Critics slam claims a girl, 13, came of out a coma due to homeopathy

Critics slam ‘ludicrous’ claim drops of a homeopathic remedy let a 13-year-old girl come out of a COMA caused by same rare condition behind critically-ill Tafida Raqeeb

  • Homeopath Alena Pilyugina says she gave unnamed girl Arnica in 30ml of water
  • Girl ‘opened her eyes within hours and could breathe by herself four days later’
  • Critic argues clinical trials show homeopathy is nothing more than a placebo 

Scientists have slammed a ‘ludicrous’ report that claimed homeopathy helped a 13-year-old girl come out of a coma. 

The unnamed teenager allegedly opened her eyes within hours of being given nasal drops containing up to 10 globules of Arnica – an alpine plant – in 30ml of water. It is also claimed that she could breathe by herself four days later.

But critics have questioned the truth of the Russian tale, saying such claims peddled by homeopaths are always ‘utterly implausible’.

The girl is said to have entered a coma in the same way as the critically-ill British girl Tafida Raqeeb, who remains on life support.

Tafida had an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) – a tangle of abnormal blood vessels – in her brain which ruptured and caused a stroke. 

Alena Pilyugina, the homeopath who treated the Russian girl, claimed her recovery shows homeopathy’s potential even in patients ‘on the borders of death’. 

The girl is said to have entered a coma in the same way as the critically-ill British girl Tafida Raqeeb (pictured), who remains on life support

Tafida Raqeeb´s parents will not be challenged by Royal London Hospital – where Tafida is currently being treated – for trying to move their daughter to Italy

Professor Edzard Ernst, a vocal homeopathy critic based at the University of Exeter, slammed the report published on Pilyugina’s website.

He told MailOnline: ‘Quasi-miraculous “cures” by homeopathy are being published with some regularity. 

‘They have in common that they never appear in rigorously peer-reviewed journals, lack important detail and are utterly implausible.’

Professor Ernst added: ‘Homeopathic Arnica is given in such high dilutions that there cannot be a pharmacological effect. 

‘The fact is, despite 200 years of research and about 500 clinical trials, homeopathy has failed to show it works beyond the placebo effect.’ 


Homeopathy was first coined in 1807 by German doctor Samuel Hahnemann, and focuses on three principles: like cures like, dilution, and ‘water remembers.’

Dr Hahnemann believed that medicine in his time was doing more harm than good, so he began to conduct experiments on volunteers and himself.

One such experiment included eating the bark of a cinchona tree, which was then used as a treatment for malaria. Scientists have since found that this bark contains quinine, an antimalarial drug.

After eating some of the bark, Hahnemann experienced symptoms which he likened to those of malaria, spawning the first principle ‘like cures like.’

The doctor thought that if a substance in large doses causes certain symptoms, it can be used in small doses to cure them.

According to the British Homeopathy Association, the remedies are used by over 200 million people worldwide to treat both acute and chronic conditions. 

Fellow expert Dr Kevin Smith, from Abertay University in Dundee, simply described the report as ‘ludicrous at so many levels’.  

Homeopathy is a branch of medicine that treats ailments using extremely diluted doses of natural substances. 

It is known as a complementary or alternative approach because it is different from traditional Western medicine. 

Pilyugina, who works at the Krasnoyarsk Homeopathic Centre, published the tale on the website Homeopathy for Everyone.

Writing about the cure, she said: ‘It’s hard to imagine how the girl’s life would be, if she hadn’t taken Arnica.

‘The girl’s case once again shows us the scale of opportunities and uniqueness of the homeopathic approach even in difficult straits on the borders of death.’ 

Pilyugina alleges that she met with both the girl’s mother and sister on June 11, 2016. Neither of the teenager’s family members were named. 

The relatives reportedly explained she developed a severe headache and became faint on the evening of February 29.

Two days later, she was vomiting uncontrollably, had weak limbs, dilated pupils and was confused. Doctors were reportedly baffled as to what was wrong.  

The girl was eventually diagnosed with an AVM in the front part of her brain, which ruptured and triggered a life-threatening bleed – a stroke. 

She supposedly recovered from her subarachnoid haemorrhage after six weeks. It is unclear where she was treated or what she was given.

Doctors then referred her to The Moscow Institute of Neurosurgery in May, where medics recommended she undergo six months of radiotherapy. 

A homeopath has claimed a 13-year-old girl came out of a coma thanks to homeopathy. The unnamed teenager reportedly opened her eyes within hours of having Arnica (stock) dissolved in water as nasal drops. Critics have slammed the claims as ‘ludicrous’ and ‘implausible’

It is unclear why she was sent for further treatment – but a week later, on June 2, she developed a severe headache, nausea and started vomiting bile. 

Paramedics were called, with the girl reportedly entering a coma on the way to the Berzon City Hospital in Krasnoyarsk. 

A CT scan reportedly showed another bleed, which was deemed to be five out of a possible six by doctors. Grade six is considered inoperable. 

The girl’s mother claims treatment wasn’t working, prompting her to seek alternative options. Desperate, the girl’s family reportedly decided to try homeopathy. 

How a rare tangle of blood vessels in Tafida’s brain left the five-year-old on life support 

Tafida Raqeeb collapsed shortly after waking up her parents during the early hours of one February morning, telling them she had a headache.

Doctors later found the five-year-old had a brain AVM, a rare tangle of blood vessels with abnormal connections between the arteries and veins. Headaches are a common symptom.

Medics believe these vessels ruptured, although they have yet to determine why. When this happens, it causes bleeding in the brain – a stroke.

An AVM (arteriovenous malformation) in the brain may not cause any signs or symptoms until the blood vessels rupture, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The rare condition strikes around one in 100 people – and is more common in men.

The risk of an AVM bursting rises by around two per cent each year.

Tafida Raqeeb has been left severely brain damaged, and is hooked up to a life-support machine at London’s Royal London Hospital.

Figures suggest up to 30 per cent of patients whose brain AVM ruptures will suffer permanent brain damage, says the American Stroke Association.

It writes on its website: ‘Each time blood leaks into the brain, tissue is damaged. This results in loss of normal function, which may be… permanent.’

Pilyugina claims she first visited the patient on June 13. The girl was described as being ‘critically ill’ with a ‘dismal’ prognosis.

The homeopath claims the teenager depended on a machine to breathe and was being fed via a tube.

Based on the girl’s symptoms, Pilyugina selected her ‘treatment’ via a homeopathy software programme called Vithoulkas Compass.

She opted for Arnica, which she claimed is ‘the main medicine used for internal haemorrhage with constriction injury of surrounding tissues’. 

Arnica is also reportedly ‘prescribed for patients in [a] coma that stay unconscious and mostly make no involuntary movements’.

Pilyugina administered the first dose via one-to-two nasal drops every four hours on June 18.

‘By the end of the first day the girl started to open her eyes when her name was called out,’ she said. 

By day two the patient reportedly smiled when she saw her mother. On day four she could apparently breathe on her own.

And on day five she was moved from a resuscitation ward to a ‘regular one’, Pilyugina claimed. 

Three weeks after treatment, doctors reportedly removed the girl’s tracheostomy – a tube that opens the windpipe to help a patient breathe easier.

With her AVM reduced, she was then put on a waiting list for radiotherapy and an embolisation, with reduces blood flow to the tangle of blood vessels. 

The patient continued taking one-to-two drops of Arnica, this time orally, every four hours, aside from when she was asleep.

Pilyugina claims this helped her ’emotions and desires appear’, and enabled her to eat, speak and control her movement.

The girl was eventually strong enough to be transferred to a hospital in Novosibirsk and went under the knife on September 19. AVM is usually surgically removed.

The following March and April, she started radiotherapy. All the while, the Arnica ‘treatment’ continued until November 2016.

The patient is now reportedly combining homeopathy with rehabilitation therapy in the hope of getting back to her old self.  


Prince Charles was in June accused of promoting disproven and dangerous medical treatments in his new position as patron of the Faculty of Homeopathy.

The Prince of Wales is a long-time supporter of homeopathy and has used his royal position to try to get it widely accepted.

This is despite some homeopaths operating in the UK claiming to cure autism and offering alternatives to traditional vaccinations.

Homeopathy is a branch of medicine that treats ailments using extremely diluted doses of natural substances. It is known as a complementary or alternative approach because it is different from traditional Western medicine.

The style of treatment originates from ideas developed in the 1790s, which claim that the more a substance is diluted, the more powerful it is as a treatment.

Supporters claim, for example, that traditional inhalers used to treat asthma can be replaced with diluted plant extracts. The Faculty of Homeopathy is the professional body for homeopaths.

The prince has faced a backlash for associating with these practitioners and peddling alternative treatments. He has had treatment himself from herbalists and chiropractors for ailments including severe back pain.

He also founded the Foundation for Integrated Health in 1993 but the charity closed in 2010 after a criminal investigation into allegations of fraud and money laundering.

The Prince of Wales is also Patron to traditional medical establishments. Pictured: In his role as Patron during a visit to City Hospice in Whitchurch, Cardiff

NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens previously described homeopathy as ‘at best a placebo and a misuse of scarce NHS funds’. 

A 2010 House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report said these alternative remedies perform no better than sugar pills.

The review also called the principles on which homeopathy is based ‘scientifically implausible’ and ‘theoretically weak’. This is the ‘settled view of medical science’, it added.

NHS England recommended GPs stop prescribing the alternative ‘treatment’ after a report showed ‘no clear or robust evidence’ to support its use.

Many homeopathic remedies are diluted to the point where none of the original substance remains, making the ‘treatment’ nothing but water, the NHS states.

Supporters argue the substance leaves an ‘imprint’, however, ‘there is no known mechanism by which this can occur’.

The NHS warns homeopathic remedies could ease conditions like depression and hay fever due to a placebo effect. This may then cause patients to miss out on drugs that are proven to be effective, it adds.

Despite the lack of evidence, Prince Charles has been a staunch supporter of the alternative treatment for decades.

He previously revealed he uses the concoctions on sheep and cows on his organic farms to help reduce the use of antibiotics.

There is no regulation for homeopathy and, as there are no formal qualifications or training, anyone is able to become a practitioner.

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