Succussed, Not Stirred – Homeopathy and Annabel Croft

This week the Telegraph’s informed us how former tennis star and TV-pundit Annabel Croft has come to rely on magic and water, after her ovarian cysts were ‘cured’ using Homeopathic means.   After developing the naturally-occurring cysts in 2003, the Kent-born player was informed by her GP that she potentially faced an operation to remove the benign growths.  However, as the article informs us, upon the advice of a friend (not the advice of her doctor, you might want to note), she visited local homeopath Hilery Dorrian.  Annabel explains:

“When I saw Hilery, I was astonished to see my ideas of health turned on their head. She explained to me that homeopathy treats the real causes of illness in the body, not just the symptoms – as conventional medicine does… Hilery didn’t perform a physical examination. Instead, she asked me about my background, my personality, my emotions, what made me stressed – even my parents’ health. She constructed a picture of me and gave me a remedy made up exactly to treat my left ovary.”

It’s hard to say, really, at what point the alarm bells should have been ringing.  Perhaps when the diagnosis involved no physical examination at all – that would have struck me as odd.  Or perhaps when she was diagnostically asked about her personality and her emotions, when her real physical pain was already known to be caused by erroneous fluid-filled sacs on her ovaries – that would seem a bit weird.  Or perhaps when Hilery trotted out a meaningless fallacy that conventional medicine only treats the symptoms of an illness, not the cause – that would strike me immediately as completely, utterly and patently absurd (anti-biotics, for example, kill bacteria and infections – they don’t go near your symptoms, you’ll still cough and wheeze right up until the causal infection in your chest begins clear).

Or perhaps the alarm bells would ring when the proposed treatment had to turn all of your ideas and understandings about health, physics and mathematics on their head to work – that would be a tiny bit of a red flag to me.  Personally, the alarm bell would ring loudest when a friend, someone who in some way cared about my health, suggested I see a glorified witch doctor to deal with a problem actual real medicine has got covered – that would be a biggie for me.  But then again I wasn’t ranked 24th on the women’s pro circuit in December 1985 (I was mysteriously and criminally overlooked that year).

Of course, the big point – as mentioned in the merest in passing by the Telegraph – is that most cysts go away of their own accord.  They disappear.  Poof.  Not even the drinking of an infinitesimal amount of cyst-causing agent could prevent that.  Which, if you believe the homeopath, if Hilery Dorrian was doing the job she claimed, would be exactly what Annabel had told to do – the very central principle of homeopathy, rule 1 in the manual states that like cures like.  Cure sleeplessness with caffeine.  Cure watery eyes with onions.  Cure small sacs of fluid forming on the ovaries with whatever bark, chemical or plant extract that caused them.  Which is none.  There is no tangible environmental or dietary cause for ovarian cysts, so no like to cure the like with. So what the hell was Annabel Croft, who (lest we forget) was Anneka Rice’s replacement on Treasure Hunt, taking?  Who knows.  But two things we do know: 1) It categorically was not responsible for the disappearance of her ovarian cysts.  2) If it was truly homeopathic, it was literally and mathematically no different to water.

Annabel left Dorrain’s homeopathy centre with an open mind, but not expecting a miracle. However, after taking the prescribed pillules, her cyst gradually became less painful; the throbbing stopped; and she never went back to her GP. She is convinced that the homeopathic remedies she took enhanced and perhaps speeded up the healing process.

Read that bit again (no, not the use of the word ‘speeded’ in place of ‘sped’, that’s just standard poor journalism).  She ‘[wasn’t] expecting a miracle… However… her cyst gradually became less painful’.  So she didn’t get a miracle.  No ‘however’ about it – there was no miracle.  Zero, on the miracle front.  In fact the article should read, ‘She wasn’t expecting a miracle… Which is lucky, really, because her cyst gradually became less painful exactly as it would if it was healing of its own accord‘.  It’s also interesting to note Annabel was convinced that the quack remedies helped – this is a classic example of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy: she has no way of knowing what did or didn’t cause her cysts to go away, but because she put her faith in this absurdity, Annabel can only assume the personality-based magic water did the trick.  If she had seen an acupuncturist, that would have been what cured her.  If she had gone to a chiropractor, they would have been what cured her (although of course they probably would have sued her too… go Simon Singh!).  And it’s not just former tennis stars – we’re all susceptible to this kind of thinking.

Annabel has been back to see Hilery – at a cost of about £30 a time – every six weeks in the past five years to get what she describes as an MOT

Sure. An MOT you need to get every six weeks, at £30 a hit.  For five years.  So that’s £1300 worth of magic water.  She should have bought it all at once and had a magic jacuzzi (though, come to think of it, all those bubbles would only over-succuss the water – it could become lethally strong…)

“And at home we all rely on homeopathic medicine. When I or one of the children have a cold, we take pulsatilla [a native British flower]”

Yikes.  Here’s the scary part – she uses this magical medicine, this mystery panacea to treat her children.  Fortunately it’s just for minor issues that are all self-limiting and not serious, but still whenever quackery and children are mixed, my skin crawls.

“And I always have handy some arnica for bruises, calendula for cuts and grazes, belladonna [not poisonous at this level of dilution] for a throbbing head”

Here, Annabel really does have something right – belladonna (otherwise known as Deadly Nightshade) is not poisonous at that level of dilution.  In fact, it’s no longer even Deadly Nightshade at that level of dilution.

So, Annabel has drank the Kool-Aid (albeit the tapped against table and wildly diluted Kool-Aid).  What of the potential for homeopathy to help a Brit finally win Wimbledon? (I don’t even need to comment too much, I’m sure, on the timing of the article – appearing right in Wimbledon week is a shockingly transparent piece of cynical PR on behalf of the homeopath in question)

“I’ve used gelsemium in the past to calm my nerves before presenting Wimbledon, but it’s possible it may also work for Andy. However, homeopathic remedies are designed to help with specific symptoms and Andy’s may be different to mine.”

But wait, didn’t homeopathy ‘treat the real causes of illness in the body, not just the symptoms’?  Yet another example of the fuzzy logic and lack of critical thinking that woo, quack and bogus pseudomedical practices thrive on.

Still, if it is just water, it can’t harm, can it?  I mean, someone in the media might lost thousands of pounds on meaningless treatments, but that’s not so bad, on the grand scheme of things, right?  I mean it’s not like there are people selling homeopathic (and therefore ineffective) antimalaria tablets, right?  And it’s not like people are stopping their treatment for AIDS or cancer to take homeopathic solutions, right?  It’s not like, for example, there are cases of children, babes in arms, dying of something as stupid and tragic and curable as eczema, because of homeopathic alternatives, right?  (I urge you not to click that last link unless you can cope with the horrible, sad, despicable and upsetting realities of the case in question).  As an aside, at this point I’d like to mention that Annabel’s homeopath of choice, Hilery Dorrian, sells her own range of homeopathic potions – including her very own eczema cure.  She even wrote a two-part article for ‘Homeopathy in Practice’ magazine, entitled ‘The management of eczema’ (in the editions for Autumn and Winter 2006).  At present, I don’t know where the death of Gloria Sun fits into Hilery’s eczema-management strategy.

Homeopathy kills by omission. It’s a murderer by distraction. Anyone who profits from this patently-absurd and wildly-dangerous practice, or any bogus pseudomedicine for that matter, is profiteering directly from the illness, desperation and death of their fellow man.  It’s that simple.

Still, I’m actually all for homeopathy.  100%.  200% in fact.  I believe so strongly in the pure principles of homeopathy that I strongly recommend taking homeopathic quantities of homeopathic remedies – for best effect, I would advise taking a very small amount of homeopathic remedy once, and then to dilute that amongst a large amount of placebo-controlled, double-blind-study-proven, western, modern, scientific and effective medicine.  For optimum health, take an infinitesimal amount of homeopathy one time once in your life, and dilute it with an entire lifetime of actual actual medicine.  Surely Samuel Hahnemann himself would support that…

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  1. #1 by Andy on June 25, 2009 - 12:18

    Very good article. Nice one.

    On the point of no physical examination that you raise. It must be the case that the victim comes in with a diagnosis in hand? The description given doesn’t lend itself to a diagnosis having been performed.

    Therefore we can say, based upon Croft’s quotations, that this practitioner/perpetrator, relied upon someone else’s diagnosis, as described by the patient. Doctor could’ve been wrong, Patient could’ve been poorly informed or a bad communicator and so on. So quite apart from the lovely fresh water that was prescribed (actually probably not that fresh) this practitioner relied on hearsay evidence to prescribe.

    The more I think about it the more my naturally harmonious vibrations ring dischordant with the interference of this aura/energy imbalance

  2. #2 by Polly on March 11, 2011 - 09:18

    What a ridiculous and somewhat FALSE post.

    First fact – ovarian cysts do NOT always go away on their own. It depends on the type. Functional cysts can, abnormal cysts can’t. You won’t know what that means because you appear to have little knowledge on the subject so you may want to look it up. As a former sufferer of the latter, I have been treated with Homeopathy and to mine and my surgeons suprise seen a dramatic decrease in size of the cyst which in medical termns shouldn’t happen.

    Homeopathy is a COMPLIMENTARY treatment, the clues in the name. Like many other COMPLIMENTARY treatments they are intended to COMPLIMENT other forms of treatment whether medical in nature or not.

    Having seen Hilery myself, not ONCE has she ever suggested that the advices of medical doctors should be ignored. On the contrary, she uses her treatments to, guess what, COMPLIMENT medical treatment.

    It is a fact that teh NHS is overstretched, that Doctors waiting rooms are full of patients many of whom could be ‘self helping’ with PROVEN remedies. Blogs like this and people like you see it so black and white – either or ignoring the fact that remarkably, nature has many, many remedies yet they are labelled as ‘quakery’ by people like you who seem to be so motivated to discredit them.

    Penicillin – mold
    Arnica (a homeopathic remedy) – prescribed by DOCTORS, yes real life, sane, medical DOCTORS for useage with bruising
    St Johns Wort – As effective, if not more that antidepressants and with FAR less side effects.

    Were you never told as a child to find a dock leaf for a nettle sting? It works!

    The point is homeopathic remedies, herbal remedies, accupuncture whatever DOES work. Its just a shame that people like you are closed to a world of additional support and have left themselves in the hands of the ‘extremely trustworthy and ever so caring’ drug companies – good luck!

    P.S. the venomous post above does hint at ‘liver stagnation’ you might want to get your Liver Qi looked at ……….

  3. #3 by Anon on May 6, 2014 - 07:48

    What a load of crap. Probably written by someone who’s achieved nothing in their life.

    A sheep, an insignificant speck on planet earth. If all doctors in this country were homeopathically trained (like they are in france and many other countries around the world) you’d probably just accept it due to your colossal ignorance.

    And just to let you know, I was positively surprised when my last visit to my UK gp ended with him giving me ARNICA in homeopathic form. That’s right it passed a full blown double blind clinical trial.

    Now you have to believe it. What will you complain about now Cunt. What else can you try to pass off as intelligent bigotry? Well, guess what, the world thinks you’re just stupid and we’ll be better of without people like you holding back the human race.

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