MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

A recent article promised to provide details of the ’10 most mind-numbingly stupid alternative therapies’. Naturally I was interested what these might be. In descending order they are, according to the author of the most enjoyable piece:

10 VEGA TESTING

9 REIKI

8 CRYSTAL HEALING

7 URINE THERAPY

6 DETOXIFYING FOOT PADS

5 WHEAT-GRASS ENEMAS

4 PSYCHIC SURGERY

3 OZONE THERAPY

2 CUPPING THERAPY

1 HOMEOPATHY

This is quite a list, I have to admit. Despite some excellent choices, I might disagree with a few of them. Detoxifying foot pads will take care of a common and most annoying problem: smelly feet; therefore it cannot be all bad. And drinking your own urine can even be a life-saver! Lets assume someone has a kidney or bladder cancer. Her urine might, at one stage, be bright red with blood. The urine therapy enthusiast would realise early that something is wrong with her, go and see a specialist, get early treatment and save her life. No, no no, I cannot fully condemn urine therapy!

The other thing with the list is that one treatment which is surely mind-bogglingly stupid is missing: CHELATION THERAPY.

I have previously written about this form of treatment and pointed out that some practitioners of alternative medicine (doctors, naturopaths, chiropractors and others) earn a lot of money claiming that chelation therapy (a well-established mainstream treatment for acute heavy metal poisoning) is an effective therapy for cardiovascular and many other diseases. However, this claim is both implausible and not evidence-based. Several systematic reviews of the best evidence concluded less than optimistically:

…more controlled studies are required to determine the efficacy of chelation therapy in cardiovascular disease before it can be used broadly in the clinical setting.

The best available evidence does not support the therapeutic use of EDTA chelation therapy in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Given the potential of chelation therapy to cause severe adverse effects, this treatment should now be considered obsolete.

The available data do not support the use of chelation in cardiovascular diseases.

Despite all this, the promotion of chelation continues unabated. An Australian website, ironically entitled ‘LEADERS IN INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE’, might stand for many others when it informs its readers about chelation therapy. Here is a short passage:

Chelation therapy has the ability to remove the calcium from artery plaques as well as remove toxic ions, reduce free radical damage and restore circulation to all tissues of the body. A growing number of physicians use chelation therapy to reverse the process of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and as an alternative to angioplasty and bypass surgery.

Chelation therapy is a treatment to be considered for all conditions of reduced blood flow (coronary artery disease, cerebral vascular disease, peripheral vascular disease, angina, vertigo, tinnitus, senility), any situations of heavy metal toxicity or tissue overload and various chronic immune system disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. Intravenous vitamin C is useful for the treatment of chronic and acute infections, fatigue, pre- and post-surgery and to boost the immune system while undergoing cancer therapies.

Not bad, isn’t it. How come such mind-numbing stupidity escaped the author of the above article? Was it an oversight? Was the choice just too overwhelming? Or did he not think chelation was all that funny? I ought to mention that it is not at all harmless like sampling your own urine or having a Reiki healer sending some ‘healing energy’.

Whatever the reason, I hope for an up-date of the list, he will consider chelation as a seriously mind-numbing contender.

2 Responses to Chelation therapy: should it be included in the list of ‘mind-numbingly stupid alternative therapies’?

  • I have given a reference to this esteemed post (above) in the ‘Comments’ section of the article, as they requested.
    IMHO all ‘therapies’ cited are equally ‘mind numbingly stupid’.
    It is not sensible to rank them, they are all as stupid as each other.

    Yes, drinking urine may help dehydration, but the ‘therapy’ claims are as stupid as all the others.
    Detoxifying foot pads may help smell, but offer no detoxication.

    My concern is in respect of those therapies which I am forcably obliged to be involved with.
    That is, those which I am expected to pay for as a UK taxpayer.
    Those are principlally Homeopathy and Reiki.

    Quite how and why the GMC allows registered medical practitioners to prescribe homeopathically prepared (HP) remedies on the NHS is beyond me.
    The GMC should be added to this list as being ‘mind numbingly stupid’!

  • I have heard rants about Big Pharma conspiracy every time a physician is telling that women, especially premenopausal and postmenopausal should eat cottage cheese as good source of calcium and much more (as one gastroenterologist told: most of Latvians are lactose tolerant, including those who believe they are not).
    Why conspiracy? Because people still use to call aterosclerosis using word that means “overcalcification”.
    And, what puzzles me: the same people that call use of steroids in case of autoimmune diseases poisoning, because steroids are not specific (true), suddenly are ready to non-specifically remove calcium, iron etc. from their bodies.

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