Vaginal steaming and the seductive appeal of pseudoscience

Hand drawn phrase NO isolated on white sheet

Why, in the absence of any scientific evidence to support it, are ridiculous “treatments” like vaginal steaming embraced by purveyors of pseudoscience?

Why, in the absence of any scientific evidence to support it, has anti-vaccine advocacy become so popular?

Why, in the absence of any scientific evidence to support it, have homeopathic products that are nothing more than water become big sellers?

Doing the exact opposite of what authority figures recommend is a sign of immaturity, not deliberation.

These are questions that can be asked of any of the myriad forms of quackery that travel under the banner of “alternative health,” a multi-billion dollar industry that is burgeoning despite the fact that it is based on nonsense.

Doctors, scientists and public health officials often imagine that the problem reflects a lack of understanding of basic science. But opposition to science based medicine has nothing to do with science at all. It’s really defiance based medicine, predicated on the bizarre belief that defying authority is a form of empowering anti-elitism, distinguishing independent thinkers from the pathetic “sheeple” who are nothing more than followers.

In contrast to science, which is defined by the principles that causes and consequences are knowable but unpredictable, alternative health is entirely predictable. It’s just the mirror image of science based medicine.


1. If it works, claim it doesn’t. Anti-vax is the paradigmatic form of alternative health. Vaccines are one of the greatest public health advances of all time. That’s why the heart of anti-vax advocacy is the assertion that vaccine preventable illnesses were disappearing before the advent of vaccines.

2. If it doesn’t work, claim it does. Eating right, exercising, and taking herbs and supplements can’t prevent vaccine preventable diseases. There’s no evidence that it can and no evidence that it does so. That hasn’t stopped anti-vax advocates from insisting that the key to health is diet.

3. If it’s safe, claim it’s dangerous. Whether it’s vaccines, medications or GMOs (genetically modified plants), it is an article of faith among alternative health advocates that side effects are scary conditions — autism, autoimmune diseases — whose causes are not yet understood.

4. If it’s dangerous, claim it’s safe. Whether it’s colloidal silver, bleach enemas for autistic children, and even turpentine (I kid you not), alternative health is full of “remedies” that are deadly.

5. If it’s natural, claim it’s perfect. Because everyone knows that natural = safe, even though there is nothing in nature that is perfect and plenty (hurricanes, rattlesnakes, earthquakes) that is naturally deadly.

6. If it’s technological, claim that it’s harmful. Alternative health advocates labor under the delusion that technology has led to disease when the opposite is patently obvious. There was a time when all food was organic, everyone exercised and the only remedies were herbs, and the average life expectancy was — 35 years. In 21st century industrialized countries, massive portions of foods filled with artificial ingredients are plentiful, exercise may be limited to operating the TV remote control, and everyone seems to be on medication of some kind, yet the average life expectancy now approaches 80.

7. If it’s nonsense, claim it’s science. Vaginal steaming is nonsense. Homeopathy is nonsense. Eating placentas is nonsense. People are spending their money on treatments that don’t merely fail to work; they could never work.

8. If it’s science, claim it’s nonsense. Chemotherapy supposedly doesn’t work. Antibiotics supposedly do nothing more than create resistant organisms. Medicine supposedly doesn’t save lives; it kills people.

9. If someone is an expert, claim her education is worthless. Don’t listen to immunologists about vaccines, oncologists about cancer, or gynecologists about care of the vulva and vagina. They’ve been indoctrinated in a technocratic model of illness and disease. What do they know?

10. If someone is an amateur, insist she is an expert. Jenny McCarthy is a prophet of immunology knowledge; Suzanne Sommers is an oncologist, and no one knows more about women’s health than Gwyneth Paltrow.

Yes, there are many societal ills that stem from the fact that previous generations were raised to unreflective acceptance of authority. It’s not hard to argue that unreflective acceptance of authority, whether that authority is the government or industry, is a bad thing. BUT that doesn’t make the converse true.

Unreflective defiance is just the flip side of unreflective acceptance. Only teenagers think that refusing to do what authority figures recommend marks them as independent. Adults know that doing the exact opposite of what authority figures recommend is a sign of immaturity, not deliberation.

Pseudoscience exists in opposition to science based medicine not because advocates don’t understand science (although they don’t); it exists because some people confuse unreflective defiance of authority with independent thinking. But belief in pseudoscience isn’t independent thinking; it’s not thinking at all.

71 Responses to “Vaginal steaming and the seductive appeal of pseudoscience”

  1. rational thinker
    December 3, 2019 at 10:33 am #

    I am really surprised the trolls/parachuters are not here yet.

  2. StephanieJR
    December 3, 2019 at 9:13 am #


    • Heidi
      December 3, 2019 at 2:51 pm #

      Yes, I think it’s administered as an enema to autistic children, much like that bleach MMS stuff. ☹️

      • Heidi
        December 3, 2019 at 3:00 pm #

        My bad. I think it’s usually the other end of the sphincter people consume it. They think autism is caused by parasites and that turpentine will kill the parasites.

        • StephanieJR
          December 4, 2019 at 9:49 am #

          Do these people get stupider every day?

          • Heidi
            December 4, 2019 at 6:26 pm #

            Tiffany Haddish, a comedian/actress, swears by drinking a teaspoon a day. When the interviewer told her it was not found to be beneficial and even very dangerous, she claimed the government was saying that. They don’t want you to know it cures colds! Except the government is not even trying to sell a cure for colds. What does the government have to gain from people suffering from colds? I think the government probably loses money when government employees and the like have to miss work for the common cold.

          • mabelcruet
            December 5, 2019 at 9:58 am #

            I can sort of see why people use turpentine as a medical treatment-medicinal use of turpentine has been going on for hundreds of years. It used to be thought to cure infections, tapeworm and other parasites. There is fringe belief that autism is caused by parasites (along with total body Candida, various viruses and worms), and I think the use of turpentine feeds into that-because its been a folk remedy for years, despite having no signs of it ever working, people think its safe to take. And there is also the bizarre belief that the nastier something tastes, the better medicine it is which I think this crowd totally accept too.

            Turpentine was also heavily used in animals too-Terry Pratchett had a character, Granny Aching, who was the best shepherd on the Chalk, and this was down to her liberally dosing her sheep with turps.

          • PeggySue
            December 5, 2019 at 5:58 pm #

            When I fell on the tar-and-crushed-stone playground at school (almost every day as a first grader) my mother would scrub my knees with turpentine to get the tar off and “really clean them up.” Don’t know if that explains anything about me or not.

  3. December 2, 2019 at 7:03 pm #

    I generally agree with you about vaccines, but the one vaccine I am a little mystified by is the chickenpox vaccine. I honestly didn’t know that was a thing until recently. When I grew up in the 1990’s, chickenpox was a rite of passage, something that everyone got and it sucked but it was over in a week and then you were most likely immune from ever getting it again. I didn’t even know until recently that we now vaccinate kids to prevent them from getting it, and I have to admit the idea seems strange to me. When I was a kid I remember being told it was much safer to get chickenpox as a kid then as an adult. Will today’s kids have to keep getting the vaccine every 10 years or so for the rest of their lives to avoid ever getting the chickenpox? Or does the vaccine you give kids last for life? Isn’t there a danger that by vaccinating kids, more people will get it as adults when it’s more deadly?

    • swbarnes2
      December 2, 2019 at 7:50 pm #

      The vaccine prevents shingles. That alone makes vaccinating worth while.

      • fiftyfifty1
        December 2, 2019 at 9:40 pm #

        The vaccine usually prevents shingles, although not always. I have had a couple of patients who were vaccinated as kids still get shingles.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          December 3, 2019 at 10:01 am #

          I got my shingles vaccine last summer (I am of the recommended age for it)

          • MaineJen
            December 6, 2019 at 2:54 pm #

            My mother got shingles last year, after having gotten the vaccine…she described it as annoying and mildly itchy as opposed to painful, and it went away quickly. Probably less traumatic than it could have been!

      • Juana
        December 3, 2019 at 8:28 pm #

        May I ask a question?
        The chickenpox vaccine contains live attenuated virus, right?
        A few years ago I wondered whether the vaccine virus persists in nerves just like the wild virus does, or if it is cleared completely after vaccination. I couldn’t find an answer despite a lot of googling, including sites like RKI (German counterpart to CDC).
        Anybody here know a source that discusses this topic?

    • AnnaPDE
      December 2, 2019 at 8:20 pm #

      Chickenpox is not the really bad part of chickenpox. The issue is that the virus still stays around after the illness, hiding in your nerve cells, and can get reactivated later in life — usually when you’re in a bad patch immune-wise — and that’s how shingles works. It’s an awful, itch-like pain when it’s acute and can turn into chronic nerve pain, so it’s definitely something worth preventing.

      • fiftyfifty1
        December 2, 2019 at 9:42 pm #

        Well an even worse part of chickenpox is chickenpox pneumonia and even worse than that is chicken pox encephalitis. Both can be fatal.

    • fiftyfifty1
      December 2, 2019 at 9:58 pm #

      “Isn’t there a danger that by vaccinating kids, more people will get it as adults when it’s more deadly?”

      Yes, this is a concern if, for example, only half of kids get the vaccine. Then it falls to doctors to always ask about vaccine status and really encourage vaccination if a child has not had a case by the teen years.This potential problem can be avoided if uptake of the vaccine happens rapidly and near universally. Uptake of the chickenpox vaccine is now quite high, and occurs early (age 1 and again before kinder) so it’s not a problem. Another illness where timing mattered was rubella-a generally mild illness but devastating if somehow a woman did not contract it as a child but instead contracted it while pregnant (not hard on her, but terrible consequences for the fetus.) When the vaccine was being developed they tossed around the idea of only vaccinating girl babies or even waiting until early adulthood to vaccinate women. But this plan misses too many and leaves them vulnerable to infection at just the wrong time. Better vaccinate the whole population early (current schedule gives it at age 1 and again before kinder, just like chickenpox.)

    • December 2, 2019 at 10:02 pm #

      Hi, Laura!

      I was a child of the 1980’s and I remember asking my mom why it was safer to get chickenpox as a kid than as an adult. Her response was that most kids get chickenpox without having any severe side-effects but adults who get chickenpox have a higher rate of side-effects so…it’s safer in kids.

      The important bit of the story is what she said next: “When I was a kid, it was safer to get measles and mumps when you were a kid than as an adult, but you and your siblings are the safest of all because vaccines mean that you never have to get measles or mumps.”

      And really – the best bit about vaccines is that if everyone who is medically able to get vaccinated does the chances of the people who can’t for medical reasons + the small number of people who don’t develop a strong immune response to the vaccine (or after surviving the illness). It’s a numbers game; if most people are immune from the vaccine, the virus can’t circulate easily between people who are susceptible simply because those people are too rare.

      We did it with smallpox. We’re close (so close) on polio. We’re chasing down measles – and we could do the same for chickenpox.

    • Pevensie
      December 3, 2019 at 5:05 am #

      Chickenpox per se might not be that bad (although I understand it’s pretty unpleasant if you contract it as an adult), but as someone who had chickenpox as a small child and then got shingles at 28, I can’t be sanguine about it. I was fortunate enough to make a full recovery after two weeks of misery, but in older adults, shingles can cause nerve damage and pain that lasts for years. If the chickenpox vaccine can at least decrease its incidence and severity — and I understand that it can — I’m all for it.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks
      December 3, 2019 at 9:07 am #

      I do understand where you’re coming from. I grew up in the 90s, too, and was part of the first generation of kids who could have been vaccinated against CP. I wasn’t, because my parents were religious nuts, but that’s another story. 😉
      The thing was, I had a very mild case when I was seven or so, but then had it again when I was thirteen, and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I ran a fever high enough that I was delirious, my face was completely covered in pox, and I got rather hysterical at one point because I felt so horrible plus my face was covered in these awful, itchy scabs. I had moderate facial scarring for a couple of years; my sister, who also had a pretty bad case though she was eleven, has severe scarring still, almost 20 years later.
      I also now have to worry about shingles, which is no joke–the virus reactivates in your cells, and you get a nasty, painful rash, with possible side affects ranging from long-term nerve pain to deafness to pneumonia to, in extreme cases, death. And, a bonus: if there’s a someone near me who isn’t vaccinated or hasn’t had chicken pox, I can then pass chicken pox on to them from the shingles outbreak…think a small baby, or a kid with cancer, or even an adult whose vaccine simply hasn’t taken, because no vaccine has a 100% success rate. Yes, there’s a vaccine for shingles, but I won’t be eligible for it for another twenty years or so.

      • December 15, 2019 at 7:09 pm #

        I thought you were more at risk for shingles if you didn’t have chickenpox as a kid? I recently had a blood test and I think the doctor said I was immune to it. I had a bad case of chickenpox when I was 7.

        • Heidi
          December 16, 2019 at 5:11 am #

          I don’t know if you’re at risk of shingles at all if you haven’t had chicken pox. The virus lies dormant in your nerve cells. You might have immunity right now, but as you age, have to be on a drug that suppresses your immune system (maybe you have an autoimmune skin condition for example), get cancer treatment, get another virus such as HIV, anything that can affect your immune system, that virus can flare back up and voila, you have shingles.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      December 3, 2019 at 10:00 am #

      The chicken pox vaccine is one of the most obvious cases FOR vaccinating. I personally consider not giving the chicken pox vaccine to be sadistic.

      First of all, as has been noted, the CP used to be basically a rite of passage. EVERYONE got the chicken pox at some point growing up. And what did that mean? It meant that you had 7 – 10 days of a nastily itchy rash, often accompanied by a couple days of low-grade to high-grade fever. Kids were quarantined for that time, meaning someone had to stay home with them. Speaking only for myself, CP was miserable, with tons of calamine lotion and pox everywhere, leaving a scar on my head even. On a population level, CP has a mortality rate of about 1 in 20 000.

      In contrast, we could just vaccinate everyone. It’s more than 90% effective, so fewer than 10% will get the disease, and when they do, it is generally milder than for the non-vaccinated version. For those who don’t get it and the vaccine works, the experience is a shot in the doctor’s office, with maybe 30% experiencing pain or redness at the injection site for maybe a day after the shot. The mortality rate is nil (as in, to low to actually be known if there is one), and instead of parents having to take 2 weeks off from work, it is an afternoon office visit at the doctor.

      Anyone who would choose the disease for their child over the vaccine is deliberately inflicting additional suffering on them. It’s still at the point now where if you aren’t vaccinated, you will likely get it, so you can’t pull the trick of the anti-measles vaxxers and rely on everyone else to vaccinate to keep the disease in check. So it comes down to a choice: get vaccinated or get the disease? And comparing the consequences of each, it’s not even close. The vaccine is WAY better.

      Older people like to say things like, “I had it and it was not a big deal” and “It was a rite of passage.” You want to talk about “not a big deal”? My kids were over the shot by the time we left the exam room and were standing to check out at the pediatrician’s office. So you may think that “not very itchy and a week off from school” is not a big deal, but it’s nothing compared to, “We were at the doctor for an annual check up and it hurt for a minute.”

      Chicken pox sucks. As a kid, it sucked. As a parent, it would really suck for my kids to get it – for them and for us (you know, his mom and I work for a living; let’s just take 2 weeks out of our schedule? No thanks). I’m very thankful we don’t have to go through that crap.

      • mabelcruet
        December 3, 2019 at 10:48 am #

        I had chickenpox aged 7-it wasn’t too bad. I was off school for a week as the school wouldn’t let anyone with a visible rash attend, and it was a bit itchy, but having a hot bath helped. However, getting shingles as an adult was horrific. I got it 3 times in less than 6 months and each time it got progressively more extensive-my doctor prescribed gancyclivir, which I think was off-licence at the time, for the third episode. I got thoracic shingles right around my chest where my bra strap landed, which meant going bra-less for a couple weeks. I got post-herpetic neuralgia that took months to properly settle-it was the wierdest sensation, if I stroked the skin where the lesions had been, it was like mini electric shocks sparking. Adding to the stress, my doctor decided to check for immunosuppression, including HIV because he thought it was a bit odd getting it 3 times in a relatively short time. So although I didn’t really have much bother with chickenpox, I would wholeheartedly encourage getting vaccinated because shingles is horrible.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          December 3, 2019 at 11:07 am #

          And again, I’ll take your “I didn’t really have much bother with the chickenpox” and give you my kids, who had NO bother with the chickenpox vaccine. No week away from school, no warm baths.

          Even the mildest forms of the chickenpox are worse than most of the bad reactions to the vaccine. Just proves the point about how much better the vaccine is.

          And the shingles thing just adds on to it.

          • mabelcruet
            December 3, 2019 at 4:18 pm #

            Absolutely. In my career, I have had 3 child deaths due to vaccine preventable illnesses, and these are totally preventable deaths, its obscene that kids are still dying of infection like this, the whole situation in Samoa is horrific. One of my cases was a baby who was exposed to chickenpox, and a couple of weeks later he was found moribund, blue lighted to ED. Resuscitation was unsuccessful and it turned out the poor child had viral myocarditis and massive myocardial necrosis.

        • December 15, 2019 at 7:08 pm #

          I thought you are more likely to get shingles as an adult if you don’t get chickenpox as a kid?

          • Empliau
            December 16, 2019 at 10:38 pm #

            Nope. You are confused. Chickenpox infection leaves the varicella virus nestling in your nervous system (“nerve tissue near the spinal cord and brain” – Mayo Clinic). to be awakened later by something. Or nothing. Like Godzilla, But shingles is a consequence of chickenpox infection.

          • mabelcruet
            December 17, 2019 at 4:48 pm #

            No, you can’t get shingles if you’ve never had chickenpox. The first phase of the infection is chickenpox, and shingles (the delayed second phase of the infection caused by reactivation of the virus hiding in your nerves) can only develop once you’ve had chickenpox. Not everyone who has had chickenpox goes on to develop shingles.

            If you’ve never had chickenpox and not been vaccinated, there is a risk of catching chickenpox if you come into contact with someone who has active shingles (with the blisters still open and oozing).

    • KQ Not Signed In
      December 3, 2019 at 12:01 pm #

      I had Chicken Pox at 16. Just a couple years before the vaccine came out. And I’m still furious. I was sicker than I’ve ever been in my life (aside from pregnancy and food poisoning) and still have scars. Plus, now I’m at risk for Shingles – which my mother had recently and which is excruciating.

      Additionally, I genuinely feel that itching is worse than pain, too. I have to keep my nails extra short so I don’t injure myself when I have an itch.

      You better believe my kid got vaccinated. Why on earth would I want him to suffer any of what I had to or my mother had to. When he can just get a shot? Even if it’s every ten years – so is a Tetanus shot, and I’m not gonna skip that one either.

    • moto_librarian
      December 3, 2019 at 1:44 pm #

      So…I didn’t get the chicken pox until I was 13. And it was one of the most miserable illnesses ever, only rivaled by pneumonia and lab-confirmed flu. I had pustules everywhere (and I do mean everywhere). I have scars because my clothes rubbing against my body knocked off scabs. The itching was awful, as was the ache from the fever. I was so sick that I had to see my pediatrician after-hours to verify that I wasn’t getting a secondary skin infection. I had been exposed at least twice previously, but something about that third exposure was different. I got it, as did my siblings. My sister was so ill that she had to be rehydrated via IV in the ER. The vaccine was licensed several years later, and I am so glad that my children need not know this agony.

      • KeeperOfTheBooks
        December 3, 2019 at 3:23 pm #

        Agreed on the kid thing in particular. When mine are getting their shots, I’ve several times had a newish nurse who takes a look at us and our demographics–mom with three kids 5 and under, religious, homeschooling–and clearly gears up for an argument about the vaccine, then is clearly and pleasantly surprised when I am all “ra, ra, yay vaccines, give them ALL the shots!”. At least, until I explain about having had chicken pox at 13 and how my kids will never, ever have to deal with that, thankyouverymuch. (Or anything else I can get them vaccinated against.)

    • Azuran
      December 3, 2019 at 9:13 pm #

      Well, it’s actually very simple: Just because you had it easy doesn’t mean its the case for everyone. According to the CDC, prior to vaccination, on average 10 000 to 13 000 kids had to be hospitalized and about 100 died each years in the US (not even talking about the massive economical impact of the 4 million cases every year). So yea, worth it, even if it eventually turns out we need to be vaccinated a couple more times later in life

      And I’ve had it awesome, and I mean it. Me and my 3 best friend all got it together during the summer when we were like 7. We were all ‘hell yea!!!! We got the chickenpox!!!!’ and we basically had fun all week bathing ourselves in calamine lotion and running after the other kids because ‘contagion!!!!!’ It’s like, one of my best childhood memory.
      However, I wish there had been a vaccine back then and I had that instead. Because now I might have shingles. And my kids are vaccinated, because it’s much safer.

      • December 15, 2019 at 7:06 pm #

        I hardly had it easy! I had one of the worst cases of anyone we knew. But now I’m immune to it. If we vaccinate kids and the vaccine wears off, and they don’t keep up with getting it at routine intervals as adults, isn’t there more of a danger they will get it as adults?

        • AnnaPDE
          December 15, 2019 at 9:25 pm #

          Yeah but that’s the thing. You’re immune against another infection. And usually your immune system also keeps the virus that’s dormant in your nerve cells at bay.
          But when your immune system is down for some reason — e.g. lots of stress, an immune compromising illness such as HIV, or being on immune-suppressive medication — then those viruses can happily fire up and produce the symptoms known as shingles, without anyone else having to expose you to the virus.

          The whole point of vaccinating is that you not just avoid the initial illness, but also gain immunity without keeping your own little virus reservoir. And if the immunity acquired through vaccination wears off, that’s a reason for booster shots.

    • Alia
      December 4, 2019 at 9:36 am #

      I had chickenpox when I was 21. I missed a concert that I really, really wanted to go to, which was the first awful thing. Then I spent 3 weeks at home, in the middle of hot summer, covered with purple spots and smelling like Soviet vodka distillery (my doctor recommended pyoctanin and salicyl alcohol on pustules – apparently that’s tradition here) – not to mention terrible fever for the first week. And since I got aciclovirum (because, apparently, as an adult I was at risk of complication), the next two weeks were filled with headache, which is a typical side effect. Well, at least when I read the possible side effects, I was relieved this was not a sign of viral meningitis. And my face will never look the same again (fortunately, the really worst scars are hidden under hair).

      And then, of course, is the shingles. Haven’t had it yet but my father had and he was at risk of opthalmological complications, which was really scary.

    • rational thinker
      December 5, 2019 at 8:07 am #

      I was born in 1984 so there was no vaccine when I got it in 88. Me and my three sisters all got it the same time. I remember having a fever and being itchy. I was the youngest my sister who was 7 had it maybe a little worse than me but still not too bad. The next oldest was ten who was worse than the 7 year old but not as bad as the oldest (according to my mothers memory). My oldest sister was 13 and she was the worst she could not even get out of bed to use the bathroom without help.

      There is no guarantee that a child will get it at a very young age when it is less harmful. So its great that we do have a vaccine for it now. I do understand the rite of passage feeling some people have about it, but it is better to take the precaution and vaccinate for it. I was relieved that it was available when I had my first child.

      • December 15, 2019 at 7:05 pm #

        But does the chickenpox vaccine you get as a kid last forever? If not, isn’t there a danger that it will lead to more people getting chickenpox as an adult, which is more dangerous?

        • Who?
          December 16, 2019 at 12:55 am #

          With life expectancy so long now, it’s not clear that immunity from getting the illness is lifelong.

        • Sarah
          December 21, 2019 at 8:22 am #

          The vaccine has been publicly administered for less than 3 decades, so we don’t know yet whether it’s better or worse at conferring lifelong immunity than getting the disease. As far as I know there’s no evidence to suggest one is better than the other at the moment: if so, there seems no reason to presume the vaccine would be less rather than more efficient.

          Fwiw I’m in the UK and one of the reasons it’s not part of the childhood programme here and the NHS don’t usually pay for it is because it was thought that it would drive MMR rates even further down.

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
      December 5, 2019 at 1:07 pm #

      how much is a parent’s time and labor worth? Chicken pox is very uncomfortable for the kid who gets it but also they can not go to school/daycare so someone has to stay home with them. Many, many working parents have no paid days off or get in trouble/get fired for taking too much time off…a week is a lot of unscheduled time off.

  4. Russell Jones
    December 2, 2019 at 5:59 pm #

    I was going to make a fortune by opening a chain of cooter-steaming emporiums/placenta smoothie bars, but unfortunately
    that only works if you’re already a celebrity. I don’t qualify. 🙁

    Don’t listen to immunologists about vaccines, oncologists about cancer, or gynecologists about care of the vulva and vagina.

    I’m not at all sure how anti-vaxxers have convinced themselves that medical professionals know exactly jack about vaccines, whereas the gibbering nutjob whose anti-vax articles appear on Holocaust denial/moon landing hoaxer websites is an unassailable authority, but they manage. Never having outgrown the 12-year-old stomping his feet and screaming “You can’t tell me what to do” phase seems as good an explanation as any.

  5. mabelcruet
    December 2, 2019 at 5:19 pm #

    Eating placentas is ridiculous. Some animals do it, probably because leaving a bloody mass of tissue screams out loud to predators that there is a vulnerable mother and baby around. Also, it is a useful food source for some animals. But there is no evidence at all that this was common in humans despite what the quack peddlers say (this is something missed from the list-quacks will invoke (lie and invent) a traditional ancient ritual that supports their treatment). Remember the ‘closing the bones’ ceremony? That was supposed to be an ancient Ecuadorian tradition, but there’s absolutely no proof at all that it was so.

    The only benefits from eating your placenta is due to its iron content. It does contain various hormones including oestrogen and progesterone, but hormones are proteins, and the act of preparing the placenta will denature those hormones and they’ll be inactive. If you heat-treat or dessicate the placenta to make pills, then you’ve lost those hormones. Placental tissue isn’t muscle, even though it looks like raw steak-its basically a bag of blood vessels and stringy bits.

    • AnnaPDE
      December 2, 2019 at 8:22 pm #

      But horses and dogs eat their placenta raw, right after birth, so it must be good for humans, too! And while we’re at it, we should also nibble on wood and roll around in any dead hedgehog we find, since horses and dogs do those things as well.

      • mabelcruet
        December 3, 2019 at 1:30 am #

        I remember someone claiming that the best way to stop post partum haemorrhage was to hack off a chunk of placenta and hold it in your mouth, sucking on it like a wedge of chewing tobacco. As far as I can see, it’s just another way to get those supermom plus points for making the most sacrifices and suffering the most for your baby

        Water births are another bug bear. Spiralling down the birth canal helps squash out some of the fluid in the babys lungs, readying him for his first breath of air. Instead, he lands face first in water liberally dosed with maternal blood, possibly urine and faeces too. Babies instinctively gasp at delivery-from what I’ve read on mommy blogs theres a prevailing belief that as long as the cord isn’t cut and the placenta is still attached, the baby can swim around in mommy’s stewed juices as long as he wants IT DOESN’T WORK LIKE THAT.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          December 3, 2019 at 10:04 am #

          I remember someone claiming that the best way to stop post partum hemorrhage was to hack off a chunk of placenta and hold it in your mouth, sucking on it like a wedge of chewing tobacco.

          And I remember someone claiming the way to stop post partum hemorrhage was to suck on a cinnamon candy and blow on the woman’t face.

          Top THAT for stupidity!

          • rational thinker
            December 3, 2019 at 10:29 am #

            “And I remember someone claiming the way to stop post partum hemorrhage
            was to suck on a cinnamon candy and blow on the woman’t face.”

            Thats just irresponsible…….you have to blow it on the vagina too!


          • mabelcruet
            December 3, 2019 at 10:55 am #

            I’m sure Gwyneth sells cinnamon scented water (made with naturally filtered water arising from Icelandic limestone springs, and organic cinnamon harvested by Indonesian virgins before the first rays of the summer solstice sunrise touch the trees) that you can add to your vulval steamer. Multi-tasking-steam those ladybits, restore your vaginal plumpness and elasticity, improve sensation and responsiveness (it works wonders for your sex life…) and stop bleeding all at the same time!

          • rational thinker
            December 5, 2019 at 8:22 am #

            I think I remember reading about her website being sued over the stupid jade eggs for inserting up the vagina (for better sex) she was selling. Think she had to pay like $140,000.

          • December 3, 2019 at 10:42 am #

            Frankly, I’d rather have cinnamon candy breath than raw placenta; I might still bleed to death, but at least I’ll do it while smelling a nice cinnamon aroma instead of choking down a nasty hunk of raw meat.

          • KQ Not Signed In
            December 3, 2019 at 12:09 pm #

            I remember that cinnamon candy breath thing too, Bofa. I’ll vouch for it. I also remember the slice of placenta in the cheek or under the tounge.

            God, all this stupid, it’s in my brain like a virus. Like the chicken pox virus, sitting there dormant.

            ZING I brought it back around.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            December 3, 2019 at 3:25 pm #

            “Top THAT for stupidity!”
            Stop giving ’em challenges like that. They take it seriously. If they come up with something even more asinine next week, I’ll blame you! (Tongue somewhat in cheek.)

    • Sarah
      December 21, 2019 at 8:28 am #

      I wonder if the reason we don’t is because it’s more risky than it’s worth? There have been enough humans living in resource marginal environments that perhaps there’d need to be a good reason for ignoring an easy source of iron.

  6. AnnaPDE
    December 2, 2019 at 5:00 pm #

    Dr Amy, detail question regarding vaginal steaming: Would the steam even get into the vagina at all? Or does it stop at the vulva?
    Just asking because in my limited sample of my own vagina, it wouldn’t, because it’s default shape is for the walls to be so close together that they touch, and therefore keep it closed to steam. Having seen a lot more vaginas than just one, what is your take on this?
    Not that it’d make a massive difference in efficacy (or rather, lack thereof), but just wondering.

    • mabelcruet
      December 2, 2019 at 5:27 pm #

      The vaginal canal is a sort of H shape in cross section-the walls sag in against each other when its not occupied. I was thinking that adding hot stream would maybe make the tissues swell (which it definitely would do if you got thermal burns and scalds). And the cervix is generally very tightly closed, so I doubt the steam can get into the uterus. I’m now getting very disturbing images of steam getting into the uterus and blowing down the tubes like the spout of a kettle and ending up cooking the ovaries!

      • AnnaPDE
        December 2, 2019 at 8:25 pm #

        As far as I understand it, the procedure involves sitting over a pan with hot herby water with a towel around the waist, so the risk of sufficiently contained and directed pressure building up isn’t too pronounced.
        But picking up on your kettle idea, I’m sure a teapot with a strategically shaped spout and some wink-wink-nudge-nudge instructions could be sold as a helpful accessory in overcoming this tiny anatomical obstacle…

        • mabelcruet
          December 3, 2019 at 1:36 am #

          I’m going to have to watch an instructional video-do you stand over the pan with your legs apart, or kneel over it, or squat over it? I’d imagine that’s pretty good exercise for your quads, semi-squatting over hot water, with the added incentive of holding your position because otherwise you’d end up fanny first in hot herb stew. I’m sure that must have been a Spanish Inquisition torture method…..

          • AnnaPDE
            December 3, 2019 at 6:59 am #

            I think it’s squat for the sporty set, and sit on a chair or stool with a strategically placed cut-out in the seat for the technologically inclined. Plus a towel around the waist to trap the steam.
            All of this clearly only amounts to steam wafting around the general crotch area, so there’s business potential in improving the directed stream delivery.

          • mabelcruet
            December 3, 2019 at 11:26 am #

            I knew it was torture! Remember the scene in Casino Royale with Bond naked and tied to a chair with no seat? Instead of Le Chiffre swinging weighted rope at Bond’s testicles, you’ve got Gwyneth aiming jets of scented steam at labia.

          • rational thinker
            December 3, 2019 at 5:36 pm #

            Dont they use a similar seat whenever they elect a new pope to make sure he has testicles.

          • mabelcruet
            December 5, 2019 at 10:06 am #

            Isn’t that because of Pope Joan, who allegedly gave birth on a procession and got torn to pieces by an angry mob? I’m sure despite having ladybits, she was a better Pope than the adulterous, murderous and incestuous Borgias!

          • rational thinker
            December 5, 2019 at 4:50 pm #

            yes thats the one. As for bad leaders I do believe Trump may have Alexander the 6th beat in the terrible leaders department.

          • mabelcruet
            December 6, 2019 at 11:37 am #

            Adulterous-tick, incestuous-tick (in his head at least, given some of the comments he’s made about his daughter), murderous-tick (how many Kurds dead since he abandoned them?). Yes, I think Trump has the Borgias beaten fair and square.

          • AnnaPDE
            December 3, 2019 at 8:54 pm #

            This new female-led Bond movie is basically writing itself! I hope the villain will threaten to poison the world’s water supply with some homeopathic concoction infused into jade eggs that are dropped from satellites at her command.

        • kilda
          December 3, 2019 at 9:04 am #

          please don’t give them ideas

        • KQ Not Signed In
          December 3, 2019 at 12:11 pm #

          You get a neti pot and a naughty pot.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      December 2, 2019 at 7:57 pm #

      Very little if any would get into the vagina!

      • AnnaPDE
        December 2, 2019 at 8:27 pm #

        Thank you — that’s what I thought. So in addition to all the reasons why the steaming is a quack idea in the first place, there’s the added “we can’t even name the female parts involved correctly” factor. Feminist to the max.

  7. rational thinker
    December 2, 2019 at 4:41 pm #

    Would vaginal steaming cause bad bacteria to rapidly multiply in the vagina?
    I know it maybe a dumb question but I never really read about this particular subject and I am curious.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks
      December 3, 2019 at 9:10 am #

      At the very least, it sure sounds like a good way to increase your risk of a yeast infection, whether on the vulva or in the vagina or both. Nice warm, moist environment there…*facepalm*

    • Heidi
      December 3, 2019 at 10:31 am #

      I’m guessing it would kill many bacteria but leave behind ones that either weren’t hit with the heat or that are heat resistant. And I’m guessing there’s no guarantee you didn’t kill the beneficial ones and that the bad ones didn’t survive. Or possibly you kill.the majority of them and leave a nearly sterile environment that is clean slate for any microorganisms to take hold. And well the vagina is close to the butt. . .so I’m sure that’s no bueno.

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