Respectful Insolence

All bacteria are bad?

Remember Robert O. Young?

He’s the purveyor of only the finest quackery. Note that, by “finest,” I mean the most highly entertaining, the sort of utter twaddle that makes me laugh out loud when I read it. Whether it’s his claim that alkalinization is the cure for basically all disease, his characterizing sepsis as not being due to bacterial infection, his description of cancer as a mechanism to protect the body from “rotten cells” spoiled by acid and liquified, or his nonsensical attacks on Andrew Weil (his being one of the only men who can make Weil look reasonable by comparison), Robrt O. Young never fails to bring home the woo, often in ways that are utterly hilarious to anyone with a modicum of understanding of science and science-based medicine. Unfortunately, that laughter, as intense as it is when I’m reading the latest bit of Young’s woo, dies on my lips when I find out that he’s treated actual patients. Most recently, the death of Kim Tinkham in December made it hard for me to have anything but utter contempt for Young, given that his nostrums had tempted her away from her one best shot at beating her breast cancer.

My dislike of Young aside, I have to admit that the old quack got my attention when I saw in my Google alerts a message about a post by him entitled Antibiotic, Probiotics and Enzymatic Supplementation Is A Rotting Ideology! You know, from the title, I almost thought that Young might have come around to halfway science-based thinking. After all, I’m hard-pressed to think of any exceptions to enzymatic “supplementation” being pure pseudoscience and quackery, given that proteins don’t survive contact with the digestive system. Note that I distinguish “enzymatic supplementation” from the legitimate science-based use of pancreatic enzymes by people who have true exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. When woo-meisters say “enzyme supplementation,” they can mean any number of quack modalities, such as the Gonzalez protocol. Sadly, it becomes fairly obvious fairly quickly that criticizing quack remedies is not what Young is about. Fairly quickly, as in right from the beginning:

Intestinal bacterium and fungi are like parasites – they feed on your energy and eliminate their acidic wastes or enzymatic juices inside you leaving you sick and tired.

There is NO such thing as good bacteria or good fungi/yeast. They are the remnants of what use to be healthy organized plant, animal or human matter. They are the evidence of a sick body, a sick mind and a sick spirit. Bacteria, yeast, mold, algae, mushrooms and their waste products called enzymes are born in us and from us.

There’s so much wrong in these two brief paragraphs that it’s hard to know where to start; so let’s just start with Young’s claim that there is no such thing as good bacteria, fungi, or yeast. In fact, most of the bacteria, fungi, and yeast that inhabit our bodies are either beneficial or neutral; our digestive systems wouldn’t function properly without the bacteria that live in our colons. They’re responsible for breaking down some polysaccharides, starches, fibers into forms that can be absorbed. Without these wee beasties, there would be a lot of the components of our food that we’d have a hard time absorbing. They even produce some vitamins and facilitate their absorption.

But that’s not all. The normal gut flora play a major role in preventing infection by crowding out pathogenic bacteria. That’s one reason why antibiotics can result in severe diarrheal diseases. They kill off the “good bacteria,” leaving the “bad bacteria” to proliferate. They can also stimulate the development of the gut’s mucosal immune system. Truly, it is a symbiotic relationship between us humans and our bacterial flora, which colonize our guts shortly after we are born and stay with us for the rest of our lives.

Not that that stops Young from writing:

Does the pool of water need bacteria, yeast or algae to stay pure, clean and healthy? And yet these organisms are found in stagnant putrefying water. They are found at the end stage of what use to be healthy organized plant, animal and human matter and now born out of decaying, putrefying, and rotting matter in their own enzymatic acidic waste products or urine.

Bacteria, yeast, mold and algae are the symptom of decaying matter NOT the cause of that decay. The idea of ingesting these biological transformations comes from a sick polluted gut/mind.

Enzymes are the waste products or urine from decaying matter. All antibiotics are enzymes derived from decaying or rotting matter. For example, penicillin is an acidic waste product or enzyme from the yeast penicillium. When you ingest any antibotic you are ingesting an acidic waste product of fermentation. It is a poison. It is an acid. And it will compromise the delicate pH balance of the gut, the blood and the tissues which are all alkaline.

Ah, yes, the “stagnant pool” analogy. I should have remembered! Young is a follower of Antoine Béchamp. He’s a germ theory denialist. Béchamp, as you may remember, was a contemporary of Louis Pasteur who proposed a competing hypothesis for the cause of infectious disease, which he dubbed the pleomorphic theory. The concept he championed was that bacteria do not cause disease but are rather a manifestation of disease. In other words, diseased tissues produce bacteria, arising from structures that Béchamp called microzymas, which to him referred to a class of enzyme. Béchamp postulated that microzymas are normally present in tissues and that their effects depended upon the cellular terrain. Of course, as we all know, ultimately Pasteur’s ideas won out based on evidence, experimentation, and clinical observation, relegating Béchamp to more or less a historical footnote. In fairness, it should be remembered that, 150 year ago, it wasn’t entirely clear who was correct, Pasteur or Béchamp. Given the technology and tools of the time, it was not a trivial matter to determine where bacteria arose, although it didn’t take long before experiments and methodology were developed that pretty much put Béchamp’s concepts to bed for good.

At least, until they were resurrected over 100 years later by quacks like Robert O. Young, who opines:

You don’t get old you mold. You rot. You decay. You become the very bacteria, yeast, fungi, algae and mold you are creating with your acidic lifestyle and diet – which includes the ingestion of morbid acidic matter and their acidic enzymatic waste products.

And the medical and health care world calls the ingestion of these morbid transformations and their acidic waste products called enzymes, nutrition!

Young is someone who’s expert at sounding as though he knows what he’s talking about with regard to science, but it’s an act, a sham. His misunderstanding of biochemistry and physiology is epic. He doesn’t know what an enzyme really is. He doesn’t accept what scientists have accepted for well over 125 years, namely the germ theory of infectious disease. He thinks he understands metabolism and acid-base physiology, but makes nonsensical statements about them. He makes even sillier statements about gastric physiology:

In the mouth, the salivary glands start secreting sodium bicarbonate, to raise the alkalinity of the food and to neutralize or buffer the food enzymes or acids. The process of alkalizing the food continues in the stomach as the stomach lining releases sodium bicarbonate to alkalize the food. Yes, for every molecule of sodium bicarbonate produced to alkalize the food you ingest a molecule of hydrochloric acid is also produced. But, the hydrochloric acid never touches or should never come in contact with the food you eat. The sodium bicarbonate produced in the lining of the stomach rises to meet the food as the hydrochloric acid falls into the gastric pits of the stomach away from the food. Hydrochloric acid is the WASTE PRODUCT of sodium bicarbonate production and will destroy the life or electron potential of the food. That is why you find residues of hydrochloric acid in the stomach after the food has taken up all the alkaline sodium bicarbonate and left for the small intestine. The hydrochloric acid in the stomach is the evidence that the food has been alkalized and is on its way to the intestines for transformation into stem cells and then red blood cells. The primary site for stem cell and red blood cell production is in the crypts of the intestinal villi.

Uh, no. Epithelial cells lining the stomach don’t secrete nearly enough bicarbonate to neutralize the hydrochloric acid in the stomach; it’s not until the duodenum that the GI tract secretes enough bicarbonate to neutralize all that acid. It’s not the function of the bicarbonate-secreting cells in the stomach to neutralize all that acid, anyway. Their purpose is protection; they secrete bicarbonate ions and mucus to protect themselves from damage from the acidic environment, which is essential for converting the gastric enzyme pepsinogen to pepsin and for activating pepsin as a proteolytic enzyme. Young also has a rather odd view of how the body absorbs its nutrients from food. He seems to think that somehow food is magically transformed into both stem cells and erythroblasts:

As the food enters the small intestine in a liquefied alkaline state it falls into the crypts of the intestinal villi to be transformed into the new stem cells that will become the new erythroblast, and the new erythrocyte or red blood cell. These new cells are then taken up into blood circulation via the portal vein and the inferior vena cava to the heart for oxygenation and general circulation.

Funny, but I was always taught in medical school that hematopoiesis took place mainly in the bone marrow. And what’s all this stuff about food being transformed immediately into stem cells and erythroblasts? On a metaphorical level I suppose that’s true (sort of), but that doesn’t appear to be what Young is saying. Even more depressingly, since I had never heard this claim before, I did a bit of Googling. Take a look at what I found when I Googled “erythroblast production intestinal villi.” It’s truly depressing. The number one link is entitled Where Do Your Red Blood Cells Come From?, which states in its first paragraph, “In spite of what the vast majority of the medical community believes to be fact, my research indicates that the primary location for red blood cell production is NOT in your bone marrow.”

Hmmm. This guy sounds a lot like Robert O. Young.

Be that as it may, there’s lots more where that came from, which is truly depressing. As quacky as he is, Robert O. Young has lots of company.

Comments

  1. #1 uBjoern
    May 17, 2011

    reminds me of my favourite woo-quote

    German:
    “Um ihre Aufgabe optimal erfüllen zu können, können sich nach Bedarf Viren, Bakterien und Pilze ineinander umwandeln.”

    what roughly translates to:
    “to fulfill their role optimally, if needed, bacteria, viruses and fungi are able to turn into each other”

    found on a flyer in an austrian “doctor’s” practice

  2. #2 Calli Arcale
    May 17, 2011

    *blinks*

    I should know better that to read about Robert O Young this early in the morning. What he says is just so breathtakingly wrong that I wouldn’t know where to begin! I mean, it starts out with a reasonable (if wrong) premise, that intestinal bacteria are parasites, and it all just goes downhill from there. And just when I think it’s gotten as nonsensical as it can, he goes further!

    Amazing.

  3. #3 _Arthur
    May 17, 2011

    You skipped a word.

    “150 year ago, it wasn’t entirely who was correct, Pasteur or Béchamp.”

    it wasn’t entirely CLEAR who was correct …

  4. #4 LW
    May 17, 2011

    If food just turns into red blood cells, where did the rest of me come from?

  5. #5 Mu
    May 17, 2011

    You’re just an acid figment of your blood cells imagination.

  6. #6 FMJ
    May 17, 2011

    I really think Google should implicate some system to combat this sort of quackery showing up first in the SERP’s, but I guess they’re limited by the algorithm. But then again, they did invite uber quack mark hyman to talk at their facilities and then put the talk on Youtube, so they have clearly fallen into the chaos that is medical quackery and woo.

    Can’t wait to drink my acai juice and boost my immunity! I can feel my complement is a little low, NKT cells too.

  7. #7 Anthro
    May 17, 2011

    @_Arthur

    You skipped a brain cell. How pedantic can you be? As ORAC has stated many times, he writes thousands of words almost daily and actually makes very few typos, let alone “errors”. Get over your obsession and keep your nits to yourself.

  8. #8 Andreas Johansson
    May 17, 2011

    What did algae do to end up lumped with bacteria and viruses here? I’m not aware of algae commonly being found in diseased tissues.

    I sort of like the phrase “acidic lifestyle”, though. Sounds like something for Coca Cola’s marketing department.

  9. #9 g724
    May 17, 2011

    Dumb Question department:

    After finishing a course of antibiotics, if I have loose bowels, I tend to go get a couple of containers of yogurt with live cultures and eat it as a snack. This on the theory that some of the useful bacteria in the yogurt might make it to the intestines and help support the re-establishment of normal bacterial populations down there.

    Is there any science to support this, or have I fallen for pathetic woo, or is it one of those things that appears to be helpful but the findings aren’t strong enough to say anything definitive?

    And is it my imagination or have all the diarrhea remedies switched over to salicylate-based formulations? Know of any available in the US that aren’t? (Issues related to conflict with prescriptions.)

  10. #10 Fee
    May 17, 2011

    He really needs to take a look at the evolution of our planet to realise that we are only here because of bacteria. What an idiot. I’ve never heard such disrespect for the mighty microbe!

  11. #11 cheesynougats
    May 17, 2011

    A question I have wondered since I first leared of people who deny the germ theory of disease: If bacteria are simply a by-product of a sick body rather than the cause, how can we grow bacterial cultures, which do not include a host’s metabolic processes?
    That was worded very oddly, but I hope it makes sense to someone besides me.

  12. #12 Krebiozen
    May 17, 2011

    Robert O. Young really irritates me. He makes so many claims that fly in the face of basic scientific knowledge, it’s hard to understand why so many people believe his nonsensical pronouncements, and his arrogantly labeled ‘New Biology’. I wonder if he really believes them himself, or if it is just a spiel to persuade people to buy his products.

  13. #13 FMJ
    May 17, 2011

    @Krebiozen

    I wonder if he really believes them himself, or if it is just a spiel to persuade people to buy his products.

    Products.

  14. #14 Denice Walter
    May 17, 2011

    He hawks InnerLight SuperGreens ( @ SuperGreens.biz)

    Young joins the crowd who sell the idea of food being medicine, usually dragging out some 2000 year old quote that I won’t trouble you with. They cherish the notion that vegetables and fruits possess miraculous, enlivening substances that prevent and cure serious illness: jumping from the fact that deficiency results from *lack* to the un-substantiated idea that increasing the dose far beyond the RDA amount does wonders. No COI’s here!

    Most of the woo-meisters I survey agree with Young about the magic of alkalinity and vegetable-fruit power: usually they specify organic and GMO free products. In contrast to pharmaceuticals, vegetables and fruits are entirely a product of Nature herself: this doesn’t stop them from marketting dried green (or red or purple) powders to supplement your horribly paltry modern diet with Nature’s Goodness- *enhanced* by them. If you find the usual suspects’ websites too alarming, visit your local GNC ( or the Vitamin Shoppe) so that you may gasp in awe at how amazingly creative producing powdered vegetables and fruit can be.

    These entrepreneurs oppose governmental intervention in supplement production and sales: the Natural Solutions Foundation and the Alliance for Natural Health ( see websites): right now the latter especially is screaming about actions in Europe to limit the power of woo. Codex is upon us! Watch out, North America, you’re next!

  15. #15 Jim
    May 17, 2011

    g724, there isn’t much research to support that live-culture yogurt helps with gut bacteria loss with any great signficance, but there’s some indication that it just might be helpful – not as impactful as the ads make it look, but helpful.

    What studies I’ve seen indicate that it has little effects once the loose bowels have begun – it only shows any effect if taken at the start of an antibiotic cycle. This obviously makes any effect hard to measure – did you not have loose bowels because you took the yogurt, or just because the antibiotic didn’t have as drastic an effect this time?

    And even if it’s not effective, hey, you’re eating yogurt. It’s still good for you in plenty of other ways.

  16. #16 Vicki, Chief Assistant to the Assistant Chief
    May 17, 2011

    The last time I had a course of antibiotics*, my doctor told me to either eat yogurt or take probiotics. Having had some digestive problems with yogurt in the past (alas, I used to be very fond of it) I asked the pharmacist for a probiotic. I took them, they seemed harmless, but was I wasting my money?

    *It was one of the fierce new ones, I don’t remember which offhand, because I had turned up with an allergy to sulfa drugs and possibly also to cephalosporins. (Later testing has shown that I’m fine with penicillin and amoxicillin, at least.) Oh, does anyone know why they can’t test for a sulfa drug allergy?

  17. #17 Jud
    May 17, 2011

    They are the evidence of a sick body, a sick mind and a sick spirit. Bacteria, yeast, mold, algae, mushrooms and their waste products called enzymes are born in us and from us.

    Please (please) take this quote to your local baker and tell him he has a sick mind.

  18. #18 christophe-thill.myopenid.com
    May 17, 2011

    Young doesn’ “sound like an expert” to me. He sounds like a crazy hobo sitting at a street corner and howling the same words over and over. Acidic, acidic, acidic…

    Looks like a hell of a bad acid trip!

  19. #19 TBruce
    May 17, 2011

    OMG (as my daughters would say) this guy is an idiot.

    Erythroblasts in the intestinal villi? Just run that by any anatomic pathologist and watch his or her reaction.

    To paraphrase Julia Sweeney, Robert O. Young is FULL OF SHIT.

  20. #20 Angel
    May 17, 2011

    Seriously, the side bar Ads are just too much.

    I thought there was some progress when the creepy Cenegenics Ads were replaced by Gibco (very nice) but then just below it popped up an Alkaline Water Ionizer Ad featuring — wait for it — Robert O. Young! Ugh — please help…can’t stand the irony/stupidity…make it stop.

  21. #21 Sven DIMilo
    May 17, 2011

    Nothing sadder than a denialist of basic physiology.
    yeesh.

  22. #22 lilady
    May 17, 2011

    RBCs are not manufactured in bone marrow? Why aren’t researchers on to this to develop a way to harvest RBCs from donors’ small intestine…instead of removing them from donor blood donations for transfusions of packed RBCs?

    It is amazing that the more outrageous the claim…the more (seemingly) educated people buy into it.

  23. #23 Orac
    May 17, 2011

    You skipped a word.

    “150 year ago, it wasn’t entirely who was correct, Pasteur or Béchamp.”

    it wasn’t entirely CLEAR who was correct …

    You do realize, don’t you, that I detest comments that consist of nothing more than spelling, typo, or grammar flames. I detest them so much that I usually delete them with extreme prejudice as soon as I get a chance. They contribute nothing to the discussion thread at all other than a know-it-all smugness. I’m making an exception today in case you are simply ignorant of that longstanding policy. Next time, deletion.

  24. #24 vilding1
    May 17, 2011

    Without these wee beasties [...]

    Ah, that sounds oddly familiar.

  25. #25 Pieter B
    May 17, 2011

    Young’s description of the physiology of digestion isn’t merely “silly,” it’s out there in Not-Even-Wrong-Land. I could hear my brain cells screaming in agony.

  26. #26 Prometheus
    May 17, 2011

    I read some of Robert Young’s latest diatribe to my 14-year-old nephew. He thought it was not only nonsense, but “extremely juvenile” (his words). When I told him it was written by an adult, my nephew’s conclusion was:

    “He must be pretty crazy.”

    I can’t improve on that assessment.

    Prometheus

  27. #27 Jarred C
    May 17, 2011

    After finishing a course of antibiotics, if I have loose bowels, I tend to go get a couple of containers of yogurt with live cultures and eat it as a snack. This on the theory that some of the useful bacteria in the yogurt might make it to the intestines and help support the re-establishment of normal bacterial populations down there.

    I remember learning about this subject in my Food Toxicology class in college. Although, I had a feeling that the prof didn’t really care about the accuracy of the information.

    Anyways, wiki has some good points and links on what aspects are questionable about probiotics ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Probiotic ). The two that stood out to me were:

    1) Evidence of probiotics working is often done by measuring the amount of a specific bacteria in the feces. However, once the suppliment is stopped, the levels of bacteria drop back down within a few days. In my opinion, this actually makes sense. From what I remember, there are two types of proiotics: those that are the actual bacteria, and those that are food for the bacteria already in your gut. Either way, you can expect the population of the bacteria to increase while you’re taking the supplement. When you stop taking the supplement, the bacteria levels are too high for the decreased food supply, and would drop back to pre-supplement levels after some time. This would lend to the evidence that the supplements work. (ref. link 60 on wiki page, http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/science/gutreactions.shtml ).

    2) There is other research that talks about the problems associated with beneficial bacteria surviving in the low pH of the stomach. This research is focused on microencapsulation of the bacteria, so it can survive long enough to get to the gut, where it will be of the most benefit. This evidence lends to the idea that the probacteria in yogurt might not be of actual help. (ref. link 61 on wiki page, http://www.jmb.or.kr/submission/Journal/020/JMB020-10-01_FDOC_1.pdf ).

  28. #28 Scott Cunningham
    May 17, 2011

    Robert O. Young

    Enzymes are the waste products or urine from decaying matter. All antibiotics are enzymes derived from decaying or rotting matter. For example, penicillin is an acidic waste product or enzyme from the yeast penicillium.

    See, this is why I stopped going out drinking with H.P. Lovecraft’s gods. Nyarlahotep starts breaking things and picking fights, Azathoth just sleeps in the corner, and Cthulhu picks up the bill but it isn’t worth going crazy.

  29. #29 triskelethecat
    May 17, 2011

    Wow. This is just too crazy for me. So all the bacteria that one finds on skin is bad? (Well, actually, if you ask a lot of my coworkers who almost BATHE in that damn antibacterial soap, yes). And reading his version of the digestive system, I have just two questions: what drugs is this guy taking and where can I get some?

  30. #30 Jim
    May 17, 2011

    There are those ideas that make me think, “They said that out loud, in purpose, where other people can hear you. Do they know that?” It’s really rather horrifying.

  31. #31 Terrie
    May 17, 2011

    Well, so much for cheese, bread, wine, and many other tasty, tasty foods that are made using microorganisms. Of course, these sorts are usually into raw, whole foods and other such movements.

  32. #32 Mattand
    May 17, 2011

    There is NO such thing as good bacteria or good fungi/yeast.

    One word refutation: BEER.

    16 oz. of science, “Dr.” Young.

  33. #33 Katrina
    May 17, 2011

    What does he say about the female reproductive organs? What would happen if we had no bacteria or yeast “down there”?

  34. #34 Beamup
    May 17, 2011

    @ Mattand:

    Personally I don’t consider that “good” yeast. Can’t stand the stuff, myself.

    In a nice fresh loaf of home-baked bread, OTOH…

  35. #35 Anthro
    May 17, 2011

    Mark Crislip has a post on scienceblogs.com on probiotics–also a podcast (maybe the same thing). I reread it the other day because people who travel keep telling me it has a prevention effect. This was the one question his post didn’t answer (I think).

  36. #36 Rogue Epidemiologist
    May 17, 2011

    @Beamup & Mattand

    It’s all Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Glory to both its purposes! I love fungi. They’re going to have to pry my mushrooms off my cold, half-eaten pizza!

    @Katrina

    What does he say about the female reproductive organs? What would happen if we had no bacteria or yeast “down there”?

    Young means to imply that all women are filthy, diseased creatures. If women were of optimal health and cleanliness, there would be no bacteria and fungi in the vagina. Essentially, he is a colossal douchenozzle.

  37. #37 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    May 17, 2011

    Yeast is also necessary in the production of wine and distilled spirits. Don’t try that with bacteria (mostly – there are some beers that ferment with bacteria instead of yeast, but usually it’s a bad idea) or fungi.

    Turns out, that mushroom’s a real fun guy…

  38. #38 Black-cat
    May 17, 2011

    What is really really sickening about Young is that there are still women with breast cancer that are foregoing conventional evidence and science based treatment and following his advice. They are convinced this sick idiot is a genius and medical doctors are idiots pushing poisonous treatments because they just don’t understand natural remedies and nutrition. These women post in the althernative section of breastcancer.org.

    There is a woman who is stage one, 2 cm. tumor,Grade 3, ER- and Her2+ who read all his books and believes that cancer is a fungas. She had one lumpectemy with unclean borders. She than found Robert O. Young and his ilk and has refused further surgery and Herception to follow his regimen. Since cancer is a fungas she has eliminated all sugar and yeast from her diet, is alkalizing her body and sits in an infrared sauna to “rid her body of toxic bacteria”
    I have posted many of Oracs blogs and many others have tried to reason with her to no avail.

    http://community.breastcancer.org/forum/79/topic/760224

    She may very well be the next Kim Tinkum.

    There are many other women on the site that are shunning conventional treatment for alternative. One of them is stage 3.

    I would love to see Orac and some of you other authorities on breast cancer, medicine and physiology post on that forum. I know that it’s time consuming but you just may save a life. Breastcancer.org is a magnet for newly diagnosed women and there are a lot of lurkers that do not post. Most of these women are well educated in other fields and have never taken the basic life sciences and are very scared of chemo and radiation. There are so many misconceptions about biology, nutrition and human physiology and Young and his ilk feed off of their fear and ignorance.

    http://community.breastcancer.org/forum/79

    Getting treatment or not getting treatment for breast cancer is every woman’s choice. I have a problem with women that forego treatment because they believe in some scam artists fairytale. I am alive today because I had a mastectomy, chemo and radiation. It was not a walk in the park but with stage 3C inflammatory breast cancer, I had no choice.

  39. #39 Beamup
    May 17, 2011

    @ Rogue Epidemiologist:

    The same organism in different contexts can readily be good in one and bad in the other. My point stands.

  40. #40 kraut
    May 17, 2011

    In my 63 years living, having grown up as a lab tech, having studied agrology, I really never have seen written so much nonsense in one pile as this idiot proclaims.

    “As the food enters the small intestine in a liquefied alkaline state it falls into the crypts of the intestinal villi to be transformed into the new stem cells that will become the new erythroblast, and the new erythrocyte or red blood cell”

    Stem cells directly transformed from food? And intestinal stemcells at that? What is this nutcase talking about?
    How come his brain is even able to operate a computer?

    “Enzymes are the waste products or urine from decaying matter”

    enzymes are waste products? Without enzymes how would you digest any food? You would not be able to create the energy your body needs to move, your metabolic pathways would cease to operate. This guys idiocy is of galactic proportions, a black hole of stupidity even beyond anything CAM has to offer.

    So Mr. Young, no more wine, beer, cheese, bread, yoghurt, cream, cured meat etc. for you, all the actions of enzymes, yeast and bacteria. Ahh, and no plants either, because of the enzymes lurking in fruit, veggies etc. And no meat, because of the ENZYMES it contains…

    for a short overwiew: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enzyme

  41. #41 Black-cat
    May 17, 2011

    Here’s another of Young’s followers postings on breastcancer.org:

    I started about 4 months ago doing about 60-70 % of my diet alkaline. I follow a lot of Dr. Youngs teachings. My friend has multiple mylomia and turned me on to it. She actually quit chemo to do it and since her cancer is incurable I thought she was crazy. But as of last week her bone lesions are almost all gone and this is after quiting chemo and doing his lifestyle for about 9 8 months. She looks and feels great as do I but I still struggle with giving up sugar. I emailed him yesterday to ask what his success rate was with breast cancer and he said 100%/ He is also the only known sciencetist to ever reverse ALS in a patient here in America. Anyway the better I feel the more I get drawn into it’s benifits. I know the crazy sexy girl follows it as does Tony Robbins. I was just wondering if anyone else was doing it?

  42. #42 Joe
    May 17, 2011

    OK. So the first thing I talk about when doing outreach activities at my kid’s school is the good bacteria – yogurt, cheese, vitamin production, and commensals aiding in digestion and competing with the pathogens. Most of the fourth graders I talk to know more than this guy.

    What is so wrong with acid? I would have thought even the natural food nuts would still be OK with citric acid, retinoic acid, ascorbic acid, acetic acid.

    “After all, I’m hard-pressed to think of any exceptions to enzymatic “supplementation” being pure pseudoscience and quackery, given that proteins don’t survive contact with the digestive system.”
    Note that LactAid does work for those of us that are lactose intolerant, and that is enzyme supplementation.

  43. #43 Black-cat
    May 17, 2011

    Here’s another post from the same women some months later on her friend’s progress with Young’s treatment:

    “My friend was diagnosed with Multiple Mylomia. She followed Dr Rober Young’s diet to the T ( after quiting chemo and refusing the stem cell transplant)

    She also went out to his ranch. She drank the salts/ backing soda all day long. She drank her food for 2 months-vegetables, juicing, supplements, baking soda etc… She then went to his ranch and you know what.. She paid $1000.00 a day and saw him twice.

    Her cancer is back and it’s bad. The diet/lifestyle didn’t work for her. And she not only followed it to the T but she actually was treated by his ranch.”

  44. #44 hematophage
    May 17, 2011

    @Katrina (31)

    Maybe he’s not very acquainted with female reproduction organs.

    So human-centric. I study lice, which would die without their primary nutritional symbiont. Try telling THEM to purge…

  45. #45 Calli Arcale
    May 17, 2011

    That’s very sad, Black Cat.

    That’s another crazy thing. He’s way into “alkalinzation” (and doesn’t believe the stomach produces acid or requires it for digestion — hah!) but he pushes juicing. Most juices are at least mildly acidic. Some are quite corrosive as well. And many of the things he called acidic aren’t acidic, and in some cases are even basic. (“Basic” being the level of chemistry which he never even attempted, much less mastered. Hah.) His definition of “acidic” seems to be “bad for you”. It includes processed foods, sugar, most grains, red meat, etc. They’re not actually acidic, of course, but since they’re BAD they’ll make *you* acidic. Or something. He’s a little unclear on the details, seeming to prefer bafflegab to actual, y’know, science.

  46. #46 Katrina
    May 17, 2011

    Does he sell douche?

    I’m certainly not going to volunteer to help him “get more aquainted” with female genitalia. Sounds like a woman hater. That filthy vagina.

  47. #47 hematophage
    May 17, 2011

    @Katrina

    If he’d ever HAD a yeast infection, he’d want his bacteria back stat.

  48. #48 Black-cat
    May 17, 2011

    Yes,Calli, it’s very sad and tragic. What I can’t understand is why dosen’t he get prosecuted? How many cancer victims has he killed? There are a handful on breastcancer.org that have stopped treatment to follow his crackpot treatments but how many more people with other cancers and illnesses? The last time I looked at his site he was advertising $10,000 healing retreats in Hawaii.

    Why aren’t the families of these victims sueing him? He outright tells them that he will cure any disease with a 100% certainty. How much more proof is needed to prosecute him? Why is he still out there scamming people. They suffer a painful death and he is still living a lavish lifestyle on his ranch in San Diego, not to mention all his Hawaii trips. And why is Random House still publishing his books?
    I just don’t understand how this dirtbag can get away with this.

    Here’s a posting from the woman with unclean margins and Her2+ breast cancer who is not getting further treatment and following his regiman:

    “In my opinion, Dr. Young is a very intelligent scientist and has made great strides in his field. However, I too looked into a stay at his ranch or his hospital in Mexico and was quite put off by the cost. So much so that I contacted them by e-mail to express my feelings. I was in turn contacted by a member of their staff, a Dr Patrick Sobota (PhD). Who said he understood my concerns and would be willing to help in anyway he could. He gave me his personal phone number and a good time to call him so he could take more time to talk to me. When I called him back, he explained the program and gave me advice on how to move forward. We spoke for more than an hour, at no charge to me. So yes, they are expensive but as Barry said, so are hospitals but no one seems to complain about that and I dont know many doctors or their staff who would take an hour with at no charge”

    She is only stage 1 and is treatable with more surgery and Hercepton but does not trust the medical establishment and is a devout Young follower.

    I think it is a blessing that she does not have the money to go to his ranch.

  49. #49 Matthew Cline
    May 17, 2011

    @Krebiozen:

    I wonder if he really believes them himself, or if it is just a spiel to persuade people to buy his products.

    If it was just to get people to buy his stuff, why say such amazingly bizarre things that have nothing to do with his products? I mean, enzymes are waste products? Red blood cells are produced in the intestines?

    @Calli Arcale:

    And many of the things he called acidic aren’t acidic, and in some cases are even basic.

    Among those who are into alkalinzation, they call foods acidic or alkaline based not on their pH, but rather on what they believe eating the food will ultimately do to blood/body pH. For instance, they think that anti-oxidants increase blood pH, so they call them alkaline, even if the anti-oxidant in question is an acid. And they think that drinking distilled water decreases blood pH, so they call it acidic, even though distilled water has a pH of exactly 7.0.

  50. #50 Krebiozen
    May 17, 2011

    @Calli Arcale
    Food is considered alkaline or acidic if eating it generates alkaline or acidic urine – it’s known as the ‘potential renal acid load’. I don’t see the relevance in anyone with normal kidney function, though some nutritionists seem to disagree. I have read a number of articles claiming that if we consume too any acidic foods our body will dissolve our bones in a desperate attempt to maintain blood pH. A recent study found no association between acidic foods and bone mass density in elderly women.

    Young claims that urine pH is the same as tissue pH (which is of course not true), so eating “alkaline foods” is supposed to make your tissues more alkaline (not true) which is a good thing (also not true). How acidic tissues that are constantly perfused by slightly alkaline blood are supposed to remain acidic I don’t know.

    The reason that citrus fruit is considered alkaline is that citric acid is neutralized to citrate by bicarbonate in the body and is excreted in the urine. Citrate is alkaline, hence alkaline urine.

    It’s a weird belief system that has a sort of internal consistency as long as you ignore most of the discoveries made by biological science since about 1880.

  51. #51 Krebiozen
    May 17, 2011

    @Matthew Cline
    Maybe he does really believe this stuff. It doesn’t say much for his education from the notorious Clayton College of Natural Health. Maybe that’s why it closed.

    I have a comment in moderation about acid/alkaline foods. Distilled water in practice has a pH of about 6, due to dissolved carbon dioxide. According to some CAM proponents, not only is it dangerously acidic, but it also leaches minerals out of the body if you drink too much of it (not true, of course). It’s a shame our bodies don’t have a simple way of getting rid of CO2, then we wouldn’t get so acidic and would never get sick. Oh wait…

  52. #52 feralboy12
    May 17, 2011

    Just for clarification, this is not the same Robert Young who starred in Marcus Welby, M.D. from 1969-1976.
    Although, having read the above post, I think one might be better off being treated by the actor Robert Young, despite the fact that he wasn’t a real doctor, he’s 104 years old, and he’s dead.

  53. #53 Gopiballava
    May 17, 2011

    I can sort of understand how people can rationalize their pseudo-science when they don’t directly treat patients, and don’t watch them die. I have a lot more trouble understanding how somebody can face patients regularly and lie like this.

    Perhaps he rationalizes based upon the failure rates for conventional therapies. Knowing that numerous cancers kill, combined with poor record keeping, wishful thinking, and victim-blaming (What? You had a candy bar? You fed all that yeast. Sorry, too late to help you) is probably sufficient for him to feel his conscience is clear.

  54. #54 g724
    May 17, 2011

    Re. Jim and Vicki, #15 and 16: Thanks; I’ll ask the doctor next time it comes up. My inclination was to “hold all variables constant” while taking the ABs.

    Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, needless to say, I have friends who are into all manner of medical woo including homeopathy. I’ve lately taken to saying with a smile, that “personally I prefer Western medicine.” OTOH, most of us in the geek subculture (coders, engineers, etc.) take vitamin B complex and a few other things that might be frowned upon around here, but we know how to recognize placebo effects so we’re not running around fooling ourselves.

    What to do about this Dr. Young:

    Just report him to FDA. Compile a report of the stuff you found on those websites, include the URLs, and find someone at FDA to whom you can email it, and then follow up with another phone call. When they get enough reports, they will pounce. The guy is obviously engaging in quack medicine to enrich himself, and he’s so outrageous he will end up getting prosecuted.

    You could also try calling your local FBI office, though they are usually more than busy dealing with violent crimes including terrorism investigations, so the most they may be able to do is refer you back to FDA. But if you find someone who takes an interest in it, work with them: when the FBI gets involved, they get results.

  55. #55 Denice Walter
    May 17, 2011

    @ g724:

    It looks as though Barrett is looking for those with information about Young’s activities to contact him at Quackwatch- see “HOT Topics” at right -page: “A critical look @ Young” contains a “click” for e-mail.

    Unfortunately, Young has managed to stay in business despite the despicable and deplorable manner in which he earns a comfortable living. He isn’t the only one either.

  56. #56 Gopiballava
    May 17, 2011

    @g724:
    “vitamin B complex and a few other things that might be frowned upon around here, but we know how to recognize placebo effects so we’re not running around fooling ourselves”

    That seems like a fairly strong statement. I’m dubious that it is accurate.

    What I would say is, I know that the placebo effect can be quite strong, and memory can be very selective. I use this knowledge when weighing the cost/benefit of something. The fewer the side effects and lower the cost, and the more reliably I can measure the benefit, the more likely I am to take something. I’m also very, very cautious about making generalized statements of efficacy since I could be mistaken about the effects on me, and I could just be different.

  57. #57 kb
    May 17, 2011

    “As the food enters the small intestine in a liquefied alkaline state it falls into the crypts of the intestinal villi to be transformed into the new stem cells that will become the new erythroblast, and the new erythrocyte or red blood cell.”

    I thought food was mostly absorbed through the tips of villi, and the crypts were younger not-yet-functional cells or cells that produced mucus. Unless he’s saying food isn’t even absorbed, and red blood cells form in the actual intestinal lumen. Maybe it’s a bad idea to try to list all the ways this is wrong, my head already hurts.

  58. #58 Militant Agnostic
    May 17, 2011

    Matthew Cline @47

    If it was just to get people to buy his stuff, why say such amazingly bizarre things that have nothing to do with his products? I mean, enzymes are waste products? Red blood cells are produced in the intestines?

    He may get a thrill out of seeing how outrageous a claim he can get away with him. It helps make him feel superior to the marks. The more superior he is the more justified he is in conning them. There is a strong chance he is just a psychopath. I think a lot of faith healers like Benny Hinn and Peter Popoff are like that.

  59. #59 Roadstergal
    May 17, 2011

    @g724:

    “Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, needless to say, I have friends who are into all manner of medical woo including homeopathy. I’ve lately taken to saying with a smile, that “personally I prefer Western medicine.”"

    AAI just wrapped up at the Moscone center, and a substantial portion of the presenters of good, solid science were Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Russian, etc… it just highlighted the silliness (and racism) of the distinction between ‘eastern’ and ‘western’ medicine/’ways of knowing.’

    (I know what you were getting at, just feel a need to rant. And ja, living in the Bay Area is an odd combination of some really good science and some really ricockulous woo. I generally say, instead, “I prefer my medicine to work.”)

  60. #60 Matthew Cline
    May 17, 2011

    @Militant Agnostic:

    He may get a thrill out of seeing how outrageous a claim he can get away with him. It helps make him feel superior to the marks.

    Hmmm, that’s a thought. But aren’t enzyme supplements somewhat popular among alt-med consumers? And enzymes are used a positive buzz-words in some forms off woo, like raw-foodism. So calling enzymes “waste products” not only alienates a portion of his potential customer base, but also gets alt-med types disagreeing with him, in addition to us stick-in-the-mud types.

  61. #61 adelady
    May 17, 2011

    “He may get a thrill out of seeing how outrageous a claim he can get away with…”

    I think it’s a bit of Galileo complex. He’s decided he knows more and better than those sciency types. Having convinced himself that he’s right and they’re wrong about some things, why not go the whole hog and invent ways to be different from those losers in every possible way?

    And goody, goody gumdrops. You can make money at this too.

    Bit mysterious about the dislike of fungi and algae though. Practically every version you see of powdered Green Qi – arguably the _greatest_ nutritional supplement ever – contains powdered mushrooms, sometimes several kinds, as well as seaweeds.

  62. #62 Amblebury
    May 18, 2011

    Scott Cunningham @no.26

    My first thought was, H.P. Lovecraft turns to the woo-side!

    The guy’s barking mad.

  63. #63 Elfi
    May 18, 2011

    Oh… Oh god… I thought my botany professor was crazy when he raved about plasic bottles making fish gay and all the environmental estrogens that are out to get us…. And then I thought my noodle was half-blown by the concept of A2-only milk and beta-casomorpheine-7 being an addictive opiate or… Whatever. But now… I have a whole new blank look while I try to reset my poor brain via electrical stimulation…

    If bacteria are a product of a sick mind (as he says repeatedly, making an argument of personal and social value where actual scientific rhetoric would be an improved position)… I mean, does this guy KNOW about mitochondria? Maybe mitochondria =original sin? That would explain fungi, I guess, since the buggers often have TWO types of mitochondria… But then what about the bacteria that don’t have symbiotic ATP-producing critters in their cells?

    Oh, wait… That’s like… Logical reasoning… And stuff.

    Is this why people think that colonics are a fun afternoon? Maybe acai colonics. Does he grok the actual definition of “acidic”? And does the guy even TRY to reference the neomulsoy debacle as “proof”?

    Is Young related in any way to the now-deceased Time Cube guy?

  64. #64 stripey_cat
    May 18, 2011

    I had guinea-pigs as pets when I was young, and their response to antibiotics is spectacular. They’re rather inefficient hind-gut fermenters, and coprophagous to add to the fun. Antibiotics for a wound or respiratory infection can actually be fatal because of the mess they make of the digestive system. So, what our vet called cavy probiotics consist of soft feces (ie the type that’s re-eaten) of a healthy individual, puréed in boiled water and administered orally or as a suppository, twice daily for the duration of the course of treatment. You could also give them their Vit C supplementation at the same time. God knows what Young would make of that (of course, he objects to antibiotics, so I wonder how he’d treat an abscessed bite or pneumonia – I think I like guinea-pigs too much to want to find out).

  65. #65 Jim
    May 18, 2011

    I’m from New Hampshire which has the highest density population of conspiracy theorists next to Montana, and I can safely say that there about people who sincerely believe more bizarre stuff than this who stand to make no profit from it and who are alone in their beliefs.* Mr. (I will not call him Doctor) Young is not alone and does make money from his beliefs and I can only see that as reinforcing them.

    * One young woman who is by all appearances completely and utterly sane sincerely believes that there are no stars, no moons and no planets. Those are emanations of spirit, nothing more than that. The sky is only a few hundred miles up, and past that the spirits play tricks on people and satellites to make it look like they’re in space.

  66. #66 Luna_the_cat
    May 18, 2011

    “Does the pool of water need bacteria, … to stay pure, clean and healthy?”

    Ask anyone with a fishtank: Yes. Water with fish in it needs a lot of “good” bacteria which convert nitrogenous wastes; otherwise the water becomes loaded with nitrates and the fish die. Fishkeepers can buy several varieties of beneficial bacteria with which to seed tanks and keep them topped up.

  67. #67 Luna_the_cat
    May 18, 2011

    @Elfi — wait, the Time Cube guy is dead?

    Aww, no. Poor bastard. That makes me sad.

  68. #68 daedalus2u
    May 18, 2011

    Luna the cat, no, no, no! It is ammonia in fish tanks that kill fish. The good bacteria oxidize that ammonia to nitrite and then other bacteria oxidize it to nitrate. Nitrate is non-toxic.

    Nitrate is actually good for you. Green leafy vegetables such as lettuce have a few thousand ppm nitrate. There is essentially complete agreement in the NO research community that nitrate in the diet is good for you and that is likely one of the main nutrients in green leafy vegetables that make them healthy to eat.

    The beneficial bacteria I am working with are these same ammonia oxidizing bacteria that are essential for healthy aquariums.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=a3mwmXzpsjkC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA103#v=onepage&q&f=false

    My hypothesis is that these bacteria living on the skin help set the basal NO/NOx level and when that is out of whack, so are all NO mediated signaling pathways (because they all depend on the basal level).

  69. #69 kd
    May 18, 2011

    The stupid … it … it BURNS!

    But I suppose Young would tell me that the pain I’m feeling in my brain is actually caused by the acid buildup from my horribly woo-deprived diet.

    Oh, and … enzymes. Yeah, gotta be those enzymes.

  70. #70 Luna_the_cat
    May 18, 2011

    @daedalus:

    Water/aquarium toxicity, in order from worst to best, is certainly 1.ammonia 2.nitrites 3.nitrates. However, there IS such a thing as nitrate toxicity. I’m trying to nurse a pair of lovely comets back from it just now.

    http://www.theaquariumwiki.com/Nitrate

  71. #71 Dangerous Bacon
    May 18, 2011

    Of course, Young’s treatment of the woman with “multiple mylomia” didn’t work because she had already poisoned her system with chemotherapy.

    Or she didn’t follow his plan to the letter.

    Or she did not have a sufficiently positive attitude.

    I think that covers the usual excuses. I must go eat some sugars now. My pH is getting too alkaline and the bacteria and fungi are getting cranky.

  72. #72 Jon H
    May 18, 2011

    Matthew Cline wrote: “If it was just to get people to buy his stuff, why say such amazingly bizarre things that have nothing to do with his products? I mean, enzymes are waste products? Red blood cells are produced in the intestines?”

    I suspect in part it’s an effort to add to the “secret knowledge” that he reveals to his victims, that is contrary to authoritative scientific fact.

    For people who believe him and distrust mainstream medicine, every claim like this just increases his “credibility”, it’s another thing the doctors were “hiding” or “wrong about”.

  73. #73 Jon H
    May 18, 2011

    Matthew Cline wrote: “If it was just to get people to buy his stuff, why say such amazingly bizarre things that have nothing to do with his products? I mean, enzymes are waste products? Red blood cells are produced in the intestines?”

    I suspect in part it’s an effort to add to the “secret knowledge” that he reveals to his victims, that is contrary to authoritative scientific fact.

    For people who believe him and distrust mainstream medicine, every claim like this just increases his “credibility”, it’s another thing the doctors were “hiding” or “wrong about”.

  74. #74 Jacob
    June 1, 2011

    A large cup of strong cocoa with mostly white sugar – not too much molass to ruin the flavour (you get more minerals from under your fingernails than can be found in brown sugar), full fat milk.. The antioxidants are off the scale, the milk is a super food in itself!

    Add a sprinkle of epiousios* and you’re in heaven, healthy as a heifer!

    Can be cinnamon, hazel powder, even coconut powder :)

  75. #75 Jacob
    June 1, 2011

    A large cup of strong cocoa with mostly white sugar – not too much molass to ruin the flavour (you get more minerals from under your fingernails than can be found in brown sugar), full fat milk.. The antioxidants are off the scale, the milk is a super food in itself! Add a sprinkle of epiousios* and you’re in heaven, healthy as a heifer! Could be cinnamon, hazel powder, even coconut powder :)

    @Elfi, you’ve got a nice perspective there, I’ve often seen multicellular life and sexual reproduction as two of evolutions’ greatest cannibal fails!

    Cannibal fail is always funny, never taboo. x