White Coat Underground

A challenge to homeopaths

Dana Ullman, a Huffington Post blogger who never fails to bring the stupid, has now gathered all the idiocy he can find, put it in a wheelbarrow, and dumped it into his latest piece up at HuffPo. In this piece, he calls on readers to stop all medications (except, presumably, the voodoo potions he approves of). A lawyer probably got to him before posting because he inserted an asterisk after this idiotic piece of advice recommending consulting your doctor first.

Which is it, Dana? Do the doctors have it all wrong, or should we consult them before “unplugging”? Dana suggests that this “unplugging” will allow us to better heal ourselves.

Sadly, many of us are so arrogant that we think that we are smarter than our own bodies. We think that we can do better than what nature has provided us. The idea that we can or even should “conquer” nature is so 19th century. Some people today actually think that our bodies are not very smart and that we could and should overcome its weaknesses by the use of pharmaceutical agents that can rid the body of its symptoms.

The fact of the matter is that our symptoms are our body’s best efforts to defend and heal ourselves from infection, environmental assault or any type of stress. Drugs that suppress our symptoms may provide short-term benefits, but they usually inhibit our own self-healing and self-regulating functions.

Let’s take a real example. About 75 million American adults have high blood pressure (hypertension). Hypertension kills at least 15/100,000 Americans yearly (the rates differ significantly by ethnicity). Hypertension kills primarily by causing heart attacks and strokes. It also causes kidney failure and peripheral artery disease. Hypertension generally takes years to kill, and during these years, it almost never causes any symptoms. According to Ullman, “symptoms are our body’s best efforts to defend and heal ourselves…”. Apparently, our bodies are not quite as “wise” as he supposes.

The nice thing about hypertension is that it is easily treated and its consequences easily prevented. Diet and exercise often help lower blood pressure, and a number of medications are available for those who cannot achieve a goal blood pressure for whatever reason.

While I wait for phone calls from my patients who have stopped taking their meds on Ullman’s advice, I’d like to hear from him.

Dana, how do you, as a “homeopathic expert”, suggest we treat hypertension? Since it is not always preventable or treatable with diet and exercise, and has no wise, healing symptoms, how would you, in your practice, approach this common disease?

Comments

  1. #1 Scott
    May 20, 2010

    Well, hypertension can be caused by hypervolemia, so I suggest he start with a 100% solution of water and dilute it with water until there’s no water left.

  2. #2 mxh
    May 20, 2010

    Drugs that suppress our symptoms may provide short-term benefits, but they usually inhibit our own self-healing and self-regulating functions.

    I’ve heard this from a lot of people about pain also. I always ask them if they would avoid pain meds if they broke their femur… they usually ignore me and talk about steroids ruining your immune system.

    …and scott that is pretty damn hilarious!

  3. #3 Paholaisen Asianajaja
    May 20, 2010

    I have seen the future, and it is full of crickets chirping.

  4. #4 6EQUJ5
    May 20, 2010

    When I was a kid, I suffered mumps, measles, chickenpox, tonsillitis, colds, and influenza.

    I missed out on polio because I got inoculated with some smarts thanks to Jonas Salk.

    Stupid body.

  5. #5 D. C. Sessions
    May 20, 2010

    I can’t wait to pass on his advice to the co-worker, co-worker’s wife, and nephew who are Type I diabetics. They will be so delighted to be able to quit the whole test-strip/insulin habit.

  6. #6 eNeMeE
    May 20, 2010

    they usually ignore me and talk about steroids ruining your immune system.

    Ask them about diabetes (type 1), celiac disease, and auto-immune hepatitis. If they get reduced to sputtering and incoherence, punch them in the gut flick them in the forehead for me.

  7. #7 chris
    May 20, 2010

    I suffered from a severe bunion in my left foot. My body was certainly providing sufficient symptoms to let me know there was a problem. Eventually I had surgery, but for about two months leading up to that I had to take Darvocet just to sleep. Following the surgery I took Vicodin for the post-surgical pain, and since I am still having problems I occasionally take Tylenol-3. I’m curious what I should have done other than the surgery to fix the “stress” in my foot?

    And I tried orthotic inserts for a while, but they didn’t work.

  8. #8 Swampy
    May 20, 2010

    Where does this man have an M.P.H. from? Mail-order U?

    Good lord, the stupidity is just overwhelming. Thanks for posting on this.

  9. #9 jay.sweet
    May 20, 2010

    Something occurred to me while reading this… sometimes it’s hard to put our finger on why the evolution/creationism battle is so important — I mean, nobody ever died because they believed in creationism, right?

    But it occurs to me that nobody with a halfway decent layperson’s understanding of Darwinian evolution would ever assert something as stupid as the idea that are bodies are “smarter than we are” and can heal themselves. Ullman and his marks followers may not be Creationists per se, but if they had a decent education in evolution, there’s no way they could buy this bullshit.

  10. #10 Calli Arcale
    May 20, 2010

    Ullman:

    Sadly, many of us are so arrogant that we think that we are smarter than our own bodies. We think that we can do better than what nature has provided us. The idea that we can or even should “conquer” nature is so 19th century.

    Oh, of course! Our bodies know what is best. Death, illness, and disability are completely natural. We should accept our fates like the good little sheep we are, and go gentle into that good night.

    If you get really old or get cancer and you lose all appetite, don’t worry! Your body knows what it’s doing. It’s making sure you die quickly so that you don’t slow down the tribe and thus imperil your own genes, which you have presumably managed to pass on shortly after reaching puberty. And if you haven’t, that’s your own problem, not Nature’s. Broken a leg and can’t move? Great! You’ll soon fall behind and die, and that’s one less mouth to feed.

    Ullman has forgotten one crucial thing: we are part of Nature, we always have been, and Nature is a *bitch*.

  11. #11 D. C. Sessions
    May 20, 2010

    Ullman has forgotten one crucial thing: we are part of Nature, we always have been, and Nature is a *bitch*.

    Come now, Madam! You’re falling into the same error that DUllman has: you’re pretending that Mother Nature gives a damn. She is neither the benevolent, caring Mother that DUllman wants us to believe in, nor the Mutha that you make her out to be.

    More like Juggernaut’s Carriage, if anything.

  12. #12 rob
    May 20, 2010

    i tried diluting water like Scott suggested once, but it got so strong i flooded my basement with a single drop.

  13. #13 Pascale
    May 20, 2010

    Perhaps Ullman is a white supremacist. Leaving hypertension untreated would disproportionately kill many nonwhite minorities, albeit after reproducing.

  14. #14 Tim Kreider
    May 20, 2010

    There you go again, you Western doctor, with your “preventive care” shtick. You’re just colluding with Big Sphygmomanometer to treat patients who don’t feel sick.

  15. #15 kevin R
    May 20, 2010

    The idea that we can or even should “conquer” nature is so 19th century.

    Because everyone knows that prior to to trying to conquer nature, longer life spans, low infant mortality rates, and happy-go-lucky lives free of disease, plague, and suffering were the norm.

  16. #16 Lassi Hippeläinen
    May 21, 2010

    The idea that we can or even should “conquer” nature is so 19th century.

    And homeopathy is so 18th century.

  17. #17 Calli Arcale
    May 21, 2010

    Come now, Madam! You’re falling into the same error that DUllman has: you’re pretending that Mother Nature gives a damn. She is neither the benevolent, caring Mother that DUllman wants us to believe in, nor the Mutha that you make her out to be.

    Actually, what I meant by “Nature is a bitch” is that Nature is a hard, uncaring thing. I’ve been known to say the same thing about gravity, and it certainly doesn’t have any sort of opinion on anything. I guess that’s the problem with obscenities. They are crude — not just in a cultural sense but in the sense that their usage is so imprecise.

    My point is that those who don’t want to fight nature at all are espousing a life that is hard, brutish, and short. They just don’t want to admit that, and instead think there was some sort of golden era. In truth, multiple studies have shown that people have about the same basic level of happiness regardless of their technological level, social structure, or whatever — so the golden age is really always, because we find our happiness where we are (excluding extreme situations, like life in a concentration camp, where it becomes exceedingly difficult to find happiness).

    Of course, it is also natural for us to fight with other species for resources, and lo and behold, that gets us right to what Ullman considers “conquering Nature” — ergo, trying to conquer Nature is in fact entirely natural. The reason we can’t conquer Nature is not that it’s some super entity that will smite us for our presumption and hubris. It’s that we are part of it. It would be like trying to eat your own mouth — it’s a logical absurdity.

  18. #18 Dianne
    May 21, 2010

    It’s obvious how a homeopath or naturopath would treat hypertension:
    1. Lecture patient on benefits of diet, exercise, and reducing stress. Prescribe irrelevant supplements.
    2a. Patient succeeds in reducing blood pressure by these means. Take credit. Hype up how you saved them from the evils of the pharma industry.
    2b. Pt fails to reduce BP adequately. Lecture patient further on need to avoid the slightest trace of salt and prescribe further irrelevant supplements.
    3. Repeat as often as necessary. If patient breaks and goes to MD and is prescribed antihypertensive play up every twinge s/he feels as a side effect of meds. Remember to emphasize that if the patient had dieted and exercised enough, taken the right supplements, and above all had the right attitude, this would not be happening.

    Who, me, cynical?

  19. #19 Aaron
    May 21, 2010

    Would any homeopath consent to testing their “medicine” on potted plants?

    20 plants, 10 watered with plain old water, 10 with whatever homeopathic preparation that induces superfantastic massive growth at 30C, measure the results.

    I think it’s a little irresponsible to test on human beings with an illness, but do homeopaths only treat human patients, or do other living things qualify as well?

  20. #20 OleanderTea
    May 22, 2010

    We think that we can do better than what nature has provided us.

    Nature spun the wheel-of-DNA and gave me migraines and asthma. Damn right I want to do better than that! Pass the albuterol, triptans, and Percocet!

    (Actually, isn’t Percocet related to…um…what’s that stuff that bunches of people got addicted to that’s totally natural? Oh, yeah. Opium!)

  21. #21 Shay
    May 22, 2010

    But when I listen to my body, it asks for chocolate and booze…

  22. #22 Calli Arcale
    May 24, 2010

    Aaron: I’m not aware of homeopathic horticulture (though it seems inevitable, sooner or later) but there is veterinary homeopathy. A homeopath had pinned his card up on the bulletin board at my vet’s office. So yes, other living things do qualify. They claim to see benefit, as do veterinary chiropractors, acupuncturists, naturopaths, etc.

    In general, if a quackery exists, someone will market it for pets. It’s a goldmine, because the patients can’t talk, the owners feel guilty for leaving their pets alone, and there’s considerably less regulation.

    (Oddly, I haven’t seen them tackle aquaculture yet; there’s almost the opposite phenomenon there, where in aquaculture you can obtain from your friendly local pet shop all sorts of medications which are prescription-only in humans. Mostly antibiotics.)

    Shay — my body asks for those too. Mostly the chocolate. :-D

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