Thursday, 14 January 2010

A local life & the promotion of homeopathy

I live in Bradford-On-Avon - a small town in Wiltshire, England. To my dismay the town is very heavy with the promotion of alternative medicine, spirit healing and other such woo practices. It's enough to make a skeptic heave.

Simply because of the amount of alternative stores in the tiny town I am always vigilent for the promotion of services that could mislead people - especially the vulnerable.

For example, a while ago I was involved in the exposure of a local 'spiritual healer' who claimed to be able to cure cancer - a claim that was removed from their site shortly after it was pointed out how the claim was - er, slightly illegal. I was accused of being a liar and threatened with the police. However, the screencaps are available for everyone to see.

Anyway, the first case of nonsense that I have come across in 2010 dropped through my letter box in early January. It was a free magazine called 'A local life.'

On the cover of the magazine were the words 'A healthy start to 2010' and this got my skeptical senses tingling.

When you've lived amoungst the woo of Bradford-On-Avon for as long as I have you spot potential woo from a mile off. So, I gingerly read through the magazine wondering what I might find and I was pretty much shocked into silence when I discovered the following article.

Homeopathic medicine - enhance and protect your HEALTH and IMMUNITY.

Winter is upon us and the temperatures are beginning to fall. Seasonal flu is already widespread in the area. It is an epidemic disease that occurs in distinct waves of about 13 - 15 weeks. Usually it coincides with lower temperatures and then the outbreak effects susceptible persons. Normally, although uncomfortable, the illness is not serious however for a few individuals it can be serious. Conventional medicine has no answer to these outbreaks. Even the well known vaccines have now been shown to be of no real use.

Homeopathy has always provided the best solution to the prevention and treatment of this debilitating illness. We can show that by raising your level of health you can become less prone to the illness or if contracted you can recover much more quickly with less after effects. One of the complications of the 'flu is respitory symptoms such as bronchitus or pneumonia. Again homeopathy can help preven[sic] this or treat quickly if it arises. Often an acute illness will resolve more quickly with the right homeopathic prescription than with antibiotics, and with no side effects!

Some examples

In cold wet spells BRYONIA is a good choice with a hard dry cough, flushed face, tremendous thirst, pains, irritability but wants to remain still and coated tongue.

In milder spells GELSEMIUM can be used with exhaustion, heavy eyes, thirstless and aches.

Also EUPATORIUM with extreme bone and muscle aches, restless, coated tongue, fever but no sweat, and great thirst.

If 'flu appears after exposure to chill then think of ACONITE with hot burning face, restlessness, fear, and fever.

ARSENICUM will often abort an attack of 'flu with restlessness, chill, thirst for sips (especially warm drinks) prostration, anxiety/aggrevation after midnight and desire for reassurance.


Have you thought about using homeopathic medicine to help you to protect and combat the seasonal flu. My experience shows that homeopathy is the most effective treatment for this debilitating illness. Not only does it help the person overcome the illness more quickly, it can help to avoid any unwelcome left-overs from the illness. This is common after 'flu. The person feels tired and listless, without the usual amount of energy. I have many examples of this scenario helped quickly with the right prescription.

This article then ends with a bright orange, eye catching advertisment for Homeopathy-UK

So, I decided that this couldn't just be left as it was and I emailed the magazine via their website (here) to raise my concerns that they were uncritcally promoting very dangerous ideas relating to the flu vaccine and the claims of a local homeopath.

I recieved no response for the next couple of days. I don't like being ignored, especially when it comes to something as crucial as this and so I did the next thing I could think of.

I logged onto the Advertising standards authority website and logged a complaint about Homeopathy-UK for the article and advert that was published in the 'A local life' magazine.

I recieved a letter from the ASA a couple of weeks later asking me to send on a copy of the original article and advert to them so that they could pursue their complaint and so I did.

click here for the full size picture :)

I genuinely hope that it will amount to something as the uncritical promotion of homeopathy as a cure for seasonal flu in 'A local life' was pretty horrendous.

After I had sent the copy of the article to the lady from the ASA I sat at home discussing what I had done with my mum when an idea popped into my head.

Wouldn't it be amazing if 'A local life' were to allow an article to be published in their magazine that counters the claims made by homeopathy-UK and promotes a common sense approach to conventional medicine and the flu vaccine?

This prompted me to get in touch with the editor on 'A local life' via the email adress on their website and this is what I had to say:


Following the uncritical promotion of homeopathy as a cure for seasonal flu in Issue 2 I was wondering if you would be willing to allow me to publish an article in the local life magazine that counters such ideas?

I live in Bradford-On-Avon and I am a co-host of the Righteous Indignation podcast that takes a critical look at claims made that appear to go against scientific fact. The claims made by homeopathy-uk in Issue 2 went against scientific fact and I was hoping that in the interest of free speech you would allow me to write an article explanining the benefits of the flu vaccine and why homeopathy alone is not a good cure.

I am worried from your article about homeopathy as a flu cure people who fall into the vunerable patient group such as the elderly or people with heart or lung conditions may be convinced that the flu vaccine does not work and will stop taking it.

I have had articles published in the past in national magazines and I have also written contributions to several books, I wouldn't ask for any fee or any sort of gain from this - I am simply interested in getting a counter argument for conventional medicine to the people who read your magazine.

If you would be willing to let this go ahead please let me know as soon as possible with details of how many words the article should be etc.

I look forwards to your reply,

Kindest regards,

Hayley Stevens

Let's wait and see what the outcome of this is, shall we? I'll update my blog as I recieve replies etc.

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