This is a post that is about Stanislaw Burzynski but not about Stanislaw Burzynski. Obviously, regular readers are more than aware who Stanislaw Burzynski is, but even though I just blogged about him a few days ago, I still feel obligated to recount briefly who he is, for the benefit of readers who might have arrived here through Google searches or other means. Stanislaw Burzynski is a famous “cancer doctor” (I use scare quotes because he is not an oncologist and has no clinical training in medical oncology yet practices as a medical oncologist) who discovered something he called “antineoplastons” over 40 years ago and has been using them to treat cancer patients, first off clinical trials, but since the 1990 on clinical trials for which patients are charged tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
All you really need to know about him (more than you probably need to know, actually) is encompassed in a few of my old posts, including my reviews of a propaganda film by Eric Merola released in 2010 and its sequel released just last month (still viewable here), my analysis of his claims to be able to do “personalized gene-targeted therapy” better than M.D. Anderson and other cutting edge cancer centers (he can’t, and his claims that he can reveal his utter arrogance of ignorance about genomics), and this description of how he’s cleverly appropriated an orphan drug as a prodrug that produces antineoplastons in the body. The bottom line from my perspective is that Burzynski long ago ceased to be a science-based practitioner and that his numerous clinical trials are nothing more than a sham to allow him to keep treating patients with antineoplastons. (If you don’t believe me about this, listen to what his lawyer says about them.)
However, over the years, Burzynski has garnered the support of some heavy hitters. Oh, sure, it’s easy to make fun of celebrity bubble brains like Josh Duhamel and Fabio Lanzoni promoting Burzynski, but it’s not so easy to make fun of how powerful Congressmen like Joe Barton abused their power to pressure the FDA to lay off of Burzynski. Fortunately, of late either such efforts have ceased or are now less public and less effective, as evidenced by the partial clinical hold placed on antineoplaston therapy that prevents the Burzynski Clinic from signing up any new patients on antineoplastons since the FDA showed up there to investigate in January and for several months before that for children. Indeed, I’ve been looking for an excuse to use this picture I found to show just how tight Burzynski has been over the years with some powerful people:
Yes, that’s Pope John Paul II with Stanislaw Burzynski and his wife. The picture was taken September 1996, a few months before Burzynski’s trial in 1997 for insurance fraud and violations of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. For unclear reasons, Burzynski was summoned to Rome, and he went. There were rumors at the time that he had been summoned to treat the Pope, but those rumors turned out not to be true. Other rumors were that he had been summoned to treat a prominent Cardinal, but that’s probably not true, either. More likely, the Pope just liked Burzynski because he was (and remains) a prominent Polish Catholic, just like John Paul II was, who appeared on the surface to be doing cutting edge cancer research.
All of this is why I didn’t immediately dismiss as hopelessly implausible reports that were Tweeted at me on the #Burzynski hashtag recently that Burzynski had again been honored by the Catholic Church. There’s even an official-looking framed certificate and everything posted right here on a blog entitled Network for the Science of Healing and Spirituality. The link is nearly a year old; so I’m not sure why it’s popping up again now other than that another woo-credulous blogger posted it in response to a real blog about Burzynski, namely my bud Bob Blaskiewicz’s The Other Burzynski Patient Group. Whatever the reason, like so many claims of dubious provenance on the Internet, this one bubbled to the surface again a year after it was first posted. So what’s it all about? Well, someone named Kiran Schmidt:
It is my great honor to have Dr Burzynski http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanislaw_Burzynski, the world renowned Cancer therapist of Houston/ Texas http://www.burzynskiclinic.com/ , join the Medical Order of the Knights Hospitaller http://www.hospitaller-soulspirithealing.org/knights-hospitaller-grandmaster/ and his work honored by the Catholic Church by being initiated as:
“Commander of the Knight-order of St.Gregory the Great” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_St._Gregory_the_Great
It sure sounds official, doesn’t it? And maybe it is official. As I said, there’s even an official-looking certificate. However, if you look at the Wikipedia entry provided for the Order of St. Gregory the Great, things start looking fishy immediately. What immediately stood out to me is that there appears to be no such thing as the Medical Order of the Knights Hospitaller, at least, not as described in the entry that Schmidt quotes and seemingly not as an official order in the Catholic Church. Don’t get me wrong. There is an order of Knights Hospitaller:
From 1113 to 1309 they were known as the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem; from 1309 to 1522 they went by the Order of the Knights of Rhodes; from 1530 to 1798 they were the Sovereign and Military Order of the Knights of Malta; from 1834 to 1961 they were the Knights Hospitaller of St. John of Jerusalem; and from 1961 to the present they are formally known as the Sovereign Military and Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes, and of Malta.
This doesn’t appear to be the same thing as the “Medical Order of the Knights Hospitaller” to which Burzynski was apparently inducted. In fact, it’s not entirely clear to me what the relationship is between this order and the Catholic Church. From what I’ve been able to gather, apparently Kiran Schmidt has received some sort of honor from the Catholic Church, having been inducted into the Pian Order. He even has a letter from a Cardinal named Angelo Sodano, who’s pretty high up in the Catholic hierarchy, that makes him Grandmaster of the Medical Order of the Knights Hospitaller, complete with language like this;
It is hereby made known to the world that we consider disease not as a dysfunction of the body but as a call for the spirit to rise higher and to make new efforts to realize the divine plan that God has made the sole purpose of this world. We wish to to re-affirm the ancient tradition that understood healing in the context of religion and that did not divide between healing of body and mind — a tradition in which the priest was a healer and the healer was a priest. We are aware that in the last century this tradition was weakened by some initial success of chemical and other physical medicine. It is obvious to many today that theis success has been superficial and another temptation to build “one’s house on sand” on the hope for human ability to control fate and give security. It is our wish to give support to those who promote the understanding that it is neither pills nor the knife of the surgeon that will ultimately bring healing, but rather the spirit that is determined to make use of sickness and suffering for a betterment of the soul, for a transformation of fear into the glorification of the Lord, for the molding of the spirit from belief in itself to the belief in its role as a servant to the greater glory of God.
Whatever the relationship of this medical order, such as it is, and the Catholic Church, the language above is quite ironic to me. First, it could very easily be appropriated by just about any quack, particularly the part about “chemical and other physical medicine.” You can almost feel the contempt for science-based medicine (SBM) oozing from the words, with the successes of modern SBM being “superficial.” In the case of most quacks, it’s because to them SBM isn’t “holistic enough.” In the case of this Catholic order, it’s because modern SBM doesn’t rely on God or Jesus for healing. Particularly odious is how Cardinal Sodano castigates “chemical and other physical medicine” because it alleviates the sickness and suffering that are good for the soul and result in the glorification of the Lord. One can only suggest that Cardinal Sodano refuse to see any real doctors if he has health problems and rely on the Lord—or maybe John of God.
Speaking of John of God, the above passage explains why virtually anyone can join the order, or so it would appear, as well as why Schmidt is so enamored of faith healing quack John of God. I, of course, have a different opinion of John of God, as you might imagine. Not surprisingly, it also turns out that Kiran Schmidt is into some serious woo of his own. He’s the founder of Inergitix, Inc., which advertises itself as being about “energy information” and markets a number of what are in my not-so-humble opinion, quack devices, including Rife generators, bioresonance (whatever that is), a health navigator, among other things. Particularly amusing is a device called the Bio-LaesEr, which appears to be a variation on the old familiar quackery of an Orgone accumulator.
Indeed, I see a very, very, very—shall we say?—target-rich environment here. I’ll save the website for future reference, but in the meantime let me provide you with just a little sampling of the tasty woo that resides therein, a little wafer to cleanse the palate, as Mr. Creosote might say. It’s Schmidt’s introduction to Eigen-resonance. There’s a lot there, but I picked only the best of the best for your amusement:
Until recently the body’s own frequencies were exclusively used to monitor body function like in ECG or EEG. The Bioresonance-LaesEr fundamentally changes this by feeding those frequencies back to the body in an amplified form or transformed into light, sound or magnetic frequencies. This is what we call Eigen-frequency therapy, an energetic analog to Eigen-blood or Eigen-Urine therapy and most generally to the basic “Similimum” principle of Homeopathy, one’s own frequencies are the perfect energetic homeopathic remedy – the Panacea.
An energetic analog to “Eigen-blood” and “Eigen-urine” that makes one own “frequencies” the “perfect energetic homeopathic remedy”? Pure genius! It’s such awesome woo that I think it might require its own post at some point.
But back to the honoring of Burzynski by Kiran Schmidt. It amuses me that Schmidt has apparently persuaded a Cardinal that his brand of quackery represents the highest ideals of Catholic physicians and healers over the last two millennia. It amuses me even more that, for all this order is apparently dedicated to “healing the spirit” and disparaging “chemical and physical medicine,” it’s honored a man who has taken advantage of the same “physical” model to administer chemotherapy to patients. That chemotherapy is in the form of his “antineoplastons” or the chemotherapy that Burzynski administers as “low dose” based on his “personalized gene-targeted cancer therapy.” Clearly, Schmidt knows not whom he honors. He thinks Burzynski is doing “informational medicine“:
He was one of the first to realize that a patient specific combination of peptides has the power to reverse even late stage cancers. And from the point of view of Informational Medicine he is doing exactly this – he is influencing the control-process of the body at a very high point in the hierarchy, at the point of genomic switches.
Just like with any other modality of Informational Medicine it has to be highly client specific but once found even minute amounts (in this case peptides) will do almost instant healing without the inertia and actio-reactio side-effects of massive dose or energy intervention which both have to follow Newton’s law.
Also and possibly even more important in my personal communication I became aware that Dr Buzynski is a deeply spiritual person and takes an active role in the Catholic Church…
Yes, Kiran Schmidt definitely amuses me. I see much potential for Insolence there, and I might not have discovered him, had it not been for Stanislaw Burzynski and my interest in him that led me to set up Google Alerts for his name.