Dying to Believe

Number 127 in a series

The world of Christian Science is rich to mine when I’m assembling stories of people killed by faith. Here is one more:

Elizabeth King, a 12-year-old in Phoenix, developed a tumor near her knee in the fall of 1987. Her parents called in a Christian Science practitioner. By the time the local authorities learned of the girl’s condition, the tumor had ballooned; one nurse compared it in size to two watermelons. She died four weeks later. Her parents pleaded no contest to a charge of reckless endangerment.

Think about this whenever you ponder the story of Abraham being commanded by God to murder his son. There really are people like that.

Dying to Believe

Number 126 in a series

Christian Science, a Christian sect established by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879. The term is an oxymoron, since the words “Christian” and “science” would not normally appear in the same sentence. “Death by oxymoron” is not something you should want on your gravestone:

BREWSTER Nancy Anne Brewster, 7, died September 29, 1963 at her home in El Paso, Texas, after a 2-1/2 year battle with “Malignant tumor right side of neck”, “probably malignant lymphoma”, “(microscopic pending)” (quotes from Certificate of Death). Nancy never had an obituary in El Paso and there was never any service to honor Nancy when she died. This is her first obituary. Nancy was my little sister by 13 months. My mom used to dress us like twins. Nancy went to Putnam Elementary School like I did, but after the first grade she was too sick to go to school anymore. The first time Nancy and I went horseback riding she rode a little white horse named Frosty and I rode a great big one named Redwood. We went to Disneyland, Western Playland, the zoo, and played Pik-Up Sticks and dolls together. Nancy liked swimming, playing tag and kickball before she got sick. Nancy also enjoyed climbing trees with me and reading books. She loved tacos, ice cream and bananas. Her favorite book was The Lonely Doll Learns a Lesson by Dare Wright. She got it for Christmas from my father’s parents in 1962. I still have the book, along with Nancy’s other personal possessions that my mother gave me. Her Easter muff, her locket, a tiny ring, a little bracelet, and letters and cards Nancy wrote to me and our parents are a few of those treasured possessions. Nancy was very brave and strong when she got sick, and she gave new meaning to the word courage. Her valiant struggle with her illness remains an inspiration to me today. She endured a 2-1/2 year battle with the cancer that finally took her life without so much as an aspirin, a comforting hand or soothing words, a cold rag on her forehead when she was vomiting, which she did frequently.

There is additional detail on another site:

Nancy Brewster

Age: 7
El Paso, Texas

Died (untreated cancer)
September 29, 1963
She got a lump on her neck at 5 and soon was too sick to go to school. A Christian Science practitioner prayed for her and said the illness was an illusion. When she died there was no funeral and the family never spoke of her again.

Not so much as an aspirin.

Son of Snake Oil

Number 2 of a Series

It’s back.

Actually, I think it never left. In fact, this outdates that good old American snake oil by centuries. It’s Qigong, and it’s here to save your life.

I have a number of email accounts, and one of them is devoted to matters skeptical. Here I receive all manner of challenges for the North Texas Skeptics paranormal prize and also a bunch of stuff relating to alternative medicine—AltMed. Qigong (chee gong) is not new to the Skeptics. At the CSICOP conference we hosted in 1992 they had a presenter come all the way from China to fill us in. It works like this. From Wikipedia:

The theories of ancient Chinese qigong include the Yin-Yang and Five Phases Theory, EssenceQiSpirit Theory, Zang-Xiang Theory, and Meridians and Qi-Blood Theory, which have been synthesized as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM focuses on tracing and correcting underlying disharmony, in terms of deficiency and excess, using the complementary and opposing forces of yin and yang (陰陽), to create a balanced flow of qi. Qi is believed to be cultivated and stored in three main dantian energy centers and to travel through the body along twelve main meridians (Jīng Luò 經絡), with numerous smaller branches and tributaries. The main meridians correspond to twelve main organs (Zàng fǔ 臟腑)). Qi is balanced in terms of yin and yang in the context of the traditional system of Five Phases (Wu xing 五行).[13][14] A person is believed to become ill or die when qi becomes diminished or unbalanced. Health is believed to be returned by rebuilding qi, eliminating qi blockages, and correcting qi imbalances. These TCM concepts do not translate readily to modern science and medicine.

The above image is from the site linked in the email I received Saturday. So is this one:

You are going to click on the images of satisfied patients to obtain additional information. Here is what they offer:

Feeling stressed? Having trouble unplugging from your full — sometimes too full! — life?

You might be looking for a simple practice that can help you find more balance… physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

Or maybe your energy is low, you feel rundown, and you’re vulnerable to illness — or you have a chronic condition — and your go-to remedies and practices aren’t enough to turn things around.

It’s time to take your health into your own hands.

A daily Qigong practice, available to everyone, can immediately lower stress, increase energy, prevent illness, and support you in rejuvenating your body, mind, and spirit.

With Qigong, you can learn to bring healing energy — known as “Qi” — to particular parts of your body to transform anxiety, stress, and disease into self-confidence, inner peace, and optimal health.

As your body responds by doing what it’s designed to do (heal and re-balance itself), blockages in your flow of Qi disappear and your full life force energy moves smoothly, radiating out into all aspects of your daily life.

During The Qigong Global Summit, some of the world’s foremost Qigong teachers — including Master Mantak Chia, Daisy Lee, Lee Holden, Dr. Effie Chow, Dr. Roger Jahnke, Master Mingtong Gu, Pedram Shojai, Sifu Ama Lia Wai Ching Lee, Robert Peng, and others — will show you simple yet powerful practices to cultivate abundant Qi flow for your health, healing, and daily life.

These Qigong teachers, masters, and doctors in the first-ever Qigong Global Summit will share insights into the practices of Qigong, Tai Chi, Martial Arts, and Traditional Chinese Medicine — as well as how Qi is the foundation of all of these ancient arts, and more.

Through beautiful, high-quality video, they’ll illuminate both the philosophical and practical components of working with Qi — and offer simple practices you can use right away.

Our highly esteemed teachers will offer their wisdom on how to discover your inner healing potential, and perspectives on how to flow with the challenges of daily life.

That next to last paragraph is a winner. Qigong is all about managing your qi:

Believers of qi (chee) describe it as a vital energy whose flow must be balanced for health. Qi is a pseudoscientific, unverified concept, which has never been directly observed, and is unrelated to the concept of energy used in science (vital energy is itself an abandoned scientific notion).

I am not an authority on acupuncture, but those knowledgeable tell me it is based on managing your qi:

You may have heard the words “qi” or chi” with regard to acupuncture and alternative medicine. But do you even know how to pronounce it, let alone understand the concept? If you’ve ever wondered: “What is (qi) chi energy?” then read on. Understanding this important concept will help you better comprehend how Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture work.

The basics of understanding Chi | AMC Acupuncture School Miami

Qi or chi — pronounced “chee” — is the energy flow created along the pathways that connect the acupuncture points on the body. The pathways between the points are called meridians, which also connect to internal organs in the body. Using acupuncture needles, pressure or heat to manipulate a point or two separate points on the body can improve a person’s qi — which is also thought of as one’s life force — and relieve the symptoms of a variety of medical conditions, including chronic pain, digestive issues, respiratory problems and more. This understanding of the human body comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine, which is thousands of years old. It’s a different way of thinking about how the body works than conventional Western medicine.

I was thankful to receive this particular piece of mail. It reminded me that foolishness is not not a modern invention. It is a human tradition that stretches back to the time when ignorance was an excuse.

Coming next: feng shui. I guarantee, you’re going to love it.

Dying to Believe

Number 116 in a series

Feeling as though the world has started to go loopy? You’re not alone, and it has:

Nearly 90 Percent Of Americans Have Prayed For Healing

Prayer is a common but little-discussed feature of therapeutic care.

If you’ve ever prayed for healing for yourself or someone you know, you’re not alone. In fact, the majority of Americans have prayed for healing at least once in their lives, and this prevalence suggests the spiritual practice could have some major benefits, according to a new study.

About 79 percent of people have prayed for themselves and 87 percent have prayed for others, according to data from a randomized Gallup survey of 1,714 Americans. Among those who have prayed for themselves, 32 percent reported they do so often, and among those who have prayed for others, 51 percent do it often.

More than half of the survey respondents have asked for prayer for themselves or participated in a prayer group (54 percent and 53 percent, respectively), and 26 percent have even participated in a laying on of hands, or when a person places their hands on the body of someone who needs healing while praying for them.

A little background. I had hospital procedures on two occasions this year, and I kept getting this question in the entrance interview. “Do you have a religious preference.” I’m wondering if I answered yes, and something went wrong in the O.R., would they pray for me, or would they actually make an attempt at saving my life? The things is, I would never know.

Dying to Believe

Number 111 in a series

When nothing else will save their lives, people often resort to remedies guaranteed not to save their lives. The quack practitioners position themselves to  profit from the misfortune of others:

“It was always game on for him. His generosity and sense of humour lasted till the end. He was brave without ever being dramatic. In a word, Jeff was inspirational.”

In 2007 Healey underwent surgery to remove cancerous tissue from his legs and both lungs. Radiation and chemotherapy failed to halt the spread of the disease, as did alternative homeopathic treatment in the U.S. this year.

Homeopathy did not kill guitarist Jeff Healey. Neither did it contribute anything of value to his final days.

Son of Snake Oil

I may need to  start a new series

First some history. I have a gym membership, and I spend some time on the treadmill. The treadmills come equipped with cable TV, and you can punch in the channel you want. I was strolling and scanning CNN when they went to a commercial break. The first thing that caught my attention was this.

Some call me skeptical, and some call me cynical, but I’m cool with that. No surprise ,the first thing that popped into my mind was the F-word. No, it’s not the word you’re thinking of, but it’s a word you do not use when describing somebody’s business if you don’t want to get sued.

So I watched the ad, and I figured it would show up on YouTube back home, and here it is. Follow the link to watch.

Listening, I caught the correct pronunciation, and it’s re-VI-tive. You purchase one of these things—easy payment terms are offered—and you crank it up and put your feet on it—don’t know if you’re supposed to stand on it—and it sends electrical impulses into your legs, causing your muscles to contract and not, and the result is supposed to be less pain. Assuming you had pain to begin with.

Here’s a guy using it sitting down. The claim is you only need one session a day.

See the image at the top. This is “clinically proven.” Do we know what that means? They don’t elaborate. They do mention—see image number 2 above—the device is “FDA Cleared.” I wondered about that. They have an ad site on the Web, and there is additional language:

FDA Cleared: Giving you peace of mind

OK, not much. Another site was more informative:

What Does “FDA Cleared” Mean?

According to the organization, FDA cleared means that a device has been submitted to the FDA along with a 510(k) premarket notification, showing that it is “substantially equivalent to a device that is already legally marketed for the same use.”

In other words, “FDA cleared” does not mean that the FDA has approved the device, that they’ve confirmed it works as advertised, or that they’ve even tried it in the first place.

The Food and Drug Administration explains more on their site: From there I snooped further and pulled up this document. I have a copy in case this link ever goes stale, and the critical wording is this:

Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Document Control Center – WO66-G609
Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002

􀆏 John J. Smith, MD, JD
Regulatory Counsel
Hogan Lovells US LLP
Columbia Square 555 13th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Re: K143207
Trade/Device Name: Revitive IX (OTC)
Regulation Number: 21 CFR 890.5850
Regulation Name: Powered Muscle Stimulator
Regulatory Class: Class II
Product Code: NGX, NUH
Dated: November 7, 2014
Received: November 7, 2014

Dear Dr. Smith,
We have reviewed your Section 510(k) premarket notification of intent to market the device referenced above and have determined the device is substantially equivalent (for the indications for use stated in the enclosure) to legally marketed predicate devices marketed in interstate commerce prior to May 28, 1976, the enactment date of the Medical Device Amendments, or to devices that have been reclassified in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (Act) that do not require approval of a premarket approval application (PMA). You may, therefore, market the device, subject to the general controls provisions of the Act. The general controls provisions of the Act include requirements for annual registration, listing of devices, good manufacturing practice, labeling, and prohibitions against misbranding and adulteration. Please note: CDRH does not evaluate information related to contract liability warranties. We remind you, however, that device labeling must be truthful and not misleading.
If your device is classified (see above) into either class II (Special Controls) or class III (PMA), it may be subject to additional controls. Existing major regulations affecting your device can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21, Parts 800 to 898. In addition, FDA may publish further announcements concerning your device in the Federal Register.
Please be advised that FDA’s issuance of a substantial equivalence determination does not mean that FDA has made a determination that your device complies with other requirements of the Act or any Federal statutes and regulations administered by other Federal agencies. You must comply with all the Act’s requirements, including, but not limited to: registration and listing (21 CFR Part 807); labeling (21 CFR Part 801); medical device reporting (reporting of medical device-related adverse events) (21 CFR 803); good manufacturing practice requirements as set forth in the quality systems (QS) regulation (21 CFR Part 820); and if applicable, the electronic product radiation control provisions (Sections 531-542 of the Act); 21 CFR 1000-1050.
If you desire specific advice for your device on our labeling regulation (21 CFR Part 801), please contact the Division of Industry and Consumer Education at its toll-free number (800) 638-2041 or (301) 796-7100 or at its Internet address
http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ResourcesforYou/Industry/default.htm. Also, please note the regulation entitled, “Misbranding by reference to premarket notification” (21 CFR Part 807.97). For questions regarding the reporting of adverse events under the MDR regulation (21 CFR Part 803), please go to

http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/Safety/ReportaProblem/default.htm

for the CDRH’s Office of Surveillance and Biometrics/Division of Postmarket Surveillance.
You may obtain other general information on your responsibilities under the Act from the Division of Industry and Consumer Education at its toll-free number (800) 638-2041 or (301) 796-7100 or at its Internet address

http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ResourcesforYou/Industry/default.htm.

Sincerely yours,

Felipe Aguel -S for
Carlos L. Peña, PhD, MS
Director
Division of Neurological
and Physical Medicine Devices
Office of Device Evaluation
Center for Devices and Radiological Health

I have omitted some uninteresting stuff to leave room for the uninteresting stuff I did not omit. I am sure you are as impressed at the thoroughness of our government agencies as I was upon going through this very professionally-prepared document.

Final analysis: the FDA has not tested this device, and it goes without saying they are not vouching for its effectiveness. Buy it if you wish. Use it if you wish. Complain or don’t complain. Some have (excerpts):

15 Consumer Reviews for Revitive (2.7 on a scale of 1 to 5)

Got scammed by these guys

I tried to place an order yesterday, May 16th, at 3:49 AM and their associate said my order did not go through. I told her to hold while I call Discover and she agreed. I get through to Discover and they said she put two charges on my card for $394. She did not hold one minute to hear this. I called back several times to speak to supervisors and other associates on phone, and now they give me the run around that they do not see my name in their system nor phone number. Two charges pending on my credit card are sure showing up for $394. I have contacted to inform them of their scamming associates. Never will I attempt to do business with this company!

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

Swollen leg and ankle.

  • By David Wardley,
  • Auckland, New Zealand,
  • May 12, 2018
  • Verified Reviewer

Swollen right leg and ankle for nearly three years and getting worse. Arthritic right foot too. Leg scan last week showed no clots. Compression socks helped a but slow progress. After only three days of Revitive use while watching the 6 o’clock news, leg calf and ankle is back to normal size, foot is much better too, and pain is gone. Believe it!

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend [gave it 5 stars]

Disappointment

I don’t know if you can say it’s a fake or scam, but it’s not any good if you have much pain. It may help tired feet and legs, but it’s worthless when it comes to diabetic pain. I think it’s way overpriced, and I’d never buy one thinking it was going to help, believe me, I have one built in. I know they will never print this because they know it’s the truth, I’ve been typing this just for fun I guess, but I tried. Good luck, I hope it helps you more than it did me.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend [gave it 1 star]

It may not be the snake oil of legend, but it could pass for the son of snake oil.

Dying to Believe

Number 108 in a series

Homeopathy has stalked the human population for over 220 years, leaving disappointment and death in its wake. In The BMJ Pascal Delaunay and others write under the naive title “Homoeopathy may not be effective in preventing malaria.”

editor—The homoeopathic principle that like should be cured with like is not always advisable,1 as illustrated in this case report.

A 40 year old woman took two holidays a year in tropical countries. After experiencing digestive disorders with conventional prophylactic drugs she decided to seek medical advice from a homoeopath for her forthcoming holiday in Togo. Two homeopathic drugs were prescribed: Ledum palustre 5 CH (Boiron, Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon, France) as one granule daily and Malaria officinalis 4 CH (Schmidt-Nagel, Meyrin, Switzerland) as a single dose on the day before departure.

Ledum palustre 5 CH can be purchased in any French pharmacy and is usually taken to prevent insect bites or to reduce allergic reactions and pruritus. Malaria officinalis 4 CH is unavailable in France and therefore was bought by mail order. The preparation is taken “against malaria” as the doctor or patient sees fit. It is made from “African swamp water containing impurities, algae and plants as well as mosquito slough, larvae and eggs.” Furthermore, “the manufacturer, who has performed no clinical trials on this drug, declines all responsibility regarding its use.” No instructions are supplied, and the destination of the journey and duration of the stay are not taken into account.

Five days after returning to France with a fever (39°C), the patient sought medical advice from her homoeopath. Results of a blood smear test for malaria parasites were negative; haemoglobin concentration was 13.9 g/l and platelet count 160 000 per mm3. She took homoeopathic drugs with vitamins, and a few days later antibiotic treatment was started. Ten days after the first medical visit she felt worse. Her temperature had risen to 41°C and her haemoglobin concentration was 10.6 g/l and platelet count 66 000 per mm3. She was admitted to hospital, where she was investigated for bacterial infection but not malaria. Four days later she was admitted with neurological disorders to the intensive care unit at this hospital. An emergency search for malaria showed the presence of Plasmodium falciparum (parasitaemia 7%). For two months she received intensive care for multiple organ system failure due to P falciparum.

My own experience is that homeopathy is immensely popular in France, where there seem to be shops touting homéopathie on every street. The most notorious exponent of homeopathy in the late 20th century was Jacques Benveniste, who late in life came to propose that powers of homeopathy could be transmitted over the Internet.

Dying to Believe

Number 107 in a series

The depth of human folly seems to have no limits, and five hundred years of enlightenment have been for naught. Unsubstantiated belief remains the deadly sinkhole it always was:

Infection alert after dying Ebola patients taken to Congo prayer meeting

Fortunately for this country, our highest elected officials have grown past false belief. Wait! Never mind.

Dying to Believe

Number 106 in a series

A page on the What’s the Harm site is devoted to deaths related to homeopathy. A case in point is the death of Charles Levy:

Only one case that has come before the Arizona Board of Homeopathic Medical Examiners during the past five years has involved the death of a patient, but that 2001 decision to clear the doctor is still a contentious subject.

The board dismissed a complaint against Dr. Gabriel Cousens, a licensed homeopath who practices holistic medicine and runs a spa called the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia. The complaint alleged that an elderly patient died of a gas gangrene infection developed after Cousens repeatedly injected him with “bovine adrenal fluid” as a treatment for fatigue.

The family of the patient, Charles Levy of New York, sued Cousens for malpractice in Pima County Superior Court. The case was headed to trial when Cousens settled for an undisclosed amount of money paid to the family.

What a homeopathic practitioner is doing using an active medication is not clear. Homeopathy canonically involves dilution of active ingredients beyond the vanishing point. Either way, false belief has produced another death.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – number 105 in a series

Even in 21st century America, Jesus continues to take innocent lives. Most recently:

Jonathan Foster, 35, and Grace Foster, 34, also were convicted Friday in Berks County court of child endangerment in the November 2016 death of daughter Ella Grace in Upper Tulpehocken Township.

The parents of a 2-year-old Pennsylvania girl who died of pneumonia have been convicted of involuntary manslaughter after prosecutors said they declined to seek medical care for the child on religious grounds.

Jonathan Foster, 35, and Grace Foster, 34, also were convicted Friday in Berks County court of child endangerment in the November 2016 death of daughter Ella Grace in Upper Tulpehocken Township, The Reading Eagle reported.

This is not some Mississippi River Delta town, tucked away in a stand of yellow pines. Reading, PA, is the county seat, located a short drive north of Philadelphia. The child’s parents, who were trusted to ensure her development into a healthy adult, attributed her death to “God’s will,” meaning Jesus. May Jesus have mercy on their souls.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – number 104 in a series

Patients may die, but belief in phony cures has a life never ending.

How is it that in 2018 cancer Stanislaw Burzynski is still preying on desperate cancer patients? (Update)

May 3, 2018

A couple of days ago, I wondered how on earth cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski could still be operating as usual, luring the families of desperate cancer patients like an 11-year-old girl with medulloblastoma named Demi Knight. She is from Louth in Lincolnshire in the UK, and the false hope peddled by Burzynski led her family to launch a fundraising campaign to come up with £150,000 to pay for Burzynski’s “miracle cure” that isn’t known as antineoplastons (ANPs).

The family’s effort was aided and abetted by the UK press, specifically Rebecca Curley from The Sun, who did a story entitled RACE AGAINST TIME: Demi Knight’s desperate bid to raise £150k for US treatment after being struck down with brain cancer at 11 , Phoebe Southworth of The Daily Mail, whose story was entitled Devastated mother has race against time to raise £150,000 to take her 11-year-old daughter with cancer to America for potentially life-saving treatment, and James Silcocks of the Louth Leader, whose story is entitled ‘I will never give up on my daughter’: Louth family’s plea for £150,000 life-saving treatment. The stories are virtually indistinguishable from each other. All three portray the plight of Demi and the efforts of her mother Mel Knight to save her life as a human interest story in which the family is fighting against all odds to raise enough money to travel to Houston and be treated by Stanislaw Burzynski. In all three stories, the Burzynski Clinic is portrayed as Demi’s last hope for survival, rather than the quack cancer clinic that it is. In all three stories, an unnamed child with brain cancer who supposedly went to the Burzynski Clinic and survived is credulously repeated. In all three stories, link to the Knights’ GoFundMe page and Facebook page are included.

An update discloses the family has managed to raise £25,000, and they are awaiting their visas to allow them to travel to Texas. This is from a blogger who writes under the name Orac. He has this to  add:

And if that’s still not enough, Bob Blaskiewicz has chronicled many, many more stories of Burzynski’s preying on cancer patients. Through it all, I keep seeing horrible news stories about Burzynski, chock full of false balance.

Full disclosure: Bob Blaskiewicz is a Facebook “friend.”

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – number 103 in a series

Here is something to get this started:

Zicam is a branded series of products marketed for cold and allergy relief whose original formulations included the element zinc. The Zicam name is derived from a portmanteau of the words “zinc” and “ICAM-1” (the receptor to which a rhinovirus binds in order to infect cells). It is labelled as an “unapproved homeopathic” product.

And here’s the story:

Lisa Weatherington, a 50-year-old Army medical officer who lives in Bowie, is one of the 340 plaintiffs. Her case illustrates the difficulties inherent in determining what role, if any, Zicam played in her anosmia.

Weatherington said she used Zicam once two years ago to treat a burgeoning cold at the suggestion of her husband who said it worked for him. Seconds after spraying it, she recalled, she felt an intensely painful burning.

In early January 2004, Weatherington said, she realized she could no longer smell or taste anything. She said she called Matrixx to report the problem and was told the company had never heard of this problem — although the first report of ansomia after Zicam use appeared in a medical journal in 2000 and the first lawsuit was filed in October 2003. Matrixx declined to comment on her case citing the pending litigation.

Several doctors have told Weatherington she probably will never regain her sense of smell. Her superiors have told her the problem could hamper her military career because it will prevent her deployment to places where she would need to detect poisonous fumes.

“I love food and I used to love to cook for my family, ” said Weatherington who adds that she has gotten sick from eating spoiled shrimp she coudn’t smell. “Sometimes I just feel like crying.”

Robert I. Henkin, a neurologist who directs the Taste and Smell Clinic in Northwest Washington, said there’s no way to know for sure whether Weatherington, whom he is treating, lost her sense of smell because of a virus or because she used Zicam.

Does anybody want to take bets on that last statement?

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – number 101 in a series

Belief is strong. Death is forever.

Herbalist charged in death of diabetic boy treated with oils

POSTED 3:28 PM, MARCH 7, 2018, BY 

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles prosecutors have charged an herbalist in the 2014 death of a diabetic 13-year-old boy he treated with oils.

City Attorney Mike Feuer said Wednesday that Timothy Morrow practiced medicine without a license and committed child abuse causing death.

The image was previously used in an issue of The North Texas Skeptic.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – number 100 in a series

Most regrettably, we are carrying this travesty forward into yet another year.

 As Willie Hughes walked around the weathered plots and mounds of dirt at Peaceful Valley Cemetery, he remembered family that died too young and his brother Steven, who was born with spina bifida.

Steven never saw a doctor or physical therapist or used a wheelchair. He crawled around on his forearms and died of pneumonia at age 3.

“I remember his was the first body that I saw and touched. It was traumatic for a 4½ -year-old to see his little brother in a coffin. I can’t tell you how many dead bodies I’ve seen,” said Hughes, a Boise truck driver who grew up in the Followers of Christ church.

If you think Jesus saves, you need to visit places like Idaho.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – 99 in a series

When alternative medicine does not kill outright, it gives believers the opportunity to die with less dignity.

3-Bromopyruvate (3BP) has been hailed by some researchers as a potential breakthrough in cancer treatment, but there is no concrete clinical human trial data to support these claims beyond anecdotal evidence. Scientists have stated that the drug should not be administered to any patients except in carefully controlled experimental conditions.

German police took action on 4 August after two patients from the Netherlands and one from Belgium died following treatment at the Biological Cancer Centre in Brüggen, Germany. Police from each region have urged other patients treated at the centre to contact local health authorities, with at least 26 doing so.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – 98 in a series

Jesus welcomes you into his loving arms, for all eternity:

Pastor Gets 99 Years In Prison After Starving Child To Death During Exorcism

Should they all be so blessed.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – 97 in a series

Homeopathy, the treatment that involves no treatment, does not kill directly. It kills through neglect. Here is a story from Australia:

The latest case to come to media attention comes from down under – Penelope Dingle from Perth Australia, according to local news reports, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2003. Her doctors gave her a good chance of survival with standard therapy – surgery to remove the cancer, and chemotherapy to mop up any loose cells and reduce the risk of recurrence. It is not a pleasant prospect, but with modern care it’s not too bad, and it buys in many cases a greatly improved quality and duration of life. Penelope Dingle, however, chose to refuse all science-based treatment and opted instead for a regimen of diet and homeopathic treatment.

This is a case of an adult making the decision to die. Instances involving children are not only horrendous but also criminal.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – 96 in a series

Coffee Enemas. Really? Regular or decaf?

The Gerson Therapy strikes again. This from 20 years back:

Now Charles backs coffee cure for cancer

Angry doctors warn of dangers as Prince of Wales lends support to controversial alternative treatment. Health Editor Jo Revill reports
The mind of Bonnie Prince Charlie is frequently trotted out to illustrate the decline of a royal family. His fascination with things cranky is well appreciated. The above item is from The Guardian. It continues:

Prince Charles has never made a secret of his love affair with alternative medicine. Now he has infuriated the medical profession by backing a controversial cancer treatment which involves taking daily coffee enemas and drinking litres of fruit juice instead of using drugs. Charles gave an enthusiastic endorsement last week to the Gerson Therapy, which eschews chemotherapy in favour of 13 fruit juices a day, coffee enemas and weekly injections of vitamins.

Cancer specialists have told The Observer that there is no scientific basis for the theory and that it can be dangerous because patients who are seriously ill often come off their normal treatment to try something unproven which may leave them badly dehydrated.

One of Charlotte Gerson’s patients was Lady Baldwin:
Another of Charles’s associates, the hereditary peer and crossbencher Lord Baldwin of Bewdley, went to the Tijuana clinic in 1996 when his wife Sally was seriously ill with breast cancer. She spent eight weeks at the clinic, followed by another two years of using the regime at home. Her disease recurred and she died three years ago.
When Jesus is not around, there is always quack medicine ready to step up to the plate.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – 95 in a series

I came aware of the “Gerson protocol” in 1992 when Charlotte Gerson brought her medical show to Dallas. In the July issue of the newsletter of the North Texas Skeptics we published a story about my encounter, and I subsequently mentioned it in a post on this site:

Charlotte Gerson proposed such a cure over 20 years ago, and we had a look at her views back then:

Max Gerson seems to have been a very self-reliant man. At an early age he found he could cure his own migraine headaches by controlling his diet, and as a medical doctor he found diet to be a cure for a multitude of other complaints. The list is impressive. According to the flier distributed by the Gerson Institute, the Gerson Therapy can cure or prevent: cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, arthritis and “other diseases of civilization that kill and cripple us.” Just wait until the AMA hears about this.

Max’s daughter, Charlotte Gerson, is living proof of the effectiveness of the Therapy. At age seventy, she looks the picture of perfect health. Slim and vigorous and very neat looking with white hair and wearing white sandals and slacks with a blue blouse and a string of pearls. She looks the way you would like your grandmother to look (or the way you would hope your wife looks at that age). You would never believe that 58 years ago her father cured her of “incurable” bone tuberculosis. Indeed, the only sign of malady she exhibited (that could not be attributed to seventy years) was a “Band-Aid” patch on the middle finger of her right hand.

More recently I wondered whether this sham was still in business, and I found this;

The Gerson protocol, cancer, and the death of Jess Ainscough, a.k.a. “The Wellness Warrior”

David Gorski on March 2, 2015

Less than four days ago, a young Australian woman died of a very rare type of cancer. Most of my American and probably many of my European readers have never heard of her, but in Australia she had become quite famous over the last seven years as a major proponent of “natural health.” Her name was Jess Ainscough, but, like a certain American woman who has become famous for promoting dubious science, she was better known by her “brand” name. That brand name was The Wellness Warrior.

I first encountered Ms. Ainscough about a year and a half ago and have been intermittently following her career ever since. I’ve even blogged about her three or four times during that period over at my not-so-super-secret other blog. However, for whatever reason, even though it was my intent to write about her here on Science-Based Medicine, I never got around to it. Her death prodded me to write now, because her tale is a cautionary one important enough that I believe there should be something written here about it. Given that, those of you who follow my cubical other self will find some of this post repetitive. However, think of it as the first opportunity I’ve had to tell the story from beginning to end, along with a major deconstruction of the Gerson protocol. (Yes, unfortunately the Gerson protocol figures heavily in this story.) It’s a story that has led to the deaths of at least two people, and whose harm to others is impossible to quantify, given that the reach of The Wellness Warrior was long, at least in Australia.

Apparently the plague lives on. Back in 1992 I had this to say:

Max Gerson seems to have been a very self-reliant man. At an early age he found he could cure his own migraine headaches by controlling his diet, and as a medical doctor he found diet to be a cure for a multitude of other complaints. The list is impressive. According to the flier distributed by the Gerson Institute, the Gerson Therapy can cure or prevent: cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, arthritis and “other diseases of civilization that kill and cripple us.” Just wait until the AMA hears about this.

Max’s daughter, Charlotte Gerson, is living proof of the effectiveness of the Therapy. At age seventy, she looks the picture of perfect health. Slim and vigorous and very neat looking with white hair and wearing white sandals and slacks with a blue blouse and a string of pearls. She looks the way you would like your grandmother to look (or the way you would hope your wife looks at that age). You would never believe that 58 years ago her father cured her of “incurable” bone tuberculosis. Indeed, the only sign of malady she exhibited (that could not be attributed to seventy years) was a “Band-Aid” patch on the middle finger of her right hand.

Charlotte Gerson was looking good 26 years ago, and apparently as of last year she was still going strong.

Happy 95th Birthday Charlotte!

As for Jess Ainscough, not so much.