Respectful Insolence

Naturopathy is quackery. There, I said it. Actually, I’ve said it many times before, because it is. The problem with naturopathy, of course, is that it is so diffuse and encompasses so many different forms of quackery that it’s hard to categorize. Basically, it’s anything that can be portrayed as “natural,” be it traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy (which is an integral component of naturopathy, something that should tell you all you need to know about naturopathy), herbalism, energy healing, Ayurvedic medicine, the four humors, or whatever. Seemingly, there is no quackery that naturopathy does not credulously embrace, which is why the success of recent efforts of naturopaths to achieve licensure in several states and even obtain limited privileges to prescribe real pharmaceutical drugs is so alarming, as are their efforts to become recognized as primary care providers under the Affordable Care Act. Basically, naturopathy is a hodge-podge of quackery mixed with science-based modalities magically “rebranded” as “alternative” and “natural.” In that, naturopathy is the ultimate in “integrative medicine,” in which quackery is “integrated” with science-based medicine. As I’ve pointed out many times before, integrating quackery and pseudoscience with real medicine does not elevate the quackery and pseudoscience, but it does contaminate the real medicine with quackery to no good benefit. Unfortunately, it’s insinuating itself into the law.

With that introduction in mind, did you know that the week of October 7 through 13 is Quackery Week in the U.S.? No, seriously, it is. The Senate just passed a resolution declaring that this is so. Oh, it’s true that the Senate didn’t actually call it that. Rather, the resolution S.Res. 221 was passed, and it declares that week Naturopathic Medicine Week, which is the same thing as declaring it Quackery Week:

S.Res.221 – A resolution designating the week of October 7 through October 13, 2013, as “Naturopathic Medicine Week” to recognize the value of naturopathic medicine in providing safe, effective, and affordable health care.

Well, one out of three ain’t bad, I suppose. Naturopathy is probably affordable (most of the time, anyway), but safe and effective? Not so much. Of course, it’s just a Senate resolution, allegedly passed unanimously; so it’s not as though it has the force of law or anything, but—wouldn’t you know it?—naturopaths are going nuts over it. Indeed, I first learned of this resolution, apparently passed the evening of September 10, at that wretched hive of scum and quackery, The Huffington Post, in an article by a naturopath named Amy Rothenberg who blogs over there entitled U.S. Senate Passes Resolution for Naturopathic Medicine Week. Rothenberg, apparently, is President of the Massachusetts Society of Naturopathic Doctors and a Board member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. Hilariously, she edited a journal entitled the New England Journal of Homeopathy. I guess it’s just like the New England Journal of Medicine, only without all that pesky science. In any case, she’s fairly high up on the naturopathic food chain. She’s elated:

On Sept. 10, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution designating Oct. 7 – Oct. 13 Naturopathic Medicine Week. The resolution recognizes the value of naturopathic medicine in providing safe, effective, and affordable health care and encourages Americans to learn about the role of naturopathic physicians in preventing chronic and debilitating conditions.

According to Jud Richland, the American Association of Naturopathic Physician’s CEO:

Passage of this resolution is an historic achievement for naturopathic medicine. The Congress has now officially recognized the important role naturopathic medicine plays in effectively addressing the nation’s health care needs as well as in addressing the increasingly severe shortage of primary care physicians.

Yes, this is the propaganda line that naturopaths push, that they are actually qualified to help address the shortage of primary care physicians. (Indeed, Amy Rothenberg did just that on HuffPo several months ago.) It’s utter nonsense, of course, as Peter Lipson helped to demonstrate with his Primary Care Challenge directed primarily at naturopaths. The bottom line is, for all their claims of scientific training, naturopaths are taught a system that includes vitalism, the four humors, and homeopathy as bedrock principles. They base a lot of what they do on prescientific belief systems gussied up with “science-y” sounding justifications. For example, Rothenberg herself uses The One Quackery To Rule Them All, homeopathy, and even advocates it for autism.

When I first learned of this Senate Resolution, I was curious who was responsible for it. It turns out that it was Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) who sponsored it. No other sponsores are listed. A House Resolution with the same text was apparently introduced into the U/S. House of Representatives Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, but it doesn’t appear to have gone anywhere. Sen. Mikulski, as we’ve seen before, is tightly associated with the Godfather of Woo in the Senate, the man most responsible for the creation of the abomination that is the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA). Back when the ACA was being debated, she teamed with Harkin to insert provisions into the law that could be used to justify reimbursing CAM practitioners under the ACA. She also co-chaired a meeting with Harkin at the Institute of Medicine to discuss (in actuality, to promote) “integrative medicine.” Unfortunately, even though Harkin will not run for re-election in 2014, thus eliminating the Senate’s foremost champion of quackery after 2014, Mikulski is still there, chairing the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee. Indeed, once Harkin has retired, it is likely that Mikulski will take over Harkin’s role as the foremost defender of quackery in the Senate. After all, here she is with that founding father of quackademic medicine, Dr. Brian Berman, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine:

She’s even appeared on Dr. Oz’s radio show to help him promote integrative medicine as the solution to everything that ills American medicine.

But back to Brian Berman? You remember Brian Berman, don’t you? If you don’t just type his name into the search box for this blog and read away! He is one of the foremost practitioners of quackademic medicine in the United States today and on the advisory council for NCCAM. Clearly, he is tight with Mikulski, and, no doubt, will work with her to defend NCCAM against any attempts to defund it or make it more scientifically rigorous than its current director, Dr. Josephine Briggs, has tried. As Sen. Mikulski said at the 20th anniversary of the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine:

“If we can change healthcare, we can change the world.” During her remarks, Senator Mikulski praised the Center for Integrative Medicine for advancing an understanding of complementary medicine in the United States and its pioneering research initiatives. Senator Mikulski has been a champion for the Affordable Health Care Act, which emphasizes disease prevention, health promotion, and wellness, which are the primary goals in integrative medicine. She also reminisced about first meeting Dr. Brian Berman, the Center’s founder and director, and being impressed with his initiatives and goals to create a healthier world through integrative practices.

“If we can change medicine, we can change the world”? No doubt, but that’s not a good thing when “changing medicine” means diluting scientific medicine with quackery the way homeopaths dilute their remedies with water. Yet those are the changes Mikulski is working towards.

Returning to S.Res.211, however, it’s easy to say that it’s a meaningless thing, a resolution introduced by a woo-loving Senator and passed on voice vote, almost certainly with little or no serious consideration. It doesn’t have the force of law. Even so, it’s still a problem. You can be sure that naturopaths are going to be promoting it relentlessly between now and October 7. So I had an idea. It’s an idea I had a long time ago for Homeopathy Awareness Week. Basically, I think it would be a great idea for skeptics to make October 7 Naturopathy Awareness Week and make it a point to blog about naturopathy as much as possible. If the Senate wants to endorse quackery by passing a resolution declaring a week devoted to that quackery, I think it behooves us to make sure that as many people as possible know the true nature of naturopathy. It isn’t science-based, nor is it necessarily even particularly “natural.” It’s a hodge-podge of nearly every woo under the sun, much of it based on prescientific vitalism and humoral theory. Helping to let the world know that could be a time to do good and have fun at the same time.

Comments

  1. #1 Otto Mäkelä
    Helsinki, Finland
    September 13, 2013

    Simultaneously, the U.S. House of Representatives derailed a congressional proposal to create the honorary position of U.S. science laureate.

    http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2013/09/u.s.-science-laureate-bill-hits-roadblock

  2. #2 Lawrence
    September 13, 2013

    Dammit!!!!

    She is my Senator, dammit!!!

  3. #3 Lawrence
    September 13, 2013

    Okay, I just emailed her office….and I might even request a meeting to have her explain her position…she is known for being extremely responsive to her constituents, so I’ll let you know when her staff responds.

  4. #4 Dorit
    September 13, 2013

    In the same spirit, maybe the Senate will be wiling to make November 4-9 Doctor Who appreciation week. We have visual evidence that he saved the lives of many, many people which is probably as compelling as the evidence of lives saved by naturopathy and I am willing to collect anecdotal evidence from people who say Doctor Who saved their mental health.

  5. #5 Orac
    September 13, 2013

    Shouldn’t that be the week of November 18-24? :-)

  6. #6 Dorit
    September 13, 2013

    Sometimes I really miss not being able to like comments on blogs. I stand corrected. :D

  7. #7 joemac53
    September 13, 2013

    I’m blaming you if NSA comes after me. I just had to write to my senator to complain and whine. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  8. #8 Mu
    September 13, 2013

    Lets hope our senators live by what they preach and from now on exclusively use naturopaths for their medical care.

  9. #9 Lawrence
    September 13, 2013

    The sad thing in, she’s usually got the correct stances on the issues – in this case, she’s dead wrong, unfortunately.

  10. #10 Orac
    September 13, 2013

    The same thing can be said of Tom Harkin, as well.

  11. #11 Old Rockin' Dave
    September 13, 2013

    Senator Mikulski has done such good work advancing space science. I just hope it hasn’t made her spacy.

  12. #12 Angel
    September 13, 2013

    I just complained to my senator as well. Thanks for the heads-up.

  13. #13 mho
    September 13, 2013

    emails aren’t that effective. Please fax, then call your Senators office and ask to speak to their health aide. That person will almost always speak to you or return your call. They are the people who speak directly to the Senators and inform their decisions.
    If you can’t call, write an actual letter.

  14. #14 Chris HIckie
    September 13, 2013

    I think from 12:00 am to 12:01 am on every February 29th should be reserved as “National this-is-how-much-naturopathy-has-really-helped-the-health-of-Americans Minute”.

    Works for me.

  15. #15 Rich Woods
    September 13, 2013

    That’s very generous, giving them a full sixty seconds. It needs watering down.

  16. #16 Lawrence
    September 13, 2013

    Depending on the response I get from her office, I will request a meeting….

    Again, she has a very good open door policy with her constituents – I would like to see how she would defend her position…if she could.

  17. #17 Shay
    September 13, 2013

    I guess this just goes to show that naturopathy is equal-opportunity woo…it appeals to the credulous on BOTH sides of the political spectrum.

  18. #18 dandover
    On a high horse
    September 13, 2013

    It just occurred to me that I don’t think we can ever convince enough people to stop using “naturopathic” medicine by showing them how it isn’t backed by science, or by calling it quackery. I think the fact that it isn’t backed by science is specifically what draws a lot of people to it. Science, to many people, seems unnatural. Unnatural and dangerous. Risky. Science is all about chemicals and radiation and a bunch of other scary stuff. “Natural” stuff is perceived as being safer simply because it is … well, natural. Trees and flowers and bunnies … none of that stuff is dangerous, right?

    Before we can have any success convincing people to knock it off with the “naturopathy”, I think we first need to do a better job of convincing people that science is the only reliable way we have of improving our quality of life. Only then will people understand why trees and flowers and bunnies — and “naturopathy” — won’t get us where we want to go.

  19. #19 dandover
    The bottom of the barrel
    September 13, 2013

    P.S. I really liked that at the top of the page here I’m presently getting an ad for “Acli-Mate Natural Sports Drinks” a concoction of vitamins, minerals, and herbs invented by — you guessed it, an “N.D.”

  20. #20 Dr. Katie Baker
    Seattle, WA
    September 13, 2013

    The difference between naturopathic physicians in licensed states and those who call themselves “naturopaths” but have a degree from an unaccredited instittution, if at all, is the difference between an veterinarian and your cousin’s girlfriend who thinks she can heal her purse-dog by reading its mind.

    As a “science” blog, I’m sure you’re aware that over 85% of pharmaceuticals (at last count) are synthetic versions of natural compounds found in plants (statins, anyone?), mainly from the rainforest, but many (such as Taxol from the yew tree and upcoming chemotherapeutic agents from mycology sources) are from the Pacific Northwest. My university, Bastyr University, leads the way in providing gold-standard research for various natural treatments, in conjunction with the NIH. Given the number of medications created from natural sources, to say that natural medicine is ineffective is a specious argument, at best.

    I’m a proud graduate of an accredited naturopathic doctoral program in a licensed state. I have NEVER been taught to us “the four humors”, except for when we learned that, in their ignorance, people of ancient Greece and Rome used these concepts to explain illness. I practice primary care medicine which includes prescribing pharmaceuticals, herbal medicine, dietary and exercise advice, family counseling, physical medicine (aka massage therapy and sports medicine techniques), and other research-based therapies.

    As a primary care doctor, my patients’ safety is of primary importance to me, which is one of the main reasons I fight for licensure in unlicensed states. If you don’t have a regulatory body supervising any profession, ANYONE can call themselves a member of that profession. If you don’t protect patients by requiring a standardized education level, including national board exams and what, at our doctoral program were science credit hours in excess of those at the University of Washington, you allow uninformed and dangerous decisions to be made in regard to patient care.

    Knee-jerk “anti-quack” statements without a basic understanding or with a misrepresentation of the training and education of licensed naturopathic physicians encompasses is unprofessional and frankly, damaging to discussions surrounding patients’ health. False statements that many of them hear from blogs like this make them unwilling to tell their MD providers that they use alternative treatments, leading to potentially dangerous drug-herb interaction. Hell, I’ve even pointed out drug-drug interactions to patients and their MD providers that weren’t caught.

    If you’re interested in reading up on our profession’s contributions to health care, there was a study in Vermont by Dr. Bernie Noe, in which a preventive medicine care program saved its participants $21 in DIRECT health care costs for every $1 spent on the program. Otherwise, consider the thousands of peer-reviewed studies found on PubMed, the NIH database of research relating to all aspects of medicine.

    As a professional who is highly trained in nutrition, exercise, counseling and stress reduction techniques, my skills are integral in addressing the epidemic of chronic illness that drives healthcare costs through the roof in our country. When you add in the fact that a typical naturopathic office visit is 30-60 minutes (instead of the oft-quoted MD standard of 8 minutes), in which we address multiple concerns of our patients and discuss lifestyle issues that affect treatment compliance, you can see why naturopathic physicians are poised to fill the hole left in primary care medicine as more medical school graduates opt for specialty careers.

  21. #21 Krebiozen
    September 13, 2013

    Trees and flowers and bunnies … none of that stuff is dangerous, right?

    Bunnies? Harmless? Do these people know nothing? [Don't answer that]

  22. #22 Lucario
    Sunny SoFla
    September 13, 2013

    dandover @ #19:

    “Natural Sports Drinks?” If I want one of those, I’ll just grab myself some coconut water. No herbal enhancement necessary. And those little bits of coconut make you feel like you’re drinking candy. ^_^

  23. #23 Laura
    Austin, TX
    September 13, 2013

    Thank you for writing about this! You seem to be the only person who has written about the resolution so far (other than that horrible Huff Po article).

    I’m amazed that this was passed unanimously. Guess the senators didn’t think to do a quick internet search on naturopathy first, else they would have realized that most facets of naturopathic medicine have been shown to be complete and utter bull$hi@.

  24. #24 Ken
    Milwaukee
    September 13, 2013

    The New England Journal of Homeopathy only contains the memory of real medicine.

  25. #25 lilady
    September 13, 2013

    I loooove Google. When I googled “Which States required health care practitioners to have malpractice insurance?…This AMA website came up.

    http://www.ama-assn.org//resources/doc/arc/state-laws-mandating-minimum-insurance.pdf

    Many states actually mandate professional malpractice insurance…not just for M.D.s, D.O.s and N.P.s, they require professional malpractice insurance for Chiropractor, Dental Hygienists, Licensed Massage Therapists, etc.

    Many private medical insurance carriers, who are licensed to sell insurance in certain States, also require proof of professional medical malpractice insurance before reimbursement for professional services rendered is covered.

    Now that naturopaths and chiropractors are gaining acceptance as “primary care providers”…which of these providers of professional malpractice insurance, would be willing to insure primary care chiropractors and primary care naturopaths?

    Nice to know that if I’m dumb enough to use a chiropractor or a naturopath as my “primary care provider” and (s)he fails to diagnose and impending ruptured aortic aneurism, I’m on my own in many States.

  26. #26 Eric Lund
    September 13, 2013

    OK, how many Senators actually read that resolution?

    One of Molly Ivins’ favorite stories of the Texas Legislature was about the time one of their members introduced a resolution to honor Albert De Salvo for his innovative techniques in population control. Mr. De Salvo was, of course, better known as the Boston Strangler. Immediately after the resolution passed (unanimously, IIRC), the member who introduced the measure revealed that he had done so precisely to make the point that legislators were routinely approving such resolutions without reading them.

  27. #27 Dr. Katie Baker
    September 13, 2013

    @lilady- All licensed states require naturopathic physicians to carry malpractice insurance. Luckily, our claim rates are so much lower than those of MDs, the premiums are about 1/3 or less of what they pay.

  28. #28 Dr. Katie Baker
    September 13, 2013

    @lilady- All licensed states require naturopathic physicians to carry malpractice insurance. Luckily, our claim rates are so much lower than those of MDs, the premiums are about 1/3 or less of what they pay.

  29. #29 Alice Harper
    United States
    September 13, 2013

    This blog post exemplifies your ignorance about naturopathic medicine. Please do some research rather than spouting a knee-jerk response to something you obviously know nothing about. I am a licensed naturopathic physician who is a primary care doctor specializing in integrative medicine. I use my skills to find and treat the cause of symptoms through the use of natural therapies as well as pharmaceuticals when indicated. I attended an accredited 4-year naturopathic medical school (Bastyr University) with the same basic sciences taught in “regular” medical school. Naturopathic physicians receive the same basic training as medical doctors with additional courses in physical medicine, massage therapy, botanical medicine, drug-herb interactions, nutrition, and counseling. We spend more time with our patients and get to know them to treat the whole person. We do carry malpractice insurance and in states where we are licensed, are covered by patient’s insurance plans. Because our focus is on lifestyle, diet, exercise, and prevention, we help decrease healthcare costs.

  30. #30 Chris Hickie
    September 13, 2013

    That’s very generous, giving them a full sixty seconds. It needs watering down.

    It’s only 1 minute every 4 years (February 29th), so that’s only 15 sec/yr on average.

  31. #31 Narad
    September 13, 2013

    Of course, it’s just a Senate resolution, allegedly passed unanimously

    It was by unanimous consent, which basically means that nobody gave a rat’s ass.

  32. #32 Carl
    September 13, 2013

    Adding to the nonsense festival, Michelle Obama is running around promoting the classic chronic dehydration myth:
    http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/09/13/a-few-drops-of-criticism-for-michelle-obamas-new-initiative/

  33. #33 Orac
    September 13, 2013

    This blog post exemplifies your ignorance about naturopathic medicine. Please do some research rather than spouting a knee-jerk response to something you obviously know nothing about.

    Oh, I’ve done plenty of research and know quite a bit about “naturopathic medicine.”

    Let me ask you something. Do you use homeopathy? After all, homeopathy is an integral part of the curriculum of every naturopathy school I’ve looked at, which is not surprising, given that homeopathy is an integral part of the naturopathic board examination. Sadly, homeopathy is pure quackery, meaning a major component of naturopathy is quackery. Of course, that’s not all the quackery and pseudoscience in naturopathy, not by a long shot.

  34. #34 herr doktor bimler
    September 13, 2013

    Because our focus is on lifestyle, diet, exercise, and prevention, we help decrease healthcare costs.

    I would prefer to see an empirical argument of the form “Because of [this evidence] we help decrease healthcare costs.”

  35. #35 GregH
    September 13, 2013

    Katie Baker & Alice Harper,

    I can think of a couple of ways that naturopathic doctors could make a positive contribution to health outcomes in our society. But when I hear the kind of ignorant and defensive baloney you’ve written above, I immediately lose all interest in seeing a naturopathic “doctor”. I believe that you’ve chosen naturopathy as a career path for financial reasons, and you’ve come here to rationalize your career choices, not to demonstrate either your science education or your compassion for other humans. Actual science offends your beliefs and threatens your pocketbook. No matter how passionately you believe this stuff, you’re building your career by taking advantage of people’s ignorance.

  36. #36 Chris,
    September 13, 2013

    Ms. Harper:

    I attended an accredited 4-year naturopathic medical school (Bastyr University) with the same basic sciences taught in “regular” medical school.

    I remember when Bastyr was located in north Wallingford in the McDonald School building in the early 1990s. They had this huge announcement that they were going to do a big study on homeopathy. It was from watching that television news story that I actually learned that homeopathy is not herbal medicine, and that it uses teeny tiny impossible dilutions.

    What ever happened to that big study? It just seemed to disappear. Did you ever hear about it? And if they still teach homeopathy, how do they explain the total lack of chemical reality in the dilutions? Do you have classes that make you forget real chemistry?

  37. #37 MadisonMD
    September 13, 2013

    I use my skills to find and treat the cause of symptoms

    Is this the same as making a diagnosis and then treating? Do you mean to say you do not diagnose or treat asymptomatic disease?

    Naturopathic physicians receive the same basic training as medical doctors with additional courses in physical medicine, massage therapy, botanical medicine, drug-herb interactions, nutrition, and counseling.

    Now how did you leave out the 5 semesters of homeopathy?

  38. #38 MadisonMD
    September 13, 2013

    I use my skills to find and treat the cause of symptoms

    Is this the same as making a diagnosis and then treating? Do you mean to say you do not diagnose or treat asymptomatic disease?

    Naturopathic physicians receive the same basic training as medical doctors with additional courses in physical medicine, massage therapy, botanical medicine, drug-herb interactions, nutrition, and counseling.

    Now how did you leave out the 5 semesters of homeopathy?

  39. #39 Carl
    September 13, 2013

    “Oh why is your neck,
    in such a harsh wreck?”
    said the ox to the fox in the meadow.

    “‘Twas up in that tree,
    when I tripped on my knee,
    and my feet could do none more than let go.

    “I fell to the grass,
    landing flat on my ass,
    and my neck flung ’round under my torso.

    “Then straight from God’s wrath,
    came a naturopath,
    who fucked me up worse from the get-go.

    “She couldn’t fix me,
    with chiropracty,
    nor with herbs nor with turds nor with reiki.

    “But she dug into me,
    with needles like bees,
    and hit me with placebo fees.

    “So my neck is like rope
    and I haven’t a hope,
    for my science-based medical needs.

    “I’m helplessly low,
    and to darkness I go,”
    said the fox to the ox in the meadow.

  40. #40 Woo Fighter
    September 13, 2013

    It appears that “Dr.” Alice Harper does believe in homeopathy, as Orac wondered.

    From her website:

    Naturopathic Physicians use a combination of therapies such as nutrition, herbal/botanical medicine, nutritional supplements, homeopathy, physical medicine, and conventional therapies to optimize the treatment & health of each patient as an individual. Naturopathic Physicians are Primary Care Physicians who diagnose and treat disease and illnesses. Diagnosis is discovered through taking a detailed history, performing physical examination, and obtaining laboratory testing and/or imaging.

    http://www.draliceharper.com/default.html

    No doubt she also sells the herbal and botanical medicine and supplements she recommends.

    Oh, and she also offers “detoxification” programs.

  41. #41 Woo Fighter
    September 13, 2013

    And, yes indeed, “Dr.” Katie Baker also believes in the magic sugar pills. PLUS, she performs CST on newborns.

    At Stone Turtle Health, we follow our patients’ lead in determining the most effective form of care. Dr. Baker works side-by-side with her patients to find the most suitable treatment options, ranging from diet and lifestyle changes, botanical medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine, and counseling, to prescription medications and necessary referrals to specialists, in order to provide them with the best possible care.

    Newborns can come in with mom for a free craniosacral therapy assessment. Many will sleep through their session AND mom’s massage.

    http://www.stoneturtlehealth.com/Services/7.aspx

  42. #42 Chris,
    September 14, 2013

    Woo Fighter, it would be interesting to see what Katie Baker, Not a Doctor< charges for a homeopathic head massage (an apt description for craniosacral therapy).

    A relative of mine decided she did not like the medications being prescribed by real doctors, so headed over to the Children's Homeopathic Clinic. A practice that apparently also treated adults, and staffed solely by Bastyr educated naturapaths.

    The result was that she wrote a letter to her parents on how completely useless homeopathy was. Those stalwart Bastyr graduates had apparently charged her more for specially made prescriptions than the real doctors, with the added "benefit" of the pills not doing anything.

    It seems that the sugar pills were more expensive than real pharmaceutical meds. Imagine that!

    When I told her dad that I already knew that, he responded… "Well doesn't it work for some?" Then I explained the principles of homeopathy, and he was surprised it was not the same as herbal medicine. Plus both parents thought that "Dr. Idiot" was a real doctor because she referred to him as "Dr.", but it turned out he was just an ND (Not a Doctor).

  43. #43 lilady
    September 14, 2013

    I think the two naturopaths wandered in here from another blog on a patients’ discussion board where the discussion is the Wonderful World of Woo Medicine.

    Infant cranio-sacral therapy, eh?

  44. #44 lilady
    September 14, 2013

    Hmmm, I still don’t see any treatment for an impending rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm on Katie Baker N.D.’s website….although the “onion earmuffs” for earaches seems interesting:

    http://www.stoneturtlehealth.com/uploads/Household%20Remedies%20for%20Your%20Family.pdf

  45. #45 Woo Fighter
    September 14, 2013

    Chris,

    Unfortunately i’ve heard stories like yours several times from many different people. Either victims themselves of the homeoquacks or friends of victims.

    May I ask what condition your relative was attempting to cure/resolve at the homeopathic clinic? Something serious or self-limiting?

    Check out Orac’s “friend’s” other blog–the article on homeopathic “first aid kits” (that claim to treat drowning and choking, among many other ailments). There are many comments from a supporter of homeoquackery named Sandra (not a practitioner herself, she claims homeoquackery cured her “mercury poisoning” from dental fillings and is a True Believer and defender) who insists sugar pills can cure cancer.

    She also invokes noted homophobic, racist and sexist crackpot Tim Bolen’s criticism of us “skeptics” (who Bolen calls “homoskeptics” since we are all homosexual pedophiles, don’t cha know). And yet on her pro-homeopathy blog she appeals for civility and condemns childish name-calling. I pointed out her hypocrisy but she of course ignored my comment. I also told her how well homeopathy worked for poor Penelope Dingle’s cancer in Australia. Also ignored. Maybe her lack of response was homeopathic.

    As long as homeopathy remains a cornerstone of naturopathy I will consider naturopathy, and its practitioners, frauds and scientific-illiterates.

  46. #46 lilady
    September 14, 2013

    Hmmm, I still don’t see any treatment for an impending rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm on Katie Baker N.D.’s website….although the “onion earmuffs” for earaches seems interesting:

    http://www.stoneturtlehealth.com/uploads/Household%20Remedies%20for%20Your%20Family.pdf

  47. #47 Woo Fighter
    September 14, 2013

    Damn, i just had another long comment deleted from ScienceBlogs as soon as I hit “Submit.” I’ll try to recreate it from memory. Anyone else having problems with comments tonight?

    From now on I’ll compose comments in Notepad and save them first before pasting them here, in case they get lost again.

  48. #48 lilady
    September 14, 2013

    I just had a problem about 5 minutes ago. The blog has been acting up occasionally.

    I posted my last comment above and the screen said “temporarily out of service…try again or try later” I left the comment up and checked my email, came back 2-3 minutes later and same message. After another few minutes and third try and the message was ” Duplicate…you’ve already posted that comment”, so I knew it was somewhere and not lost. Then I closed the blog and reopened it and there’s my comment up there.

  49. #49 Woo Fighter
    September 14, 2013

    Lilady,

    I knew that newborn CST mention would get a response from you. It horrifies me, too. What condition would a newborn need “treated,” even if you assume that CST is real and works? Traumatic birth? What parent would subject a newborn to this nonsense?

    And these parents are some of the same ones who won’t risk “damaging” their little snowflakes with tried-and-true, proven-safe, society-saving vaccines.

    On a sidenote, is there such a thing as homeopathic birth control? Seriously, would a homeopath actually claim that one of their sugar pill concoctions could prevent pregnancy?

    I do know one way homeopathy could prevent pregnancy, at least in my world. If I met a woman who believed in homeopathy I’d be so turned off there would be no chance of any activity between us that could possibly lead to conception.

  50. #50 Woo Fighter
    September 14, 2013

    Yes, the comment that I thought was lost did appear after I refreshed too. It was my reply to Chris, referencing Sandra Courtney’s comments about cancer.

    Check out her blog “Fighting For Homeopathy.” She has compiled a list of Tweeters she considers “enemies of homeopathy.” Anyone who has ever Tweeted or blogged anything negative, or replies to her numerous Facebook comments to dispute her claims, makes the list.

    http://fighting-for-homeopathy.blogspot.ca/

    She also screams “censorship” and bitches about Jimmy Wales’s anti-homeopathy stance on Wikipedia.

  51. #51 Chris,
    September 14, 2013

    Woo Fighter: “Something serious or self-limiting?”

    It was psychological, and it ended in suicide. Need I say more?

  52. #52 lilady
    September 14, 2013

    Woo Fighter: Did you lose a comment on RI or on the Science Based Medicine blog…because whenever I post on the SBM blog now, I see it up on the screen but “awaiting moderation” (even if I have no links in the comment).

    The weird thing is if I return to the SBM blog ~ 15 minutes later, it isn’t posted, yet it isn’t up on my laptop screen. It isn’t lost…it will get posted sometime later. I think they are trying to work out some additional problems. It is annoying, especially at night, when it can be hours until it is posted and it is somewhat confusing to follow the comments.

  53. #53 Woo Fighter
    September 14, 2013

    Chris: I am so sorry to hear that. Please accept my condolences. I hope your story can at least prevent the same tragedy befalling someone else.

    Lilady: I haven’t posted on SBM in a few days and haven’t had any problems there. However even as I try to type this message everything keeps “freezing up.” The comment box doesn’t respond to my typing and the cursor won’t move for several seconds, if not longer. This short message has now taken me over five minutes to complete. Maybe it’s because it’s the weekend and RI is tired after a long week!

  54. #54 lilady
    September 14, 2013

    Hi Chris…my belated condolences for your loss.

  55. #55 lilady
    September 14, 2013

    @ Woo Fighter: A sugar pill prevents conception?

    There was this bad joke that didn’t go over too well, made by one of Rick Santorum’s big time benefactors during the 2012 Presidential campaign.

    http://www.politico.com/blogs/burns-haberman/2012/02/foster-friess-in-my-day-gals-put-aspirin-between-their-114730.html

  56. #56 AdamG
    Seattle
    September 14, 2013

    Bastyr is a stain on our city. Thankfully, UW Medicine has remained strictly quack-free.

    On a lighter note, I once went on a date with Bastyr grad who told me he was an ‘empath’ who could ‘sense’ what was wrong with people, and that he didn’t discover his ‘gift’ until his time at Bastyr. Needless to say, it was our only date.

  57. #57 Khani
    September 14, 2013

    The thing is, med students are pretty much busy 24-7 with the classes they have. I know one, and he studies daily, has no time for friends and can’t have a job because there’s no time for it.

    There’s no way a naturopathic doctor could have the same grounding in science *plus* a whole bunch of other things in the same period of time.

    It’s the Doogie Howser problem, really. Whether you’re super-smart or not, med school still takes *time.*

    And if naturopaths are studying homeopathy, they’re obviously not studying something real MDs do.

  58. #58 Krebiozen
    September 14, 2013

    Orac,

    Of course, that’s not all the quackery and pseudoscience in naturopathy, not by a long shot.

    Indeed, there’s the central idea that imaginary toxins, food allergies that don’t show up on conventional allergy tests, dietary sugar or candidiasis, and various unmeasurable nutrient deficiencies and infections are the underlying causes of a wide range of health problems.

    There’s the widespread use of a number of bogus diagnostic techniques such as applied kinesiology, iridology, various forms of electrodiagnosis, hair analysis and live blood analysis. Diagnostics is my field, and the idea of an untested or disproven diagnostic technique being used on patients disgusts and horrifies me in equal measure.

    Then there’s the use of detoxification to remove the aforementioned imaginary toxins via bogus cleansing programs such as colonic irrigation, infrared saunas and liver and kidney cleanses.

    They also use other bogus treatments such as cranial osteopathy, bilateral nasal specific and transrectal electric currents (apparently).

    Not only that, but they have been known to advise patients to reject potentially life-saving conventional medical treatment.

    Any response Katie Baker and Alice Harper? Do you use any of the above? If so, how do you justify it?

    (With thanks to Quackwatch and Kimball Attwood M.D., always reliable guides to the wacky world of naturopathy)

  59. #59 Krebiozen
    September 14, 2013

    This study on breast cancer patients being carried out by Bastyr University is worth keeping an eye on:

    This NIH-NCCAM funded epidemiologic research is being conducted as an observational prospective case-control study of the use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and Integrated Oncology (IO) and their effects on breast cancer patients in community settings.

    Hypothesis: IO services improve patients’ quality of life and decrease cancer recurrence rates in breast cancer patients as compared to women with similar disease states and prognoses who do not receive IO care, and may or may not use CAM treatment on their own.

    It will be interesting to see if this focus on “lifestyle, diet, exercise, and prevention” has any positive effects on patient outcomes. I very much doubt it does.

    I think it is possible that IO may have negative effects on both quality of life and objective outcomes, given the onerous and expensive nature of some naturopathic treatments* and the possibility that some NDs may discourage patients from having “toxic” adjuvant treatments that reduce cancer recurrence rates.

    We shall see in a few years time. It can’t disappear down the memory hole since it is an NIH and NCCAM funded study.

    * I’m thinking of the Gonzalez protocol, not naturopathy but similar, that significantly reduced the quality of life of pancreatic cancer patients due to the constant juicing and enemas involved. It also led to survival on average three times shorter than chemotherapy patients, which I am sure was a function of the effective lack of any treatment, which isn’t an issue in this study.

  60. #60 al kimeea
    www.quackademiology.com
    September 14, 2013

    Naturoquackery is the catch basin of woowu.

    Looking at the Not a Doctor curriculum at Bastyr, there doesn’t appear to be anything wooish, if not for homeoquackery, based on the limited course descriptions. It does offer eastern wu etc., but as additional training.

    The naturoquacks of Canukistan have their woowu integrated and upfront at their Quackwarts.

    “Naturoquackish Manipulation II” involves diagnosing and treating subluxations. While “Wu I” teaches diagnosis/treatment via “Yin/Yang, five elements and Zang-Fu, 8 principles, 6 Pathogenic Factors, Qi, Blood, Body Fluids and 7 emotions, Acupuncture channels, pulse and tongue diagnosis as well as other therapies employed in Traditional Chinese Medicine” – all as working medicinal models not just historical.

    This Quackwarts is licensed and regulated just like Bastyr…

  61. #61 Denice Walter
    September 14, 2013

    ‘ND’ is pronounced “endie”. Enough said.

    At any rate, whilst rifling tnrough the endless comments at the Vaccine Machine’s Facebook page ( it’s worth a look, if you dare), I notice that many of the momsters there recommend NDs because they don’t get all riled up about antivax stances. usually switching to an ND is a way to avoid constant harping on vaccines by SBM folk.

    The old Health Ranger site, which included Mikey’s advice, told followers to leave SBM behind and head straight for the NDs. Similarly, Gary Null scoffs at SBM but finds NDs fine.

    AoA and TMR denizens frequently mention their NDs who apppear to be on the same wavelength as they are and thus are rated as “brilliant” or suchlike.

    So if these creatures like them….

  62. #62 Pareidolius
    An, the Bridge to Total Freedumb™, you can smell the culty goodness from here . . .
    September 14, 2013

    Hmmmm,

    Two commenters show up from Bastyr with nearly boilerplate responses. Not surprising considering how often that place gets slammed by out host and other reality-based scientists. They maybe totally unrelated, but the similarity and timing was . . . Interesting. I tend to be suspicious when lots of posts with similar “voices” show up on a thread. I write and read a good deal of advertising and branding copy every day and we pay close attention to our client’s “voices.” Consistency behind the words, the tone and the personality we create for each client is very important to consistent branding. I wonder if Bastyr gives graduates and faculty “high-road” templates with which to respond to us snarky, negative critics.

    I also probably spend too much time at my other favorite site, tonyortega.com, in the world of crumbling cult of Scientology, where many of our comment threads are infested with cult shills from OSA (their NSA equivalent). Their comments also apply a certain “voice” in response to cult criticism, usually upbeat and positive with a dash of “why are you making Scientology wrong.” For the unfamiliar, Scientology, through it’s front group WISE, is jam packed with DCs, NDs and other quacks and scam artistes. After all it was that pioneer of The Worried Well*, that great expert in everything, L. Wrong Hubbard who once said, “not smoking enough will cause lung cancer.” I cannot even begin to make this stuff up.

    *Hubbard chain-smoked Kools and was so afraid of dentists that his teeth were rotting in his head by his mid 50s. The stench of his breath is legendary among older Sea Org members who knew “The Commodore.” Also known as “Source” or just “LRH”, Hubbard has a fresh pack of Kools sitting in an immaculate office set up for him in every Scientology Org on earth, in case he just drops in to do some very important work. This is in spite of the fact that he’s been dead since 1986.

  63. #63 Daisy
    September 14, 2013

    #16 @Lawrence, If you go see her and want some company, I might go with you.

  64. #64 Lawrence
    September 14, 2013

    @Daisy – I’ll let you know (I’ll post up here as soon as I hear back from her office). Depending on the response from her staff, I would be up for scheduling a “fact-finding” meeting to see exactly why she supports this type of resolution (more than supports – actually brings the resolution to the floor).

  65. #65 Phoenix Woman
    Near the pleasant tundra of TCF Bank Stadium
    September 14, 2013

    I notice that neither of the fake doctors, who were so loquacious earlier back when they seemed to think they could intimidate the regulars here with bulldada, have vanished like toilet paper in a rainstorm ever since Chris made his comment back at #42:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2013/09/13/us-senate-has-declared-october-7-to-13-to-be-quackery-week/#comment-280200

  66. #66 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    September 14, 2013

    bulldada

    SubG?

  67. #67 Pareidolius
    September 14, 2013

    Like I said, boiler plate comments from drive-bys. Typical. They’re not interested in having their worldview tested. We’re too threatening to the Worried Well™ (says the former, card carrying Worried Weller™). I know of what I speak.

  68. #68 Ian Musgrave
    Adelaide, Australia
    September 15, 2013

    Dr. Katie said “As a “science” blog, I’m sure you’re aware that over 85% of pharmaceuticals (at last count) are synthetic versions of natural compounds found in plants (statins, anyone?), mainly from the rainforest, but many (such as Taxol from the yew tree and upcoming chemotherapeutic agents from mycology sources) are from the Pacific Northwest.”

    This is almost, but not quite, completely untrue. Statins come from microbes, not plants. Taxol does come from the Pacific Yew tree originally, and was discovered by a concerted effort by medicinal chemists, not naturopaths. Only about 50% of all current drugs are derived, directly or indirectly, for all natural sources (not just plants) the rest are entirely synthetic, having no natural analog. I’m giving a talk on this to the History of Science and Technology group on Monday night, using the exact figure.

  69. #69 Krebiozen
    September 15, 2013

    Phoenix Woman,
    FYI Chris is a she.

  70. #70 LW
    September 15, 2013

    Quoth Katie Baker,

    As a professional who is highly trained in nutrition, exercise, counseling and stress reduction techniques, my skills are integral in addressing the epidemic of chronic illness that drives healthcare costs through the roof in our country.

    Is there an epidemic of chronic illness? Or are there a lot of people growing old and developing problems of old age, or just not dying of chronic illnesses that in the past would have killed them quickly?

  71. #71 Denice Walter
    September 15, 2013

    @ LW:

    Amongst the anti-vaxxers ( AoA, TMR, Canary Party etc), there’s a similar meme circulating: over half of children have a chronic illness; large numbers have MI , LDs or ASDs. Mostly, this is attributed to the increased number of vaccines over the past 30 years or so, but they also indict meds, modern foods, toxins etc. – in short, modernity seems to cause an ‘epidemic’ of chronic illness.

    Your major point is well taken but there’s another:
    we now diagnose, label and treat ( especially psychological/ developmental ) issues that might have been
    dismissed or neglected in the past. As a corollary, the most severe instances of these conditions WERE recognised and those who suffered them were usually not in the public eye, being as they were, invisible, tucked away in institutions.

    SBM ( and psychology) identify and treat milder conditions which were tolerated in the past-e.g. reflux, higher bp, asthma, allergies, anxiety, sleeping problems, problems of attention, depression, mood disorders- BEFORE they become seriously disabling, uncomfortable or life threatening situations. Obviously this is true for diagnoses of cancer and CVD: Orac has written volumes about this, especially on DCIS.

    If you set the bar ( criterion) at a lower level, you’ll get more instances of the condition.

  72. #72 Krebiozen
    September 15, 2013

    LW,

    Is there an epidemic of chronic illness? Or are there a lot of people growing old and developing problems of old age, or just not dying of chronic illnesses that in the past would have killed them quickly?

    I have a few random thoughts on this.

    I think a lot of it is increased life expectancy, but we do have a problem with lifestyle- associated illnesses in the developed world. For example obesity, especially in children, is a problem, and that leads to increased risk of “heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis”. In general our main problems in the developed world are diseases of old age and excess (food, alcohol, drugs of abuse).

    The obvious answer to this is to discourage overeating , underactivity, excessive alcohol, and drug abuse through education, though sadly that often isn’t very successful. Perhaps other means such as taxation of unhealthy foods could be tried, though I’m not a great fan of that idea.

    I wonder if our current attitude to children – keeping them at home instead of letting them run wild as they used to when I was a child – is part of the problem. Some of this is the fear of abduction and abuse, a somewhat exaggerated fear if you look at the statistics. However, as I recall, childhood deaths on the roads have dramatically decreased over the past few decades. I see no easy answers here.

    As an aside, perhaps in the future we can expect humans to have atrophied legs, hugely obese bodies and enormous thumbs. Presumably natural selection will eventually weed out the weaklings who are susceptible to obesity and lack of exercise, and the fittest (fat, lazy unfit people) will survive.

    I do wonder a bit about some of the chemicals we are exposed to in our food and environment generally as a cause of cancer (and other problems, infertility for example), but I suspect the risks are mostly exaggerated, based on what II have read about the very small effects they have on people exposed to large amounts of them (farmers, industrial workers etc.).

    Fears about ‘toxins’ appear to have increased in tandem with the increased sensitivity of methods to detect these substances, in fetal blood and breast milk for example. I am quite certain that breast milk has contained a range of toxic substances for centuries. My overall impression is that our environment is generally cleaner than it has been for several decades, perhaps for centuries.

    There are some exceptions; mercury and lead may have a small but measurable effect on children’s cognitive development (the vast majority of these come from coal burning power stations, not from vaccines, by the way). Lead has been a diminishing problem since it is no longer used in gasoline. Mercury is still a problem, from coal-burning power stations especially in countries with less stringent regulations about emissions. Dioxins and some other pollutants may be a concern, but from my reading on the subject I don’t think any of these are likely to be found to be major causes of chronic disease.

    However, I think we can be certain that naturopathy has little in its repertoire that could help reduce the increasing burden of chronic illness. Perhaps by discouraging patients from getting effective health care they reduce life expectancy and hence chronic illness in their patients (I’m only half joking).

    The best that naturopathy can offer, it seems to me, is to make patients feel better by spending more time with them, making reassuring noises and above all doing something which may be very appealing to ‘the worried well’ (thanks for that term Pareidolius), even if what is being done is useless or worse.

  73. #73 Khani
    September 15, 2013

    #72 Can we not characterize fat people as lazy, please?

  74. #74 AnObservingParty
    September 15, 2013

    @ Denice and Krebiozen,

    Perhaps, also, we see more of these things in children today because, I don’t know, there are more children? Before vaccines, a child with asthma would have had a good chance of being knocked out by a VPD at a very young age. Ditto anaphylactic food allergies. Completely anecdotal, but I know many children and adults who would have died at a young age due to their chronic conditions without modern medicine. Hell, I suffered chronic S. pneumoniae otitis media, rupture and all–they weren’t viral as most are–would I have dies from sepsis or mastoiditis or meningitis had it not been for modern antibiotics? Possibly. And then my anxiety disorder and prehypertension (note: I’m young and completely healthy/fit otherwise, but I have relatively high BP) wouldn’t be counted amongst the rates today now that I’m an adult. Also, my anxiety was diagnosed by a psychiatrist when I was 12, back in the 50s, I would have probably just been a “high-strung, weepy female.” Has anybody looked at/adjusted this increase in diagnoses (aside from ASD) based on diagnostic/population shifts? I honestly don’t know….

    Also, @ Katie Baker, you said As a professional who is highly trained in nutrition, exercise, counseling and stress reduction techniques, my skills are integral in addressing the epidemic of chronic illness that drives healthcare costs through the roof in our country.

    So is my PCP, as an MD. Because general nutrition, exercise, a bit of counseling, and stress reduction are part of being an MD. He also knows when to prescribe pharmaceuticals and when to refer me to a specialist, using science-based-medicine. Because he’s an MD, and he knows the value of general preventative techniques and how the body actually works. I have been counseled in how to maintain my BMI, fitness, and stress levels so I don’t have to go on medication for my prehypertension, yet. But eating well and exercising isn’t going to fix bronchitis, a UTI, or talk me off the ledge. He at least knows that, based on science and such. Why do you assume actual doctors don’t take those things into account, only fake doctors do?

  75. #75 Pareidolius
    September 15, 2013

    ‘zen,
    I wish I could take credit for the moniker, but it goes way back. Very accurate, though.

  76. #76 Denice Walter
    September 15, 2013

    Because I have some time….

    SBM does discuss how lifestyle choices may impact health:
    moderation is advised, smoking, drug use and abuse of alcohol are actively discouraged. Overweight and inactivity are correctly identified as risks: patients are counselled about this in no uncertain terms. Other risks are also a matter of concern ( STDs, inappropriate handling of food, heat/ cold advisories, VPDs, over-exercise, over-work, lack of adequate rest et al).

    HOWEVER if you tune into alt media, you’d hear another tune entirely:
    they say that SBM doesn’t tell people how to minimise health risks; it has no knowledge of nutrition and the benefits of exercise, supplements and “clean living”( i.e. toxin free). Furthermore, it isn’t aware of the risks involved in vaccination, pharmaceuticals and medical procedures. It knows nothing about the effects of stress on health. On and on they riff inventively.

    That’s the jig that they play and they’ve managed to get many people to dance to it.

    I’ve often noted @ RI that woo-meisters think and speak in black-and-white terms- ANY amount of a toxin is dangerous, any lapse in following dietary injunctions CAN be FATAL, a risk of a miliion to one is to be avoided at all costs etc. I have also compared this rigid, all-or-nothing, binary categorical thought process to the patterns observed in young children and others with disorders that affect the eventual achievement of adult, qualified, multi-factored, relational, complex thought and communication through speech. We hear simplified concepts and odd causal attributions as well. Too much to go into here.

    Thus, their lifestyle modiification advice goes overboard:
    their interpretation of “low fat” is practically NO fat; if animal products should be used moderately, they’ll go whole hog vegan; if fruits and vegetables are considered a better choice, they’ll recommend 12 servings a day PLUS smoothies. Supplements are healthy, take a handful. If some raw food is advised, do 85%! If a med has an iota of risk, it should be tossed out. If obesity is problematic in society, all people should become whip thin.

    This is where they really go wild: ‘normal’ might be defined as 10% and under /15% body fat (men and women respectively.) Diets should include only 10% of healthy, woo-approved fats ( not the amount dieticians advise). Calories should be very low ( 1500 or so daily) and fibre very high ( 50 g a day). Exercise is great: do an hour of aerobics every day and 3 sessions of weights per week. AND meditate daily.
    (I’m actually quoting figures I’ve heard at PRN/ NN).

    Thus, in the real world I would be considered athletic and thin/ average ( AND I live in an area with relatively low obesity) but to woo-meisters, I’m overweight. ( I think that they need to look at outline figure human obesity charts like those they have for cats and dogs).

    The rigidity and all-or- none quality remind me a bit of taboo and religious avoidance of impurity. The nature worship fits in as well.

  77. #77 Khani
    September 15, 2013

    Well, SBM doesn’t talk about living “toxin free” like the woo-sters do because the woo definition of toxin takes no account of dose.

    I think if I were chewing on lead paint my SBM doctor would indeed have something to say about it…

  78. #78 Shay
    September 15, 2013

    Ian@#68

    If you publish that talk, I’d be very interested in a link.

    I am trying to find a link to an incidence of parents going overboard on the toxin-free idiocy, where a child on a strict diet of chick-pea milk and salicylate-free vegetables was removed from her home by CPS.

  79. #79 herr doktor bimler
    September 15, 2013
  80. #80 Lucario
    Sunset in SoFla
    September 15, 2013

    Denice Walter @#76:

    All that health advice you mentioned the alt-woos peddle seems a bit extreme. Dangerous, even. I mean, what would really happen if a person decided to go on a very low-calorie, vegan, raw-food diet coupled with heavy exercise for a long time like that? Doesn’t sound like it would be too good on the heart.

  81. #81 Scared Momma
    September 15, 2013

    May I ask a slightly OT question? Can you OD on ‘probiotics’? My sister gives her son (allergies being treated by a chiropractor and a pediatrician, if that is possible) chewable probiotics. She also said they can be found in dark chocolate. Aren’t probiotics ‘alive’? Like in yogurt? Is it even useful to take pills or eat chocolate to get probiotics in your system?

  82. #82 Denice Walter
    September 15, 2013

    @ Lucario:

    You are correct but I think that this type of regimen is so extreme that very few people can maintain it for long:
    our species has a built-in survival mechanism otherwise known as “HUNGER, exhaustion and boredom”.

    Which brings us to the whole question of woomeistery and eating disorders..see Orthorexia.

    -btw- one woo is creating a spa and alt med centre in Texas wherein one can starve and exercise to one’s heart’s content, beyond all rationality, as penance for not being as perfect as the Maestro.

    There are photos of this Woo Palace @ Gary Null.com ( see Friends and Family Retreat July 2013)

  83. #83 AnObservingParty
    September 15, 2013

    Scared Momma,

    Probiotics are live bacteria, most of which we have naturally occurring already in our gut, the theory is augmenting that necessary bacteria that may have been reduced for one reason or another. I don’t know if you can “overdose” but I know we don’t allow probiotics in our bone marrow transplant patients due to an overwhelming risk of infection from the bacteria they already have. I think there’s been some research on probiotic use for those with recurrent C. diff, and my doctor did order me some of those attune chocolate bars for a bad spell of irregularity after a cipro prescription, with a warning of, “some small preliminary evidence, at the very least it won’t hurt you.” Eventually I got back on track but he was hesitant to say it was strictly the bars. I honestly don’t know if there’s any decent literature on too much probiotics in a normal population.

  84. #84 Scared Momma
    September 15, 2013

    Thank you AOP, I know you can take too much of one vitamin, like D, so I was just wondering how the bacteria would work. That is interesting on the bone marrow transplant though. My nephew does get sick quite often, mostly pneumonia, so I think she is hoping to ‘restore’ his good bacteria from using anti-biotics. Thank you so much for the information.

  85. #85 Lancelot Link
    September 15, 2013

    A friend of my mother’s refused to eat any food that was claimed to be “unhealthy’” (by the CSPI, if I remember correctly). She became bedridden and almost died of malnutrition.

  86. #86 Krebiozen
    September 15, 2013

    Khani,

    Can we not characterize fat people as lazy, please?

    I wasn’t. I was referring to people who are fat and lazy and unfit. Sorry if that was unclear. I was suggesting that these are the people who will one day rule the world, so I don’t really see it as offensive, but apologies if any was caused.

  87. #87 Krebiozen
    September 15, 2013

    Scared Momma,
    There are probiotics which are normal gut flora, and there are prebiotics which are the sugars that we cannot digest that feed them. I suspect the latter is what your sister was referring to.

    It amuses me, because these are the sugars that are found in beans and jerusalem artichokes, inulin for example, which make it to the large intestine undigested and unabsorbed and feed bacteria there, generating hydrogen, methane and flatulence.

    The same health food store that sells enzymes you can add to beans to reduce flatulence will very likely be selling, on the same ‘digestive health’ shelf, prebiotic pills that contain the very same sugars that the ‘Beano’, or whatever, is designed to break down.

    I suppose that’s the closest we’re going to get to a science-based fart joke.

  88. #88 AnObservingParty
    September 15, 2013

    Krebiozen, I have never in my life heard of a PREbiotic until now. Well, I have heard of them, I have just never heard of them referred to as prebiotics. Here I just though it was “food that makes me gassy.”

  89. #89 lsm
    September 15, 2013

    @76: Denise Walter’s comment that although she is fit she would be considered overweight by woo standards got me thinking about the people I know (there are many) who are obsessed with alt med eating guidelines. Some are somewhat thin, many are slightly overweight, and a few are obese. In other words, hiS

  90. #90 lsm
    September 15, 2013

    Sorry, trying to type on a kindle. In other words, they are just like everybody else. It would be interesting to know if there really is a difference between the two groups.

  91. #91 Scared Momma
    September 15, 2013

    @Krebiozen, Oh my. Thank you for that further explanation. That makes so much more sense now. I have heard of prebiotics, (infant formula), but did not put 2 and 2 together. But I like AoP’s simple definition much better :)

  92. #92 Ken
    September 15, 2013

    My head keeps trying to fit this to Tom Lehrer’s “National Brotherhood Week,” but it’s not gelling.

  93. #93 Khani
    September 16, 2013

    #86 It’s fine. I’m maybe a little oversensitive, but it honestly feels like fat people are the last people it’s totally fine to make fun of, and it gets very tiring for those of us who really can’t do a lot about it.

    Seriously, when I ate right and exercised daily, I was still fat, and judging by my entire family, that’s never gonna change. And if it did, I would look like a lollipop anyway, with my gigantic head. Some people are just meant to be big.

    The difference is, when I was exercising I felt better, slept better and was generally happier. And probably healthier. But still, unfortunately, fat.

    Getting an eating disorder or dangerous illness would be about the only way to change that, and frankly, it’s not worth it.

    Might as well try to be healthy-fat instead.

  94. #94 Krebiozen
    September 16, 2013

    Khani,

    I’m maybe a little oversensitive, but it honestly feels like fat people are the last people it’s totally fine to make fun of, and it gets very tiring for those of us who really can’t do a lot about it.

    I understand. I wasn’t intending to make fun of anyone; I was pointing out (in a light-hearted manner I admit) that the human environment in the developed world has changed to one in which many of us don’t get much exercise and we are able to eat to excess on a regular basis. Through natural selection we might eventually adapt to this new environment, either by metabolizing calories quicker, or by developing resistance to the problems that obesity currently leads to e.g. stronger joints, resistance to insulin resistance, more efficient DNA repair mechanisms. It depends on how this affects our reproductive effectiveness I suppose.

    Khani,

    I’m maybe a little oversensitive, but it honestly feels like fat people are the last people it’s totally fine to make fun of, and it gets very tiring for those of us who really can’t do a lot about it.

    I understand. I wasn’t intending to make fun of anyone; I was pointing out (in a light-hearted manner I admit) that the human environment in the developed world has changed to one in which many of us don’t get much exercise and we are able to eat to excess on a regular basis. Through natural selection we might eventually adapt to this new environment, either by metabolizing calories quicker, or by developing resistance to the problems that obesity currently leads to e.g. stronger joints, resistance to insulin resistance, more efficient DNA repair mechanisms. It depends on how this affects our reproductive effectiveness I suppose.

    Might as well try to be healthy-fat instead.

    It sounds like you already are.

  95. #95 Krebiozen
    September 16, 2013

    Sorry about the hiccup.

  96. #96 Khani
    September 16, 2013

    I’m not healthy-fat anymore, unfortunately. Due primarily to my schedule now being a nightmare, I stopped exercising and while I haven’t gained much weight, relatively, I *have* gotten unhealthy, and that’s bad.

    The thing is, I don’t look much different than I did. There’s virtually no external difference to then and now, and I was still considered obese then. Still thought fat, still actually kinda… fat. My legs were actually bigger then, with an extra layer of muscle under the fat.

    It’s really discouraging to find out that no matter what you do, unless you literally starve yourself, you’re just gonna be fat by society’s standards, even if you do the same amount of work and eat even less than thin people people do.

    It’s that Germanic blood–I guess Valkyries have to be big to fling a sword and shield around.

    You’ve motivated me to start going to the gym again, though, so there’s that. I miss being able to put in my air conditioner by myself and being able to arm-wrestle men.

  97. #97 Chris Hickie
    September 16, 2013

    Katie Baker’s web site has some interesting links to articles she has penned for the local paper

    1.http://www.ballardnewstribune.com/2009/04/26/features/healthy-balance-preventing-spread-disease . Interesting because everything under the sun BUT flu vaccine is listed for things you can do to decrease your chance of getting the flu.

    2. http://www.ballardnewstribune.com/2009/05/05/features/healthy-balance-ears-you-mrs-robinson . Here we learn that microwaving an onion (cut in half to make “earmuffs”) until it is hot enough to release its “volatile oils” which somehow, (even though you’re holding each onion wrapped in cheesecloth an inch from your child’s ear) allows these oils to permeate your child’s eardrum and kill those bacteria on the inner side of the eardrum.

    When I read things like this, no amount of “I’m the same type of healthcare provider as you, only different” is going to sway me.

  98. #98 Shay
    Cookie-faehig
    September 16, 2013

    Danke, herr Doktor.

  99. #99 Krebiozen
    September 16, 2013

    Khani,

    It’s really discouraging to find out that no matter what you do, unless you literally starve yourself, you’re just gonna be fat by society’s standards, even if you do the same amount of work and eat even less than thin people people do.

    I say f*ck society’s standards, and don’t be discouraged. I wonder if much of the association between “obesity” and ill health is due to confounders anyway – many people are overweight because of an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise, not Valkyric genes.

    If you are getting a reasonable amount of moderate exercise and eating more plants than meat, you are probably in better shape than those stick insects that pass for role models these days. Seriously, some of them look as if they would suffer multiple fractures if they fell off their high heels, and as Denice has pointed out, many of them use cigarettes as appetite suppressants. You’re better off pleasantly plump as I’m sure you are.

    Being underweight isn’t good for you either. I was a vegetarian (almost, I never quit eating the occasional prawn) for several years* for ethical reasons, but I was underweight and unhealthy, and ultimately started eating meat in an effort ot improve my health reasons. It worked, I put on weight and my health improved dramatically.**

    * I had been vegetarian for seven years when I was younger, which ended when I was misheard in a burger bar and was served a beefburger instead of a beanburger. It was so delicious I went on a meat binge for a couple of years.

    ** Eventually it turned out the Giardia I had picked up in Egypt hadn’t been completely wiped out by the Flagyl I was prescribed, and I required a longer course of heavy duty anti-protozoal drugs.

  100. #100 Krebiozen
    September 16, 2013

    Damn typos – “in an effort to improve my health”.

  101. #101 Steve
    Maine
    September 16, 2013

    Modern Medicine accounts for 225,000 deaths per year…Americans are discovering that this is the real “Quackery.”

  102. #102 JGC
    September 16, 2013

    Given the number of medications created from natural sources, to say that natural medicine is ineffective is a specious argument, at best.

    What you’re describing, however, isn’t naturopathy–it’s entirely science-based pharmacognosy. (And as others have pointed out, your 85% figure is hyperbole.)

    If you’re interested in reading up on our profession’s contributions to health care, there was a study in Vermont by Dr. Bernie Noe, in which a preventive medicine care program saved its participants $21 in DIRECT health care costs for every $1 spent on the program…As a professional who is highly trained in nutrition, exercise, counseling and stress reduction techniques, my skills are integral in addressing the epidemic of chronic illness that drives healthcare costs through the roof in our country.

    Surely you’re not under the impression that preventive medicine is a concept unique to naturopathy, or that naturopaths are uniquely trained in nutrition, exercise, etc? Every MD I’ve ever seen has practiced preventive medicine and addressed nutrition, exercise, weight control, lifestyle changes, etc.

  103. #103 Denice Walter
    September 16, 2013

    @ Khani:

    Hey, can Kate Moss fling a sword? I would think not.

    If you follow women’s tennis, you’ll notice that the reigning number one seed is a powerful, muscular person who has curves etc. Even her more willowy-looking top rivals are not stick figures ( they’re mostly from Eastern Europe and blonde- see images of women’s tennis).

    My general belief is that it’s more important what you DO rather than what you ARE. Abilities over labels.

    I would advise that it’s better to seek out measurable, physical goals that you can track rather than weight or BMI, etc. Can you follow an exercise tape for X minutes at a reasonable rate? Heart rate, time, etc. Can you improve your current level to the extent that you can do more RL activities that you like or need to do?

    My own measurable external system has two parts:

    we have tennis instructors- we have to hit against them and they gradually increase their power – so perhaps last year, I hit until he gets to 60% of his power and now I get to 65%- they tell you when you improve or rate you. Their standards are very high: they never flatter you because there are not the only people who play/ instruct tennis ( if they over-rated you, they’d be unprofessional and you’d find out about it VERY quickly by playing other people.)

    My other external gauge consists of clothing that I bought long ago and have saved for that express purpose, esp a c. 1985 pair of Calvin jeans. I also have an eponymous men’s shirt of the same vintage that I wear occasionally ands a 2000s quasi-dinner jacket. If these items fit, I’m fine.

    And I do have to watch it because I probably have some Valkyrie genes as well: I have a moderate-sized frame. Like Kreb, I also once was too thin ( much going on in my life at once) and wasn’t very healthy. I also tried vegetarianism briefly ( not in the same time period as the ultra thin-ness).

    I should mention that I find the alt med focus on being slim and the thinly veiled insults they fling at everyone else rather despicable ( I could cite many examples) but what would you expect from charlatans and self-centred frauds anyway? Decency?

  104. #104 Khani
    September 16, 2013

    I don’t bother tracking weight, as for me, it wasn’t about looks anyway. It’s about feeling good and sleeping better, and being able to dry my hair without being tired from holding my arms up so long.

    It’s just a point I like to make: not all fat people are unhealthy, and your genes have a *lot* of control over what you look like even if you exercise and eat right.

    Poverty is also a factor, not so much for me, but you will notice that obesity and all its health problems are endemic to poor areas in the US. And I do have to admit I’m much more likely to buy a 60 cent donut than a $4 container of fresh watermelon, even though I actually like the watermelon better.

    I don’t even like goals. I just go swimming every day and tell myself it’s for fun, not for exercise, and I like it enough that I can fool myself out of avoidance.

    The big thing is, I will *still be obese.* Even if I make it to my goal, which is to be a size 16 again (instead of a 20/22)? Still obese. Still fat. Still gonna get reamed out by my doctor every time I go in about diet and exercise. (Yes, woo-sters, legitimate doctors do INDEED care about these things and address them! Your woo-tors are lying to you about this!)

    Yet if I got down past that into the “proper” height-weight index, my head would look like a planetoid and my gigantic bones (my wrists are huuuuuge) would make me look like some sort of bizarre scarecrow zombie thing. The chart doesn’t take any account of different body types at all.

    Sad thing is, my brother takes after the other side of the family. He lived on donuts and doritos for the longest time and stayed thin as a rail. He’s only changed his diet for the better since he started going to med school. Because he learned about nutrition there.

    And he’s still rail-thin.

    … I know I get ranty, and the alt-med crowd is soooo much worse about this than we are. Sorry. >.<

    I might be a lard-butt, but I'd still rather be me than thin, beautiful alleged-health-nut Jenny McCarthy. Who *smokes.*

  105. #105 Lawrence
    September 16, 2013

    Damn, I got a very “vanilla” response back from the Senator….time to call her staff and schedule an in-person meeting.

  106. #106 novalox
    September 16, 2013

    @steve

    [citation needed]

  107. #107 Scared Momma
    September 16, 2013

    @Khani, good for you! That is amazing you dropped 6 sizes! I am not healthy at all, and I can feel it. It’s nice to see your effort in ‘pounds’ instead of, oh I can breathe while going up the stairs, but the pounds aren’t the important part. There does need to be a new way to address ‘obesity’, and not purely on BMI. I get angry when the woo crowd accuses doctors of not seeing the ‘whole person’. If your doctor isn’t concerned in all of you, then you need to find a new doctor, not go holistic. Good luck to you Khani! Stay positive! You have given me the incentive to start being healthier.

    Oh, and where in the world are you buying a container of watermelon for 4$? My local mart is around $1.70-ish. precut, pre-packaged.

  108. #108 Khani
    September 16, 2013

    I *haven’t* dropped 6 sizes. I had dropped about 4 before I began backsliding. 24 to 20. Now I’m back up to 22, but thanks to Krebs I went to the Y today for the first time in three months. And am now eating broccoli in my otherwise perfectly good pasta.

    I wish I didn’t hate veggies so much. Question: do you guys think a food dehydrator would change the texture enough so that veggies wouldn’t have that weird gooshy texture? I’m thinking about investing in one to be able to make less sugary dried fruit (really, it *does not need* so much dang sugar, much like tortilla chips *do not need* so dang much salt). Then it occurred to me: if it changed the texture of veggies I hate, I could eat veggies I hate!

    The watermelon is at my local supermarket, precut, prepackaged, and it is something like $3.89 when in season. When not, it is more. Aggravating, because it is so good, and so much healthier than a dumb old donut.

  109. #109 Politicalguineapig
    September 16, 2013

    Khani: Might as well try to be healthy-fat instead.

    Hear, hear. I’m already chafing because I have a very, very mild sprain and have to baby my ankle for a couple of days. Grr…

  110. #110 palindrom
    September 17, 2013

    Reading about all this weight stuff reminds me of how remarkably much variation there is in humans — I totally respect scientific medicine, but sometimes the tendency of practicing doctors to stereotype can be at least amusing (and can no doubt be a factor in driving people to the local naturopath, who is probably sure you are just so …. special!).

    An amusing example: I have a childhood acquaintance who is immense — he topped out well above 6 feet 6 inches, and he has massive bones. An optimal weight for him might be something like 280 pounds. As a near-oldster, he’s suffered from various disabilities, sleep apnea, diabetic tendencies, and the like, and now weighs well above 400 pounds. But he’s not super-fat — he’s obviously overweight, but not at all exceptional. His eyebrow-raising weight arises from rather too much fat on a gigantic frame.

    Now, EVERY time he sees a doctor, he is lectured that his weight puts him at risk for high blood pressure. He has NEVER ONCE in many decades had a blood pressure measurement out of normal range. But he gets the lecture all the same. Do these folks ever read their charts? One wonders sometimes.

  111. #111 Daisy
    September 17, 2013

    change the texture enough so that veggies wouldn’t have that weird gooshy texture?

    @Khani, You and I, we’ll be exercise buddies. Do I understand that you like pasta but not gooshy veggies? Isn’t pasta also gooshy?

  112. #112 Scared Momma
    September 17, 2013

    @Khani, I am sorry I read that wrong with your sizes, but even one is great. Very hard to do. I don’t have a food dehydrator, but I assume it would be much better for you than buying dried food, it has so much added sugar. Then you could buy the fruit at peak, cheaper prices, then eat it all year. I am very lucky where we live, we have a chain of stores that is known for its fresh, affordable produce. My current ‘trying to be healthy’ is adding beans/fiber to what I am making.

    @palindrom Same with my husband. He is 6′, 300lbs, low blood pressure. His sister runs every day, probably BMI of 18 and has to take blood pressure meds at 30. And his older brother works out every day, eats tofu, and still is high risk on their insurance.

  113. #113 Militant Agnostic
    Back home with a busted dif and 300 km from wherever my driveshaft landed.
    September 18, 2013

    LW

    Is there an epidemic of chronic illness?

    Well the NDs and their ilk have created an epidemic of invented diseases, many of them chronic.

    Pariedolius

    Hubbard has a fresh pack of Kools sitting in an immaculate office set up for him in every Scientology Org on earth, in case he just drops in to do some very important work. This is in spite of the fact that he’s been dead since 1986.

    It is people like that who make you realize how little you have accomplished. For Example when Mozart was my age he had been dead for two years.

    Tom Lehrer

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