MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

My father invented a therapy for which there was no disease, my mother caught it and died.”

This type of scurrility makes me laugh. And it reminds me of the missing link in so-called alternative medicine (SCAM). We have heard about alternative therapies, alternative diagnostic methods, but what about alternative diseases and conditions? Here are some that SCAM practitioners seem to be oddly fond of:

  • – adrenal fatigue
  • – chi deficiency
  • – yeast overgrowth
  • – leaky gut syndrome
  • – leaky brain syndrome
  • – chronic Lyme disease
  • – various food ‘sensitivities’
  • – methylation dysfunction
  • – spinal subluxation
  • – vaccine-induced ‘toxicity’
  • – toxin-overload

But surely, these cannot be enough! For the field of SCAM to make progress, we definitely need many more. So, I had a brainstorm and came up with the following suggestions:

  • Ataxia: the condition (of many SCAM practitioners, but also others) where patients fail to declare their income to the taxman; usually cured by a short stay in the nick.
  • Cardioversion: an insurmountable dislike of conventional clinicians like cardiologists; a self-limiting condition that usually improves after receiving proper medical attention during a serious illness.
  • Collagen: a genetic disorder that shows itself through a strong dislike of experts who have been to college; incurable.
  • Deepak Chopra Syndrome: a serious neurosis where the patient cannot stop uttering BS; incurable.
  • Digitoxin: the unfortunate condition where a spiritual healer sends toxic spirits into the patient via his/her fingers; needs urgent detox.
  • Donovan bodies: a psychiatric affliction where patients are compelled to look and sing like Donavan; requires a sound-proof cell.
  • Duodenal ulcer: an unfortunate condition where the patient has two denal ulcers at the same time; emergency Reiki is advised.
  • Dyspepsia: the pathological preference of Coke over Pepsi; incurable.
  • Familial diseases: an umbrella term for all the few conditions that SCAM practitioners actually know about; can improve with reading a few textbooks.
  • Free radicals: terrorists on the run; call the police!
  • Fungal infection: a rare form of food poisoning where the magic mushrooms were off; needs detox.
  • Iridocyclitis: an obsession that afflicts iridologists who cannot stop riding bicycles; incurable.
  • Keratosis: the dangerous situation where a patient develops an aversion to his/her carer; change of carer is often needed.
  • Murial dyslexia: the inability to be able to read the writing on the wall; incurable.
  • Myositis: is always worse than your ositis.
  • Osteoblast: an event where, after chiropractic manipulation, a bone breaks with an audible noise; see an orthopedic surgeon.
  • Semi-colon: the embarrassing situation where a colonic irrigationist managed to clean out only half of the colon; manageable by changing your therapist.

If you, the reader, can think of more ways to expand the repertoire of SCAM terminology, please feel free to let us all know by posting your ideas below.

8 Responses to We have plenty of alternative therapies – but what about alternative diseases?

  • Edzarditis: This is a qute rare condition affecting binary thinking, mono focused disciples of EBM.
    There is a religious type fever.
    Paranoia
    Tendency to hyperbole
    Prolific output with little impact causing frustration.
    There is no EBM cure.
    SCAMists though propose that walking in nature, relaxing and general chilling out may help although there is no evidence for this.

  • Dullman Syndrome: It has already been described on this blog, so I am just linking it again

    https://edzardernst.com/2021/02/the-dullman-syndrome/

  • I don’t understand what you have against Donovan’s music – have I missed something?

  • Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity, anyone?

    (I plan to do research on people who suffer from this ailment.)

  • Morgellon’s – in which people believe they have either parasites or fibres extruding from sores on their skin. In reality it is a form of delusional parasitosis. Quacks buy into it because they can endlessly bilk these poor souls with useless treatments for a non-existent condition. The suffering however is very real.

    Wilson’s Syndrome (as distinct from Wilson’s Disease.) Supposedly low body temperature with thyroid dysfunction in spite of normal thyroid function tests and non-specific symptoms. It is “treated” with potentially dangerous supplementary doses of sustained release T3.

    Autistic Enterocolitis. We have Andrew Wakefield to thank for this spurious condition which he invented in his gambit to create a market for his individual versions of the MMR vaccine.

    Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. In which sufferers and their quacks claim to be allergic to multiple or in some cases nearly all substances or in some cases just modern chemicals. There is no evidential basis for this condition but it is a great income generator for NDs and other quacks while the victims need more in the way of psychological help.

    Vaccine Overload. Something like “kids getting 27 shots in the first few years of their lives” or whatever. There is zero evidence of overload and kids are exposed to many orders of magnitude more antigenicity just from normal exposure to atmospheric and environmental “stuff” in everyday life.

    Schoenfeld’s Syndrome. Autoimmune/autoinflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA) was described in 2011. Over time the condition and its triggers have broadened to include several autoimmune disorders, the macrophagic myofasciitis syndrome, the Gulf war syndrome, the sick building syndrome, siliconosis, and the chronic fatigue syndrome. The diagnostic criteria are so vague that it is possible to squeeze almost anyone in to suit. It is heavily promoted by one research group to explain a diverse range of disorders – and vaccines are a major culprit with the aluminium adjuvant being blamed as the likely cause along with silicone and vague infections as alternatives. As if we needed another vaccine scare reason! It is not taken seriously by credible immunologists.

    Wind turbine syndrome. (otherwise known as Trump syndrome.) Believers think the turbines cause cancer and other ailments in spite of the total absence of any scientific correlation or evidence.

    Candida Hypersensitivity. As distinct from the common alt med belief that simple overgrowth of candida taking over your whole body is the cause of all your ailments, this unsupported notion holds that you are just allergic to it causing fatigue, weight gain, and all manner of other vague symptoms that NDs and other quacks can bilk you for treating with wacky and totally useless nostrums.

    Reward Deficiency Syndrome. A discredited theory regarding genetics and D2 dopamine receptors in the brain connected with addiction, obsessive and compulsive behaviours and substance abuse. It’s not totally implausible but there is no credible evidence to back any of it up and empirical evidence in fact tends to work against it.

    Mercury Poisoning from Dental Amalgam. Believers in this condition allege that victims are slowly being poisoned by the mercury slowly leaching out from their dental fillings into their body tissues and causing “toxicity.” Mercury has been in use in dental amalgam fillings for over 150 years. Numerous studies have been conducted and have failed to show any evidence of harm from mercury accumulation or “leaching” of anything remotely resembling significant degrees.
    Mercury is present in the environment and we are exposed to small levels of it all the time.

    Even swallowing a dental amalgam filling that broke loose would not result in any significant mercury exposure. Amalgam fillings last longer than newer composites by far and are easier to work with. Even dentists who obviously are exposed to them in vastly greater quantities than patients have not shown evidence of mercury accumulation or toxicity provided standard safety precautions are followed.

    Mercury absorption through the GIT and skin is poor and the most dangerous exposure is through aerosolization and inhalation. Perversely therefore people who elect to have their old amalgam fillings removed are actually exposing themselves quite unnecessarily to ADDITIONAL mercury accumulation via the most dangerous route (inhalation) while the old filling is drilled out.

    Also perversely current advice to dentists in the UK is to err on the side of caution (in the total absence of evidence) and to use composite fillings in children and pregnant women.) However in spite of the fact that there is data on the safety of mercury amalgam fillings in pregnant women for the last 150 years, there is no such data on the safety of composite fillings which will have to be replaced much more frequently……….
    This is yet another example of sound clinical practice being swayed by the loony ramblings of unhinged idiots with a megaphone who believe that they know more than everybody else.

    All of these fake diseases are merely opportunities for charlatans like naturopaths, homeopaths, chiropractors, reiki masters, reflexologists, TCM practitioners, acupuncturists and so on to profit from the genuine suffering of some desperate individual who falls for their patter and their snake-oil pitch in order to bleed them dry.
    When all they can really offer them is false hope, lies, misinformation and further pain.

    It is the very lowest form of knavery.

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