Respectful Insolence

After last week’s Your Friday Dose of Woo, which featured an amazingly extravagant bit of woo that took up 10,000 webpages of some of most densely-packed woo language that I’ve ever seen, I feel the need for a change of pace. It’s time to simplify this week. After all, if I were to do nothing but woo on the order of sympathetic vibratory physics, the Wand of Horus, quantum homeopathy, or DNA activation every week, your brain might well fry. And, if your brain didn’t fry, my brain would for subjecting myself to such material week after week. Every so often, I need just a little wafer to cleanse the palate, so to speak.

Fortunately, I’ve found just the thing. Believe it or not, I used to like The Man Show. It just so happens that each episode of this show ended with girls on trampolines. It also just so happens that, besides exercise and allowing men to indulge their crude side, trampolines can be used for most marvelous woo:

The typical rebound mini-trampoline is about 3′ in diameter and 9″ high. It is safe, easy to use, and effective. Research has led some scientists to conclude that jumping on a mini-trampoline is possibly the most effective exercise yet devised by man, especially because of the effect rebounding has on the lymph in the body.

i-ab7f0b74f67bc786a9e48fc97dcbade7-lymphatic-system-detailed.jpg

And what, pray tell, is that effect? Sure, it’s exercise (although I tend to wonder if it’s as fantastic an exercise as the woomeisters responsible for this website claim), but it’s so much more than that. It’s a lymphatic rejuvenator and cleanser. But why do you need a lymphatic detoxifier? Because your cells are bathed in toxins, of course! At least, that’s what so many “alternative” practitioners will tell you, anyway. They’ll also tell you that your body, honed by countless generations of evolution, somehow can’t deal with those toxins without a lot of help, either in the form of colon cleanses, liver flushes, or chelation therapy, just to name a few. (One wonders how humans survived before these innovations; they probably drowned in their own toxins.) So what does all this have to do with the lymphatic system? This:

The human body needs to move. The lymph system bathes every cell, carrying nutrients to the cell and waste products away. Contrary to blood which is pumped by the heart, the lymph is totally dependent on physical exercise to move. Without adequate movement, the cells are left stewing in their own waste products and starving for nutrients, a situation which contributes to arthritis, cancer and other degenerative diseases as well as aging. Vigorous exercise such as rebounding is reported to increase lymph flow by 15 to 30 times.

The lymph fluid moves through channels called “vessels” that are filled with one way valves, so the lymph always moves in the same direction. The main lymph vessels run up the legs, up the arms and up the torso. This is why the vertical up and down movement of rebounding is so effective to pump the lymph.

Of course, no evidence is presented to support the contention that jumping on a trampoline does anything more for the lymph flow than any other sort of exercise. Nor is any evidence presented that increasing lymph flow does anything to cure all the diseases found listed in the website, but just trust them. After all, they have medical-looking diagrams; so they must know what they’re talking about, right? Well, not exactly. They’re smart enough to mix in a little fact, but then they go right off the deep end with it (the whole bit about cells being “left stewing in their own toxins,” for example) by saying things like this:

Many people have badly congested lymphatics and don’t even know it. At this time in our country the lymphatic system is the most over-looked system of the human body. In Europe stimulation of the lymph flow is the fourth most commonly prescribed medical treatment. Most U. S. healthcare practitioners seldom consider the lymphatic system’s critical role in preventing illness or its importance to the over all healing process. Some of the organs that are part of the lymphatic system are lymph nodes and lymph veins, the tonsils, adenoids, appendix and the spleen and you know what happens to those parts of the body whenever surgeons get close to them. Swollen glands, with which most of us are familiar, are symptomatic of blocked lymph nodes, which indicate a breakdown in the mechanical functioning of the lymphatic system. Other examples of congested lymphatics are:

Allergies
Prostatitis
Chronic Sinusitis
Heart disease
Eczema & other skin conditions
Loss of Energy
Fibrocystic disease
Chronic fatigue
Repetitive parasitic infections
Multiple Sclerosis
Edema
Lupus erythematosis
Inflammation
High blood pressure
Viral infections
Puffy eyes
Bacterial infections
Low back pain
Loss of Energy
Cancer
Ear or balance problems
Arthritis
Headaches
Cellulite
Excessive sweating
Obesity

Wow! Who knew that blocked lymphatics can cause basically any disease under the sun. I was always taught in medical school that blocked lymphatics caused a nasty condition called lymphedema. That’s the swelling of an extremity that can happen when the lymphatic drainage from that extremity is blocked, most commonly by surgery to remove the lymph nodes as part of the treatment of either breast cancer or melanoma but also by various parasitic infections. However, we’re talking serious obstruction here, not the vague “blockages” that this website claims. Trust me, if you have significant problems with your lymphatic drainage, you’ll know it. The involved extremity will swell. As for all the diseases that are claimed to be “caused” by lymphatic obstruction, they’re all more or less a crock. There is a tenuous link in some of the diseases (for example, lymphatic blockage of the breast and arm after surgery for breast cancer, often coupled with radiation to the breast, can predispose to a form of cancer called a lymphangiosarcoma. Even so, this is a pretty rare tumor, even after breast cancer surgery. In other words, under certain conditions, lymphatic blockage can predispose to cancer, but such cancers are still rare, and they are of only a very few types.

Somehow, I suspect that the rare lymphangiosarcoma after breast cancer is not what these woo-meisters had in mind.

But what about the benefits? They are myriad, of course:

Let’s talk about the eliminative organs, such as the bowels, kidneys, lungs, lymph system, or skin, for example. When a foreign substance is present, the body’s first reflex is to expel or eliminate it. When this elimination is suppressed by any means such as taking pharmaceutical drugs, for example, some of the foreign matter gets pushed back into the system. As elimination is blocked, the very substances the body is trying to eliminate become stored within the body, causing any number of disease symptoms. the body then becomes toxic. When this happens, the degenerative disease process begins.

The dreaded pharmaceutical drugs! Oh, no! Anything but that! Fortunately for you also, rebounding is also touted to be “good for the immune system. (But what “alternative” medicine website can resist making this claim?)

Naturally, though, if you want the maximal benefit from “rebounding” on a trampoline, it’s not enough just to jump up and down. Oh, no. You have to combine it with oxygen therapies, a detoxification diet, oral chelation therapy, and a variety of other woo. After all, if you buy a trampoline from them (helpfully able to handle up to 250 lbs.), they only get you once. If you buy various remedies and “detoxification” products from them, they’ve got you nailed on a regular basis.

Although you might never have expected it, think of “rebounding” as a “gateway” bit of woo to get you hooked. Sometimes the simplest bit of woo is still the best.

Comments

  1. #1 KeithB
    December 7, 2007

    This exact argument is used as to why horseback riding is healthful in a Goofy cartoon from the 50′s “How to Ride a Horse”

    They show an outline of a man and how his kidneys and liver end up in his feet after the bouncing around.

  2. #2 KeithB
    December 7, 2007

    The interesting thing about this woo is that it might actually pass an evidence based test. Of course, any benefit would be from the exercise and cardiovascular health, but you could show that bouncers live longer than non-bouncers.

  3. #3 Sergeant Zim
    December 7, 2007

    Keith, I don’t know how many bouncers you’ve met, but the guys watching the door at most of the nightclubs I’ve been to probably have a somewhat reduced lifespan. Between the amazing amount of red meat, free beer, and cigarette smoke they ingest, they tend to get pummelled by various unfriendly people from time to time. (j/k)

    Of course, watching an attractive, healthy young female jumping on a trampoline for a few minutes can probaly be shown to increase heart and respiration, reduce blood pressure, and stimulate endorphins – all of which are good for you.

  4. #4 Phy
    December 7, 2007

    I think my favorite bit is the oh-so-sinister “Some of the organs that are part of the lymphatic system are lymph nodes and lymph veins, the tonsils, adenoids, appendix and the spleen and you know what happens to those parts of the body whenever surgeons get close to them.

    Actually, I don’t know. Do they draw faces on them with Sharpie? Do they remove every bit of lymphatic system they can find and replace it with shredded wheat? Do they emit S-rays that activate the toxins and turn your spleen into a quivering lump of goo? Maybe it’s not S-rays, maybe it’s allopathic medical pheromones. Maybe they ignore your tonsils entirely because you’re getting knee surgery! Or maybe they sell the organs to zoos, for meat! WHY DON’T YOU TELL US WHAT YOU THINK HAPPENS, YOU FUD-HURLING FEARMONGER.

    There’s another claim in there, that “All cells in the body become stronger in response to the increased “G force” during rebounding, and this cellular exercise results in the self-propelled immune cells being up to 5 times more active.” So, since over time, the increased g-load experienced at the trampoline’s surface is balanced out by the freefall experienced in the air (and it has been definitively shown that long periods of freefall are detrimental to one’s health), one might expect that you could isolate this effect and obtain greater health benefits from strapping oneself into a centrifuge. Volunteers?

  5. #5 Sastra
    December 7, 2007

    I think one of the benefits of my having no medical background to speak of is that I can read these bits of woo and instinctively figure out what they’re appealing to. There’s some sort of folk-physics or analogy which makes their claims sound plausible.

    “Vigorous exercising will increase lymph flow” — you know like when you’ve got a cold and your nose is all stuffed up in the morning, but you get up and walk around and pretty soon you’re not so stuffy and you feel better? That lymph-congestion is flowing better. Yeah. Like that.

    “As elimination is blocked, the very substances the body is trying to eliminate become stored within the body, causing any number of disease symptoms: the body then becomes toxic.” — just the way you finally had to have the plumber come in when the toilet backed up. Or like what happens when you don’t get the dead mice out of the dryer vent. Think of what it would be like if you never went poo.

    Medicine is just common sense.

  6. #6 Dangerous Bacon
    December 7, 2007

    “Other examples of congested lymphatics are:
    …Repetitive parasitic infections”

    This gives me a great idea. Make the trampoline capable of giving the user an electric shock each time his/her body contacts it. This will zap away the parasites (in line with the teachings of Hulda Clark), plus the users will attempt to bounce higher to increase the intervals between shocks, thus further stimulating their sluggish lymph flow!

    Question, though — if you bounce away the toxins, where do they go? Maybe I can market an “Ionic Toxin Repellent System” to the neighbors of Toxin-Bouncers…

    “I think my favorite bit is the oh-so-sinister “Some of the organs that are part of the lymphatic system are lymph nodes and lymph veins, the tonsils, adenoids, appendix and the spleen and you know what happens to those parts of the body whenever surgeons get close to them.”

    Actually, I don’t know. Do they draw faces on them with Sharpie?”

    If they’re football fans, they might brand their team’s logo on the organ:

    http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/guiler1.html

  7. #7 daedalus2u
    December 7, 2007

    Orac, perhaps this is woo, but there are some types of vibratory treatments that appear not to be, for example

    http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2474/7/92

    and

    http://stroke.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/37/9/2331

    and

    http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2318/5/17

    Of course these tests used lower amplitude vibrations, and were tested on the elderly and post-menopausal women, so perhaps some of the effects of jumping on trampolines were not replicated.

    I suspect the vibratory effects have to do with nitric oxide physiology. Bone strain generates NO, and it is this NO signal that triggers bone deposition by osteoblasts and the lack of NO triggers resorption by osteoclasts. Of course young women jumping on trampolines can also trigger an NO mediated process (tumescence) in men watching them. Understanding how simply watching a process that stimulates NO in young women also stimulates NO mediated processes in men is something that deserves much more study.

  8. #8 KeithB
    December 7, 2007

    Seargent Zim wrote:
    “Of course, watching an attractive, healthy young female jumping on a trampoline for a few minutes can probaly be shown to increase heart and respiration, reduce blood pressure, and stimulate endorphins – all of which are good for you.”

    Stephanie Miller referred to a British study that claimed exactly that, that watching a woman’s chest for 15 minutes a day would increase lifespan. I am afraid I do not know any other details.

  9. #9 Patrick
    December 7, 2007

    Funny, but the 2x hernia repairman, jaw mover (bimax), and septal undeviator/turbinate electrucoter didn’t appear in any way interested in my tonsils, adenoids or appendix, in fact, they appear to have avoided them like the plague somehow.

  10. #10 Trevor Butterworth
    December 7, 2007

    I’m confused by the bit on the website which warns women about the carcinogenic effects of wearing a bra – are women supposed to trampoline bra-less for maximum lymph flow?

  11. #11 Trevor Butterworth
    December 7, 2007

    And do note the rather troubling advice that bouncing up and down will supposedly address ear and balance problems, associated with “congested” lymph. I’m no lawyer, but I reckon the result of someone with balance problems hitting a mini trampoline for its curative properties is a lawsuit waiting to happen…

  12. #12 Sastra
    December 7, 2007

    Look, it’s simple. Go to your local Y. Go find the room where they’re bouncing on the trampoline, and note the general level of health and energy. Then go find the room where they’re sitting still and playing Bingo, and do the same.

    Which group looks more congested?

    You don’t need a study. Science is just common sense.

  13. #13 ebohlman
    December 7, 2007

    Your Friday woo-inspired band names:
    Congested Lymphatics
    Self-propelled Immune Cells

  14. #14 Elliot Yudenfriend
    December 7, 2007

    Anyone wishing to see photos of what Rituxan PLUS rebounding did to a softball-sized tumor in my neck and jaw just send me an email address. I will send you stunning photos of shrinkage achieved over just a 6 week period. Rebounding is more properly termed “lymphasizing,” and those who are making fun of it are hyenas=idiots.

  15. #15 Elliot
    December 7, 2007

    It appears assinine to me to have a blog that talks so much about a nonsense term—”woo”—without having any definition of the term on the site. I checked “woo” in wikipedia, and there is nothing about any use of the word “woo” the way it is apparently being used here.

  16. #16 tim gueguen
    December 7, 2007

    Woo serves as a nice shorthand for regular visitors here. Its a lot easier to use than writing “nonsense that has no medical value that is believed in by the guillible” over and over again.

  17. #17 HCN
    December 7, 2007

    Elliot, you must familiarize yourself with the Skeptic’s Dictionary. Here you go:
    http://www.skepdic.com/woowoo.html

    Also, it has been discussed (found by using the little search window on the left with the words “woo define”):
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2006/08/reader_mailbag_what_is_woo_1.php

    Perhaps in the future Orac can put that last link in all future “Friday Dose of Woo.” It could be helpful to those who did not waste hours and hours on Usenet newsgroups like sci.skeptic and misc.health.alternative (okay, I confess I no longer go to sci.skeptic, but I do still visit m.h.a.).

  18. #18 Elliot Yudenfriend
    December 7, 2007

    I suggest you post a definition of “woo” at the top of the blog. As for rebounding, I agree that there are some statements made about rebounding for which it is impossible to find proof. However, I suggest you seriously denigrate the exercise of rebounding only after you have done it for a month for 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week, without doing any other additional exercise. The only thing I need in addition to rebounding is some light weight-training. Rebounding does not, from all I have seen, address what I feel to be the necessity of weight-training. And since I do not wish to be one of those people who, at 65 or 70, begins complaining about “how heavy” the quart of orange juice is to lift and pour, I need to get busy doing some weight training. (Another excellent thing for middle-agers like me to do is kegels! A great way to avoid becoming incontinent.)

    But about rebounding, I read, when I had a tumor the size of a softball in my neck and jaw, in Guyton’s 7th edition of “Medical Physiology,” that “one minute of strenuous exercise can double the number of circulating lymphocites and keep them at that level for about an hour.”

    I then received infusions of Rituxan, an artificial monoclonal antibody that attaches itself to the CD-20 antigen on B-cells, signaling the immune system(the lymphocites)to attack those B-cells. While I was receiving the Rituxan, I got on my rebounder once every hour and ran in place as hard and fast as I could. I feel confident, though I will almost certainly never be able to prove it, that the hourly exercise I did on the rebounder potentiated the effect of the Rituxan by greatly increasing the number of circulating lymphocytes.

    I had gotten Rituxan one time before, and it had shrunk a tumor that was about 3 inches in diameter by .5 cm. The second round of cancer treatment usually results in LESSER, not greater, results, yet this second time the Rituxan shrunk a 6 inch diameter tumor down to nothing!

    Do not knock rebounding till you have tried it for a month. And when I say rebounding, I mean using a “soft-bounce” exercise machine that will run around 225 dollars with shipping, not a 20 dollar K-Mart toy.

    Elliot

  19. #19 Elliot
    December 7, 2007

    Sorry for spelling of “lymphocytes.” Got it right the third of fourth time!

  20. #20 Elliot
    December 7, 2007

    If you would like to see some astounding photos—(you may be grossed out, but you will not be disappointed)—of the tumor “before” treatment with Rituxan and Rebounding and “after” Rituxan and Rebounding, click on one or the other of the links below. One link goes directly to the photos. But I am not sure you will be able to get to the photos without joining the group. If you join the group in order to see the photos, you certainly do not have to remain a member, and I promise not to spam you or to bother you in any way due to your joining.

    http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/never_do_harm_to_anyone/

    http://health.ph.groups.yahoo.com/group/never_do_harm_to_anyone/photos

    Elliot

  21. #21 Kassiane
    December 8, 2007

    Until I broke my foot, I was a competitive gymnast, tumbler, and trampolinist (yeah, on a REAL trampoline. The 20 feet in the air kind).

    You’d think I wouldnt have gotten whooping cough and about a zillion colds at the gym if this was anything but BS, right?

    Heck, I’d have cured myself of all that ever ailed me! And that was quite a list!

    Wait.

    I didn’t.

    If there was anything to this, humanity should have died out before Nissen (inventor of the first trampoline) had his bright idea. Well, everyone except the Inuit, who have been tossing each other on water-mammal skin for centuries.

    Kassiane,
    who thinks that swinging bars would be better for this purpose if it really existed, nothing like centrifugal force and all…

  22. #22 Marcus Ranum
    December 8, 2007

    why horseback riding is healthful

    Presumably, that doesn’t include when you get bucked off onto your head (as I have) – or is that “shaken, not stirred”??

  23. #23 daedalus2u
    December 8, 2007

    Kassiane, there is an important question about a confounding factor that I just have to ask. Were you wearing a bra? If you were, that may have completely negated the benefits of bouncing around for multiple hours a day, multiple days a week ;)

  24. #24 Hank Roberts
    December 8, 2007

    > Other examples of congested lymphatics are:
    > …Repetitive parasitic infections

    See? If your lymphatics weren’t congested, you wouldn’t get trolls posting in your blog.

  25. #25 kassiane
    December 8, 2007

    Daedalus,

    Anyone who tells any woman to jump on a trampoline without a bra (and Im not particularly, erm, curvy) is either sadistic, a sicko who just wants to watch, or both. I can assure you, however, that centrifugal force exists regardless.

    But more on bars than on trampoline. Trampoline exists mostly for seeing if you’re telling the truth when you say you aren’t afraid of heights.

  26. #26 DLC
    December 9, 2007

    Uh, right. so, trampoline-bouncing is good for you ?
    Then, following the time-honored pseudoscience practice of “more is better”, having yourself hoiked into the air by a giant bungee-cord slingshot should be the next super-cure.
    As a matter of fact, it should even lead to immortality.
    (on the Darwin Awards pages anyway)

  27. #27 pkiwi
    December 9, 2007

    Is this a double-entendre free zone or something???
    No reaction to “vibratory treatments”????

  28. #28 famulus
    December 9, 2007

    I think the warning against wearing a bra may be a reference to another bit of pseudoscience alleging that wearing a bra causes cancer. (There are different versions of the story – sometimes it’s just underwire bras, or if you wear ‘em 24/7, or if you wear ‘em too tight, or if you wear ‘em at all.) See http://www.all-natural.com/bras.html, where you’ll find the delightful assertion that “The results of this study are compelling, even considering that it was not a ‘controlled study’ for other risk factors.” Um, yeah.

    I agree with kassiane. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

  29. #29 KeithB
    December 10, 2007

    Marcus, this was a Goofy cartoon, there was plenty of falling off the horse and bouncing on your head. 8^)

  30. #30 Tyciol
    January 30, 2008

    Hey Elliot, while I’m not saying it didn’t help, your experience is anecdotal/testimonial and not a controlled scientific study. Sometimes tumours just regress, it’s not necessarily caused by the rebounding. Of course, were I in your situation, I would still want to investigate the potential situation further and would definately not stop rebounding.