There have been a couple of Morgellons articles in British publications recently, one in New Scientist (subscription required):

http://www.newscientist.com/channel/health/mg19526210.700-morgellons-disease-the-itch-that-wont-be-scratched.html

And another in the Daily Mail/London Evening Standard, from their “This is London” web site:

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23412621-details/M/article.do

The latter article illustrates many problems endemic in the “Morgellons” media phenomenon – a mixture of superficial reporting, and blatant contradictions.

Firstly, they start out on the wrong foot by describing Morgellons as:

The symptoms sound like something from The X Files – sufferers complain of a crawling sensation all over the body, egg-like lumps under the skin and, even more bizarrely, cuts which produce tiny red and blue fibres.

“egg-like lumps” suggests egg sized lumps, which is not a symptom, and nobody would describe their sores as “cuts”, so already the reader has totally the wrong idea as to what we are discussing.

mvc-049s.jpgThen we get this photo of the hand of someone who claims to have Morgellons. This is an interesting link to the quackery surrounding Morgellons. Now I’m not sure who they got this photo from, but I first saw it over a year ago when Russell Altman emailed it to me (this is the original photo, the one of the article is cropped and enhanced slightly). It was taken March 21, 2006 and is the hand of “Connie“, someone that Russell claims he cured with the quack remedy “NutraSilver“, which he also conveniently sells. There is a lot of selling of remedies for Morgellons.

Then we get the patient, Beverly Warren, 63, from Manchester, who says “It feels like tiny insects crawling of biting under my skin“, and later “I scratch and scratch, bit it doesn’t help“, and the article then notes “Beverley’s arms are covered with dozen of sores“.

neurotic_excoriations_44.jpgJust like Beverly, many people who have Morgellons have no problem describing how the scratch for hours, or even how they spend hours picking at their skin. Yet somehow, as in this article, the connection is not made that the scratching and the picking as actually causing the sores and the lesions. It’s called Neurotic Excoriations, and looks like the photo on the right:

And the sensation of insects under the skin is also well known. It’s called formication, and it’s caused by many physical conditions, including Menopause, diabetes, or reactions to prescription drugs. Formication can lead to scratching, which can damage the skin, leading to more itching and formication, which creates a vicious itch-scratch-itch cycle that can be impossible to break.

It’s quite possible that 11 years ago, Beverly, then aged 52, was going through menopause, and was suffering from formication(as 20% of menopausal women do, to some degree), she scratched, and this precipitated her current condition. But again, it could be any number of things.

Moving on, we have Rita, 47, whose symptoms started at age 43, and who illustrates the nonsense behind the claim that “According to Morgellons sufferers doctors are dismissive of their illness“:

“The doctors are very dismissive. One doctor sent the fibres off to a lab, but all she said was that nothing abnormal had been detected.” Among Morgellons sufferers, this is a common experience.

Here’s the contradiction: the doctors are “very dismissive” and yet they “sent the fibers off to a lab“. How is this dismissive? They analyzed the fibers, and found they were nothing abnormal. That sounds like they took her claims very seriously. Beverly, also, speaks of many “doctors and dermatologists”, and “two skin biopsies” – again this does not sound like she has been dismissed, in fact it seems like doctors have gone to some length to find out what is wrong with her.

The article wraps it up with some words from “a handful of experts“, without noting that they are actually not experts in dermatology, nor in fiber analysis, or epidemiology, or anything that might help them discern what is actually going on.

The real experts, dermatologists and psychologists, are not dismissive. In fact they take this problem very seriously, and have a great deal of sympathy for those who are suffering from these symptoms. Saying a condition has a psychological component is not dismissing it, it’s correctly identifying it, so it can be properly treated.

25 Responses to “Morgellons in England”

  1. Aside from their inabilities to reason (and other particular behavioral traits), there is a lot of grandiosity on display in a lot of the patients with the disorders that comprise what they have been so easily coerced into believing is something called “morgellons disease”. (Whoa, take a breath, Smiles.) Surely, not all the reporters are also going mad, and some can still remember mama telling them as tots to not scratch an itch. These patients are being exploited so badly, by choice, even, which makes it so much worse.

    The devastation in their lives, due to what they all label as “morgellons disease”, could be fixed, or brought to a more comfortable level, if they could just get a handle on things and understand why they need to. But, instead, with so many of them, (if not all), the qualified doctors legitimately diagnosing, is not even what they go to doctors for. It’s gut-wrenching, knowing that they are in such a chaotic state, so confused, that they seek doctors with the expectation that they’ll be every bit as captivated as they are, and just play along. I don’t necessarily mean, “play along”, but, you know, these patients think backwards from everyone else, and don’t seem to understand a whole lot of anything, while thinking that they are more enlightened than anyone else. Everything they say, accusing the doctors of “labeling”, “misdiagnosing”, and “abandoning” them, is just the opposite. And, I know they can’t help it, or none of this would’ve come to light as it has. What a terrible trap “morgellons disease” is.

  2. I saw the Georgia slideshow. Seems like someone was looking at toxic mold, and somehow got mixed up in looking at Morgellons, and was trying to make a connection. They don’t really say much of significance.

    They had an interesting list of self-medications used: bleach, ammonia, inspect spray, dog flea dip, gasoline, kerosene, WD40, Windex, Lysol

  3. Michael-

    You know, your morbid sense of interest in this subject is rather peculiar. Really creepy

  4. Gregg, what’s going on with “morgellons disease” patients is everybody’s business.

  5. I appreciate these notes on the discrepency about “dismissive” doctors.

  6. You make some interesting claims yourself; Nutrasilver cured Connie? Show me where I said that. You call nutrasilver “quackery” without offering any proof. YOu also say the photo was retouched, again, show me the proof.

    The truth is you make innuendo’s without offering any reason to do so. We have never claimed a cure. Morgellons victims that use NutraSilver as directed get amazing results and unlike your weak and unsubstantiated statements, we do have proof. Go to: http://brandytwirl.multiply.com/photos/album/1/Morgellons_Pictures_Before_and_After_Treatment and see all the proof you need. We have hundreds of testiminials, all verifiable, that speak about people getting their lives back in a few weeks.

    Do you have Morgellons? Have your tried NutraSilver? No, I am sure, you just blow off with you mouth against something that really brings relief to people who suffer from this horrible disease.

    Bottom line, try NutraSilver and if it does not work, then get a refund. If it does work, well welcome back to life…

    Posted by Russell at morgellons@charter.net

  7. So you merely claim that Nutrasilver healed her lesions and all the other symptoms, but you don’t know if it’s a “cure”?

    I’m sure you think that FDA regulations are simply in place to protect “big pharma”, but they arose to protect the populace from “snake oil” and quackery. The FDA has a mandate to ensure that drugs are not only safe, but also effective for their stated purpose.

    The FDA is quite clear about your product, saying:

    a colloidal silver product for any drug use will first have to be approved by FDA under the new drug application procedures. The Final rule classifies colloidal silver products as misbranded because adequate directions cannot be written so that the general public can use these drugs safely for their intended purposes. They are also misbranded when their labeling falsely suggests that there is substantial scientific evidence to establish that the drugs are safe and effective for their intended uses.

    Your claims, above (and elsewhere), are in direct violation of this. Your sales of Nutrasilver for the treatment of Morgellons are illegal. They are illegal for the very good reason that they do not work, and are possibly harmful.

    I suggest you read the following, and obtain legal advice.

    http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/98fr/081799a.txt

    People who have concerns regarding illegal sales of treatments over the internet may use the following page to report it to the FDA:

    http://www.fda.gov/oc/buyonline/buyonlineform.htm

    If you receive emails that promote illegal treatments, forwards them to:

    mailto://webcomplaints@ora.fda.gov

  8. Russell, “morgellons” is NOT “a disease. There is adequate proof, in all of their uncensored accounts, that most of the people who think they have “morgellons disease” are an exceptionally unique subset of patients with special needs. Ya jerk, it’s bad enough that some members of the general public don’t grasp things too well, but these people are different, and you’re using that to your advantage.

  9. Russell, I’m almost kinda sorta sorry I called you a jerk, because I didn’t realize that you’re ill, too, until reading the link below. Is Connie your wife?

    http://unknownskindisease.com/html/silver_products.html

  10. “The FDA has a mandate to ensure that drugs are not only safe, but also effective for their stated purpose.””

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) knew nearly five years ago about the dangers associated with the diabetes drug Avandia, an internal FDA memo shows. A study released Monday by the New England Journal of Medicine showed a 43 percent increase in heart attacks in people using Avandia.

    In a letter sent today to FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, Public Citizen described how the 2002 memo showed that FDA scientists recommended that labels for Avandia and Actos, another widely prescribed diabetes drug, be amended to include mention of post-marketing reports of heart failure among patients taking the two drugs. To date, the label hasn’t changed.

    “The failure of the FDA to act on the recommendations made almost five years ago by its Division of Drug Risk Evaluation is yet another case in which the conclusions of scientists who are engaged in post-market drug safety review are not taken seriously enough or addressed soon enough,” said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of the Health Research Group at Public Citizen. “As a result, millions of people – to the detriment of their health – are prescribed drugs whose risks are dangerously understated, instead of being prescribed safer, equally or more effective alternative drugs.”
    http://www.newstarget.com/021864.html

    “The U.S. Senate passed the FDA “drug safety” bill today (S.1082) with a 93-1 vote. A key amendment that would have called for genuine drug safety protections for consumers — the Grassley amendment 1039 — was defeated by a single vote (47 to 46). The new law deepens financial ties between Big Pharma and the FDA, doubling the amount of money directly paid to the regulator by drug companies, but it fails to explicitly protect foods and nutritional supplements from overreaching FDA regulation efforts. The new law also failed to end Big Pharma’s monopoly stranglehold on American consumers, further blocking the ability of citizens, businesses, cities and states to import equivalent medications from countries like Canada (where drugs are far safer than those sold in the United States, by any measure).”
    http://www.newstarget.com/021838.html

    ” “Understanding the Threat to Dietary Supplements.” Your right to have free access to safe and highly effective dietary supplements is under an intense multi-pronged FDA attack. On May 14, 2007 the Supreme Court sided with the FDA by deciding not to hear the case of Nutraceutical v FDA, letting stand a federal appeals court ruling that permits the FDA to use drug-related risk/benefit analysis to determine if a nutrient is safe. This is the exact same point the FDA is trying to get put into law through Senate bill S.1082 and HR.1561, which consumers have flooded the Senate on over the past few weeks. And it is the same point the FDA is seeking to help implement on an international basis through Codex. The Supreme Court denial to hear this case is a dramatic turn of events that means there is very little time left to act to preserve free access to dietary supplements”
    http://www.newstarget.com/021851.html

    “1) Big Pharma will not have immunity to lawsuits brought by consumers harmed by dangerous prescription drugs. As you may know, drug companies (and even the White House and FDA) have lobbied for granting drug companies blanket immunity from all injury lawsuits. This would have been the ultimate insult to American consumers, but a huge victory for drug companies (whose products arguably are the most dangerous products currently being consumed by Americans, with the exception of tobacco products).”
    http://www.newstarget.com/022048.html

  11. Isis, I’m sorry if harm has come to you, or to someone in your life, relating to all that stuff you posted. If not, and you’re excessively worried about it, maybe this, from last month, will help some:

    Congress Approves Drug Safety Changes

    Reforms Give FDA New Authority to Order Drug Safety Studies

    http://www.rxlist.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=84134

    Do you have “morgellons disease”?

  12. There’s the irony, you both want the FDA to do their job, and yet not do their job. Big pharma bad, unregulated pharma good. You want the FDA to do a better job in regulating an industry that is incredibly heavily regulated, and do a worse job in regulating one that is hardly regulated at all. You want it to spend more time quadruple checking the studies of every new big-pharma drug, and at the same time just let people sell whatever they like, if it’s labled a “dietary supplement”.

    Come now, look at the Multi-Level-Marketing bullshit on the Nutrasilver site. They are obviously simply out to make money, just as much as anyone in “Big Pharma”. 30ml for $37? 360ml for $251? $250 for a glass full of water with a tiny bit of silver in it? Material costs of less than $0.01 per gallon?

    Follow the money.

  13. Hello my name is Jeff and I am a recovering morgellons patient. I have posted here before and know as well as anybody what is it was like and how at first the boards can suck you in. I personally after looking back at the last six years believe the truth is somewhere in the middle. I believe the scratch itch cyle makes this condition last much longer than it should. I know log on to lymebusters and cant even stand reading it.. It reads more like one big area 51 conspiricy than a medical board. I dont know if ive changed or it has changed…Again probably a little of both. I do know that when I came down with whatever it was.. I got a rash that I didnt create while in mexico..Then I got a insane itch on my calves long before I found any board or morgellons theorys. Then I woke up with little red bumps from head to toe that I definatly didnt create.. Overnight like 50 bumps. Got scabs on my head before any sores. And got zig zag scratches that there was no way I could have created..I couldnt create a lighting bolt shaped scratch if I tried. Yes it was hell and long before I went to the internet I went to my doctor. He told me I likely had scabies but couldnt find any parts or eggs..Just holes…So he treated me with topical permithian cream 5 %..It knocked out all sensations and itching for 3 days..Then everything came back worse…Went back repeat treat wife repeat…same thing 3 days relief then horrible rebound. Then I found the internet. I scabies board called safe to use. I found that with scabies I should not have had a three day total relief from the cream..It doesnt work magic like that..It would take weeks for the itching to stop as the dead ones disentagrated and festered in the skin…I now feel the relief I felt was from a immuno suppressive effect of the chemical..And I was possibly treating sarcoidosis. Which I was diagnosed with 17 years earlier..It didnt occur to me I didnt even tell my doctor..I had completily forgotton about it. I kept repeating the same experement as each new drug recommended with supply a three day relief until the body got used to it..each new drug or herbal treatment would work at first then not..as the body got used to it. Years this went on then I got hooked at morgellons site. I dont know what the fibers are I personally think they might be produced by the body in some autoimmune state. I can see that cotton is endorsed here I am certainly open to that. I can tell you that for some reason my shirts ect would be pulled in by something and stick to me..So if it is cotton then some bacteria or something is using it as a protective device against the immune response. Some bacteria can form and take advantage of certain autoimmune diseases. I also can tell you for my self even if leaving the lesions alone untouched..Healing is not normal..It takes to long and festers too much. and at the heart of each fester is a fiber..Could they be nerve fibers ? could the autoimmune condtion be destroying the nerves ?
    I dont believe in dissmissing this condition as purely in the head…Cause that only partially true.. I feel im a expert I am here almost completily recovered. and fully aware of the autoimmune factor of this condition. Thank You

  14. Hi Jeff. Thanks for sharing your account. Obviously something very real caused the original bumps and itching. Initial infections like that can hypersensitive you to later irritants. Still, it sounds like you have a combination of things going on over the years.

    I just don’t think that one new condition can explain all the different things that happened to different people.

  15. I dont understand why if you dont have morgellons and dont believe it is a real medical condition,you spend so much time trying to convince people it is no t real.Are you the clowns?You know,entertaining everyone till the real act appears? We are ready for the real act,because we know this is no delusion.I have had this for 14 years that I know of,and I was not going through menapause.Have you actually examined anyone claiming to have this condition?I know you were invited by a few at least to witness their condition. You have no clue to how real and devastating this is,there are many many many different fibers,and gel like masses with fibers throughout the body of sufferors.Lesions that do not heal normaly,skin that just peels off,slits in the skin as if made with surgical precision appear,this is real…and who the heel are you people anyway,why do you spend so much time on this????????

  16. Dawn, I think you’re missing the point. If you have, as you say, lesions that do not heal normally, skin that just peels off, and slits in the skin that appear as if they were made with surgical precision, then they were obviously not caused by voodoo.

    In this case, why not take it to a doctor and ask for their recommendation?

    As Michael has listed in no small detail, the number of separate symptoms is staggering, and no particular criteria that I can observe is used to classify the disease. If this is, as you say, such a problem, then it strikes me that the risks from accepting the possibility that, while the symptoms are real, and that you may be ill in some serious and genuine way, Morgellons is not real, are acceptable. In all other case, it smacks of California-style sensationalism, and a desire to attract attention to oneself.

  17. This is not the results of any study, just my observations on the issue:

    Morgellon’s seems to be an autoimmune condition, probably related to chemical attack of the keratin in the skin, thus causing erupting sores and fibers. Keratin is one of the common constituents in skin and does often form into fibers, like hair or wool.
    These fibers would be quite small, and may be mistaken by the untrained eye to be fiber from clothing, although I’m sure analysis would reveal them to be keratin fibers too small to be hair or wool. The photographs on the morgellon’s organization site, esp. of the fibers under the skin, would seem to prove this theory.

    In any case of autoimmune the body can be either under stress or trauma from previous illness, or emotional breakdown, causing it to disfunction and use it’s own natural functions of breakdown or immune response to attack itself. Sometimes, however, these conditions are simply genetic disorders.

    My suspicion is that this process involves enzyme or hormone disfunction, or would have some abnormal levels of hormones or proteins of some kind related to these ulcerations. Or the keratin which would normally be incorporated with other proteins in the skin would simply have some kind of kink in it’s formation which caused it to be overproduced or to self adhere more, etc. Keratin can form chains or sheets, the chains would definitely appear to be fibers. The reasons for the coloration of the fibers is likely chemical as well, and would likely be related to the chemical processes involved in forming it.

    Whether or not some viral agent or parasite is involved in this reaction remains to be seen. It seems clear, however, that there is a physical cause to this affliction, and that it is unique from other pathological diseases.

  18. I should also mention, that the keratin theory of Morgellons would allow for variation in the form and size of the keratin chains, allowing for some to be very large in comparison to others

  19. Heads up sceptics and believers alike. The US CDC is hosting an investigation that should clear up the mystery, at last. My bets are on the researcher who works with agrobacteria, which can modify human cell DNA — this is proven! The aggro create cellulose, as in plant galls…if plants could talk, what would they make of hideous gall structures growing on their limbs? Does anyone remember long enough ago that no one believed that PRIONS could do what they now are recognized to do? They’re not even alive, just bad examples for other molecules to follow.

  20. Just a brief note having had a look at this. I am the Beverley in question in Manchester and can say definitely I had a menopause aged 41 – not 52 as stated. I had a total hysterectomy. I guess this means my problem is NOT menopause related.
    I do appreciate that research has been done into my case and have never stated that Drs have been dismissive. Only that they do not come up with any answers. I am sitting typing this at 02 42 hrs. The reason for this is – BECAUSE I AM UNABLE TO SLEEP DUE TO THE ITCHING.
    All I am looking for is help and answers so please do not dismiss me as psychotic. if someone can find relief for me I would be SOOOOOOOOOOO happy.
    Meanwhile I will continue to read up on anything that might give me a clue and help me sort out days from nights as I get so tired during the day when I have bad itchy nights unable to sleep.
    Keep up the research is what I say but don’t dismiss us as having psychological problems. I am a highly intelligent, well educated person who until retirement have held down some pretty responsible jobs worldwide. I know what I see and feel on and in my arms and would state once more am just looking for answers.

  21. Beverly, I see nothing to indicate that you are psychotic. All I know about you is that you have severe itching on your arms. It must be terrible, I’m very sorry for you. There are many things that could cause this, but sometimes the precise cause cannot be found. I urge you to continue working with your doctors to find the treatments that work best for you. It sounds like this is what you have been doing, and I understand you must be frustrated that no cure has been forthcoming.

    Menopause is just one of many conditions that can lead to these symptoms. I’ve maintained all along that people who self-diagnose with Morgellons are unlikely to have the same condition. Menopause was just one example of a possible cause.

    Regarding the black specks, Dermatologist Dr Jeffery Meffert says:

    brown and black specks are likely tiny little blood clots from exposed capillaries. The lubricant helps soften them enough to be released from the underlying tissue. I see it all the time in patients who surgeries we are allowing to heal on their own.

    If you scratch your skin, the damaged cause will account for the various specks you see. These are not necessarily symptoms of what is causing the itching, but rather an indirect effect, via the scratching.

  22. Hi, Beverley. I’m sorry you’re itching so badly. You should see a general practitioner and have some blood work done to see if an underlying physical condition is causing that.

    You’re an intelligent woman, and by having said in that article that scratching doesn’t help, you’ve proven to yourself that your own scratching is not only making you worse, but that it’s permanently destroying your skin.

    Scratching the skin can cause reactions that exacerbate the itching setting off the itch receptors, which in turn rush the itch message to the brain. Though scratching provides temporary relief from itching, it can lead to the onset of the itch/scratch cycle that simply perpetuates this unpleasant sensation and can actually damage the skin, making it more susceptible to infection.

    http://www.lanacane.co.uk/skin/itching/index.asp

    Get some of that and it will help, as long as you can also help yourself. And, good luck! Smileykins

  23. Unfortunately the skin picking disorder doesn’t get enough attention from doctors and therapists, and the scientific community (research). Hopefully public awareness of this disorder will rise with years, since more and more people get acquainted with it, mainly via the net: Dermatillomania Center

  24. hi
    i’ve had this disease for 17 yrs, I am now 70 yrs of age, I killed whatever the worm like things that moved (only white ones) the red & blue came out later, by taking hundreds of worm killers mebendazole ,piperazole, now banned, & my doctor prescribed thiabendazole 2 lots. I went to 5 different hospitals, had p.u.v.a. treatment which is going into a sunbox plus taking tablets beforehand to make the skin more sensitive to u.v.a. I was so burnt & sore but I continued treatment on & off for 2 yrs, everything I try works for a week or so & then after getting excited that i’ve found the solution it stops working.
    In the 17 yrs no one has ever caught it from me & i used to sleep with my grandaughters, me in the middle in a double bed i got a nudge if I scratched, they are now 21 & 27 yrs of age.
    I have taken hundreds of erythrimycin,cyproproxacillin,Lymocillin etc, they all work at first & then I seem to get immune to them.
    I spend about £40 a week at the pharmacy trying different things,Im better than i was say 10 yrs ago but haave still a long way to go, I think I will be in my coffin with them!
    I’ve also tried every antifungal cream, some work at first, then stop working.i’m next going to try 3% peroxide, needless to say I look like a dried up old stick! thank god they’re not on my face.
    I find this the most frightening illness I have ever experienced.
    Joan

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