Patent Medicines and Alternative Medicine I: The Dawn of Patent Medicines

M0015903 'Dr. James's Powder for Fevers' (Picture credit Wellcome Images)

Patent medicines or nostrums were originally so named in the 17th century because those finding favour with the reigning monarch were given letters patent, which authorised the use of the royal endorsement in their advertising. It does not have anything to do with the modern concept of patenting. Indeed, throughout their history, most were not patented but trademarked instead, as patenting would have forced them to disclose the formula – something quite a few of them desperately wanted to avoid.

During the 18th century medicine was in flux. Old ideas – Galen and the Hippocratic tradition – were slowly on their way of being phased out as doctors influenced by Enlightenment sought to make medicine into a science, although it would take a very long time before medicine truly could be called scientific. At the same time, increased access to exotic plants brought to Europe during the Age of Exploration encouraged experimentation. People speculated freely on diseases, how best to treat them and systematise medicine. In addition to scientific progress – though slow – the 18th century gave rise to quackery on an unprecedented scale, some of which survives to this day, homeopathy being the most famous and widespread example.

This was also an age of therapeutic toleration, people with no medical training certainly produced, marketed and sold new mixtures, some of them gaining huge popularity, for example Dr Bateman’s Pectoral Drops. Despite the name, the inventor was not a doctor called Bateman, but a businessman named Benjamin Okell. Interestingly, the choice of the name gives a clear hint of what was to follow: quacks up to today have sought legitimacy by appropriating medical titles. Before restrictive legislation they were free to use whatever titles they liked, modern ones have to resort to diploma mills and institutes of dubious character.

Patent medicines and nostrums were popular for several reasons. Even when you could have an access to a doctor or a surgeon, you did not pay the doctor’s fee and then a separate price for the preparation of the prescription, you just bought the product. They were claimed to cure a whole host of conditions, a typical example being the claims made for Anderson’s Scots Pills:

Comfort and strengthen the stomach . . . purge Choler and Melancholy, but chiefly Phlegm and Waterish Matter . . . they comfort the Bowels and remove all obstructions in those parts.
Strengthen the Head and Senses . . .Giddiness and the Megrim . . . as they comfort and purge the Stomach, they do the like to the Head and Heart.
Kill all kinds of Worms . . .
Purge and throw out by stool all Choler in the Stomach and Bowels.
Hinder the procreation of many diseases . . . defend the body against Surfeit in Eating and Drinking, which frequently beget crude Humours; and are a sovereign help for the Gravel, Scurvy, Cholic, Dropsy, Green Sickness and Palsy.
If the Head, subject to defluctions, keepeth intelligence with a moist and Foaming Stomach . . . these Pills will stop their stream . . . be free from Gout and all other diseases of the joints, so also inward and outward rheumatism.
Extremely useful to all seafaring persons, especially in long voyages . . . kept from costiveness which is the cause of most sickness at sea, and preserved from scurvies, pestilential fevers and other malignant distempers frequent in Foreign Countries.

(This is a much-shortened version of a pamphlet in the Museum of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society)

The ingredients were Barbados aloes, soap, colocynth, gamboge and aniseed oil, making this product an aniseed-flavoured laxative. This was also another sign of times to come: incredible claims were made for a product that never had a chance of delivering those promises, a trend that continues to this day in alternative medicine.

These nostrums were also advertised as widely as could be for their time, so people were aware of their availability. Manufacturers and sellers used advertisements in the fledgling newspapers, printed and distributed broadsides and pamphlets extolling their virtues, and sold them from their booths and platforms. Interestingly, the word ‘mountebank’, meaning a charlatan, comes from Italian montimbanco, someone mounted on a bench, indicating a mode of gaining the attention of prospective buyers.

Engelmann_The-Charlatan

(Picture credit: Wikigallery.org)

The products were also the first to use branding by using very distinctive bottles. This feature also helped illiterate customers to pick the correct product. Despite being helpful in marketing, it also created a problem for the manufacturers: nothing prevented people from acquiring empty bottles and filling them with their own imitation mixture. This is why most advertisements of the time contained stern warnings about purchasing only the genuine article.

Three_early_medicine_bottles(Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Another feature used in the early advertisement that still plagues us today in alternative medicine marketing was the use of testimonials. Robert Turlington, the inventor and manufacturer of a popular nostrum, Turlington’s Balsam, published a 46-page brochure that included numerous testimonials. Most of these came from ordinary people – a porter, the wife of a gardener, a hostler, a bodice-maker – who were all praising the product for restoring them to health. (This product actually had some medicinal properties.) It is unfortunately now very difficult to ascertain how large a part testimonials played in the 18th century marketing, as very little of such ephemera has survived. As today, most of the advertising printed material was thrown away.

What is certain, however, that there was a large market for these products. An incomplete list published in 1748 lists 202 proprietary medicines and by 1830 British parliament records list 1,300 of them. They were exported all over the British Empire, being especially popular in Colonial America, losing their popularity only during the Revolutionary War when they were not available and domestic substitutes were produced. British products never regained their market share in America.

What did these medicines contain? I already gave the ingredients for the widely popular Anderson’s Scots Pills – which indeed were manufactured until 1916. Many contained no active ingredients whatsoever, others had substances long used in medicine: alcohol, honey, opium, mercury, silver, arsenic, willow bark, quinine and other vegetable substances. For example, another popular preparation, Dalby’s Carminative, contained carbonate of magnesia, oil of peppermint, oil of nutmegs, oil of aniseed, tincture of castor, tincture of asafoetida, tincture of opium, spirit of pennyroyal and peppermint water. This medicine would have been effective against indigestion and diarrhoea, for which it was marketed. An example of a preparation which would have never had any medical effect – apart from possibly being a mild laxative – was Beecham’s Pills, which was advertised to cure 31 different medical conditions, but contained only soap, aloes and ginger (I know it’s from the 19th century, but it’s similar to many older preparations and I have the formula for it).

Thus the 17th and 18th century introduced changes in the way people thought of their health care. Mass-produced medicines were now widely available, complete with branding and marketing, and people resorted to these more readily than to the traditional homemade concoctions, though these were certainly not abandoned. Clever marketing created trust in their efficacy and value, and as everyone else was apparently using them, most people who could afford it wanted to stay with the trend. The comparative inaccessibility of regular medicine (though the term is somewhat misleading this early, Royal College of Medicine notwithstanding) also assisted the perceived value of these products. This change in thinking paved way to the patent medicine explosion in the next century.

Live Blood Analysis – Is It a Worthwhile Diagnostic Tool or Pure Scam?

Live Blood Analysis – also known as live cell analysis, Hemaview or nutritional blood analysis – is a technique where the practitioner takes a few drops of the patient’s blood, smears them on a slide, covers it with a glass cover slip to keep it from drying out, and observes them in a microscope. They use special, highly expensive visual microscopes such as dark field or phase contrast microscopes that usually come equipped with a camera and monitor, so that both the practitioner and the patient can view the result. These microscopes are capable of 1000 X magnification. So it looks all nice and scientific, and probably reassures many patients that they are in reliable hands. But is this really the case?

Practitioners claim to be able to diagnose several diseases and conditions by observing the blood. They claim to be able to see in the plasma several objects, including:

Undigested food particles
Fungi
Uric acid crystals
Bacteria
Cholesterol plaques
Parasites
“Fibrous thallus”
Mold
“Rod forms”
Basophiles
“Black crystals”
Rouleaux

They also claim to see in the cells themselves

Yeast at the edge of red blood cells
Fermentations
“Anaesthetised white blood cells”

Let’s take these objects apart one by one (I’m drawing heavily from Mark Crislip’s excellent article):

Undigested food particles: No, just no. There is no way undigested food would be able to pass through the intestinal walls, the particles would be too big. I don’t know what the microscopist imagines he or she is seeing, but I suspect an artefact of a dirty slide is responsible.

Fungi/Yeast: There are conditions where you really may have fungi in your blood, but a Live Blood Analyst will never see a case. Why? Because at that stage you’re both immunocompromised and in an ICU near death from sepsis. Such people do not visit quacks, they’re too busy fighting for their life.

Uric acid crystals: They simply would not be visible, even if present. These are more artifacts of dirty slides or even microscopic splinters from the not properly cleaned slide itself. You know, they are made out of glass.

Bacteria: This is comparable to the case with fungi. You’re seriously ill with sepsis when you have bacteria in your blood, and definitely are not well enough to go visiting a quack.

Cholesterol plaques: More dirt on the slide. Cholesterol cannot be seen in a blood sample.

Parasites: More dirt or debris. Anyone with actual parasites in the blood once again would be too ill to visit a quack.

“Fibrous thallus”: An invented term by Live Blood Analysts. It is used of what is actually an artefact of fibrous debris on the slide.

Mold: What applies to fungi applies to mold, which really is fungus as well.

“Rod forms”: Unlike what the Live Blood Analysts claim, these are not “bacterial forms born out of red blood cells” as this is an impossibility. Blood cells do not transform into bacteria in anywhere else than the fantasies entertained by these quacks. In reality they are artifacts, and many times larger than any bacteria.

Basophiles: While blood can contain basophiles, it is impossible to detect these without staining the sample, so they would not be visible.

“Black crystals”: Not “tobacco, marijuana; chemical, recreational and prescription drugs” as they claim, but more dirt on the slides.

Rouleaux: Depending on the practitioner, these are alleged to indicate either “acid in the blood” or weak pancreas – pick your choice. In reality, it’s an artefact of the blood sample starting to dry out and a large number of red blood cells clumping together.

Yeast at the edge of red blood cells: This is a common artefact, a small irregular shape on the red blood cell.

Fermentations: Light spots on blood cells are interpreted as fermentation caused by high blood sugar. Fermentation requires the presence of yeast, as it needs to produce the enzymes to break down sugar. As explained before, a Live Blood Analyst will never see a patient with yeast in their blood, so they won’t ever see fermentation either.

“Anaesthetised white blood cells”: This is completely meaningless, as nobody has yet to come up with a way to anaesthetise a white blood cell. It sounds scary, though, as most people are aware of the white cell function as a part of the immune system.

Interestingly enough, no two Live Blood practitioners will see the same objects on the same slide.

At this point the poor patient is probably petrified with the thought of all that nastiness in his or her bloodstream. The practitioner then carries on to diagnose what all these things indicate. Claims of what they can diagnose include: multiple vitamin and mineral deficiencies, toxicity, tendencies toward allergic reaction, excess fat circulation, liver weakness, arteriosclerosis, cancer, arthritis, candida, chronic fatigue syndrome, prostate issues, multiple sclerosis, bacterial, viral and yeast infections, depression, sleep disorders, headaches, constipation, excess body fat, potency or fertility problems, memory problems, PMS, menopause etc.

Without fail, most practitioners will claim that any disease/s they have diagnosed are caused by the patient’s diet being too “acidic” (this is especially true of the ones trained by Robert O. Young or his accomplices) and that the patient will need expensive supplements – conveniently available from the practitioner, how surprising – to “alkalise” their body (see my previous post about how useful this in reality is). So now the poor patient leaves, with a much lighter wallet and laden with dietary advice and pricey supplements to begin his or her treatment.

As already indicated by the description of what the practitioners imagine they see in a slide, none of the above has any scientific validity, and most of it is based on profound ignorance of real human biology. Adherence to fantasies like pleomorphism, the long discarded idea that bacteria can morph to different forms according to its environment now actively promoted by Young and other alternative medicine characters or the even more insane idea that human cells can transform into bacteria in too acidic conditions, makes sure that this test is about as pseudoscientific as it can be. It has been described as “a fraudulent means of convincing patients that they are ill and require treatment by dietary supplements” – in other words a scam.

Where does this whole idea come from? It appears that one Günter Enderlein – who was not a medical doctor – was the first one to describe the use of dark field for live blood analysis in the early 20th century. He created his own terms for what he imagined he could see, calling them protits, symbionts or endobionts. Others soon followed, going equally wrong.

Gaston Naessens, developer of the worthless cancer nostrum 714X, built a microscope he called the “Somatoscope” and claimed it could enable him to see objects as small as 150 Å. This is actually physically impossible, as the refraction limit for light microscopes is around 2000 Å – this is a distance that depends on the wavelength of light. Only electron microscopes that do not depend on light can see objects this small. Naessens claimed to see organisms he called “Somatids” – needless to say no scientist has ever witnessed one, despite electron microscopes.

Nowadays probably the most influential – at least noisiest – proponent of Live Blood Analysis is above-mentioned Robert O. Young. He runs expensive courses for would-be Live Blood practitioners – the latest price being $9,995 for a single course – based on his so-called “New Biology” (not so new, the same principles were promoted already by Dr William Hay in the 1920’s). The scientific worth of his ideas can be judged from his writings, and a really telling example can be found here – I can’t repost it for copyright reasons.

So in conclusion, Live Blood Analysis was developed from Bechamp’s discredited hypothesis by Enderlein, and then was further developed by people who blithely disregarded laws of physics. It is now practised by people who imagine they have been medically trained but in reality are dangerously ignorant of anything resembling real medical knowledge and diagnostic skills. Do you really want to put your health into the hands of such people?

On the Value of So-Called “Alkalising” Diets

“Alkalising” diets are gaining popularity, and while the diet itself may be good and healthy, the thinking behind it is anything but. It is based on a complete misunderstanding of human anatomy and body chemistry. Let me explain.

Acid-alkaline chemistry is crucial in physiology, both at the cell level and the level of the complete body. There are two reasons for this: Many of the major chemical components of the body can themselves act as acids and/or alkalines. This means that proteins contain both acidic and alkaline groups and their functions are highly dependent on pH. Virtually every important metabolic process involves the uptake or release of hydrogen ions, so that being alive tends to change the surrounding pH – usually reducing it – and this will sooner or later kill the body in the absence of buffering agents.

Respiration, which is the most important physiological activity of a cell, is an acid-producing process. Carbohydrates are broken down into carbon dioxides and thus into carbonic acid, H2CO3.

The weak organic acids in the foods are in part in the form of sodium or potassium salts. So, when the body balances its pH level, some of the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by metabolizing these food acids, it converts the acids into bicarbonate (M+ HCO3-). Do I need to tell you whether bicarbonate is acid or alkaline?

The acid-alkaline balance of the body is regulated by two general mechanisms, selective excretion of acids or alkalines and by the buffering action of weak acid-alkaline systems in body fluids. Over a 24h period, an adult human will eliminate carbonic acid which breaks down into carbon dioxide, which exits from the lungs. Kidneys also excrete lesser amounts of acid.

The major buffering system of the body is the carbonate system, and it exists mainly in the form of HCO3- at the normal physiological pH. Secondary buffering action is done by phosphate, proteins and other weak organic acids and hemoglobin in the blood cells.

No foods can change the pH of your body. Your stomach is so acidic – it evolved to be that way – that no food can change its acidity. All food that leaves your stomach is adicic. After leaving your stomach food enters your intestines, where pancreatic secretions neutralise the stomach acids. So it does not matter what you eat, the food in your stomach is acidic and the food in your intestines is alkaline. I know that “alkalising” cancer quacks claim that cancer cells cannot live in an alkaline environment, and that actually is true. What they leave out is that neither can any other cell of your body. So were you actually able to “alkalise” your body, you’d be very dead.

It’s actually a very good thing that you cannot “alkalise” your blood more than temporarily, as deviations from the normal blood pH of 7.4 by more than about 0.1 either way can be very serious. Some people who peddle “alkalising” claim that range of “healthy body pH is 6.0-7.5.” The term for anyone with a blood pH of 6.0 or lower is ‘dead’. Anyone with a blood pH of 7.0 is in deep trouble, and very close to death.

The easiest way of actually “alkalising” your blood is by hyperventilating. Give it a go, till your lips tingle and hands cramp – and then tell me how great you felt. If you still want to “alkalise” your blood, you can advance to depressurisation and dehydration. Be warned, though, alkalosis is a pretty painful way to die.

What you really can “alkalise” is your urine, and all “alkalising” woo peddlers capitalise on this fact. They huckster urine tests to determine whether your body is too “acidic” and then sell you books or products that won’t actually do anything at all about your body pH, only about your urine pH. There just is no evidence whatsoever that intentionally alkalising your urine prevents or treats disease.

This is why following an “alkalising” diet or buying “alkalising” supplements to cure or prevent cancer is a complete waste of time and money.

Where I wish quacks would CEASE to fleece the parents of autistic kids

Someone on Twitter brought the CEASE “therapy” to my attention and suggested I read the book. That is not going to happen, unless he sends me a free copy, as I have this aversion to supporting quacks monetarily. So instead I went Googling and found the CEASE Therapy site.

Where to start on such a target-rich environment? The first statement on the site is absolute pure nonsense:

That is Dr. Smits’ conclusion after having seen over 300 cases of all levels of severity. In his experience autism is an accumulation of different causes and about 70% is due to vaccines, 25% to toxic medication and other toxic substances, 5% to some diseases. With isotherapy (see below), a form of homeopathy using the causative substances themselves in homeopathic preparation, the toxic imprints can be erased.

You have to be kidding me. Where is the control part of it? Which group of children who do not have autism did Dr Smits use in his observations and how large? This sounds like someone is trying to convince prospective customers that a set of anecdotes equals data. It just does not work that way.

Would someone also kindly enlighten me precisely how Dr Smits arrived at his results that “autism is… about 70% is due to vaccines”? What tests were performed to detect which substances and how were they determined to cause autism? What are these “toxic imprints” and how are they detected?

The next statement that caught my attention was:

CEASE therapists are trained during a 5 day course, given by certified CEASE therapy instructors, to guarantee the high quality of treatment and to ensure the correct application of this method.

A whole 5 day course? I bet that is some intensive, since real therapy courses can last up to 4 years full time.

Then they tell the prospective dupe errr… customer that their treatment uses something called “isotherapy.” This is described as “using the causative substances as a homeopathic remedy.”

This means that since Dr Smits believed – without any real evidence I could see – that vaccines are toxic, these preparations are vaccines diluted so many times that no original molecules can be left. They also add to this Classical homeopathy, which is meant to work on the similar principles, but it uses more substances than just vaccines, some of the more weird being the Berlin Wall, Vacuum and English Sunshine. The remedy in essence is just diluted water (or diluted water sprinkled on a sugar pill), and as such, completely inert. It will have no biological activity on the human body.

The next statement makes it clear we’re no longer even hypothetically dealing with medicine, but have entered the realms of magic:

Even illness, medication and vaccination in the energetic field of the father and mother before pregnancy can be transmitted to the child by energetic transfer.

What is the “energetic field”? What is “energetic transfer”? What is the energy involved in it? How is it detected and measured? How are vaccines and medicines transferred by it?

The people who run the website would not be able answer these questions, since what they are promoting is a faith-based belief.

In addition to homeopathy, comes orthomolecular “medicine”:

Along with the isopathic treatment we also add orthomolecular medicine to properly nourish the brain of these children and to restore proper bowel function.

Orthomolecular “medicine” is a form of quackery that prescribes megadoses of vitamins and nutrients, particularly of vitamin C, for various illnesses. It was popularised by Linus Pauling, who thus showed pretty conclusively that winning the Nobel Prize does not confer expertise in an area the Nobel winner has not thoroughly studied. Its basic concept is that if a little of something is good for you, then a massive overdose of that same something must be even better for you. What the proponents neglect to tell you that even vitamin C, though water-soluble, can with certain rare conditions be deadly as it can cause fatal nephrotoxicity. Other vitamins and minerals can have even more severe toxicity, and there have been cases where children have died from overdoses of vitamins D and E and from multivitamin formulas. Nowhere on the site did I see any warning about the dangers of such treament with vitamin overdoses.

What is also interesting is that homeopathy is the polar opposite of orthomolecular “medicine”. Homeopathy relies on diluting the substance into nonexistence and orthomolecular relies on massive overdoses. I’m not surprised that the proponents of this kind of irrational treatment are unable to see the basic discrepancy between the two modalities, and fail to understand even the admittedly irrational principles behind both.

And, of course, as with all the charlatans, the use of anecdotes abounds, since quacks without fail resort to anecdotes when they don’t have any science to back their claims. A brief perusal through the anecdotes reveals a few interesting things. First of all, Smits – or whoever wrote the anecdotes – appears to believe that autism is the complete cessation of development. This is not the case, as autism is simply developmental delay, not developmental stasis. The following case history shows clearly what is going on:

He has been vaccinated according to schedule from three months on. Apart from the DTPP/HIB and MMR he also received the Meningococ-C vaccination. I decide to detoxify both the MMR and the DTPP/HIB and to give three series of a month each of every shot. The MMR series lead to violent reactions and seemed to aggravate his autism, but after each DTPP/HIB series he clearly improves. Contact has increased, he looks you in the face, makes jokes and engages in question and answer games. Language comprehension improves and he displays a more extrovert attitude.

I prescribe three additional short series of the MMR as well as three of the DTPP/HIB. I don’t see him again until a year later. The series have had much effect. He talks a lot more and contact has greatly increased. Things no longer obsess him. He has found his place in the family. Serious behavioral disorders no longer exist. Before detoxification he would often spend hours in a corner of the room turning the wheel of a toy car. At times, he still flutters when very excited. His developmental retardation has not been fully restored, neither his motor skills or his cognitive abilities are up to par. His speech is somewhat staccato. Playing with other children than his sister still proves to be problematic at times. Now, after a meal he is satisfied, whereas before he continued eating.

The child is developing naturally, as can be expected, and the quack is taking credit for what his nostrums had nothing to do with at all. Moreover, as is clear from the case, the child is by no means “recovered” despite the claim of “a very effective way to treat autism with amazing results”.

This potentially dangerous nonsense does not come cheap either. Most of the registered CEASE practitioners were more than a little coy about their prices, but one posted them on her website. She cites £95 for the first appointment which lasts 1-2 hours and then £70 for follow-up appointments lasting up to one hour. Given that this protocol would demand multiple appointments before the parents finally give up on it when it does not work – unless the practitioner can convince them that natural changes were caused by their “treatments” – it is going to be a nice little earner.

It really makes me angry to see such worthless quackery promoted to vulnerable people. It’s giving people false hope while dipping deep into their pockets. Were I a parent with a child on the ASD spectrum, I’d never subject my child to such an unproven protocol.

Detox – the unreal and real types of detoxification

Detox is another immensely popular fad. In alternative medicine, detox is supposed to remove acquired toxins from the body. Problem is, if you ask any of the detox promoters what these alleged toxins are and how they are detected, you end up with lots of waffling about ‘environmental toxins’ etc. and not a word of how they are supposed to be detected. Not a single website selling detox kits or promoting detox diets that I read while doing research for this article managed to say what these toxins are supposed to be.

Marketers claim often that detox will help with headaches, poor sleep, tiredness, lowered immunity, nausea, dull skin, thrush, overweight, constipation, spots and acne, sluggishness, mouth ulcers, difficulty waking up, allergies, stress and skin conditions. There is not a shred of scientific evidence that any of the detox procedures will do anything of the kind. The body is fully capable of getting rid of any waste products all on its own – that is what the liver, lungs, kidneys and skin do. Should the body actually accumulate a load of toxins, we would feel really ill, not just a little uncomfortable.

Detox promoters also make incredible claims about the benefits of the process. Here is a typical one:

Body detox is a preventative process. If it becomes a regular part of your lifestyle it’ll prevent various diseases. Moreover, it slows down the aging process.

I’d love to see any scientific research backing those claims, but there is none, since these claims are just marketing hype.

False information about the body abounds. My jaw was trying to get in contact with my knees when I read the following:

 Colonics also help with emotional problems. The transverse colon passes through the solar plexus which is the body’s emotional centre. Most of our unresolved or ‘undigested’ emotional issues are stored here and as a result create a tightening of the colon muscle. This slows the bowel movement and causes constipation. The colonic can help clear the physical obstruction and release the tension that caused the emotional repression in the first place.

Where on earth did that little genius come up with the idea that “emotional issues” are stored in the celiac (solar) plexus? Also, if you take a look at this picture, you will also see where the celiac plexus is located: it is where the celiac trunk branches from the aorta. How the colon would manage to pass through that location when it is situated much lower, is quite beyond me. This is what you get when people who huckster worthless products try to sound scientific. Somehow the phrase ‘epic fail’ comes to mind.

There are several detox procedures. One gadget that used to be popular and is still marketed is the detox foot spa. The person adds water and salt to the contraption and soaks their feet in it for about 30 minutes. The water will gradually turn into darkish brown, which the marketers claim is caused by the toxins drawn from the body. This is nonsense, since you will get the same colouring of the water whether your feet are in it or not. What really happens is that the salt dissolved in the water will react with the electrodes of the gadget, generating rust. This rust is what makes the water turn brown.

Then there are the detox foot pads. These are adhesive foot pads containing usually different minerals – tourmaline is quite common – bamboo and wood vinegar. The pads are stuck to the bottom of your feet during sleep. The marketers claim that the pads will draw toxins, parasites and even cellulite from your body. This is pure nonsense, since the skin, being semi-permeable, will not be able to conduct anything like parasites or cellulite out of the body. The pads turn brown because all they draw is dead skin and dirt from your feet and, moreover, the wood vinegar is in the dry form, ground and mixed with the other ingredients. When it comes into contact with moisture, such as perspiration, it will turn back into its dark brown liquid state. You can get the same darkening reaction by sprinkling the pads with some distilled water.

Detox diets are very popular. They range from the utterly absurd lemon juice and cayenne pepper diet to the slightly more sensible vegetable-based diets. All of them involve drinking massive amounts of water. Wheat, dairy, meat, fish, eggs, coffee and tea, alcohol, salt, sugar and processed foods are prohibited. These diets are usually short-term, 3-21 days, and so are unlikely to cause any lasting harm, but they are completely unnecessary. If, however, they are followed long-term, they can cause nutrient deficiencies and health problems caused by them. For example, getting enough calcium is very difficult without dairy products, and in the long-term it can lead to osteoporosis or brittle bone disease in the later life.

Colon cleansing is a triumph of marketing over science, and relies on a trick worthy of the torch-lit medicine shows of olden time. The marketers claim that there is something they call ‘colonic plaque’ present in any ‘uncleansed’ colon – despite the fact that proctologists deny ever seeing one – and that it is toxic, causing all kinds of health problems. In reality, the colon sheds old cells every three days, so there cannot be any build-up of harmful material.

Users of these colon cleansing kits produce – and proudly publish photos of, which I won’t link to – huge ropy dark brown excrements, and this is where the trick comes in. Most of these kits contain bentonite and psyllium. Psyllium forms a mucilaginous mass when mixed with water and it has a bulk laxative effect. Bentonite is a type of clay that expands when wet and it can absorb up to 10x its own weight in water and will swell up to 18x its dry volume. It is used as a ‘clumping agent’ in cat litter. Once swallowed, psyllium and bentonite clay combine to make a soft, rubbery cast of the intestines, and this is interpreted by the charlatans as colonic plaque or whichever nonsense term for it they wish to employ.

Should you feel the need to ‘cleanse’ your colon due to constipation or hard stool, the safe and healthy way to do it is to increase the amount of fibre in your diet and drink more water.

There are real forms of detoxifying, but they apply to only a few conditions. All of these forms of detoxifying are done under the supervision of a doctor, and I sincerely hope you will never need any of them.

Alcohol detoxification is done to persons with alcohol dependence by withdrawing all alcohol. Since sudden alcohol withdrawal can kill, drugs that have similar effects to alcohol are substituted.

Drug detoxification is done to persons who are addicted to illegal drugs. The addict is isolated from their usual environment and denied the substance they are addicted to. Prescription drugs may be given to prevent the pain from withdrawal symptoms.

Heavy metal detoxification is done in cases of heavy metal poisoning. The body cannot break down heavy metals, such as zinc, lead, mercury and cadmium, which can build up to toxic levels. EDTA and other chelating drugs lower the blood levels of metals by binding the heavy metal molecules, which causes the body to remove them through urination.

However, alternative medicine has hijacked this process and claims it is effective for a number of conditions, such as autism, gangrene, thyroid disorders, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, diabetes, arthritis and cancer. There is no scientific evidence that chelation is efficient for any of these conditions, and as it can be dangerous, is not to be recommended for anything else than real heavy metal poisoning and administered by a doctor. Some irresponsible alternative medicine sellers huckster chelation kits, but these are to be avoided at all costs.

Don’t waste your money on the worthless products to get rid of imaginary toxins. If you feel that you do not feel as good as you would like, perhaps a change in your lifestyle might be in order. Eat a varied and balanced diet of mostly vegetables, fruit and wholegrain, with some dairy and meat. Drink enough water – and by that I don’t mean the marketing hype of 8 glasses a day – and exercise, even a 30 minute walk a day will be good for you. Keep this up, and you’ll find that you feel much better, and all without paying the greedy charlatans a penny.

Chiropractic – is it manipulation in more than one sense?

Chiropractic is an alternative medicine technique that uses manipulations of  spine, joints and soft tissues to treat various health issues. It is divided into two main schools, traditionalists or ‘straights’, who believe that vertebral subluxations interfere with the body’s ‘innate intelligence’ and ‘mixers’, who incorporate other practices into their treatments. Roughly one third of modern chiropractors are ‘straights’. Due to the extreme variety of beliefs and techniques used under the term ‘chiropractic’, I will concentrate on just some of them.

History of Chiropractic

 Chiropractic is the brainchild of D. D. Palmer (1845–1913), though he borrowed heavily from the ancient practice of bonesetting and the slightly older modernization of it, Andrew Taylor Still’s osteopathy, much to the anger of osteopaths. Palmer, who had previously earned a living as a ‘magnetic healer‘, founded chiropractic in 1895, claiming to have healed his janitor, Harvey Lillard, from partial deafness by manipulating his spine. Initially Palmer tried to keep chiropractic a secret, forbidding anyone else to be present while a patient was being treated, but he soon realised there was more money to be made by training others in chiropractic. So he founded Palmer School of Chiropractic in 1897. Courses originally lasted only three weeks.

Palmer taught that diseases were caused by subluxations interrupting the flow of ‘innate intelligence’, which was seen as vitalistic ‘nerve energy’ or God’s presence in humans, manifested as ‘life force’. He claimed: “A subluxated vertebra, a vertebral bone, is the cause of 95 per cent of all diseases. … The other five per cent is caused by displaced bones, other than those of the vertebral column, more especially those of the tarsus, metatarsus and phalanges, which, by their displacement, are the cause of bunions and corns.” Adjusting these subluxations back into the position would cure the disease.

Palmer published in 1910 The Chiropractor’s Adjuster: Text-Book of the Science, Art, and Philosophy of Chiropractic where he attempts to explains in about 1,000 pages what chiropractic is all about. After wading through the book – complete with bad poetry written in praise of chiropractic – the reader arrives at the explanation that the subluxations impinge nerves, which become either too tense or too slack, thus causing fluctuations of ‘tone’. ‘Tone’ in Palmer’s terms means the “normal degree of nerve tension … expressed in functions by normal elasticity, activity, strength and excitability of the various organs, as observed in a state of health.” (The Chiropractor’s Adjuster, p. 7) As the ‘innate’ was transmitted through the nerves as a vibratory wave, wrong ‘tone’ caused the diseases. How Palmer managed to detect and measure these neural vibratory waves is beyond me.

What caused the subluxations? Practically any physical activity, including sleeping, and unspecified ‘noxious substances’ – this latter was probably Palmer’s attempt of explaining contagious diseases in chiropractic terms.

 Injuries to the spine similar to those caused by railway accidents, are incident to all the avocations of life; they may occur even during sleep. ‘From baby in the high chair to grandma in the rocker,’ the axial bones are as liable to be displaced by noxious substances which enter the system in our food and drink or by inhalation as they are by accident direct.

This, of course, made sure that the chiropractors could treat patients for any disease, even if the patients had no recollection of any injury. All the chiropractor had to do was to locate the corresponding subluxation and adjust it. There will be more said about chiropractic diagnosis later.

Graduates from Palmer’s school soon opened their own schools of chiropractic. The first one was American School of Chiropractic, which opened in 1902. Palmer himself founded a school in Portland, Oregon, in 1903. Chiropractic spread like wildfire, as one chiropractor testified to the U.S. Senate: “We had at one time 200 schools in the state of Michigan. They would start up with anything, in a back parlor for instance. We had a man over on East Capitol Street a few years ago who was advertising to teach chiropractic in 30 days for $10.” Most of these institutions were very short-lived, and some were no better than diploma mills. All in all, of the known 392 chiropractic schools less than half of them were still open after their first year.

The backlash from the medical profession was inevitable. Chiropractors exhibited an unquestionable air of superiority, starting with Palmer, who considered himself a genius. This is a typical quote from him:

 These discoveries and their development into a well-defined science are worth more to the student, practitioner and those desiring health, than all the therapeutical methods combined.

I am the originator, the Fountain Head of the essential principle that disease is the result of too much or not enough functionating. … It was I who combined the science and art and developed the principles thereof. I have answered the time-worn question —what is life?

Other chiropractors were no less boastful. An advertisement by the Universal Chiropractors’ Association claimed:

 No method of combating disease has ever deserved to be called scientific until Chiropractic was developed. The Chiropractor knows — not guesses — but knows — what organs in the body are weak or diseased after he has analyzed the spine. The only reason why a Chiropractor cannot promise a complete cure to every patient in the world — is the possibility that the case has gone so far that Nature herself will not cure it.

Heinrich Matthey, a medical doctor in Davenport, Iowa, accused Palmer of teaching an unproven medical concept and practising medicine without a licence. In 1906 Palmer was convicted of violating medical practice laws and jailed when he refused to pay the $350 fine. He was only one of first of many other chiropractors who were charged for practising medicine or osteopathy without a license. Osteopaths had never forgiven Palmer and the chiropractors for practising what they considered “bastardized osteopathy” and pursued chiropractors with undiminished zeal. Finally, starting in 1913 in Kansas, states started to licensing chiropractors ending with the last state, Louisiana, in 1974.

Chiropractic was also beset with internal trouble. Starting already in 1906, Oakley Smith, a graduate of Palmer’s school, founded a splinter group called naprapathy. He was soon followed by the second ever student of Palmer, Andrew P. Davies, who founded neuropathy, an amalgam of osteopathy and chiropractic. Neuropathy appears to have disappeared without a trace, but naprapathy is still practiced and is popular in some European countries. Palmer was openly disdainful of these splinter groups, but his scorn for them was nothing compared to what was to follow.

Early on, John Howard, who was one of Palmer’s earliest graduates, realized that spinal manipulation could not cure every disease, no matter what Palmer claimed. He started the National School of Chiropractic in 1906 and moved it to Chicago in 1908. His system used light, heat, water, electricity and other forces with chiropractic.

Palmer exploded. He called these ‘mixers’ “unprincipled shysters”, “kleptomanic scavengers” and “grafters and vampires” who chased after “foul, unclean, filthy, unwholesome” methods. Chiropractic now in essence divided into two groups, ‘straights’, who followed the Palmer system and ‘mixers’, who added other methods to their treatments. This splintering has continued to this day and new systems of treatments are constantly being invented. It can be said that today chiropractic is a diverse collection of beliefs and practices under one term.

Palmer’s son, B. J. Palmer, had studied chiropractic under his father, graduating in 1902. When his father suddenly moved to Portland, Oregon, to open a new school, B.J. took over the Davenport school. Upon his return in 1904, D. D. tried to regain the control of the school from his son, only to fail. The best he could do was to go into partnership with his son, and he lost even that when he was jailed in 1906. After being released from the jail, D. D. found that his son had been busy with legal manoeuvres and had obtained the complete control of the school. B.J. would not even let his father enter the campus grounds.

Palmer, after being refused entry to the Davenport school, had travelled from state to state opening new, unsuccessful schools of chiropractic. He returned to Davenport in 1913, intending to lead the homecoming parade. What happened next is somewhat in dispute, since two versions exist. According to one version, B. J. had his father removed from the procession when he refused to ride in a car, according to another, B. J. struck D. D. with his car when D. D. refused to leave. D. D. died three months later in California, officially of typhoid, after having left instructions to sue B. J. and to bar him from D. D.’s funeral. The charge was dropped.

B. J. made chiropractic into a full commercial venture. The students of his schools were now taught business. The courses included Salesmanship, Personal Magnetism, Business Relations, Advertising, Selling the Patient and Keeping Yourself Sold. Even other “alternative medicine” practitioners were offended by the aggressive sales techniques now employed by chiropractors. This legacy is still visible in the modern business practices of chiropractors.

Despite continuing heavy opposition by medical profession, chiropractic became the largest “alternative” health business in America during the 1930’s and it has stayed in that position. In addition to medical opposition, chiropractic also has trouble with advances in scientific medicine and the new efficient drugs. In response, chiropractic schools have improved their curricula, which had been of very low quality, in some cases even any physiological training was absent.

 Claims of chiropractic

Starting with D. D. Palmer, as has been seen before, chiropractic has made sweeping claims about its therapeutic value. Modern claims of conditions that chiropractic can treat include ADHD, agitation, allergies, anxiety, arm pain, asthma, bloating, burping, chest pains, cluster headaches, colic and bed-wetting in babies and children, depression, dizziness/giddiness, ear infections, fatigue, fibromyalgia, foot and ankle issues, hand/finger pains, headaches, heartburn, hip and groin pain, indigestion, insomnia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, knee conditions affecting ligaments or cartilage, leg cramps, lower back pain with or without leg pain, menstrual and period pains and spasms, mid-back pain, migraines, nausea, neck pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, palpitations, restless legs, restlessness, rotator cuff issues, sciatica, scoliosis, shoulder pain, Tennis or Golfer’s Elbows, vertigo, visual disturbances and wind. Every single one of these modern claims has been taken from currently active chiropractors’ websites.

 Claims like these – only some of the claims have any scientific backing for them, of which more later – are the reason not only medical profession, but also some chiropractors are critical of unsubstantiated claims. The fragmentation that has been inherent in chiropractic since early days is surfacing in the issue of efficacy of chiropractic. Some chiropractors adhere to evidence-based guidelines in their claims, while others apply antiscientific ideas and make claims based on mistaken beliefs stemming from Palmer’s original claims.

Probably the sharpest chiropractor critic of the use of unsubstantiated claims by chiropractors has been Samuel Homola. He writes:

 A good chiropractor can do a lot to help you when you have mechanical-type back pain and other musculoskeletal problems. But until the chiropractic profession cleans up its act, and its colleges uniformly graduate properly limited chiropractors who specialize in neuromusculoskeletal problems, you’ll have to exercise caution and informed judgment when seeking chiropractic care.

 A recent review of chiropractors’ claims found that 95% of the 200 investigated chiropractor websites made unsubstantiated claims about at least one condition that has no scientific evidence that chiropractic is efficient for its treatment. This points to a huge problem with the trustworthiness of claims made by chiropractors and is a serious cause for concern for anyone considering having chiropractic treatment.

Chiropractic diagnostic methods

 As chiropractic deals in most part with treating the subluxations that are causing the patient’s condition, the chiropractic diagnostic methods deal with locating the subluxations. This is far from easy, as will become apparent, so there are hosts of different diagnostic methods. I will deal with only some of them, since dealing with every single one would demand a separate post.

 The easiest method – I have to admit, this is not practised much today – is just to take the symptoms and medical history of the patient, consult any of the chiropractic symptomalogy or treatment manuals and apply the prescribed treatment. This method, however, has a hidden pitfall: chiropractic texts disagree which area of the spine should be manipulated for a condition. For example, Chiropractic Principles and Technique states: “When a subluxation is produced in the lower dorsal or upper lumbar region of the vertebral column, no untoward effects may follow at once. But years later, perhaps, the individual develops typhoid fever.” But Chiropractic Diagnosis states that adjustment should be made in the “middle dorsal, lower dorsal, and upper lumbar area of the spine for typhoid fever.” Yes, I’m aware that these are old textbooks, but the situation has not changed since their publication.

 Most common method is to take the medical history, then examine the posture and inspect and palpate the spine, using motion palpation and nerve tracing, which are chiropractic techniques, together with tests for musculoskeletal function to identify vertebral subluxations. X-rays are often taken to exclude organic disease or injury. Some chiropractors are known to X-ray every single patient that passes their doors, whether X-raying is indicated or not.

Relatively early on, chiropractors came up with the idea of using diagnostic machines to help them to locate the subluxations. One of the first chiropractors to do so was B. J. Palmer. He introduced a diagnostic device called neurocalometer, invented by Dossa D. Evans, in 1924. It had two heat-detecting probes that were moved slowly down the spine. It was supposed to register whether points on either side of the spine had different temperatures. According to chiropractic theory, a subluxation-impinged nerve would be inflamed, thus generating heat, and the subluxation would register hotter than the rest of the spine. There is no scientific evidence for this claim.

‘Straight’ chiropractors were outraged. Palmer had long been regarded as their leader, and now he was introducing machinery to chiropractic, the very hallmark of ‘mixers’. Not only that, but he was not going to sell his neurocalometers, they were to be leased on very high fees: $1,000 advance payment and monthly instalments of $10 for a minimum of 10 years. The contract also stated that the leaser had to charge the patients a minimum of $10 per use. As a result, ¾ of Palmer’s students left the school and enrolment dropped to under 500. Many members of the faculty also left, opening a new school in Indianapolis, to which most of the former students of Palmer’s school moved. Those who actually had leased the gadget soon became dissatisfied and a number of lawsuits followed. The modern versions of this device are still marketed and are being used by many chiropractors.

 Applied kinesiology is used to identify internal problems, like weak organs, by testing muscle vitality. Muscles are tested manually for resistance. The theory behind this diagnostic practice is that every organ dysfunction is accompanied by a weakness in a specific corresponding muscle, called the viscerosomatic relationship. Double-blinded tests have shown that the test cannot distinguish between the test substance and a placebo and that applied kinesiology tests are not reproducible.

 Depending on the quality of the chiropractic school the practitioners have graduated from, their diagnostic skills may be far below of what would be required. This is a problem especially where chiropractic and chiropractic schools are not effectively regulated by mandatory registration, and has historically been an ongoing issue in chiropractic.

Hunting the wily subluxation

 The greatest problem chiropractic has is its basic premise, that diseases are caused by subluxations. Even the use of subluxation has been controversial from its very beginning, and today some chiropractors reject both the concept and the term. However, it is supported by other chiropractors.

So what is the subluxation in the chiropractic sense? The WHO defines it as:

 A lesion or dysfunction in a joint or motion segment in which alignment, movement integrity and/or physiological function are altered, although contact between joint surfaces remains intact. It is essentially a functional entity, which may influence biomechanical and neural integrity.

The ACC (The Association of Chiropractic Colleges) definition is:

A subluxation is a complex of functional and/or structural and/or pathological articular changes that compromise neural integrity and may influence organ system function and general health. A subluxation is evaluated, diagnosed, and managed through the use of chiropractic procedures based on the best available rational and empirical evidence.

Chiropractors have been trying to prove the existence of vertebral subluxations ever since D. D. Palmer first came up with the concept without any success. Some – usually ‘straight’ – chiropractors claim that subluxations show readily on an X-ray, others deny this. When chiropractors have been challenged to provide the X-ray images with the visible subluxations, they have refused. I wonder why.

Some chiropractors resort to trying to waffle the issue completely. A representative quote comes from Tedd Koren, DC:

The vertebral subluxation cannot be precisely defined because it is an abstraction, an intellectual construct used by chiropractors, chiropractic researchers, educators and others to explain the success of the chiropractic adjustment.

This is not a unique state of affairs, abstract entities populate many branches of science…

Subluxations, genes, gravity, the ego and life are all heuristic devices, “useful fictions” that are used to explain phenomenon that are far larger than our understanding. We use them as long as they work for us and discard or limit their application when they become unwieldy or unable to account for new observations…

Critics of chiropractic have incorrectly assumed that chiropractic is based on the theory or principle that vertebral subluxations cause “pinched” nerves that cause disease. They have it backwards. Chiropractic is based on the success of the spinal adjustment. The theory attempting to explain the success of the adjustment (nerve impingement, disease, subluxations) followed its clinical discovery.

This rather disingenuous attempt at explanation ignores completely what D. D. Palmer claimed:

About 95 per cent of diseases are due to vertebrae being racked out of alignment; the remainder is caused by sub-luxations of other joints. An example of the latter cause is the case of a sprained knee which a student has just relieved by one adjustment. Replacing the projecting portion of the knee which was impinging upon a nerve gave immediate relief.

Let’s face it, subluxations have never been detected, even chiropractors disagree whether they exist or not, and there has been not a single scientific shred of evidence for their existence. Once these are removed, what reason there is any longer for ‘straight’ chiropractic and the exaggerated claims I presented earlier?

It’s only fair that I will let chiropractors themselves have the last word on subluxations:

…there were no studies that demonstrated a satisfactory link of evidence to the chiropractic subluxation construct as per strength, consistency, specificity, temporal sequence, dose response, experimental evidence, biological plausibility, coherence, and analogy. Specifically, there were no studies that found subluxation to have a relative risk or odds ratio. No studies were found that demonstrated the subluxation to be consistently found in different people of gender or race, location or even circumstance. Subluxation was not found to be specifically linked to any one disease complex. Temporal sequence studies were not noted. The subluxation was not noted in any studies related to dose response. Animal based studies that were used to satisfy the experimental evidence were limited. There were no studies that offered a biological plausibility that would isolate subluxation as a causal factor in disease. There were no studies linking the subluxation as a coherent construct and supported by generally known facts about the natural history and biology of any disease. There were no studies found that suggested the subluxation as a causal agent similar to other factually demonstrated causal agents.

Dangers of chiropractic

 Chiropractic is relatively safe – with one major exception, and that is the cervical manipulation. This is done by the chiropractor rotating the head of the patient to rotate the spine. The extreme motion associated with this technique can cause the vertebral artery to stretch and tear its lining. A blood clot that forms over the injured area can dislodge and block a smaller artery that supplies the brain. This can cause stroke, which in some cases has resulted in death.  This is what happened to Pierrette Parisien:

 Parisien, a 36-year-old mother of two who lived in the Montérégie region southwest of Montreal, had receiving regular chiropractic care from the same practitioner for nine years before her death. She went for treatment in February 2006 after she developed headaches and dizziness from acute neck pain. Parisien visited a chiropractor three times that winter, with the third visit proving to be her last. She fell unconscious after treatment and slipped into a coma, dying two days later.

 Whatstheharm.net has more cases where chiropractic treatment has caused death or severe injury.

 The greater danger is reliance on questionable chiropractic claims and dubious diagnostic tests they perform.

In 2011, Beverly Yardley had attended the Functional Endocrinology Center in Denver, Colorado, for a lump on her neck. This center was run by Dr Credeur, a chiropractor. When she asked Dr Credeur about the lump, he told her, “Well it’s some kind of thyroid disorder probably,” and “We’ll get you on a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle”. Turns out it was Stage 2, B-cell lymphoma. This doctor performed diagnosis by glance, and that is definitely not proper practice. Reliance on such would have patients dying of misdiagnosed illnesses.

 The scientific evidence for chiropractic

There is high-quality evidence that chiropractic is effective for acute and chronic low-back pain, knee osteoarthritis (only as a part of other treatment regimes, not alone), and Tennis Elbow. The evidence is inconclusive or contraindicatory for all the other conditions chiropractors claim to treat.

 If you decide to visit a chiropractor for any of these conditions, there are still a few things to keep in mind.

 Make sure that the chiropractor you visit is a ‘mixer’ and not a ‘straight’. Better still, if they have a website, check that they claim to treat musculoskeletal conditions only.

 Avoid any chiropractor who relies on dubious diagnostic devices and techniques, such as the neurocalometer or applied kinesiology described earlier.

 Don’t let the chiropractor talk you into long series of treatments, and check how long similar physiotherapy treatment would last. On no account buy into the marketing hype that you need chiropractic treatments “for as long as you want to stay healthy”. This is an attempt to tempt you into having so-called maintenance treatments, which are of no known efficacy.

 And, finally, make sure whether there are treatments by physiotherapists that would have a similar result. Physiotherapists are registered, regulated and have gone through thorough medical training. Very often you will also find that their treatments come at a much lower price, and in the case of UK, where I reside, are free on your GP’s referral.

Crystal healing – pretty stones all in a row

Crystal healing is an alternative medicine technique that uses semi-precious stones and crystals as healing instruments. The crystals are placed on various parts of the body, often on chakra points, or around the body to create an energy matrix which is alleged to surround the patient with healing energy. One genius even goes as far as to claim that “all stones, crystals and gems have magnetic powers in varying degrees…”, which is patently untrue. The only mineral that exhibits strong magnetic properties is magnetite. It is possible, though, that magnetite is sometimes sold under the name of hematite, which is not magnetic, though it is an iron oxide.

Crystals have attracted humans since prehistory. This is not surprising, as naturally occurring crystals are very different from ordinary stones, and any polishing makes them even more attractive. Some varieties have been used as jewellery for at least 20,000-18,000 years as stone beads have been found in archeological excavations.

What about using crystals for healing, then? How far does it go back in history? If you read through some of the practitioners’ websites, you’ll get a load of taradiddle about Atlantis and Lemuria, ley lines and other claims that amount to a consignment of geriatric shoemakers. There is not a shred of evidence that any of these ever existed as New Agers like to portray them. The slightly more reality-based practitioners try to derive their practices from Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, but there is no evidence for that either, as we shall see.

The first historical mention of gemstones used in healing comes from the Ebers Papyrus, which is dated to circa 1550 BCE. However, the “blood stone of Elephantine” – most likely hematite – is ground up and cooked in olive oil and honey with d3rt – possibly carob or colocynth – and fed to the patient instead of being placed on him as a whole piece like the modern practitioners do. In fact, nowhere in the recipes and treatment prescriptions of the Ebers Papyrus, are the gemstones used in the modern way, they are all crushed and mixed into either potions or ointments.

Gemstone amulets were commonly worn by the Sumerians, Assyrians and Babylonians. This use, however, does not correspond to modern practices either, since they believed the disease was caused by an annoyed god. The amulets were worn to keep the god’s hand away, and not as healing stones.

The Roman writer, Pliny the elder, (23 CE – August 25, 79 CE) is the first ancient writer I have been able to find who makes a specific mention of a gemstone – amber – being worn as a cure instead of an amulet to ward off evil. Even in his other mentions of gemstones used in medicine, they are most commonly again crushed and mixed into potions and ointments.

The earliest mention of placing a crystal on a person to cure a condition comes from a 1609 book by Anselmus De Boot, Gemmarum et lapidum historia (quoted in George Kunz: The Curious Lore of Precious Stones). In it he states:

 That gems or stones, when applied to the body, exert an action upon it, is so well proven by the experience of many persons, that any one who doubts this must be called over-bold. We have proof of this power in the carnelian, the hematite, and the jasper, all of which when applied, check hemorrhage. … However, it is very necessary to observe that many virtues not possessed by gems are falsely ascribed to them. [This use of the stones is an example of sympathetic magic, since all of the mentioned stones are red in colour.]

However, the use of gems or stones in this way was rather limited. Most gemstones were still worn as amulets or talismans for protection or magical purposes or being ground up and fed to the patients.

I cannot trace modern crystal healing practices any further than late 20th century, and the first practitioner to use the modern ‘crystal layouts’ appears to have been one Katrina Raphaell, who in 1985 published her book Crystal Enlightenment. So much for the ancient origins of crystal healing.

Practitioners often place the crystals on chakra points, some claiming that this is an ancient practice. However, the oldest Indian text that can be considered a medical treatise, Atharvaveda, says nothing about either crystals or chakras. Nor are such practices mentioned in the Sushruta Samhita or Charaka Samhita, which are medical encyclopedias compiled in between 500 BCE and 500 CE, and are the foundational works of Ayurveda. Late 20th century seems to be the origin of this “ancient practice” once again.

Practitioners often claim that the alleged healing effect is due to the frequency the crystal resonates with. While it is perfectly true that some naturally occurring crystals produce piezoelectricity, not all crystals have this property. The crystals with piezoelectric qualities are berlinite, quartz, topaz and tourmaline. Any centrosymmetric crystals are not piezoelectric. Moreover, the crystals produce piezoelectricity only when mechanical stress is applied, so just plunking a piece of crystal on a person won’t do anything, even if it has piezoelectric qualities.

There is no scientific evidence that crystal healing has any real effect. In part, this is because crystal healing is so obviously pseudoscientific that not even NCCAM has bothered to do any research on it. Any effects that crystal healing may have can be attributed either to the placebo effect, or to the cognitive bias of the believers in crystal healing, who will remember only the positive results.

That magnetic bracelet on your wrist – does it do anything?

Magnetic therapy is hugely popular, grossing about $5 billion yearly world-wide. Most often static therapeutic magnets are encountered in pieces of jewellery, though everything possible where magnets can be placed is available. As the sale and advertisement of magnets is not restricted in any way and testimonies by celebrities on the alleged benefits they have gained from the use of therapeutic magnets are published widely, it is not surprising that many people may think they might be of therapeutic use.

Claims made by the sellers include magnets relieving pain from arthritis, back problems, frozen shoulder, gout, insomnia and migraine headaches. They are also claimed to improve circulation, increase blood oxygen, decrease deposition of cholesterol plaques in blood vessel walls, relax blood vessels through effects on cellular calcium channels, reduce edema or fluid retention, increase endorphins and muscle relaxation. And, of course, no “alternative” therapy would be complete without someone claiming it cures cancer.

Can magnets really do all this? The answer is no. Although hemoglobin does contain iron, it is slightly diamagnetic. Therapeutic magnets are much too weak to have any effect on blood, having a field strength of roughly 0.1-0.4 T (1,000-4,000 G). Even MRI scanner magnetic fields, which are much stronger than any piece of magnet used in magnetic therapy, 1-8 T (10,000-80,000 G), do not affect blood. Good thing too, or nobody would be able to survive a MRI scan as their bodies would explode.
Robert Park, a physics professor from University of Maryland, examined some therapeutic magnets in 1999. One pair he tested came from a $49.95 magnetic therapy kit. They were a little stronger and thicker than the common or garden variety fridge magnet but they failed to hold even ten sheets of 1 mm thick paper on a file cabinet. That means they were too weak to do more than barely penetrate the skin.

One theory behind the alleged magnetic effect on blood circulation the sellers often resort to relies on the Hall effect. According to this theory, the charged particles in blood in a magnetic field would move towards their respective poles. The movement of the particles would be resisted as the particles would be forced to move against their normal flow direction. This migration against resistance would produce heat, causing the veins to dilate. There is one problem with this theory: magnets generate no heat in the tissues. A study published in 2001 found no increase in the tissue temperatures when magnets were applied:

No meaningful thermal effect was observed with any treatment over time, and treatments did not differ from each other. We conclude that flexible therapeutic magnets were not effective for increasing skin or deep temperatures, contradicting one of the fundamental claims made by magnet distributors.

As for the rest of the claims, even the strongest of magnets are not able to influence non-ferrous materials. Cholesterol, C27H46O, does not contain any iron, so any magnetic therapy is unable to have any effect on it.

There have also been studies on the effects of the therapeutic magnets. A double-blinded study, published in 2002, on the effects of magnets on carpal tunnel pain had this to say:

Presenting symptoms including numbness, tingling, burning, and pain did not differ significantly between the 2 groups. There was significant pain reduction across the 45-minute period for both groups. However, test comparisons found no significant differences between the groups for beginning pain, pain at 15 minutes, pain at 30 minutes, or pain at 45 minutes. The use of a magnet for reducing pain attributed to carpal tunnel syndrome was no more effective than use of the placebo device.

A study on magnets for pain relief, published in 2007, concluded:

In conclusion, the evidence does not support the use of static magnets for pain relief, and such magnets therefore cannot be recommended as an effective treatment.

Another study, published in 2009, researched magnetic therapy for osteoarthritis and concluded:

Our results indicate that magnetic and copper bracelets are generally ineffective for managing pain, stiffness and physical function in osteoarthritis. Reported therapeutic benefits are most likely attributable to non-specific placebo effects.

The only effect the so-called therapeutic magnets can have is the placebo effect. While the magnets themselves are harmless – unless their settings contain allergenic materials like nickel in the plating of the bracelet or another piece of jewellery – reliance on them can delay diagnosis as pains and aches can be symptoms of a serious condition.

If, despite all this, you wish to invest in magnetic therapy, my advice would be to buy the cheapest one available. If nothing else, doing so will help to ease the pain felt in the wallet.

Burning stupid quotes collection

All of these quotes come from just one person, who obviously buys into anything, no matter how flawed, as long as it is “alternative” – including mutually exclusive claims.

The quotes have not been edited in any way except to remove any references to other people than me and clean up some profanity.

“You get too caught up in the science steelclaws, needing to know why it works to verify that it does work. If something works, it works – no scientific explanation necessary. This is the way of the user, who tries things to see if they work, don’t need to know the scientific details. After all if it doesn’t work, no scientific evidence is any good, and if it does, no scientific evidence is necessary.”

“Well, try and follow my drift genius, if you take hormones to put the calcium back into the bones, then it stands to reason that if the body needs calcium it draws hormones from the bones.
Logical yes? (ie allopathic *** logic)”

“Now where did I read that hereditary health problems were 5% genetic and 95% diet?”

“Well guess what, I don’t care if I don’t get the details right.”

“But bacteria and germs are different, aren’t they? Polio, diptheria and measles are germs, not bacteria.”

“We don’t know much about gravity ***. For instance, if the earth is spinning you would think everybody and everything would fly off, but it doesn’t. This is just one of those anomalies that we take for granted.”

“OK, within the earth are huge pools of water that slowly fill up to a point then overflow. when they overflow they often come in contact with sulphurous compounds that when united with water, they become volatile, expand and look for a route of excape. When they escape they heat up surrounding rocks and the force blows molten rock and lava out of the crevice.”

“Make that base compounds of unknown type that react with water.”

“Apparently the water causes the chemicals to become volatile and expand, rushing through some cavernous cracks and moving rocks as it goes, causing friction and heat. Whatever.”

“I can imagine how there could be bumps and mountain building from an expanding earth. ie if an expansion caused a crack and magma was pushed up through it. You lot need to read more widely, not just your geology mags and what fits in with  preconceived theories either.”

“Physics is dumbed down because it suppresses all ideas of free energy and teaches the dumbed down version of the 2nd law of thermodynamics which says that energy can only come from fossil fuels.”

“There are certain concepts such as relativism and the 2nd law of thermodynamics which are wrong, deliberately falsified to keep people unaware of certain discoveries.”

“For one thing the laws of thermodynamics and electrodynamics are full of holes and need a complete overhaul, which is recognised by many advanced physicists.”

“That’s right, the law of physics has been “cooked”, like every facet of our society it is manipulated so the power elite can gain total control. Not only has free energy been suppressed since Tesla discovered it, but the laws of physics are false.”

“Lt Col Tom Bearden, physics trained person in the US Navy (probably retired) says that there is weather modification going on for years using scalar electronic devices invented by Tesla back 100 years ago. So whether weather modification is caused by HAARP or other means, such as chemtrails or scalar electronics, how they do it is secondary to the fact that its going on.”

“Since I don’t understand physics its a matter of finding somebody who supposedly does, and who’s opinions I can relate to in other ways.”

So you admit you have a cat then and your cat drinks alcohol?”

“If something doesn’t make sense, its crap. If something is true the common people will recognise it.”

“Science should never put itself higher than commonsense.”

“I’ve heard about The Bay of Pigs fiasco, it was some sort of psyop the US was committing against Cuba – I forget the details.”

“Yes, the term “quack” was invented by AMA’s fishbein, way back in 1930 when he first came up with his strategy to eliminate the competition.”

“You wouldn’t be able to see everything that was in blood sts puzzle over everything in the blood. They can’t tell viruses, fungii and bacteria from each other in some instances, letalone little bits of stuff floating around. You wouldn’t know what happens inside a cell because they are too small and mysterious to study.”

“Its common knowledge that cancer spreads when they cut people open.”

“I couldn’t give a flying f*ck about scientific evidence. I can’t even read the f*cking crap on pubmed. its not for the everyday person.”

“Where do I find these studies …pubmed? Sorry I don’t know how to use it …either how to put in the search terms or read the results.”

“True, if you can’t explain your points in basic english they’re probably lies.”

“There’s nothing unscientific about cellsalts, they’ve been a regular part of naturapathy and alternative medicine for 150 years.”

“Pure speculation is my evidence.”

“There is no evidence that there is no evidence.”

“Over my head *** — I haven’t done chemistry. How I usually proceed is to try a product and see if it works. I just assume that a manufacturer wants repeat sales and understands the chemistry behind their product. Its all done for me ***, by the manufacturer.”

“I have read most of the links I gave, and while I don’t understand the science behind them, am assured that other more scientific types have thought of all the objections.”

“I don’t think the experts DO understand the nature of gravity, OR anything much else concerning the makeup of the earth / planets or how they’re made or rules that govern anything more than measurement and weight.”

“Let’s just say that while I don’t know much, the “experts” and the “reliable sources” don’t know much either.”

“***, they’re are people who are expert in reading historical documents, they’re called archaelogists.”

“Were there past ice ages? They say things but they mightn’t be true and further, there is a hell of a lot of things about the history of planet earth which are kept from people, like previous civilisations which were at least as advanced as ours. Maybe they did something to set off ice ages by violating some laws.”

“My world is where I think for myself and only accept that which I understand and which I can see a cause and effect relationship.”

“Placebo is a word only used by allopathic medicine to explain any phenomena that defies their science.”

“I saw a documentary of Carl Sagan and he said that there was a high mathematical probability of life existing on other planets other than earth. There are other parts of the universe that are billions of years older than earth and there is no reason to believe they wouldn’t have some form of life on them. Also it is logical to presume that there are more highly advanced beings in the universe than earthlings. Therefore, it naturally follows that iridology is reasonable diagnostic tool.”

“The body doesn’t use enzymes to alkalise your food – it uses alkalising minerals.”

“But surely the pancreas doesn’t manufacture bicarbonate out of thin air. It would need to be supplied in the diet in the first place.”

“If the earth isn’t hollow ***, where did the aztecs take all the gold when they disappeared into the mountain and were never seen again?”

“It seems that outbreaks of disease occur when there isn’t proper sanitation and proper standards of hygiene.”

“Vaccination has caused many epidemics.”

“I heard that Margaret Thatcher had something to do with fluoridation of Ireland’s water supply.”

“But on the other hand, sodium fluoride did originate as a mind control drug used in nazi germany to keep inmates docile and easy to control. And there are no actual studies that show its beneficial effect on tooth decay.”

“You don’t believe that the pharmaceutical business with disease is an offshoot of nazi germany’s IG Farben? “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink” I can show you all the information in the world, but you will continue to deny, deny, deny.”

“I’ve heard that TB is associated with calcium deficiency. Malaria is associated with sodium sulphate deficiency.”

“I’m quite confident I could get rid of malaria with cellsalts – well not eliminate once and for all, but eliminate the symptoms on an ongoing basis. The treatment would need to be kept up continually..”

“I have also heard that some plugs in the arteries are caused by lack of vitamin C, ie a type of scurvy.”

Also for stinky urine. When you go through the city sometimes when you walk down an alley you can smell stinky urine – this is potassium deficiency.”

“I have an idea that many of them are joined together by some tunnels that travel at very fast speeds.”

“Even during plages and outbreak of disease homeopathic practitioners have had more success than allopaths.”

“And there is an interesting story on how homeopathy used to be the standard until rockefeller made his moves, and that is what has given modern medicine its respectability.”

“Well I don’t know about the actual figures, but some sources say they are pretty awful. also some of the treatments are more deadly than the actual cancer, so if the person doesn’t die from cancer they die from the chemo.”

“We know the traditional japanese don’t get cancer – I don’t know about other countries.”

“Everybody knows that no plane hit the pentagon and the supposed muslim highjackers all had their identities stolen and were alive and living in other countries at the time.”

“Autism is an auto-immune disease. There is no autism in the amish population or the home schooled that aren’t vaccinated.”

“Yes, bacteria are both the cause and the result of toxins.”

“Both – firstly, everybody has germs, bacteria, microbes in their bodies which then mutate when the conditions are right. Remember that germs are nature’s undertakers and return what is dead or dying back to the soil. But also they excrete toxins, so it is a cycle.”

“Antibiotics get rid of the bacteria? I think that the bacteria are only there in the first place because the person has putrefying matter in their bloodstream.”

“In reality, the soil theory is the only game in town. The germ theory is the downhill slide to chronic ill-health.”

“The only reason the germ theory gained prominence was due to backing of industry barons way back in the 1800s. They saw a way to make money from it but not from the soil theory where a pure bloodstream kept a person healthy. Can’t sell that to anybody so they went with the germ theory and all their poisons to oppose symptoms. ie antibiotics to kill bacteria, fungicides to kill fungus, pesticides to kill parasites etc.”

“I don’t know what you think is so bloody marvellous about discovering it was a bacteria that caused stomach ulcers, when the cure is merely to correct the diet regardless of the cause.”

Perhaps estrogen is a pharmaceutical invention designed to sell more drugs.”

“Why do you think old people end up with osteoporosis? Its because their body has to borrow from the bones to detoxify and de-acidify when the diet is faulty.”

“Maybe if medical science knew a bit more about nutrition, people wouldn’t get diabetes in the first place.”

“I know nothing about diabetes so I can’t comment.”

Not that I know what all these diseases are and whether they are acquired, transmitted or hereditary – but for whatever is left over I’d say they were related to deficiency symptoms. So you just put your foot in it there … “

“If I swallow a cupful of sand, does that treat my silica deficiencies? I tried taking sand once, but it didn’t alleviate any silica deficiencies. I only took a little bit to see if it did anything, but it didn’t.”

People are underweight due to not enough minerals, they cannot digest their food properly without adequate minerals.”

“People who contract lice are calcium deficient for starters, and then they have lots of acid in their bodies which is sodium (bicarb) and potassium (cream of tartar) mainly to treat (taken orally to neutralise acid in the body).”

“Did you know that fruit and vegetables aren’t very good for people? This is because shortly after eating them, they are expelled out the other end, which proves that the body can’t make use of them.”

“Silica and silicon seem to be the same mineral from what I can tell – sometimes it is called one and sometimes another. I can’t tell the difference.”

“Plate Tectonics is easily falsified. It fails in its essential logic …in its doublethink …and in the consensus that drives it”

“Tesla was responsible for many great discoveries, including radio, television, fluorescent and neon lighting, helicopters, lasers, particle beams and alternating current.”

“Remedies that can’t be patented make no money for drug companies.”

“Communism was invented by the illuminati to cause “order out of chaos”.”

“You have heard haven’t you that AIDS is a secret eugenics weapon manufactured in the US? No? Boyd Graves found the flowchart that shows how it was derived from sheep visna virus in a laboratory in the US. There is a cure too, but they’re keeping it under wraps.”

“When there is so much speculation about alien or extraterrestrial life, why the heck would you make up a page of pure nonsense about catching and cooking them? You have cast yourself as a flippant, light weight researcher on a topic that a lot of people take quite seriously, and not without reason.”

“Well no I don’t need to provide evidence to support a claim that cellsalts work. You need to provide evidence that your science hasn’t been manipulated.”

“It takes me a long time to figure out what I know …many years in some cases.”

“My sources are always valid. What is more valid than the word and experience of the people?”

“Anecdotal evidence can be more reliable than scientific studies.”

“Don’t knock astrology. If its done competently it can be very revealing.”

“I don’t need to know the breakdown chains to know when I am calcium deficient idiot.”

“If the earth is hollow the inside space just gets bigger. Think about it.”

“There are many astrological and meteorological scientists around the world who say there is not one shred of scientific evidence to support global warming.”

“If you watch the spook shows, you will see that manipulating perceptions is a fine art.”

“No ***, there is often counter-evidence so your “evidence” becomes non sequitur, once again only stopping when you reach the conclusion that suits your establishment pawn mindset.”

“However, science has come a long way since then, and the Russian theory of abiotic oil is backed up with lots of scientific literature, it is no longer a theory but established fact.”

“IOW he just goes along with things and doesn’t realise his option to be part of the evolving process of evolution to redefine life, right?”

“Sorry steelclaws, it has already been established that autism is due to environmental factors, not genetics.”

“I’m not going to concede that the effect of homeopathy is imaginery. What I will concede is that science has been manipulated to rule out the aether theory, and this is one thing we don’t know much about. It is one theory that homeopathy works by the spirit of the substance rather than the material, meaning that every living or even animate objects have spirit behind it. The effects that homeopathy produces then act on the spirit at a deep level rather than the physical body and can bring about changes in the psyche as well as the spirit. The rules of how the aether works haven’t been worked out and there maybe certain things which preclude it from working such as influence of skeptics or other.”

“Sorry, you’ve lost me. What is iron lung for?”

“No, I can’t exactly explain what toxemia is – partly I am joining the dots between things I know and things I don’t.”

“That was just an example of how two things can be mutually exclusive yet not.”

“But you don’t need proof that underground lakes exist. Why wouldn’t they? I read about it in a book on the hollow earth theory.”

“After all if this technology was widely known it would ruin the megalithic power mongers who run the planet.”

“As I said, all science begins with hypotheses. To disallow any hypotheses is anti-democratic.”

“Evolve means to break down, to degenerate …only a moron would think it meant anything else.”

“If there was a cheap solution for cancer that couldn’t be patented, they would go out of business.”

“Personally, I think that there should be more commonsense and less statistical analysis.”

“Inside the atoms are prions which are little electrical charges things that bounce around, really forms of energy of some sort.”

“Since I don’t understand chemistry your response is meaningless.”

“Hey mate. If I recommend a textbook on a topic, does that mean I understand everything in it? What is this, the inquisition or something?”

“I don’t know much about the mechanism of cancer, just what I read in altie websites, that they become aerobic ie the cells begin to live without oxygen.”

“I would go so far as to say that most blokes are only capable of groupthink. From my experience working with blokes I would say they are poor simple bastards, who are incapable of thinking for themselves and just go along with the system, and are incapable of thinking about women any other way except as sex objects.”

“The white people are the only ones with enough brains to understand that the world is way past being overpopulated.”

“No, I listen to no-one unless it fits in with what I know.”

“I read stuff from any source and will get quotes from anywhere. The exception is skeptics and anti-alternative health sources.”

“That’s true, I generally don’t read anything that disagrees with my views.”

“You both take pharmaceutical drugs, so your opinions don’t count.”

“I am the person who invented logic and reasoning.”

And since I don’t believe in the pharmaceutical take on things, my information is superior in many ways to these “experts”.

“I do know better than the doctors on some things.”

“You may be an INTJ but I bet you weren’t born on the “Day of the Problem Solver” which is my birthday. So you see it is in my psychological profile. Also it says that people born on this day are experts in matters of health – so that is in my profile as well.”

“I have lost interest in communicating my hard fought theories to other lesser beings.”

“Yes, I mightn’t have scientific qualifications but already, without having any, I have figured out so many cures for diseases that are supposedly incurable.”

“I make more sense than anybody in this goddam group.”

“And I’m only a logic thinking person, but mind you I have been on cellsalts for many years which may have helped to detoxify my brain to an extent.”

“Please read the evidence I give and do not question the evidence.”

“I will decide for myself what is approved and what isn’t.”

“That’s not true. I have re-discovered the pure blood vs toxemia theory.”

“We all know that the illuminati / new world order wants to dumb down the  population and thus make them easier to feed nonsense without it being detected. Any treatment / protocol that causes loss of cognitive abilities the illuminati are the first suspects, whether it be vaccines that cause autism or fluoride that causes docility.”

“Dumbed-down more refers to people who get an education without realising the information has been doctored to exclude certain ideas the illuminati want to keep to themselves.”

“Conventional medicine has it all wrong, which is a plan by the evil controllers to rort, pollute, desecrate and destroy anything they can get their hands on. Pasteur was one of their men and has mislead medicine for the last 150 years.”

“Is global warming really happening? This is what I am saying, that it really isn’t happening but is being used as a mantra for public consumption to explain away weather abnormalities which are really CLANDESTINE WEATHER MODIFICATION. They can cause drought, ruin crops, cold snaps to destroy stone fruit crops, hurricanes to destroy banana plantations etc.”

“So-called incurable disease as asthma I have the cure, but I will not give it away to my enemies. I have worked so hard to find these cures and I wouldn’t want to cure anybody who I deem to be my enemy.”

“The only evidence that would make me think the earth WASN’T hollow, would be if all the coverups and suppression of inventions stopped — but that’s not likely to happen in a hurry.”

“There would obviously have to be a conspiracy about geology because there’s one for everything else.”

“The people with a vested interest in maintaining the molten iron core of the earth, are the ones who control the teaching of science.”

“The US government isn’t what you think it is. Back in 1871 there was a legal manouvre whereby a corporation called “THE UNITED STATES” was formed in Columbia. Somehow this corporation took over the US and the original US and works to further its own interests rather than those of the people.”

“Free energy is a suppressed technology. There are patents for free energy devices that don’t rely on fossil fuels, wind power or solar power. Now, if these free energy devices are suppressed so effectively, what makes you think that conventional medicine is right?”

“The reason some alternative remedies are dropped isn’t because they don’t work, but rather they don’t fit the mindset of the ruling elite. Anything that challenges their supremacy is a threat and put down. Why would you assume that because therapies are dropped because they don’t work?”

“The reason no evidence that homeopathy works has never been produced is probably because the technology is classified for reasons of national security.”

“That’s not right. Marxism is communism and Islam is a religion. What is really going on is that the illuminati want to start WWIII, a course which was worked out in the 1800s. There was to be three world wars, the object of which was to make people so sick of war they would submit to one world rulership (under the UN).”

“Yes, all research all rigged. Researchers are only ALLOWED to research along certain lines, and no cure will be permitted if it doesn’t help pharmaceutical profits.”

“But Winston Churchill was an illuminati pawn who encouraged the bombing of London and escalation of WWII.”

“Other lies are that there is no such thing as free energy, and another lie is that nuclear reactors produce waste that doesn’t break down for thousands of years. The technology has proceeded to where any waste is broken down in a very short time, maybe weeks but of course this is kept from the public.”

“I’m also thinking of doctors who are derided and harrassed for not following the company line and using alterntive remedies. Such people as Hulda Clarke, Royal Rife and Reich for starters, but there are plenty of others.”

“I only know what I read from other websites about vaccinations. And you lot only know what you’ve been told by “reliable sources”.”

“oh and anybody who doesn’t believe in homeopathy is mentally defective / biased / a product of preconceived ideas.”

“Well yes, I have my theories and I do look for evidence to fit in with them, and I find it.”

“I realised it was actually much easier to think in conspiracy terms than continually try to rationalise why nothing ever added up and to go along with all the crap the public are fed, by “experts” and “reliable sources”.”

“If I have to read things like the organon I can, but why bother when there are so many books and articles available from people who have been there, done that?”

“If the orthopaths believe it, it is good enough for me.”

“It seems the little prick has no idea of proper decorrum.”

“Homeopathy is what is known as a vibrational remedy. When the solution is shaken it separates the spirit from the substance and it is the spirit that becomes the active ingredient.”

“The rules of how the aether works haven’t been worked out and there maybe certain things which preclude it from working such as influence of skeptics or other.”

“Maybe James Randi knows about the electromagnetic ability (No.1 above) to neutralise homeopathy, and passed some sort of magnet over the samples in the homeopathy experiment.”

“I think it is obvious that either a) James Randi’s negative attitude changed the results, or b) he did something to interfere with the outcome as James Randi is a magician who would be aware of any tricks of the trade to neutralise a positive result.”

“Note in the following all the homeopathic studies work EXCEPT where james randi is present.”

“You make your own reality. What you concentrate on you bring into being.”

“Here is an interesting link I’ve found about how mining and taking of petroleum products and so forth from the earth is responsible for much earth upheavals and so forth, and is against the lawful treatment of a planet.. It derived from communications a chap called Billy Meier had with extraterrestrials.”

“And you ***, spend so much time following the Little Pebble case and why for Pete’s sake. So he conned a few people, so what? People get conned every day over different things. And the parents of the girls should have figured it out to some extent, why aren’t you down on them? Even the girls themselves between them perhaps could have figured it out. And what real harm was done, so Little Pebble seduced a girl or two. I can’t understand your obsession with the case.”

“If a person is prepared to pay such high prices they deserve to be ripped off.”

“Nobody listens to me, nobody gives me the benefit of the doubt – all allopaths trained in pharmaceutical medicine.”

“You debunk a lot, but don’t say what you believe in. Its ok to knock stuff but you’ve also got to have some ideals or beliefs of some sort.”

“Science doesn’t have a problem but scientism does ie consensus science which is a type of clayton’s science, the science you’re having when you’re not having real science.”

“They recruit likely students out of university and do mind control on them somehow, some sort of suggestions and objectives they are to follow. Don’t ever remember that happening? No, they would probably have removed the event/s from your memory.”

Scientology as Alternative Medicine

When the name Scientology is mentioned, most people do not think of it in connection of alternative medicine, most think it’s some kind of a cult. They’re not incorrect, but interestingly enough, Scientology has a long history of trying to be a form of alternative medicine.

Scientology – or Dianetics, as it was first called – was founded in the early 1950’s by L. Ron Hubbard, a successful pulp science fiction writer. Astounding Science Fiction ran a hugely popular article of Dianetics by reader demand, and this was soon followed by the publication of L. Ron Hubbard’s book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. The book was a runaway bestseller, and Dianetic parties cropped up all over USA, with people trying the methods described in the book on each other.

Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health already makes claims that take it into the realm of alternative medicine:

Arthritis, dermatitis, allergies, asthma, some coronary difficulties, eye trouble, bursitis, ulcers, sinusitis, etc. form a very small section of the psycho-somatic catalogue. Bizarre aches and pains in various portions of the body are generally psycho-somatic. Migraine headaches are psycho-somatic and, with the others, are uniformly cured by dianetic therapy. (And the word cured is used in its fullest sense.)
Just how many physical errors are psycho-somatic depends upon how many conditions the body can generate out of the factors in the engrams. For example, the common cold has been found to be psycho-somatic. Clears do not get colds. Just what, if any, part the virus plays in the common cold is not known, but it is known that when engrams about colds are lifted, no further colds appear — which is a laboratory fact not so far contradicted by 270 cases. The common cold comes about, usually, from an engram which suggests it and which is confirmed by actual mucus present in another engram. A number of germ diseases are predisposed and perpetuated by engrams. Tuberculosis is one.
Dianetics, pp. 64-65

Hubbard clearly had – even by the 1950’s standards – a rather faulty understanding of what is a psychosomatic disease and what is not. A rather famous case was that of John Campbell, the editor of Astounding Science Fiction. He had chronic sinusitis, and had undergone auditing (Scientology version of psychotherapy, where the auditee is holding tin cans attached to the E-Meter, a primitive galvanic skin reaction meter – in other words, a lie detector). Campbell resigned from the Dianetic Foundation in March 1951, complete with his sinusitis.

Another early member of the Dianetic Foundation was Dr Joseph Augustus Winter. He really was a medical doctor, and very enthusiastic about Dianetics. That enthusiasm soon vanished. Hubbard was running what was known as the Guk program. According to Dr Winter, Guk was a “haphazard mixture of vitamins and glutamic acid, which was taken in huge doses in the belief that it made the patient ‘run better.’ There were no adequate controls set up for this experiment, and it was a dismal, expensive failure.” Winter resigned from the Dianetics Research Foundation in October 1950. This shows an early interest in vitamins by Hubbard, and its failure did not deter him one bit.

Hubbard had a keen interest also in radiation, which was a relatively common concern during the 1950’s. He published a book on the topic, All About Radiation, in 1957. Among other misconceptions, the book makes the claims that radiation can be cleaned from the body and even cancer cured by courses of vitamins. The book gives a formula for a vitamin mixture named Dianazene, for which the following claims are made:

Dianazene runs out radiation — or what appears to be radiation. It also proofs a person up against radiation in some degree. I have seen it run out skin cancer. A man who didn’t have much liability to skin cancer (only had a few moles) took Dianazene. His whole jaw turned into a raw mass of cancer. He kept on taking Dianazene and it disappeared after a while. I was looking at a case of cancer that might have happened.
There is another instance of somebody who had a little bit of colitis which worried him slightly from time to time. After taking Dianazene he started to bleed from the intestines. He kept on taking this formula and came out without colitis. He may have been facing an eventual colitis of a fatal nature — hemorrhages.
The whole point in taking Dianazene is to keep taking it until bad effects vanish.
All About Radiation, pp. 123-124

The authorities took a rather dim view on such claims, and in 1958 the FDA seized 21,000 Dianazene tablets, which were marketed by a Scientology company, the Distribution Center. The FDA destroyed the tablets because the labels claimed they were a preventative and treatment for radiation sickness. Scientologists still sell this book as authoritative and obviously believe that huge doses of niacin will protect them from radiation in case of a nuclear war.

In 1979 Hubbard established the “Sweat Program”, where the participant had large doses of vitamins, a teaspoon of salt and spent at least an hour a day jogging in a rubberised suit. This was designed to remove any traces of LSD from the body based on the rather worthless ‘detox’ idea – a questionable claim, to say the least, since LSD is water-soluble and is not stored long-term anywhere in the body. Some people spent months on this program.
This program was revised in 1990 and reintroduced as “Purification Rundown” in the book Clear Body, Clear Mind, which, as it was published after Hubbard’s death, consists largely of materials written during the 1960’s. It once again consists of taking megadoses of vitamins, especially niacin, which starts at 100 mg and increases to 5,000 mg over the course. At this level it can cause – and has caused – irreversible liver damage or death. The medically recommended level is about 15 mg. The course also involves long periods spent in a sauna, exercise, drinking a compound of calcium gluconate, magnesium carbonate and vinegar mixed with water, and intake of blended vegetable oils. The belief behind these practices is that the person will sweat out the toxins and replace the oils in the body fat by vegetable oil. Every new member of the Church has to go through this program, as it is claimed to remove from the body all the drugs they’ve ever taken, legal or illegal. This program is also used in the Scientology front Narconon in an attempt to cure drug addicts from their addictions. Needless to say, just like every other “detox” program, there is not a shred of evidence that any of the above will have the slightest beneficial effect – apart from exercise – and the potential of irreversible harm is considerable.

A rather bizarre practice in Scientology is the use of the so-called “Assists”. The commonest of these is the Touch Assist, which consists of a Scientologist repeatedly touching an injured person near the injury while calling the person’s attention to the touch. This practice is based on the Scientology belief that all physical illnesses are caused by a lack of communication with the injured or ill body part.
Contact Assist consists of putting an injured body part precisely on the same place where it was injured. Scientologists believe this has some kind of therapeutic effect.
Nerve Assist consists of a Scientologist stroking a person along the spine, around the torso and down the limbs. Scientologists believe that standing waves of energy can form in the nerves and cause pain, so this Assist is designed to dissipate the standing wave. Unfortunately for them, no scientific evidence exists that such waves are ever present in the spinal cord.
Then comes the Unconscious Person Assist. For this I have to explain a bit of the Scientology beliefs. Scientology believes that even an unconscious person’s subconscious mind and the person’s Thetan (immortal spiritual being, Scientology equivalent of ‘soul’) can be aware and think. This Assist consist of placing the unconscious person’s hand on various objects and commanding them to feel the object. For some reason, the Church of Scientology has not published any numbers of the unconscious or comatose – yes, they use this process on people in coma as well – persons they have been able to bring to consciousness.
Locational Processing Assist consists of the Scientologist pointing to various objects and asking the subject to acknowledge them. The idea is to reorient the person’s attention from any pain in their body and into the environment. Scientology claims this process is an antidote to being drunk. I’m not about to try it out the next time I visit the pub on any of the patrons who may have overindulged – I have this strange aversion to ending up in a fight.

Scientology apparently can’t make up its mind of what exactly it is supposed to be. It began life as a self-help movement, was soon given the trappings of a religion and has been dabbling with different healing methods, both by auditing and less ephemeral methods for a long time.
What is worrying is that Scientologists have to take everything written by Hubbard as absolutely factual and inerrant, and such absolute reliance on what is provably incorrect health advice can be very dangerous. For just one example, a 25-year-old Oregonian man, Christopher Arbuckle, died of liver failure while undergoing the “Purification Rundown”. Since overdoses of niacin are known to cause liver damage, as explained before, there is no doubt in my mind that this contributed to his death. Whatstheharm.net has many more examples of harm caused by adherence to Scientology.