Nadia Sawalha: case study of a celebrity dimwit supporting homeopathy

At the moment, all eyes are on “celebrity nutritionist” Gillian McKeith as she struggles in the Australian jungle, but I’d like to talk about a celebrity who is a keen advocate of homeopathy: Nadia Sawalha.

I might as well say from the off that I find Nadia Sawalha on TV to be very annoying. Her only talents seems to be for shouting and staring maniacally at the camera. Now that I’ve got my prejudices out of the way, lets look at a few of her interviews: two from the Daily Mail, and one from Candis, a Northern-based lifestyle magazine that just happens to sound like a venereal disease.

They all center around her life experience of homeopathy, and all read like a lesson in “Bullshit detection 101”. Here’s a little anecdote that she heard from a friend:

Then my sister bumped into a friend who had suffered from bad acne since she was a teenager, but whose skin was now clear. She’d repeatedly been to the doctors, spent a fortune on creams, yet nothing worked. Eventually, she went to see a homeopath and the remedy he’d prescribed made her skin clear up.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that you have someone who suffered from acne as a teenager, and the acne went away as they got older. Regression to the mean methinks, no evidence whatsoever that the homeopathy played a role.
She goes on to talk about her experience with headaches:
I booked to see a homeopath, Rachel. For an hour, she asked me every question under the sun about my physical and emotional well-being, stress, my likes and dislikes, the food I craved, then she gave me some pills to take every day, for two weeks. After a week, not only had my headaches subsided – I felt fantastic.
What we are seeing here is the benefit of the homeopathic consultation and the placebo effect, both of which are well studied phenomena, especially with regards to headaches.
So far, so easy to dismiss Nadia’s claims of efficacy. However, what really convinces Nadia of the effectiveness of homeopathy is her experience of eczema, despite admitting that she first suffered it age 17:
Not everyone has a pet name for their eczema, but actress and TV presenter Nadia Sawalha called hers ‘my John rash’ after a mild attack was triggered as a 17-year-old after she broke up with her boyfriend.
So straight away, she admits that she has had eczema following stress, and stress is known to exacerbate some skin conditions. She tells us of a major attack of eczema later in her life:
Just over six years ago, it got so bad I couldn’t even pick up my baby, Maddie, who’s now seven. Her birth had been very traumatic, but I hadn’t talked to anybody about it. When she was about six months old, my hands started to blister very badly. I tried hydrocortisone cream, which had no effect. Back in the UK, the hospital said there was nothing they could do, apart from regularly dress my hands. Feeling helpless, I went back to my homeopath, Rachel. Through talking, we finally established the real issue behind the eczema – it was 
a physical symptom of the emotional trauma of Maddie’s birth.
In fact, she also reveals in the Mail articles that she was working 13 hour days at the time and gave up on breast feeding her baby. Now, I’m not likely to experience any of this, but I imagine that giving birth for the first time, unwillingly giving up breast feeding and working 13 hours a day on a TV program is pretty stressful. There is evidence to show that the homeopathic consultation has clinical effects, which in this case would most probably have relaxed and reassured Nadia, helping her to get over her eczema.
In conclusion, what we see with Nadia are several straightforward examples of regression to the mean, the placebo effect and the effects of long consultations. I’m all for people having their own opinions, but it does anger me that some people take her stupidity seriously. Oh, one final thing: she is anti-vaccine.
Nadia says her daughters Maddie, now seven, and Kiki, two, have never seen a GP and not had any childhood vaccinations. Rather, they consult the homeopath every few weeks.
Oh dear.

5 Comments

  1. Lindy

    Whimsy of the rich and silly. Eczema, an atopic condition, is largely hereditary. Let’s hope her two daughters don’t inherit it and then die from their mother’s silliness as did Baby Gloria. Once she experiences the stress of being imprisoned for neglect and manslaughter, Nadia might not be able to find a jail-bird homeopath to treat the inevitable skin flare-up.

  2. Wow what a depressing and cynical read. As an eczema sufferer, for whom conventional medicine only helps so much, I would willingly try alternative medicine to see if I can get some relief. I am guessing none of you suffer badly from eczema. Some positive encouragement would have been a far better use of this page. Good for Nadia if she has now treated her eczema successfully. Shame on all of you for ripping her apart for her what really is just her giving her personal experience. Get a life.

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