A warning about Polly Heil-Mealey! Sweet’s syndrome cannot be cured with herbs or homeopathic remedies

Update 3/08/15.

P. Heil-Mealey’s response to this post:

‘This is an interesting comment. I feel sorry for you, that you are in the medical profession (you say you are a nurse) and have suffered SS for many years. If you read my blog correctly, I did not say that I cured Mr. P. I reported what I saw, and his own testimony as to how the herbs and homeopathy helped him. His doctor said that his was idiopathic, but I do agree with you, that many cases are an auto-immune disease.

The medical profession will tell you that there is no cure for this syndrome. Why not look elsewhere and see if other modalities will give hope? I certainly do agree that not all health modalities are appropriate for every person, but if you have tried allopathic treatments, and they have not worked for you, you have nothing to lose in trying homeopathy or herbal remedies. Always go to a trusted professional, as these types of illnesses are very complex and you will need professional help.

And to my nurse friend, you have a very poor understanding of homeopathy and herbal remedies. It is very mean-spirited to strike out against me and the good results that we had dealing with this syndrome. I wish you well, and hope you find help for your issues.’

A few comments taken from this response that are cause for concern:

  • Refers to ‘allopathic treatments’. This is a term that is sometimes used by alternative therapists to refer to evidence-based medicine, and distinguish it from alternative therapies. By using this term, P. Heil-Mealey is essentially admitting to the fact that her herbal and homeopathic treatments don’t work as there is no evidence to prove that they work. If they were evidence-based and did work, then they would become allopathic.
  • Mentions Mr. P’s testimony, but has absolutely no evidence to back up her claims.
  • P. Heil-Mealey is of the opinion that people have nothing to lose from trying these remedies. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. These remedies or alternative therapies can be costly, often don’t help, and can sometimes make Sweet’s syndrome or an underlying condition worse.
  • P. Heil-Mealey doesn’t want to take any responsibility for her actions, and despite the fact that she is the one giving Sweet’s syndrome patients potentially harmful advice, she seems to be insisting that I am the problem. For example, I am the problem because I have misread her blog, I have a very poor understanding of homeopathy and herbal remedies, and I need help with my issues (I have clearly stated on this blog that my own Sweet’s syndrome is now far less problematic than it once was, so I’m not entirely sure which issues she’s referring to – Michelle Holder, Sweet’s Syndrome UK).
  • P. Heil-Mealey resorts to insults in order to justify her practice. For example, because I disagree with her unsafe practice that is not supported by research, then I am ‘mean-spirited’ and striking out. This reaction is incredibly telling. Alternative therapy practitioners sometimes become insulting and abusive when questioned about the legitimacy of their treatments. This is because they feel threatened, and also to cover-up the fact that the treatment doesn’t work and that there is no evidence to back-up their claims. Genuine and effective health care practice is backed-up by research, and practitioners do not need to resort to name-calling to support it.

Posted 1/08/15.

A Texas-based naturopath, Biblical nutritional counsellor, and iridologist called Dr. Polly Heil-Mealey has been treating Sweet’s syndrome (SS) patients and offering advice, despite having a very poor understanding of this condition. Her information and advice is inaccurate and potentially harmful (posts date from Dec 2011 – Jan 2015). Also, in her disclaimer (under ‘About’ on her website), she states that she is not a ‘Medical Doctor’ and that her ‘site does not provide medical or health care advice’, despite the fact that she is clearly providing health care advice. N.B. The State of Texas does not license naturopathic doctors.

The main Sweet’s syndrome post from her blog-site.

December 2nd 2011.

‘Nothing is sweeter than seeing a client respond well to holistic treatment. The client I am referring to came to my clinic about three weeks ago. He had been diagnosed by his medical doctor with an illness known as Sweet Syndrome (a link to the Mayo Clinic was added here).

If you check out this link, you will see that this has nothing to do with sweetness. This disease turns its sufferers into modern-day Jobs. You remember Job in the Bible? He was covered head to foot with boils and skin abrasions. Such was the case of my client.

He had been suffering with these skin lesions for two and a half years. He had been seeking traditional medical treatment, with no progress, no healing. The Mayo Clinic states that this disease is idiopathic which means that no one knows what causes it. If there is no determined cause, then it is very hard to treat with pharmaceuticals.

Such was the state of affairs when Mr. P came to see me. After taking a case history, we embarked upon a treatment with homeopathic remedies and herbs. After one week, Mr. P called me, stating that the lesions on his skin were more numerous and it appeared that he was getting worse. What he did not know, (and maybe you need to know too) is that when the body starts to heal, the natural healing process is to push out the offending germ/bacteria/virus/microbe/parasite through the natural elimination pathways of the body. Because we don’t know what the cause of Sweet Syndrome is, one of the best ways to bring him to healing was to encourage the body to eliminate whatever was the origin. The skin is the body’s largest eliminative organ, so seeing the lesions become worse in a very short time gave hope that the body was clearing itself.

Mr. P came back into the clinic, and we made up a topical preparation with almond oil and about four different herbal extracts to put on the lesions. After about two weeks had passed, we called him this week to check on his progress. He said that he had been to his medical doctor, and his doctor was amazed at his recovery. In fact, his doctor wants to know what we did to effect this improvement.

Yesterday, Mr. P came into the clinic. He rolled up his pants leg, and I was amazed at the transformation. Three weeks ago, his body was covered with very sore, painful running tiny blisters.  Today, the sores are all scabbed over, and are fifty percent smaller. There is no blistering, very little pain, and no inflammation. Mr. P’s testimony is that he is very much better than he has been in the previous two plus years, and he wants to continue working with other health issues in a holistic manner.

As a Naturopath, I see stories like this all the time. People come into the clinic regularly, very frustrated and disappointed with their medical outcomes. Often, like Mr. P, they have been under allopathic medical treatment for many years, and are not getting any better. They have been told that nothing can be done, and that they will have their conditions the rest of their lives. This is just not true.

Life should be sweet. If you are not enjoying health and a sweet life, I encourage you to research holistic therapies. There is a path to healing as long as there is breath in the body.

Until next time,

Dr. Polly.’

Inaccuracies in Polly Heil-Mealey’s blog post and the problems with her advice.

The inaccuracies in the blog post and problems with her advice include:

1. The suggestion that Sweet’s syndrome is always idiopathic.

P. Heil-Mealey says, ‘The Mayo Clinic states that this disease is idiopathic’.

She does not make it clear that not all cases are idiopathic, i.e. that there can be a trigger for SS. Read more here.

2. Sweet’s syndrome patients are like modern day Jobs.

SS patients are not modern day Jobs, a character from the Old Testament of the Bible who Satan covered from head-to-toe in boils. God allowed Satan to do this in order to prove that Job was a faithful and true believer, and not just worshipping God because of the earlier blessings that God had bestowed upon him. This was part of a trial or test of faith.

Unlike Job, SS patients are not covered in boils from head-to-toe, and it’s highly inappropriate to imply that someone has SS because God wants them to be ill and suffer. The skin lesions caused by SS are not the same as boils, can range in severity, sometimes only appear in one area, and on occasion, patients can develop SS without skin lesions.

3. Nobody knows what causes Sweet’s syndrome.

SS may be a poorly understood condition, but we do have some idea as to what causes it. SS is an autoinflammatory condition, and these are rare disorders that are caused by errors in the innate immune system.

Specific causes for SS include cytokine dysregulation, hypersensitivity reaction and genetic susceptibility.

4. Patients are being told by doctors that nothing can be done or that they will have Sweet’s syndrome for the rest of their lives.

This is not true! Patients are not being told by their doctors that nothing can be done or that they will have SS for the rest of their lives. In fact, most patients only have one episode of SS and it never comes back. For further information see no.5 – ‘Pharmaceuticals are not an effective form of treatment for Sweet’s syndrome’.

5. Pharmaceuticals are not an effective form of treatment for Sweet’s syndrome.

This is not true! The steroid medication, prednisone, is the main form of treatment for SS, and is a very effective form of treatment. At least 33% of SS patients experience repeat flare-ups after initial treatment, but this means that the majority (up to 66%) do not. If steroid medication is not effective by itself, then other medications are available.

6. Homeopathic remedies and herbs can treat or cure Sweet’s syndrome.

This is not true! There is no evidence to show that SS can be treated or cured with homeopathic remedies, herbs, essential oils or any other kind of alternative treatment. Some of these may even be harmful. ⚠️

7. When a herbal treatment, cream, lotion or oils make skin lesions worse, it is a sign that the treatment is working. ⚠️ ⚠️

This is not true! If symptoms are getting worse it means that the treatment isn’t working, and if something applied to the skin makes the skin lesions worse then the treatment needs to stop!! Continuing the treatment could potentially lead to the development of new lesions (pathergy), permanent skin colour changes or scarring, infection (sometimes causes pain so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized), and ulceration of existing lesions. On rare occasions, if the lesions are on the digits, i.e. fingers or toes, it could lead to amputation of a digit.

8. Skin lesions are caused by ‘toxins’ or something in the body that needs to be eliminated.

This is not true! Skin lesions in SS patients are not caused by ‘toxins’ or something that needs to be eliminated from the body. They are caused by the activation of cytokines and white blood cells called neutrophils. See no.3 – ‘Nobody knows what causes Sweet’s syndrome’ and click on ’causes’.

Other concerns (taken from Polly Heil-Mealey’s comments section).

1. P. Heil-Mealey states that red root (blood root) is a key treatment in Sweet’s syndrome. ⚠️ ⚠️

This is not true! Red root is not a treatment for SS, and there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim. It may not even be safe to use, and should never be applied to skin lesions. Read more here.

2. P. Heil-Mealey does not understand Sweet’s syndrome-related medical terminology.

P. Heil-Mealey does not understand the term ‘histiocytoid Sweet’s syndrome’ (the person leaving the comment refers to it as ‘histoicitic’), yet in the main blog post implies that she can cure SS. She states that ‘They have been told (by doctors) that nothing can be done, and that they will have their conditions the rest of their lives. This is just not true.’

As someone who is ‘curing’ SS, it would be acceptable to expect P. Heil-Mealey to have a much better understanding of SS.

3. P. Heil-Mealey has no basic understanding of how Sweet’s syndrome should be treated.

A woman states that her mother’s treatment for SS is not working. This is because her mother has been given different antibiotic therapies which is the wrong treatment for SS. When this happens, it’s often because the SS looks like an infection and is treated as such. P. Heil-Mealey fails to tell the woman that her mother has been receiving the wrong treatment which would have been the responsible thing to do, but also suggests that P. Heil-Mealey has no understanding of SS. Instead, she agrees to provide a referral to a naturopath.

4. P. Heil-Mealey refers someone for EAV and bioenergetic testing. ⚠️

EAV and bioenergetic testing are pseudoscientific forms of testing that involve using electrodiagnostic devices that can supposedly determine the cause of a disease by detecting the ‘energy imbalance’ causing the problem, or even cure a condition by correcting this imbalance. Please treat anyone who offers or refers you for such testing with caution. These tests are a scam, and the importation of EAV devices into the US has been banned.

If you wish to try an alternative method of treatment then that is your right, but treatments and practices that are not supported by medical research may be unsafe. If you are considering using alternative therapies, it is advisable to check that it is a safe form of treatment at the very least.

Do not automatically believe what you are told or what is written on alternative therapy websites, and be particularly wary of anecdotal evidence and testimonials. Anecdotal evidence is a personal account of something that has happened. Testimonials are statements testifying that a treatment has worked, even when it may not have worked. Sometimes, people are paid or offered something in return to give false testimonials, and neither anecdotal evidence nor testimonials are a replacement for proper medical evidence. Genuine health professionals do not rely upon anectodal evidence, and rarely use testimonials. In fact, regular use of anecdotal evidence or testimonials is often a warning that something isn’t quite right.

Finally, just because something is ‘natural’ doesn’t mean that it’s safe or doesn’t have side-effects. There are plenty of herbs, plants and extracts that have side-effects, can cause allergic reaction, be poisonous, or even prove fatal.

Keep safe! ❤️ ❤️

Further information.

Action Fraud (2010) Health Scams. National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre (online).

Baking soda is not a treatment for Sweet’s syndrome or myelodysplastic syndromes.

Herbs and supplements that should be avoided or used with caution in Sweet’s syndrome.

Sense About Science (2008) I’ve got nothing to lose by trying it (PDF). This is a free guide to weighing up claims about cures and treatments.

2012-2018 Sweet’s Syndrome UK


6 thoughts on “A warning about Polly Heil-Mealey! Sweet’s syndrome cannot be cured with herbs or homeopathic remedies


    FDA (2015) 6 Tip-offs to Rip-offs: Don’t Fall for Health Fraud Scams: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm341344.htm

    – One product does it all.
    Be suspicious of products that claim to cure a wide range of diseases. A New York firm claimed its products marketed as dietary supplements could treat or cure senile dementia, brain atrophy, atherosclerosis, kidney dysfunction, gangrene, depression, osteoarthritis, dysuria, and lung, cervical and prostate cancer. In October 2012, at FDA’s request, U.S. marshals seized these products.

    – Personal TESTIMONIALS.
    Success stories, such as, “It cured my diabetes” or “My tumours are gone,” are easy to make up and are not a substitute for scientific evidence.

    – Quick fixes.
    Few diseases or conditions can be treated quickly, even with legitimate products. Beware of language such as, “Lose 30 pounds in 30 days” or “eliminates skin cancer in days.”

    – “All NATURAL.”
    Some plants found in nature (such as poisonous mushrooms) can kill when consumed. Moreover, FDA has found numerous products promoted as “all natural” but that contain hidden and dangerously high doses of prescription drug ingredients or even untested active artificial ingredients.

    – “Miracle CURE.”
    Alarms should go off when you see this claim or others like it such as, “new discovery,” “scientific breakthrough” or “secret ingredient.” If a real cure for a serious disease were discovered, it would be widely reported through the media and prescribed by health professionals — not buried in print ads, TV infomercials or on Internet sites.

    – Conspiracy theories.
    Claims like “The pharmaceutical industry and the government are working together to hide information about a miracle cure” are always untrue and unfounded. These statements are used to distract consumers from the obvious, common-sense questions about the so-called miracle cure.

    Even with these tips, fraudulent health products are not always easy to spot. If you’re tempted to buy an unproven product or one with questionable claims, check with your MEDICAL doctor or other health care PROFESSIONAL (not an alternative therapist) first.


  2. As a nutritional medicine and naturopathic student, I find it really sad that you have so much faith in the medical and pharmaceutical professions that you have been blinded to the benefits that good nutrition and natural resources can provide. You also state that there is no evidence to back up claims that these natural resources are of any benefit, however, there are thousands of studies on these resources. Admittedly, there are not as many studies done on this natural resources and therapies as that would not benefit the major pharmaceutical companies. You may call me biased, but I have been ill for many years, and I trusted my doctors to help me. I have taken so many synthetic medicines over the years that my body now reacts to nearly every medicine I’m given. Yes, I do still take synthetic medication as I have had cancer and I recently lost my spleen, but I have more trust in natural therapies these days than in synthetic therapies. Oh, and as a nurse you should know that synthetic chemicals are not as good at working with our bodies cells as something that is biologically similar, like cannibis.


    • Stating that you feel it is ‘really sad’ is not a replacement for evidence, and even though you are entitled to your own naturopathic beliefs, you are not entitled to your own facts.

      ‘So much faith in the medical and pharmaceutical professions that you have been blinded.’ It is not about faith or belief, but facts and evidence.

      Please provide me with links to peer-reviewed case-studies that prove that alternative and nutritional therapies can be used to treat or cure Sweet’s syndrome, and do not attempt to pass off your feelings/beliefs as facts again.


      • ‘Oh, and as a nurse you should know that synthetic chemicals are not as good at working with our bodies cells as something that is biologically similar, like cannibis.’ By cannabis, I’m assuming that you mean something natural.

        1. Everything that exists is a chemical, e.g. animals, plants, food, air, water (the chemicals hydrogen and oxygen). Even if something is natural, it’s still a chemical.

        2. Overall, what makes a chemical dangerous, safe, or more or less effective, isn’t whether or not it’s natural or artificial, but the dose or amount.

        3. If I were to take a natural chemical and recreate it in a lab (making it artificial), these two chemicals would still be chemically identical and have the same effect.

        4. If I were to give someone food containing a particular vitamin for 2 weeks, and 2 weeks later gave that same person the same vitamin as a supplement instead of the food, there’s a good chance that the vitamin in the food would have greater effect than the vitamin as a supplement. This is because the vitamin in the food doesn’t exist in isolation, and other chemicals in the food would be increasing its effectiveness or absorption in some way.

        5. Some natural chemicals can reduce the effectiveness of other chemicals.

        6. A natural substance such as cannabis contains more than one chemical. Some of these chemicals may improve certain symptoms of a particular condition, but other chemicals in the cannabis may make certain symptoms of the same condition worse. What needs to happen is that the useful chemicals are identified, extracted and given to a patient at a safe and therapeutic dosage, thereby making it a medical treatment. In Wales, UK, a medication called Sativex is available on the NHS. This a cannabis-based medication used to manage muscle spasms and stiffness in patients with multiple sclerosis.

        7. There is no evidence to show that cannabis can be used to treat Sweet’s syndrome.


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