Autism Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine News of the Weird Quackery

Thar’s gold in that thar chelation!

One of the common refrains you’ll hear from alties about “conventional” medicine is that it’s a business, that it’s all about money. Never mind that, for instance, it’s not uncommon for primary care doctors like family practice and pediatricians to net well under $100,000 a year and that many physicians are struggling to maintain their practices, squeezed between lower reimbursements and higher office expenses. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not claiming that most doctors aren’t making a comfortable living. Most are. Some even do quite well, particularly procedure-intensive specialties, although the crappy reimbursement for bread-and-butter operations like hernia repairs means that a lot of general surgeons are being squeezed too. In contrast, if you live in altie-world, all “allopathic” doctors live in mansions, drive only the priciest BMWs, Mercedes, and other luxuryc cars, own yachts, and eat caviar every night. (OK, that last one is an exaggeration, even in altie-world.)

In contrast, the poor, dedicated naturopath or alternative medical physician seeks only to bring his or her healing to the masses. Money doesn’t matter, and they only charge enough to make a modest income. At least, so the clichė, which I’ve heard over and over and over, seems to go. Apparently Dr. Kalpana Patel didn’t get the message:

The investor who lost the most money in the Al Parish investment collapse is a doctor from Buffalo, N.Y.

The $30 million in savings that Dr. Kalpana Patel entrusted to him appears to be about half the total cash lost.

If the accounting is correct, the losses sustained by the 62-year-old allergist would dwarf the $8.4 million in cash turned over by Parish’s bosses at Charleston Southern University seeking what the former professor advertised as explosive returns.

Wow. How many doctors can afford to invest $30 million in anything? While I feel bad for anyone who gets swindled, I have to wonder. Moreover, she thought she had a much bigger portfolio:

“That’s $30 million cold, hard cash,” Dantzler said.

“In her mind, it’s not a $30 million loss, but a $200 million loss,” he said, referring to the amount that she believed was in her portfolio.

In court last week, Dantzler described the investor as a woman “on the cusp of retirement” from a lucrative career.

I’ll say!

So, you may wonder, how could an allergist manage to amass that much green stuff to be able to lose? Here’s one indication:

Patel was with patients and unavailable for comment Friday, said an assistant who answered her business phone. Her specialties include pediatrics, environmental medicine and chelation therapy, a treatment for heavy metal poisoning.

Chelation therapy? Do tell. What other services does Dr. Patel offer? Inquiring minds want to know! A Google search was all it took to find her home page, where she describes her practice thusly:

Unique facility, less toxic environment, ideal place for young and old. We provide comprehensive treatment including therapy for ADD, Autism, Parkinson’s, Early Alzheimers, sauna, Detoxification, O2, Dry Eye Syndrome, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Macular Degeneration, and Tourette’s Syndrome. We incorporate ancient medicine, wisdom, and scientific advances.

And here’s a list of some of the “services” she offers:

Allergy Medicine

Energy Medicine

Anti-aging Medicine

Environmental Medicine

Applied Kinesiology

Enzyme Therapy

Ayurvedic Medicine

Herbal Medicine


Holistic Medicine

Bio-oxidative Medicine




Biological and Mercury Free Dentistry

Metabolic Medicine

Chelation Therapy

Neural Therapy


Nutritional Medicine

Diet Therapy

Orthomolecular Medicine


Preventive Medicine

Homeopathy, chelation therapy, detoxification, energy medicine, it’s a veritable cornucopia of woo. There’s even a type of woo that I’d never heard of before, and, knowing my interest in these topics, you probably are amazed that there’s any woo that I hadn’t heard of. I’m referring to “neural therapy.”

Here’s something that’s even more interesting, though: Apparently, Dr. Patel is a DAN! doctor. This means that she treats autistic children with all sorts of “biomedical interventions” of dubious or no value, including chelation therapy, transfer factor, secretin, and intravenous immunoglobulin, among others. It would appear that she’s making a very nice living off of (in part) the parents of autistic children who are desperate enough to try these unproven and likely ineffective “treatments.”

So, to all the alt-med mavens out there: If “allopathic” physicians are, as I’ve been accused of on occasion, of “profiting off of the illness” of their patients, what is Dr. Patel, who’s amassed a portfolio far greater than what all but a few “allopathic” physicians can dream of, a portfolio apparently so large that losing $30 million of “cold, hard cash” in a stock investment scam apparently didn’t bankrupt her, doing? Let me guess the answer: “Allopathic” doctors are “profiting” off the suffering of their patients and perpetuate that suffering, while “holistic” doctors like Dr. Patel are “treating the whole patient” and “curing” their patient; so it’s not troublesome that the latter can apparently amass a fortune worth at least several tens of millions of dollars. Of course, far be it from me to ask: If Dr. Patel was in it for altruism, why on earth was she pursuing dubious investment schemes promising impossibly high rates of return (Parish even invested in animation cells, fer cryin’ out loud!) and why didn’t she cash in her portfolio when she thought it had reacedh $200 million?

I tell ya, I’m in the wrong business.

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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