Holistic starvation

“Naturopathy” nearly claims another life.


A Sydney naturopath who allegedly told a mother to stop medicating her eight-month-old boy, leaving him close to death, has been arrested.

NSW Police said Marilyn Bodnar, a 59-year-old registered nurse and midwife who also practises naturopathy, had been consulted by the mother of the young boy seeking an alternative health treatment for the baby’s eczema.

Officers allege the naturopath advised the mother to stop the child’s medical and dermatological treatments.

Because eczema is natural and holistic and should be treated with love and sympathy rather than harsh artificial chemicals full of toxic GMO toxins?

The baby was admitted to Westmead Hospital in May suffering from malnourishment and developmental issues.

Police said the boy had lost more than a kilogram and was near death.

Did the registered nurse not notice?

The chair of the Australian Medical Association’s Council of General Practice, Dr Brian Morton, has advised patients to always follow evidence-based treatment.

“It’s very important to continue medical treatment that’s been prescribed and speak to the doctor who’s prescribed that before you make a decision,” he said.

“I think it’s very important that alternative health practitioners know when they’ve made an error.

“Alternative therapy doesn’t have much place in the treatment of dermatological conditions like eczema.”

But that’s looking at it non-holistically, treating the skin – the “derma” in “dermatological” – as a separate entity instead of treating the Whole Body holistically.

Seriously though…it would be nice if people would stop doing things like this.


  1. says

    “I think it’s very important that alternative health practitioners know when they’ve made an error.”

    Usually, that was when they became alternatice health practitioners.

  2. soren says

    When our daughter was an infant she has a lot of issues.
    My wife insisted on trying a chiropractor, when the chiropractor saw my daughter had some dry skin on her ear, my wife explained, that since the infant could not keep her food down vomit would sometimes collect behind the ears, leading to eczema, which was cleared up in days by steroid cream from the doctor.
    The chiropractor was aghast, and insisted it was poison, and she knew a homeopath, who could fix it naturally.

    After that we happily agreed never to let a chiropractor near our offspring again

  3. luzclara says

    WTF? The baby was near death? From eczema? How the hell does that happen? (yes I think I will read the whole article. particularly the part about the attempted murderers).

  4. quixote says

    It doesn’t have to be a naturopath. Any bullheaded doctor will do. I knew an older mother (c. 40) who was determined to breastfeed her firstborn. Her pediatrician was all on board with that. And she was going to breastfeed to 18 months or something. No matter what.

    Well, she was older, she didn’t produce a lot of milk. Her mother-in-law, who’d fostered around 70 babies could tell what was wrong within months. The mother was going to breastfeed anyway. The pediatrician was convinced all you had to do was keep at it. By five months or so, the kid was *losing* weight.

    This went on till about nine months or so until a social worker in the family interfered by engineering a situation where the mother saw another pediatrician once. That one threatened to put the baby in care unless she started supplemental feeding.

    The early starvation affected the kid’s brain development, knocked about 50 points off the IQ, and made the child incapable of appetite regulation. At 15, the kid weighed 300 lbs.

    The pediatrician never admitted she’d made a mistake. Neither did the mother. Being in denial is not exclusive to naturopaths. You have to reality check all doctors.

  5. iknklast says

    quixote – that is too, too common (though not necessarily always pediatricians). When I had my son, he had a lot of trouble breastfeeding for no known physical reason. I didn’t seem to make a lot of milk, for no known physical reason. I wanted to breastfeed my son, and my Lamaz class said it was the only way to go, but I have always believed that when something is working badly, you should consider that you are doing it wrong. I quit breastfeeding him at three months and put him on a bottle. He began to gain weight and became a very healthy baby. Almost every woman I know (and some men) did everything they could to guilt me into putting him on breastfeeding again. I ignored them, and did what I felt was right, but there was always a nagging feeling in the back of my head that they were right, and I was a bad mother. My pediatrician was on my side. He could see that the baby was losing weight when he should be gaining; we had started a supplemental bottle some time before. My OB/GYN was on my side; he encouraged me to do what appeared to be best for my son. But a whole host of people who knew better, who were not there when my frustrated and hungry son would cry because he couldn’t get enough food, and didn’t see his alarming weight drop. To those that were aware he had a weight drop, they couched it as a personal failure on my part. If I had done things differently, if I had….the list of things I “should” have done was endless, and the guilt was endless. I was 22 at the time, and it was much easier to make me feel guilty than it is now.

    As for my son, he grew to be a healthy adult, and other than some earaches as a child (blamed by most others on my not breastfeeding, which my pediatrician pooh-poohed), he has hardly ever been sick a day in his life. Obviously I did not totally destroy his immune system, I did not cause him total immune shut down, and as for bonding, we are at least as close as the other mothers I know who did manage to breastfeed longer. As for his immune system, I got him all his vaccinations and he did very well with that. No problems except for a mild case of chicken pox when he was 3.

  6. karmacat says

    I tried breast feeding my son for about 6 weeks but he just wasn’t interested. Fortunately nobody tried to give me a guilt trip.

  7. karmacat says

    The other problem with eczema is that it can be very itchy. I don’t understand why the mother would want to put her child through that

  8. Dan says

    My wife struggled mightily with our first son’s breastfeeding. She went to a special university associated clinic on breastfeeding medicine run by MDs who had also certified as lactation consultants. The first thing the doctor said was, “the important thing is that the baby gets fed. It is OK to quit and go to formula.” The permission to “fail” was very reassuring and helpful in working with the doctor to make it to 11 months of near-exclusive breastfeeding.

  9. quixote says

    I had no idea that breastfeeding thing was a common problem. 😯 I assumed there couldn’t be more than two or three mothers crazy enough to starve their babies for a theory. I’m not as smart as I think I am!

    Somehow, I’m not surprised that everyone commenting here told people to stick it in their ears and did what they knew to be right.

    And, yes, absolutely, “naturopaths” pushing Black Salve – Lorenzo’s Oil – rhino horn need to be convicted of grievous bodily harm and jailed.

  10. iknklast says

    Somehow, I’m not surprised that everyone commenting here told people to stick it in their ears and did what they knew to be right.

    I will say that I was fortunate to have the support of my mother. She breastfed five children, but exhaustion and ill health persuaded her to bottle feed the last (bottle feeding wasn’t as common when she had her kids in the 1950s and 1960s). There was no difference in the health of my youngest sister. She had fewer diseases than the rest of us (mostly because she was 10 years younger and had more vaccinations). My mother was totally capable of critical thinking (when it was something she didn’t already have a commmittment to – for instance, Jesus. No critical thinking there). She was able to wave away silly New Age nonsense that wasn’t evidence based, and support me in my decision.

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