Respectful Insolence

Thank you, Mike Adams. You’ve saved my blogging posterior yet again.

What do I mean? Well, I had originally intended to do a lucid, insightful, penetrating analysis of a scientific study today. However, when I got home last night after a hard day in clinic I was just too tired. So, faced with that, I had a choice: either no bloggy for you tomorrow, or I could take on something that wasn’t quite so–shall we say?–demanding, something more in line with what my fragile eggshell mind could deal with after a 12 hour day at work.

Enter woo-meister supreme, Mike Adams. And, boy, is he ticked off.

What ticked him off? Amusingly, it happens to be something that provoked an intensely enjoyable feeling of schadenfreude in me, specifically the warning letter that the FDA and FTC sent to that cuddly, fuzzy master of interdigitating woo and medicine to the point where it’s impossible for the uninitiated to tell what is scientific medicine and what is quackery, Dr. Andrew Weil. The reason Weil got slapped down by the FDA and FTC is that he was selling dubious herbal flu remedies containing astragalus on his website, as this screenshot shows. The FDA issued a warning letter on October 15 telling Dr. Weil to cease and desist because, the FDA concluded, his claims were clearly “intended to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, treat or cure the H1N1 Flu Virus in people.”

Mike Adams is not happy about this. Not happy at all. So unhappy was he to hear about this horrific event that he whipped off one of his typical logic-impaired screeds entitled FDA, FTC threaten Dr. Weil over immune-boosting supplements for H1N1 swine flu.

The woo, it flows, like burning gasoline of flaming stupid:

In working to protect the business interests of vaccine manufactures, both the FDA and FTC have declared all-out war against any products that might offer consumers options other than vaccines. This week, that war against natural remedies reached the shores of Dr. Andrew Weil, who is perhaps the best-known alternative medicine doctor in America. In an intimidating, threatening letter jointly issued by the FTC and the FDA, these rogue government agencies threatened Dr. Weil with criminal prosecution for making true statements about his immune-boosting formula such as, “Astragalus … is … used traditionally to ward off colds and flu, and has demonstrated both antiviral and immune-boosting effects in scientific investigation.”

This statement, although scientifically valid and true, is a threat to the profits of the vaccine industry, and so Dr. Weil’s company is being targeted by the FTC / FDA vaccine racket tag-team for termination.

Ah, yes. It’s obviously (once again!) nothing more than a plot by big pharma and the government to protect the obscene profits that can be made by flu vaccines! It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with wanting to protect the public from dubious claims, at least not in Mike Adam’s paranoid fantasy world. There couldn’t be anything wrong with Dr. Weil, who is actually arguably the best-known “alternative medicine” practitioner in the U.S., going a woo too far and making unsupportable claims about an herbal remedy, claiming it can ward off the flu. But bemoaning what he perceives to be the overreach of the government is not enough for Adams. It never is. In fact, Adams hasn’t reached his paranoia quota for the day if he can’t start throwing around the words “tyranny” and “criminal”:

Do you now see what a criminal racket the vaccine industry is running in America by invoking these tactics of tyranny? This is the kind of thing you might expect to see in China, where government officials arrest Falun Gong members who attempt to meditate in public, but you wouldn’t think that in the United States of America — “Land of the Free” — you’d be threatened with arrest and financial ruin for simply telling the truth about a powerful herb with scientifically-validated medicinal properties.

Tyranny. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. (Sorry. I couldn’t resist. That’s become one of my new favorite quotes. Don’t worry; I’m sure I’ll grow tired of it and latch onto another quote.) Adams’ analogy is also a non sequitur, but perhaps a Freudian slip of a non sequitur. After all, Adams likens the FDA cracking down on “alternative medicine” remedies to the Chinese government suppressing a religion. Unintentionally, Adams has likened The various herbs and other woo that Weil sells to “protect against the flu” to a religious cult. Methinks thismay be one of the most unintentionally truthful things Adams has ever said. Alternative medicine is very much akin to a religion.

But that analogy isn’t enough for Adams. Get a load of what he lays down a little later in the article:

This is similar to the way in which blacks were prevented from voting in America throughout the 20th century. The people who controlled the voting booths would issue “IQ tests” to anyone who tried to vote. The tests were rigged to fail all blacks while allowing whites to easily pass (and therefore vote).

The whole system was rigged from the start to create the illusion of fairness even though the outcome had already been pre-decided. This same brand of racism is now operating in modern medicine, except it’s drugism instead of racism. But the outcome has already been decided by the FDA just the same: All natural products will be denied, while all vaccines will be approved. This is how the system is rigged.

Wow. Just wow. The drug testing and safety bureaucracy of the U.S. is just like Jim Crow! Mike Adams says so! Don’t you see it? Except it’s not racism. It’s “drugism.” Because favoring drugs whose efficacy has been validated by science over supplements and herbs whose efficacy has not is just like keeping black people from voting, because–don’t you know–being able to sell pseudoscientific woo to the masses is a right, dammit! Once again, Adams’ choice of a metaphor reveals where he’s really coming from, which is the belief that any quack should have the right to sell whatever quackery he wants to anyone he wants any time he wants, and the government should let him.

Can Mike go for the trifecta? I think you know the answer to that one:

If you really think about what’s going on here with the FTC / FDA intimidation tactics, you realize that if a pandemic really does start to kill people, it is these FTC / FDA bureaucrats who will have blood on their hands.

Sounds a bit like projection to me. But it’s really not enough. It’s par for the course for Mike Adams to accuse the government of murder. Nothing interesting there, and it’s still missing that one last over-the-top bit to make a Mike Adams post a Mike Adams post. Indeed, without that element, I have a hard time identifying a true Mike Adams post. Can you guess what that element is? If you’re a regular reader here, I bet you can. If you can’t, well, there’s only one thing to do, and that’s keep reading to find out. When Adams is on a roll on the crazy train, as he is in this post, there’s only one way it can finish:

As you’ve figured out, the whole game is rigged from the start. Herbs that have anti-viral properties will never be approved as anti-virals. And, frankly, for the people running natural product companies to try to play the “FDA game” is useless. You can never appease tyranny. Trying to “conform” to the requirements of the FDA and FTC is like Jewish prisoners trying to conform to the wishes of Hitler.

Ding ding ding ding ding! We have a winner! That’s right, we have a Hitler Zombie-worthy invocation of Hitler. Now we have a real Mike Adams post. Because, you know, trying to win FDA approval for an herbal remedy is just like Jews being thrown into the gas chamber by the Nazis.

On second thought, I take back my thanks to Mike Adams. He may have saved my blogging ass yet one more time by providing me with such a juicy and–shall we say?–target rich environment to let me crank out yet another post. However, now I feel like I need a shower after reading his Black Helicopter-level paranoid rants comparing the reasonable enforcement of a reasonable law to Hitler persecuting and killing Jews.

Comments

  1. #1 Pablo
    October 23, 2009

    I guess I don’t understand. If “anti-viral herbs” are safe and effective against the flu, why don’t they just do the proper tests and show the FDA?

    Of course, I actually do understand it, just fine, thank you.

  2. #2 titmouse
    October 23, 2009

    EXPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLDDDDDDDDD!

  3. #3 Elipson SoulLight
    October 23, 2009

    Good lord! Funny thing is that if ‘The Government’ really was the way Mike Adams describes it, he would be writing that letter from inside a jail cell. But I must say, that is a wonderful post! I specially liked the wild stab at the Hitler connection!

  4. #4 Denice Walter
    October 23, 2009

    (AP):NY has rescinded the “mandatory” H1N1 vaccine for health care workers,not because of the woo meisters’ “persuasive”(sic) legal arguments (see Gary Null.com), but because the vaccine is in *short supply*.I wonder how Adams will spin that?

  5. #5 Greg
    October 23, 2009

    Have there been any tests of the efficacy of this astralagus herb? Dissecting the rest of Adam’s rant is fun, but he is basing ALL of his anger on one assumption: that this herb truly is effective. If there is no evidence or studies that show no efficacy, nothing else matters.

  6. #6 Voice 0'Reason
    October 23, 2009

    If there is no evidence or studies that show no efficacy, nothing else matters.

    Aw, evidence is so… Western. It’s enough that he feels that it must work!

  7. #7 Denice Walter
    October 23, 2009

    More flaming stupid from Adams- (re: my question @4).Adams’ spin on the “real reason” for NY state’s action- see NaturalNews.Mike *never* disappoints.

  8. #8 T. Bruce McNeely
    October 23, 2009

    Funny thing is that if ‘The Government’ really was the way Mike Adams describes it, he would be writing that letter from inside a jail cell.

    We can dream, can’t we?

  9. #9 Scott
    October 23, 2009

    More flaming stupid from Adams- (re: my question @4).Adams’ spin on the “real reason” for NY state’s action- see NaturalNews.Mike *never* disappoints.

    I love the way he completely destroys his own argument at the end of the article.

    “Look! They didn’t just move the deadline, so obviously they don’t intend to require the vaccine again once it’s in ample supply!”

    Followed by…

    “Oh, but they could just reinstate the requirement once there’s enough vaccine, so we need to be watchful!”

  10. #10 tlen
    October 23, 2009

    definitely not worth the read, ‘orac.’

  11. #11 cm
    October 23, 2009

    “Methinks thismay be one of the most unintentionally truthful things Adams has ever said. Alternative medicine is very much akin to a religion.”

    What makes you think that science and religion are separate and distinguishable spheres? They have historically been connected and continue to be today. So, Dr Weil, “chinese cults,” and big pharma vaccines are all both about science and religion.

  12. #12 Scott
    October 23, 2009

    @11:

    That’s just utterly and completely wrong. There is nothing the least bit religious about vaccination or any other aspect of science.

    It’s true that religious organizations have historically had some involvement in science, but that’s largely because they’ve historically been involved in EVERYTHING. The concepts of religion and science are quite distinct.

  13. #13 Dangerous Bacon
    October 23, 2009

    Just so it’s clear – the FDA didn’t send a warning letter to Weil because he said that astragalus has immune-boosting properties. They administered this slap on the wrist because Weil was touting his own supplement formula for this purpose. The FDA quotes Weil thusly, in a section on his website dealing with H1N1 flu:

    “”[D]uring the flu season, I suggest taking a daily antioxidant, multivitamin-mineral supplement, as well as astragalus, a well-known immune-boosting herb that can help ward off colds and flu. You might also consider. .. the Weil Immune Support Formula[,] which contains both astragalus and immune-supportive polypore mushrooms ….”

    On a product webpage describing the Immune Support Formula:

    “The Immune Support Formula contains astragalus. . . . Astragalus … is used traditionally to ward off colds and flu and has been well studied for its antiviral and immunity-enhancing properties.”

    Even these statements likely wouldn’t have gotten the FDA to act, except that the agency does not like the prospect of a public worried about H1N1 flu being taken advantage of by alt med hucksters – and Weil linked his formula to preparing oneself against H1N1.

    Mike Adams is not the first of the “health freedom” nutbars to compare alt med promoters to civil rights advocates. In one of the most outrageous examples, Terry Rondberg of the World Chiropractic Association got into a nuclear snit over a patient advocacy group putting billboard ads on buses to warn about the danger of chiropractic-induced strokes. Rondberg likened this criticism of chiropractic neck cracking to forcing Rosa Parks to sit in the back of the bus.

    Just remember, folks, when you get confused by the rhetoric:

    “Health freedom” means “the freedom to sell anything I want, no matter how useless or how I stretch the truth to market it”.

    “Tyranny” means “any effort by consumer advocates or government entities to crack down on quackery.

    So simple, really.

  14. #14 how
    October 23, 2009

    What makes you think that science and religion are separate and distinguishable spheres? They have historically been connected and continue to be today. So, Dr Weil, “chinese cults,” and big pharma vaccines are all both about science and religion.

    The Burning Stupid Sweepstakes? We have a winner!

  15. #15 Marishka
    October 23, 2009

    I so want to father his children…

  16. #16 James Sweet
    October 23, 2009

    So my wife is on a local mailing list about farming and local produce/meat/etc., and it often has some good stuff I’m really interested in. Recently, a big thing on the list has been unpasteurized milk (which I saw recently came up here).

    She forwarded me an article about it, and I got about two paragraphs in before my quack-o-meter started to go into full throttle (and I say this as someone who has a bit of sympathy for the unpasteurized milk thing, see below). I check the source and, what do you know, it was penned by our buddy Mike Adams. I immediately pointed my wife to your post about Adams pissing on the grave of Patrick Swayze, and she was like, “Oh, nevermind.” heh…

    (Now, in the interest of full disclosure: Personally, I like to sample unpasteurized milk/milk products every now and then because they do indeed have a different flavor. I am willing to tolerate the relatively small level of risk in exchange for a bit of culinary adventure — but I don’t make a habit out of it, I would not give it to my son, and I certainly am not one of those crackpots who believe that unpasteurized milk has some incredible mythical health benefits and that the USDA is in the pocket of Big Farma, pushing this pasteurized milk on us for nefarious reasons. Yeah… that’s crazy.)

  17. #17 Escuerd
    October 23, 2009

    What makes you think that science and religion are separate and distinguishable spheres?

    The fact that one is a methodology for determining reality by empirical observation and that the other is a set of beliefs held to fervently irrespective of evidence.

    So, Dr Weil, “chinese cults,” and big pharma vaccines are all both about science and religion.

    Please elaborate on what Falun Gong has to do with science and what vaccine has to do with religion (preferably in something other than a vague generality).

  18. #18 Todd W.
    October 23, 2009

    @Pablo

    I guess I don’t understand. If “anti-viral herbs” are safe and effective against the flu, why don’t they just do the proper tests and show the FDA?

    Because clearly the FDA would deny any and all clinical trials and applications for such competing products. The FDA is only interested in squashing competition, after all. Well, except for different companies competing against each other who provide sufficient evidence to support their product. That’s allowed, but no other competition.

    Then again, the competing companies are probably all owned by the same Illuminati reptilian overlords that control the government. Right?

  19. #19 Kismet
    October 23, 2009

    Scientifically validated? I don’t think it means what you think it means, ranger boy. So love that phrase!
    Greg,
    I don’t think there’s anything we’d consider meaningful evidence for the use of Astragalus to prevent viral infections, UTRIs or some such.
    Just guessing but if anything comes close maybe it’s PMID: 12800417 and
    “Treatment of leucopenia with pure Astragalus preparation – an analysis of 115 leucopenic cases.” and some other papers of unkown quality as per this old mini-review: Altern Med Rev. 2003 Feb;8(1):72-7.
    Interestingly all those papers are rather old, obscure and/or Chinese.

  20. #20 James Sweet
    October 23, 2009

    What makes you think that science and religion are separate and distinguishable spheres? They have historically been connected and continue to be today.

    Firstly, historical connections are irrelevant. It was once true that vitalism was intimately connected with science — in fact, was science — and that it was the precursor to the earliest serious investigations into chemistry and biology. But I think anybody who is arguing that vitalism is part of science today is deeply deluded…

    Secondly, even if the connections do continue in the sense that some world religions are lending some support to science (though they are most certainly not the sponsors they once were), that still doesn’t mean you can’t draw a delineation between the two. I mean, the federal government funds research about drug addiction — does that mean you can’t distinguish Congress from crack addicts?! (Okay, bad example, but…)

  21. #21 History Punk
    October 23, 2009

    As a dabbler in the history of medicine (I took a graduate class and writing a paper arguing for a big role for conspicuous consumption in the shaping of obstetrics, I can tell you that herbal remedies were tried, for thousands of years. The failure of herbal conjurings, fruit potions, and magic tonics is a big factor in why scientific medicine is the dominant form of health care today. If Adams and Weil’s herbal smoothies cured cancer (for example), Orac’s hospital administrator would fire him flat out. After all, why pay Orac’s salary when you pay barely legal wages to some teenager to dispense Adams’ latest cure and spend the savings on Coke and hooker binges. But Weil’s beliefs are goofy, daft, and without results.

  22. #22 Dave
    October 23, 2009

    I just made a quick pass through PubMed and there didn’t appear to be any studies at all about Astragalus and influenza. Its antiviral properties have been studied, but I didn’t see anything about how it does against either colds or flu.

  23. #23 James Sweet
    October 23, 2009

    To build on what History Punk said, the legacy of what has happened to the few herbal remedies that did work (willow bark, anyone?) should dissuade anyone from thinking there is a cure-all just waiting to be discovered. I suppose it’s conceivable something as medically significant as aspirin has still been overlooked, but I wouldn’t bet money on it…

  24. #24 Pen
    October 23, 2009

    What I would like to know, Orac, is what woo you are using that enables you even to write coherent sentences after a 12-hour day. I can’t seem to manage it myself. Come on, admit your secret! Is it homeopathic printer ink? Magnetic computer memory bracelets? Or what?

  25. #25 Todd W.
    October 23, 2009

    @Pen

    Homeopathic sleep.

  26. #26 Greg
    October 23, 2009

    Kismet, Dave. Thanks for the search and response. The FDA is well within their right to inhibit the sale of a product that advertises benefits that have not been proven, or require the seller to change the language (as we are all aware). Mr. Adams doesn’t have a leg to stand on, then, which probably explains why he stretches so far beyond reason to influence the reader to agree with him – to mask the fundamentals which are lacking.

  27. #27 studio34
    October 23, 2009

    Another entertaining post Orac! Thanks for the Saturday morning chuckle. S

  28. #28 jre
    October 23, 2009

    [T]he legacy of what has happened to the few herbal remedies that did work (willow bark, anyone?) should dissuade anyone from thinking there is a cure-all just waiting to be discovered. I suppose it’s conceivable something as medically significant as aspirin has still been overlooked, but I wouldn’t bet money on it…

    It’s hard to call the odds on that possible event, but many are more sanguine than you are — including pharmaceutical companies spending serious R&D bucks on robotic pipetters and screening systems to find (not synthesize) the next blockbuster drug. By the way — the discipline dedicated to finding useful bioactive chemicals in the natural world is known as pharmacognosy, and is the special province of Orac’s SB colleague Abel Pharmboy. Worth a look.

  29. #29 Pareidolius
    October 24, 2009

    This week, that war against natural remedies reached the shores of Dr. Andrew Weil, who is perhaps the best-known alternative medicine doctor in America.

    Now I know ol’ Andy could be described as a bit tubby, but really, he has a shoreline now? You’d think all that healthy livin’ would allow him to trim down a bit. If he lost some weight then he’d just have cliffs then and it would make him harder to invade . . . except for the black helicopters, they could just land on his bald spot and the FDA shocktroops could repel down through his beard.

    Hey, it makes as much sense as what Mike Adams wrote . . .

  30. #30 Kathryn
    October 24, 2009

    I should print out the FDA letter and send it to my former primary care doc, who liked to quote Dr. Weil’s recommendations at me. I fired her and found one who could actually read blood test results instead of reading alt-med nonsense.

  31. #31 Erin
    October 24, 2009

    Yeah we have on of these same snake oil salesmen drumming up interest in his so called magic plants at a farmers market each Tuesday outside the Shrine (right next to USC). He says pretty much the same things, except it also is a super-coffee stimulant with ass-tons of Vitamin C and can cure the common cold (it’s because of the ENZYMES!!*trademark). I asked him why everyone would just ignore a plant that could cure the common cold since companies are specially looking for exactly that sort of thing. And he went on a tirade about how the FDA was in the pockets of big pharma and they were ignoring him because it was TEH TRUTH! Obviously if a science-minded organization takes a dim look at your activities, you must be doing something right!

    Oh also this magic plant was responsible for the rise of civilization, which started 7k years ago in Egypt according to him, and Jesus used it. I pointed out his historical facts were a little “off” and he demanded I tell him where. Not having the energy to tell him the entire history of human civilization, I bid him adieu.

    But I really, really wish someone would come out here and make a booth right across from this guy with like…nutritional pamphlets indicating the appropriate amounts of vitamins and minerals a person should consume each day and where to get these. Because I’m really afraid some poor student is going to buy into this crap and hurt themselves from a vitamin overdose (if they actually are that potent) or ingesting some crap that turns out to be a dangerous stimulant. It’s not just snake-oil man either, many booths have people hawking plants claiming “chlorophyll” and “natural vitamins!” will make all your problems disappear. They don’t even care to wash the food before giving it to you because it’s ‘organic” and evidently the only reason we wash food is because of pesticides (but what about bird shit and dirt??). It’s very disturbing and there’s nobody watching these people to make sure they aren’t pulling the wool over people’s eyes and making them sick.

  32. #32 riotnerd
    October 24, 2009

    Up until I got to the last bit I had a plan to write something attempting to be clever and even call Orac, of whom I am a huge fan, out for a lazy entry that’s really just a string of quotes from an idiot with the occasional interjection of, “what an idiot.” But then I got to the end and felt obliged, as a Jew and a F*^#ing human, to make the following point instead:

    The Holocaust is a completely singular event. Nothing is kinda like the Holocaust and to insinuate it into a false analogy as a rhetorical flourish is about as disgusting a thing as can be done using words alone. The Holocaust is not an object lesson, actions do not exist on a spectrum of more or less Holocausty. Any time anyone tries to make a point by comparing something to the Holocaust you know they are full of shit because they are attempting to make something clearer or easier to understand (that is the point of offering an analogy after all) by comparing it to something that is fundamentally beyond anyone’s capacity to think. I’m not being hyperbolic in claiming that one can not think the Holocaust. Apropos something completely unrelated I often ask my students to imagine a room with 1000 chairs in it, then I ask them to imagine a room with 1200 chairs in it in order to make the point that beyond the mathematical notion these numbers are not particularly clear or distinct ideas the way two and three are. It is, I think, quite reasonable to say that if we scale up from 1200 chairs to 6,000,000 and make the subject actual human lives, and make the task making sense of or understanding the significance of those people being systematically murdered through an industrial process it is about as useful to say, “it’s sort of like the Holocaust” as it is to say, “it’s sort of like the dance a penny would do if you threw it backwards in time and it had to entertain itself while it waited for the big bang to happen.”

    Ugh… I know I’m preaching to the quire but for decency’s sake; if someone offers up the Holocaust (or Rwanda, or the Purges, or Hiroshima, etc.) to make a point let them know that the point they have made is that they are such a complete jackass with so little respect for the dignity of human life that they would look at events that make the faithful question God and require the humane to question everything and think, “Well, the take home point is that my issue is …..”
    The Holocaust is not about your issue and it most certainly does not have a take home point.

    Sorry, I also had a long day.

  33. #33 DLC
    October 24, 2009

    And, deep in his Mom’s basement, Mike Adams hears a shuffling footstep, followed by another, and then another. Whatever it is, it’s coming closer. Step by step. inch by inch. the doorknob rattles and stops. a scratching sound — could it be the clawed finger-bones of the long-dead Fuhrer ?

  34. #34 oderb
    October 24, 2009

    Putting aside Adams hyperbolic rants, the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database – an objective evidence based organization – says this about astragalus “There is preliminary evidence that long-term ingestion of astragalus might reduce the risk of catching the common cold”. So this is not a made up claim. It may not rise to the level of evidence required by the FDA, but based on the preliminary research and Dr. Weil’s no doubt clinical experience using the substance it’s not an unreasonable statement to make.

    Why take such glee in castigating him, rather than urging more research on astragalus and other herbs so that we may have safe and effective treatments for colds and potentially the flu?

    And I’m amazed at the ignorance and/or the disingenuousness of those who ask why don’t ‘they’ go for FDA approval. Since it costs $800,000,000 supposedly for a drug to be tested and approved just how would a company justify spending that amount of money for an unpatentable substance?

  35. #35 T. Bruce McNeely
    October 24, 2009

    “There is preliminary evidence that long-term ingestion of astragalus might reduce the risk of catching the common cold”

    Let’s see:
    Take a substance with unknown constituents over the long term (years?) that “might” reduce the risk of a non-fatal illness with mild symptoms that lasts a week or less
    OR
    Take a single small dose of a substance with known constituents that will provide a lifetime of protection against an illness with devastating symptoms that is potentially fatal?

  36. #36 Todd W.
    October 24, 2009

    @oderb

    Since it costs $800,000,000 supposedly for a drug to be tested and approved just how would a company justify spending that amount of money for an unpatentable substance?

    A patent could be made for the specific formulation. And even without a patent, the first company to market the product with FDA approval gets a certain number of years of market exclusivity to recoup their investment. So, if Weil’s product actually works according to his claims, then he should not have too much trouble finding a company to partner with to produce and test it in clinical trials.

    Even if it were to just barely eke by the FDA requirements, it would make the maker a mint, since people are always willing to try something new to take care of their pesky cold. Just look at how many people buy untested products to try to knock out their colds.

  37. #37 jre
    October 24, 2009

    Naturally occurring substances can be patented if the method of extraction or purification is novel and non-obvious. Also, federal law grants exclusivity outside of patent for government-owned drugs when it is in the public interest to offer it as an incentive for development. Bristol Myers, for example, made billions from Taxol, which was discovered and analyzed by NIH. If astragalus holds promise, there is plenty of incentive for public and private entities to explore that promise at the same time that Andrew Weil is forbidden to make unproven claims.

  38. #38 Antaeus Feldspar
    October 24, 2009

    the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database – an objective evidence based organization

    Is it? I’ve never heard of it before. How do I know that it’s any more objective or evidence-based than, say, the infamous “National Vaccine Information Center”?

  39. #39 scs
    October 24, 2009

    Did any of you pro-vaccination people actually bother to read Mike Adams’ original article? If you had, you would have found a link to another article revealing the efficacy of astralagus in the treatment of colds and the flu:

    http://www.naturalnews.com/027302_astragalus_the_flu.html

    Excerpts from that article:

    Astragalus alone, however, is effective in preventing depletion of white blood cells during chemotherapy. A clinical study involving 115 patients receiving various forms of chemotherapy found that 83 percent had higher white blood cell counts when given astragalus. Common cold – Chinese studies have shown that using astragalus during cold season reduces the number of colds caught and shortens the duration of those that are caught. If you tend to get colds and flu often, astragalus can help you build up a natural resistance.
    - Prescription for Herbal Healing: An Easy-to-Use A-Z Reference to Hundreds of Common Disorders and Their Herbal Remedies by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC

    In a study of 28 people, astragalus given orally over a 2-month period significantly increased the production and secretion of interferon compared with controls. Remarkably, the levels of interferon remained high for 2 months after astragalus treatment ended. These results have been duplicated in laboratory studies. Astragalus also increases levels of natural killer (NK) cells, which roam the body via blood and lymph fluid, destroying a wide variety of invaders, including cancer cells and virus-infected body cells.
    - The Encyclopedia of Popular Herbs by Robert S. McCaleb, Evelyn Leigh, and Krista Morien

    Investigators at the University of Texas have reported strong immune-restorative effects in test-tube studies of cancer cells treated with astragalus extracts. And certain cells treated with astragalus extracts in culture survive 50 percent longer, according to some U.S. researchers. Chinese studies suggest that astragalus, in addition to boosting immunity and detoxifying a number of drugs and some metals, is also an anti-viral, a diuretic and a coronary artery dilator. They believe it is particularly effective in warding off flu and some other respiratory infections.
    - The Doctor’s Vitamin and Mineral Encyclopedia by Sheldon Saul Hendler

    The antiviral activity of Astragalus is most likely to be due to increased immunity and possibly enhanced interferon production. In support of this, Astragalus demonstrated slight inhibitory activity against adenovirus type 7 in vitro. Natural and recombinant interferon enhanced the inhibitory activity of Astragalus. It also promoted the production of interferon by mouse lung against parainfluenza virus type I and Newcastle disease virus in vitro.
    - Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine by Simon Mills and Kerry Bone

    ——————————

    I am a firm believer in alternative herbal medicine. I base my opinion on personal success with alternative treatments for osteoarthritis, which I was diagnosed with 15 years ago. None of your allopathic medicine supporters will ever mention the tremendous downside of your treatments, like the fact that well over 100,000 people DIE each and every year from the side effects of prescription drugs alone, and over 800,000 are needlessly hospitalized. The side effects from natural medicine, if indeed there are any, are miniscule by comparison. Yet you want to criminalize people like Dr. Weil for offering safe, alternative treatments, while continuing to turn a blind eye to the dangerous concoctions and vaccines coming out of the labs of Big Pharma. I absolutely have no idea where you people are coming from.

  40. #40 Militant Agnostic
    October 24, 2009

    scs – citing personal experience (sample size of one), the iatrogenic tu quoqe, persecution, anti-vax – I just filled in my altie bingo card – What do I win Orac?

  41. #41 red rabbit
    October 24, 2009

    *sigh*

    How can alties make the claim: all of the benefits without the side effects? That’s silly. If it works, ie, has a defined effect on the body, then it is a drug. If it has a defined effect on the body, it will also have side effects.

    That’s the point of many studies: to define and limit side effects. I just find people who buy into “It’s natural and herbal, so it won’t have side effects” to be the most gullible of all.

  42. #42 Travis
    October 24, 2009

    red rabbit, I have often wondered about that as well. I am really curious what the answer would be to that, is there some magical reason that natural things will not cause side effects, or do they work through some magical manner without making use of the chemicals in them?

    Otherwise I cannot see any way around them having side effects. Of course my money would simply be that most have never really thought about it, combined with a generous amount of ignorance.

  43. #43 jre
    October 24, 2009

    Yet you want to criminalize people like Dr. Weil for offering safe, alternative treatments …

    Let’s be crystal clear about this: Andrew Weil is subject to the same law as everyone else. If he is to be free to make claims without regulatory review, so also will be Glaxo, Pfizer, Abbott and Merck. Is that what you want, scs?

  44. #44 Joseph C.
    October 24, 2009

    The side effects from natural medicine, if indeed there are any, are miniscule by comparison.

    Before you parrot any more idiotic woo memes, I suggest that you go look up “colchicine” and “taxol”.

    Still think that natural medicines have no side effects?

  45. #45 Militant Agnostic
    October 24, 2009

    Nicotine is natural and has a few significant side effects such as vasoconstriction.

    Aspirin was developed as an improvement on willow bark by reducing the side effects.

    Valerian can cause hallucinations.

  46. #46 gaiainc
    October 25, 2009

    The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database @ http://www.naturaldatabase.com is put out by the same people who put out the Prescriber’s Letter. There is no advertising. They provide hyperlinks to the primary literature on which they base their recommendations. It’s not like the NVIC. They are legit, but you have to subscribe to get the full monographs. I find them very useful, but YMMV.

    As for astragalus, what oderb neglects to mention above is that the NMCD states that there insufficient reliable evidence to rate its effectiveness. The only link to their mention of the preliminary evidence is this:

    Upton R, ed. Astragalus Root: Analytical, quality control, and therapeutic monograph. Santa Cruz, CA: American Herbal Pharmacopoeia. 1999:1-25.

    Strychnine is perfectly natural as is arsenic. Mercury is natural as well. I would like to avoid them all, thanks. Given natural remedies or Big Pharma’s arsenal, I’m choosing Big Pharma, and twice on Sunday’s. At least the remedies I’m getting from them have been tested and I know what will be in the pill/medication, while natural remedies are a crapshoot. I’m not that much of a gambler with my life nor the life of my family.

  47. #47 Mark P
    October 25, 2009

    What gets me about people like Mike Adams is that they forget that the US is only 1/20th of the world. There are 100+ other governments out there not beholden to the US.

    Some of them are sufficiently anti-US that they would leap with glee on any practical methods to show the US how stupid it is. So, the question is, does Iran use Astragalus and save itself a fortune in pharmaceuticals? Does North Korea have a healthy population, since it obviously is not in thrall to Big Pharma. Did the South African president’s HIV denial stop the spread of AIDS one jot?

    What we actually get is third world countries whining that they aren’t given Western pharmaceuticals cheaply enough. That’s right, these anti-Western countries desperately want Western medicine – because they know their “traditional” herbal medicines don’t work.

  48. #48 Lucario
    October 25, 2009

    Valerian can cause hallucinations? How much would you need to ingest for that to happen, I wonder?

    I ask for purely research purposes, I’m not the kind of person who actually attempt it.

  49. #49 Tim
    October 25, 2009

    The alt-nat field did not invent or pioneer the nuritional sciences. In fact, they have hardly contributed at all to our understanding of nutritional sciences.

    Randomly select 100 nutrition-related articles or studies published in journals that are generally geared towards conventional medicine (nursing, surgical, oncology, cardiology, neurology, immunology, whatever), going back as many years as you wish. The majority are going to be done by authors with ‘conventional’ degrees in medicine, pharmacology, physiology, nursing, dietitians with advanced degrees, et. al. working under the auspices of a ‘conventional’ university (or hospital) program, department, or school of medicine. Practically everything we know about minerals, vitamins, and whatnot has come from conventional medicine or sciences.

    One thing that alt-nat field can take credit for, though, is that without its constant unproven claims of this or that or some other combination of minerals or vitamin or herbal supplements to be beneficial or therapeutic, conventional medicine would not be forced to do studies on their unproven claims and discover things like high doses of Vitamin C can reduce or interfere with the effectiveness of certain medications or treatments such as HIV meds or chemotherapy.

    IOW, alt-nat contributes primarily to our understanding of nutrition to the extent that conventional medicine is forced to study its bogus or unsupported claims and discover they are either harmful or just plain wrong.

  50. #50 scs
    October 25, 2009

    I see nothing wrong with using personal, subjective experience to evaluate any product. If a natural plant-based product such as ginger root extract rids me of the pain of osteoarthritis without perforating my stomach lining like NSAIDs do, or gives me a heart attack like Vioxx did before they finally removed it from the market, then it should be my right to use such a remedy. I should not be forced to to take any of Big Pharma’s potions simply because the FDA routinely rubber-stamps them for approval based on fudged data that the manufacturer comes up with in their biased, non-independent clinical trials.

    I would be all for publicly-financed research pitting the safety and effectiveness of any Big Pharma drug against any corresponding natural remedy. Let’s compare the results of using Graviola (annona muricata) against any chemotherapy drug you can name to combat cancer, for example. Would that be so hard to do? Millions of people die of cancer each and every year, and the numbers keep growing, in spite of decades of trying the failed “slash, burn and poison” approach. Spending a few hundred million of taxpayer dollars could settle the question once and for all, and possibly save millions of lives. Why would ANYONE be opposed to giving this a shot?

    I know the answer to that question, and the answer is that Big Pharma and allopathic medicine in general would come tumbling down like the big house of cards that they are practically overnight. They don’t want to truth to come out. They don’t want the public to know that there have been cheap but extremely effective treatments for cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, you name it for decades if not thousands of years. If the truth ever did come out, a helluva lot of medical doctors and drug company executives would have to sell their million-dollar homes and find some other way to make a living.

    It’s all about money, the love of which IS without a doubt the root of all evil, just like the Bible says.

  51. #51 Joseph C.
    October 25, 2009

    They don’t want to truth to come out. They don’t want the public to know that there have been cheap but extremely effective treatments for cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, you name it for decades if not thousands of years.

    OK. Please tell me the “cheap but extremely effective” treatment for Tay Sachs that has been around for “decades if not thousands of years”.

    Then please tell me the “cheap but extremely effective” treatment for Edwards syndrome.

  52. #52 T. Bruce McNeely
    October 25, 2009

    If a natural plant-based product such as ginger root extract rids me of the pain of osteoarthritis without perforating my stomach lining like NSAIDs do,

    Or willow bark. That’s another natural plant-based product that will rid you of the pain of osteoarthritis. It’s also much more likely to perforate your stomach lining than NSAIDS. That’s why they modified the formula to come up with aspirin, which is LESS likely to perforate your stomach (but still will, of course).

    Problems with testimonials? People. People may be mistaken, may be fooled, may forget, may cheat, may lie.
    Scientifically-designed studies attempt to prevent this.

    Spending a few hundred million of taxpayer dollars could settle the question once and for all, and possibly save millions of lives.

    Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. I’m referring to the NIH’s investigation of AltMed. So far, they’ve found nothing.

  53. #53 Luna_the_cat
    October 25, 2009

    scs said:
    The side effects from natural medicine, if indeed there are any, are miniscule by comparison.

    …And you would know this how, precisely? You see, we have formal records, reporting systems, studies and databases to keep records of side effects, even in very small numbers, for that horrible, evil, allopathic evidence-based medicine. What systems do you have for catching and reporting side effects even in very large numbers for “natural” medicines? Who keeps records? Where?

    There is a slight problem in claiming that one system is “safer” on the basis that it doesn’t have so many records of side effects, when it doesn’t have records, period.

    (Anecdote doesn’t work as a system of records, by the way, because anecdote is so terribly prone to selective memory, bias and distortion. Having a written record is important.)

  54. #54 Tsu Dho Nimh
    October 25, 2009

    @48 – The dose required for hallucinations is about the same as the dose that causes vomiting.

    It’s not exactly Salvia divinorum, it’s mopre like cheap rotgut that gives you DTs.

  55. #55 Tim
    October 25, 2009

    Well, let’s see…

    atropine (nightshades)
    coumadin (coumarin)
    digoxin (digitalis or foxgloves)
    scopolamine and hyoscyamine (nightshades)
    piclitaxel (Pacific Yew and fungus)
    aspirin (willow)
    ciclosporin (derived from a fungus)
    theophylline (tea leaves)
    theobromine (cocoa plant)
    opiates (opium poppies)
    and three dozen others…

    Nope, no ‘natural’ derived compounds being used in conventional medicine.

  56. #56 scs
    October 25, 2009

    Joseph C.,

    Why don’t you tell me your extremely expensive yet totally useless synthetic drug treatments for the diseases that you just mentioned? Just because I can’t off the top of my head name a natural treatment for these disorders, doesn’t mean that one doesn’t exist. And even if one didn’t, it doesn’t mean that the whole field of alternative medicine should just be chucked out the window as balderdash. I’d like to see just one thing that “modern” allopathic medicine has come up with in the past 50 years of trying to defeat cancer, to name just one disease that everybody is familiar with. Alternative medicine has offered numerous such treatments, but they are roundly condemned by mainstream medicine. Why? When someone is declared terminal with cancer, shouldn’t he/she be allowed to try whatever treatment is available? What possible justification could there be for limiting a terminal cancer patient’s choices?

  57. #57 Antaeus Feldspar
    October 25, 2009

    I’d like to see just one thing that “modern” allopathic medicine has come up with in the past 50 years of trying to defeat cancer, to name just one disease that everybody is familiar with.

    We’d like that too — we’d like it if you could open your eyes and see the obvious. But the chances of that don’t seem good. (Here’s a hint for you: in the 1970′s, only about 50% of people diagnosed with cancer lived for another five years. Now that survival rate is over 66%. You can thank modern “allopathic” medicine for that, because it sure as hell wasn’t due to “Dr. Nick” Gonzalez pumping coffee up their butts.)

  58. #58 scs
    October 25, 2009

    The use of natural remedies for cancer has gone up significantly in the past 50 years. Are you confident that that is not the reason for the increased survival rate for cancer? If so, cite the study demonstrating that allopathic medicine was the one and only reason for this.

  59. #59 Joseph
    October 25, 2009

    Alternative medicine has offered numerous such treatments, but they are roundly condemned by mainstream medicine. Why?

    It’s trivial and cheap to make up treatments that don’t work.

  60. #60 Joseph C.
    October 25, 2009

    @scs,

    Although I applaud you for not being just another lame drive-by troll, you have utterly failed to live up to your claim that natural treatments exist for “you name it”. I named two notoriously awful conditions and you had nothing.

  61. #61 scs
    October 25, 2009

    HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT THEY “DON’T WORK”?

  62. #62 Jennifer B. Phillips
    October 25, 2009

    I’d like to see just one thing that “modern” allopathic medicine has come up with in the past 50 years of trying to defeat cancer, to name just one disease that everybody is familiar with.

    Hey, me too! What have those lazy oncologist bastards been doing for the past 50 years, anyway? Hmmmmm…….

    Alternative medicine has offered numerous such treatments, but they are roundly condemned by mainstream medicine. Why?

    Because most of them have no demonstrable efficacy, and those that do cease to be ‘alternative’, and are instead just ‘medicine’.

    When someone is declared terminal with cancer, shouldn’t he/she be allowed to try whatever treatment is available? What possible justification could there be for limiting a terminal cancer patient’s choices?

    Aside from an objection to the monstrous, inhumane, greed-driven lies told by those who capitalize on the desperation of the seriously ill, you mean? Or the fact that patients who fall for them will often eschew real, proven treatments with limited but statistically significant benefits in favor of these ‘miracle cures’? Did you even read the original post?

  63. #63 scs
    October 25, 2009

    Joseph C,

    Why don’t you answer my question? Name the expensive treatments that mainstream medicine has for these diseases. Are people cured of these diseases by using these treatments?

    I’ll await your reply.

  64. #64 T.Bruce McNeely
    October 25, 2009
  65. #65 Joseph C.
    October 25, 2009

    Why don’t you answer my question? Name the expensive treatments that mainstream medicine has for these diseases. Are people cured of these diseases by using these treatments?

    There are no treatments for Tay Sachs or Edwards Syndrome. They’re both currently death sentences. One difference between real medicine and the quackery you advocate is that medicine freely admits this sad truth.

  66. #66 Dianne
    October 25, 2009

    I’d like to see just one thing that “modern” allopathic medicine has come up with in the past 50 years of trying to defeat cancer, to name just one disease that everybody is familiar with.

    Ok, let’s start with a very, very, very basic fact: cancer is not one disease. There is no cure for cancer and never will be but there are a lot of cures for a lot of different cancers, depending on the circumstances and type.

    That aside, what progress has their been in the last 50 years…

    1. Testicular cancer. 95%+ curable. Curable as in die of something else 20+ years later. Even in metastatic disease. Any stage. Would Lance Armstrong have lived if he’d contracted his disease in 1959? No.

    2. Hodgkin’s lymphoma. 80%+ 25 year survival rate. In 1959? Dam near 0%.

    3. Breast cancer. 97% cure rate in stage 1-3 combined. Metastatic…not so great. Yet.

    4. Chronic myelocytic leukemia. Not a cure, but imatinib will let you live with the disease for…we’re not sure how long. The people in the original study in 1999 are mostly still alive. Of those who are dead, quite a number died of something else. Heart disease, other cancers, infection, being run over by a bus…

    5. Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Again, 90%+ survivable.

    I’d be happy to give sources for the above, if you’re interested.

    So, what’s alternative medicine done for cancer or any other disease over the past 50 years?

  67. #67 scs
    October 25, 2009

    @Jennifer,

    “Aside from an objection to the monstrous, inhumane, greed-driven lies told by those who capitalize on the desperation of the seriously ill, you mean? Or the fact that patients who fall for them will often eschew real, proven treatments with limited but statistically significant benefits in favor of these ‘miracle cures’?”

    Jeez, my point exactly. Now, who makes more money in the treatment of disease, Big Pharma or alternative medicine?

  68. #68 scs
    October 25, 2009

    @Diane,

    Bravo for whoever has made these advances! I am genuinely pleased to see that progress has been made.

    But the question is what treatments did they use? I’m perfectly willing to admit that I’m wrong if you can show that these people were successfully treated using synthetic drugs, chemotherapy or even radiation.

  69. #69 Antaeus Feldspar
    October 25, 2009

    The use of natural remedies for cancer has gone up significantly in the past 50 years. Are you confident that that is not the reason for the increased survival rate for cancer?

    Yup. If those “natural remedies” were so effective, they would be able to stand up to scientific scrutiny and once they did, they’d become part of standard treatment. Oh, and please don’t give us that tired old wheeze about “Big Pharma would suppress it because it wouldn’t be patentable”, because that doesn’t make sense. You’re saying that Big Pharma could engineer a huge conspiracy effectively encompassing all cancer researchers, but that they couldn’t take the much easier route of packaging the effective active ingredient with a cheap, secret filler ingredient, patenting the combination, and aggressively marketing it to suggest that it is somehow better than the active ingredient alone? Horse-hockey!

  70. #70 Tim
    October 25, 2009

    >>Jeez, my point exactly. Now, who makes more money in the treatment of disease, Big Pharma or alternative medicine?<<

    Is this a trick question? Since the vast majority of people (thank God) continue to trust and rely upon conventional medicine when they really have something really wrong with them (as opposed to common maladies that really don’t require treatment or intervention by a doctor), it would be surprising to learn that alternative medicine had a greater share of the pie. But are you so naive as to believe alternative medicine is not a multi-billion dollar business or industry, and like any other business or industry, wants to expand its piece of the pie?

    The difference is that the $25 billion nutritional supplement industry is not required to spend one flat nickel to prove its products are effective or even reasonably safe.

    Strictly from a standpoint of profit, barriers to entry, and legal liability (all ethics aside), which business would I rather get into? Hands down, nutritional supplements or alternative medicine. No $100 million dollars in research and development costs, no $100 million dollars in clinical trials, no nit-picky regulatory agencies breathing down your neck, no army of trial lawyers mining for gold (there are a few but nothing like the army of trial lawyers targeting pharma).

  71. #71 scs
    October 25, 2009

    @ T. Bruce McNeely,

    I believe defunding alternative medicine would constitute one of the greatest mistakes ever in the history of science. I am in full agreement with probably all of you that we need to base medicine on EVIDENCE, not conjecture or even my own subjective experience. I have seen countless studies that DO validate the use of herbal remedies in the treatment of any number of diseases. Maybe not everything yet, but obviously not even mainstream medicine can make that claim either. Why should we rule out ANY method, no matter how wacky it may at first appear, if in the end it can be proven to deliver meaningful results?

  72. #72 Jennifer B. Phillips
    October 25, 2009

    I have seen countless studies that DO validate the use of herbal remedies in the treatment of any number of diseases.

    Well I’m sure we’d all love to see the citations from primary scientific literature, scs.

  73. #73 T. Bruce McNeely
    October 25, 2009

    scs:
    The reason that there is a petition to defund the NCCAM is that after 10 years and hundreds of millions of dollars (which sounds an awful lot like what you called for), they have come up with absolutely nothing that works. You know, somehow that doesn’t surprise me.

  74. #74 jre
    October 25, 2009

    But the question is what treatments did they use? I’m perfectly willing to admit that I’m wrong if you can show that these people were successfully treated using synthetic drugs, chemotherapy or even radiation.

    Your professed willingness to consider the evidence is admirable. Let’s try it out. A search under PubMed for “cancer survival rates” yields a wealth of published data, including many with free full text available online. To choose but one such example, we have by Pulte et al. Improvements in survival of adults diagnosed with acute myeloblastic leukemia in the early 21st century.

    What’s clear from the study is that the diagnosis and treatment of AML has advanced on several fronts, with large improvements in survival resulting from stem cell transplantation and high dose cytarabine therapy. These are precisely the kinds of treatments rejected by natural medicine advocates, and these are the treatments saving lives.

    That’s just one example. Survival rates from all types and sites of cancer have been steadily improving for over 30 years, and studies on this subject are focused precisely on determining which drugs and therapies work the best. Cancer is always a scary thing, but it’s a lot less scary than it was even a few decades ago, and we have allopathic Western medicine to thank for it.

  75. #75 scs
    October 25, 2009

    @Antaeus,

    There’s a lot of money to be made in treating the symptoms of a disease, rather than flat-out curing it. If a patient is actually cured of his/her disease, there’s no more need for he/she to go to the doctor’s office. It’s not a “conspiracy” so much as it is a very lucrative way to do business, and very few people involved in it are willing or have the guts to rock the boat.

  76. #76 Dianne
    October 25, 2009

    I have seen countless studies that DO validate the use of herbal remedies in the treatment of any number of diseases.

    Citations or primary data, please.

    If you presented reliable, confirmable data suggesting that any herbal remedy was effective in any form of cancer orac and I would both abandon the blog and race each other to be the first to present the data in a peer reviewed journal. If you (or anyone else) has the cure for cancer and it’s being ignored by the mainstream feel free to bring it to my attention, we’ll write it up and split the Nobel Prize and retire on the earnings, even if they’re only 2 cents per patient. The vast pharma conspiracy will have to look after itself.

  77. #77 scs
    October 25, 2009

    I would suggest that the “primary scientific literature” is called “primary” more out of political reasons than scientific ones. All it takes is a few people with a strong financial interest in preserving the status quo to determine what gets to see the light of day and what doesn’t. One carefully-picked editor of a scientific journal can make a huge difference, and I would submit this is in fact what goes on routinely, especially in the medical field.

  78. #78 T. Bruce McNeely
    October 25, 2009

    scs:

    OMFG, you’ve uncovered our secret!

    Now we’ll have to kill you!

    (BTW, that’s a joke. You alties can be awfully literal)

  79. #79 Luna_the_cat
    October 25, 2009

    scs: you’ve obviously been back. Is my point about record-keeping and side-effects clear to you?

    Oh, as a side point: on PubMed, for example, there are thousands of studies which track cancer outcomes in clinical trials, newer treatments against older ones; from these, the survival of populations where treatments are strictly controlled, and we KNOW that they are only using certain treatments and not “alternative” or “natural” treatments, can be easily seen. For one example out of a whole hell of a lot, like this. If you have swallowed the Mike Adams lie that “modern cancer therapies have never cured anyone — not one” then you desperately need to pull yourself away from the misinformation and find out more about real medicine.

  80. #80 Luna_the_cat
    October 25, 2009

    Ah, I see that scs has hit the “it’s all just a GIANT CONSPIRACY to keep it covered up!” meme, now.

    scs, there are umpteen bajillion journals out there. There are over 200,000 doctors in North America (roughly), too, and far more than that worldwide. Many of these doctors have loved ones who have suffered from cancer, and many others have even been diagnosed with cancer themselves. The same must be said for journal editors. If there were evidence — and I mean real evidence, not airy-fairy handwaving which falls apart if anyone breathes on it hard — it would find a publisher.

    …And that’s not even including academic researchers into this mix. Gods know there are enough rivalries amongst researchers that if anyone could put one in the eye of their competitors by coming up with Teh Cure, they would be publicising it in about a picosecond. A conspiracy to keep humanity suffering? I don’t think so; most of the researchers I know (in the same organisation, no less!) couldn’t manage to maintain a conspiracy to get free coffee.

    Also, from experience — anything is patentable, given the amount of tweaking that can be done.

  81. #81 Prometheus
    October 25, 2009

    SCS claims that there are:

    “…cheap but extremely effective treatments for cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, you name it for decades if not thousands of years.”

    Is this like the “…cures They don’t want you to know about…”?

    But seriously, there are cheap but extremely effective treatments for diabetes, high blood pressure and even some cancers.

    [1] Diabetes: insulin – cheap and effective.

    [2] Hypertension: diuretics and beta blockers – cheap and effective (lots of side effects, though)

    [3] Cancer (I pick basal cell carcinoma and melanoma in situ, since “SCS” didn’t specifiy which cancer) – surgical excision – cheap (can be done in the office) and terribly effective.

    What I think SCS was trying to claim is that there are alternative treatments that are cheap and effective. I challenge him to name them and give the studies that have shown their efficacy.

    I won’t be holding my breath.

    Prometheus

  82. #82 scs
    October 25, 2009

    Dianne,

    Answering your request for citations, here goes:

    http://heartspring.net/cancer.html (42 citations)
    http://www.herbological.com/cancerandherbalmed.html (24 citations)
    http://raintreenutrition.com/graviola-capsules.htm (scroll about 1/4 of the way down until you see “Third-Party Published Research” – dozens of studies cited here on the anti-tumor, anti-microbial effects of Graviola alone).

    That’s about all I could come up with on such short notice. Sorry if this appears inadequate.

  83. #83 scs
    October 25, 2009

    Prometheus,

    Here’s one page citing dozens of studies on the anti-tumor affects of annona muricata (aka Graviola):

    http://raintreenutrition.com/graviola-capsules.htm

    scroll about 1/3 of the way down until you see “Third-Party Published Research”.

    Gotta go now. I may return later. I hope you guys and gals have had a lot of fun ganging up on one person like you have today. You must be feeling really proud of yourselves by now.

  84. #84 Dianne
    October 25, 2009

    One carefully-picked editor of a scientific journal can make a huge difference,

    Um…not really. Say you have the cure and can prove it with lots of hard data. You write up the description and send it to the New England Journal of Medicine. The editor there has been bought by the pharma companies and won’t publish. Do you give up and only prescribe the cure via a web site? No. You go to JAMA. Or Nature. Or JCO. Or JNCI. Or Cancer. Or Cancer Research. Or one of a large number of less prestigious but very accessible journals that would love to be the journal that first described the great new cure (do you have any idea what that would do for said journal’s impact factor?) Again, you’re positing a conspiracy that is so strong that it keeps people from acting in their clear self interest. All of them. For decades. Just not practical.

  85. #85 T. Bruce McNeely
    October 25, 2009

    I hope you guys and gals have had a lot of fun ganging up on one person like you have today. You must be feeling really proud of yourselves by now.

    You are pathetic.

  86. #86 Antaeus Feldspar
    October 25, 2009

    There’s a lot of money to be made in treating the symptoms of a disease, rather than flat-out curing it. If a patient is actually cured of his/her disease, there’s no more need for he/she to go to the doctor’s office. It’s not a “conspiracy” so much as it is a very lucrative way to do business, and very few people involved in it are willing or have the guts to rock the boat.

    Once again, that’s horse-hockey. If such a situation existed (call it a conspiracy or not) then the first person to break the silence and go to the presses with “your doctors are deliberately keeping you sick when they could be making you well” would be an international hero and quickly be fabulously wealthy just from selling his story. So your preposterous fantasy requires that an uncountable number of people are all evil enough to knowingly avoid curing diseases they know they could cure but not a single one of them would grab at a huge personal payoff that would deliver them more money they could otherwise see in a lifetime? Ludicrous.

    (Of course, many people think they know the secret to curing these diseases, and they expect that when they go directly to the press they’ll be international heroes and be fabulously wealthy. It doesn’t work out that way because so far none of them actually have had the secret they thought they had; they just managed to fool themselves.)

  87. #87 Militant Agnostic
    October 25, 2009

    I’d like to see just one thing that “modern” allopathic medicine has come up with in the past 50 years of trying to defeat cancer, to name just one disease that everybody is familiar with.

    Hodgkins Lymphoma – cure rate > 90%

    The guy that used to print and bind my Well Test analysis had brain cancer – at one point a few years ago he could barely walk. I saw him in Safeway a couple of months after that and he was fit as a fiddle.

  88. #88 Dianne
    October 25, 2009

    Here’s one page citing dozens of studies on the anti-tumor affects of annona muricata (aka Graviola):

    Unfortunately, the articles in question seem to be all about synthesis of specific products from the plant and effects of the plant in cell culture. I could not identify any clinical trials or even case reports of efficacy in actual patients. I also found this article linking Graviola to atypical Parkinson’s. In people eating the fruit, not cell cultures. So much for the safety of “natural” products.

    SCS’s link offers to sell a Parkinson’s inducing product for $18.95 per bottle (plus shipping). Ok, so it’s not $10,000/treatment the way some chemotherapeutics can be, but still do you really want to pay $20 for something that’s not going to work and is going to give you Parkinson’s?

    (Note: Graviola or some derivative of Graviola MAY have an anti-tumor effect. But if so it needs to be tested, standardized, and evaluated for toxicity before it is used clinically. The idea of just offering essentially random amounts of a possible cytotoxic substance to patients makes me queasy. No mainstream oncologist would be that cavalier about patient safety.)

  89. #89 Dedj
    October 25, 2009

    “I hope you guys and gals have had a lot of fun ganging up on one person like you have today. You must be feeling really proud of yourselves by now.”

    You were the only person postulating a (arrogant and self-referential) opposing viewpoint.

    Just who else could the good people here possibly have replied to?

    Calling it ‘ganging up’ is an attempt to shame people by implying that they are bullying you. What? People can only reply to you one at a time just because you can’t cope with anything else?

    How damn dare you spew off left right and centre and then piss and moan when people start to respond to you – something which you actually asked people to do btw.

    You either can’t see that this situation is derived from your own behaviour, or you can and are just blaming it on others.

    Neither option looks good for you.

  90. #90 Militant Agnostic
    October 25, 2009

    I for one now feel very guilty for bullying scs with an inconvenient fact.

    scs – I recommend you stick around for Monday’s post – maybe you might see what is wrong with allowing unproven and improbable cancer remedies.

  91. #91 Joseph C.
    October 25, 2009

    You are pathetic.

    You have a talent for getting straight to the heart of the matter.

  92. #92 Dangerous Bacon
    October 25, 2009

    scs, I’ve got a horrifying example for you of an attempt to squelch a natural means of preventing cancer. This particular anti-cancer intervention uses the body’s own proven natural disease-fighting ability – but special interests are using lies and fear-mongering to keep people from utilizing this remedy.

    They don’t want you to know the real truth about how you can prevent this type of cancer without resorting to drugs, radiation and other unnatural treatments!

    Who are these people who don’t want you to know?

    Well, one of them is the very guy you were defending in an earlier comment – Mike Adams. And the proven cancer-fighting intervention he is trying to destroy is the HPV vaccine, Gardasil.

    This bogus article of his is chock-full of lies and distortions about cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine, including ludicrous statements that HPV infection is nothing for healthy women to worry about and the claim that the FDA knows HPV doesn’t cause cervical cancer (!).

    Here we have a vaccine that stimulates the body’s own natural defenses to ward off an infection that leads to cancer – and Mike Adams is feeding us nonsensical lies to try to scare us away from it.

    I’m sure you’ll now be adding him to your list of evil people who are trying to prevent us from learning how to fight disease naturally.

  93. #93 T. Bruce McNeely
    October 25, 2009

    Dangerous Bacon:
    Now that is freakin’ hilarious!

  94. #94 Tim
    October 26, 2009

    Apparently scs has never heard of TNF or the other two dozen agents that have demonstrated great potential to kill tumor cells in animal and cell culture experiments but proved to have no or minimal effect in the human model, nor is he even aware that results in animal or culture models are different from human models.

    Every time you get into a debate with the alt-nat med proponents, its almost like you have to fill them in on the huge chunks of knowledge or understanding they are missing. I don’t know about anyone else, but I paid a lot of freaking money for college (not to mention the hundreds of hours I invest in self-directed learning after college) and resent having to always give it away for free in order to bring the alt-nat crowd up to speed.

  95. #95 Richard Eis
    October 26, 2009

    -and–shall we say?–target rich environment -

    For flowers maybe

    -It’s not a “conspiracy” so much as it is a very lucrative way to do business, and very few people involved in it are willing or have the guts to rock the boat.-

    Yeah, cancer, where the body turns on itself. Easiest thing in the world to cure. I mean killing dangerous human cells perfectly while NOT killing your own body even though the cells are almost identical? Easy surely.

    and I mean the bodys own immune system would never turn on itself. So boosting the immune system is such a good idea.

  96. #96 Yojimbo
    October 26, 2009

    The idea that there have been effective treatments for serious diseases known “for decades if not thousands of years” is one that keeps popping up. Where do people get the idea that back in the “good old days” they cured things? For “decades if not thousands of years” people who were seriously ill or injured simply died, or lived on crippled or deformed. Of course, a few folk remedies were successful, but most weren’t – and still aren’t.

  97. #97 Prometheus
    October 26, 2009

    The idea that effective treatments – “cures” – for serious diseases have been known for “decades if not thousands of years” has a fragment of a kernel of a nubbin of truth in it.

    That “cure” is time.

    Time can and does “cure all ills” – if you have diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease or cancer right now, you won’t have them fifty or a hundred years from now.

    Of course, you’ll be dead – but at least you won’t have to worry about cancer.

    This seems to be a common “alternative” cure – getting the patient involved in some distracting process long enough for their disease to either resolve spontaneously or kill them. Either way, their malady is “cured”.

    And while the second outcome (death) isn’t very appealing to prospective patients, those who die are very unlikely to complain or write unflattering “testimonials”.

    Prometheus

  98. #98 Yojimbo
    October 26, 2009

    @Prometheus

    Right of course – I, however, have the sneaking suspicion that is not quite what they’re getting at :)

  99. #99 Patient
    October 26, 2009

    “The woo, it flows, like burning gasoline of flaming stupid”

    Orac has such a way with words, doesn’t he?

    Loved reading all this. Thanks, everyone!

  100. #100 zylph
    October 27, 2009

    Yojimbo… you are of course forgetting that Highlander was actually a documentary. Due to the healing properties of ginger root, Graviola, laetrile, etc., there actually is a race of people out there that have managed to cure themselves of every disease ever, thus achieving immortality (except for getting squashed by a bus, or existence failure or something). Their curse, and the price that they pay for their immortality, is that no-one listens to them. Thus, they are doomed to walk the Earth while allopathic medicine kills everyone they know.

    Stay strong, scs, we will eventually make everyone an Immortal.

  101. #101 Yojimbo
    October 27, 2009

    Ah yes – “in the end there can be only one”.

  102. #102 Calli Arcale
    October 27, 2009

    “Their curse, and the price that they pay for their immortality, is that no-one listens to them.”

    Well, that and being forever hunted by others of their own kind, wishing to take their heads, and with it, their power.

  103. #103 lesazoulay@aol.com
    November 7, 2009

    I am not familiar with either this blogger or with Mike Adams, but I do seet it is obvious that none of you have any interest in making the necessary effort to support your immune systems by researching and taking the natural herbs and supplements you freely joke about. You’d all rather keep eatin’ your burgers, fries, and diet cokes, and then wait in line to get pumped up with vaccines to protect your unhealthy bodies. It’s not a joke that I give my children substantial amounts of vitamin c, zinc, vitamin d, and oregano oil to keep their immune systems boosted so that even if they come into contact with a virus they are strong enough not to succumb to it. Make fun out of your ignorance, but it does work. I myself have a recurring virus that surfaces during times of stress, and at the first sign of it I take my immune boosters and it vanishes, simply disappears – every single time, without fail. I lived with this virus for YEARS, having to let it run it’s course, and nothing ever took care of it until I started taking immune boosting supplements. I have been the experiment and the proof, and now my children benefit from this, and hopefully will continue to do so throughout the flu season. It’s not easy, it’s in fact annoying to have to take so much stuff, but I can’t justify taking synthetic measures for the sake of my convenience. So it sounds like this Mike Adams person went a little off the wall – so what? The bottom line is not Andrew Weil specifically (who, by the way, had NO WORDING WHATSOEVER stating that his product was a cure for anything), it’s the choice we need to be able to make for ourselves. You can be free to get your vaccine; I should be free to look for and buy natural alternatives without having the government censor my choices. I can figure out what is quackery on my own.

  104. #104 Julie
    January 5, 2010

    I agree totally with the last post, lesazoulay.
    I do not want anyone dictating my choices re my body, and my health, certainly not some govt bureacrats.
    As for unpasteurized milk, before pasteurization, why is there no records of massize outbreaks of e-coli, if the milk was so
    unclean. My grandparents, and their parents lived off the milk of their cows, and they lived to be in their nineties, go figure.. e-coli where are you?
    Screw the FDA!

  105. #105 Chris
    January 5, 2010

    Actually, Julie, there were large numbers of people with tuberculosis and brucellosis (also known as Undulant Fever, something my mother had when she was young), which are both transmitted in raw milk.