Snakes twice in one week? Well, not really. Snake oil.
I'm not talking about the Chinese remedy shéyóu, often used as a remedy for inflammation and pain. I'm talking about supposedly miraculous 'medical' remedies made from mysterious and magical ingredients. Remember some of those old Westerns? They always had a snake oil salesman character in there someone, a travelling doctor with dubious credentials, hawking some magical cure for all ills.
It seems 'snake oil cures' are alive and well.
The most potent current example comes from Ghana where President Yahya Jammeh claims to have developed a cure for AIDS. The cure involves seven plants used to produce a combination of products for application to the patient and a tea which patients drink. Patients must also must stop drinking alcohol, tea and coffee, avoid kola nuts and sex during treatment. The cure is expected to take 30 days.
The real concern is that patients are also requested to cease taking anti-retroviral drugs which can lead to a weakening of the immune system and increase risk of infection.
President Jammeh is sending his patients for testing. I guess the proof will be in the pudding so to speak. So far, anecdotal evidence suggests the patients are feeling better. Effective treatment or simply a placebo effect?
In a continent devastated by the highest rates of HIV infection in the world, it is understandable how individuals could attach hope to any suggestion of a cure or treatment, no matter how outlandish the claim. However, as Dr Antonio Filipe, the local head of the World Health Organisation, seeks to remind us all, "As the World Health Organisation, we would like to state quite clearly the following - so far, there is no cure for AIDS."
'A new all-time low' by Ben Goldacre at Bad Science talks about the treatment of Zackie Achmat
and his fight to secure HIV medications for all against those who claim HIV medications causes AIDS, not HIV itself.
Thank you to Sisiphus for drawing my attention to this link.