A "homeopathic physician" in Arizona versus science

I'm a cancer surgeon and have been since I finished my fellowship nearly 13 years ago. That is, of course, one big reason that, after I found myself drifting towards becoming a skeptic, it didn't take long for me to take an interest in "alternative medicine," in particular alternative medicine for cancer. Perhaps that's why I went a little bit crazy on Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski earlier this week for his "antineoplaston" therapy and his clinic's harassment of critical bloggers. As a result of that incident, I decided to keep my eye out even more than usual for clinics, websites, or practitioners promoting woo as a cure for cancer, the better to apply skepticism, and, of course, some not-so-Respectful Insolence to woo-meisters who so desperately require it. In the process, I anticipate discovering dubious doctors of whom I had never heard before and making myself more aware of what is out there in terms of cancer quackery.

The sheer quantity and (lack of) quality of cancer woo are depressing to behold.

That's how I wandered into the Oasis of Healing and one Dr. Thomas Lodi, who describes himself as a homeopathic physician. Yes, if I were ever to be diagnosed with cancer, the first place I'd be going is to a homeopathic physician. Actually, Dr. Lodi apparently has a real MD and later became a homeopath, something I've never been able to understand. It's like becoming a rocket scientist and then deciding that you'd rather play with model rockets, but only if they don't have any have any of those little rocket engines used to launch them and have to rely on your wishing it so to make them fly. Yet, for some reason, Dr. Lodi, after years of practicing as a real doctor, abandoned science-based medicine and decided to become a Homeopathic Medical Doctor, a designation allowed by the state of Arizona. If you want an idea of how scary it must be to be a patient in Arizona, just consider that Homeopathic Medical Doctors can perform surgery and that the rules governing how homeopathic doctors can administer chelation therapy are horribly lax and that physicians only have to complete 300 hours of training in homeopathy, 40 of which have to be in classical homeopathy. Of couse, I'm guessing that it probably doesn't matter how long one studies homeopathy. It's still quackery, and how studying quackery for a longer period of time does anything besides make you a quackier quack I don't know. Perhaps they should dilute the homeopathy training by 30C, as that would make it stronger and leave out the training in classical acupuncture, chelation therapy, "complex homeopathy" (whatever that is), and "neuromuscular integration" out.

Be that as it may, cancer patients in Arizona should be afraid, very afraid:

For the first ten years of his medical career, Dr. Thomas Lodi worked in conventional settings as an internal medicine specialist, urgent care physician, and as an intensivist in ICU and CCU departments of various hospitals. Subsequently, Dr Lodi continued his search for more effective and less toxic therapies by training around the world from Japan to Europe to Mexico and all around the US. Although he occasionally sees patients with a variety of medical conditions, Thomas Lodi, M.D. has narrowed his scope of practice through specific training and extensive experience over the past 12 years to Integrative Oncology (caring for people with cancer).

As I said, just what we don't need: A homeopath specializing in cancer.

Not surprisingly, the Oasis of Healing's website is drenched in serious woo-speak, in which natural is always better, the body is "wise," and pharma is the enemy, or, at the very least, seriously misguided. Here's a taste:

Health is the Natural condition of all creatures and is the consequence of each performing its function in the niche or habitat out of which its role emerged.

Humanity has become separated from Nature to the extent that it no longer functions out of instinct but rather out of a multitude of cultural interpretations, each of which views Nature as contrary, unpredictable, dangerous and in need of being subdued and even conquered. This fundamental worldview has spawned the 'battle,' "man vs nature" which has raged for untold millennia and resulted in what is known as, 'civilization' fabricated equally out of, both arrogance and ignorance delivering its progeny, a malignant miasma.

One wonders whether Dr. Lodi bases his practice on miasma theory. It really was a theory of medicine, much like the humoral theory of disease, that was popular hundreds of years ago. Miasma theory postulated that disease was due to a poisonous vapor or mist filled with decomposing particles (miasmas); in other words, contaminated air, water, and poor hygienic conditions cause disease, and it's the miasma that passes disease from person to person. In some ways miasma theory was an improvement over the idea that disease is due to an imbalance in the four humors. It did, after all (sort of) explain how diseases pas through human populations, and, in fact, contaminated water and air, as well as poor hygienic conditions, are associated with disease. Before the germ theory of disease was accepted, miasma theory made about as much sense as almost any other idea at the time as an explanation for epidemics. Of course, Dr. Lodi could just be using a metaphor, cleverly turning belief in miasma theory into a description of civilization.

So maybe miasma theory is not the basis of Dr. Lodi's practice, after all. This is:

Cancer is considered to be, 'the enemy'. We have declared a "war on cancer." And other than cigarettes, we are told that most other factors contributing to the development of cancer are beyond our control, such as genetics, or 'stress,' or pollution. Cancer in fact, is the name that we have given to the extraordinary effort of the body to protect us against chronic irritation. Consequently, cancer has been termed, "the wound that wouldn't heal". And the term "cancer prevention" is misused to include receiving vaccinations and diagnostic screening, such as mammograms. These and all others under this category of cancer prevention have nothing to do with the prevention of the development of the healing process that we have termed cancer.

And this:

It must be remembered that "disease" is the body attempting to re-establish optimal functioning. Health is not the absence of disease nor is it the absence of anything. It is the presence of something. It is the ability to regenerate, rejuvenate and procreate. Health is the condition that results when one lives according to the biological laws that govern the functioning of the organism.

Oh, no. He sounds just like Robert O. Young, who likes to claim that cancer is a "protective mechanism" against cells "spoiled" and liquified by too much acid or like Ryke Geerd Hamer, the creator of the quackery known as the "German New Medicine," which morphed into Biologie Totale.

Dr. Lodi bases his woo on three principles:

Of course, two out of three of these things sound just like the "conventional" medicine upon which so much contempt is heaped. It's just the methods that differ in that instead of being based on science they are based on magical thinking and prescientific notions of how disease develops. For instance, what is Dr. Lodi's idea for targeting and eliminating cancer? IPT low dose chemotherapy and intravenous vitamin C. I've written extensively about how weak the evidence is supporting intravenous vitamin C, but what about IPT? What does that stand for? Insulin potentiation therapy, that's what. IPT is pure quackery, with no evidence to support it. Basically, it involves the patient fasting and then being dosed with enough insulin to induce hypoglycemia. As the blood sugar level falls, chemotherapy is administered in doses far lower than what are normally used and normally effective. The claim is that insulin "opens the door" to the cell to let the chemotherapy in, or, as Dr. Lodi puts it, "Insulin is Nature's 'bow' that allows us to aim straight into the 'target' (cancer cells)."

While it's possible that insulin might somehow improve the efficacy of chemotherapy (one study suggests in one cancer that it might), evidence is lacking that insulin can radically decrease necessary doses of chemotherapy for various cancers. Quackwatch, of course, has a good deconstruction. More up-to-date information would suggest that some cancers overexpress receptors for insulin-like growth factors (IGFs). In breast cancer, although the data are somewhat conflicting, IGF-1 receptor expression appears to be a favorable prognostic factor. However, in bile duct cancer, the IGF-1 receptor appears to be a negative prognostic factor. Even in breast cancer under some situations, activating the insulin receptor might not be a good thing. What I find really odd, however, is that this guy's a homeopath, and here he is, giving "unnatural" insulin (produced using recombinant DNA technology) and toxic chemotherapy drugs to patients. Seriously. That's not in the least bit "natural." What it is, in reality, is giving patients suboptimal doses of chemotherapy and thus lowering the chance that the chemotherapy will be effective. That's why I get so irritated when I see testimonials like this:

Note how the woman featured in the video says she's getting "less than 10%" of the usual dose of chemotherapy. If she's going to take that small a dose of chemotherapy, she might as well not take it at all, because she's getting none of the benefits of chemotherapy while subjecting herself to its risk. In addition to that, she's receiving intravenous hydrogen peroxide and vitamin C, not to mention treating her own blood with ozone and reinfusing it. To top it off, Christine is a mother of four and the YouTube page reports that she "opted out of radiation and chemo for a completely different approach to breast cancer!" Without knowing her stage and receptor status at diagnosis, I can't hazard an estimate of by how much Christine is decreasing her chances of survival by pursuing this quackery, but she is decreasing her chances of survival. Apparently Dr. Lodi now lists her as a "cured" patient, but assuming Christine is disease-free, she did herself no favors by not following the standard of care. I rather suspect that she's a testimonial like that of Suzanne Somers in that she probably had curative surgery and refused recommended adjuvant chemotherapy and radiation therapy in favor of quackery. When she did well, she credited the quackery, rather than the surgery that was the actual curative modality.

The "immune enhancement" part is fairly typical woo-speak. More interesting to me is the part about how to "stop making cancer." This is, as any one with a bit of knowledge of cancer knows, impossible in that we are always producing cancerous cells, particularly as we age. For example, 80% of men over 80 in autopsy series are found to have foci of prostate cancer, but the vast majority of them never exhibited symptoms of disease while living. So how do you stop cancer from forming? Lots of ways:

  • Living Foods
  • Juicing
  • Oral & IV Supplements
  • Chelation Therapy
  • Lymphatic Drainage
  • Structural Integration
  • Infrared Sauna
  • EWOT (Exercise With Oxygen Therapy)

And, of course, colon hydrotherapy! And with such a brain-dead analogy, to go with it:

It is funny, that we don't think twice about changing the oil in our cars, or showering once or twice a day, but when it comes to internal cleansing of our bodies, we question whether or not it should really be done. Funny? Not really! It is tragic!

As I've said before, the colon is more than capable of handling the body's waste. That's its function. There's no need to squirt water up there and flush it out; in fact, doing so too often can be harmful.

So what does Dr. Lodi have to demonstrate the efficacy of his therapy? What do you think? Does he have clinical trial evidence? Well, not exactly. He does have a bevy of testimonials, though:

In the beginning I wasn't sure I wanted to have surgery, but with pressure from the medical (allopathic) world and fear of my family, I succumbed to surgery. I had a lumpectomy and then 5 weeks later a lymph node dissection. At that time I needed to make some very difficult decisions as to whether I was going to have further treatment. Again the medical powers were encouraging me to just "have faith" and do what everyone else does! I have never been a follower and have chosen to make my own path. I knew in my heart that there was another answer out there but was afraid I would have to leave the country to find treatment. I found Oasis of Healing on a Google search and had liked what I read-I then received an email from a colleague about Dr. Lodi that was an entirely separate experience. I also have a brother that lives in Phoenix, making my stay here possible. Dr. Lodi's philosophy closely matches my own. It was refreshing to talk to someone so passionate about becoming healthy. The answer resides with all of us. Just look in the mirror! We are nature! Why would you choose to radiate or further poison nature in an attempt to cure it? Since coming here my progress has been steady. The staff are extremely supportive. I recall my first day of IPT, which uses 10% of the usual dose of chemotherapeutic drugs.

Note how when this patient does well, she attributes her survival to the quackery, not the surgery, which was the real cure.

Unfortunately, as much as I'd like to see nonsense like this go away, Dr. Lodi seems to be thriving. In fact, he's looking to hire another doctor and a patient care coordinator. The patient care coordinator, for instance, will be responsible for followup and coordinating raw food diets, juicing, and various other things the clinic does. Sadly, Dr. Lodi's empire of woo looks as though it's expanding.


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You know, both of these ladies are wearing make-up and have pierced ears. You would think that if they are so concerned with regards to 'chemicals' that they would also shun these things. I realize you can get so-called natural make-up but really, if the body is so great on its own, why the h*ll do you need make-up and earrings??? (also, piercing one's ears does introduce potential pathogens, how do we know this doesn't cause cancer ;) )

Somehow "homeopathic physician" sounds to me like someone who was once in the same crowd as a physician. It's depressing to think that a qualified physician would do this.

It never ceases to amaze me how otherwise rational people can be completely clueless regarding their health.

I lost my sister to breast cancer when she was 36 - and the 'woo-woo friendly' people I know ask me if I've 'learned from her (my sister's) mistakes' regarding conventional medicine - because obviously it's a foregone conclusion that I'm going to develop breast cancer soon too.

I get loads of 'friendly' advice regarding supplement "X", aluminum free deodorant "Y", Mercola "this" "Colonic" that (although what precisely getting a colon cleansing does to prevent breast cancer I really don't want to dwell upon.)

None of them mentioned the obvious (and most prudent): regular checkups. Talking with my doctor if I'm unsure about whether or not there's been a change in 'the girls'.

At what point precisely do people jump off the deep end into 'woo' like this?


By starskeptic (not verified) on 02 Dec 2011 #permalink

You're just worried that 300 h of extra training at the barber school will allow the barber surgeon to compete with you again.

Unfortunately Burzynski and Lodi are not the only alt-med charlatans ripping of cancer patients this week.

Allow me to introduce Dr. Antonio Jimenez of the Hope4Cancer Institute in Baja California, Mexico, who got some free advertising in the UK media yesterday



No surprises so far as the Daily Mail is concerned, but I expected better from the BBC.

Dr. Jimenez's website is at http://www.sonophotodynamictherapy.com/sonophotodynamictherapy_science…

Oh dear!!

I agree with you that this treatment is probably not more helpful than conventional treatment.

But patients turn to treatments like this when they have seen how conventional medicine works.

My stepmom died of breast cancer a few years ago, after having survived more than five years after the initial diagnosis - so SUCCESS in your books! But she was never healthy or well after beginning treatments, instead going through a depressing downward spiral of ever escalating measures.

What made this so hard to bear and watch was the total disconnect between different treatments, doctors, sites, and the UTTER lack of interest or respect on the part of medical personnel. Just a little example, she was invited to participate in a study, then told after a few weeks that they would discontinue her participation because the medication was not successful, then called back after a few weeks because "the intern read the numbers in the wrong line", then dismissed again after a few weeks because now it was too late and the tumor had progressed too much.

Or the hole that opened in her chest and never healed again when they tried to put a permanent access in so bathing, swimming, showering, or exposing your body for massages or other soothing treatments was out...

I will never forget when she was dying, and the family was sitting around her bed watching in horror as a slimy bubble formed in front of her mouth every time she exhaled, when a nurse opened the door without knocking and then shouted down the hallway, "Nah, take (room) 11-36 instead, this will take a while."

If I were to be diagnosed with cancer (and I don't go to check-ups), I would avoid years of humiliation, pain, horror, and not waste away my family's home, college funds, and any excess earnings for the rest of their lives, to buy such misery.

"Just look in the mirror! We are nature!"
Wow, can I get that on a T-shirt?
I bet he offers thermography, too. So much better than mammogram, I'm sure. So scary. And tragic.

If you do a google.com search "DHANP homeopathy" without the outside quotes, you get one of the largest groups of homeopaths in the country...

the naturopaths.

And the search "naturopathic oncology homeopathy" is really interesting too.


So -- how long until a grieving family takes him to the cleaners for delivering care that's way, way below the standard?

By palindrom (not verified) on 02 Dec 2011 #permalink

A conventinal oncologist did not recommend that Patrick Swayze quit smoking-
How crazy is that?
From Larry King interview-
KING: He continued to smoke.
Was that a bad idea?
FISHER: I think at the point that one is already diagnosed with cancer, there's little additional harm in it. And if it -- it seems to provide him some comfort or partly identity of who he is, I certainly have no objections to that. But he would be the first to say that if you don't smoke, don't start. And if you do smoke, quit before you develop cancer.

By questioner (not verified) on 02 Dec 2011 #permalink

You actually posted about this guy a while back (January 9, 2010). The headline was "Making legal threats against a blogging cancer patient? Stay classy, Shayla McCallum and Dr. Thomas Lodi. Stay classy."

I live in Arizona, and I've been told (can't confirm this, so take with a homeopathic dose of salt) that because "Naturopaths" here can get cleared to hand out actual medication and do all sorts of procedures doctors have been known to come to Arizona when they are in danger of losing their license. If you're an MD getting cleared as a Naturopath is no problem, and when they take away your regular license guess what you get to keep? So they can continue to prescribe medications and make money by doing unsafe procedures. Again, I don't have specific instances of this to point to so I can't say how big of a problem this is... but from what I've seen it's at least possible, so...

"Living Foods"

Ugh. Not a big fan of that sort of woo diet... don't like the flavour and it's hard to stop it from squirming off the plate. (Medium rare is fine, thank you.)

-- Steve

@ questioner:

Not in the least crazy, if all it would accomplish is a lot of stress and discomfort from trying to quit without actually changing his prognosis. At that point he was pretty certain to be dead before the smoking could harm him.

Yes, we've seen that already (this was discussed to death here at the time - recommend you use the search function).

As much as the woo-meisters would love to have everyone believe that doctors follow lock-step on every CDC or AMA recommendation, they (doctors) do treat patients as individuals and advise according to what is best for the patients in their care.

In this situation, Patrick Swayze was dying - the added stress of quitting would have most likely sped up his death (which was, at that point, inevitable, via the Cancer he already had).

@ questioner:

I made no claim that smoking is harmless. I said that the cancer he already had was going to kill him first, so in his particular case it made no difference. Your link has no bearing on the question, since it discusses the implications of smoking for the general public as opposed to people who have maybe a year to live anyway.

What is "natural" about this colon cleansing nonsense, anyhow? That's separate from the evidence that it is at best useless: the "natural" state of that hypothetical "wise" body doesn't involve colon cleansing.

I'm also fairly sure that the "natural" state of my body and species don't involve living in the climate of Mesa, Arizona. (They probably don't involve New York City either, but I'm not pushing a so-called "natural" lifestyle from here.)

@Steve Odhner

D'oh! I forgot to search my own blog to see if I had ever blogged about this guy before! Oh, well. These quacks all blend together after a while.

"Homeopathic physician"... Hmmm. It conjures up the image of a lone physician sitting in a tank of water which is being vigorously struck against a cliff high wooden board.

As a homeopathic physician, does it help to think more, or less?

Juicing? Of course! You're getting rid of that nasty fiber and preserving the pure essence of the fruit!

You know, like they do when they get rid of that nasty fiber in grains and end up with the pure essence of white rice and white bread.


The takedown of Lodi is fascinating, but I have to admit what really left me gobsmacked was the idea that Arizona has actually promulgated regulations setting out "educational" requirements for homeopathy! I.e., they have a board that actually considered what is and is not required to make one qualified as a quack. It's really stunning.

I also see that earlier this year the AZ legislature now allows you to not even be a "homeopathic physician" you can now apparently just be a 'Doctor of Homeopathy" and don't even need to be an MD.

I see that Dr. Lodi is still licensed as an M.D. in New York and has no history of any sanctions against him, according to the OPMC (Office of Professional Medical Conduct). He had a M.D. License in Hawaii (July 14, 1987) which expired on January 31, 1994 and is not licensed as an M.D. in Arizona.

Just what dosage of insulin is he administering at his Oasis of Healing center...and can an unlicensed medical doctor in Arizona actually prescribe IV insulin? The "other" physician in his practice is not a M.D. or a D.O. Perhaps that is why he is seeking a licensed Arizona M.D. or D.O. to join his practice. Red flag there for any Arizona M.D. or D.O. who might contemplate employment with this group.

There actually is an association for practitioners of Insulin "therapy" for cancer care. From the "IPT for Cancer Physicians" website:

"You can contact any of the IPTforcancer Physicians directly at their email below or for more detail on trained and registered providers, use the search function located at the upper left of every Site page.

There are over 300 trained IPT⢠Physicians in the world. However, over the years, many of these doctors have changed locations; until recently, the central database was sporadic. We are currently in the process of locating and certifying these physicians. If you know of any IPT Physician who is not located on this Site. Please let us know how to find them".

Dr. Lodi is listed as a participating physician and also as an IPT trainer. There is this notation at the bottom of this short list of IPT trainers:

* Steven Ayre, M.D. is retired and is no longer trained in IPT/IPTLD (Ayre was the subject of the Quackwatch IPT article)

Beamup -- yeah; there's no point putting oneself through withdrawal if one is going to die anyway. Especially since what Swayze had was pancreatic cancer. If it was lung cancer, reducing the insult to the lungs could actually improve his quality of life in his remaining months. That's what Andreas Katsulas decided to do when his doctors declared him terminal. He quit smoking cold turkey. He believed it improved his quality of life considerably, because he was able to breathe more comfortably. But it would have to be an individual decision. It certainly didn't change his overall outcome, and any doctor would have to be honest about that part.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 02 Dec 2011 #permalink

TBruce -- white bread compared to juicing. I think you win the Internet for today. :-D

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 02 Dec 2011 #permalink

My reading of this was interrupted by a trip to town. I graciously let my hubby chose the radio channel and I got another healthy dose of Jim & Trish Fiejo and Daniel Chapter One woo. Once again Jim was ranting about all the poisons that the conspiracy is shoving into you to make you sick. If you're sick you have to get off all of them and call them so they can have you take God's created nutrients that were meant for your perfect health.

Orac, I know you don't have a lot of time, but one day you should really listen to one of their radio broadcasts or do some googling. These people are frightening. Not only do they tell you they will cure your cancer, they also tell you to quit high blood pressure medications, diabetes medications, etc. They are practicing medicine without a license and selling the "cures" from their own company/warehouse... :(

They are most popular (of course) with more fundamentalist Christian groups. A woman who helped me a lot after I was diagnosed with my illness was pointed towards them as a resource (she actually is very careful and reads about suggested supplements and what they are supposed to do, if they're studied, etc., before trying any alternative product; when there isn't a lot available for you, you are willing to at least consider alternatives). Anyhow, she called them and asked them about our illness. They immediately guessed it was like something else and told her to take x, y and z. She asked them if they had any studies supporting that recommendation and was first treated condescendingly, then yelled at and hung up on when she persisted on asking why they believed their recommendations would work for the illness and by what mechanism.

They are frightening people currently in violation of federal court order and still they insist on marketing this stuff...

To add to my comment above about Dr. Lodi's medical license. I located a Thomas Louis Vivante Lodi, Nevada License # 6666 and here is the information about his Medical Doctor license in Nevada:

Dr. Lodi surrendered his license to practice medicine in the state
of Nevada while under investigation by the Nevada State Board
of Medical Examiners' Diversion Program.
Copies; Voluntary Surrender- 1 page
SEPTEMBER 21, 1996
The Board accepted Dr. Lodi's Irrevocable Surrender of his
license to pratice medicine in the state of Nevada while under
investigation by the Diversion Program.
Copies Order- 3 pages

I wonder if Dr. Lodi has complied with the Medical Licensing board while renewing his NYS medical license, to provide detailed information about the circumstances of surrounding his license, while under investigation by the Nevada Medical Licensing board?

I hope I'm not considered off-topic. Just you said you were looking out for clinics, practitioners, etc. Read the PDF here about in response to a motion by the Fiejo's to throw out some of the evidence against them... you'll realize that they're seriously woo-tastic and just begging for a large helping of respectful insolence.


"A homepathic physician vs science" - not be get all nitpickery, but isn't that sort of a "dog bites man" type of story?

I mean, after all, homeopathy is based on principles that have been repeatedly disproven by science, so it's not exactly an "above the fold" headline when a homeopathic "practitioner" - no matter what they might have been before the accident - comes out against science. It's like saying "spheres are round" - it's true and all, but it's, like, part of the definition.

Still, this "Dr." Lodi is another new frontier on the search for the "absolute zero" of rationality in "alternative" medicine.


I (implicitly) raised a question earlier that others might be able to answer -- what kind of heavy-duty liability exposure is Lodi in for, if he's claiming to be an MD and promoting non standard-of-care therapies for deadly diseases? Inquiring minds want to know!

Except, of course, that he's practicing in Arizona.

I hear they have a community chorus there called the OK Chorale, or something.

By palindrom (not verified) on 02 Dec 2011 #permalink

"It's like becoming a rocket scientist and then deciding that you'd rather play with model rockets..."

A better analogy might be and astrophysicist becoming an astrologer!

Once when I was an undergrad, the university newspaper described an astronomy professor as "Dr. So-and-so of the Department of Physics and Astrology." He was both amused and annoyed. Others were just annoyed.


That was precisely the reason we embraced hospice care for my sister; so she could spend her last days at home with those who loved her.

EWOT (Exercise With Oxygen Therapy)

Fill one's bloodstream with free radicals? It's an interesting variation of the usual quack fondness for anti-oxidants.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 02 Dec 2011 #permalink

EWOT (Exercise With Oxygen Therapy)

I always make sure I'm in an atmosphere with at least 20% oxygen before attempting strenuous exercise personally.

@ palindrom: He is a licensed M.D. in New York State...and a formerly licensed M.D. in Nevada...so some sort of malpractice insurance coverage would have to be purchased by him for "practicing" in Arizona.

I love how he claims to have "seen the light" and has pursued a career outside of "traditional" medicine.

Yeah...why should anyone try alternatives to modern oncology when conventional medicine is "almost" always effective and "almost" safe. Oh...that's right, because it is neither.

And why is it that more educated people tend to use homeopathic treatments than those who do not? Well, it is because they educate themselves and they are smart enough to explore and test alternatives.

And what RESULTS are there for homeopathic treatment with many of the most serious types of cancer? Well, as reported in the JOURNAL OF CLINICAL ONCOLOGY, there are lots of impressive results:

Chatterjee A, Biswas J, Chatterjee A, Bhattacharya S, Mukhopadhyay B, Mandal S. Psorinum therapy in treating stomach, gall bladder, pancreatic, and liver cancers: a prospective clinical study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:724743. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2011/724743.html

An abstract of the above study was published in the JOURNAL OF CLINICAL ONCOLOGY, one of the most respected cancer journals in the world (impact factor = 17.793) http://tinyurl.com/4q4n4jx

Advanced non-small cell lung cancer: http://tinyurl.com/4unve64

I freely acknowledge that neither of these studies were double-blind or placebo controlled...but I challenge ANYBODY to point me to any physician or hospital who has comparable results in THESE mostly 3rd and 4th stages of these cancers. You are all hereby challenged. Just me your evidence...

Thanks for bringing Dr. Lodi to our attention. "Homeopathic Physician" sounds like a contradiction in terms. One wonders what really made him abandon the mores of conventional medicine. I wonder if he ran into some sort of disciplinary troubles. My guess is that he decided he could make more money with less effort in the world of woo. Sad indeed.

The Inconvenient Truth

@ Guy McCardle: See my posting at # 27 above and, Orac's blog "Making legal threats against a blogging cancer patient? Stay classy, Shayla McCallum and Dr. Thomas Lodi. Stay classy."(January 9, 2010)

This morning I watched as a duckling was snatched from beside a damn by hawk (or similar). That was definitely nature at work but I somehow doubt the duckling's natural defences are doing it much good as I write this. Some little hawk chicks will be doing okay though.

How is this any different to the natural things attack us? They aren't doing it for our benefit, they're doing it to survive and reproduce. What makes our natural defences so superior and, if they are so superior, how is it that those things that attack us still exist?

#40: Oops. DAM, not damn! That's how annoyed I was.

An abstract of the above study was published in the JOURNAL OF CLINICAL ONCOLOGY

An abstract. In other words, someone ponied up the $$$ to attend the 2009 Annual Meeting of ASCO and present a poster there; and in return the abstract of the poster was printed with umpteen others in the special "Post-Meeting Edition" of the journal.

This is pay-to-print. The authors may not even have bothered to turn up to the meeting with the poster; the abstract goes into print anyway. No peer-review.

Journal impact factor does not carry a lot of weight with conference abstracts. No matter how much you capitalise its title.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 02 Dec 2011 #permalink

And, what is this magic anti-cancer drug? Why it's psorinum-6X:

"The investigational anticancer drug used in this alternative cancer therapy is âPsorinumâ which is derived from the sphere of homeopathy. The supportive treatments of Psorinum Therapy are adopted both from the spheres of allopathy and homeopathy. Psorinum is an alcoholic extract of the scabies, slough, and pus cells."

Mr. Ullman, tell us about the magical powers of the fluid derived from scabies blisters and how you get "donors" who have skin mites to donate their precious bodily fluids (exudate) when they are infested. Does the bible thumping ritual take place before, during or after the various successions?

What a waste of five years this study is. Why wasn't there a control arm and why were the subjects not randomized and blinded?

I think you are out of your league here. Why not go back to your usual postings at the Ho-Po?

Misquoting Dara O'Briain: Homeopathic horsehit. It's just water. Give yourself the credit, you are curing yourself. Get in the fawkin sack.
SBM will improve. Homeopathy will always be horseshit.

Above we have a few examples of the type of studies and news ( see Paul Browne) that will perpetually circulate around those dens of iniquity ( NaturalNews, ProgressiveRadioNetwork, et al) providing false hope and faerie dust to people who have been given a diagnosis, have loved ones ill with cancer, or fear cancer themselves.

Here are a few topics from NaturalNews' sub-heading "Cancer": (paraphrases)- Turmeric could have cured Steve Jobs, Breast cancer prevention that really works, Gardasil vaccines are dangerous and don't prevent cervical cancer, the Health Ranger interviews Burzynski...

What prevarication like this accomplishes simultaneously raises unrealistic expectations and- more insideously- mistrust in SBM and physicians. They cannot separate the two messages: their entire enterprise rests upon the (false) assumption that SBM is virtually helpless when confronted with cancer ( as if it were a single entity)- not only is this bending the truth, it is snapping it in two.

Usually alternative "solutions" are followed by conspiracy-laden expliques that answer the questions the audience might have about why this miraculous therapy is *not* in common usage. They raise doubt in SBM. Even if the patient should eventually choose a realistic option, the alternative message may haunt them : "Did I choose incorrectly? Will I have to pay the ultimate price?" If that isn't additional suffering, I don't know what is.

I, for some ungody reason, am utterly resistant to and able to tolerate vast amounts of mind-numbing rubbish ( like the aforementioned sites) thus hope to ameliorate others' misery in this fashion.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 03 Dec 2011 #permalink

The authors may not even have bothered to turn up to the meeting with the poster; the abstract goes into print anyway. No peer-review.

Actually, ASCO does peer review abstracts for their annual meeting. But peer review of abstracts is, of course, extremely limited and in no way implies the same level of scrutiny as publication of a paper. Which, I will note, did not occur in JCO but in a rather more obscure journal two years later. I'm underwhelmed by the evidence.

Incidentally, did anyone read the description of what this stuff is? From the linked paper, "Psorinum is an alcoholic extract of the scabies, slough, and pus cells." Great. Sounds perfectly safe. What could possibly go wrong with a treatment where people are given "pus cells"?

The more I look at the links Ullman sent, the squirrelier they look. The patients' stages are described as "early stage II", "late stage II or stage III", or "late stage III or stage IV". I'm not sure what is meant by "early" versus "late" stage II or III. The stages and various sub-stages are there for a reason: to allow for uniform reporting of how sick a patient is. The departure from these standards makes me suspicious that the authors want to make the patients look sicker than they really are to make their survival rates look better than they really are.

Also their survival rates don't correspond with their response rates at all: For example, the NSCLC one reports a 1 year survival rate of >80% despite a response rate of around 20%. I suppose a really high rate of stable disease could do that, but they don't report on stable disease rates at all.

And what "supportive care" are they talking about? Perhaps it includes radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy?

Finally, only one author has ever reported a response to "psorium". Sound familiar? (Hint: antineoplastons.) Until we see this work in anyone's hands (AND not transmit who knows what in the process), there's no reason to take it seriously.

Why wasn't there a control arm and why were the subjects not randomized and blinded?

To be fair, phase II trials often are single arm. Their real purpose is to see if there's enough evidence to proceed to phase III, not to change practice. Which brings me to (my last-I promise) point about this trial: it's only a phase II trial. Phase II trials are famous for having absolutely HUGE confidence intervals. A drug which produces an 80% response rate in phase II often has only a 40% response in phase III trials. (Though the opposite can occur: an apparently ineffective drug can suddenly have an effect in a fair percentage-it's simply not possible to get a good CI on a small number of patients.) So even giving this study the benefit of every doubt: presuming that they didn't cheat, that the patients didn't receive other treatments*, that their stages weren't inflated, etc the trial should still not be used to influence practice until a multicenter trial can be performed**.

*Come to think of it, if they didn't, why not? The standard of care is to take a patient off trial and put them on an alternate treatment regimen if they are not responding. If that wasn't done for these patients, that was a major ethics violation.

**Yeah, I know. Scabies and pus. But when you consider that currently we have medications derived from poisonous plants, leaches, and heavy metals, how much worse could scabies and pus be? If it were effective scabies and pus. Which is, unfortunately, not particularly likely.

In the "Introduction" of the study there is this sentence to justify alternative cancer treatments, "In developing countries majority of the cancer patients have inadequate access to the mainstream cancer treatments due to lack of medical infrastructures, skills, and above all limited financial resources".

Yet, further down we see the supportive services offered to the study subject:

"Supportive Treatments

In this study, the supportive cares were taken both from the spheres of allopathy and homeopathy. Supportive cares for control of infection, pain, electrolytic balance, bleeding, nutritional deficiencies were taken, and blood transfusion, abdominal or plural paracentesis, analgesic, bronchodilator, stenting of the hepato-pancreato-biliary system, and bypass were done as and when required to improve the survival and the quality of life of the participants."

Isn't the "alternative" treatment with Psorinum-6X meant for people who have no access to "supportive treatments"?

Hell, if I am going to undergo treatment with exudate from scabies infested people...I want to know who the "donors" are.

It would be nice to have trials side by side period. The medical way and the natural way. I simply just don't see the drug companies showing their stats on successful recovery for any form of cancer.
Are the stats that bad that they won't show us?

Wow, you really have never read any article on this blog! Do you just make it up as you go along? Perhaps you should catch up a bit.

@ Chiro: When you or loved ones are diagnosed with a treatable cancer, refuse traditional treatment and go "the natural way"...then report the case in a peer reviewed journal.

You might want to contact Bruzynski for his supplier of chemicals imported from China, to concoct some "natural substances".

It would be nice to have trials side by side period. The medical way and the natural way.

You mean like the trial of the Gonzalez protocol? That one really scared the drug companies I'm sure. (I tried posting a link to the study but the spam filter ate it. It's readily available on medline anyway.) As for stats, all you really need to look at is the SEER survival data.

I simply just don't see the drug companies showing their stats on successful recovery for any form of cancer.

Drug companies sell drugs. They don't treat patients. Therefore, they don't necessarily have the survival data you say you're looking for. But the NCI does have it.

So here's a question for you: What percentage of children with hematologic malignancies recover using the "natural" method? The answer is zero or virtually zero.

In contrast, the 25 year survival for children with Hodgkin's lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma or acute lymphoblastic leukemia treated with modern protocols is over 80% (reference: http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/100/18/1301.long). Actually, it's probably higher since the statistical modeling depends to some extent on data from times when now outmoded treatments were in use.

"Allopathic" medicine has taken a number of diseases of which children used to die regularly and turned them into mostly survivable (as in live another 50 years and die of something else type survivable) diseases. What has "natural" medicine done to change the natural history of any disease?

Since homeopaths and CAM types like anecdotes and unfair comparisons, I've got an interesting one: Steve Jobs: tried treating cancer with "natural" methods for 9 months. Result? Dead of cancer. Paul Allen, cofounder of Microsoft: got chemotherapy for his two separate cancers. Result? Alive and cancer free.


Although I realize that you're trying to throw the alties' anecdote addiction back in their face, using Steve Jobs as an example doesn't really help matters.

Orac actually posted about it multiple times after Jobs' death, with the latest article here: http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/10/just_one_more_thing.php. The short story is that although the fact that Jobs' delayed his surgery by 9 months certainly didn't help him, it probably didn't decrease his chances at survival that much either due to the indolent nature of his cancer. So we can't say that he died because of his use of "natural" remedies for 9 months, only that it didn't do him any favors.

By Indigo_Fire (not verified) on 03 Dec 2011 #permalink

Why does everyone call any attempt to cure cancer using methods other than chemo or radiation,
" Quackery". Everyone is quick to criticize, but they have no solution of their own. No one ever mentions how many patients die from chemo treatments, and if they do survive, quality of life is next to nothing. It's because cancer treatment is a billion dollar industry and the FDA is on the payroll.

Why does everyone call any attempt to cure cancer using methods other than chemo or radiation,
" Quackery".

Because there is no scientific proof these methods work.

Everyone is quick to criticize, but they have no solution of their own.

The methods that have proven to work, not in all cases, but at least there is scientific proof they are able to work.

No one ever mentions how many patients die from chemo treatments, and if they do survive, quality of life is next to nothing. It's because cancer treatment is a billion dollar industry and the FDA is on the payroll.

They die from chemo treatments, or they die from cancer? Chemo is something that has proven to work, but not in all cases. Just like radiation an surgery. It's not because the regular methods don't always work, people should rely on alternatives that have never really proven to work. If those alternatives would have proven to work, they would have been called medicine.

if they do survive, quality of life is next to nothing.

I don't know about you, but I think if my quality of life were similar to that of Lance Armstrong or Paul Allen I might somehow just find the strength to continue to suffer through.

@Indigo_fire: That's one of the reasons I called it an unfair anecdote. Though the worse problem, IMHO, is that lymphomas are highly treatable and often curable by chemotherapy alone whereas pancreatic cancer...isn't. Even the lower grade endocrine pancreatic cancers are treatable primarily with surgery and if you lose the surgical window it's pretty much all palliation from there. I'm less convinced than Orac that the delay wasn't significant, but, of course, without Jobs' medical records it's impossible to say for certain. Even with his records it might be impossible to say. Might need an alternate universe Jobs who did take surgery right away to see for sure...

So, this guy's a homeopathic doctor ?
Did he dilute his intelligence 30c ?
I rather hope his patient base is shortly diluted 30c also.

I like to think the homeopathic doctor's intelligence dropped to 30c but I'm more excited about the succusion required to achieve that dilution of brainpower.

palindrom (#10) said:

So -- how long until a grieving family takes him to the cleaners for delivering care that's way, way below the standard?

It looks to me as if the good doctor has tried to cover for that eventuality with the following at the bottom of every web page:

The information on this website is not intended to diagnose or treat cancer,
nor does it recommend any therapy.
If you are in need of medical attention you should consult a doctor in your community.

IANAL so I don't know if this disclaimer would be enough to actually get the good doctor off the hook in the event of a wrongful death lawsuit. I would hope that any judge/jury would be intelligent enough to see through the hypocrisy and wouldn't let him get away with anything that easily.

fred5 #66 --

That disclaimer looks to be more of the "Don't try this at home, kids" variety.

The Oasis of Healing's website includes information about how to become a patient, so they are treating people. People who, presumably, have cancer. And, by appearances at least, they're not treating them according to recognized standards of care.

Real doctors worry a great deal about lawsuits even when they do everything right. Compared to that, this guy seems to be walking around with a giant sign on his back that says "SUE ME!".

I was fascinated to learn from their site, by the way, that sunlight doesn't cause cancer! I don't think they could post it on the internet if it weren't true -- or could they?

By palindrom (not verified) on 04 Dec 2011 #permalink

No one ever mentions how many patients die from chemo treatments, and if they do survive, quality of life is next to nothing.

Oh, thanks, Paul. I'll have to inform my thoroughly active mother that that Herceptin should be eliminated posthaste so that she can build a grist mill from boulders or something, like a proper self-actualizer.

@Paul Brown
The PDT part of the SPDT caught my attention immediately. I have received PDT treatment, and it was, and still is, considered "standard care" for the purpose and treatment in which it was used (two sessions one month apart), albeit it's typically not the "first line" which we had already pursued, and it was at least partially effective.

After following up with Google looking for SPDT, I'm quite skeptical about the efficacy for which Jimenez (et alia) are touting its use (including what they're using for photosensitizers). The real problem is how they skirt on what I understand to be the actual fundamental principles of PDT and how it works to selectively kill tumor cells. Furthermore, a scan of PDT information at NCI on NIH's web site reveals the expected future of PDT to be similar to what the SPDT clinics are touting, without mentioning the "sono" part of it, or whether or not they expect it can be delivered to deep internal tumors with external light (even if it is low spectrum IR which could penetrate farther than visible light).

In short, the SPDT cancer treatments offered by Jimenez (et alia) are scary as they carry just enough of the operative science underlying legitimate PDT to give it credence. Before undertaking anything Jimenez or his cronies are offering I'd want to see some hard science showing that it's truly efficacious. Some of their claims seem "too good to be true" prima facie. I believe there will be some forms of PDT in the future that will bear some resemblance to what the SPDT crowd are pushing today. Sadly, I fear Jimenez (et alia) will give PDT a "bad name" when it is currently a legitimate treatment for some cancers under some circumstances, and that real scientific work continues to develop additional photosensitizers to expand its use.

My mum recently had a mastectomy and removal of the lymph nodes on the left side, and was told it was a success, that they got it all, and they saw no signs the breast cancer spreading. Now they're talking about the post op treatments, and whether or not to go with radiotherapy, or hormone therapy.

Basically, she's scared, because the internet is a very bad place to find out information on all this, and that's where she spends a lot of time. It lists all the potential side effects of the treatments, I think the problem is that she's having a hard time getting an answer to the question: "But if they got it all, why do I have to do this and risk the side effects and a lower quality of life?"

And I sympathise. I really don't know what to tell her. As far as she's concerned, she's as likely as anyone else to get it again. You know, unless of course, they didn't get it all.

But that's what people like this Lodi character feed off of. It's the fear that people naturally feel that make them listen to his quackery. It makes me sick.

I live in Arizona, and it's my long-standing opinion that i) as a rule, we're nuts and ii) only people living in AZ should be allowed to say that.

ha ha ho ho ho and its not even Christmas. First of all I want to see If I can talk like a controlled Orthadox Medical Doctor. Easrythusosisis over bladder -internal billioushsleesitis to the entomologistically fragylisticosis and over the illeocecal valve to ringholiss.

Once again Orac, there is a deep sense of fear in you my friend, and it is much deeper than I thought. Thank god I am not being operated on by you just in case you slip getting too concerned about Dr Lodi and the growing number of Integrativve Oncologists in the world.

You basically are from the same family of control freaks - FDA, AMA, Big Pharma, Monsanto.

Humanity will go forwards again when people can once again think and act like a human.

Yeah, I hear you bark, little doggie, but I can't see you bite.

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 07 Dec 2011 #permalink

Neil...are you drinking again? Try to stick with non-alcoholic beer. You do know, don't you, why Dr. Lodi does not have a medical license in Arizona, don't you. He was impaired with a stronger substance and "voluntarily" gave up his license in Nevada (See my posting at # 27 above)

That, my lush friend, is the reason why Lodi practices "integrative oncology" in Arizona.

Lilady - you are missing the point because like Orac you have this 'us versus them' mentality. There should only be 'one medicine' - those that work and those that don't. And for you to be bothered to go to such extreme lengths to find out about Dr Lodi explains that you are more than likely as much as a control freak as Orac.

If one is comfortable with themselves there is no need to speak about others. Does it really bother you what Dr Lodi or anyone else does to the point of demoralisation? Yes, because it bothers you! And the one sure thing that lacks in the few articles I have read thus far on this site, is lack of respect for another persons opinion, whether you agree with it or not.

@ Neil: "If one is comfortable with themselves there is no need to speak about others."...says the poster who attacked Orac in his posting.

Be my guest and go to a quack for alternative medical care...as for me, I will continue to go to real medical doctors who haven't lost their license or who "voluntarily" gave up their licenses.

BTW, you have an infinitesimal to nil chance of ever needing Orac's surgical skills...he is a breast cancer surgeon.

Attack huh? Want a tissue? You just had to find something to write about as a comeback; you have to win.

Those who know the least obey the most.

Good night Neil...try to sober up.

Neil (#75):

"There should only be 'one medicine' - those that work and those that don't."

Funny thing, Neil - that's the way medicine works now. The therapies and tests and disease models that have been shown to work are called "medicine" (sometimes referred to as "mainstream medicine" by those languishing in the eddies and backwaters) and the rest is called "alternative" medicine (an older term is "quackery").

The sad thing - for the "alternative" practitioners, anyway - is that just as soon as an "alternative" practice is shown to be effective, those nasty bullies in real medicine grab it and call it "medicine". The "alternative" practitioners are left crying in their sandbox with only ineffective and unproven therapies to play with.

If I were an "alternative" practitioner and I thought I had a therapy that actually worked, I'd do everything I could to keep it from being studied, because as soon as there's data showing that it works, the mean real doctors will take it away from me.

Ponder that a while, Neil. And go easy on the paint thinner.


Prometheus, wow, what a name. Wish I had one like that but I prefer to let my actions speak louder than words.
Chinese Medicine, one of many, has been around longer than you deserve to even understand or comprehend. If it didn't work why is it still around? It is conventional medicine that should be regarded as alternative; the new kid on the block of only over 100 juvenile years.
Once again, there is an ever flowing stream of arrogance and lack of respect of other peoples view and fear fear fear.You must live in a 100% perfect world of no mistakes - sitting on your ass all day on computers - no mistakes, but also no life.

Traditional Chinese medicine is also responsible for nearly hunting rhinos into extinction, mostly at the hands of the Triad.

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 12 Dec 2011 #permalink

Actually, if you feel that the old, traditional ways are best, Neil should deliver all further messages by hand, as people used to do for ages, and still do today.

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 12 Dec 2011 #permalink

Given the number of endangered species that have been driven almost to extinction due to "Eastern Medicine" - including Asian Elephants, Tigers, Rhinos, Sharks, etc, most of whom are sought for various "virility cures," you'd think we could just ship them a bunch of "little blue pills" and help save the environment.

Neil is flitting from one "ancient treatment" to another, hopelessly trying to impress us.

We are so underwhelmed with his alternative mind treatments...perhaps because he has no mind, no performance career that reaches 100 million a year and is full of it.

Promethius has a real job and doesn't sit on his posterior all day...as opposed to the brain-addled Neil...what a joke this "Neil" is...ha, ha, ha and ho, ho, ho.

Neil (#80):

"Chinese Medicine, one of many, has been around longer than you deserve to even understand or comprehend. If it didn't work why is it still around?"

That's rather like asking "Since we know the stars and planets cannot affect our lives, why is astrology still around?". Or, for that matter, "Since we know vitamin C has no effect on viral infections, why do so many people believe that it will prevent or treat 'colds'?".

The answer is two-fold: "Traditional Chinese Medicine" (TCM) still exists in China because so many people lack access to real medicine. In the absence of real medical care, TCM is "better than nothing" in that it gives the illusion of doing something (see: Placebo). You'll note that the upper echelons of Chinese society don't eschew real medicine in favor of TCM.

TCM still exists in places where real medicine is available because some people - like Neil - attach magical properties to it. It's ancient, it's from distant lands, ergo it must be magical. The most common argument in favor of TCM is that it's been around a long time and is still "popular", which is circular reasoning in its purest form.


I pity people who think truth is how they think it is.

Instead of doubting the efficacy of homeopathy, why don't you read about and speak to thousands of people who found cure using homeopathy.

I have rarely met a person who found cure for their chronic troubles using mainstream medicine and have stopped further medication. They continue to take those chemical pills until their death. There is no concept of cure in mainstream medicine, it is only suppressing the symptoms.

natlitt, I'm sorry but you seem to understand how to show proof. If you want to prove that homeopathy works, then show that it works by demonstrating that it has cured someone with a non-self-limiting condition. Something like type 1 diabetes, or, one of the conditions that Hahnemann called a miasm, syphilis (only without antibiotics). Also, there is a homeopath, Andre Saine, who claims homeopathy works for rabies. That is definitely testable.

And the "try it yourself bit" just lame. My mother-in-law gave me one of those balls you put in the washing machine that replaces detergent. I explained to her it was akin to using rocks in a river, but she insisted I try it out. So I put it in the wash of my son's stinky clothes without detergent. When the wash was done they were still has stinky.

Unless you can provide actual evidence that homeopathy actually does something, when it is literally nothing... then your pleas are just as stinky.

I pity people who think truth is how they think it is.

This, of course, is precisely what you think, though, isn't it now?

@ natlitt: We have read up on homeopathy and truly doubt that water molecules have memory after repeated dilutions and that thumping homeopathic medications on a bible...(or do you whack the bible on the magical solution?)...is curative.

You should be more specific about "chronic troubles". What "chronic troubles" would you be referring to? Inquiring minds want to know!

Well, type 1 diabetes is a chronic trouble, so we'd would really like to know how homeopathy cures it.

@ nattit

I pity people who think truth is how they think it is.

Nice pot-and-kettle there.

We don't think truth is what it is because we think that. (Did I just write that?) We think the truth is what it is because we test it. We constantly ask, "is this the truth?" We ask the question in multiple ways, taking care that the answer we get is the truth, not our personal delusion. For homeopathy, the answer comes back a resounding "NO!" every time it is tested.

Instead of doubting the efficacy of homeopathy, why don't you read about and speak to thousands of people who found cure using homeopathy.

We doubt the efficacy because: 1) The mechanism is entirely implausible; and 2) No efficacy has been reliably shown. Humans are very good at fooling themselves. One of the easiest ways is the post hoc fallacy. They assume that if they do X and then Y happens, that X caused Y to happen. You have to be careful that A, B, C or D didn't cause Y and the correlation between X and Y wasn't just a coincidence. Drinking water and having your cold go away 7-9 days later doesn't mean that the water, no matter how magically treated, cured your cold.

Anecdotes, even hundreds or thousands, aren't evidence. Or rather, they're evidence that hundreds or thousands of people think that homeopathy has cured them, not that it actually has. (See pot-and-kettle above about thinking something is the truth.)

I have rarely met a person who found cure for their chronic troubles using mainstream medicine and have stopped further medication. They continue to take those chemical pills until their death. There is no concept of cure in mainstream medicine, it is only suppressing the symptoms.

Ah, the old "only treating the symptoms" canard, along with "nothing but pills." Complete and total horseshit! That's a strawman of medicine that you're arguing with. Why not educate yourself, rather than bleating worn-out falsehoods. If mainstream medicine cured one person, that would be infinitely more than homeopathy has cured (discounting using homeopathy for treating dehydration, that is.)

@ natlitt (#86)

I have rarely met a person who found cure for their chronic troubles using mainstream medicine and have stopped further medication. They continue to take those chemical pills until their death.

Conversely, I have never met a person who found a cure for their chronic troubles using "alternative" medicine and have stopped further medication... they usually keep gobbling the patent treatment or wearing the magic trinket or chanting the words of power until they eventually keel over.

Your point isn't just projection on behalf of the CAM community, it's the psychological equivalent of standing on a soapbox in Times Square and beaming legible PowerPoint slides onto the Moon.

-- Steve


Prometheus, wow, what a name. Wish I had one like that but I prefer to let my actions speak louder than words.

That's actually kind of a strange thing to say in an online conversation; here, we are nothing *but* words, and our actions are imperceptible save for what we claim of them -- our words, again.

Prometheus is a perfectly good name. The man who stole fire from the gods and thereby lifted mankind out of darkness, only to be condemned to eternal torture as punishment. But it's more than that, now. Prometheus is also the name of a shepherd moon, one of the first discovered. It orbits the planet Saturn and, with its partner Pandora (also an evocative name), constrains and sculpts the F-ring with its gravity. Check out this stunning view of its nightside, lit by Saturn-shine:

Chinese Medicine, one of many, has been around longer than you deserve to even understand or comprehend. If it didn't work why is it still around? It is conventional medicine that should be regarded as alternative; the new kid on the block of only over 100 juvenile years.

"Conventional" medicine has ancient origins. Many modern medicines are much younger, of course, but this is largely due to technological limitations. Hippocrates did not have access to an MRI machine, after all. Physics had to be invented first. I'm not sure why its ancient origins are so often dismissed; it's a bit like the popular myth that Columbus proved the Earth was round. People tend to think that ancient people were idiots. They weren't. Not by a long shot. Many modern techniques have ancient roots. Thing is, though, they didn't keep using them the same way. They improved them. I'm not sure why you'd want to use medicine as it was used a thousand years ago when vastly improved versions are now available.

Ancientness doesn't make something right. Astrology is ancient. Bloodletting is ancient (and the precursor to what we now call acupuncture). Slavery is ancient. Cannibalism is ancient. Killing widows or forcing them to marry their brother-in-laws is ancient. Doesn't make it right. It has to be right on its own merits.

And if you're really open-minded, you'll agree on that. That's tricky, though, becuase it means being open to the possibility that some things aren't actually what they claim to be.

Chinese medicine, I have to admit, is a bit of a sore spot for me. The devastation that has been done in the name of "natural medicine", and particularly Chinese medicine, is extraordinary. Watch a video of a Chinese bear farm sometime; it is horrifying. It's also totally unneccesary; the substance in bear bile (all bile, actually) that might have some use is easily synthesized. But TCM generally will only use the natural version, and there is no good way of obtaining it. Honestly, the rampant poaching that was devastating bear populations might actually be preferable to the "sustainable" bile farming done today.


I pity people who think truth is how they think it is.

Instead of doubting the efficacy of homeopathy, why don't you read about and speak to thousands of people who found cure using homeopathy.

Natlitt, these would be people who think truth is how they think its. They took homeopathy, they felt better, they assumed homeopathy worked. They believed that their perception was truth. This is a very common and understandable belief, but it is naive.

It's also odd that you'd feel that way about homeopathy but not conventional medicine. And it's peculiar that you later deride medicine for only treating the symptoms -- homeopathy, by definition, treats only symptoms. It does not really believe in any disease process.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 14 Dec 2011 #permalink

I'm not sure I want to get involved in this little rift, but I'm one of those people for whom traditional medicine failed and alternative medicine was successful. You can see my full story on my blog @ http://worked4me.wordpress.com but it goes something like this... colon cancer, positive lymph nodes, therefore 6 mo chemo. At one year anniversary of diagnosis new enhancing liver lesion appeared confirmed not to have been there prior year. Tried an alternative cancer treatment to appease my father who was relentless while tradional doctors waited to see if more lesions would appear before hepatic surgery and more chemo. Guess what, it disappeared over one year's time and was the only treatment I was on. I also have a post on why the treatment I took will never be accepted. In short it goes like this. My doctors can only prescribe the approved standard of care, lest they be sued. My doctors all said alternatives might work but until they go thru clincial trials and become approved they cannot prescribe them. I even had the chance meeting with a pharmaceutical research person on a flight who agreed that unless the pharmceutical company can obtain a patent on the substance, it does not make good business sense to invest in the clinical trial. Therefore the cheap and easily accessible treatment that saved my life will always be just an alternative. And this is not just 'feeling better' I have copies of all my scans showing "going, going, gone" to prove its efficacy!

Ah, sigh. The plural of anecdote is not data. Plus you actually had some chemo.

Rosanne, how would you feel if someone followed your lead and ended up dying?

I'm not an expert, but when I learned of a friend who went to Ossis with stage IV and after treatment most of her tumor markers signficantly dropped, and PET scan showed that most of the tumors disappeared, I know that something good is being offered to those who are struggling with cancer. It's working for her.
I also know that there is no cure for cancer. What might work for one person might not work for another. Most I've known to be dx with advance cancer and treated with rads and chemo died from the treatment. From dx to death their life was miserable. I recently had a mx to remove idc with no node involvment. I hope the surgery got it all and if not then I will choose alternative for reasons of quality of life. I am not convince that chemo cures.
I also have a hard time with conventional medicine chiming evidence base chemo medicine when most of what they do are trials...no proof that it will cure.
Give people the freedom to choose how they want to be treated. Doctors PRACTICE medicine...take in the word practice...we are all gunni pigs.

evebarr7 - Do you know statistics on survival rates of various cancers and how they compare between untreated, treated per current medical standards, and treated with homeopathy and other "alternative therapies"?If you don't like the term "practice" what term would you like?

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 06 Jan 2012 #permalink


I just read your account of your cancer treatment. I am very glad your conventional treatment worked so well for you. However I'm not impressed with your account of the "liver metastasis". You have no idea what the liver lesion was, as it was never biopsied. Your CEA was always within the normal range, which is up to 3.0 µ/L. As a biomedical scientist I was responsible for checking and signing thousands of CEA lab reports.

You wrote, "He drew another CEA for my regular lab and it was 0.6 (still climbing). Again, while still within normal limits for the general population, this was abnormal for me." Your CEA from one lab was 0.5, 0.6 and less than 0.5, and from the other lab 2.0 and 1.5. I can assure you these variations are of no significance at all and are all normal. People's CEA levels go up and down within the normal range and the test itself has its own imprecision - I might run the same sample twice and get 0.5 the first time and 0.6 the second.

The abnormal CEAs I saw were much, much higher than the normal range, sometimes in the hundreds. Yours was hovering around the detection limit of 0.5. You assumed on the basis of normal variation in your CEA that your "tumor" was growing. I doubt it was either a tumor or growing.

You have no idea what would have happened if you had not had the hydrogen peroxide treatment. I doubt the hydrogen peroxide made any difference at all to the liver lesion, and I think that whatever it was would have shrunk on its own with no treatment at all. Hydrogen peroxide does form hydroxyl free radicals in acid solutions, but assuming any hydrogen peroxide is absorbed into the blood through the GI tract, it would find itself in an alkaline solution (pH 7.4) and would be instantly be broken down into oxygen and water by catalase in the blood.

I am concerned that you have jumped to incorrect conclusions about your liver lesion, and the effects of hydrogen peroxide on it and are communicating these incorrect conclusions to other people with cancer.

Incidentally, it is often claimed that drinking hydrogen peroxide increases blood oxygen levels. A little thought indicates this is nonsense. The maximum dose I have seen recommended is 25 drops of 35% hydrogen peroxide 3 times a day. This is about 3 ml of 35% hydrogen peroxide which is equivalent to 33 ml of 3% hydrogen peroxide, which is 10 vol i.e. it generates 10 times its volume of oxygen. So this dose of hydrogen peroxide would generate about 330 ml of oxygen. The air we breath is 21% oxygen so the amount of oxygen generated by that dose of hydrogen peroxide is the same as in 1.6 liters of air, less than a single deep breath.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 07 Jan 2012 #permalink

@Chris... Like I said, I don't want to get involved with this little rift, but if you read my blog you saw that I do not suggest anyone take what worked for me INSTEAD of traditional medicine for that very reason. I state that it might be something to try, not when you are currently being treated traditionally, but if you are told there is no chance for a cure by your doctor, that there's nothing more they can do, or that you need to wait before undergoing more treatment, as in my case. Over and out! :-)

I have a comment in moderation about Rosanne's CEA levels which she misinterpreted (I used to be responsible for both measuring CEA and validating the reports), and that her liver lesion was unbiopsied and in all probability not a metastasis, since it went away on its own without any effective treatment.

Ingested hydrogen peroxide is not a treatment. If any of it is absorbed it is broken down immediately into oxygen and water (not hydroxyl radicals at physiological pH) and even the highest dose suggested provide less oxygen than a good lungful of air.

Sorry Rosanne, I have little patience for people who claim that an unproven, implausible and potentially dangerous "treatment" like hydrogen peroxide has cured a cancer that was never properly diagnosed. I think you are encouraging desperate people to make foolish decisions.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 07 Jan 2012 #permalink

Rosanne, you story is still an anecdote. Just saying what you said is "something to try" is irresponsible, and as Kerbiozen said: foolish.

Krebiozen.. interesting. I've never claimed to be a chemist, so maybe I can learn something here. Are you saying that when H2O2 breaks down into H2O and O, the O has the same chemical properties and reacts the same as O2 that is transported on hemoglobin?


Are you saying that when H2O2 breaks down into H2O and O, the O has the same chemical properties and reacts the same as O2 that is transported on hemoglobin?

Yes, 2 hydrogen peroxide molecules break down into 2 water molecules and one molecule of oxygen gas, O2. If you mix blood with hydrogen peroxide the catalase in the blood will instantly break down the hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen gas, which causes the bubbling you see. In an acid pH peroxide can form hydroxyl free radicals but not in the alkaline conditions found in blood. It's unlikely that any hydrogen peroxide would survive in blood for long enough to get to a tumor, or that it would have any useful effect on a tumor even if it did. Anyway, reactive oxygen species aren't generally good things to have in your body, unless your white blood cells are using them to kill pathogens.

There are a lot of claims about cancer being caused by a lack of oxygen, but I think the truth is that low oxygen is a result of poor blood supplies to tumors, not a cause of the tumor. When cancer cells are grown in cultures there is no oxygen concentration (or pH) that will support normal cells but not cancer cells.

I could write a lot about various oxygen therapies, including ozone and hydrogen peroxide, but the bottom line is that there is very little evidence that they are effective treatments for anything, including cancer. If they showed promising results in cancer cell cultures and/or cancer in animals there would be interest in doing clinical trials (it's not just drug companies that do them) but they don't so there isn't.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 07 Jan 2012 #permalink


Are you saying that when H2O2 breaks down into H2O and O, the O has the same chemical properties and reacts the same as O2 that is transported on hemoglobin?

I have a longer comment in moderation, but the short answer is "yes". 2H2O2 -> 2H2O + O2.

As far as I know there is no such thing as a "free oxygen radical" consisting of a single oxygen atom as you (and several others) suggest.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 08 Jan 2012 #permalink

Folks: don't be so stupid to suggest there is "no such thing" as atomic oxygen. Of COURSE O atoms exist. Highly ractive, yes, and quickly reacting to form something else (including O2) but saying there is no such thing as bare O does not make you look like you have a clue.

By Marry Me, Mindy (not verified) on 08 Jan 2012 #permalink

Marry Me Mindy,
If you can find any references that confirm that oxygen free radicals consisting of a single free oxygen atom have ever been observed in the human or any other body, I would be grateful. I have studied biochemistry and even lectured scientists on free radicals and antioxidants but I have never come across any reference to such an entity, except on CAM websites.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 08 Jan 2012 #permalink

Krebiozen, I found this article on Wikipedia that references the chemical process of Catalase breaking down naturally occurring hydrogen peroxide in the human body. The section called Molecular Mechanism is the part that caught my attention and may indicate there are oxygen atoms released. Since they are so reactive as Marry Me Mindy indicates, they are probably snapped up quickly, therefore cannot be "observed" in the human body. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalase
Of course I'm not a biochemist and am still learning here so I welcome your thoughts.

That's interesting - but if you look at the equation at no point is there a free O atom, it is attached to the heme that is part of the catalase molecule before it exchanges electrons with another O attached to heme resulting in O2 and heme.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 08 Jan 2012 #permalink

re 106
I think I can recall reading a few journal articles about free O radicals in the human body back in the early 90's, when I was a grad student. But they were in chemistry journals not medical, and I have no hope of finding the references again - heck, before I read them, I had to take the bound journals to the Xerox machine to copy them. And those copies have long since been recycled. Anyway, the point was that it's not inconceivable, from the chemical (mine, and Marry Me Mindy's) point of view.

The problem we're having is that most folks seem to fade behind "but science is hard" and don't even try to understand it. They can't differentiate between inconceivable to them, and inconceivable to the folks that actually study the subject. At least Rosanne is trying.

And I'd like to thank you for balancing the equation. I was tempted to post my own comment on that, but I hit the limit of my own expertise.

I take Marry Me Mindy's point. Free oxygen atoms do exist, but I don't think they play a role in biological systems in the way Rosanne suggests on her blog. They are such highly reactive entities they would instantly react with the nearest molecule, even water to form peroxide. They cannot possibly persist like other reactive oxygen species can.

It is complicated by confusing terminology - references to free oxygen radicals do not necessarily mean O, often they mean other oxygen free radicals. Also singlet oxygen is not O as you might think but a paramagnetic variety of O2.

I think it is highly unlikely that free oxygen atoms are generated when hydrogen peroxide is ingested, or when catalase (or glutathione peroxidase) breaks down peroxide, and even if they are I think it very unlikely that they travel around the body selectively attacking tumor cells.

Of course it is always possible that science has moved on while I wasn't looking, but a search on PubMed doesn't immediately turn up anything particularly relevant.

I have frequently read that because leukocytes use peroxide to zap pathogens, ingesting or injecting peroxide is a good thing to do. It's a bit like arguing that because shooting a homicidal home invader is effective, machine-gunning a crowd is a good idea. I think MMS (aka sodium chlorite/chlorine dioxide) has been touted in a similar way, because chlorite is involved in our immune systems killing pathogens in a similar way to peroxide. It doesn't really work like that.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 08 Jan 2012 #permalink

Krebiozen - you could add silver to your list, whereby thinking that if it's useful in a topical antibiotic it must be even better ingested will eventually see someone end up looking like papa smurf.

Krebiozen, I absolutely agree with you.
And it saddens me that there are so many people out there who can't tell the difference between an atom and a molecule, let alone a free radical. And my own mother (an engineer; not uneducated) read the title of the thesis that my graduate research followed up, and turned it into a political discussion: free radicals!

Chemmomo, as an engineer who became a mom, I am now laughing!

if you find your way into my end of the west coast any time - let me know!

If Rosanne's H202 Therapy wasn't the actual reason for the cure, then what was ? According to her blog, her tumor was getting bigger during Chemo. I am not a scientist or doctor, but it is very obvious that the Chemo didn't cure her. I know that the established medical community would never adopt the H202 therapy for obvious reasons (profit-can't patent h202) but attacking Rosanne for an excellent decision that most likely saved her life is ludicrious. Seems like some here are trying their best to protect the status quo when it comes to fighting cancer and if it were my choice, I would seek alternative methods first. thanks rosanne