professionals who feel strongly that any threat to our freedom of choice for our animals must be contested. We support the British Association for Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons (BAHVS) official campaign to retract the RCVS statement.
The only name to appear on the website is lay homeopath Sara Kernohan. What looks to be a list of members and their roles was uncovered. They are a mixture of lay homeopaths, raw feeders, canine enthusiasts, some vets and random others. CEASE therapy and anti-vaccination in there too. The list will not be reproduced here. 
SURVEILLANCE- (probably best to go undercover with an 'alternative' profile/Avatar): - 'like' all their pages, sign up to all their blogs and forums, and screenshot any and everything that they post that may incriminate them or show their true colours. SPECIFICALLY DANNY CHAMBERS.
Ad hominem and what are the screenshots for? Some of social media accounts involved are very obvious. 
DEFENDING- either as yourself or as your 'alt-profile' - this means watching the RCVS page, VetSurgeon, VetNurse, and any other pages that have gloated about the RCVS statement and, - where a sceptic is spewing bile or attacking pro-CAM comments etc, - asking questions so that their true agenda is revealed. It is obvious that there is no point appealing to their better nature but we can trip them up. I will put together a list of questions we can ask that will put them on the spot. There is no point posting links to positive homeopathy research etc. - we know they won't read them and will just continue to troll us. Our strategy will be to keep asking questions like a barrister. We won't allow their lies to remain undefended or for them to attack CAM vets or clients.What we want to show is that they are nasty pieces of work, out to discredit all CAM and that they cannot hide behind the lie that they are 'concerned about the wee, furry animals'!
Projection? Social media is not an adversarial court. 

Other roles include -

  • Seek and store evidence supporting homeopathy. To lead and encourage other homeopaths to become involved. Provide easy info for homeopaths to share.
  • Seeking and storing information on the lack of evidence base in drugs and vax.
As well as badgering various people, boosting the petition and the crowdfunding - although little evidence of the latter.

Friday, 23 November 2018

UK Homeopathy Organisations #2

previous post looked at UK homeopathy organisations most closely linked to medical homeopathy. This looks at other organisations.

There is no accusation of conspiracy. At most, an attempt to create an illusion of more organisations than there are.

Although 4Homeopathy does have a website, it's not particularly informative. 
Our intention is to be a central “hub” for accurate information on current campaigns to retain access to homeopathy and details on how you can get involved and make your voice heard. Without public and patient support we will not be successful.
This article from Andy Lewis's Quackometer blog is from 2015 but it clearly explains what lies behind 4Homeopathy and some of its activities. It provides useful context.

This from the School of Homeopathy details some of the activities of 4Homeopathy. IMani Norland is a key player. Em Colley has contributed a lot of content. Colley does not grasp that social media can be considered advertising. Colley also had a run in with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) regarding CEASE therapy. Beyond that difficult to say who is directly involved and does what.

The groups involved with 4Homeopathy are -
  • Alliance of Registered Homeopaths
  • British Homeopathic Association
  • British Association of Homeopathic Manufacturers
  • British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons
  • Faculty of Homeopathy
  • Friends of the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine
  • Homeopathy Action Trust
  • Homeopathic Course Providers Forum
  • Homeopathic Research Institute
  • Society of Homeopaths
There are links to groups in Australia (Australian Homeopathic Association) and Hong Kong. It is known that Prof. Aaron To Ka Lun has donated money via different organisations. He is not a professor.

The campaigns that 4Homepathy and the linked groups seem to promote are -
  • "Homeopathy works for me"
  • A directory of homeopaths
  • Attacking the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons stance on CAM
  • Supporting strange US groups re FDA enforcement policy on homeopathic drugs
  • "Release the First Report"
  • A petition to have the Wikipedia entry for homeopathy changed
  • "Saving" NHS homeopathy
There's a problem with "Homeopathy works for me" - a correct formation would be I believe Homeopathy worked for me in the past. Some previous celebrity testimonials in which state they only use homeopathy have turned out to be untrue. BHA has long used celebrity testimonials and seem to be the source. 

Some of these testiminonials, including mere patient ones, are likely in breach of the CAP Code, consumer protection law and possibly medicines regulations. A site containing a database of practitioners would very likely be considered marketing more so given practitioners can add content. It promotes the businesses of individual homeopaths.

The Snooks
The health benefits of homeopathy are now being championed a by a new group of supporters, the Snooks. These colourful cartoon characters appear in three short animated films aimed at providing the general public with basic information about the complementary therapy. The 40-second films were created in partnership with director/animator Sam Norland, (Mani's brother) who has previously worked for such notable clients as the V&A, Virgin Media, Nissan and Hat Trick Productions. Launched in 2014 the films deliver three simple messages: About homeopathy, The benefits of homeopathy and What is it like to see a homeopath: Watch The Snooks.

Who are these videos are aimed at? Are they effective at reaching beyond supporters of homeopathy?

There is also Homeopathy Awareness Week which is separate from World Homeopathy Awareness Week but at the same time. It used to generate more media interest than it has recently. 4Homeopathy produce a lot of leaflets/posters, some of which can be downloaded.

The strange world of supporters of homeopathy for animals will be the subject of a future post but it is known that some of those involved are anti-vaxxers, push CEASE therapy and engage in very questionable tactics. Whether 4Homeopathy are aware of the nature of these people is unknown.

The US situation was described here (but things have moved on a little since that was written - there will likely be an update) but why 4Homeopathy are having anything to do with this is unclear. It's US specific, has no impact on anywhere else and those involved in the campaign are very odd to say the least. What 4Homeopathy's involvement is unclear but it is know that Norland has been to the US. 

4Homeopathy mention a petition directed at Jimmy Wales but there are a number of petitions out there. Some closed, some still open. It's not clear what which one they are referring to but as they don't give a link, it is likely closed. 4Homeopathy et al obviously do not understand the principles of Wikipedia. Whilst Wikipedia is far from perfect, it can be argued that some of the articles at least represent a consensus scientific/medical position.

The #ReleaseTheFirstReport website clearly states that is managed by 4Homeopathy. It has a Twitter account, Facebook page (which is especially bonkers), Instagram account and YouTube channel. The timing of post suggests that someone in the UK is making them. This campaign will be discussed in greater detail below. 

The only campaign directed mentioned on 4Homeopathy site is the NHS one and the items were posted by BHA employ Sasha El Masry. BHA and Friends of the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine attempts to "save" NHS homeopathy have failed. 4Homeopathy and the lay homeopathy organisations did push the BHA's petition and crowdfunding, the Society of Homeopaths even contributed £5,000 to the BHA they could ill afford.

4Homeopathy organised "A United Voice". This report is puffery but does not say the meeting was originally at Resource for London but ended up at CAN Mezzanine. The flyer gives an Society of Homeopaths (SoH) email address and the booking was via the SoH. From the report. 
We need to hold on to this energy to help build a bold and beautiful future for homeopathy in the UK.
Cristal Sumner from BHA, Em Colley and someone from CAM4Animals spoke.
Our Profession, Our brand - workshop day
UK homeopathy unites to plan for the future. 150 people, 100+ ideas, 12 projects, 11 organisations, 1 great day. On Saturday 7 March 2015 one hundred and fifty homeopaths and students gathered in London for a unique event to help shape the future of the profession. Over the course of the day over 100 ideas were collected and by close 12 key projects had been shared and agreed upon. For the first time in the history of UK homeopathy, every sector of the profession was assembled at one event, unified by a common goal – to plan for the future.
4Homeopathy talk about media training. 
The School of Homeopathy paid for a group of 8 spokespeople across registers and expertise to be trained extensively and who are now better prepared for media interviews. Use of the toolkit is an essential prerequisite for those engaging with the media and the arguments have been road tested by experts.
Homeopathy finds a voice
Homeopathy finds a voice
The School of Homeopathy and the Homeopathy Action Trust filmed 8 media trained individuals on topics of interest to the public, patients, and those undecided about homeopathy – to view these, visit: 
As a coordinator of UK homeopathy PR activity, it is not particularly effective. Whatever guidance/training it gives is either often wrong or ignored. Some groups and individuals spout nonsense is not "on brand". There are a groups and individuals outside of that circle who do the "brand" more damage than good. 

There isn't an obvious associated limited company or charity. It is not always clear who "owns" which websites/social media accounts. 

Donations to  4Homeopathy have come from -
Note no mention of donations after 2015.

There is a shop on the FindAHomeopath website (PayPal account is called "Find a Homeopath") but "For larger quantities, please e-mail for a quote". Helios do have storage and fulfilment facilities. It's possible to make donations here on 4Homeopathy website (same Paypal account).

School of Homeopathy
It was formed in 1981 by Misha Norland. His son, Mani, took over as Principal in 2009. A limited company, In-Light Limited, was formed in 2003. The directors are Mani and Amanda Jane Norland. Both are homeopaths. Mani has a background in "brand management" or something similar, Amanda in graphic design. Mani's bio on the Faculty page -
Mani is a founding member of Homeopathy Course Providers Forum and a founding member of the 4Homeopathy (the pro homeopathy group of 11 organsations in the UK). With this group Mani has been instrumental in the re-branding of homeopathy in the UK with the development of a new logo, the findahomeopath website, celebrity campaigns and media intervention. Mani also teaches students in the 4th year about setting up in practice. In his ‘other life’ Mani worked in London as a brand and business consultant for over 10 years. He advised board level directors on business creation, vision and image. Mani is passionate about the positive promotion of homeopathy to the general public and has written many consumer facing articles on homeopathy, lectured internationally and been interviewed on BBC radio several times.
It has a Twitter account Facebook page, Pinterest account(!) and YouTube channel. Its activity most promotes the School although it does boost some of 4Homeopathy messages.

The School of Health has a separate website but it is part of the same company. It is a re-branding of Alternative Training. It offers online courses in "Nutrition Therapy", Yoga, Homeopathy, Naturopathy and something called "Medical Science

It commissioned a poll and produced the laughable National Health Survey

Homeopathy Action Trust
The Homeopathy Act Trust (HAT) is very closely linked to the SoH. Indeed, it was once called "The Society of Homeopaths Trust Company Limited". It's stated mission is  -
  • increasing awareness of homeopathy as a valid and effective healthcare option
  • promoting education and research
  • providing information and support to patients, students and practitioners
  • galvanising and unifying the homeopathic community
  • fostering a culture of clarity, openness, inclusivity and altruism
  • working independently and in partnership with other organisations to fund healthcare and research projects
The current trustees/directors are -
  • Jacqueline Anne BECKER
  • Diane Christine BRINDLEY
  • Mary Therese HARCOURT-ELLIS
  • Simon Mark TAFFLER
Taffler has been mentioned on this blog re CEASE therapy and Homeopathy international. Some previous trustees/directors are familiar - UK homeopathy is a small world. 

The Quackometer blog discusses HAT's attempts to define the "brand" of homeopathy here. That article is well worth reading but this video explains a lot.

The video does not reveal -
The purpose of the weekend was to find and define the "brand" homeopathy. Using a range of different modes: drumming, singing, drawing a life model, theatre, small group discussion, we were guided though the weekend. Fascinating to experience how the material developed, totally based on what we as homeopaths actually said, and how Debbie [Taffler] and Duncan facilitated, and fairly and accurately represented the profession.
Homeopathy is not a "brand". Individual homeopaths are not running franchises of McHomeopathy. Homeopathy has doctrinal divisions. There is the medical/lay homeopath split but the splits go beyond that. Some homeopaths are difficult to say the least and hardly cooperative or team players. Building a brand from a non self-consistent fiction is hard. PR can not fix a product, organisation or movement that is defective.

4Homeopathy formed after this. HAT did provide assistance to 4Homeopathy in the past but had to lay off staff. 

HAT is notorious for funding the activities of Western homeopaths in Africa. This is beyond the scope of this post. It is well documented elsewhere.

Homeopathy: Medicine for the 21st Century
It's difficult to tell if H:MC21 is still active. The Charity Commission record suggests that it is moribund. Its past activities can be best described as eccentric but it can be argued some of them prefigure 4Homeopathy's activities.

H:MC21 created Homeopathy worked for me. It is very amateur. The antipathy towards the ASA is not yet fully formed in terms of the "ASA is just a limited company".

Homeopathy Research Institute
HRI is both a charity and limited company. It conducts no research, it mostly gives grants. In the UK "institute" is a sensitive word re company names -
Approval to use this word is normally only given to fully functioning established organisations that are already functioning as an institute, but operate under a different name. The range of activities may vary, but institutes are organisations that typically undertake research at the highest level, or are professional bodies of the highest standing.
Records don't reveal any name change. HRI isn't a professional body. 

The trustees -
  • Elizabeth Anita THOMPSON
  • Alexander Louis TOURNIER
  • Petter VIKSVEEN
  • Charles Jose WANSBROUGH
The Scientific Advisory Committee -
  • Dr Stephan Baumgartner
  • Prof Dr Iris Bell
  • Prof Dr Paolo Bellavite
  • Prof Dr Christian Endler
  • Dr Jennifer Jacobs
  • Dr Robert Mathie
  • Dr Elizabeth Thompson
  • Dr Alexander Tournier
HRI employ Rachel Roberts as CEO but there is no sign of other employees.

HRI collaborate with the Karl und Veronica Carstens-Stiftung on a database of homeopathic research. There are other databases/search engines that can return research. Criteria for inclusion in the database are unclear.

HRI funds various research projects.

Investigating the physico-chemical properties of high dilutions seems to involve solvatochromic dyes and spectroscopy.  What Steven Cartwright seems to be claiming in this paper is that a solvatochromic dye emits different spectra mixed with different 50M homeopathic solutions. 50M is a 10^150 (one with a 150 zeros after) - way beyond the molar limit. The probability of any molecule of the original substance remaining is zero for practical purposes. The paper mentions DiagnOx which is a serviced lab. Cartwright is not employed there. He rents space.

The complexity of water fuels much research in this highly active field. Current investigations suggest there may be a great deal yet to discover about its properties. Water continues to surprise us. The more we explore its characteristics, the more properties we discover. 
The Water Research Lab aims to investigate the full potential of water using a multidisciplinary approach involving theoretical physics, mathematical modelling and experimental exploration.
They use - 
  • Near infra-red spectroscopy
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
  • Dynamic Light Scattering
  • Conductivity
  • Thermogravimetry
  • Mass-spectrometry
  • EM Signal Analysis
Alex Tournier is the "lead investigator". As a trustee of HRI, there is a potential conflict of interest and breach of charity law. The Charity Commission have been known to act. There are other governance questions.

The utility of searching for (very indirect) evidence of a putative mechanism of action for homeopathy must be questioned in the absence of evidence for action. The impression is of indulgence - "boys playing with toys". 

Money associated with Robert Mathie came from the Manchester Homeopathy Clinic. It is for systematic reviews. This money was with the BHA until Mathie left. Mathie's work is not well regarded (the comments are worth reading).  

The Manchester Homeopathy Clinic is a mystery. It possibly goes back to  1860. It moved several times but ended up at 13 Brunswick Street, Manchester. In 1987 it was run by Dr. George Burns. No sign exists now. Burns is long retired.

HRI funded Phillipa Fibert's ADHD research to the tune of over £100,000. Fibert has been mentioned on this blog before. Before the STAR project, Fibert conducted a case series jointly funded by HRI and the Turners Court Youth Trust.

The Protocol for the STAR (Sheffield Treatments for ADHD) project makes for worrying reading. Clare Relton is named as a member of the Management Committee and Steering group and helped devise the project. Relton was a trustee of when grant agreed - a potential conflict of interest. The SoH published a puff piece on it. Enquiries are being made.

Trustee Petter Vikseen also received money from HRI whilst a trustee for his PhD research into homeopathic treatment of depression. Relton is involved. Potential conflict of interest yet again. £10,000 was given to HRI for the project by another student.

There is other research too but it is not interesting.

HRI had ambitious plans to gain funding from an uninterested public.  Most of HRI's funding has comes from the Pen Shell Project. It is funded by sale of artworks belonging to HRI trustee Charles Wansbrough. Wansbrough has long has an interest in more esoteric forms of CAM. This archived version of his website mentions "biolumentics".
HRI runs biennial conferences. The last was in Malta (which is ironic). This report on the conference reveals 15 homeopaths and researchers were given money to attend from the Manchester Homeopathy Clinic via HRI Previous conferences were held in Rome and Barcelona.

The HRI also were involved with (if not the primary driver of) attempts to "debunk" the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) report on homeopathy. This is a very murky business. It would appeal that the Ombudsman complaint exists but who submitted it is unclear.

There are many reasons to discard a first draft. It is strange to suggest that it was suppressed because it somehow proves homeopathy works. No report that is based on a review of existing studies could do that. 

It is not a tactic that promotes homeopathy to the public. It plays to existing supporters.

Just One Drop
From the School of Homeopathy -
On the 6th April 2017 4H hosted a red carpet VIP event and the world premier of Just One Drop a documentary about homeopathy. The event took place in London's Soho at the prestigious Curzon Soho Cinema. Celebrities, media, MPs and healthcare leaders watch the movie and engaged in a Q&A discussion about UK homeopathy after the movie. The premier was perfectly timed to create a buzz just before World Heath Day on the 7th April and Homeopathy Awareness Week on the 10th April.

After the premier 4H continued to promote the movie and it went on to have many public screenings up and down the country. In the future the movie will be available to stream online.
Alex is a physicist who contracted an illness that conventional medicine could not help. After trying homeopathy, which he called “the least impressive medicine,” he got better. It became his life passion to figure out how it worked. He founded the Homeopathy Research Institute (HRI), a charitable organization in London whose mission is to explore the science behind homeopathy. RACHEL ROBERTS was studying biology when she first heard about homeopathy and thought it was “bollocks.” After investigating further she changed her mind and later joined Alex as the CEO of HRI.
They are in the film. Roberts has turned up to Q&A sessions.

It's American and there aren't strong links to the UK but in this video Roberts speaks about the Ombudsman complaint. It links to 4Homeopathy and a Mathie systematic review. 

The Twitter account says an "epilogue" is coming. It has a photo of Alex Tournier. 

None of the campaigns and initiatives of UK homeopathy organisations have amounted to very much. But would things be worse if they had done nothing?