YouTube allegedly profiting from quack health solution videos

YouTube

YouTube is profiting from quack health cure videos which promote pills containing the discharge of men infected with gonorrhoea.

A MailOnline investigation found dozens of videos glorifying the use of medorrhinum, even on children. The videos, largely from channels based in India, have clocked up more than half a million views.  

YouTube ran adverts for various companies — including the food delivery service Hello Fresh, erectile dysfunction support app Mojo and funeral plan provider Age Insider — during the videos.

YouTube earns its money from advertisers based on the number of views the advert gets. The online giant places adverts on videos that have been monetised by the uploader. 

A YouTube spokesperson said it prohibits content that encourages ‘dangerous or unlawful activities’, including videos promoting the sale of illegal substances. 

‘Medorrhinum is not a known illegal or regulated good and therefore not in violation of our policies,’ the company said. 

In one video, filmed by a Mumbai-based ‘doctor’, advocated giving medorrhinum to children who have symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

The homeopathic remedy, which advocates say treats asthma, diabetes and epilepsy, is made of the urethral discharge of a man with the sexually transmitted infection (STI) gonorrhea.  

There is not thought to be any actual bacteria inside the pills because of the heavy dilution process, with supporters claiming only the ‘energy’ remains.    

The video, which has more than 30,000 views, states: ‘Children who are rude and aggressive, throw temper tantrums, who fight with other children, especially during the day and who can kick and strike their parents or relatives can be [given] medorrhinum. 

‘At night these children become very playful and affectionate. Such behaviour can be expressed by the phrase “cross by day, merry by night”.’ 

It also advocated the treatment for insomniacs and gonorrhoea patients themselves. 

The video, shot by homeopathic consultant Dr Jawahar Shah, was posted to the channel Enlightenment Education, which has 14,500 subscribers and also has videos advocating magnesium as a ‘cure’ for autism. 

Experts told MailOnline homeopathic remedies ‘offer no help’ and those given them as a treatment instead of real medication could be putting their life at risk.

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Homeopathy is an alternative ‘treatment’ based on using heavily diluted samples of substances — often flowers that dates back to the early 1800s. 

It is based on the principle of ‘like cures like’, the belief that materials known to cause certain symptoms can also cure them.

Advocates of the practice say it can treat a plethora of conditions, including arthritis, which is treated with toxic plant Bryonia that works as a laxative, headaches, using Pyrogenium — a solution made from decomposed beef — and ADHD using a solution made from the saliva of dogs with rabies.

The practice is particularly popular in India. 

In another video from a different YouTube account, Dr Saptarshi Banerjea with 50,600 subscribers and more than 50 videos on homeopathy, said medorrhinum can treat children who seem both ‘cruel and compassionate’ or an ‘introvert but sociable’.

In the video, which has more than 150,000 views, he said it is a ‘fantastic treatment’ for people suffering from bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia, because they display ‘extreme types of behaviour’. YouTube has previously come under fire for hosting health videos with harmful health content — most recently after a study found a quarter of its most-viewed Covid videos in English contained misleading information.

It also previously monetised videos promoting fakes cancer cures by running adverts for major brands before they played.  

And its parent company Google previously removed adverts that promoted homeopathic pills in favour of children’s MMR vaccines. 

YouTube’s guidelines state certain ‘misleading or deceptive content with serious risk of egregious harm are not allowed on YouTube’, including promoting harmful remedies or treatments. 

YouTube’s main source of money is advertising, with companies paying YouTube to show their adverts before and during videos on its platform.  

Former NHS England boss Simon Stevens previously accused homeopaths of spreading toxic ‘misinformation’ about vaccines and posing ‘a significant danger to human health’. 

Michael Marshall, project director at the Good Thinking Society, a charity that promotes science and challenges pseudoscience, told MailOnline: ‘Homeopathic remedies are almost without exception so diluted they contain no active ingredient at all, but that does not mean they are harmless — as this investigation shows.’

Homeopathic pills ‘can offer no help when it comes to conditions like ADHD, bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia’ and children given homeopathy ‘in lieu of real medication could suffer a potentially life-threatening asthma attack’, he warned.

Mr Marshall said: ‘When faced with an uncertain or concerning medical diagnosis for themselves or their children, people turn in desperation to the internet for answers, and what this investigation demonstrates is that too often those answers are nothing but false claims and quack remedies.’ 

‘When those homeopathic preparations turn out to be of no use, it’s easy to imagine how desperate and frustrated parents might feel. 

‘At best, this medical misinformation only serves to waste time that could be better spent seeking real and effective treatments.

‘At worst, it can actively put sick and vulnerable people in harms way.’

If offering pills containing ‘no active ingredient does not constitute a violation of YouTube’s policies on misinformation, then what is the point of those policies?’, he questioned.

Homeopathy is no longer funded on the NHS because there is no evidence it is effective. 

Critics say the remedies are so heavily diluted with water that they are placebo in all but name. Practitioners say the more diluted a substance is, the more effective it is.