The death of a 17 year old diabetic patient from Tirupur, who was advised to cut off insulin by his acutouch 'therapist', has exposed the large industry of quacks that lure gullible patients and their families.
Complaining of the drudgery of injections twice a day, the boy was recommended an acutouch healer who runs a clinic in Ramnagar in Coimbatore. The boy who had Type 1 diabetes, had been receiving injections 4 times a day earlier. But in the five years that he was administered insulin, dosage had been gradually reduced as common practice. In a matter of two days of weaning off of the injections, he fell unconscious and was rushed to the hospital. He was declared dead on arrival.
Balamurugan told The News Minute that his methods were foolproof and that this was a freak incident. “I do not endorse the gradual withdrawal of insulin injections. I think they must be stopped altogether. Acu touch is proven to work. So many patients who are in the same age bracket are doing absolutely fine after withdrawal,” he says. But there is, and he agrees, zero empirical proof for his claims.
If you thought Balamurugan was a mere small time quack, here’s an institute that trains and backs acu-touch healers. The Indian Accutouch Institute provides “drugless touch therapy” to patients of all ailments. Magi Ramalingam, the founder of this institute, believes artificially administered insulin to be “hazardous”. “The problem is, it damages your internal organs, especially your pancreas. We believe that a diabetic can be healed without artificial insulin. It is poison,” he says.
Ramalingam claims he sees hundreds of patients across Coimbatore, Mettupalayam, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad and have weaned off many from insulin.
Madhuri Balaji, a diabetologist with Dr.Balaji Diabetes Care Centre considers this a pitiable state of affairs in the medical fraternity. “It is one of the few life saving medicines that has been developed and perfected over the years. We have come a long way from the one that’s produced from cow pancreas. There are newer plant based insulins that mimic the body’s natural insulin,” she said.
As for the claims that it is likely to damage internal organs, she rubbishes it and feels the harm is far more on withdrawal.
Acu-touch healers barely know the difference between a Type 1 and Type 2 diabetic patient. “The teenagers they referred as saved however are likely to be Type 2 patients. Type 2 patients can survive without injections, but their blood sugar levels will rise," Balaji explained. For a Type 1 diabetic however, which the deceased teen was, the withdrawal of insulin is nothing short of lethal.
The other concern is of younger patients doing away with injections completely. “For long time patients, the urge to rebel and stop administering injections shows up at their teens, and this is a very crucial time for both them and their families. Doctors should help them through this process," says Balaji.
A lack of a strong regulatory body to weed out quacks, is however, helping bait the gullible many.