Thanks to the internet and the rise of social media, we now live in a world where there are vast numbers of so-called ‘influencers’, people who try to tell others what to do in pretty much every area of their lives, even if they have no expertise or credentials in that field. What is surprising (to me at least) is that there are so many people willing to follow their advice.
Daniel Lemoi was one such influencer and he died on March 3, 2023 at the age of 50. He used his channel on the social media app Telegram to advocate for the use of the drug ivermectin, the deworming medicine that gained popularity as a prophylactic and treatment for Covid. While there is a version of ivermectin that has been developed to treat humans for certain specific ailments, he chose instead to use the version used by vets for large.animals like horses and cows, something that has been strongly discouraged by medical professionals. But its use took off after some people promoted it as an alternative to Covid vaccines and treatments.
For the last decade, Lemoi had taken a daily dose of veterinary ivermectin, a dewormer designed to be used on large animals like horses and cows. In 2021, as ivermectin became a popular alternative COVID-19 treatment among anti-vaxxers, he launched what became one of the largest Telegram channels dedicated to promoting the use of it, including instructions on how to administer ivermectin to children.
Lemoi began taking the version of ivermectin designed for animals on a daily basis in 2012, after he was diagnosed with Lyme disease, according to a detailed account of his medical history he gave on a podcast last November. He said then that five months after first taking the drug, he quit all other treatments and believed ivermectin had “regenerated” his heart muscle.
And according to the Missouri Poison Center, ingesting large doses of ivermectin formulated for animals has a long list of side effects, including seizures, coma, lung issues, and heart problems. Veterinary ivermectin is not a cure or effective treatment for COVID, the FDA has repeatedly warned, and is highly concentrated because it is designed for large animals like horses and cows. “Such high doses can be highly toxic in humans,” the FDA cautions.
Many of the people who had been following Lemoi’s advice have been reporting on his Telegram channel the numerous kinds of side effects that medical experts had warned might occur if people took the version of ivermectin used by large animal veterinarians.
Lemoi explained away the negative side effects of taking veterinary ivermectin by describing them as “herxing,” a real term to describe an adverse response that occurs in people who take antibiotics as a treatment for Lyme disease.
“I’m 4 months now and all hell’s breaking loose, all pain has hit my waist down with sciatic, shin splints, restless leg syndrome, tight sore calves & it feels like some pain in the bones,” a member wrote on Friday.
“My wife has been taking ivermectin for 3 months,” a member wrote Friday. “She is being treated for autoimmune hepatitis, thyroid, and vertebrae issues. She has had some serious HERXING. Today she has a migraine, vomiting and severe stomach pain. Does anyone have any ideas how to help, and are these HERXING symptoms?”
“I am very new to this… I’ve been on Bimectin paste for 20 days,” one new member wrote on Friday morning, explaining that he too was suffering from Lyme disease. “I have severe chest pain. Costochondritis symptoms. Air hunger, internal tremors, brain fog, headaches on the back of my head, anxiety, depression, doom and gloominess.”
The problem is that these side effects do not seem to be deterring people. What is worse, Lemoi had been even recommending doses for children.
That is not all. He even advised cancer patients to eat apricot pits, even though those contain cyanide and can be dangerous in large doses.
In the days since Rhode Island-based ivermectin influencer Danny Lemoi died, his 140,000 Telegram followers have continued to promote his dangerous medical advice—including the use of apricot pits to treat cancer, despite official warnings that this “natural remedy” can be fatally poisonous.
“If you’ve been told you have cancer there’s enough proof right here to give you hope,” Lemoi wrote in February under a picture of apricot seeds. “You too could be added to the list of cured people who took back their medical freedom.” In Lemoi’s Telegram channel “Dirt Road Discussions,” Lemoi, who was a large machine operator, recommended that his followers take doses of up to 30 kernels a day.
Apricot pits contain a chemical called amygdalin, which is sometimes referred to as B17, and for years has been touted by conspiracy theorists as an alternative cure for cancer. But when ingested, the chemicals in apricot pits cause cyanide poisoning, which can cause dangerously low blood pressure, liver damage, coma, and death.
“Eating more than three small raw apricot kernels, or less than half of one large kernel, in a serving can exceed safe levels,” the European Food Safety Authority wrote in 2016. “Toddlers consuming even one small apricot kernel risk being over the safe level.”
Some members of the group report ingesting up to 40 kernels every day.
Despite the widespread consensus that consuming apricot kernels has no impact on cancer and can be dangerous, some of Lemoi’s followers remain convinced the seeds will cure them.
“Danny had told us these seeds are absolutely loaded with B17 which basically kills cancer cells,” one woman wrote this week. “My husband recently had eight weeks of radiation for prostate cancer, and I have basal cell melanoma. We were thankful to find out about these natural remedies!”
Don’t people realize that there is nothing magical about ‘natural’ products? There are plenty of deadly poisons in nature.
It is not clear what Lemoi died of. The people who now administer his Telegram channel say that his heart had become ‘engorged’ but deny that the cause was ivermectin, even though it is known that the horse version of it causes heart problems, among other serious side effects.
“Danny was fully convinced that his heart had regenerated after his incident with Lyme disease that almost ended in congestive heart failure,” the admins wrote, before claiming that “a family history of heart disease and chronic stress” were why his heart had ultimately become engorged. “All of his other organs were unremarkable,” the admins wrote. “And this was determined to be a death by unfortunate natural causes.”
According to his obituary, Lemoi worked as a heavy equipment operator. And yet he felt comfortable medicating himself, giving medical advice to people, including children, and, most incredibly, others felt comfortable taking his advice.
The aversion that some people have to advice given by scientists and medical professionals, and their willingness to try not just unproven remedies but treatments that have known serious negative side effects, simply boggles the mind.
Surprising? No. America has always had a streak of anti-intellectualism. It’s just that these days, the quacks no longer stand on street corners and shout. Instead, they have the equivalent of a huge distributed PA system. Thus, more people are brought into their sphere of BS.
The problem is not killing cancer cells -- that’s actually very easy. The problem is killing just cancer cells, or at least killing them at a sufficiently higher rate than normal cells that you kill the cancer before you kill the host.
Just curious: how do you eat an apricot pit? Cut it open with a buzz saw and scoop out the pulp? You certainly can’t chew it and swallowing it whole would do nothing.
Mano Singham says
I would imagine that hitting it with a hammer would crack it open.
So being an influencer is another way of saying an idiot?
Matt G says
The influencer who self-diagnoses and treats has a fool for an influencee….
“ There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge’.” -Isaac Asimov
Pierce R. Butler says
The apricot-pits-as-a-cure-for-cancer delusion dates back to at least the 1960s, and became an underground fad in the ’70s -- apparently taking in (and down) the actor Steve McQueen, among others, during its heyday: see Laetrile.
Mark Dowd says
It certainly baffles me, but stupid is as stupid does I guess. Or something like that.
In short, the judgment criteria is not what is being said, but the alignment of who’s saying it. Anyone parroting the establishment line is either a shill or a dupe, while anyone speaking against the establishment line is a brave martyr speaking truth to power, no matter how factually senseless the contents of what they say is.
Deepak Shetty says
You use a hammer -- We used to eat it as kids -- Dried Apricots (with pits) were usually given during Diwali in India
Apricot pits …. again !!!!🤦🏾♀️I remember this crap from the 60s . Ivermectin stupidity . Creationist/ Intelligent Design bullcrap again . Well at least I can help with that last one a little because I do occasionally teach mainstream science classes and I’ll debunk pseudoscience online in a minute . American anti intellectualism has always been a problem . My late father , who I rarely agreed with(because of his misogyny and homophobia) , was right about that one!
chigau (違う) says
How do you open an almond?
It is not clear what Lemoi died of.
Take your pick. It sounds like he was an all round nutcase. Still, nothing out of the ordinary among the quack cure, anti-vacs people. I believe breach enemas as a treatment for autism are still poplar.