Further on in the conversation, the phrase "well, it's fine as long as you don't take it too seriously" rears its fence-sitting little head. If that's the case, why no just ditch it now and be done?
Also from time to time, something happens that demonstrates clearly, tragically and painfully that you ignore conventional medicine at your peril and there are occasions where no placebo, no therapy, no energy, no matter how theatric will affect your situation. These have been collated at What's The Harm? and the story that follows will no doubt be added to that list in the near future. The Lay Scientist has written up the story here.
The inquest of Russell Jenkins took place this week, following his death in April 2007. The Coroner recorded a Narrative Verdict, meaning the cause of death is not attributable to anyone.
Mr Jenkins was a spiritual chanting artist who set up the Quiet Mind Centre at his home in Southsea in 1992, offering Reiki Massage, reflexology and the like.
After standing on an electrical plug, Mr Jenkins ended up getting an infection in his foot, which given his condition as a diabetic, was quite serious. Unfortunately, his 'inner being' told him not to go to hospital and his partner, Cherie Cameron who lived with him and joined the Quiet Mind Centre in 2002 also did not seek medical help. Ms Cameron still works at the Quiet Mind Centre, and despite previously being a theatre nurse did not see the danger in what was happening.
Mr Jenkins called on the advice of a homeopath, Susan Finn. (There is no mention of a Susan Finn in the records of either the Society of Homeopaths or the Alliance of Registered Homeopaths). By this time the foot had become gangrenous and it appears Ms Finn did not offer a homeopathic solution, instead suggesting he cover it in manuka honey.
This for me is the gut-wrenching part of the story. Susan Finn, regardless of her training or background, had a terrible situation on her hands. Here was a patient who was quite clear that he did not want to go to a Doctor or hospital and wanted alternative treatment, yet I'm sure she must have pleaded with him to get medical attention, despite her alternative beliefs.
His condition deteriorated and on April 13 he was forced to take to his bed. When Ms Finn visited the following day, she saw blood on the bed sheets and described a foul smell in Mr Jenkins's bedroom. His foot was swollen and one of his toes was discoloured. Two days later Mr Jenkins's condition had rapidly worsened and his toes had turned black.- The News, Portsmouth.co.uk
Even at this stage, Mr Jenkins refused to seek medical help with the tragic consequences that about a day later, he died from a 'mixed bacterial infection'. Mark Pemberton, consultant vascular surgeon reckoned that even 2 hours before he died, he had a 30% chance of survival.
This is quite a disturbing story and in fairness, I'm not sure how I feel about it. Where does the point of allowing someone the choice to make their own decisions stop and the point of overriding their belief system for their overall good start? I guess parallels can be drawn with religious beliefs where a medical practice viewed as 'illegal' within the community will result in an unnecessary death - blood transfusions for Jehovah Witnesses are one such example.
One thing is clear, anything that can be done to solve the problem and counteract the pseudoscientific claims of well-meaning but misguided believers long before it gets to this stage has to be a Good Thing.