A Tragic Case of Natural Medicine Gone Wrong

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A little boy died in Lethbridge, Alberta and his parents have been convicted of failing to provide the necessities of life. He had bacterial meningitis and his parents tried to treat it “naturally.” He needed a lumbar puncture and IV antibiotics. It was a very grave situation and he was just a small child.

The parents phoned a naturopathic clinic. The naturopath advised them to go to the hospital. They showed up at the clinic anyway and purchased Echinacea, without booking an appointment to see the naturopath.

They delayed going to the hospital, and the boy passed away. Echinacea is not the appropriate treatment in a medical emergency. Naturopathic doctors know this. The parents underestimated how sick their child truly was.

This case is being used by major news media to frame naturopathic doctors as dangerous. The naturopathic doctor didn’t see or treat or advise the child, other than to direct the parents to the hospital.

Many of us are raised in cultures that use natural products for medicinal purposes. Honey and lemon for a sore throat. Aloe vera on a burn. Peppermint tea for indigestion. The problem arises when the lay person is unable to identify an emergency. Or when people become fanatical about natural medicine. Treating it like a religion, not a system of medicine.

The scary part is, I think if we surveyed 100 parents, many of them would not know the signs and symptoms of bacterial meningitis. This is really why the child passed away. It was an emergency and his parents didn’t act appropriately.

Bacterial meningitis in a child is characterized by symptoms like: A very high fever, stiff neck, severe headache, lack of thirst and hunger, confusion, sensitivity to light and excessive sleepiness, inability to wake up.

Natural remedies are not the way to go, when a child is exhibiting such severe signs of illness and distress. This was a preventable death.


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