Homoeopathy, Acupuncture, Herbalism, Chelation Therapy, Ear Candling, and all of the other alternative medical treatments have two things in common. One: they don’t work and two: they increase distrust in modern medicine. This distrust can lead to some bizarre consequences as shown in this story from Wales.
Reginald and Leila Gill of Cwmduad, Carmarthenshire attended a “health fayre” where they recruited patients with claims of their ‘ozone treatment’ at their home-based homoeopathic clinic.
At Swansea Crown Court, Gill, 77, was jailed for eight years for crimes the judge described as “despicable”.
His wife, 35, was jailed for six months.
Judge Keith Thomas told Gill: “Women came to your house for medical treatment after they lost faith in the NHS.
“They came with an open mind and you took advantage of this.
“You told them they had cancer and they said they were prepared to go through any humiliation and shame to cure themselves.”
After submitting them to “degrading treatment,” the judge said Gill “also convinced your wife to go along with your depraved scheme”.
He added: “You convinced the women to strip naked in front of you and, under the pretence that you were administering beneficial treatment, you subjected them to sexual assault.”
Gill claimed he had been an army doctor, while in reality he had been a cook and had no medical training at all.
Mr Gill told one woman that she had cancer but boasted that he could cure it within two days.
Gill, assisted by his wife, examined the women without gloves and used an electric shock machine on them.
But genuine doctors later found that neither of the women – who cannot be named for legal reasons – actually had cancer.
This case demonstrates that alt-med practitioners are not beyond the reach of the law. So far, practitioners have not been held accountable for their mistreatment of patients, and lobbyists have been very successful in preventing governmental scrutiny of their products and treatments. The type of magical thinking that lies behind most of these treatments implies that illness is essentially the fault of the patient as is the lack of a cure. Thus, lawsuits are rare, as patients tend to blame themselves when treatments fail. In fact, it is often the alt-med practitioners who use lawsuits to silence their critics.
It is easy to blame these women for being gullible, and the Gills for being predators, but also at fault are the proponents of magical thinking in all its forms.