What the measles debacle teaches us about the rest of alternative health

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The anti-vax movement is the paradigmatic “alternative” health movement. It is one of the oldest, and largest; it seduced millions of parents, co-opted the mainstream media for a time, made fortunes for celebrity quacks, and … it was always utterly, totally, spectacularly wrong.

The lessons from this debacle go far beyond anti-vaccination advocacy and strike at the heart of the multi-million dollar industry of alternative health.

All of alternative health, from homeopathy to chiropractic, from reiki to cranio-sacral therapy, from homebirth to lotus birth, from GMO hysteria to essential oils, and all the myriad of other alternative “therapies” are all as intellectually bankrupt as anti-vaccine advocacy, and all for the same reasons.

Like anti-vax, they have nothing to do with science. They’re not based on science; they ignore existing scientific evidence, and they make up their own “evidence” that they disseminate through websites, books and message boards.

Like anti-vax, they are promoted by industry shills (the industry of alternative medicine) who profit by fooling average people into parting with their hard earned money.

Like anti-vax they appeal not to the intellect, but the ego, constantly praising and affirming the superiority of believers who are so much better than the “sheeple” who consult experts and follow their advice.

Like anti-vax, they appeal to the desire to defy authority. Oncologist says you need chemotherapy? Well, you’ll show him and use herbs and supplements instead! Obstetrician says that a C-section will decrease the risk that your baby will die during labor? Well, you’ll show her and have your breech baby at home attended by a pretend “midwife” and if that baby dies, it wasn’t meant to live. Pediatrician says that there is little you can do for your baby’s colic? Well, you’ll show him and get your baby “adjusted” by a cranio-sacral therapist to treat the infant’s traumatic birth “memories.”

Like anti-vax, alternative health is about denial. Sure, other people can get cancer, but not you. Other people could lose a baby during childbirth, but not you. Other people might die, but not you.

Like anti-vax, anyone can be an expert. No need to feel inferior to or intimidated by a doctor. You can boast that you are an expert in your own health.

Like anti-vax, alternative health privileges intuition over rationality. Okay, you may not have much of that “book learning” and you may not be able to construct a logical argument even if your life depended on it (and it might), but your intuition is just as good as anyone else’s, regardless of how much more education they have than you.

Ultimately, all of alternative health, like anti-vax advocacy, is a form of ego massage. It does nothing to improve your health, but does a lot to improve your sense of self-worth.

Unfortunately, though, all of alternative health will ultimately come up against reality:

Just as measles exists whether you acknowledge it or not, alternative health is quackery whether you recognize it or not.

Will alternative health believers learn anything from the measles epidemic that has shown them to be utterly, spectacularly wrong?

I doubt it. That would take insight, something that is in nearly as short supply among alternative health believers, as scientific education and understanding.

  • anh

    I just had a thought. anti-vaxxers are terrified of “toxins” in vaccines, and when you explain to them that the “toxins” are in such quantities it’s almost impossible to measure it doesn’t assuage their fears or change their minds. Maybe that’s because so many of them believe in homeopathy so they think the power of the “toxins” increases as their quantity decreases. Completely assbackwards, but maybe that’s why their minds never change

    • Daleth

      Good point. It may be helpful to tell them that the amount of X “toxin” is also found in (insert healthy food item here). For instance, I saw a FB meme to the effect that a single pear–including organic pears–contains as much formaldehyde as 100 vaccines.

      • anh

        then they just say that “You eat pears, you don’t inject them!” or “but that’s naturally occuring! the kind of vaccines is synthetic and we process synthetic differently”
        sigh

      • Sullivan ThePoop

        All you should really have to tell them is we are talking about 0.5mL of fluid. There are very few real poisons that if added to 0.5mL of fluid containing other things could actually poison someone.

      • Nick Sanders

        But nobody should be eating pears anyway, they’re disgusting.

  • Stacy48918

    Wow, heard a terrifying stat on the OnPoint show: http://onpoint.wbur.org/2015/02/09/measles-vaccines-california-debate-policy

    Measles kills 2-3/1000. We have had 100 cases already in one month of 2015. If we continue at that rate (~1200 cases), we may see children DIE from measles in 2015. 🙁

    • Young CC Prof

      Yes.

      The fact that a large number of exposures have occurred in daycares and medical facilities only increases the risk, because infants and people with impaired immune systems are at higher risk of complications.

      • Stacy48918

        Then Rosanna would have a case to add to her chart. @@

      • Sullivan ThePoop

        True, that is why the 1989-1991 measles outbreak had such a high mortality rate.

  • attitude devant

    Rosanna’s still here? She reminds me of that sequence in Pirates of Penzance where the police force is setting out to ambush the pirates (“Go ye heroes, go to Glory! Though ye die in combat gory!”). Only they don’t go. For like five choruses, they keep saying they’re going…..and don’t go…and finally the pirates ambush THEM.

    • anh

      “Ah but ye don’t go!!”
      I was in that show in 2005 🙂

  • Rosanna

    http://www.aimintegrativemedicine.com/blog/measles-matters – written by a board certified pediatrician, not a holistic quack.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      A pediatrician peddling a vaccine/autism connection?

      • yugaya

        This local MD-nutso of mine even peddles MMS as cure for autism that is caused by vaccines. She also claims that ALS is caused by worms digging tunnels through bones and inhabiting the brain.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_w7n1P7wLs

        • Alcharisi

          …my brain hurts after reading that.

          • Kq

            It’s probably the worms in your brain.

          • yugaya

            Don’t scratch, drink diluted bleach and remember to thank your holistic practitioner! In no time you’ll be perfect!!!!

            (or dead)

          • Nick Sanders

            Drink it? I thought they used it as an enema.

          • yugaya
          • Nick Sanders

            They are aware that all those memes about drinking bleach to remove the genes for stupidity were trolling, right? Right?

          • yugaya

            I…to be honest…I’m no longer sure that is the case. Every time I think I’ve come up with a good quack parody parable I end up discovering that someone out there does that stuff for real.

          • Stacy48918

            OMG yes.

      • Stacy48918

        My former dentist did. Quack.

    • Alcharisi

      Sadly, the two are not mutually exclusive.

    • Stacy48918

      But still an OPINION piece.

      If you’re truly interested in being “educated” the first step might be differentiating OPINION from STUDIES.

      All 3 of the links you have posted this morning are just OPINION. You need to be looking for real studies published in peer-reviewed journals. Or, again, just read the CDC recommendations.

      But you know better than the CDC. Because, Health Impact News said so.

      • yugaya

        It’s a failed attempt at appeal to authority – she tried to reinforce her arguments by citing an individual opinion a single pediatrician evoking the fact that they are licensed. Well, let’s see what this medical professional’s organisation representing over 60 000 members with same credentials has to say officially on the matter of vaccines:

        http://www2.aap.org/immunization/families/safety.html

        I’m seeing a bunch of CDC, WHO links and nothing even remotely holistic on that page.

        And here is their current bulletin regarding measles outbreak:

        http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-President-Urges-Parents-to-Vaccinate-Their-Children-Against-Measles.aspx

        For someone so alternative, you Rosanna sure exhibit an irrational amount of trust in the opinions of “people with letters attached to their names” as long as they are in agreement with what you believe. Think about how that ties with what you said earlier about not trusting doctors in general when you have time, it may help you avoid similar fallacies in the future.

      • Rosanna

        You mean in the same way Dr. Amy’s article about all anti vax parents have ego problems was an opinion piece? Yet you all accept her article as fact..hmmm…interesting…she holds no psychology degree, hasn’t practiced medicine since she left it to raise her children, yet her opinion here is taken as fact…no evidence, surveys or studies of anti vax parents to arrive to her conclusion – just her good old noggin. I hope one day I can be as good of a hypocrite as the rest of you.

        • Stacy48918

          Of course.

          But I would NEVER reference her blog as “proof” of anything.

          • yugaya

            I think she really believes that we just take dr Amy’s word for it the same way that she takes the word of her quack sources to be gospel.

            Just to be on the safe side, here’s a nice independent piece of research into privileged motivations behind vaccine refusal that illustrates the EGO point well:

            http://gas.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/05/09/0891243214532711.full.pdf+html?ijkey=fUokCLKdAFzI2&keytype=ref&siteid=spgas

          • Stacy48918

            I think it’s really funny that Rosanna is complaining ego. Ha!

          • yugaya

            Almost as funny as her arguing from vaccine refusal standpoint that modern medicine ain’t preventative. :)))

        • Stacy48918

          “hasn’t practiced medicine since she left it to raise her children,”

          Of course ignoring the fact that she lectures for ACOG and her recommendations on birth, interventions, vaccinations, etc are usually in line with those of the CDC, ACOG, WHO, etc. Unlike the “experts” you reference.

        • Kq

          Don’t worry dear, you’ve got us beat when it comes to hypocrisy.

        • Bombshellrisa

          Doctors take psychology as part of their coursework.
          Dr Amy wrote her posts about anti vaxxing and measles because there is indeed an outbreak, which is evidence enough that there is a problem. Not sure how a survey or study could change that.

        • Montserrat Blanco

          I do not cite Dr. Tuteur’s blog as a scientific source.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I do not cite Dr. Tuteur’s blog as a scientific source

            There is that. But there is also the fact that what Dr Amy is posting in her blog is actually the mainstream position of the ACOG and, in fact, most all medical organizations. Unlike the guy in the blogpost, who may be “board certified” and what not, but is spewing information that is absolutely NOT the mainstream view, and is pretty far out there

          • attitude devant

            And Dr. Amy always links to sources.

          • SporkParade

            Usually the mainstream position. But sometimes it isn’t, in which case she is very good at articulating why she disagrees (c.f. the 39-week rule). Because the benefit of being an actual medical professional is that you can call out your colleagues when you think they are practicing bad medicine, in stark contrast to practitioners of woo.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Here’s my question: is the 39-week rule REALLY the mainstream position of health providers? Or is it the pet cause of the March-of-Dimes?

            In fact, the whole reason the 39-week rule is being pushed is because, apparently, pre-39 week inductions are becoming too common!

            In other words, decisions to do pre-39 week inductions are so common (and thus mainstream) that organizations want to make rules against them to prevent doctors from doing them!

            No one has to do a pre-39 induction unless they want to, so it’s not like we need a rule to prevent unwanted early inductions. The whole reason for the rule is that early inductions are too common.

            So it’s hard to argue that doing early inductions is not a mainstream position.

          • Ash

            @thebofaonthesofa:disqus, if you google Leapfrog 39 weeks, you’ll see that use Hospital Rates of Early Scheduled Deliveries as a quality measure. Looking through the hospitals listed for my state, it appears that quite a bit of them participate in Leapfrog data. Also, UnitedHealthcare is a huge insurer and they are also giving incentives for fewer inductions prior to 39 weeks.Some state Medicaid programs as well.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Exactly.

            But what are actual doctors saying?

            Why do doctors need a rule to not do induction before 39 weeks if they don’t want to do them?

            This 39 week rule is not the position of doctors, it’s the position of administrators and insurance companies.

            That’s my whole point.

          • Ash

            No disagreement there.

          • Young CC Prof

            Yeah. I think most OBs realize that there are down sides to delivery at 37-38 weeks, but I don’t think they’re particularly fond of policies that spell out when they are allowed to induce early and when they are not, rather than allowing the experts to use their best judgement.

          • Montserrat Blanco

            I respect her a lot and I do read her site every day, but I would never add this blog as a citation to a paper that I submit for publishing at a peer reviewed journal. I probably should have clarified that statement.

            In any case, yes, this blog is a much better information source than other sites. The quality of the reviews regarding papers that Dr. Tuteur writes is usually great and I am aware it pretty much the same as the ACOG. That blog Rosanna cites is… How to say it politely? It has no quality at all.

        • KarenJJ

          But we are all well aware that Dr Amy writes opinion pieces. I don’t use Dr Amy as a source to base medical decisions on – she raises interesting points that I might discuss with my doctors/obgyn etc – but I don’t use her purely as a medical source.

          Why would you expect us to use an internet blog like Dr Amy as a medical source? Is that what you do? Read something on the internet that you agree with and think it must be true? Have you ever learnt to read sources and analyse them? Use critical thinking? Why would you think that we think as uncritically as you do?

    • yentavegan

      I am not as well versed in science as many of the other active respondents here are. Even with my limited grasp of how to interpret a scientific study I could see that the essay you linked to contained passages meant to arouse suspicion , not answer questions. The author feeds into the paranoia of the media-pharmocological conspiracy of abandoning the principal of “first do no harm”…

    • Young CC Prof

      Nope, that’s a board-certified pediatrician who abandoned his duty and became a holistic quack. Those teaching positions he claims in his bio? None of those institutions have him in their directories any longer. Apparently most of the insurance carriers are dropping him, too.

    • Nick Sanders
  • Rosanna
    • Wren

      Do you believe this to be scientific evidence?

      • yugaya

        Worse than that, she believes it is totally acceptable to show up here again posting her agenda links without as much as a single word of apology to momofone for being directly and deliberately cruel, insensitive and a sanctimonious piece of shit who blames cancer victims for causing their illness.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Why don’t you try to explain it in your own words?

      (it’s generally bad form to just post links in discussion places with no comment)

  • Rosanna
    • Cobalt

      This article, and just about every article I’ve read from Health Impact News, is full of half truths, unsupported conclusions, omissions of relevant information, and outright lies. They’re not a credible source.

    • Elaine

      “Outbreak after outbreak” has occurred among the vaccinated… cites one study from 24 years ago. Nice.

  • Stacy48918

    Another book recommendation for Rosanna – also by Paul Offit. Available next month. I pre-ordered 3 months ago – can’t wait! 🙂
    http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Faith-Religious-Undermines-Medicine/dp/0465082963

    • Roadstergal

      Ooh, I will have to pick that up. I greatly enjoyed his writing in The Cutter Incident.

  • OT, but I wanted to thank you, Dr Amy, for taking on dangerous alternative health practices and being totally boss about it. All opinions are not equally valid, and some of the health decisions you make for your family DO affect other people and ARE everybody’s business. The continuation of home birth deaths and vaccine preventable illnesses proves that pussyfooting is not working and it’s awesome when someone qualified is fearless enough to put on their Big Doctor Pants and wade in.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Thanks!

  • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

    OT but not really http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/09/us-usa-idaho-mumps-idUSKBN0LD28120150209

    Mumps outbreak at University of Idaho, Moscow campus spreads to Washington state. Mumps, not something you want to get at a college student. (or a all, had them when I was six, it sucked) 21 cases in Idaho 2 in WA

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      So much for that “good question” the other day of “where are the other preventable diseases, like mumps?”

      • Guest

        Pertussis is all over the place right now as well…

    • Bombshellrisa

      Not OT at all!
      I heard vivid descriptions of my mom’s and grandmother’s bout with mumps. Sounds like hell. Thanks mom for insisting I get vaccinated!

      • Who?

        I had it twice as a child it is horrid.

        Yay vaccination.

      • Mishimoo

        My husband’s paternal grandfather caught mumps as an adult and nearly died. He was on bedrest for 6 weeks and only barely pulled through.

    • Trixie

      My dad was hospitalized for two weeks with it.

    • Lurker

      The U of I in Moscow is about 20 miles down the road from Washington State University in Pullman. I went to grad school at WSU and between the two towns you get a pretty decent college town experience. And now, apparently, you get a nice ripe double population for illness.

      I do remember explicitly, though, that 20 years ago I wasn’t allowed to enroll unvaccinated. They had a nurse right there to jab anyone (like me) who was missing their records.

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

        Yup my daughter is in college now and where she goes there was a whole page about required immunizations. IDK if her school allows anything except medical exemptions because it never crossed my mind that anyone would want to send their kids to live in the petri dish that is the dorms without their shots. FYI they had a mini run of I think meningitis at one of the East Coast Ivies. I made my kid get the shot for that when it came out. My little brother had meningitis when he was 10.

    • Alcharisi

      Ugh, we’ve recently received news of mumps cases at my school, too.

  • Allie

    Thought this was a good fit with some of the recent posts:

    http://boingboing.net/2015/02/08/having-the-brakes-removed-from.html

    The hyperlink seems wonky, but you can always copy and paste.

  • Theoneandonly

    Has anyone come across these studies before? They were also provided to me by the same anti-vax mum as art of the reason why she chooses not to vaccinate. I am not a doctor/scientist so I wouldn’t know where to begin to see if these studies say what they purport to say.

    “Children of mothers vaccinated against measles and, possibly, rubella have lower concentrations of maternal antibodies and lose protection by maternal antibodies at an earlier age than children of mothers in communities that oppose vaccination. This increases the risk of disease transmission in highly
    vaccinated populations.”
    http://jid.oxfordjournals.org/content/208/1/10.full?sid=87af9512-9883-41c1-b596-b52df6e11b55

    {One would think that would be a very good reason to keep vaccinating in order to eradicate the diseases completely, but evidently not}
    and

    “Waning immunity or secondary vaccine failure (SVF) has been anticipated by some as a challenge to global measles elimination efforts. Although such cases are infrequent, measles virus (MeV) infection can occur in vaccinated individuals following intense and/or prolonged exposure to an infected individual and may present as a modified illness that is unrecognizable as measles outside of the context of a measles outbreak. The immunoglobulin M response in previously vaccinated individuals may be nominal or fleeting, and viral replication may be limited. As global elimination proceeds, additional methods for confirming modified measles cases may be needed to understand whether SVF cases contribute to continued measles virus (MeV) transmission.”
    http://jid.oxfordjournals.org/content/204/suppl_1/S549.full

    “This is the first report of measles transmission from a twice-vaccinated individual with documented secondary vaccine failure.”
    http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/58/9/1205.abstract?sid=870e5d66-e415-411e-9b94-211ffc128d3a

    • Young CC Prof

      True but abused. The fact that vaccines are imperfect, especially in areas of critically low coverage, is like arguing against seatbelt use on the grounds that seatbelts may fail to rescue you in 80mph or higher collisions. (Obviously, buckle up and don’t drive that fast.)

    • S

      I do remember reading that breastfeeding mothers who’ve received their immunity through MMR are unlikely to have measles antibodies in their milk, whereas mothers who’ve had measles are much more likely to pass antibodies through their milk. (Would have to dig up the link later.)

      I know anti-vaxers will often cite stuff like this that demonstrates that getting the disease provides better immunity… because apparently the best way to avoid getting the disease is to get the disease. Coherent arguments are for the birds!

      • Cobalt

        Measles immunity passed placentally, not in milk.

        • S

          Thank you! I misremembered probably.

        • Wren

          But breast milk, I mean liquid gold, fixes everything! Of course breastfeeding your 6 year would prevent measles!

        • SuperGDZ

          Is there any local action in eg measles virus that enters the mouth or throat by measles antibodies in milk? Not the same as immunity, but would there be some decrease in risk this way?

          • Cobalt

            I could find no evidence of breastfeeding giving additional protection from measles, even if the mother is vaccinated while breastfeeding. I really wanted it to be true though, as I currently have a five month old and am breastfeeding and just got an MMR (could not find documentation of second dose in childhood, want to do what I can to protect my family). I really wanted to be able to extend his protection in this outbreak, but the science says breastfeeding is irrelevant to measles.

            The commonly cited reason for breastmilk being unhelpful is that the measles antibodies just aren’t expressed in the milk. This goes beyond my easy understanding, but they physically don’t fit through the cell structures involved in milk production.

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            Don’t know if this helps but his explaination did help me understand a little more about what breastmilk does and doesn’t protect against:
            https://pediatricinsider.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/immunity-breastfeeding-and-the-timing-of-measles-vaccine/

            ” Breastmilk IgA provides just a little protection against infections that are caught via the respiratory tract, including the common cold and measles. For instance, a breastfed baby on average statistically will likely get one half of an ear infection fewer in the first year of life. Not a huge impact, at least not in respect to those kinds of infections.”

          • Cobalt

            That’s a much better citation than the one I was looking for! Thank you!

        • Sullivan ThePoop

          Well, the most protective antibodies against measles are IgG antibodies which is are passed via the placenta, but there are also some protective IgA antibodies that are passed in breast milk.

      • Elaine

        I can see a certain kind of logic there. Get the measles as an older kid to avoid your own kid getting it as a baby, or, more specifically, make sure your daughter is exposed to the measles as an older kid to make it less likely your grandchild will get it as a baby. If you don’t think measles is that big a deal in a healthy older child, it sounds like a good deal as long as you don’t scrutinize it too hard.

        Assuming, of course, your daughter even decides to have a baby and to breastfeed. Because if she grows up to be childfree, adopt, or feed formula, then that was all pointless. And getting her brother exposed to the measles was pointless too. And this is assuming your kid survives the measles with no issue.

        Or, y’know, just get EVERYONE vaccinated to improve herd immunity and lessen the risks your child and future grandchild will get it at all.

    • Cobalt

      For the first study: Even if vaccinated mothers transfer immunity for 6 months, and infected mothers transfer immunity for a year (both of these time frames are within the normal range, generally speaking), the kid is still unprotected for their entire life after that until infected or vaccinated. A few months of extra time unprotected but with herd immunity is much safer than random infection with its attendant risks in an unvaccinated population.

    • Montserrat Blanco

      Second link:
      1- not all vaccinated individuals get a foto inmunity after the vaccine. We know that since decades ago. That is the main reason to get everybody vaccinated, it is called herd inmunity.
      2- what this paper is about is the possibility of the inmunity of the vaccine disminishing over time. It happens with the natural disease as well (people that suffered measles twice in their lives are documented).
      3- the rate of secondary failure is really low. The methodology used in this paper is not good to calculate a rate, but they found only 6 cases in the whole population.
      4- in this paper people that suffered measles because of vanishing inmunity (very very unfrequent) had a much milder disease than unvaccinated people with much fewer complications.
      5- in this paper those people shedded very little or no virus, being impossible for them to transmit the disease, so even if they are un fortunate enough to suffer mild measles they are highly unlikely to pass it on. If in doubt. Think of herd inmunity.

    • Montserrat Blanco

      The third paper you cite needs payment to view the whole paper. I am afraid I can’t comment properly just on the abstract.

  • Dr Kitty

    I was listening to the rather wonderful The Infinite Monkey Cage on BBC Radio 4 today.
    “Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by Ben Goldacre, Jeff Forshaw and Sara Pascoe to discuss why quantum physics is often so popular with purveyors of pseudo-science and quackery.”

    Sara Pascoe made the very interesting point that occasionally people do make spontaneous recoveries from diseases, and that when that happens Drs and Scientists will shrug their shoulders and say “sometimes that happens, don’t know why, can’t predict it, can’t recreate it, it’s a mystery” while CAM will find an explanation like “moving to a new quantum state of being” or “eliminating toxins” or “the power of prayer”.

    CAM isn’t actually about being open minded, it is about people who are deeply uncomfortable with “stuff happens, sometimes randomly, we don’t know why” and are seeking explanations and answers, usually out of desperation and hope.The scientists and medics are the ones who are actually comfortable knowing that they don’t have all the answers for things, or that sometimes there simply is no known explanation.

    In short, CAM is what you turn to when “shit happens” isn’t enough of an explanation for when shit happens. I paraphrase somewhat.

    • Who?

      People like patterns. Following rituals, whether religious or not, gives people more things to pattern against. ‘I took this then I felt better.’

      Broken or incomplete patterns, that don’t reinforce the beliefs they are based on, tend to get forgotten or swept under the carpet or discounted.

      That urge can be hard to fight, particularly if life is difficult. Or if someone thinks their life is difficult.

    • Young CC Prof

      This is exactly what I tell my intro statistics class every semester. People become deeply uncomfortable when things really truly are random, and resort to all sorts of irrational behavior to control the uncontrollable.

      Look at the response to that NOT terribly novel article that showed that a big part of cancer risk is pure chance, rather than environmental or even genetic risk factors. A huge number of people rejected the conclusion reflexively without even reading far enough to reach the evidence.

      • Who?

        Yes someone told me all that means is they don’t know what causes it yet, then went into why all her mad food things done to avoid getting cancer again will certainly work, despite the evidence in this report. For my money she has an eating disorder which is covered by her ‘healthy’ eating habits. Also she’s a control freak.

        She was really agitated by the article because she works so hard to avoid cancer she can’t live with the idea that all her work might come to nothing, and that luck might play a part.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        People become deeply uncomfortable when things really truly are random,

        See, that’s where I am different. A few years back, I realized that life makes more sense when you realize that that, sometimes, shit happens for no reason at all. That makes life a lot easier to handle.

        Then I moved on to realizing that, even the things that do happen are happening in unpredictable ways, and it does no good to dwell on individual events but you need to look at a large sample, Even given that, nothing is guaranteed and is only a matter of probability. The New England Patriots could play our local junior league football team, and while they are very likely to win, there is still a non-zero probability that an earthquake will hit and will swallow up all the Patriots, such that they have to forfeit.

        Then again, even though it’s possible, it’s stupid to best against them.

        Life makes a lot more sense when you consider an exercise in probability, with some things being more or less likely to various degrees, instead of thinking that everything that happens is destined.

        • attitude devant

          Yep. I’m more comfortable with random-ness than I am with every damn thing being freighted with Meaning.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I know my comment got buried in the text:

            Sometimes, shit happens for no reason at all.

          • Cobalt

            The parents of the child who got our daughter’s liver may have felt like their prayers were answered. The implications of that, however, are too terrible for me to contemplate.

            I sleep much better at night trusting random chance to see us through to morning than faith in a deity that would kill my children, even if to save other children he put in harm’s way.

          • attitude devant

            Oh I am so sorry. Yes, no meaning in that, for sure.

          • FormerPhysicist

            I am so sorry.

          • momofone

            I am so sorry.

          • jhr

            So tragic. Condolences.

          • moto_librarian

            I am so very sorry.

          • Liz Leyden

            I’m so sorry.

          • Montserrat Blanco

            I am really sorry for your loss.

          • I am so sorry about your daughter. I recently followed on Facebook an infant I knew tangentially who needed a liver transplant, and seeing her family members and friends say on Facebook that they were praying for the girl to get the transplant that she needed to save her life was hard. Because on the other side of that is a family that has no interest in being the answer to anyone’s prayer for an organ transplant.

            If you (this is the general “you,” not just Cobalt) believe in prayer, pray that [Deity] will open the hearts, eyes, and ears* of the general public to the amazing scientific accomplishment of organ and tissue donation and its benefits, and that they will pay attention when there are positive organ donation stories in the news. Pray that people who are comfortable with organ donation discuss their donor status with people who are close to them, and that relatives will respect the decisions of people who have ticked that little box.

            * – I mean that metaphorically, but hearts and eyes can be donated. I’ve never heard of ear donation, though.

          • Cobalt

            The decision to donate was the easiest decision we made that day, and actually helped us survive the experience. I highly recommend it.

          • Empliau

            I am so sorry for your loss. The decision was right for you – I wish it were right for more people, then there wouldn’t be so many people waiting and dying. I hope that living child somewhere is an atom of sweetness in the terrible sorrow of your child’s death. Your courage has saved another family from suffering as you are. I like to think that the family of someone waiting for a donation isn’t hoping for someone to die, but hoping that, given unavoidable death, someone donates to break, when possible, a chain of death and grief. I have a child, and I cannot imagine your pain. May it become bearable.

          • Alcharisi

            I’m so sorry.

          • moto_librarian

            I think that the thing that most bothers me about religion is that god always gets the credit for the good stuff, but never the blame for the tragedies. “It’s all in god’s plan” is a meaningless platitude in the face of profound loss. If there is a god, at best, he doesn’t care about human suffering, and at worst, he actively punishes us according to his whims. I refuse to worship such a god.

          • Cobalt

            A lot of people, frequently those who have been lucky so far, really don’t understand that. They hang on to prayer, or positive energy, or whatever. It’s easy to say God needed another angel when it’s not yours he took.

          • yugaya

            You and so many other people on this blog are an inspiration in the way how you brave such unimaginable pains. Thank you for sharing and I am so sorry for your loss.

          • Amazed

            I’m so sorry about your daughter. I am absolutely sure that those parents do feel like their prayers were answered. My mom who isn’t exactly religious told me that once, she heard the Virgin talking to her straight after the nurses in the hospital took her angry 8 year old and sent her out for the examination (right now, she couldn’t stand him and he couldn’t stand her, and he hated being back in the hospital after the months he spent there). She entered a church with all her worries. And then the Virgin told her, “Why are you crying? I would understand if he were still sick. But he’s healthy now.” When she returned, the examination was over, the results were good, and he was even as good as gold – something that didn’t happen to him very often around that time.

            Perhaps those parents heard a voice talking to them as well? I’m sure they do feel like their prayers were answered.

          • Cobalt

            I tend to approach it mentally as God or Nature or Whatever was fine with killing them both. Modern medicine meant that one lived. Donation was the right thing for us to do, and actually gave us something to remember the feeling of hope in the darkest of days.

        • Young CC Prof

          I have had chronic pain since the age of 18. I spent a couple years looking for causes, for cures, for some sort of cosmic answers, for some way to fix it through virtue. I eventually learned that “why” is probably not an answer I’m ever going to get, but that it probably isn’t because of anything I did wrong.

          It really was liberating, to stop looking for answers and just live with things the way they were. The song that summed it up best was Rush’s “Roll The Bones.”

        • yugaya

          I got pregnant one week into the war ( deliberately, I was 23 and thought that my individual choice to have children should not be limited by other people’s collective insanity). That experience, of your instincts enhanced by pregnancy hormones dictating you to keep the child growing inside you safe and the fact that to get through each day you had to accept the reality in which you could just be walking down the street and get yourself and that child killed just like that, I think that was crucial in me learning to let go of need to control the randomness of human existence. You do what you can to control what you can in the small that is your own existence and that is it.

  • Bombshellrisa

    I am just going to put this up at the top so everyone can see it: Kathleen, Michael, Craig, Joann, Gerald, Schaffer. I am putting these names here because these are the people i have loved and lost. Herbs, tonics, whatever the holistic practitioners suggested didn’t help. The discussion I have read today has made me so upset I want to scream. I don’t care who has seen sick people that woo has cured, these are real people who didn’t get better, that believed what the doctors and woo practitioners at the various clinics said (all offered only holistic treatments). And using both types (western and holistic) didn’t work either for any of them.

    • momofone

      I’m so sorry.

      • Bombshellrisa

        Thank you. This discussion has really upset me. There are people here who struggle with chronic conditions, have family members with them and have lost loved ones because of woo and unethical providers and it angers me some trolls are so persistent about US being closed minded.
        Kathleen was my mother in law, I didn’t know her since I was a toddler when she died. My husband was 2 years old when she died. His sister still remembers in detail the night her mom died and the ambulances and firemen coming to the house and her father dying. 30 year old women shouldn’t die from Hodgkin’s lymphoma, they should be able to get real treatment, not herbs and B6 shots

        • momofone

          How awful.

        • Who?

          Thankyou for sharing this. The alt crowd are great at sharing their ‘winning’ stories, rare and dubious as they are, but not so good at sharing the others.

          • Bombshellrisa

            It’s true, every alt person can quote a story about someone who was told they have three months to live, nothing could be done and then they sought out the care of a practitioner who suggested herbs, supplements and an eating plan and they miraculously got better. And if it’s a true story, I am glad that person lived. But it’s not ever anyone they call by name, which makes me doubt the credibility of the person who is telling the story and the treatment they received.

          • Roadstergal

            Orac does a good job of digging into these alt med cancer ‘cures’ and showing how, for the ones for which we have any data at all, they’re not quite the alt-med miracle they claim to be.

          • Young CC Prof

            Indeed. Unconfirmed diagnosis, cure actually achieved by conventional medicine, or someone who is in fact still dying, just slower than predicted.

          • Who?

            Like the Wellness Warrior, that young woman saddens and infuriates me at the same time.

          • Bombshellrisa

            The unconfirmed diagnosis part is the One I am most interested in when it comes to the woo. A friend was being treated by a CPM/naturopathic doctor for cancer of the esophagus while pregnant. When she transferred care to an OB, her records never showed any biopsy or bloodwork done to diagnose the cancer. The woo practitioner had her eating a certain diet plan and gargling with wormwood tincture to “cure the cancer” that she never had in the first place. She did have swollen glands, which the OB confirmed was nothing to be concerned about. Turns out that was just something her body did while she was pregnant.

          • Who?

            Physiotherapists can be guilty of over-diagnosis too.

            Two scary examples in my world: a pregnant work colleague was crying at work with the pain in her back, which she’d been to the physio for a couple of days in a row. I told her that pregnancy wasn’t meant to hurt that much, and she needed to get off to her doctor quick smart. This apparently matched her mum’s advice, and off she went. She had a clot, turned out, which took all sorts of treatment and management.

            The second is a friend’s dad, whose mid back pain was being treated by the physio right up until he died of a massive heart attack on his living room floor. The pain was apparently a classic warning sign for the kind of problem he had.

            Diagnostic overreach can happen even with legitimate professionals-after those experiences, we never go straight to the physio.

          • araikwao

            I’m disappointed to hea r that as a physio (and a fairly-soon-to-be doctor), as I think we are generally good at distinguishing between what’s musculoskeletal pain and what’s not.

          • Who?

            I should say that is over a period of say 5 years, so there were lots of perfectly effective appointments in between, but I’m more wary now of just heading to the physio when I have a twinge.

            Lots of physios here work quite independently of other specialists, and health insurance pays whether or not referrals are given, so I can see how it happens.

          • SuperGDZ

            I was also treated by a physio for months for mid-back pain that turned out to be from gallbladder disease.

          • Cobalt

            Wormwood is an abortifacient.

          • Bombshellrisa

            I would be willing to bet money that the tincture she was gargling with was homeopathic-–so no real danger of it being anything to worry about.

          • Bombshellrisa

            I have done reading at quackwatch.org and I have liked what I read.

          • The Burzynski clinic should be prosecuted for fraud, but never will be.

          • Cobalt

            My grandfather got cancer in the early 90’s. They said he had maybe five years, tops. Using only modern medicine, he lived almost another 2 decades, surviving another unrelated cancer before the third, also unrelated, finally caught him. If they had treated the third sooner he’d still be here.

            Chemo meant he got to see his grandchildren grow up and meet several of his great-grandchildren. If you’d offered him any of this alternative stuff he’d likely have chased you out of his house.

          • momofone

            This would be the same for my mother. Her cancer was diagnosed the year after mine, but was much more advanced. Surgery and chemo meant that she was able to know and enjoy her four grandchildren.

          • WordSpinner

            My grandmother had rheumatic fever in high school and lived with the heart damage all her life, always staying one step ahead of medical treatments. She was one of the first people ever to get an artificial valve, and lived until she was 77. She died of cardio-renal failure–when your kidneys can’t process your bloodthinners quickly enough, it is bad.

          • Human brains prefer anecdotes, even when we’re faced with real data that disproves the anecdotes. Our ancestors learned moral lessons through fictional folk tales and parables: we can’t get it through our heads that science doesn’t work that way since folk tales worked great for our ancestors.

          • Amazed

            Well, to be fair, I can pin a name to someone who wasn’t expected to live. My brother at 7. Doctors told my mom there was no way he’d make it, yet he did. Without herbs and supplements. For years, he followed a strict diet plan because his life depended on it. The difference? It was real medicine that did it for him, although that same real medicine didn’t think he’d do it. He’ll be 29 in 2 days.

            Anecdotes run both ways but this one isn’t as great sounding as someone saved by the woo.

          • The “others” are not here to tell their stories and people who try to are silenced, just like the twice-buried victims of lay midwives and the families who grieve them.

          • Young CC Prof

            There’s no wifi six feet under, and so those stories go untold.

    • Mishimoo

      I’m so sorry.

    • Kq

      First, I am so sorry for your losses.

      Second, can we add Steve Jobs to the list?

      • Bombshellrisa

        Since I am typing on an Apple device, I think we should : )

      • attitude devant

        We should also toss in all the AIDS deniers (and their children) who died because of lack of access to appropriate therapy?

    • Amazed

      I’m so sorry for your losses.

    • Alcharisi

      I’m sorry for your losses.

      My dad also believed deeply in woo. But chi’gong didn’t cut his Hep C viral load or stop his body from rejecting his transplanted liver.

  • Amazed

    Guys, guys, let’s be real here. Remember who you’re talking to. Rosanne isn’t your average anti-vaxxer, just like not all homebirthing moms are your average homebirthing moms. Just like some homebirthing mothers (lay midwives, doulas, and placenta encapsulators), her livelihood depends on people not believing the sources you’ve kindly supplied. She’s a holistic provider, whatevert that means. Given her attitude to momofone’s remark about her own condition, I’m quite happy as an atheist. Remember, being a believer in a cult or religion doesn’t make you a good person, it can just make you fanatic, robbing you of small human traits like basic empathy, as Rosanne so amply demonstrates here.

    • Kq

      Amen!

    • Who?

      Perfect, and amen!

    • Rosanna

      Sorry, you are wrong – I don’t depend on people to not believe in modern medicine. Most of the patients in our clinics have doctors and guess what? Some of them actually work together with us to help their patients. We have people come to us when they have tried everything their doctor has given them and still have no solution. This unfortunately happens. If you ready any previous comment, you will see that I clearly stated I believe in BOTH. And I use both. If I were very sick, I would use both. I would hate to see someone die because they failed to try EVERYTHING. Does this apply to every single person? NO! For some people, modern medicine helps them just fine. For others, it does not, which is why people turn to other methods. We don’t promote hate in our clinic at all. We encourage people to work with their doctors, unlike this site that refuses to accept that there are option out there, and is nothing but a HATE GROUP. I am sorry you are all so closed minded, but that is your problem and not mine. I didn’t say that negativity causes cancer – I said…any OTHER disease manifested by negative energy, but I wouldn’t expect anyone to catch that, because you are all too busy breaking down my words and translating them in the way you want them to be heard. I have seen with my own eyes, people who are sick and almost dying, who have tried everything, and get better – sorry that you don’t believe it but it happens. I don’t need acceptance from this group or any other for me to know that it is true and works. All you keep asking for is studies and calling people quacks. I could show you 1000 resources….it doesn’t matter. You will only believe what you want to believe – did you get that? I do believe in modern medicine and I do believe that there are natural things that can be done to help others. It’s this group that is so ignorant, you refuse to look outside the box. I do believe in God. And I have faith for people like you, although you really don’t deserve it. Some of you just sit here all day, WAITING for someone like me to come along so you can POUNCE on them. What a sad way to live your life. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am back to helping people who want to be as healthy as they can. Quack Quack Quack!!!

      • Wren

        Ooh, will this flounce stick?
        Confession: I did try just about everything when struggling with infertility. None of the alternative stuff helped to do anything but lighten my wallet and make me feel like I was doing something. Real medicine gave me my two children.

        • KarenJJ

          Same re kids. Similar for an undiagnosed condition I had.
          Real medicine let me down, but alternative medicine did no better and when real medicine worked out its mistake my doctors got their resources together for me, got medication happening (can be difficult for expensive rare disease medication) and started raising awareness amongst other specialists by presenting at conferences, surveys and writing a paper about it all. Alt med? Had nothing more to say.. Nothing more they COULD say.

          • Who?

            Or it’s all about your mood, with alt med. You don’t believe, you aren’t positive and so on.

            Was chatting to the bank teller the other day, and apologised as I had to blow my nose, bad hayfever. She was saying her young daughter was also a sufferer. So i asked how the little girl got on with the drugs, some of which aren’t prescribed for kids. Oh, she said, we do the natural thing, building her immune system. Oh, I said, I thought hayfever was at least in part about an overactive immune response, so perhaps building it up (assuming that works) will actually make her more unwell?

            We then got straight back on to the banking stuff.

          • yugaya

            That positive/negative mood thing reminds me of medieval humors imbalance theories. You know, the kind of medical “science” that had no means of modern diagnostics at their disposal.

      • moto_librarian

        “I don’t need acceptance from this group or any other for me to know that it is true and works.”

        And yet, you’re still here. Please stick the flounce this time.

      • Amazed

        “I could show you 1000 resources… it doesn’t matter.”

        Damned right you are. Because all your resources are quackery. Just like yourself. Lies, lies, lies and greed. It really doesn’t matter. You barged in here with your big words that everyone around immediately understood you had memorized because you didn’t know what they meant. Everyone but you. After arguing for days from the position of the enlightened heretic, you finally confessed you have little (traslated as NO idea) how vaccines work. And now you do whine-whine that no one believes people who are sick and almost dying getting better. I don’t believe you’re qualified enough to kudge who’s actually sick and almost dying. You simply lack the knowledge.

        Just FYI, I’ve seen someone very dear to me being written off by official medicine. Everyone expected him to die but the doctors who also believed it didn’t give up – and he’s fine now. Anecdotes run both ways you know.

        Stick the flounce, this time.

      • yugaya

        ” I have seen with my own eyes”

      • Who?

        ‘Deserve it’!! very christian of you.

        Thing is, if things work, they work whether or not you believe in them. I might not believe in the internal combustion engine, but when I turn on the engine, it goes.

        If I found myself in your office, and you were being paid to be kind to me and tell me how wonderful and brave and positive I was, that might make me feel better. It wouldn’t make me better. If then, having ‘befriended’ me and won my trust, you sold me a bunch of sugar pills, the routine of taking them, and remembering how nice you were when you personally walked out and pulled them off the shelf, might make me feel better. It wouldn’t make me well again though.

        I find selling hope disgusting.

        Your practice of christianity has some gaps in it, and if you are worried about your soul you might want to see to those.

      • Stacy48918

        “disease manifested by negative energy”
        Such as?????????

        “I could show you 1000 resources”
        Just ONE would do. Waiting.

        “I have seen with my own eyes, people who are sick and almost dying, who have tried everything, and get better – sorry that you don’t believe it but it happens.”
        Maybe it does. BUT IT’S NOT STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT. That’s the purpose of all the “papers” you are asking about down below.

        So which is it? Do you prioritize “stories”, things you “seen with my own eyes”? Or do you prioritize science and studies and statistics?

        • Bombshellrisa

          She must have read the “You Can Heal Your Life” book. That was a bible of sorts when I was in my woo days.

        • Melissa

          Of course she has seen people who are sick and almost dying who then get better.

          I mean, she doesn’t see the ones who die because they don’t come in anymore.

          Many diseases improve over time, or at least cycle through periods of improvement and illness. Someone with lupus who was being treated with woo might very well seem to spontaneously get better. They would also eventually cycle back into illness again when they had a flare up. It would happen even if they were getting no treatment because the disease cycles this way for long periods. Many chronic conditions are like this where someone is sick and then improves before becoming ill again. This is why we use science and research to determine if a treatment works: because just because it appears to work on some people means nothing unless we know how many of those people would have improved without treatment.

          • Bombshellrisa

            I wonder if the sick and almost dying she has seen were merely bored and self absorbed upper middle class women who are privileged enough to have disposable income. I know people like this and most of them are seeking the help of naturopaths and the like and claiming they are feeling so much better after taking pulsatilla, all kinds of teas, homeopathic remedies and whatever other woo the practitioner tells them too. Noneffective prescriptions for non existent maladies.

          • Having a practitioner listen and pay attention to you has a therapeutic effect in itself.

      • momofone

        “Have fun with your heart disease, diabetes and cancer, along with every other crap disease your negative energy will manifest”

        Yep. That’s what you said.

        • Who?

          Just makes you want to run out and join her church and worship her deity, doesn’t it? What a lovely community that must be if Rosanna is a representative member.

          • Mishimoo

            #1 reason why I have not found a church since moving here 10 years ago – I was and still am somewhat burnt out from being raised around people like that. Unfortunately, it’s far more common than one would hope from a religion that claims to be about love.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I have been happy with our ELCA (Lutheran) church. It’s very much that way. The theme is basically “God loves everyone and so should you.” It is finally a place where I see people take seriously the passage of “When, Lord, did we see you hungry or naked, to give you food or clothing?” “Verily I say unto you, whenever you did for the least of my brothers, you did it for me.”

            Growing up in a Catholic Church, I always liked that song, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” However, it always bothered me that no one I ever met ever behaved that way. It was always like you describe, a bunch of self-righteous, judgemental schmoes. So even as a non-believer, I like the ELCA, because they are about going good to each other, not because we do it to get into heaven (we are saved by grace, not by works), or because we are preparing for the second coming of jesus, but because it’s the right thing to do.

            I can support that.

          • momofone

            My church (Episcopalian) is very similar. Not a matter of “here’s what you should believe,” but “use your brain, your heart, and your hands, and use them to help each other.”

          • Mishimoo

            That’s exactly what I’m looking for in a church because that, to me, is what church should be about.

            I grew up Fundamentalist Pentecostal with a dash of Messianic Judaism and a whole lot of guilt + fear of “falling from grace”; so I’m really picky about what I chose to participate in.

          • momofone

            I’m not atheist, but I believe that we have the ability to reason for a reason (ha ha), and that science is part of that. One (belief) doesn’t preclude the other (for me). I am not interested in Rosanna’s brand of religion.

          • Nick Sanders

            Agreed. The way I see it, God gave me a brain, so he expects me to use it.

          • momofone

            I like Galileo’s quote. “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

          • Who?

            I’m with Amy Ferrer Fowler (the character) on this one:

            I don’t object to the concept of a deity, but I’m baffled by the notion of one that takes attendance.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Have I ever mentioned Pablo’s Wager?

            Pablo’s Wager
            If God exists, then he created me as a rational, thinking being. However, if God exist, he also has not provided empirical evidence for his existence, and it has to be taken as a matter of faith. However, accepting something on faith would be a failure to use the gift of rational thought that I was created with. Failure to use God’s gifts is an affront to God, and therefore a sin. Therefore, there is only one logical conclusion:

            If God exists, it would be a sin for me to believe it.

          • Dr Kitty

            “Tak does not require us to think of him, but remember that he does require us to think”.
            This Discworld quotation seemed apt.

          • Mishimoo

            Indeed! I think that was one of the best lessons that my late Granddad taught me.

      • Stacy48918

        It really is interesting the number of quackers that are also very religious. Makes sense though – no proof for either and a convenient cover for fleecing the gullible.

        Keep your prayers to yourself.

        • Rosanna

          How’s that donation coming along?

          • Stacy48918

            “When I get paid this week”.

          • Mishimoo

            I don’t know about where you are, but here, payday is usually a Wednesday/Thursday and she did say “when I get paid this week”. I’m fairly sure that I’m not the only one that budgets for things, so I think it’s reasonable for her to make that comment instead of randomly buying something just to prove a point to a stranger on the internet.

            (and no, Stacy48918 and I are not in the same country)

          • Stacy48918

            Here you go:

      • momofone

        “And I have faith for people like you, although you really don’t deserve it.”

        I am far from expert, but I think the foundation of Christianity in general is that one CAN’T deserve it. You might want to check on that.

        • Who?

          Yes I’m not feeling too good about Roasanna’s immortal soul at the moment. Wouldn’t want her to end up with me, where she thinks I’m going!

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          I’m not the biblical scholar or anything, but I seem to recall that this question is not universal. Isn’t it the question of “we are saved by grace” and “we are saved by works”? It separate sects.

          • Young CC Prof

            Salvation by grace alone is a key tenet of Lutheranism, which most American Protestant sects are derived from, including the Calvinist/Puritan group. Salvation by good works is Catholic.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            What about other fundamentalist sects? Southern Baptists?

          • Alcharisi

            Southern Baptists are a Protestant denomination, so yes.

          • Stacy48918

            There are groups though that decry even that label “Protestant”. Every Independent, Fundamental Baptist church I have been a part of ardently rejects that they are “Protestant” because they aren’t “protesting” the Catholic church, and because Martin Luther still clung to many Catholic traditions (infant baptist, etc). Instead they claim to be simply “Christian”.

      • lilin

        ” I have seen with my own eyes, people who are sick and almost dying, who have tried everything, and get better – sorry that you don’t believe it but it happens.”

        Lucky them. The question is, does it happen more often with your therapies than it does without your therapies, and can you prove that. Because if it doesn’t, or you can’t prove it, you are a con artist who is taking the money of desperate people.

      • Bombshellrisa

        There are plenty of doctors who are willing to pander to the woo inclined. The Biomedical clinic in Tijuana is staffed with US trained MDs who offer the Hoxsey treatment to patients for a variety of ailments. Everyone talks about what a beautiful place the clinic is, how the “positive energy flows” there, how the doctors encourage holistic approaches in conjunction with chemo, radiation, ect. And there is not a shred of proof that the tonic, food plan and supplements makes anything better. I have seen people sick and dying too–and the alternative therapies didn’t work. We have lost parents and loves ones who have chosen woo instead of real medicine. So really, it’s completely justified for me (and anyone else here) to HATE woo, hate the practice of promising miraculous cures that no ethical healthcare professional would.

        • Montserrat Blanco

          If that clinic in Tijuana really worked I would have seen more people surviving cancer… If it did not exist I would have seen more people surviving cancer too.

      • Kq

        Your CAPITAL LETTERS and REDIRECTION combined with you QUACKING isn’t helping your CASE.

        “All you keep asking for is studies and calling people quacks. I could show you 1000 resources….it doesn’t matter. You will only believe what you want to believe – did you get that?”

        Says the antivax holistic practitioner. That’s called IRONY.

      • Melissa

        Here’s the problem with using both.

        Holistic costs money and time which are not endless resources for everyone. While many people may be able to follow their medical treatment while also engaging in whatever “holistic” treatment is available without any problem that is not the case for everyone. For the vast majority of people they will have to choose to give up parts of the medical solution in order to follow the alternative path.

        This is not acceptable.

        Because it is passing up on what we KNOW is most likely to work in favor of things that don’t work. What’s the harm in some essential oils if it makes someone happy? Where’s the damage by giving someone homeopathic remedies if it gives them hope? The harm comes when the patient, in order to save time or money, slowly starts becoming medically non-compliant with the belief that the holistic treatments are just as good. The harm is when people who can’t afford medical treatment treat themselves with the holistic offerings because they believe that they are just as good. Treating medical and alternative treatments as equal solutions harms the vast majority of people who can’t do both equally and who need to choose.

      • Montserrat Blanco

        I al glad you had sick people that got better with alternative treatments. Unfortunately I am on the other side and I have seen people dying because of alternative medicine practicioners. Yes, actual death due to alternative medicine. One patient a long time ago had a treatable and curable condition than thanks to a “naturopathic doctor” became untreatable and led her to death. Another got a dementia due to a “diet” with very important deficits, only partially reversible. I could go on for hours. So, it is not everything so great as you describe it. For almost everybody it included a lot of money spent on those “resources” when in my country the conventional treatment would have been entirely for free. I suggest you start with the resources I gave you on my previous post and when you have finished them you could perhaps try to explain how it is that your practice works better than real medicine. I am really glad that you have never been really ill. After experiencing sickness I would never ever wish that even to my worst enemy.

      • SuperGDZ

        I know a woman who desperately wanted to be a mother and now never will be. She had a similar philosophy to you and spent a small fortune on acupuncture, chiropractic, herbs and all sorts of other woo in conjunction with conventional fertility treatment. She was in her late thirties and held out until she was 40 before she tried IVF (which looked like the more expensive option), in the hope that the natural methods would kick in. Her one and only IVF was unsuccessful and there was just no money left for anything more. The money that she ultimately spent on all the altjunk would have paid for at least 2 or 3 IVF treatments which would have had a much greater chance of success if she’d had them when she was 36 or 37 rather than 40.

  • Liz Leyden

    I’m all for science-based medicine, but I can understand why people turn to quackery. My father survived cancer in his 20s. He was also a Black man who came of age around the time the Tuskeegee Syphllis Experiment came to light.

    For those who are unaware, from the 1920s to the 1970s the US government identified a large number of Black men in the rural South who had syphilis, and didn’t treat them, solely to see what would happen. Subjects were told it was a burial society (low-cost funeral co-op), and not to tell anyone else about it. Syphilis-free men were also in the study, as a control group. The experiment continued even after syphilis was found to be curable with antibiotics. It led to a lot of changes in ethics rules for medical studies, but also confirmed a lot of suspicions about health care among Blacks.

    After my father died, from complications of heart surgery, I found out he had chronic leukemia, and he was using “alternative” treatments for it. His lingering distrust of the medical system, combined with his sister’s death from misdiagnosed cancer a few years earlier (it was finally diagnosed at autopsy) led him to search for alternative methods.

    We have science on our side, quacks have trust. How can we combat the quacks?

    • sdsures

      My husband’s aunt died of a treatable cancer because the natural supplements that my mother-in-law gave her interfered with the chemotherapy’s ability to kill cancer cells. *hug*

    • Vg2010

      My grandmother had a very advanced pancreatic cancer (spread to her liver, bile, etc by the time it was diagnosed). She went through very intensive chemo that left her in incredible pain but that managed to reduce her cancer. Her battle lasted 6 months and ended not due to the cancer but what we believe was the result of surgery complications.

      She found a lot of relief for her pain from doing Reiki, and in my family’s opinion – this alternative therapy gave her much more relief than the morphine she was prescribed ever did.
      I agree that not vaccinating, not treating treatable cancer, or forgetting the value and improvements that modern medicine has brought to our society is ignorant at its best. That being said, after the experience with my grandmother if someone told me they have decided not to go through a treatment that doesn’t really give them high chances of survival and will be following alternative medicine instead, I don’t think I could be opposed.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Guaranteed, Reiki did nothing for her. Perhaps her belief in Reiki helped give her relief, and the placebo effect is real, but make no mistake, it wasn’t Reiki.

        • Vg2010

          To be fair – she went to reiki for pain management – not cancer treatment.my grandmom was of the stoic not very wooish kind, so I am reluctant to say her belief is what helped her, since i am not sure she believed in reiki more than she believed in morphine.
          I think my point is – as long as they are complimentary and not the main treatment, and if they provide solace – regardless if the reason, i dont see a damage. Sure, reiki was paid, but so was the chemo that didnt keep her alive, the surgery to clear her bile ducts that created endless complications and the morphine that didnt provide relief…
          T

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Reiki does not do anything other than placebo. However you want to describe it, it’s placebo.

      • Rosanna

        oh my goodness! Finally someone who makes some sense! What’s so wrong about utilizing both?

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Because Reiki doesn’t actually do anything.

          I mean, it is so obvious that an 8 year old could figure it out, while a whole stack of “holistic” providers couldn’t.

          It’s bullshit.

        • Wren

          How about because it is often a waste of time and money, and potentially interferes with actual medicine (herbs at least)?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Waste of money? What are you talking about? It will bring more customers to Rosanna’s Holistic Clinic, so of course it’s good!

        • Stacy48918

          You’re right. Whatever could anyone find wrong in taking money from a dying person for a useless therapy on the premise that it will actually help? It’s so baffling.

        • Who?

          Reiki made her feel better, which is fabulous. It didn’t make her better, and she died.

          What’s the trouble? Nothing here. It’s when people who have a chance to get better go with magic instead that the harm is done.

        • lilin

          Are holistic medicines and alternative therapies free? Because what’s wrong with “utilizing” both is, if you are selling something that doesn’t cure cancer to people with cancer you are taking desperate people’s money by fraud.

        • Montserrat Blanco

          That they are not subject to controls. The problem is that you are not aware of the side effects, not that they do not have side effects and in case of homeopathy that you are having literally nothing and paying for it. The problem is that I have had people admitted at the hospital because of side effects of alternative drugs and that was not told to them by their practitioners, I have had people admitted because of what I prescribe, but everybody was aware that might have happened. Not to mention patients dying because of alternative medicine and nobody had said a word about it to them.

          The problem is that something might be natural and harmful. And with that kind of things you have no idea how harmful it is. The controls that they have are less than those applied to apples. Most natural treatments are marketed as “supplements” and thus not subject to the strict regulations that drugs need to comply.

  • Liz Leyden

    Many people who embrace “alternative medicine” don’t trust standard medicine, due to bad experiences or general mistrust. The placebo effect is very powerful. I’ve had a few clients who preferred “holistic” approaches over medical ones. As long as it doesn’t harm the patient, I usually go along with it. I had to stop giving one client an OTC muscle-building supplement when he ended up with liver damage.

    That said, I wish Medicaid in my state did not cover naturopaths, chiropractors, and home birth midwives.

    • attitude devant

      This is as good a place as any to say (again) that under US laws anything marketed as a dietary supplement is specifically exempted from the usual requirements to be pure, safe, and/or effective.

    • S

      I was just typing a long comment, but i think you made my point better than i would have. I think a distinction needs to be made between wanting to defy authority and not trusting authority. I have fallen into the latter category and probably still do. I trust physicians’ motives and respect their knowledge, but something goes wrong; i have a hard time not coming across as crazy or something.

      • lilin

        “I think a distinction needs to be made between wanting to defy authority and not trusting authority.”

        I’m sorry, but not trusting authority doesn’t mean trusting ignorance and flattery.

        If people don’t trust doctors, there are things they can do. They can consult multiple doctors and compare opinions. They can find out as much information about their doctor as they possibly can – and you can find out quite a bit. Medical researchers and teachers are surprisingly open so people could email them with questions about the drugs they’re taking. That’s a good way to distrust authority, but it involves work and admitting that other people are better educated than you are.

        Anti-vaxxers and other people into pseudomedicine are instead going to people who offer them “miracle cures,” or “natural medicine,” or reassure them that they can heal themselves, all the while congratulating them for not being like the “sheeple.” That’s a lazy, stupid way of distrusting authority.

        • S

          Not everyone knows that. I certainly didn’t when i was younger. I didn’t have reliable internet access, and i was out of town all week, outside all day for work.

          I am sure many people think the way you described in your last paragraph, but i don’t think all do. I do not defend quackery in any form or circumstance. My concern is when we overgeneralize, we miss a subset of people and are then unable to address what’s going wrong with them.

        • S

          “I’m sorry, but not trusting authority doesn’t mean trusting ignorance and flattery.” I certainly agree with this statement; in fact i think i illustrate it!

  • Rosanna

    And the scientific evidence that supports this claim can be found where?

    • FortyMegabytes

      It can be found amongst the same scientific evidence you were presented with yesterday.

      • Rosanna

        Sorry, I am a nitwit – where, specifically, are the studies that have been conducted on each level of Holistic Health that show them to be ineffective?

        • attitude devant

          How about you start with evidence showing them to be effective? The usual requirement is that the person claiming effectiveness show evidence of same.

          • Rosanna

            right, so it’s always me that has to show the proof and never you guys – got it!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa


            The usual requirement is that the person claiming effectiveness show evidence of same.

            right, so it’s always me that has to show the proof and never you guys – got it!

            Apparently you can’t read.

            What part of the bolded statement says that it is always you?

          • attitude devant

            Rosanna, up above I referred you to Quackwatch.com which still has the most complete files of any site on alternative therapies. They examine EVERYTHING. But you didn’t bother to reply to that….

            ETA, for heaven’s sake girl! If you claim that X works you should be prepared to show me!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Why would she do that? She “works in a Holistic Clinic” and that would hit her way too close to home.

        • attitude devant

          I should also say that some alternative therapies are ludicrous on their own merits. Homeopathy, for instance, where the idea that successive succussive dilutions of the remedy impresses the memory of the shape of the molecules on the water. And the water remembers. That, on it’s own merits is a ridiculous idea.

        • Wren

          What do you call alternative medicine that has been shown to work with actual evidence?
          Medicine.
          The only things that have to stay under the “alternative medicine” umbrella are the things that are not shown to work when tested.

        • Francesca Violi

          It’s the other way around: if YOU (not you Rosanna, you holistic provider) claim bottled moonlight can prevent flu, YOU must prove it is effective. Until that time, we shall assume it is not effective.

        • Taysha

          If you claim holistic health is beneficial and real, the burden of proof is on you.

        • Laura Thomas

          I believe several years ago this web site looked at information from pediatric chiropractors that indicated there were no scientific studies documenting the effectiveness of any of their pediatric treatments in any of their own professional publications. That’s rather telling. Perhaps someone can find that post?

          • AmyH

            I remember a post like that on the Pediatric Insider. (And I’m too lazy to look it up; also time is precious because my newborn is asleep and my two year old will soon wake up.)

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Yeah, I don’t remember where I saw it, but I do remember that there are no studies on chiropractic care of children, especially babies.

            It makes sense, because ethically no one would want to come anywhere near it.

        • Wren

          Imagine if drug companies worked on that premise:
          “Prove our drug doesn’t work and we will take it off the market. Until then it should be assumed to work.”
          Alt-med/Holistic types would be outraged.

          • Young CC Prof

            It’s rather ironic. When alties want to discredit conventional medicine, they cite examples of medicines which were later proven to be useless or even harmful, and subsequently discarded.

            Alternative medicine, on the other hand, never discards anything, regardless of evidence of harm or lack of evidence of benefit. (There are a handful of alternative treatments so dangerous they’ve been banned, but not many.)

    • Amy

      Which one? There are several claims, and ample evidence to support all of them.

    • Kq

      The scientific evidence that nonscience is not science?

      (Pssst… The evidence shows is that science is science)

      • Roadstergal

        Yeah, but all the evidence showing that science works is scientific in nature. I’m sensing a massive conflict of interest.

        • Kq

          True. Scientists science science. How can you trust them to science nonscience? It’s a conspiracy!

          • Roadstergal

            You know what’s crazy – I have Fads and Fallacies In The Name Of Science and Science: Good, Bad, and Bogus as resurrect-every-few-years bathtub reading. I’m on the latter, and how little things change…!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            One of my favorite books is How We Know What Isn’t So by Tom Gilovich.

        • yugaya

          Is there any non-scientific proof that science works? You can’t trust those Big Science shills to be telling the truth. 🙂

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          It’s so hard to believe in anything anymore. I mean, it’s like, religion, you really can’t take it seriously, because it seems so mythological, it seems so arbitrary…but, on the other hand, science is just pure empiricism, and by virtue of its method, it excludes metaphysics. I guess I wouldn’t believe in anything anymore if it weren’t for my lucky astrology mood watch.

          – Steve Martin

    • Cobalt

      This is where that education and BS detector that Box of Salt recommended and you rejected would come in handy. As Attitude Deviant points out below, a lot of altmed is just ridiculous on its face.

      Maybe this link will help:

      http://www.bmj.com/content/327/7429/1459

      • Rosanna

        My BS detector tells me that this whole site, and most of the people who follow, is a bunch of BS. I guess I should stop believing in God too….because we can’t scientifically prove that he exists….Are you all atheists then? Why can’t you folks open your minds to see that both can work together. Modern medicine is not preventative. I work in a Holistic Health Clinic and watch people come in and and out of there, every day, getting treated and getting better. Sorry if you don’t believe there is more to life than what this woman is telling you. Her articles are opinion pieces, with no facts, and yet no one questions her. The second someone comes on here and asks for clarification, they are crucified – oops…sorry, religious reference – that never happened, right! There is a place for modern medicine, and there is a place for ancient medicine. And there are plenty of studies that show how proper nutrition can CURE – omg did she just say cure without a study????? – common, modern day, PREVENTABLE diseases. But you keep listening to this woman. Have fun with your heart disease, diabetes and cancer, along with every other crap disease your negative energy will manifest – and when you do get sick, fuel your body with MEDICINE – it’s sure to make you FEEL better – but what is it doing to your body? Oh wait, nothing, because its all good for you! What a great source of entertainment you all have been. I would pray for you, but God apparently doesn’t exist.

        • momofone

          So I got cancer because of “negative energy”? And not just me–are you saying that babies with cancer are manifesting negative energy? Do you HEAR yourself?

          • Rosanna

            isn’t it frustrating when someone makes a bold claim about a big issue and has nothing to back it up? Quack Quack Quack

          • momofone

            So are you now saying that is NOT what you said?

          • Who?

            Ah, Rosanna. Not ‘I’m sorry you’re sick’; not ‘I hope you feel well soon’; not ‘I’ll be thinking positive thoughts for you’.

            Lovely. You are a fabulous advertisment for Big Hol. Keep at it.

          • Rosanna

            and if I were sick, you would be wishing me well? I didn’t know she had cancer, or if she still has it? I don’t wish sickness or pain on anyone – but there you go again, putting words in my mouth. If I were sick, you would all be rooting for my death.

          • Wren

            Wow. Talk about putting words into people’s mouths.
            I’m pretty sure no one here is r would be actively rooting for your death. Rooting for you to learn some critical thinking? Definitely.

          • yugaya

            No, I just want her to go away now. When someone exhibits such lack of basic humanity it makes me literally physically sick, and I just want someone to go ahead and nuke this planet into oblivion because people ain’t no good.

          • Who?

            All your words, not mine-you went straight to the sneer. Very christian of you.

            If you came on here saying you were sick, I would wish you well, because I think that is kind and courteous, particularly when someone has shared something so personal.

          • Stacy48918

            “If I were sick, you would all be rooting for my death.”
            Oh good grief, don’t be so melodramatic.

            “I didn’t know she had cancer”
            Well…she SAID IT in the post you responded to. Perhaps try…reading what people write?

          • momofone

            I don’t now, thanks. And seriously, the “rooting for my death” thing is a bit much.

          • Kq

            I for one am very happy to hear this!

            But now back to rooting for random internet trolls deaths. Because Rosanna claimed it’s true so she must have proof thats what we do. Otherwise she’d just be an ignorant, melodramatic asshole.

          • Amazed

            So happy for you! I’ve seen cancer personally and I cheer each time someone makes it through that.

          • Amazed

            Wow, someone has a quite the inflated opinion on themselves.

            Listen, you vile being, you aren’t important enough for anyone here to wish for your death. Besides basic empathy (I know, I know it’s hard to wrap Your Holy Head around the idea of something out of your reach), I want you alive and kicking so you can demonstrate the stupidity, heartlessness, and total self-absorbing of your ignorant greedy ilk further. I am sure I am not the only one.

            So sorry to break it to you but you are no threat to us. In fact, you’re an asset, a gem to our theory that wooists are cruel, heartless beings making their existance on robbing desperate people blind. Just because you’d be heartless enough to enjoy our pain and death – clearly, that’s the case, or else you wouldn’t have jumped to thinking that the reverse was true – doesn’t make us like you.

            Don’t drag us into your sewer, please. Not now and not the next time you cannot stick the flounce.

          • Wren

            I’m not sure she really does believe we would wish her ill, but that she is using that idea to justify her own terrible behaviour. It’s OK for her to not offer her own well wishes if she can pretend we would be even worse to her.

          • The Great Queen Spider

            Sounds just like a typical scam artist to me.

        • yugaya

          If I were you I’d start worrying – if you truly believe all that negative energy crap – about all the detectable envy, snide, snigger, snark and tendency to be extremely passive aggressive even when approached with best intentions, which is all present in your comments. YOU are the one who has been communicating in extremely negative manner with pretty much everyone all along.

          Do you wonder why that is that you are reacting in such manner, or do you not see it at all?

        • attitude devant

          Buh-bye, Rosanna. Please stick the flounce? Your studied disbelief and your mental laziness (we demonstrate to YOU that your pet beliefs are wrong?) are really, really tiresome.

        • Roadstergal

          “Modern medicine is not preventative”

          Well, if you’re not vaccinating…

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Ha Ha Ha Ha!!!!!

            So fucking typical. An anti-vaxxer complaining about “not preventative”.

        • Who?

          Stick the flounce, Rosanna, you can do it.

          BTW how anyone who claims to be a human being can show so little compassion as to look a seriously ill person in the eye and tell them that their ‘negative energy’ has caused their illness, and then that all they need to do is drop lots of money and lots of time in your pocket at the holistic health centre, beggars belief.

          Oh, and I am an atheist. Not because you can’t prove God, but because, if there is one, he or she is doing a horrible job.

          • yugaya

            My problem with God is not so much with him/her/them existing or not but with his/her/their sales reps like Rosanna. I can’t accept that type of coldhearted, deliberate ignorance as a part of the package.

        • S

          Physicians don’t recommend healthy diet anymore?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Physicians don’t recommend healthy diet anymore?

            Yeah, they are just pill pushers who treat symptoms. Unlike like those great holistic providers, who have you take a bunch of vitamin supplements and use homeopathy.****

            ****(note that homeopathy, by definition, “treats the symptoms.” That’s actually Hahneman’s whole basis for the Law of Similars)

          • Who?

            And those holistic providers ‘prescribe’ exactly what is on their shelves, which they profit from selling.

            Sooo ethical, right there.

        • Kq

          Why does it matter in the slightest if people here are atheist or not?

          • attitude devant

            (Tinkerbell is dying because people don’t believe in fairies!)

          • Kq

            Oh. Well I’m Afae. I don’t believe in fairies.

            *listens for tiny falling corpses*

          • Who?

            You don’t believe in fairies? What kind of monster are you??

          • Kq

            Clearly, since I’m fully vaccinated, I’m a She-Hulk.

          • yugaya

            You’re probably an atheist too, THAT explains it all.

          • Kq

            Guilty as charged, so I’m beyond all hope, eh? Enjoying my handbasket though!

          • Who?

            There must be sub-groups-where do the vaccinated atheists who believe in fairies belong?

            Do we need a separate handbasket or is there room in yours?

          • Kq

            My handbasket is roomy enough for fairy believers, provided they don’t expect me to clap my hands or rail a line of pixie dust.

          • Who?

            Sounds like we’ll get on fine.

          • attitude devant

            (gotta say, this is the funniest little thread on SOB evah!)

          • Amazed

            But you won’t mind my clapping or railing the line of pixie dust? Fine by me.

          • yugaya

            IDK, I think to her being an atheist equals some kind of cognitive incapacity or something like that…in any case, you being an atheist proves she is right…somehow. 🙂

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            In his book Flim-Flam, James Randi relates a story where he was testing the claim that some girl could read the newspaper blind-folded. After failing the test miserably, she broke into tears, and her mother grabs him in the hallway and screams, “What’s the matter with you? Don’t you believe in God?” He says something like, “For the first time in my life, I was at a loss for words.”

            That’s the thing. Somehow, exposing a scam as a scam is somehow anti-God.

            Even as a non-believer, that doesn’t make sense to me. Is your belief in God so flimsy that it requires the existence of unquestioned magic?

          • Kq

            Probably. The thing is, the majority of atheists would absolutely change their stance if empirical evidence of a diety’s existing emerged. I personally don’t care if people are of faith or not unless they are trying to dictate how *everyone* lives or are risking other people’s safety, or are harming others. I mean, one of my dearest friends is devoutly Mormon. I don’t share her beliefs but it’s utterly irrelevant to our 20+ year friendship. If faith gets you through the darkness, great. If you tell me it’s ok not to vaccinate because of God, or that interventions in birth are wrong because God, or that God told you it’s not okay for other people to be gay – I have a problem.

            I have a problem with Rosanna, and her snotty comments about MY beliefs (or lack thereof) are at the bottom of the list of reasons (though it is on the list)

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            (OT: When we went to Disney, I didn’t go to see Tinkerbell because I was standing in line for something else. I told everyone that security at Disney is so tight that they wouldn’t let me see Tinkerbell because the last time I went to Peter Pan, I didn’t clap hard enough to save her)

        • attitude devant

          I love this. We’re supposed to convince you? Whether YOU believe in it or not, reality exists, and is all around you.

        • moto_librarian

          HA. HAHAHAHAHAHA!

          Sorry, had to get that out of my system. So since you believe in god despite the absence of proof, we should also believe in “ancient medicine” which is also unproven? Thanks for summarizing why I became an atheist.

        • Stacy48918

          “but God apparently doesn’t exist.”

          Much like the proof for the alternative therapies you use to extract money from needy people.

        • Nick Sanders

          “Modern medicine is not preventative”

          You’re seriously going to try to claim that in the middle of a discussion about vaccines, of all things?

          • KarenJJ

            Modern medicine pays $15k per year on medication for me to prevent me suffering kidney failure and needing a transplant. Saying “modern medicine is not preventative” is the sort of ignorant and manipulative thing alt-med types say to try and discredit medicine.

          • Young CC Prof

            Once you’ve rejected all the preventatives modern medicine has to offer, (not just vaccines but things like statins) it isn’t preventative.

        • Alcharisi

          I WILL regret getting involved in this thread, but here goes.
          (Raises hand)–I’m a theist, of the Jewish variety. And I understand myself to be divinely commanded to work towards the preservation of life and the alleviation of suffering. That means, among other things, being scrupulously careful about rigorous standards of evidence for medical care, which in turn means deferring to experts in areas where I lack expertise.

          • Alcharisi

            All of which, I hasten to add, is beside the point, because claims about medicine =/= theological claims.

          • Kq

            Hey thiest, this atheist wants to give you a high five.

          • Alcharisi

            High five much appreciated!

        • Dr Kitty

          I wonder which common day preventable diseases, which can be treated by diet alone you mean Rosanna?

          Scurvy, rickets, type two diabetes, osteoporosis, coeliac disease, why yes, those absolutely can be treated or cured by the correct nutrition.

          Rheumatoid arthritis, MS, cancer, strokes, schizophrenia…not so much.

        • Francesca Violi

          Yes, I want to know if some stuff works before I use it to cure myself or my children, I am that close-minded! Of course I want studies: or should I just trust your word about the power of mysterious energies and vibrations? If they work so well how comes that nobody ever managed to prove it? By the way, how do you yourself tell if something works? Do you have some criterion to skim, or do you just buy anything on the word of the proponent?
          And about God, well… yes, I am an atheist but I am familiar with christian culture and religion, and believing in God does not imply you have to believe in all unsupported claims or superstitions. In fact, Catholic Church itself is openly critical of christians indulging in certain holistic disciplines and practices.

    • Taysha

      And you would be able to understand any scientific evidence…how?

      We can show you papers till we’re blue in the face. That doesn’t mean we can understand it for you, too.

      • Rosanna

        And you have said papers? Don’t worry about what I can understand. Show some proof.

        • Taysha

          Burden of proof is ON. YOU. Not on us. You claim this works. Please show your work for each answer.

        • Stacy48918

          Oh, interesting. Just last night you said “I’m not reading papers”. Appears that reading papers *IS* important to you.

          So, again, what exactly is your statistical training? What training have you had in medical literature and study design?

          And why, again, do you not trust the medical experts but instead think that YOU can read a “paper” and know more than they do?

    • attitude devant

      You ought to try Quackwatch.com. They keep files explaining the (non) science behind a lot of alternative therapies.

    • sdsures

      Another site to check out is http://whatstheharm.net/

    • Wren

      So….claims for vaccination need to be proven by vaccine supporters, and the hundreds of studies done are not sufficient to do so, but claims for “holistic health” need to be disproven by those who don’t support it.
      Interesting double standard there.

  • yugaya

    My reference value whether something being sold around as alternative health knowledge is quack or not is this: if it sounds like something that the great-grandmothers wise elderwomen summit sitting on the bench in front of the church in my home village would say or do to fix an ailment, it’s probably a good idea to run in the opposite direction and consult proper, modern medicine professionals.

    The tips on warding off vampires were solid though, I still use those. 🙂

    • attitude devant

      Oh please do share those! Anything besides garlic and silver? All I know comes from Bram Stoker, and it seems kind of hysterical (in the old-fashioned panicked about female sexuality sense of the word…).

      • Young CC Prof

        Hang horsehair braids from the corners of your house. Guaranteed to work, no one who has done this has ever been devoured in their beds by vampires.

        • Cobalt

          Try explaining that to the horse.

      • yugaya

        – you have to plant thorn bushes around the grave to prevent the vampire from getting out whole and pretending he is fully human (something about breaking their skin)

        – you put wine in the mouth of a deceased, especially if they were a mean person ( I’ve seen that done when I was a kid, the rationale behind that one is if their mouth is full of wine they won’t get thirsty for blood)

        -when dressing up the deceased, you pour salt on the clothes before putting it onto the corpse (seen that one too)

        -if a young man killed himself out of love then to prevent him from turning into a vampire a sort of dark wedding ceremony is organised with the girl he killed himself over, and she is considered to be married for a year after that and treated as a married woman.

        -you always take one road to the cemetery during funeral and return home using a different one so that if the deceased turns into a vampire they do not know which road to take to get back home, also when you are visiting for all saints days the graves of someone you do not like you will do the same to prevent them from coming back to haunt you in your dreams

        There is so much of that I’ll try to look up a source better than myself and tell you more. These superstitions from my childhood are so powerful that whenever my kids were small and got ill I would instinctively, without thinking, start putting their underwear on in reverse until they got better. That is supposed to confuse evil spirits and according to the wise elderwomen council the cause of all illness are evil spirits summoned on you by someone who is envious.

        • attitude devant

          Ahh! Very much like the idea of the Evil Eye in Mediterranean cultures. I trained with a bunch of South Philadelphia Italian-American nurses. None of whom would have a baby shower or even buy stuff for the baby before birth, because the Evil Eye might see and hurt the baby.

          • yugaya

            Yep, not buying anything for the baby before birth is the norm too. Also, to further confuse the evil demon who grabs ( kills) newborns, whenever you see someone’s baby for the first time you are supposed to spit three times and say “Ugh what an ugly child this is” because demons like beautiful babies and will leave the child alone if they overhear you. It always left me feeling totally awkward when this happened while I was pushing the pram, you sort of want to punch the person saying that at your child despite being culturally conditioned that it is acceptable.

          • Amazed

            When my mom took brand new me in the village street, she was warned of a certain witch whom she should avoid out of fear of giving me the evil eye. To everyone’s horror, Mom did not run away at the sight of the woman, pram and all. And the witch must have been in good mood that day because she said I was clearly a very docile child, no bother to my mom at all, and then gave me a coin so I could buy a baby brother.

          • yugaya

            “and then gave me a coin to buy a baby brother.”

            Awesome!

          • Amazed

            The truly awesome part was that it WORKED!

          • yugaya

            You could sell that as ancient alternative infertility treatment. 🙂

          • Amazed

            I will! I will! Thanks for the idea!

            ETA: Or maybe not. Shades of Ina May and “her” maneuvre.

          • Amy M

            K’ninehara-p’p’p! (transliteration, not sure what the Yiddish actually is) One of my grandmothers used to do that often–ward off the evil eye, and the p’p’p is spitting (only she didn’t spit, she actually said p’p’p).

          • Dr Kitty
        • Amazed

          Great ideas all around! Think we can apply them to the OBgyn who had several complaints against him in as many years, presided over a preventable homebirth death, was stripped off practicing without supervision, and returned with a brand new birthing center? If that doesn’t sound like a vampire, I don’t know what does. Even his name is fitting!

          • yugaya

            You are right, the living people, if especially evil, can also become vampires.

  • namaste863

    Granted, this is strictly anecdotal, but I do think chiropractic medicine has its place. No, it doesn’t magically improve organ function, or do even a quarter of the stuff they claim it does, but I and both of my parents have used it on occasion when we have pinched off nerves in our backs when we’ve tweaked vertebrae. Went to the chiropractor who popped the vertebrae back into place, and boom, no more pain. And I am as mainstream medicine as you get.

    • nomofear

      Physical therapists will do the exact same adjustments as chiros – they just can’t call them adjustments for legal reasons. The difference is that you don’t have to go through the whole spiel when you go to a physical therapist, which is always nice! Plus, they’ll give you exercises to do at home to continue healing. Sometimes chiros will do that too, but not always.

      • Roadstergal

        This. I’ve had PT to recover from injuries, and they do such a wonderful job to make the little aches and pains and tightnesses go away. With their hands and with the exercises/stretches they prescribe.

        On the topic of childbirth – the wonderful PT I have now does beautiful scar work to get the skin un-tight (I’m not a PT, I don’t know the technical stuff) around my collarbone plate scar (now doubling as a collarbone-plate-excision scar). She says she does the same for women with C-section scars regularly, to get everything down there loose and supple again.

        • Young CC Prof

          I wound up going to PT like 2 months after my c-section.

          Best. Idea. Ever.

          They worked me, let me tell you. When I started, I couldn’t plank for more than like 4 seconds without landing on my face, and after a month, my muscles were pretty much doing what they should have.

      • just me

        Except usually you go to PT based on an rx from an md who will oversee your care. With a chiro you’re letting someone with essentially 2 years of jr college mess with your body and there’s no one overseeing them.

        • nomofear

          Amen!

      • Kazia

        The chiropractor I went to wasn’t at all wooey, and did similar stuff as my physical therapist. I felt my PT was generally more knowledgeable about muscle stuff, though–and a lot of my issues are muscular. When I went to the chiropractor, it was only $40 and I didn’t have insurance. I couldn’t afford a PT then. Now I have insurance so I have more options.

        Plus my PT gave incredible massages.

    • jhr

      It depends upon the chiropractor. The best will provide the equivalent of physical therapy, without the woo. Others make fantastical claims about their field that have no basis in evidence-based medicine.

      • namaste863

        I guess I got lucky then. 2 years ago, I moved from Los Angeles to a small town in Northern California, Sonoma County to be specific, which is a bastion of woo. There are at least five chiropractors in the area, but the nearest physical therapist is about 45 miles from me. This guy has been very upfront about the fact that chiropractic medicine is good for spinal adjustments and sciatica, but doesn’t have any significant effect on organ or endocrine function. The bummer is that insurance obviously doesn’t cover it. Other than that, my healthcare team is all in LA because the doctors up here pretty much suck. Strangely enough though, in my town there are as many vets as chiropractors and I’ve been very impressed by the quality of veterinary care. Go flippin figure.

    • MegaMechaMeg

      I can sympathize. I am pretty mainstream as well and I accidentally have a lot of the crunchy trappings. I have pretty severe allergies to pretty much everything so I like to make my own lotion just so I don’t spend $10 only to break out in hives and I like essential oils. Not for their imaginary curative properties but because they smell crazy good and by just buying the ones that I know are safe I can make my apartment smell good without having a bad reaction. I have been thinking about visiting a chiropractor to deal with some back issues but I am afraid of ending up with a quack who will waste my time aligning my chakras instead of my spine. I always end up chickening out and just getting a massage instead. Less expensive and they don’t pretend that they can fix my allergies with spine magic.

      • Bugsy

        I was just thinking the same thing. I use some essential oils…but strictly because I love the scent and not because they might be magical in healing. I have zero inclination that they can be used in place of modern medicine, and generally avoid anything that runs directly up against medicine/science.

        • MegaMechaMeg

          In a pinch I will put vanilla into my essential oil diffuser. That is how many shits I give about their healing power 🙂

          • Bombshellrisa

            Hey, vanilla and a pinch of cinnamon and clove “healed” my home. Well, they covered up the lingering smell of my fantastic and rather pungent chili garlic wasabi wok seared green beans, and that was healing enough for me.

          • MegaMechaMeg

            Mint and vanilla remove the airbourne toxins inherant to having cats.

          • KarenJJ

            Vanilla air freshener helped “heal” our home when our toddler threw up on the couch an hour before our first home open when we were selling our house.

        • S

          I’m down with the idea that a pungent aroma can help a stuffy nose, which in turn could help stabilize the mood of the person living with the whiny sick person.

        • Amy M

          I think certain scents could also be relaxing, but still that’s not going to cure any disease. But relaxing is always good.

      • Amy

        I’m actually pretty crunchy aside from things like work and healthcare….a lot for political/economic reasons. We belong to a CSA and I grow and can a lot of our food, and I make a lot of gifts and things from scratch. For that reason, count me in on the essential oil love. Because they smell good, full stop.

        As someone who suffers from migraines fairly regularly, it infuriates me to no end when a well-meaning crunchy friend will recommend mint or lavender or God knows what else to help with my headaches. Um, no. You know what helps my migraines? Imitrex and opiates. I prefer the former obviously.

    • Cobalt

      Chiropractic adjustments feel good, at least for me. That has value

    • journalgal2

      I agree. I am firmly on the side of science, but when I had major back issues that resulted from a rib being out of place, chiropractic care helped. It didn’t fix the underlying issue (physiotherapy and exercise did) but damn, having a chiro get that rib back where it needed to be for the short term was a lifesaver. Saved me from incidents like the one where I cried on the floor of a bookstore because it hurt too much to stand.

      But as I said, it didn’t FIX the issue, just relieved the symptoms for the short term.

    • Taysha

      Chiropractic medicine can work for mechanical issues. I don’t think people argue about that too much, it’s effectively well-placed traction.

      but it can’t cure cancer, and that’s where the line gets blurred. I’ve proposed chiropractors for a friend with bad headaches caused by teeth grinding, but I also suggested a mouth guard.

    • yentavegan

      Chiropractor nearly killed my husband… It’s a long story but to sum it up husband was going once a week for a year for back pain due to a bus accident… what we did not know was the pain was his gall bladder spilling stones into the common bile duct by the time my husband’s pain was no longer responding to the chiropractor’s treatments his body was backing up and drowning in his own bile!

  • GiddyUpGo123

    “I know my body better than any doctor does” is something you hear a lot from the natural/homebirth crowd. It’s also insulting to anyone who has ever had a dangerous or difficult to diagnose disease. If all people really “knew their bodies” the way the quacks claim they should be able to do, then no one would ever die from ovarian cancer, which typically doesn’t get diagnosed until at least stage III because it has no symptoms or mild, easy-to-ignore ones. Imagine if it was true, that everyone could really have perfect insight into their own bodies. No need for mammograms, pap smears or cancer screenings of any kind. When that first cancer cell starts to divide, you will know right away and get it taken care of. What a wonderful world it would be.

    • Amy M

      I wish. It’s a year this month that a friend of mine died of ovarian cancer (that metastasized all over). She was 36. But she wasn’t a woo-fiend—she got excellent treatment, but like you said–they caught it too late.

      Of course cancer is one of the areas where woo abounds. Another friend lost his wife to colon cancer just 3 months ago(she was 47). He told me all the crazy stuff that people said. Some of it was well-meaning–those that suggested prayer in addition to her top-of-the-line treatment at a leading cancer facility in the US. Most was just ignorant, but that kind of “advice” tends to come across as mean and victim-blaming: “You must have eaten too much sugar!” “You need to quit that chemo, it’ll kill ya faster than cancer, and try this herb concoction!” “Positive energy!”

      • momofone

        Oh, the “positive energy” BS! I was diagnosed with colon cancer at 29 (many years ago), and my mother died last year after a 13-year battle with it. The number of people who threw out “You just have to be positive!” even as she was actually dying was unbelievable. There’s “positive,” and there’s real. We’ll stick with the latter.

        I’m so sorry about your friend’s wife.

        • attitude devant

          Hate that shit! I thought that idea was effectively killed when Barrie and Peter Cassileth studied it in the 80s and failed to show any effect of mood on cancer treatment responses. Of course, I do note that Barrie is now at Memorial Sloan Kettering as their director of alternative therapies, so I guess old ideas died hard with her.

          • Bugsy

            It’s unfortunately still alive and well. The front-page article on one of the free mainstream papers up here in Vancouver this week was about a 33-yr-old guy who overcame terminal cancer through positive thinking, meditation, reiki and yoga. A pretty short, medically dubious article that glossed over pretty much everything.

          • attitude devant

            Link?

          • Bugsy

            Had to find the newspaper downstairs first. 🙂 This article is highlighted on the front page of the print version:

            http://www.straight.com/life/818966/cancer-survivor-boosts-mind-body-medicine

            This comment particularly stood out at me: “The way he explains it, he opened his heart and healing followed without radiation or chemotherapy.”

          • momofone

            I remember someone saying something to my mother about being positive, I think during her first round of surgery and chemo, and she looked at them with this wonderful are-you-kidding-me stare she had and said, “I’m positive that listening to this is not helpful. Thanks so much for coming by.”

          • attitude devant

            LOL! That’s AWESOME! It’s like that scene in Terms of Endearment, where the doctor says, “I always tell people to look for the best and expect the worst.” And Aurora replies, “And they let you get away with that?”

          • Young CC Prof

            There is an xkcd for everything. Especially BS.

            http://xkcd.com/828/

          • momofone

            I like that!

    • attitude devant

      I hear this one all the time from people refusing mammography and colonoscopy. Yep, the point is picking that cancer up BEFORE you have symptoms.

    • MegaMechaMeg

      I can’t even make my body catch a gently thrown ball or walk quickly down stairs. How the hell am I supposed to do a mental MRI?

    • Montserrat Blanco

      My job as a doctor would be SO easy if people knew what was going on with their bodies…

    • Sanveann

      A friend is married to a doctor, and he says when people tell him that, he tells him, “No, -I- know your body. Just because you drive your car doesn’t mean you know how it works. Your mechanic knows how it works.”

    • mishabear

      In my opinion, to go the other way (“docs know best/everything”) is akin to “Jesus take the wheel”…. Sure docs know more about the human body…but I really do know more about the particulars of MY BODY. For example, my OB diagnosed my HELLP Syndrome at 33 weeks, but I caught and brought to her attention the “high” blood pressure that led her to send me for blood work. It was 120 over something. My BP was consistently 100 before. Since 120 is normal, in fact pretty good, she didn’t notice that anything was wrong until I pointed it out. Of course, good on her for not dismissing me out of hand either — I had no classic symptoms of HELLP.

      Anyway, everyone should be on top of their own medical history. You are one of hundreds of patients that a doc may have. If something seems off, bring it to their attention even if you feel you may be “insulting” them in some way.

  • Young CC Prof

    Are you trying to set a new record for trolls per hour? I think this post might do it.

    • Trixie

      I’m looking forward to a fun afternoon!

      • Amy M

        If the trolls are from the Northeast US, they might have nothing better to do. We’re having another crazy snowstorm. According to the tv news, this should bring our snow total from the last 2 weeks to 5ft.

        • Trixie

          Oh, sorry. Just a bit of freezing rain here.

        • attitude devant

          Pouring rain in the PNW too!

          • The Great Queen Spider

            Is that a new thing there? Lol

        • Cobalt

          I am so glad I don’t have that in my backyard. 5ft is just too much.

        • Amy

          Word. I teach in a public school. Two kids, both off from school, husband an IT professional who’s working from home. Fourth snow day here. I’d do more cleaning, but that gets REALLY old.

  • Ash

    This is sadly a quote from a news article:

    “Anything I’m not vaccinating for, I’m well aware they [my children] might
    get,” said Yoo, a real estate agent. “With measles, if they get it,
    fine.”

    Damn. This is stone cold.

    • Young CC Prof

      No, probably just ignorant. You watch your kid with colds, stomach bugs, whatever. You watch them get sick for a few hours and then bounce back and start running around the living room like nothing ever happened. If you haven’t seen VPDs, you don’t get that we’re talking about a different level of sick.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Nah, I don’t get it.

        I’ve seen my kids with colds, stomach bugs, whatever. I hated every minute of it. I wish there was a way they didn’t have to go through it.

        My kids had a 12 hr stomach bug last week. I felt awful for them, and told them both, many times, “I wish there were something I could do to make you feel better.”

        I wouldn’t wish a 12 hr stomach bug on anyone. We put up with it because we have to. Having to deal with something a lot worse? No way.

        • Montserrat Blanco

          Sometimes I see them as profoundly selfish, as I do when the natural childbirth advocates talk. Some of them care about themselves having as less interventions as possible but they do not care about their babies maybe ending up at the NICU or with a life long dissability due to a birth complication. Some anti vaxxers do boast about “pure” and “no chemicals” because they feel different and special and they do not care their child might be deaf or suffer from a preventable illness.

      • attitude devant

        My parents met while working at Cook County hospital. They were terrified of infectious disease and huge vaccine advocates. I got vaccinated so many times against polio (all the new iterations of the vaccine) that I’m sure that I emanate antibodies (that’s a joke!). Measles is just the beginning. Imagine diptheria, or haemophilus influenzae, or tetanus sweeping over us. A Starship Children’s Hospital (New Zealand) spokesperson was quoted recently as saying that they are seeing FIVE full-blown cases of tetanus every year. What kind of idiot does not protect their kid against tetanus? “Oh Johnny, don’t get a scrape—remember when Susie had to be in the ICU for three months and then in rehab for a year?” At least tetanus isn’t contagious…

        • Ash

          The same person who I quoted above said she did have her kids vaccinated for tetanus, as they lived in a rural area and considered themselves at higher risk.

          Yep, relying on others around you to keep you protected from vaccine preventable diseases…that might not hold up forever at this rate.

          • attitude devant

            Well, at least she has SOME sense.

        • Theoneandonly

          Well when you have websites like this – as provided to me by a nonvaccinator when recently questioned about what they would do about Tetanus – they believe that they can avoid tetanus by being all natural, but then avoiding nature
          http://www.beyondconformity.co.nz/resources/tetanus

          Dubious all round methinks.

          • attitude devant

            Where do you even start? It’s like that line about the newspaper story where every word was a lie, including “the” and “and.”

    • momofone

      And the implied part is, “And if your kids do too, eff you.”