The website promises that audio recordings can cure dozens of ailments — among them diarrhea, anxiety, labor pains, malaria, even a pet’s infection.
Dr. William Edwin Gray III, a homeopathic doctor who practices in the Bay Area, sells these so-called eRemedies for $5 on his website. Each recording is 13 seconds long and consists of what Gray described as “a hissing sound.”
“Thirty-six out of 37 people were cured of their malaria symptoms within three to four hours with just a few doses,” Gray, 75, said in an interview. “It works really well in practice, and I’m still trying to develop investors and so on to promote it so it can be marketed and more widely used.”
Not if the California medical board has its way. Earlier this month, the board filed a five-page accusation against Gray alleging “gross negligence,” and threatened to take away his medical license for selling the recordings.
“There is no well-documented evidence in the peer reviewed scientific literature that homeopathic remedies can be transmitted electronically via sound waves,” the accusation says.
Other homeopathic practitioners put it more bluntly.
“It is clear to me that what he is doing has nothing to do with homeopathy,” Robert Stewart, who founded the New York School of Homeopathy in 1990, said in an email. “He’s on his own in this.”
The medical board also found fault with Gray for not performing an exam or taking down patients’ medical history before offering these products, and for not registering them with the Food and Drug Administration.
Gray said he became interested in homeopathy when he concluded, soon after graduating from Stanford medical school, that modern medicine mostly treated the side effects of medications instead of diseases themselves.
Homeopathy is an alternative medicine system based on the idea that “like cures like.” To treat allergies, practitioners might give a patient a pill with remnants of an onion, since onions also make people’s eyes water. The practice has been around for 200 years, but most experts say it has little benefit.
“To the extent that it works, it’s probably mostly placebo effect,” said Dr. David Spiegel, medical director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine.
Gray’s website, mdinyourhand.com, allows visitors to choose the medical problem they want resolved. They answer several questions about their ailments and the website’s algorithm tells them which recording would best treat their symptoms, he said.
Gray said he created the recordings by placing vials of homeopathic liquids in an electrified wire coil and recording the noise that was emitted. The healing power of the liquid, he said, was transmitted into the sound waves he captured.
Although 263 different recordings are available, the human ear cannot distingush one from another, he said, but the different frequencies of vibration can be “picked up by the body as a whole.”
His eRemedies cured a deaf dog of its bladder infection because the dog responded to the energy emitted, though he couldn’t hear, Gray said.
“It calmed him down right away,” he said.
Gray said he has sold his treatments online to roughly 500 people in four years.
Dr. David Gorski, a professor of surgery and oncology at Wayne State University who blogs about pseudoscience, said Gray’s approach made no sense.
“There’s so much wrong there I don’t know where to start,” Gorski said. “I’ve been paying attention to this stuff for 15 years, and I always find something new and bizarre.”
The medical board’s accusation said Gray could be diverting patients from standard medical care, which is particularly dangerous for those with “serious conditions that, without proper treatment, could prove fatal.”
Gray “implies on his website that the eRemedies can be used to treat Ebola, swine flu and SARS,” the accusation says. ERemedy “sound files have not been scientifically proven to be safe and effective for the uses for which [Gray] offers them.”
Gray said he sees the medical board’s move to take away his license as part of an ongoing struggle between homeopathy and standard medicine. The FDA has traditionally not regulated homeopathic products as strictly as medical products, but it recently announced it would tighten those standards.
Medical board officials would not say who filed the original complaint against Gray that led to their investigation.
Each year the board accuses roughly 300 doctors of violations that imperil their medical license. Those accused of gross negligence most commonly receive probation, which allows physicians to continue practicing, but with certain restrictions. In the last fiscal year, 85 doctors accused of gross negligence were put on probation, while 10 permanently lost their license.
Gray said he barely uses his medical license as it is, since he doesn’t prescribe conventional medicines or order medical tests. He works full-time as a homeopathic practitioner in Los Gatos and would still be able to do that without his license, he said.
So he has decided not to contest the allegations, leaving his punishment up to the medical board to decide in the coming weeks. Fighting the board would cost too much money, he said.
“Frankly, I think we’d lose anyway,” he said.