Respectful Insolence

Naturopathy invades the heartland

Many are the times I’ve referred to homeopathy as The One Quackery To Rule Them All. Because homeopathic remedies diluted greater than 12 C (12 serial hundred-fold dilutions) have been diluted more than Avagadro’s number, they are incredibly unlikely to have even a single molecule of starting compound in them. That makes them water. Given that the vast majority of homeopathic remedies are, in fact, only water, they are the perfect quackery, and any effects due to homeopathy are nonspecific and placebo effects. More recently, I’ve pointed out that, because you can’t have naturopathy without homeopathy, naturopathy is the grab bag quackery for which no quackery is too quacky to be included in the grab bag. I, of course, respond to homeopaths and naturopaths, “Get into the f-ing sack.”

Personally, I like to use acceptance of homeopathy as a litmus test for credulity, knowing that anyone who believes in homeopathy–even understanding what it is–has a serious credulity problem. Naturopathy has a serious credulity problem. Even so, naturopathy seems to be making inroads in a lot of places, being the “respectable” form of quackery. Heck, its practitioners even give themselves the title of “doctor,” and the “ND” after their names is really close to the “MD” after the names of real doctors. Maybe that’s why naturopathy is among the most successful alt-med “disciplines” at insinuating its way into academic medical centers, “integrating” itself with science-based medicine. Of course, I never could figure out how “integrating” quackery with science-based medicine does anything other than taint SBM with pseudoscience.

Be that as it may, the other day I saw more evidence of just how prevalent the infiltration of pseudoscience has become. Normally, naturopathy and other forms of “alternative medicine” are associated with large population centers full of people who, because they live in large population centers yearn for the “natural” and earnestly believe that, just because it’s natural it must be better. Now, it’s infiltrating places like rural Montana:

Patients battling cancer now have a new option in their arsenal, which may include multiple cups of green tea or a prescription for ginger supplements.

Lynn Troy, a naturopathic doctor, works one day a week treating cancer patients at Kalispell Regional Medical Center’s Northwest Oncology and Hematology office. She began there in January, joining a small population of integrated cancer care naturopaths employed by hospitals in Montana.

“It had a slow start, but now it’s really busy,” Troy said.

Billings Clinic also offers naturopathic services for its integrated cancer care program, but the idea has yet to catch on throughout most of the state.

Unfortunately, I have no doubt that the naturopaths are working to try to make sure that the idea catches on in the rest of the state. And they’ll do it by doing what Troy does in this interview, co-opting science-based medicine and woo-ifying them. First, there’s the false appeal to “wholism,” in which only the naturopath “takes care of the whole patient.” Then add to that the claim of being a nutritionist:

A big part of her job is to assess the diet and nutrition of the patient, and to prescribe herbs and supplements to complement the array of traditional medicines they are already taking.

Troy said her prescriptions range within the botanical, herbal and homeopathic medicines, depending on what she is treating – whether it’s a side effect of current therapies or a general symptom.

This could mean suggesting supplemental melatonin, coenzyme-Q10 or five cups of green tea, she said, as well as various herbs. Her patients are motivated to make a change, Troy said, and their diet is a good place to start.

Of course it is, but making a change just for change’s sake is rather pointless. In medicine, suggestions for “making a change” should be based on sound evidence and science. Naturopaths, as we’ve seen time and time again, are experts in taking preliminary results of scientific investigation and investing far too much confidence into them to the point of using them in people whether they sufficiently evidence-based enough for that or not.

And let’s not forget the “empowerment” angle. Not surprisingly, it’s in this article too. Troy’s naturopathy is described as giving patients the power to take control, with naturopathy described as teaching patients “how they can change their lifestyle to improve their health”–as if conventional medicine doesn’t try to do that every time physicians try to persuade their patients to lose weight, excercise, stop smoking, and make other lifestyle interventions in order to improve their health does not. Apparently, woo makes the medicine of hard truth about what it takes to improve one’s health easier to take. Or, alternatively, taking supplements flows from the same impulse that taking a pill does: It’s way easier to take a pill or a supplement than to commit to long term changes in lifestyle that can be unpleasant and, more importantly, require a daily effort to follow. In this, naturopathy and supplement hawking are no different than medicine. Where they are different is that SBM requires valid scientific evidence before it recommends a pill or other treatment; naturopathy bases its recommendations on a philosophy rather than science. It also convinces the patient that it’s “empowering” him or her. The problem is, true empowerment can never derive from being fed information that is at odds with reality.

But it’s not just naturopathy. If you want to have an idea when something’s gone “mainstream,” just look at the course catalog of your local community college, a community college like Northern Virginia Community College:

Newcomers to this concept [of homeopathy] can gain a wider understanding of this alternative medicine at Johnson’s “Intro to Homeopathy” class at the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College this spring.

The Basics: Three two-hour sessions are spread out over three weeks and students need to purchase a copy of Timothy Dooley’s “Homeopathy: Beyond Flat Earth Medicine” ($11, Timing Publications). The first class is an overview of homeopathy and an examination of how it’s used today. According to the World Health Organization, it’s the second most widely used form of medicine in the world (bested only by herbal medicine) and it’s most popular in Asia, South America and Europe.

Another naturopath. Why does it always have to be a naturopath? Maybe it’s because naturopathy is a cornucopia of quackery, a hodge-podge of virtually any quackery that can fit into the “natural” belief system underlying naturopathy, be it traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, homeopathy, various forms of supplements, or “energy healing.” He’s also recruiting:

Students who complete the class will not be certified to practice homeopathy, but they will have with a stronger understanding of the discipline. Johnson hopes that the class helps participants decide whether they would like to continue on to naturopathic school to get an ND themselves.

I must admit, I often have a hard time stifling a laugh when I hear the term “certified to practice homeopathy.” Give me a couple of measuring implements, some vials to shake up the remedies between each dilution step, and a lobotomy, and I could be “certified to practice homeopathy” right now. (You don’t even have to give me a Bible to smack the remedy against at each succussion step, the way Samuel Hahnemann himself did it!) Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), I’ll pass.

Be that as it may, this course at the community college is clearly meant as a “gateway” to homeopathy. It serves two purposes. First, it serves as propaganda to make believers out of members of the general public. True, these are self-selected members of the general public, given that they’re willing to pay $129 for three classes on homeopathy, but after the class they have the potential to become at the very least evangelists for pseudoscience and at the very worst potential new homeopaths themselves.

And so it goes.

Unfortunately, the longer I’m at this, the more of this sort of thing I see. I tend to attribute the increasing infiltration of quackery into places where you’d never see it before, such as northwest Montana and community colleges in Virginia, to quackademic medicine. The reason is due to an effect that I like to call the “Harvard effect,” as in, “Harvard’s doing it.” And Harvard is doing it to. So is Stanford, UCSF, the University of Michigan, Yale, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and many academic hospitals. They provide the patina of respectability to pseudoscience, giving smaller hospitals out in the sticks, whose physicians tend to want to emulate academia anyway, because that’s where the cutting edge therapies are. By associating with academia, quackademic medicine takes on the aura of being “cutting edge” itself. Worse, unlike high tech new cutting edge therapies at university hospitals, which are quite expensive and demand specialized skills unlikely to be available in rural areas, modalities like naturopathy are relatively cheap and can be done anywhere.

Is it any wonder that small community hospitals in Montana (or Missouri or Ohio or Kansas or anywhere else with lots of rural hospitals) would want a piece of that?

Comments

  1. #1 Seborgarsen
    May 26, 2011

    Why is Harvard doing it? Wouldn’t selling out to Big Altmed do more damage economically by way of damage to reputation?

    PS. aawhaa? “prescription for ginger supplements”? Prescription? I say the lot should be reported: http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/CriminalInvestigations/default.htm

  2. #2 Skeptiverse
    May 26, 2011

    It seems that not only are NDs quacks they are lazy quacks. 1 day a week is she serious how busy can you really be working 1 day a week.

  3. #3 prn
    May 26, 2011

    Different threads of interest will combine in strange ways. Perhaps at the Harvard level, it is a way dealing with the inherent bankruptcy of Medicare and Social Security, as we know them today, without an overt default or revolution. Maintaining leadership is very important at Harvard – keeping your head on your shoulders can be as important as having a good one. I am not sure that science per se matters to the policy side of Harvard liberal arts faculty anyway.

    Alphas, or friends of the elite get one thing, Deltas and serfs another. Seemed to function for a while in the USSR. Or, perhaps general nihilism following the welfare state.

  4. #4 Lawrence
    May 26, 2011

    Look at it this way – if the patient dies, the quack can claim it was because of the conventional treatments & if they live, they’ll claim it was because of the alternative treatments. By co-opting conventional medical practices, they get the best of both world – the ability to claim all of the success, without needing to accept any responsibility.

  5. #5 Physiology expert
    May 26, 2011

    Автор ошибается. Концентрация, и вещество не лечит. Эффект не зависит от вещества, от характера заболевания. К сожалению, автор не знает.

  6. #6 hellocthulu
    May 26, 2011

    prn, did you accidentally summon a soviet invasion (Comment 5)

    Bad prn. no commie-summoning.

  7. #7 supratall
    May 26, 2011

    OK, I’ll come clean: this reminds me of an embarrassingly recent conversation with my materials science-trained boyfriend.

  8. #8 daijiyobu
    May 26, 2011

    Re: “by associating with academia”…

    I’ve been quite ‘impressed’ with the balls-out strategy of the latest ND- granting school, NUHS in Chicago.

    The ‘s’ stands for sciences, as in: school subset science subset NUHS subset naturopathy subset homeopathy.

    Interesting that the Institute For Creationism Research was unable to get approval to grant a science credential, but naturopathy has carte blanche.

    Since naturopathy, a doctoral pseudoscience program, is fully approved, it only seems fair — a bizzaro-land kind of reversal of values fair, I specifically mean — to let ICR have their pseudoscience M.S.

    -r.c.

  9. #9 Physiology expert
    May 26, 2011

    (The comment 6) Nonsense and mistakes, politics and nationality no have.

  10. #10 Physiology expert
    May 26, 2011

    It is impossible to judge laws on its visible actions. Action – is the consequence, the studied reasons.

  11. #11 prn
    May 26, 2011

    hellocthulu@6: prn, did you accidentally summon a soviet invasion…?
    I think “Physiology expert”@5 is directly addressing Orac on homeopathy.

    Russian to English, Google translation of #5:
    [The author is mistaken. Concentration of the substance does not cure. Effect does not depend on the substance of the nature of the disease. Unfortunately, the author does not know]

  12. #12 Dr Sam Girgis
    May 26, 2011

    Cyanide is a naturally occuring substance, but because it is “natural” does not mean I intend on prescibing it to my patients. It seems that naturopathy has taken advantage of the desperation that some patients feel when looking for treatments. We must continue to emphasize the fact that “natural” does not decessarily mean that it’s good for you.

    Dr Sam Girgis
    http://drsamgirgis.com

  13. #13 Greg Fish
    May 26, 2011

    @hellocthulu, #6

    It’s not just a commie summoning but the most reductive one I’ve ever seen. Apparently homeopathic effects are magic that rely on nothing at all and can’t be studied. I’m also surprised by how accurately Google translated that post. Usually translation tools will butcher phrases in other languages with grammatically incorrect words…

    That aside, why drink green tea and take herbal supplements to treat cancers instead of raising money and petitioning for more federal funding into some of the cutting edge treatments being cooked up in labs, like tiny artificial particles targeting tumors with siRNA to interfere with their growth and other nano-mechanical means of starving tumors and tracking down how they metastasize?

    The ideas seem very promising and so do the trial results but there are so few patients per trial and so few labs working on the concept to see if it would work in real world clinical conditions…

    It just irritates me that “natural” quacks seem to have such a hold on people while real cutting edge science that can actually save lives gets ignored or put on the back burner in favor of twits who trip over their own tongues when trying to explain why it is that their nostrums and concoctions are supposed to help patients.

  14. #14 Jeff
    May 26, 2011

    I’m no fan of homeopathy, but the science of nutrition is progressing in leaps and bounds. This article descibes a recent review of the nutrient curcumin by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center:

    http://www.wellnessresources.com/health/articles/curcumin_helps_change_gene_function_to_combat_cancer/

    Like many other other natural substances, curcumin can differentiate between cancer cells and healthy cells; kill the cancer cells, make healthy cells stronger and better able to survive. Maybe these naturopaths are onto something!

  15. #15 Physiology expert
    May 26, 2011

    You have incorrectly studied substance athzetilholin. Therefore will erroneous conclusions.

  16. #16 Physiology expert
    May 26, 2011

    You are not properly examined the substance acetylcholine. On this you have the wrong conclusions.

  17. #17 Joe in A2
    May 26, 2011

    Jeff, someone will beat me to it.

    But read that list you just read down. Does it really not set off your bullshit detector?

    Although that article is a bit simplistic, I have to give the article credit for stating that nutrition can help the body fight cancer and increase the effectiveness of traditional cancer therapies. While such claims as listed seem a bit fantastical, I am happy to see a site I did initially write off as quack-tastic talk about epigenetic functions and supporting traditional therapies.

    Still, I approach it warily. Even naturopaths are going to be right sometimes.

  18. #18 JohnTR
    May 26, 2011

    I hold a special disdain for naturopathy. A family member, whom I take regularly to one of the best M.S. centers in NYC, is starting to become completely blinded by woo. The center has a acquired a naturopathic doctor, lending this doctors a false credibility – their door is right next to some of the best neurologists, clinical research scientists and physical therapists for M.S.

    It all comes down to the sense of empowerment, as Orac said. M.S. is an awful disease, and in cases like my family member’s, can be rapidly degenerative. Medicine for the most part has not done much to slow down his progression of the disease. But since seeing this naturopathic doctor, he feels like he is in control of of his body and his disease. Naturopathy offers simple answers like, “we eat certain foods, we feel better,” which is a much less complex concept to understand than regulation of proteins in the brain or structures of nerve cells. What really pisses me off is that his doctor has convinced him that he has all sorts of food allergies (gluten, eggs, etc) without ever running any food sensitivity tests, and has him on a diet eating nothing but kale, fruit and plenty of pricey herbal supplements. While I don’t doubt there is some organic real sensation of relief from his symptoms he is experiencing, I fear following this naturopath will be detrimental in the long run. He has stated his plans to soon get off all his medication and stop seeing his neurologist in favor of seeing the naturopathic doctor exclusively.

    Its a gateway woo. It started with this quack and now hes off to have an unnecessary and unstudied procedure done (CCSVI – Dr. Novella has written about this before). While I hold a graduate degree in a research science and I try my best to act as the voice of reason during his doctor appointments, I simply cannot compete with the sway of the quacks. The personal and individualized attention the naturopaths can give, the customization of a diet for their special symptoms is exactly what people are looking for when medicine has not had the desired results.

    I have seen this type of naturopathy invasion first hand in a top research institution. It preys on the weak and vulnerable, offering them simple answers to complex problems.

  19. #19 TBruce
    May 26, 2011

    Timothy Dooley’s “Homeopathy: Beyond Flat Earth Medicine”

    Oh, the irony.

  20. #20 Sarah
    May 26, 2011

    That stuff reminds me the supplement-seller that knocked on my door a couple weeks ago. I listened to his spiel with a mixture of surprise and amusement (door-to-door quackery salespeople? Seriously? This is honestly the first door-to-door salesperson I’ve met in five years of living in my location, and he sells supplements and homeopathy?). He said, “And all this stuff is all-natural, so you know it’s good for you!”

    I replied, “All-natural? You mean like nightshade?”

    He left.

  21. #21 CholeraJoe
    May 26, 2011

    I wonder how many patients per week are flying into Kalispell, Montana from Seattle, Salt Lake City, Denver and Las Vegas to receive naturopathic treatment for their cancers? Probably just as many as are flying into Bardstown, Kentucky to receive a revolutionary new surgery for esophagitis.

  22. #22 Vicki
    May 26, 2011

    “Inherent bankruptcy” meaning that the people who hate medicare and social security keep playing with the numbers to convince you that there’s not enough money there, while siphoning some of it off to pay for the rest of the federal budget, you mean? (The typical “social security is bankrupt” claims invoke implausibly low economic growth rates when doing those numbers, then turn around and use much higher ones when calculating everything else. This is not honest.)

  23. #23 Vicki
    May 26, 2011

    JohnTR: Would you be willing to identify the medical center you’re taking your relative to, either here or in email.

  24. #24 Anthro
    May 26, 2011

    The question is what are we going to do about it? MD’s have got to hone their approach to patients if they are going to stop this slide into woodom. People go to these quacks because they feel neglected at least, and insulted at worst, by what they perceive as a brushoff from the MD. I’ve experienced this myself with the resulting foray into woo (brief and quickly realized, but not so the rest of my “circle”). I was lucky to have a good background in the history of science, if not the direct practice, and am skeptical by nature. But people who are religious or “spiritual” are very easily led down this path and one good scoffing from the MD is all it takes for them to find someone who “cares” about their symptoms.

    It becomes even more difficult to dissuade people from these practices when they become part of traditional medical centers. Doctors need to question this invasion into SBM loudly and clearly, and stop this heinous validation of quackery.

  25. #25 sophia8
    May 26, 2011

    Jeff @13: Go to Google Scholar and do a search on “curcumin cancer”. You will find over 26,000 articles and patents about studies on the effects of curcumin on cancers, dating back to the 1990s and maybe before.
    How many of those studies were performed by naturopaths? Not many, is my guess. But naturopaths are always quick to jump on news of the latest research involving medical uses of so-called “natural” chemicals and crow about how they “always knew”.
    No they didn’t know, not until they read the articles.

  26. #26 Calli Arcale
    May 26, 2011

    Sarah — he might even have been selling nightshade, without realizing that’s what belladonna is. While the actual stuff is pretty dangerous (and a source of a legitimate medicine, atropine), homeopathic belladonna is not uncommon.

  27. #27 Denice Walter
    May 26, 2011

    I was half-asleep around 3 am but a thought arose that woke me right up… it was one of those startling coalescences of ideas concerning recent events; this has happened before- a few times in September-October 2008, it involved frightening numbers ( vix & libor)that I had seen previously in the day; it has also revolved around the possibility of being sued. This time was probably the worst.

    “Making inroads” wrote our esteemed host. Lately, the woo-meisters I follow speak of “paradigm shift” and “‘scientific’ revolution” ( which I suppose *really* means that science itself will be overthrown and replaced with pseudo-science). Orac speaks about the infiltration of woo into med schools and universities; I have discussed how charlatans propose promulgating their ideas through parents and school systems. Then there are the anti-vaxxers.

    Right now, economies are dealing with the aftermath of 2008: as money tightens in western democracies perhaps there will be less to go around for medical care ( meaning SBM) which has become increasingly technical and expensive. While Mike Adams and others cry out that their natural approach will be hindered by governmental dictatorship, I fear the opposite possibility: that governmental laxity of regulation (DSHEA) and cuts into governmentally sponsored health care will allow us to slide into the very Woo-topia of “Health Freedom” ( a/k/a free enterprise for crankery) that is the wet dream of charlatans like Mike and Gary Null.

    Woo is the “opiate”( although non-functioning as such physiologically- it’s all placebo) that placates those with real complaints accompanied by psychological distress, pacifying fears, soothing qualms, and inspiring confidence ( which con men do very well, hence the name) with promises of “total cures”, “no side effects”, and “lack of toxicity”. And like Marx’s opiate, spirituality plays a part as well here: woo is faith-based and seeks out a higher plane of reality ( other ways of knowing), as it surely doesn’t work so well in the one I inhabit.

    The everyday stresses and ills of people are calmed with re-assuring talk that is just that: “talk”. Although woo-meisters tell their followers that “stress kills” they continuously *ramp up* stress with tales of world’s end or the end to life as we know it : Adams talks of societal and economic collapse, Null adds “solar flare activity” which will knock out the electrical grid causing “riots in the streets” as well: then they each sell you “storable organic foods” and seminars on coping with the forthcoming endtimes.

    We may live in harsh times: preying upon fears and magnifying them to your own fiscal advantage illustrates how hard the world has become.

  28. #28 Erik Jensen
    May 26, 2011

    Courses such as those at Northern Virginia Community College are easy to run at my community college. We’ve had courses on ghost hunting and aromatherapy, for example. All of these are considered “community education” which is self-supporting (no taxpayer subsidies) and non-credit. From the colleges point of view, it’s a money machine. From the woomeister’s point of view, it’s fertile ground for recruiting customers.

  29. #29 The Analyst
    May 26, 2011

    Of course, I never could figure out how “integrating” quackery with science-based medicine does anything other than taint SBM with pseudoscience.

    As I said before there is such thing is scienced-based naturopathic herbs. Another person and myself listed a bunch of science-based naturopathic herbs, etc in the comments section in the past. Our posts were not refuted. Some people cherry picked my post at an herb or two (since they didn’t think they were science-based), but my post was far from refuted. It seems like you are dissuaded by people like Steve Novella perhaps, because he generally comes across as very grounded and reasonable. While his facts are correct most of the time, when he starts talking about naturopathy he sort of stumbles over the facts a bit while dissuading his listeners.

    What we are dealing with is group think and herd mentality that takes place on both sides (i.e. naturopathic and medical doctors).

    We all participate in group think and herd mentality to some degree, but it would be nice to see people think more for themselves than having to get their information (or lack thereof) from blog posts and podcasts. Education is good, but some of these sources contain a heft dose of built in persuasion.

  30. #30 Jeff
    May 26, 2011

    @Denise Walter:

    While Mike Adams and others cry out that their natural approach will be hindered by governmental dictatorship, I fear the opposite possibility: that governmental laxity of regulation (DSHEA) and cuts into governmentally sponsored health care will allow us to slide into the very Woo-topia of “Health Freedom”…

    I don’t think you have much to worry about. It’s true that DSHEA guarantees consumer access to safe, natural products. But Obamacare will force many to buy a level of health insurance they don’t want or need, leaving less money to pay for these natural products. Unfortunately your opinions reflect those of the medical dictocrats in Washington: Americans should not be allowed freedom of choice regarding healthcare, since they might make “wrong” choices.

  31. #31 JohnV
    May 26, 2011

    oh neat, its one of those guys.

  32. #32 Denice Walter
    May 26, 2011

    @ Jeff : Isn’t it a waste to throw your money after herbal products and supplements whose sales pitch promotes prevention and cure of serious illness without solid data. DSHEA results don’t bode too well for alt med.

    About “force”, I believe that you have been reading NaturalNews or listening to Fox too much: right! as in Massachusetts the armed government agents came into homes forcing citizens to sign on the dotted line, buying insurance. Do you really expect this? Come on. There is the income consideration and probability of lack of enforcement of “fines” by taxation ( MSNBC has discussed this for *years*) Oh, “Forbidden Channel”! I see!

    Most countries provide coverage. If you ever are unfortunate enough to need surgery or treatment for a serious illness how do you propose that it will be paid for, if all aren’t somehow in the insurance pool? The present system is very costly. Herbals will not go very far in dealing with an MI or CHF.

  33. #33 Roadstergal
    May 26, 2011

    “Nature is floods and famines and earthquakes and viruses and little blue-footed booby babies getting their brains pecked out by their stronger siblings! ….Nature doesn’t care about me, or about anybody in particular – nature can be terrifying! Why do they even put words like ‘natural’ on products like shampoo, like it’s automatically a good thing? I mean, sulfuric acid is natural!”

    -Julia Sweeney

  34. #34 cervantes
    May 26, 2011

    I can explain very easily why Harvard does it. It’s because the NCCAM gives them millions of dollars every year. They just can’t pass it up.

  35. #35 Sastra
    May 26, 2011

    The analyst #28 wrote:

    As I said before there is such thing is scienced-based naturopathic herbs.

    What is the difference between “science-based naturopathic herbs” and the herbs used in pharmacognosy?

    Or, put another way, if you take pharmacognosy out of naturopathy — what remains?

  36. #36 Scott Cunningham
    May 26, 2011

    Physiology expert @5

    Автор ошибается. Концентрация, и вещество не лечит. Эффект не зависит от вещества, от характера заболевания. К сожалению, автор не знает.

    Well said!

    My cyrillic Russian is a little rusty, (ancient shipwreck territory, frankly,) but I believe that said something about the effect of treatment being completely independent of substance prescribed, concentration, or the disease, which implies it’s placebo medicine.

  37. #37 wfjag
    May 26, 2011

    Timothy Dooley’s “Homeopathy: Beyond Flat Earth Medicine”

    When you go beyond the Flat Earth, don’t you fall off?

  38. #38 Francine Davies
    May 26, 2011

    Actually, placebo has a 53% success rate and pharmaceuticals (scientifically formulated) 46%. Scientifically (!) validated IRBs run on common herbs have shown 60 to 75% success rates. Add to that the fact that over 200,000 people in the US die in hospitals each year as a direct result of being given pharmaceuticals, I’ll take my chances with ginger over acetomedophine any day. And, yes, I would rather choose my healthcare than that submit to scientific dogma since pharmaceuticals have nearly killed me on several occasions.

  39. #39 Lawrence
    May 26, 2011

    Wow – who knew that 53% of cancers were cured by placebo?

  40. #40 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    May 26, 2011

    Francine Davies – do you have reliable sources for any of those numbers?

  41. #41 Yojimbo
    May 26, 2011

    @ Mephistopheles O’Brien

    do you have reliable sources for any of those numbers?

    No doubt she does, but I suspect the sun don’t shine there.

  42. #42 JohnV
    May 26, 2011

    100% of JohnVs reading Francine Davies comment think it 100% absurd to through random numbers all over a comment with no citations and are 0% surprised that such a comment comes from a crank.

  43. #43 kd
    May 26, 2011

    Scientifically (!) validated IRBs run on common herbs have shown 60 to 75% success rates.

    Scientifically validated institutional review boards have been run on common herbs with 60 to 75% rates of success?

    Orac, were you aware that the HSR oversight board at your institution may have been high on pot when they OK’d your latest cancer study?

    Quite a shocking revelation.

  44. #44 Francine Davies
    May 26, 2011

    “A statement of fact cannot be insolent” – really??? I was educated as a civil engineer , so I am technically a scientist. And science is about observation, or so I was educated to think. I would not label or judge you as you have me because science demands observation, not emotion. My personal observations, and no one else’s, determine my actions. I demand the right to choose my healthcare and not have it dictated to me my people who like to play God and dictate their “truth” on to me. My experiences gave me the opportunity for oservation, pure and simple. You can have all the drugs you want – I really don’t care.

  45. #45 Gray Falcon
    May 26, 2011

    Ms. Davies:

    My personal observations, and no one else’s, determine my actions.

    Do you see nothing wrong with drinking bleach? After all, you’ve never had a negative experience with that before.

  46. #46 NJ
    May 26, 2011

    FD @ 44:

    I was educated as a civil engineer , so I am technically a scientist.

    No, you’re not. You are an applied technologist. You use the tools scientists figure out how to make. You do not spend time figuring out how the world works. And how do we know this? Easy:

    My personal observations, and no one else’s, determine my actions.

    The plural of anecdote is not data. Scientists know this. You do not. Educate yourself about Dunning-Kruger and try again.

  47. #47 Chris
    May 26, 2011

    Francine Davies:

    I was educated as a civil engineer , so I am technically a scientist. And science is about observation, or so I was educated to think.

    I was educated as an aerospace engineer, and I agree with the others in that you are not a scientist (I am also not a scientist, even though I did spend a bit of my career being a rocket scientist). I also believe that your engineering education is faulty if you believe anecdotes count as data. Did you skip out on the statistics for engineers class?

    Have you had to go through design review without providing documentation for your presentation?

  48. #48 JayK
    May 26, 2011

    @Francine Davies:

    I was educated as a civil engineer , so I am technically a scientist.

    I have multiple degrees, one of them in electrical engineering. I can positively state that engineers are not trained as scientists. They are trained to apply and diagnose based on models derived from scientific methods. They may take a lot of science classes, but their main jobs and skillsets are applying technologies that already exist.

    The engineers I work with on a daily basis have no qualifications as scientists. If it wasn’t in a book, they don’t know it.

  49. #49 Wrysmile
    May 26, 2011

    I’m a civil and structural engineer and i’m certainly no scientist and i’d hate to think what might happen if i designed buildings and roads purely using my personal observations.

  50. #50 lynxreign
    May 26, 2011

    NJ @46

    The plural of anecdote is not data.

    Ooh! I’ve been waiting for someone to mention this again. I have a proposal for the plural of anecdote

    Manyecdote

    Now that there’s a word for it, maybe they’ll stop calling it data.

  51. #51 Sastra
    May 26, 2011

    Francine Davies #44 wrote:

    And science is about observation, or so I was educated to think… My personal observations, and no one else’s, determine my actions. I demand the right to choose my healthcare and not have it dictated to me my people who like to play God and dictate their “truth” on to me.

    You do not understand science; it involves humility, and a recognition that our biases lead to error, so we need cross-checks.

    Science is not about the truth (or The Truth). It’s about evidence and data and what can be observed. It’s about models, explanations, and theories that explain current observations and make predictions. All “truths” in science are provisional. If the evidence doesn’t support a model anymore, scientists abandon it in favor of a model that better explains the existing evidence. — (Orac)

    So — if you are wrong, what would it take to change your mind? Or do you not care if you’re right or wrong — as long as you have the at least temporary ability to feel “empowered?”

  52. #52 palindrom
    May 26, 2011

    As long as we’re harping on people not being scientists, here’s a possibly provocative observation — many, probably most, MDs are not scientists, either.

    Fortunately, there are many who are superb scientists, both by training and by habit of mind (our host seems to fall squarely in this class).

    However, many MDs have reached their exalted status by plodding through a mindless, memorization-based science “education” that leaves them defenseless against the siren songs of woo.

  53. #53 Prometheus
    May 26, 2011

    Francine Davies (#38) tests the limits of credulity:

    “Actually, placebo has a 53% success rate and pharmaceuticals (scientifically formulated) 46%.”

    Is that an aggregate placebo success rate or a specific placebo success rate from a particular study? Or was that number simply conjured out of thin air? Citations are requested but not anticipated.

    “Scientifically (!) validated IRBs run on common herbs have shown 60 to 75% success rates.”

    I’m trying to come up with what Ms. Davies meant by “IRB”, since the first one that came to my mind – Institutional Review Board – doesn’t seem to fit. Here’s a tip: it’s best to not use an acronym without first defining it.

    On the off chance that Ms. Davies meant “clinical trial” or “randomised controlled trial” (RCT), I’d like to know [a] what “common herbs” were tested (oregano? sage? thyme? rosmary?) and [b] what were the outcome measures (savory stews? delicious soups? tasty pasta sauces?). Absent a citation, I’ll assume that Ms. Davies just made this figure up.

    Then we get to the “meat” of this rather vegan offering:

    “Add to that the fact that over 200,000 people in the US die in hospitals each year as a direct result of being given pharmaceuticals, I’ll take my chances with ginger over acetomedophine [sic] any day.”

    I believe Ms. Davies is conflating iatrogenic deaths with deaths due to “pharmaceuticals”; a citation would be helpful but, again, I won’t be holding my breath.

    Finally, we get to what may be the crux of Ms. Davies comment:

    “And, yes, I would rather choose my healthcare than that submit to scientific dogma since pharmaceuticals have nearly killed me on several occasions.”

    Anyone who has been “nearly killed” by pharmaceuticals on “several occasions” is either in a very precarious state of health or just can’t put the stuff down. Assuming Ms. Davies isn’t “medically fragile”, I’d suggest a good twelve-step program.

    As for the right to “choose my own healthcare”, I believe that, as an adult, you are not only allowed but expected to choose your own healthcare. If your choice is fantasy-based medicine over evidence-based medicine, well, you are free to pick whichever suits your fancy.

    Prometheus

  54. #54 herr doktor bimler
    May 26, 2011

    Add to that the fact that over 200,000 people in the US die in hospitals each year as a direct result of being given pharmaceuticals

    When this figure is so much higher than anyone else’s estimate, I feel obliged to ask for a source; otherwise I’m left wondering whether Francine Davies’ “personal observations” consist of listening to the leprechauns in her trousers.

  55. #55 daijiyobu
    May 26, 2011

    Re: “by associating with academia”…

    I’ve been quite ‘impressed’ with the balls-out strategy of the latest ND- granting school, NUHS in Chicago.

    The ‘s’ stands for sciences, as in: school subset science subset NUHS subset naturopathy subset homeopathy.

    Interesting that the Institute For Creationism Research was unable to get approval to grant a science credential, but naturopathy has carte blanche.

    Since naturopathy, a doctoral pseudoscience program, is fully approved, it only seems fair — a bizzaro-land kind of reversal of values fair, I specifically mean — to let ICR have their pseudoscience M.S.

    -r.c.

  56. #56 MikeMa
    May 26, 2011

    I have an electrical engineering degree and have worked many years in computer science. Doesn’t make me a scientist either.

    I loved the lab work I did one year assaying drugs at Wyeth labs and recognize that even the work I did there was really only technologist or maybe junior scientist level. The real scientist (my boss) took my data and the data of many others and looked at trends and anomalies in that data to make recommendations to other scientists on how to change drug formulations. Fun but a real eye opener into the tedium of science, and the statistics.

    Francine Davies: Get a clue before you drag you anecdotes through this place.

  57. #57 Chris
    May 26, 2011

    Wrysmile:

    I’m a civil and structural engineer and i’m certainly no scientist and i’d hate to think what might happen if i designed buildings and roads purely using my personal observations.

    What? Don’t you know Young’s Modulus and Poisson’s Ratio are just ways for Big Material to make you buy from them? You need to free yourself from the iron fist of Stephen Timoshenko’s tenets (often known as “that Irish guy”, well at least in my structure classes). You need Alternative Engineering.

    ;-)

  58. #58 Prometheus
    May 26, 2011

    Herr Doctor Bimler notes (in reference to Ms. Davies figures on “death from pharmaceuticals”):

    “When this figure is so much higher than anyone else’s estimate, I feel obliged to ask for a source…”

    I thought it might be interesting to look at the numbers of deaths from some other causes, just to see how likely Ms. Davies’ number is to be correct.

    [Note: from CDC preliminary 2009 data]

    All causes, all ages: 2,436,652 (so “death by pharmaceuticals” would be nearly 10% of all deaths)

    Major cardiovascular diseases – 779,367

    Malignant neoplasms – 568,668

    All accidents – 117,176

    Complications of medical and surgical care – 2,550

    Now, I’m not an expert, but it seems to me that people dying from pharmaceuticals would come under the heading “complications of medical and surgical care”. If so, Ms. Davies’ number (200,000 per year) would seem to be high by at least a factor of one hundred.

    But maybe 2009 was an especially low year for pharmaceutical-caused deaths. Let’s look at 2007 (the latest year with final results):

    All deaths, all ages – 2,423,712

    Complications of medical and surgical care – 2,597

    It looks like Ms. Davies has some explaining to do.

    Prometheus

  59. #59 Krebiozen
    May 26, 2011

    That ever-varying iatrogenic deaths figure bugs me. I wonder if the people who wave those figures around have actually worked in a general hospital.

    The UK hospitals I have worked in have been full to overflowing with ever increasing numbers of elderly sick patients with multiple medical problems. A lot of them will die whatever is done for them (we all die eventually, many of us in a hospital), and some of them will die as a result of the drugs they are given. US hospitals surely cannot be that different.

    For example, you have an elderly diabetic patient with failing kidneys, congestive cardiac failure, malnutrition from not eating properly for weeks before admission and a fractured hip. Her doctor really does need to give her a cocktail of drugs or she will die, so the possibility of an adverse drug reaction is very real.

    If that drug reaction is fatal she is added to the list of iatrogenic deaths, and then someone claims this as evidence that conventional medicine kills, and bogus alternatives like naturopathy have all the answers.

    What could naturopathy or herbal medicine do for that hypothetical patient?

  60. #60 JayK
    May 26, 2011

    What could naturopathy or herbal medicine do for that hypothetical patient?

    Nutritional medicine is the correct answer, right? Blame the patient for not eating right.

  61. #61 davidp
    May 26, 2011

    @JohnTR #18 Your relative has been ‘empowered’ by being made falsely afraid of various foods, so he now has the ‘power’ to avoid them. In a few years he will be trapped, ‘unable’ to eat those foods and ‘requiring’ various expensive ones, and may have trouble nourishing himself. He will also be poorer, unable to afford other things, possibly including health care, because of the expensive food requirements. Those are possible results of false ‘empowerment’. I’ve met people in that situation.

  62. #62 Bacopa
    May 26, 2011

    I’m no scientist, but I know homeopathy is purest woo. I really hate that some woo has penetrated into MD Anderson, it’s just about the best cancer research hospital in the US and the Texas Medical Center is an awesome place. Imagine a complex of hospitals bigger than downtown Denver. That’s what it’s like. I suspect that wooness at MD Anderson, Harvard, and the like are the result of the actions of a few big doners. I will try to find out who is responsible.

    Houston has a cancer survivors monumet:
    http://www.yelp.com/biz/bloch-cancer-survivors-plaza-houston

    Oddly enough it’s a popular place for bridal gown photographs.

    Maybe the woo at Anderson is just a way to get people in for effective treatment who would not do so without some woo. I hope that’s all it is.

  63. #63 Madness Takes Its Troll
    May 26, 2011

    Argument from authority, anecdote, anecdote, anecdote, magical-thinking, conflation, straw man, anecdote, red herring, ad hominem, anecdote, righteous indignation, victimhood, anecdote, wishful thinking, confirmation bias, sense of triumph, so there!

  64. #64 Narad
    May 27, 2011

    Eesh.

    The EO is asking for guidance from the Committee on how much longer she is to overlook the unlicensed practice aspect and just compel them to license.

    (California Naturopathic Medicine Committee minutes, 2010 November 5.)

    OH. MY. G-D. THEY KNOW! THEY KNOW!!!

  65. #65 Chris
    May 27, 2011

    I have a satirical comment in moderation. It mostly points Ms. Davies to this article on Alternative Engineering. I actually don’t think she has had to stand in front of somewhat hostile customer audience to defend her own work. Been there, done that… but it was fun to comment that the next presentation had the acronym of “FRACAS.”

  66. #66 Jarred C
    May 27, 2011

    Narad, it get’s worse:

    From your same link (page 3)

    California NDs cannot currently practice as trained and cannot practice to the extent of NDs in the other licensing states. Every state that licenses ND has the same education and board examination requirements, yet California NDs are consistently hampered from providing quality primary care due to the limitations outlined in the reports. With the growing need in California for primary care providers and the lack of MDs and DOs to provide that care, it makes sense that California would want to encourage NDs to not only fully practice primary care medicine but also encourage their patients to be proactive in preventing disease, which is major component of naturopathic care.

  67. #67 Woo is me
    May 27, 2011

    The fact that this blog even exists is proof enough that naturopathy must work. Otherwise there would be no need to constantly disparage it, would there? You don’t see blogs written by astronomers writing thousands of words a day disparaging astrology. The blog author’s strident, high-pitched tone only reinforces to the reader that there must be something effective about naturopathy, since if it was as useless as he maintains, there would be no need to constantly point out its ineffectiveness. When someone tries very hard to convince me that something is obvious, it usually isn’t.

  68. #68 Krebiozen
    May 27, 2011

    @Woo is me
    I think you miss the point, and have adopted a rather unreliable method of assessing what is or is not effective. If courses in astrology started being taught as fact in reputable universities, I think there might be a few astronomers taking a “strident, high-pitched tone”. I suppose that would convince you there must be something to it. After all, Professor Brian Cox recently said on TV “Let’s get this straight once and for all, astrology is rubbish”. So it must be true, right?

    Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the depth of idiocy displayed by some naturopaths. If so, check out this blog post by naturopathic doctor Robert O. Young. I hope it speaks for itself.

  69. #69 herr doktor bimler
    May 27, 2011

    The fact that this blog even exists is proof enough that naturopathy must work. Otherwise there would be no need to constantly disparage it, would there? You don’t see blogs written by astronomers writing thousands of words a day disparaging astrology.

    Indeed the non-existence of such websites is conclusive evidence. By the same token, websites authored by climatologists that argue repeatedly against climate-change denialists would be admissions that climate change is in fact fraudulent; while websites authored by atheists who repeatedly take issue with religious nutcases would be admissions of the underlying truth of religion.
    The evidence would be indisputable. We are fortunate that no such websites exist.

  70. #70 herr doktor bimler
    May 27, 2011

    I hate Scienceblog’s commenting system.

  71. #71 prn
    May 27, 2011

    Krebiozen@57 elderly diabetic patient with failing kidneys, congestive cardiac failure, malnutrition from not eating properly for weeks before admission and a fractured hip. Her doctor really does need to give her a cocktail of drugs or she will die, so the possibility of an adverse drug reaction is very real.

    I’ve seen our “regular medical” system fail repeatedly on separate parts of this description, where apparently the dietetic, nursing and medical staffs always had the wrong magic cocktail for weeks fading into months, and then intense nutrition succeeded. Sometimes overnight on some step changes, along with dumping half the meds listed and reducing others.

    JayK@58 Nutritional medicine is the correct answer, right? Blame the patient for not eating right.

    Getting rid of the insitutional fare (hospital RD, nursing home) junk diet (high sugar, starch, PUFA; low on colored vegetable content with overcooked food) should not be underestimated.

    However, at the point above, nutritional medicine might more resemble a compounding pharmacy on medical quantities of purified nutrient components based on published literature (AJCN, JAMA, NEJM and their international counterparts) to overcome multiple levels of issues (digestion, depletion, organ issues, increased nutrient demands) at death’s doorstep.

    Blame the victim? Already SOP. They pay “the ultimate price” too. But the food and medical industries were likely lifetime contributors, also.

  72. #72 Krebiozen
    May 27, 2011

    the dietetic, nursing and medical staffs always had the wrong magic cocktail for weeks fading into months, and then intense nutrition succeeded

    Intense nutrition that can cure kidney failure, CCF and a hip fracture without drugs? I would love to see documentation of that! This sounds like another case of real medicine doing the job and CAM taking the credit.

    Getting rid of the insitutional fare… should not be underestimated.

    I think you overestimate what nutrition can achieve. Good nutrition is necessary, but I’m not convinced it is sufficient.

  73. #73 Denice Walter
    May 27, 2011

    prn’s comments appear so familiar to me: I wonder why that is? He seems to advocate that faulty nutrition is responsible for mankind’s ills and that compensatorily improved nutrition will cure them. He is not entirely enamoured with standard dietetics, SBM, pharmaceuticals, or governmental regulation. I believe that I have run into that set of ideas *somewhere* previously but I can’t quite put my finger upon it. I don’t seem to remember that I encountered this theory at any of the elitist institutions I attended. I venture that he reads other websites in addition to RI. I wonder which?

  74. #74 prn
    May 27, 2011

    I said on separate parts of that whole list, “regular” had failed and been corrected. One example part, below…

    another case of real medicine doing the job and CAM taking the credit.
    When something is broken for weeks and months, written off, and then finally corrected with supplements in under 24 hours, AND then, further progress is made by removal of the “regular” drug, that isn’t a viable conclusion.

    In the instance, persistent nausea and vomiting after start of polypharmacy, Reglan added for nausea. Still nausea and persistent lack of appetite across weeks. Added betaine HCl+pepsin, pancreatic enzymes, glutamine and B3 at supper, next day eating with great appetite, cleaning plate vs previously untouched. No nausea problems ever after. Then, when the Reglan was removed, 2/3 of pronounced Parkinsonian shaking, almost like a movie caricature, disappeared. No magic really, simply restarting the initial digestive processes and perhaps allowing some mucousal repair. Later, I prompted a H. Pylori breath test out of the doctor, and it was positive. But the digestive supplements are still useful after HP treatment.
    ————————-
    I think you overestimate what nutrition can achieve
    I think many here haven’t the slighest idea what therapeutic nutrition can achieve. They’re playing with bows and arrows, cutting their fingers, while laughing at the idiots collecting niter and cotton in strange vessels…

    My position is that the ND are not nearly as advanced as I desire, but they appear well ahead of MD and RD that I interview on specific medical-nutrition situations. The post 1930s MDs have great capability to do better, but they aren’t even in the running. Mostly, they’re asleep at the wheel, or flat headed in the wrong direction.

    As for ND credulity on homeopathy, I don’t bug MDs over cognitive dissonance and their religious beliefs either. Perhaps homeopathy is a softer way of streeting clients when they have no further prescription other than time, and removing dietary excesses. The homeopathic solutions put a safe, physical something in idle, impatient hands.

    Simple denial of antibiotics for the viral sore throat seems a common situation that NDs prescribing homeopathics might have a therapeutic advantage, if it stops bootleg pharmacy. I do have a different opinion myself, so pls don’t even start.

  75. #75 Chris
    May 27, 2011

    herr doktor bimler:

    I hate Scienceblog’s commenting system.

    At least it has a preview button.

  76. #76 davep
    May 27, 2011

    Francine Davies@44 “My experiences gave me the opportunity for oservation, pure and simple. You can have all the drugs you want – I really don’t care.”

    You don’t make any sense. You provided “statistics”, which can’t possibly be true, for some reason. And instead of providing references that might indicate that they were not just made-up, you resort to making this sort of comment?

  77. #77 Prometheus
    May 27, 2011

    For the first time, “prn” has said something I can agree with:

    “Getting rid of the insitutional fare (hospital, nursing home)…should not be underestimated.”

    When I was in the Army, the cooks used to say “Food will win the war.” Our response was, “But how will we get the enemy to eat it?”

    Other than that bit, “prn” was pure nonsense, as usual. When someone has end-stage renal disease from diabetes, it’s a bit late in the day for “intense nutrition”. To be sure, nutrition is important, but there isn’t anything magical about it – it’s not going to regenerate the lost glomeruli or reverse the microvascular disease.

    No “magic mineral” or “life-giving lipid” or “super supplement” is going to change the end-organ damage. At that point, everything needs to be optimised, including nutrition (which is often simple starvation in these cases) in order to just barely hang on to life (see: “Red Queen”).

    What is needed is a time machine to go back to when this patient was in their teens and show them a short video of how their life was going to end if they didn’t watch their weight and get proper exercise (if they had type 1 diabetes, even that wouldn’t prevent the diabetes) and get (and follow) real medical care. By the time they are in the ICU gasping from congestive heart failure and on dialysis, most of the good treatment options have been eliminated.

    The “diet and lifestyle” groupies are being overly simplistic here – although a balanced, adequate diet and proper exercise can often prevent (some) chronic diseases, that doesn’t mean that diet and exercise can necessarily cure them once they develop.

    Vascular heart disease (mild to moderate) and type 2 diabetes can often be significantly improved by diet and exercise, which I think has led a lot of people to think “If it can ‘cure’ heart disease and diabetes [note: it can't cure them - it merely improves them, and only certain types], it can cure cancer! It can stop aging!”

    Ah! The delights of magical thinking! If only life were that simple.

    Prometheus

  78. #78 Kichae
    May 27, 2011

    Wait, wait, wait. Someone doesn’t like something, therefore that thing is absolutely true?

    There are Republicans who detest public health care. I guess that’s their admittance that it’s the best option.

    There are capitalists who loathe communism. This must mean that communism is king.

    There are communists who loathe capitalism. This must mean… wait…

    Oh, and I assure you, Woo is me, that there are plenty of astronomers belittling astrology. That you haven’t noticed it says more about you than about astronomers and the state of astrology.

  79. #79 Beamup
    May 27, 2011

    When I was in college, the school paper accidentally captioned a photo as “Dr. So-and-so of the Department of Physics and Astrology.” Anybody who thinks astronomers don’t belittle astrology should see what results when something like THAT happens!

  80. #80 prn
    May 27, 2011

    PnDarkness@77
    I know it’s important for pseudoskeptics to treat all therapeutic nutritional claims with a scoff and raucous laughter before anyone else’s analytical circuits engage.

    However, CHF reversals by advanced nutrition are already old news from the 1990s, including some people literally able to get up and walk away from the heart transplant list. I’m not saying everyone, but a substantial percentage probably can.

    Allard ML, Jeejeebhoy KN, Sole MJ. The management of conditioned nutritional requirements in heart failure. Heart Fail Rev. 2006 Mar;11(1):75-82. PMID 16819580
    Nutritional factors known to be important for myocardial energy production, calcium homeostasis and the reduction of oxidative stress, such as thiamine, riboflavin, pyridoxine, L-carnitine, coenzyme Q10, creatine and taurine are reduced in this patient population. Furthermore, deficiencies of taurine, carnitine, and thiamine are established primary causes of dilated cardiomyopathy. Studies in animals and limited trials in humans have shown that dietary replacement of some of these compounds in heart failure can significantly restore depleted levels and may result in improvement in myocardial structure and function as well as exercise capacity

    see also PMID 15591005, 12075268, 18359616

    No doubt there are some “heartless” skeptics Darwin’s followers will be happy to have a word with, or even a prize for, before regular medicine accepts this.

    Dietary regimens and supplements for some terminal kidney diseases are old hat too. Many still do not get curative dietary treatments available since the 30s-40s, much less newer versions.

  81. #81 prn
    May 27, 2011

    PnD@77 Sorry, waiting on the owner. “Your comment has been received and held for approval by the blog owner.” Several minutes ago.

  82. #82 The Analyst
    May 27, 2011

    Cyanide is a naturally occuring substance, but because it is “natural” does not mean I intend on prescibing it to my patients. It seems that naturopathy has taken advantage of the desperation that some patients feel when looking for treatments. We must continue to emphasize the fact that “natural” does not decessarily mean that it’s good for you.

    I agree.

    When I say I need a script for B12 to be taken daily, I am not talking about cyanocobalamin. Taking that daily is toxic (idiots).

    Can non-CAM practitioners please learn how to use a compounding pharmacy and prescribe methylcobalamin or hydroxocobalamin? It’s annoying.

    Quacks.

  83. #83 Adrian W., BASc Computer Engineering
    May 27, 2011

    *sigh*

    I think I’m going to have to start a blog called “Engineers Say the Dumbest Things”. Perhaps in the style of the “Overheard” blogs.

  84. #84 prn
    May 27, 2011

    @77 Hard to have a conversation when example with 4 PMID are still stuck in the censorware.

  85. #85 palindrom
    May 27, 2011

    @67 – “You don’t see blogs written by astronomers writing thousands of words a day disparaging astrology.”

    I can speak to this as an astronomer. Astronomy is important to our world-view and it’s just about the coolest going, but people’s lives are not at stake. There are also far fewer astronomers than there are medical people, and there’s not nearly as much money involved. There isn’t a big cadre of true-believing celebrities pushing astrology. And so on.

    Even Huffington Post, that wretched hive of scum and quackery, doesn’t seem to be publishing articles that take astrology seriously despite their ludicrously low standards. And when they do publish an article about space or whatever, there isn’t a whole platoon of trolls who jump on it and proclaim it nonsense because stuff in Libra could never behave like that, or whatever.

    So, it’s basically not necessary for astronomers to publish thousands of words a day debunking astrology. But Orac, he has his work cut out for him. The woo and nonsense just keeps on a-comin’.

  86. #86 Chris
    May 27, 2011

    Adrian W., BASc Computer Engineering, you can start your “Engineers Say the Dumbest Things” blog with Harold Camping. He was a civil engineer.

  87. #87 Alan
    May 27, 2011

    Homeopathy: The theory that water remebers medicine and forgets sewerage.

  88. #88 Woo is me
    May 28, 2011

    “So, it’s basically not necessary for astronomers to publish thousands of words a day debunking astrology. But Orac, he has his work cut out for him. The woo and nonsense just keeps on a-comin’.”

    Thanks, that was my point. The reason “it’s basically not necessary for astronomers to publish thousands of words a day debunking astrology” is because its fairly clear to most reasonable people that its of little utility. If naturopathy requires orders of magnitude more debunking than astrology, that only gives one reason to think that it isn’t at all clear that its of little utility.

    If naturopathy was the utter failure this blogger maintains, it would barely be a footnote in history, long since abandoned by patients tired of being taken advantage of by hucksters and left to the very fringes, as have witchcraft, voodoo, exorcism and other useless practices. But it seems its growing not shrinking and at quite a rapid rate, at least according to this blogger, which contradicts the view that its ineffectual by definition.

  89. #89 Krebiozen
    May 28, 2011

    @Woo is me
    You may not be aware of the history of bloodletting, which I think is very enlightening and has several similarities to what is happening currently with CAM.

    Bloodletting was in common use for 3000 years, and was very popular, so popular it was used by healthy people to prevent illness. In 1799 George Washington was taken ill, and his doctors drained more than half his blood from his body in less than a day. Not surprisingly, from a modern perspective, he died.

    It was around this time that some doctors started to question whether bloodletting was as useful as was commonly believed. A very highly regarded American doctor, Benjamin Rush (the AMA erected a statue of him in Washington DC and a medical school is named after him) was a great champion of bloodletting and thought he had discovered the ‘one true cause of all diseases': “The proximate cause of disease is irregular convulsive … action in the [vascular] system affected”. The cure, of course, was bloodletting. Rush was involved in a long libel case when an English journalist suggested that the bloodletting he practiced was doing more harm than good. Rush eventually won the case, supported by other doctors.

    It was not until a decade later that controlled clinical trials demonstrated that blood letting did indeed do more harm than good. Alexander Hamilton, a Scottish military surgeon, found that sick soldiers who were subjected to bloodletting were ten times more likely to die than those who were not. A French doctor, Pierre Louis, conducted a similar experiment with pneumonia patients, with similar results. Blood letting is now only used in a very few conditions involving iron overload, such as thalassemia.

    My point is that popularity is not a good measure of effectiveness; an actively damaging practice, bloodletting, was hugely popular for thousands of years. Both doctors and lay people believed it was effective for every possible illness. If humans are capable of such self-deception over bloodletting, we are certainly capable of deceiving ourselves about treatments that do no good, but do no real harm either, like homeopathy, acupuncture, coffee enemas and other treatments favored by naturopaths.

    The only reliable tool we have to figure out what works and what does not is science. Many of the treatments used by naturopaths have been studied scientifically, and they are not effective. Scientific medicine has only been in widespread use for less than a century, and a number of treatments have been abandoned after being shown to be useless. Naturopathy seems to be a repository for these outmoded treatments. I’m surprised they don’t use bloodletting.

    P.S. I just discovered that naturopaths do still use bloodletting, “done properly, it is still one of the best things, you can do, when the blood pressure is too high or if there are too many toxins in the blood”.

  90. #90 LW
    May 28, 2011

    “it’s basically not necessary for astronomers to publish thousands of words a day debunking astrology”

    One reason it’s not necessary is that there are only so many ways you can say, “stars and planets are not lights in the sky put there as a giant roadmap of your life; they’ve been out there for billions of years, and the stars are so far away that the difference in distance between where they were when I was born and where they were when you were born is undetectable on an astronomical scale”. Once you’ve said that, there’s not much more to say. Quack medicine is endlessly inventive, on the other hand, so there’s always something new and horrible to write about.

  91. #91 lilady
    May 28, 2011

    @ Krebiozen: Actually the naturopathy article you linked does touch upon a procedure that is well established in the medical field for treatment of Polycythemia Vera. See Naturopaths always use some sciency terms to impress their marks, this link showed how truly off the rails they are when they do blood letting for “too many toxins in the blood.”

    People who have Polycythemia Vera have a de novo mutation of the JAK 2 gene. When I was undergoing pheresis regularly for platelet donations at the blood bank, I met people there who were undergoing treatment for this blood disorder. They came weekly for a blood draws of a pint…until their hematocrit dropped to within a normal or high normal range.

    People who have this disorder do not have “too many toxins in their blood”…in fact they have NO toxins in their blood. They are at risk however for cardiac events, pulmonary embolisms, deep vein thrombi, strokes and major organ failures due to the clumping of their excess red blood cells.

    I think if I had this disorder, I would opt for treatment ordered by a hematologist for blood draws at a blood bank, not at the local voodoo doctor.

  92. #92 TBruce
    May 28, 2011

    I just discovered that naturopaths do still use bloodletting, “done properly, it is still one of the best things, you can do, when the blood pressure is too high or if there are too many toxins in the blood”.

    Anyone with a basic knowledge of physiology would know how ridiculous this is.
    Of course, these are the “professionals” who embrace homeopathy.

    The disdain for naturopathy is earned.

  93. #93 Scottynuke
    May 28, 2011

    @ 67 — “You don’t see blogs written by astronomers writing thousands of words a day disparaging astrology.”

    Phil…

    Phil something, last name starts with a P…

    Wrote a book or something…

    Oh yeah! — http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/tag/astrology/

    :-)

  94. #94 The Analyst
    May 28, 2011

    an actively damaging practice, bloodletting, was hugely popular for thousands of years.

    So blood bloodletting isn’t used anymore? What do they do for people with diseases such as haemochromatosis or PCT?

    Black and white. No shades of grey.

  95. #95 Dangerous Bacon
    May 28, 2011

    “The blog author’s strident, high-pitched tone only reinforces to the reader that there must be something effective about naturopathy, since if it was as useless as he maintains, there would be no need to constantly point out its ineffectiveness.”

    Odd – the tone I imagine coming from Orac is a deep basso profundo rumbling interspersed with occasional random electronic blips and beeps. Perhaps you need to adjust your browser settings.

    I must now go imbibe some of my 5000 daily calories while avoiding all exercise. I’m sure it’s a viable lifestyle, because if it isn’t, why are people constantly advising against it?

  96. #96 The Analyst
    May 28, 2011

    Apologies. I skipped a line while skimming the post I responding to.

  97. #97 Mick Markova
    May 28, 2011

    You want woo? Look at the evidence (scientifically please) on the failed medical (once upon a time a monopoly) system in the U.S. and it’s pathetic outcomes. US now ranks last compared to the world in on measures of health system performance in five areas: quality, efficiency, access to care, equity and the ability to lead long, healthy, productive lives, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report. While there is room for improvement in every country, the U.S. stands out for not getting good value for its health care dollars, ranking last despite spending $7,290 per capita on health care in 2007 compared to the $3,837 spent per capita in the Netherlands, which ranked first overall.

    Read more: http://www.disabled-world.com/medical/healthcare/us-medicare/health-ranking.php#ixzz1NfIE78st

    So there’s where your supposedly non-woo science is getting us. But if you set aside your prejudice against what you don’t and won’t understand, and apply a real scientific methodology to the view you are promoting here, it becomes evident quickly that woo is everywhere, quackery is the practice of conventional medicine, and this is the NUMBER ONE REASON WHY PEOPLE SEEK AN ALTERNATIVE. SO instead blaming naturopathy or homeopathy, look at yourselves. You are harming people now, not just with your lousy science (paid for by drug companies whose profit motive is a significant driver for what gets accepted and used conventionally) but with the supposedly anti-woo views you are promoting here. You ought to be ashamed, but I’m sure you’ll attack, as usual, anyone who dares call you out here for your propaganda and lies.

  98. #98 The Analyst
    May 28, 2011

    The blog author’s strident, high-pitched tone only reinforces to the reader that there must be something effective about naturopathy, since if it was as useless as he maintains, there would be no need to constantly point out its ineffectiveness.

    If anything, the anti-naturopathy rants here make me love naturopathy more and more each post. I’ve had great help from specific supplements in the present and past. If you don’t believe ant of it is useful, fine. Hold on to those beliefs for as long as you choose. But I do worry about people here because many if not most or for stripping more rights and freedom of choice in healthcare. If people want to heal their cancer by balancing their Chakras, through acupuncture, or whatever else, let them! It’s their choice, not yours.

    I like reading blogs like this one because I like to read twisted logic and see how twisted people respond to twisted logic so I won’t be one of them.

    Before coming here, I never really thought about vaccines, but now I am honestly growing more skeptical about them.

    Sure there is no proof they cause or trigger diseases such as Autism. But I realize there is no proof they don’t do harm. All the posts I have seen showing evidence (or did the OP call it proof?) that they don’t cause, contribute to, or trigger autism was of poor quality. but at the same time, while there is poor scientific evidence on both sides, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence from mothers and so-on that they could be associated with diseases such as Autism. So given the evidence that is currently available, I will sit back, remain skeptical, and not make assumptions like some of the so-called skeptics on this blog.

    I used to occassionally watch Bill O’Reilly on Fox News. It taught me how NOT to think. I am not affiliated with a political party, but that guy is a ranting loon (if it’s not all an act).

    Them: “What are you watching that for? Do you believe that crap.”

    Me: “Nope, just having a lesson on how not to think.”

  99. #99 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    May 28, 2011

    @The Analyst

    If people want to heal their cancer by balancing their Chakras, through acupuncture, or whatever else, let them!

    If they actually were healing their cancers in these ways, I can’t imagine anyone having a legitimate issue with this. What is the evidence that these treatments actually heal their cancers?
    If there’s no such evidence, then what would be the term for someone who believes these treatments work? What would be the term for someone who tries to convince others that these treatments work despite all evidence?

  100. #100 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    May 28, 2011

    @The Analyst

    But I realize there is no proof they don’t do harm.

    Au contraire. Vaccines have known side effects; these can be serious in some percentage of the population. As part of a public health policy, it’s important to account for both the known benefits and the known harms.
    Of course, these known harms do not at present include autism.

  101. #101 TBruce
    May 28, 2011

    the U.S. stands out for not getting good value for its health care dollars, ranking last despite spending $7,290 per capita on health care in 2007 compared to the $3,837 spent per capita in the Netherlands, which ranked first overall.

    And as we all know, the Netherlands is famous for relying on alternative medicine for their health care, right?

  102. #102 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    May 28, 2011

    @Mick Markova – I note that the countries above the US in the article you reference are Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Are you suggesting that their comparatively better results (assuming the article is correct and we have a common agreement on the term “better”) are because they embrace naturopathy instead of “conventional medicine”? Do you have evidence of same?
    And when was the US medical system ever a monopoly? Do you have evidence for this?

  103. #103 TBruce
    May 28, 2011

    @troll #98:

    Troll, I serve with Analysts, I know Analysts, Analysts are friends of mine.

    Troll, you’re no Analyst.

  104. #104 Chris
    May 28, 2011

    Mephistopheles O’Brien:

    And when was the US medical system ever a monopoly? Do you have evidence for this?

    Especially compared to the national health services that exist in Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

  105. #105 lilady
    May 28, 2011

    @ Mick Markova: Did you actual read the article that you linked to? It said nothing about alternative care; in fact the conclusions drawn by the article were the facts that the United States has no National Health Care Insurance as do the other countries mentioned in the article. The article also mentioned the new health care legislation passed during the Obama administration that has a a real chance to improve access to primary preventive care for millions of people who are under-insured and for the 32 million who are not insured.

    Be a good citizen and vote your conscience to elect and re-elect legislators and a President that will extend the provisions of the Health Care Legislation to provide complete primary preventive care for these millions of people.

  106. #106 Kichae
    May 28, 2011

    Woo is me @88:

    Thanks, that was my point. The reason “it’s basically not necessary for astronomers to publish thousands of words a day debunking astrology” is because its fairly clear to most reasonable people that its of little utility.

    I can assure you as a public educator in astronomy – I operate a planetarium and come face to face with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people per day – that your characterization here is so off the mark as to be laughable. There are a huge number of people, the vast majority of whom consider themselves to be “reasonable”, who fall for the ridiculous pool of lies that is astrology, and we’re not just talking about some random moron on the street. You undoubtedly have gone to doctors, listened to musicians, voted for politicians, worked for bosses, been to lunch, and have friends and relatives who buy into such bunkum.

    The difference is that, 9 times out of 10, listening to your horoscope, or calling a 900 number, or having your birth chart done up does no more harm than costing you a few minutes or a few dollars. Going to a natropath to be prescribed some Earl Grey for your metastasising cancer, on the other hand, has much wider reaching consequences.

    If naturopathy requires orders of magnitude more debunking than astrology, that only gives one reason to think that it isn’t at all clear that its of little utility.

    Close, but not quite. Just because something is not particularly clear to Joe Public doesn’t mean it isn’t clear to studied professionals. It just means that your average sucker on the street doesn’t have all of the information necessary to make an informed choice on the issue. Indeed, natro- and homeopaths go to great lengths to make sure the public is misinformed about their products and practices, and the general arrogant attitude that has long permeated much of science – that scientists don’t need to concern themselves with such quacks because it’s plainly obvious that those people are quacks and that the scientists are obviously the real deal – has allowed people selling smiles and tea to get a huge step up in the PR war, and has allowed them to largely monopolize the easily available “information” that people have access to.

    Your claims that “the doctor doth protest too much” are based upon what? If you saw something that you knew to be insidious moving into your neighbourhood, how would you act to stop it from setting down roots? By biting your tongue, sticking your head in the sand and your thumb up your ass?

    Give that a try, and then tell us how well it works.

    If naturopathy was the utter failure this blogger maintains, it would barely be a footnote in history, long since abandoned by patients tired of being taken advantage of by hucksters and left to the very fringes, as have witchcraft, voodoo, exorcism and other useless practices. But it seems its growing not shrinking and at quite a rapid rate, at least according to this blogger, which contradicts the view that its ineffectual by definition.

    So, your claim, then, is that people won’t buy something that’s junk, and the fact that people are buying it means that it isn’t junk?

    Explain Twilight.

  107. #107 LW
    May 28, 2011

    “If people want to heal their cancer by balancing their Chakras, through acupuncture, or whatever else, let them! It’s their choice, not yours.”

    Of course it’s their choice, and I don’t think many people here would try to stop them (I won’t pretend to speak for everyone). But those who choose those alternatives should be able to choose knowledgeably. They should not be forced to choose on the basis of ignorance and lies. This blog and others try to get the word out about what really works and what really doesn’t. But in the end, an adult makes his or her own choices and should be allowed to do so, though those of us who care about a patient may try hard to change the choice.

  108. #108 lilady
    May 28, 2011

    @ Kichae: It sounds like you have a fascinating job.

    I suspect I might be unique amongst posters here…I actually spent a (forgettable) night in Kalispell Montana…on our way to visit Glacier National Park. It is a dinky rustic place situated in the midst of some beautiful wilderness. Who knew that their (ahem) “Medical Center” would be in the forefront of CAM?

    Your comment about astrology brought to mind the change/addition of another astrological sign (Ophiuchus) covering November 29-December 17th. I am no longer a Leo and have planned my entire life around my Leo chart..heh, heh.

  109. #109 Dangerous Bacon
    May 28, 2011

    Says The Analyst: “If anything, the anti-naturopathy rants here make me love naturopathy more and more each post…Before coming here, I never really thought about vaccines, but now I am honestly growing more skeptical about them.”

    Rather than lumping these sorts of comments into the concern troll/tone troll category, I propose a new term: the Stinky Gambit (in honor of Stinky, the Abbott & Costello Show character played by Joe Besser (wearing a velvet Little Lord Fauntleroy suit with shorts) who used to exclaim “Ooo, you make me so mad!”

    Those who employ the Stinky Gambit want you to believe that they decide what beliefs to hold based on how much they are irritated by one side’s arguments. It’s not that they lack critical thinking skills, it’s that facts and common sense are irrelevant when they are annoyed by others’ convictions.

    The Stinky Gambit is of course nonsense, as it is used only as a lame device intended to discourage opponents from speaking their minds.

  110. #110 Kichae
    May 28, 2011

    lilady: Ahh yes, poor old ignored Ophiuchus. The snake bearer illustrates the point quite nicely: Parke Kunkle actually received death threats for successfully informing the public that Ophiuchus existed and that it was a member of the zodiac, and that astrologers have been BSing people for centuries about their star signs.

    Death threats!

    But nobody takes astrology seriously. No sir-ee Bob.

  111. #111 The Analyst
    May 28, 2011

    Those who employ the Stinky Gambit want you to believe that they decide what beliefs to hold based on how much they are irritated by one side’s arguments. It’s not that they lack critical thinking skills, it’s that facts and common sense are irrelevant when they are annoyed by others’ convictions.

    The rants here are more nonsensical and rediculous than annoying. I’ll admit though, the name-calling makes me chuckle.

  112. #112 Krebiozen
    May 28, 2011

    @The Analyst
    I think you noticed I had addressed your point that made you write:

    Black and white. No shades of grey.

    Did you actually understand the point I was making? It certainly doesn’t seem so.

    I like reading blogs like this one because I like to read twisted logic and see how twisted people respond to twisted logic so I won’t be one of them.

    Got an example of twisted logic (not from one of the resident trolls, obviously) from this blog? Just one?

  113. #113 Woo is me
    May 28, 2011

    “The rants here are more nonsensical and rediculous than annoying. I’ll admit though, the name-calling makes me chuckle.”

    Indeed. The twisted logic required to further an agenda with dubious support is interesting to watch. Apparently, in addition to woo becoming an all powerful force destined to kill everyone on the planet that can only be stopped through incessant blogging, we now also have to worry about astrology, as it appears that its also taken hold of the population, and patients (suckers in the eyes of the typical medical professional) are consulting astrologers for diagnosis. This is news to me but I like to keep an open mind on these topics. I hadn’t noticed the stealthy creep of this insidious mindset into the population at large creating death and destruction but I am not a doctor. I had always thought of astrology as a rather cute but tame pastime, like daydreaming, so you’ll understand my shock that’s its become so dangerous that its also worthy now of incessant blogging. Its a wonder horoscopes are even allowed in family newspapers with this kind of thing going on.

    Unfortunately for doctors, the patient is in the drivers seat, as much as that might pinch their ego, and will tend to flock to physicians that can help them the most to achieve health. It seems that many commenters here think that the average patient is too stupid to know when they are well or sick, or if a physician is helping or hurting. I can only think that if you think of patients as ignorant suckers, then that goes a long way in explaining why medicine these days is about maintaining illness and not curing anything.

  114. #114 Woo is me
    May 28, 2011

    “The rants here are more nonsensical and rediculous than annoying. I’ll admit though, the name-calling makes me chuckle.”

    Indeed. The twisted logic required to further an agenda with dubious support is interesting to watch. Apparently, in addition to woo becoming an all powerful force destined to kill everyone on the planet that can only be stopped through incessant blogging, we now also have to worry about astrology, as it appears that its also taken hold of the population, and patients (suckers in the eyes of the typical medical professional) are consulting astrologers for diagnosis. This is news to me but I like to keep an open mind on these topics. I hadn’t noticed the stealthy creep of this insidious mindset into the population at large creating death and destruction but I am not a doctor. I had always thought of astrology as a rather cute but tame pastime, like daydreaming, so you’ll understand my shock that’s its become so dangerous that its also worthy now of incessant blogging. Its a wonder horoscopes are even allowed in family newspapers with this kind of thing going on.

    Unfortunately for doctors, the patient is in the drivers seat, as much as that might pinch their ego. It seems that many commenters here think that the average patient is too stupid to know when they are well or sick. I can only think that if you think of patients as ignorant suckers, then that is what you will undoubtedly see.

  115. #115 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    May 28, 2011

    @The Analyst – no comments on my response to your rant above (99 & 100)?

  116. #116 Kichae
    May 28, 2011

    Woo is me @113:

    I can only think that if you think of patients as ignorant suckers, then that is what you will undoubtedly see.

    You’re completely blind to your irony or hypocrisy, I take it.

  117. #117 Mick Markova
    May 28, 2011

    @lilady, yes, I read the article I linked to, and sorry, I assume at least a few people here capable of something more than robotic and defensive thought, like recognizing an indictment of the medical system that this blog thinks it defends by elevating conventional med above naturopathy, as if it is superior to naturopathy, more scientific than naturopathy, more anything than naturopathy. Yet the proof is in the pudding. I’m not seeing health outcomes that justify a sense of superiority here. On the contrary. increasingly, Americans are sick and tired of treatments that make them sick and tired. They seek out alternatives to what isn’t working, a more gentle approach that works with their systems instead of operates on it or works against it. Naturopathy is an alternative to what isn’t working, rather than an alternative to what works (the inherent and false assumption behind this blog)

  118. #118 Mick Markova
    May 28, 2011

    While I’m at it, I’ll point out another inherent assumption that is patently false, though typical of the times we live in. The title of this post is that ‘naturopathy invades the heartland.’ But there is no invasion, no army or horde of naturopaths suddenly appearing in the heartland. Instead it is the children, parents, neighbors and friends of people living in the heartland who have chosen to learn naturopathy and bring it back to their loved ones. The invasion is into the closed wall system of conventional medicine, and the resentment this blogger carries is because, I’m guessing here, it forces the blogger to face a future where the monopolistic practice of medicine, with its determination to keep the whole thing to itself in the name of science, is disappearing. People are waking up to the malpractice being foisted on them by these high priests of so-called science, with their arrogance and narrow minded medical bigotry determining their entire view of what’s going on. But ask the people in the heartland if they feel invaded or relieved, and I suspect you’ll find far more of the latter than the former.

  119. #119 Jarred C
    May 28, 2011

    But there is no invasion, no army or horde of naturopaths suddenly appearing in the heartland.

    The other day, I felt I had an invasion of privacy, but I guess I was wrong because there was no army or horde in sight.

  120. #120 Kichae
    May 28, 2011

    They seek out alternatives to what isn’t working, a more gentle approach that works with their systems instead of operates on it or works against it. Naturopathy is an alternative to what isn’t working, rather than an alternative to what works (the inherent and false assumption behind this blog)

    It’s true, something is broken with the medical system that has caused people to look for alternatives, it’s just not the science.

    And just because people who are looking for an alternative have turned to naturopathy, that doesn’t in any way mean that naturopathy actually works, any more than people rising up against feudal lords to institute communism means that communism works.

  121. #121 prn
    May 28, 2011

    Mick Markova@117, re ORAC’s “horror”
    Just remember the greatest percentage “invasion” is at the initial transition, going from zero to the first one in some area, or small burg.

    Instead it is the children, parents, neighbors and friends of people living in the heartland who have chosen to learn naturopathy and bring it back to their loved ones. The invasion is into the closed wall system of conventional medicine,
    I think this is useful point. Although I squirm at the “grab bag” of parts and reject many of them, naturopathy makes more sense as an evolved utilitarian model that requires less time and educational achievement to use effectively by laymen that might have fewer IQ points and 5-10 years less education.

    However, I will agree with ORAC that naturopathy needs to recouncile its modalities more with modern science. Not completely and immediately, just more. On a friendly, thoughtful basis. Not with the constant verbal, legal and economic assaults, some based on ignorant, hypocritical “scientific” nitpicking in the face of consistent progress, such as I have witnessed with advanced nutrition, with technical papers at hand.

  122. #122 Kichae
    May 29, 2011

    prn:

    However, I will agree with ORAC that naturopathy needs to recouncile its modalities more with modern science. Not completely and immediately, just more. On a friendly, thoughtful basis. Not with the constant verbal, legal and economic assaults, some based on ignorant, hypocritical “scientific” nitpicking in the face of consistent progress, such as I have witnessed with advanced nutrition, with technical papers at hand.

    Wait, what? Naturopathy needs to be more sciency without what? Being scientific? How sciency is too sciency? Would you say that you’re aiming for sciencish? Sciencesque?

    What’s too far? Tests and trials that actually show it to be nothing more than happy thoughts and wishes?

    You’re either looking to test the accuracy, truthfulness, or efficacy of the methods of naturopathy in an honest, transparent, testable, and repeatable fashion, or you’re not. This is one of those in for a penny, in for a pound sort of things. If “trials have shown that it doesn’t work” is “nitpicking”, you’re paddling up the wrong stream.

  123. #123 lilady
    May 29, 2011

    @ Mick Markova: Oh, I could tell you stories about doctors and nurses that would make your hair stand on end. Just because they are licensed does not make them great physicians or nurses. I suppose we all could share some anecdotal tales. But, overall I think the health care provided in the United States is superb. Posters here for the most part are either educated in the professions or have science backgrounds or a self-educated in the science of medicine. We can spot junk science, based on our backgrounds and because it plainly has the stench of crap “medicine.” After all, we are our own health advocates and advocates for our family members as well.

    You provided an article about the inefficiency of the American Health System, versus the national health care system in other countries. I agree with that article, but so many Americans are fearful of government interference…with the alarming rhetoric of Death Panels and the rise of Libertarianism. Palin, etal., know diddly squat about medicine. In the end it is patient’s self education (self determination, if you will) in concert with their personal physician’s advice and treatment that has an effect on outcomes.

    There are no alternatives, no varying viewpoints when it comes to science based medicine. There are no magic potions, supplements or compounds that “boost your immune system”, no power bracelets or amulets to “provide energy”. Removing toxins or detoxifying your body with chelation, various nostrums or treatments is voodoo medicine. “Adjustments” of the spine, Reiki and acupuncture have no effect on any body system. If I want to have warm and fuzzy cosseting, I have my family and friends to do that. When I go to my family physician or a specialist, I don’t expect nor do I desire idle chatter; after all the purpose of the consultation is to maintain my good health status…not for idle chit chat.

    Orac, whose “real jobs” are cancer surgeon and cancer researcher, uses his limited personal time to post blogs that are interesting and educational for most of the “regulars” here. Orac even allows some very boring, nasty trolls to post. If you view an article that you think is strident…or silly…or not to your liking, feel free to not post. The regulars here and new posters seem to enjoy the articles and the rich variety of subjects that our esteemed host provides.

  124. #124 prn
    May 29, 2011

    Kichae@121:
    I am being a realist and simply recognizing operational simplicity. If an operational model yields a better result than models of equal or more complexity, where the models often exceed the intellectual work capacity of the users, simplicity has to be considered as a factor. Even if I prefer a much different, more technically correct model.

    Real researchers will use laughably simple models in their day-to-day work, effectivly, even in discoveries and corporate life-and-death decisions. They don’t insist on dragging out the artillery at every turn to get results.

    In many cases, mild naturopathic-type nutritional prescriptions often achieve results following serial medical failures, and at first instance. Both systems need serious improvements.

    As for demanding “users’ scientific purity”? I largely conceeded the natural bias of the social, political economic animal on even the “educated elite” and nominal professionals, decades ago, much less the pristine public. Or especially the ambitious parts of the “educated elite”.

    Tests and trials have long history of being designed, misinterpreted or abused for various, less laudable purposes. A lot of which I have seen less checked in “regular medicine” as well. We’re still a long way from Kansas for some of the commonplace agendas here.

  125. #125 Woo is me
    May 29, 2011

    “And just because people who are looking for an alternative have turned to naturopathy, that doesn’t in any way mean that naturopathy actually works, any more than people rising up against feudal lords to institute communism means that communism works.”

    Interesting point. If the people looking for an alternative have turned to naturopathy and its useless, what does that say about the system of medicine they turned away from? The only thing I can think of is that it is worse than useless, which in medicine usually means dangerous.

  126. #126 Kichae
    May 29, 2011

    prn @123

    I am being a realist and simply recognizing operational simplicity.

    A realist in what way? Because to me, this sounds like you’re admitting that naturopathic practices simply cannot stand up to scrutiny.

    If an operational model yields a better result than models of equal or more complexity, where the models often exceed the intellectual work capacity of the users, simplicity has to be considered as a factor. Even if I prefer a much different, more technically correct model.

    Yes, if something works better and is simpler, it’s a better approach to take. The problem is that you seem to be using a different definition of “better” than others. Please, do define it in the context you’re using it here.

    Real researchers will use laughably simple models in their day-to-day work, effectivly, even in discoveries and corporate life-and-death decisions. They don’t insist on dragging out the artillery at every turn to get results.

    Huh?

    You know, I’ve been here, admittedly mostly silently, long enough to know that this may be a silly request from you, but could you say that in fewer than 1000 words?

    In many cases, mild naturopathic-type nutritional prescriptions often achieve results following serial medical failures, and at first instance. Both systems need serious improvements.

    First, that’s a claim that warrants a citation.

    Second, when does nutrition qualify as naturopathic, and when does it qualify as science based medicine?

    As for demanding “users’ scientific purity”? I largely conceeded the natural bias of the social, political economic animal on even the “educated elite” and nominal professionals, decades ago, much less the pristine public. Or especially the ambitious parts of the “educated elite”.

    That, uh, doesn’t answer my question. Not even a little bit. It was a fairly simple one, too: how sciency is too sciency for nautropathic researchers?

    Tests and trials have long history of being designed, misinterpreted or abused for various, less laudable purposes. A lot of which I have seen less checked in “regular medicine” as well.

    Yes, there are bad trials and bad experiments, and some have undoubtedly been performed on drugs and procedures that have gained interest from medical specialists.

    “But Jimmy did it!!!” isn’t an acceptable response here, though. Are you saying that because there have been bad tests in the past, and there will be bad trials in the future, that naturopathy need not be subjected to good ones? Because if so, all you’re saying is that you don’t actually care whether naturopathy works or not.

    Real nice.

  127. #127 Dangerous Bacon
    May 29, 2011

    Mick said: “…the medical system that this blog thinks it defends by elevating conventional med above naturopathy, as if it is superior to naturopathy, more scientific than naturopathy, more anything than naturopathy.”

    Well, yes. We look at all the excellent lifestyle-changing advice, effective long-term management of chronic diseases and their debilitating symptoms, life-saving surgical interventions, vastly decreased mortality and morbidity from infectious disease and cures for some formerly universally lethal cancers, all of which have contributed to marked increases in human longevity, and think: modern medicine has made great strides and there is promise of far more.

    “If the people looking for an alternative have turned to naturopathy and its useless, what does that say about the system of medicine they turned away from?”

    It says something about improvements that mainstream medicine needs to make, true. It also says a lot about the mindset of people who reject mainstream medicine.

    When I’ve had less than satisfactory interactions with mainstream medical providers, I look for better ones. There are people who have bad experiences who think that justifies embracing the sort of quackery that led to unnecessary morbidity and premature death a century or more ago. I have difficulty understanding that mindset, but at least we can give those people enough good information to make intelligent decisions, while realizing that some will reject it.

    Aside from that, what lilady said.

  128. #128 Mick Markova
    May 29, 2011

    @lilady, you wrote “But, overall I think the health care provided in the United States is superb” which i believe is what the folks behind this blog like to call ‘denialism.’ Superb for whom? In what way? I think we do great crisis care, which is throwing the most expensive solutions at mostly preventable problems. How is that superb? I’m not speaking against our medical professionals, either. Most doctors, regardless of ‘type,’ are driven to serve, to help, to care, and do their level best based on their time, energy and other constraints. I have nothing but respect for our docs and support teams. But I have the same respect for many of the non-medical docs, who also do their level best, who hold themselves accountable for learning to the best of their ability, who use critical thinking and work through their diagnoses. Fact is, there is plenty of woo in healthcare, and it isn’t a specialty of naturopaths. Our system is unaffordable and unsustainable. Our reliance on drugs and surgery is ridiculous. The war we wage on nature, through medicine, industry and such, is at the heart of the problem, and learning our place in nature and working within the constraints of nature’s laws is the challenge and opportunity before us if we want something better for ourselves and our posterity. And no amount of scorn and venom heaped on naturopaths by the arrogant self-centered on this forum will change that. Science is a great thing to champion. The scientific method is our best protection against self delusion. But the conventional medical community needs it as much or more as any small up and coming profession like the naturopaths. Nobody is all right or all wrong all the time, though you’d never know it from reading posts like the one at the top of this page. And facts don’t lie, only liars use facts to lie. If conventional medicine in the US was such a paragon of scientific virtue, then why is it so easy to identify the complicity of conventional med in foisting and promoting such a failed system and attacking those outsiders to their paradigm that are trying to bring about much needed change? Pot meet kettle.

  129. #129 Mick Markova
    May 29, 2011

    @dangerous bacon, the ease with which you throw around the ‘quack’ label speaks volumes about your own bias, nothing more. All medicine has its quackery. How many unnecessary surgeries, prescriptions for antibiotics, the never ending addition of natural life-cycle events to the list of conditions that need to be treated with drugs, c’mon, seriously, pointing to naturopaths and calling out ‘quack’ is the psychological act of projection. A system as guilty as the one you are defending has no ground on which to stand, and your lack of critical thinking on the matter is why you’re able to make the specious claim of ‘ the sort of quackery that led to unnecessary morbidity and premature death a century or more ago.’ What specific quackery led to unnecessary morbidity specifically? And who specifically is practicing or teaching it? (right, I know, you have all the answers…and you don’t need to examine them because of your certainty that you’re right…scientific? Riiiiiight!) The real problem here may be that you’re just stuck in the old paradigm that thinks ‘science’ has disease all figured out already, when in the new paradigm we can see that we barely have scratched the surface of understanding the interplay of events and influences that contribute to human health and healing. Who are the real quacks? Methinks the people calling others that label (from quicksilver), because naturopathic docs don’t have the prescribing of arsenic and mercury in their history, conventional med does. Naturopaths aren’t on a binge getting the whole country hooked on numerous drugs, conventional med and the pharmaceutical companies are taking care of that. Morbidity? Look at the stats. It isn’t naturopathy at the top of the heap getting these outcomes, it’s the conventional system run by MDs and supported by ‘anti-quack’ supremacists trying to block, stop and restrain the development of a healthier medical system.

  130. #130 Kichae
    May 29, 2011

    Mick Markova @128

    If conventional medicine in the US was such a paragon of scientific virtue, then why is it so easy to identify the complicity of conventional med in foisting and promoting such a failed system and attacking those outsiders to their paradigm that are trying to bring about much needed change? Pot meet kettle.

    As far as I’ve seen, no one has said that “conventional medicine in the US [is] a paragon of scientific virtue”. Please point out where they have.

    Also, by and large the failure of the US medical system is political in nature. You’re attempting to argue that because apples don’t produce good grape juice, we should start blending up shit smoothies.

    One of the trending claims around “conventional” medicine is that it doesn’t take lifestyle into account, doesn’t look at diet, or whatever, which is an absurd statement. I get the impression that some people have had the misfortune to walk into a medical clinic and meet a pez dispenser, which does happen from time to time, or a doctor with a bad bedside manner and have decided to project that experience onto the whole medical system and community.

    How interested a doctor is in you as a person may have a big impact on how you feel about that doctor, or about medicine, but he says nothing about one’s internal chemistry or how well some action or substance affects it.

    No, again, the problem is one of politics – both upper- and lower-case P politics.

    Naturopaths may want to be seen as a valid alternative to established medical practices, but so far they’ve attempted to do so by perfecting their bedside manner – by playing better politics than many doctors. There’s an important lesson to be learned there, but that people have a better experience in a naturopath’s office says absolutely nothing about whether the actual health care practices actually work or not.

    Con artists tend to be some of the most personable people you’ll meet. Just because they’ve treated your nicely doesn’t mean they didn’t rip you off. Likewise, a naturopath may make your visit to their office as comfortable as possible, but that doesn’t mean they’ve actually cured your cancer.

    People always prefer being treated as something more than a number or, worse, a nuisance, but people would ultimately prefer to have that and treatment that works. While naturopaths have obviously talked a good talk, they haven’t actually shown that their methods do more than release a few endorphins.

  131. #131 Dangerous Bacon
    May 29, 2011

    Mick said: “@lilady, you wrote “But, overall I think the health care provided in the United States is superb” which i believe is what the folks behind this blog like to call ‘denialism.’ Superb for whom? In what way?”

    An example for you: my elderly father developed back pain and was diagnosed as having metastatic prostate cancer. In the “good old days” his bony mets would have become terribly painful and disabling and he’d likely have died a miserable death from his cancer. With mainstream care his cancer and pain were controlled and he had several more good years, ultimately dying from something other than his cancer. I know of no naturopathic intervention that could have done this for him.

    “…c’mon, seriously, pointing to naturopaths and calling out ‘quack’ is the psychological act of projection.”

    Much of what naturopathy entails is quackery, for example its embrace of homeopathy (taught in major naturopathic schools and practiced commonly by naturopaths, as detailed on multiple occasions here). If you think prescribing “succussed” water for serious medical conditions is anything other than quackery, you need to educate yourself either on the definition of quackery or the nature of homeopathy and other useless and potentially dangerous practices (or both).

    “Methinks the people calling others that label (from quicksilver), because naturopathic docs don’t have the prescribing of arsenic and mercury in their history, conventional med does.”

    Funny that you should mention silver in commenting on toxic metal treatments which vanished long ago from “conventional” medical practice. Colloidal silver is often recommended by naturopaths to treat many ailments, including cancer. Yes, cancer, which naturopaths blame on viral, fungal and bacterial causes and think colloidal silver cures, plus alleging that “properly prepared” colloidal silver has never caused any adverse effects. I suppose those people who’ve developed permanent blue-gray skin discoloration from chronic colloidal silver use just weren’t doing it right.

    An example of colloidal silver quackery from naturopaths.

    As for overuse of antibiotics, unnecessary surgery etc. – these sorts of problems in mainstream medicine have been uncovered via medical research, debated openly and new and better practice parameters have been developed as a result. When have naturopaths and other quacks taken a good hard look at homeopathy, colloidal silver use and other quackery and abandoned it in favor of evidence-based practice? It’s by definition impossible – once overt quackery and various unproven “alternative” practices are given a hard skeptical look and discarded, there’ll be little to nothing left of “alternative medicine” to market to the gullible.

  132. #132 herr doktor bimler
    May 29, 2011

    because naturopathic docs don’t have the prescribing of arsenic and mercury in their history

    … until they adopt ayurvedic practices and prescribe arsenic, mercury and lead.

  133. #133 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    May 29, 2011

    naturopathic docs don’t have the prescribing of arsenic and mercury in their history

    Based on a short search, it appears that the following mercury and arsenic compounds are used in homeopathy. Whether they’re used in naturopathy I can’t say:

    Mercurius corrosivus
    Mercurius dulcis
    Mercurius solubilis hahnemanni
    Mercurius vivus
    Arsenicum album
    Arsenicum iodatum

  134. #134 A. Noyd
    May 29, 2011

    Mick Markova (#128)

    The scientific method is our best protection against self delusion. But the conventional medical community needs it as much or more as any small up and coming profession like the naturopaths.

    Do you know how you tell you’re on the side of real science and not pseudoscience? When you regularly have to change your mind about how the world works. Real medicine lives up to this, albeit with room for improvement. Naturopathy fails completely because not only does it buy into quackery like homeopathy, vital energy and acupuncture, it makes them staples of the practice.

  135. #135 Krebiozen
    May 29, 2011

    @Mick Markova
    I get the impression that you think people here just dismiss naturopathy without any thought or examination of the facts. That is not true. I have been interested in alternative medicine for decades, and first came across naturopathy about ten years ago. I have spent a lot of time looking at their claims, and discussing them with naturopaths on-line. I have a background in clinical biochemistry, and many of the claims that naturopaths were making I knew to be untrue from my direct personal experience.

    The idea that we wage a war on nature, and that we need to work “within the constraints of nature’s laws” sounds admirable, but it doesn’t take a lot of thought to expose it as false. Everything that is possible is within the constraints of nature’s laws, anything that isn’t is supernatural by definition. The truth is that we are at war with nature because nature wants to kill and eat us, and will do so given half a chance.

    The core belief of naturopathy seems to be that if the human body is provided with perfect nutrition, and is purged of toxins, no disease is possible. That simply isn’t true, and there are mountains of scientific evidence to prove this; genetic susceptibility to cancer, cytokine storms killing young and healthy people with influenza, smallpox and measles epidemics decimating Native Americans despite their healthy natural lifestyles…

    What specific naturopathic treatments do you think are superior to modern scientific medical treatments? What is your evidence for this? If you have no evidence, why do you believe this?

    By the way, the term “quack” has nothing to do with doctors prescribing mercury, and in no way is naturopathy “up and coming” as it originated in the 19th century.

  136. #136 Woo is me
    May 29, 2011

    My issue with modern medicine isn’t that doctors don’t smile enough, or don’t pay enough attention to me, or any of the other trivialities that the commenters here naively seem to think drives patients to alternatives. Its that the entire paradigm is flawed. The way doctors are taught is that if you have a rash, then you need a topical medicine to make the rash go away. No thought that perhaps the rash is a clue that something else is wrong in the body, and that the rash is simply a manifestation of some illness and not an illness itself.

    When I go to an insurance doctor, I always get the same feeling as if I took my car to a mechanic complaining that there was blue smoke coming out of the tailpipe, so they ran tests on the muffler, and when it seemed ok, suggested my car was suffering from IMS or Irritable Muffler Syndrome and the only remedy was to block the tailpipe preventing the blue smoke from coming out. Cured!

  137. #137 Jarred C
    May 29, 2011

    No thought that perhaps the rash is a clue that something else is wrong in the body, and that the rash is simply a manifestation of some illness and not an illness itself.

    Ignorance personified.

    Dunning-Kruger anyone?

  138. #138 Antaeus Feldspar
    May 29, 2011

    The way doctors are taught is that if you have a rash, then you need a topical medicine to make the rash go away. No thought that perhaps the rash is a clue that something else is wrong in the body, and that the rash is simply a manifestation of some illness and not an illness itself.

    That would be a very bad attitude for a healer to take, but I wonder where you’re getting your idea that this is how doctors are taught. If doctors never think that a rash is a clue that something else is wrong in the body, then how is it that they diagnose measles and other disorders where rashes are a symptom?

    You may have been confused by the fact that doctors are taught “if you hear the galloping of four hooves, look for a horse, not a zebra.” That is, when there isn’t any reason to suspect an exotic explanation, don’t go looking for one. Yes, a rash can be a symptom of something wrong somewhere else in the body – but isn’t it, most of the time, a result of the skin getting chafed or exposed to an agent such as poison ivy? Why shouldn’t doctors make their first course of action “let’s treat it with a medication for topical irritation and see if that resolves the trouble”?

  139. #139 LW
    May 29, 2011

    I really wonder what doctors other people see. When I consulted a doctor about a rash, he questioned me about food, stress at work, and even my sex life (apparently there are social diseases that can cause a rash). And that’s my regular experience; no doctor even just listened to my tale of woe and prescribed a drug.

  140. #140 Chris
    May 29, 2011

    Cripes! When I kept getting rash I was told it was because I was allergic to nickel. I was just told to avoid nickel.

  141. #141 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    May 29, 2011

    “Ignorance personified.

    Dunning-Kruger anyone?”

    Yes, JC … the stuff was seeping out of the commenter’s every bloody hole :S

  142. #142 A. Noyd
    May 29, 2011

    Antaeus Feldspar (#138)

    Why shouldn’t doctors make their first course of action “let’s treat it with a medication for topical irritation and see if that resolves the trouble”?

    In addition to what you say, doctors also want to stop the immediate discomfort their patients are feeling, so they’ll offer treatments to relieve symptoms because they’re compassionate, caring people. Somehow, the woo-lovers paint that as a failing.

  143. #143 Dangerous Bacon
    May 29, 2011

    “because naturopathic docs don’t have the prescribing of arsenic and mercury in their history”

    herr doktor bimler:”… until they adopt ayurvedic practices and prescribe arsenic, mercury and lead.”

    It’s not hard to find naturopaths who are into ayurvedic medicine too, like these people, who treat cancer, cardiovascular disease, autism and myriad other conditions.

    Oh, and they offer “homeopathic vaccination and vaccination alternatives”. Mick doesn’t like the word “quackery”, so he may not appreciate the term “crank magnetism”* which applies so well to this bunch of naturopaths.

    *Crank magnetism describes the phenomenon in which believers seem irresistibly drawn to embrace multiple forms of nuttiness/quackery.

  144. #144 Kichae
    May 30, 2011

    Woo is me @136

    My issue with modern medicine isn’t that doctors don’t smile enough, or don’t pay enough attention to me, or any of the other trivialities that the commenters here naively seem to think drives patients to alternatives. Its that the entire paradigm is flawed. The way doctors are taught is that if you have a rash, then you need a topical medicine to make the rash go away. No thought that perhaps the rash is a clue that something else is wrong in the body, and that the rash is simply a manifestation of some illness and not an illness itself.

    So, your problem with modern medicine is an unsubstantiated common trope in alt-med propaganda? How many GPs have you been to? If you happened upon a pez dispenser, did you try going to another medical doctor? How many of these people were stuffed with hay?

  145. #145 Kichae
    May 30, 2011

    I also wanted to say, Woo is me, that I’m already seeing a pattern here. You started out talking about how astronomers don’t complain about astrologers, and then how the general public doesn’t see astrology as credible, but both are patently false statements that you could easily seen as such if you had bothered to look, rather than simply project your own impressions onto the public at large.

    You’re now taking a very similar approach to doctors and the training they receive. You’ve assumed that things work a certain way and simply claimed that as fact, rather than actually looking into things. You seem to have this whole medicine “paradigm” figured out. So, then, may I ask: How much modern, conventional medical training do you have?

  146. #146 alexseo25
    May 30, 2011

    It would be funny if this could lead to the end of homeopathic quackery….somehow I doubt.

  147. #147 Woo is me
    May 30, 2011

    “Why shouldn’t doctors make their first course of action “let’s treat it with a medication for topical irritation and see if that resolves the trouble”?”

    Because that’s simply guessing, and any idiot can do that. Its just throwing medicine at the wall and seeing what sticks. Its certainly not diagnostic medicine based on evidence is it? In some instances that is all you can do, and that’s fair enough, but enlightened patients aren’t going to take kindly to being guinea pigs to save the doctor having to do some thinking and actually make an accurate diagnosis.

    I had a rash and the insurance doctor thought it was fungal and prescribed antifungal cream despite my disagreement. It didn’t work so out came the fluconazole. When that made no difference out came the itracanzole. Liver enzymes went way up and even repeated courses of itraconazole made no difference to the rash, since it wasn’t a fungal infection. A naturopath figured it out in the first 5 minutes of an appointment, and once the correct diagnosis was made, treatment was simple and nontoxic. I can only imagine that had I stuck with the insurance doctor, amphotericin was next on the list, which would have made the situation far worse.

    This is what happens when you can’t tell a horse from a zebra and rely on ‘playing the odds’ with patient’s illnesses. The naturopath rightly figured that if a smart, enlightened patient like myself was in her office, the chances of finding a zebra rather than a horse were quite high. The simple fact the she realized I was no “ignorant sucker”, helped her to make the correct diagnosis, since she didn’t waste any time patronizing me by throwing medicine at the wall. I would have much preferred a solution covered by insurance, but I don’t know how much longer my liver would have survived the insurance doctor’s medicine tossing.

  148. #148 Krebiozen
    May 30, 2011

    When I go to an insurance doctor, I always get the same feeling as if I took my car to a mechanic complaining that there was blue smoke coming out of the tailpipe, so they ran tests on the muffler, and when it seemed ok, suggested my car was suffering from IMS or Irritable Muffler Syndrome and the only remedy was to block the tailpipe preventing the blue smoke from coming out. Cured!

    If your mechanic thought that blue smoke coming out of your tailpipe was a symptom of a faulty muffler, chances are he was a naturopathic mechanic. You should see a real mechanic who has a clue about how a car engine works.

  149. #149 Marrry Me, Mindy (fkaPablo)
    May 30, 2011

    The “there must be a problem with Western Medicine or so many people wouldn’t be seeking alternatives” line is pretty interesting. The whole reason this backlash against “western medicine” originates is because it has been SO successful that people think it is flawed if it is not perfect. Vaccination is a perfect example. The whole reason that scum like Sid and Jay Gordon can get away with dismissing vaccination is because it has been so successful that it has made the problems that we vaccinate against very rare. Vaccination has almost eliminated these diseases in the areas it is used that people dismiss how good and important it really is. The same goes for all of modern medicine – you think it is bad? Take it away and try to survive on that naturopathic crap. Got a hint for you: we tried that. It didn’t work. That’s why we developed good medical approaches.

    It’s interesting how third world and impoverished countries, the ones without medical care or vaccines, are begging to get such things. Meanwhile, those of us who are privileged to have access to the best medical care in history are stuck with those who want to abandon it. It is only because of the success of medicine that gives these folks the luxury of bitching about it.

  150. #150 Chris
    May 30, 2011

    (completely off topic: Pablo, as a father of two kids, you have a very strange method of marriage proposal)

  151. #151 Anton P. Nym
    May 30, 2011

    @Pablo (#148): if you can find it, take a look at “Magic or Medicine” by Dr. Robert Buckman. It talks about how the woo-stuff gains traction these days… it’s been a long time since I saw the TV documentary series (and haven’t yet tracked down the book) but if I recall correctly a lot of the draw of naturopathy and homeopathy and reiki and the rest is the face-time a patient gets with the practitioner.

    It may be worthwhile to find ways to make consults friendlier for patients; then maybe the woo-meisters will find less purchase in the public eye.

    — Steve

  152. #152 Marry Me, Mindy (fkaP)
    May 30, 2011

    APN – folks in areas without medical care would stand in line for days to get a chance to have a doctor see them for 5 minutes.

    Only those who have access to quality medical care have the luxury to bitch about it.

    PS Chris – the bizarre part is that I don’t even know anyone named Mindy! Aside from Mork and Mindy and my wife’s friend who I’ve never met, I don’t even know of anyone named Mindy. Funny you should mention my kids, though. The story starts there

  153. #153 lilady
    May 30, 2011

    @ Marry Me, Mindy (fkaP) I am intrigued….

    One of the references I located for “Marry Me, Mindy” is a transcript from the Saturday Night Live show (Season 36 Episode 11) when host Jim Carrey did a routine with Mindy…who was sitting in the audience.

    Care to explain…I’m still intrigued.

  154. #154 augustine
    May 31, 2011

    Rico Suave

    It’s interesting how third world and impoverished countries, the ones without medical care or vaccines, are begging to get such things.

    Yeh, they’re begging for Lipitor, antidepressants, vioxx, heart burn rx, Adderall, Ritalin, metformin, viagra, diagnostic overtesting,disease “awareness”, endless profit driven vaccines they can’t afford, and a high rate of medical error.

    And they can not wait for you to pay for it.

    The “woe is me, I’m a victim of my own success, you’re just jealous” gambit just doesn’t work any more. Paul Offit and his mindless parrots have worn it out for you.

  155. #155 Lawrence
    May 31, 2011

    So, please explain the hundreds of millions of dollars that non-profits (including the Gates Foundation) are spending to provide free vaccines, free medical care & other free services to these same Third World countries?

    Doesn’t exactly jibe with your “profit-driven” model there does it?

  156. #156 augustine
    May 31, 2011

    Larry

    Doesn’t exactly jibe with your “profit-driven” model there does it?

    Uh, who get’s the money? And exactly where does it come from?

    That whole “hundreds of millions of dollars” and “free” thing just doesn’t jibe.

  157. #157 Vicki
    May 31, 2011

    Woo is me:

    Is your theory that people need to be smart and enlightened to have unusual diseases?

    When I’ve had rashes, the doctors have looked at the skin closely, asked questions, and then diagnosed different things in different cases. In one case, it was “you have very dry skin, change the soap you’re using, and if it’s really bad apply petroleum jelly at night.” In other cases I’ve been given antibiotics (topical and/or pills) for bacterial infections. And then there was “you have an allergic reaction to the first antibiotic, try this one instead, and here are some steroids for the rash.”

    No zebras, no naturopathy, just basic modern medicine. And yes, I’m glad that I didn’t have to pay the whole cost of the treatment myself; that a doctor is willing to take the lower/negotiated insurance payment doesn’t strike me as an argument against her/his skills. (One of them I think is getting a flat salary from the walk-in clinic, and doesn’t even know whether I have insurance.)

  158. #158 Composer99
    May 31, 2011

    ugh troll: What do you have against the profit motive? I dare say any privately-owned commercial agency working in medicine in the US is motivated by it, at least in part (one hopes that helping people with their health and well-being is also a major motivation for such agencies).

    If private, profit-based provision of medical products and services is not to your taste, what alternative did you have in mind?

  159. #159 Kichae
    May 31, 2011

    So your basic argument, then, augustine, is that naturopaths and homeopaths don’t charge for their time and products? That I can walk into my local drug store, pick up some homeopathic pain killers, and walk out without it costing anything?

    Should I expect you to cover my fees from Big Lawyer after I try this?

  160. #160 Woo is me
    May 31, 2011

    “The whole reason this backlash against “western medicine” originates is because it has been SO successful that people think it is flawed if it is not perfect.”

    This is brilliant. Do you mind if I use it on my clients?

    “Sir, I understand that you are deeply dissatisfied with the services we have provided you, but that only goes to show how successful our service really is.”

  161. #161 Composer99
    May 31, 2011

    Woo is you: if your services have accomplished the equivalent of the eradication of smallpox from the wild, then go right ahead.

  162. #162 Woo is me
    June 1, 2011

    “Woo is you: if your services have accomplished the equivalent of the eradication of smallpox from the wild, then go right ahead.”

    No they haven’t accomplished that. Then again, I never made the error of thinking that cowpox and smallpox were the same disease either.

  163. #163 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge
    June 1, 2011

    Then again, I never made the error of thinking that cowpox and smallpox were the same disease either.

    Fortunately, the human immune system did. Billions of saved lives later, here we are. You criminals have prevented the otherwise imminent eradication of measles and polio, but by damn, unless one of you steals a smallpox culture from a laboratory and releases it in the wild (which I wouldn’t put past some of you), the worst scourge in the history of the world has been completely eliminated. By vaccines! Boy, how that must sting.

  164. #164 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    June 2, 2011

    “If there’s no such evidence, then what would be the term for someone who believes these treatments work?”

    A stupid twat?

    “What would be the term for someone who tries to convince others that these treatments work despite all evidence?”

    An annoying twat?

    I know there’s all this ‘live and let live’ bollocks going on, but when people start using and promoting the further use of so-called treatments that – at best – do fuck all (and, at worst, lead either directly or indirectly to the death of a patient) then I’m not inclined to show any sort of respect to that sort of person. The science tells very well what the chances are with SBM: we have to balance risks with chances of an outcome that is at least satisfactory (in terms of quality of life, etc). The bullshit peddled by the fucking bullshit merchants of the world gives false hope and … well, false hope is no hope. I’m not inclined to show twats much in the way of respect. They don’t deserve it. To be honest, they forfeit the right to it.

  165. #165 Zeolite
    June 2, 2011

    Great explanation! Homeopathy has helped many times, mostly with the common cold, in which I recover in half the time, with half the severity of the normal cold. It can work when traditional medicines fail. Try it for yourself and see if it works for you! http://homeopathicmedicines.biz

  166. #166 Chris
    June 2, 2011

    Dear spammer, you have obviously not read the article.

  167. #167 Dune Scholar
    June 6, 2011

    Orac, I’d like to take this opportunity to present to you my comment expressing my absolute admiration and gratefulness, for your efforts to keep quackery at bay, and for generally promoting critical thinking in the literate human population…

    With humans like you around, I firmly believe we’ll never go extinct.

    Thank you.

  168. #168 the skeptical sister
    June 10, 2011

    I am grateful every day for SBM and for my doctors. Aside from people who are hurt by the “treatments,” I don’t want our health insurance rates skyrocketing because insurance has to start paying for woo.

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