Orac gets fan mail. Yes, as hard as it is to believe, my blog sometimes ticks certain people off, and sometimes I even hear from them. For instance, last week a reader wrote me. The subject header read, “Why do you hate naturopathic physicians so much?” and the letter went something like this (OK, exactly like this other than the name of the reader, which I’ve withheld, and to whom I will refer as “T”):

Having stumbled across one of your diatribes against licensed naturopathic doctors, I can’t help but wonder what that profession has done to hurt you? If you have examined the evidence, meticulously collected by insurance companies in several states, you will see that the outcomes for patients who are treated by naturopathic doctors are very good, and cheaper, and result in fewer hospitalizations. There are, no doubt, bad doctors of all types. But, why do you find it necessary to attack an entire profession? Without them, I would probably be dead now. And, there are many others like me who are VERY grateful for the option. So, your damaging words may be preventing others from getting the help that they need.


First off, T has part of it wrong. She really does. I don’t hate naturopaths, licensed or otherwise. Rather, I consider them a danger to patients and oppose the very existence of their profession. That’s a very different thing, and I’ve discussed my reasons more times than I can remember. For instance, you can’t have naturopathy without homeopathy because homeopathy is an integral part of naturopathic training and is featured on the NPLEX, the examination that naturopaths seeking licensure in any of the states that have made the profound error of passing naturopathic licensing laws must pass. Even naturopaths who have their doubts about homeopathy make excuses for it and never completely disavow it.

However, if T wants to know why I detest naturopathy as a profession so much, an example popped up just this week. It’s from Timothy Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy at the University of Alberta and a Trudeau Fellow, who summarized a recent study he published in The Globe and Mail in an article entitled Stop those naturopaths who spread anti-vaxxer myths. The study, by Tim Caulfield, Alessandro R Marcon, and Blake Murdoch, appeared in the Journal of Law and the Biosciences. We’ll start with the summary, and then I’ll dig into the study itself.

Caulfield first notes growing concern about vaccination rates in Canada (join the club) and how more people are falling prey to concerns based on antivaccine misinformation and tells how he decided to look into one potential source of this, naturopaths:

Unfortunately, much of this science-free vaccination noise comes from health-care practitioners, especially those in the complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) community. Not every complementary and alternative practitioner pushes an anti-vaccine perspective. But, let’s face it, many do. This must stop.

“Many” is putting it mildly. I’d say that most “pure” practitioners of alternative medicine are antivaccine. Certainly, we know that naturopaths, for example, imbibe quite a bit of antivaccine misinformation in their “education.”

Onward:

Working with my colleagues, Sandro Marcon and Blake Murdoch, we examined more than 300 websites for naturopaths and naturopathic clinics in Alberta and British Columbia. In this study, which was recently published in the Journal of Law and the Biosciences, we identified 53 websites that had vaccination-hesitant language and/or suggested a vaccination alternative. In other words, a significant number of naturopaths – that is, members of a provincially regulated health profession – are explicitly and publicly spreading nonsense about vaccination. And this ignoble list doesn’t include the clinics (and there are many) that make baseless claims about how to naturally “boost” your immune system.

Some of the clinics offer warnings about how vaccines contain mercury and/or reference the frequently debunked myth that vaccines are linked to autism. Many websites provide specific recommendations regarding alternatives to vaccination. For example, one clinic suggests that “as an alternative to the flu shot, you can choose a homeopathic prophylactic injection instead” and another claims that “homeopathy flu injections” are a “safe and effective alternative to the regular flu shot.”

When I read the study itself, as well as some of the accompanying news coverage of it, one thing that surprised me is that Caulfield et al only found 53/330 (16%) naturopath websites with “vaccine-hesitant” language in them or that suggested alternatives to vaccination. I would have guessed a far higher percentage. Of course, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about naturopath websites over the years, it’s that they frequently rely on vagueness about “natural” treatments and don’t always mention explicitly all of their services, at least not in detail. Also, Caulfield et al weren’t doing a comprehensive survey and were rather stringent in their criteria for flagging a website, requiring the following: “(1) discourse of vaccine hesitancy (text or links to text which demonstrate explicit anti-vaccination views or which raise issues surrounding the harms/risks of vaccination) and (2) services offered or text descriptions of alternatives to vaccinations or the flu shot.” They didn’t include websites offering natural solutions to ‘boost immunity’ or to prepare one for the flu season. If there’s one thing experience has taught me, it’s that such claims are usually a pretty darned good indicator of antivaccine views.

Caulfield et al note that the statements ranged from the obviously antivaccine, like this one:

Vaccines given to children and adults contain mercury and aluminum. Babies are especially susceptible to small amounts of mercury injected directly into their tiny bodies. It is now suspected that the increase in autism and Asperger Syndrome is related to the mercury in childhood vaccinations.

Or this one:

…children are now being given increasing numbers of vaccinations containing potentially harmful derivatives and substances such as mercury, thimerisol [sic], aluminum and formaldehydes. These harmful derivatives can become trapped in our tissues, clogging our filters and diminishing one’s ability of further toxins out.

To less blatantly antivaccine statements like this one:

The bugs in question (on the Canadian Vaccine List) can enter our systems and depending on our bodies, our histories, and mostly the bugs’ propensity, they can cause serious harm. There are certainly questionable ingredients in vaccines that have the potential to do the same.

Not surprisingly, given how you can’t have naturopathy without homeopathy, most of the vaccine alternatives, particularly flu vaccine alternatives, involve ” homeopathic prophylactic immune injection” and “immune-boosting homeopathics.” Anyone who is sufficiently familiar with naturopathy would have been able to predict this particular result. Of course, given that homeopathic remedies over around 12C are so diluted that it’s unlikely that a single molecule of the original compound remains, what these websites are, in essence, doing is suggesting that you can prevent influenza and other potentially deadly diseases with water or sugar pills infused with water.

Now here comes the part where I describe why I detest even licensed naturopaths—no, especially licensed naturopaths. Caulfield et al point out that naturopaths present themselves as “evidence-based” and that governments that license naturopaths have basically accepted their claim of being evidence-based. Basically, in most provinces (and states in the US) where naturopaths are licensed, they are, like physicians, self-regulating. In British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario, for example, naturopaths create provincial colleges of naturopathy that are responsible for setting practice standards and enforcing them among their members. Here’s a bit from the Ontario Naturopathy Act’s Professional Misconduct Regulation:

The Ontario Naturopathy Act’s Professional Misconduct Regulation, for example, states that it is an act of professional misconduct to recommend or provide a treatment ‘the member knows or ought to know is unnecessary or ineffective’. Further listed acts of professional misconduct include ‘making a claim respecting a drug, substance, remedy, treatment, device or procedure other than a claim that can be supported as reasonable professional opinion’, and ‘permitting the advertising of the member or his or her practice in a manner that is false or misleading or that includes statements that are not factual or verifiable’.

I had to laugh at this passage, given that probably 90% of what naturopaths claim about health is not “factual or verifiable.” Caulfield notes that since Alberta legislated self-regulation in 2012 for naturopaths, the provincial college has carried out only one investigation of misconduct by a member. This was the death of Ezekiel Stephan, a child who died of meningitis, which I’ve discussed multiple times here before. Of note, the parents of the child are outspoken antivaxers and represented their prosecution for medical neglect as a plot to imposed forced vaccination.

Caulfield et al also call out naturopathic regulatory bodies for promoting at the very least a vaccine-hesitant approach:

The regulatory bodies that govern and represent the profession have, to date, largely been silent or have taken remarkably soft positions on vaccination. For example, of all the naturopath college websites in Canada, only the College of Naturopaths of Ontario site contains content that speaks directly to homeopathic vaccines and vaccines in a way that restricts allowable claims to those that are scientifically proven. In this case, Health Canada’s position is merely reiterated.

Conversely, the British Columbia Naturopathic Association has published a position paper on vaccination that supports a vaccine-hesitant approach. The document is an excellent example of the ambiguous attitude of the naturopathic community to vaccines. It purports to explain the advantages and disadvantages of vaccination, at one point implying that the risks are equivalent to the benefits. The document notes that vaccine preventable ‘diseases can cause injury or death in a less than robustly healthy infant or child’, then states that ‘[i]t’s of equal importance to note that all of the vaccines for these diseases can also cause injury or death in a less than robustly healthy infant or child, and this is where most of the parental concerns arise’. It contains a list of unsubstantiated concerns such as the alleged presence of toxic preservatives and the unnatural route of entry of vaccines. The document suggests that vaccines are helpful only because without them ‘parents run the risk of their child encountering a virile disease agent at a time when their child’s immune system may be compromised by stressors such as injury and poor nutrition’. The implication seems to be that one can build up the immune system ‘naturally’ to prevent serious vaccine-preventable diseases, which is scientifically inaccurate.

This is no different from naturopaths in the US, either. For example, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) published a position paper on immunizations that provides at best grudging support for vaccination, noting that naturopaths, “as primary care providers, are morally obliged and legally mandated to uphold and carry out the public health mandates and should be authorized to administer immunizations in all jurisdictions where naturopathic regulation to do so exists.” In other words, vaccinate if the law tells you you have to vaccinate, but note that it “is documented that some of the current and past immunizing agents have been associated with significant morbidity and are of variable efficacy and varying necessity.”

As ex-naturopath Britt Hermes noted, the AANP position paper does not advocate the administration of routine childhood vaccines. Nor does it mention any vaccine schedule specifically or recommend a standard of care. She also noted a couple of years ago that a draft position on immunizations was leaked and appeared to be a lot more pro-vaccine. It even made the hilariously disingenuous claim that families “fired” from conventional pediatric practices for refusing vaccines often seek out naturopaths, placing “naturopathic physicians in an opportune position to provide information and vaccine coverage to those patients who might otherwise receive no vaccines at all.”

I’m sorry. I probably should have warned those of you who just spewed liquid all over your laptop or mobile device to put down your drink before reading that. In any case, I tend to agree with Britt that this was almost certainly leaked for political reasons, to make naturopaths seem more pro-vaccine than they really are. As she noted, only around 3% of naturopaths support the full CDC vaccine schedule. Indeed, pro-vaccine naturopaths are quite rare. I’ve searched for them and only ever found one or two. Even then, one such naturopath who presented herself as “not antivaccine” still expressed what were clearly what Caulfield would characterize as “vaccine-hesitant” views and cites execrably bad research by “scientists” associated with the antivaccine movement. I’ve also pointed out that, when they think no one’s listening, naturopaths routinely spew antivaccine pseudoscience amongst themselves. Indeed, there’s one of these antivaccine naturopaths in my neck of the woods named Doug Cutler. Here’s a taste:

Absolutely shameful that the biggest medical fraud (perpetuated by Big Pharma) continues to indoctrinate the public (“milk does a body good”) that vaccines are safe and effective. As you stated, we still don’t know the longterm vaccine safety so hoping that they are safe and effective for the “greater good” is unacceptable and completely immoral until we fully know.

You are right though, we need to question our personal “dogma/bias”. I fully believed in vaccines until my intimate association with hundreds of mothers that had vaccine injured children, changed that entire belief set completely around. The same amazing mothers that knew more about vaccines than any doctor or scientist out there, hands down. Then with my training and knowledge of environmental toxins, just analyzing the actual ingredients of each vaccine, one by one – I could never in good conscience justify those known toxic ingredients to have a free pass directly (no detox roadblocks) to a baby’s brain.

And:

My disclosure, I am opposed to all sources of toxins therefore I am against vaccines whose one size approach fails to account nutritional statuses, toxic burden of mom/child and genetic polymorphisms that are at epidemic levels. 10 vaccines from birth to 6 years in 1983 and 36-38 vaccines from birth to 6 years in 2010. Insane.

I’ll conclude by saying to T that I don’t hate naturopaths. I’m sure some of them are perfectly nice, albeit deluded, people. I oppose naturopathy because it is quackery that endangers patients. One reason is that you can’t have naturopathy without antivax. The high prevalence of antivaccine views and very low support for vaccination show that. Antivaccine views are baked into naturopathic education and philosophy. That cannot be escaped.

Comments

  1. #1 Julian Frost
    June 26, 2017

    Are you going to tackle T’s claim that:

    If you have examined the evidence, meticulously collected by insurance companies in several states, you will see that the outcomes for patients who are treated by naturopathic doctors are very good, and cheaper, and result in fewer hospitalizations.

    ?
    I’m quite sure it’s false.

  2. #2 Dangerous Bacon
    June 26, 2017

    The 16% figure for “vaccine-hesitant”/alternative naturopath websites is probably also way low, considering that many if not most likely are hiding their views and wait until patients come in to lobby for them.

    I’d also be interested to know what proportion of naturopath websites explicitly endorse vaccination and urge parents to have their children complete the recommended schedule. Bet that’s considerably lower than 16%.

  3. #3 Chris Hickie
    June 26, 2017

    “The Textbook of Natural Medicine”, which I’ve heard is required at most schools of naturoquackery (having been authored by the founders of Bastyr school of naturoquackery) is full of anti-vaccine statements (easily viewed thanks to Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature online). You won’t find anti-vax BS in allopathic textbooks.

  4. #4 Eric Lund
    June 26, 2017

    Caulfield notes that since Alberta legislated self-regulation in 2012 for naturopaths, the provincial college has carried out only one investigation of misconduct by a member. This was the death of Ezekiel Stephan, a child who died of meningitis, which I’ve discussed multiple times here before.

    It’s hard to violate the standard of care when there is no standard.

    I’m not surprised to hear that anti-vax views are common among naturopaths. Crank magnetism strikes again. The homeopathic option that some of them recommend is absurd on its face, but no more so than anything else involved with homeopathy.

  5. #5 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    June 26, 2017

    Q. Can a mother’s intuition affect their homeopathy/antivax tendencies.

    In a recent article published by Rev Cubana Pediatr. (2017) titled, Autoserum skin tests in allergic patients, and in autistic patients and their mothers, it is written that the a positive correlation had been found with the results of autistic patients and their mothers.

    http://scielo.sld.cu/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0034-75312017000200005

    It’s understandable that mothers with atopy may gravitate towards homopathy/antivax tendencies in an effort to maintain their child’s health.

    @Orac,

    How can medical science convince atopic mothers that their children are safe when exposed to vaccine contaminants (i.e., foodstuff proteins and allergens)?

  6. #6 Michael Finfer, MD
    June 26, 2017

    I find the claim that “we still don’t know the longterm vaccine safety” to be quite enjoyable. It’s been, what, 125, 150 years since the introduction of the smallpox vaccine? We don’t have data on long term safety? Really? Maybe it’s just that everyone who ever received a smallpox vaccine died eventually of something?

    I have to say that I am getting really fed up with the BS. It’s the first thing I would go after if I were in charge.

  7. #7 Zach
    June 26, 2017

    @Julian Frost

    I find it interesting when people make claims like T saying that if Orac did a proper amount of research etc then do not actually offer up any of that evidence. Oh, and perhaps naturopaths lead to fewer hospitalizations because more of their patients refuse to go to hospitals out of irrational fear of science or just simply die as a result of mismanaged care.

  8. #8 Jonas
    June 26, 2017

    @Zach-You wrote “perhaps naturopaths lead to fewer hospitalizations because more of their patients refuse to go to hospitals out of irrational fear of science or just simply die as a result of mismanaged care.”

    That’s possible, but another possibility is that most people with serious illnesses realize that they need real medical care, not quackery, and that most of the people who see naturopaths are “the worried well” and/or people with minor health conditions that would be unlikely to require hospitalization.

    And another possibility (probably the most likely), is that T’s claim that patients who go to naturopaths have fewer hospitalizations is simply false.

  9. #9 Jonas
    June 26, 2017

    @MJD-I am so sick of hearing people say stuff like “a mother knows what’s best for her child, not doctors”.

    While a parent may KNOW their child better than their child’s doctor, that does NOT mean that they know WHAT IS BEST for their child’s health. The doctor has medical training, they do not. Mother’s “intuition” (combined with anti-vax propaganda spread by people like Andrew Wakefield) is the reason why 78 people, mostly Somali children, have contracted measles in Minnesota this year.

    And regarding allergies specifically, the risk of a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine is exceptionally low.

  10. #10 Jane Ostentatious
    June 26, 2017

    I have a friend who is the queen of woo. Despite claiming that if you go to a real doctor, they will find things wrong with you “because that’s what they do” when she and her SO broke bones they both went to medical doctors “because they’re good for that.” I foolishly refrained from asking why she didn’t wave her magic Reiki hands above the break. I still regret it.

  11. #11 Jonas
    June 26, 2017

    @MJD-You write-“It’s understandable that mothers with atopy may gravitate towards homopathy/antivax tendencies in an effort to maintain their child’s health.”

    I don’t think that is “understandable”. The reason you do is because you are already anti-vaccine, and are convinced an allergic reaction caused your son’s autism.

    The bottom line is that unless a parent is already vaccine-hesitant, I really don’t see why having a kid with allergies/eczema/asthma would make one avoid vaccines.

  12. #12 Jane Ostentatious
    June 26, 2017

    MJD – I skimmed the article which cites Wakefield – how pathetic can you get?

    Good luck buying your camel milk.

  13. #13 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    June 26, 2017

    Jonas — another possibility is that the naturopaths seldom find out if any of their patients later have to go to the hospital. How would they even know? There’s no mechanism for consistent follow-up. This is even a problem in mainstream medicine; it’s gotta be considerably worse in naturopathy, which eschews anything to do with mainstream medicine.

  14. #14 sadmar
    June 26, 2017

    I don’t know why Orac uses the sentence form “You can’t have naturopathy without [X]” since its meaning is ambiguous, and in most senses it’s obviously wrong. The sense in which it is true is where “you” is a government, and “have naturopathy” is some permitting legislation that allows natuopaths to practice medicine despite lacking conventional credentials (MD, DO, APRN, PA) and either without regulation or with self-regulation. Of course, in that sense, you can’t have MDs without anti-vax and homeopathy either, since ‘renegade’ doctors go those woos, and state boards and physicians’ organizations just shrug.

    Allow me to suggest it would be simpler and less confusing to frame the problem directly, rather than as an abstract principle. I’ll also suggest doing so with equanimity by starting with an acknowledgment that even conventional practitioners have shown no ability or willingness to police their own profession effectively. ‘Self-regulation of MDs is a joke, but self-regulation of naturopaths is a sick joke.’ It’s not that there aren’t ‘bad doctors’ and ‘good naturopaths’ on homeopathy and/or vaccines, but an issue of relative numbers – which the OP above documents rather convincingly.

    Orac is surprised that only 16% of the naturopathy websites Caulfield surveyed betrayed anti-vax sentiments. But that’s A LOT! You wouldn’t expect any casual or routine views on vaccines at a given health services clinic to show up on a website. That it does indicates it’s a point of emphasis. Even at 16%, that is very disturbing. It would have helped if Caulfield (who has to fail in un-impressing me) had provided some bases of comparison, e.g. the frequency with which other points of emphasis, dubious and/or laudatory, show up on the range of websites surveyed. Just in knowing how most small-business websites get constructed and what they contain – that is, without imagining some wide intent to cover up anything – I’d imagine that anything that shows up prominently in 16% of websites is but the out-front tip of an iceberg of more casual, routine less-vocal practices and attitudes. IOW, I’d say the out-front 16% antivax correlates well with Britt Hermes’ report that only 3% of naturopaths will admit to supporting the full CDC schedule…

    … and yes, the overall picture there is alarming to say the least.

  15. #15 Jonathan
    Tampa, FL
    June 26, 2017

    Considering allopathy kills an estimated 250,000 people a year due to medical errors, there is no reason to blindly subscribe to the witch hunt against naturopaths, homeopaths, or any other unlicensed natural healer. Enough said.

  16. #16 Eric Lund
    June 26, 2017

    I foolishly refrained from asking why she didn’t wave her magic Reiki hands above the break.

    How do you know that she didn’t try that, and decided to see a real doctor when that didn’t work?

    Call me an optimist, but maybe your friend learned something about the limitations of woo. If so, that can only be a good thing.

  17. #17 Renate
    June 26, 2017

    if you go to a real doctor, they will find things wrong with you “because that’s what they do”

    I mostly get the idea that is a speciality of quacks.

  18. #18 Richard
    The Netherlands
    June 26, 2017

    @Jonathan, #15
    Your reasoning is fatally flawed. Even if medical errors kill so many people, then the solution most definitely is not to lower the quality of medicine quite a bit further by allowing utter nitwits to sell placebos to the gullible — something which will inevitably lead to more patient deaths.
    The solution in other words is to fix the problem with real medicine, not to aggravate it by tolerating pretend medicine as well.

    • #19 Jonathan
      Tampa, FL
      June 26, 2017

      Your solution is more fatally flawed. There is no such thing as real medicine. Herbs, medications, and supplements alike kill in incorrect dosages. Medicine is simply the more palatable method of treatments for Americans which requires medications and surgery as its agent of perceived efficacy. I prefer that neither side attack the other. Medicine is way more deadly than naturopathy or any opposition to medicine.

  19. #20 rs
    June 26, 2017

    “I prefer that neither side attack the other. Medicine is way more deadly than naturopathy or any opposition to medicine.”

    Wow. You violated your own prescription in the very next sentence. And still nothing presented to support your extreme claims. Medicine has a standard of care; NDs have a PR cheat sheet.

    • #21 Jonathan
      June 26, 2017

      You probably need to see a doctor to get your head examined if you really believe that. I don’t need a million dollar study to understand common sense. You just keep shoveling dollars into their pockets.

  20. #22 Jane Ostentatious
    June 26, 2017

    Eric – you’re an optimist. An incurable optimist

    Now she believes that diet can cure cancer. Sigh.

  21. #23 Jonas
    June 26, 2017

    @Jonathan-The fact is that the “treatments” offered by naturopaths either have never been proven to have efficacy, have been studied and found to be useless, or are biologically implausible and thus CANNOT POSSIBLY have efficacy.

    Furthermore, while the “treatments” offered by naturopaths are ineffective, they are not harmless. Homeopathy is (of course, indirectly, it is, since people often use it instead of real medicine, but I’m talking about direct harm), but some of the supplements promoted by naturopaths can be dangerous. Certain herbs are well-known to have the potential to cause liver failure.

    And, when you wrote “Medicine is way more deadly than naturopathy”, you ignored the fact that naturopathic treatments have NEVER saved anyone’s life, whereas real medicine has saved countless lives. It’s estimated that the MMR vaccine ALONE saved 17 million lives between 2000 and 2015.

  22. #24 Jonas
    June 26, 2017

    @Jonathan (#21) You write “You just keep shoveling dollars into their pockets.”

    Kind of like how people like you keep paying naturopaths for supplements and homeopathic remedies that don’t work (and are sometimes recommended by naturopaths for “diseases” that don’t even exist, like “adrenal fatigue”)?

  23. #25 Orac
    June 26, 2017

    I don’t know why Orac uses the sentence form “You can’t have naturopathy without [X]” since its meaning is ambiguous, and in most senses it’s obviously wrong. The sense in which it is true is where “you” is a government, and “have naturopathy” is some permitting legislation that allows natuopaths to practice medicine despite lacking conventional credentials (MD, DO, APRN, PA) and either without regulation or with self-regulation. Of course, in that sense, you can’t have MDs without anti-vax and homeopathy either, since ‘renegade’ doctors go those woos, and state boards and physicians’ organizations just shrug.

    There are two sorts of comments I hate more than any other: Grammar or style flames and pedantry. You’ve combined both. I mean, bloody hell, WTF? I’ll frame my point any damned way I feel like it.

    Orac is surprised that only 16% of the naturopathy websites Caulfield surveyed betrayed anti-vax sentiments. But that’s A LOT! You wouldn’t expect any casual or routine views on vaccines at a given health services clinic to show up on a website. That it does indicates it’s a point of emphasis. Even at 16%, that is very disturbing. It would have helped if Caulfield (who has to fail in un-impressing me) had provided some bases of comparison, e.g. the frequency with which other points of emphasis, dubious and/or laudatory, show up on the range of websites surveyed. Just in knowing how most small-business websites get constructed and what they contain – that is, without imagining some wide intent to cover up anything – I’d imagine that anything that shows up prominently in 16% of websites is but the out-front tip of an iceberg of more casual, routine less-vocal practices and attitudes. IOW, I’d say the out-front 16% antivax correlates well with Britt Hermes’ report that only 3% of naturopaths will admit to supporting the full CDC schedule…

    … and yes, the overall picture there is alarming to say the least.

    Point taken, although vaccines are a point of emphasis in naturopathy, so much so (and more, I suspect, than you realize) that I still remain surprised that it was only 16%.

  24. #26 Jonas
    June 26, 2017

    @Jane Ostentatious (#12)-Let’s hope MJD doesn’t start giving his son raw camel’s milk in an attempt to cure his autism. Raw cow’s milk is dangerous enough (unpasteurized dairy products thus cause 840 times more illnesses and 45 times more illness requiring hospitalizations than pasteurized milk, per a study published earlier this year in Emerging Infectious Diseases)…I can’t even imagine how dangerous raw camel’s milk would be.

    Maybe MJD should read this article on the detection of MERS-CoV in camel’s milk. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2014/06/mers-virus-found-camel-milk

  25. #27 Jonathan
    Tampa, FL
    June 26, 2017

    Jonas,
    I can agree with all of your statements, in part. You cannot say that naturopathy has not saved lives when it has impacted people’s lives in countless ways; ways that you cannot measure with a study. And vaccines were created using the homeopathic literature at the time. I won’t even argue with you about adrenal fatigue because you couldn’t understand the biochemistry of it. You don’t think allopathy thinks up crazy labels and gives it to a set of symptoms? Ever heard of Complex regional pain syndrome? Yup. A medical term.

  26. #28 Jonas
    June 26, 2017

    @Jonathan-“Vaccines were created using homeopathic literature”?
    On what planet and according to whom?! Homeopathy is biologically implausible AND randomized controlled trials (which, in view of it’s lack of plausibility, were never even necessary to begin with) have found it to be worthless!

    But hey, if you are so sure that homeopathy works, prove it and collect the $1 million prize that James Randi has offered to anyone who can prove it is effective!

    • #29 Jonathan
      Tampa, FL
      June 26, 2017

      I’ll get right on that, Jonas. Where do you think Jenner got the idea for the cowpox vaccine?

  27. #30 Jonas
    June 26, 2017

    @Jonathan (#27)-Naturopathy and homeopathy have impacted many people’s lives-for the worse! Just ask the families of the cancer patients who have died after refusing to undergo chemotherapy because they believed that naturopathic “treatment” and/or homeopathy would cure it (and that’s not even mentioning the amount of $$ that the “worried well” waste on naturopathic or homeopathic “treatment, or the potentially life-threatening adverse effects that some herbs and supplements can have)

    There was a terrible case in Australia about 15 years ago in which a woman with rectal cancer was convinced by a homeopath that homeopathy could cure her cancer and she did not need to undergo surgery and chemotherapy. The woman’s cancer progressed and she developed a bowel obstruction, at which point she would have died within a day or two without emergency surgery-and even then the homeopath attempted to dissuade her from having surgery. She finally underwent surgery at that point, but by then the cancer had metastasized, and it was too late-she died 2 years of metastatic rectal cancer. Just look up “Penelope Dingle” and you will see what I am referring to.

    And there are many other similar cases of cancer patients choosing quackery over real medicine-and they all have the same sad ending-the patient dies of untreated cancer.

  28. #31 Calli Arcale
    June 26, 2017

    Jonathan @ 27:

    And vaccines were created using the homeopathic literature at the time

    That’d be pretty impressive, considering homeopathy is younger than vaccination. Seriously. Hahnemann was born in 1795, and Jenner published his first paper about vaccination in 1796.

    I won’t even argue with you about adrenal fatigue because you couldn’t understand the biochemistry of it.

    Are you sure that’s why you won’t argue with him about it? Is it that he can’t understand, or because you can’t explain it well enough for anyone to understand? If you want to prove it’s the former, give it a try. Tell us what you think adrenal fatigue is, and why you think it’s a real thing and not just something to allow naturpaths to create more customers.

    • #32 Jonathan
      June 26, 2017

      Sure thing, Calli. I’m going to get right on trying to prove something to you that you don’t have the symptoms of. Let me throw in some biochemistry in there for you.

  29. #33 Jonathan
    Tampa, FL
    June 26, 2017

    You’re basing the whole homeopathic modality against ONE case in Australia of all places. People die with or without medical or naturopathic treatment. However, the fools who were tricked by either side are the loudest.

  30. #34 herr doktor bimler
    June 26, 2017

    Where do you think Jenner got the idea for the cowpox vaccine?

    Not from homeopathy, anyway, unless a time machine was involved.

  31. #35 Eric Lund
    June 26, 2017

    vaccines were created using the homeopathic literature at the time

    I find this unlikely, because Edward Jenner developed the first smallpox vaccine in 1796, the same year that Samuel Hahnemann created homeopathy. (Wikipedia is my source for both dates.) There would not have been an existing body of homeopathic literature to which Jenner could refer.

    By the time other vaccines were being developed, Avogadro’s number was well known. That’s the number that tells most people why homeopathy cannot possibly work: it calls for dilutions to the point where the expected number of molecules of the alleged active ingredient in the remedy is much smaller than 1. Vaccines for viral diseases may contain dead or attenuated viruses, but they do contain detectable amounts of actual virus.

  32. #36 Jonas
    June 26, 2017

    @Jonathan (#31) No, I’m basing my view of homeopathy on the fact it is scientifically impossible for homeopathy to have any effect on any illness. The same is true for acupuncture, reiki, etc-there is no plausible mechanism through which they could possibly work.

    To be blunt, anyone who believes in homeopathy is either out of touch with reality or has absolutely zero understanding of basic science.

    • #37 Jonathan
      June 26, 2017

      I think the Chinese with their 2000+ year old modality of acupuncture would disagree. Basic science is not an explanation for every argument. My undergrad minor is in biology. I’m not saying that homeopathy is a cure-all but it is not snake oil or an agent of death as most medicines are when used improperly.

  33. #38 herr doktor bimler
    June 26, 2017

    ONE case in Australia of all places
    I never thought I’d be defending Australia, but really it’s not as bad as you might think from those Mad Max documentaries.

  34. #39 Eric Lund
    June 26, 2017

    the fools who were tricked by either side

    Holy false equivalence, Batman!

    Science-based medicine is aware of its limitations. There are some diseases for which cures have not yet been found. Late stage cancers are among them.

    Alt-med types are frequently unaware of their limitations. Which is how Ezekiel Stephan, mentioned in the OP, had his case of meningitis turn fatal: by the time it was made clear to his parents that Ezekiel had to get to a hospital pronto, it was too late. And which is why alt-med practitioners almost always fail to cure their patients of cancer (the overwhelming majority of “success stories” do not withstand scrutiny).

  35. #40 Jonas
    June 26, 2017

    @Jonathan (#29)-Jenner was not even the first one to observe the infection with Cowpox conferred immunity to Smallpox. It was actually Dr John Fewster who made that observation, in 1768, and Benjamin Jesty, a farmer, inoculated his wife and two of his sons with cowpox in 1774, so Jenner wasn’t even the first one to use cowpox to protect against Smallpox.

    I will note that the above proves that your claim that “vaccines were created using the homeopathic literature at the time.” is false, since homeopathy DID NOT EXIST in 1774.

  36. #41 Jonathan
    June 26, 2017

    Eric. Science nor alt-meds can cure late-stage cancer. I hope there are not alt-meds out there who state that they can. They’re fighting the good fight along side doctors who think they know everything. Disease processes are complex and contain elements that we do not yet understand; we may never understand them completely. This bickering over who’s right and who’s scientifically correct is what urks me.

  37. #42 Jonas
    June 26, 2017

    @Jonathan (#34)-First and foremost, acupuncture is based on prescientific myths (e.g., the belief in ” qi”), number two, acupuncture as practiced hundreds of years ago bears little resemblance to acupuncture today, with the acupuncture needles being far thicker and the wounds that the insertion of these needles caused often becoming infected.

    Also, I bet you didn’t know that by the end of the Song dynasty acupuncture had fallen out of favor in China, and that in 1822, Chinese Emperor signed a decree BANNING the practice of acupuncture at the Imperial Medical Institute.

  38. #43 Jonas
    June 26, 2017

    @Jonathan-You write that homeopathy is not “an agent of death”-for once, I agree with you-homeopathic remedies are not “agents” of anything because they are no different than a placebo!

  39. #44 Jonathan
    June 26, 2017

    And there are things you will never admit to because you are too sure of yourself. Qi exists alright. Call it what you will.

  40. #45 Rich Bly
    Ocean Shores
    June 26, 2017

    Jonathan, to bricker about who is scientifically correct, you first have to use science. Since, homeopathy, naturopathy etc, etc do not use any science what so ever they have no place to argue or bricker about who is right.

  41. #46 doug
    June 26, 2017

    an aside on the case of the death of Ezekiel Stephan:

    Still no verdict in the Stephans’ appeal of their convictions for failure to provide the necessaries of life. The appeal was heard in February, and the judges promised to be prompt (I don’t recall the exact words). Ha!

    I suspect that there is a dissenting opinion among the three judges, resulting in all of them going back to look at more case law.

  42. #47 Jonathan
    June 26, 2017

    I’ll leave you to your science, Rich.

  43. #48 Jonas
    June 26, 2017

    @Jonathan (#40)-Well, it doesn’t, but it’s very obvious that nobody here is going to be able to make you see that…

    I am interested to see how you try to explain away the fact that a 2008 study found that sham acupuncture was at least as “effective” as “real” acupuncture (thus proving that any “effect” of acupuncture is nothing but the placebo effect), though (read my next comment).

  44. #49 Jonas
    June 26, 2017

    Jonathan, how do you explain this?
    “OBJECTIVE:
    To compare true and sham acupuncture in their abilities to relieve arm pain and improve arm function in individuals with arm pain due to repetitive use.
    METHODS:
    Participants with persistent arm pain (N=123) were randomly assigned to true or sham acupuncture groups and received 8 treatments over 4 weeks. The primary outcome was intensity of pain (10-point scale) and secondary outcomes were arm symptoms, arm function, and grip strength. Outcomes were measured during treatment (at 2 and 4 wk) and 1 month after treatment ended.
    RESULTS:
    Arm pain scores improved in both groups during the treatment period, but improvements were significantly greater in the sham group than in the true acupuncture group. This difference disappeared by 1 month after treatment ended. The true acupuncture group experienced more side effects, predominantly mild pain at time of treatments.
    DISCUSSION:
    Sham acupuncture reduced arm pain more than true acupuncture during treatment, but the difference did not persist after 1 month. Mild side effects from true acupuncture may have blunted any positive treatment effects. Overall, this study did not find evidence to support the effectiveness of true acupuncture in treatment of persistent arm pain due to repetitive use.”

    Source:
    Goldman, R.H., Stason, W.B., Park, S.K., Kim, R., Schnyer, R.N., Davis, R.B., Legedza, A.T., Kaptchuk, T.J. (2008). Acupuncture for Treatment of Persistent Arm Pain Due to Repetitive Use: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. Clin J. Pain, 24(3), 211-218.

    • #50 Jonathan
      June 26, 2017

      Jonas. Don’t take one study and try to prove you’re the king of England. It’s not becoming of such a delegate.

  45. #51 Jenora Feuer
    Toronto
    June 26, 2017

    Also from Canada this morning: recommending a crackdown on ‘natural health products’

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/medical-journal-takes-aim-at-naturopathic-remedies-1.4174165

    Needless to say, naturopaths aren’t happy.

    The last paragraph really sets it out:

    Health Canada is currently reviewing the regulations that govern the sale of self-care products, including naturopathic remedies. At a recent stop in Toronto, Manon Bombardier, Health Canada’s director general of natural and nonprescription health products, said under the current rules, she has no authority to remove from shelves a natural remedy that proves to be harming people.

    “We need to change that,” she said. “Health Canada has the power to recall a bag of chips, but does not have the power to to recall an unsafe natural health product.”

  46. #52 Dangerous Bacon
    June 26, 2017

    “You’re basing the whole homeopathic modality against ONE case in Australia of all places.”

    http://whatstheharm.net/homeopathy.html

  47. #53 shay simmons
    June 26, 2017

    Jonathan — Jonas cited one study, fortunately there are plenty more out there demonstrating (sometimes inadvertently) the useless of acupuncture as an effective treatment for anything but fat walletitis.

    http://www.dcscience.net/2013/05/30/acupuncture-is-a-theatrical-placebo-the-end-of-a-myth/

    • #54 Jonathan
      June 26, 2017

      And doctors don’t get paid exorbitant amounts for doing nothing more than recording height/weight and blood pressure readings. Acupuncture isn’t going anywhere, neither is homeopathy or naturopathy. As long as there are doctors who cannot help people with their symptoms, there will be alternative practitioners who can. So if you can call up the medical establishment and ask them to cure everything and provide a scientific explanation for everything else, I’ll ignore the studies who profit off of demeaning the competition.

  48. #55 CJTX
    June 26, 2017

    @41 “This bickering over who’s right and who’s scientifically correct is what urks me.”

    Seriously? Really? I would think THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT.
    I want the treatment that’s scientifically accurate, thank you very much.

  49. #56 Jenora Feuer
    June 26, 2017

    As long as there are doctors who cannot help people with their symptoms, there will be alternative practitioners …

    If you’d stopped there, you would have been accurate. There are always going to be people willing to profit off the desperate.

  50. #57 Dangerous Bacon
    June 26, 2017

    I’m urked by all the brickering.

    And a mite confused.

  51. #58 Anonymous Coward
    June 26, 2017

    No, I don’t hate naturopaths, I pity the fools, for they will destroy everyone who goes under their care!

  52. #59 sadmar
    June 26, 2017

    @ Orac #25:

    My point is that showing up on 16% of websites is exactly evidence of a strong point of emphasis. Websites don’t have that much info, and there’s good reason to expect naturos who might volunteer anti-vax options in the exam room if they gauge their clients might be receptive would avoid trumpeting such a hot-button topic in their advertising. AV is a word-of-mouth thing anyway. My experience in/with advertising PR etc. suggests that if you took any known common ‘controversial’ position within groups-who-advertise-to-the-general-public – like Mitt Romney’s 40% for a non-naturo example – you’d find mentions of that below 10% in public forums. I don’t deny that 16% of anything seems small, but that’s why I would have liked Caulfield et al to frame the number within some context of comparison.

    Side note: I’ll do brief scans of right-wing talk radio when I’m in the car and the sports stations are in commercial or just dumb or boring, and when Trump left the Paris accords one of the popular nationally syndicated hosts said carbon emissions were nothing to be concerned about because carbon dioxide constitutes such a small percentage of the gasses in the atmosphere. Really. It’s still only 400 parts per million, nothing to worry about…

    Having been an actual professional language/communication pedant/pedagogue, and a damn good one, I’ll comment on efforts that strike me as unproductive when the mood strikes me. Fwiw, that wasn’t a flame and had nothing to do with grammar. I just literally don’t understand why you insist on framing this stuff in ways that can be easily mis-interpreted, taken as more extremist than you actually are, and cause your credibility to suffer.

    I was actually trying to help you out by pointing out the way in which “you can’t have naturopathy without {X}” is true, since I suspect most folks new to the blog would take the claim as applying at the level of individual naturopaths, and blanch at that, thinking some practitioners somewhere may indeed choose to support the CDC schedule (3% is a ‘can have’) or eschew prescribing the homeopathic remedies they learned about at school. (As if anyone practices everything they ‘learned’ in college. I taught college kids for over 30 years, so I know better.) That is, “you can’t have naturopathy without {X}” sounds like a universal, global, unqualified claim, and such claims about anything are just rhetorical malpractice. on all three parts of Aristole’s breakdown of logos, pathos, and ethos.

    These matters hardly pedantic trivia, especially in terms of the last senetence you excerpted, noting that it’s not hard to find renegade MDs whole promote homeopathy (comically, in the case of Bill Gray) and cater to anti-vax (not so comically, like the Drs. Sears). It really is a question of relative numbers, and without that, the argument fails as logos. And without an acknowledgement that self-regulation by MDs does nothing to stop the woo-slingers, deriding self-regulation for naturopaths is going to risk appearing as credibility-damaging hypocrisy, and pathos alienating smugness.

    I do know, believe me, that you’ll frame your points any damned way you feel like. There’s a reason the original comment isn’t addressed to you. It’s not about you personally, but about the general principle, of which you just happened to provide an example. And it’s not for you, either, but for anyone who happens by and might care to think about how best to make an effective case against naturopathy to an audience that hasn’t already taken sides and dug in.

  53. #60 Eric Lund
    June 26, 2017

    Qi exists

    Prove it. Demonstrate that it has observable effects that cannot be explained by other means.

    That last sentence is important. We don’t yet know what dark matter is, but we do observe the effects it has on the Universe, we see that the observed effects are exactly what theory predicts, and that no alternative explanation fits all of the observed facts. That is what distinguished dark matter from qi. Not only do we not know what qi is, the explanations of what it allegedly does are not consistent from one practitioner to another. It amounts to what physicists call handwaving (I don’t know whether medical doctors use that term similarly).

  54. #61 Jonathan
    June 26, 2017

    Cut your arm off. That phantom feeling where your arm used your be….yea…that’s Qi. Proof enough for me. Call it quantum resonance for all I care. You just want a label and a study to help you sleep better at night. I use Ambien when needed.

    • #62 CJTX
      June 26, 2017

      No, no that’s not it at all.
      Those are your nerves and brain.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phantom_limb

      (Seriously, I did a science fair project on this in middle school, are you kidding me right now?)

  55. #63 Gray Falcon
    June 26, 2017

    Tell you what, Jonathan. Produce something that works like this:
    http://dragonball.wikia.com/wiki/Scouter

    Then we’ll believe that qi exists.

  56. #64 Jonathan
    June 26, 2017

    You and your Wikipedia references…qi is synonymous with energy. Last time I checked, your brain and nervous system run on energy. I’m going to use some qi to roll my eyes right now.

    • #65 CJTX
      June 26, 2017

      So, can qi be measured, quantified, and altered with electricity and medications like nerves, muscles, and the brain?

      Show me on my last MRI where the qi is?

      Or are you just admitting that what you call qi is what real scientists and doctors call electrical impulses? Cause that would be progress.

      This argument makes no damn sense WHATSOEVER.

  57. #66 Jonathan
    June 26, 2017

    No, CJTX. These guys just want to discredit thousands of years of Asian history and you just want a label that credits a scientific term to help you better understand it. There’s no argument. You’re just trying to stress yourself out.

    • #67 CJTX
      June 27, 2017

      “These guys just want to discredit thousands of years of Asian history”

      Citation needed. For both parts of that.

      “and you just want a label that credits a scientific term to help you better understand it.”
      That’s kinda how science works. And progress and civilization. Also qi has never been proven to exist. If someone you care about was ever to get Alzheimers or Parkinsons, would you believe poking a needle in their foot would treat it?

      “There’s no argument.”
      Clearly not. Denialism is strong with this one.

      “You’re just trying to stress yourself out.”
      ???
      What does that even mean?

      • #68 Jonathan
        June 27, 2017

        Yes. I’d rather stick a needle in a family member in lieu of a drug.
        Taken from http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1247-acupuncturepointsalzheimers

        Researchers find that acupuncture may help Alzheimer’s disease patients. Laboratory findings show that acupuncture reduces plaques in the brain that cause dementia. The researchers note that their findings suggest that acupuncture improves memory and prevents degradation of brain tissue. They note “that EA (electroacupuncture) may be a promising treatment for AD (Alzheimer’s disease)” and “may improve cognitive function.”

        • #69 CJTX
          June 27, 2017

          Well then, we have absolutely nothing to talk about. You might as well cast a spell, sacrifice a chicken, or pray.

          Oh wait, this’ll be fun:
          “Study” sponsored by:
          “About HealthCMi
          The Healthcare Medicine Institute provides acupuncture CEU continuing education credit for licensed acupuncturists with anytime online courses and live webinars. The HealthCMi news division provides up-to-date research and acupuncture continuing education news.”
          Might as well ask the petro companies what they think about climate change.

          “The researchers note that their findings suggest that acupuncture improves memory and prevents degradation of brain tissue.”
          Oh really? Real doctors, scientists, and researchers would ask, “how?” – but I’m not one so I’ll skip to the logical gaps (assuming all data is actually true and not pulled out of one’s hiney)

          “The findings are a result of a controlled laboratory experiment on cognitively impaired mice with AD.”
          Ahhh, mice. High standard that.

          Also, not to be discriminatory, but it looks like all the studies cited are chinese – where it’s a known fact they manipulate data to achieve a result per the direction of the chinese government.

          After that, it gets too sciency for me – but I bet the fine people would have a field day with it.

          At any rate, let’s have that whole thing get reproduced in a serious, RCT, shall we?

  58. #70 herr doktor bimler
    June 27, 2017

    Cut your arm off. That phantom feeling where your arm used your be….yea…that’s Qi. Proof enough for me.

    Sounds risky. A lot of amputees never experience a phantom limb effect. Sometimes it develops, but years later. maybe they didn’t have any Qi?

  59. #71 herr doktor bimler
    June 27, 2017

    Qi. Proof enough for me. Call it quantum resonance for all I care.

    Or I could call it ‘wibble’. Or ‘calenture fritillary hatstand’. I’d be making as much sense.

  60. #72 Richard
    The Netherlands
    June 27, 2017

    @Jonathan, #19

    There is no such thing as real medicine.

    Yes there is, at least as opposed to quackery. Real medicine consist of treatments that have proven efficacy, i.e. they do more than pure placebo treatments (a.k.a. quackery or “pretend medicine”).
    And even if those generally proven treatments have drawbacks and risks, and its practitioners sometimes make mistakes, that does not mean that we should tolerate pure placebo treatments, especially when patients are conned into believing that these treatments have proven efficacy.

    As I said, accepting those fake treatments means a very serious lowering of medical standards, apart from the fact that these fake treatments also cost money — and that real medicine is supposed to clean up the mess when it turns out that a fake treatment didn’t help a patient after all.

    In my opinion, naturopaths, homeopaths and other quacks are just parasites: their ‘successes’ have nothing to do with their interventions, and everything with natural processes, and often even the success of real medicine — just look at all those cancer patients who attribute their healing to ‘alternative’ treatments, when in reality they received real and proven effective treatments as well. I therefore think that ‘parasitic medicine’ is a good general term for naturopathy and other forms of quackery: it lives off real patients with real ailments, without providing any real benefits in return.

  61. #73 Terrie
    June 27, 2017

    If denying Qi as a scientific concept is discrediting thousands of years of Asian history (as if Asia were a monolith and not many distinct cultures), then what do you call the rejection of the humours theory of disease? Perhaps you have an excess of yellow bile, which can cause people to become argumentative.

  62. #74 Martine
    June 27, 2017

    When your level of consciousness and awareness reaches your higher self you will read your words and wonder where you were! That is if you ever get to finish reading your above article… Wishing you a peaceful sleep, those that are awake will try to be as quite as possible so as to not disturb you! It’s quite common hearing people rant with no substance if tried to waken before they’re ready… Sleep tight Authur ☺️

  63. #75 Rich Bly
    Ocean Shores
    June 27, 2017

    Here is an easy test to see if homeopathy actually works. Homeopathy states that water has a memory factor that allows it to work. If you own a gas powered lawn mower empty the fuel tank. Buy 2 one gallon gas cans, fill one with gas. Now pour all but a small amount of the full gas can into the empty one. Now add water (of your choice) to now mostly empty gas can. Shake well. Now fill fuel tank of lawn mower. If mower starts and run homeopathy works, if it doesn’t start and run homeopathy is at best a farce.

  64. #76 Richard
    The Netherlands
    June 27, 2017

    @Rich Bly, #74
    Countless tests have been devised for this ‘water memory’. All have failed so far.
    Besides, if what homeopaths claim is true (i.e. the water retains a sort of persistent ‘imprint’ of the original tincture by diluting and shaking), then the water must not only have a memory, but intelligence as well. Because around dilution step 3-4 (C or K scale, so 1:100 per step), there are as many molecules of the original substance as there are contaminants: carbon dioxide and dust particles from the air, all sorts of salt ions and even metals such as lead and arsenic, leaching from the glass in tiny but traceable amounts. Yet somehow the water doesn’t remember an ‘imprint’ of any of those unwanted substances, it only remembers what the homeopath wants it to remember. That’s some smart water!

  65. #77 Rich Bly
    Ocean Shores
    June 27, 2017

    Richard,

    I only put that up to show some of the less informed readers how easy it is to disprove homeopathy. I forgot to mention if you run this experiment, you will at least have an expensive bill to repair to the mower.

  66. #78 Richard
    The Netherlands
    June 27, 2017

    I only put that up to show some of the less informed readers…

    Yeah, I know, and perhaps I should have included some tongue-in-cheek hint in my reply as well — homeopathy is so utterly ludicrous in so many respects, that I’m always surprised that there are actually people (including homeopaths) who take it seriously.
    It keeps reminding me of a bunch of seven-year-old girls who play witches, much like my stepdaughter used to do when she was that age: “OK, we have mud, and grass, and stinging nettles, and a dead beetle and one match head. Now if we put some more water in and shake it ten times, we will have a real magic potion!”
    And also eerily similar to homeopaths, when asked what it was that this magic potion was supposed to do, they made things up on the spot — although of course there was a generous dose of ‘stinging’ and ‘crawling’ and ‘fire’ and other imaginary properties derived straight from the ingredients. And in fact their potion might actually do something, quite contrary to ‘real’ homeopathic stuff. So all considered, homeopathy is even sillier than little girls’ make-believe witch play 🙂

  67. #79 Politicalguineapig
    June 27, 2017

    Jonathan: Researchers find that acupuncture may help Alzheimer’s disease patients.

    A lot of things ‘help’ with Alzheimers. Cats, personal contact. But nothing, including acupuncture, has cured Alzheimers. Also, why would you want to torment an Alzheimers patient with needles?
    I’ve done acupuncture, ok? Mostly it’s relaxing, but sometimes, the acupuncturist misses their mark.(For the record, it didn’t actually help with anything but my sleeping habits.) My grandmother had dementia, and trust me, all holy hell would’ve broken loose if we’d been fool enough to try acupuncture.
    Also, why are you taking ambien? Shouldn’t you just meditate or look in the mirror and feel smug for an hour? Seems kinda hypocritical of you to run your mouth about Western medicine and then pop in an Ambien, a product of said Western medicine.

  68. #80 Calli Arcale
    June 27, 2017

    Jonathan @ 32:

    Sure thing, Calli. I’m going to get right on trying to prove something to you that you don’t have the symptoms of. Let me throw in some biochemistry in there for you.

    So, is that an admission you do not understand “adrenal fatigue” well enough to explain it? There are actual biochemists here; if you think one needs to be a biochemist to understand that, there should be nothing stopping you. Nothing, that is, unless you have nothing to say.

    I do notice you did not respond to me pointing out that vaccination predates homeopathy, and therefore cannot have been inspired by it. This seems to be a pattern for you — ignore what you cannot explain. Do you imagine that impresses people?

  69. #81 W. Kevin Vicklund
    United States
    June 27, 2017

    Researchers find that acupuncture may help Alzheimer’s disease patients. Laboratory findings show that acupuncture reduces plaques in the brain that cause dementia. The researchers note that their findings suggest that acupuncture improves memory and prevents degradation of brain tissue.

    Really? Simply by sticking thin needles and twizzling them, like the Chinese have been doing for thousands of months?

    They note “that EA (electroacupuncture) may be a promising treatment for AD (Alzheimer’s disease)” and “may improve cognitive function.”

    Oh, that’s disappointing. They’ve taken a standard medical device (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), based on two thousand years of Western medicine, and called it acupuncture simply because you can use needles as electrodes. Note that TENS has been demonstrated in clinical trials to do many of the things claimed in the link. Scholarly articles

    Shocking the lengths these so-caled TCM practitioners will go to. And here you had me all amped up. Guess I’ll have to rely on meditation.

    Ohmmmmmmmmmmmm….

  70. #82 Can't remember my 'nym
    or where I am
    June 27, 2017

    Jonathan –
    “Australia of all places” – what the f@ck is that supposed to mean, mate?

    Plenty of people here have medical and science backgrounds. Please, please explain adrenal fatigue to us. Should I not be able to understand, explain, diagnose or treat any condition I’ve never experienced? I hope the ridiculousness of that assertion is obvious. Otherwise I’d be a pretty useless doctor limited to treating hay fever, tonsilitis and mild period pain.

    You ought o be embarrassed by your anti-science, quack-apologist ravings. You don’t deserve Ambien.

  71. #83 squirrelelite
    June 28, 2017

    I wonder if Harry Nilsson was thinking of a naturopath when he wrote this song?

  72. #84 alison
    waiting for my next appointment
    June 28, 2017

    @ #41: “Science nor alt-meds can cure late-stage cancer. I hope there are not alt-meds out there who state that they can.”

    *cough* Burzynski *cough*. Or anyone promoting Gerson ‘therapy’, for that matter.

  73. #85 Chris
    June 28, 2017

    Jonathan, here is a little reading about what is happening with real science:
    https://spectrumnews.org/features/special-reports/the-genetics-of-autism/

    And if you have tired of paying top price for magical sugar pills I have this for you:

    Recipe for Nat Mur or Natrum Mur or Natrium Mur or Natrum muriaticum:

    1) Take ½ teaspoon of sea salt and dissolve into 1 cup of distilled water in a bottle.

    2) Shake well.

    3) This is a 1C solution (ratio 1/100).

    4) Take ½ teaspoon of the 1C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 1C solution.

    5) Shake well.

    6) This is a 2C solution (ratio 1/10000).

    7) Take ½ teaspoon of the 2C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 2C solution.

    8) Shake well.

    9) This is a 3C solution (ratio 1/1000000).

    10) Take ½ teaspoon of the 3C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 3C solution.

    11) Shake well.

    12) This is a 4C solution (ratio 1/100000000).

    13) Take ½ teaspoon of the 4C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 4C solution.

    14) Shake well.

    15) This is a 5C solution (ratio 1/10000000000).

    16) Take ½ teaspoon of the 5C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 5C solution.

    17) Shake well.

    18) This is a 6C solution (ratio 1/1000000000000).

    19) Take ½ teaspoon of the 6C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 6C solution.

    20) Shake well.

    21) This is a 7C solution (ratio 1/100000000000000).

    22) Take ½ teaspoon of the 7C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 7C solution.

    23) Shake well.

    24) This is an 8C solution (ratio 1/10000000000000000).

    25) Take ½ teaspoon of the 8C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 8C solution.

    26) Shake well.

    27) This is a 9C solution (ratio 1/1000000000000000000).

    28) Take ½ teaspoon of the 9C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 9C solution.

    29) Shake well.

    30) This is a 10C solution (ratio 1/100000000000000000000).

    31) Take ½ teaspoon of the 10C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 10C solution.

    32) Shake well.

    33) This is a 11C solution (ratio 1/10000000000000000000000).

    34) Take ½ teaspoon of the 11C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 11C solution.

    35) Shake well.

    36) This is a 12C solution (ratio 1/1000000000000000000000000).

    37) Take ½ teaspoon of the 12C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 12C solution.

    38) Shake well.

    39) This is a 13C solution (ratio 1/100000000000000000000000000).

    40) Take ½ teaspoon of the 13C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 13C solution.

    41) Shake well.

    42) This is a 14C solution (ratio 1/10000000000000000000000000000).

    43) Take ½ teaspoon of the 14C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 14C solution.

    44) Shake well.

    45) This is a 15C solution (ratio 1/1000000000000000000000000000000).

    46) Take ½ teaspoon of the 15C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 15C solution.

    47) Shake well.

    48) This is a 16C solution (ratio 1/100000000000000000000000000000000).

    49) Take ½ teaspoon of the 16C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 16C solution.

    50) Shake well.

    51) This is a 17C solution (ratio 1/10000000000000000000000000000000000).

    52) Take ½ teaspoon of the 17C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 17C solution.

    53) Shake well.

    54) This is an 18C solution (ratio 1/1000000000000000000000000000000000000).

    55) Take ½ teaspoon of the 18C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 18C solution.

    56) Shake well.

    57) This is a 19C solution (ratio 1/100000000000000000000000000000000000000).

    58) Take ½ teaspoon of the 19C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 19C solution.

    59) Shake well.

    60) This is a 20C solution (ratio 1/10000000000000000000000000000000000000000).

    61) Take ½ teaspoon of the 20C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 20C solution.

    62) Shake well.

    63) This is a 21C solution (ratio 1 in 10^42 or 1/1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000).

    64) Take ½ teaspoon of the 21C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 21C solution.

    65) Shake well.

    66) This is a 22C solution (ratio 1 in 10^44 or 1/100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000).

    67) Take ½ teaspoon of the 22C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 22C solution.

    68) Shake well.

    69) This is a 23C solution (ratio 1 in 10^46 or 1/10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000).

    70) Take ½ teaspoon of the 23C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 23C solution.

    71) Shake well.

    72) This is a 24C solution (ratio 1 in 10^48 or 1/1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000).

    73) Take ½ teaspoon of the 24C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 24C solution.

    74) Shake well.

    75) This is a 25C solution (ratio 1 in 10^50 or 1/100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000).

    76) Take ½ teaspoon of the 25C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 25C solution.

    77) Shake well.

    78) This is a 26C solution (ratio 1 in 10^52 or 1/10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000).

    79) Take ½ teaspoon of the 26C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 26C solution.

    80) Shake well.

    81) This is a 27C solution (ratio 1 in 10^54 or 1/1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000).
    (the zeros are running off of the page!)

    82) Take ½ teaspoon of the 27C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 27C solution.

    83) Shake well.

    84) This is a 28C solution (ratio 1 in 10^56 or 1/100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000).

    85) Take ½ teaspoon of the 28C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 28C solution.

    86) Shake well.

    87) This is a 29C solution (ratio 1 in 10^58 or 1/10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000).

    88) Take ½ teaspoon of the 29C solution and put it a bottle with 1 cup of distilled water, throw out the 29C solution.

    89) Shake well.

    90) This is a 30C solution (ratio 1 in 10^60 or 1/1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000).

    And then you are done! To make the pills, go to baking center of your grocery store and get some plain cake decorating sprinkles. You can try dropping some of the solution on the sprinkles, or just set the bottle next to the solution for it to absorb the energy (which is the typical method used for over the counter homeopathic remedies).

    You can make up other remedies by knowing what the mother tincture is… For instance “Nux Vomica” (or Nux Vom) is from the Nux Vomica plant which contains the poison strychnine, Nux Sulph uses sulpher, and the stuff advertised on the radio for colds, Oscillococcinum is from duck bits.

  74. #86 shay simmons
    speaking rhetorically
    June 28, 2017

    Why am I not allowed to upvote Chris’ posts?

  75. #87 Chris
    June 28, 2017

    Because sometimes this is a silly site. 😉

    (Also I have to post with an alternative email address because of silly sockpuppet stuff)

  76. #88 Julian Frost
    Gauteng North
    June 29, 2017

    Avogadro’s number, number of units in one mole of any substance (defined as its molecular weight in grams), equal to 6.022140857 × 10 23.
    A 12C solution has been diluted 1 * 100 a total of 12 times. It is a dilution of 1 * 10 24.
    By that point, the odds that there is even a single atom/molecule of the “medicinal” substance remaining in the solution are very low. By 30C, or 1 * 10 60, the odds are 1 * 10 36.
    Homeopathy is hogwash.

  77. #89 Julian Frost
    June 29, 2017

    I guess the [sup] tags don’t work here.

  78. #90 Murmur
    UK-ia
    June 29, 2017

    I’m still waiting for the wunnerful “biochemistry” proving adrenal fatigue is real, which no-one, apparently, on a site mostly populated by medics, nurses, scientists of various stripes and the like, will understand.

    How come in all the gazillion blood tests I’ve had in the last 3 months no-one has looked at this? And how come the MRI I had this week didn’t show any “qi”?

    Damn, but North East England must be backwards!

  79. #91 Se Habla Espol
    June 29, 2017

    Julian Frost, June 29, 2017, #89:

    I guess the [sup] tags don’t work here.

    Why would scienceblogs want anyone able to write science here, anyway?

    In lieu of <sub> and <sup< tags, I’ve been known to use the raised and lowered Unicode glyphs that I find at wikipedia under Unicode_subscripts_and_superscripts. Since the pages here seem to use UTF-8 encoding, one should be able to use any old Unicode character, subject only to the reader’s browser and selection of font. Let’s try 6.022140857 × 10²³ and see what happens.

  80. #92 Mustapha Mond
    July 6, 2017

    Crikey, if someone discovered the cure for all cancers, brought about world peace, figured out how to avoid climate change, and found the God particle, yet had some trepidation regarding the CDC vaccine schedule Orac would label them a crank. Talk about a one song singer. Orac missed his true calling as a vaccine sales rep.

    • #93 Se Habla Espol
      July 7, 2017

      If this miracle worker that you imagine tried to abuse his fame to endanger the population with VPDs, of course many of us would call him on it. Being right in some things does not make him right in all, and doesn’t give him immunity from correction when he is wrong.

  81. #94 MI Dawn
    July 7, 2017

    @Se Habla Espol: give Mustapha Mond a little credit, though. At least he seems to understand that “cancer” is not a single entity, unlike most alties. And, he doesn’t apparently know what Dunning-Kruger is.

    @Mustapha Mond: Orac doesn’t have time to be a medical sales rep. He’s very busy as a breast cancer surgeon and researcher. However, since he does care for women in (often) immunosuppressed states, he is very pro-vaccine.

  82. #95 Mustapha Mond
    July 10, 2017

    “he is very pro-vaccine.”

    Pathologically obsessed with vaccines you mean. I’m quite sure there is a DSM-V diagnosis for that. There may even be a medication that could help. No vaccine available I’m afraid though.

  83. #96 Chris
    July 10, 2017

    Hmmm, there must be a DSM-V diagnosis for someone who thinks he can diagnose “obsession” by what a blogger writes? He is a medical blogger, and this just one aspect that he blogs about.

  84. #97 Tommmy
    July 11, 2017

    Man, Jonathan is the very definition of a troll. Someone should have been able to do away with him in more efficient fashion though. I guess the problem is where to begin!?

  85. #98 Mustapha Mond
    July 12, 2017

    “He is a medical blogger, and this just one aspect that he blogs about.”

    Riiiiiight…. That’s why the vast majority of entries are on vaccines, as anyone with eyes and a brain can easily check by looking at the last 10 entries and their content.

    Clearly you are an Orac sycophant if you are willing to submit this obviously wrong comment for all to see. What kind of doctor/blogger requires their own band of salivating sycophants? Usually that’s reserved for emperor/clothing type territory.

    • #99 CJTX
      July 12, 2017

      That’s why the vast majority of entries are on vaccines, as anyone with eyes and a brain can easily check by looking at the last 10 entries and their content.

      assuming your faulty sampling turns out to be correct and they do compose “the vast majority of entries”, it makes sense given vaccinations are probably the greatest public health success in the history of man AND seem to be the #1 target by woo-meisters.

      Did you know that between 1941 and 1946 the vast majority of stories in american newspapers were about WWII?

      Obviously, they were obsessed!

      • #100 Orac
        July 12, 2017

        Also, the reason for so much on vaccines lately is because it’s what’s been interesting me lately. It’s summer, and there hasn’t been a lot of other news that caught my attention. I’m sure that will change. 🙂

  86. #101 Chris
    July 12, 2017

    If you don’t like what he writes, then don’t read it. Or just start your own blog. Because who just doesn’t love someone who whines about what a blogger writes?

  87. #102 Narad
    July 12, 2017

    That’s why the vast majority of entries are on vaccines, as anyone with eyes and a brain can easily check by looking at the last 10 entries and their content.

    One of these things is not like the others.

  88. #103 Chris
    July 12, 2017

    ,Narad, I doubt you will see that much intellectual rigor from someone who thinks a string of insults is a valid substitute for evidence, or even civil discussion. Especially since he seemed to not know how the category cloud on the right hand side of the page works.

  89. #104 Mustapha Mond
    July 12, 2017

    All you sycophants always sing in complete unison. How about some harmony once in a while, or God forbid, dissonance? Must you all echo the exact same thing, all the time? Science is not a popularity contest.

    • #105 Se Habla Espol
      July 12, 2017

      Must you all echo the exact same thing, all the time? Science is not a popularity contest.

      There is but one objective reality, so there is unison in science. There’s lots of dissension in the various religions, since each one is based on a particular collection plate/woo/conspiracy. The agreement you see here reflects the common value we place on reality vs unsupported opinion—disagreement is seen on matters of values, of course, since values are subjective. These values also come up on matters where the scientific understanding isn’t settled: the validity of naturopatheticism isn’t one of those unsettled areas..

  90. #106 Mustapha Mond
    July 12, 2017

    Of course, there is this thing too:

    “Yeah, that happened to me last night. I had wanted to move on from writing about antivaccine nonsense, as it seems that that’s all I’ve been writing about for the last several days (probably because it almost is)”

    Let the cognitive dissonance begin!

    • #107 Se Habla Espol
      July 12, 2017

      What cognitive dissonance might you be imagining?

  91. #108 Narad
    July 12, 2017

    There is but one objective reality

    Please note that I reject ontology wholesale.

  92. #109 Narad
    July 12, 2017

    ^ Oh, and that phraseology implies plural minds, which implies dualism. I don’t see it as a useful approach to anything.

  93. #110 Se Habla Espol
    July 12, 2017

    Watch out, Narad: Mustapha Mond has ordered us not to disagree or even discuss with each other, since we’re all Orac’s sycophants.

  94. #111 Narad
    July 12, 2017

    Watch out, Narad

    Sheer cussedness is a marker of a good day for me at this point.

  95. #112 Chris
    July 12, 2017

    Wow, this is hilarious. Poor little Mustapha is reduced to repeating random insults, and is left without a single cogent response.

  96. #113 Renate
    July 13, 2017

    Actually I see dissonance enough, not only from those anti-vaccionists, but as well from people who might agree on vaccins, but aren’t agreeing at other things. If you want some dissonance, read discussions between Political Guinea Pig and others on this blog.

  97. #114 rs
    July 13, 2017

    “we’re all Orac’s sycophants”

    What?? I thought that I’d finally succeeded at becoming a minion. With a few more years hard work I hope to reach the elevated stratum of shill.