Some times the quackery makes me laugh

There’s a lot that distresses me about naturopaths and other quacks. They are a genuine danger to the health of all those who encounter them. This may be in the form of an active danger – cases abound of them prescribing contra-indicated drugs – or it may be in the form of a more passive danger, such as when someone with an easily treatable but potentially deadly disease is misdiagnosed by one of these poorly trained charlatans – but they are a danger any way one wishes to look at it. That said, that doesn’t mean the ineffective methods of these quacks can’t be hilarious. Take this interview with Portland quack Sarah Kotzur:

To determine the best course of treatment, including an appropriate homeopathic remedy, Dr. Kotzur spends two hours with a new patient. “I’m trying to know you as a whole person,” she says. “I’m going to ask about what kind of dreams you have, what kind of food you crave. What is your body temperature? Do you sweat? Are you thirsty?”

Emphasis mine, hilarity Kotzur’s. One wonders how she decides to interpret this arbitrary information when ‘treating’ one of her ‘patients’. If the person has dreams where they can’t run fast, does that mean she prescribes a dose of treadmill time? Tough to tell, but I’d venture a guess that most of her ‘treatments’ come down to garlic, some sort of berry, and/or what is basically water.

The rest of the article goes into attempting to legitimize the practice by noting how it works with insurance and licensing:

Naturopathy has come a long way since the 1980s. There are currently six accredited schools of naturopathic medicine in the United States and 16 states now offer practice licenses. Maine has been licensing naturopathic doctors since 1996.

What the article failed to mention, and what naturopaths don’t want people to know, is that naturopathy is specifically banned in South Carolina and Tennessee. It isn’t medicine, it isn’t related to science, and every single one of its practitioners is a quack.

Anti-science quacks find success in Maine in their fight against health and vaccines

Vaccine rates for young people entering school has been declining in recent years:

The rate of unvaccinated kindergartners in Maine continues to climb and is now the fifth highest in the nation, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Friday.

The percentage of Maine parents voluntarily opting out of vaccines for their children is alarming state public health officials who have been working to bolster immunization.

Nearly 800 public school kindergartners in Maine started the 2013-14 school year without receiving the required vaccinations for diseases such as whooping cough and measles because their parents opted not to immunize. That represents 5.2 percent of all kindergartners in the state, up from 3.9 percent the previous year.

This is in large part due to the anti-vax movement that has been steadily gaining ground since the 90’s. Indeed, although disgraced British doctor Andrew Wakefield had his 1998 study linking vaccines and autism debunked – no one ever reproduced his results, and it was no wonder since he outright made them up – he remains a hero of the anti-vax crowd.

One of the more favored canards of anti-vax quacks is to call herd immunity a myth. Do a quick search and one is liable to find any given quack claiming that herd immunity makes no difference to the health of a state. I recall reading some random anti-vax nobody argue that because vaccines are between 60-80% effective, even with 100% compliance, we could still see an epidemic. Of course, while he spoke of vaccines at-large in an intentionally general sense, he actually linked to CDC statistics on the flu vaccine. I guess it was a coincidence that he found it inconvenient to tell his readers that he was talking about one specific vaccine, huh? So is the high bar set by quacks.

At any rate, for herd immunity to be effective, there needs to be about a 95% vaccination rate. Of course, 100% would be the ideal because we’re talking about saving human lives, but with all the anti-government and anti-science kooks out there, 95% is actually a very achievable number that allows for some bumper space. Unfortunately, sometimes we see areas that fall well below that bumper space. For instance, when vaccine rates for whooping cough fell to 91% in California, communities there saw an outbreak in the disease. Thousands got sick and at least 10 infants died. What makes this all the more heart-breaking is that these infants were too young to be vaccinated, meaning they relied upon the herd immunity around them to remain safe. Anti-vax parents and the quacks they trust are at fault for these deaths. Frighteningly, Maine is on a similar path.

Colloidal silver and naturopaths

If someone randomly asked me what I thought of the idea of injecting silver into the body, I would say I presume it’s toxic, but I don’t know. I would then do a 30 second search on the effects of the stuff and discover that it offers no medical benefits and, in fact, can lead to the condition known as argyria. This is when the skin turns a grey/blue color for life. Apparently it’s only cosmetic, but so are many other disfigurements:

Now, if someone asked the same question to a naturopath or any other quack, the result might be this, especially in Vermont: “Oh, sure, it’s great stuff. Really great stuff. Do you want an injection? I’m legally allowed to put this poison into your body, after all.” They would say this because Vermont, like several other states, allows naturopaths to prescribe certain things for ‘patients’. One of these things is colloidal silver, which is just silver suspended in a solution. My hope is the Green Mountain State is unique in its allowance to naturopaths to poison people, but I’m not sure.

Check out the anger of one person afflicted with argyria:

If NDs had known as much about medicine as I, an educated consumer, do, they would have searched the medical literature before including anything in their formulary. If they had done that, they would have seen that: there are no studies showing that ingesting silver in any form or amount offers benefits; colloidal silver does not treat eye infections; taking silver internally or putting it in your eye can result in permanent discoloration.

If NDs had checked common toxicology reference books, they would have seen that silver causes argyria. If they had looked at old pharmacology books, they would have found warnings about the uselessness and danger of taking it internally. If they had checked current ones, they would have discovered that those practicing scientific medicine discarded silver long ago.

If NDs followed notices published by NCCAM, the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, or the FDA, they would have seen consumer warnings as well as the FDA rule in the Federal Register stating that silver cannot be used as a drug because ingesting it offers no benefits and is dangerous.

If NDs had googled “silver” or “colloidal silver”, they would have learned all of the above.

If they followed the mainstream media, they would have seen Paul Karason or me. The local, national and international media has covered our stories extensively. Paul was on Oprah. Consumers Reports listed “colloidal silver” among its latest list of “dirty dozen” supplements to be avoided. The Wall Street Journal said, “federal regulators say it a total scam”.

(Paul Karason is the guy pictured above.)

I find it just deplorable that we license these people at all, but to allow them prescription rights is actively dangerous. Even if they manage to not prescribe contraindicated drugs – something I doubt most of them are even aware should be a concern – they still have the right to effectively give people poison. It’s awful.

via SBM