Respectful Insolence

After having been away for four days, it always takes me a little time to get back into the swing of things when it comes to blogging. Actually, it takes some time to get back into the swing of things at work, too. Sometimes it takes starting on something not too difficult and then working my way back up to the more difficult tasks. In terms of blogging, starting out with something not too difficult often means taking on a reliable source of utter nonsense. And what better source of utter nonsense exists in the world of pseudoscientific medicine? Certainly, it’s hard to find a loonier, nuttier purveyor of pseudoscience than Mike Adams, the proprietor of the reliably hysterical alt-med website. Even better, sometimes Mike Adams’ hysteria illustrates a useful point about how quacks think not just about medicine, but about the law and the world, and what their ultimate goals are.

This came to mind when, while I was away in Orlando, readers began sending me this article by Mike Adams entitled NC bill threatens to criminalize naturopaths, homeopaths, herbalists, midwives, aromatherapists as felons. Two days later, he followed it up with North Carolina SB 31 bill seeks to turn healers into felons; but the health freedom backlash has already begun. When I read this, I was intrigued; so, before I get to Mike Adams’ hyperbole about the bill, let’s look at what the bill actually says. Don’t worry. It’s really short, which makes the response to it particularly telling. Here is the current text of the bill:

AN ACT TO CLARIFY THE PENALTY FOR THE UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF MEDICINE.

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

SECTION 1. G.S. 90‑18(a) reads as rewritten:

“§ 90‑18. Practicing without license; penalties.
(a) No person shall perform any act constituting the practice of medicine or surgery, as defined in this Article, or any of the branches thereof, unless the person shall have been first licensed and registered so to do in the manner provided in this Article. Article, and if any Any person shall practice who practices medicine or surgery without being duly licensed and registered, as provided in this Article, the person shall not be allowed to maintain any action to collect any fee for such services. The person so practicing without license being duly licensed and registered shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, Class I felony, except that if the person so practicing without a license is an out‑of‑state practitioner who has not been licensed and registered to practice medicine or surgery in this State, the person shall be guilty of a Class I felony. any person who has a license or approval under this Article that is inactive due solely to the failure to complete annual registration in a timely fashion as required by this Article or any person who is licensed, registered, and practicing under any other Article of this Chapter shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.”

SECTION 2. This act becomes effective December 1, 2011, and applies to offenses committed on or after that date.

That’s it. Basically, it makes practicing medicine without a license a class I felony, the lowest form of felony. The exception is a practitioner who lets his license lapse through not having renewed it in a timely fashion, in which case it’s a misdemeanor. Pretty inoffensive, right? At least, you would think so. I would think so. Most reasonable people would think so. One might argue whether practicing medicine without a license should be a felony, but I have a hard time arguing against it as long as the penalties are in line with the offense. Not Mike Adams. He sees a dark conspiracy against “alternative” medicine practitioners:

Proponents of the bill say it fixes a loophole in the current law that classifies out-of-state practitioners who practice without a license as Class I felons, while in-state practitioners who practice without a license are only guilty of a Class I misdemeanor. But what the bill actually appears to do is make it even harder for alternative practitioners who literally cannot be licensed in NC because their work is not “approved,” to practice at all. After all, who is going to be willing to provide alternative medical services for consenting patients when doing so makes them a felon?

You know, I almost wish that North Carolina legislators were so Machiavellian in their ways or willing to crack down on quacks in such a strong manner. However, if there’s one thing I know about North Carolina legislators, it’s that they are actually very sympathetic to alternative medicine. After all, the law in North Carolina was such that “alternative” physician Dr. Rashid Buttar has not only survived attempts by the North Carolina State Medical Board to discipline him for using chelation therapy and a panoply of unproven and ineffective treatments on patients with autism and cancer, all the while charging them megabucks for these “therapies,” but he’s gone beyond mere survival. He’s turned these efforts around and used them to work with the legislature to gut any effective enforcement of medical standards by the state medical board. He led an effort, along with the North Carolina Integrative Medicine Society, to get North Carolina legislators to change state law to make it friendlier to “alternative” practitioners.

In essence, the law prevents the state board from disciplining doctors for using “non-traditional” or experimental treatments unless it can demonstrate that they are ineffective or more harmful that prevailing treatments. In essence, this law allows physicians to do practically anything they want in terms of quackery with little to fear, particularly in the cases of patients with diseases for which conventional therapy is toxic–like cancer. All the physician has to do is give some sort of bogus “informed consent,” and it’s a “get out of jail free” card. Now, in such a quack-friendly state, I have a hard time believing that legislators intentionally tried to increase the penalties on “alternative” medicine practitioners. I tend to believe the proffered explanation, namely of harmonizing existing penalties.

To Mike Adams, though, it’s The Man trying to keep The Truth and The Cures from The People:

The State of North Carolina REFUSES to license holistic health practitioners to practice medicine at all! You can’t get a license to treat disease as a homeopath, an herbalist or even as a Chinese Medicine practitioner. Be sure you understand what I’m saying here: YES, you can be “licensed” as a TCM practitioner in North Carolina, but you are NOT licensed to actually treat disease. In fact, if you attempt to tell a patient that you are “treating cancer” (i.e. practicing medicine), then under this new law, you can be arrested and prosecuted for a felony crime.

And Adams says that as though it were a bad thing. Homeopaths, herbalists, and traditional Chinese medicine shouldn’t be treating real diseases. They actually shouldn’t really be treating anyone because their methods are either unproven, disproven, pure pseudoscience, or based on prescientific ideas about how the human body functions and disease disrupts that function. I suppose the least harm is done by letting them wield their placebo effects on people who have benign, self-limited diseases, but even that can result in significant harm because these practitioners don’t know how to differentiate serious diseases that require treatment from the sorts of nonspecific complaints without a clear etiology for which placebo effects are most noticeable.

Of course, to Adams, this is an affront to the freedom of quacks to practice their quackery as they desire and fleece their marks:

This is why this SB 31 bill is an assault on the God-given freedom to practice healing medicine. In fact, state medical boards are, themselves, a symptom of the “disease” of the medical police state. By what right does a state medical board have any authority to tell an herbalist that she cannot treat a heart patient or a diabetic? The huge assortment of herbs that can help reverse diabetes is astonishing, and yet the state medical board in North Carolina (and every other state) insists that degenerative disease can ONLY be treated with drugs and surgery. Anyone even attempting to treat cancer with herbs, for example, can be arrested and charged with a felony crime under this new bill.

This kind of medical police state tyranny has created the situation today where natural healers, herbalists and Chinese Medicine practitioners are scared to death of being hauled off to prison if they accidentally utter a disease name during a patient treatment session. Were you aware that the national certification boards for most holistic modalities even warn healing arts practitioners that they cannot ever, under any circumstances, teach patients about the deadly dangers of prescription medications?

Ah, yes. The “medical police state” rhetoric that we know and love from Adams. Later in the article, he even predicts that after the passage of SB 31 police vans will swoop into Asheville to round up homeopaths and herbalists and throw them in jail. Such an occurrence is, of course, incredibly unlikely. After all, neither the state medical board nor law enforcement officials in North Carolina have shown much, if any, inclination to enforce existing laws that might allow the prosecution of such practitioners for practicing medicine without a license. What makes Adams think that passage of SB 31 would make them any more willing to do so? Only paranoia. Of course, to Adams any law or regulation trying to enforce any sort of science-based standard of care is not an effort to protect the public; it’s fascism, Nazi-ism, and totalitarianism all rolled into one. How dare the state try to protect the public from quackery? It’s an offense to “health freedom,” which is in reality nothing more than the freedom of quacks to do whatever they see fit.

The rest of Adams’ rant is worth reading for its over-the-top rhetoric. Basically, it’s Tea Party anti-government rhetoric on steroids fused with a massive Health Freedom rant. He views Asheville, for instance, not as a center of New Age quackery and woo, but rather as “one of the most famous and abundant healing centers in all of North America.” Of course, this is one of the rare times when Adams might have a germ of a point. Asheville may be famous for its woo, but woo is also big business there, as I’ve mentioned before. Be that as it may, no one brings home the crazy when it comes to “health freedom” the way that Adams does, and the fact that a group called Citizens for Health Care Freedom would team up with Adams does not speak well for its judgment or commitment to good medicine. Of course, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that any group that has the term “health freedom” in its name is virtually guaranteed to be a promoter of quackery.

On the other hand, Adams might have another germ of a point, although I tend to think it’s completely inadvertent. Adams characterizes SB 31 as a tool to enforce a “medical monopoly” that keeps alternative medicine practitioners out, but that’s not quite true. True, whether intentionally or unintentionally (I tend to vote for unintentionally), SB 31 criminalizes only alternative practitioners who do not have an MD and a medical license. Dubious practitioners like Dr. Rashid Buttar (who is, in my not-so-humble opinion, the biggest quack in North Carolina, certainly the most successful anyway). Maybe Mikey has a point. Maybe the point of this law is to restrict the practice of quackery like homeopathy, much of traditional Chinese medicine, and naturopathy only to state-licensed MDs, who have only to be able to argue that, no matter how pseudoscientific they are or how much quackery they practice, their quackery is no more harmful than “conventional” medicine.

MDs like Dr. Rashid Buttar.

Finally, I urge my readers in North Carolina to contact their legislators and voice support for SB 31. Even though it only impacts non-licensed practitioners, it’s a start. Maybe someday, North Carolina will re-empower its medical board to be able to enforce science-based standards of care. Until then, the citizens of North Carolina have very little protection against quacks.

ADDENDUM: Well, that didn’t take long. True, the source is Mike Adams again, but it looks as though the North Carolina legislature is about to cave, introducing an amendment that changes the text to read:

Representative Weiss

…moves to amend the bill on page 1, lines 13-19, by rewriting the lines to read:

“and registered shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, except that if the person falsely
represent himself or herself in any manner as being licensed, registered, and practicing under this Article or any other Article of this Chapter, or any person so practicing without a license is an out-of-state practitioner who has not been licensed and registered to practice medicine or surgery in this State, the person shall be guilty of a Class I felony.”

So, basically, if this version of the bill passes, quacks won’t get into trouble as long as they don’t claim to be licensed health care practitioners in North Carolina. In the state of Dr. Buttar, this isn’t the least bit surprising. All I can say to citizens of North Carolina is that your state legislature appears unconcerned about protecting the public from quacks.

Comments

  1. #1 LW
    April 7, 2011

    “Were you aware that the national certification boards for most holistic modalities even warn healing arts practitioners that they cannot ever, under any circumstances, teach patients about the deadly dangers of prescription medications?”

    Gosh, I wonder how all those (not licensed to practice medicine anywhere) reporters got away with reporting on the risks of Vioxx. Or on the overuse of antidepressants in mildly depressed people. Or a number of other cases of prescription drugs that had unfortunate side effects.

  2. #2 Lynn Wilhelm
    April 7, 2011

    Actually, nothing much seemed to happen between Adams’ 4/4 column and the “update”. As far as I can tell the bill as Adams discusses in his update passed the Senate and the first reading in the House at the beginning of March.

    It’s been sitting in the house on the calender of “unfinished business” for the second reading for several days. It’s on the calendar today. I’m not sure why it’s being postponed.

    I got into a heated email discussion with some people using scare tactics like Adams. This amendment only makes what was a misdemeanor a felony now. Anyone who would be guilty under the amended law would have already been commiting a crime.

    I’ll see if I can find out what’s happening in the House today. I don’t think anyone has “caved”. This is one thing I agree with from our Republican General Assembly (a new one for us). Luckily we do have a Democratic Governor!

  3. #3 Lawrence
    April 7, 2011

    God forbid we actually have standards & groups enforcing standards of medical care – I mean, if people like Mike Adams had their way, anyone would be able to practice anything they’d like, without fear of reprecussions or penalty.

    Of course, if I was a trial lawyer, I’d actually be pushing to get these people more involved – then sue the crap out of them when more patients start dying.

  4. #4 Dr Mary Johnson
    April 7, 2011

    Orac, I’ve given up on medical oversight and the North Carolina legislature. My state is not the LEAST bit interested in protecting the public from quacks. (Not to belabor the point, but that’s how I wound up in the blogosphere . . . getting fired/SLAP-sued/ultimately swindled – after I stopped a family practioner-pretending-to-be-a-neonatologist from killing a critically-ill newborn – and then reported what happened – as was my DUTY as defined by the NC Medical Board).

    In North Carolina’s medical sphere, you CAN pretend to be something you’re not, and totally get away with it.

    The idiots and morons in Raleigh simply do not care about doing what it takes to really protect the public. And money rules in this game.

    http://drjshousecalls.blogspot.com/2010/04/lesson-on-medical-oversight-in-north.html

    Ya’ll have a nice day.

  5. #5 Beamup
    April 7, 2011

    Adams really sounds like he’s under the misconception that something is becoming illegal that wasn’t before. Or maybe he knows that full well but figures it’ll whip up his minions more if he lies to them. I just can’t tell.

  6. #6 A1rh3ad
    April 7, 2011

    Some say its preparations for combating medical marijuana.

  7. #7 Composer99
    April 7, 2011

    Cue the boring ugh troll to echo Mike Adams in 3… 2… 1…

  8. #8 DLC
    April 7, 2011

    Next thing you know they’ll actually !Gasp! require people to show competency at tasks they want to make money doing, like dentistry, construction contracting and practicing law.
    quelle horreur!

  9. #9 peicurmudgeon
    April 7, 2011

    Here is Canada, we get the loons quoting Adams and screaming that if we aren’t careful all of our ‘health freedoms’ will be taken away. It seems that every bill that has the potential to regulate any sort of treatment, or the ingredients therein, is designed to curtail our freedom of choice and is funded by “Big Pharma”. For example, a ‘product safety’ bill that seemed written to allow the Canadian gov’t to rely on tests and discoveries by other countries to prohibit or restrict unsafe imports (think lead paint in children’s toys from China)was seen as a direct attack on on ‘alternative medicine’. The fight here has been financed by the alt med crowd, who argue that pharmaceuticals need to be regulated out of existence while ‘natural’ products should be given a free pass.

  10. #10 Denice Walter
    April 7, 2011

    What’s not funny about Adams:

    Recently, there was an attempt to “clean up” DSHEA (DSSA- McCain) which was violently opposed by woo-meisters of all stripes ( Adams, Gary Null, Natural Solutions Foundation, etc.). It would have limited the ruses these charlatans have hid behind concerning supplements since 1994. They put up the signal to their devotees, *et voila!*, the phone and e-mail campaign began, and the (federal) legislators caved.(Victory was celebrated with stiff shots of wheat-grass juice, I imagine.)

    Like Adams, Null had an NC (so-called) practitioner calling out the troops to call or write legislators last week. I have seen similar calls for political actions like these in both NJ and NY against vaccination with resulting “wins” for the agitators. A very small coterie manages to change laws that affect a much larger group of citizens.

    In addition, Adams’, Null’s, and Mercola’s sites ( AoA**) serve as fora for alt med where “ideas” and “research” are discussed and shared. There is a great deal of co-mingling of “information” betwixt and between these misinformation generators and perpetrators. They cite each other; they cite the same shoddy “independent research”, as well as the same critiques of SBM ( e.g. studies can’t be independent if they are by pharma,government, universities, “orthodox” medicine,etc.) Only trust a moonstruck maverick’s unorthodox foray into fomenting a scientific revolution, I guess.

    Do bad ideas from bad science affect what people believe and do? We know about how vaccination rates dropped post-Wakefield. Here’s another, Kalichman ( 2010) showed how the talking points of HIV/AIDS denialists trickled down to the affect the attitudes of young gay men ( who are probably likely to be sexually active) I can’t recall the actual figures but it’s not 5%.

    ** I perceive them a bit differently because they are, by and large, a group of aggrieved parents rather than purely entrepreneurial.

  11. #11 sophia8
    April 7, 2011

    In fact, if you attempt to tell a patient that you are “treating cancer” (i.e. practicing medicine), then under this new law, you can be arrested and prosecuted for a felony crime.
    Just like in England! They have a law there against treating cancer without medical qualifications – they throw honest caring healers into jail for it!! And you know what else they have in England? SOCIALIZED MEDICINE!11!!!
    That’s what such laws lead to! Fight it now!!!!!!!

  12. #12 T. Bruce McNeely
    April 7, 2011

    What about Investment Freedom? Why are there regulations against Ponzi and Pyramid schemes? We get information over the internet about all the money we could be making, and the damn government won’t let us in on the action! My future security is at stake! Why should we not be allowed to help out those Nigerian millionaires, and share in their bounty?

    Tear down the Financial Police State!!!Free Bernie Madoff!!!

  13. #13 A1rh3ad
    April 7, 2011

    One thing about bills like this is they are often used to fight against electronic cigarettes, medical marijuana, alternative foods, and many other “taboo” products

  14. #14 lilady
    April 7, 2011

    At various CAM websites, posters are complaining that they cannot get to speak to the North Carolina legislators…but are reassured by office staff that most, if not all, of the telephone calls are “urging” the legislators to defeat the bill.

    It’s all part of the grand scheme to limit personal choice and will, as sophia8 states lead to SOCIALIZED MEDICINE!!!!, (maybe even “Death Panels”).

  15. #15 dusonfnp
    April 7, 2011

    Oh, bloody hell! I just moved from NC to VA, and in both cases I had to jump through quite a few hoops to demonstrate that I am properly licensed and credentialed to practice medicine. And since I’m the medical person in my family, I field all the requests for advice or feedback. But those same family members then always want to ignore all my scientific evidence-based recommendations in favor of “pharmaceutical companies are evil,” and “the government doesn’t want to cure cancer” pronouncements, the latest coming from my daughter, who is recommending the FoodMatters documentary (read infomercial for their juicers, supplements, and Gerson-esque nonsense).

    And PLEASE don’t blame the right wing for all the nonsense – I’m a moderate conservative who votes both ways and refuses to claim either party, while I have one sister who swears by Airborne and won’t get a flu shot and is a lifelong Democrat, while my other sister who is a Tea Partier is also the one who checks everything on PubMed, and makes sure that her doc’s recommendations are backed up by current peer-reviewed journals before she follows them. I know, anecdote does not equal evidence, confirmation bias, etc…..

  16. #16 daijiyobu
    April 7, 2011

    Re: “this law allows physicians to do practically anything they want in terms of quackery with little to fear […NC’s] state legislature appears unconcerned about protecting the public from quacks.”

    I’ve often called this “licensed falsehood.”

    Perhaps Mike Adams is practicing journalism without a license.

    -r.c.

  17. #17 David Patterson
    April 7, 2011

    It seems that licensing medical practitioners is good thing. Heck, when I go to the streets of NYC I’m hoping the hot dog stand has a license to sell that hot dog to me too. I don’t think they are asking for to much.

    Hey, the topic of “alarm fatigue” in hospitals is getting pretty big. Do you think you might be able to do a post on that. I was just reading about it over at the Boston Globe. You think it’s worth discussing?

  18. #18 David Patterson
    April 7, 2011

    It seems that licensing medical practitioners is good thing. Heck, when I go to the streets of NYC I’m hoping the hot dog stand has a license to sell that hot dog to me too. I don’t think they are asking for to much.

    Hey, the topic of “alarm fatigue” in hospitals is getting pretty big. Do you think you might be able to do a post on that. I was just reading about it over at the Boston Globe. You think it’s worth discussing?

  19. #19 john
    April 7, 2011

    Wow, the author of this blog is really clueless about the scientific data on alternative medicine. Pharmapaths(MDs) are the quacks, my friend, monopolizing all medicinal modalities, but practicing only one….

  20. #20 Chris
    April 7, 2011

    john:

    Wow, the author of this blog is really clueless about the scientific data on alternative medicine.

    Then provide the papers with the scientific data. Include the journal, title and date so that we can learn. That would be more effective than random insults.

  21. #21 Richard Wolford
    April 7, 2011

    John, please voluntarily infect yourself with HIV and then cure yourself using only alternative “medicine.” Put up or shut up.

  22. #22 Phoenix Woman
    April 7, 2011

    I wish that Adams would have lobbied the North Carolina lege to keep them from making it all but illegal for municipalities to start up and own their own public broadband networks. (Existing ones are also made to stop providing affordable broadband — how dare they undercut those wonderful civic-minded corporations whose top officers pull down more money in a year than you or I will see in our entire lifetimes!)

    North Carolina: Where you have the right to dose yourself with dangerous crap but you don’t have the right to the same sort of affordable and fast internet they have in most other industrialized nations.

  23. #23 Pareidolius
    April 7, 2011

    Uh, John honey, citations, por favor. Otherwise, go get mommy’s purse, the grown-ups are talking.

  24. #24 Magra
    April 7, 2011

    this bill seems to be related to the CPM (Medwin) who recently had a homebirth death. When Adams put “midwife” in there (and didn’t differentiate between a CNM and CPM) it threw up a red flag. CPMs are illegal in NC, and recently Medwin attended a HB, in which the baby died. Turns out, she had been arrested in 98 for another HB death. this bill seems to be in relation to that situation, where previously it was a misdemeanor, and now legislatures want it to be a felony to actually stop people from practicing?

  25. #25 lilady
    April 7, 2011

    @ Magra: I located the story of the support of the unlicensed midwife at:

    Charlotte Observer Rally planned to protest arrest of N.C. midwife (March 1, 2011)

    North Carolina only “licenses” nurse-midwifes, not amateurs who have taken some midwife courses. Some dopey women cross the border into South Carolina, where amateur midwifes are licensed, but Medwin was “practicing” without a license in North Carolina.

    The victim (the dead infant) cannot complain and the dopey mother still supports the amateur.

    I’m thinking that the dead infant has some rights here to press criminal charges (through a court appointed representative). How about manslaughter/depraved indifference to human life charge?

  26. #26 One Queer Fish
    April 7, 2011

    Chris

    Do ya!ever practice what you preach ?give me links to what I aked for over on the other page ..still waiting C`mon then??

    “Then provide the papers with the scientific data. Include the journal, title and date so that we can learn. That would be more effective than random insults.”

  27. #27 Lawrence
    April 7, 2011

    Hey stupid troll – nice that you’ve ignored every link that everyone has posted. Learn some better english & try again.

  28. #28 K
    April 7, 2011

    Health freedom? More like health terrorism.

  29. #29 K
    April 7, 2011

    Health freedom? More like health terrorism.

  30. #30 Denice Walter
    April 7, 2011

    In today’s article, Mike Adams congratulates his followers for their successful campaign to dilute the legislation via their e-mail and phone calls. This leads me to some questions:

    How much does it take? I recall a figure of “350K” calls being bandied about by Null after the defeat of DSSA.( True, he also claims to have “millions of listeners”). Possibly a relatively small number of devoted adherents could make a few thousand calls a day.
    How selective is the counting**? Do legislative
    staffers ask for an address to screen out people who reside in other areas? Perhaps a “barrage” is just that.

    As I’ve said previously, a concerted effort by a few can do a lot of harm to many.

    ** in my own experience, we always asked people to honestly state who they are, where they lived, etc.

  31. #31 Chris
    April 7, 2011

    OQF, I gave you a link you needed, since you seem to have trouble reading what has been written here.

  32. #32 Militant Agnostic
    April 7, 2011

    In my experience Citizens for “X” is almost always an AstroTurf organization that is actually corporations/businesses/conmen against “X” or interested in ensuring that they can continue to screw over the public with regard to “X”.

    My wife once attended a seminar run by an organization called Citizens for Quality Healthcare which turned out to be primarily interested in dismantling the Canadian publicly funded health care system. In Alberta we have Citizens for Quality Science (or Integrity in Science or something like that). Unsurprisingly this is a petroleum industry funded AstroTurf AGW denialist organization.

    Bottom line – Citizens for ________ is nearly always an AstroTurf organization funded by a group interested in preventing legislation that would interfere with them screwing over the public. The Citizens for Health Care Freedom do not disappoint in this regard. A visit to their website clearly indicates they are a front for Big Herba and Alt Med con artists.

  33. #33 Lynn Wilhelm
    April 7, 2011

    About the case of the midwife noted above. The arrest was after this bill was first filed. So I don’t think there is a connection.
    I heard it was a result of some guy impersonating an MD then doing the same in another state. But there were no citations given for that claim (but that came from a CAM supporter).

  34. #34 lilady
    April 8, 2011

    @ Lynn Wilhelm: I’m uncertain about when the bill was first drawn up. But this “amateur” Medwin was not licensed to practice in North Carolina; only medical doctors and licensed nurse-midwifes are permitted to deliver a baby.

    We simply don’t know what her education level is to provide pre-natal care, to monitor the pregnant woman, to monitor the mother’s vital signs throughout the pregnancy and during the delivery or to monitor the fetus for fetal distress. Because she is an “amateur”, she never ordered blood tests for STDs, for hepatitis B and for anemia. Vaginal and Rectal swabs to test for Group B colonization should be done 5 weeks before due date and treatment provided to protect the infant from devastating, life-threatening infection.

    CPMs can receive their “certification” by taking courses or by being self-taught. I was unable to find any “course descriptions” on the internet.

    Apparently Medwin was attending another birth a few years back where the infant died and she was arrested on a “misdemeanor” charge of being unlicensed in the State. There is some (unconfirmed) information that a month before this most recent arrest, she attended a birth where the infant was unable to be delivered (shoulder dystocia) and the mother was sent to the hospital and delivered there. Medwin “claims” to have left the home before the delivery.

    I cannot fathom how these pregnant women are convinced that home delivery by an unlicensed midwife, with no verifiable credentials or education, is “natural”.

  35. #35 Billie
    April 8, 2011

    I am blown away by the ignorance expressed by the author of this article and so many who have commented here. Acupuncture and herbology for instance has been EFFECTIVE treatments for hundreds of diseases for thousands of years.

    When medical monopolists attempted to prevent treatments that would lighten their wallets they claimed accupuncture was “all in your mind”.

    Acupuncturists responded by demonstrating that acupuncture was also healing to animals like dogs, horses and cats who could not have a placebo response.

    I was told by six orthopedists over a period of five years that the chronic inflammation of my sciatic nerve could not be treated. I would, they said, remain a bedridden cripple winding down to an early death but they could offer me a morphine drip to ease my pain. When I refused to accept this prognosis it was suggested I needed to see a therapist who could help me accept my fate.

    Instead I made a study of nerve damage which led me to acupuncture which led me to being healed sufficiently to lead a normal life.

    When diagnosed with diabetes, I quickly learned if I followed tradition treatment I would guarantee myself a premature death from diabetes and/or the effects of the medications.

    Instead, I chose a completely natural method of herbs, diet and exercise…….and totally control my diabetes while taking no deadly medications.

    Those who mindlessly and ignorantly defend the medical monopoly, that exists in the West particularly, are simply signing their own death warrents for lack of real and accurate information.

  36. #36 Cerise
    April 8, 2011

    @34-lilady, I don’t understand how home birth with an unlicensed midwife can be seen as safe or natural either. Forums on parenting sites seem to indicate its more about sticking it to the government and the medical profession rather than ensuring the safety and wellbeing of not just themselves but also their precious newborn. The midwife’s charisma is more important than licensing.
    @35-Billie, clearly you have type 2 diabetes which is initially controlled by improved diet and exercise. You’re not adding anything of substance to the conversation.

  37. #37 Narad
    April 8, 2011

    Acupuncture and herbology for instance has been EFFECTIVE treatments for hundreds of diseases for thousands of years.

    How were acupuncture needles fashioned thousands of years ago, Billie?

  38. #38 The Founding Mothers
    April 8, 2011

    @Billie, 35

    Acupuncture and herbology for instance has been EFFECTIVE treatments for hundreds of diseases for thousands of years.

    [citation needed]. Don’t be such a silly-billy. I went to the doctor with mind-blowing, searing, unable to breathe easily back pain. He suggested acupuncture. I didn’t have the breath to say ‘no’. It didn’t work. The horse-tranquilizers he gave me did. Since then, I’ve mixed prescription drugs, alcohol and sports in various quantities to enable myself to live a fruitful, fun life.

  39. #39 MI Dawn
    April 8, 2011

    @lilady: Actually, I don’t think they are doing routine GBS swabs anymore. At least, when I quit working as a CNM we were not as more medical studies (gee! medicine reviewed itself and changed its recommendations BASED ON SCIENCE! OH NOES!!!11!!!) had shown it was not cost effective nor medically necessary to test all women.

    @Billie: acupuncture is NOT “thousands of years” old. If you would read information, it actually started during the Cultural Revolution. Nice that you think it worked for you, though.

    As for your diabetes: yes, diet and exercise can control type II diabetes quite nicely. My husband has done the same (although, because he is still a bit overweight, he is still taking medication but much less and a lower dose then when he started). His diabetes is well controlled and he has not had any problems from it. His physician is quite concerned about his diet and exercise and encourages him in his efforts. Strange, that, he’s trying to get my husband OFF all medications, if he can…

    I have killfiled OQF and little augie. Once in a while I’ll check in on their rantings, but they just get TOO boring after a time.

  40. #40 Jud
    April 8, 2011

    billie writes:

    When diagnosed with diabetes, I quickly learned if I followed tradition treatment I would guarantee myself a premature death from diabetes and/or the effects of the medications.

    Instead, I chose a completely natural method of herbs, diet and exercise…….and totally control my diabetes while taking no deadly medications.

    Thus those who prematurely died from diabetes in the centuries before “deadly medications” (such as insulin – cut out that pancreas before it kills you!) had been invented evidently must have practiced time travel.

  41. #41 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    April 8, 2011

    billie: “When diagnosed with diabetes, I quickly learned if I followed tradition treatment I would guarantee myself a premature death from diabetes and/or the effects of the medications.

    Instead, I chose a completely natural method of herbs, diet and exercise…….and totally control my diabetes while taking no deadly medications.”

    Assuming that you ‘learned’ this after a diagnosis as an adult, then chances are it was a type 2 diabetes dx.

    Know what the treatment is for that?

    Insulin?

    No.

    Change of diet to something that will allow you to live but doesn’t have the carbs content that allowed the diabetes to become apparent for diagnosis. And … um … exercise.

    No need for insulin… the diet sees to most problems.

    No need for stupid herbs either.

    Get a life. And learn before you post.

    N

  42. #42 Dangerous Bacon
    April 8, 2011

    : “I was told by six orthopedists over a period of five years that the chronic inflammation of my sciatic nerve could not be treated. I would, they said, remain a bedridden cripple winding down to an early death”

    Did they all do Snidely Whiplash laughs as they said this? Those doctors!

    I find it a bit difficult to believe that “herbology” has been used for “thousands of years”, since I only began hearing the term “herbology” in recent years from people who think it sounds more science-y and mysterious than “herbalism”.

    The hoo-hah over SB 31 in North Carolina is only the latest example of alties trying to gin up panic over regulatory proposals. Whether it’s Codex or a bill to limit practice of quackery without a license, we get these world-is-coming-to-an-end diatribes at frequent intervals. Apparently the goal is to keep the marks the faithful constantly on edge so they’ll order big supplies of their favorite nostrums (before the Man takes them away) and send in their dough to support the groups supposedly lobbying to protect “health freedom”, a.k.a. “the freedom to sell whatever crap I want using any bogus claims I want”.

  43. #43 Beamup
    April 8, 2011

    Acupuncture and herbology for instance has been EFFECTIVE treatments for hundreds of diseases for thousands of years.

    Then you should have no trouble providing robust scientific evidence to back up that claim.

    But I’m not holding my breath.

  44. #44 Heliantus
    April 8, 2011

    @ Dangerous Bacon

    I find it a bit difficult to believe that “herbology” has been used for “thousands of years”, since I only began hearing the term “herbology” in recent years from people who think it sounds more science-y and mysterious than “herbalism”.

    Ditto. For some reason, I keep misreading “herbology” as “hubology”.

  45. #45 Lynn Wilhelm
    April 8, 2011

    Herbology…isn’t that the name of a class at Hogwarts?

    It looks like this bill passed it’s 2nd and 3rd reading in the House yesterday. I think that means it’s done. I can’t see that any changes were made. So I suppose it’s on to the governor, if that’s required. She can veto it, but I hope not.
    Couldn’t hurt to contact her: governor(dot)office(at)nc(dot)gov

  46. #46 The Founding Mothers
    April 8, 2011

    Wasn’t ‘herbology’ an album by The Roots, promoting marijuana use?

  47. #47 Calli Arcale
    April 8, 2011

    Billie:

    I am blown away by the ignorance expressed by the author of this article and so many who have commented here. Acupuncture and herbology for instance has been EFFECTIVE treatments for hundreds of diseases for thousands of years.

    True or false, what does this mean for the subject under discussion — whether the public deserves protection against frauds? Anybody can administer medicine, if they know how, but if they aren’t required to hold a license, then there is no way to stop people who don’t know what they’re doing and don’t care, because all they really want to do is make money. Totally apart from the question of whether or not acupuncture works, why on earth would you be okay with people lying about their credentials to trick you into thinking they know more than they do and have your best interests at heart?

    I know one popular counterargument — the licensing boards don’t do a good enough job of removing bad doctors. This is often true, and in states like North Carolina, it’s especially true. There are some real horror stories, and they’re not all from unlicensed quacks. There are MDs who probably should not only lose their license but go to jail.

    The solution isn’t to remove licensing. It’s to tighten it. Remove licensing, and the situation will only get worse. It’ll be a big “FRAUDS WELCOME HERE!” sign.

    When medical monopolists attempted to prevent treatments that would lighten their wallets they claimed accupuncture was “all in your mind”.

    Well, actually, the evidence suggests this is actually true — it does not outperform placebo. That’s not to say it doesn’t work; it’s just that it works as well as placebos do, and frankly, there are placebos a lot cheaper. This isn’t protectionism; considering the workload at most clinics, I think doctors would be happy with their patients getting referred to an acupuncturist. It’s not like they’ll run out of patients. It’s a genuine opinion that acupuncture doesn’t work. Why would you expect a doctor who doesn’t believe in acupuncture to say something glowing about it?

    Acupuncturists responded by demonstrating that acupuncture was also healing to animals like dogs, horses and cats who could not have a placebo response.

    This is actually untrue — dogs, horses and cats most certainly can have a placebo response, and placebo is about more than just the patient. I would like to see a study done, but I have a hunch that the placebo effect may actually be *larger* in domestic animals, becuase it’s not just about the animal — it’s about the person assessing the animal. And that person can’t actually feel what the animal is feeling, so any continuing pain won’t intrude on the observer’s consciousness to tell them what’s really going on. It’s a lot harder to judge pain in an animal than in yourself, which should *inflate* the placebo effect significantly.

    How do you objectively measure a horse’s pain? You can’t. It’s not like you can say “on a scale of 1 to 10, how do you feel?”

    I was told by six orthopedists over a period of five years that the chronic inflammation of my sciatic nerve could not be treated. I would, they said, remain a bedridden cripple winding down to an early death but they could offer me a morphine drip to ease my pain. When I refused to accept this prognosis it was suggested I needed to see a therapist who could help me accept my fate.

    I have no idea how accurate this is; I could see crippling pain making you a bit more cynical in your assessment of their opinions. Odds are, they were giving you a worst-case scenario. But your case reminds me a bit of my maternal grandmother. She suffered sciatic pain for years, and it was increasingly hampering her day-to-day activities. She tried everything, including all sorts of pain relievers and direct cortisone injections. She even tried surgery. Nothing worked. Doctors were flummoxed; they couldn’t figure out exactly what was causing the pain, much less correct it.

    Then, for no reason anybody can see, the pain went away. Sometimes that happens. You can’t count on it, so doctors won’t usually mention “do nothing” as a treatment option. (They also don’t like being throttled with their own stethoscopes, which I suspect would happen if they were told this blinding pain might go away in five or six years, so let’s not do anything.)

    Instead I made a study of nerve damage which led me to acupuncture which led me to being healed sufficiently to lead a normal life.

    Congratulations — except, would you care to share what you learned? Because as far as I’m aware, there is no way to heal nerve damage with acupuncture. I mean, I’m sure you wouldn’t advocate a medical monopoly by keeping this knowledge to yourself.

    When diagnosed with diabetes, I quickly learned if I followed tradition treatment I would guarantee myself a premature death from diabetes and/or the effects of the medications.

    I wonder where you learned that? Since the traditional treatment for most adult-onset diabetes is diet and lifestyle changes, with medication only used to limit the damage until the blood sugar and insulin levels can be brought under control.

    Those who mindlessly and ignorantly defend the medical monopoly, that exists in the West particularly, are simply signing their own death warrents for lack of real and accurate information.

    My great-grandparents believed the way you do, that listening to doctors would sign their death warrants. So my great-grandfathered died in pain and agony, because he wouldn’t let my grandmother call a doctor. He was cold by the time the doctor arrived, and difficult to get down the narrow stairs of the house. (They had to sort of stand him up to get him around the corner; rigor mortis had set in.) That didn’t have to happen.

    BTW — you’re so enthusiastic about herbalism, but unless your herbalist is one of those who just makes it up as he goes along, if he actually knows what he’s doing, it’s just pharmacology with a very limited and unreliable palette of options. (I’d rather use atropine than belladonna, for instance, and would prefer capsaicin cream to a habanero puree. And I don’t limit myself to what comes straight out of a plant. Analogs or synthetics are fine by me. Yeast-made pseudephedrine is better than ma huang, in my opinion.) Most pharmaceuticals come from plants, or from yeast genetically engineered to do what the plant did, or from a chemical process that duplicates what the plant does. They’re not fundamentally different as medicines. But there are ethical, economic, and practical reasons why the approved pharmaceutical versions are better choices to do the same job.

  48. #48 lilady
    April 8, 2011

    Recommendations for vaginal and rectal swabs are still recommended during late pregnancy for testing of colonization of Group B Strep; see recommendations at:

    CDC GBS in Newborns November 10, 2010

    These recommendations should be followed by obstetricians, family practice physicians and nurse-midwifes. In spite of these testing recommendations 1,200 babies are born each year who are infected. When I worked in public health we saw a few cases of neonatal Group B septicicemia and menigitis…if the infant survived it was an extended stay in the NICU with with some devastating sequelae. Other reports of infected newborns came from the autopsy reports sent from the County Medical Examiner.

    If a woman arrives in a hospital close to delivery and received no prenatal care/no testing results available for presence of colonization of GBS, the woman should receive IV antibiotics throughout the hospital delivery. Similar recommendations are in place for unknown Hepatitis B status of a woman who has delivered a baby in a hospital; infant receives #1 Hepatitis B vaccine and Hepatitis B IG immediately after birth.

    @ Billie: Bedridden cripple and early death from sciatic nerve impingement….I don’t think so. I had sciatic nerve impinge during both of my pregnancies and episodic sciatica aggravated by hefting my multiply handicapped wheelchair bound younger child around. I had Vicodan and Flexiril and my trusty heating pad and still “managed”.

    Type II diabetes is what you were diagnosed with and easily managed with weight loss, cutting out the crappy carbs and increased exercise. Licensed physicians, licensed nurses and licensed dieticians offer expert advice to change your eating habits and to lose the fat. Utter nonsense about your impending death from diabetes and diabetic treatment.

    We welcome additional posts from you, but be aware that we all are educated in the sciences and will want citations from peer reviewed studies about the effectiveness of any and all alternative medicine treatments.

  49. #49 prn
    April 8, 2011

    I don’t have a problem prosecuting misrepresentations, like
    “Ima Fraud, MD”, for a person who never followed a medical course of study, as a felony.

    However, given prior successful grabs at nutrition in both the US and Europe as “medicine”, sweeping felony UPM language is begging for trouble with any expansive definition of medicine that snags nutrition as medicine. Ditto lab centric work, I might really prefer a PhD holder.

    Some of the best vitamins, perhaps most natural forms and most effective, have been, or are, prescription items. Perhaps their “crime” was cost of synthesis, difficulty of extraction, or instability in summer heat without chilled air being late to market for DSHEA exemption, like L-5MTHF (active folate). Or even the FDA fraud against pyridoximine (B6) to ignore DSHEA exemptions (available and on labels in the 1960s, pre-1994, saw it myself) now a prescription medicine. Certain prepared animal foodstuffs are also FDA classed as drugs. So it is not paranoia to be concerned about UPM being set against individuals’ nutrition needs. Similar “medicalization” has already happened.

    If the “Upper limit” were set as “medicine”, similar to Europe, many cancer victims might be condemned to vitamin deficiency D without a $100-200 script for one year, and a dollar pill for a cent, or less, of vitamin D3. I’ve seen daily 10,000+ iu D3 still come in as insufficient (vs UL 2000-4000 iu).

    Moving UPM en masse to felony status sounds like a legislative two step looking for a fight. Then we would only need the “slightly enhanced definition” to start a real one.

  50. #50 lilady
    April 8, 2011

    @ prn: You haven’t provided citations for the results of scientific studies about recommended daily intakes of the Vitamin D or Vitamin B6, for infants, adults and the elderly. Nor have you provided citations for the results of scientific studies for treatment of diseases/disorder that require very high and toxic levels of Vitamin D and B6; please cite case scientific studies that high and toxic levels of these vitamins, have effected cures.

    The Office Of Dietary Supplements at the NIH provides very complete “Fact Sheets” about Vitamin D and Vitamin B-6 including Recommended Doses for all age groups, for people who have certain diseases/disorders, laboratory testing and the severe effects of high/toxic doses of the vitamins. The fact sheets are available on the web at:

    ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets.vitamind (vitaminB6)

    BTW: Vitamin B6 and other B complex vitamins are usually only prescribed (and strictly monitored) for a very limited number of patients. Vitamin B6 is also prescribed with the three first line antibiotics (Isoniazid, Rifampin and Ethambutal), for treatment of latent TB infection and active drug-sensitive TB disease; Isoniazid tends to deplete Vitamin B6 stores in the body.

  51. #51 Liz C
    April 8, 2011

    Ummm…honeybabe? I don’t NEED the government, in all of its infinite wisdom (because we all know the government has THEIR act together, right? *dramatically rolling eyes*) ahem, anyway I don’t need the government to “protect” me against “quacks”. I happen to have a BRAIN and I prefer to make my own damn choices about my own damn body.

    I feel bad for you poor little victims out there who need big daddy government holding your hand. Grow up and stop whining. If you don’t want to visit a quack DON’T. Problem SOLVED.

  52. #52 Gray Falcon
    April 8, 2011

    I feel bad for you poor little victims out there who need big daddy government holding your hand. Grow up and stop whining. If you don’t want to visit a quack DON’T. Problem SOLVED.

    Tell me, what’s it like being a psychopath? Don’t you have any concern for the health and safety of others? Besides that, there’s the fact that most of use have health insurance, and don’t want to be subsidizing the fakes and charlatans.

  53. #53 Composer99
    April 8, 2011

    Liz C:

    Perhaps you can explain why quacks lying to people to make money from them is so distinct from other forms of fraud as to require no attempt by authorities to prevent it.

  54. #54 Rogue Epidemiologist
    April 8, 2011

    I feel bad for you poor little victims out there who need big daddy government holding your hand. Grow up and stop whining. If you don’t want to visit a quack DON’T. Problem SOLVED.

    And when your quack damn near kills you with some snake-oil cure, then don’t come to our government-funded hospitals or clinics. And don’t die on the sidewalk, either, ’cause some municipal employee will have to clean up your mess.

  55. #55 JJ
    April 8, 2011

    I’m curious with some of this! I live outside of NC, and I discussed with my doctor seeing an “alternative” practitioner and I found one that is also a current RN and works with my doctor! If my doctor doesn’t like something and suggest something else they work hand in hand to improve my health. Much of it has been finding foods I can and cannot eat, and it has been MUCH cheaper and easier on my system than allergy testing, but of course we can’t discuss it that way, but my doctor asked her to help!

    Amazing team work I still take all my full medical load from my doctors all 16 and this practitioner has helped me find the teas I can drink, and foods I can eat that will not aggravate my system and create harmony! For instance I cannot drink chamomile tea with six of my medications, but because I couldn’t sleep I thought it might help. I’m glad I asked her first…could have created severe heart palpitations, but I can have mint. Even some seasonings I cannot use. It is an extensive list jut for me! Things I would have never known or my doctor just simply on the things I cooks with and the medications I take. Nothing to do with treating the actual illness my doctor does that! They knew the interaction of drug/food/drink/herb concept!

  56. #56 prn
    April 9, 2011

    And when your quack damn near kills you with some snake-oil cure,
    …when YOUR quack kills someone with some corruptly approved and promoted snake venom, do we get our money back or even an apology? Didn’t think so.

    then don’t come to our government-funded hospitals or clinics
    Already done. Just don’t ask us to pay for them, too.

  57. #57 Tsu Dho Nimh
    April 9, 2011

    I think this is what they are really worried about: cutting off the cash flow for their non-medical diagnostics and treatments.

    Any person who practices medicine or surgery without being duly licensed and registered, as provided in this Article shall not be allowed to maintain any action to collect any fee for such services.

    ********************
    @35 – Billy said, Acupuncture and herbology for instance has been EFFECTIVE treatments for hundreds of diseases for thousands of years. WRONG. Every writing I have from Chinese and non-Chinese sources (translations of Chinese memoirs, missionary writings from 1600 to 1920, etc.) says they died by the hundreds of thousands in China, even with “needling” and all the “ancient wisdom” and herbology.

    EXAMPLE: During the 1910 pneumonic plague outbreak (in Siberia and north-eastern China), there was an unplanned side-by-side trial of the “traditional” Chinese methods versus the Western medicine.
    They [the merchants] opened their hospital. On one side of the compound were isolation quarters, and on the other rooms for undoubted Plague cases, who were treated by needling and other methods, all under the charge of two native doctors”. —- No proper precautions were taken, no masks were worn. Rapidly the disease spread. Those on the isolation side became infected, and almost all died, including the two doctors.Then in consternation the merchants allowed the police to disinfect and close the place. It had been in use for twelve days, and 251 had died, most of them in the last week.

    The strict isolation and quarantines set up by the Moukden authorities and the British missionary physicians kept the plague from overwhelming Moukden and moving on to Peking’s millions.

    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2019786/controlling_pneumonic_plague_in_china.html

    Thirty years in Moukden, 1883-1913 by Dugald Christie, Constable and Company Ltd., 1914

    ****
    An outbreak in 2010 was controlled with ispolation, quarantine and antibiotics: a few dead, and it didn’t spread past the village it started in.

  58. #58 John C. Welch
    April 9, 2011

    I love the “just don’t go to a Quack, problem solved” idiocy.

    Without licensing and oversight, exactly, pray tell, exactly how do you identify a quack?

  59. #59 Chris
    April 9, 2011

    John C. Welch:

    Without licensing and oversight, exactly, pray tell, exactly how do you identify a quack?

    By educating yourself, often by coming here or the ScienceBasedMedicine blogs. Unfortunately some of the worst quacks are licensed medical doctors like Rashid Buttar, Joseph Mercola, Nicholas Gonzalez and Roy Kerry (the guy who killed a kid with chelation). The medical boards are spineless. Put Rashid Buttar’s name in the search box on the upper left of this page to read about that, and while you are at it put in the names of the doctors I listed.

  60. #60 lilady
    April 10, 2011

    @ Chris: You said a mouthful…about educating yourself and making use of the internet for reliable information.

    Even with licensing, some doctors and nurses are tempted by the quick money and quick fame. Dr. kerry did kill the little boy by treating his autism with chelation “therapy”.

    Oral and IV chelation is only indicated for elevated heavy metal blood levels (typically children who are exposed to or ingest lead-based paint chips). Some genetic disorders such as Wilson’s disease where the body stores high copper levels are also treated by chelation. Chelation is never indicated for treatment of autism. One only needs to key in “chelation” and search the internet to see how many CAM practitioners offer this “treatment” for a variety of “conditions”…including autism.

    The chelation therapy that killed him was administered in 3 separate IV Pushes of the wrong chelating agent, during a 15 minute period. The wrong calcium chelating agent, administered via the wrong route, is what stopped his heart and killed him.

  61. #61 Chris
    April 10, 2011

    lilady, the really sad thing about that little boy, whose only “crime” was being autistic, was they tried to claim he had elevated lead levels. Well, if that was really true he would have been treated in the UK by their National Health Service (NHS), and not have to travel over the pond to have the child strapped to a bed and be forced to undergo a treatment that stripped away essential elements from his body.

    The child was executed. His only “crime” was not being a normal kid.

  62. #62 Heliantus
    April 10, 2011

    @ prn

    And when your quack damn near kills you with some snake-oil cure,

    …when YOUR quack kills someone with some corruptly approved and promoted snake venom, do we get our money back or even an apology? Didn’t think so.

    I remember dimly (but I could be wrong) that some money was given back, and then some, for thalidomide and other past drug failures. Or, more recently in my country, for Mediator (case pending, actually, but the manufacturer has shown to be willing to pay).
    Not to mention all these special courts for vaccine injuries.
    Granted, under public pressure. Funny how people are more likely to behave when someone is watching them.

    And there certainly are cases where apologies and penalties could have been a bit more forthcoming and meaningful.
    And it’s not just US medical boards who have a reputation for spinelessness.
    And I have in memories some bloody messes in healthcare which originated at the political level. And in these cases, funny enough, apologies were even less forthcoming.
    And if the voters were a bit more consistent in not electing twice con-men and other convicted felons, that would help, too.

    But whatever ails the medical establishment (and alternative practitioners are part of it, as they are part of the available healthcare, even if we don’t like it), I have some trouble accepting that the answer to any of these issues should be more laissez-faire.

  63. #63 lilady
    April 10, 2011

    Chelation scam artists don’t just target parents whose children have autism; they advertise all over the internet with unscientific blather for treatments of other diseases and disorders.

    An excellent article about the “treatment” and the death of the five year old Abukar Tariq Nadama is available on the net:

    When Quackery Kills (Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick)

    Some articles on the internet describe the youngster as “African American”…he was born in the UK and lived in Batheaston Devon, England and the mother attended a seminar about chelation for autism treatment in England. Dr. Fitzpatrick mentions the tie-ins that the American scam artists had with the seminar sponsors…including the drug company that was developing single-antigen measles vaccine and Dr. Wakefield.

    When I worked in a county health department, where we had a lot of older housing, all pediatricians screened toddlers for elevated lead blood levels. We saw a dramatic decrease in the numbers of kids who had neurologically damaging elevated blood levels, that required chelation, since the implementation of blood screening levels. All laboratories who performed such testing sent any elevated (> 10 mcg/dL) to our office for follow-up with the pediatrician.

    Elevated blood lead levels in the U.S. have decreased dramatically by banning paint containing lead in 1977 and banning lead in gasoline as of January 1, 1996. All older houses and apartments have lead-containing paint on their walls and it is not problematic…as long as the walls have been repainted…and as long as their are no cracks and paint chips. Some parents inadvertently expose their children to lead based paint by tearing down walls. Other kids chew on imported venetian blinds and toys loaded with lead contaminated paint. We also had trained lead-abatement program team members who expected the homes of youngsters and tested any “suspicious” toys and paint chips.

    @ prn: The CAM scam artists are famous for using labs that use unapproved/unscientific lab testing modalities to get the “test results” they want…and that they call sell you treatments for.

  64. #64 lilady
    April 10, 2011

    Oops, the lead-abatement program team members “inspected” the homes of youngsters…

  65. #65 lilady
    April 10, 2011

    (Totally off-topic) I just read an article in the NY Times about the nuclear power plants in Japan…very interesting.

    NY Times reprints are “available” on the internet by paid subscription, but you can view the entire article for free for a short period of time after publication if you key in the exact headline:

    Braving Heat And Radiation For Temp Job NY Times April 10, 2011

  66. #66 Chris
    April 10, 2011

    lilady, or walk into the library and read their copy.

  67. #67 lilady
    April 10, 2011

    @ Chris: When I don’t get the Sunday Times…I also go to my local library because the librarians print copies of the NY Times Sunday Magazine Crossword puzzle which I am addicted to, for library patrons.

    I found the article of interest because of the employment of “Temp” workers to do the really dangerous maintenance activities and the dirty work. It reminds me of the Middle Eastern oil producing countries who hire “guest workers” from Africa and Asia to do the dirty work.

  68. #68 Chris
    April 10, 2011

    lilady, it was an interesting article. Especially when it started that the guards insisted everyone go through the exit procedure as they were being warned about the tsunami.

    I read it by logging into my library’s Proquest subscription using my library card number.

  69. #69 squirrelelite
    April 10, 2011

    @lilady,

    I read the same article this morning.

    We have a similar tiered system in a lot of companies in the U.S. with “real” employees, contracted and subcontracted employees and temporary hires.

    I don’t encourage deliberately exposing less educated or just poorer workers to extra harm. But, it was at least encouraging that everything I read showed they were using proper dosimetry procedures to limit and spread around the exposures to minimize injuries to individual workers.

    It was frustrating to read how workers were concealing injuries that might be radiation related in order to keep their jobs.

    I saw a prominent physicist on a major television network suggest that the Japanese government should step in and provide military personnel to provide extra labor. At the time I wondered if sending in people who haven’t been specially trained to work in radiation hazard situations would be an improvement. But, at least they volunteered to accept some unknown dangers when they joined the military.

  70. #70 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    April 11, 2011

    “I happen to have a BRAIN”

    … which, evidently, doesn’t work!

  71. #71 greenseattlemom
    April 11, 2011

    Orac writes: “Homeopaths, herbalists, and traditional Chinese medicine shouldn’t be treating real diseases. They actually shouldn’t really be treating anyone because their methods are either unproven, disproven, pure pseudoscience, or based on prescientific ideas about how the human body functions and disease disrupts that function.”

    Really? I mean, REALLY?

    Orac, have you or any of your herd of sheep even looked at the health statistics from the U.S recently?

    As Americans, we are the most over-prescribed country in the world. Although we represent about 5% of the world’s population- we actually consume more than 50% of its prescriptions. Hmmm. That doesn’t sound like the seal of approval for a great healthcare system to me.

    The facts are these- The Journal of the American Association reports that over 100K people die each year from properly prescribed medications. Do you know how many people die from illegal street drug use each year? 15K. Prescription drugs are TOXIC, and your licensed doctors are prescribing them hand over fist.

    Homeopaths and alternative practioners work with natural healing methods that have worked for centuries, long before big pharma took over our healthcare system. And yet somehow the human race survived quite well on natural remedies.

    Why the hostility toward natural cures and treatments? Why do you feel so threatened by them? Are you afraid you might have to take responsibility for your own health and wellness rather than basking in the laziness of blindly following your doctor’s big-pharma-influenced advice? Are you a complete child? I mean, children blindly rely on, and trust, their parents to take care of them. But then they grow up and take on the responsibility for themselves. At least, they are supposed to. Now adults just transfer their rights and responsibilities to their local HMO and wash their hands of it. Much easier to blame them when things go wrong- like drug side effects, misdiagnosis, malpractice and death.

    Have you ever actually spoken to a homeopath? I’ve never known one who sold snake oil myself, but they do often give the most sensible advice- eliminate processed foods, limit caffeine, eat whole foods that are free of pesticides, antibiotics and hormones, drink tea, get fresh air, get plenty of natural sunlight and exercise, reduce stress by simplifying your life and elevate your mood by loving yourself and being tolerant of others. They also advocate a toxic-free lifestyle like eliminating negativity and out-of-control anger. And most importantly, get in tune with nature and your body’s natural rhythms. If every doctor told these things to their patients, we’d have fewer sick people and fewer deaths as a result of ‘modern medicine’.

    Here are some more facts: In the average year, more than 1.6 million people are hospitalized due to side effects of prescribed drugs. How many last year were hospitalized as a result of guided meditation? Zero.

    In US hospitals, a serious drug error occurs in one out of every 14 patients- Harvard School of Public health.

    Medical malpractice from LICENSED physicians is responsible for 80,000 deaths per year, one every seven minutes- Public Citizen. How many deaths occur as a result of therapeutic massage? Zero.

    A 13-year study showed that 66% of all over-the-counter drugs don’t work- US Public Health Service

    45,000 people die each year due to angiograms for the heart, with no evidence they work at all. How many people die from gardening? Zero. Yet gardening, meditation and massage are all legitimate ways to help the body be healthy and free of disease.

    One-fourth of all elderly Americans are prescribed at least one “inappropriate and dangerous drug” each year- USA Today

    Holistic practioners do not contribute in any way to these alarming numbers. How can you think to criticize healers and providers of natural remedies when conventional medicine clearly kills, clearly maims, and clearly does not work?

    In a country where big pharma rules and we have a prescription drug for every complaint, are we any healthier or safer? Do fewer people have cancer today than 20 years ago? No, MORE people do. How about diabetes? How about heart disease? How about depression? How about addictions? How about obesity? The list goes on.

    When conventional doctors start dealing with lifestyle and getting patients to understand the importance of healthy diet, attitude and exercise, and start warning against prescriptions that do not work, then we can compare apples to apples.

  72. #72 Beamup
    April 11, 2011

    As Americans, we are the most over-prescribed country in the world. Although we represent about 5% of the world’s population- we actually consume more than 50% of its prescriptions. Hmmm. That doesn’t sound like the seal of approval for a great healthcare system to me.

    Which legitimizes garbage how, exactly?

    Homeopaths and alternative practioners work with natural healing methods that have worked for centuries, long before big pharma took over our healthcare system. And yet somehow the human race survived quite well on natural remedies.

    Citations needed for such methods ever having worked at all, much less for centuries (most woo is actually very recently invented, including homeopathy). And yeah, people were SO healthy in the past. Must be why there are all those graveyards full of dead babies.

    Why the hostility toward natural cures and treatments?

    Why not? Who could NOT feel hostility towards frauds who steal people’s money, provide them nothing of value, and all-too-often kill them by steering them away from stuff that actually WORKS?

    Have you ever actually spoken to a homeopath? I’ve never known one who sold snake oil myself

    Homeopathy IS snake oil. It does absolutely nothing whatsoever beyond placebo effect.

    but they do often give the most sensible advice- eliminate processed foods, limit caffeine, eat whole foods that are free of pesticides, antibiotics and hormones, drink tea, get fresh air, get plenty of natural sunlight and exercise, reduce stress by simplifying your life and elevate your mood by loving yourself and being tolerant of others. They also advocate a toxic-free lifestyle like eliminating negativity and out-of-control anger. And most importantly, get in tune with nature and your body’s natural rhythms.

    Those of these that aren’t simply made-up New Age woo with no foundation ARE stressed by MDs.

    Here are some more facts: In the average year, more than 1.6 million people are hospitalized due to side effects of prescribed drugs. How many last year were hospitalized as a result of guided meditation? Zero.

    Now, if you only included the figures for those helped by prescription medication (far more than 1.6M), those helped by woo (zero), and those harmed by avoiding real medicine in favor of woo (more than zero), you’d actually have a comparison that meant something.

    Holistic practioners do not contribute in any way to these alarming numbers. How can you think to criticize healers and providers of natural remedies when conventional medicine clearly kills, clearly maims, and clearly does not work?

    Citation needed for “clearly does not work”, as well as (again) for “holistic practitioners” benefiting anything but their own wallets.

    When conventional doctors start dealing with lifestyle and getting patients to understand the importance of healthy diet, attitude and exercise, and start warning against prescriptions that do not work, then we can compare apples to apples.

    Where, pray tell, can I find a conventional doctor who won’t go on and on at me about diet, exercise, etc? I’d really love one.

  73. #73 Todd
    April 11, 2011

    I live in Asheville, NC, where probably a higher percentage of the population will be affected by this bill than in any other part of NC. I actually agree with some of the people here and (maybe) the basic intent of this bill: people practicing any form of medicine should be regulated. However, there’s a flaw to the logic of the bill – it does not provide for licensure or regulation of anyone, except to make a large number of professionals into felons. If there was a license for herbalists that ensured they had at least a basic working knowledge of safety, knowledge of drug interactions for instance, I’d be all for it and would even support making unlicensed herbalism a felony crime. As it is, though, the original intent of this bill seems to be to wipe out an entire profession that provides useful and relatively cheap medical care largely in the preventative medical model (as opposed to the acute care medical model that dominates the US).

  74. #74 Todd
    April 11, 2011

    I live in Asheville, NC, where probably a higher percentage of the population will be affected by this bill than in any other part of NC. I actually agree with some of the people here and (maybe) the basic intent of this bill: people practicing any form of medicine should be regulated. However, there’s a flaw to the logic of the bill – it does not provide for licensure or regulation of anyone, except to make a large number of professionals into felons. If there was a license for herbalists that ensured they had at least a basic working knowledge of safety, knowledge of drug interactions for instance, I’d be all for it and would even support making unlicensed herbalism a felony crime. As it is, though, the original intent of this bill seems to be to wipe out an entire profession that provides useful and relatively cheap medical care largely in the preventative medical model (as opposed to the acute care medical model that dominates the US).

  75. #75 Sam
    April 23, 2011

    Big Pharmaa is behind this. There are alternative medicines and techniques that work very well. Save lives. However they are relatively inexpensive and there is no money in it for big Pharma. So they must be stopped. Squashed whatever it takes. Big Pharma would rather see you poisoned from mercury than allow any inexpensive chelating techniques to cure you. We have really filthy dirty greedy people in Big Pharma and they are really not nice guys, and not looking out for the public. Yes, it is true. There is evil in this world and Big Pharma is right up there at the top of the list. Pity the gullible who cannot see through the thin veneer into the realities of this tragedy. The main reason they want to go after the “alternative” medicine is not because it doesn’t work or is harmful. No, it is the exact opposite. It does work and it helps people that Big Pharma’s drugs will not. Now you show me where the real evil is here. Look no further than Big Pharma and their lobbyists. There you have it. Let’s hope that common sense rules here, but you never know. The powers that be are not only evil, but influential. Just hope and pray for sanity.

  76. #76 Chris
    April 23, 2011

    Oh, no! It is the dreaded Pharma Shill Gambit! How are we to ever escape its old moldy tired waste of electrons?

    Sam, next time instead of a tired old loser argument, try something new and exciting: actual evidence.

  77. #77 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    April 23, 2011

    Sam,
    1. Name the treatments you’re talking about.
    2. Provide links the evidence that they work. Ideally these should be peer reviewed, interdependently reproduced, published studies that follow good methodologies.
    Bonus: Provide the evidence that they’ve been suppressed by “Big Pharma”.

  78. #78 Swim2Shore
    April 27, 2011

    Yes, Health Care Providers should be definitely regulated by the appropriate authorities, but with intelligence and a lack of irrational bias toward alternative methods.
    If it does not harm and has a long history of use, an alternative method may be worthy of consideration.
    In reading these posts, it might be worthwhile to ask whether the writer has “an axe to grind” & also, why should there be sarcasm and hostility in an intelligent discussion?

  79. #79 Todd W.
    April 27, 2011

    @Swim2Shore

    If it does not harm and has a long history of use, an alternative method may be worthy of consideration.

    Lack of harm and long use don’t mean squat if the treatment does nothing. Remember, even if the unproven treatment does not directly cause harm, doing nothing can result in harm through delay of real treatment.

  80. #80 madder
    April 27, 2011

    @Swim2Shore:

    You write of “irrational bias toward alternative methods.” The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has so far spent over a billion dollars looking for evidence that those methods are safe and effective, and has so far found nothing.

    Show us one that is safe and effective, and this bias you mention will disappear.

  81. #81 augustine
    April 27, 2011

    Todd

    doing nothing can result in harm through delay of real treatment.

    Ahh. And there is the unscientific rub.

    200,000 Americans die every year BECAUSE of “real” treatment. Many others die just because of the accepted risk of doing business.
    Peter Orszag, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget says that $700 BILLION is wasted on “real” treatment every year. That’s ONE THIRD of “real” medicine.

    It’s not totally unreasonable to delay or forgo “real” treatment.

  82. #82 Calli Arcale
    April 27, 2011

    augustine, is your point that because “mainstream” medicine is often used inappropriately, incorrectly, and inefficiently that we should instead use alternative medicine? Why do you believe that the same incompetences will not simply transfer over? After all, most of the problems you cite are not the fault of the treatments themselves but of the people who are administering them. Is a person who calls for unnecessary tests (a major source of financial waste in the healthcare industry) likely to be any better about that if they’re made to use iridology instead? Someone who prescribes unnecessary treatments will do so whether they are using real medicine or something like acupuncture. The problem isn’t the treatments; the problem is the incompetence of the person (or system) administering them, and you can’t fix that by just switching their tools around.

  83. #83 augustine
    April 27, 2011

    $700 Hundred Billion!

    How many iridology treatments is that? How many people died from iridology last year?

  84. #84 augustine
    April 27, 2011

    The problem isn’t the treatments; the problem is the incompetence of the person (or system) administering them, and you can’t fix that by just switching their tools around.

    Are you saying that, in you opinion, all currently accepted medical treatments are evidence based?

    FYI, It’s the treatment. Not only that most medical treatments carry a risk of harm.

  85. #85 Todd W.
    April 27, 2011

    Ah, augustine’s pulling the “Well, since medicine has been in the wrong, then that makes CAM perfectly fine” nonsense. That’s like saying that since there have been (and currently are) some crooked cops, that the mafia should not be prosecuted for their crimes and that joining the mafia is a perfectly acceptable lifestyle to choose.

    Sheesh, augustine. You can do better than that. You really need to spice up your troll game.

  86. #86 augustine
    April 27, 2011

    Todd’s pulling the Ole “my glass house is not really glass. It’s stone. Seriously it’s stone.”

    $700 Billion, Todd. Wasted. 200,000 dead.

    How many acupuncture treatments is that? How many died from acupuncture last year?

  87. #87 Gray Falcon
    April 27, 2011

    Augustine, do you understand the concept of crimes of omission? How many people used acupuncture for a real condition to no effect? Probably several.

    I wouldn’t be able to walk if it weren’t for modern medicine. Was that wasted money?

  88. #88 augustine
    April 27, 2011

    Augustine, do you understand the concept of crimes of omission?

    So now it’s a crime to not do what the doctor and pharmaceutical industry tells you to do?

    How many people used acupuncture for a real condition to no effect?

    I don’t know. How many?

    Probably several.

    Ok. How many used “real” treatment last and then died when they weren’t supposed to because of a real mistake?

    Answer 200,000

    How many used “real” treatment and died just from the accepted hazard of undergoing the treatment? Anasthesia, blood clot, heart attack, infection, etc., in which it was not an emergency or dire situation?

    Probably way more than several.

  89. #89 Composer99
    April 27, 2011

    DNFTT

  90. #90 augustine
    April 27, 2011

    YCNW

  91. #91 kd
    May 3, 2011

    augustine:

    “Are you saying that, in you opinion, all currently accepted medical treatments are evidence based?”

    Yes. That’s what makes them accepted medical treatments. Research reported in peer-reviewed journals, well-constructed clinical trials, et al.

    “FYI, It’s the treatment. Not only that most medical treatments carry a risk of harm.”

    I for one am willing to accept “a risk of harm” when it is accompanied by a corresponding and greater chance of positive outcome.

    Do you know why homeopathic medicines are considered so “safe”? Because they contain no active ingredients — of course a plain glass of water or a lactose and sugar tablet won’t hurt you. It also won’t do squat to improve your condition. Many “alternative therapies” may be labeled as “safer” than “conventional” medicine while failing to prove any more effective than placebo.

    At best they’re a waste of patient resources spent in pursuit of an expensive placebo effect (homeopathy). At the worst they’re as dangerous or more so than “conventional” medicine, [i]but unfortunately lacking the potential benefits to offset the risks[/i].

  92. #92 Stephen Hilton
    July 3, 2011

    pls hold on. I was just going on reading all the comments. pls let me give you small information what going in in other country like India. well it has been banned here to practice herbs, but do you have any Idea there are people here and in other countries who are cured from diabetes and stoped insulin and Blood pressure tablets. pls check other sites, just google (Natural home remedy for Diabetes and comments).
    you will come across 1 gentleman who has been helping people to make medicine home by tree leaves. its harmless but very effective.I manage to reduce my sugar score and my blood pressure has been normal since I consulted him.
    there is no harm in trying herbal medicine. No one cares since how long herbs been used to cure sickness. Important is this , does it heal you and do you get healthy?
    My answer is Yes bcos i made my own herbal medicine and it has helped me.
    thanks.

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