Cancer Complementary and alternative medicine Friday Woo Medicine Skepticism/critical thinking

Your Friday Dose of Woo: The Iron Rule of German New Medicine

No, I’m not talking about “Iron Justice,” a guy who regularly posts to and seems obsessed with iron metabolism as the be-all and end-all of health and disease, with a particular affinity for iron overload as the cause of seemingly all disease, although he might make an amusing target at some point in the future. This time, it’s something different. This week, as every week since inaugurating Your Friday Dose of Woo, I was sitting back, contemplating what flavor of woo I should have a little fun with. As is often the case, it was hard. No, it wasn’t hard because of lack of ideas; it was hard because there are just too many potential targets out there. Even though YFDoW has been in existence since June, there’s still plenty of woo out there to deal with, probably an unending supply such that I don’t see retiring YFDoW due to repetition for a long time.

In any case, it quickly became apparent that, given my recent piece about how easy nonmedical exemptions lead to decreased vaccination rates and increased rates of pertussis, there was really only one topic that I could take on this week. I realized this after I had read a bit more about the woo embodied in an offhand comment I made about an altie concept that diseases aren’t dangerous in and of themselves but that rather they are the manifestation of some sort of “imbalance” or conflict that must be resolved. In fact, what else could be the topic this week but German New Medicine in general and the Iron Rule of Cancer in particular?

The first thought that occurs to me (and, I’m sure, others) is: What the heck is it with Germans and “iron”? I mean, we have “iron will” and, as a military decoration, the Iron Cross. Now we have the “iron rule” of cancer from the “German New Medicine.” I tell you, if I wouldn’t be accused of having been a victim of a certain undead Führer, you know what kind of jokes I’d be making about all this. It’s even more difficult given the well-known support for naturopathy and alternative medicine (i.e., “volkish” medicine) shown by the Nazi regime, a topic I’ve been meaning to write about for a long time, mainly because it’s an interesting historical oddity. (Stay tuned; I’ll get around to it someday.) And, yes, I know I managed to slip a little Nazi analogy in there while denying that’s what I did. But, hey, given something like “German New Medicine” and “iron rules,” it’s damned hard to resist; so I hope you’ll forgive me.

So what is this German New Medicine? Well, it appears to be a Theory of Everything Medical:

THE GERMAN NEW MEDICINE provides us with illuminating explanations about the origin, development and healing of both physical and mental disorders. In 1981, Dr. Hamer discovered that every DISEASE is caused by a shock experience that catches us completely off guard. He found that this shock not only occurs in the psyche but simultaneously in the brain and on the organ level. At the moment the unexpected trauma takes place the shock impacts a specific area in the brain causing a lesion that is clearly visible on a brain scan as a set of sharp concentric rings. With the impact the affected brain cells communicate the disturbance to the corresponding organ. Whether the organ responds with a tumor growth (cancer), with tissue degeneration, or with functional loss, is determined by the exact type of conflict shock. Based on the analysis of over 40,000 case studies Dr. Hamer is the first to provide scientific proof that cancer is not caused by a malfunctioning organism producing deadly cancer cells but is rather the result of an innate meaningful survival program that has been successfully practiced for millions of years. Since HEALING can only occur after the conflict has been resolved, the GNM-therapy focuses on identifying and resolving the original conflict. By understanding healing symptoms such as painful swelling, infections, fever, or inflammation in their psychological, biological and evolutionary context, we are able to liberate ourselves from the fear and panic that often come with the onset of an illness. Dr. Hamer’s findings offer a completely new understanding of so-called diseases. His scientific discoveries revolutionize entirely our view of medical conditions and their causes.

Oooh, boy. So much woo in such a concentrated form. But, believe it or not, there’s more:

The German New Medicine presents a comprehensive system that allows us to understand what type of conflict causes the onset of a particular disease, how the disease manifests itself in the conflict active phase, what can be expected in the healing phase, and how all the developments are connected to the brain, verifiable with a brain scan.

The German New Medicine is a natural science, based on FIVE empirically disovered BIOLOGICAL LAWS that apply, in a strong scientific sense, to each and every case of disease of man and mammal.

Why five BIOLOGICAL LAWS? (And in all capital letters, yet?) Why not four? Or six? It reminds me of the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail about the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, with a little change:

… And the Lord spake, saying, “First shalt thou take out the Unholy Conventional Medicine. Then, shalt thou come up with five laws. No more, no less. Five shall be the number of laws thou shalt find, and the number of the laws shall be five. Six shalt thou not find, neither find thou four, excepting that thou then proceed to Five. Seven is right out. Once the number Five, being the fifth number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy BIOLOGICAL LAWS towards cancer thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.” Amen.

Yes, I can see it now, except with German accents.

So what are these “laws”? Well, let’s look at the Iron Rule of Cancer. Naturally, it’s subdivided into three criteria:

  1. Every cancer or cancer-equivalent disease originates from a DHS (Dirk Hamer Syndrome), which is a serious, highly acute, dramatic and isolating shock that catches an individual completely off guard. The conflict shock occurs simultaneously in the psyche, the brain and the corresponding organ.
  2. At the moment of the DHS, the content(s) of the conflict determine the location of the Hamer Focus in the brain and the location of the cancer or cancer-equivalent disease in the organ.
  3. The development of the conflict determines the exact development of the Hamer Focus in the brain as well as the exact development of the cancer or cancer-equivalent disease in the organ.

In case you’re curious, the creator of this woo, Dr. Ryke Geerd Hamer, named the DHS after his son, Dirk. You see, Dr. Hamer’s son was tragically shot in his sleep by Vittorio Emanuel, the last crown prince of Italy. After a prolonged course requiring multiple operations, his son unfotunately succumbed to his wounds. Three years later, Hamer developed testicular cancer. So, in a perfect case of post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning, Hamer decided that it must have been the psychic shock of his son’s death that caused his cancer. Forget about all that molecular biology. Forget about oncogenes and tumor suppressors. Forget about increased mutation rates. Forget about all that. Dr. Hamer is here to tell you that it’s “Hamer-time.” (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) In actuality, he’s here to tell you that all that we think we know about the pathogenesis of cancer is wrong. Cancer is really due to a “psychic shock,” not genetic alterations in cells that lead to uncontrolled proliferation. What about cancer patients who have lived happy lives devoid of “highly acute, dramatic, and isolating shocks”? There’s no such person. If you search back far enough, you could probably find such a shock, and if that fails you could alway postulate some sort of birth trauma. I don’t mean to minimize the tragedy that Dr. Hamer must have suffered because of the shooting of his son and the fact that the killer got off with a slap on the wrist because of his title and wealth , nor am I claiming that mental stress doesn’t contribute to disease, but Hamer took his tragic personal experience and generalized it to a ridiculous extreme, even to the point of basing rather arrogantly-named “biological laws” on it.

Of course, if you don’t believe this, Hamer conveniently claims that you can even see evidence of this “psychic conflict” on head CTs:

At the very moment of the DHS the conflict shock strikes a specific area in the brain causing a lesion that is clearly visible on a brain computer tomography (CT) as a set of sharp concentric rings. Such a ringed lesion is called a Hamer Focus (German: Hamerscher Herd; the term was actually coined by Dr. Hamers opponents who mockingly named the ring formations “the dubious Hamer Foci”).

Before Dr. Hamer identified these ringed lesions in the brain, radiologists considered them as artifacts created by a glitch in the machine. But Siemens, a manufacturer of computer tomography equipment, certified that these target lesions can not be artifacts because even when the tomography is repeated and taken from different angles, the same ring formation always appears in the same location.

I’m not a radiologist, and the image shown is a bit small to make any definite statements, but it looks a lot to me like your basic CT artifact. One also has to wonder: If this were real, why has no other physician or investigator reported finding similar lesions in cancer patients? Is Hamer so much more brilliant than everyone else?

Of course, no good piece of cancer woo would be complete without its creator telling us “conventional” types that we have it all wrong about some key aspect of cancer. Not content to tell us that we have no idea what we’re talking about regarding the pathogenesis of cancer, he tells us that we also have no clue about the real reason for cancer metastasis:

The standard metastasis theory suggests that cancer cells of a primary tumor travel via the blood stream or the lymph system to other parts of the body where they cause a cancerous growth at a new site (theoretically, this assumption would imply a potential risk of contracting cancer through a blood transfusion). The New Medicine does not dispute the fact of secondary and third cancers. However, according to the Five Biological Laws, second and third cancers are not the result of migrating cancer cells but of a second or third DHS, often triggered by a diagnosis or prognosis shock that puts the individual into total panic, causing a new conflict or even several new conflicts leading to additional cancers. For example, a cancer diagnosis shock can trigger a “death fright conflict” leading to the development of lung cancer.

Well, I guess that means you smokers out there don’t need to worry about quitting. According to this, smoking doesn’t cause cancer; your psychic traumas do. You know, by that rationale, you could argue that the psychic trauma of trying to quit and failing might be the real cause of the lung cancer you get, nto cigarettes. So smoke ’em if you got ’em!

We also know from the science of histology that cancer cells can not mutate into another cell type; they can never cross the germ layer threshold or change their histological structure. Cancer cells that grow in the colon and belong to the endoderm (directed from the brain stem) can, under no circumstances, transform into bone cells that originate from the new brain mesoderm (directed from the cerebral medulla). In other words: colon cancer can never “spread” to the bones.

Gee, tell that to colon and breast cancer patients who are unfortunate enough to develop bone metastases, which, particularly in breast cancer patients, can be the cause of untold misery before advanced disease ends their lives. Hamer is so full of bovine feces here that I find it hard not to start to drop the lighthearted tone that you expect from YFDoW. But it gets worse:

However, a cancer patient who feels suddenly devalued because of being ill (“I am not worth anything”, “I am useless”), can suffer a self-devaluation conflict resulting in bone cancer. If the self-devaluation is less severe, the lymph nodes will most likely be affected. Thus, a woman who experiences a breast cancer diagnosis shock or suffers a loss of self-worth after a breast amputation often develops lymphoma close to the site where she has the tumor. Thanks to the New Medicine, we now begin to understand why statistically woman with breast cancer frequently get this type of second cancer.

No, we understand no such thing. Although women can get secondary malignancies (among which are lymphomas) after breast cancer treatment, usually as a consequence of the radiation and chemotherapy, that’s a fairly uncommon occurence and usually takes decades after treatment. In any case, it’s usually the other way around: Women getting breast cancer after radiation therapy for lymphoma in the chest as a child or young woman, a somewhat more common complication.

By the way, I forgot to mention that the above is part of the Third Biological Law. Obviously, the intensity of Hamer’s woo has led me to get ahead of things. Let’s go back to the Second Biological Law, which states: “Every disease runs in two phases provided there is a resolution of the conflict.” The consequence is:

The therapeutic focus of the New Medicine is to identify the original DHS and to find a solution to the conflict that is as real and as practical as possible. For example, a man who lost his business and suffers a territorial loss must find a new occupation; the shock from an unexpected early retirement could be resolved by establishing a new “domain”, such as by joining a club or taking up a neglected hobby. As soon as the conflict is resolved, healing runs its natural course.

Is this guy really saying that, for example, if a new retiree was forced out of his job and then later develops colon cancer, his colon cancer could be cured just by finding him a hobby or other productive way to spend his time? How nice. I guess that would put us surgeons out of business, given that most colon cancer is cured by surgery. More likely, if you tried to use that concept to treat GI malignancies it would give us more of the business that we really don’t like: malignant bowel obstructions that require urgent, rather than elective, surgery, with a resultant decrease in cure rates and increase in complications.

I can’t take it anymore; so let’s move on to the Fourth Biological Law, which supposedly addresses the role of microbes in disease and evolution, but for the life of me I can’t figure out exactly what the heck Dr. Hamer is saying about disease. Let’s whittle it down to two sections:

When our organs developed over the course of evolution, very specific types of microbes developed with them. The biological purpose of the billions of micro-organisms that inhabit our body is to maintain all the different tissues and keep them in a healthy state. Given the purposeful co-existence of man and microbes, the New Medicine identifies fungi, bacteria or viruses as loyal helpers that are indispensable for our survival.

It is the discovery of the New Medicine that microbes become without exception only active in the healing phase. In the phase of Normotonia as well as in the conflict active phase they are dormant and do not cause any infection. But at the moment of the conflict resolution, they receive a signal from the brain to start the work that was assigned to them. Pathogenic (active) microbes are totally harmless to all other organs.


It is true that microbes are present in infectious diseases, but it is not the microbes that cause the disease. On the contrary, our organism uses the microbes to optimize the healing process. It is also true that microbes can be transmitted, but they stay inactive as long as we are not in the healing phase of the appropriate conflict.

Ah, so all of those pathogenic bacteria? Don’t worry about them. They only work for your good. So, if you have a big abscess, a gangrenous foot, pneumonia, AIDS, or hepatitis C, it’s just your body using bacteria or viruses to “optimize the healing process.” You don’t need antibiotics or antiviral drugs. If you die in the process, it just means that you weren’t able “resolve your inner conflict.”

Bullshit. (Sorry. There’s just no other way to describe this woo.) Especially this part about microbes:

Fungi and myco-bacteria (yellow group) are the oldest microbes. They exclusively work on organs and tissues that originate from the endoderm and are directed from the brain stem. Fungi like Candida or myco-bacteria like tubercular bacteria are the “destruction crew”. They decompose tumors such as colon tumors, lung tumors, kidney tumors, or liver tumor. During the healing phase they break down the extra cells that are no longer needed. Usually, this decomposing process is accompanied with fever and night sweats. What makes myco-bacteria remarkable is that they start to multiply immediately at the moment of the conflict shock. They multiply at a rate which parallels the growing tumor. The moment the conflict is resolved, the exact amount of tubercular bacteria is available that is necessary to decompose the tumor cells. If the microbes are absent because, for example, they were eradicated through vaccination, the tumor will be encapsulated in scar tissue and stays in place with no further cell augmentation. In this case the tumor will be viewed as “benign”.

Bacteria (orange group) inhabited the organs and tissues that derive from the mesoderm directed from the cerebellum (old brain mesoderm) or the cerebral medulla (new brain mesoderm). Bacteria are the “cleanup-workers. In old brain mesodermal tissue they decompose tumors such as glandular breast tumors or melanoma, and assist by clearing away the remnants. Bacteria also help to restore the tissue by forming abscesses that will be filled with scar tissue. In new brain mesodermal tissue, bacteria such as staphylococcus bacteria fill the gaps in the bone that were caused by the meltdown of callus cells and reconstruct the bone with granulating callus forming tissue. During the healing phase, bacteria also rebuild the cell loss (necrosis) of ovarian or testicular tissue.

Viruses (red group) are the youngest microbes. They exclusively work on tissue that derives from the ectoderm and is controlled from the cerebral cortex, e.g. the epidermis, the cervix, the intra-hepatic bile ducts, the mucous membrane of the stomach, the bronchia or the nose. Viruses are the “reconstruction workers”. They replenish the tissue that was lost during the preceding ulceration process. While old brain directed myco-bacteria start to multiply immediately with the onset of the conflict active phase, viruses start to divide and to become active only upon the resolution of the conflict. With viruses involved the healing phase is more dramatic, often accompanied with fever and inflammation. Examples for viruses at work are: pneumonia, hepatitis, herpes, or the “flu. If the necessary viruses are absent, healing still occurs but not to a biologically optimum degree.

Like tumor cells, microbes never cross the germ layer threshold (diagram). For example: pneumonia viruses only work on bronchial tissue which originates from the ectoderm and is controlled from the cerebral cortex, while tubercular bacteria are specialized to operate exclusively on lung alveoli tissue that originates from the endoderm and is directed from the brain stem. That is why we will never find tuberculosis in the bronchia.

Uh, no. Just one example: Tuberculosis can infect many organs and sites and not just ectodermally derived tissues, including lungs, kidneys, the meninges (lining of the brain), and bones and joints (which, happen to be derived from mesoderm, by the way). It is also not true that you don’t find tuberculosis in the bronchi.

But the bottom line for Hamer is the Fifth Biological Law, and, if you’ve been paying attention to altie concepts, you will realize that this “Law” echoes so much altie woo that you have to wonder if Dr. Hamer thought of it himself or simply synthesized many varieties of woo into a single concise statement that seems to sum up huge swaths of alternative medicine:

The Quintessence

Every so-called disease has to be understood as a Meaningful Special Biological Program of Nature created to solve an unexpected biological conflict.

Every “so-called disease”? Yes, indeed. Listen to Dr. Hamer:

All so-called diseases have a special biological meaning … While we used to regard Mother Nature as fallible and had the audacity to believe that she constantly made mistakes and caused breakdowns (malignant, senseless, degenerative cancerous growths, etc.) we can now see, as the scales fall from our eyes, that it was our ignorance and pride that were and are the only foolishness in our cosmos. We could not understand such a ‘sewn up’ totality, and so brought upon ourselves this senseless, soulless and brutal medicine. Full of wonder, we can now understand for the first time that nature is orderly (we already knew that), and every occurrence in nature is meaningful, even in the framework of the whole, and that the events we called ‘diseases’ are not senseless disturbances to be repaired by sorcerers’ apprentices. We can see that nothing is meaningless, malignant or diseased.

This feeds in to what I’ve always thought. Altie beliefs seem to demand some sort of “meaning.” The cancer patient, when faced with the horror of his or her disease, will rail against the unfairness of it all. And indeed it isn’t fair. It isn’t fair at all. Cancer sucks. Regardless of the type of cancer, it’s a horrible, nasty disease, and some varieties are particularly deadly. But life itself isn’t fair. Sadly, bad things (like cancer or other life-threatening diseases) happen to good people. Personally, I don’t see much difference between the woo above, in which all diseases are postulated to have a “special biological meaning” where the symptoms are the result of an inner mental conflict and the beliefs expressed by many religious people that bad things (like being afflicted with a horrible disease like cancer, whatever type) must be the result of a “higher purpose,” that they must serve a “greater good.” The only difference is that Hamer has replaced the appeal to an unknown and unknowable “meaning” dictated by God with an appeal to a greater “meaning” dictated by Nature.

The hope that one’s suffering is all in the service of a greater good may well help many people deal with cancer or other life-threatening or debilitating diseases, but it’s not such a good idea as the basis of medicine, whether “New German” or otherwise.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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