A reader of ours ran into a questionable book ad, and being a good citizen, sent it on to me. I glanced at it, and it seemed to be the usual silly book purporting to cure all that ails, but on deeper inspection, it was much uglier.
The book says that it “renders insulin and related medicines unnecessary within four days…”. This is a bit scary, not because this would be a bad thing, but because many diabetics are completely dependent on insulin to live. But, hey, maybe this is a good diet plan for type II diabetics and will at least help them reduce their need for meds. I mean, it could be, right? A quick trip to google disabused me of any thoughts of intellectual generosity.
Dr. Gabriel Cousens is the writer who promises to get you off insulin. While I applaud the idea of healing people, his claims are obviously suspicious. I mean, why are the rest of us so ignorant that we are blindly keeping diabetics on all these evil medicines?
Cousens runs an outfit called Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center, but based on reports, it sounds like a waiting room for the morgue. Cousens claims to be an M.D., and an “M.D. (H)”, which the State of Arizona’s way of letting quacks practice medicine. The “Dr.” in question lost his license to practice in two other states before he was forced to look to the Arizona Board.
The Phoenix News-Times did a nice job with this issue, and with this quack in particular. I encourage you to go read the entire piece. According to their report:
Cousens told him [a deceased patient whose family is suing him] that injections of cow adrenaline and/or sheep DNA could energize his body. Levy agreed to five injections, which aren’t a homeopathic treatment but are allowed by Arizona’s homeopathic board.
Unfortunately, the injection site — on Levy’s right buttock — grew infected, so he went to see Cousens about it. Cousens didn’t recommend an antibiotic. Instead, he treated the growing abscess with acupuncture and massage.
The infected area became green and black. It spread down Levy’s thigh, and on March 1, 1998, Levy did not wake up in his dorm room at the Tree of Life Spa. Cousens found Levy unconscious and attempted CPR, with no success.
Cousens did not call 911. Instead, he called an air ambulance, and arranged for a helicopter pickup on the football field of a nearby high school.
Wow. Why didn’t he just shoot the guy in the head? It would have had the same effect and taken a lot less time and money.
But wait, there’s more:
Santa Cruz County Medical Examiner Dr. Cynthia Porterfield…examined Levy’s body and ruled that the injection and subsequent infection killed him. Specifically, she found that Levy died from Clostridium perfringens…The osteopathic medical board also examined the autopsy and ruled that the medical examiner was right to name the injection and infection as the causes of death….But when Cousens’ dead patient came up before the homeopathic board in 2001, the board dismissed the complaint — despite the medical examiner’s findings.
The board ruled that, though a patient did die, the doctor did not violate any laws of homeopathic medicine.
So basically, the Arizona board is allowed to give out “00” status—“licensed to kill”.
And who stands behind this killer? Waddya know! It’s Mike Adams, of the newly-christened “Natural News”, the home of quackery on the web. Adams’s interview of Cousens is basically a listing of anti-scientific ideas, such as raw-foodism. Among the more humorous claims is that being “holistic” allows him to “do it all”, including medicine, psychiatry, and family counseling.
But back to basics.
Orac, in a moment of
inebriation clarity, stumbled upon the idea of “scientific-medicine denialism“. It connects the patterns of typical denialism to alternative medicine. We need ways to systematically study these phenomena, and this is a step in the right direction. To someone like me, trained in the field, and experienced at sniffing out quackery, the original book advertisement that started this post is clearly suspicious, and led me to find the newspaper reports detailing the carnage this guy is leaving in his wake. But to the untrained, perhaps a diabetic, an ad like this will seem tempting. They may pick up the book and find it to be of no use. Sure, they ended up lining the quack’s pockets, but no direct harm came to them. But maybe an insulin-dependent diabetic will read this book, follow the advice, and die. Perhaps some day, someone with a good grant will start to formally study medical crankism and quackery. Until then, be very, very careful.