WebMD Removes Turpentine Listing After Autistic Children Endangered

By M. Beresford for Embracing Atypical

Mid January, while investigating the use of MMS industrial grade bleach on autistic children, I became aware of turpentine paint thinners being pitched as a means to “cure” autism. I was astounded that parents would intentionally force their children to ingest chemicals designed to peel and remove paint and launched an undercover investigation into these groups and individuals that would have meaningful results.

I was given a lead by a fellow autistic and  created a fake user profile on the social media platform “MeWe.” I began to establish relationships with individuals within groups created to push MMS bleach cures on Autistic children. My fake user profile included a bio about being a father to a “child with severe autism,” and that I wanted to “recover him from the grip of autism.”

After a few days, I was approached by a member of the Genesis II Church, a cult organization founded for the express purpose of selling and sharing their MMS industrial bleach “cure-all.” This individual spoke with me at length about how to “cure autism,” but they were very cautious about discussing things for fear of exposure, in part due to the work of Autistic advocate Emma Dalmayne. They were, however, more than happy to discuss the forced ingestion of turpentine on autistic children and I was given an invitation join their closed Facebook groups. What I found in these groups was nauseating. I saw parent after parent offer testimonials of dosing their child with turpentine paint thinners, knowing that these autistic children were suffering abuse from the people they trusted the most.

Searching through the history of one particular group led me to discover these parents were using popular internet sites to justify and validate these horrific practices. Chief among these websites was WebMD.com’s listing of Turpentine Oil as a “vitamin and supplement,” complete with dosing recommendations, uses, and testimonials. I was dumbfounded; a legitimate and popular medical resource listed paint thinner as a supplement.

 

 

IMG_5717
The former listing of Turpentine Supplement, WebMD.com

 

 

I felt that something needed to be done about the listing and collected relevant screenshot evidence of parents engaging in child abuse and made a phone call to WebMD’s Director of Communications. We spoke and she appeared to share my shock and concern, both understanding the danger and liability exposure that the turpentine listing posed to the autistic community and the WebMD company. She requested a letter summarizing the conversation and on 28 January 2019, the following letter was sent to her office:

________

Hello Ms. Garrison, 

 

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me.  As we discussed, the use of turpentine as a medicinal supplement is dangerous and potentially fatal. While ethical practices and content moderation may not be a preferred discussion, I am grateful to hear that WebMD is taking the subject seriously.

 

I am a member of The Autistic Cooperative (TAC); a worldwide group of professional Autistic advocates representing over 75 member organizations. We have been featured on every form of media as we work to advocate for the safety, dignity, and success of autistic individuals. Periodically as concerns are brought to our attention, members of TAC investigate and publicly expose activities that jeopardize the welfare of Autistic children. A recent inquiry revealed the use of turpentine (yes, paint thinners) being pitched and promoted as a “cure-all” for childhood ailments and as a health supplement. Discussions regarding attempts to “treat” the so-called symptoms of autism with turpentine are frequently had.
As we discussed on the phone, WebMD has been brought into this discussion for a few reasons. WebMD lists turpentine as a supplement and hosts a full multi-page entry about uses and potential dosing of this paint thinning chemical. On behalf of The Autistic Cooperative, I request that this entry be removed. The use of turpentine in any fashion (including but not limited to inhalation, ingestion and topical application) on a child or adult can and will result in severe illness, spasm of the airways, suffocation, bodily harm, and even death. Interestingly, your site lists the dangers of use, all the while listing the chemical as “possibly safe” for various applications. As you will see below in the screenshots, people are using your site as validation of the potential safety of paint thinners for ailment remedy. This puts WebMD in a particularly dangerous and position of serious financial and legal liability should someone be harmed, including an Autistic person, because a trusted caretaker used a dangerous chemical and felt validated to do so because of the wording and description of paint thinner as a supplement on your website.

 

Below you will find screenshots of individuals boasting about using turpentine on their infants, children and Autistic people. Additionally, you will see screenshots of individuals using WebMD as a form of validating their dangerous practice. As you review the testimonials on your turpentine listing from your page directly you will note people are boasting about using turpentine on children, on your hosted platform. Keep in mind, this is just a very small sampling of the evidence that has been collected regarding this practice. There are several secret social media groups with several thousand people in them. 

 

I believe that when a company, such as WebMD is given an influential platform, they have an ethical obligation to protect the public interest and the interest of the disabled community within reason. I believe changing or removing turpentine as a supplement is a reasonable and ethical step toward fulfilling that obligation and reflects on WebMD’s motto and desire to be “America’s most trusted and reliable source of medical information.” While the use of turpentine may not have been considered dangerous in the past, current science and medical interventions demonstrate clear dangers. 

 

Thank you for taking the time to review my request. Once this investigation is finished and made public I look forward to praising WebMD as a platform that cares for and listens to the concerns of Autistic individuals and their advocates. 

 

Sincerely,

Dr. Madison Beresford,
Embracing Atypical

The Autistic Cooperative

________

This emailed letter included the following attachments providing evidence of harm to both autistic and neurotypical children, and their website being recommended by group membership:

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE FOLLOWING SCREENSHOT MESSAGES ARE DISTURBING:

 

Shot10shot2Shot12shot3Shot4Shot5Shot7Shot8Shot9Screen7Shot14

 

The Communications Director was eager to pass my letter along to the medical team in Atlanta, where their Chief Medical Director responded the next day with the following email:

________

Dear Dr. Beresford,

 

Thank you for your email regarding WebMD’s content on turpentine oil.

 

I would like to point out that the information with respect to turpentine oil on our site calls out turpentine oil as UNSAFE when taken by mouth or used over a large area of skin and calls out a list of possible adverse reactions, including brain damage, coma, and death. The information on our site also labels use of turpentine oil in children as UNSAFE when taken by mouth. The content also recommends avoiding all use of any turpentine oil by any means in children.

 

That said, it is troubling that some would incorrectly use the content to support their use of turpentine oil in a way that is specifically identified on our site as unsafe with the risk of death. Given that, we have taken the content under review.

 

Again, thank you for bringing this to my attention.

 

Sincerely,

Michael W. Smith, MD, MBA, CPT

Chief Medical Director

WebMD

________

I found it interesting that his response seemed to be more concerned with pointing out that in his opinion, the site adequately communicated the unsafe nature of using turpentine, over the safety of children. This was all a bit ironic, considering the website listed turpentine as a medicinal supplement. I responded with the following email:

________

 

Dr. Smith,

 

Thank you for taking the time to review my concern. If WebMD would be willing to make a press release about the dangers of using the chemicals, along with some language adjustments on the turpentine page I think we can find common ground.

 

Thank you,

Dr. Beresford

________

My email was ignored, my follow up phone calls left unreturned. Several weeks later I  checked the listing and noticed that WebMD had silently taken down the turpentine oil supplement listing, replacing it with a simple band-aid “page not found” 404 error message. I’d never been so happy to see a giant picture of a band-aid.

 

IMG_6660
The 404 error message found on the turpentine listing

 

 

I do want to give WebMD credit for taking the listing down, I know making any changes within a large corporation can take considerable effort and is not by any means easy. But I do also believe in corporate responsibility, especially with organizations that intentionally provide medical advice. I rest easy knowing that The Autistic Cooperative member organizations will continue to hold companies accountable to protect autistic children.

With that in mind, I thank WebMD for honoring autistic advocacy and look forward to working with them in the future as needed. A big thank you to The Autistic Cooperative for providing the structural support for Autistic Advocates, worldwide.

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7 thoughts on “WebMD Removes Turpentine Listing After Autistic Children Endangered

  1. FireBrightStarSoul February 23, 2019 — 9:13 am

    Reblogged this on Fire Bright Star Soul.

    Like

  2. Thank you for protecting these precious ones, especially when they can’t advocate for themselves. I’m really proud of you and all the hard work and research you put in to this. So worth it!!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. With the Greatest sympathy for all those affected with Autism and respect for those who have elected Guardianship for such disadvantaged people.
    Respectfully I comment.
    While there is no yet known prevention nor cure, it is legitimate to continue to seek knowledge of: Causes? Prevention? Cures? in every well intended effort n activities to do so. Problem solution/s!
    If we don’t! Then we are part of the problem/s.
    Re. Turpentine and your critique, commentary, demands, veiled threats and not so well founded fear mongering mongering (No proven disaster cases in evidence!?) and false ‘ description’ of ‘The Turpentine’ suggested for use as a potential curative for a variety of human ailments. You deliberately name it as ,A Chemical! Paint thinner! When you must know the Turpentine for human consumption n topical use IS 100% Pure Gum Turpentine .. from Pine Trees! This Turpentine is NOT chemically manufactured. You deliberately ‘suggest’ that there are NO warnings of potential ‘adverse effects’ that ‘may’ result in dangerous negative outcomes (again no proven case histories proffered!?) when all advocates of Alternative Products Procedures etc ALWAYS have warnings n indemnifying legal advices on promotional sites n materials!? You suggest the is NO advice / suggestions / recommendations on dosage and associated mediums (water! Not Alkaline water!? castor oil! White sugar! .. and that is not true of the ‘Legitimate’ professional ‘Alternatives’ promotional material n net websites etc. You also do not make any proper reference to the suspected causes for Autism n other ‘sickness / health’ challenges!? Which in this case (pure gum turpentine use) is ‘ Broad spectrum voracious human eating body destroying PARASITES’!! Many species of Parasites invade the life forms n use them as their lifetime food chain hosts. DO YOUR PARASITE RESEARCH! And be amazed and very frightened! Many authoritive health n wellbeing sources advise a great number of our sicknesses ARE caused by parasitic infestation!
    I suggest you /we / all sick people best to work together to research n understand every possible cure for bad threatening health to honestly represent n support those we elect to care for! Don’t just decry any of them unless you have real hard evidence of life threatening Adverse Effects n cases of disablement or death FROM (in this case) 100% Pure Gum Turpentine.
    BTW. FACT: Thousands of humans DIE from Pharmscauticle ADF’s every year? NOT reported? Have ‘you’ advocated against any of those!
    I’ve been using 5-10 drops of 100% pure gum turpentine x 3-4 pw x 15 months and I’m 80 in Septrmber still healthy n NDY! Not Dead Yet!
    For absolute credibility please honestly represent your cause with true facts n legitimate objectives!
    You can do better than this last outright negative attack on products n people trying to help your Autistic sufferers. Luke Manicaros. Australia.
    NOT an agent for any alternatives but do believe they do play a part in our health n survival.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. uh, stop playing nazi experiments on autistics. stay out of autistic healthcare with your evil.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Fecking nutcase.
      I have a University degree including parasitology and everything you have said is complete bollocks.

      Liked by 1 person

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