Thar’s gold in that thar chelation!

One of the common refrains you’ll hear from alties about “conventional” medicine is that it’s a business, that it’s all about money. Never mind that, for instance, it’s not uncommon for primary care doctors like family practice and pediatricians to net well under $100,000 a year and that many physicians are struggling to maintain their practices, squeezed between lower reimbursements and higher office expenses. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not claiming that most doctors aren’t making a comfortable living. Most are. Some even do quite well, particularly procedure-intensive specialties, although the crappy reimbursement for bread-and-butter operations like hernia repairs means that a lot of general surgeons are being squeezed too. In contrast, if you live in altie-world, all “allopathic” doctors live in mansions, drive only the priciest BMWs, Mercedes, and other luxuryc cars, own yachts, and eat caviar every night. (OK, that last one is an exaggeration, even in altie-world.)

In contrast, the poor, dedicated naturopath or alternative medical physician seeks only to bring his or her healing to the masses. Money doesn’t matter, and they only charge enough to make a modest income. At least, so the clichė, which I’ve heard over and over and over, seems to go. Apparently Dr. Kalpana Patel didn’t get the message:

The investor who lost the most money in the Al Parish investment collapse is a doctor from Buffalo, N.Y.

The $30 million in savings that Dr. Kalpana Patel entrusted to him appears to be about half the total cash lost.

If the accounting is correct, the losses sustained by the 62-year-old allergist would dwarf the $8.4 million in cash turned over by Parish’s bosses at Charleston Southern University seeking what the former professor advertised as explosive returns.

Wow. How many doctors can afford to invest $30 million in anything? While I feel bad for anyone who gets swindled, I have to wonder. Moreover, she thought she had a much bigger portfolio:

“That’s $30 million cold, hard cash,” Dantzler said.

“In her mind, it’s not a $30 million loss, but a $200 million loss,” he said, referring to the amount that she believed was in her portfolio.

In court last week, Dantzler described the investor as a woman “on the cusp of retirement” from a lucrative career.

I’ll say!

So, you may wonder, how could an allergist manage to amass that much green stuff to be able to lose? Here’s one indication:

Patel was with patients and unavailable for comment Friday, said an assistant who answered her business phone. Her specialties include pediatrics, environmental medicine and chelation therapy, a treatment for heavy metal poisoning.

Chelation therapy? Do tell. What other services does Dr. Patel offer? Inquiring minds want to know! A Google search was all it took to find her home page, where she describes her practice thusly:

Unique facility, less toxic environment, ideal place for young and old. We provide comprehensive treatment including therapy for ADD, Autism, Parkinson’s, Early Alzheimers, sauna, Detoxification, O2, Dry Eye Syndrome, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Macular Degeneration, and Tourette’s Syndrome. We incorporate ancient medicine, wisdom, and scientific advances.

And here’s a list of some of the “services” she offers:

Allergy Medicine

Energy Medicine

Anti-aging Medicine

Environmental Medicine

Applied Kinesiology

Enzyme Therapy

Ayurvedic Medicine

Herbal Medicine


Holistic Medicine

Bio-oxidative Medicine




Biological and Mercury Free Dentistry

Metabolic Medicine

Chelation Therapy

Neural Therapy


Nutritional Medicine

Diet Therapy

Orthomolecular Medicine


Preventive Medicine

Homeopathy, chelation therapy, detoxification, energy medicine, it’s a veritable cornucopia of woo. There’s even a type of woo that I’d never heard of before, and, knowing my interest in these topics, you probably are amazed that there’s any woo that I hadn’t heard of. I’m referring to “neural therapy.”

Here’s something that’s even more interesting, though: Apparently, Dr. Patel is a DAN! doctor. This means that she treats autistic children with all sorts of “biomedical interventions” of dubious or no value, including chelation therapy, transfer factor, secretin, and intravenous immunoglobulin, among others. It would appear that she’s making a very nice living off of (in part) the parents of autistic children who are desperate enough to try these unproven and likely ineffective “treatments.”

So, to all the alt-med mavens out there: If “allopathic” physicians are, as I’ve been accused of on occasion, of “profiting off of the illness” of their patients, what is Dr. Patel, who’s amassed a portfolio far greater than what all but a few “allopathic” physicians can dream of, a portfolio apparently so large that losing $30 million of “cold, hard cash” in a stock investment scam apparently didn’t bankrupt her, doing? Let me guess the answer: “Allopathic” doctors are “profiting” off the suffering of their patients and perpetuate that suffering, while “holistic” doctors like Dr. Patel are “treating the whole patient” and “curing” their patient; so it’s not troublesome that the latter can apparently amass a fortune worth at least several tens of millions of dollars. Of course, far be it from me to ask: If Dr. Patel was in it for altruism, why on earth was she pursuing dubious investment schemes promising impossibly high rates of return (Parish even invested in animation cells, fer cryin’ out loud!) and why didn’t she cash in her portfolio when she thought it had reacedh $200 million?

I tell ya, I’m in the wrong business.


  1. #1 S. Rivlin
    June 5, 2007

    The same reasons that have brought Dr. Patel into her medical practice also drove her to make her shady investments. It seems to me that she received the same medicine from her investment crooks that she prescribes for her patients. Maybe there is justice in the world after all. 😉

  2. #2 Vlad
    June 5, 2007

    30 Million. I wouldn’t mind that kind of portfolio. Here is an example of karma pay back. She wooed all those parents out of their money now she’s on the other end of the stick. Given the type of investments Al was making this can be argued as proof of her not using any evidence in any aspect of her life. Looks like she walked into someone better at wooing then she was.

    I’m in the wrong business as well. Hey if you want I can cook up some flashy blinking lights, have a Wicca friend of mine pray over it, get it to emit any frequency you want and make real money. Oh wait there one little problem; ethics snap there goes my Ferrari.

  3. #3 Joe
    June 5, 2007

    How can an MD do all that and still maintain her license? Maybe that would be a good topic for a post.

  4. #4 Sigma_Orionis
    June 5, 2007

    I must say that if the current trend some Medicals Faculties have: that of offering woo-filled “alternative” medicine courses as part of their curricula is not reversed, then the “alties” will have a point in a rather twisted way: Medicine would have completely become a “money driven business” and as such it “reinvents itself” to please its “customers” (sorry, I am not too good at speaking “Marketese”.

    I am not trying to say that is wrong for Medicine to be some sort of business, however, to me, including “alternative medicine” as part of its offerings because the “customer demands it” it’s too much “free market” for my taste

  5. #5 Jon
    June 5, 2007

    $30m… Damn those pesky ethics my parents drummed into me 🙁

    I guess it’s a shame that a few (more) scammers got even richer out of this. The really sad thing, though, is the risk that this loss might delay Patel’s retirement…

  6. #6 daedalus2u
    June 5, 2007

    Just another example showing the contrapositive of “you can’t cheat an honest man”.

  7. #7 Bartholomew Cubbins
    June 5, 2007

    *looks at wallet*

    Wow. Her money making scheme kicks ass.

    I smell some hikes in her service fees coming soon; that, and some “extra” services. “Oh, I know I had you on DMPS, but why not try a little Lupron. Just sign here.”

    The real sad part is that she’s just one in the crowd.

  8. #8 notmercury
    June 5, 2007

    Maybe the press will dig through her financials to follow up the story. I wonder what Jeff Bradstreet is worth and who handles his portfolio.

  9. #9 Coin
    June 5, 2007

    Here is an example of karma pay back. She wooed all those parents out of their money now she’s on the other end of the stick.

    Is it really that much of a setback? She may be out $30 million now, but she seems to be in in a pretty good position to make it back…

  10. #10 Dr. de Asis
    June 5, 2007

    Thanks for the tip Orac! Unforunately yes, I do believe this is the same doctor, the results of whose practice is demonstrated in the video on my site:
    The thing I’m worried about is now that she’s lost her nest egg, she’ll keep practicing.

  11. #11 anonimouse
    June 6, 2007

    This is akin to poor, villified, medical outcast Andrew Wakefield who recently purchased a multi-million dollar home in England.

  12. #12 scote
    June 6, 2007

    Ah, it would seem the nice “doctor” was treating the whole patient, including their wallet.

    As to the “You can’t cheat an honest man,” I’ve always hated that ridiculous aphorism because, one, it isn’t true and, two, it is a blame the victim mentality. Granted, I’m hard pressed to shed tears for an apparent con-woman who has apparently been conned in turn but not all cons are based on dishonest greed, or any kind of greed, for that matter. Case in point: victims of quacks and charlatans. They aren’t looking to get rich, only for help with their perceived problems or those problems the quacks manage to convince them they must have.

  13. #13 dc
    June 7, 2007

    There’s nothing wrong with either type of medicine, allopathic or homeopathic. Both avenues work effectively in the proper context, both have their docs that make a killing and both have their docs that struggle to get by…just as both have docs that are absolute whiz kids and perform their jobs with aplomb, both have docs that didnt do their due dilligence in training and are thus inferior.

    Stuff like chigung and acupuncture do work, and well – but the thing is, energy medicine is more something that one needs to work on for themselves. Its a harder road but it does have many benefits. One cant just go for a treatment and expect it to cure all sorts of illnesses – energy work is centered around disease prevention far moreso than treatment – people are lazy these days and dont want to do the leg work themselves! Case in point the article about the japanese stock market and the US housing market. Equate chigung to saving 25% of your income – its got to be done as a habit in order for it to really be effective.

    Look at those shaolin monks over in China – they pretty much never get sick and they live to a ripe old age in good health! Correlate that to the man who dilligently saves his money; both attain comfort in old age due to their lifelong efforts!

  14. #14 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    June 7, 2007

    There’s nothing wrong with either type of medicine, allopathic or homeopathic. Both avenues work effectively in the proper context

    What context is that for Homepathic?

    Look at those shaolin monks over in China – they pretty much never get sick and they live to a ripe old age in good health! Correlate that to the man who dilligently saves his money; both attain comfort in old age due to their lifelong efforts!

    Which is great except it does exactly zero to prove anything about “energy work”. Healthy diet and physical activity are a boon for anyones life expectancy but you can’t just wave your hands and say, It must be his life force or Chi or whatever.


    Parish is big news down here in Charleston. I love the fact he claimed amnesia when he first got busted.

  15. #15 Coin
    June 7, 2007

    There’s nothing wrong with either type of medicine, allopathic or homeopathic. Both avenues work effectively in the proper context

    What context is that for Homepathic?

    Making money?

  16. #16 Bronze Dog
    June 7, 2007

    Allopathy never worked. Combined with the gruesomeness of bleeding, that’s why it’s been dead for a hundred years or so.

    Homeopathy’s just a bunch of placebos, so it usually lacks the requisite gruesomeness. Then again, I could be wrong: You never really know which kinds of woo will succeed, and which will fail.

    That’s why I go for evidence-based medicine.

  17. #17 Laser Potato
    June 9, 2007

    Ah yes, allopathy: “when in doubt, drain the patient of blood.”

  18. #18 Flaky
    June 11, 2007

    What’s great about altie-“medicine” is that you don’t usually even need any medical education. I’ve half a mind to become a “healer” myself, trimming excess wallet contents from credulous fools. I could have a lucrative business bottling water into small vials and constructing devices with blinking LEDs.

  19. #19 informed
    December 13, 2007

    You didn’t get the facts, did you?

    Dr.Patel comes from a large wealthy Indian family of busy professionals who asked her to invest for them. It wasn’t just her money.

    As for her treatments, she gets her patients by word of satisfied healthier patients so something must be working or she’d be out of business. Her chelation patients have sonograms before and after treatment which patients take back to their primary doctors; so just feeling much better isn’t the only proof that it works. And some of her patients are doctors themselves who have seen the evidence.

  20. #20 notmercury
    December 13, 2007

    “informed: Her chelation patients have sonograms before and after treatment…”

    Right, because the best way to gauge efficacy of chelation therapy is to look for metals with ultrasound.

    Anyway, I guess Dr. Patel won’t claim her losses as her own then since the money belonged to her family?

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