10 Reasons why you shouldn’t use natural remedies

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Katie Tietje (nom de quack Modern Alternative Mama) continues to grace us with her own charming brand of scientific illiteracy. Because, really, who doesn’t consider someone with no scientific knowledge and no medical training to be an excellent source of medical advice?

Recently she offered 10 reason for using natural remedies. Paradoxically they are actually reasons why you SHOULDN’T use natural remedies.

To wit:

1. Natural remedies don’t work.

I’m a skeptic. The definition of a skeptic is not someone who is skeptical in the colloquial sense. A skeptic is someone who demands proof. If natural remedies actually worked, there would be studies that show that they actually work, but there aren’t any. And it’s not because no one has looked.

According to Mielczarek and Engler in Measuring Mythology: Startling Concepts in NCCAM grants:

Since herbs are natural, they must be safe. Kind of like heroin, cocaine and tobacco.

Using data from the NIH website,we studied all NCCAM funding awards from 2000 to the present. We found no discoveries in alternative medicine that justify the existence of the center; Congress has mandated into the health care bill the tax burden of paying for myths and commercial interests.

Billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on testing botanicals, yoga, magnets, and distance healing as interventions for serious medical problems such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and cancer…

Did Americans really need to spend millions of dollars to learn that“distance healing” cannot cure brain cancer or HIV/AIDS; shark cartilage does not affect the survival rates of cancer patients; vitamin E and selenium do not mitigate prostate cancer; magnets are not useful for fibromyalgia or carpal tunnel syndrome; and clinical trials using coffee enemas combined with heavy vitamin supplementation for patients with pancreatic or prostate cancer are unsafe?

2. They’re not safe.

Tietje operates on the delightful misapprehension that because herbs are natural, they must be safe. Kind of like heroin, cocaine and tobacco.

3. You get what you pay for.

According to Tietje:

Here’s another cool thing — herbs are very affordable. They’re often $1/oz. or less (and an ounce of dry plant material is a lot). Even prepared remedies are often $20 – $30 for a small bottle, which usually will last for months to years. Herbal remedies can be stored longer than most OTC medicines, and can be taken by multiple family members…

Amazingly, they cost no more than food because that’s all they are.

4. Altie-shills like Tietje make them easy to buy.

This is not an advantage for anyone except altie-shills like Katie who profit from selling ground up leaves to gullible people.

5. You can pretend that they are customized just for you.

That’s not especially compelling when they don’t work in any formulation, regardless of whether the formulation was customized for you.

6. A sure sign of quackery is a treatment advertised to cure many different unrelated types of pathology.

Katie says:

Ginger can be used for colds, flu, inflammation/pain, upset stomachs, cancer, and more! Lavender can be used for burns, promoting relaxation, headaches, and more. Herbs are so versatile that it’s possible to have only a few common ones around and still be able to treat many different things.

And if you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I’d like to sell you.

7. Anyone who believes that curing cancer is a do it yourself project is a fool or worse.

According to Katie:

I love knowing that if someone isn’t feeling well, I have what I need in the kitchen to whip up something to make them feel better in minutes. That’s just awesome.

No, that’s just moronic.

8. It makes no difference that you control the ingredients when none of the ingredients are efficacious.

9. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Such as:

I know — when you’re brand new to natural remedies, it can seem really intimidating. But I promise, they are easy. Most only require a few ingredients, and come together in just a few minutes. Even the ones that take longer really only need time to sit — not active time from you.

But Katie saved the best reason for last.

10. Katie can profit from your gullibility!

See!

In about a month, Natural Remedies For Kids is coming. It’s a beautiful, full-color guide to making and using your own natural remedies (and despite the title, they’re for the whole family). It’s also my first traditionally published book. 🙂

See, I once was totally intimidated, too. I wished I had an experienced mama to come alongside me and show me how to get started. That’s why, after 6+ years of experience with using and preparing natural remedies, I wrote this book!

You’ll learn all about the basic preparation methods — teas, decoctions, infusions, tinctures, salves, lotions, and more. Plus, which herbs to start with in your natural medicine cabinet.

My advice? When contemplating buying and using natural remedies, keep in mind that famous ancient saying:

A fool and his money are soon parted.

Those are truly words to live by.

  • ♥A♥T♥W♥A♥

    I hope to never see you on aspirin. After all it’s just willow bark, it could never really WORK! 😉 Medical paternalism is hurting and even killing good people. My heart goes out to every mother and child harmed by over-intervention.

    ~Obladi

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      Aspirin is standardized, so you know how much your getting. A willow’s bark could differ just because the summer was wetter than usual.
      No one ever denied that a lot of medicines are based on plants. The ones that work are either medicine or really obscure. Rosemary is neither and vitamin c cannot cure anything but scurvy

    • Nick Sanders

      Except it’s not “just willow bark”. It’s the active ingredient of willow bark, salicylic acid, made via chemical synthesis, purified, and treated with acetic anhydride to form acetylsalicylic acid, which if what I’ve read is correct, is faster acting and produces less stomach irritation. The acetylsalicylic acid is then measured into a precisely controlled dose that is displayed accurately on the container.

  • Melissa Wickersham

    Fruit smoothies are delicious food. So even if the safe ineffective herbal remedies are just food, they are delicious food.

  • Melissa Wickersham

    Ah, but natural remedies such as herbal tea…are delicious and tasty! Tea and herbal teas are delicious refreshing beverages.

    • Nick Sanders

      Some are, others contain unmeasured amounts of pharmaceutically active compounds, which can interact with medications being taken or just cause problems on their own.

  • Naxx1978

    Weed is natural, and heroin and cocaine actually are not what cause the most damage to the body, it’s what they step on it with, that’s why both are used as/in medicine. I’m not a naturalist but I’m not stupid enough to trust big pharm. It’s amazing how almost every drug that helps on one end kills you on another.

    • It really isn’t that amazing, Naxx.

      Anything powerful enough to help you is powerful enough to hurt you.

      No main effects is the only way to have no side effects.

  • Aztek DJ

    This woman must be a Big Pharma troll, nature provided and it does..!!

    • Nick Sanders

      Nature also provided all of our illnesses and problems.

      • Aztek DJ

        Yes that’s why it supplies us with cures & remedies for the natural illnesses and problems it creates..!

        Though not all illnesses and problems are created by nature are they!
        We had ‘Mad Cow’ disease in the UK and that was because nature kicked back at the bad practices being employed in our farms.

        Then we have AIDS a biological weapon created by the Americans (which they have a cure for), and more recently ‘Swine Flu’ also created by an American firm, the same company whom supplied the antidote funny enough..!!

        Sadly this is just scratching the surface of what Big Pharma will do to keep their income flowing in..!

        Then we have their products, which after all the Research & testing; “on animals” I might add, have more side effects then you can throw a book at….”WHY”??

        I’ll tell you why, it’s because without illness these companies go bust, so they have to keep the production line running, which guarantees the sale of their products..

        Why would they bring in laws banning natural products and vitamins making them illegal?
        Cannabis has been illegal for years and still is to most, because we are told it’s a dangerous drug ‘ballshit’!

        The real truth is that Cannabis Oil can cure 90% of all cancers, which currently to Big Pharma is a multi-billion pound industry and if you don’t believe me. I suggest you check this out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cancer_Act_1939, it’s an act restricting the amount of options you can try to find a cure for cancer, why would they have such an act..?

        Nick I think it’s time to do some research, as all is NOT what it seams..!!

        • Who?

          Ebola, so natural, I understand there were many alternative health providers over there in the hot zone, saving lives and making breakthroughs. And they are being unusually modest about all their efforts. Oh wait…

          So good of the natural health community to give away their wonderful products, since profit making is so wicked-oh that’s right, vitamins, cannabis oil and whatever other useless potions are very expensive, and the companies that sell these products are some of the most profitable. And not unrelated to Big Pharma, who not being stupid, love a bet each way.

          • Aztek DJ

            Mmmm another mindless moron quoting things they were told by the bias paid off mass-media..!!

            I believe there was a natural strain of Ebola in 1976, though the strain in 2014 was different and could of been man made..

            Answer me this……..
            Quote: US Government holds a patent on a strain of the Ebola virus known as Bundibugyo (EboBun) that was found in Uganda. The patent, awarded in October 2012 to five scientists led by Jonathan S Towner.
            And why does USA providing military troops to effected countries in Africa rather than providing medical support?
            And all the vaccines invented by promising candidates( according to Wikipedia) is yet to be approved by United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
            And USA also has a history about not treating people even though they had the cure (see Tuskegee syphilis experiment).

          • Who?

            Do tell us so much more. Wikipedia is of course the best source for all Very Important Stuff.

            Keep talking, you’re doing a great job in the service of actual medicine.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Keep talking, you’re doing a great job in the service of actual medicine.

            I don’t know, the claim that the label “conspiracy theorist” is the result of a government conspiracy has to be one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.

          • Roadstergal

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4meFC1ee7Q

            I can never decide if I like that one or the moon landing one best. I only wish they had done one for Suppressing Cancer Cures.

          • Aztek DJ

            They did it’s called the The Cancer Act 1939, research it..!!

          • Aztek DJ

            A little more info on big phama’s chemotherapy the cure for cancer.? Make your own minds up, there’s away two sides to every story.!

            https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/chris-wark-no-chemo-video/

          • Aztek DJ

            Yeah for a sheep I suppose it would be, though for someone who can apply critical thinking it would be a different matter..!!

          • momofone

            Which would appear to completely rule you out.

          • Aztek DJ

            Mmmm most definitely, so what are you a sheep or critical thinker..?

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Careful, if you keep this up you might wake the sheeple:

            https://xkcd.com/1013/

          • Aztek DJ

            Says the sheep..!

          • LibrarianSarah

            The funniest thing of all is that in his blundering he almost stumbled onto the real truth that all conspiracy theories are the result of a government conspiracy to keep the rabble down by convincing them that the government is a secretive, all powerful force capable of assassinating presidents, destroying the health of the entire population, and faking major historical events all without being discovered, instead of a loose conglomeration of institutions made up of a relatively diverse group of individuals many of whom don’t know their ass from their tits.

            /twilightzonemusic

          • Aztek DJ

            Yeah more is explained here, time to get educated…

            https://youtu.be/S10Aotp_tvo

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            I’m still trying to wrap my head around that he believes the government can keep all of these amazing discoveries under wraps and no one at any time has leaked any information when we can’t even catch the Wikileaks guy and our Secretary of State couldn’t be bothered to use a secure server for sensitive emails.

            He has way more trust in government competence than I do.

          • Aztek DJ

            They have though morons like you don’t listen, FFS man open your eyes and do some fucking research..!!

            Furthermore why don’t you watch the video link I’ve posted below to see the sort of psychopathic antics our lovely Government’s get up to…!!

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            I have done my research. It’s called a library. With books. From multiple authors. We used them back in the days before Wikipedia.

            To see what I discovered concerning most conspiracy theorists, please refer to the attached picture.

            Also, fun tidbit, my grandfather worked for the government mostly on Dugway Proving Grounds during the Cold War. Were there secrets? Naturally. Didn’t want the Russians to get their hands on him and his work or any of the other scientists. However quite a bit of his work is now declassified. So was it aliens? Mind controlling aluminum? No, mostly just using clouds of different materials to obscure planes and mess with radar. Ooo! So frightening!

            Now he wasn’t as nice as I am so he’d probably tell you grand government conspiracies like the supposed manufacture of HIV consists of two elements: Dick and shit. Now “conspiracies” like CIA agents dressed like hobos staked out somewhere? Far more likely and he knew some of those guys. Didn’t like them much actually. Said they were the scum of the Earth.

            I on the other hand will ask why you’re wasting your time railing against “sheep” who obviously aren’t interested in your lunatic ranting instead of going and propping up the falling sky somewhere else? If things are as dire as you’re screaming it to be I’m sure it can’t wait.

          • Daleth

            I love how you get your (mis)information from Wikipedia when simply typing different letters in your search bar would take you to a reputable source, such as:

            – The US Patent Office (www.uspto.gov), where you’ll see there isn’t any such patent;

            – The part of the US PTO website where you can search patent applications (http://portal.uspto.gov/pair/PublicPair), which will tell you that an application was filed in 2008 but it expired and never matured into (became) a US patent;

            – Snopes.com, which provides the number of a Canadian patent that was granted (here’s a direct link: http://brevets-patents.ic.gc.ca/opic-cipo/cpd/eng/patent/2741523/summary.html) and explains that:

            “The CDC [Centers for Disease Control] does hold some patents on life forms, but it generally does this for the common good, so a commercial company can’t come along and patent it. The CDC lets researchers work with the strain without fees.

            Until the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision on isolated genetic material, the ambiguity involved made such patents a potential necessity. In light of it the CDC’s intent in patenting Ebola appears to be far less nefarious.”

            http://www.snopes.com/politics/medical/ebolapatent.asp#hm7moGP07lR4yefP.99

          • Aztek DJ

            Thanks for the info, nice to see you do your research.!

            Though your point about misinformation I find quite interesting as most if not all commercial mainstream TV, papers and media fuel propaganda through misinformation..

        • SporkParade

          So natural remedies only work if you also believe in conspiracy theories. Good to know.

          • Aztek DJ

            Proper brain dead….. The term ‘conspiracy theorist’ was created by government to discredit people who were out to expose them and the truth..!!

            So you make your own mind up, I’m sure sheep mentality will apply..!!

          • SporkParade

            You have GOT to be a Poe.

          • Aztek DJ

            Whatever that means… All I know is that I can think outside of the box, can actively research and apply critical thinking and do not take for granted what I’m being force feed..!!

        • Aztek DJ

          P.S. Another little scam Big Pharma have running all backed and broadcasted via commercial TV, Radio & papers is this obsession for Cold ‘n’ Flu jabs, as Big Pharma know a large percentage will comply, where as a large percentage will not.
          Though sadly the large percentage who didn’t go for Cold ‘n’ Flu jabs, end up catching it from the ones that did..!! See it’s another win win situation for Big Pharma..!

          My proof on this is me. As I was working nights in a club environment a work colleague came in boasting that he just had his ‘Swine Flu’ jab, showing the paperwork with the Biochemical logo on it.

          To cut a long story short 6 of us caught “Swine Flu’ thanks to him…

          • Who?

            Do tell us more about this ‘cold’ jab of which you speak.

            So none of the club patrons or anyone else you had contact with had the flu and could have given it to you? Amazing.

          • Aztek DJ

            No they didn’t and as I’ve already said I got it from the moron who went and got the Swine Flu jab..!!

            My god there’s lots of brainwashed sheep out there and you seam to be another one..

            I cannot believe the amount of ignorant clueless people I’m having to reply to here..!

            I suggest you all do your homework & research on the points I have been saying, oh and please do it whilst stepping outside of the box and with an open mind..!!!

            This is the reason why our world is the way it is and is being run by a bunch of psychopathic paedophile mass-murdering fraudsters who are followed and protected by a bunch of fucking sheep..!!

            Wakey funking wakey people all is NOT what it seams..!!

          • Sarah

            Of course you did.

        • Nick Sanders

          You are certifiably insane. Good day.

          • Aztek DJ

            And you are an ignorant twat..! Insane you say, I suggest you look at out Governments for that department..!

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          Actually, you no longer have nvCJD because the NHS used very unnatural epidemiologic methods to figure out what was causing it and stop the mechanism of infection. The natural thing to do would be to keep doing the same thing until everyone who was vulnerable to the infection (cow or human) died out of it. See kuru, for example.

          And only a complete idiot would believe that HIV was a biological weapon. That dumb little virus can’t even live in air. What sort of bioweapon is it if you can’t drop it out of a plane and have it infect your target? What was the point of it? Who was it supposed to kill? Nope. It was just a retrovirus that got lucky and unlucky–lucky enough to be highly infectious to humans, unlucky enough to attract the attention of humanity.

          Oh, and what’s “natural medicine” done for HIV? Killed a bunch of people by convincing them to forego real treatment. Just ask Christine Maggiore. Oops, you can’t. She’s dead. Of HIV. As is her daughter.

  • Festus Okpa

    Indeed i never new CANNABIS OIL could cure cancer i thought it was the end of the road for me until i met with a friend (Steve) who introduced me to these sellers of CANNABIS OIL. (cannabisoilworldwide@gmail.com)
    i bought from them it was pretty expensive but had no option cause it turned out to be what i was looking for all long, a week after buying the CBS oil it was like a reborn for me.
    for purchase or sales partner contact CANNABIS OIL
    contact: (cannabisoilworldwide@gmail.com).

  • Anne

    Correction: I wrote “midwife” when I meant “lactation consultant”.

  • Anne

    Natural “remedies” can certainly be dangerous. Some remedies, such as homeopathic remedies (which are essentially packaged water) are detrimental when used in place of medications tested by the medical community, for treatable ailments.

    However, part of the danger in natural remedies lies in the fact that some herbal supplements actually do have active ingredients that are not regulated. There is no regulation in the quantity, or quality of the ingredients, and even worse they are often self-prescribed or prescribed by people who have no concept of pharmacokinetics or pharmacodynamics.

    My personal anecdote comes from the post-partum period. I was taking oxycodone for pain from a second degree perineal tear. However, my milk supply was also low (probably because of stress and uncontrolled pain) but the hospital-recommended midwife essentially forced me to take milk thistle to boost my supply.

    Exhausted and desperate, I followed the advice and had a resulting two weeks of inability to rouse from sleep, apneic spells and confusion that I couldn’t recover from. As the perineal laceration got better, I stopped taking the oxycodone.

    As my head cleared and I started studying for my anesthesiology board exams, I learned that while milk thistle has no evidence for increasing milk supply, there is evidence that is significantly inhibits cyp450 enzymes required for the metabolism of opiods. The result is a much longer duration of action for opiods and a contributor to my dysfunction.

    Yet, this lactation specialist–who had no concept of pharmacokinetics or dynamics–was forcing it upon the population with no concept of coexisting comorbidies or drug interactions. I was pretty furious. Had I been obese or had a history of sleep apnea, or perhaps if I didn’t have a partner to physically shake me awake, I could have suffered from respiratory depression.

    Natural remedies can be dangerous, but not always because “they don’t work”. Often, it is because they work but their dosages are not controlled or they work in unanticipated ways. Many drugs we have today are derived from folk remedies, for instance, aspirin was originally derived from the bark of a willow tree, which people chewed on to relieve headaches.

    The insanity about unscientific fear of chemicals needs to end and must be replaced with a healthy understanding of chemistry, which should be led by health care professionals who have spent years training to understand these complex reactions.

  • Beth Duren Lancaster

    The term “natural remedies” encompasses far too many different sorts of remedies to be written off as a whole. Saying, “they don’t work” is silly. You’re telling me that you don’t believe ANY natural remedy works for ANY ailment for ANY person? Being skeptical about ginger curing cancer is one thing, saying it doesn’t work for nausea is another. It may not work for everyone, but you can say that about many legitimate medical treatments. Take vaccines–just because they aren’t 100% effective is no reason to refuse to get them.

    Ginger helped my nausea during pregnancy–repeatedly. I really feel like many in the “skeptic” crowd are so (understandably) repulsed by the anti-vaxxers and people like Food Babe that they don’t want to accept any natural means of helping the body. Hell, parts of the birch tree are used in natural remedies due to the presence of salicylic acid which is in aspirin. Writing off all natural remedies is as pointless and unhelpful as writing off vaccines and any form of medicine because of Big Pharma.

    • Azuran

      well, you could say that at least 99.9% of them don’t work.
      Dr. Amy is not against natural remedy per say, none of us are. What we care about it proof. If something works, we don’t care if it’s a natural remedy. As long as there are real, well done, study showing that they do.

      • Who?

        Actually, if I may…

        By all means, use whatever you want on yourself. If you feel better using it, then do so.

        I think Dr T and others are aggravated by those who sell natural remedies as though they always work, as though they could never be dangerous, and as though they are always an effective alternative to actual remedies. Many of those people make a tidy profit doing so while castigating others for developing, testing and selling for profit things that contain what it says on the label and do what it says on the label.

        • Beth Duren Lancaster

          I completely agree with you there. Herbs, essential oils, etc. can be very potent and I’m extremely skeptical of anyone who doesn’t make that very clear. Using those sorts of remedies can be very risky when dealing with children, so caution should be exercised. It’s one thing to make an ointment for an ant bite, it’s another to try to whip up something in your kitchen when your kid really needs antibiotics.

          It’s certainly hypocritical (and all too common) for “crunchy” bloggers and the like to criticize pharmaceutical companies and doctors for making money when they’re selling their own supplements and recipe books. It’s fine to profit off medicine! They certainly shouldn’t think they’re better for doing so just because what they sell is natural.

      • Beth Duren Lancaster

        A study offers evidence; it doesn’t create truth. A natural remedy works or doesn’t work whether there’s been a study done or not. I’m sure there are remedies that work that have never been studied. Lack of a study =/= a remedy that doesn’t work.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          No, it means there is NO EVIDENCE that it works and NO EVIDENCE that it is safe, therefore it is unethical to prescribe it or profit from it.

          • Beth Duren Lancaster

            No, it means there’s not been a study. Anecdotal evidence is still evidence, although not conclusive or proof by any means, of course. It’s often the presence of anecdotal evidence that leads to studies being conducted about a particular claim. Saying there is no evidence because there hasn’t been a study is false (correct me if I’m misreading your meaning). I agree that profiting off a remedy that hasn’t been proven effective or safe is unethical.

        • Who?

          It does mean though that no one has bothered to study it. And why would they? Gullible people buy regardless of what’s inside (which, since it’s unregulated, doesn’t have to be what it says on the label), and regardless of the efficacy or not of what they say is inside.

          If a company or person is making tidy profits selling moonbeams, why would they spend any money at all to prove the moonbeams do what they say? Makes no sense at all from a business perspective. Which gives a nice window into the ethics and morals of those involved.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          Fair enough, but studies have been done on numerous “natural” remedies and by and large they have been found to be ineffective or inconsistently effective (probably due to inconsistent ingredients.)
          Furthermore, several studies have demonstrated that natural remedies sold in the US do not contain the ingredients listed on the label, so even if, say, St John’s wort helps for depression that stuff you’re getting in a bottle of “St John’s wort” from the health food store is unlikely to contain any relevant active herb.
          How many times do you have to find that naturopathy doesn’t work in case X before you start to feel like there’s a real pattern here?

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          Also, which remedies do you think have not been adequately studied and why do you think that they might work?

        • Azuran

          And those who make money selling natural remedies have the responsibility to prove that they work.
          Real medication has to go through trial to prove it’s efficacy and safety.
          Sure, there are probably a few of those natural remedy that have some effect. But no one knows. And unless you have proof that what you are selling is actually working, well, you are a fraud.

        • ♥A♥T♥W♥A♥

          Bull, don’t you remember that before Newton studied gravity we were all floating off the ground? 😉

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            In other words, you don’t have evidence for the nonsense you believe.

      • Bombshellrisa

        It’s interesting you bring this up, as many of those who peddle remedies refuse to turn over their remedies or the recipes for analysis or are unwilling to do a study properly. Hoxsey, Metbal, Greek Cancer Cure and many others that are still offered in the cancer clinics in Tijuana are there because they aren’t proven to treat anything, but people want to believe that despite the lack of evidence these are effective and better for you than chemo or radiation. Does anyone believe lemon juice, vitamin b, brown sugar and water could treat cancer? Then why bother doing a study on it?
        I did make a batch of my own “natural remedy” this weekend, for those of you who asked about the Hoosier Mama chocolate pie. This cures the blues, helps recharge creativity and makes husbands smile. (Remember to click view to see the pic below)

        • Who?

          I’d feel better after eating that.

  • etomaria

    I’m not going to read all 258 comments, but your refutation leaves something to be desired. I have no dog in the fight, I just happened here when an acquaintance linked to a c-section safety post. I clicked over to the 10 reasons FOR page and then read back and forth. For example, for number one, you indicate no proof, she has six links to studies. Then, for number two, she lists many herbs that are okay in huge amounts and for all ages, and some that aren’t, while noting the list isn’t exhaustive, you make fun of her for disregarding tobacco and cocaine. Really? This is your scientific (supposedly) refutation? Got anything better there?

    Maria

    • Young CC Prof

      Did you click on those six links? They don’t say what she claims they do. The studies that supposedly found anti-infective properties to mullein were performed in a test tube only, they did not establish safety or effectiveness in actual patients. In fact, it’s never been formally tested on actual patients, except for external use.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      You don’t consider a peer reviewer article on the usefulness of research sponsored by the NCAAM* to be evidence?

      *Spoiler: The answer is “none”. That is, no viable alternative therapies have been identified that stood the test of rigorous clinical trials.

  • Nikat

    Natural remedies can help with mild symptoms. Ginger helps with mild nausea and honey with cloves help sooth a little cough.

    But if you’re really sick, go see a doctor. Don’t mess around with your health!

  • yentavegan

    Natural/traditional herbs and roots lovingly administered as a tea caused a mother’s milk to dry up in a matter of days. Unknowingly the grandma brought this concoction from her native country and they were prepared specifically for a mother of a newborn baby girl. The herbalists who prepared this tea assumed that a baby girl is not the most desired outcome so this tea acts to dry up milk and return a mother to a fertile state….this episode was shared with me by a close relative of the mother .

    • Young CC Prof

      Patriarchy and paternalism, lovely! (Patriarchy because of course boy-children are better, paternalism because they didn’t ASK.)

  • Sue

    From Tietje’s list of “food additives to avoid” – hilarious!

    • Sue

      Oh – and she also does the old ethylene glycol/propolene glycol chemistry fail.

      • Mattie

        BUT IT SOUNDS SIMILAR, just like formula and formica and cellulose and cellulite and potassium nitrate and potassium cyandie…see, good decision making right there.

        Also, I just got angry because she suggested using palm oil instead of vegetable oil, clearly the rainforests and deforestation aren’t really a big deal…not compared to her avoidance of normal things.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Isn’t there a book called, “Grandma Called it Roughage” that is all about the importance of including cellulose in your diet?

    • Ardea

      Someone who didn’t pay attention in their biology class, obviously.

  • Kq

    WILDLY OT: Tara Ried just won the ultimate stuntbirth. Unassisted, inside a shark, while falling from outer space. Without even taking off her pants!

    #sharknado3

    • Mattie

      wow…didn’t even know they were making sharknado 3, sad that one day this will be one of the things society will be remembered for

      • Kq

        Sharknado movies make me happy to be alive.

        • Eater of Worlds

          Sadly, this one has jumped the shark.

          It’s an advertisement for Comcast. It is set at Universal Studios, owned by Comcast. You can get drunk in a few minutes of watching it if you drink to all the Comcast references.

          • Kq

            You say this about a movie where Ann Coulter surfs down stairs at the white house on a painting of Abraham Lincoln. Where they reenacted the photo at Iwo Jima while stabbing a great white shark with an American flag?!

            I can’t even.

          • Eater of Worlds

            The funny thing is all Asylum movies are made seriously. As in, they really think they are fantastic, and if you send in your idea for a movie and you joke about it, you’re on their bad side.

            The first one was awesome because there were no expectations. The second wasn’t as quite as good, but it was ok. The third one? It’s completely missing what made the first one great. I don’t even think I can watch the fourth one, which they are making.

          • Box of Salt

            I don’t suppose you enjoy the Airplane movies, or Naked Gun, or Scream. . . ?

            Sure, they “jumped the shark.” To an entirely different genre. Like Kq, I’m still laughing. And will watch the next one.

          • Kq

            Thank you!

            I loved every absurd minute of it. Especially Ian Zering’s absolutely serious performance. I thought the second and third were better because they were SO much sillier. The first one almost tried to justify itself but 2 and 3 embraced the stupid and went with it. And the cameos! Half the fun is yelling “hey, that’s [whoever]” and the other half is yelling, “WHAT WHAT WAIT WHAT?!!?! IS HE ON THE MOON??!”

            It’s a joy and I refuse to pretend otherwise.

            Add to that, my dear friend died two years ago – and the last visit I had with him, two days prior, was watching Sharknado. We still yell “WHAT THE SHIT JUST HAPPENED?!” in his memory.

            #AprilDies

          • Box of Salt

            Kq, since I’m still Disqus-free and can no longer upvote:

            “It’s a joy and I refuse to pretend otherwise”

            Exactly!
            #AprilDies

            (got it right this time, but still haven’t signed up for Twitter)

          • Eater of Worlds

            I do love the Airplane movie and Naked Gun movies. I just think that what made Sharknado funny is missing from this one. Parts of it were ok, but overall it just wasn’t like the first two.

    • Box of Salt

      #ashleydies. I might have to start a twitter account.

      Naaah. I’m still avoiding Disqus.

      • Box of Salt

        My bad!
        #aprildies.
        Not ashley.

  • Kesiana

    I wonder how these people would feel about antibiotics if they could easily be grown at home?

    …of course, one possibility I can imagine is flame wars over how to cultivate it! “I feel sorry for your children, because any mother that truly loved them would be using bread made with imaginary corn.”

    Has ginger gotten a bad rap among science fans, though? I cordially invite anyone who thinks it cures cancer to try it for themselves, but if you like the taste and are suffering from nausea, you’ll find the most well-known natural treatment for it is very tasty.

    • SuperGDZ

      I do like ginger and use both fresh and dried ginger frequently in cooking, but it doesn’t do anything for nausea in my experience.

      • Kesiana

        Some people seem to swear by it, but as with everything, your mileage may vary. 🙂

      • Medwife

        Ginger for nausea- at least pregnancy related nausea- is a cruel joke.

    • Azuran

      If they could grow their own antibiotic, they’d probably dilute them in water so much it wouldn’t work anymore.

    • Sarah

      Well there’s the old penicillin on mouldy bread thing…

      • Amy

        Someone’s been reading Outlander…. 😉

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      It also works quite nicely as a tea to help decongest if you have a cold. I put a teaspoon or so of ginger in a mug, add a shot or two of brandy, a dash of lemon juice, and a generous dollop of honey. Fill it with hot water, stir, and drink. It doesn’t make your cold go away, but it does seem to make it much shorter… *grins* Plus, it genuinely does feel good on a sore throat, and the ginger helps clear out the nasal passages a bit…and it’s yummmmy.

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

        Ah yes, the it won’t cure the cold, but you will no longer care “cure” my favorite!

    • Kq

      Your Night Vale is showing.

      ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY GLOW CLOUD

      • Kesiana

        ALL HAIL!

  • Mishimoo

    Lavender for burns?! Hell no, and if everyone in the online sewing group I’m in would stop suggesting lavender oil for second degree burns, that would be lovely.

    The only oil that went near my burn last year was almond oil in a heavy duty moisturising cream after it was healed to stop the new skin from drying out and cracking.

  • Froggggggg

    This is very relevant for me at the moment. I know someone (first hand, real life, not just a “friend of a friend” scenario) who was recently declared completely cancer free and cured after a cancer dx 2 years ago. They shunned all conventional treatment and went on a raw vegan diet instead. Of course, I’m thinking they were incredibly lucky, one in a million, and the cancer went away DESPITE the lack of treatment and the extreme diet, not because of it. I know there’s no point arguing about the huge risk they took… no point saying anything at all, really, except that I’m happy about the good news (which I am, of course)… But the smugness and the comments about money-grubbing doctors and the stupid people who listen to them are hard to take. I’ve never faced death the way this person did, so I’m trying not to judge, but oh gosh… I’ve had to bite my tongue… hard.

    • Young CC Prof

      Did they get surgery? Sometimes early-stage tumors can actually be totally cured with surgery.

      • Froggggggg

        Nope, no surgery. It was recommended as a first step, followed by chemo, but they decided against it.

        • KarenJJ

          That reminds me of Belle Gibson. She cured her “brain tumour” with eating the right foods.

          • Froggggggg

            Yeah, it’s very much along those lines, except Belle Gibson’s diagnosis is shady (“brain tumour”, as you say), whereas with this person, I know they went to hospital for biopsies, scans etc. to confirm.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          I wish she’d be willing to get some tests to see what really happened. These occasional “miracle cures” are really interesting and might be clues as to how to manipulate the immune system to make cancer more curable in general. Unfortunately, I’m guessing that she wouldn’t be amenable to any kind of study that might show that her cure was luck rather than “natural medicine”.

          • Froggggggg

            Probably not, but if it ever seems appropriate, I’ll mention it. Maybe I’ll have to approach it from the angle of “showing them how her miracle cure worked” or something… I’ll keep it in mind!

      • Tiffany Aching

        I know a woman who accepted the surgery for her breast cancer but refused the chemo her doctors advised (“because it’s poison”) and took some herbal quack cure. She is now cancer-free, thanks to surgery, and of course she believes that she has the herbal cure to thank for, and that she was right no to listen to the “medical establishment”. It is impossible to argue, of course – I don’t want to tell her that she willingly took the risk to make two young orphans and that she was fucking lucky to have a good OB who spotted the tumor when it was still small, a good surgeon who removed the whole of it while preserving her breasts, and a good tumor who was kind enough not to shed cancerous cells in her body.

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

          The really annoying this is that there is a small proportion of people for whom some chemo drugs are/can be nearly lethal, but thats why they do chemo in hospital in most cases. My father in law had colon cancer and had surgery as soon as they detected it. Once he recovered from the surgery he went for chemo. Turns out he’s one of the 3 or so percent that particular chemo drug destrys most of your white blood cells and platelets. They caught the problem and he’s fine but it was scary

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      I know of one person who was cured of pancreatic cancer on the “six pack and a fishing pole” plan: He was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer and, on being told his options and chances, said, “Never mind. Just give me some morphine for when the pain starts and I’m going to Florida to hang out.” A year later he came back saying, “Why am I not dead?” He was, as far as anyone could tell, cancer free at that point. Alas, this story does not mean that relaxing on the coast can cure cancer.

      • Froggggggg

        Wow! That is amazing. But yeah, as you say, it doesn’t mean it’s a cure. It would be nice though!

      • Allie

        Is it possible it was a misdiagnosis? I have no idea how pancreatic cancer is diagnosed and if misdiagnosis is possible, but it is my understanding it has a very poor prognosis even with aggressive treatment.

        • Roadstergal

          If pancreatic cancer has gone metastatic, it has a horrible prognosis with no good current treatment options. That being said, last I looked the 5-year survival was under 5% – which means a small subset of patients live longer than 5 years. So you’d expect to be able to find stories like that, and six-pack-and-fishing is a very reasonable option. You’ll enjoy the short time remaining if you’re not lucky, and it probably won’t change your chances of being lucky.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Five year relative survival for all patients with pancreatic cancer in the early 2000s was 7.6%. That includes those with early stage disease. Nasty disease.

            http://annonc.oxfordjournals.org/content/23/9/2428.long

          • Roadstergal

            Here we go – Stage IV, metastatic, has a 5-year survival rate of 1%.
            http://www.cancer.org/cancer/pancreaticcancer/detailedguide/pancreatic-cancer-survival-rates

            Which means two things – one, it’s a horrible diagnosis, and two, given the size of our population, you would expect to find case reports of people who fall into that 1% – whether they drank beer and fished, or whether they did the Gearson protocol.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            They’re oldish numbers, but I doubt that they’ve changes much. The improvement in survival, tiny as it was, in the early 2000s was probably all about earlier detection, not more people surviving per stage. Still, 1% is 1% and a few people do make it…if only we knew why.

      • RMY

        Normally when cells turn cancerous, your immune system kills it. Maybe the guy’s immune system coincidentally figured out how to identify the cancer cells more effectively when he was on vacation?

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          The follow up of this story is that, sadly, a few years later he died of listeria meningitis, which usually doesn’t happen in adults. It’s like his immune system went on periodic strikes. No known immune issues, but clearly something wasn’t working right.

          The one thing this anecdote does give me hope for is that maybe the immune system can attack pancreatic cancer and kill it, in the right circumstances. So maybe we can figure out how to make circumstances right more often. It’s working with melanoma.

          • KarenJJ

            Being on immunosuppressant medication as well as family history of melanoma, a childhood spent on the beaches in Australia, pale skin and already having had a basal cell carcinoma in my early thirties, I feel likely that it is a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ I get cancer. Luckily my specialists agree and I get regular skin checks. I don’t think eating kale is going to change anything for me.

          • Sue

            Isn’t there some new research about kale CAUSING cancer? Oh – wait – maybe that was prolylene glycol. I always get those two confused.

          • Young CC Prof

            In all seriousness, mega-doses of those antioxidant vitamins really do appear to increase the risk of cancer. Eating reasonable quantities of vegetables appear to decrease it, although overall the effect of diet on cancer risk is not huge.

            As far as we can tell. Epidemiological studies are hard.

    • Azuran

      Well, those miracle cures anecdotes could be a huge variety of things. Possibly a false diagnosis. Possibly it wasn’t as advanced as they thought. Possibly they were declared ‘cancer free’ by some kind of homeopathic doctor. Possibly they had cancer and their body took care of it.
      The body is actually very good at fighting cancer. it destroys multiple possibly cancerous cells basically all day long. Anyone working in medicine will tell you that there is no 100% in medicine. Someone, somewhere, is always going to beat all the odds and come back from what should be certain death.

      • Froggggggg

        Yes, that’s all very possible (as I said above, I’m not sure about a misdiagnosis due to the tests involved, but who knows). And even though the cancer is gone, I do wonder what toll it took on their body, because they don’t exactly look healthy. “Emaciated” comes to mind…

    • Roadstergal

      If you don’t mind me asking, what cancer and how was it diagnosed?

      • Froggggggg

        Breast cancer and the diagnosis seemed to go along the expected lines – mammogram first, then further tests (I’m not sure of all the exact details of those, but I know she had a biopsy and there was a CT scan as well), consultation with a specialist. So it was a “proper” diagnosis from what I can tell – I don’t know if there’s a chance of misdiagnosis even with a biopsy etc.?

        • Roadstergal

          Well, there are some biopsies that basically remove the cancer as part of the biopsy. Then, depending on the cancer, the doc might suggest adjuvant therapy like chemo to reduce the chances of remission – but that’s a numbers game, often you have much better than even odds even without adjuvant. Or it could have been DCIS, something non-invasive.
          If it were truly a miracle remission, I’d have thought her doc would have written it up as a case study for scrutiny, and without that information, it’s hard to evaluate. 🙂 What was the diagnosis? What did the oncologist lay out as the options? What _did_ she refuse? Who declared her cancer-free, and how?

          • Roadstergal

            DCIS is a fun one – it’s detected very well with mammography, and it’s treated like cancer because nobody wants to do the study where they just follow women with DCIS with no treatment, but it might be over-treated. This reference notes that a fair number of women with no breast cancer in life had DCIS on autopsy, suggesting it’s one of those diseases you die with rather than of.

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9412284

          • Froggggggg

            Very interesting, thank you! I will have to do some more reading about this.

          • Froggggggg

            Oh, so DCIS could be one of those “false positives” with breast cancer screenings we sometimes hear of? I really don’t know much about this. But yes, it was breast cancer (I didn’t get anything more detailed than that and I’m not really in a position to ask – in some ways I’m very close to this person and I see her/speak to her several times a week, in other ways we’re very distant – it’s complicated!), and the recommended options were surgery, followed by chemo, and I think radiation was also mentioned. I guess they just went through all the options that might have been necessary and she now says she refused all three although it may not have come to that, if you know what I mean. But I wasn’t at any of the appointments, so I don’t know the details – surgery was going to be the first step, and I know she got as far as seeing the specialist surgeon before pulling out of treatment and going the vegan route. I think the “cancer free” label just came from the family physician, but would have been based on the report of a radiology specialist who interpreted the recent CT scan.

          • Young CC Prof

            Usually that’s not what they mean by “false positive.” If you get a mammogram and it comes back positive, it means there’s something that looks suspicious. Then they do a biopsy, most of the time it’s nothing, but sometimes it comes back cancer.

            DCIS is separate, it really is cancer, the biopsy comes back positive, but it’s a very early stage, and we are fairly sure that a significant percentage of women with DCIS (and people with early cancer generally) will never develop invasive disease.

            Now, if only we could predict which early cancers were going to rapidly kill the patient and which would do nothing.

          • Froggggggg

            Makes perfect sense – thank you for the explanation!

  • Steph858

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMGIbOGu8q0

    This is one of the best arguments against woo.

    • Sue

      An oldie but a goodie!

    • KarenJJ

      I just finished reading “The Martian” the other day. The basic idea that an engineer/botanist gets stranded on Mars and needs to work out how to survive using the tools and equipment left behind and try and contact Earth etc.

      Luckily the guy left there had the science and engineering skills to try and work things out. Imagine if they’d left a homeopath, naturopath, chiropractor or some other science/reality denier. It would’ve been a much shorter book I’d imagine. I imagine that’s why homeopaths don’t go into space or on expeditions. Must be fun being at the forefront of a science that was abandoned over 100years ago as opposed to the things we’re learning about the world now.

  • Dr Kitty

    OT:

    Saw my OB today for my 34w appointment.
    Baby somewhere between 50th and 9th centile, and we have an ERCS booked for 39w exactly!

    My OB was right when he said it would be a short chat this time.
    “Still want a section?”
    “Yes”
    “You’ll be 39w on the 25th?”
    “Yes, and that would mean we should be out of hospital by the time my daughter’s school starts on the 31st”
    “Ok, 25th August it is.”

    Then he had a somewhat heated conversation with the person holding the theatre diary, because someone somewhere has a new policy of booking ERCS at 39+3.
    But he was adamant and got his way, so if all goes to plan 25th August is our date.

    I’m very happy!

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      Woohoo! Glad it mostly went smoothly, and that that which didn’t was handled capably by someone other than the pregnant patient!

      • Dr Kitty

        He was awesome.
        There was a free slot on the 25th and the only thing likely to be gained by an extra 72hrs was an increased chance of an emergency CS in labour because I’m not a good VBAC candidate, he was taking the slot and to hell with the policy!

        My husband had been grumbling that we had waited to see him for ages, when all the women being seen by midwives and more junior doctors were being seen first.

        My point that we wanted to wait and see the most senior decision maker, who we know is already on our side, was rather made for me.

        Two of my friends recently ended up going into labour before their planned ERCS, but after 39w, because they were booked for 39+5 and 39+6. One had a very much undesired unmedicated VBAC because things went too quickly, baby born less than an hour after arriving on labour ward, instrumental delivery, mild shoulder dystocia, the other had an emergency CS immediately on arrival to hospital, with foetal distress in labour and a baby requiring some resuscitation. No thanks to either of those scenarios.

        At least if I go into labour before my date it’ll not be because someone thinks booking ERCS as close to the due date as possible is a good plan.

        • Medwife

          Now they’re harping on 39 vs 39+3? Oh for goodness sake.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Glad I wasn’t the only one rolling my eyes at that. Seriously, people?! Get a life!

          • Dr Kitty

            Yeah, I know… he was rolling his eyes as much as I was.

            I have a feeling the policy either won’t last or was is political/target driven rather than anything else.

            39w risk of TTN is 3%, and TTN is transient and unlikely to lead to severe harm.
            Whereas the risks of an undesired VBAC or an emergent CS in labour vs an elective pre-labour CS….

            I’m not seeing the evidence basis for this “policy”, except as a way of getting the CS rate down and the VBAC rate up, at the cost of making women who WANT ERCS wait longer.

          • Young CC Prof

            You know, the c-section that’s pre-scheduled during business hours should cost less than the one done unexpectedly in the middle of the night. I wonder how many extra unscheduled c-sections this is going to cause.

    • Mattie

      Excellent, I hope it all goes to plan for you and that you have a speedy and problem-free recovery.

    • Megan

      Yay!

    • Karen in SC

      great news!!!

    • toni

      was wondering how you were doing! i had my girl three weeks ago about a month early. Induced for growth restriction. she was in the NICU for two days but is completely fine now and growing like a weed.

      Hope everything goes well for you and there are no surprises

    • Sue

      Best wishes!

    • Mishimoo

      Awesome! Hope everything goes smoothly and you heal up quickly/well.

  • Angharad

    Semi-OT: Here’s a fun quiz that shows just how terrible medicine was before we got a better understanding of the body and pathology.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2015/07/historic_medical_treatments_quiz_match_the_disease_or_condition_to_the_cure.html

    • monojo

      I got a 4! This quiz totally reiterates the old saw, “What do you call folk remedies that work? Medicine.”

  • Bombshellrisa

    #7 only works if “not feeling well” means PMS and what you are going to whip up in your kitchen is Hoosier Mama Chocolate Cream pie.

    • MegaMechaMeg

      oh god, you can’t just post that without a recipie.

      • Bombshellrisa

        It’s from the Hoosier Mama pie cookbook. Google it and the preview has this recipe and a couple more. Brushing the crust with chocolate before pouring in the pastry cream makes if especially amazing.

    • Young CC Prof

      Hey, cooking a good meal can make a lot of things better, like a bad day. (It will not, however, cure any diseases.)

      • Bombshellrisa

        True.
        I can’t wrap my head around the idea that cancer can be treated with ingredients found in a kitchen

      • Mariana Baca

        Well, good meal can cure things like vitamin, mineral or other deficiencies caused by an improper diet in the first place. (e.g. scurvy). But it won’t do anything for most people eating good meals already.

    • Allie

      Must have the recipe! Now!

  • Kelly

    My Mom just had a heart attack where she needed two stents put in. A week after the second stent, she ended up bleeding out because of three ulcers. She is obsessed with buying random herbal stuff on the internet. We are begging her to talk to her doctor about all the herbs and vitamins she is taking. Thankfully, she if listening for now. I am afraid she will end up killing herself in the end because of this crap. I have started to be more vocal at church about all the stupid woo because of growing up with my mom trying one thing after another. It is so stupid.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      ARGH, yes! I keep running into the “essential oils are God’s special way of curing illnesses!” crowd in some of my circles. I’m like, what, He didn’t have a hand in creating antibiotics? ‘Cause it seems to me that if anything’s God’s gift to humanity, antibiotics would be pretty freaking high on that list.

      • SporkParade

        In my What to Expect month, someone asked about natural alternatives to antibiotics to treat a UTI during pregnancy. I gently explained that antibiotics are naturally produced by fungi to protect themselves against bacteria.

        • Rita Rippetoe

          After my first birth I developed a uterine infection. My somewhat into woo midwife/OB team offered herbs. I said, “peopled died of childbirth fever–I want antibiotics.”

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Were I in that situation, I believe I would have given them brief-yet-detailed instructions as to what they could do with those herbs.

          • An Actual Attorney

            I’m horrified that an ob would recommend herbs. Wow.

          • Rita Rippetoe

            He was a Marin County OB who was one of the only doctors in the Bay Area who would attend home births. This was 1977 when few hospitals offered rooming in, moving around in labor, etc. Most still did enemas and shaving and routine episiotomies. Some were still using ‘twilight sleep” or pain relief that crossed the placenta and resulted in dopy babies, and epidurals had a high rate of post delivery headache in addition to being very restrictive. No routine ultrasounds, fetal monitors were not very effective and home birth with an OB seemed like a reasonable choice.

        • Inmara

          When I had UTI and asked a doctor if I should drink cranberry juice in addition to pills he prescribed (antibiotics plus a supplement with active ingredient from cranberries) he explained that no human can drink enough cranberry juice to match one pill of that supplement. OK, problem solved!

      • Mattie

        Hell yeh, especially because I don’t especially want to go round licking mould and hoping for the best. Thank you to whatever higher power led to the discovery of antibiotics, and to the diligence of scientists who spent time, money, and in some cases health to research and create formulas of medication that we know take (a lot of the time) for granted.

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          I read the story of the discovery of Penicillin when I was in 5th grade. Don’t know how that book ended up in an elementary school library but I want to find it again.

          If I remember right, we have a woman dying of terminal breast cancer who volunteered herself for testing to thank. She offered to test the doses of varying purity until they were able to refine it enough to not cause excessive side effects. Some of which included chills, vomitting, and of course diarrhea. She knew it wouldn’t help her but she wanted to do something she felt was important with what life she had. And if it killed her, oh well she was going to die anyways was her rhetoric.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Wow. That’s just…wow.
            Talk about heroes, a la yesterday’s conversation.

          • monojo

            If you find it, please post! I would love to read it, sounds fascinating.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            I might just have to call my old elementary school and hope they didn’t throw it out to find the name. I can’t find a book that fits the time frame of when I could have read it.

          • D/

            Yes, I couldn’t remember without looking it up, but her name was Elva Akers. I read about her (and others ) in Robert Lax’s ‘The Mold in Dr Florey’s Coat’ several years ago.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            I should read that one and thank you for posting her name! I was going crazy trying to find her! It couldn’t have been that book I read because it was published in 2005 and I’m pretty sure I read the book I found around 1998. Maybe they still have it and I could call or something… Be the weirdo they remember.

          • D/

            “Yes, you should definitely call. It’ll make their day and bring a smile to a bookworm’s heart. ” … says my daughter the librarian.

      • Kelly

        Yes. We have one lady whose entire life is about selling Essential Oils. I have started to tell people point blank that I am not interested in any alternative medicines. I believe God had a hand in helping with modern medicine and still does. All of our medicines have stemmed from natural things as well. I can’t believe how many people I respect fall for this crap. Plus, I am not wasting my money on that. I would rather waste it on food.

      • DelphiniumFalcon

        The woo has been getting so bad in my religion that our leaders have started a massive pro-vax campaign via social media about how vaccines save lives and that the church wholeheartedly supports them. Also to donate to the humanitarian funds so we can send volunteers and vaccines that keep well to countries that don’t have the infrastructure for mass vaccination.

        Trying to get members to trust real medicine because as was pointed out, if all things on this earth were made by God then didn’t he create antibiotics or the fungi where our anti-rejectioj drugs come from? To reject such gifts would be blasphemous! 😉

        • Kelly

          I am still wondering if the two women who had home births vaccinate. One of them was super concerned about the hand, foot, and mouth outbreak we had in another ward. I hope they do but I am not sure. I just can’t believe that I actually know people who believe in this stuff.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            It’s ridiculous and honestly we should know better with the church’s emphasis on young adults getting higher education. We had a few home birthers in my Ward in Oregon. Even at eight years old, the first time I heard and observed the aftermath of a home birth when we brought my friend home to meet her little brother I asked, “What’s wrong with the hospital?” I thought it was stupid before I even had a good understanding of childbirth and its risks! If even an eight year old is calling your medical decisions stupid, maybe you should rethink them.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          That is really awesome! Good on your church leaders!

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            I was really impressed since they usually stay out of political stances and similar things but they feel strongly about it and the safety of our members and those around them.

            They first brought it up as a general recommendation in 1978 but apparently the gentle nudge wasn’t blatant enough so now it’s an official initiative that receives a larger amount of funding and volunteer hours than before. It’s mostly focused in Africa right now but church leaders are still emphasizing immunization in the US and other more priveledge nations.

            The official news article is here:https://www.lds.org/church/news/church-makes-immunizations-an-official-initiative-provides-social-mobilization?lang=eng

        • Laura

          Yet, some of the members who still oppose vaccination will say things like, “Well, they’re old men and probably aren’t educated on vaccines.” Never mind, of course, that most of them were alive for most of these diseases. Boyd K. Packer had post polio syndrome, for example. And never mind, that Russell M. Nelson was a world renowned heart surgeon who probably had his kids in line for the vaccines when they came out. Then there’s the whole “Well, they send those vaccines to poor countries, we don’t need those vaccines here” argument. How very charitable.

          I’ve even seen emergency preparedness pamphlets saying that no, there is nothing wrong with getting the HPV vaccine. Yet there are so many church members who are opposed to it, even if they aren’t opposed to the other ones.

      • Sue

        If one needs to invoke God and Nature, why not just accept that God made us Naturally inquisitive and inventive, so we could develop medicine. Just like we developed communication and transport systems, aeronautics and 3-D printing. Isn’t nature wonderful?

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          Hear, hear! I heartily agree. Why is it somehow a rejection of God to say, “Huh, He made us curious and creative, and as a result of that we have Seriously Cool Stuff like vaccines, antibiotics, and modern anesthesia?”

  • Captain Obvious

    Does Katie know Kevin Trudeau?

  • namaste863

    The fact that they do jack the eff shit is reason enough for me.

    • Wombat

      Oh some work. Like digitalis, colchicum, paclitaxel, or even morphium. That’s why they’ve been studied, isolated, and purified.

      Many more might – even probably in some cases – work, but are not as safe/effective/stable/non-reactive as their non-alternative counterparts, like St. John’s Wort, kava, echinacea, yohimbe, etc, etc, etc.

      I really have to wonder why ‘natural remedy’ doesn’t include the vast amount of plant-based pharmaceuticals. Especially from those who sell their herbs as being ‘tested’, ‘pure’, ‘regulated’, etc.

      Ignorant (non-pejoratively speaking) person not trusting labs or science and using something out of the window box, I can kind of understand. But when they’re already bringing labs, regulation (albeit laxly), and commercialization into the picture, why not just go all the way?
      Oooga booga big government, I guess. Maybe they should bother to look at just how big (and politically contributive) some of these ‘all natural’ conglomerates are. Even if they look so nice and small at first glance.

      • Young CC Prof

        You show them in black and white that a bunch of the major supplement players are actually literally owned by big pharma, and they don’t believe you. They just refuse to look. Herbs are good, therefore companies selling herbs must be good.

      • Azuran

        They don’t go ‘all the way’ because the company who produce those ‘natural remedies’ know that they don’t work. If they were required to prove the efficacy of their product, 99% of their products would be removed from the shelves. So they are actively working against regulation.

        • Wombat

          Oh yes, very much so. I more meant the consumers with that statement. If they want an herbal supplement that is ‘safe’ and has ‘studies behind it’ and ‘has been used for 100s of years’ why not just take a damn botanical or botanical analog drug. No they’re not out there for every condition, but they probably cover a pretty good swath.

      • Mariana Baca

        Because then the random internet person cannot sell them and profit from them, duh!

  • Bobo

    It goes both ways.

    “Because, really, who doesn’t consider someone with no knowledge whatsoever on anything natural health to be an excellent source on natural remedies?”

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      No, it doesn’t. It is important to understand the pathophysiology of disease in order to treat it.

      • Sue

        Indeed. That’s what medical school does – it teaches you how the body works, in minute detail.

    • Bombshellrisa

      There is no such thing as “natural health”. Nature is full of bacteria, disease and deformities.

      • DelphiniumFalcon

        And apex predictors that think we taste good rubbed in dirt after a good chase. Odd how these all natural people at least where I live are way into guns. Those certainly didn’t sprout out of the ground!

    • Young CC Prof

      Why do you believe we have no knowledge? Many of the people speaking out against natural remedies have studied them personally, or used them. Edzard Ernst is a great example. He believed alternative treatments were promising, studied some, and found no benefit. When he published his results, the natural-health community pilloried him.

      And of course some remedies are just plain ridiculous. I don’t know much about Chinese astrology, but I can still state with confidence that it doesn’t work.

  • KeeperOfTheBooks

    Looking at that list, one thing does jump out at me: if it were easier for people to get in to see a doctor and get a prescription for something they need, they might not be so interested in natural remedies that promise the same thing immediately for a fraction of the cost. Of course, they don’t actually work, but that’s a minor detail. 😉
    Case in point: last week, I started having *really* bad headaches several times a day, and was even being woken up at night by them. *Bad* pain–like, worse-than-post-op-when-I-didn’t-get-my-meds-for-a-day pain. Nausea. Insomnia. Resulting exhaustion. Etc. Having a minimal history of headaches (perhaps one migraine per year since college?), I found this alarming. Called my doctor’s office, to be told, “See you in three weeks, you can take one extra-strength Tylenol every 6 hours if you need it.” (I might be pregnant, won’t know for another week or so.)
    Having been told that their only appointment was in three weeks, I asked for a recommendation for an immediate care facility within their network (out-of-network stuff on my insurance is 100% the responsibility of the patient) because going through another three weeks like this wasn’t an option for me. Suddenly, they had an opening and could get me in next week–not awesome, but at least we’re talking waiting 5 days rather than 3 weeks.
    This is also a symptom of why it’s so damn hard to follow my own advice on things medical–i.e., find a provider you trust, establish a relationship with them, and trust them. I get that doctors are busy; I really do. And hell if I know what the solution is. I merely offer this as an example of why some people find the whole doctor experience off-putting, while still saying “That’s what works, they’re the professionals, don’t screw around with something potentially serious, go see a doctor, for the love of all that’s holy.”

    • Mattie

      That’s terrible, do they not keep any same-day appointments for urgent cases? I know my GP if you are very ill (like, not dying but dying) you call up in the morning and get seen that day, for non-urgent cases it’s 2 weeks minimum to see ‘a doctor unspecified’ and up to a month or more for a specific doctor.

      • Dr Kitty

        In my practice each doctor has two “book on the day” slots each morning for emergencies, additionally, once those are gone, if you phone up and leave a message one of the GPs will call you back (before 1 if you call before noon, before 6 if you call after 2). If you report an emergency our admin staff will often put the call straight through or get a GP to call you back within 5 minutes.

        I’ll usually fit in urgent cases as “extras” at the beginning or end of my surgeries, even if I don’t have an official slot for them. I often see 4-6 extras in an afternoon, maybe one or two in a morning, usually sick kids, actively suicidal people or the sort of people who MIGHT need A&E, but should be seen by a doctor first to decide.

        It means that my two hour clinic with 13 patients is usually a 3 hour clinic with 15-18 patients, but there you go. Rather that than go home and worry that the sick child I didn’t see has meningitis, the tummy ache is appendicitis or the weeping person on the end of the phone will do something they’ll regret, I’d rather run late and take paperwork home.

        Since all of my partners in the practice do the same, we usually end up seeing a LOT of extra patients every week, and spending a lot of time on the phones.

        Most local practices are the same.
        We do kind of rely on the fact that if the patient thinks two or three weeks is too long to wait, they’ll ask to speak to a GP instead, but it seems to work.

        • Megan

          Our practice has a similar policy. We always leave 2-3 slots open on each provider’s schedule daily for sick calls.

        • Mattie

          Yeh, that’s what it’s like at my home doctor. At uni, the health centre has an ‘urgent’ doctor everyday, where you just walk in and wait, it’s handy but also annoying because you can’t do much of anything else that day as you don’t know how long it will take to be seen, still quicker and easier than A&E though, and we have a pharmacy next door too 🙂

        • Elaine

          As a pharmacist, I get a lot of people coming in looking for an OTC remedy for some acute illness that isn’t treatable OTC, and they say a variant of “I called my doctor and they can’t get me in for 3 weeks”, to which I usually tell them to call back and request an urgent appointment because they are sick… but I don’t know how well this ends up working.

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        Not at this practice, at least, or at least I assume not. I’m thinking I may do a bit of doctor-shopping after this, if only for comparison–i.e., “If you have an established patient call in with non-lethal but pretty bad symptoms, could you fit them in within a day or so?”
        To be fair, compared to someone with a broken limb or strep throat or something, I suppose this isn’t emergent. And barring neurological symptoms, I am *not* wasting an ER’s time with headaches. I suppose it’s a bit of a catch-22: I’d like the sort of doctor-patient relationship you can get in a very small town, but want even more the level of care I expect in the very big city where my doctor is.

        • Roadstergal

          They do ‘Urgent Care’ in our neck of the woods – it’s specifically for that sort of in-the-middle situation that doesn’t seem ER-worthy, but where waiting for a scheduled appointment is not really in the cards either. It works like the ER – you show up, get triaged, and might have to wait a while to be seen. As a stopgap, it works, IMO. I’ve used it once and my husband has used it once. Both times it turned out to be not serious, and it was good that we didn’t use ER time to find that out.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            We have urgent cares in our area, as well. The problem is a) I would prefer to see my doctor (or at least one in the same system) so that if this is an ongoing issue, she’ll know about it and b) while the local urgent cares are covered under my insurance, their laboratory and testing facilities are considered separate, and therefore cost still more.
            I’ve used urgent cares in the past for a UTI and for a rather nasty virus–I’m just worried that these headaches may be an ongoing thing and/or require further treatment, and if so, I want my doctor to be directing that in the health system that’s contracted with my insurance, lest I get the sort of Gawd-awful bill that I got for urine testing from another specialist when I was pregnant. (They neglected to mention that they weren’t doing the usual dip for ketones and the like, they were actually going to send it out to a lab, and I didn’t know anything about it until I got a $1300 bill for out-of-network testing.)

        • An Actual Attorney

          FWIW, I live in a big city, and have a big city doctor, and have this type of relationship with her. For my physical, I have to wait 6 weeks or so. And for a lot of minor things, I can swing by the Minute Clinic at CVS. But she or a partner will fit me in within 24 hours for the bigger, but not ER worthy things.

          In fact, when going on a vacation to a place I needed malaria drugs, she offered to write a Rx for my wife who didn’t have a primary care doc at the time, just to save us the money of her having to go to a travel specialist.

          What I’m saying is, they are out there.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            That sounds WONDERFUL. I hope very much I can find a doctor like that!

          • An Actual Attorney

            Good luck!

        • Liz Leyden

          Where I live, Urgent Care is open from 7 am to 7 pm. Half the time they send you to the ER. The ones that aren’t affiliated with a hospital don’t take Medicare or Medicaid. It’s better than when I lived in Boston, which had a PCP shortage and no urgent care centers (that may have changed). When I was between PCPs, I was sent to the ER for a strep test.

          My husband had a chronic eye problem flare up. His PCP said he could see him in 3 weeks. I sent him to a CVS in the next town, which had a Minute Clinic (walk-in care). They took one look at him and said “we don’t do eyes.” He told them about his PCP. They called his PCP, and he got an appointment that afternoon.

    • Cobalt

      There have been times I really wished I didn’t need to see a doctor for a scrip. Like when I didn’t have insurance, but the kids did, and all 3 had strep throat (confirmed by a strep test at the peds office), and the next day I had the same symptoms. Now, paying for amoxicillin out of pocket is very manageable, but an out of pocket doctor’s visit was $150 at the cheapest place I could find…and they wouldn’t see a new patient without a complete physical ($400), then a separate appointment for the illness. I held out, hoping to kick it on my own and not be a carrier that would just reinfect the kids, till breathing got difficult, then spent three weeks grocery money to get treated.

      I am very much pro ACA, and against pseudomedicine.

      • Medwife

        I support California’s and Oregon’s policies on pharmacists rxing OCPs. But antibiotics should be as difficult as possible to get.

        • Cobalt

          Preventing antibiotic abuse is important. Making antibiotics available for those who need them is also important.

          • Yes, that reminds me of the woman who led the patient education classes at a very-NCB hospital I once worked at. She would proudly announce “Here at Hospital X we believe in the minimal use of technology!”

            I told her that I really hoped that was not what she meant, but that what she had wanted to say was “the SENSIBLE use of technology”. When she replied that she thought it was the same thing, I began looking for another job.

            Antibiotics are great. The abuse and misuse of antibiotics not great at all. [this is true of most things, btw]

      • Tiffany Aching

        $550 for a strep throat… Wow. Again, in France a consult would have cost you 23€ (and the amoxicilline is very cheap too), you would have been reimbursed, and if you were poor you wouldn’t have had to pay. Believe it or not but many, many people here think it’s expensive and are pissed to pay 23€ “just to get the rx I need”. They are if course clueless about foreign healtcare systems.

        • Cobalt

          I ended up paying about $225 at a different doctor who took pity on me and just charged an office visit. I ended up spending less than $10 on the antibiotics, a few steroid pills, and a lidocaine rinse so I could eat and drink.

          But the real bummer was when I got the report from the kids’ insurance on the benefits paid out for their care. Office visit: $57, as negotiated by the insurance company. You’d think uninsured patients would be cheaper for offices to treat- way less paperwork, for starters. I could have gone to the ER and ditched the bill, but that’s not really better for anyone.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            I am so very sorry you went through that. I had something very similar happen when I had strep throat in college. No insurance, no money to pay for a doctor’s appointment, and once I finally went to an immediate care facility after 10 days of hoping it would go away, the antibiotics, steroids, and Vicodin (couldn’t swallow without wanting to scream in pain) came to about $15. The doctor’s visit and antibiotic injection came to about $250, which meant a) putting it on my emergency credit card at 25% interest (college student, no credit history) and b) cutting the food budget to $10/week for the next couple of months to pay the damn thing off ASAP. It should NOT be this difficult.
            Re insurance paperwork: I once had a friend whose husband was a doctor. About 5 years before he retired, he finally snapped on the insurance question, and started a cash-only practice. He would no longer accept any insurance because he’d have to keep at least one person on staff just to haggle with the insurance paperwork. As a result, he charged rather less than most doctors. Of course, he couldn’t very well do the same thing for labs and whatnot, but it was a start.

          • Tiffany Aching

            I’m so very sorry you had to get through all this. I just don’t get how it is acceptable to let anyone, and even more a single parent, in that kind of situation. To be honest when Obamacare was discussed it was very very hard here to explain to people who didn’t know the US too well why people would oppose universal healthcare. I know it is also a question of cultural differences and history but I really thing that a healthy population is in the long run beneficial to everybody.

          • Cobalt

            I’m sure it would have been cheaper for the taxpayer to give me an office visit and amoxicillin than my stealing it from the ER (especially once complications occurred). Either would be cheaper than leaving a bunch of kids without a parent (I’ve got a partner, but many who have found themselves in that situation don’t).

            Americans like to punish people for being poor. Even if that means suffering or dying over $10 worth of antibiotics. It’s stupid, and expensive in the long term.

      • Angharad

        I believe I read that in California they’re giving limited prescribing powers to pharmacists. I know birth control was covered, and I think maybe some antibiotics and other common medications. I’m all in favor of this idea! Pharmacists are well-trained and sometimes EVERYONE knows what you need for a simple condition (not to minimize the importance of doctors at all).

    • Tiffany Aching

      I am so thankful for the universal health care we have in France. In most places (probably not the very rural ones, though) you would have been able to see a GP the very same day or the day after, and he could have easily refered you to a specialist if he found it necessary. Our system comes at a high price for the taxpayers but still, it is amazing to have such an easy access to health care, and very few people realize that here.
      Hope everything will be alright and that you will feel better soon. Headaches can be so crippling.

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        Thank you for the kind wishes! They are really very appreciated.
        I don’t know much about the French system of healthcare, but I submit that at the very least, it sounds as though they have a good grasp on patient care in that regard, though I admit to being more than a bit biased at the moment. 😉 I would be curious to learn how it shapes up as compared to the British system, about which I hear what sounds like a rather mixed bag of very good and not so good at all–but then, of course, no system is perfect, and I emphatically include ours here in the US in that qualifier.
        With the advent of the Affordable Care Act here, I have found myself mulling often over the question of what the best system would be. I honestly don’t know. The idea of funding everyone’s healthcare is as jarring to me as a heavily welfare-based society is, and yet I also know that while I’m complaining now, I’m really very lucky compared to many Americans: though it’ll take a while, I’ll pay a $25 copay for the office visit, a probably very low percentage of any prescription cost, etc. (Mind you, we already pay about 15% of my husband’s salary for health insurance, so it’s not like we haven’t paid our bit already.) Many don’t have that opportunity at all because they simply can’t afford it at all; I was one of them for a very long time. At the same time, while I say we’re lucky (and we are), my husband does work very hard to provide for us so that we can afford that insurance, so it’s not only luck. Yet I was working pretty hard whilst in college–like, often 40+ hours per week while attending school full time–and still couldn’t afford insurance or health care.
        Forgive my ramblings; it’s taken my mind off my head long enough for my tylenol to kick in. Hurray!

        • Tiffany Aching

          Well obviously no system is perfect, and the French system’s main downside is that it’s insanely expensive – the social security fund has been running on debt for years.
          The main difference between France and the UK is that our system is bismarckian, not beveridgian – meaning that in the beginning in 1945 it was based on a collective health insurance that your had to take and pay for when you were employed. After that the benefits of the health insurance have been extended to many non-working people, but it is still financed by a tax that is indexed on the salary and paid for both by the employer and the employee. Thus work can come at a high price in France (when you employ someone, you have to pay almost the equivalent of his salary in taxes), but everybody benefits from the insurance. Most people have a complementary insurance for everything that is not covered by social security. The fee that is reimbursed for a consult is fixed by social security, and the doctors can whether bill this price to their patients and have a huge tax break, or bill the price they want and pay taxes. In big cities almost all doctors do the latter, so you need a complementary insurance. Many people complain that it is harder to get an appointement when you cannot pay the additional fee. Still, I think healthcare is widely available. It is costly, it has a lot of red tape (but studies showed that private insurance companies aren’t more cost-efficient than social security), but it is very egalitarian. I was treated for Grave’s disease when I was a student and I received the exact same (excellent) level of care that I have now that I belong to a 150K annual revenue household. The strength of our system in my opinion is that it leaves the doctors very free in their care decisions, although this freedom is more and more controlled for cost-killing reasons.
          The current threats to our system are the fact that young doctors are more and more reluctant to work as GP’s in town (especially small towns and rural areas) and want to be employed in hospitals, because they feel they won’t get enough money for their work, which is debatable considering that they earn 4 to 5 times the average salary and that med school is completely free. Another problem is that most hospitals are basically run by underpaid, sleep-deprived residents, which is dangerous and also explains why they feel entitled to more than they get after that.
          So in effect the difference with the UK (which is state based, and not insurance based) is that the state doesn’t have as much control over patients’ care, and that it has not the same strong dichotomy between the private and the public sector.
          All in all many things irritate me in my home country, but we do have cheese and social security, which makes us lucky, I think.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            And cheap food! Don’t forget cheap food! DH and I were in Paris for a few days at the end of last year, and I was absolutely floored by how cheap the food was. Our hotel was across the street from a sort of convenience store, and I’d go there to buy food for most of our meals, as we were on a budget. They had the most amazing selection of fruit and cheese and meat, and it was all so cheap compared to the US! (Except, for some reason, tomatoes, which were about five times the price of any I’d ever seen over here.)
            The medical decisions based on cost thing is something that concerns me with both the US type of care and UK/French as well. It’s this weird bipolar thing over here: on the one hand, if you’re going to pay cash, you have a devil of a time getting an actual quote from most medical offices: they give you fifty shades of attitude, and tell you that “it all depends on how we bill it.” Case in point: a car accident I was in recently. My health insurance doesn’t cover car accidents; that’s the car insurance’s job. I wanted to go see my doctor to get checked out. They said I’d need to pay out of pocket for the visit, because they didn’t file with car insurance companies. How much would that be? quoth I. “Ummm, no one really asks us that.” “Yes, well, I am.” “It’ll probably be somewhere between $100 and $250 per visit. It all depends on how we bill it.” The founding idea behind this is “well, insurance will pay for it, so why care about how much it costs?” And yet insurance has limited resources, too, which is why our premiums keep going up and up and up. Same thing with using ERs for basic medical care: it jams up the system, making it hard for those who are really sick to get seen, and then when so many people don’t pay their (grossly exorbitant) bills, the costs go up for everyone else, too–see the $1000 charge my sister got for an x-ray and splint of a broken finger. Yet if you have, say, strep throat, and no insurance, or if it’ll take weeks to get in to see your doctor and your strep throat can’t wait for weeks, what are you supposed to do? Nasty cycle.
            By my math, your doctors would be making the equivalent of about 200K/year with no student loans. Is that right?! ‘Cause if that were the case, I should think that everyone would want to practice over there!

          • Tiffany Aching

            Yes, it’s true that it is very possible to eat fresh food for a very reasonable amount of money here. Also, if you know what you’re doing you can buy very good, cheap wine (I remember once in the wine aisle of the supermarket an old man who was staring at the bottles, looking a little lost. I asked him if I could help, and he answered “Wine is so cheap ! Wine is so very cheap here ! And there is so much choice !”, it was very sweet). Well, I have to admit that France is pretty great when it comes to food (as are Italy and Greece… and Lebanon).

            The average income in France is rather around 20K€ a year, so a young doctor would be earning a gross income of 100K, from which you have to substract at least 30% taxes. But it is still a high income, and it gets higher once you’ve written off your equipement expenses and you have your patients. The very nice thing about being a doctor is that you can be certain that the patient won’t ditch the bill because he is reimbursed by social security… I am self employed and I fully realize what a great advantage it is !

            And yes, also no student loans, med school is completely free (though you have to take a very competitive exam to get in and you will work for next to nothing as a resident at least 3 years).

            Re the control of medical expenses, it is certainly a problem that the real cost of things aren’t clear because nobody feels he is paying for it (though of course we all do). I think it would really help if people knew the real cost of things, even if they don’t pay. I know that I am much more aware of the costs of health now that I bring my pets to the vet now and then – I had no idea what a simple blood draw for sugar and cholesterol would cost before.
            Still I prefer that the one who decides whether such and such exam is necessary is my doctor rather than the state or an insurance company. There is a degree of control on dr’s rxs in France but fortunately you really have to overdo it to be in trouble. And actually a larger life expectancy (and all the health problems it entails) account for much of the rise of health expenses. Maybe we just have to accept that it is just expensive to keep people healthy (and, as a French liberal, I would add that that’s what taxes are for).

    • fiftyfifty1

      I have heard that access in some places is horrible, and that’s not right. Then again we have no such problem anywhere around here. Every single group around here has lots of same day access, and even the specialists can be seen in a timely manner (except for psych). It doesn’t keep people from relying on alternative remedies.

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        I doubt that even immediate, free access to a good doc in every situation would mean that the natural remedy-peddling types would suddenly go out of business, only that it might reduce the number of people who go to it. I would guess that if you’re (“you’re” in the general, not specific sense) in pain and desperate and have to wait a week before you can expect relief (or, worse, know you can’t go see a doctor to get relief at all without incurring crippling debt), then you’d be much more willing to try some silly herbal concoction, often on the grounds of “it can’t hurt, right?”

    • Mariana Baca

      That might be part of it, but there are plenty of wealthy people with plenty of access to good care that still believe this nonsense.

  • Taysha

    I’m a firm buyer of a homeopathic/essential oil business because all their products are tagged: “This is perfume. Do not use it for any other purposes”

    If there is one thing plant extracts can do, it is make you smell good. And for the most part, that’s it.

    • Bombshellrisa

      Yeah, I have “cured” my home many times with essential oils. I make amazing wok seared sesame wasabi chili green beans with no less than six cloves of garlic. Tastes so good, the smell lingers if you aren’t aggressive about taking care of it. I found simmering cinnamon sticks with cloves on the stove and diffusing essential oils “cure” my house of being stinky.

      • Roadstergal

        I love garlic in stir-fry. It cures the house of not smelling like garlic, and it cures the bedsheets of not having garlic sweat after we’ve eaten.

        • Bombshellrisa

          Like my husband says “if you both smell like garlic, it cancels out the stinkiness”. Found out recently that my 18 month old likes garlic flavored stuff, this is going to be one “cured” family

          • demodocus

            My 20monther likes garlic too. ‘Though we’ve known that for a year. As my sister says, his usual beverage before that was probably half garlic, so it makes sense. 😉

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            My husband eats garlic cloves raw… Like six of them at a time. I had to beg him not to do it again because he was sweating and breathing out the fumes all night and I couldn’t sleep. Garlic isn’t healthy when your wife can’t sleep and contemplates murder.

        • Box of Salt

          Baked garlic was my still-allowed vice while pregnant and breastfeeding. It was suggested that my kids would like the food I was eating, especially that eaten while breastfeeding. Hmm, garlic, baked. Not so much.

          It’s taken the better part of a decade for that idea to be fulfilled. The kids *finally* like garlic.

          The downside is now I have to share my baked cloves.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Mmmm. I once had the most amazing roasted garlic at a restaurant. It was elephant garlic, I think, so a larger, sweeter clove. The idea was that you’d take the hot, smeary garlic and spread it on the delicious bread and cheese options on the tray. *drools*

      • Taysha

        Ooh, I had never heard that! One more to the pile of natural ‘remedies’!!!

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      Yup! I keep lemon essential oil in stock at my house because nothing, NOTHING makes a house smell as clean as when I put a bunch of it on the vacuum cleaner’s filter. When I buy it, the clerk always wants to know what remedy I’m using it for…I tend to get a bit of a blank stare when I say “cat odor.” (The vacuum’s filter is washable, but once it gets wet it tends to smell like my cat fell in a bathtub and then rolled around the living room. I prefer a light lemon scent, thankyouverymuch.)

      • Mattie

        We used tea-tree, some people hate the smell but I find it rather pleasant. Lemon does sound good though. My personal method of choice for home-scenting is baking a chocolate cake, you also get to eat the product…yum

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          I like the smell of TTO, too; I think it’s a pleasant, very clean sort of smell.
          Best of all, however, I like your home-scenting method. 😀

          • Mattie

            Funnily enough my mum likes that method too, I do make very good chocolate cake, I learned from the best (my Nana who always used to make my birthday cakes, and then as she got older and found it more difficult I made cakes for her instead).

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Anyone who doesn’t like that method is welcome to send their portions to me. They will be disposed of in a safe and efficient manner, especially if accompanied by a mug of tea or coffee.

          • Mattie

            I make a mean victoria sponge too =P

          • SporkParade

            I’ll believe it when I see the recipe and try it for myself (hint, hint).

          • Mattie

            well, it’s traditional 6,6,6,3 (devilishly good). So 6 ounces of butter or margarine (I use baking margarine because butter is never soft enough and I have weedy arms), 6 ounces of sugar, 6 ounces of flour and 3 eggs. Cream butter and sugar, add flour and eggs, mix, pour into 2 sandwich tins, bake at gas mark 5 for (I think 20 mins but I tend to just watch because our oven is crap). Fill with buttercream and jam, sprinkle with icing sugar…eat huge slice with cup of tea, feel sort of happily sick lol

          • araikwao

            SOB tea party, perhaps?

          • Mattie

            I’d love that, let me know when you’re coming and I’ll pop the kettle on. Being serious, a meetup could be fun 🙂

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Should you ever find yourself in the American Southwest, shoot me a comment here. If you’ll make the tea, I’ll provide the cake and biscuits! ETA: also smoked salmon sandwiches. Because smoked salmon, duh!

          • Mattie

            Apologies for just having to google which bit of the US is the southwest, I am studying abroad in a couple of years. Current top choice is UCLA so I’m sure I could figure in some travelling, I do want to see a rodeo (it’s just so traditionally American lol)

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Ooooh, how cool is that! Let me offer you a preemptive welcome to the states. 🙂
            In my rather biased opinion, for rodeos I’d suggest Texas. Be sure, no matter where you go to see one, that you watch some mutton-bustin’; it’s the kids’ version of a rodeo. Yes, they ride sheep. Yes, they wear cowboy hats slightly bigger than they are. (The kids, not the sheep.) Yes, it’s adorable and hilarious. Something I did *not* know until I started attending one of the local ones was that much of the rodeo part is associated with massive charitable contributions, which I found quite heartwarming.
            Also, on a non-Texan note, if you’d like to see some truly stunning Native American/southwestern folk art, I can’t recommend Santa Fe highly enough. It’s absolutely crammed full of the most gorgeous examples of that sort of thing. One caution, however: unless you have excellent self-control, do NOT bring your credit card! Bring only a set amount of cash, lest you destroy the next three months’ budget there, something which is obscenely easy to do.
            One last point, which you probably know already but which some European friends have found as a major culture shock when they get here: there simply isn’t an efficient all-US transit system. Within big cities, there are some good (and some truly awful) ones, but in terms of getting from California to, say, New Mexico or Texas, you’d be either flying from city to city and then probably renting a car, or renting a car and driving from state to state. (Though that takes longer, it is a wonderful way to see the country.) When DH and I visit Europe, we always use your train systems; while we love them there, we admit that for reasons of practicality (the US is just so HUGE) they wouldn’t work as well here on that kind of scale, at least not with your level of convenience/frequent stops.

          • Mattie

            Yeh, that does concern me, mostly because I don’t drive so I’d have to buddy-up with someone who does, or just hope for the best with local public transport, aw so cute little kids riding sheep 😀

          • araikwao

            It would have to be intercontinental, which presents a significant impediment 🙁

          • Some time ago I found out a simple “recipe” for an all-purpose home cleaner like Fantastik which costs much less and works better: 1/3 synthetic vinegar, 1/3 washing up liquid, 1/3 water, in a spray jar. I add a few drops of lavender oil, and the house smells wonderful. Lemon oil or tea tree [for the bathroom] would also work.

          • Young CC Prof

            Also, the effectiveness of a cleaner is much easier to evaluate from anecdotal evidence than the effectiveness of a medical treatment. Dirt is rarely a self-limiting condition, but it also rarely takes a rapid spontaneous turn for the worse, barring toddlers.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Oooooh, I absolutely must try that! Thank you!
            I use Seventh Generation brand dish soap, their lemongrass/clementine scent. SG is one of those uber-natural brands, but I can’t say I picked them for that. Back when I was pregnant, the smell of most dish soaps made me violently nauseated, but I could tolerate and even like that one. I still spend the extra little bit of money to buy it because of the mild-but-lovely smell. That with some lemon oil would smell divine!
            What does “synthetic vinegar” mean in American English? We generally use white vinegar here–is it the same thing?

          • Yes, synthetic and white vinegar are the same

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            Vinegar is the best for washing microwaves too. Mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a microwave safe bowl and then nuke it until it fills the microwave with steam. Let it sit for a bit then open up the microwave and wipe all the crusted on stuff off with just a paper towel. Even dried pasts sauce comes right off.

            …my family was kind of really poor when I was a kid and my mom grew up just barely above the poverty line so we have a lot of tricks up our sleeves for using what’s on hand for cleaners and such.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            I’m really, really sensitive to dyes and such that are used in a lot of laundry soaps so we started making our own.

            Washing Soda, baking soda, borax, a bar of grated up Zote Soap, and Oxyclean then adding those Downy smelly pellets if you know they don’t irritate your skin. Exact proportions are here: http://www.howdoesshe.com/cheaper-and-better-diy-laundry-detergent/

            This stuff gets out the worst set in pit stains from my husband’s work shirts in just a regular wash. I thought we’d never get them out. It makes a ton and it lasts a long time. The ingredients are cheap too. We made a batch back in April and we’ve only used about a quarter of it. And you can pick how it smells so you don’t end up with the headache of picking a nasty smelling one because it was on sale.

      • Megan

        If you have a garbage disposal it’ also nice to put lemon peels or whole lemon chunks in there and grind them up for a fresh smelling sink and disposal. I love the scent of lemon and orange, especially for a kitchen.

      • Inmara

        Btw, food-grade lemon and orange essential oils are great in recipes which call for lemon or orange zest but not juice – few drops of oil basically do the same as tablespoons of zest – and no leftover lemons rolling around your fridge.

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          You just expanded the number of available recipes to me by soooo much and I don’t know how to thank you lol. I hate seating.

      • Taysha

        I’m currently indulging in a clove, honey and vanilla mix with a touch of cherry.
        But I’m usually a burgundy, plum and buttercream that makes people follow me.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          Oh, man, that all sounds so very drool-worthy! Now that I’ve left the woo, I adore good-smelling things, and making myself smell good, too. (I’d subscribed to the notion that all scented products, even essential oils, were full of Teh Evil Petrochemicals.) Are you a fan of BPAL perfumes, by any chance? DH often gets me a box of sample imps for my birthday, and I revel in them!

          • Taysha

            Bingo! Blood kiss and Bordello. 😉

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            *adds to imp list for next birthday*

          • Taysha

            Oh dear. I have on excess of 200 imps right now. I can mail you some (psst, also pick up O, Eat Me, Stimulating Sassafras Strengthener and Evil. TRUST ME)

    • carr528

      May be a similar place that I’ve been looking at. The crazy DoTerra and Young Living sellers will tell you that it’s OK to take internally, but the website I looked at is firmly against it.

      I love using some essential oils with the vinegar I use as fabric softener. Nothing like pulling clothes with a fabulous citrus scent out of the dryer! (And my sheets are lavendar scented. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. Either way, they smell great.

  • Angela

    The cancer thing is the worst. I’ve seen comments from people talking about curing cancer with baking soda. But…the medical establishment doesn’t want you to know about this because they’d lose money. Really? I think pretty much everyone would love it to be that simple, since cancer does impact pretty much everyone in some way.

    • Mattie

      I remember watching one episode of a documentary about patients and doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital, one lovely little girl who had a brain tumour was not responding well to treatment and it was looking unlikely she would survive. Her parents fundraised and then spent a fortune taking her to the Burzynski Clinic for treatment. When she returned to GOSH she was so unwell, and so unhappy. It made me incredibly sad and angry that people like Burzynski are allowed to practice.

    • Bombshellrisa

      This exactly. My husband was 20 months old when his mom died. She had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and went to Greece for the “Greek Cancer Cure”. There was a University of Washington doctor who posed as a cancer patient and brought back some of the serum that the clinic used and had it analyzed. It was just a bunch of stuff that has not been proven to cure cancer. It was a mix of vitamins and minerals, if I remember correctly. There was also the standard woo of supplements that the clinic sold and the diet. Went through this again with a dear family friend, it will be three years in September since he died. He went to the Biomedical Clinic in Tijuana. The doctors are US doctors that go across the border. It’s Hoxsey, just another herbal/diet thing. $6000 up front.

      • Bombshellrisa

        http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/Cancer/greek.html
        “The ingredients turned out to be nicotinic acid (niacin, a B-vitamin) and water [2]. The dosage of the niacin was high enough to produce temporary flushing and burning of the skin.” The serum I was thinking of is the Metbal stuff which is supposed to be the same but has brown sugar and vitamin c added.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        Geez. The first successful* use of chemotherapy in HL was in the 1940s. The cure rate for people in their 20s-40s (which I’m guessing your mother in law was if your husband was 20 months at the time) is >90%. If there’s one cancer where you should go straight to “conventional” treatment and not even think woo, it’s HL.

        *Well, semi-successful. Patient was actively dying, not expected to live through the day and got 6 months or so. Better than nothing but not a cure, as would be expected today. Fun fact: the chemo used was mustard gas. How do you think the conversation where the doctor applied for permission to use it went?

        • Bombshellrisa

          Yes, she was 30 when she died. She had a daughter too at the time, the daughter who remembers her dad crying and the firemen and paramedics coming and her mom dying in their living room. It’s a very sad story. She could be here with us, marveling at the fact that her grandson has her nose and her son’s smile.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Crap. I’m sorry.

    • monojo

      I think that’s why desperate people are so quick to latch on to these kinds of remedies- they figure that something like baking soda is so simple that it has been overlooked by the medical establishment. I can’t really fault a desperate person for wanting to believe anything if it could make things better, but I have pure contempt for anyone who would perpetuate this BS for profit, or to shore up their own beliefs that natural = good, and medical = bad.

  • Amy M

    I clicked on the link for the claim that ginger is anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory. It was a study done on a rat model of (induced) cancer.

    From the article (conclusion):

    “In conclusion, ginger extract significantly reduced the elevated expression of NFκB and TNF-α in rats with liver cancer. Ginger MAY (my emphasis) act as an anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agent by inactivating NFκB through the suppression of the pro-inflammatory TNF-α.”

    Reducing the expression of TNFa and NFkB is a far cry from preventing or curing cancer. That doesn’t mean that at some point, scientists won’t be able to isolate something in ginger and then synthesize it for a cancer treatment, but this study doesn’t show anything about ginger and cancer in people. Oh and each group had an n=6. I don’t work with rats, I work with mice, but we like to have n=10 or more if possible, for better data.

  • demodocus

    I wonder how much processing makes something no longer “natural” to these sorts. Making smoothies isn’t natural, even if just about any 10 year old with a blender can figure it out. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors certainly weren’t making them, and it would have been a huge amount of work for Queen Victoria’s cooks.

  • Mel

    Plant Biologist here:

    Plants don’t like to be eaten. Seriously. (You’d be amazed the number of people who’ve never thought about that.)

    They’ve spent eons of evolutionary time working out ways to avoid being eaten. One of the best ways that they do that is by creating metabolically expensive chemicals to poison the crap out of anything that tries to eat them.

    Identifying plants – that’s tricky, too.

    Most botanists take a semester long plant taxonomy class where they learn around 50 parts of a plant used to identify it. They also buy a large floral key that works for the area they live in. They then spend at least 10 hours a week for 16 weeks out in the field trying to figure out “What the F!@# is this plant?”. People who want to get really good at it – we keep doing those 10+ hours for years afterwards. Net outcome: after a few years, you get reasonably good at IDing common plants in your area that you see frequently.

    Now, tell me.

    Do you think an herbalist is going to spend 300+ hours of school and field work before being sure that that dried plant they sold you is wild parsnip and not wild hemlock?

    Are you willing to risk your life, liver and kidneys on that?
    Are you willing to risk your child’s life, liver and kidneys on that?

    • demodocus

      Me? no. The all-natural types? Sadly probably yes.

      • Mel

        The scary thing for me is a common trait in the US that plant scientists have termed “plant blindness”.

        Some people really struggle at seeing differences between plants. If you put two animals that are distantly related in front of most US students – like a cow and a deer – they can come up with a list of reasonably useful characteristics to tell the difference between the two.

        Do the same thing with two plants that are distantly related – wild parsnip and wild hemlock – and they’re stuck.

        Add in the facts that floral characteristics are huge in IDing plants, dried flowers can be nearly impossible to use for ID, and IDing parts of a plant without the flowers often is impossible and you see why herbal remedies are so easy to fake.

        • Mattie

          I would never, ever, pick my own wild herbs…or buy them from anywhere other than a shop where they are branded and I presume tested. No herbalists or little ziplock bags of random herbs for me thanks.

          I can’t even find a dock leaf when I get stung by nettles.

          • Amy M

            Well that’s the thing…I would be wary that any herbs are tested, or tested consistently. A few years ago, Hyland’s Teething tablets were recalled for containing potentially unsafe levels of belladonna. I think its sketchy if the bottle says “not FDA regulated.”

          • Cobalt

            The Hylands thing would have been funny if it wasn’t babies.

            Homeopathic remedy recalled for having actual active ingredient? My favorite kind of irony.

          • Roadstergal

            Especially because, according to homeopathy, the more belladonna that was in it, the weaker it was.

          • Amy M

            Well, you know teething tablets are for babies, so we wouldn’t want it TOO potent.

          • Roadstergal

            For god’s sake, don’t expose babies to plain water. It’s too powerful for them!
            (Really, homeopaths should be 100% against waterbirth.)

          • Amy M

            Who knows what that water might remember.

          • araikwao

            The concentration of faecal matter would definitely be beyond the bouds of homeopathy!

          • Mattie

            Yeh, I mean…I assume if it’s food-grade then it’s gonna be tested (things like ginger, peppermint, garlic etc…) but not the things marketed as ‘natural’ remedies or supplements.

          • Roadstergal

            If it’s a supplement in the US, it could be Essence of Lead and Strychnine for all the manufacturing requirements they have.

        • demodocus

          I’m not really surprised. Few of us actually spend anytime needing to identify plants. I know I can’t tell the difference between oaks and maples without their leaves, and I’m actually trying to learn in a sporadic way. Did you read that Elizabeth George mystery where someone was poisoned by eating what they thought were parsnips and were actually hemlock?
          Maybe the all-natural crowd visualize wise old crones and their apprentices wandering the woods searching for the best herbs.

          • Mel

            No, but I read “Wicked Plants” that explained that and a whole bunch of similar poisonings.

          • demodocus

            You could probably find major holes in it, anyway. It’s just fiction, though it is where I first heard they were similar.

        • Inmara

          Well, in my country people (especially women) casually gather plants for herbal teas (sometimes also for baths and spirit-based tinctures) – we’re culturally very fond of this tradition and everyone knows at least half dozen of most popular teas and what illness they are supposed to cure (also, doctors advise regime of herbal teas and lots of sleep if serious medicine is not warranted, like in case of common cold). Fortunately, plants most often used for teas are easily distinguishable and have no poisonous “siblings” that could be accidentally picked, many are grown in gardens so it’s quite safe (the same goes for store-bought teas that are grown locally). Less known wild plants are another deal, each year some children are poisoned with Cicuta virosa or Daphne mezereum because most adults don’t know how they look like and can’t warn their children too (I have to admit, before my career turned to field related to botanics I didn’t either).

          • Mel

            Each college plant taxonomist I know has a story of their worst nightmare: the time they were called by the ER when a small child was brought in after eating a plant they found outside and the parents and doctors aren’t sure what it is.

            We have two scary berry forming plants in my area of MI – nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) and common moonseed (Menispermum canadense).

            Thankfully, none of the calls ended up with having to worry about either of those. It was good thinking on the parents part to bring the leaves and berries from the plant. That makes IDing it much faster.

          • Inmara

            Solanum dulcamara grows here too; a friend of mine is biologist and tries to teach her children what is dangerous and what is not but nevertheless her daughter (4y at the time) managed to eat few berries of Solanum dulcamara – fortunately, she’s used to share what she eats and therefore brought some berries to mom. Mild fever and vomiting was that, and my friend bought a book on toxicology ASAP for future references. I was always taught by mom to pick only berries and mushrooms I definitely recognize but small children can become so overwhelmed with playing outdoors that they forget any precautions and eat strange things.

          • Tiffany Aching

            My mother lived that nightmare when she was a young pharmacy student. 2 very sick kids and parents who were alright. They had an omelet with mushrooms they found. She repeatedly asked them if they had something different than their kids, she couldn’t figure out why the parents were ok and the kids dying. It is only when my father (who is an engineer, has NO medical knowledge whatsoever, but is an older man and wore a suit), who was at the hospital to take her on a date, asked them, that they admitted they had a copious amount of wine with the meal, which led my mother to a variety of mushrooms which produce a toxin that is inhibited by alcohol (I couldn’t say what kind for the life of me). Very House-esque anecdote.

          • Mel

            I don’t eat mushrooms that I have not purchased from a grocery chain. I’ve never learned mushroom ID and wouldn’t tell people if I did because the side effects of eating a poisonous mushroom are so horrific – and insidious.

            I hope the kids made it.

            We used to have raspberry bushes that grew near some common nightshade. Mom would routinely rip out all of the nightshade, but was worried we would accidently pick it. So we weren’t allowed to pick berries – anywhere – until we were able to describe in detail the difference between the shapes and arraignment of nightshade berries compared to raspberries.

          • Inmara

            Mushroom picking is another national sport of Latvians, so every year there are some news stories about poisoning. Few years ago it was about elderly couple who invited neighbors and their kid and served them mushrooms; turned out there was Amanita virosa among others and before any symptoms appeared people were seriously poisoned. 5yo kid had to have liver transplantation, fortunately, she survived; elderly neighbors didn’t.

            The rule is, you never EVER pick a mushroom if you’re not 100% sure of its species. If you can’t distinguish various Russula species (which are most similar to Amanita species) then simply don’t take them and stick to chanterelles or something similarly safe. Unfortunately, some people learn it the hard way, and some suffer as innocent family members or neighbors.

          • Tiffany Aching

            Well apparently the little girl’s liver was completely fried when my mum and dad left and she was about to be transfered to a bigger hospital. As you can imagine this was a cautionary tale that my mother told us many times when we asked her why she wouldn’t allow us to go pick mushrooms.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            I scared the ever loving crap out of my parents when I was about two when mom turned around for a second to grab something and when she turned back around she saw me pop a mushroom from the lawn in my mouth and swallow before she could do anything.

            I was immediately taken to the ER since she didn’t even get a good look at what kind of mushroom it was and naturally I’d somehow found the ONLY mushroom growing in the lawn.

            Mom still remembers how freaked out she was and that was over twenty five years ago.

    • Roadstergal

      “(You’d be amazed the number of people who’ve never thought about that.)”

      It’s the Kirk Cameron effect. God created bananas just for us to eat, they’re not the product of tons of selective breeding.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Plants don’t like to be eaten.

      Unfortunately for plants, those very compounds the plants use to protect themselves are what humans use for medicinal purposes. Opiates, vinca alkaloids, atropine, digoxin, taxanes…all things the plant made because it didn’t want to be eaten. No plant ever made a medicinal substance because it wanted to be nice to humans.

      • Mel

        Ironically, from an evolutionary stand point, making a toxin that is usually aimed at herbivorous insects can cause humans to grow a given plant in much higher quantities than that plant can hope to achieve on its own.

        Poppies and tobacco spring to mind, but sometimes a insecticidal chemical leads to a huge windfall of reproduction for a plant if the humans decide to lovingly tend your offspring for you.

        I also think that the grass family (Poaceae) has domesticated humans rather than vice versa. Look around. We lovingly collect the seeds of maize, prepare the soil, plant the seeds at ideal spacing conditions, water and fertilize the growing plants, allow them to set seeds and carefully protect the seeds over the winter until we do it all over again. It’s even worse if you think about turf grasses. With maize, you can argue that we at least eat some of their potential offspring. We don’t do that with turf grasses…

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          True. In the evolutionary game being attractive to humans can be a big win. Consider cows: Who knew that being slow and tasty could be a winning evolutionary strategy?

          • Young CC Prof

            I think seedless grapes are a real surprise winner in the human-cultivation game. I mean, think about it. It’s the ultimate in dead-end mutations… until some humans decide it’s the ultimate snack, and then you’re grafted all over the planet.

        • Roadstergal

          “I also think that the grass family (Poaceae) has domesticated humans rather than vice versa.”

          Ugh, that is a pet peeve of mine, especially with water becoming more and more a scarce resource. I have been delighted to see some very pretty ‘alternative’ lawns springing up in my neighborhood – bark, gravel, hardscaping, etc.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            I’m highly allergic to lawn type grass and it can disappear whenever it wants as far as I’m concerned. But it’s definitely currently evolutionarily successful.

    • Mishimoo

      The other one I have heard is confusing chickweed (Stellaria media) with radium weed (Euphorbia peplus) when making a salve, which would not end well.

      • Mel

        I did not know about that combination. Yeah, if you don’t know plants well, those two could look quite similar . Sounds like a salve of radium weed could remove the area of skin it was supposed to treat.

        Once or twice, I’ve used jewelweed (Impatiens capensis or I. pallida) to soothe insect bites when I’ve been working in a more remote area of the farm and forgot to bring an anti-itch spray. Honestly, I much prefer the anti-itch spray, but the jewelweed sap will usually keep me from scratching the spot into an ulcer before I’m done with the chore I set out to do.

        OFC, I could probably get the same relief from ripping some leaves off a maple or any of the non-conifer trees in our area and letting the sap form a crust. If I used the conifers, I’m pretty sure I’d be too tempted to scratch at the itchy spots using the needles. (Yeah, I’m a total wimp when it comes to itchy.)

        • Mishimoo

          My best friend’s mum got upset when I said that I’m clearing all of the radium weed from my yard because its useless to me and not worth the risk to the kids. She wanted to transplant it and use it on her ‘cancer’ (self diagnosed), and is annoyed that I won’t search for it in her yard and show her what it looks like. After all, it is natural, so that means its safe.

  • sdsures

    The ones who claim they can cure cancer are the scariest ones, to me. As per the Cancer Act 1939, in the UK it is illegal to claim you can cure cancer (However, the law does not apply in Northern Ireland).

    “As of December 2014, the sole remaining provision is in respect of advertising to treat or cure cancer, all other provisions having been repealed or subsumed into other legislation.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cancer_Act_1939

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      As per the Cancer Act 1939, in the UK it is illegal to claim you can cure cancer

      But I can. Well, some cancers. Sometimes. Probably. Oh, never mind, I’ll just keep on with “no evidence of disease” even if it’s 30 years later.

  • Mattie

    Eh I don’t think all natural remedies are awful, but I’m also not gonna be spending money on them ‘over’ their medicinal counterparts [except for cough syrup, honey and lemon has been shown to be just as effective (and it tastes nicer, and you can’t accidentally OD on it)]. However, telling people you can use herbs to treat cancer, or that you don’t need any of the ‘nasty chemicals’ and can just dig up some roots and berries instead, is definitely not helpful or moral in any way.

    • sdsures

      I agree. There are SOME, but not all, natural remedies that can be helpful, and therapeutic, but not whilst also excluding all scientific medicine at the same time.

      For instance: massaging sore ligaments or muscles. The woo that gets sold regarding sore bits in the UK is Arnica cream. It has no medicine in it whatsoever, but the smooth cream does make massaging anything a lot easier because it functions as a simple lubricant.

      • Mattie

        Yes! For me, it’s things that don’t actually ‘need’ treatment, if a problem is self-limiting, or won’t kill you. Whether you manage it with a natural remedy, or a shop-bought medicine, or nothing is the same. The aim is just to make you more comfortable, to manage symptoms or whatever. If an illness is gonna get worse without treatment, or could potentially kill you without real medicine…then you gotta use real medicine.

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          My mom and I make our own soap but we don’t think it’s going to cure cancer or anything with raw cocoa butter. We just like the unprocessed cocoa butter because we make soap with coffee as an exfoliant and using raw cocoa butter makes it smell like a mocha.

          We also just have stupidly sensitive skin and we like to formulate to what works best with it. I’ve got my eye on some sunflower oil I want to try out in a new batch. Just because.. Sometimes when I’m really stressed out a bar of the goat’s milk, chopped oats, and honey soap will sooth my skin enough not to break out into a cystic mess. Doesn’t cure my cystic acne, just feels good on it. And making soap is fun. Especially with fun molds and they’re nice homemade gifts without a huge price tag.

          Also tea bags for dark under eye bags. Don’t know if it actually does anything but it feels good after staring at a computer screen all day.

          Basically if it feels good and isn’t a danger to your body, do what you want. Just don’t claim to have found the Holy Grail of medicine.

          • Mattie

            Haha yeh, I had this conversation with a friend recently. She was asking why everyone was obsessed with coconut oil at the moment, my response was that I love it because it does vaguely magical things to my hair…it being natural has nothing to do with it, if I found something ‘as good’ that was made with ‘chemicals’ I’d use that. The bonus is that coconut oil is silicone free, which means it works if you co-wash your hair.

          • demodocus

            Ugh, that reminds me… my stepmother is getting my father to rub coconut oil on his bald head. She wanted to know the other day if I noticed more hair. Um. no. Still a dozen hairs shy of a true chrome dome.

          • Mattie

            I’ve never heard that claim…if he’s not entirely bald though then the hair that is there will be very soft lol

          • demodocus

            the worst part is she’s a retired nurse and he’s a retired respiratory therapist. You’d think they’d notice.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            Maybe you should recite the dead parrot skit to them next time they ask if it’s reviving his hair follicles.

          • demodocus

            Might work, especially since Dad’s a big Python fan.

          • DelphiniumFalcon

            Yeah add in that coconut oil is cheaper than those hair serums and I’ll put it all over my hair! It’s better than the mayo remedy I used to use.

            Found something that makes my hair delightfully silky. Coconut oil mixed with equal parts straight cholesterol you get at Sally’s heated up until it’s just warm enough to spread through your hair. Put it on a comb and use that to comb it through your hair. Then the secret is to get one of those hair dye caps that retains heat and put a blow dryer on the hottest setting and get it nice and warm but not too hot. Let that sit for as long as you can tolerate it and then rinse it off in the shower and use a very mild shampoo and then condition it like normal.

            Soooo good for sun blasted desert hair or just if you accidentally over shampoo it and turn it to straw.

        • Young CC Prof

          Definitely. There’s nothing wrong with using comfort measures in place of drugs for minor and self-limiting problems, or using comfort measures in addition to prescribed treatment for more serious problems. Massage, good food, and basic human attention can all help people feel better, and they’re pretty low-risk.

          The problem is when people start mixing that principle with a couple other ideas. One is the idea that all “natural treatments” are just as harmless as a mother’s hug, and the other is a weird notion of what is and isn’t natural.

          As I said recently, I like to use an ice pack for pain, and pills only if ice is inadequate. But if you get right down to it, the pills and the ice pack (some kind of weird gel, frozen solid in the summertime) are both equally unnatural.

          • Mattie

            Currently using one of those weird gel packs on mosquito bites, along with anti-itch cream and an occasional oral anti-histamine. I react hella bad to mosquitos, and this is making it bearable.

            I have chronic pain and I rarely take pain meds because I don’t want to be on them all the time and at the moment I can manage without, chocolate is my drug of choice lol

          • Allie

            I find anti-perspirant is helpful for mosquito bites (I am damn popular with mosquitoes too). Not exactly “natural” or “herbal.” I think whatever they put in it to make it anti-perspirant as opposed to just deodorant has anti-itch properties. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to make me sweat any less : /

          • Seattle Mom

            I have to say, the first time I really felt like a mom was when my daughter fell and hurt her knee, and I said “Mommy can kiss it to make it feel better.” I half expected her to not believe me, but I kissed it, and she stopped crying. I was like, wow I can do this mom thing. Do kisses count as a natural remedy?

      • Cobalt

        I actually make my own linaments for this reason. It’s the massaging that’s the real “cure”, I like certain scents and viscosity, and its a fun project.