In recent days, CEASE therapy has been in the headlines. CEASE is the controversial and unproven theory that autism is caused by the accumulation of toxins in a child’s body as a result of vaccination and can be treated by the elimination of these toxins with homeopathic remedies.
CEASE therapy has been in the news because of the decision of the Professional Standards Authority to accredit the Society of Homeopaths. Some members of the SoH continue to advocate for the use of CEASE therapy. As a result, the Good Thinking Society (GTS), a UK charity promoting critical thinking, is taking the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) to court.
Michael Marshall, project director of the GTS, explained: “Being part of the PSA’s accredited voluntary register scheme is clearly a boon to the Society of Homeopaths and its members… Accreditation by the PSA is used as a signifier that those homeopaths are competent, trustworthy and safe, but that accreditation can only carry any meaning if the PSA takes seriously their duty to protect the public from harmful practices. The PSA have acknowledged that members of the Society of Homeopaths are offering a treatment that is harmful and that is targeted at a particularly vulnerable group. Given those concerns, for the PSA to go ahead and accredit these homeopaths all the same not only makes a mockery of their whole accreditation scheme, but it is arguably in breach of its legal duties.”
So, what is CEASE, and why is it considered to be offensive?
CEASE was developed by Dr Tinus Smits (1946-2010) in the Netherlands. The abbreviation stands for Complete Elimination of Autistic Spectrum Expression. Smits had practised as a non-medically trained homeopath for many years before he studied medicine. He then developed his own ideas about autism and wrote several books about his theory. Smits never published a single scientific paper in the peer-reviewed literature, but his intuition told him that autism is due to an accumulation of different toxins in a child’s body. About 70 per cent of the condition is allegedly caused by vaccines, 25 per cent by toxic medication and other toxic substances, and 5 per cent by other factors.
As a homeopath, Smits believed that ‘like cures like’, a substance that causes symptoms in a healthy person can be used to cure these symptoms when they occur in a patient. Smits thus claimed that autism must be cured by ingesting homeopathic doses of the substances which allegedly caused the condition. Step by step all assumed causative factors including vaccines, conventional medication, environmental toxins, etc. are ‘detoxified’ with homeopathically prepared remedies made from all the substances that were administered prior to the onset of autism. To this already bizarre mix, CEASE therapists add mega-doses of vitamin C and other supplements. For good measure, they also prescribe diverse dietary restrictions. Smits’ followers believe that this regimen clears out the energetic field of the patient from the imprint of toxic substances or diseases.
There are numerous and obvious problems with CEASE therapy. The concept flies in the face of science. Autism is not caused by vaccines or any of the other substances Smits suspected. The notion that one can ‘detox’ the body in the suggested fashion is not in line with our current knowledge of physiology. And there is no evidence that the CEASE therapy might cure autism or any other condition.
Worst of all, CEASE therapy is far from benign. The treatment is not cheap, and parents who bring their kids to a CEASE practitioner will obviously lose money. More importantly, the high-dose supplements and dietary restrictions can cause serious harm, and the child might not receive effective treatment and care. Most importantly, CEASE practitioners advise against immunisations. At a time when we are faced with measles outbreaks and are even considering compulsory vaccinations, this truly is the last thing we need.
Prof Ernst has researched SCAM for more than 25 years. His latest book is entitled ‘Alternative Medicine, a critical assessment of 150 modalities’ (Springer 2019).