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Ezekiel Stephan: Why naturopaths shouldn’t treat children—or anyone else

If there’s one thing that really animates me and angers me, it’s the unnecessary death of a child due to quackery. Competent adults, of course, are perfectly free to choose any form of quackery they wish for themselves or even to refuse treatment at all (which is less harmful than quackery). Children, on the other hand, must trust that their parents or guardians will act in their best interests. When they betray that trust and their duty to act in the best interests of the child, I wonder how this can happen. When there the government sides with the parents, I become even more agitated.

So it was a month ago when I heard about a 19 month old boy named Ezekiel Stephan, who died of bacterial meningitis because his parents relied on quackery to treat him instead of real medicine, and the baby died of his meningitis and an empyema, which is a collection of pus in the pleural cavity surrounding the lungs. Ezekiel’s parents apparently didn’t even take him to a real doctor, and he died. Not surprisingly, his parents didn’t vaccinate him, and it appears likely that he died of Hib meningitis, a vaccine preventable disease, which has led antivaccinationists to claim that the parents, David and Collet Stephan, were being “persecuted” in a conspiracy that would allow Canada to impose forced vaccination on all children, you know, typical stuff.

In any case, the trial is currently on recess and due to resume on April 11, the Stephans having been charged with failing to provide the necessities of life for their son. During the trial, there’s been a lot of commentary about the parents and their negligence. Make no mistake about it, no matter how much the parents clearly loved their son, their beliefs led them to medically neglect him, and he died. Instead of taking him to a hospital, they treated him with homemade smoothies, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and an echinacea tincture. It was probably the same belief system that led them to work for Truehope Nutritional Support, a supplement company.

What I haven’t seen much of is a discussion of the role of naturopaths in contributing to the death of Ezekiel Stephan. For it turned out that the parents sought advice from a local naturopath named Tracy Tannis who practices at the Lethbridge Naturopathic Medical Clinic, who, it was learned, had recommended a “tincture of echinea.” Later in the trial, not surprisingly Tannis denied responsibility:

She said on March 13, 2012 her secretary took a phone call from a woman concerned about her young son. She testified the woman told her that she had a friend who was a nurse with her and she was concerned about viral meningitis. Tannis told her secretary: ‘You need to tell her to take the child to the ER right away.’”

Tannis testified that the next day a woman came into her clinic and asked for an over-the-counter echinacea treatment for her son who was almost two. Tannis told the court she didn’t know if the woman was the same one who called the day before.

And:

The naturopath has testified she was busy with a patient when Collet called ahead of her visit to the clinic, but that she told a staff member to tell the mother to take the boy immediately to hospital. She said she remained by the phone long enough to confirm the message was relayed, and that she was never asked if echinacea would be a good treatment for meningitis.

Under cross-examination, the jury heard the naturopath never told police she had stayed by the phone while the advice was passed on. A worker in her clinic also told investigators she introduced the naturopath to Collet when she arrived at the clinic, and described her as the mother of “the little one with meningitis.”

So it’s not entirely clear whether Tannis ever told the parents that they should take their child to the ER. It is clear, however, that she did prescribe some sort of herbal remedy with echinacea to a child with meningitis. When I first read about this, I wondered how on earth anyone could do that. Britt Hermes, an ex-naturopath who couldn’t engage in quackery any more explains:

I can guess why this naturopath did not perform a physical exam before she made a diagnosis and dispensed a substance. Naturopaths are trained to work through imaginary cases rather than practice on real patients. I know why the naturopath recommended an herbal preparation even for something as serious as meningitis. Naturopaths, more frequently than not, attempt to treat viral infections and other aggressive diseases with herbs. I often used echinacea for ear infections and colds on my former patients of any age. My former boss was using all sorts of “natural” substances on patients with terminal cancer.

However, she is a naturopath, and that means that, regardless of whether she did the responsible thing or not with respect to Ezekiel Stephan, her entire discipline is quackery, with a bit of sensible advice about nutrition and exercise mixed in to make the quackery seem less quacky. Tannis’ website is now down, an Archive.org archive shows that she offers chelation, IV nutrients, IV vitamin C, acupuncture, herbal medicine, ozone therapy, and allergy testing.

Whenever a tragic case like this comes along, it’s useful to consider what naturopaths claim compared to what they actually do. I’m referring specifically to the oft-repeated claim by naturopaths that they can function as primary care providers, not just for adults but for children. In Alberta, Canada, for instance, the provinicial government has granted the College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta (CNDA) the power to self-govern their profession. Indeed, as Alheli Picazo notes, there is a profound irony here in that, in prosecuting the Stephans, the Alberta government is prosecuting parents who pursued cures from quacks that it licenses and thereby legitimizes. Indeed, Tannis herself graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in 2003 and is licensed in “good standing” in Alberta. It’s thus very scary to consider that, despite the extreme inadequacy of naturopathic training that leads them to treat diseases with ineffective herbs and other interventions, naturopathy as a quack field has the extreme hubris to think that its members can actually deal with the common diseases that primary care doctors see and treat.

All of this brings up the difference between adults and children again. Again, adults can choose whatever quackery they want, including naturopaths, although I would point ou that the state should not facilitate such a choice or otherwise legitimize it by licensing such a pseudoscientific profession. That very same legitimization helps lead parents to think that naturopaths can treat children, too. Granted, in this case it clearly wasn’t the fact that Tannis is a licensed naturopath that led the Stephans to think it was acceptable to seek help for their son from her. They are clearly so far down the rabbit hole of quackery in their belief system that it almost certainly doesn’t matter either way to them whether naturopaths are licensed. However, to other parents, who might be a bit woo-susceptible but aren’t hard core believers, state licensure implies a legitimate profession, which might lower their skepticism.

That’s why there are now calls in Alberta for limiting naturopaths’ ability to treat children:

University of Alberta health-policy researcher Tim Caulfield says the tragic death is exposing the sharp and dangerous limits of naturopathic medicine.

Caulfield, who has long argued that naturopathy operates in the realm of “pseudoscience,” said he’s “sympathetic to the idea of restricting the kinds of services they can provide kids.”

“We do a lot of things to protect children and, at a minimum, I get very worried when kids are being taken there,” he said.

Alberta licenses naturopaths, as does Ontario and several other provinces, regulation Guichon said gives the field a “cloak of respectability and professionalism” it may or may not deserve.

There’s no “may or may not” about licensure conferring legitimacy to naturopathy. It’s why naturopaths fight so hard for licensure, because with it comes legitimacy. After the Affordable Care Act, if a state licenses a health care profession, then health insurance companies have to pay for their services, which is yet another reason naturopaths crave state licensure, at least here in the US.

Personally, if it were up to me, I wouldn’t allow naturopaths to treat anything. I’d even be loathe to let them give nutrition advice, so steeped in pseudoscience and prescientific mystical ideas is their world view. That being said, stopping them from being able to treat children in order to make it more difficult and less likely for a woo-believing parent to take their children to a quack naturopath quack.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

131 replies on “Ezekiel Stephan: Why naturopaths shouldn’t treat children—or anyone else”

Naturopaths are trained to work through imaginary cases rather than practice on real patients.

In theory, theory and practice are identical. In practice, they are not.

Ms. Hermes implies that in jurisdictions that license naturopaths, an ND can get a license without first getting clinical experience. Perhaps some of these jurisdictions have requirements for clinical experience or continuing education, as is normally the case for MDs. But if Alberta is letting naturopaths regulate themselves, they probably don’t have such requirements. Most laymen would assume (as I did) that it’s a normal part of the training.

The strange thing is that this is a given in other fields that involve public safety. A car must pass inspection via a certified facility. Food must pass inspection before public distribution. Police and military must pass authorization/authentication checks. Etc.

Yet, when it comes to contagious disease, there’s nothing stopping a person from being an accepted authority on how to contain it. I can’t give car certification, pretend to be the police, or even serve unvetted food to the public without being convicted of violating some law. But I can pretend to be a medical doctor and advise someone with meningitis or measles or whatever with little to no consequences, as long as I call myself a “naturopath”.

This should be a punishable offense. Maybe not jail but at least a fine for fraud or something.

What’s also interesting too is the discrepancy in the testimonies of the naturopath’s front desk employee and the naturopath herself.

Under oath presumably, one said, respectively:

‘I introduced her directly to the mother of the little one with meningitis’ while the other said ‘I never saw the toddler or talked directly with the mother’.

-r.c.

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/karen-selick/ezekhil-stephan_b_9585100.html

Still whoring out their son’s death, though the running tally of $$ is not viewable (they’d raised $33K on their gofundme page before it was shut down) https://stand4truth.ca/donate/

The testimonies of Vataman and Tannis don’t line up. Something in the milk ain’t clean.

5 years, that’s the max available. I hope they both get it, and I hope their remaining children are able to stay together and go to a family who will honour them and frequently put their needs first.

Eric, nds are supposed to have clinical training, I beleive its 1200 hours. But Ms. Hermes has explained that the clinics often didn’t have enough patients who had certain illnesses so the Nds would practice exams on themselves, or make a presentation to count as “clinical” hours. And then they don’t have residencies, so again far few hours in the clinic than a primary care.

Delphine @2 — The woman who wrote that HuffPo article is a legal counsel for an outfit called the Canadian Constitution Foundatation. From what I can tell from a few minutes of searching in between actual work, this appears to be devoted to advancing libertarian and right-wing agendas, making this another “health freedom” pitch. If I recall you’re from the Great White North yourself — do you know this group, and is that a fair characterization?

The old grind awaits.

[email protected] — If you recall the 1200 hour figure correctly, that’s 30 weeks at 40 hours a week.

Which compared to what a Real Doctor gets, is pitiful.

RE: Tim Caulfield
He is a strong science advocate in Canada having written several books. The latest is: “Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash” and prior to that: “The Cure For Everything: Untangling The Twisted Messages About Health Fitness And Happiness”.

From a Global News interview: “Caulfield says he thinks Paltrow is a great actress, and he loves some of the projects she’s been in.

But he focused on her, and her Goop lifestyle brand, because she’s the “perfect emblem of the place of celebrities, particularly in the context of health and beauty and lifestyle, because not only does she provide all these recommendations, but it’s part of her brand.”

“I think given that she is sort of explicitly saying that she is an expert or holding herself out as an expert, it’s fair to hold her to some kind of standard, and I think the standard should be science,”

“The other thing with Gwyneth is, she just says such crazy things, like the ‘V-steam,’” he added. “That’s just gold, I can’t make that stuff up.””

@ Ross Miles:

Did you ever read Goop?

Oh J-sus! It’s just hilarious, She also hawks products like Moon Dust ( or suchlike) to put in your gottverdamte morning smoothies!
However I never heard of the ‘V-stream’ and don’t think that I want to ever.. I can imagine.

And I don’t like the clothes: after all, just how many over priced designer yoga pants does one need?

Now I vaguely recall what the V-stream is ( not a private jet).
Yiiiii.

I don’t know what press about the Stephan case Orac has been reading, but I’ve looked at everything I can find and I see quite the opposite of what he describes. That is, the majority of the stories implicate naturopathy either explicitly or implicitly. The coverage seems to frame the facts around an existing ‘naturopathy is dangerous quackery’ peg, to the point where accompanying commentary sometimes suggests the Stephans were innocent victims of Tracy Tannis’s medical con-game.

Of course, in general naturopathy IS dangerous quackery, but in this case the culpability falls entirely on the parents and the defense is trying to transfer responsibility to anyone else in an attempt to get a not-guilty verdict, and the naturopath just happens to be among those available – along with the EMS crew who took Ezekiel to the hospital, and the hospital itself.

Two key points of press misrepresentation:
1. There’s no evidence or testimony that Tannis prescribed anything for Ezekiel Stephan.
2. The Stephans did not at any time ‘take Ezekiel to a naturopath’ in the sense one would normally understand that phrase.

Per testimony in the case so far:

A. The Phone Call
There is indeed confllct between the testimony by Tannis, her employee Lexie Vataman who dispenses naturopathic remedies, and the Stephans’ statements to the RCMP. The only points not in dispute so far are:
1. Collet Stephan called Vataman, requested something to boost Ezekiel’s immune system, and mentioned that the nurse/midwife who had briefly looked in on the toddler has raised the possibility of viral meningitis.
2. Vataman concluded an echinacea tincture called ‘Blast’ was the appropriate remedy, but decided to check with Tannis to be sure.
3. Vataman told Collet Ezekiel should be taken to a hospital.
4. Tannis did not speak to Collet at this time, nor did she know who Collet was, as the two had never met.

I’ll not go into the details of the contested points around the phone call and the ‘prescription’ of the Blast in this comment for the sake of straying too far from the point at hand…

B. Ezekiel Is (Allegedly) Driven To Lethbridge Naturopathic
The Stephans claim that after Ezekiel took a turn for the worse on the day they eventually called 911, they placed him on the seat of their car as he was too stiff to sit in his car seat, and drove him the 85km to Lethbridge Naturopathic. Yet, all that occurred there was that Collet picked up Blast from Vataman, which the Stephans allegedly administered to Ezekiel on the way home. They did not take Ezekiel into the clinic, and there is no evidence or testimony so far that they even told anyone at the clinic that he was outside in the car, much lest request that he be examined.

Yes, we’re dealing with some major WTF here…

Again, I’ll spare the details, and simply state the overall impression: Collet Stephan appears to have been so confident in her own ability to diagnose and treat Ezekiel’s illness that she felt no need to follow the advice of any ‘health professional’ – all of whom she mistrusted – including a naturopath.

If it were up to me, I would erase the ‘discipline’ of naturopathy altogether. I certainly would de-license nartuopathy for any sort of medical care, and shutter the naturopathy schools. I might allow practitioners trained in naturopathy to serve as diet/lifestyle counselors under strict conventional medicine guidelines and supervision, but that’s as far as I’d go.

However, the relevance of the ‘crimes’ of naturopathy to the Ezekiel Stephan case is so minimal, the discussion of naturopathy here only acts to deflect attention away from what is at best gross negligence on the part of Ezekiel’s family, and at worst something far more sinister. I’ll leave that ‘worst’ unspecified for now, but if you look through the Truehope website, you might fins some cause for concern, and at least come up with some questions that ought to be explored (but probably won’t be… trails being what they are)…

“It was probably the same belief system that led them to work for Truehope Nutritional Support, a supplement company.”

They don’t just work for the company, it’s the family business. David Stephan is one of the 10 children pictured in this family photo on their website. There is a very long and sordid history between this company and the Gov’t of Canada, which is why they are positioning themselves as victims … it’s what he has grown up believing. http://www.truehope.com/the-truehope-story.html

They have also licensed their flagship product to Q Sciences, which sadly has MDs on their advisory board. http://qsciences.com/q-products/#empowerplus

Here’s one anecdote you won’t see advertised on their website though. This man went off of his medication in favor of Truehope vitamins and murdered his father. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/mentally-ill-killer-tried-vitamin-therapy-court-told-1.1141861

As a pharmacist in their local geographic area, I have been inundated with people asking about this product, and have also been asked to sell it. Thankfully, the demand seems to have dropped off significantly in recent years.

“It was probably the same belief system that led them to work for Truehope Nutritional Support, a supplement company.”

They don’t just work for the company, it’s the family business. David Stephan is one of the 10 children pictured in the family photo on their website. http://www.truehope.com/the-truehope-story.html

There is a long and sordid history between this company and the Gov’t of Canada, which is why they are positioning themselves as victims … he grew up believing the gov’t was suppressing their miracle cure!

As a pharmacist in their local geographic area, I had been asked to sell their crap and have seen many people attempt to switch to it. Thankfully, I haven’t seen as much of it in recent years – possibly due to a prominent murder case in BC where a man stopped his meds in favour of Truehope vitamins and killed his father.

I’ve never actually read Goop before. I wonder if I should, you know, for “educational” purposes and blog fodder.

the Canadian Constitution Foundatation

In the US, if a group has certain words such as “Constitution” in its name, that is a red flag that the group is likely to be advancing some crackpot political agenda, usually of the right-wing variety. For instance, there is a Constitutional Sheriff’s Association in the US, which promotes the idea that county sheriffs are the ultimate law authority. They were sympathetic to the people occupying the wildlife refuge in Oregon, and several leaders of that occupation were arrested while attempting to travel to the next county to meet with a sheriff who belongs to that group. If palindorm’s description of the Canadian Constitution Foundation is accurate, that habit seems to have spread to the Great White North.

“Freedom”, “Patriot”, and “Christian” are other red-flag words. Groups with “Freedom” in the name tend to be about their members’ freedom to recklessly endanger other people (cf. “health freedom”). “Christian” groups habitually ignore the teachings of Yeshua bin Yosef, the man they claim to be the Messiah. And so forth.

I’ve never actually read Goop before. I wonder if I should, you know, for “educational” purposes and blog fodder.

Think that vague sort of combined interest and disgust that comes with reading the William Sonoma Christmas catalogue, but add a TON of woo to it.

There is indeed confllct between the testimony by Tannis, her employee Lexie Vataman who dispenses naturopathic remedies, and the Stephans’ statements to the RCMP. The only points not in dispute so far are:
1. Collet Stephan called Vataman, requested something to boost Ezekiel’s immune system, and mentioned that the nurse/midwife who had briefly looked in on the toddler has raised the possibility of viral meningitis.
2. Vataman concluded an echinacea tincture called ‘Blast’ was the appropriate remedy, but decided to check with Tannis to be sure.
3. Vataman told Collet Ezekiel should be taken to a hospital.
4. Tannis did not speak to Collet at this time, nor did she know who Collet was, as the two had never met.

Per the CP reporting: Collet Stephan came in within a day or two of the call and spoke briefly to naturopathic Dr. Tracey Tannis, who asked Vataman to make up a tincture of echinacea.

“I told her the tincture was pretty strong and she said, ‘that’s OK, the baby is used to things like horseradish,'” Vataman said.

“I was quite surprised that a baby would be able to tolerate that.”

http://www.thecanadianpress.com/english/online/OnlineFullStory.aspx?filename=DOR-MNN-CP.707d5a901df248ea8295e4c010b3dd31.CPKEY2008111310&newsitemid=36676272&languageid=1

@ Orac:

Have a few drinks first.
Blog fodder for sure!

So much badness accumulated in one convenient spot.

( HOWEVER the how-to-dress section includes places I might like/ where I’ve been so I’d better not scoff too much- but I’d do better than her [email protected])

@palindrom, I don’t know this group well, but from what I do know, I’d say that’s a fair characterization.

Eric, you left out “liberty”.
Two exceptions to your list – The Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. The first promotes Jefferson’s “wall of separation” in society in general; the other does the same in the context of the armed forces.

@Eric Lund

Governments are held accountable to our Constitution

Canadians would very rarely write like that. We just don’t think of a unitary constitution as we don’t have one. We have bits and pieces and who knows we might have to got back to Magna Carta in some cases

Rightwing nuts is the likely description

Canadian Constitution Foundation

Unfortunately, we do acquire some bad habits, with no implication of where. CCF is an organization advancing a right wing agenda cloaked in freedom statements. There was a CCF political party which was far left though.

@Orac “yet another reason naturopaths crave state licensure, at least here in the US.” Same in Canada, where they are becoming more legitimate in the view of many. As of yet, no Provincial health plan ( read universal health care ) pays any of a naturopath’s fees, but I suspect it is only a matter of time. Many supplemental insurance plans do pay some or all, so the inroad is made.

Karen Selick is a committed libertarian and a prolific writer from this viewpoint. Her promotion of “health freedom” has led her to promote altie positions, for example thermography for breast cancer screening and the deregulation of raw milk. She attempts to give scientific evidence for her positions but fails miserably. I would be skeptical of anything she tries to present as fact.

@Orac, #13
I never had either but I took a cautionary look at the main page.

Don’t.

Their featured story today is the $800 “juicer” which essentially is a grown up juice box. Extolling it as the “Coolest Invention of 2016”.

Further down is the “Bath-Based Detox” which can offset EMF exposure.

You could probably write a YFDOW blog for the next year from the front page alone.

Ross Miles: “CCF is an organization advancing a right wing agenda cloaked in freedom statements.”

The “freedom” they want seems to be free from paying taxes and other responsibilities. They want to be leeches on the rest of society, just like anti-vaxers are on their community’s herd immunity.

@Orac: I know that our revered box of blinking lights has knowledge of everything. However, know that there are actually people out there who read and believe the stupid stuff on that site might cause some overload. If you go there, please use extreme caution, make sure all irony meters are far away, and use only plastic dishes and cutlery.

@sadmar #11:


B. Ezekiel Is (Allegedly) Driven To Lethbridge Naturopathic
The Stephans claim that after Ezekiel took a turn for the worse on the day they eventually called 911, they placed him on the seat of their car as he was too stiff to sit in his car seat, and drove him the 85km to Lethbridge Naturopathic. Yet, all that occurred there was that Collet picked up Blast from Vataman, which the Stephans allegedly administered to Ezekiel on the way home. They did not take Ezekiel into the clinic, and there is no evidence or testimony so far that they even told anyone at the clinic that he was outside in the car, much lest request that he be examined.

I don’t think this is an accurate sequence of events. From what I understand, they called the naturopathic clinic, then a day or two later put Ezekiel in the back seat of their car to drive to the naturopathic clinic. This was when he was too stiff to put in the car seat. Collet then got the remedy from the naturopath and they drove back home. They claim he seemed to get better, but later (the next day?) he had breathing problems and only then did they call 911.

“Food must pass inspection before public distribution. ”

No. Some food must. All meat and poultry products must be inspected for safety before they can be put into the stream of commerce by either federal inspectors for interstate commerce or state inspectors for intrastate commerce.

In contrast, other foods require little to no inspection. Recently most outbreaks have been due to produce. The FSMA regulations are just being implemented now and they do not require inspection of food, just facilities every once in a while.

I don’t think this is an accurate sequence of events. From what I understand, they called the naturopathic clinic, then a day or two later put Ezekiel in the back seat of their car to drive to the naturopathic clinic. This was when he was too stiff to put in the car seat. Collet then got the remedy from the naturopath and they drove back home. They claim he seemed to get better, but later (the next day?) he had breathing problems and only then did they call 911.

Yes. And Tannis denies knowing that Collet Stephan (to whom Vataman spoke on the telephone, the day prior) was Ezekiel’s mother.

Such, such, such flaming, napalm-grade horse manure.

they placed him on the seat of their car as he was too stiff to sit in his car seat

They had to do this twice — once on the trip to Tannis, the other time, on the trip to meet the ambulance. Different days.

I will never get that image out of my head.

For what it is worth, naturopaths were not regulated in Alberta when these events took place. Ezekiel died in March 2012, but naturopaths did not get licesure in Alberta until August 2012.

The “freedom” they want seems to be free from paying taxes and other responsibilities.

An attitude we have been seeing far too much of in the US. I am reminded of this insightful quote from John Rogers:

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

Or, as the great Frank Zappa had one of his most sophomoric characters say, the narrator of “Teenage Wind”,

“Free is when you don’t have to pay for nothin’ or do nothin! I want to be free! Free as the wind!”

That kind of freedom.

Per the CP reporting: Collet Stephan came in within a day or two of the call and spoke briefly to naturopathic Dr. Tracey Tannis, who asked Vataman to make up a tincture of echinacea.
Press accounts get lots of things wrong. ‘Tannis asked Vataman to make a tincture’ is not supported by any reported testimony. If you check ALL the stories you find multiple versions of stuff like this. Reporters are summarizing material taken from other stories, which in turn are taken from hastily written notes during court proceedings, and false assumptions flourish. This is SOP for daily news. Most of the stories in the national Canadian news outlets (CBC, etc.) are abbreviated rewrites from The Lethbridge Herald, whose reporter Delon Shurtz may be the only journalist actually attending trial sessions. Shurtz displays rather dubious competence as a reporter.

RTMan #26
Delphine #29
I don’t see what you think is an innacuracy. Few stories are specific with dates, but Collet appears to have called Vataman on March 13. The trip to Lethbridge Natuopathic AND the rush to meet the ambulance from Cardston were both on March 15.

During an audio-recorded interview March 15, 2012 between Collet Stephan and an RCMP officer at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, Collet explained her son developed a runny nose and fever at the end of February of that year. Over the next couple of weeks his parents treated him with various natural remedies for what they initially thought was croup, and several times he seemed to be getting better… However, he later grew worse… When the couple drove into Lerthbridge… they had to place a mattress in the back of their vehicle because Ezekiel was too stiff to sit in his car seat. They picked up some product, gave it to Ezekiel, and drove home. The little boy responded quickly, Collet told Cpl. Ryan Bulford during the interview, and he seemed more relaxed and alert. He had a couple of naps after the family returned home and slept better than he had in a long time. Then his condition grew worse. “All of a sudden his breathing wasn’t normal,” Collet said. The couple called 911 and performed CPR on the toddler as they drove to meet the ambulance from Cardston…http://tinyurl.com/zr8j9jp

Multiple stories on Cpl. Bulford’s court appearance, during which the tape of his interview with Collet was played, indicate the trip to Lethbridge and the 911 occured on the same day. Which makes sense in that if Ezekiel was too stiff to fit in the car seat on the way to Lethbridge, he was in dire straits and didn’t have long before total system shut-down.

What doesn’t make any sense is driving a kid so sick you have to lay him out on a mattress 85km to a ‘health care clinic’ just to give him an echinacea preparation sooner than than waiting for the car to return. But that’s what Collet Stephan told the RCMP she did. She didn’t ask Tannis to examine Ezekiel, and she didn’t have Terry Meynders come back to look in on Ezekiel again after he turned for the worse.

FWIW: The Truehope page that might get folks asking some different questions here: http://tinyurl.com/jslgl5f

Per the CP reporting: Collet Stephan came in within a day or two of the call and spoke briefly to naturopathic Dr. Tracey Tannis, who asked Vataman to make up a tincture of echinacea.

Press accounts get lots of things wrong. ‘Tannis asked Vataman to make a tincture’ is not supported by any reported testimony. If you check ALL the stories you find multiple versions of stuff like this. Reporters are summarizing material taken from other stories, which in turn are taken from hastily written notes during court proceedings, and false assumptions flourish. This is SOP for daily news. Most of the stories in the national Canadian news outlets (CBC, etc.) are abbreviated rewrites from The Lethbridge Herald, whose reporter Delon Shurtz may be the only journalist actually attending trial sessions. Shurtz displays rather dubious competence as a reporter.

RTMan #26
Delphine #29
I don’t see what you think is an innacuracy. Few stories are specific with dates, but Collet appears to have called Vataman on March 13. The trip to Lethbridge Natuopathic AND the rush to meet the ambulance from Cardston were both on March 15.

During an audio-recorded interview March 15, 2012 between Collet Stephan and an RCMP officer at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, Collet explained her son developed a runny nose and fever at the end of February of that year. Over the next couple of weeks his parents treated him with various natural remedies for what they initially thought was croup, and several times he seemed to be getting better… However, he later grew worse… When the couple drove into Lerthbridge… they had to place a mattress in the back of their vehicle because Ezekiel was too stiff to sit in his car seat. They picked up some product, gave it to Ezekiel, and drove home. The little boy responded quickly, Collet told Cpl. Ryan Bulford during the interview, and he seemed more relaxed and alert. He had a couple of naps after the family returned home and slept better than he had in a long time. Then his condition grew worse. “All of a sudden his breathing wasn’t normal,” Collet said. The couple called 911 and performed CPR on the toddler as they drove to meet the ambulance from Cardston…http://tinyurl.com/zr8j9jp

Multiple stories on Cpl. Bulford’s court appearance, during which the tape of his interview with Collet was played, indicate the trip to Lethbridge and the 911 occured on the same day. Which makes sense in that if Ezekiel was too stiff to fit in the car seat on the way to Lethbridge, he was in dire straits and didn’t have long before total system shut-down.

What doesn’t make any sense is driving a kid so sick you have to lay him out on a mattress 85km to a ‘health care clinic’ just to give him an echinacea preparation sooner than than waiting for the car to return. But that’s what Collet Stephan told the RCMP she did. She didn’t ask Tannis to examine Ezekiel, and she didn’t have Terry Meynders come back to look in on Ezekiel again after he turned for the worse.

FWIW: The Truehope page that might get folks asking some different questions here: http://tinyurl.com/jslgl5f

” It was probably the same belief system that led them to work for Truehope Nutritional Support, a supplement company.”

Actually, Truehope is the family business!

Truehope was cofounded by David Stephan’s father, Anthony Stephan, and David Hardy, a cattle feed salesperson. Anthony Stephan was complaining about his children’s behavioural problems caused by ADD and mania. Hardy said it sounded like Ear and Tail Biting Syndrome in pigs, and suggested a supplement used by some pig farmers to supposedly treat ETBS.

So Truehope started out as a pig feed supplement!

They claim this stuff can cure all kinds of things including bipolar illness. They encourage people to stop taking medications that work and take their overpriced pig feed supplement instead.
http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/07/16/truehopes-confusing-message-empowerplus-q96-claims-to-treat-bipolar-adhd-depression/

tag fail, tried to post correction, didn’t go through.

¶ 1 Quote from Delphine

¶ 2 &3 Me

¶ 4 Quote from Lethbridge herald

Remainder: me

You’re right, sadmar, it appears the trip to Tannis and Ezekiel’s subsequent rapid decline leading to death transpired on the same day, two different trips taken (Tannis and meeting the ambulance)


Press accounts get lots of things wrong. ‘Tannis asked Vataman to make a tincture’ is not supported by any reported testimony.

Except it is, though. When Collet responded that a nurse had already seen him, Vataman went to the clinic’s doctor to ask what she would suggest. She stated that the doctor recommended an echinacea mixture, which the Stephans later picked up.

Are you saying that Vataman didn’t testify to this?

http://lethbridgenewsnow.com/article/506422/naturopathic-clinic-employee-says-she-told-mother-seek-medical-care

@Lighthorse, #39 – The most annoying part about anti-vaxxers is their belief in their “Ubermensch-hood”: they’re superior human beings who don’t stuff their bodies with “toxins” and whose super-human immune systems don’t need no stinkin’ medicine!

Which, as Orac pointed out in a recent blogpost, means that if YOU get cancer (or any other nasty disease) it is YOUR fault for not living the super-duper Lifestyle of these organic and natural Ubermensch…

Delphine asked:

Are you saying that Vataman didn’t testify to this?

No. I overstated. That ‘Tannis asked Vataman to make a tincture’ is unclear and appears to be in dispute. The press reports only hit what the reporters/editors consider highlights of testimony, and when they summarize in their own words they make errors. Furthermore, I’d guess the prosecutor only seeks to establish that Collet was told to take Ezekiel to the hospital/real-doctor, but didn’t, and thus isn’t concerned about how exactly the Blast was ‘prescribed’ and didn’t try to get clarity on things we might want to know.

As an example of how sloppy reporting is, Lethbridge News Now reporter Patrick Buries gets the date of the drive-to-meet-the-ambulance wrong in at least two different stories. It’s clearly 3/15 but he reports it as 3/13. He also seems to be the source of the 3/13 date for Collet’s phone call to Vataman, so he may have pulled that out of his butt. In different stories and different testimony the phone call is listed as the same day as the emergency, the day before, or two days before. I’d guess since these events happened four years ago, none of the folks who’ve testifed so far remember exactly, and the Crown hasn’t bothered to subpoena phone records to check.

Anyway, back to the Blast… First, it’s not clear Vataman had to make anything, since there are at least three commercial echinacea products with ‘Blast’ in their name:
Master Formulae Blast, The Herbalist Immuno-Blast; and Natural Factors Quick-Blast.

Now, look at this passage from the coverage of Vataman’s testimony by Bill Graveland of The Canadian Press, which you quoted in part earlier:

Lexie Vataman, who fills holistic prescriptions at the Lethbridge Naturopathic Medical Clinc, told a jury Wednesday that she received a call from Collet Stephan in March 2012. “She needed something to build up her baby’s immune system,” said Vataman. “She said, ‘My baby might have a form of meningitis and we think it might be viral and not bacterial.”‘ Vataman said she asked if Stephan had taken her son to a medical doctor. She said Collet replied that a friend who was a nurse was keeping an eye on him and he didn’t have a fever… The trial in Lethbridge has been told that the couple first thought the boy had croup and treated him with natural remedies and homemade smoothies containing hot pepper, ginger root, horseradish and onion. Collet Stephan came in within a day or two of the call and spoke briefly to naturopathic Dr. Tracey Tannis, who asked Vataman to make up a tincture of echinacea. “I told HER the tincture was pretty strong and SHE said, ‘That’s OK, the baby is used to things like horseradish,”‘ Vataman said. “I was quite surprised that a baby would be able to tolerate that.”

So who is the referent of the pronouns ‘she’ and ”her’ capitalized above? Graveland does not bother to clarify. If it’s Tannis, we’d have a MAJOR conflict I have a hard time imagining any reporter (even these bozos) failing to note. Tannis testified she did not know Collet Stephan, and no one has indicated that Ezekiel had even been seen at Lethbridge Naturopathic for anything. So if Tannis knew Ezekiel was tolerating horseradish she’s lying out her butt. But it doesn’t make sense for Vataman to tell Tannis the tincture is strong if Tannis prescribed it. So, surely Vataman was saying she told Collet the tincture was strong, and Collet replied that Ezekiel was tolerating horseradish. “”I was quite surprised that a baby would be able to tolerate that,” we can assume, was extracted by the prosecution to indicate Vataman thought Collet’s home remedy was inappropriate for a toddler.

In Tannis’ testimony “Questions continued about whether it was Tannis who had recommended the echinacea mixture, but she flatly denied it.” Also:

Tannis says Vataman pulled her out of an appointment with another patient to ask for advice, and that she immediately responded by saying, “You need to tell the lady to take the child to emergency right away.” She says she waited to hear Vataman relay the message, and then went back to her patient. Tannis explained that meningitis is not something she is prepared to handle at her clinic, and that emergency care is required. Questions then turned to a later point, when Collet Stephan came to the clinic to purchase an echinacea mixture called Blast to treat the child. Tannis stated that while she had a brief conversation with Collet, she didn’t realize it was the same person who had called about a treatment for meningitis, adding, “I really thought that woman went to emergency.”

Now, let’s go back to a different press account of Vataman’s testimony;

She testified the mother told her she was afraid for the child to get a spinal tap, and that they thought the illness might be viral rather than bacterial because he didn’t have a fever. [Vataman] said she asked the doctor about giving something for the immune system and she said the only thing they could give is “Blast,” an echinacea mixture. The employee checked with the doctor to make sure that was right, then Collet came in to pick up the mixture but didn’t bring in the child.

This makes no sense. If Vataman asked Tannis for ‘an immune booster’ during Collet’s call, and was told ‘Blast is all we can give’, Vataman wouldn’t need to ‘check with the doctor to make sure that was right’, now would she? Of course, this could just be bad newswriting, but “checked with the doctor to make sure that was right” sure sounds like the Blast was Vataman’s idea… Perhaps the trial transcript would help untangle this mess. Perhaps not.

I don’t know if the defense will call Collet, but if they do, I’d guess she’ll testify Vataman didn’t say anything about doctors or emergency rooms. She might say whether Vataman put down the phone to check with Tannis, and came back with the recommendation for Blast, but I wouldn’t trust anything any of these folks say. Vataman gave herself a bit of an out by testifying, “her memory isn’t that good” under cross.
______

OK, forget the question of ‘who suggested Blast’ for now, and consider some questions none of the reporting addresses. Why did Collet Stephan call Lethbridge Naturopathic of all places to seek ‘an immune system booster’ for Ezekiel? If she never spoke to Tracey Tannis before March 15, had she acquired herbal remedies from Vataman before. Did those two know each other in some other context? Or did she just look up a naturopathy clinic in the Yellow Pages.

Here’s a twist I’ll bet you didn’t see coming: Why was Collet asking Vataman for an immune system booster when her father-in-law and husband make and markets a product with exactly that claim: “Truehope OLE” (Olive Leaf Extract) – “Antioxidents for a healthy immune system”…

… naturally strengthen your immune system… a natural extract from the olive leaf, standardized to 17% Oleuropein. The antibacterial, antifungal effects of Oleuropein are well-known and are even thought to help reduce the need for pharmaceutical antibiotics. Boost immune system and bowel function by reducing yeast and other pathogens from the body using Truehope OLE.

Hey, if you’ve got something to reduce the need for antibiotics in the family warehouse, why drive 85km for plain ol’ echinacea?

Truehope is as venal a supplement scam as you can find, charging $80 bottle for a vitamin formula similar to Centrum (claiming it lets folks get off their psych meds…), and making ‘customer support’ follow-up calls from a hard-sell boilerroom to snooker web buyers into buying a bucketload of other Truehope products ‘necessary to make the EMPower Plus work correctly and avoid drug interactions’. They’ve gotten into any number of their customers for thousands of dollars over brief periods. The Stephan family has been lying to their customers for 20 years, and lying to duck government action and lawsuits for at least 12 years. I have no reason to believe they’re telling the truth about any aspect of Ezekiel’s illness, and what they did or did not do about it.

(claiming it lets folks get off their psych meds…)

That… doesn’t sound quite safe… and very, very irresponsible and potentially dangerous!

I just realized I called it “not safe” AND “dangerous” in the same sentence…

-facedesk-

One thing that I keep wondering about this case – how legal is it in Alberta to transport a child on a mattress in the back of the car? Of all the stupid things about this case the driving the poor child to and from the clinic is the one that makes me the angriest.

@ Amethyst

I just realized I called it “not safe” AND “dangerous” in the same sentence…

Don’t sweat it, say it was for stylistic effect 🙂

In the context of weaning someone off his/her meds, emphasis of the risks by redundancy is actually perfectly justified.
A schizophrenic friend of mine scuttled his marriage by his paranoia. His new doctor had him dropping his meds regimen 1-2 months before.
Anecdotal, n=1, correlation not causation, and all that. For all I know, the relationship between the two spouses could have taken a turn for the worse either way.
But, from the little me and other friends saw, he was better at social interactions and the marriage looked like a stable partnership before the meds drop.

@ Amethyst:

Semantics Nazi sez: “not quite safe” and “potentially dangerous” are NOT synonyms. And Morality Nazi sez: “very, very irresponsible” is an understatement. I’d go for “criminal” myself:

A man with schizophrenia killed his father and gravely injured his mother at their home in North Vancouver, British Columbia. Jordan Ramsay was off his prescribed antipsychotic medication at the time, instead taking an alternative multivitamin preparation called Truehope EMPowerplus™. He believed his parents were aliens and felt compelled to kill them.

And…

In September 2001, Caro Overdulve told his parents he wanted to drop his schizophrenia medications and take a vitamin and mineral supplement from an Alberta company called Truehope. The company promised its EMPowerplus™ supplement would bring mental wellness without drugs. Caro was sold… In the two years since, Caro, now 32, has descended into psychosis and been charged with assault, mischief and criminal harassment… He paid for the first few months of EMPowerplus™ himself, selling his used Chevrolet Cavalier to pay. His parents were skeptical, but willing to try anything that might help their son. They agreed to foot the rest of the bill, arranging for automatic credit card deductions for the pills. From November to February, they were billed six times, for a total of more than $1,600. In March 2002, they were charged $1,248 for an additional six-month supply of the pills. But the Overdulves found their son’s supplements weren’t working. Worse, his behaviour was getting increasingly bizarre and even alarming. When they went to visit him in a townhouse they owned in Barrhaven, they found the place filthy. Pots with the charred remains of food were piled in the sink. Drinking glasses and mugs containing liquids were floating islands of mould, recalls Mrs. Overdulve. Her son was taking 32 capsules a day, but he was eating them by the handful. Often he missed his mouth, scattering capsules everywhere. The Overdulves found that their son had racked up $600 on his phone bill for calls to a Truehope support line in Orléans, even though the centre had a toll-free line. (Ottowa Citizen, http://tinyurl.com/h8rv74v)

The Citizen also reports Truehope’s co-founder, David Hardy, calls EMPowerplus™ “the most significant breakthrough in health since time’s beginning.”

@ Amethyst:
@ Helianthus:

Unfortunately, alt med advocates often are adamantly opposed to psychiatric medications of any sort:
there is a movement called Orthomolecular Medicine which would replace them with vitamins and of course, there is Scientology with its systemic mythos.

Amongst those current dis-information sources I survey, anti-depressants and anti-psychotics are most reviled: nearly every day, an article will pop up at Natural News describing horrors- like mass shootings- associated with these meds- in fact they even have their own expert, Mike Bundrant Prn.fm includes a show by Peter Breggin, chief amongst the scoffers. Studies exploring side effects are highlighted and exaggerated whilst the benefits of these medications are totally ignored.

Frequently, a woo-meister will argue against mental illness IN GENERAL, saying that it doesn’t exist at all. Depression is merely an emotion that people have all the time. Most people have bouts of elation and sadness- that’s not an example of Bi-polar illness. What is more ( in their view), psychiatrists invented these conditions**, creating them by committee at DSM meetings and then, using them to market new psychotropic medications to enrich themselves and Pharma. Some insist that the meds themselves cause mental illness.
There is no blood test or CAT scan/ MRI that can be used to diagnose these conditions – so they aren’t real***

People who experience these conditions would do better, they claim, meditating, praying, cleaning up their diet, taking supplements and herbs and being more spiritual. They preach that ‘talk therapy’ ALONE is the answer- without any medication- for serious mental illness like schizophrenia.

Believe it or not, there is a market for these ideas amongst people who perhaps don’t understand or accept their own condition- woo-meisters are simpatico and seek out their business..
Alt med causes unnecessary suffering again as it does in cases of untreated physical illness.
There’s so much more here. Believe me,

** like these illnesses didn’t exist before the Age of Pharmacology.

***.you can’t scan how someone behaves or thinks and there’s no blood test for feelings.

15 years ago, many in my family told me my child’s autism was due to poor discipline and daycare. Funny how many of the no meds in-laws show signs of OCD. (My daughter is now functioning well at community college and the family has become more tolerant. Moving 3 states away helped, too.)

@ Ruth/STL:

I’ve always said that perhaps the alties who push these theories suffer from similar conditions themselves along with a heaping dose of anosognosia as well. No wonder they appear to have so much empathy for their patients,
I’m not entirely joking.

Reading through that heartbreaking story, I had to repeatedly stop, as I had a near-irresistible urge to quite literally tear someone’s face clean off.
Granted, a lot of that is my hyperthyroidism, for which I’ve had my dosage of methimazole increased and fortunately, such emotional lability will pass over time. Apparently, the hyperthyroid was going on for quite a while before I showed significant physiological symptoms.

Of course, a naturopath would ignore that urge, ignore the 40 pound weight loss in two months, ignore the BP of 200/100 and pulse of 128. The pulsing belly would also be ignored.
It’s just as well that I saw a real physician, rather than a soon-to-be faceless naturopath. Last evening, my beta blocker dosage has been reduced from a level that would drop a horse to one that’d render the Hulk unconscious.
Eventually, my endocrinologist assures me that all issues of hyperthyroidism should resolve and I’ll eventually no longer require that anti-thyroid medication.
If the urge to disassemble people manually doesn’t resolve by then, there are other real medical professionals to discuss appropriate treatment with, it’s a bit early currently, as my FT3 and FT4 levels are still markedly elevated.
Oh, the pulsing belly that has likely worried the medical professionals here? It’s only a 2.2 cm dilation, we’re watchfully waiting to see if it progresses toward something really, really bad.
I’ll stick with real medical professionals, thank you. I’m alive because of evidence based medicine, I’ll stick with it.
That doesn’t mean that I avoid herbal teas, I enjoy them after clearing them with doctor – as a tea, not a treatment.
Which reminds me, I’m getting low on artichoke tea. It gives me a wonderful artichoke flavor and doesn’t interfere with any of my medical treatments.

Naturopathy for meningitis, for crap’s sake! If I was on the jury, the parents would get the maximum sentence.
No, I’d be medically unfit for that jury, lest I harm those two idiots.
But, had either of our daughters tried to pull that, on day one, CPS would have been summoned and repeatedly summoned until they acted. Fortunately, both of our now grown children are big on evidence based medicine.

@ Wzed1:

Believe it or not, I’ve heard woo-meisters recommend herbs like hawthorne and foxglove and magnesium for CV conditions like tachycardia, CHF et al. There is a rescue pack that can be assembled ( including cayenne, garlic, magnesium, vitamin C) for sudden heart attacks/ strokes.

They have no sense of responsibility for their speech.

Denice, there is a recourse to teach them responsibility for their “speech”, conviction of criminal negligence.

@Wzrd1: Glad to see you are improving slowly and that Real Doctors (TM) are watching over all of your health and belly pulsing.

Now, here are some herbs and crystals that will help you. Oh, and that laptop is pre-programmed to take you to my personal store “istealmoneyfromidiots.com” (ducks and covers)

@Dawn, do ignore that smell, it’s nothing.
Beyond my pulling my finger. A proper three layer cloud there, the first letting you know it’s there, the second drawing you into it and the final one dissolving you entirely. Makes HF look tame. :P:p:P:p

I just keep thinking of that poor baby and how much pain he must have been in. I’m a life-long migraine and ear infection sufferer, and those make me want to scoop my brains out through my eye socket. My husband had aseptic meningitis as an adult, and says words can’t describe how much it hurts (he reached the “hand claw” stage before finally going to the ER).

That poor baby. *rage*

@ Denice Walter

like these illnesses didn’t exist before the Age of Pharmacology.

Right. At the risk of going into clichés about mental illnesses, I’m sure you can illustrate half the descriptions of the DSM with the portraits of various Roman emperors and other illustrious members of old Europe royalty.
Those of them who got a nickname like “crazy” didn’t earn it by just being a bit eccentric. Narcissism, paranoia*, and bipolar disorder would also be well represented.
* I will admit they often had very good reasons to be paranoid.

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that Tannis really never did see the child, and in fact never even heard of the child. The fact remains, she was employing someone to prepare herbal and homeopathic remedies and she was apparently OK with this employee dispensing medical advice and remedies without her knowledge.

In my opinion, this makes her completely complicit in this debacle. That would be like me handing my secretary my script pad and telling her to have fun with it.

# 47 Denice Walter

Frequently, a woo-meister will argue against mental illness IN GENERAL, saying that it doesn’t exist at all.

Ah yes, and let’s not forget Thomas Szaz http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-myth-of-thomas-szasz

Psychiatry is conventionally defined as a medical speciality concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of mental diseases,” he wrote. “I submit that this definition, which is still widely accepted, places psychiatry in the company of alchemy and astrology and commits it to the category of pseudoscience. The reason for this is that there is no such thing as ‘mental illness.

The problem was that he was not a woo-meiser but psychiatrist (Or was that the same thing back then?)

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that Tannis really never did see the child, and in fact never even heard of the child. The fact remains, she was employing someone to prepare herbal and homeopathic remedies and she was apparently OK with this employee dispensing medical advice and remedies without her knowledge.

Exactly.

I dealt with this issue explicitly in my first post:

So it’s true that the naturopath prescribed a treatment for a potentially serious condition without seeing the patient. As I said last time, naturopaths want to function as primary care providers even though they are grossly unqualified. Well, one of the key attributes of a primary care doctor is responsibility, and responsibility mandates that a physician should not prescribe a treatment for a potentially serious disease without actually evaluating the patient by physical examination and, if indicated, appropriate diagnostic tests. Yet that’s exactly what Tannis apparently did. A key skill of a primary care provider is to know when to tell a patient to go to the emergency room.

Tannis was definitely complicit by failing to carry out the most basic task of a responsible health care provider.

Possibly OT but I think of general interesst: People may find this interesting I have only given this a quick scan and a) the sample sizes may be a bit small and b) they use dynamite plots which I thought had pretty well died out years ago but it is definitely suggestive.
Horne, Z., Powell, D., Hummel, J. E., & Holyoak, K. J. (2015). Countering antivaccination attitudes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(33), 10321–10324. http://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1504019112
http://www.pnas.org/content/112/33/10321.full.pdf

Every time I read more about this case, I come up with more colourful and inventive swearing (we’re good at swearing in the UK). I’ll refrain from treating you all to today’s outburst, and instead note that, re Gwynnie, there’s a lovely takedown of her latest “therapy”, bee stings (yes, really) by Dean Burnett on the Guardian’s website today. Enjoy! https://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2016/apr/06/gwyneth-paltrows-bee-sting-beauty-treatment-just-wont-fly

MIDawn: I know that our revered box of blinking lights has knowledge of everything. However, know that there are actually people out there who read and believe the stupid stuff on that site might cause some overload. If you go there, please use extreme caution, make sure all irony meters are far away, and use only plastic dishes and cutlery.

I recently read an article on Gwyneth Paltrow. One of her new things is drinking smoothies with cordyceps- that fungus that turns ants into zombies. I dunno, but that doesn’t sound safe to me.

Wzrd1: My deepest sympathies. I know a family whose furbaby is going through the same treatment. Hope you feel better soon.

I’m still completely outraged by this. I hope that couple never sees their surviving kids again. I know cats and dogs that are treated better than poor Ezekial.

@Ethel:

Car seats are required by law in Alberta until the child is 6 years old and weighs over 40 lbs. It’s just a fine – $115 back in 2012.

Just to clarify jkrideau’s comment at #20, if anyone — besides me — cares about Canadian Constitutional law.

While it is true that we don’t have a constitution like the United States’, as a nation-founding document, we are not like the United Kingdom, either, for which I think jkrideau’s description is accurate.

The Canadian Constitution constitutes two written documents, the Constitution Act, 1867, http://canlii.ca/t/ldsw which created Canada out of the 4 original provinces (British colonies at the time), which was called the British North America Act when I was in school. This was in fact a British Act, passed in the British Parliament.

The second is the Constitution Act, 1982, http://canlii.ca/t/ldsx through which then Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, threw off the last shackle of colonialism, by giving Canada complete power of self-government. Again, we had to first get permission from the British Parliament to adopt this Constitution. The 1982 Act contains the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (our equivalent to the U.S.A.’s Bill of Rights). When Canadians, such as the RWNJ Karen Selick, or even your average Tim Hortons customer refer to the Constitution, they typically mean the Charter and the rights it gives, as the rest of the 1982 Act is largely a bunch of procedural gobblydegook.

nearly every day, an article will pop up at Natural News describing horrors- like mass shootings- associated with these meds

Half the time, the evidence that a perpetrator was actually taking pills is along the lines of “He was a weird kid, therefore he was autistic, therefore he must have been on medication, QED.”

I’m going to go out on a limb and speculate that Natural News, PRN et al do not cover the cases mentioned by Sadmar, where someone is persuaded to quit their medication and then kills a family member.

@ herr doktor bimler:

You’re right – and it IS curious- but I’ve never once heard of any cases like that via these outlets.
Usually the tales end with the protagonist being totally cured and starting a great career- sometimes as a doctor.

Like Schrodinger’s cat quantum or one-size-fits-none quantum?

Politicalguineapig, isn’t that wave-particle duality?
It’s whatever it needs to be to befuddle the experimenter’s results. 😉

FSM on a crutch! Y’all are being played. Smacking Tannis is carrying water for the defense, as she’s a key witness for the Crown.

David and Collet are represented by Shawn Buckley, Truehope’s long-time legal ‘muscle’. His agenda is protecting the Stephan family business, which he has done by any sketchy means necessary against lawsuits and Canadian government action, including threatening litigation against anyone who says ‘boo’ about EMPowerPlus™. He’s going to try to pin responsibility for Ezekiel’s death on anyone and everyone not named ‘Stephan’, and you can bet if Vataman and Tannis have spoken to private attorneys, they’ve been warned they could be named in a wrongful death suit.

The fact remains, [Tannis] was employing someone to prepare herbal remedies and she was apparently OK with this employee dispensing medical advice and remedies without her knowledge.

True in general, but per Tannis’s testimony, not for anything that might be meningitis. Vataman may have gone completely rogue, though I doubt we’ll ever learn what really happened inside Lethbridge Naturopathic.

Now, I’m not a doctor, obviously, but based on the ME’s report and Clay Jones notes on bacterial meningitis over on SBM, the Stephan’s story that Ezekiel seemed to get better then worse, better then worse is at best improbable. It sounds to me as if on the morning of the day Ezekiel lapsed into a coma he would have been in very dire straits. They key point here then is that the parents didn’t ask anyone to examine him, not a real doctor, not Collet’s midwife RN Terrie Meynders, not even a naturopath. Collet just drove 85km, hopped into Lethbridge Naturopathic, picked up an echinacea tincture, and left.

Why? Try these ‘what ifs’: What if Collet and David awoke on the morning of March 15, 2012 to find their infant son on death’s door? What if they called family patriarch Tony Stephan (David’s dad and Truehope mogul) to ask for advice? What if Tony rang up Shawn Bradley, and Bradley told Tony that Collet and David needed to find someone, anyone, to scapegoat for this in court?

Tannis has testifed that when she spoke to Collet on the afternoon of March 15, she had no idea Collet was the mother who had phoned Vataman stating a worry about meningitis. Which begs the question: how did Collet come to speak with Tannis? What if she asked to have a word with ‘the doctor’? That would seem to leave two possible scenarios:
1) Tannis is telling the truth, and Collet said nothing to indicate she was the mom who had sought an ‘immune booster’ for her toddler, or that the lad was outside in the car.
2) Tannis is lying, and Collet asked to see her to confirm that Blast was the right thing to give a tot so sick he had to be laid out on a mattress, and Tannis said ‘Yes, that’ll do the trick. Have a nice day!’
Wanna bet what Collet’s account of this encounter is going to be? Wanna bet that Shawn Buckley and Tony Stephan are above using a carrot of pay-offs and a stick of litigation threats to get Lexie Vataman to perjure herself?

So it’s true that the naturopath prescribed a treatment for a potentially serious condition without seeing the patient.

Not at all. That will likely be alleged by the defense (oh, the hypocrisy!), but that doesn’t make it true.

Here’s a question I’d like someone in the know to answer: do herbal remedies need any kind of prescription? Let’s say what Vataman gave Collet was Master Master Formulae Blast, which is made in Canada and approved by Health Canada. It’s available mail-order, and if Lethbridge Naturopathic had it stock, I’d guess anyone could walk in, shell out the $30C, and walk out with it no questions asked.

The Blast page on the Master Formulae website includes the following text:

Do not use… with infectious or inflammatory gastrointestinal conditions or for infants or children under the age of 12.

Now, if Tannis keeps this stuff in stock, what are the odds she doesn’t know this, or ignores it? Keeping in mind that Truehope sells a product that competes with Blast, what are the odds that Tony Stephan doesn’t know this? Collet and David told the RCMP that Ezekiel only became critical a few hours after they gave him the Blast. Any dots begging for connection there?

Here’s a query: Could one of the MDs here take a look at the ME’s report on Ezekiel’s death and weigh the comparative odds of these two possibilities?
1) As the Stephans claimed to the RCMP, Ezekiel was looking better and napping quietly a short time before they called 911.
2) Ezekiel was actually comatose before Collet Stephan departed from home to fetch the Blast from Lethbridge Naturopathic?

Here’s another query for anyone in that part of Alberta: Was Lethbridge Naturopathic the closest source for Blast, or just the closest source where an unwitting naturopath who didn’t know the Stephans from Adam could have been drawn into the case?

Look, if you’ve read anything I’ve said about naturopathy here or on SBM, you know I’m all in on the proposition “naturopaths shouldn’t treat children—or anyone else”. But from the get-go, I smelled a rat behind the news coverage, and after considerable digging into this thing I am 99 and 44/100% convinced this is a Truehope story, not a naturopathy story, and Shawn Buckley is trying to set up Tracey Tannis for the fall to protect Tony Stephan’s financial and personal interests.

Truehope apparently has quite a bit of pull in Alberta, and with the local press taking the ‘bad naturpath’ peg and being all but mum on Truehope, let’s just say I’m not convinced that’s entirely innocent. AFAIK, I’m the only person following this trial who bothered to check whether Truehope is in the “immune booster” business, and since that’s not exactly hard to find on the company’s website, I have to wonder ‘why?’. Knowing daily journalism as I do, I can say that a version of Hanlon’s Razor definitely applies, and one should generally not attribute to malice that which can be explained by mere incompetence and standard reporting routines. But I also know that incompetence and routine almost always spin to protect the powerful, and clever political actors are highly skilled in feeding that, and using it to their advantage.

Whether by chance or design, the Ezekiel Stephan case is spinning towards ‘blame natuorpathy’ vs. ‘blame the family of outrageous supplement scammers’. A lose-lose proposition for public health. So far, Tony Stephan is positioned to get out of this clean, even if his son and daughter-in-law have to take some of the fall. Given Shawn Buckley’s record, I wouldn’t be surprised if the trial results in an acquittal, hung jury, reduced charge, or light sentence.

If naturopathy is as messed up as the NaturoChat leaks suggest, skeptics will (unfortunately) have plenty of opportunities to make the case against naturopathy without deflecting scrutiny from venal murderous scumbags like Tony Stephan. Y’all might want to give some very serious consideration to shifting the spotlight here, don’t you think?

@sadmar – thank you. I appreciate learning about the media aspect as much as I appreciate learning about the science.

@ Darthhellokitty:

I saw the quantum bra!

Alright, physicists out there! Who can make the best joke?

Wzrd1: Politicalguineapig, isn’t that wave-particle duality?
It’s whatever it needs to be to befuddle the experimenter’s results.

I suppose so- like for instance, one can have a bra that’s attractive and one can have a bra that will *fit* but the two are usually not the same.

I gotta say your take is depressingly plausible, Sadmar. There is plenty to pin on naturopathy without turning the focus of this case on a few moment’s interaction with Tannis (who clearly had incomplete information) compared to DAYS of the family doing basically nothing. I fully believe the parents would have ignored Tannis’s correct suggestion of the ER given what else they didn’t do. She may be a quack, but I don’t think she’s a monster, unlike certain other players in this tragedy.

@Politicalguineapig, see? With a little setup, the bra jokes practically write themselves.

Emma, what contribution the naturopath had would have to have been in the days before. By the time they went to the “clinic”, meningitis was well established and his course quite predictable. Regardless of the bacteria causing the meningitis, the condition was dire after a week, beyond dire at two weeks and at a month, I’m uncertain if any physician could alter the lethal course of the infection.
That he survived for a month is astonishing and suggests that he had a different infection initially, which progressed into meningitis, for which one typically has a day or two tops before the course is set to death.
That they waited until things go so dire as the child was so near death is something I cannot comprehend! Meningitis doesn’t sneak up on you and the signs are quite clear and classic.

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