'Master herbalist' charged with boy's death for convincing parents not to give him insulin

On Monday Timothy Morrow’s trial got underway as he faces charges relating to the death of Edgar Lopez in 2014.

The self-proclaimed “master herbalist” got charged with two misdemeanor counts of child abuse resulting in death and practicing medicine without a license. The trial will focus on the last year of Edgar’s life before he died in August 2014.

According to investigators, Edgar’s mom, Maria Madrigal took her son off the insulin he got prescribed for Type 1 diabetes three months after his diagnosis. Instead, she believed that Edgar’s insulin levels could be better controlled with herbs.

Maria attended a seminar Timothy Morrow conducted on herbal remedies and consulted Morrow for natural remedies for her son since. She also believed that Morrow was a “doctor” of herbal medicine. According to Maria, Morrow told her not to give Edgar insulin but that they should use his herbal oils instead.

“Common Sense Products,” as Morrow’s website is called, speak of how herbal remedies are an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. Product ranges include remedies for children and adults targeted at various common issues, including controlling one’s blood sugar levels.

People are encouraged to take control of their health, while Morrow added that “we don’t force anyone or try to lead anyone.” But according to the Deputy City Attorney, Heidi Matz, the 84-year-old Morrow told Maria:

"This is what is going to kill him; he needs to stop insulin now."

Timothy Morrow got released after he made bail of $100,000 and still sells his herbs online.

Morrow’s defense blamed Maria and told jurors that Morrow never claimed to be a doctor. The court also saw a range of videos Morrow made wherein he stated things like, “A tumor is your friend. A tumor is a gift from God,” and “insulin is very poisonous to the system,” as can be heard in the following video:

Edgar died less than a year after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and information regarding Edgar’s insulin regiment conflict that of medical records cited in the coroner’s report.

Maria told investigators that she stopped giving Edgar insulin in January 2014 to switch to treatment with herbs and a healthy diet instead.

According to Edgar’s former pediatric endocrinologist, Dr. Pablito Nagpala, Edgar’s blood sugar levels would have remained on a healthy level for a while. When one first begins to take insulin, levels go through a “honeymoon phase” during which blood sugar levels remain stable.

When Edgar became seriously ill in August 2014, Edgar’s parents called Morrow for help. Once at their home, Morrow did some foot reflexology and showed the family how to apply lavender oil on Edgar. 

The “master herbalist” explained that Edgar was so weak and barely breathing because he was going through a “healing crisis.” In the video below Morrow elaborated on what a "healing crisis" is.

Edgar’s brother told investigators that Morrow discouraged the family from calling 911 when they saw Edgar deteriorating even further because the “healing crisis” was a good sign and showed that toxins were leaving Edgar’s body.

The following day Edgar’s heart rate slowed to the point where he barely breathed. Edgar’s parents consulted Morrow yet again. His advice: open windows so that the “energy from the sun” can come in.

By this time Edgar’s brother could take no more, the previous day Edgar asked to be taken to the hospital more than once. So he phoned 911, his brother was dying. Paramedics immediately took Edgar to UCLA-Harbor Medical Center, weighing only 68 pounds, but it was too late.

Nagpala stressed that Edgar’s death could have easily been avoided, and said:

"This must have been very painful for Edgar. Clearly, Edgar is undergoing diabetic ketoacidosis....with proper treatment like insulin and in-patient admission hospitalization; he would have definitely been saved."

If convicted, Morrow could receive up to two years in prison.

Unfortunately, situations like these are not isolated cases. In April 1988, Rosanna Arquette from Culver City came across 123 documented cases wherein children died because their parents withheld medical care in favor of faith or herbal healing.

Arquette decided to make a film for television called, “Promised a Miracle” that got based on a true story. It told the tale of Lucky Parker who stood up in church wanting to “testify to the power of God to heal.” Her son Wesley had diabetes, and she stopped giving him his insulin. 

Three days after Lucky Parker pronounced that God healed her son, he died. Later, Lucky got convicted of involuntary manslaughter and felony child abuse. CBS aired the film made by Arquette, to which she said:

"I'm proud of CBS for saying yes to this movie. This is an important story to tell."

As many children are affected by these kinds of situations every year, it remains an important story to tell. 

Blood Glucose Meter.| Photo: Freepik

Blood Glucose Meter.| Photo: Freepik

In related news, the medical journal, “Diabetologia” published groundbreaking research done at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. 

Research led to the development of an AGE (advanced glycation end-product) Reader. The device works by casting a light on a patient’s skin to reach a diagnosis of diabetes. Medical Xpress explained how the device works:

“Light excites fluorescent moieties in the tissue, and these will reflect the light with a different wavelength as a result. In the wavelength band used for this study, the major contribution in fluorescence comes from fluorescent AGEs. The emitted light was detected with the use of a spectrometer or photodiodes.”

Non-invasive, and taking only seconds, this test can be administered anywhere and at any time and can aid in the prevention of complications and determine the state of diabetes.

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