This one will be much shorter than usual, mainly because I was out late last night for a dinner function at which I was on a panel of breast cancer experts. I must admit, even after having been an attending surgeon for 15 years, it never ceases to make me feel a bit weird to be presented as a “breast cancer expert”—or an expert at anything, for that matter. It’s rather like how I sometimes feel a bit weird that skeptic groups still invite me to give talks. Ten years ago, I sucked at public speaking. Now I’m apparently good enough that people want to hear me. Go figure.
In any event, I hate to harp on everyone’s favorite New World Order conspiracy mongering quack, Mike Adams (a.k.a. the Health Ranger, or, more appropriately, the Health Danger), but regular readers might remember that a little over a month ago one of Adams’ blogging minions posted a bit on using homeopathy to treat Ebola virus. True to the precepts of homeopathy, the homeopath, Ken Oftedal, recommended finding the blood or bodily fluids of someone suffering from Ebola and then diluting it homeopathically to 30C, which, as you recall, is basically so many dilutions that nothing is left. Of course, aside from the fact that homeopathy is quackery, it was astoundingly irresponsible and stupid of Oftedal to recommend coming into contact with bodily fluids of Ebola victims, given that that’s how the virus is spread. Any homeopath (or person, given that Oftedal gave an explicit recipe for how to make his homeopathic Ebola remedy) who did this and didn’t have the proper protective gear, not to mention the training necessary on how to handle infectious blood and bodily fluids properly, would be at high risk of infecting himself and possibly others, particularly during the shaking of each serial dilution. In any case, this was something too quacky even for Mike Adams, and he took it down in horror, no doubt fearing lawsuits if some hapless and stupid homeopath actually tried to do what Oftedal recommended or if someone actually tried to rely on such a remedy to prevent or treat Ebola.
At the time, some of you thought that perhaps I was being too easy on Adams. The suggestion was that he hadn’t taken down Oftedal’s post because he cared that it was not just quackery but highly dangerous quackery, but rather because it was competition. Back then, I pooh-poohed those suggestions, mainly because Adams has a long track record of quackery and I’m always a bit leery of pulling the “shill gambit” even on a quack like Adams because of how often it’s been aimed at me. It’s a form of ad hominem attack, poisoning the well. Now I have to admit that today I learned that you, my readers, might have been right. Today, Adams posted an article entitled Pandemic Preparedness: The world's most powerful antiviral herbs and natural medicines revealed in free audio recording, which is basically a post touting another Adams project, BioDefense, specifically, an episode of an online “pandemic preparedness” course Adams has put together: Episode 6: Antiviral herbal medicines vs. Ebola and other viral pandemics.
Now, I must admit, I haven’t listened to the whole thing. There’s only so much of Adams smug droning I can take. However, there’s a pretty good summary at the links. In particular, Adams starts right out by saying that “nothing on the planet is proven to treat Ebola.” This is sort of true, if you mean nothing has yet been proven to treat or prevent the disease at its cause: The virus. However, we do know that excellent supportive care can greatly decrease the death rate from Ebola, although unfortunately that death rate, even with the best science-based medical care, remains hovering around 50% or more.
Here’s the part at the beginning of the audio that got me though. Adams goes on and on about how everything he is about to discuss is “experimental” because “nothing on the planet” has yet been proven to treat or prevent Ebola. I nearly choked on my coffee as I heard this. Basically, he’s not-so-subtly implying (OK, he’s basically beating his audience over the head with it) that because science-based medicine doesn’t yet have an effective drug for Ebola and all its currently existing drugs are experimental the “herbal antivirals” that he’s going to talk about are the same: experimental. “Experimental.” You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means, Mr. Adams.
Next up: The argument from antiquity. Adams claims that there is an herbal preparation in traditional Chinese medicine that’s thousands of years old and was used by a practitioner to save “thousands of lives” from a pandemic that was sweeping through China. This reminds me very much of the claim that homeopaths were very successful treating victims of the Spanish flu during the pandemic of 1918; i.e., it’s not very convincing. For one thing, thousands of years ago, no one back then knew what viruses were or even how such diseases spread. In any case, while it is true that there are antiviral drugs that have been derived from plants, it does not follow that using herbs will treat Ebola, which is what Adams is claiming despite all his quack Miranda warnings that that’s not what he is doing.
One herbal preparation he’s real high on is Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, or the “blood heat formula,” which was developed by Sun Simiao. He’s written about it before. One notes that Sun Simiao speaks of “ymptoms of both excess heat and deficient yin (because the heat has burned up the yin resources)” as the cause. Naturally, there is no evidence presented that anything Sun Simiao used in the seventh century AD demonstrated any utility against infectious disease.
What Adams does claim includes a list of herbs that allegedly treat virals and this:
Chinese Medicine can save millions of lives in a global pandemic, especially if western medicine fails
- Western medicine is monopolistic and entirely intolerant. Dogmatic pushers of vaccines and drugs have zero openness to any other system of medicine
- Most citizens of the world use plant-based medicine, not pharmaceutical medicine
- People who are foolish enough to believe solely in western medicine may pay for their delusions with their lives
- Survivors will be people who are open to the full spectrum of available treatments and cures for viral pandemics
- The truth about the anti-viral potential of natural medicinal herbs cannot be suppressed forever
- Dogma is deadly: The arrogance of western medicine will get a lot of people killed
- Things you can start doing RIGHT NOW to boost your immune defenses against viral pandemics
He also claims that you should beware of “western medicines” interfering with the action of the herbs, not the other way around! He’s also into “essential oils,” as well. Not surprisingly, he advertises doTerra OnGuard Essential Oil Blend, which claims to “support the immune system.” In fact, he advertises a bunch of products. One wonders how much he makes off of this advertising.
Of course, it doesn’t matter why Adams is doing this. It doesn’t matter if he’s making money off of it or not, although it’s not a trivial consideration if you first demonstrate how he gets the science and medicine wrong, which I’ve done. In fact, over the years, I’ve shown time and time again how Adams gets pretty much everything wrong. Anyone who relies on his advice to prevent or treat Ebola, much less any other viral pandemic disease, will likely regret it.
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Being unwilling to feed into the woo that Mike Adams likes to feed his followers, what other remedies does Adams like to tout against pandemic disease?
I ask this because I'd like to compare it to what herbs people actually used in the past against infectious diseases. You know, calling him out on his nonsense.
But Adams is right.
When you consider the many millions of Chinese people who've died in pandemics of cholera, influenza and other infectious diseases - think how much worse it would've been without Traditional Chinese Medicine!
One herbal preparation he’s real high on is Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang
I assume the pun was not intentional.
It's hard to be sure because often many Chinese characters will have the same Pinyin transliteration (especially if you don't use tone markers), but one of the characters transliterated as "xi" means "west". In particular, when that word is used in a medical context, it means science-based, or at least evidence-based, medicine (i.e., Western medicine), as opposed to "zhong" (Chinese) medicine. So I did a double take when I saw the name of that preparation. Perhaps ironically, Adams reminds us to be wary of Western medicine.
One might hope that rhinoceros horn is in short supply. Way to go, Mike.
Please tell me the "Antiviral herbal medicines" included forsythia in the ingredients... http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0188900/?ref_=tt_cl_t4
(Damn, that movie creeped me out.)
Mikey bills this as a "free online audio course"- which I wanted to audit HOWEVER my computer absolutely refused to play it, probably exhibiting more sense than I did- since I already know pretty much what it'll say..
At any rate, I just had an interesting thought: Mikey lives in Austin, Texas as do Alex Jones, Andy Wakefield, Polly Tommey, Arthur Krigsman, Jake Crosby and probably quite a few other woo-doers... all in one place.
Draconis, do you hear me?
This looks like an excuse to use the evil Western medicine to me.
BUT Science Mom:
Mikey is so outlandishly healthy precisely because he ran away from evil Western medicine yearsago ( see his bio)
or possibly because he lost 60 lbs.
i was sent an urgent message telling me about this launching of Mikey's new site Biodefense.com, on 9/11, from a lovely but quack sibling.
In Mikey's introduction to the series, he mentions that "given that numerous viral pandemics are now spreading which have absolutely no vaccines, antibiotics, etc. . ."
which seems to indicate that Mikey is acknowledging the need for vaccines and antibiotics.
Then he lists all the things we will learn in this course, including "why you already have a genetic blueprint for survival", and "how to activate your genetic miracle that will keep you alive". Apparently via herbs.
His last bullet point promises to treat us to an understanding of "why I'm driven by compassion for humanity and the drive to save lives", which doesn't really have much to do with biodefense but a lot to do with Mikey's wonderfulness. As always. I almost feel sorry for the guy.
#6, Austin is the new California.
You know, I can remember when pharma was first allowed to advertize on the telly. It was shortly after the EMS scare and L-tryptophan ban (~1989-1990). That 'contamination', peak-E, was traced to one Japanese plant (Showa Denko) and most likely because of the use of a GMO E. Coli to produce it. Since the evidence got flushed, no one can say...
The first one I saw was a Superbowl ad.. "We're drug companies and we do great things", or words to that effect, and then came the individual Prozac ads with the happy, amorphous bouncy tard animations and the like.
In the first case, I just knew who wonderful 'drug companies' in aggregate must be advertizing against. As for the later and now contemporary ads, I wonder how many billions are spent on advertizing pushing abject shit (Chantrix, anyone? ) instead of actual research for a safe and effective product.
It's pretty clear to me -- If derived from a plant, then it must be somehow re-arranged or mutilated in order to obtain that patent. It's so understood now that I just cry when I lurk on a board and see commenters condemning the prescription (Deplin) natural Folate saying it is just an attempt at Big Pharma to change Folic Acid for a patent and expensive drug.
The obfuscation is pretty thick --
Try this people:
Google 'Folate' and the first result will be wikipedia 'Folic Acid'.
Google 'Folate deficiency' and one does get the right result for Levomefolic acid:
Naturally, 'folic acid' was not known to the human body until 1943, is a cumulative toxin for many, is made out of petroleum, and is what was mandated after 1998 to fortify our food supply.
Even scholarly articles still confuse the two. Often citing "dietary folic acid" as safe while pointing out the deleterious
effects of supplemented "folic acid". Grrummph.
Tim, do you make a hobby of being wrong about everything? I mean, please do tell me how petroleum could get into an avocado? (Or any of the other natural sources.)
Also, are you a Brit pretending to be an American or an American pretending to be a Brit?
I hate the bold tag here.
Pot meet Kettle. And a damn fine double entendre if I do say so myself.
Why do these quacks rail against medicine & science & then tout all this immune system fol-de-rol? Immune system, that's something from science-based medical inquiry.
Scimom: At least I don't think that there are government agents roaming farms and injecting petroleum byproducts into produce.
THS: Just a guess, but I'd say they're banking on the fact that a lot of people don't understand how the immune system works.
Yes, Mikey, we're "closed-minded" because we "only examine one system of medicine". Just like we're "closed-minded" because the only systems of building skyscrapers we examine are the ones that won't topple from a firm breeze, and the only systems of rocket propulsion we'll examine are those based on the laws of physics.
Hang on - Mikey is advocating Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang? That's ****ing Rhino Horn, isn't it!
I think there are probably a few law enforcement agencies who might want a quiet word with him about that...
Hmm...there's that ~year again -- late '90s
One example of this conflation of which I speak:
And now, while compiling this list of my wrongness, I just discovered (much to my surprise) that my vitamin C is not a good form, as well.
Rebecca @ #18:
Rhino horn? I'm pretty sure they did not use that in American Civil war days (other than to adorn rhinos, of course - maybe the occasional revolver/sword handle).
Which makes me wonder: what herbs *did* people use for infectious diseases back in American Civil War days? Garlic, perhaps? (Shay could better answer this than me, he's the fellow ACW buff on the board.)
One of the most lunatic statements about the immune system I have ever heard was a recent one from Gary Null
( Who else? He's Mikey's role model - see bio @ HealthRanger.com):
People with allergies suffer from a weakened immune system and need to more it stronger ( through ingesting gallons of green juices, supplements and a vegan diet).
There's even a video and book.
need to MAKE it stronger
@ Rebecca Fisher:
You know, a while back, he was selling deer antler 'velvet' as alternative quackery to TCM quackery involving horns. Supposedly it stews up all of those tasty androgens without killing the anilmal because they collect the stuff in the wood.
"It’s pretty clear to me — If derived from a plant, then [the active ingredients in the heterogenous plant extract itself] must be somehow [identified and isolated] in order to obtain [accurate and reproducible dose adminstration across multiple lots]."
Fixed that for you, tim.
Lettuce is made out of petroleum, timmy? Who knew...
No, you don't have to "mutilate" a substance in order to patent it. Patents protect more than just chemicals. They protect processes too, and also preparations. If you devise a novel means of extracting folate from natural sources and then processing it into a form that can be conveniently added to flour, you can totally patent that, and without modifying the molecule in the least, because it's not actually the molecule that you're patenting in this case.
One example from within the pharmaceutical industry is the patenting of new preparations of old drugs. This is one of the ways they strategically maintain their patent protection even after a patent has expired. For instance, methylphenidate's patent expired ages ago. Not coincidentally, shortly before that, the manufacturer of Ritalin got a patent and FDA approval for a sustained release formulation. The timing was most convenient for them -- it meant that just as the generic manufacturers got the chance to start making methylphenidate, they could start offering a patent-protected alternative that was just a little bit better because the patient wouldn't experience so much fluctuation of the medication during the day. (Ritalin wears off in about four hours, normally. Extended release lasts twice as long.) They could have offered the SR version much earlier, as a benefit to their patients, but as a business case, it was more strategic to wait until they were about to gain new competition. I find this underhanded, but I don't see a good solution at present, at least, not one that wouldn't cause other problems. But it's an example of patenting a drug where the molecule itself is no longer eligible for patent protection.
BTW, I'm pretty sure any patents on folic acid would've expired ages ago, if there ever had been any. And I believe commercial preparations are mainly obtained from genetically unmodified brewer's yeast. (Folate was in fact first discovered in brewer's yeast.) Why synthesize it from petroleum when existing yeasts make it practically for free?
"without killing the anilmal because they collect the stuff in the wood."
No, antler velvet is collected by sawing the antlers off of live animals. In terms of the misery it causes it is probably less horrific than collecting bile from live bears, and unlike other Traditional Chinese Superstitious Bullshit it isn't likely to result in the extinction of species.
You're probably right
so NN deliberately misled its readers by presenting it as a cruelty-free alternative. It was about 2 years ago as an advert for the stuff. No mention of ((shudder)) saws- rather, some variant of " we collect this in the woods" without any mention of the animal being ..uh.. INVOLVED.
But then it IS Mike Adams.
I managed to hear MIkey's latest rant ( @ NN, today) wherein @ about 16 minutes in, he speculates that governments can 'balance their budgets' by releasing Ebola in populations who depend on entitlements thus saving money. He goes on to then list all of the governments dodgy actions concerning medical experiments and human rights. " You know how the government works"
Yes, many issues/confusion/conflation. I have been only recently cast into this nutrition area of inquiry, myself. A little knowledge... and all that. Who knew that my first eatings of *real cheeze* (with its attendant high levels of tyrocine) is incredibly contraindiced to my supplementations of 5-HTP and passiflora incarnata?? Well, I do now!
So, how is it that nobody I'm in contact with seem to know anything about one of Merck & Cie's "most important products"?
I can't recall where I read *folate* instead of *folic acid* is what is given expectant mothers now, but I *think* it was 2010...
Still, it is the folic acid and not *folate* that is going into the flours, meals, and the like. I *feel* this to be of major significance to many aspects of health. And I, personally, would hate to see my newfound fad get hidden behind a prescription wall over the aforementioned lawsuit or similar -- Brewer's yeast aside.
Folic acid is the most stable form of the vitamin, so it has a longer shelf life. Naturally occurring folates rapidly degrade and lose their effectiveness. See http://www.fao.org/docrep/004/y2809e/y2809e0a.htm.
1mcg of folic acid has the bio equivalence of 1.7 to 2.0mcg of naturally occurring folate, so as well as a longer shelf life, you also get more bang for your buck.
Hang on – Mikey is advocating Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang? That’s ****ing Rhino Horn, isn’t it!
If there is money to be made from the extinction of a species, you can't expect Mikey to stay uninvolved.
so NN deliberately misled its readers by presenting it as a cruelty-free alternative. It was about 2 years ago as an advert for the stuff. No mention of ((shudder)) saws- rather, some variant of ” we collect this in the woods” without any mention of the animal being ..uh.. INVOLVED.
But then it IS Mike Adams.
Most of the velvet antler production comes from New Zealand, where it provides venison farmers with an extra income stream (if people are fool enough to pay for the stuff, the farmers aren't going to turn down the money). The antlers are sawn off while still part-grown and cartilaginous; NZ is on the ball about animal-cruelty issues, so vets and anaesthetic are involved.
In theory, I suppose you could follow feral deer around the forests at the end of the antler-growth season, collecting the shed shreds of dried 'velvet' before they rot into the soil; I don't think there is a market for that product (which would be about as useless as any other shed skin), but I suppose a sufficiently unscrupulous grifter with a sufficiently credulous readership might try to imply that that' his deer-based scam came from a quaint cottage industry of sustainable gathering.
I'm very unfamiliar about this whole antler issue, so maybe I'm off base.
But even if you were around just when the antlers fall off, wouldn't the velvet be in a very poor shape? The deers would just have spend the whole mating season locking horns antlers with other males, and occasionally scratching the d@mn things on trees as they are jumping around in the forest.
trying to be smart...
"horns" should have been striked out.
No no no, Helianthus. Every year the stag spends a month or so growing a new attire*, the tines of which are covered with a vascular layer until they have grown and calcified. Then the 'velvet' peels off, or is rubbed off, and only *then* does the stag start the running-headfirst-into-other-stags behaviour..
* Known to some as "antlers", but the true pedant knows that the 'antler' is only the lowest tine on each side, each tine having its own name.
I am currently unable to find any of the adverts I encountered @ NaturalNews but I did dig up an April 2010 article about Daniel Vitalis, who created SurThrival** products including Deer Antler Velvet Gold and Silver: it seems that this product line saved dear, old Mikey when he contracted food poisoning whilst hiking at high altitudes in the Andes- HOWEVER Daniel was unscathed by restaurant-induced misery because he used his own product line regularly.
** Yeah, I know- their creativity knows no bounds
Civil War medicine (I'm assuming US Civil War, yes?) was a mix of good and bad, some really good (plastic surgery advances), some bad (mercury is not terribly healthy). But the herbal remedies were probably very similar to the remedies from 17th-century England; horehound, rosemary, borage, lady's-bed-straw. Mostly a bunch of common kitchen and garden herbs, with the addition of tobacco and laudanum (raw opium in an alcohol suspension).
Effective only if you have something that will clear up on its own. Same as the herbal "alternatives" today, actually, though I doubt anyone back then would willingly eat antler velvet. :)
You guys all seem to enjoy ripping Mike Adams a new one. Is everything he does bad? Is what he does more bad than good overall? It seems like a good thing to me to have a thorough database of so many studies, makes it easier to find them and then read them. A lot of you people seem to be either pharm industry shills or just suckers. The industry has been caught in so much cheating and gouging the public stealing money and health. No doubt the cheating we've found is just the tip of the iceberg. You all seem to be defending that and attacking NaturalNews.
Do any of you have any qualifications to be judgmental on these subjects? I"m trying to get the point of this blog, but I'm just not getting it.
I do know that NaturalNews is very successful and I don't think main stream medicine is helping anybody but themselves. Mike Adams didn't need to corrupt the legal system to beat his competition.
You must be pharm shills, I just don't see anything else that's plausible.
Please correct me if I'm wrong.
"A lot of you people seem to be either pharm industry shills or just suckers. "
Yawn. The old tired and boring Pharma Shill Gambit.
"Do any of you have any qualifications to be judgmental on these subjects? I”m trying to get the point of this blog, but I’m just not getting it."
Many do. Hang around and learn something. So exactly what are Mike Adams qualifications? What is his education?
"You must be pharm shills, I just don’t see anything else that’s plausible.
Please correct me if I’m wrong."
You've hit on it exactly. By far, the most plausible explanation is that you're wrong.
Adams claims to have a "science degree"on his bio ( @ Health Ranger.com) HOWEVER a recent post ( about his experience with poverty) reveals that the degree is in technical writing. He wrote brochures about technology in Taiwan with help in translation from his wife who is Taiwanese.
His also says he has studied natural health by reading alt med books and trying thigs out: AFAIK he has no additional formal education beyond that BS degree.
*Pardonnez les typos*: that's IN his bio and THINGs
Is what he does more bad than good overall?"
If by "bad" you mean "pad his bankroll by peddling falsehoods" then, sure.
Do any of you have any qualifications to be judgmental on these subjects?
If by 'qualification' you mean 'willingness to rant on any random topic after the third pint of beer', then I believe I have that.
I generally don't consider laudanum to be an "herbal" product, even though it was partially derived from plants.
As for the mercury salts they used with impunity back then, that does put the anti-vaxers' squwaks about tiny amounts of mercury in vaccines in perspective. Maybe we should remind them of *that* the next time they get all verklempt about "teh ebil toxinz" in vaccines.
Is that all we need? I'll start posting more often!
*jumps up and down excitedly*
I'd rather take Mike's advice than any from traditional glorified pharmaceutical doctors out there. I have seen so many people die needlessly at the hands of the big pharma. I, myself have been helped tremendously by naturopathic doctors after allopathic ones almost killed me. I am a living witness to the miracle of herbal and natural remedies.
Yawn! Michele Wright, can't you come up with something more original the old tired and boring Pharma Shill Gambit? Have you ever considered using evidence and data instead of unverifiable anecdotes?
Yawn! Woozie wozzie woo woo! This dipshit is a fraud.
bic, tired from geting pwned again and again, using the playbook of patimmy?
Please name three. Describe precisely what they died of and why it was needless.
Please provide details and documentation. What was done for you, what were you suffering from, and why do you credit naturopathy for your good health, assuming you have same?
Please provide both justification and evidence for this. Thanks.