I have tried!
But at present, it is simply not possible to escape the revelations and accusations by Harry Windsor.
So, eventually, I gave in and had a look at the therapy he often refers to. He claims that he is deeply traumatized by what he had to go through and, to help him survive the ordeal, Harry has been reported to use EMDR.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a fringe psychotherapy that was developed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. It is supposed to facilitate the accessing and processing of traumatic memories and other adverse life experiences with a view of bringing these to an adaptive resolution. The claim is that, after successful treatment with EMDR therapy, affective distress is relieved, negative beliefs are reformulated, and physiological arousal is reduced.
During EMDR therapy the patient must attend to emotionally disturbing material in brief sequential doses while simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus. Therapist-directed lateral eye movements are commonly used as external stimulus but a variety of other stimuli including hand-tapping and audio stimulation can also be employed.
Francine Shapiro, the psychologist who invented EMDR claims to have serendipitously discovered this technique by experiencing spontaneous saccadic eye movements in response to disturbing thoughts during a walk in the woods. Yet, as GM Rosen explains, this explanation is difficult to accept because normal saccadic eye movements appear to be physiologically undetectable and are typically triggered by external stimuli.
Shapiro hypothesizes that EMDR therapy facilitates the access to the traumatic memory network, so that information processing is enhanced, with new associations forged between the traumatic memory and more adaptive memories or information. These new associations are alleged to result in complete information processing, new learning, elimination of emotional distress, and development of cognitive insights.
EMDR therapy uses a three-pronged protocol:
- (1) the past events that have laid the groundwork for dysfunction are processed, forging new associative links with adaptive information;
- (2) the current circumstances that elicit distress are targeted, and internal and external triggers are desensitized;
- (3) imaginal templates of future events are incorporated, to assist the client in acquiring the skills needed for adaptive functioning.
The question I ask myself is, of course: Does EMDR work?
The evidence is mixed and generally flimsy. A systematic review showed that “limitations to the current evidence exist, and much current evidence relies on small sample sizes and provides limited follow-up data”.
What might be particularly interesting in relation to Harry Windsor is that EMDR techniques have been associated with memory-undermining effects and may undermine the accuracy of memory, which can be risky if patients, later on, serve as witnesses in legal proceedings.
Personally, I think that Harry’s outbursts lend support to the hypothesis that EMDR is not effective. In the interest of the royal family, we should perhaps see whether so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) does offer an effective treatment against navel gazing?
In 2020, a Swedish team published a study investigating what resolutions people make when they are free to formulate them, whether different resolutions reach differing success rates, and whether it is possible to increase the likelihood of a resolution’s success by administering information and exercises on effective goal setting. Participants (N = 1066) from the general public were randomized into three groups:
- active control,
- some support,
- and extended support.
The most popular resolutions regarded physical health, weight loss, and eating habits. At a one-year follow-up, 55% of responders considered themselves successful in sustaining their resolutions. Participants with approach-oriented goals were significantly more successful than those with avoidance-oriented goals (58.9% vs. 47.1%). The group that received some support was exclusively and significantly more successful compared to the other two.
The authors concluded that New Year’s resolutions can have lasting effects, even at a one-year follow-up.
This is a truly interesting study generating a lot of truly boring resolutions.
Boring is, however, something that we must avoid on this blog. In an attempt of doing just this, I decided to lodge my tongue in my cheek and formulate my very own resolutions for 2023 in relation to so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) and this blog. I shall:
- Never again call a comment or a commentator idiotic.
- Never state that chiropractors, homeopaths, osteopaths, naturopaths, or other SCAM practitioners are unethical charlatans.
- Never claim that subluxations, meridians, vital forces, etc. are pure fantasy.
- Never suggest that the assumptions of homeopathy fly in the face of science.
- Never imply that holism, integrative medicine, etc. are just sales gimmicks for crooks to boost their businesses.
- Never again demonstrate that a study is fraudulent just because its findings are too good to be true.
- Never again utter a critical word about our SCAM-loving sovereign, King Charles.
In case you are puzzled by my resolutions, please consider this: contrary to the above-cited evidence, it has been shown that only 12% of people who make new year’s resolutions will actually keep them. And this brings me to my last (and only realistic) resolution for 2023:
8. I shall not feel tempted to adhere to my New Year’s resolutions.
Is so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) compatible with Christian beliefs? This is not a question that often robs me of my sleep, yet it seems an interesting issue to explore during the Christmas holiday. So, I did a few searches and – would you believe it? – found a ‘Christian Checklist’ as applied to SCAM Since it is by no means long, let me present it to you in full:
- Taking into consideration the lack of scientific evidence available, can it be recommended with integrity?
- What are its roots? Is there an eastern religious basis (Taoism or Hinduism)? Is it based on life force or vitalism?
- Are there any specific spiritual dangers involved? Does its method of diagnosis or practice include occult practices, all forms of which are strictly forbidden in Scripture.
Now, let me try to answer the questions that the checklist poses:
- No! – particularly not, if the SCAM endangers the health of the person who uses it (which, as we have discussed so often can occur in multiple ways).
- Most SCAMs have their roots in eastern religions, life force, or vitalism. Very few are based on Christian ideas or assumptions.
- If we define ‘occult’ as anything that is hidden or mysterious, we are bound to see that almost all SCAMs are occult.
What surprises me with the ‘Christian Checklist’ is that it makes no mention of ethics. I would have thought that this might be an important issue for Christians. Am I mistaken? I have often pointed out that the practice of SCAM nearly invariably violates fundamental rules of ethics.
In any case, the checklist makes one thing quite clear: by and large, SCAM is nothing that Christians should ever contemplate employing. This article (which I have quoted before) seems to confirm my point:
The Vatican’s top exorcist has spoken out in condemnation of yoga … , branding [it] as “Satanic” acts that lead[s] to “demonic possession”. Father Cesare Truqui has warned that the Catholic Church has seen a recent spike in worldwide reports of people becoming possessed by demons and that the reason for the sudden uptick is the rise in popularity of pastimes such as watching Harry Potter movies and practicing Vinyasa.
Professor Giuseppe Ferrari … says that … activities such as yoga, “summon satanic spirits” … Monsignor Luigi Negri, the archbishop of Ferrara-Comacchio, who also attended the Vatican crisis meeting, claimed that homosexuality is “another sign” that “Satan is in the Vatican”. The Independent reports: Father Cesare says he’s seen many an individual speaking in tongues and exhibiting unearthly strength, two attributes that his religion says indicate the possibility of evil spirits inhabiting a person’s body. “There are those who try to turn people into vampires and make them drink other people’s blood, or encourage them to have special sexual relations to obtain special powers,” stated Professor Ferrari at the meeting. “These groups are attracted by the so-called beautiful young vampires that we’ve seen so much of in recent years.”
You might take such statements not all that seriously – the scorn of the vatican does not concern you?
Yet, the ‘Christian Checklist’ also raises worries much closer to home. King Charles is the head of the Anglican Church. Undeniably, he also is a long-term, enthusiastic supporter of many of those ‘quasi-satanic’ SCAMs. How are we supposed to reconsile these contradictions, tensions, and conflicts?
Max Gerson is well-known to experts in so-called alternative medicine (SCAM). After all, he invented the famous alternative cancer regimen, the Gerson therapy (previously discussed here, here, and here). Not that this treatment works – in fact, it is not just ineffective but also dangerous – but it has prominent promoters, not least King Charles III. As I say, Gerson is well known for his cancer quackery. What hardly anyone knows is that, before he dabbled in cancer, he invented an entirely different medicine.
Max was born as the 3rd of 9 siblings into a Jewish family on October 18, 1881. They lived in Wongrowitz, a part of Poland that at the time belonged to Germany. Max went to school in his hometown and studied medicine in Breslau (Wrocław, now Poland), Wuerzburg, Berlin, and Freiburg. In 1909, he graduated from the University of Freiburg and began practicing medicine at age 28 in Breslau. During WWI, Gerson worked as a surgeon in a military hospital in Breslau and was awarded the ’Iron Cross’ for his service. In 1916, he married Gretchen Hope; the two had three daughters and stayed together until his death.
In 1918, the Gerson family moved to Bielefeld (Germany), and Max specialized in internal medicine as well as neurology. During this period, Gerson developed an anti-inflammatory drug combination and made contact with a local pharmaceutical firm, ‘ASTA Medica’. On the occasion of the firm’s recent 100th jubilee, a German newspaper reported: “The company did business with the well-known Bielefeld physician and inventor Dr. Max Gerson. At the time, he owned the prescription and trademark for a painkiller called Quadronal. Dr. Gerson became a silent partner.” Remarkably, Gerson who published >50 papers (most in German) seems to have no publication on Quadronal.
In his biography of Gerson, Howard Straus (Max’s grandson), explained that Max Gerson did, in fact, develop not just Quadronal for ASTA but also another drug, Quadronox, which however was not as successful as Quadronal. Crucially, Straus makes it very clear that the drug company defrauded Gerson and “never paid a penny to him or his family, nor honored his early ownership of the shares in the company”.
When I was a young clinician in Germany, Quadronal was still quite popular, and I prescribed it regularly. It had been unquestionably the main success for the multi-million firm, ASTA. Today, it is less in use or even no longer available (I am not sure, perhaps someone can fill me in). Gerson’s second drug, Quadronox, seems to have disappeared a long time ago.
I find this story interesting and potentially relevant to the history of Max Gerson. His time in Bielefeld ended when he fled the Nazis (many of his family were killed during the Holocaust). Eventually, Max, his wife, and their three daughters ended up in New York where Gerson tried to establish his anti-cancer regimen. He became fiercely anti-pharma, and many of his followers even claim that he died by being poisoned by the medico-pharmaceutical establishment which allegedly was afraid that his ‘highly successful’ cancer therapy would put them out of business. It is hard to resist the temptation of suspecting a connection between Gerson’s pharma-phobia and the unfair treatment Max received from ASTA in Bielefeld.
Obviously, my knowledge about all this is incomplete, and I would love to hear from people who know more about it.
I know, I have often posted nasty things about integrative medicine and those who promote it. Today, I want to make good for all my sins and look at the bright side.
Imagine you are a person convinced of the good that comes from so-called alternative medicine (SCAM). Imagine you believe it has stood the test of time, is natural, holistic, tackles the root problems of illness, etc., etc. Imagine you are such a person.
Your convictions made you support more research into SCAM because you feel that evidence is needed for it to be more generally accepted. So, you are keen to see more studies proving the efficacy of this or that SCAM in the management of this or that condition.
This, unfortunately, is where the problems start.
Not only is there not a lot of money and even fewer scientists to do this research, but the amount of studies that would need doing is monstrously big:
- There are hundreds of different types of SCAM.
- Each SCAM is advocated for hundreds of conditions.
Consequently, tens of thousands of studies are needed to only have one trial for each specific research question. This is tough for a SCAM enthusiast! It means he/she has to wait decades to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
But then it gets worse – much worse!
As the results of these studies come in, one after the other, you realize that most of them are not at all what you have been counting on. Many can be criticized for being of dismal quality and therefore inconclusive, and those that are rigorous tend to be negative.
Bloody hell! There you have been waiting patiently for decades and now you must realize that this wait did not take you anywhere near the goal that was so clear in your sight. Most reasonable people would give up at this stage; they would conclude that SCAM is a pipedream and direct their attention to something else. But not you! You are single-minded and convinced that SCAM is the future. Some people might even call you obsessed – obsessed and desperate.
It is out of this sense of desperation that the idea of integrative medicine was born. It is a brilliant coup that solves most of the insurmountable problems outlined above. All you need to do is to take the few positive findings that did emerge from the previous decades of research, find a political platform, and loudly proclaim:
SCAM does work.
Consumers like SCAM.
SCAM must be made available to all.
Consumers deserve the best of both worlds.
The future of healthcare evidently lies in integrated medicine.
Forgotten are all those irritating questions about the efficacy of this or that treatment. Now, it’s all about the big issue of wholesale integration of SCAM. Forgotten is the need for evidence – after all, we had decades of that! – now, the issue is no longer scientific, it is political.
And if anyone has the audacity to ask about evidence, he/she can be branded as a boring nit-picker. And if anyone doubts the value of integrated medicine, he/she will be identified as a politically incorrect dinosaur.
Quackery is rife in India. On this blog, I have occasionally reported on this situation, e.g.:
- The new ‘WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine’ in India
- Mucormycosis (black fungus): is the Indian AYUSH ministry trying to decimate the population?
- Homeopathy, COVID, India and Prince Charles: not a good mixture!
- Has homeopathy caused the dramatic decline of COVID-19 cases in India?
- Homeopathy research from India is far from trustworthy, and today I can show you why
- Brazil and India collaborate in the promotion of quackery
- Taking the piss again? The story of urine therapy in India
- The intriguing case of homeopathy in India
- Prince Charles’ advocacy of quackery is by no means harmless
- Patient Dies After Homeopath Gives Wrong Injection
- Herbal remedies are good for you … except for the ones that injure your liver
- The ‘AYUSH COVID-19 Helpline’: have they gone bonkers?
Now the Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana has pointed out that legislation needs to be brought in to save people “from falling prey to fraudulent practices in the name of treatment”. Speaking at the inaugural National Academy of Medical Sciences on ‘Law and Medicine’, the CJI said: “Quackery is the biggest disease affecting India” and that hospitals are “being run like companies, where profit-making is more important than service to society”. The CJI added, “another side of lack of accessible healthcare is giving space to quacks. Quackery begins where awareness ends. Where there is room for myths, there is room for quackery”. He continued, “Owing to the financial and time constraints, a huge majority of the Indian population approaches these untrained and uncertified doctors. Lack of awareness and knowledge, misplaced belief, and sheer inaccessibility have massive ramifications on the health of the country, particularly the rural and underprivileged Indian … The need of the hour is to bring in legislation to save people from falling prey to fraudulent practices in the name of treatment … Private hospitals are being opened at an exponential rate. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but there is a glaring need for balance. We are seeing hospitals being run like companies, where profit-making is more important than service to society.”
I am sure the CJI is correct; India does have a quackery problem. If nothing else, the fact that one website lists a total of 746 Alternative Medicine Colleges in India, leaves little doubt about it.
Camilla spent ten days at the end of October in a sophisticated meditation and fitness center in southern India. Life has recently been hectic for the Queen Consort: at 75, she has been in a non-stop succession of various ceremonies for the funeral of Elizabeth II, always one step behind her husband, not to mention her new status as sovereign… Enough to block her chakras in no time.
She came to the resort with her bodyguards and a handful of friends and was able to take advantage of the tailor-made treatments concocted for her by the master of the house, Dr Issac Mathai, who created this high-end holistic centre on a dozen hectares of scented gardens near Bangalore. The program includes massages, herbal steam baths, yoga, naturopathy, homeopathy, meditation, and Ayurvedic treatments to “cleanse, de-stress, soothe and revitalize the mind, body and soul”, as the establishment’s website states.
Guests are required to follow an individualized, meat-free diet, with organic food from the resort’s vegetable gardens, based on lots of salads or soups – Camilla is said to be a fan of sweet corn soup with spinach. Cigarettes and mobile phones are not allowed, although it is assumed that Camilla must have some privileges due to her status… and the basic rate for the suites, which starts at $950 a night – the price of the rooms varies between $260 and $760, the rate including a consultation with the doctors.
Charles and Camilla have been fans of the Soukya Centre in India for a decade. The place corresponds in every way to their deep-rooted convictions about health. Like her husband, Camilla is a follower of organic food, she also practices yoga and treats her face with creams made from nettle and bee venom. For his part, Charles has long been an advocate of alternative medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, aromatherapy, and also hypnosis… He even set up a foundation to support complementary medicine by lobbying the British health service to include it in complementary therapies for certain patients, which caused an uproar among the pundits of traditional medicine.
If you suspected I was (yet again) sarcastic about the royal couple, you are mistaken. The text above is only my (slightly shortened) translation of an article published in the French magazine LE POINT (even the title is theirs). I found the article amusing and interesting; so, I looked up the Indian health center. Here are some of the things I found:
The 1st impression is that they are not shy about promotion calling themselves THE WORLD’S BEST AYURVEDA TREATMENT CENTER. The doctor in charge was once a ‘Consultant Physician’ at the Hale Clinic in London, where he treated a number of high-profile people. As his professional background, he offers this:
M.D. (Homeopathy); Hahnemann Post-Graduate Institute of Homeopathy, London M.R.C.H, London; Chinese Pulse Diagnosis and Acupuncture, WHO Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Nanjing, China; Trained (Mind-Body Medicine Programme) at Harvard Medical School, USA
The approach of the center is described as follows:
The fundamental principle underlying Holistic Treatment is that the natural defense and immune system of an individual when strengthened, has the potential to heal and prevent diseases. In the age of super-specialisation where human beings are often viewed as a conglomeration of organs, it is crucial to understand ourselves as multi-dimensional beings with a body, mind and spirit. These interconnected dimensions need to be in perfect harmony to ensure real well-being.
And about homeopathy, they claim this:
Homeopathy originated in 1796 in Germany, and was discovered by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, a German scientist. Homeopathy is popular today as a non-intrusive, holistic system of medicine. Instead of different medicines for different parts of the body, one single constitutional remedy is prescribed. As a system of medicine, Homeopathy is highly scientific, safe, logical and an extremely effective method of healing. For over 200 years people have used Homeopathy to maintain their good health, and also to treat and cure a wide range of illnesses like allergies, metabolic disorders, atopic dermatitis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Auto-immune disorders.
At this stage, I felt I had seen enough. Yes, you are right, we did not learn a lot from this little exploration. No, hold on! We did learn that homeopathy is highly scientific, safe, logical, and extremely effective!
The question, however, is should we believe it?
I almost missed an article that Swiss Hugo Stamm (no, I don’t know him) has written about me. It is not entirely accurate but made me giggle quite a lot. Here are some passages that I translated for you:
… [Charles] wanted to obtain scientific evidence for the efficacy of homeopathy. It was therefore no surprise that Queen Elisabeth’s homeopath also sat on the appointment committee. The choice fell in 1993 on the German physician and scientist Edzard Ernst, who until then had taught and researched at the University of Vienna. The royal expectations were clear: Ernst was to produce the desired results.
But the professor was not prepared … to fulfill the royal expectations blindly. He first wanted to conduct research according to scientific standards and examine the available studies on homeopathy. In the process, doubts soon surfaced in his mind about alternative medicine. When he then set up randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind studies, he saw himself confirmed: The results were devastating and in some cases did not even reach the values of placebo effects.
Ernst felt obliged to his scientific conscience and published his studies against the will of his “client”. Charles was appalled and instructed his personal secretary to intervene. The latter wrote to the university administration that Professor Ernst had violated the agreed confidentiality. The university buckled after the royal scolding and opened disciplinary proceedings against the rebellious professor. The commission cleared him of all charges in 2010, but his department was closed.
“I was researching alternative medicine with my team; Charles, on the other hand, did not want to question it, but to propagate it. As I found more and more evidence that many alternative medicine procedures were not effective and sometimes even dangerous, tensions between me and Charles increased.” Edzard Ernst
Ernst did not allow himself to be muzzled by the prince and current king and, in 2022, published his book “Charles, the Alternative Prince”… In an interview with the Standard, Ernst said: “For as long as homeopathy has existed, the British royal family has been among the homeopathy advocates. However, Charles has not only promoted homeopathy, but also many other alternative medical procedures. What is striking about this is that he always picks out only the most bizarre and implausible ones and leaves aside those that are rudimentarily evidence-based. This may be because he always prefers the mystical and anti-scientific. Even as a young man, he was led down this path by Laurens van der Post, a South African-born esotericist and self-proclaimed guru.”
… For better understanding, it should be added that homeopathy grossly violates four basic scientific findings. It does not take an education in chemistry or medicine to recognize this.
- Mistake number 1: Cure like with like. Example: Someone who has lead poisoning is given globules made from lead in a diluted form. So, according to homeopathy, lead cures blood contaminated with lead.
- Mistake number 2: Dilution. The tinctures are diluted to such an extent that they contain only a few to no molecules of the alleged active substance. Nevertheless, a healing effect is attributed to them.
- Error number 3: Potentiation: The stronger the dilution, the greater the effect. If a globule still contains many molecules of the active substance, it has less effect than if it contains no molecules at all.
- Misconception number 4: Water absorbs information: By shaking the diluted liquid, information of the active substance supposedly jumps over to the water. This theory also contradicts all scientific findings. If water were to absorb such information, it would be so poisoned that we would no longer be able to drink it.
What probably few consumers of homeopathic remedies know: Globuli are made from countless substances. For example, from whale droppings, stomped ants, highly poisonous black belladonna or from the poison atropine.
But back to Charles: A prince has become a king overnight. But his attitude towards complementary medicine will not change. As a king, he certainly cannot admit to having been wrong all his life. Even if the scientific facts are clear.
In case you are interested in a full account of this story, you might try my memoir.
Yesterday, L’EXPRESS published an interview with me. It was introduced with these words (my translation):
Professor emeritus at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, Edzard Ernst is certainly the best connoisseur of unconventional healing practices. For 25 years, he has been sifting through the scientific evaluation of these so-called “alternative” medicines. With a single goal: to provide an objective view, based on solid evidence, of the reality of the benefits and risks of these therapies. While this former homeopathic doctor initially thought he was bringing them a certain legitimacy, he has become one of their most enlightened critics. It is notable as a result of his work that the British health system, the NHS, gave up covering homeopathy. Since then, he has never ceased to alert us to the abuses and lies associated with these practices. For L’Express, he looks back at the challenges of regulating this vast sector and deciphers the main concepts put forward by “wellness” professionals – holism, detox, prevention, strengthening the immune system, etc.
The interview itself is quite extraordinary, in my view. While UK, US, and German journalists usually are at pains to tone down my often outspoken answers, the French journalists (there were two doing the interview with me) did nothing of the sort. This starts with the title of the piece: “Homeopathy is implausible but energy healing takes the biscuit”.
The overall result is one of the most outspoken interviews of my entire career. Let me offer you a few examples (again my translation):
Why are you so critical of celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow who promote these wellness methods?
Sadly, we have gone from evidence-based medicine to celebrity-based medicine. A celebrity without any medical background becomes infatuated with a certain method. They popularize this form of treatment, very often making money from it. The best example of this is Prince Charles, sorry Charles III, who spent forty years of his life promoting very strange things under the guise of defending alternative medicine. He even tried to market a “detox” tincture, based on artichoke and dandelion, which was quickly withdrawn from the market.
How to regulate this sector of wellness and alternative medicines? Today, anyone can present himself as a naturopath or yoga teacher…
Each country has its own regulation, or rather its own lack of regulation. In Germany, for instance, we have the “Heilpraktikter”. Anyone can get this paramedical status, you just have to pass an exam showing that you are not a danger to the public. You can retake this exam as often as you want. Even the dumbest will eventually pass. But these practitioners have an incredible amount of freedom, they even may give infusions and injections. So there is a two-tier health care system, with university-trained doctors and these practitioners.
In France, you have non-medical practitioners who are fighting for recognition. Osteopaths are a good example. They are not officially recognized as a health profession. Many schools have popped up to train them, promising a good income to their students, but today there are too many osteopaths compared to the demand of the patients (knowing that nobody really needs an osteopath to begin with…). Naturopaths are in the same situation.
In Great Britain, osteopaths and chiropractors are regulated by statute. There is even a Royal College dedicated to chiropractic. It’s a bit like having a Royal College for hairdressers! It’s stupid, but we have that. We also have professionals like naturopaths, acupuncturists, or herbalists who have an intermediate status. So it’s a very complex area, depending on the state. It is high time to have more uniform regulations in Europe.
But what would adequate regulation look like?
From my point of view, if you really regulate a profession like homeopaths, it means that these professionals may only practice according to the best scientific evidence available. Which, in practice, means that a homeopath cannot practice homeopathy. This is why these practitioners have a schizophrenic attitude toward regulation. On the one hand, they would like to be recognized to gain credibility. But on the other hand, they know very well that a real regulation would mean that they would have to close shop…
What about the side effects of these practices?
If you ask an alternative practitioner about the risks involved, he or she will take exception. The problem is that there is no system in alternative medicine to monitor side effects and risks. However, there have been cases where chiropractors or acupuncturists have killed people. These cases end up in court, but not in the medical literature. The acupuncturists have no problem saying that a hundred deaths due to acupuncture – a figure that can be found in the scientific literature – is negligible compared to the millions of treatments performed every day in this discipline. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many cases that are not published and therefore not included in the data, because there is no real surveillance system for these disciplines.
Do you see a connection between the wellness sector and conspiracy theories? In the US, we saw that Qanon was thriving in the yoga sector, for example…
Several studies have confirmed these links: people who adhere to conspiracy theories also tend to turn to alternative medicine. If you think about it, alternative medicine is itself a conspiracy theory. It is the idea that conventional medicine, in the name of pharmaceutical interests, in particular, wants to suppress certain treatments, which can therefore only exist in an alternative world. But in reality, the pharmaceutical industry is only too eager to take advantage of this craze for alternative products and well-being. Similarly, universities, hospitals, and other health organizations are all too willing to open their doors to these disciplines, despite the lack of evidence of their effectiveness.
We have repeatedly discussed the issue of detox as used in so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) and seen that, for a whole range of reasons, it is utter nonsense, e.g.:
- Remember Prince Charles’ ‘Duchy Originals Detox Tincture’?
- Now that you have paid through your nose for the ‘tox’, how about a ‘detox’ through your nose?
- Homotoxicology: ‘the best kept detox secret’? No, it’s even worse than homeopathy!
- Detox is bunk; save your money for something useful, fun or pleasant!
- Scientology detox? No thanks!!!
- ‘DETOX’ = a dangerous and counter-productive illusion
- Have yourself a merry little detox
- It’s beginning to look a lot like DETOX…everywhere I go
But would it not be better to keep toxins from entering the body in the first place?
Yes, you suspected correctly: there are products that claim to do exactly this. Here is a particularly ‘impressive’ one:
ION* Gut Support seals cells in the gut lining, helping to keep toxins out of your body and strengthening the terrain upon which your microbiome can diversify. it uses Humic Extract (from Ancient Soil) and Purified Water.
Humic extract is sourced from ancient soil (roughly 60 million years old), and contains a blend of bacterial metabolites (aka, fulvate) as well as less than 1% of a variety of trace minerals and amino acids including chloride, sodium, lithium, calcium, phosphorus, sulfur, bromide, potassium, iron, antimony, zinc, copper, gold, magnesium, alanine, glycine, histidine, isoleucine, methionine, threonine, and valine.
… the trace minerals in our humic extract are naturally occurring, well below the RDI, and not meant to be used as supplementary to any deficiencies. The truly active compound in humic extract is the fulvate, a unique family of carbon molecules with oxygen-binding sites that are produced by bacteria when they digest nutrients. These molecules are the backbone of the ION* blend, helping with critical functions like cellular and microbial communication and chelation of nutrients.
The science behind ION* lies in strengthening the cellular integrity of your body’s barriers, including not just your gut, but your sinuses and skin as well. Keeping your cells connected keeps these barriers intact, which sets the stage (or “terrain” as we like to call it) for seamless interaction between you and your microbiome.
At ION*, we’re all about connection – starting with the very foundation of our science: tight junction integrity. Tight junctions are the seals between your cells which help to create defensive barriers at the gut, skin, and sinuses. They act intelligently to keep toxins and foreign particles out of the blood stream while also allowing nutrients to enter. These seals are protected by the carbon and mineral metabolites of bacterial digestion.
Unfortunately, tight junction barriers can be degraded with exposure to gluten, glyphosate (the main chemical in commercial herbicides like Roundup), and other environmental insults. ION* has been scientifically shown to promote the strengthening of this barrier through redox signaling, even in the face of those environmental insults.
Your body’s barriers know what to let in (nutrients) and what to ward off (toxins). But the barriers must be strong. ION* works to strengthen your gut, sinus, and skin barriers at a cellular level by fostering tight junction integrity, helping to promote this intelligent defense system at a foundational level.
So much scientific-sounding language can make your head spin.
Which toxins are we talking about?
Are there any clinical studies of the product?
Why is the product so expensive?
What exactly are Humic substances?
I found an answer to only the last question. Humic substances are organic compounds that are important components of humus, the major organic fraction of soil, peat, and coal, and also a constituent of many upland streams, dystrophic lakes, and ocean water.
I imagine that tightening the named junctions – if this is truly a realistic mechanism of action – might interfere with the absorption of all sorts of substances that the body needs for survival. I am, of course, speculating, but one should ask about the risks of using this product (other than the one to the consumer’s bank account).
What we need are clinical studies. And there seem to be none (if anyone knows one, please let me know).
So, what do we call again a health product that makes unsubstantiated claims?
Was it perhaps ‘snake oil’?