quackinvasion

I realize that I risk getting repetitive by writing about this again, but it’s a rich vein that just keeps on producing and producing. It also demonstrates that, for every tragedy as huge as the ongoing Ebola outbreak that has killed over 5,000 people in West Africa thus far, there always exist well-meaning people who are into such utter quackery that they can’t help but risk making things worse. In my talk at Skepticon on Saturday I discussed how The Secret’s Law of Attraction is, to my mind, the Central Dogma of Alternative Medicine, the idea that, if you want something bad enough and wish for it hard enough, you will attract it to you and the universe will somehow provide. I gave many examples. I also pointed out that the flip side of The Secret is how, if positive thinking can cure you (hence the Central Dogma of Alternative Medicine), then that must mean failure to get better is due to negative thoughts. Heck, even getting sick in the first place must mean that you brought it on yourself.

I don’t believe the people of Liberia and Sierra Leone, for instance, brought Ebola upon themselves. Unfortunately, in a sort of “Secret”-like way, the suffering and horror of dying of a deadly infectious disease has attracted like (quacks who will cause more suffering) to themselves.

Last week, at the end of a post about homeopaths continuing to invade these countries to offer their useless watery nostrums to people suffering from a virus with a 50% case fatality rate even with the best care and an up to 90% case fatality rate in essentially untreated people, I noted that another practitioner of dubious medicine, a man by the name of Robert Rowan, was heading to Sierra Leone to ply his particular brand of quackery on hapless Africans suffering from Ebola. To recap:

We will oversee the training and treatment by our trainees. We will be teaching them everything Dr. Robins knows about the Robins Method of DIV Ozone Therapy gained over the past 23 years. I will teach them everything else about ozone and other oxidation therapies, and every other method of delivery, from rectal to joints. We will prepare them to receive ultraviolet blood irradiation therapy if that equipment follows us.

So, basically, Dr. Rowan was heading to Africa to teach African doctors how to do ozone therapy quackery. The press release announcing his trip was dated October 15. What’s happened since then. Unfortunately, over the weekend while I was away at Skepticon, I found out.

Ultraviolet blood irradiation is one of the dumber forms of alternative medicine out there, as is IV ozone therapy. They’re often combined. In any case, if you see the actual devices, you’ll understand even better why this is such a ridiculous and scientifically implausible therapy, and, in fact, the Wikipedia page on UV blood irradiation has pictures of some of these devices, which range from an IV catheter that goes in a vein on the forearm and is usually attached to a small laser, producing a nice red glow under the skin. Another version is the “intranasal” version, and, yes, it is exactly what its name implies. It’s a red laser light that is inserted into one of the nostrils and…oh, hell, I can’t resist showing you the picture because it’s so ridiculous:

633px-NoseApp2S
NoseApp2S” by HemalOwn work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Yes, basically it’s a small laser light that you stick in your nose and use tape to hold in place. The rationale is that the light will have access to the rich vascular plexus in the nasal mucosa, where the blood vessels are close to the surface. Of course, even the relatively thin epithelial lining of the nasal cavity is enough to stop UV Sometimes, the “irradiation” occurs through the skin. Of course, one can’t help but note that the particular laser irradiation of the blood shown in the Wikipedia article is not ultraviolet at all, given that the laser shown is a 1–3 mW helium–neon laser at a wavelength operating at 632.8 nm. That’s well within the visible spectrum towards the red end, hence the color. One can understand why this must be, because UV radiation is far more energetic than radiation towards the red end of the visible spectrum. Using actual UV lasers in the nose might produce the results desired, if you know what I mean.

The variety of devices claiming to radiate the blood for therapeutic effect is huge. A Google Image search for such devices brings up a veritable cornucopia of images of questionable devices, some of which are just laser lights at the end of a catheter, but some of which involve removing blood from the body, irradiating it with a UV light, and reinfusing it. By far the most common, however, appears to be the little catheter that sits in the the cephalic vein (one of the veins near the crease of your elbow) and glows its little glowing light.

The funny thing about UV blood irradiation is that there was a bit of a craze for it in medicine a few decades back, with a bunch of papers published. Its purported mechanism of actions included bactericidal effects, which no doubt UV light can produce. It’s used to sterilize. Of course, the reason it’s not used in people is because it’s rather nonspecific; it causes tissue damage, as anyone as pasty white as I am can attest after having spent too much time in the sun. Aloe was my friend. Unfortunately, it was not enough. Yikes. Then there are the usual other “explanations” for how UV blood irradiation “works,” such as detoxification, increased oxygenation (which is the same claim as intravenous ozone therapy, or, as it usually is in practice, intravenous peroxide therapy), photosensitization, and others.

In any case, UV irradiation therapy has a long history that started out reasonable, given the science understood at the time, as Mark Crislip describes, and then descended into the nonsense we see today. After all, it was first observed over 100 years ago that cutaneous tuberculosis could be treated with UV light. Unfortunately, light being light and all that, not to mention UV light not having much penetration beyond the skin, direct exposure of the blood to UV radiation would be needed if any purported healing effects were to occur. It is also difficult to envision a mechanism by which irradiating a tube of a patient’s blood and then reinfusing that blood could produce a therapeutic effect, just as it’s difficult to come up with a plausible mechanism by which shining a light in a vein in the arm could irradiate enough blood to have an effect even if there were an effect from irradiating the blood. As Mark Crislip put it, color me skeptical that irradiating such a small amount of blood could have beneficial effects on such a wide range of diseases with such disparate pathophysiologies, particularly given that the medical literature, such as it exists out there, gives no real support to using UV blood irradiation.

As for IV ozone therapy, that is a therapy that’s even more ridiculous, but it is of a piece with UV blood irradiation in that in Rowan’s world both are “oxidative therapies,” in which the oxygen content of the blood is supposedly increased. There’s no evidence that UV radiation does that, although ozone therapy will do so, but trivially. The reason is that the vast majority of the oxygen in the blood is carried by hemoglobin, which is usually maximally saturated. Under the best of circumstances, taking all these sorts of claims at face value, all getting ozone or hydrogen peroxide into the blood would do would be to increase the concentration of dissolved oxygen in the blood. However, that wouldn’t really do much, as I explained in detail in a post from 2006 about “oxygenated” water. Same rationale, different oxygen quackery.

Yet UV blood irradiation and IV ozone therapy are the “oxidation” therapies that Dr. Rowan uses, and now he’s claimed to have cured a patient with Ebola! Science, right! Let’s see if you can figure out why this anecdote is not nearly as convincing as it’s being portrayed in a press release entitled Rapid Ebola Infection Cure, November 22, 2014. Basically, on November 14 a physician at an Ebola treatment center suffered a needle stick injury from a needle that had been used on a patient with Ebola. Now here’s the anecdote:

Dr. Rowen was informed of the needle stick on Sunday November 16, 2014, but was not advised that symptoms had yet developed. Rowen sent back instructions to treat him preventively and immediately with the protocol, believing the exposed doctor to be at great risk for symptoms to develop within 5 days. Dr. Robins, informed shortly after, concurred with the preventive protocol and urgency of treatment.

Unbeknownst to Dr. Rowen, symptoms did develop on day 2 (Sunday November 16) -the doctor reported high fever, loss of appetite, abdominal distress, and significant fatigue, which symptoms were rapidly progressing, classic signs of Ebola. Treatment began the third day after the needle-stick.

After just 2 days of treatment (November 18, 2014), all symptoms were gone.. The doctor chose not to get an Ebola blood test at the time. A positive test would have mandated forced confinement in an Ebola treatment center where he would have been denied the ozone therapy. He believed this would likely have cost him his life, as the best clinics in Sierra Leone have a 60% death rate.

Rowen and Robins did not want to wait for a positive test, which can take several days to occur, believing the earlier this life-taking viral infection is aggressively treated, the higher the chances of recovery. Active treatment will be maintained for at least 10 days with reduced frequency for 7 days thereafter.

The first thing I noticed about this testimonial is that Ebola symptoms showed up very rapidly (on day 2). Ebola symptoms can show up that rapidly, the time frame reported by the CDC generally being between 2 and 21 days, with an average of 8 to 10 days after exposure; so right away this looks a bit fast to be Ebola, but (barely) within the usually reported window. The second thing I noticed is that there is no confirming evidence that this physician ever actually had Ebola in the first place, as he refused to be tested. Reading this, I wondered: Would the authorities in Sierra Leone actually give the doctor any choice in the matter? He had a needle stick injury, followed by a fever and GI symptoms, even if those symptoms were a bit soon after the needle stick injury to be classic Ebola. Actually, come to think of it, any physician who had a needle stick from an Ebola-contaminated needle would be expected to undergo testing for the virus a few days later, just as any health care professional in the US who suffers a needle stick injury from a needle contaminated with, say, hepatitis B or C would be offered testing for those diseases.

But let’s say this doctor didn’t report the needle stick, which, reading between the lines, I suspect is what happened. Otherwise, one would think that his failure to show up for work on November 17 would have been a big red flag waved at his colleagues that he might have been infected with Ebola after his needle stick exposure. If that’s true, how freakin’ irresponsible can a physician be not to report something so critical, especially if he started feeling sick? Rowan reports that the mortality from Ebola is 60%, in the Ebola wards but untreated the mortality is more like 90%. In any case, most likely what happened is that this physician’s symptoms were a self-limited viral disease that happened to occur the day after he suffered a needle stick and lasted only a couple of days, after which he got better. That’s far more plausible an explanation than the claim that ozone therapy somehow prevented the Ebola infection from developing after exposure.

There’s another scary aspect to this story. The press release was dated November 22. That’s only eight days after the needle stick is reported to have occurred. Ebola symptoms can begin as long as 21 days later. This physician, his reliance on ozone therapy quackery notwithstanding, is anything but out of the woods yet. I haven’t (yet) been able to find an update. Heck, even on Rowan’s Facebook page, a reader of his press release noted:

It’s not good that there’s no proof he had Ebola but I’m glad he’s cured! Hopefully he’ll now have the antibodies that will make his work safer.

Another commenter simply shrugged his shoulders and wrote:

Great news! No problem getting confirmation of his infection, there is no shortage of other Ebola patients there so you can get one with a valid Ebola dx! Hoping you get one documented eventually, otherwise it will be poo-pooed.

Yes, sadly there are many Ebola patients right now for Brave Maverick Doctors like Dr. Rowan to experiment upon as they “fight” for the right to use their quackery, as Rowan describes elsewhere:

Please know that this was a JOINT mission between Dr. Howard Robins and myself. I stayed 2 extra days which were well worth it to stand up to the political turmoil that happened when government ministers obstructed treatments at the Ebola center. I sure hope the people of the world will begin to stand up to the forces of disease-maintenance evil that has taken over the world to pharm us. All of us together can change the history of the world. Please, all of you reading these pages, help us do this.

To me, it sounds as though those unnamed government ministers were the ones really fighting to help Ebola patients, by trying to keep the quacks away.

Comments

  1. #1 palindrom
    November 25, 2014

    The earlier quack-invasion post attracted an indignant comment defending Rowan; that commenter linked he excerpt quoted in the present post. A number of us, uh, questioned this at the time.

    Also, thanks for the information on the blood-irradiation therapies, and the deliciously comic picture of the guy with the laser up his nose (and for pointing out that 632 nm is not ultraviolet — facepalm). Your commentary shed quite a bit of light on the subject.

  2. #2 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    November 25, 2014

    “And now for something completely different: a man with a tape recorder up his nose.”

    That was the irresistible thought running through my mind as I saw that picture. 😀 I’ll go read the rest of the article now.

  3. #3 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    November 25, 2014

    I betcha anything that if that doctor does develop Ebola, we won’t hear a word of it from his quack buddies.

  4. #4 Denice Walter
    November 25, 2014

    ” the little catheter…glows its little glowing light”

    Think of how that might work for raves.

  5. #5 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    November 25, 2014

    high fever, loss of appetite, abdominal distress, and significant fatigue

    Hmm…non-specific symptoms that also happen to occur as a result of eating improperly cooked foods or, say, drinking untreated water in a different country (drinking, brushing teeth, eating fresh fruit/veggies washed with tap water, etc.). Lacking any test to confirm the diagnosis, food poisoning seems a likely alternate explanation, especially considering the rapid onset of symptoms and relatively fast resolution.

    Anyone happen to know the infectious dose for Ebola virus? Depending on the severity of the needle stick, he may not have gotten a large enough dose to cause disease, or he has yet to develop symptoms and what he experienced was a coincidental illness.

  6. #6 Eric Lund
    November 25, 2014

    the deliciously comic picture of the guy with the laser up his nose

    Call him Rudolph.

    @palindrom: The next time somebody on your “pre-health” committee advocates reducing the amount of physics such students should take, you can point to this device as evidence that on the contrary, our health professionals aren’t learning enough physics. Somebody who can’t distinguish between a red laser and UV light should not be working for a hospital in any capacity, including as janitor.

  7. #7 Rich Woods
    November 25, 2014

    @Todd #5:

    Anyone happen to know the infectious dose for Ebola virus?

    1-10 organisms by aerosol, lower by blood infection. Now that’s nasty.

  8. #8 herr doktor bimler
    November 25, 2014

    Let’s see if you can figure out why this anecdote is not nearly as convincing as it’s being portrayed in a press release entitled Rapid Ebola Infection Cure, November 22, 2014.

    That’s putting an awful lot of effort into a self-congratulatory (self-adulating?) advertisement on a grifter’s website.

  9. #9 herr doktor bimler
    November 25, 2014

    “And now for something completely different: a man with a tape recorder up his nose.”

    I’ve got a ferret sticking up my nose
    And what is worse it constantly explodes.

  10. #10 Derek Freyberg
    November 25, 2014

    @ #9:
    And from the same part of the world and more or less the same time, Judith Durham and The Seekers – “This Little Light of Mine”.

  11. #11 weirdnoise
    November 25, 2014

    That picture, especially given the “patient’s” uber-serious expression, is just hilarious! Given the size, the nose-light is probably a diode laser or just a red LED, but in those cases the wavelength would still be 650-630nm, and thus very very red. They actually make LEDs in the near-UV, I wonder why they wouldn’t use those? What am I saying — nonsense plus nonsense is still only nonsense. Perhaps they think that nasal tissue has some frequency-doubling properties.

    I have to say, though, that it looks like it might be alien technology that would be used on UFO abductees.

  12. #12 herr doktor bimler
    November 25, 2014

    The rationale is that the light will have access to the rich vascular plexus in the nasal mucosa
    No optical enema? I am disappointed.

  13. #13 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    November 25, 2014

    No optical enema?

    What, you want them to put their laser where the sun does not shine?

  14. #14 Viggen
    November 25, 2014

    I haven’t (yet) been able to find an update.

    Dr. Rowan might not be so forthcoming with updates if the fellow actually presents with Ebola.

  15. #15 Shay
    November 25, 2014

    If there’s a virologist onboard, correct me — but what we are hearing (in public health) is that the vomiting and diarrhea show up 3-4 days afterthe initial spike in fever. That, together with the quack’s refusal to be tested, should make anyone suspicious of this alleged cure.

  16. #16 herr doktor bimler
    November 25, 2014

    What, you want them to put their laser where the sun does not shine?

    The Optical Enema crosses the streams of woo. I am surprised that none of the usual suspects are marketing it already.

  17. #17 Dorothy
    Oz--the other one
    November 25, 2014

    I’d love to see what that little red light would produce if attached to an anal probe–as in “the aliens took me to their ship and probed me”.

    Question? Are the “Dr”s in this piece MD’s or just diploma mill supposed PhD’s?

  18. #18 herr doktor bimler
    November 25, 2014

    I do not want to know about their ‘rectal ozone therapy’.

  19. #19 Narad
    November 25, 2014

    I do not want to know about their ‘rectal ozone therapy’.

    I don’t believe you for a moment.

  20. #20 Narad
    November 25, 2014

    If there’s a virologist onboard, correct me — but what we are hearing (in public health) is that the vomiting and diarrhea show up 3-4 days after the initial spike in fever.

    IANAV. From 2011, “All reports agree that Marburg and Ebola HF patients become ill abruptly with a variety of nonspecific signs and symptoms, including fever, chills, fatigue, headache, myalgia, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.”

    This one is apropos for more than one reason, though: “For example, the incubation period after a needlestick injury with Ebola Sudan virus was 6 days [35], and it was 7 days for a similar exposure to Ebola Zaire virus [32].”

    I regret to report that [32] is from Инфекционные болезни.

  21. #21 Woo Fighter
    November 26, 2014

    I was going to post this response to “Herb’s” indignant and very defensive comment on the other Ebola thread questioning how we could possibly call Dr. Rowen a quack.

    Even if this Ebola thing had not come up, all you need to know to correctly call Rowen a quack, many times over, can be found on his website. On the “Services” page we learn “Dr. Rowen was trained in acupuncture and Chinese medical philosophy, including the meridian system. Dr. Su (his partner) actively practices acupuncture. Knowledge of Chinese medicine can help diagnose and treat “mysterious” ailments.”

    Uh-huh. I smell a duck. Let’s read on, shall we? This is getting good.

    “We also offer cold laser therapy, pulsating electromagnetic field therapy, and other forms of energy medicine which can assist in the regulation of your cells. We are excited to announce we now offer the highly advanced therapies for eye diseases Inclusive of macular degeneration) pioneered by our friend and colleague, Ed Kondrot, MD. (www.healingtheeye.com), which includes his phenomenal treatments of Frequency Specific Microcurrent.”

    I hear quacking. And it’s getting louder. One more excerpt:

    “Some ask, are there really miracles in healing? While we have steadfast faith in the Divine Creator, we believe that the miracle of healing lies within His Creation, and that means inside YOU! If you remove what is impairing your ability to activate your repair processes (detox), and supply the raw materials (nutrition), reduce stress which wears down your body, exercise, eliminate energetic interferences to your body’s physiology, and get oxygen, the ultimate healer, into afflicted areas, “miracles” will be an everyday occurrence.”

    So it’s quackery AND faith healing.

    Oh, what the hell. One more to drive home the point:

    “Remember, we concentrate on assisting your body to heal itself, and treating you, not a “disease”. So, all medical/health challenges are “fair game”. We believe that even the most challenging of “diseases” such as circulation, immune dysfunction (auto-immune diseases, infection, etc.), Lyme, and even cancer can be assisted by supporting the self healing mechanisms God/Nature designed in us.
    Of course, we see a lot of pain. But we are not a “pain clinic” that dispenses pain pills. We are looking for causes and triggers for your pain, so that they can be eliminated. Then you can be restored to normal function. “Normal” does not involve pain (which is warning you of some abnormality within). And, while we see patients challenged with cancer, we don’t treat “the cancer”. We do treat, in order to optimize its function, your own immune system. Hence, we can interface with any decision you make regarding your cancer treatment choices.”

    Oh! I just saw this on the “About Us” page:

    “We believe that there are three fundamental causes of dis-ease: malnutrition, toxins and stress.”

    BINGO! The quack actually used “dis-ease”!

    THIS IS WHY, “Herb” (Dr. Rowen?), we call Rowen and his ilk a quack.

    “Conditions” treated:

    We prefer not to list “conditions”, as that may be limiting. Remember, we concentrate on assisting your body to heal itself, and treating you, not a “disease”. So, all medical/health challenges are “fair game”. We believe that even the most challenging of “diseases” such as circulation, immune dysfunction (auto-immune diseases, infection, etc.), Lyme, and even cancer can be assisted by supporting the self healing mechanisms God/Nature designed in us.

  22. #22 maurizio armanetti
    Pontremoli (Toscana) Italy
    November 26, 2014

    Ok, but for example put together in a tablet medication and herbs creates fewer side effects and more therapeutic potency but is not done for economic speculation

  23. #23 Vicki
    November 26, 2014

    maurizio: [citation badly needed] How would adding multiple substances give you fewer side effects? Herbs aren’t somehow magic that can never do any harm: foxglove is one of many that can kill you if you consume too much of it. It’s harder to overdose on Camellia sinensis in leaf form; putting the active ingredients in a tablet increases the risk.

  24. #24 Helianthus
    November 26, 2014

    for example put together in a tablet medication and herbs creates fewer side effects and more therapeutic potency

    Err… Do you have a concrete example in mind of adding herbs resulting in fewer side effects for the same or higher potency? Citations would be great.

    but is not done for economic speculation

    If someone is willing to buy it, someone will sell it. Look at e-Bay.
    I have a hard time understanding how withholding a product could make anyone richer, even more so in a competition-driven market. Especially if the benefit is less side effects for equal potency – people would still need to buy the same amount of pills to get cured, so there is no market loss here for the seller. Quite the contrary, in fact.
    The regular reformulation of drugs with new adjuvants and/or dosage is a real-life business model for pharmaceutical companies. It allows them to extend their patents and provides them with a competitive edge by proposing different formulations of the same drug – the customer is encouraged to switch to the enhanced formulae.

    In this model, passing the opportunity to add an extra component providing higher potency (or allowing to reduce the needed amount of the base drug) and/or reducing side effects (more faithful customers, less bad rep) would be very silly.

  25. #25 herr doktor bimler
    November 26, 2014

    we help you design a program to detoxify. Methods here could include, but not be limited to: nutritional supplements, sauna/sweat therapy, chelation (for metals), herbs, homeopathy, oxidation therapies. We do offer chelation therapy by several routes, including oral and IV. Chelation therapy has recently emerged (in orthodox literature based on a long term major study) as a valuable help in vascular disease.

    Struth. This dude is not going to turn down an income stream, is he?

    Dr. Rowen is currently the chairman of the oxidation workshop of the American College for Advancement in Medicine.

    Did ACAM own up to lying about chelation, and promise to stop doing it? I do believe they did.

    At this point the caveat usually arises that “Perhaps this mook isn’t actually trying to scam his customers; perhaps he has deceived himself as well as them about the effectiveness of his treatments”. I don’t see the self-deception excuse as applicable to Rowan. Words like “grifter” and “fraud” and “quack” and “scammer” and “low-life skidmark” are all inadequate.

  26. #26 DrBollocks
    November 26, 2014

    Good points well made as usual by Orac. I do, however, have one disagreement. I think describing the quacks as “well-meaning” is way too charitable. To me, I see mainly self-aggrandisement, part of a desperate desire for validation, if not outright fraud. If they were genuinely motivated by altruism, they would be more likely to work with the authorities or legitimate aid organisations rather than getting in their way & lying about their activities.

    It is of course possible that Orac is being sarcastic but it can be hard to tell on the internet.

  27. #27 Shay
    thinking about Lincoln's famous riposte to Pope
    November 26, 2014

    DrB, I could make a good argument that anyone who would voluntarily travel to west Africa right now to work with Ebola victims has his/her heart in the right place.

    Their brains? Not so much.

  28. #28 Militant Agnostic
    In the land of 4x4 Redneck Muslimas
    November 26, 2014

    @weirdnoise

    I have to say, though, that it looks like it might be alien technology that would be used on UFO abductees.

    It would definitely be preferable to what I experienced the last time that happened.

  29. #29 Guy Chapman
    Hyderabad
    November 26, 2014

    David, you are too charitable. This is not well-meaning quackery, it’s “me, me, me, how can I exploit this for personal gain” quackery. It’s as bad as the homeoquacks. They spout platitudes and pretend to care but the only thing that matters to them is getting something they can use to boost their business.

    They are vermin. They deserve the highest opprobrium.

  30. #30 JGC
    November 26, 2014

    Looking at Dr. Rowen’s website, the one thing i don’t find is a standard quack Miranda warning. Doesn’t that leave him liable for offfering false claims of efficacy with respect to depression, autoimmune disorders, Lyme disease, etc.?

  31. #31 herr doktor bimler
    November 26, 2014

    we now offer the highly advanced therapies for eye diseases Inclusive of macular degeneration […], which includes his phenomenal treatments of Frequency Specific Microcurrent.”

    The careful wording there — “offering a highly advanced therapy” for MD rather than specifically “treating” or “curing” — points to a clear awareness on Rowan’s part of how close to the wind he can sail when he’s extracting money from desperate people facing progressive blindness.

    I see mainly self-aggrandisement

    Even that may be too weak. This is a person whose reports from Sierra Leone concentrate on his reception from the President of that country. This is a person who writes of himself in third person — “Ebola Battled By Robert Rowen MD!” — in his self-adulatory advertisements “press releases” for himself (on his own website, on FB, on the ACAM website). These feature the claim that

    Dr. Rowen is known as “The Father of Medical Freedom”

    , presumably in the hope that if it is repeated enough, people other than himself might start calling him that.

  32. #32 herr doktor bimler
    November 26, 2014

    the one thing i don’t find is a standard quack Miranda warning. Doesn’t that leave him liable for offfering false claims of efficacy with respect to depression, autoimmune disorders, Lyme disease, etc.?

    He is careful to insinuate rather than promise explicitly.

    We prefer not to list “conditions”, as that may be limiting

  33. #33 JGC
    November 26, 2014

    We prefer not to list “conditions”, as that may be limiting incriminating

    Fixed that for him

  34. #34 Woo Fighter
    November 26, 2014

    We prefer not to list “conditions”, as that may be limiting…

    Yeah, it “limits” what Rowen can “diagnose” and charge for his useless supplements and “therapies.” This way, Rowen can invent anything he feels like conning his patients into believing and then sell them all his BS “treatments.”

  35. #35 herr doktor bimler
    November 26, 2014

    We prefer not to list “conditions”, as that may be incriminating

    Yep. The careful parsing of words and avoidance of responsibility in Rowan’s promises does not fit the “well-meaning and self-deluded and wrong” account.

    Woofighter’s list of Rowan’s Quackmarks (comment #21) misses one; the way he bangs on about offering his customers the privilege of access to secrets — “the secrets of optimal health” — these secrets being presumably guarded by the cognoscenti, in the manner of Rosicrucian esoterica

  36. #36 DrBollocks
    November 26, 2014

    HDB

    Even that may be too weak

    Fair enough in Rowan’s case. I was talking about quacks generally (my comment probably should have been in the previous thread on this subject).

  37. #37 Panacea
    November 27, 2014

    [i]Remember, we concentrate on assisting your body to heal itself, and treating you, not a “disease”.[/i]

    And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why people continue to fall for the woo.

    They’re looking for personalized and personal care as much as they are looking for treatments (more accurately cures). Quacks feed into that need in a way that real doctors have a hard time doing because of the perverse incentives of our health care system that force the real doctors to see a new patient every 10 minutes just to keep the doors open.

    Facts don’t matter to a patient who wants a relationship with health care provider.

  38. #38 Tim
    November 27, 2014

    That thing might be good for a sinus infection–

    Researchers at Tufts University, in collaboration with a team at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, have demonstrated a resorbable electronic implant that eliminated bacterial infection in mice by delivering heat to infected tissue when triggered by a remote wireless signal

    http://www.biospace.com/News/wireless-electronic-implants-stop-staph-then/356221

    *resorbable* == much less ‘dark ages’ than this:

  39. #39 c t skinner
    n z
    November 27, 2014

    6nm nm light is widely reported to speed wound healing. US Navy use in submarines. Suggested mechanism , Mitochondrial absorption and activation. Seems less likely that nasal light would produce whole body effective attack against haemorrhagic virus. :
    Anecdote: I use incandescant light, rather than LED 630 bulbs, the hot light produces local inflammation as well, which is effective in speeding small lesion, boil, etc healing.
    If Ebola exposed, I would try the nose thing. Im not clear what “conventional” therapy you are defending when you reject 630nm light because it looks funny. Iv saline or plasma drips might look funny, I’d take them too if available.

  40. #40 c t skinner
    n z
    November 27, 2014

    630nm not 6nm. The problem with quack medecine. is the quacks never discuss failure rates, not that their methods look silly. I am presuming that this guy is not discussing his failure rates. If Ebola under best care has 50% death rate, then red light is worth a try, as long as it doesnt get in the way of drips, antibiotics, or whatever is best practice, absent plasma extracts from survivors. What is failure rate for them?

  41. #41 squirrelelite
    November 27, 2014

    @c t skinner,

    1. Have you heard from b f lately?

    2. More seriously, 630 nm is red light, the lowest energy end of the visible spectrum. It doesn’t even have enough energy to help your body make vitamin D, much less penetrate the skin to affect cells in the blood or other tissues underneath.

    If just exposing yourself to light of that wavelength could heal you, almost no one would be sick.

    Do you have any published studies to support your claims?

  42. #42 Helianthus
    November 28, 2014

    Mitochondrial absorption and activation.

    Despite George Lucas’ claims of the contrary, mitochondria are not chloroplasts.
    Any evidence of mitochondria reacting to any light?

  43. #43 Mrs Woo
    November 28, 2014

    The ones who fall hardest for woo are ones who are either scared by diagnosis and its recommended treatment, or patients offered few treatment options from SBM.

    I must be too kind. I can’t believe all woo practitioners are jaded con artists. Some have to actually believe this stuff (thinking of former neighbor, a vegan massage therapist).

    It doesn’t mean there aren’t con artists too, just means some suffer from the hopeless belief that magic is real, and mystery is more powerful than what is known.

  44. #44 JGC
    December 1, 2014

    Do you have any published studies to support your claims?

    To be sure there are published studies, but the relevant question (as is the case with all those studies purporting to demonstrate a causal association between mercury/aluminum exposure and autism spectrum disorders) is what is the quality of the evidence these studies present, and does it support the claims the authors make?

    A good palce to start looking at Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT), also known as “Cold laser Tehrapy”, is this article found on Skepvet’s site

    http://skeptvet.com/Blog/2010/05/cold-laser-therapy/

  45. #45 Lurker
    December 1, 2014

    Mechanism of quaction: ‘Powerful emotions are true. Any statement or experience that incites or is accompanied by a powerful emotion, is true.’

    The above gets us the True Believer quacks and their True Believer patients.

    Quack Contagion: A person who has a powerful emotional experience whilst being treated by a quack, is more likely to go on to become a quack practitioner him/herself.

    Conservation of Quack Energy: The number of days of study that the totality of a given quack’s patients devote to becoming quacks themselves, add up to the number of days of study that the original quack who treated them devoted to becoming a quack, minus frictional losses.

    For example Alice spends 400 days of study to become an ND. She has 500 patients, of which forty are so ‘impressed’ with the quack paradigm that they decide to become quacks themselves. On average each of the forty patients can be expected to spend ten days’ efforts toward becoming quacks themselves, minus frictional losses such as time spent explaining to their friends that they haven’t lost their minds, and time spent explaining to their families that their new profession will be more remunerative than whatever they were doing before.

    Testable hypothesis, eh?;-)

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